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Trace #5 – Role of Toxic Heavy Metals?

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series ALS Stealth Infection
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I already wrote about this aspect but now I will add few extra details and highlight the very dangerous potential of heavy metals, especially in case of chronic inflammation which is the most visible problem in ALS. All the traces nicely link together which should be an alert for everyone who wants or wishes to help people with ALS.

In previous posts I dealt with chronic inflammation because this is unquestionable finding regarding ALS disease. I am going to further build on this here. Toxicity in general is a big problem and my old post describes that. In other post I also found out certain analytical study confirmed that exposure to pesticids is linked with ALS. It should not be big surprise because we all, regardless our background, should know that toxicity in our body means there is a job to do for our immune system meaning it presents a load. More toxicity, higher load, bigger problem. If immunity is already struggling and fighting against something else in the different part of our body then it is getting worse – the resources immune system has are indeed limited. In this post I will again make use of analogies. In this case it is fire (inflammation) and fire fighters (immunity). More fires means less firefighting units can be assigned to a single fire and thus it will take more time to quench this single fire but also more time to quench ALL fires in the whole region (human organism) – let´s say state of California.

Chronic inflammation in CNS is one such fire and given the importance of that site or location (brain, spinal cord) this can be situation of highest severity, an absolute emergency. We already know about existence of scientific theory that this chronic inflammation can be caused by insufficient immune response – not enough firefighters, perhaps with special equipment. Part of this theory is also speculation that initially not that critical situation somehow worsened rapidly – like a small fire in dangerously dry location with lots of trees and wooden buildings … and then strong wind comes. In this case only evacuation, retreat and creating barriers to prevent further spreading is the usual solution. The place which is being evacuated is already lost – it will burn to foundations. For ALS the fire or inflammation arises in the motoric center in brain – motor cortex but also in spinal cord. In this article it is explained with more details​1​. Going back to my fire analogy – is there any potential equivalent of strong wind? Unfortunately it seems there is …

First let´s introduce the enemy – heavy metals. Following citations come from Jerry Tennant book​2​ and it should be easy for everyone to validate the information if having any problem with it. Well, OK – I am at least linking Wikipedia articles which I quickly referred​3,4​.

The scientific world has no widely accepted definition for ‘heavy metal’. However, it is generally accepted that the term ‘heavy’ refers to metals with a specific gravity that is at least 5 times the specific gravity of water​2​.

We are particularly interested in the following toxic metallic elements having specific gravities greater than 8 or more times that of water: Cadmium, 8.65; Lead, 11.34; and Mercury, 13.546. Although aluminum is not a heavy metal (specific gravity of 2.55-2.80), it makes up about 8% of the surface of the earth and is the third most abundant element and it is a toxic metal. Heavy metals damage mitochondria and therefore destroy cells’ ability to function by interfering with voltage. They also inactivate enzymes causing cells to malfunction. The most common metals that cause trouble are mercury, lead, cadmium, and arsenic.​2​

Please note the bold part and then read the following BBC article​5​ with bombastic title. Please note in the UK ALS is called MND – a motor neuron diseases. I will do a favour and add citations right below.

The research found that the damage to nerve cells caused by MND could be repaired by improving the energy levels in mitochondria – the power supply to the motor neurons. They discovered in human stem cell models of MND, the axon – the long part of the motor neuron cell that connects to the muscle – was shorter than in healthy cells. And the movement of the mitochondria, which travel up and down the axons, was impaired​5​.

In order to move forward we need to find out more about the problematic nature of heavy metals in our bodies. What says our doctor Jerry? At this place I also need to make a side note – recently I have published a post about dangerous mercury, a number #1 suspect in ALS development from heavy metals category.

Heavy metals don’t stay in the blood. They quickly move into tissue. If you find heavy metals in a blood test, it means you have a current and ongoing exposure!​2​

Mercury likes fatty tissue like brain, liver, kidneys, and endocrine glands. According to the World Health Organization, 80% of mercury comes from mercury amalgam fillings in your teeth​2​.

So Dr. Jerry mentions WHO. Let´s see as it is a good idea to involve WHO – this is an authority. I am adding clickable image for my readers who could tend to not trust to some Dr. Jerry.

https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mercury-and-health

Let´s make a small recap of things found.

Above summary is already very concerning for me but we still have not finished because we need to provide the answer to my fire & wind analogy.

Punchline

If the reader went through previous post thoroughly he or she knows that it may seem to us the immune system has fallen into some strange trap when it came to resolve some problem in CNS – it looks like it starts doing the usual positive job but suddenly the situation rapidly gets out of control – deadly loop of neural damage is established and the system cannot resolve it – chronic and never ending inflammation devastates the organism. How could it happen?

First let´s assume that under normal circumstances the intervention of immune system is successful. The original problem is resolved and any minor collateral damage is soon repaired. Inflammation is over, no chronicity occurs. Problem solved. However with ALS things are not normal and we know the opposite is true – inflammation is not resolved and instead it transforms into chronic inflammation and hyperinflammation where neurons are dying.

In my older post where I was further analyzing the role of bacterial infection of spirochetal type. I learned that when microglia detect infection (Borrelia) they start to produce QUIN (type of acid). High QUIN levels were according to Buhner confirmed in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer, Parkinson, Huntington. I am going to use citation from different source though.

Quinolinic acid (QUIN), an endogenous metabolite of the kynurenine pathway, is involved in several neurological disorders, including Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, HIV associated dementia (HAD) etc. QUIN toxicity involves several mechanisms which trigger various metabolic pathways and transcription factors. The primary mechanism exerted by this excitotoxin in the central nervous system (CNS) has been largely related with the overactivation of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors and increased cytosolic Ca2+ concentrations, followed by mitochondrial dysfunction, cytochrome c release, ATP exhaustion, free radical formation and oxidative damage.​6​

I am not yet sure why microglia produce something with neurotoxic effects – probably it again is matter of right amounts.

Firstly, increased levels of QUIN in the extracellular domain are achieved after inflammatory-induced glial activation.​6​

Therefore the existence of QUIN is most likely bad news from neuron point of view. If QUIN concentrations exceed certain threshold neurons start dying. However these immune cells like macrophages (microglia in brain) also produce ROS and it is stated ROS is a big accelerator of neuron damage – the damage is basically multiplied. Unpleasant situation for neurons, right? But then come these metals like mercury which can be sitting around deeply in those tissues – unfortunately this is another boost effect to ROS so situation gets even worse. QUIN levels also affect glutamate levels​7​ which in high concentrations are also neurotoxic and cause excessive neuron stimulation resulting in their death. From above longer citation we can also see that also Ca concentrations are problem and by certain coincidence I wrote about calcium in the previous post. Damn! It seems to me there can be more sources of “wind” than I thought originally. The system may not be able to handle such situation. Please tell me where I am wrong?

Please also note my couple months old post containing interesting information – during 1950, one region in Japan was showing strangely higher incidence of ALS. Japanese scientists suspected problems in watter – low Ca/Mg levels.

The Koza, Kozagawa and Kushimoto (K.) area in the Kii Peninsula of Japan was reported to have a higher incidence of ALS in the 1950s than other areas of the world (1–5). Epidemio-logic research showed that drinking water sourced from Kozagawa River in the K. area contained severely low levels of Ca and Mg, and Ca/Mg deficiency was speculated to have a role in the development of ALS in these areas (5,6)​6​.

Source:
Kihira T, Yoshida S, Kondo T, et al. An increase in ALS incidence on the Kii Peninsula, 1960-2009: a possible link to change in drinking water source. Amyotroph Lateral Scler. 2012;13(4):347-350. doi:10.3109/17482968.2012.674140

Now if we know there is high danger of excessive ROS production in the organism causing damage – what can be a noticeable consequence of this high oxygene demand? What about that hypoxia, a known symptom in ALS patients. It does not mean this could be the only factor behind it – but it is probably contributing. Otherwise the lack movement and thus decreased blood circulation will contribute to lowered oxygenation of tissues – that would be logical too. In ALS there is no room for black-white thinking, it is about applying heuristic methods – not about waiting on final recipe because it most likely does not exist given the number of variables!

Let´s wrap this up with reminding ourselves the hypothesis of neuroscientists cited before.

Here we will show you that neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and ALS share similarities with tumors. Like tumors, they may stay dormant long before their onset due to continuous patrol of the immune system. We are proposing that when such immune patrolling is out of balance, neurodegenerative diseases emerge. By no means am I proposing that the immune system is necessarily the primary cause of such diseases, but rather that the failure of the immune system allows the emergence and fast progression of these diseases​8​.

It now appears that the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, and other chronic neurodegenerative diseases are present for much of our lives, but they are neutralized by a properly functioning immune system. They remain dormant and undetected as long as the immune system can contain them. When the immune system fails, or when immune cells are prevented from finding their way into the brain or spinal cord, these diseases take advantage of our reduced defenses​8​.

References

  1. 1.
    Stifani N. Motor neurons and the generation of spinal motor neuron diversity. Front Cell Neurosci. Published online October 9, 2014. doi:10.3389/fncel.2014.00293
  2. 2.
    Tennant JL. Healing Is Voltage. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 2010.
  3. 3.
    Heavy Metals. Wikipedia. Accessed August 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavy_metals
  4. 4.
    Toxic Heavy Metal. Wikipedia. Accessed August 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxic_heavy_metal
  5. 5.
    Motor neurone disease: Edinburgh scientists reveal breakthrough. BBC. Accessed August 2021. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-edinburgh-east-fife-55718363
  6. 6.
    La Cruz VP-D, Carrillo-Mora P, Santamaría A. Quinolinic Acid, an Endogenous Molecule Combining Excitotoxicity, Oxidative Stress and Other Toxic Mechanisms. Int J�Tryptophan�Res. Published online January 2012:IJTR.S8158. doi:10.4137/ijtr.s8158
  7. 7.
  8. 8.
    Schwartz M, London A. Neuroimmunity: A New Science That Will Revolutionize How We Keep Our Brains Healthy and Young. Yale University Press; 2015.
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