Curcumin, Krill Oil and the risk of diabetes

Metabolic Syndrome is a recently identified and increasingly common health condition. It is characterized by an increase in abdominal fat. Blood tests show elevated triglycerides as well as cholesterol and often borderline high blood sugar.

Metabolic Syndrome is associated with an increased risk of developing Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes, as well as cardiovascular disease and other diseases of aging.

It has been my standard practice over the past several years to recommend a moderately low-carbohydrate diet for people with this condition. Certain supplements, to help normalize blood sugar, increase detoxification, and other products based on individual circumstances can also be of use.

Following these simple steps, my patients often notice rapid and significant improvements and blood tests quickly normalize. Recent studies show that two simple and readily available supplements can further enhance the process of reversing Metabolic Syndrome. Read More »

A world awash in chemicals

We have long suspected that chemicals interact with one another, creating destructive synergies, but this has been difficult to prove since very few studies have ever looked at the combined effects of multiple chemicals. This applies not only to chemicals in the environment, like pesticide residues or plastics, but also to medications, most of which are also chemical compounds. Although medications are studied for safety, these studies are only performed on one medication at a time, even though they may very well interact with one another and with other chemicals thereby creating new compounds with different and unknown safety profiles.

Now the tip of the iceberg may be starting to emerge, as a new study from Duke University looked at the interaction between the pre-term labor drug terbutaline (Bethine), for which one million prescriptions are written every year, and ubiquitous pesticide residues. The study used rats, but it is very likely that the results apply to humans as well since rats have consistently been shown to be more resistant to chemicals than we are.
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Fish oil and mental function

The benefits of fish oil have been attributed to two fatty acids that are abbreviated as EPA and DHA. These play many important roles in the body: they contribute to the structural integrity of cell membranes and are converted to substances called eicosanoids that act as hormones, promoting normal communication between cells (including brain cells) and controlling inflammation. When early research showed lower rates of depression and mental illness in people who ate more fish, scientists studied the human brain and found it contains significant amounts of DHA. They concluded that DHA is best for the brain and EPA plays other roles in inflammation and heart health.

However, research failed to confirm this view. When the effects of EPA and DHA were compared in double-blind studies, EPA provided clear benefits whereas DHA did no better or marginally worse than placebo. This was seen in a number of conditions including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (1). In a study of depressed patients who did not respond to standard medical care, pure EPA at a dose of 1 gram per day was found to be an effective treatment (2). The same dose of EPA was also found to provide some degree of help in borderline personality disorder, a condition that is usually non-responsive to drug therapy (3).

Leading fish oil researchers now believe that DHA only plays a structural role in the brain, whereas EPA contributes to its function (4). There is a critical need for DHA during fetal development and early infancy – the fact that DHA is found in breast milk is clear evidence of this. Past this early period, the need for DHA is limited and too much of it seems to actually have an adverse effect on moods.

Until recently, pure pharmaceutical-grade EPA was only available for research purposes, and all the fish oil on the market contained varying concentrations of both EPA and DHA. Now, the innovative Canadian supplement manufacturer Advanced Orthomolecular Research (AOR; see for more information) has introduced a pure EPA supplement called EPA Brite that is also available here in the online store.

(1) Schizophr Res 2001 Apr 30; 49 (3): 243-51, Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 2003 Dec; 69 (6): 477-85, Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids, 1999 May-Jun; 60 (5-6): 329-37
(2) Arch Gen Psychiatry, 2002 Oct; 59 (10): 913-9
(3) Am J Psychiatry, 2003 Jan; 160 (1): 167-9
(4) See The Omega 3 Connection, by Andrew Stoll, MD

Fish oil and heart disease

It had been known for some time that fish oils help prevent heart disease. More recently a new class of cholesterol-lowering “statin” drugs were also shown to help prevent heart disease. However, these two products were never compared. A recent review article published in the Archives of Internal Medicine (Oct. 2001;161(18):2185-92) looked at a number of existing clinical trials on fish oil and concluded that they “demonstrated reductions in risk that compare favorably with those seen in landmark secondary prevention trials with lipid-lowering drugs.”

The article proposes that fish oils may work by preventing arrhythmias, lowering blood lipids and preventing clot formation.

Fish Oil Improves Symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis

A recent study published in the Journal of Rheumatology (2000;27:2343-46) found that shifting dietary balance away from omega 6 oil (commonly found in vegetable oils) and towards omega 3 oil (found in fish oil) significantly alleviates symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

In this study, subjects were instructed to restrict their dietary intake of omega 6 oil, then one group received fish oil supplements and another group received olive oil. Researchers found that after 15 weeks the fish oil group exhibited “statistically significant improvements in 6 of 9 measures of disease activity”. Improvements included less pain, fewer tender and swollen joints, and reduced stiffness. No significant improvements were observed in the olive oil group. Fish oil contains certain fatty acids that have been shown to have powerful anti-inflammatory action with no side effects. The best results are obtained when fish oil is used in combination with diet changes and other synergistic nutrients.

Multiple Sclerosis And Fish Oil

A group of newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis patients were given fish oil, a multiple vitamin and basic dietary advice. Results proved that these measures led to a significant reduction in exacerbation rates of the disease (Acta Neurol Scand, 2000; 102:143-149).

Although outside the scope of this study, testing the stool for certain types of “unfriendly” bacteria, and ordering a simple hair analysis to check for toxic metals, can also be of value in the natural management of MS.