Integrative Medical Center Enters the Mainstream

September 19, 2008

On Sept. 2, the prestigious Johns Hopkins opened The Johns Hopkins Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center. This is another indication that Naturopathic and Integrative Medicine is coming into the mainstream, with credibility and integrity.  It is not a surprise that the center works primarily on digestive health issues-one of numerous areas where Naturopathic Medicine truly shines.  About 70% of immune system function is housed in the digestive tract, and licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctors are the most skilled-and the most extensively trained- on how to discover the underlying cause of digestive disorders and how to work with the body to support its natural healing response.  One foundational approach is to support detoxification. You can learn more about digestive health and its connection to the immune system by clicking here.

In health,

Dr. G

Vitamin B12 Protects Against Dementia- Even in the Absence of a B12 Deficiency

September 13, 2008

A new research study published in the Journal Neurology found that people aged between 61 and 87, with higher blood levels of vitamin B12, were six times less likely to experience brain shrinkage (which is associated with dementia) then people with lower levels of B12 in their blood.

Prior studies on the link between B12 and dementia focused on how increased levels of B12 and other B vitamins were linked to low levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that increases risk of dementia and cognitive impairment.

This study, which followed 107 volunteers, found another connection between B12 and the brain- the prevention of brain shrinkage.

The best sources of B12 are meat, fish, milk and eggs. Unfortunately these foods are problematic for people with health challenges as they are foods of animal origin that tend to be more difficult to digest.  Furthermore, such foods are often tainted with pesticides (stored in animal fat), heavy metals, and hormones.

Interestingly enough, people studied in this trial were NOT shown to be deficient in vitamin B12 using standard blood tests.  In my practice, I will test for B12 just to make sure a patient does not show elevated levels, before prescribing subcutaneous vitamin B12 shots, or vitamin B12 supplementation (often in the form of a complete multivitamin formula).  However, a patient certainly does not need to show a B12 deficiency to derive benefit from this vitamin. B12 therapy is effective for weight loss, mental function, energy and depression.

In health,

Dr. G

Study details

Vogiatzoglou and co-workers recruited the community-dwelling volunteers and collected blood samples to measure levels of vitamin B12, holotranscobalamin (holoTC), methylmalonic acid, total homocysteine, and folate. Brain volume loss per year was calculated using MRI scans.

Over five years of study, the researchers noted a greater decrease in brain volume among people with lower vitamin B12 and holoTC levels.

Indeed, people with lower levels of B12, defined as blood levels below 308 picomoles per litre, were six times more likely to experience brain shrinkage, said the researchers. On the other hand, high levels of methylmalonic acid or homocysteine, or low folate levels were not linked to brain volume loss.

“Low vitamin B12 status should be further investigated as a modifiable cause of brain atrophy and of likely subsequent cognitive impairment in the elderly,” stated the researchers.

It is important to note that none of the volunteers were (known to be) vitamin B12 deficient.

“Previous research on the vitamin has had mixed results and few studies have been done specifically with brain scans in elderly populations. We tested for vitamin B12 levels in a unique, more accurate way by looking at two certain markers for it in the blood,” said Vogiatzoglou.

The potential of supplements

Commenting independently on the results, Dr Susanne Sorensen from the Alzheimer’s Society said: “Shrinkage is usually associated with the development of dementia.

“As vitamin B may be given as a food supplement, it may be useful to include tests of vitamin B levels in the general assessment of health of older individuals.

“This is another example of why it is crucial for people to lead a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet rich in B vitamins and antioxidants.”

B12 for brain

A University of Oxford study reported in 2007 that increased vitamin B12 levels may reduce the rate of age-related cognitive decline and dementia by 30%.

The study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, followed 1648 participants for 10 years and also found that increased levels of the amino acid homocysteine doubled the risk of dementia or cognitive impairment.

Previously, epidemiological studies have reported that high levels of the amino acid homocysteine are associated with suspected or confirmed dementia. Indeed, the Framinghamstudy reported that people with homocysteine levels above 14 micromoles per litre of serum had twice the risk of dementia.

Source: Neurology

9 September 2008, Volume 71, Pages 826-832

“Vitamin B12 status and rate of brain volume loss in community-dwelling elderly”

Authors: A. Vogiatzoglou, H. Refsum, C. Johnston, S. M. Smith, K. M. Bradley, C. de Jager, M. M. Budge, A. D. Smith

New Study Finds that Scented Laundry Products, Air Fresheners are Hazardous to your Health

July 25, 2008

New research by the University of Washington shows that scented laundry detergents and fragrances are hazardous to your health.  The study looked at six of the leading laundry products and air fresheners and found that all of these products emitted nearly 100 disease-promoting volatile organic compounds and none of these chemicals were listed on the product labels. One of my books, Clinical Purification,  discusses ways in which volatile organic compounds lead to disease in the body, including cancer.  It is important to test for toxic chemicals and toxic damage in the body, and to detoxify the body as a means of preventing diseases in the future.  As this research study reveals, it is also important that we use non-toxic household products to minimize our exposure to disease-promoting chemicals. Fortunately there are lots of them available these days.  Some of my favorites include Thieves household cleaner and wipes (you can use the # 931983 to order the products direct from the manufacturer) and products by Seventh Generation.

Dr. Gina

Taking a Summer Break from ADHD Meds

July 16, 2008

Summer is a perfect time for kids to take a break from their ADHD meds. Some experts feel that taking a medication vacation when your child is heading off to summer camp can be problematic. This is because with psychotropic medications like ADHD drugs and antidepressants, symptoms can get worse when you stop the medication-even worse then they were when you first started the treatment.

However, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  If you start working with a qualified and licensed Naturopathic Medical Doctor experienced in treating ADHD without psychotropic medications, then you can start naturopathic  treatment before taking your child off the medication, making the transition to a medication-free holiday a smooth one.

Some of the foundational natural medicines I use in practice when helping children get off of their prescription medications include:

  • Digestion and Absorption of Nutrients
  • Immune Support
  • Full Spectrum Antioxidant, Alkalizing, Daily Detoxification
    • ½-1 scoop of ITI Greens Formula in juice or water. *Note- can mix with Coconut Milk Powder if desired to improve taste
  • Multivitamin-Mineral
    • 1 scoop of Spectrum Awakening, three times daily, away from protein food. Can be mixed with juice or applesauce.
  • Neurological Support
  • Learn more about ADHD and how to treat the underlying cause of this condition by clicking on the links below:

    Whole Food Nutrition for ADHD

    Nutritional Treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: The Hype and the Hope -A Review of Current Research

    Dr. Gina

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