Your Questions Answered

by Dr. Stephen Sinatra
Filed Under: Heart Health
Last Reviewed 04/16/2014

When I launched this blog about healthy blood pressure, cholesterol, and other cardiovascular problems, I didn't know what to expect--but I'm thrilled that you've found it. Several questions have been posted lately, and I'd like to respond to a few of them.

My recent post on far infrared sauna generated two questions. Peggy asked if there was any interaction between the far infrared light and estrogen-positive breast cancer or prostate cancer. She says she's read that infrared light can activate cancer cells. Fatma wrote to inquire whether it's safe to use an infrared sauna if you're taking medication to control high blood pressure.

Let me answer Peggy, first. You didn't say where you found the information you referred to, but all of the data I've seen say the opposite is true: Infrared therapy can actually help destroy cancer cells. You see, cancer cells intensely dislike heat. Infrared rays can heat malignancies to a point at which they will die, all without harming the surrounding tissue. There is also evidence that this kind of therapy can make the body more sensitive to chemo and radiation. In addition, far infrared sauna is a great way to detox your body, which can be of great help if you are dealing with the effects of radiation or chemotherapy drugs. So, don't be afraid to give it a try.

Now to Fatma's question about blood pressure medications. There's no harm in giving far infrared saunas a try if you're taking a drug for blood pressure. However, you do have to be cautious. The drug you named was Norvasc, which is a vasodilator. Far infrared saunas also dilate the arteries and vessels, and this effect can be cumulative if you combine the two. So, if you're in a sauna and you begin to feel light-headedness, nausea, or other symptoms of low blood pressure, you should step out immediately and avoid using them in the future. Good luck!

Nancy wrote to ask more about fish oil. She wanted to know if it's possible to consume too much of this heart-healthy supplement.

Actually, it is possible. As much as I love fish oil, optimum cardiovascular nutrition requires that you consume a healthy balance of omega-3 fats (those in fatty, cold water fish and fish oil) and activated omega-6 fats. Activated omega-6s are non-inflammatory and found in black currant seed oil, flaxseed, and oatmeal. They are different from the omega-6 fats in potato chips, many cooking oils, and other processed foods.

The body has an ideal ratio for these fats, and it's about 2:1, activated omega-6s to omega-3s. If you're taking a lot of fish oil for cardiovascular problems or to help alleviate another problem, like joint pain, be sure to eat a bowl of oatmeal at least once a week and consider taking black currant or flaxseed oil, 250-500 mg two to three times a week.

Dan also wrote about supplements, and he asked a question that I'm hearing a lot lately: Do I prefer the ubiquinol or ubiquinone form of CoQ10, and why?

Dan, I understand your confusion. There's a lot of marketing out there that touts the greater bioavailability of ubiquinol. However, I've not found this to be universally true, and that's why I still prefer ubiquinone--so long as it's high quality and hydrosoluble.

Not too long ago, I conducted my own small study with 16 volunteers to compare the two. I used the same high-quality ubiquinone that I recommend to my newsletter readers, and had them take 100 mg twice daily. What I found was that participants had about the same level of CoQ10 in their blood regardless of whether they were taking ubiquinone or ubiquinol. What's more, some of the people who were taking ubiquinol reported unusual fatigue. I've since talked to other researchers and found that they, too, have seen this particular result.

When you combine these outcomes with the price difference--ubiquniol is quite expensive compared to ubiquinone--I just don't see much advantage in going that direction. However, if you want to give it a try for yourself, you can easily ask your doctor to measure your CoQ10 blood levels as you take both forms. You want your minimum results to be > 0.6 ug/mL. The higher the number, the better the supplement is being absorbed.

Finally, John G. wondered about my recommendation of nattokinase, which I often suggest as a natural way to control high blood pressure. He correctly noted that nattokinase is a type of protein and asked how it's possible that it isn't broken down into individual (an inactive) amino acids prior to absorption.

Thanks for this question, John. I should have been more specific in my recommendation because there are some types of nattokinase that are better absorbed than others. I prefer a kind known as NSK-SD. Clinical studies have shown that it is better absorbed when taken orally and more effective than other forms. You can find it through various online retailers, and I also include it in a natto-based supplement that I've formulated for my own supplement line, called NattoPlus.

Thanks again for all your questions. Please keep them coming!

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