Stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or blood vessel, cutting off blood flow to your brain. As a result, brain cells die and brain damage can occur. Without proper and timely treatment, a stroke can be lethal
Estimates suggest 10% of all strokes occur in people under the age of 50, and 2.5% of strokes occur in those under the age of 20
Studies have shown that, surprisingly, blocking inflammation after a stroke isn’t beneficial. Recent research demonstrates brain inflammation following a stroke actually plays a beneficial role in neuroplasticity and recovery of function
It’s imperative to rapidly implement neurocognitive training after a stroke, as your brain circuits need the proper stimulus to reroute
Education appears to play a role in stroke recovery by acting as a cognitive reserve against poststroke cognitive impairment. Getting the proper nutrition after a stroke is also crucial for optimal recovery
Strokes can be divided into hemorrhagic stroke and ischemic strokes, and approximately 80% of them are ischemic brain injury. Ischemic strokes are sometimes referred to as “brain attacks” (instead of “heart attacks”) because they typically occur when a blood clot blocks an artery or blood vessel, cutting off blood flow to your brain, as opposed to your heart.1
As a result, brain cells die and neurological damage can occur. Without proper and timely treatment, a stroke can be lethal. According to the latest statistics published in 2020,2 an estimated 795,000 strokes occur each year in the U.S., and in 2017, 146,383 Americans died as a result.
It’s also a leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S.3 Worldwide, stroke is the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability.4 While most strokes occur in the elderly, younger people are by no means immune. Between 1995 and 2012, stroke rates nearly doubled for men between the ages of 18 and 44.5 Among men between 35 and 44 years, the incidence rate rose by 41.5%.6
Estimates suggest 10% of all strokes occur in people under the age of 50,7 and 2.5% of strokes occur in those under the age of 20.8 The prevalence of having three to five risk factors for stroke (such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and obesity) have also significantly increased since 2003.9
The good news is we’re learning more about stroke recovery as time goes on, and there are quite a few strategies that can help improve your condition after a stroke. There are also many things you can do to prevent it in the first place.
Rapid treatment is imperative, though. As noted in the journal Stroke,10 the ideal treatment window is within three to six hours of onset, and even then, 5% end up with long-term disabilities.
The Role of Inflammation in Poststroke Recovery
Ann Stowe, a scientist and lab manager at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine’s department of neurology,11 focuses her studies on the role your immune system plays in your brain’s recovery after a stroke.12 Clinical research has found that, surprisingly, blocking inflammation after a stroke isn’t beneficial. Stowe told Newswise:13
“We reviewed a clinical trial that focused on blocking inflammation after a stroke in stroke patients, and it was a profound failure. From that point on, I’ve had the theory that brain inflammation is actually required for stroke recovery. It’s not all detrimental.”
Through her research, Stowe is trying to determine how inflammation can be manipulated to support rather than hinder neuroplasticity and recovery of function after a stroke. She explains:
“When you think about the brain and how it reorganizes after stroke, there are many areas that are involved. It’s the other areas of the brain that survived the stroke that actually rewire and reorganize to support recovery. Inflammation can actually affect these other areas, too …
This study suggests that B cells might have a more healing role. Hopefully from this, we can better understand the inflammatory processes after stroke — and long term, possibly identify what subsets of immune cells can support stroke recovery.”
The Importance of Humoral Immunity Poststroke
Most recently, Stowe and colleagues found14,15 B cells — a type of white blood cell that are part of your humoral immunity and secretes antibodies16 — migrate into remote areas of your brain and support neurogenesis after you’ve had a stroke. As explained in her study:17
“Neuroinflammation occurs immediately after stroke onset in the ischemic infarct … We identify bilateral B cell diapedesis into remote regions, outside of the injury, that support motor and cognitive recovery in young male mice.
Poststroke depletion of B cells confirms a positive role in neurogenesis, neuronal survival, and recovery of motor coordination, spatial learning, and anxiety … Lymphocytes infiltrate the stroke core and penumbra and often exacerbate cellular injury.
B cells, however, are lymphocytes that do not contribute to acute pathology but can support recovery. B cell adoptive transfer to mice reduced infarct volumes 3 and 7 d[ays] after transient middle cerebral artery occlusion, independent of changing immune populations in recipient mice.
Testing a direct neurotrophic effect, B cells cocultured with mixed cortical cells protected neurons and maintained dendritic arborization after oxygen-glucose deprivation …
Stroke leads to central nervous system (CNS) damage, which results in functional deficits and is exacerbated by an inflammatory immune response derived from both the innate and adaptive immune systems.
Mechanistic studies … show a significant infiltration of innate immune cells, including monocytes, macrophages, and neutrophils, predominantly in the area of ischemic injury (i.e., infarct, periinfarct regions).
The role of the adaptive immune system is also pivotal to stroke recovery, as it can both exacerbate and ameliorate long-term neuropathology, depending on the lymphocyte population, location, and timing of activation.
Location and timing are particularly relevant, as recovery of lost function in stroke patients depends on functional plasticity in areas outside of the infarct (i.e., remote cortices) to subsume lost function.
Neurons in remote cortical areas that are interconnected to the infarct up-regulate growth factors and plasticity-related genes after stroke … B cells, critical effector cells for antibody production and antigen presentation, are one adaptive immune cell subset with the capacity to also produce neurotrophins to support neuronal survival and plasticity.”
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy — Valuable Tool in Stroke Rehab
Hyperbaric medicine, as an emerging interdisciplinary subject, has been applied in the treatment of strokes since the 1960s. Hyperbaric oxygen can be defined as the breathing of 100% oxygen at a pressure higher than atmospheric pressure.
Many have demonstrated that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is capable of increasing oxygen supply, improving cerebral circulation, reducing ischemia-reperfusion injury and alleviating the extent of irreversible neurological impairment.18
Following an ischemic stroke, in which cerebral blood flow is impaired, irreversible neurologic injury occurs within minutes.19 Of particular interest are the regions surrounding the initial site of injury where the tissue is at risk but not facing irreparable damage, and the potential to salvage these nerves still exists.
Decreased oxygen supply to the damaged area including blood vessels further prevents tissue repair and the generation of new brain tissue. Consequently, increased oxygen has been considered as a potential treatment for stroke for several decades.20
The use of HBOT for brain injury is based on the hypothesis that injured or inactive nerve tissue would benefit from increased blood flow and oxygen delivery, which would act to metabolically or electrically reactivate the cell.21
A recent study found improvements in cognition and executive function as well as physical abilities, such as improved gait. Treated patients reported improved sleep and quality of life following HBOT treatment and had improvements in blood levels of biomarkers for inflammation and neural recovery.22
Advances in Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation
As noted in the 2017 paper,23 “Stroke Recovery & Rehabilitation Research,” which represents “the collective thoughts of the NIH StrokeNet Recovery & Rehabilitation Working Group,” most current poststroke therapies “aim to maximize function in brain areas that survive the stroke, or provide compensatory approaches to improve overall function.”
Many of those approaches are based on what we now know about the molecular and physiological events that arise in your nervous system in the days and weeks following a stroke. Classes of therapies available or in the works include the use of:24
Robotics and other devices
Intensive brain training
The paper highlights the importance of concomitant behavioral training, noting “the brain circuits galvanized for rewiring need the right experience to shape them, akin to normal development.”
In other words, your brain will need to relearn how to do things like eating and moving, just as if you were a young child, and without the proper stimulus, your brain will not be able to achieve the required rewiring. What’s more, 80% of this recovery occurs within the first 30 days after a stroke,25 so it’s crucial to implement as many rehab strategies as possible to optimize the outcome.
For these reasons, it’s crucial to know what to do as soon as you’ve been diagnosed with a stroke at the hospital, or even while you’re in the ambulance to the hospital. In 2019, I interviewed Bob Dennis about his excellent book, “Stroke of Luck: NOW! Fast and Free Exercises to Immediately Begin Mastering Neuroplasticity Following Stroke — Right Now!”26
This is the book you want to have when you are in the emergency room so you can rapidly begin the process of activating your neuroplasticity and regain as much lost function from the stroke as possible.
Just as it’s important to get rapid medical assistance when suffering a stroke, the sooner you begin taking steps to heal your brain after a stroke, the faster and more complete your recovery will be. You can get the key points of the book, “Stroke of Luck,” completely free, without download, simply by opening the Amazon book preview.
Education Is Neuroprotective
It’s also well known that the ability to recover from a stroke varies widely from one person to the next. As noted in the paper,27 “Stroke Recovery: Surprising Influences and Residual Consequences,” “Even two individuals with very similar appearing ischemic strokes may show very different outcomes one year later.”
This paper also stresses the importance of education, noting that “education might have a role in recovery … based on previous studies indicating that education may promote neuroplasticity or may have a neuroprotective effect against cognitive decline.” The authors further added:28
“One study did find that the highest educational levels were associated with lower rates of poststroke cognitive deficits and dementia and higher rates of long-term survival, independently of stroke severity, age, sex, marital status, and white matter lesions in individuals with mild/moderate ischemic stroke.
Results were interpreted as support for the hypothesis that high education, a proxy for cognitive reserve, protects against poststroke cognitive impairment.”
Other studies have stressed the importance of nutrition for brain recovery after a stroke.29,30 For example, the 2011 paper,31 “Nutrition for Brain Recovery After Ischemic Stroke: An Added Value to Rehabilitation,” points out the importance of protein supplementation during recovery, as protein synthesis is suppressed in the ischemic penumbra (i.e., the area of the brain surrounding the ischemic event).
It cites research showing protein supplementation enhances recovery of neurocognitive function poststroke. B vitamins are also important, as they’ve been shown to mitigate oxidative damage caused by free radicals and lipid peroxidation, as is zinc. According to this paper:
“In clinical practice, patients with ischemic stroke were found to have a lower than recommended dietary intake of zinc. Patients in whom daily zinc intake was normalized had better recovery of neurological deficits than subjects given a placebo.”
Other important nutrients and dietary components during poststroke rehabilitation include:
Certain herbal supplements may also be useful, including the following:41
Stroke Prevention Guidelines
It’s important to realize that the vast majority of strokes are preventable, so your lifestyle plays a major role in whether or not you’re going to become a statistic here. Lifestyle factors that can have a direct impact on your stroke risk include:
Exercise — By normalizing your blood sugar and improving your insulin and leptin receptor signaling, exercise helps normalize your blood pressure and reduce your stroke risk. If you’ve had a stroke, exercise is also very important, as research shows it can significantly improve both your mental and physical recovery48 and reduce your risk of recurrent stroke.49 For example:
A 2013 study published in Stroke50 concluded that walking at least three hours per week reduces stroke risk in women better than inactivity, but also better than high intensity cardio.
This may have something to do with the inordinate amount of physical stress “conventional cardio” has on the heart, and the fact that people generally do too much of it for too long. Perhaps women are more susceptible to these risks than men. Conventional cardio can cause arrhythmias, and in some cases, atrial fibrillation, which is a known risk factor for stroke.
In 2009, a study in Neurology51 found that vigorous exercise reduces stroke risk in men, as well as helping them recover from a stroke better and faster. However, moderate to heavy exercise was not found to have a protective effect for women.
Sleep — Research52 shows that compared with sleeping seven to eight hours a night, regularly sleeping for nine hours or more can increase your stroke risk by 23%, while shorter sleep (less than six hours a night) had no significant effect on stroke risk. Taking long midday naps (more than 90 minutes) raised the risk by 25% compared to napping 30 minutes or less.
Those who both slept for nine hours or more at night and napped for more than 90 minutes were at greatest risk. This excessive sleep combination increased stroke risk by 85% compared to moderate sleepers and nappers.
On the other hand, research53,54,55 has also found genetic predisposition to insomnia is associated with a significantly higher risk of coronary artery disease, heart failure and ischemic stroke. Genetic predisposition to insomnia was associated with a 13% increased risk of larger artery stroke, an 8% higher risk of small vessel stroke and a 6% increased risk of cardioembolic stroke.
“Diet” soda and energy drinks — Research56 shows regular consumption of artificially sweetened “diet” soda significantly raises your 10-year stroke risk. Caffeine-loaded energy drinks can also cause your blood to become sticky, which is a precursor to stroke. A single can of Red Bull can increase your risk of stroke fivefold, experts warn.57,58,59
Stress — According to a 2008 study,60 the more stressed you are, the greater your risk of suffering a stroke. For every notch lower a person scored on their well-being scale, their risk of stroke increased by 11%. Not surprisingly, the relationship between psychological distress and stroke was most pronounced when the stroke was fatal.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and birth control pills — If you’re on one of the hormonal birth control methods (whether it’s the pill, patch, vaginal ring or implant), it is important to understand that you are taking synthetic progesterone and synthetic estrogen.
These contraceptives contain the same synthetic hormones as those used in hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which has well-documented risks, including an increased risk of blood clots, heart attack and stroke.
Vitamin D — According to research presented at the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Annual Scientific Sessions in 2010,61 low levels of vitamin D — the essential nutrient obtained from exposure to sunlight — doubles the risk of stroke in Caucasians. Get tested twice a year to make sure you’re within the ideal range of 60 ng/mL to 80 ng/mL year-round.
Statins — Statin drugs are frequently prescribed to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. However, while these cholesterol-lowering drugs have been shown to lower the risk for ischemic stroke by 20% in patients with a history of cerebrovascular disease, they increase the risk of a hemorrhagic stroke by 73%.62
There are two reasons why this might happen: The drugs may either lower cholesterol too much, to the point that it increases your risk of brain bleeding, or they may affect clotting factors in your blood, increasing the bleeding risk.
Grounding63 — Walking barefoot, aka “grounding,” has a potent antioxidant effect that helps alleviate inflammation throughout your body. When you put your feet on the ground, you absorb large amounts of negative electrons through the soles of your feet.
High-sugar diets, smoking, radiofrequencies and other toxic electromagnetic forces, emotional stress, high cholesterol and high uric acid levels are examples of factors that make your blood hypercoagulable, meaning it makes it thick and slow-moving, which increases your risk of having a blood clot or stroke.
Grounding helps thin your blood by improving its zeta potential. This gives each blood cell more negative charge which helps them repel each other to keep your blood thin and less likely to clot. This can significantly reduce your risk of stroke.
Research has demonstrated it takes about 80 minutes, or 40 minutes over two grounding periods, for the free electrons from the earth to reach your blood stream and transform your blood, so make it a point to regularly walk barefoot on grass or on wet sand for about 1.5 to two hours, if possible.
TMAO levels — Studies have shown high levels of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and stroke,64 so measuring your blood level of TMAO could be a powerful predictive tool for assessing your stroke risk. In one analysis,65 high blood levels of TMAO increased the risk of dying from any cause fourfold in the next five years.
Moreover, the paper shows that krill oil, astaxanthin, fish oil and berberine may be among some of the best supplemental strategies for those with high TMAO levels after diet optimization, as it is simply a reflection of insulin resistance in the liver.
Alcohol consumption — Research67 shows heavy alcohol consumption in middle age can be a risk factor for stroke. Those averaging more than two drinks a day were found to have a 34% higher risk of stroke than those who averaged less than half a drink per day.
According to this study, “Midlife heavy drinkers were at high risk from baseline until the age of 75 years when hypertension and diabetes mellitus grew to being the more relevant risk factors. In analyses of monozygotic twin-pairs, heavy drinking shortened time to stroke by five years.”
Smoking — As one of the major risk factors for stroke, quitting smoking is an important consideration if you’re concerned about your stroke risk.
Sauna — Long-term research68 shows that, compared to sauna bathing just once a week, those who take a sauna four to seven times a week lower their risk of stroke by as much as 61%.
How to Recognize a Stroke
A stroke doesn’t advertise its pending arrival, which makes prevention all the more important. That said, getting medical help quickly can mean the difference between life and death or permanent disability, should you or someone you love suffer a stroke. This is an area where conventional medicine excels, so please do not delay in getting medical attention.
Nine out of 10 strokes are ischemic strokes,69 which result from an obstruction in a blood vessel supplying blood to your brain. The other form of stroke is known as a hemorrhagic stroke, which is when a blood vessel actually ruptures, which can lead to rapid death. The five-year survival rate for hemorrhagic stroke is only 26.7%.70
In the case of ischemic stroke, there are emergency medications that can dissolve a blood clot that is blocking blood flow to your brain. If done quickly enough, emergency medicine can prevent or reverse permanent neurological damage, but you typically need treatment within one hour, which means the faster you recognize the signs, the better the prognosis.
Research also shows primary stroke centers have lower mortality than other hospitals,71 so if a stroke is suspected, be sure to ask them to take the patient to a primary stroke facility. The following symptoms can signal a lack of oxygen to your brain, which could be due to a stroke:
Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially when occurring on one side of the body; face drooping, typically on just one side
Sudden confusion; trouble talking or understanding speech
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, or double vision
Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
Sudden severe headache with no known cause; nausea or vomiting
The National Stroke Association recommends using the FAST acronym to help remember the warning signs of stroke.72 If any of these occur, call for immediate emergency medical assistance (in the U.S., call 911):73
F = FACE — Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A = ARMS — Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = SPEECH — Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech sound slurred or strange?
T = TIME — If you observe any of these signs, it’s time to call 911.
It’s important to pay attention to these symptoms even if they last only a short time and suddenly disappear, as it could be a sign of a ministroke, known as a transient ischemic attack. While brief, it’s important to get it checked out to rule out a serious underlying condition that could lead to a more severe episode later.
Your circadian rhythm is largely dictated by your pineal gland, located near the center of your brain, which produces melatonin, a hormone that is crucial for the regulation of your sleep cycle
Melatonin is also an important energy hormone and a potent antioxidant that appears to play an important role in cancer prevention. It also benefits your brain, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health, and has been shown to boost immune function
Melatonin helps protect your mitochondria, which generate energy inside your cells. Melatonin appears to be the most powerful antioxidant in this regard, as it has the ability to enter into your mitochondria. It also recharges glutathione
Melatonin works synergistically with vitamin D to optimize mitochondrial function. It also enhances vitamin D signaling
Multiple sclerosis, cancer, neuropsychiatric disorders and high blood pressure are all examples of diseases that appear strongly linked to and affected by your vitamin D and melatonin status
Sleeping well is an essential strategy to optimize your health, and at the heart of it is your circadian rhythm. This is also known as your body clock. It’s a natural, biological timer present in every one of your cells that helps your body recognize sleepiness and wakefulness over a period of 24 hours.
Your circadian rhythm is largely dictated by your pineal gland, located near the center of your brain, which produces melatonin, a hormone that is crucial for the regulation of your sleep cycle.
If you have had enough exposure to bright light in the daytime, your pineal gland typically starts secreting melatonin around 9 p.m.1 As the amount of melatonin in your brain increases, sleepiness sets in as your body begins to prepare for sleep.
If you stay awake past dark, artificial light — especially that emitted by electronic devices — will inhibit your body’s melatonin production, so, ideally, you would stop using electronics at least an hour or two before bedtime to help increase melatonin production and maintain a steady circadian rhythm.
Melatonin Does More Than Control Sleep
While melatonin works as a natural sleep regulator, its biological effects don’t end there.2 It’s also a potent antioxidant3 that plays an important role in cancer prevention.4 It’s also thought to be important for brain, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health,5 and has been shown to boost your immune function in a variety of ways.
In one study,6 researchers suggested melatonin may even improve the treatment of bacterial diseases such as tuberculosis. In another, melatonin was identified as a potential tool against inflammation and autoimmune diseases, including Type 1 diabetes.7
Melatonin is also an important energy hormone. As noted in the Stanford University course paper “Melatonin and Energy Levels:”8
“… decreasing the melatonin in the blood stream, consistent with the body’s natural response to suppress the secretion in the presence of light, causes the body to function at a higher energy level … An increase in the melatonin levels leads to a subsequent decrease in energy levels.
As such, understanding how to control and optimize the secretion and suppression of the melatonin for optimal hours of the day could help improve the treatment of sleep disorders and positively impact the energy levels of individuals.”
In short, if your sleep efficiency is impaired, meaning you’re not sleeping as deeply as you should, for as long as is ideal, then your energy level is going to be adversely affected.
Conversely, spending most of your daytime hours in poorly lit rooms, especially if you’re also exposed to excessive light after sunset, can impair your melatonin production, causing you to not sleep well.
Melatonin Protects Your Mitochondria
Importantly, the antioxidant activity of melatonin also helps protect your mitochondria, the tiny organelles inside your cells that generate most of the ATP or energy currency of your body. As noted in a 2007 paper in the Frontiers of Bioscience:9
“Melatonin is an ancient molecule present in unicellular organisms at the very early moment of life … The best-known actions of melatonin, currently supported by experimental and clinical data, include antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities, some of them involving genomic regulation of a series of enzymes.
Besides, melatonin displays anticonvulsant and antiexcitotoxic properties. Most of the beneficial consequences resulting from melatonin administration may depend on its effects on mitochondrial physiology.”
In fact, melatonin appears to be the most powerful antioxidant in this regard, as it has the ability to actually enter into your mitochondria.10 This is an ability that not all antioxidants have. According to this Frontiers of Bioscience paper,11 melatonin helps “prevent mitochondrial impairment, energy failure and apoptosis in oxidatively-damaged mitochondria.”
One of the things that makes melatonin so powerful is that it doesn’t just act as an antioxidant in and of itself; it also interacts with your body’s innate antioxidant system where it recharges glutathione.12 However, this brings us back to the importance of sleep.
Since melatonin is only released in response to darkness, and is easily and significantly inhibited by light (such as regular room lighting and electronic screens, after dark), your mitochondrial health will suffer if you do not take steps to optimize your sleep.
Aside from worsening your sleep quality and decreasing your sleep quantity, low melatonin production also increases oxidative stress, speeds up the aging process and raises your risk of degenerative diseases and chronic fatigue, thanks to its influence over your mitochondria.
A paper13 that will be published in the May 2020 issue of The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology — which I was able to review early, parts of which I’m sharing with you here — sheds further light on this connection. Not only does melatonin enhance vitamin D signaling, the two molecules act synergistically to optimize your mitochondrial function.
As noted in this paper,14 “The biosynthetic pathways of vitamin D and melatonin are inversely related relative to sun exposure,” meaning both are dependent on properly timed exposure to the sun.
A hypothesis presented by the researchers is that vitamin D and melatonin “play an essential role as modulators of mitochondrial function and adaptation to circadian and seasonal variations.”
Additionally, “both molecules are involved in the homeostatic functioning of the mitochondria,” the authors point out, stressing that the mitochondria are, in fact, “the final common target for melatonin and vitamin D.” Furthermore:
“A deficiency of these molecules has been associated with the pathogenesis of cardiovascular diseases, including arterial hypertension, neurodegenerative diseases, sleep disorders, kidney diseases, cancer, psychiatric disorders, bone diseases, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes, among others.
During aging, the intake and cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D, as well as the endogenous synthesis of melatonin are remarkably depleted, therefore, producing a state characterized by an increase of oxidative stress, inflammation, and mitochondrial dysfunction …
Mitochondrial dysfunction has been related to the etiologies of many complex diseases where overactivation of the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system (RAAS), vitamin D deficiency and the reduction of melatonin synthesis converge.
In this sense, experimental and clinical evidence indicates that inflammation, oxidative stress, as in mitochondrial dysfunction, are consistent with low levels of melatonin and vitamin D, and also represent risk factors connected with development and maintenance of prevalent acute and chronic pathologies.”
Melatonin-Vitamin D Combo Produces Strong Synergistic Effects
According to the 2020 paper in The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,15multiple sclerosis, cancer, neuropsychiatric disorders and high blood pressure are all examples of diseases that appear strongly linked to and affected by your vitamin D and melatonin status.
Interestingly, a 2012 study16 pointed out melatonin is “an overlooked factor in schizophrenia and in the inhibition of antipsychotic side effects.” Vitamin D deficiency has also been linked to a higher risk of schizophrenia,17,18 especially when levels are low during development.19
When combined in treatment, melatonin and vitamin D produce strong synergistic effects against cancer. Two separate studies20,21 have demonstrated the combination induces apoptosis and inhibits growth and division of breast cancer cells. In one of them, the combination resulted in “an almost complete cell growth arrest at 144 hours.”22
These effects were attributed (at least in part) to enhanced release of transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1), a type of cytokine that controls cell growth, proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. Melatonin in combination with vitamin D has also been shown to protect against apoptotic ischemia-reperfusion injury in the kidney.23
Simple Ways to Optimize Your Melatonin and Vitamin D
The evidence suggests optimizing your melatonin production by making sure you sleep well at night may be a hidden key to maintaining mitochondrial health, which in turn is paramount for longevity and the prevention of virtually all chronic health problems.
However, while there are likely many benefits to supplementing with vitamin D and melatonin, it makes no sense to do so unless you are seeking to optimize your body’s own production.
The good news is it’s relatively simple and inexpensive to increase your melatonin and vitamin D levels. To optimize your vitamin D, I recommend getting sensible sun exposure on large portions of your body on a regular basis, ideally daily.
For further guidance, see “The Risks and Benefits of Sun Exposure.” If for whatever reason you cannot get sufficient amounts of sun exposure, consider taking a vitamin D3 supplement (along with a little extra vitamin K2 to maintain a healthy ratio between these two nutrients).
I personally have not taken any oral vitamin D for well over 10 years and my levels are typically over 70 ng/mL, even in the winter, but I have started taking sublingual melatonin as I am now older than 65, and believe there are benefits for such, even though I sleep in pitch dark and get bright sun exposure around 85% of the time during the day.
Optimizing your melatonin production starts with getting plenty of bright sunlight during the day, as this helps “set” your circadian clock. Then, as the evening wears on and the sun sets, you’ll want to avoid bright lighting.
Blue light from electronic screens and LED light bulbs is particularly problematic and inhibits melatonin the most. If you need lighting, opt for incandescent light bulbs, candles or salt lamps. The blue light from electronic screens can be counteracted by installing blue-blocking software such as Iris,24 or wearing blue-blocking glasses.
Additionally, an interesting paper25 in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, published in 2017, highlights the usefulness of time-restricted eating to improve your sleep cycle. As noted in this paper:
“The robustness of the circadian clock deteriorates with aging. Two new studies show that aging reprograms the circadian transcriptome in a cell-type-dependent manner and that such rewiring can be reversed by caloric restriction …
Surprisingly, the expression of core clock genes and clock-controlled genes remained unchanged with aging, despite the drastic circadian reprogramming. Thus, the core clock machinery remains largely intact in old age, giving hope for the prospect of reversing aging-associated circadian reprogramming to potentially improve physiological functions.
Indeed, CR-induced robust reprogramming of the circadian transcriptome partially overlaps with the circadian transcriptome in young mice. Thus, the profound physiological impact of CR may be, in part, mediated by the reprogramming of the circadian clock …
Given that aging-associated accumulation of DNA damage in stem cells originates from exposure to mitochondrial stress and that the mitochondrial protective programs are repressed in aged adult stem cells, it is tempting to speculate that reactivating the mitochondrial protective programs may provide a means to reduce the accumulation of cellular damage and reverse aging-associated circadian reprogramming.”
(NaturalHealth365) One look at the harrowing images coming out of China is enough to leave all of us with the same question on our minds: what is coronavirus?
A mysterious, pneumonia-like illness is spreading around the world, and experts are anticipating this epidemic to be “as deadly as the Spanish flu epidemic” of 1918, which killed an astounding 50 million people. Stick with us to learn more about this worrisome disease and why you should consider natural remedies like vitamin C and vitamin D as part of your family’s virus prevention plan.
World Health Organization: Wuhan coronavirus epidemic poses a “high” global threat level
In late December 2019, the first cases of a strange and potentially deadly pneumonia-like illness were diagnosed in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. The illnesses – signs of which include fever, cough, breathing trouble, and sudden fainting and collapse – were found to be caused by a mutating strain of a virus called coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV. Its origin is hypothesized to be from a wet market in the Asian city of 11 million.
As of this writing, the death toll from 2019-nCoV has climbed to over 300 people, with 14,000 plus confirmed cases in at least 19 countries, including Australia, Cambodia, Philippines, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Nepal, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Tibet, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, and Vietnam (for real-time updates, check out this resource).
Just note: “Official” numbers are always downplayed for obvious business reasons.
In a heavily criticized move, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently stopped short of declaring this outbreak an international health emergency. Had they done so, it would be easier for global leaders to launch a concerted effort to prevent an epidemic. Failure to declare an emergency may delay care and put even more global citizens in the path of this potentially deadly illness.
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Only time will still tell if the international agency will change their stance on the severity of the outbreak. In the meantime, the WHO has conceded that they made a mistake in its risk assessment of the mysterious illness, and have upgraded the threat level from “moderate” to “high” at both the regional and global level (including “veryhigh” in China).
Protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu with these 3 natural remedies
Reports from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that deaths from seasonal flu-like illnesses are increasing, and have been for some time. With the outbreak of this new mutating virus, it seems more important than ever to protect yourself and your loved ones from illnesses.
Here are 3 ways to keep your immune system health and strong:
Take vitamin C: We know that a vitamin C deficiency has been linked to pneumonia. On the flip side, getting a sufficient amount of vitamin C can boost immune health and may help people avoid falling ill with flu-like illnesses. It’s no surprise that the Cebu City Health Office of the Phillipines recently advised people (after the arrival of a 5-year-old boy into the country who tested positive for coronavirus) to take vitamin C. According to Mayo Clinic, the recommended daily intake of vitamin C for adults is about 65 to 90 milligrams (mg) a day. But, that’s way too low to help avoid the threat of viral infections. In many cases, supplementation is a must … but, foods rich in vitamin C include kale, broccoli, peppers, kiwifruit, and citrus.
Take vitamin D: Studies, including a 2017 study published in BMJ, show that vitamin D supplements can bolster people against colds, flus, and other types of respiratory infections. It’s understood – by many integrative healthcare providers – that vitamin D boosts the levels of antimicrobial substances in the lungs called antimicrobial peptides. The minimum recommended intake for vitamin D is around 400 – 800 International Units (IU) per day, but most studies show that increasing your intake to 1,000 to 2,000 IU/day (or more) is safe and beneficial. Keep in mind, to get the best absorption rate, it’s best to take a vitamin D supplement that offers the essential cofactors such as, vitamin K2, boron, zinc and magnesium – to name a few. In addition, foods rich in vitamin D include wild-caught fatty fish and pasture-raised (organic) eggs.
Get enough sleep: Even just one night of sleep deprivation – getting less than the recommended 6 – 8 hours – has been shown to lower a person’s immune function and increase their risk of falling ill with a communicable disease. To avoid the threat of viral infections, make a commitment with your loved ones that you’ll all prioritize your sleep and practice good sleep hygiene techniques.
Obviously, it’s always a good idea to minimize your exposure to toxic chemicals, unwanted amounts of mental and emotional stress and eat an organic diet rich in antioxidants to support a strong immune system.
The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak is an actively developing story. Stay tuned for future updates on this flu-like epidemic and other major health news at NaturalHealth365.
The primary danger of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) — and what drives the processes of chronic disease — is the mitochondrial damage triggered by peroxynitrites
Peroxynitrites are potent reactive nitrogen species associated with systemic inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction, and are thought to be a root cause for many of today’s chronic diseases
You cannot see, hear or smell EMF, and most do not feel it. Still, biological effects are taking place whether you’re able to sense it or not
The number of people reporting pathological hypersensitivity to EMFs is rising. Between 1994 and 2008, prevalence of electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome in Austria rose from 2% to 3.5%. In 2011, Taiwan reported an incidence rate of 13.3%
The possibility of large portions of the population being unable to work or live as free individuals due to incessant, elevated exposure to EMF is a very real threat to society as we know it. There are very few EMF-free zones left on the planet, and such zones will further shrink with the global implementation of 5G
Over the past decade, I’ve written many articles discussing the evidence of biological harm from nonionizing electromagnetic field (EMF) radiation.
While the wireless industry is built on the premise that the only type of radiation capable of causing harm is ionizing — X-rays being one example — researchers have for a long time warned that even nonionizing and non-heating radiation can jeopardize your health. This includes not only human health, but also that of plants and animals.
Over time, I became so convinced of the deleterious effects of EMF, I took three years to write “EMF*D,” which is slated to be released in February 2020. In it, I review the now overwhelming evidence showing EMFs are a hidden health hazard that simply cannot be ignored any longer, especially seeing how the rollout of 5G will exponentially increase exposures.
Scientists Now Understand How EMFs Impact Your Health
Over the years, I’ve interviewed several experts who have shared their in-depth knowledge about the poorly understood mechanisms behind EMF harm. Among them:
•Martin Pall, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of biochemistry and basic medical sciences at Washington State University, has published research1,2,3,4 showing that the primary danger of EMFs — and what drives the processes of chronic disease — is the mitochondrial damage triggered by peroxynitrites, one of the most damaging types of reactive nitrogen species.
Low-frequency microwave radiation activates the voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) in the outer membrane of your cells, causing them to open, thus allowing an abnormal influx of calcium ions. This activates nitric oxide, which is a precursor for peroxynitrite.5
These potent reactive nitrogen species are associated with an increased level of systemic inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction, and are thought to be a root cause for many of today’s chronic diseases.
For an in-depth understanding of peroxynitrites and the harm they inflict, see “Nitric Oxide and Peroxynitrite in Health and Disease”6 by Dr. Pal Pacher, Joseph Beckman and Dr. Lucas Liaudet. It’s one of the best reviews I’ve ever read and free to download.
One of its most significant downsides of peroxynitrite is that it damages DNA. While your body has the capacity to repair that damage through a family of enzymes collectively known as poly ADP ribose polymerases (PARP), PARP require NAD+ for fuel, and when they run out of NAD+ they stop repairing your DNA, which can lead to premature cell death.
•Dr. Sam Milham, a physician and epidemiologist, wrote the book, “Dirty Electricity: Electrification and the Diseases of Civilization.” In his interview, he explains the biological mechanisms of high-frequency electric transients (electromagnetic interference patterns), and details some of the lesser-known household sources of this “dirty electricity.”
•Magda Havas, Ph.D., associate professor at Trent University in Canada, has written research including the effects dirty electricity can have on children’s behavior, and helpful remediation techniques.
EMF Pollution Is Likely Taking a Hidden Toll on Your Health
The problem with EMF radiation is that you cannot see it, hear it or smell it, and most do not feel it. Still, researchers assure us that biological effects are taking place whether you’re able to sense it or not. For most, it’s simply a matter of time and overall exposure load.
Here, it’s important to realize that we’re not just talking about radiation from your cellphone. The electromagnetic frequencies emitted from your Wi-Fi router, computer, home appliances, all manner of wireless “smart” technology, and even the wiring inside your walls are all capable of inflicting serious biological harm to your body and mind. And with 5G, it’s bound to get far worse.
Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome Is on the Rise
For some, the effects of EMFs are unmistakable and undeniable, and the number of people reporting pathological hypersensitivity to EMFs is rising. In 2008, an Austrian study7 noted that actual prevalence of electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome in Austria had risen by 1.5% since 1994, from 2% to 3.5%.
In 2006, Germany had an electrosensitivity incidence rate of 9%, and Taiwan reported an incidence rate of 13.3% in 2011.8 The RT documentary “Wi-Fi Refugees,” featured in “Documentary Explore Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Syndrome,” investigates the struggles reported by these “canaries in the coal mine.”
While symptoms may vary from one individual to another, commonly reported symptoms of electromagnetic hypersensitivity syndrome include:
Skin itch/rash/flushing/burning and/or tingling — Many describe a “burning pins and needles” kind of pain, especially in the head and chest area
One 2015 study9 pointed out that electromagnetic hypersensitivity is becoming an increasing challenge to the medical profession, which has yet to fully understand its implications, let alone its remedies.
Still, the complaints of modern-day hypersensitivities match those reported in the 1970s and ’80s by those working with radio and radar equipment and cathode ray tube monitors, which tells us that this is not a brand-new phenomenon. According to the authors:10
“In population-based surveys, the prevalence of EHS has ranged from 1.5% in Sweden to 13.3% in Taiwan. Provocation studies on EMF have yielded different results, ranging from where people with EHS cannot discriminate between an active RF signal and placebo, to objectively observed changes following exposure in reactions of the pupil, changes in heart rhythm, damage to erythrocytes, and disturbed glucose metabolism in the brain.”
As early as 2005, the World Health Organization warned that people have “for some time” reported health problems attributed to EMF exposure, and that some are “so severely affected that they cease work and change their entire lifestyle.”11
The possibility of large portions of the population being unable to work or live as free individuals due to incessant, elevated exposure to EMF is a very real threat to society as we know it. The reality is that there are very few EMF-free zones left on the planet, and such zones will further shrink with the global implementation of 5G.
I believe EMF exposure is one of the greatest challenges to public health facing us today. If we go back in time to the end of World War I, around 1918 or so, and use that timeframe as a baseline of EMF exposure among the general public, you come to the astonishing conclusion that EMF exposure has increased about 1 quintillion times over the past 100 years.
Knowing the impact EMFs can have, it’s completely irrational to assume that this radical increase won’t have adverse effects. My new book, “EMF*D,” is an attempt to inform you about the hidden harms of EMF and what you need to do to protect yourself and those you love. In it, you’ll learn:
How EMFs are impacting your body and mind
Where you can find them in your daily life
How they can cause disease and speed up aging
How to repair the damage done by EMFs at the cellular level
Practical strategies to protect yourself and your loved ones from EMFs
In my book, I also reveal the reasons why you’ve been left in the dark about this serious health threat. “EMF*D” comes out February 18, 2020, but you don’t need to wait. Preorder your copy today and receive these five bonus gifts immediately:
Early access to a chapter from the book
$10 discount on a Mercola order
30-page Sneak Peak PDF Book
7 strategies to help reduce EMF exposure
5 tips to minimize your cellphone risk (SMS exclusive bonus)
Brain Cancer Is Not the Only, Nor the Major, Concern
While a number of studies have shown that cellphone radiation can trigger brain cancer this is not the greatest cause for concern. Your brain does have a far greater density of VGCCs than other organs, but so does your nervous system and heart, as well as male testes.
As a result of the elevated density of VGCCs in these areas, EMFs are likely to contribute to neurological and neuropsychiatric problems,12 as well as heart and reproductive problems, including but not limited to cardiac arrhythmias, anxiety, depression, autism, Alzheimer’s and infertility13,14 and miscarriage15,16,17,18 — and these conditions are far more prevalent than brain cancer.
That said, studies have also linked radiofrequency radiation equivalent to that emitted by 2G and 3G cellphones to other forms of cancer, including heart tumors. This includes U.S. government-funded animal studies19 published in 2018 that were further corroborated by the Ramazzini Institute that same year.20
As early as 2011, the evidence was strong enough for the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer research arm of the WHO, to declare cellphones a Group 2B “possible carcinogen.”21
I’ve already mentioned one of the primary mechanisms by which EMFs harm your biology — i.e., the creation of peroxynitrites, which are potent oxidant stressors — but EMFs also damage your health in other ways.
For example, the enzyme ATP synthase — which passes currents of protons into the mitochondrial intermembrane space, similar to current passing through a wire — powers the generation energy of the creation of ATP from ADP, using this flow of protons.
Magnetic fields can change the transparency of the flow of protons to the mitochondrial intermembrane space, thereby reducing the current. As a result, you get less ATP, which can have system wide consequences, from promoting chronic disease and infertility to lowering intelligence.
EMFs may also alter your microbiome, turning what might otherwise be beneficial microbes pathogenic or toxic. This too can have far-ranging health effects, since we now know your microbiome plays an important role in health.
5G Rollout Will Significantly Magnify Health Risks
Any and all health ramifications attributed to previous generations of wireless technologies will be exponentially magnified with the rollout of 5G, which is simply being added on top of the already existing wireless infrastructure. This 5th generation technology may also present additional health risks.
A main concern with 5G is that it relies primarily on the bandwidth of the millimeter wave (MMW), which is known to penetrate 1 to 2 millimeters of human skin tissue.22 There’s also evidence suggesting sweat ducts in human skin act as antennae when they come in contact with MMWs.23
Many can feel the impact of MMWs as a burning sensation and/or pain, which is precisely why it’s used in nonlethal crowd control weapons.24 MMW has also been linked to eye problems, suppressed immune function and altered heart rate variability (an indicator of stress) and arrhythmias.25
In 2015, more than 230 scientists engaged in the study of biological and health effects of nonionizing EMFs in 41 nations signed an international appeal to the United Nations, calling for protection from nonionizing EMF exposure due to evidence of health effects even at low levels.26
Two years later, more than 180 doctors and scientists from 35 countries signed a petition27 to enact a moratorium on the rollout of 5G due to the potential risks to wildlife and human health.
Dr. Mercola Answers Your EMF Questions
I believe that the risk of EMFs is so important that I’ve decided to answer your questions on this topic in an upcoming video. Please submit any EMF questions you may have by clicking on the button below.
The earlier I get the questions, the greater the likelihood I will have a chance to include them in my response. Looking forward to answering your questions!
Protect Yourself From Excessive EMF
There’s no doubt in my mind that EMF exposure is an important lifestyle component that needs to be addressed if you’re concerned about your health, which is why I spent three years writing “EMF*D.”
My aim was to create a comprehensive and informative guide, detailing not only the risks, but also what you can do to mitigate unavoidable exposures. To get you started, see the tips listed in my previous article, “Top 19 Tips to Reduce Your EMF Exposure.”
If you know or suspect you might already be developing a sensitivity to EMFs (full-blown hypersensitivity can often strike seemingly overnight), mitigating your exposures will be particularly paramount. Many sufferers become obsessed with finding solutions, as the effects can be severely crippling. My book can be a valuable resource in your quest for relief.
The EMF Experts website28 also lists EMF groups worldwide, to which you can turn with questions, concerns and support, and EMFsafehome.com29 lists a number of publications where you can learn more about the dangers of EMFs.
Should you need help remediating your home, consider hiring a trained building biologist to get it done right. A listing can be found on the International Institute for Building-Biology & Ecology’s website.30
This article is copyrighted by GreenMedInfo LLC, 2019
Low levels of testosterone can come with glaring symptoms such as erectile dysfunction and reduced bone mass. Before opting for hormone replacement therapy and facing the risk of serious side effects, here are five science-backed ways to optimize your testosterone levels naturally
In the face of aging and the treatment’s increasing popularity, many men around the world immediately opt for testosterone replacement therapy. While significant results may manifest in no time, there can be serious consequences down the road, particularly if the underlying cause of low testosterone isn’t addressed properly. Here are five things that you can explore for a natural testosterone boost:
A deficiency in zinc, an essential dietary mineral, has long been associated with testicular suppression, including suppression of testosterone levels. A 1996 study found a significant reduction in the blood testosterone of healthy young men after 20 weeks of zinc restriction.[i] It also revealed that six-month zinc supplementation in marginally deficient elderly men translated to a testosterone boost.
While research demonstrates that poor zinc levels in the diet can adversely affect testicular function, it is a reversible process and can be corrected via proper supplementation.[ii]
The exact mechanism behind how zinc deficiency exactly affects testosterone levels is yet to be fully understood, but the mineral may affect the cells in the testes that produce testosterone.[iii] Zinc helps your immune system function properly, plays a role in cell division and helps enzymes break down nutrients.
Studies have shown that magnesium intake affects testosterone and total insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1).[iv] The age-related decline in these anabolic hormones is deemed a strong predictor of metabolic syndrome and diabetes, as well as mortality in elderly men.
One proposed mechanism behind this mineral’s testosterone-enhancing role is its ability to inhibit the binding of testosterone to sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), resulting in an enhancement of bioavailable testosterone.[v]
3. Weight Management
Weight gain and related chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, have been strongly tied to a reduction in testosterone, especially in middle-aged and elderly men.[vi],[vii]Here’s how it works: as you gain weight as fat, your testosterone production drops. However, this can be reversed through weight loss via adjustments in diet and lifestyle.
4. Vitamin D
A dose of sunshine can be a handy solution to low testosterone levels, with studies vouching for vitamin D‘s impact on regulating testosterone levels.[viii] Ideally, you would be able to get all the vitamin D your body needs through optimal sun exposure. This, however, may not be the case for those who live far from the equator, are dark skinned or spend most of their time indoors. Here’s GreenMedInfo.health’s review and recommendations for vitamin D.
5. Adequate Quality Sleep
One of the insidious effects of regular lack of high-quality sleep is decreased testosterone production. A 2013 study probed the effects of 33 hours of sleep loss on endocrine function as well as reactive aggression in 24 young men and 25 women, and found that sleep deprivation lowered testosterone in the male subjects.[ix]
There’s a double whammy here, as sleeplessness also facilitates fat gain, which, as mentioned earlier, is linked to impaired testosterone production.[x]
Scientific findings are quick to show that correcting a mineral or nutrient deficiency or insufficiency may raise low testosterone levels. For further information, check out the GreenMedInfo.com testosterone database to better learn how to increase testosterone naturally.
The GMI Research Group (GMIRG) is dedicated to investigating the most important health and environmental issues of the day. Special emphasis will be placed on environmental health. Our focused and deep research will explore the many ways in which the present condition of the human body directly reflects the true state of the ambient environment.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.
TMG (Trimethylglycine) is a powerful nutrient, much like a vitamin, functioning as methyl donor, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, energy booster, toxin remover, immune booster and more.
Also called betaine (first isolated from sugar beets) but different from Betaine Hydrochloride.
TMG the Methyl Donor
The TMG molecule comprises three methyl groups (CH3) joined to one molecule of glycine (C2H5NO2). The benefit of TMG is that it releases easily one, two, or all three of the methyl groups.
Releasing one methyl group then leaves behind DMG (Dimethylglycine) which is just TMG with only two methyl groups. Releasing all methyl groups leaves just Glycine, which is the smallest molecule of all of the amino acids, which allows it to go almost anywhere in the body, including crossing the blood-brain barrier.
DMG is considered a B-complex vitamin, shown to help:
Behaviour and speech in autistic children and adults
ADHD (Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder)
Anti-viral and anti-bacterial
Chronic fatigue syndrome
Alcoholism, drug addiction.
Cholesterol and triglycerides
Although DMG has all of these benefits, and is available as a supplement, LeanMachine recommends that people supplement with TMG as we then receive all of the benefits of DMG plus the benefit of 50% better methylation.
Methyl groups (CH3) are essential for millions of biochemical reactions every second in the body, these are a few examples:
Lowering homocysteine, an amino acid, which inflames arteries when levels rise, leading to “hardening of the arteries”. Homocysteine levels are a much better indicator of cardiovascular disease than cholesterol. High homocysteine is commonly caused by insufficient methyl groups. The body gets methyl groups from TMG, Active Folate, Active Vitamin B-12, SAM-e, DMAE, Methionine, Taurine, Cysteine and Vitamin B-6.
Other causes are mercury and copper toxicity. High homocysteine also causes methionine deficiency, in turn causing SAM-e (S-Adenosyl Methionine) deficiency which can lead to depression. Methionine is required for protein synthesis
Excess homocysteine also leads to osteoporosis, birth defects, cancer, ageing and free radicals, all helped by TMG
Methyl groups are required for the Phase 2, P450 liver detoxification pathway, a critical biochemical sequence of events. Fat-soluble toxins are joined to a methyl group, enabling a greater water solubility, then allowing the liver to remove them from the body. For toxins unable to be removed, methylation helps render them less toxic
TMG increases production of SAM-e, helping to reduce depression
TMG reduces risk of diabetes, as insulin release and insulin activity rely on methyl group donation
TMG donates methyl groups for protein synthesis (biosynthesis), the copying of genetic code from DNA to RNA (genetic transcription), then to the synthesis (formation) of every chemical in the body
TMG insufficiency causes biosynthesis slowing, telomeres shortening, and genetic errors (transcription errors) raises cancer risk from DNA mutations
The Methylation Process
This is a vital and most common chemical process in hundreds of essential chemical reactions, including:
Methylation is essential for manufacture of all the chemicals for the body
Stops certain viruses that could damage DNA
Stops the production of trophoblast (fast-growing cells that may lead to cancer)
Suppresses replication of DNA in areas where the body does not want it replicated
Important for neurological chemicals and blood chemicals
Corrects timing problems of the X chromosome in cell replication
Causea a genetic trait to come from only one parent, and not both
Prevents some genetic diseases
Helps prevent shortening of gene telomeres
Methylation is a primary method of removing toxins in the phase 2 liver detoxification system
Methylation converts toxins of all kinds from insoluble, less soluble or fat-soluble compounds into water-soluble compounds to allow excretion. Larger molecules are eliminated through the bile, smaller ones are excreted in the urine
Methylation is required for synthesis of dopamine and serotonin, improving mood, energy, wellbeing, alertness, concentration, and visual clarity
Methylation helps with liver detoxification
Methylation is required for conversion of homocysteine to methionine, which converts to other amino acids by various pathways
Methylation helps balance hormones such as estrogens, reducing risk of estrogen-related cancers
Reduces inflammation by removing toxins, balancing hormones, synthesising neurotransmitters and other methods
Methylation protects the mitochondria and adaptive energy production to stop us from becoming very tired
Restores SAM-e in spinal fluid, working as a methyl donor when restored by methyl groups
Methylation is required for the body to make CoQ10 (Coenzyme Q10), vital for heart health and energy production in the mitochondria
Methylation increases muscle mass, important in cancer and other wasting diseases, and for general health
Methylation may improve libido in some people
Who needs TMG?
Almost everyone needs supplemental TMG, even healthy people with a healthy diet, to provide enough methylation for modern life. Those subject to stress, toxins, cardiovascular disease, mental illness, depression, fatigue, exhaustion or almost any other medical condition, almost certainly need extra TMG.
Other benefits of TMG
The Parasympathetic System
TMG can improve the parasympathetic system, helping balance the autonomic nervous system. Hair mineral analyses show about half the population has an autonomic nervous system imbalance (sympathetic dominance), where the sympathetic (fight-or-flight) nervous system is “switched on” too often and too long, usually due to stress, causing many chronic health conditions. TMG may help reverse any imbalance, contributing to healing. Some doctors use “sympathetic dominance” in a different context such as “a sympathetic state of body chemistry” which is different from “sympathetic dominance” used here.
The MTHFR Defect
Almost half the people on Earth have the abnormal MTHFR gene expression, where the biosynthesis of folate is reduced, sometimes marginally, sometimes largely.
Often incorrectly called a “genetic defect” when it is actually a transcription error, polymorphism or abnormal gene expression where errors occur in copying the DNA code rather than a problem with the actual DNA code.
This is why Active Folate has benefits, as it is already in the (6S)-5-methyltetrahydrofolate form required by the body, while regular folate must be converted in the body to this form.
TMG can help supply the methyl groups where insufficent folate cannot. Active folate can be up to 700% more useful in the body, compared to regular folic acid. Note that folic acid is a cheap folate substitute used in many foods claiming to be “folate enriched” but folic acid may prevent absorption of real folate in foods or active folate supplements, and LeanMachine advises total avoidance of foods or supplements containing folic acid.
Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory
There are not many reports on these properties, but they do exist, possibly as a result of methyl group donation
Effects on the Brain
TMG has a positive effect on the brain, likely due to methylation and SAM-e production. Recommended for those at high risk for Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinsons, depression, anxiety, seizures, migraine headache, ADHD (Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder), MS (Multiple Sclerosis) and other brain conditions.
1. Heart Disease
SAM-e is used for heart disease, also for fibromyalgia, abdominal pain, osteoarthritis, bursitis, tendonitis, chronic lower back pain, ageing, CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), improving mental performance, liver disease, spinal cord injury, lead poisoning, to break down bilirubin or porphyrin (or precursors).
SAM-e is often taken for PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) and a more severe form PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder).
IV use of SAM-e
IV (Intravenous) use of SAM-e is used for depression, osteoarthritis, AIDS-related nervous system disorders, fibromyalgia, liver disease, cirrhosis, and intrahepatic cholestasis (a liver disorder in pregnant women)
SAM-e is often injected for fibromyalgia, depression, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Effects on Digestion
TMG aids digestion, again likely because of positive methylation throughout the body.
Glycine is the component left over when all three methyl groups have been donated from TMG.
Glycine is the smallest of the amino acids and very important for collagen formation and many other functions. Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, is used for connective tissue: Tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin, nails, arteries, veins, etc. Without collagen, we could not stand up, our body would be a pile of mush on the floor!
Glycine, in large doses (up to 3000 mg daily), has been found helpful for sleep and alertness. Although not recommended as a first-line supplement for sleep, it may help if other supplements like Valerian fail to work. This may explain why TMG helps induce restful sleep in some individuals.
Natural sources of TMG
TMG is normally made in the body, but not enough when there are toxins present or the diet is poor or absorption of nutrients is a problem.
TMG can come from the diet. Foods high in TMG include broccoli, quinoa, spinach, lamb, chicken, and beets. A vegetarian or vegan diet tends to be very low in TMG. Foods high in TMG are usually also high in folate, and both are methyl donors.
However, most people do not eat enough of these foods, and even eating large amounts will not provide enough TMG for optimum health.
Risk factors for low TMG
Generally, the body cannot make enough, the modern diet is poor in TMG, and the number of pesticides, chemicals, heavy metal contamination uses up all TMG available.
Mercury is a poison that lowers TMG production in the body, and at the same time increases the need for TMG in the body. Almost everyone is mercury toxic now, as mercury is everywhere in the environment, especially in seafood and in dental amalgam fillings
Copper toxicity also interferes with TMG, and most people today are toxic from copper pipes, tapware, cookware even if blood or urine tests are negative. While copper is essential for the body to build hemoglobin in blood, we need Chelated Copper from food or supplements, not metallic copper from copper pipes and cookware. Zinc deficiencies cause accumulation of copper in the body, and women have a higher risk than men. Causes headaches, female organ problems, depression, anxiety, skin conditions. Too much zinc (and/or magnesium) competes with copper for absorption, often leading to a copper deficiency.
Supplementary TMG is helpful for most people because of low body production, low in the diet, and higher requirements in our toxic world. TMG 1000mg 100 tablets (most popular, best value).
Stress, inflammation, inflammation and some diseases increase our need for more TMG.
Dosage of TMG
Women: Up to 1000 mg daily
Men: Up to 3000 mg daily
Children: Less than adults, in proportion to body weight
There are no reliable guides or tests to determine TMG dosage, but the figures above should be a good starting point.
If the sodium/potassium ratio is low, extra TMG may help.
Do not overdose, as too much TMG may lead to over-methylation, causing fatigue, nausea, hair loss, dizziness or other symptoms.
Most people have no side effects from TMG apart from feeling better, getting better sleep and having more energy. Cautions:
Do not continue a high dose for extended periods.
Children need proportionately less TMG than adults, depending on their size and weight, but babies generally do not need TMG. Older children may need about 250 to 500 mg daily.
TMG is available as tablets, liquid capsules or crystals. Some children and the elderly may have problems with swallowing tablets. TMG has a sweet taste, so TMG crystals can be simply added to food.
Some people have problems tolerating TMG, so they may need a smaller dose. Try reducing the dose until any symptoms disappear.
People who have unresolved resentments seem to have more problems taking TMG, as an enzyme is activated which can cause anger, fear, depression or anxiety symptoms. These symptoms disappear if the dose is reduced or eliminated, but if one can tolerate the symptoms, TMG may help the person resolve their issues of conflict.
Some reports suggest that too much TMG may cause diarrhea and nausea, and may raise cholesterol levels, so those with high cholesterol should keep the level monitored.
Several factors affect poor methylation, such as:
Raw vegetables are considered healthy, but cooked vegetables provide more dietary methyl groups
Sugars in any form appear to harm correct methylation, and are bad for our health anyway
Fermented foods are healthy, but are problem for methylation because:
Some contain aldehydes (toxic to the liver), including kombucha tea, kimchi, and most fermented grains
They contain ferments, which are bacteria or yeasts
Safer fermented foods, eaten in moderation, include yogurt, kefir, miso and most good quality cheeses
Too much animal protein in the diet can cause high methionine and reduce methylation
Fighting inflammation or infections consumes methyl groups, requiring more methylation
Heavy metal toxicity, especially copper and mercury, interfere with methyl group formation
High-dose niacin or niacinamide cause the body to use up methyl groups to detoxify and excrete niacin through the liver. Doses less than 50 mg daily are generally tolerated well
Any liver toxins will reduce formation of methyl donors, also liver detoxification pathways require methyl groups, using up more methyl groups
Methyl donor production seems to decrease with age, so seniors need more TMG
Women of child-bearing age have much better methylation than men. Men always need more TMG than women
Methylation and Cancer
Cancer increases the need for methylating agents like TMG. People often die with cancer because they cannot eliminate their toxic metals and chemicals because of poor liver methylation, so toxins accumulate until death occurs.
Hair Mineral Analysis
More TMG may be required if a hair mineral test reveals:
High zinc level, which may indicate presence of hidden toxic metals
“Four lows pattern” meaning all four electrolyte minerals low: Calcium, Magnesium, Sodium, Potassium. Indicates impaired methylation
High mercury, becoming more common
High levels of the other toxic metals
These results indicate long-term toxic metal exposure.
LeanMachine is not a doctor, and everyone should consult with their own health professional before taking any product to ensure there is no conflict with existing prescription medication.
LeanMachine has been researching nutrition and health since 2010 and has completed many relevant studies including:
Open2Study, Australia – Food, Nutrition and Your Health
RMIT University, Australia – Foundations of Psychology
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia – Chemistry – Building Blocks of the World
University of Washington, USA – Energy, Diet and Weight
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Health Issues for Aging Populations
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – International Nutrition
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Methods in Biostatistics I
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Methods in Biostatistics II
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, USA – Principles of Human Nutrition
TUFTS University, USA – Nutrition and Medicine
TUFTS University, USA – Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease I and Lipids/Cardiovascular Disease II
Technical Learning College, USA – Western Herbology, Identification, Formulas
Bath University, England – Inside Cancer
WebMD Education – The Link Between Stroke and Atrial Fibrillation
WebMD Education – High Potassium: Causes and Reasons to Treat
Leiden University Medical Center, Netherlands – Anatomy of the Abdomen and Pelvis
MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) – A Clinical Approach to the Human Brain
LeanMachine has now examined thousands of studies, journals and reports related to health and nutrition and this research is ongoing.
(NaturalHealth365) While you’re likely familiar with essential oils like frankincense and lavender, you may never have heard of spikenard essential oil. Today, we’ll focus on how to defeat insomnia with a natural remedy.
Although it’s not as well-known as other essential oils, spikenard been used for centuries for health, beauty, and even religious purposes. While it’s valued as a prized perfume for its musky, earthy, spicy scent, it also offers antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties used by integrative healthcare providers for years.
A relative of the valerian plant, spikenard is a flowering plant that grows in the Himalayas in India, China, and Nepal, and it’s usually only found at around an altitude of 10,000 feet. Although it’s long been hailed for its ability to treat a variety of health problems, research backs up its use for treating insomnia, helping to reduce stress, and more.
How to defeat insomnia and reduce stress naturally without negative side effects
Multiple studies have investigated the use of spikenard essential oil as a sedative, as well as its ability to defeat insomnia. One study not only documented the sedative effect of the oil, but also discovered that when it’s mixed together with other oils like sandalwood, patchouli, borneol, and galangal oils, the sedative response was even more significant.
Another study went on to isolate two of the components of spikenard essential oil – beta maaliene and valerna-4,7(11)-diene. They found that the valerna-4,7(11)-diene offered the strongest sedative effect on test subjects and even had an effect similar to chlorpromazine, a medication often given to patients with behavior or mental disorders.
Spikenard oil also has a calming effect, which helps reduce stress. The combination of stress-relief and sedative effects make it a useful, natural treatment for people who have insomnia.
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Additional science-backed uses for spikenard essential oil
Beyond its ability to reduce stress and work as a sedative to relieve insomnia, spikenard essential oil offers many other science-backed health benefits, as well. One of the most studied benefits of this spikenard is its ability to fight fungus and bacteria.
Studies show that spikenard is one of the most effective essential oils against certain strains of bacteria, and it also works to heal skin problems caused by fungal infections.
Spikenard essential oil also has the ability to fight inflammation, which is at the root of many diseases. When studied in treating acute pancreatitis, spikenard treatment helped reduce the severity of the acute pancreatitis, proving its ability to work as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Other potential health benefits include:
Stimulating the immune system
Lowering blood pressure
Reducing joint pain
Relieving gastrointestinal issues
Reducing pain related to menstruation and muscle aches
Promotes hair growth
Spikenard essential oil is often used topically or as aromatherapy. It can be diffused or inhaled directly from the bottle.
Another option is to add it to a carrier oil for a massage oil that promotes sleep while relieving sore muscles and headaches. You can also add a few drops to a bath to reduce stress and help relieve insomnia.
Researchers from Arizona and Texas have made a breakthrough discovery in plant DNA that could lead to stopping cancer cold, as well as slowing the aging process
Centenarians are optimistic and have low rates of depression and other psychiatric problems
Good quality sleep, in the right amount, can improve how you think and adapt to life’s circumstances
Eating well and avoiding toxins also factor into your overall well-being
Youthfulness, vitality and a long, prosperous life have been sought after throughout human history. And now, it seems scientists may have discovered one of the keys to turning back the hands of time.
Researchers from Arizona State University and Texas A&M University have made a breakthrough discovery in plant DNA that could lead to stopping cancer cold and slowing the aging process, ABC affiliate News 15 Arizona reports.1
The research involves telomerase, an enzyme that produces the DNA of telomeres, which have been shown to play a role in the aging process. As your telomeres lengthen, they protect your cells from aging.
Take It From the Experts: Centenarians Share Their Secrets
While direct applications from the study to human health are distant, there are a number of things you can do now to improve your health span, according to one of the co-authors. In interviews and surveys with centenarians, certain themes came up time and time again when they explained why they’ve lived so long. The 10 most common reasons they gave for their long lives were:
Keeping a positive attitude
Eating good food
Participating in moderate exercise like walking, gardening swimming, etc.
Living clean (not smoking or drinking excessively)
Having family to interact with
Having a circle of friends
Being born with “good” genes
Staying mentally active and continually learning
Centenarians are the fastest growing segment of the U.S population, with numbers doubling every decade; by the year 2050, the number of people who will have reached the century mark is expected to pass 1 million.
Centenarians have 60% lower rates of heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure, yet scientific explanations for their health and longevity remain elusive. As a group, they are happy and optimistic and have extremely low rates of depression and other psychiatric problems, suggesting you may live longer by maintaining the right attitude.
Hopefulness and Positivity Affect the Heart
There are compelling links between cardiac health and mental health. For example, having untreated depression or anxiety disorder increases your odds of having a heart attack or developing heart disease. Stress hormones are again a primary culprit.
According to Julia Boehm, author of earlier Harvard studies looking at optimism and cardiovascular disease (CVD):2
“The absence of the negative is not the same thing as the presence of the positive. We found that factors such as optimism, life satisfaction and happiness are associated with reduced risk of CVD regardless of such factors as a person’s age, socioeconomic status, smoking status or body weight.”
With a later study,3 author Eric Kim told The Harvard Gazette:
“While most medical and public health efforts today focus on reducing risk factors for diseases, evidence has been mounting that enhancing psychological resilience may also make a difference.
Our new findings suggest that we should make efforts to boost optimism, which has been shown to be associated with healthier behaviors and healthier ways of coping with life challenges.”
The Significance of Sound Sleep
Getting adequate sleep is an important part of both mental and physical health. Too much or too little can lead to metabolic issues, as well as changes in mood and your ability to focus. Your circadian rhythm, which affects your sleep/wake cycle, holds implications for your brain, body temperature, hormones and cell regeneration among other things.4
“Irregular rhythms have been linked to various chronic health conditions, such as sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder and seasonal affective disorder,” say scientists from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences.5
Italian researchers found that deletion of a specific gene related to aging also affects glucose homeostasis. According to their article, published in the journal Glia, “Disruption of the circadian cycle is strongly associated with metabolic imbalance and reduced longevity in humans.”6
Telomeres and telomerase activity are also controlled by your circadian rhythm,7 making proper sleep an important part of longevity. In a 2007 study involving 21,268 adult twins, Finnish researchers found that adults who slept more than eight hours per night, or less than seven, showed increased risk of death.8
Of course, the quality of your sleep is also important, not just the quantity. Good quality sleep, in the appropriate amount, can improve how you think and adapt to the demands on your time and changes throughout your day. There is evidence suggesting that a calm mind and active body are two important ingredients for longevity.
The meditative technique known as “mindfulness” has even been shown to have a beneficial effect on genetic expression. According to a 2018 article in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity,9 meditation has also been found to affect the enzyme telomerase, which some researchers believe is actively involved with the process of aging.
After Resting, Be Sure to Refuel
Additionally, there are many other strategies you can implement to improve your health and extend your life span. To live longer, you need to counteract the progressive loss of muscle mass by increasing your protein intake as you age. The elderly, bodybuilders and endurance athletes typically have higher than normal protein requirements for their age group.
It’s also important to cycle high and low protein intake. Ideally, combine protein restriction with time-restricted eating, followed by increased protein intake on strength training days.
Fasting 16 to 20 hours each day is likely ideal, as this allows your body to more thoroughly deplete the glycogen stores in your liver. Benefits of fasting include the suppression of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and the activation of autophagy, both of which play decisive roles in disease prevention and longevity.
You’d also be wise to avoid eating two to three hours before bed, as late-night eating will decrease your nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) level, which is crucial for health and longevity. Late-night eating will also make you pack on unwanted pounds, as the excess calories will not be burned but stored as fat.
Preventing Cognitive Decline
Naturally, if you’re going to live longer, you’ll want to be healthy for the remainder, and that includes maintaining your cognitive function. Specific nutrients that can help prevent dementia and cognitive decline include vitamin D, DHA, folate and magnesium. Additional nutrients of notable interest, which are readily available in supplement form, include:
Astaxanthin — Commonly called “king of the carotenoids,” is a potent anti-inflammatory from specific types of microalgae and may be useful for treating joint and muscle pain. It also supports healthy vision and can be used as an “internal sunscreen.”
Ergothioneine — Found in porcini mushrooms, ergothioneine appears to play a specific role in protecting your DNA from oxidative damage. Along with glutathione, it may offer protection against age-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and heart disease.
PQQ — Particularly important for the health and protection of your mitochondria, PQQ has been shown to help protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. It also works synergistically with CoQ10, producing better results than when either one is used alone. Celery, parsley and kiwi are dietary sources of PQQ.
Kick the Chemicals to the Curb
Naturally, there’s also the issue of toxic exposures, which can take a toll on your health, so avoiding toxins is a given, right along with eating a wholesome diet of organic, unprocessed foods.
This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with nontoxic alternatives.
A group of scientists from Southeast University and Changzhou No. 7 People’s Hospital in China recently published a study10 about the role of plastics in our environment and how long-term exposure affects our health. They found that high concentrations of nanoplastic particles reduced the life span of roundworms.
They believe that different levels of exposure may have effects on locomotion and immune response, indicating that nanopolystyrene is likely toxic to all types of organisms.
“Our results highlight the potential of long-term nanopolystyrene exposure in reducing longevity and in affecting health state during the aging process in environmental organisms,” they wrote. Next week I will post my interview with leading researcher James Clement on his book, “The Switch,” that will go into far more fascinating details on this topic.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs seasonally, typically ramping up in the fall and winter months and disappearing come spring
Helpful treatments include optimizing your vitamin D and omega-3 levels, light therapy (including blue light exposure in the morning, but not later in the day), optimizing your sleep, the Emotional Freedom Techniques and exercise
Your health and mood are intricately tied to exposure to sunlight. For example, your serotonin levels (the hormone typically associated with elevating your mood) rise when you’re exposed to bright light. Your melatonin level also rises and falls (inversely) with light and darkness
Vitamin D deficiency is very common, and should be a top consideration when you’re looking for a solution to flagging mood and energy — especially if it occurs during fall and winter months
While light therapy can take up to four weeks before you notice improvement, it was shown to be more effective than antidepressants for moderate to severe depression in a 2015 study
The loss of daylight hours during winter is a common cause of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that hits seasonally and lifts as spring and summer rolls back around.
The fact that SAD occurs when the days begin to darken and sunlight is at a minimum is not a coincidence. Your health and mood are intricately tied to exposure to sunlight. For example, your serotonin levels (the hormone typically associated with elevating your mood) rise when you’re exposed to bright light.
Your melatonin level also rises and falls — inversely — with light and darkness. When it’s dark, your melatonin levels increase, which is why you may feel tired when the sun starts to set, and in the heart of winter, this may be at as early as 3 p.m. if you live far from the equator. Light and darkness also control your biological clock, or circadian rhythm, which impacts hormones that regulate your appetite and metabolism.
As explained in the paper, “Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches,” published in the journal Depression Research and Treatment in 2015:1
“… SAD is a recurrent major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern usually beginning in fall and continuing into winter months. A subsyndromal type of SAD, or S-SAD, is commonly known as ‘winter blues.’ Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.
Symptoms center on sad mood and low energy. Those most at risk are female, are younger, live far from the equator, and have family histories of depression, bipolar disorder, or SAD … Typical treatment includes antidepressant medications, light therapy, vitamin D, and counselling.”
Considering the many health risks associated with antidepressants, and the fact that their efficacy is right on par with placebos, my recommendation is to avoid them if at all possible.
Aside from light therapy and vitamin D, other drug-free treatment options include optimizing your omega-3 level, exercise, the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) and normalizing your circadian rhythm, all of which will be reviewed here.
The Role of Vitamin D
As explained in the featured paper,2vitamin D appears to play a role in the activity of serotonin, a mood-balancing hormone, and melatonin, a hormone that responds to light and dark.
People with SAD tend to have lower serotonin and higher melatonin levels, which can account for the fatigue, tiredness and depressed mood typically associated with this condition. According to the Depression Research and Treatment paper:3
“A systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that low levels of vitamin D are associated with depression … During the winter months of November through February, those living about 33 degrees north or 30 degrees south of the equator are not able to synthesize vitamin D.
Many people with SAD and S-SAD have insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D, and although no further studies have confirmed the findings, research investigating this association suggests that taking 100,000 IU daily may improve their symptoms.
Taking vitamin D before winter darkness sets in may help prevent symptoms of depression. Adverse reactions or intoxication is rare but could occur from doses of more than 50,000 IU per day.”
Vitamin D deficiency is very common, and should be a top consideration when you’re looking for a solution to flagging mood and energy — especially if it occurs during fall and winter months.
Ideally, you’ll want to get your vitamin D level tested twice a year, in summer and winter, when your levels are highest and lowest. This will help you fine-tune your dosage over time. While regular sun exposure is the best way to optimize your vitamin D level, this isn’t possible in many areas during the winter, thus necessitating the use of oral supplements instead.
GrassrootsHealth has a helpful calculator that can help estimate the dose required to reach healthy vitamin D levels based upon your measured starting point. The optimal level you’re looking for is between 60 and 80 ng/ml, and for all-around health, you’ll want to maintain this level year-round.
Omega-3 Fats Are Important Too
Another nutrient that can be helpful is marine-based omega-3. As noted in a 2009 review4 of three studies looking at the impact of omega-3 supplementation on patients with unipolar depression, childhood major depression and bipolar depression:
“Twelve bipolar outpatients with depressive symptoms were treated with 1.5-2.0 g/day of EPA for up to 6 months. In the adult unipolar depression study, highly significant benefits were found by week 3 of EPA treatment compared with placebo.
In the child study, an analysis … showed highly significant effects of omega-3 on each of the three rating scales. In the bipolar depression study, 8 of the 10 patients who completed at least one month of follow-up achieved a 50% or greater reduction in Hamilton depression scores within one month.”
In another study5 published that same year, people with lower blood levels of omega-3s were found to be more likely to have symptoms of depression and a more negative outlook while those with higher blood levels demonstrated the opposite emotional states.
A more recent review,6 published in 2015, pointed out that “Cell signaling and structure of the cell membrane are changed by omega-3-fatty acids, which demonstrates that an omega-3-fatty acid can act as an antidepressant.”
Importantly, this paper also points to research showing that the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is an important factor that can influence your depression risk. People with severe symptoms of depression have been found to have low concentrations of omega-3 in conjunction with considerably higher concentrations of omega-6.
You can learn more about the importance of this ratio in “Getting Your Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio Right Is Essential For Optimal Health.” The key, really, to normalizing this ratio is to increase your omega-3 intake while simultaneously lowering your omega-6 consumption. This means you’ll need to ditch processed and fried foods, as they’re typically loaded with omega-6-rich vegetable oils.
Get Tested Today
GrassrootsHealth, which is conducting consumer-sponsored research into both vitamin D and omega-3, is one of your most cost-effective alternatives when it comes to testing.
Their vitamin D testing kit enrolls you into the GrassrootsHealth D*Action project, where your anonymized data will help researchers to provide accurate data about the vitamin D status in the population, the level at which disease prevention is obtained, and guidance on dosing to achieve optimal levels.
Their vitamin D, magnesium and omega-3 test kit is another option that will allow you to check the status of several vital nutrients at once. Each kit contains instructions for how to collect your blood sample. You then mail in your sample and fill out a quick online health questionnaire through GrassrootsHealth. A link to your test results will be emailed to you about a week after your blood samples have been received.
Light Therapy Is More Effective Than Antidepressants
Light therapy,7 using full-spectrum nonfluorescent lighting that has blue light to artificially mimic sunlight, is among the most effective treatment options for SAD. You want to avoid fluorescents as they emit large amounts of dirty electricity. Ideally, have the light exposure in the morning, well after sunrise. As noted in the Depression Research and Treatment paper:8
“Knowing the difference decreased daylight can make in triggering SAD and S-SAD, approaches seeking to replace the diminished sunshine using bright artificial light, particularly in the morning, have consistently showed promise …
Light boxes can be purchased that emit full spectrum light similar in composition to sunlight. Symptoms of SAD and S-SAD may be relieved by sitting in front of a light box first thing in the morning, from the early fall until spring …
Typically, light boxes filter out ultraviolet rays and require 20–60 minutes of exposure to 10,000 lux of cool-white… light daily during fall and winter.
This is about 20 times as great as ordinary indoor lighting … Light therapy should not be used in conjunction with photosensitizing medications such as lithium, melatonin, phenothiazine antipsychotics, and certain antibiotics.”
While light therapy can take up to four weeks before you notice an improvement, it was shown to be more effective than antidepressants for moderate to severe depression in a 2015 study.9,10 In it, the researchers evaluated the effectiveness of light therapy, alone and in conjunction with the antidepressant fluoxetine (sold under the brand name Prozac).
The eight-week trial included 122 adults between the ages of 19 and 60, who were diagnosed with moderate to severe depression. The participants were divided into four groups, receiving:
30 minutes of light therapy per day upon waking, using a 10,000 lux Carex brand day-light device, classic model, plus a placebo pill
Prozac (20 mg/day) plus a deactivated ion generator serving as a placebo light device
Light therapy plus Prozac
Placebo light device plus placebo pill (control group)
In conclusion, the study found that the combination of light therapy and Prozac was the most effective — but light therapy-only came in at a close second, followed by placebo. In other words, the drug treatment was the least effective of all, including placebo.
The mean changes in the Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale from baseline to the eight-week end point was 16.9 for the combination therapy (active light- and drug therapy), and 13.4 for light therapy alone.
Blue Light During Daytime Hours May Improve Your Mood
In addition to the bright white light used in light therapy, blue light has also been shown to be useful. According to a 2010 study,11blue light appears to play a key role in your brain’s ability to process emotions, and its results suggest that spending more time in blue-enriched light could help prevent SAD.
Blue light is prevalent in outdoor light, so your body absorbs the most during the summer and much less in the winter. Because of this, the researchers suggested that adding blue light to indoor lighting, as opposed to the standard yellow lights typically used, may help boost mood and productivity year-round, and especially during the winter.
Keep in mind, however, that blue light after sunset or before sunrise should be avoided, as it can disrupt your circadian rhythm. In fact, one of the reasons for insomnia and poor sleep is related to excessive exposure to blue light-emitting technologies such as TV and computer screens, especially in the evening.
The blue light depresses melatonin production, thereby preventing you from feeling sleepy. So, to be clear, you only want to expose yourself to blue light in the morning, and possibly afternoon, but not in the evening.
“[R]ods and cones in the eye… are specialized cells that can transduce a photo signal into a nerve signal… In the mid-90s, a different type of cell was discovered… [called] intrinsically photosensitive Retinal Ganglion Cells (ipRGC).
It does the same thing as rods and cones: it transduced light to a nerve signal. But instead of the signal going to your visual cortex, it goes to your master clock. Those cells are most responsive to blue light. If you can block blue light, you can actually create something called circadian darkness or virtual darkness.
What that means is that you can see, but your brain doesn’t think that it’s daytime; your brain thinks that it’s in darkness. That is actually a practical solution for living with artificial light in our modern world…
With more awareness, future digital devices will adjust lighting in the evening to automatically dim and emit amber/red light [instead of blue]. This is much better for healthy circadian rhythms and sleep quality.”
As you can tell by Pardi’s explanation above, the blue light issue is closely related to your sleep quality and circadian rhythm maintenance, and this too is an important component of mental health.
Historically, humans went to sleep shortly after sunset and woke up when the sun rose. Straying too far from this biological pattern will disrupt delicate hormonal cycles in your body, which can affect both your mood and your health. Indeed, the link between depression and lack of sleep is well established, and sleep disturbance is one of the telltale signs of depression.12
Sleep therapy has also been shown to significantly improve depression. While there are individual differences, as a general rule, you’ll want to aim for about eight hours of sleep per night.
For many, this will require going to bed earlier, which can be difficult if you’ve been watching TV or using electronics beforehand, as the blue light from the screen suppresses your melatonin production.
So, an important part of the solution is to avoid screen-time for a couple of hours before bed. Alternatives to not watching TV or using electronics is to install a blue light modulating software such as Iris,13 or using blue-blocking glasses.
Just make sure you don’t wear blue blocking glasses during the daytime, which is when you need the blue light exposure. Also, make sure the glasses filter out light between 460 to 490 nanometers (nm), which is the range of blue light that most effectively reduces melatonin. You can easily tell this by looking at a blue light and if it doesn’t disappear with the glasses, it is not blocking that frequency.
Exercise Helps Prevent Depression
Like sleep, exercise can impact your risk of depression. Even a minimal amount of exercise may be enough to combat depression in some people — as little as one hour a week could prevent 12% of future cases of depression, according to one study.14
Participants were followed for 11 years in this study, during which time it was revealed that people who engaged in regular leisure-time exercise for one hour a week, regardless of intensity, were less likely to become depressed. On the flipside, those who didn’t exercise were 44% more likely to become depressed compared to those who did so for at least one to two hours a week.
Exercise benefits your brain and mood via multiple mechanisms, including creating new, excitable neurons along with new neurons designed to release the GABA neurotransmitter, which inhibits excessive neuronal firing, helping to induce a natural state of calm15 — similar to the way anti-anxiety drugs work, except that the mood-boosting benefits of exercise occur both immediately after a workout and on in the long term.
Exercise also boosts levels of potent brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, which may help buffer some of the effects of stress. What’s more, anandamide levels are known to increase during and following exercise.16Anandamide is a neurotransmitter and endocannabinoid produced in your brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression. It can also be activated with CBD products.
Tap for Symptoms of Depression
Last but not least, EFT, a form of psychological acupressure, is a noninvasive way that can help treat symptoms of depression, whether related to seasonal light differences or not.
Some people avoid energy psychology, believing it’s an alternative form of New Age spirituality. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is merely an advanced tool that can effectively address some of the psychological short circuiting that occurs in emotional illnesses.
It is not associated with any religion or spiritual outlook at all, but merely an effective resource you can use with whatever spiritual belief you have. In the video above, EFT practitioner Julie Schiffman demonstrates how you can use EFT to relieve your symptoms.
It’s the Season To Be Glad, Not SAD
Since SAD is triggered by the loss of light, it makes sense that light therapy is among the most effective treatments. Vitamin D and/or omega-3 deficiency, as well as lack of sleep and exercise, can also play a significant role, so addressing these basic lifestyle factors could also be what you need to avoid the winter blues.
In closing, it may be worth noting that it’s natural for your body to want to slow down somewhat in the wintertime. While this can be difficult when your work and personal life dictate otherwise, allowing yourself to slow down a bit and surrender to the overwinter process may ultimately help you to respect your body’s circadian rhythm, and recharge.
That said, this doesn’t mean you should plant yourself on the couch for the winter and not venture outdoors. On the contrary, staying active and spending time outdoors during the day are among the best “cures” for SAD.
This article is copyrighted by GreenMedInfo LLC, 2019
Insomnia: Everything You Knew
Valerian is the herbal superstar for insomnia. Several studies prove that valerian safely helps you fall asleep faster and enjoy a better sleep. Double-blind research shows that valerian improves sleep in 89% of people and that 44% of them report perfect sleep.
How good is valerian? Valerian is better than the best drugs for insomnia. In one double-blind study, 600mg of valerian extract equalled the benzodiazepine oxazepam while being safer, and in another it beat it: while both treatments significantly improved sleep quality, the valerian was safer, and 82.2% of people with insomnia felt they had very good results with valerian while only 73.4% felt they did with oxazepam. A review of controlled studies of insomniacs found that nine out of twelve studies of valerian found improvement in at least one measure of sleep. According to the authors, there were severe design flaws in the three studies that didn’t find a benefit.
Valerian and hops can also be combined with passionflower. A double-blind study compared the three herb combo to the drug zolpidem in 78 adults with insomnia. The herbal dose was 300mg valerian extract standardized to .8% valerenic acid, 80 mg passionflower extract standardized to 4% isovitexin and 30 mg hops extract standardized to 0.35% rutin. Each person took one dose at bedtime. In both groups, time to fall asleep improved significantly and comparably. The two treatments both also significantly and comparably improved the amount of time they slept: the drug group improved from 3.5 to 5.7 hours, and the herb group had a slightly better improvement from 3.4 to 5.9 hours. The two treatments were also equally effective for significantly improving night time awakenings and quality of life.
Another good herb to combine with valerian is lemon balm. Double-blind studies prove that this combination works (1). It works as well as the drug Halcion without the daytime drowsiness and trouble concentrating that the drug causes (2).
More than Insomnia: Everything You Didn’t Know
Insomnia & Menopause
Women going through menopause often struggle with insomnia: about 50% of menopausal women experience sleep disturbances. But a four week triple-blind study of 100 postmenopausal women with insomnia found that quality of sleep improved significantly more with valerian than with placebo. 30% of women in the valerian group had improved sleep versus only 4% in the placebo group. The dose was 530mg concentrated valerian extract twice a day.
When 100 menopausal women with sleep disturbances were given a placebo or a combination of valerian and lemon balm, there was significantly better improvement in sleep in the herbal group.
It may not come as much of a surprise that the greatest herb for insomnia can help menopausal women with insomnia. What is much more surprising is that valerian doesn’t just help the insomnia of menopause, it helps the menopause.
A new triple-blind study gave a placebo or 530mg of valerian twice a day for two months to sixty postmenopausal women. Both the frequency and severity of hot flashes improved significantly more in the valerian group.
This is not the first study to show that valerian helps hot flashes. An earlier study of 68 women found that, when compared to placebo, 225mg of valerian given three times a day significantly reduces the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Hot flash severity dropped from 9.82 to 5.23 after eight weeks on valerian, while the placebo group only changed from 9.96 to 9.86. As for frequency, the valerian group improved from 7.91 hot flashes a day to only 4.83 while the women on the placebo went from 7.73 to 7.75.
And menopause is not the only problem that valerian can solve for women. A recent double-blind study gave women with PMS valerian extract or placebo. There was significant improvement on valerian but no improvement on placebo. Valerian was significantly better at improving PMS symptom severity. It significantly improved both emotional and physical symptoms.
And that’s not all. A double-blind study gave either a placebo or 255mg of valerian three times a day to 100 students. The valerian was given for three days beginning at the start of menstruation for two consecutive cycles. The valerian was significantly more effective at reducing menstrual pain.
The great sleep herb valerian is also as good as drugs for anxiety. When researchers compared valerian to benzodiazepines for insomnia, they found an unexpected result: it not only equalled the drug for insomnia, it also equalled it for anxiety and with fewer side effects. Combining valerian and passionflower is also effective (3).
Anxiety down, stress to go. Valerian, passionflower and lemon balm are all great herbs for relaxing. This double-blind study gave seventy men either a placebo or a combination of 90mg valerian, 90mg of passionflower, 60mg of lemon balm and 90mg of butterbur or no treatment for four days. The men were then subjected to a social stress test, consisting of a five minute oral presentation and a five minute mental subtraction activity while being taped in front of a live audience. Tests for self reported levels of stress revealed that the group on the herbs suffered significantly less stress than the other two groups.
Valerian may even be able to help people struggling with OCD. An eight week double-blind pilot study of 31 adults with OCD found that 765mg a day of valerian was significantly better than placebo at treating OCD (J Complement Integr Med 2011;8).
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To learn more about ways Valerian may benefit your health, visit the GreenMedInfo database on the subject.
1. Dressing H, Köhler S, Müller WE. Improvement of sleep quality with a high-dose valerian/lemon balm preparation: A placebo-controlled double-blind study. Psychopharmakotherapie 1996;6:32-40.
2. Dressing H, Riemann D, Low H, et al. Insomnia: Are valerian/balm combination of equal value to benzodiazepine? Therapiewoche 1992;42:726-36.
3. Brown D. Valerian root: Non-addictive alternative for insomnia and anxiety. Quart Rev Nat Med 1994;Fall:221-4 [review]
Linda Woolven and Ted Snider are the authors of several books on natural health and of the natural health newsletter, The Natural Path. Their latest book, Chocolate: Superfood of the Gods, clearly lays out the science that dark chocolate is nature’s perfect superfood.