Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Eat your veggies and sleep!

I've become fascinated with sleep. How much we need it. How little we value it. And what happens to our health when we don't get it. Sometimes I wonder if we should be obsessed with sleep and not worried about what we eat.

Now the two worlds have collided!

It has been found that melatonin is a component of some vegetables. Some Japanese researchers gave a group of women high amounts of six specific vegetables. Another group of women was asked to avoid these same vegetables during the same time period. The women who consumed the vegetables had higher amounts of melatonin by-products in their urine.

Melatonin, as you know from reading this blog, is a sleep enhancing hormone and a very powerful antioxidant.

Of course, the very first thing most people will ask on reading this, is "what vegetables?"

I don't think the power in this study comes from the melatonin content of the vegetables. Melatonin is a highly unstable compound and it would be challenging to have it stay intact in a compound that is harvested, stored, chopped, and cooked before eating.

What may be happening here, is that vegetables are great sources of antioxidants. And since melatonin appears to be the ultimate antioxidant, it is called to duty when other antioxidants are in short supply and cannot do their job. If your melatonin is on cleanup duty, it can't be used to help you sleep!

The melatonin in the urine, I'm guessing, came from the fact that melatonin was allowed to function as melatonin, and not changed as it was used as an antioxidant.

So...the strategy appears to be, to eat as many different vegetables as you can in order to have maximum antioxidant power. And that will give you a better chance at getting a good night's sleep.

I know that it's difficult not to yawn if you see someone else yawning, so on behalf of helping you feel sleepy, here's a wonderful blog a friend told me about yesterday!
It's called Cute Things Falling Asleep.

Oba S, Nakamura K, Sahashi Y, Hattori A, Nagata C. Consumption of vegetables alters morning urinary 6-sulfatoxymelatonin concentration. J Pineal Res. 2008 Aug;45(1):17-23. Epub 2008 Jan 15.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Some updates on fish oil

This article is from the following link:

It pretty much answers any questions I'd answer about fish oil so this morning Nutraingredients and ConsumerLab get credit for having built the best mousetrap!

ConsumerLab releases omega-3 test results
By Lorraine Heller, 05-Aug-2008

Related topics: Industry, Nutritional lipids and oils, Cardiovascular health, Cognitive and mental function

Independent product tester ConsumerLab.com has given the thumbs up to almost 50 omega-3 dietary supplements and functional foods for delivering on dosage and being contaminant-free.

The report, released today, is the group’s most comprehensive analysis of fish oils to date, said ConsumerLab president Tod Cooperman. The large majority (85 percent) of visitors to the organization's site are consumers looking for independent information on which products to purchase.

A total of 50 omega-3 fish oil supplements, foods and beverages were tested for contaminants and dosage (including two marketed for pets). Out of these, 23 were randomly selected by ConsumerLab to provide a “snapshot” of the market based on popular products found at different retail outlets. The other 27 products were tested at the request of their manufacturers, through ConsumerLab’s Voluntary Certification Program.

According to the results, all products met their label claims in regard to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) levels, with levels ranging from16 mg in a yogurt product to 1,000mg in a single pill.

In addition, all of the products tested were free of contaminants common in fish, including mercury, lead and PCBs. These contaminants have been associated with fish oil supplements in the past, and Consumerlab suggested cleaner fish stocks as well as improved processing had contributed to the glowing report card.

Not approved

All products tested bar one supplement brand and one product for pets received an approval rating from ConsumerLab.

The supplement brand that did not pass was Kirkland Signature Enteric Coated Fish Oil 1700 mg Concentrated Fish Oil. This, said ConsumerLab, was found to contain the level of EPA and DHA that it claimed, but it failed the enteric-coating test because it released its fish oil too early.

In accordance with ConsumerLab’s certification program guidelines, the group is able to announce the positive test results of brands that are volunteered by their manufacturers, but any negative results remain confidential.

Cooperman would not confirm if any of the omega-3 products provided for testing by their manufacturers failed the approval rating, but said that a clear indication of the state of the industry can be received from the 23 randomly selected products tested by the group.

In addition, he noted that the report clearly identifies which products were volunteered, and which were selected.

Questions raised

The report also took issue with some food and drink products that claimed to provide portions of a daily intake of omega-3s, when such a value has yet to be established.

According to ConsumerLab, fortified foods and beverages including Tropicana with Omega-3, Silk Soymilk Plus Omega-3 DHA, Yoplait Kids Yogurt with DHA, and the Aristo nutrition bar stated on labels that they supplied certain percentages of the ‘Daily Value’ of 160 mg for EPA and DHA.

“These statements are incorrect,” said ConsumerLab. “A Daily Value has not been established for EPA and/or DHA. Silk Soymilk Plus Omega-3 DHA also touted "400 mg beneficial Omega-3" above its Nutrition Facts panel, but only at the bottom of the other side of the carton did it note, in tiny letters, that just 32 mg of the total omega-3 is DHA. Testing found the remainder to be ALA.”

The160mg daily benchmark value was provided by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) in its Dietary Reference Intakes for Macronutrients, published in 2002. However, other organizations, such as the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids and the American Dietetic Association, recommend a minimum combined intake of 500 mg/day EPA and DHA to support heart health.

According to Robert Orr, president and CEO of leading omega-3 supplier Ocean Nutrition and also chair of GOED (the Global Organization for EPA and DHA Omega-3) said this highlights the need for national guidelines for omega-3 intake.

The issue is not so much which levels are currently being thrown around as reference levels, but the need to establish an RDI, he suggested. “The focus needs to be on the fact that there is a huge dietary deficiency,” he told NutraIngredients-USA.com earlier today.

Brands tested

Brands included in the ConsumerLab report are: Advocare, Aristo, Berkley & Jensen (BJ’s), Carlson, Coromega, CVS, Eniva, GNC, Health from the Sea, Iceland Health, Integrative Therapeutics, Jarrow, Great American Products, Healthy Hide, Kirkland (Costco), Lipiderm, Mega Smarts, Minami, Mommy’s Bliss, Natural Factors, Nature Made, Nature’s Bounty, Nature’s Sunshine, New Chapter, Nordic Naturals, Now, Nutramax, Nutri-Supreme, OmegaBrite, Omega-Gel, Origin (Target), PharmAssure, Pharmanex, Pure Encapsulations, Puritan’s Pride, Shaklee, Silk (WhiteWave), Spring Valley (Wal-Mart) Sundown, Swanson, Tropicana, Twinlab, USANA, Vital Oils, Vitamin Shoppe, Vitamin World, Wegmans, Weil, and Yoplait.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Being a banana brain just might be a good thing

Pyridoxine, a form of vitamin B6, is important for brain and nervous system function. It is needed for the chemical reactions that produce several neurotransmitters, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. A recent study found that a therapeutic dose of pyridoxine administered to mice decreased their depressive-type behaviors. The response was similar to what was seen when these mice were given imipramine (Tofranil). When the two compounds were administered together, pyridoxine did NOT increase the effectiveness of imipramine.

Bottom line? Before meds, be sure your diet is balanced in the nutrients your brain needs to properly function.

The table below is from the National Institutes of Health, and it lists your best food sources of pyridoxine.

Table of Food Sources of Vitamin B6
Food Milligrams (mg) per serving % DV*
Ready-to-eat cereal, 100% fortified, ¾ c 2.00 100
Potato, Baked, flesh and skin, 1 medium 0.70 35
Banana, raw, 1 medium 0.68 34
Garbanzo beans, canned, ½ c 0.57 30
Chicken breast, meat only, cooked, ½ breast 0.52 25
Ready-to-eat cereal, 25% fortified, ¾ c 0.50 25
Oatmeal, instant, fortified, 1 packet 0.42 20
Pork loin, lean only, cooked, 3 oz 0.42 20
Roast beef, eye of round, cooked, 3 oz 0.32 15
Trout, rainbow, cooked, 3 oz 0.29 15
Sunflower seeds, kernels, dry roasted, 1 oz 0.23 10
Spinach, frozen, cooked, ½ c 0.14 8
Tomato juice, canned, 6 oz 0.20 10
Avocado, raw, sliced, ½ cup 0.20 10
Salmon, Sockeye, cooked, 3 oz 0.19 10
Tuna, canned in water, drained solids, 3 oz 0.18 10
Wheat bran, crude or unprocessed, ¼ c 0.18 10
Peanut butter, smooth, 2 Tbs. 0.15 8
Walnuts, English/Persian, 1 oz 0.15 8
Soybeans, green, boiled, drained, ½ c 0.05 2
Lima beans, frozen, cooked, drained, ½ c 0.10 6

* DV = Daily Value. DVs are reference numbers based on the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). They were developed to help consumers determine if a food contains a lot or a little of a specific nutrient. The DV for vitamin B6 is 2.0 milligrams (mg). The percent DV (%DV) listed on the nutrition facts panel of food labels tells you what percentage of the DV is provided in one serving. Percent DVs are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Foods that provide lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.

Amara RO, Aburawi SM. Pyridoxine effect on the antidepressant action of imipramine in albino mice. Saudi Med J. 2008 Nov;29(11):1554-7.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Qnexa--The next frontier in weight management drugs--or is it?

Below my pontificating you will see a press release for a new weight loss medication, Qnexa.

My initial impressions:

1. This looks like the new twist on the old "phen-fen," phentermine being the common ingredient in both, with the problem compound, fenfluramine, being replaced with topiramate (Topamax). Topiramate is a mood stabilizing drug that has been found to have weight loss effects in some people and has been used in an off-label fashion for this purpose.

2. For the record, I've collected a bunch of references on potential side effects reported with topiramate, including: kidney stones, reduced testosterone in males, dry mouth, nausea, reduced sweating, body temperature regulation (which could become an issue if you're following directions and exercising more), cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome, and delusional parasitosis. (That's when you have the creepy feeling that bugs are crawling all over you when none are there.) References are provided below.

3. People aren't overweight because they have phentermine or topiramate deficiencies. Obesity is a huge target for drug research because there's such a huge market--it's a gold mine for anyone who can create and patent a medication that can stay on the market without its negative side effects forcing it to be yanked. My concern is once this med is used in large numbers some of these side effects are going to become huge problems.

4. Just beware if you decide to try this medication when it becomes available. It's not 100% foolproof. Anyone who prescribes you this medication without advising you of these potential problems may not fully understand how this medication works. And that's your red flag of a potential problem. Be informed!

Otoom S, Batieneh H, Hassan Z, Daoud A. Effects of long-term use Topiramate on fertility and growth parameter in adult male rats. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2004 Oct;25(5):351-5.

Sharief M, Viteri C, Ben-Menachem E, Weber M, Reife R, Pledger G, Karim R. Double-blind, placebo-controlled study of topiramate in patients with refractory partial epilepsy. Epilepsy Res 1996 Nov;25(3): 217-24.

Incecik F, Herguner MO, Altunbasak S. Topiramate associated hypohidrosis and hyperthermia. Indian Pediatr. 2008 Mar;45(3):238-40.

Cerminara C, Seri S, Bombardieri R, Pinci M, Curatolo P. Hypohidrosis during topiramate treatment: a rare and reversible side effect. Pediatr Neurol 2006 May;34(5):392-4.

Baillieux H, Verslegers W, Paquier P, De Deyn PP, Mariën P. Cerebellar cognitive affective syndrome associated with topiramate. Clin Neurol Neurosurg. 2008 May;110(5):496-9.

Fleury V, Wayte J, Kiley M.
Topiramate-induced delusional parasitosis. J Clin Neurosci. 2008 May;15(5):597-9.

Vega D, Maalouf NM, Sakhaee K. Increased propensity for calcium phosphate kidney stones with topiramate use. Expert Opin Drug Saf 2007 Sep;6(5):547-57.

Koçer A, Dikici S, Atakay S, Okuyucu E. Serum Uric Acid and Lipid Levels While Taking Topiramate for Migraine. Headache. 2007 Dec 27.

Qnexa Meets Primary Endpoint by Demonstrating Superior Weight Loss over
Components and Placebo in the 28-Week Equate Study (OB-301)

Subjects on Full-Dose Qnexa Attained an Average Weight Loss of 9.2% with
66% Achieving 5% or Greater Weight Loss

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec 11, 2008 - VIVUS, Inc.
(NASDAQ: VVUS), a pharmaceutical company dedicated to the development
and commercialization of novel therapeutic products, today announced
positive results from the EQUATE study (OB-301), a 28-week, phase 3
obesity trial conducted at 32 sites with QnexaTM, an investigational
drug. The EQUATE study met the primary endpoint by demonstrating
superior weight loss with both the full-dose and mid-dose of Qnexa, as
compared to the individual components and placebo. Subjects treated with
full-dose and mid-dose Qnexa had an average weight loss of 9.2% and 8.5%
respectively, as compared to weight loss of 1.7% reported in the placebo
group (ITT LOCF p<0.0001). Average weight loss was 19.8 pounds and 18.2
pounds in the treatment arms as compared to 3.3 pounds in the placebo
group. Qnexa was well-tolerated, with no drug-related serious adverse
events in the study.

"The results from the EQUATE trial once again confirmed our belief in
Qnexa. In addition to hitting the primary endpoints of the study with
the full-dose, we were also able to show excellent results with the
mid-dose of Qnexa," commented Leland Wilson, president and chief
executive officer of VIVUS. "The EQUATE study is the first of three
studies in the Qnexa phase 3 obesity program. Data from the EQUIP and
CONQUER studies, which combined enrolled over 3,750 subjects, is
expected in mid-2009."

The EQUATE study included 756 obese subjects (599 females and 157 males)
across 32 centers in the United States. The average baseline BMI of the
study population was 36.3 kg/ m2 and baseline weight was 223 pounds. The
proportion of patients losing 5% or more of their initial body weight
was 66% for full-dose, 62% for mid-dose and 15% for placebo (p<0.0001).
The proportion of patients losing 10% or more of their initial body
weight was 41% for full-dose, 39% for mid-dose and 7% for the placebo
group (p<0.0001).

The most common drug-related adverse events reported for the full-dose,
mid-dose and placebo group were paresthesia (20%, 15%, 3%), dry mouth
(18%, 12%, 0%), altered taste (15%, 8%, 0%) and constipation (11%, 6%,
6%). Reported drug related adverse events for depression and altered
mood were minimal (1.9%, 0.9% and 1.8% respectively) . Moreover,
individual depression assessments for each subject, as measured by
PHQ-9, demonstrated statistically significant improvements (p<0.05) from
baseline for both Qnexa treatment groups. Overall average completion
rate for the Qnexa treatment group was 71%.

Subjects in the EQUATE study had a 4-week dose titration period followed
by 24 weeks of treatment. The study was a randomized, double-blind,
placebo-controlled, 7-arm, prospective trial with subjects randomized to
receive once-a-day treatment with mid-dose Qnexa (7.5 mg phentermine/ 46
mg topiramate CR), full-dose Qnexa (15 mg phentermine/ 92 mg topiramate
CR), the respective phentermine and topiramate constituents, or placebo.
Subjects were asked to follow a hypocaloric diet representing a
500-calorie/ day deficit and advised to implement a simple lifestyle
modification program.

About the Qnexa Phase 3 Obesity Program

In addition to the EQUATE study, the phase 3 Qnexa program includes two
pivotal, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multi-center studies that
will compare the efficacy and safety of Qnexa to placebo during a
56-week treatment period. The first year long study, known as EQUIP
(OB-302), has enrolled approximately 1,250 morbidly obese adult subjects
with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 35 or greater with or without controlled
co-morbidities. The second trial, known as CONQUER (OB-303), has
enrolled overweight and obese adult subjects with BMIs from 27 to 45 and
at least two co-morbid conditions, such as hypertension, dyslipidemia
and type 2 diabetes. The co-primary endpoints for these studies are the
mean percent weight loss and the percentage of subjects achieving a
weight loss of five percent or more. Results from these studies are
expected mid-2009. In total the phase 3 program has enrolled
approximately 4,500 subjects.

VIVUS R&D Day December 12, 2008

As previously announced, VIVUS will host a Research and Development Day
Event on Friday, December 12, 2008 at 8:00 a.m. ET in New York City.
Additional details on the data released today will be presented.

To access the webcast of this event, please visit:
http://phx.corporat e-ir.net/ phoenix.zhtml? p=irol-eventDeta ils&c=79161& ev
entID=2046581 or VIVUS' Investors site at http://www.vivus. com. Replay
will also be available on demand from the website at the conclusion of
the program and will run through December 31, 2008.

If you are interested in attending, please contact Brian Korb at The
Trout Group at 646 378 2923 or bkorb@troutgroup. com.


VIVUS, Inc. is a pharmaceutical company dedicated to the development and
commercialization of novel therapeutic products. The current portfolio
includes investigational product candidates addressing obesity, diabetes
and sexual health. The investigational pipeline includes: QnexaTM, which
is in phase 3, for the treatment of obesity and has completed a phase 2
study for the treatment of type 2 diabetes; avanafil, for which a phase
2 study has been completed for the treatment of erectile dysfunction
("ED") and LuramistTM (Testosterone MDTS(r)), for which a phase 2 study
has been completed for the treatment of Hypoactive Sexual Desire
Disorder ("HSDD"). MUSE(r) is approved and currently on the market for
the treatment of ED. For more information on clinical trials and
products, please visit the company's web site at http://www.vivus. com/.

Certain statements in this press release are forward-looking within the
meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These
statements may be identified by the use of forward-looking words such as
"anticipate, " "believe," "forecast," "estimated" and "intend," among
others. These forward-looking statements are based on VIVUS' current
expectations and actual results could differ materially. There are a
number of factors that could cause actual events to differ materially
from those indicated by such forward-looking statements. These factors
include, but are not limited to, substantial competition; uncertainties
of patent protection and litigation; uncertainties of government or
third party payer reimbursement; reliance on sole source suppliers;
limited sales and marketing efforts and dependence upon third parties;
risks related to the development of innovative products; and risks
related to failure to obtain FDA clearances or approvals and
noncompliance with FDA regulations. As with any pharmaceutical under
development, there are significant risks in the development, regulatory
approval and commercialization of new products. There are no guarantees
that future clinical studies discussed in this press release will be
completed or successful or that any product will receive regulatory
approval for any indication or prove to be commercially successful.
VIVUS does not undertake an obligation to update or revise any
forward-looking statement. Investors should read the risk factors set
forth in VIVUS' Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2007 and
periodic reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Safely using eicosapentaenoic acid (fish oil) for schizophrenia

Fish oil, primarily eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is gaining popularity as a natural treatment for schizophrenia. (Before I continue, just want to say I have to be very careful with this post because I don't want to encourage anyone who needs to be on antipsychotics to read that I'm saying to discontinue them--I AM NOT!)

Because of this popularity, a prominent group of schizophrenia researchers in the UK decided to evaluate whether or not therapeutic doses of EPA produced any safety issues for its users. They divided 84 individuals with schizophrenia into two groups; one group received 2 grams EPA per day along with their antipsychotic, the other received a placebo along with their medication.

Those individuals receiving EPA experienced a trend toward decreased total cholesterol and HDL. Weight tended to increase. And their bleeding time increased, meaning it took longer for their blood to clot when they cut themselves.

Here are some thoughts to take away from this study.

1. 2 grams daily of EPA is a very high dose. Most over the counter capsules have about 10% of that amount. This was a very specific protocol unlikely to be randomly adopted by the average person.

2. If you have ever had any issues with blood clotting, or are on any type of medication that affects clotting time, such as Coumadin, it is very important to work with your prescribing physician in order to coordinate appropriate dosages of medications and supplements.

3. I'm not working with critically ill schizophrenics on an outpatient basis, so I have the liberty of starting low and upping doses to evaluate for tolerance. I tend to work with a mixture of dietary fats and fish oils and not use such a specific, directed protocol. I feel much safer with that. But I am always on the lookout for the kinds of reactions that this study produced.

4. What is not known is whether or not all the subjects were on the same antipsychotic, or for how long before starting this study. Each antipsychotic has a slightly different effect on lipids, weight, and hormones, and that information would likely affect the results that were reported.

Overall, I'd say the most important finding in this study was the effect of super-high doses of EPA on clotting time. Because EPA has been getting more attention for its potential in treating bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, it is showing up more and more as a single supplement rather than as a component of fish oil. There is a tendency to use the "more is better" approach and to assume that if it's natural, and it's over the counter, it's safe. That may or may not be true with EPA, and it should be used judiciously.

Emsley R, Niehaus DJ, Oosthuizen PP, Koen L, Ascott-Evans B, Chiliza B, van Rensburg SJ, Smit RM. Safety of the omega-3 fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) in psychiatric patients: Results from a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Psychiatry Res. 2008 Dec 15;161(3):284-91. Epub 2008 Oct 29.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Another "because" to put on my long list of reasons to eat hummous

All of my clients know that of all the foods on the famous internet glycemic index list, hummous is the one that scores the most favorable. It's got garbanzo beans, a great high protein/carb combo food, olive oil, a healthy fat...and in many cases, tahini, which is also packed with health potential.

Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds, and sesame seeds contain a compound called sesamin. Sesamin has been found to help take vegetarian omega-3's and convert them into the omega-3's more commonly associated with fish oil. This conversion almost always exists to some degree, but nutritionists have always questioned whether the conversion is efficient enough to provide adequate DHA and EPA for human needs.

One interesting disclaimer I should add here...this conversion was tested in salmon as a potential way to increase the DHA content of salmon. The process has yet to be proven in humans. Even so, it doesn't seem like it would hurt to add a little bit of sesame seed to your own program. It's when sesame OIL is extracted from seeds and used in large quantities that you can override the benefits with potential disadvantages.

I don't know if I'm ready to say if you eat hummous you can stop eating fish, but I can say that hummous definitely helps to improve your omega-3 balance, and it's certainly a most tasty way of doing it!

For some more ideas on how to get more sesame seeds onto your plate, check out one of my favorite websites, World's Healthiest Foods.

Trattner S, Ruyter B, Ostbye TK, Gjøen T, Zlabek V, Kamal-Eldin A, Pickova J. Sesamin Increases Alpha-Linolenic Acid Conversion to Docosahexaenoic Acid in Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar L.) Hepatocytes: Role of Altered Gene Expression. Lipids. 2008 Nov;43(11):999-1008. Epub 2008 Sep 11.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Which came first, the high glucose or the depression?

There are reams of references in the National Library of Medicine database reporting on what happens to blood glucose in the presence of numerous psychotropic medications. It seems that group wisdom points to the repeated finding that glucose can elevate as a result of some medication options.

Now, a group of researchers has shown that glucose changes can actually change how serotonin receptors work.

In the short term (several hours), elevated glucose decreased serotonin uptake.

In the long term (4 to 6 months), elevated glucose increased serotonin uptake.

It wasn't the attraction of the receptor to the molecule that was the problem. It was the activity of the receptor itself.

Which has me wondering a few things.

1. What is the point of giving a medication that increases the number of serotonin molecules when the limiting issue is about a completely different issue--whether or not the serotonin receptors are actively engaging with those molecules? You can put a million molecules out there, but if they can't get the attention of the receptors, seems like a moot strategy.

2. Seems like a setup for a vicious cycle--meds, higher glucose, more depression, more meds...yadayadayada. That is, when doctors don't let a medication sit and "brew" in the system long enough to see how it's really going to work. That's not what I see. Physicians often have very short attention spans and tend to stop one medication and start another one, frantically looking for the "fix". Looks like you truly have to let a med settle in for 4 to 6 months before making any decisions about its effectiveness.

3. Maybe we should be looking more closely at this interaction and trying to understand exactly why glucose metabolism and serotonin transport are so closely related? Nature made our brains that way for a reason. Sometimes throwing a medication at the problem we can see keeps us from seeing and understanding the problem we need to see.

I still think anyone who is diagnosed with depression should automatically get a referral to a mental health-specializing dietitian. There are a myriad of things that can be added to a treatment plan that can often keep this from even being something we have to discuss.

Gonçalves P, Araújo JR, Martel F. The effect of high glucose on SERT, the human plasmalemmal serotonin transporter. Nutr Neurosci. 2008 Dec;11(6):244-50.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

And I thought I was happy after eating at Delhi Palace because the food was so good!

Turmeric is a spice commonly used in Indian cooking that is gaining attention for its health properties. Curcumin, the ingredient in turmeric that provides its yellow color, is thought to be a very powerful antioxidant and anticancer agent.

In Alzheimer's patients, not only can it prevent the accumulation of destructive beta-amyloid proteins, but it is thought to even break up already existing plaques (when I saw this, it made me wonder if this is why the oldest man in the world always seems to be living in some small Indian village.)

Now it's looking like curcumin may also have antidepressant properties. When tested on rats, it had activities mimicking that found in three different categories of antidepressants--monoamine oxidase inhibitors, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and dopamine reuptake inhibitors. Specific medications it was compared to included fluoxetine (Prozac), venlafaxine (Effexor), and bupropion (Wellbutrin).

When rats were already on medication, curcumin seemed to enhance the activity of the medication. Which has me thinking that psychiatrists should be handing out coupons to the closest Indian restaurant along with their medication scripts.

It appears that curcumin absorption is better in the presence of piperidine, a component of black pepper. Curry powder, readily available in most grocery stores, is a combination of coriander, cumin, black pepper, white pepper, turmeric and chillies). Not a bad item to keep stocked in your mental health cooking arsenal.

If you like to cook, Indian food is fun and easy. To get you started, here's a link to some curry recipes. Be sure you cook with olive or canola oil to get the best brain bang for your buck.

Kulkarni SK, Bhutani MK, Bishnoi M. Antidepressant activity of curcumin: involvement of serotonin and dopamine system. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2008 Dec;201(3):435-42. Epub 2008 Sep 3.

Yang, F; Lim GP; Begum AN; Ubeda OJ; Simmons MR; Ambegaokar SS; Chen PP; Kayed R; Glabe CG; Frautschy SA; Cole GM (February 2005).
Curcumin inhibits formation of amyloid beta oligomers and fibrils, binds plaques, and reduces amyloid in vivo. Journal of Biological Chemistry (American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) 280 (7): 5892–901.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Information for aviation professionals

If any of you know anyone who is a flight attendant or a pilot, I wanted to let you know I've launched a new endeavor to address their specific needs. In all the years I've done my work, this profession consistently stands out as one at great risk for health issues...and when mental health issues hit they can end an aviator's career.

My partner in this business and I want to provide ideas and support to help lengthen some of those careers and enrich the lives of those who sacrifice much so we can get where we need to. We'll be covering everything from eating well to conquering sleep disorders to stress management.

If you are interested, or know someone who might be, please check us out!