The lymphatic system (Pt. 2)

Nutrients from the ground up

Studies have shown that a diet high in fresh foods like fruits and vegetables boosts ATP production, keeping the cells’ mitochondria healthy throughout the aging process. This is due to “naturally-occurring fulvic and humic acids (which) are natural compounds found in soil that convert the minerals from the earth into bio-available nutrients for the plant, and then us” (13).

Humic acids found in soils break down nutrients and deliver them to plants in a digestible form. In the body, they play a similar role. Specifically, fulvic acids stimulate the transfer of energy along the electron transport chain in the mitochondria, making the energy production of ATP in the mitochondria more efficient, and allowing it to ward off oxidative stressors linked to aging (14).

However, the use of farming chemicals like pesticides drastically reduce the amount of fulvic acid and other minerals present in soil. Since organic farmers don’t use pesticides or other chemicals, organic vegetables are far more likely to contain fulvic acid than non-organic vegetables. Due to the diversity of soil, there is no simple way to measure the amount of fulvic acid in vegetables (15).

How the Heart and Body Extract can help

The Heart and Body Extract drops are a blend of wild-crafted herbs grown in the Pacific Northwest without synthetic fertilizers. In their natural environment they receive fresh air, clear mountain water and sunlight. They are also prepared in a way that allows the maximum amount of nutrients to be preserved (16).

What is more, because it contains ginger, the Heart and Body Extract helps with digestion by preventing undigested foods from clogging up our digestive system. Ginger is known as a carminative herb and one of the best foods for producing stomach acid, gastric juices like hydrochloric (HCL) acid and bile and for a healthy liver. It has also been shown to inhibit inflammation of liver tissue aiding in the removal of toxins (17).

The acid-alkaline balance theory

Our body works better at a neutral pH of 7. The wrong pH can affect our health greatly because many functions in the body can only be carried out at a certain pH. The heart, for example, needs the blood to be at a constant certain pH of 7.37-7.43. Variations can cause palpitations or arrhythmias.

This is why an alkaline diet is important. Alkaline foods are all those that are fresh and minimally processed like fruits and vegetables that have been organically grown. On the contrary, acidic foods are those that have been processed, altered and had chemicals added to preserve their shelf life. Acidic foods change the pH of our blood and constrict lymph not allowing toxins to be removed. For a complete list of alkaline-acid foods please check this site:   http://www.rense.com/1.mpicons/acidalka.htm

The problem with eating a diet high in acidic foods is that too much acid slows flow of lymph and creates a condition known as ‘acidosis’. Without the proper flow, cells cannot detoxify themselves, creating a toxic environment due to fluid retention around our cells. This can show as excess fluid in our tissues affecting the whole body as:

  • Fluid filled cysts
  • Enlarged prostate and spleen
  • Cirrhosis of the liver
  • Excess fluid in the brain

Acidosis can silently damage our organs and tissues and destroy the cells that make our lymph, blood vessels, nerves, and organs like the heart. Cells that are surrounded by toxic waste have no option but to become damaged, mutate or die. Overtime this can end up as cancer, heart disease, diabetes or depression (10).

How can we become acidic?

Mainly the acidic foods we eat, but also the air we breathe, medications, stress and lack of exercise. The food we eat leaves an ash residue that, depending on the mineral content, can leave an acidic, neutral or alkaline waste. The body stores the alkaline minerals on the skin, bones and teeth. These are calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iron and manganese,  and they are found abundantly in organically grown vegetables and fruits.

If our diet is mainly acidic, the body has to use up these mineral reserves in tissues, teeth, bones to buffer this acid building up, causing osteoporosis (10).

How does this process of detoxification in the body break down?

In the toxic world we live in, the lymph system can get congested very easily (19). Because the lymphatic system is the largest circulatory system in the body, it is uniquely susceptible to stress.

Stress, the wrong diet, excess environmental toxins, shock, poison, injury or heavy exertion, cause acids and toxins to build up. When this happens, organs start to lose their function, which leads to more toxicity and inflammation and more organ dysfunction. Examples of this would be enlarged prostrate, enlarged spleen, heart disease, cancer, etc.

Stress can cause blood proteins and water to escape the bloodstream via tiny pores in these blood vessels. The excess fluids, excess sodium, and lack of oxygen cause the sodium-potassium pump to malfunction, and leave it unable to make energy. This leads to acidity in the body, loss of energy, free radicals, pain, and disease. Excessive stress will cause the lymph system to atrophy, making it unable to detoxify our cells.

Specifically, when we are under stress, cortisol, in an attempt to wall the area off and prevent excess fluid circulation, is released and lymphatic drainage of the area is reduced. Excessive stress severely compromises the lymphatic system, allowing dangerous toxins to migrate to different areas of the body (20).

Healing is all about circulation!

If areas of our body are too acidic, a build up of protein and waste starts forming, and circulation is decreased to these areas. This is known as fibrosis.

An injury that doesn’t receive oxygen, nutrients and cannot be detoxified will feel like pain. Pain in the body can be treated by changing the pH and improving circulation. By improving lymph and blood flow we increase circulation, increasing oxygen and nutrient delivery. This will decrease pain in parts of the body that have been blocked by acid. Pain and toxicity has caused many people to have sedentary lives, but when the circulation is restored and the internal environment of the body is improved these people can start moving freer. Increased circulation helps the cells to start working again (21).

Heart disease and the lymphatic system

There is a possibility that clogging of the arteries may be due to acid damaging the heart cells. When this happens, the body sends fibrin, a protein, to try to repair the damaged vessel. The excess protein mixes with collagen, cholesterol and other cellular debris to make plaque, which builds on the artery walls leading to decreased circulation. If the lymph system is congested it may create a toxic backup in the lymph vessels in the blood vessel wall. Then oxygen cannot get to the heart cells and proteins cannot be removed efficiently, creating angina, and fibrosis in the heart tissue. This makes the heart less efficient where it cannot pump enough blood (10).

High blood pressure

One of the hallmarks of high blood pressure is kidney failure. When we are overly acidic the excess proteins can be trapped in the kidney and harden it. Because the kidneys filter the blood, then waste accumulates. The kidneys also play an important part in alkalizing the body, regulating blood volume and blood pressure. It takes pressure to move blood through the kidney to make urine. If the kidneys become congested the heart must pump harder.

When waste, cellular debris and excess proteins accumulate the blood can start thickening, impeding circulation, causing blood clots, heart attacks and strokes. All of this will increase blood pressure because the heart has to ‘push through’ this thick blood to get nutrients and oxygen to the cells.

There is some new research being done in the role the lymphatic system could have in reducing the damage to the heart after a heart attack. While more evidence is being released, make sure you take care of your circulatory and lymphatic health by adding the ‘Heart and Body Extract’ to your health protocol!

Thank you for reading.

References:

The lymphatic system (Pt. 1)

Production of energy is an essential aspect of our health that is directly linked to longevity (1). Key nutrients in the energy cycle of our cells are L- Carnitine, D-Ribose, magnesium and CoQ10, as we have seen. The circulatory system carries these nutrients and oxygen to all the cells in the body via the pumping action of the heart.  The lymphatic system is an adjacent system that supports the circulatory system by removing toxins, excess proteins and fluid from the cells of every organ.  This highly organized system of nutrient/oxygen delivery and toxin removal is what keeps the energy levels in our body working at high demand. However, with stress, chemical toxicity and oxidative damage, energy production starts declining with age.

In today’s blog we will look at another nutrient that is essential for energy  production, potassium, and how it works in what is knows as the ‘sodium-potassium  pump’. We will also look at the lymphatic system as it relates to the circulatory system.

The lymphatic system: Definition and structure

The lymphatic system is part of the circulatory system and a vital part of the immune system. It consists of (2):

  1. Lymphatic tissues and organs: thymus, spleen, tonsils, appendix and some special lymph tissue in the gut (3).
  2. A conducting network of lymphatic capillaries, vessels, nodes and ducts (3): They carry a clear liquid known as ‘lymph’ towards the heart.
  3. The circulating lymph: The word ‘lymph’ derives from the Latin ‘lympha’meaning ‘water’. Although it is 95% water, lymph also contains plasma, proteins, hormones, waste products and cellular debris together with bacteria and toxins. It also contains lymphocytes (immune cells), which are concentrated in the lymph nodes.

Because the lymphatic system is our major source of immunity, it also includes all the structures dedicated to the circulation and production of lymphocytes (one of the subtypes of immune cells known as white blood cells, that include ‘natural killer cells’, ‘T cells’ and ‘B cells’ (4). These structures include the bone marrow, and the lymphoid tissue associated with the digestive system.

There are between five and six hundred lymph nodes in the human body. Many of them are grouped in clusters in different regions, like in the underarm (armpits) and abdominal areas (groin), and in the neck, where lymph is collected from regions of the body likely to sustain pathogen contamination from injuries.

The lymphatic system runs parallel to the circulatory system with its final destination being the heart. The lymph, via lymph vessels and nodes, drains fluid from virtually every tissue toward the heart. In between the circulatory system and the lymphatic system, there is a space known as the ‘interstitial space’, where the cells of each organ are located.

Unlike the circulatory system, the lymphatic system is not a closed circular system but it branches out like the roots of a tree to reach the cells found in the interstitial space. Out of the 20 liters of blood per day filtered through the circulatory system, 3 liters remain in the interstitial fluid, thanks to the work of the lymph system as an accessory return route to the blood for the surplus blood (5).

As opposed to the circulatory system, which uses the heart as a pump, there is not an associated organ that pumps lymph.  Instead, the lymph depends on the ‘squeezing’ motion of our muscles to push this fluid through the lymph vessels, and also the involuntary movement of our smooth muscles when we breath. Both of these mechanisms push lymph back from the peripheries to the center in a way similar to how blood is returned to the heart.

Like veins, lymphatic vessels have regular valves inside their walls to stop the backflow of fluid. In this manner, lymph is drained progressively towards the larger and larger vessels until it reaches two main channels in our trunk, where filtered lymph fluids can be returned to the venous blood.  From there, the lymphatic system’s vessels branch through junctions called ‘lymph nodes’. These nodes are often referred to as glands, but they are not true glands as they do not form part of the endocrine (5).

Functions of the Lymphatic system

  1. Major detoxification system in the body: Lymph vessels and nodes run through every organ and most tissues in the body, collecting excess toxins, bacteria and extra fluid and proteins.
  2. Fluid homeostasis: Its major role is to maintain fluid balance in the tiny spaces surrounding cells (the interstitial spaces), and then returning this excess lymph together with proteins that are too large to be transported via the blood vessels. This is only 10%, or 2-3 liters, of the total blood arriving at tissues from the arterial blood capillaries. Without the lymphatic system, excess fluid would build up and our tissues would swell greatly, causing lost blood volume and pressure.
  3. Absorption: The lymphatic system is also one of the major routes for absorption of nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract, especially fats. The lymphatic system has special small vessels called ‘lacteals’ that form part of the protruding structures (the finger-like villi) produced by the tiny folds in the absorptive surface of the gut. These ‘lacteals’ work alongside blood capillaries in the folded surface membrane of the small intestine and are responsible for taking up fats and fat-soluble nutrients, emulsifying them to form a milky white fluid called ‘chyle’. This substance is then delivered into the venous blood circulation.
  4. Immune system: The lymphatic system forms a major part of our immune response to the continual exposure to micro-organisms. Some such organisms are potentially harmful and even fatal as there are some infections that our immune system is not equipped to deal with. When there is an accumulation of toxins or harmful organisms we have the so called ‘swollen lymph nodes’

Physiology of the lymphatic system

Almost all organs including the heart have lymph channels that drain excess fluid directly from the interstitial spaces. In the case of the lower part of the body, all the lymph flows up the thoracic duct and empties into the venous system.

The work of the lymphatic system as the body’s drainage system is accomplished by little pumps present at each juncture.  The rate of lymph flow is determined by interstitial fluid pressure and the activity of the lymphatic pump.

When a lymph vessel becomes stretched with fluid , the smooth muscle in the wall of the vessel automatically contracts. Each segment of the lymph vessel between successive valves functions as a pump. When pumps fill up, the pressure of the fluid makes them contract and the fluid is pumped through the valve into the next lymphatic vessel. This fills the next segment on and on until the fluid is all emptied. Bigger lymph vessels exert greater pressure.

The lymph system also has flaps that allow the fluid to go into the circulation but it will not allow it back in, this makes sure the lymph empties into the blood always and not the other way around.

In addition to pumping caused by the lymph vessel walls, there are external factors that intermittently compress the lymph vessel to cause pumping. In order of importance these are:

  1. Contraction of the muscles of the body
  2. Movement of the parts of the body
  3. Arterial pulsations
  4. Compression of the tissues by objects outside the body

The lymphatic pump becomes very active during exercise, often increasing lymph flow 10 to 30 fold. During periods of rest lymph can become sluggish (18).

The circulatory and the lymphatic systems

In the human body, the cells of every organ and tissue are surrounded by a total of 6,000 miles of blood vessels and capillaries that run parallel to 24,000 miles of lymph nodes (6). This tight enclosure our cells are placed in is the ‘interstitial space’ (7). It is primarily a liquid known as ‘plasma’ that contains a combination of water, liquid protein, hormones and electrolytes. Electrolytes provide the electrical charge for the exchange of particles across the interstitial space, from the arteries and capillaries to the lymph system. This strategic distribution has a double purpose: On the one hand, it makes sure the circulatory system carries nutrients and oxygen to the cells of every organ and tissue.  On the other hand, the lymphatic system removes excess protein, fluid, bacteria and the toxins and acid waste these cells make everyday. This is possible because of branch-like extensions in the lymph vessels that spread out and reach in between the cells to remove this excess.

Dr. C. Samuel West, DN, ND, Chemist and Lymphologist, father of Applied Lymphology and also the father of the ‘Sodium-Potassium Pump’, compared the lymphatic system to a tree inside our body with branches that spread out and whose main job is to “vacuum pack the cells of each vital organ so the blood stream can bathe each and every cell with an abundance of oxygen and nutrients”. This is what Dr. West called the ‘dry state’ (6).

Once the lymph system collects and moves acidic waste, toxins and bacteria out of the tissues, they go back to the blood supply then to the kidneys, lungs (8) and other end organs, such as the liver, colon and skin (9),(10) where they are destroyed by lymphocytes. This is the healthy state of the body and the major detoxification system. In this manner, cells receive nutrients and oxygen via the circulatory system, and their waste is removed via the lymphatic system. Failure to do so would result in death due to toxicity in 24 hours.

Oxygen delivery is necessary for the sodium-potassium pump to work

The discovery of the dry state of the cells, led Dr. Samuel West to the realization that only when the cells of every organ are able to obtain oxygen from the circulatory system can the sodium-potassium pump work to produce energy.

He called the sodium-potassium pump the ‘electric generator’ of the body because it gives all cells the power to work (11).

The importance of the sodium-potassium pump that he discovered is immense when it comes to energy and overall health (12).  Each of the 100 trillion cells in the body has between 800,000 and 30 million of these pumps built on their surface. The role of sodium and potassium in these pumps is to allow nutrition (glucose, aminoacids, minerals, etc) inside the cell that is needed for:

ü Muscle health: allowing muscle contraction and relaxation

ü Nerve health: powering nerve impulses

ü Fluid balance

ü Energy production

This means that our cells need certain voltage to work and do all its functions. Because of potassium’s role in muscle and nerve health, a diet low in potassium can cause arrhythmias, heartbeat problems, skipped beats, and atrial fibrillation.

What is more, these pumps require a lot of energy to work and to generate electricity. In fact, 1/3 of the energy we get from food is used up to power these pumps. This is why our diet has to be aimed at ‘feeding’ these pumps. Dr. Eric Berg recommends a minimum of 4,700 mg of potassium balanced with 1,000 of sodium. This is the equivalent to 7-10 cups or more of fresh green leafy vegetables a day (12).

Co-enzyme Q10, the spark of life (Pt. 2)

CoQ10 in clinical cardiovascular disease

Myocardial biopsies have confirmed that CoQ10 deficiency is quite common in cardiac patients: congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, angina pectoris, cardiomyopathy, hypertension, and mitral valve prolapse as well as patients of coronary bypass surgery. All these conditions can share common symptoms such as extreme fatigue, chest discomfort, shortness of breath even when at rest.

CoQ10 can be administered in clinical settings for a wide variety of cardiovascular disease, including:

  • Angina pectoris
  • Unstable anginal syndrome
  • Myocardial preservation during mechanical or pharmacological thrombosis
  • Before, during and after cardiac surgery
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Diastolic dysfunction
  • Toxin induced cardiotoxicity
  • Essential and renovascular hypertension
  • Ventricular arrhythmia
  • Mitral valve prolapse

Many studies have shown a strong correlation between low blood levels and tissue levels of CoQ10. As well as the improvement seen with CoQ10 like in the heart’s pumping ability, improved left ventricular function, ejection fraction, exercise tolerance, diastolic dysfunction, clinical outcome and quality of life.

How Coq10 supports the failing heart

More energy is needed to fill the heart than to empty it, this makes CoQ10 a great supplement to improve diastolic cardiac function. Several studies have proven this fact. In one study of 109 patients with hypertension and isolated diastolic dysfunction, CoQ10 supplementation resulted in clinical improvement, lower high blood pressure, enhanced diastolic cardiac function, and decreased myocardial thickness in 53% of hypertensive patients.

In another study, a group of 424 patients with systolic and/or dyastolic dysfunction was administered 240 mg of CoQ10 for an 8 year period. The subjects were followed for 18 months. Only one side effect was noticed only, mild nausea, clearly demonstrating that CoQ10 is safe and effective for a different number of cardiovascular diseases including CHF and dilated cardiomyopathy, systolic and/or diastolic dysfunction in patients with hypertensive heart disease.

Dr Sinatra recommends that if any patient fails to respond to standard levels of CoQ10, it is essential to obtain a blood level of CoQ10. If this is not available, he recommends to double the standard dose of 90-150 mg, even triple it until the desired result happens.

Congestive heart failure (CHF)

CHF, together with dilated cardiomyopathy (end stage CHF), is one of the most challenging issues cardiologists have to deal with today. Most CHF patients have a low quality of life with a low survival rate, and in most cases drug therapy does not provide any relief.

CHF is a condition in which the heart muscle is so weak that is cannot pump effectively to the various areas of the body. This causes the blood to back up in the lungs and lower extremities and the space around the heart causing congestion. A heart like that is literally energy starved and patients experience fatigue and shortness of breath even with minimal exertion. The most common cause of CHF is coronary artery disease and the blockage of the arteries of the heart which can result in heart attacks. Longstanding untreated high blood pressure, toxic drugs, alcohol abuse, valvular heart disease etc can also cause CHF.

Dr. Sinatra treats cases of CHF with CoQ10 because it supports ATP recycling in the mitochondria of the cell, acts as an antioxidant, stabilizes cell membranes, and reduced platelet size.

Several studies have proven the efficacy of CoQ10 for treating CHF. In a study, the administration of CoQ10 decreased edema (fluid retention) by 79%, pulmonary edema by 78%, liver enlargement by 49%, venous congestion by 72%, shortness of breath by 53%, and heart palpitations by 75%. Improvements in at least three symptoms were noted in 54% of patients.

All this is key information that allow us to conclude that CoQ10 alleviates symptoms of CHF and improves quality of life.

A most recent investigation in the treatment of heart failure came out of the Lancisi Heart Institute in Italy. The team of investigators evaluated 21 patients with moderate to severe heart failure. All of them were assigned to four weeks of oral CoQ10 or a placebo with or without exercise training five times a week. They found that when the patients took CoQ10, the heart assessment test results and their ability to exercise without discomfort improved. This study also showed that in participants with heart failure the heart size decreased by 12% while the blood flow to the heart improved by 38% and the protective cholesterol levels increased as well.

The aging heart

Aging increases the death rate by 3 times, specially at the age of 70. CHF is also a bigger concern in these patients because the older the heart is the more prone it is to lack of oxygen and other stressors. What makes the aging heart more vulnerable is the low levels of coQ10., this is because aging depletes CoQ10.

During the first 20 years of life quantities of CoQ10 rise steadily 3 to 5 times, then they plateau if health is good. After the age of 40 there is a gradual decline in the amount of Coq10 a healthy body produces and it falls very rapidly at the age of 80. This is when congestive heart failure is most predominant. Fortunately our brains keep some level of CoQ10 stability so it is not until the age of 90 that CoQ10 levels really plummet, affecting brain functions such as memory, problem-solving ability and coordination.

So to the question, can CoQ10 help the aging heart? The answer was found in a research which demonstrated the overwhelming cardio protective benefit of CoQ10. In one clinical trial, researchers demonstrated that a daily regiment of 300 mg of CoQ10 for two weeks prior to cardiac surgery increased the CoQ10 content in cardiac muscle, mitochondrial energy production and offered myocardial protection during heart surgery.

In another study the same group of researchers demonstrated that in the older heart, CoQ10 helped in the ability of the heart to sustain cardiac workload by 28% compared to non-treated hearts.

All this evidence proves that although the aging heart is very vulnerable to lack of oxygen, it responds very well to CoQ10 supplementation. This includes all those patients recovering from any cardiac procedure, heart attacks. For this reason, even if there is not an evident stressor, anyone after the age of 70 should supplement with CoQ10.

Cardiomyopathy

Patients with this condition are particularly more vulnerable to CoQ10 deficiency. Cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the muscle tissue of the heart has become damaged, diseased, enlarged or stretched out, leaving the muscle fibers weakened. Like congestive heart failure, cardiomyopathy is associated with major CoQ10 deficiency.

In a study by the ‘European Journal of Nuclear Medicine’, researchers were able to document and measure a significant therapeutic effect of CoQ10, proving that even small doses can have great implications for some patients with dilated cardiomyopathy.

Other studies done on patients awaiting cardiac transplantation, was done to determine if CoQ10 could improve the pharmacological bridge to transplantation. The results showed three different findings:

  1. A significant increase in CoQ10 blood levels
  2. Increases in exercise tolerance and less shortness of breath
  3. Fewer episodes of nocturnal urination.

Hypertension

Systolic blood pressure reflects the amount of pressure needed to open the aortic valve for each contraction of the heart, and diastolic pressure is a measurement of the pressure (resistance to blood flow) on the other side of the aortic valve against which the heart pumps. Diastolic pressure also reflects the amount of muscle tone in the vascular walls that press the blood through the arteries. Both these pressure levels need to be balanced: high enough for optimum circulation but not so high that excess wear and tear of the cardiovascular system occurs.

Research done in the 1980’s showed that hypertensive patients have low levels of CoQ10. Several years later follow-up studies confirmed that just 100 mg of CoQ10 a day lowered both diastolic and systolic blood pressure following 12 weeks of administration.

In another study, 46 men and 35 women with systolic hypertension and normal diastolic blood pressure underwent a 12 week trial in which they received either a 60 mg/day of hydrosoluble COQ10 Gel containing 150 IU of vitamin E or a placebo containing only vitamin E. Some subjects without hypertension were enrolled as controls and were also given CoQ10 therapy. Over the study period the group receiving CoQ10 experienced a drop in hypertension, and no change was observed in the group that received only vitamin E alone or in the control group. And there was a significant rise in CoQ10 levels in the blood. 55% of the patients in the CoQ10 group responded by achieving a reduction in systolic blood pressure of 25 mm Hg. The absence of response in the remaining 45% suggests the possibility of a threshold effect in CoQ10 ‘s mechanism of action. It is possible that a higher dose of CoQ10 may have increased the number of responders in the study.

These and other studies have confirmed what Dr. Sinatra has been practicing with his patients, CoQ10 is a great addition to a high blood pressure health protocol. He was even able to reduce at least half of their cardiac medications.

Dr. Sinatra considers CoQ10 the best way to lower hypertension. It all the studies CoQ10 has consistently been proven to lower high blood pressure in both systolic and diastolic pressure in patients with uncontrolled or poorly controlled blood pressure. What is in CoQ10 that makes this possible? CoQ10 may indirectly influence vascular function by preventing the oxidative damage to LDL, as well as by improving blood sugar control. Since oxidative damage to LDL, insulin resistance and elevation in plasma glucose concentrations can increase oxidative stress, the damage within the arterial wall is a critical event in the development of vascular dysfunction and even atherosclerosis. In a study with type 2 diabetics treated with 200 mg of CoQ10 a day, there was a significant reduction in glycated hemoglobin which is suggestive of improved sugar control and insulin resistance. More researchers have found impressive reductions in fasting glucose and insulin concentrations in patients treated with CoQ10, especially hypertensive patients who also suffered diabetes. This evidence suggests that coQ10 can reduce oxidative stress within the arterial wall via its antioxidant mechanism.

CoQ10 is also protective of the lining of small vessels and serves as an endothelial cell protector.

Angina pectoris

This condition, known for a ‘squeezing’, pressure or burning-like chest pain , or ‘heart cramp’, is caused by an insufficient supply of oxygen to the heart tissues, which drains them of energy and makes them vulnerable. This deprivation of oxygen is almost always caused by atherosclerotic plaque formation in the blood vessels feeding the heart, called coronary artery disease. Intense cold, physical exertion, or emotional stress may cause an increased need for oxygen and result in symptoms of angina too. Dr. Sinatra also treats patients with angina with CoQ10. It has been found to be effective in several small studies of patients with angina. Just 150 ml of Coq10 a day decreased the frequency of anginal episodes, a 54% reduction in the number of times nitroglycerin was needed and an increase of exercise time during treadmill test.

One study stands out in proving how CoQ10 increases exercise tolerance and decreases the frequency of anginal attacks. In this study, 15 patients with chronic stable angina were enrolled in a double blind placebo controlled crossover trial. Participants took 600 mg of CoQ10, a placebo or a combination of anti-anginal drugs. Results of the three interventions were compared. CoQ10 was shown to provide a significant reduction of exercise induced electrocardiographic abnormalities during stress testing when compared to placebo. A reduction in exercise systolic blood pressure without any changes in diastolic blood pressure or heart rate.

The mechanisms by which CoQ10 improves exercise capacity are not fully understood. But some possible explanations are that CoQ10 has beneficial effects on increasing energy metabolism delaying the onset of anginal symptoms. Also it is possible that its free radical reduction, or a combination of both had to do with the results. CoQ10 is an excellent adjunct strategy to angina pectoris sufferers. A dose of 180-360 mg/day is a good start or higher if there are no results.

Arrhythmia

Arrhythmia frequently occurs in the setting of a heart attack because the oxygen deprived heart is electrically unstable and heart cells then fire randomly.

By stabilizing the membranes of the electrical conduction system, CoQ10 can make it harder for arrhythmia to start in the first place. All the studies done have been on animal models. But the results have proven promising: reduced free radical stress, for blood clotting dissolving therapy during an acute heart attack, angioplasty, and coronary artery bypass surgery.

In one study of 27 patients with abnormal heart beat, reduction in premature ventricular contraction activity was significantly greater after four to five weeks of CoQ10 administration, 60 mg/day. This reduction of palpitations was also seen in diabetics, and hypertensives.

CoQ10 can have an effect on shortening the interval between heartbeats on the electrocardiogram, that may be of benefit for the period immediatly after a heart attack.

The good effects of CoQ10 on reducing oxidative damage, while at the same time controlling arrhythmia potential, suggests coQ10 is a logical treatment of choice in acute heart attack.

CoQ10 appears to be of great value in any case of acute coronary insufficiency, whether from angina, heart attack, congestive heart failure or any coronary heart procedures.

Myocardial protection in cardiac surgery

Pretreating surgical candidates with CoQ10 during cardiac operations has been proven to provide a great deal of protection because the heart is placed under a great deal of metabolic stress that significantly affects the function of the heart following surgery. This has resulted in proven improvement in right and left ventricular myocardial structure.

CoQ10 is effective in preserving heart function following CABG (coronary artery bypass graft surgery) and valve repair surgery and protects the heart against injury. In CABG patients, CoQ10 was proven to have higher myocardial performance and lower requirements for cardiac drugs that help support the heart while coming off heart lung-bypass.

Coronary artery disease and fat oxidation

Coronary artery disease is a condition in which the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle become clogged by atherosclerotic plaque that is deposited on the walls of the artery by oxidized low density lipoprotein (LDL). If plaque buildup is allowed to proceed, coronary artery disease can eventually lead to heart attacks that will kill portions of the heart. Heart attacks are the direct result of energy starvation, caused by the inability of the heart to supply enough oxygen-rich blood to keep the energy furnaces burning. This reduction of blood supply is called ischemia.

Several studies have proven that CoQ10, because it is a fat soluble nutrient, can act as a potent antioxidant of fats, including cholesterol and its components.

In a study by the ‘Heart Research Institute’ in Sidney, Australia researchers found that CoQ10, 100mg 3 times a day, for 11 days increased resistance of LDL to the oxidation process. This has enormous implications since the oxidation of LDL appears to be the key step in atherosclerosis.

These results were taken even further in a 2003 report in the scientific journal Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, this study studied 144 patients with classic symptoms of acute myocardial infarction (AMI), or heart attack. Patients were followed for one year. This study showed for the first time that treatment with CoQ10 was associated with significant decline in total cardiac events, including nonfatal heart attacks and cardiac deaths, probably because of its rapid protective effects on blood clot formation (thrombosis), endothelial function, and prevention of oxidative damage (free radicals).

No other study has researched this, and it is highly significant because studies like these indicate that treatment with CoQ10 within 72 hours of infarction may be associated with a significant decline in total cardiac events, decreased risk of atherosclerosis, increased blood levels of vitamin E helping inhibit LDL oxidation and reduced oxidative damage to the heart by fighting free radicals and reducing injury.

Concluding, Co-enzyme Q10 has proven to be of great importance in the energy production of the heart. It is so important that the body will make its own under healthy circumstances. However, since there are many factors that can influence its availability, it is important to consider supplementing with CoQ10, as part of a health regiment that includes the other vital nutrients: D-Ribose, L-Carnitine, and magnesium, together with the Heart and Body Extract, a sensible diet and moderate exercise.

Thank you for reading.

References:

(1) Sinatra, Stephen T. The Sinatra Solution: Metabolic Cardiology. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health, 2011. 59-100. Print.

Co-enzyme Q10, the spark of life (Pt. 1)

As the heart is the most metabolically active organ in the body, a constant supply of energy is required to allow it to pump out blood to the rest of the body. If there is something we can do to improve the heart’s energy production, it is key that we learn about it. The good news is that the heart is highly responsive to supplementation. So far we have explained how good circulation is key because it allows nutrients to be transported where they are needed for heart cells to make energy. We have also explained that key nutrients for energy are L-Carnitine, D-Ribose, and magnesium. But there is another molecule that is essential in the energy cycle of the heart. This is the case of Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10).

Dr. Stephen Sinatra believes the discovery of CoQ10 was one of the greatest advancements of the 20th century for the treatment of heart disease. He has seen the great improvement CoQ10 offers for many heart conditions like congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, angina, and arrhythmia, but also for non-cardiological issues like periodontal disease, cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, male infertility, immune support in HIV/AIDS, even aging. In his practice he has used CoQ10 with his patients with a lot of success, even two of his patients were able to come off the transplant list. Despite all this, he still feels this nutrient is being ignored by many cardiologists. This is the reason he has dedicated much on his work to bringing awareness about it.

In today’s blog we will explain with detail what CoQ10 is, and how it can be used as part of a nutritional protocol that includes the Heart and Body Extract, L-carnitine, D-Ribose, and magnesium, together with a sensitive diet and moderate exercise. We will focus on the work of cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra and his many years of experience in heart health.

Definition and biochemistry of CoQ10

CoQ10, also known as ubiquinone, is a fat soluble vitamin-like compound that is found and manufactured in virtually every cell and tissue of the human body. The highest concentrations are found in the liver, the kidneys and the lungs, but the heart requires the highest amounts.

Generally speaking, energy manufacture is a second by second process that depends on some necessary steps: oxygen, essential nutrients, vitamins and co-factors. A deficiency or imbalance in any of these may contribute over time to impaired functioning of the cells, tissues, organs and the entire body.

Specifically, manufacture of CoQ10 is a complex process that needs the aminoacid tyrosine and multiple vitamins: folic acid, vitamin C, B 12, B 6, B 5, co-factors, aminoacids, trace elements and a few essential nutrients. A deficiency in any of these will impair the cells’ ability to make CoQ10, and without CoQ10 our body cannot survive.

In terms of cellular energy production (ATP) ‘CoQ10 is a vital component of the mitochondrial respiratory chain supporting heart energy at the cellular level’ (1). In fact, cellular energy metabolism is CoQ10’s most important function. This is how it happens: Inside the mitochondria, electrons are transported in order to give up their energy to generate ATP, fueling every cellular function. CoQ10 is vital in the electron transport chain because it picks up electrons from one member of the chain and drops them at the feet of another. And the key aspect to understand here is that Co Q10 is constantly in motion: it picks up electron and delivers them along the chain over and over. Without CoQ10 doing this, the activity of the electron transport chain would slow or cease altogether. CoQ10 is like the spark in the mitochondria of each cell that initiates the energy process, making it vital to life. Deficiency in CoQ10 can translate into a failing heart or a declining immune system, both of which will put us at risk for disease and premature aging.

This step by step energy process dependent on oxygen and essential nutrients like CoQ10 is also why the Heart and Body Extract is a key player in the energy production of the heart. Without proper circulation, oxygen and nutrients cannot reach the cell and this process then is hindered. Dr. Sinatra recommends a health protocol that includes key nutritional supplements like CoQ10 (around 360 mg/day), potassium, magnesium, garlic, 2-3 grams of fish oil, and 1-2 grams of L-carnitine. With this program, together with a sensible diet and exercise, he has been able to wean his patients off of anti-hypertensive drugs or at least reduce them.

CoQ10s role as an antioxidant

CoQ10’s key role in energy production in every cell of the body also gives it a powerful antioxidant activity. Its properties as antioxidant are:

  • It reduces oxidation of fats in the cell membrane
  • It reduces oxidation of LDL
  • It protects proteins and DNA from oxidation
  • It assists the body in combating free radical stress: In this sense, CoQ10 is a powerful antioxidant molecule which can be used throughout the body but specifically for the prevention of atherosclerosis, and coronary heart disease. Coq10 accomplishes this by engulfing free radicals before they do damage. CoQ10 also recycles vitamin E, another key antioxidant nutrient.

How and when to supplement with CoQ10

As long as we are healthy and eat a diet high in vitamins, aminoacids, and minerals and as long as we are not exposed to many environmental toxins that lead to free radical formation, our bodies can make all the CoQ10 they need. But in the case of an ailing heart, supplementation is key. Just a 25% reduction of CoQ10 can cause our organs to become deficient and impaired. When levels decline by 75% serious tissue damage and even death may occur. Nutritional deficiencies, disease, stressors like high intensity exercise, cholesterol lowering drugs and aging can lead to deficiencies in CoQ10.

Dietary sources of CoQ10 are vegetables (like broccoli and spinach), nuts, ocean fish and shellfish, and meats (pork, chicken and beef). However, we usually only get around 2-5 mg per day from food.

In cases of disease, supplementation is needed because dietary sources might not be enough. Something that needs to be understood about CoQ10 is that it is not uncommon to find it hard to absorb. Dr Sinatra explains that the relative large size of the CoQ10 molecule can impede its absorption. The powder forms of CoQ10 are almost totally unabsorbed by the intestine, while the fatty forms are more readily absorbed. This is because CoQ10 is a fatty substance and as such it needs a working digestive system.

Another important factor to consider is the kind of CoQ10 administered, as not all of them are the same. Some are more bioavailable than others. There are commercially available coQ10 capsules that contain either oil-based suspensions (soft gels) or dry power blends. Most have proven to be very poorly absorbed. CoQ10 may not be absorbed by the body for a number of reasons. The person may not be absorbing because of digestive problems, or the product may be of low quality, either because it doesn’t contain pure CoQ10 or because it may contain fillers.

Since CoQ10 is fat soluble it is poorly absorbed in water and is absorbed the same way as any regular fatty food is. It is therefore ingested better with fatty foods. And it requires a working liver and gallbladder. This also means that the fat soluble form is better than the powder. The largest producer of coenzyme Q10 in the world is the Japanese fermentation technology leader named Kaneka. The brand name is ‘Q-Gel’.

Deficiencies are more prominent in tissues that are more metabolically active, such as the heart, immune system, gingiva (soft tissue around the teeth) and an over active thyroid.

Dosage

The usual dosage is 100mg, but Dr. Sinatra has observed that higher doses might be needed. This is the when there is no evident improvement with the usual dose, in which case the dosage always needs to be increased until obvious improvement is seen. The sickest patients obviously will need more.

When it comes to the amount, it is important to consider how it is absorbed and how much is delivered to the tissues. Whether capsules, cap-tabs, or regular oil based Co-Q10 Dr. Sinatra’s recommendations are as follows:

  • 90-150 mg daily as preventive in cardiovascular disease or periodontal disease
  • 180-360 mg daily for the treatment of angina, cardiac arrhythmia, high blood pressure, and moderate gingival disease and for patients taking statin drugs
  • 300-360 m daily for mild/moderate congestive heart failure
  • 360-600 mg daily for severe congestive heart failure and dilated cardiomyopahy
  • 600-1,200 mg daily for an improvement in quality of life in Parkinson’s disease

For severely impaired immune system as in cancer even higher doses of coQ10 may be required.

15 mg of Q-Gel softgel capsules, a water-soluble form of Co-Q10 is the equivalent of about 50 mg of standard coQ10. Once a therapeutic effect is obtained, that is, when there is improved well-being, lowered blood pressure, improved shortness of breath, better gum tissues, etc maintenance dose may be adjusted.

The most accurate way to assess how CoQ10 is being absorbed and delivered to tissues and organs is by blood test. When CoQ10 is delivered in sufficient dosages, it will support the tissues in need.

Ubiquinol, the other form of CoQ10

Ubiquinone is a stable form of CoQ10. Once ingested in the form of food or supplements, enzymes in the body called reductase reduce ubiquinone to ubiquinol, the antioxidant form that makes up practically all the circulating coQ10 in the body. More than 90% of the circulating CoQ10 in our body is present as ubiquinol. It is during the transport of electrons process in the mitochondrial membrane that this conversion from -none to -nol is done.

Ubiquinol has been developed as a commercial supplement only recently, and one small study has shown it has an excellent absorption rate when compared to the non-soluble form of CoQ10.

Is ubiquinol really better than ubiquinone?

Most ubiquinone has to be reduced to ubiquinol in order to be used by the body, so it would make sense that the best way is to supplement with its reduced or ubiquinol form. After years of research, Japan’s largest producer of CoQ10 in the world has recently developed a patented method to manufacture ubiquinol so that it can be used in supplements.

Dr. Sinatra recommends this form for patients with severely depleted energy such as patients with advanced end stage heart failure, liver failure, renal failure, or in patients with advanced, relentless chronic fatigue. In these cases there might be an advantage in using ubiquinol over ubiquinone since it does not need to be converted.

Also, those with a genetic mutation known as NQO1 lack the enzyme necessary to make the conversion. In these cases it might be more appropriate to use the ubiquinol form. Also for patients for which ubiquinone is not yielding results, Dr. Sinatra recommends ubiquinol.