Dr.Karol, MD

The doctor with alternative solutions


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Radical Remedy: Transcendental Mediation

Stress is a silent killer. And there is no shortage of it in our fast paced, big-city lives. It burdens our mental health and releases the stress hormone cortisol – a hormone that contributes to cardiovascular disease, obesity, poor glucose control and diabetes.

Enter transcendental meditation. It not only reduces stress substantially, but it may also lead to deeper self-awareness and spiritual development. And it doesn’t have to be about religion — it’s about meditation’s proven effect on our health – not to mention the relaxed mind and body state it creates.

You don’t need special training to meditate. Just grab a pillow and sit down in a peaceful corner of your home, yard or office. Sit up straight and relax your body, ensuring that your shoulders and spine are aligned.

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Alcohol and Insomnia: Breaking the Cycle

Over half of all Canadians have insomnia, the medical term for problems falling asleep, waking up at night, being unable to go back to sleep, and very early morning wakings.

People who suffer from insomnia feel tired in the morning, are irritable, have a lack of concentration and thus lower work performance throughout the day. These effects stimulate our brains to do something to make us feel better and to take the edge off. The most common go-to remedies are junk food, coffee, smoking and alcohol. All four of these things bring short-term, temporary relief but all they also worsen the insomnia in a vicious cycle. Usually the initiating factor is stress, which leads to poor quality sleep, and sometime afterwards alcohol consumption to reduce the stress.

The Trouble with Alcohol
Alcohol (or ethanol in chemical terms) is a neural inhibitor and a depressant. It inhibits communication between brain cells. This is in contrast to stimulants like amphetamine and cocaine, which increase communication between nerve cells.

Alcohol binds to our brain receptors called Gama Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) receptors. This is one of the neurotransmitters in the brain. A neurotransmitter is a chemical molecule that nerve cells use to communicate between each other. GABA normally inhibits nerve cells. This has a calming effect on our mind. This effect of GABA is also conducive to falling asleep and maintaining good quality sleep. Melatonin is another major compound responsible for sleep. What is important is that alcohol binds to the GABA receptor at a different site from GABA on the same receptor.

Alcohol and the Brain
So how is this connected to alcohol? Well, as mentioned above, alcohol binds to the same receptors as GABA. But here is the interesting part: Whenever you stimulate a receptor by the molecule that binds to it, the brain reacts by increasing the number of receptors. This is the foundation of what is called drug tolerance. As a person uses a drug, (in this case alcohol), it requires progressively more and more of the drug to achieve the same effect. This is due to the brain increasing the number of receptors. Of course such a process takes months, as new receptors require new protein synthesis from the genetic code.

When a person drinks on a regular basis, the brain reacts by increasing the number of GABA receptors. But the amount of GABA in the brain stays the same. It is the alcohol and not the GABA that causes the increase in receptors. A normal amount of GABA in the brain will have a lesser overall effect on the brain because the number of receptors has increased due to alcohol. The consequence is that GABA will have a weaker effect. Since GABA is an inhibitory and a relaxing compound, the consequence of it having a weaker effect will be the opposite, i.e. anxiety, nervousness, and in the context of this blog, difficulty falling asleep and maintaining sleep. The difficulty of maintaining sleep in this scenario stems mostly from very vivid dreams.

The Vicious Cycle
So what do people reach for when they cannot sleep? Often it is alcohol. This compensates for the weaker effect of GABA due to increased receptors, and does bring relief in the form of sleep, albeit temporary. But the effect will be a hangover in the morning and further increase of receptors. This will require more and more alcohol to achieve the desired effect of “good” sleep. This is one of the ways to achieve complete alcohol dependence, otherwise known as alcoholism.

Breaking Free
So what is the healthy solution? There is only one: Complete abstinence from alcohol so that the number of GABA receptors in the brain return to normal. This takes anywhere from a minimum of one to three months. You will be able to tell when you achieve this when you begin sleeping normally without any alcohol. Unfortunately, the first few weeks will not be fun. Without alcohol and with GABA’S weaker effect, your quality of sleep will not be good.

But look on the bright side. You are doing something extremely healthy. You are breaking away from the vicious cycle of alcohol-sleep dependence and regenerating all of your organs that have endured the negative effects of alcohol.

This is just another example of the cycle of life and the balance of nature, or as Isaac Newton said, “What goes up must come down”.

See you next time.
For more sage advice from Dr. Karol and for natural health product recommendations, visit vitarock.com


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Radical Remedy: The Wonder of Amber

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Baltic Amber use date back thousands of years. The Eastern Europeans used it as a tincture before of modern antibiotics came along. It was employed to increase immunity and treat pain like teething, stomach upsets, to boost energy in the elderly, and to enhance men’s libido.

How does it work?

Baltic amber is high in succinic acid. This substance is crucial to the Citric Acid Cycle, which generates energy in our cells. This acid is also vital to the cells of our immune system. It boosts the division rate of those cells and helps them eradicate pathogens. This is how amber imitates an antibiotic and helps increase vitality.

What can amber help ease?

Succinic acid is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent and pain reliever. It prevents oxidative damage to cells in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, general back pain and menstrual pain.

But that’s not all. Amber necklaces and amber smoke were used in early times to ward off bad spirits. Seem implausible? Amber may actually reverse the effects of electromagnetic waves from electronics and from the sun. This 50-million –year-old precious gem has more than a few tricks up its sleeve.


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Radical Remedy: MDMA for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

What does Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD conjure up for you? War veterans back from their battles abroad? Perhaps. But you don’t have to fight overseas to experience trauma. There are natural disasters, loss of loved ones, and many other experiences that can leave a permanent mark of emotional distress. PTSD sufferers often relive the trauma, experience anxiety, drug abuse and insomnia. Unfortunately, current medications are not very effective in treating this condition.

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Radical Remedies: What is Detox?

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What is detoxification? From a medical point of view, it is the neutralization and excretion of toxic substances from our bodies. Some of the most common sources of these toxic substances are heavy metals in food and water or industrial and/or combustion engine derived pollutants. We either inhale them, consume them in our food or drink, absorb them through our skin, or they are produced as by-products of our metabolism. They are either directly toxic to our cells or cause damage by stimulating the production of free radicals and inflammation. They not only cause cell damage but may also accelerate the aging process and contribute to the development of many unpleasant medical conditions.

The most important organ that detoxifies these substances is the liver, but the kidneys also play a very important role in concentrating these substances in the urine and excreting them out of the body. Other means of detox are by excretion through stool, bile and sweat.

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The Inner Immunity Of Children

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Today I am going to talk about a very interesting topic: inner Immunity.

I am going to put a pediatric spin on this one. When I was a kid I had frequent infections. Then I started spending some time in a veterinary lab facility where one of my close relatives worked. Back then, access to such facilities was not as restricted as now. Once there, I would spend time watching pathogenic bacteria under the microscope. Shortly afterwards I stopped having infections. Was it just a coincidence?

I am bringing this topic up because I think that some individuals are living with the misconception that raising children in a completely sterile environment is good for them because it keeps them away from bugs such as bacteria, viruses, and the freakiest kind, parasites. Well, this is actually only partially true. When the immune system is exposed to these pathogens it recognizes them as foreign entities and mounts an immune attack to fight the infection. Please be careful. This is not true for individuals who are immune compromised: for example, children with genetic mutations causing their immune system to be weak. But the stimulated attack is not the only thing that happens. The other interesting thing is that during this initial fight the immune system forms what are called memory B cells. These cells actually “remember” the particular pathogen for many years, and when an individual is exposed again to that same pathogen at some future time, the immune response is much stronger and quicker than the first time….read more….