Monday, October 29, 2018

Bio-Active Compounds and the Epigenetics of Osteoporosis

To better understand how bio-active compounds in food and certain supplements (such as the berberine, milk thistle, and taurine found in OsteoStim) work to improve health, we first need to understand the epigenetics of nutrigenomics (a fancy word for how nutrition affects our genetics).
Epigenetics: We know what genetics is about: a biological map of how we are put together and what makes us who we are...what makes us unique...but what about epigenetics? Epigenetics refers to external modifications to DNA (not actual changes to DNA sequencing) that turn genes "on" or "of". A good example of this is methylation. Methyl groups are molecules consisting of one carbon and 3
hydrogen atoms. When a methyl group is added to other molecules it is called methylation, and when a methyl group is taken away it is called demethylation. When adding or detaching methyl groups to molecules, it has the effect of 'turning on" or "turning off" a biochemical reaction. It's kind of like turning a light on or off with a switch. This is epigenetics at work. In epigenetics, the DNA sequence has not changed, only how that DNA is being read. The modifications caused by methylation (and other histone modifications) only affect how that genetic information is going to be used: for example how the DNA will or won't produce proteins.
When it comes to nutrigenomics and bone health, DNA methylation is extremely important. (Too much is not good and too little is not good...both can lead to osteoporosis and other chronic diseases.) "Methyl switches" (and other switch forms) work to control just about everything in the body, including how bone forms and how it is broken
down; how it is remodeled. We usually hear of methylation as it relates to cardiovascular and neurological disease, but methylation is also important for skeletal health.  
We know that when bone remodeling gets out of balance, it leads to osteoporosis. Bone cells (the osteoclasts and osteoblasts) must stay in harmony, balanced in their activity for bone to stay healthy. It is through cytokine-orchestrated genetic expression that this activity remains in sync. A person may have genes for strong bones, but the regulators of how those genes manifest are, for some reason or other, not turned on or off correctly and the bone strength is not realized. Epigenetics--how genes are expressed--becomes important when we talk about nutrition beyond the basic bone-building blocks of protein and minerals. Good nutrition encourages a person's genetic makeup to be expressed fully. It allows the epigenetics to engage and bring that person's genetic potential to its optimal expression. But poor nutrition may lead to an under-expression of the genetic code and result in physiological dysfunction and disease.   
DNA methylation also plays a major part in the immune system's response. It therefore is a major regulator of inflammation and that of the chronic systemic inflammation we see in accelerated bone loss.  
One of the reasons it is so important to eat lots of vegetables is because they are a great source of bio-active compounds that are methyl switches and have anti-inflammatory properties. This is also why we put several bone-specific bioactive compounds in our OsteoStim formula. Berberine, milk thistle (silymarin), and taurine are all active bio-compounds involved in either the promotion or reduction of methylation and the regulation of skeletal epigentics.    

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Berberine, a key ingredient in OsteoStim

Berberine is one of the key ingredients in OsteoStim. OsteoStim is our unique (there is nothing even close to it on the market) bone-health supplement that
promotes normal bone remodeling activity through bio-active compounds such as berberine. A strategic blend of antioxidants, vitamins, and medicinal herbs, OsteoStim aids skeletal health by calming osteoclastic bone resorption and boosting osteoblastic bone formation.  
Berberine is a traditional Chinese medicinal herb that is recognized around the world for its health-promoting benefits and treatment of disease. Not only does berberine lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, but it is extremely effective for dampening chronic systemic inflammation and reducing oxidative stress...two major reasons for osteoporosis and accelerated bone loss as we get older. In addition, berberine activates an enzyme, AMP activated protein kinase (AMPk), within cells. AMPk acts as a chemical sensor to help maintain energy mechanisms including the formation of mitochondria, the power generators within cells. It is through the stimulation of AMPk that berberine is able to reduce osteoclastic bone resorption when RANKL (a cell signaling molecule) is excessively elevated.
Some of you may be familiar with the medication, Prolia (denosumab), for osteoporosis. This drug is an antibody against RANKL (you can read more about RANKL in my book, The Whole-Body Approach to Osteoporosis). By blocking RANKL, Prolia dramatically lowers osteoclast cell activity and thus bone resorption. The end result is higher bone mineral density and less fracture risk, at least initially.  
One of the actions of berberine is similar to Prolia in that it reduces RANKL activity. But, unlike Prolia, berberine does not carry the high risk for serious allergic reactions or adverse side effects. The reasons:
1) Prolia can excessively reduce RANKL levels: RANKL is important not only for activating bone resorbing osteoclasts (some resorption of bone is necessary to keep the skeleton youthful and devoid of excessive microfracture accumuation) but also for a healthy immune response. Excessive lowering of RANKL can cause bone to become "old" and brittle from overly limiting osteoclastic activity. Excessive lowering of RANKL also compromises the immune response, and creates increased risk for infection and serious allergic reactions. Long term use of Prolia (over 3 years) can increase the risk for atypical femur fractures and osteonecrosis of the jaw.  
2)  The Prolia rebound effect: There is an increased risk of broken bones if Prolia therapy is discontinued. When the anti-resorptive effects of Prolia wear off, the body senses the absence of the RANKL antibodies and reacts by hyper-producing RANKL. This leads to accelerated osteoclastic activity and rapid bone loss.  
Berberine, on the other hand, does not excessively reduce RANKL levels. Berberine works to NATURALLY lower inflammation and oxidative stress which are promoters of excess RANKL production. By lowering RANKL to normal levels, berberine does not cause bone to get "old" or brittle.  And, with berberine, there is no accelerated bone loss if for any reason it is discontinued.  
Bio-active berberine is just one of the reasons that makes OsteoStim your number one choice for supplemental bone health. In addition to berberine, OsteoStim also contains therapeutic amounts of vitamins D3 and K2 (MK4 and MK7), biotin, alpha-lipoic acid, N-acetyl cysteine, taurine, Bioferrin 1000, MBP (milk basic protein), and silymarin (milk thistle).
Many of you have been asking, "What can I do in the short term until OsteoStim is available?" My suggestions are:
1) It is not harmful to take intermittent supplement "holidays". Going for a week or two without taking OsteoStim is perfectly fine as long as you are continuing to eat a healthy diet rich in vegetables and devoid in bone robbing food stuffs.
2) If, after two weeks or so, you want to supplement your diet with alpha-lipoic acid (200 mg/day) and berberine (250 mg/day) this will hold you over until OsteoStim is back on our shelves.   
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