Dr Wendi's Health

Category Archives: Supplements

curcumin

Curcumin is the active chemical in the spice turmeric.  It has long been known that curcumin has many beneficial effects on inflammatory conditions, cancer, and infections.  A 2019 article in Frontiers in Microbiology further investigated the antibacterial and antiviral actions of curcumin and found that it was very effective against several viruses including influenza, hepatitis C, HIV, as well as strains of bacteria that can cause secondary infections after viral infections such as staphylococcus, streptococcus, and pseudomonas. This is the chemical structure of curcumin. Turmeric is in the same family of plants as ginger, which also has anti-inflammatory properties.  Curcumin is the principle component of the yellow pigment, which is the major bioactive substance. Several herbs have been shown to have some antiviral effects including: Curcumin Oregano Sage Garlic Ginger Green tea Cinnamon Ginseng Dandelion How does Curcumin work? Some recent studies have found that curcumin is significantly effective in…

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virus

As COVID-19 makes its way through the population it is important to consider how we can help our immune system cope with viral infections. In my previous article I described how our immune system generally deals with viral infections.  In this article, I will discuss the specific role of vitamin D in viral infections.   Vitamin D deficiency is recognized as a global public health problem and has linked with a variety of diseases including an increase in severity of viral infections.  There are a few key ways that vitamin D has an impact: Induction of antimicrobial peptides Antimicrobial peptides play an important role in the innate (non-specific) early immune response.  Antimicrobial peptides can directly or indirectly kill microbes and they also stimulate the monocyte/macrophage response.  Macrophages are immune cells that engulf infectious organisms as well as dead cells and they “present” antigens on their surface in order to activate specific…

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GABA and anxiety

GABA stands for Gamma Amino butyric acid.  GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that decreases the stimulatory effects of excitatory neurotransmitters.  Without inhibition, our brain would be constantly over-stimulated and that would feel like anxiety and to some extremes, panic.  GABA is the most calming neurotransmitter we have.  Glutamate is one of the primary stimulating neurotransmitters in our brain that helps us to think, problem-solve, learn, and remember.  It is ideal to have a balance between GABA and glutamate so that we can think and problem-solve but also remain calm. How are GABA and glutamate produced? Glutamate is made from an amino acid called glutamine.  Glutamine is found in many plant and animal foods and should be easily acquired in a healthy diet.  Glutamate production is increased when we have stress so that we can think and problem-solve, and under normal conditions, an increase in glutamate should stimulate an increase in…

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tea theanine

After water, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world.  It contains a unique amino acid called L-theanine that has several beneficial effects on our brain because it increases the levels of some hormones and neurotransmitters that make us feel good. Theanine increases molecules that affect mood Serotonin – makes us feel calm and content.  Low serotonin levels are highly linked with depression. Most of the serotonin we produce is made in the digestive system when we eat, this is why we feel so good and content after eating.  The serotonin produced in the digestive tract travels through the blood to the brain and tells the brain we feel good.  This is a survival benefit because we associate eating and acquiring nutrients with feeling good….also, it may be one reason why some people use food for comfort.  Perhaps tea can help reduce the need for comfort food because…

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Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that has several important functions in our body.  Getting into the winter months, it may be time to think about adding a vitamin D supplement.  Studies show that approximately 40-50% of North Americans and about 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in vitamin D. Vitamin D is primarily made in the stratum basale layer of our skin when we are exposed to UVB sunlight (below I made a diagram of the steps involved in its production). We can get some from consuming liver, eggs, oily fish, mushrooms, and fortified milk but food is only a minor source compared to sun exposure or supplementation. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in our liver so there is a supply to draw on for a period of time.  If you had about 10-20 minutes of sun exposure a few days per week during the summer, you likely have…

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Powdered berry and vegetable supplements

There are several fruit and vegetable powder supplements on the market and many people add a scoop to smoothies, protein shakes, or add to cereal or soups as a serving or two of vegetables.  Are they worth it?  Are nutrients retained?  I had a look at the research. One study looked at the effects of the NanoGreens vegetable supplement in 40 people with hypertension (17 in the treated group taking the greens).  The group taking the greens took 1 scoop (12g) per day.  The greens supplements contained dried and powdered green plant foods, fruit, vegetables included all colours (colour pigments are very healthy!), herbs, teas, lecithin, and oat and rice bran. After 90 days both systolic and diastolic blood pressure was significantly reduced from an average of 140/90 to 128/83.  That is quite a significant reduction in just 90 days! Another study looked at Greens+.  They looked at different factors;…

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Lion's Mane mushroom

Lion’s Mane is a type of mushroom that has been shown to have some extraordinary health benefits.  It is Hericium erinaceus, also known as Yamabushitake, but most commonly called Lion’s mane.  A review article published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry in 2015 reviewed 139 primary research papers that describe the myriad of chemical compounds and their exceptional bioactive effects and lack of toxicity in rodents and humans. Most of this research is still in the stage of cell culture and animal studies but it looks extremely promising for humans and even for pets.  Lion’s Mane contains around 70 different metabolites that can be divided into 5 categories of organic compounds including erinacines (have neuroprotective properties), aromatic compounds, sterols (anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties), alkaloids, and lactones. It has been shown to be beneficial for the following by either eating the mushroom fruiting bodies, consuming dried mushroom ground into…

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happy brain

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that makes us feel calm and good.  It is commonly called the happy hormone but it doesn’t technically make us excited happy; that feeling comes from a combination of serotonin and dopamine.  When we don’t have enough serotonin can feel the following in varying degrees: Depression Loss of interest in things we normally enjoy Irritability Lack of motivation (due to a decrease in dopamine) Easily overwhelmed Less social Lower pain tolerance Lethargy/ fatigue Hopeless Still feeling tired after sleeping Changes in appetite Loss of sex drive Poor ability to regulate body temperature Low serotonin is a physiological situation that is not fixed with phrases like ‘look on the bright side’ or ‘things could be worse’.  Those expressions are well-meaning but the brain doesn’t make more serotonin when the person hears these kinds of comments.  Serotonin is made from an amino acid called tryptophan that is converted…

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