Apr
03
2021

Pollen Allergies Make Covid-19 Infection Rates Worse

A recent study showed that pollen allergies make Covid-19 infection rates worse. This was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in March 2021.

The study determined that airborne pollen exposure enhances susceptibility to respiratory viral infections. Specifically, this includes SARS-CoV-2 infections as well. There were 130 test sites in 31 countries across 5 continents where measurements were made. Pollen concentration, air humidity and temperature, population density and lockdown effects on Covid-19 figures were measured. In countries with high pollen counts, high humidity and higher temperatures the Covid-19 rates were up to 44% higher than in countries with low pollen counts and colder climates.

PNAS study in more detail

In the following I am discussing the PNAS study in more detail. The SARS-CoV virus from the SARS epidemic in 2002 and the present SARS-CoV-2 virus are both capable to suppress the body’s interferon response to either virus. Additionally, there are intracellular proteins with the name “inflammasomes”, which the SARS-CoV-2 virus activates. With excessive activation this causes a cytokine storm, where inflammation spreads through the whole body. In the blood this leads to disseminated coagulopathy with multi organ failures. In the lungs severe acute respiratory syndrome occurs with severe viral pneumonia. On average mortality is 3.4%.

Tree and weed pollen can weaken the immune response

A study from South Korea examined what happens with exposure in asthmatic and allergic school-aged children to tree and weed pollen. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0091674919311856.

Allergic reactions make allergic children more prone to rhinovirus infections by reducing interferon in the blood. In addition, allergic reactions stimulate inflammasomes. When the SARS-CoV-2 virus affects an allergic child, both interferon depletion and excessive inflammasome activation make Covid-19 much more severe than in a child without allergies.

Warm spell in the Northern Hemisphere

On March 12, 2020 the WHO announced the Covid-19 pandemic when over 33% of the world’s countries were affected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, at the same time there was a large-scale warm spell across the Northern Hemisphere with tree pollens being distributed across the same regions. This resulted in an exponential increase of Covid-19 cases. The researchers determined that the rates of Covid-19 infections were highest in areas where there was a high tree pollen count, crowding of people and high humidity/temperatures. The researchers used data from 248 airborne pollen monitoring sites in 31 countries. The highest exponential growth rates of Covid-19 occurred in the countries with the highest pollen counts. 6 out of 8 countries studied with regard to high pollen counts showed a significant correlation with regard to Covid-19 infections in excess to just person-to person virus transmission.

Population density and lockdown affecting daily SARS-CoV-2 virus rate

Some countries had a complete lockdown when rates of infection were high. This reduced transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus by 50%. Those countries with only a partial lockdown still experienced a significant reduction of infection rates. Rural areas had significantly less daily SARS-CoV-2 virus rates compared to very densely populated cities.

The researchers observed the following:

  • There was a lag effect of 4 days between the increase of pollen concentration in the air and infection increase with the SARS-CoV-2 virus
  • Pollens in the air caused infection rates of SARS-CoV-2 to rise by 10 to 30%, but in some high pollen areas even up to 44%.
  • Lockdowns reduced infection rates of SARS-CoV-2 by 50%
  • Higher environmental temperatures and higher humidity of the air also increased infection rates of SARS-CoV-2, although this may have occurred indirectly by increasing the pollen count in the air

Discussion

  1. The authors added a thorough discussion of the multiple factors regarding the increase of the infection rate of Covid-19 in 2020. They pointed out that climatic factors, air pollutants, or pollen, often exert their effects at the same time. They quantitated the contribution of the pollen count in the air easily. In contrast, pollution and climatic factors were not predictable in their effects.
  2. The infection rate of the SARS-CoV-2 virus always lagged behind the increase in pollen count by 4 days. The researchers observed this in all those countries where increasing pollen counts were a significant factor.
  3. The epithelial lining of the nasal cavity is the target of inhaled pollen. The researchers cited several publications regarding reduced interferon production as a result of exposure to pollens in the nasal mucous membranes. This leaves the immune system with a weakness, which the SARS-CoV-2 virus exploits. Recently specialists discussed the use of intravenous interferon to interrupt the cytokine storm caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Pollen Allergies Make Covid-19 Infection Rates Worse

Pollen Allergies Make Covid-19 Infection Rates Worse

Conclusion

In a recent publication researchers showed that pollen allergies make Covid-19 infection rates worse. The investigators had 130 test sites in 31 countries across 5 continents where they took measurements. They measured pollen concentration, air humidity, temperature, population density and lockdown effects on Covid-19 figures. In March of 2020 there was a warming trend in the Northern Hemisphere. This caused pollen counts to significantly rise in many countries. The result was that the mucous membranes in the nasal cavity weakened. This made it easier for the SARS-CoV-2 virus to multiply and invade. A lag period of 4 days occurred between the rise of the pollen count and the start of SARS-CoV-2 infection. The authors recommend that those who react to pollens in the air should wear pollen filtering masks in the spring season. This minimizes the danger of getting viral infections including SARS-CoV-2 infections following pollen exposure.

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Jun
20
2020

Chronic Inflammation Can Cause Many Diseases

We knew since the mid 1990’s that chronic inflammation can cause many diseases. Among these are cancer, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), arthritis, dementia (Alzheimer’s disease), frailty and other degenerative disorders. LifeExtension reviewed this topic in 2019.

Older people often accumulate chronic inflammation, which associates with the aging process. Persistent pain is one of the symptoms that chronic inflammation can cause.

Doctors use tests like the C-reactive protein, hemoglobin A1C, homocysteine and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate to measure chronic inflammation.

When the doctor diagnoses chronic inflammation, it is important to find ways to inhibit it and finally resolve it. Curcumin, ginger and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are examples of measures that help inhibit inflammation. But it is only lately that scientists have found specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPM) that help to resolve chronic inflammation. They are polyunsaturated fatty acids, which health food stores offer as supplements.

Specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPM)

Researchers isolated several pro-resolving mediators that are metabolites of omega-3 fatty acids. This link discusses an experiment where researchers obtained synovial fluid from arthritis patients who took omega-3 fatty acids. They compared this to synovial fluid from volunteers who also took omega-3 fatty acid supplements. Within 4 weeks there was a big difference for the arthritis patients with higher levels of E- and D-series SPMs in synovial fluid and plasma. Dr. Silverman reviewed the action of SPMs here. He points out that they can be taken as supplements and that they are safe, because they do not have any side effects. Conditions such as asthma, irritable bowel syndrome and various musculoskeletal conditions with chronic inflammation respond very well to SPM supplements. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements (EPA) metabolize into the E-series resolvins.  On the other hand, Krill oil with Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) metabolizes into protectins, maresins and the D-series resolvins.

Three vital tasks of pro-resolving mediators

SPMs fulfill three vital tasks, called remove, restore and renew.  First, they activate macrophages, which remove dead cells and cellular debris as a result of chronic inflammation. Second, they restore the healthy balance of inflammatory compounds and anti-inflammatory substances. Third, SPMs help renew tissues that were damaged by chronic inflammation.

Some examples where SPM’s were helpful resolving inflammation in health conditions

  • Alzheimer’s disease patients had reduced SPMs in cerebrospinal fluid of living patients and in the hippocampus of corpses who had Alzheimer’s disease.
  • A research group showed that defective SPM resolution can be responsible for missing resolution of atheromatous plaques in arteries. This leads to more and more hardening of arteries until a heart attack or stroke occurs.
  • With obesity or metabolic syndrome insulin resistance develops. Researchers found that certain SPM’s are missing in obesity, which causes chronic inflammation. However, they also found that precursors of SPMs such as 17-hydroxydocosahexaenoic acid (17-HDHA) can serve as a novel treatment agent to treat obesity-related complications.

Newer studies about SPMs

  • 62 patients with knee osteoarthritis had the precursor of resolvins, 17-HDHA tested in the blood. Compared to controls with no arthritis the 17-HDHA level in the arthritis patients was low. When levels of 17-HDHA were high, there was no pain in osteoarthritis patients.
  • Chronic periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory condition in the mouth. In a rabbit model this condition was cured with resolvin E1 derived from omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Delayed wound healing is typical for type 2 diabetes. In a mouse model with diabetic mice researchers inflicted skin wounds on mice. Subsequently they showed that with resolvins mice wounds healed much faster than in control mice.
  • Chronic kidney failure, liver impairment, diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease showed abnormalities in the SPM system in humans. Potentially they will be healed with the help of resolvins or their precursors, which includes the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
Chronic Inflammation Can Cause Many Diseases

Chronic Inflammation Can Cause Many Diseases

Conclusion

New compounds have been detected that derive from the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. They have the name specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPM). Included are the resolvins D1 and D2, the resolvins E1, E2 and E3 as well as the precursors 18-hydroxyeicosapentaenoic acid (18-HEPE) and 17-hydroxydocosahexaenoic acid (17-HDHA). The function of these compounds is to stimulate macrophages to clean up areas of chronic inflammation and remove cell debris and injured cells that cannot survive. While anti-inflammatories like ginger and curcumin only tone down the inflammation, SPMs help to resolve chronic inflammation. Various chronic clinical conditions were identified as being due to chronic inflammation. Chronic kidney failure, liver impairment, diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease showed abnormalities in the SPM system. We may soon see alternative approaches treating these conditions with specialized pro-resolving mediators.

May
09
2020

Vitamin D Is the Definitive Link

Vitamin D deficiency caused rickets in the past, but now we know that vitamin D is the definitive link for other health problems. The lack of it is the reason for numerous illnesses. A search in my website gives you more than 170 blogs where I am discussing the effect of vitamin D. These describe how vitamin D is the definitive link in a lot of different diseases. In a 2015 study from Brazil the authors noted that a critical vitamin D blood level was 12 ng/mL. All these critically ill patients received treatment in an ICU setting. In vitamin D blood levels of 12 ng/mL the mortality rate was 32.2%. A control group of ICU patients with more than 12 ng/mL had a mortality rate of only 13.2%. The authors concluded that a low vitamin D level on ICU admission was an independent risk factor for mortality in this critically ill patient group.

A few diseases where low vitamin D is the definitive link for a poor outcome

In patients, who have arthritis, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, influenza and others, the laboratory tests that shows their 25-hydroxy vitamin D level, are usually below 15 ng/mL. This link has 269 peer reviewed references.

2015 Italian study showed that microvascular complications in diabetes patients were high, if the vitamin D3 blood levels were low. If patients had high levels of vitamin D, there were no complications such as retinopathy or nephropathy. But if levels were below 20 ng/mL, damages were significant in the capillaries of the eyes and kidneys.

Multiple sclerosis

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 leads to less vitamin D3 production in the skin. Multiple sclerosis (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 vitamin D calms down immune cells and remission of an MS relapse is more likely.

Dr. Fitzgerald and colleagues published a study in JAMA Neurology in 2015. Results of this study showed marked differences between MS patients with high and low vitamin D levels.

Multiple sclerosis rates with high and low vitamin D levels

Patients with the highest vitamin D blood levels (more than 40 ng/mL) had the lowest rates of new MS lesions. Previous studies found that a low blood level of vitamin D (less than 25 ng/mL) had an association with a higher risk of developing MS. Dr. Fitzgerald’s study showed that a 20 ng/mL (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 40 ng/mL (100 nmol/L) had the lowest amount of new MRI lesions (47% less than the patients with the lowest vitamin D levels).

Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease

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

Specifically, the researchers found the following observations.

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

Vitamin D is the definitive link for the immune system

In a publication of 2006 Dr. John Cannell and co-workers have reviewed why influenza has seasonal outbreaks. They found that the innate immune system was very dependent on vitamin D. Those who did not get enough sunlight in the northern hemisphere during January, February, March and April have an average 25-hydroxy vitamin D level of only 15 to 17 ng/mL. In contrast, from July to September the same volunteers had vitamin D levels of 24 to 29 ng/mL. The authors stressed that this was the reason why spring flus in the late winter/early spring season are common, but disappear in summer.

Vitamin D requirements for immune system is 2000 IU or more per day

Vitamin D is essential for the functioning of the innate and adaptive immune system. They also are the reason why children are not as affected by influenza viruses as adults are. Dr. Cannell said: “The innate immunity of the aged declined over the last 20 years due to medical and governmental warnings to avoid the sun. While the young usually ignore such advice, the elderly often follow it”. Had the older patients taken higher doses of vitamin D3 every day, their immunity would have been as strong as the children’s immunity. The publication cites another paper that found that 2000 IU per day or more will strengthen the immune system. Note that this is a higher dose than  treating rickets. Treatment of rickets responds to only 400 IU of vitamin D3 per day.

Mechanism of action of vitamin D in infectious diseases like influenza or Covid-19 coronavirus

Here is evidence from US researchers that states that higher doses of vitamin D3 will mitigate the course of influenza and of Covid-19 coronavirus. The researchers outlined that vitamin D has 3 effects:

  1. Maintaining tight epithelial junctions making it more difficult for the Covid-19 coronavirus to penetrate them.
  2. “Killing enveloped viruses through induction of cathelicidin and defensins.” These powerful antiviral polypeptides can kill viruses that have invaded the bloodstream within 1 to 2 days.
  3. “…And reducing production of proinflammatory cytokines by the innate immune system, thereby reducing the risk of a cytokine storm leading to pneumonia.” People who get viral pneumonia are at a high risk of death. By bringing the vitamin D blood level up to the higher range of normal, between 50 and 80 ng/mL, patients that have encountered Covid-19 coronavirus are more likely to survive.

Criticism of high dose vitamin D treatment

A common criticism of treatment with higher doses of vitamin D is that people would develop high blood calcium levels and would get kidney stones. Three recent studies have demystified this. A 2012 study looked at patients who were in the higher range of calcium levels, but deficient in vitamin D. They were treated with vitamin D3 und closely supervised. The calcium levels did not change after 1 year of high doses of vitamin D.

This 2018 study observed that there is a small amount of kidney stone formers who will form kidney stone with or without vitamin D3 treatment.  However, the large majority of patients do not form kidney stones with vitamin D treatment and their blood calcium levels stay the same before and after vitamin D treatment.

Toxic vitamin D blood levels

Toxic levels of vitamin D blood levels are above150 ng/mL, or 375 nmol/L. The therapeutic levels discussed here are well below these toxic levels.

Placebo controlled New Zealand study fails to show kidney stones

A placebo-controlled study from New Zealand went on for 3.3 years. 100,000 IU of vitamin D3 monthly (3333 IU per day on average) in the experimental group were compared to a placebo group. There were no vitamin D induced kidney stones and also no changes in calcium levels.

In past studies regarding vitamin D toxicity were done. But with these investigations there were many confounding factors that led to false results.  The investigators at those times mistakenly thought that they were side-effects of vitamin D. Up to this day conventional medicine often warns of hypercalcemia and kidney stones with vitamin D treatment. While the patient is on higher vitamin D levels, the physician can do blood and urine tests to see whether or not there is any concern.

Polypeptides released by vitamin D

There are more than 100 polypeptide hormones that are controlled by vitamin D. The most important ones for control of bacterial and viral infections are the defensin family and the cathelicidin family of polypeptides. They are instrumental in preventing the cytokine storm with a Covid-19 coronavirus infection treated with high vitamin D doses.

Decades after the original description of vitamin D researchers found out that vitamin D actually is a hormone.

There are vitamin D hormone receptors on almost every cell of the body. Vitamin D integrates the body cells and they respond as one unit. It is only recently that researchers found out about the release of polypeptides, particularly defensin and cathelicidin. They are  vital in the defence against the Covid-19 Coronavirus and the various flu types.

Vitamin D Is the Definitive Link

Vitamin D Is the Definitive Link

Conclusion

The detection of vitamin D originally occurred when rickets was examined. But later researchers found that vitamin D has hormone qualities.

You can prevent several diseases, like arthritis, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and influenza. But you must take adequate amounts of vitamin D to bring the vitamin D blood level up. 25-hydroxy vitamin D blood levels are now recognized as the standard test to measure whether you have enough vitamin D on board. When it comes to fighting infections the vitamin D blood level has to be above 30 ng/mL (above 75 nmol/L). At this level the immune system will release defensin and cathelicidin polypeptides. These are powerful antiviral and antibacterial substances that can even fight Covid-19 coronavirus.

High vitamin D therapy is safe

With careful monitoring of blood vitamin D levels side effects of high vitamin D dosages were not found. Conventional medicine keeps on repeating old studies with confounding errors. This scares people, and as a result they don’t want to take enough vitamin D for prevention. Hypercalcemia and kidney stones were NOT found in randomized newer studies. As long as the vitamin D level does not exceed 50-80 ng/mL (or 125-200 nmol/L) vitamin D therapy is perfectly safe.

Jan
18
2020

Antibiotics In Children Can Trigger Allergies And Asthma Later In Life

Whoever treats a child’s cold must know that antibiotics in children can trigger allergies and asthma later in life. This is what a study released on Dec. 20, 2019 has shown. The researchers examined records of 798,426 children seen at the Department of Defense TRICARE health care program. They were born between 2001 and 2013. The physicians examined the children later again for allergies. The more antibiotics the children received in childhood, the more severe the youngster’s allergies were later in life.

More details about the study

The researchers found that different antibiotic types had different risks to cause allergic reactions later in life.

  • Penicillin: 1.3-fold risk
  • Penicillin with a β-lactamase inhibitor: 1.21-fold risk
  • Macrolides: 1.28-fold risk)
  • Cephalosporins: 1.19-fold risk
  • Sulfonamides: 1.06-fold risk

The type of allergies that the children developed later in life were food allergies, anaphylaxis, asthma, atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis or contact dermatitis. The researchers stressed that their finding indicated an association between taking antibiotics and developing allergies later. It was not a causal relationship.

Food allergies in more detail

Anaphylaxis

This allergic condition is an emergency and requires immediate medical attention. It can occur when the body overreacts to peanuts or penicillin. It can occur with foods, and the reaction is sudden and severe. The symptoms may include wheezing, shortness of breath, a cough or tightness in the throat. The blood pressure may drop leading to light-headedness and passing out. The skin may show hives, swelling and a rash. The digestive symptoms may be nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Other symptoms may involve itching eyes, headaches, anxiety and a feeling of impending doom.

Asthma

Airborne grass and tree pollens, mold spores and dust, but also peanuts and other strong allergens can trigger an asthma attack. The symptoms can be shortness of breath, wheezing, tightness in the chest, trouble falling asleep because of coughing and being short of breath.

Atopic dermatitis (eczema)

Often atopic dermatitis starts below the age of 5 and can last until late adolescence or adulthood. The symptoms can be dry skin, itching red patches of skin and thickened scaly skin. Allergic contact dermatitis is common in patients with atopic dermatitis.

Allergic rhinitis

People who suffer from allergic rhinitis are sensitized to particles in the air like grass and tree pollen, molds or cigarette fumes. They develop a stuffy nose, itching and watery eyes, sneezing and swelling around the eye lids. An allergist can do skin scratch tests to find out what the patient is allergic to. Subsequently, if the allergies are strong, the allergist may decide to start desensitization with allergy shots.

Allergic conjunctivitis

A person who is allergic to pollen and mold spores will react to this when in contact with it and often develop allergic conjunctivitis. An eye inflammation will develop within a few minutes leading to swelling of the conjunctiva around the eye ball. The eyes end up looking red, itching, burning and being watery.

Contact dermatitis

Contact dermatitis develops when your body brushes against a substance that your body has been previously sensitized to. One example is poison ivy contact dermatitis. But many other substances can cause similar reactions: solvents, shampoos, permanent wave solutions and rubbing alcohol. In addition, plants, bleach and detergents, fertilizers, pesticides and airborne substances (sawdust, dust from woollen materials) can also do the same.

The gut biome

Dr. Purvi Parikh is an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Health in New York. She was not involved in the study, but commented to it as follows: “One reason why there might be an association is because our microbiome, specifically in our gut, plays a large role in our immune systems. Antibiotics are known to not only kill the bacteria that are causing an infection, but also ‘good’ bacteria our immune system needs to protect us from developing allergic or autoimmune diseases.”

Treat bacterial infections with antibiotics when needed

She went on to say: “Overall, parents should know that this study shows an association but not necessarily cause and effect. So, if a child truly needs an antibiotic for a bacterial infection, they should not withhold it due to fear of allergic disease. However, on that same note, one should not over use antibiotics if not needed – for a virus or a cold – as there may be long-term consequences from over use.”

Antibiotics In Children Can Trigger Allergies And Asthma Later In Life

Antibiotics In Children Can Trigger Allergies And Asthma Later In Life

Conclusion

A new study showed that antibiotics can cause allergies and asthma later in life. The reason seems to be that our gut bacteria react to the antibiotics and the gut dysbiosis (disbalance of the gut bacteria) persists, when the antibiotics have been discontinued. The immune system can then react in ways that are detrimental to the child and adolescent. Anaphylaxis, asthma, atopic dermatitis, allergic rhinitis, allergic conjunctivitis or contact dermatitis are all different manifestations of allergies that can develop later in life. At this point we only know that there is an association between these allergic manifestations and the antibiotic use in childhood. More clinical trials will need to shed a light on what causes allergies in some children, but not in others.

Jul
07
2018

Asthma In Adults

On April 6, 2018 CNN published an article about asthma in adults. It was called “Developing Severe Asthma in Adulthood”.

Asthma in adults occurs with a frequency of about 2.3 per 1000 people per year. This publication also noted that women suffer from this condition more often than men. For both sexes the occurrence of asthma in adults peaks at 35 years of age.

Symptoms of asthma

The triggering factors for asthma can be infections, allergies, or the condition can come on spontaneously. Coughing is one of the main symptoms. You may be breathless when walking stairs. You may feel weak or tired when exercising. After exercise you may be wheezing or coughing. If you measure your breathing capacity with a peak flow meter, the values are lower than normal. Cold air or irritants like cigarette smoke may trigger coughing or wheezing. In industrial workers the trigger for asthma can be noxious fumes.

Diagnosis of asthma

Spirometry

Your doctor likely will order a test, called spirometry. You are breathing into a tube with a connection to a spirometer. A technician will instruct you to breathe out to the max (maximal exhalation). Next you will have to breathe in as quickly as you can. These breathing activities translate into a breathing curve on the read-out of the spirometer. With asthma there is a certain degree of restriction of airflow due to spasms in the smaller bronchial tubes, called bronchioles. This will be obvious from the breathing pattern of the spirometry read-out.

Methacholine challenge test

When the spirometry test is normal or near normal, a Methacholine challenge test can be another diagnostic tool. If this produces an asthma attack, it is clear that the person does indeed have asthma.

Measuring nitric oxide in your breath

Our bodies normally produce nitric oxide, and a small amount of it appears in your breath. But if there is a large amount of it present in your breath, it indicates chronic inflammation in your airways, which can be one of the causes of asthma.

Other tests to rule out other related diseases

Your doctor may want to order sinus x-rays to rule out sinusitis or a chest X-ray to rule out pneumonia. If he suspects allergies a referral to an allergist sill be next. The specialist will do skin prick tests to see what you are reacting to.

Differential diagnosis of asthma and other diseases

When the physician is thinking about an asthma diagnosis, it will be necessary to exclude other diseases first. It is important to exclude a bronchial or lung infection as well as the presence of emphysema or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Clots in the pulmonary vasculature (pulmonary emboli) have to be ruled out. When there is a history of gastroesophageal reflux, tests should exclude that there is aspirated gastric contents into the lung. Another condition that could bring on wheezing is chronic congestive heart failure, where the heart fails to pump enough blood, and shortness of breath is a consequence. Tests are available to exclude all of these conditions.

Treatment of asthma in adults

Anti-inflammatory medication

As all patients with asthma have inflammation in the airways, it is important to use corticosteroid inhalers that will control this. These inhalers will control the swelling and mucous production in the lining of the bronchial tubes. With the daily use of these inhalers the airflow improves, the airways become less sensitive and the patient experiences fewer asthma episodes.

Bronchodilators

Bronchodilators are inhalers that will relax the muscle bands around the bronchial tubes. This allows the patient to breather easier. The mucous flows more freely and can be coughed up easier. There are short-acting and long-acting forms of bronchodilators. Your physician will instruct you which one to use.

Asthma In Adults

Asthma In Adults

Conclusion

Adult onset asthma is separate from asthma of childhood. Often the triggers are allergies or irritants, including industrial irritants. With a proper diagnosis and treatment adult asthmatics have a normal life expectancy. It is important to control the inflammation of the airways with anti-inflammatory corticosteroid inhalers. For acute asthma attacks a bronchodilator must be used right away to ensure normal airflow is restored. The patient learns how to modify the asthma therapy. As a result there are very few occasions where the patient would need treatment in a hospital. Most patients can treat an asthma attack quickly and they respond very well to the treatment. As a result adult asthmatics can lead active lives and have no physical limitations.

Mar
17
2018

Benefits Of Hot Baths And Saunas

Don Benedict hurt his lower back and tells about benefits of hot baths and saunas to relieve his chronic pain. He is a 70-year old former handball player. He played competitive handball for 30 years in the Pacific Northwest. His story is reviewed here. In order to stay in shape, he ran 5 miles every other day. But at the age of 57 he ruptured a disc in his back. In the following years he ruptured several more discs and had three back surgeries for that. Eventually scar formation set in and no more surgery was possible. This left him with a chronic pain syndrome, for which he received prescriptions for strong pain medications. OxyContin, Tramadol and anti-anxiety pills were on his prescription list. He needed to take 14 doses of pills per day to control his chronic back pain.

Benefits of hot baths and saunas for chronic pain

Finally he remembered that as a younger man he was a summer river guide on Idaho’s Salmon River. When he and his wife had sore muscles they would relax in the hot baths of natural hot springs. Other people who visited these hot springs told him how having hot baths helped them for their aches and pains. For the past four years Don and his wife have been visiting the hot springs in Idaho City three times per week. This has decreased Don’s back pain significantly. He could reduce more than half of his pain medications and reduce the potency of the pain pills as well. The water temperature in the hot springs hovers between 97 and 99 degrees Fahrenheit (36 to 37 degrees Celsius). His wife, who has an asthmatic condition, reported that the hot soaks helped her muscle spasms around the throat.

Other treatment modalities to prevent chronic pain

13 years ago, when Don ruptured his first disc stem, cell treatments were not readily available. But if the same would happen today an unconventional stem cell therapy could be a treatment modality, and chronic pain could be avoided. I am mentioning this here, because Don’s suffering from chronic back pain was causing him a lot of unnecessary suffering. Discectomy surgery, which destabilizes the back and causes scarring, is not the first choice of treatment today.

Stem cell therapy

Instead stem cells are taken from the patient’s fatty tissue (liposuction) and from the bone marrow. A stem cell mix between bone marrow stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells (from fatty tissue) is made. Platelet rich plasma is added to this as an activator. The mix is injected into the disc space of the ruptured disc. Now the stem cells do their magic healing. The beauty of this medical procedure is that healing takes place without any scarring. The stem cells mend all of the damage. They do so by transforming themselves into identical body cells that overbridge broken tissues.

Benefits of hot baths and saunas for heart

  1. 2016 study published in the Journal of Physiology describes a study that included adults in their low twenties. Their arms were intermittently exposed to 40.5°C (105°F) water temperature for 60 minutes over a period of 8 weeks. This lowered their blood pressure and caused the arteries in the treatment group to be more flexible.
  2. Scientists in Finland have focused on the benefits of saunas, which is a Scandinavian tradition. Their study in the American Journal of Hypertension followed more than 1,600 middle-age men for almost 25 years. The results showed that the more the men visited saunas, the less they were suffering from high blood pressure. These were the statistics:
  • Visited sauna 2 to 3 times per week: 24% less likely to develop high blood pressure compared to those who had a sauna only once or not at all.
  • Visited sauna 4 to 7 times per week: 46% reduction of blood pressure.

Benefits of hot baths and saunas regarding dementia prevention

2016 study out of Finland found that frequent exposures to saunas could reduce the risk of developing dementia.

Compared to having a sauna only once per week (no reduction of dementia) these were some observations:

  • Visiting the sauna 2-3 times per week: 22% reduction of dementia.
  • Visiting the sauna 4-7 times per week: 66% reduction of dementia.

With regard to Alzheimer’s disease the corresponding figures were a 20% reduction and a 65% reduction.

Benefits of hot baths and saunas for brain injuries

Dr. Burke from the Emory University Rehabilitative Hospital is investigating the benefits of hot baths and saunas regarding brain-injured patients.

He recommends 4 saunas per week for brain-injured patients. Dr. Burke said: “This is one thing that’s passive and easier to do, especially in people who have injured joints who need to keep their brains and hearts in good condition, but can’t physically do some of the exercises.“

Caution regarding benefits of hot baths and saunas

Within 48 hours of a new injury, Dr. Burke says, it is best to use ice packs in order to reduce the swelling of the tissues. But subsequently he switches the patients to heat in form of saunas. Some patients have low blood pressure to start with. They may not be good candidates for hot baths as they may pass out when their already low blood pressure gets a further reduction. Always check with your own doctor before doing hot baths or saunas.

Europe’s history of hot baths and saunas

Saunas have a long history in Finland and in the rest of Europe.

Hot baths have a century-old history in Europe and Japan.

Father Sebastian Kneipp invented hydrotherapy, where cold and hot water baths are applied sequentially. The present resurgence of interest in the benefits of hot baths and saunas for healing purposes is nothing new. What may be new is that the medical profession at large is finally paying attention to the research of Father Sebastian Kneipp. He knew that there were benefits of hot baths and saunas.

Benefits Of Hot Baths And Saunas

Benefits Of Hot Baths And Saunas

Conclusion

There are benefits of hot baths and saunas. This is what was spelled out in the studies cited in this review. The fact that heat can heal was something that Father Sebastian Kneipp knew long time ago. Medical facts have a way to recirculate. But now we know that it can lower blood pressure and can improve the flexibility of arteries. It can help with tissue perfusion and reduce chronic pain. But it also prevents dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition it helps patients with brain injuries to recover faster than without hot baths and saunas.

Advantage of heat treatments

The advantage of heat treatments is the fact that no side effects occur like with the use of drugs. Heat treatments are natural, but drug treatments are artificial. Hot baths and saunas can easily be part of one’s lifestyle. If you feel you need more of it, you can go ahead and do it, but if you feel you don’t need as much, use less. Make it fit into your lifestyle. It is also obvious that too much of a good thing is no longer a good approach to wellness. Limit the temperature in hot baths and don’t exaggerate the time you spend in a hot sauna.

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Mar
15
2014

Mold Allergies Often Overlooked

In a recent news story extensive mold infestation was found in a house that had oriented strand boards (OSB) instead of plywood walls. The house also was tightly sealed trapping moisture, which contributed to the extensive mold problem.

Mold problems have been around for centuries, but only in the past few decades allergists  have pointed out to their patients how important it is to prevent this from happening.

In the following I will review a few typical scenarios that can lead to mold accumulation.

1. Mold from airtight house construction

The homeowner described in the link above is not the only case in the world that has a mold problem. Energy efficient homes are popular because they save energy costs; homeowners often also respond to gas companies, electric utility companies and government incentives to convert to airtight home construction.

In the 1980’s the construction industry introduced the cheaper OSB products to replace the more expensive plywood for wall construction. This is often the problem with newer house construction. However, older homes are not immune to mold development.

2. Roof leaks in older homes

Older homes that were built in the 1970’s may have plywood walls and have a bit of airflow from poorer wall construction, which would prevent mold formation. But roofs are older and do not always get replaced right away when a leak is detected. It may even take some time in areas where there is less precipitation before it is picked up during a particularly heavy rainstorm. Water that enters from a leaky roof can form a puddle on top of the ceiling where mold softens the drywall material until a leak in the ceiling causes water to drip down onto the floor. The mold spores multiply particularly well in wall-to-wall carpeting, but OSB material is also a good growth opportunity for molds due to the mini air spaces between the glued wood pieces. Plywood with its several tight layers is much more resistant to water penetration and mold growth.

Mold Allergies Often Overlooked

Mold Allergies Often Overlooked

3. Mold growth after hurricanes

After hurricane Sandy images of “black mold” were frequently shown in the media. The problem is that after 48 hours anything that was in contact with water produces mold. However, often with disasters like hurricanes there are evacuation orders and you cannot return to your home for several days. There may be further delay because there is a waiting period for insurers to assess the amount of damage, before you can clean all surfaces affected by mold.

The end is result often that expensive mold sanitation is needed or the person ends up moving away and the house is levelled before a new house can be built.

4. Effects of molds

People with preexisting allergies and asthma are more susceptible to the effects of molds. It leads to itchy eyes, wheezing, coughing, and exacerbation of asthma.

Here is a brief overview what the CDC is stating about mold. This site also explains that you can recognize a mold problem because of a musty smell or foul stench in the air and because of the appearance (discoloration of ceilings or walls, water damage).

You can clean hard surfaces with bleach water. Bleach kills molds, but it may have to be cleaned several times within a few days to get rid of the last spores. Whatever cannot be sanitized in this way must be removed or replaced.

5. Health concerns regarding molds

Ref. 1 reviewed the public concern about the toxic effects of molds. It noted that with the Internet and the popular press having exaggerated some of the connections of symptoms with mold allergies, the term “mold madness” has been coined (Ref.2). Despite the paranoia in the general public about toxins from molds, there is only a small percentage of the population that is sensitive to molds where IgE antibodies and IgG antibodies against molds can be determined through blood tests. These individuals often are also allergic to other environmental allergens like grass pollen and dust mites. The asthmatic reactions in sensitive people are not as severe as what peanut traces would do to peanut sensitive patients, but skin testing and blood test screening for specific IgE and IgG antibodies do often confirm that sensitive people indeed can have specific mold allergies. In the vast majority of people these tests are negative and correlations between mold infestations and allergic reactions could not be verified (Ref.1).

6. Fixing mold damage and dealing with allergies

It follows from this that you should remove any visible molds and fix whatever the cause was for its appearance. Carefully disinfect the areas with diluted bleach water (the CDC recommends 1 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water) several times. Make sure the areas are dry and not musty otherwise you  have  work on improving ventilation. If you are not one of these hypersensitive persons, there is nothing to worry further. However, if you are hypersensitive an allergist should examine you. Common indoor molds that cause the so-called “immediate type hyper reactivity” are due to the mold species Aspergillum and Penicillium. Most outdoor molds that can cause problems for sensitive people are due to Alternaria and Cladosporium species. The latter would be the ones found in carpets after a leaky roof has caused problems. When the allergist has found specific allergies to one or several of the mold species, allergy shots may be prescribed that would have to be given weekly to the sensitive person who was found to have environmentally induced asthma. Often it takes several years for these desensitization shots to stop the affected person from reacting  to molds. In some cases patients need to stay on these shots life-long.

Conclusion

The key with regard to mold allergies is to prevent mold growth by being vigilant about detecting early problems with leaky roofs, walls and cleaning up water damage right away. When there is a musty tell- tale smell, investigate right away and remedy the problem. For most people this is the end of the story. However, a small percentage of very sensitive people need to consult with an allergist who should investigate whether or not these people would benefit from allergy injections.

In some rare cases the affected person may have to relocate to another house that is free from molds.

More information about asthma: http://nethealthbook.com/lung-disease/asthma-introduction/

References

1.Shannon: Haddad and Winchester’s Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, 4th ed. Copyright 2007 Saunders

2. Zacharisen MC, Fink JN: “Is indoor “mold madness” upon us?” Ann. Allergy Asthma Immun. 2005; 94:12-13.

Last edited Nov. 7, 2014

Mar
08
2014

Protecting Yourself From Environmental Toxins

Environmental toxins are toxins that may be in your drinking water, in what you eat, in the air you breathe, or they enter your body through your skin when you swim in contaminated water or walk on a sandy, wet beach.

In the following blog I will address some of these issues and how we can defend ourselves against toxins.

The youngest and most vulnerable

Toxins are particularly bad for infants and premature babies.

The reasons for this are the following ones: their kidney function (tubular secretion) is only 20% to 30% of that of an adult; the cytochrome P-450 enzyme system in the liver, one of the toxin eliminators is slowed down to only 25% to 50% of the adult activity and glucuronidation in the liver, another detoxification process, reaches adult levels only at the age of 3 years. The kidneys and the liver are limiting the removal of toxins by way of urine and bile in the newborn. Stomach acidity in a premature has a pH of 4.7, in a full-term newborn 2.3–3.6 and in an adult 1.4–2.0. This is important to note as a lack of stomach acid increases susceptibility of newborns and infants to gastrointestinal infections and cause diarrhea. Percutaneous absorption in newborns is much higher than in adults, which makes them very susceptible to absorbing toxins through the skin (Ref.1).

Diabetes from environmental toxins

Environmental toxins can cause insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

Bisphenol A (BPA) is used to make polycarbonate and epoxy resins and is found primarily in food and beverage containers. The world population has been exposed to this since 1957 and as a result 90% of US residents have detectable levels of BPA in their urine. Ref.2 explains that the higher the urine concentration of BPA, the higher the risk is for developing diabetes.

Persistent organic pollutants are another source of concern: pesticides and herbicides, dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls, hexachlorobenzene, and hexachlorocyclohexane have all been found in humans. Several investigators have shown that virtually all of the risk in obese patients to develop diabetes comes from the fat-soluble persistent organic pollutants (Ref.2).

Inorganic arsenic is another pollutant that is found in soil and rock naturally and finds its way into the drinking water. About 8% of the public water system of the US exceeds 10 mcg/L for drinking water, which has been set as the safe limit for drinking water by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s standard. Anything above those levels is considered toxic.Ref.2 describes that people who ingest inorganic arsenic will excrete it in the urine; the highest group with arsenic in their urine had a risk of 3.58-fold to develop diabetes when compared to the lowest group. Curiously enough organic arsenic that is found in fish and shellfish is excreted in the urine unchanged and does not cause diabetes. Overall this indicates to me that nobody should consume or cook with contaminated water that contains inorganic arsenic. Reverse osmosis filters will protect you from this risk.

Protecting Yourself From Environmental Toxins

Protecting Yourself From Environmental Toxins

Other toxins around the house

Volatile organic compounds are often contained in carpets, but also in laser and inkjet printers. They are part of everyone’s life as this link shows. Varied symptoms like irritation of eyes, nose or throat, breathing problems, headaches, loss of coordination, damage to the liver, kidneys and the brain have been reported after exposure to volatile organic compounds. Long-term exposure can even cause cancer in animals and has been suspected to cause cancer in humans as well.

Air fresheners and cleaning solutions that contain ethylene-based glycol ethers and terpenes have been the subject of a study that examined concentrations in the air and interaction with ozone that can also be released by some cleaners. As this link shows the investigators concluded that with exposure to high enough concentrations and long enough exposures to these fumes lung cancer can be caused in cleaning personnel. They recommended to use cleaning solutions only in diluted form and to air out the premises well after cleaning. Another component of many air fresheners and cleaning chemicals is paradichlorobenzene, the same chemical that is contained in mothballs.

There have been problems with flame retardants: polybrominated diphenyl ethers, which are cancer producing; they have been outlawed in the US since 2004, but older mattresses, upholstery, television, computer casings and circuit boards may still contain them.

Lead and mercury poisoning, and radioactive pollutants

Manufacturers were not allowed to use lead in paints anymore since 1978. Paint from buildings older than that still may contain lead. There have been serious lead poisonings in children who were gnawing on items painted with lead containing paint. Lead causes problems with your central nervous system, brain, blood cells and kidneys. Just last year a news story about lead found in fashion jewelry surfaced warning about cheap fashion jewelry from China. Lead form these items can be absorbed through the skin and cause lead poisoning. Because of the apparent lack of regulations in China it is my recommendation not to buy anything that goes into your mouth or on your skin, if it has been grown or produced in China.

Mercury from tuna and other predator fish: It is sad that the oceans are polluted to the point where it has become unsafe to eat predator fish as there is an accumulation of mercury through the food chain.

How did things develop this way? Back 100 years and more ago gold panning and the purification process of gold caused mercury to enter into rivers and allow mercury to end up in the oceans where it has since accumulated; it just sits there as it has nowhere to go.

Coal burning (yes, there is mercury in coal) has also contributed to this by smoke being emitted from smoke stacks containing mercury vapors, which ended up returning to earth as polluted rain and drained through the river system into the oceans.

It is monomethylmercury that accumulates in the tissue of humans. It affects many organs, such as the brain, kidneys, lungs, and skin. It causes various symptoms like red cheeks, fingers, and toes; there can be bleeding from the mouth and ears; it can cause rapid heartbeats, high blood pressure, intense sweating, loss of hair, teeth, and nails. It also can cause blindness, loss of hearing, impaired memory, and lack of coordination, disturbed speech and birth defects. You may think all mercury comes from the outside. However, silver amalgam fillings in your teeth could also be the source of mercury poisoning. It is a good idea to replace amalgam/mercury fillings with ceramic fillings.

There are many forms of other marine pollution as this link shows.

One particular concerning aspect is pollution with radioactive materials as the Fukushima disaster in Japan has shown. Following the catastrophe on March 11, 2011 there have been several leaks of radioactive material into the ocean, which are described here. Dr. John Apsley II pointed out that with the explosions in Fukushima there were also several releases of radioactive pollution into the stratosphere. This pollution has subsequently traveled around the globe and has come down as radioactive rain. He has made it his ambition to help people minimize radiation exposure from nuclear accidents such as Fukushima.

Protecting yourself from toxins

Having said that pollution and toxins are problems that we are living with, how can we protect ourselves from all of that?

1. Avoid as many unsafe chemicals around you as you can. This includes checking ingredients in hair care and body care products, toothpaste, hair dyes, cosmetics, mouthwashes and underarm deodorants.  I have written a blog about toxins in the bathroom and what you should watch for.

2. I would recommend you switch from a standard food to organic food. It has become unsafe to eat non-organic meats, leafy vegetables, vegetables and fruit. There are too many residues of herbicides and pesticides contained also in meat, not only in vegetables and fruit. Washing will not remove these substances, even though some merchants may tell you otherwise. Buyer beware!

3. Detoxification methods are available and I have reviewed them in this blog. Briefly, to remove lead and mercury a formal intravenous chelation protocol should be followed.  Depending on how many heavy metal toxins you have on board, you may need only a few treatments or else up to 20. Here is a more conservative website stating that it would be safe to have silver amalgam fillings. I think that gold and ceramic fillings are much safer.

4. Genetically modified food is another danger as I have summarized in this blog. This is another reason why I like to stick to organic food. There is evidence that GMO food causes autoimmune diseases, infertility and chronic inflammation that can eventually lead to cancer. It may take decades to prove this, but I am not willing to be a human guinea pig.

5. I have mentioned in a prior blog that we live in a toxic world. You need to carefully look at your home and remove toxins. You need to assess your drinking water. A water analysis can tell you how good the water in your home is and whether there are concerns about inorganic arsenic. Usually places that sell filter systems can advise you in that regard. Your drinking water should either be bottled pure water or else reverse osmosis water that can be part of a filter system in your house.

6.Vitamins and supplements have been shown to support your cell integrity and have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that protect you from toxins. I discussed this in detail in my NetHealthBook under nutrition. For instance vitamin D3 in doses of 5000 IU or more and CoQ-10 are powerful anti-inflammatories and CoQ-10 is also an antioxidant and preserves mitochondrial function. High fish oil supplements (3 to 6 Grams per day) have anti-inflammatory effects and protect your cell membrane integrity. With these overlapping qualities of vitamins and supplements your body will be in a much stronger position to defend itself against the negative effects of toxins. When you take multivitamins, this translates into telomere lengthening of 5.1% (or converted into a survival advantage of 9.8 years when it is accumulated over a life time). Ref. 4 explains this in more detail.

7. Exposure to radioactive substances is a scary thought, but this is becoming more and more a reality, at least for those who live close to disaster areas such as the Fukushima site in Japan or the Chernobyl site in the Ukraine. But according to Dr. Apsley II low dose radiation that we have already received in the US and in Canada following the Fukushima disaster is equally disastrous (Ref.3). Many of the vitamins and supplements I have mentioned are also cell and mitochondria protective and will help with DNA repair following radiation damage, but you must avoid sugar and other refined carbs and starches to reduce the oxidative effect on cells and on LDL cholesterol to prevent premature aging and cell death. Ref. 3 contains a lot more detail about this and explains what specific supplements can be taken to detoxify your system from specific radioactive elements that function as free radicals. There are specific antidotes for radioactive iodine-129 and iodine-131, radioactive cesium-137 and others.

Conclusion

Many people shrug their shoulders when they hear that pollution has an effect on their lives. They feel that they are powerless and cannot do anything about this. The truth is far from this! Above I mentioned seven points that you can follow to counter toxins. On top of that you can get politically active and urge your government representative to create a nuclear free zone in your area. Ref. 3 contains compelling evidence why this is so important not only for us now, but for future generations and the future of mankind. We need to hold those who provide us with food and beverages accountable for the quality of these. Shrugging it off is not good enough. Get involved. Buy organic food. Avoid the section in the grocery store where sugar and high carb foods are sold. It’s good for your own health, but it will collectively change the mentality of the grocery store owners who will notice that they are stuck with the comfort foods that sold well in the past. This new trend will result in cheaper prices for healthy foods and more availability of organic food.

References

1. Shannon: Haddad and Winchester’s Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, 4th ed. © 2007 Saunders. Chapter 18:“Toxicologic Issues in the Neonate”.

2. Rakel: Integrative Medicine, 3rd ed. © 2012 Saunders. Chapter 31: “Insulin Resistance and the Metabolic Syndrome”.

3. Dr. John W. Apsley II : “Fukushima Meltdown & Modern Radiation: Protecting Ourselves and Our Future Generations” © 2011. Temet Nosce Publications, Sammamish, WA 98075

4. Xu, Qun, Parks, C.G., DeRoo, L.A., Cawthon, R.M., Sandler, D.P. and Chen, H. Multivitamin use and telomere length in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 89 (April 2009):1857-63. Full text (PDF): http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/89/6/1857.full?sid=9aab0e13-b4d2-42ad-b44c-15cffc6771c3

Last edited March 8, 2014

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Jan
18
2014

The Superpowers Of Vitamin D

Introduction

This article deals with the superpowers of vitamin D. Originally, researchers found that vitamin D was the missing ingredient in preventing rickets in growing children. They established that 400 IU of vitamin D daily prevented rickets. Medical investigators determined that the active metabolite was vitamin D. The body has receptors on all vital organs for vitamin D. This includes the heart, brain, bones, kidneys and liver. In recent years new findings showed that the RDA of 400 IU of vitamin D3 daily was too low for many diseases. In other words, many diseases can develop when vitamin D intake is too low, particularly in the aging population. Researchers showed that higher doses of vitamin D3 in the range of 800 to 1000 IU per day prevent osteoporosis, falls and fractures in older adults and in nursing home populations.

The immune system requires higher doses of vitamin D3

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. This transforms a cholesterol metabolite (7-dehydrocholesterol) into the vitamin D precursor (vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol). We absorb this from naturally occurring fish oil and oily fish. 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.

Oral vitamin D3 supplements

Patients whose vitamin D levels are too low have to take vitamin D3 supplements. 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.

Some people require higher doses of vitamin D3

However, doses of 5000 IU to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 capsules per day are necessary for optimal vitamin D3 health. This leads to levels of below 150 ng/ml of 25(OH)D levels, which were shown by researchers 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 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 is 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

Vitamin D improves teeth in offspring, helps with chronic pain

  1. Also, if a woman takes vitamin D3 during her pregnancy, the first set of teeth in the offspring will have fewer cavities.
  2. 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 physicians treat vitamin D3 deficiency, which almost always is present in patients with chronic pain.

Prevention of flus and Covid-19, asthmatics improve

  1. 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 about the pros and cons of vitamin D where dosages are also discussed.
  2. Asthmatic patients do better with vitamin D3 supplements requiring less maintenance anti-asthmatic medicine to keep them balanced with regard to their airways.

Partial prevention of Alzheimer’s disease with vitamin D

  1. 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.  Older patients require higher doses of vitamin D3. 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 for much higher doses of vitamin D3 in middle aged and older patients.
  2. There is a link of high blood pressure to vitamin D3 deficiency and it is better manageable with medication when vitamin D3 levels are normal.

Vitamin D lengthens telomeres and increases longevity

  1. 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; there is an association of vitamin D3 and 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!

Vitamin D fights inflammation

  1. 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 respond favorably to higher doses of vitamin D3. In these cases physicians use 20,000 to 30,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily. This information has not yet percolated into mainstream medicine.
  2. Higher percentages of cardiovascular disease occur in patients who have lower than 15 ng/ml  25-Hydroxy-vitamin D 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 vitamin D blood levels exceed 150 ng/mL reducing the vitamin D dose or stopping supplementation is prudent. Otherwise it has been difficult to establish a toxic range. Most publications about toxic levels of  vitamin D point out that anything above 150 ng/mL would be in the 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).

Toxic vitamin D levels difficult to find

The papers that indicated that it would be unsafe or unnecessary to take vitamin D3 were untrue. It seems that they had other agendas than communicating the truth. There was no release of calcium from the bones and calcium absorption from the gut was not too high. 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.

Patient taking unintentional high doses of vitamin D3 survived

I talked to a participant of the conference with a fellowship degree in anti-aging medicine what knowledge we have about vitamin D3 toxicity. He told me that there has been an unintentional overdose. In this case a compounding pharmacy made a mistake. A patient accidentally received a dosage of 500,000 Units of vitamin D3 per day for a full three months. The patient felt sluggish, but did not have any other symptoms. His physician told him to stop the vitamin D3 compound. He had an uneventful recovery with no detrimental effects. At this point no documented overdose of vitamin D3 exists.

Conclusion

Vitamin D3 is a vital supplement. Initially researchers showed that it prevents rickets in children. Subsequently physicians found that it also prevents depression, MS, infections and 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: https://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

Aug
31
2013

Peanut Allergies Are Deadly

Introduction

This article is about “peanut allergies are deadly”. In the US 1.5 million suffer from peanut allergies (Ref.1). People who have peanut allergies have to avoid peanuts and foods that contain even traces of peanuts lifelong. Here is a recent example of a 13-year old girl who died at a camp when she tried food contaminated with peanuts. Before we discuss peanut allergies in detail, we need to review first how the immune system is functioning.

How the immune system is primed to develop an allergy

Our immune system knows the difference between our own body components and substances that come from the outside. Scientists call this tolerance to our own surface proteins; and scientists call it an immune reaction that is mounting as a reaction to anything different from the surface antigens. There are different cells that make up the immune system. One of the main working cells of the immune system are the lymphocytes. A subtype are B cells that originate from the bone marrow producing antibodies when an immune reaction occurs. Antibodies fit like a lock and key to the surface of an antigen, in this case the peanut protein. T helper cells are T lymphocytes (thymus derived lymphocytes). They help the B cells to recognize the difference between the own protein components and the outside components.

IgE antibodies directed against peanut protein

There are also T killer cells, which when parasites or viruses enter the body activate them. With regard to peanut allergies, it is the B cells and T helper cells that interact. The B cells produce a powerful, very specific IgE antibody directed against peanut protein. There are memory B cells, which continue to produce these specific anti-peanut protein antibodies. They can cause severe allergic reactions when future exposure to peanuts (even traces) occurs. The more often a person allergic to peanuts encounters traces of peanuts, the more  the immune system gets boosted. This produces even more antibodies of the IgE type through reactivated B memory cells (Ref. 2). 98% of the population does not react to peanut exposure with allergies. But the other 2% who may have genetic susceptibility factors that predispose them to this often develop life-threatening reactions. These have the name “anaphylactic reaction”.

What is an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts?

The most extreme form of allergies involving IgE antibodies can cause anaphylaxis. In the beginning stages of a peanut allergy there may only mild symptoms such as hives on the skin, itching and tingling around the mouth, a runny nose, a scratchy throat, wheezing, stomach cramps, vomiting or diarrhea. However, with a more severe allergy an asthma attack can develop. In this case the blood pressure drops leading to fainting or shock. In addition, severe airway obstruction in the throat or lungs can cause suffocation.

I vividly remember an 11-year-old boy who arrived by ambulance in the emergency room of the hospital where I was working as the on-call physician. He had a hard time talking as his throat was swelling up as part of his anaphylactic reaction, within minutes he passed out completely (shock). Fortunately, an anesthetist was in the department and could intubate him very quickly.

Period of unconsciousness

However, despite adrenaline treatment, oxygen by artificial ventilation and high doses of corticosteroid drugs he did not wake up until 10 hours later. In retrospect it turned out that he had eaten some crackers of a familiar brand that he knew as being free of peanut flour. However, he saw an ad that the same brand of crackers was available as cheese crackers and he tried one of these. This prompted his admission to the hospital. The parents read the ingredients later: the label on the cheese crackers noted in small print that the flour of the cheese crackers contained peanut flour! Always read labels, even if it is a familiar brand! Fortunately for this boy he did not have brain damage from the time of his unconsciousness. He has been extremely careful since and is reading labels and avoiding unknown food items.

Peanut Allergies Are Deadly

Peanut Allergies Are Deadly

Cross-reactions between peanuts and other allergens

Allergies can be made worse when a person has inhalant allergies from pollens of trees or grasses that can share protein components from protein found in foods. The latest findings are that there are cross allergies between Fenugreek and lupine, which are both legumes, as are peanuts, so there are common antigens present in their proteins. A mouse-testing model has shed more light on this. Fenugreek has been shown to control mild diabetes by improving insulin resistance, but it cannot be consumed by persons who are highly allergic to peanuts because of the cross allergy mentioned.

There are other possible cross allergies to legumes like lentils, soy and chickpeas.

Other factors that can cause allergies to get worse

In the past the RAST test was often used.  This is a blood test for common food allergies that can cause severe allergic reactions like egg, milk, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, crustacean shellfish and soy. However, since about 2010 this has been replaced by the more sensitive ImmunoCAP Specific IgE test. Children who have food allergies to egg, milk, wheat, nuts, peanuts and soy often outgrow these allergies when they age, in other words their immune system can develop tolerance to many of these foods. Not so with peanut allergies! They tend to be very persistent.

Immune responses to food allergies are complicated

There are complications with immune responses to food allergies. They contained immediate type immune reactions and delayed type immune reactions. Allergists investigate the immediate immune responses with the above mentioned ImmunoCAP Specific IgE test. They can measure the delayed immune responses using the ELISA test. Positive IgE antibody tests for peanut protein are a marker that the person likely has more other allergies. An allergist should investigate them in that regard (Ref. 2).

New wheat varieties complicate the lives of people with allergies

What complicates the allergy sufferers’ lives even more is the fact that new wheat varieties were introduced. This happened in the 1970’s. The new wheat has the name Clearfield wheat. It has a much higher gliadin (gluten) and lectin content than the old wheat varieties. As a result of exposure to this new type of wheat gluten intolerance and leaky gut syndrome have increased substantially in the world population (Ref.3). In addition, genetically modified foods like soy, corn, sugar beets, canola and others have challenged the immune system of sensitive humans even more.

Autoimmune diseases from GMO food and modern wheat

We do know that some people can develop autoimmune diseases from GMO foods and modern wheat, and this may be the reason that a host of diseases that belong into this disease category (MS, rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, ankylosing spondylitis etc.) are much more common now than in the past. The geneticists developing GMO foods were unaware how sensitive the immune system is.  The immune system detects a few different amino acid sequences in a protein mounting a strong immune response to it.

Treatment for peanut allergies

The key for sufferers from peanut allergies is to avoid exposure to it. Read labels and use common sense. If a food item has no label, do not attempt to eat it. Food manufacturers often mix peanut flour into the dough of crackers. But not every product has a label that identifies whether peanut flour is in it. Alternatively it says so only in fine print. With peanuts the antibodies usually circulate in the blood life long. The reason is that the B memory cells do not diminish and experience reactivation very quickly on repeat exposure. At this time they produce antibodies again. As exposure to peanuts can cause severe asthma or anaphylactic shock, it is important to carry an EpiPen with you and to know how to use it.

Oral immunotherapy

In Europe attempts have been made to develop an oral desensitization method for food allergies including peanut allergies, but it has not produced concrete results yet. Recently, however, research from Texas, USA showed that it is possible to desensitize patients with peanut allergy by oral desensitization. In Australia where food allergies are more prevalent than in the US, tolerance to peanut, nut and shellfish allergies is being pursued by oral immunotherapy. Another group in Australia has developed a vaccination method using peptides, which are a sequence of amino acids, but shorter than the full peanut protein. It appears that this is the future direction of treatment for peanut and other IgE allergies: a kind of vaccination treatment to induce competing antibodies, which will neutralize the allergic IgE antibodies.

Conclusion

Peanut allergies have become more troublesome as the food industry has mixed peanut flour into Thai sauces, drinks, cookies, crackers and such. The person allergic to peanuts must read food labels and eat as much single-ingredient natural food as possible. This goes against the tendency of food processors who produce foods with a long rat tale of ingredients. If you see a label “may contain nuts or peanuts”, stay away from this product, as it is safer. Always carry an EpiPen or Twinject with you, just in case you develop an anaphylactic reaction (you only have a few minutes to stop the allergic reaction with adrenaline). In the future vaccination with a peanut protein specific peptide vaccine as mentioned regarding the Australian research, will probably become the treatment of choice.

More information on status asthmaticus (an acute asthma attack).

References

1. Adkinson: Middleton’s Allergy: Principles and Practice, 7th ed. Chapter: Food Allergy. © 2008 Mosby.

2. Mandell: Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett’s Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed.© 2009 Churchill Livingstone.

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.