Welcome to Natural Health by Karen Vaughan, MSOM, Science writer, Licensed Acupuncturist, and Registered Herbalist (American Herbalists Guild) A photo of Acupuncturist Karen Vaughan

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EMR Protection

I have been concerned about electromagnetic radiation for some time, long before the cell towers and cordless phones invaded our lives. I live in an old house with unshielded wiring. I have been using MRET technology and tubular cell phone headsets to shield my family and clients.

Read about it on Karen"s EMR Protection Page.

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If you are interested in an appointment or want to know more about my practice, please click on "Appointments" or "My Practice" above. And feel free to explore the blog.

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Focus and Dreamwave Entrainment CDs and MP3s

I love these programs which let you use your dreams consciously, develop your insight and improve your focus, all with tones that entrain you and no words.

Dreamwalk Program CD

Insight Program With Gentle Rain MP3

Insight Program With Ocean Sounds MP3

Focus Program With Rain

MP3Writer's Mind CD

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Gut Bacteria, Parkinson’s and Stem Cells

350px-stem_cell_treatments-svgI found two exciting pieces of research this week that will affect my treatment. If you have been following me you will know that I am fascinated with the gut bacteria and the other tiny creatures that account for 90% of our DNA. The gut/brain interface is more fascinating than you might imagine!

The first study from the University of Helsinki found that the gut bacteria- the microbiome- of people with Parkinson’s is different than that of healthy people.  We have more of some bacteria- which increase the worse the symptoms get and others have gone missing, relatively speaking.

The more Enterobacteriaceae we have, the more severe the symptoms. A lack of Prevotellaceae bacteria in Parkinson’s sufferers could mean these bacteria might have a property which protects their healthy hosts from the disease. This seems strange since I generally consider Prevotellaceae to be a sign of inflammation. Or does this discovery merely indicate that intestinal dysfunction is part of the pathology? It might be a result of Parkinson’s disease.

The second piece of research in Blood, the Journal of the American Society of Hematology, shows that people with more gut bacteria do better with stem cell transplants. The more diverse the microbiome, the better the stem cells take. This of course gets me questioning the pre-op antibiotics that StemGenex recommends. Next stop is sending them the research!

Now given that a healthy gut should have some 10,000 species according to Martin Blaser’s book Missing Microbes  and a functioning biofilm, taking a probiotic with a maximum of 13 species of lactobacillis and bifidobacteria isn’t going to make it. I do like to take Saccharomyces boulardii which tends to be under-represented and soil based probiotics  for the same reason. And to eat Jerusalem artichokes which help them grow.  So I am onto my fermented food regimen which allows for unnamed wild species: full fat unsweetened yogurt from different animal milks, olives, miso of various sorts, blue cheese, kombucha, fermented veggies, kimchee, pickles, refrigerated sauerkraut and raw milk products.

Here is the summary of the research:

Gut Microbiota and Parkinson’s Disease:  Connection Made


And if you would be so kind as to help fund my Parkinson’s stem cell transplant:  http://www.gofundme.com/eg4ymk




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Safety Update on Hyperbaric Oxygen Soft Chambers

Portable mild hyperbaric chamber, 40 inch diameter

Portable mild hyperbaric chamber, 40 inch diameter (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spoke to someone who is in the business of leasing and selling hyperbaric chambers and running hyperbaric clinics who deals with a variety of brands. The single person sit-up chamber is apparently not as durable as the other ones- not something you want for a unit under pressure. (He was personally in a unit that failed and doesn’t recommend it!)

And when I did a web search on hyperbaric chamber safety and read the FDA report I found that not only did the Grand Dive bell chamber fail during its first warranty period but the replacement unit failed within 3 weeks. Those were used as directed but I also found that the soft units that go up to 7 psi use air concentrators designed for waste management and put much to much pressure on seams and zippers. The one I used last week went that high.

The chamber I used was 32″ in diameter and one could not sit even cross-legged like the 40″ chamber shown in the photo.  And it was not translucent since it was covered in blue vinyl.  Also we need to wear masks to breathe in the oxygen, but that is probably wasn’t sufficiently photogenic.

He did say that in the mild hyperbaric chamber where you breathe 80-90% oxygen through a mask in a compressed air chamber with 25% oxygen is different from a hospital unit with 100% oxygen where you cannot use electronics. And that people can safely use laptops or music sources. Hmm.

But he tells me that there is something like an 80% increased proliferation in stem cells after 40 biweekly sessions. Of course a NYC apartment is no place for a 8′ x 3′ diameter horizontal unit. So the search is still on for a place with a sit up chamber, preferably of the shared type.

See also:  Hyperbaric Oxygen?


Please help me fund stem cell therapy (plus safe hyperbaric oxygen to secure it):  http://www.gofundme.com/eg4ymk

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Hyperbaric Oxygen?

Mhbot-howonday I started my pre-implant regimen of hyperbaric oxygen. This is recommended both before and after the stem cell implant. Fat cells, especially the swollen ones in the obese, are often oxygen-starved. The idea of pre-treatment is that the fat cells used to provide the stem cells will be less hypoxic with this treatment and therefore stronger, akin to those of a younger person.

An online friend, the late Dr. Ignacio Fogel, used to sing the praises of hyperbaric oxygen which he used for patients and the Argentine Olympic team alike. At the time the only hyperbaric oxygen I could find was in hospitals, often used for nonhealing sores or scuba diving accidents. Today, with the advent of portable units there are a variety of units in medical practices and spas. I’m a little afraid of claustrophobia, but I have had a hunger for oxygen since my EMT training days.

Hyperbaric oxygen therapy puts oxygen in your fluids in a concentration that differs from say deep breathing exercises, an oxygen bar (which just uses compressed air) or oxygen tanks. The increased oxygen in the blood and body fluids bathes your cells with extra oxygen and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the par with 40 Motrin without the side effects. Apparently President Reagan used it to treat his cancer.

I promised to document both the positives and negatives.  I called Downtown PMR which had a lie down chamber that looked like the blue one illustrated. A delightful young lady gave me forms to fill out and agreed to tell the doctor that I had awakened with some vertigo and suffer from mild claustrophobia.

The chamber was an inflatable blue vinyl lie-down chamber with two small portholes near the head. It has the ability to go to 1.5ATA or the equivalent of 7.35 pounds per square inch of pressure. That is about the equivalent of diving 15 feet down, but without the scenery. There are hyperbaric chambers that only go to 3psi, but less oxygen gets into your plasma. And hospital chambers get more pressure and higher oxygen than the 80% used here, but are available only for limited uses. You spend an hour and twenty minutes in the chamber, with one hour at full pressure.  Most independent places charge $100-$120 per session.

The way it usually works is that most of the oxygen circulating in your blood is carried by hemoglobin with a small amount in the plasma. Under atmospheric pressure the oxygen gets smaller, more concentrated and significantly permeates the plasma, so you have much more circulating oxygen after a chamber session or “dive”.hyperbaric-oxygen-therapy

The size was about 7 feet long but no more than 36″ in diameter, perfect for a tall skinny person. (They say a child could sit at one end but it would need to be a tiny child and I’m betting the illustration is of a larger chamber than this was.) The oxygen comes in through a face mask but the chamber is inflated and pressurized with air. You are zipped in and a bunch of oversized seatbelts are attached around the chamber. There is an inside zipper for emergency exits but an attendant would need to unlatch the belts.

They suggested chewing gum or airplane earplugs to help clear the ears. (It might be good to have suggested bringing it in advance!) You can read although the light isn’t very good but no electronics or batteries are allowed around the oxygen which meant no music, cell phone or hypnosis mp3s.

The PT promised to stay in the room and told me that she would stay in the room and would check on me. All I needed to do was to bang on the side of the chamber. Given that a woman was unable to get out of a chamber at a spa in Chelsea earlier this year without an illicit (and potentially dangerous) phone call for help I expected they would be vigilant.

The chamber seemed like an oversized sleeping bag but did expand as it inflated. It was pretty dark since the vinyl was blue (there is a white unit on the market that is translucent and more expensive hard sided plexiglass units.) The noise was loud but not intolerable.

My claustrophobia did kick in. I did a lot of yoga breathing, tried going to my favorite hypnosis imagery, read a little from two different books, tried to sleep and made a conscious effort to keep my mind in the present. The PT had stopped checking on me and I could tell she wasn’t in the room since the only chair out of sight was full of my clothing and backpack. To be fair there was nothing much for her to do there and she probably had the door open. But when I started banging on the side so I could find out how much time I had left, she was nowhere to be found. By the time she showed up I only had 5 minutes left but was in no mood to stay. It hyperbaric belltook several minutes to depressurize.

These are the things that would have made it better: a translucent unit or one with larger portholes. A clock within sight of the unit would have helped me calibrate my energy. Music or video just outside the unit would have distracted me. An attendant with work to do in the room would have helped when I needed assistance. And since the oxygen was drying, I should have had something to drink either before or during the dive. And for me, not wanting to trigger claustrophobia, a seated “diving bell” style unit would have been better, just as I always use a Standup MRI when I need an MRI.

Now I am sorry that my diving certification lapsed because I’d rather scuba dive to compress the oxygen!

However if you know of a sit-up hyperbaric chamber around NYC, let me know.

If I can’t find one I might be back, sedated with skullcap and kava, bearing a clock and an iPad with music to play outside of the window.  Or perhaps with a dog to share the chamber with.

hbot dog………………………………………………………….
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Watermelon and Papaya for Parkinson’s

Incidentally I have found two new foods that diminish Parkinson’s tremors: watermelon and papaya. I learned about them from a Parkinson’s blogger who calls herself Aunt Bean (after the fava and mucuna beans she grows for PD.) Apparently the late pope used fermented papaya and Aunt Bean has a recipe here. I started out fermenting them. Watermelon was easy: I scooped the pulp into a blender, liquified it and added water kefir grains. It soon turned into a bubbling sour drink. The papaya was harder: I mashed the pulp and fermented it but needed to dry it on fruit leather trays which I don’t have for my dehydrator.

California Papaya grown in Indonesia, cut into...

California Papaya grown in Indonesia, cut into half (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I also read comments that the unfermented food worked and I noticed that raw watermelon and papaya seemed to reduce tremors. Fermentation does reduce sugar and add probiotics but it doesn’t keep very long. So my dehydrator is going, full of papaya slices  (the watermelon is done.)

Now I had no idea why watermelon and papaya work, and they are hardly a cure. But it was tasty and easy to incorporate into a daily diet. I still take the fava beans (note that dopamine medication could interact) but I don’t take them every day any more.

So I went on a search.  In Chinese Medicine watermelon is considered a cold medicinal herb, used to drain heat out of the body through the urine and to replenish fluids. Xi gua (watermelon) is known to clear heat, replenishes fluids, regulate urination and expel jaundice- it is used in hepatitis treatment. While the materia medica says that it goes to the Heart, Bladder and Stomach but not the liver, the attributes or meridians named after organs are not identical with those attributed to organs by Western medicine   The jaundice and hepatitis indications made me think of the liver and I guessed that glutathione production might be affected. And in fact while I still needed to check scholarly sources, Dr. Oz cites watermelon as a rich source of glutathione. And although short-lived and poorly absorbed from pills, glutathione does reduce tremors.

Watermelon provides 28 milligrams of glutathione per 100 gram portion. A perusal of PubMed shows that watermelon extract can mitigate oxidative damage from X-rays or genotoxicity and neurological balance. To use or make glutathione we need water which is in abundance in watermelon. If we are dehydrated we may not make as much glutathione as we could.

Now papaya fruit is not in the Chinese Materia Medica, but I checked PubMed using “Papaya and Glutathione” as search terms.  And, Bingo!  “A glutathione S-transferase inducer from papaya: rapid screening, identification and structure-activity relationship of isothiocyanates.”  Papaya induces glutathione.

Seedless watermelon Purchased Feb. 2005 in Atl...

Seedless watermelon Purchased Feb. 2005 in Atlanta, GA, USA The tag had the following information: mini me (TM) AYACO FARMS PERSONAL SEEDLESS WATERMELON #3421 PRODUCT OF NICARAGUA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Glutathione, a compound containing three amino acids, glutamate, cysteine and glycine, is the body’s master antioxidant and when its production is damaged a variety of things can go wrong including tremors. IV glutathione is given in a push to stop symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease but the IVs are recommended 3-7 times a week, not covered by insurance.  The landmark glutathione Parkinson’s study, Reduced intravenous glutathione in the treatment of early Parkinson’s disease., was done by the Department of Neurology, University of Sassari, Italy in 1996. In this study all patients improved significantly after glutathione therapy with a 42% decline in disability.  Neurologist Dr. Daniel Perlmutter has been giving it to PD patients since 1998. 

Now I would not be so reductionist as to say that it is only glutathione that makes watermelon or papaya work.  Watermelon hydrates which provides the a matrix for the hydronium ions that carry qi through fluids,  It is high in flavanoids Vitamin A, Vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium, not to mention cirtulline and lycopene, One slice of watermelon (485 g) contains 152 calories, 3 g protein, 34.6 g carbohydrates, 2.4 g fiber, 560 mg potassium, 176 mg vitamin A (RE), 47 mg vitamin C, 8..5 mg choline, 0.1 mg riboflavin, and 0.96 mg niacin.

Papaya contains enzymes that induce glutathione S-transferase. Papaya latex contains at least four cysteine endopeptidases and other constituents including hydrolase inhibitors and lipase.  It has rather high levels of potassium and significant levels of calcium and magnesium. Vitamin C, Vitamin A. A small fruit (157  g) contains 67 calories, 0g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 2.7 g fiber, 286 mg potassium, 1531 IU vitamin A (RE), 86.5 mg vitamin C, 15 mg folate and 0.5 mg niacin. Since the enzymatic effect is important one should avoid irradiated papayas to get the best effect.

There is evidence that a yeast fermented preparation of papaya is more effective than fresh or dried papaya.  It reduces oxidative stress and has been found to protect the brain from oxidative damage in hypertensive rats.  Pope John Paul ll was prescribed an experimental treatment made from a fermented papaya to ease symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, I suspect that the fermentation makes a difference compared to dried or raw papaya.

So incorporating watermelon and fermented papaya is an easy way to reduce symptoms. Other fruits that also have glutathione and are rich in antioxidants are berries, oranges, pomegranate, apricots, prunes,  avocado, grapefruit, strawberries, peaches, cinnamon, asparagus,  legumes, nuts, spinach and bell peppers. Or eat cysteine-rich food including dairy products such as cheese,yogurt and chicken breast since cysteine is used in glutathione synthesis. Add a couple of  Brazil Nuts for selenium (or tuna, beef, walnuts, eggs, cottage cheese, or turkey) and we are set!


See Also:

Experimental Treatment for Parkinson’s

Nutrition for Parkinson’s Disease- Part 1


Eating Watermelon for Parkinson’s Symptoms

Papaya and watermelon

Papaya and watermelon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



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Is Gluten Sensitivity Real?

English: Wheat (Triticum aestivum) near Auvers...

I get tired of seeing poor research cited as “disproving” non celiac gluten sensitivity. Wheat (Triticum aestivum) near Auvers-sur-Oise, France, June 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Letters to a NY Times article on Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity seem to regularly cite a study by Gibson et. all which is somewhat misleadingly entitled “No Effects of Gluten in Patients With Self-Reported Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity After Dietary Reduction of Fermentable, Poorly Absorbed, Short-Chain Carbohydrates.” The study was widely reported to have “disproved” gluten sensitivity, especially since the authors had previously written an article suggesting that non-celiac gluten sensitivity might be real. This small study does not disprove gluten sensitivity at all, but rather expands the things one might be sensitive to.


Gluten sensitivity can either be an early stage of celiac (the diagnostic test requires a significant amount of gut damage) or an entity of its own.  In addition there can be sensitivity to other lectins in grains,  wheat allergies, mechanical difficulty digesting wheat and sensitivity to fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates (FODMAPs).


Many people report sensitivity to American but not European gluten-containing products, citing suspected reasons like pesticides, GMOs (escaped, not permitted), milling and short fermentation procedures and reaction to the high protein hard spring and winter wheat that makes up 70-80% of the American wheat market.


Gluten is a bit like glue in its ability to cause inflammatory actions in the human gut.  Inflammation of the intestines can cause injury to the probiotic lining of the gut wall, the wall itself and finally cause gaps in the intestinal tight junctions which cause “leaky gut.”  Gluten and other lectins in wheat are difficult to digest, possibly for all people, but a strong immune system generally initiates recovery.  However the gliadin in wheat activates zonulin signalling which modulates the permeability of tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract.  This allows larger molecules to leak into the blood stream where they elicit a cascade of antibodies and either a low immune system or repeated inflammation makes this a chronic condition.


English: Diagram to show the different stages ...

English: Diagram to show the different stages of Coeliac Disease. Drawn in adobe photoshop 7.0.1 for use in the Coeliac Disease article. Drawn by me, User:WikipedianProlific for exclusive use on Wikipedia. Please do not add this diagram to another wiki without seeking my prior consent. This image is for use in the English Wikipedia. WikipedianProlific (Talk) 14:52, 12 September 2006 (UTC) Deutsch: Diagram zur Veranschaulichung der verschieden Stadien (Marsh-Kriterien) einer Zöliakie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The symptoms of gluten sensitivity as well as sensitivity to other lectins or certain FODMAPs can be frustratingly vague.  Because this is a systemic reaction not all symptoms are found in the gut and may not be noticeable there at all.  Besides gas, bloating , reflux and diarrhea, one might have migraines, mind fog, depression, aches and pains, autoimmune diseases and a vast array of other conditions. Since diagnostic food sensitivity testing has up to a 30% inaccuracy rate, elimination and possible rechallenge are the gold standard in identifying sensitivity. The glue-like nature of wheat and similar grains means that an elimination diet may require 1 1/2 to 2 months before the symptoms go away.


Cross-reactions may occur in the sensitive where similarly shaped molecules fit into gluten receptors on antibodies.  The most important ones are dairy products including whey.  You may see extensive lists based on the Cyrex Labs Array 4 which is commonly used to test further reactions to foods by the gluten sensitive but the test was not designed to test for cross-reactivity and includes a broad array of foods that do not cross-react.  A well-documented discussion of this by Christina Graves is found here.


Back to the Gibson Study.  37 people, self-described as “gluten sensitive” without celiac disease were put on a low FODMAP diet then transferred to a variety of diets (high-gluten, low-gluten and  low whey, low whey, or “control” high  whey  diets) for 1 week, followed by a washout period of at least 2 weeks. They assessed blood and fecal markers of intestinal inflammation/injury and immune activation, and fatigue. Twenty-two participants then crossed over to groups given gluten, whey, or control (no additional protein) diets for 3 days.


In all participants, gastrointestinal symptoms consistently and significantly improved during reduced FODMAP intake, but significantly worsened to a similar degree when their diets included gluten or whey protein. Gluten-specific effects were observed in only 8% of participants. There were no diet-specific changes in any biomarker. During the 3-day rechallenge, participants’ symptoms increased by similar levels among groups. Gluten-specific gastrointestinal effects were not reproduced. An order effect was observed.


The study could not rule out non celiac gluten sensitivity. Do you see the problems?


  1. Gluten cross reacts with whey so there was no real control
  2. People may be sensitive to many things, not just one
  3. Rechallenge took place in 2 weeks when it might take 2 months to clear out
  4. Elimination rather than “reduced gluten” is necessary to stop the inflammatory cascade
  5. All patients were worse with gluten or whey
  6. The notion of a “gluten specific effect” is undefined since effects are systemic but the study looked primarily at GI symptoms, fatigue and blood markers for celiac disease
  7. They tested IGA, IGG, and IGE but not IGM- not a complete measure of sensitivity (and there may be IGs we have not yet defined.) These tests are not highly accurate
  8. Absence of evidence is not itself evidence of absence.  The conclusions were overstated
  9. The study involved only 37 subjects and only 22 finished
  10. Patients were self diagnosed and could have included people with carbohydrate intolerance, sensitivity to other lectins, FODMAP sensitivity, candida, or mechanical digestive problems, This is a real problem in a small study for a condition that affects millions
  11. There are other things than gluten in glutinous grains and if elimination works it doesn’t matter from the patient’s point of view why




What the study did show was that there are other things than gluten that could cause reactivity and elimination of other dietary constituents may help


So why is there more gluten sensitivity today? Food allergies have increased about 50% in children since 1997.


  1. Significant changes in the gut microbiome
  2. Increases in early formula feeding which can sensitize babies
  3. High gluten and dairy in breastfeeding moms’ diets
  4. Breeds of wheat which differ from historical breeds and have more gluten
  5. Milling changes which break down the bran and germ into smaller particles capable of entering the bloodstream
  6. With the new milling changes in the 1870s flour was rarely freshly ground
  7. We eat more processed food with injurious additives, including gluten
  8. We have an overall higher toxin load which stresses the immune system and raises the inflammatory load




Note that grains are the biggest source of FODMAPs in most people’s diets, and maybe secondarily dairy and beans.  Stanford University’s list of low FODMAP foods are found here.  Note that they suggest the quantity of FODMAPs is critical- unlike gluten sensitivity where any amount causes inflammatory cascades, so that except for diagnostic purposes this is not a list of foods to totally exclude.  A GAPS diet will also exclude sensitizing foods.








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Experimental Treatment for Parkinson’s

Diseases and conditions where stem cell treatm...

Diseases and conditions where stem cell treatment is promising or emerging. (See Wikipedia:Stem cell#Treatments). Bone marrow transplantation is, as of 2009, the only established use of stem cells. Model: Mikael Häggström. To discuss image, please see Template talk:Häggström diagrams (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease 6 years ago. I am working as an acupuncturist, herbalist and health writer, which all require a steady hand. I have been helping run free clinics since 9-11 and do a lot of public health education on Facebook and my blog Natural Health by Karen and teach as an adjunct professor at NY College for the Health Professions. My private practice specializes in complicated conditions which is rewarding but not lucrative. At best this is a breakeven proposition so my funding for treatment is limited. I have mastered the art of ambidextrous needling and the tremor only happens at rest but the tremor is starting to spread to the other side and it will eventually affect my ability to treat patients.

I have found a promising experimental stem cell trial by StemGenex in La Jolla, California that has a special affinity for Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases. Unlike most stem cell treatment centers they use an intranasal administration to get stem cells to the brain, either traversing or signalling beyond the blood brain barrier.The treatment was pioneered for Alzheimer’s and works for that disease. They do this along with intravenous and direct injections and their internal statistics on Parkinson’s patients are much better than others since getting the stem cells into the brain is difficult. I would like to participate in the trial for this promising procedure.

I have been pre-approved for treatment but insurance will not cover experimental procedures (and trials on procedures are not covered by drug companies!)

The cost of treatment is $15,900 plus air fare of $800 and $1000 for a course of hyperbaric treatment as aftercare.

I will write in detail about the experience, documenting it with video and making medical information available regardless of outcome. This will help others considering stem cell treatment. I will focus on what can be done to enhance the treatment, based on interviews with patients, doctors and my own experiences.

If you know someone with Parkinson’s, would like to advance the medicine, want to help me or just want to do a mitzvah, I would be very grateful. If you know someone else who might help please pass this on.

Thank you for reading this far. I must acknowledge that I am a bit bewildered by this new way of dealing with health care (and hope it doesn’t sound tacky to ask for help,) but I appreciate your interest.

Donations to Paypal at ksvaughan2@aol.com  or Go Fund Me

See also:

Nutrition for Parkinson’s Disease- Part 1


Watermelon and Papaya for Parkinson’s

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How Sunlight Lowers Blood Pressure

Sunshine Coast Sunrise

Sunshine Coast Sunrise (Photo credit: Jiaren Lau)

And this isn’t about Vitamin D.

Lower Blood Pressure: Surprising New Study

Ronald Grisanti D.C., D.A.B.C.O., D.A.C.B.N., M.S.
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There is now a new natural weapon to combat against the growing population of high blood pressure sufferers.

Now this new weapon is as close as your backyard.

What I am talking about is good old sunlight.

Blood pressure levels are commonly higher during winter months.

The question you may ask is what is the mechanism that allows sunlight to lower blood pressure?

British researchers have figured out why.

The answer is nitric oxide (NO).

Nitric oxide is known to reduce blood pressure by evoking vasodilation either directly by causing relaxation of vascular smooth muscle or indirectly by acting in the rostral brainstem to reduce central sympathetic outflow, which decreases the release of norepinephrine from sympathetic nerve terminals.

Basically, nitric oxide increases the elasticity of the artery walls and helps to normalize high blood pressure.

An increasingly large body of literature suggests that alterations in the NO system may play an important role in the development or maintenance of clinical hypertension. 

What they found is that nitric oxide stored in the top layers of the skin reacts to sunlight and causes blood vessels to widen as the oxide moves into the bloodstream. That, in turn, lowers blood pressure.

According to researcher Martin Feelisch, a professor of experimental medicine and integrative biology at the University of Southampton, exposure to ultraviolet light might help reduce the risk for heart disease.

“This new study finds that UV light exposure to the skin induced nitric oxide release and modestly lowered blood pressure, suggesting that this may play a role in modulating blood pressure,” said Fonarow, a spokesman for the American Heart Association.

In 2009, a team led by the University of Edinburgh’s Richard Weller showed that human skin and the dermal vasculature contain significant stores of NO—much more than can be found circulating in the blood—and that these stores could be mobilized by UVA (long-wave UV) irradiation.

“This study provides suggestive evidence that skin-derived NO metabolites may have a role in modulation of blood pressure upon UV exposure,” Thomas Michel, a professor of medicine and biochemistry at Harvard Medical School.



Donald Liu, Bernadette O Fernandez, Alistair Hamilton, Ninian N Lang, Julie M C Gallagher, David E Newby, Martin Feelisch and Richard B Weller, UVA Irradiation of Human Skin Vasodilates Arterial Vasculature and Lowers Blood Pressure Independently of Nitric Oxide Synthase, Journal of Investigative Dermatology  20 February 2014

The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Grisanti and his functional medicine community. Dr. Grisanti encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.

Compliments from Functional Medicine University  www.FunctionalMedicineUniversity.com

** Read my past articles:

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Uses for Hydrogen Peroxide

hydrogen peroxide first aidHydrogen Peroxide does many things and is vastly underrated.  Here are several lifehacks for using it.  But don’t stock up on it because with light and air exposure and even old age, it deteriorates.  When it stops bubbling if you rinse your mouth out, it is too old.

Hydrogen peroxide is the only germicidal agent composed only of water and oxygen. Like ozone, it kills disease organisms by oxidation.  When it reacts with organic matter the free oxygen molecule attaches and water is left.  Your body even makes hydrogen peroxide to fight infection which must be present for our immune system to function correctly. White blood cells are known as leukocytes. Continue reading…

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Herbal Formulas in Common Use

Liu wei di huang wan

Liu wei di huang wan is a traditional formula made from raw herbs or from many manufacturers (Photo credit: SuperFantastic)

‘In Chinese medicine there are hundreds of traditional formulas that belong to the commons. If you buy Liu wei di huang wan (Rhemannia 6) or Bu zhong yi qi tang (Tonify the Middle and Augment the Qi Decoction) you will find essentially the same formula made by a wide variety of manufacturers under the same name. They may have minor variations but are essentially the same in function and content.Many of the recipes and their names derive from famous doctors like Zhang Zhongjing who wrote the Shan Han Lun or Sun Si Miao. The names of the formulas neither are nor can be trademarked by a single company.  The Bensky formulas book contains over 500 traditional formulas. Continue reading…

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Making Fire Cider

Fire Cider ingredients by Mountain Rose Herbs

Fire Cider ingredients by Mountain Rose Herbs

Fire Cider is a traditional anti-flu, anti-infection medicine made with lots of garlic, horseradish, onion, ginger and optional herbs like chilies, turmeric, oregano, thyme or the anti-infective herbs of your choice, steeped in apple cider vinegar.  For many years I have been making and selling Fire Cider to my patients, after purchasing a bottle from one of Rosemary Gladstar’s students.  Like the vinegar of the Seven Thieves this is one of the medicinal herb-infused vinegars that have existed for about as long as there has been vinegar.  Continue reading…

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New Year of the Trees

English: Dried fruit and nuts on a platter, tr...

Dried fruit and nuts on a platter for Tu B’Shevat.

In Israel’s winter I saw how seasons are not as discrete as in New York.  There were tangerines from the prior year and cherry blossoms from the new year on trees, in the same month.  In Jewish tradition there was a need to divide the fruits of one year from that of another in order to calculate tithes on produce and to calculate the age of trees that could not be harvested before 3 years.  So Tu B’Shevat, the 15th of the Jewish month of Shevat was chosen as the beginning of the new agricultural year, a time when most of the rain had fallen and fruit had begun to form. Over time, the holiday offered a way to renew our connection to the land.  In contemporary Israel the day is celebrated as a combination Arbor Day and ecological awareness day when trees are planted, while fruits and nuts from trees are eaten. Continue reading…

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Digestion and Weight Gain

2014 Year of the Horse

2014 Year of the Horse

I occasionally read through veterinary catalogs for horse supplements.  These animals, worth up to millions of dollars get the best of care and often state of the art medicine before it percolates down to humans. Many herbal and nutritional supplements are described for effectiveness in terms that the FDA would prohibit for people -which tends to prevent good information from getting to us about how to use nutritional supplements.

As I was reading through the catalog it struck me that the weight-gain supplements contain some of the very same ingredients that are touted for weight loss in articles and ads all over the web.  What gives? Continue reading…

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Christmas/ New Years Special

List of species of special concern in Rabun Co...

American ginseng. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am offering $50 off the usual first visit charge of $150 for phone or in-person consultations for a limited time.  Herbal consultations can be by phone or in person and include formulation of a customized tincture as well as a discussion of dietary recommendations and supplements. (Herbs not included.)  Acupuncture or acu-laser needs to be in person.  Give your loved ones or yourself the gift of natural health.  If you want a distance consult I will send you an intake form and ask for photos of your face and tongue and will set up an appointment.

Email me at KSVaughan2@aol.com for details.  Paypal available for distance consults.

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Dealing with Constipation



Constipation refers to bowel movements that either occur less often than expected or with a stool that is hard, dry and difficult to pass.  (Types 1-3 on the Bristol Stool Chart, below.)  A healthy adult should pass one to two stools a day, although some otherwise healthy adults pass a stool every other day.  There are a number of reasons one might not pass feces, including diet, fluid intake, medications, stress, anal pain from hemorrhoids  or fissures, lack of probiotic gut bacteria, laxative abuse, specific diseases, such as stroke, diabetes, thyroid disease and Parkinson’s, change in circardian rhythm (due to irregular sleeping while traveling) and a poor posture while eliminating Continue reading…

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Are Probiotics the New Prozac?

This article, reprinted from Dr. Mercola is very important on the relationship between gut bacteria and the brain:

By Dr. Mercola

While many think of their brain as the organ in charge of their mental health, your gut may actually play a far more significant role.

Do you find my brain? - Auf der Suche nach mei...

(Photo credit: alles-schlumpf)

The big picture many of us understand is one of a microbial world that
we just happen to be living in. Our actions interfere with these
microbes, and they in turn respond Continue reading…

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Why you should taste your herbs

English: tea drinking

Tasting while tea drinking (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyone who consults with me knows that I always suggest taking herbs in a way that allows you to taste them.  That means that I usually use teas, tinctures, syrups, herbal jams like chayawanprash or turmeric honey, pickled herbs, overnight infusions, herbal decoctions or powdered herbal extracts that are added to water.  The only time I really approve of using capsules is when giving the severely bitter anti-parasite herbs (usually a long term proposition and the bitterness is for the parasite) or when a person is so debilitated that they will miss dosages unless they have pills to tide them over until they can brew up their herbs.  In that case Continue reading…

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Are Herbal Supplements Safe?


The New York Times had an article this week, Herbal Supplements Are Often Not What They Seem, that suggested that herbal capsules may not contain what they say, often containing different species in the family or fillers.  The study cited is found here.

The study has major problems and the American Botanical Association has called upon the BMC medicine journal to retract the paper: Continue reading…

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The Prepping City Herbalist

Pickled Jars

Pickled Jars (Photo credit: ZakVTA)

As one of my clients was expressing anxiety about the news I flashed on how I deal with it:  I prep.  Yes,I am a lefty, liberal non-apocalyptic herbalist prepper who thinks guns in cities are more likely to harm innocents than defend families and I think the government wants to help but will be stretched too thin.  But my scouting years suggest being prepared Continue reading…

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Twenty factors that affect male fertility

English: Electron microscope image of sperm.

Sperm entering egg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With so much sperm per ejaculate, it seems that sperm quality would hardly matter in infertility. A healthy male discharges 50 million sperm in one ejaculation. During sexual intercourse, of all those millions of sperm, only a couple hundred will make it to a mature egg that is ready to be fertilized. But 40% of infertility is from the male, including males who passed the semen analysis tests.  The average sperm count today is between 20 and 40 million per milliliter in the Western world, having decreased by 1-2% per year from Continue reading…

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Special issues with Parkinson’s and Nutrition: Part 4

In Part 1 we looked at foods to eat.  In Part 2 we discussed foods to avoid.  And in Part 3 we discussed nutrients and supplements.  There are specific issues for people with Parkinson’s that affect the ability to eat and drink at all which we will cover in this section.

Lift lab spoon counters tremors so food won't spill.

Lift lab spoon counters tremors so food won’t spill.

People with Parkinson’s tend to demonstrate a kind of withering or dehydration which we refer to in Chinese medicine  as yin deficiency. Yet acquiring adequate nutrition in the form of soups, or congees for instance, which would help Continue reading…

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