Welcome Interested Fungus Readers!

We hope this blog brings insight to the world of health and it's relationship to fungus. Comments are encouraged. Better health is a must.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The State of Fungus in the US - A History, Part 2

Okay, here's the answer to the Trivia Question from yesterday's blog:

The first person to develop an antifungal agent was actually a collaborative effort by two women, Rachel F. Brown, an organic chemist, and Elizabeth L. Hazen, PhD. in Bacteriology and Immunology. In 1950, their 'fungicidin' to specifically combat C. neoformans and C. albicans, was presented to the National Academy of Science. Four years later it was approved by the FDA for sale as an antifungal agent, and the name was changed to nystatin, in honor of the state in which it was discovered - New York State.

The development of other antifungal agents in the United States followed suit, with geographical, military, CDC and other opportunities influencing their need. Unfortunately, the role of antibiotics masked the importance of antifungal agents, yet had not eliminated their need completely.

Concurrently, information regarding the presence of Aspergillis and Candida in medical reports for patients who had taken antibiotics started surfacing quietly. In fact, the AMA Council on Pharmacy and Chemistry mandated pharmaceutical agencies to report on packaging the hazard of using antibiotics and the association of Candida growth. Reports of mycotic disease related to antibiotic use continued to rise into the 60's, as did reports of fungal infections in patients taking hormone therapies.

Research on antibiotic use and its correlation with fungal pathogens helped urge the formation of the first Medical Mycology Society of Americas (MMSA) in the early 1960's, and elevated credibility of the United States in medical mycology and research as one of the top countries in the world.

The first image above left is Aspergillus. The second image above right is Candida albicans.

Resources: http://www.aspergillus.org.uk/secure/articles/pdfs/MM44supplement1/17050419.pdf

Monday, April 4, 2011

The State of Fungus in the US - A History, Part 1

The United States has taken a back seat to Europe in the study of medical mycology (study of fungi). It wasn't until the late 1940's that the United States focused on medical mycology as a separate science, not because pathogenic fungi was not studied by clinicians and researchers, but because mycology had been previously classified under pathology, microbiology, dermatology and bacteriology.

In 2003, Ana Victoria Espinel-Ingroff published Medical mycology in the United States: A historical analysis (1894-1996), a publication that became the milestone in the history of medical mycology in the United States. According to Espinel-Ingroff, "Lewis David von Schweinitz, of German origin, is regarded as the first American mycologist for his description and collection by the 1820s of over 1,300 fungi. However, it was not until the late 1890s that medical scientists began systematically to investigate fungi implicated in human disease."

One of the most well-known studies of fungal infection, first noted in the late 1890's and carrying into the 1940's by physicians and researchers, was "valley fever". It was isolated to the region of the San Joaquin Valley in California, and affected over 450 farm labourers and trainee soldiers. Studies found the fungal pathogen Coccidioides immitus had became airborne and entered the body through inhalation. This research was significant for medical mycology history because it encouraged other researchers to study the effects of fungal pathogens on humans, and brought attention to fungal disease as a major player in human disease.

Tune in tomorrow for more on The State of Fungus in the US - A History....
Here's a trivia question, "Who was the first person to develop an antifungal agent (drug)?"

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Spring Fungus

Many people in the northern United States feel mid-March is a good time for the snow to stop falling and for the sun to shine to melt the snowbanks. It is well worth the puddle-jumping and accumulation of mud to feel a rise in temperature and give the spirit a boost. The feeling of optimism, renewal and warmth far outweighs the problems with moisture, until the allergies start and mold and mildew appear inside and out.

Changes in the weather and increased humidity can stimulate the growth of buds on trees and shrubs, and also create the perfect environment for moisture-friendly fungi to take up residence. This is why a household should keep their hot, humid, wet bathroom as dry as possible by venting excess moisture, to control areas where fungi infiltrate. It's easier to work at preventing mold than to continue to clean areas where mold is present. Fungus is hearty.

To stay healthy at this time of year, avoid overly moist areas where you may breathe in or come in contact with fungal spores. Once the fungal spores are in the body or penetrate the skin, once again, it's hard to get rid of them. If you believe you have a fungus problem, there are a number of antifungals (olive leaf extract, apple cider vinegar, garlic, undecylenic acid, grapefruit seed extract, caprylic acid, oil of oregano, curcumin), probiotics (it should contain 3 billion or more a day) and fiber (psyllium, flaxium, organic kamut grass leaf powder) to eliminate it. Also, keep sugar in the diet to a minimum. Sugar only feeds fungus.

Be aware of your surroundings and how they may affect you. Fungus symptoms of the skin are systemic or topical, and appear in the form of a rash, cracking, peeling, itching or raised bumps. Fungal lung conditions are due to inhalation of fungal spores and can cause fatigue, brain fog, coughing, and flu-like symptoms. Natural antifungal supplements will be effective within the first few weeks if your diet is extremely low carbohydrate. Remember, fungus loves sugar and won't leave if you keep feeding it.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Fungal Secretion

Approximately 8 months ago, Japanese researchers reported their findings on how fungus creates a guise in their attack on the immune system of plants, animals and humans. The guise is called chitin fragments - particles deposited around a fungus, which warns a host of a potential attack, stimulating its immune system. Once the immune system is warned, a protein is secreted by the fungus which collects the chitin fragments and makes them invisible to the plant, animal or human. The immune system backs down because it lacks recognition of the fungus and the attack begins. Pretty smart, those fungi.

"This knowledge may enable scientists to design novel methods to combat fungal diseases in agriculture (leaf mould, root and stalk rot, smut, wilt disease, apple scab, rust, tree cancer) and in health care (dandruff, athlete's foot, candida-infections, aspergillosis, etc.)."1

What the statement above fails to recognize are the numerous other diseases, potentially life-threatening, that are prevalent in many facets of society. Fungal related disease can strike anyone, at any time, especially those with weakened immune systems. These fungi have the capability of developing strategies to avoid an attack by white blood cells in humans, and create a very complex environment in the host body for any researcher to pinpoint the most effective counterattack. Another problem with a fungal disease is its ability to invade the body, multiply quickly and harbor itself before being recognized by a healthcare professional.

One well known fungal strain causing attention in the Northwestern United States is Cryptococcus gattii. Due to cold temperatures and the strain being of tropical origins, it has taken approximately twelve years to spread from Vancouver, British Columbia, down the coast to northern California. This particular strain causes severe respiratory and brain infection, however, is still pretty rare.

Other strains of fungal infections and disease are Candida glabrata (a skin fungus that rapidly mutates once in the blood stream); Chromoblastomycosis; Zygomycosis; Onychomycosis (the most common nail infection); and Endophthalmitis. There are way too many to list here.

The bright side to all this? A person can protect themselves from fungal infection and disease by eating a very low carbohydrate diet, taking probiotics and taking a series of antifungals to kill off any potential invasive organisms. The low carbohydrate diet is just as critical as supplementation because the lack of sugars in the body will starve fungus, keeping it from multiplying. Here's a little evidence to prove it.

1Wageningen University and Research Centre (2010, August 20). Smart fungus disarms plant, animal and human immunity. ScienceDaily.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Bye, Bye Weight

Here's a little story:

Approximately thirty years ago, a man named Doug Kaufmann started taking the fungus and disease correlation quite seriously, and because of him, and the resolve of many other pioneer fungal experts, research on the subject has become more prevalent, and interest is finally webbing outside of the tiny community. The frustration of chronically sick people receiving the same answers from mainstream healthcare professionals, has also created a backlash of determined knowledge collectors with independence to taking their health into their own hands.

Fungal-related disease today should be a commonplace consideration for anyone who has become discouraged in the lax response to finding a solution to a condition or disease. Those who are frustrated over weight loss and the constant dieting road blocks are no different. All that is needed is an alternate approach to weight loss than the past. If you think about it, your body has been exposed to many elements throughout its life, some more than others depending on choices that were made, foods eaten, environments lived in. There is so much that has built up internally, no wonder it rebels in the form of disease.

As Dr. David Holland explains in Doug Kaufmann's book, The Fungus Link, volume 2, Tracking the cause, "...to lose weight, you need to consider both weight training and doing something aerobic....And, you need to cut down on the amount of grains and fatty meats you eat." Dr. Hollands reason for cutting down on grains and fatty meats? Farmers feed their livestock grains, which are carbohydrates, to fatten them, and give them antibiotics when the livestock are sick. Grains and the antibiotics feed fungus in the livestock, then we eat the livestock. Some of that fungus enters us through consumption, and the same goes for having a diet high in carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates role is feeding the fungus we have already consumed or ingested. The amount of fungus differs per person, however, and its safe to presume, through research, that the more overweight, the higher the fungal content in a persons body.

An alternative solution to combat weight would be:
  • Decrease carbohydrates and simple sugars, foods contaminated with mycotoxins or fungus, foods containing yeast or yeast products;
  • Take antifungal supplements, such as probiotics (to build the health of the gut), olive leaf extract (at least 16% oleuropein content), caprylic acid, oil of oregano, curcumin, apple cider vinegar, garlic, grapefruit seed extract, a good multivitamin/multimineral, and dietary fiber;
  • Exercise regularly, according to what a healthcare professional would recommend.
With all these suggestions in place, a good support system, and determination, you'll be on your way to feeling good in a matter of weeks. The transformation in physical and mental health will amaze you, and think of the years added to your life!

Monday, February 21, 2011

D for deficiency

Who would have thought vitamin D would become anything more than calcium's friend in absorption and be so diverse in human physiology? Recently, vitamin D has been popping up everywhere in the news. The news ranges from the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency to the abundance of it's positive effects. Here are some examples:

Three highly respected medical journals (see below), among many others, have stated there are approximately 1 billion people worldwide who are vitamin D deficient. One billion? The world's population is 6,900,372,014 as of February 16, 2011 in the afternoon. So, approximately 1/7th of the world does not receive enough vitamin D.

The current role of this humble vitamin in daily nutrition has increased dramatically. Research has uncovered its necessity in flu protection, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, depression, muscle weakness, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune thyroid disease and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). This is only the beginning.

So, how does this research affect vitamin D recommendations? According to the February 2011 issue of Better Nutrition (and they aren't the only ones), people should be taking far more than the amount suggested by the National Institute of Medicine - 600 IU's daily. Better Nutrition says, "The committee's recommendation to take 600 IU of vitamin D daily is probably sufficient to maintain strong bones; however, if you want to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression, pain, and colds and flus, you would most likely do better taking at least 1,000 to 2,000 IU of vitamin D each day, maybe more."

When it comes down to brass tacks, it's up to you to decide who is right about how much to take and if you want to believe the vast research that's appeared everywhere, from credible to not-so-credible sources alike, over the past few years. Remember, it's a vitamin that has quickly raised the conservative upper intake levels by the Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health, to 4000 IU's for anyone over the age of 9. There must be something to all this buzz.

Holick MF. Vitamin D deficiency. N Engl J Med. 2007;357:266–281.

Gordon CM, DePeter KC, Feldman HA, et al. Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency among healthy adolescents. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2004;158:531–537.

Lips P, Hosking D, Lippuner K, et al. The prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy amongst women with osteoporosis: an international epidemiological investigation. J Intern Med. 2006;260:245–254.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dietary Guidelines

Didja' Know the USDA is required by law to review and, if necessary, update the Dietary Guidelines for Americans every 5 years? The nutrition industry has been trying to bring good health to Americans for decades, and the government-based health organizations are finally seeing that "eating and physical activity patterns that are focused on consuming fewer calories, making informed food choices, and being physically active can help people attain and maintain a healthy weight, reduce their risk of chronic disease, and promote overall health?" Well, this is not a news flash to many of us, however, we can be thankful it has come to fruition. We could use a little help spreading the word on good health.

The Dietary Guidelines are meant for persons aged 2 and older, for America's multifaceted groups, and account for food preferences, customs and cultural traditions. Consideration has also been made for the 15% of American households unable to acquire the proper foods to sustain adequate levels of nutrition to maintain good health. The arms of the USDA are trying to extend their reach to include all Americans, however, realistically there are people who are indifferent to good health and making it a priority.

There are key recommendations set up in the Dietary Guidelines that should be in the forefront of improving public health, regardless of age, culture or economics. The recommendations include:
  • Balancing Calories to Manage Weight
  • Foods and Food Components to Reduce
  • Foods and Nutrients to Increase
  • Building Healthy Eating Patterns
Our favorite recommendation is listed under 'Foods and Nutrients to Increase:'
  • Choose foods that provide more potassium, dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin D, which are nutrients of concern in American diets. These foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and milk and milk products.
Overall, the Dietary Guidelines put forth by the USDA are a great checklist for anyone looking to improve their health and the health of their family. Improving the health of vast numbers is daunting, as the supplement industry has found out, but with increased acceptance of higher health standards and the ability to widely promote these standards, in time we can all help make America a healthier nation. Let's do it!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

SuperHealth Awards for BioActive Nutrients

Good is good, but exceptional is better. 2010 was a great year for BioActive Nutrients. The Wisconsin based supplement company has snagged 8 different awards for 4 of their quality products - Whey Protein, Beyond Colostrum, Oil of Oregano, and Green Sweep.

Here's some background on the accredited SuperHealth Group:

The SuperHealth Group began as a local health radio show in Oklahoma City 4 years ago by Mickey O'Neill and Kyle Drew. Mickey and Kyle are growing it into a network of professionals in media, health freedom advocacy, clinical nutrition counseling, product formulation, and nutrition industry watchdogging.

They are exposed to and evaluate nutritional products each year. Their goal in giving awards is to point people to the finest, most cost-friendly, effective products available in several different categories. They believe that if people would spend their nutrition dollars with companies like BioActive Nutrients, the remaining remnants of "snake oil salesmen" would be forced out of business, and the true effectiveness of dietary supplements would be realized. Their ultimate goal, as an organization, is to inspire people to SuperHealth and help turn the tide of massive chronic disease in America through great nutrition, superior supplementation, exercise, and healthy habits, and to reduce the demand for potentially dangerous prescription medications.

Congratulations, BioActive Nutrients! Winner in 8 categories!

Protein of the Year: Whey

I'm Sick Remedy of the Year: Oregano

Immune Health Product of the Year: Beyond Colostrum

Fiber of the Year: Green Sweep

Innovation of the Year: Beyond Colostrum
Best New Product of the Year: Beyond Colostrum
Product of the Year: Beyond Colostrum

Value Priced Company of the Year: BioActive Nutrients

Try them out!

Friday, January 14, 2011

A Butterfly

...shaped gland at the base of the neck is the thyroid gland, which excretes a hormone that controls how energy is used by our cells. Abnormal function of the thyroid gland can exhibit excessive or insufficient amounts of hormones in the bloodstream. Insufficient amounts of the thyroid hormone is called hypothyroidism and is the most common thyroid problem. It also affects more women and people over the age of 60 than any other groups.

According to the American Thyroid Association, the major causes of hypothyroidism are:
  • Autoimmune disease,
  • Removal of all or part of the thyroid, resulting in a decrease of thyroid hormone production,
  • Radiation treatment,
  • Congenital hypothyroidism,
  • Inflammation of the thyroid gland caused by an autoimmune attack or infection,
  • Reaction to medication,
  • Too much iodine,
  • Damage to the pituitary gland,
  • Disease that impairs thyroid function.
The symptoms of hypothyroidism are not consistent from individual to individual, and can develop very slowly over a period of time. Symptoms can be difficulty in losing weight, dry skin, lethargy or fatigue, hair loss, recurrent infections and sensitivity to cold. They should be unusual to typical daily feelings to consider them a thyroid issue. Also, check with family members for a history of thyroid disease or problems, because it is genetic.

If you think hypothyroidism is the problem, get tested. A simple TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) blood test can determine if you suffer from low levels of the hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). The T4 hormone is the most critical because of its affect on every cell in the body. If the results show a hypothyroid issue, take the initiative to start controlling the disorder.

To control hypothyroidism, thyroxine (T4) needs to be replaced. Sounds simple, however, it will be a lifelong commitment. Controlling hypothyroidism can be done by supplementation with a natural Thyroid Formula to balance hormone levels, or there are other alternatives. For individuals with a minor hypothyroid disorder, symptoms should subside within a few weeks after taking a TSH, but a more severe thyroid imbalance may take longer with other factors influencing relief.

Good health should be taken seriously, so if you haven't focused on symptoms in your body, start paying closer attention. Consistent feelings of lethargy, weight gain, and sensitivity to cold may not be because you're going through the normal aging process, but because that butterfly-shaped gland in the base of your neck is, well, gradually becoming more than just a pain in the neck.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

From Eeyore to SpongeBob

Oh-h-h-h, bother! And it is for people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Their daily life is overcome with fatigue, depression, hopelessness, lack of interest and social involvement, weight gain possibly due to carbohydrate cravings and irritability, or any combination of the symptoms. SAD, or the "Winter Blues," affect people most often in the winter months, due to the lack of sunlight and shorter days, particularly people who live north of the equator, but can also affect people in spring through fall. The disorder during the warmer, sunnier days of the year, has the opposite effects, creating insomnia, loss of weight, agitation and normal to high mood swings.

The shorter days during the winter have an affect on the majority of the population in northern climates, and are not considered a disorder unless symptoms persist for days at a time. If eating and sleeping habits change, and social activities are avoided for days and weeks, SAD may be the issue. The difference between feeling down on overcast days and having a problem with SAD is the ability to change your mood.

The main reason for SAD is unknown, but can be linked to age, genetics and a person's chemical makeup. According to mayoclinic.com, the disorder may be from a disruption in a person's biological clock, an increase in melatonin and a decrease in serotonin levels, which change with shorter days and the lack of  sunlight.

So, what are some solutions to SAD?

1) Create a bright environment, at work and home. Let the sun in to brighten overall mood.

2) Eat right. Stay away from foods high in sugars that will give temporary highs and send the mood into a downward spiral shortly after.

3) Exercise. Exercising increases serotonin levels which are known to relieve stress and anxiety, and improve mood.

4) Supplement with vitamin D, a good multivitamin/multimineral and fish oil.  Research has shown low vitamin D levels to be linked to SAD and other forms of depression, and a number of other well-known diseases. Improper diet results in improper nutrient intake to keep a body functioning properly. When one area of the body is weakened, others are affected. EPA and DHA in fish oil, taken daily, has shown many benefits in boosting brain health.

So, with all this in mind, look at winter in a more positive light. It doesn't have to be the same dreary season year after year. All it takes are some minor changes to make any season look optimistic and go from thinking like Eeyore to feeling like SpongeBob.