Q&A with Dan Lukaczer, ND

Ginkgo: Twice The Leaf, Twice The Dose
Q: I have been taking ginkgo because I've heard it can help prevent memory loss. But I've forgotten what an appropriate dosage would be. Can you remind me?

A: The answer changes all the time, so it can be hard to remember. Most early studies with ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) centered on its effects of improving blood flow and oxygen delivery using dosages of 40 mg three times a day (120 mg total). Although often successful, newer studies suggest that doubling that dose may increase the efficacy. In a study of peripheral arterial occlusive disease at Friedrichstadt Hospital in Dresden, Germany, 74 patients with poor leg circulation received either 120 mg or 240 mg ginkgo daily for 24 weeks. Results were measured by how long patients could walk without feeling pain.

The 120-mg group increased pain-free walking distance by 60.6 meters (from 105.3 m to 165.9 m), while the 240-mg group increased this distance by 107 meters (from 91.3 m to 198.3 m).

Dementia studies also suggest a similar finding. In a study at Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, 74 Alzheimer's patients who took supplements of 240 mg a day showed significant improvement in a three-month trial. Since ginkgo is exceedingly well tolerated and toxicity is very low, I routinely suggest 240 mg a day when prescribing this herb.

Inside Broccoli
Q: I've heard quite a bit about a broccoli extract called indole-3-carbinol. What is the difference between it and the other broccoli extract called diindolylmethane?

A: To answer that question, a little biochemistry is in order. Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) is a secondary metabolite found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and brussels sprouts. A secondary metabolite is formed after an enzyme in the vegetable (myrosinase) is exposed to a phytochemical in the vegetable (glucobrassicin). This can occur only when vegetable cells are crushed or eaten, and is referred to as enzymatic hydrolysis.

Indole-3-carbinol, thus formed, is then broken down in the presence of acid (as in the acid environment of the stomach) to various byproducts such as diindolylmethane (DIM), which are then absorbed.

Why is this important? Because I3C has been shown to inhibit cancer cells in animal cancer models of the mammary glands, liver and lung, and may protect against breast and ovarian cancers. The extract appears to modulate enzymes that detoxify potential carcinogens—although it may be the breakdown products that have this effect rather than I3C itself. Furthermore, it is not clear that DIM is the only important breakdown product.

Certainly DIM by itself has an effect, but these other products also may be important for the cancer-inhibiting action. Most research has focused on I3C; so opt for I3C instead of DIM. Take it with meals so you will have sufficient acidifying capacity in your stomach.

Dan Lukaczer, ND, is director of clinical services at the Functional Medicine Research Center, a division of HealthComm International Inc., in Gig Harbor, Wash.



Dan Lukaczer, ND, is director of clinical services at the Functional Medicine Research Center, a division of HealthComm International Inc., in Gig Harbor, Wash.