The Subclinical saturation & Toxicity of retinol & retinoic acid
This document investigates the root cause, and connection between the seemingly disparate diseases of Eczema, Crohn’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
There are a bunch of even more seemingly disparate pieces of evidence that I present to make this connection. These can be thought of as pieces of a puzzle if you like. Once connected, they reveal a pretty clear picture. Or, if you prefer, consider them to be clues that enable us to track down a notorious serial killer.
This document is not intended to be an scientific publication. It is an mix of theory, evidence, and my own personal account and observations in dealing with one of these diseases.
Even though this is a very long, and rambling document, if you have an autoimmune disease, or you are genuinely interested in this topic, then I think it is worth your time to read all of this. If at any point while reading this you think something is wrong, or that this can’t be correct, please leave a comment as to why you think so. Also, please understand that I am presenting this as a theory. It could be wrong, and completely wrong. It could be right, or only partially right. I am completely, and totally open minded about this. However, the preponderance of evidence that I have found is indeed pointing in this direction.
Autoimmune diseases and Alzheimer’s are not trivial topics. This is complicated, and it requires a lot of evidence.
The evidence topics (in no particular order) include:
|WHO and pregnant women in India||Vitamin A|
|Food||Japanese Skin Rejuvenation Therapy|
|Hair follicles||Government Regulations|
|Hashimoto’s and the ⅓ missing eyebrows||National Institute of Health|
|Pickled Herring||Socioeconomic status|
|Fatty Liver Disease||Exponential decline curves|
|Winter Air||Mucosal Calcinosis|
|A man named John||An Acne Drug|
|Symmetry and randomness||The Koebner phenomenon|
|The sebaceous gland||Thresholds and tipping points|
|The closure of the Atlantic Cod fishery||The border between Finland and Russia|
|Spontaneous Bone fractures||Retinal Neurodegeneration|
|Canada||North South ocean temperature gradients|
|An incredibly well known toxin||Age 20ish|
|Band Aids||Fortified Milk|
I’ve highlighted what I think are the most important pieces of evidence. What are the connections between all of these? If we can answer this, then I think we can solve the mystery.
With all of these topics to discuss; this is going to be a very long read. Hopefully, there is a bit of intrigue raised here.
Although I am using intrigue, and puzzle metaphors; I do take this to be deadly serious. This is no game. Alzheimer’s and Autoimmune are the biggest diseases of our time. They are killing millions of people, and destroying the lives of 10’s of millions of others. Statistically speaking, every 60 seconds another person in North America is being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. That is effectively a death sentence. Consider this; right now in Canada 48% of men, and 67% of women by age 85 have Alzheimer’s or dementia. If you are lucky enough to live to be 105, then the probability of having Alzheimer’s is 95%.
Not too long ago, autoimmune diseases (all of them) were actually very rare. Alzheimer’s was a very rare disease too. Nearly all of a sudden; that has changed. We are in the midst of a raging epidemic of these diseases. We could actually even be at the early stages of that epidemic. Something is hugely wrong.
Approximately every 30 seconds another person is now being diagnosed with an Autoimmune disease. That is effectively a life sentence of future misery.
So, this is my attempt at cracking the code on this puzzle. I’ve also just recently joined the illustrious autoimmune club. Last year I was diagnosed with Eczema. It was just a rash; but I did not like it. I did not like it one little bit. That has put me on a bit of a mission to try to solve it. I have no medical experience whatsoever. I am just a guy with a rash. So, how does a guy trying to solve a rash stumble upon all of this? It was by conducting a very simple experiment.
OK, let’s dig in, and get started.
Here are some charts that I put together revealing what I think is an amazing connection. These charts are key pieces of evidence needed to solve this puzzle. Please do not gloss over it. Look at it very, very carefully. Not to overstate it; but these are incredibly important evidence. Please understand that these charts are revealing some major new clues as to the root cause of a major Autoimmune disease, and directly correlates that disease with Alzheimer’s disease. Also, these charts are original, they are not copied from anywhere. They are showing reliable; scientifically published data.
If we can understand what happened here; and fully understand what the connections are, then I think we will uncover the root cause(s) of these diseases. If we can solve one of these diseases; we may be able to solve the other. How hard can it be to crack the code on one of these? Click the chart to zoom in if you want a better view.
This is data from Atlantic Canada from between 1996 and 2011. The top line is Crohn’s disease incidence rates in Nova Scotia, and the others are Alzheimer’s mortality rates in the Atlantic provinces.
The Crohn’s Disease data is from a 2014 research paper, titled: Decreasing incidence of inflammatory bowel disease in Eastern Canada: a population database study.
The key observations here are:
- A remarkable ~35% drop in Crohn’s disease over this time period (1996-2009)
- A stunning ~50% drop in Alzheimer’s mortality over this time period ( 2000-2011)
- These two trend lines for Crohn’s and Alzheimer’s disease are nearly parallel
- Western Canada has no such decline (both are increasing in Alberta)
- Most of the rest of the world has no such decline in either of these diseases.
Here is the Canadian Alzheimer’s Data; from the East to West coast provinces. That east to west ordering is very important. Please look at these numbers very, very carefully. What do they tell us? You can maybe visualize a big arrow from the top left to the bottom right.
Alzheimer’s disease Age-standardized mortality rate per 100,000 population, Both sexes
Alzheimer’s disease Age-standardized mortality rate per 100,000 population, Both sexes
Here is a chart showing the Alzheimer’s mortality rates in most of the other Canadian provinces.
The key observations here are:
- The decline rate in Canada’s western most provinces is nearly zero. In the year 2000, the Atlantic Provinces where at least 1.5 to 2 TIMES the rate of BC, and Alberta.
- ALL the Atlantic coast provinces are all at the top of the chart. All have clearly significantly higher rates than the rest of Canada.
- The significantly declining rates over this time period; but particularly so in the Atlantic Provinces.
- The slope of the regression lines on NL, NB are much steeper than that of BC, and AB. The BC regression line is almost flat.
- The Nova Scotia rate changes are a bit different than the other Atlantic Provinces.
- By the year 2011, the rate of most of the Atlantic provinces is cut in half, and is approaching the same rates for western Canada
- Once again, most of the rest of the world has no such dramatic decline in the rates of these two diseases.
What does this tell us? It tells us; with crystal clear clarity, that these are environmentally induced diseases. There has been a pervasive environmental change in Atlantic Canada to cause these significant declines. I suggest that there is no other logical conclusion.
The charts shown above include quite a few curves, and end up looking a bit cluttered. Here is a chart showing just the Alzheimer’s rates in Newfoundland and the Crohn’s rate in Nova Scotia.
I picked these two curves just to emphasize the significant trend here. But, no matter, all the Atlantic province curves are similar. The decline rates in these two seemingly completely disparate diseases are tracking each other very closely. I think that there is just no way that the underlying cause of these two diseases is not indeed related. For me, on one hand this is remarkable data. But, on the other hand, based upon my battle with Eczema, it is exactly what I suspected. After-all; I did not just randomly think to go and look for possible correlations between Crohn’s and Alzheimer’s. You might be asking yourself; “what the heck is this guy talking about; a connection between Crohn’s, Eczema and Alzheimer’s?”. Well, I believe that indeed there is. They are directly related. They share the same sinister parent. If you can take the time to read this entire document; I think the reasons why will become completely clear.
What happened in around 1996? Canada closed the Atlantic Cod fishery in 1993. So, there is something fishy about this story. Here is something else that’s fishy. The Alzheimer’s rate directly across the Finland – Russian Border.
Finland is 22 TIMES higher. That is not a typo. Finland also has one of the highest rates of Eczema in the world. Sweden and Denmark have some of the highest rates of Crohn’s disease in the world. What does this tell us? Once again, if we can understand why this difference is happening, we are well on our way to solving the mystery. A partial clue is the Finns eat lots of fish, and fish oils; whereas their Russian neighbors do not. But, this story is not about fish! It is about what is hidden inside the fish.
Here’s a bit of trivia. Consider the two cod fish shown below. They are the exact same species; the same age, size, taste, and smell. The only difference is one came from the West coast, and the other from the East coast of Canada.
What is different about these two fish? The difference is that the Atlantic Cod has 10 TIMES the level of vitamin A compared to the Pacific Cod. It appears to be the same fish; yet it’s 10 times higher in vitamin A. Why is that?
My journey, the other evidence, and connecting the puzzle pieces.
Okay, let’s dig into the science of all of this. The basic premise to this theory is that Eczema, Crohn’s and some other common autoimmune diseases are caused by being in a chronic state of elevated levels of retinol, retinoic acid, and possibly the carotenoid vitamin A precursors.
However, this is not the same as acute or chronic vitamin A toxicity as documented in the medical literature. No, almost not at all. Rather it is a sub-clinical poisoning that develops slowly over years; and possibly even over decades. There is a level of toxicity way below the documented acute or chronic vitamin A toxicity cases; yet the end results are far more devastating. Autoimmune diseases are actually auto-poisonings! So is Alzheimer’s.
The World Health Organization and pregnant women in India
A key piece of information for me was reading a report of a WHO program conducted in India; where they were pre-dosing pregnant women with 400,000 UI of vitamin A in one dose.
They were monitoring the blood serum in some of these women as they digested this dose. An incidental comment in the report was that they were amazed at just how fast the body removed the vitamin A dose from the serum. Of course this dose was quickly absorbed by the liver and stored away. The time between digestion and absorption was very brief (they did not numerically quantify it).
Okay, that’s fine. There is no comment in the report of a follow up study as to how many birth defects this program may have caused. Nevertheless, this was a critical point for me in understanding what might be going on. It means the body really does not want unbond Vitamin A in the serum; nearly not at all. Fine, and not surprising; since this is what is expected to happen in a normal healthy person. But, there is a limit on how much the body can physically store.
Exactly what happens when we consume too much Vitamin A
If you are a researcher; or a medical person, then the obvious question for you is what is going to happen once the body approaches or reaches this storage limit? We all need to know the exact and correct answer to this question. There can be no glossing over this. It is a critically important question; since vitamin A is in nearly all foods.
The food supply in North America is hugely supplemented with it too. It is also a critical question because most people in the Western / Industrialized world are going to eventually get into this state. It is more or less a mathematical certainty. What’s going to happen once the body nears storage saturation for vitamin A?
I think it is obvious that since the liver can no longer quickly absorb and store this intake; it is going to remain in the serum longer. This results in sporadic or chronic excessive vitamin A levels that surges and overwhelms the normal and dedicated storage function. Other systems and organs are now attempting to contain this overflow. It is also not quite this straight forward.
Consider yourself getting into this state. You’ve just gotten yourself into a vitamin A toxicity state. You are going to become sick, and very sick over time. All kinds of horrible things are going to start happening. There is no antidote as far as I know. You’ve now fallen through an almost one way trapdoor.
If your average daily intake is more than your body’s daily usage, then it is more or less inevitable. If you indulge just a little bit on too much milk, dairy, eggs, certain fish etc or any of the vitamin A precursors, then this is going to happen much sooner. If you supplement with cod liver oil, or a vitamin A supplement, or any vitamin A derivative; it is going to be much, much sooner. It could be in your twenties or teens or even at birth! It is also going to depend a bit on what you consume that vitamin A with.
Since your liver can no longer protect you; your other organs and immune system is going to go into action and attempt to deal with has now become a horrible toxin. Every mcg of consumption could now be toxic to us. You now have an autoimmune disease. You are now in the same group as about 30+ million other people in North America. Welcome to the club.
These diseases are really the result of non liver accumulation of this potential toxin.
What is happening here is the other organs, such as the skin, lungs, kidneys, GI tract, joints are accumulating too much Vitamin A. Although these organs & tissues are capable of storing or accumulating vitamin A; this is an extraordinary defensive measure taken by the body to locally store excessive amounts. This should not normally be happening. This would have rarely happened during the evolution of humans.
Of course, we actually don’t have to speculate what is going to happen when we reach elevated storage levels. It is incredibly well documented in the scientific and medical literature. More on that a bit later.
Eczema and making the initial Connection
When I made my initial recovery from eczema using my vitamin A elimination diet; some other remarkable things happened to me. All kinds of other subtle, and not so subtle, negative health symptoms that I was experiencing quickly went away too. These were symptoms that had slowly developed over a 5-10 year period; so slowly that I had mistakenly assumed they were just a normal part of aging. So, that was a pleasant surprise to have them magically go away. Moreover, it became abundantly clear to me that I had more or less turned off what my doctor told me was an autoimmune disease. Most importantly, it was perfectly clear to me that eczema was just a symptom (a very nasty one) of the real underlying cause. Unfortunately, this underlying cause is hugely more serious than the eczema skin condition itself.
Therefore, the most important thing to really understand about eczema is that it is not just a rash. It is much, much more than a rash. It can also be fatal in an indirect way.
It is actually the skin being dissolved from the inside out. You need to really understand and appreciate that last sentence. The word dissolved is a precise, and carefully chosen word. It is not an exaggeration or an analogy.
How do I know the skin is being dissolved? Because I have watched it happen, in real time, on the backs of my own hands and fingers, under my microscope. I have done so at least six times. An analogy would be to watch a sugar cube dissolve in water in real time.
Even at just 30x I can see what I am calling the matrix of the skin (the collagen?) more or less disintegrate. Depending upon the severity of the inflammation, this process can take less than 5 minutes to burn through to the top layer of the skin. It often burns the top layer right off. It is super important to know that this is coming from inside the skin. It is not from the surface in. If the top layer of the skin does not dissolve; it has hundreds of little craters burned into it. Paradoxically, with the inflammation the skin can subsequently become much thicker.
KEY EVIDENCE: Never let the Skin Air Dry: it will make your autoimmune disease get worse
Of course this is not just my observation. The very common recommendation from medical people and other people with eczema is to dry yourself off very carefully after a bath or shower. The advice is:
“Blot dry with a towel (rather than rubbing), and apply a moisturizing cream from head to toe (focusing on problem areas) within 3 minutes of getting out of the bath or shower, while the skin is still moist. If the skin is allowed to air-dry before the moisturizer is applied, the eczema could get worse.”
Why is this? Well for two reasons. Firstly, it is because the skin in affected areas is so incredibly thin, thinner than rice paper thin, or disintegrating, that if you rub it the least little bit you’ll rub it right off. The skin can be so thin, that it has no structural integrity left to it. At this point it can be more like a thin layer of mush.
Of course, if you do rub it off; it is both a bit more painful, and you now expose yourself to the risk of bacterial infections. Once again, this thinning of the skin has happened from the inside out. The top layer of the skin has been dissolved away. I think for most people, if they were to look at eczema affected skin during a flare-up under a 30x microscope they would be shocked. It is actually an amazing amount of destruction going on. There are hundreds of little pockets of skin per square centimeter that are completely burned out. The hair can be completely burned off at the skin surface level too. Unfortunately, I don’t have a camera attachment for my microscope; so I don’t have a 30x picture to share. I do have pictures from a regular camera share here.
The second, and other huge clue here is this : “If the skin is allowed to air-dry before the moisturizer is applied, the eczema could get worse.”
I can’t tell you how many different places I’ve seen this same statement. This is like a universal observation with eczema. Now, why does letting the skin air-dry cause an autoimmune disease to get worse? The short answer is that the last thing you want to happen is for the body’s natural mechanism for moisturizing the skin to go into effect. The longer answer is just a few pages below; and you are probably not going to like it.
So what about this dissolving, crumbling skin? What chemical is capable of doing this to the skin? Retinoic acid of course.
Vitamin A acid peels
You can actually get prescription cosmetic applications to accomplish exactly this. They are called Vitamin A acid peels. There are various products on the market. They dissolve the top layer of dead skin cells to expose the newer deeper layers, and promote skin turnover. Similar products are available as an acne treatment. Nice for them I guess. But, people with eczema are effectively applying a similar acid peel from the inside out. This might sound like something out of a horror novel. But, it is not. It is exactly what is happening.
Although the reference to Vitamin A acid peels might be something that a lot of people are aware of, or can directly relate to, it is not very strong evidence scientifically speaking.
Key Evidence – Japanese Skin Rejuvenation Therapy
Let’s look at some more scientifically based evidence. Here’s a great collection of recent research papers on the topic of Retinoic Acid.
Retinoic Acid: Structure, Mechanisms and Roles in Disease (Microbiology Research Advances: Cell Biology Research Progress)
Chapter 6: Tretinoin-cyclodextrin Complex in Skin Rejuvenation Therapy
Authors:Cheng, Li-Hong, Ito, Yuto; Osaka University, et al.
Tretinoin is all-trans-retinoic acid ( let’s use the ATRA abbreviation).
In a nutshell, what they are researching is the development of the topical application of ATRA (retinoic acid) to reduce the effects of chronological and or photo-aging of the skin.
They document that ATRA will induce improved skin turnover, and ultimately the thickening of the collagen. However, when applied directly, and topically, they report that patients frequently experience inflammation, redness, scaling, itching, and burning, and desquamation. Okay, it appears that they are directly inducing the eczema skin condition we all consider to be an autoimmune disease.
But, if the patient can tolerate these conditions for a while, then after stopping treatment there is a subsequent thickening of the collagen. This is exactly the same condition observed with eczema; after the skin becomes inflamed, it usually turns much thicker. Overall, this now sounds like the textbook description of Eczema.
The authors describe the mechanism as: “The phenomena occur because Tretinoin releases heparin-binding EGF-like growth factor (HB-EGF), which enhances the proliferation of basal cells”.
This little detail of the EGF-like growth factor being released is a very important one to remember.
ATRA works in thickening the collagen, but they need to directly deliver it deeper into the dermo skin layer, without first inflaming the epidermis, the outermost layer of skin. They adopt some rather novel ways of bypassing the epidermis; and getting the ATRA deeper into the skin. I will try to contact the authors to see if they can provide photos of the inflamed skin they were inducing.
There are many more papers providing scientific evidence that retinoic acid may be the culprit here. Retinoic Acid has been used in dermatology since 1959. It has been used to treat many skin related diseases such as acne, ichthyosis, psoriasis and others. However, the complication of skin inflammation leads to the interruption of treatment by many users.
Here is another research paper on a similar topic:
Chapter 10: ALTERNATIVES TO REDUCE THE TOPICAL RETINOIC ACID-INDUCED SKIN IRRITATIONA.
Authors: Castro and L.A.M. Ferreria of the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil
The authors discuss several approaches for addressing the concerns of patients attempting to use Retinoic Acid treatments topically.
The key points in this paper are the documented side-effects of skin irritation that include: erythema (redness), dryness, peeling, and scaling and the breakdown of the skin’s barrier function.
Well; are these not very interesting side-effects? This is once again like the textbook description of Eczema.
What is really interesting about this paper is that they document the exact process at the cellular level as to why this happens. The retinoic acid causes the gene expression leading to the immune inflammatory response. This is a fantastic paper in many ways. It documents the nuclear hormone receptors that bind to the RAL and the RAL isoforms, They also document that these same nuclear receptors accept steroid and vitamin D. That’s really, really interesting to me.
This paper also points out the the overload of retinoic acid is indeed the direct cause of the skin irritation, inflammation, erythema, dryness, peeling, and scaling condition. It is a bit odd to me that they call these conditions “side-effects” when they know the exact cause is the topical application of the RAL. Maybe they should have termed these the “direct skin response effects”. Fortunately, those documented side-effects are once again pretty clear evidence that RAL could be the culprit in at least causing the Eczema skin condition.
Now we have this solid scientific evidence that Retinoic Acid does directly cause the Eczema condition. It is completely, and easily, repeatable by anyone. This repeatability is the foundation of the scientific method. But, I am personally not volunteering.
Of course, in these papers the retinoic acid is being applied topically. So, is it possible that the eczema skin condition (the autoimmune one) is caused by retinoic acid internally building up in the skin? Of course it is. This exact accumulation process is documented to happen in the adipose tissue, the sebaceous glands, and elsewhere.
But, where is that retinoic acid coming from? The vitamin A in our food is mostly in either the Retinol or the Retinal forms. Where and when does this conversion take place in the body?
This is abundantly documented too. It is well documented in this Retinoic Acid: Structure, Mechanisms and Roles in Disease (Microbiology Research Advances: Cell Biology Research Progress) book, both at the cellular and molecular levels. It is also documented in this 2006 report on The acute and chronic toxic effects of vitamin A.
From these two sources, it is clear to see that the body is going to convert excess Vitamin A (retinol) to Retinoic Acid. It is going to happen in the intestine, and at the cell levels in other tissues.
Retinol is metabolized to retinoic acid in normal cells.
At the cellular level, the normal pathway of delivery is for the liver to release retinol bound to, and contained within a retinol-binding protein (RBP). The retinol-binding protein facilitates the safe transport of the retinol within the blood plasma.
The cell has a surface receptor for this binding complex, and absorbs it via that receptor. From there the cell unbinds it, and metabolizes the retinol and converts it to retinoic acid. That retinoic acid then passes into the nucleus and is used for gene expressions, and subsequent generations of proteins. The gene expression can produce cytokines. The cytokines are signaling proteins, and are released by the cell. Some particular cytokines will invoke an immune response.
However, the cell also has surface receptors for unbound retinol. Therefore, unbound retinol can also pass through the cell membrane into the cytoplasm. From there; it probably follows the same path of conversion into retinoic acid, and the subsequent generation of cytokines. To me, it appears that excess plasma retinol is going to bypass the cell’s self-regulation mechanism for the generation of retinoic acid. Therefore, if I am understanding this correctly, it looks like this:
Excess retinol ⇒ absorbed into the cell ⇒ cell converts to retinoic acid ⇒ cell generates cytokines ⇒ immune cells respond ⇒ attacks the cell ⇒ inflammation ⇒ cell’s destruction ⇒ growth hormone released.
Therefore, it is not quite auto-immune; since we are indeed inducing it to happen. But, if we look at it at just a point in time; it sure appears to be auto-immune. We could also be training the immune system to wrongly respond in the future too; and without the presence of excess retinol. I don’t know.
Nevertheless, it is not “auto” in the sense of it happening automatically, randomly, and defectively. No, it is not random, and there is indeed a reason it happens. People don’t get these diseases just because of bad luck. Physical events always happen for a reason. That is just a fundamental law of science. So, I’d sure like to propose that we drop this silly notion of “Auto” immune diseases. We just do not understand the reason and process; but it is not magically “Auto”. What we are really seeing is Immune related diseases of “yet unknown” causes. If we all buy into this “Auto” thinking; then this may never get solved. Let’s see if we can get closer to understanding the real root cause(s).
The conversion from retinol to retinoic acid is going to happen a lot more in people with elevated tissue storage and even slightly elevated plasma levels of unbound retinol.
In normal healthy people, regular vitamin A consumption should mostly be stored, and stored very quickly, and efficiently by the liver.
The authors of the 2006 Toxic effects of Vitamin A report state: “Hepatic storage of vitamin A will continue until a pathologic liver condition develops”.
But, clearly there is a physical limit to this storage. Therefore, I think we can safely say: “Pathologic conditions develop once the Hepatic storage is exceeded”. Of course, this is not some thin line, or single threshold, that is crossed over. It is variable; and a variable over time.
So, where the heck is all this vitamin A coming from, in what appears to be normal people, on what we think are normal diets? It’s in all of our food!
This same chemical, or its precursor, is literally in nearly every food on the planet; in one form or another. Is eczema really an autoimmune disease?
What does this have to do with Crohn’s disease? Everything. I think Crohn’s / IBD is effectively eczema of the GI tract.
The suspected connection between Crohn’s / IBD and Eczema
When I first encountered Eczema; I had no understanding whatsoever about autoimmune diseases. However, it was not long before it came very clear that the common theme between all of them is inflammation. Depending on the body location of the worst of the inflammation, it gets a distinct medical name. To an outsider; it’s like why do we bother with all the separate names? Why don’t we just call them the same thing? Inflammation of tissue X. These diseases also share a large set of other amazingly common symptoms.
Would it not be truly amazing if most of them were being caused by the same thing? What’s causing all this inflammation?
Firstly, I think I’ve proven with my food experiment that Eczema is actually the result of a subclinical toxicity of vitamin A. This toxicity is clearly capable of not only burning holes in the skin, it is capable of literally burning the skin right off in extreme cases. This inflamed skin condition is occurring, to varying degrees, in at least 10 million people in North America at this very moment. And almost everyone controls it with steroid cream treatments.
There is no doubt in my mind that this same process is capable of burning holes (ulcers) in the GI tract, or anywhere else in the body for that matter.
Secondly, there are a bunch of other similarities. In both these diseases people experience periods of flare-ups. In both these diseases there can be extended periods of remission. In both diseases there is inflammation and tissue being destroyed. At a certain age, both diseases are considered chronic, with no real known cause, and no cure; just treatment. Both are considered to be autoimmune diseases. Both diseases use steroids as a treatment. Both these diseases have seen a doubling in incidence rates over the last 15 years or so. Both diseases are not modern day diseases. Eczema was well documented 200 years ago. Crohn’s disease was first documented some 90 years ago. No doubt it was occurring before this time too.
Both diseases are considered chronic inflammatory disorders where the symptoms can range from mild to severe. In both diseases tissue can be turned thick and leather like with inflammation.
Both these diseases affect young, and what should otherwise be healthy, people. In both these diseases there is a significant jump in incidence rates starting at about age 50. With Crohn’s there is a big jump in incidence rates around age 20. This 20ish number is another super important clue.
I think the only really big difference between these two diseases is just the body location where the destruction takes place. Eczema is on the external skin, and most often on the face and hands. Crohn’s / IBD is in the GI tract; the internal skin.
The Vitamin A Connection and the Subclinical Toxicity of it.
The official information from the National Institute of Health states that Vitamin A IS A DIRECT TOXIN at high doses.
We need to understand three very important facts:
- Vitamin A is a toxin
- The body stores this potential toxin
- The body has a fixed capacity for storing it, and therefore, a limited ability to protect you from this potential toxin.
It is no secret that Vitamin A can be a serious toxin. This is well established, and abundantly documented. But, if there was ever a case of too much of a good thing being a bad thing, this is it. What about this “at high doses” part? From an engineer’s point of view, since the body stores this substance:
High Doses EQUALS the SUM of many small doses
Now, let’s get to know this villain a little bit better.
“Vitamin A is a retinoid and a fat-soluble vitamin that is commonly found in eggs, milk and liver and in the form of provitamin A in carotenoids in fresh fruits and vegetables particularly those with red, orange or yellow color. … and (cod liver oil)
Normal doses of vitamin A are not associated with liver injury or liver test abnormalities, but higher doses (generally more than 40,000 IU daily, ~12,000 μg) can be toxic. Acute toxicity is caused by a single or a few repeated very high doses (generally >100 times the RDA), arising within days to weeks with a typical symptom complex of severe headache, nausea, vertigo, blurred vision, muscle aches and lack of coordination, followed by skin desquamation and alopecia.
Chronic hypervitaminosis A usually arises 3 months to many years after starting moderately high levels of vitamin A (generally 10 times the RDA) and is marked by dry skin, cheilosis, gingivitis, muscle and joint pains, fatigue, mental dullness, depression and liver test abnormalities.
Mechanism of Injury
Vitamin A in high doses is a direct toxin. Excess vitamin A is stored in stellate cells in the liver and accumulation can lead to their activation and hypertrophy, excess collagen production, fibrosis and liver injury. The toxicity is dose-related and can be reproduced in animal models.”
How bad can this villain get?
High intake of the preformed types of Vitamin A are associated with toxicity, and can cause nausea, dizziness, elevated intracranial pressure (pressure around the brain), headaches, coma and death. High vitamin A levels during pregnancy are associated with birth defects.
The simple answer is; it can kill you! The more complex answer is it can first painfully destroy your body for decades, and then kill you.
Now, just like most villains; this one has a good side. At one level, it is not a villain at all. It is a critical substance for the human body. At the right level, it is not only harmless, it is essential for health. So, it is a double edge sword. It is also very, very tricky balance. It is not just how much you consume; I think it is going to depend upon what foods you consume it with.
Basically, the liver is the body’s primary storage organ for vitamin A, and the storage capacity can become more or less saturated, or maxed out. The skin and fat are secondary storage locations. If we have one of these diseases, then effectively, the body can no longer protect us from what is now a toxin. This substance is also in nearly all foods. Once we’ve maxed out our liver’s storage capacity; we are in serious danger. We’ve defeated our body’s primary defense mechanism from this potential toxin. Our immune system, and the skin are now attempting to deal with it. What happens now? If we consume just a little bit of vitamin A, it keeps the inflammation going. If we consume a bit more vitamin A, we experience a flare up and that burns holes in our tissue / organs. But, this is not some instantaneous event. It is of course more complicated, and the declining rates of absorption are what is really important. Here is a sketch as to what I think is happening.
If you are thinking, OK, great to know, I’ll just go low on foods that contain vitamin A. No, sadly, it is not that easy. Your liver is now maxed out; and maybe so is your skin. That vitamin A in your liver is not going anywhere fast, or soon. It is more or less trapped there ( to protect you from it, and to use it when needed). The vitamin A stuck in your skin, and other organs is trapped there for even longer; possibly much, much longer. Moreover, there are other artifacts from the immune response, such as cytokines and antibodies, stuck in your skin too.
Now, this is a very tricky, and delicate situation. If you surge your vitamin A intake even slightly beyond your body’s vastly diminished ability to safely absorb and store it; you are in big trouble. Moreover, my own experiment is also leading me to believe it is not just vitamin A, but maybe also carotenoids. Carotenoids are what are known as vitamin A precursors, and are found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables. Carotenoids are also used to make most foods colors. I think it is even more tricky, because it may depend upon what foods you consume vitamin A with. If you consume it with fats; it may bypass any attempt by the liver to store it. Rather, it may go directly to other storage locations.
If you have truly overwhelmed your liver’s storage capacity, then you probably need to go to near zero consumption of vitamin A for a while. The catch here is that nearly all foods contain at least some vitamin A, or carotenoids. Now every molecule counts. You also cannot consume any coconut oils either; based upon my own experimental evidence. I think that the coconut oils act as emulsifiers for retinol and carry it around the body.
People from the medical community will probably quickly challenge this entire theory of sub-clinical toxicity with this vitamin. They might take the position that there is no way millions of people are actually getting into a toxicity state. Well, let’s investigate this and see.
Matching Up Theory with The Facts
Now, let’s look at the symptoms of Vitamin A toxicity, and compare those with Crohn’s disease. But, just like with eczema, it is important to look at all the ancillary symptoms of Crohn’s disease, and not just the primary one of inflammation and tissue destruction. We need to take a step back from focusing on the primary symptom, and look at the bigger picture. Then the situation becomes clearer.
The symptoms of vitamin A toxicity.
source 1: http://www.healthline.com/health/hypervitaminosis-a#Symptoms3
Symptoms of acute vitamin A toxicity include:
- abdominal pain
- increased pressure on the brain
Symptoms of chronic vitamin A toxicity include:
- blurry vision or other visual changes
- swelling of the bones
- bone pain
- poor appetite
- nausea and vomiting
- sensitivity to sunlight
- oily skin and hair
- itchy or peeling skin
- cracked fingernails
- skin cracks at the corners of your mouth
- mouth ulcers
- hair loss
- respiratory infection
Source 2: NIH
- severe headache
- blurred vision
- muscle aches and lack of coordination
- followed by skin desquamation and alopecia (hair loss)
- dry skin
- cheilosis (fissures in the corners of the mouth)
- muscle and joint pains
- fatigue, mental dullness
Let’s match up some of these with those documented for Crohn’s
|Vitamin A Toxicity (aka poisoning)||Crohn’s Symptoms|
|skin desquamation||skin rashes; and ulcers in the GI tract|
|cheilosis (fissures in the corners of the mouth)||anal fissures ??|
|abdominal pain||abdominal pain|
|vomiting||Vomiting in some cases|
|vertigo, mental dullness||?? (please help if you know)|
|bone pain||Joint pain, symptoms of arthritis|
|alopecia (hair loss)||alopecia (hair loss)|
|mouth ulcers||mouth ulcers|
|blurred vision||blurred vision|
|respiratory infection||no ??|
|confusion||?? (please help if you know)|
|sensitivity to sunlight||no ??|
It is not a perfect match; but there are quite a few shared symptoms. Some really key ones for me are mouth ulcers (canker sores), fatigue, and blurred vision.
I had these symptoms well before any sign of my eczema conditions. I had mouth ulcers (just small blisters on the insides of my cheeks) occurring off and on in the year or so before my first incidence with eczema. I had no idea what was causing them. They were not painful at all. Since I’ve been on my vitamin A elimination diet, I have not had a single recurrence, not one. They are completely gone.
Severe fatigue is a documented symptom of Crohn’s, Lupus, and of course other autoimmune diseases.
I experienced severe fatigue too in the year leading up to my first eczema symptoms. I was needing 12 hours of sleep a day. Strangely, even that amount of sleep was not very helpful. I was still just barely dragging through the day. It was chronic; almost unrelenting fatigue that lasted close to a full year. I was also trying to get mid afternoon naps. Three weeks after adopting a very low vitamin A diet; all of the fatigue completely vanished. I am not talking about just a significant improvement. It was more like a 100% improvement. I now have absolutely no fatigue at all. It is completely gone. I now need only about 6-7 hours of sleep; and am totally refreshed and alert in the mornings. I have no mid afternoon low points at all. This in itself should be considered remarkable. I can’t overstate just how completely resolved my fatigue symptoms are. Even when I went back into slight flare up states with the eczema skin condition; the fatigue remained completely resolved.
Joint Pain and Body Stiffness:
Like fatigue; I was experiencing some significant joint pain, and body stiffness leading up to my eczema symptoms. This actually started back about 10 years earlier. It was very, very slowly getting worse. I assumed that the joint pain and body stiffness were just a normal part of aging (who doesn’t think this?). The body stiffness had become quite noticeably worse in the year prior to my eczema experiences. Within four weeks of my vitamin A elimination diet, those symptoms completely vanished too. I mean completely, totally gone. When I get out of bed in the mornings, there is no stiffness whatsoever. However, unlike with the fatigue, when I went back into slight flare up states with the eczema skin condition; a very slight amount of stiffness returned. That very slight regression only lasted for a day or two and has been gone ever since.
I have now been four months at a state of ZERO fatigue; and extremely close to zero with joint pain and stiffness. Unfortunately; I can’t say the same about the eczema skin condition. It was completely resolved for more than a month; but I’ve now gone back into a smallish flare up state ( I think this regression was due to overexposure to sunlight; and eating coconut oil too?). Still, my eczema condition is hugely better than before my vitamin A elimination diet.
Quite similar to the resolution of fatigue, and joint pain; my thinking clarity has vastly improved too. In the 2-3 months leading up to my eczema skin condition; I found my ability to think clearly, and to focus was very limited. It was like I had Attention Deficit Disorder at age 54. Charles Darwin described this as his “swimming head”. I find that a remarkably accurate description of what I was experiencing. I now have no trouble at all with staying focused, and I believe my thinking skills are completely back to normal too. This improvement happened at about week three of my vitamin A elimination diet. It was very significant, and very noticeable. I’d like to say I now have perfect thinking clarity; and no A.D.D. whatsoever.
I think it is important to point out that the improvements with fatigue, joint pain, and thinking clarity did not happen at all gradually. There was basically no noticeable improvement for the first 3-4 weeks. Then, almost abruptly, over a 3 day period, they completely resolved. So, that was a pretty amazing experience. It was also completely, and totally unexpected since my vitamin A elimination diet was attempting to resolve my skin rash. Call me daft; but I had no idea that all these conditions were related.
Making this connection; I believe that at least some kids with severe eczema are going to have an extremely difficult time in doing well in school. It is not just because they have itchy skin either.
I had hundreds of little skin nodules show up on my elbows, knuckles and a few on my face; at least a year before I had any real signs of eczema. These nodules disappeared around week three of my elimination diet. They are completely, and totally gone. They have never returned.
You might assume that of course people with these diseases experience depression; who wouldn’t be depressed? Well; that is not the case at all. It is a toxin induced depression, or apathy. I never once felt sorry for myself; or genuine depression. After-all, let’s be real, this was just a rash to me. But, I did experience this weird sense of indifference (the first time in my life).
Vastly improved; no longer blurry or dull. Isn’t that ironic. Vitamin A is critical for vision; and I remove it from my diet, and my vision gets better.
For a year or more I was experiencing some significant sweating at nights; mostly around my neck and head. That is now completely; totally gone. Not a trace of it.
Inflamed and Thick Scaly Skin
And of course, these two diseases share the lovely symptoms of having holes burned in our tissues. Or regions of tissue that is turned red, inflamed, thick and scaly.
That has been a much harder one to completely resolve (at least for me). It is of course the big symptom that everyone focuses on. But, it is only one of the symptoms of these two diseases. As I stated above, I think it is very important to look at all of the symptoms together, then it becomes a much clearer match as to what is really causing these two diseases. Let’s look at this differently. IBD has its documented primary symptoms, and a bunch of others categorized as Extra Intestinal Manifestations (or symptoms outside of the gut).
What is being termed Extra Intestinal Manifestations implies that these symptoms are somehow being caused by the IBD, or are somehow complications of the disease. I don’t think that is the case at all. What if we move the primary IBD symptoms down to the same level as the other ones, and just consider them to all be symptoms of some other underlying root cause?
I think this is highly more likely. Now; what would happen if someone with one of these autoimmune diseases went on a vitamin A elimination diet? In my own personal case, it was diagnosed as severe eczema, and it now looks like this.
Let’s look at more connections with Vitamin A toxicity and Crohn’s
CRITICAL EVIDENCE: Accutane – a huge, and direct connection
“Accutane (isotretinoin) is a popular drug for severe acne created by Hoffmann-LaRoche Inc. The drug is linked to severe bowel disease and other side effects.”
“The medication is a derivative of vitamin A and works by controlling the oil in the sebaceous glands.”
“However, clear skin may be accompanied by serious side effects like Crohn’s disease.”
“Roche stopped manufacturing Accutane in 2009.”
Please read the source page for all the other horribleness this drug has caused, including birth defects. With this hugely important information; what have the medical community, and government agencies done to warn the general public about the dangers of too much vitamin A? Nothing; as far as I know.
This is bizarre to me since the official information from the National Institute of Health states that Vitamin A IS A DIRECT TOXIN at high doses. Here, we have drug companies marketing a product that is exactly that. What the heck did they expect to happen? Could this be worse? Well, here is an interesting bit of trivia about Accutane (isotretinoin). It was first developed as a chemotherapy drug, and is still used as one today. It is used for this purpose due to its ability to kill rapidly dividing cells. Maybe it is just me, but does it not seem to be a bit extreme to consider this an appropriate drug for reducing acne in healthy teenagers?
Accutane (isotretinoin) – is an ISOmere of Tretinion. Tretinion is all-trans-retinoic acid. This is a direct derivative of Vitamin A.
Therefore; it is quite well established by this situation that high doses of Vitamin A, in the form of retinoic acid, can, and has caused Crohn’s disease. That’s no surprise to me. But, the key thing to understand, is that Vitamin A is not a direct toxin just at high doses; that is a myth. It can be a toxin at any dose. Once again, it just depends upon what storage state your body is in when you have that dose. Therefore, it is relative. If you are in a saturated, or near saturated state; then any small, or even tiny dose is toxic!
So, what has happened with Accutane, and what can we learn from this? Firstly, what this drug has done is built up (saturated) the body’s store of Vitamin A. Secondly, this saturated state has very likely caused Crohn’s disease in multiple cases. This has been proven in courts. Thirdly, most of these people did not fully recover after getting off of the drug (but some did).
Why did they not recover? I think it is because they remained saturated with retinol and retinoic acid. What’s going to happen to it? Is it going to simply disappear? No, of course it is not.
It may also, and could very likely be that this high dose of retinoic acid had caused permanent liver damage. I don’t know; and have no idea really; I am just hopeful it is not the latter.
Did Accutane really cause IBD/Crohn’s?
I don’t know how much it is accepted within the medical community that Accutane actually caused Crohn’s disease or not. I found this 2010 paper titled “A causal association between Accutane and IBD has yet to be established”
The authors are questioning this cause effect relationship. They conclude that it is not really conclusive, and that the very slightly higher ratio in people who had taken Accutane and developed Crohn’s as opposed to the general population is not very convincing. Statistically speaking, the evidence is pretty weak. Just based upon the raw numbers I would agree. However, there are quite a few documented cases where people started on the drug, developed Crohn’s, stopped the drug and then recovered. So, I think that is pretty strong evidence that there is indeed an association. Also, if we were to do face-to-face interviews with these people; that might give us a better insight. Not everything is reflected in the numbers. My guess is that these were mostly perfectly healthy people before they took the drug. I think after talking face-to-face with say victim number 5,000 we might not care about the numbers, or ratios at all.
Now, let’s dig into this causal association question a little bit deeper.
I think the authors of this report should have taken a bit of a different perspective on investigating this question. In doing so they may have come to a different conclusion. Firstly, the basic question they are asking is: “Did Accutane Cause IBD / Crohn’s”; and that leads them down a certain path of thinking. The key starting point in the analysis is the understanding that Accutane is Vitamin A (retinoic acid). Yes, the retinoic acid molecule is slightly tweaked. But, it is an isomer, having the same chemical formula, and the same functional groups. Reading about the genesis of this drug, the LaRoche people were looking to develop an anti-acne drug, and started with the knowledge that this drug would move into the sebaceous glands of the skin, and reduce the amount of the oil feeding the acne causing bacteria. This is a documented fact. Regardless, Accutane and Vitamin A (retinoic acid) molecules are nearly identical, and effectively function the same in the human body. I don’t think there can be much debate about this point. The drug did work as expected, and did dry the skin, and did reduce acne. It also caused birth defects just like high doses of Vitamin A have proven to cause. These are facts.
We all know that the body stores retinol (a food form of Vitamin A). But, the most amazing fact about the Accutane experience is that the body stores retinoic acid too. We need to remember this fact.
Okay, so now let’s ask the “Did Accutane Cause IBD / Crohn’s” question just a little bit differently. Since Accutane is Vitamin A (retinoic acid), we can ask: “Did Vitamin A Cause IBD / Crohn’s” ?
In order to investigate this question; we need to first research the accounts of people who have authentically chronically poisoned themselves with genuine Vitamin A ( nothing to do with Accutane, or even retinoic acid, for now).
There are lots (1000s) of people who have done this for various reasons (for some reason they thought it was good for them). There are many well documented accounts; and it is still happening today. See the many cases documented on the NIH pages and elsewhere. So, let’s just take a bit of a hypothetical example (use a real case if you want) of someone taking reasonably high doses of Vitamin A, daily, for say 3 years. Here’s the sequence of events:
- @ 6 months ⇒ no adverse symptoms at all
- @ 12 months ⇒ no adverse symptoms at all
- @ 18 months ⇒ no adverse symptoms at all
- @ 24 months ⇒ no adverse symptoms at all
- @ 30 months ⇒ no adverse symptoms at all, hair getting oily
- @ 36 months ⇒ no adverse symptoms, but maybe the skin getting drier
- @ 36 months+10 days ⇒ huge adverse symptoms; skin peeling; lips swollen and cracked, hair falling out etc, etc, seeks immediate medical attention
This similar sequence of events is repeated in all cases of chronic Vitamin A poisoning. So, what is really happening here? The body is safely absorbing and storing all the daily doses until it gets to a slightly saturated point. It is important to understand that all those stored doses have not suddenly become toxic. They are safely stored. It is the additional doses that cannot be absorbed, or absorbed fast enough, that are now becoming toxic. What these people are doing is filling up their storage capacity for this substance.
Okay, let’s get back to Accutane. Remember these are mostly young people dealing with an acne issue. So, what is the sequence of events? It is going to be something like this (depending upon dose):
- @ 1 month ⇒ acne gets worse ( documented as a side effect )
- @ 6 months ⇒ no adverse symptoms at all, skin drier, acne clearing
- @ 12 months ⇒ no adverse symptoms at all, skin drier, acne clearing more / clear
- @ 18 months ⇒ stops doses, or reduces to only when required
At this point in time; the vast majority of them have not yet induced Crohn’s; or any other disease.
Firstly, let’s analyze this documented common side effect of acne first getting worse. It is actually not a side effect at all. It is perfectly logical, and should be expected as a normal progression of taking the drug. When they start on the drug, since it is in the retinoic acid form, the body is going to quickly start moving this into the sebaceous glands. In order to do that, it must first wrap that retinoic acid in a lipid. Then, in order to move this new toxic lipid into the sebaceous glands, some of the current non-toxic lipids are going to have to be expelled. This newly expelled (and non toxic) lipid now fuels and promotes the acne causing bacteria.
Next, and more importantly what these people have done is significantly elevated their body’s storage. Therefore, they have reduced their future storage capacity. These are generally young people, so they may have gone from hypothetically say 10% storage used to something like 30-60% storage used. What they have effectively done is removed say 2 or 3 decades of future storage capacity that would have been consumed by our normal North American diet. Once again, most of those Accutane molecules are not going to become toxic; they are safely stored by the liver.
Now let’s get back to this report questioning the causal association between Accutane and IBD / Crohn’s. What they are failing to consider is the time dimension. It is what is going to happen to these people in the future with regard to regular vitamin A consumption that needs to be considered. At some point they are going to reach an elevated storage level where newly consumed vitamin A molecules are going to become toxic. They are going to be toxic because the body has no place to store them. It is almost like a guy authentically poisoning himself with regular vitamin A; but it is just a bit worse actually.
There is a big time delay here; most likely in 2-5 decades for most people, between taking Accutane and getting disease. Therefore, rather than looking at a particular point in time (2010) to consider the ratio of people who took Accutane and developing Crohn’s they need to wait 2-3 more decades, and redo that ratio calculation. Just as importantly they need to expand the question to: “Did Accutane cause IBD / Crohn’s, Lupus, Eczema, Arthritis or any other autoimmune diseases?”.
There are more than 7,000 lawsuits filed over Accutane. I’ve read one report that it is projected that about 30% of the people who took Accutane will go on to develop Crohn’s / IBD. If that proves to be true, that will be more than 120,000 people. Now I think there should be little doubt about a causal association between Accutane and IBD.
At the very least we should be warning people who did take Accutane to start adopting a very low vitamin A diet. If anyone is wondering if I have a personal issue with Accutane; no I don’t. I did not take Accutane.
Therefore, the hugely important thing to learn from the Accutane disaster is that it is Vitamin A that caused the IBD / Crohn’s disease. Don’t just think “Accutane”; the product name, caused it.
Most importantly, we can now say: Vitamin A caused incidents of Autoimmune Disease. That should be a really interesting statement to stop and think about for a moment. Maybe for a very long moment.
Therefore, is it not highly likely that Vitamin A is still causing a lot more incidents of Autoimmune Disease? Could it be that it is causing most of these autoimmune diseases?
It does not matter at all if that vitamin A was obtained from an acne pill, or from eating fish, or tomatoes, or liver. In the end, it is all just vitamin A. It is a direct toxin! This is a simple scientific fact. The other simple scientific fact is that this direct toxin will cause inflammation and destroy human tissue.
Is there other supporting evidence in the geographic, and demographic, data with regards to Crohn’s disease? Of course there is. And like the Accutane disaster we have another man made disaster that adds significant evidence; the collapse of the Canadian East Coast cod fishery in 1992. More on this a bit later. Firstly, let’s deal with some of the common theories regarding these diseases.
What is NOT causing Crohn’s disease and Eczema
KEY EVIDENCE – It is not a modern environmental toxin
It is not herbicides or pesticides, or modern day pollutants, or chlorine in the water etc,. This is clear because these diseases have been around for over a 100 years. Darwin had eczema 200 years ago. Please see my post on that: New Lessons from Charles Darwin. This is not just out of some historical interest; I consider it to be more strong evidence supporting this theory.
KEY EVIDENCE – It is not genetics
The incidence rates of these diseases are doubling at alarming rates; like every 10 or 20 years. Human genetics are not changing this fast. Moreover, 20% of kids now get eczema, and most “grow out of it”. Likewise, teenagers and young adults “get” Crohn’s; and they did not have it during early childhood. That is just not logical if these were genetic diseases.
Kids would not “grow out of” eczema, and magically pick up Crohn’s at 15-20 years old. No way. You don’t grow out of a genetic disorder. And you don’t grow into one either; at least not on a wide scale; like what we are seeing with these diseases. If you really have a genetic disorder, you are most likely going to have it at birth, and you’ll have it for life.
What is probably a genetic predisposition is just the location the body is going to manifest this toxicity. Undoubtedly, some people have both Eczema and Crohn’s. I believe that if Eczema patients use steroid creams long enough; they are just going to force this inflammation to go internal.
The higher prevalence among Ashkenazi Jews is probably also not genetic. It is more likely simply due to their diet. Some customary dishes include chopped liver (53,000 IU/100g) and pickled herring (1,300 IU/100g). Other geographic distributions for these diseases is going to closely match dietary patterns. World incidence rates are going to closely relate to those areas with high cumulative consumption of vitamin A. Additionally, it is going to closely correlate with countries that fortify milk and dairy, and those regions with high consumption of cold salt water fish.
If these diseases were genetic; then the severe symptoms would probably be much more consistent. There would not be this sporadic-chronic nature to these diseases. We would not see these periods of remissions and “flare-ups”. The genes are not going into remission, and recurrence. What is causing the “flare-ups” is far more simple; it is food. And no one stops eating vitamin A! It is nearly impossible; it is everywhere. What is sporadic; is just the amount of intake; and the current relative level of saturation. If these diseases were genetic disorders, they would not go into remission for months, and years.
Oddly, everyone in the eczema community agrees on the foods that cause the “flare-ups”. This includes the American and Canadian Eczema Associations. The cited trigger foods are like: eggs, milk, dairy, fish, tomatoes, red peppers, and citrus fruits. This is documented over an over. It is similarly documented for Crohn’s and Lupus, and other autoimmune diseases; just not so specifically. But, the key point is that we have a list of foods that “trigger” “autoimmune” disease flare-ups. But, are not “trigger” and “auto” kind of contradictory terms? Why aren’t people considering that these are not just the “trigger” foods? Rather, are they not the actual root cause foods too?
All I did was to ask myself a simple question: what do these “trigger foods” all have in common? The “trigger foods” all share a common fact. They all have high levels of vitamin A.
Now, if you are not familiar with adult eczema; you would very reasonably conclude that; no problem, just stay away from the documented trigger foods and you’ll recover.
Well, this is the apparent paradox in this disease. The trigger foods can definitely make it worse; causing flare-ups. But stopping these trigger foods does not cure it for most people ( it has for some people). It just brings it down to kind of a baseline.
People don’t cure from it because they are in a saturated, or near saturated state. They can mostly avoid the big flare-ups. But, just the regular daily intake of vitamin A is enough to keep them in the perpetual state of subclinical toxicity. To even begin to recover; they need to adopt a zero vitamin A diet. This is almost impossible to randomly ever happen. Based upon my experience, once you do adopt a zero vitamin A diet; it takes at least a week to start to see results, and 5-6 weeks to see really big results. Foods that are labeled as 0% RDA are only really low in vitamin A. That is almost meaningless. I think you need foods with 0 molecules of vitamin A.
KEY EVIDENCE: It is not truly Autoimmune
This one is not so obvious. The immune system is definitely involved here. But, not in the defective way that it is believed and documented to be. The immune system is not randomly attacking the cells at all. It might just appear to be what is happening. No; the immune system is working just fine, and trying to deal with a toxin; or a toxic situation. I don’t know the exact mechanism; but I do present some plausible explanations.
There are some really big clues here with the steroid creams used to treat eczema. For argument sake, let’s say the immune system is attacking the skin tissue (the assumption being that these are defective, or out of control, rogue immune cells). I am calling these rogue cells because the inflammation is not body wide; but quite localized.
Now we apply the steroid cream (immunosuppression) to the location of the inflammation. It works like a charm (firsthand experience). The immune cells back off, and the inflammation dies down quickly. Did we kill these rogue immune cells? No; we did not. What happens to them? Do they move on and immediately attack tissue elsewhere? No, they do not. Therefore, what we’ve really done is to introduce a immunosuppression agent to the site of the inflammation. These rogue white blood cells, and every other white blood cell in the body is now staying away from this location. What we’ve really done is to put an immune barrier around the site of a substance the immune system regards as a toxin. Technically speaking; we are blocking the production of cytokines that call the immune system into action. Therefore, logically, these rogue white blood cells are not rogue at all. The are normal. They are just getting the wrong messages.
Therefore, I think it is far more likely that the retinoic acid (or some other form of retinol) is building up in the tissue, and dissolving collagen, and this chemical is destroying cells. These tissue cells are under attack from this toxin and they are sending out some signal to the immune system for help. The immune cells are rushing in to the fight; but they are not equipped for this battle. The body has just not evolved for this. This is the liver’s job to protect the body from this potential toxin. But, the liver is maxed out; it is now sidelined, and of no help. Thus, free retinol is relentlessly entering the bloodstream with every meal. We are now in subclinical toxicity; it only appears to be an immune disease that is causing the destruction.
If the immune system leaves this potential toxin circulating in the blood, it will burn holes in the kidneys, brain, and other organs.
There are even more reasons that this is not “auto” immune. Why are these very localized inflammations we see in these diseases? I am not talking about all autoimmune diseases combined. I am talking about just in the context of one of them; such as eczema, or Crohn’s, or pick almost any other one of them. Even arthritis; it does not attack every joint in the body; only some of them. Eczema does not attack all the skin; only small parts of it. Therefore, the immune system does not have an issue with these tissue types. Rather, it has an issue with these tissue types at only specific locations.
If the immune system had gone haywire; it would be far more widespread; if not everywhere. In the case of eczema; almost all of the skin should be under attack; and not just these limited little patches of it. That is just not logical.
Likewise, it is just not logical that the immune system would magically stop “auto-immuning” and start up again, in some random fashion that we see in these diseases.
Why does the immune system stop “flaring-up” and the disease go into remission? Does the immune system get tired of the fight, and give up for a while? Does it need time to rebuild resources before the next attack? Isn’t it far more logical that it has actually accomplished what was needed, and finished its job?
What is random is the amount of vitamin A we eat, and the relative states of the digestion and absorption rates our body can sustain. Amazingly, there is another tricky factor at play with eczema, and that is the weather. Eczema, Lupus, and Arthritis sufferers commonly report that these conditions get worse in the winter. Here is an interesting study referencing this point on winter conditions affecting an autoimmune disease.
Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis (Eczema).
Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of Kuopio, Finland.
This is important because skin dryness and subsequent itchiness often lead to the use of medication in atopic patients, especially during the dry winter conditions in Finland, where ambient indoor humidity can be <30% moisture for months on end.
What the heck does the weather have to do with an autoimmune disease? That should sound absurd, but it is not. It is perfectly logical. It’s not the temperature, or the air pressure at play here. It is the moisture level dropping, and, to maybe a lesser extent, the reduction in UV exposure. We’ll come back to this topic a bit later.
For what it is worth; I believe I am able to turn off and turn on my auto-immuning, as if by turning a switch off and on. Only, the switch is food with and without Vitamin A. I am able to do this because I’ve been on a near zero vitamin A diet for months now. Naturally, I am trying, very, very hard to keep it turned off. It is a struggle; it is tricky, and I am still dealing with it every day. There is still a huge amount of retinol, and or carotenoids stored in my body.
KEY EVIDENCE: Skin Fluorescence
To investigate this point I compared my brother (two years younger), and myself under a fluoroscope (a form of a black light). It is an old geology fluoroscope that I have, and I am not sure of the exact wavelength. Nevertheless, it worked great. It induced a huge amount of fluorescence in my skin; but not in my brother’s.
Wow! it was a shocking difference. I clearly have a large amount of carotenoids and /or retinol in my skin compared to him. Why is that? Well, consider what my brother’s diet looks like, Coffee and toast at breakfast; burgers at lunch, and steak and potatoes for dinner. He drinks beer, does not smoke, and does not drink milk. He is perfectly healthy. No sign whatsoever of inflammation, or skin diseases, or any other disease. How’s that for ironic? I’m the one that eats “healthy” and I get diseases; he doesn’t, and he’s just fine.
I’ll try to post some pictures of my face under florescence. However, my current camera does not pick up the emission wavelength very well. But, I do have a few pictures of my hand and skin florescence in my photo gallery.
Therefore, this fluoroscope test would be a simple, simple, noninvasive technique to quickly evaluate the levels of carotenoids and /or retinol in people. Note that retinoic acid is not florescent.
The wavelength used might need to be adjusted to pick out each compound (carotenoids and /or retinol). Nevertheless, it is more direct evidence. You can literally see it glow under / in the skin. If anyone is doubting this; well just check for yourself, and post a comment as to your observations.
KEY EVIDENCE: Randomness and symmetry
In addition to the intense immune response not being body wide; an even more important observation to make is that it is not in completely random locations either. For most people, eczema is much more common on the hands and face and the back of the scalp (in children).
What is common about the hands and face? Both are exposed to sunlight. Both retinol and carotenoids are light sensitive molecules. Sensitivity to sunlight is a well documented symptom of vitamin A toxicity, and of course of Lupus too.
However, eczema does indeed commonly show up in locations where there is no exposure to sunlight; such as the underarms, the elbows, behind the knees, and even the tops of the feet too. So, it is not just sunlight that is invoking the immune response. It is a toxin. How about a toxin that is also a light sensitive molecule?
Not only is it not completely random locations that eczema shows up at, it exhibits some symmetry on the hands. For me, this is the ring finger of both hands, and the space between the thumb and the index finger. Placing both hands face down on the table, index fingers and thumbs touching; the inflammation locations are actually symmetrical. These are not quite mirror images; but close enough to be very significant.
Now, how can the immune system mount a coordinated and symmetrical attack like this? That is just not at all logical for even a healthy immune system; never mind a defective one. No way is this the immune system choosing these locations to autoimmune at and attack my skin cells. It is far more logical that there is something common about the locations that makes the immune system want to attack here. I know it sounds like semantics; but there is of course a big and very critically important difference in who is initiating the immune response. Meaning; did the immune system itself; or did skin cells call the immune system into action. Since these are symmetrical locations; I think it should be clear that the immune system is responding to something at these locations; it is not the immune system randomly autoimmuning.
I have an old family medical textbook, that was published in 1964. It has a good chapter on Eczema. It documents that the most common place for eczema to first show up is on the ring finger. Exactly the same goes for me now; 50 years after that publication. So, with the immune cells circulating in the blood; why do they prefer these locations to autoimmune at? We have this well documented, and common location for autoimmuning to take place. Isn’t that kind of amazing for a defective immune system to be this consistent?
Therefore, I think it is obvious it is not a defective immune system at all. Clearly, there is something at these locations that is invoking the immune response.
An analogy would be to notice that the police are commonly showing up at the houses of drug dealers; and causing altercations. Then, observing and being alarmed by these altercations, concluding that the police are defectively auto-policing, and are wrongly attacking the same citizens houses all the time. No; there is a reason the police are going to these same locations, just as there is a reason the immune system is attacking the skin at these preferred locations. It’s their job.
White Flaky Skin
A documented secondary symptom for eczema is white flaky skin. I’ve closely looked at the skin at the sites of inflammation under a 30x microscope. I have always seen white flaky skin on the top layer. This top layer of white flaky skin is always present both with the inflammation, but more so after the inflammation dies down. It might be a bit hard to see when the skin is highly inflamed, and turned red. But, if you look with a 10x-30x microscope you will see it clearly. Here’s a picture from wikipedia.
Please ignore the red, inflamed skin in this picture for now; just take notice of the significant white skin flaking off. Of course, white flaky skin is not only a well documented symptom of vitamin A toxicity; it is actually one of the key symptoms. So, the important question is how does the immune system cause this? Does it burn off the very top layer of skin? What’s really going on here? I think it is the overgrowth of the skin being induced by a growth hormone. This is exactly what is documented to happen in the presence of retinoic acid.
KEY EVIDENCE: Hair Burnt Off
There is another key observation to be made while examining the skin under a microscope (repeatable by anyone with severe eczema using a magnifying glass). The hair on the inflamed skin is often burned right off too; almost like it has been shaved off with a razor. This is not just a few hairs burnt off; it is 100s of them; all at the same depth. The exact location (depth) of this burn off on the hair is another very important clue. It is just a bit deeper than the top surface of the skin; maybe 0.5 mm below it. But, it is actually not burned out into the root of the hair follicle.
KEY EVIDENCE – The Sebaceous Gland
this is the most important image in this document
Original image source:
It is burned off right above the sebaceous gland. The deeper hair follicle is intact.
Now, why would the immune system burn off the hair shaft right at this level, and not burn it off, or deeper, below the sebaceous glands? It is much more logical that whatever is coming out of the sebaceous glands has burned off the hair at this level. I think this depth that the hair shaft is being burnt off at is a very important clue; and we should not gloss over this. What exact chemical is capable of burning off the hair like this? What is the concentration of retinoic acid within these hair follicles?
It is interesting that Accutane is documented to work by controlling the oil in the sebaceous glands. Accutane is retinoic acid. It does not really control the amount of oil in the sebaceous glands; rather it toxifies it. The retinoic acid builds up in the lipids in the sebaceous glands. Yes, this is documented, and well known; and Accutane clearly proves this. It has been proven like 400,000 times over. Now, with the retinoic acid within the lipids contained in the sebaceous glands; and at elevated levels, the sebaceous glands can no longer moisturize the skin. They do the exact opposite; they dry it out. It is a vicious cycle actually. As the skin gets drier; even more oil is released from the sebaceous glands; as that oil is consumed, even more retinoic acid is exposed, and the skin gets even drier. We now get inflammation; and if it is severe enough; eczema.
This is going to cycle until the sebaceous glands get temporarily depleted of their fat store. We are now in a “flare-up” mode. Of course we now have a direct toxin within the skin layer. The immune cells are going to respond, and try to contain and remove this toxin. Where to? Maybe back into the sebaceous glands?
This also completely fits with the widely accepted view that eczema, psoriasis, and lupus all get worse in the winter. And this is why you need to moisturize yourself within 3 minutes after the shower.
This also correlates with my other observations that more often than not there is slightly more inflammation right around the hair follicle as compared to the surrounding skin. Secondarily, when the little burn craters show up, they are somewhat more prevalent just adjacent to the hair follicle too; usually say 1-3 mm away. But, the little burn craters are not at all exclusive to being adjacent to the hair follicle; they are indeed wide spread throughout the inflamed skin area.
There is another interesting observation in that 1964 family medical textbook of mine regarding eczema. They report that eczema on the hands is much more common in women who washed dishes; and recommended using gloves. Okay; after reading that sentence; does anyone seriously believe this is an autoimmune disease? How can the immune system know that someone is washing dishes; compared to some other activity such as typing, or playing the piano, or anything else? That is just so completely nonsensical. Of course what is happening is the dish washing is drying out the hands; and that has the same effect as the dry winter air. That causes sebaceous glands to release stored fat / oil with its contained retinoic acid. As the skin absorbs and uses that fat; it exposes the retinoic acid molecules. And clearly, eczema is much more than just dry skin. Let’s not get confused about that. Eczema is inflamed, burning, peeling, cratered, weeping skin. We have a vitamin A acid peel right inside the skin!
Lastly, I think we can more or less prove that Eczema is not “auto” immune with a trivial little experiment. Anyone with severe eczema can repeat this same experiment in just one minute.
- Find a location that has some very slight swelling to it; but has no redness whatsoever. (For me I’ve commonly had this condition on the backs of my fingers just above the metacarpal bone.)
- Firmly (but not too hard) rub that area for 30 seconds; don’t scratch at all.
What happens? Within a minute, or less, that area will start to become inflamed; and red with the start of the eczema condition. I’ve now induced the autoimmune response at exactly this location. Yes, no question the eczema condition was going to happen in a few days anyway; I’ve just significantly sped up the process. How long does the red inflammation at this location persist for? About 4 to 6 weeks! (weeks is not a typo). It finally heals when the very top layer of white flaky skin forms, and flakes off.
Repeat this same experiment at another location where there is no prior swelling. For me; I’ve used my thigh. I can rub it for five minutes; no redness; no autoimmune response; no eczema. Rubbing the skin here does not cause an immune response.
So, the obvious question is: how can just firmly rubbing the skin for 30 seconds invoke an autoimmune response that lasts for over 4 weeks? It is just not logical that this action alone caused my white blood cells to attack the skin at this location; and to continue doing so for the next 4 to 6 weeks.
What is far more logical; is that this rubbing has put pressure on the sebaceous glands, or other fatty structures, and squeezed some of the contents to go in between the layers of the skin. I’ve just forced some toxin to be exposed. The immune system is responding to that toxin; or more correctly the immune system is reacting to the effect the toxin is having on the skin cells themselves.
Why does it take 4 to 6 weeks, or longer to heal? I have no idea. A few weeks ago, I scratched the back of my thumb on a nail; it was quite a deep scratch; with some bleeding. That scratch took 7 days to completely heal. So, I think the healing time for my skin, and my age, is about 1 week. Why does this eczema take so long to heal? It must be that this toxin is really hard for the immune system to deal with. Maybe it takes 4 weeks for the immune system to gather this up, and put it back into the sebaceous glands? More likely we are kicking off a nearly endless chain reaction.
critical EVIDENCE: The Koebner phenomenon
Once again, this is not just my observation. It is well documented; and of course has its own name. It is called the Koebner phenomenon. It is reported particularly within patients with psoriasis and to a somewhat lesser extent with eczema. It also occurs more often in the winter, than in the summer. The cause of Koebner phenomenon is documented to be unknown. Well, I don’t think it’s a phenomenon at all. I think it is a little yellow toxic molecule embedded in lipids in the skin layer, and in the sebaceous glands, that is being exposed when the skin is being pressured. And this is why Eczema is indeed the scratch that itches. The more you scratch, or rub, the more toxin you expose.
More thoughts on The Koebner phenomenon
When I first read about the Koebner phenomenon it was a bit surprise that this goes back well over 100 years ago and that it has not been solved. I think if the Koebner phenomenon were to be solved, the entire enigma of autoimmune diseases would be quickly unraveled.
To me, I think it is obvious now. There is a toxin already in the skin; and it has been sitting there for a long while. That toxin is now being exposed; or released as a result of the pressure on the skin.
For the medical researcher; that might sound absurd. They might logically ask why would there be a toxin stored directly within the skin? That’s nuts! But, it is not. It is completely logical. To a layman like myself; it is more like “what else could it be?”.
It is very interesting that the Koebner Phenomenon is documented to occur in people with psoriasis, eczema, systemic juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, vitiligo, lichen planus, et al. It is also documented to be All or Nothing like. Meaning that you can reproduce it in only people who have these skin disorders; but it is never reproducible in people who clearly don’t have these diseases. Since the Koebner Phenomenon is unique to people with these diseases; I think it is hugely likely that if we can determine its true underlying mechanism; then we can quickly get to the root cause of the disease itself. It is not at all surprising to me that juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is on this list either.
I’ve personally reproduced the Koebner Phenomenon on myself multiple times, and have caused my eczema to spread. I am able to spread out my autoimmune disease area as if it were an infection. Of course, I am not spreading an infection. I am spreading a toxin with its corresponding complicated chain reaction.
The facts we know with certainty are:
- We know from Accutane that the body is going to move retinoic acid laden lipids into the sebaceous glands in the skin.
- We know from the Japanese and Brazilian researchers that retinoic acid applied to the skin does cause the Eczema rash, and rapid skin cell growth.
- We know from the global observations that eczema and psoriasis worsen, or flare-up, in dry weather. This is clearly happening when the skin is absorbing the oils from the sebaceous glands.
Therefore, I think the Koebner Phenomenon offers a huge and immediate opportunity to reveal the root cause of these diseases. It is a toxin sitting within the lipids in the sebaceous glands. We know the exact toxin we are looking for too; it is retinol, and / or retinoic acid. I suspect the retinol mostly; due to its fluorescence.
There is absolutely, 100% positively, something in my skin, and it is fluorescent. It is not slightly fluorescent either. It is hugely, and shockingly fluorescent. There is not a wide range of possibilities as to what this fluorescent substance is. You don’t need biopsies, or sophisticated equipment to see it either. I am seeing this with a $300 fluoroscope. Once again, retinoic acid is not florescent; so I may be seeing only a portion of the amount of the retinoids stored in my skin.
Since retinol and retinoic acid are a very light sensitive molecules; anyone wanting to test this theory needs to be very careful in obtaining and testing a sample. But, I think this could be proven in a matter of days.
Eczema is clearly not random autoimmune activity. It is due to a toxin found in the sebaceous glands, and elsewhere in the skin lipids. Maybe the high levels of vitamin A actually burn out and destroy the sebaceous glands too. I don’t know.
What does this mean for Crohn’s? Well, I highly suspect that we are going to see almost the same appearance in the tissue being surgically removed from people’s GI tract, and / or in anal fissures, etc.. What about inspecting this tissue under a fluoroscope too?
The question I was really curious about was: does the tissue in the GI tract also have sebaceous glands or similar lipid containing structures? Yes, it does. Not only that, the intestinal tissues store abundant amounts of vitamin A. Why is it here? It is used by the dentritic cells. The dentritic cells are part of the immune system. Dentritic cells in the lining of the intestine are always busy swimming around locating, engulfing and destroying the many pathogens that end up there. While doing this, they convert some of the retinol (vitamin A) stored there into retinoic acid. Could it be that the dentritic cells use the retinoic acid as a form of chemical warfare against pathogens? This fits with the observation that infectious diseases depress circulating retinol and contribute to vitamin A depletion.
Additionally, these dentritic cells have some very cool little features and capabilities. They have tentacle like protrusions that penetrate the tight junctions between the epithelial cells, through to the other side, and use these tentacles to take external surface antigens back in for destruction. Just to clarify this; this is internal immune cells reaching to the outside environment to grab antigens. How cool is that? Moreover, and very importantly I think this might explain the intense itching people with eczema experience. It sure fits with the weird tingling feeling I often had on my face.
The insides of the cheeks have sebaceous glands too. So, I think I now know why I was getting the canker sores too.
Okay, let’s get back on track here. So why would anyone think that Accutane, or elevated levels of retinoic acid in general, is not going to dry out, and cause inflammation in this tissue too or anywhere else in the human body?
What is the real cause of these diseases is the relentless, and subclinical poisoning from vitamin A in our food. But, it is a subclinical poisoning only if you’ve reached a near saturation storage level.
Do you think this is too bizarre to be true? It is not. It is just assumed to be impossible, and not happening on a wide scale. Guess what? Charles Darwin got himself into exactly this state too, and remained there for his entire adult life. This was a missed lesson for us.
Is it a coincidence that some of the most common places for Lupus rashes, and eczema, and psoriasis to show up is on body locations that have the highest concentrations of sebaceous glands; such as the face an scalp? We now have lots of kids 2 & 3 years old that still have “cradle cap”. Oh, and now the same goes for lots of guys 50+ years old too.
After the Accutane disaster it should have been abundantly clear that people could get too much vitamin A, and directly cause serious, deadly diseases. This was another missed lesson for us.
Were there any general warnings issued to the public? Were cod liver oil, and vitamin A supplements pulled from the stores? Does liver at the meat counter have a toxic chemical warning sticker put on it? No; nothing as far as I know. Maybe just the opposite happened; via more regulation to supplement more foods with this potential toxin, and mandate the use of carotenoid based food coloring everywhere.
A more in-depth understanding of Eczema
There are like 20+ million people with this disease in North America. It varies from very mild to very severe, it varies from random occasional occurrences, to horrible unrelenting flare ups. It varies from the very young to the very old. Infants get it, and people 80 years old get it for the first time.
People with eczema more or less all know that it is food related. The eczema medical community recognizes this too. But it has just not been recognized yet as being a form of vitamin A toxicity that is the real cause. Nevertheless, since it is so visible, and people can more or less see responses due to diet changes, there is an opportunity here. But, like all of this; it is tricky. There are some big buffers between consumption and resulting skin changes. If you stop consuming vitamin A there maybe very little immediate improvement in the skin, or even for a very long time. This is because the skin has its own reservoir of internal storage. Additionally, you can still experience a flare-up many months after adopting a low vitamin A diet. This is because you may not expose the embedded toxin until your skin is exposed to dry winter air, or some other drying condition.
Sadly, like Crohn’s disease; researchers have been looking for the cause and cure for eczema for well over fifty years, maybe even 200 years. As far as I can tell; no progress has been made at all; like zero.
Who “gets” Eczema?
Generally, there are two big age groups with Eczema. Young children, and adults starting around age 50. Most young children grow out of it. Some don’t, and have it all their lives. When adults get it, it is more or less chronic; comes and goes, but almost always comes back. It usually worsens as we get older. Why is that?
When someone “gets” Eczema; what exactly do they get? It is not a bacteria, it is not a virus, it is not a fungus. Did they get a genetic mutation, like in Cancer? Not that either. It is a randomly defective immune system. An immune system that is randomly attacking the body itself. But, hold on, isn’t it the primary job of the immune system to protect the body? That just seems so peculiar to me. But, hey, I am open minded; anything is possible. But why do 20 million people in North America “get” eczema; and there is no where near this rate in India, or China, or Russia?
My theory is that young children are simply surging their vitamin A intake past their maximum absorption rate. Their available absorption rate is simply proportional to the size of their liver. The volume of the liver is increasing at a rate about exponent 2 of its cross sectional size. The absorption rate (the rate it can absorb and safely store vitamin A is going to be directly proportional to the remaining storage capacity) is generally going to decline with age; especially if you live in North America, due to accumulative consumption.
Why is this Age incidence pattern occurring in Eczema?
If children eat a reasonable diet, the growth rate of the liver, and its absorption rate will exceed their dietary intake. The absorption rate curve and digestion rate curve will diverge, and they will move out of the toxic state. If, on the other hand, kids eat lots of milk, dairy, pizza, tomatoes, fish, brightly colored fruits and vegetables; or horror of horrors, take cod liver oil, or eat liver, they are doomed to stay in this toxic zone for the rest of time. The absorption rate curve and digestion rate curve will converge. Oddly, even candy may be a contributor, since it is colored with carotenoid based food colors.
On the other end of the age spectrum, we have people my age; 50ish. We did not grow up in this insane childhood food environment we now have. So, we escaped childhood without Eczema, or Crohn’s. However, we’ve made (at least I have) the big mistake of listening to the current nutritional advice; taken fish oil, frequently ate fish, and lots of milk and dairy, and brightly colored fruits and vegetables too. Our healthy eating has caught up with us. We have slowly built up to the same saturated state. Unfortunately, unlike children, our liver is never going to grow larger to save us. It very well, and probably is, all swollen up, and fatty doing everything it can to try to save us. It may actually start to shrink in physical size as we age too. I don’t know. Whatever the mechanisms, we have this big U shaped curve with incidence rates; lots of kids, and a new up trend around age 50. This same U shape type curve applies to the incidence rates of other autoimmune diseases too.
Since vitamin A is a fat soluble molecule, the liver must then store it in a fatty chemical safety blanket. So, of course a fatty liver is now the norm for people over 50. Sadly, in Canada it is reported that a significant percentage of kids could have fatty livers. It is a somewhat of a hidden epidemic.
Let’s consider this in the most basic way possible. The liver stores vitamin A, but it first must be wrapped it in a fat to safely facilitate that storage. With the consumption of vitamin A vastly out of control in North America, how could we possibly expect people to not have a fatty liver? Isn’t the body doing exactly what we should expect it to? What am I missing here?
Okay, so now at 50+, we are in big trouble with Eczema. The same applies to the 50+ folks getting Crohn’s and other autoimmune diseases. Now, let’s get back to the other end of the age spectrum.
KEY EVIDENCE: Crohn’s incidence rates kicking in at age 20ish
The really interesting question here is: what is this magic 20ish age thing with young people getting Crohn’s. What happens at that age in the human body? Take just one guess, you’ll probably be right.
The human liver becomes fully developed at age 20ish, boys are 1 or 2 years earlier. So, that is probably why there is this spike in Crohn’s at this age. The growth of the liver can no longer outpace the rate of dietary consumption of vitamin A. The race is lost. Of course, it is not this binary. This can, and clearly does happen at any age, between 10 and 50+. That 20ish age also corresponds to the post acne age too. How many of these young people took retinol based acne medications?
I have no doubt that kids younger than 10 surge their dietary intake of vitamin A, and cause a burn in their bowels. Unlike 10 year old kids with Eczema, they just can’t see it happen. They may just get an unexplainable abdominal pain that lasts for a few days, or more. The damage is painful, but silent and out of sight, The body heals, and they move on.
KEY EVIDENCE: The higher socioeconomic status factor
People with higher socioeconomic status have a higher prevalence. We need to ask the all important: why is that? question. I can guarantee that the immune cells cannot detect their bank account balance. But, there is a reason. It is because they are likely to be more educated, and have more money to spend on eating healthy with lots of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and maybe vitamin supplements too. There is the same higher socioeconomic connection with rates of Crohn’s, and Alzheimer’s too (in the USA). Is this true of Lupus too?
For me; this higher socioeconomic status connection is a super important key point.
It is not just an interesting anecdotal finding. What does this key point really tell us? It tells us; in perfect, indisputable clarity that these are not genetic diseases. They are also not environmental, in the terms of the air we all breathe; or the water we all drink, or exposure to farm toxins etc. They are also not from some gut bacteria, or lack thereof. What is different is the food people choose, and what they can afford to buy. It is the FOOD!
What food(s) exactly? Once we can answer that, then we need to ask an even more important and specific question. What exact chemical compound(s) in those foods is it?
KEY EVIDENCE: Nova Scotia, Canada
About 10 years ago, I listened to a news report about Halifax Nova Scotia having the unfortunate distinction of being the Alzheimer’s capital of Canada (in rates of incidence). I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it was something like 1.5x or even 2x the national rate.
Researchers were trying to understand why. Well, I think I now know. As I’ve stated above, I think Crohn’s, Eczema, Arthritis, probably Lupus, and Alzheimer’s all share the same sinister parent.
When I first started looking into Crohn’s; it was only a bit surprising to find out that Nova Scotia also has the highest rates of Crohn’s and Colitis disease in the world.
So why is it that both Crohn’s and Alzheimer’s rates are really high in this province? Well, it should by now be obvious to us. It is that this province has been historically very high in fish consumption. It was actually a fish based economy, and a of course a staple in the diet, from like the beginning of time. But, the key, key point here is that it is not just any fish. This is Atlantic Fish.
Remembering the news story about Alzheimer’s being high in Halifax, and believing there is a connection between Eczema and Alzheimer’s, I told my wife that I’d expect that there would now start to be a significant drop in incidence rates in the province. Why?
It is because in 1992 the fish stock collapsed under the burden of overfishing by the industry. The government imposed a fishing moratorium, and all commercial cod fishing was stopped.
Although this temporarily had a big negative impact on the economy. It also had a very, very interesting, and positive side effect on regional health. In a recent 2014 study, titled: Decreasing incidence of inflammatory bowel disease in Eastern Canada: a population database study
it was observed that there has been a significant decline in the incidence rates of Crohn’s in the province starting around 1996, and continuing through to now. It is like a 25 to 35% drop. This is a really significant finding. The diet in Nova Scotia pre fishing collapse of course very much included cod. That changed almost abruptly, starting in 1993. A very important observation to make about this report is that the age group with the biggest decline in rates is the 20 to 29 age group. Since the Atlantic cod fishery had been closed for nearly their entire lives; this makes sense.
I was really curious what is happening with the incidence rates of Alzheimer’s since then.
Nevertheless, let’s get back on track here with Crohn’s and Eczema. What’s Atlantic cod fish high in? Surprisingly, Atlantic cod is significantly higher (10 x) in vitamin A than the same species on the Pacific West Coast.
Even though the meat of the Atlantic fish is 10 times higher; overall, it is not particularly high in itself. Once again, we need to factor in the TIME dimension here. One cod fish meal is not going to do any harm. But, 3,000 or more of them will. Additionally, the cod oil is much, much higher in vitamin A.
There is no doubt that the decline in incidence rates of Crohn’s in the province is due to the abrupt reduction of Atlantic cod fish in the diet. So, in one man-made disaster (Accutane), we added vitamin A to people, and caused more Crohn’s. In the other, we removed a significant source of vitamin A from the diet, and subsequently hugely reduced the rates of Crohn’s. These are not coincidences. These are facts that cannot be ignored.
On one hand, we have just (inadvertently) conducted a ~20 year, ~5 million person field trial with the closure of the Atlantic Cod Fishery. This has led to a very significant result, specifically with regards to Crohn’s. But, on the other hand; there could be something wrong in my determination that cod (the meat) is the culprit here. Cod meat is actually not that high in vitamin A ~ 100 IU / fillet. However, a kid growing up in Halifax eating cod three times a week, compared to a kid in Alberta or Saskatchewan eating beef three times a week, will consume about 500,000 to 1,000,000 UI more of vitamin A over a 20 year period. These may look like big numbers; but they are not really in the context of Vitamin A consumption. Therefore, this should be a very clear indication that the truly safe range of consumption of Vitamin A is not very wide.
Now, as everyone knows; the cod oil is much higher in vitamin A. So, we need to know what happened to the oil (especially the liver oil) from these fish?
Did this go into the food chain somehow. Was it used for cooking; or supplements etc.? Basically, was it consumed by people in this Atlantic region, and the US Atlantic coast too? I am guessing; probably yes. But I don’t know the pathway. Please comment if you can. Also, please comment if you can on the rates of other diseases in the region over this same time frame. I know that Atlantic Canada has historically been somewhat higher in rates than compared to the rest of Canada. What about rates in Sydney Nova Scotia over this time frame? Sydney had some of the highest disease rates in Canada in the 1980s and 1990s. In a news report from the Halifax Herald in 1998, they state: “Deaths caused by hypertension, Alzheimer’s disease or multiple sclerosis occurred at twice the national average in Sydney.” The report cites the Sydney tar ponds as the suspected toxic source. But, I wonder, has that now changed too?
The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America report in their 2014 Fact Book that the countries with the highest rates of Crohns, and ulcerative colitis are Canada, Denmark, Iceland, and the United States. But, more precisely this list should be: Atlantic Canada, Denmark, Iceland, and the United States. What is common at least between Atlantic Canada, Denmark, Iceland? It is North Atlantic fish consumption.
I think the USA is supplementing more foods with Vitamin A than does Canada. I’ve noticed that some simple foods; such as those with flour list vitamin A in the nutrition label; whereas the same foods in Canada do not. For example, plain Cheerios in the USA list 10% RDA without milk and 15% with milk. Whereas the apparently same box of Cheerios in Canada list 0% RDA without milk, and 6% with milk.
There is more evidence that can be gleaned from the closure of the Atlantic Cod Fishery event. It was not only Canada’s fishing fleets off the east coast; other nations had fishing fleets here too. When the cod fish stock collapsed, then these other nations stopped fishing here too. Therefore, we might see a decline, or maybe just a leveling off, in the incidence rates of Crohn’s in their home nations. Please help with more data if you can; see Collapse of the Atlantic northwest cod fishery.
But; just like with Accutane the drug name, we can’t implicate Fish, the animal name in these diseases. It is a chemical that is both in the Accutane and the Fish that is the culprit here.
For example, if we try to correlate incidence rates between say families in both Halifax and Victoria BC, that eat cod fish three times a week, that won’t work. But if we consider that the family in Halifax may actually be consuming 10x the vitamin A of the family in Victoria; we might pick up the connection. The same goes for other countries, such as Sweden and Finland that eat a lot of cold salt water fish.
KEY EVIDENCE: Eczema and the East Coast
I don’t know of data for Eczema rates on the east coast of Canada. But, there is an excellent study, with all kinds of geographic data regarding the rates of Eczema in the United States. Eczema prevalence in the United States: data from the 2003 National Survey of Children’s Health.
“Novel findings include the demonstration of higher eczema prevalence along the East Coast. The study correlates well with previous reports and may help point to environmental factors that contribute to the development of eczema.”
Why? Once again, it is due to the higher east coast fish consumption. East coast cod fish is particularly high in vitamin A.
Other countries with high rates of fish consumption also have high rates of Eczema and Alzheimer’s, and I have no doubt Crohn’s and Colitis too. Here’s a world map showing Vitamin A deficiency. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vitamin_A_deficiency
Since it is a Vitamin A deficiency map, you just have to note that the dark green countries areas are getting at least enough Vitamin A. There are no surprises there for North America, the UK, Sweden, and Australia. But look at Chile. Chile now has the highest per capita consumption of fish in South America. It also has the highest rates of Alzheimer’s in South America. What are the rates of Crohn’s in Chile? What fish species do they eat? What about their tomato consumption too?
Here is another excellent study showing a global map of Crohn’s disease.
New global map of Crohn’s disease: Genetic, environmental, and socioeconomic correlations.
The comments regarding Chile are: Cases of 1996-2002 more than double compared to 1990-1995. Wow! More than doubled in just 5 years! What in their diet has changed? By chance, did they buy the unused Canadian fishing ships?
In the comments section of this report the authors ask:
“What unites Canterbury in New Zealand, Nova Scotia and Manitoba in Canada, Amiens in France, Maastricht in the Netherlands, Stockholm in Sweden, and Minnesota in the US (apart from the existence of scientists alert enough to reveal the evolving epidemiologic trends)? Unlocking this strange union would subsequently unlock the mystery of Crohn’s etiology, still speculated upon 75 years after its baptism.”
I think it is now obvious. It is fish consumption; but particularly fish that is high in vitamin A.
What’s with Manitoba and Minnesota? I don’t know. Maybe they have a higher rate of dairy, or beef liver consumption? They do have a large Native First Nations population in Manitoba. But, conversely, the incidence rates in First Nations people should be statistically lower. This is because most First Nations people are lactose intolerant. That would remove a big dietary source of vitamin A for this group. I don’t know if these are factors in the Manitoba data or not.
Amiens France? Maybe it’s a combination of pâté and coastal fish consumption.
Of course it is not just the fish. It is any source of vitamin A, and I think carotenoids too. The uptick in incidence rates we are seeing in India and China is simple to explain. They are adopting a new western food crop; big time. It is tomatoes. Check the stats; it is amazing, and alarming to see that these countries with huge populations are showing increases in these diseases.
Naturally, it is not just India and China that are eating more tomatoes. It is us here in Canada, and the US too. Business is booming for tomato growers worldwide. Consumption in North America has more than doubled in the last 15 years. What else has doubled in the last 15 years? Crohn’s and Eczema to name a few. The other food business that is booming is the carotenoid based food colors. This is shocking; it is more like exponential growth in production, its use is being mandated and legislated worldwide. Then of course, we have had supplemented milk and dairy since the 1970s. This all adds up to exponential consumption of Vitamin A, and the vitamin A precursors.
This report also points out that the Canadian province of Alberta is quite high in Crohn’s rates too. Why? Well, Alberta is a highly affluent province. It also has quite a high average level of education. So, there is not much of a shortage of money here for the family grocery budget. Therefore, people both listen to nutritional advice, and we have shopping carts that are full of the brightly colored fruits and vegetables; and lots of meat, eggs, dairy, etc., and undoubtedly multivitamins too.
I was at a Costco store here just a week ago, and there was a two pallet (1m x 2m x 1.5m) pile of guess what being sold? Cod Liver oil. There you have it right in the main aisle of the local Costco store. We don’t need an East Coast Fishery to catch the cod. We are supplementing with the worst part of it!
North South Gradient in the Geographic Data
The reports document an observation that there is a World North South gradient in the geographic distribution to the incidence rates of Crohn’s.
There are some really important points to be made about the North-South gradient observation. Firstly, it is not just the rates of Crohn’s disease that present this pattern. The incidence rates of Multiple Sclerosis and type 1 diabetes show up in the same pattern too. Secondly, it is not just a North American phenomenon either. It is present in Europe, Africa, and Australia too. This has nothing to do with genetics. It has to do with the latitude you live at. Is this for real? The more north or south you live at on the earth increases your chances of getting an autoimmune disease. How can this be? Less exposure to sunshine and vitamin D possibly?
No, I think this is going to correspond to the North-South temperature gradient in the Atlantic ocean; and the North Sea. In the case of Chile this is the cold Antarctic ocean. An interesting bit of historical trivia is that Charles Darwin’s condition significantly worsened as he sailed down the coast of Chile, some 200 years ago. We were warned.
The colder waters are going to require fish to have a higher oil content; and I think therefore, a higher level of Vitamin A.
In addition to the North South gradient, I think there is going to be a correlation between incidence rates and the proximity to coastal waters. There sure is in Canada.
I was in Denmark a number of years ago. Eel was popular in lunchtime sandwiches there. At 3,787 IU / 100g; Eel is also very high in Vitamin A. This animal lives in very cold waters. What are the rates for these diseases in Denmark, and the other Scandinavian countries?
Where in the world is the biggest disparity in the incidence rates of Alzheimer’s disease? It is between Finland and just across their border in Western Russia. This border would have been completely closed during the cold war era. The diet in Finland was, and probably still is very high in fish. Their Russian neighbors had next to none; as are their rates of Alzheimer’s disease. Today the Alzheimers/Dementia Death rate (age standardized) Finland / Russian ratio is 34.9 /1.6 per 100,000. But this border region in Russia is even lower than 1.6. Here we have a population with high vitamin A consumption, and they are 22 TIMES higher in their rates of Alzheimers/Dementia compared to their immediate neighbors. Finland also has one of the highest rates of eczema in the world. A really interesting number to find out would be the actual ratio of vitamin A consumption between these two populations. I’m betting it’s going to be close to 22.
Autoimmune diseases are now one of the leading causes of death in North America. These are horrible, and unnatural deaths. If you don’t die from one of these diseases, you are probably going to have a family member that will. Die, or not, Crohn’s, or chronic Eczema, or any other auto immune disease will destroy any young person’s quality of life. We have to stop the insanity.
Is this too simple, and too bizarre to be believable? Well I think not. Once you fully grasp those three simple facts;
- your body stores vitamin A
- it has a fixed capacity to do so
- vitamin A is scientifically documented as a direct toxin and to invoke the immune response that destroys tissue
Then the rest is not too hard to believe; I hope.
Let’s add more evidence.
key evidence: Osteoporosis
Of course Osteoporosis is a common symptom reported with IBD, Lupus, and other autoimmune diseases. Why is that? Well, blocked vitamin D, and therefore calcium absorption is now proven to be a factor in people with elevated levels of Vitamin A. But, I think that is only part of the story. What about all the retinoic acid that is being generated? This will bring down the pH level, and the body’s pH regulation mechanisms need to kick in to counter this. Therefore, I think it is logical for the body to draw calcium from the bone stores to bring the pH level back to normal.
Here is some other great clinical evidence to support this.
Biopsy Interpretation of the Gastrointestinal Tract Mucosa, 2e
VOLUME 1: NON-NEOPLASTIC
See: Mucosal Calcinosis on Page 60,
“metastatic” calcium deposits that are typical in such patients…. also been associated with hypervitaminosis A …
They go on to state:
“Regardless, mucosal calcinosis itself seems to be of no immediate clinical significance except as an incidental finding in patients with renal failure.”
On the contrary, I think this should be considered to be of huge clinical significance. Where did all this calcium come from? Did it come from the bones, or from the diet? It’s the bones of course.
How long has this been known for? Since the 1940s.
Here is a study from 1947: The action of vitamin K in hypervitaminosis A
They report high rates of spontaneous bone fractures in rats that are given elevated levels of Vitamin A. It is so toxic that they inadvertently break bones just trying to handle the rats. These rats where fed moderately high levels of vitamin A for only 10 days! The bones were incredibly quickly depleted of calcium.
Here is a more recent study by Binkley and Krueger: Hypervitaminosis A and bone.
They noted the consistent occurrence of spontaneous bone fractures associated with hypervitaminosis A and they also noted that no compound other than vitamin A is known to be associated with such fractures in animals.
Let’s consider this report on Autism. Studies Link Autism to Low Bone Density and Increased Fractures
The highlights are: “The increased risk was greatest among girls and women affected by autism spectrum disorder:
- Girls with autism had eight times the hip-fracture rate of other girls.
- Women with the disorder had ten times the rate of spinal fracture of other women.
- Boys with autism had double the hip-fracture rate of other boys.
- Men and women with autism (ages 23 to 50) had nearly 12 times the hip fracture rate of other adults.
- Women with autism also had double the rate of arm, wrist and hand fractures.”
Therefore, I think this: “no compound other than vitamin A is known to be associated with such fractures in animals” finding is of huge significance.
Of course, it is not just me that thinks there are a lot of similarities between Autism and Alzheimer’s. I’m going to add another crazy statement into the mix here. Remember that U shaped incidence rate curve I mentioned before; Lot’s of kids less than say 10, and lots of adults 50+ getting eczema. Well we now have lots of kids getting Autism, and a lot of adults getting Alzheimer’s. When combined these two, it presents almost this same incidence pattern.
The current rates of Autism spectrum are now an insane 1/128 kids in North America. Some people claim this is partly due to better diagnosis, and a broader definition of the Autism spectrum. I think that is complete BS!. It is not just a definition that has changed; it is spontaneous bone fractures too!
Since osteoporosis is a universal symptom reported with autoimmune diseases; I think it is important to dig into this topic some more. We really need to understand the mechanism here; or at least come up with a very plausible explanation for it. To do so, firstly let’s revisit the case I cited earlier on in this document of a 6 year old boy being admitted to hospital for hypervitaminosis A. When I selected this as an example case; it was just by pure coincidence that this boy was autistic too. There are some important points about this case we need to consider. Firstly, someone is spreading very bad (criminally negligent IMO ) advice about giving Vitamin A to combat Autism. That is just purely, and simply, absolutely wrong advice; and it could have a devastating, if not fatal outcome.
Secondly, what is really interesting is that the emergency treatment for this boy is to try to get his serum calcium levels into a normal range. This is well documented in the case report. So, why is his serum calcium level so high? We might say, oh well, that is just what is documented to happen with hypervitaminosis A. But why does it happen? I think it is because the excess vitamin A is being converted to retinoic acid. This retinoic acid is causing the huge amount of inflammation this kid experiences; the swollen lips etc. Just as importantly, this abundant retinoic acid causes the serum pH levels be be significantly lowered too. The body must combat this, and combat it fast to bring it back to a normal range. It does this by rapidly drawing in calcium from the bones.
Even though this is a single case study; it completely matches with all the other studies in this regard. What about some really convincing evidence from a broad geographic perspective to support this claim? Well, it turns out we have a recent report from Sweden with just such data. Please watch this video.
Here we have indisputable evidence that elevated levels of Vitamin A are indeed causing osteoporosis. But, the incredibly important point that I’ve been repeating over and over in this document, is the daily consumption is only half of the story. The real risk is the long term elevated storage levels. Also, I want to comment on the statement made in the video that people in Sweden live long and healthy lives. That’s a nice statement, but someone needs to check the stats; since this is not exactly true. Sweden has high rates of autoimmune disease and Alzheimer’s.
Now, with most autoimmune diseases exhibiting this same osteoporosis symptom; hopefully it is not too much of a stretch to make the connection. You don’t have to be in a state of hypervitaminosis A. You just have to have some chronic inflammation. Maybe even just a little extra bit each day. It is going to have a cumulative effect on your calcium stores. Taking more calcium is not the answer; and it could actually be harmful. It is getting the inflammation under control that counts. We need to get to the very basic root cause of the problem.
Another common symptom reported with Autoimmune diseases is weight gain. Of course, obesity itself is its own epidemic. Therefore, we might easily dismiss that weight gain as just part of living in a developed country. However, for a lot of people with an autoimmune disease; it is beyond this new normal un-normal. Once again; we need to know why. Or least come up with a very plausible explanation. One explanation would be to just say that most people experience fatigue, and therefore don’t exercise enough. Well; in my own personal case; that is not true. I did not experience fatigue for much of the time leading up to my eczema. But, I did have this weight gain creeping up on me. By age 54, I was about 20 lbs overweight. It was going up a few lbs per year, almost regardless of how much exercise I got. It was not too horrible; but still something out of my control was taking over, and causing this happen.
Here’s what I think the mechanism could be. It is a gut bacteria called Bacteroidetes. It is one of the most abundant organisms in the human large intestine. It is observed that when these bacteroidetes populations decline; people become obese. Oddly, and conversely, when people go on a diet, the bacteroidetes populations come back to a normal proportion. The reason this happens is documented to be unknown.
Could it be that there is a common toxin in most of our food that is killing off some of these bacteroidetes? Of course; you know where I am headed with this. If high doses of Vitamin A are a toxin to a human; could very small doses in our regular diet be toxic to this tiny bacteria? Let’s remember that Accutane, and some other acne drugs, are retinoic acid and what it does to bacteria on the surface of the skin. Of course, this is hugely speculative; but I am curious. Since adopting my low vitamin A diet I have lost about 20 lbs. My BMI is now “NORMAL”. I was not fasting at all. I was eating lots, and lots of calories too. The extra weight just magically went away. Go figure?
The Toxicity of Vitamin A – how toxic is it really?
There are tons of scientific and medical publications on the toxicity of vitamin A. Retinoic Acid is documented to be extremely toxic when it is in the wrong place or wrong concentrations. Here is a another really interesting 2012 paper: Retina, Retinol, Retinal and the Natural History of Vitamin A as a Light Sensor stating that “Excessive vitamin A uptake can lead to severe toxicity in humans”.
In the case of Accutane it is extreme. Women taking the drug were required to be on two forms of birth control; or completely abstain from sex. Moreover, they were to enter into a contract; the “I Declare” contract, agreeing that if they did become pregnant; they would immediately seek an abortion. Okay, this is retinoic acid. It is actually a chemo therapy drug! It works by killing rapidly reproducing cells. Did anyone stop to think that normal teenagers have rapidly reproducing cells too? So, what about plain old retinol (regular vitamin A)?
There is a well known study done in the 1990s where pregnant women who were taking 10,000IU or more, resulted in a high rate of birth defects (1 in 57). This was not retinoic acid; it was retinol; plain old vitamin A.
Let’s dig into this a little bit more. What we know for sure is that 10,000 IUs was incredibly toxic. Now, even though 10,000 IUs sounds like a big number, it is actually not. This is only like around 3X the RDA. A person could quite easily achieve this with normal foods alone. But the point is that we don’t know if the 10,000 IUs was the dangerous high level mark or not. It could be 5000 IUs, it could be 3000 IUs. Who really knows for sure? Actually nobody does; because it depends.
Based upon my understanding of what’s happening here is that the real risk is the absorption rates and not the daily dose that matters so much. The absorption rate is going to be very dependent upon prior consumption history, and therefore be a very individual rate.
When you read the various studies on what the safe amount of vitamin A is during pregnancy, they are all considering a daily dose. It is like this is somehow the magic number that needs to be quantified. But, since the body stores the daily dose; I think it is almost the completely wrong number to consider. What is far more important is cumulative storage, and what exactly happens with that daily dose. Additionally; exactly how fast does this process happen. The daily dose number combined with storage level numbers are what are really critical.
Let’s dig into this a little bit more. What we know for sure is that 10,000 IUs was incredibly toxic. Now, even though 10,000 IUs sounds like a big number, it is actually not. This is only like around 3X the RDA. A person could quite easily achieve this with normal foods alone.
But the critical point is that we don’t know if the 10,000 IUs was the dangerous high level mark or not. It could be 5000 IUs, it could be 3000 IUs. Who really knows for sure?
Moreover based upon my understanding of what’s happening here is that the real risk is the absorption rates and not really the daily dose that matters so much. The absorption rate is going to be very dependent upon prior consumption history, and therefore an individual rate.
Generally, older women are probably going to have lower absorption rates; so their risk level is going to be higher. Therefore, the safe amount for pregnant women is also going to be variable just based upon individual dietary habits, and possibly age too.
Let’s imagine what might happen with a well intentioned pregnant woman who wants to do everything she can to make sure her new baby gets all the nutrition it needs. She might eat a few eggs with cheese for breakfast, two glasses of milk, take a multivitamin. She might take an Omega 3 fish oil tablet. Then for lunch a tuna salad. Maybe a salad with lots of brightly colored vegetables such as tomatoes, and bell peppers. Maybe she juices a few carrots with that fancy juicer she has. Boom! Now she surged her vitamin A intake; and maybe way past her safe absorption rate too. Now what? Could some of that excess vitamin A convert to retinoic acid and endanger the fetus? You bet it could!
Fortunately, the medical community is now warning women about consuming too much vitamin A during pregnancy. I don’t know how universally this message is being delivered. There is also the ongoing belief that elevated post delivery Vitamin A consumption is fine, if not being recommended. But, is this really true? Is there 100.00% completely water tight, irrefutable scientific evidence to support this? Or is it just being assumed too? Why on earth do we have this astounding epidemic of Autism in North America?
Okay, in the context of birth defects; someone might claim high doses are only a risk to a developing fetus. But, that is totally incorrect. As you’ve seen here, there is tons of research proving high doses are toxic to kids and adults too. What makes a high dose? Anything that is not nearly immediately stored. Who does this apply to? Kids with small livers, and everyone with current elevated storage. Of course, I can’t just make this claim without strong supporting evidence. So, here it is published in the Journal of the World Public Health Nutrition Association in a May 2010 commentary titled: The great vitamin A fiasco
The findings that high doses of vitamin A, especially in well nourished children, have adverse impacts on respiratory infections, should surely be grounds for serious concern.
I think the critically important point in this statement is the “especially in well nourished children“. Why is this? It is because their absorption rates are going to be slightly lower. This in itself should be hugely telling. There is indeed a very thin range of consumption rates that are safe. This is actually that same higher socioeconomic factor showing up here; but in the context of kids from villages in India etc.
Does anyone think for one second that children in North America are not well nourished too? Does not our supplemented food now load them up with somewhat big doses almost every day?
There is something else about this “adverse impacts on respiratory infections” that needs a bit of investigation. Why exactly does giving a kid a shot of vitamin A cause higher rates of respiratory infections? Isn’t this an amazingly revealing bit of information? It is because surged vitamin A intake leads to inflammation. Inflammation leads to opportunistic infections; especially in sensitive tissues like the lungs.
Yet, vitamin A is a very critical chemical to the human body; too much, or too little is extremely dangerous. In the paper: Retina, Retinol, Retinal and the Natural History of Vitamin A as a Light Sensor they also state:
“In adults, vitamin A deficiency can lead to profound impairment of hippocampal long-term potentiation and long-term depression and impairment in learning and memory. Vitamin A deficiency can also lead to pathological changes in the lung, the skin, the thyroid and the male and female reproductive systems.”
This is very strange, and paradoxical, since this closely matches with some of the major symptoms of vitamin A toxicity. Could, it be that saturated organ storage actually results in a vitamin A deficiency in the brain? Or is the liver no longer able to deliver the vitamin A in the RBP? I have no idea. Whatever the mechanism; vitamin A intake is indeed a double edge sword.
I’ve read another study from 1940 stating that they considered Vitamin A to be so toxic that they recommended that it be a controlled substance. So, this toxicity of vitamin A has been generally well known for a very long time.
Then, for some misguided reason, in the mid 1970s we began adding this well known toxin to nearly all milk and dairy in North America. Then, starting around the 1980s we start seeing this exponential growth rates in disease. We now have an epidemic in Eczema, Crohn’s & IBD, Arthritis, Lupus, Autism, Alzheimer’s, and more. Once again, and amazingly, all the combined symptoms of these diseases are like a perfect match for Vitamin A toxicity. If you have any doubt about this connection; please read on to the Alzheimer’s data I present in the summary.
Does all this make sense, or is it too simple?
Let’s look at the data in the most obvious way. These diseases are doubling at alarming rates. What substance in our food is also doubling at similar alarming rates? It’s easy; just ask the tomato farmers, and the Cod Liver oil suppliers. Then consider that this very bad nutritional advice about eating lots of milk, dairy, and brightly colored fruits and vegetables has taken hold. As so has that horrible advice about supplementing with fish oils. The cited Eczema “trigger foods” are also most of the recommended foods on the Canada food guide.
No, it’s not sugar, or gluten (in itself), to blame here. Sugar will make you fat, but it will not directly dissolve and burn holes in your skin, and organs. Gluten can definitely be an antagonist; but it is not the root cause.
I think there is only one common substance in all of our foods that is scientifically proven to be capable of doing this. It is vitamin A (retinol, and or retinoic acid).
But, you might argue that this is a really simple theory; and there is no way the wider scientific, and medical community is missing this.
Well then please explain to me why alarms were not sent out regarding Accutane? That should have sent shock waves throughout the drug, food, medical communities, and government agencies. But, no, nothing but silence.
So don’t think that some people at drug companies can’t possibly miss the obvious. Not only did they miss the obvious; they completely, and conveniently, ignored over 50 years of scientific knowledge that vitamin A is a toxin at high doses!
Or maybe this vitamin A subclinical toxicity is not obvious? After all, this is a very subtle, and very tricky situation that develops slowly over a long period of time. It is more or less documented to be hugely unlikely to happen on a wide scale like it is. But it is indeed. It is happening, just with unexpected, and with mostly small or, subclinical amounts of this potential toxin being in the wrong place in the human body. Just to be clear here; once again, this is not at all classic Hypervitaminosis A. No; this is a very slow build up to near saturation; and thereafter being in a state of chronic subtle overflow of this toxin.
Or maybe I am completely wrong too? But, everything I’ve presented in this document is not based upon opinion. There are a lot of documented facts; and my own firsthand experiences. I think it should be clear, logical, and compelling evidence.
BTW, I am also now pretty sure what caused the leaking of my kidneys. It is the same horrible yellow toxin that is dissolving, and burning holes in my skin. It is doing the same in the colon, and other internal organs of children, and young adults suffering from Crohn’s, and other autoimmune diseases.
It is time to stop the insanity. Why exactly is kid’s milk, and so many other foods, fortified with a direct toxin? Was this decided by some government bureaucrat decades ago? That may have been fine 40 years ago; but no longer. We have this huge over abundance of vitamin A in other foods. It is time to seriously rethink this. I think we are now seeing the unintended consequences of this; and it is called the auto-immune epidemic.
Why are we selling Cod Liver oil by the truck load to unsuspecting consumers? High doses of Vitamin A have been proven, over and over, to cause birth defects; if nothing else. What the hell is going on?
Is it a coincidence that vitamin A & D have been added to milk and all dairy products since the early 1970s, and the incidence rates for these diseases began skyrocketing in the 1980s? Is it a coincidence that milk and all dairy products are very commonly cited as being foods that “trigger” autoimmune disease flare-ups? Is it a coincidence that elevated levels of vitamin A are now proven to block vitamin D, and that osteoporosis is common in autoimmune diseases? Milk promoting strong bone health is now being proven to be a myth too. Here’s a recent article and a referenced study.
Study Suggests Milk May Actually Increase The Risk Of Bone Fracture
Despite what most people have heard their entire lives, milk may not be so good for bones or for longevity, according to a new study in the journal BMJ. The research found that consuming more milk was linked to greater risk of bone fractures and to earlier mortality. Meanwhile, cheese, yogurt, and other fermented products appeared to be “safe.” It’s not quite clear why, but the research suggests that milk alone may increase inflammation and oxidative stress in the body.
Of course, it is not just the milk and dairy sources. When in human history have we consumed so much of this potential toxin as a regular part of our diet?
Is it a coincidence that reducing a significant source of vitamin A from a million person population results in a 35% drop in the incidence rates of Crohn’s and inflammatory bowel disease?
Is it a coincidence that eczema is a commonly reported co-disease with Alzheimer’s and Autism. Of course spontaneous bone fractures have been documented in vitamin A toxicity since the 1940s. Once again, there is this amazing little bit of trivia : no compound other than vitamin A is known to be associated with such fractures in animals. Why would we think humans are going to be any different in this regard?
Is it a coincidence that the incidence rates of Alzheimer’s have recently dropped a bit in the USA, and Germany too, and both these countries stopped fishing cod off the east coast of Canada.
Is it a coincidence that the United States, Canada, Europe, and other industrialized nations get their vitamin A from multivitamins, fish liver oil, and the fortification of foods such as milk, butter, margarine, breakfast cereals, and some snack foods. Whereas, in the developing nations, 70–90% of vitamin A is obtained from carotenoids in plant based foods. We have an epidemic of autoimmune and other horrible diseases; and they don’t. Does anyone else think there’s a connection here?
The Alzheimer’s Connection
Let’s come back to where we started from in all of this. Alzheimer’s disease rates in Atlantic Canada.
For what it is worth; I actually have very little doubt that this is the root cause of Alzheimer’s too. I know that’s a pretty crazy statement to come from an older engineer / geologist who was just trying to cure a skin rash. And, Yes, I do know that vitamins (including A) have been officially ruled out as the cause of Alzheimer’s disease. So why do I make such an absurd sounding claim?
- It is hugely supported in the data; there are very significant correlations with the world geographic and demographic data; very similar to those of Crohn’s and Eczema.
- The significant East to West gradient in Canadian rates also means that this is an environmentally induced disease.
- Mental dullness, and confusion are well documented symptoms of Vitamin A toxicity. So is memory loss, mental dullness, and confusion with Lupus and a lot of other autoimmune diseases.
- People with Alzheimer’s have something like a 40% higher rate of Osteoporosis. Elevated levels of Vitamin A are proven to cause Osteoporosis, and to block Vitamin D; and therefore block calcium absorption.
- Vitamin A in the form of retinoic acid is clinically proven to burn holes in tissue.
- Once you get into this state of elevated Vitamin A toxicity; it is nearly impossible to randomly stumble upon a diet to get you out of it.
- The inflammation on my brain resolved with my vitamin A elimination diet.
- My personal cognitive experience with my vitamin A elimination diet.
- Recent findings on retinal degeneration in AD means this is not just a brain disease.
- People with Alzheimer’s commonly report having Eczema too.
I am duplicating that Canadian Alzheimer’s Mortality chart here just for easy reference.
I have no doubt whatsoever that this data is reflecting the closure of the Atlantic Cod fishery in 1993. Also, this data is for mortality rates and I think that the data for age adjusted incidence rates would be even more telling. Clearly the rate changes in NL, PEI, and NB are huge; like almost a 50% decline. Too huge to dismiss as being random, or an anomaly. This represents the entire Atlantic Region of Canada. This is a ~5 million person population with huge decreased rates. This decline is not at all the same in western Canada.
Look at the amazing change in PEI over this time. It has gone from one of the highest rates in Canada to the same rate as BC, and Alberta. I think these Atlantic region numbers would tell a even more amazing story if I had the data going back to 1996, and through to 2014.
Once again here is the chart showing just the Atlantic provinces and with the Nova Scotia Crohn’s Incidence Rates included. Click on the chart to get a better view.
Clearly, something dramatic has changed in Atlantic Canada to cause this steep decline in disease rates. What bigger environmental change has taken place in the Atlantic region in this period of time other than the closure of the Atlantic Cod fishery in 1993? Of course all of that Atlantic cod fish catch was not consumed in the Atlantic Provinces. Some of it was exported across Canada, the USA, Germany and elsewhere. However, enough of it was being consumed in Atlantic Canada to now show up in this data. But, once again, it is not the fish to blame; it is the vitamin A in the fish.
The somewhat anomalous rate change in Nova Scotia as compared to the other Atlantic Provinces might be explainable based on people being diagnosed in the region moving to Halifax to get better access to health services, or long term care facilities. But, that explanation is pure speculation on my part; I have no idea.
Nevertheless, the decline in the Nova Scotia Alzheimer’s rate are pretty significant too. It would be fantastic to see the incidence rates of other big autoimmune diseases in Atlantic Canada being included on these charts. Please help if you can.
Additionally, I think this data from Atlantic Canada makes it perfectly clear that Alzheimer’s is an environmentally (specifically food) caused disease. Therefore, I think that the current research into linking this with genetics, and the various brain banks from victims are almost pointless.
I think that Alzheimer’s is actually going to be a much more subtle and lower level of saturation than what causes Eczema or Crohn’s. It is a subtle chronic little poisoning persisting over decades and decades; with devastating effects.
Is there really a vitamin A to Alzheimer’s causal association here? What we do know is that when we increased vitamin A consumption (via accutane) Crohn’s rates went significantly up. When we decreased vitamin A consumption (via cod) Crohn’s rates went significantly down. We also know that the full set of symptoms of IBD / Crohn’s is a near perfect match with those of vitamin A toxicity. Therefore, based upon the remarkable correlation between the declining trend lines for these two diseases in this one geographic region; in a multimillion person population, a causal relationship is a very strong probability.
Now, having the very important firsthand experience in having the inflammation on my brain vanish after elimination of this substance from my diet; I can move this probability even higher.
I still would not make the call if it were not for a very important, and another amazing connection here. Sadly, this information has been literally staring doctors in the face for many decades now. It is on the faces of people suffering from this disease. It is also on their hands. It is called Eczema. Once again, it is one of those incidental things commonly reported with Alzheimer’s, and Autism too. It is probably considered to be of no immediate clinical significance, not related, and just an annoyance.
If you read the Alzheimer’s caregiver forums, you will see lots of comments about people struggling to treat Eczema. I read one comment about a man caring for his ailing wife, and he could no longer afford all the band aids he was using on her hands. Now, why does a person with a brain disease need band aids on the hands?
I inquired about this Eczema connection with a prominent Alzheimer’s researcher. He simply stated that the observed skin lesions are not related. But, he cannot validly make that claim without first knowing the real root cause of Alzheimer’s. I read another doctor’s rationalization about this observation of the skin problems seen in Alzheimer’s patients. He claimed that it is likely due to these patients not eating properly, and not getting enough nutrition. But, this too is completely not true. Most of these people are well cared for. And there are many incidences in people with early onset; who are still working, and looking after themselves. These people are eating just fine. Nevertheless, to test his hypothesis a bit, I looked at more than a thousand pictures online of anorexic people. Now, these people are indeed starving themselves, and clearly not getting enough nutrition. I could not find a single photo, not one, of an anorexic person showing signs of eczema or psoriasis. Oddly, in nearly all photos the skin looks perfectly clear (other than the skeleton poking through). No eczema, no psoriasis.
Two photos of people had what looked like acne; but they also looked extremely ill. And, no I am not at all recommending people use this as a form of treatment!
A man named John
Here is a video of a 49 year old man from Columbia, with Alzheimer’s. Before playing the video; please look at this first frame very carefully.
There are more close ups of the man’s face and fingernails in the first 60 seconds of the video . Look very closely. What do you see? I see the thickened, and reddish brown skin on the sides of his forehead. I see the mottled fingernails. Does this look familiar? There are a lot of people with eczema who will not only recognize this condition; they will know exactly how it feels too.
Now, I think we can make a pretty good guess as to why the outer 1/3 of the eyebrows go missing in Hashimoto’s disease. Yes, yet another autoimmune disease, this one attacks the thyroid. It has an odd, and incidental skin issue showing up on the face. Weird huh? The immune system is attacking the thyroid, yet burns off the eyebrows too? Does this not seem incredibly strange that the immune system, after millions and millions of years of evolution, would waste its energy and resources like this?
Autism and eczema
There is also a big connection here between eczema and Autism. There are exactly the same type of comments in the Autism support forums. You have all these mothers discussing and sharing tips on how to care for their Autistic kid’s Eczema. Eczema goes hand in hand with Autism. And so does gut inflammation. Why is that?
It is because the root cause of these diseases is indeed hugely related. It is the sub-clinical saturation, and the elevated non-liver storage of retinol and / or retinoic acid. So, based upon that; and my own personal experience, and combined with this data; I am going to say; that there is an incredibly good chance of a causal association here. No, it is not conclusive, but some empirical evidence, that’s almost trivial to obtain, can solidify it.
Of course we should understand the mechanism of how elevated levels of this potential toxin is getting into, or affecting, the brain. My theory is that the process is nearly identical to what is happening with the fats in the sebaceous glands of the skin and GI tract. The excess retinoic acid is a fat soluble molecule. Therefore, it is going to be wrapped in a lipid. The brain is highly dependent upon lipids. Now we have lipids circulating in the blood that are effectively little toxic Trojan Horses. They contain the retinol or retinoic acid molecule. Just like with the skin, the fat is consumed, unwrapping and exposing the toxic molecule. Once exposed, this toxin is going to cause inflammation and destroy tissue, and possibly the build up of proteins.
Also, this same inflammatory process is going to happen anywhere in the body where these toxic lipids are consumed.
Regardless if this is even close to the correct mechanism or not, it does not really matter in the short term. There are lots of times in science we can make use of information we don’t fully understand. For example, I am sure that there are lots of effective drugs in use where their exact mechanism is not fully understood. What is critical at this point is that we actually do something with this information.
There is another personal observation that I want to share. Around 2006 I had almost completely stopped dreaming at nights. I might of had dreams 2 or 3 times in a year. So, that is about 9 years of almost never dreaming at nights. I assumed this was due to drinking too much coffee; or just something that happens with aging.
Four weeks after being on my vitamin A elimination diet; I started to dream every night. That is every single night in about four months now. My coffee intake has remained the same. Of course it was not just dreaming that changed. As stated above, my thinking clarity significantly improved too with my vitamin A elimination diet. Okay, so that is subtle inflammation / pressure on my brain resolved, thinking clarity back to normal, and resumed dreaming at nights.
Do you think this toxin was having an adverse affect on my brain?
With everything I’ve documented here regarding Alzheimer’s; now these two world maps should be very interesting.
I’ve changed the default color coding in Alzheimer’s/Dementia map from red to yellow; just to make the visual correlation easier. Yellow regions in the upper WHO-VAD map are getting lots of vitamin A; and yellow regions in the second map are getting high rates of the Alzheimer’s/Dementia.
The source of the Alzheimer’s Mortality map is: http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/cause-of-death/alzheimers-dementia/by-country/
Naturally, we all know that correlation does not mean causation. But it does, nevertheless, add supporting evidence to this theory. At the very least, there should be zero doubt in anyone’s mind that Alzheimer’s/Dementia are environmentally induced.
A Thought Experiment
Let’s look at this logically, and go through a bit of a thought experiment together. Please point out where I am making mistakes in logic, or where I am making erroneous, or unreasonable extrapolations.
Okay, let’s start:
Epidemic rates of these diseases in the Industrialized world means they are not genetic.
People immigrating from non-industrialized countries; adopt the same rates of disease here; at least by their second generations. This means it is environmental; that should be perfectly, 100% clear. Therefore, it is probably one or more toxins in food and /or water we all consume.
The exponential rate of increase of Alzheimer’s disease in the USA.
There is something else critically important to be observed from the Alzheimer’s charts shown above. That is the age of onset is moving to the left on the timeline. Alzheimer’s in people less than 50 years of age was almost unheard of just a few generations ago. Now, in Canada, we have something like 50,000 people with early onset. Alarming as that new early onset may sound; that is not what I am pointing out. This shift to the left on the timeline tells more. This is clearly telling us that not only is Alzheimer’s an environmentally induced disease; but one that is related to exposure time! The more exposure, the younger the onset is possible. This means there is really nothing preventing this disease from happening to people in their 40’s, or 30’s etc. The same applies to the autoimmune diseases.
Big regional differences in these disease rates means the toxin is not being uniformly consumed. There is zero chance that this is not environmentally caused.
The dramatic increase in these disease rates started in around the 1970s. Therefore, more of the toxin(s) started to be introduced and/or consumed in the 70s and 80s.
These are not modern day diseases; though the epidemic rates are. Therefore, it is not a modern day toxin(s).
There is clearly a time delay (usually in decades) between consumption, and disease onset. Therefore; it is not a toxin at low doses. The body therefore must be able to deal with a certain amount of this toxin; yet it probably accumulates. Therefore, additionally and oddly, the accumulated amount is not toxic.
The autoimmune diseases affect children and adults; therefore, they are not diseases that result from aging. However, for most adults, once acquired the diseases are chronic (usually remainder of life). Therefore, there is a tipping point or threshold to the level of toxin(s) the body can deal with.
These diseases are very widespread in the industrialized world; there is no geographic region in North America that is immune from these diseases. Therefore this toxin(s) must be very widespread, and very common in the food and/or water we all consume. This is also supported by the fact that very few adults spontaneously fully cure from the disease; meaning that almost no one randomly stops consuming this toxin(s).
The incidence rates are higher in North America along the Atlantic Coast. Therefore, there must be more of this toxin consumed in this region. Other countries, such as the Scandinavian countries, with high rates of saltwater fish consumption have high rates for these diseases too. Therefore, this toxin could likely be found in fish. The two most unanimously cited other trigger foods are milk, and tomatoes. Therefore, this toxin should be found in these two foods too.
Women get these diseases more than men, therefore, they are either consuming more of this toxin, or have a lower threshold for reaching a tipping point.
What is the Immune System telling us?
Nearly everyone in the medical community tells us; and 10’s of millions of people know first hand, that these are triggered autoimmune diseases. Let’s set-aside the apparent oxymoron for now, and note that the most commonly cited triggers are food.
Next; we need to know what functions the immune system provides us. It protects us from viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and toxins. We know with a high degree of certainty that autoimmune diseases are not caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites. So, that leaves us with toxins, or the medically accepted view that immune system has somehow become defective. But, the flare-up nature of these diseases clearly indicates that it is not a permanently defective immune system. It is almost randomly defective. Additionally, it is most actively defective when we eat trigger foods, and / or in the winter months. So, it is highly likely that the immune system is actually responding to a toxin; or somehow the defective immune system now knows how to tell the weather.
There are something like 10 million kids with eczema in North America. Although most cases are mild; it is indeed this same autoimmune disease. Is not this in itself very strange? Why do so many kids have an autoimmune disease?
But, magically, most kids “grow out of it”. So, they have a defective immune system for a while, and then it self corrects? Or, more logically, their bodies are able to adapt to, or outpace the consumption of the toxin. But, we know that they are probably not adapting, because for a quite a few of these kids their eczema returns in their 20s, or later in life.
So, I think that the immune system is telling us that we are still looking for a toxin, and most likely one found in food, and weirdly one that is more active, or consumed more, in the winter. Even more strangely, one that only kids routinely grow out of.
The autoimmune diseases such as Crohn’s, Colitis, Lupus, Arthritis, and Eczema all involve the skin either as a secondary or primary symptom. Therefore, this toxin must be documented to affect the skin in the exact same manner.
The combined documented symptoms for these diseases is something like:
- Abdominal pain, cramping
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diminished appetite and weight loss
- Chronic Fatigue
- Skin lesions, peeling, nodules
- Swollen lips with fissures
- Eye inflammation, blurred vision
- Joint inflammation and pain
- Muscle stiffness
- Mouth Ulcers
- Bone pain
- Osteoporosis; spontaneous bone fractures
- Mental Dullness, confusion
- Light Sensitivity
- Liver issues
- Kidney issues
Therefore, the toxin(s) we are looking for should be documented to produce all of these very same symptoms and it must be very widely consumed. That is one hell of a list to match.
Yet, amazingly, there is such a toxin, and it is in nearly all of our foods. It is Vitamin A. It is also essential, and harmless at low doses. It also has a threshold, or tipping point when it becomes toxic. The normal function of the human body is to store and accumulate this substance. It is also high in certain fish. It is also added to all low fat milk, dairy, and margarine, and this policy started in the 1970s. More importantly, the fish oil craze started around the mid 1990s. Consumption of fish oils is exponential in growth in North America.
Why have we done this? Have we now become like Finland in our consumption of fish oils? Is this really good for us? How much of this Omega 3 is from fish or krill oil? Has its vitamin A content been removed prior to packaging? I don’t know.
Health experts commonly tell people that oily fish have more health benefits than white fish. However, their recommendations have never been compellingly proven scientifically in large population studies.
The FDA limits the maximum amount of Vitamin A in multivitamins to 1000 IU??. This is to lower the risk of people accumulating too much of it. Could all this Omega 3 oil be another highly concentrated source of vitamin A that has snuck under the FDA’s vitamin A radar so to speak?
Countries with low vitamin A consumption, or have a vitamin A deficiency, have incredibly low rates of these diseases compared to North America.
If I am right about this; and nothing changes, then we as a society are in very big trouble. The doubling rates we now see for these autoimmune diseases are nothing yet. The doubling rates are not going to be linear.
The body’s absorption rate for retinol is going to follow an exponential decline curve; since it is going to be proportional to remaining storage.
Mathematically speaking; it is therefore going to be exponential, and not linear growth rates in these diseases. The vitamin A consumption rates are zooming too. Therefore, we are headed for a national disaster. It is going to be far more than doubling of rates over the next 10-20 years. It is more likely going to be 4x, and then 8x, etc. every 10, or 20 years.
What are we waiting for? We now have something like 30 or 60 million people with an autoimmune disease in North America. In 20 years, this will cripple our economy; in addition to the horrible pain and suffering. We have to solve this.
As I’ve stated above, this is also not just about Crohn’s and Eczema. I think it is about Alzheimer’s, and quite likely Lupus, Arthritis, Rosacea and probably Psoriasis too. I hope we can add Fatty Liver disease, and some forms of Kidney disease to this list too.
If the evidence I’ve presented here, and what is in the referenced studies is not enough to convince people that this is at least possible. No problem.
It is almost trivial to prove, or disprove, all of this. We just need a few people with Eczema, and Crohn’s to adopt a zero vitamin A diet for 4 weeks; as a starting point. I believe the same is going to apply to Dementia / Alzheimer’s sufferers too.
The results will be stunningly clear to them. More immediately, people with these diseases just need to reevaluate themselves in the context of the wider list of symptoms documented for vitamin A toxicity. I think they will see the connection.
Of course, I’ve gone past this just being a theory. I think I’ve proven it on myself, with my vitamin A elimination food experiment. But, it’s still early. There is no way to prove a negative; so I cannot guarantee I won’t regress again.
Therefore, I don’t want to give people false hope. I am just one person with one result. Even though the result is very positive, and very compelling; I am not 100% cured either. I am not even going to think about calling myself cured until I am completely symptom free for at least a year; or maybe two years; and my skin no longer glows under my fluoroscope.
This is complicated. It is going to take much, much longer than 4 weeks to fully detox the skin and other organs of this toxin. I have no idea how long it will take; or if it is even truly possible at all to get back into a normal state. The only scientific documentation I can find regarding this elevated adipose tissue condition simply states vaguely: “it is going to take a long time”. However, there are some documented cases of chronic vitamin A toxicity where it had taken something like 7-8 months to fully recover.
Just for the record; I’ve been on a near zero vitamin A diet for nearly four months. I am still alive, and doing quite well. I’ve not used one speck of steroid cream, or any other drug, in that time. Of course, I am now back to consuming plant based foods with small amounts of vitamin A. You can’t be on zero vitamin A consumption for an extended period of time. I think three or four months should be the outer limit.
Therefore, do your own research too. Dig through the reports I’ve cited; and all the other material you can find. See the pictures in my personal account of my food experiment; and recovery from Eczema. Read about the light sensitivity, and fluorescence of retinol and carotenoids. Read about the carotenoids being used in food coloring; and understand that beta carotene is just a double ended retinol molecule. Research the surging growth of tomato production in India and China, and the diet changes in Chile etc. etc, etc. Let the evidence speak for itself.
My only advice is to get the heck off all even slightly high sources of vitamin A; at least until we get to the bottom of this. You might want to stay out of bright sunlight too.
My vitamin A elimination diet
Throughout this document I’ve referred to my vitamin A elimination diet. This was really just started as a very long-shot type of experiment, with the only goal of maybe reducing my eczema condition. Have you ever heard of a person adopting a vitamin A elimination diet? Or a person with an autoimmune disease adopting such a diet? I’ve documented this diet, and my experiment with it, over on my eczema posting. The short version is shown below.
My vitamin A elimination diet:
- White or Brown Rice ( not yellow or golden! )
- Egg Whites
- Beef ( steak, roast, no sauces, or spices other than salt and black pepper if wanted)
- Olive Oil ( 2 teaspoons per day )
- Black Coffee if wanted ( no milk, no cream, no whiteners )
- Vitamin C supplements ( recommended )
- Cashews ( 5-10 per day, recommended)
NOTHING COOKED WITH BUTTER or COCONUT OIL. No sauces, no ketchup etc!
This is 3 meals a day, 7 days per week. Eat as much as you need to; but more is not better.
That’s it! Absolutely nothing else! No fish, fish oil, no fruits or vegetables. No cod liver oil, no omega 3/6 etc. from fish sources. No multivitamins, No coconut oil. NOTHING, Absolutely NOTHING else!. Not a single bite, not a speck, not a crumb of anything else. Yes, this is extreme. Admittedly maybe too extreme. However, until we get to the bottom of it; take no chances. If someone knows of a more sensible, and safe means of detoxing off this; I am all ears. Just to be clear, the maximum extent of my medical knowledge is putting on band aids. So, please apply your own good judgment to this.
But, here’s the kicker in all of this. Let’s just say for argument sake that I am completely, and totally wrong about this theory of subclinical toxicity of retinol buildup. Let’s say it is something else that I’ve removed from my diet; like sugar, or gluten. Let’s say that Vitamin A has nothing whatsoever to do with this. Flippantly, I might say who cares what it is?
What I do know with 100% certainty, that by adopting this diet I eliminated chronic fatigue and inflammation on my brain. I eliminated brain fog. Does anyone think that sustained inflammation on the brain is a good thing? We are not talking about resolving a case of foot fungus here.
I eliminated the inflammation on my brain in 3 weeks with a diet change. It is a completely harmless, and simple diet change that anyone should feel comfortable trying for say at least 4 – 8 weeks.
I hope that once we tip over one of these “autoimmune” diseases, the others will fall over like dominoes. Please help push the first one over. This can be done almost completely by the people suffering from these diseases; at least for the critical first stage, of just proving; or refuting this. It is a diet change we are talking about here. No drugs or medications are needed.
Please read my eczema, and other posts on this incredibly important topic. Please add more information, and evidence, pro or con of course, to this. Naturally, I am totally open to discussing this with anyone.
Thanks for reading. I hope this helps someone else.
Nell Rose said:
Hiya, fascinating read. I will have to come back to read all of it, but i got the idea of the Vitamin A. I do remember reading somewhere that too much is overall dangerous so yes it makes sense! Interesting stuff, nell
Thanks for reading. I hope it helps.
Hi Grant: I read your book (almost in one go as I could not stop reading) and you offer a most compelling argument against Vitamin A. I am convinced and going to start the diet in 2 weeks time. I was doing some searching and found a list of foods which do not contain vitamin A from (a very unreliable source) but wonder if they can be included in the diet in your opinion. As follows:
Mushrooms contain no vitamin A and are rich in vitamins D and C.
Onions are high in folate and vitamin C, but contain no vitamin A. This is perfect for pregnant women who need extra folate during pregnancy.
Potatoes are rich in potassium and the B vitamins and contain no vitamin A.
Brazil nuts contain no vitamin A and are rich in vitamin E.
Cashews are high in vitamin K and folate and contain no vitamin A.
And how about black tea? No more questions but will report on my experiences with your diet.
Thanking you in advance
Thanks for reading all of that. I think it is great news that you are willing to give this a go.
Regarding your questions:
Mushrooms: I considered mushrooms, but was unsure about having a sound intestinal barrier. On one hand, the fungus might help to bring down the local store of vitamin A; yet on the other hand, for me, I was not sure if they would have an adverse effect. So, short answer, I don’t know.
Onions: Sounds great; I did very occasionally include onions in my diet.
Potatoes: Yes, probably a great alternative to rice.
Brazil nuts: Yes, but, I’d be careful about getting too much Vitamin E too.
Cashews: I’d say absolutely no cashews because they could be potentially contaminated with urushiol (the poison ivy molecule). I don’t know what the likelihood is, but I’d not take any chances.
Black tea: great too. But no peppermint teas, as peppermint is quite high in VA too.
Also, I did very occasionally eat some broccoli, and pineapple, and almonds.
Thanks again, and no worries about the questions.
Hi Grant: I started the diet Jan 17th and so far all is well although I may be overdoing the salt. Must watch salt! I am being pestered to eat something else by my mate ( she wants me to eat ginger at least) and looking around tonight I found this list of foods “supposedly” with NO vitamin A. We are all used to bad info on the net and I thought at first they were using daily a value ZERO but it does not appear so. I wonder if you would comment?
I have given up my glass of wine with dinner, of course, and feel far better in the mornings on the diet.
Thanks for this reference list of VA free and high foods.
Please understand that what I’ve documented for my diet is what I did ( and mostly continue to do). Of course there are some possible additional foods, such as ginger if you like. Please do what you think is best. However, there is no question that any foods that contain gluten, and other emulsifiers (such as carrageenan, et al ) are definitely off the list. Therefore, this rules out the vast majority of baked goods, gravies, and sauces. There are other little surprises to watch of for in spices too. For example, freeze-dried Chives at 68,300 IU, and Parsley at 63,240 IU / 100g.
I appreciate your mate’s good intentions. But, beware, my wife had good intentions too when she had me take the fish oil supplements (10 years ago now). Well, it very nearly killed me.
Hi Grant: Thank you for the answer to my Japan question. Your thoughts make sense. My partner is Japanese and she said that these days Japanese prefer fatty fish and export the local warm water fish to China and Europe, often canned and frozen so the net result is that their consumption of fat fish is zooming by choice. Many Japanese are now big bread eaters and love thick slices of white toast. However, I think that Japanese consume about less than half of the calories we in the west do. Everyone wants to be skinny so the accumulation of A has to be diminished and thus a reprieve of sorts.
In the West, teenagers in their growth stage consume vast quantities of milk and cereal and other foods laced with A so their opportunity for toxic load in the liver is much heightened. Not so with the Japanese kids although they consume a lot of junk food when they do eat but they are conscious of the calories. Emaciated is cool in Japan.
MacDonalds has closed 250 stores in Japan recently.
I believe there is a very big connection here with bread consumption and vitamin A in the regular diet. The gluten, and some emulsifiers, in bread are going to function as a carrier to vastly increase the uptake of vitamin A from other food, and probably pick it up from the intestinal storage too.
2009 Dr Mercola changes his recommendation on Vitamin A supplementation based on new research
“One of the most important pieces of new information that influenced my thinking on this issue was two recent meta-analyses. The first one showed that people who took vitamin A in the form of cod liver oil or other supplements, had a 16 percent increase in dying .”
Robert says: 16% is substantial and likely much higher.
Thanks for this information Robert. Yes, 16% is just the tip of the iceberg.
Hi Grant: I gave up the diet after two weeks. It was great in a way. I got so bored with eating that I started to lose weight after starting to prefer not to eat. I have no health problems but i believe you are on to something of great value. I noticed improvements in my thinking and communication skills after the first week. Slept better and awoke feeling more rested. I gave up because I could not control the salt I was putting on the boring food choices or lack there of. My left foot started to swell and I just decided to stop. I know that if it had not been for the salt issue I would have continued.
I look forward to hearing of others who have tried you A detox. For me I am avoiding dairy and all of the other danger foods. I gave up bread 1 year ago. I threw away my fish oil at that time too.
Thanks for this update and the insightful feedback. I really appreciate it.
I totally concur that this diet is extreme and if you are not struggling with trying to solve a real problem, it does not make sense to go with such a minimal, and bland list of foods. However, I think avoiding high vitamin A content foods is prudent.
Your comments about salt are important. Generally, I am not a big salt user, so I did not encounter problems. Therefore, I think your observations will help others who might try this.
Hi Grant: I am acquainted with a gentleman who had bad psoriasis and I was telling him all about Vitamin A. He told me that a funny thing happened when he went for a swim in Lake Huron. The day after his paddle his psoriasis was completely gone. The condition did return and I am not sure when, but he told me he went to Lake Huron and brought back a large water bottle of Huron water to see what would happen. He had no positive results.
He has had positive results with a phytoplankton powder from New Brunswick (farmed on land)
and a German cream GEHWOL
His psoriasis is well controlled. I was very interested in the swim in Lake Huron (too cold and frozen at the moment)
The phytoplankton website alludes to positive results for eczema sufferers.
I thought I would pass this on although I realize that it is not a cure for systemic skin conditions (resulting from internal inflammation).
I also have a Vietnamese friend who has lived in Canada and suffered with Crones for years. When she visits Vietnam for a holiday her Crones disappears within 36 hours. Nobody can explain why. I have suggested water.
I find spontaneous remission fascinating.
Thanks for the comments, and links. I’ll check them out.
The comments about Vietnam are consistent with others I’ve come across.
Of course, Vietnam does not have fortified dairy, so that would be helpful.
Hi Grant: I was just reading a piece about macular degeneration and vitamins and minerals useful for preventing eyesight troubles and they mentioned ZINC as follows
“Studies have found that higher dietary intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin along with beneficial vitamin E is associated with a significantly decreased risk of cataract formation, plus improved vision in people who already have cataracts. According to the American Optometric Association, zinc deficiency has also been tied to cloudy vision and poor night vision since it helps bring vitamin A from the liver into the retina.”
If that is correct could it be that we if increase our zinc intake slightly we might deplete our toxic A load in out livers? I have been looking at detox methods and I suppose a general liver cleans would be helpful in many ways (I never thought I would be thinking about liver cleanses!) but if ZINC might “pull” A out of the liver that would be great.
I think I mentioned that after a month being on your suggested diet I found that my mental clarity improved greatly but now a month off the diet my mental functions have slowed down and are back to “normal” as in cloudy and unfocussed.
Firstly, thanks for the update on what is happening to you. I really, appreciate it. There are a few others who have now contacted me directly, and report very similar results to yours. So, there’s clearly a pattern here.
As for macular degeneration and also cataracts, I’ve uncovered what I consider to be strong evidence, and the root mechanism behind both of them. There is one molecule that has its fingerprints all over this mess. Once you understand the underlying mechanism, cloudy vision is completely explained. Moreover, I think poor night vision is being caused by the long term exposure to too much A, not a deficiency of it.
My advice, in addition to avoiding elevated A, is to definitely avoid bright sunlight, and to always wear UV blocking sunglasses when outdoors.
As for detoxing the liver, I have no idea what so ever about that, but I am of course curious. With regards to ZINC, all I can say is that it is an important factor. It is reported that most women with celiac’s are also zinc deficient. It is also reported that Zinc combined with Taurine, and vitamin E helps protect cells from the toxicity of vitamin A. But, to be clear, Taurine does not deplete the A, it only helps to degrade the retinoic acid produced by cells after the cells convert A to RA. Clearly, that’s hugely beneficial, but it is not an antidote either. You’d want to be very careful about not getting too much E too.
Hi Grant: I made a comment on healthextremeist about your book after reading some letters from people suffering vitamin A toxicity. I get updated on new comments and this one just came in and thought it might interest you
There is a new comment on the post “How I Overdosed on a Vitamin and got Vitamin A Toxicity”.
Best, quickest, antidote for Vit A toxicity / excess, is taking large dose Vit D. I had high levels of Vit A 98mcg/dL. The high level persisted for long time, even after stopping A. At same time, my vit D level was so low, I was categorized as “severely deficient in Vit D”, by all doctors I visited.
Only when I started using D caps, 50,000 IU/ daily for 8 days, that my level of A started to normalize.
A antagonizes D, and vice versa. This info you won’t find published anywhere on the web. I just experimented on self, and find couple of sources mentioning relationship between A and D. But no one from major medical sources like Mayo or Merck will say this: if u have excess A, take D, and it will lower it. They will just say the usual: stop the A, and in few weeks time, you will recover. That ain’t true! U need high dose D. But only for very short time.
All best of health folks, and thanks for wonderful reading.
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James Lindbloom said:
The knowledge that over-intake of Vitamin A may be causing your health problems is easy to accept, but the path of a “Vitamin A Elimination Diet” not so easy to do, but worthwhile in any case. I started 10 days ago and it has been a little difficult to do short term, and a real education. Almost everything has Vitamin A pumped into it. Blistx lip balm, hair oils, shampoos, hand lotions, all milk products, breads, canned goods …. just look at chili or frozen chicken pot pies. It’s everywhere. If you put a drop of gasoline on your arm the same place every day for 40 years do you think there might be a problem with that area of your body at the conclusion of 40 years?. So doesn’t it stand to reason that taking more Vitamin A than you need each day might also cause a problem? Anyway …. for the last couple of years eczema has entered my life driving me to total distraction. After 6 months I changed dermatologists and he prescribed photo therapy. After about 2 months I thought my life might go back to normal and stopped treatments. Then … 3 1/2 months later they (tiny itchy blisters) began creeping back and I thought, this is more serious and this is going to take my life away from me if I don’t get a handle on it. Fortunately I came across this great logical site by ggenereux2014. Anyway, to jump start my recovery this time I had a Kenalog shot, started a “slightly modified Vitamin A Elimination diet”, and re-initiated photo therapy. After the 3rd visit to the “light box” I knew I was on the road to recovery. The challenge now is to read EVERY label and eat for health, not taste. Although I have nothing against roast and steak, or turkey breasts or lobster, it’s just that I’m used to eating almost everything that is on the market. But read the labels. Google it! Like “How much Vitamin A is in a tomato”. If you guessed 1025 IU you would be correct. If you Google up beef roast you would get 0. How about 1 cup of spinach? 2,813IU !!!! Since my daily need is probably only about 3,000 IU, and my liver is already saturated with Vitamin A (and most likely my skin) any additional intake will probably be excess that my body stores in little pockets … in my skin. Additionally. Let’s say I want to do a chicken pot pie in the microwave for my evening meal. If you read the label it says “45% of RDA. Add a glass a milk … 14% of RDA. We are really pumping it in now! So I am at the beginning of taking my life back thanks to ggenereux2014. I will update as I progress but I wanted to share that photo therapy might be really good for short term relief …. but I believe for long term it will be to change my eating habits.
The type of experimentation that would be needed would be not just a trial of the Vitamin A Elimination Diet, but a trial period with said diet plus the addition of a Vitamin A supplement to see whether there is a return or exacerbation of symptoms. The big issue I am seeing with this theory is that we have a confounding variable of animal product consumption, especially dairy products. We could easily come to the conclusion that the Vitamin A Elimination Diet worked because it eliminated dairy products and it is actually a protein such as casein or other component of dairy that causes the autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. But this Vitamin A theory is fascinating, regardless.
Thanks for the comments.
Yes, I’ve conducted the follow-up experiment of adding just vitamin A (from pills) back into the diet. The results were quick, brutal, painful, and rather conclusive. Your comments regarding casein are interesting.
Shauna Boren said:
Thank you for the reply! That you could take supplemental Vitamin A and aggravate your symptoms is an excellent piece of evidence supporting this theory. Do you happen to remember whether it was beta-carotene or preformed Vitamin A, and if the latter, whether it was in an oil suspension or was dry? I have been poring over the Vitamin A literature and a few study authors have suggested that there may be a rare genetic intolerance to Vitamin A where some people react negatively with hypervitaminosis symptoms to ingestion of small amounts of Vitamin A or carotenes. I was thinking that might be a possibility in your case, but I also haven’t seen any evidence to back up that suggestion, and nobody has found “the gene” if one does exist. I have LOTS of thoughts about all of this Vitamin A stuff and I’m pretty excited at the prospect of this theory being valid. I’m on Day 3 of a lower Vitamin A diet (as getting to zero or near zero is not possible at present), I’m switching my 13-month-old baby from formula to cow’s milk, and I’m sourcing non-fortified breakfast cereals and milk for my kids, and am finding that most cereal and both dairy and non-dairy “milks” are fortified, but our health food stores seem to have a few that are not. I’m in the US, in Colorado.
Presumably if you still react to single servings of moderately Vitamin A-rich foods after such a long period of avoidance, that means you still have high levels of Vitamin A in your body whether it’s in liver, plasma, skin, or other tissues. Knowing that the body uses Vitamin A for normal processes every day, why do you suppose it’s taking such a long time for your stores to deplete?
I fucking love you
Deborah Daniel said:
My husband and I did read the whole thing! Who couldn’t?? This is shocking, fascinating and scary all at once! You are a very good writer and researcher and we are looking forward to starting your books. Thank you for all of your hard work to bring these things to light. We learned a lot and have amended our thinking and supplement routine.
We can’t speak highly enough of you, thank you enough and now we will set about sharing this info with as many as we can. We have firmly believed for awhile that “they” are trying to make us sick for profit and kill us early for population control. You are too generous in ever giving the benefit of the doubt. They do know.
Michael S. said:
Interesting read and very compelling. When I was in Afghanistan I started a diet in the book called The 6 Week Cure to the Middle Aged Middle. It worked pretty well and I felt much better and had much more energy on the diet although I was working out which helps. Anyway, on weeks 3 and 4 you totally omit diary products. It also uses a protein shake mix (3x a day in week 1). One of the main focuses of the program is detoxing the liver and losing visceral fat. Looking back on it, just the week 1 stuff would have dramatically lowered my vitamin A intake which would have done nothing but help me based on your work. I should say the diet recommends 5k iu of vitamin A, so it’s not perfect and I didn’t do that. I fell off the wagon back here in the states, so much so, I’m looking at trying to get back to that. Also of note (which has helped) my wife and I take 10K iu of vitamin D. She never could grow nails before, but now she can. Lastly, I was always pretty healthy as a kid, but I almost never drank milk. I understand your drastic approach and also those who need flavor. Cutting the vitamin A some is better than none, so I say if you need the sauces go for it, as you’re probably still much better off than on your old food plan.
Thanks for the comments.
Susan Christiansen said:
I stumbled upon the link to your e-book “Poisoning for Profit” yesterday and subsequently the link to your blog. I spent most of the day, well into the night, reading your book and articles. To say I am fascinated is an understatement…more blown away by your detective work. Finding out what I thought to be healthy is unhealthy has become the norm. I am one of those “food conscious over healthy over exercising over age 60 over weight unable to lose frustrated souls who continually searches for answers and I am astounded by what you have exposed here because 20 years ago I reverted to more of a traditional diet that I grew up on via the Weston A Price foundation and Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions Book. I know realize looking back that my weight problems started when I started eating “healthy”, or what I thought was healthy. I too poisoned my husband with fish oil and believe it was causing his gout. He was much more faithful at taking the CLO than I was. I just couldn’t choke it down…it made me nauseous. I grew up on a small farm where we raised most all of our own food and consumed high fat milk from 2 Guernsey cows we milked by hand. My Dad was a mathematics teacher and he provided for his 10 children by supplementing his teacher’s income with raising most all of our own food and he had the labor force of his 6 boys and 4 girls to help him. The good thing was most all of our food was home grown and did not contain added vitamin A supplement. When I resumed dairy in my early 40’s, I did not consume a lot of milk, only like 8 oz a day but added 2 raw eggs to it with honey and vanilla to make an eggnog smoothies. I only consumed raw milk from organic farms and that was my rule…if it wasn’t raw and organic I would not consume commercial produced milk. I did however eat yogurt frequently, most every day, sometimes I made it but usually I bought it commercial prepared, organic and grassfed if possible. To make my long story short I have battled with my weight for the past 20 years since going back to a traditional dairy based diet! Of course when you think you are doing the right thing it never occurs to you that right thing may be the very WRONG thing you are doing. I grew up on dairy and even though I began to question the “why” of drinking another mammals milk and I did attempt a vegan diet about 4 years ago for 3 months increasing all those bright colored fruits and vegetables. I have been on a mission, like you, to solve my own healthy issues and compared to most people I read about in the comments, I don’t have much to complain about. But almost 2 years ago my head started ringing/buzzing. Not ringing in my ears…my hearing is very acute, too acute in fact as my husband attests to but a “noise” in my head. At the same time I have had a dramatic change in my memory, acquired a “woosy” feeling in my brain, vertigo on a couple occasions where the room was spinning and I was too dizzy to stand up, inability to comprehend etc.etc. whereas before I could read and retain information quite well. I also noticed I began to make lots of errors when writing comments or posts!! I am searching for how to get rid of this buzzing in my brain because I am fearful of where it may lead. My energy plummeted at the same time and I am not my normal energized self who can easily bike 35 miles trails! So I am intrigued by what you have to say here because I was going down the road of thyroid problems and possible using a suggested ADK supplement and so glad I didn’t! A long time ago I had read about a study on A supplementation that was stopped because so many were dying! So I knew not to supplement it and I stirred clear of refined processed foods that are supplemented with A. We also stopped the fish oil many years ago and thankfully did not supplement it all that long but noticed my husband’s gout disappeared when he stopped consuming it!! I also abandoned eating oily fish about 5 years ago after studying the articles by Ray Peat, who does not advocate consuming PUFA fats, both the 3s and 6s. What I want to mention to you, besides, thanking you for this enlightening work, is the death’s of 2 prominent men involved in the Weston A. Price organization who were consuming large doses of fermented cold liver oil. Both are authors of books advocating the fat soluble vitamins for health. Ron Schmid was a naturopathic doctor from Connecticut who advocating drinking milk and had a small farm with dairy cows. He wrote a couple books “The Untold Story of Milk” and “Traditional Foods Are Your Best Medicine”. Ron died of heart disease last July, although he did live 5 years past the death sentence he was given when it was discovered. He was told he had 6 months to live. He studied what could have possibly caused his heart disease and began to zero in on the fermented cod liver oil. He was also an avid runner, which is now known can scare the heart tissue as well. The other man died in his 30’s from cancer and was also mega dosing fermented CLO, which is promoted by the WAPF. His name is Ramie Niguel. I will post links to some articles about their deaths as I think you will find it interesting that these men who were eating what they thought was a healing nutrient dense diet were actually, quite likely, poisoning themselves with Vitamin A toxicity! Many think it is the rancid fragile omega 3s that did the damage and most likely they were part of the equation. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and work. The world is enlightened by people seeking the truth like you. I now tend to look at the profit being made by information and judge whether I should believe it accordingly. Ray Peat is another who does unfunded research and there are some commonalities between your and his dietary recommendations. I will follow this post with the links to the articles on the 2 gentlemen I mentioned above. Thank you for your work!
Susan Christiansen said:
Please excuse my typos in my first comment!! In my haste I did not proof which I have learned I must do since my head noise first began! Here are some links on the 2 gentlemen I spoke about who were both consuming daily doses of fermented cod liver oil.
Many eye opening articles at http://www.raypeat.com
I think the deaths of these two men who were consuming what they thought to be healthy nutrient dense foods and CLO, substantiate what you have discovered, except I don’t think VA toxicity is mentioned as the culprit. I will have to review the articles again as it has been some time since I read them but as I recall what they fingered as the culprit was the rancidity of the fermented CLO. I am going to continue to explore your articles and e-books. One of the recommendations for hypothyroid suffers is to eliminate dairy and eggs. I began to realize I had an aversion to eating eggs even though I purchase the most expensive pasture raised eggs or get them from a small local organic farm. I do wonder now after reading your blog and e-book if my aversion is my body telling me not to consume foods high in VA!! I also wonder if the hypothyroid diets that eliminate the most common allergen foods…like dairy and eggs, are improving symptoms because they are lowering the consumption of VA. The hypothyroid diets are another piece of the puzzle that appears to tie in with a low VA diet being beneficial but the proponents of HT diets are attributing the improvements to resolving leaky gut (by also eliminating gluten) and healing the liver. It all has me intrigued!
Thanks for sharing your story, and the info on the possible connection between CLO and what’s happened to these people. I’d really appreciate it if you could post any updates on your expreiences going forward.
Susan Christiansen said:
Thank you for your response Grant! I am going to experiment on myself in the next few months and eliminate the high containing VA animal foods like eggs and dairy so I will let you know the results. I have yo-yo dieted the past 20 years which I know now is detrimental to one’s metabolism so I avoid cutting calories now.
One thing I noticed however is when I reduced fats on a body building diet, I consistently lost 1-2 pounds a week even though I increased my meal frequency and calories! It was hard for me to eat the amount of food it was recommended I eat to build muscle when I cut fat consumption down to 20% of my diet. Still sounds like a lot of fat, but it isn’t. Fat calories really add up in a diet, especially from animal food sources. Now I am wondering if because I cut fat I was also cutting VA consumption and that was what helped me lose fat pounds! No matter how hard I work at losing pounds, eventually I always go back to the prior weight!
I haven’t completed all your articles or e-books, so you may answer these 2 questions as I read further. There are 2 things that have occurred to me. First, do you think the problem may be in the heating of the fat and the nutrients it contains? Perhaps the heating alters the VA making it toxic and making it difficult for the body to store and eliminate it? I know you talked about in “Poisoning for Profit”, the diet used in the test animals studies that contained lard and casein were heated a number of times. They say heart attacks were pretty much unheard of prior to the 1900s (perhaps they weren’t detecting them?) and I am wondering if that correlated with the pasteurization of milk which began in the late 1800s and the heating of the VA it contained.
I am also curious if it is the synthetic version of VA that is added to foods that may be part of the problem. Other than the year or two we took cod liver oil (but not the fermented type) I have been fairly careful about not consuming refined processed foods and those with added A and D, like commercial milk, OJ, etc. So I feel fortunate not to have consumed much of the synthetic form, at least I don’t think I have, but there may be commercial products I don’t realized has it added. Also, we seldom eat at a restaurant and almost never consume any fast food. Having said that, I have eaten a lot of dairy, eggs and meat in my lifetime and other than raw milk, the cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, sour cream, etc. has been commercial organic and all those products are made from heated pasteurized milk.
I appreciate any of your thoughts on heating vitamin A vs. VA from unheated foods like raw dairy and also synthetic VA being perhaps more problematic in our bodies!
RE: Heating of retinoids – yes, I think the heating of retinoids is potentially causing the conversion to retinoic acid, and especially so when in an environment that contains alcohol, or even in the presence of methanol from fruits etc.
RE: The synthetic manmade vitamin-A palmitates.
These are probably the worst of the worst forms of the food supplemented retinoids. These are so incredible bad because they have taken what was normally a fat-soluble molecule and turned into a water-soluble molecule. Then consider that back in 1970 there were less than 1000 people in all of the USA with kidney failure, and today we have over 661,000 with complete kidney failure; so that’s a 600-fold increase? And on top of that there’s now a staggering 30,000,0000 Americans with kidney disease.
Quite mysteriously, right at about the same time that vitamin-A palmitate was legislated into the nation’s milk supply, the Medicare program in the USA was quietly expanded to cover dialysis for nearly all Americans too (regardless of age). Why?
I’ve read some vague excuses, “oh, it’s because dialysis treatment is really expensive”. But, so is cancer treatment, Alzheimer’s, IBD treatment etc. Apparently, it looks like the real reason is not even part of the historical legislative record. Rather, it needs to be gleaned from legislator’s questionable recollections. Here’s a pretty comprehensive report about it.
So, what it looks like to me, is that for undocumented reasons that they were expecting a rapid increase in kidney disease, and kidney failure.
Given my silly way of thinking about things; it’s like, let’s see, we take what is a well-known toxin, and a toxin that the body has been dealing with as a fat-soluble molecule for our entire evolution, and we bind it up with palmitic acid to now convert it into a water-soluble molecule. In doing so, it will circulate real nicely to the kidneys, and it will bind with hemoglobin too. Thus, the kidneys are now attempting to deal with a toxin that they are completely unprepared for. Just brilliant, what could possibly go wrong with that?
Of course, there would have been prior testing on animals with vitamin-A palmitate before they abruptly legislated into the Nation’s milk supply. I have no doubt that the animal testing revealed a higher rate of kidney disease, and kidney failure. The expansion of the Medicare program is just part of the expanded cover-up. I think it’s massive Institutionalized corruption.
Susan Christiansen said:
I came across this information you may find interesting when reading more about the Weston A Price Foundation fermented cod liver oil controversy! Testing revealed the FCLO was much lower in vitamin D than the company (Blue Ice) stated it was and also did not contain D3, but a “mystery” type of D. So the two men who were affiliated with the organization who passed away (coincidentally within a week of each other last July) were taking 2-3 tablespoons (you heard that right) daily were getting massive doses of VA in comparison to vitamin D. It seems apparent that they would have suffered from VA toxicity, as well as the damage from consuming rancid PUFA fats!!
“A to D ratio
The problem with assuming that fermented cod liver oil is chock-full of vitamin D, is that it is also chock-full of vitamin A, which can easily become toxic in the wrong ratio. To keep vitamin A in check, it needs to be combined with vitamin D3 at a ratio of approximately 10:1 (ten times more vitamin A than vitamin D3). According to the Covance lab test of fermented cod liver oil, the ratio of A:D is approximately 53:1 which is much higher than the 5:1 ratio for fermented cod liver oil stated on the foundation website (and much higher than the 10:1 ratio that is expected in cod liver oil).
The foundation states, “It is important to AVOID cod liver oil that contains low levels of vitamin D in relationship to vitamin A. The ratio of D to A should be AT LEAST 1 to 10.” The foundation recommends that the ratio of A to D should not be greater than 10:1 (for every one unit of vitamin D there should be no more than 10 units of vitamin A). (source)”
Susan Christiansen said:
Fascinating information Grant! I appreciate your reply. It makes me even more leery about consuming any commercially processed food. No one really knows what is hidden in it and what it can do to our bodies, but anymore our entire food supply and environment is so contaminated, nothing is safe anymore.
We can only do the best we can to find unadulterated food, and to be the safest that means taking back control of our food supply by growing or producing our own, and/or supporting local farmers that we trust. I always felt the commercialization of our food supply would be the end of us.
I continue to be intrigued by your research and discoveries and hope that I may find some answers pertaining to my health as a result.
Susan Christiansen said:
Correction in my comment regarding fermented cod liver oil, the company was Green Pastures, not Blue Ice.
Sleeping Tiger said:
I have not read through this whole post and then skimmed some comments. Grant, I saw you mention about milk in Vietnam not being fortified. Does that mean that if milk is not fortified it could be added to the ‘safe’ list do you think?
Non-fortified milk, that with no vitamin-A palmitate would be much safer. But, still, No, absolutely no way can milk be added to the ‘safe’ list. Please read about casein in my second ebook.
Sleeping Tiger said: