Natural Solutions

Conventional doctors have long used painkillers called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease inflammation – such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin – as well as steroid hormones. But these drugs carry well-known side effects and are generally not a good long term solution. Alternative medicine practitioners have long turned to herbs and natural substances that have anti-inflammatory properties. Blaylock says he has seen tremendous results in his patients who have used alternative therapies to knock down inflammation naturally. Among those he recommends:   Vitamin C: Adequate dietary intake of this antioxidant vitamin knocks down disease-causing substances in the body known as free radicals that have pro-inflammatory effects. Studies have found vitamin C may help protect against coronary heart disease and gout.

What is Inflammation?

Doctors in medical school learn that inflammation is beneficial – to a degree. “They taught us there that inflammation was, in a sense, a good thing for the body,” Blaylock says. “Redness, swelling, pain, and limited range of motion are important defense mechanisms and play a major role in the healing process.” But you can get too much of a good thin, he adds. Research shows that while inflammation can be caused by lifestyle factors – including high-sugar diets, lack of exercise, obesity, and other bad habits – it appears to be more common in some people for reasons that are genetic. Scientists from Stanford University have linked 25 genetic factors to coronary artery disease and found people with this common heart condition are most likely predisposed to the disease because they have gene variants linked to inflammation. Two physiological processes play a major role in inflammation: the immune system (Read More)

Espresso Emission

Coffee boosts the brain’s production of an enzyme that reduces the damage caused by harmful tau proteins associated with aging, according to researchers at Indiana University who discovered it. The enzyme, called NMNAT2, protects neurons against stress and also combats misfolded proteins called tau that are linked to diseases, such as Alzheimer’s

Fish Oils Reduce Cardiac Deaths

Omega-3 fatty acids found in cold water fish and fish oil supplements reduce the risk of cardiac death up to 30 percent, says a review of 14 randomized, controlled trials published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology. Omega-3s reduced the risk of cardiac death by 17 percent in people who had elevated triglycerides or LDL cholesterol. But patients who took more than 1 gram every day of EPA and DHA – the main fatty acids found in fish oil – reduced their risk by almost 30 percent.

Aerobic Exercise Prevents Heart Aging

There is hope for middle-aged couch potatoes, reports Time.com. Years of inactivity can take a significant toll on the heart, but new research suggests that a spell of regular aerobic exercise can make up for decades of sitting. Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center recruited 53 people between 45 and 64 who were healthy but led a sedentary lifestyle. Some of the volunteers were placed on an aerobic exercise regimen involving several 30-minute sessions each week—one high-intensity, two to three that were lighter, and one for strength training—as well as an hour of tennis, cycling, running, dancing, or brisk walking. The remaining volunteers were given a “casual” program consisting of balance training, yoga, or weight lifting three times a week. After two years, those who completed at least four aerobic workouts each week were not only markedly fitter, with an 18 percent improvement in their oxygen intake, but (Read More)

Severe Flu Season

Cases of the flu are already on the rise across the U.S., and health officials warn the worst is yet to come, reports NBCNews.com. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that symptoms associated with the seasonal virus are currently widespread in 36 states across the country. Lab tests have shown that the dominant virus in circulation is the H3N2 influenza strain, which tends to cause more severe illness than other strains. And new research has shown that the main process for manufacturing the flu vaccine triggers mutations in H3N2 that render the antibody stimulant less effective. “The mutation just happened to be in a very bad spot on the virus to make it essentially be a mismatch for the vaccine,” explains Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. This combination of factors doesn’t bode well for the flu season in the coming months; (Read More)

Run for your Life

Running for a couple of hours each week could reduce the risk of early death by nearly 40 percent. After analyzing existing evidence on the link between exercise and longevity, researchers calculated that one hour of running—even at a slow pace—lengthens life expectancy by seven hours. This adds up over time; people who run regularly tend to live about three years longer than their non-running peers, the study found. Co-author Duck-chul Lee cautions that these gains “are not infinite”—life expectancy improvements plateau after about four hours of running a week.

Mouthwash Linked to Diabetes

More than 200 million Americans routinely swig and swish mouthwash to prevent tooth decay and bad breath. But new research suggests this seemingly healthy habit could increase risk for type 2 diabetes, particularly for those already at high risk for the disease. A three-year study involving 945 middle-aged, overweight adults found that using mouthwash at least twice a day was associated with a 55 percent higher risk for diabetes or the precursor to the condition, known as prediabetes. The study’s authors aren’t sure why, but they theorize that antibacterial agents added to mouthwashes, such as chlorhexidine and triclosan, may do more harm than good. These ingredients destroy the harmful bacteria responsible for gum disease and cavities. But they also wipe out “friendly” bacteria that are essential for the production of nitric oxide, a compound that helps regulate insulin, which in turn keeps blood sugar levels in check. “Mouthwash is often (Read More)

Senseless Stents

One of the most common treatments for severe chest pain is stenting—the insertion of a minuscule wire cage that opens up blocked arteries. But a major new study has come to a shocking conclusion: In many cases, stents are no better than a placebo. Researchers at Imperial College London recruited 200 people with a significantly blocked coronary artery and chest pain so bad that it limited their physical activity, reports The New York Times. All the participants took a six-week course of drugs to lower the risk of a heart attack and relieve chest pain. They then had an operation to have a stent inserted—but only some actually had the device fitted. When the researchers examined the patients six weeks later, both groups said they had less chest pain and showed similar levels of improvement on treadmill tests. Cardiologists said one reason stents might not be effective—except as placebos—is because blockages (Read More)

Land of the Free, Home of the Stressed

Americans are having a collective freak-out. Fear and anxiety about politics and the future of the country are a significant source of stress for nearly two-thirds of adults in the U.S., new research has found. The American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” survey paints a grim picture of the nation’s collective mental health. Nearly 60 percent of the 3,440 people polled say they consider the present day to be the “lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember,” reports Fortune.com. Pessimism is highest among Democrats and Millennials, but also affects most Republicans and older adults who lived through World War II and Vietnam. “We’re seeing significant stress transcending party lines,” says Arthur Evans, CEO of the American Psychological Association. The uncertainty and generalized anxiety people have about the country, he said, “feels unique to this period in recent history.” Social divisiveness worries 59 percent of Americans, 43 percent are stressed (Read More)