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Life Extension Magazine

LE Magazine June 2002

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Sleepy?
Blood Pressure control alternatives

Q I am a 46-year-old male. Recently I began taking 25 mg of Atenolol for treatment of high blood pressure. I've been reading about melatonin because I don't sleep well and am concerned about interaction with the Atenolol. Ultimately, I want to control my blood pressure without medication. Would you please address any harmful concerns of chemical interaction?

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A One of the side effects listed for the beta-blocker, Atenolol, is sleeplessness. According to the Physician's Desk Reference for Nutritional Supplements, melatonin is not contraindicated with beta-blockers. In fact, the PDR states that taking beta-blockers will lead to decreased melatonin levels.

For most people, we recommend the angiotension II receptor antagonist class of drugs to lower blood pressure instead of beta-blockers (like Atenolol). Ask your doctor to consider prescribing Cozaar instead of Atenolol. Cozaar has been shown to produce side benefits such as reduction in risk of stroke and improved libido. If you would like to try to lower your blood pressure naturally, please refer to the Hypertension protocol.

Q I have read that high levels of homocysteine are more responsible for high cholesterol levels than diet alone. I've also read that daily supplementation with folic acid, and vitamins B6 and B12, is effective against high homocysteine levels. Are there any other vitamin supplements that you recommend for this?

A Accumulation of a toxic amino acid called homocysteine has been linked to both cardiovascular and Alzheimer's disease. High homocysteine levels will not cause your body to produce more cholesterol, but it can promote early atherosclerosis and plaque fibrosis [Arteriosclerosis Thromb Vasc Biol 2001 Sep;21(9):1470-6]. Vitamins B6, B12, folic acid and TMG (trimethylglycine) can help lower homocysteine levels. Trimethylglycine is an important nutrient for the prevention of heart disease, stroke and aging. The name "trimethylglycine" means that it has three methyl groups attached to each molecule of glycine. In the body, TMG donates one of its methyl groups to cellular DNA, which may help protect DNA against damage and its consequences: cancer and premature aging. When a TMG methyl group is donated to a molecule of homocysteine, it is converted first to methionine and then to S-adenosyl-methionine (SAMe). It is recommended that you get a periodic blood test to check your homocysteine levels. For information on homocysteine blood tests levels and dosage recommendations, check out the Homocysteine protocol.

Q My friend uses Brite Eyes and swears by it. She sits in front of a computer all day and says this product helps alleviate dry, tired eyes. I wear contact lenses; can I use Brite Eyes, too?

A Yes, Brite Eyes can be used by those who wear contact lenses. Be sure to apply Brite Eyes to the eyes while not wearing your contact lenses. Wait 15 to 20 minutes, then put the lenses back in. If you experience any discomfort, discontinue the use of Brite Eyes.

Q It is my understanding that acetyl-l-carnitine should be taken on an empty stomach for best results. However, on the label of Chronoforte (which contains it), this instruction is not included. What do you advise if one wants to use Chronoforte but wants optimum benefits from acetyl-l-carnitine?

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A Acetyl-l-carnitine is an amino acid derivative, not a protein amino acid. Therefore, it does not compete with the same receptor sites within the brain and can be taken with food. Some nutritionists believe that carnitine works better without food, whereas some consumers find it easier on their stomach to take ChronoForte with meals.

Q Does white willow bark contain similar ingredients to regular aspirin, and does it produce the same benefits?

A The compound white willow bark is synthesized into acetylsalicylic acid, otherwise known as aspirin. White willow bark acts as a weaker form of aspirin.

Q What are the side effects of SAMe, and can an individual drink at least one glass of wine while taking it?

A People who start off using high doses of SAMe can sometimes experience stomach upset or restlessness. The best way to avoid this is to start with the smallest dose and slowly increase it, if need be, over the course of a few weeks. There are no studies indicating that an occasional glass of wine or an alcoholic beverage is contraindicated with SAMe. In fact, SAMe has been shown in studies to protect the liver against toxicity and free radical damage from alcohol. SAMe's ability to be taken up by human liver cells and converted into glutathione was confirmed by researchers in Spain. They reported that supplemental SAMe maintains glutathione levels if added at the same time as alcohol (which drastically depletes glutathione) [Scand J Gastroenterol 24: 407-14, Hepatol 14: 528-3, Hepatol 8: 65-8, Clin Sci 83: 3535-6].

Q Do elevated homocysteine levels play a significant role in the etiology of life threatening, deep venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism?

A There is evidence that elevated plasma levels of total homocysteine are associated with an elevated risk of deep-vein thrombosis. The study concluded that low plasma levels of B vitamins-especially B6, which is involved in the metabolism of homocysteine-are associated with an elevated risk of deep-vein thrombosis [Circulation 2001 Nov 13;104(20):2442-6, Zhonghua Xue Ye Xue Za Zhi 1999 Sep;20(20):471-3].



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