Biotoxin Pathway IV: The Biotoxin POMC Merry-Go-Round

Biotoxin Pathway IV: The Biotoxin POMC Merry Go Round

References: Nature, Biotoxin Pathway

You’ve been exposed to a biotoxin. You didn’t know it because you didn’t even know the building was damaged by water, or the brown discoloration in the bay your were fishing didn’t look all that weird, or the fish you ate tasted a little odd but not that awful. We now know that many organisms can set it off: Dinoflagellates: Pfiesteria and ciguatera, fungi like Stachybotrys and Chaetomium, Blue-green algae like Microcystis and Lyngbya, Spirochetes like Borrelia burgdorferi, Apicomplexans from Babesia microti, some gram positive bacteria like Coagulase negative Staph and anthrax, some spider bites like brown recluse spiders – lion fish, etc. The DNA fragments and protein fragments from “black mold” in water damaged buildings is likely the number one cause in America.

How do those toxins wreak their damage? Here’s how.

The various biotoxins set off your innate immune system. And in the 25-30% of us who are not able to mount an effective antibody response (adaptive immune system) the toxin gets “started” on the first merry-go-round. As it circulates through the air, (most commonly) you breathe it in through your nose and it soaks up into your taste/smell receptors at the tops of your sinuses, or through your lungs. Because your body cannot “see” it and make an effective antibody to clear it, the biotoxin circulates up to your brain where it gives your POMC system a whack. How exactly does this happen? The biotoxins bind to many toll receptor proteins” that set off cytokines, TGF-beta1 and split products of complement. There are dozens, if not hundreds of cytokines. These cytokines, in turn, being part of the innate immune system, set off MMP-9 in your blood, and in your brain, they block the Leptin Receptor. This is a critical junction receptor because there are many processes that run through it. Notably, POMC.  Pro-Opio-Melano-Cortoin.  POMC  is the precursor protein that can be chopped into 11 different hormones, depending how it is chopped up. If you can’t make POMC, you can’t make a lot of things. The O stands for Opio – and there is a down regulation on pain control. The M stands for Melano and that stands for Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone and the C stands for Cortin, all about energy homeostasis.  Folks affected end of tired, in pain, overweight and “sick”.

The biotoxin then circulates in your blood and your liver says, “let’s dump this junk” and into the bile it goes. In your bile, it proceeds to your gut and your colon, where it happily gets reabsorbed.   Back into your blood, up to your brain, back to your toll receptor proteins all over your body, back to your elevated TGF-beta one and MMP-9, back to your blocked leptin receptor. It’s like the horror show merry-go-round with the crazy clowns and the monster show. Round and round and round because your immune system can’t see it.

That’s merry-go-round (MGR) one. MGR two goes as follows. With a damaged alpha MSH secondary to blocked POMC, your immune system becomes even more blinded. A perfectly innocuous bacteria that grows on your skin, called Coagulase Negative Staph (I can grow it off anyone’s skin, anywhere) can invade into your nose and take up residence. Curiously, it seems to pick up antibiotic resistance from who knows where. We call it MARCONs: multiple antibiotic resistant Coag Negative Staph. It secretes two proteins, called A and B, which cleave MSH, further reducing MSH. With low MSH, MARCONs can keep hanging out in the “biofilm” in your nose. That’s MGR number two. The biofilm in your nose is a good hiding place for it to persist. You can’t clear it on your own. So it perpetuates itself.   MGR #2. Round and round.

Two merry-go-rounds that are both self perpetuating, and never-ending. I mean, years. The biotoxin can circulate endlessly, and the MARCONs can persist endlessly. Many folks continue to be exposed to the biotoxin, reinforcing the merry-go-round by juicing it up. They symptoms are odd enough and strange enough, and delayed enough, that the association with the source isn’t immediately clear. So on, and on it goes. And where it stops…nobody knows.

Well, you now know. We can stop this continuous cycle. That’s coming next week.

WWW:What will work for me. I’ve seen people sick for 10 years who come in having seen 10 doctors. So these merry-go-rounds are nuclear powered. They can go forever if not interrupted. And the level of their disruption is a real wake up call. I want you to know the steps it takes to clear them. But the first step is a clear, visual image in your brain of the two merry-go-rounds. Next week, we start dismantling them and pulling off the horses, one by one.

Pop Quiz

  1. Biotoxins can come from many sources but the most common, as best we know come from…?                                   Answer: Water damaged buildings and mold..


  1. Biotoxins attach to what in many cells all over your body?           Answer: Toll receptor proteins
  2. The net effect of biotoxin invasion is to set off all sorts of what signaling?         Answer:   Cytokine activation.   Possibly dozens or more different ones. So far we can measure MMP-9 and TGF-Beta1 but there are likely many more.


  1. What is Merry-go-round #1.             Answer: the endless circulation of toxin through your blood, into your brain, out by the bile into your gut and back into your blood via your small bowel and colon. Back to your brain. And again and again.


  1. And what allows MGR2 to get started?             Answer: Low MSH that allows the invasion of MARCONS into your nose.   MARCONS makes two proteins from its hiding place in biofilms in your nose. Those two proteins cleave MSH, leading to continued suppression of your immune system and further lowering of MSH. Round and round and round. That’s MGR2.

Biotoxin Illness Part III: The Role of Glutathione

References: Toxins (2014)SciWorldJr,

So, you know about your immune system having two layers, the innate or lizard system, and the adaptive or precise mammalian system. A good analogy is like a bomb going off by a terrorist. Your city reacts with a curfew, 911 is activated, the police clear the streets, sirens are wailing. This is your innate immune system – “all hands on deck, but who is it that we are fighting?”. Nonspecific, system wide, reactive. Then, surveillance cameras pick up a suspicious character and his license plate is put out there with a sketch of what he looks like. Then his picture shows up from the driver’s license bureau. This is slower, your adaptive system, but it has precision and accuracy.

What are you using to clear the toxin, once you know what it is? The answer is glutathione. Glutathione is simply three amino acids tagged together but they have sulfur atoms in them, making it able to soak up loose electrons. Every cell in your body has it. It’s your natural defense, in effect, part of your 911 mop up system. It’s sort of like your fire hose cooling off the burning embers of the fire. And as you age you make less of it. Dramatically less.

Turns out, it is a critical player in Biotoxin illness. It enables your body to tag and dispose of mold toxins. The paper we review this week details how we make glutathione through a delicate dance with Nrf signaling and the protein GST or Glutathione S transferase (GsT) . There are 7 GsT types inside a cell, and the first and most common has many genetic variants. Half the adult population has a polymorphism that is dramatically less active. This has been associated with oxidative stress all over the body, most notably in the brain with Alzheimer’s. Mold toxins wreak some of their havoc by down regulating the level of glutathione production. And as we age, our levels of glutathione drop dramatically.

Well, well! If that’s what mold toxins do, what would happen if we gave glutathione to someone with all the symptoms of biotoxin illness, and positive markers of biotoxin disease? Here are two stories. A middle aged woman with three years of asthma symptoms not responsive to typical asthma therapy and cleared of asthma by the traditional medical system becomes symptomatic again. Treatment with one gram of IV glutathione for three days completely reverses her symptoms. In fact, her oxygen saturation surged from 95% to 98% within 10 minutes of treatment.
A second story. Multiple insect stings. A mid seventies women with over 15 hornet stings, treated with traditional Benadryl with only partial success. Insect stings are known to be another entry into the Biotoxin pathway. Two treatments with 1 gram IV glutathione result in dramatic and almost immediate, complete recovery.

Did you get that? Now, you can’t take oral glutathione easily as it is digested in your stomach like any other protein. And not everyone has access to IV glutathione. (It is just 3 amino acids long). But you can take it in “liposomal form” which is widely available in Supplement stores and on the net. And, more importantly, you can take N-acetyl cysteine or NAC and give yourself the rate limiting cysteine combination. NAC is a revolutionary supplement that has been around for 40 years. 40 years ago it revolutionized Tylenol overdoses. Prior to NAC, a Tylenol overdose was a guaranteed death sentence or liver transplant. NAC is so powerful that folks with Tylenol overdoses are now sent home from the hospital with NAC to take a couple of times a day. No wonder NAC makes Bredesen’s supplement list for Alzheimer’s prevention.

WWW.What will work for me. Well, I take NAC in my daily supplement list. If I was still an emergency physician, I would find a way to study glutathione for folks with nasty insect stings. But I’m now adding IV glutathione to my treatment regimen for everyone with Biotoxin illness. The jury is out about randomized, placebo controlled trials. But considering that glutathione is in you already, just less because you are old, means you and I should consider paying attention to our glutathione levels as we age.

Pop Quiz

  1. Glutathione is my natural antibody booster. T or F                                          Answer: False. Nothing to do with antibodies as that is the adaptive, more precise immune system. So called “glut” is your innate immune system’s fire hose. Just calming things down.
  2. As we age we make more glutathione. T or F                                                    Answer: Again, false. Testing to see if you actually red the article. Much, much less.
  3. Biotoxin illness down regulates your production of glutathione. T or F       Answer. Ok, we will give you a true
  4. There is a simple supplement that gives you the amino acid pieces to make your own glutathione. And it is called……………..                                                                 Answer: NAC or N-acetyl cysteine
  5. We all make pretty much the same amount of glutathione. T or F                 Answer: surprisingly false. There are 7 different forms of glutathione converting enzyme inside the human cell, and the first and most dominant one comes in form that is much less active in 50% of us. Why, we don’t know. But every protein has many slight alterations that we inherit in our gene mix called polymorphisms. That happens to be one that is curiously dysfunctional.

Biotoxin Illness Part II: How the Weird Symptoms Come About

Biotoxin Illness II: The Weird Symptoms and How They Come About

References: Surviving MoldDr Thomas,

To understand the “weird” and protean symptoms of Biotoxin Illness, you need to first understand how it comes about. The toxins enter the body in many ways, probably mostly through breathing in via lungs or nose, but also through tick bites or insect stings, or even skin surface contact. In the case of molds, it’s not the spores growing but the proteins and DNA fragments of dead mold organisms that set off the problem. And it’s not just mold but also all the other organisms that live in water damaged buildings like actinomycetes, mycobacteria, and their proteins and DNA.
All that “gunk” is foreign to the human body. And we react to it. Now, our immune system has two layers. Our “innate” system is very primitive and reactive. It just fires off and sets off indiscrete reactions. It sends out chemicals to call in troops to help it out and starts a cascade of reactions called the complement system. It doesn’t have any long lasting memory. That is the “adaptive” system that develops specific antibodies and has memory.

The innate system is programmed into you, and is responsible for telling your “friend or foe”. That’s the problem with mold. 24% of us can’t recognize the biotoxin. It’s as if we can’t see it, or have dark glasses on. Two percent of us are downright blind and have an immune system that is totally clueless. In those folks the mold toxin stays in the body, and keeps circulating again and again in a cycle from blood, to liver, to excretion in the bile, to reabsorption in the bowel back into the blood where there is another whack at the brain. The damage to your brain comes about because of non-discript secretion of chemical messages that circulate everywhere, but in dysfunctional levels, all because of the innate immune system activation. These biotoxins are by and large fat soluble, so the brain is a natural destination.

It’s that programming you can measure for and test. Every cell in your body has labelling proteins that your innate immune system knows makes you you. Those are called HLA alleles or haplotypes. They are what we measure when we test you for a transplant to make sure we put in an organ that looks close enough to you to pass muster. Folks sensitive to mold have a variety of alleles that just don’t see the mold toxins. Their immune recognition is kaput, and the toxin just persists and persists.
The subsequent action of the innate immune system is to proceed to damage your brainstem, your bodies hormonal gearbox.

Now you will understand why the symptoms are weird. We are disturbing a very primitive immune system. So, your doctor does some standard tests and finds nothing. You tell her/him that you have: diarrhea, abdominal pain, persistent fatigue, numbness, extreme thirst, disorientation, metallic taste, watery eyes, congested sinuses, shortness of breath, weakness, body aches, headache, sensitivity to light or sound, Trouble learning new info, dizziness, cough,
impaired memory, difficulty with word finding,heightened skin sensitivity
tingling/pins and needles. If you have 7 of these, it’s a slam dunk.

This leads you to see doctor after doctor and nothing is found. But you walk into a water damaged building, and in 5 minutes, you feel sick. That is the cardinal symptom of biotoxin illness.

WWW.what will work for me. My ears are getting tuned to recognizing the desperate tone of voice of folks who have seen many physicians and been told they are fine. We need to all learn this stuff. It’s a journey of discovery that will change much of the way we do medicine. It will be a department at the local medical school in time.

Pop Quiz


  1. Your innate immune system is very specific and focused. T or F                         Answer. False as false can be. Very diffuse and non-specific.


  1. Folks susceptible to mold illness have an over reactive immune system. T or F         Answer: Both T and F. Because their antibody system can’t label and mark the toxins, they keep circulating and setting off the innate immune system, creating a cycle of damage.


  1. Can you name three symptoms from the list above that someone you know may have and hasn’t found an answer?                                                   Answer: Just look. It’s happening to folks all around us


  1. The toxins in mold that make all this mess are easily identified. T or F                  Answer: False. We really don’t have a clue yet what they are. In Pfisteria we have identified it. But most other illnesses, it’s a field waiting for research and clarity.


  1. Until we know how to identify the toxins, what is the first logical step?                 Answer: do a simple screening test to see if their is signs of damage, and then test the home and workplace (school) to see if there is ongoing exposure. You can’t get better if you are in a dangerous place.


Explaining Biotoxin Illness

References: Surviving Mold,

We are all familiar with bacterial illness. We have experienced sore throats, or skin infections, or sinusitis and have been diagnosed and treated with antibiotics. We have also seen traumatic illness, and have had X-rays and casts or stitches for cuts. We understand metabolic illness with thyroid and sugar and other metabolic parameters. But biotoxin illness? Even the spell checker tries to correct me and call it biotin illness. I mean, BIOTOXIN. This is a whole new field of medicine that will become part of internal medicine or family medicine in the future. For now, it’s just being elucidated and clarified. Here goes my stab at it. This will likely take several weeks to make it a clear story.
In introducing this topic, one has to give credit to Ritchie Shoemaker as the first to understand the new field, the paradigm shift. He was a family physician in Pocomoke, Maryland who persisted in believing his patients who said their were ill in the midst of a pfiesteria bloom on the Pocomoke river. The CDC and Johns Hopkins both came to town for the mystery illness and could not name anything to explain the sick folks symptoms. Dr Shoemaker is now clinically retired but actively teaching new physicians to understand the huge new field through his web site, One of his patients had terrible diarrhea with the mystery illness. He gave her cholestyramine, an old fashioned cholesterol drug now known to be useless for cholesterol and used mostly to control loose bowels in folks with funny guts. She got better in two days. Not just her stool was better, but her fatigue, her brain fog, her aches and pains – all went away. And then, other patients also got better with cholestyramine.
So, what is biotoxin illness? It is a constellation of symptoms brought on by toxins made by a variety of sources. We are still finding them. Mold in water damaged buildings is likely the most common, with about 30-50% of American buildings being damaged with measurable mold detritus. It’s not the mold spore, but the fragments and protein of many different molds, actinomycetes, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), inflammagens and other yet to be identified components that set off the syndrome. Other causes include aforementioned pfiesteria, a water based dinoflagellate. Lyme disease, spider bites, eating Lion Fish, red tides, the antibiotic CIPRO, multiple wasp stings, beruli ulcer, and probably many more. In weeks to come, we will explain how it may be that some 500,000 Americans are getting Alzheimer’s with mold toxin as a participant.
Most folks are likely fine until they have some trigger that sets them off. Some antecedent event makes them more vulnerable. And they have to be capable of being vulnerable. Turns out roughly 24% of us are genetically “vulnerable”. Our immune systems are unable to see and tag those toxins that will make us ill. We can even measure and find those folks with HLA testing, the same testing you do to see your self identifying proteins that make you you when you need to get a organ transplant. There are patterns Dr Shoemaker has identified that represent the vulnerable and susceptible. The rest of us, 70% are capable of seeing mold toxins and have no trouble getting rid of them. Then there are 2% of us that are catastrophically sensitive.

And what does this illness look like? Simply stated, they check out at ok by typical modern medicine. They express fatigue, brain fog, joints pains, rashes, diarrhea, cough and so many other symptoms that their doctors dismiss them as psychiatric. The house of medicine calls it fibromylagia, or chronic fatigue. And if I told you that 80% of chronic fatigue folks had mold in their urine, would you sit up and pay attention? This needs to be a whole new branch of medicine. Every doctor should know it. It affects 25% of us.

WWW.what will work for me. I’m trying to wrap my head around this way of thinking. It’s a whole new field. If you stick with me, I’m going to keep defining it for you, and learning it for my self. I feel like someone turned on the lights. I’ve tested about 50 people with unexplained fatigue and illness. I’m batting 90% mold as best I can tell. Biotoxin illness. Even my spell checker doesn’t recognize the word.

Pop Quiz

  1. Biotoxin illness is caused by rare bacteria or weird molds? T or F                       Answer: No. It’s is caused by the immune reaction to proteins and broken bits of DNA, or to foreign compounds that alert our innate immune system in a human that doesn’t have the genetic ability to adapt. (Lion fish, red ted, ciguatera, pfiesteria, mold, CIPRO, beruli ulcer, wasp stings….and probably many more)


  1. Most of us get sick to these biotoxins when exposed. T or F                              Answer: False. Fully 70% of us have immune systems that see the toxins, tag it, excrete it, done.


  1. We can get a simple blood test to measure our risk of biotoxin illness. T or F           Answer: Well, if you consider transplant tissue typing a simple test, sure. But right now it costs some $ 600 bucks and takes a week to get back.


  1. Mold illness may play a role in many common illness, like Alzheimer’s.                 Answer: True. But unfair. We haven’t gotten to that yet. Just a hint.


  1. So you mean to tell me that that whacko person who walked into our church and said, “I can’t stay here, this place is bad for me,” wasn’t whacko?                     Answer: Hang your head in humility. They were likely one of the 2% who are exquisitely sensitized. Be grateful you don’t live in their skin. And make sure your home is not water damaged.

Juicing is Dangerous for You

Juicing is Dangerous.

References: Advances in NutritionAppetiteEating on the Wild Side,

I get asked all the time about juicing or “smoothies”. Most of the smoothies are described as rich combinations of green vegetables, or yogurt, or fruit. Then, I had someone describe to me how their blood sugar went up almost to 1,000 with a seemingly innocuous concoction. What’s going on that can make that happen?

This column has reviewed the science of changing an apple to apple sauce, then juice before. Barbara Rolls and her team at Penn State observed 58 random volunteer adults for a meal once a week over 5 weeks. Each volunteer was provided a precise “preload” of calories weighing exactly 226 grams with 125 calories in it; aka, one really nice apple. After 15 minutes, they eat whatever they wanted for their meal.

This is what they found. Eating a whole, solid apple resulted in a 15% reduction of calorie intake. That is a 62-calorie reduction for the entire meal. That would be interesting enough by itself. You can lose weight by having an apple 15 minutes before a meal! (62 calories a day is 1800 calories a month or 6 pounds a year.)

But wait, it gets better. Here is the heart of the juicing question. When they changed the apple into applesauce with the same weight, calories, rate of ingestion, timing, resulted in eating 91 calories less overall. Then change the calories into juice. It became 150 calories less.. Applesauce reduced total meal calorie consumption a tiny bit, compared to juice which had virtually no reduction in calories.

The final sword in the experiment was to add fiber added back into the apple juice. Now it becomes a drinkable product, aka juicing. You erase the positive effect of eating a whole apple before a meal. The drinkers did compensate for their calories in the meal, but they did not reduce their total overall calories like eating a whole apple did. It’s interesting that juice, with or without fiber had the same effect. Being liquid just doesn’t register in your brain, no matter the fiber content. Did you get that, juicing erases the message to your brain about content of food.

Our brains and physiology are quite complex. Part of a meal is the actual process of “eating” it. Chewing our food makes a difference in how much food we eat. Stretching it out over time makes a difference. The waiting of 15 minutes before the meal may have been part of the impact. We call that part the cephalic phase during which your body starts to get ready to digest and process food. Managing your cephalic phase sounds like heavy science. Or maybe it’s just plain heavy weight gain.

Here’s my take on it. Eating the whole fruit delivers fiber with the sugar and slows the process of absorbing the sugar dramatically. Mechanically grinding up an apple, or any vegetable, is far more efficient than chewing in terms of mechanically disrupting the cell wall and releasing the sugars inside. When you drink it, you get a burst of glucose delivery to your gut. This results in a burst of insulin release. This results in a burst of LDL production to ship fat to your fat cells instead of energy to your brain and muscles. You thought you ate 800 calories for your meal but your body is saving some of it to fat, because of the insulin burst. Hence, you eat more.

Moral of the story: juicing changing the way you get nutrients: the speed, the mechanics of chewing, the rate of glucose rise all are disrupted. You gain weight.
Now, if you are averse to vegetables and you can’t get them any other way……and aren’t overweight. I’ll relent. If your smoothie is just kale and asparagus and yogurt, I’ll concede. But throw in an apple or a banana, and my skepticism goes up. The heart of the matter is that today’s apple is really much more endowed with sugar than nature’s original apple. Malus Sikimensis, the Himalayan apple is the worlds original, and has a very bitter/sour flavor, sort of like a crab apple. We have changed it into a Golden Delicious, with 1% of it’s original phytonutrients and 10 times its sugar. Hmmm.

www.What will work for me. Eat the whole food. Chew. Sit. Wait. Talk. Enjoy. Visit. The calories you drink are the calories you store. Repeat after me. The calories you drink are the calories you store. Plain and simple.

Pop Quiz

  1. Juicing is really healthy for me?                                                                               Answer: Please reread this column
  2. I hate vegetables. If I juice them, I can get some down. Is that ok?                  Answer: if you keep the high glycemic fruits out of it, you are getting some fiber this way, but be careful if you are trying to lose weight.
  3. The calories I drink are…………                                                                                 Answer:                        The calories I store. (smoothies)
  4. The calories I drink are …………….                                                                            Answer: The calories I store (beer).
  5. The hormonal effect of food is more important for weight control than the quality of the food. T or F                                                                                                                  Answer: True. That’s the secret behind this message. Smoothies make glucose be delivered too fast, turning on insulin. Insulin is your storage hormone. The exact same food, delivered slowly and with fiber built in makes for a different metabolic product.



Upcoming Seminar: The End of Alzheimer’s

Save the Date  Oct 14th, Saturday Morning

“The End of Alzheimer’s”

NO-ONE Should Ever Get This Awful Disease

Yes, that is possible, for you and for your loved ones.

And it is reversible if we catch you early enough.

Dale Bredesen has proven it, and we will explain his methods.  You will learn the details of how you can protect yourself, what life style changes you can make, how you can measure your success, what lab tests you can order and what supplements you should be adding.  We will detail the various pathways by which our brains get injured, resulting in Alzheimer’s.  You will leave knowing at least 10 specific things you can start doing today to keep your brain healthy and vibrant into your 90s.

Dr John Whitcomb and MD Custom Pharmacy are collaborating to bring you this important information.

Saturday Morning:  Oct 14Th 4th.   4 hours and we will feed you lunch.  2 lectures and an hour of questions and answers.  Then, a demonstration luncheon on how you should be eating.

To Register:  Call MD Custom Pharmacy   262-373-1050

Place:  Beautiful Redeemer Church on Townline Road in Sussex (Just south of Townline and Lisbon Road Stop Light.  We will start at 8 am with coffee and greeting.

Price:  $ 35 for the first early registrants.  $ 45 in the last week.  We can only seat a limited number so please call now and save your spot.

Restore Hashimoto’s Thyroid Function with Selenium and Myo-Inositol

Restore AutoImmune Thyroiditis with Selenium and Inositol!


References: Eur Rev Med Pha SciInternational Jr of EndocrinologyJr Thyroid Research,

This is quite a remarkable claim. Reversing Hashimoto’s?!! This is like finding the Holy Grail. Hashimoto’s is one of the most common autoimmune diseases in women affecting about 5% of women and 8-15 times as many women as men. There is a robust connection between wheat sensitivity and Hashimoto’s, with celiac disease being documented the most firmly. In the functional medicine world, it goes without saying that Hashimoto’s needs to be managed with the avoidance of gluten. Fasano has been the leading voice in advocating the role of gluten in making leaky gut and subsequent autoimmune disease.
This study took 168 patients with TPO or anti-thyroglobulin antibodies and a TSH between 3-6. That’s quite modest Hashimoto’s. The higher the TPO, the more damaged the thyroid gland is, and the more prolonged course has been already endured. The free T4 and free T3 levels were still “normal”. They were randomized to receive either 83 mg of selenium or 83 ng if selenium and 600 mg of myo-inositol for 6 months. The combination group had a better response and recovered their thyroid function better and felt better to boot. This isn’t the first study to prove this effect, but it is the largest.
Certainly we know the role of selenium, at least to some degree. The enzyme that catalyzes the production of free T3 has to lop off the fourth iodine of T4. It is called de-iodinase. It is based on the selenium atom. If you want to do a deep dive into de-iodinase, the ZRT blog has an excellent summary. Leave it sufficient to understand that there are three forms of de-iodinase which all help conserve iodine, balance thyroid function by maintaining the level of free T3 is a healthful range and responding to stress and starvation. There is less selenium in mid-westAmerican soil, lots in Rocky Mountain soils. Hence, selenium deficiency is common.

Myo-inositol is new player here. It actually looks like glucose, but it is structured differently. It plays a role in changing membrane signaling. It also plays a role in thyroid activation. Several studies demonstrated that myo-Inositol is the precursor of the synthesis of “phosphoinositides”, which are part of the phosphatidylinositol signal transduction pathway across the plasma membrane, via the second messenger 1,4,5-triphosphate that modulates intracellular calcium release. That means it acts as a second messenger regulating the several like insulin, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). And if you understood one word of that paragraph, you get an A.

Bottom line, this unique combination of simple supplements appears to work together to target the missing links in the thyroid dysfunction called Hashimoto’s. That might suggest that anyone might be on the edge of dysfunction, and are then tipped over by an extra stressor, gluten. If we catch you early, you can prevent that tipping and never get in trouble.
WWW.What will work for me. Well, selenium is that critical element we all appear to be a bit short of. If you are reading this in Wyoming, you are likely getting enough because your soils have it. If you are in Wisconsin, you probably need to take a supplement. I’m intrigued that Bredesen considers it a critical part of his Alzheimer’s pathway. That makes me in. Selenium is important.


Pop Quiz

1. Hashimoto’s is a rare Japanese thyroid problem. T or F
Answer: False. It is common the world over, with up to 5% of women affected

2. Hashimoto’s damages the thyroid gland leading to all the symptoms of low thyroid. T or F Answer: In a nutshell, yes.

3. You can remarkably improve early Hashimoto’s with selenium and a glucose analog called moo-inositol. Answer: That’s this week’s nugget.

4. The physiology of thyroid function is well understood. T or F Answer: are you kidding, we are just on the surface and continue to be amazed at its complexity and nuance.

5. Getting thyroid right, and selenium right, are critical to healthy brains: Answer: Bingo!!!



Generosity is Good for YOU

References: PsychNETHealth PsychologyCurr Dir Psychol Sci-FiScience,

Alright! We just had a huge hurricane in Texas, and another on the way in the Atlantic. The TV and radio are all calling out for help with money, time, boats, you name it. They need help. They need your generosity. And here is what is cool, you do too!

Giving, at first, feels hard. You worked hard for your dollars. You earned your good salary. But why does every religious tradition in history consider helping people one of their central tenants? Jesus, as one example, talks more about giving away your wealth than any other topic. Jewish tradition is what Jesus was referencing. They are just as generous. It’s one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Buddhism has “10 Good Deeds“. Hindu’s get to heaven giving alms.

Modern researchers are finally putting some “scientific data” around that. Why is “giving” so important for us to learn to do? What is it about generosity that makes it so compelling, despite the barriers of self interest?

Here is the science of it. In 2013, a study of retired representing a statistical sample of America was conducted. They had to be over 50 and multiple variables were recorded over 4 years of observation. Those who volunteered more than 200 hours in the 12 months prior to the study being started showed they developed less high blood pressure (40% less). That’s about the same effect as taking a pill. They also had high scores on “well being”. This is pretty remarkable. But that’s not all.

Another study looked at elderly folks given $ 40 and told they had to dispose of it in one day. Half were to spend it on themselves. The other half had to give it away. Guess what happened! Those who had to give it away dropped their blood pressure as much as folks taking a pill to lower pressure. This reinforces other research that shows that “Happiness Runs in a Circular Motion.” There is plenty of other research showing that the closer you are involved, the stronger the emotional tie. Up front and personal matters.

I get it. Every religion says it’s good because the geniuses of history expressed their insight into human nature as rules for us to follow for daily living. It’s good for you. Plain and simple. Thank goodness there are folks around who need our help. That applies to the poorest of the poor.

WWW.What will work for me. One of my strongest childhood memories from Bisrampur church in India was the “Muthi Dhan” offering where the local farmers would bring in a “fistful of rice” to share with those more needy. These were folks living on $ 3-5 a day for their whole family. They would qualify in just about anyone’s lexicon as being poor, and needing help. But their own happiness depends on giving too. I’m intending to go to my current congregation and give a meaningfully big check towards hurricane relief. I would ask you do do that same, for your sake.

Pop Quiz

  1. Something about the way we got wired as humans gets into a good spot when we share what is important and precious to us with others? T or F
    Answer: Call it your faith, your duty, your community, but yes, isn’t that true.
  2. We can measure medical consequences of being generous. What is it?               Answer: Blood pressure lowering as much as with a pill
  3. Is this why brain health experts say to keep a healthy brain, you need to be connected? Answer: You decide. Of course!
  4. I’m too poor to give. T or F                                                                             Answer: Research shows the “poor”tend to be more generous, proportionately.
  5. Most money is given by the poor? T or F                                               Answer: actually false. 70-80% of total dollars comes from “wealthy”, but they are giving a lower percentage of their income. So, don’t trash the rich. Praise them for their generosity. It’s really important for them to be connected too.  I suspect that the mind set of “accumulating wealth” becomes a habit, then an addiction, making giving all the harder, and all the more important.  It appears it’s a habit not broken easily, hence the religious admonitions.

Copper, Another Cause of Alzheimer’s

References: Dr. WeilJ. Biological and Inorganic ChemistryFront Aging NeurosciJr Nutr Health AgingPro National Acad Sci., NeurologyEuro Biophy Jr,

We have established that iron is a problem in Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). That’s clear. But are there other links? What else has changed in Western Society? One example is clean water, delivered through sterile pipes made of………copper. That is new in the last 100 years.
Wast AD rare 100 years ago? Yes. In 1900 it wasn’t even mentioned in Osler’s compendium of medical diseases. That was at a time we had over 3 million folks over age 60, and at today’s rate of AD, there should have been 36,000 cases in the USA, enough to have been noticed and commented on by Osler. So, it’s new and it’s common.
Sparks and Schreurs published an article in 2003 looking at free inorganic copper added to rabbits drinking water at a concentration of 0.12 parts per million caused AD like pathology in their brains and damaged their memory. The EPA allows 1.3 ppm of free copper in our water. That’s allegedly safe. Singh confirmed the exact same results in a mouse model of AD in 2014.
The key here is the difference of “free” copper, loose in your blood and lightly bound to albumin and organic copper, tightly bound and regulated attached to a protein called ceruloplasmin. The free copper is a problem. Squitti showed that free copper is elevated in AD, but not in vascular dementia and its ratio of free copper to bound copper predicts the range of dysfunction. Free copper comes from copper pipes. Organic copper comes from food. Don’t confuse the two, they are different in their biological behavior. Organic copper is bound to proteins, carefully guarded and processed. Free copper is not bound and is not in the protection system of the body.

Where do we get “free” copper from. Our plumbing. 90% of American homes have copper pipes in them. The use of copper took off after WWII as did the incidence of AD. It should be noted, the Japanese were hesitant to use copper and didn’t use copper in internal plumbing. They have had MUCH less AD. When Japanese move to Hawaii, they lose that advantage and develop AD just like everyone else.
What does copper do in the brain? It appears to be part of the APP and APOe protein pathology. It certainly causes oxidative stress on brain cells. It may be simpler than that. The APOe 2 gene has 2 binding sites for copper, the APOe3 gene has 1, and the APOe 4 gene (the bad one) has no binding sites for copper.

Here is the proposed sequence for copper
1. You live in a home with copper pipings.
2. Your brain copper rises as you get too much in your water
3. Your copper removal system kicks into gear, the APP system works on copper like it does on iron.
4. You have an APOe 3 gene (lousy with only one binding site) or worse, an APOe4 with no binding sites – so you can’t get rid of it at all
5. Your brain churns and churns, trying to get rid of copper with the APP protein, and it just can’t do it because you have too much copper in relationship to your APOe risk.
6. You overwhelm your brain cells. They die. You slow down.

You can’t change your genes. You can change your water. Brewer studied several hundred American homes for copper levels. He found that about a third had copper levels above 0.1 (damages rabbits and mice), about a third had levels below 0.01 and a third were in-between.. Your pipes are killing your brain.

www.What Will Work for me. I’ve been startled by checking zinc and copper levels for the last year. I have had two or three couples whom I have seen who have normal zinc and copper ratios. To a person, they have all had normal zinc copper ratios. (Remember, zinc and copper work like a teeter-totter. As copper goes up, zinc goes down and vice versa.) Healthy brains have more zinc than copper. Everyone else has low zinc and very high copper. When I went to Burma last spring and asked about AD at a nursing home we visited, I was met with curiosity and confusion. They had never heard of it. Thirty residents over 70 should have had some dementia. Their water source: a single iron pipe, outside in the courtyard. Hmmm. For now, I’m taking zinc every day. I’m thinking about how to get my water checked.

Pop Quiz

  1. Copper works on the same channels in your brain as iron causing formation of amyloid protein plaques? T or F                                                                                 Answer: That, my friend, is true.
  2. Copper is tightly regulated by nature with a protein called ceruloplasmin where it is safely sheltered. T or F                                                                                               Answer: That’s what we measure and presume.


  1. Alzheimer’s patients have high levels of “free copper” relative to bound ceruloplasmin copper. T or F                                                                                                    Answer: See the pattern we are building?     True


  1. What percent of American homes have copper pipes, and what percent have levels of copper enough to create plaques in brains (in rabbits – 0.1 ppm)?                        Answer: 90% and 30%


  1. Zinc levels balance copper, so one strategy to soften copper’s damage is to take zinc. T or F Answer: True. Get your serum zinc higher than your copper


The Trouble with Iron: Part IV The Nitty Gritty of What Happens in Your Brain!

References: The MindSpan Diet, Nature Communications, Front Aging Neurosci, Maynard: Jr Biological Chem, Annual Review of Neurosci,

Bear with me. I need to know the details of just what happens in your brain that makes iron so destructive. So here goes. You can get a wonderful synopsis by reading the MindSpan Diet book, or if you want a deep dive, I’ve got links here to some of the most meaningful literature.

For starters, what is the role of the APOe -4 gene? Having one copy doubles your risk of Alzheimer’s (AD), but two copies is a 10 times risk. Only 2% of Americans have two copies, but they are 15% of AD. Just two years ago, the AD Neuroimaging Initiative published a very strong paper showing that the APOe gene drives iron into the brain, and the level of iron in the brain, (as measured by cerebrospinal fluid ferritin) correlated with cognitive decline.

Along comes gene number 2, the APP gene. It was found in Down’s folks, who inevitably get dementia, and who have 3 copies of the APP gene. (It’s on chromosome 21 which Down’s folks have 3 copies of instead of two.)

Now, here is the key. We have 20,000 genes. Only 20 of them are responsive to levels of iron in our environment. It’s called the Iron-Response Element. It gets turned on when there is more iron, turning on the production of the APP protein. APP protein has the job of exporting the extra iron out of the brain.

The importance and centrality of the IRE system and the APP gene comes from population research in Iceland. There, a small and homogenous population allows genetic research to flourish. There are Icelandic folks who have a genetic variation of the APP gene, and they get about 10 years of brain protection out of it. Or, they have a 7.5 times less likely to get AD at age 85 than the rest of Icelanders. Lucky devils. It completely negates the danger of the APOe-4 gene. That really fingers the APP system as being in the forefront of causing AD. There it is.

So, let’s just simplify the sequence.

1.   You have too much iron, either because you ate too much red meat, took too many iron pills, or had two copies of the APO-e 4 gene. (Bad luck or bad environment.)

2.  The IRE system turns on, like your sprinkler system in your building in response to a fire.

3.   The production of APP protein turns on. (The sprinklers are blasting water everywhere, trying to douse the flame of too much iron.)

4.  The brain equivalent of Servrpro comes along to clean up the mess and ends up clipping a piece off the APP protein that gets left behind. That piece ends up accumulating in plaques, called beta-amyloid.

5.   As amyloid pieces accumulate, the clean up crew has to work overtime, using up its ability to duplicate  (the cells can only duplicate themselves so many times, each time shortening their telomeres and finally being unable to clean up at all).  Clean up slows.

6.  AD accelerates and the brain falls apart.  You slow.

Well, you can’t control your genes. You got what you got. You also can’t control the other elements of the breakdown process. But you can control your iron. That’s what is in your power.

WWW.What will work for me. It’s all about lowering your ferritin. What we haven’t talked about yet is the roll of copper. That may be as bad as iron, and that is coming next week. For now, I’m thinking about how to get rid of my iron. I’ve got too much and I now have the supplies in my office to do “phlebotomy” – cleaning and carefully draining blood out of you. If you can’t give it to the blood donation center. Please, please, please, do that first. Remember – you are aiming for a ferritin of 40. Give yourself a year to get there. Each time you give blood, your ferritin will drop about 20-40 points.

Pop Quiz

  1.   The APP protein is responsible to get extra iron out of your brain? T or F              Answer: True

2.     The Iron Responsive Element is one of 20 proteins in our genome that turns on in response to too much iron, and it turns on the production of more APP? T or F                             Answer: In a nutshell, you got it

3.   Your iron level in your spinal fluid reflects what’s in your brain. T or F                      Answer: Right again. True

4.   Blood donation will lower your ferritin. T or F                                                                 Answer; True. Isn’t that just too easy?

5.   We have tried our best to make sure people have enough iron. That is good for…..?                   Answer: Young menstruating women. Not so good for those of us over age 50.