Confessions of an Incurable Health Addict

By Richard Labaki


“I would not be recommending to you this nutritional supplement had I not personally used it and thoroughly researched its therapeutic benefits,” is a phrase I often repeat to clients who are hesitant about taking vitamins, minerals or herbal extracts.  Though more and more people are becoming aware of the efficacy and relative safety of many nutritional supplements, some remain uncomfortable about popping pills on daily basis.  And I am always allaying their concerns by explaining that the right nutritional supplements (made by reputable companies) are worth ingesting and are not to be equated with pharmaceutical drugs. 

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Moreover, seeing how some orthodox medicine doctors are becoming curious about nutritional supplements is intriguing.  But I am not holding my breath that soon they would substitute pharmaceutical drugs with nutritional supplements in helping their patients with health conditions like arthritis, high blood sugar, hypertension and others.  Truth of the matter is many medical doctors – some of whom are good friends of mine – view supplements with suspicion or simple disregard.  Their argument is always the same: Supplements are not scientifically proven to be effective in terms of inducing health and preventing diseases. And they could be potentially dangerous.  Nothing puts a big smile on my face more than hearing this deeply flawed argument, which I easily debunk through a twofold response.

It is funny how we humans have a tendency to reach conclusions about serious issues without even bothering to acquire the necessary facts.  This for me would be labelled as mental laziness.  Thousands of studies regarding various herbs, nutrients, vitamins and minerals have been conducted by renowned scientists, institutes and universities across the world.  For example, the health benefits of vitamin C have been documented in over 18,000 studies!  And as for the “potentially dangerous” part, I say that supplements are very safe – at the very least far safer than pharmaceutical drugs!  I mean, read the pamphlet of any medication and check out the numerous side effects that it could cause.  

In contrast, I challenge anyone to prove to me that someone died or went to hospital due to a complication caused by vitamin C  or Omega 3 supplementation.  That is not to say that the administration of supplements should not be organized and that any supplement brand will do.  Yes, there are lousy brands out there that do not employ proper manufacturing practices and do not test their raw material for contamination.  And yes, some people might not react well to a specific herb or nutrient – especially if used wrongly or randomly.  But at the end of the day, the side effects are usually light and go away the moment one stops using the supplement.  The complications caused by pharmaceutical drugs, on the other hand, are usually far more severe (many of which are often irreversible.) 

Take for example acetaminophen, which is marketed under various names.  Sold as over-the-counter medication (meaning no doctor’s prescription is needed) as a pain reliever, acetaminophen is known to cause serious liver problems.  Sometimes, and if taken in high dosages, the damage is so severe that death may occur or a liver transplantation becomes necessary!  And guess what doctors at the emergency room administer when someone is admitted due to acetaminophen poisoning?  They use N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine or NAC.  This is a natural compound sold as a nutritional supplement to boost liver function and help the body in the detoxification process.  Ironic, don’t you think! 

And this brings me to another equally important point.  Most medical doctors frown upon nutritional supplements and herbal extracts.  Yet, most of them fail to realize that there are more than 110 prescription drugs based purely on plant and herbal extracts!  Below is a small sample:

·         Sisal: Steroids and cortisone were first isolated from this plant

·         Meadow Saffron: The source of colchicine, which is used to treat gout and cancer

·         Foxglove: The source of heart disease medications

·         Woolly Foxglove: Used in treating cerebral malaria

·         Melilot: Anti-coagulant drugs used to control thrombosis are developed from this plant

·         Opium Poppy: Produces narcotic painkillers, including common codeine

·         Thorn Apple: Used for asthma and Parkinson’s disease

·         Belladonna: Used to dilate pupils in sight-saving eye surgery

·         Feverfew: Used in the treatment of migraine

·         Ginger: Relieves the symptoms of nausea, especially morning sickness

·         Evening Primrose Oil: Used to alleviate PMS and eczema

·         Meadowsweet: The aspirin compound “acetyl-salicylic acid” was isolated from this plant in 1827.

So as you can see, modern medicine owes a lot to Mother Nature.  Our health owes a lot to the various plants, vegetables, fruits, roots, seeds and nuts that the Earth provides.  And by adopting the natural approach to health (eating the right food and taking the right herbs), one could work on healing the body in a more holistic fashion – instead of simply trying to mask the symptoms.  It is my humble belief that all the cures for our modern day diseases could be found in healthy food and herbal remedies.  And ongoing scientific research is making this conviction more solid every day.  I sometimes ponder the notion that only five percent of the plant species have actually been examined for pharmacological activity – imagine that!  And so I will continue recommending nutritional supplements that are backed by extensive research and manufactured by reputable companies.  Actually, I have a confession to make.  I personally use anywhere from six to eight different supplements every day for better energy, mood, focus and overall well-being.  I am addicted to being healthy and some addictions are just worth keeping! 

If you found this article interesting, please "share" and "like". And feel free to leave your comments/questions below - I would love to hear your opinion and answer your questions. 

Women in the Mood

By Richard Labaki

Women often complain about men being utterly consumed by sex to the point of losing their mind.  And while there is truth to this matter, women tend to forget or overlook the fact that they are also sexual creatures (actually highly advanced sexual beings compared to men!)  After all, they are the ones blessed with an organ that serves no other purpose but pure sexual pleasure (the clitoris).  This tiny but mighty organ has around 8,000 sensory nerve endings interacting with over 15,000 other nerve endings in the pelvis - as opposed to the 4,000 found in the penis (as claimed by certain scientists.)  So if we put things into perspective, women are obviously designed to experience heightened sexual pleasures at a level we men could never feel or even comprehend!  Unfortunately, social and religious norms have been playing a suppressing role when it comes to female sexual expression and urges.  This could partly explain why most women are uncomfortable with their sexuality – consequently, resenting men for being more expressive and open in this regard.  I am not a sociologist or psychologist to present an academic view on the topic.  But I simply wish to share my perspective on the physiological elements pertaining to female sexuality in light of the recent release of the “Pink Viagra” – Flibanserin (Addyi) – for women.    

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Those who know me too well are aware of my hatred of pharmaceutical drugs in general (of course there are exceptions, especially when it comes to the emergency room where certain meds could mean the difference between life and death.)  So by default, a drug designed for female sexuality could only instigate my ridicule and sarcasm.  Such drugs, even if they do work for some people and under certain circumstances, could only come with a mélange of side effects, especially if used for a prolonged period.  Simply put, all of our physiological functions could be balanced through our lifestyle habits, food intake and supplement use.  But if things are in disarray like when we come under severe stress, these functions – including libido – will be adversely affected.  Too much of the stress hormone cortisol could spell disaster for both men and women in terms of overall health and sexual desire/performance.  So in effect, you don’t boost libido/sexual performance by taking some drug manufactured by Big Pharma.  You work on reducing your stress levels in a proactive manner, and this in turn will reflect positively on your sex drive and performance.  Activities like yoga, meditation, tai chi, massage and others have all been shown to be effective in counteracting the ill effects of stress.  And there are of course adaptogenic herbs that help tremendously in this regard.

Another important aspect regarding the female libido is testosterone levels.  If you have been minutely awake during biology class at school then you should know that this is the male hormone.  Well, in reality women have testosterone too but not in high levels compared to men.  However, this hormone is very critical when it comes to female health and sexual satisfaction.  In other words, if a woman suffers from low levels of this hormone then she will surely suffer sexually.  But how to remedy this problem?  Luckily, certain nutrients and herbal extracts have been shown to regulate female hormones and boosting testosterone levels naturally.  Good testosterone levels in women have been linked to improved energy, mood and motivation, in addition to increased bone strength and body-fat burn. 

Reclaiming the feminine mojo

As mentioned earlier, there are safe and natural ways to boost testosterone production in the female body – thanks to various herbs, vitamins and minerals.  Here are some of my favorite ones given their effectiveness and relative safety.

Chasteberry (Vitex): This herb is probably one of the best hormonal balancer for women – with an impressive record.  Vitex has been shown to regulate estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. 

Tribulus Terrestris: I love this one.  I have used it for athletic purposes, since it naturally improves testosterone production.  However, it has also been shown to increase testosterone in women in a gentle way – leading to improved sex drive.

Tongkat Ali:  This herb from Southeast Asia (used mainly in Malaysia) increases libido and stimulates the production of testosterone.

Horny Goat Weed: This one increases testosterone and improves blood circulation (blood flowing into the right places also leads to improved sexual desire/performance.)

Zinc: An important mineral for overall health, zinc has been shown to increase testosterone levels.

All the aforementioned herbs and nutrients have been proven by science to be effective in increasing testosterone levels naturally.  Nevertheless, you always need to consult with a therapist/professional before using them (some individuals might have certain health conditions that prohibit them from using these supplements.)

Women are entitled to enjoy an active and gratifying sexual life as much as men do.  And this should not be reliant upon a so-called “miracle pill” or “wonder drug”!  Stress, hormonal imbalance and other health conditions that negatively affect libido/sexual performance could be and should be solved through natural and sustainable means. 

If you found this article interesting, please "share" and "like". And feel free to leave your comments/questions below - would love to hear your opinion and answer your questions. 

The Red or the Blue Pill? Awaking to the truth that not all supplements are created equal

(RenYou) So you have taken that vitamin C tablet to boost your immunity and added a probiotic to lessen your digestive discomfort.  But very little or nothing has happened!  Your immunity is still weak and that bloat and indigestion have not abandoned your midsection.  And so your faith in the natural health approach may have been lost forever.  What your physician has been telling you all along turned out to be true, you think to yourself.  "You don't need supplements and multivitamins," you remember him/her preaching.  "When you have a headache just take pharmaceutical painkillers.  When you have high cholesterol levels take statins (which are cholesterol lowering drugs).  When your face breaks out with acne, just lather it with a facial cream made out from petrochemicals and you'll be just fine!"

Well, if this has ever happened to you then this article was simply written to restore your faith in natural healing.  Fact is, supplements could play an integral role in fortifying your health and alleviating many of today's diseases and conditions.  Certainly, relying on supplements alone while maintaining lousy and unhealthy lifestyle habits would not yield the desired results… hence the name, SUPPLEMENTS!  Supplements do not neutralize the effects of ongoing unhealthy habits.  What they do, however, is help in cleaning up the mess and improving conditions when you finally decide to fix your lifestyle habits and food choices.  And so this is the first point to keep in mind: Supplements are not magic pills. They only help when they are part of a holistic approach to healing.

The second element to keep in mind when it comes to supplements is that they weren’t all created equal.  Of the thousands of supplement brands out there, only a handful have passed the strict standards that I have set for the supplements I would use myself and even give to my 85-year-old grandmother.  Not all companies apply stringent quality control in terms of using only the best ingredients and following strict safety measures to rule out potentially dangerous contaminants.  There are so many issues that could make the difference between a supplement that works safely and effectively and another that creates more harm than good.  Here’s one way I like to look at it: We’re all well aware that all cars have four wheels and they all take us from point A to point B.  But we also know that a Rolls Royce is very different from a Fiat.  There is no room for comparison here.  The same principle applies to the realm of supplements – a vitamin C capsule from a certain brand could be completely and totally different from a vitamin C from another brand.    

You will be constantly reading about my take on the various supplement brands that I highly recommend.  I will be even reviewing specific products and sharing with you my thoughts on their level of effectiveness, mode of use and several other important variables.  While we’re on the topic, I am pleased to announce that RenYou is now an affiliate of Life Extension – one of the largest anti-aging organizations and makers of high grade natural supplements and vitamins.  Stay tuned for constant updates on the latest breakthroughs in the realm of natural supplements.   

Until then, remember the next time you go supplement shopping (or browsing) to ask yourself this very simple question, "Am I shopping for a 'Rolls Royce' or a 'Fiat' today?" 


Richard Labaki