May
18
2013

Treatment For Alzheimer’s Failed, But Prevention Succeeds

Recently another news story about a failed drug against Alzheimer’s disease (AD) went through the news media as shown in this link.

Donepezil, galantamine, rivastigmine and memantine are the most common drugs used to attempt to treat Alzheimer’s as this review explains. None of these drugs are a real breakthrough with regard to truly curing AD, as the drugs only achieve a few months of delay in the eventual deterioration of the AD patient’s symptoms. On the other hand there is an overwhelming accumulation of data in the last few years showing that many different factors can prevent AD and dementia. Below I am reviewing all these preventative factors and steps.

Genetic and epigenetic factors in Alzheimer’s disease

Early onset Alzheimer’s disease occurs between 30 and 60 years of age. It is due to a genetic predisposition (mutations on genes of chromosomes 1, 14 and 21). Only about 5% of all AD cases are caused this way. The remaining 95% of Alzheimer’s cases are due to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. Here the causation is due to a combination of genetic, environmental and lifestyle factors. One genetic risk factor in this group is important, namely the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE), which is located on chromosome 19. There are several forms of APOE as this review explains. It also states that there is so much variation between the various APOE forms and even the worst form of this does not necessarily mean that the person who has this will come down with late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. So APOE is presently only used in research projects. Your doctor will only order genetic tests in people who have a strong family history of early onset AD.

There is another genetic marker, the CYP46 gene that was found to be present in some late-onset AD patients. If it is combined in a patient with the APOE gene, there is a much higher chance of developing AD as this review shows.

Epigenetic factors are probably more important than genetic factors for most cases of late-onset AD, as this review explains. Another review came to the same conclusion.

What are epigenetic factors? Exercising, replacing missing hormones, using a calorie restricted, only 15-20% fat containing diet; and taking supplements as listed below that will keep harmful genes in the “off” position and protective genes in the “on” position. Taking these preventative steps is probably more powerful than using any of the presently available medications mentioned above.

Treatment For Alzheimer’s Failed, But Prevention Succeeds

Treatment For Alzheimer’s Failed, But Prevention Succeeds

Exercise, diet, control blood pressure

As already mentioned, these are some of the powerful epigenetic factors that will prevent AD down the road. Controlling blood pressure has long been known to improve cognitive function. It is now evident that there seems to be a problem with microcirculation in brain tissue before it comes to neurodegenerative changes of AD and the underlying deficiency in nitric oxide production in the lining of the diseased arteries. Other research has shown that a lack of nitric oxide (NO) production is also the underlying problem with hypertension.

Green vegetables such as kale, spinach, also cabbage varieties and red beets are a source of nitric oxide and have also been shown to prevent AD at the same time.

Add to this exercise and you have a winning combination for the prevention of AD. You guessed right: exercise increases NO production from he lining of your arteries. When people age their lining of the arteries does not produce as much NO as in younger years. However, there is a supplement available, Neo40 Daily, that can be taken twice a day to compensate for this.

Here is another report about a 30% to 40% reduction in the incidence of AD when people do regular, simple exercises.

More good news about fruit and vegetables: tomatoes, watermelons, pink guava, pink grapefruit, papaya, apricot and other fruit all contain lycopenes, which have been shown to prevent AD.

Recently a new testing tool in combination with a PET scan of the brain has been developed, which may help the treating physicians to assess improvement or deterioration of an AD patient objectively using this method. However, this is still considered to be only a research tool at this time.

Supplements to prevent Alzheimer’s disease

The following brain-specific nutrients play a part in the prevention and treatment of AD (according to Ref.1):

1. B-vitamins: they are important to support the energy metabolism of brain cells.

2. Vitamin C: this has antioxidant properties and prevents brain cells and supportive glia cells from oxidizing.

3. Vitamin E in the form of mixed tocopherols: together with vitamin C has been shown to prevent Alzheimer’s disease

4. Phosphatidylserine (PS), with an intake of up to 300mg/day: counteracts and prevents memory loss.

5. Coenzyme Q10 (ubiquinone), 100mg/day (it would be safe to take 400 mg per day, which is also cardio protective): stabilizes the mitochondria of brain cells and heart muscle cells. It is a powerful neuroprotective agent and supports ATP production (energy metabolism of brain cells).

6. Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba), at a dose up to 240mg/day: increases micro vascular circulation, neutralizes free radicals from oxidation and improves short-term memory.

7. Omega-3 fatty acid and DHA, 1500mg/day: has anti-inflammatory properties.

Other nutrients that hold promise are:

8. Huperzine A, 100 to 200mg/day: natural anticholinesterase inhibitor, derived from the Chinese club moss, surpasses donezepil according to studies by doctors in China

9. Vinpocetine, 2.5 to 10mg/day: comes from the periwinkle plant, increases cerebral blood flow and stimulates brain cell metabolism

10. Turmeric extract (curcumin) is very beneficial in reducing tau protein deposits in AD.

All these statements and dosages are cited from Ref.1.

Hormones to prevent Alzheimer’s disease

According to Ref. 1 there are certain hormones that can prevent AD: DHEA, pregnenolone, estrogen (bioidentical estrogen only).

  1. DHEA is persistently low in AD patients and replacement with DHEA at 50 mg daily has shown improvements in muscle strength and energy of AD patients.
  2. Pregnenolone has been shown to be a powerful memory enhancer in animals and humans alike.
  3. Estrogen, if taken as bioidentical estrogen cream (Bi-Est) can improve brain function. Estrogen is a strong epigenetic switch that keeps a woman mentally younger for longer, but has to be balanced with bioidentical progesterone cream to prevent breast cancer and uterine cancer. A study showed that estrogen replacement early in menopause will cut down on the heart attack rates, but it is also known, particularly when given as bioidentical hormone cream to prevent AD.
  4. In addition progesterone has been described to be of value in the aging woman to preserve brain metabolism.
  5. Testosterone is known to protect against Alzheimer’s disease in the aging male.
  6. Melatonin at a starting dose of 1 mg to 3 mg at bedtime often helps to restore the disturbed sleep pattern, but also augments the effects of the other hormones (Ref.1).

Removal of toxins, particularly mercury

Mercury is extremely toxic in minute amounts and affects brain cells preferentially. Intravenous vitamin C/glutathione treatments as described in this blog will remove mercury from your system including the brain.

It may take 20 to 30 such treatments in weekly intervals followed by a maintenance program every two to three weeks to remove mercury from the body.

Other heavy metals can accumulate in the brain as well and must be removed. This is described here in more detail.

Conclusion

There have been major breakthroughs in prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia over the past few years, many unnoticed by the media. The search is still on for an effective drug that would treat AD when it is present. However, this may be 10 or 15 years away and we cannot afford to wait that long. Instead I suggest that people should embrace the concept of preventing AD by using as many of the factors described above. Both at the 2011 and the 2012 Anti-Aging Conferences in Las Vegas several speakers pointed out that a combination of several preventative factors will be much more effective than one factor alone and they estimated that about 80% of AD could be prevented this way.

References

Ref.1. Rakel: Integrative Medicine, 3rd ed., Copyright © 2012 Saunders, An Imprint of Elsevier. Chapter 9 – Alzheimer Disease. Integrative Medicine: “Kirtan Kriya, Telomeres, and Prevention of Alzheimer Disease”, by Dharma Singh Khalsa, MD

Last edited Dec. 18, 2014

May
05
2013

Get Rid Of Toxins Safely

You often hear that chelation could be done effectively using home remedies. Is that true?

The standard chelation detoxification

I like to mention in the beginning that the proven way to reduce heavy metals in the blood (typically mercury and lead) is by intravenous chelating agents such as EDTA. However, the lowering of calcium levels as a severe side effect limits the application of it. There are also blood-thinning side effects to consider. EDTA is a chemically synthesized compound, not a natural substance. Conversely, vitamin C and Glutathione are both antioxidant substances that the body knows; they are non-toxic and can be used more easily intravenously to remove heavy metals like lead and mercury with fewer side effects than EDTA. Although I think that EDTA has a place in the hands of those who are knowledgeable about the side effects, the vitamin C/Glutathione combination is probably a more physiological detoxification method as glutathione is synthesized by the liver to detoxify our bodies. Intravenous chelation is expensive, requires access to a vein and may not be a suitable way for many people to detoxify. There are natural ways to detox for those who cannot afford chelation or cannot chelate for other health reasons.  The major detoxification organs are: the liver, the kidneys, the gut, the lungs and the skin.

What about oral methods to detoxify?

Several methods of cleansing are fasting, the major cleanse or the raw food cleanse. I would not advise to do strict fasting without fluid intake as it takes fluid intake to be able to dissolve any released toxins into urine, feces, invisible fluid from exhaled air and nasal discharge. Next there is the “master cleanse” with lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper as indicated in the link above. Some people like trendy procedures that are written up in a magazine or in a self-help book. I do not like it, as it reminds me too much of a cookbook approach.

I feel differently about a raw food cleanse as I will explain. First, I like to point out that raw food is not easily digested as your gut absorbs only about 30 to 40% of the nutrients. The cell walls of the vegetables you use are the barrier towards absorption. This is much different, if you put the raw fruit and vegetables into a blender with a high power motor. (There are several brands like the BlendTec or the Vitamix.) The powerful blending process breaks up the cell walls and releases the content of the plant cells including their enzymes and nutrients, so that 80% of the nutrients are absorbed in your gut.

Get Rid Of Toxins Safely

Get Rid Of Toxins Safely

If you use organic ingredients (they do not contain toxins, artificial fertilizer residues etc.) you cannot go wrong! Use spinach, kale, banana, mango, greens, lemon juice, and for fat add some nuts like walnuts, Macadamia nuts, almonds (provided you are not allergic to them). With the help of a powerful blender all this will turn into a liquid drink that actually tastes OK. For protein supplementation I would also add some protein supplement like vegan protein from the health food store, whey protein or egg white protein (good to rotate these protein supplements). This mix is a complete nutritional program as it contains complex carbohydrates from fruit and vegetables, fat from nuts, protein from the protein supplement and fiber (from the whole vegetables and fruit). You will not get hunger pangs as with a fast or the master cleanse. Use the signs of your body as guidance. If you feel energized after 5 days, stop then and return to your normal food intake (zone type diet, a Mediterranean diet or South Beach diet as explained below). Some people have the will power to do 7 to 10 days of the liquid diet described. Good for them, at least they do not starve themselves as the calories and total nutrient content are there while they detoxify. What are the agents that lead to the detoxification process? It is the enzymes released from the fruit and vegetables, the lack of toxins as you only consume organic ingredients , the extra vitamin C from the food and the glutathione contributed from your liver that are working together.

Are there supplements that can help you to detoxify?

Chlorella powder, which you can buy in health food stores, is one of the few supplements that can detoxify your body from heavy metals. As Dr. Mercola describes that in Japan chlorella powder is one of the most popular supplements to detoxify. It is difficult to get a complete, non-biased picture about chlorella. I did an extensive research in MD Consult about the scientific evidence for detoxification by chlorella in humans. Unfortunately the search results came back only for experiments with mice and rats, but there were no human detox results. Perhaps the Wikipedia description about the history of algae and chlorella as a possible food supplement sheds some light on the difficulties getting real hard data on chlorella detoxification. In rats that were deliberately poisoned with cadmium (a heavy toxic metal) no convincing detoxification with chlorella could be detected when cadmium poisoning was stopped. However, the article goes on to say that chlorella did prevent absorption of cadmium from the intestines to a certain extent (in rats).

Liver detoxification and colonic detoxification

Dr. Max Gerson invented coffee enemas many years ago when he treated end stage cancer patients with natural methods. He found that when he detoxified them with raw juices, many cancer patients died from the toxic breakdown products of dying tumor cells. So he was in dire need of a procedure that would remove the toxic tumor substances efficiently.  This is when coffee enemas were used. As the link above describes, coffee given through the colon as an enema (we would perhaps call it “coffee colonics” today) stimulates the liver and the bile flow thus detoxifying the blood effectively of toxic materials. In addition the secretory capability of the large surface of the colon wall also helps the detoxification process. Juicing in combination with coffee enemas improved Dr. Gerson’s end stage cancer cure rates dramatically. Subsequently, Dr. Kelley developed his nutritional-metabolic therapy for end stage cancer patients where he added large amounts of pancreatic enzymes in addition to coffee enemas. Dr. Denis Burkitt is credited for recognizing the importance of fiber in the diet. He noticed that there was a striking difference between the colon cancer rates in England versus the rates in Africa. He analyzed food habits and came to the conclusion that back home there was not enough fiber consumed. A large study done by the Harvard Medical School showed that it was not so much the fiber that helped to prevent colon cancer. Further large scale studies were done and it was shown that a diet high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains was what was responsible for a reduction in colon cancer rates. This type of diet will also help detoxify your system from carcinogenic substances in general and from other toxins as the soluble fiber inside the gut will attach to it and go down the toilet instead of being reabsorbed in the colon into your system causing cancer.

Skin detoxification

The skin is the largest body organ with a lot of skin surface where skin pores can help detoxify under the right circumstances. This can be achieved with infrared saunas, with exercise that leads to production of sweat and by soaking in Epsom salt baths. Traditionally this has been done for centuries in the European spas, originally described by Sebastian Kneipp. The medical establishment in Europe (France, England, Germany, Austria), unlike American physicians, embraced the concept of natural therapies under the term “balneology”, at least for a number of decades. But  overuse by patients (abusing the system), badmouthing the relatively weak effect of detoxifying by Big Pharma and lack of funds from the health insurance companies put a damper on his movement. Part of this approach was the use of skin detoxification with healing baths (using Epsom salt and other salts) and physical exercise to the point of sweating. In addition “Waechselbaeder” according to Sebastian Kneipp (alternating hot and cold baths) were also used to stimulate the circulation and the immune system. The major component of Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate, which can be absorbed through the skin to a certain degree. So, some of the healing effect of Epsom salt baths may have come from an indirect balancing of low blood magnesium and the normalization of many metabolic processes that require magnesium as co-factors. Here is another, more vernacular description of Epsom salt use. Some of the assumptions such as improvement of diabetes, improvement of digestive absorption or relief from migraine headaches may be a combination of exaggeration and placebo effect rather than reality.

Kidney detoxification

The kidneys along with the liver are the major, natural detoxification organs of the body. However, they need enough fluids to dissolve water-soluble toxins and eliminate them from the body through the urine. Clean water should be consumed intermittently during the day (reverse osmosis water in glass bottles or BPA free bottled water). Because alcohol is a cell poison damaging the vital organs like the brain, heart, liver and kidneys it is best to minimize any alcohol intake to the absolute minimum (best to avoid alcohol altogether). The main filtration devices in the kidneys are the glomeruli, little packages of convoluted capillaries, which filter the blood several times per day. High salt intake, too much sugar and too much starch interfere with normal function of the glomeruli. Insulin resistance as is the case with metabolic syndrome and diabetes (often associated with obesity) will damage the filtration devices of the kidneys and cause toxin accumulation. To prevent damage of the kidney capillaries you need a healthy, basic diet like the Zone diet, South Beach diet or the Mediterranean diet as mentioned in this link.

This will keep fat deposits out of your arteries and the capillaries of the glomeruli of your kidneys, so the filtration process continues to work until a ripe old age. Your doctor can order tests (creatinine clearance) to assess whether the filtration capacity of your kidneys is normal.

Many toxins are fat-soluble and are stored in the fatty tissues. When you lose weight, you will need to drink more fluids to get rid of the water-soluble toxins through the kidneys and use coffee enemas to rid yourself of fat-soluble toxins (through bile and bowel movements).

There are a lot of websites that want to sell you herbs that should cleanse your system. They have a marginal effect, but I would stress that you want to adopt one of the diets mentioned above first to start with a healthy baseline. Such herbs as Buchu (Agathosma Betulina), Burdock, Echinacea and Yellow Dock Root (Rumex Crispus) are supposed to help the kidneys to detoxify. I am not certain whether there is medical proof for this.

Conclusion

Detoxification starts with adopting healthy food and lifestyle habits first. A low carb, low fat type diet as indicated (zone diet, a Mediterranean diet or South Beach diet) will be the footing from which the other detoxification methods will work. Some of the toxins will leave you when you work out and sweat. More will leave you when you enjoy an Epsom salt bath. This will give you some extra magnesium, which in turn will help to detoxify your system through several biochemical reactions where magnesium is a co-factor. Colonics or enemas will help remove toxins through your colon and they are more effective when coffee enemas are used (stimulation of your liver through the splanchnic nerves).

Infrared saunas can help to mobilize toxins and detoxify them through your skin. Take ample amounts of fluids as this will help remove some toxins through the kidneys and the urinary system. If major heavy metal poisoning were detected, the traditional intravenous chelation treatments described at the beginning of this blog would be more recommendable. A naturopathic physician or A4M physician (anti-aging physician) could advice you what is best in your case. Overall the thought is that by removing toxins the mitochondria in our cells, particularly in the brain, heart, liver, and kidneys can work more effectively giving you more energy and preventing the major diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes), diabetes, arthritis and loss of cognitive function (Alzheimer’s disease and dementia).

More information about:

1. Chelation therapy: http://www.askdrray.com/tact-study-proves-effectiveness-of-chelation/

2. Vitamins, minerals and detoxification: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/vitamins-minerals-supplements/

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

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Apr
28
2013

April Is Autism Awareness Month

Recently autism was in the news as the wife of deceased Bob Denver, who was the actor Gilligan from Gilligan’s Island and founder of The Denver Foundation to help children with disabilities, has written a book where their son Colin’s problem with autism is described. Autism is a relatively new disease entity. We are now talking about the autism spectrum disorder, as autism is a certain behavior/symptom constellation that is expressed with different degrees of severity in children who are diagnosed with autism. Autism is much more common in males than in females. In the following I will discuss risk factors for autism, then review why it is so important to diagnose autism right away so that treatment for it can be started earlier than in the past.

Risk Factors For Autism

Autism has been found to be due to a combination of factors.

1. Compared to a few decades ago women are often older than 30 and men frequently older than 40 when they decide to have children. But studies have shown that when a man fathers a child at the age 40 or older the risk of the offspring to develop autism is higher than when the father is younger than 30.

2. A woman above the age of 30 is already getting into the older age category from the viewpoint of reproduction where the natural production of progesterone from her ovaries, which is paramount for keeping a pregnancy alive in the first 10 to 12 weeks, is declining. Also, the placenta of a pregnant woman above the age of 30 is not producing as much progesterone as a woman in her early or mid 20’s.  However, a high progesterone production of the placenta is necessary to prevent premature labor. The consequence of this can be that older women give birth to premature, underweight children (Ref. 1 and 2) who are at a higher risk to have neurological problems including autism. Children with a low birth weight have 5-times higher autism rates when compared to children with a normal birth weight. When a woman has gestational diabetes there can be overgrowth of the fetus and like for prematurely born, underweight children there is a definite risk for a baby born much later than the expected date to develop autism.

April Is Autism Awareness Month

April Is Autism Awareness Month

3. There are genetic and epigenetic factors that can trigger autism. Shank mutations are responsible for idiopathic autism spectrum disorders (ASD) both in humans and in mice. This confirms an earlier study from 2006 in France where Shank 3 gene mutations were found in human autism cases. Recently research from Stanford University identified another genetic mutation, namely neuroligin-3 amino acid substitution and a neuroligin-3 deletion, which can be responsible for autism in mice. Epigenetic switches play an important role in the placenta, which according to research from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver/BC is likely the key for understanding autism. Another publication also stresses the importance of epigenetic switches in the development of autism. Stress during pregnancy can lead to changes in placental biochemical pathways, which causes prenatal epigenetic programming in the direction of autism. More research will be done regarding genetic causes of autism. However, it appears that the various research findings are converging to only a few key biological processes.

4. A lack of serotonin from the placenta may lead to autism in the fetus as this publication shows.

5. Certain toxins such as PCB can disrupt the development of normal neuronal pathways in autism as is summarized in this paper. Even a frequently used anti-epileptic drug, valproate (Depacon), has recently been identified as causing a 5-fold increase in autism during pregnancy.

6. In April 2009 a study from the Karolinska Institute investigated a Somalia refugee subpopulation that were found to have high autism rates in Sweden and in the US, due to very low vitamin D levels during the pregnancy. The theory was developed that at least one of the causes for autism can be vitamin D deficiency in the mother’s womb. A lack of Vitamin D may be the epigenetic trigger to change metabolic processes towards those subtle metabolic changes occurring in autistic children.

7. In 2007 this study showed that the typical delay of the diagnosis for autism in the US was about 18 months and that the average rate at this point was 1 in 150 live births.

8. Apart from these factors there are other observations that are closely related to the diagnosis of autism. Children with autism show remarkable brain growth during the first year of life, but subsequently have a period of slowed brain development (Ref.5). There seems to be an inflammatory process associated with the neuropathological changes in the brain resulting in disconnections and a lack of communicative connections between various parts of the brain. This leads to a lack of higher brain functions like speech and social skills. MRI scans have shown specific changes in some severe cases of autism, but this is not uniform enough between cases to use as a diagnostic tool. The author of Ref. 5 uses a “biomedical approach”, which assumes that autism is a syndrome that is genetically based, but triggered by certain factors as listed above (point 1 to 6 and possibly more) during the time of the pregnancy, in the neonatal period and in early infancy. This leads to the changes in the gut (leaky gut syndrome), in the central nervous system, to food allergies, autoimmune reactions and metabolic changes. According to Ref. 5 biomedical practitioners have remarkable treatment successes by identifying where the problems are and treating each one of them.

Diagnose Autism Now

DAN (“diagnose autism now”) physicians who take a special interest in children with autism have shown that an early diagnosis of autism and early intervention with a well-orchestrated treatment protocol can lead to good outcomes, where the child is often losing the diagnosis of autism and developing normally. DAN physicians are changing into the Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs (MAPS), but the goal of helping autistic children early is the same. I have described the multi-step treatment protocol under Ref. 3 in the Net Health Book.

Briefly, a multitude of medical tests is done initially to establish the diagnosis and the severity of autism. This gives the doctor the basis for a personalized treatment approach. A combination of hyperbaric oxygen (HBOT) and detoxification with intravenous chelation treatments can remove toxins and heavy metals from the body. Stool samples can determine whether Clostridium difficile or Candida albicans is present, which are appropriately treated. Dysbiosis , a term to describe an abnormal gut bacteria mix, is common and needs to be rectified with probiotics. If leaky gut syndrome is present (in 43% to 76% it was shown to be present in three different well controlled studies, Ref. 5), this may also point to food allergies and autoimmune problems that have to be addressed as well. Along the line of abnormal gut bacteria in autistic children, new research is considering the development of a vaccine to help normalize gut bacteria.

There appear to be a number of metabolic weaknesses that have to be diagnosed, as there are wide variations among autistic children. Ref. 5 points out that methylation defects in the metabolism are common and the blood is lacking antioxidant enzyme systems. As a result there are weaknesses in the immune system and detoxification of heavy metals (such as mercury) is often slow. There have been many studies, which were reviewed in Ref. 5, where it was shown that multiple vaccinations have not been the main culprit to lead to autism, it is the metabolic weaknesses of an autistic fetus and/or child that led to slow detoxification to the point where exposure to polluted air and seafood, even consumption of seafood of the pregnant mother in the womb, could cause high levels of mercury in the infant (due to methylation, sulfation, and antioxidant deficiencies).

Another observation that is important is that autistic children have 23% lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood than controls and 20% lower levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids (Ref.5). Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation is therefore important. As omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects, it also helps to combat the inflammation mentioned above. Ref. 5 also points out that autistic children are often put on a gluten-free, casein-free (GFCF) diet as autistic children are more vulnerable to food sensitivities, particularly gluten and casein. This is a practice done to prevent or improve on leaky gut syndrome. However, Ref. 5 points out also that testing methods (RAST test, IgE and IgG tests) for gluten and casein sensitivities are unreliable and not reproducible. The only practical method to find out what foods autistic children will tolerate is a painstaking food elimination and retesting program. Whatever food component is suspected to cause worsening of autism is eliminated from the menu for a period of time; it can be reintroduced as a challenge test several months later to see whether it is still causing problems. On the other hand the child needs a balanced nutrition, which can be very tricky with autistic children often being picky eaters.

The key is to pay attention to all of the pieces of the puzzle and to use remedies to address the issues at hand regarding a particular autism patient. This can be quite costly, but those patients with autism who received the benefit of early intervention at the age of 2 or 3 when the diagnosis was first made, became normal children, possibly even more gifted than the average child in their age group.

Conclusion

Whether or not autism exists is no longer the question. The question is how early the treating physician can diagnose it. Under point 7 above researchers found that the diagnosis is often made 18 months too late! With an early diagnosis and early intervention autistic children can grow up to be productive members of society with no residual features of autism. If the diagnosis is missed early on, it develops into a life long disability requiring constant care and supervision. I suspect that it is the epigenetic changes mentioned above, possibly from pollution of our environment and the other factors mentioned that may switch genetic switches into the wrong direction (namely towards autism, autoimmunity, leaky gut syndrome and brain dysfunction). Children are much more sensitive than adults, which would explain the explosion of cases of autism in the last few decades. But looking at the other end of the life cycle (old age) we are also seeing effects on the central nervous system with an enormous increase of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the last few decades. Could there be similarities? Future research will tell.

References

Use of progesterone reduces chance of miscarriage: next 2 references (Ref. 1 and 2):

1.http://www.bio-hormone-health.com/2012/03/26/the-key-role-of-progesterone-in-fertility-conception-and-maintaining-a-pregnancy/

2.http://www.natural-progesterone-advisory-network.com/pregnancy-and-natural-progesterone/

3. Autism chapter in Dr. Schilling’s Nethealthbook.com: http://www.nethealthbook.com/articles/autism.php

4. More on DAN physicians: http://autism.about.com/od/alternativetreatmens/f/dandoc.htm

5. Rakel: Integrative Medicine, 3rd ed.Copyright © 2012 Saunders, An Imprint of Elsevier; Chapter 7 – Autism Spectrum Disorder: Sanford C. Newmark, MD

Last edited April 28, 2013

Apr
07
2013

Caution, Processed Food Ahead

During the last month there have been three large studies that drew media attention regarding healthy food intake. The first study dealt with processed meats (sausages, ham, bacon). Over 12.7 years those consuming 160 Gm per day (=5.64 oz.) were 44% more likely to die prematurely than those who ate only 20 Gm (=0.7 oz.) of processed meat per day. The study included 10 European countries including about 500,000 people over almost 13 years; nearly 10,000 people died from cancer and 5,500 from heart problems.

Then there was the Harvard study that analyzed 114 national dietary surveys around the globe and came to the conclusion that every year there are 180,000 obesity related deaths from overuse of sugary drinks. The US stands third highest on the ranking list regarding deaths from drinking sugary soda pops. The deaths are due to heart attacks, strokes and diabetes, which associate with obesity.

As if this was not enough the third bad news story was published shortly after regarding salt overuse: At a cardiology conference in New Orleans Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, the main author regarding the sugar study mentioned above, revealed a long-term study regarding salt intake between 1990 and 2010 .  He determined that 15% of all deaths that occur around the world every year (which translated into 2.3 million people) are the result of salt overuse. The recommended salt limit is 1500 mg per day. But many people in the study consumed 4000 to 6000 mg of salt per day or more. This led to hypertension, heart attacks and strokes with the yearly mortality rates indicated.

Caution, Processed Food Ahead

Caution, Processed Food Ahead

 

What do these studies have in common and why is processed food so devastating?

All these studies pointed out that processed foods are dangerous to your health. Sausages, ham and bacon contain a lot of fat and salt; they are full of extra calories and they elevate your fatty substances in your blood (triglycerides, cholesterol). The extra salt raises your blood pressure. Processed meat is also poor in omega-3-fatty acids. No wonder that they can cause heart problems and cancer.

Next we have the sugary soda drinks, but also the hidden sugar in starchy processed foods like cookies, bagels, bread and cakes. Dough and pasta digests within 30 minutes into sugar, which your gut absorbs and your liver processes as extra calories to be stored as fat. Where? As visceral fat and subcutaneous fat,  and the end result is obesity. At the same time the sugar from soft drinks and the sugar from starches stimulate the pancreas to produce extra insulin, which leads to hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance. This is known as metabolic syndrome and was found to be an independent risk factor for heart attacks apart from high LDL cholesterol and high triglycerides. We know for quite some time that obesity, diabetes, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome are all associated with a higher rate of deaths from heart attacks and strokes.

Finally, there is the salt overuse story. In 2009 the same Harvard group that gave us the world data on salt mortality now, stated that 102,000 Americans die every year from salt overconsumption. The same study cited that 82,000 Americans die needlessly every year due to their love affair with deep fried foods (due to high trans fatty acids) , and 84,000 die from a lack of omega-3-fatty acids in their diet, which when present in the diet protects from heart attacks and strokes. What does food processing do? It reduces or eliminates dietary omega-3-fatty acids, adds cheap oils containing omega-6-fatty acids (the fatty acids that lead to inflammation), adds salt, sugar and starch. It is the perfect recipe to die from strokes and heart attacks. The same research group from Harvard University did a study in India, published in 2010, where they established that salt overconsumption caused insulin resistance and this was the cause of higher mortality from heart attacks and strokes.

Other studies pointing to the dangers of processed food

Deficits in cognitive function (dementia or Alzheimer’s disease) have been linked to dietary habits, particularly sugar and starch overconsumption. Research has established that hyperinsulinemia or insulin resistance is responsible for the degenerative changes in the brain of Alzheimer patients. This study also pointed out that these diets are typically very low or deficient in omega-3-fatty acids, which is necessary for normal nerve cell metabolism in the brain. The lack of it leads to brain cell disease like Alzheimer’s and a lack of omega-3 fatty acids in nerves leads to damaged nerves which in turn cause excruciating pain.This condition is also known as neuropathy. Here is a good blog about why you should avoid processed foods, if you want to keep a clear mind as you are aging.

In the middle ages it was first observed that overindulging in red meat and sausages caused gout attacks.Gout was known as a disease of the rich. Higher uric acid levels, which are found in gout have been linked to higher mortality rates from heart attacks and stokes. A low purine diet can lower the risk for gout and also the risk for heart attacks and strokes. It is interesting that this type of a diet is also devoid of processed food at the same time.

What can we do to reduce dangers to our health?

We have identified the suspects; it is sugar, starchy foods, salt and processed meats. Instead of just buying precooked meals, boxed foods and other processed foods from the center of the grocery store or from a fast food place, look for original ingredients more at the periphery of the grocery store.  Read food labels and look for sugar, fat and salt content. Start buying organic food and buy the ingredients you need to prepare a meal by yourself. When you start preparing your own meals with organic ingredients, you may as well avoid the toxins that I described in a recent blog.

By buying organic foods, you largely avoid these toxins. Don’t exceed your daily limit of 1500 mg of salt, as your kidneys are not able to process this and would cause you to get high blood pressure. Personally I cut out all sugar and starch from my diet since 2001. This includes potatoes, pasta, bread, bagels, French fries, toast etc. However, you will get enough complex carbohydrates (from vegetables and greens), which get absorbed much slower and do not cause the insulin surge by the pancreas as highly processed carbs would do. You want to eat foods rich in omega-3-fatty acids, but there are problems with seafood (even salmon) as it is often contaminated with mercury. You can circumvent this by taking three capsules of high potency, molecularly distilled omega-3 per day. This is free of toxins and protects your brain and nerves from the dangers mentioned above. Your organic vegetables and greens have enough natural minerals in them that you will hardly ever require to add salt to your food. Do not add extra salt when you cook or when you eat your prepared meals. Use spices instead. Also avoid eating out too often. Restaurants are notorious for overusing salt.

More information on nutrition: http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/nutrition/

Here is a useful blog that helps you to identify the problems with processed food and what you need to do to improve your food intake. http://www.healthy-eating-politics.com/processed-foods.html

Other links:

1. Processed meat: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/07/processed-meat-cancer-heart-disease-death-risk_n_2829092.html

2. Sugary drinks: http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/19/health/sugary-drinks-deaths/index.html?hpt=he_c2

3. Alzheimer’s and pre-diabetes with insulin resistance: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/10/17/carb-diet-alzheimers/1637481/

Last edited Nov. 6, 2014

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Feb
05
2013

News About Your Heart Health

February is heart month every year. So I thought why not review what is new regarding heart health in the last 15 years and put it into perspective. I will start with a review of the older teaching about heart disease and then explain the paradigm shift in medical thinking and how this has changed the approach to heart disease prevention. The anatomy of the heart including coronary arteries and the heart valves has not changed over the years. The heart has always been at the center of life and will remain there. It used to be thought that when a person ages one should expect to get problems with high cholesterol, which would be the cause of hardening of coronary arteries of the heart until one day the person would experience a heart attack from the closing of one or more of the three coronary arteries. Cardiologists can then offer an arteriogram, place a stent to reopen any blocked coronary artery and the patient would be OK for another 5 to 10 years. Alternatively, coronary bypass surgery can be offered by a cardiovascular surgeon to revascularize the coronary arteries. In the mid 1990’s all this changed with the realization that 50% of heart attacks happened in patients who had normal cholesterol levels. Research showed that it was inflammation of the heart vessels followed by subsequent blockage what caused heart attacks. Since then a great deal of research in animal models and with humans showed that a lot can be done in the area of prevention of heart attacks and that very little can be done with regard to improving cure rates when damage to the heart muscle has already occurred. The paradigm shift is in the understanding of what leads to a heart attack. We now know that too much sugar, too many starchy foods and too much animal fat will lead to inflammation of the arteries including the coronary arteries. The reason is that faulty nutrition leads to a lack of omega-3 fatty acids and a surplus of omega-6 fatty acids. This starts the inflammatory cycle, which causes inflammation in the arterial walls followed by rising LDL cholesterol (that’s the bad cholesterol) and falling HDL cholesterol levels (that’s the good cholesterol). Associated with this is a lowering of nitric oxide production in the lining of the arterial walls, which leads to a narrowing of the arterial opening and simultaneous development of high blood pressure. Research of the metabolism of cells, particularly the subunits of cells called mitochondria, shed a new light on the heart as well. It turns out that the mitochondria, which are the energy producing subunits of the cells are abundantly present in those organs that have a high metabolism, such as the heart, brain, liver and kidneys.

News About Your Heart Health

News About Your Heart Health

This newer knowledge allows the prevention-oriented physician to help patients not to get heart disease on the first place by preventing inflammation of the arteries, by adding nitric oxide as a supplement, by changing the food composition, by intervening at the mitochondrial level with the help of supplements and by a regular exercise program. Over the years there have been impressive clinical trials that show that these preventative means when taken together can add 10 to 20 years of productive life without any disability. In the following I am going to describe the rationale for each of these life-prolonging steps:

  1. Preventing inflammation of the arteries: at the moment many people eat the standard North American diet consisting of foods with too much sugar, processed foods with animal fat and lots of pasta. If people switch over to a diet rich in leafy-green vegetables (kale, spinach, Swiss chard) and lean pork, turkey and chicken, this will change the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in favor of omega-3 fatty acids. This has a powerful effect on your body, as the surplus omega-3 fatty acids will suppress any inflammation in your blood vessels, which prevents heart attacks. If you also eat as much organic food as possible, you will in addition reduce the toxic load in your body from heavy metals like lead and mercury and chemicals like herbicides and insecticides that often are contained in regular non-organic foods. By cutting out sugar and refined carbohydrates fasting insulin levels and triglyceride levels fall. This prevents diabetes and keeps your arteries open longer.
  2. By adding nitric oxide as a supplement such as “Neo40 daily” or “Stay young” (both of these supplements have hawthorn and red beet extract in them) the lining of the arteries gets a boost of nitric oxide production thereby lowering your blood pressure and widening the arteries in your body including the coronary arteries. The result is more oxygen and nutrients for your heart cells. By intervening at the mitochondrial level with the help of supplements and by doing occasional intravenous chelation therapy to remove heavy metals you can revive the sluggish metabolism of the mitochondria of your major organs. It’s like you are recharging the battery of your car, just here we are dealing with the microscopic energy packages, the mitochondria, in the cells of your vital organs including your heart.
  3. Certain vitamins and supplements help in this process as follows: D-ribose, alpha-lipoic acid and Co-Q-10 support mitochondria; niacin lowers triglycerides and LDL cholesterol and elevates HDL-cholesterol (the good cholesterol); magnesium is an important co-factor of many enzymatic reactions in your cells and it also lowers blood pressure by widening the arteries making it easier for your heart to pump blood through them. Omega-3 and vitamin D3 both are anti-inflammatories, which makes these two important supplements for heart attack prevention. Vitamin D3 is also important for your immune system and helps to absorb calcium from the gut. Vitamin K2 has been found to be important to help transport the calcium into your bones preventing osteoporosis, so that it does not stay in your vascular system and cause hardening of your arteries by getting into your arterial walls.
  4. Bio-identical hormone replacement therapy is a powerful stimulus for the metabolism of your whole body, but particularly your heart. The heart needs adequate amounts of thyroid hormones and sex hormones (testosterone in males, balanced estrogen and progesterone in females). DHEA is a precursor hormone from your adrenal glands that is required in your hormone balance for support of your heart muscle. The physician can order hormone tests and replace what is missing with bio-identical hormones.
  5. A regular exercise program rounds up your heart support program. A regular exercise program by itself has been shown to be powerful heart attack prevention by cutting heart attack rates into half when compared to a non-exercise control group. Exercise builds up your heart muscle reserves and prevents clogging up of coronary arteries.
  6. Lifestyle changes can have a powerful effect in terms of preventing heart attacks. Everybody knows that those who smoke will not live as long as those who don’t. Smoking accelerates hardening of the arteries and causes not only heart attacks, but also cancer. Perhaps less known is the fact that alcohol can poison mitochondria. Due to the fact that wine also contains bioflavonoids, there have been statistics that showed that 1 glass of wine for women and two glasses of wine for men could prolong life. The wine industry was quick to exploit these statistics for the benefit of their sales. Fact is that even small doses of alcohol are a cell poison. Bioflavonoids are much more effective when taken as part of your daily supplements (resveratrol capsules) and it is much healthier for your heart and other body parts, if you do not consume any alcohol at all.

Originally the Framingham study showed that high LDL cholesterol was associated with heart attacks. But now we know that it is the overconsumption of sugar, high fructose corn syrup and refined carbohydrates in processed foods as well as animal fat overconsumption (mostly omega-6 fatty acids) that lead to inflammation of the lining of the arteries including LDL cholesterol overproduction from the liver. The focus has switched from lowering cholesterol and triglycerides to reducing and preventing inflammation and to supporting the mitochondria of the heart muscle cells. Simple steps as outlined above have the power to prevent about 85% or more of heart attacks. They work by treating insulin resistance through the diet changes, which in turn lowers fasting insulin levels, blood sugars and triglycerides as well as cholesterol. Inflammation is kept at bay. You prevent heart disease and in addition also arthritis, high blood pressure, strokes and Alzheimer’s disease. One of the side effects is weight loss, extra energy and a sense of wellbeing.

More information on heart disease: http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/heart-disease/

Last updated Nov. 6, 2014

Jul
01
2007

Estrogen In Early Menopause Saves Lives

In the June 21, 2007 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine a randomized study of  8.7 year duration the question was examined whether postmenopausal women following hysterectomy would have a higher risk with estrogen replacement therapy than controls who did not take estrogen therapy. The lead author was Dr. JoAnn E. Manson of Harvard Medical School and the method chosen to examine the heart disease risk was a CT of the heart to measure calcium  in plaque of coronary arteries.

Previous research had shown a good correlation of calcification of coronary arteries with the degree of hardening of coronary arteries as shown in this image.

Various dosages of estrogen were used and overall there was a reduction of calcium scores in all of the groups ranging from 22% to 31% when the calcium scores of the estrogen treated patients were compared to the non treated controls. This translated into 36% to 64% less heart attack rates when the treated groups were compared to the controls not treated with estrogen.

The discussion regarding estrogen replacement therapy following menopause is not finished, but women can be reassured that the cardiovascular risk appears to not be as straight forward as research seemed to suggest in the recent past. There likely was a bias in these retrospective studies and the present prospective study is much stronger having been done over 8.7 years following randomization. As this study was done on patients who had previous hysterectomies, there is no concern about uterine cancer. Breast cancer risk was not examined in this study.

Estrogen In Early Menopause Saves Lives

Estrogen In Early Menopause Saves Lives

The authors concluded that low dose estrogen replacement with 0.625mg of conjugated estrogen (Premarine) appears to be safe and has the most beneficial effect on coronary artery health when taken between the ages of 50 and 59. However, the authors also cautioned that estrogen would have multiple effects and may have negative effects on the cardiovascular system in some other way.

Reference: N Engl. J Med. 2007;356:2591-2602

Comment on Nov. 18, 2012:  The real problem of this study is that the authors took the wrong “hormone replacement”, namely Premarine, which is a non-bioidentical estrogen concoction from horses, which translates into an ill fitting key. The human body’s estrogen receptors do not fit this “key”. The proper experimental set-up would have been to use bio-identical estrogen hormones, which are usually given as a cream and would be the perfect key for the human estrogen receptors. This would have to be balanced with bio-identical progesterone to achieve a balance the way it is in a younger woman. We know from other studies that this prolongs life by preventing coronary artery disease, prevents Alzheimer’s disease, prevents strokes and does not cause uterine cancer or breast cancer. Women on bio-identical hormone replacement also retain their normal sex drive.

See this chapter on menopause in the Net Health Book.

Last edited May 9, 2013

Jul
01
2007

Regular Exercise Will Delay Onset Of Alzheimer’s Or Dementia

Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia have become a disease that is dreaded by people approaching middle age. As the population ages it has made its way into the foreground not only for the ageing group but also for younger family members who will face difficult tasks as caregivers to their loved ones.

Research is dealing with a possibility of halting the disease progression, and there are encouraging signs, that more effective treatment will be available, as long as the condition is diagnosed and treated in its early stages.

It is also logical to look at preventative measures. Healthy lifestyle choices have been cited, and a closer look has been taken by Dr. Eric Larson, executive director of the Center for Health Studies of the Group Health Cooperative, Seattle. He reports that it does at this point not seem probable that Alzheimer’s dementia can always be prevented from happening, but the onset can be delayed. Four observational studies have shown with consistency, a 30% to 40% reduction in the incidence of Alzheimer’s when people get regular exercise.

In his own study Dr. Larson looked at 2581 individuals age 65 and over. They were tested for cognitive function and interviewed about their exercise habits every two years. It was found that those who followed an exercise regime 3 or four times per week had a 40 % reduction in the risk of developing dementia compared to those who exercised less than 3 times per week.

Regular Exercise Will Delay Onset Of Alzheimer’s Or Dementia

Regular Exercise Will Delay Onset Of Alzheimer’s Or Dementia

Exercise could consist of at least 15 minutes of hiking, aerobics, stretching, calisthenics, water aerobics, swimming, or weight training. It was also of interest to note that people with the lowest physical performance benefited most from the exercise. For people in the higher age bracket prevention of dementia (and other ills) does not have to be costly. A good pair of walking or running shoes (used more than 3 times per week) will pay a healthy dividend.

More information on prevention of Alzheimer’s and dementia: http://www.askdrray.com/dementia-prevented-with-diet-and-exercise/

Reference regarding the work of Dr. Larson: http://www.news-medical.net/news/2006/05/23/18087.aspx

Last edited December 18, 2014

Mar
01
2006

Dementia Prevented With Diet And Exercise

According to an Australian review a low-fat diet along with physical and mental activity is the best way to avoid dementia late in life.
The Australian team looked at numerous studies and concluded that many drugs and supplements promoted as treatments do not work. They did find that maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and an ideal body weight, staying physically and mentally active and consuming a low-fat diet reduces the risk of developing dementia. Dr. Michael Woodward, lead researcher of the report “Dementia: Can It Be Prevented?” states a very simple fact: any advice that is good for the heart is also good for the brain. A number of dietary supplements and medications have been suggested as being useful in the prevention of dementia, but none of them have been conclusive. One small study from Portugal suggested that even coffee could prevent dementia. It made headlines in the media, especially in the American press. However this was a small study involving only 54 people in Portugal. Another study a few years ago claimed that hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women reduced the risk of dementia. Again, this study got a lot of coverage. The study had a strong selection bias: these women were generally more health conscious, in better physical health and from a more socioeconomically privileged background.

The results of this review are further confirmed by Australian and American researchers led by Dr. Ralph Martins of the Center for Aging and Alzheimer’s disease in Joondalup, Australia and Dr. Samuel Gandy of the Farber Institute of Neurosciences in Philadelphia. They found that overweight and obese people are having a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease than normal weight individuals. Increased body mass index and higher levels of plasma amyloid-beta, which is a key substance in the development of Alzheimer’s, go hand in hand.

Dementia Prevented With Diet And Exercise

Dementia Prevented With Diet And Exercise

Experts in the area of dementia caution that we cannot count on drugs and supplements, instead prevention is the key with dementia, which comes in the form of a healthy lifestyle.

More info about:

1. Research that has revealed a number of causes for Alzheimer’s disease: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/alzheimers-dementia-and-delirium/alzheimers-research/

2. Fitness:  http://nethealthbook.com/health-nutrition-and-fitness/fitness/

The Medical Post, January 24,2006,page 39.

3. Blog showing that exercise delays onset of Alzheimer’s: http://www.askdrray.com/regular-exercise-will-delay-onset-of-alzheimers-or-dementia/

Last edited October 30, 2014

Dec
01
2004

Alzheimers Now Detected Early

A combined American and Swedish Research team has described the compound “Pittsburgh compound-C” (for short PIB), that glues itself onto amyloid plaques in the brains of Alzheimer’ patients. This gluey substance is responsible for the symptoms of dementia that plague the patients. These plaques can be detected by positron emission tomography, a test that is known as PET scan.
This may sound very high tech, but the significance of this is great: it allows researchers to look how Alzheimers begins, shows the progression and also demonstrates how effective drugs are at slowing down or reversing the disease. Dr. Klunk and his colleagues who share the research, note that it is possible to identify patients at high risk of early onset as much as ten years before symptoms of the disease show up. This is now even more critical as several new treatments for Alzheimers are being tested. Also as future medicines become available that work by preventing amyloid deposition, these early testing methods will be of utmost importance.

Reference: National Review Of Medicine, November 15,2004, page 15

Alzheimers Now Detected Early

Alzheimers Now Detected Early

See also the following links regarding Alzheimers:

1. Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/alzheimers-dementia-and-delirium/alzheimers-disease-diagnosis/

2. Link About the Pittsburgh compound and PET scanning

Last edited October 27, 2014

Sep
01
2004

Green Vegetables Preserve Brain Function

Popeye needed spinach for a bulging biceps, but new research points to more exciting possibilities. The regular intake of green leaf vegetables and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage) is associated with a preservation of cognitive function. In the Nurses’ Health Study starting in 1984 women were asked to fill out food-frequency questionnaires. They were asked about their usual intake of a specified portion of food items, including 15 fruits and 28 vegetables. At a later date, between 1995 and 2001, researchers decided to ask the oldest participants (70 years and older) to participate in a cognitive function study. The tests were repeated 2 years later.

The main finding of the study is that women with the highest intake of green, leafy vegetables had the least decline in their cognitive function, when compared to those with the lowest intake. The vegetable lovers, who consumed five serving of cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower had less decline in their cognitive function. On the other hand the highest decline showed up in the group that averaged only 2 servings per week. These findings were significant enough to be presented at the ninth International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease by Dr. Jae Hee Chang, a researcher at the Channing Laboratory of Harvard Medical School. The effect may seem modest, but nutritional habits can obviously delay or prevent the onset of dementia.

Green Vegetables Preserve Brain Function

Green Vegetables Preserve Brain Function

This effect seems to be independent from the beneficial effect of bioflavonoids that vegetables also contain.

Other interesting observations about Alzheimer’s research: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/alzheimers-dementia-and-delirium/alzheimers-research/

Reference: The Medical Post, August 17, 2004, page 8

Last edited October 26, 2014