I speak to large groups around the state every month. One of the key topics I take questions on is, “What vitamins & herbs should I be taking?’. This is a hard question to answer since everyone is a unique individual. I had this illustrated to me quite graphically at a picnic one year. Two cousins ate some cookies off the table containing penuts. One boy happily munched away while the second fell deathly ill from an allergic analphylatic reaction and it was only quick intervention that saved his life.
There is an old saying going around that was never more true: “The food we eat can be the strongest medicine or the slowest poison.”
So what is a patient to do if he or she wants to move away from prescription drugs and lead a more natural life? The best answer is to consult a holopathic doctor with experience and breadth of knoweldge that can take a careful case history and evaluate you as an individual. But there are a few guidelines that can assist. Keep in mind that much of this information is buried. There is not much incentive for big pharmacy to educate you away from the billion dollar a year industry that stantins, HRT, BP, diabetes and other daily wonder drugs represent.
Patients with a history of heart disease could benefit greatly by taking grape seed extract containing resveratrol. Resveratrol , the ingredient in red wine that gives it its health benefits, has been demonstrated in studies to reduce artery clogging plaque that leads to coronary disease. It also has been linked by research as an anti-aging compound that crosses the blood-brain barrier and may be implicated in protecting against Alzheimer`s disease.
Right now statins and other cholesterol lowering drugs are big. One time it was even suggested that children as young as ten with family history should be placed on a lifetime dose of statins to ‘protect’ them from future heart disease (an idea that was shouted down). So where can one turn if turning away from these side effect laden drugs? It has been known for a long time that vitamin B2, niacin, is very effective in lowering cholesterol. In fact some prescription cholesterol preparations also contain niacin. The chief drawback is niacin induced ‘flushing’ as this supplement causes vasodilatation which, in some people, can be uncomfortable. This can be minimized by taking the extended release version of niacin. Other steps include adding just 20 minutes of exercise to your daily routine to help reduce LDL –the Low Density Lipoprotein known as ‘Bad Cholesterol’.. This can be accomplished simply by getting into the habit of parking at the outer edge of lots when out shopping and making stops and walking the extra distance. Other sources for cholesterol lowering substances include garlic and increasing dietary bran. The most effective lifestyle change is to quit smoking.
Diabetes is one of those horrible afflictions that is relatively easy to prevent yet progressively difficult to treat as it advances. The problem is our pancreas was never designed to handle the level of refined sugar available on a daily basis in our society. This ‘sugar’ glut is the primary reason Amercians are fat and can’t seem to do anything about it. There is no doubt about it, refined sugar is nothing more than white poison. The news lately has been filled with stories of the government wanting to regulate sugar as a toxic substance. Even the mayor of New York is trying to pass ordinances limiting the large sizes of sugary soft drinks. Ever wonder why most movie theaters and convenience stores want to ‘Supersize or Big Gulp” your drinks for a few cents more? It is because they know these carbonated beverages stimulate your appetite and you are liable to add that $5 hot dog or extra large six dollar popcorn to your order!
So if you are worried about developing diabetes, or even if you already are diabetic, what can you do from a nutritional standpoint? It is important to have an understanding about how diabetes develops. When you eat carbohydrates they are converted to sugar and absorbed. The pancreas releases insulin on demand to process this sugar in the bloodstream. Large amounts of sugar in the blood tax the pancreas ability to produce insulin and the large amount of insulin actually becomes toxic to the cells that produce it. This excess insulin slowly kills the pancreas cells that produce them. When enough pancreas cells die you lack the ability to produce enough insulin to process the sugar you continue to eat and the result is diabetes. In our office the entire goal of treating diabetic patients is to preserve the remaining cells and reduce the bodies need for insulin.
Probably the number one supplement we like to prescribe in our practice for people with diabetes is chromium. Chromium, in the form of chromium picolinate, has been shown to help assist in glucose metabolism in pre & post diabetic patients. It has the added benefit of being an appetite suppressant. Other supplementation may include Coenzyme Q10 which is a vitamin-like substance that helps cells make energy and acts as an antioxidant as well as the mineral Magnesium which is involved with dozens of crucial functions in the body, including handling blood glucose.
Everyone has a kitchen cabinet full of half empty nutritional supplement vials…stuff bought because they saw it on a TV show or read about some ;’magic vitamin’ in a family magazine…pills taken for awhile and eventually forgotten to accumulate with other ‘lost vials’ in the cabinet. The problem is there is no ‘one size fits all’ recipe when it comes to supplementation. Like the little boy at the picnic, each patient needs their own specific workup and guidance to live healthier.
And no matter how good your supplement regime is, if you continue consuming fast foods, sugar laden drinks & greasy fare, you are only slightly slowing the spread of poison throughout your system.
Dr. Schwan is available to speak to your group on a wide variety of alternative health topics. He is a Doctor of Chiropractic and a Diplomat of the International Academy of Medical Acupuncture. He is an author, lecturer, and one time stand-up comedian. He has maintained an active practice in Toledo, OH for the last 29 years. He may be contacted at Dr_Schwan@acupuncturetoledo.com. For more information on Alternative medicine please visit our website at www.acupuncturetoledo.com.