Richard G. Petty, MD


One of the principles of integrated medicine is that anything that’s good for you should have more than one benefit. So omega-3 fatty acids may help with cardiovascular health, mood, memory, attention deficit disorder, as well as the health of skin and bones.

Another one is the blueberry. I’ve been sufficiently impressed by the data on the health benefits of blueberries to have been a regular grower and consumer for years. They contain a number of potentially healthful compounds including polyphenols and anthocyanins, which can help modulate and balance the free radical systems of the body. Remember what I said recently about the value of keeping some free radicals in the body? The last thing that we want to do is to be rid of all of them!

There is reasonably good evidence that regularly eating blueberries can support cardiovascular health and there have been suggestions that they may reduce the risk and aggression of cancers of the prostate and colon.

There is also some evidence in animals that some of the components of blueberries may reduce inflammation and the effects of strokes – interruptions to the blood flow in the brain.

As a consumer, I’ve been carefully watching the growing evidence indicating that blueberries – or some of their constituents may have effects on animal cognition, brain aging and the normal neuroprotective mechanisms in the hippocampal region of the brain.

We do not yet have proof that these same effects occur in humans, and there are always three questions when we look at nutritional data:

  1. Can we extrapolate from the animal to humans? Mice are not men
  2. Are the amounts of blueberries or blueberry extracts even close to what humans could consume without spending all day eating, or getting a terribly upset intestine? There have been countless reports of the benefits of supplements that had to be taken in the most enormous doses to do any good. I’ve mentioned before the problem of L-arginine, which is sold as a “Natural Viagra.” Except that you need to take around nine grams for it to do much good, and most supplements contain less than a tenth of that. Regular readers will also remember my report concerning an article on coffee and sex. It was said that coffee would raise a woman’s libido. And indeed it does, if she drinks at least ten large cups of coffee at once. And coffee is a marvelous diuretic.
  3. When extracts are used, are we sure that we are getting the correct ingredient of the fruit? Many beneficial fruits contain just the right combination of nutrients to help us, so each can be taken in a small dosage or concentration. As with so much in integrated medicine, combinations are key. Take out one extract of a fruit, and you may lose the clinical effect that you wanted.

All that being said, the evidence is becoming progressively more interesting, and there is enough suggestive evidence for me to keep packing away the blueberries.

And just to show that I leave no stone unturned when checking the literature on your behalf, I rejoiced to learn that supplementing the diet of Arctic char with various supplements – including blueberries – improved the quality of his, ahem, semen. I do not know how this information will help any of us yet. Neither do I really know why a fish would want to eat blueberries or any of the other supplements that they were tried on. Though I’m sure that people have often asked similar off the wall questions about some of my research….

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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