Archive for Protecting and healing your brain
Enzyme Might Relieve Research Headache
Just thought I’d throw this tidbit in for entertainment’s sake…and for those of you that think that mainstream medicine has a handle on things and fully understands the whys and hows of interventions that it uses regularly. Here we see that we may finally understand how Tylenol works (huh?? Tylenol?? That stuff that 90% of the population takes like candy???) and it identifies a new variant of an enzyme we have all become familiar with since widely publicized release of Vioxx and Celebrex–cyclooxygenase (COX).
Science — Wickelgren 297 (5589): 1976a
FDA fails to reduce accessibility of paracetamol despite 450 deaths/ year
It’s just Tylenol, right? Give it to your child to lower a fever, right? (Despite the fact that antipyretic therapy–lowering fever-has NEVER been studied as either safe OR effective!) Try to figure this one out– L-tryptophan, a very effective treatment for depression that was heavily used until 1989 when 37 deaths occurred due to contaminated shipments (95% of which came from one single out of the US company…), was banned by the FDA and still is not available. If my math is correct, since that time, 5,850 deaths have occurred due to UNCONTAMINATED paracetamol. Can you say “bias?”
bmj.com Moynihan 325 (7366): 678
Coenzyme Q10 could slow functional decline in Parkinson’s disease
A few interesting comments on this article. First, the highest therapeutic dose used in this study was 1200 mg…which is a pretty high dose as far as what I use in my office. Unfortunately, CoQ10 is not cheap and this would be prohibitive for many patients unless insurance covered some portion of it (dream on…). Interestingly, despite the fact that this study showed a clear benefit (44% reduction in worsening of symptoms) the authors still suggest “it would be premature for a PD patient to take these high doses until a phase III clinical trial is done.” Do you think a Parkinson’s patient who knows that progressive is inevitable would like to wait?
Effects of Coenzyme Q10 in Early Parkinson Disease: Evidence of Slowing of the Functional Decline.
Folic acid, ageing, depression, and dementia
The concept that nutrition and physiological function play a role in psychological health has an astounding amount of literature to back it up. That would include problems with thyroid function, adrenal function, heavy metal toxicity, hypoglycemia, B vitamin status…the list is virtually endless. This concept, however well founded and research, still has made it nowhere near clinical psychological or psychiatric practice. This needs to change. Too many times I see many patients in my office that have been on changing antidepressants for years without any real success. Remember that these drugs in no way, shape, or form address either underlying physiological dysfunction NOR psychological issues.
DHA Fatty Acids May Reduce Postpartum Depression
With all the hype in the past few months on postpartum depression with the Andrea Yates trial, this article is quite timely. This article cuts across so many issues related to the intake of DHA, an essential fatty acid, in the mother’s diet. Improvement of early infant development while nursing, lowered incidence of postpartum depression, heavy metal contamination of seafood and DHA deficiency during pregnancy (especially in light of a standard Western diet). Very important article for anyone dealing with pregnancy and infant development.
ACS Abstract: AGFD 28 (495307). April 8, 2002.
Several studies summarized at the 223rd national meeting of the American Chemical Society on April 8 suggest that docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) fatty acid supplements given to nursing mothers may improve early infant development. DHA supplements may also reduce the incidence of postpartum depression.”We believe that the high incidence of postpartum depression in the United States may be triggered by a low dietary intake of DHA,” presenter David J. Kyle, PhD, from the Mother and Child Foundation and Advanced BioNutrition Corp in Columbia, Maryland, said in a news release. “The higher the intake of DHA, the lower the incidence of depression.”A 1998 study by Joseph Hibbeln of the National Institutes of Health found a significant inverse correlation between DHA intake and incidence of clinical depression, and a more recent study by Hibbeln found the same relationship between DHA levels in breast milk and incidence of postpartum depression. During pregnancy, the placenta pumps DHA from the expectant mother to the fetus, increasing the mother’s susceptibility to depression. Maternal diet influences the level of DHA in breast milk. “The DHA content of mother’s milk in the United States is among the lowest in the world,” Kyle said, noting that daily dietary intake of DHA is about 40-50 mg in US women, 200 mg in European women, and about 600 mg in Japanese women.DHA supplements of 200 mg daily double the DHA content of nursing mothers’ milk relative to those who received placebo, according to a study by Craig Jensen from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.”The toddlers who were nursed from the mums getting the extra DHA performed significantly better [on standard neurological motor function tests] than those toddlers nursed from mums who were getting the placebo,” Kyle said.Last year, the FDA approved the addition of DHA to infant formulas. Women who want to increase their DHA levels can take dietary supplements or eat more tuna, salmon, algae, and other foods rich in DHA. To avoid mercury contamination, however, current guidelines suggest limiting fish to 12 ounces of cooked fish per week during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and avoiding shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish.
HRT and Incidence of Alzheimer Disease in Older Women
The sideline view of this whole debacle is very entertaining. We are now seeing a scramble to find a use for this multi-billion dollar gold mine. Lets see…lower your risk of Alzheimer’s only to die from breast or endometrial cancer or heart disease. If Alzheimer’s is a concern, how about boosting antioxidant intake (the ApoE4 genotype leads to increased risk unless balanced out with increased antioxidants), lowering aluminum exposure and balancing with increased zinc, ginko biloba use and checking for wheat allergy that can increase risk as well.
Hormone Replacement Therapy and Incidence of Alzheimer Disease in Older Women: The Cache County Study
Effects of Ethyl-Eicosapentaenoate in Patients with Ongoing Depression Despite Apparently Adequate Treatment With Standard Drugs
1 gram/day of EPA shows a dramatic improvement in depressive ratings for patients in this small study with no side effects. This is not the first trial to show a benefit for essential fatty acids and psychological health.
A Dose-Ranging Study of the Effects of Ethyl-Eicosapentaenoate in Patients With Ongoing Depression Despite Apparently Adequate….
Treatment of multiple sclerosis with the pregnancy hormone estriol
I’ll take this opportunity to freshen up on female hormones. The human produces three estrogens; estradiol, estrione and estriol. Estriol is generally considered the friendly hormone, and many regimens of natural HRT rely heavily upon estriol. In this study we see estriol as possibly being protective against MS. This study tried to figure out why MS symptoms seem to be reduced or in remission while a woman is pregnant (a condition where estiol levels are high) and found that estriol may be a factor.
Estrogen Plus Progestin & Dementia & Mild Cognitive Impairment
Despite an attempt to promote HRT as protecting against dementia and Alzheimer’s, this study shows increased risk. Heck…if this stuff didn’t have billions of dollars behind it pushing for its use, I’m darn sure these compounds would have a skull and crossbones on them and kept in a high cabinet where the kids couldn’t get to them.
JAMA — Abstracts: Shumaker et al. 289 (20): 2651
As far as I’m concerned, the medical dementia research strongly points to an oxidative stress/mitochondrial dysfunction model of neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s dementia and Parkinson’s disease. The idea that we really don’t have any idea what causes it is just not true.
The likely reason why mainstream medicine hasn’t accepted this model is because it puts much of the responsibility smack dab in the middle of the patient’s lap. Genetics play a role, but it’s likely a small one. Lifestyle is key to both preventing and causing Alzheimer’s dementia.
Pivotal in prevention is protecting my favorite organelle, the mitochondria. This little factory within each of our cells generate energy in the form of ATP. (Are we dredging up bad memories from high school biology yet?) Since brain cells require extremely high amounts of energy, the mitochondria are critical for your brain cells to function correctly. Not enough energy in the brain cells and they begin to break down and, when things get bad enough, your brain cells commit suicide (a process called apoptosis).
Too many suicidal cells in the neocortex or hippocampal regions of your brain and you begin to develop what we call Alzheimer’s dementia. Unfortunately, by the time symptoms are noticed, the condition has been progressing for decades and a very large chunk of the brain cells in this region are already dead.
So how can we protect our brain from this suicidal pathway?
In two ways.
The first is to stop abusing the mitochondria in our brain cells. The list of items that damage our brain is quite long, but should not drop any jaws. Here are a few of the more dangerous risks:
After you’ve cleaned up the mess, the next thing to focus on is aspects of lifestyle that are well know to protect the brain. The general recommendations that I promote for all chronic diseases remains the same and can be found by clicking here. Besides lifestyle, there are numerous supplements that have some pretty good support for protecting the brain. These include:
However, there is another strong player. Vitamin E.
And not your normal, run of the mill, cheap vitamin E supplement. Vitamin E is actually a combination of 8 different forms–4 tocopherols and 4 tocotrienols. Nature provides us with these multiple forms of tocopherols and tocotrienols. Any good supplemental form of vitamin E is going to have a this mix of all 8 forms. Giving high levels of just one form of vitamin E can actually drive down levels of other forms of vitamin E in the bloodstream.
Vitamin E, as a blend of all 8 forms, is very protective to our body, especially the heart and blood vessels. And if you protect your blood vessels, you’re protecting your brain.
But just how protective is it??
You might want to sit down for this one, or if you’re driving, pull over (actually…you shouldn’t really be driving trying to read this anyway..).
Diagnosing Alzheimer’s using a MRI alone is not without its problems and faults. Currently, it is not used as a sole measure to make the diagnosis. In this particular study, researchers looked at what happened when they added blood levels of these 8 vitamin E forms to an MRI for differentiating Alzheimer’s dementia from cognitive impairment from normal brains. Here’s what they found:
- MRI and plasma vitamin E measures increased accuracy to 98.2% for differentiating Alzheimer’s dementia from normal brains.
- For telling mild cognitive impairment from normal brains, the accuracy was 90.7%.
- In addition, also identified 85% of individuals with cognitive loss who converted to Alzheimer’s dementia at 1 year follow-up (Tweet this).
Basically, the serum levels of the vitamin E family made the MRI diagnosis far more powerful, especially when it came to predicting who was going to progress to full blown Alzheimer’s dementia. Isn’t your brain worth a little vitamin E? Plan on spending $15-20 / month. Do NOT buy the cheap forms with only alpha tocopherol–it may make things worse.