Potassium the New Bone Builder

The great scourge of osteoporosis is in the minds of so many people. As we age,  most of the time calcium is the main target. In the natural health product world though, calcium is only the tip of the iceberg. The main point to keep in mind is that bones are made of more than just calcium, so you have to take a variety of minerals if you want to improve your bone density. Many of these minerals will be used in the connective tissue that supports the bones, but some of them will be helpful in other ways. In an article published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, potassium was found to help alkalinize the body and thus reduce bone loss related to diet and overall acidity.

For some people, the acidity of their diet leads to increased acidity of the urine and blood, which essentially leaches minerals from the body. If the body is more alkaline (less acidic), then the minerals stay in the bone more easily. Just like acidic foods can dissolve your teeth, acidic body fluids can pull minerals from bones.

For this particular study, the participants were given 60mEq  (roughly 6g) of potassium citrate per day. The researchers found that calcium lost in urine was decreased and bone mineral density improved among participants. That is quite impressive considering that the research on bisphosphonates, a common osteoporosis medication, is indicating that the harms may outweigh the benefits caused by these types of drugs.

Now before everyone goes running out to buy large stores of potassium citrate, keep in mind that there are other nutrients that are also showing promise in preventing bone mineral loss. Vitamin D has been shown to be helpful not only for bone growth, but also for mood and immune function. Vitamin K has been shown to help bone density as well as prevent excessive bleeding and lowering the risk of developing some cancers.

If you are wanting to increase the potassium in your diet keep in mind that many vegetables like potatoes, squash, and mushrooms have more potassium by weight than bananas and less sugars too. Also keep in mind that the study used high levels of potassium citrate to alkalinize the body, so it would be difficult to alkalinze the diet just by adding a mushroom or two a day.

Your best approach to maintaining your bone density will come from exercise, good eating habits, and a supplement routine that is tailored to you specifically.


What is Prolotherapy:
According to the American Academy of Osteopathic Medicine, Prolotherapy is a recognized orthopedic procedure that stimulates the body's natural healing processes to strengthen joints weakened by traumatic or over-use injury. Joints become loose and painful when ligaments and tendon attachments are stretched, torn, or fragmented. Traditional approaches with surgery and anti-inflammatory drugs often fail to stabilized the joint or relieve this pain permanently. Prolotherapy, with its unique ability to directly address the cause of the instability, can repair the weakened sites and produce new fibrous tissues, resulting in permanent stabilization of the joint.
Why get Prolotherapy:
Prolotherapy and its more expensive alternative platelet rich plasma injection, are the only non-surgical options for the treatment of pain from ligament or tendon laxity with joint instability. Studies have also show the effectiveness of Prolotherapy in the treatment of pain from some forms of osteoarthritis. Studies on male athletes with chronic groin pain showed dramatic reduction in pain experienced following an average of 3 treatments. Results of a 2005 research review found that Prolotherapy is effective for many musculoskeletal conditions.
What is involved:
Prolotherapy involves a precise injection of a mild irritant solution directly into the site of the damaged tendon or ligament. The solution creates a mild, controlled injury that stimulates the body's natural repair mechanisms to deposit new tissue on the unstable area. As the new tissue matures it tightens and strengthens the unstable and painful structures. Repeated therapy may be necessary to create sufficient new tissue to fully stabilize the weakened structure.
Does it hurt:
Any injection therapy causes some discomfort but many efforts are made to make it as comfortable as possible. The use of the numbing agent means that the discomfort is short lived. The solution injected does lead to a sensation similar to muscle strain for up to 3 days due to the healing process it activates. Individual pain thresholds will vary.
The primary thing to keep in mind is that the alternatives are immensely more painful. Short lived discomfort to prevent surgery or permanent pain is a small price to pay. Having had Prolotherapy done on myself, multiple times,  I can say that I am grateful for the benefit and would endure far worse for the relief it brought. 
For further information look at the following websites:

Energy Crisis: Understanding the causes of low energy

Its one thing to know that you are overworked and tired, but what really counts is knowing why and what can be done about it. For my patients I want to examine the following areas as cumulative factors that are contributing to their energy, or lack there of.


Here are a few questions to ask yourself about your sleep and what the answers indicate

Do you fall asleep easily?:

  • Yes:This may be a good sign, indicating that you have a healthy night routine that allows you to unwind at the end of the day and hit the pillow with minimal stressors keeping you awake. This may also indicate that you are so exhausted from the day that there is nothing that will keep you awake.
  • No: This may be a sign that your evening routine doesn't allow you to de-stress. Your cortisol is elevated late into the night and your brain just won't shut off. This is a situation that responds well botanical medicine and setting up a night routine.
  • Do you stay asleep?:

  • Yes: This is good, it indicates that your stress is not disrupting your sleep.
  • No: This may be an indicator that your stress is causing your cortisol to rise in the middle of the night, reducing your hours of REM sleep. It can also be caused by training yourself to be hyper vigilant at night, most commonly listening for the baby crying. In either case botanical medicine can be helpful as well as diet changes to help reduce blood sugar crashes while you sleep
  • Do you wake rested?

  • Yes: Well aren't you lucky.
  • No: This may be a sign that your sleep is too short, or that your adrenals aren't able to start in the morning as they should. Here nutrient supplements and diet changes are key, but botanical medicine can also be helpful.
  • Diet:

    These are some of the key questions that can indicate the dietary link to your energy levels.

    Do you find you have energy crashes at the same time most days?

  • Yes: This can be a blood sugar balance problem. Another indication that this is the case is if you don't have the energy crash on the weekends. This can be addressed by eating more regularly as well as specific nutrients and botanicals.
  • No: This is good, but consider what foods you are using to keep your energy up. If you are relying on many sugar hits consisting of simple carbohydrates or sugars then there is still work to be done.
  • Is your digestion consistent and symptom free?

  • Yes: Excellent, you will likely have a relatively balanced diet with foods that your body doesn't react to.
  • No: There may be a number of issues to work on here. There may be issues of foods that you are sensitive to, there may be dysbiosis, there may be insufficient water and fiber, and there may be a stress component that is decreasing your body's ability to digest the food it needs. In any case, supplemental nutrients will help in the short term to allow the body to repair and resume normal functioning.
  • Do you get energy crashes after some meals but not others?

  • Yes: This may be an indication that the meal was too rich and now your body must spend so much of its resources in digesting it, that you feel the energy drop. It may also be a sign that the meal was high in simple sugars and lacked the fiber, protein, and fats to allow for a smaller rise in blood sugar. It can also be a sign that your body's response to insulin is dysfunctional, which can be an early indicator for diabetes later on. Finally it can be a sign that your body is mounting an immune reaction to one or more of the foods in the meal. In any case, you will have to look more closely at what you eat and assess if that particular food is healthy for you.
  • No: Fantastic, one less thing to worry about.
  • Do you have trouble sustaining exercise or doing repeated sets of weight lifting?

  • Yes: Most commonly this is an indicator that you aren't getting enough calories or adequate macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and protein). It can also be a lack of sufficient micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), but this is less common.
  • No: If you are not exercising then this obviously doesn't count.
  • Mental function:

    This question relates generally to how stress impacts mental function.

    Is your thinking foggy like you aren't as quick mentally as you used to be.

  • Yes: There are many factors that can have this impact but the most common are drug side effects, sleep deprivation, and alcohol consumption. These can be helped with sleep, diet changes, nutrient supplementation, and botanical medicine. Some of these therapies only require short term treatment during times of peak stress, while others may require longer therapy.
  • No: This is great, but sometimes we aren't aware of how foggy we are until we try.
  • Immune function:

    Remember that your immune system uses a lot of energy and nutrients to fight off infections.

    Are you constantly getting sick?

  • Yes: Most commonly nutrition and stress are central to this problem. During cold and flu season supplementation can be very helpful in reducing the frequency and duration of infections which will mean your body won't burn as much energy on fighting infections. Even low grade infections have an impact, so don't just ignore it because the symptoms aren't too severe.
  • No: Excellent.
  • Hopefully these questions will be able to guide you toward the areas that will have the greatest impact on your energy levels. There are serious pathologies that can impact energy, so I would recommend discussing your energy with your health care provider, but most of the time it comes down to lifestyle factors. If you are an athlete then you have to be more critical of your energy, because you will not be able to get maximum training benefit by using Band-Aid approaches like coffee and sleeping pills.

    Recovery after the flu

    The habit that people should avoid is returning to regular activities as soon as the cold or flu starts to break. While this is tempting, you should keep in mind that your immune system has depleted resources following an infection and needs a little more time to restock. This means continue with the protocol for symptom management for at least 3 to 4 days after the symptoms have abated.

  • Restock your immune cofactors with lots of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin A, C, and E and zinc and selenium.
  • Rehydrate with vegetable soups and plain water.
  • Sleep as much as your body needs.
  • Maintain your avoidance of sugar and simple carbohydrates.
  • Maintain your immune support with botanicals and homeopathics.
  • It is really quite simple, but you have to stick to it or you're likely to slip up and find yourself with another infection.

    Proactive cold and flu management

    The best approach to managing your cold or flu is to support the immune system so that the symptoms are short lived and you can return to normal life more quickly. It is important to understand what your immune system is trying to do so that your efforts don't sabotage your own healing process.
    The most important thing to remember is in an emergency the rules change. This means that at some point you have to be ready to abandon the idea of supporting the body's natural healing process and stop it from hurting you in an effort to fight off the infection. The approach presented here is for the situations where the body is well within its healthy working limits. This means that if you are having your standard cold or flu symptoms then follow this approach, and if it feels worse than normal, consider professional guidance.

  • Feed your body the nutrients it needs. When your body starts fighting an infection it uses up the stores of minerals and vitamins that run your immune system, so you need to replenish the stores during and after an infection. Some of the nutrients that are key are vitamins A, B's, C, D, and E. Sound easy to remember? Some of the minerals you need to focus on are zinc, magnesium, and selenium.

  • Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar. I know people like their comfort food when they are sick, but refined carbohydrates and sugar decrease immune cell activity for hours. This creates an interesting dilemma with fruit juice because they contain a lot of simple sugars and relatively minimal vitamin or mineral content. While orange juice may contain vitamin C, so does broccoli, and broccoli doesn't have anywhere near the amount of sugar. We need to stay hydrated, but downing liters of sugar laden juice is not the answer for your average cold or flu. Soups are probably one of the best ways to stay hydrated, if they are made with vegetables, whole grains, and beans or meats. This means ichiban noodles aren't going to cut it.

  • Stay hydrated. As noted above, juices contain a lot of sugar and little nutrients whereas home made soups are a much better option. If you consider that fruit juice has as many calories per can as Coke or Pepsi you could be consuming around 500 calories of sugars alone just by having 1L of orange juice. That is 25% of your daily calories as sugar. This doesn't mean that orange juice is all bad, but don't fool yourself that you are doing a good thing by guzzling liters of juice.

  • SLEEP. Sleep is essential, so stay home from work and sleep if you are ill. By staying home you will decrease the chances of you passing on your infection to your coworkers and you will get over your infection faster.

  • Let your fever work, within reason. The body creates a fever because the immune cells operate better at higher temperatures. Therefore taking something to bring down the fever only slows your immune system down. Would you rather have 2 days of mild to moderate fever and be over your cold quickly or 2 weeks of mild, nagging symptoms that you have to constantly medicate? Fevers in very young children need to be monitored more closely it would be safer to consult your physician about what temperature is safe, but for adults anything under 103 Celcius is safe, unless there are underlying health conditions.

  • Take something to help your immune system. There are so many botanicals and homeopathics that are reported to help that it can be hard to decide which ones work. Personal preference will vary, but consult with your health care professional as to which one they feel helps most.

  • These suggestions are not meant to replace the sound advice of your health care professional, but they are a good starting point for helping your immune system fight off an infection.

    Preparations for flu season: Prevention

    When it comes to surviving the cold and flu season you need to look at prevention, symptom management, and recovery. Starting with prevention, consider the following in your efforts to say healthy and happy:

  • Wash your hands. Viruses are dealt with far better by hand washing than with alcohol sanitizers. Since the majority of colds and flus are viral, it is important to wash your hands regularly, especially before eating or rubbing your eyes.

  • Avoid putting objects or fingers in your mouth. If you have a habit of chewing on pens or pencils or finger nails this can be a source for exposure to pathogens. These habits take time to break, but they are not helpful in cold and flu season.

  • Avoid rubbing your eyes with unwashed hands. The membranes around your eyes are easy access points for pathogens because they are always moist, so don't rub them with dirty fingers

  • Avoid exposure to people who are cough, sneezing or otherwise appear to be sick. If you are sick, then save everyone else the trouble and stay home from work. The extra rest will help you recover faster and you will reduce the risk of spreading it to your productive coworkers.

  • Take a multivitamin. Your body requires nutrients to fight off infection, so you will want to replenish its stores of useful cofactors regularly. Even if you don't feel sick, your immune system is actively fighting off infections all the time.

  • Take an immune boosting herbal supplement. There are many options out there and I would leave it to your health care provider to let you know which is best for your situation. At the very least, drink fresh ginger tea regularly.

  • Take a probiotic periodically. Studies of infants have shown that probiotics can help reduce the frequency of colds. These beneficial bacteria help force out the bad strains that make you sick. It may be overkill to take these all the time, but if you know you have been exposed or are going to be exposed, it can help to take some for a few days.

  • Get a good nights sleep. Sleep is essential to good immune function, and without a restful nights sleep you will be more susceptible to infection.

  • If you feel you need it, get a flu shot. Bear in mind that the flu shot is based on viruses that were spread months ago and are estimates of what you might face during this flu season. Also keep in mind that the preservatives in vaccines are usually aluminum or mercury which are not helpful for brain function and may linger in the body for years. Be aware that a flu shot causes an immune response which temporarily consumes the immune resources leaving you vulnerable to infection. Finally, if you are already sick then you should wait until you are better before getting a flu shot.

  • If you can follow these recommendations, you will be well on your way to preventing many of the colds and flus that come your way.