Dr.Karol, MD

The doctor with alternative solutions


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The Best Supplements for Gout

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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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You are what you eat: Kids & Multivitamins

In the absence of a strict, healthy eating regime from the very beginning, many children resort to junk food, processed foods, foods laden with animal fats, processed sugars, sugar-packed candy & processed drinks, artificial coloring and other garbage. They will especially resort to such diets when their authority figures are not watching. This can begin as early as Grade 1, when they start experiencing more freedom.

Such undisciplined gorging paves the way to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory pain conditions, indigestion and —later in life— hypertension and strokes.

Nutrition begins at home

The best way to teach proper eating habits is to not allow the above listed “foods” in the home environment, and to lead by example. If these “foods” are eliminated and not allowed at home, their consumption will drop by up to 80%, because children won’t have time to access them elsewhere. They may have an opportunity at lunch or right after school when no one is watching, but not all day long. With such an approach, the worst-case scenario is a nutritious breakfast, (such as organic eggs, fresh tomatoes, a glass of organic milk, and a small piece of multigrain bread with organic jam), and a healthy dinner. Let’s also remember that the diet plans in most schools lack proper nutritional value. Their meals are usually very simple in composition and they are vitamin and mineral deficient.

The Biology of Food

Even when an effort is made at home, kids still may not get enough nutrients. Kids are growing (even beyond the age of 18) and they need more nutrients, vitamins and essential minerals in order for their biology to advance, promoting optimal physical development, mental development, mental balance as well as sufficient energy levels. These essential nutrients also detoxify their bodies of environmental pollutants as well as from the nasty stuff they eat when we are not watching. When these nutrients become deficient, they can lead to mood swings, depression, inattention, aggressive behavior, lack of energy, decreased learning & memory and a general feeling of lethargy.

Supplements: Going Beyond the Pantry

There is a simple way to prevent this. Have them take one large size multivitamin/multimineral tablet each day with a meal. Supplement with an additional fish oil capsule for mental health and optimal learning. Fish oil with omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to help prevent the development of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). This disorder is very common — although also commonly over diagnosed— in children.

And please remember: Try to make them eat at home more often and less often away from home. This will minimize their consumption of junk foods. Make the home meals nutritious with lots of protein, greens, vegetables and healthy oils such as olive oil and flaxseed oil. Also, try to keep it low in carbohydrates. This includes breads, dough, chips, French fries, and pop. Good luck! (No cynicism intended.) If you take my words as a gospel, your kids will thank you when they grow up.

Until next time,
Dr. Karol


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Paleo Diet for Body Building and for General Health

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The Paleo diet, or as it is properly named, the Paleolithic diet, just makes sense. It may not be 100% accurate in terms of the original argument for its support, but from a physiological point of view, it’s simply logical. The original concept was based on the theory that humans existed as hunters and gatherers for much longer (about 100 000 years longer at least) than as farmers. Agriculture began about 10 000 years ago. Today, our society feeds itself from modern agriculture. Thus, the theory goes, the digestive tract of humans has not had enough time to adapt to modern foods through genetic selection.

WHAT IS THE PALEO DIET?

What we are talking about in the Paleo diet is a diet primarily based on meats (fish, seafood, wildlife, beef and poultry), healthy oils (such as olive, grapeseed, hemp, fish and coconut, for example) as well as berries, fruits and vegetables. This is the basis of the Paleo diet. It lacks grains (including wheat), wheat-based products, dairy of any kind, processed foods, fast food, and salt.  The primary drinks are water and tea. It lacks coffee and any fruit juices, and most notably, it lacks pop drinks of any kind. The food also comes in a raw form more often than the modern diet due to the pretense that ancient people did not cook the majority of their food. Continue reading


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Aged Garlic Extract for Heart Health

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Previously I have written a blog post on the general health benefits of garlic. I have also covered this fascinating topic on the radio at The Natural Health Show. Here, I will expand on the topic and write about Aged Garlic Extract’s positive effect on heart health.

To begin with, both fresh garlic and aged garlic have the same health benefits. The primary reason why garlic is aged is because during the aging process the compound responsible for garlic’s strong odour and taste is degraded. This is done so that garlic, in supplement form, will not cause one to basically smell like garlic. The aging process does not however decrease the amount of the active, health benefiting ingredients.

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Arginine and Nitric Oxide

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In the year 1992 the molecule Nitric Oxide was called the molecule of the year by the scientific community. The reason for this is that it plays an extremely vital role in regulating blood pressure as well as the functionality of the immune system. Furthermore it plays a fundamental role in male (and female) erections. If you are wondering what I mean by female erections, the explanation is that the female clitoris is developmentally equivalent to the male penis (both are derived from the same developmental structure in early neonatal development). And just like the penis gets bigger and erected during arousal so does the clitoris. The mechanism responsible for both of these phenomena are the same. Namely nitric oxide acting on smooth muscle in a relaxatory fashion.

The penis, the clitoris as well as the wall of arteries are primarily composed of smooth muscle. Smooth muscle is not under voluntary control like skeletal muscle (i.e. the muscles like the biceps or the quadriceps). When nitric oxide binds to such muscle it causes relaxation. Such relaxation dilates blood vessels. In the heart arteries and in arteries all over the body this means a drop in blood pressure and more blood flow. This is something desirable as more blood means more oxygen and nutrients to the tissues that the arteries supply. In the penis and the clitoris the increased blood flow means that more blood crosses from the arteries into the erectile tissues of these organs. The reason for this is that the blood vessels in these organs are perforated allowing blood to escape from the inside of the blood vessel to the outside into the erectile tissue. This is what cases these organs to get engorged with blood making them hard, erect and more sensitive to touch….Read more….


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Resveratrol for Heart Health

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Many of us have heard that red wine, in moderation, is good for the heart. By moderation, I mean one glass of red wine per day. Research on red wine has concluded that one of the primary compounds responsible for this effect is Resveratrol. This compound is mostly found in the skin of red and purple grapes. It is transferred to the red wine during the fermentation process. As you can imagine, a lot of wine drinkers accepted this relatively new news with full enthusiasm. As always, I am here to reveal the truth of the matter based on my extensive research into the topic. Furthermore, as is commonly the case, the connection of Resveratrol with heart health is a bit more complicated than it seems, so I decided to illuminate the subject. Continue reading


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10 Steps to Support Your Heart

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The month of February is Heart Health awareness month. Here in this article I will briefly explain perhaps the 10 most important factors for having a healthy heart. The reason why this is so important is two fold. First a healthy heart gives us longevity as well as an improved quality of life. Without a healthy heart there are many things in life that can not be enjoyed or simply performed. The other reason is that cardiovascular complications are second in line as the most common cause of premature death (cancers are number one on the list). This is especially true for men around the age of 50. By maintaining a healthy heart and reducing the risk of developing cancers (with the use of antioxidants, detox supplements, and prophylactic tests at the right time) we can reduce the chance of premature death by as much as 80%. Not only that, but we can also sustain a life full of energy and enjoyment.

So here are the top 10 things you can do to have a healthy heart. Continue reading