Essential Oils — Highly Effective at Destroying Lyme Bacterium

Lab-based research conducted at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health suggests various essential oils, including garlic, can effectively kill persistent forms of Lyme disease bacterium. While clinical trials are needed to validate the lab-based results, this is good news for anyone who had previously been relying on antibiotics alone to treat this life-threatening, tick-based disease.

Notably, 10 of the 35 essential oils tested showed strong killing activity against dormant and slow-growing “persister” forms of Lyme disease bacterium.1

If you are struggling with Lyme disease, I encourage you to look beyond conventional treatment, which often focuses on the use of long-term antibiotics. You owe it to yourself to investigate essential oils and other natural solutions, which I highlight below.

Essential Oils Shown To Be Effective for Treating Lyme Disease

As presented in the featured video, a new study published in the journal Antibiotics2 suggests essential oils such as garlic and eucalyptus may be useful in treating Lyme disease.

Interested in the oils’ strong antibacterial properties and many other health benefits, a team of researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health conducted lab tests designed to treat Lyme bacterium with 35 essential oils.

Previously, lead study author Dr. Ying Zhang, professor in the department of molecular microbiology and immunology, and his colleagues identified five essential oils, including oregano, cinnamon bark and citronella, that have higher antipersister activity than the commonly used Lyme antibiotic drug daptomycin.3 Results of the current research revealed:4,5,6

  • Ten of the 35 essential oils that were tested showed “strong activity” against persister forms of Lyme disease bacterium
  • Essential oils derived from allspice berries, cinnamon bark, cumin seeds, eucalyptus, garlic cloves, myrrh trees and thyme leaves are among those found to effectively combat persister forms of Lyme disease
  • Five of these oils were effective against dormant forms of the Lyme bacterium in a concentration of only 1 part per 1,000
  • Essential oils from allspice berries, garlic, may chang trees, myrrh trees and spiked ginger lily not only eradicated all Lyme disease bacteria in seven days, but also prevented regrowth in 21 days

About the study outcomes, Zhang stated, “We found that these essential oils were even better at killing the ‘persister’ forms of Lyme bacteria than standard Lyme antibiotics. At this stage, these essential oils look very promising as candidate treatments for persistent Lyme infection, but ultimately we need properly designed clinical trials.”7

Given the study outcomes, essential oils are certainly worth consideration when it comes to addressing Lyme symptoms. Later in this article, I will share other natural remedies you may want to consider. For now, let’s take a closer look at what causes the disease and how it is most commonly contracted.

What Causes Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a spirochete — a corkscrew-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi. It is primarily transmitted by deer ticks and black-legged ticks found in grassy and wooded areas throughout the U.S. and at least 60 other countries.8

Lyme is sometimes accompanied by a characteristic bullseye rash and may include flu-like symptoms such as: body aches, fatigue, fever, headaches and stiff or swollen joints.

As I have often mentioned, early treatment is vital because it may help you avoid future complications such as chronic joint inflammation (Lyme arthritis), cognitive defects, heart rhythm irregularities and neurological symptoms.

Quite often, Lyme disease can be complicated by factors such as coinfections, nutrient deficiencies and toxin overload.9 LymeDisease.org provides the following facts about the disease:10

  • Most people contract Lyme from the bite of an immature tick — and the bite is often so tiny and painless, you may not realize you’ve been bitten
  • An undisturbed tick can feed for several days; the longer it is attached to your body, the greater the chances it will transmit Lyme and other pathogens into your bloodstream
  • Lyme, which is known as “The Great Imitator,” is very challenging to diagnose because its symptoms mimic conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis
  • Lyme disease can affect any organ of your body, including your brain and nervous system, muscles and joints and even your heart

Who Gets Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is no respecter of persons and one bite from a tick the size of a poppy seed may be the only thing separating you from this devastating illness. At least 300,000 Americans are diagnosed with Lyme disease annually.11

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Lyme disease cases are mainly concentrated in the Northeast and upper Midwest, with 14 American states accounting for more than 96 percent of the cases reported to the CDC.12

The people at greatest risk of picking up a Lyme-infected tick include children and older adults, as well as firefighters, park rangers and others who spend time in areas known to increase their exposure to ticks.13

Antibiotic Treatment for Lyme Disease Is Not Always Effective

In most cases, the first line of treatment for Lyme disease usually involves the administration of antibiotics such as amoxicillin, cefuroxime or doxycycline for two to four weeks. That said, antibiotics are not always effective. It’s also important to note that the overuse of these drugs contributes to antibiotic resistance, which is becoming an increasingly bigger issue worldwide.

A 2013 study suggested 36 percent of antibiotic-treated patients continued to suffer from fatigue six months after taking the medication, whereas 20 percent experienced ongoing joint or musculoskeletal pain and 45 percent dealt with persistent neurocognitive symptoms.14

This poorly understood condition that lingers after standard treatment has been completed is known as “persistent Lyme infection” or “post-treatment Lyme disease (PTLDS) syndrome.”15 While the cause of so-called persistent Lyme infection is unknown, experts have observed that the Lyme bacterium can enter a dormant stage in which its cells multiply very slowly or don’t divide at all.

As such, these so-called persister cells are known to be more resistant to antibiotics. About this aspect of Lyme disease, authors of the Johns Hopkins study stated:16

“We found that the variant persister forms such as round bodies, microcolonies and biofilms with increasing degree of persistence in vitro, cannot be killed by the current Lyme antibiotics or even persister drugs like daptomycin alone. [T]hey can only be killed by a combination of drugs that kill persisters and drugs that kill the growing forms.

These observations provide a possible explanation in support of persistent infection despite antibiotic treatment in vivo.

Although daptomycin has good antipersister activity, it is expensive and is an intravenous drug and difficult to administer and adopt in clinical setting, and it has limited penetration through blood brain barrier (BBB). Thus, there is interest to identify alternative drug candidates with high anti-persister activity.”

Natural Strategies to Fight Lyme Disease

As mentioned, conventional Lyme treatment usually focuses on antibiotics, which often stop short of addressing the underlying issues associated with the disease. Due to the damage it will do to your gut microbiome, I do not recommend long-term antibiotic use for Lyme.

The use of antibiotics also increases your risk of fungal or yeast infections. Moreover, antibiotics tax your natural immune function and increase your risk of antibiotic-resistant infections.

Rather than choose antibiotic therapy as your primary means of treating Lyme, you’d be wise to investigate the many natural alternatives first, or, at least use the natural remedies in concert with any recommended pharmaceutical medications. You may find the following nutritional supplements useful in addressing Lyme disease:

Andrographis and artemisinin — herbs that treat a Lyme coinfection called Babesia

Krill oil — this omega-3 powerhouse helps reduce inflammation and relieve Lyme symptoms

Astaxanthin — a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes toxins and relieves joint pain

Probiotics — promotes healthy gut flora and boosts your immunity

Cilantro — a natural chelator for heavy metals

Quercetin — an antioxidant known to reduce histamine, which is usually high in Lyme patients

CoQ10 — a potent antioxidant that alleviates muscle pain, boosts cardiac health and reduces brain fog

Resveratrol — this antioxidant helps with detoxification and may treat the common coinfection called Bartonella

Curcumin — the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, which eliminates neurological toxins and helps reduce brain swelling

Serrapeptase helps dissolve biofilms

GABA and melatonin — two great sleep supplements that will help address insomnia, a common complaint of Lyme sufferers

Transfer factors — help boost your immune function

Grapefruit seed extract — known to kill bacteria, Candida and parasites and may help treat the Borrelia bacterium in cyst form

Whey protein concentrate — may be useful as a dietary supplement

Lumbrokinase Also Shown to Help Treat Lyme

Beyond the natural remedies mentioned above, lumbrokinase, a group of six proteolytic (protein digesting) enzymes derived from earthworms, has been successfully paired with antimicrobial remedies for the treatment of Lyme disease.

Lumbrokinase is believed to effectively penetrate through thick clumps of gut bacteria known as biofilms, which are one of several factors involved with Lyme. When pathogenic bacteria hide within biofilms, they can feed and replicate out of the reach of your immune system.

As such, they remain strong and unaffected by any antimicrobial medications, including antibiotics and herbs, you may be taking. The fact lumbrokinase is helpful in breaking down fibrinogen is an important aspect of Lyme treatment because the pathogenic bacteria use fibrinogen, which they convert to fibrin, to strengthen their network.17

Researchers studying the effects of lumbrokinase18 say earthworms have been used for thousands of years within traditional medicine in Asian countries such as China, Japan and Korea. In these countries, dry earthworm powder taken orally has been shown to promote healthy blood circulation. 

Dr. Miguel Gonzalez, a functional, integrative and holistic medicine specialist from Thousand Oaks, California, and creator of the Lyme People website, suggests lumbrokinase, “appears to assist in dissolving the excess fibrin that covers and hides the bacteria, is involved in the regulation of blood clotting and also eliminates the abnormal proteins that are released as a result of the bacteria’s activity.”19

You May Want to Try Klinghardt Academy’s Lyme Treatment Protocol

My mentor Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, founder of the Klinghardt Academy in Woodinville, Washington, is one of the leading authorities on the treatment of Lyme disease. Having been used successfully to restore health to hundreds of patients, his Lyme disease treatment protocol is most definitely something you should check out, especially if you have been unable to get the help you need elsewhere.

Be Vigilant: Preventing Lyme Disease Is Your Best Option

Lyme disease is a complex, controversial and extremely challenging condition to treat, making prevention your safest and best option. Your first line of defense is to take precautions to avoid the ticks that transmit the disease. After all, no tick bites, no Lyme disease. Because the ticks can be as small as poppy seeds, you must be vigilant to safeguard yourself, your loved ones and your pets from ticks.

Whatever you do, do not spray your body or your clothes with insect repellant containing N,N-Diethyl-m-toluamide, also known as DEET. Because DEET is a known neurotoxin,20 I recommend avoiding all DEET-containing products. If you live or spend time in a high-risk area, you can protect yourself from tick bites by:21,22

  • Avoiding tick-infested areas such as densely wooded areas and always walk in the middle of trails to avoid brushing against tall grasses and other plant material that may house ticks
  • Looking for ticks on your body and hair immediately upon returning from a high-risk area and continuing to check your body, hair and bedding daily for several days afterward
  • Wearing long sleeves and pants, as well as closed shoes and a hat, when venturing into wooded areas
  • Checking your pets for ticks, which can latch onto collars and fur
  • Removing ticks properly and, if possible, keeping them alive; for detailed instructions on handling ticks, visit the lymedisease.org tick removal page

Weekly Health Quiz: Cholesterol and Life Expectancy

1 For optimal health and prevention of cardiovascular disease and neurological degeneration, you’ll want to maintain the following ratio of omega-6 to omega-3:

  • 1-to-18
  • 1-to-3

    While omega-3s have an anti-inflammatory effect, the omega-6 found in seed oils tend to be proinflammatory. Maintaining a healthy 1-to-3 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is important, as chronic low-grade inflammation is a hallmark of most chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Learn more.

  • 1-to-6
  • 1-to-1

2 Which of the following is more likely to kill a person than being unvaccinated and contracting the childhood diseases rubella, mumps or rotavirus in childhood?

  • Slipping in the shower
  • A lightning strike
  • Choking on food
  • All of the above

    Before vaccines became available and were routinely used, the annual death toll in the U.S. from rubella was 17 to 24, rotavirus 20 to 30 and mumps 39 to 50. For comparison, each year 100 people die from being struck by lightning, 200 die from choking on food, 350 die from slip and fall accidents in the bath or shower. Learn more.

3 The most significant risk factor for cardiovascular disease is:

  • High total cholesterol
  • High LDL
  • High HDL
  • Insulin resistance

    The most significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease are insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes and the chronic inflammation associated with these conditions. Learn more.

4 The reduction in life expectancy in the U.S. over the past three years is primarily driven by rising rates of:

  • Drug overdoses and suicide

    The drop in life expectancy in the U.S. during 2015, 2016 and 2017 is being attributed to a combination of still-increasing drug overdoses — especially from fentanyl — and a 3.7 percent rise in suicides. Learn more.

  • Automobile accidents and gun violence
  • “Acts of God” such as hurricanes, fires and landslides
  • Climate-driven infectious diseases

5 Which of the following global health crises is the leading cause of disability and chronic illness worldwide?

  • Infectious diseases
  • Obesity

    Obesity has become a greater global health crisis than hunger, and is the leading cause of disability and chronic illness around the world. On average, people are plagued by obesity-related pain and illness during the last 14 years of life. Learn more.

  • Hunger
  • Back pain

6 The suspected cause behind the skyrocketing global rates of macular degeneration, a disease that was virtually nonexistent more than a century ago, is thought to be tied to:

  • Lack of sufficient beta-carotene intake
  • Family history and genetics
  • Increased consumption of processed food

    Given the reality macular degeneration has gone from being an extremely rare disorder more than a century ago to one that is found at increasingly alarming rates in developed countries around the world, Knobbe points to higher intakes of processed food — not aging or genetics — as the root cause.
    Learn more.

  • Overexposure to artificial lighting

7 The following diet has been scientifically shown to impede tumor growth and lower inflammation, significantly reducing your chances of developing cancer:

  • Atkins diet
  • DASH (low-salt) diet
  • Mediterranean diet
  • Ketogenic diet

    Ketogenic diets promote healthy mitochondrial function and respiration, reduce tumor vascularity and inflammation, and enhance tumor cell death. Learn more.

Protein in Royal Jelly Shows Promise in the Facilitation of Stem Cell Research

Aside from being vital pollinators, bees produce a number of products that benefit human health. Honey1 is an obvious one, but there are others as well, such as royal jelly, a nutritious substance secreted by nurse bees as exclusive nourishment for the queen of the hive.

Recent research2,3,4,5 by Stanford University scientists found royalactin (also known as major royal jelly protein 1, or MRJP1), a protein found in royal jelly responsible for the queen’s massive growth, has the ability to keep embryonic stem cells pluripotent.

This initial finding could eventually lead to the development of drugs to boost stem cells in the human body, allowing for the regeneration of healthy tissue in damaged organs, be it your heart, eyes, skin or spinal cord.

They also identified a protein with similar qualities found in mammals, which they dubbed Regina — a nod to the queen bee for which royalactin is made — which like royalactin allows embryonic stem cells to maintain their naïve state. According to the authors:

“This reveals an important innate program for stem cell self-renewal with broad implications in understanding the molecular regulation of stem cell fate across species.”

Researchers Discover Innate Program for Stem Cell Self-Renewal

Embryonic stem cells are the product of the initial meeting of egg and sperm. Three days after fertilization of the egg, an inner cell mass can be isolated, and these are the embryonic stem cells that, if left alone, will grow into a fetus.

Stem cells are pluripotential, meaning that they have the ability to turn into any and every type of tissue to form an entire being, be it animal or human. Adult stem cells, in contrast, are multipotential, meaning they only have the ability to form subsets of tissue.

The problem researchers have is that embryonic stem cells have a tendency to differentiate into mature tissue cells of various kinds when grown in the lab, and in order to use the stem cells for research and/or therapies, they must be kept in their “naïve” state long enough. As explained by New Atlas:6

“With the ability to differentiate into all kinds of cells that serve specialized functions, like muscle cells, red blood cells or brain cells, embryonic stem cells have incredible potential. But growing them in the laboratory is difficult, because their natural inclination is to quickly outgrow their pluripotent state and become something else.

To preserve that pluripotency, scientists must add special molecules to the culture that inhibit that behavior. Wang and his team found that by adding royalactin instead, they could stop the embryonic stem cells from differentiating just as well.

In fact, they found that they were able to maintain the cells in their embryonic state for up to 20 generations in culture without the need for inhibitors.”

This was a complete surprise. Normally, scientists must use leukemia inhibitor factor to prevent the embryonic stem cells from differentiating when grown in culture. What they discovered is that royalactin performed the same function. The question is: How?

Royalactin-Like Protein in Mammals Inhibit Embryonic Stem Cell Differentiation

Mammals do not produce the royalactin protein, yet the royalactin activated a network of genes known to code proteins that allow the embryonic stem cells to maintain their pluripotency. To find the answer, the researchers searched scientific databases to identify human proteins with structures similar to that of royalactin.

What they found was a protein known as NHL repeat-containing-3 protein or NHLRC3, produced during the development of the mammalian (including human) embryo. They then duplicated the mouse experiment using NHLRC3, which was found to trigger a similar gene network as royalactin.

The end result was the same — the embryonic stem cells maintained their pluripotency in culture. Kevin Wang, assistant professor of dermatology and lead author of the study, commented on the results, saying:7

“It’s fascinating. Our experiments imply Regina is an important molecule governing pluripotency and the production of progenitor cells that give rise to the tissues of the embryo. We’ve connected something mythical to something real.”

Next, Wang and his team will investigate whether Regina — the mammalian equivalent of royalactin — has the ability to affect cell regeneration and wound healing in adult animals. And, as reported by New Atlas:8

“It could be used as another way to keep embryonic stem cells pluripotent in the lab, and could one day lead to the development of synthetic versions that deliver stocks of stem cells in the human body.

[T]hose kinds of drugs could be used for all kinds of things, from generating healthy tissue for damaged hearts, degenerating eyes, injured spinal cords and severe burns.”

What Is Royal Jelly and How Is It Made?

Royal jelly is a gelatinous, milky substance secreted by the hypopharyngeal and mandibular glands of worker honeybees between the sixth and twelfth days of their life,9 and is an essential food for the development of the queen bee. It’s a complex substance containing proteins (12 to 15 percent), sugars (10 to 12 percent), fat lipids (3 to 7 percent), along with a variety of amino acids, vitamins and minerals.10

Compared with the short-lived and infertile worker bees, the queen bee, which is exclusively fed royal jelly, is characterized by her extended lifespan and her well-developed gonads. Therefore, royal jelly has been long-used as a supplement for nutrition, antiaging or infertility.

The larva selected to become queen is fed royal jelly exclusively, while the rest of the larva receive royal jelly along with pollen and honey. Research11,12 reveals this exclusive royal jelly diet activates certain genes in the queen bee, allowing her to grow much larger and become such a prolific egg layer. The honey and beebread fed to worker bee larvae contains p-coumaric acid, and it’s the presence or absence of p-coumaric acid that determines the caste of the bee.

Larvae fed royal jelly to which p-coumaric acid had been added produced adults with reduced ovary development. “Thus, consuming royal jelly exclusively not only enriches the diet of the queen-destined larvae, but also may protect them from inhibitory effects of phytochemicals present in the honey and beebread fed to worker-destined larvae,” the researchers explain.13

Health Benefits of Royal Jelly

Folklore in Europe and Asia has it that royal jelly is a powerful rejuvenator capable of boosting longevity and fertility. It’s also been used to promote hair growth and minimize wrinkles. In Chinese medicine, royal jelly is revered as a substance that helps increase life expectancy, prevent disease and restore youth.

The fact that the protein Regina in mammals and humans appears to work like royalactin in royal jelly could possibly account for some of these benefits. Royal jelly also has antimicrobial benefits, courtesy of bee defensin-1, an antimicrobial peptide found in it. Because of components such as these, it’s fair to assume that royal jelly is in fact beneficial for humans.

That said, the idea that consuming royal jelly might somehow affect your stem cells is probably taking things too far. There’s no evidence of that — only that royalactin allows mammalian embryonic stem cells in an undifferentiated state in a lab environment.

Also keep in mind that it’s difficult to ensure potency and quality of royal jelly products on the market. Toxicology tests suggest most if not all honeys, for example, are tainted with the herbicide glyphosate, and the bee population has taken a hit around the world due to various pesticide exposures. If the bees have toxins in them, it’s feasible their royal jelly might be contaminated as well.

Still, the research was conducted by a very prestigious institution and published in a respectable journal, and they seem to believe there are possibilities here. Just realize that the focus is on Regina, the mammalian protein equivalent of royalactin, and not on royal jelly itself.

Health Benefits of Bee Propolis

Propolis is yet another bee product with health benefits, including immune-boosting properties and strengthening your body’s defenses against bacteria, viruses and other disease-causing organisms.

Propolis is used by bees to close openings in their beehives, which is why it is also referred to as “bee glue.” The materials are usually taken from leaves, bark, flower buds and other plant parts. These are then combined with bee saliva, wax and pollen, which are then adhered to the hive holes.

Studies suggest propolis also protects the bees from bacterial infections and possible external elements that may endanger the whole colony. In some cases, propolis may also be used to encase the carcasses of hive intruders to stop bacteria from spreading.14

Propolis has been used for years in folk medicine because of its proposed effect on various body systems, dating back to the time of the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians.

In fact, Hippocrates notes that propolis is beneficial for promoting wound healing, both internal and external, while Pliny the Elder documents that propolis may be used to treat tumors, muscle pain and ulcers. This bee product was also documented in the Persian manuscripts as a remedy for various conditions, including eczema and rheumatism.15

Today, propolis is used in a wide variety of skin care products, including creams and extracts to promote wound healing and ease various types of infections. It is also available as a supplement, with people taking it on a regular basis to boost their immune system function.16

Another Bee Product, Propolis Has Flavonol With Health Benefits

Research also suggests a flavanol in propolis called galangin has anticancer effects on several cancers, including melanoma, hepatoma, leukemia and colon cancer.

In one such study,17 galangin was found to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death) in two types of colon cancer cells (HCT-15 and HT-29 specifically), and that the effect killed the cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner. According to the authors:

“We also determined that galangin increased the activation of caspase-3 and -9, and release of apoptosis inducing factor from the mitochondria into the cytoplasm by Western blot analysis.

In addition, galangin induced human colon cancer cell death through the alteration of mitochondria membrane potential and dysfunction. These results suggest that galangin induces apoptosis of HCT-15 and HT-29 human colon cancer cells and may prove useful in the development of therapeutic agents for human colon cancer.”

Galangin has also been shown to inhibit inflammation by regulating the nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-?B), PI3K/Akt and peroxisome proliferator activated receptor-? (PPAR ?) signaling in activated microglia in the brain and thus should improve or prevent Alzheimer’s.18 Additionally, galangin reduces insulin resistance by increasing the activity of hexokinase and pyruvate kinase, promoting glucose consumption and glycogen synthesis.19

Royal Jelly May Be Beneficial for Health, But Don’t Expect Miracles

In summary, while royal jelly has a number of health benefits, it’s premature to assume it can affect your stem cells directly. A number of studies done on royal jelly have focused on its potential effects on cancer, fertility and its role in testosterone production.

In one study,20 infertile men were given different dosages of royal jelly and honey to increase the production of testosterone. After three months, those given royal jelly had higher testosterone levels, improved sperm active motility and luteinizing hormone levels, thus showing the potential impact royal jelly can have on infertility in men.

In another study,21 royal jelly was found to reduce symptoms of mucositis in patients suffering from neck and head cancer. Mucositis refers to the inflammation of the digestive tract brought on by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Patients who were given royal jelly thrice a day showed a decreased occurrence of mucositis.

A recent study22 published in an obscure Chinese journal also suggests royal jelly has an antisenescence effect on human lung fibroblasts in cell cultures. Other studies have found royal jelly supplementation can improve menopausal symptoms23 and Type 2 diabetes outcomes.24,25

How to Identify a Quality Product

So, provided you can find a high-quality product (which can be expensive), it could be a valuable supplement in some instances. In terms of what to look for when shopping for a royal jelly product, here are a few pointers:

  • Fresh royal jelly is ideal if you can find it, but lyophilized royal jelly is also a good and more convenient option
  • To assess quality, look for 10-hydroxydecanoic acid (10-HDA) content. Most companies that care about quality will test their royal jelly for this. For fresh royal jelly the typical range is ~1.5 to 2.3 percent. For lyophilized royal jelly, it is ~4.5 to 6.6 percent
  • Look for organic royal jelly as it is less likely to contain antibiotics or be adulterated

Can Drinking Okra Water Help Fight Diabetes?

According to research, extracts from okra could help offset damage done by oxidative stress and insulin resistance, and simultaneously improve your blood glucose levels. Those results were attained when scientists tested okra extracts on pregnant rats with induced gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

During the featured study on rats from 2015,1 scientists found okra extract exerted potential antihyperglycemic and hypolipidemic effects. The okra was also associated with reduced damage to pancreatic tissues. In a recent study,2 researchers concluded that okra may improve glucose homeostasis and ?-cell (beta cells that produce, store and release insulin3) impairment in diabetes.

Okra, you may know, is a vegetable known as a favorite in the American south for dishes like Creole-style gumbo. The Abelmoschus esculentus (okra) plant, also known as Hibiscus esculentus (being related to the hibiscus plant, as well as cotton), is also called lady fingers because it produces several tapering, pentagon-shaped, fuzzy pods with pointed tips and lots of compartmentalized seeds.4

As an ancient, flowering plant with origins all over the world, okra has several more names: gombo, bamia or bamya in France; bhindi in India, quibombo in Spain and simply “bamies” in the Mediterranean and Middle East. It was probably brought to the Southern U.S. by slaves from West Africa, who often used it to thicken soups.5 In fact, this plant does require balmy temperatures to thrive.

The seedpods are the part of the plant with the most gastronomical interest. As Cooking Channel TV maintains, they can be barbecued, pickled, skewered and grilled, or sautéed. It doesn’t have to be doused in canola or some other “vegetable” oil, coated with flour and deep-fried; you can use healthy ingredients:

“Gumbo is nothing without the okra that breaks down and helps thicken the stew … Okra is often paired with acidic flavors like lemon juice or tomatoes to balance out the earthy, woody flavors … Yankee Okra, or okra sautéed in olive oil with garlic, crushed red pepper, thyme and basil, pairs the flavors you know and love with an ingredient that you will soon be familiarizing yourself with.”6

Okra water is a form of this vegetable that has emerged recently, and it’s gained more interest since it may improve your blood sugar levels. To make okra into a drink, the pods are soaked for several hours or overnight, during which time the skin and seeds will be absorbed into the liquid. Another way is to slice the pods thinly before soaking them, but the resulting beverage may be slightly bitter. Just remember the benefits!

Okra May Benefit Diabetes, Lower Blood Sugar Levels

According to the study,7 “Therapeutic Effect of Okra Extract on Gestational Diabetes Mellitus Rats Induced by Streptozotocin,” scientists divided 30 rats into three groups: those with GDM, an intervention group and a control group.

Once the model was established successfully, the study notes,8 200 mg of okra extract was given (orally) to the rats in the intervention group, while the other two groups received only the okra solution and water.

To be precise, it wasn’t extracts from okra alone that scientists used, but an okra solution similar to that used in other studies. A study in 2011, for instance, tested okra’s ability to prevent liver damage.9 Shade-dried okra pods were “coarsely powdered and macerated,” then placed in 3 liters of 96 percent ethanol for 72 hours before being “suspended” in distilled water (which does not dissolve it) before being given to the rats.

At the conclusion, the study authors wrote that due at least in part to the antioxidant substances in okra, the rats’ oxidative stress and insulin suppression was decreased, and along with it their blood glucose levels.

Previous studies have found similar results, including a 2005 study published in the journal Planta Medica,10 in which scientists purified a chemical called myricetin, an antioxidant flavonoid found in okra, and gave it to rats via IV. The result was that the rodents’ muscles were more readily able to absorb glucose, which consequently lowered their blood sugar levels.

It appears okra may support the function of insulin and has even been deemed a potential adjuvant therapy for treating diabetes, whether consumed as a nutraceutical or vegetable.11

Diseases and Disorders Okra — in any Form — May Improve

A 2018 study12 asserts that okra could improve metabolic complications, and if it has a beneficial effect on the pancreas in rats, benefits may translate to humans, as well.

Type 2 diabetes and obesity are the most common endocrine-based metabolic diseases, characterized by hyperglycemia and impaired insulin resistance. Causes are complex and often interrelated, and include:

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Eating high amounts of processed foods, which typically contain sugar, grains and unhealthy fats
  • Genetic predisposition

While okra alone may not cure diabetes, studies show there is evidence that it helps. Several beneficial nutrients in okra have a positive effect on several other problems, as well:13

  • Potassium — Helps optimize your nerve impulses, digestion, blood pressure, heart rhythm and pH balance
  • Vitamin B — While there are different types, in okra it’s specifically B1, or thiamin, which imparts neurological benefits; B2, or riboflavin, which helps maintain sharp vision; and B6, aka pyridoxine, helps babies’ brains develop properly and helps convert food to energy
  • Vitamin C — Can reduce both the duration and severity of the common cold14
  • Folic acid — Makes and repairs your DNA and produces red blood cells, and is important for pregnant women and women of child-bearing age as a deficiency can lead to birth defects, such as spina bifida15
  • Calcium — A mineral crucial for bone health, but vitamin D is also needed to help absorb it. Additionally, it plays a role in muscle contraction, blood clotting and cell membrane function

The Nutrient Compounds Behind Okra’s Health Benefits

The featured study isn’t the only one that’s revealed remarkable health benefits of okra consumption. Research on okra may be in the early stages, but as it turns out, the relatively meager information already out there supports what other researchers have discovered in the past decade or so.

For instance, a study in 2011 highlights the antidiabetic and antihyperlipidemic potential of okra peel and seed powder in diabetic rats.16 Okra seeds have also been used in Turkey for lowering blood sugar levels,17 which further casts this humble veggie in a very good light by listing the science behind many of its health benefits.

The peel is one of the most popular okra parts used to get the medicinal qualities from this little pod. It can be shredded using a lemon zester or grate, and one-half teaspoon is recommended as sufficient to get the desired benefits. Grinding the seeds after drying them is another method, and simply adding them to your smoothie or protein drink is another. Seeds can be purchased either from a health food store or ordered online.

Besides being rich in dietary fiber, which helps keep your system moving smoothly and efficiently and can both cut hunger cravings and keep you fuller longer, there are other key reasons why eating okra can help with any of the above.

Another study indicates that lowered recovery times after a workout and improved energy levels are a few of the benefits of eating okra. As it happens, okra has a particularly high set of nutrients that fight fatigue, one of them being the antioxidants. The seeds in particular contain polysaccharides, polyphenols and several flavonoids, all of which are important in your diet to battle fatigue. The study notes that:18

“Fatigue is becoming a more and more common symptom in normal humans with the increasing pace of modern life. Large community surveys have showed that more than half of the adult population complains about fatigue. Long-term accumulated or chronic fatigue not only lowers the quality of life, but also leads to chronic-fatigue syndrome and other organic illnesses.”

Glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase also increased dramatically, but the study noted that the polyphenols in the seeds are about 24 times as much as those in the skins, but the content of polysaccharides in the seeds is much lower compared to the skins.

While okra consumption has been shown to block the absorption of the drug Metformin, prescribed to help manage blood sugar levels, you may want to talk to your doctor about the benefits of adding okra to your diet.

From the clinical evidence, the upshot may be that eating whole okra pod, prepared your favorite way, may contribute to a more active and consequently healthier lifestyle overall. And even if you’re not a fan of using it in your cooking, simply making and drinking okra water can be beneficial too.

Why Cancer Needs To Be Treated as a Metabolic Disease

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In the featured podcast, Dr. Peter Attia interviews professor Thomas Seyfried, Ph.D., recipient of our Game Changer Award in 2016 for his work on cancer as a metabolic disease, which is also the title of Seyfried’s book1 on this topic. His work is also heavily featured in Travis Christofferson’s excellent book, “Tripping Over the Truth: The Metabolic Theory of Cancer.”

Seyfried, in my view, is simply the best cancer biologist in the world. The featured interview2 goes into great technical detail that can be challenging for some, but if you’re interested in understanding the mechanics of cancer, I highly recommend taking the time to listen to it in its entirety, especially toward the end.

Without a doubt, it is one of the finest detailed discussions about why cancer cells grow and how conventional medicine has it mostly wrong when it comes to treatment, especially radiation and chemo. Without a doubt, it is one of the best interviews Seyfried has ever done. Although Attia is a Harvard trained physician with oncology training, he frequently disagrees with Seyfried, who schools him in the basics.

I have listened to the entire interview twice and learned even more the second time. Now I have a fairly good background on this topic so if you are new to it and have a loved one who needs this information you may need to listen a few times. Toward the end of the interview Seyfried gets into some very important principles in cancer treatment, such as:

  • Being careful to avoid biopsies if at all possible as they are strongly related to allowing the cancer to metastasize.
  • Surgical therapy can be a useful intervention but it should be delayed as long as possible while the patient is on metabolic therapy so the tumor will shrink and allow the margins to be more well defined so it can be removed more easily.
  • Avoid radiation and chemotherapy at all costs as they typically impair the immune system that is ultimately responsible for resolving the tumor.
  • More than 1,600 people die from cancer every DAY in the U.S., but 8,100 die from cancer every day in China, where the problem is far worse. Remember these are deaths per day, not cancer diagnosis.
  • It is vital to understand that more people die from cancer treatment than the cancer itself.

Introduction to Cancer as a Metabolic Disease

The established dogma that cancer is a genetic disease currently rules everything, from the research that receives funding to the treatment you can expect from an oncologist. Indeed, this dogma is what fuels the entire cancer industry. Unfortunately, it’s not leading to any significant breakthroughs in treatment, let alone prevention.

Seyfried and others have been able to advance the theory that cancer is primarily the result of defective energy metabolism in and damage to the cells’ mitochondria. Simply put, genetic mutations are not the primary cause of cancer but are rather a downstream effect of the defective energy metabolism. As long as your mitochondria remain healthy and functional, your chances of developing cancer are actually slim.

According to Seyfried, while it’s still poorly understood how a ketogenic diet works to subdue epileptic seizures, the mechanism of action on cancer cells is really clear, and is based on the pioneering findings of Dr. Otto Warburg, a classically trained biochemist who in 1931 received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of the nature and mode of action of the respiratory enzyme cytochrome C oxidase.3

Warburg’s work shows how cells obtain energy from respiration, and how cancer cells have a fundamentally different energy metabolism compared to healthy cells (see section on Warburg Effect below).

Following in Warburg’s footsteps, research by Seyfried and others show that cancer is primarily a metabolic disease involving disturbances in energy production through respiration and fermentation in the cells. Studies have actually shown that cancer is suppressed when the nucleus from a tumor cell is transferred to cytoplasm of normal cells with normal mitochondria.

What this tells us is that normal mitochondria suppress cancer growth, and in order for cancer cells to proliferate, you must have dysfunctional mitochondria.

Seyfried’s research has shown that cancer growth and progression can be managed following a whole-body transition from fermentable metabolites, such as glucose and glutamine, to respiratory metabolites, primarily ketone bodies that are formed when you follow a ketogenic diet. This transition reduces tumor vascularity and inflammation while enhancing tumor cell death.

cancer as a mitochondrial metabolic disease

Source: peterattiamd.com. Image credit: Thomas Seyfried

The Warburg Effect

Warburg discovered that even in the presence of oxygen, cancer cells derive energy from the ancient process of anaerobic fermentation (sometimes called glycolysis), which causes an overproduction of lactic acid. This is known as the Warburg Effect:

  • Aerobically, in the mitochondria
  • Anaerobically, in the cytoplasm, which generates lactic acid, a toxic byproduct in high concentrations

Aerobic respiration is far more efficient, capable of generating more than 30 times more adenosine triphosphate (ATP) than anaerobic energy generation. As explained in the featured interview, normal, healthy cells will produce very minimal amounts of lactic acid in the presence of oxygen. Cancer cells, on the other hand, behave very differently.

Cancer cells continue to produce massive amounts of lactic acid, even in a 100-percent oxygen environment, which caused Warburg to conclude that the primary cause of cancer is that the respiratory system of cancer cells is defective, causing the cells to revert from healthy aerobic energy generation to unhealthy anaerobic fermentation. You can read Warburg’s 1956 paper4On the Origin of Cancer Cells” here.

Please note that respiratory system in this context does not refer to the lungs but rather to the processing of oxygen from the lungs in the electron transport chain of the mitochondria that ultimately passes the electrons from your food to oxygen to create water and ATP.

So, in a nutshell, what Warburg discovered is that cancer cells have dysfunctional mitochondria — hence the claim that cancer is a metabolic disease rooted in mitochondrial dysfunction.

Different Types of Mitochondrial Abnormalities Are Found in Cancer Cells

One of the primary reasons why modern researchers have failed to realize that all cancer cells have impaired respiration is because they started researching cancer using cell cultures, and when you separate the cells from the tissue and grow it in a medium, it causes them to behave in ways they normally wouldn’t when in the animal or human.

Hence many researchers have claimed that cancer cell respiration is normal, when in fact it is not. According to Seyfried, during in vitro or culture research, it looks like cancer cells consume a lot of oxygen, even when producing lactic acid, which creates confusion.

He does point out that while all cancer cells have defective mitochondria, how that defect came about will vary from one cancer to another. In some cancers, there’s simply a lack of mitochondria, meaning the cell does not have enough organelles to generate energy through respiration and therefore falls back on fermentation as a source of energy production.

In other cancers, the cells appear to have plenty of mitochondria, but the organelles are structurally abnormal. As noted by Seyfried, “structure dictates function,” so if the structure of the mitochondria is abnormal, its function will also be abnormal. However, all cancer cells use fermentation for energy production. Seyfried has not found a single cancer with normal respiration.

In order to grow and spread, cancer cells also need ample building blocks, which Seyfried says they get from the pentose phosphate pathway, the glycolytic pathway and from glutamine. “Between glucose and glutamine, you’re getting all the building blocks you need for rapid cell division,” he says.

Cancer Is Not a Gene-Driven Disease

Seyfried also stresses that in his research, no genetic abnormalities were found in cancer cells at all, which firmly disputes the genetic theory which postulates that cancer is driven by genetic mutations. Sadly, Attia is still convinced that the gene theory of cancer is true. It’s quite sad that such a brilliant and innovative physician fails to appreciate the depth of beauty of Seyfried’s work.

Overall, an estimated 5 percent of cancers are caused by germline mutations, such as BRCA1, an inherited genetic risk factor known to raise your risk for breast cancer, or BRCA2, which raises your risk for ovarian cancer.

But as noted by Seyfried, “They’re not deterministic.” A certain gene mutation may raise your risk, but it’s no guarantee you will actually develop the cancer in question, and it is ultimately not the true cause if you do get cancer. An exception is if the mutation damages the mitochondria’s respiratory system; then cancer is a very real possibility.

Warburg’s Missing Link

The featured interview also delves into the details of mitochondrial substrate level phosphorylation (mSLP) — the missing link in Warburg’s cancer theory. When mitochondria are damaged, causing them to revert to such an inefficient form of energy production, how is it that they have enough energy to massively reproduce and grow?

For years, Seyfried suspected glucose fermentation wasn’t the whole story, and his research shows cancer cells can in fact ferment not only glucose but also glutamine, and the majority of the energy for cancer formation actually comes from the glutamine.

Glutamine is fermented via mSLP in the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle — also known as the Krebs cycle — of the mitochondria. The TCA or Krebs cycle is a series of chemical reactions catalyzed by enzymes that form a key part of aerobic respiration. Seyfried explains:

“mSLP is the production of ATP when you move a phosphate group from an organic substrate onto an ADP molecule, so it’s an ancient way of generating energy. In other words, it’s an organic molecule that is an electron acceptor rather than oxygen …

You’re moving phosphate groups from an organic substrate onto the ADP as the acceptor, and you can generate massive amounts of energy from this process which can replace the level of lost energy from the damaged mitochondria …

In the normal cell, you’re making most of your ATP from oxidative phosphorylation, but in the cancer cell you’re making most of it from mSLP inside the same organelle [i.e., the mitochondria].”

energy metabolism in normal cells

Source: peterattiamd.com. Image credit: Thomas Seyfried

energy metabolism in cancer cells

Source: peterattiamd.com. Image credit: Thomas Seyfried

Why Cancer Cells Don’t Self-Destruct

Another question of import is “Why don’t cancer cells die through the apoptotic mechanisms?” meaning the mechanism that triggers cellular suicide when the cell is damaged or malfunctioning. In short, because the mitochondria that actually controls that self-destruct “switch” is dysfunctional.

“The cell bypasses the normal control of life and death — apoptosis of the cell — because the very organelle that dictates that is [the mitochondria], is now defective,” Seyfried says. As a consequence, the cell reverts back “to the way it existed before oxygen came into the atmosphere on the planet.”

Healthy Mitochondrial Respiration Prevents Cancer Formation

The take-home message here is that as long as your mitochondrial respiration remains healthy, cancer will not develop. “That goes back to prevention,” Seyfried says. “How do you prevent cancer? You prevent it by keeping your mitochondria healthy.”

And how do you keep your mitochondria healthy? Primarily by avoiding toxic environmental factors and implementing healthy lifestyle strategies. This is in fact the sole focus of the metabolic mitochondrial therapy program detailed in my book “Fat for Fuel.” Topping my list of strategies to optimize mitochondrial health — which you can learn more about in my book — are:

Cyclical nutritional ketosis — The divergence from our ancestral diet — this massive prevalence of processed, unnatural foods and excessive amounts of added sugars, net carbs and industrial fats — is responsible for a majority of the damage to your mitochondria.

High-carb, processed food diets prevent your body from efficiently burning fat as its primary fuel, and burning fats and ketones is far more efficient, inducing far less oxidative stress, than burning carbs. So, a foundational dietary strategy to optimize your mitochondrial health is to eat the right fuel. Once you become an efficient fat burner, you minimize the oxidative stress placed on your mitochondria, which is key.

Calorie restriction — Another extremely effective strategy for reducing mitochondrial free radical production is to limit the amount of fuel you feed your body. This is a noncontroversial position as calorie restriction has consistently shown many therapeutic benefits.

Meal timing — Meal timing is also important. Specifically, eating too late in the evening, when your body doesn’t need the energy, is one of the worst things you can do to your mitochondria, as it creates a buildup of ATP that is not being used.

As a result, it’s not being broken down into ADP, causing ATP synthase to shut down. At that point, the entire electron transport chain backs up, causing excessive amounts of free radicals to spill out and damage the mitochondrial DNA.5

Normalizing your iron level — Iron also plays an important role in mitochondrial function, and contrary to popular belief, excessive iron levels are far more prevalent than iron deficiency. Virtually all men over the age of 16 and post-menopausal women are at risk of high iron.

Menstruating women are protected since they lose blood, and hence iron, each month. While most people damage their mitochondria by eating a high-carb, low-fat diet and/or excessive protein, elevated iron levels can cause profound mitochondrial damage as well.

When you have high iron levels in your mitochondria, it enhances oxidation, creating high levels of damaging reactive oxygen species and free radicals. Fortunately, high iron is easy to address. Simply check your iron level with a serum ferritin test, and if your level is high, donate blood two or three times a year to maintain a healthy level.

An ideal iron ferritin level is between 40 to 60 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL). Below 20 ng/mL is a deficiency state, and you definitely do not want to be above 60 or 80 ng/mL.

An important side note to this is that excess carbohydrates in particular, when eaten late at night, result in a backup of electrons, causing the production of superoxide. While not a pernicious free radical in and of itself, if you have high iron levels combined with high superoxide, it produces hydroxyl free radicals, which is one of the most harmful.

The chemical reaction that creates these hydroxyl free radicals is known as the Fenton reaction. While you certainly need enough iron, having too high an iron level can cause severe damage, and this is one way in which it does that.

Exercise — Exercise upregulates PGC-1 alpha and Nrf2 — genes that promote mitochondrial efficiency, helping them grow and divide so that you actually have more mitochondria.

In simple terms, by placing an increased energy demand on your cells through physical activity, free radicals signal that you need more mitochondria to meet the energy demand. As a result, your body adapts to your level of activity by creating more mitochondria and making them work more efficiently.

Interestingly, in his book “Mitochondria and the Future of Medicine,” Dr. Lee Know, a naturopathic physician, explains how some people need more exercise to maintain mitochondrial health.6 When hydrogen ions flow back through ATP synthase, energy is created. But in some cases, and in certain tissues, such as in brown adipose tissue, this process can become uncoupled.

Instead of the hydrogen ions flowing back through ATP synthase, they flow through a different channel, creating heat rather than energy. A benefit of this is that it allows the electron transport chain to continue to operate even though you’re not using up energy. The hydrogen gradient is being dissipated through the generation of heat instead.

If your genetic heritage stems from equatorial regions and/or if you have very dark skin, you will tend to have less brown fat, and hence less mitochondrial uncoupling, which raises your risk of chronic disease. To counteract this, you will need to exercise regularly. Also, be mindful of your vitamin D level, and consider cold thermogenesis (cryotherapy) to build brown and beige adipose tissue.

Nutritional supplements — The following nutrients and cofactors are also needed for mitochondrial enzymes to function properly:

  • CoQ10 or ubiquinol (the reduced form)
  • L-Carnitine, which shuttles fatty acids to the mitochondria
  • D-ribose, which is raw material for the ATP molecule
  • Magnesium
  • Marine-based omega-3
  • All B vitamins, including riboflavin, thiamine and B6
  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA)

How Metabolic Therapy Can Improve Cancer Treatment

Seyfried is not alone in his strong belief in the metabolic origins of cancer. Dr. Abdul Slocum, a physician from Turkey, is already using this information in his clinical practice, where he treats many end-stage cancer patients. A significant number of his patients have pancreatic cancer, which has one of the worst prognoses of any cancer.

Over 90 percent of pancreatic cancer patients die within five years. When they enter his clinic, patients are immediately placed on a ketogenic diet and remain on it throughout their treatment.

Remarkably, Slocum is able to save many of these “hopeless” patients. What’s more, his treatment protocols are nontoxic. By harnessing your body’s ability to fight the tumor naturally, through the implementation of nutritional ketosis and other strategies, any chemotherapy agents used can be applied in the lowest possible dose. Slocum’s practice reveals the very real benefits of treating cancer as a metabolic disease.

Support Cutting Edge Metabolic Therapies That Address the True Cause of Cancer: Defective Mitochondria

Seyfried is conducting preclinical research at Boston College, exploring a cocktail of metabolic therapies in a metastatic mouse model, including the combination of:

Ketogenic diet

Glycolytic inhibitors

Oxygen therapy

Glutamine inhibitors

Exogenous ketones

Other metabolic targeting therapies

The goal of this advanced research is to develop a nontoxic diet/drug therapeutic cocktail that can resolve both primary tumor growth and secondary tumor metastatic lesions in a range of preclinical models of cancer. For more information, you can read through his team’s paper,7 “Press-Pulse: A Novel Therapeutic Strategy for the Metabolic Management of Cancer,” published in 2017 in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism.

To further this project, Travis Christofferson founded the nonprofit Foundation for Metabolic Cancer Therapies (formerly Single Cause Single Cure Foundation8). I encourage you to make a donation to this incredible research project, as the possibilities of it actually saving lives are far greater than most other cancer organizations, which exist solely to support the slash, poison and burn paradigm.

I am working with Christofferson to have Seyfried’s metabolic therapies available for use as a primary intervention in a few cancer clinics and will have that information posted when they are available.

Importantly, while other organizations will take a large percentage of your donations for administrative expenses, 100 percent of donations to Foundation for Metabolic Cancer Therapies will go to fund Seyfried’s research. You can make a tax-deductible donation online or by mailing in a check:

  • Send a check of any amount made out to and mailed to The Foundation for Metabolic Cancer Therapies, 3213 West Main Street #256, Rapid City, SD 57702
  • Donate online at Foundation for Metabolic Cancer Therapies. You can make a one-time donation or set up recurring contributions.

Try This Flavorful Paleo Cabbage Soup Recipe

When someone mentions cabbage soup,  the first thought that may pop in your head is the repetitive diet that was Charlie Bucket’s nightly dinner in “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Of course, Charlie’s dreary fare was a far cry from this amazing cabbage soup recipe. There’s no reason for you not to enjoy a bowl — or maybe two!

 

This soup recipe has been around for a number of years, providing warmth and comfort during cold weather. Not only is it filling, but cabbage soup is bursting with a wide array of vitamins and minerals due to the nutrient-filled ingredients it uses. If you can’t wait to benefit from this delicious soup, here’s a slow cooker recipe from Paleohacks that combines only the highest quality of products:

 

Crock Pot Cabbage Soup

Ingredients

 2-3 free-range chicken breasts

 2 tablespoons coconut oil

 2 celery stalks, chopped

 3/4 cup carrots, chopped

 1/2 cup zucchini, peeled, deseeded and chopped

 3 garlic cloves, minced

 1 small yellow onion, diced

 1 teaspoon dried basil

 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

 4 cups chicken broth

 1/2 head of cabbage, chopped

 

Procedure

  1. Coat slow cooker with coconut oil and then add chicken.
  2. Add chopped celery, carrots, zucchini, garlic and onion. Next, add basil, oregano, salt, pepper and broth.
  3. Cook soup on high for approximately two hours and then remove bones from chicken and add chicken back to the pot. Add the chopped cabbage.
  4. Cook soup on high for an additional two hours before removing from the slow cooker. Enjoy!

 

Cabbage May Promote Skin, Bone and Muscle Health

Cabbages are a staple of vegetable aisles and farmers markets around the world. It’s nearly impossible to visit a store without seeing the huge pile of light green or purple cabbages, just waiting for you to choose one from their ranks.

 

Cabbages as a culinary delight have been around for thousands of years, with the Celts, Romans and Egyptians cultivating and benefiting from them. For Egyptians, cabbage was even regarded as the best of their wide selection of vegetables. They also used cabbages to ease a number of conditions, including gout, headaches and mushroom poisoning. [1]

 

This is all due to the numerous nutrients in cabbages. This vegetable is rich in vitamins K, C, B6 and B1, as well as iron and calcium, which are all essential for the smooth functioning of various body systems. Adding cabbage to your diet may:[2]

 

  • Help prevent inflammation. Chronic inflammation is one of the leading causes of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease. Cabbage contains numerous types of antioxidants that may help mitigate chronic inflammation.

     

  • Assist in maintaining bone, skin and muscle health. The high levels of vitamin C in cabbage can help boost collagen production, a protein needed to maintain the flexibility and strength of bones, muscles and blood vessels.

     

  • Aid in digestion. Cabbage is a good source of insoluble fiber, the type that is not broken down in the intestines. It helps bulk up stools and normalize bowel movements.

     

  • Support cardiovascular health. Cabbage contains high levels of potassium, a mineral found to help regulate blood pressure by counteracting excess sodium found in the body. It also helps relax blood vessels and promote sodium excretion.

 

Protect Your Eyesight With Carrots

When you were a kid, there’s a high chance that you were urged by your parents to eat your carrots because they would keep your eyesight in tip-top shape. If you’re like most kids, you probably doubted your parents, thinking this was just a ploy to get you to finish the food on your plate.

 

The good news is that they were telling the truth: Carrots are actually pretty nutritious. They’re especially rich in beta-carotene and numerous antioxidants that are essential for the production of vitamin A. Vitamin A is especially important as it directly influences the health of the cornea. In fact, vitamin A deficiency is one of the leading causes of blindness in children.

 

Aside from protecting your eyes from deterioration, carrots offer other health benefits, which include the following:

 

  • May lower your risk of coronary heart disease. Studies show that adding carrots to your diet may help reduce your risk of heart disease by up to 32 percent.[3]

     

  • Reduce your risk of cancer. Carrots contain impressive amounts of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and polyacetylene, which are especially useful for cancer prevention and treatment. In fact, studies show that carrot juice may play a role in treating leukemia and other types of cancer.[4]

     

  • Support cellular and skin health. Carrots are filled with active components that help prevent cellular damage from free radicals. Due to these, carrots can assist in protecting you from sun damage and aging.

 

Why Sipping Chicken Broth Is a Good Choice

One of the main ingredients of this cabbage soup recipe is chicken broth. Not only does it provide the well-loved flavor of chicken soup, but it also offers you numerous healing benefits. Chicken broth is loaded with cysteine, glucosamine, chondroitin and other components that help the body recover from sickness. Here are some of the benefits that you can get from bone broth:

  • Improved digestion. Bone broth has a hydrophilic colloid that helps attract fluids and digestive juices, which may help promote smooth digestion and metabolism.

     

  • Reduced inflammation. Chicken cartilage and bones contain glucosamine, sulphates and other components that can reduce inflammation and joint pain.

     

  • May help thin the mucus in the lungs. Bone broth contains high amounts of cysteine, an amino acid that makes the mucus in the lungs thinner, making it easier to expel. This is especially useful for people suffering from colds and other mild respiratory issues.

 

Just make sure that you’re using chicken broth made from the bones of organic free-range chickens to make sure you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals it’s supposed to contain.

When It Comes to Chicken, Pasture-Raised Organic Is the Way to Go

Most Americans love chicken. This is hardly breaking news.  Chicken is the protein of choice in countless recipes, and shows up on virtually every restaurant menu. But although chicken is loaded with impressive amounts of protein and nutrients, what matters most is the quality of the chicken you’re getting.

 

Unfortunately, most chicken producers have long since abandoned any pretense of providing the sustainably sourced and high quality food your body needs. Today, about 90 percent of poultry products available in the market come from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). While CAFOs may be the norm in this day and age, it doesn’t mean that we should support this kind of inhumane way of raising animals.

 

If you’re eating CAFO chicken, there’s a chance that you’re being exposed to numerous toxins, including antibiotics and harmful chemicals. Trust me, you do not want this stuff in your body. For better quality food, make sure that you go for organic pasture-raised chickens. This not only ensures that you’re protected from toxins used in conventional farms, but you also get a product that’s more nutrient-dense. Pasture-raised chickens contain more vitamin A, omega-3 fats and beta-carotene than their CAFO counterparts.

 

Once you decide to try this recipe for you or your family, make sure that you get only the best quality products you can get your hands on. Some of them may be a bit pricey, but the extra dollars are worth it for you to get the complete array of nutrients you need to be getting from your food.

An Introduction to High Blood Pressure

According to the World Health Organization, high blood pressure affects more than 1.13 billion people worldwide.1 In fact, it’s currently one of the leading risk factors of global mortality, accounting for approximately 7.5 million deaths, which is almost 13 percent of all the total deaths around the world.2

It can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race or ethnicity, although China and India share the burden of having the most people with this disease.3 You may even be unknowingly suffering from it even though you feel perfectly well. But what exactly is this “silent killer”4 and how can it slowly destroy your well-being? In order for you to understand this illness better, let’s first define what blood pressure is and how your cardiovascular system works.

Understanding the Circulatory System and Blood Pressure

The cardiovascular system is made up of three major parts: the heart, blood and blood vessels, which include the arteries, capillaries and veins. As you know, the heart’s job is to pump blood throughout the circulatory system.5

In a systemic circulation, the oxygen-rich blood, which also carries nutrients, travels through an intricate network of arteries and capillaries and is delivered to different body parts. Meanwhile, in a pulmonary circulation, the oxygen-depleted blood, which also carries waste products like carbon dioxide from your body organs, is transported back to the heart through the veins.6

You may have noticed that arteries are more talked about when it comes to high blood pressure. That is because blood pressure refers to the force that the blood exerts on the artery walls as it’s pumped out of your heart to the rest of the body.7,8 High blood pressure, on the other hand, is a condition wherein the blood travels through the arteries with more force than normal.9

How Does High Blood Pressure Affect Your Body?

The first body parts that high blood pressure affects are your heart and arteries. Your arteries can tolerate the normal blood pressure that’s generated from the heart.10 However, chronic high blood pressure may cause small tears in the artery walls, where LDL cholesterol may collect and begin to clog these arteries.11

As this cholesterol builds up on the artery walls, your arteries become rigid, thicker and narrow, giving the blood less space to flow, which further increases your blood pressure levels.12 In order to compensate for the lower blood flow, your heart has to work harder, and this extra workload eventually puts you at risk of heart attack or heart failure.13

The effects of persistent high blood pressure are not just confined to the circulatory system, though. The organs that are connected to your blocked arteries will be robbed of their sufficient supply of oxygen and nutrients, which may cause them to malfunction, or worse, lead to organ failure.14,15

Use These Pages to Help Beat High Blood Pressure

The damage that high blood pressure may do to your body starts small, but can progressively worsen over a long period of time if unaddressed.16 The good news is that you can lower your risk for this illness or prevent its life-threatening complications if you understand why it occurs in the first place and how you can control it.

Browse these pages for more information about high blood pressure, its common symptoms and causes, possible complications, diagnostic methods, and the recommended remedies and treatment options to keep your blood pressure levels within the normal range.

MORE ABOUT HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

High Blood Pressure: Introduction

What Is High Blood Pressure?

High Blood Pressure Range

High Blood Pressure Symptoms

High Blood Pressure Causes

High Blood Pressure Medications

High Blood Pressure Treatment

How to Control High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure Remedies

High Blood Pressure Side Effects

High Blood Pressure Headache

High Blood Pressure During Pregnancy

High Blood Pressure Prevention

High Blood Pressure Diet

Essential Oils for High Blood Pressure

Herbs for High Blood Pressure

Supplements for High Blood Pressure

High Blood Pressure FAQ

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What Is High Blood Pressure?

Is Macular Degeneration Preventable?

An intriguing presentation about the possible link between age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and processed food consumption literally caught my eye. As presented in the featured video, ophthalmologist Dr. Chris Knobbe, founder and president of the Cure AMD Foundation, suggests the common assertion macular degeneration is caused by aging or genetics is a mistaken one.

Given the reality macular degeneration has gone from being an extremely rare disorder more than a century ago to one that is found at increasingly alarming rates in developed countries around the world, Knobbe points to higher intakes of processed food — not aging or genetics — as the root cause.

He presented his research findings at the 2018 Ancestral Health Symposium, held in Bozeman, Montana. Knobbe asserts the same people known to consume the most processed food not only develop AMD, but are also more likely to be affected by cancer, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and stroke.

What Is Macular Degeneration?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO),1 macular degeneration results when the part of your retina called the macula becomes damaged, causing you to lose your central vision. If you have AMD, you cannot see fine details whether close or far, but your peripheral (side) vision remains normal.

The BrightFocus Foundation defines AMD as “an irreversible destruction of the macula, which leads to loss of the sharp, fine-detail, ‘straight ahead’ vision required for activities like reading, driving, recognizing faces and seeing the world in color.”2

Knobbe notes your macula measures 6 millimeters (mm), or about one-fourth of an inch, across and accounts for the central 10 degrees of your vision. “Arguably, this is the most important 6 mm in our bodies,” he asserts.3 About macular degeneration, the AAO says:4

  • It is a leading cause of vision loss in people 50 years and older
  • About 80 percent of people with AMD have the dry form, which is characterized by the thinning of parts of your macula, as well as the growth of tiny clumps of protein called drusen, which causes you to slowly lose your central vision
  • Wet AMD is a less common but more serious form of vision loss because it causes new, abnormal blood vessels to grow under your retina, which may leak blood or other fluids that cause scarring of your macula
  • Wet AMD accelerates vision loss more quickly than dry AMD
  • Blurry vision may be the first sign of macular degeneration; regular visits to an ophthalmologist can help you identify early warning signs of the disease

Who Is Affected by Macular Degeneration?

AMD is no respecter of persons. A couple of well-known sufferers of the disease are legendary British actress Dame Judi Dench,5 83, and American actress and comedian Roseanne Barr,6 66, both of whom have spoken publicly of their vision problems.

Sadly, Dench and Barr are not outliers; they’re just two of the estimated millions of people worldwide affected by this potentially devastating disease. According to Knobbe and experts at the BrightFocus Foundation, AMD is:7,8

  • The leading cause of irreversible vision loss in people over the age of 65 who live in developed countries
  • A leading cause of irreversible blindness and visual impairment worldwide — the number of people living with AMD is expected to reach 196 million worldwide by 2020 and increase to 288 million by 2040
  • Known to affect as many as 11 million people in the U.S., this number is expected to double by 2050

Though Knobbe disagrees, the link between aging and macular degeneration is based on statistics suggesting your risk of contracting the disease increases from 2 percent for people ages 50 to 59 to nearly 30 percent for those age 75 or older.9

The Causes of Macular Degeneration

Traditional ophthalmology associates AMD to aging, hence the name “age-related macular degeneration,” and more recently has also suggested genetics may be a contributing factor. The AAO claims you are also more likely to develop AMD if you are:10

Age 50 or older

Eating a diet high in unhealthy fats

Overweight

Caucasian

Known to have a family history of AMD

A smoker

In contrast to conventional wisdom, Knobbe, as discussed in the featured video, believes man-made, processed foods are the primary culprit, although he leaves room for a possible genetic link, too.

His beliefs, which were sustained through a combination of investigative journalism, interviews and research, culminated in the 2016 publication of his book “Cure AMD — Ancestral Dietary Strategy to Prevent & Reverse Macular Degeneration.”

In addition, a summary of Knobbe’s work was published in the journal Medical Hypotheses in 2017.11 While the lifetime risk of contracting AMD was about zero in 1900, he says, by 1992, it was believed to affect 1 in 3 people over the age of 75.

Today, he claims 20,000 new cases of AMD are diagnosed worldwide every day. Based on his research, Knobbe states, “I believe, 100 percent, that this disease is caused by diet and diet alone. Now, no question, genetics play a role, but environment pulls the trigger. That ‘environment’ is our diet.”

Processed Foods Implicated for Skyrocketing Rates of Macular Degeneration

Based on his research, Knobbe asserts the key to addressing the skyrocketing rates of AMD must focus on decreasing our intake of processed foods and returning to a so-called ancestral diet. This, he notes, may be our best means of preventing, and possibly treating, the disease.

Knobbe defines an ancestral diet as any eating program that existed on the planet prior to 1880, when the first processed foods — namely, refined white flour and polyunsaturated vegetable oils — were made available. Trans fats, he notes, were first introduced in 1911.

After noting the Western diet has more than 600,000 food items you can put on your plate today, Knobbe said, “When we break this down, what we know is 63 percent of these food items are made up of those refined, processed, nutrient-deficient foods in the form of added sugars, refined white flour, polyunsaturated vegetable oils and trans fats.”

He calls the dependence on processed foods “the recipe for metabolic disaster and physical degeneration.” Drawing from the work of the late Weston A. Price,12 Knobbe calls out the following problematic categories of processed food, which Price referred to as the “displacing foods of modern commerce”:

Canned goods

Sugar

Vegetable oils

Confectionary

Sweets

White flour

Macular Degeneration: Another Disease of Western Civilization?

Given the increased use of these so-called modern foods during the past 140 years, Knobbe says it is no surprise higher intakes of them have been linked to what he calls “diseases of Western civilization.”

On the list are well-known conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune disorders, cancer, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Knobbe says he had somewhat of an epiphany in 2013 when he posed this question to himself: “Could AMD be another ‘disease of Western civilization’?”

After comparing the historical rates of incidence for AMD as it related to the increased availability and consumption of sugar and vegetable oils, Knobbe began to surmise AMD indeed may be linked to the increased consumption of processed food. “After just 30 years of consuming these processed foods, we are at epidemic proportions of chronic disease,” he observes.

In Japan, since the 1970s the increased use of vegetable oils has spiked the incidence of AMD. Said Knobbe, “The rate of AMD [in Japan] was at 0.2 percent prevalence in 1970. By 2007, their prevalence was 11.4 percent. That’s a 57fold increase in the prevalence of AMD in just 30 years. We can’t possibly explain that with genetics and aging.”

When comparing rates of AMD in Nigeria, Knobbe noted the availability for processed food in major metropolitan areas as a factor in the 3.2 percent rate of AMD incidence in cities. He contrasted that rate to AMD prevalence among Nigerians living in a rural area where there was no access to processed food. It was just 0.1 percent.

Poverty Linked to Vision Loss; AMD Not a Disease of Aging or Genetics

Using data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Knobbe observed links between poverty and chronic diseases such as the prevalence of severe vision loss, including AMD. Southern states had higher incidence of both poverty and severe vision loss. About the link between the two, Knobbe states:

“Why is poverty an issue? Because in [the U.S.] you can purchase about 2,000 calories worth of processed food for about $3.50. That same 2,000 calories coming from whole foods … costs you about $13 or more. It’s a sad fact … but it’s a reality.”

If AMD is all about aging, we would expect to see that people in the south, where the highest rates of severe vision loss exist, have the longest life spans. However, the data do not bear that out, notes Knobbe.

Life expectancy in the south is actually lower than the national average, he says. “Where we have the greatest vision loss, including the most macular degeneration, we have the shortest lives. This is not consistent with the theory that macular degeneration is a disease of aging.”

As such, he concludes, “Macular degeneration is not a disease of aging. It’s not a disease of genetics. It is a disease of processed food consumption. And that results in more chronic, metabolic and degenerative disease, more macular degeneration and earlier death.” On his Cure AMD Foundation website, Knobbe writes:13

“Every shred of evidence I can find supports the hypothesis that it is the ‘displacing foods of modern commerce’ that are the primary and proximate cause of AMD. The prevention of this disease — as well as the treatment — is to remove those elements from the diet, and consume only … our own native, traditional diets.”

How to Help Prevent Macular Degeneration

Most certainly, eating nutrient-dense foods is the best way to preserve your eyesight. Knobbe recommends a whole food diet as the best antidote to vision problems such as macular degeneration. While a change in diet cannot reverse an established case of AMD, it can be helpful as a preventive measure before the onset of the disease.

Knobbe suggests you eat a diet “rich in meats, fish, eggs, fruit, vegetables, some nuts and seeds, and perhaps critically, some ‘sacred’ foods of our ancestors, such as beef or chicken liver, fish eggs (roe) … or pastured butter.”14 He adds, “My preference is to choose the wild or pastured versions of animal meats and eggs whenever possible, and organic versions of … fruits and vegetables.”15

While I agree with most of Knobbe’s recommendations, for optimal health you will want to limit your daily fructose consumption, including fructose from whole fruit, to 25 grams (g) or less if you are healthy. If you are dealing with a chronic illness such as cancer or diabetes, you’d be wise to further restrict your fructose intake to 15 g until your condition improves.

Beyond this, animal-based omega-3 fats help improve cell structure and protect your sight, while whole foods high in anthocyanins and bioflavonoids help protect your cells from free radical damage. Lutein and zeaxanthin, potent carotenoid antioxidants found in leafy greens like kale and spinach as well as organic, free-range egg yolks, are also known for their role in promoting healthy vision.

It is believed the presence of lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin in your macula blocks blue light from reaching the underlying structures in your retina. As such, they help reduce your risk of light-induced oxidative damage that could lead to macular degeneration.16

Natural antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamins C and E also support your eyes, as does astaxanthin, which is found in certain marine plants and animals, including krill oil. Learn more about the foods your body needs to protect your vision in my previous article “Eat Right to Protect Your Eyesight.”

Other Ways to Reduce Your Risk of Macular Degeneration

Beyond your diet, blocking blue light may help reduce your risk for macular degeneration, while also improving your sleep. Below are a few tips on how to limit your exposure to blue light:

  • Use blue-blocking glasses — Blocking blue light aids in regulating your internal body clock to control sleep patterns. Also, it reduces the negative effect high energy wavelengths have on your macula. I recommend you wear blue light-blocking glasses after 7 p.m. or when the sun sets.
  • Install blue-blocking software on your digital devices — If you are not a fan of wearing blue blockers, you might want to try Iris, a free software program that can automatically adjust your screen settings to reduce blue light. I have used Iris for many years and highly recommend it.
  • Replace LED lights with incandescent bulbs — Many of the LED lights sold today emit a large portion of aggressive blue light, which is why I advise you to use incandescent bulbs instead. To learn more about how to protect yourself, read my article “How LED Lighting May Compromise Your Health.”
  • Sleep in total darkness — To achieve a deeper, more restorative sleep, you must protect your eyes from light at night. Using a sleep mask or room-darkening shades are two easy solutions, and be sure to keep electronic devices out of your sleeping area.

While the rates of macular degeneration continue to climb, you can take steps today to reduce your risk of this debilitating eye disease. As Knobbe suggests, eliminating processed food from your diet is among the best preventive measures against macular degeneration.

While conventional medicine may try to convince you AMD and other chronic illnesses are simply a factor of aging or genetics, two areas over which you have little control, the truth is, you are not helpless to affect positive change.

Based on his research, Knobbe concluded the term AMD is a misnomer. Rather than calling the loss of central vision “age-related macular degeneration,” he asserts it would be more aptly named “diet-related macular degeneration” or “DMD.”17 While aging is not something you can control, you most certainly have some measure of control over your diet and, therefore, your eye health, too.