Energy, Hair, and Memory

Q. Dear Dr. Dean,

I was referred to you by the person at the Life Enhancement website. I would like to order some of the products but because of my medical history I need to be cautious. A friend who has been using BLAST and Memory Upgrade for years recommended I try it. I am an 8-year breast cancer survivor (hormone driven HER2). I have also had Melanoma, one in situ, one stage 3 with no spreaders. No occurrences since 2005. I also have Graves’ disease that was treated and I am now on no medication for it.

I am interested in any product that will give me more energy, reduce hair loss, and also help my mental acuity. I am 68 years old and active.

Since I have very little to no hormone production (due to age and chemo), is there a product that would be safe for me to use that would also increase my libido? I now take Biotin for hair growth, Vitamin D, Flaxseed and fish oil, B12 sublingual, CoQ10, and a chewable multivitamin. Any recommendations will be helpful.

PAT, Roswell, GA

A. Dear Pat,

Your history of melanoma raises some concern about your use of BLAST, due to its high phenylalanine concentration. Durk and Sandy themselves raise this caution in their landmark book, Life Extension, a Practical Scientific Approach. They caution (p. 343) that “Pigmented malignant melanoma produces its black melanin pigment by the autoxidation of aromatic amino acids such as tyrosine, phenylalanine, and L-Dopa.” Elsewhere in the book (p. 136) they warn that “Phenylalanine supplements should not be used in patients … with pre-existing pigmented melanoma. …” Consequently, I would discourage your use of BLAST.

On the other hand, I think you may benefit significantly from Memory Upgrade. An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association several years ago, titled “Decreased Brain Choline Uptake in Older Adults,”1 reported that as we get older, our ability to bring choline across the blood-brain barrier into our brains drops dramatically. At the age of 65, or thereabouts, we may have only about 30% of our young-adult capability for transporting choline across the blood-brain barrier. This can be a real problem, as choline is the precursor of acetylcholine, one of our most important neurotransmitters in our brains.

The Institute of Medicine recommended a dose of 550 mg/day for men and 425 mg/day for women, noting that most American diets don’t provide even that much. Considering that the ability of choline to get into our brains drops by about 70%, beware! Our brains are going to be extremely choline-deficient by age 65 unless we’re taking a much larger choline supplement.

As part of Durk & Sandy’s brain-maintenance formulation, they provide 2 to 3 grams of choline per day in the form of their tasty drink mix, Memory Upgrade. Even with a 70% reduction in the transport of choline into your brain, this will still give you choline levels that are higher than you would have had as a healthy young adult. Durk & Sandy wanted to make sure that our brains aren’t starved for choline, because there’s a very serious consequence. If you don’t make enough acetylcholine, neurons die off when they are cannibalized for the choline contained in their membranes.

Two other cognitive-enhancing formulas you might consider are GalantaMind and CerebroPlex. These can all be taken together. Just start with one, and add others sequentially, until you find the combination that works for you.

You mentioned that you were interested in any product that would give you more energy, reduce hair loss, and also help your mental acuity. You also mentioned your history of Graves’ disease (hyperthyroidism). You said that this had been treated, but you didn’t say by what method—anti-thyroid medication, radioactive pellets, or surgery. By whatever method, one of the common side effects is over-treatment—i.e., going from being hyper- to hypo- thyroid. Several of the symptoms of hypothyroidism are fatigue and loss of energy, thinning hair, and foggy thinking. Sound like someone you know? Perhaps you would benefit by fine-tuning your thyroid.

I don’t pay a lot of attention to the standard thyroid function tests (which in many cases are a waste of blood). Instead, I adjust a patient’s dose of thyroid by how they’re doing, and by noting the resting heart rate (which I like to maintain in the 65–75 range) and body temperature. If the heart rate increases, reduce the dose.

If you think you may be hypothyroid, I suggest Life Enhancement’s ThyroPlex (or Armour thyroid, by prescription from your physician, or from an overseas internet pharmacy). Just start with a low dose, and gradually titrate the dose based on your response.

In addition to adding ThyroPlex to your regimen (if appropriate), you might consider adding Life Enhancement’s Root Food II to enhance your hair growth. Root Food II is Durk & Sandy’s latest version, and is substantially improved, with much larger amounts of vitamin B2 along with relatively high levels of cysteine, inositol, and taurine, one of the functions of which is to downregulate the oxidation of cysteine to cystine, thereby maintaining more cysteine for your hair. The 250 mg of taurine that you get in four capsules is far more than you can get in your diet, even though red meat, a principal source of taurine.

A hair growing formula of which I have recently become aware is a combination of Chinese herbs called PriaPlex. I have seen success in a number of my patients in as little as three months, with significant thickening and re-growth of hair. (It doesn’t work on completely bald skin—only when hair growth is thinning). It dramatically stops hair loss. You can read about this formula at www.PriaPlex.com, or order from 866–778–2646. Tell them Life Enhancement sent you.

Topical natural progesterone, available over the counter without a prescription, may also help promote hair growth (on the scalp), improve mood, boost libido, and prevent osteoporosis. It will not adversely affect your cancer history—and may, in fact, be protective. Another potential libido-enhancing substance is DHEA. I recommend 25 mg be taken in the morning. Women very efficiently convert DHEA to testosterone, so the dose-limiting factor for DHEA is excessive testosterone, manifest by voice deepening, facial hair, etc. These effects are rapidly reversible with discontinuation or reduction in the dose. Some very sensitive women are able to tolerate only 15 or as little as 5 mg per day. DHEA is also cancer protective.

Finally, another product that I strongly recommend is the drug Metformin. Metformin is the best anti-aging drug there is, and assists with healthy weight loss. It is also a useful adjunct for cancer prevention and treatment. I recommend 500 mg three times daily. Metformin requires a prescription, or can be obtained without one from off-shore pharmacies. You should be able to find my articles about Metformin on the internet. People who take Metformin invariably report that they feel better, have more energy, and lose their carbohydrate cravings.

I hope these suggestions are helpful.

Ward Dean, M.D.

Reference

  1. Cohen BM, Renshaw PF, Stoll AL, Wurtman RJ, Yurgelun-Todd D, Babb SM. Decreased brain choline uptake in older adults. An in vivo proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy study. JAMA 1995 Sep 20;274(11):902-7.

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