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For Professionals: Highlights of Orthomolecular Health Conferences, 2008 and 2005

Too Good To Be True?

Nutrients Quiet the Unquiet Brain

A Four Generation Bipolar Odyssey

The 2008 Orthomolecular Health Medicine Conference

Healing with Hormones

 – Selected Highlights

 This conference occurred in San Francisco from February 28 to March 2. This summary of some of the presentations, in my judgment, represent the most relevance for mental health issues. I am not a scientist or a clinical researcher and some of the descriptions are my attempt to make the concepts understandable to the average non-medically trained person, including myself. I have also taken the liberty to expand on concepts discussed at the conference.

 Dr Richard Kunin - Methylation Effect on Receptors

 Dr Kunin gave a presentation about the centrality of methylation to a number of processes in the body, in fact, about 400 of them.  Methylation is a process in which a methyl group (CH3) replaces a hydrogen atom on DNA or a protein.  The process uses energy generated by ATP. Various methylating enzymes facilitate the process. One substance important for detoxification and antioxidant activities is glutathione, which is the end product of multiple chemical processes, some of which require methylation.

 The important thing to remember about methylation is that it can turn the activity of certain genes off at the promoter site, which is the place in the gene just above where gene transcription takes place. Gene transcription is the process in which  mRNA is produced to create proteins based on the genetic “blueprint.”  The field of epigenetics (over genetics)  is based on how the environment can shape the processes of gene transcription to the extent that the same genotypes can produce very different phenotypes.

 Later, during an informal discussion with Dr Burzynski and several attendees, he stated that hypermethylation was implicated in major psychiatric disorders.

 J.F. Crawford Ph.D. - Healing with Hormones: nutrients –hormones interactions

This presentation on the effect of nutrients on the hormonal system included an overview of fundamental concepts pertaining to the endocrine glands.  While certain vitamins are essential for proper hormone functioning, and some minor endocrine issues can be resolved with simple nutritional intervention, taking vitamin supplements does not assure proper hormonal functioning.  Drugs can affect nutritional status. For example, antidepressant medications lower Co Q-10 as do statin drugs, thereby limiting the functioning of mitochondria, the “powerhouses” of the cells.

 Psy-Tsair Chi, Ph.D. - Effects of Herbal Aromatase and Angiogenesis/RTK Inhibitors for Cancer

Dr Chi has been educated and trained in both China and the United States. This gives him a unique perspective on health and illness, one that offers innovative relatively inexpensive herbal solutions for a number of diseases. He spoke about his method of reducing estrogen and inhibiting cancer.

 For hundreds of years the Chinese treated stomach ailments, including cancer with an extract from a particular species of sea cucumber from the South China See. This sea cucumber extract is an Angiogenisis/Receptor tyrosine Kinase (RTK) inhibitor with effects not unlike RTK and angiogensesis inhibitor drugs approved by the FDA. He says his herbal approaches have cured 125 cancer patients. 

 As an exhibitor at the conference he also did tongue and fingernail assessments. His book, Dr Chi’s Tongue and Fingernail Analysis cites a case where he looked at a person’s tongue for a few minutes and accurately diagnosed kidney cancer.  That same patient had spent $30,000 of tests that had failed to accurately diagnose his condition.

 One interesting sidelight was a study at the John Wayne Cancer Institute showing that breast cancer patients who had a needle biopsy were 50% more likely to have cancer metastasize cancer than those who didn’t.  Also the cumulative effects of radiation from mammograms increase the odds of developing cancer. He and other presenters agreed that a much better test is the thermogram which measures the heat patterns in the breast.

 This presentation has no direct relationship to bipolar disorder but it does illustrate how innovative approaches that transcend allopathic practices show promise for treatment. Also of interest is how treatment approaches that have been used for centuries in other cultures are often considered alternative or complementary by allopathic medicine.

 Rich Van Konynenburg, PhD - Methylation and Glutathione, Key to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Rich Van Konynenburg is a retired engineer who, since a friend who had been very active was severely impaired by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) more than 10 years ago, has applied his analytical thinking process to the problem of CFS.  His hypothesis is that there is a chronic partial block of the methylation cycle resulting in a chronic depletion of glutathione. His hypothesis accounts for the genetic role in the disorder as well as the wide variety of symptoms reported by patients. He stated that Vitamin Diagnostics and the European Laboratory of Nutrients can test for methylation problems.

 He simplified Dr Amy Yasko’s treatment protocol for autism so that a person could take less than 10 supplements for about $3.00 a day. Among other things, these included B-12, folinic acid, betaine and  phosphatidyl serine complex which is often used to strengthen brain cellular membranes of those with bipolar disorder.

While there has not yet been a clinical study, he reports that those who have used his approach have reported continuing progress.  Feedback from physicians who patients are on the protocol indicates that from 50% to 75% report improvement.

 He recommends that supervision by a physician is needed due to untoward effects from the treatment. As an example he pointed out that two people took methycobalamin and had difficulty presumably due to the CH3 methylating existing mercury,  converting it from an inactive to a bioactive metal and probably depositing it in their brains.

 Given that glutathione depletion is also prevalent among those diagnosed as having bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, perhaps restoring glutathione can be useful for those disorders as well.  N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) has been demonstrated to have beneficial effects on bipolar disorder symptoms after 8 weeks.  NAC is a precursor to glutathione.

 Aristo Vojdani, Ph.D., M. T.- Understanding Neurotransmitters and Cytokines

Dr Vojdani, CEO of Immunosciences Lab presented leading edge information about communication processes between the immune and the central nervous systems. Receptors for primary neurotransmitters such as glutamate, dopamine, acetylcholine and serotonin are not just found in the brain, but also in leukocytes (white blood cells.) Just as in the brain, these receptors can bind with neurotransmitters. This means that the actions of the neurotransmitters can “talk to” or modulate the immune system.  In other words, neurotransmitters can serve as immunomodulators. In addition to leukocytes, dendritic cells can also synthesize and release these neurotransmitters.

 Cytokines have been generally considered to be either TH1, inflammatory, or TH2, noninflammatory.  In response to antigenic stimulation these cytokines are activated. However, new information demonstrates that previously classified cytokines may be either TH1 or TH2 depending on what stimulates them into action.  Examples of antigen stimulated TH1 cytokines are IL-2 and IFN. Examples of antigen stimulated TH2 cytokines are IL-4 and IL-10.  But if the neurotransmitters initiate the action of the cytokines, that is, if they “talk” to the cytokines, IL-4 and IL-10 become TH1 cytokines while IL-2 and IFN become TH2 cytokines. This means that depending on whether the secretion of cytokines is initiated from antigens (immune system) or neurotransmitters (CNS) the same cytokine can be either TH1 or TH2.  Apparently, when the communications process is working correctly this assures some kind of balance between inflammatory and non inflammatory cytokines.

 This opens new vistas for exploration.  Here is one example. T Cells contain glutamate receptors. When dendritic cells meet lipopolysaccarides, byproducts of bacteria, they release large amounts of glutamate which goes to the T Cells which then are activated to produce IL-2, IFN and TNF, each of which have varying associations with depression, mania, even hallucinations. Mania involves excessive glutamate activity in the brain. So once again we have a link between an antigen and conditions that contribute to mania.

One of the most interesting concepts to me is that in addition to celiac disease and  gliaden sensitivity, at least 16 other neuroimmunological responses to wheat and milk exist.  In other words, a person can test negative for gliadin antibodies and celiac disease and still have neuroimmunological responses to wheat and milk.  He even cited an example of anaphylaxis in a person who ate saugage with wheat isolates in it, even though the person was not allergic to wheat. This can produce other antibodies which can wreak havoc in the central nervous system. Three of these include glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) IgG, parietal cell IgG, and heat shock protein IgG. These antibodies can not only affect brain functioning but also GAD is a major antibody to islet cells, suggesting that they may play a role in diabetes. He discussed an Essential Biomarkers Panel which costs $250 which can assess the potential for neuroautoimmune disorders.

He reported that Immunosciences Lab has an OCD panel which can help identify not only PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neurological Disorders Associated with Streptococcal infection), but a group that has not yet been adequately represented in the literature, ANDAS, that is, adults whose obsessive symptoms started with an immune response to a strep infection.

Later talked to Dr Vojdani about a test they have that assesses neuroimmunology of Lyme Disease.  This patent pending test, called the Multi-Peptide ELISA provides a more comprehensive picture of the immune response to Lyme disease, and, if I understood him correctly, to other infections. He stated they have identified individuals who have antibodies to almost every possible antigen such as different foods, Lyme, other infectious diseases. He said that is often due to intestinal dysfunction in which antigen-antibodies pairs reflect the body’s heightened responses to antigens.  Even though such a person may well test positive for Lyme and other disorders, the problem may be in the gut, not from an infection.  He stated if that is the case, there is a way to reduce or completely eliminate antibodies.  If the patient undergoes this procedure and avoids foods that initiate the development of antibodies, the overall reactivity of the immune system will be reduced.

 The bottom line: the immune system talks to the central nervous system and visa versa.

 Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski - Anti-Neoplastons and Personal Cancer Treatment

While the subject was personalized cancer treatment, I include it in this summary to illustrate how one person who dares to think outside the box may change how a disease such as cancer is conceptualized and treated.  Also, I include it because I discuss Dr Burzynski’s work in my book Too Good to be True? Nutrients Quiet the Unquiet brain.

 In 1968, while working on his Ph.D. in Poland he noted that there were several peptides that were present in the blood of healthy adults but not in the blood in cancer patients. He called these peptides antineoplastons and, wondered if they had anything to do with communicating with cancer cells to prevent their becoming immortal.  They did. Human urine contained these peptides, which, when isolated proved effective against different types of cancer. They work as molecular switches that regulate genes p53 and p21 by demethylation of promoter sequences. This inhibits the uptake of amino acids necessary for growth of cancer cells. Phase II trials have shown efficiency with low grade glioma, brain stem glioma, high-grade glioma, adenocarcinoma of the colon, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Almost three fourths of children with low-grade glioma, had an objective response. The five year survival rate for adenocarcinoma of the colon with liver metastases is 91% versus 39% in controls on chemotherapy. For example, a comparison of overall survival of patients with inoperable brainstem glioma demonstrates a two year survival rate of 42% compared to 6.7% with conventional therapies.

 Whereas initially he extracted the peptides from human urine, now he manufactures them synthetically. He is only allowed to use the peptides for those select cases that meet the FDA requirements for the phase II trial. Most of the patients have to have failed conventional chemotherapy and or radiation to be eligible to participate in the study. 

 In spite of a thwarted effort by personnel in the FDA to put Dr Burzynski in jail in the 90’s, thereby allowing the CEO of another pharmaceutical company to pursue antineoplaston therapy, Dr. Burzynski now has been working with the same FDA through Phase II trials, saving children with inoperable brain tumors who faced certain death.  For the most lethal brain tumors, five year survival is 30% compared with negligible survival with conventional therapies.  He is now awaiting assessment of the phase II results in order to proceed with phase III trials.  There are currently 19 clinical trials with antineoplastons and 1700 different physicians from around the world who are participating in these trials.

Disclosure: I own some stock in his company and also sell The Burzynski Breakthrough.

 In the meantime, for those patients ineligible for antineoplaston therapy, Dr Burzynski has developed a personalized approach to cancer based on identification of oncogenes. The basic thrust is to downregulate the specific genes that cause cancer and upregulate the specific genes that prevent cancer in that individual.

He received a standing ovation.

Tim Guilford, MD - Glutathione: An Anti-Inflammatory Hormone

Dr Guilford discussed, among other things, the role of glutathione in detoxification, one of the 200 or so processes in the body in which glutathione plays a critical role. He stated that the following diseases are associated with low levels of glutathione: autism, cystic fibrosis, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, atherosclerosis, diabetes and viral diseases. He did not mention schizophrenia and bipolar disorder which are also characterized by extremely low levels of glutathione and the enzymes needed to produce it.

 Mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell, with thousands in each cell. Enzyme glutathione peroxidase changes free radicals into water, but if there is not enough glutathione, damage can occur. If free radicals are not neutralized on cell membrane surfaces, then oxidative stress can cause damage to the membrane and eventually organ systems.

 Stress also reduces glutathione production.  Older people are healthy when they have higher glutathione level compared to those with lower levels.  Gut dysbiosis increases GI tract inflammation which causes oxidative stress.

 In contrast to Van Konynenburg’s approach of providing precursors for the manufacture of glutathione Dr Guilford has developed as way to take it orally. He put glutathione in a “fatty bubble” (liposome) so that it can be absorbed. For more information visit Readisorb.com. Other approaches include IV and skin patches.

 Glutathione has been highly successful in a cystic fibrosis patient. That condition is characterized by a genetic failure to get glutathione transported into the blood. In three weeks of treatment, the patient’s lungs cleared dramatically.  Restoration of mitochondrial dysfunction with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome patients has resulted in students heretofore unable to attend classes being able to return to classes. It is being utilized to facilitate detoxification in autistic children.

 Glutathione is not a “cure” all and requires close physician supervision for a number of reasons. Too much can detoxify the body too quickly causing symptoms. Various cofactors are needed. The causes for the depletion needs to be identified and treated.

 I talked to Dr Guilford after his presentation and told him about the data on free radicals and glutathione status in those diagnosed with bipolar and schizophrenia. He was not aware that both glutathione and glutathione producing enzymes were uniformly low in patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.


Dr Stanislaw Burzynski - Anti-Aging Peptides and Amine Acids, a New Frontier

Have you ever wondered how a hand is created in utero?  Dr. Burzynsk has. He pointed out that the genes that drive the proteins to make the hand are silenced after the overall structure of the hand is formed. And as we age, different genes are silenced through methylation. In old age, often it is the tumor suppressor gene that is silenced, which is one reason cancer is associated with aging.

Have you ever wondered why worker bees only live several weeks while queen bees live for up to two years? Dr Burzynski has. He identified substances in royal jelly fed to the queen that restores optimum gene expression and, compared to the worker bee, a degree of immortality. They include phenylacetylglutaminate sodium (PG) and its metabolite, Phenylacetate sodium, (PN).  Instinctlively, bees will prefer the flowers of Mexican heather to that of the rose because the Mexican heather has larger amounts of  PG and PN than the rose.  Dr Jerzy Paleolog, from Lublin Poland demonstrated that by actually injecting these substances into worker bees, they extended their lives to five times what would be expected.

 Dr Burzynski has a line of Amino Care products with PG and PN available for sale on the Internet. In Europe these supplements are generally accepted as safe and specifically for retarding the aging process. Meanwhile, for those who can’t afford the supplements, curcumin and piperine (bl;ack) pepper  reduce inflammation and have some anti-cancer effects.

Albert Donnay, MHS - Hidden in plain view: the role of oxygen and carbon monoxide

He calls it MUlti-Sensory SEnSitivity or MUSES Syndrome. Figuring out the abbreviation takes some effort, but not when it is associated with the likes of an Edgar Allen Poe who seemed at times to be inspired by a muse whose sensitivity for the macabre has captivated generations of readers. Donnay gave a fascinating fact-based hypothesis for not only the problems of Edgar Allen Poe, but also for the characters in his novels, quite a few of which are characters who have symptoms not unlike chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. These include overly sensitivity towards light, sound, even touch.   Characters with these symptoms were in novels written when he lived in homes with coal gas lights, which caused carbon  monoxide poisoning. Looking at Poe’s actual hair, Donnay discovered exceptionally high levels of uranium, a substances that would be expected from the coal gas that was used to fuel the gas lights of that era.  His wife, Virginia, also had high levels. It appears as if it wasn’t the “winged seraphs of heaven” who brought the chilly wind that took away his Annable Lee. It was the coal gas that lit the lamps in his house.

What is even more interesting is that the number of articles written on conditions variously described as neuroasthenia during the 19th century parallels the growth and decline of the coal gas industry. Also, the areas where “neuroasthenia” was prevalent correlated with the areas where coal gas was used. Even Abraham Lincoln complained of various symptoms while living in the white house.

OK, you say, so CO can cause multiple chemical sensitivity, depression, learning problems, memory impairment, hallucinations, even death, but are the amounts we are exposed to sufficient to cause these symptoms? The answer is yes, but that is only the beginning of the story. There is an enzyme called heme oxygenase-1 that actually produces CO in the body in order to dampen the effects of inflammation.  Actually small amounts of CO have been suggested for MS, an inflammatory condition. When a person is stressed, there may be an increase of CO to compensate for the resulting inflammatory processes. Rebreathing that air could also cause symptoms. The levels of heme oxygenase-1 in bipolar patients is slightly above normal.  Is that enough to mean something?

The good news? There are meters that can test the amount of exhaled O2, Co2 and CO gases, thereby determining if the person has MUSE syndrome. There are treatments for it that are effective. For more information on this condition visit http://www.mcsrr.org/poe/cohome.html

By the way, one of Van Gogh’s paintings shows a gas lamp in the room.


bulletHighlights from Orthomolecular Health Medicine Meeting, February 2005

Dr Garry Gordon, speaking on Nucleic Acid and Inflammation, not only introduced attendees to the concept of silencing genes with RNA I (Interference) but also of the possibility of modulating RNA levels to change the levels of any protein in the body. He discussed cases where RNA Nutriswitches changed levels of inflammation, glucose, lipids, triglycerides and  excitotoxins. In other words, in the future approaches like this would specifically target needed RNA protein to compensate for the genetic metabolic defects.

Dr David Berg from HEMEX Laboratories spoke on ISAC, Immune System Activation of Coagulation, a condition in which coagulation cascades are activated leading to decreased blood flow. This is seen in a number of chronic illnesses, including Lyme disease and can correlate with increased pathogen load.  Considering that  a capillary is 8-10 um in diameter and a red blood cell (RBC) is 7 um, any blockage could retard blood flow. When the blood flows smoothly oxygen diffusion time is 2 seconds. When the capillary is clogged with fibrin the oxygen diffusion time is 5.3 minutes. With Lyme patients, 89% of them had positive ISAC panels, meaning their blood flow was not normal.  Heparin restores blood flow and may be effective with psychotic individuals when their psychosis is due to reduced blood flow. One physician had seen dramatic response in a psychotic patient using Heparin alone. HEMEX solves "blood curdling mysteries."

Dr Thomas Levy addressed the topic, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Circulation. What I most remember of his presentation is his declarative unambiguous statement, "Calcium is the worst supplement in the world," or words to that effect. He said that excess calcium accelerates atherosclerosis and other degenerative diseases. On the other hand Vitamin C can actually reduce atherosclerosis if given in large enough doses.

Dr Raphael Stricker spoke on Lyme Disease: The Hidden Epidemic. He described the significant public health threat that Lyme disease represents and talked about two barriers to effective diagnosis and treatment, the role of co infections and uncertainty regarding a therapeutic endpoint for treatment. He pointed out the need for multiple interventions and a prolonged intervention to deal with these debilitating illnesses. For musculoskeletal disease the initial treatment is oral antibiotic but for neurological disease the initial treatment is IV antibiotics.

Dr William Cowden discussed Non-pharmaceutical Remedies for Chronic Lyme Borreliosis. He touched on some of the 300 + illness that Borrelia imitates, including chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, MS, ALS, and psychosis. Then he outlined an integrative approach including, among other things, enzymes, vitamins and minerals, detoxifying herbs, homeopathics, Samento, Laser Detox, and light beam generator. Progress was measured in symptom reduction.  Fourteen in the experimental group reported major reduction in symptoms compared to a control group of equal numbers. 

Dr Dietrick Klinghardt, in Lyme Disease; A Look Beyond Antibiotics suggested that the severity of symptoms is related more to the total pathogen load, one of which may be Lyme disease, as well as a genetically determined ability to excrete neurotoxins. A few of the many conditions he looks at are roundworms, tapeworms, toxoplasmosis, clostridia, leptospirosis, Bartonella, mycoplasma, and molds and fungi, as well as mercury. Some of his treatments include pulsed electromagnetic fields, niacin, herbs, minerals, bee venom and sometimes antibiotics. He advocates a more comprehensive approach, viewing the Lyme disease as just one pathogen capable of causing symptoms.  Interestingly he believes that large doses of Niacin kill Bb and suggests that Dr Hoffer's discovery of niacin for schizophrenia may have more to do with antimicrobial qualities than current orthomolecular beliefs.  A physician in the audience confronted Dr Klinghardt on one fascinating idea he presented that was so beyond the scope of credibility, that had Dr Klinghardt provided supporting research, many, including this writer would still have had trouble accepting it. The concept is that microrecordings of the sounds of microbes, when amplified and played back to the patient increased the immune response against those microbes.

Dr Floyd Taub gave a talk entitled Clinical Data on Fatigue Reduction Due to a New Immunomodulator. He discussed a new immunomodulator called COBAT that modifies cytokine responses, thereby reducing fatigue in patients with conditions that normally provoke a cytokine response.  In one study of 13 patients the fatigue level of all but one was reduced by an average of 53%. COBAT does not treat the underlying condition. It changes the pattern of cytokine responses. Usefulness for patients with CNS disorders were not discussed, but this is a subject worthy of exploration.

Dr Eric Rentz addressed The Broad-Spectrum Antimicrobial Properties of Oligodynamic AG+ as a Silver Hydrosol. He introduced the attendees to a new structure of silver that is more effective and has less side effects than colloidal silver. This involves silver ions which, because of their small size have a greater antibacterial and antifungal  impact than colloidal silver. Dr Rentz advised China authorities on the potential of silver hydrosol for SAR's virus and the Chinese are currently exploring this. Apparently the silver does not accumulate in the skin causing the discoloration that characterized blue-bloods in an earlier time.

Dr Charles Jones spoke on  a Pediatric Overview: The Children of Lyme Disease. He has treated some 7000 children over the years. He stated that 50% have no tick bite history; 10% or less had the bull's eye rash. But all lived in tick infested areas and had dramatic decline in functioning including decreased stamina, insomnia, headaches, nausea, poor short term memory, behavior outbursts and mood swings, difficulties in thinking and expressing thoughts, reading, writing, and decision making. The disease can be passed through pregnancy and breast milk. He showed a video of four children being examined who had Lyme, who now 10+ years later are free of the disease. (One is studying to be a physician.) Watching his compassion for these children as he interviewed and examined them was moving.

Dr Brian Fallon talked about The Neuropsychiatric Aspects of Lyme Disease. In this comprehensive talk he discussed how spirochetes invade and attach to brain cells, how cytokines cause indirect damage. He discussed the Columbia Lyme disease study, the results of which are to be published some time this year. Among the findings: Lyme Disease causes verifiable brain dysfunction and blood flow deficits especially in the para-limbic areas leading to, among other things, disruption of attention, memory and learning, decreased immune response and altered perception of pain, smell, and taste. (This is consistent with descriptions in Too Good to be True.)  Treatment, even for those who already had IV antibiotic treatment improves blood flow and reduces symptoms of fatigue. In a discussion after his presentation he mentioned that the greatest improvement in circulation appeared to be in the right hemisphere.  

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