Body damage: what can you do to repair it?

zarkovPotassium orotate is a mineral salt normally found in the body in small amounts. Orotate (orotic acid) is a raw material used by the body to make the genetic substances RNA and DNA.

Potassium is an essential element which helps to regulate the amounts of water and electrolytes in cells and plays an important role in nerve conduction and muscle contraction. Disorders and symptoms linked to potassium deficiency include:

  • diarrhea
  • increased urination
  • vomiting
  • muscle weakness
  • bowel obstruction
  • cardiovascular and heartbeat abnormalities
  • decreased reflex response
  • respiratory paralysis
  • growth retardation
  • diabetes and insulin resistance
  • rheumatoid arthritis

The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults consume at least 4,700 mg/day of potassium. But it is thought that most Americans and Europeans consume far less than that.

Dr. Hans Nieper, the innovative German physician, popularized potassium orotate as a supplement during the 1970s and 1980s by using it to treat or prevent cardiovascular disease, wounds, and post-surgical immune suppression. Nieper found that potassium orotate has better bioavailability than other potassium supplements.

The medical applications of potassium orotate have also been studied by other researchers besides Nieper. Some significant areas of application include:

  • diabetes • heart damage (from surgery or heart attack)
  • depression
  • lung damage (tuberculosis)
  • epilepsy
  • liver repair (hepatitis, cirrhosis)
  • skin infections
  • prevention of dental cavities
  • bone fractures
  • inner ear dysfunction (dizziness, disorientation)
  • kidney failure
  • anxiety in stressful situations
  • circulatory problems
  • muscle function during heavy exercise
  • wound healing

Many of the above conditions involve the repair of tissue damaged by trauma or disease. Why should potassium orotate be especially useful for tissue repair? One reason is that potassium is a regulator of cell death and cell replication — it can ‘tip the scales’ in favor of tissue growth. Another reason is that orotate, too, promotes cell replication. It shouldn’t be surprising then that potassium and orotate, working together as potassium orotate, would be an excellent aid to the regeneration of many different tissues, regardless of the cause of the damage.

Mountain Healing

In 1776, while the Declaration of Independence was being drafted, the great French botanist Andre Michaux stood atop North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain and sang the French national anthem. It was a moment that represented the culmination of years of exploration into the magnificent variety of plants that flourish in the southern Appalachians — a concentration of flora unequaled on the North American continent or even in the whole of Europe.

As significant as was the work of Michaux, Native American tribes such as the Cherokee and the Catawba had been roaming the lush hillsides and gorges for centuries before his time, discovering a multitude of uses for these plants — one of the most significant being medicinal. The region is a veritable outdoor pharmacy of medicinal plants, which were not only part of the recipes of yesterday’s tribal medicine men, but continue to occupy a place in today’s pharmacopoeias. In fact, so important are the botanical sources of modern medicines that environmental scientist G. Tyler Miller has estimated that 40 percent of all the medicine on the shelves of today’s drugstores have plant origins.

While any attempt at a complete listing of known medicinal plants of the southern Appalachians might require volumes, a brief walk along their paths will, I hope, serve to illustrate the enormous impact the area has had on modern medical practice.

Let’s begin with a heart medication. A member of the figwort family, growing 2 to 5 feet in height, is the purple foxglove (Digitalis purpurea). With lance-shaped to oval leaves, these spires of thimble-like flowers — from white to pinkish lavender to red bloom from June to September. This beautiful plant is the source of digitalis, a cardiac stimulant extracted from the leaves that has kept millions of heart patients alive.

Foxglove is among the loveliest, most famous, most important and most dangerous of medicinal plants. Used improperly, it is as likely to stop a heart as it is to keep it going.

Its usefulness was first discovered in 1775 by the English physician William Withering. He had heard of an old woman who practiced folk medicine with herbs gathered from the countryside. A patient afflicted with excessive fluid retention caused by congestive heart failure, who Withering expected to die, was cured by this healer. From this woman’s bag of weeds, Withering identified foxglove as the key element in treating swelling or edema associated with congestive heart failure. The paper he published in 1785 to inform other physicians of his findings is a classic of medical literature.

From heart medicine we move to what some have called the “Prozac of Europe.” St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) is native to Europe but grows throughout the eastern United States, including the southern highlands. An erect perennial shrub with bright yellow flowers from June through September, it has found extensive use as a treatment for depression in European medical practice. It is beginning to enjoy increased usage in the United States; however, caution should be exercised in its use since St. John’s wort contains hypericin, a photosensitory substance that reacts with light to cause skin burns in some people.

A traditional astringent (skin cleaner) and ingredient in numerous other pharmaceutical products is witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana). It is a bush of the southern mountains that surprises us by blooming in autumn rather than spring, putting on a colorful display of bright yellow flowers that grow in feathery clusters. The name, witch hazel, developed from its reputed properties as a divining rod; folklore tells of the plant’s tendency to bend toward the Earth when held over underground water.

Witch hazel is extremely important commercially. The extract made by distilling the bark and leaves in alcohol has been used by pharmacists for more than a century. Bottles on the shelves of drugstores worldwide have labels recommending use of the extract for bruises, insect bites, sun burn, poison ivy rash and as an aftershave lotion.

Still another abundant medicinal plant of southern Appalachia is the mayapple, known botanically as Podophyllum peltatum. These plants usually grow in clusters with umbrella-like leaves, a white inconspicuous flower, and a small greenish yellow fruit, whose sweet taste makes it ideal for jams, jellies and preserves. A medicinal substance called podophyllum is obtained from the dried powdered root and, compounded with tincture of benzoin, is used as a caustic for the removal of warts and other papillomas.

During the warm months of August and September, when little else blooms in the fields and hillsides, the light blue flowers of Indian tobacco (Lobelia inflata) grace the landscape. The stems are yellow to purplish, quite hairy, and branched about midway. Its medicinal substance is an alkaloid called lobeline, which is derived from the leaves and tops of the plant, which, when dried to a powder, are greenish-yellow in color. Lobeline is used as a respiratory stimulant and for the treatment of spasmodic bronchitis and chronic emphysema. Its popular name comes from the fact that American Indians once smoked its leaves to relieve asthma and other ailments. In recent years, lobeline has also found use as an ingredient in preparations designed to help people curb the smoking habit.

Continuing our walk along the paths of the southern Appalachians, we see brilliant splashes of pumpkin-orange flowers signifying the presence of butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). The name is appropriate because monarchs, swallowtails and other butterflies are especially attracted to this member of the milkweed family when it is in bloom. Although no longer used in modern medicine because of the highly toxic glycosides in its roots, butterfly weed was long used by Native Americans, who powdered the roots and mixed them into a paste to spread on sores, as well as brewed its leaves to induce perspiration and expectoration in people with severe respiratory ailments such as pleurisy. Hence one of its alternative names: pleurisy root.

In early spring in the moist rich recesses of Appalachian forests, the smooth bluish stem and large single unfolding leaf of the blue cohosh plant (Caulophyllum thalictroides) stand out vividly against the surrounding bareness. As the plant grows, it blends in with the rest of the forest until late summer, when deep blue berries (which are actually seeds) attract the eye. Indian tribes used them to relieve rheumatism, colic, and menstrual cramps. Today, herbalists continue to use the roots to treat rheumatism.

By midsummer, fields and roads of the southern highlands are crowded with intricately patterned flat flower clusters of Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota), a member of the carrot family. Through the years, extracts from this widely distributed biennial were used medicinally as diuretics and to dissolve kidney stones. The seeds were eaten to eliminate intestinal worms and gas.

While extracts of Queen Anne’s lace are not generally used by today’s herbalist as a diuretic, research has confirmed their effectiveness in dispelling intestinal gas. The wild root is also rich in vitamin A, but care should be taken not to ingest it in excessive amounts. (Too much vitamin A can be harmful to your health.)

Another plant which is native to eastern North America, including the southern Appalachians, is the Oswego tea plant (Monarda didyma), sometimes also called bee balm. The name comes from the use of its aromatic leaves by the Oswego Indians of western New York and also the Shakers, who thought the tea to be effective in treating colds and sore throats. Still other settlers steamed the plant and inhaled the fumes to clear sinuses. Although medicinal use of the plant is no longer widespread, the aromatic oil of Oswego tea continues to be used in the perfume industry.

No trip through the southern Appalachians would be complete without acknowledging one of the most widespread plants — Mentha piperita — which is the botanical name for the well-known peppermint. It has the unusual feature of square stems and rootstocks that take root along the ground, enabling the plant to spread from one growing season to the next. The oil is obtained by steam distillation of the aboveground parts and is used in many medicinal products, particularly cold remedies.

Our journey through the southern Appalachians has touched on but a few of the myriad plants with healing properties. In fact, the area is such a rich source of medicinal plants that the S. B. Penick Company, a botanical drug corporation headquartered in New York, maintained a branch office in Asheville, N.C., for many years.

Since prehistoric times, humans have turned to plants for healing, and the quest has not ended in disappointment. Modern pharmacology will continue to look for new sources of “green medicine,” and one place to which it will surely return is the lush green forests of the southern Appalachians. For there has been, and will continue to be, healing in the mountains.


Tomatoes combat killer diseases – and are even more potent when cooked

Eating tomatoes can help reduce the risk of cancer, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, scientists have revealed.

Not only that but cooked or processed tomatoes are actually better for you than raw ones.

U.S researchers found the juicy vegetable is the biggest source of powerful antioxidant dietary lycopene, and unlike other fruit and vegetables it has greater potency after it is cooked.

Scientists at the National Centre of Food and Safety in Illinois said the nutrient contains protective mechanisms that help prevent inflammation and blood clots.

A strong link has already been established between the wonder veg and a lower risk of certain diseases such as prostate cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis.

Dr Britt Burton-Freeman and and Dr Kristin Reimers, who carried out the review, said: ‘Leveraging emerging science about tomatoes and tomato products may be one simple and effective strategy to help individuals increase vegetable intake, leading to improved overall eating patterns, and ultimately, better health.

‘Research underscores the relationship between consuming tomatoes and reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, and other conditions.’

‘The evidence also suggests that consumption of tomatoes should be recommended because of the nutritional benefits and because it may be a simple and effective strategy for increasing overall vegetable intake.’

The review article will appear in the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine.

Why Too Much Bright Light Before Bed Harms Sleep

Sleep MelatoninHaving the lights on before bedtime could result in a worse night’s sleep, according to a study to be published in the Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism.

The research shows that the body produces less of the sleep hormone melatonin when exposed to light.

Sleep patterns have been linked to some types of cancer, blood pressure and diabetes.

The US researchers also found lower melatonin levels in shift workers.

Lifestyles may have moved on from a day/night rhythm, but it seems the human body has not.

The pineal gland produces melatonin through the night and starts when darkness falls.

Researchers have shown that switching on lights in the home switches off the hormone’s production.

Less melatonin

In the study, 116 people spent five days in room where the amount of light and sleep was controlled. They were awake for 16 hours and asleep for eight hours each day.

Initially the patients were exposed to 16 hours of room light during their waking hours. They were then moved onto eight hours of room light in the morning and eight hours of dim light in the evening.

The researchers found that electrical light between dusk and bedtime strongly suppressed melatonin levels. With dim light, melatonin was produced for 90 minutes more a day.

Dr Joshua Gooley, lead author from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, said:

Our study shows that this exposure to indoor light has a strong suppressive effect on the hormone melatonin.”

“This could, in turn, have effects on sleep quality and the body’s ability to regulate body temperature, blood pressure and glucose levels.”

Keeping the lights on through the night also reduced the amount of melatonin produced.

Dr Gooley said: “Given that chronic light suppression of melatonin has been hypothesized to increase relative risk for some types of cancer and that melatonin receptor genes have been linked to type 2 diabetes, our findings could have important health implications for shift workers.”

Protect your cardiovascular system

The toxic amino-acid homocysteine — produced by the breakdown of protein during normal metabolism and physical activity, and by high-protein diets — is among the leading causes of heart disease, blood clots, arterial plaque, blood-vessel hardening, arterial blockages and strokes. More dangerous than high cholesterol, homocysteine may explain why otherwise healthy people unexpectedly drop dead from cardiovascular failures. Elevated homocysteine levels correlate with a 3.4 times greater risk of heart attack, and are linked with severe carotidartery obstructions. And it only gets worse!

As many as twenty percent of people with heart disease have high homocysteine levels, as may those suffering from osteoporosis, fibromyalgia, lupus, chronic fatigue syndrome, and depression. Because homocysteine is transported throughout the body in LDL or “bad” cholesterol, it might be the true cause of heart disease, instead of the cholesterol itself. This theory explains why cholesterol-lowering drugs do not always reduce the risk of heart disease or stroke. Homocysteine levels are forty times more accurate than cholesterol levels in predicting cardiovascular disease, and research shows that keeping levels low — with supplements like Lifelink’s TMG-15 — is crucial to good health.

But TMG-15 does far more than just detoxify homocysteine. It protects DNA against damage, reduces the risk of premature aging and cancer, shields the liver and kidneys against damage from chemicals and toxins, increases fat and lipid metabolism, and raises the levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and the metabolic-catalyst carnitine. Athletes rely on it to improve oxygen use and reduce lactic acid build-up, increasing energy and stamina, while reducing fatigue. That’s quite a lot for one supplement to do!

TMG-15, or trimethylglycine, is so beneficial because it supplies the body with plenty of methyl groups. These molecules are crucial for creating vitamins, neurotransmitters, enzymes, hormones, antibodies and DNA; simply put, without them, we’ll die. Methyls also convert toxic homocysteine into SAMe, or S-adenosylmethionine, a potent anti-inflammatory reducing pain and arthritis symptoms, and elevating mood. Without adequate methyl sources the body has trouble neutralizing homocysteine and building components critical for life. That’s why supplementing with TMG-15 is so important.

Derived from sugar beets, LifeLink’s TMG-15 is fortified with B-6, B-12, and folic acid to deliver maximum homocysteine detoxification. If you have heart disease or are at risk because of your family history, suffer from auto-immune disorders, or are on a high-protein diet like Atkins, you really need TMG-15. Even if you are otherwise healthy and not an athlete, you still need TMG-15 protecting your body from toxic homocysteine, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.