Category: Aging

Unlocking the Power of Pregnenolone for a Better Life

Are you feeling tired, stressed, and overwhelmed by the challenges of life? You might be experiencing the effects of adrenal fatigue and hormone imbalances. But don’t worry; there is a natural solution that can help you feel smarter, happier, and more energetic – pregnenolone.

Pregnenolone, the hormone precursor you may not have heard of, is like the conductor of an orchestra, orchestrating the harmonious performance of your body’s hormones. Let’s dive into the world of pregnenolone, its incredible benefits, and how it might just be the key to rejuvenating your quality of life.

Pregnenolone: The Unsung Hero

Pregnenolone, much like its sibling hormone DHEA, is a steroidal hormone produced within your body. It’s synthesized from cholesterol and primarily produced in the adrenal glands, but you can also find it in the liver, skin, brain, testicles, ovaries, and even in the retinas of your eyes.

Now, you may have heard the word “steroid” and associated it with bodybuilding or athletes, but steroids are a large family of biochemicals that play vital roles in determining your sex, managing inflammation, and regulating growth. In this family of hormones, pregnenolone is the grand precursor from which most other steroids are derived, including DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, estrogens, and cortisol. Remarkably, pregnenolone comes with little to no significant side effects, making it a safe choice.

A Memory Boosting Miracle

If you thought pregnenolone was only about hormones, think again. This incredible hormone is like a secret weapon for your brain. In fact, in laboratory mice, pregnenolone has been found to be a whopping 100 times more effective at enhancing memory than other steroid or steroid-precursors. It’s like a memory enhancer on steroids (pun intended).

But it doesn’t stop there. Pregnenolone isn’t just about memory; it’s about making you smarter and happier. It enhances your ability to perform at your best, whether at work or in daily life, while boosting your overall sense of well-being. Plus, it’s a stress-buster. When high stress-induced fatigue is getting the best of you, pregnenolone steps in to save the day.

The Age-Defying Hormone

As we age, our bodies undergo various changes, and one significant shift is the decline in hormone levels, including pregnenolone. By the time you reach the age of 75, your body produces a staggering 60% less pregnenolone than in your mid-thirties. This decline makes pregnenolone a key biomarker of aging – it’s like counting the rings of a tree, but for your body.

But pregnenolone isn’t alone in this hormonal decline. Other essential hormones, such as DHEA, estrogens, testosterone, progesterone, and growth hormone, also experience a similar decrease with age. This hormonal decline is often accompanied by a decline in your quality of life. You may notice a decrease in energy, memory issues, changes in your vision and hearing, joint problems, heart issues, and even a decrease in your libido.

However, there’s hope. By supplementing small amounts of hormones like pregnenolone, you can slow down these age-related processes, effectively rejuvenating your body’s functions and improving your overall quality of life.

The History of Pregnenolone

The fascinating history of pregnenolone dates back to the 1930s, with research and usage becoming more prevalent over the years. In the 1940s, human studies were conducted on factory workers, testing the effects of pregnenolone on anti-fatigue and autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis. The results were remarkable – improvements were observed, and safety was confirmed.

However, pregnenolone’s journey took a different turn when a pharmaceutical agent named cortisone, introduced by Merck in 1949, was touted as a cure-all for rheumatoid arthritis. Soon after, more potent synthetic steroids like dexamethasone and prednisone were developed, overshadowing pregnenolone.

Despite the initial successes of pregnenolone, research came to a halt in the 1950s due to the popularity of these synthetic alternatives. These steroids, while fast-acting, brought about serious downsides, including compromising the immune system and inducing conditions like osteoporosis.

Where Pregnenolone Resides

It’s fascinating to note that pregnenolone is much more abundant in nervous tissue than in the bloodstream. In animal studies, it was found in the brain in concentrations ten times larger than other stress-related hormones, including DHEA.

The Promise of Pregnenolone

In a world where we’re all seeking ways to improve our quality of life and combat the challenges of aging, pregnenolone emerges as a potent ally. It’s a safe and natural way to enhance memory, reduce stress, and potentially balance other hormones in your body. Its fascinating history, incredible benefits, and untapped potential make it an exciting avenue for further exploration.

If you’re seeking a brighter, healthier future and a more vibrant you, discover the hidden power of pregnenolone. It could be the key to revitalizing your life. For personalized insights into your hormone levels and the potential benefits of supplementation, schedule a consultation with Dr. Nicole Maxwell at Boise Natural Health Clinic. Your journey to enhanced well-being begins here.

Eye Health – Be Proactive

I recently took an Eye Health continuing education class.  It was excellent and I got caught up on the latest.  I learned some interesting and useful science about the eyes.  Macular degeneration is the leading cause of vision loss in Americans 60 years of age and older. Luckily it is a “nutrition responsive disorder”.  

What is a Macula

The macula acts as a color filter through which light passes before it is perceived by the rods and cones in your retina.  It is responsible for some VERY important stuff:

  1. Our central vision
  2. Most of our color vision
  3. The fine detail of what we see

What Damages the Macula

Blue light comes from our light bulbs, computers and also the sun creates free radicals which damage the tissue.  Blue light creates reactive radicals (free radicals) in the retina damaging essential tissues.

Lack of eye resiliency that comes with age and poor nutrition. 

Macular pigments lutein and zeaxanthin quench free radicals and actively protect the macula’s nerve tissue from the damage

Orange Blocks Blue

If you’ve seen blue blocking glasses, you know that blue blocking glasses range from yellow to dark orange.  This makes sense, blue and orange are opposite each other on the color wheel. 

Pigments from Food get Embedded in your Macula

Some plants contain yellow/orange/red pigments such as lutein and zeaxanthin which then get embedded directly in the eye and directly contribute to your vision. 

To filter blue light, eat yellow-orange-red foods

Being Proactive

Macular degeneration is a “nutrition responsive disorder”.  The National Eye Institute has undertaken two Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS) showing that specific nutrients can slow the progression of the disease.  

NIH Conducted a Study which Created a Supplement

AREDS – Age-Related Eye Disease Studies by NIH.  Enrolled for thant 5,000 people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD), ended in 2001.  Showed that a specific formula of nutritional supplements containing high doses of antioxidants and zinc could slow the disease in those who have intermediate AMD and those with advanced AMD in only one eye. 

Follow-up study AREDS2 published in 2013 substituted lutein and zeaxanthin for beta-carotine.  Results showed that the AREDS2 combination reduced the risk of disease progression by as much as 19 percent and/or of vision loss by 25 percent. 

Not all AREDS Supplements are the Same

After taking the class, I wanted to start an eye health product and be able to recommend one to my patients. 

In a recent medical journal researchers compared 11 brand-name supplements and found that many of the products were lacking.   Here’s the product I decided on for myself and to share with my patients: 

To order using Fullscript

Sources and Resources

Want to be 3 Years Younger in 8 Weeks?

Old lady happy staring at the mirror

A new research study from the National University of Natural Medicine’s Helfgott Research Institute show’s us how, in a simple and naturopathic way.  Why do we want to be younger aside from feeling better?  Age-associated health decline is associated with cardiovascular disease, stroke, Diabetes type 2 and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Fitzgerald, ND, IFMCP said that if can slow down aging by a single year (with the extended lifespan) then we can save the United States $38 trillion.  That jumps to  $367 trillion by 10 years.  The impact on our economy and our society is tremendous.

Old lady happy staring at the mirror

The simple interventions targeted DNA methylation patterns that predict biological age.   DNA methylation capacity is a major driver of aging and the associated diseases and if patterns are optimized then aging slows down.

Wouldn’t it be great to be biologically a year or even 3 years younger?  The study parameters were quite simple and involved 5 areas:

  1. Diet:
    1. The intervention was plant-centered with targeted foods that support methylation (see footnote 2 for specifics)
    2. Low in carbohydrates
    3. Limited nutrient-dense animal proteins like egg and liver
    4. Mild intermittent fasting (no food from 7pm to 7am)
  2. Supplements:
    1. Probiotics
    2. A proprietary powder combination of vegetables, fruits, seeds, herbs and plant enzymes
  3. Exercise
    1. A minimum of 30 minutes of exercise per day, 5 days of the week at 80% maximum perceived exertion (rapid breathing, can’t talk now!)
  4. Breathing
    1. Individuals were taught a relaxation breathing technique to use twice daily. I also encourage the use of meditation apps like Insight Timer, Calm, Headspace, etc. If you use Insight Timer you can find me under the name Nicole in Boise with a photo of a boy on a log
  5. Sleep
    1. Individuals were encouraged to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night

The Horvath NDAmAge Clock showed that the treatment group was, on average, 3.23 years younger than the control group.  And the participants in the treatment group were 1.96 years younger at the end of the program compared to when they started.

Although one significant limitation of this pilot trial is limited statistical power due to the relatively small sample size, I for one am happy to make these simple changes to maintain a healthy biological age.  I realize confirmation of these results is needed in larger study groups (they are currently enrolling for a larger study) and populations beyond middle-aged men.

I hope you find this helpful in supporting a more youthful metabolism in the new year and beyond.  For more individual support please feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Nicole Maxwell at Boise Natural Health Clinic.

Arthritis: A Naturopathic Approach

By Nicole Maxwell, NMD

Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in older people as cited in a recent article in the American Journal of Public Health1.  The article states, “Arthritis will play a large role in the health-related quality of life, functional independence, and disability of older adults in the upcoming decades.”

In this article, I focus on Four Foundational Principles for those suffering from arthritis.  Even for those without symptoms or who are younger, these preventive measures are critical to maintaining joint (and other aspects of) health into the later stages of life.  

What is Arthritis?  

From Mayo Clinic: Arthritis is the swelling and tenderness of one or more of your joints. The main symptoms of arthritis are joint pain and stiffness, which typically worsen with age. The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis which causes cartilage – the hard, slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones where they form a joint – to break down.

Learn More:  Mayo Clinic article about Arthritis  

Foundation One: Hydration and collagen.

Many seniors tend not to drink as much water because of urinary urgency or incontinence.  However, our joints need hydration (water and oil) to stay mobile and to aid repair.  As simple as it sounds, consider drinking at least 6 glasses of water daily.  Aim to finish hydration by 5 or 6 pm so it doesn’t impede sleep.  One can add a pinch of salt to a large water container to aid absorption.  The next level of optimal hydration is to invest in a water filter that removes harmful pollutants.

Joints also need to be oiled, just like in a machine, and the oil for humans is in the form of essential fatty acids or EFAs.  Consider a tablespoon of fish oil, like cod liver oil, once a day to increase the good fats in your body and decrease inflammation contributing to arthritis.  Since EFAs increase blood thinning, if you are taking a blood-thinning medication, be sure to let your physician know so they can monitor.  

Joints are also made up of collagen which is the rubbery end part of joints and aids cartilage repair.  Consider taking a collagen hydrolysate supplement to support your joints.  Collagen seems to be mostly effective with osteoarthritis and may not be as significant in rheumatoid arthritis.

Foundation Two: Inflammation

Arthritis is essentially joint breakdown and often occurs because of inflammation.  Therefore, reducing inflammation is paramount.  This includes discovering if one has a food intolerance and then avoiding the food or foods creating inflammation.,

Other ways to reduce inflammation associated with food: avoiding and/or decreasing refined carbohydrate intake.  Consider limiting net carbs to 150 grams a day.  Check out this article on carbs and arthritis: Consider replacing carbohydrates with colorful vegetables.

It is also important to check one’s gut health and see if one’s microbiome is helping or hindering the healing process.

Foundation Three: Repair

You may have heard of glucosamine and chondroitin – these two nutrients are great for arthritis pain reduction.  To be effective, these supplements must be taken regularly for at least three months to notice the benefits.

Foundation Four: Pain Management

It is important to stay active.  Mild to moderate, regular aerobic exercise, including water exercise, helps to reduce pain.  Consider your local YMCA as they have many options for different ages and abilities.

People regularly ask me about pain supplements and my preference for arthritis pain is curcumin from the turmeric plant.  I recommend a bioavailable form of curcumin like Theracurmin. 

Naturopathic Medicine Treats the Whole Person

Do you or someone you know have arthritis?   If you need more help, consider scheduling an appointment with Dr. Nicole at Boise Natural Health Clinic.

Am J Public Health. 2012 March; 102(3): 426–433

Aging: Two Books I’m Finding Useful

By Joan Haynes, NMD

My own grappling with aging draws me, more than ever, toward a deeper understanding of the issues associated with getting older.  Here are two recent books I draw inspiration from, both personally and professionally:

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life

By Louise Aronson, MD  

Most people alive today will spend more years in elderhood than in childhood – how can we make the best of it?  Part memoir, part medical information, Dr. Aronson’s book is long but easy to read.  She is a great storyteller and I can relate to her views on medicine.  

Here’s a review that captures how I feel about this book: 

“The book that every one of us has been or will be looking for – a passionate, illuminating, brilliant, and beautifully written meditation on aging and caring for elders.  Elderhood is a godsend.”  Pauline Chen, MD, author of FINAL EXAM.

The End of Alzheimer’s: The First Program to Prevent and Reverse Cognitive Decline

By Dale E. Bredesen, MD

If you have concerns about failing memory, or perhaps have a family history of dementia, READ THIS BOOK NOW!    Early intervention affects outcomes. 

The book outlines 3 processes that lead to brain decline:

  1. Inflammation from infection, diet or other causes.
  2. Shortage of supportive nutrients or hormones.
  3. Toxic substances such as metals or biotoxins (from mold or chronic infections)

Dr. Bredesen details the basic labs and specialty tests to consider (which we run at Boise Natural Health Clinic) such as evaluation of food sensitivities, hormone levels, microbiome & digestion analysis, and toxin measurements.  

The research-proven ideas and protocols provided by Dr. Bredesen provide useful insights that will optimize anyone’s cognition, the aging process and positively impact almost any chronic disease, not just Alzheimer’s.