Nutritional Research Reviews: Seven surprising natural-health interventions you NEED to know NOW

Every month, I review from fifty to one-hundred and fifty research papers. These papers are typically about natural substances and natural energies and how they function in our bodies to maintain health, or ‘go wrong’ in disease. And while a small portion of the research I’m reviewing does mention patent medicines (sometimes called drugs or pharmaceuticals) those molecules are never found in nature – and are only patentable for that reason. They have very limited uses and applications in human bodies.

Unfortunately, as the twentieth century evolved into the ‘Century of Patent Medicines’ natural medicine took a back seat in many research circles. Promoted by mammoth patent medicine companies – and their bloated advertising campaigns – patent medicines have, sadly, become the standard of care for the vast majority of practicing doctors.

So, while a good portion of the research I’m reviewing every month is made up of the latest studies they are definitely not all of it. There’s always some research from decades past. Fortunately, if you know where to look, there’s a rich history of legacy research… stretching all the way back to the early 1900’s… on vitamins, minerals, amino acids, essential fatty acids, botanicals, and other natural-to-planet Earth substances and energies.

You’ve probably noticed the term ‘reviewed’ whenever I write about monthly research reading. That’s because, even though a fifth grade (year 6 of primary school) reading speed test – repeated under close supervision as the teacher didn’t believe it – found that my reading speed was 800 words per minute, there are very few people, if any (including me) who can read a scientific research paper at that speed.

The subjects are, naturally, technical and dense, and the authors, while skilled at scientific research, are frequently not as talented at English composition. Then there are the countless figures and tables found in many research papers, which often require not only reading glasses but magnifying glasses to decipher.

Fortunately, medical and scientific journals know this too, and require almost every research article to be published with an ‘abstract,’ which summarises the findings presented in the full report. This makes deciding which reports to read in full slightly easier. But, as useful as abstracts are, they often leave out key details. And, especially when writing about natural substances, they are often quite inaccurate. For example: Confusing horse oestrogen with human oestrogen, identifying alpha tocopherol as ‘vitamin E’ when it’s only one of several vitamin E fractions, writing as if the patent medicines medroxyprogesterone and levonorgestrel, and nature’s own progesterone are all the same (calling them all by the same name, ‘progestins’), telling us calcium is dangerous while ignoring the offsetting effects of magnesium… the list could go on and on.

So, while abstracts must be read with care – and while you should never believe one to be 100% accurate without reading the whole research article – they are a help. In fact they allow me to control the chaos by sorting articles into ‘must read,’ ‘should read,’ ‘read if there’s time,’ and ‘file to read when topic is important’ (such as when pertinent to someone’s immediate health issues) piles. Why tell you about this? Because this month I’ve selected a few research papers to share – briefly of course – with you. This entire issue will be a tour through a few of the research papers I’ve reviewed during the last 30 days. I’ll start with an ‘oldie but goldie’ pulled out of my files in preparation for a magazine interview about digestion.

RESEARCH REPORT #1 Tackle the ‘too little of a good thing’ tummy problem

The article, Normal Range of Gastric Acidity from Youth to Old Age was published in 1932.1 Mayo Clinic researchers performed stomach tests with 3,308 research volunteers… 1,454 women and 1,854 men… between the ages of twenty and seventy nine years old. They then reported on the percentage of individuals that they tested who were found to secrete suboptimal hydrochloric acid.

As might be expected, the frequency of the problem increased in both sexes with age until sixty-five. Women had a higher percentage of sub-optimal stomach acid secretion (hypochlorhydria and achlorhydria) than men in every age group. Here is a summary of what the researchers’ found:

The authors give a possible explanation for the drop-off in percent of individuals tested with low or not stomach acid in the their 70s: “After the age of 65 years there appears to be a definite falling off in the amount of [hypochlorhydria and] achlorhydria, possibly because persons with [hypochlorhydria and] achlorhydria are not as hardy or long-lived as are those who have a strongly acid gastric juice.”

This research paper review started with this 1932 classic for a reason. Good digestion is one of the basic building blocks for good health. In fact, it’s literally tied to how long we live. Yes, good digestion is really THAT important.

Nature and creation gave us stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes and other digestive and absorptive factors so that we can get the most out of the nutrients we take in. How can we expect to do that if we’re not digesting and absorbing the nutrients from our food as nature and creation intended?

Avoid the acid-blocker trap!

If you have digestive symptoms – regardless if they are minor nagging ones or the more serious heartburn and GERD – please don’t fall for the ‘acid-blocker trap’ without having your stomach acid actually tested! This is especially important if you’re over 40. Take another look at those statistics above from the 3,308 research volunteers tested at the Mayo Clinic!

It’s really a scandal: in forty years of natural medicine practice not one – yes, that’s 0% – of the several thousands of individuals seen at Tahoma Clinic who’ve been prescribed literally malnutrition-causing, acid-blocking patent medicines has ever had his or her stomach acid actually tested to see if too much stomach acid was causing the problem! Not one! And keep in mind Tahoma Clinic has been around since 1973 and now has 11 full-time and 2 part-time practitioners.

The reality is having sufficient stomach acid is critical to our health and longevity. And acid-blocking patent medications, when used for more than a very brief time, can make a bad situation worse. Low stomach acid can be at the root of many seemingly unrelated problems and supplementing with hydrochloric acid can help resolve those problems.

For further details about stomach acid testing (it’s gone ‘high tech’ since the 1930s), and the many reasons why stomach acid is so important, see the book Why Stomach Acid is Good for You, written by Lane Lenard Ph.D., and me. It’s available at the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary, some bookstores, and on-line.

RESEARCH REPORT #2 Boosting hormones with boron

Let’s leave 1932 behind as we fast forward to 2011 and a research report about the effects of the mineral boron on men’s hormones,2 followed by a visit to the 1980’s for another bit of boron research… this time on the mineral’s effect on women’s hormones.

In one study, published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine in 2011, the effects of boron on free testosterone levels in males were explored. The study involved eight male volunteers – the researchers actually began by describing their volunteers as the ‘volunteers for science.’ They did not call them ‘research subjects,’ as has become the habit of 99% of all researchers.

Apparently they don’t recognise that only Kings, Queens, Emperors, dictators, and tyrants have ‘subjects’, and that it’s not a big leap to go from being seen as ‘subjects’ to being seen as ‘objects.’ Unfortunately, later in the same research paper the authors of this study went back to describing the volunteers as ‘subjects’ again. When will researchers consistently give their research volunteers the respect they deserve?

But I digress, and will start over… In the 2011 study eight healthy male volunteers had blood drawn at 8 AM on ‘day zero’ (when they each took a placebo), day one, and day seven. Each of the volunteers took 10 milligrams of boron at breakfast on days one through to seven. The researchers wrote: “After one week (in samples taken at 8 AM, only) the mean plasma free testosterone increased and the mean plasma oestradiol decreased significantly” (for the technically inclined, p < 0.02 and p< 0.01).

Dihydrotestosterone, cortisol, and vitamin D all increased also, but not as significantly (p < 0.34, p < 0.25, p <0.32, respectively). Sex hormone binding globulin dropped – a good thing – (p < 0.27), and three markers of inflammation – C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL6), and tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) – all declined significantly, also (p < 0.11, p  < 0.09, and p < .05).

Even though this particular research is small scale, it confirms boron pioneer Forrest Nielsen Ph.D.’s findings from that 1980’s that showed that boron has significant effects on sex hormones.

Further, as Dr. Nielsen subsequently proved, the mineral boron is essential to life and is safe in these quantities. In addition to improving hormone status for men as well as women (see the next ‘research review’ article), boron has many other uses in our bodies.

The researchers wrote: “Recent findings also indicate that boron and borates have attracted scientific attention due to recent reports indicating that they may possess anti-carcinogenic properties. It has also been reported that boric acid inhibits human prostate cancer cell proliferation [and ingestion of boron in drinking water decreases the incidence of cervical cancer-related histopathological findings (for the non-technically inclined, less cervical cancer related changes). In a study on the combined effects of boron intake and HRT (hormone replacement therapy) use on lung cancer risk, it was reported for the first time that boron intake was inversely associated with lung cancer in women (in English, more boron, less lung cancer in women using HRT), whereas women who consumed low boron and did not use HRT were at substantially increased odds. Also, evidence exists that boron may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.”

Men, would you like to increase your own free testosterone, especially if it’s dropping lower than you’d like? Consider increasing your boron intake! Eat more boron-rich foods! See the chart below. Or try a boron supplement.

RESEARCH REPORT #3 The ‘miracle mineral’ your bones and hormones crave

Now let’s return to boron pioneer Forrest Nielsen Ph.D’s 1987 research report3 on boron’s effect on postmenopausal women’s hormone, calcium, and magnesium levels.

For this study twelve women (not ‘subjects’) between forty-eight and eighty-two years old stayed in a ‘metabolic unit’ where diet, exercise, and other circumstances were carefully controlled.

First, they were supplied a ‘conventional diet’ containing 0.25 milligrams of boron daily for  119 days. Seven of the twelve also had a low-magnesium dietary content, and five had adequate magnesium. For a second trial period, the only change was the addition of 3 milligrams of boron.

Boron supplementation significantly reduced all twelve women’s urinary loss of calcium and magnesium; it was reduced to an even greater extent in the women who had eaten the low-magnesium diet. Levels of oestradiol (for the technically inclined, 17-beta oestradiol) and testosterone also rose significantly with boron supplementation.

As these researchers concluded: “The findings suggest that supplementation of a low-boron diet with an amount of boron commonly found in diets high in fruits and vegetables induces changes in postmenopausal women consistent with the prevention of calcium loss and bone demineralisation.”

In addition, although it’s not controlled research, testing at Tahoma Clinic has shown that pre-menopausal women, as well as women on BHRT, supplementing boron showed the same effects as Nielsen’s 1987 report described.

Ladies, to keep your bones intact, while raising your oestrogen and testosterone levels, you should consider increasing your boron levels. You can get more boron both through diet (see the chart opposite for some boron rich foods to try) or through supplements.

If there’s osteoporosis in your family you may also want to consider taking at least 3 milligrams of supplemental boron daily for ‘insurance.’

RESEARCH REPORT #4 Why there’s much to fear from Frankenfoods

Let’s return to 2012 with very recent research on food. But, unfortunately this isn’t about food that’s good for us or tasty. This is the kind of stuff you shouldn’t touch with a ten (or even twelve) foot pole if you want to maximise your chances of staying healthy. In fact, when lab animals have been fed this so-called ‘food’ way too many of them developed health problems.

Deservedly called ‘Frankenfood’ you know what’s coming – yes it’s more solid research on another of the hazards of ‘GMOs.’ This research done in Europe, of course, where many countries have had the good sense to ban GMOs – reveals yet another potential hazard of these monstrosities.

This study gives us an excellent example of why ‘Copy Nature®’ is such an excellent idea that the phrase is trademarked – yes, by me.

The case against GMO corn

The title of the research tells us what’s coming: ‘Long term toxicity of a Roundup® herbicide and a Roundup®-tolerant genetically modified maize’.4 (In case you don’t know, maize is what the British and Europeans call corn, America’s native grain, which at present has been, at least 88% ‘GMO-ed’ by America’s ‘big agribusiness.’

Here it’s best to let the researchers tell you directly what they found. When necessary there will be [explanation] indicated.

“The health effects of a Roundup®-tolerant genetically modified maize (11% in the diet), cultivated with or without Roundup®, and Roundup® alone (from 0.1ppb in water) were studied 2 years in rats.” [That’s 0.1 parts per billion, a truly tiny amount. A ‘two years of rat-life’ study is a significant part of a rat’s life-time.]

“In females, all treated groups died 2-3 times more than controls, and more rapidly. This difference was visible in 3 male groups fed GMOs. All results were hormone and sex dependent, and the pathological profiles were comparable.

“Females developed large mammary tumours almost always more often than, and before controls. The pituitary was the second most disabled organ; the sex hormonal balance was modified by GMO and Roundup® treatments. In treated males, liver congestions and necrosis were 2.5-5.5 times higher. This pathology was confirmed by optic and transmission electron microscopy.” [‘Transmission electron microscopy’ is very high-tech. If it found liver congestion and necrosis – cell death – it was there!]

“Marked and severe kidney nephropathies [pathologic changes in kidneys] were also generally 1.3-2.3 times greater. Males presented 4 times more large palpable tumours than controls which occurred up to 600 days earlier. Biochemistry data confirmed very significant kidney chronic deficiencies; for all treatments and both sexes, 76% of the altered parameters were kidney related.” [Some maths: two years – not including a ‘leap year’ – is 730 days, and the large tumours appeared 600 days earlier. That’s after only 130 days, a little more than four months, of eating this Franken-corn!]

“These results can be explained by the non-linear endocrine-disrupting effects of Roundup®, but also by the overexpression of the transgene in the GMO and its metabolic consequences.” [Both the ‘Round-up® resistant gene’ inserted into these unnatural corn plants and the Round-up® itself are responsible for these effects.]”

Wow! Just a few months ago (Nutrition & Healing, July 2012) you read about how relatively small amounts of ‘Round-up’ – likely below the amount of exposure you’d get by spraying the stuff around your farm and garden, or even eating many Frankenfoods – depressed testosterone levels in rat cells.

Now, according to this study, we may be able to add kidney problems, pituitary abnormalities, breast tumours, and early death to the list.

Unfortunately, the GMO labelling initiative didn’t pass in California this year. Since the US medical authorities actually require down-to-the-calorie labelling of foods, it’s puzzling why they don’t believe it’s equally as important to inform people about the presence of GMO foods. If we can’t get rid of the stuff entirely, at the very least we have a right to know if it’s in our food!

The difference in Europe, compared with many parts of the world, including the US, is that there is compulsory labelling   of GMO-containing foods (at least those that contain more than 0.9% GM). However, in the EU, products such as meat, milk and eggs from animals fed on GMO animal feed do not need to be labelled.

In the meantime, don’t eat any likely-GMO’ed foods unless the label on the package says ‘No GMO!’

RESEARCH REPORT #5 The toxic danger lurking in your drinking water

Unless you’ve followed this next toxic topic closely, you probably don’t know how bad it really is. This fluoridation research can’t be written off as the work of some ‘rabid, kooky anti-fluoridationists.’ It comes to us straight from the Harvard School of Public Health.5

These Harvard researchers identified twenty-seven reliable research reports about fluoride and found that twenty-six of the twenty-seven came to the same conclusion: Fluoride in amounts commonly found in water supplies in the United States is significantly decreasing children’s IQ by approximately seven – that’s 7 – IQ points! (Sorry about the ‘boldface,’ I want to make sure no one misses that research finding.)

Only 10% of the UK – mainly the West Midlands and North East – receives flouridated water… although there are plans in progress to flouridate other parts of the UK.

Do you really want your children drinking water that contains a significant level of an IQ-destroying toxin? And then using even more in their toothpaste?

And why didn’t the media lead with big black headlines about these shocking findings? (The word ‘shocking’ is ‘way overused, but in this case it’s literally – shocking!) With just a little bit of research the media could have added to those non-existent news stories that the union of approximately 1500 scientists, engineers, and lawyers at the US Environmental Protection Agency condemned dumping toxic fluoride into anyone’s drinking water way back in 1999.6 (Yes, fifteen years ago!).

Oh, and one more thing. You can hear it now: “Whatever can we do to prevent tooth decay if there’s no fluoride in the water anymore?” My suggestion is to tell anyone asking this question to read the well-documented booklet (it’s also cheap!) Prevent Tooth Decay the Sweet Natural Way, which was written by Lane Lenard, Ph.D. and me. It’s available mostly at the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary, from a few dentists, and maybe on-line. The research reports it reviews prove that xylitol in chewing gum (or toothpaste) does a better job than fluoride, anytime! And it tastes a lot better, too!

There’s a longer article about the researched health hazards of fluoridation coming in Nutrition & Healing within a few months. Much thanks to www. for posting an excellent article on this topic which (among other things) accurately debunked the critics of this Harvard study!

RESEARCH REPORT #6 The amino-acid answer to prostate problems

The next ‘golden oldie’ is from 1958. The research describes a treatment for the symptoms of enlarged prostate (BPH) that worked then, and it, of course, still works now. As you read last month, if a food, a nutrient, or a group of nutrients had beneficial effects in human bodies in 1958, it will have the same effects in 2058 AD, and will still – if we have a time machine handy – have had those effects in 2058 BC.

None of that ‘it works for 17 years until the patent runs out’ stuff.

Copy nature! In this case, the researchers reported that a combination of three amino acids… glycine, alanine, and glutamic acid…  reduced or eliminated the symptoms of BPH.7 Let’s let the researchers – clinical practitioners all – tell how they discovered this remedy in their own words:

“The value of the GlycineAlanine-Glutamic Acid mixture for relief of symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy was suggested by a chance observation made by one of us, and an associate. A group of allergic patients were being given an amino acid mixture and during the course of treatment one of the patients volunteered the information that all of his urinary symptoms had disappeared.

This led to a trial of that particular amino acid mixture in non-allergic patients with urinary symptoms. Patients with enlarged prostates and associated urinary symptoms experienced prompt and rather spectacular relief of their symptoms. A number of animals fed on GMO animal feed do not need to be labelled. In the meantime, don’t eat any likely-GMO’ed foods unless the label on the package says ‘No GMO!’ 7 Nutrition & Healing January 2013 these patients have been observed over a prolonged period of time. They remain symptom free while taking the medication [not really, it’s amino acids, but these were 1958 ‘mainstream’ physicians], but soon after discontinuing it the symptoms of urgency, nocturia, etc., returned. This has been the experience of several physicians who have tried the amino acid treatment at our suggestion. These original findings have been confirmed by an independent controlled clinical test.”

Eliminate nighttime bathroom dashes?

Forty men aged 37 to 75 with enlarged prostates diagnosed in the usual way, with symptoms which included getting up at night to urinate, urinary urgency and frequency, prostate discomfort, and delayed urination took the three amino acid combination for three months, and a placebo for two months.

The treatment relieved getting up at night to urinate in 95% (complete relief in 72%), urgency was relieved in 81%, frequency in 73%, discomfort in 71%, and delayed urination in 70%. In contrast with the placebo, getting up at night to urinate was relieved in only 15% (complete relief in 5%), urgency was relieved in 11%, frequency in 15%, discomfort in 9%, and delayed urination in 4%.

While using the amino acid capsules, the size of the enlarged prostate was reduced in 93% of the men, and reduced to normal in 33%. On the other hand with placebo only 5% showed a reduction in prostate size, and no one normalised. There were no adverse effects of treatment.

Even though this treatment has been around since 1958, many of the men who come to Tahoma Clinic with prostate symptom treatment haven’t ever heard of it. Glycine, alanine, and glutamic acid are all part of ‘Prostate Formula’ by Copy Nature® which is available at the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary, which also contains zinc, lycopene, selenium, urtica, beta-sitosterol, pumpkin seed oil, and other natural substances. (Full disclosure – I am affiliated with ‘Copy Nature®’). If you want a more focused product containing greater quantities of only these three amino acids, there’s Prostex®, also available at Tahoma Clinic Dispensary and online.

RESEARCH REPORT #7 ‘Turn back time’ on ageing prostates & ageing skin with glycine

When reading the last research review, you likely noticed that the men involved had their symptoms return when they stopped taking the glycine, alanine, and glutamic acid. For some, that’s a bit disappointing. Why should men need to keep taking the treatment indefinitely? Why shouldn’t just eating more protein – which contains these amino acids – take care of this problem?

For one possible answer, let’s take a look at a research report from 2009 in which researchers may have given us the reason why men must keep taking at least one of these three amino acids to keep their symptoms under control.

In the process of understanding the reasons why this is the case, it becomes abundantly clear why women who want to slow the appearance of ageing should consider adding glycine to their supplement programmes as well.

What’s this? How does glycine favourably affect both a man’s prostate and a woman’s appearance? Readers of Nutrition & Healing shouldn’t be surprised, as they know that for every known function of each individual nutrient, there are likely another two dozen or more that we just don’t know about yet!

That’s one of the many reasons that the natural approach to medicine is so appealing and just plain fun. As you read in the last research review, the doctors were treating allergies and a man’s prostate got better! Unexpected beneficial effects happen frequently with natural medicine therapies.

By contrast, the large majority of unanticipated effects of patent medicines are unwanted and harmful, and often lethal. You may recall the AMA Journal article printed in 1998 in which the researchers reported that in 1994, 106,000 hospitalised patients died from fatal reactions to patent medicines.8

The collagen connection: is glycine an essential amino acid?

But back to that common link between this and the last research review. It’s collagen, the most abundant protein present in human bodies. It’s found all over, including prostate glands and skin. It’s actually our bodies ‘#1 by volume’ protein. If collagen decreases sufficiently in skin, you can literally see that the skin is thinner. The amino acid glycine makes up one-third of that ‘#1 protein.’ That means we need a lot of glycine!

The researchers explain that glycine has been considered a semi-essential amino acid, because human (and animal) bodies can make it from the amino acid serine. However, the researchers also wrote: “Clinical and nutritional studies during the past twenty years indicate that the amount of glycine available from internal body synthesis from serine is not enough to meet metabolic needs and that a dietary supplement is appropriate.”9

They review the complex biochemistry leading up to the internal production of glycine (I won’t even try to reduce this one to English, but the technically inclined can find it in the original article), and conclude, based on their work and that of others, that an average adult produces 3 grams of glycine daily (if stomach acid and pancreatic enzymes are optimally produced), and breaks down and absorbs 2.5 grams daily. (And this is only if there’s no ‘hidden’ gluten sensitivity or low stomach acid.)

But even though this adds up to 5.5 grams of available glycine daily, according to these same researchers that same average adult can use as much as 10 grams of glycine daily in rebuilding the body’s massive amounts of collagen, and for multiple other uses.

In other words, these researchers are saying that our bodies can obtain roughly half the glycine we need from our food and from what our own bodies can make internally – and the rest of what we need to stay optimally healthy just isn’t available!

Given this data, they suggest that glycine should be reclassified as an essential amino acid, and that a steady supply of glycine supplementation should be considered. But they point out that we won’t actually die without glycine supplementation, but rather that we will be limping along with suboptimal body protein repair and new protein synthesis, and may develop symptoms and illnesses that haven’t yet been recognised as being at least partly due to a shortage of available glycine.

A simplified point of view is that without glycine supplementation to replenish and repair collagen – remember, collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies – we probably will get older faster!

Prostate symptoms and thinning skin… both of which are presently said to be results of ageing… may be just two of many not-yet-recognised problems associated with insufficient glycine. Especially if you’re over 40, you might want to start using gelatin (a major source of glycine) in your cooking, and/ or add glycine to your ‘healthy ageing’ list of supplements.

And that’s all the ‘Research Reports’ there’s space for this month. If you like the format, we’ll do it again from time to time.

Wishing you the best of health,

Dr. Jonathan V. Wright
Nutrition & Healing

Volume 7, Issue 1 – January 2013

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.

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