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Nutrition & Healing - Macular Degeneration

By Dr. Jonathan V. Wright

If you've been told you have macular degeneration, your eye doctor may already have recommended that you take an anti-oxidant vitamin and mineral supplement. While this is an encouraging development in "mainstream" medicine, it's only a tiny first step. Mainstream medical practices offer no other remedies.

Actually, much more can be done to slow down and reverse macular degeneration. Although it can't be done every time, our clinic has helped many individuals with macular degeneration improve their vision dramatically.

    Vitamins, minerals, at least one amino acid and herbs all help to restore vision for those with macular degeneration. But supplements are only part of what's needed. Nearly everyone we've checked needs improvement in digestion and absorption of nutrients also. After working with dozens of people with the problem, it's my opinion that macular degeneration isn't just an eye problem, it's a digestive problem, too. That's why treatment of macular degeneration using intravenous injection of nutrients is often much more successful than just swallowing them. But that's getting ahead of things. First, let's discuss the typical digestive problems.

    Very frequently, in fact almost always, individuals with macular degeneration have stomachs which don't make adequate hydrochloric acid and pepsin to digest their meals properly. many don't make any hydrochloric acid at all!  Without hydrochloric acid and pepsin, protein isn't broken down into amino acid as well as it should be and minerals aren't separated from the food as well as they could be, either. Technically, this problem is called "gastric hypochlorhydria", for inadequate production of stomach acid.

    Unfortunately, most "mainstream" medical practitioners, including nearly all gastroenterologists, deny that gastric hypochlorhydria is a problem. Proper diagnosis and treatment of this problem requires a doctor skilled and knowledgeable in this area. To find one, you might call 800-241-7517.
    Another problem with digestion and assimilation of nutrients common to those with macular degeneration is insufficiency of pancreatic digestive enzymes. Once again, "mainstream" medical doctors usually don't look for this problem, or dismiss it as infrequent.

    Occasionally, supplemental quantities of bile salts can be useful, especially for those who've had their gallbladders removed surgically.
    Certainly, taking the nutrients and herbs we'll go over next is very important to stopping or reversing macular degeneration, but making sure they're digested and assimilated as well as possible can be just as important.

    The key nutrients appear to be zinc, selenium, vitamin E and taurine (an amino acid). Two key herbals are bilberry (European blueberry) and ginkgo. Other nutrients often used include vitamins C and A, beta-carotene and copper.

    I usually recommend zinc picolinate or zinc citrate, 30 milligrams twice daily. Since the zinc usually is needed over a prolonged period of time, it's best to "offset" with 4 milligrams of copper, preferably copper sebacate [seb-ah-kate], taken at a different time of day than the zinc.

    Vitamin E and selenium are frequently mentioned together as they work together in our bodies. For macular degeneration, I usually recommend 800 units of vitamin E and 300 micrograms of selenium daily.

The amino acid taurine is found in very high concentrations in the retina of the eye. It's available in most natural food stores in 500 milligram size. I usually advise two capsules daily, taken together in between meals.

    Bilberry (European blueberry) is available in capsules in a 25% extract. I recommend 80 milligrams, twice daily. Ginkgo is also standardized at 24%. Once again, I recommend 80 milligrams, twice daily.

    If your macular degeneration is severe, it's probably wisest to use these key nutrients and herbals individually. Some of the other people I work with who don't have a severe problem also choose to use them separately for a first few months. However, to make it easier, there are several "combination supplements" available in natural food stores containing all of the nutrients I've mentioned, as well as the herbal extracts and other nutrients, also.

    If you don't improve by swallowing these supplements, don't give up! Remember, that's almost always a problem with digestion and assimilation accompanying macular degeneration, which definitely needs checking into and proper treatment. It'll help your whole body, not just your eyes! If macular degeneration is more than slight, I recommend starting with injections of the key nutrients to make absolutely certain of the best chance for recovery.

    Because of differences in age, sex, metabolism, or potential allergy, these diet and supplement therapies may not be suitable for you. Consult a health care professional skilled in nutritional and natural therapies.  To locate one near you, you might call the American College of Advancement in Medicine at 800-532-3688 or the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians at 206-323-7610.


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