Vitamin K2 - Your Secret Weapon Against COVID
Did you know that Japan got COVID before the US? Did you know that they have had a total of a little over 2,000 deaths, so far? Total. In America, we are having some 2,000 deaths per day. What gives? Yes, the Japanese are very conscious about infecting others and wear masks with great discipline. But that's not all. Their infection rate also tracks a curious habit: their consumption of natto. In Iwate prefecture, the NE part of Japan around the Fukushima power plant there has been very low COVID rates. In fact, the Japanese have noted that fact and there has been natto hoarding in Japan and more sober minds have downplayed the reality of this observation.
Ok, just what it natto? It is a uniquely Japanese food, eaten mostly for breakfast made from fermented soybeans. Its flavor has not caught on elsewhere but natto has a huge amount of Vitamin K2 in it, higher than in any other food source. And the probiotic effect of the bacillus subtilis bacteria and makes the natto has its own very powerful antiviral effect. We naturally get K2 from animals that eat grass. That means the American K2 supply declined dramatically back in the 1950s when American agriculture moved animals off of green pastures onto feedlots. K2 is very, very different from K1. K1 is all about blood clotting. K2 activates two critical proteins: osteocalcin in bone, the protein that binds calcium into bone, and Matrix GLA protein, the protein that binds calcium OUT of arteries. Would it surprise you that you can trace K2 consumption in Japan by rate of bone fracture and longevity overall? Yup, yup.
So, follow this thread. Did you know that folks dying of COVID have very high levels of un-activated Matrix GLA protein in their blood, a deficiency that clears up with K2 administration? And can you follow that the COVID attack on your lungs uses up a lot of K2 trying to keep the cells in your lungs alive, which doesn't work without the K2? This would tie into the observation in Japan that explains part of why the Japanese have dodged the COVID bullet by 99%! I like 99%. Is it proof? Hardly. Observational studies are just that. But is it toxic? Nope. It is just food and happens to be a food that has been inadvertently removed from our natural food supply by our agricultural methods. We should be eating grass raised animals, not corn and bean fed critters. We have a runaway epidemic of osteoporosis and heart disease: the two consequences of low K2. And now we have a runaway epidemic of COVID.
There is something unique about K2 and Vitamin D. They are synergistic. There continues to be confusion in the literature about K1 (all about clotting) and K2, (all about calcium metabolism). They are really not the same. They have dramatically different spheres of biological activity. We just don't have proof by the standards of modern pharmacotherapy. But those standards were designed to test the use of foreign chemicals in the human body. COVID may be an infection that is invading the human species that has been uniquely prepped by modern agriculture to be vulnerable. There is a company called Kappa Bioscience in Norway that is taking the topic head-on and selling K2 and D together. Africa, as a continent, has lots of sunshine (Vitamin D) and much more K2 intake as they eat animals that eat green plants instead of corn and beans. Their rate of COVID has been surprisingly lower. And then there are those darn Japanese with their much, much lower rate, guzzling natto for breakfast every morning. Do we need to do a randomized controlled trial on natto? Well, after you taste it, you will say yes.
www. What will Work for me? I bought some natto and have tasted it. Whew, it's quite an experience. You might not appreciate the flavor until you try it yourself. So I immediately ordered more K2 as a regular supplement. I already take it for my bones and coronary arteries. You should make a point of getting K2 yourself. Order it off the internet. Buy grass raised animal products. Wear a mask and wash your hands. We'll make it, maybe without the natto. I'm eagerly waiting to see the results of a good study.
1. What is K2? Answer: an altered form of K made in animal guts after they eat K1, found in green plants. It is also made by a bacteria called Bacillus subtilis found in wheat straw.
2. What is natto? Answer: the highest food source of K2 made by fermenting soybeans in moist wheat straw. The northern Japanese eat it with enthusiasm. The southern Japanese think the northerners are a bit daft. (1000 times what is in sauer kraut, 100 times most other K2 foods)
3. What does K2 do? Answer: It activates two vital proteins: one, osteocalcin, binds calcium into bone. The other, Matrix GLA protein, binds calcium out of arteries. There must be many other actions in layers beyond current research.
4. What happens when you combine Vitamin D and Vitamin K2? Answer: you get a synergetic effect. Both are enhanced. And you appear to get lower rates of COVID by observational studies.
5. How can we prove it? Answer: Despite the urgency, this is research on the fly but is not proof. Proof really comes down to comparing two randomized groups, over time, doing different behaviors. In nutrition, we do accept large enough population studies as guidelines, but it always remains open for controversy until it is studied prospectively, randomly, and long enough.
Ketone Strategy for COVID
Weren't we proud of ourselves when we learned what mitochondria were! They are the little, tiny powerplants inside each cell that take fat and carbohydrate and churn out the energy molecule called ATP. We have some 200 in every muscle cell but our organs have a couple thousand, and our heart and brain have 5000 each. Mitochondria aren't just the powerhouses of your cell. They are the deciding nexus of when your cell dies. We are so dependent on them that their welfare is key to our survival. They aren't just the nexus of cells living and dying, but also the key to responding to infections and viruses. This ends up being the link between how to extend lifespan.
Fasting, for example, switches your metabolism from running on glucose to running on ketones. And when you do that with monkeys, you can prove they will live 40% longer. What happens when you give the ketone bodies without the calorie restriction? Hmm...same effect. Isn't that nifty? You could posit that the natural, original state of the human cell was running on ketones, not carbs. And indeed, if you look at the healthy metabolism of the great apes, they derive the majority of their calories from a short fatty acid called beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB). BHB is made by the bacteria in your colon digesting the cell walls of green plants. Prior to humans learning agriculture, the majority of our calories came from uncooked plants or animal. Prior to animal, it was just plants. BHB.
So far so good? The balance of your metabolism is all based on four ratios of energy production: ADP/ATP, NAD+/NADH, NADP+/NADPH, and acetyl-CoA/CoA. This is all about your "redox ratio". When you have a healthy ratio in all four, your cells are responsive, alive, and "quiescent" - ready to go if needed. It is those ratios declining that define "senescence", cells that are not making energy properly, and thereby spewing our oxidizing "reactive oxygen species". We try so hard to take antioxidants to neutralize those little devils. It helps a teeny, tiny, but. But not enough. Declining ratios define aging, and ultimately death.
The essence of COVID's damage is to attack those ratios and hijack the cell's metabolism by injecting new DNA that makes "metabolic detours". COVID is the most aggressive virus know by way of percent of cellular DNA that is hijacked. It's no "simple flu". The PDC complex is the key crossroads of your mitochondria. PDC, pyruvate dehydrogenase complex, is the first step into sending energy into the enzymes that make energy. If you block that complex, you block making energy. The infected person feels awful with extreme fatigue. That's the block COVID makes. The virus is diverting the fuel molecule into a building block to make lipid coat for new virus particles. It's also hiding from immune cells by changing the alarm system: melatonin. The cell starves to death and ruptures, spewing out trillions of spanking new baby viruses. And that's precisely where a ketone ester jumps in and puts the fuel-making system back in process.
The alveolar type-2 cells in your lungs are meant to make protective proteins and the surface liquid that protects the lungs. If they don't have energy, they can't protect your lungs. COVID invades those cells. They are the ones you need to protect. You want them getting back to making ketones themselves, and producing their own melatonin so that the virus can't hide from the immune system. (Yes, you got that: melatonin isn't just your sleep hormone, it's made in every cell as part of an immune response - which you don't make as you age.)
That's enough basic science. Take a deep dive into the references here. But more importantly, learn from the experience of ketone-administering doctors. There are a bunch of us probing the limits of a possibly whole new field of medicine: Ketone Sciences. If I told you there are credible physicians who have virtually neutralized their Parkinson's with ketone esters, infertile women who have become pregnant, COPDer's who have breathed again....and COVID wheezers who have had lung function return in 15 minutes....would you listen? And will the House of Medicine explore how to use food to heal ourselves?
Ketone esters are simple BHB molecules with an ester group attached that makes them ultra-absorbable. They get into you very quickly. Designed for athletes running marathons, they are on the market, over the counter. In marathons, they work better than candy bars. In COVID, they might save your life: keeping your lung cells alive long enough for the frantic race between the virus and your immune system for your immune system to win. Once it's ramped up, you win.
Hence the promise of the vaccine. Getting a vaccine gives your immune system the vital edge. It will already know the "shape" of the enemy - a 5-day head start. That's enough.
www.What will Work for me. I have now seen multiple examples of folks feeling better with ketone esters. You can buy them off Amazon: KE4 is the label you type in. If it costs $ 99 for three little bottles, that's it. Each bottle is two days worth supple so a 3 pack gets you through a week. Or a marathon. I have a couple of packs. I have tested myself with them. Drinking one-third of a bottle raised my ketones by about 1 mmole. If you get COVID, start taking it three times a day: 1/6 of the bottle. See if you don't feel better. If you have Parkinson's, MS....etc etc, try it. See if you feel better. It's just a pure form of food. You do the same thing eating pure spinach - just slower and less dramatically. Repeat. It's not a drug - it's food. Curiously, the right stuff.
1. What are mitochondria? Answer: Your cellular powerplants that make the energy the cell uses.
2. What does COVID do to those mitochondria? Answer: Hijacks them, changing the production of energy into lipid production and hiding from your immune system.
3. What are ketones? Answer: The name we give to short-chain fatty-acids that our cells are used to running on when carbs aren't around. In modern civilization, we have sugar and carbs so widely and abundantly available, we don't switch over to ketone metabolism very often.
4. What do ketones do, given to COVID folks? Answer: rescue their dying cells in the nick of time. You will hear some folks say they feel better and can breathe better within 10 minutes.
5. Do I have to get permission from my doctor to take them? Answer: Do you ask your doctor if it's safe to eat spinach?
Apoptosis: A New Approach to Understanding Congestive Heart Failure
Half of us will die with the condition "congestive heart failure" on our medical record. It may be the cause of death in only 10% or so, but many more have it is a part of the picture. Cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death in America, albeit Alzheimer's is catching up and will likely overtake it soon.
Congestive heart failure is essentially the loss of the ability to pump blood. It used to be thought that the heart cell lasted a lifetime. I was taught once upon a time that the heart actually replaced its muscle cells frequently. We finally have good data that shows that we replace about 1% heart muscle cells in a year at age 25 but only 1/2% per year at age 75. Replacing slows down.
You want to keep replacing those cells. 1% loss per year means you run out at 100. So, what is apoptosis? It is the orderly dismantling of the internal organs of a cell with proper recycling and folding up shop. The organ involved stays functioning and the surrounding cells keep at it. That is opposed to necrosis where a cell just dissolves with complete and dramatic loss or any "organ"-ization. You can only fix that by making scar tissue. The organ involved is damaged. A heart attack causes necrosis. That is a big problem. But what causes congestive heart failure? Too much apoptosis. If you want to take a gander at it, read the Biomed article on apoptosis. It's humdinger of complicated pathways and you will come away with reverence for the complexity of human physiology.
A new approach is needed. Try to wrap your brain around this one. Apoptosis is decided on in the mitochondria of your cell. Heart muscle cells have some 5000 mitochondria each. There is a constant cross-talk between the mitochondria and the nuclear of a cell. A mitochondrion only has 37 distinct genes in it, needed for minute-by-minute regulation. The other thousand or so it needs to duplicate itself come from the nucleus. A healthy cell is called "quiescent" meaning it is alert, awake, and ready to go: just chilling until needed. An unhealthy cell is "senescent" meaning it has become a zombie: unable to properly do its function with mitochondria that start spewing out reactive oxygen species and damaging the cells around it. Its mitochondria are in trouble and on the verge of issuing apoptosis orders.
Here is the emerging understanding of how to reverse that, how to pull back from senescence, how to fix imminent apoptosis, how to nip congestive heart failure in the bud. You need to repair your mitochondria and their conversation with the nucleus of the cell. Three things do that! Exercise: which makes a relative deficit of energy and induces the cell to hunker down, turn on its AMPK pathway and generate stem cells. Fasting: which makes a relative deficit of energy and induces the cell to hunker down, turn on its AMPK pathway and generate stem cells. (Oh, did I repeat myself?). And finally, the proper induction of sensitivity to growth hormone by the proper use of peptides that induce sensitivity to growth hormone.
What does that mean? You can't fight congestive heart failure by targeting the heart. You have to target the cell. Every cell. Your whole body. Every mitochondrion. And a healthy mitochondrion needs its own "exercise". It needs to have its genes activated and its conversation with the nucleus honored. New idea! But it's on the right path.
www.What will Work for me. We are beginning to understand the core cellular causes of cell senescence. It starts with learning the language and terms that define what the problem is. And I love connecting the dots so that I can understand why I have to drag my sorry, lazy butt off the couch and get some exercise. Now, when we go even deeper into the balance of NAD+ to NADH, we will get to real understanding. And David Sinclair's book about Lifespan, and his admonition to be on metformin and NAD+ will suddenly make sense. I took my metformin today.
1. What is apoptosis? Answer: the orderly dismantling of a cell.
2. Is apoptosis a problem? Answer: Well, yes, if it means you have pushed a cell too far and tipped it over the edge, which appears to be at the "heart" of congestive heart failure. You don't want a dismantled cell. You want a working cell.
3. What percent of heart cells are "dismantled" every year at age 75? Answer: 1/2 of one percent. That's new news to me. Each heart muscle cell is precious.
4. What is the secret way to slow that down or fix it? Answer: Exercise, fasting, and growth hormone.
5. And what is at the "heart" of those three? Answer: Maintaining a healthy NAD+/NADH ratio. Which taking NAD+ and metformin helps dramatically.
L-theanine and Cysteine May Prevent COVID Cytokine Storm
This is a delightful little hack on your immune system. Again, just as elegant and simple as glutamine and citrulline making extra nitric oxide, you can boost your immune response to viruses dramatically with L-theanine, the "green" in green tea, and cysteine.
First, a little biology about COVID. When a normal virus invades a cell, it takes over some of the mechanisms inside the cell it has invaded: typically in the range of under 5%. You can tell that by measuring the activated messenger RNA inside the cell. Most viruses do their work with that small percentile change. Not COVID! It changes some 60% of the mRNA inside the cell. The highest takeover response of any virus: only polio comes close. It's a complete do-over. And it goes deep. On top of that, a typical immune response has a balanced initial response. Your "interferon" set of proteins ramp up instantaneous inflammation. Your "Cytokine" response calls for help. COVID clamps down on the interferon side of things but does NOTHING to the cytokine side. That leads to a rapidly increasing upregulation of the cytokine response, with no balance attached. Hence, the storm.
If you want to really go deep, delve into the mechanisms of how the COVID-19 alters the mitochondria, hijacking it to make coat lipids and rob your energy production, all while stretching out your mitochondria and evading immune recognition. You will also have some insight when you then go down how ketone esters rescue those poor, beleaguered mitochondria. Curiously, our own natural beta-hydroxybutyrate BHB), the ketone you make in your gut when you eat spinach or broccoli, and your fat cells give up when you are losing weight has very powerful immune effects. BHB has many immune effects and almost instant salvages those struggling mitochondria: but I digress.
Previous research from 2010 or so has shown the molecular mechanisms by which the combination of cysteine and L-theanine down-regulate your spastic immune response that make colds, thereby attenuating them. And they work in humans too. That's this week's headliner. You can take L-theanine in a simple, cheap pill. It's a wonderful calming amino acid that helps you sleep, and in that regard is the number one sleeping pill sold in Japan. But it is also the amino acid that differentiates green tea from black tea. There is lots of L-theanine in green tea.
What does it do? Back to that glutathione thing. L-theanine and cysteine together dramatically upregulate your glutathione response. And that fine-tunes and balances your immune response. Simple as that. COVID downregulates it. You bring it back up. It has been shown in clinical trials to attenuate colds and other minor viral syndromes and has now made it into the headlines as an inexpensive adjuvant to help coronavirus response.
Is this a big deal? Well, not a cure but another thing you can do. Put the whole package together and you tip the balance in favor of your immune system. You have to drink liquids when you have a fever. Maybe you can make it nice, warm green tea. Lots of it. Or maybe you can take L-theanine at bedtime.
www.What will Work for me. I like this one because it's so cheap and such an easy hack you can do. There will not likely be research on it as it is way too cheap to ever support a randomized trial. You should be on L-theanine anyways as a strategy to help your sleep, or to mellow you out (start with 200 mg a day at bedtime. The full-court press of 400 mg three times a day is considered a secret trick to get folks to sleep better). The Japanese drink green tea all day long. Each cup is about 100-200 mg of L-theanine. N-acetyl cysteine is easy to supplement too. Combine those two. If you come to me with COVID: the peptide master class just added L-theanine as something to take on general principles during this COVID season. I just bought a bottle of 200 mg L-theanine. Two at bedtime for me.
1. What are L-theanine and cysteine? Answer: two amino acids that appear to affect the glutathione response
2. And what does glutathione do? Answer: It appears to help "fine-tune" your innate immune response, balancing your interferon protein arm with your cytokine arm so you don't get a run-away storm.
3. Where can you get l-theanine? Answer: simple. Green tea or cheap supplement. Ditto for cysteine.
4. Were you able to pick out the feature of COVID that is the highest anyone has ever seen? Answer: the activation of mRNA to viral functions, hits over 60% in COVID, compared to the average 1-5% in other viruses.
5. And how is this being measured? Answer: transcriptomic is the new science of measuring the activated mRNA, reflecting what genes are turned on and actively doing something inside a cell. You can do that by duplicating the mRNA and making millions of copies, and then measure it. Clever.
RDW: That test you don't understand on your Blood Count
Ever looked down on your blood count and not understood all the little acronyms and abbreviations down there? Well, time to learn about the newest and most important one, your RDW. Red Cell Distribution Width is the variability in the size of your red blood cells. We collect those when we do a blood count so it's an easy biopsy of what's going on inside. Now, red cells only live about 100 days. Did you know they predict how long you live? That's what the RDW does.
It was developed around investigating deficiencies in iron. With less iron, your red cells get smaller and smaller and your RDW goes up. If you have a hidden colon cancer and are losing iron, this tips you off. "Go get a colonoscopy!" I've said on numerous occasions. Turns out this was like the closet in the Narnia stories: you open it up and a whole new universe appears.
That was just the beginning. It's not just iron. The more we have looked and followed the RDW we have found that the variability revealed by the RDW predicts the "health" of your whole system and thereby how long you are going to live. Interestingly, the correlation with mortality in otherwise healthy older adults who don't have obvious underlying disease was even stronger in the largest metanalysis done to date. (11,827 adults from over seven different studies combined is a pretty good population sample.)
There must be something else going on. The first look has been to consider inflammation and basic disruption of your "oxidative stress". Examining selenium, A vitamins, E vitamins.... found that selenium the only was the only predictive deficiency of mortality with high RDW.
What about oxidative stress? Take a whole new look at the aging cell. With aging, many of our cells slide into senescence when we wanted them to be "quiescent". Quiescent means ready and waiting to go. Senescent means spiraling down and spitting out "oxidants", thereby altering our natural anti-oxidant response. When you reach a threshold of overwhelming your antioxidant response, you begin to run out of NAD. If you don't have sufficient NAD, you can't maintain your chromosomes and run proper cellular responses to other stresses. You get invaded by viruses more easily. Your immune system can't mount as vigorous a defense. And your RDW starts to rise.
Oh, my goodness! You get a peek into the very foundation of life, the health of your mitochondria with the RDW. This is a very simple test, not always exactly on the numbers (as you may, in fact, be short of iron) that suggests that you, the otherwise healthy individual, may be in trouble. Your level of senescent cells may be reaching that level of spiraling out of control. And all it took was a simple CBC with the conjunction of fabulous computer testing ability that can now measure the variability of your teeny, tiny little red cells. The standard, annual blood count gives you a fantastic little peek!
1. What is the RDW? Answer: Red Cell Distribution Width
2. What was it first invented for? Answer: Smaller red cells and the distribution of red cell size that comes about with iron deficiency.
3. What simple supplement might help raise your RDW that you don't often get measured? Answer: Selenium
4. What is RDW probably measuring in the majority of otherwise healthy adults? Answer: the status of their mitochondria and their NAD+ availability.
5. What does RDW predict in otherwise healthy older populations? Answer: Mortality. A big one.
Thymosin A: Your Way Through Covid-19
We have referenced Thymosin A several times in months past. Now, we have specific proof of its efficacy so time for a deeper dive.
Introduction first to remind you and bring you up to speed. Thymosin A is a natural peptide you make when you are young. It is 28 amino acids long and made primarily in your thymus gland. Newborns make a lot of it as their thymus gland (Taking up about 20% of their chest cavity) ramps up and teaches their immune system to fight viruses. One of its principal results is the maturation of Treg cells. These are your immune system's Bossy Pants, the cells that direct all the other cells lines to go to work. In 1973, it was noted that its production drops dramatically with aging, and was proposed as one of the possible causes of aging. It was studied and approved by the FDA to fight chronic Hepatitis B as its use was shown to cure some 50% of folks with it. This key role of Treg (T "regulatory") cells (the masters of your immune system) to tolerate your own cells and fight like crazy against foreign invaders, cancers, viruses, etc is what degrades with aging, and is downregulated by COVID. So, T-reg is the master regulator of the master immune supervisor.
Now, we have a paper from Wuhan, China showing that thymosin A reduces mortality some 65% in severely ill COVID-19 patients. Two thirds! 30% mortality down to 11% mortality. Very interesting! How? T reg cells.
This pandemic is only a year old, so much research is on the fly but there is some evidence on just what's happening. When an immune system has not seen anything like COVID-19 before, its first response can be too exuberant. That is essentially what a cytokine storm is. Way too much response that feeds on itself and spirals out of control. As the inflammatory cytokines called TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-10 ramp up in your immune response, your CD-8 count goes down. CD-8 Tcells are the guys that actually go out and kill viruses. Mano a mano. You want healthy CD-8 cells (virus killers) with their CD-4 helpers (antibody makers to clean up). In severe COVID, you haven't got many. You can show that those cells are not only depleted but "exhausted". T-cell receptor excision circles (TREC) are an accepted form of measuring "immune exhaustion". Mature T-cells rearrange their DNA into circles and you want lots of them in healthy T-cells. Lose them and your immune system is being beaten up. Exhausted T cells express elevated inhibitory receptors like PD-1 or TIM-3. How's that for jargon! PD-1 stands for Programmed Cell Death Protein. You don't want it. It means you are biting the bullet. Your cells are dying. Covid-19 makes it go up in severe cases, while you go down. Thymosin A -1 reverses that.
Enough already. The Chinese have also looked at giving thymosin analogs to young health care workers. But not by shot, but by oral pill. Didn't work. Two issues, they were young so taking thymosin A wasn't necessary. Two, oral is dumb. The protein gets digested in your gut and chemically altering it so that it survives your gut does fool your immune system. It doesn't respond.
When I listen to my fellow functional medicine doctors treating COVID, thymosin A1 is right front and center. But should it be if you are over 60? Yup! Your immune system is doing what it does at age 60. It is degraded and falling apart. You want to wake it up so that you are already ready to go. You want your Treg cells to be turned on and watching. You want your CD8 count elevated so that it can see viruses. And then you don't have to do the cytokine storm thing to catch up.
www.What Will Work for me. I'm taking 0.15 cc of Thymosin A-1 daily as a sub Q shot. (That's 0.375 mg). If you are over 60, you should too. To get the pharmaceutical grade stuff, you have to get a prescription from a functional medicine doctor. The wild - cat, off label peptide houses, claim they are pure, but not how pure. When you are making a 28 amino acid peptide, you will have a 2% error rate for every amino acid you add to the chain, leaving your final product 56% impure. Your immune system is smarter than that and who knows what all those other peptides that got made with the missing or mistakenly added amino acids do. In this case, it might be worth paying the extra money for the good stuff. At least so that you have it on hand. I intend to take it all winter. If I get COVID, I will take a double dose, three times a day (0.3 ml using the standard mixing procedures.). The Chinese have used 1.6 mg a day. My dose would be 2.25 mg a day because I'm bigger. And there are no side effects to something that is naturally inside of you, once upon a time.
References: Clinical Infectious Disease, New York Times, Exp Opin Bio Ther, Exp Opin Bio Ther, Clinical Infect Disease, Front Immunol., Science Direct, Jr Med Virology, JamaNetwork, International Immunopharm.,
1. When do you naturally make your own Thymosin -A1. Answer: When you are 6 weeks old, peaking in your first decade.
2. What cells does T-1 turn on? Answer: Your Masters of the Immune System, the T-regulatory cells (Treg in medical jargon) that direct other cells to do their business properly.
3. What's going on in older folks' immune system with severe COVID? Answer: Their T-reg cells are absent or decreased and their innate immune system is spiraling upwards, out of control.
4. If you are in an ICU with COVID, what reduction in mortality will you get if you are over age 60? Answer: 65%. From 30 down to 11%
5. If you are over 60, will you benefit by taking Thymosin A-1 if COVID prevalence is high in your community? Answer: Not proven yet, but it's good enough for me. I have been on it off and on for two years now and have had no colds despite frequent air travel prior to the pandemic.
6. Where can you get pure T-1? Answer: Compounding pharmacies that make pharmaceutical grade product. There are only a few of them. We can help you if you call for an appointment which we will oblige and do over the phone. We will walk you through the mixing and administering it. It's easy. And fill you in on the rest of the current best COVID protocol so that you never go to the hospital.
The Bacteria in Your Gut Indicate Your Real Age
No kidding. How old you are "biologically" can be understood by the changes that happen to the "biome" in your gut. Let's explain. For starters, we all have about 100 times the number of cells in our gut compared to our entire bodies. 100 times. Our gut doesn't just digest the food we eat, it has an immune function that is only now becoming more understood. And real understanding comes from recognizing that our brains, our immune system, and our guts are all on a team together. Your brain will never be happy if your gut isn't happy. How so?
For starters, a healthy gut needs to be mostly low oxygen-consuming "anaerobic" bacteria. That might be the crux. Your gut cells lining your intestinal lining are formed deep in the depths of your villi in your intestine: the "crypts of Lieberkühn". A healthy human gut lining uses a ton of oxygen with the paradoxical effect of making very little available inside the gut. That results in more "anaerobic" bacteria in your gut, which results in the making of more short-chain fatty acids, the major one being beta-hydroxybutyrate. In this desired, balanced world, we make all the signaling messages for us to produce a balanced set of T-reg cells (the T cells that boss around your immune system and balance it) and macrophages (the garbage trucks that clean up cellular gunk).
This is where it gets fun and very interesting. The Western diet that we now eat, characterized by high saturated animal fat, no fiber, and too much protein, changes the way energy is consumed in our gut lining, thereby changing the amount of oxygen getting into the gut (much more gets in) thereby changing the beneficial bacteria to not-so-good bacteria. These changes lead to different levels of T-reg cells, different levels of beta-hydroxybutyrate, different levels of macrophages, different levels of neurotransmitters in our brain. Throw in antibiotics that we take orally and which decimate huge populations of gut bacteria and add a good dollop of sugar and a whole raft of artificial poisons: no wonder we are a mess. I've carefully selected some reading in the references you can do a deep dive into. Click on some links and spend an afternoon in the dizzying depths of your suffering gut, your aging brain and your faltering immune system.
But let's just look at some of the clinical implications for you. A study from Cornell two years ago showed that midlife folks in America who eat a Mediterranean diet, (more vegetables, fish, fruits, legumes, olive oil, less red meat, animal protein, saturated fat, tiny bit of alcohol) can be shown to develop less amyloid in their brains and have better cognitive performance.
A study from Wake Forest with folks with mild cognitive impairment versus controls show in an immediate change in gut flora, beta-hydroxybutyrate and central nervous system markers of Alzheimer's as determined by spinal tap) when diet is changed to a "Modified Mediterranean ketogenic diet" (which meant it was high fat with olive oil and less carbs) versus the American Heart Association diet.
There is an explosion of interest in this idea. Lots of papers are being published. You can correlate the amount of beta-hydroxybutyrate in your gut and blood with your cholesterol forming amyloid plaques. The biome of your colonic bacteria is correlated with their oxygenation. Eating more olive oil makes for better synapses. If you read one extra paper, read the Frontiers in Endocrinology about gut bacteria and your brain.
All these advances are now being commercialized. You can measure your "biological age" by measuring your gut bacteria in relationship to the health of your white blood cells and your genetic markers of mitochondrial health. As you age, your ability to make a healthy "redox" environment in your mitochondria deteriorates. Your production of NAD+ drops and your SIRT proteins, tasked with keeping your DNA properly protected, disintegrates. A company by the name of VIOMEwill happily tell you your "biological age" compared to your calendar age based on whether your diet, your gut bacteria, and your blood markers are in healthy ranges. Got $ 300 looking for a brand new test?
WWW. What will work for me. I've been taking NAD-riboside and metformin to align with Sinclair's admonitions. That should be helping. And I make myself an Instapot of legume curry every week. I use that to eat less animal protein. We have a giant salad made with olive oil every night (mostly). I should be the picture of virtue. Well, my Viome test came back raunchy. I'm biologically "older" than my calendar age. Bummer. Faced with data, I do the obvious. I attack the validity of the test. And then I look at the brownies in the fridge and have an apple instead.
1. Your colon has more or fewer cells in it than the rest of your body? T or F. Answer: True, 100 times more. Trillions and trillions more.
2. The beneficial cells in your gut depend on what sort of environment? Answer: low oxygen, high fiber, not too much protein, sugar, or animal fat and please, please, hold off on the antibiotics and artificial .....everything.
3. Can you name the immune cells that direct your immune system that depend on eating a Mediterranean diet? Answer: T-reg (aka bossy pants)
4. Can you identify the elements of a Mediterranean diet? Answer: More vegetables, more whole grains, fish, fruits legumes, and LOTS of olive oil, with less animal fat, protein sugar)
5. What short-chain fatty acid comes out of your colon that is wonderful brain food? Answer: beta-hydroxybutyrate, made when you eat olive oil, made when you fast for more than 12 hours, made when you tip the balance of nutrients to more plant away from refined grains, sugars, and animal products)
Monolaurin - Better than you Think
You've heard of some of the back and forth about coconut oil, but have you heard of monolaurin? It turns out to be quite an interesting compound. Coconut oil is about 50% lauric acid. It is the 12 carbon chain in coconut oil that has a melting point just at your skin temperature, so is ideal for being a foundational fat for many beauty products. The other two main ingredients are shorter fatty acids being 10 and 8 carbons long. They are liquid at room temperature so make up the ingredients of MCT oil. When you eat coconut oil or any coconut, you will make some monolaurin in your natural digestion of it. But the actual product monolaurin is the product of binding lauric acid with glycerin, the otherwise foundation of "triglycerides". It's easy to manufacture and has its own powerhouse of benefits.
Here are some of them. For example, the scourge of MRSA in hospitals with its terrible antibiotic resistance has been found to be markedly helped by taking monolaurin in addition to vancomycin (in lab rats). Mortality dropped from some 88% to about 40% when monolaurin was added. That's quite a benefit.
But let's talk autoimmune (AI) illnesses. Here is a Gordian knot that we have a terrible time controlling. What is the most common autoimmune illness? If you consider eczema to be an autoimmune illness, that's it! Some 25% of children and 10% of adults have it compared to Rheumatoid Arthritis, the "most common" mainline AI disease. You can treat eczema with a new antibody (dupilumab) targeting IL-4 and IL-13, two inflammatory cytokines meant to attack bacteria and viruses but get mistakenly turned on to attack your skin. When you give folks with eczema dupilumab, eczema gets better and the genes that are turned on in eczema get turned off. Magic. Works. Expensive.
Did you know you might get the same effect with monolaurin? There is precious little published research so I'm going on single-author and personal experience. I've had several clients spontaneously report to me that monolaurin helped their eczema. "When I take it, it goes away! When I stop, it comes back." The stuff is way too cheap. It will never be funded for research in our current medical world. What I suspect is going on is that the secondary skin infections that occur with eczema have staph and strep bacteria in them. Two forces at work. The monolaurin probably inhibits the bacterial infections enough to be helpful. And the emollient quality of the oil increases the skin moisture and decreases skin cracking and opening up to allow bacterial invasion. That's my hypothesis. And support for that might be from its activity against candida as well. In that study, IL-1, another inflammatory cytokine was shown to be markedly downregulated with monolaurin.
Dr. Jon Kabara has been the inventor and chief promulgator or monolaurin and sells it under the label Lauricidin. His list of testimonials on his web site is about as good as you can get to see folks detailing how it has helped their skin. Of note, this is the classical unresearched scenario with only high-pressure testimonials and no randomized controlled trial. But with a compound that is GRAS (generally recognized as safe) with exceedingly rare allergy or toxicity, trying it isn't so awful for you.
WWW. What will work for me. I was so startled by my client who had such an amazing response to it, I wanted to read more. I get the conundrum of no research, but for the obvious reason that it's way, way, way too cheap. There isn't enough money in it. And there is a reasonable biochemical hint in some research that there are plausible reasons for how it might work. I had a horrible skin infection on my knees with dozens of abscesses back in the 1950s in India. I suspect monolaurin would have helped that. That would possibly be called erysipelas today. I remember as a 6-year-old in boarding school in India treating it with daily Mercurachrome (iodine). Yuck. Glad that's over.
1. What is monolaurin? Answer: Simple combination of the 10 carbon chain called lauric acid that comprises 50% of coconut fat with glycerin.
2. Can you make it naturally? Answer: Well yes. It's in mother's breast milk, in tiny amounts.
3. Is there any research on it to explain how it might work? Answer: A few tiny studies that show some modest effect in rats.
4. And, anything else? Answer: Well, yes. Monolaurin appears to help prevent candida and has been shown to down-regulate a variety of inflammatory cytokines.
5. Where can I get it if I want to give it a whirl? Answer: Look up Lauricidin and buy it from the original developer of it. Or from any of 100 other sellers. I suspect you have to try the dose that works for you. And I would love to hear your story of how it helped you.
Melanotan II -Get a Really SEXY Tan
Melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH) is what makes you tan. Nifty, huh? Can you imagine tanning without the sunburn? It turns out MSH has a ton of other features, like all hormones, that are even more important than tanning. It plays a critical role in gut integrity, chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, and CIRS (Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome). This shouldn't be surprising as all these molecules come from chopping up POMC (proopiomelanocortin) in the pituitary in one piece or another. There are some 17 pituitary hormones that come out of POMC, depending on what pieces it is cleaved into and where it is made. Altering POMC's pieces for variable effects has been a hot topic since the 1960s. Tanning is just one.
With that in mind, tanning would be a nice effect, if you could control it. Researchers at the University of Arizona, trying to accomplish that, embarked on trying to get the tanning component isolated. They basically abandoned the idea in 2002 as there were too many "adverse" side effects: nausea, moles instead of tan, yawning, and stretching. But in the meantime, rats given it in the lab demonstrated increased sexual activity. One of the researchers gave himself a dose (and made a dosing error, getting a double dose) and had a subsequent 8-hour erection. Really!
With that discovery, various companies fought over patent rights but a company called Palatin has emerged with a slightly altered fragment called bremelanotide. It has been FDA approved for female sexual arousal disorder under the brand name Vyleesi. It is now the first drug on the market aimed at women. It is the same thing as PT-141, used in men for erectile difficulty and available from many peptide houses that make it in various forms. Recent interest in intranasal administration makes it much easier to take than an injection. But all forms do have some dosing issues with nausea being an issue with some folks. Injections can be altered in amount whereas a nasal spray is trickier to alter.
But what about the tanning? It doesn't take too much time on Google to find images of folks who have taken "too much melanotan II" to think perhaps that isn't a good idea. No commercial company will touch it, for all those reasons.
But various peptide houses still sell it as a sexual enhancer. And if you don't get nauseated too much, and you can stand the stretching and yawning feeling, it works. Men do get erections from it that nothing else appears to provide. Is it a nitch compound that can be used safely? I would advise against it. You are messing with your "gearbox" when you stimulate all those receptors the POMC system plugs into. The long term effects are just a little too unknown.
But isn't it nice to have a nice, flakey topic in the middle of a pandemic, election chaos, social angst, and general, all-around stress? It's a hard time. We need Arlo Guthrie to sing, "Hard Times Come Again No More." Listen to that as my take away. Music and art are good for your soul.
www.What will work for me. I see my dermatologist enough to not want any more moles or skin disorders. I don't need to tan. And it sounds like the PT-141 version is a safer product for men and women. The nasal administration form only comes in one dose and is more difficult to alter for those who get nausea as a side effect. We all need human touch and "skin-time" in these Hard Times. Let's get through them, with some kindness and tolerance for one another.
1. What is Melanotan II? Answer: The original fragment of MSH that was initially researched, trying to find "tanning with a shot" instead of sunlight.
2. Did it work? Answer: yes, but variably with too many side effects.
3. What were the side effects? Answer: Irregular tanning with the emergence of extra moles, nausea, stretching and yawning.
4. Does it work on anything else? Answer: Well yes: it induces an increase in sexual desire in men and women.
5. Is there a safer alternative? Answer: Yes. Bremelanotide or PT-141 is on the market as Vyleesi and works on sexual desire in men and women. Vyleesi doesn't make you tan. It works centrally and allegedly doubles the likelihood of a satisfactory response.
Eyeglasses Protect you from Getting COVID-19
If you haven't heard this on the news, you might enjoy the concept. A study of 300 Chinese admitted with COVID in Wuhan found that only 16 wore eyeglasses whereas some 31% of the population there have severe myopia (very common in China) and need eyeglasses. If every group of the population had equal risk, one would have expected roughly 100 folks in the cohort. That suggests an 80%, roughly, reduction of risk by wearing eyeglasses. That's huge.
But is it real and should I go out and buy eye-protection? The limits of the study are that it was observational, not prospective. (Bless the heart of the lowly ward technician whose responsibility it was to inventory patients' possessions and made the observation.). And, the researchers used data from population studies in the area to come up with their 31% having myopia. They didn't check the vision of all the patients admitted. Ok, point taken.
What does this speak to? Here is my take on the implications. I believe this is another piece of evidence that the primary mode of infection is airborne particles, whether they be droplets that fall to the ground in a minute or two (sneeze or cough) or aerosolized tiny particles (talking, singing) that float around a little longer. Either one will do it. Which is the worst has huge implications for the safety of health care workers as it takes a MUCH higher level of protection to guard against the aerosolized particles. There have been many nurse protests about lack of adequate PPE for that reason. And there have been many deaths of health workers to support that fight.
What isn't said in the article is that there is less and less evidence that COVID-19 is primarily spread by contact with surfaces. On a dry surface, the airborne particle, which is primarily water, dries out. When it is dry, the 10,000 virus particles desiccate and fall apart. They stop being infectious. It hasn't been extensively studied, but surface contamination is not the primary means of spread. Cardboard, paper, cloth, your paper mail are all forms of dry, water-absorbing surfaces.
Your eyes are moist and wet. They drain right into your nose through your tear ducts. Your nose has lots of receptors for the virus to bind to and get its lifestyle started.
WWW. What will work for me? I naturally wear glasses. The study considered that folks who wore glasses more than 8 hours a day were in the safer group compared to less use of glasses. If I didn't have glasses, with this evidence, I would try and ramp up my use of dark glasses when out in public. I am making a real effort to keep my hands off my face and my eyes, something difficult to do in ragweed season when my eyes itch. I'm better at taking an antihistamine just to control the itching for these few weeks. Would I advise you to wear glasses indoors when outside of your own home? I would. It's not that hard to do. I still take wipes with me into public restrooms and use hand sanitizer when I touch surfaces. I've stopped wiping my mail or making my packages sit outside for a day. I do wear a mask when I leave my home, but only when within 30 feet of people or in closed buildings.
1. What did this study show? Answer: In Wuhan, China a group of 300 patients had an 80% underrepresentation of COVID in eyeglass wearers.
2. Was the study constructed in a fashion to consider good, reliable medical evidence? Answer: No. It was observational, not prospective, vision was measured to see who needed eyeglasses and the incidence of eyeglasses was projected from prior, earlier studies of the population. Still, not bad.
3. What are the "implications" of this study, not yet supported by hard science. Answer: Another piece of the puzzle that supports the primary spread is moist, water-laden particles floating in the air that hit your moist eye, or nose or mouth when you breath in air contaminated with the COVID-19 from someone else.
4. Can a person make tiny droplets when just speaking? Answer: Yup.
5. When do you spray out even more particles? Answer: Singing, shouting, speaking loudly. Amp it up with coughing and sneezing.
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