Month: September 2015

Resveratrol May Offer Protection Against Alzheimer’s

September 28, 2015

By Dr. Mercola

Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in a number of plants, including grape skins, raspberries, mulberries, pomegranate, and raw cacao, and is known to have a number of beneficial health effects.

It belongs to a family of compounds known as polyphenols, which is produced by plants to increase their survival and resistance to disease during times of stress, such as excessive ultraviolet light, infections, and climate changes.

When you consume it, you can reap similar protection.

Indeed, resveratrol is known to combat damaging free radicals in your body, and health benefits include general life extension, and the prevention of cancer,1 Alzheimer’s disease, and depression.

Resveratrol is found in abundance in red wine.2 Because it’s highly soluble in alcohol, your body may absorb more of it from red wine than from other sources.

Despite that, I do not suggest drinking large amounts of red wine, as alcohol in and of itself is neurotoxic and can damage your brain and other organs. I believe there are far healthier sources for this potent free radical scavenger than wine.

Muscadine grapes, for example, have the highest concentration of resveratrol in nature because of their extra thick skins and numerous seeds, in which resveratrol is concentrated.

Resveratrol Has Neuroprotective Effects

Over the years, a number of studies have suggested resveratrol has neuroprotective effects, and may even slow the onset or progression of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

The latter is the second most common type of dementia after Alzheimer’s, and accounts for 20 to 30 percent of all cases. This form of dementia is caused by blocked or reduced cerebral blood flow, resulting in your brain cells being chronically deprived of oxygen and vital nutrients.

A number of different mechanisms and properties contribute to resveratrol’s neuroprotective influence.

One of the special properties of resveratrol is its ability to cross your blood-brain barrier, which allows it to moderate inflammation in your central nervous system. This is significant because CNS inflammation plays an important role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

Resveratrol has also been shown to improve cerebral blood flow, which is part of its protective effects against vascular dementia, as well as stroke. A 2010 study3 found that even one single dose of resveratrol can improve blood flow to your brain.

Previous research4 has also found resveratrol improves learning and memory in rats with vascular dementia by reducing oxidative stress in their brains.

Another 2010 study5 found that resveratrol suppresses inflammatory effects in certain brain cells (microglia and astrocytes) by inhibiting different pro-inflammatory cytokines and key signaling molecules.

Studies also show that resveratrol may prevent the formation of plaque in your brain that leads to Alzheimer’s disease.

Resveratrol Helps Prevent Hallmark Plaques Associated with Alzheimer’s

Research6 published in 2005 concluded resveratrol exerts “potent anti-amyloidogenic activity.”

Most recently, a double-blind, placebo-controlled study7,8,9,10,11 found that resveratrol, taken in highly concentrated doses, appears to stabilize levels of amyloid-beta and prevent further buildup of the protein in the brain, thereby slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

In this trial, half of the participants were given up to 1,000 mg of resveratrol concentrate daily — equivalent to the resveratrol contained in about 1,000 bottles of red wine. The other half received a placebo.

All had been diagnosed with mild or moderate Alzheimer’s disease at the onset of the study. At the end of one year, the treatment group showed no change in amyloid-beta levels in their brains, spinal fluid, or blood, which was a good sign.

Meanwhile, the placebo group showed signs of typical disease progression, including a decline in amyloid-beta in their blood and spinal fluid. It’s thought that this reduction is due to the protein being removed from other parts of the body and deposited in the brain instead.

As reported by Market Business:12

“In patients with Alzheimer’s, amyloid-beta levels decrease in the cerebrospinal fluid, while deposits of the substance increase in the brain, where it becomes insoluble.

These insoluble plaques are a hallmark of the disease, which eventually leads to the death of nerve cells in the brain.

‘Somehow, resveratrol is affecting cerebrospinal amyloid levels,’ Dr. R. Scott Turner… told FoxNews.com. ‘We don’t quite fully understand why or how, but [we] think it may be related to sirtuins.’”

Resveratrol Produces Effects Similar to Calorie Restriction

Incidentally, sirtuins are proteins activated by calorie restriction, and are thought to play a role in the regulation of skeletal muscle mitochondrial function.
Studies13 on animals have shown that long-term calorie restriction effectively helps prevent age-related diseases, including Alzheimer’s, so this is an intriguing link.

That said, since the chief goal of this latest study was to evaluate the safety of high-dose resveratrol, additional research is required to determine whether, and to what degree, resveratrol might actually prevent mental decline.

The study did note some promising signs of cognitive benefit though. As reported by CNN:14

“Even for the relatively small number of participants in the study, the researchers did see indication that resveratrol could improve cognition.

Patients in this group had slight improvements in their ability to carry out daily tasks, such as remembering to brush their teeth. And anecdotally, patients who took resveratrol told the researchers that they felt like they were maintaining their mental ability.”

Interestingly, resveratrol appears to produce biological effects similar to those of calorie restriction in another way as well. A study15 published in the March 2013 issue of Science demonstrates that resveratrol directly flips on a gene that stimulates production of a protein called SIRT1, which prevents disease by recharging your mitochondria (the little powerhouses inside your cells). As it turns out, calorie restriction and resveratrol exert the same effect on this SIRT1 protein.

Other Health Benefits of Resveratrol

Resveratrol is often referred to as “the fountain of youth” due to its wide-ranging health benefits. More than 600 scientific studies16 have found beneficial effects, covering more than 340 different diseases. In broad strokes, resveratrol has been found to exert the following actions and functions:

  • Broad-spectrum antimicrobial
  • Anti-infective
  • Antioxidant
  • Cardio-protective
  • Neuroprotective

Its anti-cancer properties are also well known, but many of resveratrol’s benefits appear to be related to its superior ability to reverse oxidative stress and quench inflammation. It does this by preventing your body from creating two molecules known to trigger inflammation – sphingosine kinase and phospholipase D.

Resveratrol May Be Helpful Against Depression

Inflammation is also thought to be a main player in depression. For example, researchers have found that melancholic depression, bipolar disorder, and postpartum depression are all associated with elevated levels of cytokines in combination with decreased cortisol sensitivity (cortisol is both a stress hormone and a buffer against inflammation).

As discussed in an article by Dr. Kelly Brogan, depressive symptoms can be viewed as downstream manifestations of inflammation, and recent animal research suggests resveratrol may be useful here as well. Using rats, the researchers showed that a resveratrol dose equivalent to what you’d get from six glasses of red wine effectively prevented depressive behavior in rats by blocking brain inflammation.

As reported by NewHope360:17

“Susan K. Wood, Ph.D… leader of the research team, said the group’s findings are exciting because they show that resveratrol has anti-inflammatory potential in the brain, not just on levels of inflammation circulating in the body. ‘Certainly, there is a strong case being built now between clinical and preclinical work that inflammation is linked to depressive symptoms, and there is a great need for these findings to be validated in human studies,’ she said.”

Healthy Sources of Resveratrol

As mentioned earlier, drinking large quantities of red wine is not your best alternative due to the toxic effects of alcohol. If you want to boost your consumption of resveratrol, stick with natural sources like whole grape skins, raspberries, and mulberries. If you struggle with insulin resistance, consider passing on the meat of the grape as it contains a lot of extra fructose while being devoid of resveratrol.

Other whole food sources include raw cocoa and dark chocolate, but it may be difficult to get a therapeutic dose from these foods, especially since these are best eaten in moderation. Another option is to take a resveratrol supplement. In this case be sure to look for one made from a whole food complex that includes muscadine grape skin and seeds, which is where the resveratrol is concentrated.

Other Tips to Protect Your Brain Health

Resveratrol can be a powerful addition to your diet, but not without a solid nutritional foundation. The first step is making sure you’re covering the basics, detailed in my complete nutrition plan. This comprehensive guide addresses the factors underlying all chronic degenerative diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and all types of dementia — including vascular dementia. And it is available completely free of charge.

For additional guidance about how to modify your diet for brain health in general, and Alzheimer’s prevention specifically, please see my article and interview with neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter. As a quick summary, you’ll want to address the following factors:

Avoid gluten and casein(primarily wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairy fat, such as butter). Increase consumption of healthful fats, such as organic butter from raw milk, clarified butter called organic grass-fed raw butter, olives, organic virgin olive oil and coconut oil, nuts like pecans and macadamia, free-range eggs, wild Alaskan salmon, and avocado Keep your fasting insulin levels below 3(following the nutrition planwill help you do this); if your fasting insulin level is above three, consider limiting or eliminating your intake of grains and sugars until you optimize your insulin level Exercise regularly, including high-intensity interval training like thePeak Fitness Technique
Optimize your vitamin D levels with a combination of sensible sun exposure, vitamin D-rich foods and/or vitamin D3 supplementation along with vitamin K2, magnesium, and calcium Optimize your gut floraby regularly consumingfermented foods or taking a high quality probiotic supplement Optimize your Omega 3:6 ratio by taking high quality omega 3 oils such as krill oil and radically reducing if not completely eliminating industrial processed omega 6 oils Consider intermittent fasting

More on Alzheimer’s -Theoretical Evidence for Human-to-Human Transmission of Alzheimer’s

September 24, 2015

By Dr. Mercola

An estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, a severe form of dementia,1 and the most recent data2,3 suggests over half a million Americans die from Alzheimer’s each year, making it the third leading cause of death in the US, right behind heart disease and cancer.

As prevalence has increased, so have the questions about why, and the search for answers has dished up some pretty curious findings over the past several years.

It seems quite clear that Alzheimer’s disease is primarily diet-related, with insulin resistance, processed foods, trans fats, and unhealthy omega 6:3 ratios being the primary culprits.

However, recent research has also uncovered evidence suggesting that the disease may be the result of agricultural practices, and even more surprising, Alzheimer’s could potentially be transmitted via certain invasive medical procedures.

Five Routes to Alzheimer’s Disease

At present, evidence suggests there are a number of causes promoting Alzheimer’s symptoms, including the following:

    1. Type 3 diabetes: Faulty insulin signaling is an underlying cause of insulin resistance, which typically leads to type 2 diabetes. However, while insulin is usually associated with its role in keeping your blood sugar levels in a healthy range, it also plays a role in brain signaling.

Researchers have found that when insulin signaling in the brain is disrupted, it results in dementia, hence the suggestion that Alzheimer’s may be a brain-related form of diabetes.

Even mild elevation of blood sugar — a level of around 105 or 110 — is associated with an elevated risk for dementia. According to neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, if your fasting blood sugar is over 95 mg/dl, it’s time to address your diet to lower it, to protect your brain health.

    1. Gut dysfunction, caused by a combination of excess sugars and processed foods; antibiotic exposure from food and medicine; genetically engineered (GE) grains, which create foreign proteins; and pesticide exposure, just to name a few well-known culprits
    2. Trans fat consumption: Trans fat is linked to a higher risk of memory impairment. It may act as a pro-oxidant, contributing to oxidative stress that causes cellular damage.

Vegetable oils oxidize when heated, and when oxidized cholesterol and trans fat enter into your LDL particles, they become destructive, contributing to arterial plaque buildup in your brain.

    1. Imbalanced omega-3 to omega-6 ratio: Researchers have also found a link between Alzheimer’s and raised levels of an omega-6 fat called arachidonic acid.

They believe it interferes with the brain’s nerve cells, causing over-stimulation, and that lowering levels would allow the cells to function normally.

Most experts agree that the omega 6:3 ratio should range from 1:1 to 5:1. The sad reality is that it now ranges from 20 to 50:1 for most Americans.

Omega-6 fats are found in high concentrations in factory-farmed animals as they are typically fed grains, as well as vegetable oils such as corn, canola, soybean, and sunflower oils.

  1. Slow-acting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) — the human form of Mad Cow disease, contracted either through:
    1. Contaminated meat
    2. Certain medical procedures, such as using human growth hormone extracted from the pituitary glands of infected human cadavers (a procedure now banned due to this contamination risk)

The first four have been discussed at length in previous articles. Here, we’ll focus on the last route, which has disturbing implications for the conventional meat industry.

Alzheimer’s — A Foodborne Disease?

Researchers have found a compelling link between a particular kind of protein and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Lou Gehrig’s disease.

This protein, called TDP-43, behaves like toxic and infectious proteins known asprions, which are responsible for the brain destruction that occurs in Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Disease;4 two types of bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

According to a study5 published in 2011, TDP-43 pathology is detected in 25 to 50 percent of Alzheimer’s patients, and research presented at the 2014 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference revealed Alzheimer’s patients with TDP-43 were 10 times more likely to have been cognitively impaired at death than those without it.6,7

The common denominator between Mad Cow and Chronic Wasting Disease8(the latter of which affects deer and elk) is forcing natural herbivores to eat animal parts and byproducts, such as blood and bone meal.9 This is common practice in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

The evidence also suggests humans may be infected with TDP-43 via contaminated meats.

The most infectious parts of a cow carrying these prions are the brain and spinal cord, which may be found in hot dogs, bologna, and products containing either gelatin or ground meat.10

The human version of Mad Cow disease is known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), and some researchers have noted that Alzheimer’s behaves like a slow moving version of CJD.11,12,13

The Case for Alzheimer’s as a Slow-Acting Version of Mad Cow

Surprising as it may seem, the idea that neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s may be spread via CAFO foods isn’t brand new. A 2005 study14 published in the journal Medical Hypotheses, titled “Thinking the Unthinkable: Alzheimer’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, and Mad Cow Disease: The Age-Related Reemergence of Virulent, Foodborne, Bovine Tuberculosis, or Losing Your Mind for the Sake of a Shake or Burger”, states:

“In the opinion of experts, ample justification exists for considering a similar pathogenesis for Alzheimer’s, Creutzfeldt-Jakob and the other spongiform encephalopathies such as Mad Cow disease. In fact, Creutzfeldt-Jakob and Alzheimer’s often coexist and at this point are thought to differ merely by time-dependent physical changes.

A recent study links up to 13 percent of all ‘Alzheimer’s’ victims as really having Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease…Alzheimer’s, Cruetzfeldt-Jackob, and Mad Cow Disease might just be caused by eating the meat or dairy in consumer products or feed.‘” [Emphasis mine]

The study also notes that bovine tuberculosis serves as a vector for human Mad Cow Disease, and bovine tuberculosis is one of the most prevalent disease threats in American CAFOs. USDA data15 suggests anywhere from 20 to 40 percent of American dairy herds are infected at any given time.

Theoretical Evidence for Person-to-Person Transmission of Alzheimer’s

All of this brings us to the most recent development, which has gained widespread media attention.16,17,18,19,20 A study21published in the journal Nature reveals the first theoretical evidence for human-to-human transmission of prion-like proteins associated with Alzheimer’s, introduced via a medical procedure involving contaminated material.

As reported by Scientific American:22

“Between 1958 and 1985, a number of individuals with short stature received shots of human growth hormone extracted from the pituitary glands of cadavers… Some of these samples were contaminated with prions that caused certain patients to develop Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), a rare and fatal brain disorder.

Treatments ceased once these reports came to light, but by that time an estimated 30,000 people had already received the injections. As of 2012, researchers have identified 450 cases of CJD worldwide that are the result of these growth hormone injections and other medical procedures, including neurosurgery and transplants.”

To investigate the plausibility of human-to-human transmission, researchers autopsied eight of the patients who died after contracting CJD from the now-banned growth hormone treatments. All had died between the ages of 36 and 51 — too young to have developed Alzheimer’s. Yet six of them had the misfolded proteins found in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains, and four of them had amyloid deposits in their cerebral blood vessels.

Previous animal research23 has also found that when tiny amounts of amyloid-beta proteins — which are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s — are injected into mice or monkeys, they act as self-propagating “seeds,” unleashing a chain reaction of protein misfolding that results in pathology that is very reminiscent of that seen in Alzheimer’s patients.

Another recent study24 out of Germany found that seeds of amyloid-beta can persist for months in the brain, and become pathogenic under certain circumstances. As noted by Scientific American:

“All evidence pointed toward one possibility: Like prions, amyloid-beta seeds were in the growth hormone injections and infected these individuals… [H]ad the patients not died young, they would have developed the disease later in life.”

My Alzheimer’s Prevention Strategies

Because there are so few treatments for Alzheimer’s, and no available cure, prevention really is your best bet. As explained by neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, author of the book, Grain Brain, Alzheimer’s is a disease predicated primarily on lifestyle choices. Diet is part and parcel of a successful prevention plan, and my optimized nutrition plan can set you on the right path in this regard. In terms of your diet and other lifestyle factors, the following suggestions may be among the most important for Alzheimer’s prevention:

Replace processed foods with real foods The vast majority of processed foods contain genetically engineered (GE) grains, which are heavily contaminated with glyphosate — a herbicide thought to be worse than DDT, and DDT has already been linked to the development of Alzheimer’s.

Eating real food will also limit your exposure to trans fats. As a general rule, to avoid trans fats, you need to avoid any and all foods containing or cooked in partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, so be sure to check the list of ingredients.

Avoid sugar and refined fructose Alzheimer’s appears to be intricately linked to insulin resistance. Ideally, you’ll want to keep your sugar levels to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you have insulin/leptin resistance or any related disorders.
Optimize omega 6:3 ratio, ideally should be 1:1 to 5:1 Healthy fats that your brain needs for optimal function include organically-raised grass-fed meats, coconut oil, olives and olive oil, avocado, nuts, organic pastured egg yolks, and butter made from raw grass-fed milk.

High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA are also helpful for preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder.

It is imperative to also reduce industrial omega 6 oils, like soy, corn, sunflower, and safflower oils.

Avoid gluten and casein (primarily wheat and pasteurized dairy, but not dairy fat, such as butter) Research shows that your blood-brain barrier is negatively affected by gluten. Gluten also makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream, where they don’t belong.

That then sensitizes your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s.

Opt for organic, grass-fed, and finished meat The vast majority of all store bought meats, and meats served in restaurants, come from CAFOs unless otherwise labeled as organic or grass-fed.
Optimize your gut flora Regularly eat fermented foods or take a high potency and high quality probiotic supplement.
Reduce your overall calorie consumption, and/or intermittently fast Ketones are mobilized when you replace carbs with coconut oil and other sources of healthy fats. Intermittent fasting is a powerful tool to jumpstart your body into remembering how to burn fat and repair the inulin/leptin resistance that is also a primary contributing factor for Alzheimer’s.
Improve your magnesium levels Preliminary research strongly suggests a decrease in Alzheimer symptoms with increased levels of magnesiumin the brain.

Unfortunately most magnesium supplements do not pass the blood brain levels, but a new one, magnesium threonate, appears to and holds some promise for the future for treating this condition and may be superior to other forms.

Get plenty of folate Vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day. Avoid supplements like folic acid, which is the inferior synthetic version of folate.
Exercise regularly It’s been suggested that exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized, thus, slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Exercise also increases levels of the protein PGC-1alpha.

Research has shown that people with Alzheimer’s have less PGC-1alpha in their brains and cells that contain more of the protein produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s.

I would strongly recommend reviewing the Peak Fitness Technique for my specific recommendations.

Optimize your vitamin D levels Sufficient vitamin D is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation that is also associated with Alzheimer’s.
Avoid and eliminate mercury from your body Dental amalgam fillings, which are 50 percent mercury by weight, are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity, however you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.
Avoid and eliminate aluminum from your body Sources of aluminum include antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, vaccine adjuvants, etc. For tips on how to detox aluminum, please see my article, “First Case Study to Show Direct Link between Alzheimer’s and Aluminum Toxicity.”
Avoid flu vaccinations Most contain both mercury and aluminum, well-known neurotoxic and immunotoxic agents.
Avoid anticholinergics and statin drugs Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia.

These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers.

Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10 and neurotransmitter precursors, and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein.

Challenge your mind daily Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s.

Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

[+] Sources and References

Can Fish Oil Help Combat Schizophrenia?

September 03, 2015

By Dr. Mercola

Omega-3 fats found in fish oil, krill oil, and oily fish like sardines and anchovies play an integral role in brain health. Sixty percent of your brain is made up of fat.

The omega-3 fat DHA alone makes up about 15 percent to 34 percent of your brain’s cerebral cortex, depending on your age (the older you are, the more DHA). It’s found in relatively high levels in your neurons – the cells of your central nervous system – where it provides structural support.

Because your brain is literally built from omega-3 fats, it makes sense that it would play an integral role in brain function. But in addition, omega-3s also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and these are thought to be responsible for some of their therapeutic effects on mental health.

In 1999, Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Andrew Stoll published a study showing that omega-3 fats improved the course of illness in people with bipolar disorder.1

In 2001, he published the book The Omega-3 Connection, which was among the first works to bring attention to and support the use of omega-3 fats for depression.

Then, in 2010, researchers from the Orygen Youth Health Research Center in Australia found that supplementing with animal-based omega-3s for 12 weeks reduced the risk of psychosis development in those at high risk for over one year.

The beneficial effects remained even after the supplements were no longer being taken – a benefit that has not been seen with antipsychotic medications.2

Last month, a follow-up to the 2010 research was published, and it showed even more promising results for the role of these beneficial fats in mental health.

Omega-3s May Protect Against Psychosis

The new research, published in the journal Nature Communications, revealed that omega-3s may delay progression to psychosis among patients at high risk for much longer – a period of at least seven years.3

Among the patients taking omega-3s for 12 weeks, only 10 percent transitioned to psychosis during the study period. The rate of transition among the non-omega-3 group was 40 percent.

Further, those in the placebo group had a more rapid progression time to psychosis compared to those in the omega-3 group. Those taking omega-3s also had significantly improved overall symptoms and psychosocial functioning. According to the study:4

“Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are essential for neural development and function.

As key components of brain tissue, omega-3 PUFAs play critical roles in brain development and function, and a lack of these fatty acids has been implicated in a number of mental health conditions over the lifespan, including schizophrenia.

We have previously shown that a 12-week intervention with omega-3 PUFAs reduced the risk of progression to psychotic disorder in young people with subthreshold psychotic states for a 12-month period compared with placebo.

We have now completed a longer-term follow-up of this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, at a median of 6.7 years. Here we show that brief intervention with omega-3 PUFAs reduced both the risk of progression to psychotic disorder and psychiatric morbidity in general in this study.

The majority of the individuals from the omega-3 group did not show severe functional impairment and no longer experienced attenuated psychotic symptoms at follow-up.”

Why Omega-3s Are a Welcome Alternative to Antipsychotic Drugs

Antipsychotic medications are among the most powerful and side effect prone drugs in medicine, which is why finding a natural alternative is all the more important.

The side effects caused by these drugs include, ironically, psychotic symptoms(like hearing voices or paranoia), aggressive behavior, hostility, seizures, heart attack, delayed puberty, and more. Oftentimes the side effects are far worse than the symptoms for which they’re prescribed, and rival illegal street drugs in terms of their dangerous risks to health.

In children, the long-term effects are often largely unknown, while in the short term, we’ve seen shocking increases in violent and aggressive acts committed by teens taking one or more antipsychotic drugs.

While it’s known that early intervention may help those at risk of developing psychosis, starting on a course of antipsychotic drugs if you’re still healthy poses serious risks.

This is not so for omega-3 fats, which are so good for you that I recommend virtually everyone increase their intake, even if you don’t have mental health challenges.

However, among people with schizophrenia, supplementation with omega-3 fats appears to be particularly important. According to Current Psychiatry:5

“Essential fatty acid deficiency and resulting lipid membrane abnormalities have been hypothesized to play a role in schizophrenia onset. Moreover, epidemiologic data suggest an association between high fish consumption and positive outcomes in patients with schizophrenia.”

Multiple clinical trials have been conducted that show supplementing with omega-3s among people with schizophrenia leads to significant improvement in symptoms and quality of life – and the improvements remained even after the supplements were discontinued.

Even among patients already taking antipsychotic drugs, adding an omega-3 supplement led to greater improvements.6

How Fish Oil Helps Your Brain

As mentioned, the omega-3 DHA molecule has unique structural properties that provide optimal conditions for a wide range of cell membrane functions, and grey matter in your brain is a particularly membrane-rich tissue.

One study revealed that people who consumed baked (or broiled) fish at least once a week had more gray matter in their brain. Specifically, compared to those who didn’t consume fish on a regular basis, regular fish eaters had 14 percent greater gray-matter volume in the area responsible for cognition and more than 4 percent greater volume in the area responsible for memory.7

In fact, the introduction of high-quality, easily digested nutrients from seafood into the human diet coincided with the rapid expansion of grey matter in the cerebral cortex – a defining characteristic of the modern human brain.

Research is showing that degenerative conditions can not only be prevented but also potentially reversed with omega-3 fats. For example, in one study 485 elderly volunteers suffering from memory deficits saw significant improvement after taking 900 milligrams (mg) of DHA per day for 24 weeks, compared with controls.8

Another study found significant improvement in verbal fluency scores after taking 800 mg of DHA per day for four months compared with placebo.9Furthermore, memory and rate of learning were significantly improved when DHA was combined with 12 mg of lutein per day.

Interestingly, research suggests that the unsaturated fatty acid composition of normal brain tissue is age-specific, which could imply that the older you get, the greater your need for animal-based omega-3 fat to prevent mental decline and brain degeneration.

A study in the journal Neurology reported that “older women with the highest levels of omega-3 fats, found in fish oil, had better preservation of their brain as they aged than those with the lowest levels, which might mean they would maintain better brain function for an extra year or two.”10,11

Still, omega-3s are also incredibly important for brain health during development — in utero and during childhood and adolescence. One study of 8- to 10-year-old boys looked at how DHA supplementation might affect functional cortical activity, and the results were quite impressive.

The data indicated there were significant increases in the activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex part of the brain in the groups receiving supplemental DHA. This is an area of your brain that is associated with working memory. They also noticed changes in other parts of the brain, including the occipital cortex (the visual processing center) and the cerebellar cortex (which plays a role in motor control).12

What Are the Best Sources of Omega-3 Fats?

Making sure you’re getting enough omega-3 in your diet, either from wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, and anchovies or a high-quality omega-3 supplement like krill oil, is absolutely crucial for your optimal health, including your mental health.

While a helpful form of omega-3 can be found in flaxseed, chia, hemp, and a few other foods, the most beneficial form of omega-3 – containing two fatty acids, DHA and EPA, which are essential to fighting and preventing both physical and mental disease – can only be found in fish and krill. Because, nearly all fish, from most all sources, are severely contaminated with environmental pollutants like toxic mercury, you have to be very careful about the types of seafood you consume when trying to increase your omega-3 fats. A general guideline is that the closer to the bottom of the food chain the fish is, the less contamination it will have accumulated.

Sardines, in particular, are one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 fats, with one serving containing more than 50 percent of your recommended daily value.13 Other good options include anchovies, herring, and wild-caught Alaskan salmon. You’re probably aware that if you don’t eat a lot of fish, you can supplement your diet with omega-3 fats by taking fish oil. Less widely known is that you can also get your omega-3s from krill oil, and it may, in fact, be preferable to do so.

Why might you be better off with krill? The omega-3 in krill is attached to phospholipids that increase its absorption, which means you need less of it, and it won’t cause belching or burping like many other fish oil products. Additionally, it contains almost 50 times more astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant, than fish oil. This prevents the highly perishable omega-3 fats from oxidizing before you are able to integrate them into your cellular tissue.

In laboratory tests, krill oil remained undamaged after being exposed to a steady flow of oxygen for 190 hours. Compare that to fish oil, which went rancid after just one hour. That makes krill oil nearly 200 times more resistant to oxidative damage compared to fish oil! When purchasing krill oil, you’ll want to read the label and check the amount of astaxanthin it contains. The more the better, but anything above 0.2 mg per gram of krill oil will protect it from rancidity. To learn more about the benefits of krill oil versus fish oil, please see my interview with Dr. Rudi Moerck, a drug industry insider and an expert on omega-3 fats.

5 Tips to Support Your Mental Health

My heart goes out to you if you or someone you love is struggling with mental illness. The solutions offered below will often help you to overcome your battle in the long run, but in no way are they meant to minimize the complicated puzzle of mental illness, or the extreme toll it can take on family units and in some cases extended circles of friends.

Whether you’re facing schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, or another mental condition, these strategies have nothing but positive effects and are generally very inexpensive to implement. Plus, they can be used for both children and adults alike, and work great when implemented with your entire family involved.

    1. Exercise – If you suffer from depression, or even if you just feel down from time to time, exercise is a MUST. The research is overwhelmingly positive in this area, with studies confirming that physical exercise is at least as good as antidepressants for helping people who are depressed. One of the primary ways it does this is by increasing the level of endorphins, the “feel good” hormones, in your brain.
    2. Address your stress – Stress can worsen symptoms of mental illness as well as trigger relapses. Meditation or yoga can help. Sometimes all you need to do is get outside for a walk. But in addition to that, I also recommend using a solid support system composed of friends, family, and, if necessary, professional counselors, who can help you work through your emotional stress. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is also often effective.
    3. Eat a healthy diet – Foods have an immense impact on your mood and ability to cope and be happy, and eating whole foods as described in my nutrition plan will best support your mental health. Avoiding fructose, sugar, and grains will help normalize your insulin and leptin levels, which is another powerful tool in addressing positive mental health. In addition, scientific evidence increasingly shows that nourishing your gut flora with the beneficial bacteria found in traditionally fermented foods (or a probiotic supplement) is extremely important for proper brain function, and that includes psychological well-being and mood control.

Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride has successfully demonstrated the power and effectiveness of this theory. In her England clinic, she successfully treats children and adults with a wide range of conditions, including autism, ADD/ADHD, neurological disorders, psychiatric disorders, immune disorders, and digestive problems using the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) Nutritional Program, which she developed.

  1. Support optimal brain functioning with essential fats – I also strongly recommend supplementing your diet with a high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fat, like krill oil, or eating sardines, anchovies, or wild-caught Alaskan salmon regularly to ensure you have an adequate intake of omega-3 fats.
  2. Get plenty of sunshine – Making sure you’re getting enough sunlight exposure to have healthy vitamin D levels is also a crucial factor in treating depression or keeping it at bay. Vitamin D deficiency is actually more the norm than the exception, and has previously been implicated in numerous psychiatric and neurological disorders.

The Public Health Ramifications of GMOs and Herbicides

September 01, 2015

By Dr. Mercola

On August 20, 2015, Philip J. Landrigan, M.D., and Charles Benbrook, Ph.D. published a paper1,2 in the one of the most prestigious medical journals, theNew England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on the topic of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), herbicides, and public health, noting that:

“… [T]he application of biotechnology to agriculture has been rapid and aggressive. The vast majority of the corn and soybeans grown in the United States are now genetically engineered.

Foods produced from GM crops have become ubiquitous…Two recent developments are dramatically changing the GMO landscape.

First, there have been sharp increases in the amounts and numbers of chemical herbicides applied to GM crops, and still further increases — the largest in a generation — are scheduled to occur in the next few years.

Second, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified glyphosate, the herbicide most widely used on GM crops, as a ‘probable human carcinogen’ and classified a second herbicide, 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), as a ‘possible human carcinogen.’”

The ‘Answer’ to Herbicide Resistance Is Bound to Make Food Increasingly Toxic

The authors recount how genetically engineered (GE) herbicide-resistant crops have led to a dramatic increase in herbicide application due to mounting resistance among weeds.

They then go on to argue that the science and risk assessment of the next-generation of GE crops — touted as the “answer” to growing resistance — is seriously flawed.

These next-gen crops are designed to be resistant to combinations of herbicides. Enlist Duo, which was recently green lighted, is resistant to both glyphosate and 2,4-D; the latter of which was a major ingredient in Agent Orange, used with devastating effect during the Vietnam War.

As a result of this approval, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expects use of 2,4-D to increase anywhere from three to seven times in coming years.

Benbrook and Landrigan note that the science supporting Enlist Duo consists solely of unpublished toxicology studies done by the herbicide manufacturer in the 1980s and ‘90s.

These studies predate more recent scientific discoveries of how chemicals create adverse health effects even at very low doses, including endocrine and epigenetic effects.

They also criticize the risk assessment of Enlist Duo, saying it “gave little consideration to potential health effects in infants and children, thus contravening federal pesticide law.”

The risk assessment also did not adequately account for ecological impact on pollinators, including the monarch butterfly, which is being decimated by massive glyphosate applications on vast fields of GE crops.

Last but not least, the assessment only considered glyphosate in isolation, despite studies showing that glyphosate in combination with surfactants and other chemicals tend to synergistically increase their toxic potential.

Evidence Against Glyphosate Keeps Mounting

Research3 published in 2007 found that aerial spraying of glyphosate in combination with a surfactant solution resulted in DNA damage in those exposed.

Another study4 published this year found that glyphosate in combination with aluminum synergistically induced pineal gland pathology, which in turn was linked to gut dysbiosis and neurological disease.

The study abstract offers a condensed layman’s summary of the many mechanisms of harm and their synergistic effects, which can be difficult to understand without some explanation:

“Many neurological diseases, including autism, depression, dementia, anxiety disorder, and Parkinson’s disease, are associated with abnormal sleep patterns, which are directly linked to pineal gland dysfunction.

The pineal gland is highly susceptible to environmental toxicants. Two pervasive substances in modern industrialized nations are aluminum and glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup ®. In this paper, we show how these two toxicants work synergistically to induce neurological damage.

Glyphosate disrupts gut bacteria, leading to an overgrowth of Clostridium difficile. Its toxic product, p-cresol, is linked to autism in both human and mouse models. p-Cresol enhances uptake of aluminum via transferrin.

Anemia, a result of both aluminum disruption of heme and impaired heme synthesis by glyphosate, leads to hypoxia, which induces increased pineal gland transferrin synthesis.

Premature birth is associated with hypoxic stress and with substantial increased risk to the subsequent development of autism, linking hypoxia to autism.

Glyphosate chelates aluminum, allowing ingested aluminum to bypass the gut barrier. This leads to anemia-induced hypoxia, promoting neurotoxicity and damaging the pineal gland.

Both glyphosate and aluminum disrupt cytochrome P450 enzymes, which are involved in melatonin metabolism. Furthermore, melatonin is derived from tryptophan, whose synthesis in plants and microbes is blocked by glyphosate.

We also demonstrate a plausible role for vitamin D3 dysbiosis in impaired gut function and impaired serotonin synthesis. This paper proposes that impaired sulfate supply to the brain mediates the damage induced by the synergistic action of aluminum and glyphosate on the pineal gland and related midbrain nuclei.”

A Bonanza of Research Material for the Studious

For a more thorough review of the published studies5 questioning the safety of glyphosate in terms of its effects on human and animal health, please see thiscompilation by Dr. Alex Vasquez. It contains 220 pages’ worth of research — more than enough to satisfy most critical thinkers.

Another illuminating and heavily referenced 80-page report6 you can read through at your leisure is “Banishing Glyphosate,” authored by Drs. Eva Sirinathsinghji and Mae-Wan Ho, with cooperation from six other researchers, including Dr. Don Huber and Dr. Nancy Swanson.

Dr. Huber has also written a 42-page report7 titled “Ag Chemicals and Crop Nutrient Interactions.” In it he explains how extensive use of glyphosate and the adoption of glyphosate-tolerant GE crops have resulted in essential micro- and macronutrient deficiencies in plants, and the increased need for micronutrient remediation in the soil.

A study8 published earlier this year shows that glyphosate-based herbicides adversely affect the activity and reproduction of earthworms, which are important players in healthy soils. Herbicide application also increased nitrate concentrations in the soil by 1,592 percent, and phosphate concentrations by 127 percent, thereby adding to the risk of nutrient leaching into and polluting nearby water sources and groundwater aquifers. Research9 from 2003 also found that growing Bt corn had an adverse effect on the microbial activity in the soil by significantly increasing the saturated to unsaturated lipid ratios in the soil.

It’s Time to Take a Precautionary Approach to Biotechnology

Landrigan and Benbrook offer two recommendations in their paper. First, they suggest the EPA delay permission to use Enlist Duo, as this decision was not only based on outdated never-published research and an incomplete risk assessment, these studies also predate the IARC’s reclassifications of both glyphosate and 2,4-D as probable and possible carcinogens respectively. Secondly, they urge revisiting “the United States’ reluctance to label GM foods,” noting that labeling is essential for:

  • Tracking emergence of novel food allergies
  • Assessing effects of herbicides applied to GE crops
  • Respecting the wishes of consumers who want to know how their food was produced

Considering the fact that a) glyphosate has been shown to accumulate in GE crops,10 b) chronically ill people have been found to have significantly higher levels of glyphosate in their urine than healthy populations,11 and c) the US government does not test food for glyphosate, labeling GE foods is also one of the only ways to alert consumers of the potential presence of elevated levels of toxic herbicides in their food. Besides increased glyphosate accumulation, GE crops have also been shown to have a less healthy nutritional profile compared to non-GE varieties.12

In conclusion, Landrigan and Benbrook write:

“… GM foods and the herbicides applied to them may pose hazards to human health that were not examined in previous assessments. We believe that the time has therefore come to thoroughly reconsider all aspects of the safety of plant biotechnology…

[T]he argument that there is nothing new about genetic rearrangement misses the point that GM crops are now the agricultural products most heavily treated with herbicides and that two of these herbicides may pose risks of cancer. We hope, in light of this new information, that the FDA will reconsider labeling of GM foods and couple it with adequately funded, long-term postmarketing surveillance.”

Industry Blowback Was Swift, and Expected…

Dr. Benbrook is well-known for his critical stance against GMOs, so it came as no surprise that his name on this article led to instantaneous blowback from the industry. The paper was barely out of embargo before Science 2.0 published a made-to-order character assassination piece13 penned by Hank Campbell, saying:

Dr. Chuck Benbrook is an adjunct at Washington State University but he calls himself a research professor. Why so many organic food proponents believe a guy about something as complex as genetic modification when he can’t even get his own title correct is a mystery we can’t solve today but his credibility sure won’t be bolstered up by an op-ed he just published in the New England Journal of Medicine.”

Hank Campbell is the founder of Science 2.0, and the newly elected president of the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH), the stated purpose of which is to “provide an evidence-based counterpoint to the wave of anti-science claims.” ACSH has been paid through one of Monsanto’s PR groups to engage in the battle to save GMOs, and that undoubtedly includes attacking anyone raising questions about GMOs or promoting caution — and labeling.

I predict Campbell’s vitriolic attack was just the first salvo in what may turn into a more coordinated effort to get Benbrook and Landrigan’s article retracted and removed from the New England Journal of Medicine. The same strategy they used to discredit Dr. Seralini’s GMO rat study. Jon Entine and the Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) are also funded by Monsanto PR firms, and they recently started the Genetic Expert News Service14 to moderate the conversation on GMOs.

All of these scientific looking sites link back to each other’s articles and engage in coordinated sharing through skeptic networks, weaving one big dirty web of misdirection and obfuscation. For example, Campbell criticizes Benbrook’s article as being short on scientific evidence. Meanwhile, his own article offers no scientific support to rebut any of Landrigan and Benbrook’s claims. It reads more like a blog note of a sullen teenager than a professional tasked with upholding scientific integrity.

Food Industry Is Spending Tens of Millions Lobbying for Less Transparency

A question worth asking is why is the food industry pouring tens of millions of dollars into lobbying against transparency? Could it be because they have something to hide? According to Civil Eats,15 food and beverage companies have spent $51.6 million on a series of efforts to defeat GMO labeling laws alone, including lobbing for HR 1599, which would bar states from implementing their own GMO labeling laws.

An analysis16 by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) shows nearly a quarter of these funds came from Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Land O’Lakes, and PepsiCo. But we’re not only faced with Rep. Mike Pompeo’s bill HR 1599, “The Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” more commonly referred to as the “Deny Americans the Right to Know” or DARK Act, which was recently passed by the US House of Representatives. Other bills seek to:

    • Remove country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements for beef, chicken, and pork (HR 239317). Supporters of this bill have spent $54.2 million on lobbying efforts.
    • Eliminate the need for permits to discharge pesticides into rivers, lakes, streams, and other bodies of water regulated under the Clean Water Act (S150018). As noted by Civil Eats: “Because the bill was just introduced in June, a good accounting of lobbying on its behalf is not yet available… But when virtually the same bill was introduced in 2013… agribusinesses and agricultural organizations and trade associations…  spent more than $11 million lobbying for the bill during 2013 and 2014.”

Coincidentally (or not), a recent study by the US Geological Survey found neonicotinoid insecticides in over half of all streams sampled in both urban and agricultural areas in 24 states and Puerto Rico.19,20

Neonicotinoids are used primarily on corn and soybeans, both as aerial spray and as prophylactic seed treatment. So now, as widespread pollution of waterways with these agricultural toxins is becoming more apparent, related industries are pouring millions into laws that will make it easier for them to hide all this damage rather than rally around sustainable, non-toxic, and regenerative solutions.

International trade agreements also threaten to restrict transparency about food — how it’s produced, and where it comes from. In addition to hampering GMO labeling efforts in the US, provisions in both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would also effectively force participating nations to eliminate country of origin from their food labels or run the risk of being sued for harming trade.

Glyphosate Promotes Human and Animal Disease

In a recently published study21 titled “The High Cost of Pesticides: Human and Animal Diseases,” Judy Hoy, an expert on Montana wildlife, along with Dr. Nancy Swanson and Dr. Stephanie Seneff poured through data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) database, looking for correspondences between animal and human disease, and correlations with pesticide usage.

Several of the plotted charts show animal and human diseases rising in step with glyphosate usage on corn and soy crops.

This includes conditions such as failure to thrive, congenital heart defects, enlarged right ventricle, liver cancer, and in newborns: lung problems, metabolic disorders, and genitourinary disorders. Overwhelmingly, the evidence points to the fact that our food supply is rapidly deteriorating in quality. Excessive pesticide and herbicide use is also decimating soil- and water quality.

The writing is on the wall, and the situation is grim indeed — and made even grimmer by the fact that the food and chemical technology industries are fighting tooth and nail to hide what’s happening, and worse, prevent even the most astute people from making informed choices. But that doesn’t mean we acquiesce to the seemingly inevitable and simply “roll over and die.” No! Now is not the time become paralyzed in the face of immense obstacles. Now is the time to stand up and fight for what you believe is right; fight for the world you want for your children.