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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine September 2001

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Seeking Alternatives
Natural Therapies May Help Alleviate Existing Conditions

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Q I have had epilepsy since I was 11 years old. It was under control with Dilantin until a few years ago. That was when I turned 40. I am now on Keppra and it doesn't seem to be helping either. I've only had one seizure while on it but I want zero for a score. My doctor wants to put me on Lamictal. I've read about the side effects and don't want to take it. Do you believe my condition can be kept in check with the intake of vitamins alone? I don't mind taking the Keppra at the moment but I would like to explore other alternatives that may decrease the seizure activity. I have a call out to my M.D. but I wanted to get some additional information.

A While no evidence exists that epilepsy can be completely controlled with supplements, there are studies that indicate taurine and melatonin might offer some benefits. Taurine, a sulphur based amino acid, is one of the most abundant amino acids found in the body and is found throughout the excitable tissues of the central nervous system. According to the Alternative Medicine Review 1998; Apr; 3(2): 128-36, taurine has been used with varying degrees of success in the treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders.

Also, in the Journal of Neurology 2000; 55:1746-1748, there was a study that suggests that low melatonin levels are associated with uncontrollable seizures. Even though the journal emphasizes that the evidence is only preliminary at this time, it may be wise to begin taking a small dose of melatonin. As a side benefit, melatonin intake has been associated with generating anti-aging effects. Despite these promising studies, it is not advisable to discontinue or reduce your medication without consulting with your physician.

Q Recently I was told that I may have been subjected to iron overload, and I must give up iron and vitamin C over 100 milligrams. I was told that my daily all-purpose vitamin should not contain iron. I have been taking vitamin C, 2 to 6 grams daily for 30 years. How could this enhance my possibility of iron overload? Are there any potential side effects or difficulties associated with such a drastic reduction? I am 86 years old.

A Vitamin C taken with iron containing foods can increase the absorption of iron from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. However, according to published findings in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (USA) 1997, 272/25 (15656-15660), vitamin C acts as a potent antioxidant against lipid peroxidation in iron overloaded plasma. Therefore, hemochromatosis patients should take one 500 mg buffered vitamin C capsule three times a day, between meals, not with meals. Green tea extract is a potent antioxidant that helps remove excess iron from the liver. The Foundation has documented the effects of green tea extract and other supplements that could help with iron overload in the Hemochromatosis protocol. This protocol may be accessed from The Foundation's web site at www.lef.org. In reference to your concern about vitamin C reduction and side effects, reducing your initial dose of 2 to 6 grams to 1.5 grams, as recommended above, should not be a problem.

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Q I would like to give Adapton to my 11-year-old son to help alleviate his ADHD and general anxiety disorder. Is it all right to give it to him along with 5 mg of Buspar that he is currently taking, or do I need to decrease the dosage?

A Adapton contains a class of polypepetides that act as precursors to endorphins and other neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters exert a regulatory effect on the nervous system, which helps one adapt to mentally and physically stressful conditions. Adapton can be safely taken with other antidepressant drugs such as Buspar, Prozac and Paxil. As always, we recommend that you notify your son's doctor as to any adjuvant therapies or supplements he may take.

Q I am currently taking methylcobalamin. My concern is the bright pink color, which tastes very fake. What is it, and what    are the side effects of this dye?

A Certain vitamins in their raw state naturally have different colors. For example, B-complex vitamins are generally yellow. The methylcobalamin is a special form of B12, which tends to have a pinkish, reddish color. To follow is an explanation from the chemist and product developer: "The red color stems from the structure of the molecule that comprises conjugated double bonds, which induce a transmission of daylight in the red wavelengths." As far as the ingredients, they are sorbitol, mannitol, vanilla flavor, magnesium stearate, croscarmellose sodium, cellulose and silica. The first three ingredients are sweeteners-flavoring ingredients. The others are binders to keep the tablets from falling apart when exposed to oxygen.

Q I have been taking melatonin for about five years. Do you have an update on its side effects?

A The Foundation has been writing about melatonin, especially for cancer prevention, since 1992. A recent review of studies on the use of melatonin showed no toxic side effects in long-term use.



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