Naturopathy is a form of health care that is time tested for safety and efficacy among two-thirds of the world's population. Natural medicine, including naturopathy, is the most democratic of all health-care approaches as it is widely accessible by the broadest population segments. Further, it is notable that almost all pharmaceutical products (drugs) owe their origins to natural medicine. Indeed, Carl C. Pfeiffer, MD, PhD, researcher, author, and founding director of the Brain Bio Center (Princeton, NJ), stated: "For every drug that benefits a patient, there is a natural substance that can achieve the same effect."
Natural medicine, including nutritional therapies and other nontoxic approaches such as that advanced by naturopathy, is a cornerstone of anti-aging medical therapeutics. Because these approaches have proved to be extremely effective and absent of significant contraindications or adverse effects that would justify further restrictions to their availability, natural medicine upholds the anti-aging medical commitment to safe and responsible patient-centric medical care.
In this column, we share some of the latest scientific data reaffirming the validity of natural medicine.
Mangos Moderate Blood Sugar
Abundant in the antioxidant vitamins C and A and folate, mangos are a good source of fiber, copper, and vitamin B6. Edralin Lucas and colleagues from Oklahoma State University (US) completed a 12-week study involving 20 adults, ages 20 to 50 years, with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 to 45 kg/m2. The study subjects were asked to maintain their usual diet, exercise habits, and regimen of regularly prescribed medications. Each day during the study period, participants consumed 10 grams of freeze-dried mango (Mangifera indica L.). Dietary intake was monitored at the study's start and after 6 and 12 weeks of mango supplementation. Anthropometric measurements (height, weight, and circumference of waist and hip) were measured at those same time points. Body composition and blood analyses of fasting blood triglyceride, HDL-cholesterol, glucose, hemoglobin A1c, and plasma insulin concentration were evaluated at baseline and at the end of 12 weeks of mango supplementation. The researchers found that after 12 weeks, participants had reduced blood glucose (−4.41 mg/dL). While no changes were observed in overall body weight, hip or waist circumference, waist to hip ratio, percent fat mass, and lean mass, hip circumference was significantly lower in males (−3.3 cm) but not females; BMI tended to be higher in females (+0.9 kg/m2) but not males after mango supplementation. The study authors report: "Our findings indicate that regular consumption of freeze-dried mango by obese individuals does not negatively impact body weight but provides a positive effect on fasting blood glucose."
Evans SF, Meister M, Mahmood M, et al. Mango supplementation improves blood glucose in obese individuals. Nutr Metab Insights. 28 Aug. 2014;7:77–84.
Honey Compounds as Antibiotic Alternative
Natural products such as honey have been applied against human infections and are a staple of folk medicine. Today, interest in honey as an alternative to antibiotics is peaking in both developing countries, where fresh honey is easily available, and Western countries, where antibiotic resistance is seriously increasing. Tobias C. Olofsson and colleagues from Lund University (Sweden) have identified a unique group of 13 lactic acid bacteria found in fresh honey, from the honey stomach of bees. The bacteria produce a myriad of active antimicrobial compounds. These lactic acid bacteria have now been tested on severe human wound pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus (VRE), among others. When the lactic acid bacteria were applied to the pathogens in the laboratory, they counteracted all of them. While the effect on human bacteria has only been tested in a lab environment thus far, the lactic acid bacteria have been applied directly to horses with persistent wounds. The lactic acid bacteria were mixed with honey and applied to 10 horses whose owners had tried several other methods to no avail. All of the horses' wounds were healed by the mixture. Writing, "We demonstrate a strong antimicrobial activity from each symbiont and a synergistic effect, which counteracted all the tested pathogens," the study authors submit: "The mechanisms of action are partly shown by elucidating the production of active compounds such as proteins, fatty acids, anaesthetics, organic acids, volatiles and hydrogen peroxide. We show that the symbionts produce a myriad of active compounds that remain in variable amounts in mature honey."
Olofsson TC, Butler E, Markowicz P, Lindholm C, Larsson L, Vásquez A. Lactic acid bacterial symbionts in honeybees – an unknown key to honey's antimicrobial and therapeutic activities. Intl Wound J. 8 Sept. 2014.
Potassium, found abundantly in bananas, is a mineral that previous studies suggest is effective at lowering blood pressure. The US Department of Agriculture recommends that women consume at least 4700 mg of potassium daily. Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller and colleagues from Albert Einstein College of Medicine (New York) studied 90,137 postmenopausal women, aged 50 to 79 years, who did not have a history of stroke at the study's start, for an average 11 years. With subjects having an average dietary potassium intake of 2611 mg/day, the researchers tracked potassium consumption and incidence of strokes (ischemic and hemorrhagic) or mortality during the study period. Data analysis revealed that women who ate the most potassium were 12% less likely to suffer stroke in general and 16% less likely to suffer an ischemic stroke, as compared with those women who ate the least. Women who ate the most potassium were 10% less likely to die, as compared with those who ate the least. Among women who did not have hypertension, those who ate the most potassium had a 27% lower ischemic stroke risk and 21% reduced risk for all stroke types, compared with women who ate the least potassium in their daily diets. The study authors conclude: "High potassium intake is associated with a lower risk of all stroke and ischemic stroke, as well as all-cause mortality in older women, particularly those who are not hypertensive."
Seth A, Mossavar-Rahmani Y, Kamensky V, et al. Potassium intake and risk of stroke in women with hypertension and nonhypertension in the Women's Health Initiative. Stroke. September 4, 2014.
Flavanol-Rich Diet Deters Cancer
Oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and other citrus fruits are a good source of flavanols and related antioxidant compounds for which previous studies have suggested cancer–risk reductive effects. Aedín Cassidy and colleagues from the University of East Anglia (UK) followed 171,940 women, enrolled in the Nurses' Health Study and Nurses' Health Study II, to ascertain associations between intakes of total flavonoids and their subclasses, and the risk of ovarian cancer. Dietary intake was calculated from questionnaires collected every 4 years. During 16 to 22 years of follow-up, 723 cases of ovarian cancer were confirmed. Data analysis revealed that while total flavonoids were not statistically significantly associated with ovarian cancer risk, subjects in the highest quintiles of flavanol and flavanone intakes were at modestly lower risk of ovarian cancer. Specifically, dietary intakes of 75 mg/day of flavanols and flavanones were found to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer by 21%, especially in women ages 30 to 55 years. The study authors report: "Higher intakes of flavonols and flavanones … may be associated with lower risk of ovarian cancer."
Cassidy A, Huang T, Rice MS, Rimm EB, Tworoger SS. Intake of dietary flavonoids and risk of epithelial ovarian cancer. Am J Clin Nutr. October 2014; ajcn.088708.
Omega-3s Enhance Brain Cell Structure
A growing number of studies suggest that consuming oils with high polyunsaturated fatty acid content, in particular those containing omega-3 fatty acids, exerts beneficial health effects. CNRS (France) researchers investigated the effect of lipids bearing polyunsaturated chains when they are integrated into cell membranes. Their work shows that the presence of these lipids makes the membranes more malleable and therefore more sensitive to deformation and fission by proteins. The study shows that cell or artificial membranes rich in polyunsaturated lipids are much more sensitive to the action of two proteins, dynamin and endophilin, which facilitate membrane deformation and fission. Other measurements in the study and in simulations suggest that these lipids also make the membranes more malleable. By facilitating the deformation and scission necessary for endocytosis, the presence of polyunsaturated lipids could explain rapid synaptic vesicle recycling. The abundance of these lipids in the brain could then represent a major advantage for cognitive function. The study authors submit: "By reducing the energetic cost of membrane bending and fission, polyunsaturated [phospholipids] may help to support rapid endocytosis."
Pinot M, Vanni S, Pagnotta S, et al. Lipid cell biology. Polyunsaturated phospholipids facilitate membrane deformation and fission by endocytic proteins. Science. 2014 Aug 8;345(6197):693–697.
Boost Fruits and Veggies to Lower Disease and Death Risks
Consume 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day to reduce your chances of developing heart disease and dying from it. Frank B. Hu and colleagues from Harvard School of Public Health (Massachusetts, US) completed a meta-analysis of 16 published studies on all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality by levels of fruit and vegetable consumption, involving a total of 833,234 subjects. The researchers observed a dose-response relationship: the more fruits and veggies people ate, the less likely they were to have heart problems or die during the study period. The protective effects of fruits and veggies leveled out at 5 servings per day, consistent with current dietary recommendations. The study authors conclude: "This meta-analysis provides further evidence that a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of all cause mortality, particularly cardiovascular mortality."
Wang X, Ouyang Y, Liu J, et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and mortality from all causes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer: systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies. BMJ. 2014 Jul 29;349:g4490.
The A4M supports the practice of natural health therapeutics by licensed physicians of all medical specialties. At the A4M Congresses on Anti-Aging Medicine, the world's premier continuing medical education programming in advanced preventative medicine, many internationally renowned speakers have presented extensive data reaffirming the validity of natural medicine, including nutritional therapies and other nontoxic approaches such as those advanced by naturopathy. As such, our delegates embrace naturopathic therapies, and many of them return to their practices and engage these approaches safely and effectively, to the benefit of their patients.
To learn of the latest nutritional therapies and other nontoxic natural approaches that reflect the anti-aging philosophy, visit the World Health Network (www.worldhealth.net), the official educational website of the A4M and your one-stop resource for authoritative anti-aging information. Be sure to sign up for the free Longevity Magazine e-journal, your weekly health newsletter featuring wellness, prevention, and biotech advancements in longevity.