The term "Probiotic" means "in favor of life". It was coined in 1910, by a Russian physician named Metchnikoff, who promoted a theory of longevity which associated prolonged life and improved health with decreased gastrointestinal toxicity. He suggested that aging is a process mediated by chronic exposure to putrefactive intoxication caused by imbalances in intestinal bacteria and that this process could be halted by the routine ingestion of lactic acid bacteria and their "fermented" ("cultured") food products. Almost 90 years have passed since he introduced these radical ideas; however, in many respects his ideas have been proven to be true. Consumption of lactic acid bacteria, or food cultured or fermented with these friendly microorganisms does extend life in animal experiments and does dramatically reduce a wide range of intestinal metabolites, such as indoles, polyamines, cresols, nitrates/nitrites, and carcinogens which we now know are counterproductive to good health.
What are the health benefits of consuming friendly bacteria?
Friendly bacteria restore intestinal balance, which results in
*the prevention of adherence of unwanted microorganisms
*the production of a wide array of antibacterial and antifungal compounds
*improved resistance against bacteria like E.coli, Salmonella, and H. pylori
Friendly bacteria enhance immunity by
*promoting improved anti-viral immune system function
*increasing NK cell activity
* producing nitric oxide
*modulating cell mediated immune response
*activating the reticuloendothelial system
*promoting a more balanced production of cytokines
*promoting resistance against some autoimmune processes
*evoking anti-Tn antibodies
*decreasing IgE-mediated responses
*enhancing immune system response to administered vaccines
*mediating against radiation-induced depression in white blood cells
In many respects, friendly bacteria can be thought of as having "adaptogenic" effects on your immune system. They appear to modulate the nonspecific immune response differently in healthy and hypersensitive subjects. This is seen as an immuno-stimulatory effect in healthy subjects, and as a down-regulation of immuno-inflammatory responses in hypersensitive subjects.
Friendly Bacteria Promote Detoxification by
* inactivating and eliminating carcinogens
* decreasing mutagenic compounds
* decreasing activity of nitroreductase and azoreductase
* decreasing activity of B-Glucuronidase
* decreasing activity of B-Glucosidase
* decreasing activity of ornithine decarboxylase
* decreasing activity of tryptophanase
* decreasing activity of neuraminidase and mucinase
* decreasing levels of polyamines, cresols and indoles
* decreasing ammonia
* decreasing levels of nitrates and nitrites
* enhancing liver function and promoting elimination of bile acids
* enhancing cholesterol metabolism
Friendly bacteria promote healthy digestion by
* normalizing stool volume and regularity
* producing digestive enzymes that help digest proteins, carbohydrates, and fibers
* decreasing intestinal permeability
* decreasing food sensitivities
* decreasing lactose intolerance
* decreasing intestinal inflammation
Friendly bacteria enhance bioavailability of nutrients by
* alleviating symptoms of malabsorption
* increasing the absorption of zinc, calcium, iron, copper, manganese, and phosphorous
* increasing the production of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, A, K, folic acid, biotin, and tocopherols
Cultured Fruits, Vegetables, Spices, and other food substances contain
* vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals which promote good health
* high levels of vitamin K, tocopherols and vitamin B12
* powerful antioxidant activities
* anti-mutagenic properties
* excellent growth promoting substrates (e.g. act as prebiotics) for friendly bacteria
Cultured foods also allow for
* ease of digestion and improved bioavailability of nutrients
* increased bioavailability of compounds like isoflavones and bioflavonoids
* improved amino acid and protein efficiency ratios
* improved stability and retention of vitamin C levels
* augmentation of some of the metabolic benefits of these foods
* improvement of alcohol metabolism
* promotion of improved cardiovascular health
Why should Probiotics be taken consistently?
Even using strains of friendly bacteria that have a great ability to survive digestion and colonize your digestive tract, there is a tendency for a gradual decline in the quantity of these bacteria over time. This decline is substantially worsened with stress, poor dietary choices, antibiotics and other drugs. In today's world, with all of it's modern pressures, the ability to maintain an optimal intestinal microbial balance is almost always taxed. It has also actually been estimated that we consume 1 million times LESS healthy bacteria in our diet today than are ancient ancestors consumed.
Why do we combine so many strains of good bacteria?
It is simple really, friendly bacteria work better when more of them are combined together. There are actually hundreds of strains of bacteria in your digestive system and the friendly bacteria actually operate as a team, promoting the beneficial effects of each other. The term "Synergism" best describes the interrelationship of friendly bacteria. They mutually support each other by producing bacteriocidins and organic acids that they are resistant to, but which decrease pathogenic bacteria. In fact, these bacteriocidins are up to 1000X more active when combined then when they are isolated. But even more importantly, health effects of one strain of friendly bacteria are often not duplicated by other strains. So a more complex mixture, combining more friendly strains of bacteria, translates into more profound long-term health benefits.
What does blood type have to do with friendly bacteria?
There are two things actually.
First, your blood type antigens are actually prominent in your digestive tract and, in about 80% of individuals (secretors), are also prominent in the mucus that lines your digestive tract. Because of this, many of the bacteria in your digestive tract actually use your blood type as a preferred food supply. In fact, blood group specificity is common among intestinal bacteria with almost 1/2 of strains tested showing some blood type A, B, or O specificity. To give you an idea of the magnitude of the blood type influence on intestinal microflora, it has been estimated that someone with blood type B will have up to 50,000X more of some strains of friendly bacteria than either blood type A or O individuals.
Second, some strains of beneficial bacteria actually can have lectin-like hemagglutinin activity directed against your blood type.
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.
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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
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