June 6, 2012 @ 10:00 AM
The Marilyn Denis Show
exerpt from The Antioxidant Prescription by Bryce Wylde
A “biomarker” is a substance in our bodies or other observable change that indicates an underlying state of health or disease—the presence of antibodies that suggest a present or recent infection, or sugar in the urine, indicating the possibility of diabetes. In some cases, a biomarker may point to a disease before the disease itself appears. Familiar examples are blood lipid levels—cholesterol and triglycerides—used by doctors to assess the risk of future heart disease.
If free radical activity is at the root of all disease, it’s hardly surprising that free radical activity reveals itself in a wide variety of biomarkers. Conversely, if an antioxidant improves specific biomarkers, that antioxidant may also improve the quality of life—and longevity—of individuals. For practitioners of natural medicine, the biomarkers of greatest interest are those that suggest susceptibility to a disease. Our bodies, like our cars, have warning lights. If, when your oil warning light flashed, your first impulse was to open the hood and disconnect the annoying thing and then chug on down the highway, the result would be a disaster—for the car. Biomarkers can be the flashing signs of compromised body systems. We must know how to read these signs.
First, Take a Good Look at Yourself
Our bodies offer an array of biomarkers that require no lab tests at all; they’re observable physical signs of free radical stress that may signal a risk of potential illnesses requiring antioxidant treatment.
Hair, skin and nails play a particularly telltale role because they are affected over time by your state of health—influenced by your blood antioxidant and free radical levels—and then of course they stay around long enough to tell a story.
In each of the visible biomarkers I list below, I suggest a possible cause related to excessive free radical activity and suggest a counterbalancing antioxidant supplement. (We’ll look at these supplements in more detail in Chapter Ten, “Your Personal Antioxidant Supplement Plan.”)
If your hair has lost its shine, free radicals from the environment are attacking the hair protein and its natural oils. Although this is not dangerous, it is an indication that you are low on essential fatty acids. You should certainly be supplementing your diet with essential fatty acids such as fish oil.
Are you greying prematurely? This may suggest free radical attack on the pigment of your hair follicles. Take 500 mg of para amino benzoic acid twice daily and cut down on refined carbohydrates.
Is your hair is falling out? Free radicals may be attacking your thyroid. Here is where a doctor’s help is necessary. Ask your doctor to test your blood for the hypersensitive form of thyrotropin (TSH), thyroxine (free T4) and triiodothyronine (free T3). Depending on your test outcome, you may want to start taking the antioxidant set of B vitamins (as a 50 mg complex taken twice daily with food) and the amino acid tyrosine (750 mg twice daily on an empty stomach).
Some people’s fingernails show lots of white spots. Free radicals may be using up excess zinc in their immune system and causing them to be zinc deficient. If you don’t have reason to believe that the white marks came by way of injury, supplement your diet with zinc citrate (10 mg a day taken with food).
If you have vertical ridges (called “Beau’s lines”) in your nails, your digestive enzymes—especially hydrochloric acid—may be low or you’re taking too high a dose of antacid medicine. Enzyme imbalance can cause free radical buildup. Later in the chapter, we’ll look at easy ways to have your digestive enzymes checked.
If your nails break easily, free radicals may be attacking your protein. Take the antioxidant amino acids glutathione (1,000 mg twice daily on an empty stomach) and NAC (500 mg twice daily on an empty stomach) and try the mineral silica in liquid form (5 mg once daily).
Warts are caused by a virus that also causes free radicals to bombard your immune system. Take a combination of vitamin A (10,000 IU a day) and beta-carotene (20,000 IU a day) with food.
If you have dry hands, you’ll be interested to know that inflammation caused by frequent weather changes can cause free radical accumulation. Use lots of hand cream, wear gloves in the winter and increase your fish intake—especially deep-water fish such as fresh or canned wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, farmed rainbow trout, albacore tuna, Atlantic mackerel, black cod or farmed arctic char. These fish are among the healthiest you can eat; they are relatively clean and free of chemicals and heavy metals.
Rosacea is a rash affecting the face and chest. Often food sensitivities can cause immune responses and free radical attack in the vessels of your face and chest. When your rosacea is caused by this, vitamin B2, or riboflavin, at up to 5 mg twice daily, ideally as part of a B-complex, will possibly clear this condition up.
If you find that cuts heal slowly, it’s a good guess that free radicals are beating up your immune system. You're probably low on vitamin C and zinc. A supplement of about 500 mg of esterified vitamin C, with a therapeutic dose of 10 mg of zinc citrate daily with food, will improve your healing.
Easy bruising indicates a deficiency of bioflavonoid antioxidants such as those supplied in berries, cherries and grapes. Taking extra vitamin C can remedy this and certainly do no harm.
If you’ve developed dark brown elbows, you need B-complex vitamins.
Excessive stretch marks may be a sign that you’re deficient in vitamin A. I might suggest that you try a combination of vitamin A (10,000 IU a day) and beta-carotene (20,000 IU a day) with food.
Spontaneous nosebleeds suggest your blood vessels have high levels of free radicals, either from repeated injury or perhaps due to fragile capillaries. Either way, increase your antioxidant levels with 500 mg of vitamin C and bioflavonoids fruits such as berries, cherries and grapes.
Do your gums bleed frequently? Perhaps you just don’t floss enough. On the other hand, free radicals may be at the root of a chronic infection. Take the remarkable antioxidant coenzyme Q10 (more on that in Chapter Ten), and don’t forget to take more vitamin C.
Dark circles under your eyes could be genetic, but the antioxidant methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), when applied topically, may help. You may also need iron and B12. Ask your doctor to check your blood for signs of anemia, and consult with him or her about iron dosages.
Poor night vision is a sign that your eyes are being hit hard by free radicals caused by sunlight and aging. You’ll need optimal levels of vitamin A and beta-carotene at the dosages I mentioned above in the section “Skin.”
If the whites of your eyes are turning yellow, your liver may not be functioning well and your free radical levels are likely very high. Time to do a simple cleanse or perhaps even the sort of structured detoxification I’ll describe later. Support your liver function using the body’s strongest antioxidant, glutathione. Even though glutathione isn’t easily absorbed in pill form, I would nonetheless recommend a dose of 1,000 mg twice daily on an empty stomach. It wouldn’t hurt to add some dandelion and milk thistle either. Both should be taken as herbal tinctures (liquid extracts) in standardized form. Ask your health-care provider for a personalized dosage and recommended length of treatment.
Cracks at the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis) can signify free radical attack on the metabolic system called methylation, which can indicate heart disease in the making. Take a 50 mg vitamin B complex that includes folic acid and B12, and have your doctor look at your iron and B12 blood levels at your next checkup
Mouth ulcers are often a sign that inflammatory free radicals are causing protein tissue destruction. Use the antioxidant power of amino acids l-glutamine and l-lysine (each at 500 mg twice daily on an empty stomach).
If you’re experiencing a diminishment of taste or smell, free radicals may be building up due to allergies and the constant release of histamine. Take extra zinc in order to help other antioxidants clear the inflammation.
Inflamed gums that bleed easily are helped by the antioxidant power of vitamin C. Take it to “bowel tolerance,” a concept I’ll explain a little later in this chapter in the section “The Vitamin C Test.”
Inflexibility of fingers could be the result of free radical attack causing arthritis. The antioxidant MSM at 1,000 mg twice daily will help, along with vitamin B6 at 100 mg per day.
If your body temperature is chronically elevated or depressed, this could be your thyroid acting up, a sign that your immune system is being attacked by free radicals. It may respond to an increase in your intake of antioxidant vitamin A.
A deep diagonal line across the earlobe has long been recognized as a signal of potential heart problems. Protect yourself from cardiovascular disease by taking your antioxidant powerhouses, vitamins A, C and E, and selenium—the “ACES” of antioxidant therapy. Add CoQ10 to this mix and you’ll be well protected. More about recommended dosages in Chapter Ten.
This list could be a lot longer, but I hope the message is still clear: excessive free radical presence in our bodies reveals itself in many ways before it results in serious disease. If we only take the trouble to observe our own biomarkers and respond with appropriate antioxidant measures, we can redress the balance. Let’s look now beyond these more obvious signs to tests that you can perform at home.
With recent advances in medical technology, we no longer have to wait until we can see visual markers. We can act to restore the balance before we can see the signs of actual damage by accurately testing our bodies for free radical levels using blood and urine samples. Armed with this knowledge, we can modify our diets and lifestyles to minimize the damage caused by nutritional short comings, deficiencies, and free radicals.