Monthly Archives: August 2016

How The Bacteria in Your Gut Make You Fat

How Your Gut Bacteria Make You Fat

References: Science News, Nature,  Published August 29, 2016

Ok, this isn’t in humans, it’s in rats, but we share a lot of their basic physiology, and they are easier to cut open and examine and sample. If this holds up in humans, we will have gained quite a lot. The signal is as follows. Acetate is a two carbon acid that is a break down product of both carbs and fats. It makes its way back to the brain. The brain turns on signals via the vagus nerve to the islets cells in the pancreas to make insulin. Insulin makes you store calories.

But that isn’t all the acetate does. It also turns on ghrelin, your hunger hormone. You eat more. You gain weight. Coordinated processes by which you just pack it on. Acetate. Now the researchers found this by noting that infusing acetate causes rat pancreases to put out insulin. That was in earlier research. Feeding rats a high fat diet also turns on acetate production.

Now, kill all the bacteria in the rat’s gut and in a germ free rat, see how much acetate they make. None! Restore their gut biome and watch the difference, acetate shows up, particularly on eating fat. Following the line of logic, the researchers then found that the acetate didn’t do it directly. It worked through the brain, which then turned on the pancreas.

Now, in humans, it is known that we turn on acetate production when we eat carbs too. Humans have switched their biology in the last 5 million years to being less vegan and more fat consumers. In that process, the weight and source of acetate may have changed. But this research opens a whole new understanding of how our gut and it’s population of bacteria play on our own metabolism. The production of acetate in our gut may be a big key to sort out this conundrum.

www.What will work for me. There is certainly contrary evidence between eating carbs versus eating fat for optimal weight loss. What is clear is that the production of fine flours containing ground up carbohydrates are easily digestible, stimulate insulin directly instead of through gut bacteria. Fine white flour was available to us as human only after the 1870s when John Stevens of Neenah Wisconsin, invented the high efficiency flour mill. Then we added sugar and got extra acetate directly bypassing much of the bacterial biome. No wonder we gained weight, we are overwhelming our internal signals with free acetate.

Ergo: stop eating flour and sugar, deep fried in fat: donuts.


Pop Quiz:

‪1.  Rats, fed high fat diets, make acetate in their guts which gets to their brains and turns on insulin and gherkin production. T or F

That’s about the sum of it.

‪2.  Acetate is a natural break down product of fat and carbs? T or F

True. (But in this study, it was fat in rats that set it off the most)

‪3. The brain reacts to acetate but signaling an increase in what hormones?

Insulin (drives calories into storage) and gherlin (increasing appetite)

‪4. Rat metabolism is identical to humans? T or F

Close but no cigar. Humans have adapted to fat, but not to sugar and abundant flour.

‪5.  In the rat model, acetate didn’t happen without the right gut bacteria? T or F

That’s one of the key messages of this study. Very intriguing.

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.

MARCoNs and Chronic Fatigue

MARCoNs. Are you tired all the time?

Reference: Pakistan J Pharm Sci, Archives at:

‪Ever heard of MARCONS? Pubmed calls it MRCoNs and it stands for Methicillin Resistant Coagulase Negative Staph. If you pick your nose, you have Coagulase Negative staph bacteria on your finger. We all do. It lives in our nose, and on our skin. (One study showed that 21% of surgeons have it). It’s been part of “normal” human flora. That was before the antibiotic era.  Then we started taking lots of antibiotics, and that natural staph flora got resistant.  It’s what you would expect.

The reason it’s a big issue is that this represents one of the means by which superbugs are beginning to inflict pathology. Rather than being just a minor nuisance, we are seeing the emergence of major problems from multiple antibiotic resistant bacteria.

‪MARCoNs appears to play a role in chronic fatigue. Particularly those folks who have been exposed to mold and are tired all the time. No one can figure out what’s going on. Regular testing by routine internal medicine shows nothing. These folks feel worn out and can’t explain why they are so tired. They get labelled at having Lyme disease or any number of chronic symptoms, but they don’t get better.

‪What’s going on? MARCONs appears to be part of what is happening. The bacteria makes a biofilm in the nose. A biofilm is a layer of mucus, cellular debris, white cells, fungi and any other gunk you can imagine that creates a habitat in which antibiotics don’t easily penetrate. There are several stages to developing biofilms, but once formed they are hard to get rid of. We have a few labs that have specialized in testing for them, but it’s a bit arcane, and some authors reference having to do 96 tests at a time in order to get them done, making for quite a high barrier to performance.  And inside you, there is a firestorm of inflammation.  That’s what’s going on, and to date, we have had a hard time measuring it, or finding it.

‪You diagnose MARCoNs as being a problem when you have at least two families of antibiotics to which you are resistant. Whole families, not simply one or two. Methicillin is one of the best penicillins for resisting staph, so it’s primary role is why it’s in the name.

‪Treatment? This is where it gets tricky. Rifampin is a long standing staph antibiotic. Combine that with BEG nasal spray. BEG stands for Bactroban, EDTA and Gentamicin. The EDTA is a calcium chelator and helps dissolve the biofilm. Spray that into your nose three times a day for a couple of months, and you might clear up your infection.

Will that fix your fatigue? Probably not. You likely have to then attack all the other problems associated with mold illness. Next week.

‪WWW. What will work for me. Well, I’ve taken penicillin many times in my life. At age 16, I had my life saved by it when I was septic from a scraped knee. Now I have a damp basement with black stuff on the wall. (A couple of years ago. We’ve dried it out since.) But I completely see the emergence of antibiotic resistance with multiple chemical exposures resulting with folks who feel fatigued. Now what? We all need to learn the language and concepts. Some of it is likely hooey. Some of it is likely real. Let’s find out.

‪Pop Quiz

‪1. It’s rare to have methicillin resistant staph in your nose? T or F

False really, and becoming increasingly common.

‪2. Antibiotic resistance is decreasing with new antibiotics? T or F

‪Nope. It’s increasing.

‪3. Biofilms make infections worse, and harder to clear up. T or F

We are just beginning to understand their importance. The are a royal pain in the ……

‪4. You can cure MARCoNs with nasal spray called BEG. T or F

Well, a trick question. You likely need Rifampin as an oral antibiotic along with it.

‪5. What’s the big rush to cure MARCoNs?

That’s the key nugget. If you have chronic fatigue and no one knows why, this may be part of the missing link. Or it may be part of mold. Stay tuned.

Resveretrol and Your Brain


Resveratrol and your Brain

Reference: Science Daily July 2016, Neurology,

Published August 8, 2016

You’ve heard of leaky gut, right? That’s where the integrity of the gut membrane is compromised and larger molecules can leak in, setting your immune system off to make inflammation and set you up for auto-immune disease. Did you know there is another barrier between the outside world and your delicate cells? That’s the lining of your blood vessels, called the vascular endothelium. It can also help hold bad stuff back. The final barrier between the outside world and the most delicate cells of all, your brain cells, is the blood brain barrier. It too can be damaged. Leaky brain is a new concept that we are beginning to understand. That we can now measure markers to indicate “leaky brain” through Cyrex Labs helps. And then we can prove that we are repairing it. That is all part of Bredesen’s brain health protocol. Folks with Alzheimer’s disease have leaky brain. Leaky gut and leaky brain appear to go together.

That is what this weeks study did. The researchers took a subset of 19 Alzheimer’s patients with 19 controls and did spinal taps to prove the level of leaky brain. That you can do by measuring the matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) in their spinal fluid. MMP-9 rises with leaky brain. You want it lower. When there are high levels of MMP-9, other substances can leak into the brain, causing damage. The experimental group was given 500 mg a day of resveratrol. That’s where the 1000 bottles of wine comes in. Those folks who got the resveratrol got a 50% improvement in their MMP-9 levels. Their brains also shrank a little. Yes, got a bit smaller. Alarming as that sounds, that may reflect reduction in inflammation, which is exactly what we want. An inflamed, injured, sprained ankle is big. You want small. We do want a big brain, but not made large from inflammation.

WWW.What will work for me. Well, drinking 1,000 bottles of wine will do anyone in. Alcohol is a metabolic poison over a glass a day. Reserveratol has been hotly debated and despite much ebb and flow, hasn’t been a huge hit yet. Some of the folks in the study got some side effects. The question is all about risk/benefit. If I’m worried about my brain, I may consider taking it. But not without having some marker to show that I get better when I do. Getting a contrast enhanced MRIscan of my brain is an expensive test. If it shows I’m saving my brain, hmmm. May be worth it. When your insurance policy sends you a $ 3500 bill for the MRI, you may think differently. This all has to be ironed out. I’m curious.

Pop Quiz

‪1. Resveratrol has been shown to reduce signs of inflammation in Alzheimer’s brains? T or F

T, if you call a 50% reduction in MMP-9 a good thing

‪2. Resveratol has generally been shown to help human health. T or F

Well, not yet. Despite it being on the shelf at Costco and every other health food outlet in America.

‪3. It is dangerous to take resveratol. T or F

F Probably not.

‪4. Alzheimer’s has been shown to have leaky brain. T or F

True. By MRI and by spinal tap. This is all still research stuff.

‪5. Should I call the office to get a spinal tap if I’m worried.

Whoa Nellie. Nice idea, not ready for prime time yet.

H2 – Hydrogen to Your Health!

H2 – Hydrogen to Your Health!

Reference: Nature Medicine,

Elemental hydrogen is 75% of the universe, so it’s not actually very rare. But on planet earth it’s so light that as a gas, it evaporates and escapes off into space. In our atmosphere, it’s rare. Attached to other chemicals, like oxygen, however, and it’s abundant. Note, water is H2O. Earth has a lot of water. And all life has hydrogen bound up in carbohydrates. It’s the “hydrate” part of carbs.

Now, we are discovering that the gas, H2 is actually a pretty dynamic and interesting compound. Oxidative stress is a major part of many illnesses. When you have excess free radicals or ROS (reactive oxygen species) you get all sorts of damage from them. A dangerous sequence of events involves the production of O2 as leakage from the Krebs cycle of making energy. That gets converted into hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) by superoxide dismutase. Glutathione’s job is to convert that back into harmless water but excess H2O converts iron and copper into their “reduced forms” which react with peroxide (H2O2) to make the hydroxyl atom, OH. That’s a lot of chemistry you don’t need to memorize (except for the quiz). You do need to know that OH is a wicked and dangerous oxidant.

Your cells actually use a bit of peroxide to help kill bacteria. NO (nitrous oxide, another oxidant) is an important regulator of artery stretchiness. So you need a delicate balance of oxidants and antioxidants. But there is no safe place of OH. And this is where H2 comes it. It combines with it and neutralizes it, turning it into harmless water. It sounds complicated, but it’s implications are almost bigger than you can imagine.

H2 selectively reduces OH. Having it around could be very useful. The question is, how to get hold of it and where might it actually work. That’s what this review article details. A variety of experimentally induced forms of OH, the dangerous hydroxyl molecule were produced and then H2 was added. Voila, it neutralized it brilliantly. It was demonstrated that it efficiently diffuses into cell nuclei and mitochondria and does so without damaging or altering the good ROS that your body uses to manage arterial stretching and immune response.

There are beginning to be research studies showing that it works in humans in a variety of situations. Metabolic syndrome, (combination of being too fat, too much sugar, too many lipids, high blood pressure, etc) is favorable affected in all venues with elemental H2. It helps folks getting radiation therapy recover from the bad side effects of the radiation therapy. But it also make 5-FU work better in colon cancer patients getting it for colon cancer. Folks who have sports related soft tissue injuries recover much faster. Peak exercise increases with hydrogen rich water. These are just early studies but they suggest a pretty broad library of beneficial effects, all of which congregate around the mechanism of helping reduce runaway oxidation. This is cool!

WWW. What will work for me. I’m ordering a bunch of the stuff for my office and I’m going to try it on folks. Radiation therapy, sports injuries, chemotherapy, metabolic syndrome, arterial disease might all be sensible candidates. If I get injured on my running, I’m going to give it a try.

Pop Quiz

‪1. Hydrogen is not commonly available on planet earth. T or F

Trick question. In it’s free form, that’s right. It’s not in the atmosphere. It weighs so little it flies off into space. But it’s abundant on earth. It is chemically the key ingredient in making energy storage in either carbs or fats when attached to carbon. It is the other half of water. So, in combination form, it is abundant.

‪In its free form as a gas, dissolved in water, it soaks of strong oxidants in our bodies. T or F

That’s it in a nutshell. Remember that and you got it right.

‪Our bodies use oxidants to kill bacteria, stretch arteries and lots of important physiological functions. T or F

True. We do need them in balance.

‪Early research shows that Hydrogen enriched water helps folks get better faster from the side effects of radiation therapy. T or F

We need this!

‪5. Soft tissue sprains and strains from sports and daily living get better faster too with hydrogen enriched water.

Yup. Hope you don’t need it, but it’s there if you do.