by Patrick Massey MD PhD MhD
Magnesium is a common mineral that is absolutely necessary for health. Although in traditional medicine magnesium levels are rarely measured medical research has shown that low levels of magnesium increase the risk of sudden death associated with heart disease, increases the risk of diabetes and its complications (nerve pain and loss of feeling in the feet) and increase the risk or severity of a host of other illnesses. Magnesium is also important in treating depression and anxiety. We need magnesium and most Americans do not get enough.
Magnesium is essential for life – all life. It is ubiquitous throughout nature being found in every cell and in every know organism. Magnesium is involved in over three hundred different biochemical reactions in the cell. It is necessary for energy production as well as stabilizing and replicating DNA in the cell nucleus. The recommended daily value for magnesium is 400 milligrams but that recommendation is just enough to prevent the effects of severe magnesium deficiency. It is rarely the amount needed for optimal health and most Americans do not even get half of that amount on a daily basis.
A recent medical study (2106) in the Journal of the American Heart Association looked at the relationship between blood magnesium levels and the risk of sudden death in people who have documented coronary heart disease. The results were eye opening. In a pool of over nine thousand people not only did the risk of sudden death significantly increase (36% increased risk) in the magnesium deficient group but the rate of atherosclerosis in the arteries of the heart (progression of heart disease) also significantly increased.
The medical literature is replete with studies indicating the many the incidence of illnesses are associated with low serum magnesium…anxiety and depression, common muscle spasms, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic migraines, osteoporosis, dementia and even stroke. Interestingly an old emergency room therapy for migraines and high blood pressure was intravenous magnesium. High dose magnesium is still used to prevent the seizures and high blood pressure associated a rare condition during late stage pregnancy called eclampsia. I still use intravenous magnesium today for severe migraines and with good success.
Medical studies have estimated that two thirds of adults do not get the daily recommended amount of magnesium and, disturbingly, only twenty percent of children get enough magnesium. Making magnesium deficiency worse is that some commonly prescribed medications can lower magnesium in the body by either by preventing magnesium absorption in the bowels or by increasing excretion of magnesium by the kidneys. Antibiotics, steroids, some asthma and blood pressure medications, nicotine, insulin and phosphates found in many sodas can reduce absorption and increase excretion of magnesium. In regards to high blood pressure medications lowering tissue magnesium levels, magnesium is one the minerals used by the body to lower blood pressure. So a medication used to lower blood pressure may, paradoxically, make the blood pressure more resistant to blood pressure medications. The same is true for steroid based medications in the treatment of asthma. Steroids increase excretion of magnesium by the kidneys and a low tissue level of magnesium makes asthma more resistant to asthma medications. I recall one patient I saw who had been in the intensive care unit with unresponsive asthma for two weeks. Her magnesium level was very low because of all the steroids she was taking. After some magnesium intravenously, she was out of the intensive care unit within 24 hours and home after two days.
Long term use of a common class of stomach acid medication, proton pump inhibitors, commonly reduce serum magnesium levels and over twenty million prescriptions for proton pump inhibitors are written every year. Recent medical studies have shown that proton pump inhibitor use, long term, increases the risk of many illnesses including kidney damage, osteoporosis, infections and even dementia. Bowel illnesses like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and chronic diarrhea can limit the absorption of magnesium, reduce blood levels and increase the risk of many chronic illnesses.
Ideally we should get all the magnesium we need through food like nuts and seeds, dark leafy vegetables, dark chocolate and avocado but we don’t because these foods are not part of the typical American diet. In addition, plants get their magnesium from the soil. If the soil is depleted of magnesium then the plant will also be depleted of magnesium. Therefore for many people magnesium supplements are essential. However, caution is warranted because one bothersome side effect of too much magnesium is diarrhea,
especially is the magnesium is in the form of magnesium citrate and magnesium oxide. They are not readily absorbed. Other types of magnesium like magnesium glycinate cause less diarrhea because they are absorbed better.
The best blood test for magnesium is to measure its level in the red blood cells, RBC-magnesium. Serum levels of magnesium are very inaccurate. I check RBC-magnesium levels in my patients as part of their usual blood tests and aggressively recommend magnesium supplementation to ensure that their levels are near the top of the reference range if needed. In my experience many chronic illnesses are the result of lifestyle choices, knowingly or unknowingly, and can be easily corrected.
About the author:
Patrick Massey MD PhD MhD is the past director of complementary and alternative medicine for the Alexian Brothers Hospital Netwok. He is the author of Miracles or I Have No More Boils (patrickmasseymiracles.com), a book about the true causes and cures for chronic illness.
Dr. Massey has an active medical practice in Elk Grove Village IL (www.alt-med.org)
Anahata Ananda of Shamangelic Healing, Sedona Arizona’s Premier Center for Shamanic Healing and Spiritual Awakening, talks about spiritual healing and society on the widely followed Aubrey Marcus Podcast in Austin, TX.
The world has always experienced turmoil and growing pains, but for many, the challenges facing them today can be daunting. In this episode, “Healing Trauma and Planting Roots of Strength,” Anahata and Aubrey hold a lively hour-plus discussion about trauma, core wounds, addictions, instability and the profound benefits of Shamangelic Breathing, meditation and other spiritual practices for addressing emotional wounds and their effect on the physical, emotional and energetic body.
For people who are experiencing increasing stress and anxiety in a world that is speeding past their ability to keep pace, this podcast gives some fresh advice on how to grow stronger roots from within to withstand the fiery forces of transformation taking place in the world today. With over 75,000 downloads in the first week of its original podcast, Shamangelic Breathing is catching on to being an enormously effective tool for transformation in troubling times.
“It’s more important than ever for the awakening human to understand that this powerful force for healing and alignment lies within themselves, independent of external forces,” says Anahata. Her practice helps a person grow the deep roots they need to remain strong and centered during these tumultuous yet pivotal times, when all of society and the planet are accelerating toward a higher consciousness.
Anahata’s recent guest spot on the Aubrey Marcus Podcast was part of her visit to Austin to facilitate a Shamanic Breathwork Ceremony at the city’s Black Swan Community Yoga event in February 2017. Anahata first met Aubrey in the capacity of being his teacher at a Shamanic retreat where he was deeply transformed by the unique Shamangelic Breathwork exercises.
This insightful one-hour and 19 minute podcast shows an undeniable rapport between Anahata Ananda and Aubrey Marcus whose friendship and mentorship with each other creates an intriguing narrative about subject matter that is clearly a passion for both of them. The podcast will be of great interest to listeners interested Shamanic Wisdom training, personal growth and empowerment, or healing arts practitioners who want to expand their toolkit with energy healing modalities. It is available on iTunes as an audio recording by subscribing to Aubrey Marcus Podcast or may be viewed with the video component on YouTube.
Shamanic Healer and Spiritual Counselor, Anahata Ananda, has trained extensively with gifted shamans, energy healers and spiritual teachers from around the world in order to artfully integrate the fields of spirituality, energy healing, self-empowerment, and shamanic teachings. Her client-base spans the globe with individuals from all walks of life who are seeking to heal and awaken to their fullest potential.
The Shamangelic Healing Center is based in Sedona, Arizona. It is nestled beneath Thunder Mountain, with 360 degrees of breathtaking views, and within walking distance to a medicine wheel and healing vortexes, making it the perfect setting for healing and expansion. Inside, the retreat center’s calm and relaxed environment helps to engage all of the senses, making it easy to settle into a session. Clients seeking Spiritual awakening, transformational healing services, counseling, sacred land journeys or training courses may choose from a wide range of options that can be tailored for the ultimate personal experience.
For those unable to attend or come to Sedona, Anahata has created online courses on the Kajabi platform. Shamangelic online courses are for the global audience, with convenient 24 hour access to videos and self-paced exercise handouts that help people explore the tools and practices to live a more empowered, balanced and conscious life in their everyday lives.
For detailed descriptions and a calendar of more upcoming retreats, workshops, courses, and all services offered by Anahata Ananda, visit http://shamangelichealing.com/
A question I am often asked in winter is “should I get the flu shot?” My answer varies. Some people need all the protection they can get and others not as much. Truth be told, it is rare that the flu shot actually prevents the flu. Fortunately nature has provided some natural options to the flu vaccine. There is reasonable medical research that some foods, herbs and supplements may be effective in the prevention and treatment of influenza.
Influenza it seems has been our traveling companion for at least several thousand years. As early as 400BCE Hippocrates described the symptoms of influenza. Throughout antiquity, in Europe, Africa and Asia, as more people began to live in cities, epidemics and pandemics related to influenza have been recorded. In 1493 the first reference to an influenza-like illness in the Americas happened after most of the indigenous population of the Antilles islands died after the arrival of Christopher Columbus. World wide, about 250,000 to 500,000 people die each year from the complications of an influenza infection.
There are four families of influenza…A, B, C and D. Wild birds are the usual host for influenza A, humans for influenza B. Influenza C resides in humans, dog and pigs. Influenza D is a recent discovery and is found in cattle. Influenza A is divided into a number of different strains based on the presence of specific but easily mutable glycoproteins hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N) on the virus shell. Thus specific influenza outbreaks are classified by the specific H and N glycoprotein. For example the most common influenza subtype in 2017 is H3N2. Influenza vaccines are made based on the best guess of the next season’s subtype and often the vaccine does not match well with the season viral subtype. That is bad news. The good news is that there are some alternative therapies that may protect against the flu.
Glycyrrhiza lepidota is the name for the American licorice plant. The active ingredient is a group of compounds termed glycyrrhric acids. Licorice stimulates the production of anti-viral compounds called interferons. It also has anti-inflammatory properties so the symptoms of the flu may be blunted. The most interesting aspect of licorice root (at least to me) is that the glycyrrhric acids interact with the cell membrane and prevent the influenza virus from attaching to cell membrane and infecting the cell (Wolkerstofer et.al. Antiviral Res 2009). Licorice is rarely found in candy today but is available as a tea and supplement. Overall licorice root is safe however the glycyrrhric acids may, in some people, cause high blood pressure so moderation is advised.
Ginseng is an herb that is often found in Oriental medicine. Ginseng is classified as either red or white. Heat white ginseng and it becomes red ginseng. A number of medical studies have shown that red Korean ginseng helps to significantly reduce the symptoms and duration of upper respiratory tract infections. Although not shown specifically to reduce the incidence of influenza, it is historically used during influenza season to maintain health. In one study, a proprietary American ginseng preparation COLD-fX, when taken at the beginning of the flu season reduced respiratory symptoms in the elderly (McElhaney et.al. J Altern Complement Med 2006). Ginseng can cause an increase in blood pressure in those with existing high blood pressure. Insomnia can be an issue as well as migraines in those who are sensitive to the effects of red ginseng. Clinically ginseng is only used for a short period of time, usually two-three months. Continuous use does not afford additional benefits.
All berries contain polyphenolic compounds. In some studies these compounds are directly toxic to the influenza virus (Sekizawa et al J Sci Food Agri 2013). In other studies they prevent the binding of the influenza virus to the cell. Two common berries for which there is reasonable medical research for the prevention of influenza are cranberries and elderberry. Elderberry significantly reduced the symptoms of the flu while cranberries enhance the anti-viral components of the immune system. There does not seem to be any contraindications for either elderberry or cranberry.
Echinacea is a flower found throughout northern Illinois and Wisconsin often used to enhance the immune system. I am not a big fan of Echinacea as a treatment for the flu. The research is quite muddy and contradictory. However, one study, in Czechoslovakia, drinking Echinacea tea was as effective as antiviral medications in treating the symptoms and duration of the flu as well as preventing complications associated influenza. A concern is that Echinacea is a member of the ragweed family. If you are allergic to ragweed there is a reasonable chance that you may also be allergic to Echinacea.
There is very good research to indicate that the type of bacteria in your bowel has an important role in preventing the flu. One specific bacterium Bifidobacterium seems to produce a number of compounds that directly interfere with the ability of the influenza virus to infect a cell. In addition Bifidobacterium makes a number of interesting compounds that enhance the activity of the immune system. Considering that 70% of a person’s immune system is found in the walls of the bowels this bacterium is very beneficial to us. Supplementation with Bifidobacterium has been shown to reduce the symptoms of the flu and medical studies have also shown a significant reduction in mortality and viral titers probably by helping the immune system work more efficiently. My recommendation is to start taking Bifidobacterium containing probiotics before the flu season starts and take them throughout the flu season.
For many, thriving in the flu season may be as simple as having some licorice tea, regular consumption of berries and taking a good probiotic. One extra note, the influenza virus is killed by soap and water. Wash the hands often especially if around large groups of people.
About the author:
Patrick Massey MD PhD MhD is board certified in both Internal and Integrative Medicine. He is the past medical director of complementary and alternative medicine for the Alexian Brothers Hospital Network and author of Miracles or I Have No More Boils. His medical practice web site is alt-med.org.
By Dr. John Douillard
In a recent report, 70-80 percent of people experience some form of digestive distress, while over one-quarter are obese and more than 5.7 million Canadian adults are pre-diabetic and don’t know it. While many like to blame all of this on wheat, many food scientists do not agree.
While the standard diet, which includes processed wheat, is likely responsible for these health concerns, there is also plenty of science that links a diet rich in whole grains including whole wheat to weight loss, better digestion and lower blood sugar. The Mediterranean Diet is still revered as one of the healthiest diets on the planet, and is replete with whole grains and wheat. The centenarians (folks over 100) who live in the Blue Zones eat a non-processed whole food diet, once again, rich in whole grains and wheat.
So, why are so many North Americans having trouble digesting wheat? That’s just it… They are not digesting it! Many who are gluten sensitive today digested wheat fine when they were young, but are currently having trouble. Somewhere along the line, our ability to digest foods that are a bit harder to digest, like wheat and dairy, became compromised.
REMOVE ALL PROCESSED FOODS
The first step in re-booting digestive strength is removing all the processed foods. A processed food diet has been linked to a 141 percent increase in belly fat, high blood sugar and high cholesterol. In the same study, a diet of whole grains including wheat reduced the risk of these health concerns by 38 percent.
Fitness pioneer Jack LaLanne once told me the best way to eat is to never eat anything out of a package. The reason why processed foods are processed in the first place is so they can sit on a shelf for extended periods of time. Whole foods, as we all know, go bad quickly and it is not always possible to eat freshly cooked food. So, here are simple ingredient label navigation tips to avoid highly processed foods.
1. Avoid all added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Allow nothing over 6 grams of naturally-occurring sugar per serving.
2. Avoid refined, cooked oils. (Anything baked with oils or fried, i.e., bread, baked goods, chips, etc.)
3. Avoid all chemicals. Don’t eat it if you don’t recognize the name in the ingredients.
RE-BOOT LIVER AND GALLBLADDER FUNCTION
In the 1960’s, when cholesterol was put on the nutrient concern list, food manufacturers started boiling, bleaching, deodorizing and refining vegetable oils. They were used as preservatives to keep bread squishy and “fresh” for weeks. After almost 60 years of blindly consuming these indigestible oils, they remain the number one reason for the great digestive breakdown. The processed oils both congested the liver and gallbladder, rendering the liver’s bile unable to break down both good and bad fats and insufficient to buffer stomach acids. Without adequate bile production to neutralize stomach acid, the stomach will not produce the needed acid to digest proteins like gluten and the casein in dairy. This has resulted in a huge spike in gallbladder surgeries and epidemic levels of obesity, high blood sugar and food intolerances. It is natural to blame the hard-to-digest foods, but removing them only addresses the symptoms and leaves the cause – weak digestion left untreated only to haunt your health down the road.
BOOST BILE FLOW
The first step in strengthening the stomach’s digestive acid is to make sure there is plenty of bile flow from the liver and gallbladder. To boost bile flow, enjoy these foods daily:
4. Eat one red beet and one apple day. They can be raw, cooked, juiced or blended.
5. Add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil and one teaspoon of high quality olive oil.
6. Eat more artichokes, celery and leafy greens.
7. Drink fennel and fenugreek tea with meals.
STRENGTHEN STOMACH FIRE
Once the liver is making adequate bile and the bile ducts and gallbladder are less congested, then you can stimulate the stomach to make the stomach acid needed to break down hard-to-digest so-called “allergenic” foods. Instead of taking digestive enzymes or a HCI stomach acid pill, I prefer to stimulate the stomach to make its own acid, and the small intestine and pancreas to make their own digestive enzymes. This is best done with the following five spices: Ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom and fennel.
Studies suggest that when these five spices are used together, they act as a total upper digestive re-boot. They can be taken as a supplement, in cooking or used to flavor food. These five star spices:
- Increase bile flow (no need for bile salts)
- Increase pancreatic enzyme activity (no need for digestive enzymes)
- Increase small intestine enzyme activity (no need for digestive enzyme supplements)
- Decrease gas and bloating (no need for HCl supplements)
- Increase fat and sugar metabolism
- Are powerful free radial scavengers
- Support optimal weight
- Support microbiology health (especially ginger)
- Improve gut health
- Support a healthy growth rate of good bacteria (especially ginger)
- Decrease H. pylori from adhering to stomach
- Are digestive stimulants
- Quicken the transit time in the intestines – supporting better elimination
Following these eight simple steps of nutritional navigation, boosting bile flow and stomach strengthening, will set you on the right path to retrain your body to digest (and enjoy!) wheat again.
About the author:
Dr. John Douillard, DC, CAP, is a globally recognized leader in the fields of natural health, Ayurveda and sports medicine. Over the past 30 years, he’s helped over 100,000 patients repair their digestive system and eat wheat and dairy again. He is the creator of LifeSpa.com, former NBA director of player development and nutrition advisor and author of the book, Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet. For more information, please visit, www.eatwheatbook.com and connect with Dr. Douillard on Twitter, @johndouillard.