Iodine: Essential Trace Element for the Mind and Body

Iodine was identified as essential for humans back in the 1920s. I believe that everyone who has studied nutrition knows that a deficiency of iodine will cause an underactive thyroid. But now there is a plethora of scientific evidence showing us what else iodine does for us. And if I hadn’t seen the studies with my own eyes I would have found it hard to believe.

Every cell in our body needs iodine to function properly. The white blood cells of our immune system cannot function properly without adequate amounts of iodine. Even our sweat glands need iodine and will not function properly when we are deficient. This leads to dry skin. Neither will our salivary glands function properly. That means we would experience dry eyes and a dry mouth.

Iodine deficiency affects approximately two billion people around the world and is the number one preventable cause of intellectual disability.[1] It is crucial that both the fetus and the infant get enough in the first three years of existence or the central nervous system will not develop properly.  According to Jorge D. Flechas, MD, adding a good iodine supplement to a pregnant woman’s diet will produce a child with an IQ 20 to 30 points higher than the parents’ IQ.[2]

A good iodine supplement will contain both iodine and iodide. Like other minerals, iodine comes in several forms. Potassium Iodide and sodium iodide are the salt forms of iodine. Some organs only absorb iodine and other organs only absorb iodide. For example, only iodine will absorb in the prostate and stomach while iodide will absorb in the salivary glands, skin and the thyroid.[2]

This is why we should not take a supplement that contains only iodine or iodide but instead we should consume a supplement that contains both. One example of a supplement that contains both iodine and iodide is Lugol’s iodine.

Surveys conclude that numerous pregnant women in the United States, while not showing signs of iodine deficiency, obtain insufficient amounts of iodine.[3]  Dr. Flechas also states that a mild deficiency in the early years of life will manifest as attention deficit disorder.[2]

The World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders (ICCIDD) recommend an iodine intake for pregnant women of 250 mcg per day.[4] However, the average intake is much greater in in some parts of the world. For example, the average intake of iodine in Japan is considerable greater at 13.8 mg per day.

Many clinical nutritionists agree that we need considerably more iodine than the minimal amount that the WHO and other organizations are suggesting. These nutritionists also agree that the RDA was set to prevent goiter and does not take into consideration all the other bodily functions that require iodine.

The absence of iodine in a cell may allow cancer to form. The protective effect of iodine against breast cancer has been well documented in Japanese women who consume iodine-rich seaweed and have a low rate of breast cancer.[5][6] Iodine is known to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in breast cancer cells.[7]

A decrease in the incidence of death rate from stomach cancer after supplementation with iodine has also been reported.[8] Researchers have found a correlation between iodine deficiency and gastric cancer.[9][10]

And the list goes on; the lack of iodine can also lead to hearing loss and deafness according to Mayo Clinic.[11] Research suggests that iodine supplementation might be helpful for the treatment of fibrocystic breast disease.[12]  After a nuclear accident iodine supplementation may save your life.[13] PCOS (poly cystic ovaries) may benefit from iodine supplementation.[14]

Iodine is required for synthesizing thyroid hormones and is an integral component of them. When a person is deficient in iodine, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) occurs. Symptoms may include mental slowing, depression, fatigue, goiter, weight gain and low body temperature.[15] Estrogen inhibits the absorption of iodine. That is why more woman have underactive thyroids than men.

According to the National Institutes for Health (NIH) the best food sources of iodide and iodine are sea vegetables.[16] I eat sea veggies from the Atlantic Ocean such as dulse and kelp on a daily basis and also consume a number of other ocean plants such as arame, hiziki, kombu, and wakame on occasion.

I suggest that everyone find a source of iodine that feels right for them and be conscious of your intake. But since iodine is a brain stimulant, it is not advised to take it before going to sleep.

[1] McNeil, Donald G. Jr (2006-12-16). “In Raising the World’s I.Q., the Secret’s in the Salt”. New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-04.


[3] Perrine CG, Herrick K, Serdula MK, Sullivan KM. Some subgroups of reproductive age women in the United States may be at risk for iodine deficiency. J Nutr. 2010 Aug;140(8):1489-1494.

[4] World Health Organization. United Nations Children’s Fund & International Council for the Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders. Assessment of iodine deficiency disorders and monitoring their elimination. 3rd ed. Geneva, Switzerland: WHO, 2007.

[5] Smyth PP (July 2003). “The thyroid, iodine and breast cancer”. Breast Cancer Research: BCR (review) 5 (5): 235–8. doi:10.1186/bcr638PMC 314438PMID 12927031.

[6] Smyth PP (2003). “Role of iodine in antioxidant defence in thyroid and breast disease” .BioFactors (Oxford, England) (review) 19 (3–4): 121–30. doi:10.1002/biof.5520190304.PMID 14757962.

[7] Shrivastava, A. (2006). “Molecular Iodine Induces Caspase-independent Apoptosis in Human Breast Carcinoma Cells Involving the Mitochondria-mediated Pathway”. Journal of Biological Chemistry 281 (28): 19762–19771. doi:10.1074/jbc.M600746200ISSN 0021-9258.PMID 16679319.

[8] Golkowski, F.; Szybinski, Z.; Rachtan, J.; Sokolowski, A.; Buziak-Bereza, M.; Trofimiuk, M.; Hubalewska-Dydejczyk, A.; Przybylik-Mazurek, E.; Huszno, B. (2007). “Iodine prophylaxis—the protective factor against stomach cancer in iodine deficient areas”. Eur J Nutr. 46 (5): 251–6.doi:10.1007/s00394-007-0657-8PMID 17497074.

[9] Abnet, C. C.; Fan, J. H.; Kamangar, F; Sun, X. D.; Taylor, P. R.; Ren, J. S.; Mark, S. D.; Zhao, P. et al. (2006). “Self-reported goiter is associated with a significantly increased risk of gastric noncardia adenocarcinoma in a large population-based Chinese cohort”. International Journal of Cancer 119 (6): 1508–1510. doi:10.1002/ijc.21993PMID 16642482.

[10] Behrouzian, R.; Aghdami, N. (2004). “Urinary iodine/creatinine ratio in patients with stomach cancer in Urmia, Islamic Republic of Iran”. East Mediterr Health J. 10 (6): 921–924.PMID 16335780.


[12] Kessler JH. The effect of supraphysiologic levels of iodine on patients with cyclic mastalgia. Breast J. 2004 Jul-Aug;10(4):328-336.



[15] Felig, Philip; Frohman, Lawrence A. (2001). “Endemic Goiter”. Endocrinology & metabolism. McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 978-0-07-022001-0.



Testosterone, Saw Palmetto Berries and BPH, What Men Should Know

Back in the 1990’s, I owned a health food store in New York. Many men came into my store complaining of frequent urination. When I suggested a high quality saw palmetto berry supplement, many of them told me that they already tried that and it didn’t work. When I asked them what brand they had used, they always told me some type of low quality discount store brand. When they tried the brand that I suggested, available only at health food stores, they almost always came back and told me it had worked. Let’s explore some of the benefits of a high quality saw palmetto berry supplement.

Saw Palmetto berry extract inhibits the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase which changes testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The extract also appears to inhibit DHT from binding to cell receptor sites which increases the breakdown of DHT and encourages its excretion.

Limiting your body’s ability to change testosterone into DHT can be very important for several reasons. DHT is the primary contributing factor in male pattern baldness. [1][2] But more importantly, because DHT plays a role in the development and exacerbation of prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). [3][4] This happens because DHT enlarges the prostate gland. When the prostate becomes enlarged, frequent urination is a common symptom.

Numerous clinical trials with saw palmetto berry extract used in the treatment of BPH have found it safe and effective for the treatment of mild-to-moderate BPH compared to placebo. [5][6] Unlike prescription drugs, saw palmetto does not have serious unwanted side effects.

Native Americans of the south eastern United Sates have used saw palmetto berries as a food source and a medicine for hundreds of years with no terrible side effects. They used it in the treatment of both frequent urination and trouble urinating.

Saw palmetto berry extract has been approved for the treatment of prostate problems by the German Commission E, which a scientific advisory board and the German equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In Germany, saw palmetto is often recommended by physicians for the treatment of an enlarged prostate. In fact, in many European countries, a number of prescription and over-the-counter remedies for enlarged prostate contain saw palmetto extract.

On the other hand, the prescription drugs used in the treatment of BPH also lower DHT by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase. But the drugs can have terrible side effects that might continue after stopping the treatment. The side effects may include erectile dysfunction, diminished libido and male breast cancer. [7][8] They are also known to have cognitive side effects, including depression, [9] brain fog and memory loss. [8]

If you decide to take saw palmetto berries to treat the symptoms of BHP, make sure you get a quality product. I suggest a product that has been standardized to contain at least 85 percent fatty acids and sterols.  And remember, if you want it to work, you need to take it every day and give it some time to work its magic.  It usually takes up to 45 days to start showing lessening of symptoms and may take as long as 90 days to show some results.

  1. Nordqvist C (2012-02-23).“What Is DHT (Dihydrotestosterone)? What Is DHT’s Role In Baldness?”. Medical News Today.
  2. “Male Pattern Baldness Causes”.Hair Loss Health Center. WebMD, LLC.
  3. “Prostate Enlargement – What Causes The Prostate To Enlarge?”. ehealthMD
  4. Freedland SJ, Isaacs WB, Platz EA, Terris MK, Aronson WJ, Amling CL, Presti JC, Kane CJ (October 2005). “Prostate size and risk of high-grade, advanced prostate cancer and biochemical progression after radical prostatectomy: a search database study”. Clin. Oncol. 23 (30): 7546–54.doi:10.1200/JCO.2005.05.025.PMID 16234520.
  5. Wilt T, Ishani A, Mac Donald R (2002). “Serenoa repens for benign prostatic hyperplasia”. In Tacklind, James. Cochrane Database Syst Rev(3): CD001423. doi:1002/14651858.CD001423PMID 12137626.
  6. [5] Boyle, P; Robertson C, Lowe F, Roehrborn C (Apr 2004). “Updated meta-analysis of clinical trials of Serenoa repens extract in the treatment of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia”.BJU Int 93 (6): 751–756.doi:1111/j.1464-410X.2003.04735.xPMID 15049985.
  7. Irwig MS, Kolukula S (June 2011). “Persistent sexual side effects of finasteride for male pattern hair loss”. J Sex Med8(6): 1747–53. doi:1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02255.x.PMID 21418145.
  8. Traish AM, Hassani J, Guay AT, Zitzmann M, Hansen ML (March 2011). “Adverse side effects of 5α-reductase inhibitors therapy: persistent diminished libido and erectile dysfunction and depression in a subset of patients”.J Sex Med 8 (3): 872–84. doi:1111/j.1743-6109.2010.02157.x.PMID 21176115.
  9. Rahimi-Ardabili B, Pourandarjani R, Habibollahi P, Mualeki A (2006). “Finasteride induced depression: a prospective study”BMC Clin Pharmacol 6: 7. doi:1186/1472-6904-6-7.PMC 1622749.PMID 17026771.

The Dark Side of Whey Protein

Whey protein is a by-product of cheese making. The globular protein is left over and becomes a waste product for the cheese industry, Rather than dump the left overs, the industry has invented a way to market and sell it. However, excessive consumption of whey protein has been linked to several unwanted health conditions that most doctors and common people are completely unaware of.

Whey is produced in three different forms, isolate, concentrate, and hydrolysate. They have different size protein particles and contain different amounts of protein by volume. All of them have been shown to have the following negative health effects:

Whey protein can have a dangerous effect on our immune system for those of us that have even a mild allergy to milk protein. Many of us unknowingly have a mild dairy allergy and when it enters our blood stream our immune system attacks the whey proteins just like it would attack a pathogen. The result is that we can get a variety of different symptoms. If the affected system is our respiratory system, runny nose and/or mucus in the lungs are two of the many symptoms that may occur. If the allergic reaction in our body occurs in the skin, rashes or puffy skin may occur. Don’t expect a medical doctor to diagnose it. Most MD’s have no training in diagnosing whey protein allergies.

For those of us that have even a mild case of lactose intolerance, which is at least 60% of the population, digestive problems are another dark side. Whey protein concentrate is what remains when liquid whey is dried. It usually contains more than 50% lactose. For the majority of the human race, the enzyme that digests the sugar occurring in cow’s milk called lactase, stops being produced between the ages of two and five years old. Therefore, when the undigested sugars reach the intestine, they undergo bacterial fermentation, producing gas that can cause bloating, cramping, flatulence, nausea, and even diarrhea in some individuals. Other possible symptoms may include fatigue, irritability, and headaches.

Weakened bones are another possible effect of whey protein when consumed day after day for extended periods of time without balancing out the acidity with alkaline food. The acidity of whey protein in our bloodstream can cause the alkaline minerals calcium and magnesium to be leached from our bones and used to buffer the pH of our bloodstream.

There are many choices in hypoallergenic protein powders on the market today. Sunwarrior leads the way in quality protein products. Why not make the investment in yourself and spend a few dollars more to get a quality product instead of a by-product?


The Truth about Calcium Supplements

A study was published in October 2016 on the cardiovascular effects of taking calcium supplements. It was a multi-ethnic study.

The ten year study had 5448 adults between the ages of 45 and 85 years old. The participants were free of cardio vascular disease at the start of the study. Fifty two percent of them were female.

The researchers concluded that people consuming calcium supplements had a higher risk of coronary artery calcification and its progression.(1) Note that when arteries become calcified it leads to high blood pressure and can eventually lead to a heart attack or stroke.

The form of calcium that one consumes is very important. Many calcium supplements are made from calcium carbonate which is the same material as blackboard chalk. The body cannot use this form of calcium and thus deposits of it form on the walls of the circulatory system.

However the form of calcium found in plants, especially green plants, is highly useable by the body. Dietary calcium has been linked to a lower risk of coronary artery calcification.(1)

Magnesium lays down the bone density and is of vital importance to having strong bones. However, the majority of the population is deficient in magnesium and has an overabundance of calcium. This ratio leads to weak bones.  Magnesium supplements have also been shown to reduce blood pressure. (2)

My own mother developed coronary artery calcification and suffered from clogged arteries as a result of taking calcium carbonate supplements. The calcium supplement also made her osteoporosis worsen.

When she stopped taking the calcium supplement and replaced it with a magnesium supplement, her bone density eventually returned to what the doctor called perfect for her age. She was 72 then and now she is 84 and has good bones.

A little known hidden source of dangerous forms of calcium is fortified food, especially nut milks, soy milk, rice milk and other calcium fortified foods. Check the ingredient list. If you see the word calcium on the INGREDIENT list I suggest that you avoid that product.

Craig B Sommers ND, CN


Sesame Seeds, a Surprising Superfood

The nutritional profile of sesame seeds is outstanding and, in my opinion, greatly underestimated. They have been gown for food for more than 3000 years.

Sesame seeds contain high amounts of protein, fiber and oil, which is rich in omega-6 (linoleic acid) and oleic acid. They are also high in B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, and zinc.

Most people consider steak an excellent source of iron. According to the USDA steak contains about 1.5 mg of iron per 100 grams.[1] But sesame seeds contain a whopping 14.8 mg of iron per 100 grams.

Compared to most other foods, sesame seeds contain considerably higher amounts of magnesium. Dark chocolate is said to be an excellent source of magnesium. According to the USDA nutrient data charts, dark chocolate solids (70-85% cacao) contain 228 mg of magnesium per 100 grams but sesame seeds contain 356 mg of magnesium per 100 grams.[2]

If I find a client deficient in phosphorous after they take a nutritional profile, my number one recommendation for increasing their phosphorous intake is adding sesame tahini to their diet. According to the USDA nutrient data charts, sesame seeds contain 638 mg of phosphorous per 100 grams which is approximately three times higher than beef.[1]

When it comes to calcium, most people think of cow’s milk as a good source. However, according to the USDA, there are 113 mg of calcium in 100 grams of whole milk while sesame seeds contain a whopping 989 mg of calcium per 100 grams.[3]

Sesame seeds are very high in lignans. There are several extraordinary lignans in sesame seeds (pinoresinol, sesamin, sesamolin and lariciresinol.[4][5] Among the numerous health benefits of lignan consumption, epidemiological studies have shown that lignan consumption is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer.[6][7][8][9][10]

According to the USDA raw beef contains 22 grams of protein per 100 grams. Sesame seeds are not far behind containing 17 grams of protein per 100 grams.[1]

Followers of the macrobiotic diet and the Japanese have been using a sesame seed product called gomashio that is made from un-hulled toasted sesame seeds mixed with sea salt. The gomashio used in the macrobiotic diet usually contains quite a bit less salt than traditional Japanese gomashio. To add extra flavor and nutrition to your food, try adding gomashio instead of just salt.

Sesame seeds have one of the highest oil contents of any food. But due to sesame oil’s lack of omega-3 fats and high content of omega-6 fats, I don’t recommend regular consumption of the extracted oil.

This is because the average person and even healthy eaters usually over consume omega-6 fats and under consume omega-3 fats due to their scarcity in the food chain. This can cause an out of balance omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and lead to inflammation in the body unless omega-3 supplements are taken. I suggest sticking to products made from the whole seed.

Sesame seeds can be purchased two ways, with the hulls on and with the hulls removed. I personally prefer un-hulled sesame seeds because the hulls contain nutrients and fiber. But both hulled and un-hulled are healthy.

Sesame seeds come in a variety of colors including tan, gold, brown, black, reddish, grey and white. If you’re trying to increase your nutrient intake, you might try sprinkling raw sesame seeds on your food and adding sesame tahini to your diet. Sesame seeds have a rich nutty flavor and, in my opinion, are quite tasty.

  4.  Milder, Ivon E. J.; Arts, Ilja C. W.; Betty; Venema, Dini P.; Hollman, Peter C. H. (2005). “Lignan contents of Dutch plant foods: a database including lariciresinol, pinoresinol, secoisolariciresinol and matairesinol”. British Journal of Nutrition 93: 393–402. doi: 10.1079/BJN20051371.
  5. Kuo PC, Lin MC, Chen GF, Yiu TJ, Tzen JT (2011). “Identification of methanol-soluble compounds in sesame and evaluation of antioxidant potential of its lignans”. J Agric Food Chem59 (7): 3214–9. doi: 10.1021/jf104311gPMID 21391595.
  6. Boccardo, F; Puntoni, M; Guglielmini, P; Rubagotti,  A(2006). “Enterolactone as a risk factor for breast cancer: A review of the published evidence”. Clinica chimica acta; international journal of clinical chemistry 365 (1–2): 58–67. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2005.07.026.PMID 16168401.
  7.  Adlercreutz, H (2007). “Lignans and human health”. Critical reviews in clinical laboratory sciences 44 (5–6): 483–525. doi: 10.1080/10408360701612942PMID 17943494.
  8. Saarinen, N. M.; Huovinen, R; Wärri, A; Mäkelä, S. I.; Valentín-Blasini, L; Sjöholm, R; Ammälä, J; Lehtilä, R; Eckerman, C; Collan, Y. U.; Santti, R. S. (2002). “Enterolactone inhibits the growth of 7, 12-dimethylbenz(a)anthracene-induced mammary carcinomas in the rat”.Molecular cancer therapeutics 1 (10): 869–76. PMID 12492120.
  9. Bergman Jungeström, M; Thompson, L. U.; Dabrosin, C (2007). “Flaxseed and its lignans inhibit estradiol-induced growth, angiogenesis, and secretion of vascular endothelial growth factor in human breast cancer xenografts in vivo”. Clinical cancer research: an official journal of the American Association for Cancer Research 13 (3): 1061–7. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-06-1651PMID 17289903.
  10. Lindahl, G; Saarinen, N; Abrahamsson, A; Dabrosin, C (2011). “Tamoxifen, flaxseed, and the lignan enterolactone increase stroma- and cancer cell-derived IL-1Ra and decrease tumor angiogenesis in estrogen-dependent breast cancer”. Cancer research 71 (1): 51–60. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-2289PMID 21097717.

Chia Seeds, an Ancient Food Rediscovered

Looking back in time, we can trace chia seeds back to their origin in Central America, where they were a staple food for the ancient Aztecs.  Not all that long ago the thing that came to mind when people heard the name chia seed, was the ‘Chia Pet’ clay figurine. Today we have a large body of research on the health promoting benefits of chia seeds. Today the word chia is synonymous with the word superfood!

Here is a quick overview of the nutritional profile of chia seeds. The data comes from the USDA Nutrient Data Library [1] :

-The protein content of chia seeds is impressive. They are composed of approximately 20% protein containing all the essential amino acids.

-The following vitamins are found in chia seeds: Vitamin C, Thiamin, Riboflavin,   Niacin, Folate, Vitamin A and Vitamin E.

-Chia seeds are a very good source of important minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, copper, selenium, manganese, phosphorus and boron. By weight, chia has more calcium than cow’s milk and about six times the iron of spinach. The line-up of bone building minerals in these super seeds is outstanding

-They are also a great source of fiber. Just 2 tablespoons contain about 10 grams.

-These little seeds are extremely high in anti-oxidants. Especially the dark colored ones. Some sources show them to be around the same level as blueberries. The high level of antioxidants preserve the nutritional value of this superfood, even if it has been ground up!

-Chia seeds are a very good source of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Among the long list of benefits of omega 3 fatty acids are its anti-inflammatory and mind boosting effects. Chia seeds also contain most of the nutrients that our bodies need to convert the omega 3 fats to EPA and DHA!

The ‘no worries’ list for chia seeds is also impressive!

-No need to worry about chia going rancid on you, at room temperature they will stay fresh for over two years!

-It is said that insects don’t colonise chia plants and there is no need for farmers to spray them with pesticides.

-Nor do we have to worry about genetic modification, as for now, chia seeds are non GMO!

-Chia seeds do not need to be ground up to have the nutrients digest and absorb, unlike flaxseeds that need to be ground to gain access to their nutrients.

-With growing awareness of the damaging effects of gluten, it is great to know that chia seeds are gluten free!

-And of course, chia seeds are cholesterol free!

Their usefulness goes on!

-Add them to a child’s diet for extra nutrition. Chia seeds make a great pudding! Just soak for a while, mix in sweetener and eat!

-They can be added to soups, smoothies, dressings, and much more to increase the nutrient profile. Try adding them to drinking water!

-They can even be used as a cholesterol free egg replacer! Chia seeds swell when coming in contact with liquids and form a gel. For each egg called for in a recipe, simply mix 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and wait for about 15 minutes. Then use the mixture in your recipe just as you would use an egg. The gelatinous chia seeds will increase the nutrient profile of whatever you are preparing!

My personal experiences with chia seeds have always been amazing! For many years I have been adding them to my smoothies and I also make chia pudding every so often. If you haven’t tried them yet, you’re missing out on a precious gift from nature!



Homocysteine, is it causing your symptoms?

Homocysteine is what scientists refer to as a non-protein amino acid. In other words, we cannot build protein from homocysteine. It is a substance found in the blood that can be accurately measured with a simple blood test. Homocysteine is not obtained from the diet but is biosynthesized inside our bodies from the amino acid methionine by the removal of a methyl group.

In 1968 a Harvard researcher discovered that children with elevated homocysteine levels due to a genetic defect had vascular disease similar to middle-aged people with the disease. This ground breaking discovery concluded that excess homocysteine could be a risk factor for heart disease.

It is now known that elevated homocysteine can lead to inflammation of the thin layer of cells that line the interior surface of blood vessels called the endothelium. If the elevated level of homocysteine is not lowered, it may lead to inflammation of the arteries, veins and capillaries which carry blood to all parts of the body. After that happens, artery walls may begin to thicken from the accumulation of calcium and fatty materials. This is known as atherosclerosis. This in turn can result in the restriction of blood supply to tissues, causing a shortage of oxygen and glucose which is needed for cellular metabolism.

Elevated levels of homocysteine have been correlated with the occurrence of blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. However, many cardiologists are still not checking homocysteine levels in their patients unless the person specifically asks to be checked. This may be due in part to the fact that testing homocysteine levels is not usually covered by health insurance and that there is no pharmaceutical treatment for elevated homocysteine levels other than natural vitamin supplementation along with a diet high in raw leafy green vegetables.

Blood levels of homocysteine are statistically higher in people who eat a lot of animal protein and don’t consume adequate amounts of fruits and leafy green vegetables. Research also indicates that the more coffee one drinks the higher the homocysteine level becomes. Reducing the consumption of animal protein and coffee can help lower homocysteine levels. The literature shows that levels tend to be higher in men than in women, and increase with age.

Stress has been linked to elevation as well. The neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine are elevated by stress and need to be metabolized in the liver with a process that uses methylated B vitamins. When we use up these methyl groups, we can’t process homocysteine and the level rises in the bloodstream.

There are numerous unhealthy effects that homocysteine can have on the human body in addition to damaging the circulatory system. Some such health conditions include: macular degeneration, spontaneous abortion, migraine headaches, congestive heart failure, hearing loss, high risk of Alzheimer’s disease and many more conditions.

The good news is that homocysteine can be recycled back into methionine or converted into cysteine with the aid of B-vitamins; more specifically, folate (active folate is known as methyltetrahydrofolate)vitamin B6  and the methylated form of vitamin B12 called methylcobalamin. Note that I said folate and not folic acid, also methylcobalamin and not cyanocobalamin. Folic acid and cyancobalamin are synthetic.

It is now known that approximately one out of every five people have some level of a genetic mutation that makes it difficult to convert synthetic B vitamins into usable ones. It is known as the MTHFR-677 mutation. People with this mutation have been found to have high levels of homocysteine when they are not consuming adequate amounts of food derived B vitamins. This is because they have a limited ability to add a methyl group to synthetic vitamins to make them useable. (For more information on the MTHFR mutation, see my article and video on it.)

There are two commonly known ways that homocysteine is converted into usable substances. One requires folate and vitamin B12. This path turns homocysteine back into methionine. The other requires vitamin B6 as a co-factor (pyridoxal phosphate is the active form of vitamin B6). This route converts homocysteine into cysteine, which is then used by the body to make glutathione which is a powerful antioxidant and is very useful in the body.

Other substances have also been shown to lower homocysteine levels in the human body. Betaine hydrochloride (betaine HCL) can be purchased as a dietary supplement or can be obtained from eating or juicing beets. Betaine turns homocysteine into cysteine. N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) can also reduce blood plasma homocysteine levels and improve endothelial function. Furthermore, research indicates that vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and magnesium are involved in homocysteine metabolism.

I recommend that everyone check their homocysteine levels every few years as they age and especially if they are less than optimally healthy. I also believe that everyone should carefully follow their nutritional status with annual testing from a reputable lab that does intra-cellular micronutrient testing. And lastly, consume a healthy diet with lots of fresh vegetables and a great multiple vitamin that contains food extracted vitamins.


Pomegranate, Ancient Super Fruit, Modern Science

The pomegranate has been cultivated since ancient times. There are numerous references to the fruit in the Bible. In fact, some Jewish scholars believe the pomegranate was the forbidden fruit in the garden of Eden.[1] Let’s look and see what current science has discovered about this super fruit.

In both preliminary laboratory research and clinical trials, researchers concluded that pomegranate juice may be effective in reducing certain heart disease risk factors, including LDL oxidation, macrophage oxidative status and foam cell formation.[2][3][4]

A macrophage is a type of white blood cell that engulfs and digests cellular debris and foreign substances. Foam cells are a type of macrophage seen in atherosclerosis.

In mice “oxidation of LDL by peritoneal macrophages was reduced by up to 90% after pomegranate juice consumption”.[5]

In a study of people with high blood pressure consumption of pomegranate juice for just two weeks was shown to reduce systolic blood pressure. The juice was found to work by inhibiting angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE) in the same manner that ACE inhibiting high blood pressure drugs work.[6]

According to some research pomegranate juice may inhibit viral infections.[7]

Pomegranates have even been shown to benefit our teeth! The extract of these super fruits have been shown to have antibacterial effects against dental plaque.[8]

In February of 2010 the FDA issued a warning letter to the company POM Wonderful who makes pomegranate juice. The company had been sharing published literate of the antioxidant properties of pomegranate juice without getting permission from the FDA.[9][10][11]

Don’t just eat off the juicy fruit off of those little pomegranate seeds and spit out the seed. Research has uncovered that those little seeds contain numerous beneficial micronutrients.[12][13]


[1]  “A Pomegranate for All Religions” by Nancy Haught, Religious News Service

[2] Aviram M; Rosenblat M; Gaitini D et al. (June 2004). “Pomegranate juice consumption for 3 years by patients with carotid artery stenosis reduces common carotid intima-media thickness, blood pressure and LDL oxidation”.Clin Nutr 23 (3): 423–33. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2003.10.002.PMID 15158307.

[3] Esmaillzadeh A, Tahbaz F, Gaieni I, Alavi-Majd H, Azadbakht L (2004). “Concentrated pomegranate juice improves lipid profiles in diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia”.J Med Food 7 (3): 305–8.doi:10.1089/1096620041938623. PMID 15383223.

[4] Kaplan M; Hayek T; Raz A et al. (1 August 2001). “Pomegranate juice supplementation to atherosclerotic mice reduces macrophage lipid peroxidation, cellular cholesterol accumulation and development of atherosclerosis”. J Nutr. 131 (8): 2082–9. PMID 11481398.

[5] Aviram M; Dornfeld L; Rosenblat M et al. (May 2000). “Pomegranate juice consumption reduces oxidative stress, atherogenic modifications to LDL and platelet aggregation: studies in humans and in atherosclerotic apolipoprotein E-deficient mice”.Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 71 (5): 1062–76. PMID 10799367. Retrieved 2011-03-24.

[6] Aviram M, Dornfeld L (September 2001).“Pomegranate juice consumption inhibits serum angiotensin converting enzyme activity and reduces systolic blood pressure”. Atherosclerosis 158 (1): 195–8. doi:10.1016/S0021-9150(01)00412-9. PMID 11500191.

[7] Neurath AR, Strick N, Li YY, Debnath AK (2004). “Punica granatum (Pomegranate) juice provides an HIV-1 entry inhibitor and candidate topical microbicide”. BMC Infect. Dis. 4 (1): 41. doi:10.1186/1471-2334-4-41.PMC 533885. PMID 15485580.

[8] Menezes SM, Cordeiro LN, Viana GS (2006). “Punica granatum (pomegranate) extract is active against dental plaque”. Journal of herbal pharmacotherapy 6 (2): 79–92. doi:10.1300/J157v06n02_07.PMID 17182487.

[9] “Pom Wonderful Warning Letter”. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Retrieved 2011-03-24.

[10]“Understanding Front-of-Package Violations: Why Warning Letters Are Sent to Industry”. Retrieved 2011-03-24.

[11] Starling S (March 3, 2010). “FDA says Pom Wonderful antioxidant claims not so wonderful”. Retrieved March 6, 2010.

[12] Nutrition data for raw pomegranate,

[13] Schubert SY, Lansky EP, Neeman I (July 1999). “Antioxidant and eicosanoid enzyme inhibition properties of pomegranate seed oil and fermented juice flavonoids”. J Ethnopharmacol 66 (1): 11–17. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(98)00222-0. PMID 10432202.


Ear Infection, a Naturopathic Perspective

Ear infections are one of the most common reasons why a child is taken to a doctor. Although children are more likely to get ear infections, it is common for adults to get them also. In recent years there has been an increase in the frequency of ear infections worldwide.

Let’s take a look at some published studies done to determine the efficacy of using natural and nontoxic ear oil that is commonly found in health food stores. Note that this oil can be made easily at home for a fraction of the price.

A double blind study was done on 171 children with middle-ear infections. During the study they found that children who were given naturopathic ear drops alone had a better response than children who were given ear drops together with antibiotics.

During the study “no evidence was found that systemic antibiotics alone improved treatment outcome”. The study went on to say, “these herbal extracts have the potential to meet all of the requirements of appropriate medication that could be routinely used in the pediatric patient, namely in vitro bacteriostatic and bacteriocidal activity against common pathogens, immunostimulation ability, antioxidant activity, and anti-inflammatory effects”. “They are also well-absorbed with good penetration into the tissue surrounding the tympanic membrane (eardrum). They have been found to enhance local immunologic activity. Finally, herbal extracts are well-tolerated, easy to administer, and less expensive than the new antibiotics. There are no documented side effects”.(1)

Another study was done with 103 children between the ages of 6 and 18 years old. The conclusion was that “an ear drop formula of naturopathic origin is as effective as anaesthetic ear drops and was proven appropriate for the management of AOM-associated ear pain”.(2)

Both of these studies used several herbs in the formula, but the two herbs common in both formulas were garlic (allium sativum) and mullein flowers (verbascum thapsus) in a base of olive oil. The formula is known as Garlic Mullein ear oil and I have seen it work wonders for folks since 1996 when I owned and operated a health food store in New York.

The following video shows how to make ear oil. Note that you don’t need to use fresh mullein flowers and that dried mullein flowers can be purchased online from companies that sell dried herbs. However, with dried flowers you would need to heat the oil/flower blend to extract out the medicinal components of the mullein flowers. There are many ways to make ear oil. This is just one example




Glutamine Heavy Exercise & Leaky Gut

Glutamine is one of the most important amino acids for building and maintaining muscles in the human body. Glutamine is also the most common amino acid found in human muscles. If you go through the medical literature you will find studies showing that both physical stress from heavy exercise and emotional stress can cause a glutamine deficiency. The literature also shows that heavy exercise increases intestinal permeability in humans. These studies indicate that heavy exercise should be complemented with glutamine consumption. Researchers have proven that glutamine helps to maintain muscle integrity and to prevent intestinal permeability because it is an essential building block of both.


The following is an example of a common chain of events to be careful of. People who exercise heavily will often take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to deal with the discomfort from injuries induced by the exercise. What these people may not realize is that the anti-inflammatory drugs can cause damage to the intestinal tract leading to intestinal permeability. A person may already be glutamine deficient from the exercise. If they are not supplementing with glutamine they will not have enough in their body to repair the damage done in the intestinal tract from the drug. This results in increased intestinal permeability. The increased intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut syndrome, causes food particles that have not been fully broken down to get absorbed. Those food particles cause a rise in inflammation inside the body. The rise in inflammation may delay the healing of the injured body part and cause a vicious cycle. In summary, the anti-inflammatory drugs cause the person to become more deficient in glutamine leading to more pain and an increasing desire to take more of the anti-inflammatory drugs.


Glutamine supplementation is important for those who choose to exercise heavily. Many books have been written explaining how numerous problematic health conditions arise in the intestinal tract.  If you are undergoing any type of stress I strongly suggest that you make sure that you consume adequate protein and glutamine in your diet and that you avoid anti-inflammatory drugs. There are many anti-inflammatory herbs such as turmeric that do not have harmful side effects but instead have many beneficial properties.


We can make glutamine inside our body from other amino acids provided we have enough of the mineral zinc. That is why they call glutamine a non-essential amino acid. However, zinc deficiencies are very common in all types of individuals. Men are especially prone to zinc deficiencies because men loose zinc with every ejaculation.


Intestinal permeability can be repaired by glutamine supplementation, adequate mineral intake and probiotics. My assurance that I consume enough glutamine comes from SUNWARRIOR protein. I know that what I am doing is working because I took the micronutrient test from SpectraCell laboratories and found that both my glutamine level and my mineral levels were excellent. Just one serving of the Warrior Blend provides 3,470 mg of highly absorbable and utilizable glutamic acid which is another name for glutamine.