Monday, November 10, 2008

Avoiding Excitotoxins

Why I am Excited about Excitotoxins

The Dark Side of Aspartame & Processed Food
When we buy processed food or eat out, we are exposing our bodies to hundreds of food additives. In this edition, I would like to highlight the problems associated with a group of additives knows as excitotoxins (named after their property of over-stimulating and injuring the nervous system).

Glutamate containing products (MSG and its chemical siblings) and aspartame are the two biggest groups of excitotoxins in our diet. They are associated with increasing the risk of obesity, cancer, seizures, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Depression.


Aspartame (i.e. Equal or NutraSweet™) is a sweetener made from two amino acids, phenylalanine and the aspartate. Common example include most diet soft drinks, sugar free gums, children’s' medications, and thousands of other products claiming to be 'low calorie', 'diet', or 'sugar free'. Aspartame related complaints accounts for approximately 70% of all complaints to the FDA and is implicated in everything from blindness to headaches to convulsions. The FDA has essentially ignored these concerns.

Not only can too much of the amino acids in Aspartame overstimute the brain, but once aspartame breaks down it produces several more toxic compounds:

1. DKP (diketopiperazine - chemically similar to a powerful brain tumor causing agent)
2. Formic Acid (i.e. ant venom)
3. Formaldehyde (i.e. embalming fluid)
4. Methanol (causes blindness in higher amounts)

MSG & Glutamates

While the presence of Aspartame is relatively easy to identify, MSG like compounds are much harder to spot. Restaurants and food processing companies have long known they can enhance taste and sales with monosodium glutatmate (MSG). A well known MSG Symptom Complex can involve numbness, a burning sensation, tingling, facial pressure or tightness, chest pain, headache, nausea, rapid heartbeat, drowsiness, and weakness. Those with asthma may experience these symptoms as well as difficulty in breathing.

Hidden Sources of MSG
Unfortunately, the excitotoxins that make MSG a problem are found in many sources that are not labeled as MSG. The glutamate (MSG) manufacturers are always on a mission to hide the MSG added to food. Below is a partial list of the most common names for hidden MSG:

According to Dr. Blaylock the following Food Additives that ALWAYS contain MSG *

Monosodium Glutamate
Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein
Hydrolyzed Protein
Hydrolyzed Plant Protein
Plant Protein Extract
Sodium Caseinate
Calcium Caseinate
Yeast Extract
Textured Protein (Including TVP)
Autolyzed Yeast
Hydrolyzed Oat Flour
Corn Oil

Also, remember that the powerful excitotoxins, aspartate and L-cysteine, are frequently added to foods and according to FDA rules require no labeling at all.

* Food Additives That FREQUENTLY Contain MSG *

Malt Extract
Malt Flavoring
Natural Flavors/Flavoring
Natural Beef Or Chicken Flavoring

* Food Additives That MAY Contain MSG Or Excitotoxins *

Soy Protein Concentrate
Soy Protein Isolate
Whey Protein Concentrate

Also: Protease Enzymes of various sources can release excitotoxin amino acids from food proteins.

Excitotoxins & Obesity
Animals exposed to MSG were found to be short, obese, and had difficulty with sexual reproduction. This appears to be related to a lesion in the hypothalamus (part of the brains’ appetite and metabolism center). Could the US epidemic of obesity be related to early exposure to food additive excitotoxins? Obesity associated with excitotoxin exposure is not necessarily related to the number of calories consumed. Sadly, many drink diet soda with aspartame (NutraSweet®) which like MSG is an excitotoxin and can produce obesity.

Excitotoxins & Cancer
Rats fed aspartame had a 25 x increase (2500% increase) chance of having brain tumors compared to rats that were on a normal diet. Several possibilities explain the high rate of cancer in these animals. One is that aspartame breaks down in the body into a substance called diketopiperizine or DKP, which chemically closely resembles a group of cancer-causing chemicals. aspartame also contains methanol, which breaks down in the body into formaldehyde and formic acid. Formaldehyde had been shown to accumulate near DNA, causing serious damage that is accumulative. That means that drinking even one diet cola a day can cause formaldehyde buildup in cells, so that the amount of the toxin increases daily.

Breast cancer - a new study on aspartame conducted by the Ramazzini Foundation demonstrated that aspartame causes an increase in cancers. There was a dose – dependent increase in lymphomas, leukemias and breast cancers when consumed at levels consumed by humans in diet soft drinks.
Excitotoxins like Aspartame & MSG can cause seizures, depression and addiction
Aspartame intake produces an unnatural amino acid balance. Unlike amino acids consumed in natural protein sources, aspartame gives large amounts of excitatory amino acids without the natural balance which protects the brain. Large doses of phenylalanine are toxic to the brain and aspartic acid acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain - stimulating the neurons in the brain to "fire." Both aspartic acid and phenylalanine cause the brain to get out of balance with the inhibitory amino acids. This imbalance can lower the threshold of seizures and cause depression. This altered brain chemistry may also be responsible for the addictive nature of aspartame.

Neurodegenerative diseases

Alzheimer's and autism and ADD and Parkinson's disease have increased dramatically. Why? Normally the brain is protected from toxins in the blood by the Blood Brain Barrier. MSG – Glutamates open the Blood Brain Barrier and create a highway for toxins like heavy metals and excitotoxins to damage our brains. When you add MSG to the diet, you add a toxin which dramatically increase the toxicity of other toxins in the environment and food.

Watch the 60 Minutes Video on MSG

Bottom line

The inconvenient truth is that the vast majority of what we eat needs to be unprocessed food. Buy organic meat, fruit, vegetables and grains and make most of our food at home.

We must definitely avoid all aspartame and diligently seek to avoid MSG containing products.

We need to eat out less and when we do we need to understand it is impossible to avoid all the glutamates used in the restaurant industry.

Finally, we should add supplements which help protect the brain against excitotoxins.

Magnesium – low magnesium dramatically increases MSG toxicity. I recommend taking take 400-1200 mg daily (back off if you get loose stools)

Other key players to protect against neurotoxins are: vitamin E, milk thistle, ginkgo biloba, curcumin (as in the Indian spice turmeric) and lithium Note the recommended dose for lithium is 5-15 mg a day and this can be ordered form the Tahoma Clinic (

If you are not eating the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables (at least 5 a day), I highly recommend fruit and vegetable capsules (2 fruit in the am, 2 vegetable caps in the pm). You can Order these caps on the website

Cell and Cordless Phones Increase Cancer rates 4-5 fold in Children, 50% in Adults

Cell and Cordless Phones Increase Cancer rates 4-5 fold in Children, 50% in Adults

Dear friends,

I have been watching this area for a while and I am now convinced that we must dramatically reduce our exposure to electromagnetic radiation from both cell and cordless phones. Future studies will help better define the exact risk but the time to take action is now. Much of the following was from Dr. Joseph Mercola and the recent World Health Organization report (see references below)

Swedish research was reported this month at the first international conference on mobile phones and health. Professor Hardell from Sweden told the conference: People who started mobile phone use before the age of 20 years old had more than five-fold increase in glioma.
Cordless phone use resulted in cancer rates that were four times higher than expected.

A glioma is a cancer of the glial cells that support the central nervous system. The concern is not limited to just cell phones. By contrast, people who were in their twenties before using handsets were only 50 per cent more likely to contract gliomas and just twice as likely to get acoustic neuromas.

Professor Hardell told the IoS: "This is a warning sign. It is very worrying. We should be taking precautions." He believes that children under 12 should not use mobiles except in emergencies and that teenagers should use hands-free devices or headsets and concentrate on texting. At 20 the danger diminishes because then the brain is fully developed. Indeed, he admits, the hazard to children and teenagers may be greater even than his results suggest, because the results of his study do not show the effects of their using the phones for many years. Most cancers take decades to develop, longer than mobile phones have been on the market. David Carpenter, dean of the School of Public Health at the State University of New York – who also attended the conference – said: "Children are spending significant time on mobile phones. We may be facing a public health crisis in an epidemic of brain cancers as a result of mobile phone use." According to a University of Washington scientist: 70 percent to 80 percent of the energy emitted from the antenna of a mobile phone is absorbed in your head. This expert was particularly concerned about kids using mobiles because their younger skulls are thinner and their growing brains much more susceptible to radiation exposure.

Last year, a scientific review of 11 studies found that using your cell phone for 10 years or longer will double your risk of getting a tumor on a nerve connecting your ear to your brain. And earlier this year Toronto's department of public health warned that because of possible side effects from radio frequency radiation, children under 8 should only use a cell phone in emergencies, and teenagers should limit calls to less than 10 minutes. An analysis of early unpublished data, some of which shows just how much higher the electromagnetic radiation absorption rates are in a 5- and 10-year-old’s brain versus that of an adult.

Electromagnetic radiation, the data shows, can penetrate almost straight through the entire brain of a 5-year-old child.

Use “Safer Cell” Practices for both cell and cordless phones

Children Should Never Use Cell Phones Barring a life-threatening emergency, children should not use a cell phone, or a wireless device of any type. Children are far more vulnerable to cell phone radiation than adults because of their thinner skull bones.

IF a child is going to use a cell phone, they need to at least use the speaker phone function or a safe headset, and keep the phone as far away from their body as possible.

Use a Corded Land Line at Home and Work

Do you remember corded phones? They work great when you are sitting & function during power outages.

Pregnant Women Should Also Avoid Cell PhonesWomen who use mobile phones when pregnant may be more likely to give birth to children with behavioral problems.

Use the Speaker Phone function. When I call I ask “do you have me on speaker mode?”Please do not let you loved ones keep a cell phone to their ear.

The most dangerous place to be, in terms of radiation exposure, is within about six inches of the emitting antenna. You do not want any part of your body within that area.

A cell phone that is on in our pocket may effect reproduction. A study showed abnormal sperm movement when exposed to cell phone emissions.

Turn Your Cell Phone Off When Not in Use. As long as your cell phone is on, it emits radiation intermittently, even when you are not actually making a call.

Use Your Cell Phone Only Where Reception is Good: The weaker the reception, the more power your phone must use to transmit, and the more power it uses, the more radiation it emits, and the deeper the dangerous radio waves penetrate into your body. Ideally, you should only use your phone with full bars and good reception.

Consider Safer Headset Technology: Wired headsets will certainly allow you to keep the cell phone farther away from your body. However, if a wired headset is not well-shielded -- and most of them are not -- the wire itself acts as an antenna attracting ambient information carrying radio waves and transmitting radiation directly to your brain. Make sure that the wire used to transmit the signal to your ear is shielded. The best kind of headset to use is a combination shielded wire and air-tube headset – They are called BlueTube (instead of BlueTooth). These operate like a stethoscope, transmitting the information to your head as an actual sound wave; although there are wires that still must be shielded, there is no wire that goes all the way up to your head. References:

Stevia - A Healthy Sweetener

What is Stevia?

Stevia is a fairly unassuming perennial shrub native to the northern regions of Paraguay. It has now been grown commercially in Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Central America, the United States, Israel, Thailand, England, Russia and China.

If you have not heard of Stevia – you will soon be seeing Stevia everywhere. Despite efforts to suppress Stevia from the US markets, Stevia has many natural qualities which make it ideal for sweetening:

Stevia is an all-natural sweetener that contains no chemicals

Stevia is up to 300x as sweet as sugar and has no calories

Unlike man-made sweetners which have a host of negative effects (i.e. Neutra-Sweet & Splenda), Stevia has a long history of use among millions in Paraguay, Japan and China without any health concerns

Stevia can be mixed with the natural alcohol sweetners Xylitol or Erythitol – allowing less of these to be used and avoid the gas or loose stools associated with the use of higher amounts

Studies indicate Stevia may lower blood pressure and blood sugar

Health & Political Controversy

A 1985 study reporting that steviol (a metabolite of Stevia) may be cancer causing; however, this study has been criticized on procedural grounds that the data were mishandled in such a way that even distilled water would appear mutagenic.

In 1991, at the request of an anonymous complaint, the United States Food and Drug Administration labeled stevia as an "unsafe food additive" and restricted its import. The FDA's stated reason was "toxicological information on stevia is inadequate to demonstrate its safety." This ruling was controversial because it violated the FDA's own guidelines under which any natural substance used prior to 1958 with no reported adverse effects should be generally recognized as safe (GRAS). Many have suspected that the real issue has been to protect the billion dollar interests in the sweetener industry – especially Splenda and Neutra-Sweet.

Recent Studies Support the Safety of Stevia and Even Point to Health Benefits
More recent studies have not shown any problems with Stevia and cancer. At least 1 animal study showed a stevia extract actually produce a decrease in breast tumors. The most recent studies bolster the safety record of steviol and its glycosides. In 2006, the World Health Organization (WHO) performed a thorough evaluation of recent experimental studies of stevia extracts conducted on animals and humans, and concluded that stevioside and rebaudioside A are not cancer causing.

The report also suggested the possibility of health benefits, in that "stevioside has shown some evidence of pharmacological effects in patients with hypertension or with type-2 diabetes" but concluded that further study was required to determine proper dosage.
Stevia remained banned until after the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act forced the FDA in 1995 to revise its stance to permit stevia to be used as a dietary supplement, although not as a food additive — a position that stevia proponents regard as contradictory because it simultaneously labels stevia as safe and unsafe, depending on how it is sold.

Today you can find Stevia in grocery stores everywhere but you may notice the word sweetener is often missing to comply with the FDA restrictions.
Bottom line: The best evidence available shows Stevia is Safe and may reduce blood sugar and blood pressure

Stevia may lower blood sugar
Studies have suggested it may be Stevia has been widely used for diabetes in South America and animal studies have had promising results. Studies report decreases in plasma glucose when stevia was taken in normal volunteers. Additional study is needed in this area to confirm these findings.

Stevia may lower blood pressure
Stevioside is a natural plant glycoside isolated from the plant Stevia rebaudiana, which has demonstrated blood pressure lowering effects. Despite evidence of benefits in some human studies and support from laboratory and animal studies, more research is warranted to compare stevia's effectiveness with the current standard of care and make a firm recommendation. Stevia appears to have no major side effects.

Stevia is Catching On
You can get Stevia at grocery stores and health food stores right now and you are going to see a lot more of it as major players are enter this field.

Cargill has begun marketing of Truvia, a no-calorie sweetener made from certain compounds in the leaves of stevia. Truvia is intended to provide a natural alternative to artificial sweeteners such as Sweet ‘N Low, Equal and Splenda. Since Truvia is made only with compounds from the stevia plant, it can be legally used as a natural sweetener