Best Sulforaphane Supplements for Nrf2 Activation – Containing Glucoraphanin + Myrosinase

For a while now, Sulforaphane has been a hot topic within the scientific community. Its received particular attention from Rhonda Patrick and Tim Ferriss. Whilst it can consumed via broccoli sprouts, these aren’t always easy or convenient to consume. The below post discusses the best supplement options.

Jed Fahey, one of the leading researchers in the field, warns us to be careful of which supplement we use. Saying their lab, which has analyzed dozens of supplements over the years, has found that many are terrible, and don’t contain what they say they do.

To complicate matters, there are 3 main ways to consume sulforaphane:

  1. Pure Sulforaphane – Average bioavailability of 70%*
  2. Glucoraphanin + Myrosinase – Average bioavailability of 35%*
  3. Glucoraphanin – Average bioavailability of 10%*

* Bioavailability numbers come from Jed Fahey’s research at Johns Hopkins. See source #3 below for more info.

Below are a list of the best sulforaphane supplements. All are currently used by Jed Fahey’s team at Johns Hopkins University in their clinical studies:

1. Prostaphane

Consuming active sulforaphane itself has the greatest potential affect (measured using a term called bioavailability). Currently, there is only one free-form stabilized sulphoraphane product on the market. Its name is Prostaphane, and is manufactured in France by a company called Nutrinov.

You may see products advertising that they contain Sulforaphane (specifically Sulforaphane Glucosinolate), however, it should be noted that this is misleading. Whilst it is technically accurate to say that they contain the glucosinolate form of sulforaphane, actually they contain glucoraphanin. It then needs to be converted into sulforaphane via myrosinase.

 

2. Avmacol

The next best alternative to active sulforaphane is consuming the precursor glucoraphanin alongside the activation enzyme myrosinase.

Avmacol is a high end supplement made by Nutramax Laboratories. It is glucoraphanin extracted from Broccoli seeds, plus the active myrosinase enzyme.

Each Avmacol pack contains 60 tablets, which at 2 tablets per day, is a 1 months supply.

 

3. Crucera-SGS

Crucera-SGS is a supplement from Thorne Research containing concentrated glucoraphanin.

Crucera-SGS comes in 60 tablet packs, doses at 1 tablet per day, so 2 months supply.

As briefly mentioned above, although the supplement ingredients read “Sulforaphane Glucosinolate”, this isn’t to be confused with active sulforaphane (found in prostaphane). Sulforaphane Glucosinolate is actually Glucoraphanin, before it has been transformed by the enzyme myrosinase, into sulforaphane.

To recap:

  • All 3 supplements mentioned above are currently used in clinical trials by Johns Hopkins University. This means that they’ve been tested and confirmed to contain what they say.
  • The most bioavailable sulforaphane supplement you can buy is called prostaphane, but so far, is only distributed in France.
  • Next most bioavailable (and accessible in the USA) is Avmacol, because it bundles the enzyme myrosinase alongside its glucoraphanin.

Growing & Consuming Fresh Broccoli Sprouts

If you’ve read through the above, you’ll realize there doesn’t exist an optimal supplement. Even if prostaphane were available in the USA, its cost would likely be high.

Whilst supplements are great for busy lifestyles, whilst you’re on the go. If you’ll be staying in one place for a while, a good alternative is to grow broccoli sprouts yourself.

It’s really simple to grow broccoli sprouts, you just need a seed sprouter (Rhonda uses Ball jars + sprouter lids, but any jar + mesh will do), and some organic broccoli sprout seeds. This video gives a good overview on how to produce your own.

The dosage used in clinical trials often ranges from 30-60mg of sulforaphane. Estimates land fresh broccoli sprouts at a concentration of about 1 gram fresh weight to around 0.45mg of sulforaphane. So to achieve 30-60mg, you’d need to consume between 67-134g of sprouts.

Rhonda says (on her latest Tim Ferriss podcast) she consumes up to 4 ounces (113g) of broccoli sprouts a few times per week. Broccoli seeds yield approximately 5:1. So this means if you start off with 1 ounce of broccoli seeds, you’d end up with approximately 5 ounces of sprouts.

To achieve Rhonda’s 8 ounces consumption per week, you need to grow approximately 1 and a 1/2 ounces (43g) of seeds each week. To put a price to that, Todd’s seeds (for example) are $24 per pound (1lb = 16 ounces). So you’re looking at a cost of $2.25 of seeds per week. That’s not very expensive, given the potential long term health benefits.

Granted, if you’re consuming 4 ounces of broccoli sprouts in one sitting, its a lot. You’ll probably want to emulate Rhonda, and blend them in with a smoothie. Her blender of choice (like Joe Rogan) is the Blendtec Classic. But any decent blender will do.

Its worth also taking a look at Rhonda’s video on tripling the bioavailability of sulforaphane your sprouts. Essentially you heat your broccoli sprouts to 70C, hot enough that it disables the epithiospecifier protein, but not too hot that it disables the myrocinase enzyme (responsible for converting the glucoraphanin into sulforaphane). We do this because glucoraphanin can be converted into two forms of sulforaphane (regular sulforaphane, the stuff we want, and sulforaphane nitrile, which does not contain the anti-carcinogenic properties we want). By knocking out the epithiospecifier protein, which is needed for converting glucoraphanin to sulforaphane nitrile, we increase potential conversion to regular sulforaphane (yay!).

She uses a Famili temperature monitor to ensure she gets the water at 70C.

Rhonda’s broccoli sprouting setup. Complete with Ball jars, sprouting lids, regular teapot, famili temperature monitor and blendtec blender.

Sources

  1. Chemoprotection Center At Johns Hopkins University FAQ
  2. Jed Fahey Interview on Rhonda Patrick’s Podcast
  3. Further publications from Johns Hopkins University research

P.S. Check out this post on supplements that Rhonda Patrick takes – these can make good additions to sulforaphane.

Essential Micronutrients – How we can lead longer, healthier lives by avoiding micronutrient deficiencies

What if we are consistently attributing poor health to the wrong things? Focusing too much on fats and carbohydrates, all the while, important cellular processes in our body are hampered by micronutrient deficiency.

For someone who’s interested in nutrition, I’ve spent a heck of a lot of time obsessing over protein, carbohydrate and fat. And very little time understanding micronutrients.

I don’t seem to be alone in this matter. Popular diets such as Atkins, Weightwatchers & ketogenic diet ALL focus on things other than micronutrients.

So this post is to highlight an issue I didn’t know we had. Which is, by not taking micronutrients ‘seriously’ – we are shortening our potential life span and introducing the risk of illness far earlier into our lives.

The general rhetoric when it comes to micronutrients are:

  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Eat your vegetables
  • Eat a diet with lots of color (e.g. colourful vegetables vs chicken nuggets and fries type food)

Which is good advice, and should work.

But in practice, we have widespread micronutrient deficiency across the globe. It’s particularly concentrated in under developed countries, but is also found in developed countries like the US5, in particular in the poor, young children, the obese and the elderly.

But first… what are micronutrients?

Micronutrients come under 2 categories; essential and non-essential.

Essential micronutrients are elements or compounds that our bodies can’t construct from other ingredients (our body is generally very good at synthesising the things it needs). They are used for processes such as energy production, cell repair and enzyme activation (to name just a few). And naturally, without them, we have a problem (!)

Below I’ll focus on the 40 micronutrients essential to humans. Beyond this list, there are more micronutrients, although they are not considered essential humans. That doesn’t however mean they don’t have uses within the body.

Micro vs Macro Nutrients

Macronutrients are widely talked about. They consist of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Essentially they are the energy and building blocks for our bodies’ metabolism.

But we can’t run our bodies on macronutrients alone. There’s a range of 40 micronutrients that are essential. They can be categorized into vitamins, minerals, omega-3s and amino acids. Their roles are crucial to perform all kinds of biological functions in our bodies.

Micronutrients come bundled up with the foods we eat. By eating a varied diet, incorporating vegetables, nuts and animal products, we can generally get enough of these micronutrients to live healthily.

But one curious thing about micronutrients, is that we can continue functioning relatively well, even if we’re very low on them.

And that is part of why they get often overlooked. Lets take the comparison of vitamins to coffee.

If a regular person (not a coffee junkie), drinks a coffee, they quickly feel the affects of the caffeine from the coffee in their body.

Compare that to a regular person taking a vitamin pill, packed with micronutrients, they are unlikely to feel anything at all.

Similarly, if you’re deficient of a particular micronutrient for a period of time, you’re also unlikely to feel anything different.

It takes a long time to feel the effects of micronutrient deficiency. But this doesn’t mean the shortage isn’t doing damage. It turns out it is.

What happens if we don’t get enough micronutrients?

We’re generally all familiar with examples of extreme micronutrient deficiency. For example, the story of early sailors who needed to pack limes onto their boats in order to avoid getting scurvy. They only realized the necessity of vitamin C when attempting to subsist for long periods of time on basic foods like potatoes, and then would get sick. Back then they hadn’t isolated the benefits of limes to vitamin C, they just knew limes prevented them getting sick.

Fortunately these days, extreme micronutrient deficiency is rare. But what is happening is long term micronutrient deficiency.

This can have varying effects.

At an extreme, for example, being deficient in folate (a micronutrient found in green vegetables), can lead to DNA damage comparable to that of high dose radiation. This was figured out through experimentation in cell cultures1.

And then more subtilely, we have what Bruce Ames named ‘Triage Theory’. And its a much bigger deal than it’s being credited for (see his paper and YouTube talk for more details).

Similar to how hospitals have to triage patient injuries, treating the most life threatening ones first, in order to ensure maximum patient survival. Our body triages how it uses micronutrients, prioritizing the most important functions, to ensure its short term goals of survival and reproduction.

This means that processes useful for living longer take a back seat.

Why do we care about Triage Theory?

Generally speaking, we all want to live as long and as healthy a life as possible.

If we accept what Triage theory posits, then we can help live longer and healthier by avoiding micronutrient deficiencies. Thus giving our bodies the optimum chance to prosper.

What ARE the 40 Essential Micronutrients?

In this section I’m going to do the amazing, but perhaps mind numbingly dense thing of presenting tables of the different micronutrients. If you’ve time and energy, this can be used to compare your diet and vitamin supplements against the list (!). Or perhaps bookmark it and later refer back.

Without identifying the essential micronutrients, we have little hope of remedying their deficiency.

One thing that’s worth noting, is that for many of the micronutrients, there are different sources available. So for example with Vitamin A, its direct form is retinol, but when we consume plants containing carotenoids (the most well known carotenoid being beta-carotene) our body can later convert them into retinol. This idea personally confused me. I was previously of the mindset that each vitamin was a single compound, and you need to consume that compound to meet your needs. Another term for compounds that can be converted into vitamins, is provitamins.

Which leads us to our next point of potential confusion, bio-availability. Its possible to have different forms of the same thing, and find that one is more optimal than another. For example, with magnesium, there are a large number of different forms, including magnesium oxide and magnesium citrate. Magnesium oxide has poor absorption, whereas magnesium citrate has better absorption2.

So, onto our micronutrient lists. I’ve broken this up into somewhat arbitrary delineations such as water soluble and fat soluble vitamins. There are 13 vitamins, 25 minerals, 2 omega-3’s, 9 amino acids and choline, all of which are essential.

Vitamins

Water Soluble Vitamins

Count Vitamin Good Food Sources RDA* or AI†
1. Thiamin (vitamin B1) Yeast, pork, sunflower seeds, legumes 1.1mg*
2. Riboflavin (vitamin B2) Beef liver, meats, eggs, yogurt, ricotta cheese, nonfat milk 1.1mg*
3. Niacin (vitamin B3) (nicotinic acid, nicotinamide) Tuna, beef liver, veal, chicken, beef, halibut, peanut butter 14mg*
4. Pantothenic Acid Widespread in foods 5 mg†
5. Biotin Synthesisedby microflora of digestive tract; liver, soybeans, eggs  30 μg†
6. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine, pyridoxal, pyridoxamine) Steak, navy beans, potato, salmon, banana, whole grains 1.3 mg*
7. Folate Brewer’s yeast, spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, lima beans, beef liver, fortified grain products 400 μg*
8. Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) Meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, milk 2.4 μg*
9. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) Papaya, limes, oranges cantaloupe, broccoli, brussels sprouts, green peppers, grapefruit juice, strawberries 75 mg*

Fat Soluble Vitamins

10. Vitamin A (retinol, retinal, retinoic acid)
Provitamins: Carotenoids, particularly β-carotene
Beef liver, dairy products, sweet potato, carrots, spinach, butternut squash, greens, broccoli, cantaloupe 900 μg RAEa
700 μg RAEb
11. Vitamin D
Provitamins: 7-dehydrocholesterol (ergocalciferol) Vitamin d3 (cholecalciferol)
Synthesised in skin exposed to ultraviolet light; fortified milk 15–20 μgc,d 
12. Vitamin E
Tocopherols
Tocotrienols
Vegetable seed oils  15 mg α-tocopherolc
13. Vitamin K
Phylloquinones
Menaquinones
Synthesised by intestinal bacteria; green leafy vegetables, soy beans, beef liver 120 μga,e
90 μgb,e

aAdult males
bAdult females
cBoth males and females
dVaries with age for adults
eadequate intake

Minerals

Electrolyte Balancing
Count Mineral Approximate Body Content Good Food Sources AI
14. Sodium 105g Table salt, meat, seafood, cheese, milk, bread, vegetables (abundant in most foods except fruits) 1,500 mg
19–50 years
15. Potassium 245g

Avocados, bananas, dried fruits, oranges, peaches, potatoes, dried beans, tomatoes, wheat bran, dairy products, eggs

4,700 mg
19+ years

16. Chloride 105g

Table salt, seafood, milk, meat, eggs

2,300 mg
19–50 years

Major Essential Minerals

17. Calcium 1,400g Milk, milk products, sardines, clams, oysters, turnip and mustard greens, broccoli, legumes, dried fruits 1,000 mg,19-50 years
18. Magnesium 25g Nuts, legumes, whole-grain cereals, leafy green vegetable 400 mg males;
310 mg females;
19–30 years
19. Phosphorus 850g Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, milk products, nuts, legumes, grains, cereals 700 mg, 19+ years
20. Sulfur 175g Protein foods: meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, cheese, legumes, nuts Not established

Trace Essential Minerals

21. Chromium 4-6mg Mushrooms, green peppers, organ meats, whole grains, brewer’s yeast 35 μg* male;
25 μg* female
22. Copper 50–150 mg Liver, shellfish, whole grains, legumes, eggs, meat, fish  900 μg
23.  Iodine  15-20mg Iodized salt, salt-water seafood, milk, liver, eggs, yogurt, legumes  150μg
24.  Iron  2-4g Organ meats (liver), meat, molasses, clams, oysters, nuts, legumes, green leafy vegetables, dried fruits, enriched/whole grains 8mg male;18mg female
25.  Manganese  10-20mg  Wheat bran, legumes, hazelnuts, blueberries, pineapple, seafood, poultry, meat 2.3 mg* male;
1.8 mg* female
26.  Molybdenum  2mg  Legumes, meat, poultry, fish, grains  45μg
27.  Selenium  20mg  Oysters, tuna, meat, poultry, fish, whole grains, brazil nuts  55μg
28.  Zinc  1.5g-3g  Oysters, wheat germ, beef, liver, poultry, whole grains 11 mg male;
8 mg female
Typically, lists of micronutrients will stop at the above list of 28 vitamins and minerals. However, Dr Bruce Ames includes omega-3’s, amino acids and choline in his list also. Deficiency in these for humans is very bad.

Fish Oils

Count Oil Good Food Sources RDA
 29.  Omega 3 Fish, fish oil, krill oil, walnut, edible seeds, flaxseed oil, hemp oil No current RDA for omega 3, however 500mg seems to be about minimum necessary.
30. Omega 6  Poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds Again, no RDA, but ideally we want to have a 1:1 ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. In practice, our modern diets contain significantly more omega 6 than omega 3.

Essential Amino Acids

Count Amino Acid Good Food Sources RDA for Adults
mg per kg body weight
31. Isoleucine Fish, meat, eggs, dairy, nuts 19
32. Leucine 42
33. Lysine 38
34. Methionine  19
35. Phenylalanine  33
36. Threonine 20
37. Tryptophan 5
38. Valine  4
39. Histidine 14

Additional Essential Nutrient

Choline is an interesting one. Whilst you won’t find it on a wikipedia list of essential micronutrients (yet), it was included by Dr Bruce Ames in all his talks. There is evidence to suggest it is an essential nutrient3. Summarising from the papers abstract, choline is required to make essential membrane phospholipids, and is a pre-cursor for biosynthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. If its good enough for Bruce Ames to list, we should take it seriously.

Count Nutrient Good Food Sources RDA
40. Choline Cod fish, beef liver, eggs, soybeans, wheat germ The is no RDA, however adequate intake guidelines published suggest adults consume at least 500mg per day4.

How do we use this micronutrient knowledge to live longer?

If we go back to the year 1900, we knew a bit about minerals, but almost nothing about vitamins. It took us until 1912, when Casimir Funk, found the first vitamin (niacin). As the 1900s progressed, we gradually unravelled a list of 40 essential micronutrients.

Going forward there are a number of things we can anticipate happening:

  • We identify more nutrients that are extremely beneficial to humans (even if they are not necessarily ‘essential’)
  • We clarify in more detail the desired amounts of micronutrients we need (although much of this work has already been done)
  • We develop better tools for mass analysis of micronutrient deficiencies (versus the hard to obtain, and often expensive blood panels that we have currently)

But working with what we have today, there are steps an individual can take to safeguard themselves against micronutrient deficiency:

Step 1: Eat a diet rich in micronutrients

Firstly, and this should be the #1 priority, aim to eat a diet rich in vegetables (raw and cooked), fish, meat (especially organ meats), eggs and nuts.

Step 2: Add supplements

On top of your healthy diet, you can “cover your ass” by taking supplements that cover the full spectrum of essential micronutrients.  Thus safeguarding yourself against any dietary omissions. We want to take reasonable, but not excessive amounts of these micronutrients, because too much of them can have negative health consequences.

Step 3: Get blood tests

Due to variation in

In researching this article I was surprised to find there is no blood panel that covers all of the essential micronutrients. The closest thing I was able to come across is the SpectraCell Laboratories micronutrient test, which covers most micronutrients. It covers all 13 vitamins (yay!), and  7 of the 15 essential minerals. Although I’m not sure how important it would be to test sodium, potassium & chloride in a healthy individual (responsible for electrolyte balance). So that leaves 5 minerals; phosphorus, sulfur, iodine, iron and molybdenum that it misses out. It also doesn’t test essential amino acid deficiency or choline deficiency. I don’t think the amino acids and choline are as important, but I’ve emailed SpectraCell to learn a bit more about why these are skipped the aforementioned minerals, and will update the post as I learn more.

This test is only available in the US, and costs $390 – which I thought was quite reasonable. Of course, it will be amazing in the future to get this down to a price that everyone could afford comfortably.

Alternatives to that test are to piece meal various tests together from what you can find available. Additionally, it may be possible to 80/20 the testing, by only getting testing commonly deficient, yet high consequence micronutrients tested. At the time of writing, I don’t know enough to say which micronutrients would cover the 80/20 approach.

Micronutrients and the future

Despite the fact that the information mentioned above has been out in the public domain for some time, its clear that it hasn’t been absorbed by our collective consciousness just yet. This is evidenced by a few things:

  • Extremely popular multivitamin supplements that don’t cover even close to the full range of essential micronutrients.
  • Hospitals (at least the NHS in the UK) not providing in-patient supplementation so that they hit their necessary micronutrient intake on a daily basis.
  • Extremely limited availability of blood test panels that cover the full range of essential micronutrients.
  • Lack of routine micronutrient blood testing.
  • A general societal focus on the macronutrient composition of the diet.

This means that we can expect a lot of changes in the future. Generally speaking, I anticipate micronutrient testing and supplementation to become more thorough and routine in order to maintain optimal human health.

Questions & Answers

This whole theory is quite a lot to swallow. Because if its true, it suggests we can make huge strides towards better health (as a population) with some relatively simple steps. I say “simple”, because a lot of health innovation is predicated upon advanced biological breakthroughs (think gene sequencing, editing and programming). Whereas for this we already have all the technology we need.

So this section is to try and tackle some of the questions that may come up.

Q: What needs to be true (scientifically speaking) for this theory to be accurate?

A: Two things:

  1. There needs to be actual micronutrient deficiency in the population. And then as an extension from that, the greater the micronturient deficiency problem, the greater effect fixing the deficiencies could have.
  2. The “triage theory” itself needs to be watertight. Specifically, it means that the experiments that were ran by Ames et al. need to be repeatable. And, the negative effect of micronutrient deficiency (in some shape or form) should apply across more of the micronutrients (their paper only cites experiments done with vitamin K and Selenium.

Q: What exactly do we mean by ‘micronutrient deficiency’?

A: Deficiency could refer to two things. The first is extreme long term deficiency, which results in ilness or bad side effects. For example, a common cause of blindness in developing countries is vitamin A deficieny. The second type of deficiency is less extreme, for example, you could be deficient in vitamin A for just long enough to start getting reduced night vision – one of the early warnings for vitamin A deficiency. According to triage theory, both of these deficiency types could be problematic for long term health.

To know for sure what the specific long term effects of minor vitamin A deficiency are, we would need to run experiments.

Question: What examples do we have to show micronutrient deficiency in the population?

Answer:

Firstly, its worth noting that obtaining data about the worlds micronutrient deficiences is by its very nature; difficult. Due to the relative expense and invasiveness of the number of blood tests it would take to get an accurate picture. So whatever data we can piece together, it won’t be a complete picture.

Bruce Ames quotes some interesting US figures on nutritional deficiency in his triage theory paper. Initially when I looked into them, I was hopeful they were based on actual blood test data. It turns out however, its data based on surveys of people’s dietary intake, which is then extrapolated upon. When I hear ‘survey’ in science, I immediately want to face palm. However… this isn’t your average survey, so its worth at least hearing out. The data comes from an organisation called NHANES (The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey), who are run under the umbrella of the CDC (Center for Disease Control & Prevention). This particular data set came from 2003 to 2006 time periods, and covered 18,063 people who submitted complete 24-hour survey data. It shows:

Nutrient % Ingesting less than Estimated Average Requirements (Inc Fortified Food + Supplements)
Magnesium 45%
Calcium 35%
Zinc 8%
Vitamin D 70%
Vitamin E 60%
Vitamin K 35%
Vitmain A 34%
Vitamin C 25%
Omega-3 Very High %

Source: Fulgoni et al. (2011)

…Will expand on this section further as time goes by. Research is super time consuming, and I don’t want to delay posting what I’ve synthesized so far, in pursuit of making this whole article “perfect”. Already there is enough to be useful to the reader.

Further Resources

This post is purely a synthesis of information already available, and is wholly inspired by the work of Dr Bruce Ames, Joyce McCann, Jung Suh and the rest of their team at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI). See the links below to get more info straight from the source:

More about Triage Theory:

  • Dr Rhonda Patrick’s YouTube interview with Dr Bruce Ames
  • Dr Bruce Ames’ presentation on triage theory at the Florida Institute for Human & Machine Cognition
  • Amazing slides from a 2010 extended version of his above presentation.
  • Dr Bruce Ames’ paper on triage theory.

Footnotes:

1. Folate deficiency and ionizing radiation cause DNA breaks in primary human lymphocytes: A comparison
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/9025839_Folate_deficiency_and_ionizing_radiation_cause_DNA_breaks_in_primary_human_lymphocytes_A_comparison

2. Mg citrate found more bioavailable than other Mg preparations in a randomised, double-blind study.
http://www.magnezij.si/uploads/datoteke/Walker_et_al._2003_engl.pdf

3. Choline, an essential nutrient for humans – Zeisel, Da Costa, Franklin et al
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/41a7/eeb2d1c4069e3395b8f62b061c4eee2ef427.pdf

4. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (2005) – Institute of Medicine
https://www.nap.edu/read/10490/chapter/12

5. Foods, Fortificants, and Supplements: Where Do Americans Get Their Nutrients? (2011) – Fulgoni et al.
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/141/10/1847.short

L-Carnitine: Is it Effective for Weight Loss?

L-carnitine is a nutrient and weight-loss supplement.

Some evidence suggests that supplementing with L-carnitine may promote weight loss. However, studies have provided mixed and inconclusive results.

For this reason, a group of Iranian researchers combined the results of several L-carnitine trials in a meta-analysis.

Here is a summary of their findings.

Background

L-carnitine is a nutrient found in high amounts in meat.

It has essential functions in the body and is involved with fatty acid oxidation (fat burning) and glucose metabolism (12).

However, it is not essential to your diet, since your liver and kidneys can produce it from the amino acids lysine and methionine.

Yet, some researchers believe dietary carnitine intake to be important, and evidence suggests it may promote weight loss by increasing calorie expenditure (345).

Article Reviewed

This was a systematic review and meta-analysis of studies examining the effect of L-carnitine on weight loss.

The effect of (L-)carnitine on weight loss in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Study Design

This was a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials testing the effects of L-carnitine on weight loss.

It was conducted according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) guidelines (6).

Using electronic databases, the researchers searched for all relevant articles. Nine studies, which recruited a total of 911 participants, were selected based on quality criteria.

In all of the studies, the participants supplemented with L-carnitine for at least one month.

Bottom Line: This was a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials examining the effects of L-carnitine on weight loss.

The Selected Studies

Nine studies were selected based on pre-specified criteria. Below are summaries of some of the included studies.


Coelho Cd, et al. The supplementation of L-carnitine does not promote alterations in the resting metabolic rate and in the use of energetic substrates in physically active individualsArquivos Brasileiros de Endocrinologia e Metabologia, 2010.

11 physically-active Brazilians supplemented with 1.8 grams of L-carnitine per day for one month. Carnitine supplementation did not affect body composition or calorie intake, compared to a placebo.


Derosa G, et al. The effect of L-carnitine on plasma lipoprotein(a) levels in hypercholesterolemic patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Clinical Therapeutics, 2003.

46 diabetic patients supplemented with 2 grams of L-carnitine per day for 3 months. Supplementing with L-carnitine did not cause a greater decrease in body mass index (BMI), compared to a placebo.


Derosa G, et al. Comparison between orlistat plus l-carnitine and orlistat alone on inflammation parameters in obese diabetic patients. Fundamental and Clinical Pharmacology, 2011.

258 diabetic patients were randomly assigned to supplement with 120 mg of orlistat three times per day, or the same amount of orlistat plus 2 grams of L-carnitine once per day, for one year.

Those who supplemented with orlistat and L-carnitine lost significantly more weight, compared to those who only took orlistat.


Derosa G, et al. Effects of combination of sibutramine and L-carnitine compared with sibutramine monotherapy on inflammatory parameters in diabetic patients. Metabolism, 2011.

254 diabetic patients were randomly assigned to receive either 10 mg of sibutramineplus 2 grams of carnitine, or sibutramine alone, every day for one year. Supplementing with L-carnitine led to significantly greater weight loss.


Elmslie JL, et al. Carnitine does not improve weight loss outcomes in valproate-treated bipolar patients consuming an energy-restricted, low-fat diet. Bipolar Disorders, 2006.

30 patients with bipolar disorder supplemented with 6.8 mg of L-carnitine per pound (15 mg per kilogram) of body weight daily for 26 weeks while following a moderately calorie-reduced diet.

Supplementing with L-carnitine did not significantly affect weight loss, compared to a placebo.


Pistone G, et al. Levocarnitine administration in elderly subjects with rapid muscle fatigue: effect on body composition, lipid profile and fatigue. Drugs & Aging, 2003.

42 healthy older people supplemented with 4 grams of L-carnitine every day for one month while following an exercise program.

Those who supplemented with L-carnitine lost significantly more fat mass and gained greater muscle mass, compared to a placebo.


Rafraf M, et al. Effect of L-carnitine supplementation in comparison with moderate aerobic training on serum inflammatory parameters in healthy obese women. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 2015.

22 obese women from Iran supplemented with 2 grams of L-carnitine per day for two months. Half of them followed an aerobic training program.

Supplementing with L-carnitine alone, or in combination with aerobic training, did not significantly affect body weight.


Villani RG, et al. L-Carnitine supplementation combined with aerobic training does not promote weight loss in moderately obese women. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2000.

18 overweight Australian women supplemented with 4 grams of L-carnitine for two months. They also walked for 30 minutes four days per week. Supplementing with L-carnitine did not affect total body mass or fat mass.


Finding: L-Carnitine May Cause Weight Loss

Supplementing with L-carnitine led to a 1.33 kg greater weight loss, on average, compared to a placebo.

L-carnitine supplementation led to significant weight loss in diabetic and non-diabetic individuals, as well as obese and normal-weight people.

Additionally, the analysis indicated that the weight loss effects of L-carnitine are strongest in the beginning but decrease over time.

However, the relevance of these findings is unclear because the included studies varied widely in their design.

Bottom Line: This meta-analysis concluded that supplementing with L-carnitine may cause slight weight loss.

Limitations

The main limitation of this meta-analysis was its study selection.

The included studies differed in their methods and not all were weight-loss trials. This makes interpreting the findings difficult.

The meta-analysis itself didn’t appear to have any methodological limitations, but the paper lacked detail, clarity and contained some incorrect references.

Summary and Real-Life Application

In short, this meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials suggests that supplementing with L-carnitine for more than a month may promote modest weight loss.

However, the evidence is inconclusive and limited overall. More high-quality studies are needed.

MCT Oil aids weight loss, increases energy and endurance

Interest in medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) has grown rapidly over the last few years.

This is partly due to the widely-publicized benefits of coconut oil, a rich source of them.

Many advocates boast that medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) can aid in weight loss.

In addition, MCT oil has become a popular supplement among athletes and bodybuilders.

Here is everything you need to know about MCTs, including what they are and what health benefits they may have.

What is MCT?

MCT stands for medium-chain triglycerides, which are fats found in foods like coconut oil. They are metabolized differently than the long-chain triglycerides (LCT) found in most other foods.

MCT oil is a supplement that contains a lot of these fats, and is claimed to have many health benefits.

Triglyceride is simply the technical term for fat. Triglycerides have two main purposes — they are transported into cells and burned for energy, or stored as body fat.

Triglycerides are named after their chemical structure, more specifically the length of their fatty acid chains. All triglycerides are made up of a glycerol molecule and 3 fatty acids.

The majority of fat in your diet is made up of long-chain fatty acids, which contain 13–21 carbons. Short-chain fatty acids have fewer than 6 carbon atoms.

In contrast, the medium-chain fatty acids in MCTs have 6–12 carbon atoms.

These are the main medium-chain fatty acids:

  • C6: Caproic acid or hexanoic acid.
  • C8: Caprylic acid or octanoic acid.
  • C10: Capric acid or decanoic acid.
  • C12: Lauric acid or dodecanoic acid.

Some experts argue that C6, C8 and C10, which are referred to as the “capra fatty acids,” reflect the definition of MCT more accurately than C12 (lauric acid) (1).

Bottom Line: Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are types of fatty acids containing 6–12 carbons. They include caproic acid (C6), caprylic acid (C8), capric acid (C10) and lauric acid (C12).

Medium-Chain Triglycerides are Metabolized Differently

Bottle of Coconut Oil and Half a Coconut

Because of the shorter chain length of the fatty acids, MCTs are rapidly broken down and absorbed into the body.

Unlike longer-chain fatty acids, MCTs go straight to the liver.

There they can be used as an instant energy source or turned into ketones, which are substances produced when the liver breaks down large amounts of fat.

Unlike regular fatty acids, ketones can cross from the blood to the brain. This provides an alternative energy source for the brain, which ordinarily uses glucose for fuel.

Because the calories contained in MCTs are more efficiently turned into energy and used by the body, they are less likely to be stored as fat.

Bottom Line: Due to their shorter chain length, medium-chain triglycerides are more rapidly broken down and absorbed into the body. This makes them a fast energy source and less likely to be stored as fat.

Sources of Medium-Chain Triglycerides

There are two main ways to increase the amount of MCT in your diet — through whole food sources or supplements such as MCT oil.

Whole Food Sources

A Coconut and Coconut Oil With a Blue Background

These foods are the richest in medium-chain triglycerides, shown as the percentage of fatty acids that are MCTs (2):

  • Coconut oil: Greater than 60%.
  • Palm kernel oil: Greater than 50%.
  • Dairy products: 10–12%.

Although the sources above are rich in MCTs, their compositions vary. For example, coconut oil contains all four types of MCTs, plus a small amount of LCTs.

However, its MCTs consist of greater amounts of lauric acid (C12) and smaller amounts of the “capra fatty acids” (C6, C8 and C10). In fact, coconut oil is about 50% lauric acid (C12), making it one of the best natural sources of this fatty acid.

Compared to coconut oil, dairy sources tend to have a higher proportion of capra fatty acids (C6, C8 and C10) and a lower proportion of lauric acid (C12).

In milk, capra fatty acids make up 4–12% of all fatty acids, and lauric acid (C12) makes up 2–5% (3).

Bottom Line: Whole food sources of MCTs include coconut oil, palm kernel oil and dairy products. However, their MCT composition varies.

MCT Oil

MCT oil is a highly concentrated source of medium-chain triglycerides.

It is man-made, through a process called fractionation. This involves extracting and isolating the MCTs from coconut or palm kernel oil.

MCT oils generally contain either 100% caprylic acid (C8), 100% capric acid (C10) or a combination of the two.

Caproic acid (C6) is not normally included due to its unpleasant taste and smell. Lauric acid (C12) is often missing or present in only small amounts (4).

Given that lauric acid is the main component in coconut oil, be careful of manufacturers who market MCT oils as “liquid coconut oil,” which is misleading.

Many people debate whether lauric acid reduces or enhances the quality of MCT oils.

Many advocates market MCT oil as better than coconut oil because caprylic acid (C8) and capric acid (C10) are thought to be more rapidly absorbed and processed for energy than lauric acid (C12).

Since C13 is a long-chain fatty acid and lauric acid (C12) is quite similar in structure, some experts argue that it might act more like a long-chain fat, making it less valuable.

Although evidence supports that lauric acid is more rapidly absorbed in the body than LCTs, one study suggests that lengthening the carbon chain by 2 carbons can slow down the rate of diffusion by 100 times (567).

Therefore, compared to other medium-chain triglycerides, lauric acid may be a slightly less efficient way to obtain energy. However, it also has unique health benefits.

For example, lauric acid has even more anti-microbial properties than caprylic acid (C8) or capric acid (C10), meaning it can help kill harmful bacteria and viruses (89).

Bottom Line: MCT oil is an easy way to get large concentrations of certain MCTs. It usually contains C8, C10 or a combination of the two.

Which Should You Choose?

The source best for you depends on your goals and the amount of medium-chain triglycerides you want.

It is not clear what dose is needed to obtain potential benefits. In studies, doses range from 5–70 grams (0.17–2.5 oz) of MCT daily.

If your aim is to achieve overall good health, using coconut oil or palm kernel oil in cooking is probably sufficient.

However, for higher doses you might want to consider MCT oil.

One of the good things about MCT oil is that it has virtually no taste or smell. It can be consumed straight from the jar or alternatively mixed into food or drinks.

Another great thing about MCT oil is the price.  This 32 ounce bottle  at  Amazon is around $24.  That’s nearly 9,000 calories in the bottle, which is the calories most people consume in 4-5 days.  So per calorie, its less $ than McDonalds!

Bottom Line: Coconut and palm kernel oils are rich sources of medium-chain triglycerides, but MCT oil supplements contain much larger amounts.

MCT Oil May Help With Weight Loss in Several Ways

Woman Holding Measuring Tape Around Her Waist

There are several ways that MCTs may help with weight loss, including:

  • Lower Energy Density: MCTs provide around 10% fewer calories than LCTs, or 8.4 calories per gram for MCTs versus 9.2 calories per gram for LCTs (10).
  • Increase Fullness: One study found that compared to LCTs, MCTs resulted in greater increases in peptide YY and leptin, two hormones that help reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness (11).
  • Fat Storage: Given that MCTs are absorbed and used more rapidly than LCTs, they are less likely to be stored as body fat (10).
  • Burn Calories: Studies in animals and humans show that MCTs (mainly C8 and C10) may increase the body’s ability to burn fat and calories (12131415161718).
  • Greater Fat Loss: One study found that an MCT-rich diet caused greater fat burning and fat loss than a diet higher in LCTs. However, these effects may disappear after 2–3 weeks once the body has adapted (18).
  • Low-carb Diets: Very low-carb or ketogenic diets are a effective ways to lose weight. Given that MCTs produce ketones, adding them to your diet can increase the number of carbs you can eat while staying in ketosis.

Bottom Line: MCTs may aid in weight loss through reduced calorie intake, increased fullness, less fat storage, improved calorie burning and increased ketones on low-carb diets.

Do MCTs Actually Cause Weight Loss?

Weight Scale

While many studies have found positive effects of MCTs on weight loss, other studies have found no effects (19).

In a review of 14 studies, 7 evaluated fullness, 8 measured weight loss and 6 assessed calorie-burning.

Only one study found increases in fullness, while 6 studies found reductions in weight and 4 found increased calorie burning (20).

In another review of 12 animal studies, 7 reported a decrease in weight gain and 5 found no differences. In terms of food intake, 4 detected a decrease, 1 detected an increase and 7 found no differences (21).

In addition, the amount of weight loss caused by MCTs is actually very modest.

A review of 13 studies found that on average the amount of weight lost on a diet high in MCTs was only 1.1 lbs (0.5 kg) over 3 weeks or more when compared to a diet high in LCTs (19).

Another study found that a diet rich in medium-chain triglycerides resulted in a 2-lb (0.9-kg) greater weight loss than a diet rich in LCTs over a 12 week period (22).

Further high-quality studies are needed to determine how effective MCTs are for weight loss and what amounts need to be taken to experience benefits.

Bottom Line: A diet high in medium-chain triglycerides may help with weight loss, although the effect is generally quite modest.

Evidence for MCTs Enhancing Exercise Performance is Weak

MCTs are thought to increase energy levels during high-intensity exercise and serve as an alternative energy source, sparing glycogen stores.

This may positively affect endurance and have benefits for athletes on low-carb diets.

One animal study found that mice fed a diet rich in medium-chain triglycerides did much better in swimming tests than mice fed a diet rich in LCTs (23).

Additionally, consuming food containing MCTs instead of LCTs for 2 weeks resulted in longer duration of high-intensity exercise among recreational athletes (24).

Although the evidence seems positive, there are not enough studies available to confirm this benefit, and the overall link is weak (25).

Bottom Line: The link between MCTs and improved exercise performance is weak and more studies are needed to confirm these claims.

Other Potential Health Benefits of MCT oil

A Jar of Coconut Oil and a Teaspoon

The use of medium-chain triglycerides and MCT oil has been associated with several other health benefits.

Cholesterol

MCTs have been linked to lower cholesterol levels in both animal and human studies.

For example, calves consuming MCT-rich milk had lower cholesterol than calves fed LCT-rich milk (26).

Several studies in rats have linked coconut oil to improved cholesterol levels and higher antioxidant vitamin levels (2728).

A study in 40 women found that consuming coconut oil along with a low-calorie diet reduced LDL cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol, compared to women consuming soybean oil (29).

Improvements in cholesterol and antioxidant levels may lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over the long term.

However, it is important to note that some older studies report that MCT supplements had no effects or even negative effects on cholesterol (3031).

One study in 14 healthy men reported that MCT supplements negatively affected cholesterol, increasing total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (31).

Bottom Line: Diets high in MCT-rich foods like coconut oil may have benefits for cholesterol levels. However, the evidence is mixed.

Diabetes

MCTs may also help lower blood sugar levels. In one study, diets rich in MCTs increased insulin sensitivity in adults with type 2 diabetes (32).

Another study in 40 overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes found that supplementing with MCTs improved diabetes risk factors. It reduced body weight, waist circumference and insulin resistance (33).

However, evidence for the use of medium-chain triglycerides in diabetes is limited. More research is needed to determine its full effects.

Bottom Line: MCTs may help lower blood sugar levels by reducing insulin resistance. However, more research is needed to confirm this benefit.

Brain Function

MCTs produce ketones, which act as an alternative energy source for the brain and can therefore improve brain function.

Recently there has been more interest in the use of MCTs to treat or prevent brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (34).

One major study found that MCTs improved learning, memory and brain processing in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. However, this was only effective in people containing a particular gene, the APOE4 gene (35).

Overall, the evidence is limited to short studies with small sample sizes, so more research is needed.

Bottom Line: MCTs may improve brain function in people with Alzheimer’s disease who have a particular genetic make-up. More research is needed.

Other Medical Conditions

Because MCTs are an easily absorbed and digested energy source, they’ve been used for years to treat malnutrition and disorders that hinder nutrient absorption.

Conditions that benefit from medium-chain triglyceride supplements include diarrhea, steatorrhea (fat indigestion) and liver disease. Patients undergoing bowel or stomach surgery may also benefit.

Evidence also supports the use of MCTs in ketogenic diets treating epilepsy (36).

The use of MCTs allows children suffering from seizures to eat larger portions and tolerate more calories and carbs than on classic ketogenic diets (37).

Bottom Line: MCTs are effective at treating a number of clinical conditions including malnutrition, malabsorption disorders and epilepsy.

Dosage, Safety and Side Effects

Oil on a Spoon

MCT oil appears to be safe for most people.

It is not clear what dose is needed to obtain potential health benefits, but many supplement labels suggest 1–3 tablespoons daily.

There are currently no reported adverse interactions with medications or other serious side effects.

However, some minor side effects have been reported and include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and an upset stomach.

These can be avoided by starting with small doses, such as 1 teaspoon, and increasing intake slowly. Once tolerated, MCT oil can be taken by the tablespoon.

Type 1 Diabetes and MCTs

Some sources discourage people with type 1 diabetes from taking medium-chain triglycerides due to the accompanying production of ketones.

It is thought that high levels of ketones in the blood may increase the risk of ketoacidosis, a very serious condition that can occur in type 1 diabetics.

However, the nutritional ketosis caused by a low-carb diet is completely different than diabetic ketoacidosis, a very serious condition caused by a lack of insulin.

In people with well-controlled diabetes and healthy blood sugar levels, the amount of ketones remain within a safe range even during ketosis.

There are limited studies available that explore the use of MCTs in type 1 diabetes. However, some have been conducted with no harmful effects (38).

Bottom Line: MCT oil is safe for most people, but there are no clear dosage guidelines. Start with small doses and gradually increase your intake.

Take Home Message

Medium-chain triglycerides have many potential health benefits including weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, improved insulin resistance, and improved endurance exercise.

For these reasons, adding MCT oil to your diet is highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Herbs and Supplements for Healthy Aging

Nicotinamide Riboside (Niagen)

Nicotinamide Riboside  is a recently discovered form of vitamin B3 that can increase levels of Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD+) levels in humans.

NAD+ is a key co-enzyme that the mitochondria in every cell of our bodies depend on to fuel all basic functions.

NAD+ levels drop as we age and when our bodies are stressed by disease or chronic inflammation (1,2).

Research in mice has shown promise that increased NAD+ levels can “turn back the clock” and make muscles, organs and tissues in older mice resemble that of much younger animals (3).

Research in humans has shown that supplementation with NR does raise NAD+ levels, which helps to ameliorate some age related disease and illness.  Clinical studies on the effectiveness in improving metabolic health are ongoing, with  2 soon to be published (4, 5) and 10 or more in process.

Chronic Inflammation increases as we age and is at least partly responsible for falling NAD+ levels.   Dr David Sinclair, arguably the most prominent researcher in NAD+ aging research recently published research that shows the enzyme CD38 rises, increasing inflammation and consuming NAD+.    He concluded:

These findings suggest that the efficacy of NAD+ precursors may be enhanced by co-supplementation with CD38 inhibitors

ANTI INFLAMMATORIES

Many of the anti-inflammatories on this list can help combat chronic inflammation and work synergistically with NR to improve cellular health.

There are hundreds of natural products that have been used for thousands of years to cure illness and disease.

When we examine the most effective, western medicine invariably finds they fight inflammation.

For example, Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory that  matches the effectiveness of many prescription drugs in treating many chronic conditions (71011121314).

Getting more of these supplements into your diet will greatly lower systemic inflammation and make it easier for your body to fight age related disease and illness.

NOT EASILY OBTAINED FROM FOOD SOURCES

 1. CURCUMIN
 3. COQ10
 4. BOSWELLIA
 5. EGCG (GREEN TEA)
 8. QUERCETIN
 9. GINGER
 10. SPIRALINA
 13. RESVERATROL
 14. CINNAMON
 15. GINGKO BILOBA

Magnesium/Potassium

Vitamin B&C Multi

CAN BE OBTAINED IN SUFFICIENT QUANTITY FROM FOODS

 2. OMEGA 3’S – EPA, DHA (FISH OIL)
 6. VITAMIN D
 7. MCT OIL (COCONUT OIL)
 11. LYCOPENE (TOMATOES)
 12. POMEGRANATE

 1. CURCUMIN

Turmeric in Bowl and Spoon

Curcumin is the bioactive in Turmeric, which is a perennial plant native to Southern Asia.

Supplementation may provide a notable increase to antioxidant enzyme profile and a notable decrease to inflammation and pain, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in humans:

Supplementation with Curcumin may also provide a subtle increase to HDL-C, and functionality in the elderly or injured; a subtle decrease to blood pressure, general oxidation, lipid peroxidation, and triglycerides; and subtle support for long-term joint function.

Curcumin is a remarkably powerful antioxidant, helping to fight oxidative damage and boosting the body’s own antioxidant enzymes (2728293031). This is important, because oxidative damage is believed to be one of the key mechanisms behind ageing and many diseases.

Curcumin is also strongly anti-inflammatory, to the point where it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs (32). Given that long-term, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic Western disease, it is not suprising to see that curcumin is linked to a variety of health benefits.

Studies suggest that it can improve brain function, fight Alzheimer’s, reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, and relieve arthritis, to name a few (3334353637).

It can decrease inflammation in diabetes, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and cancer, to name a few (13141516).

Curcumin also appears to be very beneficial for  improving symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (1718).

One randomized controlled trial found that people with metabolic syndrome who took curcumin had significantly reduced levels of the inflammation markers CRP and MDA, compared to those who received a placebo (19).

In another study, when 80 people with solid cancerous tumors were given 150 mg of curcumin, most of their inflammatory markers decreased much more than those in the control group. Their quality of life score also increased significantly (20).

Curcumin is poorly absorbed when taken on its own, but you can boost its absorption by as much as 2,000% by taking it with piperine, found in black pepper (21).

Recommended dosage: 100–500 mg daily, when taken with piperine. Doses up to 10 grams per day have been studied and are considered safe, but they may cause digestive side effects (22).

Some clinical studies:

Improvement in Oxidant Stress – 21 People (link)
Curcumin protects from DNA damage – 286 People (link)
Antioxidant effect in pancreatitis – 20 People (link)
Diverse positive effects in people – 38 People (link)
Reduction in oral inflammation – 20 People (link)
Decrease joint pain and improved function – 100 People (link)
Ulcerative colitis maintenance therapy – 89 People (link)
Reduce blood pressure – 24 People (link)
Changes for type 2 diabetic nephropathy – 40 People (link)
Laparoscopy postop pain improvement- 50 People (link)
Management of osteoarthritis- 100 People (link)
More management of osteoarthritis- 50 People (link)
Acetominaphen vs Curcumin – 15 People (link)
Improve vascular endothelial health – 32 People (link)

Potential side effects: None if taken at the recommended dosage.

Not recommended for: Pregnant women.

Bottom Line: Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory supplement that reduces inflammation in a wide range of diseases.

2. FISH OIL

Young Woman With Fish Oil and Glass of Water, Horizontal

Fish oil supplements contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital to good health.

They can decrease the inflammation associated with diabetes, heart disease, cancer and many other conditions (23242526272829).

Two especially beneficial types of omega-3s are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

DHA, in particular, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects that reduce cytokine levels and promote gut health. It may also decrease the inflammation and muscle damage that occur after exercise (29303132).

In one study, levels of the inflammation marker IL-6 were 32% lower in people who took 2 grams of DHA, compared to a control group (31).

In another study, DHA supplements significantly reduced levels of the inflammatory markers TNF alpha and IL-6 after vigorous exercise (32).

However, some studies in healthy people and those with atrial fibrillation have shown no benefit from fish oil supplementation (333435).

Recommended dosage: 1–1.5 grams of omega-3s from EPA and DHA per day. Look for fish oil supplements with undetectable mercury content.

Potential side effects: Fish oil may thin the blood at higher doses, which can increase bleeding.

Not recommended for: People taking blood thinners or aspirin, unless authorized by their doctor.

Fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These acids decrease the body’s production of a long list of pro-inflammatory biochemicals, including the same ones targeted by most NSAIDs — cyclooxygenase (COX 1 and 2). It also helps to reduce levels of inflammatory interleukins, specifically interleukin-1, a marker of chronic inflammation. In studies, people who ate fatty fish were less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, and people with rheumatoid arthritis who took fish oil were able to reduce their dosage of anti-inflammatory drugs. They also reported less pain and stiffness.

Fish oil has a synergistic effect with aspirin. It inhibits synthesis of thromboxane A2 and the highly inflammatory leukotriene B4. Fish oil is reported to help asthma, cystitis, hepatitis, pancreatitis, prostatitis and dermatitis.

Bottom Line: Fish oil supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids can improve inflammation in several diseases and conditions.

3. CoQ10

 Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10 ) is a molecule found in the mitochondria of humans and other organisms. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to lipid peroxidation, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in humans:

Supplementation with Coenzyme Q10 may also provide a subtle increase to blood flow, endothelial function, and exercise capacity; and a subtle decrease to blood pressure, exercise-induced oxidation, and general oxidation.

Still today, one of the most common and thoroughly researched uses of CoQ10 is helping protect the heart and blood vessels from the damaging effects of oxidative stress (also called free radical damage).

 

The name may not sound very natural, but CoQ10 is in fact an essential nutrient that works like an antioxidant in the body. In its active form, it’s called ubiquinone or ubiquinol.

It’s synthesized within the body naturally and used for important functions, such as supplying cells with energy, transporting electrons and regulating blood pressure levels. (1) The reason it’s not considered to be a “vitamin” is because all animals, including humans, can make small amounts of coenzymes on their own even without the help of food.

 

4. BOSWELLIA

Because it turns off reactions of the immune system that drive up inflammation and swelling, boswellia is a potential natural treatment for cancer and capable of helping to fight pain in addition to inflammation.† Boswellia serrata extract is so powerful that today it’s considered comparable to NSAID pain relievers (the leading type of chemical anti-inflammatory medications).

However, unlike over-the-counter or prescription medications that come along with all sorts of side effects, boswellia extract has been used safely and without complications for thousands of years. The chemical structure of boswellic acids closely resemble those of steroids — however their actions are different and do much more than mask symptoms. (1)

5. EGCG (GREEN TEA)

Green powder matcha tea isolated on white.

You’ve probably already heard that green tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink.

It’s been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and other conditions (24252627).

Many of its benefits are due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, especially a substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).

EGCG inhibits inflammation by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokine production and damage to the fatty acids in your cells (2627).

Bottom Line: Green tea’s high EGCG content reduces inflammation and protects cells from damage that can lead to disease.

6. VITAMIN D

 

It is well established that vitamin D is the single most important substance in your body for something called immune system tolerance, which means “how hot can your frying pan get before there are major overheating problems?”

One new study evaluated the vitamin D status and pain levels in 2,070 adults over age 65.  Of these adults, 53 percent had moderate to severe pain, and all were linked to poor vitamin D status, a relationship that held true when other variables were taken into account.

Another new study documents, for the first time, precise mechanisms by which vitamin D lowers inflammation.  The researchers show a new receptor for vitamin D on DNA.

In fact, correcting your vitamin D deficiency may cut your risk of dying from any cause by 50 percent, according to one analysis.

This places vitamin D on par with DHA as potent regulators of inflammation at the most fundamental levels of human health.

7. MCT OIL

Cholesterol

MCT is short for Medium Chain Triglycerides.  MCT oils have been linked to lower cholesterol levels in both animal and human studies.

For example, calves consuming MCT-rich milk had lower cholesterol than calves fed LCT-rich milk (26).

Several studies in rats have linked coconut oil to improved cholesterol levels and higher antioxidant vitamin levels (2728).

A study in 40 women found that consuming coconut oil along with a low-calorie diet reduced LDL cholesterol and increased HDL cholesterol, compared to women consuming soybean oil (29).

Improvements in cholesterol and antioxidant levels may lead to a reduced risk of heart disease over the long term.

Diabetes

MCTs may also help lower blood sugar levels. In one study, diets rich in MCTs increased insulin sensitivity in adults with type 2 diabetes (32).

Another study in 40 overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes found that supplementing with MCTs improved diabetes risk factors. It reduced body weight, waist circumference and insulin resistance (33).

Brain Function

MCTs produce ketones, which act as an alternative energy source for the brain and can therefore improve brain function.

Recently there has been more interest in the use of MCTs to treat or prevent brain disorders like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (34).

One major study found that MCTs improved learning, memory and brain processing in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease. However, this was only effective in people containing a particular gene, the APOE4 gene (35).

Weight Loss

There are several ways that MCTs may help with weight loss, including:

  • Lower Energy Density: MCTs provide around 10% fewer calories than LCTs, or 8.4 calories per gram for MCTs versus 9.2 calories per gram for LCTs (10).
  • Increase Fullness: One study found that compared to LCTs, MCTs resulted in greater increases in peptide YY and leptin, two hormones that help reduce appetite and increase feelings of fullness (11).
  • Fat Storage: Given that MCTs are absorbed and used more rapidly than LCTs, they are less likely to be stored as body fat (10).
  • Burn Calories: Studies in animals and humans show that MCTs (mainly C8 and C10) may increase the body’s ability to burn fat and calories (12131415161718).
  • Greater Fat Loss: One study found that an MCT-rich diet caused greater fat burning and fat loss than a diet higher in LCTs. However, these effects may disappear after 2–3 weeks once the body has adapted (18).
  • Low-carb Diets: Very low-carb or ketogenic diets are a effective ways to lose weight. Given that MCTs produce ketones, adding them to your diet can increase the number of carbs you can eat while staying in ketosis.

Read more about  MCT oils.

8. QUERCETIN

The anti-inflammatory effects of quercetin seem to come from its ability to dampen the production and activity of pro-inflammatory biochemicals such as leukotrienes and prostaglandins. They also block the release of histamine, the biochemical that causes allergy symptoms like runny nose and itchy eyes. In addition to being of help during allergy season, quercetin seems to help symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and chronic, nonbacterial prostatitis.

Research shows that anti-inflammatory foods containing quercetin can help manage a number of inflammatory health problems, including heart disease and blood vessel problems, allergies, infections, chronic fatigue, and symptoms related to autoimmune disorders like arthritis.

Quercetin  helps slow the aging progress because it lessens the effects of oxidative stress on the body. (4) Oxidative stress takes place in all of us but is increased by things like a poor diet, high levels of stress, a lack of sleep and exposure to chemical toxins.

9. GINGER

Fresh and Sliced Ginger

Ginger root is commonly ground into powder and added to sweet and savory dishes.

It’s also commonly used to treat indigestion and nausea, including morning sickness.

Two components of ginger, gingerol and zingerone, may reduce the inflammation linked to colitis, kidney damage, diabetes and breast cancer (3637383940).

When people with diabetes were given 1,600 mg of ginger daily, their CRP, insulin and HbA1c levels decreased significantly more than the control group (39).

Another study found that women with breast cancer who took ginger supplements had lower CRP and IL-6 levels, especially when combined with exercise (40).

There’s also evidence suggesting ginger supplements can decrease inflammation and muscle soreness after exercise (4142).

Ginger is a popular spice used in several forms of alternative medicine. Studies have consistently shown that 1 gram or more of ginger can successfully treat nausea. This includes nausea caused by morning sickness, chemotherapy and sea sickness (545556575859).

Ginger’s  strong anti-inflammatory properties seem to be why it can help with pain management (60). One study in subjects at risk for colon cancer found that 2 grams of ginger extract per day decreased markers for colon inflammation in the same way as aspirin (61).

Other research found that a mixture of ginger, cinnamon, mastic, and sesame oil decreased pain and stiffness experienced by those with osteoarthritis. It had a similar effectiveness as treatment with aspirin or ibuprofen (62).

Bottom Line: 1 gram of ginger appears to be an effective treatment for many types of nausea. It is also anti-inflammatory, and can help reduce pain.

Recommended dosage: 1 gram daily, but up to 2 grams is considered safe (43).

Potential side effects: None at the recommended dosage. However, higher dosages may thin the blood, which can increase bleeding.

Not recommended for: People who take aspirin or other blood thinners, unless authorized by a doctor.

Bottom Line: Ginger supplements have been shown to reduce inflammation, as well as muscle pain and soreness after exercise.

10. Spirulina

Spirulina Tablets

Spirulina is a blue-green algae. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to lipid peroxidation and triglycerides, according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in humans:

Supplementation with Spirulina may also provide a strong decrease to allergies, nasal congestion, and liver fat; a notable increase to power output; a notable decrease to blood pressure and general oxidation; a subtle increase to HDL-C and muscular endurance; and a subtle decrease to LDL-C and total cholesterol(575859606162636465).

Although most research to date has investigated spirulina’s effects on animals, studies in elderly men and women have shown that it may improve inflammatory markers, anemia and immune function (6465).

When people with diabetes were given 8 grams of spirulina per day for 12 weeks, their levels of the inflammation marker MDA decreased (66).

Additionally, their levels of adiponectin increased. This is a hormone involved in regulating blood sugar and fat metabolism.

Recommended dosage: 1–8 grams per day, based on current studies. Spirulina has been evaluated by the US Pharmacopeial Convention and is considered safe (67).

Potential side effects: Aside from allergy, none at the recommended dosage.

Not recommended for: People with immune system disorders or allergies to spirulina or algae.

Bottom Line: Spirulina provides antioxidant protection that can reduce inflammation and may improve symptoms of certain diseases

11. LYCOPENE (Tomatoes)

Fresh Tomato with Paste

The tomato is a nutritional powerhouse.

Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, potassium and lycopene, an antioxidant with impressive anti-inflammatory properties (67686970).

Lycopene may be particularly beneficial for reducing pro-inflammatory compounds related to several types of cancer (6869).

One study found that drinking tomato juice significantly decreased inflammatory markers in overweight women. However, these markers did not decrease in obese women (70).

In a review of studies analyzing different forms of lycopene, researchers found that tomatoes and tomato products reduced inflammation more than lycopene supplements (71).

Lastly, it’s interesting to note that cooking tomatoes in olive oil can maximize the amount of lycopene you absorb (72).

That’s because lycopene is a carotenoid, which are fat-soluble nutrients. They are absorbed better when there is some fat in the meal.

Bottom Line: Tomatoes are an excellent source of lycopene, which can reduce inflammation and protect against cancer.

12. POMEGRANATE

 13. RESVERATROL

Blonde Woman Eating Blueberries

Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in grapes, blueberries and other fruits with purple skin. It is also found in red wine and peanuts.

Resveratrol supplements may reduce inflammation in individuals with heart disease, insulin resistance, gastritis, ulcerative colitis and other conditions (44454647484950515253).

Some evidence suggests that resveratrol is a more potent anti-inflammatory agent than NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or indomethacin.

Injections of resveratrol into the joints of animals decreases inflammation. It also reduces cartilage destruction. Like ginger and fish oil, resveratrol inhibits a number of inflammation-producing biochemicals. Such chemicals include COX-1 and COX-2.

It also seems to have a regulating effect on certain immune cells. It may reduce T cell proliferation. T cells are involved in some autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis.

One study gave people with ulcerative colitis 500 mg of resveratrol daily. Their symptoms improved and they had reductions in the inflammation markers CRP, TNF and NF-kB (52).

In another study, resveratrol supplements lowered inflammatory markers, triglycerides and blood sugar in people with obesity (53).

However, another trial showed no improvement in inflammatory markers among overweight people taking resveratrol (54).

The resveratrol in red wine may also have health benefits, but the amount in red wine is not as high as many people believe (55).

Red wine contains less than 13 mg of resveratrol per liter (34 oz), but most studies investigating the health benefits of resveratrol used 150 mg or more per day.

To get an equivalent amount of resveratrol, you’d need to drink at least 11 liters (3 gallons) of wine every day, which definitely isn’t recommended.

Recommended dosage: 150–500 mg per day (56).

Potential side effects: None at the recommended dosage, but digestive issues may occur with large amounts (5 grams per day).

Not recommended for: People who take blood thinning medications, unless approved by their doctor.

Bottom Line: Resveratrol may reduce several inflammatory markers and provide other health benefits.

14. CINAMMON

Cinnamon is a popular spice, found in all sorts of recipes and baked goods. It contains a compound called cinnamaldehyde, which is responsible for cinnamon’s medicinal properties (1). Cinnamon has potent antioxidant activity, helps fight inflammation and has been shown to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood (234). But where cinnamon really shines is in its effects on blood sugar levels.

Cinnamon can lower blood sugar by several mechanisms, including by slowing the breakdown of carbs in the digestive tract and improving insulin sensitivity (5678). Studies have shown that cinnamon can lower fasting blood sugars by 10-29% in diabetic patients, which is a significant amount (91011). The effective dose is typically 0.5-2 teaspoons of cinnamon per day, or 1-6 grams.

You can read more about the impressive health benefits of cinnamon here.

Bottom Line: Cinnamon has numerous health benefits, and is particularly effective at lowering blood sugar levels.

15. GINGKO BILOBA

Ginkgo biloba, which is also known as maidenhair, is an ancient plant extract that has been used in China medicinally to heal various health ailments for thousands of years. In fact, the University of Maryland Medical Center reports that ginkgo biloba is the oldest tree species on earth, and today it is one of the top-selling herbal treatments worldwide.

Ginkgo’s been widely studied for its effective anti-inflammatoryantioxidant, platelet-forming and circulation-boosting effects. According to current research, ginkgo biloba benefits include improved cognitive function, positive mood, increased energy, improved memory and reduced symptoms related to multiple chronic diseases — for instance, it’s been used as an asthma natural remedyADHD natural remedy and dementia treatment. In fact, it’s believed to be so effective that it’s even a prescription herb in Germany!

More on Gingko Biloba here

 

16. Magnesium & Potassium

 

Magnesium is an essential dietary mineral found in food like nuts, cereals, and vegetables. Supplementation may provide a notable decrease to blood pressure (only in cases of high blood pressure), according to multiple peer-reviewed, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in humans:

Supplementation with Magnesium may also provide a subtle increase to insulin sensitivity, aerobic exercise, and muscle oxygenation; and a subtle decrease to blood glucose, and insulin.

17. Vitamins B & C

 

Boswellia Seratta (Frankincense) a powerful Cancer Fighter

Cancer touches all of us in some form or fashion, whether it’s a family member, friend, co-worker or even ourselves who get diagnosed with some type of cancer. And while there is no cure for cancer, what if I told you there was a substance that potentially could help us fight cancer? Enter boswellia.

Because it turns off reactions of the immune system that drive up inflammation and swelling, boswellia is a potential natural treatment for cancer and capable of helping to fight pain in addition to inflammation.† Boswellia serrata extract is so powerful that today it’s considered comparable to NSAID pain relievers (the leading type of chemical anti-inflammatory medications).

However, unlike over-the-counter or prescription medications that come along with all sorts of side effects, boswellia extract has been used safely and without complications for thousands of years. The chemical structure of boswellic acids closely resemble those of steroids — however their actions are different and do much more than mask symptoms. (1)

Sound too good to be true? Let’s take a look at how boswellia can help curb your pain, clear up respiratory or sinus infections fast, improve inflammatory bowel disease and even potentially protect you from cancer.†


What Is Boswellia?

Boswellia serrata is a tree native to Northern Africa and the Middle East that produces special compounds that have been found to have strong anti-inflammatory and anticancer effects.† (2)  In fact, long before inflammation-lowering medications and supplements existed, extracts derived from the boswellia tree — the same kind used to make frankincense oil — were used to treat all sorts of inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases and heart disease.

What makes certain plant extracts so beneficial for preserving health and fighting disease? A lot of it has to do with how different chemical compounds regulate the immune system, specifically how some inhibit certain pro-inflammatory cytokines and mediators that can damage DNA, feed tumor growth and destroy healthy cells.

Over the past several decades, research has given us a better understanding of how boswellia and frankincense oil benefit our health and boost the immune system. Boswellia seems to lower inflammation and support immune function on multiple levels, including (3):

  • interfering with cytokine production that raises inflammation (interferon gamma, interleukin-4 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha)
  • delaying reactions to sensitivities
  • helping regulate lymphocytes (white blood cells) and T-cells interactions
  • regulating production of immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies, which protect the body from bacterial and viral infections
  • regulating production of immunoglobulin M (igM) antibodies, which are found mainly in the blood and lymph fluid

Resins from the boswellia tree contain about 5 percent to 10 percent pure essential oils, which possess numerous protective compounds, including:

  • monoterpenes
  • diterpenes
  • triterpenes
  • tetracyclic triterpenic acids
  • four major pentacyclic and boswellic triterpenic acids, one of which is acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic acid, considered the most potent inhibitor of 5-lipoxygenase, an enzyme responsible for inflammation (4)

What does all of this mean in simple terms? Boswellia helps lower inflammation and prevents autoimmune diseases.† Inflammation is the response of bodily tissues to any form of irritation, injuries, infections or disorders of the immune system. Whenever you feel pain, redness, swelling and sometimes loss of function, this is inflammation attempting to heal you.

Leukotrienes are small chemicals that contribute to inflammation by promoting free radical damages, autoimmune responses, cell adhesion and migration of the cells to any injured areas.


5 Benefits of Boswellia 

1. Lowers Inflammation

Among the valuable boswellia tree extracts that researchers have identified, several stand out as being most beneficial, including terpenes and boswellic acids, which are strongly anti-inflammatory and protective over healthy cells. Terpenes are strong-smelling chemicals found in certain plants, including some we associate with having antioxidant abilities, such as eucalyptus, basil, peppermint and citrus trees. (5)

Terpenes play a vital role in protecting the plants that contain them, since their strong aroma can fight off insect predators, defend plants from environmental stresses and act as building blocks for important chemical processes. In the human body, terpenes can do the same thing, lowering free radical damage and prolonging health.

Other chemical compounds have been identified in boswellia that naturally reduce the inflammatory response by controlling T-lymphocytes, especially one called AKBA (3-O-acetyl-11-keto-beta-boswellic acid). Although it works similarly to NSAID pain relievers, AKBA’s exact mechanisms of action are very different because they target different inflammatory enzymes. Because they’re better able to preserve the integrity of the stomach and gut lining, boswellia’s extracts cause less side effects and pose less risk for toxicity compared to NSAIDs. (6)

AKBA helps fight pain thanks in part to its ability to inhibit an enzyme called 5-LOX (5-lipoxygenase) and therefore shuts down mechanisms of leukotrienes, which are inflammatory mediators produced by the process of oxidation (specifically of arachidonic acid). AKBA has shown to be effective in helping to fight against a large number of inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, bronchial asthma, chronic colitis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and cancer.†

Another active component of boswellia is called incensole acetate, which has similar powers over lowering inflammatory reactions, especially those that target the brain and speed up cognitive decline.† Studies show that incensole acetate is protective over neurons, helps fight the formation of tumors and has mood-enhancing benefits, making it a potential natural antidepressant and anti-anxiety compound.†

2. Reduces Joint and Arthritis Pain

A study published in the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database showed that boswellia extract can help reduce pain, swelling and trouble moving in people with arthritis or osteoarthritis (a common, chronic, progressive, skeletal, degenerative disorder, which commonly affects the knee joint) and other forms of inflamed joints. Some experienced a significant reduction in joint pain by up to 32 percent to 65 percent, which is comparable to prescription medications, showcasing boswellia’s ability as a potential natural arthritis treatment.† (7)

Another study published in the Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology found that boswellia assisted in treating osteoarthritis symptoms such as knee pain, knee jerking and pain while walking significantly better than treatment with a placebo. Researchers concluded that the anti-inflammatory, anti-arthritic and analgesic activities of boswellia make it a promising treatment for decreasing knee pain, increasing knee flexion and increasing walking distances in those prone to frequent swelling in the knee joints. (8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. May Help Fight Cancer

Frankincense oil, which is formed by purifying the resin taken from the trunk of the boswellia tree, has been used for thousands of years medicinally, as well in religious and cultural ceremonies. Today, research tell us that frankincense essential oil is strongly tied to cancer prevention.† Frankincense is taken by many people around the world with no known side effects. It effectively helps target cancer cells while preserving healthy cells, which is why it’s used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatments by many holistic practitioners.†

Research shows a link between AKBA and protection against brain, breast, colon, pancreatic, prostate and stomach cancers.† The potential cancer-killing properties of boswellia extracts and frankincense oil are in part due to how they influence our genes to promote healing, plus how they curb serious side effects of cancer treatments. One of the most challenging and devastating things about battling cancer is suffering through the life-threatening and painful side effects that treatments like chemotherapy and radiation often cause, but boswellia shows promise for fighting these complications. (9)

For example, frankincense and boswellia extracts have been shown to fight joint pain, swelling in the brain, digestive complications and migraine headaches without destroying healthy cells that leave people vulnerable to infections. In addition to helping fight cancer, frankincense also supports the immune system in other ways by preventing infections, lowering inflammation, promoting hormonal balance, improving skin health and lowering anxiety (sometimes described as improving “spiritual awareness”).†

4. Speeds Up Healing From Infections

Boswellia is capable of lowering severity of infections of the respiratory or sinus tracts, which means you can experience relief from coughing, colds, the flu or a sore throatfaster. Research shows boswellia also helps prevent allergies and asthma, eliminates phlegm in the lungs and acts as an anti-inflammatory in the nasal passages, which makes it easier to breath.†

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, frankincense has been used as a natural remedy for improving blood circulation, speeding up healing time and in relieving pain from a variety of bacterial or viral infections, such as colds or the flu, leprosy or gonorrhea.† Studies also show that boswellia is a natural antiviral and can help treat strong and serious viruses, such as the flu or those caused by insect bites. (1011)

5. Helps Prevent Autoimmune Disease

One of the oldest uses of frankincense oil and boswellia is treating a variety of auotimmune ailments, especially common inflammatory diseases including asthma, arthritis and chronic bowel diseases. Boswellia interferes with autoimmune diseasedevelopment, since it seems to help control the production of immunoglobulins, or antibodies, which are made by the immune system to fight potential threats: bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins.

The fact that boswellia has inhibitory actions that decrease production of leukotrienes has received high attention by researchers who study chronic inflammatory diseases that are rooted in increased leukotriene activity. As one study published in the International Journal of Phytotherapy and Phytopharmacology puts it, “At the end of the cascade of events in the cellular immune system, as far as it directs to various tissues of the body — i.e. autoimmune diseases — formation of oxygen radicals and proteases play an important destructive role … it’s not surprising that positive effects of boswellia in some chronic inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, bronchial asthma, osteoarthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease have been reported.” (12)

Your immune system constantly makes different types of antibodies to fight off various diseases (or “antigens“), but sometimes this process goes wrong and antibodies can actually be created that fight your very own bodily tissue, including healthy tissue that forms your organs. When this takes place, autoimmune disease occurs, which can affect nearly every system within the body.

Many studies have shown that boswellia helps treat inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) including ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease and collagenous colitis.† IBS is a term for a group of intestinal disorders that cause prolonged inflammation of the digestive tract, especially the bowel lining that’s important for normal nutrient absorption and waste elimination. IBS can also affect other parts of the digestive system, including the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines. Research shows that leukotrienes play a large role in igniting inflammation that disrupts normal bowel function.

Boswellia may help patients enter remission from IBS since it reduces inflammation/swelling associated with bowel diseases, restores normal bowel cell structures, improves stool properties significantly and helps heal openings in the bowel wall.† One study published in the European Journal of Medical Research found that 350 milligrams of boswellia extract given three times daily for six weeks resulted in patients experiencing improvements in all parameters tested. A whopping 82 percent of IBD patients went into remission, which was even more than the percentage of patients who were using the standard prescription for IBD called sulfasalazine! (13)

Similarly, supplementation with boswellia has been shown to be effective for facilitating remission in patients with collagenous colitis, another type of IBD that causes abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, diarrhea and lots of discomfort.† In a study done by the Department of Medicine at Medical College Jammu in India, boswellic acids were found to inhibit the enzyme 5-lipoxygenase, which is a major contributor to the disease. Twenty patients were given boswellia serrata (900 milligrams daily divided in three doses for six weeks), and at the end of the trial, 18 out of 20 patients showed an improvement in one or more of the parameters tested while 14 out of 20 went into remission. (14)


Types Of Boswellia

While Boswellia serrata is the most popular type of boswellia used to treat various disorders and symptoms, it’s not the only type. There are at least three other popular forms of boswellia: boswellia carteri, boswellia frereana and boswellia sacra. Each comes from a different plant species, although all are closely related and medically used in similar ways.

Boswellia carteri contains high levels of incensole acetate and triterpene acids, two chemicals tied to tumor prevention and strong anticancer effects.† Boswellia carteri has been the subject of many studies investigating tumor cells and shows positive effects on stimulating the immune system and treating various forms of cancer, including bladder cancer. (15)

The four species of boswellia all produce frankincense resin, or extract, which comes in varying concentrations or “grades” depending on a few factors. Things like the time of year frankincense was harvested, how it was extracted and how pure it is all affect its quality. The soil and climatic conditions used to grow boswellia trees are mostly responsible for the different types of frankincense resins available on the market today. It’s believed that boswellia sacra trees are capable of growing in tough climates and in soil that is very rocky, which allows them to survive and live longer. (16)

Boswellia sacra trees begin to yield frankincense resin after they’re about 8–10 years old, at which point they give off the precious sap several times per year. The last tap of the year is said to be the best, producing the highest-quality oil, which is mostly concentrated with bioavailable terpenes, diterpenes and sesquiterpense.

Experts say that the color of frankincense resin is directly related to its quality. When resin is clearer, it’s considered higher quality. Frankincense CO2 is said to be an exceptional grade, which is usually grown in the wild in parts of Somalia. The CO2 process helps to capture a broader spectrum of the beneficial volatile oils and produces a “clear, rich, smooth, and outstanding aroma.” (17)


Boswellia vs. Turmeric: How the Two Compare

Both boswellia and turmeric (which contains the active ingredient curcumin) are botanicals that have been trusted by holistic practitioners for many, many years. They’re similar in many ways since both help treat various inflammatory conditions and have similar mechanisms of action, including modulation of cytokines, downregulation of NF-kB (a pro-inflammatory pathway) and the inhibition of cyclooxygenase enzymes.

Turmeric has constituents that have been found to exert antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-mutagenic activity, which means it helps combat many of the same illnesses that boswellia does.

Researchers believe that anti-inflammatory herbal agents might be even more protective when they’re used together, which makes curcumin and boswellia a great team. The strong synergy of multiple constituents seems to be more effective than using single purified compounds alone. (18)

Another benefit of turmeric and boswellia used together is that interactions of their co-occurring phytochemicals might help prevent toxicity that can occur when using only one of these herbs. It doesn’t seem dangerous to use both together, and you might see improvements in symptoms faster if you do — but remember that it’s still important to read directions and follow dosage instructions carefully even when using natural herbal products.

 

Boswellia vs. turmeric - Dr. Axe

 


How to Use Boswellia Seratta

You can take boswellia as a supplement or use frankincense essential oil. Frankincense oil has many uses ranging from healing your skin to speeding up recovery when you’re sick, making it one of the most popular essential oils used worldwide.

Use a few drops of pure frankincense essential oil placed under your tongue, on the roof of your mouth or mixed into tea to safely take it internally. You can also use frankincense essential oil by adding it to an oil burner or diffuser, which helps break up mucus, cleanse the nasal passages, and ease pain from respiratory or sinus conditions.

To use frankincense on your skin, mix it with a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oiland do a patch test first to make sure you don’t react negatively before using it on larger areas of your skin. If you’re prone to sinus infections, allergies or asthma, then add a few drops to a cloth and inhale deeply several times per day.

If you rather take boswellia in supplement form, look for a high-quality powdered capsule that’s convenient and just as effective. Check for the species name Boswellia Seratta, and avoid brands that use artificial fillers and additives.

Look for standardized extracts that contain at least 37 percent boswellic acids, which might be labeled as boswellin. Higher percentages around 65 percent or more are even more pure and effective. When it comes to proper dosages, it depends on how concentrated the extract is and the level of boswellic acids present, so always start slowly and carefully follow the directions on the package.

The following dosages of boswellia are often recommended, although it depends on your specific goals and current health condition:

  • For lowering inflammation, take 600 to 900 milligrams of boswellia standardized (60 percent to 65 percent boswellic acid). This dosage might require taking several capsules daily.†
  • For treating inflammatory conditions like arthritis, osteroarthritis, asthma, chronic pain, inflammatory bowel disease or injuries, try a higher dose between 900–1,200 milligrams per day.† (19)

Are There Any Boswellia Side Effects?

Boswellia and frankincense seem to be well-tolerated by children, but if you’re pregnant, don’t plan on taking boswellia without speaking with a qualified health care practitioner first. If you’re currently taking NSAID medications, don’t take boswellia extract without guidance from your doctor.

Keep in mind that it might take several months for boswellia to have the most effects, so give it time to work best and reduce pain or swelling before stopping.


Boswellia Takeaways

  • Boswellia serrata extract is so powerful that today it’s considered comparable to NSAID pain relievers.
  • The five biggest benefits of boswellia include lowering inflammation, reducing joint and arthritis pain, helping fight cancer, speeding up healing from infections and potentially preventing autoimmune diseases.
  • Boswellia and turmeric are very similar in their benefits, and researchers believe that anti-inflammatory herbal agents might be even more protective when they’re used together.

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Co-Q10 decreases inflammation and protects your muscular and neurological systems

CoQ10  (short for Coenzyme Q10) is an essential element for many daily functions and is required by every single cell in the body. As an antioxidant that protects cells from the effects of aging, CoQ10 has been used in medicine practices for decades, especially in the case of treating heart problems.

Still today, one of the most common and thoroughly researched uses of CoQ10 is helping protect the heart and blood vessels from the damaging effects of oxidative stress (also called free radical damage). Many consumers turn to CoQ10 supplements to help manage health conditions, including heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis and congestive heart failure.

Research shows that patients with other inflammatory health conditions, such as breast cancer, diabetes, viruses and infertility, may also find these supplements helpful for both prevention of complications and treatment of symptoms.


What Is CoQ10?

The name may not sound very natural, but CoQ10 is in fact an essential nutrient that works like an antioxidant in the body. In its active form, it’s called ubiquinone or ubiquinol. It’s synthesized within the body naturally and used for important functions, such as supplying cells with energy, transporting electrons and regulating blood pressure levels. (1) The reason it’s not considered to be a “vitamin” is because all animals, including humans, can make small amounts of coenzymes on their own even without the help of food.

How CoQ10 Works:

  • To sustain enough energy to perform bodily functions, inside our cells tiny organelles called mitochondria take fat and other nutrients and turn them into useable sources of energy. This conversion process requires the presence of CoQ10.
  • As a “coenzyme,” CoQ10 also helps other enzymes work to digest food properly.
  • CoQ10 is not only necessary for producing cellular energy, but also for defending cells from damage caused by harmful free radicals.
  • Coenzyme Q10 can exist in three different oxidation states, and the ability in some forms to accept and donate electrons is a critical feature in its biochemical functions that cancel out free radical damage.
  • As a powerful antioxidant, CoQ10 can increase absorption of other essential nutrients. It’s been shown that it helps recycle vitamin C and vitamin E, further maximizing the effects of vitamins and antioxidants that are already at work in the body.
  • Although the body has the ability to make some CoQ10 on its own, production naturally declines as we age — just when we need our cells to help defend us most. This means we can all benefit from consuming more CoQ10, both naturally within from our diets, and also from high-quality supplements.

Who Should Take CoQ10?

According to work done by Oregon State University, natural synthesis of CoQ10, plus dietary intake, appears to provide sufficient amounts to help prevent deficiency in healthy people — however as explained above, the body produces less CoQ10 as someone gets older. (2)

The natural ability to convert CoQ10 into its active form called ubiquinol declines during the aging process. This decline is most apparent in people over the age of 40, particularly those taking statin drugs. It’s also been found that people with diabetes, cancer and congestive heart failure tend to have decreased plasma levels of coenzyme Q10.

For these reasons, CoQ10 is recommended most for people with heart problems. This can include anyone suffering from:

In addition to supporting a healthy cardiovascular system, CoQ10 has also been found to have the following benefits:

  • Helps lower fatigue and boosts stamina
  • Defends against free radicals and typical signs of aging, including muscle loss and skin changes
  • Restores the power of antioxidants, including vitamin E and vitamin C
  • Stabilizes blood sugar
  • Supports healthy gums
  • Reduces muscular dystrophy
  • Helps treat cognitive disorders, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s
  • Results in metabolic improvement in patients with hereditary mitochondrial disorders
  • May be able to help treat other conditions, including cancer, hormone imbalances, diabetes, viruses and infections

6 Benefits of CoQ10

1. Sustains Natural Energy

CoQ10 plays a role in “mitochondrial ATP synthesis,” which is the conversion of raw energy from foods (carbohydrates and fats) into the form of energy that our cells use called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This conversion process requires the presence of coenzyme Q in the inner mitochondrial membrane. One of its roles is to accept electrons during fatty acid and glucose metabolism and then transfer them to electron acceptors. (3) The process of making ATP has many benefits, from preserving muscle mass to helping regulate appetite and body weight.

2. Reduces Free Radical Damage 

Oxidative damage (or free radical damage) of cell structures plays an important role in the functional declines that accompany aging and cause disease. As a fat-soluble antioxidant, CoQ10 has been found to inhibit lipid peroxidation, which occurs when cell membranes and low-density lipoproteins are exposed to oxidizing conditions that enter from outside the body.

In fact, when LDL is oxidized, CoQ10 is one of the first antioxidants consumed to help offset the effects. Within mitochondria, coenzyme Q10 has been found to protect membrane proteins and DNA from the oxidative damage that accompanies lipid peroxidation and neutralize free radicals directly that contribute to nearly all age-related diseases (heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.).

3. Can Improve Heart Health and Offset Effects of Statin Drugs

Although experts feel that additional well-controlled clinical trials are still needed to prove its effects, CoQ10 has strong potential  for prevention and treatment of heart ailments by improving cellular bioenergetics, acting as an antioxidant and boosting free radical-scavenging abilities. A 2015 report published in Frontiers in Bioscience referenced earlier stated that “CoQ10 deficiencies are due to autosomal recessive mutations, mitochondrial diseases, aging-related oxidative stress and carcinogenesis processes, and also a secondary effect of statin treatment.”

What we do know is that CoQ10 supplementation seems to be useful for those taking statins, since it lowers side effects that they often cause. Statins are used to reduce an enzyme in the liver that not only decreases the production of cholesterol, but also further lowers the natural production of CoQ10. It’s now widely accepted that CoQ10 can interact with lipid lowering medications that inhibit the activity of HMG-CoA reductase, a critical enzyme in both cholesterol and coenzyme Q10 biosynthesis. A supplement of CoQ10 is therefore essential to restore natural levels to their optimum and counter the effects of statin drugs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Slows Down Effects of Aging

Mitochondrial ATP synthesis is an important function for maintaining a fast metabolism, strength of muscles, strong bones, youthful skin and healthy tissue. Tissue levels of coenzyme Q10 have been reported to decline with age, and this is believed to contribute to declines in energy metabolism and degeneration of organs, such as the liver and heart, and skeletal muscle.

Although supplementing with CoQ10 has not been shown to increase the life span of animals that have been tested with it, researchers believe it can slow down the age-related increase in DNA damage that naturally affect us all. More research is still needed to draw conclusions, but possible anti-aging benefits of consuming more CoQ10 include decreased muscle loss, less signs of skin damage, and protection from bone or joint injuries.

5. Helps Maintain Optimal pH Levels

Within cells, CoQ10 helps transport proteins across membranes and separate certain digestive enzymes from the rest of the cell, which helps maintain optimal pH. It’s believed that diseases develop more easily in environments that don’t have proper pH levels, specifically those that are not overly acidic.

For several reasons, likely including its ability to maintain proper pH, several studies have found that CoQ10 can help improve overall immune function and might even lower risk for cancer. Starting around the 1960s, researchers began testing the effects of CoQ10 on immune function and found that people with certain types of cancers (myeloma, lymphoma, breast, lung, prostate, pancreas and colon) had reduced levels in their blood. Recently, studies involving adult women with breast cancer found that when patients supplemented with CoQ10, the women’s conditions improved. (4)

6. Protects Cognitive Health

In those with cognitive impairments, such as Parkinson’s disease, increased oxidative stress in a part of the brain called the substantia nigra is thought to contribute to symptoms. CoQ10 has been shown to offset decreases in activity of mitochondrial electron transport chains that affect nerve channels and brain function, and studies show that people with cognitive disorders tend to have reduced levels of CoQ10 in their blood. (5)

Several studies have investigated the effects of CoQ10 in individuals with Parkinson’s disease. One randomized, placebo-controlled trial that evaluated the efficacy of 300, 600 or 1,200 milligrams a day given to 80 people with early Parkinson’s disease found that supplementation was well-tolerated and associated with slower deterioration of cognitive functions compared to the placebo. Other trials have shown that around 360 milligrams a day taken for four weeks moderately benefited Parkinson’s disease patients. (6)


Best Ways to Increase CoQ10 Naturally: CoQ10-Rich Foods

CoQ10 is found naturally in our diets from foods, including fish, liver, kidney and the germs of whole grain. The richest natural sources of dietary coenzyme Q10 are meat, poultry and fish, but vegetarian options, such as beans, nuts, some vegetables, eggs and dairy products, are also helpful for increasing your intake. (7)

My recommendation for the very best foods for supplying CoQ10 include:

  • Grass-fed beef
  • Herring
  • Free-range chicken
  • Rainbow trout
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Cage-free eggs
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel

Currently, there is no specific dietary intake recommendations for CoQ10 that has been established from the Institute of Medicine or other agencies. Because it’s a fat-soluble antioxidant, it’s most easily absorbed when consumed with a small amount of healthy fats (just like vitamins E and A). Although it can be obtained from certain foods, foods tend to only supply low doses, which is exactly why many experts recommend supplementing if you’re older or have a heart condition.

Symptoms of deficiency have not been widely reported or studied in much detail in the general population. It’s estimated that the average person’s diet contributes around 25 percent of total CoQ10. The best way to obtain enough is to eat a varied, nutrient-dense diet, PLUS to consider supplementing if you’re at risk for a heart-related or inflammatory condition.


How to Find and Use CoQ10 Supplements

COQ10 is found in such low quantities in most foods that even a healthy diet might be an impractical way to meet the daily recommended dosages. Taking a daily, high-quality CoQ10 supplement in capsule form (which helps with easier absorption into the bloodstream) can close the bridge between this gap.

CoQ10 Supplement Dosage:

  • According to a survey done by ConsumerLab.com including over 50 CoQ10 products tested, the suggested daily serving size ranges from 30 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams daily. (8)
  • Most experts recommend that adults take at least 200 milligrams daily to experience benefits.
  • Those on statins or weighing over 200 pounds should consider a higher dose.

How much do these products typically cost, and how can you find a trustworthy brand?

  • The cost of taking 100 milligrams ranged from 8 cents to over $3 depending on the specific brand and strength.
  • What’s important, and makes a big difference in terms of the benefits you’ll get from taking supplements, is that the concentration is actually equal to the amount listed. Some products use fillers or enhancers and may even supply less of a dosage than the manufacturer claims.
  • Look for products with reviews, certifications ensuring the listed dosage is correct, and as minimal preservatives or fillers as possible.

CoQ10 Precautions and Side Effects 

Although it’s considered to be very safe overall and has been used in the medical field for many years, CoQ10 side effects can sometimes include: (9)

  • Mild insomnia, elevated levels of liver enzymes, rashes, nausea, upper abdominal pain, dizziness, sensitivity to light, irritability, headache, heartburn and fatigue.
  • Interacting with statin drugs: Coenzyme Q10 supplements can decrease the anticoagulant efficacy of statins like warfarin and other common cholesterol-lowering medications (such as those known as HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor statins). Talk to your doctor about being monitored if you take these medications.
  • In some cases, CoQ10 supplementation might also lower blood sugar and cause a decrease insulin requirements. People with diabetes who are taking medications to control blood glucose should monitor their conditions if taking CoQ10.
  • Always read dosage instructions and start with a lower dose, working your way up. You can minimize side effects by splitting up your daily dose in smaller doses around 100 milligrams.
  • If you’re pregnant or breast-feeding, mention any supplements you’re taking to your doctor to ensure they are safe.

Final Thoughts on CoQ10

  •  CoQ10, also called Coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinone, is a natural substance that helps fight oxidative stress and prevent tissue damage.
  • Benefits include slowing the effects of aging, protecting cognitive health, improving metabolic functions and improving heart health.
  • Coenzyme Q10 is produced by the body naturally and also found in small amounts in meats, fish, nuts, seeds, veggies and eggs. However, our ability to produce and use it decreases significantly with age.
  • CoQ10 supplement dosages range between 30—1,000 milligrams/daily, but some doctors recommend taking around 200—300 milligrams per day (in divided dose).

Health Benefits of Turmeric and Curcumin

Turmeric may be the most effective nutritional supplement in existence.

Many high quality studies show that it has major benefits for your body and brain.

Here are the top 10 evidence-based health benefits of turmeric.

1. Turmeric Contains Bioactive Compounds With Powerful Medicinal Properties

Turmeric is the spice that gives curry its yellow color.

It has been used in India for thousands of years as a spice and medicinal herb.

Recently, science has started to back up what the Indians have known for a long time… it really does contain compounds with medicinal properties (1).

These compounds are called curcuminoids, the most important of which is curcumin.

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. It has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and is a very strong antioxidant.

However, the curcumin content of turmeric is not that high… it’s around 3%, by weight (2).

Most of the studies on this herb are using turmeric extracts that contain mostly curcumin itself, with dosages usually exceeding 1 gram per day. It would be very difficult to reach these levels just using the turmeric spice in your foods.

Therefore, if you want to experience the full effects, then you need to take an extractthat contains significant amounts of curcumin.

Unfortunately, curcumin is poorly absorbed into the bloodstream. It helps to consume black pepper with it, which contains piperine… a natural substance that enhances the absorption of curcumin by 2000% (3).

I personally prefer to swallow a few whole peppercorns along with my curcumin supplement, in order to enhance absorption.

Curcumin is also fat soluble, so it may be a good idea to take it with a fatty meal.

Bottom Line: Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Most studies used turmeric extracts that are standardized to include large amounts of curcumin.

2. Curcumin is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory Compound

Turmeric in Wooden Bowl

Inflammation is incredibly important.

It helps the body fight foreign invaders and also has a role in repairing damage.

Without inflammation, pathogens like bacteria could easily take over our bodies and kill us.

Although acute (short-term) inflammation is beneficial, it can become a major problem when it is chronic (long-term) and inappropriately deployed against the body’s own tissues.

It is now believed that chronic, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic, Western disease. This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions (456).

Therefore, anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of potential importance in preventing and even treating these diseases.

It turns out that curcumin is strongly anti-inflammatory, it is so powerful that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs (7).

Curcumin actually targets multiple steps in the inflammatory pathway, at the molecular level.

Curcumin blocks NF-kB, a molecule that travels into the nuclei of cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. NF-kB is believed to play a major role in many chronic diseases (89).

Without getting into the gory details (inflammation is extremely complicated), the key takeaway here is that curcumin is a bioactive substance that fights inflammationat the molecular level (101112).

In several studies, its potency has compared favorably to anti-inflammatory pharmaceutical drugs… except without the side effects (1314).

Bottom Line: Chronic inflammation is known to be a contributor to many common Western diseases. Curcumin can inhibit many molecules known to play major roles in inflammation.

3. Turmeric Dramatically Increases The Antioxidant Capacity of The Body

Turmeric in Bowl and Spoon

Oxidative damage is believed to be one of the mechanisms behind aging and many diseases.

It involves free radicals, highly reactive molecules with unpaired electrons.

Free radicals tend to react with important organic substances, such as fatty acids, proteins or DNA.

The main reason antioxidants are so beneficial, is that they protect our bodies from free radicals.

Curcumin happens to be a potent antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals due to its chemical structure (1516).

But curcumin also boosts the activity of the body’s own antioxidant enzymes (171819).

In that way, curcumin delivers a one-two punch against free radicals. It blocks them directly, then stimulates the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms.

Bottom Line: Curcumin has powerful antioxidant effects. It neutralizes free radicals on its own, then stimulates the body’s own antioxidant enzymes.

4. Curcumin Boosts Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor, Linked to Improved Brain Function and a Lower Risk of Brain Diseases

Young Indian Woman Holding a Plate With Turmeric

Back in the day, it was believed that neurons weren’t able to divide and multiply after early childhood.

However, it is now known that this does happen.

The neurons are capable of forming new connections, but in certain areas of the brain, they can also multiply and increase in number.

One of the main drivers of this process is Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which is a type of growth hormone that functions in the brain (20).

Many common brain disorders have been linked to decreased levels of this hormone. This includes depression and Alzheimer’s disease (2122).

Interestingly, curcumin can increase brain levels of BDNF (2324).

By doing this, it may be effective at delaying or even reversing many brain diseases and age-related decreases in brain function (25).

There is also the possibility that it could help improve memory and make you smarter. Makes sense given its effects on BDNF levels, but this definitely needs to be tested in human controlled trials (26).

Bottom Line: Curcumin boosts levels of the brain hormone BDNF, which increases the growth of new neurons and fights various degenerative processes in the brain.

5. Curcumin Leads to Various Improvements That Should Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease

Large Wooden Spoon Filled With Turmeric Powder

Heart disease is the biggest killer in the world (27).

It has been studied for many decades and researchers have learned a lot about why it happens.

It turns out that heart disease is incredibly complicated and there are various things that contribute to it.

Curcumin may help reverse many steps in the heart disease process (28).

Perhaps the main benefit of curcumin when it comes to heart disease, is improving the function of the endothelium, which is the lining of the blood vessels.

It is well known that endothelial dysfunction is a major driver of heart disease and involves an inability of the endothelium to regulate blood pressure, blood clotting and various other factors (29).

Several studies suggest that curcumin leads to improvements in endothelial function. One study shows that is as effective as exercise, another shows that it works as well as the drug Atorvastatin (3031).

But curcumin also reduces inflammation and oxidation (as discussed above), which are also important in heart disease.

In one study, 121 patients who were undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery were randomized to either placebo or 4 grams of curcumin per day, a few days before and after the surgery.

The curcumin group had a 65% decreased risk of experiencing a heart attack in the hospital (32).

Bottom Line: Curcumin has beneficial effects on several factors known to play a role in heart disease. It improves the function of the endothelium and is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and antioxidant.

6. Turmeric Can Help Prevent (And Perhaps Even Treat) Cancer

Cancer is a terrible disease, characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells.

Turmeric Roots and a Jar of Turmeric Powder

There are many different forms of cancer, but they do have several commonalities, some of which appear to be affected by curcumin supplementation (33).

Researchers have been studying curcumin as a beneficial herb in cancer treatment. It can affect cancer growth, development and spread at the molecular level (34).

Studies have shown that it can reduce angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels in tumors), metastasis (spread of cancer), as well as contributing to the death of cancerous cells (35).

Multiple studies have shown that curcumin can reduce the growth of cancerous cells in the laboratory and inhibit the growth of tumours in test animals (3637).

Whether high-dose curcumin (preferably with an absorption enhancer like pepper) can help treat cancer in humans has yet to be tested properly.

However, there is some evidence that it may help prevent cancer from occurring in the first place, especially cancers of the digestive system (like colorectal cancer).

In one study in 44 men with lesions in the colon that sometimes turn cancerous, 4 grams of curcumin per day for 30 days reduced the number of lesions by 40% (38).

Maybe curcumin will be used along with conventional cancer treatment one day. It’s too early to say for sure, but it looks promising and this is being intensively studied as we speak.

Bottom Line: Curcumin leads to several changes on the molecular level that may help prevent and perhaps even treat cancer.

7. Curcumin May be Useful in Preventing and Treating Alzheimer’s Disease

A Pile of Fresh Turmeric Roots

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common neurodegenerative disease in the world and a leading cause of dementia.

Unfortunately, no good treatment is available for Alzheimer’s yet.

Therefore, preventing it from showing up in the first place is of utmost importance.

There may be good news on the horizon, because curcumin has been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier (39).

It is known that inflammation and oxidative damage play a role in Alzheimer’s disease. As we know, curcumin has beneficial effects on both (40).

But one key feature of Alzheimer’s disease is a buildup of protein tangles called Amyloid plaques. Studies show that curcumin can help clear these plaques (41).

Whether curcumin can really slow down or even reverse the progression of Alzheimer’s disease needs to be studied properly.

Bottom Line: Curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and has been shown to lead to various improvements in the pathological process of Alzheimer’s disease.

8. Arthritis Patients Respond Very Well to Curcumin Supplementation

A Plate Full of Turmeric Powder

Arthritis is a common problem in Western countries.

There are several different types, but most involve some sort of inflammation in the joints.

Given that curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory, it makes sense that it could help with arthritis. Several studies show this to be true.

In a study of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, curcumin was even more effective than an anti-inflammatory drug (42).

Many other studies have looked at the effects of curcumin on arthritis and noted improvements in various symptoms (4344).

Bottom Line: Arthritis is a common disorder characterized by joint inflammation. Many studies show that curcumin can help treat symptoms of arthritis and is in some cases more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs.

9. Studies Show That Curcumin Has Incredible Benefits Against Depression

Turmeric Roots and Powder

Curcumin has shown some promise in treating depression.

In a controlled trial, 60 patients were randomized into three groups (45).

One group took prozac, another group took a gram of curcumin and the third group took both prozac and curcumin.

After 6 weeks, curcumin had led to improvements that were similar to prozac. The group that took both prozac and curcumin fared best.

According to this (small) study, curcumin is as effective as an antidepressant.

Depression is also linked to reduced levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and a shrinking hippocampus, a brain area with a role in learning and memory.

Curcumin boosts BNDF levels, potentially reversing some of these changes (46).

There is also some evidence that curcumin can boost the brain neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine (4748).

Bottom Line: A study in 60 depressed patients showed that curcumin was as effective as prozac in alleviating the symptoms of depression.

10. Curcumin May Help Delay Aging and Fight Age-Related Chronic Diseases

If curcumin can really help prevent heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s… then this would have obvious benefits for longevity.

For this reason, curcumin has become very popular as an anti-aging supplement (49).

But given that oxidation and inflammation are believed to play a role in aging, curcumin may have effects that go way beyond just prevention of disease (50).

11. Anything Else?

If you want to buy a turmeric/curcumin supplement, then you can get it online or from various health food and supplement stores.

I recommend that you find one with bioperine (another name for piperine), which is the substance that enhances absorption of curcumin by 2000%.

Without this substance, most of the curcumin just passes through your digestive tract.

Which Omega 3 oils are best – DHA is Better than EPA at Reducing Inflammation

DHA and EPA are long-chain omega-3 fatty acids that are well known for their health benefits.

Both are found in fatty fish, as well as fish oil supplements. Most research has examined their combined health effects, but few studies have compared them.

Recently, a large Canadian study compared the effects of DHA and EPA on inflammatory markers and blood lipids.

Here is a detailed summary of its findings.

Plant And Animal Sources Of Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Background

Many scientists believe that chronic, low-grade inflammation is a key factor in the development of lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease (12).

Several unhealthy lifestyle habits contribute to inflammation. One of them is the excessive consumption of omega-6 oils, relative to omega-3.

Excessive omega-6 intake is a consequence of the modern, processed diet. If you eat a lot of processed food and vegetable oils — mainly soybean, sunflower or corn oil — you are almost certainly getting too much omega-6.

Unlike omega-6, long-chain omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory. There are two main types of long-chain omega-3 fats (34):

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

Both EPA and DHA are found in seafood, fatty fish, fish oil and certain types of marine microalgae.

The body can also produce them from alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in many plant oils. However, the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is inefficient. It’s best to get EPA and DHA from your diet or supplements, rather than relying on ALA.

Few studies have compared the anti-inflammatory potential of EPA and DHA. Most have investigated mixtures of EPA and DHA or included only one of them (4).

Some studies suggest that DHA may be more effective at improving the blood lipid profile, but little is known about their individual effects on inflammation (5).

Article Reviewed

This study compared the effects of EPA or DHA supplementation on inflammatory markers and blood lipids.

Randomized, crossover, head-to-head comparison of EPA and DHA supplementation to reduce inflammation markers in men and women: the Comparing EPA to DHA Study.

Study Design

This was a double-blind, randomized controlled trial examining the effects of supplementing with EPA or DHA on markers of inflammation in healthy men and women.

The study recruited 48 men and 106 women with abdominal obesity and low-grade chronic inflammation.

They were randomly assigned to three groups:

  • EPA: This group took three 1-gram capsules, providing a total of 2.7 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) every day for 10 weeks.
  • DHA: This group took three 1-gram capsules, providing a total of 2.7 grams of decahexaenoic acid (DHA) every day for 10 weeks.
  • Control: This group took three 1-gram capsules, providing a total of 3 grams of corn oil every day for 10 weeks. Corn oil is rich in omega-6 but contains very low amounts of omega-3.

The study had a crossover design, which means that the participants were assigned to all three treatments in a random order. Each treatment period was separated by a 9-week washout period.

During the study, the participants were asked to exclude all major sources of omega-3 from their diet.

At the start and end of each study period, the researchers measured the following:

  • Inflammatory markers: C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), interleukin-18 (IL-18) and adiponectin.
  • Blood lipids: Triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol and apolipoprotein B (apoB). LDL-cholesterol was calculated using the Friedewald equation.

Bottom Line: This was a randomized controlled trial comparing the effects of the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA on inflammatory markers and blood lipids.

Finding 1: DHA Reduced Inflammation More Than EPA

Supplementing with DHA caused a significantly greater reduction in inflammatory markers than EPA.

Specifically, DHA and EPA supplementation had the following effects, compared to the control (corn oil):

  • Interleukin-18 (IL-18): -7.0% with DHA, while EPA had no significant effects.
  • Interleukin-6 (IL-6): -12.0% with DHA and -13.4% with EPA.
  • Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α): -14.8% with DHA, but EPA had no effects.
  • C-reactive protein (CRP): -7.9% with DHA, while EPA had no significant effects.
  • Adiponectin (AN): +3.1% with DHA, while EPA had no significant effects.

These findings are presented in the charts below:

IL 18

Three previous trials have compared the effects of supplementing with DHA or EPA on inflammatory markers. Supplementing with EPA or DHA did not affect any inflammatory markers (678).

However, those studies recruited only 25 or fewer participants for each group and had far less statistical power than the present study.

Bottom Line: Supplementing with DHA had a stronger anti-inflammatory effect than EPA.

Finding 2: DHA Improved the Blood Lipid Profile More Than EPA

Supplementing with DHA improved the blood lipid profile more than supplementing with EPA.

Specifically, DHA and EPA supplementation had the following effects, compared to control (corn oil):

  • Triglycerides (TG): -13.3% with DHA and -11.9% with EPA.
  • Total cholesterol (TC): +3.8% with DHA, while EPA had no significant effects.
  • HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C): +7.6% with DHA, while EPA had no effects.
  • LDL-cholesterol (LDL-C): +6.9% with DHA and +2.2% with EPA. DHA had a stronger effect on LDL-cholesterol in men (+12.5%), compared to women (+4.4%).
  • Apolipoprotein B (apoB): +4.5 with DHA, but EPA had no significant effects.
  • Cholesterol to HDL-cholesterol ratio (TC:HDL-C): -2.5% with DHA, but EPA had no significant effects.

These findings are presented in the chart below:

TG TC HDL LDL APOB TCHDL

The results are consistent with the findings of a previous meta-analysis showing that supplementing with DHA leads to a greater decrease in triglycerides and greater increases in LDL and HDL-cholesterol, compared to EPA (5).

DHA supplementation led to changes in triglycerides, apoB and LDL-cholesterol, which may suggest an increase in LDL particle size (a good change). However, future studies are needed to confirm this finding using proper measurements.

Bottom Line: Supplementing with DHA had greater effects on blood lipids than EPA. These changes appeared beneficial.

Limitations

The study had an excellent design and few methodological issues. However, the authors pointed out some minor limitations.

Circulating levels of DHA and EPA weren’t measured at the beginning of each study period. For this reason, it is unclear if the washout between treatment periods was long enough to eliminate all effects from the previous treatment period.

However, the levels of blood lipids and inflammatory markers were similar at the start of each of the periods, indicating that there were no residual effects from the previous treatment period.

Summary and Real-Life Application

In short, supplementing with 2.7 grams of DHA for 10 weeks was more effective than a similar dose of EPA at decreasing markers of chronic inflammation and improving the blood lipid profile in men and women with excessive belly fat.

However, more research is needed before we can claim that DHA is healthier than EPA. In fact, a recent study concluded that EPA may have greater benefits when it comes to heart disease prevention (9).

For the time being, it may be best to eat fatty fish, which provides both DHA and EPA, or choose mixed long-chain omega-3 supplements.

Medicinal Mushrooms and Their Marvelous Benefits

For most of us, we label mushrooms as sort of a side dish or an extra bit of food to add flavor and texture to certain dishes. But did you know that there are medicinal mushrooms that have a ton of benefits for our bodies?

That’s right, mushrooms have long been used since ancient times as medicine. The use of medicinal mushrooms dates back to ancient Chinese and ancient Egyptian cultures. They used them to promote longevity and overall general health.

What Are Medicinal Mushrooms?

Basically, medicinal mushrooms produce medically significant metabolites. Or they are mushrooms that can be induced to produce said metabolites via biotechnology.

There is a wide range of medically active compounds in certain fungi. Some examples are anti-cancer drugs, antibiotics, psychotropic drugs, cholesterol inhibitors, immunosuppressants, and fungicides.

Types of Medicinal Mushrooms

All over the world, you can find mushrooms. There are over 150 species of mushrooms. Some of them are edible, and some of them are not. It would take us the entire day to discuss each and every one of them. So we’ll go ahead and talk about the some of the most popular medicinal mushrooms.

Shiitake

I think everyone knows what this mushroom is. They are quite popular and can be found in most grocery stores. Their color is either tan or dark brown in color. They have a meaty texture and have an earthy, smoky flavor.

Reishi

The Chinese highly value this particular mushroom. They call it “the mushroom of immortality,” “the herb of good fortune,” and “the great protector.” It is strictly used medicinally.

This mushroom has a tough texture and a bitter taste. It’s not one that you would willingly add to your favorite pasta dish.

Oyster

This is one of the mushrooms most used as an addition to different types of dishes. They look like sea oyster, thus the name. They either have a whitish, grayish, or tan color. These mushrooms have a thick flesh and a velvety texture. And like their name, they have a mild seafood-like taste, like abalone.

Cremini/White Button

These are the most consumed mushrooms in the United States. They are available year-round and are the least expensive among the mushroom varieties. Immature mushrooms have either a brown or white color. They have a rich and earthy taste.

Maitake

These are known as dancing mushrooms. Or you might know it by its other name, hen of the woods. They are mainly found at the base of trees, like oak, elm, or maple. It looks like layers of caps curved like spoons. Others also say it looks like a brain. The caps have a dark brown color when young, and gradually lighten to light gray or yellow as they age.

Cordyceps

This is a rare mushroom. Weirdly enough, they grow only on caterpillars found in northern China. When the caterpillar dies, the fungus sprouts from the caterpillar’s head. It looks like a silkworm and has a bright gold color. It has a fishy odor and a slightly bitter taste.

Lion’s Mane

Indeed, this is quite a name. It is a globe-shaped fungus with a snowy white color. It has downward icicle-shaped spines. Its flavor is likened to that of eggplant or lobster. It is considered a gourmet food.

Healthy Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms

Consuming different kinds of edible mushrooms can provide you with plenty of healthy benefits. Here is a rundown of just a few of these effects of medicinal mushrooms.

Combats Cancer

Introducing certain medicinal mushrooms in your daily diet has a significant positive effect in fighting cancer. Studies show that they slow down the growth of cancer cells. They also inhibit tumor formation, protect DNA from damage, and stop cell mutation.

They are also beneficial to cancer patients by relieving some side effects of cancer, such as nausea and hair loss.

Promotes Heart Health

Medicinal mushrooms naturally lower LDL “bad” cholesterol levels and also keep arteries from hardening. These two are risk factors for heart disease. At the same time, they also improve HDL “good” cholesterol levels. Their phytonutrient content keeps cells from sticking to blood vessel walls and forming plaque buildup. This leads to a healthy blood pressure level and better circulation.

Boosts the Immune System

Many medicinal mushrooms have antibacterial and antiviral properties. These are great at combating the common cold, flu, and cough. Medicinal mushrooms have immune-enhancing responses. This is because they have a high amount of polysaccharides and complex sugars. These are essential food for the immune system. They increase RNA and DNA in the bone marrow where the immune cells are born. They also regulate antibody production in the body.

Lastly, mushrooms also have a high amount of antioxidants. These antioxidants fight off harmful free radicals. These free radicals bring bacteria, infection, and diseases to your body.

Improves Energy Levels

Eating cordycep mushrooms enables you to jump higher and run faster. They basically give a big boost to your energy levels. This is because they increase the oxygen-carrying ability of the blood and also increase the production of energy in the muscles.

They relax bronchial passages, enhance respiration, and increase blood flow. All these benefit the muscles that are pushed to their limit and add to their endurance.

This means athletes get to train longer and more effectively. They are also great during post-workout recovery.

Promotes Brain Health

Medicinal mushrooms help with improving your memory, improving cognitive functionality, and giving you sharper and clearer focus.

They also induce the production of nerve growth factors. This is vital in the development and maintenance of sensory neurons. They are great in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, dementia, and other brain-related illnesses.

Provides Better Skin

The selenium content in medicinal mushrooms reduces the severity of acne. It also helps with the scarring that occurs with it. Mushrooms also reduces the buildup of DHT, which improves skin healing. This leaves you with smoother, healthier, younger-looking skin.

Promotes Weight Loss

Mushrooms are a low in calories, but are super full of nutrients. This makes the fungi great for people who are watching their weight. Studies show that eating mushrooms regularly lead to a healthy body weight, reduced waist circumference, and better overall health.

Shiitake mushrooms in particular fight against gaining too much weight. They increase satiety, reduce your food intake, and reduce plasma lipid, or fat, levels.

Helps with Diabetes

Mushrooms have less carbohydrates and sugar. These mushrooms regulate blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. They also lower triglycerides and prevent the progression of other diabetic complications. In addition, they also have positive effects to the sensitivity of insulin receptors.

Relieves Asthma and Allergies

Asthma is due to a high number of inflammatory cells in the body. Mushrooms treat asthma by correcting the imbalance in the immune system and reducing the number of inflammatory cells.

Mushrooms also exhibit anti-allergic activities. They significantly reduce the production of allergy-causing antibodies. They also increase the production of cells that eliminate pathogens. And lastly, mushrooms inhibit histamine release.

Relieves Stress

The reishi mushroom in particular takes center stage here. Taoists claim that these mushrooms “promote calmness, centeredness, balance, inner awareness, and inner strength.” They eat it daily in meditative practices and to protect the body, mind, and spirit.

Mushrooms also relieve chronic fatigue syndrome, stress-induced tension, and insomnia.

Helps in Fertility

If you want to start a family of your own, get your husband to start adding mushrooms, specifically cordyceps, in his daily diet. They dramatically increase sperm production, both in quality and in quantity.