Probiotics are beneficial bacteria normally present in the digestive tract. They are vital for proper digestion and also perform a number of other useful functions, such as preventing the overgrowth of yeast and other pathogens, and synthesizing vitamin K. The probiotics most often used as supplements are acidophilus and bifidobacteria.
Cultured, or fermented, foods also contain various types and amounts of beneficial bacteria. These foods in-clude buttermilk, cheese, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, umeboshi, and yogurt.
Progesterone is a hormone that is produced primarily by the ovaries and also by the adrenal glands. It works in partnership with estrogen to regulate menstrual cycles and is important for the maintenance of pregnancy. In addition to its role in the female reproductive system, it has a number of other important effects:
It stimulates the activity of bone-building cells called osteoblasts
Exerts an antidepressant and calming effect in the brain
Helps to regulate blood sugar levels
Plays a role in maintaining the myelin sheaths that protect nerve cells
Progesterone can be used by the body to produce other hormones, including DHEA, estrogen, testosterone, and cortisol, as needed. A deficiency of progesterone, on the other hand, can exacerbate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menopausal discomforts, and may increase the risk of osteoporosis. Progesterone deficiency becomes increasingly common in women as they approach menopause, and can start as early as age thirty-five. Symptoms can include night sweats, hot flashes, depression, and premenstrual discomfort.
Supplemental progesterone is available in cream form. The hormone is absorbed through the skin after the cream is applied, and it passes directly into the bloodstream for transport to sites where progesterone is needed. Natural Woman Essential Body Cream from Products of Nature is recommended.
Red Yeast Rice
Red yeast rice is a food product created by fermenting rice with a strain of red yeast (Monascus purpureus Went yeast). It is also sometimes referred to as Monascus rice or, in Chinese, Hung-chu or Hong-Qu. It has long been used in China and Japan as a food and as a remedy for digestive ailments and poor circulation. More recently, red yeast rice extract, taken in supplement form, has been found both to reduce overall blood cholesterol levels and to improve the ratio of HDL (“good cholesterol”) to LDL (“bad cholesterol”). A study conducted by the University of California-Los Angeles, School of Medicine found that people who took red yeast rice and maintained a low-fat diet reduced their overall cholesterol levels by an average of 40 points over a period of twelve weeks. The extract contains a number of cholesterol-lowering compounds known as statins. One of these is lovastatin, a substance also sold as a prescription drug under the brand name Mevacor. Lovastatin acts to lower cholesterol by inhibiting the action of an enzyme designated HMG-CoA reductase, which in turn limits the rate at which the body produces cholesterol. Studies have shown statins to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart attack. Unlike prescription products, red yeast rice extract has shown no serious adverse side effects in clinical trials.
Royal jelly is a thick, milky substance that is secreted from the pharyngeal glands of a special group of young nurse bees between their sixth and twelfth days of life. When honey and pollen are combined and refined within the young nurse bee, royal jelly is naturally created. This substance contains all of the B-complex vitamins, including a high concentration of pantothenic acid (vitamin 65) and vitamin Bg (pyridoxine), and is the only natural source of pure acetylcholine. Royal jelly also contains minerals, enzymes, hormones, eighteen amino acids, antibacterial and antibiotic components, and vitamins A, C, D, and E. It is useful for bronchial asthma, liver disease, pancreatitis, insomnia, stomach ulcers, kidney disease, bone fractures, and skin disorders, and it strengthens the immune system. This product must be combined with honey to preserve its potency. Royal jelly spoils easily. Keep it refrigerated and make sure it is tightly sealed when purchased.
S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is a derivative of the amino acid methionine that is formed in the body when methionine combines with adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the major source of cellular energy. Taken as a supplement, SAMe has a variety of positive effects:
It is an effective antidepressant.
It is beneficial for disorders of the joints and connective tissue, including arthritis and fibromyalgia.
It promotes the health of the liver.
It may lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is associated with cardiovascular disease.
It may help to slow the aging process.
SAMe works closely with folic acid, choline, and vitamins Bg and B12. It is one of a class of substances called methyl donors. As the name implies, methyl donors are compounds that “donate” units called methyl groups, which contain hydrogen and carbon atoms, to other sub-stances. This process is called methylation, and it is one way in which the body protects itself from damage on the cellular level.
Among other things, methyl donors help to protect against such serious disorders as cancer, heart disease, neurological disorders, and many age-related problems, and facilitate the manufacture of DNA and brain neurotransmitters.
Taking supplemental SAMe may also increase natural levels of glutathione, an antioxidant; phosphatidyl choline, which aids in the metabolism of fats; and the hormone melatonin. A small number of people have experienced minor nausea and gastrointestinal disturbances as a result of taking high doses, but otherwise no notable side effects have been reported. Although SAMe is considered very safe, anyone with manic-depressive disorder (bipolar mood disorder) should consult a physician before taking this supplement. SAMe should always be taken on an empty stomach.