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Saturday, July 23, 2011

A Five-Pronged Approach to Chronic Joint Pain and Inflammation Part 2

1. Avocado Soy Unsaponifiables (ASU)

In order to understand what ASUs are (apologies to Arizona State University) and how they work, we need to make a minor detour and talk about aggrecan. In fact, this discussion should help tie together some of the supplements that you may already be familiar with. Aggrecan is the acronym for a small bio-chemical molecule called, oxymoronically, the large aggregating chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan. Specifically, an aggrecan molecule consists of a protein backbone which is attached to up to 150 chondroitin sulfate chains and 60 keratan sulfate chains. Aggrecan is abundant in the human body and represents up to 10% of the dry weight of cartilage -- keeping in mind that's quite substantial since articular cartilage (the cartilage found at the end of long bones) contains up to 75% water. As many as 100 of these aggrecan monomers will then interact with hyaluronic acid molecules to form a single massive chain called an aggregate, which is a key component of joint cartilage.
Aggrecan plays a crucial role in the functioning of articular cartilage (the cartilage found in joints), primarily working to maintain high levels of hydration in the cartilage -- thereby keeping the cartilage healthy and functional. As a side note, it is the presence in aggrecan of large numbers of chondroitin sulfate chains that is primarily responsible for the osmotic pressure that results in articular cartilage being 75% water.
When at rest, such as sitting down and watching TV, the osmotic swelling in the articular cartilage is at a maximum. However, when walking or standing, the weight of the body is transferred to the articular cartilage found at the ends of the long bones. At this point, your weight compresses the cartilage, literally squeezing water out of it. This continues until the osmotic swelling generates a force equal to the compressive force on the cartilage generated by your weight. When you sit down again (reducing the load), the compressive force is removed, and the cartilage once again swells to its full extent. The more aggrecan present, the better able your body is to perform this function. Note: the reason people supplement with chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine sulfate is actually to increase aggrecan levels. They are components of aggrecan, and it is aggrecan that lies at the core of cartilage health. But as it turns out, there may be a more efficient way to increase aggrecan levels.
Bottom line: maintaining high levels of aggrecan is essential for optimizing joint health. (As a side note, aggrecan plays a major role in brain and spinal cord development and function too.)

A French Discovery on Osteoarthritis

Several years ago, researchers from the University Hospital in Liege, Belgium reported in the August 2003 issue of The Journal of Rheumatology that a phytosterol/sterolin extract concentrated from the oils found tightly bound to avocado and soybean fibers could significantly boost production of aggrecan, thereby helping slow down and even repair some of the damage caused by osteoarthritis -- in as little as nine days.
It should be noted that although eating avocado and soybean oil separately does indeed enhance aggrecan production (somewhat); it is only these special compounds found in ASU extract (made up of one-third avocado and two-thirds soybean unsaponifiables) that restore aggrecan synthesis blocked by the inflammation-causing compound interleukin-1-beta. In addition, ASUs also reduce levels of several other inflammatory factors such as MMP-3 production. In other words, ASU is not the same as avocado and soy oil. It is specially extracted from the fiber of avocados and soy. The problem is that before extraction, the ASUs are so tightly bound to the fiber, that they are mostly unusable by the human body.
ASU has been sold in Europe in a purified form for several years now as a prescription drug. As such, it has a number of studies supporting its effectiveness. For example, in a double-blind trial, 260 individuals with arthritis of the knee were given either a placebo or purified ASU at 300 or 600 mg daily. The results over 3 months showed that use of ASU significantly improved arthritis symptoms when compared to a placebo.

What It Means for Arthritis

If you've tried Chondroitin sulfate, Glucosamine sulfate, MSM, CMO, whatever, and none of them have worked for you, then ASUs offer an exciting alternative.


To make room for the two new ingredients, I had to pull out some of the ASU. Previously, I included 1000 mg a day of ASU in the formula. This was approximately three times more than anyone else used in their ASU products, and it definitely improved the effectiveness of the formula -- not so much in helping with joint pain, but in its ability to help protect against periodontal disease. In the end, though, the primary purpose of this formula is to help with joint pain, so I decided to drop the ASU down to the commonly used level of 333 mg a day, which allowed me room to add the CMO and 5-Loxin® -- thereby significantly increasing the efficacy of the formula when it comes to joint pain with only a small loss in periodontal benefit.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Drug-Related Suicide Attempts in Men

Suicide is a major problem in the Untied States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, it was the tenth leading cause of death in 2007, accounting for nearly 35,000 deaths. And it is estimated that there are 11 attempted suicides for each suicide death.

Now, things just seem to be getting worse. A new study has determined that there was a 55 percent increase in emergency room hospital visits for prescription drug-related suicide attempts in men between the ages of 21 and 34 from 2005 to 2009.1 Perhaps not shocking, given the ever increasing numbers of people on prescription medications and the suicidal ideations sometimes related to them, it is nevertheless upsetting that this preventable problem is so big and escalating.

The research, which took place through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Rockville, Maryland, compared the data across four years. In 2005, 19,024 ER visits took place due to drug-related suicide attempts among 21- to 34-year-old men. In 2009 -- a mere four years later -- that number rocketed to 29,407. Overall, there were 77,971 trips to the ER for drug-related suicide attempts in men of any age. So these 21 to 34 year olds were a large proportion of them, accounting for well over one third of the visits.

The largest increase was shown to come from men taking antidepressants, which rose a whopping 155 percent among men 21 to 34. But those taking anti-anxiety or insomnia medications didn't fare much better: their ER visits for suicide attempts grew by 93.4 percent.

In older age groups of men, the most significant problem appears to arise from narcotic pain relievers. Men between the ages of 35 and 49 taking these meds had almost twice as many ER visits for suicide attempts in 2009 as they did in 2005. And in men 50 and older, the number nearly tripled in that time frame. The researchers were also very clear to draw a distinction in all of these cases between unintentional overdoses and actual suicide attempts in which the medication was a major factor or the cause of the attempt.

The study outlines the increasing toll our society is paying for overuse of prescription medications. And it's not just men who are being dosed up pharmaceutically. Since 1996, adult prescriptions for mental illness have risen by 73 percent, and prescriptions for children went up by 50 percent. Among seniors over the age of 65, psychiatric drug prescriptions have doubled. In fact, one in every 10 adults has a mental health prescription (including ADHD medications, antipdepressants, Alzheimer's drugs, and antipsychotics), and one out of every 20 kids.

To what effect are we putting so many people on these mental modulators? If the drugs actually worked, there might be some excuse for occasional excess. But in fact, a study in 2008, published in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine, found that antidepressants work no better than placebos for most patients with mild or even severe depression. Another study published in 2008 found that inexpensive magnets work at least as well as meds in treating depression.

And yes, there may indeed be a place for psychotropic medications. But given the potentially serious side effects (especially this new information on drug-related suicide attempts), the cost, the fact that they don't necessarily work very well, and the fact that there are other methods that might achieve the same results without the health risks -- particularly for mild anxiety and depression -- psychiatric drugs should probably be considered a last-resort measure and only for truly serious mental health disorders. In an ideal world, the results of this research would lead doctors to cut back on prescribing so much medication and hopefully that would keep tragic visits to hospital emergency rooms down and lower the suicide rates for everyone.

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity is: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Considering that over the past several decades psychiatrists have been prescribing ever greater amounts of psychotropic medication and yet society keeps getting more stressed, more depressed, and more suicidal -- doesn't that qualify as insane behavior? Or to put it another way: aren't the inmates truly running our asylums now?

1 undefined. "The DAWN Report." Dawn Drug Abuse Warning Network. 16 June 2011. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 30 June 2011. . --

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Five-Pronged Natural Approach For Chronic Joint Pain & Inflammation -- Anti-Aging Barron Report

A Five-Pronged Natural Approach For Chronic Joint Pain & Inflammation -- Anti-Aging Barron Report

A Five-Pronged Approach to Chronic Joint Pain and Inflammation

Joint pain is an interesting animal. Everyone has it at some point. For many people, it's only an occasional problem -- easily taken care of by a single aspirin or some Ben Gay (or buy someEssential Relief for that matter). For others, though, it's a chronic problem, reducing them to a lifetime of dependency on high doses of NSAIDS or prescription drugs.

Over the years, I've formulated and recommended a number of products for pain. Years ago, before they were all the rage, I recommended Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate. Also, over the years, I've recommended CMO (cetyl myristoleate), MSM, Fish oil, Boswellia, and Proteolytic Enzymes, among others.

Why so many things?

Because no one solution works for everyone! That's so important, I'm going to repeat it one more time. No one solution works for everyone!

Glucosamine and Chondroitin

I don't care what advertising statements you've read or how hard someone has tried to sell you a magic bullet, no one formula works for everyone. Each person is unique. Their bodies are different. And the causes of joint pain and cartilage destruction are varied.

If Glucosamine and Chondroitin already work for you, then this report is not for you (necessarily). If CMO does the trick, same thing. If you're happy with Proteolytic Enzymes or Essential Relief, this probably is not for you (most likely). But if they haven't worked, or if you still suffer from chronic pain, and the only help you've been able to find is from daily doses of aspirin or prescription drugs, or if you're concerned about more than just the pain issue and are looking to prevent further degradation of your joints, then read on.

Updating a Formula

Messing with a successful formula is always a risky proposition, but so is thinking that good enough is good enough.

Back in 2005, I developed a formula which incorporated some extraordinary new research on natural pain relievers -- 3 substances that not only relieved pain, swelling, and stiffness, but that when used in combination also helped rebuild damaged joints and tissue.

This formula offered a three pronged approach to systemically relieving chronic joint pain and inflammation.

  1. It incorporated ASU to increase aggrecan levels, thereby helping to repair and rebuild damaged cartilage in the weight bearing joints.
  2. It made use of the unique ability of the undenatured type II chicken collagen found in UC-II™ to train the body's immune system to stop attacking joint cartilage.
  3. And it made use of ginger's ability to directly reduce pain and inflammation.

This formula worked so well that even though it was not inexpensive, it became one of the best selling formulas at Baseline Nutritonals, and had one of their highest reorder rates. And on top of that, it not only was successful at relieving pain, it also turned out to be spectacular at protecting against periodontal disease. Which brings up the question: why mess with success?

The answer is that it only works for about 68% of the people who use it (keeping in mind that glucosamine and chondroitin only work for about 30% of the people who use them). Now economically, 68% is a huge hit for Baseline, but as a formulator, I obsess over the 30% who are being left behind. I realize that nothing will work for 100% of people, but what about 80-85% -- rates we see for formulas like Essential Relief pain oil?

Anyway, ever since the formula was released, I've been looking for ways to improve its rate of effectiveness. One of the problems, of course, with changing a formula is that there's only so much room in a capsule. If you put something new in, you have to take something old out to make room for it. The trick, then, is making sure that the trade off produces a more effective formula, not just a different formula; and after two years of constant experimentation, I've been able to do that with this formula. I've found a way to add two ingredients to the formula that early research indicates may produce an effectiveness rate approaching 80-85%. The two new ingredients are CMO (a special Omega-9 fatty acid variant) and 5-LOXIN® (a very special boswellia serrata extract).

With that in mind, let's look at the formula from top to bottom.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pew finds serious gaps in oversight of US drug safety

Americans' medicines are increasingly manufactured in developing countries, where oversight is lower than in the U.S., according to a new white paper by the Pew Health Group. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates 40 percent of finished drugs and 80 percent of active ingredients and bulk chemicals used in U.S. drugs come from overseas.

The white paper, After Heparin: Protecting Consumers from the Risks of Substandard and , finds that increased outsourcing of manufacturing, a complex and globalized  and criminal actors create the potential for counterfeit or substandard medicines to enter the supply chain and reach patients. For economic reasons, the migration of manufacturing abroad is likely to continue. At the same time, industry and government agencies have failed to adapt to the changing environment.
"Today's prescriptions are being produced under last century's oversight," said Allan Coukell, director of medical programs at the Pew Health Group. "Compared with a decade ago, pharmaceutical supply lines stretch around the world and out to a complex web of suppliers. Regulators and industry must modernize supervision of the manufacturing process to ensure the drugs we consume are safe. The After Heparin white paper indentifies links in the supply chain that government and business should strengthen," Coukell added.
Substandard or adulterated pharmaceutical materials from abroad have entered the U.S. on multiple occasions. In addition, the risks of domestic counterfeiting and diversion of stolen drugs are well documented. The white paper presents several case studies, including incidents involving heparin, a blood thinner adulterated during its manufacture in China, counterfeit vials of the anemia drug and stolen vials of insulin to illustrate the threats and suggest solutions.
After Heparin is based on public information, including FDA documents, U.S. (GAO) reports, congressional testimony, peer-reviewed journals and interviews with more than 50 supply chain experts and stakeholders. The findings and recommendations were discussed during a recent two-day convening on the white paper that included a diverse group of industry representatives, ranging from ingredient manufacturers to community pharmacists.