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.