November 5, 2005

Starfish - Scleroderma Breakthrough

"The other day I happened to catch part of a TV interview with an 80s rock star, and he was talking about how his life didn't mean anything until it had descended about as low as it could possibly go. He said sometimes, in order to go up, you've got to go down. I've never had to deal with the pressures of fame and fortune, but on a smaller scale, I think I know what he meant." by Jody "The Healer's Voice"


There was news this week that you had to listen very carefully for and, if you heard it, it rocked your world. Duke University released their findings about the cancer drug Taxol and Scleroderma. This release came closest to anything I have ever seen about exactly what is happening to my body and it offered hope for a cure.

New Clues into Causes of Scleroderma

DURHAM, N.C. – Using a novel model for scleroderma, researchers from Duke University Medical Center have discovered two important insights into this devastating disorder – the anti-cancer drug paclitaxel (Taxol) may prevent the skin thickening and small blood vessel destruction that characterizes the disease. Also, they found that a patient's own immune system may actually interfere with body's inherent ability to repair damage, and in particular, damage to small arteries.

The researchers are so encouraged by the results of their experiments in mice that they are in the early planning stages of a clinical trial incorporating their findings in human patients with the disease.

Scleroderma is a chronic degenerative disease that afflicts more than 300,000 Americans, primarily women. The life-threatening disorder is marked by dramatic tissue damage including hardening of the skin, shrinking of muscles, and damage to organs and blood vessels. To date, physicians have been unable to determine what causes the disease, and the available few therapies, serve primarily to relieve symptoms, according to the researchers.

"These new insights are critical clues to understanding a dreadful disease that has so far been impenetrable in terms of what causes it, by what mechanisms it works and why patients get so sick," said cardiologist Pascal Goldschmidt, M.D., senior member of the research team and chairman of Duke's Department of Medicine.

The results of the Duke studies were published in the Nov. 1, 2005, edition of Public Library of Science Medicine. The research was supported by the Scleroderma Research Foundation, San Francisco.

"While we really don't understand what causes scleroderma, we suspect that it may be autoimmune in nature, or that the body's own immune system is involved," said Chunming Dong, M.D., lead author of the paper "Using a novel mouse model, we were able to get a much better understanding of possible mechanisms of the disease that we can use to potentially slow down or reverse the process of tissue damage."

One of the most characteristic effects of the disease is the gradual formation of fibrotic tissue, which leaves patients with disfiguring and painful tightening of the skin. Additionally, the disease tends to slowly destroy small blood vessels and capillaries, which are not only present in skin, but also in internal organs, leaving them vulnerable to function failure.

It is known that the excessive fibrosis seen in scleroderma patients is in part the result of an inappropriate activation of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta), a substance called a cytokine that regulates the intensity and duration of the immune response. Too much TGF-beta activity can occur in the presence of destabilized microtubules, which give structural support to cells and are involved in the movement of genetic material during cell division. When microtubules become destabilized, a complex process ensues which leads to the excessive TGF-beta pathway activation, and consequent accumulation of collagen, the primary component of fibrotic tissue.

"We've learned in our previous studies that the treatment of individual cells with paclitaxel helps stabilize microtubules, thereby blocking the excessive activity of TGF-beta," Dong explained. "So in our latest studies, we were interested in determining whether or not paclitaxel would have any effect on tissue with scleroderma."

For their experiments, the Duke team used mice bred to have no immune system. They transplanted skin samples from humans with and without scleroderma onto the backs of these mice. Some of the skin samples were pre-treated for 30 minutes with paclitaxel.

"We found that the skin samples from scleroderma patients that were pre-treated with paclitaxel prior to transplantation significantly suppressed the activity of TGF-beta and lessened the formation of fibrotic tissue," Dong said.

Just as importantly, the researchers said, the mice that received the skin samples from scleroderma patients exhibited the beginning of new blood vessel formation, a process known as angiogenesis. These new blood vessels were of mouse, and not human, origin. Not only that, the researchers found that the level of angiogenesis in scleroderma skin samples was twice that of skin samples taken from patients without the disease, regardless of whether or not they were pre-treated with paclitaxel.

This finding of enhanced angiogenesis in scleroderma skin samples is important for two reasons, the researchers said.

First, one of the known side effects seen in cancer patients who take paclitaxel at much higher doses is an unwanted amplification of fibrosis and anti-angiogenesis. Since these two processes were not seen at the much lower doses of paclitaxel used in these experiments, the researchers are encouraged that paclitaxel might be safely used to benefit patients with scleroderma. Further studies are needed to determine optimum dosing, they said.

"Secondly, and just as importantly for our understanding of the disease, it appears that scleroderma skin still has the ability to send signals for repair, which includes the formation of new blood vessels, but for whatever reason, that repair does not occur in the patients, which it did occur in mice," Goldschmidt said.

Goldschmidt believes that mammals, including humans, have an inherent ability to repair damage to tissues. Specifically, according to Goldschmidt, specialized cells in the bone marrow known as vascular progenitor cells can be summoned to the site of blood vessel damage and contribute to the appropriate repairs. In scleroderma patients, this balance between damage and repair is skewed toward damage, with patients' smaller vessels slowly being destroyed and replaced by fibrotic tissue.

Going into the experiments, the researchers hypothesized that there were three possibilities to explain why the skin of scleroderma patients cannot trigger an angiogenic response: the skin is unable to send signals to the bone marrow; the signals are present but for some reason the bone marrow cannot respond; or lastly, the skin sends the signal to the bone marrow, which produces progenitor cells, but the immune system destroys the cells before they reach the site of damage.

"The results of this study rules out the first hypothesis, since the skin was clearly able to send the signal for angiogenesis, which did occur" Goldschmidt said. "The next step is to try to further define the underlying mechanism for the lack of blood vessels."

The researchers said that the answer is probably a combination of the last two factors.

"After the repeated vascular injury suffered by patients with scleroderma, it could be that the supply of progenitor cells becomes exhausted or that the produced cells are incompetent" Dong said. "Or, it could be that once the progenitor cells do leave the bone marrow, they are continually exposed to a noxious environment in the form of auto-antibodies so that they are unable to form new blood vessels."

Other members of the research team are, from Duke, Xialin Liu, Shoukang Zhu, and Tao Wang, as well as Laura Hummers and Frederick Wigley, Johns Hopkins University.

Posted by Sclero Crusader at 11:51 AM | Comments (46)

October 26, 2005

Over medicated

/\/ewsTarget Insider Alert (
Bringing you the inside story on topics that matter
(Please forward to others who may benefit)

I thought you might enjoy this hilarious look at new words to
describe our over-medicated society:

Medheads - People who take multiple prescription drugs on a daily
basis and, as a result, suffer from brain fog. They can be young (ADHD,
depression drugs), middle-aged (cholesterol drugs, diabetes drugs) or
elderly (Alzheimer's drugs, osteoporosis drugs, etc.). These are the
people you see on the road who drive for ten miles with their turn
signal on, who swing wide into the left lane before making a right
turn, and who take four full seconds to accelerate after the traffic
light turns green. Medheads. Not to be confused with Deadheads (who
are actually a lot more fun to talk to).

Black boxer - A consumer who takes drugs that are so dangerous, the
FDA requires the drug packaging to carry a large black box warning
about severe harm or death. Black boxers usually don't care about the
long-term harm to their health, they just want the pain (or other
symptom) to go away so they can get back to watching prime-time
television in relative comfort.

Drug madvertising - The practice of allowing drug companies to
advertise patented chemicals directly to consumers in order to create
demand for drugs that everyday people frankly do not understand. Every
country in the world bans the practice of Direct-To-Consumer (DTC)
drug advertising... except the United States, of course, where
consumers are subjected to a never-ending barrage of ridiculous drug
ads showing happy, healthy people popping purple pills they would
never consume in real life. Of all industrialized nations in the world,
only the U.S. (with the ever-caring support of the Food and Drug
Administration) endorses drug madvertising.

News repeater - Not be confused with a news reporter, a news repeater
is a person who gets paid to pretend to be a member of the press, but
who actually just regurgitates whatever health / medical news the drug
companies and the FDA are peddling this week. New miracle breast
cancer drug discovered! Vitamin E may kill you! Sunlight is deadly!
Don't trust Canadians (or their pharmacists)! Deadly, dangerous
Chinese herbs may have possibly killed someone somewhere! Drug
companies need billions of dollars in drug profits to find the cure
for cancer! Evidence-based medicine is credible! These are the type of
headlines constructed by news repeaters.

Fictitious disease - A fabricated disease invented for the sole
purpose of creating a new market for patented drugs. ADHD is the prime
example of a fictitious disease, and the psychiatric community is now
well-practiced at labeling human behaviors "brain chemistry imbalances
that need to be treated with chemicals." Other fictitious diseases
include high cholesterol (it's not a disease, it's just a symptom),
hypertension (also not a disease, but rather a symptom), and even
osteoporosis (not a disease, just fragile bones caused by dietary and
lifestyle habits that can be easily reversed).

Diseasification - The process of spreading the fictitious diseases
through the population. This is how drug companies get rich: by
manufacturing disease and convincing people they now suddenly suffer
from it. See "Spontaneous Mass Diagnosis," below. Diseasification is
greatly aided by drug madvertising (mass propaganda) designed to
change the way people think about health and disease. Fear of public
speaking used to merely be a fear. Now it's a disease, and there's a
drug to treat it. Menopause used to be menopause. Now it's a disease,
too. The former head of Merck, a man named Gadsden, once said he
wished to expand the drug market to healthy people, so he wouldn't be
limited to selling drugs only to sick people. He wanted people to take
drugs like they chew gum. What a visionary! (See Selling Sickness to
learn more.)

Spontaneous mass diagnosis - The process of redefining health in
order to instantly label as many consumers as possible with a
fictitious disease. Spontaneous mass diagnosis works by moving the
goalposts that define a disease state. A "normal" level of LDL
cholesterol used to be 130. Last year, a panel of corrupt medical
decision makers with under-the-table financial ties to drug companies
spontaneously decided that "normal" LDL cholesterol should be 100.
Overnight, ten million more Americans were suddenly afflicted with the
fictitious disease of high cholesterol. And the treatment for this
spontaneous disease? Statin drugs, of course. The aim of Big Pharma is
to make sure everyone fits the definition of at least one disease,
because the prescription drug lords know that once a person gets on
one prescription drug, the inevitable side effects will create other
health problems that need to be treated with even more drugs. Instant
recurring revenue! Now that's a clever marketing plan!

The Wall - Short for Walgreens, one of the top street corner
pharmacies in America. The Wall is where medheads and black boxers go
to buy dangerous drugs to treat their fictitious diseases because
they've been subjected to spontaneous mass diagnosis.

Permission is granted to repost, reprint or reproduce this satire
article in its entirety as long as no changes are made and credit is
given to the Health Ranger + a link to http://www.NewsTarget.

Posted by Sclero Crusader at 9:09 AM | Comments (768)

October 23, 2005

Bernie Siegel is God!

Do you know who Bernie Siegel is? He's a great cancer surgeon who got tired of watching people die and started questioning modern medicine. He has some great books out. I heard an interview on the radio with him on Friday and he said (I'm paraphrasing): "The way to avoid getting killed by our medical system is to be a pain in the ass. Buck the system. Make them know who you are, not just a number or a disease. That is survivor behavior." That is what I teach to my sclero friends. I really hope this helps you somehow.

Posted by Sclero Crusader at 7:51 AM | Comments (801)

October 19, 2005

My favorite supplement for scleroderma

From the "Life-Enhancement" website sited below. this is a great explanation of my favorite supplement for Scleroderma: L-Arginine:

"Arginine Boosts Insulin Sensitivity and Cardiovascular Function
Major age-related health problems can benefit from this amino acid

Arginine's effects (through its release of NO) on decreasing blood pressure and increasing blood flow are also central to its role in helping to protect against heart disease. They explain the ability of arginine to improve exercise capacity, even in patients with congestive heart failure (a chronic weakening of the heart’s pumping capacity).2 And they explain arginine's ability to decrease pulmonary vascular resistance (a measure of the resistance of blood vessels to the flow of blood through them) in the lungs of patients with pulmonary hypertension.3 (Pulmonary refers to the lungs.)

OK, but what is pulmonary hypertension? It's high blood pressure in the lungs - not a good thing. It comes about gradually as a consequence of untreated respiratory failure. And what is that? Respiratory failure is a condition in which oxygen levels in the blood become dangerously low, or carbon dioxide levels become dangerously high. It results from an inadequate exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the lungs and the blood, or from an inadequate movement of air in and out of the lungs. And those defects can be caused by many different diseases or conditions that affect one's ability to breathe properly. A few examples are chronic bronchitis, asthma, emphysema, muscular dystrophy, and obesity.

Let's review that chain of events in the reverse order (the order in which the events actually occur). Someone with one of those breathing-impairment conditions may develop respiratory failure, which is manifested as poor oxygenation of the blood. This can lead to pulmonary hypertension as the cardiovascular system tries to compensate for the oxygen deficiency. The pulmonary hypertension comes about through a constriction of the blood vessels, and this increases the pulmonary vascular resistance, because the now narrower inner diameter of the blood vessels tends to impede blood flow.

All in all, this is bad news, because regardless of what caused the respiratory failure in the first place, pulmonary hypertension will damage the blood vessels, further impairing oxygenation. And poor oxygenation will eventually cause heart failure and other malfunctions of the heart and brain. Finally, death pays a visit.

But didn't we say that arginine could help with pulmonary hypertension? Yes - and a recently published study from Japan gives new evidence of that fact.4 The study was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial on 19 patients (average age 49) with pulmonary hypertension. Oral arginine supplementation was followed by hemodynamic (blood-flow) testing and cardiopulmonary exercise testing, using a number of different measurement techniques that need not concern us. Let's just see the results.

Arginine's effects (through its release of NO)
on decreasing blood pressure and increasing
blood flow are also central to its role in
helping to protect against heart disease.

With a dose of 0.5 g of arginine per 10 kg of body weight (equivalent to 4 g for a 175-lb person), there was a 9% drop in pulmonary arterial pressure and a 16% drop in pulmonary vascular resistance 60 minutes after administration, indicating improved blood flow. For evaluation of exercise capacity, a dose of 1.5 g of arginine per 10 kg of body weight (equivalent to 12 g for a 175-lb person) was administered daily for one week. The patients were then tested while riding an exercise bicycle. With arginine (but not placebo) there was an 8% increase in peak oxygen consumption, associated with a 12% increase in peak work load, indicating improved cardiovascular function."

You can read more at:

Posted by Sclero Crusader at 10:44 AM | Comments (1464)

October 13, 2005

With thanks to Dr. Joseph Mercola:

Ponderisms from Dr. Joseph Mercola

Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.

Some people are like Slinkies. Not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you see one tumble down the stairs.

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.

Have you noticed since everyone has a camcorder these days no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

Posted by Sclero Crusader at 9:12 AM | Comments (110)