Vitamin A

Found in fish liver oils particularly cod liver oil. Occurs as beta carotene which the body converts into vitamin A in fruits and vegetables, particularly carrots, broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, apricots etc. Fish liver oil sources of vitamin A can provide toxic amounts of this vitamin as it can be stored in the liver. Vitamin A converted in the body from beta carotene is non toxic and is the preferred form of use. Beta carotene has been found recently to exert a protective action against cancer, particularly cancers of the lung, stomach, oesophagus and cervix. Persons with low intakes and plasma levels of beta carotene were found to be more susceptible to these forms of cancer. Studies have shown that the risk of developing lung cancer, even amongst cigarette smokers is reduced considerably by high intakes of beta carotene from fruits and vegetables. Beta carotene also has a protective action against skin cancer caused by direct exposure to sunlight and is particularly valuable as a protective agent against sunburn and for people who are sensitive to sunlight. It should be used with a sunscreen agent, preferably containing PABA, a vitamin particularly effective in preventing sunburn. Beta carotene is converted into vitamin A in the human intestines and the liver though not all of it is absorbed. The beta carotene that is not absorbed enters the bloodstream where it is laid down in the fatty layers of the skin as a yellow tanning pigment. Beta carotene can be used then as a tanning agent without the sun, though obtaining sufficient sources from food alone is difficult and requires supplementation. Carrot juice is often used in alternative cancer clinics for its high levels of beta carotene, being consumed until the skin develops a golden brown hue where intakes are then reduced. Beta carotene is also useful in building up the body's resistance to infection particularly respiratory infection and in the treatment of bronchitis where it stimulates the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract to resist infection. It is used in the treatment of acne, eczema and in strengthening the immune system. Beta carotene can also shorten the duration of illness, help the removal of age spots, improve hair and skin quality, counteract night blindness and weak eye sight and can promote strong teeth, bones and gums. Beta carotene supplements are available in doses from 10,000 i.us to 25,000 i.us daily.

Vitamin B Complex

These vitamins are water soluble and so any excessive intake is excreted in the urine. They are consequently non-toxic and need to be replaced in the system daily. The B vitamins are also synergistic, i.e. they work together, and are more potent when combined than when taken in isolation (with some exceptions which will be mentioned later).

Vitamin Bl

Deficiency causes fatigue, constipation, irritability, depression, lack of concentration, nausea, emotional disturbances, sciatica and neuritis. It has a beneficial action on the nervous system, enhances mental ability and can boost morale. Anyone who is a smoker, drinker, on the pill or consumes large quantities of sugar has a greater need for this vitamin. An excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates can cause a deficiency of thiamine, due to refining processes which remove this vitamin from food. Surgery, illness, pregnancy and all forms of stress can create an increased need for this vitamin. Alcohol also destroys vitamin Bl as it interferes with the vitamin's utilisation by the liver. Therapeutic uses for thiamine include the treatment of beri-beri, lack of concentration and lowered mental ability, alcoholism, lumbago and sciatica. It is also used as an insect repellent, releasing an odour through the skin pores to which insects have an aversion. 

Vitamin B2

This vitamin (available in high quality vitamin form, mineral supplement and mega potency B complex) is yellow in colour and stains the urine similarly. A  efficiency of riboflavin causes bloodshot and tired eyes, a feeling of gravel under the eyelids and a sensitivity to light, loss of hair, sores and cracks in the corner of the mouth, mouth ulcers, nerve weakness, dizziness and insomnia. Riboflavin promotes healthy skin and hair and is useful in the prevention of gastric and duodenal ulcers. This vitamin is easily destroyed by light, alcohol and tobacco. Any one taking the pill or who has a poor or restricted diet should increase their intake of this vitamin.

Vitamin B3

This vitamin is essential for a healthy nervous system and for the synthesis of sex hormones. It maintains healthy skin, tongue, digestive system and brain functions. A deficiency of niacin causes pellagra characterised by dermatitis, dementia and diarrhoea, also muscular weakness, fatigue, irritability, stress and depression. Its therapeutic uses include the treatment of schizophrenia, alcoholism, tobacco addiction and high blood cholesterol levels. In the treatment of schizophrenia dramatic results were obtained when patients were given high doses of nicotinic acid (between 3gms and 6gms daily). It was suggested that schizophrenia could be a biochemical abnormality which prevented absorption of the vitamin from the bloodstream to the brain demanding higher than normal levels of nicotinic acid than could be provided by a normal diet. Alcoholics showing similar mental symptoms to schizophrenia were shown to benefit greatly from high doses of nicotinic acid in nicotinamide form - up to 6gms daily being given. Nicotinic acid can also be used to help tobacco smokers give up the habit. Nicotinic acid is also particularly successful in reducing blood cholesterol levels (nicotinamide or niacin do not have this ability). Trials done repeatedly since the 1950s indicate that cholesterol can be lowered with nicotinic acid up to 40% over a period of 8 weeks on a daily dose of 2-3grms daily. Nicotinic acid causes the blood vessels to dilate and, in high doses, causes a flushing sensation of the face and upper body. American research suggests that excessively high doses can cause liver damage and for this reason it may be wise to take nicotinic acid tablets in time release m at 500mg strength - a level of intake which is perfectly safe. Nicotinic acid also relieves arthritic conditions and the pain from joint degeneration but only so long as the vitamin therapy is continued.

Vitamin B5

This vitamin is distributed widely in the plant food kingdom, a factor which reflects its importance as a nutrient. It is involved in the production of energy and in the metabolism of fat and cholesterol; it is important in the formation of antibodies and in the production of anti-stress hormones; it helps to maintain a healthy nervous system and assists the body in detoxifying drugs. A deficiency of pantothenic acid can cause aching, burning and throbbing of the feet, loss of appetite, respiratory infection, neuritis, arm and leg cramps, depression, insomnia, fatigue, psychosis and a lack of hormone production. Pantothenic acid is destroyed in food processing, particularly of whole grain products, but is relatively stable during cooking. This vitamin is required in higher than normal amounts after stress or injury due to its action in maintaining the health of the adrenal glands and their secretions of anti-stress hormones. Antibiotic treatment frequently destroys intestinal bacteria which are capable of synthesising pantothenic acid. Therefore additional pantothenic acid may be required to compensate for these losses. Pantothenic acid is also useful in counteracting the toxic side effects from drug medicines and antibiotics. The most important action of pantothenic acid, however, appears to be its effect on the adrenal glands in conditions of stress. This function requires some elaboration. Dr Hans Selye of Montreal University, a renowned medical scientist whose findings have been proven conclusively in thousands of scientific studies, discovered that all forms of stress, whether in the form of overwork, drastic surgery, burns, car accidents, worry and anxiety, x-rays, extremes of heat or cold, loud noises, drugs or viruses, or running on a treadmill until a point of exhaustion, affected the body in basically the same way. When stress first occurs, the pituitary gland releases protective hormones which are carried in the bloodstream to the adrenal glands which are activated to produce cortisone and other chemical messengers, which in turn activate the body to meet the emergency. When the diet is adequate and the stress not too severe or prolonged, the body is able to cope with this emergency and to maintain healthy functions. If the stress is intensive, as in major surgery or serious accident, or if it is simply prolonged, the body may arrive at a situation of pituitary and adrenal exhaustion from which a long period of rest, a nutritious diet and mega vitamin therapy (with heavy emphasis upon pantothenic acid) provides the only antidote.

Experiments have shown that rats receiving pantothenic acid swam up to four times further than those receiving no pantothenic acid. Experiments on human volunteers showed that when given pantothenic acid they were able to withstand enormous stresses without the normal consequences of protein destruction, rising blood sugar and salt retention. Furthermore volunteers fed upon an adequate diet with the exception of pantothenic acid showed a marked decrease in the levels of adrenal hormones produced by the body. They became quarrelsome, irritable and emotionally disturbed, developing low blood pressure, chronic fatigue and weakness and continuous respiratory infections. They showed all the symptoms of chronic adrenal exhaustion with levels of adrenal hormones decreasing steadily as the experiment progressed. Within 25 days all the volunteers were seriously ill and it required 4,000mg of pantothenic acid daily over a period of several weeks before the adrenal glands and their hormonal secretions were restored to normal. Deficiencies of pantothenic acid have also been shown to lower the individual's resistance to infection, particularly respiratory infection, due to the importance of this vitamin in the production of antibodies with their specific ability to counteract invading bacteria and viruses. A deficiency of pantothenic acid is also implicated in the widespread prevalence of allergies in modern society. Children given lOOmg of pantothenic acid daily showed a reduction of 50% in their allergic reactions to foreign substances. The same dose of pantothenic acid also manifested the ability to reduce coughs and stuffiness produced by excessive mucous secretions caused by an allergic response. A efficiency of pantothenic acid has also been shown to cause arthritis and bone degeneration in experiments on animals. In humans, meat-eaters were shown to have less pantothenic acid in their bloodstream than vegetarians. The significant factor being that those suffering from arthritis had far lower levels of pantothenic acid in their system than those not suffering from the disease. In fact the lower the levels of pantothenic acid in the bloodstream the more serious were the arthritis symptoms. Tests were then conducted by Dr Barton Wright in which pantothenic acid, in the form of calcium pantothenate, was administered daily. Within seven days blood levels of pantothenic acid had risen steadily paralleled by a noticeable alleviation of the arthritis pain of the volunteers. Larger trials were then carried out with doses up to 2,000mg daily of calcium pantothenate being administered to nearly 100 patients. Results were again impressive with a noticeable reduction in swelling, stiffness, pain and disability experienced by the arthritic patient. However, success was limited to the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, with little success being noted in cases of osteo-arthritis. It would appear that the success of pantothenic acid in the treatment of the inflammatory condition of rheumatoid arthritis is due to its ability to stimulate the adrenal glands to produce anti-stress hormones, including cortisone, which can prevent the development of the inflammatory and degenerative diseases. Pantothenic acid is completely safe and non-toxic and should be taken in calcium pantothenate form in tablet strength of 500mg. In the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis 4x500mg tablets (2,000mg daily) of calcium pantothenate can be taken daily for a period of approximately 4 months when the dose can be reduced to 1 or 2 tablets daily. Similar doses of up to 2,000mg daily can be taken in cases of severe stress, adrenal exhaustion, allergies and poor resistance to infection. The best natural source of pantothenic acid includes brewers yeast, liver, nuts, wheatgerm, soya beans, wholegrain cereals and beans. Pantothenic acid is widely distributed amongst foods though it is easily destroyed in food processing and being water soluble is frequently lost in cooking. It is also destroyed in the system by the use of antibiotics and by prolonged stress.

Vitamin B6

This vitamin is water soluble and is involved in the metabolism of amino acids from protein. It is essential for a healthy nervous system and for normal nerve and brain functions. A lack of vitamin B6 can cause splitting of the lips, scaly skin, nervous problems including mental depression, convulsions, migraines, irritability, puffy fingers and ankles and breast discomfort. Vitamin B6 can be lost in cooking and is destroyed in milk by treatment at high temperatures. It is also destroyed by alcohol, smoking, some drugs and the contraceptive pill. The best food sources are: brewers yeast, wheatgerm, oats, soya beans, bananas, nuts, wholewheat products, brown rice, potatoes. Depression in women induced by taking the contraceptive pill can be treated with lOOmg vitamin B6 daily. In the treatment of premenstrual problems. Doses of vitamin B6 given daily at levels of lOOmg showed marked improvements particularly in removing headaches, the most common symptom in pre-menstrual tension. Deficiencies of vitamin B6 can cause arteriosclerosis, a condition where fatty plaque deposits congest the arteries reducing the passage of blood. Monkeys given a diet adequate in all nutrients except vitamin B6 rapidly developed arteriosclerosis. The condition can be reversed and fatty deposits emulsified and broken down when B6 is reintroduced into the diet. Vitamin B6 has also been used successfully in the treatment of allergies, hay fever and bronchial asthma, particularly in children at doses of lOOmg daily. Vitamin B6 is also valuable in the treatment of morning sickness and in pregnancy at doses not exceeding 25mg daily. It has a therapeutic value also in the treatment of infantile convulsions and travel sickness (at doses of 50mg to lOOmg daily). Vitamin B6 can also prevent the formation of kidney stones particularly when combined with magnesium.

Choline

A member of the B vitamin family but not recognised as a true vitamin. Choline is a lipotropic factor which means it is involved in breaking down fats and cholesterol and allowing the body to use them as energy. Choline prevents fatty deposits from accumulating in the liver and prevents both fats and cholesterol from being laid down in the arterial walls. Choline, due to its action in breaking down fats, plays its part in preventing and treating most diseases of the heart and circulatory system including high blood pressure, coronary thrombosis, strokes and arteriosclerosis. A lack of choline can also cause nerve degeneration, senile dementia and low resistance to disease. Natural sources of choline include liver, wheatgerm, brewers yeast, egg yolks, cereal grains, nuts and pulses. The highest natural source of choline is provided by lecithin which contains 3,430mg of choline per lOOgrms lecithin.

Inositol

A water soluble member of the B vitamin family but not a true vitamin. Inositol, like choline, is also a lipotropic agent with the ability to break down levels of fat and cholesterol in the body, thus being used in the prevention and treatment of heart and circulatory disorders. Inositol also occurs in high concentrations in the nerves of the brain and spinal cord and appears to exert a calming influence on the nervous system reducing irritability and anxiety. Inositol is also believed to be a useful treatment in baldness with it's ability to stimulate hair growth. Natural sources of inositol are as follows: liver, wheatgerm, brown rice, cereal grains, brewers yeast, nuts, molasses and pulses. Like choline, inositol is a major constituent of lecithin and occurs in high doses in lecithin granules, containing 2857mgs inositol to lOOgrms of lecithin. Both choline and inositol are best supplied in the diet by lecithin.

Biotin

Symptoms associated with biotin deficiency include fatigue, depression, nausea, sleepiness, loss of reflexes, hair loss, loss of appetite, increased cholesterol levels and muscular pain. Biotin is implicated in a wide variety of body functions including the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat, protein and unsaturated fatty acids and is consequently necessary to maintain healthy skin, hair, sweat and sex glands, and nerves. Biotin can be destroyed by the use of antibiotics, by cooking and stress. Natural sources include liver, eggs, yeast, wheatgerm and wholegrain products. Recent studies indicate that a deficiency of biotin may also be implicated as a causative factor in cot deaths.

Folic Acid

A water soluble member of the B vitamin family. A deficiency causes megaloblastic anaemia, characterised by fatigue, breathlessness, irritability and certain mental disturbances including sleeplessness, forgetfulness and confusion. A deficiency may also cause spina bifida and premature births. Folic acid is necessary for the metabolism of RNA and DNA nucleic acids (which are essential in transmitting hereditary characteristics) and also for building up resistance to infection in infants and babies. Folic acid can be destroyed by light and air, drugs, the contraceptive pill, excessive over cooking of foods and is often poorly absorbed from food in the elderly. Widespread deficiencies of folic acid in the modern diet have been noted amongst the population but particularly in women during the last 3 months of pregnancy. The best natural sources are brewers yeast, soya beans, wheatgerm, nuts, green leafy vegetables, wholegrain, beans, eggs and brown rice.

Vitamin B12

Occurs exclusively in animal foods. A deficiency causes nerve degeneration, mental disturbances, menstrual disorders and leads to pernicious anaemia. Vitamin B12 is best administered by injection form when it is used as an appetite stimulant and to correct mental confusion, paranoia, fatigue, poor memory and mood swings. Vitamin B12 levels can be reduced by veganism, alcohol abuse, heavy smoking and old age.

P.A.B.A. (Para Amino Benzoic Acid)

A member of the B vitamin family, PABA prevents the greying of hair and is essential to the growth of bacteria. It is beneficial in the treatment of vitiligo, a condition characterised by the appearance of light areas on the skin. PABA is best known as a sunscreen agent, being used both in sun creams and in supplement form to prevent sunburn. PABA in doses of 500mgs to lOOOmgs daily has been shown to increase tolerance in sunlight in people prone to sunburn, allowing up to 100 times greater exposure to the sun. Richest food sources of PABA are yeast, molasses, wheatgerm, liver and eggs.

Vitamin B17

This vitamin is used in natural treatments for cancer due to its cyanide content which is believed to exert a specific anti-cancer action, but is used only as part of a general holistic approach. Richest natural sources are apricot and peach kernels, apple and pear pips, bitter almonds and cherry and plum stones. Laetrile is available in the treatment of cancer only on prescription if injections are required. The vitamin B complex family clearly have a multiplicity of important functions in the body and their value cannot be overstated. They are important in maintaining a healthy nervous system and operate as the anti-stress vitamins, preventing emotional and mental disharmony and are a natural tonic and anti-depressant. They are frequently lost in the cooking of foods and can be destroyed by alcohol, sugar, some drugs, exposure to heat and light, and stress. Natural food sources always implicate wheatgerm, brewers yeast, molasses as the chief suppliers of these vitamins, though if these foods are not part of the individual's diet then a vitamin B complex supplement can be taken, particularly if large quantities of alcohol are consumed. The following eleven B vitamins should all occur in any vitamin B complex supplement and should be checked for. Many companies leave out the expensive B vitamins, particularly folic acid, biotin and PABA which happen to be amongst the most important.

The Eleven B Vitamins

Vitamin Bl (thiamine)

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid or calcium pantothenate)

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

Biotin

Folic acid

PABA

Choline

Inositol

Vitamin B12

Other members of the vitamin B family are not considered as true B vitamins and need to be taken individually. The strengths of the B vitamins contained in a supplement are important and a mega potency vitamin B complex can be considered the most beneficial. Some companies only include three or four B vitamins in a B complex supplement, in minute doses, and fill their tablets out with talc, liquid paraffin, sugar, anti- foaming and anti-caking agents. These should be studiously avoided. It should also be remembered that the B vitamins are largely synergistic, as a family and are more potent when taken together as a complex than when taken in isolation. Exceptions to this rule are pantothenic acid, used in high doses in the treatment of stress conditions and arthritis; nicotinic acid in the treatment of high cholesterol and choline and inositol preferably provided by lecithin, which are used in the reduction of fat and cholesterol levels. Vitamin B6 can be taken in high doses but is preferable in a B complex form as taken alone it can disturb the functions of the other B vitamins, creating some deficiency symptoms. If lOOmg B6 is taken daily it may be wise to include a B complex supplement also. The B vitamin taken in a supplement form is more potent when combined with natural food sources of B vitamins such as yeast, wheatgerm and molasses.

Orotic Acid

Known as vitamin B13 but no longer considered a vitamin. Its chief importance lies in being combined with mineral salts, such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, etc. in order to facilitate their absorption into the system. For this reason some mineral supplements will be described with B13 as a prefix. For example, B13 Chromium indicates that the chromium is blended with orotic acid to increase the minerals rate of absorption into the bloodstream. Orotates are superior to inorganic mineral salts because of their ability to carry mineral salts across cell membranes and their greater rate of absorption through the intestine. Minerals which are combined with orotic acid are expensive but are the best quality available.

Vitamin B15

A water soluble factor present in the vitamin B complex family. Its main function is the transportation of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream and then to the muscles and organs. Vitamin B15 is also useful in detoxifying poisons and free radicals in the system and in stimulating anti-stress hormones. Its use as a carrier of oxygen makes it a popular supplement for athletes. Its other medicinal uses include the treatment of angina, providing higher oxygen levels for the heart muscle and in the treatment of strokes by increasing oxygen uptake to the brain. Pangamic acid is also used in the treatment of exhaustion and fatigue through increasing the transfer of oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream and organs. Other therapeutic values of vitamin B15 include the treatment of arteriosclerosis, bronchial asthma and diabetes. Best food sources of pangamic acid are: rice, bran, maize, dried brewers yeast, oatflakes,  wheatgerm, apricot kernels and wholemeal flour. B15 is also available in supplement form.

Boron

A trace element found principally in fruit, vegetables and nuts principally apples, pears, prunes, tomatoes, raisins, nuts, dates and honey. Boron has been shown to be an essential nutrient frequently lacking in the modern diet. Boron supplementation at low dose levels of 3mg daily reduces the loss of bone minerals, particularly calcium, possibly due to the action of boron in activating vitamin D to increase calcium uptake and due also to its action in stimulating the body's production of sex hormones. Boron is of particular value in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women due to its effect upon bone calcium levels. Professor Bryce-Smith comments 'The findings suggest that supplementation of a low level diet with an amount of boron commonly found in diets high in fruits and vegetables induces changes in postmenopausal women consistent with the prevention of calcium loss and bone demineralisation'. Only low levels of boron are required (approximately 3mgs daily) for prevention of calcium loss and the increased production of sex hormones in post-menopausal women. Boron is also of particular value in the treatment of arthritis. Epidemiological studies indicate that where boron levels are low, incidences of arthritis are high. Doses of lOmg of boron daily have been reported as reducing symptoms in up to 80% of patients. Once symptoms have been relieved the lOmg dose of boron daily can be reduced to 3mg daily. It has been reported that boron supplementation can completely cure arthritis in horses, cattle and dogs.

Bioflavonoids

Known as vitamin P, bioflavonoids always accompany vitamin C in nature. Richest sources are citrus fruits, apricots, cherries, tomatoes and buckwheat. Bioflavonoids are important in maintaining the health of the blood vessels and capillary arteries, and act as anti-inflammatory factors. They are useful in treating varicose veins, varicose ulcers, haemorrhoids and excessive bruising. The most well-known bioflavonoid is 'rutin', found chiefly in buckwheat and used in the treatment of circulatory disorders due to its action in dilating blood vessels and preventing capillary fragility.

Vitamin C

Research into man's ancestry, when living in a tropical and sub-tropical environment, has indicated that his intake of vitamin C from plant foods would probably have been between 8 grams and 12 grams daily. Vitamin C is water soluble, is an anti-oxident, promotes iron absorption from the blood, increases the body's resistance to infection, produces anti-stress hormones and helps maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. It also maintains the health of the bones, teeth and sex organs as well as the healthy collagen levels of the body. It reduces the incidence of blood clots in the circulatory system, accelerates healing from surgery and illness, helps heal wounds and burns and is useful in the treatment and prevention of the common cold and other viral infections. It also strengthens the immune system and thereby fortifies the body's front line of defence against allergies, viruses and environmental pollutants. It is also believed that vitamin C has the power to detoxify poisons in the bloodstream, whether due to the action of drugs or environmental pollution, and can remove heavy metals like cadmium and lead from the system. Professor Linus Pauling, a noble prize winner and one of the most eminent scientists of the century, has done much research into vitamin C and is a firm advocate of its use in high therapeutic doses. He maintains that doses of vitamin C (between 2gms and 3gms daily) can act as a preventative of colds and can be used successfully in higher doses in the treatment of colds. He also maintains that vitamin C has protective action against cancer cells due to its action in strengthening the collagen fibres which holds cells together, making them more resistant to invasive attack from malignant cells. Because collagen is the intercellular cement which holds body cells together and is a natural constituent of healthy skin, vitamin C can preserve the elasticity and youthfulness of the skin and prevent its premature ageing. Professor Linus Pauling advocates taking high doses of vitamin C daily (in doses of 3-4 grams) due, he maintains, to its strongly protective action against cancer. He believes that the adoption of healthy diet and lifestyle and the incorporation of several grams of vitamin C into one's daily diet can help to prevent up to 80% of all cancers. Pauling, himself, takes up to 8 grams of vitamin C daily and is a good advert for his own theories having been born in 1901 and maintaining his health, youthfulness and vitality as he approaches 90 years of age. Vitamin C is also a natural antihistamine and is therefore useful in the treatment of allergies and hay fever and may be of benefit to schizophrenics as low levels of this vitamin were found in those suffering from this illness. Any form of infection tends to increase the body's needs for vitamin C and higher doses than usual should be taken in order to speed recovery. Deficiencies of vitamin C can cause scurvy, weakness and fatigue, irritability, bleeding gums, pains in the joints and muscles. The best natural sources of vitamin C are fruits and citrus fruits, brussel sprouts and cabbage, rosehip, peppers, tomatoes and most vegetables. However vitamin C is a very unstable nutrient and is easily destroyed in food processing and by oxygen, heat, light and cooking. Some common drugs also destroy vitamin C as also does cigarette smoking, alcohol and the contraceptive pill. Extra vitamin C is required by those under stress, those with infectious diseases, pregnant women, the elderly and athletes. Vitamin C supplements should be accompanied by bioflavonoids which always occur with vitamin C in plants and can be taken in powder or tablet form, though preferably without any addition of sugar, preservatives or talc. Vitamin C is extremely non-toxic and can be taken in high doses of several grams daily without any side effects. It is normally available as ascorbic acid or calcium ascorbate which is less acidic and more amenable to higher intakes.

Calcium

A mineral salt found in the body in higher quantities than any other mineral. It combines with phosphorus to maintain healthy bones and teeth, controls blood cholesterol levels, assists in the absorption of vitamin B12 and in the process of blood clotting, helps metabolize the body's iron levels, keeps the heart beating regularly and alleviates insomnia. Calcium is often poorly absorbed in women during menopause due to the lowering of oestrogen levels. Extra calcium with vitamin D (which also assists the absorption of calcium) should be taken during this period and ideally continued during the post-menopausal period in order to prevent osteoporosis. Calcium is also used therapeutically during pregnancy and breast feeding in order to maintain adequate levels of this mineral for mother and child and to prevent calcium deficiency disorders in later life. It is also used in the treatment of arthritis, particularly osteoarthritis, and as a detoxifying agent in metal poisoning through lead, cadmium, mercury or aluminium. A deficiency of calcium can be induced through poor diets, lack of vitamin D, use of the contraceptive pill, and lowered levels of oestrogen at pregnancy (whilst breast feeding and at menopause). Natural sources of calcium are cheese, milk, fish, nuts, beans, root vegetables, eggs, cereal grains and fruits. When the blood levels of calcium fall the parathyroid glands release hormones which activate the release of calcium from the bones and teeth in order to maintain blood levels. If this situation is allowed to continue then clearly dental problems and bone degeneration including osteoporosis and osteoarthritis are likely to occur. Only adequate dietary levels of calcium can prevent this. The recommended daily intake of calcium is about 1000mg-1200mg of which western diets provide only approximately two thirds of this amount. This discrepancy should be made up either through improved nutrition or through calcium supplementation with added vitamin D. Extra calcium is needed for the following people, those on the contraceptive pill, those taking antibiotics and people using drugs for the treatment of arthritis. Elderly people, those under persistent stress, athletes and consumers of alcohol all have increased needs for calcium.

Calcium Ascorbate

A natural form of vitamin C which can replenish calcium levels which are excreted in the urine due to the chelating action of this vitamin. Calcium ascorbate is less acidic than vitamin C, more easily assimilated and gentler on the stomach.

Cod Liver Oil

This food is a natural source of vitamins A and D and unsaturated fatty acids. It was first used a century ago to cure rickets (being successful due to its vitamin D content). It contains high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are useful in the prevention and treatment of heart and circulatory disorders due to their ability to thin the blood and prevent its clotting. Experiments were conducted with cod liver oil in the treatment of arthritis and various other complaints and the following results were found. Ninety per cent of osteo and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers showed some benefit within 6 months. There was marked reduction in pain and a diminution in the degree of inflammation and swelling. In other areas there were improvements in complexions, greater alertness and less fatigue, reduction in both cholesterol levels and high blood pressure levels. One tablespoon of cod liver oil was taken daily either alone or in orange juice. It should not be allowed to go rancid and should be consumed rapidly when opened. Keep refrigerated.

Caprylic Acid

This substance is a coconut derivative with anti-fungal properties being used principally in the treatment of Candida albicans, a yeast which lives naturally in the intestine but which can spread when the immune system is weakened and unable to keep it in check. Caprylic acid is provided by a supplement named capricin.

Chromium

An essential trace element for both man and animals. Diabetes and heart disease increase when chromium levels in the diet are low. Chromium functions as the glucose tolerance factor (GTF) which stimulates insulin activity. Absorption from food is poor though it occurs in yeast as GTF is 50 times more effective than other forms of chromium. Best food sources are: egg yolk, molasses, brewers yeast, cheese, wholewheat bread. Deficiencies of chromium can be induced through highly refined diets, prolonged slimming diets and alcoholism. Deficiencies of chromium can cause increased cholesterol levels, hardening of the arteries and symptoms of hypoglycaemia including irritability, frustration, intolerance and irrationality, nervous disorders, alcohol intolerance and depression.

Coenzyme Q10

This is a nutrient found in every living cell and is essential to life. It is involved in the transfer of oxygen from the bloodstream to the body cells and is essential for the proper functioning of the cells. Low levels of Co Q10 affect the work rate of the cells and can lead to heart disease, mental deterioration and vulnerability to infection. There is some evidence that Co Q10 levels in the body fall as a person ages and that a deficiency of this nutrient may hasten some aspects of the ageing process. Treatment with Co Q10 at levels of 30mg daily divided into 3xl0mg doses have been shown to exert a marked anti-ageing influence. Co Q10 occurs naturally in many foods, particularly eggs, soya beans, spinach, brown rice, wheat products and oats. However, it is easily lost in the process of food refining, cooking and storing. In a nutshell Co Q10 fortifies the immune system and protects the body from infection, strengthens the heart and circulatory system, helps to reduce high blood pressure and can be useful in counteracting the effects of ageing. Available in tablet or capsule form normally at strengths of 10mg.

Copper

This mineral is required to convert iron into haemoglobin, assists the formation of healthy bones and builds up resistance to infection. Natural sources are beans, peas, liver, brewers yeast, nuts, pulses and cereal grains. It also occurs in cigarettes, the contraceptive pill and car exhaust fumes. Deficiencies have occurred in malnourished children, those living on refined diets and in those suffering from prolonged diarrhoea. As a rule, copper deficiency is rare and supplementation is not recommended. Therapeutic uses of copper include the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.

Vitamin D

Known as the sunshine vitamin due to the fact that it can only be produced in the body through the action of sunlight on the oils of the skin. For this reason people who have little exposure to sunlight, such as night workers, people who wear excessive clothing and city dwellers (whose intake of the sun's vitamin D producing rays is reduced by smog), should increase their vitamin D dosage. If these skin oils are washed off with soap, the absorption of vitamin D is prevented. When one considers the general lack of sunshine and the need for constant clothing in northern climates it becomes obvious that dietary sources of vitamin D adopt an extreme importance. These are cod liveroil, kippers, mackerel, salmon, sardines, eggs and dairy products. Cod liver oil is the best source of vitamin D with one tablespoon providing 400 i.us the recommended daily dose. A deficiency of vitamin D causes bow legs and rickets in children and bone pain and brittle bones in adults. Vitamin D also prevents osteoporosis by increasing absorption of calcium. Vitamin D can be toxic in very high doses and 400 i.us-800 i.us daily is all that is required. This can be provided by one or two tablespoons of cod liver oil or 4oz-8oz of oily fish.

Dolomite

A naturally occurring supplement of mineral salts, particularly calcium and magnesium. Dolomite is singularly inexpensive and is an excellent source of these two important mineral salts, both being provided in the proper proportions. 3-6 tablets can be taken daily.

Vitamin E

A fat soluble vitamin which has been credited with miraculous rejuvenating properties. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant protecting body cells from damage by oxygen, free radicals, and environmental pollutants. It reduces the body's need for oxygen, prevents the blood from clotting, dilates the blood vessels and maintains healthy arteries. For these reasons vitamin E is of particular value in the treatment of heart and circulatory disorders, being used in the treatment of angina and coronary thrombosis.Vitamin E protects polyunsaturated fatty acids in the body, amino acids and vitamin A and increases the virulence of white blood cells in preventing infection. Other therapeutic uses of vitamin E include the treatment of intermittent claudication (pain in the calf muscle caused by poor circulation), strokes, heart attacks, arteriosclerosis, varicose veins, phlebitis and skin ulcers. Vitamin E also has potent healing properties and can be applied directly to scar tissue,burns, stretch marks and sunburn. A lack of vitamin E in the diet can cause ethargy, apathy, decreased interest in sex, loss of concentration and lack of vitality. Vitamin E has also been commonly reported as being able to increase virility and although this is yet unproven, vitamin E is implicated in the health of the glandular system and its production of sex hormones. Vitamin E does appear, however, to be important in maintaining fertility in women and in maintaining normal reproduction. It is credited with the ability to minimise wrinkles and ageing of the skin,, due largely to its role as an anti-oxidant, and can be used both internally and externally for this purpose. Vitamin E has also been found to be particularly beneficial in treating women during the menopause with its symptoms of hot flushes, depression and irritability. Results with vitamin E in the treatment of these complaints have been outstanding. Two Canadian doctors who pioneered research into vitamin E, Dr Evan and Wilfred Shute, successfully treated over 50,000 cases of heart disease with vitamin E in doses ranging from 500 i.us up to 2,400 i.us daily. However, it is not recommended to take such high doses, preferring lower doses of between 200 i.us and 800 i.us daily. It is not recommended to take more than 1,600 i.us daily for long periods, in spite of the relative safety and non-toxic properties of this vitamin. The best food sources of vitamin E are wheatgerm, cold pressed vegetable oils, unprocessed cereal grains, with smaller amounts in green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, tomatoes, carrots and eggs. If taking vitamin E as a supplement, always prefer natural vitamin E (denoted by the description d'alpha tocopherol) in preference to synthetic vitamin E (denoted by the term dl'alpha tocopherol), as natural vitamin E is far more active in the body than synthetic vitamin E and is better absorbed and assimilated.

Fish Oils

These have gained importance recently since the discovery of their protective action against heart disease and diseases of the circulatory system. Fish oils are natural sources of essential fatty acids, similar to those found in plant oils (safflower, sunflower) but which also contain 2 fatty acids that are not found in the vegetable kingdom. These are known as the Omega 3 fatty acids which are named EPA and DHA. These fatty acids are known to stimulate the body's production of prostaglandins which effectively thin the blood and inhibit the formation of blood clots in the circulatory system. Tests on Eskimos who obtain high levels of EPA and DHA in their diets showed that healing times in the event of cuts and wounds were markedly slower than healing times in the average westerner. This was because EPA and DHA in the eskimos' diets inhibited the blood clotting mechanism in their circulatory systems. Although they may lose more blood in times of accident and injury, Eskimos are not plagued by heart disease, high fat and cholesterol levels, hardening of the arteries and general circulatory disorders. Cod liver oil and oily fish such as mackerel, salmon and herring are good, natural sources of EPA and DHA. These fatty acids are now available in capsule form (providing 180mg EPA and 120mg DHA per capsule giving a combined intake of 300mg per capsule). Preventative treatment for heart and circulatory disorders requires 3 capsules daily (900mg total EPA and DHA). Those suffering from angina or who have experienced coronary thrombosis or cerebral thrombosis, require 5 capsules daily to prevent further attacks (total EPA and DHA 1500mg).

Vitamin F

Otherwise known as 'unsaturated fatty acids', including linoleic acid, linolenic and arachidonic acid. Unsaturated fatty acids can reduce cholesterol levels and levels of saturated fat in the system. They thus help to keep the arteries free from cholesterol deposits and maintain the health of the heart and circulation. Unsaturated fatty acids are also important in maintaining the healthy functioning of the glandular system and in correcting skin troubles such as eczema and acne. The best natural sources of essential fatty acids are found in plant foods: wheatgerm, linseed, sunflower seeds, safflower, soya beans, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, avocados or the cold pressed oils extracted from these foods. If sufficient linoleic acid is provided in the diet, the other two fatty acids, linolenic and arachidonic can be synthesised in the system. Oil of evening primrose is one of the best natural sources of vitamin F or essential fatty acids.

Gamma-Linoleic Acid (GLA)

Found in mother's milk and in substantial amounts only in oil of evening primrose seeds, borage oil and blackcurrant and gooseberry seeds.

Feverfew

A plant with a remarkable therapeutic value in the treatment of migraines and arthritis. Known as the aspirin of the 18th century it has been used since the middle ages as a pain relieving herb. Feverfew contains a group of chemicals known as sesquiterpene lactones of which several have been found to be pharmacologically active, the most virulent being parthenolide. Feverfew appears to work like aspirin as an anti-inflammatory agent and by dilating blood vessels. As yet, most of the praise for feverfew has come from testimonial evidence rather than scientific analysis but this makes it no less effective. In 1978 a Welsh doctor's wife Ann Jenkins provoked a storm of publicity by claiming in the national press that she had gained relief from both migraines and arthritis through eating several feverfew leaves daily. Many trials were subsequently carried out and the efficiency of feverfew proven. Results from a clinical trial carried out in the City of London Migraine Clinic showed that benefits occurred in over 70% of sufferers from migraines. Further trials showed that one third of people who maintained the treatment suffered no further attacks. Similar results have occurred in the treatment of osteo-arthritis but, again, evidence is largely of a testimonial character rather than scientific. Many of these testimonials can be found in a book by Dr Stewart Johnson titled simply 'Feverfew', printed by Sheldon Press. One of these testimonial letters is printed here. A retired farmer wrote of his wife and himself: 'Our complaint is arthritis in the fingers, arms and shoulders. A friend of ours was taking feverfew for migraines. She was also crippled with arthritis but after a few months was partly cured of both arthritis and migraines. So we gave it a try for our arthritis which was rather bad with both of us having had it for about 12 years. Since taking feverfew the pain got less until we had no pain. These last 2 years have been without any pain from arthritis. In our opinion it is due to taking feverfew.' The way that feverfew actually works may yet remain something of a mystery, but there is little doubt that it is an outstanding treatment for migraines if the cause cannot be identified or removed. Feverfew also appears to be successful in treating osteoarthritis, reducing inflammation and easing painful joints though results are not quite as spectacular as in the treatment of migraines. The dose required in the treatment of these 2 complaints is one 200mg feverfew tablet daily which is the equivalent to eating 4 fresh leaves, though these are bitter and acrid to taste. In some persons mouth ulcers can be caused by taking feverfew and these people should stop the medication. Feverfew should not be taken during pregnancy. Feverfew can also be used in the treatment of depression and melancholia, psoriasis and in pain relief, generally due to its ability to inhibit the production of prostaglandins which are involved in the initiation of pain. Again the dose remains at one 200mg tablet daily.

Garlic

This remarkable herb is an effective antibiotic, antiseptic and general blood cleanser. It contains allicin which has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and selenium, which is a natural anti-oxident. It is used in the prevention of colds and infections and to treat asthma and bronchitis. It is also beneficial in reducing high blood pressure due to its action in dilating the blood vessels and improving the general circulation. Garlic is also renowned for strengthening the heart, improving the condition of arthritis and rheumatism due to its anti-inflammatory properties, and in reducing mucous congestion in catarrhal problems. Russian scientists use garlic as an alternative to penicillin, due to its antibiotic action and its ability to cleanse the bloodstream of toxic wastes. For this latter reason garlic is also used in the treatment of acne, boils and pimples and as a general blood purifying agent. Garlic can also neutralise toxic by products which accumulate in the system as a result of the additives, chemicals and preservatives which find their way into the system. It is also believed that garlic can take unwanted metals out of the system, including lead, cadmium and aluminium. It is clearly best to take garlic in its natural form though, due to its offensive odour, most people prefer garlic capsules which dissolve in the intestine rather than the stomach and are virtually odourless. Completely odourless garlic capsules are now also available.

Ginseng

This Chinese root has been used for thousands of years in herbal medicine and is credited with almost mystical powers. It is a stimulant and tonic to the whole system increasing vitality, well being and resistance to infection. It is used by athletes to increase performance and was used by Russian soldiers during the world wars to increase stamina and endurance. Ginseng is used repeatedly in Chinese medicine for its powerful restorative and rejuvenating properties. It is believed to alleviate fatigue and exhaustion and debility in old age and restore sexual energy. The use of ginseng as an aphrodisiac requires some elaboration as it appears to have developed a mystical power in this area of use. Ginseng contains certain compounds which stimulate the body's production of sex hormones and is a general revitaliser of the endocrine system. It contains glycosides which are similar in character to certain body hormones and it appears to be these which possess the tonic and rejuvenating properties of this herb. Ginseng is also useful in times of stress not only for its stimulant properties but due to its action in stimulating the adrenal glands to produce antistress hormones. It has also been shown in clinical trials to stimulate the body's production of oestrogen in women, a factor which is of considerable importance during menopause when oestrogen levels tend to fall. Symptoms of the menopause such as hot sweats, irritability and depression were all relieved with ginseng supplementation (at levels of 1200mg Korean ginseng root daily). As a general rule ginseng can be considered as a natural tonic and stimulant. Korean ginseng is the most highly reputed form of ginseng available and comes in root, mixture or tablet form. Siberian ginseng is equally highly rated and much less expensive than Korean ginseng, though it is less explosive and slower acting than its Korean counterpart. It is used principally for its ability to increase stamina and endurance. Available in mixture or tablet form.

Ginkgo Biloba

The world's oldest living tree, dating back 200 million years. Its leaves have considerable medical properties containing pharmacologically active constituents which appear to increase the blood supply to the brain, improve the general circulation, strengthen capillary arteries, and exert a therapeutic influence against the effects of ageing such as forgetfulness, senile dementia, vertigo, tinnitus, poor circulation, loss of hearing and depression. Ginkgo biloba also contains anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory substances and is useful in improving mental performance.

 

Glucose Tolerance Factor (GTF)

This is the active form of chromium with many important functions in the body. GTF helps to control blood sugar and is therefore valuable for diabetics, those prone to hypoglycaemia, and possibly those people with cravings for sugars and sweets. GTF activates insulin to perform its function of removing sugar from the bloodstream. When a deficiency of GTF occurs in the diet more insulin needs to be released by the body to control sugar levels, thus predisposing the individual to maturity onset diabetes. GTF is most active in the body in the form of GTF yeast and may become a necessary supplement for those suffering from diabetes. GTF, in controlling insulin levels and blood sugar levels, may be a supplement of the future in controlling hunger and assisting the body to break down existing body fat. In this way GTF may be a nutrient of immense value in weight control and weight reduction, though scientific analysis has yet to prove this.


Iodine

An essential trace element for man and animals. It is essential in man for its action in maintaining the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland and its hormonal secretions which determines the rate of the body's metabolism. A lack of iodine causes goitre (swelling around the neck, hence the origin of the expression used to describe inhabitants of an area where iodine is low and goitre is prevalent eg Padiham Thicknecks). A deficiency of iodine is a worldwide problem, with over 200 million people suffering from diseases related to a lack of this mineral. Only a tiny amount of iodine is necessary in the bloodstream to maintain the health of the thyroid and its production of the hormone thyroxine. The best natural source of iodine is sea kelp, followed by smaller amounts in fish, vegetables and cereals. A deficiency of iodine can cause an underactive thyroid and a subsequent lack of thyroxine which leads to slow metabolism and overweight conditions, apathy, fatigue and sensitivity to cold. Kelp supplements are inexpensive, are widely available and can be taken in tablet or powder form.

Iron

This nutrient is essential for life, being involved in the production of haemoglobin (red blood corpuscles) which carry oxygen around the body. Iron helps build resistance to infection, prevents fatigue and impaired growth and mental performance in children. Women lose twice as much iron monthly than men and are prone to dietary deficiencies of this nutrient. A lack of iron in the diet can cause anaemia (which results in tiredness), lack of stamina, headaches, palpitations, insomnia and giddiness. The best natural sources of iron are brewers yeast, wheatgerm, molasses, liver, eggs, nuts, beans, dried fruits and wholegrain cereals. Dietary supplementation with iron is often recommended for women in particular, preferring supplements in the ferrous form e.g. ferrous gluconate, which is believed to be the best and most readily assimilated form of iron. Ferrous forms of iron do not destroy vitamin E.

Vitamin K

Functions in the body as an anti-blood clotting agent. This is its sole function. It is frequently given to new born babies due to the poor absorption of this vitamin across the placenta in pregnancy. Best food sources are cauliflower, brussel sprouts, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, cabbage and tomatoes. Vitamin K levels can be reduced by antibiotic therapy and over indulgence in liquid paraffin. Vitamin K is synthesised by intestinal bacteria in the healthy body and supplements are rarely necessary.

Kelp

Known otherwise as seaweed. It contains all the minerals, salts and trace elements necessary for health and well-being, but is used principally for its iodine content. Available in powder and tablet form, or as edible seaweed. Kelp is one of the most nutritious foods in existence and is a useful supplement to any diet. All the minerals which occur in sea water are found in healthy human blood providing a possible insight into man's evolutionary origins. The mineral salts of sea water are all contained in abundance in sea-kelp.

Evening Primrose Oil

For a complete profile on this plant, consult Evening Primrose Oilby Judy Graham, published by Thorsons. The evening primrose plant originated, probably in Central America, some 80,000 years ago and is characterised by its bright yellow flowers, the seeds of the primrose plant are pressed to extract oil and it is this oil - Oil of Evening Primrose - which is known to have great medicinal properties. Oil of evening primrose, like other plant oils, contains essential fatty acids but is essentially unique in that it contains a substance known as gamma linoleic acid (GLA) which has two indispensible functions. It builds healthy cell membranes and it stimulates the body's production of hormone-like substances known as prostaglandins, in particular prostaglandin Ei, (PGE1). GLA also occurs in moderate amounts in borage, blackcurrant and gooseberry seeds and in higher concentrations in mother's milk. As food sources of GLA are rare it is perhaps not surprising that the body manufactures its own supply of linoleic acid. However the production of GLA in the body is dependant on the function of particular enzymes which convert linoleic acid into GLA. If these enzymes are deficient or operating inefficiently due to poor diet, viral and bacterial infections, stress and overwork, tobacco and alcohol consumption or an excessive intake of sugar and saturated animal fats then the body's conversion of linoleic acid into GLA is hindered resulting in a deficiency. Evening primrose oil, however, is unique in that it already contains gamma linoleic acid in a readily usable form, by-passing the need of the body to produce its own. As mentioned earlier, GLA is produced by the body from linoleic acid, this process often being inhibited by factors such as high cholesterol and fat intakes, excessive alcohol and sugar consumption, stress and the particular hormones that it produces, the effects of ageing, viral infection, radiation and deficiencies of zinc. There is also another factor which blocks the conversion of linoleic acid into gamma linoleic acid which probably affect us all. Natural food sources of vegetable oils such as nuts and seeds (sunflower, saf flower, almonds, peanuts, etc) or the cold-pressed vegetable oils from these foods, contain linoleic acid which is readily usable by the body. However, when these oils are processed to remove their smell or increase their shelf life or to converted them into hydrogenated margarine, their linoleic acid content becomes changed to trans linoleic acid, which is recognised as an unnatural substance and does not convert into gamma linoleic acid. Only oil of evening primrose, with its own GLA content, can bypass these problems. Evening primrose oil then, contains essential fatty acids including GLA which, in turn, orchestrates the body's production of prostaglandin PGE1. These substances between them have many important if not miraculous health giving benefits, which are now deserving of further consideration.

Eczema and Oil of Evening Primrose

Deficiencies of essential fatty acids have long been known to produce eczema in both adults and children being characterized by rough scaly skin and a sensitivity to external irritants. Treatment with oil of evening primrose has produced spectacular results though fairly large doses are often frequently required (up to 4 grams daily - 8x500mg capsules). Treatment should be continued for a minimum of 3-4 months before best results can be expected. Children and infants with eczema benefit particularly from primrose oil, though high doses again are required (approximately 3 grams daily). Babies and young children can safely be given primrose oil in the treatment of eczema. If capsules cannot be taken then they can be pricked and the oil incorporated into food or rubbed into healthy skin where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Remember that mother's milk is the only natural source of high concentrations of GLA other than oil of evening primrose. Breast fed babies are clearly more likely to avoid the onset of eczema than those reared on cow's milk. Other complaints such as asthma, hay fever and allergies may be related to eczema in that they usually implicate a faulty immune system as a major causative factor. A deficiency of essential fatty acids in the diet, particularly GLA, may be a contributory factor in this inadequate immune response. GLA stimulates PGEi which in turn invigorates the body's production of T.lymphocytes. These have a vital function in the body, maintaining the health and vigour of the immune system and increasing the virulence of scavenging white blood cells in particular.

Rheumatioid Arthiris and Oil of Evening Primrose

Oil of evening primrose appears to be of particular benefit in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. GLA invigorates the body's production of prostaglandin PGEI which has been shown to possess distinct anti-inflammatory properties. In clinical trials about two thirds of patients with mild to moderate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis experienced dramatic improvements with complete cessation of the progress of their disease when taking primrose oil. Furthermore, most were able to stop taking anti-inflammatory drugs and aspirin, which is welcome due to the action of these medicines in depressing PGEI levels. Rheumatoid arthritis is considered to be an auto-immune disease where the immune defence mechanism attacks its own joints and connective tissue causing severe inflammation. The reason for this may be that the body is producing too many of the prostaglandins which initiate an inflammatory response, rather than the prostaglandins like PGEI which have the opposite anti -inflammatory action. Inflammatory prostaglandins are made from arachidonic acid derived from animal foods, particularly meat and dairy products. Anti - inflammatory prostaglandins like PGEI are derived from essential fatty acids found in the oils from nuts and seeds. It would seem wise in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis to consume a diet of natural plant foods in preference to a heavy emphasis upon animal foods and to include oil of evening primrose capsules up to 3 grams daily (6x500mg capsules) in divided doses.

Cholesterol and Oil of Evening Primrose

Oil of evening primrose has been found to be particularly effective in reducing high cholesterol levels, in inhibiting the formation of blood clots by reducing the clumping together of blood platelets and lowering blood pressure. It has been reported that oil of evening primrose lowers cholesterol levels as effectively as drugs without any side effects and with similar success in reducing high blood pressure. Linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid found in plant oils, has long been known to reduce cholesterol levels in man, but its action can be blocked by excessive cholesterol in the diet. GLA, with its stimulation of PGEI levels, has no such restriction and can reduce cholesterol and blood pressure levels within four weeks and reduce the clotting of platelets in the blood in a matter of hours. Primrose oil should be taken on a daily basis between 2-3 grams daily (4-6 500mg capsules) for a period of several months after which the dose can be reduced.

Alcohol and Oil of Evening Primrose

Primrose oil has been shown to exert a profoundly beneficial action in the treatment of alcoholism and alcohol abuse, particularly in the treatment of liver damage, the alleviation of withdrawal symptoms and the prevention of hangovers. Alcohol in small quantities stimulates the body's production of PGEI which can induce a sense of mild euphoria. However, alcohol in large quantities, even moderate quantities, has the opposite action and depresses the body's level of prostoglandin El. Alcohol in small amounts, equivalent to 1 or 2 glasses of beer or wine daily, does appear to have positive health benefits, increasing the life span over non drinkers though the life span is reduced dramatically in heavy drinkers. Alcohol in small quantities does not inhibit any metabolic functions or damage any vital enzymes but in high quantities it prevents linoleic acid being converted into gamma linoleic acid. Consequently a moderate or high consumption of alcohol will induce a significant deficiency of essential fatty acids, and consequently low levels of PGE1, which may account for the severity of the withdrawal symptoms experienced by alcoholics, not to mention the depression experienced in 'boozers gloom'. Low levels of PGE1 have other consequences including a higher risk of heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure and deterioration of the nervous system. Evening primrose oil is of particular benefit to alcoholics and moderate to heavy consumers of alcohol because it elevates the body's levels of PGE1. Oil of evening primrose then can reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms in alcoholics, it can reduce some of the liver damage and fatty degeneration
brought about by alcohol and it
corrects a deficiency of essential fatty acids which would otherwise lead to degeneration of the brain and nervous system and premature ageing. It has also been shown to be of particular benefit in preventing hangovers, though evidence for this is of a testimonial nature rather than proven. Doctors researching into the benefits of primrose oil conducted experiments on themselves and found that 4-6 capsules taken before bedtime and after drinking reduced the symptoms of a hangover to a remarkable extent, presumably due to the elevation of PGE1 levels stimulated by gamma linoleic acid.

Hyperactivity and Oil of Evening Primrose

Oil of evening primrose is a useful treatment for hyperactive children and those suffering from excessive thirst, which is a sign of a dietary deficiency of essential fatty acids. Children suffering from hyperactivity frequently suffer from eczema and asthma and often manifest other immune deficiency symptoms such as extreme sensitivity to environmental irritants. This may be due to a lack of the prostaglandin PGE1, a factor which can be corrected with intakes of evening primrose oil at levels of between 2-3 grams daily (4-6 500mg capsules). The hyperactive child should also avoid all preservatives, chemicals and additives in the diet and should be encouraged to adopt a diet of natural foods, with vitamin and mineral supplementation and the inclusion of essential fatty acids in order to build up the response of the immune system.

Benign breast disorders and Oil of Evening Primrose

Primrose oil has also been used successively to treat benign breast disease characterised by tenderness, swelling and breast discomfort. These symptoms appear to be caused by a high intake of saturated fat which blocks the conversion of linoleic acid into gamma linoleic acid, causing menstrual disorders and benign breast problems. Reducing saturated fat in the diet has been shown to reduce the incidences of most cases of benign breast disorders. An interesting consequence of taking oil of evening primrose, though only over long periods of between six months and several years, is an increase in breast size though the reasons for this are yet unknown.

Diabetes and Oil of Evening Primrose

Oil of evening primrose is also beneficial in conditions of diabetes, particularly in alleviating damage to the nervous system (diabetic neuropathy). It is also used in preventing the development of diseases of the eye and circulatory disorders. This slowing down of the progress of diabetic diseases and the general improvement in health experienced by the diabetic due to decreased needs for insulin, appears to result from increased intakes of linoleic acid in the diet or providing oil of evening primrose 2-3 grams daily (4-6 500mg capsules daily in divided doses).

Multiple Sclerosis and Oil of Evening Primrose

In the treatment of multiple sclerosis, geographical studies have shown that MS occurs notably in areas which consume large quantities of animal fat, and rarely occurs in areas where fish and vegetables are prevalent in the diet. This should not be surprising when one considers that the composition of the brain and nervous system is reliant upon an adequate supply of essential fatty acids from dietary sources. Substituting animal fats with vegetable oils from nuts and seeds, adopting a diet of wholesome foods including intakes of oil of evening primrose at levels of 2-3 grams daily (4-6 500mg capsules) should pay dividends in the treatment of multiple sclerosis. Oil of evening primrose is also used to treat a multiplicity of further conditions, including schizophrenia, where sufferers have been found to have low blood levels of essential fatty acids and PGEi in their blood, 2-3 grams of primrose oil required daily; certain types of obesity when caused by a metabolic abnormality, best results being with high doses of primrose oil at levels up to 4gs daily (8x500mg capsules) and in treatment of certain forms of cancer as part of a general holistic alternative approach where it appears to have a prohibitive action on the proliferation of the cancer cells. Oil of evening primrose is also valuable in improving the condition and tone of skin, creating a healthy bloom due to its high concentration of essential fatty acids and GLA in particular. Cosmetics made from primrose oil are available and are useful in maintaining the moisture levels and elasticity of the skin. For the treatment of prostate conditions with primrose oil see earlier chapter under 'Prostate Troubles'. It is clear that oil of evening primrose has turned out to be one of the most outstanding medical discoveries of the century, and its full benefits may not yet be completely understood. Furthermore, due to the fact that primrose oil is a food rather than a medicine, its remarkable benefits are not diminished by any notable side effects. In choosing oil of evening primrose capsules, it is preferable to obtain high quality sources (containing a high fatty acid profile with approximately 10% gamma linoleic acid and 10 i.us of vitamin E) to preserve the quality of the oil. Low quality primrose oil capsules are available, some often blended with poorer quality vegetable oils which do not contain gamma linoleic acid. A reputable herbalist should be able to advise you on this point. It would also seem preferable to use 500mg primrose oil capsules rather than weaker strength capsules as this involves a considerable financial saving in the long term. Finally a note of caution. Oil of evening primrose is not recommended for epileptics.

Lecithin

The name given to a complex nutrient containing choline, inositol, essential fatty acids and phosphorous. Lecithin was initially discovered in egg yolk as a substance which made possible the mixing of oil and water. Its modern dietary uses are as a fat-fighter or fat emulsifier due to its ability to break down fat and cholesterol levels in the body. Lecithin mobilises fat allowing the body to use it up as energy, it prevents the build up of fat in the body's organs and provides a natural source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Lecithin has many therapeutic uses, not surprisingly mostly involved with treatment of blood and circulatory disorders. It is used in the treatment of high blood pressure, to reduce cholesterol and fat levels in the blood, in the treatment of arteriosclerosis and in the prevention and treatment of angina, coronary heart disease, strokes and senile dementia. The best natural sources of lecithin are soya beans, wheat, peanuts, oats, rice, liver, fish and eggs. Lecithin can be taken as a food supplement where it is extracted from the soya bean and is available in granule or capsule form.

Magnesium

An essential mineral salt involved in many bodily processes including the production of energy and the division of cells. Magnesium is also involved in the transmission of nerve impulses, in the body's production of hormones and in the repair and protection of body cells. Magnesium may be lacking from the modern diet due to the use of chemical fertilizers in farming which may prevent the absorption of magnesium by plants. Deficiencies of magnesium can cause fatigue, exhaustion and more particularly are said to cause nervousness and timidity. Magnesium is nature's own tranquilliser and a deficiency of this may be one of the precipitating factors in the widespread dependency of the population on tranquilisers and sedatives. Deficiencies of magnesium can also cause convulsions, hyperactivity, palpitations and irregular heart beat and muscular tremors. The best natural food sources of magnesium are soya beans, nuts, brewers yeast, brown rice, wholemeal bread, dried fruits and wholewheat flour. Magnesium is useful in the treatment of many common disorders. It has been found to be of particular value in the treatment of pre-menstrual tension, morning sickness, low blood sugar, irregular heartbeats, hardening of the arteries, childhood hyperactivity and insomnia and nervousness. This is due to its calming action on the nervous system. Of particular interest is the relationship between a low dietary intake of magnesium and high levels of heart disease. Those living in soft water areas have much higher incidences of heart disease due to the lack of magnesium and calcium in the water than those in hard water areas where levels of these mineral salts are higher. Magnesium forms an important relationship with calcium and supplements of these minerals can be taken together at approximate levels of two parts calcium to one part magnesium. Calcium (500mg) and magnesium (200mg) supplements are available or can be provided by dolomite tablets which are a naturally occurring source of magnesium and calcium in the proper proportions. Dolomite is also inexpensive.

Manganese

An essential trace element for man and animals. Manganese is essential in maintaining a healthy nervous system and bone structure, and in the production of energy and female sex organs. Natural food sources are cereals, wholewheat products, nuts, pulses, fruit and green leafy vegetables. Tea drinking provides most of the dietary intake of manganese in the UK (approximately 50%) and deficiencies are rare, unless refined and processed foods form the bulk of the diet.

Molybdenum

An essential trace element for man and animals. Prevents dental caries, maintains male virility and orchestrates the release of iron from storage in the liver. Natural sources are beans, wheatgerm, liver, soya beans, wholegrain products and buckwheat. Deficiencies are unlikely except in a diet of refined and processed foods and supplements are largely unnecessary.

Phosphorous

This mineral is a constituent of all plant and animal cells, and due to its wide distribution amongst foods, deficiencies are improbable. Natural sources are brewers yeast, milk, wheatgerm, soya beans, cheese, nuts and cereal grains.

Potassium

A silvery white mineral essential in order for the body to maintain its normal functions. It is widely distributed in food with the best natural sources being fruits, vegetables, dried fruits, soya beans, molasses, nuts, wholegrain cereals, cheese and brown rice. Potassium is often taken out of the body by an excess of sodium (salt) in the diet and also by many medicinal drugs, particularly diuretics. Potassium is an important element, though dietary supplementation is not recommended except in certain circumstances and under professional guidance. The best way to boost potassium levels in the system is to increase fruits and vegetables in the diet and to reduce the intake of salt.

Royal Jelly

This is a milky food substance produced by the worker bees for the benefit of their Queen. It is the nutritious properties of royal jelly which account for her greater size and longevity as compared to that of the worker bees from amongst whom she is originally selected. Royal jelly is a highly nutritious food which contains tiny quantities of most nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, trace elements, enzymes, amino acids and several unidentified ingredients. It is useful as a general tonic and restorative and as a nutritious food supplement but outrageous claims for its medical and therapeutic properties should be ignored. High quality royal jelly capsules containing wheatgerm oil, in itself a nutritious food, supplying essential fatty acids, are available and can be relatively inexpensive. Avoid expensive forms of royal jelly as these are often extravagantly and unnecessarily over-priced and prefer fresh royal jelly to freeze dried as the freezing process can destroy many of its properties. The highest quality fresh royal jelly supplements incorporating wheatgerm oil are available, each containing 150mg fresh royal jelly. Stronger capsules are available with up to 500mg fresh royal jelly per capsule.

Rutin

This is a bioflavonoid known as vitamin P and it is normally found in the presence of vitamin C. Rutin strengthens the walls of the capillary arteries, dilates the blood vessels and is used exclusively in the treatment of circulatory disorders, including poor circulation, high blood pressure and haemorrhoids. Rutin is also used to treat bleeding gums. Therapeutic doses of this element involve intakes of between 6Omg and 600mg and it is preferably taken with vitamin C.

Selenium

An essential trace element for man and animals. It functions as an anti-oxident due to its ability to protect body cells from destruction by free radicals and invasive substances which can break down and debilitate these cells. In its role as an anti-oxidant selenium is believed to provide the body with protection from environmental pollution and the corrosive action of oxygen and appears to slow down the process of premature ageing. Selenium is also important in strengthening the immune system and has achieved a degree of importance in the prevention and treatment of cancer. It also helps to detoxify metals like calcium, lead and mercury which find their way into the system through cigarette smoke, smog and environmental pollution. Selenium is irregularly distributed amongst the earth's soils and epidemiological studies have shown conclusively that where soil levels of selenium are low, incidences of both cancer and heart disease are high. Where the soils are high in selenium, incidences of cancer and heart disease are low. In Great Britain, Norfolk has high levels of selenium in the soil and is rewarded with low levels of cancer and heart disease. Selenium also works as an anti-inflammatory agent and is useful in the treatment of  rheumatoid arthritis. It maintains healthy hair, skin and eyesight and is involved in the production of prostaglandins which maintain normal reproductive functions in the male. The best food sources of selenium are organ meats, fish, wholegrain cereals, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. Due to the poor geographical distribution of selenium, however, and to its outstanding importance as an anti-oxident and preventative of cancer and heart disease, food supplements may be necessary. Large quantities of selenium supplementation are not necessary, indeed inadvisable, as this mineral is toxic in high doses. No more than 200mcg should be taken daily with an optimum intake probably being provided by 200mcg in the form of selenium yeast, which increases its absorption and assimilation in the system. Selenium yeast is produced by adding selenium salts to cultivated yeast which then absorbs the trace mineral into its structure. Selenium in yeast is better absorbed and less toxic than inorganic selenium.

Tryptophane

An amino acid occurring naturally in foods such as milk and cheese and has a pain relieving action. It can lift depression and combat sleeplessness. Some doubt has been cast about the use of tryptophane recently due to its possible contamination during the manufacturing process. A clearer picture should emerge in the future as to the advisability of using tryptophane as a therapeutic agent.

Wheatgerm

The heart of the wheat kernel which contains all the nutrients. Wheatgerm is an outstandingly nutritious food and can be sprinkled readily on most foods, particularly breakfast cereals. Wheatgerm contains high amounts of protein, is high in essential fatty acids, contains choline and inositol (which help breakdown fat and cholesterol levels in the body) and is a rich natural source of vitamin E. Wheatgerm also contains a moderate supply of the B vitamins as well as many mineral salts, trace elements and enzymes including calcium, chromium, iron and manganese. Wheatgerm is one of the most nutritious foods available, is extremely versatile and can be incorporated easily into any diet. It is also extremely inexpensive.

Yeast

Dried brewers yeast is quite conceivably the most nutritious food available to man. It is a plant food containing 40% protein and an abundance of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and trace elements. It is particularly rich in members of the B vitamin family and is a natural tonic for the nervous system and for those suffering from nervous debility and fatigue. Brewers yeast is also particularly rich in chromium and selenium and contains high quantities of choline and inositol, iron and calcium. Brewers yeast is a welcome and extremely nutritious addition to any diet and like wheatgerm is particularly inexpensive. It is probably best taken added to fruit and vegetable juices in doses of one tablespoon daily, though more can readily be taken. Available in powder or tablet form. One tablespoon of brewers yeast powder is equal to approximately sixty tablets and is the preferred form of use.

Zinc

An essential trace element for man and animals. Zinc is often lost in the refining and processing of food, the manufacture of white flour from wholewheat flour causes a 77% loss of zinc while the processing of brown rice into white rice causes an 83% loss of zinc. Zinc is important for protein synthesis, the manufacture of insulin, the development of the brain and nervous system, the health of the prostate gland, the healthy functioning of the liver and the physical, mental and sexual development of adolescents. A lack of zinc can cause retarded growth and inhibit the development of the sexual and reproductive organs. A deficiency can cause eczema, post natal depression, congenital abnormalities in the new born and loss of taste and smell. Zinc can also help reduce cholesterol deposits, promote mental alertness, speed up the healing of wounds and injuries, and can be used in the treatment of psoriasis, acne rosacea, schizophrenia and peractivity in children. Zinc can be used in the treatment of anorexia nervosa by restoring to normal the individual's sense of taste and smell, the loss of which appears to be an important factor in the progression of the disease. Zinc has also been shown to be of considerable benefit in treating the common cold if taken in the form of zinc gluconate lozenge, in strengths of 25mg per tablet. The lozenge must be sucked to be of benefit, releasing the zinc to enter the mucous membranes where it acts as a natural antibiotic capable of inhibiting the replication duration of the common cold. For purposesn of common cold viruses and arresting the other than
the treatment of the common cold zinc is best taken in the form of zinc gluconate or zinc orotate tablets in doses ranging from 25mg to lOOmg. Zinc orotate supplements where the zinc is combined w are believed to be the best absorbed and areith orotic acid usually available in lOOmg strength, one tablet daily is all that is required. It is not required that zinc supplements should be taken indefinitely as only certain levels of zinc are required in the body. Intakes superfluous to requirements and zinc supplementation can be reduced are unnecessary after several months. Alternatively zinc supplements can be taken once or twice weekly.

Disclaimer

Every effort is made to ensure that information contained on this website is accurate and up-to-date. It should be noted however that this information is subject to change without notice and Barlow's Herbalists can accept no liability for the accuracy of all the information presented at any given time. Herbal remedies should only be taken if prescribed by a qualified herbalist. It is not to be used as a substitute for medical advice.

Please ring Barlows on 01282 423374 for free advice