Archive for June, 2019

Massively Misunderstood Mineral

Let me first get your attention with this shocking well-kept secret: Researchers studied the drinking water in 27 Texas counties. As reported in an excellent 2014 New York Times article entitled Should We All Take a Bit of Lithium?, the study demonstrated that “people whose water had the least amount of lithium had significantly greater levels of suicide, homicide and rape than the people whose water had the higher levels of lithium.” In fact, “The group whose water had the highest lithium level had nearly 40 percent fewer suicides than that with the lowest lithium level.” More recent studies in Greece, Austria and Chile confirm the findings. A confirming Japanese study also noticed lower levels of “all-cause mortality” in the water with more lithium (!!! Egad, that was in 1990 and yet we still adulterate tap water with disease-causing fluoride but fail to see if the lithium is in a healthful range!!!) Recent research is investigating lithium for improving mood and the prevention of dementia. If you are interested in drinking water with known amounts of lithium and a big consumer following, consider Crazy Water.

Most folks only know lithium in connection with batteries (i.e the type the airlines don’t allow in checked luggage). The fact that every organ and tissue in the human body contains some lithium doesn’t seem known even by most nutritionists and psychiatrists. Lithium should apparently be classified as an essential trace element nutrient. 

History. The use of lithium to improve health goes back at least two thousand years and is a key factor in many well-known healing springs. I was surprised to learn that the soft drink 7-Up contained lithium until 1950 because it made people feel better. (Surely that’s a better deal than when Coca Cola contained cocaine.) In 1908, you could buy pills with lithium from the Sears & Roebuck catalog.

Other benefits. It isn’t surprising that there has been such interest in the past and in pockets of current research. Studies show that lithium is especially important for brain health and memory and has even been shown to reduce mental decline in Alzheimer’s patients.* It has also shown improvement in neurodegenerative diseases and in children with intellectual disabilities. Low doses of the mineral are being studied for anti-aging benefit, various mood issues, ADHD, alcoholism (with the supplement lithium orotate) and as an adjunct in cancer chemotherapy treatment. Animal studies show benefit for osteoporosis and seizures.

How does lithium work? As with most minerals, there are probably multiple effects, but lithium hasn’t really been taken seriously as a nutrient, so comparatively little research has been done on its mechanisms. From what I gather, it helps the growth and stability of nerve fibers and reduces damage to nerve tissue caused by stress. In one study, brain scans found that patients taking medically-prescribed lithium for mood problems, gained more gray matter in their brains compared to controls! Other theories are that lithium helps protect against damage from the heavy metal cadmium and that it may help transport and distribute vitamin B12

Sources. Our major source of lithium intake is from drinking water. (The photo at the top is how it is “mined” from briny water.) But, as the studies above showed, not all tap water is a good source. Lithium is found in very low amounts in foods such as lentils, beans and peas. Even lower amounts are contained in tomatoes, mushrooms, cucumbers, cabbage and cauliflower. However, it can take extra effort to restore lithium balance when things have become seriously out of kilter as is the case with bipolar disorder, other mental issues and probably addictions. The most potent variety of Crazy Water contains less than 1 milligram per liter – .017 mg to be exact (plus other minerals). Nutritional supplements of lithium orotate are usually around 5 mg.  As a prescription medication, lithium doses can range from 150 mg to as much as 600 mg and therefore, obviously, must be calibrated and monitored by a physician because there can be very serious side effects with lithium overdose.

Why don’t we hear more about lithium? That appears to be because when the mineral became associated with its use as a drug for bipolar disorder, the nutrition community and the public were either frightened off or just forgot about the other uses. Of course, we can’t expect any interest in publicizing it by the pharmaceutical industry because even the drug version is cheap and sold by several companies.

*For anyone dealing with mental decline, in addition to considering a lithium source, I’d recommend what Bill Sardi taught us, vitamin B1 in the benfotiamine form at 150-300 mg. (Take away from coffee, alcohol, sugars or other B vitamins. See last week’s blog.) The same goes for traumatic brain injury, stroke recovery, migraines, anxiety and other brain issues. For all these reasons, please investigate the Brain Light Pro.

Save your eyes, brain and…

Save your eyes, brain…and much, much more. When an imbalance is repaired at a very basic level, we can expect improvements all over the body. On the show last week, Bill Sardi discussed his report on a book by Derrick Lonsdale, MD which explained the crucial role of thiamine also known as vitamin B1. (I will use the terms interchangeably.) The information was so powerful that I was considering doing a summary. Then, this week Mr. Sardi wrote an excellent follow up piece on the same nutrient—in this case about its use for for the prevention of eye diseases. Both of those articles go into detail and provide many scientific references. Frankly, as much for my benefit as much as yours, I am creating this simple review of the often forgotten, underappreciated, humble but mighty vitamin B1.

Why you should care: For one thing, an oil soluble form of B1 (benfotiamine) is performing better in studies to treat Alzheimer’s than any medication has! You should also care about thiamine if you or someone in your family has issues with one or more of these: abnormal heart beats (or atrial fibrillation), anxiety, ataxia (appear to be drunk, slurred speech, stumbling), blood pressure low, calf muscle cramps, diabetes, constipation, depression, eating too little, eating too much, eyelid constriction, glaucoma, hives, intolerance to cold or hot temperatures, lack of appetite (anorexia), macular degeneration, memory loss, moodiness, nausea (especially during pregnancy), post-vaccine problems, pseudo angina (chest pain) upon exertion, ringing in the ears, salt craving (can be low zinc), sensitivity to light or noise, sleeping too little, sleeping too much, sneezing, stuttering, sweating excessively, or throat spasms. There are a lot (perhaps hundreds) of conditions of the heart, lungs, eyes and brain diagnosed as a “disease” that should instead probably be identified as vitamin B1 insufficiency.

How can B1 have so many effects? The reason I used the bunny graphic is because thiamine helps assure that the power supplies in our cells (our batteries, the mitochondria) have sufficient energy. For that reason alone it is hard to imagine a system or organ that wouldn’t suffer if we were low in B1. Our autonomic nervous system also depends on it. What’s that you say? It is the system that works automatically behind the scenes without your conscious direction. Bill Sardi noted that it is the system that “regulates heart rate, respiratory rate, pupil response (eye), urination, digestion and bowel movements, blood pressure and body temperature as well as tear, saliva and sweat production.” If our autonomic nervous system is not sufficiently supported with thiamine, we over react to even minor stressors.

Thiamine is critical to help hemoglobin, the red pigment in red blood cells, pick up oxygen and transport it where it is needed. Many eye diseases (e.g. glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration) are known as being caused by low oxygen. As further evidence, sleep apnea makes macular degeneration worse, while hyperbaric oxygen treatments make it better. It sure couldn’t hurt to take B1 for any of those eye problems. Lack of proper oxygenation also affects chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), dementia and angina. Vitamin B1 even helps some of our beneficial gut bacteria.

Insufficiency versus deficiency. Long-term inadequate levels of thiamine (B1) result in a deficiency disease, beriberi. But some of the tissues discussed above are delicate and may struggle long before the body as a whole would show the deficiency.

Why would we be low in B1? Persons who eat beef, liver, beans, nuts and rice will be getting some. However, the American diet contains a lot of refined sugars and processed carbohydrates that block thiamine (B1) absorption.  Alcohol,  tea and coffee also interfere. Many drugs interfere. Arsenic contamination in the food supply (e.g. from glyphosate weed killer, Roundup) also block thiamine. Even dietary supplements with polyphenols (like resveratrol, quercetin, cinnamon) if taken at the same time can interfere. (Longevinex has been shown to be therapeutic for macular degeneration.) Folks might not be able to properly use B1 if they are low in the mineral magnesium.

What to do. Thiamine is poorly absorbed. The fat soluble form (e.g. Benfotiamine) is six times more biologically available! So take that kind. (Allithiamine is a rarer form that is particularly known to cross the blood brain barrier.) The only multivitamin containing those is Molecular Multi. If you are struggling with some of the complaints listed above, buy some separate benfotiamine and take it at a different time of day than other supplements like Longevinex. I take mine mid-afternoon. Standard supplement dose is 150 mg. but 300 mg is available. (Examples below.) That’s fine because only a small amount is absorbed.Don’t bother getting a blood test. They are expensive, do not show what is in storage and change daily.            

Bill Sardi’s article on macular degeneration gives the details of the eye diseases and citations. Give a copy to your eye doctor.

In the News

  • Do you want antibiotics with that? Consumer reports wants you to tell Wendy’s restaurants to lay off the antibiotics in their meat. As I point out in The Probiotic Cure, this is critically important because overuse of antibiotics in food production increases the risk of passing along antibiotic resistant bacteria. Also, other bacteria can pick up those resistance genes. Antibiotics might not be effective when we desperately need them. Besides, hints of antibiotics in food find their way into our digestive tract and damage our crucial friendly bacteria. Please sign the petition.
  • Vitamin D dose and colon cancer survival. It has been a pet peeve of mine that studies sometimes report a lack of benefit from vitamin D when they were only using a tiny dose or using low blood levels as the norm. Now a small but important study found a 36% survival improvement in those on high dose vitamin D compared to 400 IU. The “high dose” was 8,000 for 2 weeks and 4,000 IU thereafter. I’m positive the results would have been even more dramatic if they had stuck with the 8,000 IU or even 10,000. Read more.
  • New insight into iron as cause of disease and an aging factor. Bill Sardi has long warned us that excess iron storage is a risk factor for heart disease, other diseases, DNA damage and early aging. That is because it is an “oxidant”. We take “anti-oxidants” to protect ourselves from those toxins. Low iron, anemia, can happen to malnourished individuals, women because they lose blood monthly and to those with bleeding ulcers. However, more often, men and post-menopausal women can store too much. That can be measured as “ferratin” but that is not on the typical blood panel. Mr. Sardi found this journal article which points out that we may be better off in the lower range of what the tests call “normal”. To help, we are advised to avoid supplements that contain iron and reduce consumption of red meat. Donating blood also helps as does the supplement IP6 from rice bran. The old timey Geritol tonic contained 50 to 100 mg of iron, a few B’s and alcohol. Now it only contains 18 mg. I wonder if they were ever sued for promoting it for energy without regard to a person’s iron level? Also, Geritol junior used to have the same amount of iron. That seems kind of crazy. Iron poisoning of children is a major risk and was a major reason childproof caps are required on supplements containing iron.
  • Clue to mysterious race horse deaths. Last week, because of the chemical’s effect on bone, I asked Dr. David Kennedy, DDS if he thought that fluoride in local tap water might be a factor in the shocking number of recent race horse fatalities in California. He thought that was likely. Research is ongoing. This is a paper called “Racehorse Breakdown and Artificially Fluoridated Water In Los Angeles.” This is another article with case studies discussed on our show.

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