Dr.Karol, MD

The doctor with alternative solutions

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Digestive Health and Overeating

The Gastro Intestinal or GI tract performs the following functions:

  1. Breakdown of large food particles in the stomach (mainly by mechanical movement and acid)
  2. Digestion and absorption of food in the small intestine
  3. Absorption of fluids and vitamins in the large intestine
  4. Expulsion of waste material and toxins
  5. Immunological surveillance by the large number of lymph nodes surrounding the GI tract

The GI tract also includes the following:

Liver (mainly involved in metabolizing food and neutralizing toxins)

Pancreas (release of digestive enzymes and hormones that control sugar metabolism)

Gall bladder (involved in the production of bile for digestion of fats)

Starting with the stomach, the most common problems are:

  • Irritability
  • Pain
  • Ulcers
  • Heartburn (regurgitation of food and acid back into the esophagus)
  • Irritability, pain and ulcers are usually due to too much acid and too little protective mucous in the stomach

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Radical Remedy: Hemp Hearts

If you are looking for a new superfood, here is one you don’t want to miss. It’s called a hemp heart and it’s a hempseed without its shell. Its composition is simply mind blowing. Containing 33% of protein it provides all the amino acids which are required for life. This includes all the essential amino acids that need to come from our diet. This plant based protein is also a great source of energy. The body prefers to burn it instead of converting it to fat.

When digested and utilized by the body, it produces an alkaline environment. This is in contrast to animal based proteins. An alkaline environment around cells promotes health. Bones are not dissolved, muscle rebuilds faster, circulation is improved and all the cells of the body are much happier.

Another third of Hemp Hearts are polyunsaturated fats mostly omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. These fats are excellent for brain health. They improve our memory and overall mood. They are also strongly anti-inflammatory thus benefiting patients with inflammatory conditions as well as supporting a healthy cardiovascular system. The fats are also an excellent source of energy. They suppress our appetite and make us feel fuller. With the addition of a proper diet individuals have lost and kept off a pound of fat per day.

Finally the last third is composed of fiber, which is excellent for digestive health and for preventing colon cancer, some complex carbohydrates and an impressive array of minerals and vitamins. Iron, calcium, and many essential vitamins are all present at impressive but still safe levels.

You can add these amazing seeds for optimal health to your oatmeal, sprinkled on cereal, added to yogurt, mixed in a smoothie or a protein shake, or mixed with some fruit or in any other way that you like or prefer.

They are tasty, healthy, and absolutely amazing anyway you look at it.

Dr. Karol M.D

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

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The Best Supplements for Gout


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.

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.

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).

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.

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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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


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 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: Fecal Transplants Work

Shocking but true: Another person’s stool samples in enteric-coated capsules can save your life in the case of a certain devastating condition. Fecal transplant treatment is here to stay.

It all begins with a condition called Pseudomembranous Colitis —an infection of the bowel caused by clostridium difficile bacteria. The condition develops after antibiotic treatment eradicates all bacteria in the gut, including the good bacteria called probiotics. Normally probiotics prevent colonisation by bad toxic bacteria. However, when these good bacteria are eradicated by antibiotics, there is plenty of room for bad bacteria to step in and cause disease. The consequence: C-difficile causes the deaths of 300 people each day in North America — despite modern medical efforts.


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