Category: NAP Earlier Blogs
by Gregory Kelly
The recorded use of Fucus vesiculosus, also called "bladderwrack" or "sea wrack" dates back to at least the time period of the Eclectic Physicians of the 19th century. Historically these physicians used this seaweed for goiter (swelling of the tissue or cells of the thyroid) and for obesity. Published commentary by a turn of the century physician (Dr. J. Herbert Knapp) indicated that he had found this plant to be a specific remedy for both exophthalmic and uncomplicated goiter. In his experience bladderwrack worked best in individuals under age 30, a population for which he claimed a 100% success rate, and was less dependable for normalizing thyroid function in people beyond this age.
Fucus vesiculosus contains a wide spectrum of polysaccharides including fucoidans and fucans. In general, fucoidans are a family of high molecular weight sulfated polysaccharides, widely dispersed in the cell walls of brown seaweed. The core region (or backbone) of fucoidan is composed primarily of a repeating chain of fucose sugars. Fucose is also attached to this backbone, forming branch points at every 2-3 fucose residues within the chain. So, as you can readily deduce, bladderwrack is a rich food source of fucose.
Similar to most plants grown in the ocean, this plant is also very high in iodine and other trace minerals. While iodine is critical for proper health, like most other trace minerals, too much good can be no good. In other words more is not always better. So bladderwrack in an appropriate dose is safe to take long-term; however, you would not want to consume ridiculously large amounts of this plant for indefinate periods of time (even if you are an O).
Fucus vesiculosus and Blood Type O: Metabolic and Anti-adhesion Food
In ER4YT, Dr. D'Adamo mentions Fucus vesiculosus as being particularly beneficial for blood type O's. He states, in reference to blood type O individuals, that "bladderwrack seems to help normalize the sluggish metabolic rate and produce weight loss." He also alludes to its utility in helping to keep thyroid function normal in blood type O's, and discusses the potential usefulness of this plant for preventing the adherence of some unwanted microorganisms (H. pylori in his book's example) to the cells lining the digestive tract in blood type O's.
There is actually a good reason for his deference to this plant with regards to blood type O. As you might recall form ER4YT, blood type O is characterized by the presence of a terminal fucose sugar on its antigen. Things in nature (like lectins, bacteria, Candida, etc) with a preference for or a "sweet tooth" for fucose, will always have an affinity for and a greater impact on blood type O's. Since bladderwrack is such excellent food source of fucose and fucose containing sugar chains, it can actually bind many of the more problematic blood type O lectins, bacteria, and microorganisms.
One of the emerging fields of research with regards to microorganisms (and lectins) centers about an idea of adherence and anti-adherence. Basically, an unwanted organism can only produce a problem for you to the degree it can attach to or anchor itself to your cells. Lectin damage follows a similar pattern. Recognizing this simple concept of adhesion, you will readily recognize the usefulness of the concept of anti-adhesion, or blocking strategies. The question then becomes what foods might provide an anti-adhesion advantage for your blood type. One of the answers for blood type O is bladderwrack (Note: kelp also has a high amount of fucose sugars so is another answer). Basically, the fucose in bladderwrack can act as a false decoy, binding the unwanted blood type O environmental debris and sweeping it away before it can bind to or irritate the tissue.
Because A's, B's and AB's also usually contain some anchoring sites (but proportionately substantially less than an O) for fucose specific lectins and microorganisms, bladderwrack can also act as a form of anti-adhesion food for these blood types as well. However, they also have additional specific blocking sugars they can place at their disposal.
Fucus vesiculosus: Anti-adhesion Food with Anti-metastatic and Anti-tumor activity
We have already discussed the concept of adhesion and anti-adhesion, but you might not know that this is also an area of great interest in cancer research. In essence, cancer can only spread or metastasize if it can attach to a new target, so substances that can block its adhesion are more routinely being investigated. While this concept is difficult to grasp, I have repeatedly heard Dr. D'Adamo aptly describe this process in simple terms, "where cancer wants to stick, we want to make it slide". It should come as no surprise then that bladderwrack, because of its fucose content, is a potent inhibitor of tumor cell invasion, with modest anti-tumor activity. As such, consumption of bladderwrack might offer a potential health advantage, especially for blood type O's.
Fucus vesiculosus: Anti-microbial Activity
The fucoidan found in bladderwrack inhibits the growth of many unfriendly bacteria and viruses. Some of the viruses this compound is antagonistic to include herpes simplex virus, human cytomegalovirus, and human immunodeficiency virus. Bladderwrack has been found to agglutinate the cells of several strains of Candida. Bladderwrack also has a toxic effect on some strains of E. coli and all strains tested of Neisseria meningitidis.
Let's look at a few specific examples of bladderwrack research in the microbial world. The complex sugar structures and other compounds found in bladderwrack have anti-HIV activity. Some of the mechanisms of its activity fall back into the world of our new friend "anti-adhesion". Researchers have suggested that, since adhesion is the initial step in HIV infection, blocking adhesion might prevent HIV-1 transmission. In vitro evidence supports this suggestion with the complex fucose structures found in bladderwrack showing a capability to block HIV adhesion to cells. These same blocking strategies with fucose sugars have also been used in studies of malaria to prevent its spread to additional red blood cells. In essence these sugars inhibit invasion of your red blood cells by the malaria parasite. Dr. D'Adamo has written that Fucus vesiculosus is a specific for blocking attachment of H. pylori---an organism responsible for inducing ulcers and gastritis---in individuals with blood group O.
While no one is suggesting that bladderwrack should be thought of as a solution for HIV or other infectious diseases, one might ponder the question of how the shape of medicine might change if we could use blood type strategies to block HIV and other microorganism from attaching to your cells in the first place. Or, ponder the question of how could we employ blood type anti-adhesion strategies in support of conventional use of antibacerial and anti-microbial drugs. If you are a blood type O, the preliminary answer to these questions begins with pondering what health benefits might accrue with the consumption of this common edible seaweed.
Fucus vesiculosus: Immunomodulating Activity and Anti-inflammatory Activity
The fucose sugars in bladderwrack can beneficially impact immune system health by stimulating immunoreactions of the humoral and cellular types, and by enhancing the phagocytosis (or consumption of invaders) by your macrophages. These same complex fucose sugars also offer several advantages that counter the blood type O tendency to inflammation. Essentially they block the recruitment or inhibit an overly aggressive inflammatory immune response at sites of inflammation.
Fucus vesiculosus: Normalizing Metabolism and Thyroid Function
The historical uses of Fucus vesiculosus were primarily as an agent to enhance thyroid function in cases of goiter and as an aid in weight loss for obesity. This remains the primary use of this plant today in natural medicine.
Typically, the credit for its activity in thyroid conditions has been given to its high content of iodine; however, the high fucose content of this plant, because of its immune and inflammatory balancing effects, appears to be responsible for some of the observed benefits on optimizing thyroid function in blood type O's.
If you are a blood type O and plan on consuming bladderwrack as an aid to metabolism and thyroid health, this plant generally works very slowly. A minimum of 3 months is probably warranted, but in many instances best results are produced when bladderwrack is consumed regularly at a low dose for about 1 year.
* 1. Nishino T, Nishioka C, Ura H, Nagumo T. Isolation and partial characterization of a novel amino sugar-containing fucan sulfate from commercial Fucus vesiculosus fucoidan. Carbohydr Res 1994;255:213-224.
* 2. Patankar MS, Oehninger S, Barnett T, et al. A revised structure for fucoidan may explain some of its biological activities. J Biol Chem 1993;268:21770-21776.
* 3. Nishino T, Nishioka C, Ura H, Nagumo T. Isolation and partial characterization of a novel amino sugar-containing fucan sulfate from commercial Fucus vesiculosus fucoidan. Carbohydr Res 1994;255:213-224.
* 4. Wagner M, Wagner B. [Agglutinins in marine brown algae. Dedicated to Professor Dr. H. Knoll on his 65th birthday]. Z Allg Mikrobiol 1978;18:355-360. [Article in German]
* 5. Ferreiros CM, Criado MT. Purification and partial characterization of a Fucus Vesiculosus agglutinin. Rev Esp Fisiol 1983;39:51-59.
* 6. Rozkin MIa, Levina MN, Efimov VS, Usov AI. Comparative study of the anticoagulant activity of sulfated polysaccharides from marine brown algae. Farmakol Toksikol 1988;51:63-68. [Article in Russian]
* 7. Durig J, Bruhn T, Zurborn KH, et al. Anticoagulant fucoidan fractions from Fucus vesiculosus induce platelet activation in vitro. Thromb Res 1997;85:479-491.
* 8. Soeda S, Sakaguchi S, Shimeno H, Nagamatsu A. Fibrinolytic and anticoagulant activities of highly sulfated fucoidan. Biochem Pharmacol 1992;43:1853-1858.
* 9. Roberts DD, Ginsburg V. Sulfated glycolipids and cell adhesion. Arch Biochem Biophys 1988;267:405-415.
* 10. Soeda S, Ishida S, Shimeno H, Nagamatsu A. Inhibitory effect of oversulfated fucoidan on invasion through reconstituted basement membrane by murine Lewis lung carcinoma. Jpn J Cancer Res 1994;85:1144-1150.
* 11. Zhuang C, Itoh H, Mizuno T, Ito H. Antitumor active fucoidan from the brown seaweed, umitoranoo (Sargassum thunbergii). Biosci Biotechnol Biochem 1995;59:563-567.
* 12. Zapopozhets TS, Besednova NN, Loenko IuN. Antibacterial and immunomodulating activity of fucoidan. Antibiot Khimioter 1995;40:9-13. [Article in Russian]
* 13. Baba M, Snoeck R, Pauwels R, de Clercq E. Sulfated polysaccharides are potent and selective inhibitors of various enveloped viruses, including herpes simplex virus, cytomegalovirus, vesicular stomatitis virus, and human immunodeficiency virus. Antimicrob Agents Chemother 1988;32:1742-1745.
* 14. Criado MT, Ferreiros CM. Selective interaction of a Fucus vesiculosus lectin-like mucopolysaccharide with several Candida species. Ann Microbiol (Paris) 1983;134A:149-154.
* 15. Criado MT, Ferreiros CM. Toxicity of an algal mucopolysaccharide for Escherichia coli and Neisseria meningitidis strains. Rev Esp Fisiol 1984;40:227-230.
* 16. Zapopozhets TS, Besednova NN, Loenko IuN. Antibacterial and immunomodulating activity of fucoidan. Antibiot Khimioter 1995;40:9-13. [Article in Russian]
* 17. Itoh H, Noda H, Amano H, et al. Antitumor activity and immunological properties of marine algal polysaccharides, especially fucoidan, prepared from Sargassum thunbergii of Phaeophyceae. Anticancer Res 1993;13:2045-2052.
* 18. Teixeira MM, Hellewell PG. The effect of the selectin binding polysaccharide fucoidin on eosinophil recruitment in vivo. Br J Pharmacol 1997;120:1059-1066.
* 19. Patankar MS, Oehninger S, Barnett T, et al. A revised structure for fucoidan may explain some of its biological activities. J Biol Chem 1993;268:21770-21776.
* 20. Hajela K, Kayestha R, Sumati. Carbohydrate induced modulation of cell membrane. IV: Interaction with mucin and fucoidan totally immobilizes the human platelet membrane. Indian J Biochem Biophys 1996;33:308-310.
* 21. Lynch G, Low L, Li S, et al. Sulfated polyanions prevent HIV infection of lymphocytes by disruption of the CD4-gp120 interaction, but do not inhibit monocyte infection. J Leukoc Biol 1994;56:266-272.
* 22. Beress A, Wassermann O, Tahhan S, et al. A new procedure for the isolation of anti-HIV compounds (polysaccharides and polyphenols) from the marine alga Fucus vesiculosus. J Nat Prod 1993;56:478-488. [published erratum appears in J Nat Prod 1996 May;59(5):552]
* 23. Pearce-Pratt R, Phillips DM. Sulfated polysaccharides inhibit lymphocyte-to-epithelial transmission of human immunodeficiency virus-1. Biol Reprod 1996;54:173-182.
* 24. Zaretzky FR, Pearce-Pratt R, Phillips DM Sulfated polyanions block Chlamydia trachomatis infection of cervix-derived human epithelia. Infect Immun 1995;63:3520-3526.
* 25. D'Adamo P. Eat Right 4 Your Type. Putnam: 1997.
* 26. Boren T, Falk P, Roth KA, et al. Attachment of Helicobacter pylori to human gastric epithelium mediated by blood group antigens. Science 1993;262:1892-1895.
* 27. Stromqvist M, Falk P, Bergstrom S, et al. Human milk kappa-casein and inhibition of Helicobacter pylori adhesion to human gastric mucosa. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 1995;21:288-296.
* 28. Magner JA, Kane J, Chou ET. Intravenous thyrotropin (TSH)-releasing hormone releases human TSH that is structurally different from basal TSH. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1992;74:1306-1311.
* 29. Overton K, Serif GS. Synthesis of L-fucose in thyroid tissue. Biochim Biophys Acta 1981;675:281-284.
* 30. Hotta T, Ishii I, Ishihara H, et al. Comparative study of the oligosaccharides of human thyroglobulins obtained from normal subjects and patients with various diseases. J Appl Biochem 1985;7:98-103.
* 31. Rowe A, Berendt AR, Marsh K, Newbold CI. Plasmodium falciparum: a family of sulphated glycoconjugates disrupts erythrocyte rosettes. Exp Parasitol 1994;79:506-516.
* 32. Clark DL, Su S, Davidson EA. Saccharide anions as inhibitors of the malaria parasite. Glycoconj J 1997;14:473-479.
* 33. Granert C, Raud J, Xie X, et al. Inhibition of leukocyte rolling with polysaccharide fucoidin prevents pleocytosis in experimental meningitis in the rabbit. J Clin Invest 1994;93:929-936.
* 34. Angstwurm K, Weber JR, Segert A, et al. Fucoidin, a polysaccharide inhibiting leukocyte rolling, attenuates inflammatory responses in experimental pneumococcal meningitis in rats. Neurosci Lett 1995;191:1-4.
by Gregory Kelly
Eat Right 4 Your Type brought attention to dietary lectins; however, the primary emphasis of the book was on negative effects of lectins, with a recommendation, in general, for their avoidance. But in the Seinfeldian world we live in, where sometimes good is bad, and bad can be good, itshould come as no surprise that some lectins actually have beneficial activities under specific circumstances. In fact, some lectins or lectin containing substances have been used in medicine (traditional and conventional) for a variety of purposes, but primarily for their impact on the immune system. One of the largest uses of lectins by medical research is to convince certain immune cells to proliferate (a process called mitosis). It should be obvious that under some circumstances, this could be a huge health advantage. The other large use of lectins is as a probe or tool to identify cancer cells. This is the area where the Helix pomatia snail overlaps the gray area between food and medicine. Coincidentally, snail has a historic reputation as an anti-cancer food. So, lets look for a moment at what the research shows. This will be a bit technical, but I will use a metaphor at the end to attempt to illustrate the utility of this food.
Surface glycosylation (the expression of the glycoprotein (sugar/amino-sugar) antennae that project off of healthy cells such as the ABO antigens, or blood group MN antigens), which in normal cells is very precisely controlled, in cancer cells is often defective. This results in the elaboration of tremendous amounts of incomplete or altered glycoproteins, many of which (including tumor markers like CA-125, CA15-3, CA 19-9, T, and Tn) have clinical and diagnostic relevance. Before we get lost in terms like "surface glycosylation" or "glycoproteins", let's make sure we put this into a framework of something with which you might be a bit more familiar. In fact, in a sense you probably already are very intimately familiar with real world examples of these terms. "Surface glycosylation" simply means the fine architecture of antigenic structures that project off of your cells. The most readily recognized example of a "surface glycosylation" product is your blood type. "Glycoprotein", in a simple sense, means a molecule or chain made of protein-sugar (or amino sugar) and sugars. Again, your blood type antigen (A, B, O, or AB marker) is a real world example of a glycoprotein. So in effect, your blood type is an example of one "surface glycosylation" product and it is built from "glycoproteins".
Nature employs these specialized glycoprotein chains to create structures that act as carriers of biological information. The few monosaccharides (or simple sugars like galactose, mannose, fucose, etc.) and amino sugars (like glucosamine, N-acetylgalactosamine (terminal sugar on the A antigen), etc.) act almost like letters in an alphabet. Different combinations and lengths act to create a vocabulary of biological information. This biological information is then built onto the surface of your cells with things like your blood type. In effect this creates our cell's vocabulary and allows our cell's to communicate and interact with their environment.
On a healthy cell ABO antigens are clearly visible, but in diseased cells (like cancer cells), ABO antigens often disappear. Since your body has a disinclination to attack cells with your blood type marker, this disappearance of ABO antigens in cancer is a good strategy. So, the concept to understand is that cancer cells differ radically from their parental
healthy cells in the fine architecture of their "cell surfaces". Again if we thought in simple terms, a healthy cell looks like a well maintained yard (bushes and trees). A cancerous cell would look like a field overgrown with grass after all of the bushes and trees have been cut down to barely visible stumps. This basically results from a cancer cell being unable to
completely assemble a normal, healthy cell membrane structure like a blood type ABO antigen. In an ideal world, your immune system would be naturally predisposed to fight against cells with these incomplete or abnormal structures (just as it would against an invading virus).
Getting more technical again, in 1987 and 1991 Brooks and co-workers1, 2 reported that it is possible to predict lymph node involvement in women with breast cancer by the detection of altered surface glycosylation. Their 1991 study was performed on sections of 373 primary breast cancers, in a 24-year retrospective study. They found that the lectin, found in Helix pomatia, is extremely specific for attaching to or identifying cells with these improperly assembled (compared with a healthy cell) glycoproteins. So in effect, the less like a well-groomed yard, and the more like an overgrown field of grass a cell looks like, the more readily it can be identified by the lectin in Helix pomatia.
It appears that as breast cells become malignant and more prone to metastasis, their surface glycosylation products alter in a predictable manner, resulting in elaboration of markers characterized by the presence of a terminal sugar which can make the cell appear very A-like to your immune system.3 This can make the cell much more difficult for the immune system to recognize, especially for blood types A and AB. The key then is to capitalize somehow on these differences between healthy and cancerous. The lectin in Helix pomatia is one way to capitalize on these differences and interestingly, it would appear that the lectin in Helix pomatia becomes even more active as cell becomes more prone to metastasis.
Let's put this into a metaphorical picture to wrap up our discussion. Because cancer cells need to escape detection by your immune system in order to spread through your lymphatic system to distant parts of your body, anything that can be done to make cancer cells more visible to your immune system offers a potential advantage. Looking at this process in terms of a very generalized metaphor from Star Trek (I apologize to the non-Trekkies out their but this is a great visual example), cancer cells would be like a Klingon vessel trying to pass through federation space without being detected by the Enterprise or other federation starships. In the original series, the Klingon Empire, through their ingenuity, created a "cloaking device" which allowed them just such a means of escaping detection. In a sense, these altered glycosylation products on cancer cells may act very similar to the "cloaking device", allowing the cancer cells to travel through your space frontier (lymphatic system) without detection by your starships (your immune system). Continuing with this metaphor, in order to defeat the "cloaking device", crewmembers from the enterprise beamed aboard the Klingon vessel and stole the device, making the Klingon vessel now visible to their sensors. The lectin in Helix pomatia through its ability to recognize the altered glycosylation products on metastatic cells, appears to act in a similar way, turning off the cancer cells "cloaking device" and allowing it to be more visible to your immune system. As such, this food looks to be a good food to include in the diet, especially for A's and AB's.
1. Brooks SA. Lancet May 9, 1987: 1054-56
2. Brooks SA and Leathem AJC. Lancet, 8759, 338 (1991): 71-74
3. Springer G. J. Nat. Cancer Inst. 54,2 (1975):335-39
4. Schumacher DU. et al. Eur. J. Surgical Oncology; 22(6) 1996:618-620
by Gregory Kelly
What are allergies? Well, in a simplified sense, an allergic reaction is an adverse or inappropriately amplified immune system response to something that many other people find harmless. The most common manner this response expresses itself is with headaches, fatigue, sneezing, watery eyes, and congestion.
A useful way to think of allergies is by way of a metaphor of "total load". What do I mean by "total load"? Well, in a simple sense, we are all like camels. We can carry a certain burden without our backs giving way and collapsing. Thinking in these terms is often quite useful in terms of dealing with seasonal allergies. What are the burdens we carry? Well, they include shared burdens like environmental pollution and toxins. They might also include individual burdens like poor diet, stressful relationships or jobs, lack of sleep, over or under exercise, or our current health status. What happens if the total load we are supporting is well below our ability to endure and we add some seasonal pollen onto the camel's back? Actually not too much happens. The camel keeps on going along on its merry way, still able to continue effortlessly since its burden is within its capability of enduring. But on the other hand, what happens when we are already carrying a load that puts us close to our limits and we add some seasonal pollen onto our camel's back? That's right; it collapses.
While physiologically allergies are quite complex, from a real world perspective the model above is actually quite useful in dealing with this challenge. Did you know that many allergy sufferers notice significant and sustained improvement in symptoms when they switch to the appropriate blood type diet? This is because they have, in effect, removed a great deal of the burden they were carrying. With the removal of this burden, they are now able to support the added weight the environment adds much more readily. So, step one is to be extra careful about the foods you eat during allergy season.
I mentioned that diet plays an important role in allergies. Some researchers have indicated that as much as 55% of your immune system is actually located in your digestive system. All of the same types of factors that impact respiratory allergies like IgE, mast cell degranulation, cytokine imbalances, histamine release, and prostaglandin imbalances (its okay if you don't know what these terms mean) can be acted out in the digestive system. One of the simplest and most profound manners to moderate against these imbalances is consistent exposure to a range of probiotic bacteria (either in supplements or cultured/fermented foods). These types of friendly bacteria (including Lactobaccilus sp. and Bifidus sp.) tend to make the immune system in the digestive tract respond in a much more balanced and appropriate manner. Similarly foods that promote the growth of these bacteria (as appropriate for your blood type) like cumin, larch arabinogalactan, green tea, dandelion root, and ginger, to name a few, are useful additions to the diet.
A second strategy for immune balancing is to add some stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) leaf into your diet as a tea or as a nutritional supplement. This herb tends to promote a more balanced immune system so can often be quite helpful.
Another tea that is both a wonderful addition to the diet and quite useful is "rose hips". In our practice we advise our clients to have a container of the solid extract of rose hips on hand. At the first sign of allergies we advise taking a teaspoon of this food concentrate. They can continue to take a teaspoon of the rose hips every 30 minutes or as needed. Since the solid extract is virtually impossible to locate, drinking a nice strong tea made from rose hips several times daily is an adequate replacement.
The last tea worth mentioning is green tea. Many of my patients have reported substantial benefits from consuming green tea; however, not all green teas are created equal, and most do not seem to exert any influence on allergic symptoms. In practice we have actually only found two brands to date that have produced satisfactory results. One of these is by a company called Scientific Botanicals; however, it is only sold to the professional market. Dr. D'Adamo has made the other green tea brand (the one he uses in his office) available through NAP. When you make green tea it is important to use hot but not boiling water. It is also important to only steep the leaves for about 30-45 seconds. This should result in a deep lime-green colored tea. For best results, use those two simple guidelines and then enjoy several cups per day.
A last "hygienic" note to mention is to get an old-style soap with olive oil or other natural oils as the base. Run your fingernails through the soap twice daily, and then rinse the soap away. Most of the pollen and bacterial debris on the fingers actually accumulates under the nails. Touching any mucus membrane with your fingers can then increase your environmental burden substantially, resulting in....you guessed it, worsening of allergies. This simple technique can substantially reduce the accumulation of this type of debris. (These old-style natural oil based soaps are high in saponins so seem to work while the brand name soaps do not work well in my experience).
It is important to always seek to remove some of the burden from the camel's back. It is also important to make the camel stronger. While most of these suggestions actually do contribute in both of these areas, additional factors that make the camel stronger can generally be addressed by many natural medicine practitioners (most Naturopaths are experts in this area). Make the commitment to begin strengthening your camel today.
by Gregory Kelly
Ear infections (otitis media) are a childhood medical problem accounting for almost 50% of all pediatric medical visits. It has been estimated that about two-thirds of the infants in the U.S. will have an ear infection prior to age two.
The most well recognized risk factors for ear infections include: · day care attendance · wood-burning stoves · parental smoking and/or exposure to second hand smoke · food allergies · formula feeding (as opposed to breast-feeding)
The Blood Type Connection
An often-unrecognized risk factor is blood type. While any blood type can have an ear infection (or recurrent ear infections), blood type A children (or even children who have a blood type A mother) are much more routinely affected. In general, type A children have about a 50% higher rate of infection. This appears to be a case of adhesion/anti-adhesion factors predisposing blood type A to far greater ease of bacterial attachment. Certain strains of bacteria most likely to cause ear infections have very strong preferences to anchor to the blood type A antigen (N-acetylgalactosamine), hence creating a strong predisposition to infection.
In addition to this likelihood of infection, blood type A children are the most susceptible to more severe and repeated bouts of ear infections. In fact, blood type A has such a strong tie to severity of ear infections that just knowing the mother's blood type allows for an ability to predict the child's relative risk for having an ear infection requiring treatment. If you are a mother with blood type A, your child has a 282 percent increase in risk of developing an ear infection requiring medical treatment. While this increase in risk is dramatic, it pales in comparison with what occurs if your child has an ear infection prior to his/her first birthday. The combination of being a child with a blood type A mother and having an ear infection prior to your first birthday increases your relative risk of having recurrent ear infections by 2677 percent.
The Standard Approach
The first step of the standard medical approach to deal with ear infections is administration of antibiotics. These are sometimes accompanied by pain-killing medicines (like aspirin or Tylenol) and antihistamines. If an infant continues to have problems with ear infections, surgery to promote normal drainage of fluid from the ear into the throat is often recommended.
Although these treatments are the standard of care within medicine, several studies have indicated that these interventions might not be any more effective than doing absolutely nothing. In fact, when it comes to antibiotic treatment, in 1997 an article in the prestigious British Medical Journal stated the following:
"We conclude that the benefits of routine antimicrobial use for otitis media, judged by either short-term or long-term outcomes, is unproven." And; "We conclude that existing research offers no compelling evidence that children with acute otitis media routinely given antimicrobials have a shorter duration of symptoms, fewer recurrences, or better long-term outcomes than those who do not receive them."
Certainly an underwhelming statement about the most likely intervention most children encounter. To make matters worse, not only is the evidence demonstrating any benefit to this approach weak (or non-existent), some evidence actually suggests that children receiving antibiotics might have a higher probability of having future ear infections.
The Blood Type Approach
The best approach to any problem is to attempt to prevent it rather than to try and manage its consequences. This is the case with ear infections. For mothers with blood type A, or mothers with a blood type A infant, this information is particularly important and should be put to use in an attempt to reduce your child's risk for ear infections.
For mothers, this means you should take measures to ensure you are healthy prior to giving birth. The current prenatal advice provided by the medical establishment is quite rational as a foundation. These recommendations include following a healthy diet (though there is wide spread disagreement as to what a healthy diet might actually entail), supplementing with appropriate nutrients, and abstaining from cigarette smoking and alcohol intake.
The single biggest factor to consider is the decision to breast-feed. Breast-feeding for a minimum of 4 months has shown a protective effect. Conversely, formula feeding is associated with a greater risk for ear infections. Under all circumstances, bottle feeding while your child is lying on his/her back should be avoided, since this will greatly increase the likelihood of regurgitation of the bottle's contents into the middle ear.
The foods with the strongest association to ear infections are cow's milk, wheat, egg whites, peanuts, soy, corn, tomato, chicken, and apples. The appropriate blood type diet for the mother is of importance, with particular emphasis placed on avoiding the above foods that are challenging for your blood type. Similarly, when introducing solid foods to your infant, begin with easy to digest fruits and vegetables from those that are "highly beneficial" for your infant. Emphasize the avoidance of the foods listed above (if they are an "avoid" for the child's blood type), and delay the introduction of grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds until the infant's digestive tract has developed stronger barrier mechanisms (at least 3 months but preferably 6-9 months).
Lifestyle factors such as eliminating exposure by a child to cigarette smoke, and limiting or eliminating the mother's intake of alcohol when pregnant should also be considered as critical.
There are also several additional factors to consider. Frequent exposure to friendly probiotic bacteria by both the mother and the infant is a critical aspect of resistance and immune system health. This exposure might come in the form of foods such as cultured dairy products (like yogurt or kefir) and/or cultured soy products (such as miso and tempeh). An easy method to increase the exposure to these forms of cultured foods is to utilize the appropriate blood type specific probiotic product. These are encapsulated beneficial foods cultured with 10 strains of friendly probiotic bacteria. Bifidobacteria are possibly the type of friendly bacteria of greatest importance to the infant digestive tract, so if you are utilizing some other form of probiotic, it might be prudent to ensure that Bifidobacteria are included.
Dr. D'Adamo is also quite fond of larch arabinogalactan as a dietary supplement for infants. This fiber acts to preferentially promote the growth of Bifidobacteria and acts to promote a balanced and healthy immune system. Since it dissolves readily in juice or water, and since it can be easily mixed into foods, it is (unlike many supplements) relatively easy to give to children.
If your child develops an acute ear infection, medical advice is advisable. Although, about 80% of acute ear infections will respond to placebo and resolve within 48 hours irrespective of treatment, it is best to have your child monitored by a physician to ensure no complicating factors exist.
Steuer MK, Hofstadter F, Probster L, et al. Are ABH antigenic determinants on human outer ear canal epithelium responsible for Pseudomonas aeruginosa infections? ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec 1995;57:148-152
Mortensen EH, Lildholdt T, Gammelgard NP, Christensen PH. Distribution of ABO blood groups in secretory otitis media and cholesteatoma. Clin Otolaryngol 1983;8:263-265
Gannon MM, Jagger C, Haggard MP. Maternal blood group in otitis media with effusion. Clin Otolaryngol 1994;19:327-331
Froom J, et al. Antimicrobials for acute otitis media? A review from the International Primary Care Network. Br Med J 1997;315:98-102
Search I My Account I
Copyright© 2001-2005, %%catname%%. The statements on this web site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA.) The products mentioned herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. For medical advice, always consult your health care professional.
Metal + Oxygen = Rust
Have you ever seen rust? Have you been around the ocean or on a boat and observed what occurs to brass when it is exposed to the elements? These are visible examples of processes that are occurring in your body all of the time. We depend on oxygen for our survival, so thankfully we live in an oxygen-rich environment. But oxygen is a powerful molecule, capable of reacting with other molecules. Rust is a great visual example of oxidative damage that occurs as a result of an oxygen-metal reaction.
Oxygen is also a powerful reactant inside your body. While it is essential for health, it is also capable of disrupting cellular function and impairing efforts towards health by generating excessive amounts of oxygen radicals resulting in oxidative damage. Under ideal circumstances, your body would regulate the impact of oxygen; ensuring you receive maximum benefits without generating excessive amounts of unregulated oxygen free radicals.
Ultimately health has a great deal to do with balance. One of these points of balance is the relative activity of free radicals and antioxidants.
Free-Radicals and Antioxidants
Free radicals are highly reactive molecules. Because of their electron configuration (they are missing at least one electron), these molecules are unstable, and in effect, are in search of other substances from which they can literally steal an electron. Before you jump to the wrong conclusions and assume free radicals are bad (they are not necessarily) it is important to realize that your body actually depends of free radicals for some of its critical activities. As mentioned, it is more a question of balance and your body has many redundant methods for establishing an appropriate balance of free radical activity. Substances that fuel your body's capability of keeping free radical activity in check are called antioxidants.
A key element of health is the relative balance in your free radical (attacking forces) activity and your antioxidant (defending forces) capability. When these forces become unbalanced and free radical troops outnumber your antioxidant forces, health invariably suffers. Currently over 100 conditions have been identified that have associations with excessive free radical activity. In effect, the chronic and cumulative assault by excessive free radical troops, when antioxidant defenses are sub-optimal leads to degeneration and dysfunction. Some of the degenerative conditions associated with oxidative damage by free radicals include cancer, arteriosclerosis, viral infections, autoimmune disorders, lung disease, and neurological diseases. Even aging and death have been associated with the oxidative damage resulting from unchecked and cumulative over exposure to free radicals.
Antioxidant Defense Measures
Antioxidants are enzymes or substances that are capable of inhibiting the oxidation of target molecules. In other words, they act as an anti-rust mechanism. In general, antioxidants are divided into two categories: 1) those that have activity in water (like vitamin C), and 2) those that have activity in fat (like vitamin E and beta-carotene). Lipoic acid is an unusual nutrient because it has both water- and fat-soluble activity.
While this list is not intended to be all inclusive, some of the most well known substances with antioxidant activities include:
* Vitamins: C, E, and Beta-Carotene
* Minerals: Zinc, Selenium, Copper, and Manganese (these function as cofactors in antioxidant enzymes)
* Accessory Nutrients: CoQ10 and Lipoic Acid
* Herbs: Ginkgo biloba, Milk Thistle, Ginger, and Turmeric
* Foods: Blueberries, Cherries, and Yellow/Orange Vegetables.
* Beverages: Green Tea, Red Wine, and Coffee (depending upon brewing methods).
A good rule of thumb is that the more color a fruit, vegetable, or spice contains, the more likely it will have higher antioxidant activity. This is because the compounds that give color to fruits and vegetables (flavonoid and carotenoid compounds primarily) are excellent antioxidants.
A second important point is that culturing food with probiotic bacteria invariably increases and stabilizes its antioxidant activity. Because of this a food like miso would have greater antioxidant potential than would soybeans. Similarly culturing a fruit or vegetable acts to increase its antioxidant potential. This was part of the rationale for the design of the Probiotic products (consisting of selected cultured fruits, vegetables, and spices), and is an important extra benefit derived from the bio-grown, food-cultured nutrients utilized in the A, AB, and O Multiples.
A last important point is that antioxidants work synergistically. This means that if you double the amount of something like vitamin C you might not get double the antioxidant activity. In fact you might actually now run the risk of throwing something out of balance. It is important to understand that most antioxidants can themselves be prooxidant (or capable of generating oxidative damage) if they are not recycled or rejuvenated. It is a bit like taking trash to a Dumpster. If you just keep dumping trash, you run the risk of overflowing the Dumpster. However, if you recycle what can be recycled and ensure the dumpsters are emptied appropriately, your ability to handle the garbage you generate is substantially higher and incredibly more efficient.
The recycling of these antioxidant substances depends on other antioxidant substance. So rather than doubling the amount of vitamin C, if you add some vitamin E, blueberries, green tea, etc, you will have a much higher degree of antioxidant activity and you will be creating a better antioxidant recycling system. As an example of this synergy, research has shown that the combination of green tea and turmeric offer 8.5X the antioxidant activity when combined as compared to when they are used individually. Because of this inherent synergy of antioxidants, it is essential to consume a diet rich in antioxidant fruits, vegetables, and cultured foods. It also makes more sense to then appropriately supplement with levels of the other antioxidant compounds to round out a good diet, rather than simply taking high amounts of one to several of these antioxidant compounds.
Factors Influencing Antioxidant Defenses
Your ability to respond to free radical assault is determined by many factors. Age, genetic background, medical history, degree of exposure to pollution, cigarette smoking, level of stress, and diet are among the most important of these factors. Even a beneficial lifestyle habit like exercise can influence your need for increased antioxidant defenses. Exercise tends to generate free radicals and so an increase in activity level mandates closer attention to the balance of your antioxidant defenses.
Monitoring the Balance between Free Radical Forces and Antioxidant Troops
While a variety of lab tests can provide an indication of the relative balance between these opposing forces, the simplest and most cost-effective test currently available utilizes a urine sample. By placing several drops of urine in a specially designed ampoule and watching the change (if any) of color, you can receive a rapid estimate of the balance between these forces.
This test can be run as often as desired and is a great tool to assist you in determining the effectiveness of your diet, lifestyle, and supplementation choices at maintaining an adequate balance between free radical attack and antioxidant defenses.
Note: Blood type specific suggestions for improving your antioxidant defense mechanisms (as well as lessening the free radical attack) are provided within the test kit.