Natural Therapies: Simple Solutions for Complex Problems

Monday, August 31, 2009 by: Dr. Julian Whitaker
Tags: dietary supplements, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) One question I'm routinely asked is "If you had to recommend just one supplement for __________ (fill in the blank), what would it be?" I could easily spout off a laundry list of safe, natural therapies for virtually all common health concerns. Narrowing it down to only one therapy per condition is much more of a challenge, but based on recent patient and subscriber feedback, here goes.

Manage Pain With MSM
For joint and muscle pain, I've been hearing great things about MSM (methylsulfonylmethane), a naturally occurring sulfur compound and close chemical cousin of DMSO-that doesn't have DMSO's obnoxious smell. MSM relieves pain by several mechanisms. It's a powerful anti-inflammatory, it blocks the pain response in nerve fibers, and its sulfur may help with cartilage regeneration.

One of our patients, the mother of a Whitaker Wellness doctor, was bothered by nagging pain in her neck and shoulders- until she started taking MSM. Another patient, who is an actor, used to have such excruciating pain in his knees that he'd have to take Vicodin before going on stage and was considering arthroscopic surgery. He reported miraculous results with MSM and no longer requires painkillers. The suggested daily dose of MSM ranges between 1,200 and 6,000 mg. Start low and increase as needed.

How to Get a Good Night's Sleep
Occasional sleeplessness is a very common concern. I used to recommend melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your "body clock"; valerian, an herb with mild sedative effects; or L-theanine, an amino acid with profound relaxing properties. Each of these worked for some people, but not everyone. Then I tried them in combination, and bingo! For the majority of patients and subscribers, this combo engenders a good night's sleep.

Tom, a VP at the company that publishes Health & Healing, shared his story. He was eating right, exercising, and taking vitamins, but when it came time for bed, despite the fact he was physically and mentally drained, he still sometimes had trouble falling or staying asleep. Since he started taking this supplement, however, he sleeps like a baby.

Look for combination sleep products in your health food store. Suggested doses are 1,000 mcg melatonin, 500 mg valerian extract, and 200 mg L-theanine 30 minutes to an hour before bedtime.

V8 Gives Hypertension the Boot
Experts predict that an astounding 90 percent of middle-aged Americans will develop hypertension at some point in their lives. This sounds extreme, but I have to admit that many of the patients who come to my clinic have high blood pressure. Fortunately, we are very successful at getting them off drugs with diet changes, exercise, and a handful of supplements. But if I had to select just one thing for high blood pressure it would be Low Sodium V8 Juice.

Low Sodium V8 has a slight blood-thinning effect, which reduces pressure on the arteries, and it's loaded with potassium, which balances sodium and helps lower blood pressure. One of the many patients who has benefited from this therapy is Ted, an old friend of mine. After struggling with hypertension for years, Ted took me up on my suggestion to drink 12 ounces of this juice every day. Much to his surprise, this simple step worked to normalize his blood pressure.

Flaxseed Lowers Cholesterol
It seems like everyone's trying to lower their cholesterol, and millions of Americans are taking dangerous statin cholesterol-lowering drugs to bring it down. When a patient walks through the doors of Whitaker Wellness on one of these drugs, however, we immediately discontinue it and start them on natural therapies that accomplish the same goal in a much safer and saner manner. The one I'd recommend you try first is flaxseed.

Simply grind up a quarter cup once a day, mix it in water or a smoothie, and drink it. The soluble fiber and omega-3 oils in flax can dramatically lower cholesterol. One of my staff members tried it herself, and after three weeks of use her total cholesterol level fell about 23 points. And Health & Healing subscriber James, whose initial cholesterol level was 288, saw his numbers drop to 232 after 15 days, and plummet to an incredible 188 after six months.

DGL Quells Heartburn
People are always asking me about digestive problems, and I always recommend the same thing: DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice). This herb helps boost your natural defenses by enhancing production of protective mucosal cells that line the entire gastrointestinal tract. Many of my patients swear by DGL for relieving acid reflux and heartburn. One in particular, Hortense, hasn't had a single episode since beginning her daily DGL regimen.

DGL's suggested dose is two tablets chewed 20 minutes before meals three times a day. In order for DGL to be effective it must be mixed with saliva, so only purchase chewable forms. Unlike regular licorice, DGL does not cause water retention, raise blood pressure, or lower testosterone levels.

See Clearly With Nutrients
Vision problems plague many people as they get older, and whether it's an inability to read fine print, dry eyes, floaters, or macular degeneration, these impairments interfere significantly with quality of life. That's why for more than a decade I've recommended lutein, zeaxanthin, zinc, bilberry, and other nutrients that target eye health.

These nutrients consistently provide good results-in fact, in just the past month I've heard from three subscribers who began using them. One woman reported that her macular degeneration, a progressive condition that is the leading cause of blindness in older people, is now under control and holding steady. Another says they help with her vision and dry eyes. And a 93-year-old man told me that now his 40-year-old relatives depend on him to read fine print! Look for vision products that contain 15 mg of lutein, 600 mcg zeaxanthin, 50 mg zinc, and 320 mg bilberry, among other nutrients.

Rev Up Energy With Ribose
Lack of energy is another common problem that can be caused by a number of things, from low thyroid to sleep apnea to a serious disease. But for run-of-the-mill fatigue, I vote for ribose. It's a simple sugar required in the production of ATP, the fuel that runs our cells. Low stores of ribose mean less ATP can be generated, and that translates into sapped energy. I've written about ribose for the treatment of heart failure and fibromyalgia, but it also shores up energy levels in cells throughout the body, giving you a natural energy boost.

One ribose "success story" is my wife, Connie, who, like the energizer bunny, just keeps going and going. Even though she works full time, travels with me, and is always juggling a number of additional projects, this woman never runs out of steam. Connie says that ribose noticeably perks her up, and it also improves her endurance while exercising. I recommend taking 5 g (one heaping teaspoonful) of ribose mixed in water, tea, or coffee two or three times a day.

Say Bye-Bye to BPH With Saw Palmetto
Women may have to go through menopause, but older men have to deal with enlarged prostates. This condition, called benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) can be a real inconvenience. My patient Fred wasn't getting enough sleep because he had to make up to five nighttime trips to the restroom. Problem was, despite a sense of urgency, he had trouble going and his urinary flow was little more than a dribble. He tried cutting back on liquids before bed and concentrating on emptying his bladder, but nothing worked. Then I told him about saw palmetto.

Saw palmetto works in a fashion similar to the drug Proscar to treat BPH symptoms- without the side effects of the drug, which include erectile dysfunction and loss of libido. After two weeks of taking saw palmetto, Fred noticed improvements. Over the next three months his nighttime bathroom trips decreased from five to one. The suggested dose is 320 mg daily taken in divided doses with meals.

Magnesium Relaxes Muscles
Charley horses and nocturnal leg cramps plague all of us at some time or another. These painful muscle spasms are not only inconvenient, they interfere with sleep and quality of life. The solution? Magnesium, which relieves cramps by relaxing the muscles. This mineral has been shown to be extremely effective at reducing the occurrence of nighttime leg cramps, especially in pregnant women and older individuals.

At the clinic we use magnesium citrate, a highly bioavailable form of magnesium. Look for powdered magnesium citrate, and take 420 mg in water about 30 minutes before bedtime. In addition to relaxing your muscles, it may help you sleep better too. (Some people are sensitive to larger doses of magnesium; if it causes diarrhea, reduce your dose.)

A Unique Product for Psoriasis
Skin problems, though rarely life threatening, cause patients an inordinate amount of distress- and one of the most distressing is psoriasis. A former employee of mine who suffered with this condition for 25 years described not only the pain of her bleeding, weeping lesions but also told me she felt like a leper during much of her childhood and adolescence. She tried every treatment imaginable for her psoriasis, from steroids to fish oil to fasting, to no avail.

Then she discovered an over-the-counter spray called Blue-Cap (formerly Skin-Cap). It worked like nothing else for this woman, as it has for many, many others. I want to give you a heads-up about some controversy over Blue-Cap. The FDA has reported that it contains a prescription steroid. The product's manufacturer denies this, stating the active ingredient is zinc pyrithione. It's a murky situation, but it hasn't deterred users who swear it's the only thing that gives them relief- including some of my patients who have been using it for years with no adverse effects.

Cranberries for UTIs
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are not something people like to talk about, but they are extremely common- and surprisingly easy to prevent. One subscriber told me she used to have frequent UTIs until she started drinking unsweetened cranberry juice. At the first sign of an infection, she drinks one or two glasses a day, and she says she hasn't had a UTI since she started this preventive measure.

Cranberry juice is one of those "kitchen remedies" that really works. These berries contain proanthocyanidins and a sugar called d-mannose that prevent E. coli bacteria from sticking to bladder walls and setting up residence in your urinary tract. Regular cranberry juice is full of sugar, so I recommended the unsweetened varieties. They are very tart, but you can sweeten them with stevia or xylitol. Another option is cranberry extract supplements, which are sold in health food stores. If you're prone to infections, use cranberry juice or supplements regularly.

To Your Health-
I can't guarantee that these "one-shot wonders" will do it for everyone, but I can tell you that we've had excellent success over the years with these tried-and-true therapies.
Most of these treatments and supplements are sold in health food stores. Low Sodium V8 Juice and unsweetened cranberry juice may be found in grocery stores, and you may have to look for Blue-Cap on the Internet. All of these products may also be ordered by calling the Whitaker Wellness Institute at (800) 810-6655.

About the author

Reprinted from Dr. Julian Whitaker's Health & Healing with permission from Healthy Directions, LLC. For information on subscribing to this newsletter, visit or call (800) 539-8219.
About the Author
Julian Whitaker, MD, is the author of Health & Healing, a monthly newsletter that has reached millions of readers since 1991. He has also written 13 books and hosts The Dr. Whitaker Show, a popular radio program. In 1979, Dr. Whitaker founded the Whitaker Wellness Institute. Today, it is the largest alternative medicine clinic in the United States. To learn more, visit or call (800) 488-1500.

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