Herbal Health Solutions for Arthritis, Liver Disease, Inflammation,
and Infant Health
Herbal Newsletter featuring information on Green Tea, Milk Thistle, Folic Acid, Magnesium and Infant Health
Explore the healing power of herbal remedies and the benefits of herbal supplementation for wellness.
Green Tea Polyphenols: A Powerful Weapon Against Arthritis
By Greg Arnold, August 11, 2004, Abstracted from “Prevention of collagen-induced arthritis in mice by
a polyphenolic fraction from green tea” in the April 1999 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy
The number of people with arthritis has doubled from 1985 (35 million) to 2002 (70 million) with 1 in 3 American
adults clinically diagnosed with arthritis. Arthritis is the nation’s leading cause of disability among Americans
over age 15, is second only to heart disease as a cause of work disability, and costs the U.S. economy more
than $86.2 billion each year.
Prescription drugs for arthritis is a multi-billion dollar industry (sales for the anti-arthritis drug Vioxx
topped $2 billion in 2002) and those high costs may be the reason for increased research on alternative therapies
for arthritis. Green tea is one such supplement receiving attention for arthritis.
In a 1999 study, researchers sought to determine the effect of green tea polyphenols on the severity of joint
degeneration in mice. Researchers gave six mice a solution containing green tea polyphenols and six other
mice water that served as the placebo. When analyzing the joints of the mice, researchers found that green
tea polyphenols “dramatically reduced” levels of inflammatory proteins consistently found in large
amounts in patients with arthritis.
The unique approach to the study was that it was not done on healthy mice but mice that were prone to developing
arthritis, making the inhibition of arthritis in these mice all that more significant and a testament to
the power of green tea polyphenols.
Unfortunately, researchers did not specify the amount of green tea polyphenols given to the mice but that
polyphenols made up 20% of the solution fed the mice. This makes it impossible to specify an amount of polyphenols
that will exhibit an ant-arthritis effect, but the fact that green tea polyphenols did produce an anti-arthritis
effect still provides a reason to not only start to incorporate green tea into your diet, but it also provides
a reason to continue studying green tea as an anti-arthritis supplement.
For more information and list of helpful products Green
Milk Thistle: Should Western Medicine Finally Accept It?
By Greg Arnold, July 19, 2004, Abstracted from “Milk Thistle for the Treatment of Liver Disease: A Systematic
Review and Meta-Analysis” in the American Journal of Medicine 2002; 113: 506—515
Chronic liver disease causes more than 25,000 deaths each year in the United States, with liver failure ranking
tenth as a cause of death. With alcohol being one of the most common causes of liver disease (the other being
viral hepatitis), chronic liver disease is a fully preventable condition. For those already stricken and
those wishing to prevent liver disease, milk thistle may indeed be an effective treatment option.
Milk thistle’s popularity in the United States is increasing, with sales increasing fifty-one percent from
1998—1999 and ranking tenth among all supplements sold in the United States. But even with this rising
popularity, just how effective is milk thistle?
Studies of milk thistle on animals have shown it to be liver-protective by helping prevent damage from aspirin,
alcohol, iron overload and radiation. For protection against toxins, milk thistle competes for liver cell
receptor sites so toxins are unable to bind to them. Milk thistle’s antioxidant properties lie in its’ ability
to reduce free radical production.
Studies of milk thistle in humans have to be taken with a grain of salt because of the small populations used.
One study examining seventeen patients with alcoholic liver disease found milk thistle decreased markers
of liver disease by thirty and forty-one percent while control groups improved only five and three percent,
respectively.1 Milk thistle also decreased liver damage of women who were pregnant or on birth control pills.
Western medicine’s procrastination in embracing milk thistle because of the lack of plentiful credible studies
should not dissuade potential users. Its’ long history of use and high level of tolerability warrant milk
thistle’s place as an adjunctive treatment both for the prevention and treatment of liver disease.
Folic Acid Might be One of The Best Ways to Prevent Disease
Reprinted with permission from Patrick B. Massey, M.D., Ph.D., The “Alternative Approach,” Daily
Herald, August 16, 2004
Folic acid which is a common B vitamin may very well one of the best supplements to take for preventing disease which leads to medical expense. By supplementing with Folic acid it helps to protect the DNA from damage. It also aids in the formation of hemoglobin, which moves oxygen
throughout the body. It also helps to produce serotonin, a brain chemical that is linked to the emotions and mood.
Even though folic acid is one of the essential vitamins we can receive from our diet, research has shown it is better absorbed by our bodies through supplementation. Only around fifty percent of the folic acid from the vegetables we eat is actually absorbed. Whereas up to eighty-five to ninety-five percent is absorbed from dietary supplements.
It is very important that a women during pregnancy supplement with Folic acid to help in the prevention of neural tube deficits found in newborn children. Spina bifida causes malformations which are found in the skull and spinal column of the fetus during early
Folic acid also has been associated with helping to prevent breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, colon cancer,
lung cancer, blood clots and chronic fatigue – all at a cost of pennies per day. Some research even indicates
promise against Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, though more studies are needed.
With such a powerful compound, one would think that the government and medical system would heavily promote
Unfortunately, when the prevention of heart disease, cancer, stroke and even neural tube defects is discussed,
folic acid often is not at the top of the list (prenatal vitamins with folic acid are recommended during
pregnancy, but neural tube defects develop in the first few weeks, often before a woman knows she is pregnant).
Can daily consumption of folic acid really save lives and money?
Consider that about 1,500 children are born with spina bifida each year and the annual medical and surgical
costs exceed $200 million annually. The majority of cases probably could have been prevented by adequate
folic acid in the diet. The total lifetime cost to a family of one infant born with spina bifida might be
well above $1 million and the cost in quality of life is beyond measure. A daily dose of folic acid costs
less than a gumball.
In addition, if folic acid reduced the incidence of heart disease and cancer by only 5 percent, hundreds of
millions of dollars and thousands of lives could be saved every year – again, for less than the cost of that
The recommended daily intake of folic acid is 400 micrograms. Some studies have shown that slightly higher
amounts might afford increased protection for heart disease and cancer. Folic acid can be found in multivitamins,
beans, vegetables, organ meats, fruits and vitamin-fortified foods like cereal.
Even though there are many ways to get folic acid, it has been estimated that 30 percent of men and 66 percent
of women in the United States consume less than the recommended 400 micrograms.
Taking more is not toxic, but mega dose folic acid might mask a form of anemia linked to vitamin B12 deficiency.
Good information is available through the Centers for Disease Control at www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/folicacid.
I believe the government and medical community should be doing more to actively support the use of a daily
combination vitamin. Until that happens, don’t forget your supplement!
more information about Folic
Acid and helpful products.
Low Magnesium: A Principal Cause Of Inflammation?
By Greg Arnold, August 9, 2004, Abstracted from “Low magnesium promotes endothelial cell dysfunction:
implications for atherosclerosis, inflammation and thrombosis” in the May 24, 2004 issue of Biochimica
Biophysica Acta: The Molecular Basis of Disease
After sodium, magnesium is the most abundant mineral in each cell. It is involved in over 300 different reactions
in the body involving metabolism, protein and DNA formation. While magnesium is regarded as “one of
the most important minerals for strengthening bone,” recent research has now found low magnesium to
be critical in causing a more serious condition: the inflammation that plays a part in heart disease, diabetes,
and high blood pressure.
A new study has found that low levels of magnesium in the body interfere with the function of cells that form
the barrier between blood and blood vessels. These cells, called endothelial cells, become dysfunctional
when magnesium is low. Researchers cultured cells in different amounts of magnesium and found that the lower
the magnesium level the more dysfunctional the endothelial cells became. Particularly, low magnesium increased
the formation of interleukin-1, one of the main proteins present during inflammation. When these endothelial
cells become dysfunctional, they enhance the clotting and plaque formation that are the hallmarks of the
inflammation causing heart disease and high blood pressure.
Unfortunately, the researchers did not convert the amount of Mg used in the cultures to milligrams. So this
study, although useful, still leaves us wondering if the current Mg RDA of 420 mg per day for men and 320
mg per day for women is adequate.
more information on Magnesium and
The Much-Needed Supplements Of The Growing Infant
By Greg Arnold, July 14, 2004, Abstracted from “Foods for Infants and Toddlers” in the October 2003
issue of Food Technology
Proper nutritional supplementation the first 2 years of an infant’s life can lay the groundwork for a healthy,
growing infant or a slowly-developing one. Here are some supplements to consider;
Iron: Iron deficiency
is the most common known form of nutritional deficiency, affecting 3.3 million women of childbearing age
and 240,000 children.1 In children, iron deficiency causes developmental delays and behavioral disturbances.
Inadequate iron intake can deplete iron stores in children by 4—6 months. Recommended intake after
6 months is 1 mg/kg per day to maintain iron stores.1
Zinc: Zinc supplementation
has already been encouraged to improve the health of the mother while zinc supplementation for infants is
necessary to optimize growth, development, and immune function.2 Zinc levels have been shown to fall in infants
after 6 months of age3 so supplementation must be maintained to optimize infant growth.
Studies have used mostly zinc sulfate (as opposed to zinc gluconate or zinc acetate) and have reported good
results with 10—20 mg per day but nausea and cramping at 50 mg per day.3
Vitamin D. The most severe picture of vitamin D deficiency is rickets. Yet despite numerous efforts at prevention,
rickets is still being reported in the literature. The current recommendation of vitamin D by the National
Academy of Sciences is 200 IU per day.4 Although vitamin D is made from sunlight exposure, the American Cancer
Society has strongly encouraged limited sun exposure to limit skin cancer incidence. This has placed an even
greater dependence on food and supplement supplies of Vitamin
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