Epigenetic changes may also be involved in Covid19 or LongCovid

Epigenetic changes may be involved in Covid19 and LongCovid, which might be able to be changed back with the addition of plenty of methyl donor vitamins. People with methylation genetic alleles would be more at risk for epigenetic changes to DNA or actin protein filaments. Actin are semi flexible proteins in a double helix shape which support the fluid and organelles inside of cells and around cells and organs of our bodies. Actin also is involved in guiding the work of DNA replication and growth and development of cells or infants.

Methylation is the addition of a methyl group – one carbon atom and three hydrogen atoms, to genes, or actin filaments. A methylated gene is not active for encoding proteins while a demethylated gene is available to be transcribed into a messenger mRNA to be made into a matching protein. Actin filaments are a double helix shape like DNA but do other functions throughout our body. Some have methyl groups also that seem to be essential for proper function of the actin protein whether in muscle contraction or in guiding chemicals within cells to make DNA or do other work. Actin filaments add structure to the jelly like fluid around and in cells and may tether chemicals in place for chemical reactions or guide cellular organization during growth and development.

Actin may be involved with energy fields of our body along with microtubules also, but that is not discussed in greater detail in this post (more information about quantum energy fields and actin is included in Cracking Nature’s Code (2019) (1), and in several posts on another site of mine first in the series, 2nd, 3rd, 4th).

Viral infection and epigenetic changes with a focus on Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and possible dietary and lifestyle changes that may help reverse epigenetic changes is the focus of this post – which got long. It is also available as a section of this document that includes the series on Mast Cells and Histamine. Current standard of treatment for patients with POTS symptoms may leave them unwell for years – a few get better more rapidly. I got better on my own within a few months – twice. More about possible strategies for improvement of epigenetic changes will be included later in the post. More about the epigenetics involved in POTS is included in the Genetics/Epigenetics chapter of my book draft which is available on a platform where you can get an e-copy early (minimum price Free, Leanpub/Tipping The Clock Toward Health) and then be informed of updates with an email subscription.

Viral infection can cause Epigenetic changes.

Bacterial (Pacis et al., 2015, 2) and viral infection (Lichinchi et al., 2016, 3) directly impact methylation patterns, most likely orchestrated by actin since it is universally hi-jacked in viral infectivity (Cudmore et al. 1997, 4; Ohkawa and Volkman, 1999, 5; Lu et al., 2004, 6; Marek et al., 2011, 7).

page 34, JB Head, PhD, Cracking Nature’s Code (2019) (1)

I found I have methylation gene alleles in a genetic screening (post: Methylation Cycle Defects – in me – genetic screening “for research purposes only”). Since finding out I stopped taking standard supplements of B12 and folic acid because they are not methylated, not bioactive. I take methyl B12 & methyl folate supplements now. Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) (9) has been a problem for me in past years a couple times and I got better. Symptoms include a rapid heart rate, tachycardia, and feeling faint or blacking out, especially when getting up quickly from a seated or laying down position to standing. (9) I have heard anecdotal reports of it being a symptom for some LongCovid survivors who had never had the problem before.

To slow the rapid heart rate during an episode I found it helpful to stop and sit or lay down with my feet above my heart if possible and just wait a couple minutes for the rapid heart rate to slow again. Continuing to exercise would make the rapid heart rate worse. Preventing the faintness upon rapidly getting up required trying to remember to slow down and have a support ready to hold if I felt wobbly. I did faint once, odd to find yourself on the floor unexpectedly.

POTS has been found to potentially involve a genetic difference in the norepinephrine transporter gene (SLC6A2) sequence and it can also be an epigenetic problem with links to excess formaldehyde. (9) Formaldehyde can donate methyl groups to DNA that normally would be unmethylated – active. (10) Methylation of DNA is a little like a on/off switch for genes, or the cap on bottle – add the methyl groups and the DNA gene is inactive.

Formaldehyde as a methyl donor for the methylation of DNA, RNA, and histone acts as an epigenetic factor participating in the reversible and dynamic methylation. DNA demethylation elicits formaldehyde generation in the dividing cells and post-mitotic neurons.” (10) Memory formation involves methylation of DNA and cognitive impairment in older adults is associated with increased internal formaldehyde levels (self-made) and demethylation of DNA. Use of nutrients to remove formaldehyde helped improve memory in an animal based study. (10)

Formaldehyde can be prevalent in secondhand or thirdhand smoke in enclosed rooms, or smog, or we make our own during normal metabolism, and physical or emotional stress conditions may cause an increase, as well as the level potentially increasing in older adults. (11) Elevated levels of formaldehyde within cells causes more breakdown of sugar for energy and increased removal of an antioxidant out of the brain cells, which may increase risk for cognitive damage. “As excess formaldehyde accelerates glycolysis and glutathione export in neural cells, formaldehyde‐induced alterations in brain metabolism and oxidative stress may contribute to the pathological progression of neurodegenerative disorders.” (11)

Formaldehyde is very reactive and can use the methyl group to form links between protein groups or parts that wouldn’t normally be linked – like bungee cords holding parts together in places that would be separate in normal function. (11) Formaldehyde is used with tissue samples to preserve material for viewing under a microscope. Studies of the effect of formaldehyde on the actin protein of live cells that were low on blood sugar found that modifications to the protein did occur – the authors suggest any prior research on the actin protein in formaldehyde treated samples may be inaccurate. (12) Take home point – formaldehyde is not good for our brain cells and may effect the protein of our brain cytoskeleton structure. (12) Protein tangles in brain cells are associated with dementia and autism.

What is a cytoskeleton? We are mostly water, so how do we walk around? With a balance in tension between string like ligaments and muscles and rod like bones of our skeleton. Within the cellular environment, inside and outside the cell membrane – the tent wall, there are rod like microtubules and string like actin protein that is more flexible, it can change shape but isn’t stretchy as much as structurally able to modify in shape. Actin is a double helix, two spirals like DNA except without the ladder like steps joining the two lengths of protein. When force is applied the double helix can get a little longer or shorter as the coils compress or lengthen slightly – tensile strength – and the protein gets stiffer from a side to side direction – torsion – and is less flexible along the length, less able to bend sideways. (13)

The actin protein may act as torsion sensors – is the environment changing in pressure around that section of the protein length – from increased fluid or gas? How full is the balloon like membrane? (14) Channels in a membrane will open and start to leak rather than letting the membrane burst like an overfull balloon. This may seem like a silly discussion – however it is your brain and organs – leaking is better than bursting. Leaking membranes will release fluid and some types of chemicals while a bursting open, as when viral replication is complete and the virus exit a cell, the membrane bursts and all the remaining chemicals in the cell flood into the surrounding cytoskeleton and can cause inflammatory damage to surrounding cells.

These flexible yet firm cytoskeleton actin filaments also may act like guidelines for directing traffic or tethering organelles in place for activity such as replication of DNA during cell division (one cell doubles its DNA and then divides into two cells). Too much of the proteins within a cell nucleus will prevent DNA replication rather than guiding it. (15) Actin is also involved in muscle fiber motion. The double helix structure can also be methylated with methyl groups doing an unknown but critical function. Loss of methylation of actin in one location is associated with cancer and autism spectrum disorders, (16), loss of it in another location along the protein chain is associated with muscle changes that cause female animals to have delivery problems and fewer babies. (17, 18)

So actin is important stringy protein that effects muscle power, cell division, and the brain – and formaldehyde can cause demethylation of DNA, likely it can cause demethylation of actin also which may lead to autism spectrum disorders, cancer, and muscle problems that can affect a healthy delivery of infants (in an animal study). The visual – we want our jelly like insides to have a strong yet flexible tent membrane, tent poles (microtubules), and tie downs (actin) – without having so many tie downs it starts looking like a haunted house full of cobwebs. The amyloid beta protein associated with Alzheimer’s dementia and autism may be protective against a low level infection (post: Magnesium might help protect against beta amyloid placques) but also may increase changes in actin stress fibers (24) and an excess seems to add to chronic inflammatory damage over time.

How do we achieve this? Healthy actin?

It may help promote appropriate methylation of DNA and actin to have adequate antioxidants and methyl donor nutrients in our diet, to reduce oxidative stress chemicals and provide adequate methylation to DNA and actin. Avoiding excessive physical and emotional stress may also be an important strategy, so we aren’t embalming ourselves with self produced formaldehyde (the mummy in the haunted house being our own brain).

We also want to avoid formaldehyde in our environment, which would include improving air quality, especially during sleep hours when our body is focused on detoxification of the brain. Parkinson’s Disease is another chronic condition that may involve epigenetic changes and reducing formaldehyde exposure may be protective. More information is in this post with a link to a longer post about formaldehyde sources: The Cholinergic System

Increasing methyl donor vitamin rich foods and/or supplements should focus on the methylated form if unsure whether there is a genetic allele problem causing lack of methylation.

Methyl groups are important for numerous cellular functions such as DNA methylation, phosphatidylcholine synthesis, and protein synthesis. The methyl group can directly be delivered by dietary methyl donors, including methionine, folate, betaine, and choline.” … “Studies that simulated methyl-deficient diets reported disturbances in energy metabolism and protein synthesis in the liver, fatty liver, or muscle disorders.” … “Hypomethylation has a wide spectrum of effects that include genetic, epigenetic, and metabolic alterations.” (8)

Gastrointestinal problems have been found to be common among patients with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) with malfunction or slowing, dysmotility, of the smooth muscle lining of the intestinal tract. “Case study 1: A 20-year-old woman presented to clinic for further evaluation of a several year history of fullness and epigastric discomfort associated with eating and irregular bowel habits. Her weight was stable. She also described frequent migraine headaches, episodic palpitations and lightheadedness with progressively increasing episodes of syncope. A systems review was notable for profound fatigue, dry eyes and mouth and intermittent flushing and pruritus.” (19) The patient’s symptoms include many in common with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, however testing for mast cell activation was normal. Patients whose symptoms followed a viral infection tend to get better more often than patients with a family history of POTS. (19)  

A number of chronic conditions are frequently seen in patients with POTS and contribute to symptom burden and reduced quality of life. Common comorbidities include chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, interstitial cystitis, and migraine headaches. Other unique conditions that seem to occur with increased frequency in POTS are autoimmunity, the hypermobile form of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (HM-EDS), and mast cell activation disorder (MCAD).” (19)  

“Unlike mastocytosis, idiopathic mast cell activation [MCAD] occurs in the absence of mast cell proliferation and with episodic accumulation of mast cell mediators in the plasma or urine, usually present when symptomatic. Patients with MCAD typically present with episodic “attacks” of flushing, urticaria and pruritus accompanied by lightheadedness, dizziness, dyspnea, nausea, headache, diarrhea, and/or syncope; symptoms representative of the hyperadrenergic type of POTS with biochemical evidence of MCAD (20).” (19)

The patient in case study 2 had ongoing nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and weight loss continuing for years following a viral infection. She was found to have deficiency in iron, zinc, and vitamin B12 and gastroparesis (slow or little intestinal muscle action). Intravenous iron and B12 were provided and an oral zinc supplement. Nutrient levels improved however the GI symptoms and weight loss continued and the patient was given tube feedings which improved weight, however some intolerance to the tube feedings continued and abdominal pain persisted. (19)  

If demethylation of actin protein in the muscle tissue of the intestinal wall was a problem for the patient in case study 2, then it may have been a factor in the gastroparesis. Genetic screening for methylation defects is not mentioned. Supplements of B12 are often an unmethylated form, cyanocobalamin, and which include cyanide. (21) In a study of 12 patients by Huang et al, (22): “Disturbances in GI motility were found to involve not only the stomach, but also multiple segments of the gut spanning the esophagus to the anus.” (19) The commonly used treatments for GI symptoms associated with POTS (see Table 5) do not include nutrients and do include proton pump inhibitors, (19),  a medication that takes the place of magnesium as a calcium channel blocker, and which may lead to worse magnesium deficiency for some people, a genetic difference may be involved. See post: Original Prilosec Warning, edited.

Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) may occur along with GI problems and lead to fat and carbohydrate digestion and absorption problems and bloating from excessive bacterial growth. Changes in diet due to the discomfort are common in patients with POTS and these more severe GI symptoms and which may lead to deficiencies in fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Megaloblastic anemia may result from deficiencies in iron, folate and vitamin B12. (19) Sulfate deficiency may be an underlying factor (23) and providing Epsom salt soaks of the lower legs and feet, or in a bath one to two times a week might help by providing a topically absorbed form of magnesium and sulfate. See post: To have optimal Magnesium needs Protein and Phospholipids too.

Zinc is also involved in DNA methylation and deficiency of the trace mineral can lead to epigenetic changes and gene transcription problems. Zinc is needed along with actin and other proteins to tell the cell nucleus and cell which genes to make into mRNA to be encoded into a protein. “Accumulating evidence has demonstrated that several key enzymes and zinc finger proteins with zinc atom(s) in the reactive center and binding site play important roles in DNA methylation and histone modifications. Therefore, zinc deficiency may disrupt the functions of these enzymes and proteins and result in epigenetic dysregulation. Furthermore, zinc deficiency may enhance inflammatory response and subsequently alter DNA methylation status of the genes involved in inflammation.” (20) Also see posts: Zinc – big news, CoV and other illness related, and Zinc, cancer, and bitter taste receptors.

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.

Reference List

  1. JB Head, PhD, Cracking Nature’s Code: The Potential Answer to Everything. (Balboa Press, Bloomington, IN, 2019) https://www.balboapress.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/792280-cracking-natures-code
  2. Pacis A, Tailleux L, Morin AM, et al., Bacterial infection remodels the DNA methylation landscape of human dendritic cells. Genome Res 2015. 25: 1801-1811 https://doi.org/10.1101/gr.192005.115 https://genome.cshlp.org/content/25/12/1801
  3. Lichinchi G, Zhao BS, Wu Y, et al. Dynamics of Human and Viral RNA Methylation during Zika Virus Infection. Cell Host Microbe. 2016;20(5):666-673. doi:10.1016/j.chom.2016.10.002 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5155635/
  4. Cudmore S, Reckmann I, Way M. (1997). Viral manipulations of the actin cytoskeleton. Trends in microbiology. 5. 142-8. 10.1016/S0966-842X(97)01011-1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/14077627_Viral_manipulations_of_the_actin_cytoskeleton
  5. Ohkawa T, Volkman LE, Nuclear F-Actin Is Required for AcMNPV Nucleocapsid Morphogenesis, Virology, Vol 264, Issue 1, 1999, Pages 1-4, ISSN 0042-6822, https://doi.org/10.1006/viro.1999.0008. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0042682299900089
  6. Lu, S., Ge, G. & Qi, Y. Ha-VP39 binding to actin and the influence of F-actin on assembly of progeny virions. Arch Virol149, 2187–2198 (2004). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00705-004-0361-4 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00705-004-0361-4
  7. Marek M, Merten OW, Galibert L, Vlak JM, van Oers MM. Baculovirus VP80 protein and the F-actin cytoskeleton interact and connect the viral replication factory with the nuclear periphery. J Virol. 2011;85(11):5350-5362. doi:10.1128/JVI.00035-11 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3094977/
  8. Obeid R. The metabolic burden of methyl donor deficiency with focus on the betaine homocysteine methyltransferase pathway. Nutrients. 2013;5(9):3481-3495. Published 2013 Sep 9. doi:10.3390/nu5093481 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3798916/
  9. Richard Bayles, Harikrishnan KN, Elisabeth Lambert, et al., Epigenetic Modification of the Norepinephrine Transporter Gene in Postural Tachycardia Syndrome. Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2012;32:1910–1916 https://doi.org/10.1161/ATVBAHA.111.244343 https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/full/10.1161/atvbaha.111.244343
  10. Su, Tao & He, Rong-Qiao. (2017). Formaldehyde Playing a Role in (De)methylation for Memory. 10.1007/978-94-024-1177-5_3. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320523716_Formaldehyde_Playing_a_Role_in_Demethylation_for_Memory
  11. Ketki Tulpule Ralf Dringen, Formaldehyde in brain: an overlooked player in neurodegeneration?, J. Neurochem. (2013) 127, 7– 21 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jnc.12356
  12. Vasicova P, Rinnerthaler M, Haskova D, et al. Formaldehyde fixation is detrimental to actin cables in glucose-depleted S. cerevisiae cells. Microb Cell. 2016;3(5):206-214. Published 2016 Apr 12. doi:10.15698/mic2016.05.499 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5349148/
  13. Effect of tensile force on the mechanical behavior of actin filaments. J Biomechanics (2011), 44(9): 1776-1781, 2011-06-03 , https://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/handle/2433/152437 https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/39280196.pdf
  14. Hayakawa K, Tatsumi H, Sokabe M. Actin filaments function as a tension sensor by tension-dependent binding of cofilin to the filament. J Cell Biol. 2011;195(5):721-727. doi:10.1083/jcb.201102039 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257564/
  15. Hu, X., Liu, Z.Z., Chen, X. et al. MKL1-actin pathway restricts chromatin accessibility and prevents mature pluripotency activation. Nat Commun10, 1695 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-09636-6 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-019-09636-6
  16. Seervai RNH, Jangid RK, Karki M, et al., The Huntingtin-interacting protein SETD2/HYPB is an actin lysine methyltransferase. Science Advances, 02 OCT 2020 : EABB7854 SETD2 regulates actin dynamics and cell migration via methylation of actin at Lys68 in a cellular complex containing Huntingtin. https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/6/40/eabb7854?Disruption of the SETD2-HTT-HIP1R axis inhibits actin methylation, causes defects in actin polymerization, and impairs cell migration. Together, these data identify SETD2 as a previously unknown HTT effector regulating methylation and polymerization of actin filaments and provide new avenues for understanding how defects in SETD2 and HTT drive disease via aberrant cytoskeletal methylation.“… “Loss of SETD2 and the H3K36me3 chromatin mark is embryonic lethal in Drosophila (7) and mice (8), and SETD2 defects have been linked to several diseases, including cancer (911) and autism spectrum disorder (1214).”
  17. Wilkinson, A.W., Diep, J., Dai, S. et al. SETD3 is an actin histidine methyltransferase that prevents primary dystocia. Nature 565, 372–376 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0821-8, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0821-8 lack of the methylation at histidine 73 seems to interfere with muscles and causes the genetically different animals to have fewer babies due to maternal delivery problems. Graphic from the article shows a CH3 methyl group being added to an actin filament at Histidine 73: https://twitter.com/anandb4/status/1073255833813671937?s=20
  18. Kwiatkowski S, Seliga AK, Veiga-da-Cunha M, et al., SETD3 protein is the actin-specific histidine N-methyltransferase. bioRxiv 266882; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/266882Now published in eLife doi: 10.7554/elife.37921 https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/266882v1?platform=hootsuiteFinally, Setd3-deficient HAP1 cells were devoid of methylated H73 in β-actin and exhibited phenotypic changes, including a decrease in F-actin content and an increased glycolytic activity.
  19. DiBaise JK, Lunsford TN, Harris LA, Nutrition Issues in Gastroenterology, Series #187: The POTS (Postural Tachycardia Syndrome) Epidemic: Hydration and Nutrition Issues. June 2019, Practical Gastro, Vol XLIII, Issue 6 https://practicalgastro.com/2019/10/14/the-pots-postural-tachycardia-syndrome-epidemic-hydration-and-nutrition-issues/
  20. Gu H.F., Zhang X. (2017) Zinc Deficiency and Epigenetics. In: Preedy V., Patel V. (eds) Handbook of Famine, Starvation, and Nutrient Deprivation. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-40007-5_80-1 https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-3-319-40007-5_80-1
  21. Dody Chiropractic, Why Do Vitamin B12 Supplements Contain Cyanide?, dodychiro.com,  https://www.dodychiro.com/why-do-vitamin-b12-supplements-contain-cyanide/
  22. Huang RJ, Chun CL, Friday K, et al. Manometric abnormalities in the postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome: a case series. Dig Dis Sci 2013;58:3207-3211 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24068608/
  23. Elliot Overton, Sulfate IV: Chronic SIBO/Gut Dysbiosis As A Protective Adaptation To Supply Sulfate. July 21, 2018, Eonutrition.co.uk, https://www.eonutrition.co.uk/post/sulfate-iv-chronic-sibo-gut-dysbiosis-as-a-protective-adaptation-to-supply-sulfate 
  24. Song C, Perides G, Wang D, Liu YF. beta-Amyloid peptide induces formation of actin stress fibers through p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase. J Neurochem. 2002 Nov;83(4):828-36. doi: 10.1046/j.1471-4159.2002.01182.x. PMID: 12421354. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12421354/
  25. Frederic Dorandeu, Guilhem Calas, Gregory Dal Bo, Raafat Fares, Chapter 36 – Models of Chemically-Induced Acute Seizures and Epilepsy: Toxic Compounds and Drugs of Addiction, Editor(s): Asla Pitkänen, Paul S. Buckmaster, Aristea S. Galanopoulou, Solomon L. Moshé, Models of Seizures and Epilepsy (Second Edition),Academic Press, 2017, Pages 529-551, ISBN 9780128040669, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-804066-9.00037-7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128040669000377Alterations of the neuronal cytoskeleton, and more precisely disruption of actin dynamics, seem then to contribute to changes in brain excitability, but the mechanisms leading to these changes remain still unresolved (Spence and Soderling, 2015).” Excerpt viewable in F-actin, ScienceDirect, https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/f-actin

Is Success Money? Happiness? Survival? Promoting Change?

The definition of success varies for different people. As a public health educator I always felt successful when I heard ideas I had recommended being recommended to me – smile and nod and say What a great idea, do you mind if I share that with others?

Survival with health issues or other types of crisis often means making changes to old ways of doing things. Learning what works for some people in some situations can help others in similar situations or may be the idea that leads to their own adaptation of the idea to better suit their needs. I’ve had health problems all of my life, not too severe but often effecting my daily ability to breathe or think or move comfortably. I’ve had to make many changes and recognize when something is better for me to avoid than to try. Reading about the experiences or research of others has helped me improve my own health.

Many people can have similar great ideas, thinking and trying things is free. Sharing great ideas can help increase the number of people or places benefiting from the information.

My goal for success is survival of the planet and as many of its species as possible. Tragedy is occurring too often. Wildfires are part of the natural cycle of forest growth but become more dangerous when more people live in the area. The risk of wildfires occurring in Southern California and elsewhere in the dry areas of the southwest are expected to double by 2050 with the changes occurring in climate patterns. “The risk of devastating fires in Southern California will double by 2050. Southeastern states will also see more wildfires in the coming years.”  See: 13 Dire Impacts Outlined in the New Climate Report, politicalchange.org.

  • Building or rebuilding with more disaster or wildfire resistant construction and landscaping (including a perimeter of no vegetation around the building) is a topic with more information available, some links available here: Peace is privacy and shelter from weather.  Learning from a children’s story – don’t build with straw or wood, build with brick if you want durable construction. Buildings are made with fire alarms and sprinkler systems to reduce risk of fire spreading. Watch towers are placed intermittently throughout forests with a person to watch for signs of fire. In the days of early settlers townpeople or individuals would make fire breaks around settled areas to reduce the risk of wildfires spreading into the settled area. Sod construction was messy but less of a risk for fire except for the thatched roof. (Sod House/Wikipedia) Building in floodzones risks frequent flooding, more people in those areas are building on stilts or building floating houses, or the areas are being rezoned for other construction or are being restored as wetlands which help protect nearby areas from flooding. Adapting to the changing times in advance saves money and trauma later. (Knightsen Wetland Restoration and Flood Protection Project, Balance Hydrologics)
  • Links regarding trauma and recovery here: Peace is recovering from trauma.
  • This month’s tragedy was also a previous year’s tragedy and the goal is to have better plans in place for the future as the risks increase with warmer drier weather patterns. Information about volunteering or donating money to help with the current wildfire crisis in California can be found here: (California Volunteers).
  • Ideas about improving the early warning system for wildfire risk is discussed in this article: Response to California Fires: A New Warning System?, Guy on Climate.
  • How climate change can affect wildfire risk on the west coast of the U.S. and severe snowstorm risk on the east coast at the same time is discussed in the article: Consequences of the November Dipole, Guy on Climate. It isn’t discussed in detail in that article but the air mass over the west coast is likely increasing drought (Causes of Extreme Ridges That Induce California Droughts, Journal of Climateit is complicated).

The human impact on the planet and its species is undeniable. Just how fast or how severe and whether the rate matches predictions or not is splitting hairs. The fact is extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and severity and the ocean is becoming warmer and more acidic and pollution is showing up basically everywhere on the planet that has been monitored.

Currently the air quality is not very safe for breathing in many areas of California where wildfires occurred. For my personal health it wasn’t that good to begin with in some areas. I was congested within six hours visiting the Los Angeles area – I later spent a lot of time thinking and then writing down some ideas of my own and others regarding large air purification systems: Imagining Windmills – Solar Sail Revolving Ones. I can’t think well when I don’t have clean air, let alone breathe well, or do any other activities. My favorite places to visit in California included some national forests and a shady countryside walk along a creek.  I cannot survive well in a polluted area or where it is too hot, dry and sunny. Heat adds to inflammation for people with autoimmune problems. People are unlikely to enjoy themselves if they are overheated or disoriented from bad air conditions.

Some points from previous posts about health and air quality:

  • Information about smog: (Causes and Effects of Smogconserve-energy-future.com)
  • Having adequate B vitamins which are important for all aspects of metabolism and energy production in the body may help reduce the harmful health effects of breathing smog-laden air: (Could a Daily Vitamin Curb Smog’s Health Effects? webMD.com)
  • Banning indoor smoking helps a lot. Some states have banned indoor smoking in all public places but some still allow. I’m updating this post in a location that allows it in a section of the building and the odor is obvious to me throughout the main area of the building. It is a health risk that may be worse for people who have deficiencies or metabolic differences in B vitamins such as folate and B 12 which are discussed in more detail later. Other tips for reducing formaldehyde are discussed in this post: formaldehyde-health-risks-and-environmental-and-dietary-sources/
  • Formaldehyde is a common chemical in polluted or smoky air and folate is needed to help the body detoxify and excrete formaldehyde. It may be an underlying factor in risk for autism development as housing with poor air circulation and/or some types of new vinyl flooring is associated with a greater risk for autism in the family. Other pollutants that may effect children are included in this post: environmental-toxins-and-neurodevelopmental-disorders-in-children/
  • Genetic screening might be helpful for people living in smog areas -methylation differences can leave people unable to use the common supplemental type of folate called folic acid or vitamin B12. Methylated forms of both are available or both can be found in some typically used foods but if you did have a genetic difference in ability to methylate then it is better to avoid using the supplemental folic acid or un-methylated B12. It is like filling the body with puzzle pieces that fill the receptor spots that are open but which then can’t connect properly to other pieces. The unusable forms compete with any methylated vitamin that was available from dietary sources of B12 or folate that had been eaten that day. (Selfpay, for research purposes onlygenetic screening panel that I have used – meaning it isn’t approved as a diagnostic tool that you could get your health insurance to cover or doctor to prescribe.) We need to try new strategies if we hope to get different results.

People value different things, and that is valuable and looking at different ways to do things can help us adapt to a changing world.

Experience nothing – Visit Padasjoki, Finland. (Padasjoki.fi/fi)

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

Neuropathy can be a cause of extreme tiredness

An underlying problem affecting a main nerve or affecting many nerves can be a cause of tingling and numbness in the hands or arms and legs. An increased feeling of heaviness of the arms or legs or feeling tired from just holding the arms up in the air may be due to problems with the nerves rather than weakness of the muscles. Autoimmune disease or some nutrient deficiencies (vitamin B12 deficiency most common) can be causes of neuropathy, or nerve damage. Other common causes are mentioned later.

Autoimmune disease itself can be very tiring and a cause of muscle cramps and diffuse chronic pain and it could make it very hard to cope with a physically demanding job. Some types of nerve damage can become permanent but may be reversible if caught early enough and the underlying causes are corrected. Vitamin B12 may be poorly absorbed by elderly people or for others with digestive problems; a monthly injection of B12, bypassing the digestive system, is a common treatment.  Dissolve in the mouth supplements of B12, cobalamin, are also used sucessfully by some people. In Parkinson’s Disease neuropathy has been seen and “perhaps we should be measuring MMA levels in these patients and treating with cobalamin supplementation to reduce MMA levels and prevent neuropathy.” [4]

Recognizing when tiredness is tiredness and when it is due to underlying nerve damage may be a step that can help prevent the nerve damage from becoming more permanent paralysis or numbness. Neuropathy can also affect gland or organ function as well as affecting motion and sensation. Poor coordination can become a problem with walking or with picking up and not dropping things because they just slipped from your fingers. Symptoms may also include feeling moments of burning or stabbing pain and bowel and bladder problems may include constipation or feeling unable to urinate. [1]

Neuropathy may affect approximately 24 million people in the United States. [1]

Neuropathy is more of a risk for people with diabetes, about 30% of the cases are associated with diabetes. Heavy alcohol use and traumatic injury can also be causes. And autoimmune celiac disease, hypothyroidism and other immune system diseases and viral infections sometimes can be a cause. Some types of antibiotics, radiation and chemotherapy treatments may cause neuropathy. Some cases of neuropathy are present at birth. [1]

Since celiac disease may be a cause of neuropathy trying a gluten free diet may be worth trying, (and hypothyroidism can also be a cause of neuropathy and for some people that may also be due to or made worse by gluten sensitivity problems).

Not overeating sugars and simple starches in general may help prevent neuropathy from developing by promoting more stable blood sugar. Elevated levels of blood sugar may be part of the cause of nerve damage which would be especially important for diabetics who are more at risk for elevated levels: [3].

Hot pepper – and it’s active ingredient capsaicin may be helpful. It is available over the counter as an active ingredient in skin ointments made for pain relief for arthritis patients and others with chronic pain. Warm showers or a bath may also help circulation and muscle relaxation. Taking care with toenail health is important as numbness becomes more extreme and minor injuries may become infected and go unnoticed until they become major infections and are more visibly discolored or swollen. [1]

Of the 16 million Americans with diabetes, approximately, about 25% have foot problems due to peripheral neuropathy.  Peripheral nerves are those extending out from the brain or spinal cord to the muscles and organs and skin. Neuropathy can progress from feeling tingling sensations of ‘pins and needles’ in the fingertips to not being able to feel sensations of hot, cold or pain. [2]

Peripheral neuropathy has been known to occur with Parkinson’s disease, possibly due to treatment with L-dopa [4], or possibly as a side effect with another commonly used treatment, dopamine hydrochloride. [5] Dopamine producing cells become dysfunctional in Parkinson’s Disease. [6] Dopamine is a brain neurostransmitter involved in movement but it is also has roles in immune system function.

Adequate levels of dopamine are involved in preventing both autoimmune disease and cancer. Research that compared the lifestyles of family members with and without Parkinson’s Disease found that siblings without the disease were more likely to have been coffee drinkers (three or more cups per day) and were more likely to have smoked tobacco cigarettes. Smoking tobacco has negative health risks but it may help boost dopamine levels and may have some protective effects on the dopamine producing cells. [7]

Smoking tobacco may have protective effects for some people but not others due to underlying differences in genetics. Coffee intake has also been associated with less risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), [8] but again it may be helping those with a certain type of genetics and be a negative risk for people with other types of genes. Obesity and smoking cigarettes once a patient already has non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with the disease getting progressively worse. [9] Fructose, sugar from fruit or refined in the form of high fructose corn syrup, intake has also been associated with worsening of NAFLD. [10] And non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has been associated with neuropathy risk in patients with diabetes. [15] So protecting the liver might be helping protect the nerves at the same time.

Protecting liver function may be important for protecting against cancer. The herb milk thistle has been found to have some protective affects for the liver. [12] Cirrhosis of the liver is also associated with peripheral neuropathy so protecting the liver may also help protect the nervous system and brain and help prevent neuropathy from developing. [11]

Summary of tips for protecting against neuropathy:

  1. Stable blood sugar and not developing diabetes may help protect the nerves.
  2. Regular exercise and stretching and warm baths or showers and massage and other methods for increasing circulation may help protect the nerves.
  3. Not eating excessively of fructose or simple sugars may help prevent damage caused by glycation of proteins; and by helping prevent obesity or diabetes.
  4. Moderate use of coffee may help protect the liver from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and some types of liver disease have been associated with peripheral neuropathy.
  5. Dopamine or L-dopa when used as a medication to treat Parkinson’s Disease may be involved in development of peripheral neuropathy. Parkinson’s Disease involves dysfunctional production of dopamine so some other issue may be involved that causes peripheral neuropathy or it may be important to have adequate but not excessive levels of dopamine for health of the nerves.
  6. A deficiency of vitamin B12, also called cobalamin, can be non-reversible cause of peripheral neuropathy. [13]
  7. Smoking tobacco may have some protective affects against Parkinson’s Disease for some people but it has also been associated with worsening of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in patients who already have the disease. It is unclear at this time what genes may be involved in why some people seem less at risk from tobacco smoking than others – overall it has been found to be associated with lung cancer. Chemicals within smoke cause blood vessels to constrict and reduces circulation. It has been associated with worsening of diabetic peripheral neuropathy so quitting smoking may be more protective of nerves. While it may help boost dopamine levels there are many other healthy ways to boost dopamine naturally. [14]
  8. Following a gluten free diet may be helpful in preventing peripheral neuropathy for some people. If hypothyroidism is also a problem then trying a strict gluten free diet may be beneficial as it may be a cause of autoimmune sensitivities. Eating less gluten in that case would still be exposing the body to the autoimmune ‘allergen’ so a trial of a gluten free diet may have to be very strict and last several months to six months before significant health benefits occur (in research on autoimmune celiac disease it took six months on a very strict gluten free diet in order for the levels of autoimmune antibodies against gluten to be reduced — and (potentially) the thyroid hormone which the gluten molecule resembles.)

More information about dopamine and cancer and natural ways to raise dopamine levels are included in the group of Tweets mentioned in this Tweet, click to view the information on that site:

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. http://thelightmedia.com/posts/28389-neuropathy-12-ways-to-identify-and-manage-this-painful-disease
  2. http://www.foot.com/site/foot-conditions/neuropathy
  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycation
  4. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/725699
  5. http://www.ehealthme.com/ds/dopamine%20hydrochloride/neuropathy%20peripheral/
  6. http://justneurology.com/
  7. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11568-do-coffee-and-cigarettes-protect-against-parkinsons/
  8. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264995.php
  9. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hep.23516/full
  10. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100427081044.htm
  11. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/460036
  12. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/milk-thistle
  13. http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/supplement-guide-vitamin-b12#1
  14. http://mentalhealthdaily.com/2015/04/17/how-to-increase-dopamine-levels/
  15. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28254449