May 2011 Newsletter
Anti-aging products and treatments are all the rage these days as we “Boomers” march into our 50’s and 60’s. I admit that I don’t plan to go into my “Golden Years” quietly either. I plan to be just as active at 80 as I am at 56. Now most of my 80 year old patients will look at me wisely and smile knowingly that it is easier said than done, but I said the same thing about my 50’s when I was in my 20’s and I have pretty much lived up to that goal.
My grandmother lived to 103 and her secret to a long life was everything in moderation, no smoking, no exercise and lived on home grown food most of her life. She also didn’t get upset easily and was pretty easy going but she really never worked outside of the home. Some jobs and certain bosses will age you faster than others! Other people have lived long lives smoking and drinking every day and working into their 90’s and 100’s so there really is no blueprint for longevity that works for everyone. The marketers of longevity have put the emphasis on lotions, potions, exercise, hormones and vitamins. I partake in most of those things but have come to understand some real fallacies that we are being sold as truths. Let’s look at a few…
Vitamins are all pretty much the same
In this country, what is on the supplement label may not be in the capsule or tablet. They did a study in Denver several years back where they collected a large sample of different brands of Echinacea from health food stores. They had a lab analyze each product and they found that 20% had in the capsule what it said on the label, 20% had NO Echinacea in it and the remaining 60% had between 10-80% of what it said on the label. Most of the products we use in the office come from companies that have been around for decades and who test their products for purity. You can bet that what is on the label is in the capsule or tablet. Also, synthetic vitamins (which are readily found on most shelves) can actually increase your risk of diseases like cancer and heart disease. Rancid oils like fish oils are more dangerous than taking no oils at all. Good fish oil should have the smell of fresh fish outside of the capsule. If it smells like strong fish or has no smell at all (de-odorized) it is rancid and should never be taken. Cheap fish oils are never a good deal!
Hormones are the fountain of youth.
Whether you see Suzanne Sommers touting the benefits of bio-identical hormones on Oprah or the magazine ad of the 72 year old doctor who has the 20 year old body; their stories are pretty convincing evidence that hormone therapy works. At least in the short run. In the long run, any time you put hormones in from outside of the body, the glands that produce those hormones start to shut down. Your endocrine (hormone) system is a very complicated, interactively balanced, system that is still mostly a mystery to modern science. Every year we learn new things about the endocrine system we didn’t know existed.
For women, bio-identical estrogen and progesterone can be a lifesaver in the battle against hot flashes and night sweats. But if you don’t get to the real problem of strengthening the adrenals, balancing the thyroid and detoxifying the liver, eventually those hormones will stop working. If you are a pre-menopausal woman, those hormones will really cause a problem with your endocrine system and should only be used as a last resort. Currently, the use of birth control pills for peri-menopausal women is the treatment of choice for altered cycles and hot flashes. BC pills don’t really get to the heart of the problem and are again covering up symptoms instead. There are herbs and nutritional supplements that can correct the deficiencies instead of covering up the symptoms.
For men, testosterone works great for a month or two to increase testosterone levels and muscle mass. Then it causes the over-production of the aromatase enzyme which converts a lot of that testosterone to estrogen. It is the high estrogen found in our environment that is lowering the US males’ sperm count and increasing the incidence of prostate cancer. Growth hormone is how that 72 year old doctor looks like a high school football player from the neck down. The real GH sots are very expensive but do work on guys like Sly Stallone and others. What the long-term effects are is yet to be seen. The homeopathic GH or the amino acid precursors usually don’t test very well or show much difference in the patients who use them. The good news is that they won’t do any harm.
HCG to the Rescue!
The latest fad that has been growing over the last 5-6 years is the use of Human Chorionic Gonadotrophin to lose weight. The medical version uses injectible hormones and the over-the-counter version uses homeopathic drops to reduce your hunger while only ingesting 500 calories a day. As I have said in the past, all low calorie diets work, look at the pictures of the survivors of the death camps in Europe or Asia. The problem is, you also lose a fair percentage of muscle on these low calorie diets and you tend to rebound to a weight equal to or greater than when you started. Not everyone has the rebound weight gain but many I have seen do. The more starvation diets you try, the more you mess up your metabolism, hormones and blood sugar.
Missing the Boat
Sex hormones and face creams with sex hormones in them will make you look young and beautiful beyond your years but the real fountain of youth is being sadly missed. It is your brain and your functioning neurons that really keep you young and vital into your triple digits. Memory loss (both long and short term), loss of smell or taste, tremors, balance problems, ADD & ADHD, digestive problems, sleep problems , erectile dysfunction, hot flashes, hormone imbalances, auto-immune diseases, pain, inflammation, etc. are all symptoms of brain problems. Unless we start addressing these problems directly instead of using hormones, there are going to be a lot of gorgeous patients filling the Alzheimer’s and dementia wards of the nursing homes! Your performance physically and mental is dependent on good brain function.
But I wasn’t drinking!
The roadside sobriety test is really a test of some of your brain function. There are people who can’t pass those tests totally sober at 10 am on a weekday. Can you stand on one foot, close your eyes and not fall over? The side you fall to is usually the side where there is a lesion in the brain. People who have an undiagnosed gluten intolerance and no signs of dementia have been shown to have severe brain atrophy on MRI. They have no digestive problems but they are destroying their brains by eating foods that causes brain inflammation.
There was one case I heard of where a woman had such a bad systemic yeast infection that she was pulled over for drunk driving and flunked the breathalyzer test. Her body was fermenting from all the yeast and mold in her system and it was creating an auto-intoxication of her brain as if she had been doing shots of tequila for breakfast instead of the cereal and juice she had the morning of her arrest. The cereal and juice fed the yeast and created the fermentation that made her drunk without drinking. I would love to know how much permanent neurological damage she suffered from that infection!
Neurons in your brain don’t heal like other cells in your body so their damage is permanent. There are glial cells that outnumber the neurons in your brain 10:1 that are the scavengers for dying neurons. Glial cell activation by food allergies, nutrition imbalances and toxins like drugs and alcohol, will cause the glial cells to eat up brain neurons like Pac Man on speed! Only alternative practitioners using certain nutritional supplements can help heal your brain because there are no drug solutions to fix these problems.
Exercise is great for increasing the blood circulation throughout your body. Most people don’t think of your head as an extremity but it is. If you have chronic bad circulation in your hands and feet, you also have chronic bad brain circulation. If you think that your chronic low blood pressure (under 100/60) is a good thing you are mistaken. This low pressure lowers the amount of blood you get to your brain and causes damage. If you get dizzy or lightheaded when you stand up quickly, that is a sign of low blood pressure and needs to be treated. Minerals, adrenal support and hydration are just some of the things that can help that problem. Protecting brain function is an area of health that severely under-served in both the traditional and alternative health care fields but is vitally important to all of us.
I will be out of the office for a few days over the Memorial Day holiday. I will be gone Friday 5/27 and will be back in the office on Thursday 6/2. I will be receiving treatment in Mexico for a serious disease call “Beach Deficiency” that has been developing over the past 20 months since my trip to Hawaii. I will receive several canisters of compressed air under 80-100 feet of warm salt water followed by UV rays on a solar heated bed of sand. I will be forced to consume lots of local caught seafood and possible an exotic elixir or two in the evenings. Yes, it is purely a medicinal treatment that I will have to endure for a few days but I’m not asking for your sympathy. Warning, this treatment may darken the color of my skin so don’t be alarmed when you see me in June!