Moderation

The dose makes the poison” – attributed to Paracelsus , Swiss physician and chemist from about 500 years ago. The full quote: “All things are poison and nothing is without poison; only the dose makes a thing not a poison.” Even water and oxygen are poisonous in too large a dose. (1)

Modern chemicals are leading to different types of health problems than the classic understanding of toxicity which considers a substance toxic at the dose that would lead to death or cancer or a visible birth defect. One of the examples provided is BPA a chemical found in plastics and now in our environment which is considered safe in the traditional sense of toxicity – it doesn’t lead to cancer or death at small amounts however it may be acting as an endocrine disrupting chemical at very small doses. (1)

BPA acts as an estrogen receptor activator – estrogen is one of the main female hormones. At what dose of birth differences will society be concerned about the health of male infants? Endocrine disruptors including BPA are associated with differences in male sexual organs at birth. (2)

Returning to a research finding mentioned in the Vaping series (part 1, 2, 3), an experimental dose labeled Acute was 20 minutes of vape exposure each day for one week, and an experimental dose labeled chronic was 20 minutes of vape exposure for 3 weeks. (part 3, ref 4:17) Compared to what might be typical for a human both of those doses are pretty low. A human might smoke a half a pack of cigarettes per day – ten cigarettes taking minimally 5-10 minutes to smoke. Other humans might smoke a pack or two or even three packs per day.

A few humans might only smoke one or two cigarettes once a week during an evening out but that is less typical than the daily half a pack smoker. There may be some health benefits however in the smoking one or two during an evening out, if the time is going to be spent in a smoke filled environment. The lungs will increase protective layers of mucous to reduce entry of toxins when there is smoke exposure. Avoiding the smoke exposure altogether would be safest however.

Chronic cannabis smokers develop lung tissue that is less typical of lung tissue that is not chronically exposed to smoke. Emphysema was not associated with cannabis smoking at a rate much different than not smoking while tobacco smoking with or without use of cannabis was associated fairly closely for macroscopic emphysema risk. (3) Coughing, asthma, bronchitis may still remain risks from chronic smoking of cannabis. Infectious risks may also occur from use of water pipes or other types of pipes that aren’t cleaned regularly. (4)

Cleanliness and moderation – both are valuable. Moderation in all things is also valuable. The dose makes the poison whether smoking tobacco or cannabis, drinking water or alcohol, watching TV or playing video games or surfing the internet, even exercise can become a health risk if done excessively or in dangerous settings. Building up physical skills gradually can make exercise safer in various settings however building up a tolerance to some drugs or activities can just leave a person needing larger amounts to achieve the same dopamine excitement.

Dopamine is the main brain neurotransmitter for feelings of reward. Most major addictive substances cause an increase in dopamine directly (cocaine) or indirectly (most of the rest of common addictive substances) . See: Impacts of Drugs on Neurotransmission, (5), (7) It certainly would take less alcohol than water to harm someone or kill and tolerance can also develop to alcohol so more is needed to feel ‘drunk.’ Cocaine tolerance can build up to a point where the dopamine receptors no longer respond to other rewarding stimuli and the person may no longer feel pleasure except with increasing amounts of cocaine/crack.

In small amounts alcohol can have medicinal effects and reduce the stress of an emotional shock or physical trauma. That medicinal amount may be as small as a third of a typical serving size of alcohol, or up to one to two alcoholic beverage servings per day, for a smaller or larger adult. (G11: Alcohol) Often though, the problem is being able to stop at one or two alcoholic beverages as author James Thurber stated eloquently:

One martini is all right. Two are too many, and three are not enough.”

― James Thurber (died November 2, 1961)

Having an elevated stress level over time may make people more susceptible to addictive behavior. The stress response can become more likely to occur in the future when it has been chronically active in the past, as calming GABA activity is inhibited by the increased activity of dopamine receptors that occurs with stress or addictive behaviors. (12, 13, 14)

How much TV is too much TV? I heard recently on the radio that people in the U.S. spend on average 7000% more time watching TV than working on their finances – so we’re all financially stable then? Or most of us are behind on balancing the checkbook and planning for retirement? The number seems enormous, 7000%, in hours it means we are spending about 70 hours watching TV for every one hour spent looking into our financial health. See: Americans Spend 7000% more time watching TV than they do on their finances, by Brett Arends, (MarketWatch.com)

How much cellphone use is too much cellphone use? (8) That may involve more than dopamine over-stimulation. Chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields including from WiFi and TV sets may be increasing negative health symptoms beyond an addictive use of the electronic devices. Insurance company white papers have deemed the idea of 5G internet in urban areas as “High risk” with unknown health effects. (9) More than 180 scientists have appealed to the European Union to use caution regarding approving 5G installations which would need to be placed almost every block for reception rather than the current cellphone towers which are larger and can be placed at a farther distance from internet users. (10)

The effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields seems to be accumulative and infertility may result in just ten to fifteen years of exposure. Internet use throughout schools from grade school through highschool and college would be ten to fifteen years of exposure. How much infertility is too large a dose of infertility for a population to survive?

Research is limited and more is available about male infertility than effects on female fertility. Increased cellphone use (self-reported) was associated with decreased sperm count, sperm motility, viability and morphology (shape). Cell phone use was grouped into, No use, less than 2 hours per day, 2-4 hours per day, and greater than 4 hours per day. The researchers questioned the number of hours reported for use, however it has become fairly common to have your smartphone with you at all times – and that category – 24 hours per day, seven days per week was not included – and would represent living in a community with 5G installations. (page 257, 11)

Good news – meditation can help reduce the stress response (15), and while it might not help balance your checkbook, it may be a more beneficial way to increase dopamine levels than shopping or TV watching. (16)

Stay tuned for part two – moderation is too large a topic to take in one dose.

Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of Fair Use. It is not intended to provide individual guidance. Please seek a health care provider for individualized health care guidance.

Reference List

  1. The Dose Makes the Poison Concept, Toxicity, chemicalsafetyfacts.org, https://www.chemicalsafetyfacts.org/dose-makes-poison-gallery/
  2. Sathyanarayana S, Beard L, Zhou C, Grady R. Measurement and correlates of ano-genital distance in healthy, newborn infants. Int J Androl. 2010;33(2):317–323. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2605.2009.01044.x https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2943951/
  3. Aldington S, Williams M, Nowitz M, et al. Effects of cannabis on pulmonary structure, function and symptoms [published correction appears in Thorax. 2008 Apr;63(4):385]. Thorax. 2007;62(12):1058–1063. doi:10.1136/thx.2006.077081 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2094297/
  4. Marijuana “bong” pseudomonas lung infection: a detrimental recreational experience. Repirology Case Reports, Vol 6, Issue 2, Feb 2018, e00293 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/rcr2.293
  5. Impacts of Drugs on Neurotransmission, National Institute on Drug Abuse, drugabuse.gov, https://www.drugabuse.gov/news-events/nida-notes/2017/03/impacts-drugs-neurotransmission
  6. Brett Arends, Americans Spend 7000% more time watching TV than they do on their finances. marketwatch.com, Oct. 19, 2019 https://www.marketwatch.com/story/americans-spend-7000-more-time-watching-tv-than-they-do-on-their-finances-2019-10-18
  7. Yanofski J. The Dopamine Dilemma-Part II: Could Stimulants Cause Tolerance, Dependence, and Paradoxical Decompensation?. Innov Clin Neurosci. 2011;8(1):47–53. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3036556/
  8. De-Sola Gutiérrez J, Rodríguez de Fonseca F, Rubio G. Cell-Phone Addiction: A Review. Front Psychiatry. 2016;7:175. Published 2016 Oct 24. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00175 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5076301/
  9. 5G And The IOT: Scientific Overview Of Human Health Risks, Environmental Health Trust, https://ehtrust.org/key-issues/cell-phoneswireless/5g-networks-iot-scientific-overview-human-health-risks/
  10. EU 5G Appeal – Scientists warn of potential serious health effects of 5G. https://www.jrseco.com/european-union-5g-appeal-scientists-warn-of-potential-serious-health-effects-of-5g/
  11. Health Effects from Radiofrequency Eectromagnetic Fields, Report of the independent Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation, (AGNIR report, April 2012) Documents of the Health Protection Agency, https://www.ices-emfsafety.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/AGNIR_report_2012.pdf
  12. Sinha R. Chronic stress, drug use, and vulnerability to addiction. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008;1141:105–130. doi:10.1196/annals.1441.030 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2732004/
  13. Beas BS, Wright BJ, Skirzewski M, et al. The locus coeruleus drives disinhibition in the midline thalamus via a dopaminergic mechanism. Nat Neurosci. 2018;21(7):963–973. doi:10.1038/s41593-018-0167-4 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6035776/
  14. Van Bockstaele EJ, Reyes BA, Valentino RJ. The locus coeruleus: A key nucleus where stress and opioids intersect to mediate vulnerability to opiate abuse. Brain Res. 2010;1314:162–174. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2009.09.036 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3274960/
  15. Young SN. Biologic effects of mindfulness meditation: growing insights into neurobiologic aspects of the prevention of depression. J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2011;36(2):75–77. doi:10.1503/jpn.110010 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3044190/
  16. Kjaer TW, Bertelsen C, Piccini P, et al., Increased Dopamine Tone During Meditation-Induced Change of Consciousness. Cognitive Brain Research 13(2):255-9 · May 2002 https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11408344_Increased_Dopamine_Tone_During_Meditation-Induced_Change_of_Consciousness
  17. part 3, ref 4, Laube BL, Afshar-Mohajer N, Koehler K, et al. Acute and chronic in vivo effects of exposure to nicotine and propylene glycol from an E-cigarette on mucociliary clearance in a murine model. Inhal Toxicol. 2017;29(5):197–205. doi:10.1080/08958378.2017.1336585 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5553614/

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