Antibiotics and Intestinal Health: Balancing Our Internal Ecosystem

The discovery of penicillin in 1928 is considered one of the most important developments in the history of modern medicine. Since their inception antibiotics have without a doubt saved many lives by helping people to overcome serious infections. However, today according to health authorities they are being overprescribed, with estimates ranging from 20% to 50% being deemed as inappropriate. This is a worrying trend because the overuse of antibiotics for non-life threatening conditions, and their use as growth promoters for conventionally farmed livestock, has contributed greatly to gut dysbiosis (microbial imbalance that detrimentally impacts on normal bodily function), pathogen colonization of the gut, pathogen evolution, and the downward spiral of general human health in ways that are as yet not fully understood.

A recent study published in the journal Cell Host and Microbe (Rivera-Chávez et al., 2016) however, sheds new light on some of the processes going on in the dark recesses of the 300 – 400 m2 area of the human gastrointestinal (GI) tract when we are exposed to antibiotics. The study, led by Andreas Bäumler, professor of medical immunology and microbiology at UC Davis Health System, sought to uncover the mechanisms by which antibiotic treatment effect changes in the gut that allow the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria. While the healthy human GI tract houses a microbial community that prevents pathogen dominance through largely unknown mechanisms, antibiotic treatment is known to increase susceptibility to enteric (gut) pathogens. The question Bäumler and his team asked was, “how?”

“The road to health is paved with good intestines!” – Sherry A. Rogers

The healthy human gut is a largely anaerobic (oxygen free) environment, and beneficial bacteria that support human health such as those in the class Clostridia thrive in low oxygen conditions. Meanwhile, pathogens such as Salmonella that have the capacity to compromise our health, flourish in an oxygen rich environment, and are inhibited by its lack. Bäumler and his team focused on the Clostridia/Salmonella balance and soon discovered that the move away from optimal balance in the gut begins when antibiotics kill the “good” guys along with the “bad”. Many species in the Clostridia class consume dietary fibre (a ‘prebiotic’, in that it provides food for probiotic bacteria) to create a range of metabolites essential to gut health and integrity, including butyrate. Butyrate is a short chain fatty-acid utilized by the cells of the colon as an energy source, allowing them to absorb water. Lack of butyrate initiates autophagy (self-digestion) in these cells, and in extreme cases, these cells die. Decreased intestinal metabolism results in an increase in local oxygen concentrations, which favors pathogenic oxygen-loving organisms. According to Bäumler, “Salmonella flourished in the newly created oxygen-rich micro environment after antibiotic treatment. In essence, antibiotics enabled pathogens in the gut to breathe.”

Antibiotics and Intestinal Health - Balancing Our Internal Ecosystem 1

Unfortunately, we don’t just get antibiotics from the doctor. Low-dose antibiotics are used to improve weight gain in livestock, and human consumption of meat and animal products thusly treated has been linked to a host of health issues, including the modern obesity epidemic. On the other side of the imbalance coin, we find that routes for probiotic species to enter the body are compromised by: modern agricultural practices which kill beneficial bacterial species on produce (for example, glyphosate is a powerful antimicrobial agent); diets overly reliant on processed rather than fresh ‘chemical free’ foods; the ‘war on germs’; pasteurization; and reduced consumption of fermented foods compared to previous generations. Gut dysbiosis combined with antibiotic use has one more trick up its sleeve though – bacteria not only have rapid generational turnover (an estimated 20 minutes for GI tract bacteria), they also engage in ‘horizontal’ gene transfer, which means they can swap genetic material. In an imbalanced gut, as pathogens gain dominance, evolution of traits such as antibiotic resistance can be very rapid indeed, and once established, this trait may be passed horizontally not only within species, but between species.

“All disease begins in the gut.” – Hippocrates

Gut dysbiosis at its most simple is an imbalance within the community of bacteria in the GI tract. Most telling in a clinical context is the ratio between the bacterial phyla Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes (F/B ratio), but since gut dysbiosis also favors the Proteobacteria, their overgrowth often co-occurs with Bacteroidetes dominance. Dominance of Bacteroidetes is associated with a host of health problems including obesity, hypertension, depression, IBS, Crohn’s disease, autism, type 1 and 2 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and many other auto-immune conditions, while the phylum Proteobacteria contains well known pathogens in genera such as Salmonella, Escherichia, and Helicobacter. There are many factors other than antibiotics that can cause imbalance of the F/B ratio, including diet, infection, environmental toxins, neurotoxins, and chronic systemic inflammation. And just like the chicken and the egg, either gut dysbiosis or bodily dysfunction may occur first and be the cause of the other, and the addressing or healing of one can have a positive effect on the other. What we soon find though upon a thorough investigation of gut dysbiosis and subsequent human dysfunction is that we are far from having a full understanding of the mechanisms involved, and these mechanisms are so diverse and interrelated that a broad-based, holistic, and natural approach is our best bet for maintaining a healthy gut.

What can we do to encourage and maintain balance within our internal ecosystem of micro-organisms?

From the little we do know, the following procedures will be beneficial:

Be careful with antibiotics: antibiotics can be a life-saving intervention, but we should reserve their use for serious infections. Over or inappropriate use (e.g. taking antibiotics for a low grade or a viral infection) encourages gut dysbiosis, and facilitates the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains. Try natural antibiotics such as garlic, cat’s claw tea or oregano oil.

Eat well: nutrient dense, fresh, clean, local, and seasonal food with a high component of raw greens and adequate dietary fibre is best for the gut. Consider eliminating foods that trigger inflammation in the body, these foods can be different for each of us, but eliminating or restricting sugar and gluten is a good start for most.

Avoid low-dose antibiotic treated animal products: research indicates multiple problems with these foods. Try to eat only organic animal products, and consider reducing the amount eaten.

Avoid environmental, dietary, and other toxins: many toxins initiate chronic inflammation, and researching things such as food additives, fluoridation, heavy vaccination schedules, plastics, and electromagnetic exposure will help you make up your own mind about what you should avoid or limit.

Consume beneficial organisms: a regular supply of good bacteria either through probiotic supplementation, or even better, a diversity of fermented foods, will greatly help in maintaining a healthy balance in the gut.

Reduce stress: the effects of cortisol on every bodily system are so profound, stress reduction should really be taught in schools. Find what suits you best to reduce stress, whether it be meditation, yoga, a walk in nature, a swim, conversation with good friends, or anything that relaxes you.

6 Signs You Need A Major Life Change

6 Signs You Need A Major Life Change“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”- Andy Warhol

Realizing when our lives aren’t where we want them to be can be harder than it seems. How do you distinguish between life with all its usual day-to-day responsibilities and compromises and a situation where you are just plodding on unhappily? How do you know that a big break isn’t just round the corner if you just keep on keeping on, no matter how much it’s making you unhappy in the present moment? Knowing when to carry on as you are and when you need a major life change might be a challenge, but is an important skill when you are thinking about happiness and wellbeing.

1. You need a major life change if you’ve hit a dead end. 

Sometimes day-to-day life can crowd out your dreams and ambitions, and you might have found yourself in a situation that is going nowhere. There’s little that’s more dispiriting than feeling as though you are million miles from where you want to be and that you are simply going through the motions. It isn’t always easy to see a way out when you are stuck in a rut, but promising to yourself to make one small change every day is a great start when you want to turn things around.

2. You need a major life change if you’re creating a life you don’t want.

There are images and ideas everywhere about what the perfect life should look like. The influences and pressures of the world around us can be so strong that you may realize that you are carefully putting everything in place for a life that, if you really thought about it, you don’t actually want.

It could be that you live in a buzzing city where everything revolves around a sparkling social life, dating and getting ahead, so you are putting off settling down even though you’ve found the person that’s right for you. Or maybe all your friends are having kids and you feel you should start a family, even though you can’t escape a niggling feeling that it’s not what you want right now. These are just two examples, but the overriding societal pressures can push you in all sorts of directions.

Even if your life looks successful, if it isn’t the life you truly wanted for yourself it won’t make you happy, and starting to do things your own way is vital.

3. You need a major life change if you’re bored and unhappy most of the time. 

It is important to acknowledge that life is full of difficult, tedious and unsatisfying moments. To think otherwise is just setting yourself up for disappointment. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be content and satisfied with your life for the majority of the time. Many people find themselves staying in unfulfilling jobs, frustrating situations or failing relationships because they think that that’s “just life”, and they have to get on with it.

This is miles away from the truth. Whether your discontent has a clear cause or is something that comes from within you, there’s always a way to address it.

4. You need a major life change if you are surrounded by people who don’t bring out the best of you. 

Maybe you have a partner who doesn’t believe in you, perhaps your friends burden you with their stresses without offering any support in return, or your colleagues underestimate your abilities. If the people around you make you feel unappreciated, insecure or exhausted, it could be time to reassess your life and those who you choose to give the most time to.

This needn’t lead to drastic change, (unless, of course, it needs to) but simply an effort to reconnect with good friends you’ve fallen out of touch with, meeting new people through joining groups, the internet or travel, or clearly communicating your needs in your close relationships.

5. You need a major life change if you always view life negatively. 

It is part of being human to have the odd crisis of confidence and think everything is (and always will be) terrible, but unfortunately this sort of negative thinking is habit-forming. A pessimistic view of life makes it difficult to believe in your own abilities, the kindness and generosity of others, and the potential you have to achieve want you want.

6. You need a life change if you’re waiting for something to happen.

We’ve all done it. Hoping that the love of our lives is going to walk in and whisk us off to somewhere new and exciting, that we’ll win the lottery and be instantly transported to a world of yachts and endless carefree days, or that we’ll become a huge success overnight. Daydreaming like this is completely normal and to be expected even at our most content, but the problem comes when it’s our only escape and source of happiness.

This is a sign that you are desperate for some positive change in your life, but it’s unlikely that this sort of change is going to come from a random stroke of good luck. If you think that happiness lies in a lottery win, you are not only going to be disappointed, (as few of us will ever have millions of pounds fall in our lap) but avoid being proactive and making the practical changes in your life to be more satisfied with the way things are.

Things rarely change for the better without a nudge in that direction, so if your life isn’t everything you want it to be right now and you constantly dream that things are different, it may be time to initiate some changes yourself.

The Science of Color: How the Rainbow Can Heal

There is an old adage that claims we should ‘eat the rainbow’ to gain optimal health. It turns out that while we should definitely eat the colors of the rainbow, just being exposed to its light can help as well. 

Every day, we are surrounded by the full spectrum of colors: the bright red of the stop sign on our way to work; the glowing orange-yellow sunlight shining through our window; the sea of swaying green grass in the local park; the dark indigo skin of succulent blueberries and blackberries.

While we might stop and take a moment to appreciate the beauty of these colors, we often don’t think about the powerful effects that seeing and eating different colors have on our physical health and emotional well-being.

Color therapy has been long used in the healing arts, but it’s only been recently that studies are emerging indicating the effects that the colors have on our mood, energy, and health. The conclusions from these studies allow you to harness the power of color in your own life. Here are some color-full findings to encourage you to experiment with colors both on and off your plate:


If you find yourself in a mid-day slump, try switching to a red light or a room with red walls. A 2014 article published in the Conference Proceedings of the Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society found that when participants were put in a room with red light, they had a higher level of brain activity associated with “alertness, agitation, mental activity, and general activation of mind and body functions.” They also were more likely to feel “vigor.” 1


Orange foods, like carrots and sweet potatoes, get their color from carotenoids like beta-carotene, which may play an important role in reproduction. An area of animal research indicates that beta-carotene concentrates in the corpus luteum (a developing egg in the ovary), where it plays a role in ovulation by assisting with the production of progesterone. 2 Animal studies likewise suggest that beta-carotene supplementation supports ovarian activity and progesterone synthesis in goats 3 4

Polish scientists have discovered that uterine tissues contain beta-carotene 5 , while a 2014 study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility suggests that when women boost their beta-carotene intake, their chances of becoming pregnant seem to improve. 6


Yellow is a curious color. It seems to be the color that most people are drawn to, and the one that is most correlated with a normal mood, according to researchers at the University of Manchester. 7 The yellow-colored pigment, lutein, is known to collect in certain tissues of the body, specifically the macula, as well as the skin and in breast tissue. There are several studies that show that healthy yellow foods, like slow-burning carbohydrates, generate energy. A study conducted in Oxford, England, found that yellow mustard bran helped a group of young, active men have a better post-meal response to glucose after eating potato and leek soup compared to eating the soup by itself. 8 Likewise, a Canadian study found that whole yellow pea flour— a complex carbohydrate— helped overweight people improve their use of insulin. 9


Researchers have discovered some fascinating links associating the color green with the heart. For example, an Austrian experiment found that exposing people to green fluorescent light seemed to have a soothing effect on their hearts, affecting heart rate variability (HRV). 10 People who endure continual worry and anxiety seem to have decreased HRV, which is also associated with a number of disorders, including congestive heart failure and depression. If exposure to green light increases HRV, we can imagine that has heart-protective effects and might help to heal grief. Moreover, if green light changes vasculature, then it stands to reason that other conditions involving the vasculature would be impacted by it. In support of this concept, a study was just published indicating that migraine severity is reduced in the presence of green light. 11


The color blue has powerful effects on the brain and memory. A 2008 British study found that exposing workers to blue-enriched white light improved self-reported alertness, performance, and sleep quality. 12 Similarly, an Australian experiment discovered that exposure to blue light made experimental subjects less sleepy as they tried to complete prolonged tasks during the night. 13 A recent study published in May 2016 showed that people performed better on a working memory task and had greater activation in the prefrontal regions of the brain after being in a blue-lit room for thirty minutes compared with being in a room with amber light. 14


The color white has been the focus of promising research about depression. In 2011, Dutch psychiatric researchers found that both blue-enriched white light and bright white light might possibly be effective in treating SAD. 15 Furthermore, a 2004 Danish study affirmed that bright light could perhaps be a helpful treatment even in non-seasonal depression when used in conjunction with antidepressants. 16 A University of California, San Diego study also found that bright light therapy combined with antidepressants and “wake therapy” could be effective in treating depression.

White light may also be part of the fruit and vegetables that we eat. A recent study found that extracts from pomegranate and turmeric emitted almost pure white light emission. 18 The researchers discovered that light was mostly emitting from the active ingredients in the foods – polyphenols and anthocyanins in pomegranate, and curcumin in turmeric. If white light can have a healing effect outside the body, think about the potential of eating white light-emitting foods!

As you can see, color offers so much more than visual beauty. By eating a spectrum of naturally-occurring colors, and infusing colors in our surroundings, we can truly harness the power of the rainbow to guide ourselves to full-spectrum health.

For more information regarding colorful foods, please visit the following links to theGreenMedInfo database:
Red: Pomegranate, Strawberry, Beet 
Orange: Apricot, Carrot, Orange
Yellow: Lemon, Pineapple
Green: Broccoli, Kale, Mint
Blue: Blueberry, Bilberry
White: Coconut, Banana, Cauliflower 

Lion’s Mane Mushroom – Unparalleled Benefits for Your Brain and Nervous System

Lion’s Mane is nature’s gift to your nervous system! It’s the only mushroom possessing not one but TWO potent nerve growth factors, showing potential benefits for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, mild cognitive impairment, multiple sclerosis, leg cramps, anxiety and more.

What if there were one natural treatment that could restore brain function, regrow damaged nerves and reverse the progression of multiple sclerosis? There may be! Lion’s mane mushroom has been used medicinally in Asia for centuries, but for some reason it’s one of the best-kept secrets in the West.

Besides being called “lion’s mane,” Hericium erinaceus, is known by several other names including bearded tooth mushroom, bearded hedgehog, bearded tooth fungus and others. In Japan, it’s known as yamabushitake, which means “mountain priest mushroom.” It has a variety of other names, depending on the country.

In Asia, it is said that lion’s mane gives you “nerves of steel and the memory of a lion,” and from what science is revealing, that’s apt prose. Thus far, evidence exists that lion’s mane mushroom confers the following health benefits:

  • Improved cognitive function

  • Nerve regeneration, remyelination, and increased Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)

  • Improved digestive function and relief from gastritis

  • Immunosupportive, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant

  • Anticoagulant; mild ACE inhibitor; improved lipid profile

The science about lion’s mane is in its infancy, but evidence already points to unparalleled therapeutic benefits for numerous diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, summarized in the table below, and the list seems to be growing by the day.

Conditions That May Benefit from Lion’s Mane Mushroom

Dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI)

Parkinson’s disease

Peripheral neuropathy

Muscle cramps and spasms

Multiple sclerosis (MS)

Stroke recovery

Seizures and seizure-like post-stroke episodes

Anxiety andDepression

Mother Nature’s First “Smart Mushroom”

According to world renown fungi expert Paul Stamets, lion’s mane may be the first “smart mushroom,” providing support specifically for cognitive function, including memory, attention and creativity. It is reported that Buddhist monks have consumed Lion’s mane tea for centuries before meditation in order to enhance their powers of concentration.

This unique fungus contains a group of compounds that regenerate myelin along the axons, which opens the door to a world of neuroprotective benefits.

In one of the few human studies to date, older adults with mild cognitive impairment were given 250 mg powdered lion’s mane three times a day for 16 weeks and compared to another group receiving a placebo. The lion’s mane group scored significantly higher on the cognitive function scale compared with placebo, with no adverse effects. This study should prompt scientists to investigate the therapeutic efficacy of these fungi for dementia patients.

Lion’s Mane Mushroom – Unparalleled Benefits for Your Brain and Nervous System

Lion’s Mane Regenerates Nerves and Stimulates NGF

One of the reasons for his mushroom’s exceptional neuroprotective powers is its ability to stimulate synthesis of Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). NGF is a protein that plays a major role in the maintenance, survival and regeneration of neurons in both your central and peripheral nervous systems. Lion’s mane contains two unique types of compounds, hericenones and erinacines. The erinacines found inHericium erinaceus mycelium are among the most powerful NGF inducers in the natural world, able to cross your blood-brain barrier and stimulate production of new neurons within the brain itself.

With many neurological disorders, the brain is unable to manufacture NGF—in fact, this is thought to be one of the primary mechanisms underlying Alzheimer’s disease. Making matters worse, myelin sheaths and the blood-brain barrier prevent your body from accessing external sources of NGF, and this contributes to the progressive deterioration of brain neurons over time.

Lion’s mane is the only mushroom to demonstrate significant potential for nerve regeneration. In a groundbreaking 2014 study, an oral extract proved effective in promoting peripheral nerve regenerationafter surgically-induced crush-injuries in rats.

NGF also plays important roles in myelination, including protecting oligodendrocytes (myelin-producing cells) and the production of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor). In 2003, lion’s mane extract was found to stimulate nerve myelination, which was confirmed by a later study (2013). This finding has huge implications for helping individuals with multiple sclerosis, a disease characterized by progressive demyelination.

As an aside, there is actually another mushroom that may prove helpful with demyelination—Phellinus igniarius, otherwise known as willow bracket. One study found its extract suppressed demyelination as well as suppressing many of the immune cells active (or overactive) in multiple sclerosis.

Amyloid Plaques, Anxiety and Depression

Lion’s mane has also been shown to reduce beta-amyloid plaques. Beta-amyloid plaques are proteins that form in the fatty membranes that surround nerve cells, interfering with neurotransmission. These plaques are thought to play a role in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

In a compelling animal study, mice were injected with neurotoxic peptides (to induce plaque formation), in order to assess the effects of lion’s mane on the type of amyloid plaque seen in Alzheimer’s sufferers. As the plaque developed, the mice lost their ability to memorize the maze, but when they were fed a diet containing lion’s mane mushroom, their performance in the maze significantly improved. In addition to regaining their former cognitive skills, they gained NEW cognitive skills—something akin to curiosity, as measured by greater time spent exploring novel objects compared to familiar ones. The reduction of beta amyloid plaques in the mushroom-fed mice was remarkable.

Lion’s mane also shows potential in the treatment of anxiety and depression. In a study involving menopausal women, the mushroom reduced depression and anxiety by some mechanism other than its NGF-enhancing properties. The effects were particularly strong in lowering anxiety, reducing feelings of “irritation” and enhancing concentration. So the Buddhist monks were right!

Benefits Beyond the Nervous System

As with many mushrooms, lion’s mane has a number of other therapeutic actions resulting from itsanti-inflammatory and immunosupportive properties, including the following:

  • Cancer: One animal study found an extract of lion’s mane inhibited the spread of colon cancercells to the lung by 66 to 69 percent; the mushroom has also been shown to induce apoptosis inleukemia cells and inhibits angiogenesis

  • Thrombosis: Hericenone B appears to “potently and specifically inhibit collagen-induced platelet aggregation”

  • Mild ACE Inhibitor: The exact molecule underlying this effect is not currently known, but it is thought to be a bioactive peptide

  • Lipids: Reported to reduce triglycerides and improve LDL and HDL levels (lion’s mane mycelium, specifically)

  • Fat Metabolism: Increases the expression of several genes involved in fat metabolism

  • Wound Healing: Topical application of the extract was found to accelerate wound healing

Lion’s mane mushroom has earned its right to be in your kitchen pantry and medicine cabinet. I’m sure we’ll be seeing many more studies illuminating its therapeutic potential in the near future.

Although the mushroom’s availability is limited to hardwood forests and a few gourmet food shops, kits are available that allow you to grow your own lion’s mane at home. Lion’s mane mushrooms are 20 percent protein and can be prepared using standard culinary techniques, just like any other edible mushroom. Mushroom Forager describes this oddball’s appearance as sort of like a “faceless hedgehog,” or a truffula tree out of The Lorax—so, they’re rather easy to spot. Does it taste like chicken? No, in this case lobster… or so they say, as I’ve not partaken myself.

According to Mushroom Forager:

“Lion’s mane has no look-alikes, edible or poisonous, and all forms are edible and delicious in the kitchen.”

You’ll will find lion’s mane in the forests of North America, Europe and Asia during the summer and fall, typically attached to dead or dying hardwood trees and logs, including maple, beech, oak, birch, walnut and sycamore. Lion’s mane is also widely available as a supplement and comes in powders and liquid extracts. Some serious allergic reactions have been reported, so please take ample precautions.

Is Alkaline Water Extra Healthy or a Hoax?

Is Alkaline Water Extra Healthy or a Hoax?
Pouring bottled alkaline mineral water into a glass. 

Many alternative health experts say that alkaline water — whether purchased in bottles or created from your own tap with a pricey do-it-yourself ionizing purifier — is an extra-healthy type of water to drink, with claims that it slows the aging process, increases energy, helps people with fertility issues, regulates your body’s pH level and prevents chronic diseases like cancer.

Does alkaline water hold up to all this hype?

Let’s consider regular water first. Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day is important to our overall health. More than fifty percent of our bodies are made of water, and staying properly hydrated is essential to every bodily function.

If you think about it, regular old water is practically a miracle drink. It keeps our bodies hydrated, and it’s calorie-free! Those of us who live in the U.S. are lucky to have access to clean drinking water. According to, 750 million people around the world lack access to safe water — approximately one in nine people. So, first let’s appreciate our access to safe water.

But what about alkaline water? Is it even better than regular water? Let’s take a look at the facts.

What Is the PH of Alkaline Water?

Is Alkaline Water Extra Healthy or a Hoax?
pH strips testing the acidity or alkalinity of different types of water. 

Some of you may recall from high school chemistry class that pH is the measure of the acidity or alkalinity of any substance or solution. The pH (potential hydrogen) scale runs from zero to 14, with 7 as the neutral mid-point. Liquids with a pH of 1 are very acidic, and liquids with a pH of 13 are very alkaline.

Pure water is smack dab in the middle with a pH that is close to 7.

Alkaline water, also called ionized water, has a higher pH than regular water — generally between 7 and 9.5.

How Does Alkaline Water Work?

Is Alkaline Water Extra Healthy or a Hoax?
TUMS and other antacids contain alkaline ions that neutralize stomach gastric acid. 

In theory, proponents of alkaline water believe it works by making our bodies less acidic. Many people believe that the Standard American Diet (SAD) contributes to chronic low-grade acidosis, a condition associated with health issues including hormonal problems, loss of bone and metabolic problems.

Human blood has a pH of approximately 7.4 — slightly alkaline. It’s essential for our bodies to maintain our pH within a tight range. Even a small fluctuation of as little as .05 in our blood pH can have severe health risks, but the pH of the organs throughout the rest of the body can vary widely.

In your stomach, where the stomach acids digest your food, the pH is 1.5 to 3.5 (acidic). TUMS and other antacids contain alkaline ions that can cancel out acidity and neutralize stomach gastric acid. You don’t want to get rid of all of your stomach acid, however, as it is essential for digestion of your food!

Alternative medicine proponents such as the Budwig Center, an alternative cancer treatment clinic based in Spain, believe that our bodies need to be strictly maintained at 7.4 pH in order to achieve and maintain optimal health and to fight cancer. “If you have ever maintained a swimming pool, you will have had to verify the pH of the water on a regular basis and have had to add different chemicals to keep it at pH neutral,” it says on the Center’s website. “Our bodies are in effect like a swimming pool, as we are 80% water and our pH needs to be kept at 7.4 neutral to be healthy.”

The Budwig Center believes that having too much acid in your body can weaken all your systems. The thinking is that your body has to then borrow minerals from your bones, teeth and organs to neutralize excess acidity. High acid levels, or acidosis, might lead to diarrhea, osteoporosis, anxiety, rheumatoid arthritis and impaired immune function. Acidosis could also interfere with your cells’ ability to heal or produce energy and also allow cancer to flourish.

In a study called “Acid pH in Tumors and Its Potential for Therapeutic Exploitation” published in August 1989 in Perspectives in Cancer Research, measurement of pH in tissue showed that the microenvironment in tumors is generally more acidic than in normal tissues.

How WHOLE Turmeric Heals The Damaged Brain

Long considered impossible to accomplish, new research reveals how a simple spice might contribute to the regeneration of the damaged brain.

Turmeric is hands down one of the, if not the, most versatile healing spice in the world with over600 experimentally confirmed health benefits, and an ancient history filled with deep reverence for its seemingly compassionate power to alleviate human suffering.

How Whole Turmeric Heals The Damaged Brain

But, most of the focus over the past decade has been centered on only one of its many hundreds of phytocompounds: namely, the primary polyphenol in turmeric known as curcumin which gives the spice its richly golden hue.  This curcumin-centric focus has lead to the development of some very good products, such as phospholipid bound curcumin concentrate (e.g. Meriva, BCM-95) which greatly helps to increase the absorption and bio-activity of curcumin. But, curcumin isolates are only capable of conferring a part of turmeric’s therapeutic power – and therein lies the limitation and hubris of the dominant ‘isolate the active ingredient’ model.

Indeed, it has become typical within the so-called nutraceutical industry to emulate the pharmaceutical model, which focuses on identifying a particular “monochemical” tree within the forest of complexity represented by each botanical agent, striving to standardize the delivery of each purported ‘active ingredient’ with each serving, as if it were a pharmaceutical drug. These extraction and isolation processes also generates proprietary formulas which are what manufacturers want to differentiate their product from all others and henceforth capture a larger part of the market share; a value proposition that serves the manufacturer and not the consumer/patient.

Truth be told, there is no singular ‘magic bullet’ in foods and herbs responsible for reproducing the whole plant’s healing power.  There are, in fact, in most healing plants or foods hundreds of compounds orchestrated by the intelligent ‘invisible hand’ of God or ‘Nature,’ or whatever you wish to call it, and which can never be reduced to the activity of a singularly quantifiable phytocompound or chemical.

Beyond The Curcumin ‘Magic Bullet’ Meme

Now, an exciting new study published in the journal Stem Cell Research & Therapy provides additional support for the concept that curcumin alone is not enough to explain the healing power of turmeric as a whole plant. The study found that a little known, fat-soluble component within turmeric – Ar-tumerone – may make “a promising candidate to support regeneration in neurologic disease.”

Titled, “Aromatic-turmerone induces neural stem cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo,” German researchers evaluated the effects of this turmeric-derived compound on neural stem cells (NSCs) – the subgroup of brain cells capable of continuous self-renewal required for brain repair.

The study found that when brain cells were exposed to ar-tumerone, neural stem cells increased in number through enhanced proliferation. Moreover, these newly formed neural stem cells also increased the number of fully differentiated neuronal cells, indicating a healing effect was taking place. This effect was also observed in a live animal model, showing that rats injected with ar-tumerone into their brains experienced increases in neural stem cell proliferation and the creation of newly formed healthy brain cells.

This study did not go unnoticed by major medical news channels. Here are some good reviews if you wish to explore the implications in greater depth:

The Turmeric Database Confirms It’s Brain-Saving Power!

As you may already know, our database is the world’s most extensive open access natural medical database on over 1,800 different natural substances, with over 1600 study abstracts on turmeric’s healing properties indexed thus far: view the Turmeric research page here to view!  If you take a look at the laundry list of over 600 diseases that this spice (or its components, e.g. curcumin) has been studied for to prevent and/or treat, the sheer volume of supportive literature is astounding. Amazingly, we have identified over 180 physiological pathways – according to their conventional pharmacological characterization, e.g. COX-2 inhibitor, Interleukin 6 down-regulator – by which turmeric or its components heals the human body.

The research clearly indicates that turmeric is a great brain supportive plant. For a more layperson oriented review, read the following articles:

How To Get The Most Out of Your Turmeric

One of the most frequent questions we field is ‘what is the best type of turmeric or curcumin to use’? Obviously, given the aforementioned research, the whole plant is going to carry a wider range of therapeutic compounds than curcumin alone. And yet, most have been heavily enculturated to focus entirely on the ‘how much’ question, opting to identify the molecular weight (i.e. how many milligrams in a serving) of a particular compound as more important than the qualitative dimensions (e.g. is it organic? It is delivered within its natural context as food or a whole plant?) which reflect the type of nutrigenomic information the substance contains, and therefore the ‘intelligence’ it embodies. To learn more about the intelligence of food watch my e-course ‘The Wisdom of Food.’

And really, there is no generic answer to a generic question about the best way to take turmeric/curcumin. The question always comes from an individual with a particular need, and so, recommendations must be bio-individualized.

For instance, if you have colonic inflammation or polyps, and you are trying to use turmeric to reduce inflammation there or regress precancerous growths, then using the whole plant is best versus a highly bioavailable form of curcumin in capsule form (e.g. Meriva), for instance, which will likely be absorbed by the small intestine and mostly pass through the liver never getting adequate quantities to the large intestine. So, in this person’s case taking a teaspoon of relatively difficult to absorb turmeric may result in painting the diseased surfaces of that person’s intestinal or colonic lumen with exactly the form needed to reverse disease.

But what if you have someone who wants to experience a systemic effect, say, for arthritis or for brain cancer? In these instances, getting turmeric compounds such as curcumin through the glucuronidation barrier in the liver with a phospholipid-bound or black pepper (piperine) combination could be ideal. There is certainly a place for the ‘nutraceutical’ model when properly applied, especially when provided as an adjuvant to the pharmaceutical model within an integrative medical setting.

Ultimately, the goal is not to wait to have such a serious health problem that you have to force yourself to take a ‘heroic dose’ of any herb or food extract. Better is to use small amounts in culinary doses in combination with ingredients that synergize on a physiochemical/informational and sensual basis (producing the all important vitamin P [pleasure] as well!). Recently we actually featured a study that showed culinary doses of rosemary helped improve memorywhereas higher ‘heroic’ doses impaired it!

This is why exploring the use of turmeric in curries, or by adding a pinch in a smoothie, may be an ideal daily supplementation approach, versus capsules, whose questionably ‘natural’ capsules and excipients all can add up to cause some stress on the liver you are trying to protect with these natural interventions.  Just remember quality is everything and less is more!

Androgen Deprivation Therapy and Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease: Importance of Holistic Geriatric Oncology Assessment

Nead et al1 have presented the results of a retrospective, nested, case-control study that demonstrated a statistically significantly increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in patients with prostate cancer who were treated with androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) compared with those who did not receive ADT. The authors highlight an important potential association between two common conditions in older men—prostate cancer and AD. A true causal link between treatment with ADT for prostate cancer and an increased incidence of AD has significant public health implications.

The authors address some limitations of their study. The mean age difference of the two populations under study, that is, 70.9 years for the ADT group and 66.7 years for the non-ADT group (P < .001), must be highlighted in our view. This age difference is fundamentally important as AD is a disease of aging, with incidence doubling every 5 years after age 65 years.2 Those who received ADT were an older population and could be considered to be at higher risk of AD as a result of age alone.

ADT has a potential pathophysiologic pathway to AD, which has been highlighted in recent years3,4; however, brain health is closely linked to overall cardiovascular health, and factors that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease are associated with a greater risk of dementia. ADT has been linked with cardiovascular disease, hyperlipidemia, and diabetes mellitus.5 All these are conditions increase the risk of AD, as shown by Nead et al.1

Determination of the causality of AD is therefore increasingly more complex, and the possible impact of cardiovascular disease cannot be underestimated. Age, cardiovascular risk, AD, prostate cancer, and ADT are overlapping risk factors, and to determine an association between AD and ADT is far more complex than the authors acknowledge.

This article underscores the importance of developing the subspecialty of geriatric oncology. Geriatric medicine principles and a comprehensive geriatric assessment can uncover numerous health problems in older patients with cancer and can influence treatment decisions.6 Identifying comorbid conditions and physiologic changes as a result of aging allows better assessment of risks and benefits and appropriate adjustment of treatment.

We would advocate a collaborative, patient-centered approach between geriatricians and oncologists in the management of all older patients with cancer. The results of Nead et al1 support the need for a holistic approach to identify baseline comorbid disease, cognition, cardiovascular, and dementia risks as well as to have a longer-term follow-up screening for cognitive problems for older patients with prostate cancer to help our patients achieve the best possible outcomes.

Therapeutic Strategies for Patients With Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma in Whom First-Line Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor Receptor–Directed Therapies Fail

Metastases are present in one third of renal cell carcinomas at diagnosis. The overall survival duration in metastatic renal cell carcinoma is approximately 22 months, which underlines the need for more effective systemic treatments. Therapies on the basis of antiangiogenic agents and inhibitors of the mammalian target of rapamycin have been approved for treatment of metastatic renal cell carcinoma, but only benefits for progression-free survival were demonstrated in the second-line setting. Fortunately, promising treatments are emerging, from new antiangiogenic agents to immune checkpoint inhibitors. For the first time, both an immune checkpoint inhibitor (nivolumab) and a dual inhibitor of the tyrosine kinases c-Met and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2 (cabozantinib) have demonstrated improvements in overall survival in the second-line setting. Finding the best sequence for these novel agents will be crucial to improving outcomes in patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma. This article comprises both a systematic review of the literature and recommendations for second-line therapeutic strategies for patients with metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma in whom inhibitors of vascular endothelial growth factor have failed.

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