Tag Archives: stress

Regulate the bowel and the body will follow

When considering digestive health its interesting to note that for as long as medical writings have been in existence the concept of ‘health starting in the colon’ has always been around. We know that a healthy bowel (colon) is essential for a healthy body but we do expose our gut to a daily barrage of potentially damaging toxins and harmful organisms. In a way, its testament to the effectiveness of gut and its immune system that we are all not ill on a daily basis but we all could do a lot to help this system along and reduce some of the detoxification burden. Its worth considering that an over-burdened intestinal tract is often the trigger for a flare of IBS which in turn can have wider implications on the healthy functioning of the immune system and any background inflammatory conditions that may co-exist. Bowel ‘toxicity’ can be related to poorly digested foods that decay in the colon. This process inevitably aggravates the delicate balance of bowel microbes and can shift the digestive process to one of breakdown too fermentation. Over time, the absorption of nutrients can be impaired and the overgrowth of opportunistic gut organisms such as Candida albicans can occur.

In order to help this process reverse and stimulate healthy digestion over the more unhealthy fermentation process digestive enzymes can be used with great effect. For example, when polysaccharides (the starchy or fibrous part of vegetables) enter the digestive system and are not correctly processed they arrive in the lower bowel (colon) where bacteria and other fermentation orientated organisms set about generating gas as an end product of their actions. Abdominal bloating, colicky cramps and upset bowel actions can be a direct result of this process. Using a specific enzyme that splits up the indigestible type of polysaccharide that is found in dietary fibre, for example, will help reduce the amount reaching the lower bowel and ease the IBS symptoms. These enzymes are known as hemicellulase and cellulase. What makes the story interesting is the fact that the human gut does not make any cellulase which is the reason why cellulose (plant fiber) based foods, although being ‘healthy’ do not digest well in some people. However, certain bacteria within the human bowel actually produce the enzyme known as hemicellulase. Bowel toxicity is a common environmental change that can damage these bacteria to a point where the enzyme is almost absent within the bowel. This, along with other digestive issues can be viewed as another contributing factor causing an aggravation of IBS symptoms.

In addition to the fiber splitting enzymes another specialist ingredient, also an enzyme, can help prevent the inevitable Candida overgrowth that accompanies a toxic colon. Known as chitosanase, the enzyme specifically breaks down chitin, a key structural component that forms the cell wall of fungi and years including Candida. By punching holes in the cell wall chitosanase and other enzymes may effectively digest and eliminate these organisms. Enzyme actions can also go further than the digestive process by beneficially influencing the inflammatory reaction that can occur within the body. A protein splitting enzyme called Peptizyme SP (serratia peptidase) can exert a powerful anti-inflammatory effect that not only eases digestive inflammation but can ease the inflammation related to arthritis and even some skin inflammations such as acne and rosacea.

Supporting enzymes also play an important part in overall digestive efficiency. Adequate levels of fat splitting enzymes (lipase) are required to help process even the small amount of fat found in the leanest of meats. If you are a vegetarian the oils found in nuts and dressings (eg olive) may be healthier options but still require lipase to digest them effectively. Proteins commonly accompany fats in a meal so the need for proteases (protein splitting enzymes) along with sugar splitting enzymes (amylase) is important in a balanced enzyme supplement.

Most enzyme preparations are considered safe to use but following the manufacturers instructions is important since potency and blends will change from brand to brand. Colon ClenZyme (from the Canadian manufacture Natural Factors) contains all the key enzyme ingredients mentioned above; hemicellulase, cellulase, chitosanase, Peptizyme SP along with amaylase, lipase and protease. The vegetarian capsules can be taken with meals or opened so that those who find swallowing capsules difficult can sprinkle the enzyme powder on their food. Adjusting the level of enzyme needed can be quite a personal thing. Starting off with 1 capsule with small-medium sized meals would be a start. This can be increased to 2 capsules if needed or if the meal is larger. Enzymes only have an action for that meal. Once they have passed through the digestive tract they are naturally broken down and eliminated, they do not accumulate over repeated use. Unless otherwise stated, enzyme supplements are suitable for daily and long term use.


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During REM Sleep Stress Chemicals Shut Down And The Brain Processes Emotional Experiences

They say time heals all wounds, and new research from the University of California, Berkeley, indicates that time spent in dream sleep can help. 

“The dream stage of sleep, based on its unique neurochemical composition, provides us with a form of overnight therapy, a soothing balm that removes the sharp edges from the prior day’s emotional experiences,” said Matthew Walker, associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and senior author of the study published in the journal Current Biology.

During REM Sleep Stress Chemicals Shut Down And The Brain Processes Emotional Experiences.

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7 pointers to better health

Dr Rosenbaum PharmD

Seven Balance Point Model To Better Health

By Dr. Cathy Rosenbaum

Holistic Clinical Pharmacist

How would you define health? For many of us, health is strictly focused on our physical condition.  Yet, holistic teachings guide us to equally consider value in body, mind, and spiritual health.  I’d like to propose there are at least seven aspects to explore when planning a health and wellness regimen.  We will call these aspects taken together ‘the seven balance point model’ for healing and wellness (e.g., physical, nutrition/supplements, sleep, exercise, social, emotional, and spiritual health).  Here is a brief summary of each aspect.

Physical: It’s important to select and develop a good relationship with your primary care physician who will coordinate your traditional and non-traditional health care team as you partner to develop a personalized health regimen.  Keep up with maintenance and preventative testing as directed by him/her.  We all need a 50,000 mile tune up from time to time just like with our cars!

Nutrition/Supplements: The Mediterranean Diet is considered the world’s gold standard diet for healthy eating and is evidence based. Read about this strategy and try to incorporate more beans, nuts, oily fish, antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables, and monounsaturated fatty acids like extra virgin olive oil into your diet. You’ll be amazed at how much better you start to feel.  Use dietary supplements sparingly at the advice and consent of your healthcare practitioner.  Supplements can never replace good nutrition or eating whole organic foods.

Sleep: Try to get 7-8 hours of sleep at night.  If you have trouble sleeping, drink a glass of milk or decaffeinated green tea before bedtime.  Milk contains tryptophan and green tea contains L-theanine, both of which are relaxing constituents.  Keep your bedroom very cool to allow the body’s natural melatonin levels to rise and help you fall asleep.  Place a drop of lavender essential oil on your pillow as a relaxing fragrance. Play soft music with nature sounds at bedtime.  Light candles to make the room inviting (but be careful not to burn down the house); extinguish them before retiring.

Exercise: We need about 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.  Walking qualifies and is easy for many of us to do around the neighborhood, at the club, mall, or even at work.  Walking in nature is even better to encourage us to drink in earth’s beauty and become one with the universe.

Social: Develop relationships and friends for your emotional support and for whom you may be a good support in return.  We were not placed on this earth to be isolated.  Being around others helps us feel more alive and stay young.

Emotional Health: Forgive others and self.  Manage your stress with regular massages, laughter, and musical enjoyment.  Dancing is a fabulous outlet to bring a smile to your face.  Deep breathing is a Yoga technique and helps center and calm for stressful times in life.  Try it sometime and see for yourself.  As much as possible, try to focus on the positives in life and change the mental tape if you start to think negative thoughts.

Spiritual Health: Again, spend more time in nature. Explore your understanding of a higher power. Focus on the big picture in life.  Volunteer in your community and give back to serve others and give thanks for your blessings.

Good luck and may you be blessed in body, mind, and spirit.

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Passiflora, anxiety and stress – the latest

A new study from the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, a non-profit charity organisation, revealed that the passion flower, (Passiflora) is effective in easing anxiety.

Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s open access Nutrition Journal pooled the results of 24 studies involving a total of more than 2000 participants, showing that some nutritional and herbal supplements can be effective, without the risk of serious side effects.

The research was undertaken by Shaheen Lakhan and Karen Vieira from the Global Neuroscience Initiative Foundation, USA. Lakhan said, “Our review and summary of the literature on herbal remedies and dietary supplements for anxiety should aid mental health practitioners in advising their patients and provide insight for future research in this field.

Of the studies included in the review, 21 were randomized controlled trials. Of these, 15 showed positive effects from either a nutritional or herbal remedy and any reported side effects were mild to moderate. The research showed that based on their systematic review, strong evidence existed for the use of herbal supplements containing extracts of passion flower (Passiflora).

According to Lakhan, “For all three of the herbal supplements we reviewed, more research needs to be done to establish the most effective dosage and to determine whether this varies between different types of anxiety or anxiety-related disorders. Herbal medicines hold an important place in the history of medicine as most of our current remedies, and the majority of those likely to be discovered in the future, will contain phytochemicals derived from plants.”

Further reading:

Holy Basil and anxiety

Product links:

Relax-O-Zyme: formula containing passiflora, valerian, chamomile and more

Stress End: one a day poly-pill based in passiflora, valerian, chamomile & vitamins

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Interview with Professor Robert Sapolsky

Robert Sapolsky is an American biologist and author. He is currently professor of Biological Sciences, and Professor of Neurology and Neurological Sciences, and by courtesy, Neurosurgery, at Stanford University. As a neuroendocrinologist, he has focused his research on issues of stress and neuronal degeneration, as well as on the possibilities of gene therapy strategies for protecting susceptible neurons from disease. His popular book, Why Zebras don’t get Ulcers describes the effects of stress on thye human body and is one of those ‘must-reads’ for all. I was lucky enough to pose some commonly asked questions for Prof Sapolsky; his replies are worth noting!

Q. What do you feel is the main adverse effect stress has on the human body?
A. “Well, there’s a number of particularly vulnerable outposts. Probably the most frequent adverse effects are hypertension, sleep disruption, disruption in concentration, depression, increased incidence of colds, sexual dysfunction.”

Q. What would be your 3 top tips to help someone suffering from stress?
A. “I’d say, 1) as per the cliche, distinguish between stressors you can and can’t control and, in the case of the former, find ways to increase the sense of control;  2) when the stressor is uncontrollable, at least strive for predictive information about when it is coming, how long it is going to last, and how bad it will be;  3) increase the amount of social support you get and give. Mind you, all this is said by someone who mostly thinks about stressed rats and neurons growing in Petrie dishes.”

Q. Do you feel that diet can help someone suffering from stress since many people report using B-vitamins can help them manage better?
A. “Well, it can certainly head off some of the adverse effect (e.g., large amounts of antioxidants delaying the emergence of some of the long-term pathologies of stress). What’s even clearer is that a bad diet is particularly bad news in the context of stress. For example, a combination of a high fat diet plus chronic psychosocial stress causes a synergistic increase in atherosclerosis in monkeys.”

There you have it… from experts mouth! Roberts knowledge of the biological effects of stress are beyond question and as we move into an ever more stressful existence we have to listen and learn how to off set its ravages on our bodies.

Check out the video clip below to learn more about stress and its biological effects…

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Holy Basil helpful in managing generalized anxiety disorder

With the growing levels of stress associated with modern life and a shaky economy reliance on conventional anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs is a growing concern. For may people managing stress and anxiety naturally is the method of choice but feeling drowsy due to the relaxant effects of some natural remedies is a problem.
Researchers from India have turned their critical attention to one of the most ancient of all Ayurvedic remedies used in the treatment of anxiety disorders; Holy Basil (ocimum sanctum). Despite the leaves from Holy Basil being used for thousands of years in India to date there has not been an evidence based report on their clinical effects. The team from India published their findings relating to the effects of Holy Basil and its role in mental disorders, especially generalized anxiety disorder, in the Nepal Medical College Journal. As well as confirming the importance of certain key compounds of the leaf, such as eugenol, the team also showed for the first time that a two months course of Holy Basil reduced the symptoms of stress, anxiety and eased mild depression. It was suggested that these effects were mediated via the hypophyseal-adrenocortical axis regulation.
At the heart of the effectiveness of Holy Basil lies its active compounds all of which appear to require separate extraction techniques depending on their solubility in water of fat. This has driven the development of the so-called Trinity Blend, a pure standardized extract delivers a full spectrum of the key compounds; the fat soluable terpenoids and phenolic derivatives as well as the more heat sensitive water soluable eugenol and caryophylene compounds.

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Can you cure a cold sore?

What is it about a cold sore; it tends to pop up just when you don’t need it the most, typically when you are low, stressed or both. Well that’s the reason. If you are low, stressed or recovering from an illness you are at your most vulnerable to their attack. Your immune guard is off duty. Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) that is carried in some 80% of the adult population. The virus enters the body through the skin or mucous membranes of the mouth or genitals. There are 2 types of HSV, aptly named type 1 and type 2! HSV-1 is the classic cold sore suffered by so many. HSV-2 is more restricted to the genital area, however cross infection can occur. Estimates have 1 in 5 people suffering from recurrent bouts of cold sores many of which could be prevented by taking stock of diet and boosting the immune system. Taking the amino acid called L-Lysine at a single dose of 500mg per day for prevention or twice a day if you feel one on the brew. Lysine interferes with the reproductive cycle of HSV and slows its progression. For many it’s a simple answer that works. There is also great value in looking to your diet. Certain foods can promote the growth of HSV, those foods high in another amino acid called arginine. Following a low arginin diet offers real benefit in many cases eg. nuts, chocolate (sorry!), seeds oats, lentils and brown rice. In addition keep your coffee intake down since caffeine increases the amount of arginine your body uses. Finally, consider using the homeopathic preparation called ZymaDerm-2. This contains homeopathic concentrations of iodine, melissa, geranium and peppermint. Applied locally ZymaDerm-2 can improve healing and kill off the local HSV flare up.

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