Monday, December 27, 2010

Premenstrual Syndrome

It is estimated that about half of the women in the U.S. capable of giving birth suffer from the scourge of PMS. It is regarded usually as a gynecological disorder and most sufferers wind up with the birth control pill. I want to explain why this condition fits the disease model that I have already described in a previous blog post.
Those that have read it know that the bunch of glands that come under the heading of the endocrine system are activated by the LS (limbic system) that is described as a computer. The LS has within it at least two time clocks. One rotates on a 24-hour basis and is called circadian rhythm. Circadian means “about 24 hours” and it is interesting to note that this rhythm without time cues is actually a 25-hour rhythm. It was proved by shutting a volunteer subject in a room without any clock and depriving him of the day/night cycle. Thus he had no clues as to whether it was night or day. I simply asked myself the question “why”? The intuitive answer is that we were programmed with a 25-hour rhythm and born into a 24-hour world. It strongly suggests that we have to compress that rhythm by adapting to the day/night cycle, an evolutionary phenomenon, perhaps of great importance as we live in this 24-hour world. It is as though Mother Nature has created a system to which we must continuously adapt throughout life. If not, then it gets out of sync and our body systems receive inappropriate signals.
The other known cycle is the menstrual cycle and it is an extremely important one since it is the “procreative mechanism” that prepares a woman for conception. Then, by hormonal control, it presides over the ensuing pregnancy. Its normal rhythm is 28 days, counting from the first day of the “period”. As everyone knows, the first sign of pregnancy is “missing a period”. This cycle has some curious features. For example, it is known that if women are living together in a dormitory, they begin to have their periods at the same time. I have often wondered, as I am sure others have, whether the 28-day moon cycle and the menstrual cycle are the same by coincidence or whether there is actually a cause and effect relationship. It would be curious if men do not have a 28-day cycle but they have nothing to show for it. Perhaps in some men it is responsible for emotional cycles that are considered usually to be “the reason that Dad gets grumpy periodically for no obvious cause”!
This cycle, governed by the LS, controls the release of hormones from the appropriate glands in the endocrine system. During the first half of the cycle estrogen increases and is withdraw at the 14th day when ovulation occurs. In the second half progesterone increases and is withdrawn when the period occurs. Thus, in the week before the period occurs, the LS is “working like a one-armed paper hanger”.
It is compromised function of the LS computer that is the cause of PMS and if a person reading this has become aware of the previous posts it will begin to make sense. The birth control pill shuts off the biofeedback system that is required for the LS to recognize and control the various hormonal changes over which it presides. It does work but is inappropriate to relieving the basic cause. It is as though the hormone is telling the LS that it is “no longer in charge” and it silences its controlling influences.
We can now begin to see that chocolate, sweet and salt craving are very much part of the whole picture because they are causing the problem and MUST be controlled. Why are they causing it? Because they provide inappropriate input signals to the computer as well as producing changes in oxygen use in the cells that are collectively responsible for the computerized program of the cycle.
As I have indicated previously, the computer becomes much more irritable and since the LS is responsible for our emotions, it is not surprising that one of the major symptoms of PMS is emotional lability. Husbands sometimes arrange their golf games during this week because they know that their wives are “difficult” at this time. The ensuing cramps are because of abnormal control signals to the uterus and there is often inflammation of the egg releasing mechanism at mid cycle. So left/right monthly alternating abdominal pain is experienced as the egg pops out of the ovary. This has been called “mittelschmertz”, a German word meaning “middle pain”. The release of an egg is from the left ovary alternating with the right with each successive period. Sometimes the inflammation affects only one side and the patient describes the fact that she gets this pain on that side only and with every other period cycle.
Because the autonomic nervous system is also controlled by the LS there may be associated heart palpitations, or diarrhea because of an irritable bowel. Sometimes there is excessive sweating or major changes in appetite from being voracious or diminished and the sweet craving is very hard to control in some individuals. It is important to understand that ALL the symptoms come from the faulty signals that go to the body organs.
What then is the treatment? The first one that I advise, always with extreme emphasis, is to stop taking the sweets, particularly when the craving occurs. That is often easier said than done but it is entirely useless to take vitamin supplements unless this is done “cold turkey”
Sometimes, just this effort and a hard look at appropriate diet is sufficient but nutrient supplements are usually required and should be chosen by a physician who understands the causative factors. It is well to remember that what I call “God-made” food is the only food that should be ingested. If there had been no naturally occurring food when we arrived on Earth, we could not have survived as a species. It is still the same today and the avoidance of “man-made” food is a necessity, particularly those that are sweet or salty. I always ask a salt-craving PMS patient how she solves it and the answer usually is pretzels. Coffee is also another cause and the number of cups ingested is irrelevant in those that are sensitive to caffeine. It has been suggested (erroneously) that we should all be taking 7 or 8 cups of coffee a day “because of the antioxidants that it contains”. Although this fact is true, it is far outweighed by the undesirable effects of caffeine. Caffeine stimulates brain cells to work and it may cause consumption of energy that the individual can ill afford. It gives us the false impression that it is providing energy because of the sense of stimulation. The reason that so many people drink coffee in the morning is because they are extremely fatigued. They are unfortunately adding to the problem because their fatigue is due to loss of efficiency in the energy required to make their brain cells function properly. They are being misled by the temporary disappearance of their fatigue. Just like any “recreational” drug, stopping it causes withdrawal headache that is assuaged by taking more coffee. It often contributes to the symptoms associated with PMS

Saturday, December 11, 2010


:I have discussed the principles of high calorie malnutrition in reference to oxidation and I want now to put it into practical use. The future of medicine lies in knowing and understanding body chemistry and its relationship with electricity, already referred to as “energy medicine”. Children are my favorite patients and I have seen thousands. I was a pediatric oncologist for about 6 years and many people are not aware of the fact that children get malignant disease. I have long questioned whether poor diet has anything to do with such tragedy. However, much more commonly, I found myself confronted many years ago with children who were brought for emotional and behavioral disease. The accepted cause was “bad parenting” so I would try to discuss the approach of the parents in viewing the cause. I found little or no evidence of it in nearly every case. Some may remember that autism was once considered to be a psychological problem induced by “cold parenting” and that has now been properly debunked. Of course there is bad parenting and I have also had considerable experience with child abuse, but behavioral issues are so common that they could be seen as an epidemic, for which it was very hard to see as poor parenting. I have talked to teachers that have told me that when they first went into teaching there were very few, if any, children in the class that were disruptive, inattentive or exhibited bad behavior. In their recent experience they complained that there were many such children in their class. In some cases the children were lining up to receive their medication. Some may remember that the country actually ran out of the drug Ritalin, commonly used to “slow down” this kind of bad behavior. It has been suggested that it is due to “over-diagnosing what is really normal childhood behavior”. However, many of the children that I have seen are quite impossible to examine in the usual way. In fact, I have often told parents that my examination of their child is measured by how quickly he/she wrecks the consulting room.
There was very little to go on but I started looking at the diet of children and it became more than obvious that it contained a huge amount of tasty things that are now referred to as “junk”. Early in this experience I can distinctly remember several cases that stand out. I told the mother of a little hyperactive girl to stop giving her all forms of “sweet junk” and she quickly became normal. She was so impressed that she did the same for the girl’s sister with the same result. The trouble is that we allow children ad lib access to many kinds of sweet tasting “junk” and when a physician tells a parent that it is the basic cause of the child’s behavior, it is inevitable that credibility is stretched.
Way back in the middle of the last century Dr Yudkin, a professor at one of the big London hospitals in England had written a book entitled “Sugar is dangerous” and a few brave souls had suggested that sugar was the culprit in producing increased cholesterol in the blood. Of course, they were generally considered to be “crazy” and the development of research had already gone deeply into cholesterol as the “bad guy” related to fat intake. Anyway, I found that a sugar free diet in these hyperactive, attention deficit kids produced normal health and a return of “old fashioned” good behavior. Because of the relation of sugar with vitamin B1, I also found that nearly all of these children were vitamin B1 deficient. A supplement of this vitamin became a necessity, although never administered alone since vitamins all work together in a complex team association. One adolescent boy who was ingesting huge amounts of cola had dived through a plate glass window after he had been reprimanded by a parent. That he had cut himself badly in the process was an added complication. Massive temper tantrums in children that should long have grown out of such infantile behavior were common as were school complaints of class disruption. Another boy was “passing out” when urinating, a phenomenon known as bladder syncope.
A young athlete was a mile runner. He would get half way around the track and peel off to vomit, before resuming the remaining part of the run. A “vomiting center” in the lower part of the brain is the mechanism that controls this reflex. The exercise stress imposed an energy deficit in the “brain computer” that stimulated this reflex. Compromised oxidative metabolism in the boy’s brain, brought on entirely by the nature of his diet, had stimulated a reflex that is always associated in our collective minds with the stomach.
Later he started basket ball practice but found that he was too fatigued to continue.
In each of these cases the diet was appalling and its correction, together with a few supplements was followed by successful return of mental and physical health. Usually, good students are also good athletes for the body/mind connection is all important. Perhaps the saddest one was a girl who was training for competitive swimming. One day, she reached the end of the pool and stopped there. She was found to be dead. Her brother, also a food “junkie” was climbing down from a rope in the gym and collapsed. He was rushed into a hospital where he received glucose saline intravenously. He had 11 blood stained bowel movements and expired. I could explain the mechanism but it would take too much space. The message is that sweet junk food is dangerous. That is indeed the point! I now know with certainty that the “bottom line” in all of these cases is compromised oxidative metabolism affecting adaptive reflexes that normally are initiated for protective, sometimes life saving, purposes. The fight-or-flight reflex that almost everyone understands as a normal life-saver is being initiated as panic attacks in huge numbers of adults and it represents exactly the same mechanism. Mild hypoxia (too little oxygen) and vitamin B1 deficiency produce the same effects in the LS computer. It makes the reflex adaptive mechanisms much more active and grossly exaggerated. The affected individual develops a disease of adaptation, just as the animals that formed the experiments done by Hans Selye who gave us the General Adaptation Syndrome that I have mentioned in a previous post. The only correction that I would like to have made is to call it “The Diseases of Maladaptation”. It is well to remember that activating adaptive reflexes like this is never a good thing. It is an abnormal state and sometimes, depending on the severity of the body/brain chemistry, it can kill and autopsy examination is always negative so the nature of the death remains unknown.

Monday, November 8, 2010


In previous posts we have discussed the role of oxygen in oxidative metabolism and in the last post we pointed out that the lower, more primitive and evolutionally early brain is an obvious computer. The upper brain appears to provide “advice and consent” and can modify or even suppress activity in the lower brain, the limbic system (LS).
I have stressed the fact that the LS works 24 hours a day throughout life and has the greatest consumption of oxygen in the whole body. That means that any depreciation in that oxygen consumption will change the way that the LS functions as perhaps the earliest manifestation of inefficient energy synthesis.
If this is so, the obvious conclusion would occur to most people that the LS would react more slowly. Well it has been found through animal studies that with mild oxygen lack the LS actually becomes much more sensitive to any kind of sensory input and fires an adaptive reflex such as fight-or-flight much more quickly. Furthermore, the reflex mechanism is exaggerated.
Dr. Hans Selye studied “stress” in animal experiments and in 1946 he wrote up his work in the Journal of Endocrinology. He called human diseases “The diseases of adaptation” and formulated what he called “the General Adaptation Syndrome”, emphasizing the enormous consumption of energy involved. Selye called the reaction described above “the alarm reaction” and it is perfectly logical on an evolutionary basis if we take a moment to ask why this should happen.
If you were sleeping in a room that was gradually filling with carbon dioxide, an alarm reaction in the brain would awaken you and enable you to escape from the room. Thus, the alarm reaction is an important part of potentially life saving adaptive reflexes. This is what would happen in a healthy brain with normal oxidative function. The same thing could be expected to happen if oxygen is either in insufficient supply or is not being used efficiently in the process of oxidation, an unhealthy brain. It would happen spontaneously without there being a reason for an alarm. It is precisely what happens in the brain when an excess of carbohydrate is consumed since it overwhelms the ability of vitamin B1 to “ignite” the “fuel”.
Vitamin B1 deficiency is equivalent to mild to moderate lack of oxygen and the adaptive reflexes activated by the LS become exaggerated and “fired off” too easily and without any emergency life saving necessity. Thus the very common phenomenon of panic attacks are nothing more than fragmented fight-or-flight reflexes engendered too easily and without a true emergency situation being encountered. Panic attack disorder has been reproduced experimentally in people inhaling air with an increased fraction of carbon dioxide artificially added to it, thus affecting the required concentration of oxygen.
Since the LS initiates our emotional reflexes, the common loss of oxidative efficiency induced by high calorie malnutrition (empty calories) will make these reflexes activated too easily and with exaggerated fury. The persistence of temper tantrums, normal in a very young child, is related to this as is a delay in what is regarded as “toilet training”. Toilet training is a misnomer. It is an “arrival point” in maturation, governed by the gradual hard wiring of the brain during infancy, when the LS and “thinking brain” are in communication. Hard wiring is an electrochemical process and requires a lot of energy.
This concept presents a very good explanation for the otherwise inexplicable school shootings, vandalism and other manifestations of juvenile crime. Have you ever seen a reference on TV to diet as a potential reason for modern mayhem, so disturbing to a supposedly advanced civilization? Perhaps a nursed grievance explodes in violence.
At first sight such a suggestion seems to be completely absurd. I can assure you, however, that getting youngsters to have their diet corrected by withdrawal from ugly and unnatural dietary components really does straighten them out. A probation officer in Cuyahoga Falls in Ohio, got a judge to bind over to her a string of adolescent criminals for her to supervise their appropriate diet. The recidivism was cut back to zero. Her work has never been made public.
When Governor Voinovich called together a group of lawyers to discuss the causes of juvenile crime in Ohio, I wrote to him asking that high calorie malnutrition be considered in their discussion. He passed my letter on to the lawyers and I never knew whether it was discussed for I never received any response. In my next post I will consider this in the wider context of disease.

Monday, October 25, 2010


Physicians who practice Complementary Alternative Medicine talk of and write endlessly about oxidative metabolism. Our present approach is, however, largely shot-gun in character. That is a reflection of our collective ignorance, but the question arises as to whether the application of non-caloric nutrients (vitamins and minerals)is an appropriate methodology in the treatment of virtually any disease, the model on which a great part of Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) is founded. Is it truly a paradigm shift in overall concept? We certainly know that it usually, if not always, works. We have a huge amount of information about vitamins and minerals, but still do not know how to balance them. In spite of the general impression that modern medicine is a scientific bonanza I see myself standing on the “beach of knowledge, looking at the ocean of ignorance”

The Three Circles of Health
Over the years I have provided my patients with a model that introduces them to the concept of oxidative metabolism in a very simple way and this essay is to try to describe it. Imagine three interlocking circles derived from Boolean Algebra. They seek to describe the influence of variables by the degree of overlap between them. Label them "Genetics", "Stress" and "Fuel (nutrition). The genetics circle, for most of us an unknown factor, always enters the equation. With a strong Mendelian genetic defect it may be the unavoidable factor, but the discovery of epigenetics tells us that even this can be modified for benefit since it is the study of how nutrients and lifestyle influence our genes. Cystic fibrosis, an example of a genetically determined disease, can be helped by nutritional implementation. That represents the overlap between the genetics and fuel circles.
Stress, poorly defined for medical purposes, is defined here as a “mental” or “physical” force imposed by living in an essentially hostile environment. It includes all the variables of mental and physical forces to which we have to adapt as we encounter them daily throughout life. Unless the force, whatever that may be, is overwhelming as in any lethal mechanism imposed, it is not the stress that is the problem. It is how we adapt or maladapt to it that is the problem. The fuel circle is our nutrition.
Imagine that you have bought a car. You do not know it, but somewhere in the structure of that car there is a weakness, perhaps a flaw in the engine. As it ages it is being “stressed”, particularly by the hills that it has to climb. One day it breaks down on a hill and when you receive the bill for repairs you are told that the breakdown occurred at the site of the structural weakness. Do you blame the hill or the structural defect, about which you were ignorant? Obviously you can blame neither. The hill was a part of the journey undertaken. But suppose that you never bothered to read the owner’s manual and you have been putting in a fuel that is not consistent with the engine design. If and when the breakdown occurs, it is only the fuel that can be blamed since it created less efficiency in the function of the engine, imposing a greater liability for breakdown. The body has exactly the same problems in principle. This becomes an easily understood concept of how stress is converted into disease, the equivalent of breakdown.
The next part of the model depends on understanding that efficiency in a fuel-burning machine, including the 70 to 100 trillion cells that make up the human body, is defined as the useful work produced by the machine in proportion to its fuel consumption. A car is said to be about 35% efficient, meaning that 65% of the energy produced from burning gasoline is wasted in friction and noise. The body is estimated to be 75% efficient, a very different story.

Oxidative efficiency
Lack of oxygen (anoxia), already discussed, is lethal but it is not usually known by many as being lethal in excess. Every diver knows this. Efficient body metabolism is midway between too little oxidation and too much, the Yin and the Yang. Oxygen consumption will be less at rest and will increase in proportion to the mental or physical exertions of the individual. Health can be seen as maintaining efficiency throughout all levels of activity. Oxidants, the vitamins that enable oxidation to occur, are the equivalent of spark plugs in a car. Antioxidants are the equivalent of the cylinders since they represent the “firewall” that enables the energy to be controlled.
Imagine that a camper wishes to light a fire in a clearing in a forest. He risks setting the forest on fire so he constructs a fireplace. But as the fire becomes more flagrant it begins to throw off sparks that also endanger the forest. The camper can place a wire grill over the fire in order to catch the sparks and thus protect the forest. The body has the same problems to solve. Every cell has to create its energy by literally burning fuel. This oxidation is carefully controlled in “fireplaces” in the cell, known as mitochondria. When we are at rest we use less oxygen and when we exercise physically or mentally we use more, as long as we maintain efficiency. A wire screen over a fire is an important analogy because it is only effective because of the multiple wires. None of them can catch the sparks on their own.
Mother Nature knew that these “sparks”, known as free oxygen species, would form under any form of stress imposed by physical and mental activity and took steps to put together a series of chemicals that all work together like the wire screen in the analogy. It is therefore important to understand that antioxidants only work as a team and any one of them alone does not provide metabolic safety. Nor can we ask whether, for example, vitamin C is “good for any particular disease” in the same way that we might ask whether aspirin is good for headaches. The nutrient scenario is completely different from that of the pharmaceutical treatment method.

We can now imagine that the oxidants form one half of an imaginary roof and the antioxidants the other half. They must balance just like an architect would design a roof. The whole roof or part of it might fall in or the roof could sway one way or the other. Like all analogies, this is an incomplete representation, but it does provide a basis for understanding the problems facing us in what might be called “repairing the roof”. Good nutrition is the ONLY way that the "roof" can be repaired. This is exactly what Linus Pauling said in 1971 when his article in Science proposed that health was maintained by the presence of each and every necessary molecule being present in the body. This became known as Orthomolecular Medicine and a medical journal is published under that concept.

From a purely functional, rather than an anatomical concept, think of the human brain as being in two parts, the upper part being the “cognitive” or conscious part that does the thinking whereas the lower part,called by Freud the subconscious, limbic system is clearly a very complex computer that continuously senses the state of our personal environment. It is responsible for all our survival mechanisms that include the fight-or-flight reflex, and vital components of species survival such as appetite, thirst and basic sex drive. I think of the body as like an orchestra where the organs are like banks of instruments and the cells within them are the various instrumentalists. The limbic system is the “conductor”. The conduct of our daily lives depends on the conductor’s ability to play the “symphony of health”. The two parts of the brain “talk” to each other to modify our behavior. The computer “talks” to the various organs in the body through a balanced activity of the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system. This system is involuntary and is automated by the limbic system. The computer also controls the glands that make up the endocrine system by a closed biofeedback mechanism. Hormones are really messengers of the conductor’s ability to communicate with the organs. The organs even “talk” to each other.
The last part of this model depends on the tissues in the body that are most dependent on oxygen. Brain is well known to be number one in this requirement, particularly the part known as the limbic system and the brainstem, since they function all the time throughout life. The heart also works full time and is perhaps next on the list. It possibly explains why the ancient scourge of beriberi is a disease of the heart, brain and nervous system. The excess calories cannot be “burned” (oxidized) efficiently. Many of us can remember that we had a mechanism in cars called a choke. If that mechanism stuck after starting the car from cold, the engine would splutter and the car would hesitate. Black smoke from the exhaust represented unburned hydrocarbons. That is what happens to many people in our modern world who insist on the pleasure derived from eating masses of sweets and simple carbohydrates. They are never able to understand that their many symptoms, usually written off by physicians as psychosomatic, are due to their “junk”. Like white rice, “junk” is defined as a substance that we eat that contains no “spark plugs”. This gives rise to the term “empty calories”. Notice that I used the word “substance” rather than “food”.
The extremely common result of all this is a condition that I have called Functional Dysautonomia. Although published in medical journals, it is not a term that you will find in a medical textbook. It is, however, perhaps the commonest condition in Western civilization since the diet of the masses is frequently appalling . I refer to it as High Calorie Malnutrition and the early stages of the decline that results produces symptoms that area usually dignosed as “psychosomatic”. In a crazy world, two thirds of the human population are dying from the results of increasing starvation, while one third are suffering disease and decay from overeating the wrong foods.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

What has oxidation to do with disease?

We have discussed the use of oxygen and how it is used to create energy by the process of oxidation. Now I am going to tell you how oxidation reflects health and disease. Many people are aware of the classical nutritional deficiency diseases known as beriberi (thiamine, B1), pellagra (niacin, B3) and scurvy (vitamin C). Each one represents one or more aspects of inefficient oxidation.
The best example for illustration is beriberi. This disease has existed for thousands of years and it was not until the early years of the 20th century that it was found to be due to deficiency of vitamin B1. Thiamine is an essential factor in the oxidation of glucose, a major fuel for the brain and nervous system. All simple sugars that include lactose (milk sugar), sucrose, fructose (fruit sugar) and even starch are broken down in body metabolism to glucose.
The commonest cause of beriberi for centuries has been the consumption of white rice and why it was so common in Eastern cultures. It has recently been reported in Japan in a group of adolescents consuming sodas and simple carbohydrate food substances. White rice is the grain from which the cusp has been removed by milling. Outbreaks of the disease occurred throughout history and were related to increased affluence when the peasants were able to afford the luxury of having their rice crop milled. They did this because it looked better when served to their friends and demonstrated their newfound affluence. Thiamine occurs naturally in the cusp around the grain and the miller would throw the rice polishings to the pigs that were therefore better fed than the humans. The grain, with the cusp removed, is just starch and the disease is therefore represented as a load of glucose with an insufficiency of thiamine to oxidize it in the synthesis of cellular energy. Epidemics also occurred in the summer months when workers in the factories would take their lunch outside. When the sun shone on them, some would develop their first symptoms of the disease so it was natural to believe for a long time that the disease was caused by an infection. An adult human body consists of between 70 and 100 trillion cells, all of which require thiamine, the equivalent of a spark plug in a car engine.
The tissues that have the highest metabolic rate, correlating with their consumption of oxygen, are the heart, the brain and the nervous system, so beriberi has its primary effect on those organs. If the affected cells are starved of either oxygen or the major catalyst that enables glucose to be oxidized, their energy is curtailed and their function becomes abnormal or ceases. In the next blog I will tell you more about how this process affects our health in the modern world.
It has long been thought that these classical nutritional deficiency diseases have been conquered in developed countries because of vitamin enrichment. Unfortunately, that is simply not true. They do exist but not in their classic presentation and I have seen them all, often unrecognized even in a major hospital setting. Most modern physicians do not even consider the possibility of a nutritional deficiency as a cause of disease and rarely do they recognize the way that they appear. The diagnosis is nearly always missed.

Monday, June 28, 2010

More on oxygen

Oxygen in the air surrounds us and we breathe it. I want to tell you what our bodies do with it. It is picked up by the blood from our lungs and is passed to all parts of the body where it is used to create energy. This enables our body cells to function. Energy is stored in the cell as a chemical substance known as ATP.Its production can roughly be compared with charging a battery. It is created automatically in proportion to its use, so the "battery" is constantly being "charged" and "discharged".

A car burns gasoline for fuel. Our bodies use glucose, the sugar that is derived by chemical mechanisms from all simple sugars. It has to be processed, as shown in this simple equation: glucose + oxygen + vitamins (and some minerals) = energy. This is a chemical process and production of energy is limited by (a) lack of fuel (starvation), lack of oxygen (suffocation) or lack of vitamins and the necessary minerals (malnutrition). Our bodies and particularly our brains become energy deficient and we are unable to function properly.

If too much gasoline and not enough oxygen goes into a car engine, the engine runs badly and black smoke in the exhaust is produced. This is because the gasoline is not completely burned. That is what happens to us when we take in foods that do not have enough vitamin/mineral content. We do not produce smoke, of course, but our bodies produce acids that are passed out through the urine. This is a common form of malnutrition in the U.S. today.

We have known for years that certain diseases occur if we have food that is lacking in vitamins, but it has been generally accepted that these diseases no longer occur because the vitamin/mineral content is normal. Unfortunately, this is not true and people are becoming ill because they do not know this. Modern doctors have come to accept that vitamin deficiency does not exist in people who are adequately fed and look for other causes of the symptoms.You can begin to see that is why this blog is entitled "Oxygen, the spark of life".

For thousands of years a disease known as beriberi has existed, particularly in Eastern cultures where rice is the staple diet. We have long known that this disease is caused by vitamin B1 deficiency in people that are taking too much carbohydrate in their diet. Brown rice is the grain surrounded by a cusp that contains the vitamins necessary for processing it in the body. White rice is starch with the cusp removed and we now know that beriberi occurred when white rice was being consumed. Starch is broken down in the body to glucose. A recent paper written in Japan reported 17 adolescents that had beriberi as a result of drinking too many carbonated sweet drinks as they gathered together at the soda fountain.

In my next post, I will show how vitamin B1 deficiency is related to our huge intake of sugar in its so many different forms.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Monday, June 14, 2010


The evidence is rapidly accumulating that the energy drive in the body is both chemical and electrical. We get chemical energy from food and that has to be transduced to electrical energy. The best model is the electric eel whose electric organ is an adaptation of a nerve mechanism that has the same properties as our own nerves. Chemical energy is derived from "combustion" known biochemically as oxidation and it requires protein, fat and carbohydrate as fuel, oxygen that combines with the fuel, hence oxidation, and vitamins and minerals that catalyze this fundamental reaction, in much the same way as a spark plug in a car ignites gasoline. The mechanism of electrical energy transduction is still obscure, but the acceptance of acupuncture supports this concept. The easiest way to damage chemical energy production is by the ingestion of a high calorie diet that has insufficient vitamin content. The ancient scourge of beriberi, known for thousands of years as a method of destroying the brain and nervous system, is easily produced by eating white rice, the default diet for millions in the East. The damage to the nervous system, particularly the lower part of the brain, produced by an overload of "empty" calories gives the same effect as being deprived of sufficient oxygen. It produces excitabilitiy in our ability to react to and adapt to any form of physical or mental stress. Boys sometimes induce partial hanging to get enhanced sexual stimulation, for orgasm is a reflex that is a reaction of the lower brain computer. It is the computer that gives us our emotional reactions for an emotion is not a thought process. Hence the ingestion of empty calories, especially in simple carbohydrate form, is equivalent to a mild deprivation of oxygen. A relatively mild grievance "nursed" in emotional terms can become explosive in its reaction. Hence, it is quite feasible to ask whether the otherwise incomprehensible school shootings are the result of the gross intake of simple carbodydrate in the form of sugar, sweets, candy, ice cream and sort drinks, particularly those loaded with caffeine. A probation officer in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, persuaded a judge to place juvenile crime offenders under her care for dietary supervision. The recurrence rate of crime in these young offenders was drastically reduced. We behave according to what we eat!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

My Background and The Case that Changed My Life

My Background

The details of my medical background are pretty straightforward:

-Medical Degree from University of London, England

-Pediatric Residency at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH

-20 year career at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation including, on staff in the Department of Pediatrics, sub-specialty in Pediatric Oncology, and lastly Head of Biochemical Genetics within the Department of Pediatrics

That's what I look like on paper. But if you lift the lid on my background you will find that happenstance collided with curiosity which led me to the mysterious field of inborn errors of metabolism.

There is one case in particular that sticks out in my mind as the case which led me down this path and forever transformed how I looked at modern medicine and the role of vitamins and food in the body. This case was, for me, the point of no return.

I was confronted with a 6-year old boy who had suffered a series of repeated, self limiting episodes of ataxia, a brain condition causing gross lack of coordination, loss of balance and slurred speech. When in one of these attacks he would appear to be drunk. Each attack would gradually become worse over the first 4 or 5 days and then slowly get better over the next few days. Each time this happened he would lose some degree of mental ability. All the previous tests and studies had been of no help. I was aware that at least one inborn error of metabolism had been reported and the diagnosis had been made by a special test of urine. We had to wait over a year before he had another of these strange attacks and he was admitted to hospital and we were able to run the urine test. The test revealed that he had an abnormality in his ability to process glucose to make cellular energy and that this was affecting brain function. This is exactly what happens in the ancient disease known as beriberi, a nutritional disease known for thousands of years in Eastern cultures that depend on white rice (rice that has been milled to remove the cusps from the grain) for their staple diet. Brown rice is full of thiamine or vitamin B1. In the process of creating white rice, they remove the part that contains the B1. The boy turned out to be dependent on huge doses of vitamin B1!

As long as he stayed on B1 in supplement form he did not have any further attacks. The usual need for this vitamin from diet is about 1.5 milligrams and he required 600 milligrams a day! In fact, if he felt the onset of a cold or minor infection we'd have to double the dose! This phenomenon is called vitamin dependency rather than dietary deficiency.

This was the first case to be reported in the medical literature since it was a new major discovery. The curious thing is it caused virtually no stir at all, even among my colleagues and I began to ask myself why not...

This was my most dramatic professional experience and it set me thinking. How many curious diseases were occurring because of a breakdown in the use of oxygen in creating energy for function of all our cells and paricularly the brain and nervous system (which require huge amounts of oxygen). I asked myself, what do we do with oxygen and why is thiamine so important? With this question at the root, I set out on a research journey that began with that case and continues to this day.

I learned everything there was to be known about thiamine and how it relates to other vitamins. I found that some poorly understood diseases in children respond to simple vitamin therapy. Because of this search, which covers to date a period of about 40 years, I very rarely use pharmaceutical drugs.

Louis Pasteur, who discovered that microorganisms cause disease, said on his death bed "I was wrong. It is the defenses that count!"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

What makes oxygen so important?

Everyone knows we need oxygen to live yet many people do not know how it actually works in the body. My professional interest for many years has been devoted to the study of oxygen and oxidation (the reaction that makes it possible to maintain life) in the body and I want to share what I've learned with you. It is my belief that if you learn about oxidation, you will be able to live healthier lives and I will continue to dedicate my life to that goal!

Through this blog I will take you on a journey, my journey, that has led me to obtain a profound understanding of how diet and vitamins impact every day health, sometimes quite severely and sometimes even fatally. Over the centuries, we have made a lot of changes in how we eat and what we eat. Those changes, sometimes seemingly simple, can alter the course of your wellness in ways you probably have never imagined.

And all of it, every last bit of it, boils down to oxygen.

Now - what is oxygen? Oxygen is vital to life but how is oxygen used in the body? When we breathe air, the lung tissues extract it and pass it into the blood where it is picked up by hemoglobin, the pigment that gives our red cells their color. Hemoglobin has the remarkable ability to combine with oxygen to transport it in the blood stream. It carries the oxygen to all our tissues where it is able to give it up and donate it to our cells where it is used to produce energy. This process is called oxidation, a chemical reaction that is a form of combustion where fuel (food) is consumed.

Oxidation occurs in microscopic "engines" of the cells called mitochondria. Cells are so small that they can only be seen with a microscope and the structure of mitochondria can only be seen with an electron microscope. Each cell contains many mitochondria and their job is to use the oxygen to create energy by oxidation. This provides the power for all body functions and life itself.

Oxygen is truly the spark of life! It is pulled from the air and enters the mitochondria where oxidation occurs. Getting oxygen into the mitochondria is a very complicated process and in my next post we'll talk about the principles of oxidation and how it yields energy.