Tuesday, February 27, 2018

TET2 and vampires

I have many new ideas swirling around in my head these days--and making it so I have too many browser tabs open--because I've been trying to keep my blog focused on molybdenum recently in case some gastroenteritis researchers (I emailed hundreds of them in the past couple months) come across my blog during an internet search. Here's one of the new ideas, a result--as is often the case--of something thought-provoking posted by Glenn Reynolds at his Instapundit blog.

For some time, researchers have noted that if they take blood from young mice and put it in old mice, the old mice are rejuvenated. That led to many a joke about vampires on the Instapundit blog. Then a couple days ago, Reynolds posted a link to an article saying the young mouse blood increases the levels of the enzyme Tet2, which promotes rejuvenation. (https://www.sciencealert.com/mice-hippocampus-enzyme-discovery-anti-aging-therapy; http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(18)30156-6) So I went hunting for something that can increase Tet2 expression, and found that hydrogen sulfide (H2S) can promote its expression. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4731232/) And what can increase levels of H2S in the body? Garlic! (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28609097)

If garlic consumption can help rejuvenate old bodies, then we should be able to see some sort of correlation between countries with high garlic consumption and longevity. One such piece of evidence has been apparent for some time: the life-extending effect of a "Mediterranean diet." (https://www.livescience.com/19868-centenarians-longevity-mediterranean-diet.html) People living around the Mediterranean Sea use a lot of garlic in their cooking. But the all-time highest consumers of garlic appear to be the South Koreans, who eat as much as 8-12 cloves per day. (https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/15/unlocking-the-benefits-of-garlic/) South Korea, interestingly enough, is forecast to lead the world in life expectancy for women:
There is a 90% probability that life expectancy at birth among South Korean women in 2030 will be higher than 86·7 years, the same as the highest worldwide life expectancy in 2012, and a 57% probability that it will be higher than 90 years. Projected female life expectancy in South Korea is followed by those in France, Spain, and Japan.

http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)32381-9/fulltext

Not bad for a country that was mostly dependent on foreign aid into the 1970s. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_on_the_Han_River)

I think it's safe to say, at least on a population-wide basis, that eating large amounts of garlic can help rejuvenate our bodies without the necessity of turning to vampirism. That's amusing and ironic in light of the traditions about garlic supposedly being able to repel vampires. (http://www.garlic-central.com/vampires.html)

Friday, February 23, 2018

Garlic and H2S

As I've often discussed here on my blog and outlined in my published hypothesis about sulfite, "morning sickness," and molybdenum, I think that increased hydrogen sulfide (H2S) usage in the body leads to excessive sulfite levels during pregnancy, and the sulfite excess then causes nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP).

Today while researching a different topic, I came across an article talking about how the organosulfur compounds in garlic are H2S donors. (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278691516302368) I think I finally know why I couldn't stand the smell of garlic during early pregnancy! We often tend to avoid --the scientific term for it is "conditioned taste aversion"-- things that have made us throw up in the past. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1985.tb27082.x/fullhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780080450469001121) If garlic made me more likely to throw up during my early pregnancies, then it is logical that I would have developed an aversion to garlic that manifested during subsequent periods of morning sickness. Even now, years later and not pregnant, I cringe a little internally at the sight of a ranch dressing bottle because of pregnancy memories of hating the smell of the garlic-containing ranch dressing within.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Steven Magee quotes about discovery

I found some good quotes about discovery by an author/writer named Steven Magee. His current areas of focus appear to be what many would consider "fringe" because he warns of dangers from ubiquitous electromagnetic radiation. Some of his ideas aren't out of the mainstream, though. For instance, talking about toxic effects of certain kinds of light is warranted in light of what has been learned about blue light suppressing melatonin at night. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26017927; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29101797) And then there are the recent mysterious injuries to US diplomats in Cuba, which some think might have been a result of radio waves. (https://www.politico.com/story/2017/11/12/cuba-attacks-cold-war-technology-244787)

Regardless of whether every one of Magee's warnings about electromagnetic radiation exposure is warranted, he has some good things to say about why medical science exists:

“The human mind and body contains a myriad of secrets awaiting discovery.”

“Sickness is the motivator for research by those that recognize improved health is just a discovery away.”

“Curiosity is what powers discovery.”

“When walking alone on the path of discovery, have faith that you are illuminating the way for others to follow.”

“Research is an endless loop of failures interspersed with occasional profound discoveries.”


I like that he recognizes that a multitude of failures is an inevitable part of research but is still optimistic about all that awaits us as we continue to reach for more knowledge.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Glucosamine to protect cartilage during influenza infection

I like to research many things that don't have clear answers. I have only been taking so much time to post about molybdenum because it's relatively unknown and quite effective for nausea/vomiting and migraines. But the headlines these days have some scary stories about influenza and its toll. A friend lost her uncle a few days ago to post-influenza pneumonia. So here's what I've dug up on an overlooked nutritional intervention that appears to help protect against dying from influenza-caused pneumonia:

1) The flu infects chondrocytes, the cells in cartilage. They are the only cells in hyaline cartilage, which type of cartilage is coincidentally found in places--joints, rib ends, nose, larynx, trachea, bronchi--that are among the hardest hit by influenza. (https://www.britannica.com/science/cartilage)

2) Influenza-infected chondrocytes don't seem to actually experience obvious damage until the body's immune system goes on the attack. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC422866/; http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1365-2567.2003.01621.x/full) [Edited 2/17/2018: Someone pointed out to me that chondrocytes are within an extracellular matrix that has no blood vessels, so other cells, including attacking immune cells, can't reach them. I looked more into that issue and found a 2015 cartilage transplant study which found that cartilage isn't as immune-privileged as it used to be believed it was (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4522233/). I suspect that chondroblasts--the immature chondrocytes next to the blood-vessel-containing perichondrium--are the first chondrocytes which the immune system cells attack, and then due to their destruction the cartilage matrix becomes compromised; if that compromised state becomes severe enough, immune cells can then gain access to the mature chondrocytes within, as well.]

3) Cytokines are part of the immune system's attack arsenal. The cytokine IL-1beta is a critical component of lung inflammation during infection with influenza type A H1N1. (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jmv.24138/abstracthttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27714503)

4) Glucosamine--a natural compound found in cartilage--happens to protect chondrocytes by being a potent inhibitor of IL-1beta. (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/ar2082)

5) Damaged cartilage in the trachea/bronchi could allow for more penetrating infection by viruses/bacteria that normally would not be able to do much harm and in that way make flu sufferers much more susceptible to pneumonia. Most of the people who died from the 1918 flu died because "bacteria that normally inhabit the nose and throat invaded the lungs along a pathway created when the virus destroyed the cells that line the bronchial tubes and lungs." (https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/bacterial-pneumonia-caused-most-deaths-1918-influenza-pandemic)

6) People who take glucosamine (it's a common supplement for arthritis) are much less likely to die of respiratory illnesses than their peers. (https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10654-012-9714-6)

So if you're worried about influenza, it might be worth it to buy some glucosamine and take it when you're exposed to influenza so you can protect your hyaline cartilage and thus make yourself less likely to develop pneumonia. I tried glucosamine myself last week (I teach part-time, and influenza has been going around my classroom), and I never coughed at all despite having slight nasal secretions and some very short episodes of mild chills. I bought the glucosamine in loose powder form, mixed it into water, and sipped or gargled it, for the point was to protect my respiratory tract, not my intestines.

At the very least, drink some animal broth--which should typically contain a little glucosamine--when sick with influenza. I don't think it's prudent to be a vegetarian when dealing with influenza. A few years ago, a China-Diet-following relative of mine got the flu, then pneumonia, then barely survived ARDS. Also, India's 1918 flu statistics could be read to support the existence of some sort of protective effect correlated with acceptance of beef consumption.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Possible listeria infection

Here's the timeline for something that happened in our family almost a month ago. Enough time has elapsed that I feel pretty confident that it wasn't a norovirus, so I'm posting a blog entry about it now (February 24, 2018):

Jan. 29, 2018, Monday afternoon: I went shopping and bought some clearance produce, including a 2-lb package of pre-washed whole green beans. As I put them in the cart, I thought to myself, "I'd better wash or cook those before we eat them." The expiration date on the green bean bag was stated to be January 31, 2018.

Jan. 31, 2018, Wednesday afternoon: My teenage daughter needed treats for an activity that were supposed to be red and green colored. I said she could take the bag of green beans and a bag of red apples out of the refrigerator. I thought to myself, "I hope she remembers to wash them," but never said it to her. 

Jan. 31, 2018, Wednesday evening, 7:00-8:30 pm: My teenage daughter ate 2-3 medium-sized handfuls of the green beans at the activity. She didn't notice anyone else eating them. 

February 1, 2018, Thursday morning, 8 am: My teenage daughter made herself a sunny-side-up egg and did not cook the yolk all the way through.

February 1, 2018, Thursday morning, 11:25 am: My teenage daughter noticed "a faint, black rectangle pattern that was shimmering on the edges of her left eye." She thought it was due to looking at her computer screen for too long. It continued for about 15 minutes.

February 1, 2018, Thursday, 11:30-12:00: She ate a large lunch.

February 1, 2018, Thursday, 12:15 pm: While driving in the car, she was suddenly hit with a headache.

February 1, 2018, Thursday, 12:30 pm: While still in the car, her stomach began hurting and she asked for some molybdenum. I gave her some.

February 1, 2018, Thursday, 12:40 pm: I had to pull over because she felt like she was about to throw up. Fresh air and getting out of the car helped her not to throw up. I gave her more molybdenum.

February 1, 2018, Thursday, 1:15 pm: After getting her to our house (with a break for her to sit in a parking lot for a while and try a piece of hard candy to increase saliva), I gave her more molybdenum, a container to throw up in, and a blanket to cover her while she rested on the sofa. She fell asleep on the sofa. She woke up about thirty minutes later and threw up. And then she felt much better. She still had a very mild headache and her stomach didn't hurt anymore.

February 1, 2018, Thursday, 3:30 pm: She was acting normally and eating (practically dancing around in the kitchen next to all the family food preparation surfaces, to my chagrin). She says she had "the faintest headache [she'd] ever had." I gave her some more molybdenum since she'd thrown up the contents of her stomach earlier.

February 1, 2018, Thursday, 6:00 pm: She thinks she was totally recovered by then. She has not had diarrhea at all. To the contrary, she was constipated for a day or two afterward, which makes me wonder if excessive molybdenum can cause constipation.

Based on her headache and gastrointestinal symptoms and the suddenness with which they hit her, the most likely culprit for her illness appears to be listeriosis, i.e., infection with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes. The incubation period fits (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23305174), the visual disturbance symptom sounds similar to what one of her aunts experienced from suspected mild listeriosis in the past, and the apparent source--fresh produce--is a moderately common source of listeria (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5368540/). 

My daughter has since checked with other people who were at her Wednesday night event, and only one other person recalled even eating any of the green beans, and that person ate just a few of the green beans. No one else got sick except for my daughter, who ate handfuls of the green beans.

I am fairly confident in ruling out norovirus or a similar virus because of the brain-related symptoms (e.g., visual disturbance and headache) and the fact that no one in the family has had an illness anything like this. After the past few months, we unfortunately have a good knowledge of how the more common gastrointestinal viruses affect our family.

I find it interesting that she hasn't had any diarrhea, as that is the one of the most common symptoms associated with mild listeriosis. (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199701093360204) Maybe the molybdenum she took helped prevent it. But molybdenum didn't stop the initial vomiting episode, even if it might have helped delay it. I suspect we've just run up against a limitation of molybdenum. This is the first time, to my knowledge, that we've used molybdenum for a probable bacterial illness. We have since watched this little animation of how the listeria bacteria infects and poisons our cells, and it made me very grateful for my child's well-functioning immune system:



I contacted the customer service hotline of the store and told them about her symptoms. They asked many questions and directed us to freeze the bag of green beans in case it becomes necessary for them to send someone to collect it and test it. I'm happy to see they take possible listeria in their produce so seriously. The green beans are still in my freezer. I wonder how long they expect me to hold on to them?