This blog is a way of sharing the information and resources that have helped me to recover my son Roo from an Autism Spectrum Disorder. What I have learned is to view our symptoms as the results of underlying biological cause, which can be identified and healed. I say "our symptoms" because I also have a neuro-immune disorder called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.

And, of course, I am not a doctor (although I have been known to impersonate one while doing imaginative play with my son)- this is just our story and information that has been helpful or interesting to us. I hope it is helpful and interesting to you!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Dr Russel Blaylock on Glutamate and Other Excitotoxins

This is a topic that I've been meaning to post about for some time, as I think it is very significant for people with autism and ME/CFS (as well as others).  I just came across a transcript of an interview with Dr Russel Blaylock, who has done a tremendous amount of research on this topic.  He has a book out called "Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills".  He is talking about MSG and aspartame for the most part, but this is relevant for the intake of dietary glutamate as well.  MSG is essentially the "crack" form of glutamate so dietary glutamate intake can lead to the same problems.  Here are some quotes from the interview:

He has a great deal to say on their role in cancer, which people with ME/CFS are at high risk of developing.  Interestingly a lot of the cancer associated with excitotoxin intake is leukemia and lymphoma which are common cancers seen in ME/CFS.   To learn more about this, I highly recommend reading the whole interview, but here are a few quotes to give you an idea:

"Excitotoxins have been found to dramatically promote cancer growth and metastasis. In fact, one excitotoxin researcher noticed that, when cancer cells were exposed to glutamate, they became more mobile, and you see the same effect with MSG. It also causes a cancer cell to become more mobile, and that enhances metastasis, or spread. These MSG-exposed cancer cells developed all of these pseudopodia and started moving through tissues, which is one of the earlier observations from cancer."

"What the Italian study found is that if you take these same animals and expose them to formaldehyde
in the same doses, they developed the same leukemias and lymphomas. If you look back at the Trocho
Study conducted in Spain a couple of years ago, what they found was when they radiolabeled the
aspartame, they could actually see formaldehyde binding to the DNA, and it produced both single and double strand DNA breakage.  

We know that when formaldehyde binds to DNA, it's very difficult to remove it. It will stay there for
long periods of time. What that means is if you just drink a single diet cola today, or sweeten something with NutraSweet, you're accumulating damage every day. Eventually, you're going to produce this necessary pattern of DNA damage to initiate the cancer, and once you develop the cancer, the aspartic acid component of aspartame will make the cancer grow very rapidly. You've got a double effect; it's causing the cancer, and it's making the cancer multiply very rapidly."

On the effects of glutamate on organs of the body:

"So, when you're consuming MSG, the level of glutamate in the blood can rise as high as 20-fold. You get very high glutamate levels in the blood after eating a meal containing MSG. You're stimulating all of the glutamate receptors. That's why some people get explosive diarrhea and dyspepsia, because it stimulates the receptors in the esophagus and small bowel. Others may develop irritable bowel, or if they have irritable bowel, it makes it a lot worse. If they have reflux, it makes that a lot worse. The thing about the cardiac conduction system glutamate receptors is this may explain the rise in sudden cardiac death."

He says that low magnesium levels make glutamate receptors extra sensitive.  This probably explains why magnesium is so effective at calming a racing heart and regulating arrhythmias.  People in the west are usually deficient in magnesium (due to our low-nutrient diet), a condition which worsens with age, which leads to the question of how many adults who take meds for their heart just have a magnesium deficiency?  This may also suggest a connection between oxalate sensitivity and glutamate sensitivity, as a high oxalate body burden will deplete magnesium stores.

He also says that while actual MSG was removed from baby formula in the 70s, it was replaced with forms of dietary glutamate such as caseinate and hydrolyzed soy.  He says "We're destroying the nervous systems of these babies."  He also points out that in studies, glutamate caused extreme weight gain in animals, so this could be a contribution to growing rates of obesity in the US.  One last quote about glutamate and obesity- "what we find in MSG-exposed animals is that they prefer carbohydrates and sugars over protein-rich foods."

His comments on soy:

"The worst of the things they're doing are the soy extracts. Soybeans, naturally, have one
of the highest glutamate levels of any of the plant products. When you hydrolyze it, you release the
glutamate, such as with the soy protein isolates. The glutamate levels are higher than a lot of what you'll find in other MSG-contaning products, yet the vegetarians are just eating it like it's the healthiest thing in the world. There was a 25-year study done, which looked at people who consumed the most soy products, and they followed them for 25 years and did serial CT scans of their brain. They found out that the people who consumed the most soybean products had the greatest incidence of dementia and brain atrophy."

On the blood-brain barrier:

"What researchers have shown is that there are glutamate receptors on both sides of the blood brain barrier and that when you expose these receptors to glutamate, it opens up the blood brain barrier. So, the glutamate itself can open the barrier, and I list all the conditions under which the barrier is broken. For instance, as you get older, your barrier becomes less competent. Almost all Alzheimer's patients have incompetent barriers. Heat stroke, seizures, autoimmune disorders and multiple sclerosis are all associated with an incompetent blood brain barrier."

On seizures:

"I don't know how many seizure patients I've gotten off their medicines by just getting them off MSG and giving them magnesium. They quit having seizures. They were on maximum dosages of medications and still having seizures. Most neurologists and neurosurgeons that treat seizures are not aware of this."

And lastly, he has this to say about all the neurological disorders that are becoming so common, including autism:

"You look at one person's research and they'll say, "Alzheimer's is related to mercury exposure," and then another one says, "No, it's related to pesticides," and yet another one says it something else, but they're all operating through the same mechanism. All of these things operate by increasing brain immune activity, and that activates excitotoxicity. So that's why all of them seem to be related, because they're all doing the same thing to the brain."