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Magnesium: The Safe First Line of Defense for Clinical Depression

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This article was written by Ali Le Vere for Greenmedinfo.com. It’s republished here with their permission. For more information from Greenmedinfo, you can sign up for the newsletter here.

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The science supporting the efficacy of magnesium for major depression and other psychiatric disorders, testing for magnesium deficiency, and which forms and dosages are most effective.

Depression, a life-threatening psychiatric disorder, lies at the confluence of biochemical, hormonal, immunological, and neurodegenerative variables, which intersect to generate the pro-inflammatory state with which depression is associated. A major public health issue, depression is estimated to become one of the top three contributors to the global burden of diseases within a few years. Not only does depression consume a sizable portion of health care expenditures, but it is considered to be an independent risk factor for metabolic, cardiovascular, and neuropsychiatric disorders (1).

Current treatments are predicated upon a misguided serotonin theory of depression, and are accompanied by a laundry list of deleterious side effects ranging from sexual dysfunction to homicidality (2, 3, 4). Antidepressant medications likewise significantly increase the risk of all-cause mortality, or death from any cause, as well as heart disease, leading researchers to deem this class of pharmaceuticals as harmful to the general population (5). This, in combination with data indicating that antidepressants are clinically equivalent to placebo, render them an unfavorable option (6), especially considering that they offer little in the way of resolving the root cause.

Magnesium: The Miracle Mineral

Rather than resorting to psychotropic drugs, it would be prudent to explore whether magnesium (Mg) supplementation improves depression, since this essential mineral is implicated in the pathophysiology of this disorder. Magnesium may be indeed branded as miraculous given its essentiality as a cofactor to over three hundred enzymatic reactions (7). It is second only to potassium in terms of the predominant intracellular cations, or ions residing in cells that harbor a positive charge (7).

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Magnesium is fundamentally involved in protein production, synthesis of nucleic acids, cell growth and division, and maintenance of the delicate electrolyte composition of our cells (7). It also imparts stability to the membranes of the energy factories of our cells called mitochondria (7). As articulated by researchers, “The physiological consequences of these biochemical activities include Mg’s central roles in the control of neuronal activity, cardiac excitability, neuromuscular transmission, muscular contraction, vasomotor tone, and blood pressure” (7).

The biological effects of magnesium are widespread. When deficient, magnesium is correlated with systemic inflammation. Not only does magnesium sufficiency promote cardiovascular health, relaxing the smooth muscles that comprise blood vessels and preventing high levels of vascular resistance that cause hypertension, but it also plays a role in musculoskeletal health and prevents sarcopenia, osteoporosis, and fractures (8). Magnesium is essential to regulation of sleep (9) and vitamin D metabolism (10) as well as neural plasticity and cognitive function.

However, food processing and industrial agriculture, including monoculture crop practices and the use of magnesium-devoid fertilizers, have led to soil erosion and depletion of magnesium content in our food (7). Magnesium is likewise removed from most drinking water supplies, rendering magnesium deficiency an inevitability (11). As such, our daily intake of magnesium has steadily declined from 500 milligrams (mg) per day to 175 mg per day (7). The nutrient-poor, energy-dense dietary patterns which have come to dominate the industrialized landscape are also insufficient in the fiber-rich fruits and vegetables which contain magnesium.

Animal Studies Propose a Role for Magnesium in Depression

Preliminary animal studies pointed to a role of magnesium in depression, as depletion of magnesium in the diet of mice lead to enhanced depression- and anxiety-related behavior such as increased immobility time in the forced swim test (12). In the forced swim test, a common assay for examining depression-like behavior in rodents, the animal is confined to a container filled with water and observed as it attempts to escape. The time in which the animal exhibits immobility is used as a barometer of despair, indicating that the animal has succumbed to a fate of drowning (1).

This model is confirmed by studies showing that administering substances with antidepressant properties such as Hypericum perforatum, also known as St. John’s Wort, can significantly decrease the time the animal spends without locomotor activity (12). In addition, the time the animal spends immobilized is influenced by many of the factors that are changed as a consequence of depression in humans, such as drug-withdrawal-induced anhedonia, impaired sleep, and altered food consumption (1).

Human Studies Confirm the Role of Magnesium in Depression

There is a paucity of research on the influence of specific micronutrients in depression and results are inconsistent, but several studies have revealed low serum magnesium in this mood disorder. It is well-documented, for example, that dietary magnesium deficiency in conjunction with stress can lead to neuropathologies and symptoms of psychiatric disorders. Researchers echo this sentiment, stating that, “Dietary deficiencies of magnesium, coupled with excess calcium and stress may cause many cases of other related symptoms including agitation, anxiety, irritability, confusion, asthenia, sleeplessness, headache, delirium, hallucinations and hyperexcitability” (11, p. 362).

The Hordaland Health study in Western Norway illustrated an inverse association between standardized energy-adjusted magnesium intake and depression scores, meaning that people who consumed less magnesium had higher rates of depression (13). When the serum and cerebrospinal fluid of acutely depressed patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder or bipolar patients in a depressive episode were compared to healthy controls, the calcium to magnesium ratio was found to be elevated in the former (14). Calcium and magnesium are minerals which antagonize one another and compete for absorption, since each of these minerals is a divalent cation (a positive ion with a valence of two). Suicidality, one of the primary manifestations of severe depression, is accompanied by low cerebrospinal fluid levels of magnesium despite normal calcium levels, lending credence to the role of magnesium in positive emotionality (15).

Magnesium Effective in Bipolar Disorder, Fibromyalgia, PMS, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A formulation of magnesium aspartate hydrochloride known as Magnesiocard has been shown to invoke mood-stabilizing effects in patients with severe rapid cycling bipolar disorder in one open study label (16). In half of the patients treated, this magnesium preparation had results equivalent to lithium, the standard of care for this patient population, such that the researchers suggested: “The possibility that Magnesiocard could replace or improve the efficacy of lithium as a preventive treatment of manic-depressive illness merits further clinical investigation” (16, p. 171). When used as an adjunctive therapy in severe, therapy-resistant mania, magnesium sulphate infusions significantly reduced the use of lithium, benzodiazepines and neuroleptics, so much so that the researchers concluded that it “may be a useful supplementary therapy for the clinical management of severe manic agitation” (17, p. 239).

In another randomized trial of elderly patients with type 2 diabetes and magnesium deficiency, elemental magnesium administered at 450 mg per day was found to have equivalent efficacy to 50 mg of the antidepressant drug Imipramine in treating depressive symptoms (18). Magnesium citrate taken at 300 mg per day has likewise been shown to decrease depression and other symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia as indicated by significant decreases in the fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ) and Beck depression scores (19).

Data also indicate that supplementation with 360 mg of magnesium administered to women with premenstrual syndrome (PMS) three times a day in the second half of the cycle is effective for so-called negative affect and other premenstrual-related mood symptoms (20). Lastly, intramuscular magnesium sulphate administered every week for six weeks has been proven to be effective in improving emotional state and other parameters in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) (21).

Mechanism of Action for Antidepressant Effects of Magnesium

According to researchers, “Biological systems discussed to be involved in the pathophysiology of affective disorders and the action of mood stabilizing drugs are affected by Mg, such as the activity of the hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenocortical (HPA) system, corticotropin releasing factor (CRF)-, GABA- and glutamatergic (via NMDA receptors) neurotransmission and several transduction pathways including protein kinase C” (12). Not only that, but magnesium elicits similar effects on nocturnal hormonal secretion and sleep brain waves to lithium salts, which are used as a treatment modality for bipolar disorder, supporting the role of magnesium as a mood stabilizer (22).

Magnesium operates as an agonist, or a stimulatory molecule, for γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors (22). GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. By binding to the GABA receptor and replicating the effects of GABA, magnesium may alleviate anxiety. Magnesium may also elicit its antidepressant effects by acting as an inorganic antagonist of N-methyl-d-aspartic acid (NMDA) receptor function (Poleszak et al., 2007). Receptor antagonists are ligands, or substances, which bind to a receptor but inhibit its activity rather than activating it. NMDA receptors, which occur on the surface of nerve cells, are activated in part by glutamate, one of the excitatory amino acids in the brain.

Researchers state that, “Dysfunction of NMDA receptors seems to play a crucial role in the neurobiology of disorders such as Parkinson’s diseaseAlzheimer’s diseaseepilepsy, ischemic stroke, anxiety and depression,” such that, “ligands interacting with different sites of NMDA receptor complex are widely investigated as potential agents for the treatment of a variety of neuropsychiatric disorders” (22). In fact, drug inhibitors at the NMDA receptor complex, such as ketamine, demonstrate antidepressant effects (23, 24), but also induce such severe side effects that their clinical utility is limited (31). Magnesium, on the other hand, may have a similar mechanism of action by interfering with NMDA receptor activation without the adverse consequences of drug-induced NMDA receptor blockade (25).

Recent Study Proves Efficacy of Oral Magnesium for Depression

A recent open-label, randomized, cross-over trial was conducted in outpatient primary care clinics on 126 adults diagnosed with depression (26). During the intervention, 248 mg of elemental magnesium chloride per day, obtained from four 500 mg tablets, was administered for six weeks and compared to six weeks of no treatment, and subjects were evaluated for changes in depressive symptoms (26).

Magnesium administration results in clinically significant improvements in scores on both the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9), a validated measure of the severity of depression and response to treatment, as well as the Generalized Anxiety Disorders-7 (GAD-7), a sensitive self-reported screening tool for severity of anxiety disorders (26). Impressively, results appeared in as little as two weeks, representing the dramatic improvement that nutrient restoration can facilitate (26). Impressively, however, magnesium exerted anti-depressant effects regardless of baseline magnesium level. It also exhibited efficacy independent of the gender, age, or baseline severity of depression of subjects, as well as their use of antidepressant medications (26). The authors of the study conclude, “Magnesium is effective for mild-to-moderate depression in adults. It works quickly and is well tolerated without the need for close monitoring for toxicity” (26).

Populations At Risk for Magnesium Deficiency

Half of the population of the United States was found to consume less than the recommended amount of magnesium when estimated a decade ago (27). Not only is magnesium lost with certain medical conditions, but this mineral is excreted as a consequence of biological activities such as sweating, urinating, and defecating as well as excess production of stress hormones (7, 11). In addition, because low magnesium has been correlated with various disease states, increasing magnesium status may mitigate risk of these diseases.

For instance, researchers note that, “Low magnesium intakes and blood levels have been associated with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, elevated C-reactive protein, hypertension, atherosclerotic vascular disease, sudden cardiac death, osteoporosis, migraine headache, asthma, and colon cancer” (27, p. 153). In addition, magnesium deficiency at a cellular level “elicits calcium-activated inflammatory cascades independent of injury or pathogens” (27, p. 153). Low magnesium is associated with systemic inflammation, and inflammation is at the root of most chronic and degenerative diseases.

Testing for Magnesium and Food Sources of Magnesium

While the first inclination of some physicians may be to test magnesium levels for an objective parameter of deficiency, the widely used serum or plasma magnesium does not accurately reflect magnesium levels stored in other tissues (28, 29). In addition, both this hematological index of magnesium status, referred to as total magnesium, and the erythrocyte magnesium level, indicative of the levels of magnesium inside red blood cells, are not negatively affected until severe magnesium deprivation has occurred (7). Therefore, these testing methodologies are not accurate enough to catch preliminary or subclinical magnesium deficiency.

Good food sources of magnesium include pumpkin and squash seed kernels, Brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, quinoa, spinach, Swiss chard, beet greens, potatoes, artichoke hearts, dates, bananas, coconut milk, prickly pear, black beans, lima beans, soybeans, and seafood sources including halibut, abalone, anchovy, caviar, conch, crab, oyster, scallop, snail, and pollock. However, it is important to note that magnesium can be leeched from vegetables when food is boiled, and that fiber in excess can decrease magnesium absorption by increasing gastrointestinal motility (7).

Most Bioavailable Forms of Magnesium

As elucidated by the researchers, “Over-the-counter magnesium can be offered as an alternative therapy to those patients hesitant to begin antidepressant treatment and is easily accessible without a prescription” (26). Because the soil is no longer enriched in magnesium, supplementation may be warranted. Organic salts of magnesium, including the acetate, ascorbate, aspartate, bicitrate, gluconate, and lactate forms are more soluble and biologically active over the magnesium mineral salts such as magnesium oxide, magnesium carbonate, magnesium chloride, and magnesium sulfate (7).

However, case studies have shown remarkably rapid recovery from major depression, in less than seven days, when magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurinate are administered at dosages of 125 to 300 mg with each meal and at bedtime (11). Magnesium threonate may also be explored as a therapeutic option, as it may have better penetrance of the blood brain barrier and restore neurological levels of magnesium. This form, which is delivered directly to the brain, may improve cerebral signaling pathways and synaptic connections between nerve cells as well as support learning and memory, although the studies have been conducted in animal models (30).

Researchers report that magnesium is usually effective for treating depression in general use, and that comorbid conditions occurring in these case studies, including “traumatic brain injury, headache, suicidal ideation, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, postpartum depression, cocaine, alcohol and tobacco abuse, hypersensitivity to calcium, short-term memory loss and IQ loss were also benefited” by magnesium supplementation (11, p. 362). Barring abnormal kidney function, the Institute of Medicine sets the upper tolerable limit for intake at 350 mg of elemental magnesium per day, but there are few adverse side effects documented unless consumed in inordinate doses (26).

Before changing your medication or nutraceutical regimen, always consult a functional or integrative medical doctor for contraindications. However, given the benign nature of magnesium supplementation and the ubiquity of magnesium insufficiency, depressedpatients should be offered this as a first line strategy alongside a holistic root-cause resolution approach to treating depression (26).

For additional research on magnesium, visit our database on the subject. 

References

1. Yankelevitch-Yahav, R. et al. (2015). The Forced Swim Test as a Model of Depressive-like Behavior. Journal of Visualized Experiments,  97, 52587.

2. Srilakshmi, P., & Versi, L. (2012). Review of sexual dysfunction due to selective serotonin repute inhibitors. AP Journal of Psychological Medicine, 13(1), 28-31.

3. Dording, C.M. et al. (2002). The pharmacologic management of SSRI-induced side effects: a survey of psychiatrists. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, 14(3), 143-147.

4. Moore, T.J., Glenmullen, J., & Furberg, C.D. (2010). Prescription drugs associated with reports of violence towards others. PLoS One, 5, e15337.

5. Maslej, M.M. et al. (2017). The Mortality and Myocardial Effects of Antidepressants Are Moderated by Preexisting Cardiovascular Disease: A Meta-Analysis. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 86, 268-282.

6. Antonuccio, D.O., Burns, D.D., & Danton, W.G. (2002). Antidepressants: A Triumph of Marketing Over Science? Prevention & Treatment, Volume 5(25).

7. Newhouse, I., & Finstad, E.W. (2000). The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Exercise Performance. Journal of Sports Medicine, 10(3), 195-200.

8. Welch, A.A., Skinner, J., & Hickson, M. (2017). Dietary Magnesium May Be Protective for Aging of Bone and Skeletal Muscle in Middle and Younger Older Age Men and Women: Cross-Sectional Findings from the UK Biobank Cohort. Nutrients, 9(11), E1189. doi: 10.3390/nu9111189.

9. Abbasi, B. et al. (2012). The effect of magnesium supplementation on primary insomnia in elderly: A double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial. Journal of Research in Medical Science, 17(12), 1161-1169.

10. Mursu, J. et al. (2015). The association between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 concentration and risk of disease death in men: modification by magnesium intake. European Journal of Epidemiology, 30(4), 343-347.  doi: 10.1007/s10654-015-0006-9.

11. Eby, G.A., & Eby, K.L. (2006). Rapid recovery from major depression using magnesium treatment. Medical Hypotheses, 67(2), 362-370.

12. Singewald, N. et al. (2004). Magnesium-deficient diet alters depression- and anxiety-related behavior in mice–influence of desipramine and Hypericum perforatum extract. Neuropharmacology, 47(8), 1189-1197.

13. Jacka, F.N. et al. (2009). Association between magnesium intake and depression and anxiety in community-dwelling adults: the Hordaland Health Study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 43(1), 45-52. doi: 10.1080/00048670802534408.

14. Levine, J. et al. (1999). High serum and cerebrospinal fluid Ca/Mg ratio in recently hospitalized acutely depressed patients. Neuropsychobiology, 39(2), 63-70.

15. Banki, C.M. et al. (1995). Cerebrospinal fluid magnesium and calcium related to amine metabolites, diagnosis, and suicide attempts. Biological Psychiatry, 20, 163-171.

16. Chouinard, D. et al. (1990). A pilot study of magnesium aspartate hydrochloride (Magnesiocard) as a mood stabilizer for rapid cycling bipolar affective disorder patients. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology, Biology, and Psychiatry, 14, 171-180.

17. Heiden, A. et al. (1999). Treatment of severe mania with intravenous magnesium sulphate as a supplementary therapy. Psychiatry Research, 3, 239-246.

18. Barragán-Rodríguez, L., Rodríguez-Morán, M., & Guerrero-Romero, F. (2008). Efficacy and safety of oral magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression in the elderly with type 2 diabetes: a randomized, equivalent trial. Magnesium Research, 21(4), 218-223.

19. Bagis, S. et al. (2013). Is magnesium citrate treatment effective on pain, clinical parameters and functional status in patients with fibromyalgia? Rheumatology International, 33(1), 167-172. doi: 10.1007/s00296-011-2334-8.

20. Facchinetti, F. et al. (1991). Oral magnesium successfully relieves premenstrual mood changes. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 78(2), 177-181.

21. Cox, I.M. et al. (1991). Red blood cell magnesium and chronic fatigue syndrome. The Lancet, 337(8744), 757-760.

22. Held, K. et al. (2002). Oral Mg(2+) supplementation reverses age-related neuroendocrine and sleep EEG changes in humans. Pharmacopsychiatry, 35(4), 135-143.

23. Zarate, C.A. Jr. et al. (2006). A randomized trial of an N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist in treatment-resistant major depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 63, 856-864.

24. Berman, R.M. et al. (2000). Antidepressant effect of ketamine in depressed patients. Biological Psychiatry, 47, 351-354.

25. Poleszak, E. et al. (2007). NMDA/glutamate mechanism of antidepressant-like action of magnesium in forced swim test in mice. Elsevier Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 88(2).

26. Tarleton, E.K. et al. (2017). Role of magnesium supplementation in the treatment of depression: A randomized clinical trial. PLoS One, 12(6), e0180067. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0180067.

27. Rosanoff, A., Weaver, C.M., & Rude, R.K. (2012). Suboptimal magnesium status in the United States: are the health consequences underestimated? Nutrition Reviews, 70(3), 153-164. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2011.00465.x.

28. Altura, B.T. et al. (1994). Characterization of a new ion selective electrode for ionized magnesium in whole blood, plasma, serum, and aqueous samples. Scandinavian Journal of Clinical Lab Investigations, 54(Suppl. 217), 21–36.

29. Weller, E. et al. (1998). Lack of effect of oral Mg-supplementation on Mg in serum, blood cells and calf muscle. Medical Science Sports Exercise, 30, 1584–1591.

30. Slutsky, I. et al. (2010). Enhancement of learning and memory by elevating brain magnesium. Neuron, 65(2), 165-177. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2009.12.026.

31. Willetts, J., Balster, R.L., & Leander, J.D. (1990). The behavioral pharmacology of NMDA receptor antagonists. Trends in Pharmacological Science, 11, 423-428.

Ali Le Vere holds dual Bachelor of Science degrees in Human Biology and Psychology, minors in Health Promotion and in Bioethics, Humanities, and Society, and is a Master of Science in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine candidate. Having contended with chronic illness, her mission is to educate the public about the transformative potential of therapeutic nutrition and to disseminate information on evidence-based, empirically rooted holistic healing modalities. Read more at @empoweredautoimmune on Instagram and at www.EmpoweredAutoimmune.com: Science-based natural remedies for autoimmune disease, dysautonomia, Lyme disease, and other chronic, inflammatory illnesses.

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Awareness

Cancer is Now the Leading Cause of Death

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Cancer has surpassed heart disease as the No. 1 cause of death in high-income countries, highlighting the urgent need to change the way this disease is prevented and treated.

  • Reflect On:

    Rather than being a random result of DNA mutations, it's possible that cancer could have much deeper roots that would be better targeted with natural therapies than toxicity.

This article was written by the Greenmedinfo Research Group, originally published by Greenmedinfo.com. Published here with permission. 

Cancer has dethroned heart disease to earn the nefarious title of leading cause of death in high-income and certain middle-income countries.[i] While heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death globally among adults aged 35 to 70, in high-income countries, which included Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Canada and Sweden, cancer caused twice as many deaths as heart disease.[ii]

Some middle-income countries, which included the Philippines, Iran, South Africa, Colombia, China, Brazil, Malaysia, Turkey, Poland, Argentina and Chile, also saw cancer become the leading cause of death.

While the U.S. was not included in the new analysis, research published in 2018 suggested, “the United States is in the midst of an epidemiologic transition in the leading cause of death,” moving from heart disease to cancer.[iii]

That study, too, found that cancer was quickly outpacing heart disease as the top killer, with high-income counties transitioning first. In fact, while only 21% of U.S. counties had cancer as the leading cause of death in 2003, this rose to 41% in 2015.

“The shift to cancer as the leading cause of death was greatest in the highest-income counties,” the researchers explained,[iv] echoing the current study, which also cited “a transition in the predominant causes of deaths in middle-age” in high-income countries.[v]

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“The world is witnessing a new epidemiologic transition among the different categories of noncommunicable diseases, with CVD [cardiovascular disease] no longer the leading cause of death in HIC [high-income countries],” lead author Dr. Gilles Dagenais, professor emeritus, Laval University, Quebec, Canada, said in a statement.[vi]

Why is Cancer a Top Killer?

The study suggested cancer is rising to the top because heart disease is better treated in high-income countries, saving more lives from heart disease and paving the way for cancer deaths to flourish. But perhaps a better question is why cancer continues to kill so many.

Even globally, cancer still comes in as the second leading cause of death behind heart disease, responsible for 26% of deaths worldwide.[vii] In the U.S., Americans have a 1 in 3 risk of developing cancer at some point in their lifetimes, along with a 1 in 5 risk of dying from the disease.[viii]

In early 2019, it was announced that cancer death rates in the U.S. declined 27% since 1991,[ix] a statistic that makes it seem as though we’re winning the “war on cancer.” But most of these declines can be attributed to reductions in smoking — and perhaps a limited measure of increased early detection and treatment — and are not a sign that conventional medicine’s model of surgerychemotherapy and/or radiation to treat cancer is, on the whole, working.

While death rates from certain cancer have declined, others have increased. Overall, cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2016 were similar to those in 1930[x] — despite all the “advances” in detection and treatment.

Changing the Way We Think About Cancer

It’s becoming increasingly clear that in order to conquer cancer, it’s necessary to change the way we think about it. Cancer is found in virtually all animals, suggesting it has evolutionary significance.[xi] It’s possible that cancer is an ancient survival program unmasked — even a process the body undergoes in order to survive nutrient deprivation and exposure to toxins.

Rather than being the result of an accumulation of DNA mutations that create rogue cells that multiply out of control, cancer could be cells that have flipped an epigenetic switch into survival mode in the form of a tumor. In the journal Physical Biology, researchers theorized:[xii]

“[C]ancer is an atavistic [primitive] condition that occurs when genetic or epigenetic malfunction unlocks an ancient ‘toolkit’ of pre-existing adaptations, re-establishing the dominance of an earlier layer of genes that controlled loose-knit colonies of only partially differentiated cells, similar to tumors.”

If this is true, it makes sense that conventional cancer treatments aimed to poison or “kill” the cancerous cells may only make the problem worse by creating an even more toxic environment, which could trigger the cancer to reach back into its “ancient toolkit” to find additional means of survival.

This explanation may be overly simplistic, as there are many factors that contribute to cancer, but there is evidence to suggest that natural substances and therapies that support the body’s overall health can be useful in the fight against cancer.

Nearly 1,000 Natural Substances Have Anti-Cancer Potential

GreenMedInfo has a database of 986 substances that have been researched as potential cancer prevention and treatment strategies. There are undoubtedly many more out there that have yet to be discovered. At the top of the list is curcumin, the active ingredient in the curry spice turmeric, which targets cancer stem cells while leaving normal stem cells unharmed.[xiii]

Another top contender is vitamin D, which you can get for free from adequate sun exposure. Higher vitamin D levels are not only known to lower your cancer risk but also to improve outcomes if you’ve already been diagnosed.[xiv] Fiberresveratrolsulforaphane and vitamin E — all substances you can get from your diet — also show anti-cancer promise, as does coffee, perhaps because it improves the body’s ability to efficiently repair DNA damage.[xv]

So if there was one silver lining to the news that cancer is now the leading cause of death in some countries, it would be that it’s a condition that has many promising natural avenues for prevention and treatment. Current conventional cancer treatments are failing, but that doesn’t mean cancer is unstoppable — it means it’s time to broaden our research into and usage of traditional therapies.

Many natural substances, like noni leaf,[xvi] have even been shown to work better than chemotherapy, highlighting why, if we’re going to win the war against cancer, we’re going to need to do it with nature on our side.

For more on how to naturally fight Cancer, visit the GreenMedInfo database on the subject.

Originally published: 2019-09-14

Article Updated: 2019-11-05

References

[i] The Lancet September 3, 2019

[ii] CNN September 3, 2019

[iii] Annals of Internal Medicine December 18, 2018

[iv] Annals of Internal Medicine December 18, 2018

[v] The Lancet September 3, 2019

[vi] Medscape September 3, 2019

[vii] Medscape September 3, 2019

[viii] American Cancer Society, Lifetime Risk of Developing or Dying From Cancer

[ix] CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians January 8, 2019

[x] CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians January 8, 2019

[xi] Front. Oncol., 10 January 2019

[xii] Physical Biology February 7, 2011

[xiii] Anticancer Res. 2015 Feb ;35(2):599-614.

[xiv] Br J Cancer. 2017 Mar 16. Epub 2017 Mar 16.

[xv] J Nutrigenet Nutrigenomics. 2015 ;8(4-6):174-84.

[xvi] Mol Cell Biochem. 2016 Apr 22. Epub 2016 Apr 22.


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Awareness

Man Fasts For 382 Days Straight & Loses 276 Pounds

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Angus Barbieri, a man who, in June of 1965, began a fast under medical supervision for exactly 382 days. He remained completely healthy for the duration of the fast.

  • Reflect On:

    Today, it's firmly established in scientific literature that fasting can have tremendous benefits, if done correctly. It can also be used to treat a variety of diseases. Perhaps it's not emphasized because you can't make money off of not eating?

A study published in the Post Graduate Medical Journal in 1972 brought more attention to a gentleman by the name of Angus Barbieri, a man who, in June of 1965, began a fast under medical supervision for exactly 382 days and, at the time the study was published, had since maintained his ordinary weight. In his case, “prolonged fasting had no ill effects.” Barbieri’s weight decreased from 456 to 180 pounds during the fast.

This isn’t the only example that’s available in the literature, it’s similar to an earlier patient prior to Barbieri who reduced his weight from 432 to 235 pounds during 350 days of intermittent fasting (Stewart, Fleming & Robertson, 1966). Researchers have also fasted patients for 256 days (Collison, 1967, 1971), 249 and 236 days (Thomson et al., 1966) as well as  210 days (Garnett et al., 1969; Runcie & Thomson, 1970), all of which are cited in the 1972 study.

Since the publication of this time, there are many documented examples of prolonged fasting done by highly obese people. Here’s one recent example of a man who fasted for 50 straight days, while being medically supervised and tested the whole time.

When you fast, your body switches from burning glucose, to burning fat. Fasting lowers insulin levels which allows the body to access its fat stores for energy. When you eat, food is converted into glucose and that’s what we usually burn. This is why fasting has become a therapeutic intervention for many people with type two diabetes, and more doctors, like Dr. Jason Fung, a Toronto Based nephrologist, are having great success with utilizing fasting as an appropriate and necessary health intervention. Fung has many great articles regarding the science of fasting, you can access them here if you’re interested in learning more. This article references some of the leading scientists in the field so you can learn more by looking them up as well.

The graph below depicts what happens to your protein while fasting. Interesting isn’t it? People often believe that if you fast, you will experience a tremendous amount of muscle loss during fasting, but that’s simply not true. This graph is from Kevin Hall, from the NIH in the book “Comparative Physiology of Fasting, Starvation, and Food Limitation.”

“It seems that there are always concerns about loss of muscle mass during fasting. I never get away from this question. No matter how many times I answer it, somebody always asks, “Doesn’t fasting burn your muscle?” Let me say straight up, NO.”  – source Dr. Jason Fung

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But what about Angus Barbieri? Obviously we’re not saying long term fasts for this long are healthy, obviously for many people they will probably be unhealthy and unsafe unless medically supervised. In  the 1972 study doctors measured a number of concentrations within the body. For example, plasma potassium concentrations over the first four months decreased systematically. As a result, they provided a very small daily dose that increased his potassium level. After another 10 weeks, no potassium was given, and from there on in until the end of the fast, plasma potassium levels remained normal. Cholesterol concentrations also remained around 230 mg/ 100 ml until 300 days of fasting, but increased to 370 mg/100 ml during refeeding.

Plasma magnesium levels decreased over the first few weeks of the fast but then went up and stabilized. This is interesting to note as there is nothing going into the body, yet levels still stabilized after the initial decrease.

Normal plasma magnesium concentrations, despite magnesium ‘depletion’ in muscle tissue, have been described (Drenick et al., 1969) during short-term fasting (1-3 months). The only other relevant report is a remark (Runcie & Thomson, 1970) that one patient who fasted 71 days had a normal plasma magnesium level of 2-2 mEq/l at the time when she developed latent tetany. The decrease in the plasma magnesium concentration of our patient was systematic and persistent.

Furthermore:

The excretion of sodium, potassium, calcium and inorganic phosphate decreased to low levels throughout the first 100 days, but thereafter the excretion of all four urinary constituents, as well as of magnesium, began to increase. During the subsequent 200 days sodium excretion, previously between 2 and 20 mEq daily, reached over 80 mEq/24 hr, potassium excretion increased to 30-40 mEq daily and calcium excretion increased from 10-30 mg/24 hr to 250- 280 mg/24 hr. Magnesium excretion (which was not measured during the first 100 days) reached 10 mEq/ 24 hr between Days 200-300. Phosphate excretion, which had decreased to under 200 mg/24 hr, also increased to around 800 mg/24 hr, even exceeding 1000 mg/24 hr on occasion. Peak excretions of all these constituents were seen around Day 300, after which there was a marginal decrease, but excretion remained high.

Obviously, this is an extreme fast and such fasts have only been tested on people of tremendous obesity, and it shows that people with a high body fat percentage have the ability to fast longer simply because their body has more stores to pull from.

The study concluded in 1972 that:

We have found, like Munro and colleagues (1970), that prolonged supervised therapeutic starvation of the obese patient can be a safe therapy, which is also effective if the ideal weight is reached. There is, however, likely to be occasionally a risk in some individuals, attributable to failures in different aspects of the adaptative response to fasting. Until the characteristics of these variations in response are identified, and shown to be capable of detection in their prodromal stages, extended starvation therapy must be used cautiously. In our view, unless unusual hypokalaemia is seen, potassium supplements are not mandatory. Xanthine oxidase inhibitors (or uricosuric agents) are not always necessary and could even be potentially harmful (British Medical Journal, 1971) perhaps particularly in the long-term fasting situation.

It’s almost 2020, and the literature, studies and research that’s been published since 1972 is vast. We’ve learned a lot more about it and if done correctly it can be extremely beneficial. Shot term fasting  presents minimal to no health risks, and so does long term fasting that lasts more than 24 hours, that is unless a person already has an underlying condition. That being said, it’s not easy to start. Most people are used to eating three meals plus snacks every single day, therefore they are never adapted to burning their fat stores, something that appears the human body was meant to do.

“Why is it that the normal diet is three meals a day plus snacks? It isn’t that it’s the healthiest eating pattern, now that’s my opinion but I think there is a lot of evidence to support that. There are a lot of pressures to have that eating pattern, there’s a lot of money involved. The food industry — are they going to make money from skipping breakfast like I did today? No, they’re going to lose money. If people fast, the food industry loses money. What about the pharmaceutical industries? What if people do some intermittent fasting, exercise periodically and are very healthy, is the pharmaceutical industry going to make any money on healthy people?” – Mark Mattson (source)

Fasting has also been shown to be effective as a therapeutic intervention for cancer. Fasting protects healthy cells while ‘starving’ cancer cells, it’s now being used as an intervention that’s being combined with chemotherapy. Fasting has also been shown to greatly reduce the risk of age related diseases like Parkinson’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. Mark Mattson, one of the foremost researchers of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying multiple neurodegenerative disorders has shown through his work that fasting can have a tremendous effect on the brain, and can even reverse the symptoms of multiple neurodegenerative disorders. You can watch his interesting TED talk here.  Scientists have also discovered strong evidence that fasting is a natural intervention for triggering stem cell-based regeneration of an entire organ or system.

Fasting has actually long been known to have an effect on the brain. Children who suffer from epileptic seizures have fewer of them when placed on caloric restriction or fasts. It is believed that fasting helps kick-start protective measures that help counteract the overexcited signals that epileptic brains often exhibit.  (source)

The list goes on and is quite long. At the end of the day if you do your research, fasting, under proper medical supervision, can have tremendous health benefits that go far beyond what’s mentioned in the paragraph above. Every single study that has looked at fasting as a therapeutic intervention for several diseases has shown nothing but positive benefits. Even studies conducted regarding caloric restriction, something completely different than fasting, have shown promising results in all animal models.

According to a review of fasting literature conducted in 2003, “Calorie restriction (CR) extends life span and retards age-related chronic diseases in a variety of species, including rats, mice, fish, flies, worms, and yeast. The mechanism or mechanisms through which this occurs are unclear.” Since this study was published, a great amount of research has been conducted from many researchers, and the mechanisms are being discovered and have become more clear. If you want to further your research, apart from the names listed above, Dr. Valter Longo and his research is another great place to start.

The body has a tremendous amount of storage, and it hangs on to what it needs during a fast, and uses up ‘bad’ things, repairs damaged cells, and more. When you fast and deplete all your glycogen, your body is going to start using fat for energy, it’s going to use damaged cells for energy, it’s basically going to use all of the bad things first, before it gets to the good thing…Your body will not burn protein, as protein is not a fuel source while fasting.

I bring this up because it’s interesting to see what the body loses and hangs on to during a fast.

The Takeaway

The truth about fasting is that it’s not dangerous at all. Intermittent fasting and short term fasting can be done by just about anybody. From what we’ve seen with regards to prolonged fasting, it’s also not very dangerous when it comes to obese people doing it under medically supervised conditions. Theoretically, based on the science alone, any relatively healthy human being should be able to do a prolonged fast without any harmful consequences.

Obviously, prolonged fasts that are not medically supervised can be very detrimental. We are obviously not recommending this and you must do a lot of research and talk to your doctor if you’re interested in fasting, before trying it. For starters, a little bit of intermittent fasting here and there is a no brainer, and not dangerous at all if you have no underlying health conditions, but everybody’s body is different.

Fasting is making a lot of noise, and has been making a lot of noise within the health community, but it’s still not appropriately taught and used by the mainstream medical industry. Why is this so? The answer is simple, you can’t make money off of fasting.

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America’s Largest Milk Producer Files For Bankruptcy – Cow’s Milk Is Inhumane & Unhealthy

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Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay

In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Dean foods, the largest milk producer in the United States has filed for bankruptcy.

  • Reflect On:

    Independent media and activists around the world do have the ability to make change, and this is one of many examples. The world is waking up, even in the face of massive censorship of information. We are more powerful than we know.

Dean Foods, the largest milk company in the United States has recently filed for bankruptcy. The reason? Because Americans, and people all of the world for that matter, are not drinking as much cow’s milk as they used to. Brands that seem to be growing and having success are the ones who are now offering dairy free options.  Oat milk, for example, saw U.S. sales rise 636% to more than $52 million over the past year, according to Nielsen data. Sales of cow’s milk dropped 2.4% in that same time frame.

Chief Executive Officer, Eric Beringause stated: “We continue to be impacted by a challenging operating environment marked by continuing declines in consumer milk consumption.” He’s right, the demand for cow’s milk has dropped nearly 50 percent since 1975.

So, why are people doing this? Well, it’s happening for a number of reasons. First of all, the industry is full of animal cruelty. Cow’s are forcefully impregnated so they can produce milk, and their babies are taken from them for beef so the milk can be drained from the cow so humans can drink it. This causes tremendous heartache. Cows are living in poor conditions where they constantly suffer both emotionally and physically. Furthermore, they can often be abused by workers, but the conditions they live in on factory farms is already seen as abusive to many.

Not only are we starting to become aware that our milk-drinking habit is one of the most cruel industries that exists on Earth,  we are realizing waking up to the fact that 80 percent of the Amazon rainforest destruction is the result of grazing animals for meat and dairy production. It’s one of the main sources of environmental degradation and pollution on our planet. It is destroying our Earth, and the waste is polluting our environment and waterways at an alarming rate. 90 percent of soy used, which is also creating massive amounts of deforestation, is used for animal feed, not humans. So, animal product consumption is clearly the biggest factor when it comes to deforestation and environmental degradation, yet there doesn’t seem to be enough emphasis put on it like there is for C02. Why?

When it comes to the health aspects, I remember being in shock when I came to the realization that we were the only animal on the planet who drank the milk of another animal. Furthermore, we are the only species on the planet that drinks milk after weaning.

There are multiple studies showing that drinking milk from a cow leads to an increased mortality rate and actually makes bones more prone to fracturing, not less. One example would be this giant study from researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden. How ironic is this given the fact that milk has always been marketed to humans as necessary from strong bone health?  Calcium is available in high quantities in a number of planet, how come we weren’t marketed with that?

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One thing milk protein does is trigger metabolic acidosis. This happens when the body produces too much acid and becomes very acidic, which can be caused by multiple things, including the absorption of casein found in animal protein. Casein makes up almost 90 percent of the protein in a cow’s milk. When the body experiences this type of acidosis, it actually forces the body to compensate by leaching calcium from the bones to help neutralize the increased acidity. This became known to me through the work of Dr. Colin Campbell, an American biochemist who specializes in the effect of nutrition on long term health. He is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. Scholars like Campbell are vital to the world, because they are among the few who actually examine and study nutrition and health, something that our modern day medical industry completely ignores. You can watch a video of him explaining, here.

Dr. Campbell also discovered that animal protein (casein) can accelerate and “turn on” cancer, while plant based protein has the opposite effect. You can read more about that and which him explain in this article.

If we look at all other animals who don’t consume the milk of another animal or after weaning, it is because they do not have the enzymes to break down the sugar found in milk. We are no different, and this explains why in some ethnic populations around the world, lactose intolerance is present in 90 percent of the population. A staggering 70 percent of the world’s population has some degree of lactose intolerance.

Humans actually never had this enzyme, and to digest the sugar in cow’s milk, we had to develop the LTC gene, which was acquired by mutation. This is the lactase gene, which allows us to process lactose as adults. Clearly, we are not doing what is natural and in accordance with our bodies. I first came across this information from Katherine S. Pollard, a PhD at the University of California, San Francisco, in this lecture.

That being said, some people might have evolved and developed on cows milk just fine, which is why this information may not apply to everybody but overall, it definitely appears we are doing something unnatural.

More doctors are waking up, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) recently submitted a citizen petition with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change labeling on cheese to include a cancer warning.

The petition states:

High-fat dairy products, such as cheese, are associated with an increased risk for breast cancer. Components in dairy such as insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and other growth hormones may be among the reasons for the increased risk for cancer.

To ensure that Americans understand the potential significant risks, and resulting long-term costs, of consuming dairy cheese products, the FDA should ensure that the notice above is prominently placed on product packaging and labeling for all dairy cheese products.

The list goes on and on, what’s presented in this article is simply a tidbit with regards to why big milk is going out of business. People are waking up.

When it comes to health and cruelty, it’s not just dairy, it’s also meat-eating as well. It’s very in-humane, not all that healthy, and is also destroying our planet.

You can read this article for more information about that: Another Study Suggests That Human Beings Are Not Designed To Eat Meat

The Takeaway

It’s great to see the dairy industry forcing to transition, although there is still a long way to go, it’s quite clear through the efforts of various forms of activism around the world that more people are becoming more empathetic, compassionate, and caring about our treatment of animals and the planet. These are qualities our world certainly needs more of. In conjunction with  the massive amount of animal cruelty that’s being exposed, awareness with regards to the health and environmental consequences of consuming dairy are also skyrocketing.

We are more powerful than we know, and at any time, if we come together, we can change the game big time.

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