Ergot poses potential problem for livestock Ergot is a disease of cereal crops and many grasses that is favored by cool wet weather during flowering. These conditions have predominated over much of Montana the past 2 weeks. The ergot fungus, Claviceps purpurea, produces dark purple to black sclerotia and these sclerotia are poisonous to warm blooded animals that consume them. As little as 0.
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Microsoft word - the benefits of the mineral magnesium a healthy cell is one where the nutrients are able to enter and be utilised.docxMagnesium and cellular health A healthy cell is one where the
nutrients are able to enter and be utilised, toxins are able to be
eliminated, and the environment supports the cell’s chemical
activities. If the cellular pumps are working well, which requires
magnesium for ATP production and also relies on the quality of oils
in the cell membrane, then the cell will be able to maintain the
correct balance of magnesium, calcium, potassium and sodium
within the cell. If they are not, then potassium and magnesium will
be lost, and calcium and sodium levels will build up in the cell.
Cellular processes reliant on magnesium and potassium, including
DNA synthesis, enzyme manufacture and energy production,
become sluggish, while processes that utilise calcium, such as
muscle contraction and nerve excitability, become overactive.
At the same time, the environment or “test tube conditions” of the cell change, that is, its pH (acid-alkaline balance), temperature, hydration and light availability. This will stultify many other cellular activities, and together with the increased toxic load, will lead to chronic inflammation and impaired function. The cell becomes increasingly stagnant, contracted and disconnected as the cell membrane becomes less able to hear and respond to external information. With the reduced ability to maintain a healthy balance and flow of electrolytes, the charge across the cell membrane changes, which directly affects the cell’s ability to hold and produce quantum energy from light particles. Magnesium and cancer prevention The membrane itself will by
this stage contain fewer oxygen-attracting phospohlipids (made
from essential fatty acids), which has huge implications for how we
produce ATP during cellular respiration and how the cell behaves.
When there is a 40% reduction in oxygen availability for the ATP
process, the cell will use up more glucose to make its energy
molecules, and the cell will revert to foetal behaviour and start to
multiply. And indeed, the general effects on the body of impaired
cell function and detoxification, including the change in pH and the
slowing of the metabolic rate, will include a reduced ability to take up oxygen in the lungs and by the blood. Otto Warburg, awarded 2 Nobel prizes for his work on cancer, said that “Cancer has only one prime cause. The prime cause of cancer is the replacement of normal oxygen respiration of body cells by an anaerobic (oxygen-less) cell respiration.” Other researchers have sought to prove DNA damage as the root cause of cancer4. Apte & Sarangarajan explain how the p53 tumour suppressor gene is mutated in over 50% of tumours. The p53 gene is usually activated when oxygen levels are low (hypoxia), to prevent the cell from multiplying as Kremer describes and to induce cell death (apoptosis) – mutant p53 cells found in these tumours, however, show a resistance to hypoxia-induced apoptosis. The body would usually work hard to repair such damage, or kill off the damaged cell, but in some cases this is not possible, perhaps due to the nature of the damage or the lack of certain resources. Magnesium is one of the nutrients crucial to DNA production and stabilisation, and zinc is also important for DNA repair and p53 expression8. Many other researchers point to the pH disruption in cancer cells9, the alterations in cellular communication via light emission, and extreme stagnation and toxicity. We have seen the pivotal role magnesium plays with all of these aspects, together with potassium, oils and their supporting nutrients. Magnesium is also essential for the production of glutathione, which is important in our detoxification pathways. Magnesium relaxes muscles The same relationship between
intracellular magnesium and calcium governs how well our muscles
work: calcium helps muscles to contract, and magnesium helps
them to relax. Muscle tissue usually contains more magnesium than
calcium, and muscles low in calcium are prone to cramps and
spasms. Magnesium may therefore be greatly beneficial to
conditions such as chronic back pain, leg cramps and IBS.
Indeed, constrictions in the muscle, nerve and connective tissue cells may contribute not only to muscle spasms, but also to poor postural alignment, as the skeletal structure is manipulated out of place. In my opinion, good hydration and nutrition is therefore a useful adjunct to many forms of bodywork. Low levels of oxygen and an imbalance in intracellular calcium and
magnesium levels have also been linked to fibromyalgia.
In addition, the importance of magnesium to cellular integrity and
function described above shows just how crucial magnesium is to
general tissue health in the body, including the tissue lining the
bowel. Together with zinc, vitamin C and essential fatty acids,
magnesium can help reduce the inflammation and repair damage to
the inside of the digestive tract, and so help with IBS, Crohn’s
disease, colitis and many conditions arising from malabsorption
in the gut. To avoid the occurrence or reoccurrence of bowel
disorders such as IBS, Crohn’s disease and colitis, we need to
ensure that our intestines have the resources they need to stay
healthy, and the correct magnesium:calcium ratio to avoid spasms
and help the bowel move in a way that helps prevent stagnation
Oestrogen and progesterone levels influence magnesium levels,
which explains why the menstrual cycle is often accompanied
abdominal cramping, including “Mittelschmerz” (mid-cycle
cramping) where progesterone peaks in week 3.
Magnesium and blood vessels A lack of magnesium can also
cause contractions in the arterial walls, which contain smooth
muscle tissue. In some people, this can lead to headaches and
migraines, where the blood vessels in the head and neck are
constricted. In one study, 3000 patients given at least 200mg
supplemental magnesium daily reported an 80% reduction in their
Reduced levels of magnesium can also contribute to circulatory problems in other parts of the body, such as the extremities in
Raynaud’s syndrome, where the hands, for example, become
very cold and pale due to extreme vasoconstriction of the periphery
Magnesium and heart disease Coronary arteries also contain
smooth muscle tissue, and so need calcium to contract and
magnesium to dilate. Only 3mm or less in diameter, these arteries
depend on magnesium to dilate them so that they can carry
oxygen-rich blood from inside the heart to the heart muscle, which
also needs a correct balance of magnesium and calcium to regulate
our heartbeat. In fact, magnesium expert Mildred Seelig cites
several studies that show magnesium to be beneficial in the
treatment of arrhythmia .
Magnesium is not the only nutrient needed to prevent heart
disease. We also know the importance of essential fatty acids,
vitamin E, vitamin C, Co Q10 and other supplements, but many
would cite magnesium as being the most important. A CDCP 19
year test showed that heart disease was a higher risk factor in
those with magnesium deficiency, and a 5 year study in Taiwan
showed a lower incidence of stroke death in areas where there was
more magnesium in the water. Magnesium deficiency has been
shown to increase platelet aggregation, which contributes to the
kind of clotting seen in heart attacks, pulmonary embolism and
An early sign of magnesium deficiency is degradation of elastin in the subendothelium of the arteries, the part of the lining which lies next to the smooth muscle. When this happens, the artery walls lose their elasticity, and inflammation occurs. Newer thinking around heart disease proposes that the cholesterol and calcium is sent to areas of damage in the arterial wall as a kind of plaster, presumably until the body had found a way to heal the damage. These plasters as rigid, however, and so not a good longterm solution. If we don’t have the nutrient stores, ability and energy to bring resources to this area and heal it, then the oxygen and blood
rich coronary arteries gradually get weakened and blocked, and are
unable to feed the heart muscle, leading initially to angina pain.
In up to 30% angina patients, however, the arteries are not badly blocked, and in 40-60% sudden deaths from heart attack, there is no prior artery blockage, no clots and the heartbeat has been normal. Could these be caused by muscle spasm due to lack of magnesium? Magnesium and osteoporosis Many practitioners reach for the
calcium when osteoporosis is diagnosed, perhaps with some vitamin
D to aid absorption. But just as important, if not more so, is the
actual placement of calcium in the body. Calcium placement is
ultimately governed by magnesium.
The body will maintain homeostasis of the blood above everything else. If blood calcium is low, then the parathyroid will pull calcium out of the bones to stabilise blood levels. But if the diet is sufficiently high in calcium-rich vegetables and pulses, then why would the blood calcium levels be so low? We need to look back to electrolyte exchange at the cell membrane again. If the calcium-magnesium pump isn’t working efficiently, due to a lack of magnesium bound ATP and a lack of serum magnesium, then calcium will build up in the cells and have restricted access back into the blood. Magnesium also helps calcium to be laid down in the bone in the form of calcium phosphate crystals. Moreover, magnesium actually helps calcium to be absorbed in the first place. So with osteoporosis, magnesium should really be top of our list of supporting nutrients, and calcium may not be appropriate at all. Kidney and gallstones 85% of kidney stones are made from
calcium phosphate or calcium oxalate, and gallstones are largely
calcium bilirubinate or calcium carbonate combined with cholesterol
(present in the gallbladder as a component of bile). Ideally we
would like calcium to stay in solution rather than be bound up in
this way to form stones. It is magnesium that helps calcium to stay in solution in the body. In addition, healthy urine usually contains levels of citrate that will prevent the formation of oxalates in the kidneys16. So taking magnesium citrate would be a logical choice here for the prevention of stones. At the same time you would need to address pH (also assisted by magnesium) and the general health and function of the kidney/ gall bladder tissue cells. Magnesium and the brain Neurotransmitters in the brain use
magnesium, calcium and zinc to stimulate and regulate electrical
activity. Calcium-rich brain cells can fire excessively, which will
deplete their energy, and sometimes lead to seizures, or even cell
death. Magnesium will lower the threshold for those seizures, and
so reduce the likelihood that they will happen.
Dr Carolyn Dean tells of a Florida high school football team ill-advisedly given calcium supplements to help with leg cramps before a game. Remember that calcium competes with magnesium for absorption, and also acts antagonistically to magnesium in the body. After playing strenuously on a hot day, 8 members of the team suffered full blown seizures, and 2 had repeated seizures. Others reported symptoms including disorientation, blurred vision, problems walking, muscle twitching, nausea and weakness. The worst affected had also had magnesium depleting fizzy drinks and fast food before the game. Brain cells damaged by toxicity, trauma or stress will also fire inappropriately. Chemicals such as food additives, pesticides, herbicides, solvents and cleaning products can all cross the blood-brain barrier and poison brain cells. Magnesium can help to protect the brain from the toxic effect of these chemicals. Heavy metals compete with magnesium in the small intestine and brain, and so as well as depleting magnesium, they will be depleted by magnesium if there is enough there. Magnesium also plays an important role in detoxifying our cells from heavy metals, not least
though production of detoxifying glutathione. Studies have shown
that magnesium will in fact protect the whole body from heavy
metals18. With the increase in links between heavy metals and
conditions such as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, dementia, MS, ME,
autism, ADHD etc., magnesium would be a strong contender for
consideration when looking at supplementation for brain health,
alongside essential fatty acids and zinc.
Magnesium is also required for the production of serotonin, making
it a useful nutrient for those with depression, and also for the
production of dopamine, low levels of which are associated with
Magnesium and anxiety Magnesium deficiency has been related
to anxiety, panic attacks and palpitations. We have already
looked at magnesium and heart health, but we must also look at
the role of the adrenals here too
An “adrenal lifestyle”, i.e. with stressful jobs, repeated heavy exercise or adrenaline sports, burning the candle at both ends, running on empty – all of these deplete magnesium levels by putting a strain on the adrenals. Adrenal stress will lead to increased loss of magnesium and potassium via the kidneys, as aldosterone signals that they should hold onto fluids via sodium retention – thus also contributing to high blood pressure. Additionally, magnesium is a co-factor for the hormones, prostaglandins and enzymes required to service the adrenals (alongside zinc, essential fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin E, a variety of B vitamins and amino acids – B5 is a particularly good adrenal support, as are B6 and vitamin C). Adrenal depletion will also put a strain on thyroid, and indeed the rest of the endocrine system. Stress in itself will have a contracting effect on the whole body, and
chronic stress will lead to the kind of stagnating effect discussed
earlier. The cells respond to stress by restricting the flow across the
cell membrane. The purpose of this seems to be to hold onto water by impeding the flow of water (each molecule of sodium will have 28 molecules of water following it), so the cell membrane alters in a way that inhibits the action of the pumps. This will reduce intracellular magnesium and potassium levels and increase calcium and sodium levels, with all of the potential ramifications already discussed and more. So when we talk about stress-related illness, we are referring to specific biochemical processes that can be assisted by the addition of magnesium. Blood sugar, diabetes and insulin One of the roles of calcium in
the blood is to regulate blood sugar. We have already seen how
magnesium deficiency can lead to calcium misplacement, and this
will impact on how well we can hold our blood sugar levels.
Magnesium supplementation has also been shown to improve
insulin response and glucose tolerance.
Refined sugar has 95% less magnesium and so uses up our own magnesium reserves to help digest it. If we don’t have enough magnesium to do this, we form pyruvic acid and abnormal sugars that impede ATP production in the brain and nervous system. So we would certainly be advised to avoid refined sugar, and where blood sugar is a more pronounced issue, magnesium would be part of a team of nutrients that would need to be looked at, including chromium, cobalt, copper, zinc, iodine and oils. Magnesium and women We have already seen how oestrogen
and progesterone affect magnesium levels, and this is relevant for
both menstruating women and women going through menopause.
There have been a number of studies showing magnesium to be
therapeutic due to its ability to relax muscles and blood vessel
walls, and also to reduce PGF2 alpha, a prostaglandin which
stimulates contraction of the uterine muscle.
In one study, 192 women took 400mg magnesium daily for PMS
with the following results: 95% reported reduced breast pain and
weight gain, 89% had a decrease in nervous tension and 43% experienced fewer headaches. Pre-menstrual mood swings have also been shown to benefit from magnesium supplementation, perhaps because of its effect on serotonin levels. Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) have lower
magnesium levels and higher calcium levels, and magnesium is a
useful supplement for all areas of fertility work, particularly in
providing raw materials for prostaglandin production, which
regulates menstrual activity, and in maintaining healthy tissue cells.
Sources of magnesium Shellfish have the highest levels of
magnesium, followed by nuts and seeds. Dark green leafy
vegetables are also good sources of magnesium, as are pulses,
cauliflower and avocado. Wholegrains contain useful amounts, but
processing will reduce their levels, for example 80-85% of their
magnesium is lost during milling of wheat into flour, and white rice
contains 83% less magnesium than brown rice. The process of
freezing vegetables will often reduce their magnesium content too.
It is also worth noting that minerals will leach into the water when
boiling vegetables, so it is good practice to use the water to make
gravy and sauces.
In addition, soil levels of magnesium have fallen, leading to reduced uptake by plants and animals through the food chain. McCance and Widdowson show a 24% drop in vegetable magnesium levels, a 16% reduction in fruit, and a 10% drop in meat, between 1940 and 1991. In fact the soil loss is probably greater than these statistics suggest, as the vegetables in the 1940 study were boiled for much longer times. Broccoli, for example, was boiled for 45 minutes in the 1940 study, but for only 15 minutes in the 1991 study. Magnesium absorption and uptake Magnesium needs a high
level of acidity in the stomach to convert it into a usable form.
Approx 50% (in some cases up to 75%, but in others much lower)
is absorbed in the small intestine, providing there is adequate
hydration (magnesium is water soluble) and enough functioning protein transport molecules in the GI wall. Magnesium absorption is inhibited by calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, lactose, supplemental iron, high doses of supplemental zinc, phosphates (for example in fizzy drinks), caffeine, alcohol, oxalic acid and phytic acid. Free fatty acids can also reduce absorption, as can high protein levels; however many of the protein rich foods are also high in magnesium. Magnesium is also inhibited or depleted by diuretics, the contraceptive pill, insulin, digitalis, some antibiotics such as tetracycline, cortisone and cardiac glycosides30. Magnesium is excreted largely by the kidneys, but also in the gut, and as we have seen, stress will increase magnesium loss. For best uptake by the cells, magnesium requires an alkaline environment and good levels of vitamin B6. Magnesium supplementation – dosage and form So now we
come to the big question: how much to take, and what is the best
How much to take varies hugely from person to person. Factors include age, the person’s current magnesium status, diet, soil magnesium levels, the health of the small intestines and kidneys in particular, and all the other factors for absorption discussed above. In addition, higher levels are needed by pregnant and lactating women. The Reference Nutrient Intake(RNI) recommended by the government is 300mg for men and 270mg for women, but many would agree that this falls far short of actual requirements. Elson Haas estimates that an average diet usually supplies around 120mg, and many practitioners have found it appropriate in some cases to supplement up to 600-800mg on top of this. Toxicity is rare, as excess magnesium is usually excreted. A B6 supplement is often prescribed alongside magnesium to improve uptake by the cells. The form of magnesium you take is also important. Many supplements contain carbonates and oxides, as these are cheaper forms. However, these forms will also reduce the stomach acidity, and therefore how well absorbed the magnesium is. A 1990 study by Lindberg et al where magnesium citrate was shown to be 4-4.5 times more absorbable than magnesium oxide. Using Lindberg’s data it can be calculated that yeast-enriched supplements marketed as “like the form in which they are present in foods” are only a tenth of the value for money compared to magnesium citrate supplements. Magnesium oxide is also a laxative, and so I would not recommend its use in therapeutic doses. Magnesium sulphate is the form of magnesium in Epsom salts, and enough is absorbed transdermally to help relax the muscles wonderfully in a warm bath. Its absorption in the gut, however, is so poor that it will instead attract water into the colon, and so like magnesium oxide, has a laxative effect. Magnesium chloride is widely available for internal and transdermal use, and is the form that the stomach converts magnesium into, so is useful where stomach acids levels are lower. Finally it’s worth noting a 2005 study comparing absorption of organic and inorganic forms of magnesium, where the organic forms (including citrate, gluconate and aspartate) were shown to be better absorbed33. Overall, magnesium citrate would seem to be the most beneficial form to take that is readily available34. Magnesium supplementation should be increased gradually and mindfully. As magnesium will increase the detoxification pathways in the body, we need to make sure that the routes of elimination can cope with the extra workload. This may require additional support for the lymphatic system, blood, liver, kidneys, lungs, skin and/or colon. A good practitioner will be able to look at the whole picture in this way, and provide assistance on all levels to help you take appropriate levels of magnesium in a way that your body work best with it. If you would like to read more about magnesium I would recommend this book. The Miracle of Magnesium by Carolyn Dean.
THE VOICE OF NAMI PITTSBURGH SOUTH FEBRUARY 2009 NAMI Pittsburgh South Join us for our next meeting on Wednesday, February 18 at 7:30. We will meetings are held on be watching “Shadow Voices.” A synopsis from the “Shadow Voices” website is the third Wednesday of as follows: “This program offers an inside look at what it is like to live with a each mont