The role of vitamin C in heart health (Pt. 2) 

The ‘Ultrafast Computed Tomography’ test 

The underlying problem in atherosclerosis is “the instability of the vascular wall, which triggers the development of atherosclerotic deposits.” (1)

Dr. Rath’s cellular health recommendations were put to the test using a new diagnostic technique known as ‘Ultrafast Computed Tomography’. UCT is a “Non-invasive test for coronary heart disease (that) measures the area and density of calcium deposits without the use of needles or radioactive dye.” High levels of accumulated calcium correlates with more advanced coronary heart disease.

Because it directly measures the deposits in the artery walls, UCT is the “most precise diagnostic technique available today to detect coronary heart disease already in its early stages, (and)…allows the detection of deposits in the coronary arteries long before a patients notices angina pectoris or other symptoms.” (1)

55 patients with different degrees of cardiovascular heart disease were studied, before and after Dr. Rath’s vitamin supplementation program. During the first six months of this study, the growth of coronary artery deposits was slowed down, and essentially stopped during the second six months.

This study was very significant because it measured for the first time how aggressive coronary heart disease progresses until eventually a heart attack occurs. It gave us invaluable information about the time it takes for a vitamin program to show a repair effect on the artery wall. This is remarkable taking into account that atherosclerotic deposits develop over many years or decades.

Without vitamin protection the coronary calcifications increased at a rapid rate, an average of 44% per year. Researches like this are a proof that a vitamin program, with the essential ingredients needed to start the natural healing process of the artery wall, are important.

According to the research of Dr. Rath, in patients with advanced coronary artery disease, a good supplement program can “stabilize the artery walls, halt the further growth of coronary deposits, reverse them, at least in part, and contribute to the prevention of heart attacks.” (1)

Clinical studies on vitamin supplementation 

Many clinical and epidemiological studies have documented the prevention of cardiovascular disease with vitamins. Dr. James Enstrom performed a government supported study showing that people who consumed at least 300 mg per day of vitamin C through their diet or in the form of supplements, could reduce their heart disease risk up to 50% in men and up to 40% in women. The same study showed that a higher intake of vitamin C was associated with an increased life expectancy of up to six years.

Dr. G.C. Willis did a study that showed how dietary vitamin C can reverse atherosclerosis. In this study, the patients that had received 1.5 grams of vitamin C per day for one year showed a 30% reduction of symptoms. The group of patients who had not received any vitamin C supplementation clearly had deposits that stayed the same or increased.

Optimum dietary intake of vitamin E, beta-carotene and other essential nutrients also significantly reduced cardio vascular disease risk in extensively documented researches: 200 IU of vitamin E per day was shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks by 34%, compared to the average intake of just 3 in the American population. What is more, 400-800 IU of vitamin E showed a reduction of 47% in non-fatal heart attacks. Similarly, just 50 mg per day of beta carotene was also shown to significantly decrease cardiovascular disease risk.

Another study showed that adequate levels of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid helped in lowering homocysteine levels and the risk of coronary heart disease.

A large scale study conducted by Dr. Sudhir Kurl and his colleagues at the University of Kuopio in Finland showed that optimum vitamin C intake is the single most important factor for preventing strokes in high blood pressure patients. This study was done over a 10 year period with more than 2,400 patients who were overweight and suffered from high blood pressure. This study showed that low levels of vitamin C increased the risk for a stroke by almost threefold.

In another 20-year study involving more than 2,000 patients over two decades, Dr. Tetsuji Yokoyama and his colleagues from the University of Tokyo in Japan showed that optimum vitamin C intake is the single most important factor for preventing all forms of strokes in men and women.

Dr. Rath’s cellular health recommendations for patients with coronary heart disease 

For patients with existing coronary heart disease or a high risk for this condition Dr. Rath’s recommendations consist on the following cellular micronutrients in high doses:

Vitamin C: Provides protection and assists in healing the artery wall and helps reverse plaques

Vitamin E: Antioxidant protection

Vitamin D: Optimizes calcium metabolism and the reversal of calcium deposits in the artery wall

Folic acid: Provides a protective function against increased homocysteine levels together with B6, vitamin b12 and biotin

Biotin: Provides a protective function against increased homocysteine levels together with vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid

Copper: Supports stability of the artery wall with the improved cross-linking of collagen molecules

Proline: Supports collagen production, stability of the artery wall and reversal of plaques

Lysine: Supports collagen production, stability of the artery wall and reversal of plaques

Chondroiton sulfate: Supports the stability of the artery wall as a ‘cement’ for connective tissue

N-acetyl-glucosamine: Supports the stability of the artery wall as a cement for connective tissue

Pycnogenol: Acts as a biocatalyst for better vitamin C function and improved stability of the artery wall

The proof: vitamin C deficiency causes atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease 

To prove this Dr. Rath conducted an experiment with guinea pigs, which are one of the few animals in the animal kingdom that are unable to manufacture vitamin C. Two groups of guinea pigs received exactly the same daily amounts of cholesterol, fats, proteins, sugars, salt, etc, except vitamin C. Group B received 60 mg of vitamin C per day, compared to human body weight. Group A received 5,000 mg of vitamin C per day. After only 5 weeks the vitamin C deficient animal in group B developed atherosclerotic deposits particularly in the areas close to the heart. The aortas of the animals in group A remained healthy and did not show any deposits, showing an intact cell barrier between the bloodstream and artery wall. The arteries of the vitamin C deficient animals lost the protection and stability of their arteries showing a fragmented collagen structure.

Another confirmation of the vitamin C-cardiovascular disease connection was published by a research team from the University of N. Carolina in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ in 2000. Researchers examined the arteries of normal mice and found they did not have atherosclerosis, which is expected because these animals make their own vitamin C. These researchers then shut down the gene that is responsible for converting glucose into vitamin C in the livers of these animals. They also changed their diets where the animals did not receive any vitamin C. As a result, the animals developed lesions and cracks, and cholesterol levels rose in order to repair the artery wall weaknesses caused by weakened arteries. According to Dr. Rath, this experiment confirmed two important facts in coronary artery disease:

  1. Vitamin C deficiency is a primary cause of heart disease
  2. High cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, but the consequence

A new understanding of the nature of heart disease 

With these experiments, Dr. Rath redefines heart disease as a vitamin deficiency condition. In this light, lesions are considered the end result of an instability and dysfunction of the blood vessel wall caused by chronic vitamin deficiency that leads to millions of small lesions and cracks in the artery walls. This is especially the case of the coronary arteries because of the constant pumping of the heart.

Once the weakness in the artery walls starts, repair is initiated by cholesterol and other repair factors that are produced in the liver, and transported in the bloodstream to the artery walls. This repair mechanism is an ongoing process that compensates the unavailability of vitamin C in the diet.

The natural reversal of cardiovascular disease 

Dr. Rath has observed that “around the core of the plaque, a local ‘tumor’ forms from muscle cells typical in the artery wall” (1). This muscle cell tumor is another way in which the body stabilizes the vitamin deprived artery wall. The deposit of lipoproteins from the bloodstream and the muscle cell tumor in the artery wall are the most important factors that determine the size of the plaque and thereby the progression of coronary heart disease.

The main idea behind reversing atherosclerosis is to start the healing process in the artery wall that has been weakened by chronic vitamin deficiencies. Besides vitamin C, which stimulates production of collagen molecules, other nutrients that Dr. Rath recommends for optimum collagen production are lysine, proline, vitamin E (to halt the cell overgrowth around plaque), beta-carotene and selenium (for anti-oxidant protection of the artery wall).

Dr. Rath explains that for a protocol to work it has to support optimum collagen production. “The collagen molecules in our bodies are proteins composed of amino acids. Collagen molecules differ from all other proteins in the body in that they make particular use of the amino acids lysine and proline”. Thus, together with vitamin C the arteries need proline, and lysine for the optimum regeneration of the connective tissue in the artery walls, and therefore the natural healing of cardiovascular disease.

With an optimum supply of essential nutrients the smooth muscle cells of artery wall produce sufficient amounts of functional collagen guaranteeing optimum stability of the wall. On the contrary, vitamin deficiency leads to the production of faulty and dysfunctional collagen molecules by the arterial muscle cells. These muscle cells multiply to form an atherosclerotic tumor. Vitamin C and E can inhibit the growth of this atherosclerotic tumor.

How the “Heart and Body Extract” can help your heart 

Each of the ingredients in the “Heart and Body Extract” has been carefully selected to optimize heart function. Let us look at each ingredient individually.

Cayenne has been described by some herbalists and physicians as the catalyst herb, because it increases the effectiveness of other herbs. Cayenne is considered the most useful and valuable herb in the herb kingdom, not only for the heart and circulatory system, but also for the entire digestive system. It is a very high source of Vitamins A, C and the complete B complex while being rich in organic calcium and potassium, which is one of the reasons it has been suggested for the heart. It also helps in the absorption of vitamins and prescription medicines.

In addition to its ability to stimulate the circulatory and digestive systems, it has a tonic and antiseptic affect, increasing perspiration, thus eliminating toxins through the skin.

Cayenne is helpful in stopping heart attacks, regulating blood pressure, and nourishing the heart cells. Also, the herb has been found useful for providing protection to the stomach lining from aspirin. (2)

Garlic has been extensively researched for heart disease. It has been found very helpful for lowering cholesterol, and numerous large studies have shown that taking supplements that mimic fresh garlic can significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels without hurting beneficial HDL cholesterol levels. Garlic appears to do this by blocking the liver from making too much LDL cholesterol.

There is also some suggestion that garlic can help in lowering blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels. Researchers are finding that it can help to prevent blood clots and therefore reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. (3)

Hawthorne is high in vitamin C, pectin and other substances. Therefore, it is primarily used to treat the heart’s blood vessels. It has been shown to have a mild but positive effect blood circulation. Hawthorn is thought to be particularly useful in the early stages of heart failure, such as heart failure followed by respiratory ailments and poor peripheral circulation and tendency to develop edema. In these cases, hawthorn can be used with supplemental coenzyme Q10. Hawthorn may delay the development of more serious heart disease and delay the need for stronger heart medications. Several double blind tests have shown that patients with early stages of cardiovascular disorders have increased physical endurance and improved cardiac function (as measured by ECG) after using standardized hawthorn extracts for few weeks. Hawthorne is thought to promote blood flow in the vessels around the heart, increase metabolism in the heart muscle, making the heart work more efficiently and to increase cardiac muscle tolerance due to lack of oxygen.

In cases of decreased ability to pump enough blood, usually caused by prolonged high blood pressure, previous heart attacks, diseases related to the heart valves or heart muscle, or chronic lung diseases such as asthma or emphysema, hawthorne is thought to help with the general weakness, fatigue and shortness of breath common to heart failure.

Hawthorn is also believed to improve circulation in the arms and legs by reducing resistance in the arteries. This is partly due to its ability to inhibit a substance in the body known as ‘angiotensin-converting enzyme’ (ACE). ACE is related to the formation of angiotensin II, a substance that has strong astringent effect on the blood vessels.

Hawthorn has sometimes been used to normalize blood pressure, not only to treat high blood pressure but to increase blood pressure that is too low. The herb can be prescribed in order to slightly elevate blood pressure and to treat cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), especially in the elderly. It may also be used as a treatment for hypertension caused by arteriosclerosis, or kidney disease. In addition, hawthorn has a secondary action as a diuretic, a common symptom of heart failure.

Hawthorn can be used to treat or prevent ‘angina pectoris’, the chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle does not receive enough oxygen. A study conducted in 1983 showed the applicability of hawthorn extract to treat patients with this condition. 60 patients were given either 180 mg extract or placebo daily for three weeks. The patients who took hawthorn could train for longer periods without suffering from angina attacks. ECGs showed better blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart in these patients than in those receiving a placebo.

Hawthorn can be used together with garlic as a remedy for angina and reduced blood circulation. Coenzyme Q10 can also be used with hawthorn.

Hawthorn acts by dilating the blood vessels and helping improve blood transport to all parts of the body.

The herb also seems to have dampening effect on atherosclerosis, and it can be useful for people who struggle with confusion and poor memory caused by reduced blood supply to the brain.

Since hawthorn is believed to have a good effect on the capillaries in the body, it may be useful for those who bruise easily. However, the herb has to be used for at least 3-4 weeks before any reduction in the formation of bruises can be seen. (4)

Coleus forskohlii is a popular herb for angina. It increases stroke volume, which is the amount of blood pumped in each heart beat, and reduces the risk of blood clots. In addition, the herb lowers high blood pressure by relaxing the arterial walls.

Indian and Chinese studies in the last two years have isolated a number of diterpenoids in the stem and leaves of coleus forskohlii with a focus on treatment of gastric cancer and preventing metastatic (secondary) cancers. These have been carried out on animal models with considerable success. (5)

Motherwort has been for centuries as a medicinal plant to treat hypertension. The herb has diuretic properties and may inhibit artery calcification formation.

It is also used as a remedy for milder forms of Graves’ disease (an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid). The German Commission E states that motherwort can be used for irregularities related to the heart caused by over stimulation of the thyroid gland (Hyperthyroidism / thyrotoxicosis).

Motherwort is considered more effective in lowering blood pressure than valerian, and the plant’s high content of vitamins A and C also add to its beneficial effect.

Extracts of the plant have been used as treatment for mild and chronic cardiac and vascular diseases, especially in the elderly.

It has also been used for rapid heart rate, some other minor irregularities in the heart’s rhythm and to reduce the risk of blood clots (thrombosis).

Many herbalists consider the plant particularly effective in treating palpitations (tachycardia), especially when this is due to anxiety. The herb has been used traditionally for most heart related problems associated with anxiety, tension and stress.

A lot of research has been done on this herb, especially in the Western world, where the traditional use of both the European and Chinese species of motherwort as a treatment for heart related disorders has been extensive. In one case, Chinese scientists found that the herb, or extracts from it, increased the volume of blood circulation, stimulated uterine activity and promoted the flow of urine.

Other recently performed studies indicate that the herb has antioxidant, immune-boosting and cancer protective properties and one study done on laboratory animals has indicated that certain alkaloids found in the herb can lower blood pressure and have positive effect on the central nervous system. (6)

Bilberry is another great addition to the “Heart and Body Extract”. The use of bilberry as a medicinal herb goes back all the way to the 16th century. The berries contain pectin, quercetin, A, B, and C vitamins which makes it a natural antioxidant, lowering blood pressure, reducing clotting and improving blood supply to the nervous system. The leaves contain the trace mineral manganese and other compounds.

Bilberry can be used as a supportive treatment for diabetes, both because the berries reduce blood sugar and because they can prevent eye diseases and blood vessel disorders that can accompany diabetes. This effect is probably due to the flavonoid quercetin which is the main active ingredient in the herb. Quercetin inhibits an enzyme called ‘aldose reductase’. The enzyme is normally found in the eye and several other body parts and converts sorbitol to glucosel. If the sorbitol levels become too high in the eyes or nerves, they can cause retinopathy (disease of the retina) and nerve damage. Many people with diabetes use an aldose reductase inhibitor to prevent eye problems related to the disease.

Bilberry is used to help address vascular and blood disorders, varicose veins, thrombosis, hemorrhoids and as an herbal treatment for angina. It can also help to prevent capillary fragility and thin the blood.

Bilberry is used traditionally as a natural remedy for kidney stones, scurvy and urinary infections. (7)

Butcher’s broom is generally used as an anti-inflammatory, to improve blood circulation, and to ameliorate water retention discomfort. This medicinal herb is believed to tighten the veins of the circulatory system and fortify the walls of capillary vessels.

Its high flavonoid content, such as rutin, improves the flow of blood to the brain, hands, and legs, and acts to reduce the blood clotting and post-surgical thrombosis.

The use of this medicinal herb as a tonic was recorded in the manuscripts of ancient Greeks. However, only after 1950s, the medical properties of this herb have been spread to the West. In the 1970s, Europe affirmed the extending popularity of the herbal remedies in the modern medicine. Now, the modern herbal medical practitioners commonly use the leaves of the plant as an anti-inflammatory agent and circulatory tonic for a variety of vascular disorders.

Because of its mild diuretic action, butcher’s broom acts as herbal remedy for reducing swelling of the legs, and it seems to be useful in the treatment of phlebitis and natural treatment for varicose veins.

Some herbalists recommend the use of butcher’s broom for the treatment and prevention of a variety of ailments such as atherosclerosis and chronic venous insufficiency. (8)

Mistletoe has been used by herbal practitioners as a treatment for urinary disorders, heart disease, and other symptoms arising from a weakened or disordered state of the nervous system. Mistletoe has been used to lower blood pressure and heart rate, ease anxiety, and as an herbal sleep aid. (9)

Ginger has been used for digestive health to treat common gastrointestinal complaints such as indigestion and heartburn, but heart health is another of its benefits. It has been shown to slow the production of LDL and triglycerides in the liver and prevent the clotting and aggregation of platelets in the blood vessels, associated with atherosclerosis and blood clots. (10)

Concluding, the role of nutrition in heart health has been extensively researched. Because of the great workload the heart is subjected to, it is the most vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies. Key nutrients like Vitamin C can keep the heart arteries strong and resilient.

Get the ‘pump’ your heart needs by starting a supplemental program, like the “Heart and Body Extract”

Thank you for reading.


(1) Rath, Matthias. Why Animals Don’t Get Heart Attacks– but People Do!: The Discovery That Will Eradicate Heart Disease: The Natural Prevention of Heart Attacks, Strokes, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, High Cholesterol and Many Other Cardiovascular Conditions. Santa Clara, CA: Dr. Rath Education Services USA, 2003. Print.










The role of vitamin C in heart health (Pt. 1)

Almost everybody has heard of vitamin C, but how many are aware of the key role this vitamin has in heart health? Out of a ‘blood vessel pipeline system’ that measures an astounding 60,000 miles, the arteries of the heart are the ones that suffer the most ‘wear and tear’ in the body. Taking into account that the heart beats more than 100,000 times a day, it is understandable that the coronary arteries are the most stressed in the body. It is also the reason why they are the most vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies. To quote Dr. Matthias Rath, “Your body is as old as your cardiovascular system, and optimizing your cardiovascular health adds years to your life.” (1)

In what follows we will look at how vitamin C can be crucial to the health of our heart. We will learn why Dr. Rath asserts that vitamin C deficiency is a primary cause of heart disease, and learn why supplementation with this vitamin can be crucial. We will also look at the nutritional content of the “Heart and Body Extract”.

The mighty artery 

It is said that a chain is as strong as its weakest link… In order to withstand the constant pressure the pumping action of the heart puts the coronary arteries under, the arteries have to stay strong and resilient. This is accomplished by the collagen fibers each artery is composed of. These fibers are key to the strength of the arteries.

According to Dr. Rath, when looked under a powerful microscope, each of the collagen fibers comprising our arteries looks like an iron bar. Actually, each collagen fiber “is stronger than an iron wire of comparable width.” (1)

Vitamin C is like cement for the artery wall 

Vitamin C is directly related to the resilience of this body tissue and, as a consequence, helps in many ways in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: heart attacks, strokes and atherosclerosis. For one, vitamin C encourages the production of collagen, elastin and other reinforcement molecules. These biological reinforcement rods constitute the body’s connective tissue, which comprises approximately 50% of all the proteins in our bodies. Increased production of collagen means improved stability for the 60,000 mile long pipeline of our arteries, veins and capillaries. For this reason, vitamin C is considered to be like cement to the artery walls. Optimal amounts of vitamin C are necessary.

In addition, vitamin C is an anti-oxidant that serves as a co-factor in many biochemical reactions in the body’s cells.

When vitamin C stores are depleted in the body, a gradual breakdown of the body’s connective tissue, including blood vessel walls, starts. This causes “leaky blood vessel walls” which Dr. Rath refers to as “arterial scurvy”, and this is in his opinion “the main cause for heart attacks and strokes.” (1)

The average diet contains enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy but not enough to guarantee stable reinforced artery walls. As a consequence, hundreds of tiny cracks and lesions develop along the artery walls.

From tiny cracks to atherosclerotic plaques 

The main cause of atherosclerosis is the biological weakness of the artery walls caused by chronic vitamin deficiency; they develop as a compensatory stabilizing force to strengthen an already weakened blood vessel wall. Once the artery wall is weakened by vitamin C deficiency, it begins to form little cracks. The body then mobilizes its repair mechanisms: cholesterol and other millions of fat particles (lipoproteins) enter the damaged area in order to start repair. These are deposited in the artery wall by means of biological “adhesives”, which eventually lead to atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerotic deposits in coronary arteries reduce the blood flow and impair oxygen and nutrient supply to millions of heart muscle cells. The coronary arteries of patients with angina pectoris typically look completely blocked. Heart attacks can occur when a blood clot forms on top of the atherosclerotic deposit interrupting the blood flow through the artery. Millions of heart muscle cells die, impairing the heart muscle and causing death. If the deposits are in the arteries of brain, it can lead to strokes.

Atherosclerotic deposits usually develop over many years, this is why Dr. Rath recommends to start prevention as early as possible. Atherosclerosis is not a disease caused by age though; studies of soldiers in the Korean and Vietnam wars aged 25 or younger showed atherosclerotic deposits.

The role of nutrition 

Together with vitamin C, natural “teflon” agents neutralize these adhesive particles. These are the natural amino acids lysine and proline. These two amino acids become even more effective in combination with other vitamins. This is why a complete vitamin based program is necessary for the cells of the artery walls to initiate the healing process. According to Dr. Matthias Rath, these micronutrients provide essential bioenergy for millions of cells composing the cardiovascular system.” (1)

Cellular Medicine, a new understanding of health and disease 

Cellular medicine looks at cardiovascular health and disease as it regards the millions of cells that comprise the organ we call the heart. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can keep the heart cells starving and therefore unable to do their job. Cellular medicine takes into consideration the following:

Cells of the blood vessel walls: Known as ‘endothelial cells’, they form a protective barrier between the blood and the blood vessel wall. They also contribute to a number of metabolic functions such as optimum blood viscosity. The smooth muscle cells produce collagen and other reinforcement molecules, providing optimum stability and tone to the blood vessel walls.

Deposits and spasms of the blood vessel walls are the causes of high blood pressure. Dietary supplementation of magnesium and vitamin C relaxes the blood vessel walls and normalizes blood pressure. The amino acid arginine can also be beneficial for these cells.

Blood cells: The millions of cells circulating in our blood are responsible for transporting oxygen, wound healing and many other functions.

Cells of the heart muscle: The heart muscle pumps so circulation can be possible. A subtype of heart muscle cells is responsible for conducting electricity for each heartbeat.

The millions of muscle cells need fuel for optimum performance: carnitine, coenzyme Q10, B vitamins, etc will optimize the pumping performance of the heart and contribute to a regular heartbeat.

Nutrition for the cell 

Since the cardiovascular system is the most active organ system of our bodies, it has the highest consumption of essential nutrients. This means that all the millions of cells we just mentioned need nutrition in order to do their job. Long-term deficiency of vitamins and other essential nutrients in millions of vascular wall cells impairs the function of the blood vessels walls. The result is high blood pressure and development of atherosclerotic deposits which lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Vitamin deficiencies in artery wall cells can lead to:

Increased artery wall tension

Narrowing of artery diameter

Thickening of artery walls and high blood pressure

Instability of artery wall

Lesion and cracks

Atherosclerotic deposits, heart attacks and strokes

Vitamin deficiency in millions of heart cells can contribute to irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and heart failure (shortness of breath, edema and fatigue)

Nutrition is the main source of fuel for these hard working heart cells because our body cannot produce it. Dr. Rath cellular nutrition recommendations comprise more than 30 vitamins, minerals, amino acids and trace elements at optimal levels. These recommendations are for everybody of any age but those with advanced health problems such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure etc require higher doses.

Why animals don’t get heart attacks 

It is a known fact that in the animal kingdom none of the domestic species, with some rare exceptions, develop atherosclerosis. The explanation according to Dr. Rath is that animals produce their own vitamin C. Their body reservoir is 10-100 higher than that of humans so they can produce between 1,000 and 20,000 mg of vitamin C a day.

We human beings cannot manufacture a single molecule of vitamin C. As opposed to animals, the human body lacks the enzyme that is needed to convert sugar molecules (glucose) into vitamin C. The inevitable consequence is that unless we get this nutrient from the diet, we will be deficient. Our ancestors had a rich plant diet that provided the daily minimum of vitamins and minerals. However, we have moved far away from that and our diet has become highly processed. Our food is also usually overcooked, which destroys most vitamins, minerals and enzymes. All this has led to our present disease state.


(1) Rath, Matthias. Why Animals Don’t Get Heart Attacks– but People Do!: The Discovery That Will Eradicate Heart Disease: The Natural Prevention of Heart Attacks, Strokes, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, High Cholesterol and Many Other Cardiovascular Conditions. Santa Clara, CA: Dr. Rath Education Services USA, 2003. Print.

Low thyroid: the unsuspected cause of heart disease (Pt. 4)

According to Tom Brimeyer M.S., in order to properly address hypothyroidism, one must address all facets of thyroid health and the thyroid hormone pathway. This includes several steps, which he explains are:

  1. Addressing the ENTIRE thyroid hormone pathway:

The intricate thyroid hormone pathway we explained before has to be taken into account. The key is not in how much thyroid hormone the thyroid gland can produce or how much thyroid hormone we supplement with, because if a problem develops anywhere along this pathway, the cells will not effectively utilize that thyroid hormone and hypothyroidism will remain.

In his opinion, the underlying causes of hypothyroidism have to be addressed and this means all the many steps of this hormone pathway down to the cell level, including the cell hormone receptors themselves.

  1. Addressing the diet:

Diet plays an extremely important role in the health of the thyroid. “It’s well known in science and human physiology that cells and organs require specific nutrients that we extract from our food in order to function properly.” (4) A good example is the liver. Simply missing certain key ingredients in our diet can inhibit our liver’s ability to convert T4 to T3 that our cells need and will quickly contribute to hypothyroidism. When our liver doesn’t get enough active T3 thyroid hormone it quickly becomes sluggish and congested, which further impairs T4 conversion.

This step also includes removing any food that is causing a reaction in the body (12).

  1. Addressing other hormones that directly affect thyroid function:

Most hypothyroidism sufferers make too much of the stress hormone cortisol, which inhibits the conversion of T4 into T3.  But stress hormones are just some of the hormones that need to be properly balanced in order to truly heal and rebalance our thyroid.  All the different hormones that directly affect thyroid function have to be balanced.

Seven simple steps to overcome low thyroid function

Dr. Brimeyer recommends following a program with seven simple steps to start healing your thyroid.

Step 1. Balance Your Estrogen Levels

Excessive estrogen levels are also becoming an epidemic health problem, according to Dr. Brimeyer.

Estrogen is a very obvious problem in women during menopause when progesterone levels naturally drop, in women on birth control or hormone replacement therapy. But it is becoming a problem for men too, not only because they also have estrogen in their bodies, but because of all the many different sources of estrogens present in food (soy, herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides), plastics, etc.

Estrogen’s role in hypothyroidism has been well documented. Estrogen directly affects the thyroid gland by inhibiting its ability to secrete thyroid hormone. Regulating estrogen levels is imperative to truly heal the thyroid.

When estrogen becomes predominant there is not enough progesterone to balance estrogen out. Please check our blog titled ‘Heart disease in women’ to learn how the mistletoe in the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ can help balance estrogen levels.

Step 2. Manage your stress hormones

The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol inhibit the conversion of T4 to T3. They also increase production of Reverse T3, which blocks the body from properly using thyroid hormone. Both of these effects cause hypothyroidism.

As a survival mechanism, under stress, our body naturally down regulates the thyroid in order to conserve energy.

Another problem with the stress hormone adrenaline is that it forces our body to increase the concentration of free fatty acids in our bloodstream. Because most people have large concentrations of polyunsaturated fats in their fat cells, when these fats are forced into the bloodstream they block thyroid hormone from reaching the cells.

In addition, in order to reduce stress hormones it is imperative to balance blood sugar levels. This will keep cortisol, from breaking down protein from our muscles in order to raise blood sugar when it drops too low.

Lastly, it’s important to balance sodium levels, because under conditions of hypothyroidism the body will lose this mineral easily, which will drive adrenaline up. Just adding enough salt to the diet can help.

Please check our blog titled “Stress” to learn more on managing stress.

Step 3. Restore your liver function

Approximately 2/3 of the active thyroid hormone T3 that our body uses is converted from T4 by our liver. Liver congestion can keep this conversion from happening causing hypothyroidism. When this happens T4 tends to accumulate in the body, which slows thyroid production, perpetuating hypothyroidism even more.

Another problem that occurs with a congested liver is that it loses its ability to properly store sugar. It is this stored sugar in the liver that plays an important role in helping us maintain steady blood sugar levels throughout the day, starting the stress reaction we mentioned before and once again, causing hypothyroidism.

For more information on how to keep the liver healthy, please check our blogs on liver health.

Step 4. Eat the right proteins

Protein intake is an important part of a healthy diet. We should consume at least 70 to 100 grams of high quality protein per day. Dr. Brimeyer recommends bone broth for its anti-inflammatory properties and for being a good source of amino acids.

Step 5. Balance your blood sugar

Low blood sugar both decreases the conversion of T4 to active T3 in your liver and it signals the body to increase production of the stress hormone cortisol, which breaks down muscle tissue in order to keep blood sugar from dropping to dangerously low levels.

Step 6. Avoid polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats are especially problematic for the thyroid because they block the enzymes that signal the thyroid gland to release its hormones. When these fats enter the bloodstream, they also block the active thyroid hormone within the bloodstream from being transported to the cells that desperately need it. They also block cells from properly responding to the thyroid hormone that they do get, which makes the hormone much less effective to cells.

Healthy fats for the thyroid are coconut oil and butter. These saturated fats promote healthy thyroid function and increase the cells’ response to thyroid hormone. They can also cancel out the negative effects of polyunsaturated fats.

Please check our blog on fats for more information.

Step 7. Stop Over-Exercising

Too much exercise or very intense exercise can stop our body from producing T3 even long after exercise.

However, there are some extremely beneficial forms of exercise for hypothyroidism that naturally promote your thyroid and the body’s hormonal health. One example is Tai Chi.

For anyone struggling with signs or symptoms of heart disease, autoimmune issues, fatigue, depression, digestive issues, food allergies, etc., Dr. Brimeyer recommends to stop treating them like they are separate problems and start understanding that hypothyroidism plays a big role in each and every one of them. Healing your thyroid and rebuilding your health from the ground up can be a complex process that requires careful planning, but going directly to the source and correcting the underlying causes will assure we are successful in doing so (4).

Testing your thyroid at home

Under normal circumstances, the amount of heat produced in the body depends on the amount of fuel (food) burned, but with low thyroid hormone, burning of fuel is not possible. Some of the earliest studies in hypothyroid patients showed that they had temperatures below normal. In his early years of practice, Dr. Broda Barnes started to instruct his patients to take their temperature upon awakening, before getting out of bed. He established the ‘basal body temperature test’ as a reliable simple test patients could do at home. Just by increasing their temperature with thyroid therapy, he was able to set straight erroneous diagnoses, lower their blood pressure and decrease heart palpitations and fast pulse.

However, this simple technique of measuring basal body temperature as a guide to determining thyroid function did not appeal to the medical profession. Despite this, axillary or underarm temperature has been used for several decades and, based on thousands of readings, it has been established that normal values for underarm temperature are in the range of 97.8 to 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature below 97.8 indicates hypothyroidism, above 98.2, hyperthyroidism. As low temperature rises with thyroid treatment the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism usually disappear (1).

The basal temperature is not a perfect test for thyroid function, because other conditions aside from hypothyroidism can give a low reading: starvation, pituitary gland deficiency or adrenal gland deficiency, but these are easier to diagnose (1).

Taking the test

The basal temperature can be taken by any man any day of the week. Women during their menstrual years see a fluctuation of the temperature during their cycle so it is best measured the 2nd or 3rd day of the period after flow starts according to Dr. Barns. After menopause, it can be taken any day.

The procedure consists of taking one’s temperature immediately upon awakening in the morning. A reading below the normal range of 97.8 to 98.2 strongly suggests low thyroid function. A reading above that is suspicious of some infection or overactive thyroid gland.

Dr. Broda Barnes did not address auto-immune thyroid disease since obviously it was not prevalent back then, but much is being researched today and new ways to help our thyroid are being successfully used. Dr. Brimeyer, for example, has been able to use Dr. Barnes’ temperature test with his patients and has found that adding a pulse test provides very insightful information. He recommends taking one’s temperature and pulse always at rest, 20 minutes after a meal, three times a day: right upon waking, after breakfast and in the afternoon around 3 p.m.

Other ways to help our thyroid

Following an anti-inflammatory diet is a very important part of healing our thyroid. One food that has been found to be very helpful is ginger. According to Dr. Jockers, ginger can be used for its anti- inflammation properties just like aspirin and ibuprofen. “Ginger is a digestive stimulant that promotes gastric flow and contains enzymes which aid in proper digestion… can be used to treat pain associated with intestinal inflammation by relieving contractions of the gut lining. Individuals with leaky gut are likely to have an unhealthy balance of bacteria in their gut resulting from toxic foods and gut inflammation. Ginger exhibits powerful antimicrobial and natural antibiotic properties as well… ginger has been extensively found to combat strains of bacteria linked to leaky gut. Unlike synthetic antibiotics, ginger has been effective against both standard and drug resistant microbes in treating gastrointestinal infection.” (13) You can find ginger as an active ingredient in the “Heart and Body Extract”.

Other nutrients are beet root and papaya, which can also be found in the “Gland Extract”. Beets are a highly nutritious root that contains vitamins A, B, and C, potassium, magnesium, folate, soluble fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and antioxidants. Beets help lower blood pressure, prevent inflammation, help with gut motility and help detoxify the liver and the blood (14).

The “Gland Extract” also contains fo-ti-tieng, which nourishes the glands, and contains kelp and watercress.

Other things to consider

Dr. Jockers stresses that low vitamin D3 is associated with thyroid disorders and should be addressed.  Vitamin D levels play a very important role in immune regulation, calming down autoimmunity and keeping inflammation levels under control.

Also, both iron and B12 deficiency are a common finding with thyroid disorders. He recommends a complete blood count as well. This will look in detail at red blood cell counts, iron stores and white blood cell levels, as well as liver function, kidney health, digestive health and blood sugar regulation.

A ‘C Reactive Protein’ (CRP) reveals the inflammatory status of the body. This is important because increased inflammation impedes the T4-T3 conversion (7).

Similarly, lowered magnesium is a common deficiency and will also affect thyroid function (10). It is also very important for blood sugar stability and healthy adrenal-pituitary and hypothalamic function. A magnesium deficiency can lead to chronic inflammation and increased pituitary gland stress that alters proper TSH production (7).

Concluding, thyroid health has a very strong link to the health of the rest of the body, and more importantly, the heart. Iodine supplementation is a key part of thyroid function. In the case of auto-immunity, addressing the diet is a crucial aspect in resolving thyroid conditions.





Low thyroid, the unsuspected cause of heart disease (Pt. 3)

An underactive thyroid can affect every cell in the body and be a major contributor to degenerative diseases (1). In previous blogs we looked at hypothyroidism caused by nutritional deficiencies. We saw how the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ and the ‘Gland Extract’ can help the thyroid because they contain iodine, a key nutrient for all the glands. We looked at Dr. Broda Barnes’ research on the link between low thyroid and heart disease.

While hypothyroidism was not very prevalent when Dr. Barnes was doing his research, he already observed this condition was on the rise in the American population. What accounted for the increase in thyroid disease, according to Dr. Barns, was the introduction of antibiotics around 1945, which allowed millions of hypothyroid children to live long enough to reproduce and pass on their low thyroid to their children. Included in this group were those with heart disease and perhaps other major degenerative diseases.

The major problem with why hypothyroidism remained prevalent, according to Dr. Barns, was that it was still widely unrecognized (1). Today, hypothyroidism is one of the fastest rising health conditions in the US. An estimated 27 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, women being five to eight times more likely than men to develop the disease. Despite this, hypothyroidism still remains unrecognized, misunderstood and undiagnosed, with up to 60% of thyroid disease sufferers not being aware of their condition (2).

New evidence points to the fact that thyroid disorders should be taken more seriously, especially when it comes to how low thyroid affects heart health:

“Hypothyroid patients have increased diastolic blood pressure…, (and) altered lipid profileHomocysteine, C-reactive protein, increased arterial stiffness, endothelial dysfunction and altered coagulation parameters have been recognized as “new” risk factors for atherosclerosis in patients with thyroid hormone deficiency. The plasma total homocysteine concentration, an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis, is moderately elevated in overtly hypothyroid patients and it decreases with thyroid replacement therapy.” (3)

Something that makes thyroid disorders hard to address is the fact that they rarely affect only the thyroid. In the majority of cases, thyroid disorders involve a myriad of different imbalances, all of which have to be addressed before the thyroid to heal.

In what follows we will look at what other factors, apart from iodine deficiency, affect the health of our thyroid. We will learn about the thyroid’s ‘chain of command’, what the most prevalent type of thyroid disease is and what we can do to start taking care of our thyroid.
What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that is located within the neck, just below the trachea. It is not to be confused with the parathyroid, located on the thyroid too, whose function is to release hormones that control calcium and other minerals within the blood.

The thyroid’s main function is to produce the hormones known as T3 (tri-iodothyronine) and its pro-hormone T4 (thyroxine). Both of these hormones are tyrosine-based hormones and are partially composed of iodine; however T4 has four iodine molecules, while T3 has three. Also, T4 is much more abundantly produced in the thyroid than T3 and is consequently much more abundantly released in the bloodstream than T3, at a ratio between 14:1 and 20:1.

T4 is the inactive form of thyroid hormone, and it is also known as ‘storage form’ because it is stored in the body until it is needed. T4 has to be converted to the active form T3 within the cells to be usable. Inside the cells, T3 is three to four times more potent than T4.

A deficiency in iodine can lead to decreased production of T3 and T4, enlarges the thyroid gland and will cause the disease known as goiter (5), which is why supplementing with iodine is key for thyroid health. Please check our “Heart and Body Extract” and “Gland Extract”.

 The importance of the thyroid

 Scientist Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize for demonstrating that “cancer develops and thrives when cells become dysfunctional and are unable to efficiently produce energy” (4). This is exactly how cells suffer under conditions of low thyroid, they cannot produce energy.

This will influence:

  • The body’s metabolic rate
  • Bone growth
  • Neural maturation
  • Protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism
  • Vitamin metabolism
  • Heat generation, etc (5)

The thyroid’s chain of command

Dr. John W. Larson DC, Clinical Nutritionist and Hormone Health Expert for over 18 years, explains that the thyroid follows a very specific and highly coordinated chain of command. Before the active free T3 can reach our cells and be used to make energy, it has to go through different steps in an orderly fashion (10).

For this reason, thyroid function does not start in the thyroid itself, but in brain and the liver, in this order:

1) In the brain: Thyroid hormone is operated by the action of the pituitary and the hypothalamus (2). The pituitary is a very important gland that secretes hormones that help control: growth, blood pressure, certain functions of the sex organs, thyroid, and metabolism as well as some aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, water/salt concentration at the kidneys, temperature regulation and pain relief (6).

When thyroid hormone is needed, a signal known as ‘Thyrotropin Releasing Hormone’ (TRH) travels to the pituitary and triggers this gland to release another hormone called ‘Thyroid Stimulating Hormone’ (TSH). TSH is sent directly to the thyroid (7) where another hormone called ‘Thyroid Peroxidase’ (TPO) transports iodine into the thyroid gland, adds this iodine to tyrosine and with both of these, makes thyroid hormone (8), about 93% T4 and 7% of T3 (7).

This process is so tightly regulated that the brain is constantly ‘reading’ thyroid hormone levels in the bloodstream. If the brain senses too much hormone circulating in the blood, it will slow down the levels of TSH, and the thyroid will slow down its release of thyroid hormone accordingly. On the contrary, when the levels of thyroid hormone drop in the blood, the pituitary releases more TSH, and more thyroid hormone is produced.

2) In the liver: Once thyroid hormone is made in the thyroid, it is carried into the bloodstream by Thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG). (TBG) is synthesized in the liver as a protein (another word for ‘globulin’) as one of three transport proteins (along with transthyretin and serum albumin) responsible for carrying thyroid hormone T4 and T3 in the bloodstream. Of these three proteins, TBG has the highest affinity for T4 and T3 but is present in the lowest concentration. Despite its low concentration, TBG carries the majority of T4 in the blood plasma (9).

The liver is responsible for converting about 60% of T4 into T3. Any form of liver congestion will interfere with this conversion. Stress hormone will convert another 20% into a permanently inactive form of T3, known as reverse T3. Healthy gastrointestinal flora is responsible for converting the last 20% of T4 into T3 (7).

Apart from being converted in the liver, the main nutrient that helps the conversion of T4 to T3 is selenium. Selenium is another important trace mineral that is also becoming depleted in our soils (10).

Bound T4

Not only does TBG transport T4 and T3 into the bloodstream, it also binds them. In the human body every hormone is found bound to a protein: thyroid hormones, adrenal hormones, sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone), etc. This ‘bounding effect’ is a way the body has to control the powerful effects hormones have in us. It is not until hormones become free or unbound that they can have effects on our cells. In the case of the thyroid, this means that T4 is not in an active form that can be used by cells to produce energy (7).

Free T3

This whole chain of command has the important purpose of making active free T3 available to all cells. This happens inside the part of the cell called the mitochondria, where energy is produced.

Reverse T3 (RT3) dominance

RT3 is like an anti-T3 hormone in that it blocks T3 from getting to the cells by binding to the receptor site that is normally occupied by T3.

The role of diagnosis 

According to Dr. Larson, there are many tests used to check thyroid function. However, on many occasions, practitioners will only use one of these. He recommends having a complete thyroid panel that includes six different tests:

  1. TSH: It is a good indicator of thyroid function so this test is the most widely used test by most practitioners. There are two problems with it though, one, sometimes it is the only test used and two, it can show healthy levels of TSH even when the person still has low thyroid symptoms. This adds to the confusion and frustration that is normally seen in thyroid disease. According to Dr. Larson, more detailed testing is needed to show other factors that may be contributing to low thyroid function.

Something that needs to be taken into account is that if the patient is on thyroid medication, TSH levels can show up as too low.

When it comes to the ranges, the optimal level of TSH would be between 1.00 and 2.50, with 0.00-0.44 being clinical low and 4.51 or higher being clinical high.

  1. Free T3: Optimal ranges are between 2.8 and 3.8.

High levels of T3 are a sign of an overactive thyroid. If free T3 is low it is a sign that the conversion process may be suffering.

  1. Reverse T3: Optimal levels are between 0.0 and 19.9.

RT3 mimics free T3 in the body but does not carry out the active duties for metabolic processes in the same way. There are several reasons why RT3 can be high. One is high levels of T4. Another reason is too much of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes what is known as ‘stress induced hypothyroidism’ (7).

  1. Free T4: Optimal levels are between 1.03 and 1.56.

If T4 is high, this tells us that the thyroid is overactive and producing too much thyroid hormone. It could also mean that the conversion of T4 to T3 is not occurring in the liver and/or gut. If Free T4 is low, this points to an underactive thyroid. However, it does not tell us if the problem is functional or autoimmune related (7).  

  1. Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody: This is one of the tests done to check for an auto-immune thyroid condition. The optimal level is from 0 to 19. As we saw before, Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) transports iodine into the thyroid. In the case of an auto-immune thyroid disease, antibodies attack this enzyme, which can cause keep enough thyroid hormone from being available, even if the person is supplementing with iodine.

There has been some concern expressed by practitioners which explain that taking too much iodine, 50 mg or more, can actually be hurtful in the case of TPO antibodies. Dr. Edwin Lee, MD, Board Certified Endocrinologist explains the extra iodine can actually fuel the antibodies even more, therefore, he recommends to stay at a low dose of 1-2 grams until the auto-immune condition is addressed.

  1. Thyroglobulin Antibody, also known as Anti-Thyroglobulin Antibody, is also a test that measures auto-immunity. When the body is creating anti-bodies toward this protein, the one that carries thyroid hormone into the bloodstream, it can keep T3 from reaching the cells.

Auto-immune thyroid disease

Approximately 80 % of hypothyroidism cases are autoimmune based (7). It is called ‘Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis’ when it causes low thyroid and ‘Graves disease’ in the case of hyperactive thyroid.

Auto-immunity can be caused by different things, among them, leaky gut, food allergies or intolerances, invading organisms, heavy metals that have entered the thyroid, inflammation, etc.

The most prevalent is related to the gut. According to Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo MS, DC, CCN, DACBN, the health of the thyroid is dependent on the health of the gut. She explains that around 70 % of our lymphatic system is located in the gut, known as GALT (Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue). Eating the wrong kind of foods can irritate the cells lining the gut (enterocytes) and produce inflammatory chemicals which will over-sensitize the immune system, create more inflammation and ultimately lead to leaky gut (11).

Dr. Tom O’Bryan, DC, CCN, DACBN explains that the dendritic cells in our immune system are like guards that check every food we eat. When we constantly eat inflammatory foods we over stimulate these cells to produce inflammatory chemicals called ‘cytokines’. They are like ‘chemical bullets’ that destroy any invader by making antibodies against invaders. In the case of protein foods like wheat and grains, the problem is that they contain a long chain of 33 amino acids, called ‘alpha gliadin’ that is not broken down correctly. This is a problem because any food that is not broken down completely will alert the immune system that an invader is present. When it comes to the thyroid the problem is that our thyroid is made out of exactly the same chain of amino acids that is found in these foods. Once our immune system is activated against wheat and grains, it will start attacking our thyroid too and making antibodies against our own thyroid. This is what is known as ‘collateral damage’.

The immune system can attack the thyroid itself, or any of the hormones, or proteins that are part of the thyroid’s chain of command. This is why it is important to have a complete thyroid lab panel to check for all the possibilities.

There is only one thyroid dysfunction that is not shown in any test: when antibodies attack the thyroid receptors in the cells. If these receptors are damaged or destroyed, the cells are unable to receive T3, however, all the tests will show normal levels of TSH, T4 and T3 but the patient will still have symptoms of low thyroid.

Once auto-immunity becomes chronic, and we surpass our oral tolerance for problem foods, thyroid antibodies will become self-perpetuated (12). This will make the sufferer over-sensitive to any other minor irritants like pollen, dust, even less evident things like perfumes. It will also make the sufferer more prone to other auto immune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, etc if the problem is not addressed at the root level.

The treatment usually given for thyroid disorders is T4 thyroid hormone, but this doesn’t solve the problem, because as long as the offending agents are present in the diet the damage will continue. What is more, giving the patient T4 hormone can lower thyroid function even more.

So what can we do to start reversing thyroid dysfunction? Please find out in our next blog.