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Post by pmmutiti on Sun Jun 08, 2008 5:43 pm


Long before it emerged as a possible remedy for heart disease, fish oil was used to treat arthritis. Maurice Stansby, veteran fish-oil researcher and scientific consultant to the National Marine Fisheries Service in Seattle, uncovered documents indicating that, in the late 1700's, personnel from a hospital in Manchester, England, routinely dosed arthritis patients with cod-liver-oil supplements to help their "squeaky joints." Stansby surmises that the fish-oil tradition was lost to history because it was so unpalatable-the only time patients would take their tonic was when it was forced upon them by attendants. No wonder, when cod-liver oil of the day was extracted from rotten fish livers!

Interests in treating arthritis patients with fish oil was rekindled by the finding that manipulating fatty acids in the diets of arthritic animals was beneficial. A link with fish oil was also suspected because of evidence that leukotrienes and thromboxane (a product of prostaglandins) are involved in the kinds of inflammatory reactions causing the painful symptoms of arthritis. Accordingly, Harvard researchers decided to test out the effects of fish oil in people who have rheumatoid arthritis, a form of arthritis that can be severely disabling. Richard Sperling, M.D., and his coworkers found a lowering of inflammatory biochemical, along with a decrease in joint pain and tenderness, in rheumatoid arthritis patients who took fish-oil supplements. Although the results are considered preliminary since no control group was involved, Dr. Sperling thinks that fish oils have the potential to act as anti-inflammatory drugs.

Support for Dr. Sperling's hunch comes from research conducted at Albany Medical College, in New York. Joel Kremer, M.D., found "modest" improvements in some symptoms of rheumatoid-arthritis patients who were on fish-oil capsules compared to a group of similar patients who did not take the supplements. The problem with this study is that the patients who took the capsules were also on a special diet, making it difficult to know whether fish oil or something about the diet was responsible. In a more recent study, Dr. Kremer placed people with rheumatoid arthritis on fish-oil supplements, but no special diet. Compared to a period of time in which they took a placebo (an inert supplement, often called a "sugar pill"), the fish-oil takers suffered significantly less joint tenderness and reported less fatigue. It's important to note that, although there appeared to be overall improvement in other symptoms of arthritis such as duration of morning stiffness and joint swelling, the effects of fish-oil supplements were not as definite.

Thus, fish oil cannot be viewed as any sort of a panacea for arthritis sufferers. Furthermore, the small amount of research that has been conducted in this area has involved large amounts of fish oil. Dr. Dreamer's patients, for example, took 10 to 15 fish oil capsules a day-surely a pharmaceutical dose. He issues words of caution when it comes to taking fish-oil supplements. But he does recommend that people who have arthritis eat more fish. At the very least a fish-rich diet can help keep weight down-an important move to minimize stress on weight-bearing arthritic joints.

Peter Mwaura M
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Peter Mwaura Mutiti : Teaching old blood cells new tricks:
When you hear someone mention circulation you probably think of the heart and major arteries—and for good reason. Circulatory disorders such as hypertension (high blood pressure) and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) are major risk factors for heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke.

But there’s more to it than that. With all the attention on the heart and arteries, it’s easy to overlook serious health problems affecting the smallest components of the circulatory system—microscopic blood vessels called microcapillaries, where the critical exchange of oxygen and nutrients actually takes place. If blood isn’t flowing through this web properly, it can trigger all sorts of health problems, many of which may not seem related to circulation at all.

A number of factors contribute to poor circulation as we age. Arteries and veins become stiff and congested as cholesterol and calcium plaques accumulate and restrict blood flow. Spasms in the smooth muscles surrounding the circulatory arteries and veins can also choke off circulation. These same processes also occur in our microcapillaries, reducing microcirculation and impairing the critical exchange of nutrients and gases in tissues and major organs.

This problem only gets worse as we get older because of changes in the composition and structure of blood cells. As you reach middle age, the blood starts to thicken and congeal as platelets and blood proteins make cells sticky. Plus, the spleen—the organ that removes old, damaged blood cells from circulation—begins to slow down with age, which means new, healthy blood cells are replaced at a sharply reduced rate. And to make matters even worse, as blood cells age, they become stiff and no longer appear round and evenly shaped. This makes it harder for them to pass smoothly through the capillaries. In fact, the angular, jagged shape of the old cells can damage the fragile microcapillaries even further.

Eventually, these age-related changes take their toll on the microcapillaries, reducing circulation to the tissues and blocking the flow of nutrients and oxygen. Removal of carbon dioxide and other metabolic waste products is also hindered. This leads to a slow buildup of metabolic garbage that can gradually bury the cells in their own waste products. In time, the cells, poisoned by their own metabolic byproducts, begin to waste away and ultimately cease to function altogether.

The combined effect of poor circulation and old blood contributes to a host of symptoms, including deep fatigue, fuzzy thinking, frequent infections, and lowered sex drive—all conditions usually considered just “normal parts of aging.”

If circulation doesn’t improve, it can lead to more serious conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis. But giving your body a fresh supply of healthy blood may target all of these problems and more.
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