I hear television and radio ads for testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) advertisements several times per day. I have to admit, the payoff for increased levels seems tempting; increased energy, increased libido, decreased fat, increase in muscle, etc. Who wouldn’t want all the aforementioned? Plus, one can get TRT via skin patches, IV’s, injections, or creams. Intuitively, I don’t think messing around with hormones in healthy people is a good thing-the topic hasn’t been studied enough. I spoke to a couple of doctors who use TRT for some patients for their views. While TRT works well in some patients with heart and adrenal gland issues, they both agree that TRT is tricky; that is, knowing how much of a dose to administer. Excess testosterone can cause numerous negative side effects: 1). Fluid retention in the feet and ankles-those with congestive heart disease should NOT take it. 2). Testosterone can be toxic to the liver if taken orally. 3). Fertility problems-supplementing TRT will cause the testes to stop producing on their own. 4). Sleep apnea-if a person has sleep apnea, increased testosterone can exacerbate the condition. 5). Tender breasts or enlargement of breasts (man boobs). Excess testosterone is converted to estrogen, and breast tissue ┬áin both sexes is very sensitive to estrogen. 6). Increased red blood cell concentration-increased thickness of blood, which can increase heart attacks, strokes, or peripheral clotting. 7). Prostate growth-the prostrate may increase in size, causing urination issues. Also, anyone with prostate or breast cancer is NOT a candidate for TRT. I don’t plan on trying TRT.

Most of us probably know about which vitamins and minerals our bodies require to prevent deficiencies. However, most of us don’t know about choline. It’s dietary intake levels were not established until 1998, and since, evidence is accumulating on choline’s role in human health. Choline has a number of important functions; it helps make phospholipids, which are components of all human cells. It is also an intermediate compound for a neurotransmitter involved with muscle control and memory. Choline deficiency results in fatty liver disease. Choline also is protective against coronary artery disease, and increase intake during pregnancy is associated with a decrease in defects in the brain and spinal cord. Choline is abundant in the diet, if you eat health. Good sources are beef liver, wheat germ, eggs, cod, salmon, shrimp, broccoli and brussels sprouts, milk, and peanut butter.

An article in the Wall Street Journal (4/3/12) on Chinese medicine caught my attention. Scientists are touting the benefits of a four-herb combination, discovered by Chinese herbalists some 1800 years ago, which enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy in patients with colon cancer (my father died from colon cancer, so when I see prevention/treatment options, my eyes perk up). The mixture, known in China as huang qin tang, has been shown to reduce some of the side effects of chemo, including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. The herbs also seemed to restore intestinal cells faster than when chemo was used alone. Many conventional medicines are derived from chemical agents found in plants. Some of nature’s drugs under study: 1). Frankincense (Boswellia serrata) reduces inflammation. It’s being studied to reduce tumor growth and brain swelling in patients with gliomas. 2). Rose laurel (Nerium oleander) reduces inflammation and modulates the immune system. It’s being used with chemotherapy drugs to treat non-small-cell lung cancer. 3). Garden heliotrope) has sedating effects. It’s being used to improve sleep in cancer patients undergoing treatment. 4). St John’s wort (hypericum perforatum) has analgesic, sedative, and anti-depressant effects. It’s being studied to reduce hot flashes in postmenopausal women with breast cancer. Nature makes great stuff…

Green tea has many beneficial properties; it fights cancer, protects against heart disease, burns fat, and lowers LDL cholesterol. Now, a new study from Lund University in Sweden, found that drinking green tea with a meal increases satiety, or a feeling of fullness. Bottom line, you eat less.

I know it’s been a while since my last blog. My son’s computer hard drive died, so we agreed to ‘share’ my computer. In other words, Alex had my computer. But, his is fixed, and I’m up and running again. Up next, the immune system.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.