Issue 36


Procedure Performed at MWA by Emma McGowan, M.D.

& Martin Gallagher, M.D.

Acupuncture in the Treatment of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

In a randomized controlled trial involving 68 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) receiving standard medication, acupuncture was found to be an effective adjunctive treatment for the reduction of dyspnea on exertion (DOE). Subjects received either traditional acupuncture (n=34) or placebo needling (n=34) at the same acupuncture points, once a week, for 12 weeks. Results found that after 12 weeks, subjects in the traditional acupuncture group performed a 6-minute walk test with higher Borg scale scores, better exercise tolerance and reduced DOE, as compared to subjects in the placebo group. Findings indicate that acupuncture may be effective in reducing DOE in patents with COPD.

"A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of acupuncture in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): the COPD-acupuncture trial (CAT)," Suzuki M, Muro S, et al, Arch Intern Med, 2012 Jun 11; 172(11):878-86. (Address: M Suzuki, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Japan. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).


Sugar Is Definitely Toxic, a New Study Says

That’s what scientists have concluded from a first-of-its-kind diet study involving overweight kids

Fat was the food villain these past few decades but sugar is quickly muscling in to take its place. As rates of sugar-related disorders such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease climb, many experts believe that when Americans rid themselves of fat, they simply replaced it with sugar in all its forms.

But proving that the rise of the chronic diseases was actually linked to higher sugar consumption is a challenge. Dr. Robert Lustig, from the department of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, who has made a name for himself publishing books and research addressing the question of sugar’s effects on the body, wanted clearer answers. Now, in a paper published Tuesday, he and his colleagues believe they have come up with the definitive evidence that sugar, as Lustig says, “is toxic.”

In most lab studies, the doses of sugar that scientists test are quite high; they want to see what the effect is quickly and, depending on the research, they may not have time to wait to study the more gradual effects that might emerge. And in studies where people reduce the amount of sugar they eat, for instance, those people end up eating fewer calories overall, so it’s difficult to know whether any changes are due to the removal of sugar or to the drop in calories.

Lustig and his colleagues think they’ve produced the “hard and fast data that sugar is toxic irrespective of its calories and irrespective of weight.”

Lustig’s confidence comes from the unique study, described in Obesity, of 43 Hispanic or African-American children aged eight to 18 years old. He collected detailed food questionnaires from each of the adolescents to get an idea of the average amount of calories they ate per day, then designed a special menu for each of them for nine days that matched the total numbers of calories they would normally eat. The only difference in the nine-day diet was that most of the sugar the children ate was replaced by starch — the overall number of calories remained the same. The children weighed themselves daily, and if they were losing weight, they were told to eat more of the provided food in order to keep their weight the same throughout the study.

“Everything got better,” says Lustig. Some of the children went from being insulin resistant, a precursor state to developing diabetes, in which the body’s insulin levels can no longer keep up with the pace of breaking down sugar that’s coming in from the diet, to insulin sensitive.

“We took chicken teriyaki out, and put turkey hot dogs in. We took sweetened yogurt out, and put baked potato chips in. We took pastries out and put bagels in,” says Lustig. “So there was no change in [the children’s] weight and no change in calories.”

After nine days of having their total dietary sugar reduced to 10% of their daily calories, however, they showed improvements in all of these measures. Overall, their fasting blood sugar levels dropped by 53%, along with the amount of insulin their bodies produced since insulin is normally needed to break down carbohydrates and sugars. Their triglyceride and LDL levels also declined and, most importantly, they showed less fat in their liver.

Because some of the children lost weight, to convince themselves that the effects weren’t due to the small amount of weight that some of the children lost, Lustig and his team compared those who lost weight to those who didn’t during the study, and found similar improvements in both groups.

“Up until now, there have been a lot of correlation studies linking sugar and metabolic syndrome,” says Lustig. “This is causation.”

The diet he provided the children isn’t considered ideal from a health perspective — starches are still a considerable source of calories and can contribute to weight gain. But Lustig relied on the starches to prove a point in a scientific study — that the effect sugar has on the body goes beyond anything connected to its calories and to weight. “I’m not suggesting in any way, shape or form that we gave them healthy food,” he says. “We gave them crappy food, shitty food, processed food — and they still got better. Imagine how much even better they would have gotten if we didn’t substitute and took the sugar out. Then they would have gotten even better yet. That’s the point.”

Not everyone is convinced that the results definitely prove sugar, and not weight loss, is the culprit, however. Susan Roberts, professor of Nutrition, USDA Nutrition Center at Tufts University notes that because some of the children lost weight, it’s still possible that shedding the pounds helped their metabolic measures to improve. She also points out that the children self-reported their initial diet, which can often be inaccurate. “We know that a healthy diet and weight loss cause good metabolic changes, and although this study tries to attribute its effects to low fructose, in fact it is impossible to do that because of the study design.”

Some experts are concerned for other reasons. They’re worried that the findings may shift attention away from what they consider to be the more fundamental issue — that overall, we’re eating too much. “Too much calorie intake is still the biggest problem,” says Dr. Mark Corkins, professor of pediatrics at University of Tennessee Health Science Center and member of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on nutrition. He notes that the study involved children who were obese already and consuming too many calories. “It’s an important study, and the facts coming out of it are very important. It means we need to look at sugars, and at the type of sugars and sugar intake. But I worry that people are going to hang everything on this when we still need to reduce consumption.”

Lustig hopes that won’t happen as more data emerges that details how sugar is altering the body in unhealthy ways outside of its caloric contribution. That wasn’t the subject of the current paper, but he promises follow up studies based on this work that will address that. This study does hint however, at what might be happening. While there has been a lot of attention on the presence of belly fat and its connection to metabolic syndrome, the fact that the children saw improvements in the amount of fat in their liver suggests that might be an important way that sugar is contributing to chronic disease. Obese children and those with diabetes often suffer from fatty liver, a condition normally associated with alcohol abuse but increasingly common among non-drinkers who gain excessive amounts of weight.

This new view of sugar could change the advice that doctors and government health officials give about eating the sweet stuff. Lustig’s hope is that the information is considered as the U.S. Department of Agriculture finalizes its latest Dietary Guidelines, expected by the end of the year, which delineate recommendations for what, and how much of different types of foods and nutrients Americans should eat.



Hair Growth Factors

Hair, Nails, Skin Formula


Hair Growth Factors, available from Medical Wellness Associates, supplies high dose biotin, methylfolate, vitamin C, zinc, and Cynatine® HNS, a patented, solubilized keratin for the health of hair, nails, and skin. Cynatine® HNS has demonstrated that it can improve the strength, brightness and appearance of hair, nails and skin as well as reduce hair loss associated with washing.†


Keratin is a protein found throughout the body and has an important structural role in skin, hair, nails. This intriguing protein also has one of the highest proportions of the amino acid cysteine, a natural reservoir of sulphur and an antioxidant used in many biological reactions. Much of the structural strength of keratin comes from cysteines, which bridge to form a cystine link. The ability to convert natural keratin into a functional form that is bio-available to the body is a recent breakthrough. A patented process now enables the intact keratin molecule to be solubilized, therefore making it both bioactive and bio-available to the body.

Cynatine® HNS is a natural bioactive keratin extracted from premium quality pure New Zealand wool using a unique patented process. Cynatine® HNS has demonstrated that it can improve the strength and appearance of hair as well as reduce hair loss associated with washing. It has also been shown to be capable of supporting healthy skin aging as well as improving the strength and luster of nails. A major component of the skin moisture barrier is cysteine-rich keratin. Damage to the keratin in this barrier can also result in increased skin wrinkles. In vitro studies show Cynatine® HNS supports cell proliferation and protein synthesis of human skin keratinocytes. Cell proliferation is used as a marker of cell growth and turnover. A clinical study was performed on Cynatine® HNS which showed that after 90 days, hair loss from washing was reduced by 30%, hair strength was improved by 12%. Additionally, participants reported improvements in both the shine and brightness of their hair. The ability of Cynatine® HNS to protect the skin from oxidative stress has been determined through a combination of in vitro and in vivo measurement. Experimental data reveals that ingested Cynatine® HNS helps to build the cells' glutathione supply, resulting in an increase in serum levels of glutathione-dependent peroxidase.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has numerous biological functions. Foremost, it is essential for the synthesis of collagen and glycosaminoglycans which are the building materials of all connective tissues, such as skin, blood vessels, tendons, joint cartilage and bone. Vitamin C is the required coenzyme for two groups of enzymes that catalyze the crosslinking of collagen fibers - lysyl hydroxylases and prolyl hydroxylases. As such, vitamin C is essential for normal wound healing and capillary health.

Zinc is important for growth, immune system function, protein synthesis, antioxidant mechanisms, and wound healing. Both zinc and copper, once bound to either a protein or peptide, have been shown to be very effective in regenerating new tissue and increasing the synthesis of structural proteins like collagen.

Biotin is a B vitamin that is found in small amounts in numerous foods. Biotin deficiency is difficult to detect because of the lack of assay techniques to determine biotin concentrations in the blood. Symptoms of deficiency include thinning of the hair, frequently with loss of hair color, and red scaly rash around the eyes, nose, and mouth. Biotin supplementation after 5 months has been clinically shown to support nail firmness and thickness and to reduce splitting in several studies. Folate is another B vitamin that is essential for tissue growth and cellular functions. Hair Growth Factors uses Metafolin® folate, a brand name L-methylfolate form that the body readily utilizes without the conversion of folic acid to L-methylfolate. Clinical evidence indicates that the bioavailability of Metafolin® is superior to folic acid. PABA supports the appearance of healthy hair, through its effects on melanin metabolism. Melanin, or pigment, is a substance that gives hair and skin its color.

PDS #201345







This is an extensive review article on the role of folic acid and cancer. Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin which is a member of the B vitamin complex that is important in methylation reactions and DNA and RNA synthesis. Low folate status may promote cancer. Though animal studies give conflicting data, epidemiologic studies show an association between folate and cancer of the cervix, colorectum, lung, esophagus and brain. Low folate status may play an important role in early neoplastic events. Of special interest is the role of folate in inhibiting cervical intraepitheleal neoplasia and adenomatous polyps which are precursors to cancers of the cervix and colorectum. Folic acid at 10 mg per day has been shown to improve mild to moderate dysplasia after 3 months in individuals taking oral contraceptives. In another study of 73 patients diagnosed with bronchial squamous metaplasia by sputum cytology, 37 received a placebo and 36 received a combination of 500 mcg of hydroxocobalamin and 10 mg of folic acid daily for 4 months. This resulted in improved sputum cytology scores and lead to a reduction in atypia. Some mechanisms by which low folate stores may result in cancer include: 1. A deficiency may set up a facilitator initiation. 2. Folate-deficient cells accumulate in the S-phase which increases the number of cells at risk for DNA adduct formation. 3. A low folate level could lead to increased risk of cancer because folate is important for methylation reactions that are thought to be important in regulation of gene expression. 4. Folate is necessary for DNA repair and also is important in immune function. There is evidence which supports the hypothesis that folate is important in the pathogenesis of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, possibly by its deficiency facilitating the incorporation of the human papilloma virus in the DNA.

"Folate and Cancer: A Review of the Literature", Glynn, Simone A. and Albanes, Demetrius, Nutrition and Cancer, 1994;22(2):101-119.


Purple Potatoes May Reduce Hypertension and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

 Researchers investigated the effect of high-antioxidant potatoes on hypertension. In a single-dose study, 6-8 microwaved potatoes with skins or a comparable amount of refined starch as cooked biscuits were given to normal fasting subjects (n=8), and repeated samples of blood were taken over an 8 h period. A 24 h urine was taken before and after each regimen. Potato caused an increase in plasma and urine antioxidant capacity, whereas refined potato starch caused a decrease. In a crossover study, hypertensive subjects (n=18) with an average BMI of 29 were given either six to eight small microwaved purple potatoes twice daily or no potatoes for 4 wks and then given the other regimen for 4 wks. No significant effect of potato on fasting plasma glucose, lipids, or HbA1c or significant body weight increase. Diastolic blood pressure significantly decreased 4.3%, a 4 mm reduction. Systolic blood pressure decreased 3.5%, a 5 mm reduction. Results suggest that purple potatoes are a potentially effective hypotensive agent and may reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke in hypertensive subjects without weight gain.

"High-Antioxidant Potatoes: Acute in Vivo Antioxidant Source and Hypotensive Agent in Humans after Supplementation to Hypertensive Subjects," Vinson JA, Demkosky CA, et al, J Agric Food Chem, 2012 Feb 6; [Epub ahead of print]. (Address: Department of Exercise Science and Sport, University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, USA. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ).





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