Flaxseed May Lower Risk of Sudden Heart Death

November 10, 2004

Researchers at Harvard University Medical School state that a healthy serving of flaxseed may provide enough alpha-linolenic acid to help prevent sudden cardiac death in women. Heart rhythm problems happen when the heart starts beating uncontrollably. The chaotic beating does not pump enough blood and can cause sudden cardiac death. Alpha-linolenic acid may stabilize the heart and restore an effective pumping rhythm. Approximately 340,000 Americans die each year from sudden cardiac death according to the American Heart Association. In this study of over 76,000 women, those who ate the most alpha-linolenic acid had a 46% lower risk of sudden cardiac death than women who consumed the least. The study was presented at the November 7th to 12th 2004 American Heart Associations Scientific Sessions in New Orleans.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph

Recently we reviewed a study that found the same protective effect from Fish Oil omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA). The flaxseed oil fats are converted by your body into the fats found in fish oil.

Taking a Multiple-Vitamin, Mineral Supplement before Pregnancy Prevents Prematurity

According to this new study conducted at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, women who regularly took a multiple vitamin before conceiving were half as likely to deliver their babies prematurely. The study is in the current issue of the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Herbs and Lifestyle Changes May Aid the Prostate

Benign prostatic hyperplasia refers to the growth of the prostate gland that occurs commonly as men age. As the prostate enlarges it puts increasing pressure on the urethra, the tube that urine passes through, and it can irritate the bladder. Symptoms include a weak urinary stream, residual urine pooling in the bladder, frequent urgency to void, and frequent nighttime visits to the bathroom. In the current issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch a review of 18 studies of Saw Palmetto shows that it cuts nighttime urination and other symptoms by about one-quarter. The studies included approximately 3,000 men aged 40 to 88. Other promising herbs include Pygeum africanum, and Urtica dioica. Lifestyle suggestions include reducing caffeine and alcohol consumption, avoid them after 3 p.m. The report is published in the November 2004 issue of the Harvard Men's Health Watch.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph

Many studies show that these herbs have a much stronger benefit when used in combination.

Thyroid Hormone Helpful for MS

In rats with a chronic demyelinating disease, giving thyroid hormone improved the replacement of myelin. Myelin is the insulating sheath around brain nerve tissue. Loss of myelin is the problem in multiple sclerosis (MS), and the researchers believe that thyroid therapy may benefit people with MS. Previous studies show that thyroid hormone is needed for the proper maturation of the cells that produce myelin and there is evidence that thyroid function is disturbed in MS patients. The earlier an MS patient starts thyroid hormone therapy, the greater the benefit apparently. The study is reported in the November 16th, 2004 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

DHEA Supplementation Helps Decrease Midriff Obesity

DHEA is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands. DHEA has its own activities including proper control of the immune system, it is also partially converted to the hormones testosterone and estrogen. By the time you reach your 70s you have only about 20% of the DHEA that you had in your early 20s. In this study 56 people aged 65 and older took DHEA 50mg a day, which improved the blood levels of DHEA mirroring those of a much younger person, or they received an inactive placebo for comparisons sake. At the end of six months both men and women on DHEA had a significant decrease in abdominal obesity. The function of insulin improved and insulin resistance decreased. DHEA supplementation may help decrease the risk of disease linked with aging including insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The study appears in the November 10th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Commentary by Jerry Hickey, R.Ph

DHEA strongly deserves attention and large, long term studies need to be conducted. Until then, speak to your health care professional before taking DHEA, and only take the amount they advise.