Welcome to Our Healing Roots, a blog exploring natural medicine that returns us to the roots of health and wellbeing. Our Healing Roots, LLC, is a private natural healthcare practice and experiential learning center that advocates the safe use of integrated, natural medicine. Many healing ways have gone by the wayside with the advent of conventional medicine. While it is important to receive professional medical advice for serious conditions, there are many things we can do at home to prevent disease and maintain our health. The Latin word for doctor is docere, which means to be a teacher. Our Healing Roots wholehearted embraces the importance of teaching in healthcare, so that people feel empowered about their health and wellbeing. More information about this business can be found at www.ourhealingroots.net.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

This Saturday at the Garden Trug...

Summer is well on its way!  Just in time for a class about refreshing summer drinks. This Saturday, please join me for a great event at the Garden Trug. Learn how to make herbal and healthier versions of summer drinks to slake your thirst and keep you cool this summer. We'll be sharing recipes for cherry-basil-lime soda, a citrus tea sparkler, orange-rosemary green tea, and many more. Come cool off and join us...

The Garden Trug
3009 E 101st St, Tulsa, OK 74137

1:00 p.m.
Saturday, May 31st

Sunday, May 25, 2014

How low is too low?

Statin drugs are prescribed to lower cholesterol levels. There are recent news reports reporting studies that the benefits of statin drugs outweigh the risks. New guidelines came out in November 2013 that increase the population of people being recommended for statin treatment. 

Many medications have a desired target range in the labs with both an upper and lower limit. Warfarin, a blood thinner, is titrated based on INR labs so blood doesn't get too thin or too think. Diabetes medications are titrated based blood sugar levels so blood sugar doesn't drop too low or go too high. However, the conventional wisdom on statins seems to be titrate so that cholesterol just goes lower. But, how low is too low for cholesterol?

Evidence does suggest that when cholesterol goes too low (<150-160 mg/dL), there is an increased risk of cancer, hemorrhagic stroke, unnatural and violent deaths, depression, and cognitive decline (PMID: 24840261, 24495778 and 24512018). Despite all the bad press that cholesterol gets, cholesterol does play an important function in our health--production of sex hormones, building healthy cell membranes, production of vitamin D and bile for digestive function to name a few. Additionally, the brain needs cholesterol to function properly. We know what happens when we have too much cholesterol, but what about when we don't have enough for the brain, vitamin D production, hormone production, and digestive function? 

If you find yourself being prescribed statin drugs, I encourage you to have a conversation with your doctor about how low is too low and how is this medication going to be monitored so you stay in the optimal range. 

Perhaps some of the risks of statin drugs would be lessened if these medications were titrated with an observed lower limit to cholesterol levels.

Monday, May 12, 2014


One of the best medicines that exist is rest. Rest can be a hard thing to come by. More and more companies are taking away sick days and are making sick days difficult to use. Our personal schedules can fill up easily with obligations. Then, there are the multiple projects that need to be done. It can be difficult to find left over time for rest, especially when our bodies need it. Too often, people are fighting infections for weeks longer than necessary. Time is often not taken off for rest until the body gives no other option. Oddly, rest can be one of the most difficult recommendations that doctors make. 

In my experience, taking the day to sleep and care for your body when you first feel like you are coming down with something is far more effective than handfuls of vitamin C and supplements without any rest.  Rest is the synergistic ingredient. 

When is the last time you gave yourself the day off? No scheduled obligations, free and full permission to sleep a few hours guilt-free, time to do something that is actually relaxing and enjoyable rather than a project that needs done around the house. What would your life look life if rest became the priority that got put on the calendar first?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

New Office Hours

Our Healing Roots, LLC, will have new office hours for the next 12 weeks as follows...

Monday-Wednesday  5-8 p.m.
Thursday-Friday  8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Second Saturday  12-4 p.m.

To schedule an appointment please call 918-813-1874 or e-mail office@ourhealingroots.net.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Healthy, Green Cleaning Ideas

Tomorrow, April 22nd, is Earth Day. I will be celebrating Earth Day with over 500 pre-K-2nd grade students with the Oklahoma Association of Naturopathic Physicians (OKANP). We will be teaching these students healthy, green cleaning techniques.

I became interested in healthy, green cleaning techniques as a student in college when I read an article in a magazine. I learned that I could clean my room and apartment for a fraction of the price using simple household items such as baking soda, vinegar, water and salt. Vinegar and salt have excellent anti-microbial action.

I wash my mirrors and windows with equal parts of vinegar and water mixed in a spray bottle. The vinegar provides a streak-free clean to mirrors and windows. You can use old newsprint instead of paper towels.

I sprinkle salt in my sinks and use it as a mild abrasive for scrubbing. Then I shine up the faucets and drains with vinegar. Baking soda mixed with vinegar makes a great cleaner for toilets and drains.

What are some of your favorite, green cleaning techniques?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Integrating Paradigms

This past Thursday, I gave a lecture about homeopathy using two different paradigms. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines paradigm as "a theory or group of ideas about how something should be done, made or thought about."

Our current conventional medical paradigm is shaping how we think about and use natural medicines. For example, we often begin with a diagnosis and then ask what a particular supplement/medicine is effective for that diagnosis. It is not uncommon that I overhear people in health food stores asking, "What can I take for [insert diagnosis here]?" Thus, many homeopathic medicines have been marketed by what they are used for.
   * Rescue Remedy is used for stress.
   * Calms Forte is used for insomnia.
   * Homeopathic oscillococcinum is used for flu.
   * Homeopathic arnica is used for bruising.

However, using homeopathy this way often produces less consistency in effectiveness. Indeed, some people get lucky and it works great; however, others are left unsatisfied and feeling like homeopathy does not work. The trouble is that we have take a system out of its original paradigm and applied a completely different paradigm to it.

In the original homeopathic paradigm, homeopathy focuses less on x, y, or z disease and is instead interested in the expression of a disease. Take hot flashes for example. There are several different expressions of hot flashes. Some people get heavy sweating; others feel like they are dry and burning up; some feel the heat only in certain parts of their body; some will have certain types of strong emotions with the hot flashes. Different things may make the hot flashes better or worse. In homeopathy, it is details like these that guide one to selecting an effective remedy, not the fact that someone is having hot flashes.  

Each homeopathic remedy, like a personality, has a pattern of several characteristics and traits. The goal is to match the expression of disease to the right pattern. The effectiveness of homeopathy increases when you consider the entire pattern and expression of disease, which is quite different from our current conventional paradigm.  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Fancy Footwork

Lately, I've been thinking and reading about feet and all they wonderful ways they can help restore our health.

Over a hundred years ago, naturopathic doctors would recommend that patients take off their shoes and tread through the snow or walk in a cold stream with their bare feet for short periods of time. (Of course, you don't want to try this if your feet already feel frozen. Warm them up before trying this exercise.) This was used to help improve circulation to the extremities and to relieve the congestion of blood in the inner organs associated with chronic disease. I admit I haven't tried this, but I'm inspired to create cold, calf-deep wading pool with a pebble bottom and give it a try.  

Then, there is the alternating foot bath which is a favorite of mine for swollen legs and feet. You get two buckets of water, one warm and one cold. Soak your feet in the warm water for three minutes and then plunge them into the cold bucket for 30 seconds. Do this process three times ending on cold. I have found this to help with swelling about the next 24 hours.

Pictured above is the herbal foot bath I just enjoyed. (I love watching dried herbs in water.) I poured warm water over relaxing herbs such as chamomile, lavender, and lemon grass and soaked my feet. It was amazing how relaxed I immediately felt. You can also do a fresh, hot ginger foot bath, which can help with cold feet.

I recommend a technique called "warming socks" to help people who are struggling with pain and fever, which can be particularly helpful during cold and flu season. This technique also uses a contrast between warm and cold to help relieve congestion.

Finally, there has been a rising interest in what is called the "Earthing" or "Grounding" movement to help decrease pain and inflammation. This movement involves taking off your shoes and standing/walking on a safe area of ground.

...and I even forgot to mention reflexology! This week, I urge you to connect with your feet and explore how they can help you in your journey towards health.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The "G" Word

One of the most difficult topics to discuss in our culture is the "G" word--grief. We are so inadequately prepared to deal with this emotion and given too little time. Grief is like a roller coaster. We may feel better for several days only to take a dive down again at the most unexpected moments. It is not neat. It doesn't fit inside our boxes very well. Although the saying goes "time heals," we can carry grief for many years deep in our hearts.

Grief can certainly arise as a result of death of a loved or not-so-loved one, but grief can also be secondary to many other losses as well. Other causes of grief include loss of trust, loss of relationship/divorce, moving, loss of a job, loss of wealth, loss of a beloved pet, loss of mobility, diagnosis of a disease and this list goes on and on.  

Last Tuesday, I began a 12 week course about grief.  In my life, all four of my grandparents, many friends, several patients and beloved pets have died. However, the grief that I was not expecting to emerge reached far back into my childhood. By the time I was 16, I had lived in nine different places. Moving so often, I changed schools and left best friends. That old grief welled up deeply after my first class this past Tuesday. That is the oldest grief I remember and I'm amazed by how profoundly it still affects me today, over 20 years later.  This is not a grief that has just simply healed with time. At the time, I used the tools that I had as a child to patch that grief, but I am now ready to gently and compassionately revisit this grief with more effective techniques that I am learning as an adult. 

Why does this matter? Why even bother processing old grief? Many emerging scientific studies are showing that unresolved grief is correlated with many chronic diseases. I am taking a grief course for my health and so I can be a better doctor for the people for whom I care. It is my hope that working through this old grief, I will have stronger, healthier and more deeply authentic relationships in my life.


Thursday, March 20, 2014

Looking forward to Lemon Balm & Spring

Today is the first day of spring!  There are wonderful herb walks, moments to be in the garden, a great Tulsa conference just around the corner.

I will be at Grogg's Green Barn this Saturday from 1-2 p.m. discussing the many healing aspects of the garden. Two weeks later on Saturday, April 5th, from 1-2 p.m. I will be at The Garden Trug doing a medicinal plant walk.  These are great opportunities to learn about the many healing aspects of the plants we can grow.

One of the plants I'll be discussing this year is Lemon Balm (also called Melissa). Lemon balm is a cooling and sour member of the mint family. It is a wonderful plant to have on hand for anxiousness, mild depression, attention problems, insomnia, nervous stomach, and herpes outbreaks. It is considered to be calming for the heart. It can be prepared and used in many ways ranging from a simple tea to a topical ointment. This plant works well when prepared from fresh leaves. It makes a refreshing summer tea and tastes great mixed in with salads. Consider adding it as an important member of your garden this year. Learn about this plant and many others on these upcoming herb walks.

I especially invite you to the Mindful Living Conference on April 12 & 13th. Attend for a half day or the full weekend. Registration includes a light, local lunch from Three Fruits and a Veggie Farm. This conference will focus on all wellness & mindful living throughout all phases of life...

Saturday morning--Conception & Birth
Saturday afternoon--Children
Sunday morning--Adulthood
Sunday afternoon--Aging and End-of-Life

Learn more & register by visiting  www.306phoenixhouse.com. I hope you and your friends will come celebrate with us!

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Vital Force

One of the tenants that distinguishes naturopathic medicine is called the vis medicatrix naturae, or the healing power of nature. It is also called the vital force. We believe that our bodies have the ability to heal. The job of the naturopathic doctor is to aid people in removing any obstacles to health and to support the vital force. Obstacles to good health include excessive and prolonged stress, lack of sleep, poor digestion, dehydration and lack of exercise to just name a few. We support the vital force with techniques such as hydrotherapy, homeopathy, and  teaching nutritional and lifestyle information.  Instead of going in with the intent to fix a person, we support the natural healing ability of each person. In other words, we believe the healing comes from within each person and our job is to support and nurture...not fix. It is a paradigm that works well in many cases. 

I work with many people diagnosed with cancer. In most instances, I am providing integrative care, in that people are receiving both naturopathic and conventional care for their cancer. In this case, the naturopathic paradigm comes together with the paradigm of conventional medicine. Cancer may be at an advanced stage that needs an immediate fix, but naturopathic medicine can also be used to help support the vital force of the person in healing. As I continue to learn and grow within my profession, I continue to learn there is no one right path for everyone. Sometimes it is in bringing together different paradigms and using different ways of looking at health that the people we are trying to help truly win.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sourdough Class Rescheduled for Sunday, February 23rd

The sourdough bread class has been rescheduled for Sunday, February 23rd from 1-5 p.m. There are still a couple more spots open if you are interested in joining us. Please e-mail me at office@ourhealingroots.net for more information.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Valentine Contest Winner

Thank you to all who entered my Valentine Contest on Facebook and on my blog.

Crista Patrick is our winner! 

If you would like to purchase a Valentine special for you or your sweetheart, this special will last through the end of the month to help you or loved one unwind, fully relax, and to restore balance.
This special consists of a 2 hour naturopathic session with relaxing hydrotherapy, a gentle hands-on therapy to help relieve tension/pain, and an individualized consult to help support emotional healing. This session is available at my office in Tulsa, OK. This package ($140 value) is now on sale for $75.  Gift certificates are available.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sourdough Workshop Postponed & Reminder about Valentine Contest

Brrr....it's cold out there!

This Saturday's sourdough workshop is being postponed to later February/early March. A new date and time will be announced soon. If you are interested, please e-mail me at office@ourhealingroots.net.

No one has signed up for the Valentine Contest yet. (This means if you enter your chances of winning are looking quite good right now.) There are only 5 days left in the contest. See more information about this contest by clicking here...


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sourdough Workshop Next Saturday...

Are you interested in learning about fermented foods? Get started on the fermented food journey with sourdough bread. Sourdough foods made with non-brominated flours are a healthier option for baked goods compared to foods made with commercial yeasts. Sourdough helps pre-digest the gluten in flours, so they are healthier for your digestive system. All kinds of baked foods can be made with sourdough--bread, pizza, cake, pancakes, waffles, etc.

You are warmly invited to join us for a hands-on Sourdough Workshop in Tulsa next Saturday, February 8th from 1-5 p.m. The workshop is limited to a total of 6 people. The cost of the workshop is $35. Please e-mail office@ourhealingroots.net to register for the workshop.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Valentine Special & Contest!

Valentine's Day Special & Contest
Are you still recovering from the stress of the holidays and having to catch up in January? Do you know someone special who needs the gift of relaxation?
Between now and February 28th, Our Healing Roots, LLC is offering a Valentine's Day Special to help you or loved one unwind, fully relax, and to restore balance.
This special consists of a 2 hour naturopathic session with relaxing hydrotherapy, a gentle hands-on therapy to help relieve tension/pain, and an individualized consult to help support emotional healing.

This session is available at my office in Tulsa, OK. This package ($140 value) is now on sale for $75.  Gift certificates are available. Offer expires February 28th, 2014.
Now for the contest part...
You can win a free Valentine special for yourself or a loved one. To enter, simply comment to this post with your name. A name will be randomly selected from the comments on this blog and on my Facebook site (Our Healing Roots, LLC). Check back at this blog on Monday, February 10th to see if you have won. The winner will have between February 11 and February 28th to use the prize.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Melatonin--Not Just for Sleep

When I mention the supplement melatonin, most people think about sleep. However, melatonin is not simply a sleep supplement. Depending on the dose used, it can have different effects. Low dose melatonin (0.3-1.0 mg) for sleep can be effective for some people. Today, I am going to discuss an important use of high dose melatonin (20-40 mg)...

Studies going back to the 1990's have suggested that melatonin can be helpful for people getting conventional cancer treatment of solid-type tumors. Please note--this is not a stand-alone treatment for cancer, nor is this appropriate for all cancer types.

There are several studies done on melatonin, but here are four studies I have come across while cleaning out my closet...

A phase II human clinical trial in 1996 looked at the conventional treatment tamoxifen in conjunction with melatonin in patients with "untreatable", metastatic solid tumors. This was a small study of 25 people. Thirteen people in the study experienced stable disease (this means that their cancer was no longer progressing). Nine people experienced improvement in their performance status. Br J Cancer. 1996 Nov; 74(9): 1466-8.

In a 1999 study, patients were randomized to receive either chemotherapy or chemotherapy + 20 mg melatonin.  This study noted a significantly higher 1-year survival rate and tumor regression rate in the group that was getting melatonin with their chemotherapy. Several side effects of the chemotherapy were also noted to be decreased. Eur J Cancer. 1999 Nov; 35(12): 1688-92.

A 2001 human study looked at 20 patients diagnosed with metastatic cancer. It was noted that levels of VEGF were decreased with melatonin supplementation. VEGF helps tumors build their blood supply. Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2001:22(1): 45-7.

A 2003 human study looked at 100 patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. The patients either received chemotherapy or chemotherapy+20 mg melatonin. It was found that overall tumor regression rates and 5-year survival rates were higher in patients getting melatonin with their chemotherapy. Chemotherapy was also tolerated better with the melatonin. J Pineal Res. 2003 Aug; 35(1):12-5.

Melatonin has also been seen to help increase the effectiveness of many other cancer therapies. High dose melatonin is not for everyone. Possible side effects include sleep disruption, sleepiness, dizziness, and headaches. It is taken before bed. As always, it is recommended that you consult with your physician, pharmacist or trained healthcare profession before starting supplements, especially if you are currently undergoing cancer treatment.

If you or a friend/family member are going through cancer treatment and are interested in integrative, naturopathic support, I offer an integrative cancer program at my clinic Our Healing Roots, LLC  in Tulsa, OK and would be happy to serve you.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Soap and Your Skin Health

Prior to going to naturopathic medical school, I volunteered for an organization called Heifer International at their education ranch in Perryville, AR. It was there that I first learned how to make soap from Suzan in the cottage industries department. I went on to teach several people about soap and how to make it, while I was there.

Soap is made from a chemical reaction between a fat/oil, water/milk, and lye. The chemical reaction takes several weeks to complete, but once properly made and cured you are left with soap + glycerin.  Real soap with its inherent glycerin can support the health of the skin. There are several natural ingredients that can also help with specific skin conditions or skin types--clays, honey, essential oils, oatmeal, herbs, etc.

Your skin serves many functions to protect your health. It is a functional barrier. It helps support healthy detoxification through perspiration. The skin also needs healthy bacteria to out crowd other bad actors. During the winter, it is easy for our skin to become dry and chapped. This protective barrier begins to breakdown. This is where soap enters the picture...

Have you ever wondered why many "soaps" dry out your skin? Many products that we think of as soap are actually detergents; furthermore, companies will often remove the glycerin and put it into the lotions we buy. You can protect your skin this winter by switching to real soap, which is often sold by small, local companies. Look for bars with few ingredients that have 100% essential oils.  Also, it helps if you spend extra time drying your hands during the winter. Real soap and good drying techniques will help protect your hands.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Public Health Fair This Saturday

If you live in the Tulsa area, please join me at Green Acres Health Fair this Saturday between 11 and 2. I'll have brochures on my new naturopathic cancer programs, detox program and upcoming workshops, a drawing, and some freebies. Please drop by and feel welcome to visit with me in person!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dairy Food, Calcium and Cancer Risk

The topic of dairy foods, calcium and cancer makes me a bit queasy because it is such a grey topic. There is no clear straightforward answer for the person trying to decrease their cancer risk. In some cancers, dairy might be detrimental and in others it may be protective. Conflicting findings and milk politics don't make it any easier. There is the whole question of calcium supplements increasing heart disease, and is it safer to take calcium balanced with other minerals and vitamins? This gets even more complicated as we wrestle with dairy intolerances, allergies, and how our milk is produced.

I struggle with the question frequently in daily practice. I need to find ways to rebuild osteoporotic bone for clients who cannot tolerate dairy or even mineral supplements. I need to make sure my client diagnosed with cancer is getting enough high-quality calories with his liquid diet. There is the young child who subsists only on dairy products these days and wants to eat nothing else. I have clients with metastatic bone disease that needs support, but their blood calcium levels are already through the roof because of bone breakdown. Women ask me what's the best calcium supplement to take. And what about the patient who wants a healthy diet to decrease risk of cancer in the future?

There are some very strongly positioned camps on dairy. One camp is touting the benefits of low-fat dairy products and calcium supplements as part of a balanced diet.  Another camp states that all dairy products should be removed from the diet. Yet another camp believes that conventional milk is harming us, but organic, grass-fed, (even raw) animal milk and cultured dairy products from such milk are beneficial. Others say stand-alone calcium supplements are harmful (perhaps due to impaired absorption issues), but can be helpful when taken as a well-balanced mineral supplement. 

I say there are no clear answers and more studies are needed. In the meantime, we do the best we can with the best information we have, which finally brings me to today's study.

This study was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine/Vol 169 (No.4) on February 23, 2009. The title is "Dairy Food, Calcium, and Risk of Cancer in the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study" by Park, et al. In 1995 and 1996, a questionnaire was mailed to people aged 50 to 71 years of age. This study looked at almost 300,000 men and 200,000 women.  Here is a summary of what they found...

* Total calcium intake up to 1300 mg/day decreased total cancer incidence in women, but there was no association for men.
* Looking at digestive cancers only, higher total calcium intake AND dairy food intake were related to a lower risk in men and women.
* Dairy food intake was protective for head and neck, digestive cancers, and bladder cancer in men, but it was positively associated with prostate cancer.
*Supplemental calcium was found to increase risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in women. (Note: Other studies I have read have positively associated dairy and NHL, as well.)

Why and how might dairy/calcium been helpful or harmful? What is the proposed mechanism, you might ask.  Dairy contains calcium, vitamin D, and an essential fatty acid called CLA (high in dairy from grassfed milk), nutrients that have been shown to have anti-cancer effect. Calcium specifically has been show to reduce how cancer cells proliferate. It supports healthy cell differentiation, and it has induced apoptosis (cell death of abnormal cells) in breast and gastrointestinal cells.  The article also discusses the theory that calcium may be binding to bile thereby reducing potential damage to the intestinal mucosa.  On the other hand, dairy has been linked to increase levels of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), which  may potentially increase risk of certain cancers. These are just some of the mechanisms proposed by this article.

Does the article clear up the matter or change how I will practice naturopathic health care?  Not much. I will probably not recommend dairy for men at higher risk of prostate cancer. I will be cautious with calcium/dairy with NHL. I will consider recommending calcium/dairy for people at high risk of digestive cancers. Meanwhile, for those that do consume dairy, I advocate choosing the cleanest and healthiest sources available (organic, grass-fed animals). When recommending supplements with calcium, I will remember that healthy bones need much more than just calcium.

There you have it--my 'short' discourse on dairy and calcium. Perhaps I will find some easier articles to discuss next week in my closet. ;)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Green Tea Catechins and Prevention of Prostate Cancer in High Risk Men

In going through old papers today, I've excavated a study looking at green tea and men in a high risk group of developing prostate cancer because they've been diagnosed with high-grade prostate intraepithelial neoplasia (high grade PIN). High grade PIN means that cells in the prostate gland are changing abnormally in a way that can develop into prostate cancer. It is diagnosed with a biopsy. 

Today's study is an Italian research study published in Cancer Research from January 15, 2006 by Bettuzzi, et al. The title of this paper is "Chemoprevention of Human Prostate Cancer by Oral Administration of Green Tea Catechins in Volunteers with High-Grade Prostate Intraepithelial Neoplasia: A Preliminary Report from a One-Year Proof-of-Principle Study."

Typically, men diagnosed with high grade PIN undergo "active surveillance" also known as "watch-and-wait". They get biopsies every 3-6 months and wait until they find out if it progresses to cancer or not. As you can imagine, many people want to do something about it and not just wait for the disease to possibly progress.

This study cites previous sources that found 30% of men with high grade PIN develop prostate cancer within one year after repeated biopsy. This study looked at 60 volunteers diagnosed with high-grade PIN. In this study, 30% of the volunteers taking the placebo developed prostate cancer in one year, but volunteers taking 600 mg of green tea/day standardized to 75.7% catechins (51.8% of which was EGCG) only had a 3% incidence of developing  prostate cancer in 1 year in this study. Wow--a 30% to 3% chance in one year of developing prostate cancer with taking standardized green tea extract! Additionally, volunteers taking the green tea extract found a decrease in lower urinary tract symptoms.  All this being said, this is a preliminary report with a fairly small sample size, but it is promising for those faced with watching and waiting.

If you have been diagnosed with a premalignant lesion, such as high-grade PIN, I do offer a program at my Tulsa office called "Take Action Now" to help stack the cards in your favor. I can't promise that you will never be diagnosed with cancer, but we can use the latest evidence and research in natural medicine to give you a better chance of cancer prevention.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Colorectal Cancer: The Role of Vitamin D in Risk and Mortality

With the new year, I am working to clear my clutter and organize the massive amount of research papers I've collected my naturopathic medicine and oncology training. I look forward to sharing some of the interesting articles with you that I come across in this process.

Today, I begin with an article about vitamin D3 and colon cancer from the Journal of Clinical Oncology from June 20, 2008 entitled "Circulating 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Levels in Survival in Patients with Colorectal Cancer" by Ng, et al (Vol. 26, Number 16, pages 2984-2991).

Vitamin D3 has been getting a LOT of press for the past several years. When I started my residency in 2007, it was still the hot new thing to test and address in medical practice. Since then, it has become a commonplace test for most physicians. In the field of cancer care, vitamin D deficiency is associated with increase risk of several cancer types. Vitamin D3 has been found to help with healthy cell differentiation, prevention to tumor cell proliferation, apoptosis (programmed death of abnormal cells), and anti-angiogenesis (helps prevent tumor cells from developing a blood supply to feed the tumor).  As a natural healthcare provider, I commonly recommend that my clients get their 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels tested, and I recommend vitamin D3 supplementation taken with food if levels are low.

Previous studies demonstrated that higher vitamin D levels can decrease risk of getting colorectal cancer, but what if you are diagnosed with the disease? Will it improve your survival rate? Our study of the day in fact showed that higher levels of vitamin D3 (about >30 ng/mL) resulted in fewer deaths from colorectal cancer.  Researchers Ng, et al looked at the landmark Nurses Health Study and Health Professionals Follow Up Study. As part of the study, participants had their vitamin D levels tested and were watched for several years to see what diseases developed and what they died of. In these prospective studies, 304 participants developed colorectal cancer, 96 of which died from the cancer. These participants were divided into 4 groups based on highest to lowest vitamin D levels.  The lowest group had vitamin D levels around 6.0-22.6 ng/mL, whereas the highest group had vitamin D levels ranging from 29.0-70.0.  The group with the highest vitamin D levels (in most cases 5 years before the diagnosis of cancer was even made) had a significantly lower mortality rate from colorectal cancer. 

If you haven't had your vitamin D levels test, consider talking to your primary care physician about this test at your next wellness visit.