Practical Strategies for Dental Health

thanks to 3dchem.comThis brief article provides a summary of practical strategies for achieving and maintaining good tooth-health. Since this blog is not health focused per say the article heavily references other articles and blogs but aims towards including all basic information needed for good dental health inline. It is important to note that teeth are in a constant cycle of re-mineralization which is why that, contrary to popular belief, cavities can re-seal, and more importantly do not need to occur in the first place.

Now lets get down with the data. The linked material often contains tool-tips with further information so do allow the mouse to hover before it clicks. A number of the links associated to Vitamin K2 MK-4 points towards material referenced from Winston Price who worked with a formula knows as Activator X, it has been confirmed to actually be Vitamin K2 MK-4 in 2007 by Chris Masterjohn. While most studies have been done on the MK-4 variant I have personally found a vitamin K complex to be of more benefit against dental plaque (I’m not the only one),  see recommended products at end of article for specifics.

Diet & Supplementation

To avoid

  1. No sugar (causes bacteria, lactobacillus and streptococcus mutans mainly, to digest sugars and break them down into acid that destroys enamel and allows cavities to form)
  2. No wheat (phytic acid causes extra excretion of phosphorus which in essence means loss of teeth mineralization material. Also gluten sensitivity causes mal-absorption of minerals in many people)
  3. Preferably no nuts (again phytic acid)
  4. No soft drinks (same issues as with sugar, only worse due to phosphoric acid which causes even more acidity and is linked to lower bone density)

To include

  1. Vitamin D (even without major diet change Vit. D is able to shift balance towards more cavities being healed than being formed, it promotes absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the gut which is essential because tooth enamel is primarily made out of hydroxylapatite; a crystalline  calcium phosphate)
  2. Vitamin K1, K2 MK-4 & MK-7 (helps all bone and teeth health via improved calcium bonding and balances and activates the effects of Vitamin D and A, it also seems to eradicate bacteria and changes saliva from phosphorus-accepting to phosphorus-donating, meaning that your own spit starts maintaining teeth enamel instead of gradually breaking it down).
  3. Omega 3 (1.5 times less occurrence of periodontal disease)
  4. Rosemary (stabilizes Omega 3 oils in the body to avoid oils becoming rancid & provides anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and interestingly, anti-glycation effects, see recommendations below on how to prepare soundly and cheaply)
  5. Xylitol (intake routinely linked to lower incidence of cavities through anti-bacterial and alkalizing effects)

As a general guide adequate amounts of magnesium, calcium and vitamin A and vitamin C (non-acid source preferred, such as sodium ascorbate) needs to be present in the diet for vitamin D and K to work their magic. Supplement these conservatively if in doubt.

edit: post still missing dose recommendations, will be added shortly

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The Human Hormonal Systems

Most of us will equate the human hormonal system with the endocrine, blood vessel, hormone system. A closer look will reveal a close interrelationship between 2 vastly different hormone systems; the autocrine (also at times referred to as the paracrine*) and the endocrine. From a health perspective it pays off to know these systems a bit more in detail which is what this article will focus on. Common characteristics of the two systems include that they both depend on hormone receptors; a receptor is “a receptor protein on the surface of a cell […] that binds to a specific hormone”.

*not strictly true – paracrine hormones can communicate between different types of cells whereas autocrine only work on similar types

We will start with the autocrine system since this makes sense in evolutionary perspective; it came first into existence. It is worthwhile to note that several hormones, for an example acetylcholine, are functioning (and synthesized) in both hormonal domains. The description of both systems includes a standardized ending named “Health Perspectives”, while this section is of course written to be relevant to each of the hormonal systems it is reasonable to infer that something that enhances one system will in essence also help balance the other.

Autocrine Hormone System

This system is characterized by its local cellular function. It basically involves one, or multiple, cell(s) releasing locally acting hormones. By “locally acting” I mean that the hormones released will return to act either on the originator cell or its immediate neighbors.  Autocrine hormones do not enter the bloodstream. Since these hormones are the ‘base unit’ of cellular communication they have the power to ‘overrule’ the effects of endocrine hormones – as a metaphor think about them as neighbors or close friends; what they say will most often matter vastly more than any message you may get off the internet (at least short-term).

Example of compound(s) or drug(s) that modifies the activity of the Autocrine system

An excellent, and mass publicized, example of a autocrine activity modifier is aspirin which temporarily disables the two enzymes COX-1 and COX-2 that are essential to the production of a number of the autocrine prostanoid hormones. The good news is that COX-2 repression quells inflammation (and thus helps protect against everything from cancer to arthritis) while COX-1 repression helps stop the production of thromboxanes, which otherwise promote (at times fatal) blood clotting. The bad news is that new study reviews are showing that the increase in bleeding related accidents by supplementing with aspirin makes it so that this practice in essence only makes sense for people who have already suffered from heart-related problems.

Examples of Autocrine hormones

Eicosanoids (“derive[d] from either omega-3 (ω-3) or omega-6 (ω-6) EFAs. The ω-6 eicosanoids are generally pro-inflammatory; ω-3’s are much less so […] with effects on cardiovascular disease, triglycerides, blood pressure, and arthritis“) [source]

Cytokines (“[derived from] proteins, peptides, or glycoproteins. [They are] substances that are secreted by specific cells of the immune system [in the] general region of the pathogen infected cells, so other immune molecules which follow the signal will arrive at that site”) and they hold a (“possible role in […] autoimmune disorders. Several inflammatory cytokines are induced by oxidant stress. The fact that cytokines, themselves trigger the release of other cytokines and lead also to increased oxidant stress, makes them important in chronic inflammatory disorders.”) [source]

Health Perspective

Omega 3 fatty acids are undeniably a very subtle, efficient and proven way of positively helping the autocrine system do its job. Also, should a pro-inflammatory cycle in the autocrine system already be present then a number of compounds, such as Turmeric (Curcumin), are perfectly able to help short-circuit the negative loop by manipulating the expression of inflammatory autocrine factors downwards.

Endocrine Hormone System

Human Endocrine Glands

Human Endocrine Glands

The endocrine system is characterized by its use of the blood system as communication highway for all its hormonal activity. The system has its control unit in the form of the hypothalamus (located in the middle of the brain) which, via the pituitary gland (which is in direct control with the blood stream), links the endocrine system (7 hormonal glands) up with the nervous system. This system lends itself well to illustration so have a look at included image (modified CC licensed image from Wikipedia) for reference.

In essence the hypothalamus gets incoming data in the form of feedback (via both communication via the nervous system and by sampling the amount of hormones in the bloodstream) from another gland that says “enough” or “more” of a given hormone which it uses to regulate production.

Endocrine sets of hormones are often functioning in axis setups; a famous, and often felt, example is the hormonal glucagoninsulin axis. In order for people to be fully functional and awake these two hormones needs to be in balance within a relatively small window. Insulin drives blood glucose down while glucagon drives it up. If we eat moderate amounts of carbohydrate in conjunction with protein then the pancreas uses these two hormones to keep the blood-glucose level within a very tight window. Should we overeat carbohydrate then the blood-glucose will go up a lot, eventually causing a strong release of insulin to drive it back down, this time however, the pancreas will not be able to stop the falling blood-glucose levels because protein is required for glucagon synthesis – result is that we get sleepy after over-eating for example pasta (or drinking fizzy drinks). Since insulin disables use of stored glycogen as energy long term stressing of the pancreas insulin production is likely to cause combination of overweight and eventually diabetes due to falling production of insulin.

Example of compound(s) or drug(s) that modifies the activity of the Endocrine system

Iodine is essential for the production of thyroid hormone. “The thyroid controls how quickly the body burns energy, makes proteins, and controls how sensitive the body should be to other hormones.” Iodine deficiency can lead to “extreme fatigue, goitre, mental slowing, depression, weight gain, and low basal body temperatures.” which happens not just in developing countries but also in Europe: “In Germany it has been estimated to cause a billion dollars in health care costs per year.”) (sources 1 and 2)

Examples of Endocrine hormones

Growth hormone (GH) (Is a “protein-based poly-peptide hormone. It stimulates growth and cell reproduction and regeneration in humans and other animals [.. and is secreted by the] pituitary gland.”) (source)

Pregnenolone (One of several pro-hormones that can undergo further steroid metabolism to be converted into a range of other hormones including the the axis hormones estrogen and progesterone as well as being a “precursor to testosterone and estrone“) (source)

Health Perspective

A re-occurring theme in the above information on the endocrine system has been the hormonal axes and how their maintainance of a fairly tight balance is of vital importance to health – it is worth understanding this process fully to aid this process through diet. After all imbalances can lead to diabetes which is actually being used as a accelerated model of aging. In essence minimizing excess blood glucose through dietary habits, along with exercise to promote healthy GH levels, will likely continue to be the most effective way to stabilize the endocrine system for years to come.

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Ginkgo Biloba Health Summary Posting

Ginkgo Biloba leafs

Ginkgo Biloba leafs

This post contains a wide range of links to informative pages concerning the effect of Ginkgo Biloba on the human organism. Headlines link to overview LEF.org articles on subject. Other links are all PubMed related.

Update (2009-06-25): It should be noted that the below summarized micro trials contrasts in bad way with the latest larger scale Ginkgo Evaluation of Memory (GEM) Study that shows NO effect whatsoever on older individuals in regards to prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s  disease. Still, it is worth noting that a European equivalent of the American GEM study is currently being conducted in France: the GuidAge study final results are set to come out in 2010. If a major difference is found this is probably down to the use of clinical grade EGb 761 in the French study versus the commercial grade Ginkgold Max (Nature’s Way) used in the American study. This posting will be updated when the results are out.

Anti-Aging Effects of Ginkgo Biloba

Excerpt: “A study published in 2003 concluded that ginkgo extract improves the general mental health and quality of life of elderly adults with normal cognitive function (Cieza A et al. Effects of Gink- go biloba on mental functioning in healthy volunteers. Arch Med Res. 2003 Sep;34(5):373-81.). Sixty-six healthy volunteers aged 50-65 participated in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial that evaluated ginkgo extract’s effect on mental functioning. The participants took 240 mg of ginkgo extract or a placebo daily for four weeks. At baseline … the characteristics … in the placebo group and ginkgo extract group were similar … subjects who took ginkgo extract saw significant improvements in their self-perceived mental health and quality of life. Participants who took ginkgo extract performed markedly better on action and reaction tests, and also reported improved mood, providing further evidence of the efficacy of ginkgo extract.” Also: “…review underscores the potential benefits of Ginkgo biloba in cardiovascular diseases”[1]. Lastly, Ginkgo seems an overall neuroprotecter: “Substantial experimental evidence indicates that EGb761 has neuroprotective potency”[2]

Anti-arthritic behavior of Ginkgo Compounds

Excerpt: “Ginkgetin, a biflavone from Ginkgo biloba leaves, was previously reported to be a phospholipase A2 inhibitor and this compound showed the potent antiarthritic activity”[1]. Even better: “Ginkgetin (10-20 mg/kg/day) strongly reduced arthritic inflammation in an animal model of rat adjuvant-induced arthritis (86% inhibition at 16 days at a dose of 20 mg/kg/day) via intraperitoneal injection, while prednisolone (5 mg/kg/day) showed 79% reduction.”, ergo, it shows better result than the stuff people are injected with once it gets really bad (while at the same time, very unlike prednisolone, protecting cells in the rest of the organism)[2]. Of relative interest is also a study showing that Ginkgo works in concert with other NSAIDs: “Results suggest that GbE may be of clinical value as an anti inflammatory and analgesic drug alone or in conjunction with NSAIDs”[3]

Cognitive Enhancement

Excerpt: “… there is scientific support for memory enhancement even in young healthy people. Following just a single dose of 600 mg of ginkgo extract, a significant memory improvement was demonstrated in a randomized, double-blind, crossover study using Sternberg’s memory scanning test. The effect lasted for several hours (Subhan et al. 1984). In [a] randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled crossover study, 31 volunteers aged 30-59 years were given multiple doses of 50 or 100 mg; a single dose of 120 or 300 mg; or placebo during the day of testing. A psychometric test battery was administered before the first dose and at frequent intervals during the day until 11 hours after the last dose … effect of ginkgo in healthy volunteers was most evident with the 120-mg dose; more apparent in the oldest age group of 50-59 years; and [most] pronounced for short-term memory … (Rigney et al. 1999).”

Extending Life Span with Ginkgo use

Excerpt: “An unexpected finding occurred in a study published in Physiology & Behavior (1998, Vol 63, No 3 pp-425-433). The study was designed to … assess cognitive function. What surprised the scientists, however, was the rats administered ginkgo lived a mean of 31 months compared to 26.4 months in the placebo group. In human equivalency terms, these results indicate that ginkgo could extend life span by 11 years. The scientists who conducted this study went into quite a bit of detail to explain why ginkgo may have produced this unexpected longevity benefit, and suggested that life span studies on ginkgo extract be initiated to confirm these initial results.”

That’s all. More Health Summary Postings are to follow and are to be updated on running basis as new findings come along.