Garlic: Good for Your Heart!

Garlic: Good for Your Heart!

It may not smell like a lily, but Garlic (Allium sativum) is an edible bulb from the lily family. Fondly known to herbalists as “the stinking rose”, for centuries, there has been many traditional medicine uses for Garlic, including treatment of skin conditions, immune support, antimicrobial and, to reduce risk for cancer and heart disease. In fact, Garlic is one of the most widely studied herbal supplements for its beneficial effects on the heart.

The benefits of garlic are far ranging. Garlic contains several vitamins and minerals that support heart health, including vitamin B6, vitamin C, manganese, and selenium. But it’s the chemicals that give garlic its pungent odor that scientists believe are the source of the herb’s heart health-promoting effects. Garlic is rich in the antioxidant compounds (allicin, alliin, and ajoene) that help reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Studies on garlic and the cardiovascular system typically use garlic powder, oil, or aged extracts. To date, the effects of garlic on the heart that are supported by science include:

Slows the development of atherosclerosis (building the plaques that cause narrowing of the arteries)

Reduces blood pressure

Reduces triglycerides and therefore lowers total cholesterol

The amount of active compounds supplied by garlic supplements can vary because allicin is fragile to things such as air and heat. For example, aging garlic to reduce its odor also reduces the allicin present and compromises the effectiveness of the product. Adding to your diet 1-2 cloves of fresh garlic per day may be sufficient to protect your cardio-vascular system. Easiest way to do it is to blend it with your morning shake and rip full benefits of food based nutrients. To prevent garlic smell adds cilantro or parsley to the blend, which are also powerful antioxidant herbs.

Generally safe for most adults, taking a garlic supplement can cause heartburn, upset stomach, an allergic reaction, and breath and body odor (common with raw garlic). Garlic should not be taken by persons who are preparing for surgery or who have bleeding disorders because it can impair the body’s ability to form blood clots.

 

References

  • World’s Healthiest Foods: Garlic. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=60
  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Garlic. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/garlic/ataglance.htm
  • Medline Plus. Herbs and Supplements: Garlic. (Includes information on garlic interactions with other drugs) https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/300.html
  • Karagodin VP, Sobenin IA, Orekhov AN. Antiatherosclerotic and Cardioprotective Effects of Time-Released Garlic Powder Pills. Curr Pharm Des. 2015 Nov 12. Available from: http://www.eurekaselect.com/136921/article
  • Seki, T. and Hosono, T. Prevention of Cardiovascular Diseases by Garlic-Derived Sulfur Compounds. Jnl of Nutritional Science & Vitaminology (Tokyo). 2015. 61 Suppl:S83-85. doi: 10.3177/jnsv.61.S83. Date Accessed: Dec 8, 2015. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/jnsv/61/Supplement/61_S83/_pdf
  • Xiong, XJ., Wang, PQ, et al., Garlic for hypertension: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Phytomedicine. 2015 Mar 15;22(3):352-61. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2014.12.013. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25837272

 

Soothe Emotional Angst with Motherwort

Soothe Emotional Angst with Motherwort

A plant in the mint family, Motherwort gets its name from its ancient use: helping women who had a tendency to “over-mother” and thus experienced more stress, and less joy, in their maternal role. Today, throughout Europe and in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s used as a medicinal herb to treat emotional conditions such as anxiety and depression. It also helps ease symptoms of menstrual distress, as well as physical and emotional exhaustion.

Motherwort can be prepared as a tea, tincture, or in capsule form. Depending on the the type of preparation, it can have a rather bitter taste and an odor some may find unpleasant. However, for many users, it becomes an “acquired taste” and the benefits outweigh any bitterness.

Motherwort has the ability to calm without causing drowsiness, and it has medicinal effects on circulation and heart rate. Because it can thin the blood, this herb should be used carefully and under the guidance of a qualified herbalist or natural health practitioner.

In our practice we use Motherwort to address the symptoms of  hyperthyroidism, benign irregular heart beat (racing heart), emotional and mental tensions, anxiety and spasms. It is also effective in addressing the hot flashes and mental tension so commonly occurring in perimenopause.

Elena Klimenko, MD, a certified functional medicine physician, will help you decide if motherwort is right for you. In her practice, she uses lifestyle modification and natural remedies to address the root cause of your medical symptoms. Call today to find out more about functional medicine and speak with Dr. Klimenko at 212-696- HEAL(4325).

 

References

  • Mars, B. & Fiedler, C. Home Reference Guide to Holistic Health & Healing. (2015.) p.191-192. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press.
  • NatureGate.com “Motherwort.” Accessed on July 3, 2016: http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kukkakasvit/motherwort
  • NDHealthFacts.com “Leonurus cardiaca.” Accessed on July 3, 2016: http://www.luontoportti.com/suomi/en/kukkakasvit/motherwort
  • Hoffmann, D. Medicinal Herbalism. The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester, Healing Art Press 2003. http://www.pdfarchive.info/pdf/H/Ho/Hoffmann_David_-_Medical_herbalism.pdf pp. 501, 502, 509, 514-517.
  • Murray, M. “Hypertension” as cited in Pizzorno, Joseph E. (2013). Textbook of Natural Medicine. St. Louis, MO Elsevier. (chapter 174), 1475-1485.
  • Johnson, R.L., S. Foster, Low Dog, T. and Kiefer, D. “Plants and the Heart” in National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World’s Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2012. 100-101.
  • Mars, Bridgitte & Fiedler, Chrystle. Home Reference Guide to Holistic Health & Healing. (Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press. 2015.), 189.
The Power of Breath: CURE to Stress and High Blood Pressure

The Power of Breath: CURE to Stress and High Blood Pressure

When you don’t manage stress effectively you place an unnecessary burden on the one muscle that keeps you alive: the heart.

When you’re stressed, your body goes into “fight or flight” response. The brain releases hormones that cause your heart to pump faster, thicken your blood, and raise blood pressure. If you constantly experience this stress response, it eventually changes the way the heart and blood system function–putting you at risk for heart disease.

There’s a “cure” you can use anytime, anywhere to change the way you respond to stress and actually lower blood pressure and protect your heart from the deadly grip of stress. Cardiologist, Dr. John Kennedy, developed ‘The 15 Minute Heart Cure’–a set of simple breathing techniques that creates a connection between the heart and brain. This method helps you calm down, reenergize, and protects your heart all at the same time.

To get the most out of using this technique, try to do it at the same time each day. Try it now, it is so easy!

B in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = Beginning. Begin in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted for 15-minutes. Begin with a positive attitude. View this time as a gift to your health. Seated in a comfortable position, try to clear all thoughts and bring focus to your breath, slowly inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.

R in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = Relaxation. Relaxation brought about by this technique creates changes in brain waves and the rhythm of your heart. Visualize yourself walking on a ‘path to relaxation’, perhaps a beautiful hiking path. With each step, you become more and more relaxed.

E in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = Envision. Walt Disney, Steve Jobs and Deepak Chopra are called visionaries for good reason. Research shows envisioning is an important part of achieving a goal-be it a story, a revolutionary digital device, or a new paradigm in medicine. Imagine your heart as powerful and strong. Research also shows that imagery can lower your heart rate, lower blood pressure, and strengthen your immune system.

A in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = Apply. In Dr. Kennedy’s book, there are heart-healing images and metaphors for you to apply during your 15-minute practice and during stressful moments. Tapping into the imagery, even from memory, can help break the cycle of stress in the moment it is happening.

T in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = Treatment. Your time spent with this technique is no different than taking time for a spa-treatment. See this time as a 15-minute oasis that you create.

H in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = Heal. This technique will strengthen neural networks that connect your heart and brain so that your body easily shifts from stress response to relaxation response. Healing is more likely to occur in a relaxed state, bringing more oxygen into muscles, lowering pulse rate and blood pressure, and enhancing immune response.

E in B-R-E-A-T-H-E = End. After 15-minutes of mindful focus on the breath and heart-healing imagery, you will feel deeply relaxed, energized and revitalized. As you end your session, quietly notice your surroundings and visualize how you can use the technique throughout your day.

If you don’t have 15 minutes right now start with 5 minutes or just 6 deep breaths. Any time you can spare is better than just ignoring the stress and allowing it to dominate your life.

See the Resources list for more detailed instructions and information about the book and the app.

References
  • Detailed instructions on the BREATHE™ technique by Dr. John Kennedy http://www.johnmkennedymd.com/breath-techniq.html
  • Dr. Kennedy’s Website: http://www.johnmkennedymd.com
  • The BREATHE™ APP: http://encardiawellness.com/focusBreathing.html
  • Kennedy, John. The 15 Minute Heart Cure: The Natural Way to Release Stress and Heal Your Heart in Just Minutes a Day. (2009). Wiley. http://www.amazon.com/15-Minute-Heart-Cure-Natural-ebook/dp/B00DNKYFUK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1448554071&sr=8-1&keywords=15+min+heart+cure
Preventing Blood Clots with Food?! Yes, the evidence is there…

Prevent Blood Clots with Food?! Yes, the evidence is there…

A compound called Rutin, commonly found in fruits and vegetables and sold over the counter as a dietary supplement, has been shown to inhibit the formation of blood clots in an animal model of thrombosis.

These findings, led by investigators at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and published online issue of The Journal of Clinical Investigation (JCI), identify a novel strategy for preventing thrombosis, and help pave the way for clinical testing of this popular flavonoid as a therapy for the prevention and treatment of stroke and heart attack, as well as deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism.

It’s not always fully appreciated that the majority of Americans will die as the result of a blood clot in either their heart or their brain,” says senior author Robert Flaumenhaft, an investigator in the Division of Hemostasis and Thrombosis at BIDMC and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Approximately half of all morbidity and mortality in the United States can be attributed to heart attack or stroke.”

The study focused on protein disulfide isomerase (PDI), which is found in all cells and rapidly secreted from clotting cell (platelets) and arterial wall lining cells (endothelial cells) when a clot forms in a blood vessel. Interestingly, the inhibition of PDI could block thrombosis in a mouse model.

“This was a transformative and unanticipated finding because it identified, for the first time, that PDI is secreted from cells in a live animal and is a potential target for preventing thrombosis,” says Flaumenhaft. However, because intracellular PDI is necessary for the proper synthesis of proteins, the scientists had to identify a specific compound that could block the thrombosis-causing extracellular PDI — without inhibiting the intracellular PDI.

They began by conducting a screening  of a wide range of compounds to identify PDI inhibitors. Among the more than 5,000 compounds that were screened, quercetin-3-rutinoside (rutin) emerged as the most potent agent. “Rutin was essentially the champion compound,” says Flaumenhaft.

A bioflavonoid that is naturally found in many fruits and vegetables, including onions, apples, and citrus fruits, as well as teas, rutin is also sold as an herbal supplement, having received a special designation for safety from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Surprisingly, studies of the rutin molecule demonstrated that the same part of the molecule that provides rutin with its ability to inhibit PDI also prevents the compound from entering cells.

“That finding explained how this compound can be both a potent inhibitor of PDI and a safe food supplement,” says Flaumenhaft. “Our next questions were: Is this compound anti-thrombotic? Can it prevent blood clots?”

The team went on to test rutin in a mouse model of thrombosis. Because they knew that humans would be taking rutin in pill form, they included studies in which the compound was administered orally and determined that it successfully retained its anti-thrombotic properties when it was metabolized following oral ingestion.

“Rutin proved to be the most potently anti-thrombotic compound that we ever tested in this model,” says Flaumenhaft. Of particular note, rutin was shown to inhibit both platelet accumulation and fibrin generation during thrombus formation. “Clots occur in both arteries and in veins,” explains Flaumenhaft. “Clots in arteries are platelet-rich, while those in veins are fibrin-rich. This discovery suggests that a single agent can treat and prevent both types of clots.”

Even with the use of existing anti-clotting therapies, such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), and warfarin (Coumadin), each year there are approximately 400,000 recurrent episodes among patients who previously experienced a stroke or heart attack, says Flaumenhaft.

“A safe and inexpensive drug that could reduce recurrent clots could help save thousands of lives,” he adds. “These preclinical trials provide proof-of-principle that PDI is an important therapeutic target for anti-thrombotic therapy, and because the FDA has already established that rutin is safe, we are poised to expeditiously test this idea in a clinical trial, without the time and expense required to establish the safety of a new drug.”

 

I am Elena Klimenko, MD, an internist and certified functional medicine physician. I’ve been using food based form of Rutin supplement to prevent thrombosis without side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. If you question if Rutin is right for you, call us. In our practice we use functional medicine, acupuncture and homeopathy to address the root cause of your medical symptoms and get your body to optimal health. Call today to find out more about functional medicine and speak with Dr. Klimenko at 212-696- HEAL(4325).

 

 

References

  • Flaumenhaft, Robert. “Harvard Catalyst Profiles.” Harvard Catalyst. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 July 2016.
  • “High Throughput Screening (HTS).” High Throughput Screening (HTS). N.p., n.d. Web. 14 July 2016.
  • Prescott, Bonnie. “Flavonoid Compound Can Prevent Blood Clots.” Harvard Gazette. N.p., 9 May 2012. Web. 9 July 2016.
Rhodiola Rosea

Rhodiola Rosea

Who does not want to have better mood, stronger libido, and stronger nervous system, feel stronger, resist to infections and tolerate stress better and live longer?

If you don’t want at least one of those qualities, you probably don’t need to read the rest of the article…

For all others, let me introduce you to the “queen” of the herbs Rhodiola Rosea. To be more exact, the root of the herb possesses the multitude of the medicinal qualities outlined earlier. If I ever get stranded on the deserted island and I have only one supplement to take, it’d be Rhodiola Rosea!

Rhodiola root (Rhodiola Rosea, Arctic Root, Golden Root) was first discovered in Russia, where the locals of Siberia were known to possess a strong health and survive severe climate conditions. It was later been used in the traditional medicine of many countries including Russia, Scandinavia and Middle Asia.

Since 1969 Rhodiola has been included in the list of official Russian medicine. It is regarded as a tonic and stimulant and used to increase physical endurance, attention span, memory, work productivity and resistance to high altitude sickness.

Other indications include fatigue, anemia, impotence, infections (including cold and influenza), nervous system disorders (mild depression and stress), headache and to enhance longevity and fertility.

Rhodiola has multiple key ingredients that are responsible for the myriad of therapeutic properties (rosavins and salidroside are among the most important). The particular ratio of those components (3:1) gives the most therapeutic efficacy. The interesting thing is that not all types of Rodiola are the same and the most balanced and therapeutic species from all existing Rodiolas appears to be Rodeola Rosea. Different parts of the plant (leaves, flowers, stems and roots) have different proportions of the therapeutic components. Many studies were done to find which part is the richest in the medicinal qualities and the roots invariably come as a winner.

The main indication for use of Rhodiola is adaptogenic, tonic and antioxidant effect.

General indications: Rhodiola Rosea extract is classified as an adaptogen due to its ability to increase your body’s resistance to a variety of chemical, biological, and physical sources of stress. It is commonly recommended to people who are faced with large amounts of physical and/or mental stress. Sounds like any person leaving in New York or any large city.

Detoxification: Several studies have shown that Rhodiola Rosea can help to detoxify our body by increasing protein synthesis and removing ammonia from the blood. It also increases blood supply to the muscles and the brain, and therefore proven to improve athletic performance.

Brian support: Due to its ability to supply blood to the brain many people use Rhodiola Rosea during times of studying and taking exams. Rhodiola rosea also improves the brain’s ability to deal with stress by increasing serotonin in the brain (hypothalamus and midbrain), increasing endorphins, moderating the release of opioid peptides that occur as a part of dealing with stress response, and protecting the brain and heart by reducing the stress related production of stress initiating hormone (corticotrophin releasing factor).

Rhodiola is a wonderful herb for mental focus and brain activity. The results, observed in several clinical studies demonstrate enhanced mental performance, learning, attention span, and memory. It has been widely used as an antidepressant, working alone or adjunctively with other antidepressants and some patients find it more effective than prescription antidepressants like SSRI’s or St. John’s Wort.

Rhodiola’s indications: Fatigue, Physical stress, Debility, Increase of concentration, mental performance and memory, Failure to thrive, Impotence and infertility, Convalescence, Chronic immune deficiency, Chronic fatigue syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Recovery from viral infections, Tonic for the elderly

Athletic performance: Rhodiola Rosea is able to increase physical work capacity. It improves strength, recovery time, endurance, and coordination. Clinical studies discovered Rhodiola to be more effective than Siberian ginseng at enhancing adaptation to physical stress.

Fertility: Rhodiola has been shown great results in enhancing fertility in women, even among those that have failed to conceive with standard fertility drugs; It also improves sexual performance in men with erectile dysfunction and/or premature ejaculation. It also enhances thyroid and adrenal function without causing hyperfunction of those organs.

Heart Function: Rhodiola is a very effective anti-arrhythmia/tachycardia agent. It also increases the energy efficiency and energy reserves of the heart by balancing the heart’s nerve inputs (sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems).

Remember, if you have time and money for only one herb, make it Rodeola Rosea. Keep in mind, the quality of herbs can vary immensely from one manufacturer to another. I use and trust MediHerb as a source of my herbs. This Australian company does vigorous quality control to test efficacy and purity of the herbal sources and I get consistent results when I use their product.

Feel free to call our office with any questions about this article or to get the best quality Rodeola Rosea.

Stay Healthy Wealthy & Wise,

Elena Klimenko, MD

 

BPA in Cans

BPA in Cans

BPA stands for bisphenol A. BPA is a chemical that has been used since the 1960s to make certain resins and plastics.

BPA can be found in polycarbonate plastics and epoxy resins. Polycarbonate plastics are often used in food containers and water bottles.

Epoxy resins are used to coat the inside of metal products, such as food cans, bottle tops and water supply lines.

One of the nastiest endocrine disruptor on the market, BPA has been linked to a variety of serious disorders, including cancer, reproductive damage and heart disease. It can dangerously effect the brain and behavior of fetuses, infants and children.

More and more BPA-free products have come to market. They are usually labeled BPA free.1

But I bet you haven’t heard this: Consumers have NO reliable way of knowing which canned foods use BPA-based epoxy in their linings. Crazy, right?

The Environmental Working Group developed this report to help consumers like you determine which products contain BPA and which brands you can count on for BPA-free products.

After scrutinizing more than 250 brands of canned food, EWG analysts found that while many companies have publicly pledged to stop using BPA in their cans, more than 110 brands still line all or some of their metal cans with an epoxy resin containing BPA.

EWG divides the brands into four categories: those using cans with BPA, those using BPA-free cans for some products, those always using BPA-free cans and those that are unclear. That way, you can tell exactly which products to seek out and which to avoid.

Federal regulations don’t require manufacturers to label their products so you can identify cans with BPA-based linings. That’s why EWG stepped up to do this research — so you have the resources you need to avoid BPA and shop smarter.

To see the report just follow this link

BPA in Canned Food: Behind the Brand Curtain

References:

1, http://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/policy-update-on-state-restrictions-on-bisphenol-a.aspx

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/PublicHealthFocus/ucm064437.htm