Lithium Protects the Brain

February 26, 2013

I recently read a good summary by journalist Sheila Casey of the benefits of the mineral lithium orotate (not to be mistaken with the prescription medication lithium carbonate) for protecting the brain from challenges like Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, mood disorders including depression, alcoholism, and brain injury, and to enhance brain function, increasing the number and the quality of new brain cells.

Lithium protects the brain against toxins of all kinds, including alcohol, and environmental toxins we all face.  At HealthBridge we test the blood for lithium in patients who are challenged with mood disorders and often find an extreme deficiency of this mineral. I will prescribe the mineral when it is appropriate, while monitoring blood tests to make sure thyroid, kidney and liver function remain healthy.

Some food sources of lithium to incorporate into your diet include kelp (1000-2000mg taken daily) and pistachios (just a handful, 2-3 times per week).

In health,

Dr. Gina

Li

Miracle Mineral Protects the Brain By Sheila Casey / RCFP

Numerous studies have found that a common mineral heals the brain by stimulating the growth of new brain cells and protecting brain cells from every known neurotoxin. It has been shown to reduce the incidence of violent crime, homicide, suicide, and drug addiction, while preventing the brain shrinkage and memory loss that otherwise occurs naturally with age, as well as helping people with alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, cluster headaches and traumatic brain injury.

Although occurring naturally in tomatoes and in the water supply in many places, this mineral is rarely found in any vitamin-mineral supplement, and is not even commonly found in brick and mortar health food stores. Its name may surprise you: Lithium.

Most people think of lithium as a drug for crazy people. While high doses of lithium carbonate are used to treat bipolar disorder, and are available only as a prescription, both lithium orotate and lithium aspartate are available cheaply over the counter, in much lower doses, at outlets such as vitacost.com and iherb.com. (Note: We have no financial connection with either outlet.)

According to the controversial, and now deceased German orthomolecular physician Dr. Hans Nieper, the orotate form of lithium is more effectively transported inside cells, making it more effective at lower doses than the prescription form, lithium carbonate.

Lithium has also been shown to be effective at ultra-low doses, such as those found naturally in tap water. A ten year Texas study found that the incidence of rape, homicide, suicide, burglary and drug addiction was significantly lower in counties where the water supply contained 70-170 micrograms of lithium per liter, compared to counties where there is little or no lithium in the water. A similar study in Japan found that lithium in the water supply significantly reduced the risk of suicide.

Even a very thirsty Texan who drank three liters of water a day (100 ounces) would still be getting only a half a milligram of lithium per day, if they lived in an area where there is 170 mcg. of lithium per liter of water. Compare this to the amount commonly taken by bipolar patients: 900 mg/day of lithium carbonate, which contains 165 mg of elemental lithium. Put another way, the startling results of the Texas study were achieved with doses that were one-third of one percent of the amount taken by bipolar patients.

These highly beneficial effects from low dose lithium have prompted some researchers to call for adding lithium to the water supply in the amounts found naturally in the high lithium Texas counties.

One of these is Jonathan Wright M.D, author, founder of the Tahoma Clinic in Renton, Washington, and a member of the medical advisory board for the non-profit Life Extension Foundation. Dr. Wright first began working with lithium in the 70s, when research at a VA hospital showed that it dramatically reduced recidivism (otherwise known as “falling off the wagon”) among alcoholics. Not only were these vets drinking less, their families reported less anger, aggression and violence in the men, and less moodiness, weepiness and depression in the women. They were also sleeping better, and generally calmer and happier.

Wright later began using low dose lithium with the children of alcoholics, who often have some of the same mood problems afflicting their parents. (A February 2010 article published in the journal Addiction showed that kids with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to crave sweets, suffer from depression, and become alcoholics themselves.)

But Wright didn’t start using low dose lithium himself until 1999, when an article in the British medical journal The Lancet reported the astonishing finding that just four weeks of high-dose lithium therapy caused a three percent increase in brain volume — translating into billions of additional brain cells. These findings turned on its head the conventional wisdom that we are born with all the brain cells we will ever have, and that brain shrinkage is an unavoidable consequence of aging.

In the past ten years, says Wright, there has been an “avalanche of research” about lithium. In addition to proving definitively that lithium stimulates the brain to grow new cells, it has also been shown to be, Wright says, a “wonderful neuroprotective agent from any type of toxin there is.” This neuro-protective mechanism is so strong that one respected lithium researcher said, according to Wright, that it “verges on malpractice to prescribe any psychotropic medication without lithium to protect the brain.” Psychotropics include antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and sleeping pills.

Dr. Wright has even heard, anecdotally, from numerous patients, that when they are taking lithium they don’t get bad hangovers. Lithium protects the brain from the damaging effects of alcohol, reducing the pain the morning after. Wright cautions that one can’t simply pop a tablet of lithium along with a pitcher of margaritas to achieve this effect, one would have to be taking it regularly, prior to a night of overindulgence, to protect brain cells.

Likewise, it has been shown that if the blood supply is suddenly cut off to the brain, such as with a stroke, brain cells suffer much less damage if the stroke victim has been taking lithium. (It does not work to take the lithium after the stroke, when the damage has already occurred.)

Mentioning that a recent medical journal carried a story with the headline “Can lithium prevent Alzheimer’s disease?” Dr. Wright said, “You know when you see a headline like that, that in another ten years you’ll see the same headline without the question mark.” He then enumerated multiple ways in which lithium interferes with the Alzheimer’s disease process.

Although he has no family history of mental illness or alcoholism, Wright has been taking 20 mg/day of elemental lithium (in the orotate form) for over ten years, purely to protect his brain and keep his IQ and memory in tip-top form, for as long as possible, as he ages.

In over 30 years, Wright has encountered only two or three people who have had a possible reaction to a dose of 20 mg/day or less: they thought it might have caused a slight tremor — which went away when the lithium was discontinued. On the other hand, he’s had dozens of patients report that their benign tremor improved on low dose lithium

Wright cautions that every patient is different and it is wise to also take fish oil and flax seed oil, if one is taking lithium. These healthy oils are routinely used to treat lithium toxicity in patients who are so severely bipolar that stopping their lithium is not an option, and they add an extra layer of safety for those using over the counter lithium without a doctor’s supervision.

Wright defines low dose lithium as anything up to a maximum of 55 mg of elemental lithium per day, which is the equivalent of a single 300 mg. capsule of prescription lithium carbonate, or 11 tablets of over the counter lithium orotate or aspartate, which typically contain 5 mg. of elemental lithium per tablet. No one, he says, should consider going higher than that without regular blood testing to insure that they are not toxic, and damaging either their kidneys or thyroid gland. Symptoms of lithium toxicity are: tremor in the hands, rising blood pressure, and flu-like symptoms.

Given the many amazing neurological benefits of lithium, why has there been so little it in the press? A search at nytimes.com for “lithium alcoholism” brought up just two relevant articles: from 1973 and 1975. A search for “lithium Alzheimer’s” at both MSNBC and CNN brought up no relevant articles.

Dr. Wright has a theory about this, and it’s not flattering to either science writers, pharmaceutical companies or biosciences academics. The problem begins, he says, with the fact that lithium cannot be patented, so no real money can be made from selling it. Thus, there are no armies of press agents blanketing science writers with press releases touting its eye-popping benefits. And science writers, Dr. Wright says, “do not dig, and they have not been digging into this lithium at all.” If they don’t receive a press release about it, says Wright, science writers are unlikely to find out about new discoveries.

Not only is there no money to be made selling lithium, lithium represents direct competition to drugs that are currently earning many billions of profit for pharmaceutical companies. The central nervous system (CNS) drug market is expected to increase to $64 billion this year. By comparison, lithium aspartate is available at vitacost.com for less than $6 for a 30 day supply.

I asked Dr. Wright “If everyone were taking low dose lithium, as you are, wouldn’t there be a greatly reduced market for psychotropic drugs, Alzheimer’s drugs, alcoholism drugs?” and he replied:

“Yes. I don’t know when the news about lithium will break through into public awareness. When it does, it will probably be opposed, because there are so many professors who are on the payroll of patent medicine companies. Anybody who comes out and promotes something that is in competition with a product from the patent medicine companies is going to be called crazy and a quack by those on the payroll of those same patent medicine companies.”

The news that lithium is good for our brains raises some compelling questions. Is lithium an essential nutrient for human health that is deficient in our water supply and the soil that grows our food? With so many people now filtering their water or drinking purified bottled water, are we eliminating even trace amounts of lithium from our diets? Lithium is one of the most abundant minerals in the sea, with 50 micrograms in a tablespoon of seawater. Could that be part of the reason why people the world over flock to the sea, and feel so relaxed and calm after a day spent splashing in the waves?

Until these questions are answered, one thing seems clear: your brain has a good friend in lithium.

Sheila Casey is a DC based journalist. Her work has appeared in The Denver Post, Reuters, Chicago Sun-Times, Dissident Voice and Common Dreams.


A Pharmacist’s Perspective on Drug-Nutrient Interactions and the Value of Nutritional Medicine

January 30, 2012

An interesting commentary below…by a registered pharmacist, released through the Orthomolecular News Service, about the importance of including nutrient deficiencies in the mix, when considering pharmaceutical medications for the prevention or treatment of disease.

In health,

-Dr. G

___

Confessions of a Frustrated Pharmacist

by Stuart Lindsey, PharmD.

I’m a registered pharmacist. I am having a difficult time with my job. I sell people drugs that are supposed to correct their various health complaints. Some medicines work like they’re supposed to, but many don’t. Some categories of drugs work better than others. My concern is that the outcomes of treatment I observe are so unpredictable that I would often call the entire treatment a failure in too many situations.

How It Started

In 1993, I graduated with a BS in Pharmaceutical Sciences from University of New Mexico. I became pharmacy manager for a small independent neighborhood drug store. Starting in the year 2000, nutrition became an integral part of our business. The anecdotal feedback from the customers who started vitamin regimens was phenomenal. That same year, my PharmD clinical rotations began with my propensity for nutritional alternatives firmly in place in my mind. On the second day of my adult medicine rotation, my preceptor at a nearby hospital informed me that he had every intention of beating this vitamin stuff out of me. I informed him that probably wouldn’t happen. Three weeks later I was terminated from my rotations. The preceptor told my supervisor at UNM that there were acute intellectual differences that couldn’t be accommodated in their program. What had I done? I was pressuring my preceptor to read an article written by an MD at a hospital in Washington state that showed if a person comes into the emergency room with a yet to be diagnosed problem and is given a 3,000-4,000 mg bolus of vitamin C, that person’s chance of dying over the next ten days in ICU dropped by 57%! [1]

One would think that someone who is an active part of the emergency room staff might find that an interesting statistic. His solution to my attempting to force him to read that article was having me removed from the program.

Pecking Order

The traditional role of the pharmacist in mainstream medicine is subordinate to the doctor. The doctor is responsible for most of the information that is received from and given to the patient. The pharmacist’s responsibility is to reinforce the doctor’s directions. The doctor and the pharmacist both want to have a positive treatment outcome, but there is a legally defined ‘standard of care’ looking over their shoulder.

The training that I received to become a PharmD motivated me to become more interested in these treatment outcomes. After refilling a patient’s prescriptions a few times, it becomes obvious that the expected positive outcomes often simply don’t happen. It’s easy to take the low road and blame it on “poor compliance by the patient.” I’m sure this can explain some treatment failure outcomes, but not all. Many (indeed most) drugs such as blood pressure regulators can require several adjustments of dose or combination with alternative medicines before a positive outcome is obtained.

Wrong Drug; Wrong Disease

One drug misadventure is turning drugs that were originally designed for a rare (0.3% of the population) condition called Zollinger-Ellison syndrome into big pharma’s treatment for occasional indigestion. These drugs are called proton-pump inhibitors (PPI). [2] After prolonged exposure to PPIs, the body’s true issues of achlorhydria start to surface. [3]

These drugs are likely to cause magnesium deficiency, among other problems. Even the FDA thinks their long-term use is unwise. [4]

The original instructions for these drugs were for a maximum use of six weeks . . . until somebody in marketing figured out people could be on the drugs for years. Drug usage gets even more complicated when you understand excessive use of antibiotics could be the cause of the initial indigestion complaints. What you get from inserting proton pump inhibitors into this situation is a gastrointestinal nightmare. A better course of medicine in this type of case might well be a bottle of probiotic supplements (or yogurt) and a few quarts of aloe-vera juice.

Many doctors are recognizing there are problems with overusing PPI’s, but many still don’t get it. An example of this is my school in NM had a lot of students going onto a nearby-impoverished area for rotations. They have blue laws in this area with no alcohol sales on Sunday. The students saw the pattern of the patients going into the clinics on Monday after abusing solvents, even gasoline vapors, and having the doctors put them on omeprazole (eg. Prilosec), long term, because their stomachs are upset. This is medicine in the real world.

Reliability or Bias?

Mainstream medicine and pharmacy instill into their practitioners from the beginning to be careful about where you get your information. Medical journals boast of their peer review process. When you discuss with other health professionals, invariably they will ask from which medical journal did you get your information. I actually took an elective course in pharmacy on how to evaluate a particular article for its truthfulness. The class was structured on a backbone of caution about making sure, as one read an article, that we understand that real truthfulness only comes from a few approved sources.

I was never comfortable with this concept. Once you realized that many of these “truthfulness bastions” actually have a hidden agenda, the whole premise of this course became suspect. One of my preceptors for my doctoral program insisted that I become familiar with a particular medical journal. If I did, she said, I would be on my way to understanding the “big picture.” When I expressed being a little skeptical of this journal, the teacher told me I could trust it as the journal was non-profit, and there were no editorial strings attached.

Weirdly enough, what had started our exchange over credibility was a warm can of a diet soft drink on the teacher’s desk. She drank the stuff all day. I was kidding around with her, and asked her if she had seen some controversial articles about the dangers of consuming quantities of aspartame. She scoffed at my conspiracy-theory laden point of view and I thought the subject was closed. The beginning of the next day, the teacher gave me an assignment: to hustle over to the medical library and make sure I read a paper she assured me would set me straight about my aspartame suspicions, while simultaneously demonstrating the value of getting my information from a nonprofit medical journal. It turned out that the article she wanted me to read, in the “nonprofit medical journal,” was funded in its entirety by the Drug Manufacturers Association.

Flashy Pharma Ads

As I read the literature, I discovered that there is very decided barrier between two blocks of information: substances that can be patented vs. those substances that can’t be. The can-be-patented group gets a professional discussion in eye-pleasing, four-color-print, art-like magazines. This attention to aesthetics tricks some people into interpreting, from the flashy presentation method, that the information is intrinsically truthful.

The world’s drug manufacturers do an incredibly good job using all kinds of media penetration to get the word out about their products. The drug industry’s audience used to be confined to readers of medical journals and trade publications. Then, in 1997, direct-to-consumer marketing was made legal. [5]

Personally, I don’t think this kind of presentation should be allowed. I have doctor friends that say they frequently have patients that self-diagnose from TV commercials and demand the doctor write them a prescription for the advertised product. The patients then threaten the doctor, if s/he refuses their request, that they will change doctors to get the medication. One of my doctor friends says he feels like a trained seal.

Negative Reporting on Vitamins

A vitamin article usually doesn’t get the same glossy presentation. Frequently, questionable vitamin research will be published and get blown out of proportion. A prime example of this was the clamor in the press in 2008 that vitamin E somehow caused lung cancer. [6]

I studied this 2008 experiment [7] and found glaring errors in its execution. These errors were so obvious that the experiment shouldn’t have gotten any attention, yet this article ended up virtually everywhere. Anti-vitamin spin requires this kind of research to be widely disseminated to show how “ineffectual” and even “dangerous” vitamins are. I tracked down one of the article’s original authors and questioned him about the failure to define what kind of vitamin E had been studied. A simple literature hunt shows considerable difference between natural and synthetic vitamin E. This is an important distinction because most of the negative articles and subsequent treatment failures have used the synthetic form for the experiment, often because it is cheap. Natural vitamin E with mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols costs two or three times more than the synthetic form.

Before I even got the question out of my mouth, the researcher started up, “I know, I know what you’re going to say.” He ended up admitting that they hadn’t even considered the vitamin E type when they did the experiment. This failure to define the vitamin E type made it impossible to draw a meaningful conclusion. I asked the researcher if he realized how much damage this highly quoted article had done to vitamin credibility. If there has been anything like a retraction, I have yet to see it.

Illness is Not Caused by Drug Deficiency

If you’ve made it this far in reading this article you have discerned that I’m sympathetic to vitamin arguments. I think most diseases are some form of malnutrition. Taking the position that nutrition is the foundation to disease doesn’t make medicine any simpler. You still have to figure out who has what and why. There are many disease states that are difficult to pin down using the “pharmaceutical solution to disease.” A drug solution is a nice idea, in theory. It makes the assumption that the cause of a disease is so well understood that a man-made chemical commonly called ‘medicine’ is administered, very efficiently solving the health problem. The reality though, is medicine doesn’t understand most health problems very well. A person with a heart rhythm disturbance is not low on digoxin. A child who is diagnosed with ADHD does not act that way because the child is low on Ritalin. By the same logic, a person with type II diabetes doesn’t have a deficit of metformin. The flaw of medicine is the concept of managing (but not curing) a particular disease state. I’m hard pressed to name any disease state that mainstream medicine is in control of.

Voltaire allegedly said, “Doctors are men who pour drugs of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, into human beings of whom they know nothing.” Maybe he overstated the problem. Maybe he didn’t.

References:

1. Free full text paper at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1422648/pdf/20021200s00014p814.pdf

Also: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1422648/?tool=pubmed

2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2777040 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1697548

3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21509344 and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21731913

4. http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/
SafetyAlertsforHumanMedicalProducts/ucm245275.htm

5. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa070502#t=articleResults

6. Media example:
http://seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Nutrition-Vitamins/2008/8-02-29-VitaminEMay.htm .

OMNS’ discussion at: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v04n18.shtml

7. Original article at:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2258445/?tool=pubmed or http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2258445/pdf/AJRCCM1775524.pdf

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org

Find a Doctor

To locate an orthomolecular physician near you: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v06n09.shtml

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:

Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)
Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (Canada)
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
Michael Gonzalez, D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Steve Hickey, Ph.D. (United Kingdom)
James A. Jackson, Ph.D. (USA)
Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)
Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)
Erik Paterson, M.D. (Canada)
W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor and contact person. Email: omns@orthomolecular.org


How Important are Nutritional Supplements?

January 17, 2012

Here is an excellent news release by the Orthomolecular Medicine Society that discusses the importance of nutritional supplementation, even with a healthy diet.  Research identified a relationship between folic acid deficiencies and birth defects as early as 1965. It was not until 1992 that the United States Public Health Service shared this critical knowledge with the country and recommended that all women of childbearing age, capable of becoming pregnant, consume 400mcg of folic acid per day. It took the scientific community almost 30 years to accept that a nutrient deficiency might cause a gross distortion in human neuronal development and to recommend supplementation. Thousands of children were born during this time with preventable birth defects.

And that is just one nutrient!

Please read this release through to the end, check the references for yourself if so inclined, and come to your own decision on whether nutritional supplementation will prevent and treat disease.  We consistently see the positive results of nutritional therapy in our medical practice, with patients from all walks of life, facing myriad health challenges. We test patients’ blood to detect specific nutrient deficiencies, and how well nutrients are being absorbed in their body, and administer only those nutrients that are needed.  That is ideal. And that is the type of lab testing that should be covered by all major insurance carriers.  The information gained helps to prevent suffering and chronic illness, and to optimize human health and vitality.  This saves healthcare dollars in a tangible and measurable way.

In health,

-Dr. G


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, January 17, 2012

Supplements: The Real Story
Natural or Synthetic? Foods or Tablets?

(OMNS, Jan 17, 2012) It’s a nutritional “Catch 22″: The public is told, confusingly: “Vitamins are good, but vitamin supplements are not. Only vitamins from food will help you. So just eat a good diet. Do not take supplements! But by the way, there is no difference between natural and synthetic vitamins.”

Wait a minute. What’s the real story here?

A recent health study reported that the risk of heart failure decreased with increasing blood levels of vitamin C [1]. The benefit of vitamin C (ascorbate) was highly significant. Persons with the lowest plasma levels of ascorbate had the highest risk of heart failure, and persons with the highest levels of vitamin C had the lowest risk of heart failure. This finding confirms the knowledge derived over the last 50 years that vitamin C is a major essential factor in cardiovascular health [2,3]. The study raises several important questions about diet and vitamin supplements.

Was it Food or Supplements?

The report discussed vitamin C as if it were simply an indicator of how many fruits and vegetables were consumed by the participants. Yet, ironically, the study’s results show little improvement in the risk for heart failure from consuming fruits and vegetables. This implies that the real factor in reducing the risk was indeed the amount of vitamin C consumed. Moreover, the study appears to utterly ignore the widespread use of vitamin C supplements to improve cardiovascular health. In fact, out of four quartile groups, the quartile with the highest plasma vitamin C had six to ten times the rate of vitamin C supplementation of the lowest quartile, but this fact was not emphasized. This type of selective attention to food sources of vitamin C, while dismissing supplements as an important source, appears to be an attempt to marginalize the importance of vitamin supplements.

Many medical and nutritional reports have maintained that there is little difference between natural and synthetic vitamins. This is known to be true for some essential nutrients. The ascorbate found in widely available vitamin C tablets is identical to the ascorbate found in fruits and vegetables [3]. Linus Pauling emphasized this fact, and explained how ordinary vitamin C, inexpensively manufactured from glucose, could improve health in many important ways [4]. Indeed, the above-mentioned study specifically measured the plasma level of ascorbate, which was shown to be an important factor associated with lower risk of heart failure [1, 2]. The study did not measure blood plasma levels of the components of fruits and vegetables. It measured vitamin C.

A known rationale for this dramatic finding is that vitamin C helps to prevent inflammation in the arteries by several mechanisms. It is a necessary co-factor for the synthesis of collagen, which is a major component of arteries. Vitamin C is also an important antioxidant throughout the body that can help to recycle other antioxidants like vitamin E and glutathione in the artery walls [2,3]. This was underscored by a report that high plasma levels of vitamin C are associated with a 50% reduction in risk for stroke [5].

Yes, Synthetic Vitamin C is Clinically Effective

We can almost hear “Unsubscribe” links being clicked as we state it, but here it is: synthetic vitamin C works, in real people with real illnesses. Ascorbate’s efficacy has little direct relation to food intake. A dramatic case of this was a dairy farmer in New Zealand who was on life support with lung whiteout, kidney failure, leukemia and swine flu [6]. He was given 100,000 mg of vitamin C daily and his life was saved. We have nothing against oranges or other vitamin C-containing foods. Fruits and vegetables are good for you for many, many reasons. However, you’ll need to get out your calculator to help you figure out how many oranges it would take to get that much, and then also figure how to get a sick person to eat them all.

It is established that liver function improves with vitamin C supplementation, and it is equally well known that adequate levels of vitamin C are essential for the proper functioning of the immune system. Vitamin C improves the ability of the white blood cells to fight bacteria and viruses. OMNS has more articles expanding on this topic, available for free access at http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml .

Deficiency of vitamin C is very common. According to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data, [7] nearly half of Americans do not get even the US RDA of vitamin C, which is a mere 90 mg.

Synthetic Vitamin E is Less Effective

For some other nutrients, there is a significant difference in efficacy between synthetic and natural forms. Vitamin E is a crucial anti-oxidant, but also has other functions in the body, not all well understood. It comprises eight different biochemical forms, alpha-, beta-, delta- and gamma tocopherols, and alpha-, beta-, delta-, and gamma-tocotrienols. All of these forms of vitamin E are important for the body. Current knowledge about the function of vitamin E is rapidly expanding, and each of the eight forms of natural vitamin E is thought to have a slightly different function in the body. For example, gamma-tocotrienol actually kills prostate cancer stem cells better than chemotherapy does. ( http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v07n11.shtml )

Synthetic vitamin E is widely available and inexpensive. It is “DL-alpha-tocopherol.” Yes, it has the same antioxidant properties in test tube experiments as does the natural “D-alpha-tocopherol” form. However, the DL- form has only 50% of the biological efficacy, because the body utilizes only the natural D isomer, which comprises half of the synthetic mix [8]. Therefore, studies utilizing DL-alpha-tocopherol that do not take this fact into account are starting with an already-halved dose that will naturally lead to a reduction in the observed efficacy.

Then there are the esterified forms of vitamin E such as acetate or succinate. These esterified forms, either natural or synthetic, have a greater shelf life because the ester protects the vitamin E from being oxidized and neutralized. When acid in the stomach cleaves the acetate or succinate component from the original natural vitamin E molecule, the gut can then absorb a good fraction and the body receives its antioxidant benefit. But when esterified vitamin E acetate is applied to the skin to prevent inflammation, it is ineffective because there is no acid present to remove the acetate ester.

Based on USDA data [9] an astonishing 90% of Americans do not get the RDA of vitamin E, which is, believe it or not, under 23 IU (15mg) per day.

Magnesium Deficiency is Widespread

Magnesium is another example. Over two-thirds of the population do not get the RDA of magnesium.[10] Deficiency can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, asthma, depression, and diabetes. Magnesium can be purchased in many forms. The most widely available form is magnesium oxide, which is not very effective because it is only about 5% absorbed [11]. Magnesium oxide supplements are popular because the pills are smaller — they contain more magnesium, but won’t help most people. Better forms of magnesium are magnesium citrate, magnesium malate, and the best absorbed is magnesium chloride. It’s always good to consult your doctor to determine your ideal intake. Testing may reveal unexpected deficiency. [12]

Well, Which? Natural or Synthetic?

While the natural form of vitamin E (mixed natural tocopherols and tocotrienols) is at least twice as effective as the synthetic form, this is not true of vitamin C. The ascorbate that the body gets from fruits and vegetables is the same as the ascorbate in vitamin C tablets. On first thought, this may sound confusing, because there are many so-called “natural” forms of vitamin C widely available. But virtually every study that demonstrated that supplemental vitamin C fights illness used plain, cheap, synthetic ascorbic acid. Other forms of ascorbate, for instance, the sodium or magnesium salt of ascorbic acid, are digested slightly differently by the gut, but once the ascorbate molecule is absorbed from these forms, it has identical efficacy. The advantage of these ascorbate salts is that they are non-acidic and can be ingested or topically applied to any part of the body without concern about irritation from acidity.

Further, it is known that essential nutrients are symbiotic, that is, they are more effective when taken as a group in proper doses. For example, vitamin E is more effective when taken along with vitamin C and selenium, because each of these essential nutrients can improve the efficacy of the others. Similarly, the B vitamins are more effective when taken together. Readers with dosage questions will want to consult their healthcare provider, and also look at freely available information archived at http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml .

Food Factors

Natural food factors are also important. Bioflavonoids and other vitamin C-friendly components in fresh fruits and vegetables (sometimes called “vitamin C complex”) do indeed have health benefits. These natural components are easily obtained from a healthy, unprocessed whole foods diet. However, eating even a very good diet does not supply nearly enough vitamin C to be effective against illness. A really good diet might provide several hundred milligrams of vitamin C daily. An extreme raw food diet might provide two or three thousand milligrams of vitamin C, but this is not practical for most people. Supplementation, with a good diet, is.

The principle that “natural” vitamins are better than synthetic vitamins is a widely quoted justification for actually avoiding vitamin supplements. The argument goes, because vitamins and minerals are available from food in their natural form, that somehow one might suppose that we are best off by ignoring supplements. Apparently this is what the authors of the above-mentioned study had in mind, because the report hardly mentions vitamin supplements.

Conclusion

In the real world of today’s processed food, most of us don’t get all the nutrients we need in adequate doses. Most people are deficient in several of the essential nutrients. These deficiencies are responsible for much suffering, including heart disease, cancer, premature aging, dementia, diabetes, and other diseases such as eye disease, multiple sclerosis and asthma. The above-mentioned study showing the efficacy of vitamin C in reducing heart failure is but one of the many studies showing the value of vitamins. Others are discussed and available at http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml .

For vitamin E, the natural form, taken in adequate doses along with a nutritious diet, is the best medicine. However, for most vitamins, including vitamin C, the manufactured form is identical to the natural one. Both are biologically active and both work clinically. It all comes down to dose. Supplements enable optimum intake; foods alone do not.

Don’t be fooled: nutrient deficiency is the rule, not the exception. That’s why we need supplements. When ill, we need them even more.

References:

1. Pfister R, Sharp SJ, Luben R, Wareham NJ, Khaw KT. (2011) Plasma vitamin C predicts incident heart failure in men and women in European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Norfolk prospective study. Am Heart J. 162:246-253. See also: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v07n14.shtml

2. Levy TE (2006) Stop America’s #1 Killer: Reversible Vitamin Deficiency Found to be Origin of All Coronary Heart Disease. ISBN-13: 9780977952007

3. Hickey S, Saul AW (2008) Vitamin C: The Real Story, the Remarkable and Controversial Healing Factor. Basic Health Publications, ISBN-13: 978-1591202233.

4. Pauling L. (2006) How to Live Longer And Feel Better. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, OR. ISBN-13: 9780870710964.

5. Kurl S, Tuomainen TP, Laukkanen JA, Nyyssönen K, Lakka T, Sivenius J, Salonen JT. (2002) Plasma vitamin C modifies the association between hypertension and risk of stroke. Stroke. 33:1568-1573.

6. Watch the Channel 3 New Zealand news report at http://www.3news.co.nz/Living-Proof-Vitamin-C—Miracle-Cure/tabid/371/articleID/171328/Default.aspx or http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xh70sx_60-minutes-scoop-on-new-zealand-farmer-vit-c-miracle_tech [ Note that each video is proceeded by a commercial, over which we have no control, and with which we have no financial connection whatsoever. ]

7. Free, full text paper at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1405127/pdf/amjph00225-0021.pdf

8. Papas A. (1999) The Vitamin E Factor: The miraculous antioxidant for the prevention and treatment of heart disease, cancer, and aging. HarperCollins, NY. ISBN-13: 9780060984434

9. http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminE/ ; scroll down to “Deficiency.”

10. Free, full text paper at http://www.jacn.org/content/24/3/166.full.pdf+html (or http://www.jacn.org/content/24/3/166.long )

11. Dean, C. (2007) The Magnesium Miracle. Ballantine Books, ISBN-13: 9780345494580

12. http://www.doctoryourself.com/epilepsy.html

To locate an orthomolecular physician near you: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v06n09.shtml

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

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Thyroid Presentation Post Program Evaluation

November 28, 2011

Dr. Cushman’s lecture today on “Innovative Strategies for Optimizing Thyroid Function” was a great success.  Here are just a few comments from the physicians and pharmacists in attendance:

“Thanks Dr Cushman,excellent presentation.”

“Would love to see more programs with Dr. Gina – so interesting – she is GREAT!”

“Please get Dr. Cushman back often. She’s excellent.”

“The best one on this [Live Continuing Medical Education] website.”

“Excellent speaker!

“Excellent speaker and welcomed content!”

“Excellent presentation!”

“Excellent breakdown and explanation of the key differences between thyroid products.”

Don’t miss her next presentation scheduled for Thursday, December 15th 2011 on www.freece.com and receive 1.25 hours of live continuing education pharmaceutical credits!

 


Overcoming Bias in Nutritional Medicine

October 7, 2011


Below is a timely press release from the International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine about a growing bias within the medical establishment against nutritional medicine.

It is my belief that to heal your body, you must first take responsibility for your own health, and put in the time and dedication to identify the underlying cause of your experience. Then, seek healthcare experts to partner with, and available treatments and methods that facilitate your healing.  Effective treatments are as individual as you are. You have a right, as a patient, caregiver, friend or doctor, to chose the medicines that you feel offer the best opportunity for healing.

During these times and in this industry, where money has had such a strong influence, there will be a bias in healthcare, whether conventional, integrative or  natural. Stay focused on your individual situation and strive for a balanced approach to health, taking all input you receive into consideration and then making your own choice!

In health,

-Dr. G

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, October 7, 2011

Half Truth is No Truth at All
Overcoming Bias Against Nutritional Medicine

Commentary by Andrew W. Saul
Editor, Orthomolecular Medicine News Service

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. (Abbott Joseph Liebling)

(OMNS, Oct 7, 2011) An internet search for “orthomolecular medicine” can bring up some remarkably official-looking misinformation.

A prime example is the American Cancer Society’s webpage on orthomolecular medicine, which is incomplete, negative and fallacious. http://www.cancer.org/Treatment/TreatmentsandSideEffects/ComplementaryandAlternativeMedicine/HerbsVitaminsandMinerals/orthomolecular-medicine

Read it and see for yourself. A tad biased, perhaps? Carefully search that same ACS orthomolecular medicine page for the word “intravenous.” The word is not even there, even though the US National Institutes of Health sponsored research which clearly showed that intravenous vitamin C selectively kills malignant cells. The study concluded that “Vitamin C at high concentrations is toxic to cancer cells in vitro.” (1) In vitro refers to a laboratory culture. For a real-world test, the same team then gave IV vitamin C to cancer patients, and it worked very well. (2) You would think that the American Cancer Society would find this at least a little intriguing, and maybe even mention it. But no: no mention at all.

On the other hand, the American Cancer Society is blatantly bullish on chemotherapy. Odd, really, since a peer-reviewed study showed that conventional chemotherapy contributes only 2.1% to five year cancer survival in the USA. (3) The ACS webpage has not been updated since 2008, yet all three of these studies were published well before then. Perhaps readers may be able to help ACS modernize and improve the accuracy of their presentation. You can send a message to the American Cancer Society at http://www.cancer.org/Aboutus/HowWeHelpYou/app/contact-us.aspx

Some websites are not satisfied with telling half the story. They marginalize nutritional medicine physicians as promoters of an “unproven” therapy, or even attempt to characterize them as quacks. Wikipedia, popular though notoriously unreliable, is a good example. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orthomolecular_medicine However, word is getting out. If you go to the very bottom of the page, below the reference section, you can view the page’s ratings. On a 5-point scale, readers have rated Wikipedia’s orthomolecular page in the neighborhood of 1.6 for Trustworthiness, Objectivity, and Completeness.

Sources claiming that orthomolecular medicine is without scientific basis and in the realm of “faddism” should be embarrassed by such a display of their ignorance.

Since 1987, there has been a chair in orthomolecular medicine at Ben Gurion University in Tel Aviv http://ppphs.org/haim-robert-belmaker . In 2006, an orthomolecular medical chair was established at the Kansas University Medical Center http://integrativemed.kumc.edu/bio-drisko.htm . Emanuel Cheraskin, M.D., D.M.D., was himself chairman of the Department of Oral Medicine, University of Alabama Medical School http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_cheraskin.html . Carl Curt Pfeiffer, M.D., Ph.D., was chair of the Pharmacology Department at Emory University http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_pfeiffer_ed.html .
Linus Pauling http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_pauling_ortho.html , who gave orthomolecular medicine its name in 1968, is the only recipient, ever, of two unshared Nobel Prizes.
Pioneering orthomolecular physicians Hugh Riordan http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_riordan.html , Humphry Osmond http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_osmond.html , and Abram Hoffer http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_hoffer.html were all board certified in psychiatry.
Other famous orthomolecular practitioners and researchers include:
Ruth Flinn Harrell, Ph.D. (Down syndrome; learning disabilities)

http://www.doctoryourself.com/downs.html

Lendon Smith, M.D. (pediatrics)
http://www.doctoryourself.com/smith1.html and

http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_lsmith.html

Wilfrid Shute, M.D.; Evan Shute, M.D. (cardiovascular disease)
http://www.doctoryourself.com/estory.htm and
http://www.doctoryourself.com/shute_protocol.html and

http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_shute.html

Frederick Robert Klenner, M.D. (viral illnesses; multiple sclerosis)

http://www.doctoryourself.com/klennerbio.html

Robert F. Cathcart III, M.D. (viral illnesses)

http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_cathcart.html

William Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D. (arthritis)
http://www.doctoryourself.com/kaufman.html and

http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_kaufman.html

William J. McCormick, M.D. (bacterial illness; cardiovascular disease)
http://www.doctoryourself.com/mccormick.html and http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_mccormick.html

Roger J. Williams, Ph.D. (alcoholism)
http://www.doctoryourself.com/rjwilliams.html and

http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_williams.html

You can learn more about these and many other distinguished advocates of nutritional medicine, such as Drs. Harold Foster, Josef Issels, David Horrobin, Alan Cott, Archie Kalokerinos, Henry Turkel, Ewan Cameron, and Cornelius Moerman, by going to http://orthomolecular.org/hof/index.shtml

Why is OMNS highlighting all these researchers? Because others try to direct your attention away from them. We think you should be aware of their work and look into it.

And do be sure to visit the American Cancer Society’s gift shop. http://www.acsgiftshop.com/

(Andrew W. Saul taught nutrition, health science and cell biology at the college level, and has published over 100 reviews and editorials in peer-reviewed publications. He is author or coauthor of eight books and is featured in the documentary film Food Matters. His website, http://www.doctoryourself.com, is peer-reviewed.)

References:

1. Padayatty SJ, Sun H, Wang Y, Riordan HD, Hewitt SM, Katz A, Wesley RA, Levine M. Vitamin C pharmacokinetics: implications for oral and intravenous use. Ann Intern Med. 2004 Apr 6;140(7):533-7. Full text free download: http://www.annals.org/content/140/7/533.full.pdf

2. Padayatty SJ, Riordan HD, Hewitt SM, Katz A, Hoffer LJ, Levine M. Intravenously administered vitamin C as cancer therapy: three cases. CMAJ. 2006 Mar 28;174(7):937-42. Free full text: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1405876/?tool=pubmed

3. Morgan G, Ward R, Barton M. The contribution of cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adult malignancies. Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol) 2004;16:549-560.
Abstract: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Morgan%20G%2C%20Ward%20R%2C%20Barton%20M.%20The%20contribution%20of%20cytotoxic%20chemotherapy

Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org

Find a Doctor

To locate an orthomolecular physician near you: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v06n09.shtml

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board:

Ian Brighthope, M.D. (Australia)
Ralph K. Campbell, M.D. (USA)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (Canada)
Damien Downing, M.D. (United Kingdom)
Michael Ellis, M.D. (Australia)
Martin P. Gallagher, M.D., D.C. (USA)
Michael Gonzalez, D.Sc., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Steve Hickey, Ph.D. (United Kingdom)
James A. Jackson, Ph.D. (USA)
Michael Janson, M.D. (USA)
Robert E. Jenkins, D.C. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Erik Paterson, M.D. (Canada)
W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Gert E. Shuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor and contact person. Email: omns@orthomolecular.org

To Subscribe at no charge: http://www.orthomolecular.org/subscribe.html


How Safe are your Nutritional Supplements?

January 6, 2011

Below is a press release from the Orthomolecular Medicine Society regarding the safety of the nutritional supplements our patients, family and friends rely upon every day to stay healthy and free of disease.

In health,

-Dr. G

Zero Deaths from Vitamins, Minerals, Amino Acids or Herbs

Poison Control Statistics Prove Supplements’ Safety Yet Again

There was not even one death caused by a dietary supplement in 2009, according to the most recent information collected by the U.S. National Poison Data System.

The new 200-page annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, published in the journal Clinical Toxicology, shows zero deaths from multiple vitamins; zero deaths from any of the B vitamins; zero deaths from vitamins A, C, D, or E; and zero deaths from any other vitamin.

Additionally, there were no deaths whatsoever from any amino acid, herb, or dietary mineral supplement.

Two people died from non-nutritional mineral poisoning, one from a sodium salt and one from an iron salt or iron. On page 1139, the AAPCC report specifically indicates that the iron fatality was not from a nutritional supplement. One other person is alleged to have died from an “Unknown Dietary Supplement or Homeopathic Agent.” This claim remains speculative, as no verification information was provided.

60 poison centers provide coast-to-coast data for the U.S. National Poison Data System, “one of the few real-time national surveillance systems in existence, providing a model public health surveillance system for all types of exposures, public health event identification, resilience response and situational awareness tracking.”

Over half of the U.S. population takes daily nutritional supplements. Even if each of those people took only one single tablet daily, that makes 155,000,000 individual doses per day, for a total of nearly 57 billion doses annually. Since many persons take more than just one vitamin or mineral tablet, actual consumption is considerably higher, and the safety of nutritional supplements is all the more remarkable.

If nutritional supplements are allegedly so “dangerous,” as the FDA and news media so often claim, then where are the bodies?

References:

Bronstein AC, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR Jr, Green JL, Rumack BH, Giffin SL. 2009 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS): 27th Annual Report. Clinical Toxicology (2010). 48, 979-1178. The full text article is available for free download at http://www.aapcc.org/dnn/Portals/0/2009%20AR.pdf

The data mentioned above are found in Table 22B, journal pages 1138-1148.

For Further Reading:

Download any Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers from 1983-2009 free of charge at http://www.aapcc.org/dnn/NPDSPoisonData/NPDSAnnualReports.aspx

Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness.

OMNS archive link http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml.

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.

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Heavy Metals Increase Risk of Depression and Panic Disorder

June 10, 2010

Even at low levels generally considered to pose little or no risk, exposure to environmental lead might increase – by as much as 2.3 times – the risk of depression and panic disorder but not of generalized anxiety disorder. That was the suggestion of a Canadian study appearing in the December, 2009 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry. Gender and ethnicity were also factors and the researchers stressed that lead exposure cannot be determined to be a cause of these psychological problems.

One of the main, and often overlooked, sources of heavy metals, including lead, is our water supply-both drinking water and shower water.   I recommend investing in a quality water filtration and ionization system to all of our patients.  The link between heavy metal exposure and mental illness suggested in this study and proven in many others (including practical, real life studies completed with patients at LTP Medical) is one of the reasons why we always test patients with mental health challenges for exposure to environmental toxins including heavy metals and treat them using the LTP Medical Custom Purification Program to remove the toxins from their systems.  This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to see immediate benefit in patients suffering needlessly with these challenges. Other treatments include custom amino acid therapy, fatty acid therapy, orthomolecular therapy, hormone therapy and food allergy testing and treatment.

In health,

Dr. G


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