Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Local Honey Helps Allergies/Sweetens Lovelife

“Now, don’t kiss your honey while your nose is ‘runny’.  You might think it’s funny, but it’s snot.”
    –author unknown

Spring fever, by definition, refers to an increase in energy, vitality and particularly sexual appetite.  Unfortunately many of us are ravaged by the symptoms of allergies during spring which can give you that “not-so-sexy” feeling.  To minimize the irony  of these two conflicting feelings one may want to consider eating a teaspoon of local honey each day to ward off the symptoms of early springtime allergens.  This natural sweetener may be the key to sweetening up your lovelife during allergy seasons.
Pollen counts have already reached abnormally high springtime levels this mild winter, activating allergic reactions in many people.  Research literature available on this topic is quite scarce.  One study done ten years ago found that there were no benefits to eating local honey.  However, a new study published last year came to a very positive conclusion.
This brand new study assessed the effects of the pre-seasonal use of birch pollen honey or regular honey on symptoms and medication during birch pollen season.
A total of 44 patients with diagnosed birch pollen allergy consumed either the birch pollen honey or regular honey daily from November to March.  The control group consisted 17 patients who were just using their usual allergy medication to control symptoms.
The study found that, during birch pollen season, compared to the control group, the patients using birch pollen honey experienced:
1. 60% reduction in symptoms
2.  Twice as many asymptomatic days
3.  70% fewer days with severe symptoms
4.  50% decrease in usage of antihistamines
The theory behind honey’s natural healing is very sound.  Local bees pick up pollen from the plants in your local area.  The honey the bees make then acts as a vaccine by introducing these allergens to your body an activating your immune system response to these irritants, eventually leading to immunity from the allergens.
There are a few things to consider before adding local honey to your diet, however.  Be certain you are not allergic to honey it self.  You risk going int anaphylactic shock if you are.  Also, be careful, to monitor your daily intake of fructose, especially if you are diabetic, obese, have high blood pressure or high cholesterol.  A teaspoon of honey has 4 grams of fructose in it.  Ideally you want to keep your fructose intake below 25 grams per day.
In addition to this latest encouraging study there is an extremely high amount of anecdotal evidence hailing the benefits of honey by people who have tried it and had great results.  I, myself, had severe allergic reactions in the spring and fall upon my return to the Midwest five years ago from Southern California.  Since I have been using a teaspoon of local honey in my coffee every morning the last two years, I have seen a significant reduction in my symptoms.
Spring fever is looming so consider using local honey to keep those nagging allergies at bay, and remove the humor from kissing and your lovelife!
ref.-Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology February 2002;88(2):198-203
ref.-International Archives of Allergy and Immunology 2011;155(2): 160-166

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Why Vitamin D Supplementation Is Important

Approximately one-half of the healthy North American population and four-fifths of those with chronic disease are Vitamin D deficient.  The recognition of this startling statistic over the past few years is the reason why Vitamin D deficiency is now considered a pandemic.  Those with vitamin D deficiency experience a 39% increase in annual healthcare costs than those with normal vitamin D levels. Vitamin D deficiency is linked to the following:
  1. osteoporosis
  2. cardiovascular disease
  3. cancer
  4. autoimmune diseases
  5. multiple sclerosis
  6. pain
  7. loss of cognitive function
  8. decreased strength
  9. increased rate of all-cause mortality
Exposure to sunlight is the most common method of getting Vitamin D3 in our systems. Since too much sunlight can increase your risk of melanoma a safer and more practical approach to Vitamin D intake it through pill or liquid form. But which form of Vitamin D is best?
Supplemental vitamin D is available in 2 distinct forms: ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Pharmacologists have officially regarded these 2 forms as equivalent and interchangeable, yet this presumption of equivalence is based on studies of rickets prevention in infants conducted 70 years ago. The emergence of 25-hydroxyvitamin D as a measure of vitamin D status provides an objective, quantitative measure of the biological response to vitamin D administration. As a result, vitamin D3 has proven to be the more potent form of vitamin D in all primate species, including humans. Despite an emerging body of evidence suggesting several plausible explanations for the greater bioefficacy of vitamin D3, the form of vitamin D used in major preparations of prescriptions in North America is vitamin D2. The case that vitamin D2 should no longer be considered equivalent to vitamin D3 is based on differences in their efficacy at raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, diminished binding of vitamin D2 metabolites to vitamin D binding protein in plasma, and a nonphysiologic metabolism and shorter shelf life of vitamin D2. Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, should not be regarded as a nutrient suitable for supplementation or fortification (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 84, No. 4, 694-697, October 2006).
To find out if you are deficient in Vitamin D3 contact your primary medical physician and request a blood test to determine the level of Vitamin D3 in your system.
Recommended dosing of Vitamin D3:  The loading dose of supplemental vitamin D3 should be about 20,000 IU/day for 3-6 months with a maintenance dose of 5,000 IU/day. Those taking this amount of supplemental vitamin D3 should periodically have their serum 25 (OH) D3 levels measured.