We like to stay on top of the latest news in functional medicine and nutrition. If you do too, you’ll find our monthly, easy-to-digest compilation of research and news articles right here. Check back regularly to find updates, or follow us through our newsletters and social media to ensure you don’t miss any.
Improperly Primed Immune Systems Cause Long-Term Problems, Including Cancer
“For an immune system to work properly, it needs to be confronted by an infection in the first year of life,” says Professor Greaves, newly knighted childhood leukemia researcher at the Institute of Cancer Research in London. “Without that confrontation with an infection, the system is left unprimed and will not work properly.” Today’s children are exposed to fewer infections and more antibacterial soaps, wipes, and cleaners, leaving their immune system vulnerable to overreaction and chronic inflammation, which can be one of the triggers of the cancer process. Greaves research focus is now on finding the most important bacteria that can populate our microbiomes, and that are necessary to properly prime a child’s immune system and prevent later cancer development. And we should all be thinking about building tolerance, and supporting a healthy microbiome.
Practical Implementation of Fecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT)
Poop is therapy! Fecal Microbiota Transplants are increasingly used for highly refractory (difficult to treat) chronic GI infections and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). In fact, the cure rate for refractory Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection has been 90%, in over 500 cases reported to date. This article, published just last year, is a worthwhile look at the research as well as the practicalities in administering FMT, from donor selection, to stool preparation, route of administration, side effects and contraindications, for those who may be considering, or recommending FMT.
Measuring Circadian Disruptions will Allow us to Better Evaluate Interventions
“Virtually every cell in the body contains its own circadian clock machinery.” These systems control many functions, from body temperature, to blood pressure, to repair and detoxification. Disruptions in circadian rhythms (for example, due to jet lag, shift work, illness) are already known to cause ill effects which, if prolonged are associated with diseases including diabetes, heart disease, neurodegeneration and depression. Scientists are working on finding ways to measure circadian rhythms, that can then be used to study the effects of interventions like light therapy and melatonin. In the meantime, attention to healthy sleep is good for all of us!
Essential Oils and Plant Extracts Block Aflatoxin Production
The antimicrobial potency of botanicals against pathogenic microbes are known and utilized in “non-alternative” industries. I remember from my post-doc days in a Functional Medicine lab, thymol (a compound extracted from thyme) was used to stabilize specimens. It is still used in labs and in conventional agriculture. Just recently, a peer-reviewed Food Science Journal published on essential oils in general, as well as ‘plant extracts’ for their antifungal activity against toxic aflatoxin production by Aspergillus mold. While botanical remedies used in humans may seem gentle compared with pharmaceuticals (and indeed often work with fewer/no side effects), they have a long history of medicinal use and their impacts are complex, wide-reaching and remarkable.
How Ancient Remedies are Changing Modern Medicine
One of the oldest, most effective, and scientifically proven medicines comes from a traditional botanical remedy—aspirin, which is derived from willow bark. One of the most effective anti-malarial drugs, artemisinin (for which the researcher who discovered it won the 2015 Nobel Prize for medicine) is derived from the botanical remedy, wormwood. This article about how researchers continue to study classical herbal remedies for modern applications is a fascinating read.
Connecting Choline, Methylation Health and Alzheimer’s Prevention
Choline, an important nutrient for methylation and epigenetic health, may improve Alzheimer’s-related memory loss by reducing homocysteine, taming excess microglial cell activation, and regulating epigenetic methylation, according to researchers at Arizona State University’s Neurodegenerative Disease Research Center. It is also used to produce acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter for healthy brain and nerve function.
Mainstream Doctor Laments Poor Nutrition Training on CNN
A mainstream cardiologist recently lamented in a CNN article she published – “It took more than 80,000 hours of training for me to become a cardiologist. How much of that time was spent on nutrition? Zero.” This the lament of a conventionally-trained (Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins) cardiologist Dr. Elizabeth Klodas in her recently-published article on CNN. Her mission? To reduce routine statin use for cholesterol. For an even more on how to maintain top cardiovascular health, including a more nuanced view of cholesterol issues, click through to this podcast.