Dr. R. L. Wysong
November 1998

Dear Friend:
    This is a boring, thankless job.  It’s boring because the better I do it, the more of nothing happens.   My objective is to prevent you, your family and your companion animals from getting disease - but if I accomplish this and nothing happens to you and life just goes on as normal - that’s seemingly a pretty boring result.  It’s thankless because how do I get credit for what doesn’t occur?
    I am convinced, and the facts irrefutably prove, that if you follow the various guidelines discussed continually in the Health Letter you will greatly decrease the risk of disease.  Literally millions of people and animals could be spared from disease, and the dehumanizing and disfiguring treatments the patient is subjected to, which are often worse than the disease itself.
    This is no boast, and I am not looking for a Nobel prize.  It’s just the reality of the situation.  It requires constant mental assurance for me to get excited about what I do.  This assurance comes from study and research which proves beyond a doubt that prevention – making nothing happen – is the most important thing any of us can do.
    You are in the same position that I am.  If nothing remarkable is happening to you and you are jumping through all the health hoops you should, doubt can creep in.  Why go to the bother if nothing is happening?  Why exercise?  Why harp at the kids about eating right?  Why eschew all the tasty confectionery morsels that can send our taste buds flipping in cartwheels?  Why subject ourselves to the derision of the majority who think we’re weird or going overboard by trying to detoxify the home, recycle, get plenty of sunlight and fresh air, and convert the diet to as much fresh, whole, natural foods as possible?
    Once something happens and you lose your health, then it may be too late.  The time to act is now.  Remember: health is everything, for without it life will lose all meaning and purpose.  To stay on the right track, fear disease.  Additionally, continue to feed your mind with the knowledge - and from that the conviction - that what you are doing is right, even though it may appear you are doing nothing.
    It’s not an easy cause-effect thing, however.  It is very mental, philosophical, intellectual, and depends on wisdom, self-discipline, and self-management.
    The reward is life in its healthy fullness.  What better prize could there be?
Preventing Cancer with Selenium
    I don’t like to focus on individual nutrients and that is never the purpose of featuring them in the Health Letter.  But in order to obtain any sort of clear research result, scientists must concentrate on individual nutritional elements. It's just too complicated otherwise. There are so many variables and confounding factors when multiple elements are studied that the results are never clear, so isolating nutrients is critical.
    I have talked about the role of selenium in cancer prevention before, but an update and a reminder are in order.  The bottom line is that compelling research now demonstrates that appropriate levels of selenium in the diet, by way of food or supplements, can decrease death rates by as much as 50%.  That’s no small thing since it would mean saving millions of people from this dreaded disease and the debilitating and dehumanizing treatments.
    Although the role of selenium as a worthy anticancer agent has been known since 1965, it has not received the attention and support it should.  After all, it's not a patented drug with the potential to make pharmaceutical companies gadzillions of dollars.     Institutions that should bring such an important finding to the public – such as the press and the medical community – have proven themselves to be only mindless vessels of conventionalism or “yes men” to the pharmaceutical industry.
    Selenium protects against cancer by helping to generate glutathione, which quenches potent free radical compounds such as hydrogen peroxide.  It also helps stimulate the repair of DNA molecules and initiates apoptosis (the death cycle) of cancer cells before they replicate out of control.
    Proof of the effect of selenium on cancer is both epidemiological and evidenced by way of controlled scientific studies.   China is a good location to study the effects of selenium on cancer since there are areas of the country in which the soil  is extremely selenium-deficient, other areas that have moderate levels, and yet other areas with high levels.  What has been found epidemiologically by studying populations within these areas is that there is a ratio of approximately 3:2:1, with the highest incidence of cancer being related to the low soil selenium levels, and the lowest levels of cancer related to the high soil selenium. 
    Also, in studies where individuals at high risk for cancer were either given selenium supplements or were not, there was a reduction in cancer incidence and death rate of almost 50% in the supplemented group.  These are good studies and the chance of the results being just coincidence is less than 1 in 3,000.
    In a study that wasn’t supposed to be terminated until 1998, reduction in the selenium group for prostate cancer was 63%, 58% for colon cancer and 45% for lung cancer.  The results were so dramatic that the study was terminated in 1996 because it was considered to be unfair to continue to have the control group receive no selenium.
    By converting the diet to fresh, whole, raw foods and eating variety, particularly foods that are harvested from various locations and organic when possible, selenium levels will be increased.  As extra insurance it is wise to take a multiple vitamin/mineral formulation which contains 200 mcg of organically bound selenium, such as is found in the Wysong Optimal™ formulation.
        Journal of the American Medical Association, December 25, 1996
Lutein for Macular Degeneration
    Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a serious threat to sight.  The macula is a section of the retina of the eye that  is very important to visual acuity.  For as yet unknown reasons, this important section of the retina can undergo degeneration with age.
    What is known, however, is that there is a loss of pigments in the macula associated with this disease.  Those who have the disease have about 30% less pigment than those who do not.  It is postulated that this loss in pigment may permit the penetration of damaging short wavelength light to vulnerable tissues, thus triggering this degenerative condition.
Research has shown, however, that lutein, zeaxanthin and perhaps other pigments in dark colored fruits and vegetables can increase pigmentation in the macula and thus help prevent this disease.  In one study the optical density in the macula increased by almost 40% when subjects were given a supplement containing lutein.  Results were seen in as early as three weeks into the study.
    Lutein belongs to the carotenoid family of pigments and is particularly rich in dark green vegetables such as spinach, kale and collard greens.  Certainly increasing the consumption of these vegetables will help prevent and perhaps retard the progression of macular degeneration.   Supplemental lutein is another option and is available in the Nutrient Support Formula, Opthid™.
        Exp Eye Res, 1997;65:57-62
Probiotics and Allergies
    The most common misconception about allergies is that they are caused by allergens.  To say an allergy is caused by corn or ragweed or cat dander is like saying a heart attack is caused by exercise, obesity is caused by eating too much or elderly hip fractures are caused by falls.  Heart attacks are caused by years of improper eating and life-style habits, obesity is caused by eating the wrong foods, and elderly hip fractures are caused by eating and life-style errors leading to osteoporosis.
    Although allergens may be the precipitating event that causes an   allergic manifestation, the underlying problem is a compromised, weakened and out-of-balance immune system as a result of food and life-style mismanagement.
    For example, modern food choices are increasingly limited, removing variety from the diet.  Even though we may eat different forms of food, food processors are usually just shaping the same ingredients into different cosmetic packages.
    Such foods are eaten day in and day out without relief, resulting in antigenic overload.  The same can be true of the substances that come in contact with our skin and those which we breathe in our synthetic, air conditioned and polluted world.
    In our archetypal setting, food variety would come naturally, as cycles of food abundance and scarcity determined what we ate.  Additionally, life outdoors would naturally create a more dilute, pure, varied and natural context.
    We are adapted to the natural world and to natural raw foods exactly as found in nature.  True, all of these elements are potential allergens, but eons of adaptation have resulted in tolerance.   If this were not true, all of our ancestors would have long ago succumbed to life-threatening allergic reactions.  If this had occurred  and our ancestors were culled out from these reactions, we would not exist today.
    So allergy to our natural world is not a natural phenomenon.  When it does occur it is a result of an immune system that has been damaged or compromised in some way by modern living habits.
    Even the microbial balances that exist in our digestive tract are important in this regard.  The constant consumption of dead, devitalized, processed foods and the use of various drugs and antibiotics can result in a disbiosis, an imbalance of microflora in the digestive tract.   The bad guys, the pathogens, can overtake in numbers the good guys, the probiotic organisms, and result in susceptibility to a variety of diseases as well as a compromised immune system. 
    Don’t underestimate the importance of this digestive microbial balance.  As much as 50% of the dry weight basis of the stool consists of microorganisms.  There are, in fact, more microorganisms in our digestive tract than there are total cells in our entire body.
    Studies have shown that probiotic organisms such as lactobacillus, bifidobacteria and certain strains of streptococcus and others help prevent permeability defects in the gut.  In addition, they support controlled antigen absorption, and promote various important immune functions such as enhancement of interferon-gamma which has been shown to inhibit tumor necrosis factor-alpha release from intestinal mucosal mast cells, as well as to reduce hypersensitivity and inflammatory intestinal reactions.  Additionally, probiotics can ferment certain types of fiber, particularly of the soluble type, to produce short-chain volatile fatty acids such as butyric and propionic acids.  These decrease the pH thus inhibiting pathogen growth; and feed colonocites, the cells lining the colon, thus enhancing their health and resistance to the penetration of potential allergens.
    When allergy strikes, the primary objective is not to identify the allergen.  Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent every year attempting to test/identify allergens and to suppress allergic reactions.  The cause of allergy is a departure from healthy balance.       Making proper food choices emphasizing fresh, whole, raw, natural foods, in combination with judicious supplementation, can be of great benefit.
    Raw foods can help implant probiotic organisms in the digestive tract and provide the appropriate fuel for their growth.  Additionally, supplements such as Probiosyn™ help provide a variety of probiotic organisms as well as prebiotic oligosaccharides, which support their selective growth in the intestinal tract.  Additionally, the entire spectrum of Foundation Formulas, particularly the essential fatty acids, are very beneficial to build the health of the immune system and resist allergic reactions.  Also, Immulyn™ contains a range of nutrients to help stimulate and strengthen a variety of elements in the immune system.
        Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 1979;99:179-185
Mind Over Matter
Here is recent evidence demonstrating that we must not underestimate the effect of the mind in health and healing:
    1)             Studies in which athletes were tested for optimism or pessimism before a season demonstrated that optimists perform better.
    2)             51 men recovering from coronary bypass surgery were given psychological tests prior to and following surgery.   Compared to the pessimists, the optimists showed better electrocardiogram scores, began walking earlier, returned to sexual activity sooner, began vigorous physical activity sooner and restored overall quality of life sooner.
    3)             When measuring immune cells, such as T-lymphocytes and natural killer cells, it was found that the accumulation of even relatively minor life stresses depressed immune capabilities.
    4)             If following an infection there is psychological stress, there is an increased risk of post-infectious fatigue syndrome and delayed physical recovery.
    5)             86 patients who had metastatic breast cancer were divided into two groups.  One group received routine cancer therapy, the other received the same therapy but also participated in a once weekly facilitated support group.  The mean survival in the therapy-only group was 18.9 months versus 36.6 months in those who also participated in the support group.  After ten years of follow up, only three patients had survived and all three were from the support group cohort.
    6)          Personality traits and beliefs were evaluated in 32,000 people who had no evidence of any serious degenerative disease, including cancer.  These individuals were then followed over the next 17 years.   During that time, 396 cancers developed.  When the cancer was correlated with the psychological tests it was found that 347 of the 396 who developed the cancer were in the depression category.  Depression was characterized by the inability to express emotion and the inability to cope with stress leaving them feeling helpless and hopeless.   A world view of this cancer-prone group included the belief that unhappiness was the result of abandonment, and that happiness depends on unattainable love.
    7)  Cancer  therapy, including surgery and adjuvant chemotherapy, can have serious biochemical/physiological side effects.  But aside from this the stress of the surgery and of the adjuvant therapy itself can negatively impact immune competency.  For example, in a study of 116 patients who had undergone cancer therapy, decreased natural killer cell activity (lysis) was measurable.
    When I was young and immortal and I heard discussions of stress I didn’t know what the people were talking about.   A young body and mind (not very full yet) are extremely resilient physically and psychologically.
    But as time has gone on, I can definitely feel a very profound physical response to stress.  If the stress is severe enough, I can pretty much plan on illness following.
    In all instances, health-threatening stress is related to situations in which we feel helpless, hopeless or victimized.  Until we work out – in our mind and in our life circumstances – means by which we can control the situation, the stress continues and health is in jeopardy.
    Don’t underestimate the importance of arranging your life in such a way that you are in control of your own destiny as much as it is possible to do so.  Your health success will very much depend upon the degree to which you accomplish this goal.
        Psychology Sci., 1990;1;2:143-146
        J Per Soc Psychol, December 1989;57;5:1024-40
        Psychosom Med, May 1994;56;3:216-24
        Psychol Med, August 1994;24;3:651-59
        Lancet, October 14, 1989;2:888-91
        Percept Motor Skills, August 1990;71:216-18
        J Nat Cancer Inst, Jan 7, 1998;90:30-36
St. John's Wort for Depression
    Numerous studies have now demonstrated the effectiveness of St. John’s Wort in depression.  At usual doses the herb is as effective as pharmaceutical antidepressants, and at higher doses it may even relieve severe depression.
    St. John’s Wort is particularly attractive as an antidepressant because it is virtually without side effect in contrast to commonly used drugs.  However, there are potential interactions between St. John’s Wort and existing antidepressant medications, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors and drugs that affect the brain chemical serotonin. 
    These problems can be serious and the combination of St. John’s Wort with pharmaceuticals should only be done under careful medical supervision.
    The Nutrient Support Formula, Vivreis™, contains St. John's Wort along with other synergistic nutrients to enhance mood, sense of well-being, and mental energy.
        Townsend Letter, September 1998;27
Estrogen Causes Cancer
    Harvard researchers have reviewed the medical literature and found a positive relationship between hormone replacement estrogen therapy and risk of breast cancer.  Use the reference cited here to have your physician review the literature if he or she is recommending to you the use of estrogens for menopause.
    A safer alternative to the use of estrogens is topically applied natural progesterone and the natural plant phytoestrogens found in soy foods and the supplement Wysong Estrolog™.
        J Natl Cancer Inst, June 3, 1998;90
Boosting Immunity with Mushrooms
    For many centuries, perhaps millennia, the health benefits of mushrooms have been known.  It has taken until now for modern western man to appreciate their potential.
    The range of benefits is broad and impressive.  Various medicinal mushrooms have antiviral, hepato-protective effects, cardiovascular benefits, and most importantly they stimulate the immune system.
    The polysaccharide complexes in medicinal mushrooms increase lymphocyte production of interferon and interleukin-2, increase the proliferation of stimulated T-cells, increase total white cell counts, increase T-helper cell ratios and natural killer cell activity.
    The effects of medicinal mushrooms on the immune system are almost directly opposite of those of the immunosuppressive chemotherapeutic agents such as cyclophosphamide agents used in cancer therapy.
    Since healing can ultimately only come from activation of the immune system, not its depression, medicinal mushrooms could serve as an excellent cancer preventive as well as adjunct therapy if chemotherapy for cancer is being used.
    A variety of medicinal mushrooms is incorporated into the Nutritional Support Formula which is designed to “feed” the immune system, Immulyn™.
        Am J Urol, June 1998;159:2035-2040
Vitamin E for Stroke
    Antioxidant nutrients may not only help prevent cerebrovascular events (strokes), but may limit the damage if a stroke does occur. 
    Strokes occur when vessels have become “hardened” from atherosclerotic plaque, and rupture.  The pressure this creates on surrounding brain tissue is what causes the neurological damage.   There is the immediate damage from the hemorrhage and then there is the secondary damage from inflammation and free radical damage which, in effect, can spread the results.
    Research has now demonstrated that vitamin E supplementation, one of many very important antioxidant nutrients, can reduce the size of this spreading injury by as much as 50%.
    Vitamin E and the other antioxidant nutrients not only help prevent atherosclerotic disease resulting in stroke or heart attack, but can help moderate the damage if a vascular event does occur.   Wysong Spectrox™ and Food A•C•E™ are excellent sources of natural vitamin E, as well as a spectrum of other antioxidants which will supply appropriate levels of these important nutrients.
        Neurology, 1998;50:466-70
Vitamin D for Prostate Cancer
    Activated vitamin D is believed to be a safe and efficacious therapy for early recurrent prostate cancer.  Research has demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation will slow the rise of prostate specific antigen (PSA) after prostate cancer has been treated by other means.  The level of PSA is a relatively reliable marker of prostate cancer growth and, therefore, its decrease through the use of vitamin D may very well serve to inhibit cancer recurrence.
    To increase vitamin D get plenty of sunshine daily; eat fresh, whole, natural foods as described in the Optimal Health Program; and take well designed multiple vitamin/mineral supplementation containing vitamin D, such as in Wysong Optimal™.
        General Pharmacology 1998; 30: 1-4
Essential Oils as Antimicrobials
    Plants don’t have legs to run away from, or teeth to defend themselves from, attackers.  Instead they have developed complex chemical arsenals to fight microbial and insect foes.
    Many antibiotics are in fact nothing more than isolates of these antimicrobial chemicals.  For example, penicillin is derived from a mold.  But antimicrobial therapy does not necessarily just have to come from a high priced pharmaceutical company. 
    Research demonstrates that several essential oils such as oregano, thyme, rosewood, cinnamon and clove have potent antimicrobial activity.  For example, oregano has the ability to autolyze streptococcus pneumonia, an important bacteria causing lung and respiratory disease.   Oils of oregano, thyme and rosewood have also shown effectiveness against the pathogen E. coli in several species of fungi.
    These herbs/spices can be quite easily grown at home, or the essential oils purchased at most health stores.
        Townsend Letter, September 1998;22
Folic Acid and More Birth Defects
    Several years ago I reported that a deficiency in folic acid was linked to neural tube birth defects.  Since that time the research demonstrating this relationship has filtered its way into the medical community and even into the food processing industry where folic acid is now being used to fortify foods.
    This information was from preliminary results in a large double-blinded trial.  This trial is now complete but demonstrates that folic acid, which is commonly deficient in modern diets, is also linked to urinary tract and cardiovascular birth defects.  In addition, its deficiency can cause limb anomalies and congenital hypertrophic pyloric stenosis (narrowing of the outflow valve of the stomach).
    Eating the diet we are genetically adapted to will help prevent folic acid deficiency.  But certainly everyone should consider a multiple vitamin/mineral supplement (such as Wysong Optimal™) which incorporates folic acid since this nutrient is so commonly deficient.   Processed and cooked foods greatly diminish or entirely destroy it,  so we must be conscientious in seeking a reliable source.
        Eur. J. Obstet. Gyn. Reprod. Bil., 1998;78:151-161
Chitosan for Kidney Failure
    Chitosan is a natural polysaccharide derived from crustacean shells.  In the intestinal tract it has the ability to absorb metabolites such as uric acid and bile acids.  By a mechanism not fully understood, it can also reduce serum cholesterol.  Recently, in a study of 80 patients with renal failure, it was found to reduce urea and creatinine which are markers of kidney damage.  In those patients taking the chitosan compared to placebo controls, there was an increased feeling of well-being and physical strength and there were no adverse side effects.  Chitosan is one of the active ingredients in Nephurol™, which nutritionally targets the urinary system specifically.
        J Pharm Pharmacol 1997;49:721-723