Natural Medicine Q&A
Ask Dr. P
by Kasra Pournadeali, ND
Natural Medicine Specialist
Greetings Journal Reader! I hope you’ve been enjoying the temperate climate we are so lucky to have here in the Northwest. Spending some time outdoors, and getting some fresh air is the order of the day. Staying active is one of the single most important things you can do for you.
In continuation of my heart health series, this month’s column addresses use of antioxidants & other nutrients for those of you trying to prevent, treat, and reverse heart disease. Yes, with an individualized plan, Natural Medicine really can work for your heart condition. Enjoy!
Dr. P, can antioxidants really make a difference in preventing and treating heart disease? Chad .
Chad, the use of antioxidants & other nutrients for heart health is not without controversy. The primary basis for antioxidant use in the past has been to prevent oxidation of lipids (cholesterol) in the blood. This is important from a biochemical standpoint as when cholesterol in your blood gets damaged (oxidized) plaques form. Therefore antioxidants are thought to have a protective effect against plaques formation. However, since theory and results often vary, most physicians make recommendations based on evidence: What really happens in your body when a certain therapy is used.
So, what is the real evidence with use of supplements in heart disease? In the case of antioxidants, the evidence (published in respected journals such as the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the Australian Journal of Medicine, Biofactors, and Alternative Medicine Review,) does in fact show that certain nutrients can have beneficial effects in the treatment and prevention of heart disease. Preventing damage to arteries (which leads to heart disease,) helping clotbusters work properly (if you have had a heart attack,) reversing plaque formation, reducing your risk of a heart attack, and preventing bad heart rhythms & death if you’ve had a heart attack, are all helpful qualities of nutrient supplementation.
For example, in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association, 60% of patients using vitamin C, three times a day, for 2-6 months, had reduction in the size of their artery plaques, while 0% not using the vitamin C had improvement. In another study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, patients with repaired narrowings who had vitamin C after the repair were ½ as likely to have the narrowing recur than those who didn’t take the vitamin C. Other studies (Journal of the Canadian Medical Assoc.) show that taking magnesium before heart attacks can reduce the severity of damage to the heart, while using multiple nutrients, intravenously and then by mouth, can reduce damage, chest pain, and improve heart function after a heart attack (American Journal of Cardiology). Why doesn’t every patient get a prescription for intravenous and pill-type vitamins during or just after a heart attack? I’m not sure. Perhaps it is because natural medicine experts are not yet on staff at every hospital. Do I think we should be? Of course! Should you wait for the politics of hospital administration to catch up with what’s in your best interests? Of course not! Each of us should encourage our state & city funded hospital administrators to bring in natural medicine specialists, but don’t wait for that to happen before getting help. Consult with your Naturopathic Physician today to find out what kind of nutrient therapy is appropriate for you. And, join me in the upcoming months for further discussion on heart health. Be Well!
For more information or to schedule an
appointment, please contact the Northwest Center for Optimal Health at (360)