Category Archives: phospholipid

Looking up an itch found a synthetic cannabinoid in clinical trial for four diagnoses; Resunab

Cannabinoids are the active phytochemicals found in marijuana which include the euphoric THC and many, many non-euphoric types. A synthetic version of one of them has reached trial stages for autoimmune and skin related diagnoses and for the life shortening genetic condition Cystic fibrosis.

I stumbled across the information while looking up whether marijuana has been found helpful for preventing or treating eczema or the autoimmune skin condition psoriasis, [link] – yes was potential answer and a specific synthetic cannabinoid was mentioned: Ajulemic acid.

A 2007 study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science found that Cannabinoids, having anti-inflammatory properties, work to inhibit the proliferation of skin cells called keratinocytes, which play a role in causing psoriasis. [link]

Its Wikipedia page led me to the company and the clinical trials. The synthetic molecule is being purified and called Resunab by the company Corbus Pharmaceuticals. They have already been approved for Phase Two trials for the drug for four different serious diagnoses: Cystic Fibrosis, Systemic Sclerosis, Dermatomyositis, Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus. The synthetic cannabinoid activates the CB2 receptors and does not cause symptoms of euphoria as does THC, the euphoria promoting chemical found in marijuana. [Read more regarding Resunab and the clinical trials by Corbus Pharmaceuticals]

And why was I looking up eczema and psoriasis and cannabinoids? – the incredible itchiness I’ve been experiencing since only a few days off of my medical marijuana. Some autoimmune symptoms are worse and a previously tiny itchy spot is now raised scabby patches over a large area of my back – arrgh. (It’s talk like a pirate day.) My genetic study and personal life experience has proven to my satisfaction that my body needs an external source of cannabinoids — and a non-euphoric source would be nice but a euphoric source in the meantime is less itchy than having no source – for me at least and maybe for the other psoriasis patients who participated in previous research studies.

Take home point for patients with one of the four diagnoses in Stage 2 trials – contact the company for more information regarding whether they are still looking for patients to participate.

Take home point for me – I’m not 100% sure but my back is itchy, and I think the take home point is that my body needs an external source of cannabinoids and I should just accept that and adapt my life to the current realities of limited legality, limited access, difficulty traveling legally, etc. Marijuana has been found to help promote brain cell growth, prevent cancer, and help reduce inflammatory symptoms associated with autoimmune disease. And previous reading had suggested that I have a genetic problem in my keratinocytes that may be associated with, drum roll,  migraines, TMJ, IBS, and eczema. I have had all of those problems for many years of my life, decades of discomfort, hours of lost time with my children, hours of reduced productivity at work.

But marijuana is a powerful drug and the strains and quality of what is available to medical patients varies greatly. It is safest when the strain has a good balance of euphoric and non-euphoric cannabinoids — both types have medical properties and affect the neurotransmitters in the brain and throughout the nervous system.

Previous (very messy collections of notes) posts on keratinocytes:

  1. Substance P, neuropathic pain, migraines, and the cannabinoid system
  2. An article on Morgellons; a link, and a comment I added re keratinocytes

Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes.


An article on Morgellons; a link, and a comment I added re keratinocytes

Morgellons, chapter from a book, skeptic busting or quack busting, but open-minded regarding the sufferers having a real itch problem rather than a delusional psychiatric disorder as the mainstream medical world is treating the condition. Sufferers have lost jobs due to a condition that has no physical diagnosis:[]

It is horrible to have physical symptoms that are dismissed as “all in your head,” — that is no help if there is pain in your skin or under your skin.

I added a comment, slightly edited here:

Maybe they have overactive keratinocytes that produce Substance P and causes itch and neuropathic pain. Magnesium deficiency can lead to increased production of Substance P.

“Keratinocytes are able to detect itch-associated signals by expression of protease-activated receptor-2,[11] opioid,[12] cannabinoid[13] and histamine H4 receptors.[14] By responding to these signals, keratinocytes can modulate itch in many ways. For example, keratinocytes can release neurotrophins including NGF[15,16] and neurotrophin-4[17] (Fig. 1), lipid mediators[18] or endothelin-1,[19] which can either directly activate itch fibres in the skin or activate mast cells to release pruritogenic mediators. In addition, neuropeptides including substance P have been shown to significantly increase the release and production of NGF of human cultured keratinocytes, indicating a neuroimmune interaction mechanism between sensory nerves and keratinocytes[20] (Fig. 1). Interestingly, keratinocytes can also inhibit itch through the release of endocannabinoids, which bind directly to inhibitory receptors on sensory nerves.”

— so maybe the Morgellons sufferers have a defect or insufficiency in endocannabinoids. Epsom Salt baths for magnesium in case gastrointestinal absorption of magnesium is a problem might help, and supplements with phospholipids like phosphatidylcholine or phosphatidylserine might help if endocannabinoid deficiency is a problem — or chocolate, rosemary and nutmeg are food sources.

Excerpt from: “Pathophysiology of Itch and New Treatments,” Ulrike Raap; Sonja Ständer; Martin Metz, Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011;11(5):420–427. []

/Disclaimer: Opinions are my own and  the information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Ibuprofen may reduce pain and inflammation due to it helping prevent breakdown of cannabinoids within the body

In a recent post I mentioned that the over-the-counter medication ibuprofen might be helpful for people who are trying to withdraw from the prescription medication olanzapine/Zyprexa (TM) because ibuprofen also helps prevent the breakdown of cannabinoids within the body but without affecting mental health symptoms. I didn’t have the citation about ibuprofen handy but have since found it.

The post mentioning ibuprofen was the third in a series about the prescription medication olanzapine/Zyprexa (TM):

  1. “Quit stalling,” is also a handy phrase; or Olanzapine may be dangerous to individuals and others, ,
  2. Zyprexa, $4.8 billion in prescription sales in 2007, and diabetes may also become a side effect, ,
  3. So, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself,” psychiatrists and their prescription pads, an unhealthy microbiome, and the occasional suicide bomber, . This is the post that mentions ibuprofen.

Excerpts from p83 and 82, Editors, Emmanuel S. Onaivi, Takayuki Sugiura, Vincenzo Di Marzo, Endocannabinoids: The Brain and Body’s Marijuana and Beyond, (Taylor & Francis Group, 2006, Florida), pages 82 and 83 are from Chapter 3, by: E.S. Onaivi, H. Ishiguro, P. W. Zhang, Z. Lin, B. E. Akinshola, C. M. Leanoard, S. S. Chirwa, J. Gong, and G. R. Uhl, Chapter 3, Endocannabinoid Receptor Genetics and Marijuana Use.

A note before typing the excerpt about ibuprofen: Fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) is a primary enzyme for breaking down cannabinoids whether they are from internally produced (endogenous) sources or from external foods or other substances such as medical marijuana or the prescription medication for Multiple sclerosis called Sativex (TM).

“In addition to PMSF, numerous compounds have been identified that block FAAH reversibly and irreversibly. Among these is ibuprofen, which is an active inhibitor, but not other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents (NSAID) such as naproxen.” [Onaivi, et al., 2006, p83]

The paragraph doesn’t explain what PMSF is but according to the search engine it is likely to be a serine protease inhibitor used in biochemistry to “prepare cell lysates” — which means to split cells open by causing their membranes to breakdown. “phenylmethane sulfonyl fluoride or phenylmethylsulfonyl fluoride (PMSF),” [] []

Cannabinoids are not only messenger chemicals that can trigger actions within the body, they are also building blocks for strong and flexible membranes. Cannabinoids are released from the membranes as needed  individually rather than being stored in bulk and released in batches the way brain neurotransmitters are stored.

The paragraph actually started on page 82 and explains that FAAH is a membrane-associated serine hydrolase found primarily in brain and liver. And research with rat brain activity has shown that the enzyme is most prevalent in areas that also have many CB1, Cannabinoid Receptors type 1:

“The currently known endocannabinoids, derived from membrane phospholipids that contain arachidonate (Mecholam et al., 1998) are metabolized by FAAH (Deutsch and Chin, 1993), which is a membrane-associated serine hydrolase enriched in brain and liver. There is an overlap of the distribution of FAAH and its activity in the rat brain with the expression of CB1, which has led to the suggestion that FAAH is probably the major enzyme in the brain responsible for inactivation of fatty acid amides (Elphick and Egertova, 2001). This, in the human brain the distribution of CB1R and the FAAH enzyme frequently overlap in many structures.” [Onaivi et al., 2006, p82]

Excerpts from p83 and 82, Editors, Emmanuel S. Onaivi, Takayuki Sugiura, Vincenzo Di Marzo, Endocannabinoids: The Brain and Body’s Marijuana and Beyond, (Taylor & Francis Group, 2006, Florida), pages 82 and 83 are from Chapter 3, by: E.S. Onaivi, H. Ishiguro, P. W. Zhang, Z. Lin, B. E. Akinshola, C. M. Leanoard, S. S. Chirwa, J. Gong, and G. R. Uhl, Chapter 3, Endocannabinoid Receptor Genetics and Marijuana Use.

Now I just have to re-trace my steps to find the information about olanzapine and anandamide because I’m not sure where that citation was from. The anti-psychotic activity of the drug is believed to be due to it affecting dopamine and serotonin levels within the brain. []

My research into how olanzapine worked was a while ago. Wikipedia also just mentions the dopamine and serotonin affects but also includes more information about the Eli Lilly company’s lawsuits. The company settled 8000 lawsuits with $700 million in 2006. They are also stated to have agreed to pay $500 million more to settle 18000 other lawsuits in 2007 but that factoid says [citation needed]. More recently in 2009 the company plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge regarding marketing Zyprexa for off-label use and agreed to pay $1.4 billion. []

I thought the mechanism involved inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down cannabinoids but obviously I need to search a little harder or this series of posts about olanzapine/Zyprexa (TM) will be based on [citation needed]. Yeah, I am saved by the search engine combined with perseverance with assorted search terms:

Cannabinoids may be responsible for weight gain associated with schizophrenia,” February 5, 2015,  “After the treatment, [16 weeks on olanzapine] the researchers observed hyperactivation in the left amygdala (limbic region) in, relative to a control group of healthy subjects. These brain changes were associated with increased levels of glucose, triglycerides and anandamide,” []

A different article about the same research group’s findings:

“Average blood oxygenation level-dependent signals revealed that limbic brain regions in the left amygdala and right insula became hyperactive to appetizing rather than neutral images after olanzapine treatment, and increases in activity were significantly higher than in control participants.”

“These brain changes were associated with increased levels of glucose, triglycerides, and anadamide, the primary cannabinoid neurotransmitter, binding to the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptor.”

— from the article by Liam Davenport on, “Antipsychotic-Related Weight Gain Explained?,” February 12, 2015, []

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

And what do osmomechanical stress, changes of temperature, chili powder, curry powder, ginger, Benicar, hormone D, steroids, and cannabinoids have in common?

// 7/1/16 addition: This post is for people suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) which is not well understood, easy to diagnose or treat, and can be life threatening when more severe symptoms continue long term. The condition can continue for years or be a life long issue that flairs up at times and is less severe at other times.

Dietary tips can be helpful but why some foods seem to trigger symptoms while others don’s has not been well understood either. The common factor underlying why some foods seem to be triggers for many people may be the TRP channels that are found in cells throughout the intestines and actually in most cells of most life forms. //

So what do osmo-mechanical stress, changes of temperature, chili powder, curry powder, ginger, Benicar, hormone D, steroids, and cannabinoids all have in common?

They all may be able to overstimulate Transient Receptor Potential channels (TRP channels) within the gastrointestinal system and cause severe diarrhea in susceptible individuals.

In many cases, the activation mechanism of TRP channels is unclear (Figure 1), but known activators include specific agonists such as mustard oil (TRPA1) and capsaicin (TRPV1), an increase in intracellular Ca2+ (TRPM4, 5), temperature (heat: TRPV1, 2, 3, 4, TRPM4, 5; cold: TRPM8, TRPA1), mechanical or osmotic stress (TRPV4, TRPCs?) and phospholipase C (PLC) activation. TRP channel activity can be further modulated by intracellular phosphatidylinositol phosphates, such as PI(4,5)P2 and membrane potential, but also by inflammatory mediators, cannabinoids and steroids (Nilius, 2007; Rohacs, 2007; Nilius and Voets, 2008).” []

The TRP channels are a large group found in many species of life from yeast, to worms, fish and mammels. The agonists/activating chemicals for many of the types of TRP channels have not all been identified as of yet.

One type of TRP channels were formerly called Vanilloid Receptors, and are now called TRPV channels. Vanilloid Receptors were known to be activated by capsaicin found in hot peppers and chili powder. And more recent or less well known research has also found that they can be activated by cannabinoids and steroids, (see the link from the excerpt above), and osmomechanical stress.

Osmo-mechanical stress might be a precursor to edema, excess fluid in the extracellular space; if an organ or cell over fills with fluid it would mechanically be adding physical pressure to the organ or cell — and instead of popping like an overfull water balloon the TRP channels open in response to the physical pressure and let the excess fluid leak out into the extracellular space or into the area surrounding the heart for example. [] Fibrotic heart disease would be adding mechanical stretching stress within the heart. TRP channels are being studied for possible use in preventing fibrotic heart disease. From that research article, we are told that changes in temperature may also activate them:

The activation mechanisms of TRP channel are highly diversified. Some TRP channels appear to be constitutively active, whereas others are activated by Gq-linked receptor activation, oxidative stress, changes of temperature, or an elevation of intracellular Ca2+ [126128]. All the TRP channels appear to be regulated by PIP2 [134137] .” []

  • PIP2 = phosphoinositides = phosphatidylinositol phosphates (PIPs) = phosphorylated deriviatives of phosphatidylinositol (PI) []
  • PIP2 = phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate and PI, and phospholipase C (PLC) from the first excerptare involved in cannabinoid metabolism within plasma membranes: [page 9 Kendall et. al., Behavioral Neurobiology of the Endocannabinoid System (Springer, 2009, New York)]

Steroids and hormone D function similarly. And Benicar and curcumin can function similarly to hormone D. And curcumin is a medically active extract from turmeric, a powdered spice that is a main ingredient in curry powder. Turmeric is made from the root of a plant that is biologically very similar to ginger,  which is also a root that is used as a dried spice or  may be used as a chopped vegetable in stir-fry dishes and other foods. Ginger has over 400 active phytochemicals, and one of them might be acting similarly to the curcumin — but that is speculation based on the similarity of symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome that both ginger and curry powder stimulate.

Because — what else do osmomechanical stress, changes of temperature, chili powder, curry powder, ginger, Benicar, hormone D, steroids, and cannabinoids all have in common? — They all may irritate Irritable Bowel Syndrome, (IBS), for some people, along with emotional stress and other things like eating fructose in much quantity (example: from a piece of fruit or fruit juice) or gassy vegetables like cabbage and cruciferous vegetables and beans (gas would be adding mechanical pressure to those TRP channels which might be an over-active culprit in IBS patients).

  • The book, “Tell Me What to Eat If I Have Irritable Bowel Syndrome; Nutrition You Can Live With; Including Dozens of Healthful Mouth-Watering Recipes,” by Elaine Mager, M.P.H., R.D., includes dietary advice and other information about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). (Warning – most of the recipes contain gluten
  • Re corticosteroids and hormone D:

Other diseases that are not well understood but which involve edema and excess fluid entering the area between cells include Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Congestive Heart Failure (CHF).

So a lack of adequate potassium or magnesium might be involved in allowing too much calcium to enter the interior of cells where it can act as a trigger to increase the flow across the TRP channels even more.

A summary:

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids aren’t just fats, they can activate cell receptors

Me 5:41am:

I didn’t know the history of omega 3 recommendations. Thanks for sharing.  The balance of omega 3 to omega 6 may be part of the issue – not just take more of one thing (omega 3 fatty acids) but also have less of the other thing (omega 6 fatty acids).

From (2002):

“Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today’s Western diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, whereas increased levels of omega-3 PUFA (a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio) exert supressive effects. In the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, a ratio of 4/1 was associated with a 70% decrease in total mortality. A ratio of 2.5/1 reduced rectal cell proliferation in patients with colorectal cancer, whereas a ratio of 4/1 with the same amount of omega-3 PUFA had no effect. The lower omega-6/omega-3 ratio in women with breast cancer was associated with decreased risk. A ratio of 2-3/1 suppressed inflammation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and a ratio of 5/1 had a beneficial effect on patients with asthma, whereas a ratio of 10/1 had adverse consequences. These studies indicate that the optimal ratio may vary with the disease under consideration. This is consistent with the fact that chronic diseases are multigenic and multifactorial”

 A response, 10:41am:
But is omega-6 itself a problem, or is it simply an measurable indicator that an individual has a high-fat diet?    Dietary science seems to suffer from ‘observability bias’; that is, being unable to observe actual chemical process in the body from consumption through mortality, researchers are forced to wring as much causality (and as many conclusions) as possible from a few metrics, without experimental confirmation of the actual biochemistry.
Me 1:42pm:

Some of the omega-3 fatty acids can activate some cell receptors that have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. “Stimulation of GPR120 by DHA has been shown to inhibit both the TLR2/3/4 and TNF-a proinflammatory cascades.”  Any chemical that can act as a signaling device may also have risks if too much is consumed.  (TNF-a = Tumor Necrosis Factor – alpha – an important signal to tell white blood cells to kill infected or damaged cells.)

I’m still reading re the omega 6 question.

The next paragraph reviews their role – fatty acids are building blocks of the membranes. Inflammatory signals can cause cell membrane breakdown which releases the omega 6 fatty acid ALA and leads to production of eicosanoids – which are also powerful messenger chemicals.

And part of the reason research is limited may be because the ALA and conversion to eicosanoids all has to do with endogenous cannabinoid system — and with reefer madness and the paper industry and the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 causing decreased availability and increased illegality of marijuana.  Interestingly the physicians at the time didn’t like the law:

“The American Medical Association (AMA) opposed the act because the tax was imposed on physicians prescribing cannabis, retail pharmacists selling cannabis, and medical cannabis cultivation and manufacturing; instead of enacting the Marijuana Tax Act the AMA proposed cannabis be added to the Harrison Narcotics Tax Act.[34]”

Me 1:59pm:
The ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids is important because they compete with each other for use as building blocks of the membranes. So too much of one or the other might leave the membranes weaker or less flexible or might be causing more of one type of signaling messenger chemical to be produced at the expense of other types of signalling chemicals. btw that article doesn’t mention the endogenous cannabinoid link – I could give you links for that if you’re interested.
 Response 2:12pm:
I fear you’ve lost me with the cannabis stuff…
Me  2:21pm:
The ALA omega 6 fatty acid, arachidonic acid, is actually part of two endogenous cannabinoids:  2-arachidonoylglycerol ether (noladin ether), N-arachidonoyl dopamine (NADA).
The endogenous cannabinoids are stored in the membranes and can be released by different inflammatory signals which can include having elevated intracellular levels of calcium.  Magnesium is an electrically active ion found in higher concentration within the cell while calcium is the electrically active ion found in higher concentration in blood plasma. After release the parts of the endogenous cannabinoid break apart so the arachidonic acid becomes a free fatty acid again.Endogenous cannabinoids are phospholipids which is chemically very special. They have a fatty acid end that likes to dissolve in oil and a phospho- end which likes to dissolve in water which makes them very useful for building membranes within a watery and oily environment.This is a continuing ed course and has lots of info:

Response 2:25pm:
Are we still talking about people not living longer when they take Omega-3 supplements,
Me 2:34pm:

Cannabis is not a bad plant or substance. Cannabinoids are in every cell of our body. They are in breastmilk. Babies don’t grow well and have reduced appetites when the mother is lacking endogenous cannabinoids. They are in pine trees,, nutmeg, rosemary, buckwheat, chocolate and in most life forms except insects. So hemp rope and paper was cheap in the 1930s and a paper industry executive managed to stigmatize cannabis as something that only those jazz musicians who steal your wife would use. (paraphrased)

Plastic nylon rope was also a new invention of the time – hemp and cannabis eventually were made illegal. But you can’t legislate physiology to just be something that it is not –  omega 6 fatty acids are used in the internal production (endogenous) of cannabinoids. People who are healthy, well nourished and without genetic defects in the endogenous cannabinoid system can make the chemicals themselves but the building blocks are becoming more rare in our food supply as the fertility of soil is depleted.

 Me 2:37pm:
The tl:dr = omega 6 fatty acids are part of cannabis and cannabinoids so limiting research in the cannabinoid system is also limiting research into the function and ideal ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids.
Me 2:47pm:
And back to the article you linked to – the ideal ratio of omega 6/omega 3  to consume in the diet each day must be different for the Inuit than for other populations and is also likely a little different for different types of diseases based on one of the links I quoted.
 Me 2:49pm:
So why not call it buckwheat stuff or pine tree stuff or sea squirt stuff — or even better — human stuff?
Response 3:03pm:
I’m not sure I’m following.  Are you saying that because fish oil is useless, marijuana is useless?
Me 3:09pm:
(but not in response to  the previous response – I had missed seeing it – this was just following up from my series of short comments following the last response. – My yes was not to that response but was saying yes to the last response – this all must have been confusing in many ways .):
Yes, all of that was talking about why people might not live longer if they take large quantities of omega 3 fatty acids when they are genetically not related to the Inuit.  Omega 3 and omega 6 can both be powerful signaling chemicals not just dietary fats. Limiting research in the endogenous cannabinoid system limited research throughout the body and throughout all areas of physiology because the cannabinoid receptors, cannabinoids, and eicosanoids do so many things for us – and for mosquitoes too.
Me 3:21pm:

From an evolutionary perspective – most native diets wouldn’t have supplied much omega 3 or omega 6. The Inuit diet would have had a lot of omega 3 from the fish and little omega 6. Other native diets wouldn’t have had a lot of omega 6 either because it is concentrated in our modern vegetable oils,.  A native diet would get it from eating sunflower seeds but that would take a lot of growing, harvesting, and shelling before you could consume a medicinal quantity of omega 6 from sunflower kernels.

A take home point might be to continue consuming some omega 3 and some omega 6 without overdoing either one — and more research is needed  😉

Response 3:29pm:
 I dunno…the way I’m reading it is, dietary researchers are biased towards finding dietary reasons for things that may have nothing to do with diet, and then dietary marketers take that misunderstanding and spin it into sales of the supplement du jour.
    I expect we’ll have a legalization of marijuana soon, and a decade or so of cannabis as miracle drug, and then someone will notice that it really makes no difference, and we’ll move on to mayfly extract or some such thing.
Me 4:20pm:

I agree with you  that many supplement sales companies will push whatever supplement they can in whatever way they can — but so do pharmaceutical companies and our bodies actually are made up of cannabinoids, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, and we are not made up of patent pharmaceuticals.

— Everything has to do with diet because we are actually made out of what we eat, drink, and breathe. Babies don’t eat or grow well and fail to thrive when their mother’s milk is deficient in cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are always going to make a difference in health because they make up our cell walls and our membranes and act as messenger chemicals. Non-euphoric strains have been developed and are being used with elderly patients in nursing homes in Israel.

– Genetic defects or malnutrition or older age and ill health may all limit our bodies ability to make the cannabinoids internally and so those individuals would need to consume an external source everyday for the rest of their lives in order to supply their bodies with the essential membrane building blocks. Research suggests we need about 600 mg per day which would be roughly equivalent to 1/8 ounce per day (which is a lot to consume per day and is expensive).

No one dietary supplement or extract is likely to be a cure-all by itself because the nutrients usually work together as teams. Research science got too thrilled by magic bullet medicines and seems to think nutrients also act by themselves — possibly because a few nutrients were discovered due to population wide nutrient deficiencies. – scurvy, pellegra, beri beri, and rickets.

It’s frustrating to me that physiology research and health care got derailed by the paper and rope industries.

Cannabinoids are not a fad supplement, They are always going to be essential for the health of humans, and for most of the rest of the life forms on our planet.

Disclosure: I am a dietitian and medical marijuana patient and have had chronic health issues since infancy (bottle-fed) which I believe may be related to genetic defects in my cannabinoid receptor system. An external source helps reduce my autoimmune thyroid disease symptoms and reduces symptoms of numbness in my fingers and toes. The chronic nerve degeneration disease ALS has a 19% comorbidity rate with the type of autoimmune disease I have – if medical marijuana can help prevent my becoming paralyzed than that seems like a good thing to me.

Sorry for the lengthy comments – the negative view of cannabis as only an addiction is so frustrating too me. Is starving infants really better than providing the body with all of the essential building blocks that it needs? If cannabinoids are naturally found in breast milk than we need to be adding them to infant formula and to the formula used for tube feeding paralyzed adults and others who can’t consume solid foods.

You can look forward to the mayfly extract,  😉 I’ll stick with rosemary, buckwheat and other natural sources of cannabinoids.

Response 4:35pm:
  I’m not sure that individual practitioners in the dietary field are necessarily better than big drug companies; though; both seem to monetize the assumption that evolution has left the human body unable to meet its own dietary needs.


Me 4:58pm:
The Linus Pauling Institute has very thorough information about nutrient needs and interactions and food sources for the nutrients. +Stephen L

or the DASH diet has been found effective and is fairly easy to follow.

If an individual dietary practitioner is pushing only supplements on you without mentioning any foods than find a different dietary practitioner would be my recommendation for you. Good ones would know that fiber and other phytochemicals in whole foods are also very beneficial and wouldn’t be available in a pill. And the supplemental fiber that is commonly used isn’t as good for the body as the many varieties that are found in produce naturally.

Funding is the problem – research is expensive and nutrients can’t be patented and sold at a huge profit.

Me 6:14pm:

I was looking through the extremely long  comments and saw that I missed one of your comments – no I was not saying that because omega 3 fatty acids haven’t proven to prevent heart attacks as hoped that cannabis is also going to be useless – sorry my responses must have been confusing because they had nothing to do with that comment – I only just saw it. I was saying that the two chemicals are related/work together so limiting research in one area, cannabinoids, may have limited research advances being made with the other, omega 3/omega 6 fatty acids and the importance of having them in balance in moderate amounts.

— vegetable oil = fried food, chips, etc – things we tend to eat to much of. So salmon or sardines a couple times per week is still probably healthy amount of omega 3 and eating moderate amounts of fried foods and chips would help keep omega 6 intake more in balance with the omega 3.

The comments are from this post.
Eicosanoids were also a Fringe Topic: Eicosanoids are made from eCBs from the membrane
/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Membrane Building Foods

I didn’t finish this list of foods rich in phospholipids, so I’m starting again at the top of the food chain with human milk. It contains more phospholipids than cow milk and has almost as much of the endogenous cannabinoid (eCB) precursor PE as it has PC, more commonly known as lecithin.
PC – Phosphatidylcholine     PE – Phosphatidylethanolamine – part of Anandamide (AEA) an eCB
PS – Phosphatidylserine       PI – Phosphatidylinositol

Total Lipids (g/100 g)
Total Phos Lipids  (mg/100gr)
Human Milk
Data NA
Data NA
Data NA
Whole milk
Tot. L.
 Tot. Ph L.

Organ and muscle and other tissues that have been tested across animal species are relatively similar in content. Note the brain is actually highest in the Phosphatidylethanolamine (PE -1948):

Beef Brain
Pork Organ:

The tables of data are not really meant to be a menu of food ideas itself. It is a dietitian type tool for more easily comparing the types of foods. There are more tables farther down the page. Yesterday’s list was a partial list of the plant foods and today’s focus starts with animal products. Organs and plant parts that are more membrane rich also deliver those building blocks in the food or concentrated supplement (bovine thyroid or adrenal extracts are available on the supplement market and may be helpful building blocks or may be contaminated byproducts full of contaminants – check the company and the source . Organ meats are concentrated in nutrients and toxins because they are also part of the detoxification process for the body (liver and kidney and spleen are detoxifiers, gizzard is a bird/reptile stomach.)

From (Weihrauch et al, 1983 The Phospholipid Content of Food) Excerpt [1]:

Data on organ meats are limited. Rouser et al. (29) determined the phospholipid distribution in human, bovine, mouse and frog liver, kidney and spleen. They reported among vertebrates little or no species variability of the phospholipid class distribution of organs and most subcellular particulates. The apparent connection between phospholipid function and phospholipid content and distribution in similar foods and tissues seems to be supported by the similarity of the respective data for the various milks, the eggs from various avian species, the livers of pork, chicken and turkey, the various beef muscles, the white (breast) and dark (thigh) meats of poultry, and the hearts and gizzards of poultry. Among animal tissues, beef brain contains the highest amount of phospholipids.”
*** We are what we eat. Looking at the average content of a type of organ can demonstrate the critical need that nutrient might play in a diseased condition of that organ. The beef brain is very rich in phospholipids and the endogenous cannabinoid building block, PE, and sphingomyelin (SPH) which suggests to me that myelin sheath problems in multiple sclerosis may have to do with lack of nutrients. Chronic degenerative disease happens slowly – breaking down is the same thing as not rebuilding as needed. Got to put the shingles back on after a wind storm or water leaks in and makes a worse mess.

Prevention of further damage and repair of damage might be possible with an increase in phospholipid foods. Bonus side effects would include pain killing, immune system strength, brain cell growth and prevention of stroke damage – and anticancer benefits to boot.

Excerpt [1]:

“Eggs, organ meats lean meats, fish, shellfish, cereal grains and oilseeds are good sources of phospholipids, especially the choline phospholipids. Leafy vegetables, fruits and tubers contain very low amounts of phospholipids.  (***yesterday’s list had some herbal and food sources not listed on the following charts)

More research is needed on the phospholipids in animal products such as beef, pork, lamb and fish. The effect of breed, age, sex, season and feeding habits need to be examined. More research is also needed on nuts, oilseeds, fruits and vegetables. Cultivar, geographical location and growing season may be some variables that should be examined.”

***I think we are still waiting. This article is fairly heavily cited by other authors and cost $34.95  – research isn’t cheap either.As a breast feeding educator and with five years personal experience, I am very comfortable in reporting that there is and is supposed to be wide variation in the lipid content in human milk – extensively researched. Fat content and type is supposed to vary with age and stage of the infant – premature infant milk is richest in fats, then newborn milk, and weanling milk has the lowest fat content. The types of essential fats in the mother’s diet will largely be what shows up in the milk for the baby. Malnourished women were found to have less of the endogenous cannabinoid content which can reduce the infant’s suckling and growth rates. Gently washing and massaging the infant may replicate the grooming/licking that stimulates the infant’s own production of eCBs. {the Endo textbook, Onaivi, et al, 2006}

A quote from a chapter; “Targeting the Cannabinoid System to Produce Analgesia” (Sager et al, 2009):

“In conclusion, the analgesic effects of cannabinoid-based medicines acting at CB1 receptors are well described, but limited by adverse side-effect profiles. The identification of alternative cannabinoid entities, such as the CB2 receptor and enzymes engaged in the catabolism of eCBs, offers further opportunity for the development of novel cannabinoid based analgesics with an improved side effect profile.” [3]

Let me give you a subtext interpretation – blocking CB1 didn’t work so let’s try to mess around with the CB2 system instead.

Rimonabant, a CB1 inhibitor, was recently ramping up for a big release when suicides and depression became a significant side effect. It is still for sale in countries besides the US. Rimonabant blocks – stops – deactivates the CB1 receptors throughout the body. Every cell has some, the brain is just the richest source. So the adverse side effect that was most debilitating was the suicides not euphoria from inhaling a little too much.

The CB1 receptors help control all four main brain neurotransmitters. So this patentable magic bullet was designed to promote weight loss because it was noticed that mice whose CB1 receptors were blocked got skinny. Yes, appetite can be decreased with marijuana as well as increased depending on whether a lot or a little of the CBs and which CBs interact with the receptors. The psychoactive CB that we all hear about the dangers of (mythic dangers largely) is delta-9 THC and it is the only euphoric/psychoactive one. The others are medicinal too. If pain killing without “adverse side effects” was the primary goal then why wouldn’t we simply extract or synthesize the pain killing CBDs that aren’t psychoactive and give them to patients? – $$$$$

We can’t simply extract plant parts without being able to charge extra for the little chemical tags that make each new rendition of a drug “unique” and ownable and profitable. It is too bad that health has become a commodity (dwindling).

We already know how to target the cannabinoid system to produce analgesia (pain killing) – just eat it or heat it. And now we know a few more foods to eat (besides special brownies).

The research thrust in science seems to be to find patentable magic bullet medications that go to a target and do one wonder action – but the body doesn’t really work that way. Also turns out that it would be hard to build a myelin sheath for a nerve cell with an aspirin or an opioid medication. Ibuprofen might help though, one of the ways it helps kill pain is to reduce breakdown of endogenous cannabinoids (now I know why it was always my favorite painkiller). This article isn’t where I read that – (Onaivi et al, 2006), however the (Sagar et al) article begins with the point that slowing the breakdown of eCBs also produces analgesic effects and inhibiting enzymes that metabolize them is a possible drug approach being considered.

I am instead considering buckwheat noodles and Shitake mushroom Tempura from a local Japanese take out restaurant or making corn bread and shredded barbecue turkey (a great way to use up the dark meat – unfortunately the turkey is still frozen).

In my post, Aftermath’s Fruit and Nut Course, I retold the vitamin D story instead of getting straight to the point that if for any reason the intracellular levels of calcium or glutamates increases too high then the membrane areas rich in endogenous cannabinoids will release them in order to be ready for use as messengers or as building blocks. We don’t need to know why the intracellular level of calcium or glutamates got elevated – the research exists that calcium or glutamates  are themselves powerful messengers within the cell fluid – they don’t belong there under normal conditions. Usually the membrane carefully controls the entry of calcium and free amino acids – large molecule compared to a single ion of calcium. The entry is controlled by channel shaped proteins in the membrane. The channels are normally powered by magnesium and controlled by eCBs and other messenger chemicals. What isn’t normal to the body are calcium channel blocker drugs. I personally prefer to think of food as maintenance medicine and magnesium as nature’s number one calcium channel blocker.

Egg yolks (PC source) and saturated fats got a bad reputation (usually also good source of arachidonic acid) and so did hemp/marijuana. Moderation is the key and pharmaceutical magic bullets aren’t moderate in price or side effect. Healthy foods come bundled with healthy side effects, help yourself to seconds.

However caution with seconds on liver and organ meats. They could deliver too much active vitamin A and D. Once a month serving of liver can deliver a boost of enzyme building blocks as well as the phospholipids. Any meat is best to think of as 1/4 of the plate, about the size of a deck of playing cards or 3-4 oz like a small chicken breast. Add some root vegetables (1/2-1 cup) and a green vegetable (1-2 cups) and a 1/2 cup of grain with a dash of good fats in the form of a few tablespoons of nuts or seeds or a tsp of oil. A fruit serving makes a good snack for later and water or herbal tea is always a good beverage for meals – easy on the digestive system.

Organic or home grown/small farm grown may have more nutrient diversity because the soil is likely to have more variety and higher amounts of trace minerals. A plant species may have special abilities to absorb a nutrient better than other plants but if the nutrient isn’t in the soil to gather then the food is going to be less nutritious. If our animals are fed those less nutritious plant foods then the animal is going to also have less nutrient building blocks. Both the plant and animal kingdoms are having mass die-offs due to infection. We are losing our trees to disease as well as paper towels.

Mitigation of construction zones is similar to chronic degeneration – the erosion control on the hillside prevents the sand from washing away to dirty the water below and leave the underlying roots unprotected. Someone had to walk miles and miles with supplies and shovels and put in that silt fence to shore up the exposed top soil. Without membranes to protect our underlying roots, all our nutrients can wash away, messing up our kidneys and leaving us open to invasive species eager to rush in and live off the exposed nutrients.

Enjoy some eggs  and potatoes again – it’s the bacon or sausage that’s really a treat food – as in don’t treat yourself that way too often – you don’t deserve the salt and preservatives. A sprinkle of sunflower seeds might be good for a little crunch and salt or toasted sesame seeds with seaweed flakes is a Japanese condiment loaded with nutrients (seemed slightly fishy in flavor to me, I couldn’t quite get used to it).

*** These data tables are a reference – a starting point.  I will be adding menu ideas and recipes using foods chosen for phospholipid content but also magnesium, B vitamins and other trace nutrients and I will be adding a list of foods that are rich in the special starches the sugars that aren’t glucose or fructose (mannose, fucose, glucosamine, xylose or some examples).

Eggs, wh
Total Ph L
Egg, chicken
Total Phos. Lip.
Tot. L. (g/100 g food)
Tot. Ph L
Total Lipids (g/100 g food)
Total Phos.lip.
Beef muscle, L. dorsi
PS + PA + CL
Tot. L.
Tot. PhL
Calf, L. dorsi
Pork, L. dorsi
57  PS/PI
Rabbit Skeletal muscle
122   PE +PS
Tot. L
Tot. Ph.L.
Crab, marine
56 PI
Eel, slt.w
Eel, fresh water
Herring, wh musc.
Herring, dark mus
Mackerel, wh musc
Mackerel, dark mus. Male fish
Mackerel, dark mus. Female
Squid, muscle
Trout, rainbow
2.1 fillet
Tuna, dorsal muscle
Tuna, Ventral muscle
Tuna, dark mus.
Tot. L
Tot. Ph.L.
Tot. L
Tot. Ph.L.
Barley, wh gr
Corn, wh comm. Hybrid
Corn Germ, amylomaize
Corn Starch amylomaize
Oats, dehulled
294 +LPE, +LPS
Rice, Brwn
Rice, Bran
Rye, wh gr flour
Rye germ
Triticale, wh gr flour
Wheat, wh gr, hard
56 +PG
Wheat starch

1. Weihrauch et al, 1983 The Phospholipid Content of Foods (JAOCS, vol 60, no. 12 (December 1983)

2. James Duke – for the herbal plants
Ethnobotanical and Phytochemical Database of medicinal plants and chemical activities

3. Devi Rani Sagar, Maulik Jhaveri, and Victoria Chapman, Targeting the Cannabinoid System to Produce Analgesia, from D. Kendall and S. Alexander 9eds.), Behavioral Neaurobiology of the Endocannabinoid System. Current Topics in Behavioral Neurosciences 1, DOI: 10.1007/978-3-540-88955-7_11, @ Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2009 (page 283)

4. Onaivi, E. S., Sugiura, T., Di Marzo, V., (eds)  Endocannabinoids; The Brain and Body’s Marijuana and Beyond ISBN 0-415-30008-8 (CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group, 2006)

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Feed your membranes

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Some membrane building foods with links to Amazon but you can look for similar items at your local market.Today’s list is of membrane building foods that are rich in phospholipids which make strong membranes that are also smart at their job of regulating what goes in or is allowed out of the cell. Some of the phospholipids can be assembled into endogenous cannabinoids and others are important for other types of membrane function. The foods were selected from searches for the individual phospholipids within Dr. Duke’s Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases created by Dr. James Duke of The Green Pharmacy []. (Update: That database is no longer available but the website still has other information.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~Beans – all of them, with cocoa bean at the top of the list (chocolate hold the sugar and milk/cream)

bean sprouts have an increased amount so soy bean and mung bean sprouts are rich sources

Nuts – not well documented on the individual basis but peanuts are very good and pine nuts are excellant so I don’t think I would be going out on a limb to say the group has got to be very good compared to apple or orange juice content (pine nut 1000 , orange juice 10, peanut 620, sunflower seed, 1092 mg/100 g food total phosholipid content)

Seeds   (note the fruits and vegetable included – the phospholipid content is in the seed)

Adlay Millet     Alfalfa seed     Cardamom (used as a spice)     Hemp     Sunflower      Flax

Cucumber Seed     Pomegranite seed      Grape seed

Grains (must be whole grain products that include the bran and germ, the richest sources – wheat has some too but more of the choline variety which isn’t directly part of the endogenous cannabinoids so wasn’t on my initial search term results. Besides we don’t really need help eating more wheat products, I would like to help give a few ideas for substitutes.):

Buckwheat      Corn     Oats      Rice      Rye     Triticale

(probably regular millet, amaranth and quinoa too but I haven’t done an individual search yet)


Apple     Fig     Grapefruit *    Lemon *     Orange *   *pulpy juice is a source


Carrot     Cassava, leaf     Cucumber seed      Garlic, bulb     Green Bell Pepper     Green pea

Potato     Sweet Potato    Spinach     Shitake mushroom      Kelp,  Bladderwrack      Purslane

Musk okra

Angelica/Dong quai (an herbal supplement to me maybe it is a vegetable to some people),
Women’s blend tea bags with 40 mg Dong quai

Stinging Nettle plant on Amazon: [Amazon] and root  (also available as an herbal supplement)

Membranes do control life or death – we crawled out of the sea or womb at some point in our lives and had to take that first dry cold breath of air.

Feeding your membranes may be even smarter than I thought.

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./


Autistic kids wash up happier in an Epsom salt bath

***What should autistic kids eat? For some of them weight gain is a problem and the short term answer is anything they are willing to swallow. With time and patience more variety may be accepted but the children may be avoiding some foods because they make them feel worse. forcing a “balanced diet” from all food groups may not be in their best interests. Food sensitivity testing can identify more types of sensitivities that traditional allergy tests miss.The following article provides physiologic guidance towards why some foods may be preferred or despised. Allergens can have an addictive effect due to an opioid like reaction. We can crave what is good for us but we can also crave what is bad for us – it can be exciting physiologically speaking. Some of the chemicals that build up can have neurotransmitter activity in the brain – literally over stimulating the brain cells. Can bananas and tomatoes kill brain cells? Not in everybody but maybe in autistic bodies overloaded with toxins.

Excerpts from: Autism, an extreme challenge to integrative medicine. Part II: medical management. 
by Parris M. Kidd

Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) can benefit the autistic child through a novel route of delivery. A parent reported her child’s oppositional behavior disappeared overnight after a bath in Epsom salts. (67) Other parents who used the treatment soon reported improvements in speech, mood, cooperation, and motor development.
*** Over soaking in an Epsom salt/magnesium sulfate salt bath can lead to too much absorption of magnesium and produce temporary side effects of a fluttery/weak heart and possibly diarrhea. A soak for 20 minutes to 40 minutes at the very most seems an effective time for me. I use about 1-2 cups of the Epsom salt to a full bath.

I have also been adding a little vitamin C powder or spoon of cooking vinegar to balance the pH. The Epsom salt gives about an 8 pH and a 7 is more skin and hair friendly. I use pH strips to check the acidity after adding a little vitamin C powder or cooking vinegar (apple cider vinegar leaves me smelling like apple pickles). Kids and all of us love a hot bath, however warmish is better for the body than too hot. Pruney, wrinkly finger tips can be a easy sign for children to see for themselves – the body absorbed as much extra fluid as it can hold and now the skin is all ripply – cool and cold, water and cool, wrinkly fingers means its past time to get out of the tub.    [17,18: links about Epsom salt baths]

Vitamin B6 and Magnesium (excerpt con’t, by Parris M. Kidd)
Vitamin B6, in its active form of pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P5P), is an essential cofactor for a majority of metabolic pathways of neurotransmitters, including serotonin, gamma-amino-butyric acid (GABA), dopamine, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Magnesium is an essential macronfineral required for a wide range of enzyme-catalyzed metabolic pathways. Rimland recently reviewed 18 autism studies conducted with vitamin B6, especially in combination with magnesium, (22) and concluded that all provided positive results with no significant adverse effects. While no cures of autism by vitamin B6 are known, many cases of remarkable improvement have been documented.

A 1988 paper by Rimland provided an in-depth review of the history of vitamin B6 for autism. (29) In 1966, Heeley and Roberts reported vitamin B6 corrected abnormal tryptophan metabolism in 11 of 19 autistic children. (30) In 1968, Bonisch (cited in Rimland, 1988 (29)) reported vitamin B6 (100-600 mg per day) improved behavior in 12 of 16 autistic children. According to Rimland, three of Bonisch’s subjects spoke for the first time while participating in this open trial.

After conducting an exploratory, non-controlled study in the early 1970s, (31) in 1978 Rimland published the findings from a small double-blind trial that involved 15 children with autistic symptoms. (32) In this trial only half the children involved qualified as ASD by current criteria. (32) In this crossover trial, each child received vitamin B6 at a dose of 2.5-25.1 mg/kg body weight/day (75-800 mg per day) or a placebo. Following a complex, five-phase protocol, each child continued taking whatever vitamins, minerals, or drugs they had been receiving prior to the study and the duration of B6 dosing was individualized. Rimland stated they also received “several hundred” mg per day of magnesium and a B-complex vitamin to guard against overdosing with B6. (22) Statistically significant benefits emerged from this trial, including better eye contact, less self-stimulatory behavior, more interest in surroundings, fewer tantrums, and better speech. (32) Rimland began to suspect for many children autistic symptomatology might be a type of vitamin B6 dependency syndrome. (29)

Taken together, the studies seem to establish that vitamin B6 can benefit as much as half of children and adults with autism, and that its efficacy and safety are improved when combined with magnesium. None of these studies reported any significant adverse effects, even though the vitamin B6 doses ranged as high as 1,000 mg per day. Rimland emphasized that thousands of autistic people have been taking large daily doses of vitamin B6 (as much as 1,000 mg) for decades without experiencing problems. One publication reported on seven cases of peripheral neuropathy from daily intakes of more than 2,000 mg vitamin B6. (37) These patients were not taking magnesium or other B vitamins, as usually recommended when taking large vitamin B6 doses; nor were they taking the active form–P5P–that has not been associated with toxicity. In a later study, doses of 30 mg/day of B6 as pyridoxine hydrochloride (equivalent to as much as 2,100 mg for a 70 kg adult) were administered with 10 mg/kg/day of magnesium lactate to 11 autistic children for eight weeks; behavior significantly improved and no adverse effects were evident. (38) The latest ARI parent ratings in 2002 (24) reported a B:W ratio for vitamin B6 used alone of 4.1:1, for magnesium alone 5.2:1, and for the combination of vitamin B6 plus magnesium, 11:1.

Cases of hereditary impairment of pyridoxine metabolism have been described, sometimes manifesting as seizure disorder and autism symptomatology. (39) Conversion of vitamin B6 to its active form P5P by the liver can be compromised in some autistic children. For these cases P5P supplementation may work more effectively, although hyperactivity is a possible adverse effect. (40) An intake threshold for achieving benefit may be approximately 200 mg vitamin B6 (as pyridoxine) and 100 mg magnesium per day for the 70 kg individual. (41) In any case, the cumulative results from the double-blind trials and numerous other studies and case history reports are consistent with impressive efficacy of the combination of vitamin B6 and magnesium for autism, superior to either nutrient alone. (38,42-44)

Vitamin C
Vitamin C has a reputation for its involvement in a plethora of metabolic, antioxidant, and bio-synthetic pathways, and as a cofactor for certain enzymes necessary for neurotransmitter synthesis. In a double-blind trial for 30 weeks, vitamin C (8 g/70 kg body weight/day) improved total symptom severity and sensory motor scores. (50) Its current parent B:W ratio is an excellent 16:1, from 1,306 questionnaires.

(***That is an awful lot of vitamin C but it is water soluble and is not stored. We need it daily. The B vitamins are also water soluble and non-toxic. “Expensive pee” is the joke but if it is helping the body on the way through than it isn’t that expensive compared to ill health.)

Among its many functions, zinc is needed for the development and maintenance of the brain, adrenal glands, GI tract, and immune system. Serotonin synthesis relies on zinc-activated enzymes; and zinc is also essential for antioxidant enzyme activity and other proteins important for growth and homeostasis. Breeding experiments with rodents indicate a zinc deficiency in the mother can be passed on to the offspring and negatively influence immunity and brain development. (51) Zinc currently has a very favorable B:W ratio, 17:1 from 835 questionnaires.

Zinc operates in a relationship with copper, i.e., when zinc levels go down, copper levels often go up. Bradstreet and Kartzinel assert zinc is deficient in 90 percent of ASD cases and copper in excess in 90 percent of cases. (14) Walsh analyzed copper and zinc in the blood of 318 ASD subjects and reported finding abnormally elevated copper:zinc ratios in 85 percent. (52) A smaller sampling of 22 subjects had 100-percent incidence of abnormally high, unbuffered copper (unbound to ceruloplasmin proteins)–about four times normal. Walsh’s findings corroborate recommendations by Adams (25) and others that autistics should exclude copper from their multiple vitamins.

(***Minerals can be dangerous at chronically high doses and the balance can be crucial. Wilson’s Disease is a copper overloading disease caused by a genetic defect. Pumpkin seeds, the green shelled part, are an excellant source of zinc and can be crisped by lightly toasting them in a skillet. Pepitos are another name for the Mexican snack version. Pre-toasted and salted pepitos can be quite salty unless you find raw pumpkin seeds at a health food store.)

Essential Fatty Acids Studies on EFA deficiency in autism are few, but with consistent results. Bradstreet and Kartzinel found omega-3 fatty acids are deficient in nearly 100 percent of ASD cases. (14) Vancassel and collaborators reported DHA 23-percent reduced, total omega-3s 20-percent reduced, and omega-6s unchanged in plasma phospholipids. (57) Hardy and Hardy studied 50 children with the more inclusive diagnosis Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), and reported almost 90 percent omega-3 deficient via red cell analysis. (58)

Amino Acid Abnormalities
At least two-thirds of autistics have abnormal amino acid levels, as measured in 24-hour urine or lasting blood plasma. High phenylalanine is rarely seen (one per several thousand autistics) but can occur without overt phenylketonuria (PKU), which may be observed in children from countries that do not test for PKU at birth. High histidine (histidinuria and usually concurrent histidinemia) is seen in one per 250-500 autistics, and also can mimic autism. High urine levels of several amino acids (generalized hyperaminoaciduria) almost always indicate toxic chemical exposure and consequent liver damage. Such is also attributable to heavy metal contamination and Wilson’s disease, Fanconi syndrome, cystinosis, fructose intolerance, galactosemia, and several other hereditary disorders. (6)

Low urine threonine suggests malabsorption. In maldigestion, anserine and carnosine are high, while the essential amino acids are low. Anserine and carnosine may also be high due to zinc insufficiency. When citrulline, methionine, ethanolamine, and phosphoethanolamine are elevated, functional magnesium deficiency is likely. Elevated sarcosine indicates toxic exposures and/or folate deficiency. And, when detoxification capacity is limited, the cysteine/cystine ratio, and methionine, taurine, and glycine levels tend to be abnormal.

Amino Acid Abnormalities
Autistic subjects who poorly metabolize tryptophan can carry its potentially toxic metabolite indoylacrylic acid (IAA) in their blood. IAA would normally be detoxified by combining it with glycine to make indoylacryloylglycine (IAG). Organophosphate pesticide contamination may shunt tryptophan down the IAG pathway. (6) Tryptamine, found in tomatoes and all types of bananas, may also raise IAG levels. Certain citrus fruits also may contain tryptamine-like substances. Assays for IAG are not routinely available and are easily contaminated.

(***Tryptamine may act as a neurotransmitter and is part of tryptophan, melatonin, serotonin and the psychoactive chemical in Psilocybin mushrooms and LSD. Tomatoes and bananas may not be good for some autistic people due to an enzyme defect and removing dairy protein and wheat protein improved symptoms for up to 80% of ASD subjects.)

Removing Casein and Gluten Foods from the Diet
There is a great deal of evidence that foods containing casein or gluten contribute significantly to ASD and should be eliminated from the diet. In well-conducted studies, as many as 80 percent of ASD subjects improved following strict dietary exclusion of these proteins. (13,14) Implementation of a strict casein- and gluten-free (CFGF) diet almost always leads to symptomatic improvement, and lays the foundation for a diet that can markedly benefit the condition.

It has been suggested that the adverse brain effects associated with dietary casein and gluten are likely due to opioid-acting peptides (small amino acid polymers, also called exorphins) metabolically generated from these proteins. (15) In their Sunderland Protocol for autism, Shattock and Whiteley note that clinical improvement often occurs on the CFGF diet even when laboratory tests fail to detect such peptides in the urine. (14) They suggest autistic subjects could be biochemically processing casein and/or gluten into other bioactive derivatives not being detected; or, while urinary levels measure normal, the quantities reaching the CNS could be high, perhaps due to abnormal permeability of the blood-brain barrier. Yet another possibility they suggest is children subjected to oxygen deprivation or other perinatal brain insults may have heightened vulnerability to even “normal” levels of the offending peptides.

Reichelt et al studied 15 ASD subjects (5 girls and 10 boys, age 3-17 years) for one year after implementing casein and gluten restriction. (16) They reported that 13 of 15 showed some degree of behavioral improvement and none got worse, as judged from parent-teacher consensus. Seizure activity was decreased in 3 of 4 subjects; gross motor behavior improved in 13 of 15; social contact increased in 10 of 15; eye contact improved in 9 of 15; ritualistic behavior decreased in 8 of 11; language improved in 10 of 13; and sleep patterns normalized in 9 of 11. These investigators concluded that incomplete digestion of casein or gluten-gliadin by digestive peptidase enzymes could be a biochemical cause of autistic syndromes.

Since abrupt simultaneous removal of casein and gluten from the diet can cause withdrawal symptoms, a two-step phased withdrawal is appropriate. The first phase is removal of casein via removal of milk and other dairy products. From a 1995 trial, Lucarelli et al reported 66 percent of subjects showed benefits from this intervention. (17) Benefits can manifest quickly–usually within 2-3 days in young children or 10-14 days in adults. However, a much longer period is required for casein to be fully cleared from the body.

Shattock and Whiteley documented the known metabolic dangers to children from consuming cow’s milk. (14) Milk consumption is linked to increased autism incidence among the immigrant population in Sweden as compared to the indigenous population. (18) Some children are clearly addicted to cow’s milk and will drink large quantities. Symptoms linked to casein intake include projectile vomiting; eczema, particularly behind the knees and in the crook of the elbow; white bumps under the skin; ear discharges and infections; constipation, cramps, and/or diarrhea; and respiratory disorders resembling asthma. Shattock and Whiteley report that casein withdrawal symptoms can be severe, especially in young children. (14)

Some higher-functioning ASD children voluntarily cease casein intake, apparently sensing it is not good for them. Gluten products, on the other hand, stir strong cravings and children are less likely to refuse them. (19) Gluten exclusion requires the removal of several common cereals from the diet, wheat, barley, rye, and oats, in particular; but many other foods contain hidden gluten. (19-21) The elimination process usually takes a minimum of 3-4 weeks, and a trial period of three months is appropriate. The urinary gluten profile persists for much longer than does the casein profile, and correspondingly the withdrawal effects are usually milder in severity than casein’s, but typically more prolonged.

Full clearance of dietary casein-gluten symptoms is a long-term process. Withdrawal can be evident for three months or longer. (16) Whiteley’s group (19) found a mere 26-percent reduction in urinary levels of gluten after a five-month exclusion diet. In some cases dramatic improvement emerged a full 7-9 months after initiating the diet, but maximal improvement can require up to two years of rigid dietary exclusion. Shattock and Whiteley advise against adding these foods back into the diet, since severe opioid symptoms could result. (14)

Sensitivities to Other Foods
Whereas children with neurodevelopmental disorders frequently have sensitivities to common foods, ASD children seemingly have extreme sensitivity to a wide range of foods. These sensitivities may contribute to the perceptual and processing difficulties that typify autism, yet are difficult to objectify. The classic allergy symptoms such as stuffiness, eczema, wheezing, and itching may be absent, yet cognition and behavior remain affected. (2)

Once the main sources of food intolerance–casein, gluten, and gliadin–are removed from the diet, other foods may emerge as sources of symptoms. Parents, particularly those who keep food diaries, can often associate the child’s consumption of a particular food with deterioration in behavior, sleep patterns, or performance. Beef, pork, rice, and potatoes are only occasionally implicated; whereas, foods that consistently cause problems are eggs. tomatoes, eggplant, avocados, red peppers, soy, and corn. Seroussi (21) described how corn was revealed as a problem food only after strict removal of gluten and casein from the diet. If a particular food is suspected, it should be removed from the diet for a trial period of at least three weeks and any improvements noted. On being reintroduced into the diet, it will likely trigger an exacerbation of symptoms.

1. Kidd, Parris M.. “Autism, an extreme challenge to integrative medicine. Part II: medical management. (Autism).(Brief Article).” Alternative Medicine Review. Thorne Research Inc. 2002. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <>.

*** Chocolate is the main food eaten by one little girl with autism spectrum disorder in a later link. As a dietitian in a public health program I have worked with several autistic children and “crisp” was a popular food group. I personally love Lundberg rice cakes because they are more dense and crispy than regular store brand rice cakes. A varied diet has benefits but excluding allergens and enzymatically indigestible foods has benefit as well. The chocolate itself is a healthy start but continuing to offer variety and to enjoy variety as a role model of healthy eating generally will help a child find more foods that help more than hurt.

The tomato and banana news surprised me – I don’t eat either after my migraine history. Both were early “avoids” and since becoming less sensitive I just haven’t enjoyed them much. Dairy is a big congesting no-no for me and I still avoid gluten in general. Rice feels better, and seems to help me think and move better.

Chocolate is an excellent source of minerals and B vitamins. A hundred grams of pure dark chocolate (no sugar or cream) contains 556 calories, 136 mg magnesium, 56 mg calcium, 559 mg potassium, 8 mg iron, 2 mg zinc, 1 mg copper, 1.4 mg manganese and 3 mcg selenium. It is also a good source of B vitamins and is one of the few known sources of cannabinoids. See the page Bbliography on iodine and autism for a little more info.

2. “SWEET RACHEL LIVES ON CHOCOLATE DIET; Autism feeds plight.(News).” Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland). Media Wales Ltd. 2004. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <>.
3. “The little girl who can only eat chocolate; AUTISM GIRL’S FOOD FAD.(News).” The Mirror (London, England). Media Wales Ltd. 2004. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <>.
5. Garston, Helen. “Sad chocolate drop kid eats only 15 bags of buttons a day.(News).” The People (London, England). Media Wales Ltd. 1998. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <>.  (***This is a second chocolate eating autistic spectrum child. I’m not recommending a milk and chocolate diet. It is more an example of a craving that might have some physiologic basis.)

6. “It’s hard to cry for Kieran …we know it’s not what he would have wanted; Tribute to 10-year-old meningitis tragedy boy.(News).” Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England). Media Wales Ltd. 2011. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <>. **This is a different boy, autistic, loved chocolate, unfortunately died of meningitis.)

7. Javier Fernández-Ruiz, Rosario de Miguel, Mariluz, Hernández, Maribel Cebeira, and José A. Ramos,  Endocannabinoids : The Brain and Body’s Marijuana and Beyond, Chapter 11, Endocannabinoids and Dopamine-Related Functions in the CNS, (2006 by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC) ,  

“Previously, the existence of anandamide analogs in chocolate had been demonstrated (di Tomaso et al., 1996). It is thought that chocolate and cocoa contain N-acylethanolamines, which are chemically and pharmacologically related to anandamide. These lipids could mimic cannabinoid ligands either directly by activating CBRs or indirectly by increasing anandamide levels (Bruinsma and Taren, 1999).”

8.   Nutrient Data Base # 19902:  Chocolate, dark, 45- 59% cacao solids

10. “Great Culinary News for Individuals with Autism.PRWeb Newswire. Vocus PRW Holdings LLC. 2010. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <>.

11. “Easy Steps to Convert Favorite Recipes to be Gluten (and Dairy) Free.PRWeb Newswire. Vocus PRW Holdings LLC. 2010. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <>.

12. Jessica Werb. “Sick to the stomach.” The Scotsman. ECM Publishers, Inc. 2000. HighBeam Research.14 Mar. 2011 <>.

13. Cormier, Eileen; Jennifer Harrison Elder. “Diet and child behavior problems: fact or fiction?(Primary Care Approaches)(Clinical report).” Pediatric Nursing. American Nephrology Nurses’ Association. 2007. HighBeam Research. 14 Mar. 2011 <>.

14.  Treating Autism with Stem Cells, Immune Support, Nutrition and Anti-fungals., David A Steenblock, M.S., D.O.

© copyright 2010 Regents of the University of Michigan – University of Michigan Integrative Medicine
Monica Myklebust, M.D. and Jenna Wunder, M.P.H., R.D. For questions and licensing information please call 734-998-7874 or email
The Healing Foods Pyramid™, created in 2005 and updated in 2009, is an illustration of a balanced way of eating in which food is regarded as a source of healing and nurturing rather than simply a way to gain energy.

Healing Foods Pyramid™

Dark Chocolate ImageDark Chocolate is included in the Healing Foods Pyramid™ as part of a balanced, whole foods, plant-based diet. This Food Pyramid emphasizes foods that nourish the body, sustain energy over time, contain healing qualities and essential nutrients, and support a sustainable environment.

What are the recommended servings per week?
Up to 7 ounces per week, average 1 ounce per day

16. Magnesium, Iodine and Autism  Magnesium deficiency measured in 95% of 116 Polish children with ADHD: 78% low hair, 59% low RBC’s, 34% low serum.[7]”

17. Magnesium Chloride Vs Magnesium Sulfate  According to Daniel Reid, author of The Tao of Detox, magnesium sulfate, commonly known as Epsom salts, is rapidly excreted through the kidneys and therefore difficult to assimilate. This would explain in part why the effects from Epsom salt baths do not last long and why you need more magnesium sulfate in a bath than magnesium chloride to get similar results. Magnesium chloride is easily assimilated and metabolized in the human body.[1] However, Epsom salts are used specifically by parents of children with autism because of the sulfate, which they are usually deficient in , sulfate is also crucial to the body and is wasted in the urine of autistic children.”

/Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./