Top Ten Reasons to Support the New York Buyers’ Club

As we reach the finish of the New York Buyers’ Club fundraiser, we thought it was time to circulate the “Top Ten Reasons” to support NYBC–in case there are those of you out there who aren’t familiar with the unique contributions this nonprofit co-op and information exchange makes to the lives of people with HIV and/or Hepatitis C.

Learn more and make your donation at

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/empower-people-with-hiv-hep-c-to-thrive

TOP TEN REASONS TO SUPPORT THE NEW YORK BUYERS’ CLUB

1. ThiolNAC. NYBC is the only source for this formula combining two widely recommended and well-researched antioxidants, alpha lipoic acid and NAC (N-acetylcysteine). ThiolNAC is especially useful for people with HIV and those with liver disease. NYBC’s combination formula reduces both cost and pill count.

2. NYBC stocks a unique lineup of high quality, specially formulated multivitamins, including Added Protection and Ultra Preventive Beta from Douglas Labs, and the Super Immune Multivitamin and Opti-Energy Easy Swallow from SuperNutrition, Member pricing for these multis is very low—in fact, Douglas asked us to hide the Member price from the general public!

3. NYBC’s MAC Pack and Opti-MAC Pack provide a mix of antioxidants and micronutrients very similar to those in K-PAX®, but at half the price. (Included in many formularies, K-PAX®, is based on Dr. Jon Kaiser’s 2006 journal article that reported an increase in CD4 count for people with HIV taking the nutrient combination.)

4. NYBC stocks a wide selection of Traditional Chinese Medicine supplements, from suppliers like Health Concerns, Pacific Biologic, and Zhang. (NOTE: Zhang products are available only if you log into the NYBC website as a Member.)

5. PharmaNAC®. This effervescent, extremely stable form of NAC (N-acetylcysteine) supports respiratory and immune function. In particular, it holds promise for people with cystic fibrosis, according to recent clinical trials conducted at Stanford. NYBC has stocked an effervescent form of NAC since 2004, based on its well-supported usefulness for chronic conditions.

6. NYBC specializes in probiotics like Florastor® and Jarro-Dophilus EPS. Probiotics support gastrointestinal health, a foundation for general health. And, a recent review in the Journal of the American Medical Association found probiotics effective for preventing and treating antibiotic-related diarrhea, a common side effect.

7. NYBC monitors and presents to its Members the latest research on supplements to support cardiovascular health, including fish oil, CoQ10, plant sterols, and Vitamin D.

8. NYBC annual membership is a tremendous bargain at $5 (low-income, unemployed), $10 (middle-income), or $25 (higher income). Do you know of any other organization that offers annual memberships as low as $5, yet gives you such significant savings?

9. The NYBC Blog alphabetically indexes more than 400 informative posts, providing the latest research news about supplements in an easy-to-read online format.

10. Yes, you can talk to a live person at NYBC! Our Treatment Director, George Carter, has two decades of experience with supplement research, especially for people with HIV and/or liver disease. Reach him at our toll-free number 800-650-4983.

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The MAC-Pack: a unique multivitamin – antioxidant package for people with HIV

The New York Buyers’ Club continues to stock its multivitamin-antioxidant combination package, the MAC-Pack. At half the price of K-PAX, the MAC-Pack provides a similar package of multivitamin supplementation (with emphasis on the crucial B vitamins), together with acetylcarnitine (especially important, we believe, if you are dealing with neuropathy) and the antioxidant combo, alpha lipoic acid plus NAC (N-acetylcysteine).

A 2006 research study found an increase in CD4 count among HIV+ individuals using this type of multivitamin-antioxidant combination. Dr Jon Kaiser, the study’s author, subsequently developed K-PAX, which has been included on various Medicaid and ADAP formularies, but is often just too expensive for those who must buy it out of pocket.

For more details, see the NYBC entry:

MAC-Pack

Who’s Afraid of Cold and Flu Season? Not NYBC!

As the days get shorter and we approach the end of October, here in the Northern Hemisphere many worry about the Cold and Flu Season. Colds and flus aren’t fun for anyone, and people with compromised immune systems may be especially vulnerable. Here are some recommendations from NYBC, both in the prevention department and in the symptom alleviation department. Using these supplements, we believe, can make the Cold and Flu Season a lot less scary!

Vitamin D. According to some recent thinking, the “cold and flu season” may actually be the “Vitamin D deficiency season.” As the days grow shorter, people get less sunshine, leading to a decline in the body’s levels of this vitamin, which is essential to good health in many more ways than we used to think. Taking Vitamin D during the winter may therefore be one of the most effective ways to prevent colds and flu. Many researchers who’ve studied Vitamin D now recommend at least 2000 IU/day, but those with a known deficiency may be advised to supplement at even higher levels. There’s a simple test available to check for Vitamin D deficiency – ask your doctor.

Cold Away. This blend of Chinese herbs from Health Concerns is designed to “clear external heat and alleviate symptoms of the common cold.” A key component of this formula is the herb andrographis, which in several recent US studies was found to significantly decrease cold symptoms and the duration of a cold; it may also be useful for prevention. (NYBC stocks over 20 varieties of Traditional Chinese Medicine formulas, by the way.)

Vitamin C. Many good studies have shown a decrease in cold symptom duration, but no benefit for prevention. According to a guide to natural products published by the American Pharmacists’ Association in 2006, taking between one and three grams of Vitamin C per day may decrease cold symptoms (sore throat, fatigue, runny nose) by one to 1½ days.*

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) supports respiratory and immune system function. It has been studied extensively for chronic bronchitis. NAC is also the antidote for acetaminophen poisoning, now the leading cause of liver disease in the US. (Acetaminophen’s best-known tradename is Tylenol®, but it’s also found in many other drugs, so it’s become all too easy to overdose–especially when you’re fighting cold or flu symptoms.)

One popular way to take NAC is to use PharmaNAC, notable for its careful quality control, pleasant “wildberry” flavor, and effervescent fizz!

Botanicals. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, astragalus is used for chronic respiratory infections, for colds and flu (both prevention and treatment) and for stress and fatigue. It contains complex sugar molecules called polysaccharides, which some studies show stimulate virus-fighting cells in the immune system. Researchers at the University of Texas and M.D. Anderson Cancer Center have turned up evidence that astragalus boosts immune responses in lab animals, and in human cells in lab dishes.

Probiotics. They say the best defense is a good offense, so consider upping your intake of the beneficial bacteria found naturally in such things as kefir (the lightly fermented milk beverage) and yogurt: they boost the flora in your intestinal tract, which is where an estimated 80% your immune system resides. Also note that NYBC stocks several varieties of probiotic supplements, including Jarrow’s Ultra Jarro-Dophilus, which has helped many maintain healthy digestive function, always a key to getting proper nutrition into your system and thus supporting immune strength.

And this just in: See posts on this blog for Beta Glucan, which, according to very recent research reports, may be of substantial benefit for fighting colds.

*Natural Products: A Case-Based Approach for Health Care Professionals, ed. Karen Shapiro. Washington, DC: American Pharmacists’ Assoc. (2006), “Cold and Flu,” pp. 173-192.

Supplements for the Brain (and Nerves)

“For Your Peace of Mind…”

Recent research on supplements for memory, cognition and other neurological functions
You may remember (we hope you remember!) the Scarecrow’s petition to the Wizard of Oz for a brain. Be advised–we at NYBC do not stock new brains, so don’t come to us with that request.

However, we do follow the sometimes startling new research on supplements, brain function and related neurological issues. In this department, there’s special cause for concern for people with HIV. According to a Canadian study released in 2010, in a group of 1615 people receiving treatment for HIV during the decade 1998-2008, one fourth had neurological problems, including memory loss, cognitive impairment and peripheral neuropathy. Of course being worried about brain function–and neurological function in general–is not unique to people with HIV. As people age, they are more likely to experience memory loss or forms of dementia such as Alzheimer’s. And the nerve condition called peripheral neuropathy (pain, tingling in the feet and hands) is found not just in people with HIV, but also among the growing population with Type 2 diabetes.

Now, on to what we see as some of the most valuable recent findings about supplements and brain or neurological function:

B vitamins can be considered a foundation because they are needed in so many processes essential to the brain’s operation, from energy supply and healthy blood flow, to the formation of neurotransmitters (=chemical messengers of neurologic information from one cell to another). Furthermore, there is evidence that several groups of people, including those over 60 and those with HIV, have a greater risk for Vitamin B deficiencies. So supplementing with a B complex vitamin is a sensible start to cognitive health. More specifically, there is good research linking deficiency of vitamins B12 and B6 to mood disorders like depression—and depression earlier in life is associated with higher risk of dementia in later life. Last, there is also some evidence that B vitamins may reduce stroke risk in older people.

Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) support cognitive health in a variety of ways. In 2008, UCLA researchers reported on a lab study showing that the omega-3 fatty acid DHA, together with exercise, improved cognitive function. This caught our attention, because there is wide agreement that regular exercise strongly supports brain function as we age, and here the suggestion is that omega-3 fatty acids multiply that known benefit. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids/fish oil has also been linked to lower risk of depression—another plus. And still more: recent research found that omega-3 fatty acids block the development of retinopathy, a chief cause of blindness as we age. (The retina of the eye is actually part of the brain–it is full of nerve cells essential for vision.) All in all, the neurological benefits of omega-3 fatty acids seem both wide-ranging and quite convincing, so it’s high on our recommended list.

The amino acid acetylcarnitine has shown benefit for brain function in a number of studies with humans. In the last decade, acetylcarnitine has also been investigated for peripheral neuropathy in people with HIV. (Some recommend using it with evening primrose oil and Vitamin C.) A 2008 study found that acetylcarnitine influences a chemical process in the brain that triggers Alzheimer’s, so researchers are continuing to puzzle out how this supplement produces its neurological benefits.

Antioxidants. There’s much suggestive research about how antioxidants counter destructive oxidative processes in the brain, thus blocking memory loss and cognitive decline. For example, a 2003 report found that the antioxidant combination alpha lipoic acid and NAC reversed memory loss in aged laboratory mice. And there’s also been a lot of attention to the combination acetylcarnitine and alpha lipoic acid for memory impairment. Furthermore, other antioxidants such as curcumin are under study for their potential to fight the processes that lead to declining brain function.

Acetylcholine. The first neurotransmitter to be identified, acetylcholine is closely associated with memory, with lower levels linked to memory loss. NYBC currently stocks two combination supplements that support acetylcholine levels in the brain, while also providing other nutrients for neurological function: Neuro Optimizer (Jarrow), which includes acetylcholine enhancers, acetylcarnitine, and alpha lipoic acid; and Think Clearly (SuperNutrition), which includes B vitamins, as well as acetylcholine enhancers and a botanical traditionally used for cognitive support, ginkgo biloba.

Resveratrol. In the past decade, there has been intense scientific interest in this compound, most famously found in red wine. While some research ventures have hoped to find in resveratrol a life-extending supplement (a capacity demonstrated in animal studies), others have focused on its therapeutic value for conditions like diabetes or cognitive decline. For example, Cornell researchers reported in 2009 that resveratrol reduced the kind of plaque formation in animal brains that causes Alzheimer’s. And a year later another lab investigation, this one at Johns Hopkins, found that a moderate dose of the compound protected animal brains from stroke damage.

Ginkgo biloba, a botanical derived from Earth’s most ancient tree species, has been widely used for cognitive function. In the late 1990s, two reviews of dozens of ginkgo studies concluded that it could improve symptoms of dementia. However, a long-term trial of ginkgo published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2008 found that the supplement did not prevent development of dementia in a group of more than 3000 older people who had normal cognitive function at the start of the research. One possible conclusion: ginkgo may help symptoms of cognitive decline, but doesn’t address underlying causes.

NYBC’s RECOMMENDATIONS: A B complex supplement (like Jarrow’s B-right) and fish oil (like Jarrow’s Max DHA) are foundations for maintaining cognitive health, especially important for people with HIV or people over 60. There is some evidence for acetylcarnitine, alpha lipoic and acetylcholine supplementation for memory impairment and possibly for cognitive decline. Acetylcarnitine and other supplements can be used to address peripheral neuropathy. And stay tuned for emerging research on preserving brain function with compounds like resveratrol, NAC and curcumin.

NAC for respiratory/lung support

The Bastyr Institute, which is the largest natural health clinic in the Northwest US, provides a number of good information sheets about supplements on its website. Here is an excerpt from Bastyr’s review of evidence about the use of NAC (N-acetylcysteine) for respiratory/lung support. The studies mentioned are all quite recent, within the last 10 years, and are large enough and well-designed enough to point to a substantial benefit for those with lung conditions.

Many have noted that, since NAC is readily subject to oxidation, it’s important to find a format that is carefully quality controlled and carefully packaged to obtain the most benefit from supplementation. That’s the case with PharmaNAC, which has consistently been one of the best selling supplements at NYBC’s nonprofit buyers’ co-op. (Please follow link for more details.)

N-Acetylcysteine Beneficial for Chronic Lung Disease

Supplementing with N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) can reduce the need for hospitalization among people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a study in the European Respiratory Journal (2003;21:795–8). The findings of this study provide new hope for individuals suffering from this incurable and often debilitating disease.

COPD is a common condition that consists of a combination of chronic bronchitis (inflammation of the airways) and emphysema (damage to, or destruction of, lung tissue). Symptoms include weakness, shortness of breath, weight loss, and recurrent lung infections. People with advanced disease frequently require supplemental oxygen and have great difficulty performing activities of daily living. Treatment consists of anti-inflammatory drugs, medications that dilate the bronchial passages, and antibiotics to treat infections.

NAC is a compound that is converted by the body into the naturally occurring amino acid cysteine. […] NAC also can break up trapped mucus and enhance its clearance from the bronchial passages, thereby improving the flow of air in and out of the lungs in people with COPD. In addition, NAC is the precursor of glutathione, one of the major antioxidants in lung tissue. Although the mucus-clearing effect of NAC occurs mainly when the compound is administered by inhalation, oral NAC has repeatedly been shown to prevent flare-ups in people with chronic bronchitis.

In the new study, 1,219 people who had been hospitalized for COPD were observed for an average of nine months after they were discharged from the hospital. Those who were prescribed NAC were approximately one-third less likely to be readmitted to the hospital, compared with those who were not given NAC. The risk of hospitalization decreased with increasing doses of NAC. Excluding those who were prescribed less than 400 mg per day, treatment with NAC was associated with an 85% reduction in the rate of readmission.

[…] Long-term use of NAC has the potential to increase the requirement for zinc and copper. Some doctors, therefore, advise people who are taking NAC also to take a multivitamin-mineral preparation that provides approximately 15 mg of zinc and 2 mg of copper per day.

Source: http://bastyrcenter.org/content/view/1007/

NAC + Alpha Lipoic = ThiolNAC

That’s the equation that sums up NYBC’s combination antioxidant supplement, which includes both NAC (N-acetylcysteine) and alpha lipoic acid. These two are among the most researched antioxidant supplements, with studies of NAC covering issues such as pulmonary function, liver function, HIV, while alpha lipoic acid (sometimes called “thioctic acid,” hence the “thiol” part of our product name) has been investigated for liver health, neuropathy, diabetes, HIV. As a combination, they appear in such products as K-PAX and SuperNutrition’s Super Immune Multivitamin.

NYBC’s combination product ThiolNAC was designed to meet the needs of those who can benefit from supplementation with both of these antioxidants. By combining the two in one supplement, there is also a significant savings in cost as well–always one of the main goals of the nonprofit co-op.

For more information, see the NYBC entry on ThiolNAC:

http://nybcsecure.org/product_info.php?products_id=169

(N-)acetylcysteine shows promise in helping drug users quit

The lead story in the October 2010 NIDA Notes–a federal government publication about drug abuse research–reports that the dietary supplement acetylcysteine shows promise in helping drug users quit. Recent studies have highlighted the normalizing effect of acetylcysteine on glutamate, which has been identified as the neurotransmitter (=brain signalling agent) most closely associated with drug-seeking behavior. The supplement showed such a significant capacity to reduce drug-seeking behavior in laboratory animals that it is now being used in a large-scale investigation of cocaine users who are also receiving cognitive behavioral therapy as they try to quit. Researchers noted that, because acetylcysteine already has a well-known safety profile, it was possible to move quickly to a human trial of its effect on drug users in rehab. Other research suggests that acetylcysteine may also be helpful for those trying to quit other substances, including heroin and tobacco.

Read the full story at

http://www.drugabuse.gov/NIDA_notes/NNvol23N2/Medications.html

Note: the supplement acetylcysteine is available at NYBC as NAC (N-acetylcysteine).