Many of you reading this are familiar with the concept of “leaky gut”. For the benefit of those that are new to the subject, our intestinal epithelium lining strictly controls what gets absorbed into the bloodstream and what does not pass. This function is known as intestinal barrier function, and the columnar cells making up the gut lining include “gates” that are modulated by the molecules Zonulin and Occludin, which alter gate function. When the gut is inflamed and the microbiome is imbalanced, the gut becomes more permeable, allowing the absorption of food molecules (triggering food sensitivity immune reactions) and pieces of bacterial proteins known as LipoPolySaccharides (LPS, which triggers systemic inflammation ).
This most recently published research study found that Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus organisms produced secretions that prevent this process quite directly!
What should you do to help grow more Bifido and Lacto?
Meditate and practice Yoga or something similar, or learn Wim Hof’s breathing and autonomic exercises (go ahead, Google it…very interesting individual!)
Fermented foods, such as http://astonesthrowtohealth.com or coconut Kefir, fermented oatmeal which are earlier in this Blog
Work at sleeping better, preferably 9 hours a night (really)
Prebiotics: Arabinogalactan (available here:
Here’s some quick food for thought: isn’t it funny that we consider MSG a bad thing (due to it being monosodium glutamate, and glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter), and many people have problems with it-yet the two most beneficial gut symbionts we know of actually consume MSG and metabolize it into GABA, which is the brain neurotransmitter that is calming and inhibitory…almost like MSG sensitivity could be a marker for poor levels of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, isn’t it? And, people sensitive to MSG often have problems with excitotoxicity, where the brain is overstimulated by the MSG. Almost like? yes, not enough inhibitory GABA. hmmm.
It appears that the microbiome’s ability to help fight cancer is being recognized. This study identifies weaknesses in current cancer care protocols, pointing out that chemotherapy and antibiotics diminish the microbiome, and that the microbiome increases immune response to cancer cells. So, really, part of cancer care should be building up the microbiome. Just an example of one of those times that the most advanced science proved the need for ancient practices 🙂 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24832470
Branched Chain Amino Acids, BCAA’s, are a common addition to the diet for bodybuilders and athletes. Here’s a new research study, published this month, that shows BCAA’s help change your gut bacteria. Specifically, the encourage more Bifidobacteria (which boosts immune function but lowers inflammation) and Akkermansia (which helps build lean muscle mass and reduce fat). As there is much research now connecting aging with inflammation, even calling it “inflammaging”, these are both great things. It’s also somewhat of a departure from the thought of usng probiotics and prebiotics to modulate the gut bacteria, adding amino acids to our microbiome toolbox!
Most of us should be familiar with the disease known as Parkinson’s Disease, which ruins countless lives by creating a movement disorder characterized by shaking type of movements. It leads to difficulty moving at all, and in late stages the most common treatments lead to dyskinesthia which is a type of writhing uncontrolled movement. Without detailing the actual nerve pathways, part of the problem is neurodegeneration in a part of the brain called the basal ganglia, in an area known as the Substantia Nigra. When this area is overtaxed and inflamed, a process known as oxidative stress occurs, damaging neurons and created neurofibrous “tangles” known as α-synuclein aggregations.
There is a great deal of research that has been done to detail some natural ingredients that can be used to either prevent, or help treat Parkinson’s. These can sometimes reduce the amount of medication needed, and postpone the onset of dyskinesthia. In some cases successful treatment has occurred and symptoms are gone. The major “theme” of treatment with natural products is to reduce inflammation, block oxidative stress, and promote healthy metabolism in those neuronal cells.
Curcumin is an extract of turmeric, and contains 95% curcuminoids-the active ingredient. This makes it 19 times stronger than turmeric, which only contains 5%. Curcumin has been found to block inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, rescue nerve cells that have been affected, and even to reverse the accumulation of α-synuclein in the brain. I’ve attached a little over two dozen peer-reviewed studies about curcumin and Parkinson’s in the Bibliography. Curcumin is best taken before a meal, and with a tablespoon of coconut oil which boosts absorption and is good for the brain as well.
Another useful herb is Skullcap, Scuttelaria baikalensis, which contains the ingredient Baicalein. This has also been extensively studied for use in treating and reversing some of the effects of Parkinson’s, and is a very promising herb. Note that there aren’t any studies that look at what would happen if you use this AND curcumin, but you can imagine that it should work even better as they do not function through the same mechanisms.
The last strategy I’d like to mention is gut bacteria optimization. As I wrote an entire book about gut bacteria (The Symbiont Factor) I’ll try to be brief. Our gut bacteria wield a big influence on brain and immune function, helping to both tone and control immune function and regulate both the production of neurotransmitters and the sensitivity of neurotransmitter receptor sites in the brain. An imbalance of gut bacteria, which can be assessed with a uBiome.com gut bacteria census, can create functional changes that make the brain less efficient and more inflamed. This sets the stage for Parkinson’s, as neuroinflammation is a required building block of this disease.
Now, you might ask yourselves why this information is not more well known in the Parkinson’s world…it doesn’t actually even appear on the National Parkinson’s Foundation website although many less effective interventions are mentioned. This is because, simply, much of the research is done in search of new drugs to create by copying the action of useful herbs and natural processes. This is one way that companies explore for new drugs that can be patented. The real question is why we would wait for that, when the research shows these natural substances to be quite effective in lab and animal models. Of course, double-blind trials on humans will not be performed until drug candidates are created…so don’t look for the final proof of natural substances, because these trials are very expensive and are only carried out when a candidate drug ($$$) is being evaluated. In other words, follow the money!
The Symbiont Factor: http://tinyurl.com/z5568ct
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I have been recommending curcumin for years, because of the huge number of research studies demonstrating its power to reduce inflammation, block oxidative stress, and inhibit or kill cancer (and other great benefits!) Lately there has been an explosion of supplements labeled as “turmeric curcumin” or “curcumin complex”. This is about like trying to buy pure cranberry juice. If you see “cranberry juice cocktail” or “cranberry drink” or “cranberry juice beverage”, what does it tell you? Right-it’s mostly apple juice or some other inexpensive juice, with enough of the cranberry juice to flavor it!
The same thing applies to curcumin. I have recommended it to several patients recently, who then tell me a couple weeks later that it didn’t help them. When I ask about the brand and details, it’s one of those labeling bait-and-switch schemes all over. Often the label reads “turmeric curcumin” which really doesn’t mean much, as they are two separate products…which is it? or “turmeric curcumin complex”…
The active, desired ingredient is Curcumin. Turmeric, the spice, is quite inexpensive but only contains typically 5% curcumin. Pure curcumin is most often 95% curcumin, and costs much much more. So, when the label explains that the product contains 450 mg of Turmeric, and 50 mg of curcumin, you can easily see that you’re getting basically ripped off because they’re cutting the good stuff 9:1 with the inexpensive less effective stuff! Then, of course, it doesn’t work as well, because you can’t take enough. I often recommend 6 capsules per day for a very inflamed patient (someone with Lyme disease, for example). That’s 6, 500mg capsules at 95%, or 2850 mg of actual curcumin. If those capsules are 450/50 as in the above example, that’s only 70mg of curcumin in each 500 mg capsule. To get the same effect as 2850 mg of pure curcumin, you’d have to consume over 40 of those capsules, instead of 6 when it’s 95% curcumin!
So, make sure that you get what you’re paying for-real 95% curcumin. There isn’t a “bioavailability problem” as some manufacturers of blends state. It’s a fat soluble substance, so chase your capsules with a spoon of coconut oil. It’s also alcohol soluble…well, I won’t go there just yet!