Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Comprehensive Sickness... Assured.

When Mexico gained independence from the Spaniards, back in the beginning of the 19th century (more precisely in 1821), California was naturally attached to Mexico. But then conflict stroke the territory once again (with the Mexican-American war) and the United States took California from the Mexicans (in 1848) making it a couple years later their 31st state. However, President Trump sees as a matter of necessity the protection of the Mexican-North American contiguous areas, and for that matter demands the building of a dividing wall, apparently to be paid by the Mexicans.

The British Empire was made of so many colonies that it would take me loads of pages to describe its lineage and the occurrences that determined such structuring. From Antigua and Barbuda to Zanzibar the world was undeniably under British dominance. Almost totalitarian if it wasn't for the spicy Spaniards and the modest Portuguese; intrepid sailors that arrogantly 'divided' the world in two, to avoid further friction between their vessels. However, when I walk on the streets of England, or turn the TV on to get to know the News of the Day, there is always a person claiming 'Brexit is good as it is about time these benefit-sucking foreigners leave the country'.

I am not going to judge empires, the historical process of colonisation or people's short memory in what regards the enslaving of weaker nations, the enriching of the bases with illicitly obtained goods and treasures. This is part of the social fabrics of every single former world potency. The British did it, the Portuguese, the Spaniards, the Dutch, the French, the Germans, and so on and so forth. However, this totalitarian Ingsoc ideology is not solely alive in Orwell's dystopian 1984. The reality is that the common citizen wishes, by his/her own interpretation of what history should mean and represent, to believe that it is natural to accept that 'who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past'.

This despotic and self-inflicted autonomous ignorance is bliss. But some waves of people, honest workers from foreign countries are somewhat dragged by this tsunami of 'imposed and unspoken prerogatives' intended to limit the access of some to basic rights of the many. As for example, the right to be informed of something naturally relevant for the security of one's future. Even nowadays, for example as when I speak to friends who like myself have been involved with scientific research, and for that purpose have travelled from their home countries to embark in the adventure of being scientists abroad. We cannot help but be blatantly mesmerised by the numerous things that we were not informed of, and that have been disguised by the institutions as 'information available on the websites'.

Recently, we were discussing the difficulties faced by many of us, who have been living in England for over 10 years now, in fulfilling certain privileges. How difficult it has become to obtain a British passport for our children born in England. How complicated the process has turned to be, after Brexit was approved and our statutes were downrated from 'valuable science minds' to 'undesirable trade currency - inanimate beings in the negotiation process between the European Union and the leavers looking to retain rights for the common trading market'. 

The fact is that sometimes a simple document can make a whole difference in our honest lives, and had we been properly informed of the need to obtain certain documentation at our arrival, the fulfilling of citizenship rights wouldn't look such hardship. The Comprehensive Sickness Insurance is a great example of something vital that was not a guarantee 'granted' by the different universities in the UK foraging for students worldwide. However, had these students been informed that this simple document is crucial when applying for citizenship/residency, after many years of actually contributing to the growth of the country... I am sure many of us, science students or researchers, would have asked for more clarity and initiative from our welcoming institutions, for more openness concerning such vital information that simply wasn't properly transferred, at our arrivals or far before during the recruitment process.

We now watch this alienation unfold where we are gradually being treated as a disease some (many unfortunately) want to get rid of. Our respective families invested time, money and energy preparing our futures and constantly contributed to the prestige of this country. But there are still misinformation 'geisers' that prompted many of us towards the disintegration process that was triggered when 'David Cameron naively decided to get his fingers in the referendum socket to see what would happen', as some comic intelligently said the other day on national television.

Also on national television there was a great documentary about Black History in England. In one of these incredibly good episodes, I had the opportunity to watch a lady saying it all. She basically resumed my personal experience with her own words and personal facts by saying something along these lines: "England offered me many opportunities; opportunities I was never given in my country of origin. But I had to work extremely hard to guarantee here the very little I actually possess".

Donald Trump calls the unwanted foreigners, the aliens. Here in the UK we are categorised as the migrants. Amid labelling stamps what we can actually observe is that the developed world is still unprepared to consider foreign honest workers as something more than a comprehensive sickness... that's for sure.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Why does my head hurt when I drink avocado leaves tea?

The first thing that I feel when someone complaints of headaches and inquires about the reasons behind it, is - I don't know, it could be a million different things. And in reality it could indeed be a million different things. The brain and its mysteries still to unfold, from a common headache to the overwhelming migraine. However, if one states that whenever one has something specific a headache surfaces, then we can restrain to a thousand, rather than a million, different reasons.

An anonymous person asked me, through the avocado leaves tea for cancer and osteoarthritis post (read here), why her/his head always heart when drinking avocado leaves tea. I must be honest, I never heard such thing before. My curiosity got even stronger when after a very quick search through a few science articles, I immediately got confronted with several other reports from other complaints pointing in the same direction.

Nonetheless, I gave it a lot of thought and found some interesting scientific facts that 'might', to a certain extent, point towards the causality in this headache complaint from one of my readers. A complaint of headaches after drinking avocado leaves tea.

Fact 1) Avocado is anecdotally linked to chronic headache due to the presence of two biochemicals, namely, histamine and tyramine. And you can even find it on the web as a NO-NO food in this novel headache-free diet based on information adapted from [1].

Fact 2) Avocados are related to hypertension incidents due to monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) that ultimately interfere with the metabolism of the previously mentioned agents (see fact 1). Even though it is also reported that hypertensive episodes cannot immediately be related to the presence of tyramine in avocados, as I suggest in the opening paragraph, I was able to find actually a case-report for a 35 year old white male who ate avocados and guacamole. And guacamole is based on ripen avocado that due to its maturity is likely to have an increased content, tyramine-wise. In that same report [2] they let us know that the patient is dealing with a fair amount of other health issues, but also state that "The amount of tyramine that is dangerous for a patient being treated with MAOIs is not known precisely, although it has been reported that 6 mg is sufficient to produce adverse reactions, and that 25 mg is dangerous", as stated in [3]. These values are based on a fairly old article from 1965, one that needs to be taken with a pinch of salt even though the human body is still a human body, but the analytical methods have improved tremendously.

Fact 3) It is important to be aware that tyramine on its own, may or may not be the cause for hypertension-based headaches. But molecular interactions between tyramine and certain pharmaceuticals (e.g., MAOIs for depression) can determine a low breakdown rate of the former. Thus, resulting in an strong tyramine effect on the vascular system. So, it is also very important to know if indeed some medicine one is taking can be behind a lower metabolic 'digestion' of the tyramine content.

Fact 4) Tyramine is the metabolic product of the breakdown of amino acid Tyrosine that is also present in several other types of food. But in avocados there is also histamine, a potent neurotransmitter with a crucial role in our immune system, therefore allergies and the like. Histamine intolerance is known to be more frequently reported these days (estimated 1% of adults may be histamine-intolerant with 80% of these being females) according to [4], and since histamine is a vasoactive amine, as tyramine also is, these reported headaches after drinking avocado leaves tea could be due to histamine rather than tyramine. I must plea ignorance on the real content of histamine and tyramine in avocado leaves, I just couldn't find it anywhere, I'm afraid. Vasoactive amines can trigger allergy-like symptoms, such as headaches, rashes, hot flushes, etc etc etc [5]. Usually these symptoms occur around half an hour after consumption and vary from individual to individual.

Based on the extremely limited amount of information provided by the reader I can only say that one can be present to one of these facts, be it a histamine intolerance/sensitivity, an interaction between tyramine and medication or an excessive intake of tyramine/histamine. My opinion is that a nutritionist can help any of you unveil the source of the problem - if you also have it.

But in the meantime to help those who are always seeking for advice on food intolerance, I added to the list of links here in the blog, right on the Toxic Databases (see image below), a link that will take you straight to the Food Intolerance Diagnostics web page. There you can actually get to know so much more about loads of other food intolerance issues.Hope it helps!


[1]. The American Council for Headache Education Tyramine Restricted Diet & Theisler CW: Migraine Headache Disease: Diagnostic and Management Strategies. Austintown: Aspen Publishers; 1990, pp. 111–112.

[2]. Generali, J. A., Hogan, L. C., McFarlane, M., Schwab, S., Hartman, C. R. (1981). "Hypertensive crisis resulting from avocados and a MAO inhibitor". Drug Intelligence and Clinical Pharmacy, 15, pp. 904-905.

[3]. BlackweIl, B., Mabbitt, L. A. (1965). "Tyramine in cheese-related hypertension crisis after monamine oxidase inhibition". Lancet, 1, pp. 938-40.

[4]. Histamine, tyramine and other biogenic amines, Food intolerance diagnostics, [http://foodintolerances.org/intolerances/histamine-biogenic-amines-intolerance/], last visited on the 10th of February 2017, last updated on the 16th of August 2016.

[5]. Histamine intolerance, Allergy UK, [https://www.allergyuk.org/common-food-intolerances/histamine-intolerance], laast visited on the 10th of February 2017, last updated on October 2015.

Post image kindly taken from "Everyday Health" - 8 Smart Food Swaps for a Healthy Heart, [http://www.everydayhealth.com/atrial-fibrillation/diet/food-swaps-for-healthy-heart/].

Monday, 6 February 2017

You better clean up this mess, Pythagoras of Samos!

Indian children died after 'eating lychees on empty stomach' - A BBC News article

"US and Indian scientists say a mystery illness that killed more than 100 children a year in northern India was caused by eating lychees on an empty stomach.
For more than two decades, apparently healthy children in a region of Bihar suffered sudden seizures and lost consciousness.
Almost half died, baffling doctors.
New research, published in the medical journal The Lancet, now suggests they were poisoned by the fruit.


Most of the victims were poor children in India's main lychee-producing region who ate fruit that had fallen on to the ground in orchards, the journal said.
Lychees contain toxins that inhibit the body's ability to produce glucose, which affected young children whose blood sugar levels were already low because they were not eating dinner.
They woke screaming in the night before suffering convulsions and losing consciousness as they suffered acute swelling of the brain.
Researchers examining sick children admitted to hospital in Muzaffarpur between May and July 2014 found a link to an outbreak of sickness that caused brain swelling and convulsions in children in the Caribbean.
That outbreak was caused by the ackee fruit, which contained hypoglycin, a toxin that prevents the body from making glucose. Tests then showed that lychees also contained hypoglycin.
This led health officials to tell parents to make sure young children got an evening meal and limit the number of lychees they were eating.
Children suffering symptoms associated with the outbreak should be rapidly treated for hypoglycaemia, or low blood sugar, officials said.
The number of reported cases of the sickness has since fallen from hundreds each year to about 50, the New York Times reported."
In BBC News on the 1st of February 2017.
Read the original article from BBC News here

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

A comment on 'The New Antibiotic Paradox'

One of my favourite blogs, actually advertised somewhere here in my blog, is called the 'Antibiotics - The Perfect Storm'. They just published a very current and important post on the antibiotic research dilemma and I had to leave them with my opinion. Who do I think I am to just go on leaving my opinion everywhere like that? I'm a guy completely in love with antibiotic research and bacterial toxigenesis. Please find the original post entitled "The New Antibiotic Paradox" HERE, and my opinion transcribed below. Feel free to also discuss the matter hereby if you will.

After a PhD where I was working with synthetic antagonists for Pseudomonas' PqsR, I am inclined to believe that the solution is not entirely about a novel funding strategy. Firstly, the governments must be on the front drive of the train leading by example, doing exactly what the private market is not willing to do. That is why governments exist in the first place (sorry for the obvious exaggeration), but the reality is that a society should always be able to resort to governmental strategies to tackle eminent problems. Waiting for the private market to find a solution for something that is yet a 'somewhat distant' issue will do us no good. Unless nature creates an urgent need for reaction, the private market won't even research a tangible answer for the hypothetical need for antibiotics. The reality is that the media see these new 'iatrogenic superbugs' as something distant and mysterious, when they're just around the corner, waiting for that window of opportunity to really get us with our pants down.

I see the model differently. I see it as a proper research program throughout state universities focusing on a scheme that could be inexpensive and fast. I talk about merging two ideas, 1) the modelling of computerised protein-binding predictions with subsequent testing in live cultures of these developed synthetic molecules, and 2) 'in silico' production of what I'd like to call 'intelligent & versatile' synthetic molecules that with minor changes can rapidly counteract enzymatic inhibition. In what comes to the second point, as far as I could learn from my own research experience and the recent worldwide research on Pseudomonas aeruginosa PqsR antagonists, most of the success comes from using not only halogen particles (F, Cl, Br, I...) and the non-metal sulfur. Additionally, the location of these functional groups, be it on the vicinity of the core structure or along the core structure, is also very important. As it is their distance to the main aromatic clusters!!! The moment we build an intelligent portfolio of easily intra-changeable synthetic antagonists of bacterial virulence pathways, we will open the door to a new world.

Am I right in thinking that? Well, I believe so. But I'd love to hear from experts in this area.


Sunday, 29 January 2017

A train of oxidative consequences - manganese and Sjogren's

Here is the follow-up to the post I wrote last time on the tackling of extreme tiredness, a typical symptom felt by Sjogren's syndrome's patients. Remember I did link it to the 'greedy' metabolism of folic acid and vitamin B12 (HERE), triggered by the spiral-shaped bacteria Helicobacter pylori. If you remember there was still a bit of a bridge to build in order to establish a better understanding of the whole chain of consequences. I could not immediately understand how we could go from high homocysteine levels to a manganese deficiency (see diagram on referred post).

OK, but just for the sake of remembering exactly what was mentioned, let me produce a 'train' of consequences hereby:

H. pylori is responsible for the chronic degenerative gastritis -> that results in low plasma levels of folic acid and vitamin B12 -> with produced consequences to our 'chromosomal health' -> responsible for the elevated homocysteine levels (possibly linked to a defective participation of the enzyme methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase responsible for hyperhomocysteneimia) [1] -> resulting in chromosomal imbalance and genotoxicity.

But what is in fact the impact of elevated homocysteine levels in the human blood plasma that is likely to induce a serious reduction in the manganese levels? And what real impact does this manganese deficiency have on patients suffering with Sjogren's syndrome?

Very well! For the bacterium to establish itself in our gastric environment it will have to face a very acidic challenge, i.e., the neutralisation of the gastric juices. And how is this done? By releasing enzymes (arginase and subsequently urease) into the acidic moiety that use up the second-favoured metal co-factor manganese (when cobalt is not readily available) [2]. As simple as that! And that is the primary action that will determine a manganese deficiency in our system. That, alongside the prior folic acid and vitamin B12 reduction (also especially correlated to high homocysteine levels 'in men' as suggested by [3]), complement a very particular and aggressive attack to biochemical 'energy' determinants. Affecting exactly what? The mitochondria and the releasing of reactive oxygen species that will poison our body. Why? Because free radicals will negatively interact in random unexpected ways with numerous other important molecules throughout our organism [4].

With less manganese available the weaponry to detoxify our organism will be found deprived. Because manganese is a component of the superoxide dismutase that acts as a powerful antioxidant. This is why it is so important for those coping with Sjogren's syndrome to have a daily intake of around 30 g of walnuts. Because alongside omega-3 these nuts provide us with important manganese batteries.

There we go! Bridge created. We can now cross to the other side and 'recce'. In the coming Sjogren's syndrome post I will be disclosing my utter secrets on my favourite weaponry against the most limiting symptoms one can be affected with. I will bring a list of the finest guns for your protection and counterattack.

In the meantime and before I go, I must give 'kudos' to an impressive blog that helped me think through the processes when I got stuck in my scientific approach. I read a post that helped me establish this chain of events in a way that I found it so much easy to write after reading it. This is proof that there are very intelligent and dedicated science people writing for the common public these days. The blog I am referring to is called "Gutsy" and you can access it here. Apart from the excessive advertising and the cliché bible verses, said blog is very good indeed.


A special thanks to the 'Gutsy' writer of the post:



[1] Friedman, G., Goldschmidt, N., Friedlander, Y., Ben-Yehuda, A., Selhub, J., Babaey, S., Mendel, M., Kidron, M., Bar-On, H. (1999). "A common mutation A1298C in human methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase gene: Association with plasma total homocysteine and folate concentration". The Journal of Nutrition129(9), pp. 1956-1961.

[2] Azizian, H., Bahrami, H., Pasalar, P., Amanlou, M. (2010). "Molecualr modelling of Helicobacter pylori arginase and the inhibitor coordination increases". Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling, 28(7), pp. 626-635.

[3] Lussier-Cacan, S., Xhignesse, M., Piolot, A., Selhub, J., Davignon, J., Genest, J. (1996). "Plasma total homocysteine in healthy subjects:sex-specific relation with biological traits". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 64(4), pp. 587-593.

[4] Halliwell, B. (1991). "Reactive oxygen species in living systems: Source, biochemistry, and role in human disease". The American Journal of Medicine, 91(3-3), pp. S14-S22.