Category: Medicine, Naturopathic
Major news about one of my favorite molecules, l-fucose. In addition to being part of the antigenic structure of the H antigen found in blood group O, fucose is now garnering attention as an important component in learning. Although neurophysiology spends quite a bit of time looking at the neurosynaptic junction (the gap between two nerve cells, where nerve conduction occurs) most of the emphasis is on the neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and dopamine) that can jump the gap.
However, what goes into holding the synapse together may be as important a factor in cognition and learning as what jumps across the synapse. And that appears to be lectin-like receptors on one side of the nerve synapse which bind to fucose as a ligand on the other.
In other words your nerves have a sweet tooth for fucose.
Reaction in the brain involving fucose skyrocket during periods of intense learning. And human milk is a very rich source of the sugar, with amounts far higher than all other species. The sugar content of human milk varies by ABO blood type and secretor status which makes me want to do a study looking at learning differences along blood group and secretor status in breast fed and bottle fed children.
The fucosyltransferase enzymes FUT1, FUT2 and FUT3 are very intimately involved in determining ABO, secretor and Lewis blood types and recent research has linked serum B12 levels (another important player in proper nerve function) to the FUT2 (secretor) gene.
Fucose and fucosylation have a big role in ontogeny (the origin and the development of an organism from the fertilized egg to its mature form) via it's role in the development of the Lewis X antigen (FUT9) which supports cell-to-cell-adhesion in embryos. Lewis X expression in the brain is in turn controlled by the PAX6 gene, which regulates many elements of nerve growth in addition to forming the architecture of the iris.
The link between PAX6 and Lewis X (FUT9) may explain why a recent study showed that at least some aspects of personality were determined by the genetics of iris formation. Close-up pictures were taken of the study participants' irises, and they also filled out a questionnaire about their personalities. The researchers looked at crypts (pits) and contraction furrows (lines curving around the outer edge of the iris), which are formed when pupils dilate. It was found that those with more crypts were likely to be tender, warm and trusting, while those with more furrows were more likely to be neurotic, impulsive and give in to cravings.
PAX6 is gene that helps regulate embryonic differentiation. PAX6 also has some interesting effects on adrenal and pancreatic function as well as norepinephrine expression in the gut via the enteric nervous system. Maybe there's a future in medicine for the iris after all.
Going forward, I predict that soon the best thing to use in kids who are learning-challenged will not be the usual suspects like Ritalin or SSRIs, but rather glycomic agents from the diet that enhance fucosylation. These drugs do enhance the function or persistence of neurotransmitters, but fucosylation enhancers seem to enhance the stability of the entire neural network. It makes no sense to up-regulate neurotransmitters if you haven't insured that the nerves are holding to each other in the first place.
Of course, most of the old blood typers know that Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosis) is a decent source of fucose.
Schizophrenia, gluten, and low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diets
We report the unexpected resolution of longstanding schizophrenic symptoms after starting a low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diet. After a review of the literature, possible reasons for this include the metabolic consequences from the elimination of gluten from the diet, and the modulation of the disease of schizophrenia at the cellular level.
Previously, Dohan (Acta Psych Scand 1966, 42(2):125-152) observed a decrease in hospital admissions for schizophrenia in countries that had limited bread consumption during World War II, which suggested a possible relationship between bread and schizophrenia. Early work with lectins clearly showed that the brains of schizophrenics bind lectins differently than the brain tissue of non-schizophrenics, which appears to make sense in that the carbohydrate content of schizophrenic brain tissue (in addition to dementia and a few other illnesses) revealed the existence of spherical deposits in the inner and middle molecular layers of the dentate gyrus in the hippocampal formation which contained fucose, galactose, N-acetyl galactosamine, N-acetyl glucosamine, sialic acid, mannose and chondroitin sulfate; many of these blood group active carbohydrates with known lectin binding affinities (link).
Over the years some of the most stirring letters I've received from book readers have centered around improvements in family members with schizophrenia. Almost all of these letters have been from or about blood type O schizophrenics, which may mean that the nutritional approach to schizophrenia might necessarily differ by foods and blood type. We are now only beginning to understand the effects of tissue glycosylation on the development and maintenance of brain neural networks.
I'm going to try to develop the habit of posting about new and interesting research findings that I come across in the science literature. Where appropriate, I'll add some pithy commentary as well.
Research Bias Against Alternative Medicine
"Slowly they are beginning to report on the welcome trend of evidence based clinical trials for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), including herbal remedies. Unfortunately, the media still rely for their sources on high quality medical journals, which are more likely to report negative results about CAM and positive results about pharmaceuticals, The clinical trials in the study showed no difference in quality between herbal remedy and pharmaceutical trials, but CAM was still reported on more skeptically".
Finally someone has the courage to address the bias against plant medicines often seen in the major media and high-profile science journals. As I have said many times before, the risks of herbal medicine are often blown way out of proportion, while the corresponding high risks of certain pharmaceuticals always seem to be "acceptable in light of their potential benefits." Every medical intervention carries risk, but when viewed against the huge number of drug reactions per year (20,000+ people die every year from NSAIDs such as Advil or Tylenol) the small number of reactions to herbal medicines (mostly allergic type reactions) appear to be over-exaggerated as part campaign of deception. Thanks to my colleague Rick Kirschner for recently mentioning this article.
Take it from me: After more than a decade of similar treatment, I know one of these campaigns when I see one.
ABO Blood Group and the Risk of Pancreatic Cancer
In two large, independent populations, ABO blood type was statistically significantly associated with the risk of pancreatic cancer. Further studies are necessary to define the mechanisms by which ABO blood type or closely linked genetic variants may influence pancreatic cancer risk.
This study was extensively publicized in the media, and while welcome as yet another link in the under-explored relationship between blood group antigens and cancer (see my 'Verisimilitude' lecture), these results have been reported in earlier studies (as well as similar results in bile duct cancer).
More interesting to me is the link between ABH secretor status and the predictability and reliability of the most common tumor marker test for pancreatic cancer. This tumor marker, called CA19-9, is variable based on ABH secretor status, yet this fact is virtually unknown in oncology.
Involvement of intestinal alkaline phosphatase with ABO and secretor blood group types
These results indicate that IAP is strongly involved in chylomicron formation and fatty acid metabolism might change among ABO blood type. In addition, ABO blood type classification in apoB-48 measurement would improve the diagnostic value in the evaluation of metabolic syndrome.
Tom Greenfield wrote about this study a few years back, but I wanted to bring it back since, like most studies of this sort, it has gone completely unnoticed by the nutrition communinty at-large. IAP is an enzyme implicated in transcellular transport of chylomicrons, large molecules that transport dietary lipids from the intestines to other locations in the body. Since 1966 it has been known that this enzyme varies among ABO blood groups and secretor status, with type O secretors having the highest amount and A non-secretors the lowest. Since IAP is critical for breaking down dietary cholesterol and enhancing the assimilation of calcium.
This calls into question the so-called 'Bone Hypothesis,' a long-treasured argument of vegans and dietitians everywhere, that dietary protein (especially from animal sources rich in the sulfur amino acids) should increase acid production in the body, and that in response to the acid load induced by a high animal protein diet, bone may be called upon to act as a reservoir of alkali using bone calcium as a buffering source.
As the theory goes, the long-term consequence of this reliance on bone to buffer the endogenous acid would be increased rates of skeletal loss and a decrease in bone mineral density. The hypothesis would also predict that a long-term, high protein diet would increase fractures.
However, in a recent study it was found that:
Studies conducted over the past 8 years in our laboratory call the traditional high protein bone hypothesis to question. We have found that a high protein diet induces high levels of urine calcium primarily because it increases intestinal calcium absorption. Second, a low protein diet acutely reduces intestinal calcium absorption, resulting in an abrupt rise in serum parathyroid hormone.
No only is IAP induced at high levels in blood group O individuals by a protein diet, one can expect it to increase bone density in these people. Not only that, evidence exists which indicates that the physical expression of the blood type A antigen appears to turn off IAP in the intestinal tract.
We found that red cells of blood group A bind almost all intestinal alkaline phosphatase; erythrocytes of blood group B or O to a much lesser degree. This is in accordance with the fact that intestinal alkaline phosphatase is found more frequently in the serum of individuals of blood group O or B than in serum of persons of blood group A.
I challenge anyone who still clings to the idea that blood groups have no scientific role in dietary personalization to respond to these basic facts.
It comes down to this simple challenge: Either put up or shut up.
I think yesterday’s Grand Rounds at The University of Bridgeport went well. As seems to be the case more and more these days, I had a surfeit of material; much more than I could contain within the two hours allotted --even though I had limited the lecture to only the first part of standard presentation (‘Adjusting People to Genes’).
Dr. Natalie Colicci, my associate over at the D’Adamo Clinic and an alumnus of the Naturopathic Program at UB, thought it was a success and the students (third and fourth year) paid seemingly rapt attention.
It was nice to also see a few of my associates from bygone days including Dr. Eugene Zampieron, Dr. Leigh White and Dr. Ginger Nash-Wolfe.
UB/ND’s Dean, Dr. Guru Sandesh Singh Khalsa and Associate Deans Dr. Elizabeth Pimentel and Dr. Christina Arbogast Woolard have done a wonderful job getting this program up and running. After the lecture Dr. Arbogast gave us a tour of the teaching facility and the University Clinic, which was most impressive. I enjoyed meeting many of the students, administrators and faculty and was pleased to see that a generally positive, professional and pleasant tone permeated the facility. The UB Clinic sees a lot of economically disadvantaged families from the Greater Bridgeport area --many of whom would not normally be able to afford naturopathic health services on any sort of limited budget.
Dr. Arbogast and I talked about my doing some type of special shift in the Clinic, where students who were interested in my research could receive some in-depth training. I’m sure we’ll revisit this sometime in the future, but the idea of teaching in a clinical environment did seem very attractive to me, if indeed a new obligation would appear to be the last thing I need in my life right now.
They asked me to come back in April to finish up the lecture and perhaps delve into some of the epigenetics material as well. I was surprised to hear from the students just how many were already registered for the IFHI 2009 Conference.
How refreshing was this reception as compared to overall apathy and lack of acceptance I’ve received at Bastyr University, my own alma mater. One of undergraduates recently wrote to tell me that during one of the nutrition classes he attended, the instructor proceeded to describe my work with blood groups as ‘unscientific’ and followed that assertion with a description of the ABH Secretor System which my friend described as ‘not having one single correct fact .’
How different is this Bastyr University from the school I knew and loved.
Gerhard Uhlenbruck, everybody’s favorite lectinologist, recently wrote to let me know that he had penned the forward to a new book ‘Micronutrients’ by Uwe Grober (MedPharm) and kindly included a copy. Very nice book which I anticipate will get some thumbing-through over at the D'Adamo Clinic.
A recent review article on ‘Dietary Lectins as Disease Causing Toxicants’ written by Rabia Hamid and Akbar Mascod (Pakistani Journal of Nutrition 8 (3) 293-303, 2009) referenced three of my works in its citation list.
The second sentence in its abstract just about says it all:
It is now well established that many lectins are toxic, inflammatory, resistant to cooking and digestive enzymes and present in much of our food.
Maybe I’ll send a copy over to Andrew Weil.
NINE UNDENIABLE TRUTHS ABOUT THE BLOOD TYPE DIET
by John Ashby, M.D. -Philadelphia PA
1. The Blood Type Diet is a simple piece of organic truth that will someday revolutionize medical thought and practice.
2. Criticism of the Blood Type Diet is inversely proportional to knowledge of it.
3. Wisdom of the cells of the gut is greater than that of all the neurons in the frontal cortex.
4. It is the hidden desire of those who cheat, while on the Blood Type Diet, to have belly pain.
5. Food cravings are the path to an abyss of evil and destruction best avoided by urgent sweat busting exercise.
6. Vegetables are like sex. If you can't remember how long it has been since you have had any, you're not having enough.
7. Adhering to the weekly frequencies for consumption of recommended food groups is the hidden method of enhancing performance on the Blood Type Diet.
8. If producing large bowel movements were an Olympic event, most Blood Type Dieters would be gold medalists at every Olympiad.
9. Informing family and friends that one is one on the Blood Type Diet is similar to informing them that one has a serious sickness for which they hope there is a quick and easy cure.
Just the other day, Martha reconnected via email with an old friend of ours, John Weeks. I first met John back in the mid-1980's when he was the first Development Officer for Bastyr College. I got to know him much better while was serving with him on the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) Board of Directors.
John has gone on to carve out a career as the Editor/ Publisher of The Integrator Blog, a website devoted to "a health care system that is multidisciplinary and enhances competence, mutual respect and collaboration across all health care disciplines."
In emailing back and forth with Martha he directed us to a little blurb he had just published on the recent AANP Convention which had mentioned a long forgotten (although not by John) suggestion of mine about creating 'model states' as part of our drive to secure license in all 50 states.
That was interesting enough, but more jostled me out of my typical late morning indolence was a discussion elsewhere about the chronology and authorship of the phrase 'Integrative Medicine'.
In another move undoubtedly destined to make me even more popular with Andrew Weil (who is widely credited with it authorship) I wrote John a quick note that mentioned off-the-cuff that I had used the phrase long ago when I was part of a small committee responsible for formulating the first clinical curriculum at Bastyr College.
Well, after we conducted a see-saw email interview, John wrote a rather nice little blog about it.