Antioxidants: study results call for wider application

Health leaders challenge colleagues to act on advances made in antioxidant research as patients seek natural alternatives.

provided by Blitz & Associates, Inc.


eaders in integrated medicine, which combines traditional and natural alternatives, have delivered a clear message to their colleagues: research supports the use of natural antioxidants to prevent and treat illnesses and improve patients' overall health.

Clinicians and world-renown researchers gathered to share their findings one day before the annual meeting of the Oxygen Club of California (OCC) '98 World Congress, an assembly of prominent scientists in antioxidant research from around the world. The speakers described remarkable case studies in which they successfully use antioxidants, such as vitamin E, carotenoids, Pycnogenol, French maritime pine bark extract and alpha-lipoic acid. Numerous studies have shown that antioxidants provide powerful protection against free-radical oxidation that leads to cancer, heart disease, arthritis and other degenerative conditions.


Excerpts from the presentations


Julian Whitaker, M.D., President and Founder, Whitaker Wellness Institute, Newport Beach, CA, "Why More Doctors Should be Recommending Vitamin E":

"The jury has reached a verdict and I urge my medical colleagues to listen carefully. It's no longer a question of should our patients be taking antioxidant supplements, but rather which ones and why. It's time that physicians recognize the value of the growing body of research showing the many health benefits of natural antioxidants. The paucity of physician recommendations for vitamin E or any other commonly available nutritional supplement is indicative of the nonscientific nature of medicine. Millions of men and women are taking vitamin E without waiting for their doctors to recommend it. A majority of physicians themselves take vitamin E, yet fail to recommend it to their patients, indicating that forces other than patient benefit govern physician decision-making.

"The medical industry, including its educational outreach, is virtually owned by the pharmaceutical industry. Since nutritional supplements can't be patented by the pharmaceutical companies, they are never included in the physician education. Supplemental natural vitamin E is safe, inexpensive, corrects nutritional deficiencies and reduces disease risk factors. It can and should be recommended by physicians to their patients."

Lester Packer, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of California, Berkeley, CA; OCC President, "Cold and Flu Sufferers Take Note: Pycnogenol May Help Immune System":

"Pycnogenol French maritime pine bark extract may be a difficult word to say but its benefits are clear-cut and powerful. Pycnogenol (pronounced "pik-nah-je-nal") can help the immune system fight off infection, including colds and flu. It affects cellular production of nitric oxide. The maintenance of tight regulation of nitric oxide production is fundamental to health, including immune defenses against viruses, bacteria and other parasites. Pycnogenol is the most potent antioxidant compared with other natural plant extracts because it contains a naturally occurring complex of more than 40 bioflavonoids and organic acids.

"Overall, studies have shown that Pycnogenol serves two important functions as both an antioxidant and as a circulation enhancer. As an antioxidant, it protects against free radicals, boosts defenses against disease, and safeguards from environmental stress. As a circulation enhancer, it helps improve circulation, strengthens blood vessels and delivers oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Pycnogenol appears to act in the redox antioxidant network at the interface between vitamin C and vitamin E. In fact, Pycnogenol was found to be remarkably effective in extending the effectiveness of vitamin C and to regenerate vitamin E. This indicates that Pycnogenol can play an important role in the antioxidant network."

Soram Singh Khalsa, M.D., Private Practice, Internal Medicine and Functional Medicine, Beverly Hills, CA, "Practical Uses for Antioxidants in the Treatment and Prevention of Chronic Disease":

"When Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles asked me to be the Chairman of the Executive Steering Committee for their Complementary Medicine Program, I knew we had turned a corner. But, we still have a long way to go in bringing awareness of the benefits of Complementary Medicine and especially antioxidants to the American public at large.

"A recently published study shows that our country could save nearly $20 billion in U.S. annual hospital charges through regular use of specific vitamin supplements to prevent premature births, birth defects, and coronary artery disease. Almost $5 billion a year could be saved alone with daily vitamin E supplements to prevent coronary artery disease, according to the study authors.

"In my practice I have seen dramatic results with health regimens that include a combination of antioxidants because I believe that they work best as an integrated network. I give almost all of my patients a simple blood test to measure the degree of oxidative stress as indicated by certain markers. This gives me a framework from which to work and, most importantly, to document improvement.

"Conditions from chronic fatigue syndrome to autoimmune diseases and malignancies can be benefited through these measures. I see people from all walks of life, including high-profile executives and influential members of the Hollywood community, who come to my practice for the benefit that this approach can provide them."

Tori Hudson, ND, A Woman's Time Clinic, Portland, OR; Professor of Gynecology, National College of Naturopathic Medicine, "Soy and Antioxidants for Women":

"Soybeans and phytoestrogens are the ideal protein for women. The science has overwhelmingly shown that they can help baby-boomer women deal with their two greatest concerns menopause and breast cancer. I prescribe exercise, supplements, phytoestrogens, and natural hormones. I see women shying away from estrogens for several reasons. Women mistrust conventional medicine. They are afraid of the effects of taking estrogen. And, although heart disease is the number one killer, breast cancer is the number one threat that freaks us all out.

"Women have choices. Antioxidants and soy provide powerful protection from degenerative diseases, breast cancer and other cancers. They also provide relief from many problems, such as heavy menses or menopause. As one of the first naturopathic physicians to conduct independent research, I have studied the effects of alternative treatments with antioxidants, botanicals and soy in cancer treatments and menopause. When you consider that over 1.6 million women have breast cancer, that 185,000 more will be diagnosed with it this year and that 45,000 will die from this dreaded disease in the coming year, we desperately need better health care for women in this country and around the world. Not only for breast cancer, but also our number one risk, heart disease, and others.

"My interest in improving the status of women's health and my professional experience allowed me to play a key role in the establishment of the Office for the Study of Alternative Medicine within the National Institutes of Health. Women are slowly beginning to realize that they have health care options and we must work hard to build awareness and educate them about these choices."

Burton Berkson, M.D., Ph.D., President, Integrative Medical Center, Las Cruces, NM, "The Remarkable Benefits of Alpha-Lipoic Acid" :

"As the Principal FDA Investigator for intravenous alpha-lipoic acid treatments in acute liver diseases, and a consultant to the National Centers for Disease Control, I have seen firsthand how alpha-lipoic acid can save lives. Recently, there's been an explosion in alpha-lipoic acid research and the medical community is beginning to see its significance. Let me share a couple of case studies from my own practice: A 35-year-old woman with severe hepatitis C was advised by other physicians that she would probably die without a liver transplant. After successfully treating her with alpha-lipoic acid, she was able to avoid the transplant.

"A number of recent studies have also shown alpha-lipoic acid to be effective in treating diabetic neuropathy. A 55-year-old man with adult onset diabetes was informed by his doctors that there was practically nothing they could do about his incapacitating burning feet and pins and needles in his hands. After months of treatment including alpha-lipoic acid, this man no longer suffers from these symptoms. Alpha-lipoic acid should be considered in the same class as vitamin E based on its remarkable benefits and impressive research."

Members of the Oxygen Club of California World Congress include leading scientists in the field of reactive oxygen species. The OCC meets annually to report on the latest findings from antioxidant intervention trials and epidemiologic studies and to discuss the health effects of antioxidant nutrients.

Contact: Blitz & Associates (847) 945-0101;