Saturday, June 28, 2008

Taurine's health benefits

Taurine, often referred to as an amino acid, is not part of the human body's structural proteins. Instead, taurine remains free in the tissues and bloodstream. In fact, taurine is one of the most abundant free amino-acid-like compounds found in the heart, the skeletal muscles and the nervous system.
At times of extreme physical exertion, the body no longer produces the required amounts of taurine, which results in a relative deficiency. Taurine acts as a metabolic transmitter and is also known to have a detoxifying effect.
Taurine also plays an important role in the brain. Some researchers believe that taurine can be a beneficial dietary supplement for people who suffer from bipolar disorder (manic depression).

Taurine and heart disease
In Japan, taurine is used to treat ischemic heart disease as well as certain heart arrhythmias. People who suffer from congestive heart failure are reported to have benefited from taurine therapy - in the amount of 3 to 5 grams per day - and taurine may also be helpful in the treatment of both hypertension and high cholesterol.

Taurine and type 1 diabetes
Studies (1) have demonstrated that taurine acts as a potent antioxidant and improves drug-induced type 1 diabetes mellitus in laboratory rats, by combating the destructive effect oxygen free radicals have on the pancreas. Moreover, the second mechanism by which taurine improves insulin resistance is through an increase in the excretion of cholesterol via conversion to bile acid.
Because type 1 diabetes is so devastating if not treated properly, taurine in the amount of 500 mg 1 to 3 times a day is generally a good idea in these cases.
Studies (2) have shown that even in infants, taurine insufficiency results in reduced bile acid secretion, reduced fat absorption and reduce liver function, all of which can be reversed by supplementing the diet with taurine.
These studies also support the theory that taurine is essential for proper development and growth. Consequently, taurine has been added to most commercially-available infant formulas.

Taurine and hepatitis
In a double-blind, randomized study (3), acute hepatitis patients were given taurine in the amount of 4 grams 3 times a day after meals. The participants in the taurine study experienced significant decreases in bilirubin, and total bile acids.

Taurine and alcoholism
Taurine has been shown to be useful in treating people with alcohol dependency. In people undergoing alcohol withdrawal, taurine given at 1 gram 3 times per day for 7 days resulted in significantly fewer psychotic episodes when compared to people who were taking a placebo (4).
Yet another study (5) involving over 3,000 alcohol dependent people with who were given taurine at similar doses showed that taurine is more effective than placebo at preventing alcohol relapse. The effectiveness of this taurine supplement appeared to be dependent on the dose given.

How safe is taurine?
Human and animal studies (6) have demonstrated overwhelmingly that taurine is a safe - and beneficial - supplement. In my opinion, we carry one of the highest quality taurine in our office from Biotics Research.

(1) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71, No. 1, 54-58, January 2000
(2) Hayes KC, Stephan ZF, Sturman JA. Growth depression in taurine-depleted infant monkeys. J Nutr1980;110:2058-2064.
(3) Matsuyama Y, Morita T, Higuchi M, Tsujii T. The effect of taurine administration on patients with acute hepatitis.
(4) Ikeda H. Effects of taurine on alcohol withdrawal. Lancet 1977;2:509.
(5) Wilde MI, Wagstaff AJ. Acamprosate. A review of its pharmacology and clinical potential in the management of alcohol dependence after detoxification. Drugs 1997;53:1038-1053.
(6) Van Gelder NM, Sherwin AL, Sacks C, Andermann F. Biochemical observations following administration of taurine to patients with epilepsy. Brain Res 1975;94:297-306.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

"Natural Calm"

A patient walked in Saturday and commented on how he was manging his diabetes with our magnesium supplement "Natural Calm". He said his blood pressure normalized, he has taken less insulin (140, down from 200 units), he could sleep better.

Another patient remarked on how she had irregular bowel movements which improved to be the best she's ever had in her 20 some years (you really shouldn't have these issues, being so young. But she has many more issues that we are resolving that traditional medicine has not helped her with.)

Lastly, my pregnant wife couldn't fall asleep so at 2 am I made her some Mama Calm with honey and she did sleep better afterwards.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My sore throat

I had a sore throat today. I took my "natural antibiotic" - ADP several times with little effect, even after testing myself and visually confirming my sputum that it was bacterial. I also took an immune booster - Bio-Immunozyme Forte with the ADP. This usually does the trick. But the sore throat persisted. Just now I am doing acupuncture and blogging. After just two needles and not even one minute of time had passed my sore throat and head congestion started clearing up. Yes, acupuncture still amazes me after many years in practice.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Arthritis aid from your food...

Finally, I came across a government website which explains at least turmeric and other herbs that may help you in your struggle against arthritis, improve your digestion and helps your liver.

O g Trans Fats?

Did you know that 0g trans fats on PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED oils is the same as having trans fats. The loophole for manufacturer is they ROUND DOWN anything less than 0.5 g trans fatty acids. So next time you see O g Trans Fats READ THE LABEL!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Potential Dangers of Sucralose

There's a new artificial sweetener on the block and it is already in a wide range of products, some even sold in health food stores and manufactured by nutritionally-oriented companies. But is it proven safe? Does it provide any benefit to the public? Does it help with weight loss? Are there any long term human studies? Has it been shown to be safe for the environment? The answer to all of these questions is unfortunately a resounding NO.

The artificial sweetener sucralose, which is sold under the name Splenda™, is one of the up-and-coming "next generation" of high-intensity sugar substitutes. It is non-caloric and about 600 times sweeter than sucrose (white table sugar), although it can vary from 320 tp 1,000 times sweeter, depending on the food application. The white crystalline powder tastes like a lot like sugar, but is more intense in its sweetness.

How it is Manufactured

Sucralose is produced by chlorinating sugar (sucrose). This involves chemically changing the structure of the sugar molecules by substituting three chlorine atoms for three hydroxyl groups.

Safety Concerns

Few human studies of safety have been published on sucralose. One small study of diabetic patients using the sweetener showed a statistically significant increase in glycosylated hemoglobin (Hba1C), which is a marker of long-term blood glucose levels and is used to assess glycemic control in diabetic patients. According to the FDA, "increases in glycosolation in hemoglobin imply lessening of control of diabetes.

Research in animals has shown that sucralose can cause many problems in rats, mice, and rabbits, such as:

Shrunken thymus glands (up to 40% shrinkage)
Enlarged liver and kidneys.
Atrophy of lymph follicles in the spleen and thymus
Increased cecal weight
Reduced growth rate
Decreased red blood cell count
Hyperplasia of the pelvis
Extension of the pregnancy period
Aborted pregnancy
Decreased fetal body weights and placental weights

A compound chemically related to sucrose, 6-chloro-deoxyglucose, is known to have anti-fertility and neurotoxic effects, although animal studies of sucralose have not shown these effects.

According to the FDA's "Final Rule" report, "Sucralose was weakly mutagenic in a mouse lymphoma mutation assay." The FDA aslo reported many other tests as having "inconclusive" results.

In terms of safety, it is not just the original substance (sucralose) that one needs to worry about. As the FDA notes, "Because sucralose may hydrolyze in some food products...the resulting hydrolysis products may also be ingested by the consumer."

Is There Any Long-Term Human Research?

None. According to the Medical Letter on Drugs & Therapeutics, "Its long-term safety is unknown." According to the Sucralose Toxicity Information Center, the "Manufacturer's '100's of studies' (some of which show hazards) were clearly inadequate and do not demonstrate safety in long-term use."

Is Sucralose Absorbed or Metabolized?

Despite the manufacturer's claims to the contrary, sucralose is significantly absorbed and metabolized by the body. According to the FDA's "Final Rule" report, 11% to 27% of sucralose is absorbed in humans, and the rest is excreted unchanged in feces. According to the Japanese Food Sanitation Council, as much as 40% of ingested sucralose is absorbed.

Plasma sucralose has been reported to have a half-life of anywhere from 2 to 5 hours in most studies, although the half-life in rabbits was found to be much longer at about 36 hours.

About 20% to 30% of absorbed sucralose is metabolized. Both the metabolites and unchanged absorbed sucralose are excreted in urine. The absorbed sucralose has been found to concentrate in the liver, kidney, and gastrointestinal tract. According to The Sucralose Toxicity Information Center, sucralose is broken down "into small amounts of 1,6-dichlorofructose, a chemical which has not been adequtely tested in humans."


The FDA acknowledges that sucralose "is produced at an approximate purity of 98%." While that may sound pretty pure, just what is in that other 2%? It turns out that the final sucralose product contains small amounts of potentially dangerous substances such as:

Heavy Metals (e.g., Lead)
Triphenilphosphine Oxide
Chlorinated Disaccharides
Chlorinated Monosaccharide
Although manufacturing guidelines do specify limits on these substances there is no guarantee that such limits will always be met.

Environmental Concerns

Despite the fact that a portion of sucralose is metabolized into some chemicals of questionable safety, a majory of the consumed sucralose is excreted unchanged in the feces and urine. While that may be good for the person using the product, it may not be so great for the environment.

Although sucralose is being flushed down toilets wherever sucralose is approved for sale, what happens to it next is simply a matter for speculation. I know of no studies showing what happens to the chemical when the raw sewage is treated and then released back into the environment.

Does it remain stabile or react with other substances to form new compounds?
Is the sucralose or any resulting chemicals safe for the environment?
How will this chemical affect aquatic life such as fish, as well as other animals?
Will sucralose begin to appear in our water supplies, just as some drugs are beginning to be found. (See my other blog postings.)

Of course, we will likely not know the answers to these questions for many years, if at all. One of the main reasons for this is that the FDA did not require an Environmental Impact Statement for sucralose, because in their words, "the action will not have a significant impact on the human environment."

Lead Levels and ADHD

Research appearing in Archives of Environmental Health (May/June, 1996;51(3):214-220) indicates that there may be a connection between lead leavels and ADD. Lead was measured in hair samples from 277 first graders. The data was correlated with questionnaires from parents and teachers. The researchers found a relationship between lead levels and negative ratings from teachers. They also found that lead levels tended to be high in students with doctor-diagnosed ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

IQ & Thyroid Function in Pregnancy

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (1999;341:549-555, 601-602), if a woman is pregnant and has an underactive thyroid, the IQ of the child may be adversely affected. Children between the ages of seven and nine, with mothers who had untreated hypothyroidism, scored an average of seven points lower on IQ tests than children with mothers that had normal thyroid function. The article goes on to say that during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy the fetus relies entirely on the mother for thyroid hormone. They thyroid may play a role in brain development.
Dr. Tang's note: ask us if natural thyroid supplements may help you.