Jan
21
2017

Effects Of Metformin On The Gut Microbiome

Matthew Andry, MD talked about the effects of metformin on the gut microbiome. This talk was delivered at the 24th Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine. The congress took place from Dec. 9 to Dec. 11, 2016 in Las Vegas. A lot of the sessions that I attended dealt with the gut flora and how it affects our health. This talk belongs to the theme of what a healthy gut microbiome can do for us.

History of metformin

Dr. Andry is a clinical associate professor of the Indiana School Of Medicine.

He pointed out that metformin has been used for a long time for type 2 diabetes, particularly, if fasting insulin levels are high. Metformin is a biguanide, which was isolated from French lilac (also known as Goats Rue). In the middle ages this herb was used to treat “thirst and urination”. In retrospect we recognize these as symptoms of diabetes. Chemists were able to synthesize the active ingredient in this herb in the 1920’s. Since then it is known as metformin. Dr. Jean Stern was able to show in the 1950’s in clinical studies that Glucophage, the brand name of metformin was able to reduce blood sugar without raising insulin levels. Between 1977 and 1997 metformin enjoyed wide spread acceptance for treating diabetics. Several clinical investigators demonstrated that diabetic patients on metformin lived longer and had less heart attacks than patients who were treated otherwise.

Metformin is the first-line drug in the treatment of type 2 diabetes in children and adults. It is one of the most widely prescribed drugs throughout the world with 120 million prescriptions per year.

Off-label use of metformin

There are many other clinical conditions for which metformin have been found to be beneficial. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), obesity, prediabetes, metabolic syndrome and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis are a few examples of off-label use of metformin. Metformin is also used as an anti-aging agent as it was found to elongate telomeres, which helps people to live longer. Metformin has been identified as a possible cancer prevention agent. In prostate cancer it was found to have an effect against prostate cancer stem cells. Without these cells prostate cancer does not recur after surgical removal.

Action of metformin

Metformin increases the action of an enzyme, AMPK, which leads to lipid oxidation and breakdown of fatty tissue (catabolism). In the liver the metabolic pathway of making sugar from fatty acids, called gluconeogenesis is inhibited. Metformin causes increased uptake of sugar into skeletal muscle tissue. This is the reason for the previously mentioned stabilization of blood sugar. Metformin has two beneficial effects on the liver. First it stabilizes insulin sensitivity. This means that a given amount of insulin has a larger effect on the liver. Secondly metformin decreases the toxic effect of fatty acids on the liver tissue. In other words metformin has a healing effect on non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a precursor to fatty liver and liver cirrhosis. Metformin also has an effect on the appetite center in the brain. It helps many obese and overweight people, but not all to lose weight. The mechanism for that effect is in the hypothalamus, where the appetite center is located. The neuropeptide Y gene expression in the hypothalamus is inhibited by metformin leading to reduced appetite.

Finally, metformin also normalizes the gut flora. This last point was the main focus of Dr. Andry’s talk.

Metformin and the gut

An animal experiment on mice showed in a study published in 2014 that metformin was stimulating the growth of a beneficial gut bacterium, Akkermansia. This is a mucin-degrading bacterium. But it also affects the metabolism of the host. The authors found that metformin increased the mucin-producing goblet cells.

Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria were fed to one group of mice. This group was on a high fat diet, but not on metformin. The mice showed control of their blood sugars, as did the metformin group. In other words manipulation of the gut flora composition could achieve control of the diabetic metabolism. The authors concluded that pharmacological manipulation of the gut microbiota using metformin in favor of Akkermansia might be a potential treatment for type 2 diabetes.

Effect of metformin on the gut flora

Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria comprise 3%-5% of the gut flora. It does not form spores and is strictly anaerobe, in other words oxygen destroys it. This is the reason why it is difficult to take it as a supplement. It is mostly growing in the mucous of the epithelium layer of the gut. The highest number of Akkermansia bacteria is found in the colon, lesser amounts in the small intestine of all mammalian species including the human race.

Here are the effects of metformin on Akkermansia:

  • Metformin increases the Akkermansia bacteria count both in a Petri dish as well as in the gut of experimental mice. This suggests that metformin acts like a growth factor for Akkermansia.
  • Metformin increased the count of Akkermansia bacteria by 18-fold up to a maximum of 12.44% (up from the normal 3-5%) of all of the gut bacteria.
  • Researchers observed that the mucin layer of the lining of the gut in metformin treated mice was thicker. This suggests that the thickness of the mucin layer plays a role in increasing the Akkermansia count.

Effect of the gut on the body’s metabolism

Other researchers have investigated how a high fat diet can change the composition of the gut bacteria, which in turn are altering the body’s metabolism. Essentially a shift in the bowel flora can increase the gut’s permeability. This is called leaky gut syndrome. It leads to absorption of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) from bad bacteria in the gut. The end result is endotoxemia in the blood. This causes systemic inflammation in the body. Insulin resistance and obesity develop and this can be followed by type 2 diabetes. It is interesting to note that the effects of a high fat diet that led to these changes can be reversed by increasing Akkermansia bacteria in the gut or by treating with metformin.

An interesting mouse experiment showed that the changes that take place in the gut bacteria with cold exposure could be transferred to germ-free mice with no gut flora. This changed their metabolism proving that gut bacteria have profound influences on the metabolism. The fact that the gut bacteria have a profound influence on the metabolism is not only true for animals, but also for humans.

Akkermansia Facts

Here are a few facts about the Akkermansia bacteria.

  • The amounts of Akkermansia bacteria in the gut are inversely related to how fat we are. This is measured by the body mass index (BMI). Fat people have less Akkermansia in their guts.
  • A high fat diet lowers the amount of Akkermansia in the gut
  • Systemic inflammation is present with low Akkermansia counts
  • A high fat diet causes gut permeability (leaky gut syndrome).
  • Low levels of Akkermansia causes worsened severity of appendicitis and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Low levels of Akkermansia causes fat storage (both in subcutaneous fat and visceral fat).
  • Low levels of Akkermansia cause insulin resistance (associated with diabetes) and high blood sugars.
  • Increased Akkermansia counts increase brown fat’s ability to burn calories, which leads to weight loss. Decreased Akkermansia counts lead to fat storage (weight gain).
  • Increased Akkermansia improves gut-barrier integrity
  • Increased Akkermansia reduces visceral and total body fat
  • Increased Akkermansia reduces synthesis of sugar in the liver (gluconeogenesis)

We have 10 times more bacteria in the gut than we have cells in our body. The Akkermansia percentage of the gut flora can be decreased from antibiotics or food that contains traces of antibiotics. If there is a lack of Akkermansia species, there is more gut permeability, causing LPS increase and causing increase of inflammation in the body. This translates into high blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes, and degenerative neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or MS. But it can also cause inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune diseases.

What increases Akkermansia?

We can increase Akkermansia bacteria in the gut by eating Oligofructose-enriched prebiotics. Oligofructose belongs into the inulin type soluble fibers. It is found in a variety of vegetables and plants. This includes onions, garlic, chicory, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, navy beans and wheat. But wheat can be problematic. Clearfield wheat is the modern wheat variety which is now grown worldwide. It is much richer in gluten and can cause problems with gut permeability.

Eating lots of vegetables and fruit will give you enough of oligofructose to maintain a healthy percentage of Akkermansia in your gut bacteria.

Metformin as pointed out earlier can be used as pharmacotherapy. But it must be stressed that the use of metformin for dysmetabolic syndrome is off-label. There are real side effects of metformin. Lactic acidosis with an unusual tiredness, dizziness and severe drowsiness can develop. Also chills, muscle pain, blue/cold skin and fast/difficult breathing has been described. Slow/irregular heartbeat, vomiting, or diarrhea, stomach pains with nausea are also listed under side effects.

Effects Of Metformin On The Gut Microbiome

Effects Of Metformin On The Gut Microbiome

Conclusion

Our gut bacteria are important for us, more so than you may be aware of. An anaerobe bacterium, Akkermansia makes up 3%-5% of the gut flora. This bacterium lives in the mucous layer of the lining of the gut and ensures that the gut wall is tight. When these bacteria are lacking (due to consumption of junk foods) the gut wall becomes leaky, which is why this condition is called “leaky gut syndrome”. Irritating toxic substances can now leak into the blood stream and lipopolysaccharides are among them. This causes inflammation in the gut wall, but can go over into the blood vessels and the rest of the body including the brain. High blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and degenerative neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or MS can develop from the inflammation. But it may also cause inflammatory bowel disease and autoimmune diseases.

Eating lots of vegetables and fruit will give you enough of oligofructose to maintain a healthy percentage of Akkermansia in your gut bacteria. In particular, onions, garlic, chicory, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes and navy beans provide lots of oligofructose to support Akkermansia in your gut bacteria.

As pointed out earlier metformin can be used as pharmacotherapy of dysmetabolic syndrome. But it must be stressed that the use of metformin is off-label. It is also important to remember, that with effects there are side effects of metformin.

It may be news to you, how close the health of the gut is connected to our overall health. With the knowledge that food can be your medicine, choose your foods wisely. Add some or all of the above named foods that help you support beneficial gut bacteria, and take care of your health!

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Oct
08
2016

Vitamin D3 Protects Your Brain

More and more studies are showing that vitamin D3 protects your brain. It protects against MS, but also against Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. In the following I will review what evidence there is to support each of these topics.

Vitamin D3 protects your brain from multiple sclerosis (MS)

It has been known for some time that in the northern hemisphere MS is more common because of the lack of sunshine, which in turn produces less vitamin D3 in the skin.

MS is an autoimmune disease where immune cells attack the lining of nerves. Both nerve cells and immune cells have vitamin D receptors. It appears that immune cells are calmed down by vitamin D3 and remission of an MS relapse is more likely.

There are two forms of MS, the relapsing-remitting MS and the progressive MS. The first one (relapsing-remitting) is more common. After a bout of active MS, the illness calms down and the condition of the patient is stable for some time until the next relapse occurs.

With progressive MS there are two forms, primary progressive MS and secondary progressive MS. The primary form is a case of MS where symptoms steadily worsen, without any remission. The secondary form of progressive MS occurs at the end of fairly stable relapsing-remitting MS. Symptoms become more pronounced and the condition deteriorates steadily from there.

Progression and disability in MS patients with various vitamin D3 levels

Dr. Fitzgerald and colleagues published a study in JAMA Neurology in 2015.

They took 1482 men and women who were on interferon beta-1b treatment. This treatment utilizes the immunomodulator interferon beta-1b and reduces the number of relapses in patients with MS. The study took place between November 2003 and June 2005. Results were analyzed between June 2013 and December 2014. The researchers measured vitamin D levels (as 25-hydroxy vitamin D). The vitamin D levels were obtained at baseline, at 6 months and 12 months.

The number of brain lesions were measured by MRI scans. All of the patients also underwent a functional test, called expanded disability status scale. This measured impairment of ambulation, ability to communicate and activity levels.

Results of this study showed marked differences between patients with high and low vitamin D levels. Those patients who had the highest vitamin D blood levels (more than 40 ng/mL) had the lowest rates of new MS lesions. Previous studies had found that a low blood level of vitamin D (less than 25 ng/mL) in patients was associated with a much higher risk of developing MS. Dr. Fitzgerald’s study showed that a 50.0-nmol/L increase in serum vitamin D levels associated with a 31% lower rate of new MS lesions. Patients with the highest vitamin D level of more than 100 nmol/L had the lowest amount of new MRI lesions (47% less than the patients with the lowest vitamin D levels).

Another study showed that a low-dose vitamin D level accelerated MS. There was a 5.9-fold risk converting the initial relapsing-remitting form of MS into the secondary progressive form of MS.

All these studies show that vitamin D3 can decrease the risk of getting MS. In addition vitamin D3 also delays progression in those who have MS.

Vitamin D3 protects your brain from Parkinson’s disease

Vitamin D3 plays a role in preventing Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that causes tremor in muscles, causes balancing problems and eventually can lead to dementia. A metaanalysis was done in 2014 and 7 studies where identified to be relevant. The authors were looking for correlation of vitamin D levels with Parkinson’s disease. 1008 patients were included in the metaanalysis with 4,536 controls.

  • Patients with a vitamin D level of less than 75 nmol/L had a 1.5-fold higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease than the controls.
  • Patients with a vitamin D level of less than 50 nmol/L were at a 2.2-fold higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease.

Another metaanalysis utilized 5,690 Parkinson’s disease patients and 21251 matched controls.

It found that vitamin D levels of less than 20 ng/ml were associated with a risk of 2.08-fold to develop Parkinson’s disease. Interestingly, vitamin D3 supplementation reduced the risk of Parkinson’s disease by 38%. Outdoor work reduced the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease by 28%.

Vitamin D3 protects your brain from Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease of old age. We know that it is much more common in patients with type 2 diabetes where insulin levels are high. Studies have shown that Alzheimer’s disease can be termed type 3 diabetes.

The resulting neurofibrillary tangles and amyloid-beta deposits damage nerve cells, which are responsible for the memory loss and the profound personality changes in these patients.

What does vitamin D3 have to do with this?

A 2014 study showed that a low vitamin D level was associated with a high risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Specifically the following observations were made.

  • Vitamin D level of less than 10 ng/ml: 122% increased risk of Alzheimer’s
  • Vitamin D level 10 to 20 ng/ml: 51% increased risk of Alzheimer’s

The same research group found in two trials that vitamin D deficiency leads to visual memory decline, but not to verbal memory decline.

Vitamin D3 combined with metformin suppresses cancer

The newest development with respect to vitamin D3 is the finding that it also has anti-cancer effects. Dr. Li demonstrated that vitamin D reduced prostate cancer cell line growth by 45% while metformin alone reduced it by 28%.

But when both vitamin D and metformin were present in the cell cultures there was growth inhibition of 86%. Dr. Li explained that vitamin D potentiated the growth inhibitory effect of metformin.

Vitamin D3 protects your brain: guidelines to proper vitamin D3 dosing

For years the medical profession stated that 400 IU of vitamin D3 would be enough supplementation. It may be enough to prevent rickets in children. But these low doses will be insufficient in many patients who are deficient for vitamin D to prevent MS, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease or cancer.

A study on medical staff in Northern India showed that 85% of the staff had very low vitamin D levels of less than 10 ng/ml.

It took high doses of vitamin D3 to increase the vitamin D level in the blood.

Generally supplements of vitamin D3 of 5000 IU to 8000 IU are the norm now. But some patients are poor absorbers and they may require 15,000 IU per day. What the patients need can be easily determined by doing repeat vitamin D blood levels (as 25-hydroxy vitamin D). The goal is to reach a level of 50-80 ng/ml. The optimal level with regard to nmol/L is 80 to 200 (according to Rocky Mountain Analytical, Calgary, AB, Canada).

Vitamin D3 Protects Your Brain

Vitamin D3 Protects Your Brain

Conclusion

Many people are deficient with regard to vitamin D, and they do not know it. The most important thing is to do a vitamin D blood test to assess your vitamin D status.

We know for a long time that vitamin D plays a role in bone metabolism and this is why women approaching menopause often need vitamin D3 supplementation. But it may come to you as news that vitamin D3 also protects from MS, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, as indicated above, we know that many cancers are suppressed by taking vitamin D3 regularly.

When you realize that all body cells have vitamin D receptors on their surface, it is no surprise that vitamin D3 is so important to take. The vitamin D3 receptors must be there for a reason. If your body is deprived of this valuable vitamin, the high risk of degenerative diseases will be the consequence.

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Apr
25
2015

Rejuvenate With Stem Cells

We all age; but can we rejuvenate with stem cells? There is a limit to detoxification, to eating organic food, to exercising, to the effects of vitamins and supplements and even to the effect of bioidentical hormone replacements. The limit comes from our telomeres and from stem cells that get depleted in our body as we age. Some researchers report that in regions where we suffer from a disease stem cells are even more depleted than in the rest of the body.

We do not have all the answers yet. We would like to know why our stem cells in the fatty tissue or in the bone marrow do not migrate on their own into an aching back or a sore shoulder. There are all the aches and pains associated with old age. So, why do our own stem cells not help us? They seem to be locked away in fatty tissue and in bone marrow.

At the 22nd Annual World Congress on Anti-Aging Medicine in Las Vegas (Dec. 10-14, 2014) I learnt that there is a group of stem cell experts in California with affiliates all over the US. They simply take stem cells from the fatty tissue and sometimes also from the bone marrow, isolate the stem cells through a stem cell separator and infuse the stem cell rich fraction (minus fatty and connective tissue) in a bit of saline solution back into the vein of the patient. When the stem cells are in the blood stream, they get activated by the growth factors that are present in blood and can now find where they are needed and start the healing process.

Studies have shown that when stem cells are in circulation in the blood, they are very sensitive to signals from tissues that indicate that there is an inflammatory process. This is why stem cells will repair arthritic changes. The can repair a torn meniscus, a rotator cuff tear in the shoulder or repair a weak immune system. The interesting observation is that stem cells from fatty tissue, also termed mesenchymal stem cells, are pluripotent. This means they can develop into cartilage building cells (chondrocytes) and build up cartilage; this is badly needed in a person with severe osteoarthritis. But stem cells are flexible: they can turn into meniscus cells in a knee with a torn meniscus. They also can repair the damage and relief the patient of the chronic pain. In a shoulder with a rotator cuff tear they can turn into a tough ligamentous material mending the tear.

Some data even indicates that circulating stem cells can repair vital organs like the brain, heart, liver, kidneys and bone marrow; these latter observations were mostly done in animal experiments, but human data is starting to be published in the medical literature.

So, let’s examine what has been found useful with regard to stem cells that are taken from your fatty tissue or your bone marrow and injected into one of your veins.

Here is a website from Arizona that I am only showing as a typical example (I have no conflict of interest and no commercial connections to this group) of what I described above.

With websites like this it is also important to read the disclaimer: “Even though our treatments are done using autologous cells, our Stem Cell Therapies are not approved by the FDA. Stem Cell Treatments are not a cure for any condition, disease or injury, nor a substitute for proper medical diagnosis and care…” Another website from La Quinta, CA describes the use of mesenchymal stem cells for regenerative therapies.

Stem cell treatments are in flux. There is a large body of knowledge that has accumulated showing that with proper technique and aseptic conditions it is a safe procedure. The FBA has been watching this. There are publications regarding the safety of procedures with adipose mesenchymal stem cells; here is one example.

The next step is to show in clinical trials that a certain procedure with stem cells is effective in treating a certain condition.

Below I did a literature review, which are only a few examples, but does not claim to be complete; it highlights some of the problems with stem cell treatments.

Stroke treatment with intravenous administration of bone marrow mononuclear stem cells

This study from India showed no statistical difference of stroke patients treated intravenously with bone marrow derived mononuclear stem cells (the experimental group) and the control group that did not receive such treatment. The investigators examined both groups with functional brain tests and performed PET scans to look at the healing of the brain lesions. Unfortunately the tests showed no statistical difference, but did show that the stem cell procedures were safe. It may be that the wrong stem cells were used (mononuclear bone marrow stem cells) when adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells may have done better. In stark contrast to the study from India is the stem cell treatment for a severe stroke in the former hockey player, Gordie Howe that has gone through the media recently. His procedure was done in Mexico. The stem cells were administered via a lumbar puncture approach as well as intravenously. As you can see from this case, stem cell treatment is even possible in patients who are in their mid 80’s with impressive results.

Parkinson’s disease

Here is a feasibility study from March 2014. A 71-year-old Asian man with progressive supranuclear palsy, an aggressive form of Parkinson’s disease was treated with adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells that were administered intravenously and intrathecally (to get stem cells into the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain). A remarkable functional recovery took place.

Possible side-effects

This is a report of pulmonary embolism after administering intravenous adipose tissue-derived stem cell therapy. The blood clots in the lungs were treated with anticoagulant therapy. Repeat CT scans of his lungs showed later that the emboli were dissolved spontaneously. It is not clear whether this was a case where familial clotting problems pre-existed as a relative of this patient experienced a similar occurrence after stem cell therapy as well.

A case of chronic autoimmune thrombocytopenic purpura

A rare form of autoimmune disease exists where the body forms antibodies against platelets that help your blood to clot. Here is a paper from June 2009 that describes how a man with this disease was cured using adipose tissue-derived mesenchymal stem cells that were injected intravenously.

Renal transplant survival in type 1 diabetes patient

This case report from India shows that adipose tissue derived mesenchymal stem cells that were given at the time of a kidney transplant to treat end stage kidney disease. The treatment stabilized the condition of this patient after a kidney transplant. At the same time some of the mesenchymal stem cells differentiated into insulin producing cells, which made it much easier to control this patient’s diabetes. In this case stem cells were providing stability following an organ transplant (kidney) and some stem cells turned into insulin producing pancreatic cells.

Osteonecrosis of hip treated with adipose tissue derived MSC

In this study from South Korea dated January 2012 two cases of osteonecrosis of the hip, where the hipbone died (osteonecrosis) are described. The following stem cell protocol helped: The fraction that contained the stem cells (called stromal vascular fraction) was mixed with platelet rich plasma and hyaluronic acid. Using a long needle this mixture was injected into the affected hip joint. Conventional medicine has nothing to offer except a total hip replacement. But here are two cases that showed complete resolution of their pain, regained hip function completely, and healing could be documented with the help of MRI scans.

Treating heart attack patients with stem cells

Here is a paper from The Netherlands, published in June 2014 that describes the problems with stem cell treatment in humans. It points out that much has been learnt from animal experiments. The problem following a heart attack is that there is a massive inflammatory response in the infarcted heart muscle, which makes it difficult for stem cells to establish themselves in the injured heart muscle. However, stem cells have been shown to prevent the development of cardiomyopathy that follows a massive heart attack and often is the cause of death. More refinements are needed for successful treatments, such as the ideal timing of stem cell injections in relationship to the time of the heart attack, the best treatment approach and what number of stem cells to inject are all questions that still need to be answered.

MS model in mice shows promise with adipose mesenchymal stem cells

Experimental encephalitis in mice is used as a model for MS in humans. It helps to preselect potentially effective treatments for MS in humans. In this 2013 paper from Australia researchers used mesenchymal stem cells from adipose tissue and injected them intravenously. To their surprise the mesenchymal stem cells were able to penetrate the blood/brain barrier and end up in the myelin lesions inside the brain. In contrast, bone marrow derived stem cells were unable to do that. The researchers stated that adipose mesenchymal stem cells should be considered “as a cell therapeutic that may be used to treat MS patients”.

A group from Iran published this paper in February 2015 further emphasizes that mesenchymal stem cells would be a logical way to treat MS in humans.

Immunosenescence

As we get older the immune systems weakens because of a process called immunosenescence.

A research group from Austria published a paper in December 2011 that is typical for the thinking that mesenchymal stem cells from fatty tissue have properties that help the immune system to get stimulated. Based on this human data it should be possible to stimulate the immune system by giving stem cells from the fatty tissue to the same person intravenously. This publication shows that this process, which would benefit people above the age of 50 or 60 when the immune system gets weaker, will indeed stimulate the immune system. However, at this point we do not have the data of large clinical trials where this would have been done with measurements of the immune function before and on several occasions after stem cell injection to get a feeling for how long the effect would last. We also do not know whether this procedure is associated with longevity.

Rejuvenate With Stem Cells

Rejuvenate With Stem Cells

Conclusion

Stem cell therapy is definitely coming and many applications are already established as I discussed in a prior blog. It is only recently that physicians are no longer worried about creating tumors with stem cell transfer. Now we are in a phase where various stem cell transfer methods (intravenous, intrathecal, interstitial) are being tested as a treatment for various illnesses. It looks like stem cells from fatty tissue may soon be used intravenously, but I have not seen any such trials when checked on PubMed. The activation of stem cells by laser light has only been mentioned sparingly in the literature. This combination (laser activated, intravenous mesenchymal injection) has the potential for being useful for a multitude of chronic illnesses like fibromyalgia, MS, generalized arthritis, just to mention a few. Mesenchymal stem cells are anti-inflammatory, and they can mend defects without leaving scars.

Feb
14
2015

Laser Therapy Going Beyond Skin Deep

There was an interesting workshop alongside of the A4M conference mid December 2014 organized by Jonathan Schwartz who gave an overview of the use of low-dose laser therapy for various clinical applications. It involved the use of the Dr. Michael Weber low-dose laser machine, which has a lot of versatility.

  1. First there are 5 laser light frequencies in the rainbow colors (infrared, red, yellow, green, blue) and the colors have very special characteristics as will be explained further below.
  2. There are a multitude of applicators like skin acupressure point applicators, a shower for hair loss applications, a head adapter, which looks like a crown. With this device red light will penetrate into the brain through the skull bone. There is also a mouth shower and various lengths needle applicators that can be used to access the body intravenously or interstitially (direct tissue approach). At the center of the equipment is the Weberneedle Compactlaser, which can be attached to the various applicators.

Laser characteristics

The blue laser penetrates about 1 cm (0.39 inch) under the skin, a green laser penetrates only 0.5 cm (0.19 inch); like the blue laser the yellow laser penetrates through the skin with a depth of 1 cm (0.39 inch). The red laser has a penetration depth of 2-3 cm (a bit more or less than 1 inch) and the infrared laser penetrates 5-7 cm (2 to 2 1/2 inches).

In addition the various lasers have different inherent qualities: The red laser is good for tissue regeneration, which lends itself for chronic pain. Green and blue lasers have anti-inflammatory effects, which helps in acute pain. The yellow laser can be used for detoxification, has antidepressant qualities and photosensitizes hypericin, a substance derived from St. John’s wort, which is known to have antidepressant qualities. The various types of laser mentioned can be used interstitially, intravenously and just on the skin surface over acupuncture points. Dr. Weber explained that detailed research has revealed that the low-dose energy beam sends out energy that is taken up by the surrounding tissues and cells. The mitochondria of the cells get activated to produce more ATP, which the cells use to heal themselves.

Meeting in Placentia

Forward to a meeting in Placentia, CA on Feb. 7, 2015 where Dr. Michael Weber and several other speakers gave presentations on the use of the Dr. Weber laser system. A number of local doctors who had an interest in learning more about the low-dose laser system were there as well. It was a daylong mini conference.

Three volunteers were used to demonstrate the use of the system. I was volunteering about a chronic left lower back pain that various chiropractors had problems adjusting in the past year. I have a strong family history of arthritis on my mother’s side and my maternal grandmother’s side as well. The health professionals thought that I likely have developed arthritis in the left sacro-iliac joint. Dr. Weber used the interstitial needle, which is 4 cm (1.57 inches) long. The skin was injected with a local anesthetic first, and then the needle was inserted, which I could hardly feel. Now he injected 5 cc of normal saline. This was used, so that the laser light would spreads more into the surrounding area. Dr. Weber explained that he was very close to the SI joint with the tip of the needle on the left. He attached a blue laser to it for 20 minutes and switched it to a green laser for another 20 minutes.

In the meantime the other two volunteers were treated.

One was a physician in the group who had a chronic planter’s fasciitis. He was treated with an intravenous laser application. First a special butterfly was inserted, through which a sterile laser probe could be threaded and then attached. He received a red laser.

The third volunteer had a chronic right knee problem from congenital Osgood Schlatter disease. In him Dr. Weber used an approach of intraarticular injection and he attached a blue laser for 20 minutes, followed by a yellow laser for another 20 minutes. A physician with a California license supervised all of these procedures.

I woke up the following day with no pain in my left lower back, but at the same time the lesser right lower back pain had also disappeared. I figure that due to the fact that my back mobility is back the untreated right side must have normalized as well. It is now 7 days following the procedure and I still have no back pain. Yesterday I saw my local chiropractor in Southern California and he confirmed that my back was much easier to adjust than the month before (Update April 12, 2015: my lower back is still pain free!).

Normally a case like mine would require 5 to 6 weekly treatments before the problem is resolved. Dr. Weber explained that more complicated problems like fibromyalgia would take 15 to 20 treatments in succession or more. The principal is always that you treat where the symptoms are; in the follow-up visit the healthcare practitioner treats the remaining symptoms until all of the symptoms have resolved.

The intriguing fact is that low-dose laser therapy seems to fit right into gap where conventional medicine has failed.

Clinical cases that respond to laser therapy

Dr. Weber has collected clinical cases that improve with laser treatments, such as diabetes, chronic liver diseases, chronic pain syndromes, rheumatoid arthritis, polyneuropathy, chronic inflammatory disease, cancer (with photodynamic therapy), fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, Lyme disease, allergies and eczema. This, however, is just a partial list.

Photodynamic cancer therapy is made possible by the fact that certain substances have absorption spectra that are activated by different wavelength. This amplifies the effect of the natural substance that is used by several folds. For instance Chlorin E6 absorbs a red laser (around 660 nm). A blue laser activates Curcumin. A yellow laser activates Hypericin. Here is a website that explains the principle of phototherapy.

Various cancers can be treated where conventional medicine has so far failed. Examples are lymph metastases from breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and bladder cancer. I have blogged regarding a combination treatment for breast cancer before, where phototherapy with lasers and immunostimulation were combined. Esophageal cancer is treated through esophagoscopy combined with a laser that activates curcumin, which had been taken orally well before the procedure. Not all of the cases are successful, but the majority of them are.

Otherwise routine low-dose laser applications are used for tendinitis, tennis elbow, sprains and soft tissue injures.

Laser-Therapy-Going-Beyond-Skin-Deep

Laser-Therapy-Going-Beyond-Skin-Deep

You can combine the laser system with prolotherapy. Prolotherapy is done first by injecting hyperosmolar dextrose solution, which is a strong stimulator of stem cells. Using the same needle, but attaching the Weber low-level laser therapy will activate the stem cells and protect them from dying off.

Conclusion

Low dose laser therapy using the Weber Medical technology is a new treatment modality available to the interested physician. I think that it will cause a revolution within medicine. It is scientifically sound and it fits right into the difficult to treat patients; the patients that otherwise would be unlikely to respond. However, they will respond well to these new treatment modalities. Apart from musculoskeletal problems, various cancers will also respond to this. The Mayo clinic is starting a study on treating cancer using phototherapy and the Dr. Weber low-dose laser system.

Jul
02
2014

Focus On Health Rather Than Disease

Not too long ago I came across a blog that summarized the “18 Biggest Problems with Modern Medicine”. Although this is a useful list, it occurred to me that these problems could be compressed into about 9 underlying themes. Below I am describing the same type of problems regarding modern medicine in a somewhat abbreviated fashion.

Points 1 to 4 below cover points 1 to 9 of the “18 Biggest Problems with Modern Medicine”:

1. The patient is seen as a complicated machine with parts that could break down. When there is a breakdown of the machinery, symptoms develop, which are quickly fixed with a patented medicine, but without really addressing the underlying problem. 

This type of approach soothes pain, but changes nothing for a chronic illness like MS. Nobody has all the answers to this complicated illness, but we know that it is an autoimmune disease. So it makes sense to avoid foods that could make the patient worse. This is exactly what Dr. Terry Wahls is describing in her YouTube video.

Also, vitamins and supplements for multiple sclerosis that support the immune system would be useful. Vitamin D3 in high doses, but monitoring blood levels by doing 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood tests from time to time would also be useful.

2. A holistic approach to building up health rather than fixing a clinical problem, which belongs to a disease, is not part of modern medicine.

In the past a stomach acid problem was treated with H-2 receptor antagonists like cimetidine or ranitidine. The newer proton pump inhibitors, like omeprazole were added and were supposed to be better in suppressing the acid formation. But they did nothing to cure the ulcer or gastritis problem. The problem often was that chronic stress allowed a bacterium, H.pylori to multiply in the stomach wall causing stomach acid and a burning sensation. This did respond to the antacid medications for a period of time, but came back when the medication was stopped. A simple over the counter licorice compound, called DGL or a simple mastic gum from the health food store can cure the helicobacter infection and cure your peptic ulcer disease without the need for the expensive patented H-2 receptor antagonists or proton pump inhibitors.

Focus On Health Rather Than Disease

Focus On Health Rather Than Disease

3. Everybody with the same disease is treated with the same medical treatment schedule, often agreed on by consensus expert panels. The body’s self-healing capacity or the placebo effect, which is an expression of the same natural healing response, is ignored.

Here is a study that was done on patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) on placebo pills. Placebo pills were 24% more effective than the control group who took no pills in controlling symptoms of IBS. Why not utilize this in conventional medicine?

4. The disease is treated, not the patient; numbers from lab tests count, not clinical signs of the physical examination. What used to be called the “art of medicine” has been abandoned.

The art of medicine is important to establish a rapport with the patient, but also to pick up silent features during the examination that may otherwise be overlooked.

Points 10 to 18 of the“18 Biggest Problems with Modern Medicine” are covered by points 5 to 9 below:

5. Diet, lifestyle, hormone changes (due to chronic stress and older age) are all ignored. If there are the hormone changes of menopause or andropause, only synthetic hormones are given and only for a limited time not exceeding 5 years. Bioidentical hormone replacement invokes butterfly feelings in the physician’s stomach and must therefore be rejected. It’s almost a knee-jerk response. The reason for that is the fear that bioidentical hormones would have the same devastating side effects as the synthetic hormones. However, this is a fallacy, as a young person with fully functioning natural hormones will not come down with nefarious side effects of strokes, heart attacks or cancer.

This link to Dr. Lee’s website explains why bioidentical hormones fit the hormone receptors better than the synthetic concoctions.

6. The thought that the body may have been exposed to toxins (like heavy metals, xenoestrogens etc.) from the environment that are taken up and stored in the body like a sponge and should be detoxified from time to time is foreign thinking to modern medicine except for a small group of dedicated physicians and naturopaths who offer various forms of chelation therapy.

The TART trial has shown that there was a 18% reduction of heart attack rate in the group that received 40 chelation therapy treatments. Chelation therapy can easily be combined with traditional treatment methods, but mostly his option is ignored.

7. Similarly the idea that supplements and vitamins would be essential to support the body in the fight against free radicals that form inside the body every day is not something every doctor will feel comfortable in recommending.

In Ref. 1 (chapter 8) I have cited evidence from a clinical trial that multivitamins elongate telomeres by 5.1% and add 9.8 years of productive life in those who take multivitamins over a long period of time versus those who do not.

8. In the health care industry we are still working in a hierarchical system where the doctor is on top and the patient is on a lower level and dependent. In the future medical system the doctor and the patient are equal partners who try to solve a health problem as a team.

The doctor may have more experience in diagnosing, prescribing and monitoring health problems, but the patient is the one who owns the problem and is encouraged to comply with the prescribed treatment and to report back to the doctor, if there are new symptoms that may lead the doctor to new insights resulting in improving the treatment plan.

9. Big Pharma influences doctors to prescribe their patented medicinesNew drugs and old drugs are sold like the latest invention against the dreaded disease XYZ (you can fill in whatever the diagnosis is). But none of these drugs is effective against a hormone disbalance, stress, a lack of sleep, lack of exercise or malnutrition. The patient’s co-operation is needed to work on these issues.

I have explained in Ref.1 that the metabolic syndrome, which is responsible for much of our modern diseases (diabetes, heart attacks, arthritis, strokes, cancers, Alzheimer’s disease) can be overcome by a combination of steps: paying attention to our food intake, cutting out sugar and high glycemic starchy foods and excessive fats. Regular exercise will help you to build up and maintain muscle mass and at the same time to melt in excessive fat. Yoga, self-hypnosis, meditation and prayer can remedy stress. Bioidentical hormones can replace any hormone deficiencies. Detoxification, vitamins and supplements complete this program, which allows you to successfully age without disabilities. All these steps taken together allow your body to recover and find a new balance where drugs are rarely needed.

Conclusion:

The reason Medicare is so expensive is that life style issues are not often addressed. By only treating symptoms the underlying causes of an illness are not removed. This means that the illness will not be cured. Take for instance heart attacks. If you want to go down the road from angina to heart attack to bypass surgery or stents, you will soon run out of options. The next level of curative medicine approach is a heart transplant after heart attack number 4 or 5. Comprehensive medicine would approach this differently by paying attention to what you eat and motivate you to cut out starchy foods, wheat, and sugar. This would address obesity, which is a problem in many Western countries. You would engage in regular physical exercise. Stress would be overcome in yoga classes or self-hypnosis sessions. Bioidentical hormones would replace your missing hormones based on saliva hormone tests or blood test samples. The heart muscle that has a lot of testosterone receptors would respond to this. As mentioned above a series of chelation treatments to remove heavy metals could also be offered in this combined, comprehensive heart attack prevention program with a reduction of 18% of heart attacks. This all is available now, but regrettably few people make use of it.

References:

1. Dr. Ray Schilling: “A Survivor’s Guide to Successful Aging“, Amazon.com, 2014

Last edited July 3, 2014

Jan
18
2014

The Super Powers Of Vitamin D

Originally, when vitamin D was found to be the missing ingredient in preventing rickets in growing children the recommended daily allowance (RDA) to prevent rickets was found to be 400 IU of vitamin D. The active metabolite has been identified as vitamin D3 for which the body has receptors on all vital organs (heart, brain, bones, kidneys, liver). In recent years new insights have been gained as it turns out that the RDA’s were set much too low for many diseases that can develop when vitamin D intake is too low, particularly in the aging population. Higher doses of vitamin D3 in the range of 800 to 1000 IU per day have been shown to prevent osteoporosis, falls and fractures in older adults and in nursing home populations. But the immune system of everybody is dependent on higher doses of vitamin D3. Recently (Dec. 12 to 15, 2013) I attended a lecture at the A4M conference in Las Vegas where Dr. Eisenstein reviewed the latest on vitamin D3. It is now known that 2/3 of the US population is deficient for vitamin D as measured by blood tests (less than 25 ng/ml).  The standard test is the 25-hydroxy-vitamin D level (abbreviated as 25(OH)D level). It is now known that you require at least a level of more than 40 to 60 ng/ml of 25(OH)D as measured in the US, which translates to more than 100 to 150 nmol/L measured in metric units in other countries, to prevent cancer.

The Super Powers Of Vitamin D

The Super Powers Of Vitamin D

Metabolism of vitamin D3

90% of the vitamin D3 that we need comes from exposure to sunlight, which transforms a cholesterol metabolite (7-dehydrocholesterol) into the vitamin D precursor (vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol). This is what we absorb from naturally occurring fish oil and oily fish, but otherwise this does not naturally occur in foodstuffs (Ref. 1). Dr. Eisenstein pointed out that it is well known that people living north of the 37th degree latitude lack vitamin D3 because of a lack of sun exposure, particularly in the winter season. People south of the 37th degree latitude have enough sun exposure, but wherever you live, it is advisable to have your vitamin D3 level measured (as 25(OH)D level). If you do not eat enough fish or fish oil, the levels likely are too low as is the case for 2/3 of the US population. Vitamin D3 supplements will have to be taken by those whose levels are too low. Vitamin D3 is further metabolized by the liver and then by the kidneys into the active vitamin D compound, called 1,25(OH)2D3 (which is called “calcitriol”). The main effect of calcitriol is to absorb calcium and phosphate from the intestine into the blood stream. Together with vitamin K2 as explained in a prior blog these minerals are then taken up by the bone to prevent osteoporosis or rickets in the growing child. What has not been known for a long time is that vitamin D3 is also necessary for normal cell metabolism by most of your body cells, but particularly by the vital organs like the brain, the heart, the kidneys, the liver, the immune system and the bone. However, doses of 5000 IU to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 capsules per day are required for optimal vitamin D3 health. This will lead to levels of below 200 ng/ml of 25(OH)D levels, which have been proven to be safe. According to Dr. Eisenstein no toxicity has been found below 30,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day, but based on other authors a dose of 10,000IU should be adequate for most people. Strangely enough colored people also have to take vitamin D3 supplements as their the higher melanin pigment in the skin filters out UV light so effectively that their 25(OH)D level can be low. Always err on the cautious side and have your vitamin D3 blood level taken.

Vitamin D3 has a characteristic stereotactic configuration (cis-triene structure), which allows it to bind free radicals and function as an antioxidant (Ref.2).

What are some of the clinical effects of vitamin D3?

1. Vitamin D3 has diverse effects on organs systems as Dr. Eisenstein summarized: vitamin D3 lifts depression and has been found to be of particular value for drug resistant depression. Take 5000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day.

2. Muscle power increases with vitamin D3, particularly in those who work out regularly.

3. Many fertility clinics pay attention to vitamin D3 levels, as the higher the blood levels of vitamin D3 in a man, the faster this sperms move! And the more vitamin D3 she has on board, the better she ovulates. The end result is a higher pregnancy success rate when both partners take 5000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day

4. Also, if a woman takes vitamin D3 during her pregnancy, the first set of teeth in the offspring will have fewer cavities.

5. Brain development in autistic children is much improved with vitamin D3 in higher doses. This needs to be combined with detoxification methods and supervised by one of the DAN physicians.

6.Chronic pain typically improves when vitamin D3 deficiency, which almost always is present in patients with chronic pain, is treated with vitamin D3 supplementation.

7. To prevent flus and colds and other infectious diseases, take higher doses of vitamin D3. When you come down with a flu, it is safe to increase your daily vitamin D3 intake to 30,000 IU of vitamin D3 for a few days until your symptoms improve, then resume your maintenance dose of 5000 IU to 10,000 IU per day.  This year’s dominant flu is the type A, subtype H1N1 – also known as the swine flu. Children should get 50% of the dose regimen detailed for adults when they develop a flu (for children: 15,000IU for three to five days , with tapering to a maintenance dose of 2500 to 5000 IU until blood levels of 25(OH)D are available). Here is a website of Dr. Cannell where he discusses dosages as well.

8. Asthmatic patients do better with vitamin D3 supplements requiring less maintenance anti-asthmatic medicine to keep them balanced with regard to their airways.

9. Chronic low vitamin D3 levels cause brain damage including Alzheimer’s disease. In this context it is important to know that the enzymatic conversion in the liver and kidneys slow down as we age requiring higher doses in older patients. This may have been the reason for the confusion about relatively low doses of 400 IU of vitamin D3 preventing rickets in children versus the need of vitamin D3 in middle aged and older patients where much higher doses are required as already explained.

10. High blood pressure is linked to vitamin D3 deficiency and it is better manageable with medication when vitamin D3 levels are normalized.

11. Live longer with vitamin D3. How is this possible, you might ask: the answer has been found in the telomeres, the shoelace like structures at the end of the DNA strand of each cell. Vitamin D3 lengthens the telomeres and promotes telomere repair; this is associated with a longer life span. Centenarians have longer telomeres. You can measure telomere length, but it is a pricey test, which is not for everyone, contrary to supplementation with vitamin D3 that should be taken by everyone!

12. As already indicated, vitamin D3 strengthens the immune system, but it also modulates the inflammatory response from muscle damage, so athletes can perform better. Patients with multiple sclerosis will improve as it slows down the inflammatory process. But other inflammatory diseases like arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and even cancer will respond favorably to higher doses of vitamin D3 (20,000 to 30,000 IU of vitamin D3 in these cases). This is information that has not yet percolated into mainstream medicine, but will do so in the next few years (or decades?).

13. Higher percentages of cardiovascular disease are found in patients who have lower than 15 ng/ml  25-Hydroxy- vitamin D3 levels in their blood meaning that vitamin D3 supplementation prevents heart disease (Ref.3).

What are toxic vitamin D levels?

What is known about the safety of vitamin D3, particularly the higher vitamin D3 doses? First, it is wise to have your 25(OH)D blood levels taken from time to time. If any of these levels exceed 200 ng/ml it would be prudent to reduce the vitamin D dose or stop supplementation for a while. Otherwise it has been difficult to establish a toxic range.

This website claims that 40,000 IU of vitamin D3 or more would lead to toxic levels where the blood calcium levels would be increased, which can be measured as hypercalcemia. However, another study done in 2007 showed in MS patients that took 40,000 IU per day and that led to a blood level of 400 ng/ml of 25(OH)D did not lead to increased calcium levels and did not lead to hypercalciuria (too much calcium in the urine). So, all of the papers that either indicated to the public that it would be unsafe or unnecessary to take vitamin D3 seem to have other agendas than communicating the truth. Had it been true that calcium would be released from the bones or calcium were absorbed too much from the gut, this would have caused calcification of the bones, soft tissues, heart and kidneys. Also, kidney stones would have developed. However, a low calcium diet combined with corticosteroid drugs usually leads to a full recovery within a month. Interesting that all of the dire predictions regarding toxic vitamin D3 levels did not materialize. Here is another website discussing vitamin D3 dosing.

I talked to a participant of the conference (who has a fellowship degree of the A4M) about what is really known about vitamin D3 toxicity. He told me that there has been an unintentional overdose where a compounding pharmacy made a mistake, so that a patient accidentally received a dosage of 500,000 Units of vitamin D3 per day for a full three months, before the mistake was uncovered. The patient felt sluggish, but did not have any other symptoms. He was told to stop the vitamin D3 compound. He had an uneventful recovery with no detrimental effects. At this point no overdose of vitamin D3 has been established.

Conclusion

Vitamin D3 is a vital supplement that has been shown to prevent not only rickets in children, but also depression, MS, infections and even many cancers (Ref. 4). As usual there will be many critiques that doubt the validity of the above statements. But I have found that all of these effects described above were confirmed in several sources of various medical information. Keep in mind that negative rumours have a tendency to linger on for years.

More information on vitamin D3 for prevention of osteoporosis and hardening of arteries: http://www.askdrray.com/calcium-vitamin-d3-and-vitamin-k2-needed-for-bone-health/

Vitamin D3 deficiency can cause pancreatic cancer: http://nethealthbook.com/news/insufficient-vitamin-d3-linked-to-pancreatic-cancer/

References

1. McPherson: Henry’s Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods, 22nd ed.,  © 2011 Saunders

2. Rheumatic Diseases Clinics of North America – Volume 38, Issue 1 (February 2012) , © 2012 W. B. Saunders Company

3. Wang TJ, Pencina MJ, Booth SL, et al:  Vitamin D deficiency and risk of  cardiovascular disease.   Circulation 117. (4): 503-511.2008.

4. “Recognition and Management of Vitamin D Deficiency”: American Family Physician – Volume 80, Issue 8 (October 2009),  © 2009 American Academy of Family Physicians

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

Dec
21
2013

Buying Into High Carb, Low Fat Myth Makes You Sick

If you are like most people, you probably still think that “healthy grains” like wheat are good for you and are “essential for a well balanced diet”. Ever since Kellogg’s introduced cereal for breakfast and the bagel was invented as a mid morning snack, which has captured the tastes of millions, the Agro Industry and the food industry have lobbied to have “healthy grains” in the food pyramid or on your plate. The very thought of “the daily bread” is deeply ingrained in our culture.

Other agencies like the Heart Foundation, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly “American Dietetic Association“) and the American Medical Association have reiterated this statement over and over until both the public and physicians accepted this as the truth. However, the scientific data does not support this point of view!  It has been a myth!

We are gradually learning that there has been a big misinformation campaign going on as far back as 1984 (and before) when a consensus panel came up with revised normal values for cholesterol and we as the medical profession were told (myself included) to treat high cholesterol levels much earlier and more aggressively than in the past with statins.

Big Pharma is still pushing for this. Now that I am retired for more than three years I can freely write about what is really going on. The truth has already leaked out, but it is not yet common knowledge.

I like to review the switch from the old school of thought that a high carb/low fat diet would be healthy to the new school of thought that a low carb/high healthy fat diet is healthy. Before you panic, sit back, relax and read what I am saying.

Buying into High Carb, Low Fat Myth Makes You Sick

Buying Into High Carb, Low Fat Myth Makes You Sick

A brief history of the high carb/low fat diet recommendation

It was the Framingham Study, which is an ongoing study since 1948 where a large group of people was followed for decades to sort out what causes heart attacks and strokes and how one could develop a program of prevention. This objective at the beginning of the study was very noble and promising. However, as time went on the results from the Framingham Study that were published intermittently appeared to be more and more confusing.

First there was the lipid theory that was based on the observation that high lipids (called triglycerides) and high cholesterol in the blood would cause heart attacks and strokes. It was assumed that it must have been the fats in the diet that would have caused this. Based on this thinking the lipid theory of arteriosclerosis was formulated, a theory trying to explain how heart attacks were caused.

If this theory were true, a lowering of the blood lipids and cholesterol should have lowered the rates of heart attacks and strokes. Many large trials were done and the statins were developed to lower cholesterol. In a recent blog I have explained that this has not lowered the mortality rates from heart attacks and strokes, but instead of admitting that the researchers made a mistake, many are still doggedly holding on to the dogma of the lipid theory. The truth is that the lipid theory has not been proven to be true; the recommendation of a high carb/low fat diet has also not worked out to save lives by preventing heart attacks and strokes. In fact the opposite is true: older people with high cholesterol live longer and have less Alzheimer’s disease than those with lower cholesterol levels in the blood as Ref. 1 has explained in detail. Dr. Perlmutter mentioned a study from the Netherlands (Ref. 1, page78) involving 724 individuals who on average were 89-year old that were followed for 10 years. Those with high cholesterol lived longer than those with low cholesterol, exactly the opposite of what the lipid theory predicted! Specifically, for each 39% increase in cholesterol there was a 15% decrease in risk of mortality. Think about it: the brain and the heart have LDL receptors on their cell surfaces for a reason. The reason is that both vital organs burn fat and need cholesterol to build up the membranes of the brain and heart cells.

Despite this compelling evidence Big Pharma is in denial and you will still find the lipid theory of arteriosclerosis heavily mentioned on the Internet as the only “valid” explanation for how heart attacks and strokes would be caused.

Inflammation as the alternative explanation of arteriosclerosis

Since the mid 1990’s the first reports surfaced to explain that about 50% of patients with normal cholesterol levels still develop heart attacks. In these patients the C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker, was very high indicating that an inflammatory process likely caused their illness.

Subsequently further research was able to show that the LDL cholesterol, when oxidized by sugar was responsible for clogged arteries in these patients. It also became apparent that diabetics have a much higher risk to develop heart attacks than patients with normal blood sugars. This led to the conclusion by several different research teams that the lipid theory was wrong and needed to be abandoned.

Instead a new theory has developed that explains that heart attacks and strokes develop in patients where free radicals have damaged LDL cholesterol. This oxidizes LDL cholesterol and leads to hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis). Sugar from increased carbohydrate intake has a lot to do with this: it leads to glycation of protein causing glycation end products (abbreviated as AGE’s).

This is an appropriate name as it really is the cause of premature aging, of developing wrinkles, of getting premature hardening of arteries and having a 50-fold risk of free radical formation. This in turn will lead to more tissue aging. LDL used to be thought of as the “bad cholesterol” (I myself have used that term in the past). LDL is now known to be the friendly and important transport form of cholesterol, which is sent from the liver to the brain and heart cells that need it for their metabolism. If LDL is oxidized, however, it becomes useless and the heart and brain cannot absorb cholesterol for membrane synthesis via the LDL receptors. The end result is that vital organs like the heart and the brain do not get enough oxygen and nutrients, which leads to heart attacks and strokes. The free radicals that are released from oxidized LDL cholesterol and that circulate in the blood cause an inflammatory response in the lining of the arteries all over the body, which you know as hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis).

This may sound complicated, but all you need to remember is that sugar and starch consumption lead to accelerated hardening of arteries in your body, which causes heart attacks and strokes.

Reassessment of what a heart healthy, brain friendly diet is

The above-mentioned research findings require a complete re-thinking of what a healthy diet would be. The villain turned out to NOT be saturated fat (meat, eggs, butter and avocado), but rather TRANS fat (margarine, hydrogenated polyunsaturated fatty acids) and I agree with the FDA that this should be abolished.  Trans fat is full of free radicals oxidizing LDL cholesterol, which we just learnt is causing hardening of arteries. It is sugar and starches that turned out to be the main villain. Omega-6 fatty acids, found in safflower oil, sun flower oil, grape seed oil and canola oil are bad for you also as they lead to inflammation through the arachidonic acid system in the body. Conversely flaxseed oil, omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) derived from fish oil are very protective (anti-inflammatory) oils, as is olive oil and coconut oil. These latter two are anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fatty acids. Keep in mind that you want to change the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids more in the direction of omega-3 fatty acids, so that the ratio will be between 1:1 and 1:3. Most Americans are exposed to ratios of 1:8 to 1:16 (too many omega-6 fatty acids in fast food and processed foods), which leads to inflammation of the arteries as well.

The new “heart and brain healthy diet” consists of no refined carbohydrates (sugar and starch), but about 45% complex carbohydrates (organic vegetables like broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, peppers, onions, garlic, peppers, Swiss chard, zucchini, asparagus etc.), 20 % protein and 35% saturated and other fats like omega-3 (1:3 mix with omega-6) fatty acids and monounsaturated fats (like olive oil or coconut oil).

According to Ref.1 you can even eat butter, lard and other animal fats provided they come from clean (not antibiotic or bovine growth hormone treated) animals. Dr. Perlmutter (Ref.1) points out that even extreme diets like the Inuit diet with 80% saturated fat and 20% protein leads to longevity with healthy arteries. The patients who died in the many trials including the Framingham Study did so, because of free radicals from sugar, starch and wheat. Wheat contains the addictive gliadin molecule (part of gluten), which makes people eat more sweets and starchy foods. The liver turns the extra calories into visceral fat deposits that in turn cause the release of cytokines like tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha) and COX-2 enzymes.

This causes inflammation, heart attacks, strokes and cancer.

Contrary to what Big Pharma wants you to know cholesterol is an anti-inflammatory, LDL is a cholesterol transporter (provided it is not oxidized) and HDL is protective of hardening of the arteries as long as the “ratio of total cholesterol to HDL cholesterol” is less than 3.4 for males and 3.3 for females. This is the cholesterol risk ratio used by cardiologists to determine the risk of coronary artery disease. The average risk of this ratio for Americans is 5.0 for males and 4.4 for females. The ideal ratio to strive for is the “1/2 average risk” ratio of 3.4 for males and 3.3 for women (Ref.2).

Paradigm shift in causation of heart attacks and strokes, but also of cancer, and neurological diseases

As pointed out in Ref. 1 there has been a paradigm shift in our thinking about what causes inflammation and what causes all of the major diseases including premature aging. Many physicians are not up to date in this new thinking although it has been in the medical literature since about 1995. In my colleagues’ defense I like to say that they are busy people and they do not always have the time to do their continuing education. However, it is imperative that the public learns about this paradigm shift as it affects literally everyone. In my YouTube video on the home page of www.nethealthbook.com I have talked about this new thinking in the summer of 2012. Now we are learning that there is an anti-inflammatory, cholesterol containing, fat rich diet without refined carbs, but containing ample complex carbs, which is a modified zone diet or a modified Mediterranean diet that will prevent all these diseases. At the same time it is a weight loss diet as cholesterol and fat in your diet stops the liver from producing lipids and triglycerides and helps you to lose weight. Critics will say that it sounds too good to be true, but I agree with Dr. Perlmutter and Dr. Davis, both of whom have provided ample evidence that it is true. Try some of their recipes. Just read Ref. 1 and 2, where recipes are listed in the back part of their books. Or try the recipes I listed for one day in this blog. I am publishing a book entitled “A Survivor’s Guide To Successful Aging” through Amazon.com, which will come out later in early 2014 where you can find recipes for 1 week in the last chapter.

Conclusion

There has been a paradigm shift in the thinking of how hardening of the arteries is caused. Now it is known that an inflammatory process causes it. It is an overindulgence in sugar, starch and wheat products that causes the liver to produce lipids, cholesterol and leads to the “wheat belly” and the “grain brain”. All of this causes cytokines to bring about an inflammatory reaction that affects the lining of arteries causing heart attacks, strokes, but also Parkinson’s disease, MS, autism, asthma, arthritis, epilepsy, Lou Gehrig disease and Alzheimer’s disease (Ref.1). The inflammation does not stop there. If you keep up the high carb/low fat diet, it will lead to various cancers (Ref. 1 and 3). The solution is a diet high in healthy fats (I would call it a low carb/medium high healthy fat diet) as outlined above consisting of 30 to 35% healthy fat, 20% of protein and 45 to 50% of complex carbs, but none of the refined carbs. I have followed such a diet since 2001. I am enjoying that I can now eat  a reasonable amount of healthy fats, which I was not aware of being allowed before I read Ref. 1 and 3, but I continue with the antioxidant vitamins and anti-inflammatory supplements to prevent LDL oxidization. I hope that many of you can benefit from prevention so you can enjoy a healthy life without being a victim of illness or disability.

More information on:

1. arteriosclerosis: http://nethealthbook.com/cardiovascular-disease/heart-disease/atherosclerosis-the-missing-link-between-strokes-and-heart-attacks/

2. paradigm shift regarding hardening of the arteries: My book “A Survivor’s Guide To Successful Aging: With recipes for 1 week provided by Christina Schilling” explains the content of this blog in much more detail.

References

1. David Perlmutter, MD: “Grain Brain. The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, And Sugar-Your Brain’s Silent Killers.” Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2013.

2. Life Extension: Disease Prevention and Treatment, Fifth edition. 130 Evidence-Based Protocols to Combat the Diseases of Aging. © 2013

3. William Davis, MD: “Wheat Belly Cookbook. 150 Recipes to Help You Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health”. HarperCollins Publishers LTD., Toronto, Canada, 2012.

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

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Nov
02
2013

MS Is A Multifaceted Disease

A new study was recently released that showed that a significant number of people without multiple sclerosis have narrowing of their neck veins. There is a new theory that chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency due to narrowing of veins outside the skull may be responsible in causing MS in a significant percentage of patients. Using venograms in MS patients and in controls without MS a recent study from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC showed that normal controls also had narrowing of neck veins and the authors felt that this invalidated the vascular theory of MS. This story is based on this Lancet publication. What was not mentioned in this publication was that venous blood flow on the surface of the brain can get obstructed inside the skull. It’s all about brain tissue oxygenation; if the brain gets enough oxygen, all is well. If there were a lack of perfusion due to venous congestion inside or outside the skull, the patient would be in trouble.  I will discuss this further below.

In this blog I will discuss first how MS is diagnosed, then mention some newer studies where circulation has been investigated using SPECT scanning. I will then review various causes of MS that have been established and armed with this knowledge return to a discussion of the Vancouver study mentioned above.

How MS is diagnosed

MS is diagnosed by a combination of tests. This will include the patient’s symptoms such as balancing problems, double vision, memory problems, fatigue etc. Neurological examination, imaging studies like MRI scanning, lumbar puncture to examine the cerebrospinal fluid and evoked potential studies would be what a neurologist would order. All of these findings are considered when deciding whether the criteria for making a diagnosis of MS have been fulfilled. In 2001 an international neurological panel developed the McDonald criteria for diagnosing MS, which were revised in 2010.

MS Is A Multifaceted Disease

MS Is A Multifaceted Disease

Newer ways diagnosing perfusion problems in MS patients (SPECT scan)

One of the newer functional scans is a SPECT scan. It shows areas where there is a lack of blood supply to the brain, but can also identify areas where too much blood circulates. Here is a site where the technique of the SPECT scan is reviewed in more detail.

SPECT scan results in MS patients

SPECT scans in MS patients showed a significant reduction in blood flow to the frontal lobes and to the left temporal lobe. Reduced activity of the left temporal lobe on SPECT scans correlated with MS patients having a deficit in verbal fluency and having a problem with verbal memory. This would indicate that reduced blood flow to these areas of the brain is associated with developing MS.

Perhaps a SPECT scan of the brain (which is where the action of MS is) may be a better indicator for MS than looking for veins in the neck by ultrasound or venograms, as SPECT scans look directly at brain perfusion. The question is whether these blood circulation problems in MS patients may cause deficiencies in the brain of oxygen, nutrients and possibly of other internal mediators.

Known causes of MS

There are a number of known causes of MS, which I will review below.

Autoimmune disease

As this link shows, MS is a disease due to inflammation of the brain. The area where there is inflammation leads to demyelination from loss of the myelin sheaths, which causes the white lesions visible on MRI scans of the brain. One such cause is an allergy to wheat and wheat products. Gliadin antibodies and anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies were positive in a significant number of MS patients, but not in controls. This suggests at least in part that immunological causes are at play. I agree with this blog that describes that there is significant evidence that gluten intolerance can lead to MS and the positive tests that were found by researchers are likely just the tip of the iceberg. Dr. William Davis describes in Ref. 1 and 2 that you can have celiac disease with no gut symptoms, in other words a person can develop autoimmune symptoms from gliadin and gluten sensitivity without diarrhea or bowel cramps. Dietary lectins, particularly the ones found in wheat lead to leaky gut syndrome and subsequently to autoimmune diseases. One of these autoantibodies can be directed against the myelin sheath, which can cause MS. In a mouse model Mayo Clinic researchers have shown that an antibody injection can be used to block autoantibodies against the myelin sheath. Investigations are ongoing with regard to whether this type of treatment would work in humans as well.

Genetic factors

It is known that a human leukocyte antigen (HLA -DRB1) is associated with the risk for developing MS. It is found more commonly in Caucasians who have a higher risk of developing MS. Another genetic factor is a variation of the IL7R gene, which is also discussed under this link. On average the risk of getting MS in the general population is about 10 to 20%.

Nutrition and dietary factors

It has been described that vitamin D3 levels when obtained from in MS patients are low. Vitamin D3 can prevent against MS to a certain degree, so does sun exposure. In countries where malnutrition is common, MS occurs more often.

According to Dr. Terry Wahls who is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, a diet of vegetables, fruit, meat, no grain, no dairy, no sugar, no corn and no potatoes can cure MS. Dr. Wahls herself had severe MS in the past and cured it with the help of this diet!

Infections

Certain infections can cause MS. Probably the best correlation was found between the mononucleosis virus (Epstein Barr virus) and the later development of MS.

Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency

According to Dr. Zamboni from Italy clogged veins in the neck can cause MS. Dr. Zamboni found that about 50% of MS patients get better when stents are placed into narrowed neck veins, which allows the blood from veins around the brain to drain normally. This could improve brain circulation in the areas described above where SPECT scans detected a lack of blood supply to certain parts of the brain.

Discussion of the Vancouver publication

It is important to note that certain areas of the brain were not circulating blood as well as others when SPECT scans were used to depict blood circulation of the brain. The fact that 50% of patients with chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency get cured from MS with simple venous stent procedures is remarkable. Sure, the Vancouver researchers (who are heavily sponsored by Big Pharma) found that normal controls also have a significant amount of venous abnormalities in their necks, but this does not explain the successes in those MS patients who got better with a simple venous stunt procedure. Without doing SPECT scans on both the control groups and the experimental MS groups before and after stent procedures we do not know whether the brain circulation following stent procedures improved or not. However, this is what I would have expected to see. In other words more research needs to be done by other investigators to show whether or not the surgical stents in those who are helped by the surgical procedure have been helped because of a normalization of their brain circulation.

Conclusion

Our knowledge regarding MS is getting more multifaceted as new research is emerging. Diet appears to be a major contributing factor, as vitamin D3 is essential for normal brain function and for a normal immune system. At the same time grains and wheat have been identified as causing MS in a subgroup of patients (through developing leaky gut syndrome and subsequently autoimmune antibodies). Avoid the foods Dr. Wahls described as being causative in developing MS and you can improve MS remarkably or get cured. The same is true for avoidance of wheat and wheat products as Dr. Davis described. In my opinion not every MS patient will benefit from a stent, but not every MS case is caused by vitamin D3 deficiency or by having had mononucleosis in the past. We simply do not have all of the answers yet. But we do have enough information to thoroughly investigate MS patients;  the treating physician will then use clinical judgment to decide which treatment would be the most suitable one for an individual MS patient.

More information on multiple sclerosis: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/multiple-sclerosis/

References

1. Stern: Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry, 1st ed. “DSM-IV SUBTYPES OF MDD”. Copyright © 2008 Mosby

2.  William Davis, MD: “Wheat Belly. Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health”. HarperCollins Publishers LTD., Toronto, Canada, 2011.

3.  William Davis, MD: “Wheat Belly Cookbook. 150 Recipes to Help You Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health”. HarperCollins Publishers LTD., Toronto, Canada, 2012.

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

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Sep
01
2007

MS Vaccine Breakthrough

One of the great hopes associated with genetic research is the goal to combat disease. With the human genome project completed it is now possible to look at new therapies. The work remains large and seems to be overwhelming, but a new vaccine for MS represents a major triumph. MS has been an illness that has devastated individuals and their families. It also has vexed and frustrated researchers and health professionals. Immunomodulating therapy with interferon has been able to make a difference in the quality of life for many patients, but so far it has been a seemingly impossible dream to find a vaccine that is safe and effective.

Montreal research, which has been published in August, confirms that the vaccine works by reducing the numbers of the immune system cells attacking the nerve fiber sheath. MS belongs to the groups of autoimmune diseases, meaning that cells of the own immune system turn against other body cells and destroy them. The challenge has been to stop these cells. So far immunomodulators have been looked at as an answer to this problem. This breakthrough represents a first in the history of medicine where a DNA vaccine will be used in the treatment of an autoimmune disease, which is MS.

MS Vaccine Breakthrough

MS Vaccine Breakthrough

Other autoimmune diseases are lupus or rheumatoid arthritis. No vaccine is available for these diseases, but the first DNA vaccine represents hope for many, that more therapies will become available.

As this review shows, the DNA vaccine experiment against MS failed, because in clinical trials it did not stop MS lesions from growing: http://multiple-sclerosis-research.blogspot.com/2012/01/research-myelin-dna-vaccination-and.html

More information about MS: http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/multiple-sclerosis/

Reference: National Review of Medicine, August 30, 2007, page 10

Last edited November 3, 2014

Jun
01
2005

Epstein-Barr Virus Responsible For Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic disease, which is dreaded by patients and a puzzle to researchers. While there are MS treatments that control the disease, it remains crucial to treat the early onset. So far the triggering factors have been an unsolved puzzle. Genetic traits and poor nutrition have been implied, yet there has been no conclusive evidence. For a long time there has been the suspicion amongst researchers, that a “multiple sclerosis virus” could be the culprit.

New research, which has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that the truth is not far off.

Between 1988 and 2000 blood samples have been taken in a study among medical personnel of the United States. Special attention was paid to the group that was granted a permanent disability due to chronic illness. Amongst those who had Multiple Sclerosis, positive blood tests for Epstein Barr virus titers were prominent. The affected individuals were young adults, and the infection with the Epstein-Barr virus had occurred several years before the onset of the illness (the average time between the collection of the blood specimen and the onset of MS was 4 years.) There was also a correlation between the age of the patient and the occurrence of illness. The risk at age 25 was three-fold higher than at age 20 to contract Epstein Barr viral infection. Another strong indicator was an elevated serum level of IgG antibodies to EBNA complex or EBNA-1. This finding was associated with a three-fold risk for the development of MS.

Epstein-Barr Virus Responsible For Multiple Sclerosis

Epstein-Barr Virus Responsible For Multiple Sclerosis

This result would be of interest to young adults who were infected with mononucleosis, as the Epstein-Barr virus, which triggers the seemingly harmless and self-limiting “kissing disease”, seems to entail a higher risk for the development of MS in a younger adult population.

More information on MS:  http://nethealthbook.com/neurology-neurological-disease/multiple-sclerosis/

Reference: JAMA Vol293, Nr.20, 2496-2501, May 25,2005

Last edited October 28, 2014