Botanical Nutrition

by Rob Seeman official blogger of the health food movement


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New research shows Maca root contains compounds which stimulate the body’s own cannabinoid system

Talk about being on the cutting edge of science here, folks.  Now more than ever, scientists are furiously researching the activity of our body’s own endocannabinoid system (ECS) as a major factor in some very important areas of brain and Central Nervous System functioning.  Now, research by Z Hadju et al published just yesterday shows that Maca root aka Lepidium meyenii or Lepidium peruvianum (yes that amazing Peruvian super food you may have heard me talk about just a little bit) contains compounds which may have important effects on various protein targets in the ECS system.  These compounds, called N-alkylamides (NAAs), have an effect that is described as cannabomimetic.

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This is fascinating not just because it gives one more exciting insight (from a thoroughly reductionist standpoint, mind you) of how dynamic plants are.  It is especially timely because it parallels a re-visitation our society and our scientists are having with cannabinoids.  New pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements and brain therapies are being developed around these stunning new developments and the potential for tapping into our body’s own regulation mechanisms.  Which is, clearly, what plant medicines do best because of their own internal regulatory mechanisms and unique things like secondary metabolites.

In an article in the NY TImes, celebrity food author and philosopher Michael Pollan talks about the cannabanoid network “A brain chemical that sharpens the senses, narrows your mental focus, allows you to forget everything extraneous to the task at hand (including physical discomfort and the passage of time) and makes you hungry would seem to be the perfect pharmacological tool for Man…” While this is extremely relevant to research on compounds such as CBD extracted from industrial hemp (and therefore legal in all 50 states) it may apply to many botanicals in different ways, as well as to our body’s own intrinsic production of compounds such as anandamide (named for the Vedic word ananda, meaning bliss).

 


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In defense of Dr Oz and DSHEA : Nutritional supplements save lives

I’m sure you’ve heard by now about Dr Oz’s recent testimony to Congress.  I won’t ramble on and on about it like comedian John Oliver did (doing what is known in comedic acting circles as a ‘hatchet job’) skewering DSHEA by using Tryptophan scare-facts (even though the Tryptophan contamination was well before current laws or even most of the companies today were around) to allege once again that supplements are “unregulated”.

Dr. Mehmet Oz

You know who regulates supplements? The Food and Drug Administration.  And while some might disagree with me, they actually in my opinion do a fine job of regulating the dietary supplement industry to try and prevent adulteration by unscrupulous companies out to make a quick buck rather than to make your health better.

The truth is this : nutritional supplements save lives.  And while allopathic medicine (presciption pharmaceuticals) are the primary mode of care in this country, many of us would rather try a softer gentler approach of either upping our intake of key essential nutrients or using time-tested (and often, scientifically researched – in other parts of the world) natural remedies to try and support our bodies’ natural healing process.  Oh, and don’t forget food!  Under DSHEA all of these items are protected as something Americans have a right to access – even if they usually aren’t covered by health insurance, although some more progressive plans do allow for spending on supplements.

I’m not saying that every supplement Dr Oz recommends, or that everything he says, is a wise choice.  He is a television personality and his quest to describe to his audience various ‘life hacks’ which he describes as ‘magic’ are – to me, someone I consider fairly reasonable – to be taken with a grain of salt.  If something is clinically shown to increase your metabolism, should he describe the double-blind placebo-controlled research in overly scientific terms? Or, considering his audience, would saying it is ‘magic’ suffice?

David Copperfield Launches His Australian Tour In Sydney

Personally, I would never recommend a weight loss supplement without suggesting any individual address diet and exercise at the same time.  While some supplements do have a positive effect on metabolism vis a vis blood sugar balance, fat metabolism, etc. there is no doubt that especially in this arena diet and exercise will have the greatest impact.  This is what natural medicine should be all about, wholism.

So when someone attacks supplements by going after Dr Oz, I think we all have to take note. We’ve been here before, and before DSHEA, we all had to seriously worry about whether some kind of smear campaign would threaten access to natural medicines.

Certainly it is only realistic to consider that some in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry consider dietary supplements a threat to their business, particularly Monsanto. Interestingly, in case you missed it, last week the Natural News health ranger Mike Adams published a post titled  Senator who attacked Doctor Oz over dietary supplements received over $146,000 in campaign contributions from Big Pharma mega-retailer and Monsanto. Who is playing politics now?

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