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The Health Sciences Institute e-Alert

March 9, 2003


Dear Member,

What do cabbage, rat poison, and yogurt have in common? Believe it or not, they're all things we eat. (Don't be alarmed about the rat poison - there's a good explanation.)

The other thing these three items have in common is that they're all topics that HSI members have asked about in response to a recent e-Alert about milk ("Skimming & Scamming" 3/19/03).

Putting the U in cabbage

If you need calcium in your diet, put down the milk and pick up a head of cabbage. That's the advice from a member named T.G. who sent this e-mail:

"As a Naturopath Chiropractor of 36 year standing I have always been against cows milk. To add to what Dr. Spreen said that the calcium in milk is not absorbed so readily. The calcium content in milk (especially the pasteurized version) is hardly enough to write home about. A small cup of threaded cabbage contains as much calcium as there is in 8 glasses of fresh full cream milk, and that is fresh from the cow.

"On the subject of cabbage, did you know that the core of the cabbage contains a great amount of vitamin U, which is used to heal the intestinal tract? (Not well known fact.) It was discovered in Rumania. I once healed a month old baby with it. The baby had a bad case of reflux and would not hold even Mothers milk in. I told the mother to juice Cabbage cores and give the baby a teaspoon 4 times a day. It stayed in and in one week the refluxes stopped and she is now a grown up woman. Sometimes old remedies do work better than the new."

T.G. wasn't kidding when he said that it's not a well known fact that vitamin U can heal the intestinal tract. When I asked HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., about this he said that he knew about using cabbage to calm intestinal disturbances, but wasn't aware that vitamin U was the active agent.

I did a little digging and here's what I found: In the early 50's, Garnet Cheney, M.D., (a clinical professor at the University of California) successfully treated ulcer patients with raw cabbage juice, and had particular success in treating peptic ulcers - reporting a much faster healing time than conventional treatments. Dr. Cheney called his therapy vitamin u, after the "u" in ulcer. So strictly speaking, there is no actual vitamin called vitamin U - the active agent in cabbage that works wonders on digestion is probably metanoic acid.

The dose is the difference

An HSI member named N.P. has this concern about a typical ingredient in milk:

"I have tried to get people to listen to me, to no avail. I am concerned about the vitamin D3 that is being added to our milk supply, not only in our milk but also in baby formulas such as Similac and Enfamil, and also in organic milk. I researched what vitamin D3 is and found it is rat poison. Why in the world are they adding this to our most important of foods?"

Excellent question. But there's a good explanation. Here's what Dr. Spreen has to say:

"Vitamin D3 is used in rat poison (or, rather, in some rat poisons). It works by massively raising the calcium levels in the blood stream enough to kill the rodent. You give a ton to the animal and you seriously screw up its serum calcium levels and it dies. An adequate dose to kill a rat, therefore, wouldn't kill you, as you weigh so much more than a rat. The doses added to milk, etc., are miniscule by comparison, so milk drinking would not be a problem for that reason.

"The reader brings up another point, one that insinuates itself into a large (and profitable) arena for some big corporations: the USDA has allowed the use of vitamin D3 to be included in the definition (ITS definition, that is) of 'organic.' This gives me another opportunity to warn those interested in organic foods (and we all should be) to read labels carefully, using only the well-established definitions of 'organic' as adopted by individual states such as California and a few others. 'Organic' by USDA standards is in no way the same thing."

Sorting through the dairy case

One of the most common questions I received about milk concerned the value of organic milk. A good example is this e-mail from Kelly:

"If we aren't supposed to drink milk or eat yogurt or limit cheese, how or what are we supposed to eat for our protein and for our calcium? I have started to buy Organic Milk because I fear all the antibiotics that are in the non- Organic milk."

Dr. Spreen's reply:

"Your efforts to obtain organic milk, in my opinion, are well founded (assuming you tolerate milk). Unfortunately, you still run into the raw vs. pasteurized, homogenized issue. I prefer both rice milk and the slightly more expensive almond milk (coconut milk would be even better but access tends to be somewhat limited by locale!).

"I'm not totally against some milk products that are enzymatically converted (cheese), or processed by beneficial bacteria (kefir, yogurt, etc.). They tend to be better absorbed due to the 'pre-treatment.' They therefore tend to be better tolerated, but you can still be intolerant of even these products (and pasteurized ones are less nutritious).

"There are many sources of calcium. Think about this: How do the cows get it to put it into their milk? Green leafy veggies are a great source (...and now I'd add cabbage!).

"Concerning protein, the best quality protein is egg, followed by dairy protein (casein). Soy trails this list, though all are listed with a protein rating of '1.' That's because the soy interests got soy rated as a '1' while the new protein quality numbering system tops out guessed it...'1.' As I'm not against meat (though I am against what our meat industry DOES to our meat), that's a good source of protein if the food is well chewed and we have sufficient acid in the stomach (another argument against taking antacids)."

 Keep 'em coming
...and another thing

I also have Dr. Spreen to thank for sending along an article about garlic that appeared in BioMedNet. A review of recent studies confirms that garlic contains medically active substances with very useful health benefits.

The Journal of Nutrition reports that garlic extract increases cellular antioxidant enzyme levels, resulting in the inhibition of LDL oxidation and the reduction of plasma LDL. This adds new evidence to the theory that garlic may be effective in helping to prevent the buildup of cholesterol and lipid plaques on artery walls that leads to atherosclerosis.

Other recent studies demonstrate that garlic may also be a potent cancer fighter. A report in Molecular Pharmacology, shows that a natural compound in garlic called ajoene can prompt apoptosis (cell death) in leukemic cells. And a study in the journal Nutrition and Cancer concluded that another garlic compound called allicin may inhibit the growth of mammary and colon cancer cells. on the lookout for good cabbage and garlic recipes.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson
Health Sciences Institute

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