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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Adaptogen Lecture (Wonder Herbs: A Guide to Three Adaptogens)

Going to post this on Blog IV for more folks to appreciate.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Electromagnetic Fields and Your Health

The Dangers of EMF


by JP Saleeby, MD

Like the ancient Romans before us who drank their wine out of pewter goblets unaware that the sweetness those metal vessels bestowed upon their wine was the toxin some historians consider contributed to their downfall. Yes the acidic wine leached out enough lead from their pewter drinking vessels to effectively sterilize Roman nobility. Today in the 21st century we live our lives unwittingly damaging ourselves with what we hold in high quarters as advanced technology making our lives richer. Slamming our bodies with mega doses of Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs) has become this millennium's poison of choice. Are we willing to give up the convenience of calling a friend while stuck in traffic. Are we to put on hold whipping out our laptop computer while waiting for a lay-over at the airport. No I think not. Even going "green" and replacing our incandescent lightbulbs with the energy saving florescent lights has some evil EMF repercussions. Many are unwilling to give up these conveniences so easily as the latency of the harm they produce are so remote to use we make no real time correlation. Should we see a "heavy cell phone user" drop dead in front of us as he talks and texts away, it may give us pause. Unfortunately, much like mad cow disease, it is a smoldering slow process that likely takes years to manifest. We must pick out technology wisely and use those for daily living judiciously and sparingly.

Even when we know the dangers of smoking, nicotine addicts cannot put their cigarettes down. Alcoholics aware of their liver swelling have a hard time keeping dry. Will it take a golf-ball sized tumor to force us to stop holding the cell phone so close to our brains? Going without our lickidly-split communicators is too much for some technofiles to bear. But you have been warned. There is mounting evidence showing rather significant harm from EMF. In 2007 an international collaborative effort occurred with scientists from the US, Sweden, Austria and China that released a 650-page report evaluating some 2000 studies pointing the finger at the public health risk of EMF. The group's report sited a variety of cancers, immunity disruptions and ailments ranging from dementia to heart disease as having an etiology in EMF. Several countries in the European Union have dismantled wireless networks and cell towers near schools and public buildings for fear that there may be overexposure to children. In Israel there is a ban on the placement of cellular antennae on residential buildings and in Russia the government has advised children under the age of 18 against the use of cell phones. Now we hear that the state of Maine is trying to legislate a ban of cell phone use amongst youngsters.

Besides cell phones we have to concern ourselves with WiFi transmitters, microwave communication towers, the power transformers we all use to recharge our cell phones and computers, and the increasingly ubiquitous fluorescent bulbs (compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs)) that Lowes and Home Depot are hawking as an energy saving alternative to incandescent bulbs. Of course, there are the detractors who say this is all hog-wash, but they tend to be funded by the cell phone and utilities industries. The jury is probably still out on how much EMF we as humans can really tolerate and why some are more sensitive than others, but it appears that there is really something to it and whether it pans out or not, it would be prudent to protect ourselves best we can to limit exposure to EMFs. Recommendations are to avoid wireless when possible (use a land line or put your cell phone on speaker and get it away from your head). Pick a safer lightbulb, stay away from circuit breakers, give up the Bluetooth headsets, don't use your cell phone when service is spotty as cell phones give off more radiation to compensate for low tower strength. Don't wear your cell phone as an accessory, don't put your laptop on your lap. Unplug your rechargers when not in use and pick LCD over plasma screens.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Using Bioidentical hormones over synthetics: Why it is such a good idea.

Bioidentical Hormones & HRT

by JP Saleeby, MD

All the rage today is the use of bio-identical hormones.  We are seeing bioidentical hormones use for the replacement of insulin, thyroid hormones, and gonadal (sex) hormones, and the trend continues to be natural.  For our insulin dependent diabetics the last decade saw a transition away from using porcine based insulin derivatives to that of recombinant human forms.  With thyroid disorders there are those doctors who would rather see their patients on a natural bio-identical thyroid replacement of bothT3 and T4 in the correct ratios, rather than the single synthetic-T4 drugs offered.  And there are those physicians that would rather see their patients taking natural compounded sex hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone when the need arises rather than a synthetic blend offered by some pharmaceutical companies. 

The big issues (that remain controversial with physicians on both camps) are efficacy, reported well designed double blinded studies, cost and side-effects.  For me efficacy is a priori, by natural it goes without being said that what we replace in our bodies as the need arises should be of the same biochemical composition as what our own endocrine organs produce.  Replacement with a synthetic in theory opens up a can of worms to all sorts of untoward effects both short term and long term (as yet unrecognized or unrealized).  The paucity of controlled scientific studies for natural hormone therapy is due in part to the lack of financial support or underwriting of scientific trials on all things natural.  But that fact is changing as more studies are being published and there is growing acceptance of research outside the USA.  Cost is a factor as many natural and bioidentical therapies cost much less than the latest and greatest that the pharmaceutical industry has to offer.  Side effects is the last contested point.  If we take for a moment all the trouble realized with synthetic hormone therapy replacement for women in recent years with the use of horse estrogens and synthetic progestin compounds and the increase incidence of cancers, blood clotting disorders and gallbladder disease, it is no wonder many women choose the less insulting therapy found in bioidenticals .  My philosophy is that the closer we get to replacing hormones with an almost exact replica of what our own bodies once produced is the ideal situation.  Not only the biochemical components, but also the doses and timing (chronopharmacology) are important.  Appropriate testing do discern the need for HRT is the first step.  Once a deficiency is detected bioidentical hormone replacement (bHRT) is ultimately the best solution.  You can read in greater detail the types of hormones that should be tested and what type of bHRT is offered on my medical blog site:

For a limited time I will be offering free consultations for bHRT (a $300 value) to the first two new patients who qualify based on income and lack of health insurance status.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

FAQ about choosing source of EFA

[an answer to a question about which source of EFA to choose]

To answer your questions regarding n-3FA and Flax vs Chia vs Fish oil.  Using ground vs unground flax and the reason n-3FA is important in diet are outlined below.  Some references are listed below.

First of all omega-3-Fatty Acids (n-3FA) are important in human diet for several reasons.  They make up the outer cellular wall of each of our cells as part of the bi-lipid layer (eating poor fats high in n-6 and n-9 with low n-3) will result in a poor cellular structure and poor hormone receptors which poke out through this lipid bi-layer.  Intake of higher doses of good lipids (n-3) will result in a better cell wall function in 28 to 30 days.  Also DHA and EPA which are constituent parts of n-3FA are "brain food" so to speak.

So what type of n-3FA should you take.  10 years ago the rage was Fish Oil.  But with issues of over fishing, toxins (Hg, PCBs, and other heavy metals making their way into our fish) non-pharmaceutical grade fish oil is falling out of favor.  There are plant sources such as Flax, Borage, Chia and Hemp.  However, there is an important enzyme that converts precursor EFAs (ALA) to EPA and this is delta-5-desaturase.  The problem may be that some folks don't have enough d-5-destaurase activity or any at all.  This EFAs get "stuck" in this precursor lipid and don't progress to what the body really needs.  When you take a vegetable source of EFA that is the chance you run.  ALA is converted to DHA at a rate of 2-5% and to EPA at a rate of 2-15% in the body
in general.  DHA conversion from plant EFA is less than that obtained from animal sources (fish, etc.)  Finally EPA through an enzymatic pathway yields DHA.

So a "fish" or oceanic source of EFA may be of more benefit and eliminate certain enzymatic steps within our body.  Krill oil steps up to the plate as a very good alternative to fish oil.  It is lower on the food chain, thus not a repository for heavy metals and toxins.  It is very plentiful and over fishing of Krill should not be a problem.  Additionally, Krill contains the anti-oxidant Astaxanthin which is only available in large quantities in this organism and not in plant oils and has the unique property of crossing the blood brain barrier (protecting the brain, CNS and eyes).

The scoop on Flax seeds is this:  ... to store it for freshness keep in whole.  To get the most out of its EFA grind it up.  Intake of whole unground Fax or Borage seeds is a great source of fiber bulk, but smaller quantities of the oils will be made available for absorption.

Bottom line... the best vegetable source for EFAs is Chia seed & extract.  The best animal source for EFA is Krill.  Better yet is to take a mix of both.  Variety always trumps picking only one source of any nutrient.  Hope this helps.


JP Saleeby, MD



Fatty acids and lignans in unground whole flaxseed and sesame seed are bioavailable but have minimal antioxidant and lipid-lowering effects in postmenopausal women
Karen D. Coulman 1, Zhen Liu 1, John Michaelides 2, Winston Quan Hum 2, Lilian U. Thompson 1 *
1Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
2Robin Hood Multifoods Inc., Toronto, ON, Canada

*Correspondence to Lilian U. Thompson, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 150 College Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 3E2 Canada Fax: +1-416-978-5882
Funded by:
 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
 Robin Hood Multifoods Inc.

Antioxidants • Blood lipids • Flaxseed • Sesame seed • Tocopherols

Fatty acids and lignans in ground flaxseed and sesame seed are absorbed, metabolized, and exert some health benefits in vivo. However, it is unclear if they are absorbed, metabolized, and exert health benefits when consumed as ungroundg unground flaxseed, sesame seed, or their combination (12.5 g each) (flaxseed+sesame seed bar, FSB) for 4 wk each, separated by 4 wk washout periods. Total serum n-3 fatty acids increased with flaxseed (p<0.05) and FSB (p=0.064) while serum n-6 fatty acids increased with sesame seed (p<0.05). Urinary lignans increased similarly with all treatments (p<0.05). Plasma lipids and several antioxidant markers were unaffected by all treatments, except serum -tocopherol (GT), which increased with both sesame seed (p<0.0001) and FSB (p<0.01). In conclusion, fatty acids and lignans from unground seed in food bars are absorbed and metabolized; however, except for serum GT, the 25 g unground seed is inadequate to induce changes in plasma lipids and several biomarkers of oxidative stress. whole seed; therefore, it was investigated in this study. In a randomized crossover study, 16 postmenopausal women supplemented their diets with food bars containing either 25 

Received: 20 January 2009; Revised: 26 March 2009; Accepted: 4 April 2009




Saturday, January 2, 2010

Frankincense and medicinal application

As the Epiphany draws closer on Jan 6th and the story of the three Magi bearing gifts of Gold, Frankincense (Boswellia sp.) and Myrrh (Commiphora myrrha) comes to mind, we need to recall a study published in early 2009 in a bio-medical journal.  Frankincense a natural substance held in high regard for medicinal and spiritual healing in the middle east and Asia was shown to attack cancer cells of the bladder.  Not only did researchers find it attacked bladder cancer cells, it recognized normal health cells and did not destroy them.  The study used an extract of the oil of the Somalian Frankincense herb, Boswellia carteri.  There are other Boswellia species used such as B. serrata (Indian Frankincense) in Ayurvadic medicine and typically used to treat arthritis for centuries.


BMC Complement Altern Med. 2009 Mar 18;9:6.

Frankincense oil derived from Boswellia carteri induces tumor cell specific cytotoxicity.

Department of Urology, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, OK 73104, USA.
BACKGROUND: Originating from Africa, India, and the Middle East, frankincense oil has been important both socially and economically as an ingredient in incense and perfumes for thousands of years. Frankincense oil is prepared from aromatic hardened gum resins obtained by tapping Boswellia trees. One of the main components of frankincense oil is boswellic acid, a component known to have anti-neoplastic properties. The goal of this study was to evaluate frankincense oil for its anti-tumor activity and signaling pathways in bladder cancer cells. METHODS: Frankincense oil-induced cell viability was investigated in human bladder cancer J82 cells and immortalized normal bladder urothelial UROtsa cells. Temporal regulation of frankincense oil-activated gene expression in bladder cancer cells was identified by microarray and bioinformatics analysis. RESULTS: Within a range of concentration, frankincense oil suppressed cell viability in bladder transitional carcinoma J82 cells but not in UROtsa cells. Comprehensive gene expression analysis confirmed that frankincense oil activates genes that are responsible for cell cycle arrest, cell growth suppression, and apoptosis in J82 cells. However, frankincense oil-induced cell death in J82 cells did not result in DNA fragmentation, a hallmark of apoptosis. CONCLUSION: Frankincense oil appears to distinguish cancerous from normal bladder cells and suppress cancer cell viability. Microarray and bioinformatics analysis proposed multiple pathways that can be activated by frankincense oil to induce bladder cancer cell death. Frankincense oil might represent an alternative intravesical agent for bladder cancer treatment.

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