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Letters to the Editor Issue 52

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 52 - May 2000

According to Sri Chinmoy, the philosophy of the New Millennium will be:

"Do not see faults in anybody's life; do not see faults in your own life. Only force yourself to see all the good things you have done, all the good things you are planning to do and all the good things that others have done. In the next millennium the goal of philosophy will be, only to see the light in oneself and the light in others. Then only will you be able to expedite the arrival of world-peace and world-oneness."

Sri Chinmoy

Mercury Exposure and Alzheimer's Disease

Another study showing a possible link between mercury exposure and some forms of non-familial or sporadic Alzheimer's Disease has recently been published. This study by was done by a group of Swiss researchers and published in the Journal of Neurochemistry, a prestigious peer-reviewed, neuroscience journal. The Swiss researchers showed that exposure of neuroblastoma cells in culture to extremely low levels (180 nanomolar or 180 x 10-9 molar) of mercuric cation (Hg2+) produces all the classical cellular biochemical lesions found in the Alzheimer's diseased brain.

These included increased phosphorylation of the microtubule-associated protein tau, the primary component of neurofibrillary tangles or NFTs.

Also reported was an increase in the production and secretion of beta amyloid (Aß) which aggregates to form the senile plaque common to the AD brain. In addition to these two pathological hallmarks, this study also showed that low level Hg exposure caused a dose-dependent decrease in cellular glutathione. As most of you already know, reduced glutathione is one of the body's primary antioxidants as well as a potent chelator of metals such as Hg which have a high affinity for protein sulfhydryls.

Along with the increase in oxidative stress, there was a dose-dependent increase in cellular death (cytotoxicity) following exposure to these same low levels of Hg. To read the complete copy of this study for yourself, please see the following web address for an online version of Journal of Neurochemistry:

For more information on a possible link between Alzheimer's Disease and Hg exposure, see the ALT, Inc. Mercury Amalgam page at

"The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards" – Arthur Koestler, novelist, essayist (1905-1983).

Curt Pendergrass Ph.D.

St. John's wort : Should its safety be questioned?

St. John's wort (SJW) has been used safely for many years as a natural treatment for anxiety and depression. More recently, studies have confirmed the benefits to be gained from supplementing with the herb, and have found it to have very few side-effects.

Now, recognized critics of herb products are questioning the safety of the herb. They seem to indicate that SJW interacts with a group of liver enzymes which are involved in the metabolism of a number of prescribed drugs. The drugs in question are theophylline (a bronchodilator), cyclosporin (an immune suppressant), warfarin, digoxin, ethinyloestradiol and desogestrel (both contraceptive pills).

Is the criticism justified? This especially relevant when you consider that several common foods such as grapefruit juice, broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts also interact with these drugs. Similarly, so do charcoal-grilled beef, red wine, ethanol and cigarette smoke.

Are GPs advising patients of these food interactions when prescribing these medicines?

The issues surrounding SJW must be kept in context:

* SJW is an effective alternative to mild anti-depressants, it has fewer side effects and based on its established and traditional use, can be used safely;
* Under the current licensing regulation it is unlikely, if not impossible, to obtain a license for SJW, which restricts companies from applying helpful consumer guidelines;
* The fact that the public are willing to purchase SJW is of direct benefit to the government, due to its positive impact on NHS costs;
* The government should not have to wait for the EU; it should be encouraged to develop its own appropriate regulatory structure for herb products including SJW;
* Companies should be encouraged to advise on the appropriate and safe use of their herbal products.
* The public should be advised that herbs are not recommended in combination with prescribed drugs, unless advised to do so by a doctor.

Lee Oakley
Nutrition Department
Quest Vitamins
Tel: 0121-359 0056; Fax: 0121-359 0313



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