- Dr Mercola on the Real Causes of Acid Reflux 2
- Dr Mercola Interviews David Wolfe on Healthy Habits Part 7 of 8 2
- Dr. Mercola Interviews Sharyl Attkisson About Media Obstruction
- Wholistic Kafe Radio Show (Dr Mercola – Effortless Healing) 12th Episode 4-2-15
- Dr Mercola Interviews David Wolfe on Healthy Habits Part 3 of 8
- May 2015
- April 2015
- March 2015
- February 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- November 2014
- October 2014
- September 2014
- August 2014
- July 2014
- June 2014
- May 2014
- April 2014
- March 2014
- February 2014
- January 2014
- December 2013
- November 2013
- October 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
Monthly Archives: February 2012
Causes irritability, restlessness, agitation, aggressiveness, unclear thinking, suicides and now murders too. Antidepressant Drugs: He Murdered a Friend After Taking Prozac www.sott.net articles.mercola.com www.youtube.com www.youtube.com
This short, award winning film shows how multiple lives can be affected with just one dollar — and the right person.
By Dr. Mercola
A Canadian judge has ruled that a teenage boy murdered his friend because of the effects of Prozac.
The ruling will not be appealed.
The decision has revived the debate regarding the widespread prescription of antidepressants to young people.
Justice Robert Heinrichs ruled that the 15-year-old boy was under the influence of the medication when he stabbed and killed a close friend.
He was sentenced to 10 months on top of the two years he had already spent in jail.
“Prozac is meant to curb the effects of depression, but Justice Heinrich concluded it set off a steady deterioration in the young murderer’s behavior,” CCHR1 reports.
“He had become irritable, restless, agitated, aggressive and unclear in his thinking,” the judge said.
“It was while in that state he overreacted in an impulsive, explosive and violent way. Now that his body and mind are free and clear of any effects of Prozac, he is simply not the same youth in behavior or character.”
Should Antidepressants Carry Black Box Warning for Homicidal Tendencies?
In 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decided SSRI antidepressants must carry a black box warning that the drug can cause suicidal tendencies. But what about violence and homicidal tendencies? Despite mounting evidence that antidepressants and certain other drugs can induce violent behavior and has led to the tragic death of spouses, family members and friends, the FDA has done nothing to warn or curb the use of such drugs.
According to CCHR2:
“It is well documented that psychiatric drugs, particularly antidepressants, can cause a host of violent side effects including mania, psychosis, aggression, violence, and in the case of the antidepressant Effexor, homicidal ideation … [P]eople with no prior history of violence (or suicide) became homicidal and suicidal under the influence of antidepressants. … However, despite all the documented violence-inducing side effects of these drugs, the FDA has never issued black box warnings on antidepressants causing violence or homicide despite the fact that at least 11 recent school shootings were committed by kids documented to be on or in withdrawal from psychiatric drugs.”
The expert testimony in this case was supplied by Dr. Peter Breggin, an outspoken critic of psychiatric drugs. The featured article quotes him as saying:
“These drugs produce a stimulant or activation continuum… That continuum includes aggression, hostility, loss of impulse control … all of which are a prescription for violence.”
Other still feel the link between antidepressants and homicide is thin, but I can’t help but wonder if that’s just because they’re refusing to look at the evidence and give it the attention it deserves. The CCHR website includes a helpful search feature3, allowing you to search for all sorts of reports and research relating to psychiatric drugs and their side effects. It took 13 years before the FDA finally agreed SSRI’s can cause suicidal thoughts and behavior. How many decades-worth of evidence will have to mount up before the apparent link to uncontrolled violence and homicide is addressed?
Your Genes May Predispose You to Homicidal Side Effects of Antidepressants
Interestingly, in related news, a 2011 study published in Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine4 has found that certain genes may predispose you to homicidal behavior following exposure to antidepressants. Both sudden withdrawal from antidepressants and continuing to take them was found to worsen the problem. According to the study’s authors:
“… The results presented here concerning a sample of persons given antidepressants for psychosocial distress demonstrate the extent to which the psychopharmacology industry has expanded its influence beyond its ability to cure.
… [T]he Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (Star *D) study … found that antidepressants were only marginally (2.7%) more efficacious compared with placebos. The same meta-analyses documented profound publication bias, inflating their apparent efficacy as well as bias in failing to report the negative results … The authors argue for a reappraisal of the current recommended standard of care of depression.” [Emphasis mine]
What they discovered is that many people being treated with antidepressants can’t metabolize them due to common genetic mutations, which can cause severe drug interactions and akathisia (a movement disorder characterized by a feeling of inner restlessness). Some researchers and physicians believe that akathisia is the chief symptom that triggers impulsive violence in certain individuals who take antidepressant drugs. This is thought to be an extreme form of akathisia. Homicidal impulses and murderous behavior due to akathisia is now being called “homicidal akathisia.”
Forensic psychiatrist and lead author of the study, Dr. Yolande Lucire, is now campaigning to introduce ways of minimizing over-prescription of antidepressants by taking genetics into account. Of 129 subjects, more than 120 of them were diagnosed with akathisia/serotonin toxicity caused by psychiatric medications. The authors further explain:
“They were tested for variant alleles in CYP450 genes, which play a major role in Phase 1 metabolism of all antidepressant and many other medications. Eight had committed homicide and many more became extremely violent while on antidepressants. … All those described [in the paper] were able to stop taking antidepressants and return to their previously normal personalities.”
Antidepressants Top List of Most Violence-Inducing Drugs
It’s certainly worth paying heed to drug interactions such as violence and homicidal leanings, both as a patient and as a concerned parent, family member or friend. According to a 2010 study published in the journal PLoS One5, half of the top 10 drugs disproportionately linked with violent behavior are antidepressants:
- Varenicline (Chantix): The number one violence-inducing drug on the list, this anti-smoking medication is 18 times more likely to be linked with violence when compared to other drugs
- Fluoxetine (Prozac): This drug was the first well-known SSRI antidepressant
- Paroxetine (Paxil): Another SSRI antidepressant, Paxil is also linked with severe withdrawal symptoms and a risk of birth defects
- Amphetamines: (Various): Used to treat ADHD
- Mefoquine (Lariam): A treatment for malaria which is often linked with reports of strange behavior
- Atomoxetine (Strattera): An ADHD drug that affects the neurotransmitter noradrenaline
- Triazolam (Halcion): This potentially addictive drug is used to treat insomnia
- Fluvoxamine (Luvox): Another SSRI antidepressant
- Venlafaxine (Effexor): An antidepressant also used to treat anxiety disorders
- Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq): An antidepressant which affects both serotonin and noradrenaline
Is Usage of these Drugs Ever Appropriate?
Depression, or more accurately, un-repaired emotional short-circuiting, can absolutely devastate your health and life. However, using antidepressants as the primary (or only) treatment option is simply not advisable, especially if the one suffering from depression is a child or teenager. Whereas severe depression can indeed progress to suicide if left untreated, antidepressant drugs have been shown to CAUSE both suicidal and homicidal thoughts and behaviors. As mentioned in the featured report, at least 11 tragic school shootings were done by children who were either on antidepressants, or going through withdrawal…
I believe this is an enormous price to pay for what amounts to highly questionable benefits.
Studies have found that up to 75 percent of the benefits of antidepressants could be duplicated by a placebo. So not only do these drugs not work as advertised, but the evidence is quite clear that most of these drugs do in fact increase your risk of suicide and violence. Since depression can be a terminal illness, why take a drug that will actually increase your risk of killing yourself—or someone else?
Please understand that I am not seeking to diminish the impact of mental illness. It is massively pervasive and responsible for tens of thousands of deaths every year and needless suffering in millions of others.
My clinical experience leads me to believe that the only appropriate use of these dangerous medications is as a last ditch effort when the patient is at a serious risk to themselves or others. (And, of course, they must be closely monitored for lethal side effects such as suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts and tendencies!) The drugs should be continued until the condition is under control and they are out of harm’s way, and then carefully weaned. This is a very similar strategy to going to the ER and seeing an orthopedic surgeon for a cast when you’ve fractured a major bone.
You don’t use that cast the rest of your life. You use it until your bone is healed.
The REAL tragedy is that most of the drug companies do NOT view antidepressants this way. There are enormous marketing efforts to classify normal behavior as aberrant or diseased, which then requires lifelong therapy with their drug solution.
How to Address the Root Cause of the Problem
I strongly believe that energy psychology is one of the most powerful tools for resolving emotional issues—specifically a technique called EFT—and I’ll be talking more about that in a moment.
But diet and general lifestyle are clearly parts of the “root” that must be healed if you want to resolve mental health issues. For example, mounting evidence tells us that having a healthy gut is profoundly important for both physical and mental health, and the latter can be severely impacted by an imbalance of intestinal bacteria. I strongly recommend addressing the following lifestyle factors if you’re suffering from depression or any other mental health problem.
- Dramatically decrease your consumption of sugar (particularly fructose), grains, and processed foods. (In addition to being high in sugar and grains, processed foods also contain a variety of additives that can affect your brain function and mental state, especially MSG, and artificial sweeteners such as aspartame.) There’s a great book on this subject, The Sugar Blues, written by William Dufty more than 30 years ago, that delves into the topic of sugar and mental health in great detail.
- Increase consumption of probiotic foods, such as fermented vegetables and kefir, to promote healthy gut flora
- Get adequate vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency can contribute to depression and affects one in four people.
- Optimize your vitamin D levels, ideally through regular sun exposure. Vitamin D is very important for your mood. In one study, people with the lowest levels of vitamin D were found to be 11 times more prone to be depressed than those who had normal levels.6
The best way to get vitamin D is through safe exposure to SUNSHINE. Remember, SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a type of depression that we know is related to sunshine deficiency, so it would make sense that the perfect way to optimize your vitamin D is through sun exposure, or a safe tanning bed if you don’t have regular access to the sun.
- Get plenty of animal-based omega-3 fats. Many people don’t realize that their brain is 60 percent fat, but not just any fat. It is DHA, an animal based omega-3 fat which, along with EPA, is crucial for good brain function and mental health7. Unfortunately, most people don’t get enough from diet alone. Make sure you take a high-quality omega-3 fat, such as krill oil.
Dr. Stoll, a Harvard psychiatrist, was one of the early leaders in compiling the evidence supporting the use of animal based omega-3 fats for the treatment of depression. He wrote an excellent book that details his experience in this area called The Omega-3 Connection.
- Evaluate your salt intake. Sodium deficiency actually creates symptoms that are very much like those of depression. Make sure you do NOT use processed salt (regular table salt), however. You’ll want to use an all natural, unprocessed salt like Himalayan salt, which contains more than 80 different micronutrients.
- Get adequate daily exercise, which is one of the best-kept secrets to preventing and overcoming depression.
- Get adequate amounts of sleep. You can have the best diet and exercise program possible but if you aren’t sleeping well you can easily become depressed. Sleep and depression are so intimately linked that a sleep disorder is actually part of the definition of the symptom complex that gives the label depression.
New Research Shines Light on the Benefits of EFT
Additionally, it’s imperative to address any underlying emotional issues. I have been a fan of energy psychology for many years, having witnessed its effectiveness in my medical practice and in my own personal life. EFT, as opposed to drugs and supplements, hits at the root of the problem—even if you don’t know exactly what that is. This is the beauty of energy medicine in general—and anyone can learn to apply EFT to themselves, even a young child.
In the following videos, Julie Schiffman, a licensed EFT practitioner at my Center for Natural Health in Chicago, guides you through how to tap for headaches and other pain. As you will see, by simply altering your statements you can use this tapping technique to address virtually any ailment you may be experiencing at any point in time.
Unfortunately, studies have been few and far in-between as science has been trying to “catch up” with clinical experience. But all of that is changing now!
Before I go any further, I want to stress the importance of getting professional help if you suffer from depression, and that includes seeing a qualified EFT therapist. Although you can learn how to do EFT in a few minutes it can take years to apply it effectively. The best therapists are typically those with conventional psychological training who have studied this in addition to conventional methods. There are times where hospital admission may be necessary to prevent a suicide attempt and untrained therapists will not be able to discern this danger.
If the first therapist can’t help you, I recommend seeking out another. Getting a second opinion is pretty standard when it comes to medicine, and this is no different. The connection between you and your doctor or therapist can have a great influence on the success of your treatment or therapy.
As for the success rate of EFT, several studies have recently been published, demonstrating just how safe and effective EFT really is. For example, the following three studies show remarkable progress in a very short amount of time for people with a history of trauma:
- A 2009 study of 16 institutionalized adolescent boys with histories of physical or psychological abuse showed substantially decreased intensity of traumatic memories after just ONE session of EFT.
- An EFT study involving 30 moderately to severely depressed college students was conducted. The depressed students were given four 90-minute EFT sessions. Students who received EFT showed significantly less depression than the control group when evaluated three weeks later.
- A study of 100 veterans with severe PTSD (Iraq Vets Stress Project) showed an astounding reduction of symptoms after just six one-hour EFT sessions. After completing six sessions, 90 percent of the veterans had such a reduction in symptoms that they no longer met the clinical criteria for PTSD. Sixty percent no longer met PTSD criteria after only three EFT sessions. At the three-month follow-up, the gains remained stable, suggesting lasting and potentially permanent resolution of the problem.
[The Iraq Stress Project is still recruiting veteran volunteers. If you are a veteran and interested in participating, you can get more information here.]
Operation Emotional Freedom
In a new documentary film entitled Operation: Emotional Freedom, directed by Eric Huurre, a number of Veterans and their families went through intensive therapy using EFT. The results were truly astounding. EFT developer Gary Craig, along with other EFT practitioners worked very closely with Veterans who recently returned home from war. They were all suffering from PTSD, depression, anxiety and a few were suicidal.
At the end of treatment, each one of them describes a new feeling of peace and hope that there is help and they were able to overcome emotional traumas experienced in combat.
This film is a close look at the current state of health care for combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD. The film is about examining the myths and misconceptions surrounding the medical/chemical approach to treating emotional conditions and why drugs are not “the answer” that pharmaceuticals promise. Instead, the story follows this group of volunteer Vets and their families on a journey from the hell of their post-war experiences through a newer vision of health and recovery for PTSD and trauma.
Visit the official website www.operation-emotionalfreedom.com to learn more about efforts to assist veterans and their families through energy psychology.
Clearly, energy psychology beats pharmaceuticals HANDS DOWN as a safer, more effective, longer-lasting treatment for stress and emotional problems. And there have been EFT successes with a wide range of other issues—both emotional and physical. EFT is easy to learn, no matter what your age—children included—so I encourage you to add it to your stress-busting tool kit.
In closing, please remember that your emotional health is intimately connected with your physical health, which is largely controlled by diet and lifestyle choices and your reactions to stress. These daily habits have enormous impact, whether you want to overcome depression or just continue enjoying great health. So please, actively investigate and consider the natural treatments I’ve suggested above, ideally with the support and guidance of a knowledgeable natural medicine friendly healthcare practitioner.
Important Concluding Thoughts…
I want to make something abundantly clear before I leave you. I know firsthand that depression is devastating. It takes a toll on the healthiest of families and can destroy lifelong friendships. Few things are harder in life than watching someone you love lose their sense of joy, hope, and purpose in life, and wonder if they will ever find it again. And to not have anything within your power that can change things for them. You wonder if you will ever have your loved one “back” again.
It’s impossible to impart the will to live to somebody who no longer possesses it. No amount of logic, reasoning, or reminders about all they have to live for will put a smile back on the face of a loved one masked by the black cloud of depression.
Oftentimes you cannot change your circumstances. You can, however, change your response to them. I encourage you to be balanced in your life. Don’t ignore your body’s warning signs that something needs to change. Sometimes people are so busy taking care of everybody else that they lose sight of themselves.
There are times when a prescription drug may help restore balance to your body. But it’s unclear whether it is the drug providing benefits, or the unbelievable power of your mind that is convinced it is going to work.
If you have been personally affected by depression, my heart goes out to you.
A broken body can be easier to fix than a broken mind. Depression is real. It is my hope that you don’t feel judged here, but that you are encouraged and inspired by those who have been there.
- 1 CCHR December 7, 2011
- 2 CCHR December 7, 2011
- 3 CCHR International Warnings and Studies on Psychiatric Drugs Search Engine
- 4 Antidepressant-induced akathisia-related homicides associated with diminishing mutations in metabolizing genes of the CYP450 family, Yolande Lucire and Christopher Crotty, Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine July 29, 2011
- 5 PLoS One December 15, 2010; 5(12)
- 6 American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry December 2006; 14(12): 1032-1040
- 7 Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Mental Health, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Evidence Report/Technology Assessment: Number 116
By Dr. Mercola
Adult stem cells (as opposed to embryonic stem cells, which are at the heart of the stem cell controversy) are a truly exciting part of the future of medicine, with seemingly limitless potential for anti-aging, arthritis and far more…
But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is attempting to regulate stem cell procedures at a Colorado clinic, stating that stem cells are drugs that fall under FDA jurisdiction.
Outrageously, the FDA is making this claim even though the stem cells being used in the procedure come from the patient’s own body, which means they are essentially claiming that they can regulate a part of your body.
What Makes Stem Cell Treatments so Exciting?
What makes stem cells so special is their potential to develop into many different cell types.
When a stem cell divides, it either becomes another type of cell, such as a muscle cell or cartilage, or it remains a stem cell.
Furthermore, these cells act as an internal repair system in many types of tissues, dividing a seemingly indefinite number of times to replenish other cells.
As you age, your stem cells diminish in quality and quantity, so just when you require strong stem cells the most, you’re becoming increasingly deficient. Hence your organs and tissues eventually wear out and need to be restored or replaced.
The procedure in question by the FDA is known as Regenexx-C™. It involves taking a sample of your blood and bone marrow, and using a centrifuge machine to separate out the stem cells. The cells are then cultured to create more cells before they are injected back into your body to help with tissue repair. It is the fact that the cells are cultured that the FDA has attacked, saying this makes them “unregulated drugs.”
As a result the clinic now only offers the procedure outside of the United States, whereas within U.S. borders they use a similar procedure that is done in one day and does not involve culturing. This, reportedly, is less effective because fewer stem cells are delivered to the injury site. As for the promise of stem cell treatments in treating osteoarthritis pain, the positive results appear to be significant, including:
- Increases in cartilage volume in joints
- Up to 75 percent pain reduction in osteoarthritis
- Avoidance of surgery among patients previously told they would require total knee replacement surgery
Can the FDA Regulate Your Own Stem Cells?
While it would seem impossible for the FDA to claim authority over cells that come from your own body, the FDA has used the culturing process to gain a foothold in their attempts to label stem cells as unregulated drugs. In what the Alliance for Natural Health has called an “outrageous power-grab,” the FDA has claimed that the stem cells used for the Regenexx-C™ procedure are subject to their regulation because they are cultured to increase their numbers.
Furthermore, they also claim the clinic is engaging in interstate commerce because some of the components for the procedure are shipped in from out of state. This, the FDA claims, also makes it subject to FDA approval (the FDA has used a similar interstate commerce strategy to crack down on raw milk). According to the FDA:i
“FDA cautions consumers to make sure that any stem cell treatment they are considering has been approved by FDA or is being studied under a clinical investigation that has been submitted to and allowed to proceed by FDA. FDA has approved only one stem cell product, Hemacord, a cord blood-derived product manufactured by the New York Blood Center and used for specified indications in patients with disorders affecting the body’s blood-forming system.”
Stem cell treatments likely represent one of the exciting promises for the future of medicine. If stems cells can be directed to turn into specific cell types, they could offer an ongoing source of replacement cells and tissues, and be used to treat diseases above and beyond arthritis and joint pain, including spinal cord injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and stroke, just to name several.
There’s little risk of rejection when using your own adult stem cells and side effects appear to be minimal. The largest safety concern is the possibility that the cells could migrate from their injection site and possibly change into inappropriate cell types or grow excessively, leading to tumors. As stem cell treatment is still being developed, this concern needs to be researched further. Whether the FDA should be able to weigh in on the matter is another issue entirely, as again adult stem cells from your own body are your own property. As Alliance for Natural Health reported, it seems once again the FDA is seeking to regulate a product more for its own financial gain, and to protect the drug industry, than for public health. In court documents it’s stated:
“Moreover, interstate commerce is substantially affected because individuals traveling to Colorado to have the Regenexx procedure would “depress the market for out-of-state drugs that are approved by FDA.”"
Is the FDA Really Looking Out for Your Health?
The FDA has a sordid history of attacking natural products and procedures that threaten to interfere with big business, including pharmaceuticals, agriculture and more, while allowing obviously harmful products to remain on the market. Here are but a few examples:
- In December 2011, the FDA reneged on its plan to withdrawal approval of penicillin and tetracycline antibiotics intended for use in food-producing animal feed – a measure it had been planning since 1977.
- In September 2011, the FDA issued a proposed draft policy on dietary supplements that could effectively kill your right to purchase nearly all of your favorite natural vitamins and supplements; the proposed policy treats vitamins and other supplements as if they are drugs but many manufacturers will not be able to afford the FDA drug trial process. This could either force supplement companies out of business or make supplements so expensive you won’t be able to afford them.
- The FDA has been fighting a war against raw milk, which is really an unconstitutional assault on one of your most basic rights, i.e. your right to choose what you want to eat and drink; they have stated that Americans have “no absolute right to consume or feed children any particular food.”
- The FDA has long been the world’s number one supporter of mercury fillings (amalgams), despite the evidence showing the health hazards of mercury; after making repeated promises to make an announcement about dental amalgam by the end of 2011, they let the deadline pass by unmet.
- The FDA sent a warning letter to Diamond Food for making truthful, scientifically backed health claims about the health benefits of omega-3 fats in walnuts. Because the research cited health claims that omega-3 fats in walnuts may prevent or protect against disease, the FDA said walnuts would be considered “new drugs” and as such would require a new drug application to become FDA-approved.
Knowledge truly is power, so the more you know about the real motives behind the FDA approval process, the better you’ll be able to make informed health care decisions, especially if you’re looking for alternatives to drugs and surgery. The FDA has gone after vitamin C. They’ve gone after raw milk, supplements, cherries and walnuts. And now they’re going after your own cells in an effort to protect drug industry profits…
Stay tuned for more on this topic as the events unfold. The reality is that as people become more educated stem cell therapy and other forms of regenerative medicine are only going to continue to grow.
Dr Mercola talks to Jeffery Smith talk about the dangers of GMO foods Tell others about this video
By Dr. Mercola
Chronic pain is an exceedingly common condition impacting an estimated 76.5 million Americans, one-third of whom describe their pain as severe and “disabling”.i
Among them, many suffer from neck pain, which is the third most common type of pain according to the American Pain Foundation.
It is estimated that 70 percent of people will experience neck pain at some point in their lives but research into effective treatments is surprisingly limited.ii
If you visit a conventional physician for pain, there’s a very good chance you’ll leave with a prescription for a medication,as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen (Tylenol) and even opioids (OxyContin, Vicodin, etc.) are the go-to treatment for pain in the modern medical world.
However, there are better options than drugs for neck pain, not only in terms of pain relief, but also in helping to treat the underlying cause of the pain so that healing can truly occur.
New Study Shows Exercises and Chiropractic Care Beat Drugs for Neck Pain
According to a new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and funded by the National Institutes of Health, medication is not the best option for treating neck pain.
After following 272 neck-pain patients for 12 weeks, those who used a chiropractor or exercise were more than twice as likely to be pain free compared to those who took medication.
- 32 percent who received chiropractic care became pain free
- 30 percent of those who exercised became pain free
- 13 percent of those treated with medication became pain free
“For participants with acute and subacute neck pain, SMT [spinal manipulation therapy] was more effective than medication in both the short and long term. However, a few instructional sessions of HEA [home exercise with advice] resulted in similar outcomes at most time points.”
Why Exercise is Essential if You Have Neck Pain
Because exercise often leads to improved posture, range of motion and functionality of your body, it can help treat the underlying source of your pain as well as help prevent chronic neck pain from developing in the first place. Exercise helps prevent and relieve pain through a number of mechanisms including strengthening key supportive muscles and restoring flexibility.
Not surprisingly, repetitive strain injuries have become increasingly common as so many people spend most of their work days sitting in front of computers. Computer work is associated with neck pain specifically originating from the trapezius muscle, also referred to as trapezius myalgia, and many types of neck pain can be traced back to poor posture at work or during your commute.
It’s a vicious cycle as poor sitting posture leads to neck pain and once neck pain develops, it can make your posture even worse. For instance, one study showed people with chronic neck pain demonstrate a reduced ability to maintain an upright posture when distracted.iii
The same study further revealed, however, that after following a specific exercise program, people with neck pain had an improved ability to maintain a neutral cervical posture during prolonged sitting, which suggests it may help break the poor posture/neck pain cycle. Other research has similarly shown that exercise is incredibly beneficial for treating neck pain including:
- Research in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that repetitive strain injury caused by office work can be reduced using certain strength training exercises.iv
- A study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatism showed that strength training targeting the neck and shoulder muscles is the most beneficial treatment for women with chronic neck muscle pain as opposed to a general fitness routine.v
Five Specific Exercises to Target Chronic Neck Pain
Five specific strength exercises target the neck and shoulder muscles involved in causing chronic neck pain. Both studies mentioned above involved the same five exercises using hand weights, and detailed explanations of how to perform each exercise are provided by the National Research Centre for the Working Environment:vi
- Dumbbell shrug
Stand upright with the hand weights at the side of your body. In one even motion, lift your shoulders up towards your ears and lower them again slowly. At the same time, try to relax your jaw and neck.
- One-arm row
Stand with one knee on the bench and lean on the same-side hand on the front of the bench. With the free arm you pull the weight up towards your lower chest. When the weight touches your chest, lower it in a controlled motion.
- Upright row
Stand upright with your arms stretched and the hand weights in front of your body. Lift the weights in a straight line as close to your body as possible, until they reach the middle of your chest and your elbows point up and out. During the whole exercise, the hand weights should be placed lower than the elbows.
- Reverse fly
Lie down on a bench in a 45° forward bent angle with the hand weights hanging towards the floor. Lift the weights outward and upward until they are horizontal, and then lower the weights in one controlled motion. During the exercise, the elbows should be slightly bent.
- Lateral raise / shoulder abduction
Stand upright with the hand weights at the side of your body. Lift the weights outward and upward until they are horizontal, and then lower the weights in one controlled motion. During the exercise, the elbows should be slightly bent.
The researchers recommended performing the exercises three times per week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) and alternating between exercises 1, 2, and 5 on one day, and exercises 1, 3, and 4 the next. When starting out, perform 2 sets of each exercise with 8-12 repetitions for each set. Increase at your own pace to 3 sets for each. Depending on the exercise and your current muscle strength, the recommended beginner’s weight is between 6-12 lbs.
As a general rule of thumb, increase the weight as soon as you can comfortably execute all three sets. As a guideline, the participants in the study roughly doubled the weight used in 10 weeks. After approximately four weeks, you can reduce the number of repetitions of the last sets in order to increase the weight.
The Benefits of Chiropractic Care and Other Alternative Treatments for Neck Pain
Seeing a qualified chiropractor is another wise option if you suffer from chronic pain. I am an avid believer in the chiropractic philosophy, which places a strong emphasis on your body’s innate healing wisdom and far less reliance on Band-Aids like drugs and surgery. Chiropractic, osteopathic, and naturopathic physicians receive extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate healthcare training, which typically lasts from 4-6 years.
Due to their comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management, numerous sources of evidence have shown that chiropractic management is much safer and often more effective than allopathic medical treatments, particularly for back and neck pain. In addition, researchers have also found that chiropractic adjustments affect our bodies on a deep cellular level.
What that means is that chiropractic care may affect the basic physiological processes that influence oxidative stress and DNA repair, so in addition to addressing any immediate spinal misalignment that might cause pain, it can also address deeper dysfunction in your body.
As many of you know I am an osteopathic physician. DOs, like chiropractors, also receive extensive additional training in spinal adjustments and may also be a good option for you. However, in my experience, only a small percentage of DOs are skilled in this area as they have chosen a more conventional allopathic model. So if you see a DO for this make sure they provide this service.
Overall, the important point to remember is that there are many other options for treating chronic pain than drugs. For instance, therapeutic massage has been found to offer clinically significant improvement in function and symptoms for those with neck pain,vii while a variety of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments (including acupuncture, massage, spinal manipulation, and mobilization) were deemed to be significantly more efficacious than no treatment, placebo, physical therapy, or usual care in reducing pain immediately or at short-term after treatment for those with neck or low-back pain.viii
So you have options when it comes to dealing with your pain, and there is good reason to explore them before you opt for medicated relief.
Pain Medications are Risky at Best
Millions of Americans depend on anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain, but the drugs are among the most dangerous on the market. Aside from significantly increasing your heart risks (such as a two to fourfold increase in the risk of heart attacks, stroke or cardiovascular death), NSAIDs are linked to serious gastrointestinal risks like bleeding of the digestive tract, increased blood pressure and kidney problems. Remember, this applies not only to prescription medications like Celebrex but also to over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, Advil and Motrin.
It’s very difficult to find a drug-based method of pain relief that is not saddled with severe side effects. The FDA has even recently limited the amount of acetaminophen allowed in prescription products and added a boxed warning due to liver toxicity concerns. Acetaminophen is actually the leading cause of acute liver failure in the United States.
As for the opioid painkillers like OxyContin, they are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs and are a leading contributor to the rising rates of fatal prescription drug overdoses. Many become addicted after using them to treat conditions like back or neck pain.
But no matter what type of painkiller you choose, the bottom line to remember is that they do not come without risks! Unfortunately, if you visit your conventional physician with chronic pain, a long-term treatment plan will typically include a drug-combination approach, using anti-inflammatory drugs, anti-seizure medications, muscle relaxants and possibly other types of pain medication as well. In other words, the answer for pain relief is drugs, drugs and more drugs — each one raising your risk of suffering potentially lethal side effects. Is there a better way?
More Natural Solutions for Neck (and Other Types of) Pain
In the case of neck pain, the underlying cause is often related to body mechanics, meaning your posture or muscle balance is off kilter. Addressing your posture (or other factors that may be contributing to the strain, such as sleeping in an awkward position) and treating the condition with exercises is often effective at relieving the pain and addressing the underlying cause. If you have chronic pain of any kind, please understand that there are many safe and effective alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, though they may require some patience.
Among the best are:
- Start taking a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat like krill oil. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. (In fact, that is how anti-inflammatory painkillers work, they positively influence prostaglandins.) The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA contained in krill oil have also been found in many animal and clinical studies to have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Eliminate or radically reduce most grains and sugars (including fructose) from your diet. Avoiding grains and sugars will lower your insulin and leptin levels. Elevated insulin and leptin levels are one of the most profound stimulators of inflammatory prostaglandin production. That is why eliminating sugar and grains is so important to controlling your pain.
- Optimize your production of vitamin D by getting regular, appropriate sun exposure, which will work through a variety of different mechanisms to reduce your pain.
In the meantime, you don’t need to suffer unnecessarily. Following are options that provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that pain medications often carry.
- Astaxanthin: One of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known. It has very potent anti-inflammatory properties and in many cases works far more effectively than NSAIDs. Higher doses are typically required and one may need 8 mg or more per day to achieve this benefit.
- Ginger: This herb is anti-inflammatory and offers pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Fresh ginger works well steeped in boiling water as a tea or grated into vegetable juice.
- Curcumin: Curcumin is the primary therapeutic compound identified in the spice turmeric. In a study of osteoarthritis patients, those who added 200 mg of curcumin a day to their treatment plan had reduced pain and increased mobility. In fact, curcumin has been shown in over 50 clinical studies to have potent anti-inflammatory activity, as well as demonstrating the ability in four studies to reduce Tylenol-associated adverse health effects.
- Boswellia: Also known as boswellin or “Indian frankincense,” this herb contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties, which have been prized for thousands of years. This is one of my personal favorites as I have seen it work well with many rheumatoid arthritis patients.
- Bromelain: This protein-digesting enzyme, found in pineapples, is a natural anti-inflammatory. It can be taken in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful. Keep in mind that most of the bromelain is found within the core of the pineapple, so consider leaving a little of the pulpy core intact when you consume the fruit.
- Cetyl Myristoleate (CMO): This oil, found in fish and dairy butter, acts as a “joint lubricant” and an anti-inflammatory. I have used a topical preparation for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and a mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that pops up when I type too much on non-ergonomic keyboards.
- Evening Primrose, Black Currant and Borage Oils: These contain the fatty acid gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which is useful for treating arthritic pain.
- Cayenne Cream: Also called capsaicin cream, this spice comes from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body’s supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain.
- Therapeutic modalities such as yoga, acupuncture, meditation, hot and cold packs, and even holding hands can also result in astonishing pain relief without any drugs.
- i American Pain Foundation, Pain Facts & Stats (PDF)
- ii Annals of Internal Medicine January 3, 2012 vol. 156 no. 1 Part 1 1-10
- iii Physical Therapy April 2007 vol. 87 no. 4 408-417
- iv J Appl Physiol. 2009 Nov;107(5):1413-9.
- v Arthritis & Rheumatism Vol. 59, No. 1, January 15, 2008, pp 84–91
- vi National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Rehabilitation of Neck/Shoulder Muscle Pain
- vii Clinical Journal of Pain. 2009;25(3):233–238.
- viii Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:953139.
By Dr. Mercola
Cell phones have been used widely for only about a decade, and unfortunately their use became commonplace before their true health effects were revealed.
As a result, we are only now beginning to see the potential repercussions, which include a number of potential health concerns for adults, including brain tumors, cognitive impairment, DNA damage, fertility risks and more.
Children, due to their thinner skulls, smaller brains, softer brain tissue and far more rapidly dividing cells, are even more susceptible to damage from cell phone use than adults, which suggests that babies in the womb, who are perhaps the most vulnerable population of all, may be at similar or greater at risk.
In fact, new research sheds light on the impacts of chronic cell phone use on the fetal brain in animals, and the effects are clearly detrimental.
Cell Phone Use During Pregnancy Shown to Cause “Certain Harm” to Fetal Rat Brains
A new study in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine by Jing et al sought to evaluate the intensity of oxidative stress and the levels of neurotransmitters in the brains of fetal rats chronically exposed to radiation from cell phones.
Four groups of pregnant rats were exposed to different intensities of cell phone microwave radiation — one group that was left unexposed, and three groups that were irradiated three times daily for either 10, 30, or 60 minutes at a time.
After three weeks, the fetal rats were examined for changes in their brains.
All of the irradiated groups exhibited significant neurological differences, with researchers noting:
“Through this study, we concluded that receiving a certain period of microwave radiation from cellular phones during pregnancy has certain harm on fetal rat brains.”
Should Pregnant Women Avoid Cell Phones?
It will be a long time before these findings are thoroughly explored or publicized, but in the meantime there is reason to believe that cell phones could have a negative impact on a developing fetus, just as they may have a negative impact on you and your children. In 2008, researchers analyzed data from nearly 13,000 children and found that exposure to cell phones while in the womb, and also as children, was linked to more behavioral difficulties.i
Pregnant women using handsets just two or three times a day was enough to raise the risk of their babies developing hyperactivity and difficulties with conduct, emotions and relationships by the time they reached school age — and the risk became even greater if the children also used the phones themselves before age 7.
The 2008 study revealed that mothers who used mobile phones were in fact 54 percent more likely to have children with behavioral problems. When the children also later used the phones themselves, they were:
- 80 percent more likely to suffer from difficulties with behavior
- 25 percent more at risk from emotional problems
- 34 percent more likely to suffer from difficulties relating to their peers
- 35 percent more likely to be hyperactive
- 49 percent more prone to problems with conduct
Behavioral Problems in Children Exposed to Cell Phones in Utero Confirmed
In 2010, the researchers then looked at a larger group of children — nearly 29,000 — and also considered additional variables that could be swaying the results, and the association was found once again.ii
In that study, children whose mothers used cell phones while pregnant were 40 percent more likely to have behavioral problems, and this rose to 50 percent when the children also used cell phones themselves. The researchers even accounted for family history of behavioral problems, inattention of the mother, breastfeeding and time spent with the child — and the association remained.
Autonomic nervous system expert Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt has noted this radiation may easily flip certain genes in the mitochondria. If this gene sequence is altered in a pregnant woman, she can pass her damaged mitochondria on to her child. The child can then develop a mitochondrial disorder, which can include muscular atrophy and severe developmental problems.
UK Experts Call for Health Warnings for Cell Phones and Children
In a report published by Mobilewise, a UK charity, medical experts and Mobilewise call on government and industry to provide warnings and advice on ways to reduce the risk of health damage when using mobile phones, especially in order to protect children.
The report, “Mobile Phone Health Risks: the case for action to protect children,” warns that children’s health is being put at risk by the failure of government and phone companies to respond to the growing body of evidence linking mobile phone use with health hazards.iii It includes a chart of more than 200 peer-reviewed studies from numerous research institutions that link mobiles to serious health problems.
These include brain tumors and impact on fertility, genes, the blood-brain barrier and melatonin production, as well as other biological effects thought to have a role in the development of cancer. Endorsed by a number of prominent doctors and scientists, the Mobilewise report on the public health issue related to the impact on children highlights the body of evidence that has been “obscured in the debate over these risks,” according to Vicky Fobel, director of Mobilewise.
I encourage you to read this report, and to print the list of studies with summaries and links to the cited research, and to share these with your communities.
- ” … develop within different ministries (education, environment and health) targeted information campaigns aimed at teachers, parents and children to alert them to the specific risks of early, ill-considered and prolonged use of mobiles and other devices emitting microwaves
” …ban all mobile phones, DECT phones or WiFi or WLAN systems from classrooms and schools, as advocated by some regional authorities, medical associations and civil society organizations”
The European Parliament has also called for schools to be wireless free, in addition to hospitals, day care and retirement living facilities.iv
And most recently, Russian researchers led by Yury Grigoriev, PhD of the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection have demonstrated significant cognitive impairment in children after four years of exposure to wireless devices.v Dr. Grigoriev says:
“The short-term and long-term potential consequences for society from exposing children to microwave radiation from cellular communication devices must be immediately acknowledged, globally, and responsibly addressed.”
My Top Tips for Cell Phone Safety
It’s worth remembering that the telecommunication industry is much larger than the medical industrial complex, and they have far more influence than the drug companies. They’re also mirroring many of the same tactics as the tobacco industry to pedal their wares. This includes attempting to discredit researchers who publish unfavorable cell phone studies.
According to Camilla Rees, MBA of ElectromagneticHealth.org:
“We have seen a recent steep increase in disparagement of scientific research where the research demonstrates risks to public health from telecommunications technologies. It is very clear that in the name of “debate” certain parties are aggressively creating confusion and doubt about the biological and health risks, shamefully supporting the interests of the telecommunications industry.”
There is already robust scientific evidence that cell phones and other wireless devices pose significant health risks to all of us, and especially to children and pregnant women. So while these findings are not being widely publicized as of yet, it makes sense to take action now to protect yourself and your children. You can help to minimize your exposure to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and other wireless devices by heeding the following advice:
- Children Should Always Avoid Using Cell Phones: Barring a life-threatening emergency, children should not use a cell phone, or a wireless device of any type. Children are far more vulnerable to cell phone radiation than adults, because of their thinner skull bones.
- Reduce Your Cell Phone Use: Turn your cell phone off more often. Reserve it for emergencies or important matters. As long as your cell phone is on, it emits radiation intermittently, even when you are not actually making a call. If you’re pregnant, avoiding or reducing your cell phone use may be especially important.
- Use a Land Line at Home and at Work: Although more and more people are switching to using cell phones as their exclusive phone contact, it is a dangerous trend and you can choose to opt out of the madness. SKYPE offers a portable number via your computer that can plug into any Ethernet port while traveling.
- Reduce or Eliminate Your Use of Other Wireless Devices: You would be wise to cut down your use of these devices. Just as with cell phones, it is important to ask yourself whether or not you really need to use them as often as you do. And most importantly, do not even consider having any electronic or wireless devices in the bedroom that will interfere with the quality of your sleep.
If you must use a portable home phone, use the older kind that operates at 900 MHz. They are not safer during calls, but at least many of them do not broadcast constantly even when no call is being made.
Note the only way to truly be sure if there is an exposure from your cordless phone is to measure with an electrosmog meter, and it must be one that goes up to the frequency of your portable phone (so old meters won’t help much). As many portable phones are 5.8 Gigahertz, we recommend you look for RF meters that go up to 8 Gigahertz, the highest range now available in a meter suitable for consumers.
Alternatively you can be very careful with the base station placement as that causes the bulk of the problem since it transmits signals 24/7, even when you aren’t talking. So if you can keep the base station at least three rooms away from where you spend most of your time, and especially your bedroom, they may not be as damaging to your health. Another option is to just simply turn the portable phone off, only using it when you specifically need the convenience of moving about while on a call.
Ideally it would be helpful to turn off your base station every night before you go to bed.
You can find RF meters as well as remediation supplies at www.emfsafetystore.com. But you can pretty much be sure your portable phone is a problem if the technology is DECT, or digitally enhanced cordless technology.
- Use Your Cell Phone Only Where Reception is Good: The weaker the reception, the more power your phone must use to transmit, and the more power it uses, the more radiation it emits, and the deeper the dangerous radio waves penetrate into your body. Ideally, you should only use your phone with full bars and good reception.
- Also Seek to Avoid Carrying Your Phone on Your Body as that merely maximizes any potential exposure. Ideally put it in your purse or carrying bag. Placing a cell phone in a shirt pocket over the heart is asking for trouble, as is placing it in a man’s pocket if he seeks to preserve his fertility.
- Don’t Assume One Cell Phone is Safer Than Another: There’s no such thing as a “safe” cell phone.
- Keep Your Cell Phone Away From Your Body When it is On: The most dangerous place to be, in terms of radiation exposure, is within about six inches of the emitting antenna. You do not want any part of your body within that area.
- Respect Others Who are More Sensitive: Some people who have become sensitive can feel the effects of others’ cell phones in the same room, even when it is on but not being used. If you are in a meeting, on public transportation, in a courtroom or other public places, such as a doctor’s office, keep your cell phone turned off out of consideration for the ‘second hand radiation’ effects. Children are also more vulnerable, so please avoid using your cell phone near children.
- If you are using the Pong case, which redirects the cell phone radiation away from the head and successfully lowers the SAR effect, realize that in redirecting the radiation away from your head this may be intensifying the radiation in another direction, perhaps toward the person next to you, or, if in your pocket, increasing radiation intensity toward your body. Caution is always advised in dealing with any radiation-emitting device. We recommend cell phones be kept ‘Off’ except for emergencies.
- Use Safer Headset Technology: Wired headsets will certainly allow you to keep the cell phone farther away from your body. However, if a wired headset is not well-shielded — and most of them are not — the wire itself acts as an antenna attracting ambient radio waves and transmitting radiation directly to your brain.
Make sure that the wire used to transmit the signal to your ear is shielded.
The best kind of headset to use is a combination shielded wire and air-tube headset. These operate like a stethoscope, transmitting the information to your head as an actual sound wave; although there are wires that still must be shielded, there is no wire that goes all the way up to your head.
- i Epidemiology. 2008 Jul;19(4):523-9.
- ii Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health December 7, 2010
- iii Mobilewise report, Mobile Phone Health Risks: the case for action to protect children
- iv ElectromagneticHealth.org April 21, 2009
- v ElectromagneticHealth.org November 4, 2011
By Dr. Mercola
Did you know there are two types of vitamin D, and they are NOT interchangeable?
In fact, taking the wrong one could do you more harm than good…
Drisdol is a synthetic form of vitamin D2—made by irradiating fungus and plant matter—and is the form of vitamin D typically prescribed by doctors.
This is not the type produced by your body in response to sun or safe tanning bed exposure, which is vitamin D3.
A recent meta-analysis by the Cochrane Databasei looked at mortality rates for people who supplemented their diets with D2 versus those who did so with D3, the form naturally produced by your body, highlighting the significant differences between the two.
The analysis of 50 randomized controlled trials, which included a total of 94,000 participants, showed:
- A six percent relative risk reduction among those who used vitamin D3, but
- A two percent relative risk increase among those who used D2
According to the Vitamin D Councilii:
“You would think a paper that took a look at tens of thousands of subjects and analyzed the efficacy of prescription vitamin D (D2) and over-the-counter vitamin D (D3) would warrant a news story or two.
To my knowledge, these papers are the first to paint such a clear picture about the efficacy between D3 and D2.
While there may be explanations for D3′s superiority other than improved efficacy, for the time being, these papers send doctors a message: use D3, not D2.”
The Difference Between Supplemental Vitamin D2 and D3
The notion that vitamin D2 and D3 were equivalent was based on decades-old studies of rickets prevention in infants. Today, we know a lot more about vitamin D, and the featured study offers compelling support for the recommendation to take vitamin D3 if you need to take an oral supplement—which is the same type of D vitamin created in your body when you expose your skin to sunlight.
Supplemental vitamin D comes in two forms:
- Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2)
- Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3)
I personally recommend getting your vitamin D from safe sun exposure (or a safe tanning bed), as there’s compelling reason to believe the vitamin D created in your skin in response to sun exposure has some slight but important differences that make it even more beneficial than supplemental vitamin D3. I will address this more in just a moment, but first, let’s review the differences between the two types of supplemental vitamin D. Aside from the featured findings that supplemental vitamin D3 reduced the relative mortality risk by six percent, while D2 actually INCREASED mortality risk by two percent, the two types differ in the following ways:
- According to the latest research, D3 is approximately 87 percent more potentiii in raising and maintaining vitamin D concentrations and produces 2- to 3-fold greater storage of vitamin D than does D2.
- Regardless of which form you use, your body must convert it into a more active form, and vitamin D3 is converted 500 percent faster than vitamin D2.
- Vitamin D2 also has a shorter shelf life, and its metabolites bind poorly with proteins, further hampering its effectiveness.
What about Dietary Sources? Animal-Based versus Plant-Based Vitamin D
Aside from taking an oral vitamin D supplement, you can also obtain small amounts of vitamin D from your diet. Here too, it’s important to realize that not all food sources provide the same kind of vitamin D. Plant sources provide you with D2. The more beneficial D3 can only be had through animal-based sources such as:
- Fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines
- Egg yolk
- Raw milk
Dairy processors producing pasteurized milk have also been fortifying milk with vitamin D since 1933. Today, about 98 percent of the milk supply in the U.S. is fortified with approximately 400 International Units (IU) of vitamin D per quart. While dairies used to fortify their milk with vitamin D2, most have now switched over to D3. But, if you still drink pasteurized milk (which I don’t recommend), check the label to see which form of vitamin D has been added. (If you drink raw milk, then you’re getting the naturally-occurring vitamin D in the milk fat.) Keep in mind that although milk is fortified, other dairy products such as cheese and ice cream does typically not contain added vitamin D.
Vitamin D Can Make or Break Your Health, So Get the Right Kind!
There’s overwhelming evidence that vitamin D is a key player in your overall health. This is understandable when you consider that it is not “just” a vitamin; it’s actually a neuroregulatory steroidal hormone that influences nearly 3,000 different genes in your body. Receptors that respond to the vitamin have been found in almost every type of human cell, from your brain to your bones.
Just one example of an important gene that vitamin D up-regulates is your ability to fight infections, as well as chronic inflammation. It produces over 200 antimicrobial peptides, the most important of which is cathelicidin, a naturally occurring broad-spectrum antibiotic. This is one of the explanations for why it can be so effective against colds and influenza.
Optimizing your vitamin D levels should be at the top of the list for virtually everyone, regardless of your age, sex, color, or health status, as vitamin D deficiency has been linked to an astonishingly diverse array of common chronic diseases, such as:
|Diabetes 1 and 2||Multiple Sclerosis||Crohn’s disease|
|Cold & Flu||Inflammatory Bowel Disease||Tuberculosis|
|Septicemia||Signs of aging||Dementia|
|Eczema & Psoriasis||Insomnia||Hearing loss|
|Muscle pain||Cavities||Periodontal disease|
|Osteoporosis||Macular degeneration||Reduced C-section risk|
The IDEAL Way to Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels
While this article is focused on the two types of oral vitamin D supplementation, it’s important to realize that the IDEAL way to optimize your vitamin D levels is through appropriate sun or safe tanning bed exposure. While your skin does create vitamin D3 in response to sun light, which is theoretically the same as the D3 you get from an oral supplement, there’s cause to believe that the vitamin D created from sun exposure may have additional health benefits, and here’s why:
- When you expose your skin to the sun, your skin also synthesizes high amounts of cholesterol sulfate, which is very important for heart and cardiovascular health. In fact, according to research by Dr. Stephanie Seneff, high LDL and subsequent heart disease may in fact be a symptom of cholesterol sulfate deficiency. Sulfur deficiency also promotes obesity and related health problems like diabetes
- When exposed to sunshine, your skin also synthesizes vitamin D3 sulfate. This form of vitamin D is water soluble, unlike oral vitamin D3 supplements, which is unsulfated. The water-soluble form can travel freely in your bloodstream, whereas the unsulfated form needs LDL (the so-called “bad” cholesterol) as a vehicle of transport. According to Dr. Stephanie Seneff, there’s reason to believe that many of the profound benefits of vitamin D are actually due to the vitamin D sulfate. As a result, she suspects that the oral non-sulfated form of vitamin D might not provide all of the same benefits, because it cannot be converted to vitamin D sulfate
- You cannot overdose when getting your vitamin D from sun exposure, as your body has the ability to self-regulate and only make what it needs
So essentially, getting regular sun exposure has much greater health ramifications than “just” raising your vitamin D levels and preventing infections. Sun exposure also appears to play a role in heart and cardiovascular health, and much more!
If you cannot get your vitamin D requirements from sun exposure, I recommend using a safe tanning bed (one with electronic ballasts rather than magnetic ballasts, to avoid unnecessary exposure to EMF fields). Safe tanning beds also have less of the dangerous UVA than sunlight, while unsafe ones have more UVA than sunlight. If neither of these are feasible options, then you should take an oral vitamin D3 supplement. It will certainly be better than no vitamin D at all.
How Much Vitamin D Should You Take?
Some 40 leading vitamin D experts from around the world currently agree that there’s no specific dosage level at which “magic” happens; rather the most important factor when it comes to vitamin D is your serum level (the level of vitamin D in your blood). So you really should be taking whatever dosage required to obtain a therapeutic level of vitamin D in your blood.
That said, based on the most recent research by GrassrootsHealth—an organization that has greatly contributed to the current knowledge on vitamin D through their D* Action Study—it appears as though most adults need about 8,000 IU’s of vitamin D a day in order to raise their serum levels above 40 ng/ml.4 For children, many experts agree they need about 35 IU’s of vitamin D per pound of body weight.
At the time GrassrootsHealth performed the studies that resulted in this dosage recommendation, the optimal serum level was believed to be between 40 to 60 ng/ml. Since then, the optimal vitamin D level has been raised to 50-70 ng/ml, and when treating cancer or heart disease, as high as 70-100 ng/ml, as illustrated in the chart above.
What this means is that even if you do not regularly monitor your vitamin D levels (which you should), your risk of overdosing is going to be fairly slim even if you take as much as 8,000 IU’s a day. However, the only way to determine your optimal dose is to get your blood tested regularly, and adjust your dosage to maintain that goldilocks’ zone.
For more information, including an in-depth explanation of everything you need to know before you get tested, please see Test Values and Treatment for Vitamin D Deficiency.
- i Vitamin D Supplementation for Prevention of Mortality in Adults, The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, July 6, 2011: (7); CD007470, G. Bjelakovic, et al.
- ii Meta-analysis Looks at Efficacy of D2 vs D3, Vitamin D Council, November 16, 2011: Dr. John Cannell.
- iii Vitamin D3 Is More Potent Than Vitamin D2 in Humans, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, March 1, 2011: 96 (3); E447-E452, Robert P. Heaney, et al.
products.mercola.com Internationally renowned natural health physician and Mercola.com founder Dr. Joseph Mercola recommends taking Vitamin B12 as energy booster rather than drinking coffee.
By Dr. Mercola
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are a complex group of compounds formed when sugar reacts with amino acids.
This can occur both in the food you eat, and inside your body.
It’s is a fitting acronym because – along with oxidation – it’s one of the major molecular mechanisms whereby damage accrues in your body, which leads to disease, aging, and eventually, death.
For example, there is mounting evidence that AGEs may be implicated in the development of the chronic degenerative diseases associated with aging, including but not limited to:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Alzheimer’s disease, and
Several studies have shown that restricting the consumption of AGEs can lead to an increased lifespan in animal models.
According to a paper that summarizes recent research on AGEsi:
“… [T]he data are supportive that endogenous AGEs are associated with declining organ functioning. It appears that dietary AGEs may also be related.
… As of today, restriction of dietary intake of AGEs and exercise has been shown to safely reduce circulating AGEs, with further reduction in oxidative stress and inflammatory markers.”
Why Limiting Sugar is Key for Longevity
Limiting sugar in your diet is a well-known key to longevity, because of all the molecules capable of inflicting damage in your body, sugar molecules are probably the most damaging of all. Fructose in particular is an extremely potent pro-inflammatory agent that creates AGEs and speeds up the aging process. It also promotes the kind of dangerous growth of fat cells around your vital organs that are the hallmark of diabetes and heart disease. In one study on fructose, 16 volunteers on a controlled diet including high levels of fructose produced new fat cells around their heart, liver and other digestive organs in just 10 weeks!
Sugar/fructose also increases your insulin and leptin levels and decreases receptor sensitivity for both of these vital hormones, and this is another major factor of premature aging and age-related chronic degenerative diseases such as heart disease. Keep in mind that while it’s perfectly normal for your blood sugar levels to rise slightly after every meal, it is not natural or healthy when your blood sugar levels become excessively elevated and stay that way.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what will happen if you’re eating like the stereotypical American, who consumes a staggering 2.5 pounds of sugar a week on average!
And when you add in other low-quality carb foods such as white bread, sugar, pasta, pastries, cookies, and candy, which also break down to sugar in your body, it’s not so difficult to see why so many Americans are in such poor health.
This type of high-sugar (high-carb) diet is also what’s driving the obesity epidemic—not diets high in fat. An infographic created by Column Five for Massive Health, based on Why We Get Fat by science writer Gary Taubes, explains why. In short, carbs, like fructose and other sugars, destroy your insulin and leptin sensitivity, which in turn causes your cells to accumulate more fat, and makes it more difficult to get rid of the extra weight as well. So, the bottom line is this: If you want to look and feel younger longer, avoid all forms of sugar (including grains) as much as possible!
Fructose adversely affects your body in a number of ways, but one of the mechanisms that causes significant damage is glycation. As already mentioned, glycation is the process in which sugar bonds with protein to form advanced glycation end products, or AGEs.
This process creates inflammation, which can activate your immune system.
Macrophages are scavenger cells that are part of your immune defense system, and as such they have special receptors for AGEs, aptly called RAGEs (think: raging inflammation). These RAGEs bind to the AGEs in your body and get rid of them. Unfortunately, this defensive process can also cause its fair share of damage. Inside your arteries, for example, the scar tissue created from this process is called plaque.
You really want to limit the AGEs in your body as much as possible, so your immune system won’t have to work so hard to defend against them. As a standard recommendation to limit glycation, I strongly advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day.
However, most people would be wise to limit their fructose to 15 grams or less, particularly if you have elevated uric acid levels, which can be used as a predictor for fructose toxicity. (For more information on this, please see this previous article.) This includes keeping track of your fructose intake from whole fruits. For additional information about the fructose content of common fruits, please see this helpful fructose chart. I recommend this lower level simply because if you consume processed foods or sweet beverages at all, you’re virtually guaranteed to consume “hidden” sources of fructose.
Fructose Metabolism Basics
Anyone who still insists that “sugar is sugar” is way behind the times… There are in fact major differences in how your body processes different sugars, and it’s important to understand that when you consume fructose, your body packs on pounds at a much higher rate than it does when you consume glucose. The following summary details the main metabolic differences between fructose and glucose to help you understand how fructose can wreak such havoc with your health, and why it’s considerably worse for you than glucose:
- After eating fructose, nearly all of the metabolic burden rests on your liver. But with glucose, your liver has to break down only 20 percent.
- Every cell in your body, including your brain, utilizes glucose. Therefore, much of it is “burned up” immediately after you consume it. By contrast, fructose is primarily converted into free fatty acids (FFAs), VLDL (the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which get stored as fat.
- The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat droplets in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Insulin resistance progresses to metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.
- Fructose is the most lipophilic carbohydrate. In other words, fructose converts to activated glycerol (g-3-p), which is directly used to turn FFAs into triglycerides. The more g-3-p you have, the more fat you store. Glucose does not do this.
- When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat. 120 calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat. Fructose is essentially largely converted into fat!
- The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which triggers your “fat switch,” causing you to gain more weight.
- Glucose does not do this, as it suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates leptin, which suppresses your appetite. Fructose has no effect on ghrelin and interferes with your brain’s communication with leptin, resulting in overeating.
How to Tame Your Sugar Cravings
As mentioned earlier, I recommend that you avoid as much sugar as possible. Do your best to keep your fructose consumption below 15-25 grams a day. This is especially important if you are overweight or have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.
Sugar is highly addictive, so cutting down can be a real challenge for some, especially if you’re consuming very high amounts. If you’re struggling with sugar addiction, I highly recommend trying an energy psychology technique called Turbo Tapping, which has helped many “soda addicts” kick their sweet habit. If you still want to use a sweetener occasionally, here’s what I recommend in lieu of sugar:
- Use the sweet herb stevia.
- Use organic cane sugar in moderation.
- Use organic raw honey in moderation.
- Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners, which can damage your health even more quickly than fructose.
- Avoid agave syrup since it is a highly processed sap that is almost all fructose. Your blood sugar will spike just as it would if you were consuming regular sugar or HFCS. Agave’s meteoric rise in popularity is due to a great marketing campaign, but any health benefits present in the original agave plant are processed out.
The Anti-Aging Lifestyle
Of all the healthy lifestyle strategies I know of that can have a significant impact on your longevity, normalizing your insulin and leptin levels is probably the most important. Cutting out sugar and grains and increasing exercise are two effective ways to accomplish that.
But to truly optimize your longevity and slow down the clock, your entire lifestyle needs to be taken into account. So, here are the rest of my top “anti-aging” recommendations. Incorporating these healthy lifestyle guidelines will help set you squarely on the path to optimal health and give you the best shot at living a much longer life:
- Learn how to effectively cope with stress – Stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day, so developing effective coping mechanisms is a major longevity-promoting factor.
Meditation, prayer, physical activity and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium. I also strongly believe in using energy psychology tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to address deeper, oftentimes hidden emotional problems.
- Eat a healthy diet focused on whole, ideally organic, foods – My nutrition plan, based on natural whole foods, is your first step toward increasing your chances of living a longer, healthier life.
- Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels. This is another very powerful and inexpensive intervention that can have profound benefits on your health. In the summer you can do this for free by careful and safe sun exposure. In the winter a therapeutic level of oral vitamin D can be achieved with an oral supplement (around 8,000 units of vitamin D3 a day for most adults)
- Animal based omega-3 fats – Correcting the ratio of omega-3 to healthful omega-6 fats is a strong factor in helping you live longer. This typically means increasing your intake of animal based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil, while decreasing your intake of damaged omega-6 fats (think trans fats).
I do not, however, recommend the new prescription strength fish oil medication, sold under the name Lovaza. Don’t be fooled by their “all-natural” PR campaign. This is actually a drug to treat very high triglyceride levels. However, as with most other drugs, Lovaza comes with potentially dangerous side effects that you would not experience with a natural fish oil or krill oil supplement. Side effects include flu-like symptoms, infections, back pain, skin rashes, upset stomach, taste changes, digestive issues, chest pain, migraines and respiratory problems!
Additionally, new research strongly suggests that 500 mg of krill oil is more potent and far less expensive.
- Get your antioxidants from foods –Good sources include blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, beans, and artichokes.
- Use coconut oil – Another excellent anti-aging food is coconut oil, known to reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your cholesterol, among other things. In fact, it’s doubly beneficial because it can be both eaten and applied directly to your skin. Coconut oil can be used in place of other oils, margarine, butter, or shortening, and can be used for all your cooking needs.
- Get your resveratrol naturally – Resveratrol is one of the forerunners in the anti-aging pill race, but more than likely, by the time they’ve manipulated it into a synthetic pill (like the fish oil discussed above), it won’t be healthy for you.
Although resveratrol is the antioxidant found in red wine, I can’t recommend drinking wine in the hopes of extending your life because alcohol is a neurotoxin that can poison your brain and harm your body’s delicate hormonal balance. Instead, get your resveratrol from natural sources, such as whole grape skins and seeds, raspberries, mulberries, and peanuts.
- Exercise regularly and smartly – Studies repeatedly show that regular, moderate-to-vigorous exercise can help prevent or delay your onset of hypertension, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and the falls that lead to hip fracture. Although a lifetime of regular exercise is ideal, it’s never too late to start. It’s been shown that even individuals in their 70′s can substantially increase both strength and endurance with exercise.
High-intensity, interval training can also increase longevity as this specific style of training promotes human growth hormone production – yet another aspect of the longevity puzzle.
- Avoid as many chemicals, toxins, and pollutants as possible – This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
- Avoid pharmaceutical drugs – Pharmaceutical drugs kill thousands of people prematurely every year – as an expected side effect of the action of the drug. And, if you adhere to a healthy lifestyle, you most likely will never need any of them in the first place.
- i Dietary Advanced Glycation End Products and Aging,Nutrients. 2010 December; 2(12): 1247–1265