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Thiamine Deficiency Disease, Dysautonomia and High Calorie Malnutrition

By: , Posted on: September 27, 2017

thiamine deficiency disease

Thiamine Deficiency Disease, Dysautonomia and High Calorie Malnutrition is about thiamine and its deficiency as the cause of beriberi, a disease that has existed for thousands of years. Evidence is provided that the inordinate consumption of sugar in modern America, referred to as high calorie malnutrition, can be compared to the consumption of polished rice, a dietary staple for centuries in Eastern countries. It was the discovery of an “anti-beriberi factor” in the rice polishings that led to the discovery and synthesis of thiamine. The addition of vitamins, including thiamine, by the food industry, has led to the mistaken belief that beriberi and other vitamin deficiency diseases have been conquered. The earliest evidence of thiamine deficiency is polysymptomatic because of its effect on the autonomic nervous system. Standard laboratory studies are either negative or nonspecific and the symptoms are almost always attributed to psychosomatic disease. However, it is hypothesized that failure to recognize the underlying cause of the symptoms and continuation of high calorie malnutrition leads to the formation of a variety of neurodegenerative diseases. It has long been known that the hypothalamic, autonomic, endocrine axis, enabling us to adapt to stress, is highly susceptible to thiamine deficiency.

Hans Selye studied the effects of stress in animal experiments and formulated the concept that the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) represented resistance to any form of applied stress. He recognized that it was “some form of energy” that enabled the resistance to occur and its failure that led to collapse. One of his students was able to reproduce the GAS by rendering his experimental animals thiamine deficient. Selye referred to human disease as “diseases of adaptation”. The evidence provided in the book generally supports Selye’s work by focusing on the vitally important place of thiamine in energy metabolism. It suggests that a new medical model is necessary and that it is no longer sufficient to treat symptoms without recognizing their underlying cause.

Experimental thiamine deficiency in healthy humans

A study of pure thiamine deficiency (as distinct from the nutritional aspects of beriberi) was performed in 19435. We shall refer to this in some detail since it has great relevance to modern nutritional deficiencies. Severe thiamine deprivation resulted in depressed mental states, generalized weakness, giddiness, back-ache, soreness of muscles, insomnia, anorexia, nausea, vomiting, weight loss, poor muscular tone, low blood pressure, and bradycardia with the subjects at rest. On exertion, heart palpitations and precordial distress (pseudoangina) occurred. Tachycardia and sinus arrhythmia were observed.

The investigators reported electrocardiographic changes and impairment of gastrointestinal motility. Moderate, prolonged restriction of thiamine, but not of calories, resulted in emotional instability, reflected by irritability, moodiness, quarrelsome behavior, lack of cooperation, vague fears and agitation, mental depression, variable restriction of activity, and numerous somatic complaints, symptoms that are common in America today. The effects on one subject, a 48 year old woman, were described in detail. After 120 days of this deprivation, blood pressure was between 90 and 98 and the diastolic between 50 and 60 mm/Hg. Heart rate was 50-60 bpm and there was marked sinus arrhythmia. Pallor and giddiness were observed when standing from the sitting position, and rising from a squatting position could be accomplished only with assistance.

The patellar tendon reflexes were hypoactive but could be increased through reinforcement, and the Achilles tendon reflex was absent. The comments of the authors included the statement that symptoms were suggestive of dysfunction of the central and peripheral nervous pathways preceded by months of gross signs of neurologic dysfunction. The results are instructive, illustrating how commonplace are the early symptoms of thiamine deficiency.

It would seem to be important to point out that the “moderate, prolonged restriction of thiamine, but not of calories, resulted in emotional instability”. This might suggest that high calorie malnutrition may have a relationship with some of the unexplained hostile behavior encountered almost daily.

Access chapter 5, Thiamine-Deficient Dysautonomias: Case Insights and Clinical Clues to read more.

This book suggests that the present medical model may be becoming rapidly out of date. It would seem to be particularly valuable to those physicians who are presently forging an approach to what has become known as “Alternative, Complementary, or Integrative Medicine”. As Louis Pasteur confessed on his deathbed “I was wrong: it is the defenses of the body that matter”. It is no longer acceptable merely to kill the attacking microorganism or cancer cell. The only way to assist body defenses is by the skilled use of nutritional elements. If this is a new paradigm, further research is mandatory.

About the Authors:

This book represents the lifework of the senior author, Dr. Derrick Lonsdale and a recent collaboration with his co-author Dr. Chandler Marrs.

Dr. Derrick Lonsdale was educated in England, graduated from London University with the degree MB BS. After National Service in the RAF as a medical officer, he became a family physician under the National Health Service. Tiring of bureaucratic interference, he immigrated to Canada by joining the RCA F as a medical officer for a short service commission. On completion he was accepted in 1960 as a pediatric resident at Cleveland Clinic. On completion he was invited to join the pediatric staff in 1962. For six years Dr. Lonsdale was a pediatric oncologist, but switched his interest to studying the clinical and biochemical aspects of inborn errors of metabolism. Dr. Lonsdale’s clinical research reported here was performed between 1962 and 1982 at Cleveland Clinic and between 1982 and 2013, when he retired from a private practice specializing in nutrient therapy.

Dr. Chandler Marrs received a BA in philosophy and then spent many years in the tech industry, before returning to academia for an MS in clinical psychology and an MA and PhD in experimental psychology with an emphasis on neuroendocrinology. Her research career reflects a relentless pursuit of the root mechanism and pathways that initiate disease, unbridled by conventional barriers. As a graduate student, she founded and directed the UNLV Maternal Health Lab to conduct clinical and Internet-based research on maternal health and mental health. Recognizing the lack of women’s health and hormone research, Dr. Marrs founded Lucine Health Sciences, a health research and media company that publishes the online journal Hormones Matter and conducts post-market direct-to-patient medication safety and efficacy studies.

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