Metal + Oxygen = Rust
Have you ever seen rust? Have you been around the ocean or on a boat and observed what occurs to brass when it is exposed to the elements? These are visible examples of processes that are occurring in your body all of the time. We depend on oxygen for our survival, so thankfully we live in an oxygen-rich environment. But oxygen is a powerful molecule, capable of reacting with other molecules. Rust is a great visual example of oxidative damage that occurs as a result of an oxygen-metal reaction.
Oxygen is also a powerful reactant inside your body. While it is essential for health, it is also capable of disrupting cellular function and impairing efforts towards health by generating excessive amounts of oxygen radicals resulting in oxidative damage. Under ideal circumstances, your body would regulate the impact of oxygen; ensuring you receive maximum benefits without generating excessive amounts of unregulated oxygen free radicals.
Ultimately health has a great deal to do with balance. One of these points of balance is the relative activity of free radicals and antioxidants.
Free-Radicals and Antioxidants
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules. Because of their electron configuration (they are missing at least one electron), these molecules are unstable, and in effect, are in search of other substances from which they can literally steal an electron. Before you jump to the wrong conclusions and assume free radicals are bad (they are not necessarily) it is important to realize that your body actually depends of free radicals for some of its critical activities. As mentioned, it is more a question of balance and your body has many redundant methods for establishing an appropriate balance of free radical activity. Substances that fuel your body's capability of keeping free radical activity in check are called antioxidants.
A key element of health is the relative balance in your free radical (attacking forces) activity and your antioxidant (defending forces) capability. When these forces become unbalanced and free radical troops outnumber your antioxidant forces, health invariably suffers. Currently over 100 conditions have been identified that have associations with excessive free radical activity. In effect, the chronic and cumulative assault by excessive free radical troops, when antioxidant defenses are sub-optimal leads to degeneration and dysfunction. Some of the degenerative conditions associated with oxidative damage by free radicals include cancer, arteriosclerosis, viral infections, autoimmune disorders, lung disease, and neurological diseases. Even aging and death have been associated with the oxidative damage resulting from unchecked and cumulative over exposure to free radicals.
Antioxidant Defense Measures
Antioxidants are enzymes or substances that are capable of inhibiting the oxidation of target molecules. In other words, they act as an anti-rust mechanism. In general, antioxidants are divided into two categories: 1) those that have activity in water (like vitamin C), and 2) those that have activity in fat (like vitamin E and beta-carotene). Lipoic acid is an unusual nutrient because it has both water- and fat-soluble activity.
While this list is not intended to be all inclusive, some of the most well known substances with antioxidant activities include:
* Vitamins: C, E, and Beta-Carotene
* Minerals: Zinc, Selenium, Copper, and Manganese (these function as cofactors in antioxidant enzymes)
* Accessory Nutrients: CoQ10 and Lipoic Acid
* Herbs: Ginkgo biloba, Milk Thistle, Ginger, and Turmeric
* Foods: Blueberries, Cherries, and Yellow/Orange Vegetables.
* Beverages: Green Tea, Red Wine, and Coffee (depending upon brewing methods).
A good rule of thumb is that the more color a fruit, vegetable, or spice contains, the more likely it will have higher antioxidant activity. This is because the compounds that give color to fruits and vegetables (flavonoid and carotenoid compounds primarily) are excellent antioxidants.
A second important point is that culturing food with probiotic bacteria invariably increases and stabilizes its antioxidant activity. Because of this a food like miso would have greater antioxidant potential than would soybeans. Similarly culturing a fruit or vegetable acts to increase its antioxidant potential. This was part of the rationale for the design of the Probiotic products (consisting of selected cultured fruits, vegetables, and spices), and is an important extra benefit derived from the bio-grown, food-cultured nutrients utilized in the A, AB, and O Multiples.
A last important point is that antioxidants work synergistically. This means that if you double the amount of something like vitamin C you might not get double the antioxidant activity. In fact you might actually now run the risk of throwing something out of balance. It is important to understand that most antioxidants can themselves be prooxidant (or capable of generating oxidative damage) if they are not recycled or rejuvenated. It is a bit like taking trash to a Dumpster. If you just keep dumping trash, you run the risk of overflowing the Dumpster. However, if you recycle what can be recycled and ensure the dumpsters are emptied appropriately, your ability to handle the garbage you generate is substantially higher and incredibly more efficient.
The recycling of these antioxidant substances depends on other antioxidant substance. So rather than doubling the amount of vitamin C, if you add some vitamin E, blueberries, green tea, etc, you will have a much higher degree of antioxidant activity and you will be creating a better antioxidant recycling system. As an example of this synergy, research has shown that the combination of green tea and turmeric offer 8.5X the antioxidant activity when combined as compared to when they are used individually. Because of this inherent synergy of antioxidants, it is essential to consume a diet rich in antioxidant fruits, vegetables, and cultured foods. It also makes more sense to then appropriately supplement with levels of the other antioxidant compounds to round out a good diet, rather than simply taking high amounts of one to several of these antioxidant compounds.
Factors Influencing Antioxidant Defenses
Your ability to respond to free radical assault is determined by many factors. Age, genetic background, medical history, degree of exposure to pollution, cigarette smoking, level of stress, and diet are among the most important of these factors. Even a beneficial lifestyle habit like exercise can influence your need for increased antioxidant defenses. Exercise tends to generate free radicals and so an increase in activity level mandates closer attention to the balance of your antioxidant defenses.
Monitoring the Balance between Free Radical Forces and Antioxidant Troops
While a variety of lab tests can provide an indication of the relative balance between these opposing forces, the simplest and most cost-effective test currently available utilizes a urine sample. By placing several drops of urine in a specially designed ampoule and watching the change (if any) of color, you can receive a rapid estimate of the balance between these forces.
This test can be run as often as desired and is a great tool to assist you in determining the effectiveness of your diet, lifestyle, and supplementation choices at maintaining an adequate balance between free radical attack and antioxidant defenses.
Note: Blood type specific suggestions for improving your antioxidant defense mechanisms (as well as lessening the free radical attack) are provided within the test kit.
by Gregory Kelly
What is Cyanocobalamin?
Cyanocobalamin is the most commonly supplemented form of vitamin B12, but you might be surprised to discover that this form of vitamin B12 does not actually occur in plants or animal tissues. In other words, outside of the chemically synthesized cyanocobalamin that you encounter as B12 in most vitamin supplements, you would be extremely hard pressed to find this compound in nature (in fact you would not be able to find it). As the name implies, cyanocobalamin contains a cyanide molecule. Most people are familiar with cyanide as a poisonous substance. Although the amount of cyanide in a normal B12 supplement is small and from a toxicology point, viewed as insignificant, your body will still need to remove and eliminate this compound. This removal is accomplished through your detoxification systems with substances like glutathione being very important for the elimination of the cyanide.
The Coenzyme Forms of B12
Another available form of B12 that offers significant advantages over cyanocobalamin is called methylcobalamin This form of B12 is called a coenzyme form of B12 and is believed to be a much more active form of the vitamin. In addition to the methylcobalamin coenzyme form, B12 is also available in another coenzyme form, which is most commonly called "adenosylcobalamin". The adenosylcobalamin form of B12 is also occasionally called cobamamide or dibencozide. Although methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin are both considered to be active forms of B12, they do appear to offer slightly different health advantages. We will discuss those; however, before beginning this discussion it is important to make a distinction between an enzyme and a vitamin, so that you will be able to appreciate the advantage that coenzyme forms of vitamins can offer.
What's the Difference between a Vitamin and an Enzyme?
Most people assume that a vitamin has some type of special activity or unique and important function in the body. In essence, there is a degree of correctness and a degree of incorrectness to this basic assumption. The truth is that a vitamin is nothing more than a component of one or several enzymes. And, enzymes are what are important for generating the chemical reactions you need for good health. To the degree a vitamin that you consume in a supplement can be converted into or plugged into an enzyme, the basic assumption will be correct and a vitamin will be able to fulfill its actions in support of your health.
Let's use a metaphor here to try and make this clear. We will resort to a car metaphor since most of you will have a great degree of familiarity with the car and its various parts. Let's pretend that one of the enzymes needed for function of this car is the ignition system. Without the ignition system catalyzing the reaction we call "starting the car", the car has much less usefulness. Enzymes in your body are similar; they are needed to jump-start the various reactions you need to allow for good usefulness of all of your various capabilities and systems.
Now in our car model, if this particular enzyme were the ignition system, what would the vitamin part be? Probably the best way to think of the vitamin would be as the key to the ignition system. Obviously the key is a very important part of the ignition system. However, how valuable is the key without an ignition system? Not very useful actually. In fact, you can have a surplus of keys, but if there is no ignition system, or if part of the ignition system is missing, or if the key is not placed correctly into the ignition system, these keys are in effect utterly useless. Vitamins are very similar to this. If they are not plugged into the enzyme correctly, you can have an abundance or surplus of the vitamin, and you still will not have appropriate function.
There is another level of complexity with respect to vitamins that is also never discussed. Did you know that the common forms of vitamins used in the majority of supplements are actually a far cry from the compound that will eventually be plugged into the enzyme? In other words, the vitamins that you take in a pill have to be processed inside your body (usually in many different steps) to turn the vitamin into something your body recognizes and can then plug into the enzyme. Another way to state this is that your body has to do a bunch of work on most vitamins in order to get any benefit from them. And just as in any other type of work, more different steps from start to finish of a process will create many more opportunities for mistakes to occur.
Let's return to our car metaphor for a moment. In this example, the vitamins that you consume as supplements can best be thought of as a blank key that has not been cut to fit the ignition system. Granted it is the building block for what you will need, but until someone cuts the appropriate grooves and indentations so that it will fit your ignition, it will be unable to catalyze the reaction called "starting the car". Having blank keys available is important, but having a key that fits and is inserted correctly into your ignition system is what is really important. In the automobile world, a locksmith can cut the appropriate grooves and indentations into the key so that it will fit your cars ignition system. In your body, the absorption and transformation processes that occur in your intestines and liver, act as this locksmith.
Some of the many factors that can limit the ability to take a vitamin and turn it into an enzyme include genetic metabolic errors, aging, nutritional inadequacies of other important vitamins and minerals, enzyme defects, disease states (especially of the liver, kidneys or with digestion and absorption), and pathological changes to tissues. In all of these circumstances you can have many blank keys available, but the locksmith just cannot perform the job of cutting the keys and putting them into the ignition correctly.
You might be wondering about food.... what does food have in it? Well, in this metaphor, food contains the complete ignition system with the perfectly fitted key already inserted in the ignition system. In other words food contains vitamins already in the form needed for the enzyme to work and already appropriately placed into the enzyme. Obviously this is an advantage when compared to just having a blank key.
The other option for vitamin supplementation is to supplement with coenzyme forms of vitamins. A coenzyme form of the vitamin means the key (or vitamin) has already been cut to fit the ignition perfectly, so it bypasses the need for the locksmith. Vitamin B12 offers two such coenzyme forms, methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin.
Methylcobalamin and Adenosylcobalamin: Active B12's
Compared with cyanocobalamin, it appears that both methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin are better absorbed and retained in higher amounts within your tissues. In simple terms, they are used much more effectively. In general, methylcobalamin is used primarily in your liver, brain and nervous system, while adenosylcobalamin is used mostly in the liver and for hemoglobin (blood cell) production
One of the classic indications of B12 deficiency is a specialized form of anemia called macrocytic anemia. This usually shows up on a lab test as an increased mean corpuscular volume (in other words your blood cells are a bit larger than they should be). While iron is often the only thing given for anemia, this form of anemia usually has nothing to do with a lack of iron. B12 and folic acid are the nutrients you would need, but you need them to be plugged into enzymes. Because of this, the active forms of B12 are often much more effective. Even with other forms of anemia, it is usually much more effective to combine iron supplementation with folic acid + either or both of the active forms of vitamin B12.
In animals, a significant body of experimental evidence suggests that a deficiency of vitamin B12 can enhance the activity of various carcinogens. Animal experiments have also demonstrated that both methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin increase survival time and reduce tumor growth in some forms of cancer. Amazingly, methylcobalamin has also been shown to enhance the effectiveness of methotrexate, a drug sometimes used in the treatment of cancer. The active forms of B12 also appear to be very important in supporting proper immune system health. While this information should not be presumed to apply to human cancer, and their is currently no available evidence indicating that any form of vitamin B12 has any benefit in preventing or treating cancer, it certainly seems that this nutrient would be worthy of some future research.
Methylcobalamin is the specific form of B12 needed for nervous system health. Because of this it should be the first form of this vitamin thought of when interested in attempting to optimize the health of the nervous system with vitamin supplementation. Indications of a potential deficiency of B12 in the nervous system might include numbness, tingling, loss of feeling sensation, burning sensations, muscle cramps, nerve pain and slowness of reflexes.
The relative balance of the nervous system is also of critical importance in your overall sense of health and well being. In essence we have a fight or flight nervous system and a relaxation nervous system. Methylcobalamin has been shown to be an important vitamin in helping to establish and maintain an appropriate balance between these two opposing nervous systems.
Because of methylcobalamin's importance in nervous system health, it is also an important nutrient for vision. In fact, continued visual work (like work on a computer) often leads to a reduction in something called "visual accommodation". Methylcobalamin can significantly improve visual accommodation, while cyanocobalamin appears to be ineffective.
An elevated level of homocysteine is a metabolic indication of decreased levels of the coenzyme forms of vitamin B12, especially methylcobalamin. Homocysteine has received a tremendous amount of emphasis in the scientific literature because of its associations with heart disease and a variety of other specific health conditions. I have even seen advertisements on television promoting folic acid, as a vitamin needed to lower homocysteine. While this is true, and folic acid does lower homocysteine levels, the combination of methylcobalamin and folic acid appears to work much better.
In people with liver disease, although high blood levels of vitamin B12 are common, it is not unusual to actually have a correspondingly low liver tissue concentration of vitamin B12 and its enzymes. In effect your locksmith can't make keys anymore so the functions that depend on a complete and working B12 enzymes often suffer. Because of this, methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin should be the forms of B12 used under these circumstances. In fact, even under normal circumstances, the active forms of B12 help the liver function much more efficiently. Liver detoxification and antioxidant systems work much more effectively when methylcobalamin and adenosylcobalamin are supplied (as opposed to cyanocobalamin). Since our livers tend to be over worked due to the varieties of pollution and other environmental factors we are exposed to, these active forms of B12 can be valuable forms of additional nutritional support for the liver.
The most well studied use of methylcobalamin has to do with sleep. Although the exact mechanism of action is not yet clear, it is possible that methylcobalamin is needed for the synthesis of melatonin. Available information indicates that methylcobalamin can modulate melatonin secretion, enhance light-sensitivity, and normalize circadian rhythm (your 24-hour clock). Because of this, individuals supplementing this form of B12 often have improved quality of sleep, often will require slightly less sleep, and will not uncommonly report that they feel a bit more refreshed when waking in the morning. Methylcobalamin is particularly effective when your 24-hour clock is not running smoothly. This may be indicated by a need for excessive sleep, changing sleep-wake cycles, or a tendency to have altered sleep wake patterns. As examples, you might require 10-12 hours of sleep, or you might not feel tired until 2-3 am and you might wake at noon, or you might find that you wake a bit later every day and go to be a bit later every night. Under all of these circumstances the combination of methylcobalamin (about 3000 mcg daily) and exposure to bright light in the morning can help reestablish your 24-hour clock.
Because of methylcobalamin's impact on 24-hour clock and the cycles that feed of this, it is also an important vitamin to regulate your 24-hour release of the stress hormone cortisol. This seems to be particularly important for blood types A and AB. Methylcobalamin also seems to result in a better 24-hour maintenance of body temperature. Typically individuals supplementing this coenzyme form of B12 have higher temperatures in the later hours of the daytime. This usually corresponds with improved alertness at the same time of the day. While this can be of importance to all blood types, low body temperatures seems to be an area of greater challenge for A's and B's.
The appropriate dose of the coenzyme forms can vary, but a dose of between 1000-2000 mcg daily is usually adequate. If attempting to influence sleep cycles or your 24-hour clock a higher dose of methylcobalamin (3000 mcg daily) is usually a more prudent starting point. Both of these forms of B12 are considered to be exceptionally safe and can be used by all blood types.
Rhodiola rosea (Russian Rhodiola) This is a perennial plant with red, pink, or yellowish flowers. It is no biological relation to the "common" rose, but due to its similar fragrance it has been used as a substitute for Attar of Roses. One of the greatest things Rhodiola does is enhance mental and physical performance. It has been widely used by Russian athletes and cosmonauts to increase energy. Rhodiola is cardio-protective, normalising the heart rate immediately after intense exercise. It improves nervous system and mental functions such as memory by increasing blood-supply to the muscles and brain, and also increases protein synthesis, (1,2,3).
Rhodiola rosea has extraordinary pharmacological properties as an anti-mutagen and anti-depressive agent. In this respect Rhodiola rosea is much more powerful than other adaptogens. In one study done by O.M. Duhan and colleagues (4), the anti-mutagenic activities of Panax Ginseng and of Rhodiola rosea were compared It appeared that the extracts of Rhodiola rosea had the higher capacity to counteract gene mutations induced by various mutagens (up to about 90% inhibition in some cases). The anti-depressive and anti-stress activity of Golden root is higher than that of St. John's Wort, Ginkgo biloba and Panax Ginseng. Furthermore, Rhodiola rosea is five times less toxic than Panax ginseng. In experiment on rats with Pliss lymphosarcoma (PLS) it was shown (5) that partial hepatectomy, a course application of Rhodiola rosea extract or combined effects inhibit the growth of tumours by 37%, 39% and 59%, respectively, and that of metastases by 42%, 50% and 75%.
In one human study (6) oral administration of Rhodiola rosea extract to 12 patents with superficial bladder carcinoma (T1G1-2) improved the characteristics of the urothelial tissue integration, parameters of leukocyte integrins and T-cell immunity. The average frequency of relapses for these patients was found to fall twice. In another clinical trial 150 individuals suffering from depression took Rhodiola rosea extracts for a period of one month. At the end of that period two-thirds of them had full remission of clinical manifestations of depression, and had become more active and more sociable. Daytime weakness and general weakness disappeared.
Rhodiola rosea extracts reduce significantly the yield of cells with the chromosome aberrations in vivo and inhibit unscheduled DNA synthesis induced by N-nitroso-N-methylurea in vitro (7). It is emphasised that Rhodiola rosea extracts have rejuvenative properties due to their ability to raise the efficiency of the intracell DNA repair mechanisms.
Probably the best reason to use Rhodiola (an a real Achille's heel for group O individuals) is the ability of the plant to help clear excess catecholamines, such as adrenaline and nor-adrenaline. From Live Right 4 Your Type, you may remember that group O blood is associated with tendencies to over accumulate adrenaline by excess conversion of their dopamine. In addition to the excess levels, group O is associated with a lowered ability to clear catecholamines once made. (1) Upon my advice NAP has added 100mg per capsule of pure Russian Rhodiola to their already very effective Catechol formula. If you thought Catechol was already pretty effective, I'm sure you will be delighted with the results of the added Rhodiola.
1 Maslova L.V. et al. (1994) "The cardioprotective and antiadrenergic activity of an extract of Rhodiola rosea in stress" Eksp Klin Farmakol 57(6): 61-6
2. Germano, C. et al. (1999) "Arctic root. The powerful new ginseng alternative" Kensington Publ.Corp.
3. Petkov, V.D. et. al. (1986) "Effects of alcohol aqueous extract from Rhodiola rosea L. roots on learning and memory" Acta Physiol Pharmacol Bulg 12(1): 3-16
4. Duhan, O.M. et al. (1999) "The antimutagenic activity of biomass extracts from the cultured cells of medicinal plants in the Ames test" Tsitol Genet Nov-Dec 33(6): 19-25
5. Udintsev SN; et.al. (1991) "The role of humoral factors of regenerating liver in the development of experimental tumours and the effect of Rhodiola rosea extract on this process" Neoplasma;38(3): 323-31
6. Bocharova OA et.al. (1995) "The effect of a Rhodiola rosea extract on the incidence of recurrences of a superficial bladder cancer (experimental clinical research)" Urol Nefrol (Mosk) Mar-Apr (2): 46-7
7. Salikhova RA et.al. (1997) "Effect of Rhodiola rosea on the yield of mutation alteration and DNA repair in bone marrow cells". Patol Fiziol Exsp Ter Oct-Dec (4) : 22-4
8. Linh PT et.al. (2000) "Quantitative determination of salidroside and thyrosol from the underground part of Rhodiola rosea by high performance liquid chromatography" Arch Pharm Res Aug 23(4): 349-52
by Gregory Kelly
"I have found Collinsonia (stoneroot) to be of great reliability in assisting to stabilize the lining on the sinus cavities and to minimize the build-up of excess mucus in the sinus cavities, throat, and stomach." --- Peter J. D'Adamo, N.D.
"Remember it in any wrong of the venous capillary system". --- Lloyd's Bulletin
Collinsonia or "stone root" (other common names have included knob root, horse balm, and richweed) has traditionally been employed for passive venous congestion or engorgement. It was historically described as astringent, alterative, diuretic, tonic, etc., none of which give a very clear idea of its effects. A more apt description of its actions in old herbal texts often emphasizes its ability to overcome undue congestion with accompanying pain, irritation, and a sense of stagnation, whether it is within the rectum, pharynx (throat), or other vascular area. In the Merck Index its active principles are listed as resins, saponins, tannins, and mucilage.
Collinsonia was also used historically as a tonic and as an antispasmodic (essentially something to relax smooth muscle tissue). Comments in old herbal texts refer to its ability to relax painful constrictions and spasms of the rectum. As such it was often used in the past for fistulas, ulcers, and fissures. It had a similar reputation for relaxing activity on urinary organs, where it was thought to relax the ureter, and therefore increasing urination, reducing irritability of the bladder, and assisting with the passage of kidney stones.
Another often mentioned use of collinsonia is its ability to counteract the build-up gastric catarrh. This word has fallen out of common use, even within the medical profession, but implies inflammation of a mucus membrane resulting in an increased production of mucus.
Collinsonia's two most common historical applications were for "preacher's throat" and hemorrhoids. Preacher's throat is best thought of as the irritation, dryness, or scratchiness to the throat that develops as a result of overuse. Hence the idea of the preacher who was constantly delivering a sermon and had chronic problems with sore throat or an irritated sensation from overuse of his voice box. I think its reputation in this area is well deserved.
I routinely give presentations and occasionally have been on marathon speaking engagements. Last spring, for example, I gave a 3 hour presentation for the Learning Annex in New York City on a Thursday night. On Friday morning I flew to San Diego and gave 2 presentations at health food stores on Friday, and 2 more on Saturday; all sandwiched around a presentation on herbs at a local botanical garden. Collinsonia has repeatedly helped me when my throat has become irritated from this type of overuse. Whether this is a placebo effect or not, I honestly could not tell you. However, it has been quite reliable in this area for me, and for patients who have tried it for similar situations.
Its use in hemorrhoids seems to also be well worth a try. This has without question been its primary use among herbalists and naturopaths. Hemorrhoids can be a result of several different factors. Generally, we hear that they are a result of straining too hard to defecate, constipation or from low fiber diets and the subsequently harder stools. Other explanations for hemorrhoids include a weakness and irritation in venous tissue and liver congestion (causing increased pressure through the portal veins). In Boericke’s Materia Medica, collinsonia is listed as having an ability quite specific to all of these functional derangements. Do not expect this plant to cure you of hemorrhoids overnight; it won't. However, it does offer the possibility of relief if used regularly for a prolonged period of time.
The first mention of collinsonia's use for some functional problems of the sinus that I ran across was in Eat Right 4 Your Type, which gives some idea of the depth of Dr. D'Adamo's herbal knowledge. However, in old herbal Materia Medica’s, collinsonia is invariably mentioned as being useful for nasal catarrh and dull frontal headaches (especially in people who have or have had hemorrhoids). These common complaints are now invariably lumped into a category called sinusitis (or inflammation of the sinus cavities).
Before we discuss under what circumstances you might want to try this herb for sinus health, let's discuss when it is not going to be of much help. When you have an acute sinus infection, collinsonia should not be regarded as a reliable option to replace either conventional medicines (such as antibiotics) or more aggressive alternative remedies. This plant simply does not have any known anti-microbial or anti-bacterial activity. This is not to say that it has no activity against these organisms; but this area has never been studied and is not part of the plant's historical use. If collinsonia does have any anti-bacterial activity it is likely to be too weak to be of adequate help for an acute infection.
So when might it be useful. Dr. D'Adamo frequently refers to some forms of chronic sinus discomfort as "hemorrhoids of the head". What he is implying is that the lining of the sinus cavities is made from similar material as the lining of your venous system, and just like with a hemorrhoid, this tissue has become inflamed or irritated. So this gives one possible clue to its use. When there is a sense of pressure, congestion, or a generalized inflammation in the area of your sinuses (with or without excess mucus production), collinsonia used regularly will often bring about a subjective sense of improvement.
Even if your sinus concerns just center around a chronic complaint of post-nasal drip, or excess mucus production (without pressure or dull headaches), collinsonia will often be quite useful. Another factor to consider and to place attention on for this type of sinus complaint would certainly be your diet; with strict avoidance of the foods mentioned in ER4YT being a great strategy.
There is one other hygienic practice you might want to consider for this type of recurring problem with sinus congestion or mucus build-up. This is the use of shea butter (a wax-like fat from a seed of an African tree) applied topically in the lining of your nasal cavity. This will often also be helpful to sooth irritated tissue, and reduce build-up of mucus or congestion.
Boericke W. Materia Medica with Repertory. 9th ed. (originally published in 1927) Boericke and Tafel, Inc., Santa Rosa, CA.
D’Adamo P, Whitney C. Eat Right 4 Your Type. 1996 G. P. Putnam and Sons, New York, NY.
Ellingwood F. American Materia Medica, Therapeutics and Pharmacognosy. 1919 Ellingwood’s Therapeutist, Evanston, IL.
Budavari S, ed. Merck Index. 1989 Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway, NJ.
copyright 1999 North American Pharmacal. All Rights Reserved.
by Gregory Kelly
I went to lunch yesterday at a local health food store (they make great soup) and while I was walking through the supplement section I noticed an attractive floor display. But what really grabbed my attention about this particular display was that it contained a "new" immune-boosting product called "Larch Arabinogalactan." It makes me smile to see this product getting attention in the natural foods industry, because this product is far from new to Naturopathic Physicians. Ultimately the reason Naturopaths are so familiar with this compound, and probably the lion's share of the reason it now graces the shelves of health food stores can be traced to one individual—Peter D'Adamo, N.D.
The historical story of "Larch Arabinogalactan," as I have heard it, is actually quite interesting, so I will share parts of it with you. Arabinogalactan is a specific polysaccharide, and polysaccharides interact with blood type. So, it is not surprising to discover that Dr. D'Adamo has had a passionate interest in polysaccharide research for more than a decade. Because of this interest, years ago now, Dr. D'Adamo was scanning research articles and came across a Japanese study (written in Japanese) which just happened to have several words written in English..."Echinacea" and "Arabinogalactan." This ignited the spark that would eventually lead to his use of this product.
While information on the health benefits of Arabinogalactan were non-existent to scarce at this point in time, the connection with Echinacea led Dr. D'Adamo to ponder whether it might have immune benefiting effects. However, a source of concentrated arabinogalactans was not as easy to find 8-10 years ago as it is today. His search for a source of Arabinogalactan eventually led him to the lumber industry. The larch tree, as it turns out, is a rich source of this polysaccharide. But up until this point in time, it had been regarded solely as a fiber. Before long, 50-100 pound bags of bulk "Larch Arabinogalactan" began to show up at the D'Adamo Clinic in Greenwich, CT. Dr. D’Adamo’s research of this natural product now moved into full swing. In fact, patients will still tell you stories about the plastic baggies filled with a "fluffy, white powder" and how this product helped them.
By the time I was in naturopathic school, Dr. D'Adamo had introduced the use of this product into Naturopathic Medicine. Before I had graduated, he had published his first review article on the health benefits of Larch Arabinogalactan. The rest, as they say, is history.
So, from its rather inauspicious beginnings—as an underutilized leftover from the logging industry—to one man's curiosity—Larch Arabinogalactan has now arrived as an emerging new darling of the natural foods industry.
So let's learn a bit more about this natural product. As I have said, arabinogalactans are a class of polysaccharides found in a wide range of plants; however, they are most abundant in plants of the genus Larix (larch tree is Larix occidentalis). High-grade or nutraceutical-grade Larch Arabinogalactan (the grade typically utilized for supplements) is composed of greater than 98% arabinogalactan. As produced, Larch Arabinogalactan is a dry, free-flowing powder, with a very slight pine-like odor and sweetish taste. It is 100% water-soluble and produces low viscosity solutions. Because of its excellent solubility and mild taste, the powder mixes readily in water and juices and is easily administered (even to children).
The longest recognized use of Larch Arabinogalactan is probably as a source of dietary fiber. It has been shown to increase the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA's), principally butyrate and proprionate. These special fatty acids are critically important for the health of the colon. In fact, having an adequate supply of SCFA's is thought to make colon cells more resistant to both tumor promotion and a variety of intestinal disease.
Larch Arabinogalactan also acts as a food supply for friendly bacteria. The term used to describe this action is "prebiotic." The most well known prebiotic substance is "fructooligosaccharides" or "FOS." Larch Arabinogalactan acts in the same manner as FOS in humans. In effect, when we consume Larch Arabinogalactan, we are rewarded by this significant positive effect on our gut microfloral balance. Specifically, this fiber acts to increase good bacteria like bifidobacteria and lactobacillus, while decreasing bad bacteria. Since these friendly bacteria are critically important for the health of our digestive and immune systems, detoxification and hormone regulating capabilities, and nutrient formation and absorption; the growth promoting effects of Larch Arabinogalactan on these organisms alone makes it a valuable addition to our diet.
While Larch Arabinogalactan has a huge impact on digestive health, it has received even more attention for its ability to promote the health of our immune system. It was this possibility that first drew Dr. D'Adamo's curiosity.
The immune system is a very complex system. A healthy immune system is, in many respects, the core of prevention or resistance against disease. While it might be easy to assume that, with respect to immune system function or response, "more is better"...this is not always the case. In fact, like most things in life, your immune system's performance is more about an "appropriate" response, than it is about simply an "increased" response. Many chronic health challenges are predictably associated with some parts of your immune system "under-achieving"; however, it is just as common in these same circumstances to have other parts of the immune system "over-achieving." So, in simple terms, immune system health is all about "balance."
Substances, which promote a balanced response to stress, are called "adaptogens." Larch Arabinogalactan appears to act as an "adaptogenic" agent on your immune system...lifting up weak aspects and balancing down over-achieving aspects. So, while this supplement is currently primarily thought of as something to improve or stimulate immune system activity, it would be more appropriately described as a substance with an ability to build a more responsive immune system...or in effect, an immune system that is better able to function in a balanced and appropriate manner in the face of the challenges we face today.
Safety and dosage
Larch Arabinogalactan is FDA approved for use in food applications. Toxicity tests in animals indicates that Larch Arabinogalactan is significantly less toxic than methylcellulose (one of the most commonly supplemented fibers). Clinical feedback suggests an occasional reaction of bloating and flatulence in less than 3 percent of individuals (most often women). This side effect is probably secondary to the effect Larch Arabinogalactan has on beneficially altering gut microflora and will often disappear after several days to 1 week.
As an addition to the diet, the usual dose is 1-3 grams daily (1000-3000 mg). However, much larger amounts can be taken if desired (up to 2-3 tablespoons daily). Larch Arabinogalactan is available in powder, capsules, and tablets from various supplement companies. Since it mixes very well with juice or water, and is more cost-effective as a powder as compared to capsules or tablets, I usually use the powder form. However, its effectiveness is similar whether taken as powder, capsule or tablet.
ARA6 available from the ABO Friendly Products Page.