Getting LASIK Surgery

What Should be the Motivating Factors to Getting LASIK Surgery?

The development of LASIK laser eye treatment in the 1990s has improved the quality of life for millions of people throughout the world. One of the most sought-after corrective laser procedures due to its short procedure time and rapid visual recovery. 

It’s natural for people to ask if LASIK eye surgery is a good option for them, given the procedure’s widespread publicity and high success rate. In this article, we’ll take a deeper look at eye surgery with LASIK to see if it’s the perfect option for you, how it operates, and how it can enhance your life through improved vision.

What is Eye Surgery LASIK?

Eye Surgery LASIK

Laser-Assisted in-situ keratomileusis is more commonly known as LASIK. This surgical treatment reshapes the cornea to improve eyesight and eliminate the need for corrective lenses. It is effective, precise, and carries a negligible risk of problems that are easily remedied and rarely result in permanent vision loss.

Multiple types of refractive defects are amenable to LASIK eye surgery. For instance;

  • Up to +4.00 D of hyperopia (farsightedness)
  • Up to -12.00 D Myopia (nearsightedness)
  • And a 5.00 D of astigmatism with them.

Millions of individuals around the world who have trouble seeing can now look forwards to a brighter future because of this. If you’re considering surgery with LASIK, your doctor will assess if you’re a good candidate during your first consultation. 

Fortunately, if you decide eye surgery using LASIK isn’t for you, there are many more laser eye treatment options available thanks to recent advancements in the field. learn more about laser eye surgery cost by clicking here.

When LASIK is Performed, How Does it Work?

LASIK is Performed

Your LASIK eye doctor will use a Femtosecond Laser to cut a tiny flap in the cornea. In order to correct the specified visual issue, the freshly generated flap is lifted, and a second laser is utilised to remodel the corneal tissue lying beneath. Next, the corneal flap is repositioned.

The ultimate effect is a cornea that better focuses light on the retina, resulting in sharper vision. Even though most patients have a sudden and significant improvement in their eyesight, it continues to enhance over the next few weeks.

Is LASIK a Good Idea for You?

Here are some pointers to consider as you weigh the benefits and drawbacks of LASIK eye surgery in light of our newfound knowledge.

LASIK eye surgery is something to think about if you:

Need to Achieve Complete Visual Independence in One Day

Fast recuperation time is a major selling point for LASIK eye surgery. Although there are a number of approaches to addressing vision problems, very few of them offer quick fixes that last. Some people are interested in the possibility of having their vision improved but are not yet prepared to undergo the laser eye treatment. 

However, most eye doctors will be ready to schedule your LASIK surgery right away. In addition, you might be able to ditch your corrective lenses altogether after surgery.

Have negative experiences with contacts or glasses

You should really consider eye surgery with LASIK if you have a strong dislike for either your glasses or your contacts. Glasses and contacts are something that some individuals may love using, while many others learn to despise for various reasons. 

Glasses can pinch, shatter easily, and get in the way when you’re trying to be active or do particular things, which are all reasons why many people choose not to wear them. However, contact lenses can have negative side effects, including dry eyes and other irritations. 

In addition, they all have the potential to induce nausea, vomiting, or dizziness. But with LASIK eye surgery, most people never need to wear corrective lenses again.

Health Related Problems

Similarly, if you’re worried about your health, LASIK eye surgery could be a good investment. For those who suffer from vertigo, migraines, and other conditions that might be exacerbated by wearing glasses, this is a real concern. 

Furthermore, wearing contacts can be very unpleasant if you have allergies or any other eye-related concerns. This is due to the fact that exposure to them might result in symptoms such as dryness, redness, irritation, itching, ocular infections, and oxygen deprivation. Putting contacts in eyes that are already having problems can exacerbate the condition.

Booster of Confidence

Booster of Confidence

Some people feel more confident when they wear glasses, but for others it’s the opposite. If you fall into the second category, LASIK eye surgery is a rapid and effective solution. Instead of being shackled by glasses that make you feel less than your best, LASIK surgery could be your ticket to freedom and a positive self-image.


Some sports and other physical pursuits are inaccessible to people who must wear glasses. This is due to the fact that glasses are prone to breaking in the midst of any sort of vigourous exercise. Payment for specialist (and typically quite costly) athletic eyewear is one solution. 

Instead, you can try hiding them inside a (often very unattractive) protective cover, which won’t necessarily keep your glasses from slipping off or breaking even if you’re careful. But if you have eye surgery with LASIK, you won’t have to worry about breaking your glasses or hurting your eyes while playing sports because the surgical procedure eliminates the need for corrective lenses.

Work Responsibility

If you work in an environment where glasses or contacts aren’t allowed, that’s another plus for surgery with LASIK. Many law enforcement-related institutions and programmes exclude people with visual impairments, including police forces, fire departments, and the armed services. In order to avoid missing out on your ideal career because of vision problems, LASIK eye surgery is a fast and simple option to consider.

Constant Movement

Finally, your glasses or contacts might be starting to bother you if you’re a frequent flyer. The more you travel, the more likely it is that you may lose, misplace, or damage your glasses or contacts. There are a lot of places in an airport or railway station, hotel room, or restroom where you could accidentally set down your glasses case or remove your contacts and lose them forever. If you spend the money on eye surgery involving LASIK, you won’t have to worry about your eyesight again.

Contact Personal Eyes Today to Schedule Your FREE LASIK Consultation

It’s safe to say that you’re not alone if LASIK surgery is something you’re considering. As many as a million people have already had this laser eye treatment done, and another million are just waiting for the proper time to schedule it. 

LASIK surgery can be the ticket to visual independence for anyone with blurred vision who values mobility, athleticism, health, tired of glasses or wear contact lenses, or the pursuit of a new job but is limited by their eyesight. However, because each person’s situation and outcomes are unique, you should carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks of the procedure before deciding to go through with it.

Personal Eyes’ mission is to provide information to everyone interested in learning how to better their eyesight. And if you are seriously considering laser vision correction, you need first ensure that you are a suitable candidate.

If you are having any question or inquiry about how to have a correct vision. Laser eye surgery procedure, Corneal tissue problems, Lasik surgery, laser beam in healing process, excimer laser usage, refractive eye surgery, laser treatment, laser suite, contact sports, the surgical procedure for refractive surgery or Lasik laser eye surgery – you should get in touch with us via our Personal Eye website to book your free assessment today.

sydney eye clinic

Common Questions About Diabetes and Eye Surgery: Sydney Eye Clinic

What are the risks of having cataract surgery if I have diabetes?

In most cases, patients with diabetes can safely undergo any kind of eye surgery. However, your overall health and absence of any other medical concerns will determine whether or not you are a candidate for eye surgery.

In rare situations, your overall health or other medical concerns may need you to postpone eye surgery. To find out if you are a candidate for eye surgery and when it would be best for you to have the procedure, consult with an ophthalmologist.

Prior to any major surgical procedure, you will likely have an appointment with sydney eye clinic or ophthalmologist to make sure your diabetes is not affecting your eyesight. 

First, you’ll want to get your eyes checked by an optometrist for a quick check-up, and then you may visit an ophthalmologist for a more thorough examination. Additional care will be discussed and planned for in the weeks leading up to your scheduled eye surgery.

All of the medical professionals working on you, from the ophthalmologist to the anaesthesiologist to the surgical nurses and the clinical team, are well-versed in caring for patients with diabetes and are committed to ensuring that you have the best possible surgical outcome. Care of this calibre is provided before, during, and after operation.

We have taken due diligence to publish articles such as this to help you live a healthy life. Our Personal Eye doctors are professionals who create medium for eye health through laser vision correction, various laser treatment and surgeries in New South Wales and the rest of Australia. 

Eye patients have been choosing eye drops, intravitreal injections, and surgeries such as pterygium surgery, LASIK surgery and other latest technology for their eye conditions. we hope that you will find this post about home techniques to manage itchy eyes, which was written by our refractive surgeons, resourceful.

Related: Considering Eye Surgery? LASIK May Be the Right Option for You

Does my HbA1c or blood sugar need to be under control before surgery?

Blood sugar level (BSL) levels tend to differ from patient to patient since diabetes is a complicated condition. Because of this, you should learn the proper methods for managing your diabetes from both your primary care physician and endocrinologist; there is no “one size fits all” solution.

If you want to keep your diabetes under control as much as possible, you may need to keep your average BSL or HbA1c level within a certain range. When you’re inside this range, you’re at peak health and safety for any medical or surgical operation, including eye surgery.

There is a low chance of problems after standard eye surgeries. To further improve your chances of a successful surgical outcome, however, you should ensure that your blood sugar and/or HbA1c levels are within the ‘safe’ range before the procedure.

Your ophthalmologist will coordinate with your primary care physician and endocrinologist to get you ready for surgery.

When I have my eyes fixed, do I have to fast?

Before undergoing eye surgery, patients are often told to abstain from all food and liquids. This is because some patients have a temporary loss of reflexes after receiving sedatives from their surgeon prior to an eye operation.

There is always the risk of choking or vomiting if there is food or liquid in your stomach. If this occurs, the food particles may go to the lungs, where they may obstruct or even damage the airways.

Talk to your eye surgeon ahead of time about your requirement for regular meals and fluids if you have diabetes. For this reason, diabetic patients are generally put at the front of the line for scheduled eye surgeries.

Should I stop taking my medicine before having surgery on my eyes?

Your ophthalmologist has to know about any and all medications you are taking, not only those for diabetes. It all depends on the sort of operation you’re having, but you may be asked to cease taking your medicine. If you’re having eye surgery, for example, you could be told to cease taking your blood thinners.

This is something that you and your treating doctors will need to address. You may feel confident that you will get detailed, written instructions well in advance of your operation if you need to make any adjustments to your regular prescriptions.

In order to have the most successful outcome from my upcoming eye surgery, what should I do in advance?

Before undergoing eye surgery, it’s advisable to follow the pre-op BSL optimisation recommendations of both your ophthalmologist and primary care physician/endocrinologist. The better your chances of having a successful operation and recovery, the longer your BSL stays within the recommended range for you (as determined with your doctor).

What can I expect if I have diabetes and need surgery?

After the procedure, you should be able to see beautifully. It’s possible that diabetic patients‘ “follow-up pathway” is modified slightly.

Your ophthalmologist may recommend more regular check- ups after surgery to check for any complications caused by your diabetes and its possible impact on your eyesight. You may end up needing to see an eye doctor more often than you anticipated, but this is temporary and will ultimately be to your benefit.

During my recuperation, what should I anticipate?

Recuperation following eye surgery often isn’t affected by diabetes. However, it’s possible that you’ll go through the typical recuperation hiccups. After having cataract surgery, for instance, many people report feeling like there’s something gritty in their eye.

Eyelid cleanliness, as instructed by your optometrist and/or ophthalmologist, and the postoperative eye drops supplied to you should help with this.

It’s vital that you report any unusual symptoms to your eye care team so they can be looked at. During your follow-up appointments after eye surgery, every member of your eye care team will assess your progress and provide recommendations for how to speed up your recovery.

Be sure to take it easy for at least a week after surgery. This includes putting aside time for things like golf, gardening, and swimming. Sunglasses are essential for protecting your retina from harmful UV rays throughout the healing process and should be worn at all times outside.

Your current glasses will work fine for reading and watching television. The likelihood of a prescription changes a month following surgery is high.

Maintain your usual routine of testing your blood sugar levels (BSL) and taking your diabetic medicines as directed by your primary care physician or endocrinologist.


If you are having any question or inquiry about how to have a correct vision, cataract surgery, Laser eye surgery, laser vision correction, diabetic retinopathy, minimally invasive glaucoma surgery, normally clear lens, vision loss, retinal conditions, short sightedness, – you should get in touch with us via our Personal Eye website to book your free assessment today.

Consider the factors outlined in this blog post, weigh the pros and cons, and most importantly, consult with a Sydney cataract surgeon at Personal Eyes before making the final decision.

surgery lasik

Considering Eye Surgery? LASIK May Be the Right Option for You

Lasik surgery is by far the most popular laser eye surgery procedure available today. This vision correction procedure is great for a wide array of vision problems and could be just what you need to start seeing better.

But before you go in for LASIK or any laser eye surgery, for that matter, it’s important to know the facts.

In this article, we’re diving into everything you need to know about laser eye surgery lasik. We touch on what happens during the procedure, what it’s for, and even the potential risks of laser eye surgery that you must discuss with your doctor.

Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Lasik Eye Surgery?

LASIK is a type of laser eye surgery that involves reshaping the cornea. When you have vision issues, you’ll typically have a misshapen cornea that doesn’t focus light to the retina properly. This is why you may have blurred vision when looking at objects that are far or close to you.

Typically, people wear glasses and contact lenses to correct this issue. When you wear contact lenses and glasses, you refocus the light so that it hits the retina just right, giving you clear vision. And while glasses or contact lenses are great options for many people, they are not permanent.

Laser vision correction is a common procedure that can correct vision issues long-term. Before laser eye surgery, your doctor will likely measure your corneal tissue to determine the reason you aren’t seeing properly.

From there, the doctor uses a sophisticated femtosecond laser to reshape your cornea, allowing light to focus on your retina. Your surgeon will tell you to place numbing eye drops on your eyes before the surgery lasik procedure so the entire ordeal is quick and painless.

surgery lasik

Laser eye surgery and LASIK are fairly simple procedures that usually take no more than 30 minutes. On top of that, the benefits of refractive surgery last a lifetime for most patients. So, if you’re tired of wearing corrective lenses for your blurry vision, discuss the laser eye surgery options with your doctor today.

What Is Lasik Eye Surgery For?

Laser eye surgery is one of the most common vision correction procedures that doctors perform for a variety of issues. Here are some of the conditions where laser eye surgery is the ideal treatment option.


Refractive surgery can greatly benefit individuals with myopia or nearsightedness. When you have a near-sighted eye, your distance vision is affected. This means that you’ll have a much harder time seeing distant objects that are far away from you. However, most people with myopia can still see closeby objects clearly.

Typically, patients manage their myopia with contact lenses or glasses. However, laser surgery offers a long-term solution for myopia.

Those with myopia have eyeballs that are too long and a sharp curve on their cornea. During laser surgery, your doctor will reshape the cornea so that light hits the retina perfectly, making it easier to see objects from a distance.


Hyperopia is the opposite of myopia. Patients with this condition can see long-distance objects clearly, but can’t see things that are close up. This is also called long-sightedness and is far less common than myopia nowadays.

This occurs when your eyeball is smaller than usual, or you have a flat cornea. Doctors can use laser eye treatment to correct this refractive error using an excimer laser to reshape your cornea. This improves your eye’s focusing power and can give you clear vision for many years to come.


Astigmatism is characterised by overall blurred vision. This is the result of an uneven cornea and makes everything blurry. Since this is a cornea issue, vision correction surgery is a great option for many patients.

What to Expect When Getting Lasik Surgery

While laser eye surgery is a common and fairly simple treatment, it’s important to know what occurs when you go in for this surgical procedure. That way, you have realistic expectations, and the entire process will be much easier.

surgery lasik

Before Surgery

Before your laser treatment, your laser eye surgeon will take precise measurements of your cornea and assess your overall health. For the best results, it’s important to go through a comprehensive exam to ensure that you’re a good candidate for the procedure.

If you wear contact lenses for your condition, your doctor will ask you to remove them for at least a week before the surgery. This is because lenses can reshape your cornea, and it might influence the doctor’s measurements, causing complications down the line.

The most important step before getting refractive eye surgery is a consultation. Your doctor will probably ask you about your health history and current medications and look for possible eye infections. That way, they can determine whether or not LASIK surgery is the best treatment option for you.

During the Procedure

A LASIK eye surgery only lasts around 30 minutes. It’s best to wear comfortable clothes during the procedure, so you’re completely at ease while the doctor reshapes your cornea. Right before the eye surgery, your doctor will ask you to place eye drops that will numb your eye, so you don’t feel anything.

From there, they use a laser beam to shape your cornea according to their previous measurements. This is one of the fastest and most effective vision correction options available, and it only lasts a few minutes.

After the doctor reshapes the cornea, they put the corneal flap back in place. For those with two affected eyes, the surgeon typically performs surgery on both eyes on the same day.

After the Procedure

Right after the procedure, you will have blurry vision, and your eyes will likely feel burned and itchy. This is why we recommend having a friend or partner pick you up and bring you home after the procedure.

It will take two or three months before your eye fully heals from the procedure. However, your doctor will ask you to visit for a follow-up appointment a few days after the surgery to check on your eyes. After that, you’ll need to visit your doctor after a few weeks to assess how your eyes heal.

Conclusion: Is LASIK Laser Eye Surgery Ideal for You?

If you have poor eye health, you might want to consider getting laser eye surgery. The procedure is fast, simple, and provides you with long-lasting results. It’s great for various conditions, so speak to your doctor today to determine if it’s the right pick for you!

eye surgery lasik

Eye Surgery LASIK – Is This the Right Treatment for You?

Many Australians suffer from vision problems. And while most of them are content to wear glasses or contact lenses their entire lives, you might be interested in longer-lasting vision correction procedures.

This is where laser eye surgery, LASIK, and SMILE treatments come in handy. The laser eye surgery procedure is simple, takes under an hour, and provides patients with a clear vision for many years.

But should you be asking your doctor about laser eye surgery?

While laser eye and lasik surgery are great treatments for various conditions, they aren’t for everyone. Many people aren’t ideal candidates for laser eye surgery. And today, we’ll explain all the details of the procedure so you can decide if it’s the right choice for you.

Keep reading to learn more.

What Is LASIK Laser Eye Surgery?

We’ll start by explaining what laser eye surgery is. Basically, this procedure involves using an advanced laser beam to reshape the cornea and correct different vision problems. This is a very common procedure that many patients undergo for vision correction.

Doctors typically use either an excimer laser or a femtosecond laser during the surgical procedure, allowing them to operate on your eye with great precision and accuracy. On top of that, since the doctor applies numbing eye drops before LASIK surgery, most patients don’t feel any pain.

Laser eye treatment’s ultimate goal is to allow patients to see much better. After laser treatment, you won’t have to wear contact lenses and glasses while expecting the results to last many years.

eye surgery lasik

Laser Eye Surgery, LASIK, and SMILE – What’s the Difference?

When talking to your laser eye surgeon about your options, it’s important to understand that there are various types of laser eye surgery. Laser eye surgery is sometimes called LASIK or SMILE. However, understand that SMILE and LASIK are completely different procedures for different conditions.

While LASIK and SMILE Are both types of laser eye surgery, they are very different from each other. But don’t worry – we’ll discuss the key differences between these treatments in the next section.

Types of Laser Eye Surgery

There are many types of laser vision correction. But in this section, we’re only looking at the most common procedures surgeons perform on a regular basis. So, keep reading to learn about the different types of laser eye surgery and their benefits.


LASIK surgery is the most common laser eye treatment options available. This is a simple procedure that involves making a small incision or corneal flap on the eye. After that, the doctor uses a laser to reshape different areas of the cornea.

Many vision issues are caused by an uneven or misshapen cornea. A skilled eye surgeon can use this laser procedure to correct the corneal tissue and allow light to focus on the retina. LASIK is great for blurry vision, nearsightedness, and farsightedness, which is why it’s one of the most common laser eye procedures available.


SMILE is an acronym for small incision lenticule extraction. This procedure relies on a femtosecond laser to create a lenticule in the cornea. From there, doctors use light rays to tweak the lenticule and focus light on the retina. The recovery from SMILE procedures is generally longer than LASIK, which is why it’s not as popular among patients.


Some patients have corneas that are too thin for laser vision correction. A great alternative is ICL eye surgery. This procedure involves implanting a new lens into the eye. This lens is specifically tailored to the patient’s needs and allows them to see much more clearly.

When to Get Laser Eye Surgery

Laser eye surgery and LASIK, in particular, are designed for specific conditions. Before going in for LASIK eye surgery, it’s important that you have the right condition for the treatment. Here are some situations where LASIK eye surgery may be the best option.

If You Have Myopia

Myopia is a very common condition that results in blurry vision for far-away objects. The condition is also called nearsightedness, and it affects many people nowadays. This is a result of misshapen corneas and large eyeballs that have difficulty focusing light on the retina.

Contact lenses are glasses that refocus the light to the retina. However, if you’re looking for a permanent solution to your blurred vision, a LASIK procedure could be ideal for your needs.

eye surgery lasik

If You Have Hyperopia

Hyperopia or farsightedness is the opposite of myopia. People with this condition have difficulty focusing on close objects but can easily see far objects. Just like with myopia, doctors can use the LASIK procedure to reshape the cornea and correct your vision.

LASIK refractive surgery is a great alternative to corrective lenses and can last patients many years. So, you may want to ask your doctor if laser eye surgery is the right option for your hyperopia.

If You Have Astigmatism

Those with astigmatism have trouble seeing short and long-distance objects. The condition is characterised by blurry vision and can be a huge interruption of a person’s daily life. While LASIK surgery isn’t ideal for all cases of astigmatism, many patients can benefit from the surgery.

Laser procedures have come a long way since their inception. And nowadays, these procedures are used for many common vision issues, allowing people to see without their contact lenses and glasses. That said, it’s important to know if you have the right condition for laser eye surgery before speaking to your doctor.

Who Can Get LASIK Laser Eye Surgery?

Anyone with the above conditions may qualify for LASIK refractive surgery. However, patients must be in good overall health before the procedure. Additionally, it’s best to avoid wearing your contacts before the surgery. And to reduce the risk of complications, check your eyes for infections or issues before the procedure.

Ultimately, only your doctor can decide if you’re a viable candidate for LASIK. So, set an appointment with them today if you’re interested in laser-assisted surgery for your eyes.

Conclusion: Is Eye Surgery, LASIK, Suitable for You?

Many people can benefit from laser eye surgery. This is a fairly common procedure that has helped many people worldwide. So, if you’re looking for a long-term solution to your eye problems, speak to your doctor about eye surgery today.


Iodide – One Mineral Can Help A Myriad Of Conditions From Atherosclerosis To “COPD” to Zits

If you’ve read or heard anything at all about potassium iodide, it’s probably been in association with terrorist attacks or nuclear power plant disasters. Potassium iodide (usually taken in tablet form) is recommended by “public health” authorities to protect the thyroid gland against accumulation of radioactive iodine released by a “terrorist bomb” or by nuclear power plant “meltdown”. But in reality, potassium iodide is a very effective “home remedy” with literally dozens of uses.

Older readers may remember Mother putting “iodine” on cuts and scrapes. It kept infection away as well as any “modern” antibiotic ointment, with the added benefit of not inducing “bacterial resistance”. But what else is potassium iodide (usually abbreviated by it’s Latin initials “SSKI”) good for? Read on…and then make sure to read the separate section about keeping SSKI use safe.

Some years ago, a retired Indian physician told me about his use of SSKI during more than 30 years traveling from village to village in rural Africa. Most usually, the only drinking water available was from a local stream or river, muddy and contaminated. After removing sediment and debris by straining the dirty water through cheesecloth, he’d add several drops of SSKI, and wait two to three minutes. He and his team could then drink the water. In over 30 years, he never got an infection from contaminated water. The SSKI killed any micro-organisms present.

Fortunately, the water available to most of us when traveling is considerably cleaner. Despite this, when Holly (my wife) and I travel, we always carry a small bottle of SSKI, and put one or two drops into any water we’re not absolutely certain about. We’ve cut back considerably on airline travel this year because of the thoroughly un-American and extremely unpleasant “airport Gestapo” experience. But when we’re forced to travel by air, we drink a few ounces of water with 10 drops of SSKI, and prevent any “airline sinusitis” or other respiratory infection that so often follows several hours spent breathing re-cycled, germ laden air. (SSKI rapidly accumulates in any and all body secretions, including in the sinuses, where it inhibits or kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi before they can cause an infection.)

See Also: Cataract Surgery Sydney


Although Holly has never had the experience, occasionally another woman at one of the conferences we attend has developed a bladder infection when far away from home and her own physician. Holly gives her our “back-up” small bottle of SSKI with instructions to take 10 to 15 drops in water or juice every 3 to 4 hours (while awake) until the infection is gone.

[Although SSKI is close to 100% effective in the elimination of bladder infections, this is a “high dose”; make sure to read the section “Keeping SSKI safe”. If possible, it’s best to use the simple sugar D-mannose to eliminate bladder infections. D-mannose is effective over 90% of the time, and is very, very safe. For details, see D-mannose and Bladder Infection by Lane Lenard Ph.D. and me, available through the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary.]

When our children were teenagers, they always knew where to find the SSKI bottle. Whenever one of them “popped a zit”, she or he would rub SSKI into it every hour or two. The offending “zit” would be gone in 24-48 hours or less; an innumerable number of social events were rendered “zit-free” by this approach.

So far, I’ve been telling you about SSKI’s ability to “kill germs” in one place or another. We’ll return to this important “home remedy” use for SSKI, but let’s digress for now to other uses.

Many women develop “fibrocystic breast disease”. In the 1970s, I learned from pioneering trace element researcher Dr. John Myers that iodine (a close “relative” of SSKI) would eliminate even the most severe cases of fibrocystic breast disease. [For the full details of this treatment, see pages 169-174 of The Patient’s Book of Natural Healing by Alan Gaby M.D. and me.] In “medium” to “minor” cases, 6 to 8 drops of SSKI taken in a few ounces of water daily will frequently reduce fibrocystic breast disease to insignificance within three to six months. Please do not do this without monitoring your thyroid function…see “Keeping SSKI Safe” on page whatever.

One of our daughters and at least thirty other women I’ve worked with in nearly 30 years have helped ovarian cysts disappear within two to three months with the same quantity of SSKI. Again, make sure to monitor your thyroid function!
It’s very likely that SSKI helps eliminate fibrocystic breast disease and ovarian cysts at least partly through it’s interaction with estrogens….which brings us to another important use for SSKI (and other forms of iodine such as “Lugol’s solution” and “di-atomic iodine”). All of these forms of iodine help your body to metabolize estrone (a slightly carcinogenic human estrogen) and 16-alpha-hydroxyestrone (a much more dangerous metabolite of human estrogen) into estriol, an “anti-carcinogenic” or at worst “neutral” form of human estrogen. I’ve reviewed literally hundreds of hormone tests in over 26 years which have proven this point. This testing and treatment usually requires the help of a physician skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural medicine, who can also help with monitoring thyroid function.

“Dupuytren’s contracture” and “Peyronie’s disease” are two “fibrotic” conditions that can be helped considerably by SSKI. In Dupuytren’s contracture, thickening (fibrosis) occurs along one of the tendons in the palm in the hand, pulling the related finger down towards the palm. As the problem progresses, the finger often can’t be straightened any more.

In Peyronie’s disease, a very similar thickening occurs along the shaft of the penis, making erections increasing “curved” and painful. In both cases, rubbing SSKI into the thickened tissue at least twice daily softens and lessens the fibrotic area over a period of several months, allowing for more normal function.

For these conditions, it’s additionally helpful to take para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) 2 grams, three times daily, and to rub a mixture of Vitamin E and DMSO into the thickened areas, also. However, if “caught early”, SSKI alone will often “do the job”. (It’s also advisable to have glucose-insulin tolerance test done, as there’s an unusually high incidence of “insulin resistance” in people with Dupuytren’s contracture or Peyronie’s disease.

“Keloids” are abnormally thick scars, sometimes as much as an inch thick, that can form after injury. Although anyone can get a keloid, they’re more common among blacks than other ethnic groups. Rubbing SSKI into a keloid at least twice daily will ultimately flatten them down to a “normal scar”, but it can take many months to a year for particularly bad ones. The treatment goes faster if SSKI is mixed “50-50″ with DMSO.

“Fistulas” are literally abnormal tunnels through tissues, “tunnels” prevented from healing by chronic infection. Two not-unusual types are “peri-anal fistulas” (a “tunnel” from outside the anus to the inside of the rectum) and “recto-vaginal” fistulas. Although these fistulas can be treated successfully by surgery, they can often be healed by frequent swabbing inside and out with an SSKI-soaked “Q-tip”. Patience is required: Complete healing often takes several months. The treatment appears to work better if the SSKI is mixed with DMSO, which enhances “penetrance”. My colleague Richard Kunin, M.D. of San Francisco, is a “world class” expert on the use of SSKI and other forms of iodine. He has found that hemorrhoids will sometimes disappear literally overnight, when SSKI (20 drops) mixed with flaxseed oil (1 ounce) is rubbed in them at bedtime. He’s also found that SSKI alone will do the same job, although it “really stings” when applied to a hemorrhoid by itself.


When I was a pre-med student at Harvard University, the famous chemistry professor Louis Feiser made a point of demonstrating to all the pre-medical students that iodine and iodide would make oils, fats, and waxes (cholesterol is actually a wax) more soluble in water. He urged us to remember this in our medical practices, as he was sure it wouldn’t be taught in medical school (he was right!). This known action of iodide likely explains why SSKI can be useful in the next two applications.

Over 30 years ago, two ophthalmologists observed that a combination tablet called “Iodo-niacin” (iodide 120 milligrams, niacin 15 milligrams) taken for several months could actually reverse atherosclerotic clogging of arteries. They proved this effect by taking pictures of clogged arteries in the backs of the eyes (“retinal photomicrographs”) before and after treatment. The published photographs showed a significant lessening of the cholesterol-laden artery clogging in the “after” pictures.

Amazingly enough, no follow-up study has ever been published (probably because niacin and iodide aren’t patentable). Despite this, the published pictures speak clearly for themselves. I recommend 4 to 6 drops of SSKI and niacin-containing B-complex daily (along with many other things) for anyone with significant cholesterol-related atherosclerotic clogging. Thyroid function must be monitored!

“Sebaceous cysts” are cysts which contain oily, fatty material. They usually appear rather suddenly on the face or in the groin or labia. Rubbing in SSKI mixed 50-50 with DMSO will almost always persuade these cysts to go away in a week or two; it appears that the iodide “dissolves” the fatty, oily material contained in the cysts, allowing your body to slowly re-absorb and dispose of it.

Although it’s not a common condition, from time to time someone will come to my office at Tahoma Clinic inquiring about alternatives to surgery for “parotid duct stone”. These are “stones” which can form in the saliva-carrying duct(s) from the major salivary glands (“parotid” glands, located at the “angle of the jaw”). 3 to 4 drops of SSKI taken in water daily will almost always dissolve parotid duct stones within four to eight months.

If you have chronic bronchitis and or emphysema (“COPD”, “COLD”) SSKI is an invaluable tool. SSKI “gets into” all body secretions, including often thick and hard to cough up bronchial secretions, which get infected very easily. SSKI takes care of both of these problems. It “loosens” secretions remarkably, making them much easier to “clear”, and it prevents micro-organisms from growing easily. With regular SSKI use, bronchial infection is a much less frequent happening. Depending on the severity of COPD, I recommend 3 to 6 drops of SSKI taken in water once daily. As COPD is usually a chronic condition, SSKI use will usually be indefinite, so make sure to monitor your thyroid function! (See the August 2002 Nutrition & Healing for a more complete discussion of natural COPD treatment.)

Now, back to other infections. For this group, using SSKI mixed “50-50″ with DMSO works better, as the DMSO enables SSKI to penetrate much more deeply into the tissues and kill germs.

Infected “hangnails” are perhaps the easiest to clear up this way, as are nagging bacterial infections around the edges of the toenails. Rub in the mixture several times daily, and the problem’s usually gone in a few days. Herpes simplex (“herpes”) ourbreaks can be “stopped cold” in the same way, but it often takes longer for the “sore” to heal itself over.

If you have persistent “swollen glands” in the throat or groin areas, see a doctor first! These can very rarely be signs of leukemia, lymphoma, or another cancer, especially in older people. But if all tests and studies are negative, and the doctor says “it’s just swollen glands”, rub in the SSKI with DMSO. In a large majority of cases, the “just swollen glands” will gradually fade away.

Fungus under the toenails (“onychomycosis”) is a difficult problem to treat. Even “conventional” anti-fungal drug treatment takes months to work, and (for safety) monthly liver function tests are necessary. SSKI and DMSO rubbed on, around, and under the affected toenails doesn’t work any faster, but it’s just as effective, and definitely safer. Make sure to wear old socks, because SSKI and other forms of iodine leave an orange-brown stain. (Other safe and effective alternatives include geranium oil, oregano oil, and tea tree oil. These and other anti-fungal oils also require “help” from DMSO to penetrate the toenail and soak the fungus underneath.)

SSKI can also help clear up vaginal infections. 20 to 30 drops in water, used in a small “douche” once daily for five to ten days will usually do the job. (There’s actually a prescription-only iodine preparation of available for vaginal infections, too.) However, iodine preparations of any sort for vaginal infections are often not popular because of the inevitable orange-brown stains they leave on clothing.

What about SSKI to help a “weak” thyroid (hypothyroidism)? Even though iodine and iodide are absolutely essential to thyroid hormone formation, in most “developed” countries, hypothyroid conditions are not usually due to an outright lack of iodine or iodide. Still, hypothyroidism is occasionally helped by 1 drop of SSKI daily. Make sure to work with your doctor on this one!

Lastly, there’s a gastronomic use for SSKI: reducing the gas we all get from eating beans! If you’re soaking beans before cooking them, add 1 or 2 drops of SSKI, and let them soak for an hour or more. (Pour offf that water before cooking, and add fresh water.) You’ll be surprised at the reduction in resulting intestinal gas! (For those who want a technical explanation: There’s a naturally occurring enzyme inhibitor in beans which interferes with starch digestion, producing gas. SSKI inactivates this enzyme inhibitor.)


In the past, SSKI and other forms of iodine and iodide were available only on prescription, or through chemical supply sources. Since the mid-1990s passage of the Federal DSHEA law, we’ve regained the basic American freedom to buy and sell natural substances (narcotics exempted) without prescription. You haven’t read or heard much about SSKI because (despite Federal Appeals Court decisions) FDA still maintains it’s First Amendment violating policy of complete suppression of truthful product use information on package labels or in advertisements….unless of course FDA is paid an enormous amount of money ($250 million minimum, according to Congressional testimony) for “approval”. Since SSKI can’t be patented…well, you know the rest.

SSKI can be obtained without prescription in some compounding pharmacies, some health food stores, through “on-line” sources, and at the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary (with which I am of course affiliated) in a convenient travel-size dropper bottle.


There are three “hazards” to using SSKI: staining, allergy, and a very small possibility of thyroid suppression with longer-term use of “too much”.

Staining can be a big nuisance, but it’s not a health hazard. When SSKI is applied to skin, it can impart a faint to moderate orange-brown color, which fades away once SSKI is no longer being applied. SSKI and other iodine stains in clothing can be semi-permanent or permanent, so don’t plan to wear anything “nice” in the vicinity of recently-applied SSKI.

Iodine allergy is a possibility, although in nearly 30 years of medical practice I’ve seen it only a few times. Usually, it causes a red, bumpy skin rash, which goes away after SSKI or other iodine is discontinued. Topical (applied to the skin surface) iodine allergy is almost never a serious emergency.

SSKI or iodine can very occasionally cause acne, which also goes away once the source of iodine is dicontinued.

The type of so-called “iodine allergy” that can interfere with breathing and occasionally sends us to the emergency room is usually not allergy to iodine or iodine molecules, but instead to much larger, possibly iodine-containing molecules found in lobster, crab, clams and other “shellfish”. These molecules are not present in SSKI or iodine. However, if there’s any suspicion at all of iodine allergy, it’s best not to swallow any without testing for allergy or sensitivity.

Too much iodine for too long can suppress thyroid function. Many of the uses described for SSKI in the accompanying article are short-term, from a few days or less to a week or two. If SSKI is then stopped, there’s almost no chance of significant thyroid suppression. However, if SSKI is to be used for two to three weeks or longer, and especially if it’s to be used continuously (for example, COPD or cholesterol-related atherosclerosis) monitoring thyroid function is very important. To find a physician near you who can help order and interpret thyroid function tests contact Meridian Valley Lab.

Fortunately, in my experience with over a thousand individuals, internal use of than nine drops of SSKI daily has or less has very rarely resulted in thyroid suppression. On those very few occasions, discontinuance has resulted in prompt recovery. So far, I’ve never seen thyroid suppression result from “topical” (skin surface) use of SSKI.

A final “safety” note: Dr. Kunin cautions (and I agree) that if you use SSKI or other iodine “long-term”, make sure your diet contains plenty of essential fatty acids (both omega-3 and omega-6) as well as the sulfur-containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. If you eat animal protein daily, that’s usually sufficient as a source of these two amino acids, but if you’re vegetarian (or close) and using “long term” SSKI or other iodine, then take 300-500 milligrams of each daily.


Iodine is a basic element, as are calcium, zinc, oxygen and other elements. The word “iodine” usually refers to two iodine molecules chemically “stuck together” (I2), just as the word “oxygen” usually refers to two oxygen molecules “stuck together” (O2). Since iodine is more reactive, and therefore more likely to cause problems, iodine is usually used as “iodide”, a word which refers to one iodine molecule combined with another molecule such as potassium (KI) or sodium (NaI). In chemical terms, such molecules are called “salts”; the best known salt is sodium chloride (NaCl), a “salt” of chlorine (Cl2).

The “SS” in “SSKI” refers to “Saturated Solution Potassium Iodide”. Other medically useful forms of iodine include “Lugol’s solution”, invented by Dr. Lugol of Paris in the 1840s, which contains a mixture of types of iodine and iodide, and “di-atomic iodine”, which is another name for iodine, but usually prepared as a solid in a capsule instead of a liquid.

More to read: Common Questions About Diabetes and Eye Surgery: Sydney Eye Clinic

D-Mannose for Bladder and Kidney Infections

D-Mannose for Bladder and Kidney Infections

A little girl’s parents are told she’ll likely need a kidney transplant since her chronic kidney infections aren’t yielding to antibiotics anymore…..

Another little girl with a genetic disorder has been on continuous antibiotics for nearly two years because of kidney and bladder infections….

An adult woman gets a bladder infection every time she has sex… And literally millions of women and girls (and a very few boys and men) each year have at least one episode of acute bladder infection (“cystitis”). Routine treatment of bladder and kidney infections involves antibiotics and antimicrobials. As the first three cases (described later) will illustrate, in over 90% of bladder and kidney infections, antibiotics are actually an inferior treatment choice. The treatment of choice for initial treatment of most urinary tract infections is D-mannose.

D-mannose is a naturally occurring simple sugar, closely related (in chemical terms, a “stereoisomer”) to glucose. Small amounts of D-mannose are metabolized by our bodies; more than small amounts are excreted promptly into the urine. But how can even large quantities of a simple natural sugar do anything at all to cure over 90% of all bladder and urinary tract infections?

The answer is found in the interaction between D-mannose and the bacterium found in over 90% of all bladder infections, Escherichia coli (“E. coli”). [No, that’s not the infamous E. coli mutant associated with unsanitary food processing that’s hospitalized and killed people. It’s the normal E. coli found as part of the “normal microflora” in every intestinal tract.] But even normal E. coli don’t belong in the bladder and urinary tract; in these areas it multiplies and becomes an undesirable infection.

See Also: Best laser eye surgery

But why doesn’t the normal downflow of urine from the kidneys through the ureters into the bladder and thence beyond simply carry the E. coli right along with it? What allows the E. coli to “stick” to the inner walls of the bladder and even work their way upward (like “Spiderman”) in some cases reaching as far as the kidneys?

The “cell walls” of each E. coli are covered with tiny fingerlike projections. The very tips of these projections are an amino acid-sugar complex, a “glycoprotein” also called a “lectin”. E. coli “lectins” have the unfortunate (for us) capability of “sticking” the bacteria to the inside walls of our bladders and urinary tracts, so they can’t be rinsed out by urination.

Unfortunately for the E. coli, D-mannose “sticks” to E. coli lectins even better than E. coli lectins “stick” to human cells. When we take a large quantity of D-mannose, almost all of it spills into the urine through our kidneys, literally “coating” any E.coli present so they can no longer “stick” to the inside walls of the bladder and urinary tract. The E. coli are literally rinsed away with normal urination!

D-Mannose for Bladder and Kidney Infections

Why is “rinsing away” E. coli with D-mannose superior to killing them with antibiotics and anti-microbials? When an antibiotic is taken, it kills unwanted micro-organisms, but it also kills many “friendly” micro-organisms. Every woman is familiar with “yeast infections” that follow antibiotic use, as the “friendly bacteria” are killed off along with the “bad bacteria”, leaving the antibiotic-insensitive yeast to grow “out of control”. Long-term or often-repeated antibiotic use can lead to major disruptions in normal body microflora, and sometimes to major disruptions in health, especially immune system function. [It’s suspected that the “killer” E. coli of recent years are “mutants” caused by persistent antibiotic feeding to animals.]

By contrast, D-mannose doesn’t kill bacteria, “friendly” or “unfriendly”. D-mannose simply helps to relocate misplaced E.coli from inside of our urinary tracts to outside. (Since D-mannose is absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract, it doesn’t relocate the “friendly” E. coli normally present in the colon.) D-mannose treatment of E. coli bladder and urinary tract infections is ecologically sound treatment. (The very small amounts of D-mannose metabolized by our bodies and not excreted into the urine are harmless.) As an extra bonus, D-mannose tastes good!

Three Cases, Briefly

Our first case is relatively well-known in the Seattle-King County area as this child’s mother provided testimony about her case to the County Council when it was considering the establishment of a natural medicine clinic within the taxpayer-funded county public health system.

This mother brought her daughter to Tahoma Clinic in the 1980s. She also brought with her a very detailed set of notebooks in which she’d recorded descriptions of her daughter’s numerous hospitalizations and extensive tests for nearly continuous urinary tract infections. By actual count, her daughter (not yet five years old) had been seen by 72 different physicians, and had been on antibiotics the majority of her life. Mother and father had been told the doctors were “running out of effective antibiotics”, and that their daughter would likely need a kidney transplant during the next few years, as her kidneys were beginning to fail from the chronic infection. Extensive tests showed “normal kidneys, ureters, and bladder”, with no discoverable reason for all the infection.

Fortunately, Mom also had records of many urine cultures. They were always the same: E.coli. At the end of our consultation, I advised her to give her daughter ¼ to ½ teaspoon (approximately 1 to 2 ½ grams) of D-mannose powder stirred into water every three to four hours while awake. Despite being a bit dubious that a simple sugar prescribed by a natural medicine doctor (remember, this was the 1980s) would do anything, mother tried it. Within 48 hours, the infection was gone. Her daughter remained infection free for over two years until the D-mannose was temporarily forgotten; resumption cleared the infection once more. She’s had no urinary tract infection since, and has of course retained her own kidneys.

The County Council was impressed by the simple natural solution to a serious health problem. They were equally impressed with the difference in cost between D-mannose treatment (even long-term) and the cost of several hospitalizations, extensive testing, and nearly continuous antibiotics, as well as the potential cost of the predicted kidney transplant.

Our second case is that of a another little girl with galactosemia (a genetic disease) who when first seen in 1996 was on antibiotics because of chronic recurrent E. coli urinary tract infections. She’d been on antibiotics for most of the prior two years. As part of her overall treatment, I advised her parents to switch her from antibiotics to D-mannose (at the quantities noted above). The switch was made uneventfully; no further urinary tract infections occurred. When they last saw their daughter’s urologist in 1998, her parents were told to “check back in the year 2000″.

Our last case is that of a married woman who was avoiding sex because “I get a bladder infection every time”. Needless to say, this caused some degree of marital discord. As cultures had shown E. coli, she started taking ½ teaspoon of D-mannose one hour prior to and just after intercourse, and had no further infections.

There also have been many women who’ve been advised to take D-mannose ½ teaspoon every two to three hours to treat single episodes of bladder infection. Nearly every time, the treatment has been successful. However, since a small proportion of bladder infections are not caused by E. coli but by some other micro-organism, women are also advised to call back for a “regular” antibiotic prescription if their infections are not substantially better or completely gone in 24 hours.

Try D-Mannose First

D-mannose is very safe, even for long term use, although most women (or the very occasional man) with single episodes of bladder or urinary tract infection will only need it for a few days at most. Although D-mannose is a simple sugar, very little of it is metabolized. It doesn’t interfere with blood sugar regulation, even for diabetics. It creates no disruption or imbalance in normal body microflora. It’s safe even for pregnant women and very small children. In the less than 10% of cases where the infection is a bacteria other than E. coli, antibiotics can be started in plenty of time. (Many physicians will likely advise collecting a urine specimen for culture, if possible just before starting D-mannose, so that the bacteria can be identified as rapidly as possible in the few cases when D-mannose doesn’t work.)

Since D-mannose is naturally occurring, many of you may have guessed that cranberry juice (as well as pineapple juice) contain more D-mannose than most other foods. However, the amounts found in these juices are substantially less than in the ½ teaspoon (approximately 1 gram) adult dose, and are substantially less effective.

So Where’s the D-Mannose?

If D-mannose is so safe and effective, why isn’t it in your natural food store? Your editor has been frustrated by it’s absence also, particularly as he has spent several years trying to convince one or another supplement company to put D-mannose into wider distribution.

More to read: Iodide – One Mineral Can Help A Myriad Of Conditions From Atherosclerosis To “COPD” to Zits

Is the mainstream still cheating you out of the best health possible—with folic acid?!

Is the mainstream still cheating you out of the best health possible—with folic acid?!

Discover the stunning truth behind this essential “vitamin”—and the simple switch that’s much, much better for you

Do you remember a few years ago, when “mainstream” print and broadcast media were telling us that vitamin E was bad for our cardiovascular systems, and would increase our risk of heart attack? Turns out the whole thing was based on -you guessed it- researchers not copying Nature!

They weren’t using Nature’s own of vitamin E—a combination of alpha-, beta-, delta- and gamma-tocopherol, sometimes with alpha-, beta-, delta-, and gamma-tocotrienol—in the same percentages and combinations found in Nature. Instead, they had used alpha-tocopherol only in their research—and reported an increase in cardiovascular risk.

Fortunately, since then it has been pointed out that gamma-tocopherol is more important in protecting the heart than alpha-tocopherol. In fact, supplementing alpha-tocopherol alone depresses levels of gamma-tocopherol, so increased risk to the heart isn’t altogether surprising. What can we learn from this? It’s pretty obvious—using a natural substance in a way that goes against Nature’s perfect design can cause problems.

Given the news, responsible vitamin suppliers quickly replaced alpha-tocopherol-only forms of vitamin E with “mixed tocopherols,” combinations of alpha-, beta-, delta, and gamma-tocopherols.

In a similar turn of events, recently accumulating research has found that supplemental folic acid, incorrectly identified as a vitamin (it’s actually an oxidized vitamin) since its synthetic crystallization in the 1940s, may actually accelerate cognitive decline in some older individuals. It’s also being linked to increased risk of colon and rectal cancers, increased risk of childhood asthma born to folic-acid supplemented mothers, and accelerated growth of pre-existing cancers.

Is the mainstream still cheating you out of the best health possible—with folic acid?!

There’s enough research that Reader’s Digest magazine recently published an article warning readers about the dangers of too much folic acid. Unfortunately, the article showed that not only journalists, but even medical professionals still haven’t figured out that folic acid is not the same as the naturally occurring vitamin folate.

See Also: D-Mannose for Bladder and Kidney Infections

Six of one is NOT half a dozen of the other

According to the article, a university-affiliated medical doctor stated: “We’ve known for years that getting too little folate can promote cancer. Now it looks like getting too much folic acid could be harmful too.”

Like much of the medical mainstream, he used folic acid and folate as interchangeable terms.

But folic acid is not the same as folate!

Folic acid is a single type of molecule, crystallized in 1943 by a scientist working for the patent medicine company Lederle Laboratories, then a subsidiary of American Cyanamid Corporation. Folic acid is the fully oxidized form of naturally occurring folates, which are found in leafy and green vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, romaine, lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and bok choy. Other sources include corn, beets, tomatoes, dried or fresh beans and peas, fortified sunflower seeds and some fruits, including oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, cantaloupe, honeydew melon, banana, raspberries, and strawberries. Liver (only organic, of course) and brewer’s and baker’s yeasts are good sources of folate, too.

But—and this is important to understanding the difference between folic acid and the various naturally occuring folates—none of these vegetables, fruits, liver or yeast naturally contain even one molecule of folic acid.

How the mainstream convinced us we need folic acid, and not folate

So why is folic acid so firmly entrenched in the public and mainstream professional mind as a vitamin? For the same reasons that mainstream professionals, science writers (who should know better), and the majority of the public think that horse estrogen and human estrogen are the same thing. It’s a combination of a sloppy understanding of biochemistry and some clever patent-medicine-company-supported and -promoted psychology.

First, the biochemistry. (Stay with me, it’s relatively easy.) Folate was originally isolated from brewer’s yeast and spinach in the 1930s. Once isolated and exposed to air it becomes unstable and breaks down, and is generally no longer useful in nutrition. But a small amount of natural folate can be transformed by oxidation (a natural process) into folic acid, a much more stable form with a very long shelf life.

While human and animal cells cannot use the folic acid molecule itself in their normal metabolic processes, human cells (principally the liver) can transform folic acid back into many of its metabolically useful folate forms. That’s why folic acid—despite not being found in food—can do so much nutritional good, the best-known example being the prevention of birth defects including spina bifida, cleft lip, and cleft palate.

As we grow older, though, our bodies are increasingly slow at transforming folic acid into usefully metabolized folates. That’s probably why scientists are finding that folic acid (not folate) is associated with cognitive decline in the elderly. Some of these studies have shown significantly elevated levels of un-metabolized (and therefore not useful) folic acid building up in the bloodstreams of supplemented older individuals.

In addition to worsening folic acid metabolism with age, there are also a significant number (as high as 5 percent or more in some populations) of survivable human genetic defects of folate metabolism which make it more difficult or, in some circumstances, impossible for sufferers to make metabolic use of folic acid.

Now, the psychology. Imagine you’re the sales and marketing arm of a patent medicine company. Which would you rather produce and sell: A then-process-patentable substance (folic acid) or an un-patentable substance (folate)? A substance with a longer shelf life (folic acid), or a substance that breaks down very rapidly on exposure to heat, cold, or light—even from “just sitting there” (folate)? A substance that’s less expensive to manufacture and process (folic acid), or a more expensive substance (folate)? The answer is pretty obvious—from a marketing point of view, folic acid wins every time.

And in this case, by great good luck, folic acid does do some good. It can be re-metabolized into various metabolically useful forms in most people—particularly younger people. So of course folic acid is promoted as a vitamin—even though it’s not found naturally in food—and manufacturers happily encourage everyone to speak of it interchangeably with folate, just as the Wyeth company so successfully confused Premarin with human estrogen in the public mind.

As usual, the mainstream way does more harm than the natural way

So since the 1940s, when physicians wanted to give their patients supplemental folate, they were taught to start with folic acid under one or another brand name. Even I was taught that at the University of Michigan in the 1960s. Supplement companies have sold folic acid, too, as it appeared to do the job, and there were for years no reports of harm. In fact there was very little, if any, research into potential harm.

But now that there is enough evidence of potential harm from folic acid, it’s time for all of us who want the benefits to switch back to the forms of folate found in food, which our bodies can use more efficiently and effectively than folic acid. Of course, we should always start by eating as much folate-containing food as possible, and as fresh as possible, too.

Remember, naturally occurring folates break down quite rapidly with heat, cold, light, even when they’re still in the food. Because of this naturally rapid breakdown, even the most avid vegetable and fruit eaters often need folate supplementation. (For a simple way to find out if you’re among them, see “Overlooked blood test could be the key to your good health” below.) Fortunately, about a year or two ago, responsible supplement suppliers began to make individual folate (not folic acid) supplements available. Some suppliers have just started to include various forms of folate in multiple vitamins and other combinations.

So it’s time to make folic acid supplements a part of history, and use only forms of naturally occurring folate when we use supplements. A little bit of folic acid (100 to 200 micrograms, the amount found in many multiple vitamins at present) is not likely to be a problem, but more taken daily for years just might raise your long-term risk of colorectal cancer or cognitive decline. If higher amounts are unavoidable (for example, until all prenatal vitamins switch from folic acid to folate), taking additional folate will very likely offset the folic acid still found in the multiple. If you’re apprehensive, consult a physician skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural medicine.

It’s very likely that within a relatively short time enough responsible supplement suppliers will switch from folic acid to folate in all their supplements, individual and combination, so you won’t need to read all the labels so closely to make sure you’re getting folate and not folic acid.

One last point you may be wondering about: Is there such a thing as “too much of a good thing” when it comes to naturally occurring folate supplementation?

Unless you have vitamin B12 deficiency or cancer, it’s very unlikely to be a problem. In the case of vitamin B12 deficiency, supplemented folate—even naturally occurring folate—can “cover up” some of the deficiency signs in blood tests. But preventing that is simple: Take extra vitamin B12 whenever you take extra folate! Some suppliers even combine the two, or put them with the rest of the B-complex vitamins.

But if you have cancer, it’s of course best to discuss folate (not folic acid) supplementation with a physician skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural medicine. To find one in your area, contact the American College for Advancement in Medicine. JVW

Is the mainstream still cheating you out of the best health possible—with folic acid?!

Where to get it: Naturally occurring folate in supplements

At present, two types of folates that occur naturally in foods are available as over-the-counter supplements. One is folinic acid, usually sold over-the-counter as “calcium folinate.” Calcium folinate is also available by prescription as Leucovorin®, which, unfortunately, is considerably more expensive and also contains FD&C yellow #10 and FD&C blue # 1, neither of which improves clinical results.

The other over-the-counter naturally occurring folate presently available is 5-methyltetrahydrofolate. It’s more expensive than over-the-counter calcium folinate, but more likely to be effective for individuals with “hidden” genetic defects in folate metabolism.

There’s also at least one B-complex and one multiple vitamin-mineral combination containing calcium folinate and methylcobalamin (the more metabolically active form of B12) available over-the-counter. By the time this newsletter is printed, it’s very likely more than one of each of these will be available, too.

The availability of supplemental folates that occur naturally in foods has solved another problem I’d been observing in a minority of individuals since the 1970s. Although the large majority of people who tested poorly for individually optimal levels of folate on a test called the neutrophilic hypersegmentation index (see “Overlooked blood test could be the key to your good health” below) significantly improved their levels by taking folic acid supplements, a small but significant number had little to no improvement at all. For this group, all I could tell them was to eat as much folate-containing food as possible, and forget the folic acid supplements.

But since supplemental calcium folinate and 5-methyltetrahydrofolate have become available, nearly every patient with a previously abnormal neutrophilic hypersegmentation index has improved with their use.

Overlooked blood test could be the key to your good health

If you’re serious about good health and longevity, or if you have any chance at all of becoming pregnant, there’s an inexpensive but critically important blood test that’s too often overlooked. Although it’s simple, quick, and easy to do, many clinical laboratories don’t do it because there’s “no demand.”

It’s called the “neutrophilic hypersegmentation index.” It is a mouthful to say, but for decades it has been—and still is—the best test of your personal folate status. Not how your folate level compares with other peoples’, but how optimal your own level is.

To do that, the neutrophilic hypersegmentation index (NHI) determines what percentage of your neutrophils—a type of white blood cell—were supplied with an optimal amount of folate while they were growing and maturing. Of course, optimal is 100 percent. But before we get into how to boost your own score, it’s important to know some of the scientific background that explains why this test is so important.

When neutrophils are “born” and “incubate” in bone marrow, their chromosomes—DNA—arrange themselves into five segments. A final step in neutrophil DNA maturation is re-arrangement of those five segments into three. Normal folate metabolism is a key to this final step. Very shortly after the five-to-three segment DNA re-arrangement, the fully mature neutrophil is released from the bone marrow into the bloodstream, where it lives out its months-long life doing its job—one very important part of which is defending our bodies against germs.

But if there isn’t enough folate, the neutrophil’s DNA stays in five (instead of three) segments. When the neutrophil is needed, it’s released into the bloodstream anyway, where it’s called a hypersegmented (too many segments) neutrophil. Fortunately, a hypersegmented neutrophil can still fight germs as well as a “regular,” three-segmented neutrophil.

Planning a family? Why you MUST have this test

After a blood sample is drawn, a technician with a microscope can easily see and count the number of DNA segments in each neutrophil. The “hypersegmentation index” is the percentage of five-segment neutrophils counted in a total of one hundred neutrophils.

Neutrophils, other circulating blood cells, and the cells that line our gastrointestinal tracts are the most rapidly dividing cells in our bodies. So if there’s a shortage of any of the three key nutrients for keeping cell division normal—folate, vitamin B12, and/or zinc—these rapidly dividing cells are likely to show the effects first. So the “neutrophilic segmentation index” actually tells us whether the most rapidly dividing cells in our bodies have enough folate. If these cells do, then it’s very likely that every cell in our bodies has enough folate.

One of the saddest test reports I’ve had to share with anyone was an NHI of 47 percent reported for a woman who was already pregnant. As you may have expected, her baby was born with a birth defect.

Every woman who has any chance at all of becoming pregnant should have this test done! If it’s abnormal, and she’s planning on a pregnancy soon, she should take a series of folinic acid injections (see above “Where to get it: Naturally-occurring folate in supplements”. ) right away, preferably with the methylcobalamin form of vitamin B12, so there’s enough folate (and B12) immediately available for any newly conceived infant.

Why the rush? Well, the most common birth defect—neural tube defect—occurs on days 27–29 after conception, before many women are even certain that they are pregnant.

For the rest of us (as well as newly-folinic-acid-injected potential moms) an abnormal NHI means you need to take a closer look at your diet and make some necessary adjustments—most notably adding in more sources of folate, particularly green vegetables, beans, peas, brewer’s yeast, and (organic only!) liver. A folinic acid or methylfolate supplement is important, too, at least until the test normalizes.

A basic nutrient for cancer and heart disease protection

But pregnancy—or the possibility of pregnancy—isn’t the only time folate levels are important. Folate (along with vitamin B12 and zinc) are all critical to normal cell division and DNA repair, which means they’re all essential tools for cancer prevention. Adequate folate lowers the risk of a variety of cancers, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract, but also breast, pancreatic, cervix, and lung.

It’s almost certain further research will add other cancers to this list. However, for those who already have cancer in any form, it’s not yet clear whether or not supplemental folate may accelerate cancer growth as fully oxidized folic acid has been found to do in some studies.

Along with vitamins B6 and B12, folate helps keep levels of the natural human metabolite homocysteine low in our bodies. Considerable research shows that increasingly higher homocysteine levels are associated with increasingly higher levels of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis.

It’s true that in 2008, researchers reported that supplemental folic acid (not folate), B12, and B6 were effective at lowering homocysteine but were ineffective in reducing “major cardiovascular events” and deaths, but (once again) it’s very likely that this study used folic acid—which isn’t as easily metabolized in older individuals (rather than methylfolate)— along with less-than-optimally active forms of vitamin B12 and B6.

So, despite this (likely flawed) study, if your homocysteine levels are high, I still recommend eating more folate-containing vegetables, and, if necessary, taking enough supplemental methylfolate, methylcobalamin, and pyridoxal phosphate to keep your level low. If you do, your risk of cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis will likely be lower, too.

Research indicates that other benefits of supplemental folate may include reduction of stroke risk and macular degeneration, and improvement in depression, as well as improvement in memory and mental agility in older individuals.

When enough is enough

I’ve been using this test as part of routine “good health” testing for nearly everyone for over 30 years, and rarely see a result of under 5 percent (which shows insufficient folate). So the goal is always to bring that level as close to 0 percent as possible.

But if you want to be really “engineering precise,” a level of 1 to 2 percent hypersegmented neutrophils—meaning that 98 to 99 percent of those white cells received enough folate—may be the best outcome to aim for. Why isn’t 0 percent even better? An engineer friend once explained it like this: “Once I get to 0 percent, there’s no -10 or –20 percent reading to tell me that it’s 10 or 20 percent more than I really need, so I’m going to keep mine very slightly under rather than go over.”

It’s a good point—and leads to the next question: Is there any danger of “overdose” with folate? Except when cancer is already present, it’s not very likely. I’ve never seen it happen in over 35 years of practice. But no one knows for certain. So keeping your NHI at a level of 1 to 2 percent ensures that your folate levels are optimal without “overdoing” it.

And increasing folate-containing foods in the diet and (in the majority) adding supplemental folate almost always brings the test to that optimal level.

The NHI is simple enough to be done by any laboratory with a microscope and a skilled technician, but many labs still don’t do it. Why? Well, it requires a smear of blood on a microscope slide and isn’t done by machine. However, blood specimens can also be sent to Meridian Valley Laboratory  in Washington state, where state law makes it possible for individuals to order their own lab tests.

Get your type 2 diabetes under control… without a single drug!

Get your type 2 diabetes under control… without a single drug!

Best known for its natural antibiotic activity, berberine deals a serious blow to common infectious organisms— organisms like “staph,” “strep,” Chlamydia, diphtheria, salmonella, cholera, diplococcus pneumoniae, pseudomonas, gonorrhea, candida, trichomonas, and many others. Berberine is a component (for the technically inclined, a “plant alkaloid”) of the commonly used herbs goldenseal and Oregon grape, and of several other less well-known botanicals. A 0.2 percent solution of berberine has been found effective against trachoma—in “third world” countries, a major infectious cause of visual impairment and blindness, as well as many other types of conjunctivitis.

It’s less well known that berberine has been found more effective than aspirin in relieving fever in experimental animals, and is able to stimulate some parts of the immune system. It’s also a stimulant for bile secretion.

And it’s not at all well known that research published in well-known, respected, “peer-reviewed” medical journals in 2008 found that berberine is just as effective— and of course much safer—than metformin, the formerly patent medicine most commonly now prescribed to help re-regulate blood sugar in type 2 diabetes!

Another cover-up? That won’t stop the truth

As this is 2010, where has this information been? I suspect that Nutrition & Healing readers know the answer… so let’s move on to review the research, and then what’s known about how berberine does this job.

Two studies were reported in one of the 2008 research reports.1 In the first study, 36 adults with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes mellitus were randomly assigned to treatment with berberine or metformin (500 milligrams of either, three times a day) in a three-month (13-week) trial.

At the end of three months, average fasting blood sugars in the berberine group dropped from 191 to 124 milligrams per deciliter, average post-prandial blood sugar (blood sugar after eating) dropped from 356 to 199 milligrams per deciliter, average hemoglobin A1c (a measurement of longer-term blood sugar control) dropped from 9.5 percent to 7.5 percent, and fasting triglycerides dropped from an average 99 to 78 milligrams per deciliter.

The researchers wrote, “Compared with metformin, berberine exhibited an identical effect in the regulation of glucose metabolism, such as HbA1c, FBG [fasting blood glucose], PBG [blood sugar after eating], fasting insulin and postprandial insulin [insulin level after eating]. In the regulation of lipid metabolism, berberine activity is better than metformin. By week 13, triglycerides and total cholesterol in the berberine group had decreased and were significantly lower than in the metformin group (P<0.05).”

See Also: Common Questions About Diabetes and Eye Surgery: Sydney Eye Clinic

Get your type 2 diabetes under control… without a single drug!

Insulin resistance dropped by 45 percent!

The second study in this same publication involved 48 adults already under treatment for type 2 diabetes with diet and one or more patent medications and/or insulin. Despite these various treatments, their type 2 diabetes was still poorly controlled. Diet and all medications had been the same in each individual for two months before berberine treatment was added, and remained unchanged for the three months of this second study.

After just 7 days, the added berberine (500 milligrams thrice daily) led to an average reduction in fasting blood sugar from 172 to 140 milligrams per deciliter, and average post-prandial blood sugar had declined from 266 to 210 milligrams per deciliter.

During the second week of added berberine, average fasting blood sugar dropped to 135 milligrams per deciliter, and postprandial glucose to 189 milligrams per deciliter. The researchers reported that these improvements were maintained for the rest of the three month study.

In addition, hemoglobin A1c decreased from 8.1 percent to 7.3 percent, fasting insulin decreased by 28 percent, insulin resistance was reduced by 45 percent, and total and low-density (LDL) cholesterol were both significantly reduced.

The researchers wrote that in their study of newly diagnosed diabetics who took berberine or placebo alone, “one of the patients suffered from severe gastrointestinal adverse events when berberine was used alone.”

By contrast, the researchers wrote about the poorly controlled diabetics who added berberine to their on-going patent medication treatment: “Incidence of gastrointestinal adverse events was 34.5 percent during the 13 weeks of berberine…combination therapy.”

These adverse events included diarrhea in 10 percent, constipation in 7 percent, flatulence in 19 percent, and abdominal pain in 3.4 percent. The side effects were observed only in the first four weeks in most patients. In 24 percent, berberine dosage was decreased from 500 to 300 milligrams thrice daily because of gastrointestinal adverse events, and all of these side effects disappeared within one week.

The researchers concluded, “In summary, berberine is a potent oral hypoglycemic [blood sugar lowering] agent with modest effect on lipid metabolism. It is safe and the cost of treatment by berberine is very low.”

Better blood sugar control …and a few pounds shed

In a second publication, other researchers described results achieved by 116 individuals with type 2 diabetes and cholesterol and triglyceride abnormalities who participated in a randomized, double-blind trial that compared 500 milligrams of berberine taken twice daily with placebo, also taken twice daily.2 In the berberine group, average fasting blood sugar decreased from 126 to 101 milligrams/deciliter.

Two hours after a standardized glucose challenge, blood sugars decreased from an average 216 to an average 160 milligrams per deciliter. Average hemoglobin A1c decreased from 7.5 percent to 6.6 percent, average triglycerides decreased from 221 to 141 millgrams per deciliter, average total cholesterol decreased from 205 to 168 milligrams per deciliter, and average LDL-cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) decreased from 125 to 97 milligrams per deciliter.

These researchers also reported “secondary outcomes.” Body weight decreased from an average 151 pounds to an average 146 pounds with berberine, a significantly greater fall (five pounds) than in the placebo group, who went from an average 158 pounds to an average 155 pounds, a loss of three pounds. A greater reduction of body mass index (BMI) was also found at three months in the berberine group than in the placebo group. Systolic blood pressure decreased from an average of 124 to 117 and diastolic blood pressure decreased from an average of 81 to 77 in those treated with berberine, exceeding the fall from 126 to 123 systolic and from 83 to 80 diastolic in those who took the placebo.

Side effects were few and mostly transient in the berberine group. Tests were done for kidney and liver function, as well as blood counts and electrolytes. Mild to moderate constipation occurred in five participants receiving berberine and one participant in the placebo group. Constipation “cleared up” in three of the five taking berberine and the one in the placebo group. The other two in the berberine group reduced their quantity of berberine by half to 250 milligrams twice daily, which relieved the constipation. Three measured liver enzymes (for the technically inclined AST, ALT, and GGT) all decreased to within the normal range.

How berberine does the job

So how does berberine improve blood sugar control? Much of the answer involves the effect of berberine on insulin and insulin regulation. Some of the rest is explained by berberine’s indirect effect on blood sugar regulation through its effect on little-known (to non-researchers) gastro-intestinal hormones termed “incretins.”

Berberine improves the action of insulin by activating an enzyme (for the technically inclined, AMP-activated protein kinase, or AMPK) which helps regulate the cellular uptake of glucose, the oxidation (“burning”) of fatty acids and the synthesis of glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4), the insulin-regulated glucose carrier found in fat and skeletal and cardiac muscle that is responsible for moving glucose from the bloodstream into cells.3-6 GLUT 4 is found only in muscle and fat cells, the major tissues in the body that respond to insulin.

Berberine increases the “expression” (number and activity) of insulin receptors.7,8 The increase in number and activity of course enables the same amount of insulin to be more effective than before. Another way of describing this activity of berberine is “decreasing insulin resistance.” Other researchers have reported that berberine inhibits an enzyme (for the technically inclined, protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B, or PTP1B) which in turn inhibits the insulin receptor.9 When the insulin receptor isn’t inhibited as much, it can of course function better, and the net result is that insulin can “work” better.

“Incretins” are hormones secreted by our stomachs and intestines that simultaneously increase the amount of insulin and inhibit the amount of glucagon (a pancreatic hormone which “opposes” insulin) released from the pancreatic islet cells after eating, even before blood sugar levels rise. (It’s like an “anticipatory” action so more insulin—and less glucagon— will be immediately available when the glucose starts to rise in the blood.) Incretins also slow the rate of absorption of nutrients into the blood stream by slowing stomach emptying; this may indirectly reduce food intake. Another way in which berberine regulates blood sugar is by increasing the secretion of one of the major incretins, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1).10

However, the actions of GLP-1 and other incretins to increase insulin release, lower glucagon release, and help regulate blood sugar are normally rapidly negated by another enzyme called DDP-4 (for the technically inclined, dipeptidyl peptidase 4). Yet another aspect of the blood sugar regulating action of berberine is its ability to inhibit DDP-4.11 When DDP-4 is inhibited, GLP-1 and other gut-secreted incretins aren’t broken down as rapidly, so they can continue to stimulate insulin and inhibit glucagon release significantly longer.

Get your type 2 diabetes under control… without a single drug!

Thousands of years of use, and still largely ignored

Berberine is a major active component of the herb Coptis chinensis (Huang-lian), which—according to one research group—has been used in China to treat what is now identified as type 2 diabetes for literally thousands of years.

According to another research group, its blood sugar lowering effect was noticed when it was given to type 2 diabetic individuals to treat diarrhea. After the isolation of the berberine molecule itself, one of the first publications describing its use to lower blood sugar in type 2 diabetics was published in China in 1988.12 This and two subsequent research papers published in 200413 and 200514 found significant reductions in fasting and after-eating blood sugar control, and one also found significant reductions in cholesterol and triglycerides. Only one case of constipation (but no other adverse effects) was reported.

However, despite the safe and effective results reported, these studies suffered from the “defect” of not being placebo-controlled, and were (and are presently) only available in Chinese, so no one noticed them— with the possible exception of patent medicine companies working to make a patentable un-Natural molecule “analog” to berberine, and they won’t tell!

But the research studies you’ve already read about were “controlled,” and compared berberine directly with placebo or the number one established patent medication, metformin (Glucophage®, Glucophage XR®, Glumetza®, Fortamet®, Riomet®), or used berberine in addition to patent medication treatment—and all proved berberine to be clinically effective.

If you have type 2 diabetes and are using any patent medication, consider consulting a physician skilled and knowledgeable in natural and nutritional medicine and switching to berberine. Of course, there are many other natural techniques which can also be used to regulate and even normalize blood sugar in type 2 diabetes, including diet, exercise, vitamins, minerals, and other botanicals. It appears, however, that berberine can be a major tool, with fewer and less severe adverse effects than patent medications.

Are you a type 2 diabetic taking one of these medicines?

The Lancet, considered to be one of the world’s “top” medical journals, published an editorial titled “Individualized incretin-based treatment for type 2 diabetes” in the August 7, 2010 edition. The author wrote, “All GLP-1 receptor agonists [molecules which stimulate the receptor for the incretin hormone GLP-1, which helps regulate blood sugar] that are “approved” [quotation marks added] or in development for the treatment of type 2 diabetes cause nausea, vomiting, and sometimes diarrhea in a substantial proportion of patients.”

He continued by observing that GLP-1 can help regulate blood sugar without these effects—which should be rather obvious because our own internally secreted GLP-1 doesn’t cause any of these problems! But rather than recommend that natural GLP-1—or berberine, which stimulates GLP-1—be used instead of “approved” or “under development” patent medicines, he instead suggests that researchers look into why the patent medications cause these problems, as this would “pave the way to an even more impressive exploitation of the incretin-based treatment strategy.”

Exploitation is exactly the correct word to describe this point of view, which ignores completely the much safer and considerably less expensive molecules found in our bodies and in Nature, and continues to pursue the development, sale, and use of prohibitively expensive patent medicine substitutes with much greater incidence of so-called “side” effects—which are actually part of the real effects of these never-before-found-on-planet- Earth (extraterrestrial, space alien) molecules.

Lithium – The Misunderstood Mineral Part 1

Lithium – The Misunderstood Mineral Part 1

The biggest problem with lithium treatment is people’s perception of it. Since its most well known use is for bi-polar disorder, lithium sometimes encounters the same stigma as mental illness itself.

I’ve been taking a lithium supplement every day for several years. When I tell people about it, they sometimes get funny looks on their faces and start eyeing the corners of the room for straight jackets. These reactions don’t surprise me, since, as I said, lithium is usually associated with mental illness. But I’ve never suffered from a mental disorder (although certain mainstream medical doctors and possibly a federal agency or two might disagree). Treating manic-depressive (bi-polar) illness is lithium’s most widely known use–but it isn’t an anti-psychotic drug, as many people believe. In fact, lithium isn’t a drug at all. It’s actually a mineral-part of the same family of minerals that includes sodium and potassium.

You might remember reading several editions of Health e-Tips a few months ago that discussed various benefits of lithium. In addition to the benefits mentioned in the e-Tips, like controlling gout and relieving rashes caused by sebhorric dermatitis, lithium also has some great brain-boosting effects. In fact, I’ve reviewed both recent lithium research and the research spanning the past few decades, and I’m convinced that lithium is an anti-aging nutrient for human brains. And there are also some very strong reasons to believe that lithium therapy will slow the progression of serious degenerative mental problems, including Alzheimer’s disease, senile dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.

So there are obviously quite a few “pros” to using lithium, but you’re probably wondering about the “cons.” In the 1930s and ’40s, lithium chloride was sold in stores as a salt substitute. But (as frequently happens) some people used way too much and suffered toxic overdoses, so it fell out of common use. Fortunately, lithium toxicity is entirely preventable, and it’s also easily treatable if it ever does occur — but more about that later. Right now, let’s get into some of the specifics on just how you (and your brain) can benefit from lithium.

Taking (grey) matters into your own hands

Hercule Poirot, Agatha Christie’s famous fictional detective, had an amusing quirk in his incessant concern for his “little grey cells.” I thought of Hercule several years ago when I saw the following headline in an issue of the Lancet: “Lithium-induced increase in human brain grey matter.”

That may not sound like an earth-shattering piece of news, but it actually was quite a major discovery. To that point, medical experts believed that once our brains matured, it was all downhill from then on. Decades of autopsies, x-rays, and, more recently, brain scans have repeatedly shown that brains shrink measurably with aging. But according to their report in the Lancet, Wayne State University (Detroit) researchers found that lithium has the ability to both protect and renew brain cells.1 Eight of 10 individuals who took lithium showed an average 3 percent increase in brain grey matter in just four weeks.

Lithium may help to generate entirely new cells too: Another group of researchers recently reported that lithium also enhances nerve cell DNA replication.2 DNA replication is a first step in the formation of a new cell of any type.

The Wayne State study used high-dose lithium, but I’m certainly not using that amount myself, nor do I recommend it. Prescription quantities of lithium just aren’t necessary for “everyday” brain cell protection and re-growth. Studies done years ago have shown that very low amounts of lithium can also measurably influence brain function for the better.

Lithium – The Misunderstood Mineral Part 1

Protect yourself from brain damage you didn’t even know you had

Aside from boosting brain mass, recent research also shows that lithium can help protect your brain from the “beating” it gets in the course of everyday life. Your brain cells are constantly at risk of damage from exposure to toxins of all sorts-even ones produced by your own body. Toxic molecules are formed naturally during the course of normal brain metabolism. Since these “normal” toxic molecules (sometimes called “excitotoxins”) are produced every day of your life, eventually they start to wear down or erode away brain mass.

Another well-known cause of brain cell injury is overactivated N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. Lithium can inhibit this overactivity. And lithium also increases production of a major brain protective protein called “bcl-2″ in both human and animal brain cells.

So it appears that lithium can protect against normal brain erosion and shrinkage that would otherwise occur over the course of our lives. But lithium also protects the brain from other less “normal” problems too, like damage caused by prescription medications and strokes.

When a clot or other obstruction occurs in a blood vessel serving the brain, it causes a reduction of blood flow to that area. If it’s bad enough, the lack of blood flow will cause a stroke and death of brain cells. (This type of stroke is known as an ischemic stroke.) Research in experimental animals with deliberately induced ischemic strokes has shown that lithium reduces the areas of cell death.

In one of these studies, researchers blocked a brain artery in rats. Some were pre-treated with lithium for 16 days, the rest weren’t. The researchers reported that the lithium-treated rats experienced 56 percent less cell death and significantly fewer neurologic deficits than the control rats.

And sometimes medications designed to treat other problems end up having a negative impact on the brain. For example, anti-convulsant medications cause abnormal levels of brain cell death. But lithium significantly protects against this type of cell death-so much so that this effect has been called “robust” (a term scientists use to mean “It really works!”).

In fact, based on its general neuroprotective effect, researchers have recently suggested that “the use of lithium as a neurotrophic/neuroprotective agent should be considered in the long term treatment of mood disorders, irrespective of the ‘primary’ treatment modality being used for the condition.” Translation: Lithium should be used along with any patent medicine being used for depression, anxiety, or any other “mood-altering” reason, since it will protect brain cells against their unwanted toxic effects. The researchers didn’t say so, but I will: Any list of “mood altering substances” should include alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, “uppers,” “downers,” and-for those who do inhale-marijuana. Harmless as some of them might seem, these substances can cause brain damage with medium to long-term abuse.

Keeping your brain’s lines of communication open -and healthy

Scientists determine how healthy brain cells are by measuring levels of a molecule called N-acetyl-aspartate (NAA). A decrease in NAA is thought to reflect decreased nerve cell viability, decreased function, or even nerve cell loss. In a study of 19 research volunteers given four weeks of lithium, 14 experienced a significant increase in NAA, one had no change, and four had a small decrease.

Now, what about the interaction between those new, protected, healthy brain cells? Communication between brain cells and networks of brain cells is called “signaling.” And lithium is actually necessary for at least two signal-carrying pathways. Researchers have also reported that lithium may help to repair abnormally functioning signaling pathways in critical areas of the brain.

Lithium and Alzheimer’s: New hope for a “hopeless” situation

As you know, there’s no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and there’s very little available for patients (and families) that can offer even partial relief from the turmoil it causes. So when new treatments are developed or discovered, it’s usually big news -a ray of hope for people stuck in a seemingly hopeless situation. One of these newly developed patent medications, called Memantine,(tm) was recently approved in Europe. Even though it’s not officially “approved” in this country (yet), thousands of people are already importing Memantine to the U.S. via various Internet sources. But why go through all the trouble (not to mention risk) of getting and using this new patent formula? Apparently, it “works” by protecting brain cells against damage caused by a major excitotoxin, glutamate. But protecting against glutamate-induced nerve cell damage is also one of the well-known actions of lithium. So if it’s true that this newly approved patent medication slows the progress of Alzheimer’s disease in this way, then lithium should slow Alzheimer’s disease progression, too. Of course, lithium treatment, which isn’t patentable and doesn’t have nearly the profit potential of patented Alzheimers medications, hasn’t made any headlines. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a promising option for patients struggling with Alzheimer’s disease.

There are many other research findings that also strongly suggest that lithium will protect against potential Alzheimer’s disease and slow the progression of existing cases. Researchers have reported that lithium inhibits beta-amyloid secretion, and also prevents damage caused by beta-amyloid protein once it’s been formed. Beta-amyloid peptide is a signature protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease: the more beta-amyloid protein, the worse the Alzheimer’s becomes.

Lithium – The Misunderstood Mineral Part 1

Overactivation of a brain cell protein called tau protein also contributes to neuronal degeneration in Alzheimer’s disease, as does the formation of neurofibrillary tangles Lithium inhibits both of these nerve-cell damaging problems.

And you’ve likely read that individuals with Alzheimer’s disease usually have excess aluminum accumulation in brain cells. While it’s not yet known whether this excess aluminum is a cause, an effect, or just coincidental, most health-conscious individuals take precautions to avoid ingesting aluminum. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to completely avoid all aluminum, since it’s naturally present in nearly all foods. But lithium can help protect your brain against aluminum by helping to “chelate” it so that it can be more easily removed from the body.

Although Alzheimer’s disease and senile dementia aren’t technically the same, they do share many of the same degenerative features so there’s every reason to expect that lithium will help prevent or slow the progression of senile dementia too.

A younger, healthier brain with just one small dose a day

As I mentioned earlier, some of these studies used rather high doses of lithium. And in some instances, as in the case of manic depression, doses as high as 90 to 180 milligrams of elemental lithium from 900 to 1800 milligrams of lithium carbonate are necessary. Quantities of lithium in that range must be monitored closely to guard against overdose and toxicity.

But you really don’t need large amounts to improve your “every-day” brain function. Studies have repeatedly shown that substantially lower amounts of lithium can significantly improve brain function (as reflected in behavior).

The amounts of lithium I recommend for brain anti-aging range from 10 to 20 milligrams (from lithium aspartate or lithium orotate) daily. I’ve actually been recommending these amounts since the 1970s. At first I was exceptionally cautious and asked all of my patients taking lithium to have regular “lithium level” blood tests and thyroid function tests. After a year or so, I quit asking for the lithium level blood tests, since 100 percent of them came back very low. Another year after that, I stopped requesting routine thyroid function tests, too, only doing one when I was suspicious of a potential problem. In the 30 years since, I’ve rarely found one.

Protect your brain starting today–no prescription necessary

High-dose lithium is available only by prescription. But low-dose lithium (capsules or tablets containing 5 milligrams of lithium from lithium aspartate or lithium orotate) is available from a few natural food stores and compounding pharmacies.

If you’re interested in keeping your brain as young as possible for as long as possible, you should definitely consider lithium therapy. Review this information with your physician…but make sure he is skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural medicine!

More to read: Nutritional Supplements for Optimum Health 2.0

Nutritional Supplements

Nutritional Supplements for Optimum Health 2.0

Following the work of Drs. Russell L. Blaylock, M.D. and Jonathan V. Wright, M.D., this is an update to my 2009 article on nutritional supplements. The doses of a number of them are different particularly with regard to Curcumin and Coenzyme Q 10, and the doses of calcium and strontium have been brought into better balance (less strontium than calcium). Three new nutraceuticals (unpatentable, nonprescription natural medicinal products) are added: R-lipoic acid; folic acid as 5-MTHF (5-methyltetrahydrofolate); and propionyl-L-carnitine, combined with acetyl-L-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid, each in a higher dose.

There is growing evidence that nutritional supplements—vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acid nutrients, herbal and botanical products, and various other natural compounds like coenzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid—have specific health benefits, in addition to those provided by the right diet, daily exercise, reducing stress, and getting a good night’s sleep. Taken in the correct doses these nutraceuticals can help prevent cancer, heart disease, depression, neurodegenerative diseases, and prevent loss of hearing and loss of vision from macular degeneration and cataracts.

These are the supplements that I take, along with their doses and a brief explanation of each one’s benefits:

The Top Ten:

Vitamin D3 – 5,000 IU/day, 1 tablet (6 cents/day)

Called the “master key to optimum health,” vitamin D controls the expression of more than 1,000 genes throughout the body, notably in the immune system, in endothelial cells lining blood vessels, pancreatic beta cells, and brain neurons. Genes that vitamin D express prevent influenza and treat tuberculosis, strengthen muscles, prevent common cancers (and possibly suppress metastasizes), and prevent autoimmune diseases. Vitamin D also expresses genes that blunt the immune system-mediated inflammatory response that propagates atherosclerosis and congestive heart failure. For most people the dose needed to reach an optimal vitamin D blood level (25-hydroxyvitamin D) of 50 ng/ml is 5,000 IU/day, ten times the government’s recommended dietary allowance (RDA). People with cancer, chronic illness, and neurodegenerative diseases should take sufficient vitamin D to attain a level of 80 ng/ml (which requires 8,000-10,000 IU/day).

Nutritional Supplements

Iodine – 12.5 mg/day — two drops of 5% Lugol’s solution (5 cents/day) or one Iodoral tablet (26 cents/day)

Iodine taken in doses 100 times the RDA (100-150 micrograms/day) has important extrathyroidal benefits. These include its role as an antioxidant, in preventing and treating fibrocystic disease of the breast, and in preventing and treating cancer. In the right dose, iodine helps keep the immune system healthy, and it provides antiseptic mucosal defense in the mouth, stomach, and vagina. People who take iodine in milligram doses say that they feel healthier, have a sense of well being and increased energy.

Selenium – 200 mcg/day, as selenomethionine, 1 tablet (8 cents/day)

Bound to cysteine in place of sulfur and called the “21st amino acid,” selenocysteine is the active site in some 35 proteins. Glutathione peroxidase, which contains four selenium atoms, plays a major role in free radical defense. Plasma selenoprotein P protects endothelial cells against damage, and epithelial selenoprotein protects prostratic secretory cells from developing carcinoma. People deficient in selenium have an increased risk of cancer. Selenium prevents cancer through a variety of mechanisms, which include antioxidant protection, enhanced immune surveillance, suppression of angiogenesis, regulation of cell proliferation, enhancement of apoptosis (cell death), and inhibition of tumor cell invasion. See my article on selenium titled “The Moon Goddess’ Role in Human Health.”

Vitamin K2 – 90 mcg/day, as menaquinone-7, 1 tablet (22 cents/day)

Vitamin K comes in two basic forms, K1 and K2. K1 is a cofactor for blood coagulation. K2 activates osteocalcin, a protein secreted by osteoblasts that plays a role in bone mineralization and calcium ion hemostasis. Calcium deposits in the walls of blood vessels play an active role in the formation of atherosclerosis. K2 activates a protein called matrix Gla (carboxyglutamic acid) protein. It carboxylates the glutamate residues in matrix Gla protein, which enables it to bind and remove calcium from blood vessels and thus prevent the formation atherosclerotic calcific plaques. Vitamins D and K2 work together in this regard because vitamin D expresses the gene that makes matrix Gla protein. Menaquinone-7, the natural form of vitamin K2, is better than synthetic menaquinone-4, the more widely marketed form of vitamin K2.

Magnesium (Mg) – 900 mg/day, in 6 tablets of Magnesium Citramate (Thorne Research) (6 cents/day)

Magnesium ions are essential to the basic nucleic acid chemistry of life, and 80 percent of the enzymes in the body need Mg in order to function. Mg deficiency can affect every organ system in the body. In skeletal muscles, Mg deficiency causes twitches, cramps, back aches, neck pain, tension headaches. With the heart Mg deficiency can cause angina (from spasm of the coronary arteries), high blood pressure, and rhythm disturbances, including sudden death.

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) – 600 mg/day, in Jonathan Wright M.D.’s Propel, 8 tablets for men; 300mg/day, 4 tablets for women; along with Acetyl-L-carnitine and Propionyl-L-carnitine or 300 mg, as Thiocid (Thorne Research) (59 cents/day)

Sporting a sulfur-hydrogen (sulfhydryl) group and being soluble in both fat and water, ALA is one of the most powerful antioxidants in the body and a critical nutraceutical. In addition to its own work as an antioxidant, ALA restores the four other network antioxidants when oxidized (vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, and glutathione) back to their functional, reduced antioxidant state. ALA aids glucose entry into cells, improves insulin sensitivity, and reduces the risk of diabetes. It protects brain cells by blocking excitotoxicity, chelates (removes) mercury from the body, and reduces the risk of atherosclerosis. ALA also plays an integral role in producing the energy molecule adenosine triphosphate (ATP), feeding pyruvate from the glycolytic cycle into the Krebs cycle.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) – 400 mg/day, as Ubiquinol, 2 capsules ($1.26/day)

CoQ10 is a vitamin-like compound. The body synthesizes it, but in insufficient quantities, especially in people who take statins likeLipitor to lower cholesterol. It is a strong antioxidant and removes oxidized low-density lipoproteins (LDL), a leading culprit in atherosclerosis. CoQ10 also plays a critical role in mitochondrial energy production. It is a necessary ingredient in the electron transport chain that produces ATP through oxidative phosphorylation. A central event in chronic degenerative diseases is the loss of a cell’s ability to produce sufficient energy. The hearts in people with congestive heart failure, and the brains in those with Parkinson’s disease lack CoQ10 High doses of this supplement (800-1,200 mg/day) effectively treat these diseases. Even in these doses CoQ10 has no side effects or toxicity. Ubiquinol is the reduced, antioxidant form CoQ10.

L-Carnitine – 660 mg/day 2 capsules (48 cents/day)

Fats supply most of the fuel that heart muscle cells use, and this compound is needed for cells to metabolize fats. L-carnitine transports long chain fatty acids, which, by weight, have a double concentration of calories (compared with carbohydrates and proteins) into mitochondria, where they are converted into ATP. As is the case with CoQ10, people with congestive heart failure also have low levels of L-carnitine in their heart muscle cells.

Omega 3 fatty acids:

EPA eicosapentaenoic acid) – 850-1080 mg/day (in 2 tsp Quantum Cod Liver Oil)
DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – 1,050 mg/day (in 2 tsp Quantum Cod Liver Oil) (70 cents/day)

These two essential, Omega-3 fatty acids promote cognitive and neurological health, and they prevent heart disease and cancer. DHA influences brain cell signaling, receptor expression and function, and neurotransmitters. It stimulates neurite outgrowth and synaptic development and repair (brain plasticity). EPA thins the blood. Both regulate the expression of many genes involving antioxidant capacity and oxidative stress response, others that control cell signaling and proliferation, and genes that produce chemicals which reduce inflammation and improve blood flow through the coronary arteries and other blood vessels.

I mix the two teaspoons of cod liver oil in two ounces of Limu Plus, which tastes good.

Resveratrol 100 mg/day as Longevinex ($1.61/day) or Resveratrol, with Trans-Pterostilbene – total 200 mg/day, 2 tablets, as PolyResveratrol-SR (Thorne Research) ($1.51/day)

This anti-aging agent, found in red grapes, extends the life span of yeast (by 70%), roundworms, fruit flies, and mammals (as seen in studies done with mice). Resveratrol controls the expression of more than 100 genes, including Sirtuin 1, the DNA-repair “survival” gene. Notably among its effects, resveratrol is a potent antioxidant, an anti-inflammatory agent (COX-inhibitor), liver detoxifier, brain plaque cleanser, and mineral chelator. It also normalizes blood sugar. (Trans-Pterostilbene is a naturally-occurring methylated metabolite of resveratrol, which is better absorbed and not as easily broken down in the liver. It has anti-aging effects similar to resveratrol.)

I obtain the requisite Omega 3 EPA and DHA by taking 2 teaspoons a day of high-vitamin Quantum cod liver oil (Blue Ice cod liver oil is equally good), which also has 23,000 IU of vitamin A and 2,500 IU of vitamin D3, so that my total daily dose of vitamin D3 is 7,5000 IU. (The vitamin D present renders this dose of oil-based vitamin A completely safe and non-toxic.) Both Quantum and Blue Ice cod liver oil also come in capsules for those who don’t like drinking the oil.

Instead of cod liver oil, other preparations of EPA and DHA in capsule form are suitable substitutes, one of which, DHA, I also take in capsule form (Thorne Research). In addition to these ten essential nutraceuticals one should also take a broad spectrum multivitamin-mineral supplement. But better yet, I take these:

Other Nutritional Supplements I Take Vitamins:

Fat-soluble vitamins (in addition to vitamins D and K above):

– 23,000 IU/day, oil-based, in Quantum Cod Liver Oil, 2 teaspoons

Vitamin A helps protect the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat, gastrointestinal tract, and lungs by promoting mucin secretion and microvilli formation. It is an essential nutrient for the eyes, skin, and immune system. The hormonally active form of vitamin A, 9-cis-retinoic acid, is essential for the full functioning of vitamin D (without it, activated vitamin D binds weakly to its receptors on DNA, resulting in a reduced effect on gene expression). Water-miscible, emulsified, and solid forms of retinol (vitamin A) supplements are ten times more toxic than oil-based preparations like that in cod liver and should be taken in a considerably lower dose. (Am J Clin Nutr 2003;78:1152-9.)

– 800 IU/day, in “Unique E,” which contains natural d-alpha tocopherol and a proprietary blend of d-gamma tocopherol, d-delta tocopherol and d-beta tocopherol, two capsules (46 cents/day)

Functioning as an antioxidant, vitamin E protects cell membranes by extinguishing various singlet oxygen and polyunsaturated fatty acid radicals. And like vitamins D and A, vitamin E also acts as a hormone in regulating gene expression. Natural d-alpha tocopherol works better than synthetic dl-alpha tocopherol, the most common form of vitamin E in multivitamin supplements. The natural form makes platelets less sticky, whereas platelets cannot absorb the synthetic kind. There are seven other forms of vitamin E—three tocopherols and four tocotrienols. Gamma tocopherol neutralizes free radicals that the alpha form cannot douse; and studies show that it, in particular, lowers the risk of prostate and colon cancer.

Water-soluble vitamins:

B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin, as niacinamide), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin) – each 50 mg/day, in “B Complex 50”, one capsule (8 cents/day)

Cells depend on these B vitamins for energy production and cell maintenance. Thiamine plays an essential metabolic role in carbohydrate and protein metabolism and in neural function. Riboflavin plays a key role in energy metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Niacinamide, the functional vitamin form of niacin, is a precursor for electron-carrying coenzymes involved in cellular respiration. It is also involved in DNA repair and the production of steroid hormones in the adrenal gland. Animal studies show that niacinamide protects against Alzheimer’s dementia and Parkinson’s disease, and it produces dramatic improvements in cognitive brain function after head injuries and stroke. Pantothenic acid is a cofactor necessary for forming coenzyme-A, a compound that plays pivotal role in the synthesis and oxidation of fatty acids, and the oxidation of pyruvate in the citric acid cycle (the process during aerobic respiration that generates biochemical energy). Biotin is necessary for cell growth, production of fatty acids, and metabolism of fats and amino acids; and it also plays a role in the citric acid cycle. During times of stress these critical water-soluble vitamins become quickly depleted.

B9 (folic acid) 400 mcg/day, in “B Complex 50”; and 1 mg/day as 5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF), one capsule, Thorne Research (25 cents/day)

Folic acid repairs DNA. Without folic acid, breaks in DNA, like that which occurs when a person is exposed to ionizing radiation, remain unrepaired. Along with vitamins B6 and B12, folic acid is a cofactor in the metabolism of methionine. When any one of these three vitamins is deficient, blood and tissue levels of homocysteine rise. Elevated homocysteine blood levels increase the risk of stroke, a heart attack, and peripheral vascular disease; and it is associated with a greater incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. 5-MTHF is the most biologically active form of folic acid and is worth taking in addition to the 400 mcg in the “B Complex 50.”

B12 (methylcobalamin) 1,000 mcg/day sublingual (13 cents/day)

Along with folic acid, cobalt-containing vitamin B12 is essential for the formation of the nervous system’s intricate patterns and plays a key role in brain function and in maintaining a healthy nervous system. This vitamin is required for synthesis of DNA during cell division and is especially important in tissues where cells divide rapidly, particularly the bone marrow, which produces red blood cells a 50-day half-life.

(buffered) – 3,000 mg/day (21 cents/day)

In addition to its role as an antioxidant, vitamin C is an essential cofactor for protein synthesis, particularly for collagen, the structural component of connective tissue (bone, teeth, cartilage, ligaments, skin, and blood vessels). Collagen makes up 25 percent of the proteins in the body. In its role as an electron donor, vitamin C transfers electrons to iron. Iron in enzymes that make collagen transfers its vitamin C-supplied electron to oxygen, thereby enabling it to combine with hydrogen as a hydroxyl (-OH) group. Hydroxyl groups attach to the amino acids in collagen, forming cross links that give this protein its tensile strength. Vitamin C dramatically increases iron absorption and should be taken on an empty stomach (along with strontium below), not with meals.

Minerals (along with magnesium in the top-ten supplement list):

Calcium – 562 mg/day, 1 tablets of 1,500 mg Coral Calcium (7 cents/day)

In its ionic form, calcium functions as a signal for cellular processes and is the major material used in mineralization of bones and teeth. Taking calcium as a nutritional supplement avoids ever having a deficiency of this element. It helps keep one’s bones strong and helps prevent colorectal cancer.

Potassium – 2.1 gm/day, from 4 capsules (5.4 gm) of potassium bicarbonate, taken on a empty stomach washed down with a full glass of water (33 cents/day)

The potassium content of the average American diet is quite low, 60-80 mEq (4.4 gm)/day, compared to our Paleolithic ancestors, who consumed 400 ± 125 mEq/day. Among its many benefits, potassium reduces blood pressure, increases muscle mass (by deceasing urinary nitrogen excretion), decreases bone loss (by reducing urinary calcium excretion), reduces the risk of stroke, reduces dietary acid load, and improves endothelial function.

Strontium – 340 mg/day, as strontium citrate, 1 capsule, taken alone on an empty stomach and not with other minerals, especially calcium, which impairs its absorption (18 cents/day)

On the recommendation of my physician, Dr. Jonathan Wright, I have started taking strontium to help keep my bones strong and prevent osteoporosis. Like calcium, its smaller cousin, strontium has two positive charges in its ionic form. Animal and human studies show that it increases bone density and the rate of bone formation and decreases the rate of bone resorption. In a randomized, placebo-controlled trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine, osteoporotic postmenopausal women taking 680 mg of strontium a day had fewer fractures. Strontium also reduces the incidence of dental cavities and has a cartilage-growth-promoting effect that could help people who suffer from arthritis. A review of the health benefits of strontium is here.

Zinc – 30 mg/day (13 cents/day)

Zinc is a constituent of more than 3,000 different proteins in the body. Like calcium, cells employ zinc to serve as a signal for cellular processes, notably in salivary glands, intestine, the immune system, and prostate gland. Zinc deficiency leads to poor night vision, a decrease in sense of taste and smell, reduced ability to fight infections, and poor wound healing.

The (Five) Network Antioxidants:

They are vitamin C, vitamin EAlpha Lipoic Acid, and Coenzyme Q10 above, and Glutathione (see The Antioxidant Miracle by Lester Packer and Carol Colman) NAcetyl-Cysteine (NAC) – 1,000 to 2,000 mg/day, 2-4 tablets, the essential ingredient for making Glutathione (48 to 96 cents/day)

The two major sulfur-containing compounds (thiols) in the five-fold antioxidant network are alpha lipoic acid and glutathione. Called the “master antioxidant,” glutathione regulates the actions of other antioxidants in the body, notably vitamins C and E and various bioflavonoids (water-soluble plant pigments). Glutathione also plays an important role in DNA and protein synthesis and repair, and the amount of glutathione in one’s cells predicts how long he or she will live. (It along with vitamin D protects against aluminum toxicity.) Glutathione is poorly absorbed and does not cross the blood-brain barrier. NAC, which is readily absorbable, provides the scarce sulfur-containing amino acid cysteine required for synthesis of glutathione. The two other amino acids in glutathione, glycine and glutamic acid, are widely abundant in food and cells).

Also Idebenone – 90 mg/day (61 cents/day)

On the recommendation of Dr. Russell Blaylock, I take this synthetic form of CoQ10 in addition to CoQ10 itself. Idebenone is more easily absorbed by the brain than is CoQ10. It protects neurons from free radical damage and other adverse excitotoxic effects.

Also R-Lipoic Acid – 400 mg/day, 2 capsules (88 cents/day)

This is the most active form of Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), supplementing the 600 mg of ALA (see above) in Propel.

Two other Carnitines (80 cents or $1.60/day)

Acetyl-L-Carnitine –2,000 mg/day, in Jonathan Wright M.D.’s Propel, 8 tabs for men; 1,000 mg/day, 4 tabs, for women

Like idebenone with regard to CoQ10, this form of carnitine is better absorbed by the brain than L-carnitine. It increases cell energy, and the acetyl component is an important neurotransmitter. Acetyl-L-carnitine helps prevent and treat Alzheimer’s dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and Parkinson’s disease.

Propionyl-L-Carnitine –2,000 mg/day, in Jonathan Wright M.D.’s Propel, 8 tabs for men; 1,000 mg/day, 4 tabs, for women

As per Dr. Wright, Propionyl-L-Carnitine, combined with Acetyl-L-Carnitine and Alpha Lipoic Acid, enhances libido and sexual function in both men and women.

Amino Acids

L-Carnosine – 2 gm/day, 6 capsules ($1.98/day)

A water-soluble antioxidant that protects cell membranes, regulates calcium metabolism in heart muscle cells, and has other important wound healing and anti-aging properties.

Arginine – 2,000 mg/day (2 capsules twice a day) as “Perfusia-SR” (97 cents/day)

Arginine fosters heart and blood vessel health. It improves production of nitric oxide by vascular smooth muscle cells, causing blood vessels to relax and have improved blood flow; and it decreases platelet adhesiveness, rendering them less sticky, which further enhances blood flow. This amino acid also bolsters the endocrine system, enhances immunocompetence, and hastens wound healing.

Nutritional Supplements

One Omega-6 Fatty Acid

Conjugated Linoleic Acid – 2,000 mg/day, 2 softgels (18 cents/day)

Vegetable oils—corn, cottonseed, canola, sunflower, safflower, and soybean oils—contain Omega-6 fatty acids. Although Omega-6 fatty acids, like their Omega-3 cousins, are essential, Americans consume far too many of them. The ideal ratio for Omega-6/Omega-3 fatty acid consumption is 1:1 up to 4:1. The average American, however, consumes Omega 6 fatty acids in a 50:1 ratio! In this amount, these polyunsaturated plant fats cause inflammation, which is the underlying cause of a number of chronic diseases, including atherosclerosis. They also cause cancer. But conjugated linoleic acid, in eggs and animal fat (not in vegetable oils), is the only Omega-6 fatty acid that is worth taking as a supplement. Conjugated linoleic acid reduces body fat and, among its anticancer benefits, suppresses breast and colon cancer.


Ginkgo Biloba – 240 mg/day, 2 (120 mg) tablets (10 cents/day)

Extracted from the 200 million-year-old maidenhair tree (the oldest living tree species on earth), ginkgo biloba thins the blood and decreases platelet adhesiveness, like aspirin, but without its side effects. It increases blood flow through the body, especially in the heart and brain. Ginko biloba improves mental functioning and memory in older people and may well exert a protective effect against developing Alzheimer’s dementia and Parkinson’s disease. I think one’s health is better served by taking 240mg of ginkgo biloba a day rather than aspirin. (A careful look at the evidence shows that the adverse effects of aspirin taken long-term outweigh its small potential benefit for prevention of heart disease and stroke.)

Pycnogenol – 200 mg/day, 2 (100 gm) capsules (58 cents/day)

Pycnogenol comes from the bark of the French maritime pine tree and is a blend of bioflavenoids that have health-enhancing effects. It increases nitric oxide in the walls of blood vessels, which is the mechanism for having an erection, and, along with arginine, has been called “a poor man’s Viagra,” without Viagra’s side effects. Pycnogenol is a powerful antioxidant that works well with ginkgo biloba and vitamin E. It reduces platelet clumping and blood-clot formation and protects against deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. It also protects against stroke and neurodegenerative diseases.

Silymarin (Silybin, milk thistle) – 1,000 mg/day, 1 tablet (58 cents/day)

Milk thistle comes from flowering plants whose leaves are mottled with splashes of white and contain a milky sap. For 2,000 years herbalists have used the seeds of milk thistle to protect the liver against toxins and to treat chronic liver disease. The active compound in milk thistle, silymarin, is a mixture of four closely related bioflavonoids. Silymarin lowers insulin resistance, slows the growth of cancer cells, and exhibits antiviral activity.

Aged Garlic Extract – 600 mg/day, 1 tablet (6 cents/day)

Aged Garlic Extract (AGE) is a concentrated form of organic garlic. It is odorless and richer in antioxidants than the fresh bulb. AGE helps prevent atherosclerosis, heighten immunity, and prevent and treat cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. It also has anti-aging effects in improving memory, learning, and endurance.

Lycopene – 10 mg/day, one capsule (5 cents/day)

This red carotenoid in tomatoes is an antioxidant that may slow skin aging and prevent certain types of cancer, particularly prostate cancer. It also arrests benign prostatic hypertrophy.
Mushroom Blend – “Garden of Life RM-10,” 2 capsules/day (39 cents/day)

For many years, folk and traditional Chinese medicine has used mushrooms and fungi to strengthen the immune system to fight infections and cancer, and to suppress the immune system when it becomes overactive and causes allergies and autoimmune disease. The RM-10 mushroom blend contains Cordyceps, Reishi, Shiitake, Tremella, and Maitake, among others. It functions like a vitamin pill for the immune system and contains a maintenance dose of beta glucan, which activates macrophages, the first line of defense in the innate immune system.

Vinpocetine – 20 mg/day, 2 capsules (21 cents/day)

Vinpocetine is an extract from the periwinkle plant that boosts cognition and improves memory. Vinpocetine’s neuroprotective action is derived from its ability to improve cerebral blood flow, through its ability to lower blood viscosity; enhance brain cell electrical conductivity: and protect against damage caused by excessive intra-cellular release of calcium and glutamate-induced excitotoxicity. Vinpocetine prevents cognitive deficits related to normal aging and has beneficial effects in people who have ischemic cerebrovascular disease.

Chlorella – 1000 mg/day, 1 tablet (7 cents/day)

Chlorella is a microscopic algae known for its ability to detoxify heavy metals—mercury, cadmium, lead—from the body. It stimulates the immune system and with its high chlorophyll content, counteracts bad breath (and foul smelling stools).

IP-6 (myo-inositol hexaphosphate) –1020 mg/day, two capsule (12 cents/day)

IP-6 stimulates cellular immunity and chelates iron, depriving bacteria and cancer cells of this element, which they need to grow. IP-6 also inhibits vascular calcification.

Curcumin – 1500 mg/day, 6 tablets as Meriva-SR ($1/day), plus 100 mg in PolyResveratrol

Curcumin is the orange-yellow curry spice that comes from turmeric root. It is an antioxidant and has antiproliferative and pro-apoptotic effects on cancer cells, especially melanoma. It suppresses inflammation by down regulating NFB activity and blocking eicosanoid synthesis of inflammatory leukotrienes, prostaglandins, and thromboxanes derived from arachidonic acid. Meriva-SR is curcumin complexed with phosphatidylcholine for superior bioavailability.

Quercitin – 500 mg/day, 2 capsules as Quercenase (Thorne Research) (66 cents/day)

Quercetin prevents oxidation of LDL cholesterol in blood vessel walls, an inciting factor in atherosclerosis. This bioflavenoid, like curcumin, also inhibits inflammation, but in a different way, which makes it worthwhile taking them both together. It inhibits the delta-5-lipooxygenase enzyme, which initiates the production of inflammatory eicosanods. It also inhibits tumor initiation and growth.

Grapefruit seed extract – 125 mg/day (29 cents/day)

Grapefruit seed extract is said to possess anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.

Horsetail (equisetium) – 440 mg/day (3 cents/day)

This herbal remedy is rich in silica and silcic acids, which help form collagen. Naturopathic physicians use horsetail as a supplement to prevent and treat osteoporsis.

Hesperidin – 250 mg/day (22 cents/day)

Hesperidin, found in lemons and oranges, improves the health of capillaries by reducing capillary permeability. It helps halt premature aging and degenerative diseases.

Saw Palmetto – 450 mg/day (4 cents/day)

For men, this extract of the fruit Serenoa repens has shown promise in preventing and treating benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Goldenseal – 470 mg/day (9 cents/day)

This herb has antibacterial and immune-enhancing properties and may also have cardiovascular benefits.

Stinging Nettle – 300 mg/day (3 cents/day)

This herb has a long tradition of use as an adjuvant treatment of arthritis. It contains compounds that reduce inflammatory cytokines.


Theralac – one tablet/three times a week, containing Lactobacillus acidophilus (5 billion CFU), L. paracasei (5 B CFU), L. rhamnosus (2 B); Bifidobacterium lactis (5 B), B. bifidum (3 B)—total of 20 billion colony forming units (64 cents/day)

Beneficial probiotic bacteria help us digest and absorb our food, keep the immune system functioning properly and play a role in generating vitamin B-12. They prevent food allergies, help repair the gut lining, suppress bad bacteria, and help metabolize hormones. Abnormal metabolism of estrogen can produce compounds that may cause breast cancer, and women with low numbers of probiotic organism in their colon have been found to be at a higher risk for breast cancer.

Fucoidan (in Limu Moui) and (Russian) Adaptogens

Limu Plus – 1 ounce/day ($1.20/day)

Fucoidan, in brown seaweed, is a complex carbohydrate (sulfated polysaccharide). Fucoidan enhances immunity and has other important health benefits. This compound causes cancer cells to self destruct—researchers have shown that fucoidan induces apoptosis in human lymphoma cell lines. Fucoidan stimulates the immune system’s natural killer cells, which destroy tumor cells and cells infected with viruses. It prevents white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels, which starts the process of atherosclerosis. Fucoidan also inhibits smooth muscle cell proliferation with neointimal hyperplasia, which causes arterial blockage after placement of stents in heart patients. In one animal study fucoidan prevented neointimal hyperplasia and in-stent restenosis of stents placed in the iliac arteries of rabbits.

Limu (the Hawaiian word for algae) Moui is a nice tasting extract of brown seaweed that contains fucoidan. Limu Plus is Limu Moui with ten adaptogens, which includes Rhodiola Rosea. Adaptogens are herbal products said to increase the body’s resistance to stress, anxiety, and fatigue. Herbalists claim that natural adaptogenic herbs, identified and researched by Russian scientists, are distinct from other substances in their ability to balance endocrine hormones and the immune system, helping the body to maintain optimal homeostasis.


Lithate (lithium aspartate) – 20 mg/day of elemental lithium (22 cents/day)

Lithium is an alkali metal in the same family as sodium and potassium. In low doses (much less than those used to treat depression), lithium has anti-aging effects. It protects brain cells from damage from excitotoxins like glutamate, inhibits beta-amlyloid secretion (a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease), and increases human brain grey matter, among other things. Lithium makes uric acid more soluble so it doesn’t crystallize into painful “needles” and cause gout. And it inhibits reproduction of viruses—herpes simplex, adenovirus (cold), and measles viruses.

Amygdalin (Laetrile, “vitamin B17”) – 100mg/day (23 cents/day)

Found in apricot pits, amygdalin prevents and can treat cancer by this method: An enzyme found in cancerous cells, glucuronidase, breaks amygdalin down into cyanide (and several other non-toxic components). The cyanide thus released kills aberrant, cancerous cells.


Melatonin – 6 mg/day, before bedtime (the dose for people over age 50) (41 cents/day)

In addition to synchronizing the body’s internal clock and inducing sound sleep, this hormone, produced in the pineal gland, enhances cognitive function and has a positive influence on mood and behavior. Melatonin also helps regulate insulin and kills cancer cells. In mouse studies, melatonin reverses 13 of the 25 genes that are altered with aging. (It also triggers puberty in adolescence.)

Six thousand people die each day in the U.S., most of them from preventable diseases. The two leading causes of death are coronary heart disease and cancer, which accounts for more than half of these daily deaths. (In contrast, each day 125 people in the U.S. die in automobile accidents and 60 are murdered.) Taking vitamin D, iodine, and selenium alone could well prevent 80 percent of the cancers that afflict Americans.

In order to achieve the maximum benefit from nutritional supplements, one also needs to eat right and do this: Avoid high fructose corn syrup that is used to sweeten many foods (baked goods and condiments) and beverages (soda pop), stay away from the excitotoxin monosodium glutamate (MSG) used to enhance the flavor of processed foods and in some Chinese and other restaurants, avoid the excitotoxin aspartame (in diet sodas), and avoid trans fats. Eat a lot of vegetables, avoid excess carbohydrate, and eschew low fat diets. Avoid, in particular, industrially processed, polyunsaturated vegetable oils, such as corn, safflower, soy, sunflower, cottonseed, and canola oils.

Instead, eat healthy fats, which include, in addition to omega-3 fatty acids, stable medium-chain saturated fats, such as coconut and palm oils, and long-chain saturated fats found in meat and dairy products. See “The Oiling of America” by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, their book Eat Fat Lose Fat, Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats, and Barry Grove’s Trick and Treat: how “healthy eating” is making us ill for interesting information on the health benefits of a low-carbohydrate, high-saturated-fat diet. See also my article on this subject posted on, “Health Benefits of a Low-Carbohydrate, High-Saturated-Fat Diet.”

More to read: Get your type 2 diabetes under control… without a single drug!