Healthy Beginnings

Free Radicals Are Harming You… This is Not Fake News!

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What is invisible, painless, possibly debilitating and shortens the lifespan of every one of your cells? What silently contributes to brain fog, chronic fatigue, joint pains, and even depression? What occurs naturally in your body every day, and if it builds up can lead to the symptoms mentioned above? If you guessed oxidative stress (OS), then you guessed right. If you’ve never heard of oxidative stress and want to know what it is and how to combat it, then keep reading.

Oxidation is a normal chemical process that occurs continuously in all of your cells and can lead to free radical formation. Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. This imbalance of electrons allows free radicals to react with other molecules, sometimes in favor of homeostasis while fighting infections or cancer, but sometimes causing damage to intracellular organelles, fatty tissues, DNA, and proteins in your body. To combat free radicals, antioxidants (made internally or obtained from food, supplements or intravenous (IV) administration) neutralize free radicals by donating electrons to the free radicals, all the while remaining stable themselves.

Oxidative stress (OS) is an imbalance of free radical activity and antioxidant activity. When OS becomes persistent or severe, over time, it can lead to a battery of chronic diseases that include; diabetes, atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, inflammatory diseases, auto-immune diseases, high blood pressure, neurodegenerative diseases, premature aging, and even cancer. Fortunately, there are ways to combat OS.

The Merriam-Webster definition of antioxidant is “a substance (such as beta-carotene or vitamin C) that inhibits oxidation or reactions promoted by oxygen, peroxides, or free radicals.” As mentioned above, antioxidants come from a variety of foods and supplements and their mechanism of actions can vary widely. For example, some antioxidants from food may react directly with oxidized molecules in the cell; others may protect cells by binding and neutralizing oxidizing minerals in the blood. And still, others are formed when a transcription factor tells your genes to activate and increase the production antioxidants.

One such supplement that activates the transcription factor Nrf2 is called Protandim. Protandim is a natural herbal supplement that contains ashwagandha, turmeric, bacopa, milk thistle, and green tea extract and helps your body activate Nrf2. Nrf2 has been proven to activate the genes responsible for improved cellular longevity and the increased production of glutathione, superoxide dismutase, and catalase, all of which are potent antioxidants. Glutathione, being the master antioxidant in the body, is increased up to 400 percent when Protandim activates Nrf2. Protandim has been scientifically proven to decrease oxidative stress by 40 percent when taken for as little as 30 days.

Activating your body’s own mechanism to produce more glutathione is ideal, but if you aren’t taking Protandim, you can always get a glutathione infusion. Many integrative medicine providers offer intravenous fluids containing antioxidants or their precursors. It is not abnormal to see a complete and varied menu of iv drips containing glutathione, amino acids, alpha-Lipoic acid, N-acetylcysteine or vitamin C in an integrative doctor’s office. The Meyers cocktail, developed by Baltimore physician John Meyers, MD, has been used for more than 60 years and contains minerals, B vitamins and vitamin C in varying doses between 2.5-25 grams.oxidant-rich diet of fresh fruits and veggies and supplement with an appropriate antioxidant booster like Protandim. For those of you looking to ramp up therapy to decrease OS, stop by your local integrative medicine office and restore the balance of free radicals and antioxidants.


Robert Floyd, MD, is a board-certified family physician practicing integrative and functional medicine at Gerber Medical Clinic in Reno. Visit DrFloyd.org or call 775-826-1900 to learn more.


REFERENCES

  1. https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements herbs/vitamins/antioxidants
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/oxidative-stress#risk-factors
  3. Ather et al., Intravenous Micronutrient Therapy (Meyers 4. Cocktail) for Fibromyalgia: A Placebo-Controlled Pilot Study, J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Mar; 15(3):247-257
  4. Marik PE, Vitamin C for the treatment of sepsis: The scientific rationale; Pharmacol Ther. 2018 Sep; 189:63-70