Friday, January 19, 2018

Vitamin E found to have a synergidtic effect when combined with the amino acid carnitine

Supplements for heart health: Vitamin E found to have a synergistic effect when combined with the amino acid carnitine, protecting against heart attack







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(Natural News) Combining carnitine with vitamin E may effectively reduce the risk of developing myocardial infarction (MI), according to a study published in the African Journal of Traditional Complementary and Alternative Medicines. A team of health experts at the King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia used animal models of MI to carry out the study.
The rats were divided into five groups, three of which were given either carnitine, vitamin E or both, while one group was given a standard diet and another one served as the control arm. The combination treatment was also given for up to 21 days. The animals were then injected with isoproterenol for three consecutive days to induce MI. The results revealed that the combination treatment helped improve coronary flow in the treated animals.
Likewise, the findings revealed that animals treated with the combination treatment attained significant improvements in the recovery of rate pressure product (RPP) and left ventricular developed pressure (LVDP) compared with their untreated counterparts. The researchers also observed that the levels of cardiac inflammatory markers interleukine-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF- α) were greatly reduced in treated rats. Moreover, the combination treatment helped reduce the activity of superoxide dismutase (SOD), which served as a hallmark of MI onset.
“Combination of carnitine with vitamin E pretreatment normalized the levels of malondialdehyde and antioxidant enzymes of cardiac tissue in rats injected with ISO. The histopathological examinations support the biochemical analysis by improving the caridocyte with reduction in infiltration of monocyte in rats supplemented with both carnitine and vitamin E. Further studies are needed to determine signal mediated by which vitamin E and carnitine protective effect against MI,” the researchers concluded.
Vitamin E, carnitine may work as stand-alone therapies too
A large number of studies also demonstrated that both vitamin E and carnitine contained powerful cardioprotective properties on their own, which made them ideal stand-alone treatments against a plethora of cardiovascular conditions. (Related: Vitamin E tocotrienols protect the heart and prevent metabolic syndrome.)
For instance, a meta-analysis published in the Journal of Lipid Research demonstrated that vitamin E supplementation might reduce the risk of cardiovascular disorders and subsequent death in patients with Hp 2-2 genotype diabetes (Hp 2-2 DM). Data from various clinical trials revealed that vitamin e supplementation was associated with a 15 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular deaths. Likewise, the results demonstrated that vitamin E might slash the risk of developing myocardial infarction and stroke in patients.
“Vitamin E has been shown to be cardioprotective in certain patient subgroups under high levels of oxidative stress such as those individuals on hemodialysis or in diabetic individuals with the Hp 2-2 genotype. A plausible biological rational has been provided. The adoption of a pharmacogenomic approach to the use of vitamin E appears to identify a subgroup of individuals for whom vitamin E provides significant clinical benefit,” the experts wrote.
Another systematic review carried out by Mayo Clinic researchers found that carnitine intake may lead to a significant decline in cardiovascular risk. The research team pooled data from 13 clinical trials as part of the analysis. The trials examined the effects of carnitine intake on cardiovascular ailments such as ventricular arrhythmias (VAs), angina, heart failure, and reinfarction.
“Compared with placebo or control, L-carnitine is associated with a 27% reduction in all-cause mortality, a 65% reduction in VAs, and a 40% reduction in anginal symptoms in patients experiencing an AMI. Further study with large randomized controlled trials of this inexpensive and safe therapy in the modern era is warranted,” the scientists observed.
However, the scientists acknowledged several limitations of the analysis and concluded that a larger study might be warranted to solidify the findings.
Log on to Heart.news for more information on cardiovascular health and related diseases.

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Burn Fat for Fuel

Burn Fat for Fuel

  • 697 
  • January 19, 2018 • 103,003 views
  • Edition: English













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Story at-a-glance
  • Low-fat, high-carb diets prevent healthy mitochondrial function, thereby contributing to chronic diseases such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer and more
  • Studies suggest low-carb, high-fat diets — and eating less frequently — may be the answer to the obesity epidemic. The benefits of this type of diet is the primary focus of my book “Fat for Fuel,” and my complementary online course
  • When your body is able to burn fat for fuel, your liver creates water-soluble fats called ketones that burn far more efficiently than carbs, thus creating far less damaging reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals
  • Multiday water fasting activates autophagy, allowing your body to clean itself out, and triggers the regeneration of stem cells. Having as little as 200 or 300 calories a day is enough to abort the autophagy process
  • Fasting has been shown to trigger the regeneration of the pancreas in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics — a testament to the regenerative power unleashed in your body when fasting
30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health
This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE
By Dr. Mercola
The notion that your body needs to regularly consume glucose for energy has become a deeply ingrained myth. As a result of this misguided advice, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer prevalence have all spiked, burgeoning into national if not global epidemics. The truth is, most long-term low-fat, high-carb diets prevent healthy mitochondrial function, thereby making a greater contribution to disease than most people are willing to even consider.
Dietary fats are actually the preferred fuel of human metabolism. In 2016, the British National Obesity Forum and the Public Health Collaboration issued a joint report on obesity based on the analysis of 43 studies, warning the policy to encourage people to eat a low-fat diet is having a "disastrous impact on health."1,2,3 According to the authors, the current guidelines have been manipulated and corrupted for commercial gain by the food and beverage industries, and are based on flawed science.
Low-Carb, High-Fat Diet and Reducing Meal Frequency Can Solve Many Common Ailments
In conclusion, the report suggests a low-carb, high-fat diet — and eating less by cutting out between-meal snacks — may be the answer to the obesity epidemic. The benefits of this type of diet is the primary focus of my most recent book, "Fat for Fuel," and my complementary online course, which guides you through seven engaging lessons to teach you how your body works at the molecular level, and how different foods affect your body.
Traditional weight loss advice suggests all you need to do is count calories, eat less and exercise more. Somewhat better recommendations specifically recommend cutting down on sugar. However, while many will initially lose weight doing this, it usually doesn't take long to gain the weight back. Before you know it, you're caught in a loop of yo-yo dieting. There's a better way. A great many of the disease epidemics facing us today could be turned around by educating people about the benefits of:
  • A diet high in healthy fats, moderate in protein and low in net carbohydrates (total carbs minus fiber)
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Longer water fasting
It's important to realize that calories are not created equal, and this is why counting calories doesn't work for weight loss and health in the long run. The metabolic effects of calories differ depending on their source — a calorie from a Twinkie is not equivalent to a calorie from an avocado or a nut. That said, excessive snacking is a significant contributing factor to obesity, so, to lose weight and keep it off, you may need to reduce your meal frequency.
The Case for Fasting
I recommend limiting it to two meals per day, either breakfast/lunch or lunch/dinner, within a six- to eight-hour window each day. This meal timing is a form of intermittent fasting, as by eating all your meals within a certain span of time each day, you end up fasting daily as well. Longer water fasts also offer powerful health benefits, although you need to work your way into them.
One strategy I've found to be extremely helpful is to gradually increase the time of your daily intermittent fasting until you're fasting 20 hours a day. After about a month of this, doing a four- or five-day long water fast will not be nearly as difficult, as you're already used to not eating for extended periods.
I was skeptical about water fasting for a long time, but after learning more about the metabolic benefits of it, the relative safety and testing it out for myself, I've become convinced it's a powerful tool that is vastly underutilized. The clarity of thinking alone, which occurs around Day Three or Four, makes it worth it.
That's not the only benefit though. Importantly, water fasting activates autophagy, allowing your body to clean itself out, and triggers the regeneration of stem cells. Remarkably, whereas low-calorie dieting will cause morbidly obese people to develop skin folds that must be surgically removed after significant weight loss, this typically does not occur when you lose the weight by water fasting. Your body actually metabolizes the excess skin as you go along, because it's in such efficient regeneration mode.
Even having as little as 200 or 300 calories a day is enough to abort the autophagy process, though, which is why I started doing complete water fasts. I now do a five-day water fast on a monthly basis, and since I was used to doing 20-hour daily intermittent fasting, I experienced no significant hunger at all. It was really pretty effortless right from the start.
If you're severely overweight or have Type 2 diabetes, water fasting may be the answer you've been looking for. Recent research4 confirms that fasting can effectively reverse Type 2 diabetes in a relatively short amount of time. In this trial, Type 2 diabetics were placed on a severely restricted calorie diet where they ate just 600 calories a day for eight weeks.
By the end of their fast, all were disease-free and three months later, having returned to their regular diet, seven of the 11 participants were still disease-free. Fasting has also been shown to trigger the regeneration of the pancreas in both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetics5 — a testament to the regenerative power unleashed in your body when fasting.
Burning Fat for Fuel Improves Mitochondrial Function
Eating a diet low in net carbs and high in healthy fats and/or fasting will allow your body to burn fat rather than glucose as its primary fuel. This has the sought-after side effect of improving mitochondrial function, which is foundational for disease prevention and optimal health. The mitochondria within your cells are largely responsible for generating the energy (adenosine triphosphate or ATP) your body needs to stay alive and thrive.
They're also responsible for apoptosis (programmed cell death) and act as signaling molecules that help regulate genetic expression. When your mitochondria are damaged or dysfunctional, not only will your energy reserves decrease, resulting in fatigue and brain fog, but you also become vulnerable to degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and neurodegenerative decay.
Why Cycling in and out of Nutritional Ketosis Is Recommended
The devil's in the details, though, and an important yet rarely discussed facet of nutritional ketosis — which is when your body burns fat as its primary fuel instead of sugar — is feast-and-famine cycling. The reason for this has to do with the fact that long-term uninterrupted nutritional ketosis can trigger a rise in blood sugar by driving your insulin level too low.
This paradoxical situation can arise because the primary function of insulin is not to drive sugar into the cell, but to suppress the production of glucose by your liver (hepatic gluconeogenesis). If your blood sugar is high due to chronically and excessively low insulin, eating a piece of fruit or other sugar-containing food will actually lower your blood sugar rather than raise it. Your microbiome may also be compromised in the long term, as chronic low-carb diets will not optimally feed your gut flora.
All of this can be avoided by cycling in and out of nutritional ketosis, basically going through a one-day-per-week fast and one or two days a week of feasting, where you eat double or quadruple the amount of net carbs. Your body is designed to have the metabolic flexibility to use both glucose and fat for fuel. The problem is, when you eat a high-carb diet for a long period of time, your body ends up losing its ability to burn fat. The good news is, you can regain it by inverting the carb and fat ratios of your diet.
Fat Is Your Body's Preferred Fuel
When your body is able to burn fat for fuel, your liver creates water-soluble fats called ketones that burn far more efficiently than carbs, thus creating far less damaging reactive oxygen species and secondary free radicals. This is why being an efficient fat burner is so important for optimal health. Ketones also improve glucose metabolism and lower inflammation.6
Recent research7 suggests a ketogenic (high-fat, low-carb) diet may even be key for reducing brain inflammation following stroke and other brain trauma. Chronic inflammation is a hallmark of most chronic disease, including pain-related conditions such as arthritis. As noted in one study,8 ketogenic diets appear to be helpful for inflammation-associated pain by:
  • Generating fewer inflammatory reactive oxygen species
  • Lowering the excitability of neurons involved in pain signaling
  • Boosting signaling of the neuromodulator adenosine, which has pain-relieving effects
How to Implement a Ketogenic Diet
To implement a ketogenic diet, the first step is to eliminate packaged, processed foods. The emphasis is on real whole foods, plenty of healthy fats and, initially, as few net (nonfiber) carbs as possible. This typically involves dramatically reducing or temporarily eliminating all grains and any food high in sugar, particularly fructose, but also galactose (found in milk) and other sugars — both added and naturally-occurring.
As a general rule, you'll want to reduce your net carbs to 20 to 50 grams a day or less, and restrict protein to 1 gram per kilogram of lean body mass. To make sure you're actually meeting your nutritional requirements and maintaining the ideal nutrient ratios, use an online nutrient tracker such as www.cronometer.com/mercola, which is one of the most accurate nutrient trackers available.
It's also preset for nutritional ketosis, so based on the base parameters you enter, it will automatically calculate the ideal ratios of net carbs, protein and healthy fats required to put you into nutritional ketosis. This is what will allow your body to start burning fat as its primary fuel rather than sugar, which in turn will help optimize your mitochondrial function and overall health and fitness.
Beneficial Fats to Eat More Of
Another key to success is to eat high-quality healthy fats, NOT the fats most commonly found in the American diet (the processed fats and vegetable oils used in processed foods and fried restaurant meals). Just about any fat found naturally in food — whether animal- or plant-based — is in fact healthy for you. For example, saturated fat found in animal products and coconut oil:
  • Increases your large fluffy LDL particles, which are not associated with an increased risk of heart disease
  • Increases your HDL levels, which is associated with lower heart disease risk. This also compensates for any increase in LDL
  • Does not cause heart disease, as made clear in a large number of studies9,10,11,12,13,14
  • Serves as a "clean-burning fuel" for your brain and mitochondria, producing far less damaging free radicals than sugars and nonfiber carbs
Examples of healthy fats to eat more of include:
Olives and olive oil (look for third party certification, as 80 percent of olive oils are adulterated with vegetable oils.
Avoid cooking with olive oil; use it cold)
Coconut oil (excellent for cooking as it can withstand higher temperatures without oxidizing)
Animal-based omega-3 fat from fatty fish low in mercury like wild-caught Alaskan salmon, sardines, anchovies and/or krill oil
Butter made from raw grass fed organic milk
Raw nuts such as macadamia and pecans
Seeds like black sesame, cumin, pumpkin and hemp seeds
Grass fed meats
Ghee (clarified butter); lard and tallow (excellent for cooking)
Raw cacao butter
Organic, pastured eggs
Harmful Fats to Avoid
The harmful fats you need to steer clear of are all man-made. This includes trans fats, which are pro-oxidant, and all highly refined polyunsaturated vegetable oils,15 which are high in damaged omega-6 and produce toxic oxidation products like cyclic aldehydes when heated. Vegetable oils promote oxidized cholesterol, which becomes destructive when entering your LDL particles.
Also, when consumed in large amounts, omega-6 polyunsaturated fats — and especially industrially processed ones — cannot be effectively burned for fuel. Instead, they're incorporated into cellular and mitochondrial membranes where they become susceptible to oxidative damage, which ultimately damages your metabolism. These harmful fats have been shown to:16

  • Contribute to heart disease
  • Promote gut inflammation
  • Disrupt arterial blood flow through your brain
  • Deplete your brain of antioxidants
  • Attack the cellular architecture of your nerves and impair brain development through mutagenic effects on DNA and altered epigenetic expression

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Astrology for the Soul January 17, 2018

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Seasons

Simon Meehan 15 from Ireland wins top science prize for blackberry antibiotic that fights resistant bacteria

Irish teen wins top science prize for blackberry antibiotic that fights resistant bacteria
By Erin Elizabeth - January 17, 2018


Simon Meehan, 15 years old, of Coláiste Choilm, Ireland recently won first place in the 54th BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition after discovering that “chemicals found within blackberries could form antibiotics”1 capable of killing Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) a virus well known for being resistant to antibiotics.
And get this: he says his herbalist grandfather was the inspiration that kept him going (he even kept a framed picture next to him while we worked)!
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The wise youngster said, “I feel, without disrespecting the scientific community too much, that there should be some conclusions from this. We are over-thinking science in too many ways.”2
We totally agree with you, Simon!
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Professor John O’Halloran, who helped judge the competition, said:
“This is a really exciting project which explores the possibility of the blackberry leaf extracts’ ability to control harmful bacteria. The unexpected findings deliver a unique approach to killing bacteria using natural plant active ingredients. The rigour of the approach adopted by Simon set his project apart from competitors and made him our overall winner.”3










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Congratulations young man. Again, we agree that the scientific community tends to overthink too much. Our bodies and nature have an amazing ability to remain in perfect harmony if we set them up for success.
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timing of nutritional supplements

Friendly User's Guide for the Timing of Nutritional Supplements

  • 856 
  • January 17, 2018 • 95,841 views
  • Edition: English



Story at-a-glance
  • Fifty-two percent of American adults reported using nutritional supplements in 2012, a statistic that has remained stable since 1999. Americans spent $21 billion on nutritional supplements in 2015
  • While the use of multivitamins has decreased somewhat, use of vitamin D and omega-3 supplements have dramatically increased between 1999 and 2012
  • While dietary supplements are generally safe, when and how you take them — such as with or without food, or before or after exercise — can make a difference both in terms of safety and effectiveness
  • Since multivitamins contain an array of both water- and fat-soluble vitamins, it’s generally recommended you take half of your daily dose in the morning, with breakfast, and the other half with your main meal
  • Studies have shown that taking antioxidant supplements immediately prior to exercise has the curious effect of decreasing insulin sensitivity. It also hampers your body’s ability to defend itself against oxidative damage
30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health
This article is part of the 30 Day Resolution Guide series. Each day a new tip will be added designed to help you take control of your health. For a complete list of the tips click HERE
By Dr. Mercola
According to an investigation published in JAMA in 2016, 52 percent of American adults reported using nutritional supplements in 2012, a statistic that has remained stable since 1999.1 While the use of multivitamins has decreased somewhat, from 37 to 31 percent in that timeframe, use of vitamin D and omega-3 supplements have dramatically increased.
Vitamin D use jumped from just over 5 percent to 19 percent, and fish oil supplements increased from just over 1 percent to 12 percent. Among the most popular supplements are probiotics, omega-3, multivitamins, vitamin C, turmeric, calcium and magnesium.2 In all, Americans spent an estimated $21 billion on nutritional supplements in 2015.3
While dietary supplements are generally safe, when and how you take them — such as with or without food, or before or after exercise4 — can make a difference both in terms of safety and effectiveness. Certain supplements may also be contraindicated for certain health conditions or if you’re taking a particular drug. Following, you’ll find helpful guidance on the use of common supplements, including many sold in my online store.
Quick Guide to the Timing of Supplements

On the Timing of Vitamins and Minerals
Since multivitamins contain an array of both water- and fat-soluble vitamins, and in some cases minerals as well, it’s generally recommended you take half of your daily dose in the morning, with breakfast, and the other half with your main meal (dinner for most people, or lunch if you’re intermittently fasting). While you may not notice any ill effects if you take it on an empty stomach, taking your multivitamins with food is a safer bet overall.
Both B vitamins and nonliposomal vitamin C may cause stomach upset and nausea when taken on an empty stomach, for example, and fat-soluble vitamins will do you little good unless you take them with a small amount of fat, such as an egg or half an avocado. Avoid going overboard on the fat, however, as too much grease can interfere with the absorption of water-based vitamins.
When taking individual vitamins and minerals, you may need to pay attention not only to the timing of them, but also their combination with other supplements you’re taking, and their ideal ratios. For example:
• Fat-soluble vitamin K2 is best taken with your largest meal that contains fat. This could be during the day or at your evening meal. Calcium can be taken during the day but magnesium is best taken at night, without food. Unfortunately, the ideal ratio of vitamin K2 to D is still undetermined, so there are no hard and fast rules here. Some experts suggest 200 micrograms of vitamin K2 per day will meet the needs of the “average” healthy person, but if you’re taking high-dose vitamin D, you’ll need a bit more.5
While nontoxic, people who are taking vitamin K antagonists, i.e., drugs that reduce blood clotting by reducing the action of vitamin K, are advised to avoid vitamin K2 (MK-7) supplements.
• Zinc, on the other hand, should not be taken with a calcium and/or iron supplement, as these may hinder your body’s absorption of zinc.
• Similarly, avoid taking calcium or vitamin E with iron, as these nutrients interfere with iron absorption. Iron is also best taken on an empty stomach, either in the midmorning or midafternoon.6
• Magnesium, which is one of the most important minerals to supplement with as most all of us are deficient, helps your body relax, is best taken in the evening, and can be taken with or without food. If you’re also taking calcium, take them together.
If you exercise regularly, consider taking your calcium and magnesium in a ratio of one part calcium to two parts magnesium with your pre-workout meal.7 While the ideal ratio of magnesium to calcium is thought to be 1-to-1, most people get far more calcium than magnesium from their diet; hence, your need for supplemental magnesium may be two to three times greater than calcium.
• Oral B12, which tends to be poorly absorbed no matter what, is best taken on an empty stomach to optimize absorption. This is less of an issue if you are using a sublingual form of B12. B12 may interact with a variety of medications,8 including those for bone loss, cancer, gout, high blood pressure and acid indigestion, such as H2 blockers and proton pump inhibitors, so check for contraindications before you start taking it on a regular basis.
Timing of Fats and Fiber Supplements
Fiber may inhibit your body’s absorption of fat, so most fiber supplements, including “green” supplements like powdered spirulina and kelp, are best taken separately from any fatty acid supplements you may be taking. If you’re working out, remember that fiber supplements will slow the movement of food through your stomach and intestines.
For this reason, fiber is best taken at least three or four hours before exercise or competition. Alternatively, take it toward the end of the day. Whole husk psyllium, which is an excellent fiber supplement, is ideally taken two hours after a meal with a full glass of water.
As for omega-3 supplements such as fish- or krill oil, these could potentially cause indigestion if taken immediately before a workout, so consider taking them with breakfast, along with any multivitamin you may be taking. Also keep in mind that krill oil supplements are contraindicated for those allergic to shellfish, and neither fish nor krill oil should be taken if you have a blood coagulation disorder or are on anticoagulant medication.
Timing of Enzymes and Probiotics
Enzymes such as bromelain, papain, trypsin and others are used not only as digestive aids but also for enhancing muscle recovery and decreasing inflammation. Depending on your aim, you’ll need to alter the timing. When taken with a meal, they will improve your digestion. For muscle enhancement and/or anti-inflammatory effects, you’ll want to take them on an empty stomach post-workout, either in the morning or afternoon.

Probiotics help improve your gut microbiome by supplying beneficial bacteria. They are best taken on an empty stomach, two to three hours before your first meal, or after your final meal for the day. Also remember that to reap the benefits from a probiotic supplement, you need to reduce your intake of processed foods and sugar. Otherwise, you’re essentially just throwing your money away.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

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Common Blood Pressure Drug Significantly increases risk of skin cancer

Common blood pressure drug significantly increases risk of skin cancer
Posted by: Lori Alton, staff writer in Drug Dangers January 14, 2018 0 Comments




(Naturalhealth365) Currently, 70 million Americans – nearly one third of the adult population of the United States – have high blood pressure, creating a drastically increased risk of life-threatening conditions such as heart attack and stroke.
To make matter even worse, research suggests that a drug commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure carries frightening health risks of its own. Studies have shown that hydrochlorothiazide, or HCTZ, is associated with an increased risk of lip and skin cancer – with alarming implications for the ten million Americans using HCTZ every year. (Fortunately, there is a way to avoid problems.)
Danish researchers: Blood pressure drug help responsible for significant number of skin cancer cases
In a review published in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Danish researchers evaluated over 80,000 skin cancer cases and reported that hydrochlorothiazide – one of the most commonly used diuretic and antihypertensive drugs in the United States and Western Europe – substantially increased the risk of basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma.
In fact, the evidence against HCTZ was so strong that study leaders theorized the drug could account for up to 11 percent of all Danish cases of squamous cell carcinoma.
The team found that cancer risk was associated directly with duration of use. People who took the drug daily for at least six years were 29 percent more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma – and almost four times more likely to get squamous cell carcinoma.
Warning: Long-term HCTZ use raises cancer risk even higher
Among those who had used HCTZ for decades, the cancer risk skyrocketed.
For example, patients who had taken HCTZ daily for 24 years experienced a 54 percent increase in their risk of basal cell carcinoma – and an astounding seven-fold increase in the risk of squamous cell carcinoma.
Study lead Anton Pottegard, Ph.D., a professor at the University of Southern Denmark, said that he hoped the results would lead to a reconsideration of the use of HCTZ. However, he warns against abruptly discontinuing HCTZ without medical guidance – and advises talking to your doctor.
Both basal cell cancer and squamous cell carcinoma are non-melanoma skin cancers with low mortality rates, and usually respond well to treatment. However, there is a small but real risk of squamous cell cancer spreading to other parts of the body. In addition, notes Dr. Pottegard, the surgery carries a “certain risk of impairment.”
The Danish team partnered with Dr. Armand B. Cognetta, Jr., chief of the Division of Dermatology at Florida State University. Noting that HCTZ makes the skin more vulnerable to damage from the sun’s ultraviolet rays, Dr. Cognetta reported that he had already noticed a “suspicious” prevalence of skin cancer among his patients who took HCTZ.
HCTZ linked to seven-fold increase in risk of lip cancer
In a study published last summer in the Journal of Internal Medicine, researchers found that HCTZ raised the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the lip.
As with the Danish study, the team found that increased risk coincided with duration of use. Patients who had taken HCTZ for over three years had a four-fold increase in risk, compared with those who had never taken the drug.
More than ten years of cumulative HCTZ use raised the risk of lip cancer seven-fold.
Researchers became aware of the danger of HCTZ after earlier research showed that a combination of HCTZ and amiloride, another antihypertensive drug, raised the risk of lip cancer.
Further studies excluding amiloride yielded similar results – causing the team to conclude that HCTZ substantially increased the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the lip. Keep in mind, the International Agency for Research on Cancer currently classifies HCTZ as a “possible human carcinogen.”
Good NEWS: You CAN lower blood pressure – naturally
Fortunately, certain foods (and supplements) can help lower blood pressure naturally – and safely.
Eating sweet, refreshing watermelon can cause beneficial drops in blood pressure. In a study published in American Journal of Hypertension, researchers discovered that watermelon significantly reduced blood pressure in overweight patients. Watermelon is rich in citrulline and arginine, a pair of amino acids that cause blood vessels to dilate and relax. (If watermelon is out of season in your area, you can take citrulline malate as a supplement).
Vitamin D suppresses the expression of renin, a hormone that can spike blood pressure. One study showed that vitamin D supplementation in wintertime helped lower the blood pressure of hypertensive patients who had low blood levels of the nutrient.
If you believe you are deficient in the “sunshine vitamin” (many people are!) — talk to your integrative doctor about supplementation. Natural health experts may advise 5,000 IU (or more) a day of vitamin D to help manage blood pressure. (depending on your current vitamin D status)
Pomegranate juice is rich in beneficial polyphenols, including anthocyanins, tannins and ellagic acid. These powerful antioxidants have been shown to help reduce blood pressure, while discouraging blood clots by decreasing the “stickiness” of blood platelets.
In one study, participants with blocked carotid arteries consumed pomegranate juice daily for three years – and experienced significant reductions in blood pressure.
Finally, buckwheat can be helpful in maintaining healthy blood pressure. Its “big gun” against hypertension is its content of rutin, a flavonoid shown to improve cardiovascular health.
This healthy grain is also rich in magnesium, a natural antihypertensive agent. In fact, in one study, buckwheat caused blood pressure to drop by 36 percent – a dramatic decrease.
Other foods with inherent blood pressure-lowering abilities include kale, garlic, beets, bananas, blueberries and the natural sweetener stevia.
Of course, if you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may not be able to rely solely on foods to control it – and you shouldn’t stop taking your prescribed medication without consulting with your healthcare provider. But, if you are one of the 10 million Americans currently taking hydrochlorothiazide, it’s probably a good idea to discuss the situation with your doctor.
Sources for this article include:

Hidden Pesticide on Your Produce

The Hidden Biopesticide on Your Produce

Posted on: Monday, January 15th 2018 at 1:45 pm
This article is copyrighted by GreenMedInfo LLC, 2018

Few would argue that consuming ample quantities of fruits and vegetables in the diet is a good idea, right? Fresh produce may be the only food on the planet that all diet gurus agree on, but did you know that you may be getting a chemically-applied dose of a known carcinogen every time you eat a piece of “fresh” fruit?
If you have been eating lots of produce as part of a healthy diet, it may shock you to learn that more than forty countries, including the United States, have promoted the use of a genotoxic, carcinogenic “freshness preserver,” applied to extend the shelf-life of fruits and vegetables. And despite vehement denials of any danger to the public, health concerns regarding the expanding use of this substance continue to mount.
Sold by U.S.-based company AgroFresh Solutions, Inc. under three different trade names, this patented preservation process applies a synthetic pesticide to fruit before it has ripened. The active ingredient in the pesticide, 1-methylcyclopropene (1-MCP), retards ripening by blocking ethylene receptors in the fruit from receiving the phytohormone ethylene - the plant’s chemical cue to ripen.[1] The trade names under which this rapidly expanding practice are operating are SmartFresh™ Technology, which is applied to produce post-harvest; Harvista™, applied to apple and pear orchards; and RipeLock™, applied to bananas after picking to retard ripening. Once applied, 1-MCP can retard ripening for up to one year.[2]
Per the manufacturer, SmartFresh technology is sold as a way to “reduce fruit waste” (marketing-speak for “increase profits”) and “maintain texture, firmness, taste and appearance of fruits by warding off negative ethylene effects.” In short, applying 1-MCP allows produce distributors to keep fruits and vegetables in storage much longer after harvest, while maintaining a fresh-looking and -tasting product to sell. Heralded as a breakthrough technology, it preserves profits for growers by allowing them to sell in-demand produce varieties during off-seasons.
Why it Matters
Marketed as “non-toxic”, the manufacturer states that SmartFresh “poses no risk to humans, animals or the environment, when used as recommended.” This marketing campaign has been very effective. Perceived as being low-risk to consumers, SmartFresh is approved for use on apples, pears, persimmons, plums, cherimoyas, kiwis, tomatoes, peaches, melons, mangoes, limes, and avocados, with more uses planned.[3] It is interesting to note that a “non-toxic” substance that “poses no risk to humans” is accompanied by safe handling instructions that specify anyone involved in application of the chemical “Wear long-sleeved shirt, long pants, shoes, socks, chemical-resistant gloves and safety glasses or goggles” while handling.[4] Nothing screams “safety” like a hazmat suit! Image credit: http://agrofresh.octochemstore.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/ProTabs_Pink_Use-Recommendations.pdf

The commercial implications of preserving the saleability of a produce harvest for an entire year are so significant, use of these technologies has spread across agricultural nations like a wildfire. 1-MCP has even penetrated the organic standards of several countries, with legislation knocking on the door of organic farming in the U.S. As of this writing, it is not allowable under the United States’ National Organic Program, however in mid-2016, a change was proposed to organic standards that would allow SmartFresh to be applied to tree fruits. The outcome of this proposal has not yet been announced.
With treated fruits lasting up to three times longer than non-treated fruits, the economic incentive is obvious. Organic standards are currently the only safeguard in place
to protect consumers from unknowingly ingesting toxic herbicides and pesticides. Organic standards should also strive to represent more localized, sustainable, and environmentally conscious agricultural practices. Are the organic standards in the United States strong enough to protect the public from the aggressive lobbying being done on behalf of these economic interests?
The most recent estimate available for the prevalence of this pesticide application comes from 2006, when approximately 60 percent of apples sold in the United States were treated with SmartFresh.[5] In 2018, this percentage has undoubtedly increased. And while it is not approved for use under current organic standards, there is only one test for 1-MCP, devised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and it is rarely employed. The test, which uses a radioisolated analytical method, detects 1-MCP residue on fruits and vegetables for up to 90 days post-treatment.[6] This test is considered expensive in the industry, as well as limited in effectiveness. As a result, testing for 1-MCP residue is rarely performed, helping foster conditions under which its use can go undetected. Testing is further hindered by an extraordinary EPA exemption from a set legal limit or tolerance level on surface residues.[7]
A new testing method is being pioneered that may help safeguard against unscrupulous agricultural practices that attempt to pass off chemically-treated produce as organic. The new test checks genetic activity, rather than surface residues of produce. According to the test developer, “Fruit treated with 1-MCP shows little or no genetic activity,” thus setting it apart from truly organic fruit. This test can also be used to predict the optimum time for picking fruit, allowing for greater control over quality without jumping into the toxic pesticide pool.[8] Whether this test will voluntarily be adopted is yet to be determined. Pressure from consumers for organic watchdogs to maintain the integrity of these standards is essential on local, state, and federal levels.
There are at least two groups of individuals who must take note of this issue: agricultural workers who are routinely exposed to high doses of this pesticide, and health-conscious individuals who strive to eat an optimized diet, comprised of multiple servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Research into the health implications for both groups of people presents serious challenges. Despite there being nearly 300 abstracts on 1-MCP on PubMed, the US National Institutes of Health’s database of scientific studies, research on human and environmental effects is scant. A 2005 peer review and meta-analysis by the European Union (EU) and the European Food Safety Authority that was published in EFSA Journal, highlighted the difficulties in making a thorough determination of the health and safety implications of 1-MCP. First, there are actual physical challenges: “At high concentrations, [1-MCP] is energetically self-reactive and becomes explosive if it is allowed to warm in a closed container. These properties present practical difficulties when conducting studies.” Perhaps most noteworthy is a deep-seated presumption of safety around this substance, which has created a climate in which testing is simply not done.  Despite requests from the aforementioned researchers for a thorough review of studies on 1-MCP, submissions were not available on the effects of feeding 1-MCP-treated foods to animals. Nor were studies submitted on long-term human exposure, neurotoxicity or reproductive toxicity. In addition, according to the researchers, “No analytical methods for the determination of residues in soil and water have been required, since 1-methylcyclopropene is a gas and it is unlikely to reach these compartments.” Kind of like how mustard gas doesn’t reach the soils and waters around exposure sites?

Human reactivity data were only available from inhalation studies, which showed that 10% of 1-MCP inhaled into the lungs on each breath was absorbed into the bloodstream. Results of blood analysis determined that “1-MCP is not acutely toxic. Based on available data, 1-MCP gave negative results in in-vitro and in-vivo genotoxicity assays. However, two impurities, 1-chloro-2-methylpropene (1-CMP) and 3-chloro2-methylpropene (3-CMP)...are reported to give positive results in genotoxicity studies and are carcinogenic. Thus, a classification of 1-MCP as T-R46 is proposed.” Let’s break down what this means. The substance, in stable form, is not “acutely toxic.” Reference the hazmat suit and extremes of caution outlined in the safe handling guidelines if you believe this claim! Once the substance is activated, the real cautionary tale begins. 1-CMP, which is emitted during activation, is defined as “a clear, colorless, highly volatile and flammable liquid chlorinated hydrocarbon that emits highly toxic fumes of hydrochloric acid and other chlorinated compounds when heated to decomposition.” This substance literally becomes a chemical weapon on par with hydrogen chloride gas! 3-CMP is the other chlorinated compound that is released, also believed to be a human carcinogen. When heated, 3-CMP emits toxic fumes of hydrochloric acid and other chlorinated compounds.[9] Regarding the researchers proposed T-R46 classification, according to the International Chemical Safety Classification, T=Toxic, while R signifies “Harmful by inhalation” and “Dangerous for the ozone layer.” The number 46 spans a range between 20-59, denoting degree of risk. It is noteworthy that once a chemical reaches 40, humans can experience “Possible risks of irreversible effects” due to exposure.[10] Besides the cumulative, long-term risks of exposure to these carcinogenic, chlorinated compounds, researchers noted “In the short-term toxicity studies that were peer-reviewed, effects on red blood cells were also observed.”
The fallback argument for the EPA and FDA to allow these chemicals into our food supply, is the “allowable limits” clause. Allowable limits are set for our air quality, water purity, soil contamination levels, and even our food chain. 1-MCP levels that have previously been detectable on produce, if tests were performed, have fallen under the hypothetically-derived safety levels set for health and human safety. However, absence of data does not denote zero risk. When 1-MCP binds to the ethylene receptors in fruits and vegetables, the bond is permanent. This means we are ingesting this pesticide, in quantities that vary based on how many days post-treatment when the produce is consumed. Another factor being how much treated produce we are consuming. AgroFresh’s proliferating 1-MCP technologies have been in use in the United States fruit market for more than 15 years. With the limited amount of research into human and animal exposures over what is now the long-term, consumers who care about food safety enough to buy organic cannot afford to lose these critical protections.
Our levels of unwitting exposure will continue to increase as new ways to use these technologies are developed. Many of the current laws regarding 1-MCP were developed when the substance was only approved for use inside well-sealed containers, an effort to mitigate environmental risk. However, Harvista technology, also based on 1-MCP, is sprayed directly onto fruit orchards and vegetable fields.[11] As use spreads globally, and environmental protections wane, our organic food standards may be all that stand between the health-conscious consumer and questionable farming practices. 1-MCP may be the trojan horse that is already inside the city gates.
For additional research on pesticides, visit our database on the subject.




References























The GMI Research Group (GMIRG) is dedicated to investigating the most important health and environmental issues of the day.  Special emphasis will be placed on environmental health.  Our focused and deep research will explore the many ways in which the present condition of the human body directly reflects the true state of the ambient environment.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.
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Monday, January 15, 2018

Geoengineering Watch Global Alert News, January 13, 2018, #127 ( Dane Wi...

Echinacea

Not Just For Colds: Echinacea's Many Evidence-Based Uses

Posted on: Monday, January 15th 2018 at 5:00 am
This article is copyrighted by GreenMedInfo LLC, 2018

Echinacea is a popular herb to shorten the common cold and flu, as well as reduce sore throat, cough, and fever. Science backs up the power of echinacea to treat upper respiratory tract infections and much more. Here are just 8 proven health benefits of echinacea of potentially 100+ signaled in the peer-reviewed, published research. 
Echinacea is a little plant with big healing power.  Its name comes from the Greek word for hedgehog (echinos) because its prickly seed head resembles the spines of angry hedgehog.
Native Americans have used echinacea for more than 400 years to treat infections and wounds.  Before the introduction of antibiotics it was used for scarlet fever, syphilis, malaria, blood poisoning, and diphtheria. Use by the medical community in the U.S. has fallen off but it has become increasingly popular in Europe and especially Germany. 
Herbalists recommend echinacea to shorten the duration of the common cold and flu, and reduce sore throat, cough, and fever. Science backs up the power of echinacea to treat upper respiratory tract infections and much more. 
Here are just 8 proven health benefits of echinacea.
1. Common Cold
Extracts of echinacea are widely used in many countries to prevent or treat the common cold.  In Germany alone, there are more than 200 different echinacea products on the market.  A review of 16 trials by the respected Cochrane Collaboration found that echinacea products can probably help prevent and treat the common cold.
In a Swiss review of three studies, researchers looked at the effects of echinacea on people intentionally infected with the rhinovirus.  They found that the likelihood of developing a clinical cold was 55 percent higher with placebo than with echinacea.  They suggested that standardized extracts of echinacea were effective in the prevention of symptoms of the common cold after clinical inoculation.
Another meta-analysis from the University of Connecticut  School of Pharmacy reviewed 14 studies.  Researchers found that echinacea decreased the odds of developing the common cold by 58 percent.  It also cut short the duration of a cold by 1.4 days.  They concluded that echinacea is beneficial in decreasing the incidence and duration of the common cold.
Studies show that drinking echinacea tea at the first signs of the cold or flu can reduce the severity and duration of the illness. It also can be taken as a preventive measure.  In a study of 80 healthy athletes given echinacea, 71 percent were free of cold episodes.
And it can keep a cold from returning.  A meta-analysis of six studies found that people with higher susceptibility or stress, or weakened immunity cut their risk of a recurrent respiratory infection in half with echinacea.   They also had fewer complications like pneumonia, ear infections, and tonsillitis.
Another study 524 children ages 2 to 11 years found that treating a cold with echinacea led to a 28 percent decreased risk of a second upper respiratory infection.
And echinacea is effective for treating sore throats.  In a study of 154 patients with sore throats researchers found that a spray combining echinacea and sage was just as effective as a chlorhexidine/ lidocaine spray. Echinacea was effective in 63.8 percent of patients.
2. Influenza
Echinacea may even be more effective than flu medications.  In a randomized, double-blind, double-dummy, multicenter, controlled clinical trial researchers compared a hot echinacea drink with oseltamivir (Tamiflu), the gold standard treatment for influenza.  In the trial, 473 patients with early influenza symptoms were given either oseltamivir or the echinacea formulation.  Results showed that echinacea was just as effective as the flu drug but had far fewer complications or adverse events.

3. Boosts Immunity
In an Australian pilot study, 11 healthy individuals took echinacea tablets daily for 14 days.  At the end of the test period, researchers observed signs of increased immune activity including increased white cell counts. They also found an antioxidant effect of the echinacea. 
And researchers from the University of California Irvine Medical Center found that extracts of echinacea helped stimulate immune function in cells taken from normal individuals and from patients with either chronic fatigue syndrome or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.
4. Eye Infections
In an Italian study 51 patients with low-grade, steroid dependent, autoimmune uveitis (inflammation of the middle level of the eye) received conventional steroid treatment.  But half the patients also received 150 mg of echinacea twice a day.  Uveitis was resolved in 28 out of 32 patients taking echinacea.  In addition, the echinacea group reduced steroid use by about 70 percent more than the control group. 
5. Supports Red Blood Cells
In a study of 24 healthy young men, subjects received either a placebo or 8,000 mg of echinacea in four doses of 2,000 mg four times a day.  Blood samples taken during the 28 day trial showed that the echinacea group had up to a 63 percent greater level of erythropoietin (EPO).  EPO is a hormone that promotes the formation of red blood cells by the bone marrow. 
6.  Reduces Wrinkles
Researchers in Thailand tested topical cream and gel containing echinacea on 10 healthy volunteers, aged 25-40 years. After one month measures of skin hydration increased significantly.  Topical echinacea reduced wrinkles by up to 14.92 percent.
7. Protects Against Radiation Damage
A study from Serbia looked at chromosome aberrations in lymphocytes among workers exposed to radiation.  All of the workers were given 275 mg echinacea tablets.  At the end of the treatment aberrations in lymphocyte chromosomes dropped significantly.  In addition, the number of defective cells that self-destructed increased. The researchers concluded that echinacea may be beneficial for the prevention of adverse health effects in workers exposed to radiation.
8. Reduces Chemo Side Effects
In a German study researchers isolated a polysaccharide fraction from the herb echinacea.  They injected the echinacea compound in 15 cancer patients receiving chemotherapy starting three days before their first treatment.  Two weeks after the chemo treatments, leukocytes (white blood cells) were about 50 percent higher in the patients receiving the echinacea treatment compared to a control group. Researchers suggested the echinacea treatment may be effective in reducing chemotherapy-induced leucopenia (low white blood cell count).
Echinacea is available in extracts, tinctures, tablets, capsules, and ointments. It can be found in health food stores and on the internet.

For an exhaustive selection of research on echinacea's potential health benefits in over 100 conditions visit GreenMedInfo’s research database on Echinacea.

Friday, January 12, 2018

How to Grow Milk Thistle

How to Grow Milk Thistle

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Story at-a-glance
  • While most people actually consider milk thistle a pesky weed, and it can be quite invasive, its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-viral benefits make it worth keeping around
  • This tall, thorny herb with bright magenta or purple flowers has been around for more than 2,000 years and is highly regarded as a liver tonic due to a group of flavonoids known as silymarin
  • Silymarin supports the overall functioning of your liver, and can also be used therapeutically for cirrhosis of the liver, chronic liver inflammation and liver damage from alcohol and other toxic substances
  • Before attempting to grow milk thistle, check with your local cooperative extension office to ensure it is not considered an invasive species and therefore restricted in your area; if it is, you can still enjoy the many health benefits of milk thistle in capsule, extract, oil or powder form
By Dr. Mercola
Most people actually consider milk thistle a pesky weed, and while it can be quite invasive, it also possesses remarkable medicinal benefits that make it worth keeping around. Most notably, this tall, thorny herb with spiky flowers has been prized for centuries for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral properties. It is also highly regarded as a liver tonic due to high amounts of a chemical compound known as silymarin.
Silymarin is a group of flavonoids (silibinin, silidianin and silicristin) known to help repair your liver cells when they’ve been damaged by toxic substances. These flavonoids also protect new liver cells from being destroyed by toxins. As such, milk thistle greatly improves the overall functioning of your liver, with specific applications related to cirrhosis of the liver, chronic liver inflammation and liver damage from alcohol and other intoxicating substances.
While all parts of the milk thistle plant are edible, silymarin is contained in the seeds only. Because a single plant produces thousands of seeds that spread very easily, you’d be wise to check with your local cooperative extension office to find out if milk thistle is considered an invasive species in your area. If it is, you may be banned from growing it.
The History of Milk Thistle
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) — also known as Mary thistle and holy thistle — is a common flowering herb1,2 within the Asteraceae family. Some of its close relatives include aster, daisy, dandelion, sunflower and ragweed. It is highly regarded for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antiviral properties and has been used in traditional Chinese, European and Ayurvedic medicine for more than 2,000 years. It originated in Southern Europe, Asia Minor and the Mediterranean region, but now grows wild around the world.
Under almost any conditions, milk thistle grows 3 to 4 feet tall, featuring glossy, milky-white veined leaves and bright magenta or purple flowers beset with prickly spines. Its name results from the milky white sap its leaves release when they’re crushed. Since its healing properties were first described in 40 A.D. by Greek physician and botanist Dioscorides, particularly related to treating snakebites,3 milk thistle has been used to treat a variety of ailments.
Today, milk thistle is available in a capsule, extract or powder form shown to benefit your liver, gallbladder, heart or prostate. According to the National Institutes of Health, silymarin is the most commonly used herbal supplement in the U.S. for liver problems.4 It is also useful as an essential oil.
Considerations Before Growing Milk Thistle at Home
Before you think about planting milk thistle in your garden or yard, be sure to check with your local cooperative extension to ensure it is not banned. Washington state5 recognizes the plant as a “Class A Noxious Weed” that must be eradicated when found. Although occasionally found in gardens, it is illegal to buy or sell milk thistle in Washington state.
Arkansas and Oregon also have restrictions. Even if you live elsewhere and are permitted to plant it, be forewarned: Milk thistle is a highly invasive weed that can quickly spread all over your yard, and neighboring yards as well. Milk thistle spreads quickly based on the reality a single flower head contains nearly 200 seeds.
Because these seeds germinate in temperatures ranging anywhere from 32 to 86 degrees F, this hardy plant can remain viable for nearly a decade. Once it is established and its seeds are allowed to spread, you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to stop it. Because milk thistle is also toxic to livestock, you will want to take care in planting it outdoors if you live on a farm or maintain farm animals of any kind.
How to Grow Milk Thistle
Barring those concerns, you’ll find milk thistle is easy to grow. It will tolerate any soil, and can get by even in drought conditions. Basically, you can plant them and leave them and they will still thrive. Below are steps you can take to plant milk thistle in your garden or yard:6,7
Directions
  • Choose a sunny or lightly shaded area
  • Direct sow milk thistle seeds in the spring after the last expected frost
  • Place seeds shallowly — at a depth of about a quarter of an inch — in groups of three to four seeds each
  • Space seed groupings about 30 to 36 inches apart
  • Water well to encourage growth (alternately, you can soak the seeds in water for 24 hours prior to planting them)
  • After seedlings appear, thin each group to the one strongest plant
  • Seeds will germinate in about three weeks in temperatures around 54 to 59 degrees F
When starting seedlings indoors, plant seeds about two months before the last frost. Fill starter pots with peat moss and follow the planting instructions above. Milk thistle seeds sown directly outdoors produce biennial plants in most climates, which means they will flower their second season. Plants started indoors are grown as annuals and will flower in the first year.
Milk thistle flowers attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. In addition, many species of birds seek out the seeds for food. During late summer when the flowers dry out, it’s common to see birds clinging to the spiny stalks of milk thistle and swaying in the wind as they chomp away on the seeds.
Harvesting Milk Thistle
Given their many thorns, it is best to put on a pair of thick gardening gloves before attempting to touch milk thistle, especially when harvesting their flowers for seeds. Keep in mind the average milk thistle plant may possess upward of 6,000 seeds! About 90 percent of them will remain viable after harvest.8
If you plan to collect seeds, you will want to harvest them before the plants fully mature. If the plants mature unattended, the seed heads will break on their own, making seed harvesting impossible. This is because when milk thistle flowers begin to dry out (usually in the fall), they produce silvery-white, tufted seed heads known as pappus (similar to dandelions). To extract the seeds from the flower heads you will need to:9,10
  • Cut dried blossoms off the plant from the base of the flower head
  • Place the flower heads in a paper bag and keep the bag in a warm location for about a week to allow them to dry completely
  • Put the dried flower heads into a burlap sack, shake the bag well and then use your hands to coax the remaining seeds from the heads
  • Dump the seeds into a bucket and separate out the unwanted chaff
  • Once all the chaff is removed, store your milk thistle seeds in an airtight container in a cool, dark place until you’re ready to use them
How Milk Thistle Benefits Liver Health
Whether or not you are able to grow your own, high-quality, organic milk thistle is inexpensive and readily available at your local health food store. Under the direction of your doctor, you may want to consider adding milk thistle to your diet if you are dealing with a liver-based problem such as:11
Additionally, animal studies involving silymarin suggest it is useful to reduce liver injury caused by a number of drugs and environmental toxins, including:12
Acetaminophen (Tylenol)
Alcohol, drugs and psychotropic medications
Chemotherapy and radiation
Industrial chemicals such as carbon tetrachloride, toluene and xylene13
Poisonous liquids such as phenylhydrazine
Seven Health Benefits of Milk Thistle
In case you are wondering how milk thistle can benefit you if you do not have liver issues, check out these seven additional ways milk thistle is purported to support your health:14,15
Assists with antioxidant activity
Milk thistle seeds contain a potent antioxidant called silymarin, which helps your body fight free radicals and reduce inflammation
Boosts prostate health
Silymarin and a related milk thistle compound called isosilybin B not only have been shown to support prostate health through normal cell development, but also to be effective in the treatment of prostate cancer.16
Counteracts mushroom poisoning
Intravenous administration of silymarin is the only known remedy used to stabilize cell membranes and inhibit absorption of toxins from Amanita phalloides. This deadly mushroom, known as the death cap, is commonly mistaken for edible varieties.
Encourages healthy skin
Due to its antioxidant properties, silymarin is believed to have protective effects on your skin. In lab research, it has exhibited preventive and anticancer effects against skin cancer.17
Improves lipid profiles
Most likely due to the presences of silymarin, along with other flavonoids, milk thistle is thought to encourage proper lipid absorption and synthesis in your body. A 2012 study18 showed silymarin was effective to significantly reduced LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and triglyceride levels, while significantly elevating HDL (“good”) levels.
Promotes normal blood sugar
Research suggests silymarin decreases fasting blood sugar levels. Authors of one such study said: “[S]ilymarin treatment in Type 2 diabetic patients … has a beneficial effect on improving the glycemic profile.”19
Supports your liver, kidneys and gallbladder
Milk thistle has long been known to support your liver, kidneys and gallbladder health. Silymarin helps your liver grow new cells by boosting protein synthesis, and it has been effective in addressing toxin-induced liver aliments, including the treatment of liver diseases and liver cancer.20 It protects your kidneys against inflammation, free radical damage and toxins. Silymarin has also been shown to prevent the formation of gallstones.21
How to Use Milk Thistle
Given its many health benefits, you may be interested in knowing how to use milk thistle. Below are some ways you can incorporate this unique herb into your diet:22
  • Powdered: Use a mortar and pestle to crush milk thistle seeds into a powder that can be added to soups, stir-fries and other dishes
  • Salads: Because the entire plant is edible, you can add milk thistle flowers, leaves, roots and stalks to salads or incorporate them into cooked dishes
  • Smoothies: For a healthy liver smoothie,23 soak 2 tablespoons of milk thistle seeds in filtered water overnight; the next morning, add the milk thistle (and soaking water), 1 cup of lemon juice,1/3 cup of lycium berries and 1.5 cups of ice to your blender and combine until smooth
  • Snacks: Although it may be a bit of an acquired taste, milk thistle seeds can be eaten dry, as is
  • Tea: Crush either or both milk thistle seeds and dried leaves to make a loose tea blend you can steep in an infuser with hot water; add a healthy sweetener of your choice to tone down the somewhat bitter flavor, or add a peppermint teabag for a different taste sensation24
Milk Thistle Oil
In addition to oral milk thistle supplements, you can also purchase it in essential oil form. Extracted from the ripe seeds, milk thistle oil is abundant in sterols, essential fatty acids, antioxidants and vitamin E, giving it nutritive and skin-protective properties.25 It may actually help soothe skin problems like acne, eczema and rosacea.26 Milk thistle oil is also commonly added to cosmetics. Here’s one way you can use milk thistle oil on your hair:27
  • Add one drop of milk thistle oil to 10 drops of your preferred carrier oil
  • Massage the diluted oil all over your scalp 10 minutes before showering
  • Wash and style your hair as usual
Buying Milk Thistle Supplements
You can find milk thistle at most health food stores under the names silymarin or silybum. Your best options are extracts of milk thistle with silybum or silymarin standardized to 70 to 80 percent. The recommended daily intake is 420 milligrams in divided doses.28 While you can stay on milk thistle indefinitely, it is not generally recommended. Be sure to consult with your doctor before taking milk thistle on a continuing basis, especially if you are using other medications.
Is Milk Thistle Right for You?
If you have concerns about your liver health or are interested in any of the other potential health benefits — anticancer, antidiabetic and heart-boosting properties — of silymarin, you may want to give milk thistle a try. If you are not able to grow it in your area, a high-quality milk thistle supplement may be worth considering. While milk thistle is the richest known source, you can also find silymarin in artichokes, turmeric and coriander (cilantro).
Despite its many beneficial properties, milk thistle is not for everyone. According to WebMD, you should not take milk thistle if any of the following conditions apply:29

  • You experience bloating, diarrhea, gas, nausea or an upset stomach after taking it
  • You are breastfeeding or pregnant
  • You have a ragweed allergy
  • You have cancer of the breast, uterus or ovaries, endometriosis or fibroid tumors (mainly because milk thistle can mimic the effects of estrogen)