Holly and I have just returned from Las Vegas. No, we don’t gamble. We know where the money came from to build all those fancy casinos! Instead, we were there with Dr. Alan Gaby and his family, where he and I taught the 17th edition of our four-day Nutritional Therapy in Medical Practice seminar.
During the intensive four-day course, we taught more than 500 attendees from a binder containing a 70-page review of the uses in medical practice of every essential nutrient (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids), as well as the uses of many important but not essential dietary factors, such as coenzyme Q10, L-carnitine, and others.
We also provided guidelines for nutritional treatment of over 100 health problems, both major and minor. All of the information was backed by thousands of citations taken from hundreds of medical journals (some even dating back to the early 19th century) and placed in a Reference Manual and Study Guide for the physicians taking the course to take home with them. This reference manual provides much more than enough evidence for any evidence-based medicine enthusiast.
This month, I’ll summarise for you just a few of the treatments presented at the seminar that you may not have read about recently in Nutrition & Healing.
One mineral reduces your risk of cardiovascular death
By now, magnesium is recognised in conventional medicine as an important part of cardiovascular disease prevention. However, even today, it’s not well known that injectable magnesium is often much more effective than taking magnesium orally. But that’s not because it’s a new finding. Since our first seminar in 1983, Dr. Gaby and I have included several significant reports about using injectable magnesium to increase your chance of surviving after a heart attack.
In one study, individuals with coronary heart disease (1/3 had acute myocardial infarction) were hospitalised, treated with anti-coagulants, stabilised, and then observed for one year. The death rate in that follow-up year was 30 per cent.
The next year, individuals with coronary heart disease (including acute myocardial infarction) were hospitalized and treated the same way. The only difference this time around was that the patients were given intramuscular injections of magnesium sulphate, 500 to 1,000mg daily every five days, for a total of 12 injections. During the next year, only 1 per cent died.1
The researchers observed that a maintenance dose of 1,000mg injected approximately every two weeks appeared to be necessary, and that oral magnesium appeared to be ineffective.
Another pioneering physician who used injectable magnesium reported that among individuals with coronary heart disease and angina, an appreciable number respond to parenteral [injected] magnesium sulphate, sometimes in a dramatic and almost unbelievable manner, and this after all conventional [in 1958] and accepted methods of therapy had failed and sufferers had lost hope of ever obtaining relief.
He treated 64 individuals with documented myocardial infarction or acute coronary insufficiency with magnesium sulphate injections. Of those 64, only one (1.6 per cent) died within four to six weeks of the initial attack, as compared with the average mortality rate of between 19 and 50 per cent, according to other reports in the 1950s for patients with similar problems who were not receiving injectable magnesium.
Prevent the most common form of kidney stones
In 1974, researchers from Harvard had a study printed in the Journal of Urology showing that calcium oxalate kidney stones (the most common kind) could be prevented by supplementing with magnesium oxide and vitamin B6.
In the study, 149 individuals with a multiyear history of recurrent calcium oxalate kidney stones took 300mg per day of magnesium oxide along with 10mgs a day of vitamin B6. During the six years of the study, the mean rate of stone formation fell from 1.3 kidney stones per year to 0.1 kidney stones per year, a very significant 92.3 per cent reduction.3 There were no side effects.
Yet even into the 90s, most urologists were still in the dark about this natural treatment, at least it seemed that way to me, since they never mentioned it to their patients. I made sure I always kept copies of the study on hand for calcium oxalate kidney stone sufferers to give to their uninformed urologists. And it still amazes me that to this day, I continue to encounter a few calcium oxalate kidney stone sufferers whose urologists haven’t told them to use magnesium and vitamin B6 every day!
Clear up your acne
Acne is an embarrassing problem that, for many people, persists long after adolescence. The good news is that a form of vitamin B3 called niacinamide and a naturally occurring substance called azelaic acid are both effective against the most common form of acne, called acne vulgaris.
In 1987, the British Journal of Dermatology reported two double-blind, placebo-controlled studies on using azelaic acid cream to treat acne.4 One of the studies, which involved 40 patients, showed that azelaic acid was significantly more effective than the placebo in reducing the degree of acne and the number of inflamed lesions after one, two and three months of observation. Side effects were reported to be minimal.
And in an eight-month study involving 859 individuals, researchers found that topical azelaic acid was as effective as commonly used topical benzoyl peroxide and retinoic acid (a form of vitamin A). As an added benefit, it caused significantly fewer side effects than those agents. Topical azelaic acid was also found to be as effective as orally administered tetracycline.
In 1995, the International Journal of Dermatology reported on a study comparing the topical use of a 4 per cent niacinamide gel with a 1 per cent clindamycin gel (a commonly used antibiotic) in 76 individuals with acne. After eight weeks, 82 per cent of those using niacinamide showed improvement, as compared with 69 per cent of those using clindamycin.5
At present, topical niacinamide gel is available over the counter and online; and azelaic acid is available on prescription only in the UK, so speak to your doctor if you are interested in using it.
Make morning sickness ancient history
Many women may consider morning sickness to be a necessary evil that comes along with pregnancy. But it doesn’t have to be. There are natural treatments that have been shown to completely eliminate or at least to drastically reduce this much less-than-pleasant perk of pregnancy.
I’ve written before about the major health benefits of vitamins C and K3 especially in the fight against prostate and other forms of cancer. But this little-talked-about vitamin duo can also bring major relief to women suffering from bouts of morning sickness.
In a study reported on in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 70 pregnant women with mild to severe nausea and vomiting each took 5mg of vitamin K3 and 25mg (yes, that’s correct) of vitamin C daily.6 After just three days, over 90 per cent of the women (64 in all) had complete relief of their nausea and vomiting. Three stopped vomiting but were still nauseated, and only three experienced no relief.
This article was published in 1952. Thirty years later, when the same medical journal printed an editorial complaining that the last effective treatment for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy had been taken off the market (it was a patent medication called Bendectin), Dr. Gaby and I decided to have some fun with the article. We wrote a letter to the editor reminding them of the effectiveness of vitamins K3 and C which they themselves had published three decades before!
Between 1943 and 1995, seven articles were published exploring the influence of vitamin B6 on morning sickness. Overall, the studies found this vitamin to be partially effective for alleviating morning sickness, though it wasn’t as effective as vitamins K3 and C.
Other articles have provided persuasive evidence that morning sickness may be the result of a temporary weakness of the adrenal glands.7,8 In one study, 202 pregnant women with morning sickness were given adrenal cortical extract (ACE). Eighty-five per cent of the women (173 in all) experienced either complete relief or definite improvement. They experienced the most rapid results with an ACE injection. In fact, most of the women were able to discontinue the treatment after the first trimester of pregnancy.
Unfortunately, in the 1970s the medical authorities declared ACE ineffective for any purpose, and almost all sources disappeared entirely at that time. (Don’t believe them, though: doctors skilled and knowledgeable in natural therapies knew and still know that ACE has literally hundreds of effective uses and zero hazards.)
Given the evidence and availability, the best option for pregnant women today is to take 5mg of vitamin K3 and 500mg of vitamin C (not the 25mg dose used in the study). These two vitamins are available from natural health food stores and online sources. If you want to try vitamin B6, it’s available from those sources as well.
Vitamin A’s connection to difficult menstrual cycles
A study reported in the South African Medical Journal found that women who suffer from a condition known as menorrhagia (unusually heavy menstrual bleeding) had significantly lower serum vitamin A levels than women with more normal menstrual flow. Forty women with menorrhagia each took 50,000 IU of vitamin A daily for 15 days. The cycles returned to normal in 23 of the 40 women. Another 14 had substantial reduction but not complete normalisation. Only three showed no improvement.9
But it appears as if vitamin A is also effective in addressing the opposite problem, an absence of menstrual periods (called amenorrhea). Researchers studied a group of six young women who had no menstrual periods and found that they all had significantly low levels of 17-beta oestradiol (the most potent form of human oestrogen). When the women were given 60,000 units of vitamin A daily, their 17-beta oestradiol increased an average of 200 to 300 per cent, and their menstrual periods resumed.
A sweet solution to childhood ear infections
All physicians skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural medicine have plenty of clinical evidence showing that ear infections can be completely eliminated by doing two things: eliminating refined sugar and eliminating and desensitising food allergies.
But as it turns out, there’s a sweet alternative to sugar that can also prevent this commonly recurrent childhood ailment.10 It’s a naturally occurring sugar-alcohol called xylitol.
In a double-blind, placebo controlled study, 857 children were randomly assigned to take xylitol chewing gum, xylitol syrup, xylitol lozenges, or a placebo. In the placebo group, 41 per cent of the children got at least one acute ear infection. Comparatively, those in the xylitol lozenge group had 20 per cent fewer acute ear infections, those in the xylitol syrup group had 30 per cent fewer infections, and those in the xylitol chewing gum group had 40 per cent fewer ear infections. (The 40 per cent and 30 per cent reductions were statistically significant.) There were no side effects observed.
Xylitol chewing gum, xylitol breath mints, and other xylitol products are available from natural health food stores. As always, read the label, and reject products containing artificial flavouring, colouring, preservatives, or any other chemicals.
Straighten out this little-talked-about erectile problem
In Peyronies disease, fibrous tissue forms and spreads along the penile shaft, leading to slowly increasing, and often painful, curvature. After a few years, it’s possible for the curvature to be so pronounced that it becomes impossible to have sex. As is the case with kidney stone prevention, an unknown-to-most urologists remedy has been detailed in every edition of the PDR ever since my first year in practice, 1970. (The PDR, or Physicians Desk Reference, contains a detailed description of nearly every patent medication available and is in every doctor’s surgery throughout the United States.) But in this case, the remedy described isn’t a space alien molecule it’s a vitamin found in most B-complex vitamin preparations, called para-aminobenzoic acid (or PABA).
According to the PDR: twenty-one patients with Peyronies disease were placed on [brand name for PABA] therapy for periods ranging from 12 months to two years. Pain disappeared from 16 of 16 cases in which it had been present. There was objective improvement in penile deformity in 10 of 17 patients, and decrease in plaque [a term used to describe the fibrotic area] size in 16 of 21 patients. There were no significant untoward effects encountered on long-term [brand name for PABA] therapy.11
Potassium iodide (SSKI) is another anti-fibrotic therapy well known to many physicians skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural medicine. To use this treatment, make a mixture of 50/50 SSKI and DMSO (dimethyl- sulfoxide) and rub it into the Peyronies plaque. But first, be sure to apply vitamin E in order to protect your skin from the drying effects of the DMSO.
When you use this treatment twice a day for several months or longer, the combination softens, lessens, and frequently reduces Peyronies to a minimal problem. The only side effect of this treatment is the garlic odour of DMSO, which lasts for two to four hours. Obviously, there are occasions when this is not desirable. For those occasions, you can skip the treatment.
PABA and SSKI therapy used simultaneously for Peyronies disease achieve better results than either used alone. Although the PDR suggests using 12g daily of a brand of PABA, I have observed during my 30 plus years of practice that you dont need to use that much: 8g (4g, two times a day) or 9g (3g, three times a day) is usually enough to do the job, especially when the SSKI/DMSO mixture is also applied.
Un-handicap your hands
Dupuytrens contracture is a somewhat more common fibrotic condition that occurs along the course of a tendon in the palm of your hand. The first sign of the disease is that the area above your tendon gets slightly thicker. The thickening gradually enlarges and spreads. As it worsens, the finger served by that tendon gets pulled toward the palm of your hand.
After several years, it’s not unusual for the finger to be curved so severely that you can’t use it at all. When it gets to that point, doctors usually recommend surgery. Fortunately, if you start treatment with PABA and SSKI/DMSO shortly after you begin noticing the first signs of Dupuytrens contracture, you can stop the problem from progressing and can often even eliminate it.
The PDR lists potential adverse effects of high dose PABA as anorexia (loss of appetite), nausea, fever, and a rash, but these symptoms disappear promptly as soon as you stop using PABA. I’ve only observed them once in my 30 years of practice, though. Other sources note that high doses of PABA can decrease your white blood cell (WBC) count. This is simple to check for, is very rarely found, and will clear up as you reduce or eliminate the dose of PABA.
The same PDR page notes that scleroderma, dermatomyositis, morphea, and linear scleroderma (all relatively rare conditions with no known cause or cure) have all been improved by PABA treatment. Since this information has been in the PDR for over 30 years, the only explanation for such obvious neglect of PABA treatment is that it’s not a patent medication.
The no-side-effect way to treat OCD
It’s true that a variety of patented psychotropic medications (especially SSRI-type antidepressants) have been found effective in reducing the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder but it’s also true that every single one of them has significant adverse effects.
Fortunately, there’s a natural solution to the problem that has virtually no side effects. It’s an important natural metabolite in humans called inositol. In a double-blind, crossover study, 13 individuals with significant OCD took either 18g (18,000mg) daily of inositol powder or a placebo in random order for six weeks. When tested on a well-recognised scale of measurement for OCD symptoms, these individuals all tested better during the time they were taking inositol than they did when they took the placebo.
You can get inositol from natural health food stores and online sources.
Alleviate chronic pain with 2 common natural substances
Pain is typically a symptom of an underlying health problem. But what do you do when you don’t know what’s causing the pain? Most mainstream doctors would load you up on NSAIDs and send you on your way. But a better answer might be as simple as supplementing with vitamin D.
In a Mayo Clinic study,13 150 individuals were seen at an inner city clinic between February and June 2002 with persistent non-specific musculoskeletal pain. The researchers found that 140 of 150 people (93 per cent) were deficient in vitamin D. (Their serum level was less than 20 nanograms per millilitre.)
Another study done in Arabia involved 360 individuals (90 per cent women) who had unexplained chronic low back pain for at least six months. When they were tested, 299 (83 per cent) had an abnormally low level of vitamin D. All of these individuals improved with vitamin D treatment. Even some of the individuals with normal pre-treatment levels of vitamin D had less pain when treated with vitamin D, for a total of 95 per cent improved (341 of 360).14
But vitamin D isn’t the only nutrient capable of improving chronic pain. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 14 individuals with chronic pain were treated with either 500mcg of molybdenum or a placebo daily. The researchers found that molybdenum was significantly more effective than the placebo in relieving pain.15 The effects of molybdenum became noticeable within several days of starting treatment, but wore off again several days after molybdenum was discontinued.
Wishing you the best of health,
Dr. Jonathan V. Wright
Nutrition & Healing
Vol. 9, Issue 3 • March 2015
Full references and citations for this article are available in the downloadable PDF version of the monthly Nutrition and Healing issue in which this article appears.