Neuroexcitotoxicity #5: Brain Diseases

June 21, 2010

Neuroexcitotoxicity #5:  Brain Diseases 

 Competency Brain Health Reference Russell Blaylock and the Taste that Kills, CDC Tables on Disease Incidence 

What is it with glutamate and brain diseases?  Well, we are stepping off the cliff of solid science into conjecture and possibility, but follow the thread of logic here with me and see if it makes sense to you.  First of all, you have to look at the epidemiology of Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS.  Those diseases have been increasing in America at a much higher rate than at which we are getting older.  Did you know that in age and income matched groups in India, there is an 80% lower rate of Alzheimer’s?  80%!  It’s not an inevitable disease of aging.  You can avoid it.  It’s something to do with our environment. CDC data shows Alzheimer’s to have increased from 5 to 105 per 1,000,000 lives in the last 30 years.  Ouch!  What’s going on? 

CDC data show Parkinson’s has gone from 20 per 100.000 population in 1979 to 61 per 1,000,000 in 1998.  That’s a three-fold increase.  Alarmed!  You should be! Here is the best logic we know in summary that Dr. Blaylock presents in his book.  We do have evidence that folks with Alzheimer’s have brains that consume more glucose.  The normal brain already soaks up 25% of your glucose.  An Alzheimer’s brain soaks up more.  We also know the blood-brain barrier breaks down as we age.  We also know that MSG is kept out by the blood-brain barrier.  We know that in a petri dish, brain cells from the parts of our brain that show Alzheimer’s effects get the same tangles of proteins Alzheimer’s patients show. The conjecture that would match the epidemiology would be as follows.  A person with a vulnerable brain because of a genetically higher energy need becomes slightly low in blood sugar, their blood-brain barrier breaks down a little, a little more glutamate gets in, the brain cells get a bit more stressed and turn on the NMDA receptors.  Calcium floods in and the cell dies.  

Low level, long-term MSG will be impossible to finger, but the shoe fits.  It’s a food we’ve never had before and its use matches this disease. Parkinson’s is a bit different, but not much.  Again, an energy-in-the-brain issue.  We know that you have to have 90% of the cells in your substantia nigra to be dead before you have Parkinson’s symptoms.  Many Americans have a substantial proportion of cells damaged in their substantia nigra when they die, without any symptoms of Parkinson’s – so damage is happening to the whole population.  Again, just vulnerable folks show the disease, but more would if they lived longer.  And again, the cells being affected are glutamate firing cells. These are diseases of our modern era, and possibly completely avoidable.  But I can’t wait for pure science to be certain.  Lifestyle changes over many years are the key to prevention if there is to be one. 

 WWW: What will work for me.  This is personal.  I have had family members with Parkinson’s and ALS.  I am avoiding glutamate and all its cousins hereto forward. I’m reading can labels and not drinking diet soda.  For a sweetener, just Stevia.  I haven’t got twenty years to wait for pure data.  This is something I can do for me, today.

Column written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI (262-784-5300