Can I die from sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that can be divided into two categories: obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea can experience daytime sleepiness, and if left untreated, can lead to sudden death. To avoid this, treating sleep apnea with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is essential. 

Depending on the severity, sleep specialists may recommend mild, moderate, or severe sleep apnea treatment. A sleep study is often required to determine the best approach for treating sleep apnea. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it is important to consult with a sleep specialist to understand the signs, symptoms, and consequences of untreated sleep apnea.

Is Sleep Apnea Dangerous?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that causes breathing to temporarily stop or become restricted during sleep. People with this condition can experience severe health problems, such as diabetes, stroke, heart failure, cognitive impairment, and even death. Obstructive and central sleep apnea are the two main types. 

Sleep Apnea Solutions & Treatment can include CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) and other therapies prescribed by a sleep specialist. Obstructive Sleep Apnea Syndrome (OSAS) is a severe form, while moderate and mild forms exist. A sleep study may be required to diagnose the disorder and determine the best treatment. 

What Are the Risks of Untreated Sleep Apnea? 

Sleep apnea is a disorder that is usually caused by obstruction or the inability to initiate breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type and can lead to serious health issues if not treated. Central sleep apnea is less common and is when the body can’t initiate breathing. 

Treating sleep apnea with CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) can help people with mild, moderate, or severe obstructive sleep apnea. A sleep specialist may recommend a sleep study to diagnose sleep apnea and determine the best treatment. People with sleep apnea may experience daytime sleepiness.

  • High blood pressure: Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a sleep disorder that can cause loud snoring, pauses in breathing, and low oxygen levels. It is a risk factor for high blood pressure and can be treated with Positive Airway Pressure. Untreated Sleep Apnea can lead to developing more severe forms such as Treatment Emergent Central Sleep Apnea and Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea. People can fall asleep more easily when Sleep Apnea is diagnosed and treated.
  • Diabetes and insulin resistance: People with mild obstructive sleep apnea may fall asleep easily, but are at risk for developing sleep-disordered breathing. Untreated sleep apnea may lead to loud snoring and can cause the patient to stop breathing at night. This can lead to an increased risk of developing diabetes due to insulin resistance. Positive airway pressure and other treatments can help diagnose and treat sleep apnea, helping to lower blood pressure and reduce risk factors.
  • Pulmonary hypertension: Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which a person can stop breathing while asleep. Loud snoring and falling asleep during the day are risk factors for sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common type and is caused by air pressure in the throat collapsing during sleep. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to high blood pressure and other health problems. 

Treatment for sleep apnea includes positive airway pressure and emergent central sleep apnea. Diagnosing and treating sleep apnea may help to reduce the risk of developing pulmonary hypertension, a condition in which the blood vessels in the lungs have changed due to breathing disruptions.

  • Stroke: Healthy sleep is important for maintaining good oxygen levels in the blood. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common condition that can cause high blood pressure and other health issues. Treatment with oral appliances, sleeping pills, and clinical sleep medicine can help prevent OSA. 

How is sleep affected by losing weight, falling asleep, and upper airway resistance? Daytime fatigue, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and other chronic lung diseases can be caused or worsened by OSA. Treating OSA with bilevel-positive airway pressure and central sleep apnea can help prevent stroke.

  • Abnormal heart rhythms: Sleep apnea happens when a person’s upper airway is blocked, preventing them from getting enough oxygen during sleep. This can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, also known as arrhythmias, which may be a cause of sudden death in those with sleep apnea. Clinical sleep medicine and healthy sleep practices, such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and losing weight, can help prevent sleep apnea. Other treatments such as oral appliances, bilevel-positive airway pressure, and sleeping pills can also help. Oxygen levels, high blood pressure, and daytime fatigue are common in those with sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea (CSA) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are two different types of sleep apnea. How is sleep can be improved by treating sleep apnea and preventing it from happening. 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a condition where the upper airway is blocked, reducing blood oxygen levels and leading to daytime fatigue and other problems. Treatment options include oral appliances, sleeping pills, losing weight, and Bilevel Positive Airway Pressure. 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Clinical Sleep Medicine is important to assess how is sleep and prevent OSA, as it can increase blood pressure, impair memory and worsen mood, and increase the risk of accidents. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease can also occur due to untreated OSA. Healthy sleep is essential for the body to function properly.

Can Sleep Apnea Cause Death Suddenly During Sleep?

People with sleep apnea have an increased risk of sudden cardiac death. Treatments like oral appliances, airway pressure devices, and weight loss can reduce this risk. Sleep apnoea is caused by a narrowed airway and weak upper airway muscles. This can lead to restless sleep, loud snoring, and trouble concentrating. 

Other sleep disorders, like emergent central sleep apnea, can lead to breathing and oxygen levels dropping during sleep. Soft palate and throat muscles also play a role in causing metabolic syndrome and atrial fibrillation. Treating these conditions with devices and lifestyle changes can help people achieve normal sleep and reduce their risk of complications.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnoea is a disorder where breathing and oxygen levels during sleep are disrupted. It can be identified by snoring loudly and gasping for air. Other signs include trouble concentrating, restless sleep, and increased risk of metabolic syndrome, atrial fibrillation, and other sleep disorders. Narrowed airway and upper airway muscles, along with a soft palate, can cause sleep apnoea. Weight loss and airway pressure devices, such as oral appliances and other airway pressure devices, can help to restore normal sleep. This can reduce the risk of emergent central sleep apnea.

Additional signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Waking up gasping for air or choking
  • Making unusual sounds while sleeping
  • Having frequent daytime fatigue
  • Waking up unrefreshed
  • Falling asleep during daytime tasks
  • Experiencing morning headaches
  • Tossing and turning during sleep
  • Having mood swings
  • Difficulty concentration during the day
  • Urinating frequently during the night

People with central sleep apnea may have similar signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. These may include snoring loudly, restless sleep, trouble concentrating, daytime sleepiness, and weight loss. Other symptoms are lower oxygen levels and decreased breathing. 

Treatment may involve the use of an oral appliance, other airway pressure devices, weight loss, and exercise for the upper airway muscles. Emergent central sleep apnea can cause atrial fibrillation and metabolic syndrome, which can increase the risk for other sleep disorders.

When to See a Doctor

People with sleep apnea may experience symptoms such as daytime sleepiness or not feeling rested in the morning. Sleep specialists can diagnose sleep apnea with a sleep study. This test monitors brain signals and records changes in heart rate and breathing. Sleep apnea can be mild, moderate, or severe. Treatments can include continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) and other therapies. Prompt treatment can help prevent complications.

The Digestive Theory Of Aging Part 2

The Digestive Theory Of Aging Part 2

When organs get older, they usually don’t work as well as they did when they were younger. We don’t run as fast at age 47 as we did at 27; our vision and hearing are usually less acute in our 70s than in our 30s. Our skin is less elastic at 53 than at 23. Why should our stomachs be any different? Why should stomachs become more active with age, rather than less? As Mr. Spock would say, “That’s illogical!”

What do stomachs do? While digesting breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, the stomach makes an extremely powerful acid, hydrochloric acid. The stomach also makes pepsin, a protein-digesting enzyme, and a factor (originally termed “intrinsic factor”) that combines with vitamin B12 and is necessary for B12 absorption. The hydrochloric acid that healthy stomachs make is one million times stronger than the mild acidity of blood or saliva. A tough, stringy piece of meat becomes meat soup after digestion in the stomach. That’s normal!

After 30, 40 or more years of digesting or attempting to digest everything we put in our stomachs – not just food, which the stomach is designed to handle, but also refined sugar, caffeine, distilled alcohol, grease and oxidized oils, fluoride and chlorine from water, chemical flavorings and colorings, pesticides, herbicides – you get the idea, no? – why would anyone except an antacid salesman or the average gastroenterologist imagine that our stomachs would make more acid, more pepsin, and digest things more efficiently as we get older? Common sense says that after 30 or 40 years, the stomach slows down, just like the rest of us, and makes less acid, less pepsin, and digests things less efficiently.

We’ll pause here to point out that the “overacidity” theory of peptic ulcers has been rather thoroughly debunked. Thanks to Dr. Barry Marshall, we now know that “the helicobacter(s) (i.e., Helicobacter pylori bacteria) did it.” Let’s also note here that there is an extremely rare syndrome named after Drs. Zollinger and Ellison, which indeed features abundant hyperacidity at any age, but again, it’s extremely rare.

So when you get past 35, 40, 45, and start to develop indigestion, it’s highly likely that the indigestion is due to a weaker stomach, not a stronger one, a stomach making less acid, less pepsin. The very word “indigestion” implies lack of digestion, not overdigestion. Why in the world would we want to take “antacids” or “acid blockers,” when our stomachs are weak and not digesting adequately already?

The answer’s in two words: symptom relief. We know that if we have “heartburn,” unthinkingly attributed to “overacidity,” taking an “antacid” or “acid blocker” relieves symptoms. So why isn’t that the right thing to do?

Let’s try an analogy. If we get a headache, we take an aspirin. The headache disappears. Does that mean the headache was due to a lack of aspirin? Of course not! In the tradition of Western allopathic medicine, we’ve taken away only the symptoms. We’ve just covered up the problem; we haven’t discovered what the cause actually is.

Think for a moment: if you’ve ever seen a doctor about “heartburn” and indigestion (or know someone who has), did you actually have a test to determine that your stomach was making too much acid? Ninety-nine percent of the time, the answer is “no.” Perhaps an X-ray or even gastroscopy to check for an ulcer, but a test for over- or underacidity is rare.

Since 1976, I’ve checked literally thousands of individuals complaining of “heartburn” and indigestion for stomach acid production using a commercially available, extremely precise, research-verified procedure. Overacidity is almost never found, especially in those over age 35. The usual findings are underacidity (from “just a little under” to no acid at all) or normal acidity, in which case the indigestion symptoms are caused by something else. The majority have underacidity (as might be expected in a no-longer-young stomach) and I advise them to take capsules containing hydrochloric acid and pepsin with each meal. The supplemental hydrochloric acid and pepsin not only relieve the symptoms but actually improve digestion. (A good parallel is hormone replacement when our hormone levels drop, another common happening when we’re somewhat older.)

The Digestive Theory Of Aging Part 2

So why do we have a burning sensation, sometimes severe, along with indigestion, if our stomach acid is low? And why should underacidity symptoms be relieved by “antacids” or “acid blockers,” which presumably would worsen a condition of underacidity?

Would you believe that in 1997 there’s no research being done to answer this question? (If anyone out there has research grant funds available, I would be happy to determine the answer!) The most recent research I’ve been able to locate was done in 1887 or 1898. That’s right, 100 years ago. At that time a doctor trying to answer the same question put a tube into the stomachs of heartburn sufferers, sucked out the contents, and found very little or no hydrochloric acid, acetic acid, butyric acid. He pointed out that these small amounts of acid don’t digest anything, but, he guessed, they could cause pain. Of course, antacids would neutralize them.

This might explain why antacids relieve symptoms, but it still doesn’t explain why acid blockers, like Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid, Prilosec, and their clones, which can prevent hydrochloric acid secretion entirely, would do the same thing. I’ll admit that I don’t have a clue either (although that research grant would help).

I can say that in 24 years of nutritionally oriented practice, I’ve worked with thousands of individuals who’ve found the cause of their “heartburn” and indigestion to be low stomach acidity. In nearly all of these folks, symptoms have been relieved and digestion improved when they’ve taken supplemental hydrochloric acid and pepsin capsules, available in every natural food store. (Certainly it would be preferable that our stomach production of hydrochloric acid and pepsin be restored on its own, but a reliable way to do this hasn’t been found.)

And that takes us to the above-noted acid-blocking drugs on the market. By remarkable coincidence, shortly after their patents expired, they must have become much safer, since the requirement for a prescription disappeared. Multimillion dollar promotions to the public were launched to drive home the point that “heartburn” and indigestion are caused by too much acid, which can be “blocked” (with these products, of course) at minimal risk. (Oddly enough, the FDA has never required the companies advertising these products to document their claims that indigestion and “heartburn” are actually caused by overacidity.)

In case you missed last month’s column, let’s briefly review: without adequate hydrochloric acid to activate pepsin, protein can’t digest properly, and any of up to eight essential amino acids may become deficient. It’s been my clinical observation that calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, chromium, selenium, manganese, vanadium, molybdenum, cobalt, and many other “micro-trace” elements are not nearly as well absorbed by individuals taking “acid-blocking” drugs. A small amount of research shows that vitamin B12 absorption is decreased by Tagamet, and there’s every reason to expect the other “acid blockers” do the same. Folic acid doesn’t absorb well when stomach acid is low. When any one or any combination of these nutrients is reduced, enzyme systems, cells, tissues, and organs can’t repair themselves. In other words, the more we take Zantac, Pepcid, Tagamet, or even Tums or Rolaids, the more we accelerate our aging!

So, if you develop indigestion or “heartburn,” don’t be fooled by the myth of “acid indigestion.” Find out what the problem really is, and correct it. You’ll be helping to slow, not accelerate, the aging process.

More to read: Bioidentical Testosterone: The best male anti-aging tool the experts don’t want you to have

Macular Degeneration Testimonials

Macular Degeneration Testimonials

“I am delighted to provide a testimonial about…my experiences with you that I consider to be miracles. I had a dark spot in the center of my vision that was partially blocking my ability to see, and…read the road signs. I consulted with two eye doctors, and then two eye specialists, and after extensive testing they told me that I had macular degeneration and there wasn’t anything that could be done about it, with the probability that it would just be getting worse. I then consulted with you within weeks of this diagnosis, and I appreciated very much that you spent two hours with me in that initial visit investigating all the possible solutions.

Within a month after starting the IV treatments my eyes returned to normal and I no longer had the vision blockage….

When I went back to my eye doctor, after a best laser eye surgery he stated that there was mo trace left of the macular degeneration, and my vision that had previously been correctable to 20/50 was now 20/20. He stated that some things are unexplainable and he had not seen this happen before. I have not had any return of the macular degeneration.”
—– J Phillips

“…regarding the recent treatment for by blindness (macular degeneration), I am enclosing the following. While taking the intravenous injections, I noticed some improvement in each eye…by the 13th injection I noticed improvements in various areas. The map in my right eye was less dense and my left eye was improved. My peripheral vision was not only improved in my right eye, I had none before. In fact, my entire peripheral was improved. I could see higher and lower. Color was visible from both eyes and I could see red and black. They were brighter and clearer.”
——S Dodd

Macular Degeneration Testimonials

“….Knowing the cataracts could be surgically removed to improve my sight was not a big problem but the macular degeneration sounded like a sentence to blindness. I decided to take the IV treatments as I felt I had nothing to lose. By the ninth treatment, I felt that I could see better, objects were clearer and colors more brilliant. I found that when going from a dark room to a lighted one or walking into a dark room and turning on the light, my eyes adjusted to the light much more quickly than before. Television was easier as they were not as strong. As an added bonus, I noticed that my hearing had improved some, I had to turn the TV volume down several notches as the volume setting I had been using was generally too loud. I feel that the treatments have been very beneficial and worth the time and effort.”
—G Gray

Evelyn…A Tahoma Clinic Success Story
Overcoming macular degeneration with “…no drugs, no surgery…”
At Tahoma Clinic, approximately 70% of those treated for macular degeneration experience a significant improvement in their vision—and some even have their progressive loss of vision stopped altogether. From time to time, we receive a letter or an e-mail describing an individual’s improvement.

The following e-mail, detailing one of Tahoma Clinic’s success stories, was sent by the husband of a Tahoma Clinic patient to their friends, and we were kindly given permission to post it here for you.
Evelyn’s macular degeneration cleared up in two months. She sees perfectly with the exception of light color, numbers, or letters. Tahoma Clinic does not guarantee a cure for macular degeneration, but, as was the result with Evelyn, in many cases has success and even reverses it. The clinic suggests several natural pills to be taken every day to maintain her sight. But it is definitely worth it.
People from all over the world go to the clinic to get help for various problems. Jonathan Wright, M.D. has been doing this for 39 years using Natural Medicine. This is the key to Evelyn’s success, no drugs, no surgery. Wright travels worldwide to help doctors be informed of the amazing results for many problems he and his staff have achieved.

We recommend calling Tahoma Clinic. They are very nice people that care about each patient. They will be able to look up your condition and see if they have the research completed to help you. They will explain the options that can be taken to stop or reverse the problem. Believe it or not we were shocked to find out that many body problems initiate from the stomach.

More to read: HCG: Spinal Cord and Neuronal Regeneration

The Digestive Theory Of Aging Part 1

The Digestive Theory Of Aging Part 1

No matter how much “antiaging” therapy we do, we may only be able to slow aging down, not stop it. After all, we need to get on to our next lifetimes someday, so that future regression therapists can tell us where we’ve been, don’t we?

But as long as we’re here in this lifetime, why not take full advantage of it, stay healthy, “age gracefully,” and perhaps outlive Victor Herbert, David Kessler, and all the other folks who know everything there is to know about staying well with drugs, chemotherapy, and radiation?


In our antiaging efforts, we’ve been guided by the “free radical” theory of aging, which tells us that the accumulation of “oxidative damage” is responsible for much aging, particularly the premature kind. This theory advises us to take “antioxidants” to slow the aging process, much like putting antifreeze in our cars to keep their engines from bursting in the wintertime. (Of course, the whole idea of “antioxidants” has been an absolute boon to university and other establishment types, who can now do research and tell us to take our vitamins without actually calling them vitamins, thus avoiding sounding like Adele Davis, J.I. Rodale or one of those other “health food nuts.”)


Then there’s the “endocrine theory” of aging which American mainstream medicine has put to use in a rather perverse but patentable way by replacing failing human hormones with horse hormones (Premarin®) or other dangerous molecules never before found on this planet or in human bodies (e.g., Provera,® methyltestosterone). We can be somewhat thankful that pharmaceutical company ingenuity and drive for profit has recently produced an improvement on this approach with genetically engineered, recombinant and process-patentable human growth hormone (hGH), which not only shows some signs of being useful and not too harmful in the battle to slow aging but also maintains the usual and customary drug-company profit margins.


The proliferation of over-the-counter and even vending-machine versions of Zantac,® Pepcid,® and other patent-expired “acid-blockers” has prompted this brief note to remind us all of yet another theory of aging, the “digestive failure” theory.

It’s long been noted that grandpas and grandmas have considerably more indigestion than younger folks, but their indigestion generally has been ascribed to “being older.” Not much thought has been given to the possibility that the “being older” could (at least in part) be due to the indigestion!

Let’s give it a little thought. If we have bodies made up of some 60 or so essential nutrients (essential being defined as nutrients without which we sooner or later would drop dead), then how healthy are we going to be if even one of those essential nutrients isn’t getting through very well? Like engines running on a lean fuel mixture, our cells are going to misfire, sputter, and ultimately choke. And what if a dozen or more nutrients are in short supply? How are our bodies, particularly older bodies, going to keep themselves in good repair? Like older houses, older bodies require more parts and maintenance, not less. It just makes sense that, if we’re not digesting and assimilating properly, not supplying all the cells of our bodies with a full complement of essential nutrients, we’re going to age and fall apart more rapidly.

A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association tells us that “only” 10% of “healthy” older folks have inadequate levels of stomach acid production. (Apparently, that doesn’t include all those older folks gulping down over-the-counter and vending machine Zantacs and Pepcids, persuaded of their virtues by the barrage of newly-unleashed-by-FDA direct-to-the-public TV, radio, and print advertising.) Back in the 1930s, studies by the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins on several thousand older folks told us that by age 60 nearly half of us had functionally low stomach acid. After some 27 years of nutritionally oriented medical practice, I’m more inclined to agree with the researchers at Mayo and Hopkins, especially since I’m working mostly with folks who don’t consider themselves healthy. Moreover, this problem is not limited to older people.

The Digestive Theory Of Aging Part 1


Hydrochloric acid (HCl) supplements with and without pepsin were widely prescribed in the 1800s and the first half of this century. Using medical judgment and common sense, physicians reasoned that replacement of such a powerful digestive secretion was the only logical thing to do if the function of the stomach could not be revived on its own, as is often the case with increasing age. HCl and pepsin replacement therapy for “failed stomachs” is exactly parallel to hormone replacement therapy for “failed ovaries.” Unfortunately, poorly designed and widely misinterpreted research starting in the 1950s has convinced most medical practitioners of today that HCl and pepsin replacement therapy is not necessary. Encouraged by the legal drug industry, medical students are not taught that hypochlorhydria (inadequate stomach acid production) is treatable only with unpatentable natural replacement therapies. Instead, their education concentrates on hyperchlorhydria (excess stomach acid production) and its treatment with patentable “acid blocker” drugs and highly profitable over-the-counter antacids.

Although research in this area is entirely inadequate, it’s been my clinical observation that calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, chromium, selenium, manganese, vanadium, molybdenum, cobalt, and many other “micro-trace” elements are not nearly as well-absorbed in those with poor stomach acid as it is in those whose acid levels are normal. When we test plasma amino acid levels for those with poor stomach function, we frequently find lower than usual levels of one or more of the eight essential amino acids: isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. Often there are functional insufficiencies of folic acid and/or vitamin B12.

Count the number of essential nutrients named above: 21! Although no one with a poorly functioning stomach is deficient in all of them, and no two people have the exact pattern of insufficiencies, even if “only” 10% of “healthy” older adults have this problem, that’s a large number of folks who aren’t nourishing their cells very well. Of course they’re going to age prematurely!

And having “low stomach acid” or falling for those Zantac and Pepcid commercials isn’t the only way to impair our digestive processes. A lot of us don’t have sufficient pancreatic digestive enzymes. The pancreatic enzymes trypsin and chymotrypsin complete the digestion of protein started by the stomach’s enzyme pepsin. As its name implies, lipase digests fats and aids in the assimilation of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, and the essential fatty acids. Pancreatic amylase is necessary for carbohydrate digestion. And remember all those important “anti-aging” phytonutrients, flavonoids, carotenoids, mucopolysaccharides, and so on? They don’t just leap out of our food into our bloodstreams, they must be digested out.

Many of us have inadequate bile flow (that’s the real bile, not the mental thing) due to impaired liver function or having our gallbladders carved out because the surgeon didn’t tell us that avoiding allergies will do the job just as well. Bile is another important digestive secretion, necessary to “emulsify” fats, oils, fat-soluble vitamins and other dietary components before they can be assimilated.

Then there’s allergy-induced malabsorption, lectin incompatibility, and that favorite medical category “idiopathic,” which means, “it’s happening (or not happening), but we don’t know why.”

And in a related matter: What about those germs so delicately termed “intestinal microflora?” These “normal” or “friendly” bacteria are responsible for some of the digestive processes, and play a vital role in production of a major proportion of the essential nutrients, vitamin K, folic acid, biotin and vitamin B12 that our bodies depend on. Since the early 1940s, the entire population of the United States (not to mention most of the rest of the world) has been so thoroughly dosed with antibiotics that our intestinal microflora in many cases isn’t even close to normal.


So while we’re slowing the aging process by swallowing our vitamins, minerals, and botanicals (oops, I meant antioxidants), and taking our replacement hormones (the natural or identical-to-natural versions, of course), let’s not forget to detect and correct any failures in our digestive and absorptive processes, or the digestive failure theory of aging may catch up with us while we’re preoccupied elsewhere and send us on to that next lifetime before we are really ready to be there!

More to read: The Digestive Theory Of Aging Part 2

Don’t Go Deaf, Blind or Lose Your Mind! by Jonathan V. Wright, MD

Don’t Go Deaf, Blind or Lose Your Mind! by Jonathan V. Wright, MD

“Eh? What’s that you say? Louder, please. No, don’t bother writing it down, can’t see very well, either! Oh, never mind…I probably won’t remember it, anyway!”

If you chuckled when you read that, it’s probably because it sounds familiar—whether it’s something you remember your parents or grandparents saying, or whether you’ve uttered similar things yourself. And while it sounds funny on the surface, the unfortunate truth underlying phrases like these is that varying degrees of failing hearing, vision, and mental function are still considered to be “normal” with advancing age.

But they need not be “normal” for you! You’ve read before in Nutrition & Healing about prevention and treatment of “age-related” hearing, vision, and cognitive function problems. This time, we’ll review them all in one place, while you—and I—can still remember to how to lower your chances of going deaf, blind, or losing your mind!

The hormone deficiency that could be destroying your hearing

Dennis Trune, Ph.D., of Oregon Health Sciences University, pioneered the research showing that the naturally occurring adrenal steroid hormone aldosterone can often reverse hearing loss in animals..

Based on Dr. Trune’s work, I’ve had aldosterone levels tested in many individuals with hearing loss (most of them “older”), and a significant number turned out to have low or “low normal” measurements. But after taking bio-identical aldosterone in “physiologic” quantities—amounts that would normally be present in adult human bodies—more than half of these individuals have regained a significant proportion of their “lost” hearing.

I’ve been surprised by two aspects of bio-identical aldosterone treatment for hearing loss. First, when it works, it works relatively rapidly, restoring a significant degree of hearing within the first two months. In fact, a few of the people I’ve worked with have literally heard improvement within just two to three weeks.

The other thing that surprised me about aldosterone therapy is that it’s capable of restoring a significant degree of hearing even years after the hearing loss initially occurred. So far, the longest interval I’ve witnessed was in an 87-year-old man who’d lost his hearing 13 years prior to regaining a significant degree of it using aldosterone.

None of the people I’ve worked with have had any adverse effects from aldosterone therapy, likely because the use of bio-identical, physiologic-dose aldosterone restores levels to those that would be found in the body anyway.

I’ve focused this treatment on individuals with hearing loss and low or low-normal aldosterone levels, but I do know of one individual—an M.D.—who decided to try this approach for his hearing loss even though his aldosterone levels were quite normal. His hearing did improve, but unless you too are an M.D., D.O., or N.D. who can prescribe bio-identical aldosterone and order lab tests for sodium and potassium (sodium and potassium regulation are two of aldosterone’s major responsibilities), please don’t take aldosterone, bio-identical or not, if your measured levels are perfectly normal! (For further details about the research behind this treatment and safety details, see Nutrition & Healing for May 2006.)

See also: Lithium – The Misunderstood Mineral

Don’t Go Deaf, Blind or Lose Your Mind! by Jonathan V. Wright, MD

Beat the top 3 causes of blindness—without patent medicines or surgery

Glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts are three very common causes of vision loss—if they’re left untreated, that is.

But many cases of these three sight-stealing conditions can be treated by natural means, often avoiding patent medicines and/or surgery entirely. Even better, it’s also possible to significantly reduce your risk of developing any of these problems in the first place.

The vision-robbing disease that’s actually a symptom in many cases

Let’s start with glaucoma. This condition occurs when the pressure inside the eyeball (intra-ocular pressure) rises. If the intra-ocular pressure rises high enough, it can cause blindness. Conventional treatment of glaucoma uses either patent medications (generally called miotics) or surgery to relieve the excess pressure.

But in 1937, Emanuel Josephson, M.D., an ophthalmologist in New York City, published a book titled Glaucoma and its Medical Treatment with Cortin. In it, Dr. Josephson reported many cases of individuals whose glaucoma and high intra-ocular pressure improved after treatment with a substance called cortin. Cortin was the 1930s name for entirely natural, injectable extracts from animal adrenal cortex—the part of the adrenal glands which make cortisol, cortisone, DHEA, aldosterone, and all other natural adrenal steroid molecules in natural balance with each other. (Later on, Cortin was renamed Adrenal Cortical Extract, or ACE.)

Some of the improvements Dr. Josephson related were quite dramatic, with the patients’ intra-ocular pressure dropping over 20 points to within the normal range. Dr. Josephson carefully explained that Cortin produced such impressive results because many cases of glaucoma don’t actually originate in the eye, but instead manifest in the eye as a symptom of weak adrenal glands. In other words, Dr. Josephson discovered that, in many cases, glaucoma is a symptom, not an “independent disease.”

Injections of Cortin (which was literally “hormone replacement therapy” for weak adrenal glands) would allow the eyes—which apparently depend on normal adrenal function—to normalize themselves in many cases. In fact, Cortin even helped alleviate high intra-ocular pressure in people who hadn’t responded to miotics or surgery.

At the time Dr. Josephson was using it in his patients, Cortin was sold by major patent medication companies, including Parke-Davis. While they couldn’t patent the extracts themselves (since they were 100 percent natural) patent medicine companies could patent—and make enormous profits from—the extraction process.

Unfortunately, though, in the late 1940s and early 1950s, patent medicine companies discovered ways to make totally unnatural but very powerful and patentable (and therefore much more profitable) versions of cortisone and cortisol. Even though these space-alien versions have an incredible list of adverse effects when used in human bodies—including diabetes, osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cataracts, and stomach ulcers—the patent medicine industry was so successful in blurring the lines between them and bio-identical cortisone and cortisol (which never have these sorts of adverse effects when used in “physiologic” quantities) that they’ve become the go-to choice for most mainstream physicians. A more recent example of this type of “blurring the lines” is the inability of the FDA, conventional medicine, and patent medicine companies to distinguish between Premarin and other patentable pseudo-estrogens and bio-identical estrogens. And just like the current situation with bio-identical HRT, los Federales used this line-blurring to outlaw Cortin/ACE in the 1970s.

They claimed that it should be banned because, unlike the synthetic version, ACE was “unapproved,” and therefore potentially “dangerous”—even though it had been sold and in use for decades with no reported side effects. In an accompanying illogical leap of FDA “logic,” after terming ACE “dangerous,” they also stated it was “ineffective.”

But I personally witnessed its tremendous success in normalizing glaucoma. Several individuals had decreases in intra-ocular pressure from well above 20 (normal is under 20) to below 20 following a series of intravenous injections of ACE. (All intra-ocular pressure measurements were done by ophthalmologists, not me.) Many other physicians practicing natural medicine had seen similar results and we all protested to the FDA. Unfortunately, the public didn’t get involved, and side-effect-free ACE remains illegal today.

However, individuals with glaucoma can still improve and even normalize their intra-ocular pressure by using more general techniques to improve their adrenal function. The very best place to start is with your diet, eliminating all refined sugar and refined carbs and making sure to get adequate amounts of salt.

There are also a number of supplements that can help boost adrenal function, including the sodium ascorbate form of vitamin C, pantothenic acid, chromium, vitamins A and E, and ginseng. Another relatively subtle but powerful technique for strengthening weak adrenal glands is “cell therapy” using fetal animal adrenal cells with other related fetal endocrine cells. Next month, you’ll read a brief note about cell therapy, and much more can be found in the March 2005 issue of Nutrition & Healing. For even more information on strengthening weak adrenal glands, check your local library for the book Adrenal Fatigue by James Wilson, N.D., Ph.D.

As you’ve likely guessed, adrenal-strengthening treatment is most likely to be successful in treating glaucoma in people who have weak adrenal function. The 24-hour urine test for natural steroids and other hormones can help you and your physician make an “official” diagnosis, but symptoms of weak adrenal function include lower-than-average blood pressure (especially if the “top”—systolic—number is consistently below 110), dizzy spells when standing up rapidly, and being easily tired out. Being underweight for your particular height and difficulty gaining weight are also common with weak adrenal function, but are not always present.

If you have any or all of these symptoms, check with a physician skilled and knowledgeable in natural and nutritional medicine, as well as bio-identical hormone replacement.

If weak adrenals aren’t at the root of your glaucoma, there are still a few other nutritional and natural therapies that may be able to help reverse it. Eliminating any food allergies you might have is a good first step. Research has also shown that daily use of fish oil (I recommend 1 tablespoonful daily) and high quantities of vitamin C (10 to 35 grams daily, split into three to four doses) can help reduce high intra-ocular pressure. Thyroid hormone also lowers intra-ocular pressure in some cases.

And both magnesium (250 milligrams daily) and standardized extracts of ginkgo biloba (40 milligrams three times daily) have been found to improve visual field defects for individuals with glaucoma.

The macular degeneration treatment that starts in your stomach

Just as Dr. Josephson found that many cases of glaucoma don’t originate in the eye, but elsewhere in the body, in the 1980s I discovered that many—if not most—cases of “dry” macular degeneration are “symptoms” of digestive malfunction, specifically poor digestion and assimilation of nutrients. So if you’re starting to have vision problems, I encourage you to have your digestive function tested. If it’s not operating up to par, correcting it (naturally, of course) will go a long way in helping you get the most from the nutrients that have vision-improving potential.

The most useful of those nutrients are lutein and zeaxanthin, which are found in highest concentrations in spinach, collard greens, and other deep green leafy vegetables. Other important nutrients include zinc (found in oysters, fish and other animal protein), selenium (two to four Brazil nuts a day are an excellent source), riboflavin (which comes from brewer’s yeast, almonds, mushrooms, wheat bran, and dark green leafy vegetables), taurine (found in organ meats, fish, and other animal protein), and quercitin (good sources include onions, apples, kale, cherries, grapes, red cabbage, and green beans are all good sources). Bilberry and ginkgo are the best vision-supporting herbs.

I encourage anyone with macular degeneration to consider using Ocudyne II capsules (formulated by my colleague Alan R. Gaby M.D. and me), which contain all the nutrients noted above.

For much more information about preventing and treating macular degeneration, refer back to the February 2005 issue of Nutrition & Healing.

Clearing up cataracts, naturally

I wrote about an effective, well-researched cataract treatment three months ago (in the July 2008 issue), so I’ll refer you there for the complete discussion of N-acetylcarnosine eyedrops.

Another option for treating cataracts is a combination of Chinese botanicals called “Hachimi-jio-gan,” or Ba-wei-wan. This treatment has been used for centuries in China to treat cataracts, and even has a bit of clinical evidence to support it. In a human study of early cataracts conducted in Japan, Hachimi-jio-gan was associated with lessening of cataracts in 60 percent of the volunteers. In the USA, Hachimi-jio-gan is available as a (much easier to pronounce) formula called Clinical Nutrients for the Eyes, which is available from natural food stores, compounding pharmacies, and the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary.

Rounding out the natural treatment options for cataracts is a single, simple nutrient: vitamin A. Decades ago, an honest ophthalmologist with a sense of humor wrote a letter-to-the-Editor of a medical journal “complaining” that his income from cataract surgery had gone down by over 2/3 since he started recommending vitamin A to all his patients with any degree of cataract at all. I recommend 30,000 IU of vitamin A (not beta-carotene) for anyone who wants to prevent or treat cataracts. In fact, the only people who shouldn’t use this amount are very small children (who don’t get cataracts anyway) and pregnant women.

And while we’re on the topic of cataract prevention, one of the most important things you can do is to eliminate all sources of sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet! Researchers have found that part of the cause of cataracts is the lens of the eye trying to “help” the body lower high blood sugar by “packing it away” within the lens, which gradually obscures the vision, which explains why individuals with type 2 diabetes have a much greater incidence of cataracts than people with normal blood sugar levels. So even though not eating sugar and refined carbohydrates is better for everyone’s health, it’s especially important for cataract prevention if you have diabetes—type 2 or type 1—in your family. Eliminating all sources of the milk sugar lactose (milk, ice cream, cottage cheese, and many soft cheeses) will reduce your risk of cataract, too.

Don’t Go Deaf, Blind or Lose Your Mind! by Jonathan V. Wright, MD

In addition to eliminating refined sugar and carbohydrates, you may also want to consider incorporating some cataract-preventing nutrients (other than just vitamin A) into your daily supplement regimen. Riboflavin, vitamin C, quercitin, zinc, and carotenoids have all been associated with cataract risk reduction. And one study found that people with higher serum vitamin E levels had 50 percent less risk of developing cataracts than people with lower levels. (When you’re supplementing with vitamin E, remember to use mixed tocopherols, not just alpha-tocopherol.)

As a side note, patent-medicine “cortisone” preparations that are prescribed to suppress symptoms of asthma, severe allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, and other more severe inflammatory conditions always increase cataract risk. So if you’re using prescription patent-medicine “cortisone,” check with a physician skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural medicine for effective alternatives.

Your guide for beating cognitive decline (a.k.a “keeping your marbles”)

According to health authorities, Alzheimer’s disease is slated to become the next epidemic. In fact, current estimates state that nearly half of people over the age of 85 have Alzheimer’s, whether it’s obvious or not. There are non-Alzheimer’s forms of dementia, too, most notably “multi-infarct” dementia, which is thought to be caused by a series of small strokes, and mild cognitive decline, which likely has many causes that have yet to be identified.

The best way to combat any and all of these cognitive problems is to prevent them from occurring in the first place. You keep reading about it over and over again, but an excellent diet is truly the most important aspect of preventing most—if not all—health problems, including cognitive decline. In fact, more and more research is being reported linking blood sugar problems (such as diabetes) and potential blood sugar problems (such as metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance) with a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease. So here we go again: Eliminate the sugar and refined carbohydrates! Make sure to eat several non-starchy vegetables and a wide array of colorful vegetables every day, too. (You want a varied palette on your plate because each color signals a different and necessary-to-good-health group of nutrients.)

It’s also a good idea to “eat organic” as much as possible, since organically raised foods have significantly more minerals and vitamins than “commercially” grown varieties, not to mention a much lower risk of being contaminated with pesticides, herbicides, and miscellaneous non-food chemical additives.

When you can, I encourage you to even go beyond organic produce and also opt for organic, free-range meat and poultry as well. The essential fatty acid ratio in free-range protein is anti-inflammatory, while the essential fatty acid ratio found in grain-fed animal protein actually promotes inflammation, and inflammation is also being implicated more and more as raising the risk of Alzheimer’s and other cognitive malfunction.

Along these same lines, one of the best “brain foods” you can eat is fish. (Low-mercury fish, that is.) Not only are the omega-3 fatty acids in fish anti-inflammatory, but they’re also essential components of the membranes of every brain cell we have. And since our bodies can’t make them on their own, it’s critical to get enough omega-3s and other essential fatty acids from supplements (like cod liver oil) and foods (like free-range meat and fish).

Phospholipids are another key component of brain cells. While our bodies can make them, as with many other things (co-enzyme Q10 and glutathione are two prominent examples) our bodies make less and less with age. Eggs—specifically the yolks—are excellent sources of phospholipids, as is the lecithin found in soy. Supplemental lecithin—another good source of phospholipids—is available in any natural food store and is an excellent idea for anyone over 40.

Boost your brain—and your sex life

I can’t tell you how many men I’ve seen at the Tahoma Clinic who have the idea that testosterone is mostly for sexual function. I always let them know that its most important job is maintaining cognitive function. The sex part is important, no doubt, but who cares about sex if you can’t remember who you’re with or what you’re doing with her?

Unfortunately, thanks to this misunderstanding word hasn’t gotten around that—just like estrogen replacement for women—bio-identical testosterone replacement for men is extremely important for significantly reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline. Since we’ve covered this subject before (see the March 2004 and March 2006 issues of Nutrition & Healing ) I’ll just mention a few of the highlights:

• Higher serum estrogen levels in women in their 60s are directly correlated with lower incidence of Alzheimer’s in those same women decades later. (And the reverse is true too: Lower estrogens equal higher incidence of Alzheimer’s in later years.)
• The 15-year Princeton men’s study determined that men who had higher serum free testosterone in 1983 had less risk of Alzheimer’s disease in 1998. (Once again, the reverse was also true: Lower serum free testosterone corresponded with higher risk of Alzheimer’s.)
• Researchers observing neurons found substantially less accumulation of beta-amyloid, neurofibrillary tangle, tau protein, and other “neuronal garbage” associated with Alzheimer’s when those neurons were exposed to “physiologic quantities” of either estrogen or testosterone (depending on whether the neuron was from a woman or a man).
• In numerous controlled experiments, elderly men without Alzheimer’s disease do better on tests of cognitive function when given testosterone than men given placebo.
• Testosterone for men and estrogen (that’s real, bio-identical estrogen—not horse estrogen) for women is very protective for the entire cardiovascular system, including the blood supply to the brain. (Remember that cognitive decline due to repeated small strokes?)

The bottom line is, if you want to “keep your marbles” for as long as you live, consider bio-identical hormone replacement when it’s appropriate for you. Just make sure to be working with a physician who is skilled and knowledgeable in all aspects of this therapy. If you’re not sure if your doctor is, one way to find out is to ask the physician’s office whether they do routine monitoring of therapy with the 24-hour urine steroid determination. This test is the very best way to check not only the levels of the bio-identical hormones being replaced but also their metabolization (the natural transformation of the starting hormones into pro- and anti-carcinogenic metabolites). Blood and/or saliva testing just doesn’t cut it when it comes to bio-identical HRT. See Nutrition & Healing for December 2007 for a much more detailed discussion of safety monitoring for bio-identical hormone replacement (and, rest assured, if safety monitoring does indicate that there’s an imbalance in the “wrong” direction, it’s almost always correctable with nutrients or botanicals).

Small dose, big protection

I’ve written about lithium’s brain-protecting benefits before too (see Nutrition & Healing for August 2003 and April 2008), and this is getting a bit long (sorry about that) so I’ll be brief: No matter what neurotoxin your brain is exposed to, lithium protects against it.

Not only that, but lithium actually promotes the growth of new brain cells, even in individuals past age 50. So far, no other nutrient has been found to do that.

Yes, high-dose prescription lithium can be toxic, but low quantities like the ones used for boosting cognitive function and protecting brain cells (20 milligrams daily and under) are not associated with toxicity. In over 30 years, I’ve only encountered two or three individuals who reported a possible reaction to low-dose lithium: These people thought that it might have given them a slight tremor (which went away when the lithium was discontinued). But on the flip side of that same coin, I’ve also encountered dozens of individuals who reported improvement in benign tremors with the use of low dose lithium.

Even though risk of toxicity from low-dose lithium is very small, I always recommend you work with a physician skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural medicine if you decide to supplement with lithium. And to be on the extra-cautious side, I always recommend using supplemental essential fatty acids when using even low-quantity lithium supplements. Essential fatty acids are the primary treatment for toxicity caused by high-dose prescription lithium, so using them in conjunction with low-dose treatment helps avoid that possibility altogether.

Spicing up your brain-boosting regimen

There are many, many more supplemental items that can help you maintain cognitive function, but we’re quickly running out of space, so I’ll just mention two more: curcumin and ginkgo.

Although no one is entirely sure how it works, the research on curcumin’s ability to protect against Alzheimer’s (as well as its many other beneficial effects) has been more than a little exciting. Areas of the world in which the spice turmeric (which has a high concentration of curcumin) is routinely used have very little—if any—Alzheimer’s compared with areas that don’t. Perhaps the best aspect of curcumin is that you don’t need to take yet another pill to get its brain-boosting benefits. Just use turmeric in your cooking, perhaps an average of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoonful daily. (For those of us who just can’t stand the taste of turmeric, it is available in capsules, too. If you’re using it for long-term cognitive maintenance, consider taking two 200-milligram capsules a day.)

Ginkgo has been used for the brain for thousands of years, and (like lithium) has been found to be neuroprotective. Next month, we’ll have the latest information about ginkgo and cognitive function from Kerry Bone.

We all know that none of us will live forever, but there’s no reason not live as long as our “genetic programs” will allow, and keep all of our faculties while we’re here. If you can do all of the things outlined above (or at least come close), you’ll have a much better chance of living as long as your oldest known relative, getting to know your great-grandchildren, and hearing, seeing, enjoying, and remembering those years of life so much better!.

Measuring and monitoring your aldosterone if you have hearing loss.

Many labs use blood tests to measure aldosterone levels, but I definitely prefer measuring aldosterone as part of an over-all steroid analysis done from a 24-hour urine collection. This test measures all the aldosterone output in a 24-hour period; since aldosterone and other steroid hormones are secreted into the bloodstream in “pulses,” a blood test isn’t quite as accurate.

Also, the 24-hour urine collection measures the “hormone context” in which aldosterone is found, including measurements of cortisol, cortisone, and “downstream metabolites” of cortisol and cortisone. Putting these measurements together allows your physician to assess your adrenal strength and weakness.

The 24-hour urine test also measures pro-carcinogenic estrogens (estrone, estradiol, 16-alpha-hydroxyestrogens, 4-hydoxyestrogens) and anti-carcinogenic estrogens (estriol, 2-hydroxyestrogens, 2-methoxyestradiol, 2-methoxyestone), as well as progesterone, testosterone, and testosterone’s pro- and anti-carcinogenic metabolites DHT and androstanediol (“5-alpha” and “5-beta” forms of both). Thyroid hormones (“free T3” and “free T4”) and growth hormone (HGH) can be added to the test, too.

These measurements may seem unrelated, but all of these hormones interact with each other, so a physician skilled and knowledgeable in bio-identical hormone replacement can do a lot more for you if he or she has ALL of your hormonal information.

RDW: Another Marker for Gluten Sensitivity? with Cristina Persa, MD(RO), MS, ND

RDW: Another Marker for Gluten Sensitivity? with Cristina Persa, MD(RO), MS, ND

The red blood cell distribution width (RDW) is a measure of the variation of red blood cell (RBC) size that is reported as part of a standard complete blood count (CBC). Usually red blood cells are a standard size of about 6-8 μm. An elevated RDW (red blood cells of unequal sizes) is known as anisocytosis.

RDW is a sensitive marker of early nutritional deficiency (such as iron, B12 or folate deficiency) affecting red blood cell production and maturation and it becomes elevated earlier than the other red blood cell parameters changes.

Nutritional deficiencies are common in people with gluten sensitivities (with celiac disease being the most severe form) and they result in various clinical manifestations such as:

• Loss of appetite and weight loss, weakness, sore tongue, heart palpitations, irritability and behavioral disorders (in folate deficiency)

• Fatigue (B12 and iron deficiency), depression and poor memory (B12 deficiency)

• Shortness of breath, chronic recurrent infections, hair loss, irritability, restless leg syndrome, weakened nails, chapped lips, angular stomatitis (cracking in the corner of the lips), easy bruising, craving ice (in iron deficiency)

RDW: Another Marker for Gluten Sensitivity? with Cristina Persa, MD(RO), MS, ND

Gluten contributes to nutrient deficiencies in several ways. Nutrient malabsorption is often a consequence of villous atrophy (damage of the small intestinal mucosa). Additionally, gluten damages the stomach cells that are producing acid (which is required for iron absorption) as well as intrinsic factor (required for B12 absorption).

Previous Italian research studies (from 2002) have been shown that in patients in whom there is a strong clinical suspicion of gluten sensitivity (celiac disease), an elevated RDW despite normal hemoglobin concentration may be a reliable predictor of the disease. It was also reported that RDW can be used to monitor dietary compliance in celiac disease as RDW normalized in response to a gluten-free diet.

A more recent research study (from 2012) published in the Turkish Journal of Gastroenterology discussed how iron deficiency can be the first symptom associated with celiac disease. The published data led to the recommendation of ruling out gluten sensitivity in all patients with iron deficiency anemia. Additionally, it was recommended gluten sensitivity screening in all patients who persistently show low level of iron despite of taking iron supplements (refractory iron deficiency).

In conclusion, if you suffer from any of the above symptoms and have elevated RDW for unknown reasons, rule out gluten sensitivity.


1. Guglielmi V et al. RDW: new screening for coeliac disease? Minerva Med. 2002. Oct; 93(5):419-21
2. Sategna Guidetti et al. Red cell distribution width as a marker of coeliac disease: a prospective study. Eur J Gastroeneterol Hepatol. 2002. Feb; 14(2):177-81
3. Ayhan Hilimi Cekin et al. Celiac disease prevalence in patients with iron deficiency anemia. Turk J Gastroeneterol. 2012. 23(5): 490-495

Dr. Cristina Persa is a Washington State Board Certified Naturopathic Physician. She also earned her Medical Doctor degree from the prestigious University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Iuliu Hatieganu” in Cluj Napoca, Romania. Dr. Persa’s clinical interest is in adult primary care with a focus on prevention and management of chronic and autoimmune diseases, allergies and macular degeneration using evidence-based integrative therapies.

More to read: What REALLY Causes Heartburn?

breast cancer risk

You’re just 24 hours away from discovering-and reducing-your breast cancer risk

If you’re an average woman, your risk of breast cancer is one in eight. But why be “average”? You can significantly reduce your risk of breast, uterine, and other estrogen-related cancers right now with foods and selected supplements.

But first you have to determine just how at risk you are.

There are two methods I recommend for evaluating estrogen-related cancer risk. They both involve ratios of various estrogen metabolites. I’m talking about the 2/16 ratio test and the estrogen quotient, or EQ. Last month, we spent some time going over all the intricacies of just how these ratios work to add up your risk of breast and other estrogen-related cancers. This month, let’s move on and talk about what’s involved in taking these tests and what to do if your results aren’t as good as you’d like. And before all you men tune out, estrogen risk factor testing is important for you too! We’ll get to that a little later in the issue.

The good news is, testing your own risk couldn’t be easier. You don’t even have to leave home to do it.

What’s your EQ?

In the June issue, I told you about the importance of an estogen metabolite called estriol. The recent resurgence in estriol research is confirming the discoveries made in the mid-20th century: Estriol is a “good” estrogen. More estriol means less cancer risk. Estriol appears to block many of the effects of estradiol (E2), estrone (E1), and other “pro-carcinogenic” estrogens. So how do you find out if your body is producing enough estriol to protect you from cancer? You calculate your EQ.

Dr. Henry Lemon, the originator of the EQ test, tested estriol along with estrone and estradiol by having women collect their urine for 24-hours, then measuring the hormone levels in the specimens. It’s still done the same way, although some changes in the actual testing equipment have made the process a lot easier. In fact, the testing kits can be mailed to you at home, where you can collect your specimen and send it back to the lab.

Even though you’ll need to collect all your urine for a 24-hour period, only a small amount is actually mailed in for testing.

If you haven’t gone through menopause yet, and you have a menstrual cycle that follows the typical 28-day pattern, pick a 24-hour period between days 19 and 23 of your cycle (day 1 being the first day of menstrual bleeding) to collect your sample. If you’ve already gone through menopause, you can collect your sample anytime.

Once you send your sample back to the lab, it generally takes about two to three weeks to get your results.

breast cancer risk

The virtually fail-safe EQ-booster: You may only need one drop a day

When your results arrive in the mail, you’ll see all of your different hormone levels listed. The ones we’re most concerned with for determining breast cancer risk via the EQ are estriol, estrone, and estradiol. Remember, it’s not the absolute amount of estriol that appears to be the most important number but the relative amount of estriol compared with the sum of estradiol and estrone. In mathematical terms, it looks like this: EQ= E3 / (E2 + E1).

The lab report might already have your EQ calculated and listed. Some labs today consider EQs of 0.4 to 0.6 as normal. But when Dr. Lemon did his research back in the 1960s and 1970s, he found that women need an EQ of at least 1.0 (this level or above was considered favorable; the further below 1.0, the more unfavorable). So was Dr. Lemon wrong?

Well, let’s put it this way: If women only need an EQ of 0.4, why has breast cancer risk gone up? Not only do I think you still need an EQ of at least 1.0, as Dr. Lemon found 40 years ago, but in today’s environment, with the amount of estrogen-mimicking carcinogens increasing dramatically, it’s more important than ever to keep your level of estriol as high as possible. So I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t still follow Dr. Lemon and shoot for an EQ of 1.0 or above.

If your EQ is below 1.0, there’s a simple, almost fail-safe solution: SSKI. You might remember this remedy from the November 2002 issue of Nutrition & Healing. It has certainly proven itself as a natural cure-all, and its effects on the EQ just reinforce that reputation. In case you missed the full article on it, SSKI is a solution that combines iodine and potassium. It’s the iodine that works to boost the EQ: Iodide (and iodine) reliably promote the metabolism of estrone and estradiol into estriol. Although (so far) there haven’t been any official studies on this, I’ve observed these effects in hundreds of my patients’ lab tests.

Take six to eight drops of SSKI mixed in several ounces of water daily for two to three months. Then repeat your test, doing the 24-hour urine collection at the same time of the month as your first one. More likely than not, your follow-up EQ will be above 1.0-sometimes considerably above. If it is, try tapering down the SSKI to the smallest amount that helps you maintain your EQ at 1.0 or above. Some women find that they only need one drop a day, though others need more.

Although SSKI is safe for the overwhelming majority of people, there are individuals who are very sensitive to it. On rare occasion, long-term use of larger quantities of SSKI may cause thyroid suppression. Thyroid blood tests, which you can also do on your own (or with your doctor’s help), always pick up on this if it occurs. For more information on using SSKI safely, see the November 2002 issue (you can download it free on the Nutrition & Healing website,

The “random” urine test that could save your life

breast cancer risk

If you’ve been reading Nutrition & Healing for a few years, you probably remember seeing at least a few references to the 2/16 ratio test. According to nearly 20 years of research, 2-hydroxyestrogens are “good” while 16-hydroxyestrogens are “bad” and promote cancer growth.

Testing the 2/16 ratio can be done separately or along with the EQ. If you opt to have it done separately, you don’t need to collect 24 hours’ worth of urine-you’ll only need to send in one random specimen. But, like the EQ test, if you’re pre-menopausal, try to collect the urine specimen during days 19 to 23 of your 28-day cycle, and be sure to note the cycle day and time, in case you need to take a repeat test or two. When you’ve collected your sample, just mail it back to the lab.

Eat your way to a breast cancer-free future

You definitely want more “good” (2) estrogen than “bad” (16) estrogen-substantially more if possible. So when you get your results, check the proportion of these two substances: Any ratio below 1.0 is unfavorable. Although there’s no consensus on an ideal ratio number, I recommend 2.0 or greater if possible.

If your 2/16 ratio is less than 1.0, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to boost it just by eating a few specific foods. Start with Brassica (or mustard family) vegetables. These include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts and many others. You can also eat freshly ground flaxseed, 1 tablespoonful daily. And even though there’s been a great deal of controversy surrounding it, in this case, incorporating soy products (tofu, tempeh, soy milk, etc.) into your diet is a good option for boosting 2/16 ratios. A little goes a long way though, and two or three servings a week is plenty. You also don’t need to go overboard with Brassica vegetables. I know it seems odd for me to be warning you not to eat too many vegetables, but it is possible for Brassicas to cause suppressed thyroid function and even goiter if you eat a lot of them on a daily basis. Three to four servings a week is a good general range.

You might find that you only need to incorporate one of these foods into your diet to raise your 2/16 ratio, but sometimes it takes two or even all three to make a big difference. In a lot of cases, just eating these foods will bring a low 2/16 ratio to 1.0 or above in just four to six weeks without any other specific supplementation. But if you find you’re still not getting sufficient improvement, you can also take di-indolylmethane (DIM) supplements to boost it even further. DIM is actually a substance found in Brassica vegetables, but it’s also available in most health food stores in supplement form. If you need some extra help, take 60 milligrams three times daily, and check your 2/16 ratio again in another four to six weeks.

Start today to make sure you’re cancer-free tomorrow

So, you see, there’s no reason to just wait and hope that you’re not that one woman in eight who gets breast cancer. The 2/16 ratio and the EQ provide two easy ways to estimate your own risk of breast, uterine, and other estrogen-related cancers.

For more information on these tests, contact a physician-member of ACAM or ICIM, or Meridian Valley Laboratory (see the “Resources” section on page 8 for details). Meridian Valley is actually located in Washington state where, by law, individuals can order their own lab tests. I am affiliated with Meridian Valley Lab; in fact, I’m the one who insisted they start testing the EQ and the 2/16 ratio so I could make these valuable cancer risk factor tests available to all of my patients.

If your risk factor calculations are unfavorable, or even if they’re just OK, there are things you can do yourself-starting today-to lessen your breast cancer risk. Cancer is a frightening thing, but don’t let that fear paralyze you: Do something about it-and pass the information along to your daughters and granddaughters, too!

More to read: Strontium – Fight-even prevent-osteoporosis with the hidden secrets of this bone-building miracle mineral

What REALLY Causes Heartburn?

What REALLY Causes Heartburn?

Every day on television and other media we are barraged with ads about heartburn and acid reflux, which seem to tell us that stomach acid is the culprit causing our pain. If we take the patent medicine recommended in the commercial, our stomach problems will disappear. And how do those medicines propose to “fix” the problem? They lower the level of stomach acidity by either neutralizing stomach acid (these are antacids) or by shutting down the stomach’s ability to produce acid (proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs).

But it’s not really the level of acid in the stomach that causes the discomfort we call heartburn. Heartburn is caused when acid that is supposed to be in the stomach aiding digestion backs up into the esophagus, whose lining is not capable of withstanding the acidity and is chemically burned by it. If we take the advertised patent medicine, it will reduce the level of acid in the stomach, and so if comes up into the esophagus, its acidity will be less there as well, reducing or eliminating the burning sensation. But is this really a heartburn cure, or just temporary symptom relief? And do people really have too much acid in their stomach? Most importantly, is it healthy to reduce stomach acid?

Are Antacids and PPIs Really a Heartburn Cure?

Antacids and PPIs do reduce stomach acid, so when acid comes back into the throat, it does not burn as much. But antacids do not stop acid from going where it doesn’t belong in the first place. Why does acid come up into the throat? There is a valve at the bottom of the esophagus, just before the stomach, called the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). It allows food to pass into the stomach, but is supposed to prohibit stomach contents from going in the other direction. When there is food present in the stomach, that valve is supposed to be shut tight, but sometimes it relaxes when it should not. In some cases, the LES malfunctions because of food allergies and sensitivities, caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine. But it also happens when none of these is present. Doctors are not sure why, but some theorize that more acid, not less, is needed to keep the valve firmly shut, and that the valve relaxes in the presence of low stomach acid. If that is so, taking antacids could actually make the problem worse, not better.

See Also: Lithium – The Misunderstood Mineral Part 1

What REALLY Causes Heartburn?

Do People Often Have Too Much Stomach Acid?

Many studies have revealed that the production of stomach acid often decreases as we age, so that older people have much lower acidity level than younger ones. Yet often people develop heartburn in later years, just as acid production is declining. So it does not seem likely that heartburn is related to too much stomach acid at all. Yet when one goes to a doctor for a heartburn cure, antacids and PPIs are often prescribed without any testing on stomach acid levels. Ironically, when that test is done, it often reveals a lack of stomach acid rather than too much! This fact supports the theory that more acid keeps the LES more tightly closed.

Is It Healthy to Reduce Stomach Acid?

Stomach acid is needed in digestion and absorption of protein, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Older people in particular, who have lower levels of stomach acid, have difficulty absorbing sufficient nutrition. Moreover, stomach acid is a barrier that can prevent bacteria and other unwanted microorganisms from getting further into our digestive tract. Low stomach acid is linked to a variety of medical conditions including osteoporosis, pneumonia, and macular degeneration. Given that antacids only provide temporary relief from heartburn symptoms, and can lead to serious diseases or infections, they are not the best answer to the issue of heartburn.

What are better alternatives in curing heartburn?

Because many people suffering from heartburn have low stomach acid, some doctors have found that acid supplements often cure the problem. The supplements also help restore the digestive system, which enables better absorption of nutrients. Of course, no one should take acid except with the advice and under the care of a licensed doctor. If acid is normal in a person suffering from heartburn, his or her physician will often recommend testing for food allergies that could be causing the LES to malfunction. In addition, other natural supplements have been proven to help strengthen LES function, in particular melatonin. So if you are suffering from heartburn, especially with any frequency, look for an integrative doctor (one who combines the use of supplements and natural remedies with more conventional approaches as needed) who is familiar with stomach acid level testing, and can get to the real cause of your heartburn.

Degenerative Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)

Degenerative Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)

Degenerative arthritis is also called osteoarthritis or “wear and tear” arthritis. If you’ve been told you have one of these types of arthritis, there’s a good chance you can substantially reduce or even eliminate your symptoms, while tapering down or even eliminating drugs you may be taking. Diet changes, vitamins, minerals, natural metabolites, and herbals can all be significantly helpful.

“Mainstream” medical treatment for degenerative arthritis includes aspirin, other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, synthetic forms of cortisone both swallowed and injected, and surgery. Although all of these drugs relieve symptoms, there’s increasing evidence that they accelerate the deterioration of cartilage and actually make the underlying condition worse.

Degenerative Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)

Sensitivity to certain alkaloids naturally present in “nightshade” vegetables causes pain and swelling in a significant minority of individuals with degenerative arthritis. Nightshade sensitivity is not the same as allergy, and is not detectable by any laboratory tests in current use. The only way to figure out whether nightshade vegetables bother you is to totally eliminate tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant from your diet, along with tobacco exposure in any form. Even if you’re nightshade sensitive and totally eliminate all of these, it can still take three to four months for symptoms to recede. For a complete guide to a nightshade free program, check your natural food store for books by Professor Norman Childers.

Food allergies cause symptoms in another small minority of individuals with degenerative arthritis. If you’ve had allergies in the past, have them now, or if a member of your family has allergies, this is a definite possibility. Also, if a five-day “juice fast” using a vegetable juice or juices you rarely drink is associated with symptom relief, it’s very likely you have significant food allergies. For a referral to a doctor near you skilled and knowledgeable in food allergy testing, contact the American Academy of Environmental Medicine at 913-642-6062, or the International Federation of Electrodermal Screeners at 800-258-2172.

Researchers have found so many supplemental items useful in improving degenerative arthritis that I haven’t found it necessary to suggest them all.
What you’ll read next are the items I usually recommend that are almost always sufficient to do the job. At the end, I’ll make sure to list all the others in case you want to research them further.

Niacinamide, one of two forms of vitamin B3, is almost always a major help in relieving the pain and swelling of degenerative arthritis. Depending on the size of the person I’m working with, I’ll recommend 500 to 1000 milligrams of niacinamide, not niacin, three times daily, along with an equivalent quantity of vitamin C. Usually there’s no improvement until the third or fourth week. By twelve to sixteen weeks, many people find that nearly all the pain and swelling are under control. With prolonged use, the flexibility of joints is frequently improved.

There’s a small possibility that large quantities of niacinamide can cause unwanted effects. The first sign of this possibility is nausea or queasiness. Should this happen, stop niacinamide right away. Because of this small possibility, it’s advisable to use niacinamide while working with a health care professional skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural therapies.

Degenerative Arthritis (Osteoarthritis)

Glucosamine sulfate is a basic building block of cartilage. I usually recommend 500 milligrams of glucosamine sulfate three times daily, right along with the niacinamide and vitamin C. On its own, glucosamine works as well as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain and swelling, and can help to rebuild instead of destroying joints.

I also recommend 800 units of vitamin E and 250 micrograms of selenium daily. Selenium and vitamin E work together in relieving swelling and pain in degenerative arthritis.

Whenever I recommend individual nutritional supplements, I also recommend a general multiple vitamin-mineral supplement as “back-up”.

Niacinamide, vitamin C, glucosamine, vitamin E, and selenium, along with the diet changes you’ve read in this brief are almost enough to control degenerative arthritis. In the rare individuals who need further help, there’s a long list of other items I recommend. This list includes boron, 3 milligrams twice daily, shark cartilage 3 grams twice daily, “sea cucumber” 2 tablets twice daily, New Zealand green lipped mussel 1000 milligrams daily, cod liver oil 2 tablespoons daily, and yucca capsules, 3 times daily.

Because of differences in age, sex, metabolism, or potential allergy, these diet and supplement therapies may not be suitable for you. Consult a health care professional skilled in nutritional and natural therapies.

More to read: RDW: Another Marker for Gluten Sensitivity? with Cristina Persa, MD(RO), MS, ND

UV rays—beyond sunburn

Harnessing the healing power of light Part 1: What you need to know about UV rays—beyond sunburn

Despite what the sunscreen industry would like us to believe, the drastic increase in use of these lotions and potions over the past several decades hasn’t made a big impact in skin cancer rates. But what it has done is made people afraid of ultraviolet (UV) light. While it’s true too much radiation from the sun can result in skin damage (not to mention a painful sunburn), those harmful effects are hardly the extent of what UV radiation is capable of—and its potential benefits far outweigh the risks.

As you’ve read in these pages numerous times, UV rays from the sun are the best source of the vitamin D your body needs to ward off cancer and dozens of other health problems. But that’s just the beginning of what ultraviolet light can do. Not only is it an extremely effective disinfectant with the ability to kill bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the air and on surfaces, but UV light also has the potential to prevent—and even cure—infections and diseases that other treatments are powerless against.

See also: cataracts surgery

A strong history leads to an even more promising future

Using ultraviolet light as a medical treatment may sound like a new technology, but the medical use of ultraviolet light for the prevention and treatment of disease is not at all a new area of research. This form of therapy has been studied since the late 19th century, when researchers first experimented with UV light in patients with lupus and sepsis. In fact, back in 1903, a Danish physician named Niels Ryberg Finsen won a Nobel prize for his work with UV light and the treatment of disease.

There are even a few forms of ultraviolet light therapy that “mainstream” medicine uses. Ultraviolet radiation can eliminate or reduce pathogens floating in the air. This process is called air ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, or UVGI. UVGI is an important technology in many hospitals, research centers, and laboratories where contamination with bacteria and fungal spores poses a serious health risk. One recent study evaluated the infection rate in an operating room in which total joint replacements had been performed over a 19-year period. Infection rates were three times higher when only regular (laminar) airflow was used as compared to an ultraviolet light plus laminar airflow system. The UV lowered the number of bacteria in the entire environment, thereby reducing the infection rate, rather than just reducing the number of infectious organisms present at the surgical site. The researchers concluded that UV light is a very effective means of lowering the rate of infection during total joint replacement therapy.

The most common form of UV light therapy used by the mainstream for treatment purposes is probably for psoriasis. UV radiation works well for this condition because it penetrates the skin and slows the abnormal rate of skin cell growth. It’s also commonly used to treat acute tissue rejection in patients who have had heart transplants. And in 1988, the FDA even “approved” UV light therapy for the treatment of form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma called cutaneous T-cell lymphoma.

But despite these mainstream uses, UV light therapy is still considered “experimental” and “investigational” (or even “quackery”) for many of the healthcare problems affecting people all over the globe. The application that seems to be the most controversial is ultraviolet blood irradiation.

UV rays—beyond sunburn

Blood irradiation was developed in the 1920s, when a piece of equipment called the “ultraviolet blood irradiation (UVBI) device” was created to irradiate blood “extracorporeally” or outside of the body. UVBI was developed for medical use by an engineer, Emmet K. Knott and Virgil Hancock, M.D., and was used early in the 20th century to treat many types of diseases, including a wide variety of infections, many of them otherwise fatal. When antibiotics and vaccines were developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s, UVBI was almost completely set aside, even though a number of diseases, including hepatitis, streptococcal toxemia, and viral pneumonia, actually responded better to UVBI therapy than to antibiotics and vaccines, and even though UVBI was repeatedly described as quite safe in multiple publications.

With the rise in antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria and the growing interest in therapies that are less toxic, there is a reviving interest in UVBI as a therapy against infection. Even though it’s vastly underutilized, UVBI is still available here in these United States, and has remained a very important treatment modality in Russia and other countries, where many “modern” studies of its effectiveness have been conducted. So this month, we’ll cover the “modern” research, almost all reported since 1990, demonstrating that UV is “still” effective treatment for many problems.

Help your body create its own, internal vaccine

UVBI also goes by the terms light therapy, phototherapy, photophoresis, and photoluminescence. It uses UV light of varying wavelengths to destroy blood-borne pathogens, as well as to treat diseases not clearly linked to specific pathogens, and to improve general health. During a session, a small amount of blood, ranging from 60-250 cc, is withdrawn from a patient and sent through a chamber where it is irradiated with specific frequencies of UV light (since certain frequencies have different effects), and is then reintroduced into the body. This creates a kind of self-generated vaccine that can have many beneficial effects.

UVBI treatments sometimes include the addition of other compounds, either before or after irradiation. This combination therapy has been termed “photodynamic antimicrobial chemotherapy, or PACT. PACT is used along with UV light to inhibit pathogens in blood products.11 Conventional medicine has even embraced one form of PACT that involves exposing blood withdrawn from a patient’s body to UV radiation and a substance called 8-methoxypsoralen (8-MOP). This is the form of UV therapy used to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, as well as systemic sclerosis and several other inflammatory conditions.12, 13

But “alternative” physicians, especially those who’ve read the older research, often accompany or follow UVBI therapy with hydrogen peroxide, which acts as a “synergist” to increase the effectiveness of UVBI.

While not all the “mechanisms of action” of UVBI are understood (some aren’t even guessed at yet), research has found that it increases the oxygenation of the blood,14 increases important “blood markers” that indicate healing, and inactivates viral, and fungal, and bacterial toxins, including botulism and diphtheria toxins. It also improves chemical balances and cell permeability. And what makes UVBI even more impressive is that it not only begins working after just one treatment, but the effects are cumulative and persist for some time after each treatment session.

Several animal studies have demonstrated these quick, long-lasting effects. For example, when a group of horses that had been exposed to the anthrax virus had their blood treated, investigators noted increased hemoglobin content as well as red and white blood cell counts. An important measurement of inflammation, the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), increased after the first hour and remained elevated until the fourth day, and returned to normal after six days—but none of the horses “came down” with anthrax. The UVBI apparently stimulated the destruction of the infectious organisms.15

Light as air: UVBI offers major benefits for chronic lung disorders

One of the most important uses for UVBI in humans is in the treatment of lung diseases, including asthma, COPD, and bronchitis. In one study of chronic bronchitis, patients who were given UVBI treatments every two to three days experienced significantly more improvement than the control group that received only conventional therapy.16

UV blood irradiation even has positive effects in patients with chronic forms of tuberculosis, which is notoriously difficult to treat.17 But following UVBI therapy, patients experienced reductions in their clinical symptoms, and increases in one of the standard measurements of breathing capacity called forced expiratory volume (“FEV”). They also had decreased levels of the bacterial pathogen, Mycobacteria tuberculosis, and improved markers of overall blood health (hematological indices).18

Studies have also shown that UVBI helps alleviate the inflammation of the trachea and bronchial tubes (“tracheobronchitis”) that often occurs after tracheostomy surgery (the creation of a new opening for air entry into the trachea at the base of the neck).19

Breathe easier without the blood

If you have asthma or other breathing difficulties but the thought of blood irradiation leaves you a bit squeamish, less-invasive forms of UV light therapy may still help. One animal study evaluated the ability of UV-B rays to induce airway immunity. A group of mice were exposed to enough of a dose of UV-B radiation to cause skin redness. Several days later, the researchers induce airway allergies in the mice. The results of the study demonstrated that UV-B radiation effectively reduced airway hyper-responsiveness and response to allergens, suggesting it as a possible therapy for asthma and other inflammatory diseases of the respiratory system.20

Another recent study involving a small group of mold-sensitized asthmatic children looked at the effectiveness of UV irradiation units installed in their homes’ central heating and cooling systems. The UV irradiation of home air was found to be effective in reducing airway hyper-responsiveness and other clinical symptoms, and is a promising therapy for the treatment of allergic asthma.21

No job too big

High blood pressure is still one many people’s primary concerns.. You may be surprised to learn that UVBI can help bring blood pressure levels back to normal ranges. In one study, arterial blood pressure in hypertensive patients who underwent five to seven sessions of UVBI dropped an average of 24 percent from initial levels. The general health of patients also improved and the clinical effect persisted for four to eight months, on average. Blood pressure isn’t the only aspect of cardiovascular health to be of which to be aware, and UVBI certainly isn’t the only natural treatment that can help alleviate hypertension, but researchers suggest that it may be a beneficial addition to other therapeutic measures for the treatment of cardiovascular disease.22

While UVBI is a good addition to the other effective natural treatments for hypertension, there are very few treatments—natural or otherwise—that are effective for terminal kidney (renal) failure. But in one study in which patients with chronic renal failure were treated with UVBI, immune function was stimulated, a low white blood cell count was corrected, and patients demonstrated overall improvement.23

Making cancer treatments safer

As I mentioned earlier, UV light therapy has been used successfully as a treatment for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a type of cancer that is generally very resistant to chemotherapy and radiation. But this isn’t the only cancer application for UVBI. It also helps combat some of the negative effects of traditional chemotherapy and some of the hazards associated with cancer surgery.

In one study, patients undergoing chemotherapy which had caused a significant drop in their red blood cell counts had 200 ml of blood removed, then irradiated, and immediately returned to them. The red blood cell counts returned to normal.

During surgery, patients of course lose blood, and surgeons try to recover some of it to give back before the surgery is over. This process is called “intra-operative blood salvage.” But during cancer surgery, the lost blood could be contaminated by cancer cells, so surgeons are hesitant to salvage it. In one study (done “in vitro,” not on a living patient) using a number of cancer cell lines and tumor preparations, researchers irradiated salvaged blood to see if the process could eliminate the potential for cancer cells to spread. Following irradiation of tumor-cell-contaminated blood, even though cancer cells were still present, there were no signs of them spreading. The authors of this study concluded that there was a clinical basis for using UVBI during surgery as a means of salvaging useable blood. A later study using intra-operative blood salvaged by using UVBI confirmed these results and concluded that UVBI is an important way to save blood resources while avoiding cancer cell spread and the necessity for transfusion, which carries its own set of risks.

And speaking of risks associated with blood transfusions, results of a recent study showed that YV light combined with amotosalen (a synthetic but relatively safe version of naturally occurring plant compounds called “psoralens” found in figs, celery, parsley, and other plants) could inactivate parvovirus B19, a virus that may be transmitted through blood transfusions but, until now, evaded attempts to disable it.

UV rays—beyond sunburn

Germ-killing with UV

In addition to all the benefits we’ve gone over so far, ultraviolet light is also particularly effective in killing antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, which are a serious and increasing problem in many hospitals and other healthcare facilities these days.28, 29 And like the asthma treatments mentioned in the sidebar on page X, UV light therapy for these forms of potentially deadly bactera are done without withdrawing blood from patients. In one study patients with chronic body-surface ulcers were treated using a lamp that emitted ultraviolet C (UV-C) light, held about an inch away from the wound site. After just one 180-second treatment, there were significant reductions in all types of bacteria, most notably Pseudomonas aeruginosa, as well as methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA), which has been making headlines worldwide recently A second study of the effects of UV light treatment on antibiotic-resistant strains of S. aureus and Enterococcus faecalis showed similar results with exposures as little as 5 seconds.30 These results confirm other studies showing that UV-C can kill many types of bacteria present in superficial, chronic wounds.

When UV light is applied at the site of an infection it inactivates pathogens by creating something I’m normally warning you to avoid: free radicals. But, in this case, free radicals are a good thing, since they’re causing oxidative damage to the invading organisms, not to your internal organs.

As you’ve seen, all of this modern research has shown UV light and UVBI to be a safe and effective (not to mention inexpensive) treatment with rapid clinical response for a wide variety of acute and chronic conditions. But conventional medicine still hasn’t gotten around to employing it as often as it should, as was done with great success (and reported in many, many peer-reviewed professional journals) in the 1920s through the 1950s. In 2008, UVBI therapy is done almost entirely by physicians—including Tahoma Clinic physicians—skilled in natural and nutritional medicine, as well as intravenous (IV) therapies (see “Resources”, page 8.) But with the ever-increasing spread of antibiotic-resistant micro-organisms, it’s well past time “conventional” medicine to goes “back to the future” and starts using this long-ago-proven therapy. The UV-treated conditions we covered in this article—all but one reported in the past two decades, and the majority since the year 2000–are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to UVBI’s healing potential.

Next month, I’ll tell you about those research reports published right here in these United States from the 1920s through the 1950s documenting the use and effectiveness of UV light and UVBI to safely and effectively treat tens of thousands of humans with infections, including viral pneumonia, staphylococcal septicemia (serious, often fatal systemic “staph infection”), poliomyelitis (“polio”), erysipelas (streptococcal skin infection), puerperal sepsis (an often fatal infection also termed “childbirth fever”), staphylococcal skin infection (furunculosis), and paralytic ileus (paralysis of the bowel after surgery, and thrombophlebitis (vein inflammation followed by blood clot). You’ll also read about UV light’s benefits for more common conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, herpes, psoriasis, and diabetes.

Thanks to Lauren Russel N.D. for her organization and summary of the data collected for this article.

More to read: Macular Degeneration Testimonials