Health Conditions

All about Magnesium – Which Form Works Best?

Magnesium
The ever-popular mineral, magnesium, is needed in over 300 of our daily metabolic reactions. Our bodies rely on magnesium to regulate muscle and nerve function, keep blood sugar levels balanced, make up strong bones and ensure proper liver detoxification. On the other hand, when magnesium stores are low, the risk for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and migraines increases. Why do We need Magnesium Supplements? Magnesium is primarily found in green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains. This is because magnesium occurs naturally in garden soil. Today, these foods are grown in soil that is no longer the same as it was decades ago. Conventional agriculture practices include heavy use of imbalanced crop fertilization and potassium addition, which decrease magnesium levels. Heavy rainfall and aluminum runoff can also decrease magnesium stores. The suboptimal growing environment of crops leads to lower magnesium content in crops – even when we eat magnesium-rich greens and grains, it may not be enough. Plus, it is estimated that 34% of Canadian adults do not consume enough magnesium in their diets. The combination of both these factors results in a large portion of the population being magnesium deficient. The Benefits of Magnesium Supplements Because most of us are deficient, magnesium is one of the safest minerals to supplement. The advantage of supplementing with magnesium lies in its many forms – it is easy to choose the perfect one depending on your individual needs! Magnesium Citrate (magnesium + citric acid) One of the most common and cheapest forms of magnesium, this form is often taken to relieve constipation. Magnesium citrate can relax the bowels and pull water into the intestines so that the stool bulks up and is easier to pass. It’s a gentle laxative that will not cause dependency, unlike some herbs. Options: Natural Factors Tropical Fruit 250g, Natural Calm Raspberry Lemon 16 oz. Magnesium Malate (magnesium + malate) Is there anything that magnesium can’t do? This amazing mineral can help improve energy and metabolism on a cellular level. If you are chronically fatigued or have aching muscles, magnesium malate is a great option. Those with high inflammation will also benefit from this form. Options: AOR Mag Malate Renew 240 cap, CanPrev Magnesium Malate 120 cap Magnesium Taurine (magnesium + taurine) To improve your overall cardiovascular health, magnesium taurine is the best choice. Both magnesium and the amino acid taurine can improve blood pressure levels and keep heart contractility normal. It protects the heart from calcification and heart attacks.   Options: AOR Mag + Taurine 180 cap, CanPrev Magnesium + Taurine 120 cap Magnesium Glycinate (magnesium + glycine) As one of the most popular forms of magnesium, this form can work wonders for many people. Magnesium glycinate (or bis-glycinate) is highly absorbable without causing laxative effects. It is safe to take at high doses and is commonly used for muscle tension, cramps, migraines, and to improve sleep quality. When taken before bed, it helps to calm the mind and body to ensure a good night’s rest. Options: Pure Encapsulations Magnesium Glycinate 180 cap, CanPrev Bis-Glycinate 240 cap Are Magnesium Supplements Suitable for Anyone? Though magnesium supplements are relatively safe for most people, it is possible to take too much. If you experience stomach pain or diarrhea after increasing your dose, it may be a sign your body has already absorbed sufficient amounts. In this case, you may need to decrease your dose. If you are taking prescription medications, make sure to consult with your healthcare practitioner before proceeding. Author Grace Tien is dietetics and holistic nutrition grad. She creates sustainable, delicious meal plans to help clients with their health goals. Grace specializes in nutrition for healthy periods, you can find out more at @gracetien.ca on Instagram.

Lowering Cholesterol For Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular Health and Cholesterol
High cholesterol is something that many of us deal with at some point in our lives. Cholesterol is not inherently bad; your liver makes enough naturally for proper health. The problem occurs when we add more cholesterol to our bodies through food, such as meat and dairy. These foods also have saturated and trans fats which cause your liver to create even more cholesterol the result can be high cholesterol for some people. High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for coronary heart disease, so keeping it under control is very important. Supplementation can be an effective solution for your high cholesterol but check with your healthcare provider to see if this approach is right for you. Monitoring your cholesterol levels while taking supplements through regular blood tests is advisable. Taking cholesterol-lowering supplements consistently is essential to see positive results. AOR Cholesterol Control For vascular health and healthy cholesterol levels, AOR’s Cholesterol Control contains a proprietary extract of bergamot which has been shown to help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and boost good cholesterol (HDL). The antioxidant and inflammation-reducing properties of bergamot also help to prevent vascular damage. It’s vegan, non-GMO, and gluten-free. A. VOGEL Omega-3 Capsules A source of omega-3 fatty acids (not derived from fish or other animal sources) which support cardiovascular health. A. Vogel Omega-3 is made from fresh plant sources and is sugar-, gluten-, lactose-free, and vegetarian-friendly. CYTO MATRIX Lipo Matrix Overall cholesterol and triglyceride support your cardiovascular health. Herbal ingredients in Lipo Matrix help reduce total cholesterol and bad LDL cholesterol (through lipid metabolism) while increasing good HDL cholesterol. It is vegan, soy-, dairy-, gluten-free, and non-GMO. GENESTRA Col-Sterol Plant sterol intake has been shown to decrease dietary cholesterol absorption. Genestra Col-Sterol Plant Sterol Formula contains 1,300 mg of Brassica napus plant sterols in each easy-to-swallow softgel, decreasing total and LDL cholesterol while supporting cardiovascular health. NATURAL FACTORS Niacin Inositol Niacin (vitamin B3) assists in the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbs and is good for maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Natural Factors Niacin Inositol improves cardiovascular function by promoting good cholesterol and decreasing the bad. Natural Factors niacin is delivered as inositol hexanicotinate this minimizes the flushing effect and further side effects of other niacin forms. NFH Chol Sap-15 Delivering a plant sterol intake of 1.05 g/d, overall cholesterol and LDL cholesterol can be lowered between 8-15% with NFH Chol SAP-15. In addition, plant sterols have been shown to support healthy immune function and reduce inflammation. NFH Chol SAP-15 is formulated with organic flaxseed oil, ensuring optimal absorption. Flaxseed oil is a source of omega-3 fatty acid and alpha-linolenic acid, which are essential for maintaining good health. It’s non GMO, corn, egg, dairy, yeast, citrus, sugar, wheat, gluten, and starch-free, contains no preservatives, and has no artificial colour or flavor.

Feeling Your Best Through Menopause

Menopause in Women
“Sage and rhubarb are two herbal medicines that can help reduce hot flashes, and St. John’s Wort is a wonderful aid for mood support.” My friend looked over at me and said, “Well, I guess this is just how it is now.” She was going through perimenopause and experiencing the classic symptoms of hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and sleep issues. We live in a time where there are tools and resources to help women feel well during this important time of change, yet they often feel overwhelmed and lost on where to seek support. Women may believe they must simply accept distressing symptoms, even if they interfere with their quality of life. As a naturopathic doctor that focuses on helping women navigate perimenopause and menopause, I can assure you that this is simply not the case. The goal of supporting women through menopause is to help alleviate aggravating, acute symptoms and to create a long-term plan to support healthy aging and vitality. Every woman deserves a personalized approach when working toward health goals. 5 Tips to Ease Menopause Symptoms Building upon healthy foundations can make a positive impact on reducing your symptoms of menopause and supporting your health in the long-term. Avoid triggers for hot flashes, such as caffeine and alcohol. These substances, although delicious, can exacerbate hot flashes. Eat protein and good quality, healthy fats at every meal, such as avocados, olive oil, and nuts and seeds. Focus on eating complex carbohydrates and reducing your sugar. Incorporate foods into your diet that act as phytoestrogens, such as soy and flaxseed. These help to modulate hormones in your body.  Add omega-3s to your diet by eating fish, fish oil, and nuts and seeds.  Reduce stress, expose yourself to sunlight, and move your body daily. Hormone Replacement Therapy  As hormones begin to decline during perimenopause, women may start to experience a constellation of vasomotor, urogenital, and physical changes. Vasomotor symptoms can include bothersome hot flashes and night sweats. Urogenital symptoms may include vaginal dryness, pain, and urinary incontinence. Physical symptoms such as insomnia, mood and memory changes, and joint and muscle pain can also begin. Using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can be an excellent option for alleviating many of these symptoms.  There are numerous forms and options when it comes to this treatment, and when chosen appropriately, it can have tremendous benefits that go beyond just symptom management. Hormone replacement therapy can also be supportive for long-term bone, cognitive, and metabolic health. With the right discussion on the risk and benefits of treatment with their healthcare practitioner, women can take control of their health and make informed choices around HRT. Let’s explore some of the options.  Bioidentical HRT   Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy simply means that the hormones used in treatment are identical to the hormones your body produces. Some bioidentical hormone preparations are standard and found in conventional pharmaceutical products, whereas other preparations can be personalized and made in compounding pharmacies for customized doses and forms. Synthetic HRT  The hormones used in this therapy are not identical in chemical structure to the hormones produced in your body. Many common hormone replacement prescriptions come in this form.  Both bioidentical and synthetic HRT can come in gels, topical or vaginal creams, patches, or be taken orally. Depending on the goals, health history, and preferences of each individual, there are pros and cons to each option. Although there can be some risks with HRT, the safety profile of these treatments can be very high and the benefits immense. Talking with a practitioner who is well-versed in the options is a good idea to determine which approach is best for you.  Natural Medicine  Natural medicine can have powerful benefits for supporting women in this important phase of life. It can be used in combination with HRT, or on its own for women who prefer a non-hormonal treatment option. Sage and rhubarb are two herbal medicines that can help reduce hot flashes, and St. John’s Wort is a wonderful aid for mood support. Optimizing your nutrient levels of Vitamin D, B12, and iron can be important for your energy and mood; melatonin and magnesium are supportive of sleep.  If you are struggling with vaginal dryness and pain, using a vaginal moisturizer that has hyaluronic acid can be extremely effective. The list of natural medicine that can be beneficial is extensive and is most effective when utilized in a personalized plan that fits your needs and goals. Naturopathic doctors are excellent resources to help you choose the right nutraceuticals and supplements to support your health.  Long-term Health   Along with supporting current health goals, menopause is a wonderful moment t ...

Slippery Elm: Healer or Hype?

Slippery Elm
If you’ve ever looked for a natural treatment for heartburn, sore throat, or constipation, you may have come across slippery elm. This large elm tree often flies under the radar, but its inner bark has a slippery mucilage, meaning it contains a polysaccharide that becomes a useful gel when mixed with water. It can be added to teas, supplements, and medicines to soothe skin and mucosal membranes and help facilitate movement in the digestive tract. Mucous membranes exist throughout our bodies. They are the lining of the respiratory cavities (e.g., nose, mouth, and throat), and digestive and urogenital tracts. These membranes can become inflamed after spicy meals or when you’ve picked up the latest daycare virus. With inflamed mucosal linings, you may experience symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, a sore throat, and congestion. Soothing these concerns is often a target for natural treatments like slippery elm. Psoriasis A collection of case studies using nutritional modifications and slippery elm in patients struggling with psoriasis found that all subjects saw improvement in their symptom ranking over a six-month trial, as well as a reduction in markers for intestinal permeability. Many of the studies that mention slippery elm are small and outdated at this point, but new studies are assessing its benefits in digestion and cholesterol, and the results are exciting! Digestion: Constipation  Stress is a significant issue seen in healthcare today that can impact the health of your digestion. One condition often associated with stress is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). People struggling with this can experience abdominal symptoms like bloating, gas and discomfort, as well as changes in bowel movements (e.g., constipation, diarrhea, or both). Because of its connection to stress and brain function, healthcare providers lean on psychotherapy to address these concerns. Cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation therapy, and hypnosis may all be worthwhile investments if you are struggling with IBS. Natural options, like slippery elm, may also work.  The fibre content in slippery elm is a bulk-forming laxative which may help with constipation. In patients with constipation-type IBS, the slippery elm formulation was found to significantly improve bowel habits and reduce other side effects. Another small study associated slippery elm with improved digestive symptoms, including indigestion, heartburn, nausea, constipation, abdominal pain, and flatulence. On closer inspection, the stool of participants also showed improvements in healthy bacterial populations and reduced markers for leaky gut. “Because slippery elm contains insoluble fibre, it has become a natural consideration for the treatment of high cholesterol.” The same soothing effect slippery elm provides for people struggling with IBS can also be used to treat heartburn and sore throats. This demulcent coats the throat, easing irritation and coughing symptoms. Some older anecdotal evidence suggests that slippery elm has the ability to soothe inflammation and swelling, improve mucosal irritation, and ease laryngitis and acid reflux—but more investigation is required to understand the mechanism of action and effectiveness. Cholesterol High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) is a very common issue in Canada, with 28 percent of people aged 18–79 fulfilling the criteria for diagnosis. While lifestyle changes are helpful recommendations in the management of high cholesterol, many people require medication therapy to bring cholesterol into the normal range and reduce the risk for heart disease.  The first line of treatment is a drug family called statins. As with any medication, statins are not without side effects that may impact results. Because slippery elm contains insoluble fibre, it has become a natural consideration for the treatment of high cholesterol.  A recent randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial demonstrated that patients with untreated high low-density lipoprotein (LDL) who received 500 mg of Ulmus macrocarpa Hance (large-fruited elm) daily for 12 weeks showed a greater decrease in LDL and total cholesterol in comparison to the placebo group. In addition, none of the participants reported any notable adverse events. Having an effective treatment option for managing a prevalent health concern like hypercholesterolemia—without side effects—is very exciting! How To Use Slippery Elm  Slippery elm comes in convenient capsules and teas, but you can also add the powder form to a smoothie or try making your own soothing lozenges. Regardless of the form, always take doses a couple of hours apart. Lozenges Ingredients » ½ c slippery elm powder  » 6 Tbsp honey Instructions Combine the slippery elm powder in a bowl with your favourite honey and mix well.  Roll the mixture into small balls using your hands (use about ½ tsp for each ball).  Roll each ball in a little extra ...

The Gut Microbiome and Mental Health: They Are Connected

Gut Microbiome and Mental Health
The "gut microbiome" has been an increasingly popular buzzword and the importance of gut health has gained momentum. To define it properly, our gut microbiome is the collection of microorganisms present in our digestive tract. This involves bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi. Emerg- ing research in the last decade has identified the microbiome as an essential target for health that impacts our ability to lose weight and the risk of atopic diseases, such as asthma, allergies, eczema, cardiovascular disease, mental health disorders, and more. Mental Health The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the prevalence of mental health concerns. Mental health connects all our human experiences, regardless of age, race, language, time zone, or country; we've all been touched by its positive and negative effects. There is a strong bidirectional relationship between the health of our gut and our mental health. Patients with gastrointestinal concerns also tend to have at least one psychiatric medical condition. These patients can experience chronic stress, anxiety, depression, fatigue, and insomnia—all as a result of their symptoms and poor gut health.2,3 Gastrointestinal conditions can include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis (UC), inflammatory bowel disorder (IBD), small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), celiac disease, and Crohn's disease. The gut-brain axis influences many regular body processes, including our immune, endocrine, and neural pathways. This means that to take care of our mental health, we must also take care of our gut microbiome. Microbiome Disruption Factors that disrupt our gut microbiome include stress, the use of antibiotics and/or pharmaceuticals (including the birth control pill), consuming food additives and preservatives, and overly restrictive diets. These can all alter the balance of good vs. bad bacteria in the gut, and encourage the growth of bad bacteria. Symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas can be a sign that the gut microbiome is disrupted. Another not-so-obvious sign of a damaged gut is skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and acne. These symptoms can occur because our skin is the largest organ of elimination. When our body isn't properly able to eliminate toxins and waste products through our bowels, urine, and sweat, it often turns to release them through the skin. It’s important to address these health conditions early on to avoid further harm to your gut microbiome. “Diversity In Your Gut Microbiome Appears To Improve Resilience Against Infection And Illness.” Supporting The Microbiome The beautiful thing about using food as medicine is that better health can begin as early as your very next bite. The food we eat plays an important part in how our gut microbiome develops. The habits we follow each day determine what our gut microbiome is colonized with (i.e., whether the good or bad microorganisms dominate). While there is never a "one size fits all" approach to nutrition, one finding appears to be true across the gut microbiome literature: diversity in your gut microbiome appears to improve resilience against infection and illness. This is be- cause different microorganisms serve different functions. For example, xyloglucans (commonly found in vegetables such as onions and lettuce) are uniquely digested by a specific species of Bacteroides.4 This means that the greater microbiome diversity there is, the greater the chance you'll always have microorganisms that are "working." Multiple studies have noted a positive relationship between increased fruit and vegetable intake and positive psychological well-being.5,6,7 For instance, a 2018 systemic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological studies noted a 14 percent lower risk of depression in cohort studies (a type of long-term study that follows participants over an extended period) and a 25 percent lower risk of depression in cross-sectional studies (a type of observational study that compares participants at a certain snapshot in time). A probiotic often comes in the form of  a supplement, and is deemed the "beneficial bacteria." Taking probiotics consistently can help repopulate your gut microbiome with microorganisms that help in digestion, immune function, skin health, and—you guessed it—mental health. There's even some evidence that probiotics can be used both acutely and preventatively for disease. There is so much variation in probiotics that it's important to start a supplement regime under the guidance of a naturopathic doctor. Probiotics vary in: 1)Amount of bacteria 2)Types of bacterial strains 3)Frequency of dosing Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are two of the most popular bacterial strains. Many factors determine whether probiotics are a good fit for you, and which are your best options. Prebiotic foods are the foods that feed the good microorganisms in the gut.9 Incorporating prebiotic foods daily helps to maintain a healthy mi ...

Milk Thistle: Your Liver Will Thank You

Milk Thistle for Lever
Are you struggling to “bounce back” after the holidays? It could be stress, it could be burning the candle at both ends, or it could be the over-indulging that so many of us enjoy in December and pay for in the new year. How can you help your body get back to better health? One way is to support your liver with the herb milk thistle. On any given day, the liver is involved in digestion, metabolism, detoxification, storage, production, and immunity.1 It’s a very important organ! When the liver isn’t working to the best of its ability, you might experience symptoms like bloating or abdominal pain, nutrient deficiencies, issues with cholesterol or blood sugar, aggravations of PMS and menopause symptoms, skin rashes, or fatigue.2 Because the liver’s functions are so broad, the side effects of dysfunction are as well. The best way to tell if the symptoms you’re experiencing are due to your liver is through blood work. If you haven’t had blood testing done recently, ask your doctor if they can help you investigate the health of this organ. Checking Liver Function If your blood testing results indicate that your liver isn’t performing as well as it should, some of the most important (and basic) things to consider changing are nutrition, movement, and alcohol intake. Milk thistle is a liver-loving herb in many naturopathic doctors’ toolkits. If you’re looking for gentle liver support, it might be the right fit for you. Milk thistle has been used for cancer care, hepatitis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It’s often considered for women’s general health and wellness too, as milk thistle supports liver function, blood sugar management, and lower cholesterol levels. Fatty Liver and Hepatitis Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition that affects about 20 percent of Canadians.5 While it’s generally benign, over time and unaddressed, this can progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). In addition to excess fat in the liver, NASH presents with inflammation and scarring of the liver that can progress to cirrhosis.6 While experimental studies have shown milk thistle to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antifibrotic benefits, it has yet to be demonstrated consistently in clinical trials.7 More research is required to help determine milk thistle’s appropriate dosage in people managing fatty liver and hepatitis, but this treatment has generally been shown to be highly tolerated and safe. Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Blood sugar and cholesterol management are very common concerns. People are often looking for alternatives to get things under control so they might avoid prescription medications. In a 2018 clinical trial, participants with type 2 diabetes who received 140 mg of silymarin (from milk thistle) three times a day, demonstrated significant decreases in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL). This group also showed improvements in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and insulin sensitivity. Hormones Milk thistle has been researched for its estrogenic (promoting estrogen production and activity in the body) effects on women’s health. In one clinical trial, menopausal women treated with this herb reported a decrease in the frequency and severity of hot flashes they had been suffering with. Another Interesting Application A 2021 clinical trial found that a milk thistle ointment applied to the perineum after episiotomy (a procedure sometimes required during labor and delivery) improved healing time and decreased the severity of pain experienced by women.11 Given the research available today, milk thistle has its great- est influence on patients with cholesterol and blood sugar management issues, while showing some interesting potential for women’s health and cancer care. How beneficial it is for those struggling with fatty liver remains to be seen; but given its safety profile, it may still be a good consideration for general liver health. An important point to clarify is that although supplements can help with detoxification, it’s your liver that is always doing that job—supplements or not. Your liver is always working.12 How efficiently it’s working depends on a combination of genetics, age, and overall health. The first step is to see your healthcare provider check on how your liver is working, which will require blood testing and possibly an abdominal ultrasound. It can then be decided whether milk thistle is the right fit for you and your health goals.

Lycopene – The Natural Red Pigment that Can Help Prevent Disease

Lycopene to Prevent Disease
You probably know that the pigment which lends bold color to certain veggies (tomatoes and pumpkin, for example) is linked to powerful antioxidants – called carotenoids. Most people probably don’t consider taking these carotenoids as individual supplements for overall longevity and improved health.  The benefits of carotenoids like lycopene are vast; including enhanced respiratory, vision, and cardiovascular health. Lycopene is also useful for men experiencing BPH or prostate issues.  What is Lycopene? Beyond Tomatoes In Western countries, tomatoes make up the predominant intake of lycopene, accounting for close to 90 percent. Lycopene is the carotenoid that lends vegetables and fruit (namely tomatoes) their bright red pigment.  Beta-carotene is another popular carotenoid, known for lending a bright orange color to carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin.  Research clearly demonstrates carotenoids as being healthy for us, and reducing the risk factors for all-cause mortality – lycopene specifically offers its own unique health benefits that make supplementing with it worth it.  Lycopene is an exceptionally affordable supplement, with very low risk/interactions and is tolerated well by most people. You won’t be able to get the same amount from food sources that you would in the form of a supplement, even if you consumed tomato-based products with every meal.  The Health Benefits of Lycopene: Prostate Health, Cardiovascular Health, and More Lycopene appears to protect sperm cells – improving count, and motility, and reducing oxidative damage.  Higher blood plasma levels of lycopene were associated with fewer cardiovascular events, strokes, and heart attacks. Conversely, lower levels of lycopene were associated with an increased risk of heart disease.  Other observational studies seem to indicate lycopene as protective against atherosclerosis – the primary risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.  Intake of only ~25mg per day of lycopene was shown to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.  Other observational studies indicate that an increased tomato or tomato product intake was correlated with better blood vessel function, better artery function + better arterial health, and lower LDL cholesterol levels.  There is an apparent connection between lycopene intake and prostate cancer. Those with the highest amounts of lycopene intake were noted as having 15%-20% lower occurrences of prostate cancer.  Lycopene appeared to prevent earlier cognitive decline in rat study models, by reducing oxidative damage to the brain in those with diabetes and/or Parkinson’s Disease.  Lycopene appeared to prevent memory related deficits and depression, by reducing inflammation in the brain’s hippocampus.  In women, lycopene supplementation appears to reduce pelvic pain symptoms, and the pain associated with pelvic inflammatory disease. It can also reduce diabetic nerve pain by reducing the amount of circulating inflammatory compounds. 

Xymogen’s ProbioMax DF – 30 & 100 Billion CFU Probiotic Formulations for Gut Health

Xymogen’s ProbioMax
Both Daily DF probiotic supplements contain the following clinically tested strains of probiotics to support a healthy gastrointestinal system: Bifidobacterium lactis Lactobacillus acidophilus Lactobacillus plantarum  Bifidobacterium longum  Bifidobacterium longum Strain is well known to be tolerated by humans and safe for consumption. It is extremely resistant to bile salts/stomach acid and can tolerate a low-pH environment. This makes it quite well suited to the intestinal environment, and one of the better options when supplementing with probiotics to replenish healthy gut flora.  Lactobacillus plantarum Strain is isolated from plant material, and is well-known as being a component of lactic acid fermented foods. This includes sauerkraut and kefir. Like Bifidobacterium longum, lactobacillus plantarum is resistant to bile salts and well tolerated in a low pH environment. This means a much higher level of efficacy and adhesion.  Lactobacillus acidophilus This is perhaps one of the more popular and commonly supplemented probiotics on the market. It is widely used in probiotic supplements, and found in fermented milk-based products like kefir and yogurt. It is present in the human mouth and intestinal tract. This particular strain in Xymogen is of human origin and completely safe for use.  Bifidobacterium lactis This was first discovered in the late 1890’s and plays a significant role in the human digestive system throughout the lifespan of a person from infancy to adulthood. This particular patented strain (HOWARU HN019) has shown the ability to survive transit through the gastrointestinal system and proliferate. This strain has long been studied and documented, with an excellent safety profile and proven efficacy.  These probiotics by Xymogen do not need to be refrigerated. They are completely shelf stable. After opening, simply store them in a cool, dry place.  ProbioMax DF is a vegetarian, dairy, GMO, and gluten-free probiotic formulation that comes in either 30 billion CFU capsules, or 100 billion CFU capsules.  Each individual capsule is protected by being sealed in a nitrogen-purged aluminum blister pack to prevent degradation from heat, moisture, and oxygen.  These four clinically researched strains provide proven health benefits, and each has a well-established and well-known safety profile. In addition, to help further support the resistance to stomach acid when consumed, Xymogen utilizes gastro-resistant capsules to help ensure the beneficial bacteria make it to the small intestine.  These specially designed “DRcaps” are formulated to help slow the exposure of acids to active bacteria and ensure a more targeted and therapeutic release once ingested. 

Xymogen’s Bio C 1:1 Formula – Potent Vitamin C with Citrus Bioflavonoids for Antioxidant & Immune Support

Xymogen’s Bio C
Xymogen’s Bio C 1:1 formula contains (combines) a high-potency vitamin C (ascorbic acid) with full-spectrum citrus bioflavonoids.  Both have been thoroughly researched and are understood to be important for supporting antioxidant and immune system function.  Not only is vitamin C incredibly important for fighting against illness or stress, but research depicts vitamin C’s important role in the synthesis of collagen, the amino acid carnitine, and neurotransmitters for cognitive function. Citrus bioflavonoids support a healthy metabolism and neurological health by functioning as cell-signaling agents + supporting the enhanced absorption and utilization of vitamin C.  This formula by Xymogen contains 500 mg of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) + 500 mg of citrus bioflavonoids per capsule in a one-to-one ratio. One capsule is recommended daily, although both have a high safety profile and tolerance. The only side effect people tend to notice with increased amounts of vitamin C or bioflavonoid intake is diarrhea until their body adjusts. Vitamin C is, of course, a well-known antioxidant vitamin and water-soluble vitamin that is essential to humans and important for overall wellness. While we only need a very small amount of vitamin C to prevent ‘scurvy’ or deficiency, high amounts of vitamin C intake have been correlated with improved health markers and better immune response during times of illness.  The amount required by the body to support physiological functions becomes increased when we undergo stress, have poor dietary habits, smoke, drink alcohol, undergo radiation, are exposed to pollution, or are ill.  Vitamin C protects against free radicals and oxidative stress produced from bodily processes and external factors, and also contributes to collagen synthesis/production and adrenal gland support. It is an important support for the immune system and a cofactor for metabolic enzymes.  Vitamin C and The Immune System Immune cells absorb and concentrate vitamin C – vitamin C’s role in immune system function has long been known and reported in the medical literature. The T-cell function is known to be enhanced by vitamin C. While the “recommended” amount of vitamin C intake for optimal function has long been debated, Dr. Linus Pauling, in his research on vitamin C, recommended an intake of 2,300 mg per 2,500 calorie intake for humans as a “minimum.” However, this was way back in the early 1970s. The NIH (National Institute of Health) determined at around 400 mg per day is required for young and healthy non-smokers to attain saturation of vitamin C, but do not know how much is required for those in older adults, or those with infection/chronic stress.  It is already known that the elderly or those under stress conditions require a substantially higher intake of vitamin C to maintain or attain plasma concentrations that provide benefit.  As this one study reads: “vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. In turn, infections significantly impact vitamin C levels due to enhanced inflammation and metabolic requirements. Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. In contrast, treatment of established infections requires significantly higher [gram] doses of the vitamin to compensate for the increased inflammatory response and metabolic demand.”  Energy from dietary fatty acids also requires vitamin C because it depends on the synthesis of carnitine, which helps shuttle along long-chain fatty acids into mitochondria. Vitamin C, as we mentioned previously, is required for the synthesis of carnitine. Vitamin C is also abundant in the brain and helps with the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine and regulates intraneuronal communication.  Citrus bioflavonoids are perhaps more widely known and used in Europe and are phytochemicals derived from plants/food (commonly citrus fruits) that are biologically active compounds associated with cardiovascular health, inflammation, and cognition.  Healthcare practitioners, namely naturopaths, commonly use bioflavonoids independently to support joint health and inflammation. However, they can also be used for blood vessel support, lymph system support, respiratory health, eye health, and cardiovascular health. These bioflavonoids are able to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and are neuroprotective. 

Devil’s Claw Root – A Potent Natural Pain Reliever and NSAID Alternative

Devil’s Claw Root
Devil’s claw – a fairly ominous sounding name for an herb that can help deal with joint pain, inflammation and arthritis without the use of NSAIDs (Aspirin, Tylenol) or other medications that may leave unwanted side effects in their wake with prolonged use (like stomach ulcers). The name devil’s claw comes from the little ‘hooks’ that cover the plant. It is native to South Africa, with it being introduced to a larger population in Europe around the 1900’s. Traditionally, the devil’s claw has been used to treat pain, inflammation, and joint issues. Topically, it was used in ointments and preparations to help manage and heal skin problems like sores or infections. Internationally, the popularity of devil’s claw has increased with use in countries such as France, Germany, the U.S. and Canada for addressing lower back pain, arthritic pain, joint pain, and inflammation. The plant is a perennial, and the roots are what are typically used in the extracts and supplements you can find in health food stores as “devil’s claw.” Glycosides, and Anti-inflammatory Effects An important active component of devil’s claw is the ‘glycosides’ – these are naturally present compounds in plants, and are often used in a variety of medications (both herbal and pharmaceutical). In particular, devil’s claw contains harpagoside – one type of ‘iridoid glycoside’ that is found to have potent anti-inflammatory effects. What is an iridoid glycoside, exactly? These compounds in plants act as a natural defense against pathogens, environmental dangers, insects, and herbivores. Iridoid glycosides are found in many different plants. Harpagoside is just one among the hundreds of these compounds. It is suggested in the medical literature that by inhibiting certain signal pathways in the body (COX-2), this compound in devil’s claw can reduce pain. It has been shown that inhibitors of these pathways (pharmaceuticals or herbal supplements) can help to treat or address rheumatic health concerns – joint pain, arthritis, inflammation, and back pain. Many devil’s claw extracts will be “standardized” to contain 3% iridoid glycosides or 2% harpagosides. We recommend taking devil’s claw between meals to ensure optimal bioavailability of the anti-inflammatory compounds, as stomach acid may reduce the potency and efficacy.  Traditional Use to Contemporary Use  Devil’s claw has an established history of use for pain symptoms dating back several hundred years – everything from gout, malaria, myalgia, fibrositis, and lumbago to chest pain, tendonitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. In contemporary use, devil’s claw is more commonly prescribed or recommended for lower back and joint pain specifically. Research may support devil’s claw use in cases of: Rheumatoid Arthritis Lower Back Pain and Joint Pain Osteoarthritis Tendinitis Chronic Inflammation   Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis – common as we age, and associated with joint pain, devil’s claw has been studied to reduce pain and alleviate symptoms. Multiple studies, including one literature review, determined devil’s claw to be effective at relieving pain, improving mobility, and easing joint use without additional medication. Another study confirms beneficial use in those with hip or knee arthrosis – displaying devil’s claw can be used to address health concerns from tendinitis, inflammation, and joint pain that isn’t localized to a specific area. In the study, there was a dramatic reduction in pain reported with only two adverse reactions – both digestive upsets. There are numerous studies using devil’s claw for muscle pain, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, ankle pain, and hip pain. Lower-Back Pain – Research effectively demonstrates that devil’s claw extract has a potent anti-inflammatory effect, particularly in those with arthritis. Devil’s claw suppressed cytokine production and inflammation, and the glycosides present in devil’s claw were found to be the active therapeutic behind this action.  Any Side-Effects Associated with Devil’s Claw? Generally, devil’s claw seems to be quite well tolerated in people – although studies have not accounted for long-term use. The primary side effect reported was digestive upset and diarrhea. As devil’s claw can trigger uterine contractions, it is not recommended for those that are pregnant, nor is it recommended for new mothers or young children. Allergy to devil’s claw is rare, but possible. Those with sensitive stomachs, GERD, ulcers, or IBS would be best suited to avoid taking devil’s claw as it can come with gastrointestinal side effects in sensitive individuals – especially as devil’s claw can increase the production of stomach acids. As it may lower blood sugar levels, those on medication for diabetes should avoid use or speak with a doctor prior because devil’s claw could trigger a ...