Friday, 11 August 2017

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

We're all living in a yellow tartrazine, yellow tartrazine, yellow tartrazine

I know of someone that during his holidays tried to boost his vitamin intake for he was daily swimming on a 72 m2 pool. So in order to pump up his immune system and energise his body, he drove his rented Renault Captur to the nearest pharmacy and purchased some tablets. Said tablets of yellowish colour provided him the necessary daily intake of vitamins, enzymatic co-factors and folic acid.

A pill a day should have kept the doctor away, in principle, to say the least. However, what really happened was that after a couple of days he started feeling weird. His arms weren't strong as before, his hands trembled and he started to naturally freak out. 

He wasn't anxious, the football season hadn't started yet, his team was guaranteed a nice squad with a solid manager; his bank account wasn't negative! So anxiety or stress were immediately discarded.

Nothing was different in his life apart from the only variable that had been introduced to his daily routine, the vitamin complex. So he opened the product information leaflet and read through the composition. Vitamin B12, that is nice... Folic acid... that's also nice... Tartrazine, that isn't nice at all!! Could it be tartrazine the generator of these adverse events?, he asked himself. So in a simple yet intelligent approach he quit the tablets altogether and with no surprises the worst adverse reactions vanished in a couple of days. Probably the time necessary to washout tartrazine from his system, who knows?!

So after he reported the side effects he had experienced to the manufacturers of that product, and the company reported back with their personal views on the matter, he decided to share his experience with the outside world since most of the folks out there are completely oblivious to the fact that:

1) Tartrazine (E102) is a very common synthetic yellow pigment used in the food, fabrics and drugs industry;

2) Contrarily to what the manufacturer reported back, there are numerous cases of intolerance to Tartrazine and 'nefarious' reports on adverse reactions after Tartrazine intake.

Adverse reactions to tartrazine may involve a very large spectrum of signs,  such as migraine, hyperactivity, urticaria, angioedema (swelling beneath of the skin or mucosa), eczema (dermatitis), respiratory issues, gastrointestinal problems like irritable bowel, and like other food additives such as monosodium glutamates, may affect the central nervous system [1]. There are many anecdotal reports linking this additive to the triggering of epilepsy in children!!!!!! Like Loblay and Swain had already mentioned back in 1985 on a fantastic piece of article "adverse reactions to tartrazine is much broader than has been hitherto recognised".

The manufacturer responded by playing low profile with a genuine letter of concern. However, the available scientific data out there show that among the clinical spectrum of adverse reactions to tartrazine one can find hyperkinesis (muscle spasms; that in children are part of the hyperactivity and lack of concentration portfolio) [2]. 

There is a good scientific review report on Tartrazine performed by the Department of Health (Australian Government) readily available on the web [3]. In that same report one can read that absorption of this orally ingested substance in humans is less than 5%, and that the absorbed tartrazine is secreted in urine, vastly unaltered. In addition, this report states that the substance is largely metabolised in the intestine by the microflora and that some metabolites are also absorbed. They also report that this substance shows no evidence of:

- mutagenic potential, neither 

- carcinogenic effects, nor

- teratogenic effects.

Facing such conflicting views and supported by the increasing number of complaints on the ever so clear link between this synthetic dye/pigment and the people who consume it (especially children, because this dye is fairly used for colouring juices), I prefer to leave you with a link to the antidote and emergency treatment. This approach is suggested by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information and is available for free on their website [4]: 

Basic Treatment - For ingestion, rinse mouth and administer 5 mL/Kg up to 200 mL of water for dilution if the patient can swallow, has a strong gag reflex and does not drool.

Please bear in mind that some intoxication events need medical assistance and clinical supervision. Please, do not ignore it.

[1] Loblay, R. H, and Swain, A. R. (1985). "Adverse reactions to tartrazine". Food technology in Australia, 37(11), pp. 508-514. 

[2] Collins-Williams, C. (1985). "Clinical spectrum of adverse reactions to tartrazine". The Journal of Asthma, 22(3), pp. 139-143.

[3] Toxicity of Tartrazine, Australian Government, Department of Health, [], last visited on the 08-Aug-2017, last update on February 2014.

[4] Tartrazine, PubChem - Open Chemistry Database, [], last visited on the 8th of August 2017, last update unknown.

1st Post image kindly taken from Cartrite, []

2nd Post image kindly taken from Matrix Pharma Chem, [].

Monday, 7 August 2017

I have a question, or actually three... on bay leaf

Bay leaf and more bay leaf. A million questions...! 

It took me quite a while to find sometime to research on these matters. That, and the fact that I don't want to make this blog talk exclusively of bay leaf. There is loads of important toxicology issues to debate, inform and learn about; why focusing so much on bay leaf.

But the audience likes the topic, I like the audience, matching 2 and 2 together results in 3. Yes, today and only today 2+2 = 3 questions answered on bay leaf.

1) From an anonymous person who's asking us about the properties of bay leave for curing bunions. For those who aren't familiar with the term, a bunion is, according to the NHS website a 'bone deformity of the joint at the base of the big toe'. Considering that I'm no medical doctor and that any patient suffering with such ailment should definitely seek treatment with one, all I can say is that as a home-remedy I have not found scientific information on bay leaf curing bunions. Anecdotal reports??? Loads of them, they're all over the web and you can do with such information whatever you feel like. My personal advice is that for an issue that often derives from autoimmune complications, like rheumatoid arthritis, or emerges from genetic proneness traced back through one's family tree, a simple assessment is not the brightest approach. In addition, these websites base their results on bay leaf as drinking tea and oil as ointment, and on the anti-inflammatory properties of the plant itself. Bay leaves contain Eugenol that is a chemopreventive substance [1], meaning this chemical has the potential to inhibit/stop a certain disease process. In that sense, it might induce anti-inflammatory responses, like when one is afflicted with bunions. 

2) Lolo Gibbins, a reader of The Toxicologist Today, presented me with a very different question concerning the use of bay leaves to get rid of rats. I will not prolong this one request for long. Using specifically bay leaf as a pesticide against rats... or rodents... I never heard of. Not meaning it's impossible, but I never heard of. What I heard about is of a quite recent article by Chaudhary et al (2017) [2] that discusses the advances in the knowledge gained on the potential of Azadirachta indica (also known popularly as neem leaves  - post image) as a biopesticide. As you may know biopesticides also encompass rodenticides (a substance capable of killing rodents). It's worth reading. And if you are willing to pay me for the time invested, I can read  itand summarise it for you ;) 

3) And the last one comes from an unknown reader who have questioned me on if bay leaves combustion fumes are toxic for cats. My answer couldn't be blunter and humbler. I simply do not know and found no information whatsoever on the matter. Probably the best advice is indeed for the reader to revisit that post on the toxicology of burning bay leaf wood as a source of fuel that can be accessed HERE.

1) Hussain, A., Brahmbhatt, K., Priyani, A., Ahmed, M., Rizvi, T. A., Sharma, C. (2011). "Eugenol enhances the chemotherapeutic potential of gemcitabine and induces anticarcinogenic and anti-inflammatory activity in human cervical cancer cells". Cancer Biotherapy and Radiopharmaceuticals, 26(5), pp. 519-527.

[2] Chaudhary, S., Kanwar, R. K., Sehgal, A., Cahill, D. M., Barrow, C. J., Sehgal., R., Kanwar, J. R. (2017). "Progress on Azadirachta indica based biptesticies in replacing synthetic toxic pesticides". Frontiers in Plant Science, 8(610), pp. 1-13.

Post image kindly taken from Neem, Dr. Haushcka, [].

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The circadian rhythm-night sweats link in primary Sjogren's patients

It's a bit redundant to say that I am positively inclined to firmly believe that the circadian rhythm has a lot to do with night sweats in Sjogren's syndrome. Redundant because it's common knowledge that melatonin, ACTH, cortisol and the circadian rhythm are intrinsically related to basically the fundamentals of our well-being from a number of perspectives. If anything consider that proper sleep, quality sleep, represents wellness in all its capacity, for anyone (be it a sick or healthy individual, young or elder, etc etc etc).

Late, disturbed and irregular sleep impacts tremendously on fatigue, on nausea states, and on incidence of dizziness, all so unfortunately typical of Sjogren's. But what I have observed as the most typical result of an externally disturbed sleep pattern are the night sweats. As stated in this incredible article by Papagerakis et al (2014) the circadian system is a complex network that communicates and determines the functioning of peripheral organs and tissues. Do not forget the relevant link between primary Sjogren's and the adrenal glands [1] and the cascading unwellness that can emerge from their disturbance.

An affected circadian rhythm will result in an affected genetic expression that controls and maintains different human homeostatic patterns. Most importantly, as the author so well describes, an affected circadian rhythm will negatively impact and condition the functioning of the salivary glands, teeth development and other oral processes/structures [2]. Don't forget there is an adrenal glands - night sweats link taking place in menopause, so there is probably an exertion to the adrenal glands that is responsible for the night sweats in primary Sjogren's syndrome. I am inclined to believe that the cortex part of the adrenal glands, the part that is in fact responsible for the secretion of corticosteroids involved in (among numerous other things) the immune system's functioning, is the agent that we all need to lay our eyes on.

I recently found a website that teaches how to determine whether one is going through adrenal exhaustion, however, I am not a doctor, so all I can do is state that if you want to be positive of the quality of such test you definitely should seek advice from a HCP. The test is fairly simple to perform as the picture below describes:


That's it for now, I'll most definitely be posting soon on yet another recent discovery I made whilst reading a few articles on incidence of candidiasis in Sjogren's patients. This is a terrible issue for most of the patients as roughly Sjogren's patient's are affected with this problem up to four-fold in comparison to the controls. The article is a great read and I will try and bring in a summary for the blog's audience. That and a temporary relieve-treatment based on onions that can alleviate athlete's foot. You must not miss it.

[1] Mavragani, C. P., Schini, M., Kaltsas, G., Moutsopoulos, H. M. (2012). "Brief report: adrenal autoimmunity in primary Sjogren's syndrome". Arthiritis and Rheumatism, 64(12), pp. 4066-4071.

[2] Papagerakis, S., Zheg, L., Schnell, S., Sartor, M. A., Somers, E., Marder, W., McAlpin, B., Kim, D., McHugh, J., Papagerakis, P. (2014). "The circadian clock and the oral health and diseases". Journal of Dental Research, 93(1), pp. 27-35.

[3] Adrenal exhaustion, Lorna Vanderhaeghe Health Solutions - Women helping women, [], last visited on the 25-Jul-2017, last update unknown.

Image kindly taken from menopause and your disturbed sleep, MyMT, [].

Monday, 24 July 2017

Back from holidays with some active ageing tips and a bit more of Sjogren's

Hello everyone, I'm finally back from my short break in Portugal. The sun really improved my positiveness and loaded my batteries for a British Winter that never surprises me. It's always terribly cold!

During my absence I realised some people left a few comments and questions to previous posts. Mostly on the bay leaf one. I am really happy that my writing is getting to different parts of the globe and I promise I'll be responding to every single query. However, it might take some time 'til I get to everyone. My professional obligations, two children of very young age and some other personal projects represent a lot on my plate and I always want to deliver deluxe quality.

I will be posting more frequently, but shorter articles. How a big mouth like mine can do that? It's a personal challenge but I need to make it possible for the good of the blog and my own health!!!

Before I start jumping into researching for my answers for the different articles I have planned, let me propose you all two videos. The first one is an overview of the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation to celebrate yet another World Sjogren's Day (23rd of July 2017). Please watch the video to get to know the work of the incredible Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation Inc that have been helping raise awareness and the levels of quality of life of many patients and relatives of patients world wide. If you feel enticed and value their mission, please use this link to donate to this important cause. I have already done it to the extent of my current financial possibilities; humbly every pound, penny, buck counts.

Finally, it is my pleasure to introduce you to a real educational conversation on active ageing. The human kind is living longer, we are ageing differently in comparison to our ancestors, mostly due to our very sedentary lives and stressful rhythms. If you want to learn more about a fresh approach to become a healthier elder by ageing actively and proactively, please watch this video where my aunt (damn I'm sooooo proud!!!) takes you through the understanding of your options, and through conceptions that we very often neglect. The only minus is that the video is only available in Portuguese. WATCH IT HERE.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Did you know that...

It's time for a break. It has been a loooong time since I had a break. The body and mind demand a pause/still so I can reset the whole factory of thoughts. It's just like Lil Dicky puts it on that amazing music video "Pillow Talking feat. Brain" (in my opinion the most creative and intelligent music video for the last decade):

Who gettin money?
That's brain
Who make decisions?
That's brain
Who make the hits?
That's been brain
Who run the whole operation?
That be brain

My brain has been running the whole operation for quite some time and needs a break now. Some sun. Some laughter. By the end of July I'll bring you some juicy new posts and we'll take it from there. For now just please revisit some of the old posts, there's loads of nice stuff covered in the blog. In the meanwhile, let me also propose you some of the best reading I've been doing on some other clever blogs. Did you know that...

The World Health Organisation released a database on the progress made by the different countries in tackling antimicrobial resistance? Access this LINK and you will be mesmerised by what the most developed countries have NOT been doing!

Are you crazy about bacteria, their past, present, future and colour??? Then this BOOK is for you. If you have $319 to invest in knowledge!!!

Now, time for some holidays!

Sunday, 18 June 2017


My heart with the families of the more than 100 victims of one of the most horrifying tragedies in Portugal. This is unacceptable and must urge our politicians towards a solution; the same that has been postponed for years in a row, so to feed the corrupted leech that this 'business' has become for all of them over time.