Dr.Karol, MD

The doctor with alternative solutions


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Arthritis and Natural Solutions

arthritis

 

 

My inspiration for today’s blog topic was something I experienced while running in this morning before work. It’s something that many of us are familiar with this time of year:  joint pain. Thankfully it’s probably nothing serious and it quickly went away with a little “lubrication” stimulated by the exercise. However, I realized that this is something that probably a lot of us are experience right now due to the ever changing weather conditions and the damp fall air. Why this happens is not entirely clear, and in many cases it is just a harmless and temporary occurrence while we adapt to the colder weather.

However, in many cases joint pain can be attributed to arthritis and this is a medical condition that needs more attention. Arthritic conditions actually encompass a whole separate specialty in medicine. There are four main types of arthritis. The most common one is Osteoarthritis (due to damage to the joint either by excessive usage, infection, or age). The other types are Autoimmune Arthritis (where the immune system makes a mistake and recognizes joint tissue as something foreign and therefore mounts an attack on the joint tissue), Septic Arthritis (which is due to an infection of the joint), and Gout (which is due to the deposition of Uric Acid and which in many cases can be prevented by a diet low in red meat and alcohol). Although they are all different, there are two things that are common to all of these types of arthritic conditions and these are inflammation and damage to joint tissue…Read more….


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The Best Supplements for Gout

http://www.vitarock.com/best-supplements-for-gout#.VONj3sJ0w5s

While in Montreal for a recent trade show, I came across a man suffering from gout. He’s a middle-aged well-built man who appears to be someone who spends a lot of time in the gym, not someone living with gout. But he limped when he walked and he was in pain. When I mentioned my work and interest in natural health he practically begged me to give him advice on how to deal with his pain. So I’m writing this article and sending him the link.

WHAT IS GOUT?
Gout is the build-up in joints of a substance called uric acid. Uric acid is formed as a by-product of purine breakdown. Purines are chemical molecules which make up the backbone of our genetic code, i.e., our DNA. As cells divide and old ones are replaced by new ones, the DNA of old cells is broken down to individual units before being used again to form new DNA. The by-product of this process is uric acid. Most people have no problem with uric acid, but some individuals, (due to genetic predisposition, diet or lifestyle), have a predisposition to having uric acid deposited in the joints. When this happens, the uric acid takes the form of sharply pointed needle-like structures (visible under a microscope). These needles cause excruciating, persistent pain and inflammation — described as the worst pain of all rheumatic conditions. For some unknown reason, this usually occurs in the big toe, but any joint can be affected. The worst thing about this condition, other than the excruciating pain and incapacity, is that the pain is continuous — even at night —and the flare-ups can last for weeks. If not properly treated or prevented, this condition can eventually cause permanent joint damage as well as serious kidney damage.

WHY DO WE GET IT?
What are the predisposing factors and how should one’s lifestyle be modified to decrease the chances of gout? Firstly, there is genetic predisposition. Some individuals are just more prone to develop gout. But just because you are predisposed, does not mean that you will get gout. This is because diet and lifestyle play a large role as well. The biggest gout triggers are: fatty red meats, organ meats (like liver), shellfish, herring, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, asparagus, mushrooms, all caffeinated beverages, high fructose corn syrup, sugary soft drinks, fruit juices (because of the high fructose content), sweets and alcohol (especially beer). With respect to alcohol and gout, wine is better than liquor and liquor is better than beer. But all three impact gout.

Other predisposing factors are heart disease, kidney disease, diabetes, high cholesterol & high blood pressure, obesity and lack of exercise (especially cardiovascular exercise).

NATURAL TREATMENTS FOR GOUT
With respect to natural supplements and diet to prevent and treat gout, the most important are anti-inflammatory compounds, as the pain in gout is due to inflammation. Here are the best examples:

Fish oils high in EPA at a dose of 2000-3000 mg of EPA per day.

Flaxseed oil, added generously in its raw form to salads or in smoothies. You can also take it with a spoon.

Turmeric, Devil’s Claw and Boswelia: These are powerful natural anti-inflammatory gifts of nature. They decrease inflammation by affecting multiple points in the inflammatory cascade. Interestingly, these are the same agents used to treat arthritis and other types of pain.

Bromelain is a plant enzyme found most commonly in pineapples. When taken with food, it works like a digestive enzyme. When taken on an empty stomach, it is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.

Alfalfa apparently can dissolve the uric acid crystals responsible for gout. I recommend alfalfa sprouts, as sprouts are usually the richest in enzymes, nutrition and medicine.

Milk Thistle for liver support metabolizes the purines and uric acid efficiently as well protecting the liver from ongoing inflammation.

Antioxidants in the form of bioflavonoids reduce inflammation and oxidative damage. My favorite in this category is Bioflavia, which is organic grape skin powder.

Plant proteins, especially fermented ones like my favourite, Genuine Health, are important because most animal proteins (from meats, fish and shellfish) predispose to gout. Supplement with plant proteins so you don’t become protein deficient.

Water: Drink at least 3 liters of fluids (mostly water) per day. This is especially important during gout attacks. The water will help flush out the excess uric acid.

B Complex vitamins efficiently metabolize purines, uric acid, proteins and carbohydrates.

Finally, tart cherries, tart cherry juice and other berries, preferably organic and fresh, are said to work miraculously. The reason for this is their very high level of bioflavonoids and anthocyanins. Both are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties.

MAINSTREAM MEDICAL APPROACH
Your doctor will most likely first prescribe NSAIDs like Ibuprofen for the pain of gout. This brings only temporary partial relief and will not solve the underlying problem. NSAIDs also cause stomach ulcers, kidney damage (which is already taxed by the uric acid) and potentially intestinal and stomach bleeding. They also predispose to heart attacks and strokes. If NSAIDs are not enough, doctors recommend steroids (prednisone etc.). These are either injected into the excruciatingly painful and inflamed joint, or are taken orally. In either case, they are highly toxic. They cause hypertension, fluid retention in the body (causing swelling), mood swings (which can be quite serious), and obesity. Also, you cannot stop them abruptly when taken over longer periods of time because this can lead to shock. You must slowly taper your dose. Your doctor may also run some tests to determine if you are over-producing or under-secreting uric acid through your kidneys. For over-production, a drug called Allopurinol is prescribed. It does not work for flare-ups but is rather used to prevent attacks. The problem is that in some cases, it can cause potentially fatal inflammatory skin conditions (Stevens Johnson Syndrome, etc.). It can also cause serious kidney damage as well as inhibition of bone marrow, leading to problems with blood formation. With respect to under-secretion of uric acid, the commonly prescribed drug is Probenecid. It increases uric acid secretion in urine. It is also used for prevention and not for flare-ups. Its potential side effects are headaches, joint pain, swelling, nausea and vomiting. For flare-ups, in addition to NSAIDs, Colchicine is used. It can cause serious stomach upset, bone marrow depression as well as problems with sensory nerves. Although not all patients experience these side effects, many do. By taking them, you risk being one of them. Natural treatments are not only risk-free but the compounds listed above are powerful gifts of nature that benefit our overall health and well-being.

Take care and good luck preventing and treating your gout in a natural, healthy way.

— Dr. Karol M.D

 

 

 

 


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Radical Remedies: The Health Benefits of Magic Mushrooms

Today’s topic is perhaps the most interesting so far. With increasing legality of medical marihuana and the increasing flow of positive evidence of its health benefits it is no surprise that renowned university research centers have undertaken studies of magic mushrooms.

A study performed by John Hopkins University has found that low doses of the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, called psilocybin, had an anti-aging effect on openness. Openness relates to the ability to see and appreciate beauty, to imagine, to be aware of our own and other peoples feelings and to be curious and creative. Normally these traits attenuate as we age as we become more rigid. Magic mushrooms have been found to reverse this process with long lasting effects, on average up to a year or longer.

Research volunteers have reported increased interconnectedness to all people and things, feeling of peace and joy, a sense of sacredness and of stepping outside of “normal time and space”.

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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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Holiday Digestive Health: The Natural Way

Thanksgiving is not only a time to celebrate with family and friends. It’s also a time when overeating abounds. Here are some tips for managing your digestive system in the face of all that food and drink:

  • Make a smooth and slippery coating in your GI track with psyliium husks so that food can pass easily without irritating the inner lining of our gut. This will prevent constipation as well as diarrhea.
  • Help the gall bladder and the pancreas with plant digestive enzymes like those found in the DigestMore
  • Probiotics (in capsule form or via kefir) ensure proper digestion in our large intestines and the prevention of the buildup of toxins. They also help treat Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis as well as irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Some great remedies for heartburn are licorice (a component of DigestMore listed above), aloe vera (it has that nice mucous texture that protects the stomach), as well as calcium and even baking soda. This last one is also very beneficial to our kidneys, something I have written about before.
  • The more we eat, the more the liver is taxed. Milk Thistle protects the liver from the effects of alcohol, something that can also come in handy around Thanksgiving.

That may be a lot to swallow, but it comes down to this: Take 2 DigestMore capsules per day with food, some probiotics, milk thistle and something for heartburn like calcium, which also benefits our bone health. Happy Thanksgiving!

Dr. Karol


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Radical Remedies: Royal Jelly

Bee Royal Jelly

Did you know that bees create Royal Jelly?

When worker bees are raising a new queen bee, they feed a few chosen larvae copious amounts of Royal Jelly, a honeybee secretion that stimulates morphological changes in the larvae to transform them into queens. The queen is much larger than the workers, it has a longer life span and unlike to the worker bees, it has ovaries that can produce eggs.

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Radical Remedies: Natural Testosterone Boosters

RR_natural_testosterone_boosters

NHS

 

 

There is renewed hype about testosterone replacement therapy. At first, a lot of middle-aged men jumped on the bandwagon because testosterone replacement offered a quick fix to improve vitality, energy, stamina, strength and sexual performance.

Now, lawyers and critics are not far behind as more and more TV ads about testosterone replacement causing increased risk of strokes and heart attacks appear. Other potential side effects are increased risk or exacerbation of prostate cancer, decreased sperm count, acne and hair loss.

The story of testosterone replacement is probably just too good to be true.

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