Category Archives: Life


They Don’t Just Taste Great!


Those delicious snacks of nuts are rich in fiber, low in saturated fats and have high levels of antioxidants.  They are probably the most nutritious snacks out there, according to new research, and the benefits are more wide-ranging than we think.  Nuts also contain vitamins and minerals in addition to their various antioxidants and have definitely earned their spot in the “superfood” category.

It has also been shown through research that nut consumption will reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer, as well as the health benefits might extend well beyond these major diseases.  The Imperial College London in the United Kingdom and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Norway researchers analyzed a range of existing studies and tracked down the associations between nuts intake and the risk of various illnesses.  These findings have been published in the journal BMC Medicine, which consisted of a meta-analysis of 29 existing studies from around the world, including Europe, Australia and Asia.

The medical research databases PubMed and Embase were used to search for prospective studies of cardiovascular disease (CVD), total cancer cases, all-cause mortality rates and cause-specific mortality rates in 2016.  About 819,448 participants that included over 12,300 cases of coronary heart disease, more than 18,600 cases of CVD and 18,400 cases of cancer, were included in the analysis. The link between nut consumption and mortality was studied from a variety of causes, such as respiratory disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative disease, infectious disease and kidney disease.  All kinds of tree nuts were included in the research such as hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts and pine nuts, which are actually legumes.

Just that little handful of nuts a day is enough to cut the risk of various diseases and is associated with an overall 22% decrease in the risk of all-cause mortality.  In fact, as little as 20 grams a day (a handful) can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease by almost 30%, CVD by 21% and of all cancers by 15%. The risk of respiratory disease was also shown to decrease by 52%.  Eating nuts will also decrease the risk of diabetes by almost 40% and the risk of infectious diseases by 75%. Tree nuts and peanuts both seemed to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, CVD and mortality, but only peanuts reduced the risk of stroke.  A decreased risk of cancer was linked only to tree nuts.

Under the assumption that the observed associations are causal, they estimate that approximately 4.4 million premature deaths in the regions covered, including North and South America, Europe, Southeast Asia, and Western Pacific, may be attributable to a nut intake below 20 grams per day.  

They found a consistent reduction in risk across many of the different diseases, which is a strong indication of underlying relationships between nut consumption and different health outcomes.  Nuts and peanuts are high in fiber, magnesium and polyunsaturated fats are nutrients and are beneficial for cardiovascular disease risks, and can reduce cholesterol levels. Mixed nuts were shown to improve insulin resistance and decrease inflammation in patients with metabolic syndrome.  Nuts can also help fight oxidative stress, possibly reduce cancer risk, and there is some evidence that suggests nuts might actually reduce your risk of obesity over time. Sounds like a winning snack to me!

Dr Fredda Branyon


Aloe Vera Fraud

Many benefits have been shown from using aloe vera on wounds, cuts and burns.  Some serious diseases have been remedied as well to help speed up healing as well as to ease the pain.  The healing power of aloe vera gel is widely known today such as heartburn relief, to lower blood pressure and slowing breast cancer growth, to name just a few.Aloe Vera

With all this said The Washington Post reported recently that private brands of aloe vera products from Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens and CVS were tested and found to contain zero particles of aloe vera.  The products were left wanting:

  • Wal-Mart’s Equate Aloe After Sun Gel with pure aloe vera
  • Target’s Up & Up Aloe Vera Gel with pure aloe vera
  • CVS Aftersun Aloe Vera Moisturizing Gel
  • Walgreens Alcohol Free Aloe Vera Body Gel

All four mention aloe vera first, or list it second after water in the ingredient list.  ConsumerLab estimated that only half of the aloe products actually contain meaningful levels of the gel.  The International Aloe Science Council who creates the standards for the aloe industry, estimate sales to be around $100 million annually, and certified none of these listed products.

The companies stood behind their product suppliers.  Among all 4 stores there are about 23,000 outlets with the alleged aloe-containing products on the shelves.  The companies dispute the validity of the lab findings.

What are they using for these products if not aloe vera?  The Wal-Mart, CVS and Target brands contained maltodextrin, a cheaper, sugar-based aloe vera alternative.  Walgreen’s version used the marker malic acid only. Even lactic acid, an ingredient in the plant that would reveal broken-down aloe vera bits, was absent.

AloeCorp, one of the biggest suppliers of raw aloe powder, has been undercut in the market by aloe vera wannabe products like maltodextrin.  It is not cheap producing pure, unadulterated aloe vera. It is hand-harvested and the aloe powder can cost as much as $240 a kilogram, while the same amount of maltodextrin can cost only a few dollars.

Some beneficial ingredients in aloe vera are anthraquinones, fatty acids, enzymes, vitamins and minerals.  Some of the health benefits provided by aloe vera are diabetes, minor skin infections, frostbite, dandruff, epilepsy, canker sores, acne, bowel disease, psoriasis, cysts, eczema, osteoarthritis, ulcers, genital herpes, gum disease, fever, constipation, sunburn, cold sores and itching.  

Most of the benefits we receive from aloe vera come from the gel of the spiky, succulent leaves.  It is widely used by cutting off enough of one of the stiff leaves to apply the gel on trouble spots, but it can also be used internally for acid reflux, indigestion and ulcers.  The gel is easily extracted by slitting open a leaf and squeezing the gel out.

Dr Fredda Branyon


Blood Tests to Predict Cancer Survival

There is a routine blood test that can predict how long cancer patients in palliative care will survive, according to the researcher’s report at the ESMO Asia 2016 Congress Singapore.  Lead author Dr. Yu Unenon, an oncologist at Kyoto University in Japan relates that these palliative care patients want honest and accurate prognostic information, but it needs to be sensitively shared in a way that respects their desire to maintain hope.

The patients with advanced cancer and their families must make decisions about treatment and where to spend the end-of-life as well as when to discontinue palliative chemotherapy.  Ineffective therapy increases life-threatening adverse events, reduces quality of life, delays hospice referral and deprives patients of the chance to die in their preferred place by continuing when therapy is ineffective.  Predicting the prognosis improves end-of-life care for cancer patients and their caregivers.Blood Tester

Evaluations can determine whether or not pharmacological treatment should be given.  A previous model for predicting prognosis for a patient used subjective conditions such as dyspnea and delirium, which may be scored differently by clinicians.  Currently, the Six Adaptable Prognostic (SAP) models use 3 laboratory measurements (albumin, neutrophil, lactate dehydrogenase) which are routinely monitored in daily clinical practice with a blood test.  These can be used at any time after the initiation of treatment. This is important because a patient’s condition can change. The six models were developed in around 5,000 cancer patients receiving chemo at Kyoto University Hospital in Japan, and predicted death within 1-6 months for those receiving chemotherapy, allowing physicians to re-estimate prognosis at any time point after the initiation of chemotherapy.

It was found that the SAP models had a good ability to predict that a patient would die in one to three months.  A prediction was accurate in 75-80% of the cases. These models could be a promising decision aid for the healthcare professionals and allows patients adequate time to prepare for their impending death which is vital for planning effective palliative care.

Dr. Grace Yang, Division of Palliative Medicine, National Cancer Centre Singapore said that the rapidly increasing armamentarium of anti-cancer therapy means that cancer patients can receive multiple lines of chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy.  These patients may have aggressive treatment until the very last days of their life but not without physical symptoms and great financial cost. This is all information that will help weigh the benefits and burdens of further cancer-directed treatment.

By knowing the patient’s prognosis it will facilitate the decision making regarding trade-offs, for anti-cancer therapy and also for treatments directed at relieving symptoms.  They would have a choice in deciding between pain-relieving treatments with different time horizons for onset and duration of effect, with different side effects/risk profiles and different financial costs.  

Dr Fredda Branyon


Marijuana & Parkinson’s


The second most common neurological illness in the U.S. is Parkinson’s disease.  Symptoms of this disease are tremors, slowness of movement, postural instability and impaired balance and coordination.  Marie Ellis gives information from a new study that suggests that symptoms of this condition could be improved with marijuana.

Prof. Zvi Loewy from the Touro College of Pharmacy in New York led a review that is published in the journal Parkinson’s Disease (PD).  It is noted that medical marijuana has been approved in various U.S. states to treat the symptoms of cancer, HIV/AIDS, glaucoma, chronic pain, seizures, cachexia and multiple sclerosis.

There has also been another recent study that suggests tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active compound in marijuana, reduced beta-amyloid levels in nerve cells.  This is a protein considered a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. About 1 million people are affected by PD in the U.S. This disease gets worse over time and occurs when a person’s brain stops producing dopamine.  This is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in our movement, as well as our cognitive and psychological functions. Currently, there is no cure for the disease and treatments carry several limitations and do not slow progression of PD.  

The latest study says that research has indicated the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in PD as components of this system are highly expressed in the neural circuit of basal ganglia, which is part of a complex neuronal system.  This system organizes activities from certain cortical regions that are active in the movement control. Therapies out there were basically for motor symptoms, but Parkinson’s also has non-motor symptoms that greatly impact the quality of a person’s life.  The team conducted a thorough literature review on studies of marijuana. A chemical component of marijuana yields benefits in the wake of different PD symptoms and is the most compelling finding. Prof. Loewy notes that marijuana has been found to relieve pain in other disease and it should be studied for pain relief in people with PD.  About 50% of people with this condition are affected by pain.

According to the team, the cannabinoid compounds in marijuana bind to dopamine receptors to reduce the effects of reduced dopamine in the brain.  The compounds replace the normal compounds that are adversely affected by Parkinson’s.

It was also found that the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of marijuana might prevent neuron damage.  Preventing neuron damage could slow PD progression.

There is a need for safer drugs to treat PD and cannabis may provide a viable alternative or addition to the current treatment of Parkinson’s disease.  There are risks to take into account including memory loss, increase osteoporosis risk and impaired blood vessel function. A study published in April suggested that marijuana use might reduce dopamine in the brain, so this should be taken into account as to how it could affect PD.  

Further studies are indicated to provide more data on efficacy, safety, pharmacokinetics and interactions of cannabinoids.  Some cancer patients are using marijuana for their pain and discomfort as well.

Dr Fredda Branyon


Nutty Anticancer Tool

The stimulant component of areca nuts, arecoline, has anticancer properties, according to the researchers at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University.  These particular findings will be published in Molecular Cell.

In many Asian countries the areca nuts are chewed for their stimulant effects.  Evidence links this practice to the development of oral and esophageal cancer. Arecoline is analogous to nicotine and identified as an inhibitor of the enzyme ACAT1 that contributes to the metabolism-distorting Warburg effect in cancer cells.

The health news observers have complained thatDoctor Tools coffee, for instance, is implicated in causing cancer in one week, and then absolved the next.  Senior author Jin Chen, PhD, professor of hematology and medical oncology at Emory University School of Medicine and Winship Cancer Institute, stress that the same trend is not the same for arecoline.  Showing that ACAT1 is a good anticancer target is just a proof of principle and they view arecoline as a lead to other compounds that could be more potent and selective.

According to Chen arecoline could be compared to arsenic, which is a form used as a treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia, but is also linked to several types of cancer.  If not delivered or absorbed orally, arecoline’s cancer-promoting effects may be limited.

When arecoline first came to light in a chemical screen, it sounded like a carcinogen to Chen, but it all depends on the dose and how it is taken into the body.  

The Warburg effect from 1931 describes how cancer cells tend to favor the inefficient use of glucose, also known as glycolysis, and de-emphasizes their mitochondria.  This metabolic distortion benefits the cancer cells because the byproducts of glycolysis can be used as building blocks for fast growth.

In the lab, Chen had previously identified the mitochondrial thiolase ACAT1 as a control valve regulating the Warburg effect.  Researchers showed that ACAT1 enzymatic activity was higher in several types of cancer cells, even though the levels of ACAT1 protein are about the same.  This is because the protein clusters together as tetramers in cancer cells and when tyrosine kinases are on overdrive in cancer cells, they hijack ACAT1 and nudge it into tetramers that are enzymatically more active.  Arecoline appears to steer cells’ metabolism away from glycolysis.

There seems to be a double role for the enzyme ACAT1 as it breaks down ketones and the amino acid isoleucine, and it also modifies other proteins through acetylation, which is how it regulates the Warburg effect.

ACAT1 has genetic mutations that lie behind a very rare metabolic disorder called beta-ketothiolase deficiency.  Complete inhibition of this could induce side effects resembling that disorder, but the main effect was on protein acetylation and not on ketone metabolism.

There appeared to be no obvious toxicity when treating mice with arecoline but more extensive pharmacokinetic and toxicology studies with arecoline and similar compounds are needed.

Dr Fredda Branyon


Thank You Mom

I ran across this Letter to My Mother and found it very profound.  I decided to share it with you all, even though it is not my original.  I think this letter portrays what we all feel. I have given credit to the author, who is Michelle Kauntz, for a letter well done and well thought out.  This was created by her in the middle of the night when she couldn’t sleep. Her thoughts just kept coming back to her until she felt impelled to write the words on paper.  Please enjoy:

“Letter to My Mother”



Thank you mom

For always attempting to keep me happy, safe, protected and nourished.

Thank you for your kindness, caring and immeasurable patience.

Thank you for looking out for me even when I didn’t think I needed it

and for letting me fall when I had to learn by making my own mistakes.

Thank you mom for always being there;

For waiting up and worrying, for the lectures and the endless concerns.

Thank you for laughing with me, even though I knew at times that you were also laughing at me.

Thank you for the limitless hugs, kisses, vitamins and bandaids

and for the support I receive from you every single day.

Thank you mom

For keeping me warm, for keeping me calm and for keeping me sane.

Thank you for understanding that there were times that I would be mad with you

but always forgiving me in the end.

Thank you or sticking up for me, for encouraging me, for believing in me and

for letting me know that you never expected more than the best I could do.

Thank you mom

For teaching me to be honest, courteous, appreciative and loving.

Thank you for trying to teach me to be neat and tidy, even though it didn’t work.

Thank you for teaching me to try to see the best in people, to be diplomatic in the face of conflict and when I had no choice but to fight, to fight fair.

Thank you mom

For installing in me a love for, books, flowers, photography and food.

Thank you for nurturing me to always try something new and to keep an open mind.

Thank you for the thousands of back rubs, millions of phone calls, and for always sending me home with Left-overs.  Still, to this day, you spoil me and I am incredibly grateful for it.

Thank you mom

For showing me how much beauty is around me, and reminding me of it constantly when my world feels dark and frightening.

Thank you for the endless stories, songs and games when I was young, and the endless conversation and knowing smiles now that I am older.

Thank you for putting up with thousands of diapers, many know-it-all teenage years, my sometimes insane 20’s and the emotional roller coaster that was my 30’s.

And through it all, thank you for loving me no matter what.

Thank you mom

For being so smart, so beautiful, so wise and so talented.  It’s nice to know that I have the potential somewhere in my genetics to possibly one day be as special as you.

Mom, the words ‘I love you’ are not adequate enough to express how grateful I am to be your daughter, how much you are appreciated or how much you will always mean to me, so I will simply say:

Thank you mom for being my superhero, my expert-in-everything

And my very best friend.”

~Michelle Kauntz~


A Gift of Health


What better way to show your love on mother’s day than to give a gift of health?  Harvard Health Publishing offers some suggestions for services and gadgets for gift giving on mother’s day.

Purchasing some items that your mom would never buy for herself, would most likely be an excellent gift for mother’s day.  Some suggestions are:

    • Health club memberships promote year-round health for your mom.  Perhaps a personal trainer through an organization such as the American Council on Exercise (ACE) would be very helpful and appreciated by your mom.
    • Gadgets like a fitness monitor to help track everything from heart rate to the number of steps walked per day might be helpful.  Helping mom to stick to her medication regimen might be made easier by giving her an automatic pill dispenser.  This is especially useful for someone taking several pills daily.
    • Workout equipment is an excellent gift for a mom who likes to exercise at home.  Even giving a yoga mat or exercise clothes with fibers that repel moisture.
    • Give the gift of an exercise class that you can also attend with mom.  Having company gives you a common goal for yoga, tai chi or even ballroom dancing.
    • The gift of knowledge is always a valuable gift.  Perhaps a newsletter or special health report.  These contain reports on dozens of topics and offer insight and advice for improving your health, gaining better balance, boosting energy and losing weight.

Consider your mother’s interests while taking into consideration any previous injuries, surgeries and medical conditions or limitations when selecting that unique and thoughtful gift.  Make this something your mother will cherish as it is most likely something she would not buy for herself.

This is just another way of telling her how much you love and care for her.  Of course, a nice bottle of bath crystals also goes a long way in letting her know how you feel.  Mother’s Day is a special time to let that special person in your life know exactly how much you appreciate all she’s done for you all your life and just how much you love her.

Dr Fredda Branyon



Can our bodies be trained to fight cancer through immunotherapy?  An article was contributed to Live Science’s Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights on how powerful the human immune system is and how complex.  Author of the Live article is Balveen Kaurand Pravin Kaumaya of the Ohio State University.  Invaders of nearly infinite variety can be identified and destroyed while sparing the more than 30 trillion cells of the healthy body.  Research teams are developing novel treatments to harness the full potential of the body’s natural defenses with new insights into the interactions between cancer and the immune system.  This is what immunotherapy is. New Hope Unlimited hashealing been using immunotherapy successfully for years.

Researchers are using animal models and clinical trials to use techniques that will train the immune system to recognize and attack cancer as the enemy.  Traditional medicine uses synthetic drugs to help the immune system find and destroy cancer cells and another is through vaccines that teach the body to recognize the cancer cells. New Hope Unlimited uses all natural products to do the same.

The pairing of immunotherapies with modified viruses that attack tumor cells and keep them from returning are being revealed by recent studies.  These new weapons provide hope that cancer can ultimately be defeated by harnessing the immune system. The immune system springs into action when foreign cells infect the body.

 Antibodies are produced that bind to proteins called antigens on the surface of the foreign cell.

Antigens produced by cancer cells are not normal and don’t bind to their antigens so the immune system does not destroy them.  These barricades stay shielded and weaken immune cells. They are then allowed to grow unchecked, developing blood vessels and invading into other tissues.  The immune system can be educated by immunotherapy to produce antibodies that can bind to the antigens on cancer cells, thus blocking the growth-promoting function of these antigenic proteins or to flag them for recognition and destruction by immune cells.

Some drugs can bind to cancer cell antigens and mark them for death.  Trastuzumab (Herceptin) is a monoclonal antibody that binds to an antigen human epidermal growth factor receptor-2 found in abundance on some of the most deadly breast cancers.  The perception binding triggers an immune assault on the breast cancer cells.

Antibody-mediated therapy has shown promise but such drugs are not always a cure and very expensive leaving the family with a huge burden.  Another approach is using vaccines to fight cancer cells. Synthetic proteins can drain the immune system to recognize antigens on cancer cells, inoculating a patient against a cancer for a year at a time and at a far less cost per patient of less than $1,000. Of course, the patient does end up paying more than that.

Viruses can be trained to attack cancer, with more than 1 benefit.  They directly assault tumor cells and can massively replicate with the diseased cells, causing them to explode.  As immunotherapies evolve and grow more effective, combination therapies bring every available treatment when cancer strikes.  Patients will respond differently to personalized treatment. The biggest challenge in viral and immunotherapy is to harness the good to destroy cancer without the potential toxicity that could become lethal and destroy nonmalignant cells.

                                                                                                                                      — Dr Fredda Branyon

Alternative Care

I read an eye opening article written by a woman who is a cancer survivor.  Her story was uplifting and proves to me that alternative medicine is the perfect alternative to the immune destroying chemo treatments.

The lady in the article was told by her doctor that there was nothing further he could do for her. She had experienced a near death reaction to their poisonous chemotherapy.  She felt he had made all the money he could off her and was at the end of her treatment.  She chose as a last resort to enter one of the alternative care facilities in Mexico.  This was in 2007 when she was sent home to die by the oncologist.

She feels very fortunate at being a survivor and able to recommend alternative treatment in Mexico after surviving for 9 more years to date cancer free.  She arrived at the facility in a wheel chair with only several weeks to live.  Weak and feeling next to death, she fortunately still had the will to live.  After only several weeks of natural cancer treatments, she professed being a new person.  She felt strong and alive.  She walked out of the clinic beside her husband with huge smiles on both their faces.  At this point, she knew she would live.  

Upon returning home she visited her conventional oncologist who was shocked after receiving the results of her “after” PET-scan test, compared to her first test.  He professed never having seen anything quite like it.  Her blood tests were perfect and the PET-scan did not detect ANY CANCER at all.  She left him bewildered and confused at leaving, without even telling him she had been to Mexico for treatment.

This generous lady shared her story in the hopes that others out there having been given the death sentence would reach out to the possibility of alternative cancer treatment.  Many testimonies like this one are posted every day.  Don’t block out the possibility and hope that your life is NOT over, just temporarily sidetracked!


Treating Pain Without Drugs

The United States released a federal report revealing that more than 54% of adults had some type of musculoskeletal pain disorder such as back, joint or neck pain in 2012. This is a leading cause of disability and major contributor to health care expenses and disability compensation, and a significant price Americans pay for pain. Those suffering from pain were significantly more likely to have used a complementary health approach compared to those without pain.

There was congressional testimony from the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians (ASIPP) that stated Americans consume 80% of the pain pills in the world. More than 2,000 pain patients in the U.S. said they were taking a dangerously addictive opioid pain medication. It has been suggested by research that these drugs work for only about three months and make changes in your brain that may lead to increased feelings of pain, along with added emotional upset. Feelings of hopelessness and desperation can be included.

Many suffering pain have tried nearly every treatment that conventional medicine has to offer such as medications, injections, surgery and more, only to find their pain hasn’t gotten better and they are struggling with treatment-induced side effects as well. At this point, it’s natural that they begin to seek other options, like holistic, complementary or “alternative” health care options for some relief.

Mayo Clinic Proceedings evaluated several complementary approaches for pain relief as listed below:

· Acupuncture
· Massage Therapy
· Relaxation Techniques
· Exercise
· Medical Marijuana

The therapeutic and psychoactive properties of marijuana occur when a cannabinoid activates a cannabinoid receptor. These receptors are in your brain, lungs, liver, kidneys, immune system and more. It is known that cannabinoid receptors play an important role in many body processes, including metabolic regulations, cravings, pain, anxiety, bone growth and immune function.

Turmeric contains curcumin, which has notable anti-inflammatory properties and has earned a reputation for being a multi-faceted healer. Essential oils for pain relief are: lavender, marjoram, chamomile, spruce, clove, ginger, sandalwood, fennel, wintergreen and frankincense.

Essential oils that help relieve RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis) pain and inflammation include peppermint, orange, ginger, myrrh and turmeric.

Homeopathy is found to be effective for low back pain, and some common remedies include Aesculus, for dull pain with muscle weakness, Gnaphalium, for sciatica that alternates with numbness, Colocynthis, for weakness and cramping in the small of the back, Amica Montana, for pain as a result of trauma, Lycopodium, for burning pain, and Rhus toxicodendron, for stiffness and pain in the small of the back.

Your life can quickly be sidelined if you are in severe pain or struggling with chronic pain. Seek the help of a pain specialist who is familiar with alternative treatments. By identifying the underlying causes of your pain, a knowledgeable practitioner can help you to relieve your pain in the short term while healing the cause.

— Dr Fredda Branyon