Monthly Archives: March 2010

Vitamin D Prevents Heart Disease, Researchers Say

Scientists have long known that vitamin D is essential for absorption of calcium by our bodies. Recently, research about the many benefits of vitamin D has been coming from all over the world. The latest report gives insight into the ability of vitamin D to lower the risk of getting heart disease. “Vitamin D replacement therapy has long been associated with reducing the risk of fractures and diseases of the bone,” explained Dr. Muhlestein, MD, of the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute. “But our findings show that vitamin D could have far greater implications in the treatment and reduction of cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions than we previously thought.” Dr. Muhlestein, along with other researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute conducted their study with roughly 31,000 patients and found that heart disease is directly associated with low levels of vitamin D. Dr. Heidi May, PhD, a cardiovascular clinical epidemiologist and one of the study’s authors explained that “It was very important to discover that the ‘normal’ levels are too low. Giving physicians a higher level to look for gives them one more tool in identifying patients at-risk and offering them better treatment.” Dr. Muhlestein recommends that the average person should get an additional 1000-5000 IU of vitamin D each day. This is best done either by taking readily available supplements or through 20-30 minutes of sunlight exposure, which naturally produces vitamin D.

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Research, And The Portable Infrared Sauna

The Finns popularized the sauna in our modern era, but they are not the only group of people to have a long history involving one form or another of sauna use. Perhaps the most well known group of people to use the sauna other than the Finns is the Native American people. Their sweat lodges were, and are, very similar to the traditional Finnish saunas used today. The modern infrared ray sauna was first pioneered in the early 1900’s in Germany, where infrared ray saunas are still heavily used today. Decades later in Japan, Dr. Tadashi Ishikawa of the Research and Development Department of Fuji Medical was awarded a patent for the first ceramic infrared heater. This laid the foundation for the more efficient carbon coated ceramic infrared heaters that are used today. Infrared ray saunas have gained popularity over the years since they first exploded out of Japan in the 1980’s. Their healing properties have made them very popular among health practitioners and private users alike. Considerable research has gone into demonstrating the effectiveness of FIR (far infrared ray) saunas over the years. In Japan, infrared sauna research and usage has been going on for many years where researchers and clinicians have completed extensive research on infrared treatments. Their reports have many eye catching findings. Some of these findings are as follows: -Improves micro circulation by exerting strong rotational and vibrational effects at molecular level. – Enhances the delivery of oxygen and nutrients in the blood cell to the body’s soft tissue areas. – Promotes regeneration and fast healing. – Increases metabolism between blood and tissue. – Enhances white blood cell function, thereby increasing immune response and the elimination of foreign pathogens and cellular waste products. – Removes accumulated toxins by improving lymph circulation which are often at the core of many health problems. – Stimulate the hypothalamus, which controls the production of neurochemicals involved in such biological processes as sleep, mood, pain sensations, and blood pressure.

portable-infrared-saunaIn Japan, there is an “infrared society” composed of medical doctors and physical therapists dedicated to further infrared research. According to their findings, the health benefits of infrared therapy support the idea that infrared saunas should be seen as a method of healing. Dr. Sasaki Kyuo, M.D., has done extensive research on the therapeutic uses of infrared therapy. She is the author of “The Scientific Basis and Therapeutic Benefits of Far Infrared Ray Therapy.” Dr. Kyuo reports successful treatments of many illnesses by using infrared therapy. The list of illnesses include: facial numbness; shoulder, back, and knee pain; weight loss; lower blood pressure. Dr. Kyuo also explained how research done in the US supports her findings. “One of the reasons FIR has beneficial results in a variety of illnesses is the ability of FIR waves to remove toxins, which are often at the core of many health problems. One study done by American researchers showed that the sweat released by users of a FIR sauna was different than the sweat of people using a conventional sauna or doing normal exercise. The non water portion of sweat released in a FIR sauna was cholesterol, fat soluble toxins, toxic heavy metals, sulfuric acid, sodium, ammonia and uric acid.” The sweat of people using a conventional sauna was found to be 95 to 97% water while the sweat of those using an Far-infrared thermal system was 80 to 85% water with the non-water portion principally cholesterol, fat-soluble toxins, toxic heavy metals (such as mercury and aluminum), sulfuric acid, sodium, ammonia and uric acid. Far-Infrared, Technologies that Harness the Sun, Valerie Free, 2001. After researching infrared saunas, G. E. Poesnecker, N.D., D.C. shared his opinion that “photobiotherapy (far infrared rays) will become one of the premier healing tools of our future. It will eliminate the need for many of today’s common surgical procedures. I can see the day when every household in the country will have a (FIR) unit on hand. When used properly, it is a safe, effective, natural tool that can enhance, rather than oppose, the body’s own innate healing powers.” Just as various ancient cultures have enjoyed the health benefits of the sauna, so also do we get to enjoy the valuable results of infrared saunas. Meanwhile, additional research continues to come out of labs around the globe and show us evermore ways to improve our health and wellness by using FIR saunas.

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Treating Lymphoma With Seaweed Extract

Current methods of lymphoma treatment are beginning to run into obstacles, such as drug resistance, making treatment more difficult. A new study coming out of the Hashemite University in Jordan is showing promising signs that seaweed will provide new and better treatment possibilities. “Some forms of B-cell lymphoma are especially resistant to standard treatment and thus new therapies are needed,” said Mohammad Irhimeh, Ph.D., one of the researchers. “In this study, we looked at a new treatment strategy using novel active compounds derived from a natural source — seaweed.” Researchers found that seaweed extract had an inhibitory effect on the growth of lymphoma cell lines, while leaving the control healthy cells intact. The scientists also saw a prevalent pattern of activity in the genes that are linked with cell death, in lymphoma. More research is planned for seaweed and lymphoma.

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Child Anesthesia and Learning Disabilities

New research was recently published in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism about the practice of anesthetizing children during various medical procedures. Experts are saying that there is a link between repeated anesthesia and memory loss. Klas Blomgren, professor at the Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital and researcher at the Sahlgrenska Academy explains that “this is a theory that is also supported by foreign research. Paediatric anaesthetists have long suspected that children who are anaesthetised repeatedly over the course of just a few years may suffer from impaired memory and learning.” “We found that repeated anaesthesia wiped out a large portion of the stem cells in the hippocampus, an area of the brain that is important for memory,” said Blomgren. The study did have what appears to be a positive out-come. Blomgren explained that “the stem cells in the hippocampus can form new nerve and glial cells, and the formation of nerve cells is considered important for our memory function.” He went on to explain that physical exercise stimulates the production of new cells and that “the new nerve cells seem to work better in animals that exercise. Now that we know this, we can come up with treatments that prevent or reverse the loss of ostem cells after repeated anaesthesia.”

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Eight Year Olds Like Cross Country Skiing Too

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been taking my 13 and 12 year old daughters cross country skiing in the mountains.  So, on Saturday I thought that I would give my eight year old Jinger a chance.  We skied in the Brian Head Ski Resort area.  She was a bit frustrated in the beginning, but then she caught on very well.  She did not complain about the cold, the wind or the distance.  Attached is a picture showing Saige and Jinger at our very beautiful lunch spot.  On our ride home, Jinger said, “I hope that we can going skiing again soon.”

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Negative Ions and Purified Air

Negative ions vs. Filter-type air cleaner – Negative ions cleanse the air by attaching itself to dust, pollen or other particulates which in turn causes these particulates to stick together and fall to the ground, removing them from the air. An air cleaner requires a blower to suck the surrounding air through the filter, while still allowing smaller particles through.  The resulting forced output can actually stir up more particulates. With a salt lamp negative ions are naturally generated and can spread throughout a room and purify without the generation of disturbing air flow.  The reaction of moisture with the surface of Himalayan salt increases the level of negative ions, which can be released even further with the heat from a bulb.  Since Himalayan salt is hygroscopic, the lamp should be left on all of the time in humid areas.

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Portable Infrared Sauna Set-Up

Enjoy this quick visual guide to setting up a portable infrared sauna. Setting up the FIR-Real portable sauna is a no-brainer, but it is still useful to have a handy visual guide to watch in the case that part of the set-up is not all of the way clear. Modeling by Lauren Snow.

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Sunshine And Skin Cancer: Part I of II

Contrasting reports, conflicting evidence, and dazzling displays of monetarily driven misinformation have complicated the task of figuring out what the effects of exposure to sunshine can have on human wellbeing. Confusion about skin cancer, sunscreen, and general exposure to sunlight being either beneficial or detrimental is due to various factors, one of which is the belief that sunshine is either one, or the other; good or bad. By polarizing the conversation about the effects of sun exposure, the ability to find comprehensive answers to questions is made much more difficult. The majority of prominent health institutions clearly state that sun exposure is harmful, period. “Protection from sun exposure is important all year round, not just during the summer or at the beach. Ultraviolet (UV) rays can reach you on cloudy and hazy days, as well as bright and sunny days. UV rays also reflect off of surfaces like water, cement, sand, and snow. The CDC recommends easy options for sun protection: 1. Use sunscreen with sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher, and both UVA and UVB protection. 2. Wear clothing to protect exposed skin. 3. Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears, and neck. 4. Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100% of both UVA and UVB rays as possible. 5. Seek shade, especially during midday hours.” –Center for Disease Control Meanwhile, popular alternative medicine practitioners continually express views that are completely opposite of the mainstream institution’s statements about sun exposure and skin cancer. “UVA rays produce a tan that not only makes your skin more pleasing in appearance, but is also your body’s natural defense against sunburn. Exposure to the sun has many benefits…The key is to never burn.” –Dr. Joseph Mercola Most controversies are presented in extremes, just like the issue of skin cancer and sun exposure. Stepping back and breifly looking at a few of the basics surrounding the issue will give us the information we need in order know exactly which portions of which claims are accurate. There are three Types of Skin Cancer: Basal cell carcinoma –The most common form of cancer worldwide. In the United States, it accounts for approximately 80 percent of all skin cancers. The majority of basal cell carcinomas are easily and successfully treated with current therapies. Basal cell carcinomas rarely spread throughout the body, and deaths from this disease are very rare. However, because basal cell carcinomas often occur on the face, they can cause serious cosmetic damage if not diagnosed and treated early. Squamous cell carcinoma –The second most common form of skin cancer, accounting for about 20 percent of skin cancers in the United States. The vast majority of squamous cell carcinomas can be cured when detected early. However, this type of skin cancer can be more difficult to treat and can cause cosmetic damage if not treated immediately. Squamous cell tumors can be more aggressive than basal cell tumors and are slightly more likely to spread to other parts of the body. Melanoma –The aggressive and often deadly form of skin cancer that begins in skin cells called melanocytes, which produce the pigment melanin. Melanoma is not as common as the two other major types of skin cancer (basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma) – the average lifetime risk of developing skin melanoma is about 1 percent. Much of the confusion regarding the connection between sunshine and skin cancer can be traced back to the public’s inability to differentiate the first two types of relatively benign cancers from the third, and often deadly cancer, Melanoma. According to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, “Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the single most important cause of skin cancer, especially when the overexposure resulted in sunburn and blistering.” This is a true statement that can be misleading if we don’t ask which skin cancers they are referring to. Further inquiry would reveal that “although it is clear that UV radiation can damage DNA, and that high levels of sun exposure are associated with melanoma risk, the exact relationship between UV exposure and melanoma remains unclear.” – Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Here we see the same renowned cancer center seemingly contradicting itself, when in reality it is simply clarifying. Melanoma, the aggressive and often deadly skin cancer that most Americans fear, has not actually been clearly connected to the sun’s UV exposure. Due to genuine concerns on both ends of the argument, cancer centers and alternative medicine practitioners both are guilty of exaggerating portions of the scientific evidence that suit their respective agendas. The public at large is best served by knowing basic facts, which prepares them to better interpret information from all the various experts. This also serves to build a healthy (verses a blind trust) trust in the many media outlets, recognized medical experts and alternative medical sources. Knowing that there is more than one type of skin cancer and that the causes for Melanoma are still being established is key for consumers. This is a great starting place. Look for Part II of Sunshine And Skin Cancer, where I will explain the causes of the other two skin cancers, whether or not sunscreen helps to prevent any type of skin cancer, natural prevention claims etc. Talk to you then!

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Gestational Diabetes and Pregnancy Weight Gain

Weight gain for a pregnant woman seems like a given to most people. What most of us don’t think about is how much weight can be gained without posing a health risk to the mother and the child. Resent conclusions coming out of an ongoing study are revealing that there are indeed dangers in a pregnant woman gaining too much weight -the danger of gestational diabetes to be specific. Researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research are reporting that women who gain more weight than is recommended by the Institute of Medicine have a 50% increased risk of developing GDM (gestational diabetes mellitus). Their study involved nearly 1,200 women from varying ethnic backgrounds over a three year period of time. The danger of pregnant women developing gestational diabetes is that it causes complications in as much as seven percent of pregnancies in the United States. GDM can lead to C-sections, early delivery and type 2 diabetes, and increases the child’s risk of developing obesity and diabetes later in life. Monique Hedderson, PhD, a scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research and lead researcher recommended that “health care providers should talk to their patients early in their pregnancy about the appropriate gestational weight gain, especially during the first trimester, and help women monitor their weight gain. Our research shows that weight gain in early pregnancy is a modifiable risk factor for gestational diabetes.”

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New Research: Garlic Fights Cancer

Garlic has long been held in high regard as an effective and natural source for healing. New research is giving credence to garlic as a potent method of preventing and mitigating the destructive influences of cancer. Scientists from Ohio State University’s Comprehensive Cancer Center have created a new method for testing urine that shows a person’s  garlic consumption levels, as well as the risk for cancer. The study’s lead researcher Earl Harrison explained: “What we were after was developing a method where we could measure in urine two different compounds, one related to the risk for cancer, and the other, which indicates the extent of consumption of garlic.” “Our results showed that those were inversely related to one another — meaning that the more we had the marker for garlic consumption, the less there was of the marker for the risk of cancer.” The trend towards using nutrition as a means of fighting and preventing cancer is encouraging. More and more people look to garlic as one of the many remedies that nature provides for an ailing humanity.

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