Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Another anecdote about molybdenum and migraine

Around nine months ago, I told a friend about molybdenum helping some people with their migraines. She usually gets migraines two or three times in a year. Her migraine triggers seem to be worry, lack of sleep, and caffeine withdrawals. She came down with a migraine a couple of days ago and experienced relief from molybdenum as described below.

This was the first time she tried molybdenum for a migraine. The day before yesterday, she wanted to try it after coming home from work but couldn't find it (I'd given her a bottle of molybdenum months ago; it's only $7/bottle, so I give it to friends who want to try it--like I've said, I'm not getting a dime out of this molybdenum thing) and was too sick to look for it. She took a giant dose of ibuprofen instead. Then in the morning she took more ibuprofen, which dulled the migraine pain for her and made her feel weird; she said that even with the ibuprofen she could "tell the headache was still there" and "felt queasy." She remembered the molybdenum was in her bedside table and grabbed the bottle of it before leaving for work.

While at work, she asked how much she should take, and since she's not a heavy woman, I suggested based on other friends' reports, that she start with around 300 mcg and and then take a little more (up to 500 mcg) if the molybdenum seemed to be having an effect. Considering the tolerable upper limit for chronic molybdenum supplemenation is 2000 mcg/day, 500 mcg is a conservative amount; one could get the same amount of molybdenum by eating 3-5 bowls of lentils. Not that anyone in the USA would eat that many lentils in a day.... She did experience a benefit with a smaller dose and so eventually took a total of 500 mcg.

Before she took the molybdenum, she was experiencing "the aftermath of a headache -- sensitivity to light, aura-like peripheral vision, and queasy stomach." In response to the question of how taking molybdenum affected her, she said, "Gradually the symptoms went away. I had taken a large dose of ibuprofen, so my symptoms were dull and I didn't realize the exact moment that I felt better." She says in the past she usually had symptoms for a week, but this time she didn't. She said she would recommend it to someone else suffering from migraines.

So there's another molybdenum success story.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Back to school!

As happens when children go back to school, they share their germs. Most of the family is dealing with a cold right now. Lots of Vitamin C (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10543583) and rest.

It's almost a given that a "stomach bug" of some kind will start going around our school community within the next few months, and I know I'll feel guilty that almost no one knows molybdenum can help prevent the unpleasant nausea and vomiting that usually accompany gastrointestinal viruses. So I wrote up a short, relatively simple summary of why I think it helps. Here it is:


“Stomach bug” going around?
Molybdenum can help!

A typical part of a viral gastroenteritis infection is damage to the mucosa (lining) of the proximal small intestine (the part of the small intestine closest to the stomach).[1] Our bodies use hydrogen sulfide (H2S) while working to protect the gastric[2] and intestinal mucosa,[3] but the hydrogen sulfide must be broken down quickly because hydrogen sulfide can be toxic at higher levels. The final step of breaking down hydrogen sulfide is one in which sulfite (SO3) is converted to sulfate (SO4). Ingested “sulfites” are known to cause nausea and have other unpleasant effects on health; the FDA had to ban putting sulfiting agents on restaurant salad bars in the 1980s because many people were having to go to emergency rooms after eating sulfited food from salad bars.[4]
The enzyme our bodies use to transform sulfite to sulfate is called sulfite oxidase. It is one of five known enzymes in the human body that use the element molybdenum (element #42 on the periodic table). Molybdenum is an essential trace mineral in the human diet and is typically found at high levels in beans, liver, barley, and oats. Molybdenum bound to the amino acid glycine can also be purchased as a food supplement. By not being deficient in molybdenum, we can help our bodies break down excess sulfite before it makes us nauseated.

Author: CE Taylor (I'm not a medical doctor, just someone who noticed a connection between molybdenum-containing foods and lower levels of "morning sickness" and then whose sister tried molybdenum for a stomach bug and was surprised to find that it protected her from nausea and vomiting. Molybdenum is not a medicine; it is a trace element that already is found in the human diet.)



[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1089575 - Widerlite L, Trier JS, Blacklow NR, Schreiber DS. Structure of the gastric mucosa in acute infectious bacterial gastroenteritis. Gastroenterology. 1975 Mar;68(3):425-30.
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28346391 - Bronowicka-Adamska P, Wróbel M, Magierowski M, Magierowska K, Kwiecień S, Brzozowski T. Hydrogen sulphide production in healthy and ulcerated gastric mucosa of rats. Molecules. 2017 Mar 27;22(4). pii: E530. doi: 10.3390/molecules22040530.
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17241876/ - Wallace JL, Caliendo G, Santagada V, Cirino G, Fiorucci S. Gastrointestinal safety and anti-inflammatory effects of a hydrogen sulfide-releasing diclofenac derivative in the rat. Gastroenterology. 2007 Jan;132(1):261-71
[4] http://www.nytimes.com/1986/07/09/us/us-issues-ban-on-sulfites-use-in-certain-foods.html - Molotsky I. U.S. issues ban on sulfites’ use in certain foods. The New York Times. 1986 July 8.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mandela's quote is not good science

Many now are talking about a quote of Nelson Mandela's that was tweeted by Obama and has been retweeted more than any other tweet before. Here's the quote:

"No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion...People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love...For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite."

People don't actually have to "learn" racial bias. It develops naturally in infants as early as six months of age. (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170411130810.htm):

Two studies by researchers at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto and their collaborators from the US, UK, France and China, show that six- to nine-month-old infants demonstrate racial bias in favour of members of their own race and racial bias against those of other races.
In the first study, "Older but not younger infants associate own-race faces with happy music and other-race faces with sad music," published in Developmental Science, results showed that after six months of age, infants begin to associate own-race faces with happy music and other-race faces with sad music.
In the second study, "Infants rely more on gaze cues from own-race than other-race adults for learning under uncertainty," published in Child Development, researchers found that six- to eight-month-old infants were more inclined to learn information from an adult of his or her own race than from an adult of a different race.
(In both studies, infants less than six months of age were not found to show such biases).
***  
"When we consider why someone has a racial bias, we often think of negative experiences he or she may have had with other-race individuals. But, these findings suggest that a race-based bias emerges without experience with other-race individuals," said Dr. Naiqi (Gabriel) Xiao. 

Anyone who has ever observed a very small child freak out or inexplicably behave rudely to someone new who is from a different ethnicity or race knows that these findings reflect the truth. Anyone who has traveled the world has seen how racism exists in every group of people and seems to develop as naturally as greed. Does that mean we give up and just let everyone act on that racism? No, just like with greed, we need to teach people NOT to be racist and penalize and stigmatize those who let their racial bias lead them to engage in criminal and antisocial behavior. We also need to give them early exposure to caring, trustworthy people of many different ethnicities to help them develop warm feelings for all humanity from an early age.

I find Mandela's quote unfortunate because it places blame on humanity for something that grows without being taught. The focus should instead be on working to give young children positive interactions with people of all ethnicities and races to prevent racism from developing in the first place.

(I think the findings above help explain why I've never quite understood all the accusations of "racism" swirling through the air: A Mexican housekeeper crossed the border to take care of me daily when I was a toddler, and when I first started school, I had an African-American friend, violin teacher, and school teacher. People who cared for me, loved me, and taught me built my trust and affection for all people, and my parents supported that development.)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Learning about the CNMI

We learned about the CNMI these past two weeks. Unfortunately, there is very little available about the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Not too surprising, since its population is barely over 50,000, but still I was sad that almost all the video footage I could find was about the Second World War Battle of Saipan, which is grim viewing for children.

The CNMI is land belonging to the United States of America, but because it only has commonwealth status, it maintains a greater degree of flexibility in some of its laws. Because of its tropical location and proximity to Asia, it is a relatively popular tourist destination and is allowed to parole in (allow entry of non-US-visa holders) tourists from Russia and China for periods up to 45 days.

The food offerings there seem to be a mix of Spanish, Filipino, Chamorro, Russian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and other Asian cuisines. The most interesting geographical thing about the CNMI is its proximity to the Marianas Trench, the deepest part of the world's oceans. In 2009, President G.W. Bush issued a proclamation making 95,000 square miles of the trench and its surroundings a protected U.S. National Monument.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

New school year

It's time to head back to school. I'm a homeschooling parent who sends her children to school in the afternoons. It has turned out to be a wonderful way to make sure core academics are covered in a solid, personalized way for each of our children and also give our children the experience of classrooms, fellow students, parties, and non-core-academic instruction by subject specialists. Going for a partial day helps my children feel privileged to be at school rather than "trapped," and they love their school and teachers. Funnily enough, they still sometimes tell me that their favorite thing about school is recess. Kids will be kids.

This year I've been asked to teach part-time at their school, so my schedule flexibility just evaporated. Mornings will be roughly as they were, but field trips won't be happening. Sigh. I'll miss them. And just when my youngest got out of diapers, too.

I'll also miss having as much time to do research. It has been great fun researching along medical/nutrition/cuisine rabbit trails and occasionally finding some real treasures of answers. This isn't the field I studied. My degrees are in math and law. Problem solving and efficient researching are valuable skills that carry over to many other fields, and having learned about the way people eat in different parts of the world has helped me see interesting connections between regional cuisines, nutrition, and human health.

Let me review some of my favorite discoveries and how they affect my life:

  • Molybdenum(!) - Element #42 appears to help stop nausea/vomiting and migraines, especially if sulfiting agent-containing food and drink are avoided. Stomach bugs no longer take a week or two away from our lives when they visit our home, for powdered molybdenum glycinate has thus far proven itself very effective at ending nausea and vomiting. Even for the toddlers, so it's not just a placebo effect.
  • Nutritional support of the two homocysteine-to-methionine enzymatic pathways - We keep folic acid intake low since high intake of it appears to cause a pseudo-MTHFR defect, which negatively affects the availability of MTHFR for methionine synthase. We instead consume a lot of food/drink with naturally occurring folate. We also drink glycine betaine, which is needed by betaine-homocysteine S-methyltransferase, in our milk/juices to make up for the way the western diet tends to dispose of the easily absorbed glycine betaine in cooking water. Doing these things seems to ameliorate some negative Asperger's traits in our family.
  • Zinc - My husband didn't like me to cook much with onions before because of the embarrassment of the smelly gas it brought on afterward, but now that I know zinc binds with hydrogen sulfide--the most smelly element of flatulence--I put zinc in onion-containing dishes and he can handle the dishes. 
  • Catalase - Out of curiosity about which foods can best combat oxidative stress from hydrogen peroxide, we regularly test for catalase activity* in all kinds of raw fruits and vegetables now as a family. I hope my children ask me for science fair project ideas because I have a lot of hands-on research questions I would like to offload on them. :) I suspect that making sure my husband and I eat active peroxidases and catalases regularly will help delay a host of aging-related ills, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, cataracts, and diabetes. We two also started sipping some catalase mixed in water yesterday to see how it might affect us. I teased my husband as I handed him his glass that "this is the water Ponce de Leon was looking for." Will the catalase water reverse any obvious signs of aging? Who knows? We're both at the stage where we consistently get some gray hairs at our temples, and gray hair apparently is a result of oxidative stress, so it's the perfect time for us to see if we can stop our bodies from sliding down the oxidative stress slope that leads to excessive cell death. Catalase turns hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water, so I don't think we have to worry about side effects, but we'll stop our experiment if we experience any negative ones.
* That sounds fancy, but it just means putting thin slices of the produce in with 3% hydrogen peroxide from the store. Mini sweet peppers created a lovely pinkish-orange foam quite quickly, while cactus pear flesh was a rather nonreactive disappointment.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Oxidative stress, the pancreas, diabetes mellitus (type 2 diabetes), and proposed dietary helps

Time to make a couple suggestions, which partly grew out of considering the Navajo people, who now experience an extraordinarily high prevalence of type 2 diabetes on their reservation. (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/5233093/ns/health-diabetes/t/navajo-families-battle-diabetes-epidemic/#.WYIkx9RuIdU) The Navajo are closely related to the native Americans in the interior of Alaska, and it has been noted for some time that the traditional diet in the far northern parts of North America appears to protect against type 2 diabetes. (http://discovermagazine.com/2004/oct/inuit-paradox/, https://scholarworks.alaska.edu/handle/11122/3485)

Over in Hungary, researchers have made an interesting discovery about catalase (an enyzme in our bodies that breaks hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen): people who are genetically deficient in catalase develop type 2 diabetes more frequently and earlier. (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140673600032384, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25726767) Hydrogen peroxide is one of the reactive oxygen species that cause oxidative stress, and oxidative stress is currently being looked at as a possible cause of people developing type 2 diabetes. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1448694/) Hydrogen peroxide in excess can induce cell death, and it travels readily through the extracellular matrix because it is a small molecule with a neutral electrical charge. (http://www.cell.com/biophysj/abstract/S0006-3495(09)01228-4) What if excessive hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is inducing death of the beta cells in the pancreas and bringing on type 2 diabetes? Recently published findings show that this could be exactly what is occurring:

Title: Chemistry and biology of reactive species with special reference to the antioxidative defence status in pancreatic β-cells.
Author: Lenzen S
Publication: Biochim Biophys Acta. 2017 Aug;1861(8):1929-1942. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2017.05.013. Epub 2017 May 17.

Abstract
BACKGROUND:
Diabetes mellitus is a serious metabolic disease. Dysfunction and subsequent loss of the β-cells in the islets of Langerhans through apoptosis ultimately cause a life-threatening insulin deficiency. The underlying reason for the particular vulnerability of the β-cells is an extraordinary sensitivity to the toxicity of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (ROS and RNS) due to its low antioxidative defense status.
SCOPE REVIEW:
This review considers the different aspects of the chemistry and biology of the biologically most important reactive species and their chemico-biological interactions in the β-cell toxicity of proinflammatory cytokines in type 1 diabetes and of lipotoxicity in type 2 diabetes development.
MAJOR CONCLUSION:
The weak antioxidative defense equipment in the different subcellular organelles makes the β-cells particularly vulnerable and prone to mitochondrial, peroxisomal and ER stress. Looking upon the enzyme deficiencies which are responsible for the low antioxidative defense status of the pancreatic β-cells it is the lack of enzymatic capacity for H2O2 inactivation at all major subcellular sites.
GENERAL SIGNIFICANCE:
Diabetes is the most prevalent metabolic disorder with a steadily increasing incidence of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes worldwide. The weak protection of the pancreatic β-cells against oxidative stress is a major reason for their particular vulnerability. Thus, careful protection of the β-cells is required for prevention of the disease.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28527893

How do we protect the pancreas's beta cells from an excess of hydrogen peroxide? The pancreas is right in the middle of the abdomen, just under the stomach and flush against the duodenum. The duodenum is the first section of the small intestine and is the first location transited by food and digestive liquids after they leave the stomach.


It's been observed that visceral fat (fat around the internal organs of the abdomen) increases the risk of type 2 diabetes (http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/771168), and it turns out that fat cells increase oxidative stress (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23213032, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5507106/). So the low-hanging (but hard-to-pick) fruit in the quest to not develop type 2 diabetes is to not be fat. Easier said than done, I know, but that's no reason to give up on working toward needed weight loss.

Another thing that can be done is to supplement the body's natural ability to break down hydrogen peroxide with consumption of active catalase and peroxidases (another kind of enzyme that breaks down hydrogen peroxide).

Catalase is in many plants and animals and is found in bovine liver; in fact, bovine liver is the source from which catalase was first isolated from back in 1937. (http://science.sciencemag.org/content/85/2206/366) Guess who ate raw liver and other organ meats? Yes, the circumpolar people's traditional diet included raw and dried organ meat (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15776992), meaning they consumed active catalase regularly and possibly helped protect their pancreatic beta cells from excessive hydrogen peroxide. If this connection I've just drawn has any merit, it cries out for a real study, for catalase now can be easily purchased as an inexpensive supplement which is purported to survive the low pH of the stomach. (https://www.amazon.com/Catalase-500mg-Supplement-Antioxidant-Neutralize/dp/B01MU8OZN4) In general, I'm doubtful of claimed benefits from enzymatic and probiotic supplements because of absorption and inactivation issues, but for the narrow purpose of using catalase to protect the pancreas from hydrogen peroxide, catalase supplementation looks like a plausible prophylactic.

While writing my recently published hypothesis paper on horseradish and radish peroxidases (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306987717301238), I read a lot about vegetable and fruit peroxidases. The longer peroxidase enzymes sit in an acidic environment, such as that of the stomach, the more the peroxidase enzymes become denatured and ineffective at breaking down hydrogen peroxide. The speed at which they become inactive varies amongst plants, but green beans seem to have more persistently-active peroxidases than several other plants. (http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/28/1/48.full.pdf, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jsfa.2740360918/abstract) (Unfortunately, people usually cook green beans before eating them, although they taste fine raw.) Sometimes acid-denatured peroxidase enzymes can become regenerated to an extent after being removed from the acidic environment. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1991.tb07977.x/abstract) Happily for us, the duodenum pH is neutral or slightly alkaline, meaning that it might provide an environment in which acid-denatured peroxidases can become temporarily active again.

Image from Allegheny Nutrition: The Enzyme Specialists; http://www.alleganynutrition.com/index.php?Human%20body%20pic

Therefore, the active plant peroxidases we eat have a chance of being active to some extent in the duodenum where they can help break down hydrogen peroxide before it damages pancreatic beta cells. This possibility fits with the reported link between low intake of fruit and vegetables and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. (http://www.news-medical.net/news/20160629/Diet-rich-in-vegetables-and-fruit-may-decrease-type-2-diabetes-risk.aspx) So eat fresh--because many forms of preservation use heat and acids specifically to inactivate peroxidases--and reconstituted-after-being-dried fruits and vegetables to avoid developing type 2 diabetes.

The Navajo Nation did the right thing in in 2013 when it tried to remove sales tax on fresh produce, but unfortunately that legislative effort was vetoed. (https://www.abqjournal.com/369402/navajo-nation-should-reverse-health-act-veto.html) Last week I purchased food on the Navajo reservation, and they taxed my graham crackers and my tomatoes at the same rate. The health act veto was unfortunate and short-sighted, in my opinion, and is likely continuing to depress sales of fresh produce on the Navajo reservation; even my young children noticed how out-of-the-way the small produce section was in reservation grocery store compared to our huge, at-the-entrance produce sections of supermarkets in urban Colorado. The traditional Navajo diet included uncooked plants and dried meat--likely sometimes liver meat with high catalase content--and modern Navajos are not getting enough of these foods.

Take a lesson from Weird Al Yankovic, and love your pancreas to lessen your risk of type 2 diabetes.* Don't surround it with extra adipose tissue, and give it lots of help breaking down hydrogen peroxide by consuming catalase and peroxidases (especially ones that are resistant to denaturing by acidic environments).

"Pancreas" - Weird Al Yankovic (you'll thank me later)

* I know some who read this are going to think that I'm far too optimistic about the above suggestions making a difference in type 2 diabetes, but it's relatively uncontroversial that exercise (which leads to loss of abdominal fat--https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/abdominal-fat-and-what-to-do-about-it) and improving one's diet can "reverse" type 2 diabetes. (http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/type-2-diabetes-guide/reversing-type-2-diabetes#1) My Hispanic grandmother successfully put her type 2 diabetes in remission decades ago and ended up dying much later from dementia after decades of staying active and following the advice in Prevention magazines (of which she had a lot lying around her house). Don't be fatalistic. Diabetes mellitus is not a destiny you can do nothing about.