Did You Know?
HELPING YOUR HEART WITH
spirin is an extraordinary "drug." Not only does it alleviate certain types of pain, including headache, but it also helps prevent heart attacks. What's more, it may even be able to reduce the deadliness of cancer.1 Charles Hennekens, M.D., an aspirin researcher at Harvard University and long-time head of the Physicians' Health Study, calls aspirin, at about a nickel a tablet, "the greatest preventive medical bargain of all time."
Yet despite its incredible power, it is amazing that aspirin is sold freely and that anyone can buy it over the counter - even children! Undoubtedly this is because many people recognize that it is a natural product. Records of its use go back at least to the fifth century B.C. - Hippocrates wrote of a bitter powder extracted from the bark of a willow to treat aches and pains, as did Chinese physicians about the same time. Nonetheless, it wasn't until the eighteenth century that aspirin came into its own, after Edmund Stone, a British herbalist, described its usefulness in fighting fever. One century later, an industrial chemist, Felix Hoffman, working for a German company named Bayer, synthesized the active substance, acetylsalicylic acid. Calling it aspirin, Bayer developed a commercial process for its production and promoted its use for treating arthritis at the end of the nineteenth century. Today Americans alone take more than 80 billion tablets of aspirin every year.
MASTIC BRINGS LIGHT TO THE DARK SIDE
Interestingly, the FDA has done its best to prevent the large-scale dissemination of some of the medical benefits of aspirin, presumably because of its concern that some individuals with a propensity to bleed might be harmed if they took aspirin for the "wrong" reasons, i.e., other than for aches and pains.
At the end of March, The New England Journal of Medicine published a paper reporting that eradicating the ulcer-causing bacterium Helicobacter pylori with antibiotics can help put an end to stomach bleeding in people who use preventive low-dose aspirin.2 It is interesting that, a few years earlier, this same journal published a letter written by several scientists, including two H. pylori experts, who stated that mastic, an ancient herbal remedy, could kill the harmful H. pylori bacteria, including strains that have developed resistance to antibiotics.
In the NEJM study, subjects taking low-dose aspirin (81 mg/day) who had a history of gastrointestinal bleeding were successfully treated for H. pylori. The recurrence of bleeding from the continued use of low-dose aspirin in these subjects was exceedingly low. Eradicating H. pylori in this group proved to be just as effective as the treatment of another group of subjects, who received the NSAID omeprazole for the control of bleeding. In other words, getting rid of H. pylori enables a person to use low-dose aspirin preventively without a high risk of bleeding as a consequence.
Mastic has been demonstrated to knock out H. pylori even more safely than the so-called triple therapy that uses a combination of antibiotic, antisecretory, and anti-inflammatory drugs (see "Mastic: No-Compromise Ulcer Eradication" in Life Enhancement, October 2000). Thus mastic may help those desiring the cardiovascular benefits of low-dose aspirin therapy. If any of your loved ones (or you) has been hampered by a sensitivity to aspirin, this may be the time to have a good look at mastic. Because of the difficulty of measuring one's sensitivity to aspirin, it is best to work with your physician to determine if you can take aspirin. With that in mind, it is now possible to do more than just contemplate the advantages of an even stronger heart, one that can stand the test of more time to be healthy.
- Murono S, Yoshizaki T, Sato H, Takeshita H, Furukawa M, Pagano JS. Aspirin inhibits tumor cell invasiveness induced by Epstein-Barr virus latent membrane protein 1 through suppression of matrix metalloproteinase-9 expression. Cancer Res 2000 May 1;60(9):2555-61.
- Chan FK, Chung SC, Suen BY, Lee YT, Leung WK, Leung VK, Wu JC, Lau JY, Hui Y, Lai MS, Chan HL, Sung JJ. Preventing recurrent upper gastrointestinal bleeding in patients with Helicobacter pylori infection who are taking low-dose aspirin or naproxen. N Engl J Med 2001 Mar 29;344(13):967-73.
DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY
SLOW WOUND HEALING
ave you ever cut yourself with a knife while preparing food in the kitchen? You probably have - accidents are a part of life. Yet you thought, "No big deal," because the inconvenience of that cut, and other minor wounds, was temporary: they healed rapidly. Then one day you noticed that things had changed. Injuries that once disappeared within a few days remained, sometimes for weeks . . . maybe even months
Is this decline yet another sign of aging, or could there be another factor involved? Recently, a study conducted in the United Kingdom drew attention to a remarkable finding: wounds take longer to heal in those who are depressed or anxious.1 The basis for this conclusion was the psychological diagnosis of 53 adults undergoing treatment for leg wounds. Among 16 of these individuals who were found to have clinically measurable levels of anxiety, 15 experienced significant delays in wound healing, compared to matched controls. Of 13 other subjects found to be depressed, all were slower to heal as well.
5-HTP FOR STRONGER IMMUNE FUNCTION
While the researchers considered the possibility that depressed people may not take very good care of themselves, they also cited prior research showing that anxiety and depression suppress the immune system, which plays a vital role in wound healing.2 Other research has shown that low brain levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin are associated with an increased propensity to suffer from depression and anxiety. This is a good reason to consider taking the serotonin precursor 5-HTP, for purposes of "preventive maintenance" - not just for mood control and a sense of well-being, but also for improved immune function and wound healing (see "Alleviating Anxiety with 5-HTP Is Good for Your Heart" in Life Enhancement, April 2001).
ARGININE MAY HELP WOUND HEALING TOO
Don't forget that the amino acid arginine has also been found to be of substantial value in this regard (see "Arginine Puts the Force Within You" in Life Enhancement, January 2000). Among arginine's possible benefits are: (1) protecting the skin from damage and hastening wound healing,3 (2) increasing growth hormone release, and (3) it is the principal source of nitric oxide (NO), a molecule that operates in the body to increase memory and heighten sexuality, among other things. Curiously, NO is thought to explain, in part, arginine's protective and healing functions for the skin.4
- Cole-King A, Harding KG. Psychological factors and delayed healing in chronic wounds. Psychosom Med 2001 Mar-Apr;63(2):216-20.
- Eilat E, Mendlovic S, Doron A, Zakuth V, Spirer Z. Increased apoptosis in patients with major depression: a preliminary study. J Immunol 1999 Jul 1;163(1):533-4.
- Hansbrough JF, Herndon DN, Heimbach DM, Solem LD, Gamelli RL, Tompkins RG. Accelerated healing and reduced need for grafting in pediatric patients with burns treated with arginine-glycine-aspartic acid peptide matrix. RGD Study Group. J Burn Care Rehabil 1995;16:377-87.
- Schaffer MR, Tantry U, van Wesep RA, Barbul A. Nitric oxide metabolism in wounds. J Surg Res 1997;71:25-31.