Category Archives: 22. Toxins

Biotoxin VIII: Absent Androgens

Biotoxin VIII: Absent Androgens

References:  Surviving Mold,  Jr Sex Medicine,

How many men do you know who say they are low on energy? And how many ads do you see touting the claim that they are “low T” and suggesting they get on more testosterone? Are you a bit skeptical that that may be the case? You should be, because many of those men, if not most, are Biotoxin Refugees, not “Gonadal Insufficiency” as modern medicine defines them.   They can get fixed by going upstream, in the majority of situations, to the root cause.   So just how does that happen?   Explain that “root cause”.  (First: Definition –  Biotoxin Refugee: they are sick from biotoxins and no one recognizes it and calls them crazy.  They are medically homeless and fleeing from a pervasive enemy.)

Here’s the skinny explanation. We are now in the phase of explaining the next layer of biotoxin illness, the hypothalamic and pituitary damage that arises from biotoxin’s effect on MSH (melanocyte stimulating hormone), VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide), ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) and all the rest.   To recap, you inhale the biotoxin. That comes from the breakdown products of “black mold” which is code word for a complex mix of molds, bacteria, actinomycetes etc  . When the mid winter sun is angling across your room, you can see tiny bits of dust floating in the air. You breathe that in.   That floating stuff is what turns into the dust bunnies under your bed, and contains the substrates of biotoxin illness. The biotoxins all share a similar structure that makes them incredibly fat-soluble and damages cells by mucking up their energy production and DNA messaging. Your innate immune system recognizes them as foreign and sets off fire alarms in the form of “cytokines”, calling 911. But your adaptive system, the higher order immune system that makes antibodies and T-cells doesn’t “see” or “recognize” biotoxins in 25% of us. Those are the folks who get in trouble. The biotoxin sets off your bodies 911 system, and your adaptive system doesn’t know what to do. You flounder. That floundering takes the shape of downshifting POMC endocrine system: the 11 hormones made from one protein substrate. When you downshift 11 different hormones, you are going to have a broad array of dysfunction. No wonder hormone production takes a hit.

That’s the upstream skinny. So simply giving testosterone circumvents the real problem. Of course, folks feel better and function better for a short period of time. And then it fades. A higher dose of T then reboots the problem and your pituitary responds by making less and less LH, the hormone that drives T production. And it fades again. You have now accomplished a further down-regulation of your hypothalamus; the same place the biotoxin down regulated. And all the complex interplays of LH and pituitary/hypothalamic balance get forced out of balance.

We can’t get close to understanding all the interactions of our pituitary/hypothalamic hormones yet. Thinking that Testosterone replacement will fix our waning libido is true, only so far. There are several dozen other functions of T that aren’t so easily measured or experienced. I want to live long enough for the research to emerge that clarifies them all. As an example, STEP 11, 4 weeks from now will tell you how VIP normalizes MSH, lowers TGF-beta1 and raises VGEF. VIP is called Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide, but it does so much more, it’s hard to describe. Its name implies that it is involved just in the gut, because that is where it was first discovered. But its most important function is likely it’s balancing the POMC system, and bringing the orchestra of the hypothalamic opera into tune.

So, what specifically is being mucked up with androgens? Part of the explanation is around the enzyme aromatase. This enzyme is the last step of estrogen production, which is turning testosterone into estrogen. Aromatase gets up regulated in biotoxin illness. Testosterone disappears into estrogen. Giving more T results in more Estrogen until you get to the root problem.   The solution is not more T, it’s DHEA, the precursor to T. Most folks in their 40s and 50s have very low DHEA the precursor hormone to T and E. Giving that doesn’t seem to disrupt the whole system, and allows your body to proceed with balancing its hormones as it sees fit. We need to know more. That’s coming. Sooner would be better.

WWW.What will work for me. Well, I’ve now checked MSH and TGF-beta 1 in a handful of my clients with low T, and sure enough, they have all been low and all report basements that smell “musty”.   I’m not sure we can explain the whole story to them yet, but I’m certain this is a more satisfying track.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. We need testosterone for more than libido. T or F                                    Answer. Immune function is on the list and that may be part of the dysfunctional damage of biotoxins.

 

  1. Biotoxin refugees are?                                                                                     Answer: Folks with low energy, diffuse pain, lousy sexual function, diarrhea, trouble concentrating, mind fog…….(all the 31 symptoms of biotoxin illness) and no one wants to give them the time of day because the current medical model hasn’t learned biotoxin illness yet, so they are “homeless”.

 

  1. Replacing Testosterone is fraught with risk because?                             Answer: the enzyme aromatase is already up-regulated by biotoxins, and further exacerbated with extra T. Aromatase makes more estrogen from the T. So the T/E ratio gets all out of whack. The human body likes proper balance.

 

  1. The best way to fix low T is:   a) Replace it,   b) Give Clomiphene, c) Fix the biotoxin problem, d) Give DHEA e)   All of the above                                                                 Answer: Probably C needs to be number 1.   You do that by d). Your may use b) now and then.   Stay tuned, more to learn.

 

  1. Giving T without measuring MSH may be jumping the gun. T or F     Answer: Bingo, that’s this week’s take-home.

BioToxin VII: The Gluten Connection

References: NatureImmunityClinical and Devel ImmunSurviving Mold,

How many folks do you know who are gluten sensitive? You hear some people scoff at the idea but you also know quite a few folks that say they just feel better when they are off gluten. They don’t have celiac disease, at last most don’t. So, what’s up? Would you be surprised if you heard that biotoxins set off your innate immune response, and that sets up for the production of TH-17 immune cells, that tip you in the balance towards autoimmune disease? And gluten does that!
Step 4 in Shoemaker’s Surviving Mold Pathway is to get off of gluten/amylose for at least 3 months if you have antibodies to Gluten. This is the next phase of the Shoemaker protocol: sequentially and progressively cleaning up all the sources of persistent inflammation. And actually, he calls for you being off amylose. Amylose is about 30% of most white carbs. It is composed of long strings of glucose hooked together at the 1,4 positions on the glucose molecule, making for a long, linear chain. Amylopectin is the other component of most starches. It is branched and less dense in formation. Plants can store more energy as amylose. Curiously, it’s structure also binds iodine avidly, making for a dark color indicating the presence of amylose with iodine.
This is where future research is going to have a rich source of discovery. We don’t know all the details yet. What we do see is that lowered MSH (melanocyte stimulating hormone) and elevated TGF-beta 1 leads to unbalanced TH17 immune cells. These are the regulatory cells that march you down the path to autoimmune disease. And oddly enough, we see antibodies to gluten like IGg and IgA antibodies to gluten in biotoxin disease. That’s what leads you to step 4.

Get off of anything that stimulates inflammation. It’s not just wheat, it’s all amylose products like potatoes and rice too. All white carbs.

Now, your brain, your gut and your immune system all make a team, a triad. When you have inflammation in your gut, your brain doesn’t feel so good either. Biotoxins are setting off cytokines all over your body that are then blocking the leptin receptor in your brain, lowering your MSH. Without MSH to direct your immune system, your gut gets dysfunctional. Autoimmunity emerges.  Gluten wasn’t the first step, mold biotoxin set the table.

You thought your gluten sensitivity was set off by the changes made to wheat back in the 1950s when we tripled it’s chromosomes. I thought that. May not be the sole problem The underlying dynamic may be that your innate immune system is goofy because of biotoxins from molds. And you are in the 25-30% of folks sensitive to those biotoxins. If you live and work in clean environments, you might not ever feel the effects. You can eat bread and potatoes all day long. But add in biotoxins and your genetic susceptibility takes over.

We have tantalizing clues that this is what’s happening. Rock solid proof awaits. We do know that Hashimoto’s gets better with wheat avoidance. We do know that Crohns and Sjogren’s appear to be sensitive. Stay tuned.

WWW.What will work for me. I don’t eat much wheat anymore. We just don’t buy bread or potatoes. It becomes a lifestyle thing. Shoemaker asks the same as Functional medicine with wheat, 3 months without any. Now, that’s hard. For those who are sensitive, the rewards are there. I can’t wait for more science to figure out this connection more fully.

 

Pop Quiz

  1. Gluten irritates your gut and sets off autoimmune disease? T or F                          Answer: We used to say this was true. We now think that biotoxins lower your MSH that then makes your immune system unable to protect your gut. That’s the nuance.
  2. To have an effective challenge of being gluten free, you need to be off for how long? Answer: Three months
  3. If I put a drop of iodine into a cup of hot water with rice flour in it, it will instantly turn black, making for a great magic trick? T or F                                                  Answer: True. Amylose binds iodine avidly. It’s kind of fun. You can complete the trick with a tablespoon of green tea after your iodine turns the water black – if you want to really have fun with food chemistry tricks. Poof, clear again. Try it.
  4. Turning off amylose sensitivity is the first step in fixing the inflamed body, once biotoxin is removed from your body and your MARCoNs are cleaned up. T or F               Answer: That’s it. Now we embark on tackling all the sources of inflammation and calming your hot body down.
  5. Biotoxin illness spreads its trouble much further afield than I ever imagined. T or F                Answer: Just wait till we get to hormones! True, true, true.

 

 

 

 

 

Mold, Biotoxin Illness

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.
glutathione

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.

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.

Have a Sauna, Live Longer

Have a Sauna, Live Longer

References:  JAMA Internal MedDrSinatra,  TimeWikipediaToxic-Mold-SyndromeTownsend Letter,

Saunas make you live longer. Plain and simple. And where in the world do people take saunas? Finland! Lots of saunas. In fact in this current study, 2,315 men in Finland, ages 42-69, were queried as to their sauna habits and only 12 indicated that they never took a sauna. Just about every apartment building in Finland has a sauna built into its structure, just next to the shower and bathroom.

I first came across Finnish sauna when I visited Finland last year to meet my future daughter in law’s family. They live in southern Finland in the city of Salo, home to one of Nokia phone’s main manufacturing hubs 20 years ago. There, in their apartment, was a sauna. We then went on a drive to see their summer home, and in a lovely lakeside cabin, three more saunas, one indoors and two separate wood fired saunas in their own buildings. My take away message, saunas are common in Finland!

Why do you live longer when you take a sauna? Just in terms of cardiovascular deaths, the reductions were quite extraordinary. For those who took 1 sauna a week, 10% died over 22 years of follow up. If they took 2-3 saunas a week, 7.8 % had sudden cardiac death. Of those who took 4-7 a week, only 5% had sudden cardiac death. For all cause mortality, it was 295 (49.1%), 572 (37.8%), and 62 (30.8%). If you understand hazard ratio (the relationship of intervention to control), the benefit of 2-3 sauna a week over 1 a week was 22% better survival and 63% better survival for 4-7 a week. These are unbelievable numbers. Finally, compared to under 11 minute saunas, 11-19 minutes saunas added an extra 7 % benefit, and more than 19 minutes had an additional 52% reduction in mortality risk. So, longer and more frequent were both better.

What specifically does a sauna do? They may do many things, but one thing we do know is that you sweat. Ok. That’s obvious. Why is sweating good for you? You get rid of toxins. In fact, measurements of mycotoxins in urine show you increase excretion of mold (mycotoxins) toxins 6 fold when you do a 20 minute infrared sauna. Pretty good, huh! Considering that many of us can be shown to have some 287 different toxins in us, thanks to research from the Environmental Working Group, most of us are living with a large toxin burden, stuck in our fat tissue. Saunas may be the best way to get rid of it. Do we know that for sure? Well, not sure sure. But we do know you get rid of a lot of gunk with infrared saunas. And that may be the key.

WWW. What will work for me. This data is so powerful, I’m seriously contemplating getting an infrared sauna. If I can clean up my basement enough to get space, this might be one of the best things we can do for ourselves. Having seen saunas in Finland, I now know that this research is very real, and has real implications. The survival data from this research is just about the most powerful intervention we can do for our personal health. Hmm. You can buy or build your own infrared sauna for under $ 1,000.

Pop Quiz

1. You have to get hot to get a benefit from a sauna. T or F Probably true. Sweating is a key feature. But an infrared sauna isn’t as hot as the traditional dry wood fired sauna.
2. More saunas are better than fewer? T or F True. The benefit keeps climbing up to one a day.
3. You only need to get in there for 5 minutes to benefit? T or F Well, we don’t know. Under 9 minutes had a benefit. Under 5 we don’t know. And more benefit with increments up to 30. So, longer is better.
4. It’s too expensive to get a sauna. T or F Well, if it’s true for you, I’m sorry. But you can do it for about $ 1000 if you do most of it yourself, or even less.
5. And just what is it that happens in a sauna.? A: Measurable dramatic reductions in sudden cardiac death, cardiac events, overall mortality with increasing benefit by frequency and length of sauna. 30 minutes 7 days a week is best.

 

ProOpioMelanocortin

POMC: The God Protein

References: Wikipedia, Uniprot,

Proopiomelanocortin. Repeat after me. Proopiomelanocortin. Bet you never heard of that before. What is it? It’s the protein that runs you. It’s a large protein that is in your pituitary gland that is made from pre-pro-proopiomelanocortin, a 285 amino acid long peptide that is activated once the 44 amino acid activating fragment is removed. Then it is ready for activation. It’s all in its name, at least part of it. Opio – it has opioid activity in part of it. Melano – it has melatonin activity. Cortin – it has cortisol activity. The devil is in the details. It is the prototype-hormone that can be split in many directions, depending on what enzymes attack it and chop it up into other pieces. It is those other pieces that become the hormones that run your body. ACTH heads off to the adrenal glands, giving you cortisol for energy and stress response. MSH has all sorts of appetite and sexual activity implications. The appetite part works through leptin. Generally it suppresses appetite as does leptin, when you aren’t leptin resistant. Beta-endorphin manages pain perception and immune function.

The devil is in the details. POMC can be chopped up into at least 10 different hormones, depending on where it is chopped. All the regions are overlapping with each other so any one hormone that is created might nix the making of another. It all depends on which chopping enzyme gets activated, and the activation is managed by adding or subtracting marking sugars or acids attached on certain sites.

An example of how it works goes as follows. You go to the gym and exercise like crazy. Imagine a good Cross Fit workout, or a great tennis match, or a hard 5mile run. Your body is demanding more fuel so you put out the call for more cortisol to mobilize more fuel. To make more cortisol, you need ACTH. First you chop the pre-pro-proopiomelanocortin into proopiomelanocortin. From that you then chop it into ACTH. When you make ACTH, you also, by chance make beta-endorphin. That’s your natural opioid. Presto: you feel a warm glow of happy feelings. The runner’s high.

That’s what happens when it works well. Guess what happens when it gets screwed up? The CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome) as typified by black mold attacks you right at POMC. By downregulating the natural ebb and flow of POMC, you block beta-endorphin, ACTH and leptin which results in your being utterly unable to lose weight, not sleeping well, hurting all over and having no energy. Sound like anyone you know? We shy away from all those folks because it is to awfully overwhelming. We call people with that “Chronic Fatigue” or “Fibromyalgia” and give them pain pills and usher them out as fast as possible.

It might be kinder to investigate why they are feeling so awful. Ritchie Shoemaker, the author of the web site www.survivingmold.com claims that 80% of folks with chronic fatigue actually have CIRS, and positive markers for mold. They represent as many as 25% of the population when you do genetic testing for those who are susceptible to mold toxins. All they need is repeated exposure. 2% of folks are exquisitely sensitive, and 5 minutes in a sick water damaged building will set them off. If you can fix their POMC and get it back to normal function, their suffering will be over and they will claim you were the dispenser of a real miracle: the God Protein.

WWW.what will work for me. I’m totally fascinated with POMC and have started working on being certified as a Black Mold specialist. It’s a couple hundred articles and pages of reading, but if I come out being able to fix those folks who have been blown off by 8 other physicians and given nothing but symptom relief, I’ll be pleased. I am getting awfully hyper about any water leaks in my house. There are roofers up on our roof right now making sure our house stays dry. Mold will happen anytime you let water leak in your house, and don’t fix it promptly.

Pop Quiz

‪1. POMC is the prohormone that modulates your sex drive. T or F

Well, part of it does. There are implications for sexual function in MSH but more of it’s components go to energy and pain control

‪2. POMC can be chopped up to make how many hormones?

A: At least 10 and maybe more

‪3. Can they all be made at the same time?

No, any given combination will only make 2 or 3 depending on where you cleave the protein. This means there is lots of overlap.

‪4. The toxins of mold do their dirty deed by disrupting POMC. T or F

A: Bingo

‪5. Mold illness is rare. T or F

Are you kidding? Probably as many as 25% of our population has the genetic tendency to be affected. Likely only 2% are exquisitely sensitized, but that is still a huge number. (6-7 million exquisitely sensitive, 90 million partially sensitive.)

Bromine Toxicity: Real or Not?

Bromine: Secret Toxin?

Reference: Endocrine Society, Oncology Letter,

Archives: www.newsinnutrition.com

What do you know about bromine? I bet not much. It’s in the halide family, meaning the same family as chlorine and iodine and fluorine. Iodine is the biggest size of the lot, then smaller bromine, then chlorine and finally fluorine. They all share a negative one charge, so act the same chemically. They differ only in size and weight. Bromine is easily extracted from ocean salt brine pools, and is used industrially as a fire retardant. It used to be used as an insecticide in the form of methyl bromide, but that turned out to be a potent ozone depletor, so that got nixed. And once upon a time it was used as an anti-anxiety drug, and hence the term, “Bromides” for trite and trivial soothing answers.

The issue of bromine that I want to explore is that of its competition with iodine. We need iodine. Desparately. It is one of the elements that all of us are just barely getting enough of. The WHO considers iodine deficiency the #1 cause of mental retardation in the world. And Americans are prone to it too. In Milwaukee, in the year 1900, 50% of women had goiter, the result of iodine deficiency. Today, 80% of American women have fibrocystic disease, an iodine deficiency illness. There is considerable research that shows iodine to be an anti cancer drug and a cure for fibrocystic breast disease.

So what’s the problem? Here’s the rub. Bromine competes with iodine. In fact, every halide competes with iodine. But bromine may be the worst, not because it’s obvious, but because it is subtle and pervasive. Bromine acts chemically just like iodine. It has never, ever, ever, been in the human nutrient supply chain, until the 1950s when it was substituted for iodine as a stabilizer in bread. Some states ban it, but not all. Then, we added it to every chair, mattress and couch in our lives as a fire retardant. We sold it in Bromo-Selzer until the bromide was removed in 1975 for “toxicity“. Bromine may not be a perfect fit for iodine in the process of making thyroid hormone, or in normal breast tissue, but it’s plentiful, pervasive and competitive.

And then we got our undies in a bundle over the supposed toxicity of iodine. A bizarre little story of iodine toxicity developed around the so called “Wolf-Chaikoff Effect” that was an experiment in rats, extrapolated to humans but never clinically proven in humans. I’m quite interested in it personally because, as a child up till age 18 in India, I used iodine to purify water, and on many occasions used iodine up to 10 pills a day (at 2.4 mg of iodine per pill). That was not uncommon practice. Made the water taste terrible, but killed all sorts of nasties. I don’t believe the Wolf-Chaikoff effect is real, and if it is, it is very short term and harmless. It’s not the bugaboo we think it is.

What the real danger, I believe, is that lots of us have a burden of bromine from environmental exposure (fluorine too). It’s not super toxic, or immediately toxic, but it shows up in many folks having flakey thyroid findings because they just can’t get their thyroid to function right. There appears to be a whole cottage industry in detoxing from bromine with salt water flushes. This idea has its detractors as well.

Szent-Gyorgyi, the Nobel Laureate for Vitamin C, took 1,000 mg a day of iodine until he was 93, claiming it to be his most useful supplement. He might be our most famous credible advocate for iodine supplementation, but he is not alone.

WWW.What Will Work for me. I take iodine as a supplement. 1 mg a day. I think we all should. Every woman worried about breast cancer and every man worried about prostate cancer should too. I’ve now met three people taking over 25 mg a day in the form of Iodoral pills. They feel great. No toxicity as far as I can tell. Szent-Gyorgyi took 1,000 mg a day. It appears to me there is latitude for higher doses. I’m thinking this may be what is missing in some folks whose thyroids otherwise just doesn’t act right. I would really like to hear from someone who had toxicity from iodine. I don’t there there are really too many. And I do think there are many of us with too much fluoride, bromide and chlorine in our food chain, all competing with iodine. Precautionary principle: we have too many halides in our food chain that were never there before, and are skimming along on the edge of insufficient iodine because of unproven fears. The only way to push those halides out, bromine included, is more iodine. So do it.

Pop Quiz:

‪1. Bromine toxicity is a proven phenomenon. T or F

Well, really false if you look at the standard PubMed literature, except for the obvious high dose poisoning, but enough advocates out there are claiming it. Are they crazy? Or is it all mixed up in our overblown anxiety about iodine?

‪2. Bromine can chemically act like iodine, and compete with it. T or F

‪This seems to be true. How much, we just can’t tell.

‪3. Iodine deficiency is real. T or F

Emphatically true. If you consider fibrocystic breast disease as an iodine deficiency disorder, its ubiquitous. If you listen to WHO, it’s our number one cause of mental retardation. Apparently very common in politicians. (Small joke)

‪4. Iodine toxicity is real. T or F

I’m coming down on the side of probably false. Too many anecdotes of much higher doses. And it will never be studied. Way too cheap.

‪5. There are many folks taking more than 12 mg a day of iodine without trouble. T or F

Well, yes. After Fukushima, many Japanese took 65-130 mg a day of iodine, and we didn’t see a huge epidemic of iodine toxicity from that. Think about that for a couple of minutes. I know of many who have taken 12.4 mg a day for years, with no apparent toxicity. Szent-Gyorgyi took 1,000 mg a day until he stopped working at Woods Hole at age 93.  I know, I know, there may be some issue with Hashimoto’s.  I haven’t seen much of it.

Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone – Not Just For Tans Anymore

Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone

References: Wikipedia, Curr. Alzheimer’s Res Aug, 2016,

Published August 22, 2016

Not your common table topic, is it? MSH is such an out of the way hormone, virtually no one talks about it much. Until I read an abstract about it’s potential use in Alzheimer’s, I hadn’t heard much about it either. Just what does it do? And how does it have implications for your brain?

Wikipedia will tell you that MSH is basically your hormone that stimulates the production of pigment in your skin, in the so-called melanocytes in your skin. But this is where science is just exploding in increased knowledge, and the internet is making the world flat with access of knowledge to everyone. Bredesen, my Alzheimer’s mentor and guru, maintains there are three distinct pathways to the development of Alzheimer’s, one being inflammatory. How does MSH play a role with that?

This is where folks outside the traditional medical model are racing ahead with new ideas and congealing new ways of looking at brain health. Shoemaker has aggregated lots of information about folks with mold illness and the problems they face with cognitive decline, fatigue and chronic pain. His Biotin pathway puts MSH into context. Here is the short explanation. When you are exposed to mold, you set off a lot of internal immune reactions. The cytokines that are released in response to a mold exposure, block the production of leptin (thought to be one of your appetite hormones) which has a down regulating effect on MSH. Fancy that. That results in less melatonin and lousy sleep. It results in less endorphins and more chronic pain. It affects the gut with leakiness and more intake of endotoxins resulting in chronic immune activation. Curiously, many of these folks have less vasopressin, the hormone that mediates the control of thirst and salt balance in your blood. Hence they will have chronic thirst as they try to keep up with frequent urination. And finally, white cells lose their sensitivity to cytokines, allowing normal bugs to overgrow. You end up with MARCoNs, the invasion of antibiotic resistant staph in your nose, which completes the circle of inflammation setting off more cytokines.

We talked about MARCoNs last week and promised a return. See the link now? We have come full circle.

Mold illness can be devastating as many mysteriously ill folks will tell you. Our traditional model of health care has been stuck trying to figure it out, and ends up shrugging its shoulders and giving chronic pain meds like Lyrica. It is clearly accepted that mold damaged buildings make for chronically ill people. It is also clear that this pathway is part of what gets the brain injured, leading to a decline of cognitive ability if ignored.

How do you tackle this tangled mess? Not easy. Probably you first have to fix the MARCONs first. Cholestyramine has been shown to bind mold toxin. That may be an early step too.

WWW. What will work for me? I’m learning this stuff. These pathways are fascinating, but also not as rare as we think. I’m determined to get my basement dry and make sure it doesn’t ever develop any mold in it. What I would like to find is a reliable method of measuring the presence of mold illness. Next week?

 

Pop Quiz

‪1. Alzheimer’s Disease is caused universally by glucose dysregulation. T or F

False. Probably 80% true and we do call it Type III diabetes, but Alzheimer’s can also be initiated with chronic inflammation, for which mold illness is a strong player.

‪2. MSH is primarily involved in skin pigmentation. T or F

False. That is what it was found for its first action. So it got named for that. But like everything in the body, there are many interlocking actions that lead to a much more complex web. Trick question. True and False

3. Inflammation anywhere can down regulate leptin, leading to further down regulation of MSH? T or F

True. Mold seems quite good at it, but just being overweight also sets inflammation off. And then you down regulate leptin and around and around you go. Terrible trap.

4. MSH is easy to measure. T or F

It may be, but it’s not commonly available. Takes specialty labs. Usually your insurance won’t pay.

5. To get rid of mold-associated illness, I have to fix my MSH. T or F

Yup. You read it right.

The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic

The Real Reason Wheat is Toxic

Reference: Interdiscip. Toxicology, Entropy, The Healthy Home Economist,

Have you ever wondered why you or some of your close friends seem to get sick and just don’t feel good when you eat wheat products? Have you experienced the blossoming of gluten free products with skepticism because your regular doctor scoffs at the notion that you have celiac disease, even showing your a negative blood test? Hmmm. Wheat has been the foundation of modern civilization. Could it have done that and we all felt sick from it. Hmmm.

Ok, follow this thread. Did you know that most wheat is sprayed with glyphosate (Roundup) about 10 days prior to harvest? It helps increase the harvest, kills off all other weeds, but also kills the wheat and helps dry it out, especially in wet years. Guess what happens to the amount of Roundup in wheat when that’s done? Now, did you know that glyphosate causes a lot of “disruption” to a whole host of biological systems. You can actually drink it, and not die on the spot. (Some ag sales reps have allegedly done so.) What it damages are your gut bacteria. They have dramatic shifts in many of their internal biological processes. Most importantly is disruption to their P450 detox system. We have that system too in our livers, but in our guts it is critical to a wide range of beneficial bacteria that have a wide interplay with us and our immune system. The net effect appears to be what we call “leaky gut“.

If you track the application of glyphosate to our crops, and compare that to the incidence of celiac disease you get a pretty scary graph with a R of 0.9759 (which is almost perfect correlation. That’s not proof, but it sure looks interesting. Now, listen to Zach Bush on Youtube and see what you think about the brain diseases we see that are associated with leaky gut, and also glyphosate. Autism, ADHD, schizophrenia to name a few. And then there are autoimmune diseases, all of which have spooky associations with leaky gut and wheat.

The bacteria in our gut are a precious organ. They constitute a separate entity that supplies us with life-giving balance. They help us make critically important amino acids, vitamins, immune reactions and detox lots of trouble making chemicals. We injure that organ to our peril.

So guess what the Europeans did this month to Roundup? Yup, banned it. Gone.

WWW. What Will Work for Me. Goodness. I am not personally obviously affected by wheat, except that I gain weight like a ship’s anchor when I eat it. Perhaps that is being affected. But I feel less bad about avoiding it. This article has given me more determination to just stay away from it. Is it wheat that’s the problem, or our modern farming methods. We aren’t just sure, but I think it may be Roundup that’s giving wheat an extra bad reputation. If I had an autoimmune disease, avoiding wheat would be first on the menu.

Pop Quiz

‪1. I’m glad I live in America where I can get Roundup on my hamburger?

Well, not if you don’t eat the bun.

‪2. It is possible to apply Roundup to your hands and not show immediate harmful effect. T or F

True

‪3. The p-450 system in our gut bacteria is profoundly influenced by Roundup? T or F

True

‪4. You probably get the most Roundup in your diet as a consequence of wheat being sprayed just prior to harvest. T or F

In a nutshell, true.

‪5. The damage to your gut bacteria ends up causing “leaky gut”, which is strongly associated with many brain diseases and autoimmune illnesses. T or F

Darn it. Darn it. Darn it. Why can’t we just accept “better living through chemistry” and bury our head in the sand. But yes, it’s true.