Saw Palmetto for Prostate Health

By Laurel Sterling, MA, RD155472626

Saw Palmetto is an herb typically associated with alleviating issues associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is widely used in many formulas for prostate health along with a variety of other compounds such as: stinging nettle, lycopene, green tea, selenium, zinc, vitamin D3, phytosterols, and pumpkin seed oil.

BPH is a nonmalignant enlargement of the prostate. The enlargement of the prostate leads to a narrowing of the urethra. Common signs and symptoms of BPH include: decreased force and stream of flow, dribbling after urination, increased frequency of urination, increased nighttime urination (nocturia), and occasionally painful urination (dysuria).

How do they believe that saw palmetto works? It is believed that the liposterolic (fat-soluble) extract of saw palmetto berries induces inhibition of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) binding to prostate cellular receptors, inhibition of 5-alpha-reductase, and interference with prostate estrogen receptors. Most experts believe DHT to be a major factor in the cause of less-than-optimal prostate health and prostate enlargement. Testosterone is metabolized in your body to DHT, and the enzyme that is responsible for converting testosterone to DHT is called 5-alpha-reductase (Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci.May 2012).

Many clinical studies over the years (30-90 days in length) have demonstrated a significant difference in urine flow, volume voided, dysuria, nocturia, etc. after taking saw palmetto. They have also seen that roughly 90% of men that have mild-moderate BPH feel some improvement in only four to six weeks! More recent clinical studies have observed saw palmetto’s use from six to around twelve months. In a relatively recent study, researchers compared saw palmetto 320 mg/day (Permixon) to the drug Proscar at 5mg/day. There were similar decreases in many of the symptoms of BPH, but saw palmetto did not have the side effect of erectile dysfunction that the drug did. Another similar study using saw palmetto and nettle root (Prostagutt forte) and the drug Proscar came up with similar findings.

There are no known interactions with this herb, but note that most of the clinical trials excluded men taking diuretics, alpha blockers, and anticoagulants. Possible side effects are mild gastrointestinal disturbances. NOTE: Because saw palmetto is used for mild to moderate BPH stages I and II, it is contraindicated with advanced BPH. BPH should be diagnosed by a certified healthcare practitioner or physician.

Recommended use is to take 320 mg of saw palmetto berry extract (standardized to 85%-95% fatty acids and sterols), all at once or in two divided doses with meals. Use at least six months to determine its effectiveness.

Black Cohosh For Easing Menopause Symptoms

By Laurel Sterling, MA, RD86531501

Black cohosh is an herb that is mainly associated with assisting hot flashes. I have numerous clients using black cohosh per their doctor’s, friend’s, sister’s, television, etc. recommendation. I have seen that it works for some… and not for others.

Black cohosh is typically used for a wide variety of women’s health conditions related to menopause. It has emerged in the last 25 years as the most-studied herbal alternative for menopause to use in place of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). There have been approximately 100 studies on its use with menopause resulting in mixed reviews, particularly related to its efficacy in alleviating hot flashes. Despite two negative studies in 2006, most study findings and anecdotal evidence show its effectiveness for hot flashes, mood swings, and sleep issues.

The jury is still out on how exactly it works. Early studies found it to have estrogenic activity; however, more recent studies have demonstrated that it does not have phytoestrogens in it. More recent theories are that it has an effect on serotonin levels. I have seen many of my clients that had been put on antidepressants from their doctor solely for ameliorating hot flashes, and it works for many. However, these meds have other side effects and are difficult to get off once on them. So if black cohosh has this ability to inhibit serotonin reuptake, this may be how it helps decrease hot flashes.

Very occasional adverse side effects are gastrointestinal discomfort, headache, nausea, vomiting, and vertigo. The average recommended dose of standardized extract is 40-80 mg per day. The dosage used in most clinical trials to date is 20-40 mg of the standardized extract twice daily. Standardized liquid extract ½-1 tsp twice per day. Results are usually seen within four weeks. Black cohosh can be used safely with hormone therapy if one is on HRT, and lower doses of HRT can be achieved along with black cohosh.

Tackling Inflammation with Supplements

By Jennifer Morganti, ND178574086

You can’t feel it and you can’t see it, but inflammation has an insidious and damaging effect that can cause some serious health issues. Inflammation is at the root cause of joint pain and arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s Disease, autoimmune diseases, intestinal conditions, and a long list of other problems. The typical American diet, lacking omega-3 fatty acids and chockfull of sugar and bad fats, fans the fire for inflammation, along with food allergies and toxic burdens. Addressing these concerns by eliminating junk foods, identifying food allergies, and detoxing are all important steps to start dampening inflammation. There are also some key supplements you can incorporate to see a big boost in your health.

Curcumin, derived from the Indian spice turmeric, is one of the top-selling anti-inflammatory supplements, and with good reason. A variety of research has shown that it reduces key inflammatory substances, such as COX-2 and certain cytokines that cause pain, in a method similar to anti-inflammatory medications without the side effects. It crosses the blood-brain-barrier and has been shown in animal studies to aid in digestion of amyloid plaques, the offender implicated in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). As possible proof, in India, where curry consumption is significant, there are much lower rates of AD than in the U.S.

Magnesium is another key nutrient for lowering chronic inflammation, supported by the fact that it lowers C-reactive protein (CRP). CRP is a marker for systemic inflammation, and is an important predictor for cardiovascular disease such as atherosclerosis. In a large study, people who had low magnesium intake (from food and supplements) were found to be 40% more likely to have elevated CRP levels. It is not clear how magnesium minimizes inflammation; however, scientists do know that magnesium is a co-factor critical to many biochemical pathways, so it may be that optimal functioning of metabolic pathways keeps inflammation in check.

One last, but possibly most important recommendation is omega-3 oil. The American diet is typically severely deficient in this type of fat, and overloaded with omega 6, 9, and bad fats such as saturated and trans fats. This resulting imbalance has an exponentially-damaging effect by constantly pushing a pro-inflammatory system. The only way to rebalance the system is reduce the dominant fats, and increase omega-3 intake. Fish oil is the most common source of omega-3, but there are other sources such as flax seed oil and krill. People with omega-3 deficiencies commonly experience dry skin, dry scalp, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, or heart disease.

By addressing inflammation through diet, lifestyle, and supplementation, you could potentially be aiding in the prevention of dozens of health ailments.

Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10): An Essential Supplement Especially for those on Statins

By the Natur-Tyme Wellness Team87717861_Small

A nutrient commonly depleted by medications is CoQ10. With Lipitor® being the leading selling prescription drug in the United States, one can see why. Lipitor® (Atorvastatin) along with Zocor® (Simvastatin), Mevacor® (Lovastatin), Pravachol® (Pravastatin), Lescol® (fluvastatin), Crestor® (rosuvastatin), and Vytorin® (ezetimibe/simvastatin), also known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors or statin drugs, decrease the production of cholesterol, but they also decrease this very important cofactor naturally produced by the body. Other medications have also been implicated in CoQ10 depletion.

CoQ10 is necessary for the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which makes energy, is a cofactor necessary for cellular respiration, and an antioxidant.

Some of the consequences of CoQ10 depletion include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Periodontal disease
  • Weakened immunity
  • Loss of cognitive function (Alzheimers, Dementia, Parkinsons)

There are many animal and human studies demonstrating the effectiveness of this coenzyme. A double-blind, three-year trial involved administering 100 mg of CoQ10 daily to patients suffering from cardiomyopathy. Results showed a significant increase in ejection fraction (the amount of blood pumped through the heart), increased cardiac muscle strength, and fewer instances of shortness of breath by the 12-week mark. The effects lasted only as long as CoQ10 was being administered. There was 89% improvement in the 80 patients treated.

A direct correlation of CoQ10 deficiency with increased risk of periodontal disease has been established. Symptoms include swelling, bleeding, loose teeth, redness, pain, deep gingival pockets, and exudates.

Tissues involved with immune function require a significant amount of energy. CoQ10 has an “immune enhancing” effect on the human body according to a study that showed an increased immunoglobulin G in the serum of patients taking the nutritional supplement daily for 27 to 98 days. Improving immune function is necessary when treating AIDS, chronic infections (Candidiasis), and cancer. There are no adverse interactions between CoQ10 and any other drug or nutrient.

CoQ10 is typically dosed at 50-300 mg/day, although doses of over 3,000 mg daily have been proven safe and effective. It works very well in conjunction with vitamin E and L-carnitine.

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