Take Heart

The Herbal Insider Vol 1, Issue 6“The B vitamins…neutralize homocysteine, and thus reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke.”
Nutrition for a Healthy Cardiovascular System

Heart disease is not only one of the nation’s deadliest killers—taking the lives of almost one million Americans each year—but it is also responsible for chronic illness and suffering in many more. Although there are impressive medical advances in the treatment of heart disease, it simply makes sense to take the nutritional initiative and prevent heart disease from developing in the first place. Fortunately there’s no shortage of supplements geared to nutritional prevention—whether it is the management of cholesterol levels or the prevention of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

Vitamin E and Other Antioxidants
Vitamin E is a nutritional leader for preventing heart disease. According to the Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study (CHAOS), when 2,002 men and women diagnosed with atherosclerosis took either vitamin E supplements (containing 400 IU or 800 IU) or inactive pills for 17 months, the risk of non-fatal heart attack was reduced by 77% in the vitamin E groups (Lancet 1996;347:781-86).

But this is not the only study regarding vitamin E. Two landmark studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine reported on vitamin E intake and the risk of heart disease in more than 125,000 men and women (New Engl J Med 1993;328:1450-56, 1444-49). Those supplementing with 100 I.U. or more of vitamin E were found to have up to a 40% lower risk of developing heart disease.

Vitamin E is available in either natural or synthetic forms. The natural forms are designated d- (d-alpha-tocopherol), the synthetic forms dl- (dl-alpha-tocopherol). The natural and synthetic forms are not the same, they are mirror images of each other. In the human body, only the natural form is recognized. The synthetic form may prevent the the natural form from entering cell membranes (Am J Clin Nutr 1976; 29, 569-578. Annu Rev Nutr 1992; 10, 357-382). Therefore, the natural form is recommended. Some doctors recommend water soluble forms of Vitamin E such as Trolox or Aquasol E which can be up to 10 times more expensive than the fat soluble vitamin E. A doulbe-blind study comparing the two indicated that both forms were equally effective.

Vitamin C supplements help lower high total cholesterol levels and LDL-cholesterol levels while raising HDL cholesterol levels in people with mild deficiencies of vitamin C (J Am Coll Nutr 1992;11:107-125). Some research suggests that individuals with a high intake of vitamin C actually have a lower risk of dying from heart disease (Eur Heart J 1997;18:719-727; N Engl J Med 1996; 334:1156-62). For each 0.5 mg/dl increase in vitamin C content of the blood, HDL cholesterol increased 14.9 mg/dl in woman and 2.1 mg/dl in men. For every 1 percent increase in HDL cholesterol, the risk for heart disease drops 4 percent (Am J Clin Nutr 1994; 60, 100-105). Other cardiovascular benefits of vitamin C include the neutralizing of free radicals and, possibly, the prevention and treatment of mild hypertension.

Several minerals are associated with protection from cardiovascular disease in some studies, including calcium, magnesium, and selenium. Bioflavonoids contribute to cardiovascular health by acting as antioxidants, as well as by preventing blood clots (Arch Intern Med 1996;154:637-42).

Fishing For a Healthy Heart?
The omega-3 fatty acids, including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) found in cold water fish oils are linked to cardiovascular health. As little as one serving of omega-3 fatty acid per week can halve the risk of heart attack, according to a study of 827 individuals (JAMA 1996;274:1363-67). Another study, involving older women, reports that eating fish more than once a week halved the risk of stroke (Arch Intern Med 1996;156:537-42). Although most of the research on omega-3 oils has featured fish oils rich in eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), EPA can be manufactured in the body from alpha-linolenic acid. Flax seed contains more than twice as much omega-3 oil as fish oil contains and is a good source of linoleic acid. Flax seed contains: 19.0% linolenic acid and 10.0% linoleic acid.

Make yourself a Flax MaltThe tastiest way I’ve found to get your daily dose of alpha-linolenic acid.
Makes a 1 cup malt

3 tablespoons flax seed
1 cup milk
Dash of Stevia leaf powder
Variations: add some fresh fruit, 1 tablespoon of your favorite jam, Carrot powder or ground nutmeg.

Preparing Flax Seed for Use:
Ingesting unbroken flax seed just passes right through us. For our bodies to digest flax seed, the hull or shell must be broken. Flax seed grinds up very nicely without liquid. Put 3 tablespoons in your blender and set it on the grind or low speed. Turn the blinder off. Add the milk and the Stevia plus your flavoring of choice. Turn on only until blended. Drink and enjoy. After flax seed is ground it is so versatile it can be sprinkled on just about anything. But only grind what you need for one meal.

Food As Medicine
Garlic has been found, in some studies, to lower cholesterol levels, reduce blood pressure, and help prevent blood clots. One study found that individuals with moderately high cholesterol levels taking garlic supplements for three months, decreased their total cholesterol levels by 7% and LDL-cholesterol levels by 4% (Am J Clin Nutr 1996;6:866-70). Systolic blood pressure was lowered by 5.5% and diastolic blood pressure was slightly lowered after garlic supplementation.

Soy protein and soy isoflavones are well-researched for lowering cholesterol levels. A meta-analysis study, pooling together the data from dozens of previous studies, found that in 89% of the studies soy protein lowered total cholesterol levels (New Engl J Med 1995;333:276-82).

Keep on Ticking
A healthy, low-fat diet, regular exercise, drinking 48 ounces of water daily and the use of one or more of the dietary supplements discussed in this article can make a real difference for individuals who want to prevent heart disease and may even help those who already have heart disease. Atherosclerosis is responsible for at least 43 % of all deaths in the US. Because atherosclerosis is largely a disease of diet and lifestyle, many of these deaths could be significantly delayed through a healthy diet.

Checklist: Healthy Heart.
Multi-vitamin/mineral Daily Amount
Vitamin E 400-800 IU per day Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol 1995; 15, 325-333 (especially in smokers and people exposed to stress) Arterioscler Thromb 1992; 12, 554-562
Vitamin C 1,000- 4,000 mg per day
L-Lysine 1,500 mg per day
B-complex vitamins moderate dose supplement daily (with at least 400 mcg folic acid)
Multi-mineral supplement moderate dose daily
Flax seed 3 tablespoons per day
Soy protein 1-3 ounces per day
Garlic 500 – 1000mg per day

In the book “Herbal Defense”, Robyn Landis and Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa have a chapter on “Herbs for the Heart”. This chapter discusses nutrients, special foods, exercise and several other herbs.
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Getting to the ‘Heart’ of the Problem.
The following are risk factors for heart disease:
High Lipoprotein(a) level in blood (see related article”Dr. Linus Pauling”)

Male gender (after age 45)

Female gender (after menopause)

Family history of early disease

High total and LDL-cholesterol levels

Low HDL-cholesterol levels

High triglyceride levels

High blood pressure

High homocysteine levels

Tobacco use

Diabetes

Obesity

Stress

Lack of physical activity

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Weight Loss: The Right Way

The American Health Foundation’s Expert Panel on Healthy Weight urges overweight individuals to base their weight loss goals on two essential criteria: first, that the goal weight is realistically achievable and second, that it can be maintained (Am J Clin Nutr 1996;63:474-77S). To this end, the Expert Panel suggests losing weight in small increments (no more than 10-16 pounds at a time) and then maintaining the new weight for at least six months before attempting further weight loss.

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Go With the Flow

Energy levels naturally rise and fall throughout the day. Discover the rhythms of your personal energy cycles and work with them, not against them. Record your activities for one or two weeks, noting which times of day you feel high-, medium-, or low-energy. Utilize your peak energy times for dealing with demanding tasks, and try to match your energy valleys with times you can relax and recharge.

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HERB OF THE MONTH

Hawthorne
The heart-protective properties of hawthorne were reported by Greek herbalists, however it was not until modern times that medicinal extracts of hawthorne leaves and flowers became widely used. Today hawthorne is best regarded for easing angina, lowering blood pressure, and as support for those with congestive heart failure.

What does it do?
Hawthorne’s leaves, flowers, and berries contain several bioflavonoids that are believed to account for the heart-protective qualities of this herb.

Hawthorne boosts the flow of blood in the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that feed the heart) (Arzneim-Forsch Drug Res 1967;17:490-91).
Contractions of the heart muscle are strengthened by hawthorne (Herz Gefabe 1993;11:516-24).
Hawthorne may inhibit the enzyme angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) and reduce production of the potent blood vessel constricting substance angiotensin II. This results in better circulation to the extremities.
The bioflavonoids in hawthorne also serve as antioxidants (Planta Med 1994;60:323-28).
Hawthorne berry is effective in reducing angina pain, and unlike the heart drug digitalis, is not toxic or dangerous.

How much should I take?
Hawthorne fresh plant extracts comprised of the leaves and flowers or capsules of hawthorne berry are most commonly used. The whole herb has a balance of components in it not found in standardized herbs or extracts.
• Hawthorne capsules in the amount of 495 mg, take 5 to 20 capsules per day.
• Tincture in the amount of 4-5 ml three times daily can also be used.
• Please note that Hawthorne may take 1-2 months for maximum effect and should be considered a long-term therapy.

Are there any side effects?
Hawthorne is extremely safe for long-term use. There are no known interactions with prescription cardiac medications or other drugs, however consult a physician before using this herb for cardiovascular therapy. There are no known contraindications to its use during pregnancy or lactation.

Hawthorne bulk or Hawthorne capsules

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SUPPLEMENT OF THE MONTH

Antioxidants
Antioxidant nutrients—such as vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, bioflavonoids, selenium, zinc, copper, manganese, coenzyme Q10, alpha-lipoic acid, and many others—protect the body from the damaging effects of free radicals.
Herbs, such as bilberry, turmeric (curcumin), grape seed or pine bark extracts, and gingko biloba can also provide antioxidant protection.
Guggul is the supreme cholesterol lowering herb in the world, works the fastest, and has the most scientific evidence behind it. A typical dose of guggul gum in capsule form would be 6 – 660mg capsules per day.

What are free radicals?
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules caused by air pollution, cigarette smoke, ultraviolet radiation, some foods, and even created within the body when we breathe, transform food into energy, or fight an infection.
Over time, free radical damage to the body contributes to dozens of diseases and premature aging. For instance, free radical changes to LDL-cholesterol are an early step in atherosclerosis, damaged DNA can contribute to cancerous mutations, and proteins in the skin mangled by free radicals can appear as wrinkles.

How do antioxidants help?
Antioxidants work in several ways: they may reduce the energy of the free radical; stop the free radical from forming in the first place; or interrupt an oxidizing chain reaction to minimize the damage of free radicals.

Hundreds of well-designed studies in animals and humans confirm that antioxidant nutrients protect against free radical-related diseases (Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 1993;90:7915-22). Antioxidants have also been linked to the prevention and slowed progression of heart disease, cancer, a reduced risk of cataracts, improved immune function, and a delay of premature aging.

A wide variety of antioxidant enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and herbs are probably the best way to provide the body with the most complete protection against free radical damage since many antioxidants work in synergy with one another.

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New Dehydrated Foods Now In Stock

Dehydrated Vegetables and Soups

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Breaking News

Natural vitamin E supplements are superior to synthetic forms of the vitamin, is the conclusion of a review article that included 30 published studies. This review, published in the November 1998 issue of the American Journal of Natural Medicine, compiled evidence showing that the natural form is more bioavailable to the human body than the synthetic. Supplements of vitamin E can be identified as natural on the label by the name d-alpha-tocopherol, as opposed to the synthetic form that is listed as dl-alpha-tocopherol.

Valentine’s Day
Sure, a box of chocolates is a sweet way to acknowledge your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, but it comes with a high price tag in calories, fat, and sugar. Be kind to your loved one’s health, consider one of these alternatives:

• Dip strawberries, kiwi, and orange slices in melted chocolate for a lower-calorie, but still delicious, treat.
• Give your beloved a gift certificate for a massage, or better yet provide the massage yourself.
• Take time to go on a romantic walk together.

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FAST FACTS –

– Americans consume about 12 pounds of peanuts each year. Peanuts provide protein, vitamin E, and folic acid, but they are high in fat and some people are allergic to them.
– When dishing up at a salad bar, go heavy on the lettuce, spinach, tomatoes and other fresh vegetables (for fiber and vitamins) and light on the high-calorie toppings and dressings.
– To ensure a better night’s sleep, make regular exercise a part of your life. However avoid strenuous exercise during the 2-3 hours before bedtime.

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