Basics of cellular energy (Pt. 2)

Extraction of energy from food, the mitochondria

Of all the different structures that comprise the cell, we will focus on the mitochondria. The mitochondria is where the cellular energy known as ATP is manufactured out of nutrients (oxygen and food). The mitochondria is contained inside the cytosol, the fluid portion of the cell (4).

The main substances from which cells extract energy are oxygen and the food we ingest: carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Carbohydrates are converted into glucose by the digestive tract and liver before they reach the cell, proteins are converted into amino acids and fats into fatty acids. Then they all enter the cell. Inside the cell the food reacts chemically with the oxygen under the influence of various enzymes. Almost all of these oxidative reactions occur in the mitochondria, and the energy that is released is used to form the very high energy compound known as ATP (Adenosine triphosphate). ATP then is used throughout the cell to energize almost all the intracellular metabolic reactions.

What is ATP?

ATP is a small simple compound that supplies all the energy used by every cell in the body, including the heart. It is for this reason that it is known as the‘powerhouse of the cell’. As long as the cell is given two basic ingredients: food and oxygen, the cycle of energy utilization and supply goes on unimpeded millions of times per second in every cell in the body. This continual cycle of energy supply and demands keeps the cell fully charged with energy and maintains a constant level of ATP no matter how hard the heart is working.

When one of these ingredients is missing, sickness follows. A good example of this is lack of oxygen; oxygen starvation always results in a heart attack. Blocked arteries can deprive the heart cells of oxygenated blood flow, causing the tissues to consume their energy supplies faster than they can be restored (1).

The human heart has approximately 700 milligrams of ATP and this is enough to pulsate at a rate of one beat per second for 60 seconds. This may sound like a lot but it is a considerable slow rate for a healthy person. For this, 6,000 grams of ATP will need to be generated per day.

Magnesium is always found attached to ATP in cells. It has important functions like helping ATP move around within the cell, and attracting various structures in the cell that require energy to function.

ATP composition

ATP is composed of adenine, ribose and three phosphate radicals connected by high energy phosphate bonds. Each of these bonds are known as ‘high energy bonds’ because they contain about 12,000 calories of energy per mole of ATP. When ATP releases its energy, a radical is split away and ADP is formed (adenosine diphosphate), which recombines over and over to form new ATP. Because ATP can be spent and remade again and again, it is called the ‘energy currency of the cell’.

Uses of ATP

ATP is then used to:

  1. Supply energy for the transport of sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphate, and chloride ions through the cell membrane, among other substances. This transport of ions is so important for the cell that some use as much as 80% of the ATP made by the cells for this purpose alone.
  2. Promote protein synthesis as well as phospholipids, cholesterol, etc. The synthesis of all these nutrients require thousand of molecules of ATP.
  3. Supply energy needed during muscle contraction.

Because of all these important functions, ATP must always be available to release its energy rapidly and almost explosively whenever it is needed in the cell. To replace ATP used by the cell other much slower chemical reactions break down carbohydrates, fats and proteins and use the energy derived from these to form new ATP (2).

ATP keeps the heart beating. With each heartbeat ions of potassium, sodium, and calcium move in and out of the cell and in and out of different organelles inside the cell. The continual flow of ions keeps the heart beating rhythmically and allows the heart to fully relax between beats and able to refill with blood for each contraction.

ATP also allows the heart to build important cellular constituents such as proteins and genetic material. These allow the heart to be repaired whenever there is enough wear.

Mitochondria, the cellular energy powerhouse

The mitochondria is considered the powerhouse because it produces most of the energy needed by the cell. Mitocondria generates more than 90% of the body’s need for energy to sustain life and they take approximately 35% of the space within the heart cell.

The way energy is produced is called ‘respiration’because it requires oxygen. It happens as follows: carbon fragments like fats and pyruvate are oxidized by oxygen that is delivered by the blood and used to make ATP. This process releases electrons, which recycle ADP back into ATP, thereby restoring energy to the cell.

ATP formed inside the mitochondria must be moved into the cytosol of the cell to release its life-giving energy. ADP from the cytosol must be moved into the michochondria, where it can recycle to ATP. Because the mitochondrial membrane is permeable to both ATP and ADP, they can be exchanged across the mitochondrial membrane, with ATP moving out and ADP moving in. Then an enzyme called ‘ATP-ADP translocase’ moves ATP and ADP across the mitochondrial membrane, keeping ATP flowing to the cell and ADP flowing to the mitochondria. This process supplies the vital energy needed to sustain life.

Oxygen does not contribute to the process directly, but acts as a metabolic garbage can, gathering up the spent electrons after they have flowed through the process, then releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) and water. Some of this is released when we exhale, and the rest is transported by the blood to the kidneys to be excreted as urine.

Around 2-5% of this oxygen is turned into free radicals. These free radicals are formed inside the mitochondrial membrane and they can accumulate rapidly because oxygen utilization occurs constantly within the mitochondria.

While an abundance of free radicals can accelerate aging and degenerative diseases,and be the major unexplained cause of congestive heart failure, research has shown that a small percentage of free radicals may play an important part in supporting life processes, like mitochondrial respiration.

Recent research has shown that we can enrich our mitochondria with nutrients. Since our diets are not balanced, supplementation has become ‘ necessary way of life’ (1). Dr. Stephen Sinatra, considers mitochondria to be the key to how we age, why we get disease any why we die prematurely.

Something else important about mitochodria is that they contain their own set of DNA, from 2 to 10 copies of DNA called mtDNA. All of this genetic material is obtained from the mother , not the father. Mitochondrial DNA makes the proteins needed for energy metabolism. Because this mitochondrial DNA is not isolated from its environment by a membrane, it is exposed to free radicals, rendering it unable to pass on genetic information. It it for this reason that we must supplement with antioxidant nutrients.

Roles of the mitochondria

The majority of the ATP is formed in the mitochondria.This is how it happens, step by step: When glucose enters the cell it is acted on by enzymes and becomes ‘pyruvic acid’ by a process known as ‘glycolysis’. The pyruvic acid derived from carbohydrates, fatty acids and amino acids are all converted into a compound known as ‘acetyl-CoA’. Another set of enzymes act on this compound in order to extract its energy through a process known as ‘Krebs cycle’.

In the ‘citric acid cycle’, acetyl-CoA is split into its components: hydrogen atoms and carbon dioxide, the latter eventually comes out of the cell, while the hydrogen atoms are highly reactive and combine with oxygen. This releases a tremendous amount of energy which is used by the mitochondria to convert large amounts of ADP to ATP. The newly formed ATP is transported out of the mitochondria into all parts of the cell and used as energy for the cell functions.

Hearts need a constant supply of energy

As long as the cell is supplied with two basic ingredients: food and oxygen, the cycle of energy use and supply goes on unimpeded millions of times per second in every cell in the body. Since the amount of ATP available is small compared with the demand, the cells must continue manufacturing energy. The continual supply of ATP is necessary to maintaining cardiac function.

In heart cells most of the ATP is present in the cell in two cellular structures: the cytosol and the mitochondria. The cytosol is the fluid portion of the cell that contains main constituents of the cell including the mitochondria.Each heart cell can contain as many as 5,000 mitochondria, If the heart works extra hard, like it is the case of ischemic heart disease, the ATP pool may increase in order to get more energy (1).

Once ATP releases its energy most of the ADP that is generated returns to the mitochondria to be recycled back into ATP. After ATP forms again it leaves the mitochondria and moves to the region of the cell needing energy. A small amount of the ADP remains in the cytosol, where it is reformed into ATP more slowly. This ATP is generally associated with cell membranes and provides the energy needed to control ion movement into and out of the cell (1).

There is ATP also outside the cell that is important for cell energy but it is small compared with the amount of ATP found inside the cell. In diseased hearts, the amount of ATP found outside the cell can be up to ten times higher than in healthy hearts.This extracellular ATP has a major function of forming adenosine, a strong vasodilator. ‘In ischemic heart conditions, the vasodilatory effect of adenosine helps open blood vessels, allowing more blood and oxygen to flow to the heart’(1).

Measuring cellular energy

In the cell there are hundreds of different enzymes whose job is to accelerate biochemical reactions. For this reason, they can be compared to spark plugs in a car, and the amount of energy generating material available to gasoline. Enough energy is needed for the spark to act on it and speed up these reactions. Enzymes that release the chemical energy in ATP are called ‘ATPases’.

How energy translates to work in the body

The human heart has four chambers, two upper chambers, called ‘left and right atria’, two lower chambers, called ‘left and right ventricles’. When the heart beats there are several stages that involve energy within the ventricular muscles.

‘Systolic function’ refers to the stage of the heartbeat when the lower chambers contract, squeezing blood out of the arteries . This requires adequate ATP energy in cells of the heart muscle and a strong muscle to respond and contract effectively. Contraction empties most of the blood out of the heart chambers, but requires the least amount of cellular energy.This means that even in cases of exhaustion there is still energy left in the heart to allow our body to rest. In terms of blood pressure, contraction corresponds to the upper number in blood pressure measurement.

After the contraction phase there is a brief period of rest, 1/3 of a second long. This is the ‘relaxation’ or ‘diastolic phase’, where the heart refills with blood for the next contraction.The relaxation stage also depends on energy and on the ability of the heart to ‘stretch without sagging, fill and accommodate adequate blood volume. (1)’ A lot more energy is needed for the heart to relax than to force it to contract for two reasons:

  1. A lot of energy is needed to separate the bonds (called ‘rigor bonds’)formed during contraction in order to allow the muscle to return to its relaxed state.
  2. During relaxation, energy is also needed to remove the calcium ions from the cell following contraction. This is how it works: When the heart is preparing to contract, large amounts of calcium rush into the cell, helping the heart contract. When contraction is over, calcium must be pumped out of the cytosol, this requires ATP. The calcium pump has two sites for ATP and both have to be attached to ATP before the pump can work. This process is similar to what is known as ‘writer’s cramp in which the muscles of the finger get so tight after being used without pause that they cannot relax. This is caused by the fact that all the energy has been used to contract the muscle holding the pencil. Because there is no energy left, calcium cannot be discharged from the cytosol and the rigor bonds formed in the muscle fibers cannot be broken. In the case of the heart, the heart will not be able to fully relax, which means that it cannot be filled with blood properly and pump it to the whole body.This is what is called ‘dyastolic dysfunction’. It is characterized by a thickening and stiffening of the walls of the ventricles, which increases blood pressure, reduces the amount of blood discharged from the heart and makes it harder for the heart to fill.It is an early sign of cardiac problems that around 25% of the population over the age of 45, both male and female have. Around 50% of this percentage does not know they have this condition which puts them at risk for congestive heart failure.

Concluding, the heart needs a constant supply of energy. A key player in this supply of energy is a circulatory system that is fluid enough to deliver nutrients and oxygen to the heart cells. Only when this is the case can cells manufacture ATP to keep the cycle of energy use and supply unimpeded millions of times per second in every cell in the body to keep the cell fully charged, no matter how hard the heart is working.

The Heart and Body Extract, because of its role in improving circulation can help carry oxygen and nutrients to the cell. Make sure you add Heart and Body Extract to your health protocol today!

Thank you for reading.

References:

 

 

 

Basics of cellular energy (Pt. 1)

We have seen how the health of the body depends on fluidity and pressure. Fluidity allows the blood to circulate unimpeded and easily under the pressure exerted by the heart. Only when this is the case can our cells be oxygenated, receive nutrition and detoxify themselves. Proper circulation, therefore, could be said to be one the most important aspects of our health, and the reason why the Heart and Body Extract is such a great addition to our health protocol.

Good circulation is also key because it allows the movement of intracellular and extracellular fluids to be transported throughout the body, allowing nutrients to be carried to the cells so they can manufacture the energy they need to do their job. Many health care professionals believe it is the ability of the cell to manufacture energy that is at the core of many cardiac disease disorders. This is the case of ischemic heart disease, congestive heart failure and ‘cardiomyopathy (1).

In today’s blog, we will focus on the role of circulation in the cell’s ability to manufacture energy.We will look at the microscopic cell, its main functions and parts and how its ability to make energy influences heart health.

The microscopic cell

When we consider the health of our body, it is easy to think of only organs, like the heart. But we need to remember that each organ in our body is ‘an aggregate of many different cells’(2). Because of this, the health of our organs depends on the health of each microscopic cell.

So, what is a cell? Cells are the ‘basic structural, functional, and biological unit of all known living organisms’(3). Each of the 100 trillion cells in the human body is a ‘living structure that can survive indefinitely and even reproduce itself, provided its surrounding fluids contain appropriate nutrients’ (2).

Each specific cell is specially adapted to perform one or more functions, like the heart cells. However, despite the differences, all cells have the same basic characteristics. For instance, in all cells oxygen combines with the breakdown products of carbohydrates, fat or protein to release the energy required for cell function. What is more, the basic mechanism for turning nutrients into energy is basically the same in all cells. In this sense, all cells deliver the end products of their chemical reactions into the surrounding fluids.

Composition of the cell

The cell is a complex unit composed of highly organized physical structures called ‘organelles’. The two major parts of the cell are the ‘nucleus’ and the ‘cytoplasm’, both separated from each other and the surrounding fluids by a barrier called ‘membrane’. They are all equally important to the functioning of the cell, but the mitochondria provides 95% of the cell’s total energy supply(2).

The substances that make up the cell are called ‘protoplasm’ and they are: water, electrolytes, proteins, lipids and carbohydrates.

  1. Water: It is the main fluid medium in cells at a concentration of 70-85%. Many cellular chemicals are dissolved in water and this allows many chemical reactions to take place.
  2. Electrolytes: The main electrolytes in the cell are potassium, magnesium, phosphate, sulfate, bicarbonate, and small amounts of sodium, chloride, and calcium. Electrolytes provide inorganic chemicals for cellular reactions. On the cell membrane, for example, they allow transmission of electrochemical impulses in nerve and muscle fibers.
  3. Proteins: They are 10-20% of the total cell mass. They are divided into ‘structural proteins’ and ‘globular proteins’. The structural proteins are present in hair, collagen and elastin fibers of connective tissue, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, etc. The globular proteins are the enzymes of the cell and are soluble in the cell fluid. Enzymes catalyze chemical reactions, an example is the chemical reaction that splits glucose into component parts and combine these with oxygen to form carbon dioxide and water, providing energy for cellular functions.
  4. Lipids: They are soluble in fat solvents. The most important ones are phospholipids and cholesterol, which together add up to 2% of the cell’s total mass. Because they are insoluble in water they make up the cell membrane and the intracellular membranous barriers that separate the different cell compartments.
  5. Apart from cholesterol and phospholipids, we can also find triglycerides, which make up 95% of the cell’s mass. The fat stored in these cells are the body’s main storehouse of energy-giving nutrients that can be dissolved and used for energy when the body needs it.
  6. Carbohydrates: They play a major role in the nutrition of the cell. Carbohydrates in the form of dissolved glucose are always present in the surrounding extracellular fluid as a form of readily available energy for the cell. A small amount is always stored in the cell in the form of glycogen, which is a source of quick energy. Most human cells do not contain large stores of carbohydrates, only around 1%. 3% is found in muscle cells and sometimes up to 6% in liver cells (2).

Extracellular fluid, the internal environment

We have seen how our body is mostly made out of water, and how water balance is very important. When it comes to the health of our cells, it is key to understand how fluid is kept in the right places. Some of this fluid is inside the cells and is known as intracellular fluid, but some other is in the spaces outside the cells, known as extracellular fluid.

In the extracellular fluid are the ions and nutrients needed by the cells for maintenance of cellular life. Because this extracellular fluid is in constant motion, its contents are rapidly being transported in the general circulation and then mixed between the blood and the tissue fluids through the capillary walls.

Basically, all the cells in our body live in this extracellular fluid, and because of this it is called internal environment of the body. The key aspect to understand here is that this internal environment determines the health of the cells and their ability to make energy,‘As long as the proper concentrations of oxygen, glucose, ions, amino acids, fatty substances and other constituents are available in this internal environment’(2).

Differences between the extracellular and intracellular fluid

The extracellular fluid contains large amounts of sodium, chloride, and bicarbonate ions, plus nutrients for the cell: oxygen, glucose, fatty acids, and amino acids. It also contains carbon dioxide that is being transported from the cells to the lungs to be excreted, plus other cellular products that are being transported to the kidneys for excretion.

The intracellular fluid differs from the extracellular because it contains large amounts of potassium, magnesium,and phosphate ions instead of the sodium and chloride ions found in the extracellular fluid. Special mechanisms for transporting ions through the cell membranes maintain these differences. In other words, the extracellular fluid contains a large amount of sodium but only a small amount of potassium, and the exact opposite is true of the intracellular fluid. These differences between the inside and the outside of a cell are extremely important for the life of a cell.

Maintaining the ion balance requires energy. The proper flow of ions into and out of the heart is required to keep the heart cell from filling with water (cardiac edema) and to keep the electrolytes present that allow the heart to beat avoiding irregular heartbeats.

The role of circulation in cell health

Extracellular fluid is transported through all parts of the body in two stages:

During the first stage, the extracellular fluid is transported in the circulatory system as the blood moves around in a circular motion from heart to the lower parts of the body and back up again. All the blood in the circulation moves through the entire circulatory system an average of once every minute when the body is at rest and as many as six times each minute when a person becomes extremely active.

During the second stage, the extracellular fluid is transported via the movement of fluid between the blood capillaries and the cells: As blood passes through the capillaries there is a continual exchange of extracellular fluid between the blood and the interstitial fluid in the intercellular spaces. This is possible because the capillaries are porous and allow large amounts of fluid and its dissolved nutrients to diffuse back and forth between the blood and the tissue spaces. The fluid and dissolved molecules are continually moving and bouncing in all directions within the fluid themselves and through the pores and through the tissue spaces.

How nutrients are distributed through the different organs

As the extracellular fluid, both that of the plasma and that in interstitial spaces is continually being mixed, it allows complete homogeneity throughout the body.Then, as blood circulates through the different organs, nutrients are distributed in the following way:

1) Respiratory system: Every time the blood circulates through the body it also flows through the lungs. There, the blood picks up oxygen that the cells need. Carbon dioxide is released from the blood into the lungs and the respiratory movement of air into and out of the alveoli carries the carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

2) Gastrointestinal tract: A large portion of the blood pumped by the heart also passes through the walls of the gastrointestinal organs. Here, different dissolved nutrients like carbohydrates, fatty acids, and amino acids are absorbed from the ingested food into the extracellular fluid.

3) Liver: Not all substances absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract can be used in their absorbed form by the cells. The liver changes the chemical compositions of many of these substances to more usable forms; then other tissues of the body, fat cells, kidneys, etc help to modify the absorbed substances or store them until they are needed.

4) Kidneys: Passage of blood through the kidneys removes most of the other substances besides carbon dioxide from the plasma that are not needed by the cells, such as urea and uric acid. They include excesses of ions and water from the food that might have accumulated in the extracellular fluid. The kidneys perform their function by first filtering large quantities of plasma then reabsorbing those substances that are needed by the body into the blood: glucose, amino acids, water and ions.

 

Are you dehydrated? How dehydration can influence blood pressure (Pt. 2)

We are electro-magnetic beings

The movement of water (blood and lymph) exerted by our circulatory and lymphatic systems generate hydro-electric energy that the body can use. This is possible because of special pumps found on the cell membrane that generate energy when water passes through this membrane. But it is also made possible by minerals flowing through our arteries and smaller vessels carrying electricity. Whenever electricity is flowing along well-defined pathways, magnetic fields develop around those same pathways. The magnetic fields, in turn, have an effect upon the flow of charged particles in our blood and lymph (3).

Salt, because of its high concentration of minerals, is needed to keep the fluid in the body electrically charged. This is the reason these minerals are called ‘electrolytes’, they carry electrical charges. What is more, salt keeps water in the right places in the body, especially in the inside and outside the cells. Not only salt and water create this electro-magnetic effect, the foods we eat extract the minerals from the soil, then as we digest these foods they get incorporated into our bloodstream and tissues.

Something like ‘leaky gut’ and maldigestion, however, can allow undigested food to enter the blood stream and interrupt the normal flow of energy by thickening the blood, creating an immune response and an increase of ‘circulating immune complexes’, blood clots, and many dead cells.

In this sense, health can be defined as a combination of all the electromagnetic fields of the foods we eat, and the minerals circulating in the blood, lymph, the vital organs, nerves and brain. The health of the whole body is built around the presence of these minerals, being suspended in the body. A mineral rich diet is essential for heart health (3).

The composition of the body: Minerals, trace elements and electrolytes

Like we already pointed out, 4-5% of our body’s tissues are made of minerals, trace elements and electrolytes. 25-26% is made up of protein, fats, and carbohydrates, the remaining 70% is made out of water.

All of the electrolytes, minerals and trace elements are needed for the body to function properly. Deficiency of one does not result in death but the tissue that mineral, electrolyte or trace mineral activates can throw the other processes off balance. Deficiency symptoms may lead to fatigue, nausea, disease although not necessarily to death.

The critical mineral balance in the body is known as homeostasis: the normal internal stability of the body chemistry and processes when all body systems are in the proper balance. How much we need of each depends on age, sex, weight, lifestyle and individual body chemistry.

Each mineral has its own vibration (electrical charge) and each has its function in the body. In general, electrolytes are found in the body in greater amounts than minerals and trace elements. Out of the 4-5% amount of minerals present in our body, electrolytes make up 70-80%. Electrolytes are vital to health and life, without them life would not be possible (3).

What are electrolytes?

Electrolytes are minerals which are capable of splitting into two opposite electrically charged minerals (ions) when dissolved in a fluid like water or blood plasma. Once they split, the water portion of the blood transports them to body tissues in this electrically charged form, then they move from one electrical level to another, and recombine with other ions or interact with one another. When this happens, they attach themselves to:

  • Proteins to become part of enzymes (Eg. hemoglobin)
  • Co-enzymes
  • Hormones
  • Vitamins and
  • Other highly active and important substances in the body

 As an example, let’s say you take some magnesium chloride. This combination will stay as such until it is dissolved in the blood or lymph. There, it separates into two particles with opposite electrical charges: magnesium and chloride. This split form keeps recombining to allow the body to perform all the functions we know as heartbeat, nerve conduction, etc.

The electrolytes are sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which have a positive electrical charge, and chloride, sulfate and phosphate which are negatively charged. Electrolytes act mainly inside and around cells: potassium, magnesium and phosphate are found inside, while sodium, calcium and chlorine are found outside the cells. Differences in electrical potential between the inside and the outside of the cell allow some substances to go through the cell wall and keep others out. This is one of the ways cells control what can enter and what cannot.

Electrolytes work in pairs, this is the case sodium and potassium, calcium and magnesium, manganese and phosphorus. This means that when there is too much of one, the other that pairs with it, is excreted.

Electrolytes can be destroyed with vomiting or diarrhea, high fevers, perspiration, even drinking too much water can can flush them out of the body through urine. Physical or mental stress will deplete electrolytes and trace minerals at a very fast rate. Conditions caused by electrolyte deficiency are high blood pressure, cholesterol and clogged arteries, digestive problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, etc.

More functions of electrolytes

-Keeping the acid-alkaline balance: The normal state of the blood stream is slightly alkaline, limited to a very narrow pH of 7.3 to 7.45. This is important because most of the mineral processes in the body can only happen in the narrow pH between 7.35 and 7.45 and temperatures close to 98.6 degrees F. Many of the body’s enzymes are designed to trigger or speed up mineral processes at that pH and temperature range. Certain electrolytes constantly neutralize metabolic and other acids to keep the pH of the blood within the proper range. For example, carbon dioxide wastes released by the cells are carried in the blood plasma as sodium bicarbonate, rather than carbonic acid. When this happens, the pH of the blood is not forced to be too acidic (3).

Magnesium also assists in the neutralization of acid wastes in the bowel.

Potassium combines with metabolic acids in the muscle tissues especially in critically important tissues like the heart, lungs, liver and pancreas.

-Muscle contraction: Muscle contraction depends on the electrically charged ions of calcium, magnesium and phosphate. This is initiated by a nerve impulse requiring potassium and sodium at every nerve synapse that allows the nerve impulse to get to the muscle from the brain.

-Sulfur is used in tissue respiration, plays an important part in bile secretion and is found in insulin. The sulfur compounds in garlic are believed to have a powerful anti-cancer effect and an immune system enhancing effect as well.

-Calcium and sodium are in every cell of every organ, gland and tissue of the body and they are two of the most needed elements. The fluid surrounding the cells of the body contains a certain concentration of sodium ions which cannot pass through the cell membranes. When the fluid level drops too far, the sodium concentration increases and the thirst center of the brain is activated. The pituitary gland releases a hormone that signals the kidneys to conserve water. When the fluid level increases too much, the sodium concentration is decreased and the adrenal glands release the hormone aldosterone, which signals the kidneys to get rid of some of the water while retaining the sodium. In the course of filtering 170 liters of blood plasma every 24 hours, the kidneys recycle over 99% of the water, sodium, chloride and bicarbonate, 95% of the phosphate, 93% of the potassium and 70% of the sulfate. The excess minerals or metabolic wastes that are not needed are excreted in the urine (3).

They assist vitamins: Vitamins cannot do their job unless adequate minerals are present in the body. Minerals combine with certain vitamins to detoxify and help remove metabolic waste from the body.

What are the most important electrolytes for a healthy heart?

Sodium-potassium and calcium-magnesium are some of the most important electrolytes for the heart.

Sodium and potassium are always found together in the body. According to Dr. Eric Berg, potassium is one of the electrolytes that we need in the highest amounts: we need four more times potassium than sodium. That is around 4,700 mg of potassium a day, balanced with 1,000 mg of sodium.

Dr. Berg explains there is what is known as sodium-potassium pump that is built on the surface of our cells. Each of our 100 trillion cells has between 800,000 and 30 million of these little pumps. The importance of these ‘pumps’ is immense: these pumps are generators of electrical energy and they allow nutrients to go in and out of the cell. This is essential for health because each cell requires a lot of energy in order to do their work, in fact, 1/3 of all the food we consume is used to run these pumps.

There is another pump in the stomach called the hydrogen-potassium ATP ACE pump that also requires potassium and allows the body to create stomach acid to help us digest food. These pumps are also in the muscles, and the nervous system.

Potassium, therefore, is essential for building these pumps and because of this potassium is needed for:

  • Charging the cell electrically: Our cells have certain voltage that allow things in and out of the cell to create energy for our body to function
  • Helping the muscles contract and relax: Potassium allows calcium to go into the cell. Calcium is essential for muscles to relax, and muscle cramps might be a sign of potassium deficiency
  • Helping in nerve conduction: The nerves need potassium too in order to conduct electricity
  • Controlling fluid and hydration in the body
  • Assisting in the production of energy in the body as a whole

Best food sources of potassium are dulse with 8,060 milligrams per 100 grams, kelp (5,273 mg.), goat whey (3,403 mg.), wheat bran (1,121 mg.), sunflower seeds (920 mg.), almonds (773 mg.), etc. Eating two generous garden salads each day containing at least 6 vegetables, will provide enough food sodium and food potassium to keep the body’s reserves. Processed foods have a lot more sodium and little potassium, while unprocessed foods provide more potassium than sodium.

Symptoms of potassium deficiency are:

  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of heaviness on muscles
  • Arrythmias, because the electrical impulses don’t work
  • Alteration in heart beat, like the ‘skipped beats’ characteristic of atrial fibrillation
  • Hypertension
  • Fluid retention
  • Lack of stomach acid, which translates into problems digesting protein and absorption of minerals
  • Constipation, the potassium from vegetables helps with constipation and keep the liver clean

Potassium levels can be low due to different reasons:

  • Not consuming enough vegetables in the diet
  • Surgery
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Too much sugar in the diet: High sugar can lead to a condition known as ‘insulin resistance’ in which the high levels of sugar cause the body to start ignoring insulin. Because insulin helps carry nutrients inside the cells and is necessary for the sodium-potassium pump to absorb nutrients, with insulin resistance, nutrients don’t get stored inside the cell
  • Diuretics: They flush the electrolytes from the body
  • Too much salt: It can deplete potassium
  • Ketogenic diets: As the body looses fat, urination is increased and potassium is lost
  • Drinking too much water
  • Stress

Most tests don’t show a deficiency in potassium because potassium stays inside the cell, with the exception of a very sophisticated test called ‘Intercellular test’.

Calcium and magnesium are also among the most important electrolytes for the body. They both combine with certain enzymes that break down foods, produce energy, form proteins and help make DNA.

Both calcium and magnesium are insufficient in the majority of the population. Lack of stomach acid can keep calcium from being absorbed. If calcium isn’t dissolved when it reaches the small intestine it is excreted. Calcium absorption requires vitamin A, C and D, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, manganese and zinc. For calcium to be used properly vitamin D, stomach acid, and trace elements zinc, copper, chromium, manganese and molybdenum are all necessary. Best magnesium foods are the green vegetables especially the chlorophyll rich leafy, green vegetables, poultry and fish. Best calcium foods are leafy, green vegetables, raw goat milk, nuts, seeds, ripe olives, white beans, lentils, broccoli, green snap beans (3).

Concluding, we have seen how water and salt are essential for healthy blood pressure. The minerals present in salt generate electrical currents that provide us with energy, even to the level of the cell. This is essential for the health of our heart.

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulics
  2. Batmanghelidj, F. Your Body’s Many Cries for Water. Place of Publication Not Identified: Tagman, 2004. Print.
  3. Jensen, Bernard. Come Alive. Escondido, CA: B. Jensen, 1997. Print.
  4. (http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/list-minerals-sea-salt-8907.html)

Are you dehydrated? How dehydration can influence blood pressure (Pt. 1)

We have seen how the body is a pressurized system that depends on fluidity to perform many important functions: transport of oxygen and nutrients, and detoxification. Good circulation means the body can receive oxygen, nutrients and can remove toxins. On the contrary, poor circulation translates into lack of oxygen, starvation and build up of toxins. For this reason, proper circulation could be said to be the key to good health. Health is movement and movement creates electrical energy to power our heart, brain and other organs.

The importance of this is shown in the composition of the body itself: 70% of the body’s weight is made out of water, 25-26% is made out of protein, fats, and carbohydrates and the remaining 4-5% is made out of minerals, trace elements and electrolytes.

In this blog, we will see look at the importance of proper hydration for heart health. We will focus on the importance of salt and the role it plays in water balance and healthy blood pressure.

The bodys hydraulic system

The word ‘hydraulics’ comes from the Greek meaning ‘water pipes’ and it is defined as the power exerted by pressurized fluids (1). The body’s circulation system is designed as the most advanced hydraulics system (2), with its miles of arteries and capillaries. This hydraulics system makes sure that water is distributed promptly wherever it is needed in the body.

In this sense, the vessels of the body are designed to cope with the fluctuation of their blood volume and the tissue requirements by opening and closing. When the total fluid volume in the body is decreased, the main vessels also have to decrease their aperture, otherwise there would not be enough fluid to fill all the space allocated to blood volume in the body (2).

Blood volume fluctuates regularly as the body’s needs change, and it is influenced by the ‘blood-holding capacity of the capillary bed that determines the direction and the rate of flow to any site at a given time’ (2). This process is naturally designed to cope with any priority work without the burden of maintaining an excess fluid volume in the body.

As a general rule, where there is a higher demand of blood, circulatory systems are kept fully open for the passage of blood. This is the case of digestion. When we eat, more capillaries are open in the gastrointestinal tract and fewer are open in the major muscle systems. This is why we feel less active after a meal. When digestion is finished, less blood is needed in the digestive tract so the circulation to other areas of the body can open more easily (2).

This shunting of blood is highly orchestrated by a mechanism that establishes the order of priorities for the capillaries to open or close. This order is predetermined according to a scale of importance and function: The brain, lungs, liver, kidneys and glands take priority over muscles, bones and the skin in blood distribution(2).

Water shortage: dehydration

Dehydration is a serious health problem. In normal circumstances, the water we drink gets inside the cells, and regulates the volume of a cell from the inside. Salt regulates the amount of water that is held outside the cells. Water balance is kept in the right place by a self regulating mechanism in the brain. However, dehydrating beverages like alcohol, tea, coffee, juices, and other commercial drinks, processed and denatured foods with chemical additives and not enough water can influence this water regulating mechanism negatively. Even milk in great quantities can cause greater volume of urine to be excreted that is ingested (3).

What is more, when we don’t drink enough water to keep all the needs of the body going, some cells become dehydrated and release some of their water to the body’s general circulation. ‘The capillaries in some parts of the body then have to close’ (2). This is because there is a very delicate balancing process in the design of the body in the way it maintains its composition of blood at the expense of fluctuating the water content in some cells of the body. When there is a shortage of water, some cells will go without a portion of their normal needs and some others will get a predetermined rationed amount to maintain function. However, the blood will normally retain the consistency of its composition. It must do so keep the normal composition of elements reaching the vital centers. Under circumstances of dehydration the body will favor blood even if it means to shut down some vascular vessels (2).

Loss of this self regulating brain mechanism (loss of thirst sensation) (2) is characteristic of the elderly (3), and it always translates into blood volume loss. When this happens, 66% of the water lost is taken from the water volume normally held in the cells, 26% is taken from the volume held outside the cells and 8% is taken from blood volume (2).

How dehydration can lead to hypertension

Under circumstances of water shortage, the blood vessels close to deal with the loss in blood volume in the less restrictive areas. This allows the body to keep the balance needed to keep other capillaries open. When the capillaries are closed and offer resistance, only an increased force behind the circulating blood will ensure the passage of some fluids through the system. This extra force increases blood pressure as it requires the heart to work harder to ‘push through’. To improve this condition, the capillaries must remain open and full and offer no resistance to blood circulation. Activities like exercise will allow the capillaries to open and hold a greater volume of blood within the circulation, relieving hypertension (2).

In this respect, high blood pressure is ‘an adaptive process to a gross body water deficiency’ (2). Essential hypertension should primarily be treated with an increase in daily water intake. When we don’t drink enough water, the body’s only way to keep its water volume is by keeping sodium in the body, only this way will water remain in the extra cellular fluid. This is not the healthy normal status of water balance, but a last resort way of retaining some water in cases of emergency needs.

Diuretics are ‘scientific absurdity’ (2) because they force the body to get rid of its water, making the body even more dehydrated. Water is the best natural diuretic.

Dr. Bernard Jensen also believed that not taking enough water before eating may cause the circulating blood to be too concentrated with nutrients, which could affect the liver, heart and lungs negatively. He recommended people with high blood pressure to increase their water intake with added potassium and magnesium, especially after heavy meals.

Dehydration, therefore, explains the need to increase blood pressure to build a ‘filtration force’in the body. The precaution to keep in mind is loss of salt from the body when water intake is increased and salt intake is not. Dr. Batmanghelidj’s recommendation is as follows:‘After a few days of taking six-eight-ten glasses of water a day, you should begin to think of adding some salt in your diet.’(2)

Water is also needed for digestion, assimilation, elimination, circulation, nutrient transport, temperature control and as a solvent and medium for chemical reactions to take place. But the body needs a certain amount of water, no less and no more. All but 1.5 quarts of the water in the body is recycled. The 1.5 quarts represent water plus waste that must be excreted from the body as urine (3).

The role of salt in fluid balance

We just mentioned how water stays in the inside of the cell, while salt stays on the outside of the cell. When we are talking about dehydration, both water and salt are of equal importance. ‘Salt is a most essential ingredient in the body’ (2). The body’s wisdom dictates the need to retain salt in order to keep water inside the system. It will take a gradual increase in urine to pass the excess salt out. Meanwhile, the ‘edema fluid’ many people are concerned about when they start supplementing with salt, is explained by the body’s need to ‘filter some of its water and flush it through the cell membrane into some of the cells’ (2). It is the same principle as a water osmosis purification system used in cities. This also explains the rise in blood pressure to build a ‘filtration force’.

Functions of salt in the body

Salt is a most essential ingredient of the body. ‘In order of importance, oxygen, water, salt and potassium rank as the primary elements for the survival of the human body.’ (2)

Salt has many functions:

About 27% of the salt content of the body is stored in the bones in the form of crystals. Thus, salt deficiency in the body also could be responsible for the development of osteoporosis, because salt will be taken out of the bones to maintain its vital normal levels in the blood.

Low salt intake will contribute to a build up of acidity in some cells. High acidity in the cell can damage the DNA structure and be the initiating mechanism for cancer formation in some cells. Experiments have shown that quite a number of cancer patients show low salt levels in their body.

Muscle cramps at night are a sign of becoming salt deficient. Also, dizziness and feeling faint might be indicators of salt and water shortage in the body. In these circumstances, an increase in vitamins and minerals intake is recommended, especially vegetables for their water soluble vitamin content (2).

Other health care professionals also believed in the importance of salt for health. Dr. Bernard Jensen had this to say about salt:

‘Sea salt (food sodium) is assimilated and stored especially in the walls of the stomach and the bowel where it neutralizes excess acids and protects the stomach and bowel wall from tissue damage due to acids. Sodium is also stored in the joints where it helps keep the joints supple and prevents calcium from coming out of solution to deposit in the joints as spurs.’ (3)

Differences between table salt and sea salt

Table salt is mainly sodium chloride and a caustic alkali with chlorine. Sodium chloride is not found alone in nature. In its natural state, it is mixed with other minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, sulfate, etc. that have to be separated in order to produce the kind of table salt that we buy at the store. This refining is done through a series of chemical procedures including bleaching and added chemicals. This kind of salt used excessively can rob calcium from the body, cause water retention, high blood pressure, loss of elasticity in blood vessels and hardened tissues (3).

Table salt enters the body in a concentrated form that the body cannot assimilate so it is sent to the kidneys. Food sodium, on the contrary, is not concentrated so it enters the system in an amount that can be controlled and directed to the right organs and tissues. The stomach and the intestine are sodium organs and are in need of constant food sodium.

Sea salt is the closest thing in nature to a natural mix of different mineral salts. It disperses little by little into the blood as it is broken down, digested and assimilated. Table salt, on the other side, overdoses the body with sodium which is more or less useless in the functioning of the various tissues and its main effect is to cause more water to be held in the tissues.’ (3)

Sea salt mineral composition

‘Sea salt comes from evaporated sea water…as a result, …sea salt has as many as 75 minerals and trace elements.’ Among them we can find:

Sodium and chloride: The most abundant ions in sea salt, representing about 33% and 50.9% of total minerals, respectively. They are both essential substances our body needs for normal function and nutrient absorption. Chloride specifically helps with muscle and nerve function. Sodium also acts in muscle function and helps regulate blood volume and pressure.

Potassium: Another important macro-mineral that works with chloride to help regulate acid levels in the body.

A quarter-teaspoon of Celtic sea salt contains 601.25 milligrams of chloride, 460 milligrams of sodium and 2.7 milligrams of potassium (4).

Calcium and magnesium: They both play essential roles in several chemical reactions in your body. Magnesium, for example, intervenes in energy production and the synthesis of RNA and DNA. Calcium helps give structure to bones and teeth, in addition to regulating heartbeat, normal muscle and nerve function. Both are present in sea salt at the approximate concentrations of 1.5 milligrams and 5.2 milligrams per 1/4 teaspoon, respectively (4).

Sulfur: It is the third most common mineral in sea salt. There is about 9.7 milligrams per quarter-teaspoon of sea salt. Even though it is not an essential mineral, sulfur plays an important role in the immune system and detoxification. Every cell in the body contains it, and it helps give structure to two amino acids. According to researcher Stephanie Seneff, Ph.D., sulfur is the eighth most common element in the human body and is important for normal metabolism and heart health (4).

Trace Elements: Trace elements are metals with very specific electrical and chemical properties. As such, they have electrical effects in our body and take place in particular and unique reactions. This is the case of many enzymes, where trace elements are found embedded deep within. Enzymes could not function without trace elements: On enzyme structures they serve as valuable spark plugs that help speed up chemical reactions. They also act on proteins like hemoglobin (carries oxygen in the blood) and myoglobin (which stores oxygen in the muscles). These reactions, despite being subtle, are very powerful, therefore, although needed in very minute amounts, trace elements, work with the rest of minerals to create health. Since processing removes all vitamins and minerals from food, it is important to eat fresh foods (3).

Trace elements are also essential because they work with other minerals to maintain optimal function in your body. Among the trace minerals found in sea salt are: Phosphorus, Boron, Zinc and iron (used by the body to make enzymes involved in metabolism), Manganese, Copper, Silicon and phosphorus. Phosphorus typically occurs in trace amounts in sea salt, but it is actually an essential macro-mineral. Our body uses it as a structural component of bones, teeth and cell membranes, as well as for energy production (4).

 

 

High blood pressure, the silent epidemic (Pt. 2)

Clinical studies on Dr. Rath’s cellular recommendations regarding high blood pressure

Scientific and clinical research have documented the value of these nutrients in normalizing high blood pressure. These cellular recommendations are based on the fact that millions of artery wall cells are supplied with cell fuel for optimum function.

Dr. Rath’s recommendations were tested in a clinical pilot study with 15 patients suffering from severe hypertension, age 32-69, for 32 weeks. They followed Dr. Rath’s recommendations as they continued their prescribed high blood pressure medications. At the beginning of the study the patients blood pressure was 167 over 97. Their blood pressure was taken every two weeks for the duration of the study. At the end of the study the patients’ blood pressure had dropped to 142 over 83, a 16% difference.

Other studies showed how each specific nutrient decreased the patients’ blood pressure. Vitamin C showed a drop in blood pressure of 5-10%, Coenzyme Q10 10-15%, magnesium 10-15% and arginine more than 10%.

Dr. Rath empasizes that with these nutrients the blood pressure never dropped to low levels, caused dizziness or other health problems, like is the case of overdosing with conventional medicine. (4)

Stress as a cause for hypertension

Stress will cause the body to run through nutrients a lot faster. Under stressful circumstances, it is even more important that the patient follows a high nutrient diet.

When we are under stress aldosterone levels raise. (8) Aldosterone is the major hormone maintaining both water balance and minerals in three places: the blood, the interstitial fluid (space between cells) and inside the cells. These minerals are some of the electrolytes and they are sodium, potassium magnesium and chloride. They are called electrolytes because they carry electrical charges.

Electrolytes are very important for proper cell function as we mentioned before. But to that we need to add that they are critical in maintaining fluid balance in the body. For this to occur, they must remain in a constant ratio to each other and to the body’s fluids. Small alterations in their ratios to each other or to their concentration in the body’s fluids will mean:

  1. Alterations in the properties of the fluids of the body
  2. Changes in the cell membrane
  3. Changes in the biochemical reactions within the cell
  4. Change in the physiological reactions in the body

All of which depend on this flow or concentration of electrolytes.

In the body, under normal circumstances, there is fluid inside the cell, fluid in the space between cells (interstitial fluid) and fluid in the blood, all these three have to be in balance and in the right ratio to one another. Together with water, we find potassium inside the cell, sodium in the space between cells and sodium in the blood. Aldosterone, because it is a very powerful hormone, can alter fluid volume and electrolyte ratio even in the smallest amounts, and this will increase blood pressure.

This is how it happens: As aldosterone rises, as is the case of stress, this hormone causes sodium to be pulled out of the cells’ interstitial fluid into the blood. Whenever sodium goes, so does water. This increased water volume in the blood is what raises blood pressure. It will show as water retention on the ankles even on the skin because aldosterone is also made in the skin.

Sodium and other minerals will then be excreted through the kidneys via urine. This loss of electrolytes will cause salt cravings. If you are on a low salt diet, the problem is exacerbated even more. James Wilson N.D., D.C., Ph. D. recommends to take kelp to replenish the sodium and potassium levels in the body. Kelp, he explains, contains both potassium and sodium in the right proportions in an easily assimilated form. The ‘Heart and Body Extract’ has kelp as one of its active ingredients which makes it a great way to replenish electrolytes when under stress.

Something that is important to understand about this condition is that under chronic stress, the body can become deficient in aldosterone and this will lead to the opposite effect, hypotension. This is what is called ‘adrenal fatigue’, which can cause dizziness, salt cravings, increased thirst, muscle weakness, decreased force of the heart’s contractions, irregular heartbeat, lightheadedness upon standing and lethargy. (8)

Ways to improve hypertension

Minimizing toxins coming from the diet, improving digestion like we have explained in previous blogs, especially digestion of fats, can keep the blood fluid and help the heart.

A supplement that can help accomplish this is the Gland Extract from the Healthy Hearts Club. The ingredients in the Gland Extract can help increase the absorption of nutrients and allow the body to have access to them. Among the ingredients in the Gland Extract you can find:

  1. Kelp, high in nutrients like iodine and potassium
  2. Horsetail grass, which helps the body utilize and hold calcium
  3. Digestive aids papaya and beet that help assimilate nutrients by assisting digestion and helping the bile system respectively
  4. Blood purifiers like red clover and chapparal, which cleanse the lymphatic system and the liver (9)

The ‘Heart and Body Extract’ also contains ingredients that help the digestive process and assist circulation. Namely garlic, ginger and cayenne. Mistletoe has been used to lower blood pressure and heart rate, it eases anxiety, and has been used as an herbal sleep aid. (10)

Moderate exercise will move the lymph and improve circulation. This is because lymph movement depends on muscle movement. Even a brisk walk can get muscles to put enough pressure on the lymphatic vessels to move things around. Sedentary lifestyle, on the contrary, will cause lymphatic congestion and will guarantee accumulation of toxins. And because there are large concentrations of lymph nodes and muscles next to the lungs, deep breathing will work to reduce lymph congestion too. As you breath deeply, these muscles move , moving the lymph. (7)

Concluding, high blood pressure does not have to be the silent mysterious condition it has been. We can keep it at bay by improving digestion, changing our eating habits, and getting some exercise. Products like the Heart and Body Extract and the Gland Extract can keep blood pressure stay at healthy levels.

Thank you for reading.

References:

(1) Ignarro, Louis J. No More Heart Disease: How Nitric Oxide Can Prevent – Even Reverse – Heart Disease and Strokes. Place of Publication Not Identified: Tdc, 2005. Print.

(2) Sinatra, Stephen T., James Roberts, and Martin Zucker. Reverse Heart Disease Now: Stop Deadly Cardiovascular Plaque before It’s Too Late. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2007. Print

(3) http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@sop/@smd/documents/downloadable/ucm_319587.pdf

(4) Rath, Matthias. Why Animals Don’t Get Heart Attacks– but People Do!: The Discovery That Will Eradicate Heart Disease: The Natural Prevention of Heart Attacks, Strokes, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, High Cholesterol and Many Other Cardiovascular Conditions. Santa Clara, CA: Dr. Rath Education Services USA, 2003. Print.

(5) Guyton, Arthur C., and John E. Hall. Textbook of Medical Physiology. 1104p.: Ill. (some Col.), n.d. Print.

(6) http://thetraumapro.com/2016/12/15/how-does-it-work-the-lowly-blood-pressure-cuff/

(7) http://pharmacistben.com/toxic/anti-hypertensive-drugs/

(8) Wilson, Jim. Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. Lanham: Smart Publications, 2010. Print.

(9) http://hhcextracts.com/

(10) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/mistletoe-herbs.html

High blood pressure, the silent epidemic (Pt. 1)

High blood pressure is considered ‘the single largest epidemic’ by many health care professionals (1) (2), and the most prevalent reason why people visit the doctor’s office (1). It is also significant that one third of individuals affected have no symptoms and don’t even know they have this condition. (2)

According to the ‘American Heart Association’, 1 out of every 3 people, or 78 million adults in the United States have high blood pressure. (3) 90% of these cases are considered ‘essential hypertension’ and the causes are unknown. However, many health care professionals, like Dr. Matthias Rath and Dr. Stephen Sinatra believe high blood pressure has been insufficiently understood, until now. And while causal factors like age, body weight, diet, heredity, kidney infection, and stress have always been considered the most probable causes, they assert there are other causes that have not received much attention. (2) (4)

High blood pressure if left untreated can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Dr. Stephen Sinatra asserts that it can conspire with other risk factors like smoking, oxidized LDL, and toxic metals, and “literally pound these toxins into the artery walls, weakening blood vessels at the bends and splits and accelerate the inflammatory-plaque cascade.” (2)

In previous blogs we looked at low thyroid as a cause for hypertension. In this blog, we will look at other reasons for high blood pressure. We will also see how the Gland Extract and the Heart and Body Extract can help.

 What is blood pressure?

 Blood pressure is defined as the ‘force the blood exerts against the walls of the arteries as it moves through the circulatory system’ (1). Any kind of resistance to this normal blood flow, like it is the case of constricted blood vessels, will increase blood pressure. On the contrary, “(when) arteries are relaxed and widened, blood flows more easily and blood pressure decreases.” (1)

Blood pressure is almost always measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). In this sense, when we say that the pressure is 140 mm Hg, for example, what it means is that the force exerted by the blood against the blood vessel is sufficient to push a column of mercury up to a level 140 mm high. Occasionally, pressure is measured in centimeters of water (cm H2O), which points to the pressure needed to raise a column of water to a height of 10 centimeters. 1 millimeter of mercury equals 1.36 cm H2O. (5).

Doctors used to have a sphygmomanometer and a stethoscope to get manual blood pressure readings, but nowadays there are other methods to measure blood pressure that do not require so much work.

An automatic blood pressure device can be used to take blood pressure at home. “It consists of a cuff, tubing that connects it to the monitor, a pressure transducer in line with the tubing, a mini air pump, and a small computer. The transducer can “see” through the tubing and into the cuff.” (6)

With devices like this, anybody can have an instant reading of their blood pressure and monitor their progress with several readings.

There are two numbers that are taken when measuring blood pressure:

  1. The systolic pressure: it is the force on the arterial walls as the heart beats to pump out blood. This is when blood pressure is at its highest.
  2. The diastolic pressure: it is the pressure on the walls as the heart relaxes between beats and fills with blood.

Optimal blood pressure is considered to be under 120-80, normal 129-84, high normal 130-139 and hypertension 140-90 and up. (1)

High blood pressure is usually silent because there are no symptoms. However, this does not mean there is no damage being done internally. According to Dr. Louis J. Ignarro, Nobel Laureate in Medicine, chronic high blood pressure “can gradually lead to inflammation of the arteries, which is followed by arteriosclerosis and plaque formation. It can also enlarge the heart, trigger a heart attack or stroke and set the stage for kidney failure.” (1)

 Why pressure?

Benjamin Fuchs, R Ph explains that the body is a pressurized system powered via the rhythmical pumping action of the heart. This is the way nutrients and oxygen are distributed through the body, and cellswaste is detoxified.“From the heart, (nutrients and oxygen) enter into the large arteries, then travel into smaller and smaller vessels until they reach the tiniest capillaries which are in close contact with cells. And this is the ultimate goal of the ‘Journey of the Blood’: to reach a cell with nutrients and oxygen and then as it leaves on its return trip back to the heart, to drain away its wastes.”

We could say this is health in a nutshell. And it is essential to understand that each of the 100 trillion cells in our body depends on this free flow for nutrition, oxygenation and detoxification.

We also need to remember that the blood is a liquid organ, and as all liquids, it depends on pressure to move. To understand this, we could compare our heart and arterial system to a garden hose. If we wanted to reach far with our hose we would increase the pressure, wouldn’t we? In the body it is the force of blood flow (pressure) which is needed to “bathe and nourish cells and rinse away the cellular waste.” (7)

What causes high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is not a disease in itself, but the manifestation of more serious chronic health conditions (2). To treat high blood pressure successfully, we need to understand these underlying causes properly.

Using the same comparison we used before, let us now imagine our hose is full of dirt inside. Would the water flow as forcefully? Obviously not, because something is preventing the free flow of water. In the body, this could be caused by toxins present in the blood, blood clots, which would cause the blood to thicken, but also by damaged arteries, etc, which will also affect circulation and require extra pressure in order to ‘push through’.

In fact, a diagnosis of hypertension refers to “a resistance to blood flow”and “increased pressure in the blood vessel.”This means that under these conditions “it becomes harder and harder for blood to make it to its ultimate destination, the capillaries and the cells., which ironically means that this increase in pressure at the level of the blood vessels (where a blood pressure cuff works), is low pressure at the level of the capillaries and cells. And this is where it becomes a problem, because low blood pressure means less nutrient and oxygen delivery, and less detoxification of these cells. In other words, the high blood pressure caused by any kind of resistance in the flow of blood is also causing the pressure to be low at a cell level. (7)

One of the main reasons for these toxins and clots is a digestive system that is not processing food correctly and ultimately causing ‘leaky gut’, which exacerbates the problem even more by causing more toxins and undigested particles of food to end up in the blood. This is why digestion is so important for heart health. For a full explanation on this, please read our previous blogs on the digestive system.

The lymphatic and circulatory systems

Benjamin Fuchs explains that the lymphatic system, while often regarded as distinct from the circulatory system, is essentially one and the same. “There are just as many miles of lymphatic vessels as there are blood vessels. And they are connected. They are in essence one system. Both branch out from centralized large vessels into teeny tiny capillaries at which point nutrients are dropped into tissues and cells and then picked up again for a return trip. At this point, an uptake between systems takes place and what was in the blood becomes the lymph and what was in the lymph becomes the blood….The implications of the merging and unification of these two systems for blood pressure health is significant. It means that blood pressure actually depends on the fluidity and movement of two systems, not just one.”(7)

What is also important to understand about the lymph system is that it is the bodys waste disposal system, and while both the blood and the lymph are susceptible to toxins coming from the digestive system, the lymph is particularly vulnerable. “It’s the main port of egress for gross gunk that accumulates from bad living and eating.”(7)

What this means for hypertension is that when it comes to blood toxicity, the lymph is just as important as the circulatory system. Specifically, the lymphatic system is very prone to congestion from fat malabsorbtion. In addition to being a route for the elimination of toxins, it’s also a transport system for essential fatty acids (EFAs), fatty vitamins and other dietary fats. What this means is that proper digestion of fats is essential for healthy blood pressure.

Pharmacist Benjamin Fuchs also explains that pharmaceutical anti-hypertensives like beta blockers or calcium channel blocker drugs slow down the pump (the heart), lowering the pressure but reducing the flow to the already deprived cell. Likewise, vasodilators, which widen the vessels, and diuretics, which reduce the blood’s fluid content, also lower pressure at the level of a cell, leading to cellular starvation, suffocation and toxification, making the person even sicker.

Other causes for hypertension

Dr. Matthias Rath also points to chronic nutritional deficiencies as a major cause for high blood pressure. He explains that under circumstances of undernourishment, millions of artery cells lack the nutrients they need to relax blood vessels, causing spasms and a thickening of the blood vessel walls, which can ultimately elevate the pressure.

On the contrary, when blood vessels are relaxed, this decreases vascular wall tension and keeps blood pressure in the normal range.

The essential nutrients he is referring to are vitamin C, magnesium, arginine, and coenzyme Q10.

Arginine is a natural amino acid that provides the cells with nitric oxide. Nitric oxide relaxes and decreases the tension of the artery walls and lowers elevated blood pressure, which increases the elasticity of the artery walls and helps to normalize blood pressure.

Vitamin C increases the production of prostacycline, a small molecule that relaxes the blood vessel walls and keeps blood viscosity at optimum levels. Bioflavonoids are catalysts which, among others, improve the efficacy of vitamin C.

Magnesium is calcium’s partner, it is essential for optimal mineral balance in the blood vessels’ wall cells, decreases tension and lowers elevated blood pressure.

Other nutrients that are essential are Vitamin E, the entire B complex, minerals, including calcium, potassium, phosphate, and trace elements including zinc, manganese, copper, selenium, chromium, and molybdenum.

Vitamin E provides antioxidant protection of cell membranes and blood components, calcium optimizes mineral metabolism, decreases tension of the artery walls and lowers elevated blood pressure.

Optimum mineral balance is necessary for the relaxation of the artery walls. Since arteriosclerosis is linked to high blood pressure, lysine and proline are needed to protect the artery walls and prevent the development of arteriosclerotic plaques.

 

The role of vitamin C in heart health (Pt. 2) 

The ‘Ultrafast Computed Tomography’ test 

The underlying problem in atherosclerosis is “the instability of the vascular wall, which triggers the development of atherosclerotic deposits.” (1)

Dr. Rath’s cellular health recommendations were put to the test using a new diagnostic technique known as ‘Ultrafast Computed Tomography’. UCT is a “Non-invasive test for coronary heart disease (that) measures the area and density of calcium deposits without the use of needles or radioactive dye.” High levels of accumulated calcium correlates with more advanced coronary heart disease.

Because it directly measures the deposits in the artery walls, UCT is the “most precise diagnostic technique available today to detect coronary heart disease already in its early stages, (and)…allows the detection of deposits in the coronary arteries long before a patients notices angina pectoris or other symptoms.” (1)

55 patients with different degrees of cardiovascular heart disease were studied, before and after Dr. Rath’s vitamin supplementation program. During the first six months of this study, the growth of coronary artery deposits was slowed down, and essentially stopped during the second six months.

This study was very significant because it measured for the first time how aggressive coronary heart disease progresses until eventually a heart attack occurs. It gave us invaluable information about the time it takes for a vitamin program to show a repair effect on the artery wall. This is remarkable taking into account that atherosclerotic deposits develop over many years or decades.

Without vitamin protection the coronary calcifications increased at a rapid rate, an average of 44% per year. Researches like this are a proof that a vitamin program, with the essential ingredients needed to start the natural healing process of the artery wall, are important.

According to the research of Dr. Rath, in patients with advanced coronary artery disease, a good supplement program can “stabilize the artery walls, halt the further growth of coronary deposits, reverse them, at least in part, and contribute to the prevention of heart attacks.” (1)

Clinical studies on vitamin supplementation 

Many clinical and epidemiological studies have documented the prevention of cardiovascular disease with vitamins. Dr. James Enstrom performed a government supported study showing that people who consumed at least 300 mg per day of vitamin C through their diet or in the form of supplements, could reduce their heart disease risk up to 50% in men and up to 40% in women. The same study showed that a higher intake of vitamin C was associated with an increased life expectancy of up to six years.

Dr. G.C. Willis did a study that showed how dietary vitamin C can reverse atherosclerosis. In this study, the patients that had received 1.5 grams of vitamin C per day for one year showed a 30% reduction of symptoms. The group of patients who had not received any vitamin C supplementation clearly had deposits that stayed the same or increased.

Optimum dietary intake of vitamin E, beta-carotene and other essential nutrients also significantly reduced cardio vascular disease risk in extensively documented researches: 200 IU of vitamin E per day was shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks by 34%, compared to the average intake of just 3 in the American population. What is more, 400-800 IU of vitamin E showed a reduction of 47% in non-fatal heart attacks. Similarly, just 50 mg per day of beta carotene was also shown to significantly decrease cardiovascular disease risk.

Another study showed that adequate levels of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid helped in lowering homocysteine levels and the risk of coronary heart disease.

A large scale study conducted by Dr. Sudhir Kurl and his colleagues at the University of Kuopio in Finland showed that optimum vitamin C intake is the single most important factor for preventing strokes in high blood pressure patients. This study was done over a 10 year period with more than 2,400 patients who were overweight and suffered from high blood pressure. This study showed that low levels of vitamin C increased the risk for a stroke by almost threefold.

In another 20-year study involving more than 2,000 patients over two decades, Dr. Tetsuji Yokoyama and his colleagues from the University of Tokyo in Japan showed that optimum vitamin C intake is the single most important factor for preventing all forms of strokes in men and women.

Dr. Rath’s cellular health recommendations for patients with coronary heart disease 

For patients with existing coronary heart disease or a high risk for this condition Dr. Rath’s recommendations consist on the following cellular micronutrients in high doses:

Vitamin C: Provides protection and assists in healing the artery wall and helps reverse plaques

Vitamin E: Antioxidant protection

Vitamin D: Optimizes calcium metabolism and the reversal of calcium deposits in the artery wall

Folic acid: Provides a protective function against increased homocysteine levels together with B6, vitamin b12 and biotin

Biotin: Provides a protective function against increased homocysteine levels together with vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and folic acid

Copper: Supports stability of the artery wall with the improved cross-linking of collagen molecules

Proline: Supports collagen production, stability of the artery wall and reversal of plaques

Lysine: Supports collagen production, stability of the artery wall and reversal of plaques

Chondroiton sulfate: Supports the stability of the artery wall as a ‘cement’ for connective tissue

N-acetyl-glucosamine: Supports the stability of the artery wall as a cement for connective tissue

Pycnogenol: Acts as a biocatalyst for better vitamin C function and improved stability of the artery wall

The proof: vitamin C deficiency causes atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease 

To prove this Dr. Rath conducted an experiment with guinea pigs, which are one of the few animals in the animal kingdom that are unable to manufacture vitamin C. Two groups of guinea pigs received exactly the same daily amounts of cholesterol, fats, proteins, sugars, salt, etc, except vitamin C. Group B received 60 mg of vitamin C per day, compared to human body weight. Group A received 5,000 mg of vitamin C per day. After only 5 weeks the vitamin C deficient animal in group B developed atherosclerotic deposits particularly in the areas close to the heart. The aortas of the animals in group A remained healthy and did not show any deposits, showing an intact cell barrier between the bloodstream and artery wall. The arteries of the vitamin C deficient animals lost the protection and stability of their arteries showing a fragmented collagen structure.

Another confirmation of the vitamin C-cardiovascular disease connection was published by a research team from the University of N. Carolina in the ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ in 2000. Researchers examined the arteries of normal mice and found they did not have atherosclerosis, which is expected because these animals make their own vitamin C. These researchers then shut down the gene that is responsible for converting glucose into vitamin C in the livers of these animals. They also changed their diets where the animals did not receive any vitamin C. As a result, the animals developed lesions and cracks, and cholesterol levels rose in order to repair the artery wall weaknesses caused by weakened arteries. According to Dr. Rath, this experiment confirmed two important facts in coronary artery disease:

  1. Vitamin C deficiency is a primary cause of heart disease
  2. High cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, but the consequence

A new understanding of the nature of heart disease 

With these experiments, Dr. Rath redefines heart disease as a vitamin deficiency condition. In this light, lesions are considered the end result of an instability and dysfunction of the blood vessel wall caused by chronic vitamin deficiency that leads to millions of small lesions and cracks in the artery walls. This is especially the case of the coronary arteries because of the constant pumping of the heart.

Once the weakness in the artery walls starts, repair is initiated by cholesterol and other repair factors that are produced in the liver, and transported in the bloodstream to the artery walls. This repair mechanism is an ongoing process that compensates the unavailability of vitamin C in the diet.

The natural reversal of cardiovascular disease 

Dr. Rath has observed that “around the core of the plaque, a local ‘tumor’ forms from muscle cells typical in the artery wall” (1). This muscle cell tumor is another way in which the body stabilizes the vitamin deprived artery wall. The deposit of lipoproteins from the bloodstream and the muscle cell tumor in the artery wall are the most important factors that determine the size of the plaque and thereby the progression of coronary heart disease.

The main idea behind reversing atherosclerosis is to start the healing process in the artery wall that has been weakened by chronic vitamin deficiencies. Besides vitamin C, which stimulates production of collagen molecules, other nutrients that Dr. Rath recommends for optimum collagen production are lysine, proline, vitamin E (to halt the cell overgrowth around plaque), beta-carotene and selenium (for anti-oxidant protection of the artery wall).

Dr. Rath explains that for a protocol to work it has to support optimum collagen production. “The collagen molecules in our bodies are proteins composed of amino acids. Collagen molecules differ from all other proteins in the body in that they make particular use of the amino acids lysine and proline”. Thus, together with vitamin C the arteries need proline, and lysine for the optimum regeneration of the connective tissue in the artery walls, and therefore the natural healing of cardiovascular disease.

With an optimum supply of essential nutrients the smooth muscle cells of artery wall produce sufficient amounts of functional collagen guaranteeing optimum stability of the wall. On the contrary, vitamin deficiency leads to the production of faulty and dysfunctional collagen molecules by the arterial muscle cells. These muscle cells multiply to form an atherosclerotic tumor. Vitamin C and E can inhibit the growth of this atherosclerotic tumor.

How the “Heart and Body Extract” can help your heart 

Each of the ingredients in the “Heart and Body Extract” has been carefully selected to optimize heart function. Let us look at each ingredient individually.

Cayenne has been described by some herbalists and physicians as the catalyst herb, because it increases the effectiveness of other herbs. Cayenne is considered the most useful and valuable herb in the herb kingdom, not only for the heart and circulatory system, but also for the entire digestive system. It is a very high source of Vitamins A, C and the complete B complex while being rich in organic calcium and potassium, which is one of the reasons it has been suggested for the heart. It also helps in the absorption of vitamins and prescription medicines.

In addition to its ability to stimulate the circulatory and digestive systems, it has a tonic and antiseptic affect, increasing perspiration, thus eliminating toxins through the skin.

Cayenne is helpful in stopping heart attacks, regulating blood pressure, and nourishing the heart cells. Also, the herb has been found useful for providing protection to the stomach lining from aspirin. (2)

Garlic has been extensively researched for heart disease. It has been found very helpful for lowering cholesterol, and numerous large studies have shown that taking supplements that mimic fresh garlic can significantly lower LDL cholesterol levels without hurting beneficial HDL cholesterol levels. Garlic appears to do this by blocking the liver from making too much LDL cholesterol.

There is also some suggestion that garlic can help in lowering blood pressure by dilating the blood vessels. Researchers are finding that it can help to prevent blood clots and therefore reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. (3)

Hawthorne is high in vitamin C, pectin and other substances. Therefore, it is primarily used to treat the heart’s blood vessels. It has been shown to have a mild but positive effect blood circulation. Hawthorn is thought to be particularly useful in the early stages of heart failure, such as heart failure followed by respiratory ailments and poor peripheral circulation and tendency to develop edema. In these cases, hawthorn can be used with supplemental coenzyme Q10. Hawthorn may delay the development of more serious heart disease and delay the need for stronger heart medications. Several double blind tests have shown that patients with early stages of cardiovascular disorders have increased physical endurance and improved cardiac function (as measured by ECG) after using standardized hawthorn extracts for few weeks. Hawthorne is thought to promote blood flow in the vessels around the heart, increase metabolism in the heart muscle, making the heart work more efficiently and to increase cardiac muscle tolerance due to lack of oxygen.

In cases of decreased ability to pump enough blood, usually caused by prolonged high blood pressure, previous heart attacks, diseases related to the heart valves or heart muscle, or chronic lung diseases such as asthma or emphysema, hawthorne is thought to help with the general weakness, fatigue and shortness of breath common to heart failure.

Hawthorn is also believed to improve circulation in the arms and legs by reducing resistance in the arteries. This is partly due to its ability to inhibit a substance in the body known as ‘angiotensin-converting enzyme’ (ACE). ACE is related to the formation of angiotensin II, a substance that has strong astringent effect on the blood vessels.

Hawthorn has sometimes been used to normalize blood pressure, not only to treat high blood pressure but to increase blood pressure that is too low. The herb can be prescribed in order to slightly elevate blood pressure and to treat cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heart beat), especially in the elderly. It may also be used as a treatment for hypertension caused by arteriosclerosis, or kidney disease. In addition, hawthorn has a secondary action as a diuretic, a common symptom of heart failure.

Hawthorn can be used to treat or prevent ‘angina pectoris’, the chest pain that occurs when the heart muscle does not receive enough oxygen. A study conducted in 1983 showed the applicability of hawthorn extract to treat patients with this condition. 60 patients were given either 180 mg extract or placebo daily for three weeks. The patients who took hawthorn could train for longer periods without suffering from angina attacks. ECGs showed better blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart in these patients than in those receiving a placebo.

Hawthorn can be used together with garlic as a remedy for angina and reduced blood circulation. Coenzyme Q10 can also be used with hawthorn.

Hawthorn acts by dilating the blood vessels and helping improve blood transport to all parts of the body.

The herb also seems to have dampening effect on atherosclerosis, and it can be useful for people who struggle with confusion and poor memory caused by reduced blood supply to the brain.

Since hawthorn is believed to have a good effect on the capillaries in the body, it may be useful for those who bruise easily. However, the herb has to be used for at least 3-4 weeks before any reduction in the formation of bruises can be seen. (4)

Coleus forskohlii is a popular herb for angina. It increases stroke volume, which is the amount of blood pumped in each heart beat, and reduces the risk of blood clots. In addition, the herb lowers high blood pressure by relaxing the arterial walls.

Indian and Chinese studies in the last two years have isolated a number of diterpenoids in the stem and leaves of coleus forskohlii with a focus on treatment of gastric cancer and preventing metastatic (secondary) cancers. These have been carried out on animal models with considerable success. (5)

Motherwort has been for centuries as a medicinal plant to treat hypertension. The herb has diuretic properties and may inhibit artery calcification formation.

It is also used as a remedy for milder forms of Graves’ disease (an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid). The German Commission E states that motherwort can be used for irregularities related to the heart caused by over stimulation of the thyroid gland (Hyperthyroidism / thyrotoxicosis).

Motherwort is considered more effective in lowering blood pressure than valerian, and the plant’s high content of vitamins A and C also add to its beneficial effect.

Extracts of the plant have been used as treatment for mild and chronic cardiac and vascular diseases, especially in the elderly.

It has also been used for rapid heart rate, some other minor irregularities in the heart’s rhythm and to reduce the risk of blood clots (thrombosis).

Many herbalists consider the plant particularly effective in treating palpitations (tachycardia), especially when this is due to anxiety. The herb has been used traditionally for most heart related problems associated with anxiety, tension and stress.

A lot of research has been done on this herb, especially in the Western world, where the traditional use of both the European and Chinese species of motherwort as a treatment for heart related disorders has been extensive. In one case, Chinese scientists found that the herb, or extracts from it, increased the volume of blood circulation, stimulated uterine activity and promoted the flow of urine.

Other recently performed studies indicate that the herb has antioxidant, immune-boosting and cancer protective properties and one study done on laboratory animals has indicated that certain alkaloids found in the herb can lower blood pressure and have positive effect on the central nervous system. (6)

Bilberry is another great addition to the “Heart and Body Extract”. The use of bilberry as a medicinal herb goes back all the way to the 16th century. The berries contain pectin, quercetin, A, B, and C vitamins which makes it a natural antioxidant, lowering blood pressure, reducing clotting and improving blood supply to the nervous system. The leaves contain the trace mineral manganese and other compounds.

Bilberry can be used as a supportive treatment for diabetes, both because the berries reduce blood sugar and because they can prevent eye diseases and blood vessel disorders that can accompany diabetes. This effect is probably due to the flavonoid quercetin which is the main active ingredient in the herb. Quercetin inhibits an enzyme called ‘aldose reductase’. The enzyme is normally found in the eye and several other body parts and converts sorbitol to glucosel. If the sorbitol levels become too high in the eyes or nerves, they can cause retinopathy (disease of the retina) and nerve damage. Many people with diabetes use an aldose reductase inhibitor to prevent eye problems related to the disease.

Bilberry is used to help address vascular and blood disorders, varicose veins, thrombosis, hemorrhoids and as an herbal treatment for angina. It can also help to prevent capillary fragility and thin the blood.

Bilberry is used traditionally as a natural remedy for kidney stones, scurvy and urinary infections. (7)

Butcher’s broom is generally used as an anti-inflammatory, to improve blood circulation, and to ameliorate water retention discomfort. This medicinal herb is believed to tighten the veins of the circulatory system and fortify the walls of capillary vessels.

Its high flavonoid content, such as rutin, improves the flow of blood to the brain, hands, and legs, and acts to reduce the blood clotting and post-surgical thrombosis.

The use of this medicinal herb as a tonic was recorded in the manuscripts of ancient Greeks. However, only after 1950s, the medical properties of this herb have been spread to the West. In the 1970s, Europe affirmed the extending popularity of the herbal remedies in the modern medicine. Now, the modern herbal medical practitioners commonly use the leaves of the plant as an anti-inflammatory agent and circulatory tonic for a variety of vascular disorders.

Because of its mild diuretic action, butcher’s broom acts as herbal remedy for reducing swelling of the legs, and it seems to be useful in the treatment of phlebitis and natural treatment for varicose veins.

Some herbalists recommend the use of butcher’s broom for the treatment and prevention of a variety of ailments such as atherosclerosis and chronic venous insufficiency. (8)

Mistletoe has been used by herbal practitioners as a treatment for urinary disorders, heart disease, and other symptoms arising from a weakened or disordered state of the nervous system. Mistletoe has been used to lower blood pressure and heart rate, ease anxiety, and as an herbal sleep aid. (9)

Ginger has been used for digestive health to treat common gastrointestinal complaints such as indigestion and heartburn, but heart health is another of its benefits. It has been shown to slow the production of LDL and triglycerides in the liver and prevent the clotting and aggregation of platelets in the blood vessels, associated with atherosclerosis and blood clots. (10)

Concluding, the role of nutrition in heart health has been extensively researched. Because of the great workload the heart is subjected to, it is the most vulnerable to nutritional deficiencies. Key nutrients like Vitamin C can keep the heart arteries strong and resilient.

Get the ‘pump’ your heart needs by starting a supplemental program, like the “Heart and Body Extract”

Thank you for reading.

References:

(1) Rath, Matthias. Why Animals Don’t Get Heart Attacks– but People Do!: The Discovery That Will Eradicate Heart Disease: The Natural Prevention of Heart Attacks, Strokes, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, High Cholesterol and Many Other Cardiovascular Conditions. Santa Clara, CA: Dr. Rath Education Services USA, 2003. Print.

(2) http://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/cayenne-pepper-herb.htmlhttp://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/cayenne-pepper-herb.html

(3) http://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/garlic-herb.htmlhttp://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/garlic-herb.html

(4) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/hawthorn-tree.htmlhttps://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/hawthorn-tree.html

(5) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/coleus-forskohlii.htmlhttps://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/coleus-forskohlii.html

(6) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/motherwort-benefits.htmlhttps://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/motherwort-benefits.html

(7) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/bilberry-herb.htmlhttps://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/bilberry-herb.html

(8) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/butchers-broom-herb.htmlhttps://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/butchers-broom-herb.html

(9) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/mistletoe-herbs.htmlhttps://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/mistletoe-herbs.html

(10) https://www.herbal-supplement-resource.com/ginger-root.html

The role of vitamin C in heart health (Pt. 1)

Almost everybody has heard of vitamin C, but how many are aware of the key role this vitamin has in heart health? Out of a ‘blood vessel pipeline system’ that measures an astounding 60,000 miles, the arteries of the heart are the ones that suffer the most ‘wear and tear’ in the body. Taking into account that the heart beats more than 100,000 times a day, it is understandable that the coronary arteries are the most stressed in the body. It is also the reason why they are the most vulnerable to nutrient deficiencies. To quote Dr. Matthias Rath, “Your body is as old as your cardiovascular system, and optimizing your cardiovascular health adds years to your life.” (1)

In what follows we will look at how vitamin C can be crucial to the health of our heart. We will learn why Dr. Rath asserts that vitamin C deficiency is a primary cause of heart disease, and learn why supplementation with this vitamin can be crucial. We will also look at the nutritional content of the “Heart and Body Extract”.

The mighty artery 

It is said that a chain is as strong as its weakest link… In order to withstand the constant pressure the pumping action of the heart puts the coronary arteries under, the arteries have to stay strong and resilient. This is accomplished by the collagen fibers each artery is composed of. These fibers are key to the strength of the arteries.

According to Dr. Rath, when looked under a powerful microscope, each of the collagen fibers comprising our arteries looks like an iron bar. Actually, each collagen fiber “is stronger than an iron wire of comparable width.” (1)

Vitamin C is like cement for the artery wall 

Vitamin C is directly related to the resilience of this body tissue and, as a consequence, helps in many ways in the prevention of cardiovascular disease: heart attacks, strokes and atherosclerosis. For one, vitamin C encourages the production of collagen, elastin and other reinforcement molecules. These biological reinforcement rods constitute the body’s connective tissue, which comprises approximately 50% of all the proteins in our bodies. Increased production of collagen means improved stability for the 60,000 mile long pipeline of our arteries, veins and capillaries. For this reason, vitamin C is considered to be like cement to the artery walls. Optimal amounts of vitamin C are necessary.

In addition, vitamin C is an anti-oxidant that serves as a co-factor in many biochemical reactions in the body’s cells.

When vitamin C stores are depleted in the body, a gradual breakdown of the body’s connective tissue, including blood vessel walls, starts. This causes “leaky blood vessel walls” which Dr. Rath refers to as “arterial scurvy”, and this is in his opinion “the main cause for heart attacks and strokes.” (1)

The average diet contains enough vitamin C to prevent scurvy but not enough to guarantee stable reinforced artery walls. As a consequence, hundreds of tiny cracks and lesions develop along the artery walls.

From tiny cracks to atherosclerotic plaques 

The main cause of atherosclerosis is the biological weakness of the artery walls caused by chronic vitamin deficiency; they develop as a compensatory stabilizing force to strengthen an already weakened blood vessel wall. Once the artery wall is weakened by vitamin C deficiency, it begins to form little cracks. The body then mobilizes its repair mechanisms: cholesterol and other millions of fat particles (lipoproteins) enter the damaged area in order to start repair. These are deposited in the artery wall by means of biological “adhesives”, which eventually lead to atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerotic deposits in coronary arteries reduce the blood flow and impair oxygen and nutrient supply to millions of heart muscle cells. The coronary arteries of patients with angina pectoris typically look completely blocked. Heart attacks can occur when a blood clot forms on top of the atherosclerotic deposit interrupting the blood flow through the artery. Millions of heart muscle cells die, impairing the heart muscle and causing death. If the deposits are in the arteries of brain, it can lead to strokes.

Atherosclerotic deposits usually develop over many years, this is why Dr. Rath recommends to start prevention as early as possible. Atherosclerosis is not a disease caused by age though; studies of soldiers in the Korean and Vietnam wars aged 25 or younger showed atherosclerotic deposits.

The role of nutrition 

Together with vitamin C, natural “teflon” agents neutralize these adhesive particles. These are the natural amino acids lysine and proline. These two amino acids become even more effective in combination with other vitamins. This is why a complete vitamin based program is necessary for the cells of the artery walls to initiate the healing process. According to Dr. Matthias Rath, these micronutrients provide essential bioenergy for millions of cells composing the cardiovascular system.” (1)

Cellular Medicine, a new understanding of health and disease 

Cellular medicine looks at cardiovascular health and disease as it regards the millions of cells that comprise the organ we call the heart. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals can keep the heart cells starving and therefore unable to do their job. Cellular medicine takes into consideration the following:

Cells of the blood vessel walls: Known as ‘endothelial cells’, they form a protective barrier between the blood and the blood vessel wall. They also contribute to a number of metabolic functions such as optimum blood viscosity. The smooth muscle cells produce collagen and other reinforcement molecules, providing optimum stability and tone to the blood vessel walls.

Deposits and spasms of the blood vessel walls are the causes of high blood pressure. Dietary supplementation of magnesium and vitamin C relaxes the blood vessel walls and normalizes blood pressure. The amino acid arginine can also be beneficial for these cells.

Blood cells: The millions of cells circulating in our blood are responsible for transporting oxygen, wound healing and many other functions.

Cells of the heart muscle: The heart muscle pumps so circulation can be possible. A subtype of heart muscle cells is responsible for conducting electricity for each heartbeat.

The millions of muscle cells need fuel for optimum performance: carnitine, coenzyme Q10, B vitamins, etc will optimize the pumping performance of the heart and contribute to a regular heartbeat.

Nutrition for the cell 

Since the cardiovascular system is the most active organ system of our bodies, it has the highest consumption of essential nutrients. This means that all the millions of cells we just mentioned need nutrition in order to do their job. Long-term deficiency of vitamins and other essential nutrients in millions of vascular wall cells impairs the function of the blood vessels walls. The result is high blood pressure and development of atherosclerotic deposits which lead to heart attacks and strokes.

Vitamin deficiencies in artery wall cells can lead to:

Increased artery wall tension

Narrowing of artery diameter

Thickening of artery walls and high blood pressure

Instability of artery wall

Lesion and cracks

Atherosclerotic deposits, heart attacks and strokes

Vitamin deficiency in millions of heart cells can contribute to irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) and heart failure (shortness of breath, edema and fatigue)

Nutrition is the main source of fuel for these hard working heart cells because our body cannot produce it. Dr. Rath cellular nutrition recommendations comprise more than 30 vitamins, minerals, amino acids and trace elements at optimal levels. These recommendations are for everybody of any age but those with advanced health problems such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure etc require higher doses.

Why animals don’t get heart attacks 

It is a known fact that in the animal kingdom none of the domestic species, with some rare exceptions, develop atherosclerosis. The explanation according to Dr. Rath is that animals produce their own vitamin C. Their body reservoir is 10-100 higher than that of humans so they can produce between 1,000 and 20,000 mg of vitamin C a day.

We human beings cannot manufacture a single molecule of vitamin C. As opposed to animals, the human body lacks the enzyme that is needed to convert sugar molecules (glucose) into vitamin C. The inevitable consequence is that unless we get this nutrient from the diet, we will be deficient. Our ancestors had a rich plant diet that provided the daily minimum of vitamins and minerals. However, we have moved far away from that and our diet has become highly processed. Our food is also usually overcooked, which destroys most vitamins, minerals and enzymes. All this has led to our present disease state.

References:

(1) Rath, Matthias. Why Animals Don’t Get Heart Attacks– but People Do!: The Discovery That Will Eradicate Heart Disease: The Natural Prevention of Heart Attacks, Strokes, High Blood Pressure, Diabetes, High Cholesterol and Many Other Cardiovascular Conditions. Santa Clara, CA: Dr. Rath Education Services USA, 2003. Print.

Low thyroid: the unsuspected cause of heart disease (Pt. 4)

According to Tom Brimeyer M.S., in order to properly address hypothyroidism, one must address all facets of thyroid health and the thyroid hormone pathway. This includes several steps, which he explains are:

  1. Addressing the ENTIRE thyroid hormone pathway:

The intricate thyroid hormone pathway we explained before has to be taken into account. The key is not in how much thyroid hormone the thyroid gland can produce or how much thyroid hormone we supplement with, because if a problem develops anywhere along this pathway, the cells will not effectively utilize that thyroid hormone and hypothyroidism will remain.

In his opinion, the underlying causes of hypothyroidism have to be addressed and this means all the many steps of this hormone pathway down to the cell level, including the cell hormone receptors themselves.

  1. Addressing the diet:

Diet plays an extremely important role in the health of the thyroid. “It’s well known in science and human physiology that cells and organs require specific nutrients that we extract from our food in order to function properly.” (4) A good example is the liver. Simply missing certain key ingredients in our diet can inhibit our liver’s ability to convert T4 to T3 that our cells need and will quickly contribute to hypothyroidism. When our liver doesn’t get enough active T3 thyroid hormone it quickly becomes sluggish and congested, which further impairs T4 conversion.

This step also includes removing any food that is causing a reaction in the body (12).

  1. Addressing other hormones that directly affect thyroid function:

Most hypothyroidism sufferers make too much of the stress hormone cortisol, which inhibits the conversion of T4 into T3.  But stress hormones are just some of the hormones that need to be properly balanced in order to truly heal and rebalance our thyroid.  All the different hormones that directly affect thyroid function have to be balanced.

Seven simple steps to overcome low thyroid function

Dr. Brimeyer recommends following a program with seven simple steps to start healing your thyroid.

Step 1. Balance Your Estrogen Levels

Excessive estrogen levels are also becoming an epidemic health problem, according to Dr. Brimeyer.

Estrogen is a very obvious problem in women during menopause when progesterone levels naturally drop, in women on birth control or hormone replacement therapy. But it is becoming a problem for men too, not only because they also have estrogen in their bodies, but because of all the many different sources of estrogens present in food (soy, herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides), plastics, etc.

Estrogen’s role in hypothyroidism has been well documented. Estrogen directly affects the thyroid gland by inhibiting its ability to secrete thyroid hormone. Regulating estrogen levels is imperative to truly heal the thyroid.

When estrogen becomes predominant there is not enough progesterone to balance estrogen out. Please check our blog titled ‘Heart disease in women’ to learn how the mistletoe in the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ can help balance estrogen levels.

Step 2. Manage your stress hormones

The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol inhibit the conversion of T4 to T3. They also increase production of Reverse T3, which blocks the body from properly using thyroid hormone. Both of these effects cause hypothyroidism.

As a survival mechanism, under stress, our body naturally down regulates the thyroid in order to conserve energy.

Another problem with the stress hormone adrenaline is that it forces our body to increase the concentration of free fatty acids in our bloodstream. Because most people have large concentrations of polyunsaturated fats in their fat cells, when these fats are forced into the bloodstream they block thyroid hormone from reaching the cells.

In addition, in order to reduce stress hormones it is imperative to balance blood sugar levels. This will keep cortisol, from breaking down protein from our muscles in order to raise blood sugar when it drops too low.

Lastly, it’s important to balance sodium levels, because under conditions of hypothyroidism the body will lose this mineral easily, which will drive adrenaline up. Just adding enough salt to the diet can help.

Please check our blog titled “Stress” to learn more on managing stress.

Step 3. Restore your liver function

Approximately 2/3 of the active thyroid hormone T3 that our body uses is converted from T4 by our liver. Liver congestion can keep this conversion from happening causing hypothyroidism. When this happens T4 tends to accumulate in the body, which slows thyroid production, perpetuating hypothyroidism even more.

Another problem that occurs with a congested liver is that it loses its ability to properly store sugar. It is this stored sugar in the liver that plays an important role in helping us maintain steady blood sugar levels throughout the day, starting the stress reaction we mentioned before and once again, causing hypothyroidism.

For more information on how to keep the liver healthy, please check our blogs on liver health.

Step 4. Eat the right proteins

Protein intake is an important part of a healthy diet. We should consume at least 70 to 100 grams of high quality protein per day. Dr. Brimeyer recommends bone broth for its anti-inflammatory properties and for being a good source of amino acids.

Step 5. Balance your blood sugar

Low blood sugar both decreases the conversion of T4 to active T3 in your liver and it signals the body to increase production of the stress hormone cortisol, which breaks down muscle tissue in order to keep blood sugar from dropping to dangerously low levels.

Step 6. Avoid polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats are especially problematic for the thyroid because they block the enzymes that signal the thyroid gland to release its hormones. When these fats enter the bloodstream, they also block the active thyroid hormone within the bloodstream from being transported to the cells that desperately need it. They also block cells from properly responding to the thyroid hormone that they do get, which makes the hormone much less effective to cells.

Healthy fats for the thyroid are coconut oil and butter. These saturated fats promote healthy thyroid function and increase the cells’ response to thyroid hormone. They can also cancel out the negative effects of polyunsaturated fats.

Please check our blog on fats for more information.

Step 7. Stop Over-Exercising

Too much exercise or very intense exercise can stop our body from producing T3 even long after exercise.

However, there are some extremely beneficial forms of exercise for hypothyroidism that naturally promote your thyroid and the body’s hormonal health. One example is Tai Chi.

For anyone struggling with signs or symptoms of heart disease, autoimmune issues, fatigue, depression, digestive issues, food allergies, etc., Dr. Brimeyer recommends to stop treating them like they are separate problems and start understanding that hypothyroidism plays a big role in each and every one of them. Healing your thyroid and rebuilding your health from the ground up can be a complex process that requires careful planning, but going directly to the source and correcting the underlying causes will assure we are successful in doing so (4).

Testing your thyroid at home

Under normal circumstances, the amount of heat produced in the body depends on the amount of fuel (food) burned, but with low thyroid hormone, burning of fuel is not possible. Some of the earliest studies in hypothyroid patients showed that they had temperatures below normal. In his early years of practice, Dr. Broda Barnes started to instruct his patients to take their temperature upon awakening, before getting out of bed. He established the ‘basal body temperature test’ as a reliable simple test patients could do at home. Just by increasing their temperature with thyroid therapy, he was able to set straight erroneous diagnoses, lower their blood pressure and decrease heart palpitations and fast pulse.

However, this simple technique of measuring basal body temperature as a guide to determining thyroid function did not appeal to the medical profession. Despite this, axillary or underarm temperature has been used for several decades and, based on thousands of readings, it has been established that normal values for underarm temperature are in the range of 97.8 to 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit. A temperature below 97.8 indicates hypothyroidism, above 98.2, hyperthyroidism. As low temperature rises with thyroid treatment the symptoms associated with hypothyroidism usually disappear (1).

The basal temperature is not a perfect test for thyroid function, because other conditions aside from hypothyroidism can give a low reading: starvation, pituitary gland deficiency or adrenal gland deficiency, but these are easier to diagnose (1).

Taking the test

The basal temperature can be taken by any man any day of the week. Women during their menstrual years see a fluctuation of the temperature during their cycle so it is best measured the 2nd or 3rd day of the period after flow starts according to Dr. Barns. After menopause, it can be taken any day.

The procedure consists of taking one’s temperature immediately upon awakening in the morning. A reading below the normal range of 97.8 to 98.2 strongly suggests low thyroid function. A reading above that is suspicious of some infection or overactive thyroid gland.

Dr. Broda Barnes did not address auto-immune thyroid disease since obviously it was not prevalent back then, but much is being researched today and new ways to help our thyroid are being successfully used. Dr. Brimeyer, for example, has been able to use Dr. Barnes’ temperature test with his patients and has found that adding a pulse test provides very insightful information. He recommends taking one’s temperature and pulse always at rest, 20 minutes after a meal, three times a day: right upon waking, after breakfast and in the afternoon around 3 p.m.

Other ways to help our thyroid

Following an anti-inflammatory diet is a very important part of healing our thyroid. One food that has been found to be very helpful is ginger. According to Dr. Jockers, ginger can be used for its anti- inflammation properties just like aspirin and ibuprofen. “Ginger is a digestive stimulant that promotes gastric flow and contains enzymes which aid in proper digestion… can be used to treat pain associated with intestinal inflammation by relieving contractions of the gut lining. Individuals with leaky gut are likely to have an unhealthy balance of bacteria in their gut resulting from toxic foods and gut inflammation. Ginger exhibits powerful antimicrobial and natural antibiotic properties as well… ginger has been extensively found to combat strains of bacteria linked to leaky gut. Unlike synthetic antibiotics, ginger has been effective against both standard and drug resistant microbes in treating gastrointestinal infection.” (13) You can find ginger as an active ingredient in the “Heart and Body Extract”.

Other nutrients are beet root and papaya, which can also be found in the “Gland Extract”. Beets are a highly nutritious root that contains vitamins A, B, and C, potassium, magnesium, folate, soluble fiber, protein, carbohydrates, and antioxidants. Beets help lower blood pressure, prevent inflammation, help with gut motility and help detoxify the liver and the blood (14).

The “Gland Extract” also contains fo-ti-tieng, which nourishes the glands, and contains kelp and watercress.

Other things to consider

Dr. Jockers stresses that low vitamin D3 is associated with thyroid disorders and should be addressed.  Vitamin D levels play a very important role in immune regulation, calming down autoimmunity and keeping inflammation levels under control.

Also, both iron and B12 deficiency are a common finding with thyroid disorders. He recommends a complete blood count as well. This will look in detail at red blood cell counts, iron stores and white blood cell levels, as well as liver function, kidney health, digestive health and blood sugar regulation.

A ‘C Reactive Protein’ (CRP) reveals the inflammatory status of the body. This is important because increased inflammation impedes the T4-T3 conversion (7).

Similarly, lowered magnesium is a common deficiency and will also affect thyroid function (10). It is also very important for blood sugar stability and healthy adrenal-pituitary and hypothalamic function. A magnesium deficiency can lead to chronic inflammation and increased pituitary gland stress that alters proper TSH production (7).

Concluding, thyroid health has a very strong link to the health of the rest of the body, and more importantly, the heart. Iodine supplementation is a key part of thyroid function. In the case of auto-immunity, addressing the diet is a crucial aspect in resolving thyroid conditions.

References:

(7) http://drjockers.com/how-to-properly-test-thyroid-function

(12) http://theglutensummit.com/team/tom-obryan/

 

Low thyroid, the unsuspected cause of heart disease (Pt. 3)

An underactive thyroid can affect every cell in the body and be a major contributor to degenerative diseases (1). In previous blogs we looked at hypothyroidism caused by nutritional deficiencies. We saw how the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ and the ‘Gland Extract’ can help the thyroid because they contain iodine, a key nutrient for all the glands. We looked at Dr. Broda Barnes’ research on the link between low thyroid and heart disease.

While hypothyroidism was not very prevalent when Dr. Barnes was doing his research, he already observed this condition was on the rise in the American population. What accounted for the increase in thyroid disease, according to Dr. Barns, was the introduction of antibiotics around 1945, which allowed millions of hypothyroid children to live long enough to reproduce and pass on their low thyroid to their children. Included in this group were those with heart disease and perhaps other major degenerative diseases.

The major problem with why hypothyroidism remained prevalent, according to Dr. Barns, was that it was still widely unrecognized (1). Today, hypothyroidism is one of the fastest rising health conditions in the US. An estimated 27 million Americans have some form of thyroid disease, women being five to eight times more likely than men to develop the disease. Despite this, hypothyroidism still remains unrecognized, misunderstood and undiagnosed, with up to 60% of thyroid disease sufferers not being aware of their condition (2).

New evidence points to the fact that thyroid disorders should be taken more seriously, especially when it comes to how low thyroid affects heart health:

“Hypothyroid patients have increased diastolic blood pressure…, (and) altered lipid profileHomocysteine, C-reactive protein, increased arterial stiffness, endothelial dysfunction and altered coagulation parameters have been recognized as “new” risk factors for atherosclerosis in patients with thyroid hormone deficiency. The plasma total homocysteine concentration, an independent risk factor for atherosclerosis, is moderately elevated in overtly hypothyroid patients and it decreases with thyroid replacement therapy.” (3)

Something that makes thyroid disorders hard to address is the fact that they rarely affect only the thyroid. In the majority of cases, thyroid disorders involve a myriad of different imbalances, all of which have to be addressed before the thyroid to heal.

In what follows we will look at what other factors, apart from iodine deficiency, affect the health of our thyroid. We will learn about the thyroid’s ‘chain of command’, what the most prevalent type of thyroid disease is and what we can do to start taking care of our thyroid.
What is the thyroid?

The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland that is located within the neck, just below the trachea. It is not to be confused with the parathyroid, located on the thyroid too, whose function is to release hormones that control calcium and other minerals within the blood.

The thyroid’s main function is to produce the hormones known as T3 (tri-iodothyronine) and its pro-hormone T4 (thyroxine). Both of these hormones are tyrosine-based hormones and are partially composed of iodine; however T4 has four iodine molecules, while T3 has three. Also, T4 is much more abundantly produced in the thyroid than T3 and is consequently much more abundantly released in the bloodstream than T3, at a ratio between 14:1 and 20:1.

T4 is the inactive form of thyroid hormone, and it is also known as ‘storage form’ because it is stored in the body until it is needed. T4 has to be converted to the active form T3 within the cells to be usable. Inside the cells, T3 is three to four times more potent than T4.

A deficiency in iodine can lead to decreased production of T3 and T4, enlarges the thyroid gland and will cause the disease known as goiter (5), which is why supplementing with iodine is key for thyroid health. Please check our “Heart and Body Extract” and “Gland Extract”.

 The importance of the thyroid

 Scientist Otto Warburg won the Nobel Prize for demonstrating that “cancer develops and thrives when cells become dysfunctional and are unable to efficiently produce energy” (4). This is exactly how cells suffer under conditions of low thyroid, they cannot produce energy.

This will influence:

  • The body’s metabolic rate
  • Bone growth
  • Neural maturation
  • Protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism
  • Vitamin metabolism
  • Heat generation, etc (5)

The thyroid’s chain of command

Dr. John W. Larson DC, Clinical Nutritionist and Hormone Health Expert for over 18 years, explains that the thyroid follows a very specific and highly coordinated chain of command. Before the active free T3 can reach our cells and be used to make energy, it has to go through different steps in an orderly fashion (10).

For this reason, thyroid function does not start in the thyroid itself, but in brain and the liver, in this order:

1) In the brain: Thyroid hormone is operated by the action of the pituitary and the hypothalamus (2). The pituitary is a very important gland that secretes hormones that help control: growth, blood pressure, certain functions of the sex organs, thyroid, and metabolism as well as some aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, water/salt concentration at the kidneys, temperature regulation and pain relief (6).

When thyroid hormone is needed, a signal known as ‘Thyrotropin Releasing Hormone’ (TRH) travels to the pituitary and triggers this gland to release another hormone called ‘Thyroid Stimulating Hormone’ (TSH). TSH is sent directly to the thyroid (7) where another hormone called ‘Thyroid Peroxidase’ (TPO) transports iodine into the thyroid gland, adds this iodine to tyrosine and with both of these, makes thyroid hormone (8), about 93% T4 and 7% of T3 (7).

This process is so tightly regulated that the brain is constantly ‘reading’ thyroid hormone levels in the bloodstream. If the brain senses too much hormone circulating in the blood, it will slow down the levels of TSH, and the thyroid will slow down its release of thyroid hormone accordingly. On the contrary, when the levels of thyroid hormone drop in the blood, the pituitary releases more TSH, and more thyroid hormone is produced.

2) In the liver: Once thyroid hormone is made in the thyroid, it is carried into the bloodstream by Thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG). (TBG) is synthesized in the liver as a protein (another word for ‘globulin’) as one of three transport proteins (along with transthyretin and serum albumin) responsible for carrying thyroid hormone T4 and T3 in the bloodstream. Of these three proteins, TBG has the highest affinity for T4 and T3 but is present in the lowest concentration. Despite its low concentration, TBG carries the majority of T4 in the blood plasma (9).

The liver is responsible for converting about 60% of T4 into T3. Any form of liver congestion will interfere with this conversion. Stress hormone will convert another 20% into a permanently inactive form of T3, known as reverse T3. Healthy gastrointestinal flora is responsible for converting the last 20% of T4 into T3 (7).

Apart from being converted in the liver, the main nutrient that helps the conversion of T4 to T3 is selenium. Selenium is another important trace mineral that is also becoming depleted in our soils (10).

Bound T4

Not only does TBG transport T4 and T3 into the bloodstream, it also binds them. In the human body every hormone is found bound to a protein: thyroid hormones, adrenal hormones, sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone), etc. This ‘bounding effect’ is a way the body has to control the powerful effects hormones have in us. It is not until hormones become free or unbound that they can have effects on our cells. In the case of the thyroid, this means that T4 is not in an active form that can be used by cells to produce energy (7).

Free T3

This whole chain of command has the important purpose of making active free T3 available to all cells. This happens inside the part of the cell called the mitochondria, where energy is produced.

Reverse T3 (RT3) dominance

RT3 is like an anti-T3 hormone in that it blocks T3 from getting to the cells by binding to the receptor site that is normally occupied by T3.

The role of diagnosis 

According to Dr. Larson, there are many tests used to check thyroid function. However, on many occasions, practitioners will only use one of these. He recommends having a complete thyroid panel that includes six different tests:

  1. TSH: It is a good indicator of thyroid function so this test is the most widely used test by most practitioners. There are two problems with it though, one, sometimes it is the only test used and two, it can show healthy levels of TSH even when the person still has low thyroid symptoms. This adds to the confusion and frustration that is normally seen in thyroid disease. According to Dr. Larson, more detailed testing is needed to show other factors that may be contributing to low thyroid function.

Something that needs to be taken into account is that if the patient is on thyroid medication, TSH levels can show up as too low.

When it comes to the ranges, the optimal level of TSH would be between 1.00 and 2.50, with 0.00-0.44 being clinical low and 4.51 or higher being clinical high.

  1. Free T3: Optimal ranges are between 2.8 and 3.8.

High levels of T3 are a sign of an overactive thyroid. If free T3 is low it is a sign that the conversion process may be suffering.

  1. Reverse T3: Optimal levels are between 0.0 and 19.9.

RT3 mimics free T3 in the body but does not carry out the active duties for metabolic processes in the same way. There are several reasons why RT3 can be high. One is high levels of T4. Another reason is too much of the stress hormone cortisol, which causes what is known as ‘stress induced hypothyroidism’ (7).

  1. Free T4: Optimal levels are between 1.03 and 1.56.

If T4 is high, this tells us that the thyroid is overactive and producing too much thyroid hormone. It could also mean that the conversion of T4 to T3 is not occurring in the liver and/or gut. If Free T4 is low, this points to an underactive thyroid. However, it does not tell us if the problem is functional or autoimmune related (7).  

  1. Thyroid Peroxidase Antibody: This is one of the tests done to check for an auto-immune thyroid condition. The optimal level is from 0 to 19. As we saw before, Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) transports iodine into the thyroid. In the case of an auto-immune thyroid disease, antibodies attack this enzyme, which can cause keep enough thyroid hormone from being available, even if the person is supplementing with iodine.

There has been some concern expressed by practitioners which explain that taking too much iodine, 50 mg or more, can actually be hurtful in the case of TPO antibodies. Dr. Edwin Lee, MD, Board Certified Endocrinologist explains the extra iodine can actually fuel the antibodies even more, therefore, he recommends to stay at a low dose of 1-2 grams until the auto-immune condition is addressed.

  1. Thyroglobulin Antibody, also known as Anti-Thyroglobulin Antibody, is also a test that measures auto-immunity. When the body is creating anti-bodies toward this protein, the one that carries thyroid hormone into the bloodstream, it can keep T3 from reaching the cells.

Auto-immune thyroid disease

Approximately 80 % of hypothyroidism cases are autoimmune based (7). It is called ‘Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis’ when it causes low thyroid and ‘Graves disease’ in the case of hyperactive thyroid.

Auto-immunity can be caused by different things, among them, leaky gut, food allergies or intolerances, invading organisms, heavy metals that have entered the thyroid, inflammation, etc.

The most prevalent is related to the gut. According to Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo MS, DC, CCN, DACBN, the health of the thyroid is dependent on the health of the gut. She explains that around 70 % of our lymphatic system is located in the gut, known as GALT (Gut Associated Lymphatic Tissue). Eating the wrong kind of foods can irritate the cells lining the gut (enterocytes) and produce inflammatory chemicals which will over-sensitize the immune system, create more inflammation and ultimately lead to leaky gut (11).

Dr. Tom O’Bryan, DC, CCN, DACBN explains that the dendritic cells in our immune system are like guards that check every food we eat. When we constantly eat inflammatory foods we over stimulate these cells to produce inflammatory chemicals called ‘cytokines’. They are like ‘chemical bullets’ that destroy any invader by making antibodies against invaders. In the case of protein foods like wheat and grains, the problem is that they contain a long chain of 33 amino acids, called ‘alpha gliadin’ that is not broken down correctly. This is a problem because any food that is not broken down completely will alert the immune system that an invader is present. When it comes to the thyroid the problem is that our thyroid is made out of exactly the same chain of amino acids that is found in these foods. Once our immune system is activated against wheat and grains, it will start attacking our thyroid too and making antibodies against our own thyroid. This is what is known as ‘collateral damage’.

The immune system can attack the thyroid itself, or any of the hormones, or proteins that are part of the thyroid’s chain of command. This is why it is important to have a complete thyroid lab panel to check for all the possibilities.

There is only one thyroid dysfunction that is not shown in any test: when antibodies attack the thyroid receptors in the cells. If these receptors are damaged or destroyed, the cells are unable to receive T3, however, all the tests will show normal levels of TSH, T4 and T3 but the patient will still have symptoms of low thyroid.

Once auto-immunity becomes chronic, and we surpass our oral tolerance for problem foods, thyroid antibodies will become self-perpetuated (12). This will make the sufferer over-sensitive to any other minor irritants like pollen, dust, even less evident things like perfumes. It will also make the sufferer more prone to other auto immune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, etc if the problem is not addressed at the root level.

The treatment usually given for thyroid disorders is T4 thyroid hormone, but this doesn’t solve the problem, because as long as the offending agents are present in the diet the damage will continue. What is more, giving the patient T4 hormone can lower thyroid function even more.

So what can we do to start reversing thyroid dysfunction? Please find out in our next blog.

References: