Living Longer, Healthier & Better
An interview with Dr. Jonathan Wright (October 2011)
In the early 1990s the Federal Drug Administration raided Dr. Jonathan Wright’s clinic with a SWAT team, held him and his employees hostage, and stole injectable vitamin B12, B-complex, herbals, glandulars, other natural remedies, computers, and patient records.
That became their biggest mistake in the long course of their vendetta against Dr. Wright and nutritional medicine. A local radio talk show host asked Jonathan to appear on his drive-time show. Pretty soon the whole west coast caught fire with support for Jonathan Wright and Tahoma Clinic, and eventually people brought enough heat on congress to force the FDA to back off.
I interviewed Jonathan back then and we’ve been friends ever since. (The article was entitled, “Throw Down Your Vitamin B & Come Out With Your Hands Up!") Both Susan and I and two of our children have gone through Tahoma Clinic.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1945, Jonathan was unwittingly taken northward to Ohio, whence he left for Harvard University in 1961. Escaping from that bastion of liberalism with his A.B. degree in 1965, he attended and graduated in 1969 with an M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School. After a residency in family practice, Dr. Wright slowly became aware of what he terms “real medicine” (also called “natural medicine”) to prevent and treat illness, in contrast to using patent medication, much un-necessary surgery, and dangerous radiation routinely taught in medical schools. In 1973, he founded Tahoma Clinic in Renton, Washington.
Dr. Jonathan Wright was the first to research and establish an extensive library of medical journal articles concerning diet, vitamins, minerals, botanicals, and other natural remedies. Joined in this effort by Alan R. Gaby, this collection now totals over 50,000 articles on paper and another 10,000 electronic articles. Based on this data and extensive clinical experience, Drs. Wright and Gaby have taught four-day courses in nutritional and natural medicine for physicians approximately yearly since 1982. This course is considered the Number One resource for physicians who want to apply nutrition and nutritional therapies in their practices.
Dr. Wright wrote a monthly column for Prevention Magazine from 1976-1986, and Let’s Live Magazine from 1986-1996). He now writes a monthly newsletter, Nutrition & Healing, $37/year from Agora Publishing, 702 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21201 or call (800) 851-7100. For practical, clear information useful to your own health, you can’t beat it. Dr. Wright’s books have sold over 2.6 million copies. If you can’t find the books or the nutritional supplements mentioned below, you can order them from the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary, 801 SW 16th Street, Suite 121, Renton, Washington 98055 or call (888) 893-6878 or (425) 264-0051 or fax (425) 264-0058. Dr. Wright and Tahoma Clinic are located at the same address but with different phone numbers, (425) 264-0059 and fax (425) 264-0071.
Dr. Wright kindly made time for this interview on 6 October 2011.
Moneychanger: Jonathan, talking to you is like hunting quail over a field with too many birds. You flush up so many birds I don’t know which to shoot first. Let’s start here. Doesn’t one sometimes need to take vitamins in massive doses? When our bodies get terribly deficient in some nutrient, does it take massive doses to raise those levels up?
Wright: Not usually sustained, particularly with what you're talking about fat soluble vitamins. If we’re real deficient in fat soluble vitamins, our bodies store them. Massive dose are like giving our bank account a big infusion, so it will be okay for a while. If that doesn’t work, it’s usually either a genetic problem, which would’ve manifested as a child or teenager, or it’s a weakness in metabolism somewhere that needs some help...
Moneychanger: You once told me that there were four things everyone ought to do to slow down aging. What are those four things?
Wright: Actually, there are more than four.
Moneychanger: [Laughs] Okay, make it a longer list.
MOST IMPORTANT: CLEAN FOOD & WATER
Wright: Number One, other than “keep breathing,” is always, always, always diet, and that include several key supplemental items. Our bodies are patterned on a design that’s been around, as far as we know, since the dawn of creation or evolution, whichever one we want to believe in.
Until about 10,000 - 11,000 years ago, people all ate totally organic food. Nobody needed the word ‘organic,’ because it was all organic: no food processing, food refining, artificial flavors, artificial colors, preservatives, none of that. Nobody was spraying herbicides and pesticides all over the crops. So a totally organic food supply was going into people for all these hundreds of thousands of years, and that’s what the body was created for. Look at pictures of Adam and Eve, as imagined in the garden. Have they got any frosted flakes? No.
Even though there’s individual variability, our bodies run on the same basic biochemical plan. They were created to eat pure food, and that includes pure water. Primitive rivers weren’t chlorinated.
Fast forward to today. At the longest, we live 100 years, 110 if you're lucky, but we don’t consider that our bodies are created for a totally organic environment with totally pure water. If we’re going to keep that body from aging faster than it should, our first job is to eat all organic and drink the purest possible water, not that chlorinated fluoridated stuff.
I know that’s hard and costs more, but here’s a novel concept. What we call health insurance is not health insurance at all. Rather, we’re paying a premium so that if we get sick and can’t pay for it ourselves, somebody—doctors, surgeons, whoever—will help us fix it.
Moneychanger: So it’s really sickness insurance.
Wright: Exactly. Real health insurance is paying the money to stay healthy. Part of our health insurance policy – for everybody—is eating organic. I understand that, in today’s world, it is impossible to do it 100% of the time. We’re traveling. Where can we get organic food on an airline that wants to sell $5.00 junk-food lunches? But we can eat organic 90% - 95% of the time, and keep it as clean as possible. For your information, my co-author Linda Larsen and I just published a book called: Eating Clean for Dummies. [Available at Amazon.com and elsewhere.]
We outline there what we can do to rearrange our pantries and our kitchens and what food we can look for at restaurants that’s likely to be safer. First thing we have to do is eat and drink pure and clean, and that does not mean no wine and beer. If we look for the stuff without preservatives made from organic materials, it’s pretty safe if we don’t overdo it, but still, organic, organic, organic. It’s so important, together with clean liquid supply.
Have you ever read a book called: Cholesterol and Coronaries from the 1950s? The doc who wrote that little book had been serving in the military in the Korean War. The poor man had the sad duty to examine dead soldiers, young fellows, 19 - 21 years old. A large number of them had damaged coronary arteries clogged with cholesterol plaque. He traced that back to the heavy chlorination put into the soldiers’ water. Because they didn’t have a good, clean water supply, they dumped in loads of chlorine in it to kill germs. Unfortunately it also damaged the arteries.
His focus was caring for the dead, but imagine what happened to the ones who went home from the Korean War who at that early age had already, suffered arterial damage from all that chlorine in the water. Somebody will say, “Well, we don’t put that much chlorine in the water now,” but we shouldn’t put any in there at all.
Moneychanger: Chemically, fluorine and the chlorine react somewhat the same. They’re both strong oxidizers, are they not?
WHAT ABOUT SUPPLEMENTS? VITAMIN C
Wright: You bet they are. You're putting something into your body Adam and Eve did not have in the Garden of Eden.
I want to address the mistaken concept of longer modern life spans. So-called public health “authorities” tell us, “People are now living longer than ever. In the past people had a 40-year life expectancy, blah, blah, blah.” These “authorities” have never wandered through a cemetery with 19th century gravestones. If they had, they would have found many women who died in childbirth or of infectious disease and many children who died in infancy. Moms had 10 babies, but only five survived to adulthood. When you average all those people out the life expectancy back then was 40, but if people made it to adulthood and survived having kids, they could expect to live as long as we do today. This nonsense that things are so much better today because life expectancy has increased just isn’t correct
So Number One for slowing aging is eating organic and drinking clean water. That isn’t going to stop it; it’s going to slow it.
But let’s get to some supplements. We could say that belongs to diet, but they’re not exactly dietary. The first one is vitamin C.
Vitamin C is very, very different from all the other vitamins. Vitamin B1 and A and all those others are vitamins for humans and all the other animals. But vitamin C is not a vitamin for a dog or a cat or a quail or an elephant. Only humans, apes, monkeys, and guinea pigs don’t make their own vitamin C in their own bodies. A genetics textbook will tell you that the human need for vitamin C results from genetic disease. There’s a lesion—damage—in the DNA that prevents our bodies from making vitamin C like they ought to.
When an animal comes under any stress, from fear to carcinogen, nearly all animals’ livers start producing much, much more vitamin C automatically. Why? Because vitamin C is, if not the number one, close to the number one detoxifier in the whole body, and that liver makes vitamin C in big quantities. In lab experiments, when they give a dog a carcinogen, that dog’s liver promptly makes 10-15 times more vitamin C than the day before. Until that carcinogen is detoxed, that level stays up there and only gradually returns to baseline.
Similarly, if you make rats and mice swim and swim until they practically drown, Woohoo! Their bodies make a whole lot more vitamin C to help to detoxify the free radicals produced by all the exhausting exercise.
Now put humans under stress and carefully measure the liver –enzymes, remembering that the genetic disease means prevents their bodies from making the enzyme that completes the final step of making Vitamin C. Take those peoples’ livers, and the blood sugar goes through step one, step two, step three, but it can’t get past step four. It’s spinning its wheels, but can’t make vitamin C.
So vitamin C ought to be taken in small quantities every day if we’re perfectly relaxed, and in big quantities if we’re stressed. It helps keep our bodies healthy by detoxing, but it can’t happen on its own.
At UCLA a seven-year research experiment tracked what everybody was eating and what vitamins they were taking and who got sick and who died. At the study’s end they extrapolated from those seven years for a lifetime. Their extrapolation found that if men took as little as one gram of vitamin C a day, they could expect to live six more years, Franklin: one gram a day. If ladies took one gram a day, they could expect to live one more year. However, that’s just fair, because ladies outlive us guys by five or six years anyway. Vitamin C helped both sexes live longer.
Moneychanger: One thousand milligrams of vitamin C a day, but in what form?
Wright: In all those animals nature makes ascorbic acid. Those animal’s livers are not making flavonoids, so the argument that we must take our vitamin C with flavonoids, like rose hips or citrus concentrates, only holds part way. Basic vitamin C is made by all those animal bodies as vitamin C; no question, not accompanied by flavonoids. That does not mean that flavonoids are bad, because they are in the plant food that animals eat. Anytime there’s vitamin C in the plant world there are always flavonoids.
So when we’re taking vitamin C, we should have vitamin C with some flavonoids to emulate what we’re eating in the plant world. But sometimes we want to chuck down a whole lot of vitamin C. Let’s say we’re coming down with a cold or flu because sometimes it can even stop the cold or flu before it gets bad, or just slows it way down so we don’t suffer near as long or have as many symptoms, according to several controlled studies. That vitamin C supplementation can be ascorbic acid alone, because that copies what our livers ought to be doing.
Moneychanger: Okay. Key supplements: vitamin C is one.
WHERE THE SUN DOESN’T SHINE: VITAMIN D
Wright: Next one is vitamin D. Fortunately, that one has been adopted by the mainstream media so we’re hearing a lot about vitamin D. The only people throwing cold water are the members of the Flat Earth Society back in the National Institute of Medicine. They recommend about 800 (international) units a day, which is just absolutely ridiculously low.
Vitamin D is made in human and animal bodies when the sun’s rays strike our skin and make precursor vitamin D. That molecule goes to the liver, then the kidneys,] and it’s activated and becomes vitamin D (technically, “1,25 di-hydroxy vitamin D”).
But where was the Garden of Eden? Where do we find all the skeletons of early persons? (I can’t say early man here in Seattle, Franklin, I’ve gotta say early persons. It’s politically correct, you know.) In the tropics. They didn’t find any fig leaves in Minnesota, let me tell you.
It was a very sunny climate. Look how much vitamin D is running around the bloodstream of people who live in the tropics and get a fair amount of sun. How much vitamin D have they got in their bloodstream? Much more than people in North America, even Arizona and Florida. One study of people living within 50 miles of Tucson showed that only 25% had “normal” levels, which are still substantially below levels found in the tropics. And no one in the tropics dies of vitamin D overdose either! Most adults living 2,000-3,000 miles north of the equator need a minimum 4,000-5,000 units a day to reach the same blood level as those people who live in the tropics.
We want to copy nature as closely as we can. Either we could all move to the tropics, which isn’t real practical, or we could maintain our blood levels the same as they do in the tropics, which for the technically inclined is 60-100 nanograms per milliliter.
Your readers can get their tests done, and when the doctor tells them that 30 is normal, they can say, “But I read . . .” because 30 is “normal” if you happen to live in Seattle and practice “mainstream” medicine! [Laughs]
Why keep vitamin D at that tropical optimum? “All-cause mortality” studies—dying of any cause, heart attack, stroke, cancer, stomach ulcers, any cause—take an older population, usually over 55-60, and check them all for vitamin D blood levels. They don’t tell them to take any vitamin D, they just wait 10-15 years and then find out who’s still with us and who isn’t. Every time these all-cause mortality studies have been done, the ones with the highest vitamin D blood levels initially are least likely to die of anything: heart attack, stroke, cancer, doesn’t matter what it is.
For guys, that applies particularly to prostate cancer and for women particularly to breast cancer, even though it applies to all cancers, and for both sexes to colon cancer. Vitamin D cuts the risks dramatically. So vitamin D, at optimal levels, can cut all-cause mortality. There is one exception. The only type of mortality it will not prevent is trauma. If you get run down by a truck, it doesn’t matter whether that truck is loaded with vitamin D, you're still dead.
Moneychanger: Do I correctly remember that vitamin D deficiency is extremely widespread in the United States?
TAKE CARE OF YOUR TELOMERES: FISH OIL & VITAMIN E
Wright: If you judge it by the tropical optimal, that 60-100 nanograms per milliliter, everybody in the United States and Texas—I gotta respect their sovereign ability to secede according to Texas’ constitution and treaty with the United States—who isn’t supplementing vitamin D is deficient, just because of where we live. It’s not that we’re not eating right, because we don’t eat much vitamin D, but because it comes down from the sky and at our latitudes we don’t get enough sun, especially in the winter.
Now this describes a start on improving longevity: to live as long as our genetic program allows, as healthy as we can, eat organic, take vitamin C, and vitamin D to get up to tropical optimal, and cut that risk of premature death. I’m not quite done yet, because those readers who’ve been reading the science journals have been reading about these things called telomeres. That research topic is so hot that companies are starting up to furnish your doctor with blood tests that check your telomere length. What in the world for? The correlations are strong between the telomere (the DNA at the end of each chromosome) and cell death.
As cells divide, that DNA at chromosome’s end gets shorter and shorter and shorter, and has been found to be a predictor of ultimate cell death.
An enzyme—telomerase –helps to lengthen the telomeres so that the cell can live longer. Since this is occurring in all the body’s cells, then we’d like to keep those telomeres as long as we can, for as long as we can.
Omega three fatty acids are found in fish oils and also in plant oils, but the fish oils are more compatible with the human body. They have been found to help to lengthen those little telomeres. So it looks like a very strong possibility that longevity is helped if we keep our omega three fatty acid intake up, eat fish (the best way to do it), and take fish oil, and never, ever, take extra oils of any sort without taking vitamin E. Why? Because oil unaccompanied by vitamin E can cause “lipid peroxidation,” which produces free radical damage to cell membranes and advances aging.
But vitamin E forestalls that process, so making sure we have a decent omega three fatty acid intake with vitamin E (as “mixed tocopherols”) will probably help us live longer, too. That’s a high probability, not a total truth certainty yet. Whereas vitamin C and vitamin D are proven basic to good health and longevity.
RESVERATROL, ANYONE? AND PASS THAT SALT!
Moneychanger: There’s vitamin C, vitamin D, fish oil and vitamin E. What else might slow aging?
Wright: There is strong suspicion that a supplement called resveratrol may extend life but, unfortunately, although it’s proven for primitive forms of life, so far it’s not yet proven for humans. Should you take it or not? Probably it will help you, and it won’t hurt you. We do have strong enough proof with vitamin C, vitamin D, and those omega three fatty acids.
Here’s one other thing. Finland in the late ‘70s had a population of about 3.5 million, and a “socialized” medical system (they still do).
And they came up with a good idea (occasionally happens, even in socialized medicine). The public health campaign was, Number 1, cut down on eating saturated fats, eat more unsaturated fats (fish and plant oils), and don’t eat so much fatty food. Number 2, they introduced a salt made of potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, and a little bit of sodium chloride. It tasted pretty much like ordinary salt, and everybody had to use it. They put it in the hospitals and schools, and it was the only salt available in the stores. Even McDonald’s—was using it. At that time it was called Pansalt.
That started in the late 1970s. In 2006, two public health professors e tracking the statistics for this study wrote an article and published it a medical journal. I got a copy. (They wrote in English, thank God, not Finnish.) They said that because of those two changes—eating less saturated fat and more unsaturated fat, and using this salt—Finland had seen a 70% reduction in cardiovascular disease, heart attack, and stroke: seventy percent reduction in thirty years..
That 70-percent reduction meant that the average Finnish male in 2006 could expect to live eight years longer than the average Finnish male 30 years before, and the average Finnish lady, six more years.
They attributed 90% of it to those two steps, and about 10% to patent medicines, except they call them “pharmaceuticals.”
That was 2006. I figured somebody would import Pansalt into the United States but nobody did, and then I figured out why: the patent had run out. (You can’t patent a natural substance, but you can patent combinations of natural substances.) The only other place I could find it widely distributed was the Philippines. [Laughs]
There’s a website for the Philippines about this salt—pansalt.ph—and it’s still used in Finland. I got a little frustrated and contacted a local manufacturer, and they’re now turning out an exact duplicate of this Finnish salt that tastes like salt. We use it. We tried to put a name on it that would tell people what it was for, like “heart healthy salt,” but the attorneys kept saying, “Oh no, that’s making a claim and the FDA will get you.”
Franklin, our politics gets into everything. It turns out that if it’s a health product you can’t describe what your product will do unless you pay los federales at the FDA giant fees. According to the Tufts University Center for the Study of Drug Development, it costs $800 million to get los federales to approve something. So finally they stuck my name on it, and I’m a little embarrassed, because I didn’t make up the salt but it’s called Wright Salt, and, yes, we sell it at the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary, (425) 264-0051.
GOOD FATS, BAD FATS, OR NO FATS?
Moneychanger: What are saturated fats?
Wright: Those are fats found in beef and pork and, for that matter, in poultry and eggs, but unsaturated fats are also found in those things. But late 19th and early 20th century saturated fats were unaccompanied by the same amounts and patterns of essential fatty acids that had accompanied them—by Nature and Creation—for as long as there have been animals on planet Earth.
One big but little-recognized cause of cardiovascular disease was centralizing stockyards in the United States and Canada in the 1870s and 1880s. If we feed these animals grain it’ll fatten them up so much better, and it marbles the beef so it tastes better. Besides, it lowers production costs. Stockyards sprang up in Kansas City and Calgary and Chicago to feed the animals grain.
They missed this: when you grain-feed an animal that nature designed to eat grass, it changes the unsaturated fatty acid ratio in that animal’s flesh from roughly 1:4, one part anti-inflammatory omega three fatty acids to four parts inflammatory omega six fatty acids, and turns that ratio around to 20:1, 20 parts pro-inflammatory omega six to one part anti-inflammatory omega three.
Feeding those animals grain means not only more saturated fats in their meat, but also more pro-inflammatory fatty acids. Not feeding animals grains in stockyards along with not using transfats (think margarine and Crisco®) had a lot to do with the scarcity of cardiologists in 19th century America. The first cardiologist hung out his shingle in 1914 or thereabouts, and throughout the 20th century cardiovascular disease – nearly absent in the early 19th century—increased hugely. It started climbing in the latter 19th century, after stockyards and margarine were introduced, which are the source of transfats.
So one either has to cut way back on beef or pork or chicken or turkey, or eat only free range or grass-fed meats. That way the unsaturated fats offset the saturated fats.
Moneychanger: You know that here on our farm we raise free range and grass-fed animals, and the difference in taste is unforgettable.
What about other life expectancy extenders?
LIFT THE TOXIC BURDEN: DETOXIFICATION
Wright: Next is detoxification. What do I mean by detox? Go back to Adam and Eve. From the food supply they received not one molecule of herbicides and pesticides, artificial flavor, artificial color, or artificial chemicals. In their bodies they did not have any lead, arsenic, mercury, or cadmium, etc., and their bodies weren’t designed to have them in there!
These days it’s different. Our local newspaper, the Seattle Times, paid to test ten local politicians. They sent samples to toxicology laboratories, and every politician had at least 40-50 chemicals in the bloodstream that shouldn’t be there. Worse, the blood test is not the best test because a lot of the toxic stuff is stored elsewhere, such as lead in the bones and mercury in the brain, and it disappears very rapidly from the bloodstream.
Since industrialization started in Manchester and Liverpool in the early 1800s, over the following two centuries the toxic burden has increased enormously. You’d have to be born on the moon and stay there to keep from getting all this stuff. Example: National Geographic went to Antarctica and checked out the penguins’ fat, and guess what? They have DDT and lead in their fat. We haven’t sprayed DDT in Antarctica but it’s spread into the environment worldwide, and they also had toxic metals in their fat. Did you ever hear about the guy alligators in the everglades that couldn’t get the lady alligators pregnant?
Wright: That’s because their relevant organs were so darned small that they couldn’t get it done. Researchers found that pesticides being sprayed on the sugar cane crops near the Everglades were the culprit. They ran off into the swamps, got into their mommy alligators, and their male baby alligators couldn’t grow adequate organs.
We can’t escape this pollution burden. When we check people at the clinic, particularly for high blood pressure, all kinds of toxic metal show up.
Why is detox so important? For one, it removes the toxic metals. Toxic metals get into the mitochondria. Mitochondria are the little energy engines, from dozens to thousands, in every cell of the body. Heart cells have the most. Beating thousands of times every day, heart cells need a lot of energy. Mercury poisons mitochondria. Cadmium poisons mitochondria. Lead poisons mitochondria.
Somebody even published in the AMA Journal that heart muscle specimens had been taken from people who had died from congestive heart failure and compared to people of the same age and gender who had died from trauma without heart problems. The amount of toxic metal in the heart muscle of the people with congestive heart failure was 100 to 1,000 times higher than in those who died in car wrecks. Their hearts just ran out of energy, poisoned by toxic metals.
There’s a scientist here at the University of Washington who sends an airplane up every once in a while, captures some air, bring it down, and analyzes it. He tells us that for at least the last 20 years a heavy industrial metal and pollutant burden has been floating over from China to the west coast of these United States. From the east coast we send all our pollutants to Europe.
We can’t avoid the toxic burden, so what can we do? Detox. That can be as simple as heavy sweating. That eliminates a lot of pollutants, but not all. In research in southern California volunteers had fat biopsies done because many toxic chemicals are stored in the fat. Sure enough, they had all these toxins in their fat.
What did they have them do then? Take a sauna and drench themselves with sweat thirty times. Then they took another fat biopsy as close to the first one as they could. Look at that! They reduced their toxic burden in their fat cells by two thirds.
Now a sauna isn’t necessary. Anything that makes a person sweat heavily will work. They can do heavy exercise and get their gym clothes all soaked. Heck, they can go out in the sun in Hawaii and get baked, but sweating is one of the best ways to detox the body.
There is also colon cleansing and liver cleansing and so forth, but that all requires a healthcare professional’s help. Unless you're dedicated, it’s a little hard to do on your own. Sweating you can do on your own, and it takes out the not only chemical pollutants but also toxic metals stored in fat.
Another article in the AMA Journal asks, why do women after the menopause get more and more hypertension? They tracked it down to this: they’re also losing some bone where lead was stored. When the lead comes out, it raises blood pressure.
It’s hard to sweat out some of the heavy metals, but there’s a process called chelation therapy. It’s given intravenously, and requires the help of a doctor knowledgeable about it. Toxic metal chelation (to remove it from the body) can be done with pills and suppositories, too, but it’s a lot slower. It can take years if the toxic metal burden is more than a little.
With sweating and chelation therapy, a person can really release a lot of their toxic burden, a burden which never occurred to any great degree before the 20th century.
SPICE UP YOUR MEMORY: TURMERIC, CURCUMIN & NIACINAMIDE
Moneychanger: You once told me that everybody ought to be taking turmeric and niacinamide ( a form of vitamin B3/niacin).
Wright: Turmeric mostly because of its curcumin content---approximately 80%. Exceptionally good research has found that curcumin is a major protector against Alzheimer’s disease. You can get turmeric at any grocery store or spice shop. My thrifty wife, Holly, goes to the spice store and buys a pound for $25.00, rather than three or four ounces for $8, and it lasts us a year. [Laughs]
Holly just throws it in all the cooking. I shouldn’t say “all,” since some things don’t taste good with it, but others do, particularly animal proteins. The “official statistics” say that those who live to be 65 years old have a 45% chance of developing Alzheimer’s by the time they’re 85. No kidding, that’s from the National Institute of Aging if we can believe a government agency. Given that statistic, I really think everybody ought to be eating turmeric. It’s not so much a longevity thing, it’s a keeping our marbles thing.
NIACINAMIDE & ALZHEIMER’S
Moneychanger: What about vitamin B12 and niacinamide to prevent Alzheimer’s?
Wright: I can’t say there’s much research on B12 and Alzheimer’s. There is early research about niacinamide reversing Alzheimer’s, but first remember that niacinamide is not niacin. They are close cousins but not the same. (Niacinamide doesn’t cause the red niacin flush, and niacin won’t help Alzheimer’s.)
At the University of California at Irvine niacinamide was used in research on mice and rats with Alzheimer’s—no kidding. The poor animals were genetically engineered—and for that I would’ve bitten the experimenters if I were the mouse—to insert a human gene that gave them human Alzheimer’s. When those mice started showing Alzheimer’s symptoms–
Moneychanger: How can you tell a mouse has Alzheimer’s [Laughs]
Wright: Maybe they start behaving like a politician? No, the main job for mice and rats in university laboratories is to run mazes. At the maze’s other end is lunch, and that’s why they run the maze. These experimental mice couldn’t run the maze anymore. They started losing their way, and there were starting to starve because they couldn’t find lunch. At that point they biopsied their brains. Look at that! It looks just like human Alzheimer’s. All the different cellular debris—tau-protein, neurofibrillary tangle, beta-amyloid—, it was all accumulating like crazy in those little rodent brains, just like it does in human brains.
When the mice couldn’t run the maze, they put them all on niacinamide, vitamin B3 as niacinamide, not niacin. How much niacinamide did they give the mice? Extrapolated to an average 150-160 lb. human adult, it turns out to be three grams a day, best spread out as one gram with each meal. When they put the mice on the mouse-equivalent dose they regained the ability to run the maze. To make a very poor pun, it was a-mazing.
Moneychanger: If I don’t take niacinamide, my short term memory evaporates. It makes an astounding difference.
Wright: Not everybody’s that sensitive, but some of us surely are. For those of us who notice that difference, there’s a good case to be made that we are holding off Alzheimer’s. When they biopsied those little mouse brains again, there was just as much beta-amyloid and as many neurofibrillary tangles, but the reduction in tau-protein was quite significant, 40% or so.
One research scientist interviewed said, “When you reduce tau-protein like that, the inside-the-cell communication is reestablished, not inter-cellular between the cells, but intra-cellular. So the cell’s internal wiring—the neurons—works again when you reduce tau-protein.”
That was an enormous breakthrough, but you won’t be hearing anything from it for several years. It takes that long. Another really big research study is being done in the UK and once again, we won’t be hearing anything from it for several years. We are told of a few who are diagnosed with early Alzheimer’s where the family gives them niacinamide. The feedback we’re getting—and this is totally uncontrolled research, not a double-blind, placebo controlled study – says that Alzheimer’s stopped progressing.
So niacinamide was brought into use not so much a preventer, although I guess it would be, but as a cleaner-upper of Alzheimer’s disease. If it can keep that tau-protein at bay, it’s actually a preventive if we start early enough.
Curcumin is going to do even better at preventing Alzheimer’s in the long run. The product is used in India, actually as turmeric, which is roughly 80% curcumin. In these provinces, there is virtually no Alzheimer’s and that’s where the research got started. They wanted to know why there was no Alzheimer’s there.
STAY HEALTHY LONGER: BIO-IDENTICAL HORMONE REPLACEMENT THERAPY
There is something else that will help you stay healthier for a lot longer, and that is bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT). The kids don’t have to worry about that like we do, because kids don’t need those bio-identical hormones. But when ladies reach menopausal age, or guys reach 45 to 55, they do. Testosterone in men starts dropping. Women all know that their estrogen and progesterone really drops in menopause, and that’s obvious, too.
Bio-identical hormones should always be replaced as a group, estrogen, progesterone, DHEA, a little testosterone, and little thyroid, for ladies and testosterone, DHEA, and a little thyroid for men.. And then there are other hormones, too. I left out growth hormone? Well, I’ll get to that.
There proof now beyond a doubt that for ladies, estrogen significantly reduces Alzheimer’s and cognitive decline risk. For men, testosterone very significantly reduces the risk of cognitive decline. Now it is true, guys, that testosterone also helps keep muscle mass up and build muscles and makes the ladies look better in your eyes. But when guys come in and say maybe their testosterone is going down some and their sex life could be better and all that, I’ll say, “Well, that’s an important part of life, but look here. There’s flat out proof that testosterone cuts your risk of Alzheimer’s dramatically, and isn’t that more important? What does it matter how good your sex life is, if you can’t remember what the heck you did and who you did it with?”
Moneychanger [Laughs] Okay.
Wright: And in both genders, studies from 20 – 30 years ago show that the gender-specific hormone—estrogen for ladies, testosterone for men—also dramatically cuts cardiovascular disease risk. No kidding. After the menopause ladies with higher estrogen levels have a lot fewer heart attacks than ladies with lower levels. Guys whose testosterone is higher have a lot fewer heart attacks and also control cholesterol better. In both genders, the testosterone for men and estrogen for ladies help maintain bone.
So these bio-identical hormones protect against Alzheimer’s, against heart attack and stroke, and against bone loss. Then there’s a bonus that only ladies get: estrogen helps to maintain a woman’s lungs after menopause. Excellent research from the Lung Research Institute at Georgetown University shows that estrogen not only slows down the age-related gradual loss of the little air sacs in the lungs (alveoli), but also helps regulate the enzyme that exchanges oxygen for carbon dioxide. So ladies who want to stay physically active after the menopause really ought to consider estrogen as part of over-all bio-identical hormone replacement (BHRT), simply because it will maintain lung function and body oxygenation at a higher level.
We usually associate that with smoking, but people also get COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) who never smoked a cigarette in their whole life. Among the smoking population, men and women with COPD are about equal, but among COPD sufferers who never smoked there are six to eight ladies for every one guy. Why? Estrogen strongly supports lung health for ladies, and men just don’t have the ladies’ problem with lung deterioration after their hormones decline.
For women who like to sing, estrogen helps maintain the singing voice,. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard from women taking bio-identical hormones after their menopause that their vocal qualities returned, and their church choirmaster tells them they’re singing so much better.
Moneychanger: Many doctors offer hormone replacement therapy in production line clinics, but they inject a slow-release testosterone pellet. That’s like fixing a clock with a jackhammer. It’s not the same thing as bio-identical hormone replacement, is it?
Wright: Yes and no. What they’re injecting releases itself as testosterone, but the trouble is, there’s no way to control that release. Sometimes it releases fast, sometimes slow, depending on personal metabolism. Most of the time it ends up with an erratic pattern of testosterone. When we’re using testosterone replacement in the way that I prefer to recommend it, it has to be applied either once or twice a day, when you go to bed and when you get up, or just once a day. That comes a lot closer to the natural pattern. The natural pattern in both sexes is small bursts of hormone, and then a rest, and then a burst, and then a rest, throughout the day. .
Of course, we can’t ask anybody to apply testosterone 20 times a day, like the testicles release it, or estrogen like the ovaries release it. Applying it once a day we test to ensure that the amount going in not only helps restore that person’s “Yeah, I feel good” feeling, but also maintains proper blood and urine levels. We want to make sure by blood and urine tests that levels don’t fall outside the usual human range.
Trouble with the pellets or injections is that sometimes after the injection the level rises way high, then it comes down to normal, then it drops way too low. When you get your next injection it goes way too high again. That’s why I don’t favor the injections.
Another thing about BHRT: I always tell folks, “Look, there are pro-carcinogenic hormones and there are anti-carcinogenic hormones. Nature has set things up so they balance. The usual healthy person has more anti-carcinogens than pro-carcinogens.” Why do we need pro-carcinogens anyway? Those are the more potent ones and we need those, but because they’re more potent they also become more pro-carcinogenic.
For example, estradiol for ladies is said to be responsible for most breast and hip development, and yet it’s pro-carcinogenic. Anti-carcinogenic hormones offset those carcinogenic ones. They don’t block secondary sexual development, but they offset or mitigate the cancer causer. So if we replace hormones, we have to monitor people’s pro- and anti-carcinogenic hormone balance. Thank goodness the science has advanced to the point where we can tell folks, “If you're in the minority – and it usually is a minority – and you're using bio-identical hormones, and your body is turning out too many pro-carcinogens, well, you just take this vitamin, and that mineral, and that herb, and test again in two months.” Usually, it’s all straightened out, and we’re back on the anti-carcinogenic balance side.
But that can only be monitored by a urine test, and I’m with you, Franklin. I see too many people getting these shots and maybe an occasional blood test, but they never follow up on the pro and anti-carcinogenic balance.
Moneychanger: Bio-identical Hormone Replacement Therapy is not an assembly line process. It requires careful oversight and testing to make sure that you're not breaking three when you fix one. [Laughs]
Wright: Franklin, for ladies using those under the skin pellets it is even worse, because ladies’ hormones go in cycles, whereas a guy’s hormones are there every day. In the menstrual bleeding part of that cycle, the hormones are still present but low, and all hormones act through what hormone receptors, like a lock and a key mechanism. In women those receptors are created to take holidays once a month and reach a low ebb. How is an injected estrogen pellet going to take a monthly break? It doesn’t. So estrogen pellets and progesterone pellets for ladies are just twice as foolish as they are for guys, because she doesn’t get her low-level hormone break every month. When ladies rub it on, which is the best way (swallowing it creates a liver problem), they apply it for 25-26 days, and then leave it off the last few days, to give the body a monthly break.
When female experimental animals are given the hormone all the time, it overrides their own cycles, even the anti-carcinogenic estrogens after a while. What’s a while? Oh, a few years. They start turning pro-carcinogenic on you.
Moneychanger: Is there a certifying group for bio-identical hormone replacement practitioners?
Wright: Not yet, unfortunately, it’s early in the field. I understand there’s one coming.
Moneychanger: If people who don’t live in Seattle wanted bio-identical hormone therapy or wanted to investigate it, how would they find a practitioner?
Wright: Probably the best bet is the American College for Advancement in Medicine. Most practitioners in that group do bio-identical hormones in the most physiologic way ,meaning it copies the way the body naturally does it as closely as possible. But whomever you see, make sure they also follow up with testing for all the pro-carcinogens and anti-carcinogens, which always involves collecting a urine specimen for 24 hours at least once.
Moneychanger: Even though there’s no certification, these ACAM physicians who are likely to use the same bio-identical hormone replacement process?
Wright: Right, the same approach. There are some states—seventeen in the United States, and Texas isn’t one—that license naturopathic physicians. In those states, almost all the naturopathic physicians follow the procedure I’m talking about, because the nature of naturopathy is to follow nature. For those 17 states, one could visit the website naturopathic.org.
One other thing. Remember I said, this is all health insurance. It does cost money, but it does the most possible to ensure you'll be as healthy as you can for as long as you can. That’s why we have to start with children, the babies, on organic food as much as possible and with regular detox, which, particularly with kids just amounts to heavy sweating regularly. Adults may need some heavier detox. The bio-identical hormones really start to apply when we reach 45 to 55, no question.
I’m going t do make a shameless plug here. Dr. Lane Lenard and I have a book out called: Stay Young and Sexy With Bio-Identical Hormones: The Science Explained. The publisher, as you can guess, is responsible for the first part of the title, because he wanted to sell books, and my co-author, Dr. Lane Leonard, and I are responsible for the second part. It’s a book for ladies and for guys and is generally available, or can be ordered from tahomadispensary.com.
HOW’S YOUR STOMACH ACID?
Now here’s another bit of health insurance that applies to the oldest age groups and some younger people. The Mayo Clinic published this research in the 1930s, but it’s been totally forgotten by the “medical mainstream.”
By the time we reach 60, precisely half of us have stomachs that are not making enough acid and pepsin to completely digest breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. It even happens in 40 year olds, but only about 30-35% of them. When the stomach isn’t making enough acid and pepsin, it usually is not a disease process but aging, like getting gray hair, or not being able to run so fast, or needing reading glasses. Everything slows down with time.
Think about this nonsense that claims that we get digestive problems when we get older so we have to take an acid blocker [antacid]. That says the stomach is a unique organ that speeds up with age and makes more acid. That’s total nonsense. It is not true. If our stomachs don’t produce acid, we can’t turn protein into amino acids or take the calcium and magnesium and zinc and detach it from the organic matrix as a free element so that our bodies can absorb it. Even if we are eating organic and doing everything else right, if we’re not digesting our food properly, guess what? We'll get inadvertent malnutrition, another way to age faster.
If we’re lucky enough to live to be 80, about 80% of us have this problem. We compensate for it just like we do with hormones. When the body’s production drops, we use some hormones from the outside but identical to what our bodies would make. When that stomach and other digestion weakens, we do the same. All health food stores sell capsules that contain betaine hydrochloride with pepsin. When that capsule dissolves in the stomach it becomes hydrochloric acid, and pepsin, and it helps us digest our food.
About half the population age 60 doesn’t need this, but according to that Mayo research, and according to what I see in my clinic, the other half certainly does. Over and over again, people in their 60’s and 70’s who come in not feeling well have a digestive problem. Your readers should know about that problem. Symptoms occur in about eight out of ten people with low stomach acid and include belching, bloating, heartburn.
Heartburn is usually a sign of low stomach acid, not high – indigestion, constipation, gas. But a 1941 textbook tells us that 20% show not one symptom in the world. If you get digestive tract symptoms, please check with a doctor who’s skilled and knowledgeable in natural medicine to see if you have a problem fully digesting food. This applies more and more as we get older and older. If we correct it and restore good digestion, why, we can bring in the nutrients and expect to stay healthier for longer.
Moneychanger: When you first told me that the best thing for indigestion was a tablespoon of vinegar, I thought you had completely lost your mind.
Wright: There you go. [Laughs]
Moneychanger: I tried it, and it is astounding. It burns going down, but in a minute or two and that’s gone, along with the indigestion. .
Wright: And sometimes that’s all we need. We don’t even need to go to the health food store for the capsules I told you about. But that’s a very good starting point, and if that does the job, fine.
Moneychanger: I know how busy you are, and you are very kind to give me so much time for an interview. Thank you very much. Oh, wait, what’s your book about stomach acid?
Wright: Thank you! Why Stomach Acid is Good for You. We’re surprised, it was published 10 years ago, but it continues to sell. It’s one topic that’s relevant all the time.
And thanks for getting the word out about good health and longevity, Franklin. Another time, I’ll bend your ear about cell therapy. It’s similar to but not nearly as expensive as “stem cell” therapy. It helps with both health and longevity, especially when we’re 60 and older.
WARNING & DISCLAIMER: By publishing this material, neither The Moneychanger nor the author/interviewee recommends or endorses any specific treatment or therapy for any physical condition or disease. Neither The Moneychanger nor the author/interviewee guarantees or warrants any results from any treatment discussed, nor assumes any express or implied liability for any use to which the reader puts this information. By this interview, the interviewee does not prescribe any treatment whatsoever for anyone who is not his patient. All the information here is offered for information purposes only, subject to the reader’s own research, prudence, and judgment.
Originally published October 2011