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October 14, 2010
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October 28, 2010

Health News Updates

Early release of an article I just did for Networking News.

Natural Treatments for anxiety

The most common mental health disorders are the anxiety states. These can manifest as intrusive fears, persistent worry, compulsions and irritability. For many they can also cause numerous physical symptoms including back pain, headaches, poor digestion and tingling hands. Although the vast majority of those with anxiety do not seek treatment, it can respond very well to mediation, biofeedback, exercise, talk therapy and anxiety reducing supplements.

A recent literature review evaluated the anxiety reducing effects of various natural supplements including L-Lysine, L-Arginine, Kava-Kava, Passifloria, Magnesium and St. John’s Wort. 1

The studies evaluated did not show Magnesium and St. John’s Wort to be effective against anxiety. Yet evidence showed that L-Lysine, L-Arginine, Kava-Kava, Passifloria were effective treatment options.

Kava is a favorite recommendation of mine. At low doses it can eliminate anxiety without sedation. It also acts as a gentle muscle relaxant. It has been safely used in the Polynesian islands for centuries as a social beverage, much like Europeans have used wine.

Although numerous alerts have linked Kava-Kava to liver damage, this reaction has been isolated to products made from the root, leaves and stems of the plant. Historically only the root has been used. Some manufacturers have used the whole plant to get more product per pound of crop. This exposes customers to liver toxic alkaloids known to be in the leaves and stem but not in the root. When purchasing Kava-Kava, avoid products that do not specify ‘Root extract only’.

Easiest way to get your veggies

We all know five servings of fruits and veggies daily lowers our risk for many cancers. Going further, the DASH diet has showed that if you eat to seven to ten servings you can also lower blood pressure, cholesterol and body weight. Despite numerous messages and ad campaigns, most American adults get under 2 servings of quality produce daily.

A study completed this month, demonstrated that commercially available vegetable juice can help close this gap. 2 The study examined participants adherence and health changes in response to 1 daily serving of V8 juice.

Rather than being told to target a certain number of servings of a large food category, participants were given one recommendation: drink 8-12 ounces of V8 daily. Unlike the poor responses to the ‘five a day’ or ‘DASH’ campaigns, nearly all were able to follow this simple suggestion.

One of my reservations about V8 juice has been the high sodium content. Since it does provide vegetables and nearly as much potassium as sodium, I often wondered whether the good might outweigh the bad in terms of blood pressure effects. In this study it did. None saw blood pressure elevate, some even saw dramatic decreases in blood pressure in the first few weeks.

Humans evolved to thrive on foods found on the prehistoric African Savannah such as produce and lean game. I call fast food restaurants and convenience stores the ‘Modern American Savannah’. In this modern Savannah, you can’t always find organic berries, but you can always find a can of V8.

Alan Christianson, N.M.D., has been practicing in the Scottsdale area for over 14 years He focuses on helping diagnose hidden thyroid disease and helping those known to have thyroid disease lose weight and regain energy. He has completed ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Thyroid Disease’ which is available for pre-sale on Amazon. He practices at Integrative Health along with Drs. Ann Lovick and Phil Wazny. 480-657-0003. www.integrativehealthcare.com

1. Lakhan S, Vieira K. Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review. Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:42doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-42.
2. Shenoy, S, Kazaks AG et al. The use of a commercial vegetable juice as a practical means to increase vegetable intake: a randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:38doi:10.1186/1475-2891-9-38.

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