March 31st, 2011
By: Melissa Makris
Acid reflux, and the heartburn that results, occurs when acid from the stomach backs up into the esophagus. About one-third of Americans experience heartburn on a regular basis. Treatment with both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription medications might temporarily stop the burning, but the relief can come at a substantial health cost.
Conventional doctors generally blame excess stomach acid, or hyperacidity, for acid reflux, even though a mechanism to support this claim has not been found. A defective or weakened lower esophageal sphincter, the valve at the top of the stomach, is generally where the blame is placed, although that does not address why excess acid is the culprit.
Many holistic doctors believe that the cause of acid reflux is actually too little stomach acid, or hypoacidity. From what is known about how the digestive process works, these claims can be substantiated.
After chewing, food goes down the esophagus and into the stomach via the esophageal sphincter. The presence of food in the stomach triggers a hormone called gastrin, which controls the amount of gastric juices that are secreted.
Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is one of the main components of gastric juices. Enough stomach acid needs to be produced to reduce the stomach pH to around 1.5-2.5. This triggers protein-digesting enzymes, kills harmful microbes, and allows for proper mineral absorption.
If at any time the pH of the stomach drops too low, the hormone gastrin is inhibited and the production of HCl ceases. This negative feedback mechanism is commonly ignored, or unknown, by many conventional doctors.
Frequently, it is too little stomach acid that causes digestive distress. Too little HCl inhibits proper digestion and prolongs the time the food stays in the stomach. The longer the food sits in the stomach, the greater the chance of the esophageal sphincter relaxing and allowing acids to come up into the esophagus. Pepsin, the main enzyme responsible for protein digestion, can also irritate the stomach if present for long periods of time.
When someone takes an antacid for acid reflux, the drug dramatically increases the pH of the stomach. The stomach responds by producing more HCl in an attempt to bring the pH back down.
Encouraging more HCl production is beneficial, but the way these OTC drugs go about this actually makes the problem much worse. This is because the cells responsible for making stomach acid, the parietal cells, need to have reserves of certain minerals in order to produce the HCl. The most important of these minerals are zinc, magnesium, and chloride.
But a person experiencing frequent episodes of heartburn is more than likely already depleted in these minerals, so the parietal cells do not have enough energy to keep up the HCl production. When the antacids stop working, conventional doctors tend to recommend protein-pump inhibitors (PPI). These kinds of drugs completely block stomach acid production.
Low stomach acid, and the corresponding higher stomach pH, already leaves people vulnerable to food poisoning, ulcers, parasites, and other kinds of stomach infections. It also makes it difficult to utilize protein and critical nutrients from food.
Acid reflux medications greatly increase these nutrient deficiencies, notably B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, zinc, copper, calcium and magnesium. In fact, last May the FDA warned that long-term users of PPI`s were at increased risk of bone fractures. The agency was unable to link deficiencies in calcium and magnesium to the bone loss, however, stating “the association between the drugs and bone fractions is still not understood.” Other side effects seen from long-term PPI usage are stomach atrophy, liver damage, anemia, fungal growth in the esophagus, and cancerous stomach polyps.
February 4th, 2011
By: Elizabeth Walling
If you`re an acne sufferer, then you know the frustration of searching for an acne product that actually helps your skin. Chances are you`ve tried everything on the market and were left less than satisfied (and with a much lighter wallet!). The mainstream commercial products you`ve tried may work for a while, but the harsh chemicals in these products tend to make skin worse over time. Tea tree oil offers an alternative remedy for acne, and more than one study has demonstrated its effectiveness.
One study at the Prince Alfred Hospital in Australia revealed tea tree oil`s ability to perform just as well as a common over-the-counter acne treatment, without the side effects. Researchers wrote:
“We have performed a single-blind, randomised clinical trial on 124 patients to evaluate the efficacy and skin tolerance of 5% tea-tree oil gel in the treatment of mild to moderate acne when compared with 5% benzoyl peroxide lotion. The results of this study showed that both 5% tea-tree oil and 5% benzoyl peroxide had a significant effect in ameliorating the patients` acne by reducing the number of inflamed and non-inflamed lesions (open and closed comedones), although the onset of action in the case of tea-tree oil was slower. Encouragingly, fewer side effects were experienced by patients treated with tea-tree oil.”
Although the tea tree oil took longer to work initially, there were fewer side effects. In the benzoyl peroxide group, 79 percent of people had side effects including itching, stinging, burning, and dryness. Researchers noted that there were far less side effects in the tea tree oil group.
Another study from the University of Maryland Medical Center tested tea tree oil against benzoyl peroxide. The study included 119 people with mild-to-moderate acne, and tea tree oil proved its worth once again. While the acne in both the tea tree oil and benzoyl peroxide group improved, those using tea tree oil reported far less side effects.
Tea tree oil will be kinder to your face than most other commercial treatments. The trick may be in learning how to apply it correctly:
- Test your sensitivity first by applying a couple drops of tea tree oil to the inside of your forearm with a cotton swab. If there is no burning, rash or irritation after two hours you can try a facial treatment.
- If there was some irritation you could still use the tea tree oil, but in a diluted form: five drops tea tree oil with five drops water (or a 50 percent dilution). Retest until you find a dilution that works for you.
- Gently wash your face and then saturate your cotton swab with your tea tree oil solution. Apply this directly to your problem area, and leave it (no rinsing). Do this once in the morning and once at night.
- Once a day you can use an astringent rinse on your face (four drops tea tree oil into one cup of dechlorinated water.)
- Once a week use a healing facial mask by whisking 4 drops of tea tree oil into an egg white. Leave this on your skin for fifteen minutes and then rinse with lukewarm, dechlorinated water.
If any of these steps result in worsening or irritation, discontinue immediately. Also, be sure your tea tree oil is one hundred percent pure because additives might be the cause of an adverse reaction.
November 29th, 2010
By: Theunis Bates
A 15-year-old British girl has been arrested on suspicion of inciting religious hatred after she allegedly set fire to an English-language copy of the Koran and posted footage of the incident on Facebook.
The unidentified teenager is accused of torching the Islamic holy book at her school in Sandwell, near the city of Birmingham in central England, as other students watched. She was questioned by police on Friday and was released later that day pending further inquiries.
Police also arrested a 14-year-old boy on Tuesday on suspicion of making threats on the social networking site, in connection with the alleged burning. He has also been released on bail pending further inquiries.
The group that published the English-language version of the Koran is believed to have visited the school this week, to talk to pupils and explain the significance of the book to Muslims, the BBC reports.
Under British law, if an adult is found guilty of religious hatred — something no one has been convicted of since the law was introduced in 2006 — they can face up to seven years in prison, a fine or both. However, it is not clear what kind of penalty a minor found guilty of the charge would incur.
June 15, 2010
By Brian Skoloff and Matthew Daly
PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (AP) – President Barack Obama promised that life would return to normal for people living on the stricken Gulf Coast, and BP said by the end of the month it would contain more than three times as much oil spewing from a ruptured undersea well.
The pledges didn’t placate some residents.
“I think that as long as BP is still in control, there’s not a lot he can do other than show support for the residents of these Gulf states,” Jennifer Jenkins, 34, of Long Beach, said of Obama.
The president visited Mississippi and Alabama Monday as part of a two-day stop. He sought to assure residents – and the country – that the government will “leave the Gulf Coast in better shape than it was before.” He visits Florida on Tuesday ahead of a national address on the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, which has become a stern test of his presidency.
His trip coincided with BP announcing that it could trap a maximum of roughly 2.2 million gallons of oil daily by the end of June as it deploys additional containment efforts, including a system that could start burning off vast quantities as early as Tuesday.
It also came as documents revealed that BP made a series of money-saving shortcuts and blunders that dramatically increased the danger of a destructive spill from a well that an engineer ominously described as a “nightmare” just six days before the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.
Investigators found that BP was badly behind schedule on the project and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars with each passing day, and responded by cutting corners in the well design, cementing and drilling mud efforts and the installation of key safety devices.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee released dozens of internal documents that outline several problems on the deep-sea rig in the days and weeks before the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers and set in motion the catastrophe. The committee has been investigating.
May 11, 2010
By Alice Park
It might turn out to be the ultimate irony in our constant battle with the bulge that the best weapon against fat could be fat.
Scientists know that a type of adipose tissue called brown fat tends to burn calories rather than store them. Most adults have far more white fat than brown fat, since it’s more important to store calories for future use than to use them up. But when it comes to weight loss, the energy-burning power of brown fat could actually prove useful. And based on continuing research in mice, it appears that researchers have found some promising ways to exploit its fast-acting features. This week, in a study published in the journal Science, a group of European scientists, led by Stephan Herzig at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, report that they have discovered a way to make regular white fat act more like the calorie-hungry brown fat and melt away pounds in overweight animals.
The researchers focused on an enzyme known as cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), which is involved in a variety of physiologic functions, from regulating blood pressure to controlling inflammation and contracting muscles. (The class of painkillers known as COX-2 inhibitors, like Celebrex, takes advantage of COX-2′s role in inflammation by clamping down on the enzyme’s activity.)
In mice, boosting the function of COX-2 caused the animals’ white fat to act like brown fat, and led to a 20% drop in their weight. “There has been a lot of excitement around brown fat, but … there wasn’t any clear indication that turning up brown fat would make animals lose weight,” says Chad Cowan, a professor in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard Medical School who studies fat cell development. “What this paper does is make a good link to something that might be clinically beneficial.”