Free Access to the Proceedings of the EFP – AAP Workshop in Periodontology
Free Access to the Proceedings of the EFP – AAP Workshop in Periodontology
Zinc deficiency affects nearly 2 billion people in the developing world resulting in growth retardation, hypogonadism, immune dysfunction and cognitive impairment. Additionally, the roles of this divalent cation in the human body have not been clearly elucidated, since the essentiality of zinc has only been known within the last 50 years. However, it has been clearly documented that the supplementation of zinc improves many conditions such as; acute diarrhea in children, the common cold, infections in the elderly, oxidative stress and generation of inflammatory cytokines. Janet Ludwig, Ph.D. has worked in this area of study specifically modifying cellular injury by zinc supplementation.
This presentation from a webinar in May 2012 explore the following areas in order to begin to understand the therapeutic role of zinc in many inflammatory conditions:
• Zinc roles in the body-metalloenzymes
• Zinc as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent
• Membrane stabilization by zinc
• Inflammatory diseases ameliorated by zinc supplementation.
Janet Ludwig, PhD has worked in the area of zinc and inflammation for more than 25 years. She was at the Division of Surgical Biology at the Arizona Health Sciences Center studying zinc and cell injury induced by alcohol and carbon tetrachloride, an effective hepatotoxin. Additionally, she studied the mechanisms and structural identification of the potent class of inflammatory mediators, Platelet-Activating Factors (PAFs), at the Department of Pathology, University of Texas Health Sciences Center in San Antonio. She has taught courses in inflammation, biochemistry and nutrition at various Universities. She also travels to Bangkok, Thailand to give nutritional advice in a non-governmental organization that aids in improving the conditions for impoverished women and their children. Currently she is on the Hawthorn University faculty.
In a paper published in the international journal Pain in 2011, researchers from the University’s Nerve-Gut Research Laboratory explain how peppermint activates an “anti-pain” channel in the colon, soothing inflammatory pain in the gastrointestinal tract.
Dr Stuart Brierley says while peppermint has been commonly prescribed by naturopaths for many years, there has been no clinical evidence until now to demonstrate why it is so effective in relieving pain.
“Our research shows that peppermint acts through a specific anti-pain channel called TRPM8 to reduce pain sensing fibres, particularly those activated by mustard and chilli. This is potentially the first step in determining a new type of mainstream clinical treatment for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS),” he says.
IBS is a gastrointestinal disorder, causing abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhoea and/or constipation. It affects about 20% of Australians and costs millions of dollars each year in lost productivity, work absenteeism and health care.
“This is a debilitating condition and affects many people on a daily basis, particularly women who are twice as likely to experience Irritable Bowel Syndrome,” Dr Brierley says.
“Some people find their symptoms appear after consuming fatty and spicy foods, coffee and alcohol, but it is more complex than that. There appears to be a definite link between IBS and a former bout of gastroenteritis, which leaves nerve pain fibres in a heightened state, altering mechanisms in the gut wall and resulting in ongoing pain.”
Dr Brierley says the recent floods in Queensland and Victoria could result in a spike of gastroenteritis cases in Australia due to the contamination of some water supplies in affected regions.
He said case studies in Europe and Canada showed that many people who contracted gastroenteritis from contaminated water supplies went on to experience IBS symptoms that persisted for at least eight years.
There is no cure for IBS and it often comes and goes over a person’s lifetime.
Apart from gastroenteritis and food intolerance, IBS can be brought on by food poisoning, stress, a reaction to antibiotics, and in some cases is genetic.
Dr Brierley is one of 25 researchers who work at the University of Adelaide’s Nerve-Gut Research Laboratory, hoping to find cures and treatments for a range of intestinal diseases.
Harrington AM, Hughes PA, Martin CM, Yang J, Castro J, Isaacs NJ, Blackshaw LA, Brierley SM. A novel role for TRPM8 in visceral afferent function. Pain 2011; 152 (7): 1459-1468.
The findings suggest that if young participants can get such improvements from specific dietary supplements, then the elderly and people at high risk for certain diseases might benefit even more.
The findings by a team of researchers at Ohio State University were just published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity. It is the latest from more than three decades of research into links between psychological stress and immunity.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), have long been considered as positive additives to the diet. Earlier research suggested that the compounds might play a role in reducing the level of cytokines in the body, compounds that promote inflammation, and perhaps even reduce depression.
Psychological stress has repeatedly been shown to increase cytokine production so the researchers wondered if increasing omega-3 might mitigate that process, reducing inflammation.
To test their theory, they turned to a familiar group of research subjects – medical students. Some of the earliest work these scientists did showed that stress from important medical school tests lowered students’ immune status.
“We hypothesized that giving some students omega-3 supplements would decrease their production of proinflammatory cytokines, compared to other students who only received a placebo,” explained Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, professor of psychology and psychiatry.
“We thought the omega-3 would reduce the stress-induced increase in cytokines that normally arose from nervousness over the tests.”
The team assembled a field of 68 first- and second-year medical students who volunteered for the clinical trial. The students were randomly divided into six groups, all of which were interviewed six times during the study. At each visit, blood samples were drawn from the students who also completed a battery of psychological surveys intended to gauge their levels of stress, anxiety or depression. The students also completed questionnaires about their diets during the previous weeks.
Half the students received omega-3 supplements while the other half were given placebo pills.
“The supplement was probably about four or five times the amount of fish oil you’d get from a daily serving of salmon, for example,” explained Martha Belury, professor of human nutrition and co-author in the study.
Part of the study, however, didn’t go according to plans.
Changes in the medical curriculum and the distribution of major tests throughout the year, rather than during a tense three-day period as was done in the past, removed much of the stress that medical students had shown in past studies.
“These students were not anxious. They weren’t really stressed. They were actually sleeping well throughout this period, so we didn’t get the stress effect we had expected,” Kiecolt-Glaser said.
But the psychological surveys clearly showed an important change in anxiety among the students: Those receiving the omega-3 showed a 20 percent reduction in anxiety compared to the placebo group.
An analysis of the of the blood samples from the medical students showed similar important results.
“We took measurements of the cytokines in the blood serum, as well as measured the productivity of cells that produced two important cytokines, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFa),” said Ron Glaser, professor of molecular virology, immunology & medical genetics and director of the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research.
“We saw a 14 percent reduction in the amounts of IL-6 among the students receiving the omega-3.” Since the cytokines foster inflammation, “anything we can do to reduce cytokines is a big plus in dealing with the overall health of people at risk for many diseases,” he said.
While inflammation is a natural immune response that helps the body heal, it also can play a harmful role in a host of diseases ranging from arthritis to heart disease to cancer.
While the study showed the positive impact omega-3 supplements can play in reducing both anxiety and inflammation, the researchers aren’t willing to recommend that the public start adding them to the daily diet.
“It may be too early to recommend a broad use of omega-3 supplements throughout the public, especially considering the cost and the limited supplies of fish needed to supply the oil,” Belury said. “People should just consider increasing their omega-3 through their diet.”
Some of the researchers, however, acknowledged that they take omega-3 supplements.
Also working on the research with Kiecolt-Glaser, Glaser and Belury were William Malarkey, professor emeritus of internal medicine, and Rebecca Andridge, an assistant professor of public health.
The study was supported in part by a grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a part of the National Institutes of Health.