Thursday, July 10, 2008

Managing Inflammation, Part 3: The Kinase Connection

A diagram showing the ribbon-like
structure of the CaMKII protein kinase.
A new era of understanding the human body is emerging. Soon the concept of biochemical pathways will be as antiquated as Charles Darwin’s understanding of the human cell as a simplistic blob. The electron microscope proved that the human cell was far beyond what Darwin could ever have imagined (and thus placed his theory on shaky ground since he himself wrote that his theories about evolution were based upon the understanding that cells were simplistic), and recent scientific discoveries are proving that even the concept of biochemical pathways are elementary.

Think of it this way: In your hometown there is probably a Main Street. But Main Street is not the only street in town. It is simply a primary thoroughfare within a network of intersecting streets.

Similarly, a pathway is simply an intersecting side street in a huge network of other streets, or other messaging signals.

The human kinome is like the map of a large metropolitan city, complete with main thoroughfares, secondary streets, and alleyways. The kinome is literally a network of kinases, or biochemical signals.

When you eat an organic salad, for example, a set of kinases are activated which send messages throughout the body which result in strength and vitality. However, when you eat a Big Mac with French fries and a chocolate milkshake, another set of kinases are activated which send signals that result in inflammation, fat cell accumulation, degeneration, and endocrine imbalance.

When a person has lived a lifestyle of being sedentary and eating highly processed nutrient-depleted convenience foods, certain kinases, such as glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3), can get stuck in the “on” position, and even initial efforts to eat better, exercise, and supplement the diet can yield little results because inflammatory signals are still coursing through the body systems. This chronic state of inflammation deep inside the body can lead to elevated triglycerides, high insulin and insulin resistance, high blood sugar, chronic pain, fatigue, accelerated aging, and hormone imbalances.

Selective Kinase Response Modifiers (SKRMs)
Kinase modifiers are any substance that can shift the balance of kinase expression. In other words, if there is a roadblock on Health Street that is detouring the flow of traffic down Inflammation Boulevard, a Selective Kinase Response Modifier is the traffic officer that blocks off Inflammation Boulevard and redirects traffic to Health Street. Kinase modifiers are substances, natural or otherwise, that shut off the expression of kinases like GSK-3 mentioned above and upregulates the more healthful kinases.

SKRMs for Inflammation
In keeping with our series on the management of inflammation, there are kinase modulators that can attenuate the expression of certain kinases that result in inflammation. Among the most powerful of these are various compounds from hops. Reduced Iso-Alpha Acids (RIAA) and Tetra Iso-Alpha Acids (THIAA) are two families of compounds found in hops that have shown extraordinary benefit in cooling the fires of inflammation. The herb, Rosemary, and oleonolic acid from olive leaf are two others that show enormous potential in addressing inflammation deeper and earlier in the process by modulating the activity of specific kinases.

There is only one natural pain and inflammation formula combining these compounds. This combination has been demonstrated in clinical studies to reduce inflammatory markers like C-Reactive Proteins, as well as reduce the expression of certain COX enzymes.

The counterpart of this nutriceutical is the medical food containing the same hops extracts, along with Rosemary, curcumin, and a list of nutrients too numerous to list here. The medical food has shown profound benefit in patients with chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, IBS, Fibromyalgia, eczema, and even sciatica. (Click here to access a clinical study on these two formulas.)
The anti-inflammatory medical food, by the way, is one of my favorite all-time products that I use on an ongoing basis for breakfast and snacks. Boasting an antioxidant ORAC value of over 17,000 (antioxidant-packed foods like prunes have ORAC scores of about 4,000), this sophisticated medical food is like napalm to toxins, inflammatory mediators, and oxidative stress.

Adding specific nutrients in the diet that can change kinase expression and quench inflammation can be an important step in reducing oxidative stress and preventing and treating chronic disease. There is no question that many people need higher and more therapeutic levels of certain inflammation-cooling nutrients than what the diet alone can provide. We now live in a time where because of increased oxidative stress due to pollution, toxins in our food and water supply, and more stressful lifestyles, underlying inflammation can rob us of vitality and longevity. But thankfully, we also live in a time when technology is allowing us to discover various compounds in nature that can counter the various toxic insults with which we are now exposed so readily.