SULFUR AND CELLULAR HEALTH Sulfur
RNA DNA METHYLATION: The Toxin/Disease/Aging Connection
by Lynn Hinderliter CN, LDN

In 1976,  before much attention was being paid to the various theories of aging and of “degenerative” diseases, a medical Doctor who was also a biochemist wrote a book called “Dr. Frank’s No-Aging Diet”.  His theory that damaged DNA was an important factor in health and aging may in turn have  owed something to research done by Dr. Max Odens in 1973.  This study (which was actually undertaken to test some theories about cancer) produced the startling result of not only improving the health of the lucky rats in it, but also of more than doubling their life span. (Odens, M. Prolongation of the life span in rats. J American Geriatrics Soc, 1973, XXI: 450-451.) Sulfur

Both these researchers were studying the effects of RNA DNA (Nucleic Acid) supplementation on health. Sulfur

Dr, Frank claimed many spectacular results for many health conditions with  his Nucleic Acid therapy, and recommended a diet high in the following foods: Sulfur

• Four days per week—one can of small sardines. Sulfur
• Fish on the other three days.
• Calves’ liver once a week Sulfur
• Lentils, peas, lima beans, or soybeans.
• Asparagus, radishes, onions, scallions, mushrooms, spinach, cauliflower, or celery.
• Seven glasses of fluid per day—4 of water, 2 milk, and 1 vegetable Sulfur

Vitamin Research Products Dr. Ward Dean has an excellent detailed piece on this subject here. http://www.vrp.com/newsletters/vitaminresearchnews/830217.html?c=1089893555630&k=/newsletters#2

Replacing RNA/DNA (Nucleic Acids) through  diet and supplementation is certainly one way to go, but preventing damage to nucleic acids and providing them with their necessary “building blocks” is also important. Sulfur

Those of us who have been in the health field for many years have suspected right from the beginning that there is a connection between the increasing number of toxins in our food and environment, and the escalation of disease. Sulfur

Over time, this suspicion has grown to certainty, but supporting research has been hard to come by. Most holistic research on the connection between diet and disease has focused on the role of nutritional factors in preventing disease: what happened in the body to bring about the disease state has generally been of lesser interest. Sulfur

However. there is  clear evidence that pathways in the body are affected by the overwhelming onslaught of toxins and that this contributes to  the breakdown of health. There is a  a wealth of scientific and biochemical evidence that is outside the scope of this piece, but there are two major pathways involved in eliminating  of toxins from the body : methylation and sulfation. Sulfur

The first important thing to know is that many nutrients function in the body as methyl donors, i.e. supporters of the production of methyl groups. Sulfur

Among these are SAM-e, Choline, Methionine, TMG,  DMG, MSM, folic acid, B6 and B12. The Standard American Diet is generally deficient in these, particularly the B vitamins which are found chiefly in unprocessed foods, fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are plentifully supplied with many factors such as phenols and cyanidins, which have beneficial and protective effects (absent pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and other possible -cides). Sulfur

Next, it is important to realize that the exchange of methyl groups is a method used by many molecules in the body to regulate their function. Sulfur

Methyl groups play a critical role in controlling genes involved in prenatal and postnatal development. (http://people.ccmr.cornell.edu/~ginsparg/Phys446-546/fa03/nyt07oct03epi.html) Sulfur

Research into DNA synthesis strongly suggests that the presence of sufficient methyl groups keeps genes inactive, while low levels can switch gene transcription on.A deficiency of  methyl groups may lower the threshold for carcinogenesis.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=6825170&dopt=Abstract) The presence of sufficient amounts of methyl groups is also key to controlling levels of homocysteine in the body, high levels of which are implicated in heart disease, as well as such neuro-degenerative problems as MS and Parkinson’s. This is because methyl groups are essential both for proper nerve transmission, and for the formation and maintenance of the myelin sheath that covers and protects nerve cells. Sulfur

Wikipedia describes DNA Methylation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA_methylation) Sulfur

The heavy metals cadmium, mercury and lead steal methyl groups from the body. Cadmium enters our systems from many unsuspected sources, such as plastic wrappers on our foods, olive oil bought in galvanized cans, ice trays and even cola drinks. Mercury is present in such diverse things as air conditioner filters, tattooing inks, lawn pesticides and fabric softeners. Lead is the best known culprit of these three for its presence in paint, but did you know it can also be found in some foil wrapped chocolates, some Italian wines, and cigarette smoke? Sulfur

Did you know that when toxic wastes are added to fertilizer, they become an unregulated “product”?(http://www.ewg.org/reports/factoryfarming/fertpress.html) Sulfur

If you think you are avoiding heavy metals, look at this information. and think again!!  I recommend a book called Fateful Harvest by Duff Wilson, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer prize.  It will make you aware of a problem we should all be working to overcome.  See RESOURCES at bottom. Sulfur

Heavy metals all react with oxygen, and this is the final event that closes the harmful circle. Sulfur

Antioxidants are the nutrients which quench free radicals in our body. Free radicals are the end result of almost anything involving oxygen, therefore heavy metals rob our bodies of antioxidants. Dr. Lester Packer, the guru of oxygen metabolism, compares a free radical to a hot potato: imagine yourself standing in a circle, passing a hot potato from hand to hand. As long as it keeps moving, nobody gets hurt. But when there is no one to pass it to, someone gets burned. Its the same with free radicals: the heavy metals and the oxygen molecules are moving an unpaired electron around, and if there is nowhere for it go, it will damage any membrane or cell it comes into contact with. As long as antioxidants such as C, E, Alpha Lipoic Acid and ultimately, Glutathione, are available for the rogue electron to be handed off to, the body is safe. These nutrients rely heavily on a good diet for adequate supply, and again, the Standard American Diet supplies only very inadequate amounts. Sulfur

Methylation is half of the equation, there is also Sulfation.

It is interesting to look back in history, and acknowledge the instinctive wisdom that led to the establishment of Spas in places that had waters high in sulfur, and also Dr. Hahnemann’s inspired realization that made sulfur one of the founding remedies of homeopathy: what he called one of the great “polycrests”, meaning a remedy that has a great number of health applications,  with particular application for skin problems.

These days, we do not have to rely on instinct to learn what various substances can do for us, and the role of sulfur is now comprehensively tracked: it is the sixth most abundant element in our body, with strong metabolic parallels to oxygen, yet arguably its most important job is to make many of the toxins we are exposed to water soluble, so that they can be excreted from the body.

In these highly polluted times, the demands this places on sulfur stores means that often sulfur compounds are less available for important metabolic functions. Among these,

  • sulfur is needed to assist the body’s use of thyroid hormones,
  • to excrete the water soluble metabolites of deconjugated hormones (estrogens circulate almost exclusively as sulfate esters, as does DHEA), and
  • to support gallbladder function: low sulfur is something one should always consider where gallbladder disease is present.

There is an interesting connection here: Sulfur
I have always made gallbladder sufferers aware of Dr. Jonathan Wright’s advise,
which is that in a high number of patients food allergies are at the root of the problem. Of his patients, 93% were allergic to eggs, 64% to pork, and 52% to onions. ( He lists 15 other food allergens as common culprits, to include milk, tomatoes, and medications. ) The connection lies in the fact that for the past 4 years or so, I have been following with interest the research into a food supplement called Methylsulfonylmethane – or MSM for short . It seems that it is extremely helpful in all allergic response to environmental allergies, with users reporting substantial to complete relief from such symptoms as respiratory congestion, itching and mucoid discharge. Even more significant is that it lessens intolerances to food and medications.One sheet I received (admittedly from a company promoting sales of MSM!) stated unequivocally that it ameliorates gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, constipation, nausea, hyperacidity and brings “dramatic relief”. These features underscore the allergy/gallbladder connection, and make sulfur something anyone with problems along these lines should consider. Sulfur

However, this is not all for the importance of sulfur.

A little understood health problem is disturbance of the acid/alkaline balance of the body, or its pH level. A little background may be in order. Water is considered neutral at a pH of 7. Anything under that is increasingly acid, anything over – increasingly alkaline. The human body is designed to operate at a pH of between 6.0 and 6.8.( I am not speaking of blood pH here, which is regulated strictly by the body, but of saliva and urinary pH).  Disturbances in this balance on the acid side of the ledger result in such problems as arthritis, migraines, insomnia, water retention, muscle cramps and parasitic infections.

Interestingly, people who are highly acidic tend to sigh frequently, have low blood pressure, burning in the mouth, sensitive gums and bumps on the tongue. ( This may provide a clue to your position on the scale, but an easy way to find out for sure is to purchase pH strips, and check your urine.) Sulfur

 When I add that adrenal exhaustion (often caused by stress) and a diet high in sugars, animal products and dairy foods are two of the major causes of acidity, you will realize that this is a widespread problem. Add to this that the cells of the body rigorously protect their pH level, and that this level regulates the exchange of nutrients within the cell as well as the unloading of toxins – you can see that maintaining proper pH levels is one of the key elements of homeostasis in the human body.  Sulfur

Sulfur is an important buffer, helping to maintain body pH at acceptable readings. Sulfur

Dr. Frank was very insistent in his book that nucleic acids need to be taken when the body’s pH is only slightly acid: his concern was a possible rise in uric acid, but remember also  that the cells function more efficiently -in other words, make more effective use of materials presented to them – when they are maintained in the correct pH range. Sulfur

See my article on pH balance for more information.

Sulfur is a key component of important amino acids (methionine and cysteine, important for detoxification of the blood, and taurine, which acts as a “dock” for sulfur), and of the antioxidant glutathione. It is also important for the construction of collagen, and therefore for joint support, and for healthy skin and hair. It is widely found in foods, but unfortunately is also highly susceptible to destruction by heat: the cabbage family, garlic & onions, meats, soybeans and eggs, fish and beans – all have rich supplies of sulfur – but who eats them raw?

Keeping tabs on one’s pH can help indicate whether sulfur levels are optimal, and as you can see, this is a very important aspect of cell maintenance

First, improve your diet – and on the principle of keeping your powder dry – it might not hurt to take MSM as a supplement, too.  I add a little of the powdered form to my morning power drink.

So there we have it:
a diet low in the nutrients necessary to provide high levels of antioxidants, sulfur and methyl groups
+
surroundings high in toxins that deplete those substances
= disease and rapid aging.

A simple and elegant equation with a solution we can take steps to apply in order to protect against the diseases that often come with aging, and also to possibly stave off the terminal event of our lives a little longer: Sulfur

  • eat better, because the right foods are the foundation of health,
  • take supplements where necessary to ensure optimal supplies,
  • become knowledgeable about common sources of toxins so that you can avoid them, Sulfur
  • protect yourself against toxins, and take the time to detoxify yourself regularly.

Long life to us all, and may we enjoy it to the very end.

Find the recommended supplements here

The full RNA/Gene Expression story explained (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_expression)

The Sulfur Solution – an article by Jack Challem http://www.thenutritionreporter.com/the_sulfur_solution.html

Stanley Jacob’s Definitive Guide to MSM, Arthritis and Allergies

(http://www.amazon.com/MSM-Definitive-Guide-Nutritional-Breakthrough/dp/1893910229/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1274212106&sr=8-1)

Bio-Toxin Disease Connection http://www.chronicneurotoxins.com/info/research.cfm

Chemicals, Jobs and Diseases (Haz-Map®) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/techbull/jf03/jf03_hazmap.html

Smoker’s wives, Chemicals, linkedhttp://www.stopgettingsick.com/Conditions/condition_template.cfm/2767/267/1

Books and pamphlets on the subject of Mercury Toxicity, http://www.hugnet.com/

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