Monthly Archives: March 2012

Viscosity: The Real Cause of Vascular Disease

Viscosity: The Real Cause of Vascular Disease

Reference:  Sloop: Med Hypothesis

Did you ever wonder just why we get plugged arteries in our heart, neck, aorta and legs, but not in our arms or our brains?  When you ponder that thought long enough you end up realizing that we get artery disease where there is the highest friction in the wall of the artery.  But that changes the way we think about artery disease.  Instead of being a localized, chemical reactions, it suggests that we need to think about our arteries being the victims of physics, not chemistry.  Maybe it’s the trauma inflicted by a moving column of fluid that causes damage to the wall of the artery.  That damage then is caused by the friction of a moving column of fluid.  The immune system tries to repair that damage and the slippery slope of immune response, inflamed white cells and then plaque build up begins.  The more “sticky” or viscous a fluid it, the more trauma it will convey to the wall of the artery, starting the damaging process that ends up with a plaque that then ruptures and causes a heart attack.

That’s the argument made by Ralph Holsworth and Jonathon Wright in Holistic Primary Care referring to a concept published by Sloop in Med Hypothesis.  All the standard risks for heart disease also make the blood more sticky, or viscous.  For example, higher cholesterol levels really mean a higher particle count of smaller, dense particles.  Another example: we know that having inflammation anywhere in your body turns into higher levels of inflammatory proteins called fibrinogen.  That makes your blood “thicker” or stickier.  Flossing, for example, has been shown to reduce gingivitis, a known risk factor for heart attack.  High blood pressure would deliver a faster column of fluid.  That would deliver more trauma.

There are some lifestyle choices that seem to be able to reverse vascular disease.   Eating a high fiber, vegetable based diet, as advocated by Esselstyn has had some pretty dramatic findings.   Bill Clinton has gone to see Dr Esselstyn and has a documentary on Youtube you can watch if you are curious.  How does that relate to viscosity?   Well, there is some suggestion that eating a plant based diet will give you more basic electrolytes in your blood based on magnesium and potassium salts that are abundant in vegetables.  That may make your red cells have a different surface charge and become less aggregable.  Then they flow better.

What is true and now well accepted is that you can make a dramatic improvement in your vascular disease with eating abundant vegetables.   The more the better.   The weight loss of the Adkins diet based on pure meat, is being currently used as a first step of turning off inflammation, and then transitioning to more vegetables and no grains or low glycemic foods.

WWW. What will work for me?  This is pretty abstract theoretical stuff.  But the idea is compelling.  Can we reduce the “thickness of our blood” by eating more vegetables?   And does that explain how vegetables reverse coronary artery disease?  A common thread may be that both high vegetable and high meat diets both avoid grains, wheat in particular.  So, I take home: eat less bread.  Eat more broccoli.  Simple.

Osteoarthritis and Chicken Bones

Osteoarthritis and Chicken Bones

Reference:  Multiple:  See hyperlinks.

You thought that osteoarthritis is just “old age wear and tear”.  Right?  That’s what we have all been taught.  Your finger joints get knobby, your neck gets stiff, your knees ache, your hip gets sore and you see your doctor.  You get told, “You’re getting old!” and you leave in a huff.  “Not much you can do about it,” you hear.

Wrong.  Three points where it’s wrong.  First of all, it’s not just wear and tear.  We now know that osteoarthritis also has elements of being an autoimmune disease, just like rheumatoid arthritis.  There may be some wear and tear that gets it started, but the next step is your immune response to the exposed tiny pieces of cartilage.  You are meant to ignore it. But you don’t.  Your killer T Cells decide that it’s a nasty foreign protein and attack.  That might be the major component of long-term damage.

Your killer T cells can be trained to not be so touchy.  You can send them to school and teach them some manners.  To do that takes a novel kind of cartilage in your diet for your T cells to react with in your gut where they get taught how to behave.  You can inoculate them, so to speak.  The cartilage is called UC-II and was first reported Rennard in 2000 in Chest by further explained by Bagchi et al in 2002.   You need a form of cartilage that your body can react to that is similar enough to human cartilage that you learn it to be innocuous, and therefore something to be tolerated.

That would be called chicken noodle soup.  Folks at Harvard tried UC-II on patients with rheumatoid arthritis and found that they could get significant reductions in symptoms with 3 months and a complete remission in 14% of patients.  That’s in RA. And in osteoarthritis, a randomized placebo controlled trial with 40 mg a day of UC-II showed a 33% reduction in symptoms within 90 days compared to glucosamine that only reduced symptoms 14%.

Did you get the basic idea there?   Three points.  Osteoarthritis is partially an autoimmune disease in which your T cells misbehave and attack you and damage your joints.  Two: you can train them to be tolerant by eating simple un-denatured chicken cartilage.  Three: that reduces inflammation more than anything else we currently have in our armamentarium.  It’s likely three times better than glucosamine.

Now, if you would pick up and read Life Extension Magazine’s Feb 2012 article on it, you would also learn all about Boswellia as an additional anti-inflammatory, with glucosamine and boron as extra adjuvants.

WWW. What will work for me?   Chicken soup is ok.  I want more cartilage than that.  I can buy the UC-II as a supplement, or I can chew on chicken bones.  I suspect humans have been gnawing on chicken bones for millennia around the campfire.  Next time I bone a roasted chicken, maybe I’ll give it a chew.

Red Meat and Premature Death

Red Meat and Premature Death

Reference:  Archives Internal Medicine, March 2012

Early death from eating red meat!  This sounds really awful.  But the study was very large;  38,000 men for 22 years and some 84,000 women for 28 years.  The participants filled out a food frequency questionnaire every four years about their eating habits in the last week, and data was extrapolated from that.   And the data is compelling.   Those who ate a serving of meat, about the size of a deck of cards had a 13% increase risk of cancer and heart disease.  If the meat was processed, meaning a hot dog or salami or sausage, the risk rose to 20%.

Interesting data in the study was what happened if nuts were substituted there was a 19% lowering of mortality.  If chicken was substituted, there was  14% reduction and fish had a 7% reduction.  The conclusion was that premature mortality could be reduced 7-9% of everyone ate fewer than 3 servings a week of red meat, and really reduced their processed meat.  They blamed saturated fat, nitrites and sodium as the potential causes of the increased morbidity.

I take this at face value and will add it to my practice, but I think you, my reader should  have a more nuanced and sophisticated consideration of the data.  It just doesn’t make sense quite the way it is and I think needs a bit more context.  There are societies around the globe where meat eating has been the predominant nutrition and folks have had very little cancer or cardiovascular disease.  We don’t have studies of this magnitude, but I think the exception has to be considered and alternatives have to be entertained.

Maybe the issue is “meat in America”.  That may be different than meat elsewhere.  We are pretty certain that the meat itself is not different one place to another.  The protein, the red part just can’t be that different.  Muscles don’t change their content much at all.  But something else changes dramatically.  The fats!  Our meat in America is raised on feedlots, being fed corn and beans.  The subsequent product has 30% of its calories coming from saturated fats that aren’t seen in meat raised on grass in a natural state.   Animals raised in the wild have only 7% of their calories in meat coming from fat, and most of that is omega fatty acid fat.    Those fats acts like hormones when they hit your body sending very different messages to your metabolic system.  Notice, in this study that risk was reduced when nuts were substituted.  Nuts are a rich source of omega fats, particularly omega-3 s that are precursors to anti-inflammatory eicosinoids.  Natural meat once upon a time, when grass raised, was rich in omega-3s.   I think the indictment shouldn’t be on the meat, per se, but the processing of meat that injects chemicals, and the raising of animals on feedlots.  The product becomes toxic.

WWW.  What Will work for Me?  My script going forward is that feedlot raised meat raises your risk for premature heart disease and cancer at least 20%.  That can be ameliorated if you change your protein source to nuts where your risk is reduced 20% for a total compared risk reduction of 40%.  But I’m not going to indict grass raised meat.  That study hasn’t been done.  And I suspect strongly that it would not show harm.  For now, living in America…..I’d pass on the sausage and bacon, reduce my red meat to less than once a week and go for the fish, chicken and almonds.

Written by John Whitcomb, MD   Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic,  262-784-5300


The Daniel Diet: How to Lose 60 Pounds in a Year and Keep it Off

The Daniel Diet: How to Lose 60 Pounds in a Year and Keep it Off

Source:  Rick Warren from Saddleback Church with Mehmet Oz and Mark Hyman

Reference:  Book of Daniel, Chapter One

When King Nebuchadnezzar conquered Israel hauled the Jews off to Babylon, he wanted the 10 best and brightest young men to be advisors to his court.  His palace steward was instructed to give them “the kings’ food to eat” so that they would be fat and happy.  Daniel refused.  He insisted on just eating vegetables.  He asked the palace steward to compare the Jews, eating just vegetables, to the other men eating the “king’s food”.  Ten days later, voila!  Daniel looked better.  What we have here in ancient Jewish text is the first randomized, controlled trial in history of vegetables versus “king’s fair”.   Awesome.  2600 years ago, clinical research in Iraq!

Rick Warren, pastor of one of America’s most influential churches and author of “Purpose Driven Life” decided he was too fat when he hit 290 and noticed that most of his parishioners were on the chubby side too.  He collaborated with Dr Oz (TV fame) and Mark Hyman (leading Anti-Aging/functional medicine doctor) to devise a “Daniel Diet” based on the book of Daniel.  It’s basically vegan but the recipes are delicious.  Check them out.

What followed in Rick Warren’s church was remarkable.  Every Bible Study group in the whole church studied the first book of Daniel and many embarked on a diet they called the “Daniel Diet”.  Vegetables.  Rick Warren has trimmed down and lost 60 pounds.  His congregation has lost 250,000 pounds.  (BIG church)

How does the Daniel Diet work?  Easy.  You have abundant vegetables that fill you up with volume and fiber and very little “animal”.  What meat is in the diet is carefully picked omega fatty acid fish, or white meat poulty.  And not so much of it.  There is plenty of protein in vegetables and the bacteria in your colon are expert at making all the branched chain amino acids you need anyway.  Most importantly, the Daniel Diet has very little sugar or processed wheat (bread, cookies, cake).  And they made a point of doing a detoxification fast to start the diet.  There is increasing evidence that our “toxic” burden in our industrialized world plays some role in our being unable to lose weight.  Starting a weight loss program with a detox kickoff was put into their plan.   Some folks just did the 10 day detox but many stuck with it for months after doing the kick off detox.  (The Biblical text refers to a 10 day period). To lose weight and keep it off, you need to go longer and learn new eating habits.

The nugget of its success is that folks feel full.  At the molecular level, the whole foods are low glycemic and don’t induce insulin.  Without insulin around, your fat cells open up and share all the calories you have stored and can’t get to when you eat processed, high glycemic carbs.  It works.

WWW. What will Work for ME? The Daniel Plan?  I did this last year and in 6 weeks lost 9 pounds, never being hungry.  Instead of 9 servings of fruits and veges a day, I was at 18 servings of vegetables.  No sugar.  No wheat.  No meat.  My blood pressure dropped 20 points, my cholesterol dropped 30 points,  my glucose dropped 20 points.  You could do this too.  Get some friends.  Read the Book of Daniel.  2600 years of clinical research is still accurate today.  “Recent research” has confirmed it.



Vitamin D and Menstrual Cramps

Vitamin D and Menstrual Cramps

Reference  Lasco et al Archives Int Med, Feb 27th

Menstrual cramps are the bane of many women causing pain that can last days.   The thought is that the smooth muscles of the uterus are contracting in response to high doses of localized prostaglandins.  Those prostaglandins are inhibited by ibuprofen and other NSAIDs, which block the production of prostaglandins.    Easy enough but not always satisfactory, and NSAIDs can have side effects too.

That makes this study from Italy somewhat unique.  The study compared Vitamin D to placebo.   But it wasn’t just any dose of Vitamin D.  The authors gave 300,000 IU of Vitamin D in a single dose approximately 5 days before the anticipated menstrual cycle.   The results were somewhat surprising.  The women getting the D had a 41% decline in their pain scores and didn’t have the need to take any medication for their pain.  The study only lasted two months so really didn’t have the ability to predict long-term usefulness, or safety.  It also only had 20 women in each group, so it wasn’t a huge study.  But this has been an intractable problem for many women and this is a pretty nice sign of relief.

The real question is safety and long-term use of this type of dose.  That hasn’t been resolved.  The study has been widely reported and many are asking whether it is safe to do long term.  The study does tell us a couple of interesting things.  One, a single dose in a small group of people didn’t come up with any side effects.   In England, a single annual 600,000 IU dose given by shot in nursing homes has been found to be safe.   Three hundred thousand units once a month would be the equivalent of 10,000 IU a day on a regular basis.  That daily dose should make a blood level of about 80 ng in many folks, below the usually toxic level of 150 ng but well above the 50-60 ng humans naturally make on their own.  (See last week’s News)  We do know that a single dose of 100,000 IU will raise your blood level about 14 ng in just 24 hours and that 100,000 IU once a month has much the same effect as taking 3,000 IU a day which is a roughly comparable dose.   We also know that your fat tissue will store D and then gradually release it as you need it back.

Can we recommend this for long-term use?  I don’t think so. Not quite yet.  What might be a reasonable and safer question would be to take enough D to get your blood level into the 60-80 range under the supervision of your doctor.    If that takes care of your menstrual cramps, then maybe we have another way of treating menstrual cramps that isn’t quite so “unexplored” as the single large dose.

WWW.  What Will Work for Me.  I get questions all the time as to the safety of D in single dose.  This gives us a new indication that a single large dose is safe.  It doesn’t say repeated large doses are safe every month.  But it does raise a new venue for possible relief for a devilish problem that affects as many as 50% of us!

Written by John E Whitcomb, MD  Brookfield Longevity and Healthy Living Clinic, 17585 W North Ave, Suite 160   Brookfield, WI 53045   262-784-5300