Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

Month: March 2010

Research links Gilbert’s Syndrome & Environmental Illness

This 2008 German research from Muller and Schnakenberg makes a link between Gilbert’s Syndrome and other forms of  hyperbilirubinemia and Environmental Illness.

Gilbert’s syndrome is a relatively common condition occurring in approximately 5% of the population, in which there is a consistently mild elevation in unconjugated bilirubin, “the yellow breakdown product of normal heme catabolism.”  Prior to this, the syndrome was considered completely ‘benign,’ although patients often describe fatigue and abdominal problems to their doctors.  Anecdotal reports have also indicated that a subset of people with Gilbert’s appear to develop Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Hypothyroidism.

Having this genetic tendency does not mean you will ever develop Gilbert’s Syndrome in your lifetime.  Having Gilbert’s Syndrome or the other forms of hyperbilirubinemia does not necessarily mean you will develop chemical sensitivity either, but it does indicate an increased susceptibility to chemical sensitivity and environmental illness.

The government of Germany was the first in the world to officially recognized Multiple Chemical Sensitivity as a physiological illness in its National Health Care System and to have the disease classified in the International Classification of Disease, in the World Health Organization (WHO) under ICD -10-GM Code T78.4, in the sections of chapter 19, (injuries, poisoning and certain consequences of toxic causes).  As such, we will probably continue to see interesting research like the work of Muller and Schnakenberg emerging from German universities in the years to come.

Here’s the abstract:

Müller KE, Schnakenberg E (2008) Die Bedeutung der Glukuronidierung bei
umweltmedizinischen Erkrankungen am Beispiel der UDP-Glukuronosyltransferase
Umwelt Medizin Gesellschaft 21(4): 295-300


Glucuronidation represents an important metabolic pathway enhancing the elimination of many lipophilic xenobiotics and endobiotics to more water-soluble compounds. Several UGT1A enzymes including UGT1A1 are encoded by the UGT1A gene complex on chromosome 2q37. The reduced expression of UGT1A1 is cause of unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia of some types of neonatal jaundice, breastfeeding jaundice, Gilbert syndrome, and Crigler-Najjar syndrome type I and Type II.
In spite of the fact, that UDP-glucuronosyl metabolize a number of lipophilic chemicals and drugs, as phenols, hydrocarbons, coumarin, Anthraquinones and the anticancer drug irinotecan, little attention is paid to their importance for the development of environmental diseases. The prevalence of reduced activity of UDP-glucuronidation was significantly elevated (OR: 8,0; p < 0,0001) among patients of a practices for environmental medicine in southern Germany suffering from environmental diseases.

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10 Favorite Books on Meditation

A list of my favorite books on meditation and on healing body, mind, and spirit.  They apply the universal principles found in Buddhism, and thus are relevant to one and all.

  • The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche
  • The Joy of Living:  Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
  • Joyful Wisdom:  Embracing Change and Finding Freedom, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
  • Carefree Dignity: Discourses on Training in the Nature of Mind, Tsoknyi Rinpoche
  • It’s Up to You: The Practice of Self-Reflection on the Buddhist Path, Dzigar Kongtrul
  • The Healing Power of Mind, Tulku Thondup
  • Boundless Healing, Meditation Exercises to Enlighten the Mind and Heal the Body, Tulku Thondup
  • Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki
  • The Places That Scare You:  A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times, Pema Chodron
  • Full Catastrophe Living:   Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness, Jon Kabat-Zinn by Jon Kabat-Zinn

Unified theory: FMS, CFS/ME, MCS, PTSD, GWS

Martin L. Pall, Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry and Basic Medical Sciences at Washington State University has developed a unified theory to explain the common etiology and mechanism underlying  chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, fibromyalgia, and post-traumatic stress disorder.  Pall tells us that these four multi-system illnesses often occur together in the same individual and share many of the same symptoms.  He says that Gulf War Syndrome is a fifth illness that is a combination of the four.

Pall outlines 17 physiological stressors that are known to initiate one or more of these illnesses, all of which have in common the fact that they can elevate nitric oxide levels or stimulate a process that does so.

He goes on to explain how elevated levels of nitric oxide can cause chronic illness by saying,

“…nitric oxide, acting primarily through its oxidant product peroxynitrite, initiates a biochemical vicious cycle that is responsible, in turn, for the chronic illness.  We have, then, an initial cause of illness (short-term stressor or stressors) acting to start this vicious cycle, with the cycle responsible for causing the chronic phase of illness.  We are now calling the cycle the NO/ONOO- cycle after the structures of nitric oxide (NO) and peroxynitrite (ONOO-) but pronounced no, oh no!”

Five principles underlying the NO/ONOO- cycle as an explanatory model
Pall has identified five principles underlying the NO/ONOO- cycle as an explanatory model,

1.  Short-term stressors that initiate cases of multisystem illnesses act by raising nitric oxide synthesis and consequent levels of nitric oxide and/or other cycle elements.

2.  Initiation is converted into a chronic illness through the action of vicious cycle mechanisms, through which chronic elevation of nitric oxide and peroxynitrite and other cycle elements is produced and maintained.  This principle predicts that the various elements of the NO/ONOO- cycle will be elevated in the chronic phase of illness.

3.    Symptoms and signs of these illnesses are generated by elevated levels of nitric oxide and/or other important consequences of the proposed mechanism, i.e. elevated levels of peroxynitrite or inflammatory cytokines, oxidative stress and elevated NMDA and vanilloid receptor activity.

4.    Because the compounds involved, nitric oxide, superoxide and peroxynitrite have quite limited diffusion distances in biological tissues and because the mechanisms involved in the cycle act at the level of individual cells, the fundamental mechanisms are local. The consequences of this primarily local mechanism show up in the multisystem illnesses through the stunning variations one sees in symptoms and signs from one patient to another.  Different tissue impact of the NO/ONOO- cycle mechanism is predicted to lead to exactly such variations in symptoms and signs.  One also sees evidence for this fourth principle in published brain scan studies where one can directly visualize the variable tissue distribution in the brains of patients suffering from one of these illnesses.

5.    Therapy should focus on down-regulating the NO/ONOO- cycle biochemistry.  In other words, we should be treating the cause, not just the symptoms.

Therapeutic protocol

Fourteen other illnesses may also fall under this new disease paradigm.  Various therapeutic protocols designed to down-regulate NO/ONOO- cycle biochemistry are also presented at The Tenth Paradigm, in addition to a full web page on the NO/ONOO- cycle mechanism relation to FMS, CFS/ME, and MCS.  Although the recommended therapeutic protocols are not a cure, anecdotal evidence indicates improvement for those who are able to tolerate the recommended substances.

While this might all sound like scientific mumbo jumbo, especially when we are struck by brain fog, in my opinion and my observations related to my own illness and its multiple interconnections, Pall’s unified theory is a very promising explanation.

We are extremely fortunate to have a scientist like Pall so dedicated to understanding the causes and treatment options for these disorders.  I find it exciting to look ahead and see that in ten years’ time there will likely be a full understanding of these disorders.

The whole notion that these illnesses are psychogenic in origin is passé, but it can take 10 years time for research to be validated and integrated into clinical medicine.  Our doctors may not be aware of the current research for many years. We can help educate them by offering the link to The Tenth Paradigm’s scientific explanation.  Pall is also author of the book Explaining Unexplained Illnesses.

This and other proposed scientific theories on the etiology of multiple chemical sensitivity in particular are synopsized at the James Madison University MCS website.

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What’s amiss with our children?

The post What’s amiss with out children at Living in a Chemical Soup by guest blogger Alice Shabecoff is a must read for every parent and everyone else who cares about children.

Have you noticed the wide variety of ailments among children these days?  Alice is the co-author with her husband Phillip of the book Poisoned Profits: The Toxic Assault on our Children. She tells us that this generation is different, provides the statistics that illustrate the point, and links these illnesses to living in a newly toxified world.  The numbers she reports are mind-boggling:

Most likely, one of three of the children you know in this generation suffers from a chronic illness. Perhaps it’s cancer, or birth defects, perhaps asthma, or a problem that affects the child’s mind and behavior, such as Downs Syndrome, learning disorders, ADHD or autism. Though one in three may sound exaggerated, unbelievable, the figures are there amidst various government files.

While the statistics are alarming, Alice also offers hope.  She says:

Yet this is not the dispiriting ‘Bad News’ it might seem. It is, actually, a message of hope and optimism. We are fearful only when we are ignorant and powerless. Now that we know what is happening, we can determine not to let it happen further.

Please take a moment to read this important post.  You can even participate in a Pod-cast with Alice at Living in a Chemical Soup next month.

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