Pomegranate polyphenols and Microglia M2 activation

The short story is that pomegranate polyphenols activate a very strong positive defense mechanism against inflammation that may be less active in autism. Read more:

Pomegranate juice polyphenols induce a phenotypic switch in macrophage polarization favoring a M2 anti-inflammatory state. (1)

“Pomegranate juice given daily for 2 years to 40 prostate cancer patients with increasing PSA levels provides evidence for the possible utilization of a nontoxic option for prevention or delay of prostate carcinogenesis. It is remarkable that 85% of patients responded to pomegranate juice in this study.” Pomegranate Ellagitannins – Herbal Medicine, (4)

(Punicagilanin and other polyphenols from a group called ellagitannins are found in the pomegranate juice and more are available when the entire fruit is used to extract juice. The bioactive phytonutrients seem to start being excreted from the body within 12 hours based on clinical studies, so a daily intake would be required for consistent benefits. Pomegranate Ellagitannins – Herbal Medicine, (4))

The long story is best left to read on a website written by a doctor who is working with research on the role of endocannabinoids in autism, how they may be involved in the risk as well as treatment for patients with the condition.

  • Read more: What Glyphosate Does To Your Brain: (2), which is a continuation of an overview on the topic of the herbicide glyphosate, autism and an endogenous cannabinoid that acts on the CB2 receptors.
  • Read more: The Autism Brain, Glyphosate, and Super-Cannabinoid Production (3)
  • Glyphosate was originally produced as an antibiotic and mineral chelator and may affect many pathways in the body due to changes to enzyme and mineral access and due to its chemical similarity to an important amino acid, glycine, which can act as a brain neurotransmitter.

So the short story is our body needs endogenous cannabinoids to protect our brain and the brains of infants from inflammatory toxins and pomegranate polyphenols may be a substitute as well as the non-euphoric cannabinoid CBD which activates the CB2 receptors.

Other foods that also may provide some natural cannabinoids or polyphenols that affect the system beneficially may include the herb Rosemary, the spice Cardamom, and unrefined cocoa bean products such as dark chocolate and Baker’s Cocoa Powder or Baking Chocolate.

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.

  1. Saar Aharoni, Yoni Lati, Michael Aviram, Bianca Furhman,  Pomegranate juice polyphenols induce a phenotypic switch in macrophage polarization favoring a M2 anti-inflammatory state. Biofactors, Volume 41, Issue 1, Jan/Feb 2015
    Pages 44–51  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/biof.1199/full (1)
  2. Christian Bogner, MD, What Glyphosate Does to Your Brain, Jan. 16, 2017, http://drbogner.com/glyphosate-vs-brain/ (2)
  3. Christian Bogner, MD, The Autism Brain, Glyphosate, and Super-Cannabinoid Production, Dec. 10, 2016, http://drbogner.com/glyphosate-autism-2/ (3)
  4. David Heber, Chapter 10: Pomegranate Ellagitannins,Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition., Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92772/ (4)

Prenatal ultrasounds are a great idea, but for baby too?

I told you the last story to tell you a different one. My father is not a computer scientist but as a mechanical engineer and he liked to build things in his spare time in a home workshop with many tools with which he could custom make hand engineered parts built to fit whatever the project required.

As a professional mechanical engineer he worked on national defense projects for a company who contracted with the U.S. government.  He didn’t own the patents on any of his work as a employee; all rights to his inventions and collaborations remained the property of the company. Feeling proud to work in defense of your country is a reward in itself.

One of the projects he worked on in collaboration with two other engineers is still in active production. Underwater detection of submarines is performed with sound-waves, somewhat like whale’s communicating with songs that travel across oceans, or like bat’s sending out clicks and listening for the rebound in echo location. Fascinating and not my area to try to explain in more detail. The Sonar detecting equipment that my father helped invent is still in production for the defense of the nation and I am very proud of him and his work.

Since the initial invention of the sound-wave technology the same “ultrasound” technology was adapted for use to make black and white images of the interior of the body that are formed of soft tissue and can’t be viewed with an X-Ray in the way that hard bone tissue can be viewed. The ultrasound technology can be used to view organs or look for tumors and it is now regularly used to view and make images of a fetus during it’s prenatal development.

The use of ultrasound imaging for viewing babies has become almost standard as an early proof of pregnancy even though it is not necessary as lab tests checking hormonal changes are also performed.

The use of ultrasound imaging during pregnancies has become standard in the United States, however women in China may not receive an ultrasound during their pregnancies.

To skip back to the whale song momentarily — try to visualize the sound-waves of a deep long note or tone that is strong enough to travel across an ocean and now the bat clicking. The deep long note travels across the ocean from one whale to another and is heard as communication.  Or the clicks of a dolphin or a bat are sent out in long deep or shorter more rapid notes that bounces off an object and returns to be interpreted as a map or echo location. Now try to visualize the ultrasound technician holding an ultrasound device that sends long deep notes through the abdomen into the watery environment surrounding or making up the body of the baby. Sound travels well through liquid and it would be loud.

Research studies on the effects of ultrasound imaging on the expected fetus took place in China with a group of women who were requesting abortions. Other studies with animal subjects have replicated part of the results which showed that ultrasound could cause fetal cells to move out of place within the developing infant. Ultrasound waves when held in one place for a longer time and at a closer distance were found to cause actual movement of fetal cells out of their normal positions.  [The animal-based research study.]

Other risks were also noted in the research performed in China, most significantly when the imaging wand was used for ten minutes instead of three and when it was used in an internal, vaginal position instead of using a larger external sweeping motion across the expanse of the abdomen. [pubmed/11776185 ]

The other risks to the infant included increased heat especially within the bony cavity of the skull which has been studied elsewhere without any babies. A container of water was found to consistently have an increase in temperature occur after just one minute of ultrasound exposure. Specific types of ultrasound devices vary somewhat and the recommendations and cautions regarding ultrasound use in pregnancy are available in this research article: [PMC4547707 ] Avoiding use of ultrasounds during the first trimester is recommended in the article and using the lowest settings possible for patients who have a medical need for ultrasound imaging is recommended for prenatal patients in later stages of pregnancy.

Gastroschisis is a rare medical condition in a developing fetus that might require an ultrasound for diagnosis around 18-20 weeks/gestation as surgery would be needed shortly after the baby’s birth as the condition would likely be deadly otherwise. An opening in the infant’s abdomen near the umbilical cord allows some of the intestine and/or liver to be outside of the body. [cincinnatichildrens.org/gastroschisis]

Protecting the developing brain of the fetus is important throughout the pregnancy but  the greatest risk to the fetus from ultrasounds may occur during the first trimester according to a research study that took place elsewhere than China.

  • A book, 50 Human Studies, in Utero, Conducted in Modern China, Indicate Extreme Risk for Prenatal Ultrasound: A New Bibliography by Jim West, a non-Chinese scientist, is available in which the findings from the Chinese studies are summarized for English readers and a Japanese translation is now also available. The book is mentioned on the following site along with a variety of links to research on the topic of the use of ultrasounds prenatally and a potential increased risk for autism developing in the infant later in life: ultrasound-autism.org
  • A lengthy review of the book and the history of how it came to be written by Jim West is available here: whale.to/50 Human Studies.
  • An excerpt summarizes the recommendation regarding ultrasound use prenatally based on findings by a project that ultimately involved approximately 100 scientists in China and 2,700 maternal-fetal pairs, between 1988-2011 :

“From these human studies, Professor Ruo Feng, of the Acoustic Institute at Nanjing University, published guidelines in 2000:

“Commercial or educational fetal ultrasound imaging should be strictly eliminated. Ultrasound for the identification of fetal sex and fetal entertainment imaging should be strictly eliminated. For the best early pregnancy, avoid ultrasound.”

Ruo Feng, who reviewed many of the studies, stipulated that routine ultrasound be avoided. Only if there were exceptional medical indications should ultrasound be allowed, and at minimum intensity. Sessions should be very brief, no more than 3 minutes, 5 minutes at most. Multiple sessions should be avoided because hazards are cumulative. Human studies had found sensitive organs damaged at 1 minute exposure.

The Chinese studies echo and confirm the earlier, ignored and rejected, 1984 “Consensus Statement”, published by the National Institute of Health and signed by the preeminent American scientists of that era. 2″  – whale.to/50 Human Studies

  • I learned of this research on the potential risks of ultrasound when researching other topics on possible causes of autism. Many factors may be involved in the risk of autism developing, which, in combination, can lead to changes occurring in the developing fetus that aren’t obvious in the infant but which may flair up into an autoimmune-like reaction during toddler-hood if there are enough negative factors and not enough or an adequate variety of nutrients and other positive factors in the child’s home life. Genetic susceptibilities are also involved but none identified thus far have been found to lead to autism without there being additional environmental toxins or nutrient deficiencies involved.
  • Autism can be caused by the use of thalidomide prenatally. That wouldn’t be recommended as the medication can also cause physical birth defects when used during a pregnancy, however it is a medication used for some non-pregnancy related conditions and there might be an occasional unplanned pregnancy. The point is not only that planning pregnancies is recommended so that prenatal vitamins can be started months in advance (ideally a year prior to conception for least risk of autism in one study); and so that potentially toxic medications can be gradually stopped before trying to conceive; but that if autism can be caused by a medication then how could it also be a natural variation?
  • Family studies suggest that personality traits slightly similar to autistic characteristics can be more common in the family members of patients with autism. Protecting the developing fetus from ultrasounds that are too intense, or go on for too long a time causing over-heating can be a simple way to help protect the child’s true genetic potential. Higher functioning people with Asperger’s like symptoms and skills may represent the more natural variation end of the autism spectrum while patients at the least functioning end of the spectrum have likely been exposed to more variety of toxins and possibly with less nutrients available or less genetic detoxification ability available to excrete the toxins.
  • The use of ultrasounds in addition to other factors may all be adding up to increased rate of autism that has been seen in our modern culture.
  • Using equipment that was originally designed to  detect submarines to take pictures of a developing infant is a practice to use cautiously rather than allowing it to become typical for all pregnancies or to be available for non-medical reasons, possibly performed by non-medical staff who may not follow safe procedures in the pursuit of a better image. In some areas the technology has been used for photo-booth type purposes, “Have you noticed ultrasound boutiques popping up in strip malls?”. Read more: birthrelaxationkit.com/ Ultrasound Concerns for Baby’s Development.
  • If the damage can accumulate with repeated exposure as suggested by the statement by Dr. Ruo Feng then each additional ultrasound may be adding to the risk of a neurological conditions such as autism.

Ultrasound technology is currently being used medically in other ways then prenatal or soft tissue imaging. It may be used specifically as a heat treatment on sore or cramped muscles during a physical therapy session.  And still in the research phases, high frequency ultrasound waves are being used at more intense strengths to actually kill cancer cells. That would be a safer technique for the health of the surrounding tissue than using radiation on cancerous tumors. X-ray type radiation is directed at the tumor in a rotating manner so that surrounding tissue gets less rays while the tumor gets a maximum dose in order to kill the cancerous cells.

So killing cancer cells with high frequency soundwaves sounds like a great idea compared to being rotated on a table while an X-ray is directed at a tumor. Eating healthy and not getting a tumor also sounds good.

  • Having an ultrasound during the first trimester of a pregnancy doesn’t sound good to me. Disclosure – I declined any ultrasounds for both of my pregnancies. I had listened to my dad play whale songs for too many hours of my youth to want my babies to have a sound wave ray gun directed at them. My thought at the time, which research suggests was an accurate concern, was, “I don’t want to risk scrambling my baby’s brain just to see what sex it is. I’d prefer to wait and see anyway.”
  • At the time of my pregnancies, ultrasounds were still a fairly “new-fangled” invention or service which was offered as a choice rather than being expected with every single “I’m expecting a baby” announcement. Send a photo of the urine test stick instead or the results from the official lab test. Once you’ve seen one black and white fuzzy image of a blob, you’ve seen them all – you can trust me on that. Ultrasound images have become so standard they are used as proof of pregnancy for agencies that offer free services to women who are pregnant and I admired a lot of little adorable blobs — women can be very protective of their babies, no matter what they look like.

So protecting your newly conceived baby’s brain seems worth considering , not just the fuzzy image for a birth announcement.

In high risk pregnancies there may be an increased number of ultrasounds recommended, possibly just to be cautious. It is okay as a patient to ask questions about medical necessity and what is truly necessary and what is possibly being recommended to look thorough in case of a potential malpractice suit. If the ultrasound tests themselves may be increasing risk to the infant though, then how cautious is it to use them more often just because a woman’s pregnancy has some high risk factor?

It’s okay to ask questions. It’s your baby, your body, and your baby’s brain and future at risk.

  • A whale song combined with music by a musician I listened to as a child can be heard online; Whale Lullaby, with music by Paul Winter: Youtube.

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.

 

Antimony, SIDS, autism and mattress covers

SIDS, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is the primary cause of death among infants and children under age one — in the United States. In New Zealand, however, SIDS rates have dramatically declined since 1994 when a specially designed mattress cover was developed to help protect infants in their cribs from toxic fumes released from the mattress due to chemical additives or molds. Antimony is one of the chemicals that may be a common risk to infants. Chemicals added to reduce risk of the mattress catching fire may be gradually released and absorbed through the infant’s skin or be breathed by the baby.

In the United States a “Back to Sleep” educational campaign was developed to try to reduce the rate of SIDS deaths because the problem was associated with infants sleeping on their stomachs. That position would place their nose and mouth more directly into the mattress where the toxic chemicals tend to be most prevalent. The “Back to Sleep” campaign and the tendency to leave infants sitting in their infant seats for long periods of time may also have led to more flat-headed babies. Specially shaped neck and head support pillows were developed and sold to worried parents to then prevent the flat-headed problem.

Antimony is a heavy metal which may also be associated with autism risk. Wrapping a mattress in a protective cover is a non-toxic, completely safe and low cost investment that might help protect against SIDS risk and possibly reduce the long term build up of toxins that might increase autism risk. However the United States health guidelines have not endorsed/accepted/supported the simple solution that has been saving the lives of infants in New Zealand since 1994. Research there has proven statistical significance of the method.

The U.S. may be dragging it’s collective heals because of fear of liability or fear of agreeing that fire retardant chemicals that were supposed to save lives may be costing lives — speculation doesn’t save many lives but wrapping an infant mattress in a specially designed cover might. Replacing infant mattresses between infants might also help. The mold risk may be an increased problem for second or third children — who tend to have an increased risk to die from unknown causes while asleep (SIDS) compared to the firstborn infant.

Tweets on the topic from my social media Twitter account; #1, 2 and 3 are to the same link, “Has the Cause of Crib Death, SIDS, been Found?; and #5 and 7 are to a link that sells the specially designed BabeSafe brand mattress covers; the link to which I found on #4, prevent-SIDS.org website’s article “BabeSafe Mattress Wrapping Success”; and #6 is to an Autism website that mentions antimony and fire retardants as a possible risk but which does not mention the New Zealand SIDS research or specially designed mattress covers; #7 is a Tweet where I combined a different autism prevention article with the BabeSafe mattress cover link (#5):

  1. Wrapping crib mattresses to reduce toxic off-gassing has reduced SIDS rate in New Zealand. .
  2. “no babies have died sleeping on a properly wrapped mattress.” 2,100 babies die/yr in U.S. via .
  3. Has The Cause of Crib Death (SIDS) Been Found? /statistics~1 billion x level generally required/ via
  4. BabeSafe Mattress Wrapping Success
  5. “Babe-safe mattress covers,” made to the New Zealand design to safely reduce off-gassing toxins,
  6. Aluminum, Antimony, Autism and Answers
  7. Minimizing Risks | Autism Research Institute /babesafe covers decrse antimony   .

Infants, at least some of them, some of the time, like to sleep on their stomachs. Do they have to move to New Zealand in order to have that freedom? Or in a free country couldn’t parents have the right to buy their infant a specially designed mattress cover that might help protect them from volatile chemicals and molds that might be off-gassing from the mattress and increasing risk of SIDS and autism?

Freedom was a core principle for our nation’s Founding Fathers. They might have voted for the right to wrap mattresses rather than enforcing an educational message designed to reduce health risks but may have led to increased risks of flat-headed-ness. Flat-headed babies sometimes have their skull shape round out again without intervention beyond encouraging the parent to hold their baby more and to use the specially designed neck and head supports and to make sure baby has ‘tummy time’ while awake, but sometimes the infants have to wear specially designed football like helmets for weeks or months in order to encourage the skull to grow into a more typical shape.

Encouraging baby in “Tummy time” can then sometimes become a challenge if the infant gets so used to the back position that they lose muscle strength and interest in spending time on their tummies. The position is important for increasing neck, back and arm strength necessary for learning how to roll over and press up to a hands and knee position for learning how to crawl. And learning how to crawl has been associated with improved skills in coordination between the right and left halves of the body and with more advanced skills later in life such as reading and writing. The “Back to Sleep” education campaign was started in the U.S. in 1994. [http://www.medcentral.org/main/Whatssoimportantaboutcrawling.aspx ] The mattress cover campaign that started around the same time in New Zealand had a much more significant reduction in infants dieing from SIDS and probably didn’t lead to as many babies developing flattened heads.

We don’t know what we don’t know until we learn it the hard way or listen to other people who have also experienced the problem and developed sensible solutions.

Guessing, but an educated guess — if the infant has any asthma or other respiratory issues the BabeSafe Mattress Covers might also help their health. Mold and volatile chemicals can add to asthma and breathing difficulties.

/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./