This is the recent interview with Phil Trubshaw, Acupuncturist, Chinese herbalist, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner and a very interesting gentleman!
Could reishi be a helpful adjunct to cancer therapy? Some studies suggest so.
Cannabidiol (or CBD) is one of the many active substances of the cannabis plant. In many cases, a condition needs to be treated with the entire plant (i.e. Pure cannabis oil – otherwise known as Rick Simpson oil), because of the synergistic effect of THC, CBD, CBN and approximately 80 more substances in the plant, including terpenes. However, studies show that CBD has a great healing potential, with applications in: inflammation, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, epilepsy, autism, neurological pain, arthritis, diabetic cardiomyopathy, oxidative stress, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia etc.
The mechanism of action of cannabidiol is complex. It would be better described as an adaptogen, therefore aiding the body's homeostatic mechanisms, helping the body reach a balanced state. In some cases, a specific mechanism of action towards certain receptors has been identified, but there is not one specific receptor or one specific binding mechanism.
There are too many studies, so it would be great trouble to link them all here. However, if you would like to search for yourself, you can go to Google Scholar and type cannabidiol plus the condition you are looking for and you will see a vast amount of academic studies
Let's look at some specific conditions.
1. Neuropathic pain
Cannabidiol has been shown to reduce neuropathic pain, compared to both placebo and conventional medication, without the side effects of commonly prescribed neuropathic pain medication (and without causing any cognitive impairment).
CBD has tremendous medicinal applications in epilepsy (including Lennox-Gastaut syndrome), reducing the frequency, intensity and duration of epileptic crises (seizures), significantly more than placebo, with high tolerance and minimal drug-drug interactions with other anti-epileptic agents. It is still recommended that if CBD is used concomitantly with other antiepileptic medication, a 2-hour before-after window should be kept between CBD and medication, to avoid potential absorption issues. (First reference is an extensive review of CBD in several neuropsychiatric disorders, I highly recommend reading the entire review)
Cannabis has been highly blamed for psychiatric disorders, however studies show that THC can trigger psychiatric conditions only to patients that are predisposed to such conditions and only in excessive, uncontrolled use (i.e. Abuse). Cannabidiol seems to combat these effects, acting as an anti-psychotic agent, showing promising results for treatment of many psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, acting through novel mesolimbic substrates.
4. Alzheimer's Disease
To this day there is no complete treatment for Alzheimer's Disease, but studies prove that cannabidiol, used together with medication, can slow the progression of the disease, especially if the diagnosis of the disease is conducted during an early stage. Essentially CBD acts as a neuroprotective agent, combating oxidative stress and reducing the apoptosis (programmed cell death) of the brain cells, which could potentially be used as a treatment for dementia (further studies needed)
This is one of CBD's most studied and most effective areas. Personally, I use CBD as I have chondromalacia patellae (inflammation and softening of the knee cartilage) and the results have been clear; decreased pain and inflammation – tested for CRP, one of the inflammation markers, and dropped from 18 to 6 within 2 months).
Since CBD reduces overall inflammation, the effects can be helpful in many conditions such as sports injuries, arthritis, brain damage, multiple sclerosis etc. The dose of CBD varies depending on the condition and the patient, therefore titration of dosing is used to reach an optimal dose. Studies show that CBD is free from the common side effects of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as stomach lining damage, blood pressure elevation, stomach aches.
Apart from being used as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory drug, CBD can reduce the swelling and discomfort of arthritis, through its selective immunosuppressive properties. However, more studies in humans needed to establish whether transdermal (i.e. Patches) or oral (i.e. Capsules, oil) use is better for arthritis treatment.
7. Multiple Sclerosis
In many studies, THC has been proven an effective agent against the many symptoms of multiple sclerosis, with THC/CBD combination being a highly effective treatment. However, CBD alone can also aid in multiple sclerosis. A study conducted in rats showed both pain reduction but also significant motor improvement.
8. Diabetic Cardiomyopathy
One of the complications often present in diabetic patients is diabetic cardiomyopathy (i.e. Increased risk of heart failure, coronary artery disease and hypertension). A 2010 study showed that CBD can be used as a treatment for diabetic cardiomyopathy, due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-apoptotic (reducing programmed cell death) properties.
The majority of cancer cases are treated with a combination of THC and CBD or a whole plant hemp oil (such as the Rick Simpson oil), as the synergistic effect of those substances seems to be the key for its anti-cancer properties. However, CBD alone has also been tested and proven to have selective pro-apoptotic (i.e. Induce cell death but selectively for tumour cells), anti-proliferative (i.e. Reducing tumour cell growth), but also anti-migratory and anti-metastatic (reducing the spreading of cancerous cells to other tissues) properties.
To conclude, cannabidiol is not a panacea, but it cannot be denied that its applications are vast and since its legal status is changing in many countries, this provides an easier way for academics to proceed in further studies, especially in humans, to investigate the full healing potential of this substance.
I am not a medical doctor. Always consult your doctor or physician before implementing any changes to your diet, medication or supplementation. Do not act on your own.
At the time of this article being written, I do have an affiliate link for a website that sells CBD products. However, I did this as I already used CBD and have found numerous studies on its efficacy.
Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease, characterized mostly by abdominal pain, frequent fever, diarrhea and often weight loss.
It can be caused by genetic predisposition, chronic stress, altered gut bacteria etc. I am not going to give you a full spectrum of what Crohn's disease is, you can look that up. What I intend to do is to provide you with alternative treatments.
Crohn's is most frequently treated azathioprine, methotrexate and other immunosuppressant drugs. As these medicines are suppressing your immunity, you can imagine the side-effects; you are more prone to catch the flu, bronchitis, common cold, bacterial infections (through touch/common areas/public toilets etc).
Now, I am not saying that the treatments are ineffective, but certainly the side-effects render people nervous about their use. Also, some people do not respond well to those therapies, experiencing vomiting, coughing blood, unexpected bruising, stronger abdominal pain etc. To those people, according to my research through various sources, the following had made it to the list of top alternatives to treat the disease:
1) Use 0.5mg to 1.5mg THC-containg medical (legally supplied) cannabis in 2-3 divided doses. (if THC is not legal in your country, I do not endorse the use of it).
2) CBD oil or spray, recommended dose 20-30mg in 2 divided doses.
There are multiple studies on the anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting properties of CBD, plus(at the same time?) it is now legal in many countries around the world in various forms which now makes is easier and cheaper to find.
3) Elemental diet: High carbohydrate, low-fat (less than 10%), fairly-low protein (10-20%) diet, based mainly on pre-digested (elemental) shakes for a few days (i.g. Nestle's Vivonex).
(note: the study was in fact funded by Nestle, so I would bear that in mind. Nevertheless the results show progress)
4) Semi-vegetarian diet. (MAJOR) Avoid red meat as much as possible, consume white meat or fish sporadically, eat a lot of fruit and vegetables, especially high-fibre ones (you need to test to see which ones are irritating your stomach and which ones you can tolerate. Aim for high-fiber, dark greens too). Avoid processed foods as much as possible, especially artificial sweeteners like aspartame, acesulfame K, maltodextrin etc and anything containing polysorbate. (A good example of high-fiber alkaline food is plantains and broccoli)
5) Turmeric extract (curcumin) 1.000 to 1.500 mg daily in 2 divided doses (preferably after meals since the stomach lining is already irritated). Prefer drops or extract capsules for a treatment, not the powdered herb itself, as the dosage will need to be higher in the powdered form.
6) Daily consumption of green tea (preferably organic). Studies for reduced inflammation present.
7) Vitamin D supplementation. Vitamin D regulates the expression of approximately 900 genes. Chronic deficiency can decrease serotonin (i.e. More stress which then exacerbates the disease), fatigue, chronic inflammation, decreased bone density and many more. Commonly prescribed vitamin D is around 400 to 800 IU which would be insufficient if you have vitamin D deficiency. My recommendation (as recommended to me by my GP as I am deficient too) would be 3.000 IU daily, in the morning, for at least 2 months (prefer drops or spray if possible, to avoid first-pass metabolism in the stomach. I use sublingual spray) I cannot stress the importance of Vitamin D enough. If you fix vitamin D deficiency, all aspects of your health will improve.
(If you are still not convinced about the importance of vitamin D, Google “Dr. Rhonda Patrick vitamin D”. She will convince you, stating facts and studies that are unshakable.)
8) Check B12 levels and supplement if necessary. Lack of B12 can decrease immunity and therefore cause inability to combat inflammation.
9) Probiotics: in Crohn's the stomach lining is damaged, and the bacterial flora is affected tremendously. A course of probiotics (7-10 days) can help restore the natural bacterial flora. Avoid artificial sweeteners as they have shown to eliminate good bacteria. You can consume stevia in reasonable amounts (up to 500ml of a sweetened beverage a day).
10) Peppermint tea. It has been shown to alleviate stomach cramps and bloating, better consume warm but not boiling hot, as it can cause more irritation in patients with bowel inflammation.
11) Fish oil/omega 3's. Supplements that contain EPA and DHA are major components for combating inflammation. (If vegetarian/vegan, take algae oil instead)
12) Fix the mood. Stress is a major factor in Crohn's disease. Try meditation, walking, cheerful activities. Vitamin D can also help with production of serotonin. (stress is a MAJOR factor to control)
13) Mangosteen juice. I have not found academic studies, but reviews from Crohn's patients state that daily consuption of mangosteen juice reduce symptoms. (usually 50ml, 2-3 times daily)
14) Keep a food diary, note down foods that trigger symptoms in order to completely eliminate them from your diet.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical doctor, always consult with your physician or doctor before taking any advice from me or anyone else, or before implementing any changes to your treatment.
Dr. Michael Greger (Google him)
Dr. Rhonda Patrick (Google her)
Cover picture by https://www.crohnsandcolitis.com.au/about-crohns-colitis/
Throughout my life (well, I'm young, but still I have had a lot of experience with health), I have encountered many health trends and watched them as they evolved and spread like a virus. Superfoods, Ayuverda, Yoga, Meditation, Acupuncture, Homeopathy, Herbal supplements, Veganism, Paleo diet, Intermittent Fasting, Gluten-free diet, Oil Pulling and even Vaginal Steaming.
Now, wanting to improve your health and experimenting with new things is wonderful, if the change is made under specific circumstances; following a diet or taking a supplement because your favourite celebrity does the same, may not only be useless, but harmful. Also, sometimes people get excited about a new health trend they discovered and whether they see results immediately or not (for their own reasons), they become militant, therefore ignoring any scientific feedback on their choice, potentially harming themselves.
Take Homeopathy as an example; I do not endorse it due to lack of scientific background, but the placebo effect is powerful and if patients can be helped that way, I can live with that. But when patients are homeopathy fanatics and reject all kind of other medicine, the act of not treating yourself can result into harming yourself. Being a pharmacist, I have encountered a patient with a serious bacterial infection in the kidneys, who rejected a treatment with antibiotics, continued with homeopathic remedies and the result; 98% kidney failure on that kidney. No matter how hard I tried, their mind was set. And it hurts me when I see my patients harmed.
So here are my main points on how to avoid getting caught in that trap of health as a dogma:
1) Always cross-reference your information
You've read something on a website and you want to try it out? Don't. Look further, check scientific websites, Google Scholar, look for academic studies, look for real case studies. Research to see if there are people reporting harmful side-effects, interactions, go deeper. Do not allow your excitement to trump over the scientific method.
2) If you admire certain people/celebrities, you still have to question everything they do before you try it out
I am a big fan of Tim Ferriss. However when I read the 4-Hour-Body I still checked the studies he had referenced, looked online for counter-arguments and checked for further research when it came to supplements. I also love the work of Brandon Gilbert (Hyperion Herbs), Teemu Arina (Biohacker's Handbook), Ben Greenfield and Rich Roll. I am always pumped to see a new post with information from any of them, but I always stop for a moment and check the info and the sources before I even think of trying something out. The great thing is that most of them list their sources (unlike many bloggers and "health" sites), which makes it easy for me to cross-check.
3) Keep an open mind for both sides of the coin
Life is not black and white and so is health. Technology and research are ever-changing. Scientific facts get disproved every now and then rendering things we took as granted, false. On the other hand anecdotal evidence that you may have been laughing at, may be research-backed sooner than you think. Do not adopt a fundamentalist mindset when it comes to your health, because at the end of the day you are the one that could be harmed.
I hope you find this information helpful. Feel free to comment or message me with further questions.
Keep healthy my friends!
I have mentioned before but cannot stress enough: turmeric is not panacea, but it's very very close. There are numerous benefits of turmeric, from tumor reduction to dental health. However, anti-inflammatory properties of turmeric are powerful and tested numerous times against placebo.
It is a pillar in combating inflammation and has helped myself with pseudo-arthritis symptoms (caused by Proteus mirabilis infection) and my mother (suffering from arthritis) drop our CRP (C-Reactive Protein, a key inflammation marker) levels within a month. My mother's regime included 750mg of turmeric twice daily with black pepper extract (for optimal curcumin absorption from the turmeric) and the CRP levels dropped from 31 to 8 within a month.
Uncaria tomentosa and Uncaria guianensis commonly referred to as "Cat's claw" because of it's shape, has been shown to reduce pain and swelling of joints. It has been tested on humans against placebo, significantly reducing pain, discomfort and inflammation in osteoarthritis patients over the course of 4 weeks.
The mechanism is not clear yet, however there are measurable effects on PGE2 (Prostaglandin E2) and TNFa (Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha), as Cat's Claw reduces both, therefore showing a possible mechanism of action. Cat's Claw can be found in extract form as well as powdered form and can be consumed as tea.
Ice, ice, bathing
First of all, "google" the name "Wim Hof". Read everything about him, including his book "The Wim Hof Method". A living example that we can tap into our autonomic nervous system (so, not really autonomic now, is it?) and affect our health through ice baths and cold exposure (and of course, breath-work as I mentioned in previous posts, e.g. meditation).
Leaving Wim aside, studies conducted in acute gouty arthritis patients, as well as patients undergoing anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction, suggest that local ice application has significant effects on pain and inflammation.
However, the duration of ice application is important as prolonged exposure to sub-zero temperatures can cause skin "burns" and also affect patients with uncontrolled blood pressure or heart disease. Always check with your doctor before trying ice therapy, even if applied locally.
Need I say more? Physiological stress is something that many people can control (i.e. not over-exercise, avoid extreme temperatures etc), but psychological stress is one of 21st century's major health conditions. Stress elevates cortisol levels and when cortisol levels remain high for an extended period of time, inflammation kicks in and ongoing inflammation may worsen. Chronic stress has been linked to inflammation, insomnia, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and more.
Meditation, yoga practice and spending time in nature have been shown to reduce cortisol levels in the blood, i.e. helping you fight back against that inflammation that gives you pain.
Disclaimer: As always, I am not a medical doctor. Always consult your physician, doctor, GP before following any of my advice.
Stay happy and healthy!
The term meditation has been associated with a lot of other "hippie" practices and ideologies, however its a far cry from just a new age trend. Studies have shown that in just 2 week, it is possible to affect your brains' performance through mindfulness practice. Breathing, mindfulness and walking meditation have been shown to have many health benefits, one of which is the ability to restore mental clarity. Think of meditation as a "mental task manager", shutting down all the noise in your head and back-up thoughts that overwhelm you and distract you from your important tasks and issue. If you want to try meditation, apps like Calm and Headspace are extremely useful, as well as the website FreeBuddhistAudio, which includes guided meditations and lectures.
2) Bacopa Monnieri + Ginkgo Biloba
Both know for their effect on memory and concentration, these two plants essentially boost micro-circulation in the brain, helping blood flow through all the areas of your brain more effectively. Studies show that both of these herbs perform significantly better than placebo, however the effect does take an average of 2 weeks to show. I have used both herbs in combination, experimenting with various doses until I land in the most effective dose for me and I can say that the results were profound.
3) Rhodiola rosea
A powerful adaptogen used widely for balancing stress and anxiety and preventing adrenal burnout. Using any potent adaptogen (such as Rhodiola, Reishi, Ashwagandha etc.), does more than just mellow your mood; consistent use of adaptogens will result in less spikes in your cortisol (stress hormone) levels, therefore taking away the jittery feeling of stress, providing with clean levels of energy and allowing your brain to function in a state without risking burnout.
4) Caffeine + L-theanine
We all know the effects of caffeine. However not all coffee is the same and also "little is good, more must be better" does not apply here. Choose local coffee artisans, get freshly ground beans, brew them bellow 100 degrees Celsius and combine your coffee with 150-200mg of L-theanine (which naturally occurs in smaller doses in tea), to get a stable energy kick without getting nervous and agitated.
5) Gratitude training
Powerful technique. Powerful. Especially if you are (like me) born in a family that always provided you with everything and in an environment of abundance, you may often forget to be thankful for the things you have and focus on the things you don't. Gratitude training (check out the app Bliss and also 5 Minute Journal), trains your brain to be in a state of gratitude, positivity and humility, therefore boosting your brain capacity as your brain is no longer occupied (or at least not as much) by negative or ungrateful thoughts.
As always, consult your doctor or medical professional before trying out any of my advice.
References and sources:
Get the 5 minute journal:
Gratitude training app:
There are hundreds of thousands of herbs, a vast majority of which have medicinal properties and can be used in our daily life. However, if you are newly interested in herbs, the amount of information and variety can be overwhelming. Hence, here is a small list of 5 of the fundamentally medicinal herbs that I incorporate in my life for optimal health
Several studies have shown the anti-emetic/anti-vertigo effects of ginger, often comparing it to the frequently used drug domperidone. A study performed with sailors in the open sea showed 78% protection against open sea nausea compared to placebo.
Antimicrobial properties of ginger are also potent, as studies show, especially when combined with linseed. The ginger/linseed mixture is a potent anti-microbial against species such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Proteus Vulgaris and Escherichia coli.
Last but not least, ginger has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, often used to reduce muscle soreness in athletic individuals, compared even to ibuprofen in a study carried out in 2009.
Potent anti-inflammatory herb with powerful antioxidant properties. Its active ingredient, curcumin, has shown to reduce inflammation even in rheumatoid arthritis. Due to its antioxidant properties, it is considered to be a potential prevention treatment for cancer, as well as autoimmune diseases.
3) Rhodiola Rosea
A potent adaptogen, used for many years for its stress-relieving properties. Consistent use of Rhodiola Rosea extract has been shown to reduce stress-induced fatigue and increase overall stress-resistance. Taken first thing in the morning, Rhodiola can help prevent spikes in cortisol levels throughout the day, therefore increasing stable energy levels for the entire day, reducing "crash" periods.
4) Bacopa Monnieri
Often referred to as Brahmi, Bacopa Monnieri is a memory-enhancing herb, with effects similar to the infamous Ginkgo Biloba. A study conducted in 2002, demonstrated that consistent use of Bacopa extract (for periods over 12 weeks), improved memory skills and acquiring new information, by improving micro-circulation in the brain.
Known widely as a basic ingredient in detox formulations, nettle has numerous effects on health. It can reduce fluid retention and therefore aid the management of chronic hypertension and reduce uric acid levels in patients with mildly elevated uric acid levels. A study conducted in 2003 showed that nettle extract can significantly prevent hyperglycemia when administered 30 minutes prior to glucose loading (i.e. A starchy or carbohydrate-packed meal)
1) Ginger Root Against Seasickness: A Controlled Trial on the Open Sea, Aksel Grøntved , Torben Brask , Jørgen Kambskard , Erwin Hentzer, Acta Oto-Laryngologica, Vol. 105, Iss. 1-2, 1988
2) Antimicrobial activities and some fatty acids of turmeric, ginger root and linseed used in treatment of infectious diseases, World Journal of Agricultural Sciences 2, 2006
3) Oxygen radical scavenging activity of curcumin, International Journal of Pharmaceutics, Volume 58, Issue 3
4) Roodenrys, S. "Chronic Effects Of Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri) On Human Memory". Neuropsychopharmacology 27.2 (2002): 279-281. Web. 19 June 2016.
5) "Antihyperglycemic Activity Of The Aqueous Extract Of Urtica Dioica". Sciencedirect.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 19 June 2016.
Herbalism is by definition the study and practice of medicinal and therapeutic plants. From ancient Greece, to Egypt, to Phoenicia, herbs have been used widely to cure and prevent several conditions. In fact, the beginning of pharmacy as a profession included the manufacturing of herbal tinctures, powders and creams, using the old pestle and mortar method. However, as technology progressed and especially after the industrial revolution, herbs were on the decline. Until now. People started to realize the healing potential of plants again.
This is not to say that pharmaceutical drugs have no value or are ineffective. Not at all. Several conditions cannot be adequately treated with herbs and more often than not, when fast onset and a potent effect are needed, pharmaceuticals have an edge.
Why choose herbs then? There are a few reasons:
1) Many herbs have been used for hundreds or thousands of years and apart from empirical evidence, a great number of herbs has been studied in placebo controlled studies.
2) Plenty of herbs possess more than one active ingredient and are therefore capable of exhibiting more than one effect.
3) Herbs are available to anyone. Herbs cannot be patented (in contrast to pharmaceutical drugs) and therefore anyone can buy them without prescription from anywhere and produce their own herbal remedies. Distribution is not limited and therefore there are no monopolies in herbs. You can harvest, grow or buy your herbs and with minimal equipment create your own powders, creams and tinctures. That way you can also enjoy the synergistic effects of mixtures of herbs.
4) Herbal remedies tend to have a slower onset compared to pharmaceutical drugs which allows for reversing the effect in case of an intolerance or allergy.
With great power, comes great responsibility though. Controls and regulations on herbs are loose and therefore you should always do your homework before you try anything and aim for a supplier that is credible and has reviews. Check credible sources such as ScienceDirect and PubMed, talk to your doctor, check your allergies.
Last but not least: why should you listen to me and take my word for granted? Short answer: Don't. Long answer: I studied pharmacy, qualified and have worked and am currently working in community pharmacy, submitted my university thesis on herbal remedies, took courses on herbalism and have been studying and using herbal remedies for the past 7 years. But science is ever-changing and new studies often come to disprove past theories. Doctors and researchers have been wrong many times. Always cross-check anything you read and doubt the source until you find more evidence. Not just on herbs, on anything.
I hope you enjoyed the post and always feel free to comment below or contact me if you have any questions.
Stay tuned for informative and fun ways to improve your health