Archive for April, 2009

The Story of Statin Drugs

Monday, April 27th, 2009

For many years cholesterol was the supposed culprit for arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis, and the drug companies were looking for a way to stop high cholesterol.

Cholesterol, discovered as a major constituent of gallstones, was identified in 1775 as the first known steroid. Steroids are a member of the vast array of natural products known as terpenoids. Mankind has used these substances since antiquity as ingredients of flavors, preservatives, perfumes, medicines, narcotics, soaps and pigments. The name terpene was derived from research into the manufacture of camphor from turpentine by 1894. But the relationship of steroids to the terpennoids wasn’t discovered until the late 1950s. (1)

“The biogenesis of cholesterol starts from a simple chemical reaction: Under the influence of ultraviolet radiation, photosynthetic plants combine water with carbon dioxide, the well-known gas we exhale in every breath, to form glucose, the fuel of our bodies.

“From the humble origin, the first step toward the production of cholesterol in the human body involves the process of glycolosis in which glucose is converted into the two-carbon molecule, building blocks of life known as acetyl-CoA. These simple fragments then combine to start the cholesterol biosynthetic pathway. Next, three molecules of Acetyl-CoA combine stepwise to form the six-carbon hydroxymethyl glutaric acid part of the intermediate complex know as HMG-CoA, which has proven to be the Achilles heel of cholesterol biosynthesis.

“This is the weak point in the chain of events the pharmaceutical industry was looking for and the one that enabled them to develop their statin drugs, for when two molecules of HMG-CoA next combined to form the ubiquitous mevalonic acid, the enzyme, HMG-CoA reductase was required. This enzyme was quite easily inhibited and suddenly a multibillion-dollar industry was born with the development of the HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors known as the statin drugs. Whether Lipitor, Mevacor, Zocor, Pravachol, or the ill-fated Baycol, all use the same mechanism and are merely variations of the same theme as marketed by different pharmaceutical companies to obtain market share.

“One can imagine the chagrin of the pharmaceutical industry to discover in a simple yeast from the Orient that Mother Nature already had provided her very own “completely natural” HMG-CoA inhibitor, red yeast rice. For thousands of years this yeast, known as Monascus purpureus, has been used to ferment rice into wine and as both a spice and preservative. Needless to say, any possible interference of this oriental fermentation product with our emerging statin drug industry was obviated by Merck’s patent—the first ever filed on a naturally occurring substance. Mother Nature’s cholestin would never compete with Merck’s identical product, lovastatin, which has the trade name of Mevacor.

“Research biochemists soon identified the HMG-CoA reductase step as a natural control point for cholesterol synthesis since the reaction was not reversible and it was the slowest step of the entire cholesterol pathway. It seemed a natural point for the cholesterol control—the pharmaceutical companies now had their ‘corral.’ One can almost feel the pulse of the industry leaders quicken in anticipation of the potential market size.”  (2)

Next blog will tell of the Achilles heel of the statin drugs.

1.      Graveline, Duane, M.D., LIPITOR, THIEF OF MEMORY, Published by Duane Graveline MD. 2006, p. 55

2.      Ibid. pp.53-54

A Study on Fish Oil

Sunday, April 26th, 2009

New Study Shows Fish Oil Improves Cholesterol Levels in Professional Football Players

The January/February 2009 issue of Sports Health, A Multidisciplinary Approach, shows that fish oil given to professional football players improved their cholesterol levels.

The research team chose Ultimate Omega™ from Nordic Naturals, Inc. During the two month period of the 2006-07 football season, the 36 professional football players were randomly assigned to the control or the treatment group. The treatment group were given 4 soft gels per day of Ultimate Omega, which provided 2560 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (650 mg EPA; 450 MG DHA; and 180 mg of other omega-3 fatty acids per soft gel).

“The results illustrated a rather dramatic decrease in triglyceride levels, a healthy increase in HDL, and lowered LDL in the athletes who used a moderately high dose of omega-3 EFA fish oil,” relates Joseph Maroon, MD, a board certified neurosurgeon who serves on the Nordic Naturals Scientific Advisory Board and was one of the study researchers.

This study adds to the many publications that have shown fish oil to be a helpful preventative measure for heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends 2 to 4 grams of EPA and DHA daily for individuals with elevated triglycerides and 1 gram of EPA and DHA daily for individuals with risk factors for heart disease.

Dr Joseph Maroon has become one of the nation’s leading advocates of fish oil and has recently authored two books, Fish Oil: The Natural Anti-Inflammatory, and The Longevity Factor: How Resveratrol and Red Wine Activate Genes for a Longer Healthier Life. I have mentioned the former book a number of times because that is the book that got me into this blog.

Nordic Naturals is a leader in omega-3 fish oils and EFA blends with exceptional taste, freshness and purity levels. For information: call 800-662-2544 or visit

More on Vitamin D

Friday, April 24th, 2009

As the warm weather finally gets to Minnesota and I have started walking the lakes and the Mississippi River again, it’s time to rethink my exercise schedule. For almost the last six months my exercise has been indoors. Now as I start walking our beautiful lakes I need to watch that I don’t get too much sun at one time. As my doctor reminded me yesterday if you put suntan lotion on you don’t get the rays for making vitamin D in your body. If you don’t put suntan lotion on and get too much sun you can get skin cancer. It’s a balancing act.

One thing to keep in mind is that we need more vitamin D. It appears that taking a supplement of vitamin D3 is the answer.  Three to 5000 IU per day should give everyone the vitamin D they need to stay healthy. We always knew we needed vitamin D for health, we just didn’t realize how many ways it works in our body.

A recent large-scale study on seniors found that the lack of vitamin D could be linked to memory loss. This study included almost 2,000 adults over 65 years of age. This means that vitamin D supplements could possible reduce dementia.

Vitamin D is one the better researched vitamins. It has a wide range of health benefits backed by indisputable science.

In adults, the lack of vitamin D may bring on osteoporosis, muscle weakness, fractures, common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular diseases.

Unfortunately vitamin D is usually only received through exposure to the sun or through fortified foods. Add to that, the skin of adults loses its capacity to absorb vitamin D as they grow older.

Are you heading to your health food store to stock up on vitamin D supplements?

For more information check out the December 10, 2008 issue of Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology.

Mediterranean Diet

Friday, April 17th, 2009

The Mediterranean diet, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins C, E and folate, is the only dietary pattern associated with a lower risk for heart disease, says a new review.

According to findings published in this week’s Archives of Internal Medicine, modest relationships were found supporting omega-3 fatty acids, folate, whole grains, alcohol, fruits, fibre and dietary vitamins E and C and beta carotene, for reductions in the risk of heart disease.

On the other hand, trans-fatty acids and foods with a high glycemic index (GI) were associated with detrimental effects on heart health, wrote the researchers, led by Andrew Mente, from the Population Health Research Institute.

Read the whole story at, April 15, 2009

Obesity and High Fructose Corn Syrup

Monday, April 13th, 2009

The average American now consumes 145 pounds of high fructose corn syrup per year. New research proves how high fructose corn syrup bypasses the normal energy balance in your body.

When scientists want to make rats diabetic so they can study them they feed them high fructose corn syrup.

Look at the number of obese people in our nation.

How long will be Americans sit idly by and  just become obese and diabetic?

Read more about this in Byron Richards Wellness Resources Newsletter.

Practice Forms of Mental Hygiene

Friday, April 10th, 2009

In the 19th century, many psychiatrists and psychologists emphasized the importance of mental health attitudes and practices. They coined the term “mental hygiene” for making the brain function more efficiently. Although there have been changes to the ways of practicing mental hygiene the concept is still good.

One way to change attitude is to stay physically and mentally active. Inactivity leads to boredom which can lead to depression. Many times people stay focused on being perfect, or perfectionism. They take everything too seriously. There are many things which need to be taken seriously but often we take seriously things that are not life threatening.

Back in my dating years I had mothers of girls I dated telling me I took life too seriously. Unfortunately it took me many years to realize this and make changes. Our level of stress rises when we dwell on supposed or real problems. And as I said in an earlier blog most of our illnesses come from stress.

Since the brain can keep only one thought at a time in the foreground of consciousness, it’s important to emphasize the positive. As the old song goes: “You’ve got to accentuate the positive”.

Omega-3 Lowers Depression in Women

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

I recently read this and next found it in my email from Better Life Unlimited. So I present it to you as written with permission from Better Life Unlimited.

Study Raises Hope For Omega-3 And Female Depression
Patricia Zifferblatt | April 7, 2009
Better Life Unlimited  

What a great headline! What a great study!

According to a recently released study, “higher intakes of Omega-3 fatty acids and oily fish may reduce the number of occasions that women suffer depressive symptoms by about 30%”(1).

In the study, conducted by researchers at University of California, San Francisco, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, researchers report that high intake of Omega-3 fatty acids containing EPA and DHA resulted in favorable reduction of depressive episodes in the 3,317 women who participated in this study. The results were similar for women in the study who consumed oily fish, naturally high in Omega-3 fatty acids. “Our results are consistent with other epidemiological studies that have examined the association of fish intake or dietary Omega-3 PUFAs with depressive disorders or mental disorders. In addition, several small, randomized, double-blind trials found that adjunctive treatment with Omega-3 PUFAs improved depression.” PUFAs stand for poly unsaturated fatty acid, the fats found in Omega-3 rich foods and supplements. Interestingly enough, the Omega-3 PUFAs appeared to be more effective with women, but not men!

So how much Omega-3 should a woman take? Most experts agree that a supplement with 400 i.u.’s of both DHA and EPA every day is the normal suggested amount, but many physicians will up the dose for some patients to 800 i.u.’s every day for a limited period of time. Talk with your doctor and refer to this study that is published in the 2009 issue of Nutrition.

   1. Nutrition, 2009 (Feb. 3) L.A. Colangelo, K. He, M.A. Whooley, MlL. Daviglus, and K. Liu. Higher dietary intake of long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids is inversely associated with depressive symptoms in women.

Better Life Unlimited
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Stress & Breathing

Monday, April 6th, 2009

Some studies say that 90 percent of our illnesses are stress related. Breathing deeply can melt that stress away. There is scientific evidence that deep breathing from the diaphragm chemically changes a person’s physiology, which is a person’s mechanical, physical and biochemical function. We can quickly change a stressful situation into a calm, even flowing, life response. How we breathe regulates our physical bodies as well as our emotional and mental states. The key is knowing how to change our breath before anxiety arises. The normal “flight or fight” response is the stressor in this situation. Sometimes we need this “flight or fight” response, but in today’s society we don’t normally have a tiger chasing us so we don’t need this response most of the time.

As we practice breathing from our belly we fill our lungs all the way to the bottom. Remember when you go to the doctor’s they ask you to breathe deeply so they can tell if there is any congestion in your lungs.

You can do this sitting or lying down. I do it both ways. Sometimes when I awake in the middle of the night I’ll place my hands on my belly and breathe in and out making sure I breathe deeply. Other times when I’m in the sauna I will meditate and practice my breathing. Either way it will keep you from stress.


April 16 is National Health Care Decisions Day

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

I just read this invitation from William Mitchell College of Law. If you are not in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area you can check out the national website listed below to see what is happening in your neighborhood.

The public is invited to complete health care directives with free assistance from William Mitchell College of Law students and alumni

People don’t like to think about what type of medical care they’d want if they were incapacitated due to illness or injury. But that’s exactly what William Mitchell College of Law students and alumni are inviting the public to do from 9 am to 6 pm Thursday, April 16, in the law school’s Kelley Boardroom.

William Mitchell students and alumni will be on hand to provide free assistance to anyone who wishes to complete an advance health care directive.

An advance health care directive legally documents a person’s healthcare wishes so that family and physicians will know exactly what medical procedures should or should not take place if the person is unable to communicate.

It takes less than an hour to complete the form, which may include preferences about special end-of-life treatments, emergency surgeries, resuscitation orders and organ donation.

The event is part of the second annual National Healthcare Decisions Day. Throughout the country on April 16, healthcare providers, attorneys, and others will participate in a massive effort to highlight the importance of advance healthcare decision-making. National Healthcare Decisions Day at William Mitchell is sponsored by the Elder Law and Estate Planning Society and the Center for Elder Justice and Policy at William Mitchell College of Law.

For more information about the event visit

Restless Legs Syndrome

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

A study at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center found that compression therapy may be as effective as medication for alleviating symptoms of restless legs syndrome (RLS). There has been a lot of television advertising for relief from RLS which uses strong, often infective medications. Researchers from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center had patients randomly assigned to wear pneumatic compression devices (PCDs), which apply pressure to the leg at intervals, or a mock device. After wearing the PCDs for a minimum of one hour every day for a month, some patients reported improved quality of life, less fatigue, and reductions in pain, and one-third had complete relief. The control group reported no relief.

This article was in Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing newsletter of April,  2009.

If you are concerned about your health this is a good newsletter to obtain.