Thursday, July 10, 2008

Excitotoxins, Neurodegeneration and Neurodevelopment

My daughter Alexandra forwarded this article to me. The subject involves what many eat everyday so I decided to pass it along.
Due to the length of this article it will be posted in nine parts.
I hope you find it beneficial.

Part I

Excitotoxins, Neurodegeneration and Neurodevelopment
By Russell L. Blaylock, M.D

Article courtesy of Dr. Russell Blaylock and
The Medical Sentinel Journal

There are a growing number of clinicians and basic scientists who are convinced that a group of compounds called excitotoxins play a critical role in the development of several neurological disorders including migraines, seizures, infections, abnormal neural development, certain endocrine disorders, neuropsychiatric disorders, learning disorders in children, AIDS dementia, episodic violence, lyme borreliosis, hepatic encephalopathy, specific types of obesity, and especially the neurodegenerative diseases, such as ALS, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, and olivopontocerebellar degeneration.1
An enormous amount of both clinical and experimental evidence has accumulated over the past decade supporting this basic premise.2 Yet, the FDA still refuses to recognize the immediate and long term danger to the public caused by the practice of allowing various excitotoxins to be added to the food supply, such as MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and aspartame. The amount of these neurotoxins added to our food has increased enormously since their first introduction. For example, since 1948 the amount of MSG added to foods has doubled every decade. By 1972 262,000 metric tons were being added to foods. Over 800 million pounds of aspartame have been consumed in various products since it was first approved. Ironically, these food additives have nothing to do with preserving food or protecting its integrity. They are all used to alter the taste of food. MSG, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, and natural flavoring are used to enhance the taste of food so that it taste better. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener.

These toxins (excitotoxins) are not present in just a few foods, but rather in almost all processed foods. In many cases they are being added in disguised forms, such as natural flavoring, spices, yeast extract, textured protein, soy protein extract, etc. Experimentally, we know that when subtoxic levels of excitotoxins are given to animals in divided doses, they experience full toxicity, i.e.they are synergistic. Also, liquid forms of excitotoxins, as occurs in soups, gravies and diet soft drinks are more toxic than that added to solid foods. This is because they are more rapidly absorbed and reach higher blood levels.

So, what is an excitotoxin? These are substances, usually acidic amino acids, that react with specialized receptors in the brain in such a way as to lead to destruction of certain types of neurons. Glutamate is one of the more commonly known excitotoxins. MSG is the sodium salt of glutamate. This amino acid is a normal neurotransmitter in the brain. In fact, it is the most commonly used neurotransmitter by the brain. Defenders of MSG and aspartame use, usually say: How could a substance that is used normally by the brain cause harm? This is because, glutamate, as a neurotransmitter, exists in the extracellular fluid only in very, very small concentrations - no more than 8 to 12uM. When the concentration of this transmitter rises above this level the neurons begin to fire abnormally. At higher concentrations, the cells undergo a specialized process of delayed cell death known as excitotoxicity, that is, they are excited to death.

It should also be appreciated that the effects of excitotoxin food additives generally are not dramatic. Some individuals may be especially sensitive and develop severe symptoms and even sudden death from cardiac irritability, but in most instances the effects are subtle and develop over a long period of time. While the food additives, MSG and aspartame, are probably not direct causes of the neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's dementia, Parkinson's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, they may well precipitate these disorders and certainly worsen their pathology as we shall see. It may be that many people with a propensity for developing one of these diseases would never develop a full blown disorder had it not been for their exposure to high levels of food borne excitotoxin additives. Some may have had a very mild form of the disease had it not been for the exposure. Likewise, food borne excitotoxins may be harmful to those suffering from strokes, head injury and HIV infection and certainly should not be used in a hospital setting.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A Maui Moonbow

From: japril1: A Maui Moonbow recorded in May 2006
"opposite the full moon 3200 feet up Haleakala from Makawao"

New--Start Idea: An art or education career based on naturally occurring, unusual 'creations'.