Thursday, April 17, 2014

'Smart Drugs' Are Stupid

Smart drugs, or “nootropics,” are a topic I’ve stayed cleared of until now because, well, the idea of using them was stupid.  Not only is the research on those so-called smart drugs severely deficient and inadequate; but also the evidence on which people make their decision to use them or not derive largely from anecdotes found on Internet forums, which are fishy to me and notoriously unreliable. 

There are a few problems as to why the situation on the topic of smart drugs is in disarray.  The first is that a distinction between simple arousal and stimulation versus true learning is often sloppily made or passed over.  The second is that there is too much emphasis placed on manipulating neurotransmitters, namely choline, serotonin, histamine, dopamine, and norepinephrine.  And the third is that there is a tendency to deemphasize (or to gloss over altogether) the availability and metabolism of glucose, as well as the hormones that govern and interact with these processes, such as insulin, thyroid hormone, and cortisol.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Unsung Hero of Thyroid Replacement Therapy: ATP

ATP and thyroid are closely related in that the thyroid hormone is essential for the rapid turnover of ATP, both inside and outside of cells.  ATP, in turn, affects processes as diverse as pain, inflammation, blood clotting, bone formation, cognition, blood pressure, and insulin secretion – among many others.

Considering the intensive research currently underway to develop compounds with specificity for ATP receptors in various tissues, and the wide range of disorders these compounds could, when it is all said and done, treat, it is obvious that ATP, in particular its turnover, has a wide range of drug-like effects that are independent of its role in energy metabolism.  All of the conditions that have been linked with hypothyroidism – most comprehensively by Broda Barnes – can, in my estimation, be traced back to the impact of thyroid hormone on ATP. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Straight Talk on Fats, Metabolism, and Body Temperature

It’s popular to talk about certain foods that stimulate thermogenesis, or heat production, as a means to aid in weight loss – the most fashionable of which is probably coconut oil.   While that’s all good and desirable, the heat generated upon eating makes a relatively small contribution when compared to all the heat generated by all the reactions in the body, including the process of keeping the gut in a state of continuous readiness to digest and assimilate the next meal. 

All metabolic processes in the body generate heat.  In other words, metabolism is unavoidably heat-generating.  The minimum amount of heat generation is set by the resting metabolic rate,[*] which is, in turn, set by the thyroid hormone, among other ancillary factors.  The heat generated from eating – directly related to the energy costs of digesting, absorbing, and converting the myriad of components of food into their appropriate storage forms – adds to the heat generated by the resting metabolic rate.  As far as diet-related heat generation is concerned, of all the macronutrients, protein has the greatest effect.  Carbohydrate has a lesser effect than protein, and fat has a negligible effect.