Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Abnormal calcium homeostasis in peripheral neuropathies

Any Sjogren's syndrome patient must be aware of abnormal neuronal calcium homeostasis as a condition that could potentially affect one as the disease progresses. 

It doesn't have to happen to everyone, but if it does it is important to seek medical advice. I for one know that many patients were able to control their tremors and their numbness simply by supplying themselves with a calcium supplement. In many cases this practice solved a problem that not only is pertinent physiologically speaking, but can be also very detrimental emotionally speaking. The fact that the mind starts looking for a name for the symptoms usually directs the affected people to consider themselves affected by early-stage Parkinsonism or even letting the mind escalate to more serious and incongruent diagnosis. 

Abnormal calcium channel expression/function results in what is known as cellular dyshomeostasis , an imbalance that will affect the plasma membrane calcium signalling and the intracellular calcium in those cells related to the peripheral nervous system [1]. For those who are not so familiar with how the human body works to the cellular level, I found an incredibly good image that will allow one to understand how calcium is so important in, for example, muscular fatigue:


In a web-article by Ryan Andrews (I have no idea who this bloke is or his professional proficiency - I'm just assessing what he said) one can find this image (see above) from the New York Times. The image explains that it is the in- and outflow of cellular calcium that controls the way muscles work, to a certain extent (just to make it simple enough for those unaware of the depths of cell biology). For contraction, calcium is 'expelled', and for relaxation, calcium is sent in to the cellular moiety. If this system is affected by the typical systemic alterations that in Sjogren's syndrome cause metabolic imbalance to the molecular level, then the patients will be prone to sense some detrimental effects on their peripheral nervous system.

But before we go any further let's just go back a little bit to understand what in fact is a peripheral neuropathy and also how is calcium involved in the symptoms produced in the affected body. 

Peripheral neuropathy, as the name so well indicates, is a problem affecting the peripheral nervous system, or in simpler words, the mesh of nerves that connect the central nervous system in the brain with the extremities of our bodies. The moment you are a Sjogren's patient and for a certain period of time, not so occasional as one might think, are affected by numbness or a tingling sensation, loss of balance, loss of coordination, muscular weakness, pain in the limbs, or abnormal sensitivity to touch [3], you have an alarm bell ringing. Because this is pretty much a list of symptoms that can be associated to a range of several other conditions, some of a more serious core, medical advice, as in any other medical situation, should be sought. 

The Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation published about three years ago a list of the Top 10 Peripheral Neuropathy and Sjogren's Facts [4] and I advise any Sjogren's patient to visit the website and have a good read. It will help deconstruct many monsters. 

In regards to resorting to medication, I personally avoid medication to the maximum possible because of side effects that can worsen, for example, xerostomia. And to be fair, in my personal case, a calcium supplement of 800 micrograms a day (2 tablets of 400 micrograms taken with my breakfast food) have corrected the problem entirely! If I'm not wrong the recommended daily dose for a man my age (38) is a gram a day, and then my vegetarian diet provides the subsequently needed calcium. Important to refer that because dairy products are, to a certain extent, to be avoided/controlled in regards to intake as they can be quite 'immunogenic' for the Sjogren's patient, my calcium really needs to be strongly controlled because I rarely have any cheese, I don't remember the last time I had cow's milk, and I don't eat any fish or meat, so...

The alterations I have produced in my life to my diet and behaviour have been working so far. I honestly need more discipline in accepting and applying all the alterations needed to really control the syndrome to a point I'll forget I even have it. So controlled that I can almost consider it 'cured'. There is a long way to go, but my changes have produced very positive effects.

I hope you can also improve, but if you suspect of peripheral neuropathy deriving from your condition, please seek medical advice before implementing any dietary changes.

Let's all get better!

[1] Fernyhough, P. and Calcutt, N. A. (2010). "Abnormal calcium homeostasis in peripheral neuropathies". Cell Calcium, 47(2), pp. 130-139. 

[2] All about vitamins and minerals, Precision Nutrition, [], last visited on the 15th of Novenber 2017, last update unknown.

[3] Can peripheral neuropathy be a defficiency issue?, Instant calmag-c, [], last visited on the 15th of Novenber 2017, last update on the 14th of October 2016.

[4] Peripheral neuropathy and Sjogren's, Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation, [], last visited on the 15th of November 2017, last updated on the 20t of November 2014.

Post image kindly taken from beliefnet []. 

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