Pocket Medicine (4)
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Adrenal glands and…Linus Pauling
This post has two distinct parts – one practical through which I help you immediately establish your adrenal glands state (a very important aspect because it concerns the functionality of the endocrine system and consequently your entire life strategy: from nutrition to state of mind (moods), and from memory to sexual potency); in the 2nd part is presented a critical evaluation of a very debated problem in nutrition and physiology, namely the metabolic meaning of over- / megadosing with ascorbic acid / Vitamin C – a not so appropriate idea due to Linus Pauling, Nobel prize for Chemistry.
The shape of your adrenals
This problem, as previously stated, is fundamental and the most accurate solution to it would be the urine collection during a 24-hour period followed by the analysis of adrenal hormones, especially cortisol; if you are interested by an accurate determination the first step would be to select a highly specialized laboratory. In the following I will suggest some alternative methods, a little less accurate, but nonetheless indicative enough to determine the shape of your adrenals during the test. I will mention that the vast majority of the Western people (4/5 at least ! ) have underactive adrenals, therefore your chance to be included in this group (strongly and prolonged stressed) is about 80%. For a more elaborated exposition of this problem , I strongly recommend the Dr. L. Wilson’s book ” Adrenal Fatigue – the 21 Century Stress Syndrome “.
- The Sargent test:
Take a fork and gently to moderately stroke it against the interior of your forearm skin (about 10 cm length). If after 10-15 seconds the line(s) redden(s) there is a chance that your adrenals are in good shape (the red color being due to the normal defensive, inflammatory mechanism). If the redness takes place later (about 60 seconds) your adrenals are probably underactive. An extreme exhaustion stage of adrenals is indicated by total perspiration inability.
- Excessive craving for salt (salty foods)
as well as sweets ( fruits, juices, cookies ) and even the irrepressible inclination toward coffee and / or tobacco point too to adrenal weakness, the organism trying to repair the general lack of energy through stimulation, as well as the dehydration state through a forced, non-metabolic hydration; it is well known that the sodium and water loss is correlative with the cortisol and aldosterone deficiency. Anyway, if you try to ameliorate your dehydration by consuming salty foods do not forget to support your adrenals by ingesting choline bitartrate (250 mg x 2 per day).
- Skin dehydration
By pinching your skin (best done on the back of your hand ) , if the skin fold persists several seconds (the skin not immediately returning to the initial condition) it can also be concluded that your adrenals are underactive and consequently your cortisol / aldosterone / sodium / hydration are all deficient.
What can be done? If you are interested to effectively improve your adrenal activity the first recommended step is to understand the mechanisms that led to this underactive state. A more detailed presentation of this problem can be found on this blog under the title “ Copper Overload – the Western Metabolic Bomb ”, especially useful to all people with underactive adrenals who are unable to normalize their intracellular copper excess, being exposed to ample metabolic risks, usually designated as stress syndrome and metabolic syndrome ( insulin resistance , IR ), due to some complex , resonant mechanisms represented in a simplified form using the following scheme :
Cu ↑ → vit. C↓, choline ↓ ( stress and adrenal deactivation )
Cu↑ → Ca↑ ( stress and obesity)
Cu↑ → Cr↓ ( stress and metabolic syndrome = IR )
Cu↑→ Mn↓, Zn↓,Se↓..( stress and hypothyroidism): T4 —⁄— T3
It is a relatively slow process (which can also happen suddenly under the influence of some very intense emotional impulses such as the abrupt loss of someone close to you, a unforeseen bankruptcy, etc.), cumulative and still reversible. Biochemists have established a firm direct connection between stress, the shape of the adrenals and the intracellular copper excess: any kind of stress (physical, psychical, nutritional: coffee,..) is always followed by excessive copper accumulation; here we are dealing with a vicious circle or a positive feedback: weak adrenals lead to higher intracellular copper and high intracellular copper leads to even lower adrenal activity. The toxicity of the intracellular copper stores is manifested through profound dysregulation of the mineral and general metabolism – this complex ( much beyond the standard oxidative toxicity ) effect was designated by me through the term “ interference toxicity ”, the scheme below suggesting this real complexity just for the case of the metabolic syndrome .
The most direct negative influence triggered by the copper excess (through de-retention of its antagonist: Zn, Mn, Se,…) is exerted on the thyroid gland of which activity is drastically reduced (hypothyroidism). The typical bio-chemical sequence of this very common degenerative process is the following:
Stress ↑ → Cortisol ↑ → MT (stress protein) ↑ → Cu ↑ → Hypothyroidism
An alternative degenerative process, due to copper excess, is the correlative intracellular calcium buildup ( Cu↑ → Ca ↑), with a direct diminishing impact upon the metabolic rate resulting in additional fat accumulations (obesity). In this context you can commonly encounter the inexact phrase “copper is the greatest depressor of the metabolic rate / activity”, correctly being to incriminate not the copper itself (which is a vital mineral!) but only the copper excess (Cu↑) which is a totally different matter. Based on this model centered on the so-called copper bio-unavailability (explained for the first time in the section “Copper Overload – …” already mentioned) can suggest a shortest / direct pathway to adrenal activation: bio-mobilization of copper excess that can be accomplished in multiple ways, one of them (that I do not recommend it because it replaces one type of degeneration with another) consists in speculating the antagonistic relationship between Cu and vitamin C: through over- or megadosing of vitamin C the toxic copper deposit (calcium store also) is/ are really diminished, activating at the same time the adrenal glands (all these coming with a high metabolic price). Therefore it is recommended to employ some synergistic procedures using concomitantly and in optimal doses (established by me after 2002) not just one but several members of copper antagonist family.
Linus Pauling and adrenal glands: biology is not quite…chemistry
The deficiencies of…Linus Pauling
One of the defining features of modern medicine – one that we are still facing – is the undervaluation of the mineral system in normal and pathological physiology, especially the ignoring / undervaluing of the mineral individual status. Linus Pauling – one of the greatest chemists of all time – has brought to attention the mineral role in health or sickness releasing the following famous adagio: “ Every disease could be ultimately traced back to a mineral deficiency.” I consider this statement as being inexact and in section “Copper Overload – ..” I clearly show that the mineral excess should be blamed, the excess copper being the one determining (especially through de-retention) the deficiencies of all its antagonists: zinc, selenium, chromium, etc. In an improved version Pauling’s statement would be: Every disease could be ultimately traced back to a mineral imbalance.
Another correction that has to be kept in mind concerns the fact that terms such as deficient, normal or excess do not correspond to a homogenous situation, easy to be generalized, but represent just as many individual determinations: what is perfectly normal for some could constitute deficiency or excess for others. Both just mentioned corrections make the theoretical and applicative value of Pauling’s adagio to be drastically diminished.
The excesses of Linus Pauling
Is vitamin C megadosing (procedure mainly promoted by L. Pauling) seeking a daily ingestion for everyone of 5 g – 20 g ascorbic acid a valid physiological procedure? (for the moment we are overlooking the fact that ascorbic acid is only the antioxidant part of the genuine vitamin C ). Is overdosing with ascorbic acid an efficient therapeutic solution for the common cold or flu? To both questions, my answer, based on several decades of bio-chemical experience, is a negative one. The fact that the Western society is strongly stressed (and the stress of any nature equals excess cortisol / intracellular copper) has being the premise – methodologically fragile – of this megadosing procedure, because vitamin C as copper (and calcium ) antagonist really contributes to the diminishing of the toxic deposits of both minerals and correlatively to the activation of weakened adrenals, with certain beneficial ( and detrimental too ! ) effects upon health / well-being. But a word of caution: similar effects (equally positive or negative) may be obtained with any other copper antagonists, for example chromium and sulfur ( this fact omitted by Pauling and his followers has been verified by me at the Transilvania University – Brasov and later in Evanston – IL). Therefore are we going to need a new Pauling for every other copper antagonist ? To mention that overdosing with ascorbic acid is profoundly detrimental to patients with initial copper deficiency (leading to inflammation, infection) whilst for the patients with normal copper levels it is flatly not necessary. As previously shown, utilizing over / megadoses of ascorbic acid is unbalancing because even before normalizing the weak adrenals, the seric calcium is critically reduced, activating this way the PTH (para-thyroid hormone) with ample metabolic complications. Other important unbalances – found at some athletes who decided on trying not mega but just overdosing with ascorbic acid – are suggested by the following schema:
Ascorbic acid ↑ → Ca ↓, Zn ↓, Mn ↓
( for those not used to read such schemas I underline that these are symptoms of sciatica, low energy and sexual insufficiency to some youngsters between 20-30 years ).
If the overdose procedure would have been limited to the important – however modest – status of partial, temporary correction of copper excess through vitamin C supplementation everything would have been somewhat normal but then the procedure – and its promoters – would have reserved a subsidiary position analog to “take statins because you have high cholesterol.” Unfortunately we are dealing with an over solicitation of this procedure (as a distinct form of ortho medicine and nutrition) which unnecessarily raises principial problems since it involves:
- Ignoring / undervaluing of metabolic complications;
- Counterproductive application to certain social groups (see above)
- Overlooking (special, analytical) the excess of antagonist minerals (copper, calcium) accompanied by the real risk of causing permanent deficiencies of the two vital minerals
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid even more because it is actually a drug) has to be utilized in OPTIMAL amounts – not higher or lower – rigorously related to biochemical individuality. Violating of optimal condition (both positive or negative imbalances) is / are punished by the organism in a rational, intelligible manner: the vitamin C excess leads to inflammations / infections due to functional copper deficiency established in the system (caution: a first sign of this state is the inflammation of the right eye), while vitamin C deficiency leads to degeneration due to the uncontrolled increase of toxic store of intracellular copper.
Worth mentioning: the efficient maintaining of quality of life / living is attained not as much through overdosing of copper antagonists (vitamin C, sulfur, chromium, etc.) but rather through identifying and decisive elimination of excessive stress sources from personal life.