Here is a perfect example of “it’s never too early to start taking care of your health.” In some pretty startling news, a new study out of Germany showed that an early form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) can occur in people as young as 35.
A quick refresher: AMD is a devastating illness caused by damage to the cells in the central retina. This leads to a loss of sharpness of vision and, in some cases, blindness. Researchers were shocked to find 4 percent of the subjects aged 35 to 44 in the study were suffering from AMD.
Usually signs of macular degeneration start to appear in people in their 50s and older. It’s definitely not something I regularly ask my younger patients to get tested for. But I certainly will now. (Yes, unlike so many doctors who think they know it all, I’m actually willing to admit when I learn something new. Especially when it can benefit my patients.)
AMD is the most common cause of visual impairment and blindness in industrialized countries. Yet mainstream medicine has nothing to offer for it. In fact, nutrients are the only thing that can help AMD. (Well, that and wearing polarized sunglasses at all times—even on cloudy days and in winter. I wear them all the time and recommend all my patients do the same.)
Of course, even though supplementation is the only true alternative here, the German researchers didn’t recommend it. Typical.
But I DO recommend it. And based on this research, the sooner you start, the better. I outlined my protocol for protecting your vision from macular degeneration back in the June 2013 issue of my print newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives. Subscribers can download and view this issue for free on my website, (and if you’re not a subscriber, now is the perfect time to sign up!)
But in the meantime, here’s a quick summary of the nutrients you should be taking to protect your eyes.
- beta carotene (in its natural form, with all of the carotenoid complexes)
- vitamin A
- vitamin C
- vitamin E
At my office, I have a great intravenous vitamin drip that I use specifically for macular degeneration. It contains many of the supplements above along with a hefty dose of the antioxidant glutathione and the amino acid taurine, which, in another study, was shown to work well in AMD.
My patients have had tremendous results with this IV therapy. But this approach isn’t exclusive to my clinic. So it should be relatively easy to find a holistic practitioner near you who offers a similar treatment for macular degeneration. The American College for Advancement in Medicine (www.acam.org) can help you to locate an experienced doctor in your area.
Although it’s a bit of a shock to hear AMD affects people in their 30s and 40s, it’s also a good wake-up call to do something about it, starting NOW—no matter how old you are. Perhaps if people start screened earlier—and taking the appropriate actions (like taking supplements and wearing polarized sunglasses)—we can stop this devastating disease before it starts.
The staggering cost of overmedicating mild hypertension
Speaking of eyes… I came across a new study recently that made me put on my reading glasses just so I could be sure I wasn’t seeing things.
The study, published in the prestigious British Medical Journal, confirmed something I’ve talked about before: current screening guidelines lead to overdiagnosis of hypertension and heart disease, which, at a mild level, may not even be detrimental to a person’s health.
The study also suggests that hypertension is routinely over-treated. The researchers noted that 40 percent of adults in the world have hypertension. But more than half of them are classified as having a “mild” form. Which means they don’t technically have cardiovascular disease—and are actually at low risk for it.
Yet—and here’s where I’m not surprised—more than half of folks with mild hypertension are being treated with blood pressure-lowering drugs. Even though there is no research proving that these drugs help in mild cases.
This over-medication costs (are you sitting down?) $32 billion a year—in the U.S. alone. And that figure only takes the financial cost into account. When you consider the side effects that come with these drugs, the toll is much, much higher.
Too many people are medicated to the point where they suffer from fatigue, memory dysfunction, and an overall malaise. I’ve seen patients on four or five different blood pressure medications simply to reach that “magic” number of 120/70. Yet, they could hardly move. There has to be a balance.
Surprisingly, these researchers agree with me. They concluded that treatment for mild hypertension needs to move away from a heavy drug emphasis.
Unfortunately, that’s very wishful thinking, given the unmitigated power and control the big drug companies have.
So it’s no wonder this studies found that many docs skip right to the drug prescribing without recommending lifestyle modifications. And we’re talking simple things—like drinking less alcohol, eating better, and getting exercise — all of which are proven to have a positive effect on mild hypertension. I’ve seen the effects these simple strategies can have first-hand in my patients. And I detailed a few others back in the October 2012 issue of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter. If you’ve got mild hypertension (120/90 to 140/90, according to the American Medical Association) be sure to check these tips out before resorting to a drug.
If it turns out you DO need medication to lower your blood pressure, be careful about which kind you take. I always caution my patients against beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics. Beta-blockers can cause breathing problems and weight gain. Calcium channel blockers have been linked to breast cancer. And diuretics can deplete all the healthy minerals in your body. Risks that are hardly worth the “trade off.”
On the very rare occasion that I do prescribe a blood pressure medication, I almost always start with one of the angiotensin receptor blockers (or ARBs). I’ve found these to be the safest and best tolerated of all the hypertension drugs.
But, really, I almost never dole out one of these prescriptions. Because the vast majority of my patients–even the ones who come in with dangerously high blood pressure–never need them.
“Prevalence of age-related macular degeneration in a large European cohort: Results from the population-based Gutenberg Health Study.” Graefe’s Archive for Clinical and Experimental Ophthalmology 2014; 252(9):1403-11.
“Age-related macular degeneration occurs much earlier than previously assumed,” ScienceDaily, 7/21/14 (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140721100125.htm)
“Mild Hypertension in People at Low Risk,” BMJ 2014;349: g5432