The little coenzyme that could: why CoQ10 is so important for your health

The human body needs many microscopic – and even smaller – entities within it to function correctly and help keep us healthy throughout our lives. But one such molecule that doesn’t get talked about much that’s absolutely crucial to both animals (including humans) and plants, thus of universal importance to pretty much all living things, is the coenzyme.

Sometimes referred to as cosubstrates, coenzymes – it should be noted – are not actually enzymes. As organic nonprotein cofactors, they’re critical in ensuring that enzymatic and metabolic processes in the body take place as they should. They do this by loosely attaching themselves to enzymes that are inactive – often called apoenzymes – to convert them into active forms and so become capable of catalysing chemical reactions (if you like, a bit like using a key on a lock), including the breaking down of food, thus resulting in the release of energy usable by the body’s cells. Moreover, coenzymes enjoy an important, rather cosy relationship with vitamins; the latter make sure that the former can be synthesised, therefore underlining the necessity to up the levels of vitamins in your body should they be low.

 

How do coenzymes work?

So, if you didn’t already, you now know what coenzymes do – but how do they do it? Well, they’re far from a one-trick pony; each coenzyme that attaches itself to an apoenzyme then detaches itself from the resultant enzyme once this biochemical reaction’s taken place, ensuring they can repeat this highly important process as cofactors with other apoenzyme/ enzymes over again.

Indeed, another reason the relationship between coenzymes and enzymes is so fundamentally important is because the former aid the transfer of compounds between different enzymes. This is crucial because each time there’s a necessary chemical reaction involving an enzyme, the molecule itself fundamentally changes, so the coenzyme helps ensure all enzymes can interact with each other. In so doing, coenzymes guarantee that competitive inhibition takes place, which is all about restricting enzymes’ activity so they’re not over-busy; doing things in the body when they don’t need to and thus causing problems1 – basically, competitive inhibition sees a coenzyme helping to attract and repel different compounds to and from a specific enzyme.

 

The qualities of CoQ10

Quite simply then, without an adequate number of coenzymes present and functioning in your body, it’ll detrimentally affect your health. By playing such a large role in the transfer of chemical compounds (or more specifically ‘functional groups’; the active sections of these compounds), they make sure that critical components like electrons, hydrogens and food (energy) are delivered to the body’s enzymes as they’re needed, thus often enhancing the stability/ reactivity of an enzyme’s product2, 3. Indeed, there’s also a critical symbiotic relationship between coenzymes and vitamins. Not only are the two kinds of molecule similar, but a good number of the vitamins we consume – or should consume, at least –are literally converted into all-important coenzymes. Just another reason then, like so many others pointed out so regularly on this blog, why it’s hugely important to put a vitamin deficiency right, should you suffer from one.

And, to focus on one coenzyme in particular (and its specific importance to the body’s health), one of the most frequently consumed in the body – Coenzyme Q10, or simply CoQ10 – isn’t just so useful because it aids the work and efficacy of enzymes in producing energy for cell growth and maintenance, but also because it functions extremely well as an antioxidant, thus preventing the harmful oxidation efforts on other much-needed molecules by free radicals. In this way, CoQ10’s been said to play a contributory role in preventing and/ or helping to treat the likes of heart failure, muscular dystrophy, periodontal disease and even cancer. As such, it’s proving ever more popular as a treatment to reduce the negative effects some synthetically produced medicines can have on muscles, the heart and other organs, as well as to boost energy and recovery following exercise.

 

Have you thought about Coenzyme Q10 supplements?

So, although they operate at that tiny molecular level, the much-needed activity of CoQ10 and other coenzymes resonates throughout the entire human body. There can be no doubt that maintaining their levels – and those of their precursor vitamins – in your body is critically important; otherwise such deficiencies can result in nasty and preventable conditions and, irrespective of how these begin, you won’t be able to fight them effectively if your body’s not awash with an adequate number of vitamins and coenzymes.

CoQ10 itself can be naturally sourced in a wide array of different foods; if you’re a vegetarian, you can get your fill of it from foodstuffs other than meat very effectively; the likes of mackerel and sardines (should you eat fish) or, failing that, peanuts, differing tree nuts, beans and soy oil. It’s important, though, that you focus on consuming the most active form of coenzymes – CoQ10 included – as possible, so to be sure of doing so you may be inclined to go the natural supplementation route. A good guide to the sort of products available can be found on The Finchley Clinic’s CoQ10 page, where you’ll find the following highly recommended supplements:

Liposomal Q10 – a supplement manufactured with Liposomal Encapsulation Technology (LET), which ensures its CoQ10 boasts much higher bioavailability than many equivalent products, thus delivering higher content of the coenzyme to the body’s cells (as much as 7-10 times more than regular supplements, in fact).

True Food Maxi Q10 – contains CoQ10-enriched Saccharomyces cerevisiae (food yeast), ensuring it can be easily digested and absorbed for high bioavailability; this supplement’s CoQ10 content is also noted to remain in the body longer than that of many comparative products.

Microcell CoQ10 – the CoQ10 and additional oils in this supplement are micellised into droplets, thus dispersed into water to increase absorption in the body, while also encased in a vegetable capsule to help reduce light-sensitive oxidation.

 

References:

  1. University of Hawaii. ‘Biochemistry’. http://www2.hawaii.edu/~johnb/micro/m130/m130lect7.html. n.p.
  2. Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. ‘What is a Functional Group?’. UCLA. http://www.chem.ucla.edu/~harding/notes/FG_01.pdf. n.p.
  3. Linus Pauling Institute. ‘Vitamin C and Skin Health’. Oregon State University. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-C. n.p.

Restore – the supplement that boosts healthy gut flora… and more!

 

 

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll have doubtless come across the claim that it’s of paramount importance to ensure the environment in your intestines – or, rather, your gut – is healthy. Its diversity must be strong. And that means that, among the 100 billion bacteria it ought to be home to, it should have a healthy balance of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria; that’s to say, the bad bacteria shouldn’t have the upper hand.

Otherwise, harmful, debilitating and long-term conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gluten allergies and obesity can take hold. There’s even debate that the seemingly ever-growing number of autism cases as well as Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis may, in part, be caused by an unhealthy gut lacking in diversity1. And with both willing and unwilling consumption of the likes of antibiotics, pesticides and genetically-modified (GMO) foods often to blame for an unhealthy gut2, it’s a serious and an all too common problem. So, in more detail, why don’t we take a look at some of the biggest and most obvious reasons for ensuring your gut flora remains healthy?

 

Healthy gut flora benefits

Unfortunately, a lack of healthy diversity in the gut could lead to a worse intestinal-focused complaint than IBS; it could also help bring about Crohn’s disease. Healthy flora then, by contrast, is an excellent insurance policy against developing Crohn’s, a long-term illness that afflicts people with inflammation of the digestive system’s lining. Indeed, research has linked inflammation levels among Crohn’s sufferers with an overabundance of specifically harmful bacteria types in their intestines3. That said, in addition to reducing the chances your body will experience serious gastrointestinal issues, a balanced and healthy gut flora does a pretty simple, positive thing – it helps with your general digestion.

Recent research seems to proves this fact, suggesting a diverse microbiome contributes to intestinal integrity4, which means it aids in the gut choosing to allow only non-harmful contents to pass elsewhere into the body where they’ll do good (such as providing food to be transformed into energy for cells) and aids it ensuring non-useful, potentially dangerous contents are harmlessly transported to the excretory system.

Meanwhile, experts are slowly unearthing the complex gut-brain connection and appear to have discovered there may be a link, as mentioned, between intestinal health and autism, with a by-product of certain gut-focused treatments being that, in boosting bacteria levels, they maybe help the condition of autistic children5, 6. Furthermore, other research suggests healthy gut flora contributes positively in combating depression and anxiety7.

 

How to restore your gut flora

So much for the benefits of restoring your gut flora to its healthiest possible balance and diversity, but how do you actually do it? Well, it’s true that there are an awful lot of naturally-derived supplements on the market that claim to do just that – and a number of them are certainly effective. Indeed, terms you’ve probably heard used to describe such products are ‘probiotics’ and ‘prebiotics’. To be clear, they’re not the same thing.

Probiotics specifically add to the ‘good’ or ‘healthy’ bacteria in the intestinal tract, in order to help balance out the gut flora (thus reducing the dominance of ‘bad’ bacteria and similarly harmful toxins); prebiotics are fibres that, once consumed, act as food for probiotics in the gut, enabling the latter to survive, grow and multiply. All very good, but it’s fair to point out that, as gut-focused supplements, probiotics and prebiotics do have drawbacks – there are some things they’re not so adept at.

First up, probiotics certainly do boost numbers of ‘good bacteria’ in the intestines, but many of the probiotic supplements available will provide around 30 additional strains of gut bacteria, the problem being then this could lead to a ‘monoculture’ of just a few probiotic strains in your gut. The reality is your intestinal tract requires between 20,000 and 30,000 of them to be properly healthy and, thus, functioning as effectively as possible.

Moreover, prebiotics (although definitely helping to support an injured gut in the work they do) are unfortunately, like too many probiotic products, unable to address the all-important ‘tight junctions’ in the gut wall. All-important? Yes; if these junctions become too loose damaging toxins can pass through the gut and elsewhere into the body, harming the immune system especially. In which case, what you may feel you really need is a supplement that works to boost the gut flora productively (and in great, healthy numbers) and works to strengthen the lining of the gut wall at the same time.

 

Restore – neither a probiotic nor a prebiotic

The answer to getting your gut ecosystem right while tightening those intestinal wall junctions could just lie in a product named Restore (for Gut Health). Developed in the United States by a team of leading scientists headed by endocrinologist Dr Zach Bush, it’s a plant-derived, fluid-based supplement that, indeed, seeks to do what neither probiotics nor prebiotics – nor pretty much any other supplements – can.

And it does this because it enables clear and decisive ‘communication’ between the bacteria of the gut flora, establishing a highly effective communication network here that ensures the whole microbiome comes together to work as it should. Indeed, bacteria effectively communicate in a similar way to the body’s cells – by moving patterns of charges (referred to as redox signalling). Restore’s all about enabling this to take place; operating as something of a ‘liquid switchboard’, if you will, promoting balance, regulation, improved hydration and nutrition in the gut.

The pivotal ingredient in Restore that ensures it can do this work is lignite extract. Naturally derived from lignite – or brown coal – a sedimentary rock formed over thousands of years from prehistoric peat, it’s therefore absolutely abundant in nutrients, not least the mineral carbon which, among other things, has the ability to bind to toxins in the intestinal tract; thereby ensuring they pass safely through the system and can’t escape, meaning there’s no chance of them damaging the immune system and more within the wider body.

So, for more information and the opportunity to purchase Restore from us at The Finchley Clinic, take a look at the supplement in its different dosage options below – you’ll also discover that should you wish to buy it from us, you can save money because it’s currently on special offer:

Restore (32 fl oz)

Restore (16 fl oz)

Restore (8 fl oz)

Restore (3 fl oz/ trial/ travel size)

 

References:

  1. Bhattacharjee S. and Lukiw W. J. ‘Alzheimer’s disease and the microbiome’. Front Cell Neurosci. 2013; 7: 153. 2013 Sep. doi:  10.3389/fncel.2013.00153.
  2. Johnston K. ‘Endangered Species: Your Gut Flora’. Epoch Times. https://www.theepochtimes.com/endangered-species-your-gut-flora_345941.html. Last update 5 Nov 2013.
  3. Gevers D. et al. ‘The Treatment-Naive Microbiome in New-Onset Crohn’s Disease’. Cell Host & Microbe. 2014 Mar; 15 (3) 382-92. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chom.2014.02.005.
  4. Christensen E. G., Licht T. R., Leser T. D. and Bahl M. I. ‘Dietary xylo-oligosaccharide stimulates intestinal bifidobacteria and lactobacilli but has limited effect on intestinal integrity in rats’. BMC Res Notes. 2014 Sep; 19 (7): 660. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-7-660.
  5. Kang D-W., Park J. G., Ilhan Z. E., Wallstrom G., LaBaer J., Adams J. B. and Krajmalnik-Brown R. ‘Reduced Incidence of Prevotella and Other Fermenters in Intestinal Microflora of Autistic Children’. Plos.org. 2013 Jul. doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0068322.
  6. Hsiao E. Y. et al. ‘Microbiota Modulate Behavioral and Physiological Abnormalities Associated with Neurodevelopmental Disorders’. Cell Host & Microbe. 2013 Dec; 155 (7) 1415-63. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2013.11.024.
  7. Foster J. A. and McVey Neufeld K. A. ‘Gut-brain axis: how the microbiome influences anxiety and depression’. Trends Neurosci. 2013 May; 36 (5):305-12. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2013.01.005. Epub 2013 Feb 4.

Glorious Green Magma: how a taste of the Orient can do you so much good

Who’d believe that something so old could be so good for you? Don’t doubt it; barley grass is. It’s been a naturally-derived source for wellbeing since at least 7,000 BC; especially in Japan, where its capacity to aid digestion, detoxification and anti-ageing has long been recognised – and deeply respected. And in recent decades it’s become likewise recognised (and consumed) for these properties in the West.

Primarily, this has been thanks to the efforts of pharmaceutical developer Dr Yoshihide Hagiwara, whom had to give up his day job at the tender age of 38 due to toxic poisoning. Having fully recovered via natural medicines and foods alone, he devoted the rest of his life to investigating green foods and just what they were capable of for the good of the human body. His research led him to publish his conclusions, in which he claimed that barley grass is ‘one of the most nutritionally balanced foods in nature’ and ‘the ideal fast food for the human race’. Strong words, indeed, but it seems that this greenest of green foods and most super of superfoods is capable of backing them up.

 

The road to Green Magma

Technically speaking, barley grass are the young, soft shoots that crop on the barley plant and, in his experiments, Hagiwara unfortunately discovered that the multiple, health-giving nutrients stored in these shoots are destroyed by heat and acidity (when the shoots are either cooked or treated to be transformed into an easily consumable form like a supplement). In which case, he hit on the idea of a unique spray-dry process to create a different kind of extraction. Not only did this successful discovery earn him acclamation in his native Japan, it also led to his patented methods proving the basis for the manufacturing process behind the modern, highly advanced and extremely nutritious version of Barley Grass Powder, namely Green Magma.

Packed full of all the goodness of natural barley grass then, Green Magma is truly a multi-nutrient superfood that’s bursting with more than 70 vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes. Among its incredible array of ingredients are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine)
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin)
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
  • Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
  • Vitamin K (phylloquinone)
  • Folate
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorous
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • Beta-carotene
  • Phycocyanin
  • Superoxide dismutase
  • Chlorophyll
  • Flavonoid 2”-O-GIV

 

Green Magma benefits

But why is it so impressive that Green Magma comprises all these vitamins and minerals? Well, the fact it does so is what ensures it’s such an enriching, health-aiding supplement; such a potent, dissoluble powder-based (and so very easy-to-consume) version of the original barley grass. It’s the fact it comprises all these vitamins and minerals that it offers those why try it – and take it daily – so many benefits that can help bring relief to a range of conditions and illnesses. For instance:

  • A natural antioxidant – owing to it containing the enzyme superoxide dismutase, Green Magma boasts terrific antioxidant properties, this ingredient enjoying nothing more than to act as a free radical scavenger, utterly neutralising the harmful effects of the opportunistic micro-organisms and so preventing the development of a whole host of illnesses caused by the otherwise resultant oxidative stress (it’s aided in these efforts by the flavonoid 2”-O-GIV); moreover, the presence of alpha-tocopherol in Green Magma successfully stimulates the release of the protein prolactin which may inhibit the growth of cancerous tumours as much as 10 times better than other versions of Vitamin E can

 

  • May improve digestion – as barley grass has a naturally positive, stimulating effect on ‘gut friendly’ bacteria (the ‘good’ rather than the ‘bad’ bacteria to be found in the intestines), Green Magma can help in alleviating inflammation and other symptoms that are associated with gastrointestinal complaints like ulcerative colitis (UC), something which is only boosted by its handy talent for reducing aggressive bowel chemicals, as well as aiding in the flushing out of toxins from the body and assisting in the maintenance of the bowel’s fluid balance

 

  • A natural detoxifier – all heavy metals (e.g. lead) are very poisonous to the human body and require swift removal from it, should trace levels of them been accidentally consumed and thus accumulated, and via detoxification this is something else at which Green Magma comes up trumps, specifically through the work of its trace element zinc; furthermore, barley grass’s naturally occurring chlorophyll and beta-carotene can aid the detoxing of waste mucous and crystallised acids, all of which contributes to the efficacy of the body carrying out metabolic processes and the critical detoxification work that goes on in the liver (note: those in need of detoxification may experience tiredness on first using Green Magma for this purpose; so it’s best to start with low doses of the supplement and build them up slowly over time, owing to its powerful detoxing qualities)

 

  • May restore acid-alkali balance – in its Green Magma version, barley grass makes for a superb natural alkaline source, ideal then for reducing excess acidity in the body and preventing otherwise possible acidosis damage; to this end, thanks to its work at restoring the human body’s acid-alkali balance, it may also aid in the prevention of a wide range of differing complaints, including cardiac pain, constipation, fatigue and sleep disorders

 

  • May improve skin, hair and nail quality – finally, Green Magma may also prove a great contributor to the regeneration of cells without side effects, which is where its ingredients including chlorophyll, iron and Vitamin C come in, as well as the pigment-protein phycocyanin, which inspires the creation of red and white blood cells and bone marrow; indeed, it’s this adept ability to aid renewal in the body that ensures Green Magma also helps to preserve hair and nail quality and keep skin looking youthful.

 

How to take Green Magma

A juice-based version of barley grass then (although it’s also available from The Finchley Clinic in tablet-form; see below), your best advised serving of Green Magma is via stirring a teaspoon of the supplement’s powder in a glass (160ml) of water – or non-acidic fruit juice – and drinking it up to twice a day. For best results, it’s best to consume Green Magma either 20 minutes before or around two hours after a meal; this will enable the nutrients to be absorbed as best as possible in the body. Remember not to mix the powder with a hot drink – heat may well damage the supplement’s active enzymes!

If you’re interested in purchasing and trying Green Magma, we stock the supplement in various dosages; take a look at them all below:

Green Magma (300g)

Green Magma (150g)

Green Magma (80g)

Green Magma (10-day trial pack)

Green Magma (250 tablets)

Breathe easy: do you need a lung cleanse?

If it seems to you more people are suffering from colds, the flu and viruses than used to be the case then you may not be imagining it. We live in a heavily industrialised world, in which vehicle and industrial emissions and chemical by-products are all known to be harmful, causing serious ill-health in millions of people across the planet. And yet, what’s far less noted is that indoor air nowadays is also a culprit. Indeed, it’s been estimated that today’s indoor air may actually be up to six times – or even 10 times – worse for your health than outdoor air. Yes, really.

 

How is this possible? Well, the United States Government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that around 60 percent of all homes in that nation alone contain airborne pollutants that can harm human health. And the American College of Allergies has reported that as much as half of all modern-day illnesses are a result of air pollution – but not outdoor air pollution; indoor air pollution.

Moreover, it’s believed that, among the likes of dangerous toxins and infectious bacteria, allergens become concentrated in today’s highly insulated homes up to 200 percent more than standard homes. The truth is that, thanks to the drive to insulate our homes and the offices in which so many of us work and so save energy costs and cut unnecessary emissions, we’re simply not ventilating the air in our buildings as much as we used to. The result? Very bad indoor air; so bad it may contain up to 100 times the number toxins as the air on the other side of the window. Without proper filtration of the air we breathe indoors then, it’s inevitable that damage – perhaps even severe damage – could be done to the tissue of many people’s lungs and, of course, without them having the foggiest idea it’s happening. And most of them have probably never even taken up smoking either.

 

The effect of allergens

It needs pointing out too that allergens play an increasingly potent role in the poor quality of indoor air. Apparently, there’s more than 1,000 separate species of mould and mildew in indoor environments; your own home is quite possibly a potential source of chronic respiratory or sinus problems, whether you like it or not – a staggering statistic goes that when a baby crawls over just a section of a room’s average carpet they’re likely inhaling the same toxic level as they would by smoking four cigarettes a day1.

Other home-based allergies can occur because of pets, not least the most popular four-legged family accompaniments, cats and dogs. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s not usually because such a pet may have long hair that’ll cause an allergic reaction or make for a worse allergy, as the source of the allergy is more likely to be the dander beneath the cat or dog’s hair rather than the hair itself (specifically, microscopic bits of dry skin that gets everywhere and you can’t see).

 

Tackling indoor air pollution

So, what’s the answer? What can we do to depollute the air of our homes, office spaces and more? Well, unless you run the business or organisation you work for, it may be difficult to alter the environment in which you spend several hours a day working, but you should and can definitely do something about your home’s indoor air. For instance, if you own a pet you shouldn’t necessarily get rid of it (unless its dander is resulting in allergic reactions that seriously affect your everyday life), but you should at least face up to the reality of what’s happening. To that end too, it’s important to bear in mind the statistics and facts stated above and not just reject them; your home should be the ultimate haven of comfort and repose in your life but it’s unlikely to be if just dismiss the points made above out of hand (for instance, synthetic, chemical-derived cleaning products also contain a level of toxicity; something to remember if you use them several times a day).

Overall, though, the easiest thing to address is the likely lack of ventilation in a modern home. In contrast to a draughty old house that’s several decades old, today’s homes are relatively airtight – the bad air can’t escape. Especially if you use air conditioning; which, to operate effectively, requires windows to be closed. In which case, consider investing in and using indoor air exchange systems and air purification systems to keep the environment cleaner and far more toxin/ allergen-free

 

Lung cleansing

Another approach – and something you may want to try in addition to purifying your indoor environment – is to cleanse your body’s lungs. Now, to read that, it may sound a little extreme, but, if you follow the advice below (all of which is totally harmless; don’t worry!), you’ll find it actually involves far from drastic, very sensible activities:

  • Breathing exercises – you can clear your airwaves, remove toxins from your lungs and strengthen them via deep breathing exercises; moreover, they offer the additional benefit of delivering more, highly nourishing oxygen to the lungs and wider body (it’s a great idea to engage in deep breathing for a few minutes in a quiet, relaxed space twice a day)

 

  • Diet – believe it or not, there are certain foods you can throw into your diet on a regular basis that’ll promote healthy function of your lungs; pistachios are rich in gamma-tocopherol (a Vitamin E variation that may reduce the risk of developing lung cancer), while plantain leaf has a handy habit of quelling mucous thereby aiding with congestion-related respiratory issues and cayenne peppers can ease irritation of the respiratory system, not least for those suffering from coughs and sore throats owing to infection

 

  • Natural remedies – finally, you might consider giving naturally-occurring plant-based remedies a whirl; why not when a whole roster of them (such as eucalyptus, lungwort, peppermint and osha root) were a staple of indigenous cultures and ancient civilisations in treating respiratory issues many millennia before the invention of synthetically-produced medication.

And to that end, you may like the idea of getting your fill of such naturally-derived respiratory remedies in the form of single lung cleanse products – both of the following examples are available through us at The Finchley Clinic and come highly recommended:

Allertrex – offers support for respiratory ailments, assists with normal lung functions and is developed with the specific aim of cleansing the lungs of harmful agents that inhibit their function.

Restore Sinus Spray – a proprietary blend of trace minerals suspended in purified water, designed to cleanse, soothe and hydrate the delicate membranes that line your nasal passages.

 

Reference:

  1. Intuitive Environmental Solutions. ‘Facts about indoor air quality’. http://www.intuitiveenvsol.com/indoor-air-quality-faq.html. n.p.

Looking for a solution to Lyme’s disease? Try the Cowden Support Program

As far as names go, Lyme disease doesn’t sound like the worse ailment in the world, but names can be deceptive. Indeed, it can be debilitating and utterly life-changing, but has nothing to do with fruits nor with the colour green; that said, it is caught in the natural outdoors via bites from ticks – and, to that end, it’s an illness that’s all too easy to catch.

Like it or not, many medical experts are of the opinion that Lyme disease is among the most serious of under-discussed health conditions. Caused by tick bites infecting the blood with the bacteria type Borrelia, its many symptoms tend, at first, to be very flu-like (i.e. headache, fatigue and fever1); yet if not detected quickly they can get much worse over time – either quickly or slowly over months or years – leading to problems with the joints, heart and central nervous system2. Serious, indeed.

 

Diagnosis numbers and issues

The number of Lyme disease cases in the US seem to be ever growing (worryingly so, actually; between 1991 and 2013, they grew from 10,000 to more than 27,000) and, although there are definitely fewer in the UK and Continental Europe, the numbers here are nonetheless still higher than you might expect.

And how the disease plays out for each individual can be miserable to say the least. There’s the particular case of a totally active and healthy 12-year-old girl from the US state of Montana whom suddenly became ‘feverish, dizzy and doubled over with stomach pains every time she tried to exert herself’3; the misery for her owing as much to the fact it took experts some time to correctly diagnose what was wrong with her, as much as her dramatic symptoms – thus, resulting in psychological as well as physical suffering.

 

Treatment suggestion

Mercifully though, once diagnosed correctly, treatment for Lyme disease is certainly available. One highly recommended course of treatment you might want to try is the Cowden Support Program (CSP) which, intended for treating late-stage Borrelia and Lyme co-infections, should be followed for several weeks; its intention being to tackle most of the root causes of symptoms and to aid in recovery from ‘post treatment’ Lyme disease syndrome. Indeed, so comprehensive is it, thanks to its constituent ingredients, that it also appears to be able to treat other chronic health issues whose causes are even less clear.

Developed by Dr William Lee Cowden, the CSP involves 14 separate Nutramedix products taken rotationally, such as six herbs intended for microbial defence, themselves made up of three separate pairs of herbs. To give you an idea then, the first of these pairs are the herbal supplements Banderol and Samento which, via an in vitro study conducted at the University of New Haven in the US state of Connecticut, were discovered to be effective in eliminating all forms of the bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi (that is, its spirochetes, round-body forms and the biofilm forms)4.

 

In-the-field evidence

That said, the CSP has been found to reap good results out in-the-field as well. At the 2007 conference for the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS), Richard Horowitz, a medical practitioner based in the US state of New York, claimed the programme had successfully improved the condition of between 70 percent and 80 percent of patients he’d treated for advanced Lyme Borreliosis (after 4-6 months of co-infection)5. And this was the case even when a proportion of those patients had previously shown no sign of improvement after been proscribed multiple courses of antibiotics.

Further – and more recent – evidence of the CSP’s efficacy in treating Lyme disease came to light in 2012 thanks to a nine-month-long study conducted by the Borreliose Centrum Augsburg in Germany, the results of which showed that (according to questionnaire answers) 80 percent of patients involved enjoyed improvements in their symptoms thanks to the CSP, while (according to laboratory blood tests) 90 percent of them did6.

Greater than the sum of its parts

None of this, though, should be that surprising when you look at what the CSP’s ingredients are capable of doing together; for sure, it’s the pooling of these herbal, microbial defence products’ resources that accounts for the Cowden Support Program benefits. Combined together then, they work to provide broad-spectrum action against not just bacteria, but also fungi, parasites and even viruses, while they’re naturally anti-inflammatory too. Now, by contrast, using synthetically-produced pharmaceuticals to treat Lyme disease is likely to be less effective because they simply operate on a far narrower spectrum of capability; in short, patients with late-stage Lyme disease may not get better on pharmaceuticals (like antibiotics) alone because these drugs – unlike the CSP – are incapable of resolving different microbial infections (and tackle the likes of immune dysregulation and gut dysbiosis), all of which can occur along with Lyme disease and provide further complications on top of the symptoms directly caused by the initial infection.

Indeed, to give you an idea here, among the herbal ingredients that make up the Cowden Support Program are:

  • Burbur-Pinella – can remove toxins from the brain, nerves and spinal cord

 

  • Parsley – combines with Burbur-Pinella to aid in detoxification of the kidneys, liver, gall bladder, lymphatics and intestinal spaces

 

  • Stevia –effective at eliminating all forms of Borrelia; also a broad-spectrum antiviral herb

 

  • Sealantro – can detoxify heavy metals, biotoxins and various man-made toxins in the body

 

  • Takuna – possesses potent antiviral properties.

 

Additionally, it ought to be noted that, should you be thinking of giving the CSP a go in trying to treat late-stage Borrelia and Lyme disease symptoms, then they are several different things you should do alongside the herbal course to give you the best chance of successful recovery. To start with, as you may have guessed, consuming water (such a healthy practice in itself) is strongly recommended – as much as 2-3 litres a day, in fact. Practicing stress relief techniques before each mealtime and bed is also advised, while sleep hygiene is also important (getting a proper, good night’s sleep of at least 6-7 hours, so you get all the rest you can), as well as maintaining a sensible, healthy diet, of course. To this end, the likes of raw, organic, non-GMT vegetables are excellent choices, while it’s best to cut out sugars and excessive starchy, fried and processed foods. It’s also been noted that Lyme disease sufferers who stay away from wheat-based and cow-dairy-based foods seem likely to get better faster.

By purchasing each pack required for each month of the Cowden Support Program via The Finchley Clinic you can make significant savings on all the products you’ll need to complete the course; take a look at them below:

Cowden Support Program – Month 1

Cowden Support Program – Month 2

Cowden Support Program – Month 3

Cowden Support Program – Month 4

Cowden Support Program – Month 5

Cowden Support Program – Month 6

Cowden Support Program – Month 7

Cowden Support Program – Month 8

Cowden Support Program – Month 9

 

References:

  1. Piesman J., Mather, T. N., Sinsky R. J and Spielman A. ‘Duration of tick attachment and Borrelia burgdorferi transmission’. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 1987 Mar. 25 (3): 557-558.
  2. Hu, Linden. ‘Clinical Manifestations of Lyme Disease in Adults’. UptoDate. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-manifestations-of-lyme-disease-in-adults. Last updated: August 2017.
  3. Lavelle, M. ‘As Lyme disease spreads in the U.S., those in its path cope with a debilitating, bewildering array of maladies, misery and afflictions’. The Daily Climate. http://www.dailyclimate.org/tdc-newsroom/2014/09/us-lyme-disease. 2014 Sep.
  4. Datar A., Kaur N., Patel S., Luecke D. F. and Sapi E. ‘In vitro effectiveness of Samento and Banderol herbal extracts on the different morphological forms of Borrelia burgdorferi’. Townsend Letter. http://www.townsendletter.com/July2010/sapi0710.html. 2010 Jul.
  5. http://www.ilads.org/lyme_programs/conference-videos.php. n.p.
  6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3i02bzyMkI

 

Can you beat candida overgrowth? Yes – with the right diet and supplements

Yeast. For many of us, when we read that word we may immediately think of (leavened) bread and beer, in both of which it’s an important ingredient. For those from the UK, many will think too of Marmite, the yeast-extract-based foodstuff whose taste polarises opinion. Yet, few will think of the insides of their body, specifically the digestive system, when they think of yeast, even though it commonly, nay naturally exists there. Not least one of its most notable types, candida – which, if allowed to multiply dramatically in this part of the body, can cause or at least contribute to and complicate some serious problems.

Like all yeasts, candida is a micro-organism that can be technically categorised as a fungus (like it or not). Given the fact it regularly and naturally occurs in the gut along with other bacteria, the fact it may or may not be present there is not a cause for concern. And neither is the fact it may well be present in mucous membranes, in the birth canal or on the skin1. However, it is a cause for concern – especially in the intestinal tract – when, as noted, it grows to the point that it actually overpopulates the digestive system; this leads to problems because it can cause not just damage here via infection, but also elsewhere as it inevitably spreads. The name for this condition is, yes, candida overgrowth2.

That said, it can get worse. Because, if left to its own devices, candida overgrowth can develop into systemic candida3; which, yes, is a chronic health condition likely to result in more and increasingly harmful symptoms, damaging different organs and tissues such as the kidneys and even the brain2 and potentially causing thrush (oral candidiasis) and vaginal yeast infections4. Not nice. No wonder it’s often referred to as an ‘opportunistic’ fungus; given half a chance, it’ll spread anywhere. And, like it or not, there’s actually more than 20 various kinds of candida, the most commonly occurring being candida alcibans (or C. alcibans)2. So, more specifically, what symptoms are we talking about that yeast – especially candida – can be responsible for?

 

Symptoms

Now, the trouble with candida overgrowth is that it’s liable to lead to symptoms that are, at the outset, suggestive of other illnesses and conditions; hence it’s often not diagnosed properly. However, if you’re suffering from many of those that follow, you should seriously consider the fact that an overabundance of candida in your digestive tract – and maybe elsewhere – could be the cause:

  • Acne, eczema and psoriasis
  • Anxiety, depression, irritability and mood swings
  • Big cravings for sugar and processed carbs
  • Bloating, constipation, gas and diarrhoea
  • Fatigue and exhaustion
  • Newly developed food intolerances
  • Reduced libido
  • Skin/ nail infections
  • Vaginal yeast infection symptoms
  • White coating to your tongue

 

Causes

So, what is it that triggers the growth of pre-existing candida in the gut flora to get out of control? Well, there are several different things that could be underlying causes, some of which are:

  • Weakened immune system – seven in every 10 of your immune system’s cells are located in your gut, which is why the ‘good (healthy) bacteria’ balancing up the ‘bad bacteria’ here is so critical for effective immunity5; reduced immunity owing to too little healthy gut flora inevitably results in a rise of candida in this part of the body, which in turn could be caused by the likes of malnutrition, medication (e.g. corticosteroids) and illness (diabetes and AIDS)

 

  • Sugary diet – mot to make things even more unpleasant, but yeast is, of course, a living organism so requires food to survive, which is where sugar comes in, especially the likes of refined sugars6, fermented sugars (alcohol)6 and carbohydrates; research suggests that refined sugars are yeast’s favourite7

 

  • Antibiotics – this form of medication is certainly crucial at times for people (indeed, it’s saved countless lives), yet it’s easy to overdo taking antibiotics; if you’ve been guilty of this you should be wary because antibiotics are potent, as they don’t discriminate in the bacteria they kill, which means down in your gut they’ll equally kill off ‘good’ as well as ‘bad’ bacteria, thus unbalancing the gut flora and lowering your immunity8

 

  • Chronic stress – yes, as if stress isn’t bad enough on its own, it can also help cause candida overgrowth and this is because it causes the body to release stress hormones like cortisol, which may help conserve energy in the short-term and deal better with very stressful situations, but in doing so shuts down the digestive system during each ‘fight or flight’ episode and causes inflammation, aiding the generation of a yeast-friendly environment in the gut9.

 

Effective diet and supplementation

Fortunately, by taking sensible steps to look after your immune system, trying to reduce stressful situations (if you can), keep down your antibiotic use and adopt an anti-candida-causing diet, you can take strong, positive steps to preventing candida overgrowth. But, when it comes to diet specifically, what does it mean you should and shouldn’t eat?

Well, taking the latter first, foods to definitely try to cut down or avoid altogether include sugar (in as many forms as possible, but definitely refined sugars); alcohol; refined carbs; grains; foods that clearly contain yeast (like Marmite) and, naturally, processed foods that are rich in unhealthy sugars.

By contrast, you’d be wise to turn your everyday diet in a high protein direction, which means the likes of organic grass-fed meat; wild fish; olive oil and non-starchy vegetables (leafy greens, asparagus, avocado and broccoli). Moreover, there are some foods out there blessed with antifungal properties that are great for killing off candida; examples include garlic; ginger root; coconut oil; oregano (and oregano oil) and onions.

And, should you be the kind of person who finds it hard to stick rigidly to diets or if you’d like to top up such a diet with even more ‘ammunition’ to combat candida, then you can turn to naturally-derived (that means totally non-synthetic) supplementation. Now, the following candida supplements – all of them available through us at The Finchley Clinic – are better for so-called candida die-off rather than a positive result via detoxification (detox) of the digestive system. So, why not take a look and give them a try?

Wild Endive Formula A – a ginger-free supplement that may prove invaluable as part of a candida-balancing regime for those concerned by their body’s level of candida toxins or a possible die-off reaction.

Nutrisorb Molybdenum – goes very well with Wild Endive Formula (A) for those seeking to reduce their candida levels; it helps to break down acetaldehyde, which may be the primary toxin enabling candida growth, as the latter’s believed to have an addictive quality that could drive people to increase their sugar and alcohol consume.

Mixed Ascorbates – provides a readily absorbable form of Vitamin C, together with bioavailable forms of magnesium, zinc, potassium, calcium and manganese to boost gut health, along with antioxidant flavonoids to combat free radicals.

 

References:

  1. Huffnagle G. B. and Noverr M. C. ‘The emerging world of the fungal microbiome’. Trends Microbiol. 2013 Jul; 21 (7): 334–341. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2013.04.002.
  2. Mayer F. L., Wilson D. and Hube B. ‘Candida albicans pathogenicity mechanisms’. Virulence. 2013 Feb; 4 (2): 119–128. doi: 10.4161/viru.22913.
  3. Grohskopf L. A. and Andriole V. T. ‘Systemic Candida infections’. Yale J Biol Med. 1996 Nov-Dec; 69 (6): 505–515.
  4. ‘Candidiasis’. PubMedHealth. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMHT0024526/. n.p.
  5. Vighi G., Marcucci F., Sensi L., Di Cara G. and Frati F. ‘Allergy and the gastrointestinal system’. Clin Exp Immunol. 2008 Sep; 153 (Suppl 1): 3–6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.x.
  6. Brown K., DeCoffe D., Molcan E. and Gibson D. L. ‘Diet-Induced Dysbiosis of the Intestinal Microbiota and the Effects on Immunity and Disease’. Nutrients. 2012 Aug; 4 (8): 1095–1119. doi: 10.3390/nu4081095.
  7. Kovacs E. J and Messingham K. A. ‘Influence of alcohol and gender on immune response’. Alcohol Res Health. 2002; 26 (4):257–63. pmid:12875035.
  8. Langdon A., Crook N. and Dantas G. ‘The effects of antibiotics on the microbiome throughout development and alternative approaches for therapeutic modulation’. Genome Med. 2016; 8: 39. doi: 10.1186/s13073-016-0294-z.
  9. Wolkow A., Aisbett B., Reynolds J., Ferguson S. A. and Main L. C. ‘Relationships between inflammatory cytokine and cortisol responses in firefighters exposed to simulated wildfire suppression work and sleep restriction’. Physiol Rep. 2015 Nov; 3 (11): e12604. doi: 10.14814/phy2.12604.

Plugging a leak? A guide to leaky gut and what you should do about it

Thanks to its name, it may sound silly or twee, but a leaky gut’s no laughing matter. That’s because it means the gut’s failing in its primary function – to provide a reliable transportation route through the body for potentially harmful elements in consumed food. If you have leaky gut then, owing to perforations in your intestinal wall, molecules and micro-organisms are able to get into your bloodstream. Not nice – and not at all twee. And, unfortunately, because it can play a role in causing many different ailments, it’s often something far from easy to diagnose; resulting in any number of potential symptoms. In which case then, let’s take a closer look at what leaky gut is all about – and how you can prevent and treat it.

How does leaky gut occur?

To understand how and why leaky gut happens, it’s necessary to understand the gut itself. The gut – or the intestines – is, of course, an organ of the digestive system; in fact, its largest and most important, boasting a surface area of around 2,700 sq. ft. (250 sq. m) – about the size of a tennis court. Included in the make-up of the gut is its intestinal mucosa (lining), which itself comprises the intestines’ microbial community. So, as digested molecules (micro-, macro and phytonutrients) pass through the gut on their way through the digestive system, they inevitably encounter the gut mucosa; unfortunately, though, should you suffer from leaky gut, the tight junctions between the cells of the mucosa won’t be tight enough, so potentially harmful foreign bodies can slip through the intestine’s lining and find their way into other parts of the body1. What foreign bodies? Nasty microscopic pathogens, toxins and antigens; all getting to chance to go where they like, provoking systemic inflammation1.

What causes leaky gut?

Evidently, these tight junctions between the gut’s cells are far from a total barrier; they relax and contract often and, thus, their function’s disrupted1. Factors that cause this include:

• Diet – of course, your diet inevitably has a big effect on your gut health (and on your health in general); an abundance of the following in your diet is bound to help cause leaky gut:
1. Additives – emulsifiers, glucose, microbial transglutaminase, solvents and even salt can make leaky gut syndrome worse2
2. Alcohol – as alcohol makes its journey through the gastrointestinal system, the metabolic by-product acetaldehyde’s created, which can increase intestinal permeability3
3. Dairy products – often associated with gastrointestinal disorders, not least for people who are lactose intolerant and those who have autism4
4. Gluten – for those who have gluten sensitivity, its consumption is very likely to proliferate intestinal permeability5
5. Pesticides – the herbicide glyphosate is great at disrupting gut bacteria, which aids intestinal permeability6
6. Sugar – often a cause of inflammation in the gut; so much so that research proves analysis of glucose in urine can indicate the severity of leaky gut7

• Candida – specific species of this yeast like nothing more than interfering with gut microbiota, resulting in an imbalance known as dysbiosis that can often lead to digestive issues including leaky gut8

• Chronic stress – yes, it’s true, psychological stress contributes to gut ill-health because it boosts levels of inflammatory cytokines (immune-related proteins) that drive up leaky gut; no surprise then that studies suggests stress compromises the intestinal barrier9

• Environmental toxins – as you’ll be aware, the outside world is full of poisonous toxins; mercury10, bisphenol A (BPA)11, fungicides, and insecticides12 all have the capacity to impair intestinal permeability

• Medications – it’s well known that over-the-counter drugs, especially non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin and ibuprofen, can cause inflammation and drive up intestinal permeability13

• Zinc deficiency – an essential trace mineral for many different parts of the body, zinc is especially important for the immune system and preventing and treating irritable bowel-related conditions; as such, its deficiency can aid intestinal permeability, while its supplementation enhances tight junction activity14.

What can leaky gut cause?

Unfortunately, leaky gut’s symptoms are varied – in that, like it or not, they extend way beyond digestive disorders thanks to it enabling harmful foreign microbes to enter the bloodstream. Common symptoms then include the likes of allergies15, cardiovascular problems16 and many different metabolic issues17. Less obvious – but equally possible – illnesses that may be traced to leaky gut are both chronic fatigue syndrome and depression; research proves they can occur when the integrity of gut mucosa’s been compromised18.

Treating leaky gut

Experts agree that managing leaky gut’s best achieved by maintaining a healthy diet; particularly one that features food high in probiotics (yoghurt, kefir, microalgae and even dark chocolate are all recommended)19. Moreover, nutrients including glutamine and curcumin are great for the intestines because they help to manage the immune system’s overstimulated response to leaky gut (and the resultant escaping microbes) and, thus, the oxidative stress that further compromises the intestinal wall20.

And you may too like the idea of supplementing an improved diet to mitigate the disorder’s effects with, yes, natural leaky gut supplements. So, why not take a glance at the ‘Leaky Gut’ page of supplements on The Finchley Clinic’s website? Among which you’ll find these highly regarded products:

Restore (for Gut Health) – a unique and ground-breaking supplement that heals the gut mucosa and supports membrane integrity to give your immune system a chance to rest.

Restore (for Gut Health) (travel size) – ideal for giving Restore a trial-run or for when you’re in transit.

Slippery Elm Intensive – soothes the digestive tract and provides mucilage to support the gut’s mucous membranes.

References:

1. Lee S. H. ‘Intestinal Permeability Regulation by Tight Junction: Implication on Inflammatory Bowel Diseases’. Intest Res. 2015 Jan; 13 (1): 11–18. Published online 2015 Jan 29. doi: 10.5217/ir.2015.13.1.11.
2. Lerner A. and Matthias T. ‘Changes in intestinal tight junction permeability associated with industrial food additives explain the rising incidence of autoimmune disease’. Autoimmun Rev. 2015 Jun; 14 (6): 479-89. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2015.01.009. Epub 2015 Feb 9.
3. Purohit V. et al. ‘Alcohol, Intestinal Bacterial Growth, Intestinal Permeability to Endotoxin, and Medical Consequences. Alcohol’. Alcohol. 2008 Aug; 42 (5): 349–361. Published online 2008 May 27. doi: 10.1016/j.alcohol.2008.03.131.
4. Whiteley P. et al. ‘Gluten- and casein-free dietary intervention for autism spectrum conditions’. Published online 2013 Jan 4. Pre-published online 2012 Nov 27. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2012.00344.
5. de Punder K. and Pruimboom L. ‘The Dietary Intake of Wheat and other Cereal Grains and Their Role in Inflammation’. Nutrients. 2013 Mar; 5 (3): 771–787. Published online 2013 Mar 12. doi: 10.3390/nu5030771.
6. Samsel A. and Seneff S. ‘Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance’. Interdiscip Toxicol. 2013 Dec; 6 (4): 159–184. Published online 2013 Dec. doi: 10.2478/intox-2013-0026.
7. Rao A. S. et al. ‘Urine sugars for in vivo gut permeability: validation and comparisons in irritable bowel syndrome-diarrhea and controls’. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2011 Nov; 301 (5): G919-28. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00168.2011. Epub 2011 Aug 11.
8. Schulze J. and Sonnenborn U. ‘Yeasts in the Gut: From Commensals to Infectious Agents’. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2009 Dec; 106 (51-52): 837–842.
9. Bested A. et al. ‘Intestinal microbiota, probiotics and mental health: from Metchnikoff to modern advances: Part II – contemporary contextual research’. Gut Pathog. 2013; 5: 3. Published online 2013 Mar 14. doi: 10.1186/1757-4749-5-3.
10. US Food and Drug Administration. ‘DAMS Fact Sheets on Mercury Exposure’. https://www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/dailys/02/Sep02/091602/80027de0.pdf.
11. Braniste V. et al. ‘Impact of oral bisphenol A at reference doses on intestinal barrier function and sex differences after perinatal exposure in rats’. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2010 Jan 5; 107 (1): 448–453.
12. Cohen M. ‘Environmental toxins and health – the health impact of pesticides’. Aust Fam Physician. 2007 Dec; 36 (12): 1002-4.
13. Sigthorsson G. et al. ‘Intestinal permeability and inflammation in patients on NSAIDs’. Gut. 1998 Oct; 43 (4): 506–511.
14. MedlinePlus. ‘Zinc in Diet’. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002416.htm.
15. Perrier C. and Corthésy B. ‘Gut permeability and food allergies’. Clin Exp Allergy. 2011 Jan; 41 (1): 20-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2222.2010.03639.x. Epub 2010 Nov 11.
16. Sandek A. et al. ‘The emerging role of the gut in chronic heart failure’. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2008 Sep; 11 (5): 632-9. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0b013e32830a4c6e.
17. Bounous G. et al. ‘Biosynthesis of intestinal mucin in shock: relationship to tryptic hemorrhagic enteritis and permeability to curare’. Ann Surg. 1966 Jul; 164 (1): 13-22.
18. Schnabl B. ‘Linking intestinal homeostasis and liver disease’. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2014 Jul 1. Published in final edited form as: Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2013 May; 29 (3): 264-270 doi: 10.1097/MOG.0b013e32835ff948.
19. Rao R. and Samak G. ‘Protection and Restitution of Gut Barrier by Probiotics: Nutritional and Clinical Implications’. Curr Nutr Food Sci. 2013 May 1; 9 (2): 99-107.
20. Rapin J. R. and Wiernsperger N. ‘Possible links between intestinal permeability and food processing: A potential therapeutic niche for glutamine’. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2010 Jun; 65 (6): 635-43. doi: 10.1590/S1807-59322010000600012.

When oxygen attacks: how antioxidants combat reactive oxygen species

The ancient Chinese may well have been on to something (not surprising, given their greatest thinkers were clearly a smart bunch), for the idea behind the Chinese philosophical principle that’s ‘yin and yang’ – that is, the significance of balance and the importance of its attainment and maintenance – holds true to so many things in life and the world around us. Not least when it comes to our bodies and health. Indeed, when you think about healing – returning ill-health to a point of good (or ‘normal’) health – it’s summed up by the quest for balance within one’s body. Healing and good health then could be described as the need for balance within the human body.

In which case, it’s hardly surprising that when the body feels unhealthy it seeks to heal itself; when it feels out of balance, it seeks to rectify things and return to a balanced state. And one of the critical components it calls on and throws into action for this is oxygen. Research confirms that this most commonplace of chemical elements (especially in the body) is crucial not just for generating energy for the body’s cells via a process called cellular metabolism, but also for healing in injured tissues1. Indeed, wounded tissue likes nothing more than converting oxygen into what’s known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) to encourage this healing2. However, there is a downside to this; when the body is out of balance, reactive oxygen species – or, at least, the presence of too many of them in the body – can also be damaging to your health.

 

What are reactive oxygen species?

Why is this? Well, a clue comes in the form of what reactive oxygen species can also be referred to as – pro-oxidants or oxygen radicals. That’s to say, they’re a variety of free radicals. For many that like to keep fit and healthy, that term is likely to set alarm bells ringing; for free radicals can do a lot of damage in the human body, if left to do as they please in an ‘unbalanced’ body that’s not able to use them efficiently to heal tissue.

Specifically, a free radical is a molecule without an electron that, nevertheless, is capable of maintaining its structure. To that end, it spends its existence seeking out another chemical in the body with whom it can ‘pair’ and ‘complete itself’, by trying to gain that chemical’s electron. And, as far as reactive oxygen species are concerned, that chemical is oxygen, as that’s the one they’re naturally attracted to.

 

Forms of reactive oxygen species

Reactive oxygen species, though, are actually made of oxygen. To break it down, oxygen – an element comprising eight protons and eight electrons – isn’t averse to sharing its electrons (thus, it’s reactive), which is the problem. In sharing one electron or more there’s a good chance it won’t have them returned (which technically means it becomes an ion) and when it’s ionised like this it instantly seeks to replace its missing electron(s) – hence it becomes a reactive oxygen species and, yes, becomes dangerous and destructive. Indeed, strictly speaking, there are several different sub-divisions of reactive oxygen species:

  • singlet oxygen – radical and harmful in two ways; this one can induce a cell’s genes to start ‘cell death’ and can oxidise lipids and fatty acids when it comes into contact with them3

 

  • superoxides – much is still to be discovered about these forms of oxygen, but research suggests they like to disrupt the body’s ability to heal wounds and affect its destroying of cells4

 

  • peroxides – in the body, these include the likes of hydrogen peroxide (comprising oxygen and hydrogen) and hypochlorite (oxygen and chlorine); they do good by helping to heal tissue5, but when hydrogen peroxide interacts with reduced metal ions the inevitable result are free radicals and, don’t doubt it, hydrogen radicals can be seriously destructive in the human body6

 

  • hypochlorous acid – as you might expect, this form contains both oxygen and chlorine and via either oxidation or chlorination its are the destruction of target cells by disrupting their membrane structures7.

 

Combatting reactive oxygen species

So how do you go about fighting reactive oxygen species? How can you prevent them from doing all the damage they cause? A good idea to stop them would be by preventing them from being formed in the first place; cutting off the source before it can even do anything – surely that would be the ultimate answer; yes? Unfortunately, too often that’s simply not possible, as frankly, whenever you do, well, practically anything you actually create and use reactive oxygen species.

This is because they’re generated – via energy created by mitochondria in the body’s cells – every single time a muscle contracts; indeed, it’s been proved that high-intensity exercise actually causes their levels to increase, which in turn can bring about fatigue and muscle failure8. That said, they are also created thanks to the body absorbing harmful foreign entities – the likes of alcohol, germs, polluting chemicals, tobacco and its smoke and toxic metals9 – which is something that you can control; the lesson being then to try and avoid these entities as much as possible.

But beyond this there must be a more fundamental, proactive answer? There is – antioxidants. Defined as substances that inhibit oxidation, antioxidants are simply brilliant at neutralising the oxidising efforts of free radicals. And they’re to be found everywhere in the natural world around us. Indeed, the Vitamins A, C and E and the minerals copper, selenium and zinc are all blessed with antioxidant properties and you can get your fill of them by packing your diet with antioxidant-rich foods like blueberries, cranberries, elderberries, goji berries, artichokes, pecans, kidney beans and even dark chocolate.

 

Antioxidant supplements

Fair enough, though, you may find it challenging to regularly fill your diet with a good spread of such antioxidant-packed foods as those listed above (the realities of everyday life can get in the way!). In that case then, you may be tempted to turn to naturally-derived (rather than synthetically produced) supplementation to combat the harmful effects of free radicals – reactive oxygen species among them. Indeed, among the antioxidant products you’ll find on sale at The Finchley Clinic, the following are all currently available on special offer:


Cell Fuzion – an advanced antioxidant formula designed to protect and energize mitochondrial function and protect against DNA damage.


Megahydrate Powder – a powerful antioxidant and provides full-body essential hydration for optimal health and well-being.

Super Antioxidant Protection – a powerful formula that supplies key water and fat-soluble antioxidant nutrients; by supporting the body’s major antioxidant pathways, it may protect against free radical damage and premature ageing.

 

References:

  1. Sen C. K. ‘Wound Healing Essentials: Let There Be Oxygen’. Wound Repair Regen. 2009; 17 (1): 1–18. doi:  10.1111/j.1524-475X.2008.00436.x.
  2. Ohio State University Department of Internal Medicine. ‘Scientists Identify a New Role for Oxygen in Wound Healing’. https://internalmedicine.osu.edu/article.cfm?id=2229.
  3. Triantaphylidès C., Krischke M., Hoeberichts F. A., Ksas B., Gresser G., Havaux M., Van Breusegem F. and Mueller M. J. ‘Singlet oxygen is the major reactive oxygen species involved in photooxidative damage to plants’. Plant Physiol. 2008 Oct; 148 (2): 960-8. doi: 10.1104/pp.108.125690. Epub 2008 Aug 1.
  4. Chen Y., Azad M. B. and Gibson S. B. ‘Superoxide is the major reactive oxygen species regulating autophagy’. Cell Death Differ. 2009 Jul; 16 (7): 1040-52. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2009.49. Epub 2009 May 1.
  5. Jaimes E. A., Sweeney C. and Raij L. ‘Effects of the reactive oxygen species hydrogen peroxide and hypochlorite on endothelial nitric oxide production’. Hypertension. 2001 Oct; 38 (4): 877-83.
  6. Aprioku J. S. ‘Pharmacology of Free Radicals and the Impact of Reactive Oxygen Species on the Testis’. Journal of Reproduction & Infertility. 2013; 14 (4): 158-172.
  7. Spickett C. M, Jerlich A., Panasenko O. M., Arnhold J., Pitt A. R., Stelmaszyńska T. and Schaur R. J. ‘The reactions of hypochlorous acid, the reactive oxygen species produced by myeloperoxidase, with lipids’. Acta Biochim Pol. 2000; 47 (4): 889-99.
  8. Powers S. K., Ji L. L., Kavazis A. N. and Jackson M. J. ‘Reactive oxygen species: impact on skeletal muscle’. Comprehensive Physiology. 2011; 1 (2): 941-969. doi:10.1002/cphy.c100054.
  9. Pham-Huy L. A., He H. and Pham-Huy C. ‘Free Radicals, Antioxidants in Disease and Health’. International Journal of Biomedical Science: IJBS. 2008; 4 (2): 89-96.

Catch of the day? Where to get Omega-3 fatty acids if you’re vegetarian

Any of our regular customers – or, indeed, any regular reader of this blog – are sure to be aware that just as not all bacteria are bad for us (the intestines, of course, require ‘good’ bacteria among its gut flora), neither are all fats bad for us. A fine example is Omega-3 fatty acids. So much so, in fact, that experts, thanks to a good deal of research, believe this particular group of fats are great for contributing to everything from treating arthritis, dementia and depression to reducing the risk of heart disease and boosting brain health.

The drawback with Omega-3s, though, is that our bodies aren’t capable of synthesising them; we can’t generate them ourselves. Therefore we have to get our fill of them through diet alone – or, alternatively, through supplementation. Now, it’s very commonly known that a great source for them are fish – specifically for the Omega-3 acids that are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which generally appear to offer the most potent health benefits – but there are other sources too. And the best thing about this is for vegetarians and vegans there are alternative dietary (and now supplement) sources for Omega-3.

Omega 3 health benefits

So, what of these benefits then? Well, perhaps more than anything else, Omega-3 fatty acids are of help when it comes to heart health. Not only are they capable of curbing inflammation in blood vessels throughout the body (thus, easing the pressure of work on the heart), but can also lower heart rate and ensure the development of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) is less likely and slow down the build-up of plaque in blood vessels (which could also aid in the prevention of suffering a stroke). Research may also suggest heart attack survivors who’ve boosted their Omega-3 levels experience fewer heart attacks and are less likely to suffer a heart disease-caused death1.

Additionally, increased consumption of both DHA and EPA have the capacity to reduce levels of triglycerides (a specific blood fat that’s linked to heart disease), especially when combined with more exercise and lower intake of alcohol, sugary foods and processed carbohydrates, such as white bread and white rice. And it appears Omega-3s are also capable of lowering blood pressure – to some extent, at least – again, not least by complementing one’s Omega-3 intake with other dietary changes (i.e. less red meat and less salt). And, elsewhere in the body, research suggests that stiffness and pain in the joints of rheumatoid arthritis sufferers may experience some relief when these fatty acids are combined with anti-inflammatory medication.

In terms of mental health and brain health, there has been speculation over whether Omega-3 acids aid depression; there’s certainly no proof it does so – however, it’s true that depression levels tend to be lower in countries where Omega-3s are particularly common in typical diets. What experts do tend to agree on is that fatty acids play a contributory role in brain function and the development of this organ; some too believe, based on research, that they may be able to help alleviate symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the suggestion being that they ought to be looked upon as supplementary to traditional treatment for this condition. Finally, it’s also believed that Omega-3s may be able to help with preventing dementia and age-related brain-function decline. More studies need to be conducted in this area, but research does suggest older people with Omega-3-rich diets are less liable to develop Alzheimer’s disease.

Omega 3 sources – including vegetarian/ vegan-friendly options

As mentioned above, certain fish are, of course, an excellent source for Omega-3 fatty acids – in particular, DHA and EPA. And some fish deliver higher does than others; high-scoring fish in this regard being the likes of anchovies, herring, mackerel, lake trout, salmon and sardines. To that end, the American Heart Association actually recommends you get at least two servings of such fish each week – perhaps with the emphasis on *at least* there!

All that said, it’s important to note you should try to steer clear of fish that may contain relatively high traces of mercury in your hunt for increased Omega-3 intake – if you’re concerned about this issue, it’s best to opt for catfish, cod, pollock, salmon, shrimp, tilapia and tuna (light canned).

But what about if you’re a vegetarian or vegan? What’s best to turn to boost your Omega-3 levels? Well, a great source are certain algae – yes, it’s both commercially grown for human consumption and, to that end, is considered mostly safe (although it’s probably best to steer clear of wild blue-green owing to potential toxins it might contain). Other vegetarian/ vegan-friendly sources – specifically for the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) Omega-3 fatty acid, which can be converted into both DLA and EPA in the body – include broccoli, canola oil, flaxseed oil, spinach and walnuts. Plus, be aware that some food products are also fortified with Omega-3s – be sure check their ingredient details for the levels to which they are.

Omega 3 vegetarian supplements

It may be, however, that if you’re not crazy about fish, or should you be a vegetarian or vegan and find it challenging to get hold of any of the above recommended foods on a regular basis, that naturally-derived supplementation is your best option for driving up your body’s Omega-3 levels. Traditionally, this area has been a challenge for those of a vegetarian/ vegan persuasion, but with the supplement industry and the knowledge around Omega-3 benefits only ever expanding and rising, the market is beginning to cater to more and more people. So, by all means take a look at the ‘Omega-3’ page here on our site for relevant products, but be aware too that, among those products we offer at The Finchley Clinic, you’ll find these two vegetarian/ vegan-friendly options:


Vegan Omega 3 – approved by the Vegetarian Society, this supplement is one of the first available in the UK to give vegetarians and vegans a direct supply of both EPA and DHA derived not from fish but from natural algae; it’s also suitable for daily use and during pregnancy (no added Vitamins A and D) – note that maternal intake of DHA contributes to the normal brain development of the foetus and breastfed infants, as well as contributing to the normal visual development of infants up to 12 months of age.


Liposomal Omega 3 – again, the Omega 3 oil this product comprises is derived directly from algae. The supplement’s produced via Liposomal Encapsulation Technology, a new solution for delivering nutrients in supplementation thanks to the nutrients’ encasing in a nano-sized fatty bubble (a liposome), enabling it to pass effectively through the stomach and digestive acids and arrive entirely intact to the body’s cells; precisely where it’s needed.

Reference:

1. Mohebi-Nejad A. and Bikdeli B. ‘Omega-3 Supplements and Cardiovascular Diseases’. Tanaffos. 2014; 13 (1): 6–14.

Good on the inside and the out: the many benefits of aloe vera supplements

Long a favourite ingredient of skincare and cosmetic products, aloe vera isn’t just good for your skin and keeping you looking young… you may not know it, but due to its plethora of beneficial components, it can help maintain your health on the inside too. Doubtful? Well, if so; you need to read on, truly. Because, as a natural ingredient, it’s been used for centuries in traditional Indian medicine for everything from constipation to infections and colic to worm infestation – as well as skin diseases. Nowadays, of course, thanks to its widespread use as an ingredient in cosmetics and food products, its production is one of the biggest botanical industries in the world. But should it be recognised for being more than it is by many? Frankly, the facts speak for themselves…

 

Aloe vera – the lowdown

Believed by experts to be the most biologically active of all the species of the aloe plant, aloe vera actually comprises more than 75 potentially active components; these constituent parts include amino acids (20 of them out the total 22 required by the human body), as well as anthaquinones, enzymes, lignin, minerals, saccharides, salicylic acids, saponins and, of course, vitamins. Here’s a breakdown of what aloe vera contains – its many active components 1:

  • Vitamin A (an antioxidant that helps to combat free radicals), Vitamin C (protects the body from cardiovascular disease, eye disease and prenatal health problems) and Vitamin E (another powerful antioxidant), as well as Vitamin B12, choline and folic acid

 

  • The health-aiding enzymes aliiase, alkaline amylase, bradykinase, carboxypeptidase, catalase, cellulase, lipase, peroxidease and phosphatase

 

  • human-body-enhancing minerals including calcium, chromium, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc

 

  • as many as 12 anthraquinones (laxatives), including aloin and emodin that can operate as analgesics and are capable of anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity too

 

  • the fatty acids beta-sisosterol, campesterol, cholesterol and lupeol, lending aloe vera anti-inflammatory properties

 

  • the hormones that are auxins and gibberellins are also anti-inflammatory and can aid with wound-healing.

 

Aloe vera health benefits

So, thanks to all these components; aloe vera is, on the inside of the body, capable of providing significant help with the following issues, conditions and functions:

 

Constipation

A number of studies have looked into the use of aloe latex from aloe vera as a laxative; as established, its anthraquinones provide it with a potent laxative effective, thus increasing water content in the intestines, leading to stimulation of mucus secretion and bringing about intestinal peristalsis (the contractions that ensure food’s broken down and blended with the intestine’s gastric juices and acidic fluid). Taking one study as an example (among 28 healthy adults), aloe latex achieved a successful laxative effect versus a placebo, ensuring it can be claimed not just to be a natural remedy for constipation but more effective than over-the-counter synthetic medicine specifically manufactured for that purpose2.

 

Digestion

Also because of its laxative benefits (in combination with its anti-inflammatory properties), aloe vera can aid another digestive area; this one being a function rather than an issue, though – general digestion. This is because it helps in the normalisation of acid-alkaline (pH) balance, reduces the formation of harmful yeast while encouraging ‘good’ digestive bacteria and contributing to the regularisation of bowel processing.

Indeed, for those suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), research has proved that oral consumption of aloe vera twice a day can reduce the level of discomfort (and flatulence)3, while another study on rat subjects with gastrointestinal issues has found that their gastric acid levels considerably decreased thanks to aloe vera4. It should be noted too that extracts of the plant can be deployed to soothe and heal stomach ulcers thanks to anti-bacterial, healing benefits that contribute to the restoration of the stomach lining.

 

Immunity

Among the aforementioned enzymes aloe vera contains, one in particular is of great benefit to the immune system. Bradykinase does a great job in stimulating the immune system and even going so far as to kill infections. Meanwhile, zinc – again, as mentioned, one of aloe vera’s constituent mineral – is essential for effective immune function (it’s crucial for hormone receptors and proteins in the body, which play a key role in healthy immune function); all of this then means the plant is a fine source for combating zinc deficiency.

Additionally, a recent medical report points out that aloe vera is now under consideration for use in dentistry, owing to its efficacy as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antifungal agent, in addition to its value in boosting the immune system without leading to allergic reactions or side effects5.

 

Diabetes

Finally, one of the major problems that those who suffer from diabetes encounter is the risk of cardiovascular complications. However, there is some evidence gleaned from human and animal subjects that points to aloe vera being effective at diminishing the chronic hyperglycaemia and perturbed lipid profile in diabetes sufferers that can lead to such cardiovascular issues 6.

 

Aloe vera natural supplements

Now, you might very well be aware of how and where to get hold of aloe vera-featuring skincare and cosmetic products, but where should you turn to for extracts of the plant that are suitable for consumption to benefit your body’s insides? Well, one way, of course – and one that’s probably not immediately obvious – is to go direct to the source itself; that is, to grow your own aloe as a potted plant at home. Yes, really. It’s not actually as expensive as it sounds. That said, if purchasing aloe vera seeds and tending to your very own plant seems a little extreme (if then you’d rather buy extracts than seeds to grow them from), then there is another option – natural supplementation. Indeed, among the different, excellent aloe vera supplements you’ll find we sell at The Finchley Clinic are these three following examples:



Aloe Fuzion – the highest quality, most bioavailable and most immunomodulatory version of aloe vera available.



Aloe Gold Natural – made from fresh, whole aloe leaves, this product uses gentle technology that extracts up to 20 times more vital nutrients than most other aloe juice and gels.


Aloe Gold Cherry/ Raspberry – a version of Aloe Gold blended with 7% unsprayed cranberry and cherry juices for a fantastic flavour.

 

References:

  1. Surjushe A., Vasani R. and Saple D. G. ‘Aloe vera: a short review’. Indian J Dermatol. 2008; 53 (4): 163–166. doi:  10.4103/0019-5154.44785.
  2. Foster M., Hunter D. and Samman S. ‘Chapter 3: Evaluation of the Nutritional and Metabolic Effects of Aloe vera’ in ‘Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects: 2nd edition’. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011.
  3. Khedmat H., Karbasi A., Amini M., Aghaei A. and Taheri S. ‘Aloe vera in treatment of refractory irritable bowel syndrome: Trial on Iranian patients’. J Res Med Sci. 2013 Aug; 18 (8): 732.
  4. Keshavarzi Z. et al. ‘The effects of aqueous extract of Aloe vera leaves on the gastric acid secretion and brain and intestinal water content following acetic acid- induced gastric ulcer in male rats’. Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014 Mar-Apr; 4 (2): 137–143.
  5. Sujatha G., Kumar G. S., Muruganandan J. and Prasad T. S. ‘Aloe vera in dentistry’. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014 Oct; 8 (10): ZI01-2. doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2014/8382.4983. Epub 2014 Oct 20.
  6. Syed T. A., Ahmad S. A., Holt A. H., Ahmad S. A., Ahmad S. H. and Afzal M. ‘Management of psoriasis with Aloe vera extract in a hydrophilic cream: A placebo-controlled, double-blind study’. Trop Med Int Health. 1996; 1: 505–09.

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