Tuesday, October 28, 2008

New Discoveries in Supporting Inner Cleansing

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that every year more than 6 billion pounds of foreign chemicals are released into the environment. Our planet has become so thoroughly polluted that environmental pollutants can even be detected at the north and south poles, carried there by wind and ocean currents.

Besides the environmental toxins we are exposed to, dietary toxins also flood our systems and contribute to the toxic cesspool within our bodies. And even our clothes and bedding are sources of toxicity, as many new clothes, mattresses, and bedding are treated with fire retardants!

All these exposures add up. It has been determined that there are at least 167 synthetic and carcinogenic chemicals lodged in the tissues of the average human. These chemicals have even been discovered in mothers’ placentas and breast milk.

How the Body Chelates Heavy Metals
The body has its own method of dealing with heavy metals and other toxins. The protein, metallothianene (MT), which is present in all body cells, has a two-fold purpose. In the absence of heavy metals it serves to transport zinc and copper. However, when there are toxic metals present, MT binds to the metals, carries them out of the cell through the membrane into circulation, making the metals available for conjugation in the liver. But because the toxic load is often overwhelming to the body and impossible to keep up with, conjugation bogs down, and there apparently isn’t enough MT to efficiently rid the body of the noxious chemicals. Thus, toxic metals remain lodged in cells throughout the body, leading to all manner of maladies ranging from the vague to the serious.

Health Consequences of Heavy Metal Burden
Following is a list of maladies common to toxicity:
· fatigue
· muscle weakness
· muscle and joint pain
· depression
· anxiety and mood swings
· concentration difficulties
· irritability
· headaches
· kidney stress
· elevated liver enzymes
· flu-like symptoms

Nature to the Rescue
The good news is that within the wonders of nature there are compounds that can help the body keep up with the toxic burden of our environment and lifestyles. While the importance of bifunctional modulation of the liver detoxification pathways through natural compounds like ellagic acid, N-Acytelcysteine, green tea catechins, silymarin, and others has gained wide acceptance in the field of natural medicine, there is now a way to even more efficiently mobilize toxic metals stuck in the cells.

By upregulating metallothianene, we can make the body more efficient in eliminating the heavy metals to which we are daily exposed.

Through the science of proteomics (evaluation of how certain proteins effect physiology and pathophysiology), scientists at the Functional Medicine Research Center (FMRC) are able to identify unique applications to various natural compounds. Earlier studies have confirmed that zinc supplementation improves MT levels, but through proteomics research, other natural compounds have been identified that upregulate MT much more efficiently than zinc alone.

The study at FMRC involved the supplemental use of a formula containing zinc, curcuminoids, andrographis, and a combination of extracts of hops for a period of 10 days. No dietary modifications were involved except the avoidance of alcohol. MT levels were evaluated at intervals throughout the study, and a urinary excretion of heavy metals was evaluated at the conclusion.

After only a few days, MT levels increased by 37-fold, and held fast at a 10-fold increase during the four-day washout period. Heavy metal excretion increased substantially with nearly every metal measured (see figure 1). (Note: Mercury excretion occurs primarily through the feces, so significant changes were not expected to be seen via urine. Even so, some of the patients evaluated experienced a 9-fold increase in mercury excretion through the urine, indicating a probable large excretion of mercury through the feces.)

The Newest Generation of Detoxification Nutriceuticals
Make no mistake. Supporting the liver detoxification pathways is still a vital part of any detox protocol, because that’s where the process reaches its conclusion. Toxins mobilized from the cells via upregulation of metallothianene still make their way to the liver for biotransformation. However, the possibility of upregulating this important cellular protein using novel nutritional approaches was not a possibility to any great degree until now. Through ongoing proteomics research, the leading thinkers in nutritional science are continuing to set the bar in the field of functional medicine. The latest metallothionene-upregulating product and its related research is testimony of the multi-faceted power of natural compounds.

This new formula was administered at 3 tablets twice daily in the study, and that same dose is recommended for at least a month for anyone with toxic exposures. Supporting the liver detoxification pathways with nutrient-dense nutriceuticals and medical foods would provide multi-dimensional nourishment for state-of-the-art support for the body’s cleansing processes.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Natural Immune Support, Part 2

Here’s something that not a lot of people know:

Between 60 and 70% of the body’s immune defenses are concentrated in an area of the gut known as the Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue (GALT). (By the way, 70% of the body’s serotonin is made in the gut, too!).

It is imperative, therefore, that the gut flora – the good bacteria that colonizes the intestines – be intact. Good bacteria like lactobacillus acidophilus, B. Lactis, and others, are not only good for helping with digestion, but they are also important for the assimilation of nutrients from food, supporting hormone balance, neurostransmitter balance, and yes, even the immune system.

But maintaining the life of these healthful bacteria is more of a daunting task in today’s world than ever before. Dietary insults like the sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and highly processed foods can diminish these important organisms. Likewise, antibiotics in the pill form and from the ones hidden in commercial meats are a death blow to our bacteria friends. Antibiotics (meaning, “anti-life”), are designed to annihilate all forms of bacteria, good and bad. What is often left over after a round of antibiotics are the resistant bad guys who then gladly take up residency where the good guys once were. And that can eventually wreak havoc on the health of the GI, the immune system, hormone balance, and one's mood!

Thankfully, we can replace much of these friendly organisms with supplemental “probiotics” (meaning, “pro-life”).

While the list of probiotic organisms is a long one, there are a few that research has shown are the best choices in enhancing immunity.

Firstly, the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium lactis HN019 has shown remarkable immune-enhancing qualities.
In a 2001 study on the elderly reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, thirty healthy elderly volunteers (age range: 63–84 y; median: 69 y) participated in a 3-stage dietary supplementation trial lasting 9 wk. During stage 1 (run-in), subjects consumed low-fat milk (200 mL twice daily for 3 wk) as a base-diet control. During stage 2 (intervention), they consumed milk supplemented with B. lactis HN019 in a typical dose (5 [1] 1010 organisms/d) or a low dose (5 [1] 109 organisms/d) for 3 wk. During stage 3 (washout), they consumed low-fat milk for 3 wk. Changes in the relative proportions of leukocyte subsets and ex vivo leukocyte phagocytic and tumor-cell-killing activity were determined longitudinally by assaying peripheral blood samples.

Increases in the proportions of total, helper (CD4+), and activated (CD25+) T lymphocytes and natural killer cells were measured in the subjects’ blood after consumption of B. lactis HN019. The ex vivo phagocytic capacity of mononuclear and polymorphonuclear phagocytes and the tumoricidal activity of natural killer cells were also elevated after B. lactis HN019 consumption. The greatest changes in immunity were found in subjects who had poor pretreatment immune responses. In general, the 2 doses of B. lactis HN019 had similar effectiveness.
Am J Clin Nutr 2001;74:833–9

Likewise, the Lactobacillus Rhamnosis HN001 and the Saccharomyces Boulardii strains have shown similar immune-enhacing benefits. In fact, L. Rhamnosis HN001 was shown to lead to “an increased ability to fight infectious diseases” in subjects who were already healthy. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Apr;20(2 Suppl):149-56. In other words, the addition of L. Rhamnosis HN001 made a strong immune system even stronger.

A Cold and Flu Prevention Protocol
During this time of year, a basic foundational regime for prevention of colds and flu would be to take the vitamin C complex (see my last post), and include 1 capsule of the L. Rhamnosis/B. Lactis, S. Boulardii formula on an empty stomach. This formula is the newest probiotic designed specifically for immunity. It contains 5.5 billion live organisms of S. Boulardii, 3 billion B. Lactis HN0019, and 1 billion L. Rhamnosis HN001 per capsule. For acute infections, one could go up to 6 per day.

Not Limited to Colds and Flu Alone
This new probiotic formula is what saved me from a bout with “Montazuma’s Revenge” when I was in Mexico last year. Laying on my bed in the fetal position for about six hours, a friend came to the rescue with his last capsule. In a half hour I was up and around and feeling great again. GI infections are a great application of this powerful probiotic combination as well.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Natural Immune Support, Part 1: Super-Charged Vitamin C

Yeah, I know. Vitamin C is old news. Everyone wants to hear about something new and exotic, and nature’s pharmacopeia has no shortage of great immune support substances. Mushrooms, Echinacea, and vitamin D just begins to scratch the surface of all that nature has to offer in terms of immune support. But vitamin C, especially the admixture form which has unique leukocyte stimulating properties, remains one of the most powerful immune support agents on the planet.

The white blood cells are so dependent upon vitamin C for their function that they work to concentrate as much as 80 times more of it inside the cell than outside in the blood. The scientific breakthroughs in vitamin C research are attributed to Dr. Linus Pauling, who recommended daily doses above 10 grams, and 15 grams for times of immune challenges and stress.

A New Era of Vitamin C Research
Most of the original research on vitamin C was performed with straight ascorbic acid. While ascorbic acid by itself certainly does have benefit, as Dr. Pauling clearly showed, it must be understood that ascorbic acid is only one component of vitamin C-rich foods, and providing more of the substances found in those foods could provide more broad spectrum support.

In an attempt to support this assertion, Drew Medical college in 1994 performed a comparative analysis on ascorbic acid against an admixture of various vitamin C metabolites and precursors on leukocyte activity. What they discovered was completely unexpected, but unmistakable.

The study showed that ascorbic acid actually suppressed leukocyte activity by 30% for four hours before any immune stimulation occurred. After the four hours, there was indeed a significant spike in leukocyte activity, but the previous four hours of immune suppression was alarming.

In comparison, the admixture showed no initial suppression of leukocyte activity, and in fact showed a slight stimulation almost immediately, with the most significant gains after four hours (see figure 1).

Additionally, the comparison showed a 25% better uptake into the white blood cell with the admixture compared to the ascorbic acid alone, indicating a stronger effect on overall immune function (see figure 2).

After the results were published, a propriety blend of the exact admixture used in the Drew Medical College study was created and is available as a nutritional supplement.

How the Admixture Vitamin C is Ultra Different
Instead of using the straight ascorbic acid, the proprietary formula features a fat-soluble form of vitamin C called, ascorbyl palmitate, which represents a molecular bond between palmitic acid and ascorbic acid, resulting in better uptake into the white blood cell.

Additionally, this formula features various ascorbates, which make the formula a neutral pH, which is good news for those who would otherwise be sensitive to vitamin C because of the acidic nature which can cause stomach upset and a tendency toward loose stools in some people.

Lastly, the admixture vitamin C formula adds various vitamin C precursors and metabolites, such as hesperidin, which rounds out the antioxidant nature of the formula.

An Ultra Potent C for Everyone
This new way of delivering vitamin C is provided in a 250 mg chewable, 500 mg and 1000 mg tablets, and a powder that is 4.3 grams per teaspoon. A maintenance dose would start at 1-2 grams per day, and for immune challenges one could go up to 12-16 grams. Because of the neutral pH, even the higher doses should be well tolerated by most people.

My Personal Testimony
I got sick a lot growing up. Like clockwork it was almost guaranteed that I would have at least 2-3 colds per year, and one to two bouts with the flu or strep. That trend lasted into my twenties when I went to work for Metagenics. Immediately after starting work for Metagenics and beginning the use of some of the various products, the frequency and duration of my illnesses fell sharply. In fact, since beginning the practice of placing one teaspoon (4 grams) of the vitamin C admixture powder in juice mixed with my anti-inflammatory medical food every morning, I almost never get sick. On the occasions when I feel like I’m fighting off something, I will boost the intake of of the vitamin C powder up to 12 grams or more, or 3 to 4 servings of the powder in hot water or juice, and my symptoms usually dissipate within a few hours if I can catch it early enough. (By the way, there’s something about mixing it in hot water like a tea that seems to boost the body temperature, open up the sinuses, and jump start the immune system almost immediately, even though it doesn't taste very good.) Even on the occasions when I don't catch an infection early enough and it starts to take hold, the severity and duration is a fraction of what one would usually expect from a head cold or the flu when using the natural immune support.

Of course, there are many other substances in nature that one can use to boost immunity, but in my opinion, vitamin C is the starting place.