Posts in the Medicine category

Susan G. Komen Foundation Drops Funding for Planned Parenthood

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is no longer helping to fund breast screenings for women who need them at Planned Parenthood. This is quite insane (after all, they’re a breast cancer charity), horrible, and apparently incredibly politically motivated - their new VP is Karen Handel, a vociferous anti-Choice, anti-Planned Parenthood Conservative activist. What’s sad is that of all of Planned Parenthood’s services, only 3% are abortion related. The rest? Oh, little things like breast-cancer screenings for low-income women. Nothing important, or anything that the Susan G. Komen foundation might want to … you know… support. (more...)

Nutrition & Pregnancy: Two Common Ailments, Two Things That Help

NOTE: I am not a Doctor and do not claim to be one. I’m just really good at searching for information on the web. I cannot be held responsible for any bad things which happen to you if you follow my advice – you have been warned. Please consult your Doctor before following any of my advice, ever. If you don’t, you’re an idiot.

There are two really annoying things about being pregnant that are pretty easy to fix with a couple of simple vitamins & minerals.

What I’m talking about are constipation and headaches while pregnant, and things tasting odd while pregnant. (I’ve already covered morning sickness on this blog).

Headaches and Constipation during Pregnancy

This one’s a really easy one, so I’m surprised that more doctors don’t know about the cure.

Signs of a magnesium deficiency include:

  • Migraines
  • Headaches
  • Constipation

Hey, that sounds familiar. So what happens if you take Magnesium supplements when you’re pregnant and have any of these?

They go away. (Although if you take most Magnesium supplements, you may find that you get diarrhea. So you’ll need to get the enteric coated, slow release ones like Slo-Mag).

Why is this? My guess is that as the baby is growing, it’s strip-mining the mother’s body for calcium. Magnesium is needed by the body to process more calcium, and as a result, your magnesium stores get very quickly depleted.

So if you’re getting headaches while pregnant, give it a shot. (Be sure to consult your doctor first though).

Taste Disorders During Pregnancy

Similarly, things just taste damn odd while you’re pregnant. What else causes taste disorders?

Zinc deficiencies.

Your body needs a lot of zinc while you’re pregnant. Some studies show that it actually has a protective effect on the fetus (allowing it – along with folic acid - to undo damage from environmental factors, such as drinking before you knew you were pregnant).

Needless to say, your body is probably going to get strip-mined for Zinc as well. So try to find a slow-release zinc supplement, and give that a shot. You might just find that it’ll help. It may also help with any cramping you’re feeling.

NOTE: I am not a Doctor and do not claim to be one. I’m just really good at searching for information on the web. I cannot be held responsible for any bad things which happen to you if you follow my advice – you have been warned. Please consult your Doctor before following any of my advice, ever. If you don’t, you’re an idiot.


Niacin Adventures: Part 2 – Why Raw Food Diets Might Work For Some People

Previous article in series: Niacin Adventures: Part 1 – Nature’s Prozac

A growing number of people believe that raw food diets are good for their mental and physical health.

Now, personally, I’m not a huge believer in this – our teeth, stomachs and brains have evolved to expect a mixture of protein and vegetable matter, and to unlock the vitamins and nutrients in them requires at least some form of cooking.

But, say we go with it… why might it work?

Well, here’s a couple of papers from 1942 that – if my Nicotinic acid theory is correct – might go a long way towards explaining why it helps: (The Nicotinic Acid Content of Common Fruits and Vegetables, as Prepared for Human Consumption; W.C. Russell, M.W. Taylor, J.F. Beuck, October 21 1942, The Journal of Nutrition) (The Nicotinic Acid Content of Meat, W.J. Dann, P.J. Handler, April 16 1942, The Journal of Nutrition)

The first paper discusses how typical cooking methods cause nicotinic acid to be lost in the process when cooking fresh and canned fruits and vegetables. This can be – especially if you don’t use the cooking water elsewhere in your cooking – anywhere up to 41% of the amount of Vitamin B3 in the food – and we’re talking about typical portions of about 3.5oz here, which typically contain only about .5mg to begin with. (Although if you want a boost, go for peas and asparagus).

The second paper discusses how cooking meat affects the same thing; the result here is that while a lot of meats have more nicotinic acid in them than veggies, they typically lose over half of it during cooking. That, and the best sources for your are chicken breast, chicken liver and other kinds of liver. But, of course, you still lose up to 50% of the nicotinic acid in the food by cooking it. (Not that you’d actually want to eat raw meat, unless it’s carpacchio).

So does this explain the success of raw foods? Maybe in part. It’s only one vitamin; others would need to be studied first. My bet though, is on eating more chicken. And more peas.


Niacin Adventures: Part 1 - Nature's Prozac

Next article in this series: Niacin Adventures Part 2: Why Raw Food Diets Might Work For Some People

Back in January, I promised a series of articles based on some experimentation I was doing with Niacin, or Vitamin B3 (the Nicotinic acid form).

So here’s the first post I’m going to make as a result of that research. (I like nutritional experimentation – I can do it at home, and don’t need a lab or a license).

A Little Background

Niacin has been added to food since the 1930s to combat the disease Pellagra, caused by Niacin deficiency. (Typically this disease hits countries with a heavy corn-based diet who don’t mix the corn with ash when cooking it, which releases the niacin from its bound form).

It’s found naturally in the husks of seeds such as brown rice, and is also synthesized by the body from Tryptophan. It takes 60mg of Tryptophan to make 1mg of Niacin, and the recommended daily does is between 2 and 15mg.

An average chicken breast (about 1lb, or 16oz) contains about 108mg of Tryptophan.

Now, your body uses most of the Tryptophan (about 93%) for other things. About 7% of it is available to be converted to Serotonin, and Niacin. (These figures may be wrong – I read the paper a while back and can’t find it right now, but they’re in the ballpark).

The pathways work like this:

Tryptophan + Vitamin B6 –> Niacin

Tryptophan + Tryptophan Hydroxylase –> 5-HTP; 5-HTP + 5-HTP decarboxylase –> Serotonin; Serotonin eventually becomes Melatonin.

Now, there’s a switch here. Your body needs Niacin more than it needs Serotonin. If you’re Niacin deficient, then your body will convert more of the Tryptophan to Niacin, in order to get the right amount. (The two biosynthesis pathways compete, and the Niacin one is stronger).

What this means for Your Brain

Simply put, if you’re not getting enough Niacin in your diet, you will end up being deficient in Serotonin. And Melatonin. So you’ll be depressed, and will have trouble sleeping.

What are our foods fortified with? Typically, it appears to be not Niacin, but Niacinamide. There are two forms of Niacin; one is Nicotinic Acid, and the other is Niacinamide. Presumably because it’s cheaper, or more stable, the niacinamide form is preferred as an additive in cereals and flour. In fact, the USDA requires that food manufacturers use either form – not just nicotinic acid.

Now this is the really important part – Niacinamide does NOT trigger the switch in the pathways. It’ll stop you from getting Pellagra, sure. But it won’t flip the switch to say “hey, you’ve got enough Niacin – let’s start making Serotonin instead.”

So your body will carry on trying to convert Tryptophan into Niacin, and use it all up, leaving you with a somewhat lower amount of Serotonin in your system (and Vitamin B6, as this is used up in the conversion process).

How do you get around this?

Simple. Start taking the nicotinic acid form, along with Tryptophan. This works much better than St. John’s Wort or a prescription SSRI (at least, in my experience).

Why does it work better?

Your body can regulate the conversion process. It can limit the amount of serotonin in your system, and target the results. What’s more, your brain directly uses the higher amount of Tryptophan and converts it to Serotonin inside your brain. Which is much better than SSRIs which can have nasty effects on the Serotonin producing cells in your gut.

(Your gut has its own, entirely separate brain to control digestion, a medical fact that was almost lost for about 100 years, but that’s a story for another time).

What about 5-HTP? Why not just use that?

5-HTP is an intermediate step in the production of Serotonin.

But your body doesn’t regulate its conversion to Serotonin. It’s not limited, other than by the amount of 5-HTP decarboxylase in your system.

This means that you can get Serotonin overload. What’s more, most of the conversion will happen in your body – not your brain. Before you even get close to a therapeutic amount, you’ll start getting the shakes, and will probably vomit. Sure, some of it will make it into the brain – but it’ll also be floating around your body. (And that can cause heart issues, so don’t do it!).

So What Should I Take?

Before I go to bed, I personally am taking 1500mg of L-Tryptophan, along with 300mg of Nicotinic Acid. (Be VERY careful to get the Nicotinic acid form of Niacin – it’s often hard to tell, and the most clearly labeled form is SolarRay’s brand). I also take about 250mg of B6 (which in some studies helps the brain convert the Tryptophan into Serotonin, which is confusing, as B6 is involved in the synthesis of Niacin), and 100mg of B1 (because I drink occasionally, and eat a lot of sugary foods).

The effects come on within about 15 minutes, and I’m no longer depressed or anxious at all, and get a very good night’s sleep.

I occasionally try this mix during the day, and it works well then too. There’s some flushing that occurs (skin redness & itching), but that goes away over time and lessens over the course of a few weeks.

If you try this out, be careful NOT to take more than 1500mg of Niacin per day. For safety’s sake, keep it below 1000mg. And DON’T mix it with SSRIs, or you risk getting too much Serotonin – which is also bad.

A Call for Research

And here’s the important thing:

Can we please do a study to lock down the exact mechanism of the switching pathway to determine exactly how Nicotinic acid supplementation switches production of Niacin to production of Serotonin in the body?

If we do this study, we can probably help the millions of people around the world with depression by mandating a switch from Niacinamide fortification of foods to Nicotinic Acid supplementation (or a 50-50 mix) in foods.

We beat Pellagra. We can beat depression too.

Disclaimer: As ever, I’m not a medical doctor, and don’t claim to be one. Use this information at your own risk, and consult your physician before proceeding. I can’t be held responsible for any bad side effects you may experience by following this advice. Nutritional supplements are effectively drugs, and should be treated as such.


New Site for my disease theory…

I’m taking the plunge, and as I have hosting already, I’m setting up a new website for my theory about herpesviridae being the main cause of most late-stage life diseases.

It’s going to take a while until it’s ready, but you can find it here:

Why put it up before it’s baked?

There’s an ethical issue here. If I’m right, quite simply, then I’m being unethical by not doing so. (There’s also the possibility that if I’m wrong, then I’m also being unethical by putting it up – but, given that I think I’m on the right track, here it is).

So there it is. More content coming soon. (I’m planning on adding an RSS feed for the front page so you can see when things change).