Health Notes

Health Notes: January 2017

By Rachel Silverstone

I cherish the occasional crisp, bright blue and chilly days of January, between weeks of smog and inversion. These days are my beacon of hope for successful New Year’s Resolutions, while the smoggy days bring ruminations of old habits and decisions of the year past. We always have room to be better to ourselves, through awareness in how we breathe, eat, walk, sit, talk and dance, but striving for perfection is not my favorite method.

Set your intention for kindness and…

[mantra for the month]

“Let the light of wisdom into your energy field.” – Daoist monk saying on the goal of meditation.


Ashwagandha reduces serum cortisol levels, indicator of stress

Ashwagandha, withania somnifera, winter cherry, Indian ginseng, or in my book, “wave-your-magic-wandha,” are all names for the ancient herbal Ayurvedic adaptogen, historically used to help with anxiety and sleep and to stabilize blood sugar.

Ashwagandha, a member of the Solanaceae family (along with tomatoes, peppers, deadly nightshade, datura and potatoes) contains  a class of over 300 naturally occurring steroids called withanolides. They have demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects, and also positively affect the neural receptors for GABA, a key sleep neurotransmitter. Its most pronounced biochemical effect is its ability to lower baseline cortisol levels, important physiological indicator of stress. In a recent  study  in Pune, India, participants responded better with ashwaganda than with a placebo, and had a 22% re­duction in blood serum cortisol levels after eight weeks of twice-daily 300mg doses of ashwagandha.

Anxiety and poor sleep are a devilish duo, which can lead to stress-related weight gain. The compounding effect of anxiety and poor sleep can affect the brain’s detoxification system, the recently discovered glymphatic system, which functions primarily while we sleep.

Look for supplements of ashwagandha root (not the leaves), with more than 5% withanolides. The classic Ayurvedic method is to take 600 mg-1,000mg daily in warm milk.


New diagnostic tool of breath: the Nanoarray can detect 17 diseases in humans

Before blood tests, urine tests and swab tests, healers used their highly tuned observational skills to diagnose patients via smelling, of a patient’s body odor, feces and breath. Now, thousands of years later, technology is being developed to distinguish a unique “breath print” of each disease.

Breath consists of combinations of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and over 100 volatile components. Of these, 13 of the exhaled chemical species were identified in various combinations with 17 certain diseases.

Researchers from Israel, France, the USA, Latvia and China have collaborated on this groundbreaking technology, using breath samples of over 1,400 healthy and sick people. Initial studies indicate that the artificially intelligent nanoarray was 86% accurate, and presence of one disease would not rule out the detection of others. This is a huge step in the direction of affordable and easy-to-use tools to detect diseases, especially of the targeted cancerous, inflammatory and neurological diseases of this study.


Risk for cardiovascular events identified with low vitamin D levels

Vitamin D deficiency, a rising trend in Americans, especially among older women, was shown in a 2015 study by researchers at Salt Lake City’s Intermountain Medical Center (IHC) Heart Institute to correlate with heart health. Assessment for vitamin D levels can be determined through a simple blood test.

The normal level for vitamin D serum is about 30 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml). IHC’s Dr. J. Brent Muhlestein, co-director of cardiovascular research, found that people with serum vitamin D levels levels below 15 ng/ml have a higher rate of cardiovascular events, compared to those with levels above 15 ng/ml. This conclusion was found from following over 41,000 patients and correlating their vitamin D levels with risk of cardiovascular events.

Dosage is important, as shown in a recent study led by H. Paulson, ND, FABNO (Fellow of the American Board of Naturopathic Oncology). The effect of high-dose vitamin D3 supplementation (4,000 IU daily) was compared to low-dose vitamin D3 (400 IU daily), by measuring cell-mediated immune response, an indicator of T cells being activated to target and destroy infected cells. The higher dosage of vitamin D3 had a significant effect on fewer immune responses after just two months of supplementation, compared to insignificant increase  of the low-dosage group.

Humans synthesize vitamin D from sun exposure and consuming fish, fish liver oils, egg yolks and some dairy and grain products. “This study sheds new light and direction on which patients might best benefit from taking vitamin D supplements,” Dr. Muhlestein concludes.

See full article on Dr. Muhlestein: and the research by Dr. H. Paulson, ND:


This article was originally published on December 31, 2016.