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VISUAL DEGENERATION

04 October, 2003


The following extract form Joseph G. Hattersley's partly published Avoiding Visual Degeneration" paper is required reading as it provides some solid information on how to retain one's vision among other things. Once again the importance of proper nutrition is again a the recurrent theme. While this may seem to some as a non issue - it is the de facto route to health and simply cannot be overlooked. The full paper, with proper formatting, side bars and two and half pages of citations, can be accessed by clicking on the above title.

Chris Gupta
http://www.newmediaexplorer.org/chris/2003/09/28/
avoiding_visual_degeneration.htm


Part I. Do physicians really and truly want to help their patients, even if it might cost them a lot of business? Ophthalmologists withheld from two of my friends, information that might have saved their vision.

An article in Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) November 2, 1994, sings the praises of spinach. People who ate Popeye's favorite daily suffered only one-tenth as much age-related macular degeneration (AMD) as those who seldom ate spinach. And for patients with the condition, eating spinach prevented worsening.

Research has now confirmed that three to four portions of spinach weekly can reverse at least early AMD. "Dr. Richer, chief of the optometry section at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs in North Chicago, recently tested 14 patients who were showing the first signs of AMD. After just 12 weeks of eating three to four portions of spinach a week, those in the study showed 60% to 80% improvement in their AMD tests. Among the eight who had either a hole or a distortion in their vision, for seven the problem either improved or disappeared completely."

The macula is a light-sensitive part of the central retinal area near the optic nerve; it provides sharp central visual acuity. AMD is the leading cause of blindness among American, Canadian and English elderly, and it afflicts nearly 40 percent of the more than 10 million Americans with diabetes. AMD is a cousin of coronary heart disease, and shares with it a common ancestor: atherosclerosis. Free radicals promote and speed macular degeneration as well as aging, heart disease, arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease, among others.

The benefits result largely from spinach's thousands of carotenoids, which are phytonutrients (plant nutrients) related to and including carotenes. "High concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin, both of them carotenoids, are found in [and so, presumably, required by] the retina of the eye, explaining why consuming them in diet protects against macular degeneration." New research finds that eggs may be an especially good source of lutein and zeaxanthin because substances in the yolk make it easier for the body to absorb these compounds. It is already known that eating eggs does not elevate risk of heart attack; in fact, published research found that those who ate more eggs had fewer heart attacks. So such findings strengthen our recommendation to eat whole, natural foods including all the eggs we want.

Besides AMD, many of these fight cancers and other afflictions; and they do it better than beta-carotene, the only carotenoid found in most vitamin supplements. Other dark-green leafy vegetables such as kale, collards, and Brussels sprouts offer much the same multiple nutrients/-vitamin/mineral benefits.

Two anecdotes reveal the extent of the eye-specialist problem.

A few years ago a bridge-playing friend of ours went to his eye doctor with early macular degeneration. The doctor never mentioned kale, chard, spinach or green tea. And now our friend can no longer hunt deer, play bridge, repair things, read or engage in other much loved activities.

A neighbor's mother had very advanced AMD; her eye doctor was using lasers on her and more, yet the condition was worsening. My friend noticed a huge bottle of aspirin in her mother's house and suggested she stop taking it. After that, her eye condition stabilized. Why?

(a) A letter in New England Journal of Medicine in 1988 reported that aspirin can cause AMD. JD Kingham, MD, wrote, "Since 1983 at our clinic, many elderly patients who present with decreased central vision and macular hemorrhage [the most severe form of AMD] have a history of recent ingestion of aspirin and other drugs known to affect platelet function or the coagulation process."

(b) And patients with blocked arteries to the brain (a dangerous stroke situation) have three times as many strokes from ruptured arteries if they are taking an aspirin a day.

Dr. Kingham's discovery and that reported in Medical Tribune have not been confirmed. But a massive computer literature search by Kirk Hamilton, PA, publisher of Clinical Pearls News, Sacramento, CA, found no refutation. So there is at least a caution flag on long-term aspirin.

Fortunately, aspirin's anti-clotting benefits in lowering risk of heart attack and stroke can be obtained without side effects in at least two ways. (a) White willow bark, which the Greek physician Dioscorides used in the first century AD. People with a headache long chewed white willow bark. Bayer Co. derived aspirin itself from the bark, modifying the molecule to make it patentable. This modification is the source of excess bleeding, digestive upsets, worsened gut permeability and 3,000 U.S. deaths a year from aspirin poisoning, as well as the risk of ultimate blindness.

Jonathan V. Wright, MD, a leading alternative/integrative practitioner in Kent, WA has found that two 400-milligram capsules of the powdered bark provide about the same amount of salicin, the active ingredient, as a baby aspirin. Four such capsules thin the blood as effectively as an adult aspirin. (See Part 2.)

(b) Another alternative: three glasses daily of purple grape juice can reduce platelet aggregation as much as a daily aspirin. "Blood platelets floating in a juice solution clotted about 30% less than platelets not in the juice, and released three times more chemicals that widen blood vessels and inhibit clots." And unlike aspirin, the flavonoids in purple grape juice remain effective when adrenaline levels rise. In another test, purple grape juice lowered susceptibility of LDL-cholesterol to oxidation.

Also, a published clinical test showed melatonin lowers eyeball pressure in glaucoma patients. The insomnia age group - for whom its use is safe and appropriate at 1 to 5 milligrams before bedtime -- is the same as the glaucoma age group.

Macular degeneration and diet. (1) In rats, excitotoxins rapidly damage the macula, offering a new slant on burgeoning AMD. They wreak many other ill effects on people consuming processed foods. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), aspartame (Nutra-Sweet®) and nearly all processed foods contain dangerous quantities of glutamate, aspartate, cysteine and related compounds. These excitotoxic drugs, added to foods, discharge nerve cells in the mouth to augment the sensation of flavor. Addictive Aspartame breaks down into carcinogenic, eye-destroying formaldehyde and deadly methyl alcohol.

The public long ago began to be aware of some of the risks of MSG; and so, to hide the deadly character of their products, food processing companies adopted a laundry list of innocent-sounding labels. Avoid all diet foods, diet drinks, and such products as Accent, autolyzed yeast, HVP, hydrolyzed or texturized vegetable protein -- especially bad because they contain three excitotoxins -- hydrolyzed plant protein, Kombu extract, Chinese seasoning, gourmet powder, RL50, broth, bouillon, caseinate, flavoring and natural flavoring. (It doesn't have to be labeled when it's in ice cream.) Any of these are even more dangerous when heated.

"Natural"? MSG is found in, e.g., tomatoes and mushrooms -- but at about 1,000th of the concentration used in food processing. Incredibly, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules permit processed foods to contain large amounts of MSG but be labeled "no MSG added."

(2) Eating one ounce of Olestra (Olean®)-containing chips daily for two weeks lowered vision-protective carotene levels by 50 percent.

The eye specialists could perhaps be excused for not knowing about how full spectrum light helps the eyes, and for not knowing that MSG- and aspartame-polluted foods and Olean promote macular degeneration. But both of them probably subscribe to JAMA and New England Journal of Medicine, and so they had no excuse for keeping quiet about kale, spinach and aspirin except their own financial self-interest. They were wrong to deprive their patients of that healing news and should be held responsible. Class-action lawyers might look into this.
Ophthalmologists may complain that telling patients these truths could put them out of business. But after cars replaced buggies, buggy-whip makers couldn't force people to buy buggy whips. They learned new trades, and so can those eye specialists.

Part II. A. Dr. Jonathan V. Wright's treatment. Dr. Wright said to take selenium, taurine, vitamin E and zinc. And put DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide, a solvent obtainable at health food stores and paint stores) on any part of the skin. The DMSO, which itself offers powerful healing features, is a necessary part of the procedure: it strongly increases absorption of these nutrients. Some patients of his recovered from macular degeneration using this therapy and have stayed clear of it for as long as four years. The method works better in some cases than others.

The quantities, written on a prescription form:
Zinc, preferably picolinate, 30 mg x 2 = 60 mg/day;* zinc is best absorbed when taken half an hour before breakfast; in a few, this timing may cause nausea. The eye contains more zinc than any other part of the body.
Vitamin E, 800 mg/day
Selenium, 500 micrograms/day
Taurine: 620 mg x 2 twice a day = 2+ grams/day. The label instructions say not to use this amino acid when taking aspirin or any product containing aspirin; take between meals or before a meal.
* Taking zinc supplement of this magnitude, you should have a red-blood-cell copper blood test ($40, not paid by insurance) every two months; and 500 mcg of selenium daily cannot continue for a long time.

Full-spectrum light is also effective against seasonal depression ("SAD"). Nonseasonal depression benefits too, but not as much. It has other major health benefits including reduction of tooth decay. It has also greatly improved behavior of previously UV-deprived children. For full-spectrum light fixtures, consult www.ottbiolight.com. Cheaper equipment is inferior.

Vitamin D and calcium. Arthur A. Knapp, MD, used 50,000 units of vitamin D and one gram of calcium on intermittent days. These helped against eye conditions including myopia, keratoconus, cataract, optic nerve atrophy and retinitis pigmentosa.

A related problem affects people with asthma. Inhaled steroids, intended to block or reduce inflammation, were long claimed not to circulate throughout the body. Yet for many older patients they promote glaucoma, the leading cause of blindness in the population. The risk appeared to be elevated by 44 percent compared to matched patients not using inhaled steroids. Lea Davies of Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC, adds that inhaled steroids may cause about one-third of the 3,000 glaucoma cases developing each year among Americans over 65. Inhaled steroids reduce bone density in the spines of women with asthma. The greater the cumulative dose of inhaled steroids, the greater the reduction in bone mineral density of the spine in women.

"The drugs commonly used in the treatment of allergic conditions, including asthma, have many potentially harmful and dangerous side effects. These antihistamines, steroid hormones, or xanthine derivatives have side effects that may be merely annoying to a child but in many instances are dangerous. For example, steroid treatment of asthmatic children has been demonstrated to retard lung maturation and physical growth and to cause a higher incidence of cataracts in children receiving long-term steroid therapy."

 

 
 
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