Dear Friends,

Many of you have emailed me over the last couple of months asking, "How come I have not sent out a newsletter?" It has been a challenging couple of months for me as I was in a terrible car accident. Now that I am feeling better I am back to sending out regular newsletters.

My favorite time of year is the December holiday season. Houses are lit up with twinkling lights and the air is crisp and refreshing. Festivities abound to be shared with friends and family. And of course delicious food and drink overflows our waistbands. Every year we make promises to ourselves that this year we won't eat so many rum balls, shortbread cookies or drink too many glasses of cheer. Hopefully this year we will all succeed in this endeavor. Especially, because some of our natural weight loss supplements are on the governments hit list – albeit wrongly.

Last year ephedra was removed from shelves in Canada and the United States due to safety concerns. Now synephrine from Citrus aurantium also called Bitter orange, a safe ephedra alternative, is on both the U.S. FDA's and the Canadian NHPD's radar screen.

A report presented by the FDA and reported in the New York Times in April of 2004 stated that seven deaths and 85 adverse reactions had been reported in those using synephrine in the United States. Through the Freedom of Information Act, Marc Ullman a U.S. attorney who has many clients in the natural food industry requested back up documentation for these adverse events claims. Over a month after the request was made the FDA disclosed it had conducted no research whatsoever concerning either the safety or efficacy of Citrus aurantium. When the adverse reports were evaluated it was found that there were only 20 events out of the millions of people using natural diet aids and many were associated with the use of ephedra or other stimulants or in the case of the supposed deaths one person died of a shotgun blast to the chest not a nutritional supplement. Of the adverse events here are some examples of the reports: One person collapsed after taking an ephedra weight-loss supplement that included bitter orange. At the hospital a blood analysis was conducted and the presence of both amphetamines and barbiturates were found in the person’s blood. Another report involved a consumer who was using an ephedra diet pill that contained Citrus aurantium and reported it had caused a stroke. Medical records included in the file sadly indicated the person was actually suffering from a brain tumor. Another adverse report showed a consumer using a product combining Citrus aurantium and kola nut causing a seizure and a heart attack. The medical history showed the consumer had had three heart attacks and used cocaine and amphetamines. The fact that these reports, and dozens like them, are being used to take our natural products off the shelf is ridiculous.

Dozens and dozens of prescription and over-the-counter drugs are still being sold although they have killed countless individuals. In 2002 Health Canada sent out a warning to physicians about Celebrex, a popular arthritis drug, saying it had killed over a dozen people in its first year of use and had 70 adverse events associated with gastrointestinal bleeding yet it is still being sold today. We have a terrible double-standard for the health food industry. Products should be evaluated for their safety, efficacy, clinical research, years of traditional use before they are put on the shelf and if adverse events are reported they should be evaluated properly before being added to the file. As is the case with synephrine there were no true adverse events related soley to this ingredient. I will be watching to see what happens with synephrine in the coming year. In the meantime do watch your waistline this Holiday Season!

Each month in this newsletter I am going to include a condition from my Women's Guide to Vibrant Health book. This month I am starting with Hormonal Acne.

ACNE (hormonal)

During puberty, peri-menopause and menopause sebaceous (oil) glands become more active. Pores can become clogged with sebum, dried skin and bacteria, causing skin to erupt into pimples, red blotches and sometimes inflamed and infected abscesses. Acne normally appears on the face, shoulders, scalp, upper arms and legs, upper chest and back. More than 40 percent of teens seek treatment from a specialist for their acne condition. Hormonal acne break-outs tend to occur during ovulation or the week before menstruation. In those women with hormonally induced acne, when the ovary releases the egg, it often is not able to completely release it. When this occurs, androgens (male hormones) are secreted in excess and women develop acne around the hair line, chin and chest and back. To correct hormonal acne many doctors prescribe birth control pills to stop ovulation. (Today we have 12-year- olds on birth control pills to control acne.) Nutritional supplements can normalize ovulation and eliminate the problem at the source. Even mild episodes of acne can lead to scarring, and scars can be both physical and psychological.

There are various types of skin lesions: a papule is a round bump that may be invisible but makes the skin feel rough like sandpaper. A comedo occurs when an oil follicle becomes plugged with oil, dead skin, tiny hairs or bacteria. An open comedo is known as a blackhead, and a closed comedo is commonly referred to as a whitehead. The temporary red or pink spot after an acne lesion has healed is referred to as a macule, and several together contribute to the appearance of inflammation associated with acne. A nodule is another dome-shaped lesion similar to a papule, but it extends deeper into the skin causing the destruction of tissues that leads to scarring. Nodules can be painful, as can cysts which are filled with liquid, can be severely inflamed and also affect deeper skin layers.

While food choices have been hotly debated as a cause of acne for years, research out of the University of Colorado is confirming that a diet high in refined carbohydrates permanently boosts insulin and thus promotes acne. According to Dr. Loren Cordain, sustained high insulin levels elevate hormone levels, stimulating the production of oil that leads to clogged pores, bacterial growth and acne. High-glycemic foods such as breads, cakes, sugars and soda are major culprits in acne. Although acne is epidemic in our society, it is virtually unknown in New Guinea and the Amazon where diets focus on fruits and vegetables. Those with acne should be conscious of foods that aggravate the condition. Acne is also associated with low stomach acidity, suggesting incomplete food breakdown and imbalances in the digestive tract. With the shift between male hormones and female hormones during the menstrual cycle, acne lesions change. Synthetic progestins and estrogens used for menopausal symptoms, supplements of DHEA, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome and estrogen dominance have been linked to acne. Other drugs such as corticosteroids, anabolic steroids, iodides and bromides are also known to cause acne, as are cosmetics that block pores.

Click here to read the complete prescription for healthy skin and health tips to enhance healing.