Thursday, September 15, 2011

Q/A: Will X cure or prevent Y in person Z?

Question: There is this story in my family: In her 50s, my grandmother took a certain formula consisting of lecithin, raw wheat germ, "debittered" brewer's yeast, bone meal, and sunflower oil. This apparently cured her angina and atherosclerosis. Does this sound plausible? Should my relative who is suffering from heart disease today take this formula?

That concoction looks rather awful (!!!), but we must keep in mind that any nutritional deficiency (or nutritional "overload") can be causative in any health condition in a given individual.

For instance, too much calcium may contribute to heart disease in one person, whereas too little calcium may cause heart disease in another. (Nutritional calcium can either cure or contribute to the dysregulation of calcium metabolism.)

So even granted that the described formula actually was the instrumental factor in your grandmother's recovery - who knows, it may have pushed just enough micronutrients into her system to get excess calcium out of her blood stream, it is a mistake to assume that it would automatically benefit all individuals with heart disease.

Beyond such individual variation as discussed above, we also have to keep into account that the body is an interconnected system. This means that it is actually dangerous to treat a disease (aside from acute interventions, of course) or try to prevent it in a vacuum without considering systemic side effects - side effects, which again, could vary from person to person.

For instance, I believe that many people who go on heavy fish oil- and niacin dosages may perhaps prevent death from heart disease, but may increase their risk of dying from something else. (Pharmaceutical doses of niacin and fish oil can be toxic.)

These are some of the major reasons that I insist on doing functional analysis (such as assessing hormones, digestion, detoxification, and metabolism) of what's going on with a person, including looking at his or her health history, before recommending any type of supplement, and thereafter carefully monitoring feedback and results.

There is no inherently good or bad nutrient/formula/medication. Everything must be put into the context of the individual and the purpose at hand.

Practically speaking, most anything can rationally be tried for a limited time and then evaluated, but one must know that one's evaluation accounts for as many relevant effects as possible, and not merely consists of looking at lab results or symptoms in isolation.

(To the above conceptual points I must add that I find it hard to come up with any plausible scenario where it would make sense to feed anyone sunflower oil.)

Remember to always consult with a government approved/licensed practitioner before making any changes to diet and lifestyle. What I write here is for educational- and entertainment purposes only.

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