Cleaning products could be causing infants’ obesity epidemic

Household cleaners and disinfectants could be the cause of the obesity epidemic among infants and toddlers.

The products change the children’s gut microbiome which helps regulate their weight, new research has discovered. The only safe cleaning agents to use are eco-friendly ones, which don’t have the same bad effects.

Infants who live in homes that use standard disinfectants at least once a week were twice as likely to have higher levels of gut microbes, known as Lachnospiraceae, which are linked to weight gain.

Children who were overweight or obese by the time they were three years of age already had changed bacteria in their gut, known as the microbiome, when they were four months old.

Canadian researchers found a direct link between a changed gut microbiome—with a depletion of bacteria such as Haemophilus and Clostridium and an increase of Lachnospiraceae—and the number of times that disinfectants, such as multi-surface cleaners, were used around the home.

University of Alberta researchers analysed the gut flora of 757 infants, aged between three and four months, and checked their weight from the age of one and until they were three years old. The children with raised levels of Lachnospiraceae as infants had a higher BMI (body mass index) score by the time they were three.

But those who lived in homes that used eco-friendly cleaning products weren’t affected. These infants had different gut bacteria that didn’t seem to influence weight gain, said lead researcher Anita Kozyrskyj. People who use eco-friendly products also tend to lead healthier lifestyles and eat a better diet, and this too may have had an influence on their children’s weight.

To take a look at our suggested eco friendly cleaning products in the US, click here

For UK brands, click here

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Antibiotics raise risk of heart disease and cancer

Although antibiotics can be life-saving drugs, they also raise the risk for a range of other serious chronic conditions, including heart disease and some cancers, new research has found.

This is because antibiotics destroy the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut that protect against infections and inflammation, and inflammation is the key to many chronic diseases, from arthritis, heart problems and cancer.

Although medicine accepts that over-use of antibiotics leads to resistance and ‘super bugs’, it can also be the gateway drug to most of the chronic diseases that afflict the West.

Researchers from the dental school at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland analysed the effect that antibiotics have on the bacteria in our mouths, and discovered the drugs stripped out the ones that fight inflammation and fungal infection such as Candida.

The drugs killed the short-chain fatty acids that are produced by the body’s ‘good’ bacteria. As lead researcher Pushpa Pandiyan said: “We have good bacteria doing good work every day, so why kill them? As is the case with many infections, if you leave them alone, they will leave on their own.”

In other words, antibiotics should be restricted only to life-or-death emergency infections; the body’s own natural defence mechanisms can deal with the rest.

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Oxygen-ozone injection therapy: curing joint and back pain

Celeste McGovern investigates the oxygen-ozone injection therapy that is putting an end to thousands of people’s joint and back pain and may radically change medicine

Dean Johnson first ran into trouble with his shoulders when he was 14 years old. He played rugby, and every other game or so, at least one shoulder would painfully jostle out of its socket because of his tendency to be hyperflexible. At 17, doctors drilled a hole through his collar bone, threaded a sinew grafted from his left leg through the hole, and attached it to his first rib and sternum in an attempt to stabilize his shoulder.

Three more surgeries followed over the next 15 years to remove and replace the surgical screws and staples that had chipped his shoulder bone. Not surprisingly, none of this did anything to alleviate Johnson’s chronic pain. His job as an IT manager in Bedford, England, sitting at a computer all day, hardly helped matters.

“The pain stopped me from running,” he says. “I couldn’t play soccer. I couldn’t do anything for any prolonged period of time.” He developed tennis elbow that he thought was stemming from the pain in his shoulder. Physical therapy didn’t help. His doctor offered more surgery and painkillers—nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like naproxen, diclofenac and a mixture of various opiates. “None of that worked,” Johnson says. “It just gave me a bad stomach and didn’t really help at all.”

After turning to the internet for alternatives, Johnson came across Oliver Eaton, an osteopath and co-director of the ProHealth Clinic, with three locations in England, who offered oxygen-ozone gas injections as part of his pain and regenerative medicine practice. Johnson started the first round of injections of a mixture of oxygen and ozone gas in his shoulders and elbow in March this year. Procaine, an anesthetic, is added to the injection to ease the pain of the procedure.

The next day he began to notice that he was more mobile and less painful in the areas that had been injected. Two more rounds of injections followed a few weeks apart, and he was astonished at the continued improvement.

Now, the 41-year-old wants others who are “living on painkillers” to know about the treatment. “Not only did it fix my shoulders, it also fixed my tennis elbow, which wouldn’t heal due to problems in my shoulder,” he says. “At this moment, I am feeling better than I have in years. I’m finally able to start playing sports again due to increased strength in my arms and lack of pain in my back. If I do overexert myself, it repairs quickly, whereas before it would just stay with me.”

Miracle therapy or toxic gas?

A chronic debilitating pain that goes away with a few inexpensive treatments that take minutes to administer sounds too good to be true. Ozone injections for joint and back pain (and ozone therapy in general) are dismissed as dangerous quack medicine by conventional doctors in the US and UK, and the practice is relatively unheard of by the general public.

Since 1974, the US Food and Drug Administration has called ozone a “toxic gas with no known useful medical application.” Yet hundreds of patients like Dean Johnson testify to ozone injections transforming their lives, melting away years of pain and disability in degenerated knees and hips, herniated discs, frozen shoulders, injured feet and more. They cancel surgery, ditch their canes and throw away their prescription painkillers.

More than 26,000 physicians use ozone in 31 countries, including Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, Cuba and China, and a growing number in North America are adopting the practice. Many of them cite an expanding body of peer-reviewed medical papers describing tens of thousands of patients who received the treatment, with an astonishing 70-80 percent success rate and negligible side-effects.

Studies often include before and after MRI images—bulging hernias disappear, and cartilage appears to regenerate in ways conventional orthopedic surgeons say is impossible.

Multiple studies have concluded that ozone should be a first-line treatment for spinal pain among the half-million Americans lined up for surgery for low back problems, and also for osteoarthritis, which afflicts 30 million people in the United States alone, costing the healthcare system a staggering $16.5 billion annually—more than 4 percent of all the money spent on hospitalizations in this country.1

While back pain and arthritis are the most prevalent conditions shown to improve with ozone, they are certainly not the only ones. Recent studies show ozonated water and olive oil are capable of killing bacteria on teeth subjected to root canals, for example.2 A study published this year shows photographs of animal and human eye infections dramatically healed by ozone after standard treatments failed.3

It’s even been shown to be an effective treatment for liver abscesses4 and to improve the survival rate of patients with severe hepatitis.5

Ozone modulates the immune system, and this feature is thought to be the reason why it’s effective for treating asthma,6reducing brain damage after strokes,7 and lowering the risk of a repeat heart attack or the development of arrhythmias after a first heart attack.8

Orthopedic revolution

In the 1970s, Dr Alexander Balkanyi of Zurich, Switzerland, used ozone injections to treat muscle and tendon pain, and soon afterwards others began injecting it into damaged joints. Dr Frank Shallenberger was one of the first to introduce the therapy to the United States. A former emergency doctor turned alternative and homeopathic physician who runs the Nevada Center of Alternative and Anti-Aging Medicine in Carson, Nevada, Shallenberger told WDDTY he learned about ozone on a trip to Germany in the early ’80s. “When I got back, I found myself surrounded by all these patients in pain with arthritic and degenerative joints and just started injecting, and they got better. It was astonishing.”

Now he sits on the International Scientific Committee on Ozone, and he’s formed the American Academy of Ozonotherapy to promote and standardize medical use of the gas. More than a dozen studies on the injection of ozone into joints bear out Shallenberger’s experience, and in 2017 the first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of ozone in knee arthritis was published.

The researchers, from Paulista School of Medicine at Sao Paulo Federal University in Brazil, separated 98 patients with painful osteoarthritis into two groups. Every week for eight weeks, 63 patients received a 10-mL injection of an ozone gas mixture into their more painful and restricted knee, and 35 patients were injected with a placebo shot of air into their more troublesome knee. Neither the patients nor the doctors knew who was getting what.

On every scale of pain and mobility that was measured, the outcomes were dramatically better in the treatment group, prompting the research team to conclude that ozone “reduced osteoarthritis-associated pain, improved joint function, and enhanced quality of life of patients with knee osteoarthritis.”9

Sylvia Jenson of Warrington, England, was immobile and couldn’t put any pressure on her left leg before having ozone injections in her knees. “I had to have a walking stick even to get out of bed,” she says. She was prescribed NSAID painkillers that kept her awake at night “with all the troubles with my stomach,” and her doctor advised knee surgery. Her physical therapist told her not to walk or stand for more than 10 minutes in the meantime.

After three rounds of injections at Eaton’s clinic, Jenson got rid of her cane and quit her painkillers.

“In fact, the other week I went for a walk for a mile and had no pain at all afterwards,” she says.

Back pain

A similar success rate is being reported for painful disc herniations or ‘slipped discs.’ A 2016 study reported the results of 84 Italian patients with low back pain, all of whom had followed standard medical drug treatment for at least two years and declined surgery. Among the 84 people included in the study, 77 (93 percent) reported alleviation of symptoms immediately after the therapy: 42 (50 percent) experienced total pain relief and 35 (43 percent) experienced partial pain relief. None of them had any detectable side-effects.

The numbers are striking, but the images included in the study are even more so. A CT scan of a 66-year-old woman shows disc herniation between lumbar discs 4 and 5, which never changed over three years of medical treatment. A scan taken one month after oxygen-ozone therapy shows the herniation had completely disappeared.10

63,000 cases in Italy alone

A 2015 review paper examining the ozone treatment used for spinal pain describes the “rapid dissipation of pain” from a single ozone injection. Researchers led by Velio Bocci at the University of Siena report that about 63,000 patients have been treated in Italy with intradiscal ozone injections, or injections directly into the fluid in their spinal discs, with an overall 80 percent success rate at cutting pain, making it a “method of choice” for spinal disc herniation.

It also describes treatment with a “technically simple” series of up to four injections that go in between the discs near the area of pain—the method employed by Shallenberger and Eaton. These injections are usually given up to twice a week for five or six weeks. “It has been defined as ‘chemical acupuncture’ because both the needle and gas injection have a role in eliciting a complex series of chemical and neurological reactions leading to the disappearance of pain in the majority (positive responses in 70-80 percent of cases) of patients with low spinal pain.”11

Lasting effects

Patients may improve for a month, but does ozone really make lasting changes? A study published in the International Journal of Spine Surgery in 2014 claims to be the first to look at how patients are doing long-term after ozone spinal injections—five and 10 years later. Based on MRI scans, 79 percent of patients had a reduction in herniation volume, and the average reduction was 56 percent.

Among the 108 patients who underwent ozone treatment included in the study, 89 did not have any subsequent back surgery, and in this group, 82 percent had improvement at five years, and 88 percent had improvement at 10 years after receiving the ozone injections. Since the ozone injections were also very safe, the researchers concluded that “the risk reward profile for this treatment is favorable.”12

More than joints

Besides the joints, preliminary research shows that ozone has longer-lasting effects than injected steroids for plantar fasciitis, a painful foot condition caused by inflammation of the connective tissue that connects the heel to the toes.13 And a pilot study published in 2017 found that ozone was “very effective” for treating 10 patients with adhesive capsulitis or ‘frozen shoulder,’ a painful, chronic condition of the shoulder that can immobilize the entire arm and disrupt sleep.14

David Brownstein, a holistic family doctor in Bloomfield, Michigan, and author of Ozone: the Miracle Therapy (2017 Medical Alternatives Press), uses the gas to help frozen shoulder, arthritis, sprains and strains, as well as ligament and tendon tears, and claims an 80 to 90 percent success rate in reducing pain.

As Robert Rowen, MD, of Santa Rosa, California, puts it, “I use it for anything that hurts.” Rowen’s YouTube channel features videos of hundreds of his patients, walking more easily after injections, raising arms they couldn’t raise before, smiling about months or years of dissipating pain. Alix Mayer injured her shoulder five years ago when her dog yanked on his leash. A year later when her “frozen shoulder” was still bothering her, she went to see Rowen for an injection of prolozone (see box, page 37). One round of shots fixed her permanently, she says, and she hasn’t needed to return for more treatment. “It’s been amazing for me,” she says.

A pain fix, and more

Degenerating cartilage is a stubborn problem in current conventional medicine. Most orthopedic specialists would say that joint wear and tear is an irreversible process that only goes downhill, and there is no universally accepted treatment to prevent or stop it.

However, the before and after images and corresponding pain scores of patients reported in new ozone research don’t fit with this theory, and it is going to be increasingly difficult for the medical establishment to disregard a tool if it works for such a huge number of afflicted people.

Many of the mechanisms of ozone’s anti-inflammatory capabilities have now been described in the medical literature. And researchers have finally begun to elucidate the mechanisms behind its capacity to regenerate cartilage and repair damaged tissue.15

When Shallenberger first began using ozone injections more than 30 years ago, he started to wonder about the processes underlying pain, given the oxygen-ozone miracles he was seeing. “I knew oxygen had something to do with it,” he says. “Decreased oxygen utilization is at the root of all chronic disease,” and it’s “fundamental to chronic pain and tissue degeneration.”

When ankle and knee injuries won’t heal, for example, he says it is because low oxygen metabolism leads to free radicals, which damage tissue and increase inflammation and swelling, and go on to perpetuate the injury and lead to even lower oxygen. Ozone, he says, breaks the vicious cycle “so cells and tissues can begin to do what they usually do so well—heal themselves.”

Although about 10 to 15 percent of patients don’t respond to ozone treatment, he can’t think of another therapy with so many benefits, so many potential applications, and such a favorable safety profile. “This is not just another drug,” he says. “This really is an entirely new principal with the potential to radically change medicine.”

Ozone is among the fastest growing alternative health therapies, and Shallenberger suspects that it will be “commonplace” in a decade or so because of the satisfaction it generates. “In all of medicine, as a doctor, there is nothing as much fun as taking pain away from an individual, especially if that pain is life-destroying. It’s the most fun any doctor could have.”

What is ozone?

When oxygen gas (O2) is exposed to UV radiation or electricity, such as from lightning, the jolt of energy causes it to form ozone (O3)—the gas that gives the air its characteristic fresh smell after a lightning storm.

Carrying an extra oxygen atom, ozone gas is much more reactive than the regular oxygen we breathe in air. It breaks down rapidly, which is why you can’t buy it bottled or have it shipped to you.

When scientists learned how to generate ozone in the laboratory in the 1840s, they recognized its antimicrobial properties. It was first used to disinfect hospitals in 1856, and it was employed as a germicide before antibiotics. In World War I, German doctors used it to treat soldiers with gangrene.

Ozone also revolutionized public health. The first ozone water treatment facility was built in Monaco in 1860, and in 1901, in the wake of a cholera epidemic that claimed 30,000 lives in the city of Hamburg, ozone water treatment plants also began to appear in Germany. There are still thousands of ozone water treatment plants in operation around the world.1

Because of its well-known antibacterial and antifungal effects, alternative practitioners use ozone gas that they synthesize on site to treat a range of conditions they suspect to have an underlying infectious cause, from autoimmune disease to fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and even cancer.

Ozone needs to be made from pure medical-grade oxygen, and since it is so reactive, it must also be made using inert (non-reactive) materials. The gas also can’t be shipped or stored for long periods of time.

Back in action

In patients with low back pain, ozone relieved pain and dramatically improved slipped discs on CT scans.

Safety profile: ozone vs surgery

Anytime you break the skin with a needle, there is risk—a risk of infection, a risk of injury and a risk of provoking the immune system to respond unpredictably.

Considering how extensively oxygen-ozone gas injections have been used in Europe (see main story), with 70 to 80 percent of patients benefiting from the therapy, there are very few reported adverse events, which suggests it is a very low-risk procedure.

For example, a 2017 study on the intradiscal injection of ozone—the most technically demanding ozone-injection procedure for back pain—reports that the risk of complications is 0.1 percent, equivalent to one in 1,000 patients.1

University of Siena physiology professor Velio Bocci, author of Ozone: A New Drug (Springer, 2014), published a review of the therapy for spinal treatment that describes the importance of precisely calculated ozone concentration in the syringe. Below 18-20 μg/mL, it won’t work. Higher than 20 μg/mL, the treatment becomes too painful and may cause dizziness or fainting.2

Ozone is toxic to lung tissue, and when inhaled, it can cause chest pain, coughing, shortness of breath and lung irritation, but no cases of this have been reported in relation to medical therapy, in which the ozone is injected at the site of pain and the lungs are never exposed.

One case study describes an infectious abscess resulting from spinal injection of ozone and cites only two other documented cases of infection following ozone injection—all of these patients were successfully cured.3

On the other hand, about one in 25 people will develop an infection following spinal surgery. The British Association of Spine Surgeons (BASS) estimates that about one in every 350 people who have surgery to treat spinal stenosis will die from complications of the surgery, as will about one in every 700 people who have surgery to correct a slipped disc.

There is also the risk of nerve injury: about one in 300 people who undergo back surgery are left paralyzed. There’s a 2 to 17 percent chance of having the dura—the protective covering surrounding the spine—torn, leaving the nerves exposed. There are also the risks of cerebrospinal fluid leakage and of developing dangerous blood clots.

Patients are additionally warned that symptoms may recur or worsen due to the surgery weakening the spine, causing another slipped disc, or from scarring, which can cause symptoms similar to nerve compression. Roughly one in 20 to one in 100 patients will develop new numbness or weakness in one or both legs as a result of the operation.4

No steroids necessary

Mainstream medical treatment for arthritis involves injecting steroids into the joints of patients with pain. Although many patients experience short-term pain reduction, a 2015 Cochrane Collaboration review of the research calls the benefits of the procedure “unclear” and notes there is no evidence to suggest any benefit at all six months after treatment.1

In fact, other research has found that steroids are associated with significant damage to cartilage and toxicity to the cells (chondrocytes) that build cartilage, especially at high doses or over long periods of treatment.2

In a 2013 study, Chinese researchers compared the effects of injecting the standard ozone-oxygen mixture into the spines of people with low back pain to those of injecting ozone and oxygen along with a steroid. At check-ups six and 12 months after the procedure, the researchers found that the patients who received the steroid in addition to the ozone mixture fared no better than those treated with ozone alone.3

Ozone, prolozone, prolotherapy or PRP?

Prolotherapy is the process of adding an irritant to the joint capsule, which seems to rev up the metabolism and kick pain-relieving mechanisms into gear. The sugar dextrose is the most common irritant used in prolotherapy, and a number of studies have shown that it helps. Hyaluronic acid, which has been linked to joint repair, has been tested recently. One study compared the injection of a mixture of oxygen and ozone gas against hyaluronic acid injection in arthritic knees and found that both had lasting benefits to patients.1

Injecting platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is another new therapy. A 2018 randomized, double-blind study divided 42 patients with knee osteoarthritis into two groups receiving either the usual prolotherapy (dextrose) injections or PRP and found that six months later, the PRP patients had experienced a significantly greater improvement in function.2

Joint injections can be quite painful for a few minutes, especially if the area is already inflamed. When holistic doctor Frank Shallenberger of the Nevada Center of Alternative and Anti-Aging Medicine started injecting oxygen-ozone gas into joints three decades ago, one of his patients asked why he couldn’t put a little painkiller in the injection. He thought it was a good idea, especially when he learned that the local anesthetic procaine actually has the ability to restore membrane potential to cells.

After adding procaine and finding that patients responded even better, Shallenberger christened his new mixture ‘Prolozone.’ Over time, he has also added vitamins and minerals that assist healing, along with anti-inflammatories and a small amount of the dextrose used in prolotherapy.

Although most scientific studies have focused on injected ozone alone, Shallenberger maintains that, “When you add these other things in, you really see results.”

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Fighting fit: reversing ageing

New discoveries in science suggest that we can reprogram our cells to reverse aging, but many natural substances can also turn back the clock—as Cate Montana discovered.

Science is bringing us closer and closer to slowing and reversing aging—a remarkably complex and poorly understood process that all human beings undergo, albeit often reluctantly. And breakthroughs can’t come soon enough. According to the United Nations World Population Prospects, by the year 2050 over 2.5 billion people on the planet will be 60 years old or older, which means figuring out how to age “successfully”—living well into one’s eighties and nineties in good health—is a top global priority for scientists and health care providers.

In December 2016, an article in Cell magazine turned the scientific community on its ear, citing a study where aging mouse and human cells were rejuvenated by “reprogramming” them with something called Yamanaka factors—proteins that normally help duplicate DNA information, but that also have the capacity to convert mature cells into stem cells—mitigating aging and extending the lifespan of the mouse.

This cellular reprogramming also improved the regenerative capacity of the pancreas and muscles of aging mice after injuries. The takeaway? We may now have the potential to reverse the time-dependent deterioration of cellular structures (called ‘senescence’), DNA damage, and epigenetic changes (altering the rate at which genes are converted to proteins, based on environmental influences) that are some of the primary causes of aging.

The many ways we age

We age in many ways for many reasons. Our DNA is a repository of some 20,000 functional genes (‘protein-coding DNA’), along with millions of additional genetic sequences (‘non-coding DNA’) whose function is not yet well understood, that instruct every cell in the body how to construct and maintain our physical form. Like thread around a spool, DNA is wrapped around proteins called histones in the nucleus of every cell to form chromosomes. With every cell division, the chromosomes are copied in a process called DNA replication, passing on the complete genetic code to each new cell.

Each chromosome has a protective ‘end cap’ made of non-coding DNA called the telomere, and every time the chromosome is ‘unspooled’ to be copied, the telomere gets a little bit shorter. The shorter the telomere, the more times a cell has divided and the ‘older’ it is. Other factors, such as emotional, oxidative and inflammatory stress, can also shorten telomeres.

When the telomere wears away completely, the DNA is no longer protected from the cellular environment, like fraying at the end of a rope. This can lead to errors in the replication process, which in turn cause cell death or even a transformation in the cell’s behavior—often in the form of cancer—that can threaten the wellbeing of the whole organism.

DNA methylation is another critical process in the body that changes with age. This is the mechanism by which a ‘methyl’ molecule (a carbon atom surrounded by three hydrogen atoms) attaches to the DNA strand and acts like a roadblock to prevent a particular gene from being used. This process of ‘gene silencing’ stops the cell from being able to create all the proteins it needs to function correctly, contributing to age-related diseases such as cancer, osteoarthritis, neurodegeneration and dementia.1

Then there is DNA oxidation, where reactive oxygen species (ROS)—chemicals containing highly reactive charged oxygen atoms such as peroxides, superoxides and hydroxyl radicals— damage the mitochondria and DNA, resulting in a multitude of problems often associated with aging, including cancer, insulin resistance, diabetes, atherosclerosis and heart disease, along with impaired immune defense, vascular health and intracellular signaling.

As we get older, the creation of stem cells—the undifferentiated cells necessary for organ and tissue repair—also slows down. Mitochondria, the tiny power packs in every cell that manage cellular respiration and generate all the energy the body needs to function (in the form of a kind of molecular currency called ATP), also become less efficient as we get older, although it is still unclear whether this change in mitochondria is a cause or a symptom of the aging process.

Many common drugs have been linked to mitochondrial dysfunction, including statins, antibiotics, acetaminophen (paracetamol) and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, to name only a few. Without ATP, a cell simply cannot survive, and decreased mitochondrial function has well-established links to cellular degradation, chronic inflammation, decreased stem cell activity and age-related diseases.2

Then there is the decrease in hormone production as we age. As levels of the sex hormones estrogen, testosterone and their precursor DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) decrease, so does sexual desire and potency. Melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep cycles, also declines.

Whether caused by a lack of melatonin or the result of other issues like anxiety or working late hours, sleep problems and sleep deprivation lead to increased stress and the release of the stress hormone cortisol—one hormone that never decreases with age. Cortisol actually breaks down body tissues, reducing muscle mass, contributing to osteoporosis and increasing the retention of abdominal fat.

The production of growth hormone (GH) is another critical process in aging. GH is responsible for maintaining lean body mass and bone mass and the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism, cardiovascular function, cognitive function and many other regulatory processes in the body. Also GH declines with age as well as with stress and environmental triggers.

“Gerontogens”—external insults such as industrial pollutants, arsenic in groundwater, toxic chemicals in the soil and food supply, ultraviolet radiation, processed foods, alcohol, medicinal and recreational drugs, childhood abuse and trauma—are all enormous contributors to aging through their various effects on all the above-mentioned physiological systems and more. In fact, only about 25 percent of the variation in human longevity is actually due to genetic factors—the rest is down to our behavior and environment.3

Studies also show that aging seems to be a matter of synergy—the combination of multiple influences, none of which is particularly relevant in itself until combined with other causes. But the good news is that it’s possible that health and lifespan can be significantly extended if even one of these causes is mitigated or eliminated.4

Pharmaceutical options

Western medicine has been trying to slow down or reverse aging for centuries, but so far, its best options haven’t been very effective.

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was introduced in the late 1960s as a method of mitigating difficult perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms for women, such as hot flashes, night sweats, vaginal dryness and debilitating mood swings. Unfortunately, even though scientists admit it isn’t even clear yet whether a decline in hormone levels is part of healthy aging or not,5 HRT and off-label hormone supplementation have now become one of the primary ‘go-to’ anti-aging strategies to counter skin aging and decreases in sexual function, bone mineral density and lean body mass.

And yet studies show that there are considerable risks involved. In 2002, a randomized controlled trial—part of the US National Institutes of Health’s ambitious Women’s Health Initiative—compared the standard medical approach of estrogen plus progestin replacement therapy against a placebo in 16,608 postmenopausal women. The study revealed a higher risk for breast cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease and thromboembolic events (blood clots), and was discontinued after five years because of the perceived dangers of keeping the study going for the planned eight-and-a-half-year duration.6

Since then, the breast cancer risk of HRT has been confirmed in a number of additional studies involving tens of thousands more women,7 and several other cancers including ovarian cancer, meningioma and some forms of skin cancer have also been linked to the regimen.8 Nevertheless, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still recommends HRT for vaginal dryness, hot flashes and the prevention of osteoporosis.

The more recently developed ‘bioidentical’ hormones progesterone and estradiol, which have also been approved by the FDA for the relief of menopausal symptoms and to reduce osteoporosis risk, are widely hyped as safer alternatives to traditional HRT drugs because their active ingredient is identical to the hormones produced by the human body. But there have yet to be any large, long-term trials conducted to show whether this is true. It’s possible that altered physiological exposure to hormones—any hormones—causes the health risks of HRT, or that they are triggered by the ‘inactive’ ingredients in the drugs, which are necessary to get them absorbed into the bloodstream. In either of these cases, there’s no reason to assume that bioidentical hormones are safer just because their chemical structure is slightly tweaked. 9

And it’s not just women who are at risk from hormone replacement therapy. Testosterone supplementation has been growing rapidly in popularity among aging men to treat so-called ‘low-T’ symptoms like fatigue and decreased sex drive, but the long-term safety and effectiveness of the treatment haven’t been established.

In a clinical trial of testosterone replacement in 60 older men with low circulating testosterone levels, it was found to be effective for mitigating loss of muscle mass and bone density, and aiding cognitive function, but it was also linked to prostate enlargement, which can come with negative symptoms like difficulty or urgency urinating.10 A recent meta-analysis uncovered worrying links between testosterone replacement, especially at high doses, and cardiovascular disease risk,11 while another study found that testosterone replacement sped up the growth of plaques in the coronary arteries—a major cause of heart attack.12

Calling the long-term benefit of testosterone replacement into question, a three-year clinical trial of 156 older men with low or low-normal testosterone levels found that testosterone supplementation had no effect on sexual function or health-related quality of life compared to placebo.13 Overall, it’s far from clear whether the benefit of the drug outweighs the risks.

Supplementation with GH is also marked by risks and complications that appear to exceed any possible benefits, which have been marginal at best in clinical studies. Elderly people taking GH supplements have a higher incidence of carpal tunnel syndrome, gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men), fluid retention and possibly increased insulin resistance.14

Although GH declines sharply with age, in parallel with other signs of age-related deterioration throughout the body, studies in mice have shown that GH deficiency leads to an exceptionally long life expectancy, while long-term GH supplementation accelerates aging.15 The evidence suggests that the age-related decline in GH is far more complex than a simple ‘deficiency’ warranting a replacement therapy.

Considering the pros and cons of pharmaceutical interventions for aging, it’s clear that we just don’t know enough yet about the intricacies of how the human body functions or how and why it ages to expect that medicine will find a ‘Fountain of Youth’ solution any time soon. Thankfully, there is scientific evidence for many natural solutions to age-related problems for those who want to avoid drugs and synthetic hormones.

Aging successfully

If 75 percent of “successful” aging is attributable to environment and lifestyle choices, it’s only logical to turn to lifestyle changes rather than medical solutions to live longer and better.

For example, in a recent study on how lifestyle changes affect telomere length, 10 patients went on a plant-based, low-fat, low-carb diet high in fruits, vegetables and unrefined grains. They practiced yoga and meditation for stress reduction, participated in a weekly support group and walked 30 minutes a day, six times a week. Over five years, these patients experienced significant increases in telomere length. And the better they stuck to the diet and lifestyle changes, the more dramatic the improvement in telomere length.16

The production of GH can be naturally stimulated by ingesting supplements such as l-arginine, GABA, l-ornithine and alpha-GPC (see sidebar, page 53). Mitochondrial health and ATP production can be strengthened by taking antioxidant supplements such as coenzyme Q10.17 As Dr Richard F. Walker, founding editor of Clinical Interventions in Aging, puts it, “With continuing research into the consequences of aging, it is becoming apparent that medical practice must evolve from this disease-oriented model to one that is health-directed so as to ensure quality of life with longevity.”

An increasing number of practitioners interested in integrative medicine agree. Functional medicine practitioner Phil Meyers, founder of Phi Wholeness, a “reverse aging center” in Missouri, offers a reverse aging program that starts with a consultation inevitably leading to dietary changes focused on gut health, eliminating inflammatory substances and neurotoxins from the patient’s diet.

This means going on a whole-food regime, removing all the usual suspects—sugar, refined and processed foods, artificial ingredients, GMOs, artificial sweeteners, fluoride, mercury fillings in the teeth—plus becoming an avid label reader in order to dodge hidden neurotoxins like sodium caseinate, calcium caseinate, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and yeast extract found in everything from energy bars to protein supplements.

Dr Patricia Sylwester, a functional medicine specialist in Olympia, Washington, agrees it’s not technology that makes a person stay healthy longer. “I was a traditional physician for 25 years and prescribed meds,” she says, “but changing how people live their lives is way more powerful than any medication or technology in terms of maintaining cognitive function and good health to an old age.”

Sylwester does an initial consult, runs lab tests to get solid baseline readings, takes a hard look at a patient’s stress system and hormone production, and then gets into analyzing their food and sleep habits. “I usually find inflammation and blood sugar regulation issues that are rampant,” she says. “On top of that, we have too much stress and nobody is sleeping, and those are all the things that lead to premature aging and death.”

Both Sylwester and Meyers believe the biggest hurdle people face is the time it takes to make the enormous shift in lifestyle habits necessary to see real regenerative changes.

Meyers explains that sometimes people come to see him thinking that they can make a few quick, simple adjustments and end up with the results they desire. “This whole ‘I’ll try eating no wheat for a week and see how that goes,’ just doesn’t work,” he says. “It’s going to take three, six, nine months to maybe a year for someone to really reboot their entire system.”

The payoff, however, is well worth it for those who stick with the changes. “Doing this, you literally reverse the aging process,” he says. “To what degree will always be dependent on your age, how long you’ve had the degenerative process, what degenerative process you’re dealing with and how much of a shift in lifestyle you need to make.”

Lorraine C., 44, from St. Louis, Missouri, became a patient of Dr Meyers after she started noticing signs of aging—a slower, more painful body, less energy and enthusiasm for life, excess belly fat, cellulite, wrinkles and jowls on her face, a sagging neck, and deep lines on her chest. “I wasn’t happy about it,” she says. “I thought I was a fairly healthy eater already. But I finally realized just how much of the protruding belly and body pain came from the ‘healthy’ food I was eating. There were hidden toxins I was dealing with that I didn’t even know existed.”

Since making a number of dietary and other lifestyle changes, she says she feels stronger, her body moves better, and she has more energy and excitement for life. “Now I don’t even see lines on my chest, it’s smooth, despite the fact that I get plenty of sun. The skin on my neck went from sagging to smooth, and the jowls and wrinkles on my face are so diminished that one day I looked in the mirror and said to myself, ‘I look like someone else. Who do I remind myself of? Oh yeah,
me. . . from a decade ago!'”

Supplements that can turn back the clock

Functional medicine practitioners recommend the following supplements, which have been shown to reverse aging in a number of ways.

To stimulate the production of growth hormone:

l-arginine is an amino acid used to synthesize proteins in the body. l-arginine ingestion can enhance the growth hormone response, and the combination of arginine plus exercise increases growth hormone levels.

Suggested daily dose: 2-3 grams three times a day

GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that affects the central nervous system. It elevates growth hormone levels both at rest and after exercise.

Suggested daily dose: 800 mg

l-ornithine is an amino acid that promotes growth hormone release after exercise.

Suggested daily dose: 2-6 grams

Alpha-GPC is a chemical found in the brain that augments growth hormone production, especially when combined with exercise.

Suggested daily dose: up to 1,200 mg

To stimulate healthy mitochondria and ATP production:

NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) is a coenzyme that can be found in all living cells. It is involved in many functions such as ATP synthesis, mitochondrial function and DNA repair. NAD supplementation is relatively new on the anti-aging scene, and optimum dosages have yet to be determined.

Suggested daily dose: some products recommend 100 mg daily

MitoQ is a modified form of the mitochondrial antioxidant coenzyme Q10, which is smaller and able to pass more easily through biological membranes, including the mitochondrial wall.

Suggested daily dose: 2 capsules each morning on an empty stomach

Alpha-lipoic acid and acetyl-l-carnitine are powerful antioxidants that increase mitochondrial ATP production.

Suggested daily dose: 200 mg alpha-lipoic acid and 500 mg acetyl-l-carnitine

Glutathione is a crucial antioxidant in the body that helps prevent cellular damage from free radicals and reactive oxygen species, as well as supporting the liver in its detoxification of the blood. It helps reduce wrinkles and age spots.

Suggested daily dose: 250 mg

Resveratrol is a grape-based compound that enhances mitochondrial ATP production and protects cells from reactive oxygen species.

Suggested daily dose: 150 mg

An anti-aging cleanup

Aside from exercise, lifestyle, nutrition and mindfulness, Dr Phil Meyers recommends the following supplements for cleaning up the gut ecosystem to aid in leading a healthier, happier, longer life:

Restore: A mineral supplement (available at shop.restore4life.com) derived from soil that strengthens the cells lining the intestinal tract to improve digestion, mitigate leaky gut symptoms and help strengthen the gut-brain connection.

Suggested daily dose: 15 mL; if there is a reaction, reduce to 5 to 15 drops a day and see how your body responds, gradually increasing the dosage until you reach 15 mL/day

Molecular hydrogen: This neutralizes reactive free radicals by turning them into water.

Suggested daily dose: one pill in 16 to 32 oz (1/2 to 1 L) of water

C60: This form of carbon is a powerful antioxidant and free-radical scavenger (see WDDTY August 2018) sold as a nanoparticle suspension in various types of oil, including olive, coconut, avocado and sunflower.

Suggested daily dose: one dropper

Superfoods to slow down skin aging

Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies, and the body’s ability to form new collagen is essential for firm skin and wound healing. Studies show that supplementation with a specific type of collagen hydrolysate (CH), or gelatin, significantly increases skin elasticity and aids in skin moisture with no side-effects.1

To stimulate collagen production, eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as tuna and salmon. Or you can take fish oil supplements. Hemp seeds are also high in omega-3 and -6 fats.

Bone broth helps aid collagen production, builds and repairs muscle tissue, supports bone mineral density, boosts nutrient absorption and synthesis, and helps strengthen and maintain muscle and connective tissues. It also improves the body’s use of antioxidants.2

Recipe: To make bone broth, boil three pounds of beef bones, cut so the marrow is exposed, and add one pound of chicken feet. Add 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Bring to a boil and simmer on low for 12 hours. Strain, season and drink at least 1 cup per day and/or use in recipes.

Skin-supporting vitamins

Vitamin A helps scavenge free radicals. It’s found in broccoli, carrots and apricots.

Vitamin B2 aids in cell respiration. It’s found in beef liver, lamb, milk, mushrooms, soybeans, eggs, unsweetened yogurt, spinach, almonds and sundried tomatoes.

Vitamin B3 is a natural skin elasticity booster. It’s found in turkey, chicken, tuna, peanuts and liver.

Vitamin B5 is anti-inflammatory. It’s found in oily fish, mushrooms, avocados and eggs.

Vitamin B6 is a skin hydrator. It’s found in pork, fish, eggs, soybeans and whole-grain cereals like oatmeal.

Vitamin B7 (biotin) moisturizes skin from the inside out. It’s found in egg yolks, avocado, milk, royal jelly and soybeans.

Vitamin C helps guard the skin against UV radiation. It’s found in fruits like oranges, grapefruit and kiwi.

Vitamin D aids in cellular repair. It’s found in fatty fish, milk products, beef liver and egg yolks.

Resources:

Dr Phil Meyers, Phi Wholeness: www.phiwholeness.com

Dr Patricia Sylwester, Vital Rejuvenation: wellnessolympia.com

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Hiring a Caregiver

IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING HIRING A PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL VS. USING AN AGENCY, HERE ARE SOME FACTS YOU MAY WANT TO CONSIDER:

The state of Virginia regulates the home care industry just as strictly as insurance companies are regulated. This should give you a peace of mind to know the accountability level a home care agency must submit to.

1 – It is a Virginia state law to treat a domestic worker as an employee. A domestic worker is any person you hire privately to help you privately. It could be a lawn worker, painter, caregiver, etc.

2 – If you have more than 2 people helping you, you are required to carry workers compensation on them. You must pay their taxes and issue a W-2.

3 – You must be able to prove the individual is a US citizen or has the right to work in the U.S. There are appropriate forms to file for this.

4 – You must post the same labor posters in your home that an agency is required to post.

5 – You are liable should the individual get injured in your home or on your property. The penalty for not having Workers Compensation is huge if you have more than 2 individuals working privately for you.

6 – Before hiring anyone off the street, make sure you get their permission to run a criminal and sexual offender background on them.

7 – Before allowing the individual to drive you around, make sure you know what is on their driving record. Also, find out if they have auto insurance coverage.

Using a home care agency may cost you a little more, however, doing things right the first time can eliminate expensive problems down the road.

Call me today for a confidential consultation if you have questions at 804-614-6193.

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Pro-Active Care-Giving

Serving the elderly requires energy and creative ideas to enhance stimulation in their every day life.  When the caregiver shows up with a schedule of activities, it can bubble up a level of excitement within the elderly person.  At first, the senior may resist but deep down most are bored and would love to be stimulated on something other than sugar.  When an idea is presented with enthusiasm, who wouldn’t want to participate.

 

It is easy for a caregiver to get bored while serving the elderly if they are not motivated and inspired themselves.  Each day is full of its own experiences, some good and some not so good.  When we take the time to experience each part of the day, we become awakened to life itself and manifest joy even when the way may be difficult.  We will never get to experience today again as it will be gone tomorrow, so let us strive to enjoy the brilliance of living every day. 

 

Get excited as you plan your weekly set of activities for the elderly client you will be working with.  Perhaps Monday is spa day, Tuesday is readers club, Wednesday is meditation time, Thursday is lunch out or picnic in the home if client is unable to travel, Friday is music day and the list grows and grows.  Give each day a theme day and use your creativity to design the activity around the likes of the elderly home bound client.

 

Present with excitement in your voice the weekly schedule of activities and/or events to the elderly person you are helping.  Be prepared to share with them how each activity will benefit them.  The energy you present changes the atmosphere.  You can change it with joy as well as sorrow.  Have you ever been around happy people and found yourself feeling better ?  How does it feel when you walk into a room where people are angry and complaining ?  If you stay too long, you will soon find yourself upset about something.

 

Pro-active care-giving will change your life.  We feel good when we live with a purpose.  The better we feel, the better life gets.  To be a joyful caregiver, it is important to take care of you first.  Pay attention to your emotions and train your mind to think upon the things you do like and with consistent good feeling thoughts, you will have more and more good experiences.

 

Please use the chart attached for designing your week of fun.

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Characteristics of a Professional Caregiver

The most effective way to assist an elderly person is to maintain a professional demeanor. I

have witnessed caregivers relinquishing their professional power when they see themselves

as “one of the family” or the “best friend”. When this occurs, it often becomes difficult to assist

the elderly with activities of daily living such as bathing, changing, exercise, etc. as the elderly

client no longer sees the caregiver as one with authority.

The caregiver, home care agency and client and/or representative share a role in maintaining

professionalism. Below are some suggestions for each to consider to ensure the elderly

client receives the excellent care they deserve.

AGENCY:

The agency administrator is responsible to educate caregivers of agency expectations

regarding professionalism during orientation and throughout their employment. Should the

administrator, nurse or office manager detect an unprofessional act or demeanor, each has a

responsibility to address the caregiver to assist them in regaining their professional

demeanor. Taking action early benefits the elderly client and prevents the caregiver from

getting stressed out. When a caregiver sees themselves as a professional, the elderly client

and others will too.

The agency administrator is responsible to bring awareness to the elderly client and/or client

representative of agency expectations of their caregivers during the initial service visit as well

as the responsibilities of the elderly client and/or client representative.

CAREGIVER:

The agency’s expectations of professional care giving service include but not limited to:

caregivers are to provide their own food/drink, refrain from sharing their personal problems

with elderly client and/or client representative, show up for work on time clean and energetic,

follow the care plan designed by agency, report immediately to agency of any changes in

elderly client, refrain from cell phone usage, refrain from watching television, be alert to client

needs, clean up areas after themselves and elderly client, refrain from using offensive

language, respect elderly client views on politics and religion and to always remember they

are there for the needs of the client and not their own.

ELDERLY CLIENT AND/OR CLIENT REPRESENTATIVE:

The agency’s expectations of the elderly client and/or client representative include but not

limited to: inform agency immediately of unprofessional or poor service, direct caregivers to

the agency should caregivers have complaints about agency or client care duties, report theft

or any type of criminal activity to agency immediately, agree to the service care provided, sign

off on client care records at the end of each service week, inform agency of schedule

changes, never give money or gifts to caregivers unless approved by agency and report all

information critical in providing the best personal care for you or your loved one.

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Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Elderly Loved Ones

Gift buying for the elderly person who has everything they need or lives in an assisted

living facility where space is limited can be a challenging task. Santa Claus gave me

some good ideas to pass onto you for the special seniors in your life. Most of these items can

easily be found on the Lillian Vernon website or of course, at the North Pole if you put the

order in early enough for Santa to deliver.

If you are the caregiver of your loved one and need a break at this busy time of year,

please call A Heart For You and let us lighten your load. 804-614-6193

 Cane with Bling

 Birth Month Flower Necklace

 Custom House Sketch (we can make a referral)

 Fresh Flowers

 Puzzles / Word Books / Adult Coloring Books

 Don’t forget the cool coloring pencils

 Self Watering Planter

 Eye Glass Holder

 Life alert necklace or bracelet – Lillian Vernon has a great selection

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