Caffeine May Fight Erectile Dysfunction

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

One of the top selling drugs of all time is Viagra. Can good old caffeine actually give it a little competition?

Perhaps so, if you take the results of a recent study into consideration.

Researchers from Texas found that caffeine intake was associated with a lower risk of erectile dysfunction.

The results were published in the journal, PLOS ONE.

Caffeine Associated With 42% Lower Risk of Erectile Dysfunction

Erectile dysfunction is often the result of poor circulation. Smoking, diabetes, obesity, and advanced age are common culprits.

For the study, scientists sampled data from 3,724 men. Information was collected to estimate caffeine intake and potential issues with erectile dysfunction.

Compared to the men with little caffeine intake (0-7 mg), those who drank the equivalent of 85 to 170 milligrams of caffeine were 42% less likely to report erectile dysfunction. In addition, those who consumed 171 to 303 mg (the amount typically found in 2-3 cups of coffee) were 39% less likely to report the condition.1

Beneficial results were even seen for obese men and those diagnosed with hypertension, but the relationship did not hold true for diabetics.

Caffeine increases blood flow to the penis by relaxing muscle tissue and a network of arteries that provide blood flow to the penis. Previous studies suggested that caffeine may help to prevent impotence.2

Arginine and Carnitine Also Support Sexual Health

Besides caffeine, there are a number of nutrients shown to support sexual function in men. Some of these include carnitine, icariin, and arginine.

Arginine, an amino acid found in meat, enhances the amount of nitric oxide produced by the human body. This in turn increases penile blood flow, a mechanism similar to how Viagra works.

Additional Erectile Dysfunction Suggestions

Want to learn more about this topic? Click here for our detailed health protocol.


  1. PLoS One. 2015 Apr 28;10(4):e0123547. 
  2. J Androl. 2008 Sep-Oct;29(5):586-91.


Parkinson's Linked to Gut Bacteria

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

The cause of Parkinson’s disease continues to evade scientists. Everything from pesticides to environmental toxins have been cited as potential causes. Could we we looking in the wrong places?

Perhaps so, if you consider the results of this latest study. Scientists have found that the gut could be involved in the development of Parkinson’s disease.

The results were published in the journal Annals of Neurology.

Vagus Nerve Surgery Halved the Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s disease develops when the brain loses cells that produce dopamine. Consequently, balance, walking, and coordination are affected. One symptom that is often overlooked is constipation.

For the study, scientists analyzed a population of almost 15,000 people who had vagus nerve surgery. The vagus nerve conducts impulses between the gut and the brain. The nervous system associated with the gut is also called the “second brain”2.

They compared the rates of Parkinson’s disease in people who had their vagus nerve severed partially to those who had it severed totally. Vagus nerve surgery was a common treatment for ulcers in the 1970’s.

They found that participants who had their vagus nerve severed completely were half as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease compared to those who had it severed partially.1

Partial severance did not offer any protection. These scientists suspect that Parkinson’s’ disease begins in the gut and then spreads to the brain via the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the main conduit between the gut and the brain.

People With Parkinson’s Disease Have Different Gut Bacteria

What could this mean for the future of Parkinson’s research? Perhaps scientists will look for answers within the digestive tract. For example, we wouldn’t be surprised to see research examining the effect of probiotics on Parkinson’s disease.

Previous research shows that individuals with Parkinson’s disease have different gut bacteria than people without the condition, and the severity of symptoms correlates with certain species.3

In addition, the presence of certain bacteria in the stomach, such as H. pylori, has been shown to be associated with more severe symptoms,4 further strengthening the link between Parkinson’s disease and gastrointestinal health.

The Bottom Line

Hippocrates once said that all diseases began in the gut. Perhaps he was onto something.

The complex relationship between the gut and brain should be further investigated. And who knows, we may find the answers that we’re looking for there.


  1. Ann Neurol. 2015 May 29. doi: 10.1002/ana.24448. 
  2. Front Cell Neurosci. 2015; 9: 242. 
  3. Mov Disord. 2015 Mar;30(3):350-8. doi: 10.1002/mds.26069. 
  4. Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2015 Mar;21(3):221-5. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2014.12.009.


Curcumin May Fight Melanoma

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

Melanoma is one of the fastest growing cancers in the world. Globally, in 2012, it affected a staggering 232,000 people and resulted in 55,000 deaths.

Interestingly enough, curcumin, from the spice turmeric, may actually help to treat this deadly disease, according to research.

In fact, a new study out of Brazil shows curcumin alone or in combination with another drug may help to stop the progression of the disease.

The results were published in the journal, PLoS One.

Curcumin Reduced Tumor Size and Increased Survival

Melanoma is showing resistance to commonly used chemotherapy, leading scientists to look for alternatives. To complicate matters, it’s often diagnosed in the later stages, making it difficult to treat.

For the current study, mice were inoculated with melanoma-containing cells. They were given curcumin alone or in combination with a chemotherapeutic drug called DTIC (a standard treatment for melanoma) or saline as part of the control treatment.

According to the results of the study, the mice treated with curcumin showed evidence of apoptosis (cancer-cell suicide). This result is remarkable, since melanoma cells are adept at evading this type of mechanism.

In addition, the sizes of the tumors decreased 45% in the curcumin group, 28% in the chemo group, and 67% in the combination group. The tumors increased in size in the control group.

Differences in survival were also noted. The mice in the combination group had the best results, with all mice (100%) surviving. The chemotherapy group had a 40% increased survival and all mice in the control group died after 28 days.

Interestingly, the curcumin induced these effects without showing evidence of toxicity. This held true even for the mice given the combination of curcumin and chemo. Previous studies show curcumin helps to reduce the side effects associated with chemotherapy.

Curcumin Has Anti-Cancer Properties

Over 2000 studies have been published on the anti-cancer properties of curcumin. It shows promise for treating cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, colon, and even pancreas.

Want to learn more about the anti-cancer benefits of curcumin? Click here.


1. PLoS One. 2015 Mar 5;10(3):e0118702.


The ABC's of Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the major stars of the nutrient scene, for many good reasons.

The result has inspired the evolution of fish oil from the not-so-fondly-remembered cod liver oil to the easy-to-swallow fish oil softgels of today. 

Why? Because omega-3 fatty acids are extremely beneficial to your health. In fact, they are one of the few nutrients for which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has actually approved a health claim:

"Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease."

ALA, DHA, and EPA Are The Most Important Omega-3s

Among the omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) are recognized as being the most important to human health.

Alpha-linolenic acid converts to EPA and DHA in the body, but the efficiency of this conversion varies between individuals and is believed to be inefficient.

Hence, we have often heard the advice to supplement directly with EPA and DHA rather than rely on the conversion of ALA to these beneficial omega-3s.

Are Vegetarians Omega-3 Deficient?

Whether they choose to supplement with algae-derived DHA or consume more high-ALA foods, vegetarians need to be concerned about getting enough omega-3s.1

A study published in the journal Lipids revealed a significantly higher omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio, which is a marker of increased heart disease risk, among vegetarians compared to omnivores (a person that eats plants and meat).

However, other components of a vegetarian diet may help to protect against heart disease.

How Can Vegetarians Get More Omega-3s?

While fish and fish oils continue to be the most popular omega-3 source, vegetarians are faced with a dilemma: how to benefit from higher amounts of omega-3 without introducing animal products into their diets.

However, a recent review by Penn State researchers published in Advances in Nutrition suggests that ALA, which occurs in such plant sources as flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, and canola oil, could actually be as viable as omega-3 from fish oil.2

For those who remain unconvinced, microalgae — tiny water-borne plants consumed by fish in the wild which are the source of fish's own omega-3s are now being harvested as a direct source of omega-3, particularly DHA.

DHA is often considered the more important of the EPA/DHA duo, primarily because of its brain benefit that has been demonstrated in the unborn and senior citizens.3-8

The Bottom Line

For those who dislike fish or don't relish the thought of eating them, there are alternative ways to get your omega-3s from sources such as algae.

Whatever your preference, do make sure to get enough of these fats in your diet for optimal cardiovascular health and maybe even a longer life.


  1. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jun 4;100(Supplement 1):329S-335S. 
  2. Adv Nutr. 2014 Nov;5(6):863S-876S. 
  3. Pediatr Res. 2015 Mar 12;77(3):489-97. 
  4. Pharmacol Res. 2013 Apr;70(1):13-9. 
  5. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2013 Jan;37(1):15-22. 
  6. Nutrients. 2012 Jul;4(7):799-840. 
  7. Adv Nutr. 2012 Jan;3(1):1-7. 
  8. Nutrition. 2015 Feb;31(2):261-275.


Curcumin May Relieve Anxiety

Maylin Rodriguez-Paez RN

The spice turmeric is known for a a number of impressive health benefits, but can it also reduce stress?

According to the results of a recent study, the answer may be yes.

Researchers from Iran found that curcumin, a derivative of turmeric, improved markers related to anxiety.

The results were published in the journal, Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine.

Curcumin Decreased Anxiety in Obese Participants

Curcumin helps to modulate key neurotransmitters that are implicated in mood-related disorders. Previous studies have shown that curcumin alleviates symptoms of depression.1

For this recent study, researchers recruited 30 obese participants and they were administered 1 gram of curcumin daily or a placebo for 30 days.

Mood was evaluated using two standardized tests called the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and Beck Depression Inventory.

After two weeks, treatments were switched. The results showed curcumin decreased scores related to anxiety, indicating a benefit for the condition.2

How Does Curcumin Help Alleviate Anxiety?

The exact mechanisms behind curcumin’s mood boosting effects are not entirely known. Managing inflammation, a factor implicated in mood disorders, may be related to the benefits, as are other factors.3,4

Animal research shows curcumin may help to increase levels of DHA in the brain5, an omega-3 fatty acid that has been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Additionally, curcumin combats oxidative stress, a component that is involved in neurodegenerative diseases, anxiety, and depression.

Lastly, we know that curcumin has been shown to decrease cortisol levels.6 Cortisol is a hormone that regulates stress in the human body. 

Overall, the mood-boosting properties of turmeric are multi-modal and deserve a closer inspection. Further studies are needed to confirm its stress-relieving effects.

How to Increase Your Curcumin Intake

Curcumin is a well-tolerated supplement. Up to 10 grams of use per day has been shown to be taken safely.

Some of the side effects related to its use include stomach upset and reflux. For optimal absorption, formulas including phospholipids (a type of fat) and turmerones (oils naturally found in the turmeric plant) are suggested.

They are superior in absorption to preparations containing pepper, in the form of piperine.


  1. Phytother Res. 2014 Apr;28(4):579-85. 
  2. Chin J Integr Med. 2015 May;21(5):332-8. 
  3. Mol Ther. 2011 Oct;19(10):1769-79. 
  4. Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2014 Aug 4;53:23-34. 
  5. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2015 May;1852(5):951-61. 
  6. J Nat Prod. 2009 Aug;72(8):1533-7.

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