BFM 89.9 Interviews

Dato' Dr. Rajen M

Supplements as a fact of life

The supplement market has grown to be a massive one, thanks to the unhealthy selection of food that we have now. The hectic urban lifestyle that has pushed us farther and farther away from farmed and home-cooked food has spawned the need for supplements.

“The issue today is you don’t necessarily get good quality food”

Dato’ Dr Rajen M. says, emphasising the basis for supplements. The natural health advocate and columnist states that the need for supplements is increasing with the intake of fast food, processed food, stored food, GM food and chemical-laced food.

According to Dr Rajen, this is never an issue 100 or 200 years ago, when normal food provides for the body’s nutritional needs. Today, much of the nutrition that the body needs is lost when food is being heat treated or radiated.

The body therefore needs dietary supplement to make up for the loss. The need for dietary supplements – addition to nutrition – is validated by various clinical studies and trials around the world. However, Dr Rajen states that the idea of dietary supplement has not always been accepted by the general public.

Many are aware of the debate that is surrounding the supplement business. Even something as widely accepted now as folic acid was dismissed in the 50s, he says.

“Today, a gynae would recommend that to a pregnant woman because we have proven beyond a shadow of doubt that adding folic acid to the diet would get good development of the spine of a child.”

Dr Rajen also cited calcium and fish oil as among the supplements that had to take the long and winding road before they became acceptable to the public.

Citing the GISSI-Prevenzione trial in Italy and Europe involving 11,000 patients who had one heart attack and therefore had very high risk of a second heart attack, Dr Rajen explains that the research arm with patients that were given fish oil had a 45% reduction of a second heart attack.

“One single supplement!” he says, “I would think that even a drug would not work as well in preventing heart attack. And it is so safe, so natural, has no side effects – long term, and therefore you can see that even today the fastest growing segment in the world in terms of supplement is fish oil.

Fish oil, 10 years ago or 15 years ago was pooh-poohed. Today, the American Heart Association recommends this to particularly males over the age of 40 as a supplement.”

The idea of supplements only giving us expensive urine has also cropped up. “Well, I have a different take on this,” he says. “I’d rather have expensive urine than sick urine.”

“A person whose urine is lacking the basic material, which means that the food that they’ve eaten is not enough, every cell is starved, every tissue and organ is starved and you get cheap, sick urine. So I think expensive urine is not necessarily a bad thing, if you look at it from a proper context.”

When it comes to the need for dietary supplement, Dr Rajen says that it could start at a very young age all the way to the elderly. The need comes in different forms depending on one’s lifestyle – children, pregnant and nursing mothers, sportsmen, and those recovering from ailments or surgery.

“Supplements will become and is already a fact of life for a lot of people.”

There have been a lot of studies done all over the world on the consumption of supplements. The studies revealed that people who are more educated and have more disposable income tend to use more dietary supplements.

An interesting finding is that women tend to purchase more supplement.

“Eight out of ten times buyers of supplements at pharmacies are women, who buy for themselves, for their husbands and for their kids,”

Dr Rajen says.

“So it’s almost a proactive response to life – modern living, fast-paced living; processed foods, fast foods, stored foods, old foods, preserved foods, stale foods – all kinds of different foods we get are nowhere as ideal as they were, pristine as 100 years ago or 200 years ago.”

Dr Rajen cautions that dietary supplements are not meant to replace our diet.

“You still need your calories, you still need the protein, carbohydrates and the fats.”

Using an analogy of a car, he explains that a supplement is an additive to make the car work better, not to replace the fuel.

“You need them both, and more and more so today.”

Addressing the confusion between supplements and drugs, Dr Rajen says that a drug is a synthetic substance that produces a benefit, but there is a side effect. Supplements, on the other hand, are natural and do not have side effects, as they work with the body and the system.

Due to the nature of supplements, a person can decide on taking certain supplements on his own. However, if a person has disease process and is on a treatment for it, Dr Rajen says it is best to consult a doctor or health professional before deciding on a supplement.

The same rules apply to supplements as they do to any other products. With the massive market, the average consumer is spoilt for choice. Dr Rajen advises consumers to exercise caution in buying supplements.

“You would like to be able to look for it in a pharmacy, not at pasar malam, and this gives you some professionalism.

Dr Rajen says.

And then if you’re looking at supplements, you want it to be natural, you want it to be food-based; for example, if you’re taking calcium look for milk calcium, which is well established; (and) you want to be dealing with a company with reputation.”

Other pointers shared include how consumers should ensure that the product is sourced properly, and there is clinical evidence and certification. They should also look out for whether it is organic, toxin-free, and if the company makes any effort in guaranteeing or delivering the quality.

“When there is a massive choice, it becomes a commodity, and consumers then have difficulty in choosing a product either in terms of quality or in terms of weeding out the substandard products.”

Commenting on the future of the supplements market, Dr Rajen says that he sees it going in three ways: more savvy manufacturers that result in more concentrated and synergistically combined products; the idea of predictive medicine due to technological advances; and personalised medicine that calls for specific supplements.

“We’re going towards stem cells, and stem cells will be the future supplements. So we’ll put you on stem cells, and we’ll navigate the stem cells with the right kind of nutrients,” he adds.

Dr Rajen's Blog
Dr. Rajen talks about "Supplements as a fact of life" at the BFM 89.9's segment The Bigger Picture on 18th August 2015.

Highly absorbable omega-3 from pristine source

Roe’s the word for third generation fish oil

Fish oil as a dietary supplement has seen changes in form and concentration over the years. Looking back, many may remember taking the syrup form while growing up. That was the first generation of fish oil, according to Dr Rajen, natural health advocate and columnist.

Generations of fish oil

Relating the changes, Dr Rajen explains the focus of every stage or what he refers to as “generation” of fish oil that is developed as a health supplement.

In developing the first generation of fish oil, the whole process was about extracting and filtering the oil from the fish.

The development of the second generation of fish oil, which is widely available in the market, was about the concentration of fish oil in every capsule.

For the third generation, which is the most recent development, the focus is on the concentration of fish oil in the blood.

The key here, as emphasised by Dr Rajen, is absorption. “You want to make sure it’s in your body tissue.” This brings us to MOPL – marine omega-3 phospholipids – the form of phospholipids found in marine organisms.

The basics

What is omega-3? Dr Rajen explains, “Omega-3s are a long-chain carbon and only nature can make them. And the longer the chain, the better.” The long chains and double bonds of the EPA and DHA improve electrical conductivity, he says.

“So they can get to all the tissues, tissues that have high need for electrical conductivity: the brain, the eyes, the retina, and the heart, and maybe to some extent the liver. The other thing is that they are phospholipids. Phospholipids are actually the molecules of life, particularly for the liver, they help the liver, they feed the liver.”


Phospholipids are the key building blocks of cellular membranes. Omega-3 phospholipids usually found in human breast milk are also found in fish roe.

Dr Rajen points out that the difference between the typical second generation fish oil that is harvested from fish and the third generation oil that is obtained from the roe is its phospholipids content, which makes it highly absorbable.

This is what sets Pristin MOPL fish oil from the second generation fish oil. The unique phospholipids structure in MOPL, as Dr Rajen describes, “allows them to enter the membrane because they can dissolve in water as well as oil.”

It also delivers DHA-to-EPA ratio of 3:1, which is the same omega-3 ratio found in human breast milk. Dr Rajen describes it as a “very high form of nutrition” and “the most potent form of DHA on the planet”.

The benefits of MOPL

Apart from the high absorption rate, lies in the synergistic EPA:DHA ratio which could be absorbed by the brain, eyes and heart. It is even beneficial for conditions such as skin psoriasis. While it is an auto-immune disease, the MOPL helps in managing or treating the symptoms.

Additionally, the familiar fishy smell is no longer part of the package. According to Dr Rajen, due to its high absorption rate, MOPL fish oil is fully absorbed by the tissues and therefore will not be present in the stools.

Dosage and cost effectiveness

With MOPL, a smaller dosage of one to two capsules is sufficient for one’s daily nutritional supplement needs, therefore it is more cost effective compared to the previous generations of fish oil.

The recommended daily intake for the first generation of fish oil is four to six capsules, while the second generation of fish oil should be taken two to three capsules daily in order to fulfil the minimum omega-3 requirement as well as to combat inflammation and heart disease.

“I think that this is such a simple, cheap, economical way of preventing or reducing the impact of that in a 20-year time frame,” says Dr Rajen. He recommends Pristin MOPL particularly to those above 40 even if there are no symptoms of health problems such as blood pressure.

Scientific and economic proof

The case of the fish oil’s cost effectiveness had also been presented in a study carried out in the US, where the cost of consuming omega-3 as a supplement was compared to that of placing a defibrillator in every home.

The latter was found to reduce death from heart attacks by 2%, while the cheaper alternative of providing the supplement was found to reduce the deaths by 6%.

Personalising supplements based on individual needs is possible with tests, although at this point these are not available locally. Dr Rajen says a DNA test can be done to decide on an individual’s need for omega-3.


At the same time, he stresses that omega-3 is an essential fatty acid (EFA) that must be taken in one’s diet as it is not produced by the body.

MOPL fish oil is a popular choice in developed countries and it is sold all over Europe, Canada, the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Launched in Asia two months ago, the latest PRISTIN MOPL is sourced from a reputable supplier, Norwegian company Arctic Nutrition, which according to Dr Rajen is the world leader in the marine omega phospholipids market.

With a complete end-to-end supply chain, the company has a patented process that allows it to deliver high quality, high purity, and highly absorbable fish oil. Arctic Nutrition has also ensured that the herring roe, from which the MOPL fish oil is sourced, is sustainably harvested and tested for its nutritional qualities.

Now in Malaysian pharmacies

Available in pharmacies, Pristin MOPL has been in Malaysia for 12 years. Its presence in the local supplement market has been strengthened by the fact that the trademarked brand has been audited by AC Nielsen and named the number one high-strength fish oil for six consecutive years.

While the health prospects are looking good with the availability of a potent form of nutritional supplement such as Pristin MOPL, Dr Rajen cautions consumers not to be reckless. “You still could drop dead from a heart attack.”

“We know that health is holistic, you need many different implements of that: food is one, nutrition is the other.” These, he says, are in addition to resting or sleeping, de-stressing, exercising, and making sure that the heart gets the right amount of work, which he describes as “absolutely critical”.

Pristin official website

Local strains for local diets

Better gut protection from locally derived probiotics in Lacto-5

It is interesting to note that there are more bacteria in our gut than there are stars in the universe. While it is common knowledge that our body harbours many different types of bacteria, the same could not be said about probiotics.

“Probiotics are good bacteria that reside within the gut,” says natural health advocate and columnist Dato’ Dr Rajen M. However, they have not always been there, as we are not born with them. As Dr Rajen explains, “When we were born, our gut was sterile.”

Where do they come from?

Before ending up in our gut, these good bacteria are acquired from our environment starting from the birth process all through our growing and living years. According to Dr Rajen, the first probiotics come from the birth canal and the mother’s nipples.

As we grow, the good bacteria are picked up from our surrounding and food – basically everything we touch and consume – and over time, these will build up to be a colony of bacteria that is synergistic with our system.

Outside the gut, the bacteria exist on the skin, nose, and mouth. Dr Rajen explains that they thrive anywhere in the body where there is a close interface with a living part of the body.

Maintaining the balance

Probiotics make up 10-15% of the bacteria in our gut, and they help to keep the balance in the ecosystem. Ideally, the balance can be maintained naturally, but as Dr Rajen puts it, we live in a modern world where we take antibiotics, chlorine and sugary drink, among others, that make other bacteria thrive and upset the balance.

The consequences of not maintaining the balance can be seen both immediately and in the long term. The immediate effect can be quite obvious, where we could have an upset stomach, constipation or diarrhoea. In the long run, it could affect our immune system and we could be prone to allergies and infections.


“They’re obviously put there by nature over time from birth and have evolved with us, grown with us, and as a result play a myriad of different functions: from just digestion, immunity, cleansing, detoxification, preventing disease, and basically guarding the gut.”

“We also know they help digest food, they ferment and cause the production of certain amino acids, they break down vitamins,” Dr Rajen says about the functions of the probiotics.

Interestingly, Dr Rajen notes that we probably know what is happening in the universe more than what is happening in our gut. This could mean that there may be other functions served by these probiotics in addition to what we already know.

Good bacteria beyond natural food

Probiotics is not only found in natural food. As Dr Rajen previously mentioned, our modern life in a less than pristine environment has resulted in our intakes of antibiotics and other substances that inhibit probiotics. Due to this, there is a need for probiotics in dietary supplements.

Dr Rajen says that although some might argue that they do not need probiotics, he contends that it is not possible unless we live in a pristine environment and take pristine food. The food we take affect the gut bacteria, hence the need for probiotics in supplements.

Are they viable?

While supplements may provide a convenient way of getting probiotics to ensure gut health, there is a concern about whether these probiotics can actually survive and thrive. Dr Rajen points out that although there is a focus on CFU – colony-forming units – there is no analysis on how many of them are actually alive.

Another concern is how probiotics from foreign countries could thrive in our gut. Thirty to 40 years ago, the notion of having probiotics imported from Europe, Australia, Canada, Finland, or Japan was conceived.

However, Dr Rajen says the idea is not a viable one, as local probiotics are better adapted to our diets. The different mix of food that we take could be detrimental to the foreign probiotics, he says, for example, food with preservatives or high intake of sugar would kill gut bacteria.

“The whole trick with probiotics is that you want them to survive in your gut. It’s not like other supplements where they’re digested and thrown away.” Dr Rajen says that the good bacteria must enter the stomach environment where they must be kept alive in order to perform their functions.


In view of the viability of local probiotics that are better suited to our local diets, Holista Colltech, in collaboration with Melaka Biotech, has developed Lacto-5 as a supplement. Since the local strains adapt better to our diets, they could provide optimum protection to our intestines.

Employing the same technology used in sperm banks, the locally derived probiotics are lyophilised, which allows them to be kept suspended without refrigeration until they are brought back to life in the right environment.

The local strains of probiotics in Lacto-5 are suspended at the time of consumption and come alive upon entering the intestines, where they would thrive and perform their functions.

According to Dr Rajen, studies have been carried out in collaboration with a biotech company in India to prove that the local probiotics can actually survive, ferment, multiply and eventually passed in the stools – alive and active – proving that the probiotics taken do not end up as dead bacteria.

Visit for more information on Lacto-5.

Tackling the sexist, bully and thief

Osteoporosis, which natural health advocate and columnist, Dato’ Dr Rajen M, describes as a sexist, bully and thief, is a preventable disease.

It is a sexist disease because it targets women, and a bully due to its tendency to target people of smaller built. The disease is also a thief since it robs people of bone density for years before the effect could be seen or felt.

Citing the largest study carried out in Malaysia called the Asian Osteoporosis Study, he says 44.8% of all hip surgeries in the country involve Chinese ladies over the age of 60. The remaining 45% include Chinese men and Chinese ladies below the age of 60, Indian and Malay men and ladies and those from other ethnicities.


Prevention is possible, according to Dr Rajen. He outlines three ways for the prevention of osteoporosis, which includes eating right, getting enough sunlight, and exercising.

Eating habit is important to ensure that we get the much-needed calcium from natural food sources. Eggs, spinach and anchovies are among the calcium-rich food sources that could naturally provide for our calcium needs.

Something as simple as sunlight can tremendously help in keeping the calcium levels up. Sunlight helps the body in making vitamin D, which enhances the absorption of calcium. Dr Rajen shares that in natural food sources, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, which are required for healthy bones, always come with vitamin D.

In terms of exercises, Dr Rajen recommends weight-bearing exercises to enhance bone strength. He recommends crawling and arching the back, as

“this forces strain on the bone, and the strain will cause the bone to pull in the calcium, magnesium and phosphorus which it needs to keep good bone density.”

Calcium needs and absorption

Osteoporosis is always linked to calcium, and Dr Rajen says we need between 1,000 milligrams to 1,500 milligrams daily. It also depends on gender and how much calcium we already have stored in our body. The lesser calcium we have, the more our body needs it.

It should be noted that calcium intake does not guarantee absorption. Poor digestion, for one, could hinder calcium absorption.

“That’s the reason why as we age, we all tend to lose calcium,” Dr Rajen says.

The lack of sun, consuming certain food that would not bind calcium, and taking drugs that could remove calcium from our system could potentially reduce our calcium levels. Dr Rajen also adds that lack of bone activity could also result in the bones not pulling in calcium.

The myth

A myth surrounding calcium is that it is believed that taking too much calcium could result in an overdose or renal stones. Touching on the myth, Dr Rajen explains that our body understands calcium so well that it will expel the excess, so there is no possibility of an overdose or the formation of kidney stones.

To illustrate this, he says babies do not get renal stones regardless of their calcium intake in milk. He explains renal stones are more common in older people due to the lack of calcium, and this happens because the body is trying to hold back the calcium.

Of course, in this case, Dr Rajen is talking about natural calcium.

Calcium in supplements

Not everyone could get adequate calcium supply from their daily intake of natural food sources, so the best way to provide for our bodily needs is by taking calcium supplements. The best calcium supplement should come from natural sources.

MOO® Plus calcium supplement from Holista, for example, is sourced from milk and has the right ratio of minerals and vitamin D to provide for the body’s calcium needs. According to Dr Rajen, milk is the best source of calcium. “So it’s a very, very positive source.” It is also clinically proven to increase bone density.

However, not all supplements are sourced from milk or natural sources. Consumers should therefore be cautious when purchasing calcium supplement to ensure that the calcium that enters their system is absorbable.

Choosing the right supplement

Calcium supplements come in different forms and sources. In choosing the right calcium supplement, we should look into how much we could absorb, Dr Rajen says, instead of the price. This brings us back to the natural calcium sources.

To check the source, Dr Rajen recommends checking the packaging. “Most calcium supplements are made of calcium carbonate, and calcium carbonate is very poorly absorbed. And calcium carbonate is not real food; it is limestone, it is chalk.”

He says that it is important that we get the calcium from real food source and that most of the supplements available in the market are sourced from calcium carbonate or calcium citrate.

“Look for milk minerals, they’re the best way to get calcium. And make sure that it has vitamin D as well.”

Getting advice

The best person to recommend or prescribe supplements to the end user, according to Dr Rajen, is the pharmacist. This is because a pharmacist is trained on disease process, supplements and nutritionals, side effects, and drug interactions.

Not dismissing the importance of consulting a doctor, Dr Rajen says the doctor is the point of call for diseases and it would be best to consider the points of view from both the doctor and the pharmacist.

Dr Rajen, who has been involved in various pharmaceutical initiatives, says that the awareness on traditional medicine has been on the rise among pharmacists around the world. Pharmacy schools have been putting more emphasis on complementary, traditional, and phytomedicine or nutritional medicine.

Visit Official MOO® Milk Calcium website

Fat and laden with toxins

Are there solutions to these modern life hazards?

We live our lives with an overload of toxins and sugar. Every day we come in contact with toxin-laced food and water; even the air we breathe is not spared. Our consumption pattern is also making us an obese nation.

These are among the most worrying problems that bring with them a host of health issues. The result of toxin overload, according to natural health advocate and columnist, Dato’ Dr Rajen M, could manifest itself in both short-term and long-term consequences.

In the short term, the overload of toxins in the body could cause tiredness and susceptibility to illness. This could be in the form of allergies, rashes, inflamed sinus and frequent headaches, so if one experiences such symptoms, chances are he or she has a high toxin content in the body.

Dr Rajen cautions that if these minor problems are ignored, they could become deeper and deeper, and at the cellular level, the toxins could cause “undue mutation that will later manifest as cancer”. The way to address this is to remove the toxins from our system.


“The human body is a remarkable organism,” Dr Rajen says. He explains that the human body has an amazing system to eliminate toxins. The detoxification process, which is the body’s natural way of ridding itself of toxins, starts when physical activity stops.

When we sleep and stop eating, detoxification starts, and its effects is evident in the morning when we wake up. According to Dr Rajen, the best way to detoxify is to help the body do it naturally instead of interfering with the process.


The body, he says, has glutathione which helps with the detoxification process. “It’s a master detoxifier, and what glutathione does is it will help the body cleanse itself. It’s also a master antioxidant.”

The body’s detoxification capacity greatly depends on the availability of glutathione. It automatically goes up with the increase in the glutathione level, so care should be taken to ensure a steady supply of glutathione to enable detoxification.

The depletion of glutathione could be due to both internal and external factors, which include poor diet, stress and pollution. It also decreases as we grow older or become sick. When this happens, we will not be able to detoxify fast enough, and the effects of oxidation will be more pronounced.

Dr Rajen stressed that glutathione, unlike some substances, cannot be consumed or injected into the body – the cells have to make it – so there is no possibility that it could be taken as a supplement to replenish the depleted supply.

Aiding the process

Ensuring that the body has adequate supply of glutathione is paramount to the body’s ability to detoxify. Since glutathione could not be taken or absorbed, the best way is to help the body in its production.

ClenCella, which is a patented protein complex, helps the body in producing glutathione. Developed in the United States, ClenCella is scientifically proven to increase glutathione levels. Studies that have been carried out show a 200% - 300% increase over a period of a few hours.

ClenCella provides the raw materials so that glutathione can be produced at the cellular level. Taken orally, the raw materials are released upon coming into contact with the body’s enzymes, and the body will be able to produce glutathione. “So we don’t do anything to the body; we just allow the body to make what it needs.”

Visit Official ClenCella website

The fat issue

Apart from the generally poor state of health, obesity is another issue plaguing the nation. We are the fattest nation in South East Asia, and two out of five people are either overweight or obese, with 15% over the age of 30 are obese or overweight.

Expressing his concern, Dr Rajen says that obesity is not only a problem among adults, but also quite an issue among children. They are exposed to so much sugary and starchy food, as well as fast food and processed food that they are practically the victims.

Citing “Fed Up” movie as making a very powerful statement on obesity, Dr Rajen says the message of the movie is how the children of today is the first generation of children who will not live as long as their parents because they are fed processed and fast food, and high-sugar and high-carbohydrate food.

“I’m very concerned, and we all should be,” he says, as obesity is a global pandemic and it is a problem in Malaysia because we are the fattest nation in South East Asia. “That’s a big problem that’s only going to increase.”

It’s not the fat, it’s the sugar

The intake of fats is usually blamed for obesity, but Dr Rajen explains that while fats are high on calories, they do not cause obesity. He cites a famous book which he says talks about the fact that fats do not cause an insulin response or spike the blood sugar.

Since carbohydrate and sugar is very much part of our staple diet, it is not shocking that obesity has become our problem. A bowl of rice, for example, is the chemical equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar, but people rarely realise that.

To counter the digestion of carbohydrate and sugar in our diet, a starch or sugar blocker could be used. In2Bloc Natural Sugar and Starch Blocker works by blocking the amylase enzymes that break down carbohydrate chains, therefore blocking digestion.

Made of brown seaweed from Canada, In2Bloc is clinically proven to reduce up to 48% of the carbohydrate load. The chewable starch and sugar blocker works within three minutes and it will block the salivary amylase at the mouth level.

Dr Rajen recommends In2Bloc to diabetics, mainly because they have a big problem in managing carbohydrates, sugar and starch. It could also be beneficial to those who are overweight, weight conscious, weight sensitive, carbohydrate sensitive and children.

Visit Official In2Bloc website

Costliest Disease Ever Known

(Hint: Not Heart Disease, Cancer or Diabetes)

Chronic pain, based on a US-based study in 2011, surpassed other illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes in terms of costs, both direct and indirect. Dato’ Dr Rajen M, natural health advocate and columnist points this out in relation to arthritis, often associated with chronic pain.

Arthritis is a degenerative joint disease that tends to increase over time. Although it is a very common disease, it is not being widely discussed, leaving so many suffering in silence. Managing the disease is not an easy task, as the chronic pain that comes with it makes daily life such a chore.


In explaining the disease, Dr Rajen says that arthritis is caused by a combination of factors, mainly wear and tear that comes with age, including loss of cartilage and synovial fluid. The wear and tear is worsened by walking and sitting habits, conditions like flat feet and club feet, and inappropriate footwear.

In most cases, those who suffer from arthritis would not even realise it. “Most of the damage is done before we know it, like everything else,” Dr Rajen points out, adding that it usually happens between the age of 25 and 40.

Minimising symptoms

While arthritis is, according to Dr Rajen, “largely irreversible”, he also says that “you can certainly prevent it from getting worse than it already is, or you can slow it down significantly”. He explains that there are some measures that could be taken to minimise the symptoms.

These include improving posture; wearing the right shoes; using back support, knee support, cold and hot compress; eating properly and doing weight-bearing exercises. These will help in improving the condition of the muscles around the joint and allow the joint to have better support.

He also mentions eating properly as one of the measures, as “good nutrition also ensures you have good synovial fluid”.

Cartilage regeneration

Regeneration of the cartilage is possible, even at an advanced age, Dr Rajen says, and there is sufficient scientific evidence on the matter. However, for the regeneration to take place, “it will need the right amount of nutrition and the right type of support”.

He also explains that activity plays a significant role in aiding cartilage regeneration. When a joint is active, it gets the blood supply and nutrition it needs. “And the drainage of the lymph will remove the toxins from the joint and allow the joint to recuperate.”


Commonly associated with youthfulness and beauty, collagen is the most common protein in the body. More importantly, it is the main building block of cartilage, which constitutes 67% of it. About 13% is made of glucosamine and chondroitin.

It has been thought earlier that glucosamine and chondroitin play a key role in helping to reduce the pain among arthritis patients, but of late studies on the effects of collagen have become more prevalent.

Citing the Glucosamine/chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial (GAIT) study, which concludes that glucosamine and chondroitin alone or in combination do not effectively reduce pain among arthritis patients, Dr Rajen says that collagen works far better.

Dr Rajen points out that there is a specific type of collagen found in the cartilage. Studies have shown that the intake of collagen makes some form of regeneration of the joint possible, apart from arresting the decline of the joint.

Bonex for joints

The key, according to Dr Rajen, is to feed the body the raw materials it needs. Based on clinical studies on how collagen could help regeneration, he says, “There are some good supplements that you can take to reinforce and correct the joint imbalance.”

Bonex, a collagen supplement that assists in building and regenerating joints, is a concentrated form of nutrition for the bone. Ten grams of the supplement is equivalent to 2.8 litres or 10 glasses of milk, 1.8 kilograms of potatoes or 110 grams of red meat. It also helps restore synovial fluid.

The patented German technology used in developing Bonex reduces the size of its collagen hydrolysate molecules, which allows for better absorption. “In fact, about 95% of the bioactive collagen peptides are absorbed in the first 12 hours.”

Synovial fluid

The synovial fluid, which acts as lubricant and cushion for the body, also declines with age. It is made largely of hyaluronic acid (HA), which is produced by the body and is found in every joint and tissue. The lack of synovial fluid affects mobility and causes joint pain.

Previously the only way to replenish it is by having hyaluronic acid injections, but now it could be achieved by applying hyaluronic acid gel directly onto the skin. Auxiflex, the world's first transdermal hyaluronic acid gel, helps in restoring the synovial liquid and lubricating the joint.

According to Dr Rajen, the increase in the levels of hyaluronic acid in the blood after the application of the Auxiflex gel can be proven through imaging studies.

Supplement or transdermal gel?

Although the topical application could help in replenishing synovial fluid and reducing the pain, Dr Rajen recommends taking Bonex as a supplement and complementing it with Auxiflex for better management of joint disease.

Dr Rajen, however, warns that while regeneration is possible and joint diseases could be better managed especially with the help of supplements, it would not happen if other steps, such as improving the posture and adopting good walking habits are not taken.

It takes more than supplements to manage the condition, and we should always go back to proper diets, good posture and exercise.

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The tragedy of the most effective spice

This spice beats all the "terrorising" free radicals

Very much like its relative, ginger, turmeric has been widely used in the traditional system of medicine. It has also been documented for its anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and healing properties.

According to natural health advocate and columnist Dato’ Dr Rajen M, turmeric is perhaps the most researched herb, and more researches are currently being done on its medicinal properties, especially as an anti-inflammatory agent.

“Turmeric is probably the most anti-inflammatory compound found in nature,” says Dr Rajen. He says turmeric is even stronger than some of the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) so commonly used to treat inflammation.



Inflammation is the body’s response to something that is not normal or natural, and it always starts as acute. “It’s the body’s natural response to injury, any form of deviation from the norm; the body will create inflammation to make you come back to the norm.”

Inflammation, therefore, by itself is not a bad thing, Dr Rajen says. In fact, he says there are a lot of therapies today that incorporate acute inflammation to allow the body to heal.

However, it is important to note that the acuteness have to be carefully managed. Inflammation becomes a problem when the signs are ignored and the acuteness is not managed, as it will proceed from acute to chronic inflammation, which could lead to various chronic diseases.

The danger in food

While it is generally known that inflammation is usually caused by injuries or certain chronic conditions, it should be noted that certain types of food items could also be the cause. Dr Rajen stresses that foods that have been manipulated and stripped of their nutrients create inflammation.

The types of food that he describes as synthetic foods include trans fatty acids or trans fat, a product of hydrogenation that solidifies oils and prolongs their shelf life. Other foods in our daily diet that contribute to inflammation are white rice, white sugar and refined wheat, which are usually perceived to be natural.

To illustrate how they cause inflammation, Dr Rajen uses sugar as an example. Sugar intake, particularly in large quantities, will spike blood sugar. The body will then throw out a lot of nutrients to bring the blood sugar down and this will bring about insulin, a very inflammatory hormone.

The result is acute inflammation. The danger of food items such as sugar and rice is that they are being consumed daily, and due to that the acute inflammation they cause will, over time, become chronic inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory drugs

Inflammation is often treated with NSAIDs. Not unlike other drugs, there is a host of chronic side effects of NSAIDs, which Dr Rajen says may start off with mild symptoms such as stomach upset that could progress to ulcer.

“Some of the NSAIDS actually can cause heart problems,” Dr Rajen says of the chronic side effects related to the use of NSAIDs. He cites the numerous documented drug recalls over the last 20 to 30 years due to side effects that affect the kidney, liver and heart.

However, even with the various side effects, certain chronic inflammatory conditions still call for anti-inflammatory drugs.

Go back to nature

As a natural health advocate, Dr Rajen always recommends going back to nature to manage any health conditions. Natural supplements should be considered as they usually works with the body and not against it.

“Now if that fails, then you can look at drugs. And even then, you can combine drugs and natural products to keep the drug dosages low.” He also says that people do not have to go on drugs for life.

“You can go for drugs for a certain time or period until you get the inflammation better controlled and go back to natural ways.” In the case of inflammation, turmeric is by far the best alternative to drugs.

The downside

“The only problem with turmeric is it is not water soluble,” Dr Rajen says, adding that this leads to poor absorption. He also says that studies have shown that only 1% out of the overall dose is absorbed.

Due to that, turmeric is taken with milk, pepper or ginger in Ayurvedic practices to increase its bioavailability. Although these help in improving absorption, it is insignificant, as they would only increase the absorption by one or two times.

Soluble turmeric

Since it is found that turmeric is not water soluble, Dr Rajen says that the recent research is more focused on how to increase its bioavailability. Simply adding turmeric to the daily diet is not really an option, as we will need around four cups of turmeric powder daily.

Solumeric, which is basically a soluble turmeric formulation, now makes it possible for us to get the daily dose of turmeric. Developed through a collaboration with a German company, the absorption of turmeric in Solumeric is enhanced by 185 times.

The product works by helping the body in the natural healing process and easing inflammation. The result is relief for joint pain or stiffness of the joints, and better sleep, which is achievable through better management of inflammation.

It’s holistic

Again, as with other conditions, managing inflammation requires a holistic process. Dr Rajen advises a change in lifestyle to avoid the condition from recurring, as no amount of supplement or drugs could be effective if no proper control is being carried out.

This includes avoiding foods that could cause inflammation, exercise, rest, and managing the pain with physiotherapy. “There are a lot of things you can and you should do, because treatment of a disease cannot be just one thing – a drug, or even a supplement – it must to be holistic.”

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Declining Eyesight Directly Affects Brain Function

Keep the window to your world clear

The eyes, the second most complex organ after the brain, are more often than not excluded from discourses on overall health and wellness. The fact is that many do not realise the importance of maintaining eye health until it is too late.

Natural health advocate and columnist Dato’ Dr Rajen M says most people do not understand the crucial connection between the eye and the brain, and those who do are the older people and those with conditions like diabetes and hypertension who have declining eyesight.

The connection

He stresses on the connection, as the eye is the tool for the brain to see. “We all see with the brain,” he says, adding that the eye is just a camera. “So it’s the connection to the brain that matters.”

“The eye represents 65% of all input to the brain and up to 85% of all knowledge gained by the brain,” Dr Rajen says. “The moment there is decline in eye function, the brain function will suffer accordingly.”

There are studies that linked damage to the retina, which is the screen of the eye, to declining brain function, and this illustrates how important eye health is. “The screen of the eye feeds the brain, so when the retina is damaged, malfunctioning or suboptimal, then the brain will accordingly get suboptimal feedback from the eye.”

Myopia and carbs

Short-sightedness or myopia is one of the common eye conditions affecting Asian children, particularly the Chinese. A study carried out in Hong Kong on Chinese children linked a high incidence of myopia to their high carbohydrate diets.

Dr Rajen opines that children are being fed a lot of refined carbohydrates – starch and sugar in various forms – at a very early age. This, he says, will “affect their eye function and therefore their brain function”, and this problem will be more pronounced among schoolgoing children.

“Suboptimal vision could lead to poor school performance, lack of enthusiasm in schooling, dropping out of school; teachers feel that the child is a poor or slow learner. Sometimes these problems can manifest as behavioural problems.”

Are glasses the solution?

Dr Rajen notes that the general outlook among schoolgoing children is that by the time they are 12, about one in three children is wearing glasses. Based on this observation alone, we can see that the situation is not a favourable one.

Glasses, however, may not be the solution. In fact, a study of 94 children in Malaysia by an optometrist Prof Daniel J O’Leary of the Anglia Polytechnic University Cambridge in 2002 showed that wearing glasses may even worsen myopia if it is not done correctly.

Dr Rajen, therefore, warns parents not to decide for their children to use glasses at the hint of an eye problem. “They don’t understand the implication of that in the long-term vision of the child, and possibly the long-term brain function of the child.”

The eye needs exercise too

He also says there is a school of thought that believes that the eye is an organ that needs exercise. To help parents to relate, he says the situation is very much like that of a child with weak legs. Parents would not ask the child to use a walking stick, but would get him to exercise to strengthen the legs instead.

“But very importantly I think you need to exercise the eye and rest the eye,” he says, adding that the children’s habits such as spending long hours on the computers, tablets and phones, and intensive reading put a strain on the eye and weaken the eye, which contribute to eye problems.

Dr Rajen recommends parents who have children with eye problems to use pinhole glasses, which was recommended by Dr Bates in New York about a hundred years ago. The pinhole glasses are believed to force the eye to exercise all its muscles.

Eye diet

Going back to the study that linked myopia to high-carb diets, Dr Rajen says eating right could help to improve eyesight. He recommends increasing the intake of natural whole foods: fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat, and eggs; and reducing the intake of refined processed foods: sugar and starches.

He explains that the excessive intake of processed foods would replace high quality protein and fats such as omega-3 fatty acids. He adds that excessive consumption of refined carbohydrates could cause an increase in intraocular tension – the pressure in the eye.

Make up for the deficiency

Given our modern lifestyle, ensuring an all-natural diet may be unattainable. Taking supplements could therefore help in providing for the eye’s nutritional needs. Dr Rajen recommends Iristal, a natural formula that combines five compounds that are known for their nutritional benefits for the eye.

The eyebright, wolfberry, grapeseed, marigold, and bilberry extracts in Iristal, according to Dr Rajen, are known to have been used in traditional Chinese, Indian and Western medicine in preventing various eye conditions and improving eyesight in the long run.

Looking at our lifestyles and dietary intake, Dr Rajen foresees that the occurrences of eye conditions, especially among children, are only going to increase. Eye health should be taken more seriously, and adding a supplement to our diet may be a good place to start.

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