Issue 45, March 2012
Welcome to Issue 45 of our Newsletter!
Ok, it’s not really spring yet, but almost. Just a week away! Last week, I was at a clinical conference in Long Beach, CA and had the joy of soaking up some natural vitamin D (my freckles are out!). And all the bright green, spring sprouting out there got me thinking about the amazing, healing power of herbs.
A number of you emailed me with more questions about curcumin (last month’s feature) and sharing your successes with it! I answer one in particular about cancer in this issue. This month, I want to introduce you to another amazing herbal remedy: berberine. Because you are not going to believe how powerful this simple herbal extract is in managing high blood sugar (insulin resistance) and improving metabolic syndrome. No joke. Diabetes is near to my heart because my mother (whom I adore – she is my hero) wrestles with it. And I know first-hand from my client successes that you can absolutely reverse Type II diabetes. Please don’t let anyone convince you otherwise!
I also want to tell you about several exciting events coming up soon….
If you want to know more about blood sugar control, insulin resistance, and reversing diabetes, consider joining us for the Diabetes Be Gone! A New Beginning seminar on Saturday, May 5th from 9-11am in Ashland.
With warm weather around the corner, it’s also time for our annual Ultimate Spring Cleanse program which begins in early April. Clean out the mucus, congestion, and gunk, lose a few pounds, and get ready for a light, active, inflammation-free summer. This is a virtual program, so you can participate from anywhere in the world (literally – last year, a lovely woman from New Zealand joined us!). Registration is underway.
More immediately, consider joining us in the metrowest Boston area for my next walking nutrition tour of Whole Foods Market on Framingham this Saturday, March 17th from 9-11am. A rich, detailed introduction to a wide array of nutrition truths, healthy eating ideas, and sampling of some foods that might be new to you. Space is limited, so please call the store directly to register at (508)628-9525.
And we have just a few seats left for Wine and Chocolate: Decadence That’s Good for You! This year’s celebration will be next Saturday, March 24th at 7pm in Ashland. Always a fun event for couples and singles alike. Come sample and savor delicious flavors while learning some surprising facts about how they affect your body.
No matter what you are suffering from, spring is a wonderful time to prioritize yourself for a new beginning!
Eat on purpose. Live on purpose.
Blood Sugar Busting Berberine
No, not berber (like the carpet): it’s berberine. You may have heard of it before. Just like curcumin, berberine is a plant extract (for the botanically savvy, an alkaloid). And it’s been used for eons as a natural antibiotic. I’ve used it successfully in my practice to help people who choose natural treatment (as opposed to prescription antibiotics) for all sorts of unwelcome microbial infections…bacteria, yeast, viruses, parasites. Berberine is extracted from a number of medicinal herbs, most commonly oregon grape root, barberry, and goldenseal (what you see in the picture above).
But that’s only the beginning of berberine’s power. A couple of ground-breaking 2008 clinical studies found that berberine regulates blood sugar in Type II diabetes just as well as the blockbuster drug Metformin (and with no side effects!). No, I am not exaggerating. In peer-reviewed studies in the medical journals Metabolism and the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, berberine was found to lower both fasting and post-prandial (after eating) blood sugar and insulin EQUALLY as well as Metformin (the most common brand of the generic drug glucophage). And beyond blood sugar, berberine also reduced those participants’ triglycerides by 35% and their LDL cholesterol by 21% and their blood pressure by 7/5 mm Hg (three things Metformin can’t and doesn’t claim to do)!
Berberine works because it activates a primal metabolism-regulating enzyme in the body called AMPK. When we are producing less ATP (energy) in our cells, the body secretes AMPK to ensure our survival in times of crisis. This is the same enzyme that gets triggered with severe calorie restriction (which has been shown to prolong life in animals, but it’s not very fun in my opinion). AMPK stimulates your cells to take in more blood sugar, thus improving insulin sensitivity. But it also slows your liver’s own production of extra blood sugar (a key issue for most Type II diabetics). By supporting your liver, berberine also slows the release of free fatty acids into the blood (triglycerides) and boosts natural fat-burning in your mitochondria (the little energy factories in all your cells that turn fuel into energy).
For the typical adult, berberine is effective for blood-sugar management taken 400-500mg at once, twice or thrice a day. To ensure you get an effective dose each time, I suggest choosing a product with a standardized berberine extract (as opposed to a whole-herb product like goldenseal). I recommend Thorne’s Berbercap product or (if you are struggling with GI issues as well, like gas and bloating) try the multi-herbal formula Metagenics CandiBactin-BR. On a side note, if you do decide to continue taking Metformin, please, please make sure you take a daily B12 supplement. A significant side effect of Metformin is that it depletes your body’s B12 supply, making neuropathy an even bigger risk than it already is for diabetics. Take 1000mcg methyl-cobalamin (not cyano-cobalamin) daily on a full stomach. An easy-to-find, high-quality brand is Jarrow Methyl-B12, available on-line or at Whole Foods Market.
If you are an insulin-dependent diabetic, be sure to monitor your blood sugar carefully when you start berberine or any new therapy (and consult your doctor if you’re uncomfortable doing so on your own). Start with just one dose/day and increase slowly to ensure you can stay in control. You may need to cut back on your insulin dramatically to avoid dangerous lows. But you can do it! Most of my clients eventually end up able to stop both Metformin and supplemental insulin. Ultimately all Type II diabetics should work on sustainable lifestyle and diet change to be able to stop supplemental insulin in particular. While life-saving as a short-term, triage therapy, long-term insulin use makes Type II diabetics even less healthy. Surplus insulin promotes more inflammation in the body, increases body fat storage, and increases your risk of heart disease.
The miracle of berberine – a plant. I know. This all sounds so amazing that it’s probably hard for you to believe. But it’s true. I’ve seen it in action. Perhaps like you, I too find it amazing that these natural (proven!) remedies don’t typically make media headlines. And this one is from 2008 – four years ago. I understand you can’t patent an herb. And so no big corporation stands to make gobs of money from promoting a “shocking new finding” for something that anyone can grow and sell. But this is BIG news for the millions of people struggling with diabetes! And actually, it’s not the only natural remedy I’ve seen successfully stabilize and then reverse Type II diabetes. Don’t let negative media shape your thoughts and make you think you are “doomed” or “destined” to live your entire life with Type II diabetes. You have choices!
Curcumin: an Effective Cancer Therapy?
Hi Tracy -
Thanks for the article about curcumin. I’ve read somewhere too, I think, that it is useful for cancer therapy. Is that true? Can you tell me some more about that?
Yes, you are right! Literally dozens of studies have explored and proven curcumin’s cancer-fighting power. As I shared in last month’s feature, curumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory herb. In low doses, curcumin also functions as an anti-oxidant. But in high doses, curcumin exerts a strong pro-oxidant effect, creating free radicals that can kill cancer cells. As you may already know, cancer cells cannot thrive in an oxygen-rich environment, and curcumin can flood them with oxygen. Curcumin also down-regulates a powerful inflammation regulator in the body called NF-kappa B. This effect also makes conventional treatment like chemo and radiation more effective, and curcumin helps to protect normal cells from radiation. You can easily find fascinating, free webinars on this topic. If you want to know more, let me know, and I’ll also send you an in-depth report of the research I’ve compiled on this topic. Dr. Aggarwal, a cancer professor at the University of Texas’ Anderson Cancer Center, recommends cancer patients take up to 2 grams of curcumin 3-4x/day. In the absence of an allergy to the herb, no toxicity has been found in curcumin in doses well over 10 grams/day.
Real Almond Joys
A healthy alternative to a long-standing favorite candy bar or other indulgences. Make a bit batch for yourself – and your favorite Valentine. Great for diabetics too! This is one of my clients’ favorite treats.
- ¼ cup coconut oil, slightly softened (NOT melted)
- ½ cup almond butter (or organic peanut butter)
- ¼ tsp salt (optional – if nut butter is unsalted)
- ¼ cup raw cacao powder (or unsweetened cocoa powder)
- 1 tsp real vanilla extract
- 15-20 drops stevia extract (herbal sweetener)
- 1 cup slivered or sliced almonds, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips
- 1 cup dried coconut
Combine oil, nut butter, cacao powder, salt, stevia, and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl, and mix well. Gently, stir in almonds, chips, and half of the coconut. Form into 1-inch balls. Roll in remaining coconut. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator. Excellent high-energy snack!
Studying Fat Metabolism in Long Beach
I had an awesome time at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition’s latest clinical conference in Long Beach, CA last week, catching up with long-time friends and colleagues. Among the speakers was one of my favorites, journalist Gary Taubes, who is helping to unveil the truth about what really causes us to get fat and stay fat. If you want to learn more, you might be interested in Gary’s latest ground-breaking book, “Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It”.
What Inspires Me. Issue 45
The world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our feet, and learn to be at home. –Wendell Berry