Welcome to my first edition of Healing Points
E-Newsletter. For this first edition,
I decided to focus on Cardiovascular Health, since heart disease is the
number one cause of death. It is also
quite easily prevented. I hope you
get great value from Healing Points.
Your comments, suggestions, questions, (and praise) are
In the News
- Cholesterol Drug Dangers
Cholesterol Lowering Drugs Suppress Immune System
The most popular
class of cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as the statins, have been found to
suppress certain immune system cells known as helper T-cells, according to new research from
In an interesting twist on the study's findings of this adverse
effect, however, it is being hailed as a benefit.
and subsequent media reports have focused on the fact that the drugs may be
useful for treating transplant patients. However, how this immune
suppression could affect the vast majority of patients taking the drugs is
"This unexpected effect provides a scientific rationale
for using statins as immunosuppressors, not only in organ transplantation, but
in numerous other pathologies as well," the researchers conclude.
found that in laboratory-grown cells, the statin drugs suppressed the activation of
T cells, of which there are 4 types, are a group of lymphocytes produced in
the thymus gland. The four types are:
Helper T cells
Killer T cells
Suppressor T cells
Helper T cells, the type suppressed by the statin drugs, act by recognizing foreign
pathogens and then activating the production of the proper T cells and B
cells in response.
The statin drugs
used in the study included the following:
The concentrations of the drugs were very similar to doses used in
patients, Dr. Wulf Palinski
of the University of California, San Diego, explained in an editorial
accompanying the study.
In comments to
Reuters Health, Dr. Palinski notes that "how the statins worked was not
current study suggests a biological mechanism for how these drugs work."
Nature Medicine, December, 2000; 6: 1311-1312,
Comment: There is another way to
lower the immune system. It’s called
AIDS. This study again shows that
using pharmaceutical drugs should be a last resort for the treatment of
simple conditions that respond excellently to nutritional and dietary
Intimal thickening of one or many arteries due to
localized accumulation of fatty material (atheromas).
There are several types of arteriosclerosis, the global
term for formation of atheromas in the arteries. Atherosclerosis is the most
important kind of arteriosclerosis. Atherosclerosis effects are the major cause
of mortality from illness in the U.S. (at least 33%). The disease seems to
favor blood vessels of high importance (cardiac, kidney, cerebral), and the
peripheral arteries (causing much illness). The mechanism of atheromatous
development is still theoretical, but suggests that injury to the lining of
the blood vessel from turbulence, hypertension, hypoxia (lack of oxygen),
hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) or free radicals causes smooth muscle cells
to proliferate at the lesion site to initiate regrowth of tissues. Low
Density Lipoprotein attaches to the smooth muscle cells to stimulate them to
multiply. But the uptake of cholesterol (a major component of LDL) into the
inner lining of the blood vessels leads to the formation of an atheroma that
is later hardened by calcium deposits.
Other implicated factors include the following:
Homocysteine is believed to contribute directly to the
early stages of atherosclerosis by damaging the intima, the cells that line
blood vessels. Elevated serum homocysteine levels are found in 20 - 40% of
the population. Patients with even slightly elevated homocysteine have more
than three times the risk of suffering a heart attack compared to those
showing normal homocysteine levels. (Stampfer, MJ, et al. JAMA 1992;268:977-981. Many cardiovascular
patients have mild elevations. (Franken, DG, et al. Amer J Clin Nutr 1993;
57:47-53). Studies have revealed that homocysteine levels strongly correlated
with blood and dietary folic acid and dietary intake of Vitamin B-6. (Selhub, J, et al. JAMA
1993;270:2693-8.) Likewise, similar, though weaker, inverse correlations were
found for blood levels of Vitamins B-12 and B-6 and homocysteine. The lowest
homocysteine levels corresponded with dietary intakes of folic acid and
Vitamin B-6 well above the RDA.
Hydrogenated oils (including partially hydrogenated oils)
are significantly atherosclerotic. Ironically, hydrogenated oils such as
margarine were for many years believed to be healthier because they were
cholesterol-free. However, the rise of myocardial infarctions and heart
disease in general can be traced back to the 1920s and 1930s, when
hydrogenated oils were first being introduced and used in foods. Hydrogenated
oils are unsaturated oils that are heated, pressurized and then chemically
altered with nickel (or a similar metal), changing the biochemical formation
from the natural "cis" formation (liquid state at room temperature)
into the synthetic "trans" formation (solid state at room
temperature). It is now suggested that the synthetic and foreign quality of
the trans oil creates damage to body tissues causing atherosclerotic
formation and cancer. Furthermore, polyunsaturates allow significant
formation of free radical compounds, thought to cause endothelial damage and
predispose to formation of atheromas. Epidemiological research shows that
people were eating high cholesterol diets for hundreds or thousands of years
(meat, cream, butter, eggs, lard), and yet the epidemic of heart disease
began only earlier this century, after the introduction of hydrogenated oils.
Of course, this is one among many other contemporary factors related to heart
disease, including pollution, sedentary lifestyle, refined sugar and flour
products, and poor meat quality due to chemicals, hormones, antibiotics and
other additives. Almost all the long-lived, healthy communities where
degenerative disease and heart disease were unknown included significant meat
or dairy in their diets (Schmid). It seems that the argument that cholesterol
alone is the villain in heart disease falters at the evidence of those
communities. It now seems that use of monounsaturated oils such as olive an
canola, and moderate use of short-chain fatty acids (butter) may be the best
way of maintaining "healthy" fat intake.
Risk factors for atherosclerosis include: high blood
pressure, cigarette smoking, diabetes mellitus (hyperglycemia), obesity,
family history, increased serum lipids, diet high in fats (unsaturated,
hydrogenated and hydrogenated oils), sedentary lifestyle, aging, men in general,
and women after menopause.
Comprehensive Cardiovascular Assessment
There's more to cardiovascular health than meets the eye...
may look and feel great, and your cholesterol levels may even be low-but you
could still be at high risk for heart disease. A new test can identify your
Why is it important to get tested?
Almost half of all heart attacks strike people who don't know they're at
risk-people without well-known risk factors such as fatty diets,
hypertension, smoking, or high cholesterol. That's one reason cardiovascular
disease is the number one killer in America today, claiming more lives than
cancer, accidents, and AIDS combined. However, with this simple test you can
find out your hidden risk factors and take steps to protect your health.
What are my hidden risks?
Lipids are fats in the body. Simply speaking, your risk of heart disease is
related to the level of blood lipids in your body-i.e., your total
cholesterol level. The higher your total cholesterol, the greater your risk.
But researchers have recently found that the complete picture is actually
much more involved than that.
have identified new warning markers, related to blood clotting and
inflammation, that can play a major role in determining whether an individual
will suffer a heart attack. Using these latest advancements in cardiovascular
research the unique Comprehensive
Cardiovascular Risk Profile that measures ten important markers and their
Homocysteine • LDL cholesterol •
C-reactive protein • HDL cholesterol • Fibrinogen • Apo B • Lipoprotein(a) •
Apo A-1 • Triglycerides • Total cholesterol
What do these markers mean?
You may already be familiar with some of the lipid markers such as LDL
cholesterol and triglycerides, which are increased by a diet high in
saturated fats or carbohydrates and often lead to heart disease. And HDL
cholesterol, commonly called the "good cholesterol," which is
bolstered by exercise and fish oils, and actually protects your
cardiovascular system. Apo A-1 and Apo B are important protein components of
these two cholesterols that influence their movement in the bloodstream and
determine their impact on your cardiovascular system.
besides these important standard markers, there are new independent risk factors
that can double or even triple your risk of heart attack and stroke.
at Harvard recently discovered that C-reactive protein, a protein that
indicates inflammation in the body, serves as a strong risk predictor of
future heart attack and stroke. Levels of this important protein are
increased by past or current infections, such as chlamydia pneumoniae.
new marker, homocysteine, is an amino acid that can scrape the lining of
blood vessel walls, triggering fatty deposits and atherosclerosis. One study
found that men with high homocysteine had 3 times greater risk of heart
attack, even when adjustment for other risk factors was considered!
and proteins are transported through your bloodstream together in packages
called lipoproteins. Lipoprotein(a) has been cited by many researchers as the
most important marker for predicting the severity of future heart disease.
Like homocysteine, it is strongly influenced by heredity.
finally, fibrinogen is an important agent in the blood clotting process, with
high levels linked to both heart disease and stroke. Like the blood lipids,
fibrinogen is affected by factors such as smoking, stress, obesity, and
How will I understand the overall test results?
Having a combination of risk factors greatly increases your overall risk of
heart disease. That's why your test results will also include a
Cardiovascular Risk Index, determined by a multivariate analysis of all of
your individual risk factors. So in addition to each individual marker, you
get a general indication of your overall cardiac risk.
What kinds of treatment can improve my risk status?
The good news is that almost all the risk factors for cardiovascular disease
are modifiable. Cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and triglyceride levels can often be
managed through an active treatment program that addresses diet, exercise,
and stress reduction. C-reactive protein can be reduced using
anti-inflammatory agents. And despite being strongly influenced by genetics,
homocysteine and Lp(a) can be modified with nutritional therapy. In fact,
research evidence confirms that comprehensive lifestyle changes may be able
to reduce the effects of even severe heart disease after only one year,
without the use of drugs.
Ask yourself: It is currently estimated that 57 million
Americans-over one-fifth of the entire U.S. population- have some form of
cardiovascular disease. Answer these questions to see if you may be at risk.
Do you have a
personal history of heart attack, coronary artery disease, peripheral
arterial disease, or stroke?
Do you have a
family history of heart disease?
Do you smoke,
drink, or use drugs?
Do you suffer
from kidney disease?
Do you have
Is your blood
Do you feel chronic
Do you often
feel anxious or depressed?
Do you seldom
Is your diet
high in saturated or partially hydrogenated fats?
Do you use or
have you used oral contraceptives?
Are you a
Do you have a
experienced chronic illness?
Have you been
diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance (estradiol, cortisol, insulin,
A yes response to any of the above questions
indicates an increased risk of heart disease. The Comprehensive
Cardiovascular Risk Profile can provide you with the crucial information you
need to reduce your risk.
"Humor in the darkest of places is a sign of
emergence from grief and depression, an indication of embracing life and
healing. Humor can minimize suffering by giving us power in what appears to
be a powerless situation." (Klein, p. xxi)
• Humor gives us power:
We transcend our predicaments and are lifted above our feelings
of fear, discouragement, and despair. Bill Cosby has said, 'if you can find
humor in something, you can survive it.' People who can laugh at their
setbacks no longer feel sorry for themselves. They feel uplifted, encouraged,
and empowered. (p. 4)
• Humor helps us cope:
As Hans Selye said, "Nothing erases unpleasant
thoughts more effectively than concentration on pleasant ones. Humor helps us
cope because it instantly removes us from our pain. Much of the suffering we
experience is not a result of our difficulties but how we view them; not so
much the event as our relationship with it. By focusing our energy elsewhere,
humor can diffuse our stressful events. It releases built-up tension of
emotions such as fear, hostility, rage, and anger. Psychoanalyst Martin
Grotjahn, author of Beyond Laughter, noted that "to have a sense of
humor is to have an understanding of human suffering and misery." (p.
• Humor provides perspective:
Humor lends a fresh eye. It expands our picture frame and
allows us to see more than just our problem. 'Life is a tragedy when seen in
close-up but a comedy in longshot,' as Charlie Chaplin once quipped. (p.
• Humor keeps us balanced:
One of the most compassionate things we can do for
ourselves is not take ourselves and our imperfections too seriously. When we
can find some humor in our losses, those things that we push away, then we
are 'honoring our imperfections and chipped edges.' (p. 17)
That humor is beneficial to our physical well-being is not
a new idea. Voltaire has said, 'the art of medicine consists of amusing the
patient while nature cures the disease.'
Norman Cousins calls laughter 'inner jogging.' When we are
engaged in a good, hearty laugh, every system in the body gets a workout. As
he reported in Anatomy of an Illness, 'I made the joyous discovery that ten
minutes of genuine belly laughter had an anesthetic effect and would give me
at least two hours of pain-free sleep.' (p. 18)
William Fry, Jr. has studied and reported on many of the
physical effects of laughter. He indicates that laboratory studies have shown
that mirthful laughter affects most, if not all, of the major physiologic
systems of the human body, and is much like aerobic exercise. The
cardiovascular system is exercised as heart rate and blood pressure rise and
fall again. The heavy breathing creates a vigorous oxygen exchange in the
lungs and works the respiratory system. Muscles release tension in the
tightening and subsequent relaxation of laughter. And opiates may be released
into the bloodstream, resulting in a further sense of well-being. (p. 19)
There is a connection between laughing and crying. Each
provides a cathartic cleansing. Each is an important mechanism for releasing
stress and tension. Crying is an important part of pain, loss, and grief. We
must give ourselves permission to cry, both tears of sorrow and tears of joy.
Kahil Gibran once wrote, 'The selfsame well from which your laughter rises
was oftentimes filled with your tears.' (p. 20)
Babaganouj (eggplant dip)
1 large eggplant
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 dashes cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. basil
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup tahini (raw sesame butter)
1-2 tbsp. tamari (soy sauce without wheat)
1. Pierce eggplant in several places with a fork. Bake at
450° for about 35 minutes until tender and shriveled. Allow to cool.
2. Meanwhile, grind dry spices in mortar and pestle or rub
between hands to grind.
Peel eggplant and mash or puree in blender; if eggplant is
organic, it is fine to leave skin intact.
3. Add garlic, dry spices, and parsley and mix.
4. Add lemon juice and tahini and mix again.
5. Season to taste with tamari. Allowing to set will enhance
flavors. Serve as vegetable or bread dip, or sandwich spread.
1. Thin babaganouj with non-fat yogurt to taste.
2. Stud the eggplant with several cloves of peeled garlic
before baking; the heat renders the garlic wonderfully mellow.
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