In this issue:
- A Note From Lorna
- My Products and the New Canadian Regulations
- Who is Really Doing the Research in HRT Studies?
- When the Body Attacks Itself: Autoimmune Disease
As I sit here to write another newsletter, the final newsletter for 2009, I realize how quickly the time goes by. I have been doing active-release chiropractic care and regular weight training to get my hip back into shape since my surgery in September. My recovery has been slow, but I have faith that with the physiotherapy and nutritional supplements, I should be as good as new shortly.
In this issue, I wanted to give you an update on the federal regulations for natural health products in Canada. Although readers from the U.S. may not think this affects them, any limitation in the ability to purchase natural products anywhere in the world will ultimately affect people in the U.S. as well.
I am also launching a new website next year filled with new information. You will also be able to directly purchase my products, along with all of the products that I love and recommend to you.
Have a wonderful holiday season. Remember to drink two glasses of water to every alcoholic beverage that you consume. When visiting the buffet table at holiday gatherings, fill your plate with vegetables so that you are full before you get to the dessert tray. Sleep eight hours every night. Spend time loving your family and be sure to ask for help with preparations.
Thank you for all your love and support over the years.
My Products and the New Canadian Regulations
Q: When I looked up Lorna Vanderhaeghe products on Health Canada's Licensed Natural Health Products Database, I found that some were not listed as products that had received licensing numbers. I use these products regularly and am quite dismayed that they haven't yet been approved. Why haven't all your products been approved?
A: All natural health products in Canada have to apply for Natural Product Numbers (NPNs). Companies that manufacture/distribute natural products have to provide evidence that the products are safe, that there is human research for the product, and that what is in the bottle is on the label. I have applied for NPNs for all of my products, but like thousands of products on the shelves today, Health Canada has not gotten to us yet. Many of the products currently being sold may not get approved and may not be sold in the future. The products are safe; that is not the concern. The main reason Health Canada is not approving products is because there is no research with all of the ingredients together in the formula. And it will never happen because what supplement company is going to spend millions of dollars in clinical research for their formula when another company can come along and copy that formula tomorrow? It is a shame, and consumers should be very concerned that many natural health products may not be available as early as 2011. I know I am. I urge you to visit the website of the Save Our Natural Health Products, Campaign that was recently launched by the Canadian Health Food Association and follow the instructions on how to get involved.
Who is Really Doing the Research in HRT Studies?
When an article, study or other written work has been "ghostwritten," it means that the actual writer was not the one who took credit. A nameless ghostwriter is usually hired to write about an assigned topic under another person's name. In many circles, this practice is considered standard practice. Writers hired by the drug company Wyeth wrote 26 papers about hormone replacement therapy (HRT), 18 of which appeared in medical journals between 1998 and 2005-and all of which promoted the benefits of HRT drugs while minimizing the risks. These findings were discovered in court documents obtained by lawyers representing women who are suing Wyeth for damages due to serious harm resulting from the use of their hormone drugs. Wyeth manufactures Premarin (conjugated estrogens) and Prempro, which is a combination of Premarin and synthetic progestin (progestins are very different from natural progesterone). The drug company Pfizer, which absorbed Wyeth and its hormone drugs in a recent merger, also manufactures Provera which is synthetic progestins.
Although we know from the Women's Health Initiative study that the use of hormone drugs increases the risk of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, blood clots and Alzheimer's dementia, proponents of HRT continue to promote synthetic hormones as safe. HRT can no longer be recommended to prevent or treat heart disease. Further research has shown that even short-term use can increase breast cancer risk immediately. Even the small benefit of HRT on bone health does not negate the dangers of breast cancer and heart disease. And we cannot trust the bulk of studies when they were not written by independent researchers but rather by writers hired by a drug company with vested interests.
Only 10 to 20 percent of women will require short-term hormone treatment to deal with menopausal symptoms. Remember to read my book Sexy Hormones, coauthored with Dr. Alvin Pettle, MD, to learn everything you need to know about hormones, including how to use natural remedies and/or bioidentical hormones to ease you through the transitional years.
When the Body Attacks Itself: Autoimmune Disease
A balanced immune system normally distinguishes friend from foe and only attacks foreign invaders, avoiding the body's own tissues. But occasionally, our immune system's weaponry turns against itself, causing destruction. We call the illnesses that are a result of this return of friendly fire autoimmune disease, and unfortunately autoimmune diseases are on the rise.
Autoimmune diseases can involve any system in the body, although some organs and tissues appear to be more susceptible than others. There are more than 80 different autoimmune diseases, including:
- ankylosing spondylitis
- rheumatoid arthritis
- multiple sclerosis
- myasthenia gravis
- Graves' disease
- Crohn's or celiac disease
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus
- pernicious anemia
- Hashimoto's thyroiditis
Hereditary factors are involved in your predisposition to the disease, but, as is found in studies involving twins, if one twin is diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, the other has a higher risk but does not necessarily acquire the disease. Many other factors are involved when the immune system turns upon the body.
What Causes Autoimmunity?
There are several theories regarding the cause of autoimmunity, including: viral or bacterial infection and stress. Infection is considered the main culprit as scientists have realized that infection often precedes the onset of an autoimmune diagnosis. Viruses and bacteria have devised methods to avoid detection, thereby allowing themselves access to the body. Some viruses contain amino acids that are so similar to those of the body's tissues and organs that they are thought of as "self" until some anomaly tells otherwise. As a result, the immune system can become confused and think it is attacking an invader (a virus or a bacteria) when it is actually attacking itself.
So why is it that everyone who is exposed to a virus does not acquire an autoimmune disease? Many factors have to be in place for the immune system to become disrupted. Our genetic makeup and a weakened immune system due to stress, poor diet or exposure to environmental toxins all play a hand in whether or not our immunity is affected and the body damaged by itself.
Allergies may be related to autoimmune diseases. Elimination diets or blood tests can determine food hypersensitivities. Many people who suffer from joint inflammation find their symptoms reduced when they eliminate foods from the nightshade family, including peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, paprika and tobacco (cigarette smoking is out). Eliminating sugar, white flour, caffeine, citrus fruits and alcohol, and reducing red meat and dairy products also helps many reduce the devastating effects of autoimmune diseases. Anti-inflammatory diets must limit red meat in order to decrease the levels of arachidonic acid, a powerful inflammatory agent.
Autoimmune states may be caused by delayed food sensitivities that cause leaky gut syndrome (or intestinal permeability problems), whereby undigested food particles are able to enter the bloodstream. Once in the blood, these particles are deposited into other body tissues where the immune system tries to eliminate them and inflammation results. A healthy intestinal lining is impermeable to toxins, but if the lining of the gut is compromised, the immune defenses must work overtime to keep invaders out. A leaky gut continually allows invaders to travel where they should not be, which will initiate an autoimmune response. Probiotics and digestive enzymes are essential in healing a leaky gut.
Plant Sterols and Sterolins Return Balance
Plant sterols and sterolins, which are found in a combination product called Moducare, are effective at restoring, strengthening and balancing the immune system. Numerous types of cells are involved in the immune response; when they malfunction or are suppressed, Moducare balances their individual actions and helps control the inflammation response. This is very crucial because, as mentioned above, autoimmune diseases are caused by the body attacking itself and the disease is made worse by the severe inflammation that occurs.
Vitamin D and Autoimmunity
Good research indicates that vitamin D is essential for cancer prevention and bone health, but we should not forget about its value in the case of autoimmune disease. As Dr. Jonathan Wright, MD, has noted in Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, the autoimmune disease multiple sclerosis is far more common in temperate latitudes away from the equator. As well, other autoimmune diseases occur more often in regions farther north and south of the equator-regions that to do not get as much sunlight, our best source of vitamin D. According to Dr. Wright, "Additional sunlight exposure and/or vitamin D supplementation starting in childhood may significantly reduce the risk of lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and even Type 1 diabetes, which is included in the autoimmune category. And just like the others, vitamin D helps to prevent it.
"In one study, researchers divided pregnant women into several groups and reviewed the women's vitamin D intake. Several years later, the children born to the women who supplemented with vitamin D had fewer cases of Type 1 diabetes. In a follow-up study, children were given 2,000 IU [international units] of vitamin D daily starting at age 1. The researchers found that the children's risk of Type 1 diabetes dropped by 80 percent."
Food sources of vitamin D include egg yolk, herring, trout, mackerel, salmon, sardines and tuna. Earlier this year, after the release of new research on vitamin D and multiple sclerosis (MS), multiple sclerosis experts started recommending 2,000 to 4,000 IU per day. Research presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology indicated that supplementing with high doses of the vitamin can lead to fewer relapses. MS patients who took more vitamin D for one year experienced less disease relapses than those who took less (14 versus 40 percent).
Fatty Acids for Autoimmune Disease fatty acids (EFAs) form the lipid (fat) layer of all cells in the body and control the development of the brain, eye and nervous system. They also influence hormones and help to regulate immunity. Omega-3 fatty acids are abundant in cold-water fish: herring, mackerel, salmon and tuna; and echium, flaxseed and walnut oils. If you have an autoimmune disease, you need to supplement with fairly high doses of omega-3 fatty acids from fish. Or, if you are looking for a vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids, use echium oil.
Echium oil is a "new kid" on the shelves. Echium oil is derived from the seeds of the species Echium plantagineum, a member of the Boraginacea family of plants that includes the borage plant. Echium oil is rich in stearidonic acid, a precursor to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Up until now, EPA has been provided mainly from fish oil and, to a lesser extent, flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil provides less than 10 percent EPA conversion in a healthy person. Echium, on the other hand, provides 30 percent EPA. Echium also contains high levels of gamma linolenic acid, similar to those levels found in borage oil. There is a huge demand for EPA by vegetarians and by those people who are concerned about the impact that fish farms (the main source of fish oil) have on the environment. Also, fish oils have to be heavily processed to remove impurities, PCBs and other toxic substances like mercury. A daily dose of echium oil is anywhere from 250 milligrams to 1.5 grams per day with food.
Read Get a Grip on Arthritis on my website for FREE to learn about the foods that promote or control inflammation. Remember, you can keep autoimmune disease in remission using nutrients, diet changes and an improved lifestyle. Even if you are taking prescription medications like prednisone, methotrexate or other powerful immunosuppressive medications, you can use these three super nutrients-vitamin D, echium oil and Moducare-to help keep your immune system balanced and protect you from the negative side-effects of medication.