Vegetables And Dietary Supplementation Protect Against Alzheimer’s

August 30, 2005

Elderly persons who get adequate amounts of folic acid have a 55% reduced risk of getting dementia induced by Alzheimer’s disease, says an American study.

Lack of the B vitamin folic acid is probably the most common deficiency in Denmark. Too few people manage to chew the 2-300 grams of green vegetables that are needed every day if they want the recommended 0.3 mg from the diet. In the United States, 0.4 mg is recommended, but here grain products are legally enriched with folic acid.

By: Vitality Council

1. Corrada MM. et al. Alzheimer’s & Dementia. 2005;1:11-18.
2. Fuso A. et al. S-adenosylmethionine/homocysteine cycle alterations modify DNA methylation status with consequent deregulation of PS1 and BACE and beta-amyloid production. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2005 Jan;28(1):195-204.
3. Quadri P. et al. Homocysteine, folate and vitamin B12 in mild cognitive impairment, Alzheimer disease aqmd vascular dementia. Am J Clin Nutr 2004,80:114-22

St. John’s Wort Outdoes Antidepressant Drugs

February 14, 2005

It is better to take St. John’s Wort than Anti-Depressant Drugs, even when suffering from a moderate to a severe depression. It not only works better but it has fewer side effects. But every second patient needs a double dose.”…

Taking St. John’s wort is better than taking antidepressant drugs, even in the case of moderate to severe depressions. The effect is better and it has fewer adverse effects. However, every other patients needs a double dose for the herb to be effective.

The fact that St. John’s wort can be used for other things than making schnapps has been known for some time. As early as in 1994 it turned out that the plant can be used for even serious depressions, and St. John’s wort has been an unlicenced herbal remedy for some time now.

On account of the usual hypocrisy of the authorities, the remedy is only approved for treating “melancholy, despondency, and sadness”; concepts that are not used in the scientific world of approved licensed medical drugs. It has been documented, however, that St. John’s wort is effective against depression; but the hyprocrisy forbids informing about this even though it is specifically the word of “depression” that is used in the scientific articles.

In Germany, the authorities are truthful and here, St. John’s wort has been officially approved for “mental disturbances, depressive conditions, anxiety, and nervous restlessness” since 1984.

For this reason, German doctors have used far more St. John’s wort than their British colleagues and have spared their patients of nausea, tiredness, impotence, oral dryness, dizziness, sleeplessness, and what else might come from using antidepressants – also called SSRI preparations. In Germany, St. John’s wort is prescribed twice as often as standard antidepressants.

So far, it has been known that St. John’s wort is just as effective against light depression as SSRI preparations and other antidepressants. When it comes to severe depressions, there has been more doubt about its effectiveness even though a study indicated that the effect was fully equal to prescription drugs. However, the study was too small for the results to be valid.

This uncertainty has now been removed. An unusually well accomplished German study performed with typical German thoroughness has documented that not only is St. John’s wort fully equal to the SSRI remedies; it actually outdoes them. In a study involving 244 severely depressed patients, St. John’s wort had both a better effect and caused fewer adverse effects than the widely used SSRI preparation paroxetine.

The study showed that adverse effects only appeared half as often in the group receiving St. John’s wort as in the group receiving paroxetine. After six weeks, the patients who had been treated with St. John’s wort noted a decrease in depression score of 57% while the patients who had been treated with paroxetine could only note a decrease of 45% – scored on the basis of the so-called Hamilton depression rating scale.

In all respects, this study lives up to the highest standards. There are therefore very strong reasons for preferring St. John’s wort to other remedies – in both mild and moderate to severe depression.

You should be aware of two things, however: First of all, the recommended dose in the over-the-counter drugs is generally too small: They advise you to take e.g. 3 – 6 tablets which gives you a total of 900 – 1800 mg of hypericin if the content of hypericin is 300 mg per tablet. The 900 mg is too small a dose.

In the German study, 900 mg was the starting dosage. Approximately every other patient had that dosage doubled after 14 days due to a lacking effect. This means that with Danish pills (450 milligrams hypericum / tablet) you either have to start with 2 and possibly increase to 4 tablets a day to get the same effect as the German trial subjects!

The second thing you should know is that St. John’s wort reduces the effect of several kinds of drugs, including prescription drugs such as contraceptive pills and anticoagulants. The reason for this is that St. John’s wort promotes the breakdown of the drugs in the liver. If you are taking any kind of medicine, you should consult your doctor before starting self-treatment with St. John’s wort!

By: Vitality Council

1. Szgedi A et al. Acute treatrment of moderate to severe depression with hypericum extract WS 5570 (St Johns Wort): randomised controlled double blind non-inferiority trial versus paroxetine. BMJ online 11.2.2005, page 1-6.
2. de Smet P.A.G. et al. St Johns wort as an antidepressant. BMJ 1996;313:241-2 (L).
3. Linde K et al. St Johns wort for depression – an overview and meta analysis of randomised clinical trials. BMJ 1996;313:253-7.

Feel Safe to Use Ginkgo biloba

June 24, 2004

A large number of people use this natural remedy on account of its ability to improve memory. This ability has been documented in numerous studies, including British ones. According to the press, the WHO is quoted for having warned against a danger of hemorrhage when Ginkgo biloba is consumed together with anticoagulants.

There are reports of two deaths and a number of non-fatal bleedings from a total of 22 countries. The suspicion is that Ginkgo biloba enhances the effect of the anticoagulants.

Anticoagulants themselves involve a serious risk of internal bleedings, and every year, hundreds of people die as a result of taking anticoagulants. Therefore, without a scientific investigation, it is impossible to know whether it is Ginkgo biloba, the anticoagulants, or solely a combination of both that is responsible.

Every year, several hundred people – in Scandinavia alone – die from this inevitable side effect of anticoagulants, but a great many more are saved by it. The fact that some of the people who have suffered a cerebral haemorrhage have used Ginkgo biloba at the same time, in no way proves that the combination is risky.

More than 30 medicaments in general use can either fortify or weaken the effect of anticoagulants. Both situations can be highly dangerous. Examples of medicine that fortify the effect of anticoagulants are sulpha drugs used against cystitis, a number of antibiotics, and common painkillers like aspirin.

Kale, chicory, spinach, and many other vegetables also affect the treatment. That Ginkgo biloba should affect the treatment, however, has been repudiated in the only serious study performed to date. It is of Danish origin and was published in the Danish Weekly Magazine for Medical practitioners last year.

In a double-blind, randomized trial it was established that neither Ginkgo biloba nor co-enzyme Q10 had any influence on the haemorrhagic tendency in the 24 participants who were all being long-term treated with warfarin which is the most commonly used anticoagulant.

Unfortunately, anticoagulants do involve a risk of internal bleedings. This is unevitable. However, there is nothing to indicate that the this risk should be increased by taking Ginkgo biloba. On the contrary; present knowledge indicates the opposite!

Professor Ralph Edwards of the WHO Monitoring Centre in Uppsala, Sweden, feels abused by the press in this matter, as he says:
“We have NOT warned against Ginkgo biloba. There is no news in the statement of the WHO which is only a press release about new guidelines on information regarding dietary supplements and natural medicine. It is not even very likely that Ginkgo biloba should interact with anticoagulants, but it is common sense not to use a vasodilating supplement together with anticoagulants or in relation to an operation.”

By: Vitality Council

Ugeskr Laeger. 2003;4;28;165(18):1868-71. [Effect of Coenzyme Q10 and Ginkgo biloba on warfarin dosage in patients on long-term warfarin treatment. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over trial].

Also see the original press release of the WHO.

Dietary Supplements Reduce the Need for Medicine

March 1, 2004

Like nutrition, many supplements have a positive effect on the physiological processes of the body. A new scientific study has shown that Pycnogenol, a substance extracted from pine bark, can lower the blood pressure to such an extent that the need for hypotensive medicine is reduced by 50%.

As is the case with food, a lot of dietary supplements have a positive effect on the body’s physiological processes.

For instance, new scientific research has shown that Pycnogenol can lower the blood pressure to such an extent that the need for hypotensive medicine can be reduced by 50%.

Pycnogenol is an extract of a particular type of pine bark that is found along the French southwest coast. Pycnogenol has the effect of an antioxidant, i.e. it inhibits the damaging processes that contribute to making us ill and grow old before our time.

In recent years, studies have shown that hypertension is responsible for more than 50% of all strokes and heart attacks.

Previous studies have also shown that Pycnogenol has a long line of positive effects on the body’s functions, but the news is that it is capable of lowering the blood pressure as well.

According to a scientific article in Life Sciences (no 74;7:855-862), Professor Rohdewald from Hamburg has made a so-called double-blind, placebo-controlled trial along with colleagues from Beijing in which the trial subjects were given either 100 mg. Pycnogenol or placebo during a period of 12 weeks.

It turned out that Pycnogenol was capable of lowering the blood pressure to such an extent that the amount of hypotensive medicine (Nifedipine) could be reduced by 50% after the 12 weeks.

Socioeconomically, it might open up to interesting perspectives as almost 17 million people in the UK suffer from hypertension which increases the risk of coronary thrombosis, cardiac failure, and stroke.

The hospital expenses for cardiovascular diseases are several billion pounds a year and so are the expenses to heart medicine.

If a dietary supplement like Pycnogenol can reduce this consumption of medicine by 50%, it can turn out to be just as interesting as when Glucosamine was able to reduce the consumption of antirheumatic medicine and the number of operations for arthrosis.

By: Vitality Council

Life Sciences 74;7:855-862.

Q10 and Ginkgo biloba may be taken together with blood thinners

May 5, 2003

Q10 and Ginkgo biloba may be taken together with blood thinning medication. A Danish study shows that it is non-dangerous to take the two supplements together with the blood diluting substance Warfarin.

An article in the danish medical journal, Ugeskrift for læger, rejects the suspicion that the two supplements may either weaken or enhance the effect of Warfarin (Marevan), which is typically used in the prevention and treatment of blood clots, eg in the heart or brain.

By: Vitality Council

Ugeskrift for Laeger, 28. April 2003, no. 18.