by D U A N E L A W, L. A c. | ( 3 1 0 ) 4 9 8 – 2 7 7 7 

by DUANE LAW, L.Ac. | (310) 498-2777 

(Part Two of a series on how I helped Dad keep his mind. Here’s parts One and Three.)


hey say good fences make good neighbors. Well then even more so: cell walls.

Cell walls are barriers. Functioning barriers keep what we want out, out, and what we want to keep in, in. This lets us get things done … like make a home. Or a smoothly-functioning brain cell.

Inflammation (and the process that inflames us once it really gets going, oxidative stress) chews away at our cell walls like termites working on wood framing. We might not notice much at first. Eventually doors start to stick and cracks appear in the plaster. Left to themselves those cracks become holes. Ceilings start to sag.

No one with better options wants to live in a house with holes in the walls. Yet when we expose ourselves to large quantities of poisonous pro-oxidant free radicals like agricultural toxins, household chemicals, common air pollutants, heavy metals … essentially we’re poking holes in the cells of our walls. Eating away slowly at the two by fours behind the plaster.

So what can we do?

Well … one thing we can do to even up the odds a bit is by upping our antioxidant consumption. Fresh fruits, vegetables, hearty, interesting salads built on a base of dark fresh greens. The antioxidants in fresh food are natural molecular fire retardants to the burning in our brains.1,2,3,4

Eat the rainbow. The richer the color mix in your food, the broader mix of phytonutrients and antioxidants you’ll enjoy.

We may or may not notice it in ourselves.

Excellent chance those around us will.

Chronic low-grade inflammation from environmental exposures, toxic food choices or simple stress does much the same thing to us that coming down with a flu does. We don’t want to be around people. We’re grumpy and grouchy. Or worse.5,6,7,8


Some Excellent Research Scientists Appear To Be Lousy Nutritionists

Like anything else, it’s easy to work this nutrition/inflammation angle badly.

There are some mistakes it takes a PhD to make.

One of the favorite approaches of researchers uninformed about nutrition best practices is to test one single nutrient at a time. Money talks in medical research just like anywhere else, and it’s always easy to do anything badly.9

This can reverse nutrients’ normal effects or even overload downstream metabolic steps, creating side effects very different from the nutrients’ action at the right dose for an individual.

That’s another problem: research studies typically use the same dosages on everyone, whereas best practice nutrition work adjusts the dose to the response. Some people need dozens of times more B vitamins than others, for example.

The body’s a complex phenomenon reliant on multiple nutrition inputs. So complex formulas of lower-potency nutrients working as a team are most often what we need to get reliable results.10,11,12,13

Even so … there are many single-nutrient studies that show benefits. Just not all of them. Guess which ones we tend to see in the news.

That said … antioxidants do specialize:

  • Alpha-lipoic acid protects brains14,15,16,17 and peripheral nerves: it’s a specific for arresting and sometimes reversing diabetic neuropathy.18,19,20,21
  • Vitamin E can lower blood pressure in some individuals when consumed in the right form and in adequate quantities over long periods of time, helps the heart, kidneys and brain.22,23,24,25 Be sure to get the kind with mixed tocotrienols.26
  • Super-oxide dismutase (SOD) protects joints.27,28,29
  • N-acetyl-cysteine and liposomal glutathione30 feed phase II detox pathways, lowering inflammation everywhere.31,32,33

Precisely because each antioxidant has its own specialty while inflammation is frequently global, things seem to go best when we get an array of antioxidants (and more) working as a team.34 So since inflamed brain cells don’t work so well, we layered on the antioxidants for Dad.

  • In addition to protecting nerves35 alpha-lipoic acid also helps tune up the “powerplants” in our brain’s neurons, the mitochondria. These tiny, moist, soft structures are easily damaged by inflammation’s oxidative stress.36,37,38 At the same time, since they are our cells’ powerplants they’ll generate a lot of their own oxidative “exhaust” waste. That makes alpha-lipoic acid a great biochemical “patch” for a weak point in the system.39
  • Vitamin E’s been shown to protect against cognitive decline.40,41,42 It also thins the blood so Dad was able to reduce his daily dose of anti-clotting meds (something to always remember when considering vitamin E supplements for older people.)43,44
  • CoQ10 helped stabilize his congestive heart failure45,46,47,48 and probably his brain circulation as well.49,50
  • Lots of vitamin C helped keep his immunity strong51,52,53 while also preserving his connective tissue.54,55
  • Resveratrol stabilized circulation and the brain.56,57
  • Zeaxanthin, lutein and astaxanthin to preserve his eyesight.58,59
  • Quercetin to help control his allergic reactions.60,61

Early on we did this with pills. Later we realized it was much easier on him to make berry smoothies, blend the vitamins in with it and get Dad’s nutrients in that way.

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 2. Bagchi D, Garg A, Krohn RL, et al. “Protective effects of grape seed proanthocyanidins and selected antioxidants against TPA-induced hepatic and brain lipid peroxidation and DNA fragmentation, and peritoneal macrophage activation in mice.” 1998. Gen Pharmacol. 30(5):771-6.

 3. Frautschy SA, Hu W. “Phenolic anti-inflammatory antioxidant reversal of Abeta-induced cognitive deficits and neuropathology.Neurobiol Aging.. 2001. 22(6):993-1005.

 4. Ishige K, Schubert D, Sagara Y. “Flavonoids protect neuronal cells from oxidative stress by three distinct mechanisms.Free Radic Biol Med. 30(4):433-46.

 5. Frick LR, Williams K, Pittenger C. “Microglial dysregulation in psychiatric disease.Clin Dev Immunol. 2013:608654.

 6. Attwells S, Setiawan E. “Inflammation in the Neurocircuitry of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.JAMA Psychiatry. 2017. 74(8):833-840.

 7. Sharon G, Sampson TR. “The Central Nervous System and the Gut Microbiome.Cell. 2016 167(4):915-932.

 8. Ramirez K, Fornaguera-Trías J, Sheridan JF. “Stress-Induced Microglia Activation and Monocyte Trafficking to the Brain Underlie the Development of Anxiety and Depression.Curr Top Behav Neurosci. 2017. 31:155-172.

 9. Bernard ND, Willet WC, Ding EL. “The Misuse of Meta-analysis in Nutrition Research.JAMA. 2017.12083.

10. Martin Pall interviewed by Jeffrey Bland. “Chronic Fatigue and Inflammation.Functional Medicine Update: March, 1999.

11. Dai F, Chen WF, Zhou B. “Antioxidant synergism of green tea polyphenols with alpha-tocopherol and L-ascorbic acid in SDS micelles.Biochimie. 2008. 90(10):1499-505.

12. Liu RH. “Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combinations of phytochemicals.Am J Clin Nutr. 2003. 78(3 Suppl):517S-520S.

13. Cao G, Russell RM, Lischner N, Prior RL. “Serum antioxidant capacity is increased by consumption of strawberries, spinach, red wine or vitamin C in elderly women.J Nutr. 1998. 128(12):2383-90.

14. D’Mello F, Braidy N. “Cytotoxic Effects of Environmental Toxins on Human Glial Cells.Neurotox Res. 2017. 31(2):245-258.

15. Kaisar MA, Prasad S, Cucullo L. “Protecting the BBB endothelium against cigarette smoke-induced oxidative stress using popular antioxidants: Are they really beneficial?Brain Res. 2015. 1627:90-100.

16. Bobermin LD, Wartchow KM, et al. “Ammonia-induced oxidative damage in neurons is prevented by resveratrol and lipoic acid with participation of heme oxygenase 1.Neurotoxicology. 2015. 49:28-35.

17. Kuhla A, Ludwig SC, Kuhla B, Münch G, Vollmar B. “Advanced glycation end products are mitogenic signals and trigger cell cycle reentry of neurons in Alzheimer’s disease brain.Neurobiol Aging. 2015. 36(2):753-61.

18. Várkonyi T, Körei A, Putz Z. “Advances in the management of diabetic neuropathy.Minerva Med. 2017. 108(5):419-437.

19. Desideri I, Francolini G, Becherini C, et al. “Use of an alpha lipoic, methylsulfonylmethane and bromelain dietary supplement (Opera®) for chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy management, a prospective study.Med Oncol. 2017. 34(3):46.

20. Ziegler D, Low PA, Freeman R, Tritschler H, Vinik AI. “Predictors of improvement and progression of diabetic polyneuropathy following treatment with α-lipoic acid for 4 years in the NATHAN 1 trial.J Diabetes Complications. 2016. 30(2):350-6.

21. Rochette L, Ghibu S, Muresan A, Vergely C. “Alpha-lipoic acid: molecular mechanisms and therapeutic potential in diabetes.Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2015. 93(12):1021-7.

22. Saul, A. “Shute Vitamin E Treatment Protocol.

23. Saul, A. “Three Vitamins Fight Heart Disease.” 2005.

24. Wong SK, Chin KY, et al. “Vitamin E As a Potential Interventional Treatment for Metabolic Syndrome: Evidence from Animal and Human Studies.Front Pharmacol. 2017 Jul 5;8:444.

25. Ahmad KA, Yuan Yuan D, Nawaz W. “Antioxidant therapy for management of oxidative stress induced hypertension.Free Radic Res. 2017. 51(4):428-438.

26. Cheng HS, Ton SH, Tan JBL, Abdul Kadir K. “The Ameliorative Effects of a Tocotrienol-Rich Fraction on the AGE-RAGE Axis and Hypertension in High-Fat-Diet-Fed Rats with Metabolic Syndrome.Nutrients. 2017. 9(9):984.

27. McCord J. “Free Radicals and Inflammation: Protection of Synovial Fluid by Superoxide Dismutase.Science. 1974. 185(4150):529-531.

28. Baunthiyal M, Singh V, Dwivedi S. “Insights of Antioxidants as Molecules for Drug Discovery.Int. Journal of Pharmacology. 2017. (13)7:874-889.

29. Srivastava S, Singh D, Patel S, Singh MR. “Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis by targeting macrophages through folic acid tailored superoxide dismutase and serratiopeptidase.J Drug Delivery Science and Tech. 2017. 41:431-435.

30. Best for those with CBS SNPs, impacting their ability to process the sulphur compounds essential to Stage II detox pathways. (“SNP” stands for single-nucleotide-polymorphism, a polite word for “mutation.” Since the word mutation implies a defect and since it now seems that genetic uniquenesses can confer strengths as well as weaknesses, SNP has become the preferred term.)

31. Kashiwakura JI, Ando T, Kawakami T. “Role of Histamine-releasing Factor in Allergic Inflammatory Reactions.Yakugaku Zasshi. 2017. 137(5):517-521.

32. Lee HS, Park T. “Pathway-Driven Approaches of Interaction between Oxidative Balance and Genetic Polymorphism on Metabolic Syndrome.Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2017:6873197.

33. Hughes MM, McGettrick AF, O’Neill LA. “Glutathione and Glutathione Transferase Omega 1 as Key Posttranslational Regulators in Macrophages.Microbiol Spectr. 2017. Jan;5(1)

34. Bland, J. Functional Medicine Update. 1997. (16)1. 39:52-45:01

35. Li DW, Wang YD, Zhou SY, Sun WP. “α-lipoic acid exerts neuroprotective effects on neuronal cells by upregulating the expression of PCNA via the P53 pathway in neurodegenerative conditions.Mol Med Rep. 2016. 14(5):4360-4366.

36. Velauthapillai N, Barfett J. “Antioxidants Taken Orally prior to Diagnostic Radiation Exposure Can Prevent DNA Injury.” J Vasc Interv Radiol. 2017. 28(3):406-411.

37. Ajith TA, Padmajanair G. “Mitochondrial Pharmaceutics: A New Therapeutic Strategy to Ameliorate Oxidative Stress in Alzheimer’s Disease.Curr Aging Sci. 2015. 8(3):235-40.

38. Pocernich CB, Lange ML, Sultana R, Butterfield DA. “Nutritional approaches to modulate oxidative stress in Alzheimer’s disease.Curr Alzheimer Res. 2011. 8(5):452-69./p>

39. Fogarty MC, Devito G, Hughes CM, et al. “Effects of α-lipoic acid on mtDNA damage after isolated muscle contractions.Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013. 45(8):1469-77.

40. Basambombo LL, Carmichael PH, Côté S, Laurin D. “Use of Vitamin E and C Supplements for the Prevention of Cognitive Decline.Ann Pharmacother. 2017. 51(2):118-124.

41. Tucker KL. “Nutrient intake, nutritional status, and cognitive function with aging.Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016. 1367(1):38-49.

42. Remington R, Bechtel C, Larsen D. “Maintenance of Cognitive Performance and Mood for Individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease Following Consumption of a Nutraceutical Formulation: A One-Year, Open-Label Study.J Alzheimers Dis. 2016. 51(4):991-5.

43. Aoun B, Janssen-Lozinska Y, Ulinski T. “Effect of vitamin E coated dialyzers on anticoagulation requirement in hemodialyzed children.Saudi J Kidney Dis Transpl. 2010. 21(3):466-70.

44. akaltcheva I, Gyimah D, Reid T. “Effects of alpha-tocopherol on platelets and the coagulation system.Platelets. 2001. 12(7):389-94.

45. Sheeran FL, Pepe S. “Mitochondrial Bioenergetics and Dysfunction in Failing Heart.Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017. 982:65-80.

46. Kligler B, Teets R, Quick M. “Complementary/Integrative Therapies That Work: A Review of the Evidence.Am Fam Physician. 2016. 94(5):369-74.

47. Jankowski J, Korzeniowska K, Cieślewicz A, Jabłecka A. “Coenzyme Q10 – A new player in the treatment of heart failure?Pharmacol Rep. 2016. 68(5):1015-9.

48. Mortensen SA, Rosenfeldt F, Kumar A. “The effect of coenzyme Q10 on morbidity and mortality in chronic heart failure: results from Q-SYMBIO: a randomized double-blind trial.JACC Heart Fail. 2014. 2(6):641-9.

49. Bortolato B, Miskowiak KW, Köhler CA. “Cognitive remission: a novel objective for the treatment of major depression?BMC Med. 2016. 14:9.

50. Chaturvedi RK, Flint Beal M. “Mitochondrial diseases of the brain.” Free Radic Biol Med. 2013. 63:1-29.

51. Pauling, L. Vitamin C, the Common Cold, and the Flu. 1976. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman./p>

52. Kim H, Jang M, Kim Y, et al. “Red ginseng and vitamin C increase immune cell activity and decrease lung inflammation induced by influenza A virus/H1N1 infection.J Pharm Pharmacol. 2016. 68(3):406-20.

53. Sorice A, Guerriero E, Capone F, et al. “Ascorbic acid: its role in immune system and chronic inflammation diseases.Mini Rev Med Chem. 2014. 14(5):444-52.

54. Wendt MD1, Soparkar CN, Louie K, Basinger SF, Gross RL, et al. “Ascorbate stimulates type I and type III collagen in human Tenon’s fibroblasts.J Glaucoma. 1997. 6(6):402-7.

55. Nusgens BV, Humbert P, Rougier A, et al. “Topically applied vitamin C enhances the mRNA level of collagens I and III, their processing enzymes and tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase 1 in the human dermis.J Invest Dermatol. 2001. 116(6):853-9.

56. Sawda C, Moussa C, Turner RS. “Resveratrol for Alzheimer’s disease.Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2017. 1403(1):142-149.

57. Jeong SI, Shin JA, Cho S, et al. “Resveratrol attenuates peripheral and brain inflammation and reduces ischemic brain injury in aged female mice.Neurobiol Aging. 2016. 44:74-84.

58. Jia YP, Sun L, Yu HS, Liang LP, et al. “The Pharmacological Effects of Lutein and Zeaxanthin on Visual Disorders and Cognition Diseases.Molecules. 2017. 22(4):610.

59. Age-Related Eye Disease Study 2 (AREDS2) Research Group. “Secondary analyses of the effects of lutein/zeaxanthin on age-related macular degeneration progression: AREDS2 report No. 3.JAMA Ophthalmol. 2014. 132(2):142-9.

60. Ariano R. “Efficacy of a novel food supplement in the relief of the signs and symptoms of seasonal allergic rhinitis and in the reduction of the consumption of anti-allergic drugs.Acta Biomed. 2015. 86(1):53-8.

61. Weng Z, Zhang B, Asadi S, et al. “Quercetin is more effective than cromolyn in blocking human mast cell cytokine release and inhibits contact dermatitis and photosensitivity in humans.PLoS One. 2012. 7(3):e33805.

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