Muscle Action, Trace Elements and Related Nutrients: The Myothermogram

Howard J In: Chazot G, Abdulla M, Arnaud P, eds. Current Trends in Trace Element Research: Proceedings of International Symposium on Trace Elements. Paris, 1987, Smith-Gordon, London, 1989, pp79-85 Introduction In the investigation of muscle problems it is relatively easy to measure the circulating levels of nutrients known to be involved in muscle function. Such data frequently fail to provide enough information about metabolic problems within the muscle. In diagnosis and in following the treatment of muscle-related problems a functional test is needed. In the subcellular events responsible for muscle contraction the biochemical energy utilized must equal the energy output of the system and this is essentially the external work done plus the heat energy produced. The external work can be limited so that a plot of the heat produced during contraction and relaxation should reflect the subcellular chemistry. The limiting factors are the difficulty of detecting very small temperature changes and the efficient way in which muscle heat is conducted away by the circulation. The use of sensitive temperature recording equipment in a clinical test of muscle action is described. Abnormalities of potential diagnostic significance are demonstrated in deficiencies of magnesium, calcium, iron (in children), manganese and folate. The test also detects reduced oxygenation or perfusion and abnormal results are seen in thyroid disorders. It will be shown that muscle damage can result from exercise during magnesium deficiency.

T.C. Chamberlin and ‘The Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses’: Its relevance to clinical medicine today

Stephen Davies J.Nutr. & Env. Med. 1997; 4: 233-235 This paper celebrates the centenary of the publication of a milestone paper written by geologist T. C. Chamberlin and highlights how the intellectual process of the method of multiple working hypotheses is a more effective and less problematic way of arriving at the truth of a given situation. This approach has as much relevance today as it did a hundred years ago. It is proposed that the current pharmacodox paradigm might, in fact, be an example of the less intellectually developed ‘method of the ruling theory’.

Effects of Oral Zinc Supplements on Serum, Hair and Sweat Zinc Levels in 7 Subjects

Davies S Sci.Tot.Env.1985;42:45-48 Preliminary evidence is presented on the basis of pre- and post- zinc supplementation zinc studies of seven patients, that suggests that sweat zinc measurements may be a useful adjunct in the clinical assessment of zinc status and may be a more sensitive index than either serum or hair zinc levels.

Magnesium and potassium deficiencies in women with pre-menstrual syndrome

Stewart A, Howard JMH Mag.Bull.1986;8:314-316 Magnesium deficiency has been described in women with Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS). Measurement of serum and red cell magnesium levels in 17 women with severe PMS confirms the previous finding of an intracellular deficiency of magnesium. Serum-Magnesium 0.748μ 0.05 mmol/L normal 0.6 μ 1.2 Red Cell-Magnesium 1.67μ 0.08 mmol/L normal 1.7 μ 2.6 Red Cell-Potassium 81.69μ 2.39 mmol/L, normal 80.5 μ 95.6 A total 14 women had depressed red cell magnesium levels (14 subnormal). In addition red cell potassium levels were also depressed. Deficiency of magnesium or magnesium and potassium may contribute to PMS. Measurement of these nutrients and correction of their deficiency may help to alleviate the symptoms of PMS.

Zinc Deficiency in Children with Dyslexia: Concentrations of Zinc and other Minerals in Sweat and Hair

Grant ECG, Howard JMH, Davies S, Chasty H, Hornsby B, Galbraith J Brit. Med. J. 1988;296:607-609 Developmental dyslexia is estimated to affect about 10% of 10 year olds. Studies of mineral concentrations in hair have found that children with impaired learning and those with behaviour disorders tend to have higher concentrations of toxic metals, especially copper, lead and cadmium. Although animal studies have shown that zinc is essential for brain development and function, controversy has arisen about the extent and severity of zinc deficiency in clinical practice because a simple, reliable and sensitive test is not yet in routine use. Sweat zinc concentrations are decreased in zinc deficient states. They may be a more useful guide to clinical zinc deficiency than either hair or serum concentrations. Therefore we compared concentrations of minerals in sweat and hair in children with dyslexia and a control group.

Mineral deficiencies and hyperactivity.

Howard J Presented at the Hyperactive Children’s Support Group Conference. Published by HACSG, Chichester, UK, 1987 Introduction A brief description of how I first became interested in this subject might help to set the scene. During the nineteen sixties I was involved in some investigations into a possible relationship between exposure to toxic metals and infertility. As part of this work post coital tests were performed. In some types of toxic element accumulation spermatozoa are unable to pass through the cervical mucus due to a problem which is very like that found when anti-sperm antibodies are present. About 50% of the women investigated already had children. During the routine history taking it seemed to me that a rather high proportion of these youngsters were being described as troublesome or problem children. I was unable to stimulate much interest in this observation among the other doctors and scientists involved with the project. I was, however, given the go ahead for an informal investigation. As a pilot scale study I chose six of the most troublesome of the children and, with the permission of their parents and their doctors, proceeded to look for possible increases in toxic metals such as lead and cadmium. As my major interest was in the essential elements such as zinc and magnesium I also measured these in the samples from the children. I was actually quite disappointed to find that only one of the children had a high lead and none of them had any other toxic element problems that I could detect. When I looked at the essential element levels a very different situation came to light.

Gut fermentation (or the ‘Auto­brewery’) Syndrome: A New Clinical Test with Initial Observations and Discussion of Clinical and Biochemical Implications.

Hunnisett A, Howard J, Davies S J. Nutr. Med. 1990;1:33-38 Summary This study demonstrates that alcohol production from oral carbohydrate ingestion is not a rarity but is remarkably common (61%) amongst patients who are chronically unwell. It also presents data to support the use of a new simple clinical test to diagnose gut fermentation that may be due to Candida albicans or other yeasts or bacteria, and thus identify patients who may benefit from a course of anti-yeast or anti-bacterial therapy. (This test does not differentiate between yeast and bacterial fermentation, neither does it exclude large bowel overgrowth of yeasts or “abnormal” bacteria). It is an easy test to perform both technically and clinically, requiring a minimum of laboratory hardware, and it presents to the patient only the discomfort of having two venepunctures (or one for children). It is a test well within the capability of any clinical laboratory and should prove useful in the identification of a cause of a diffuse clinical condition. Further studies should be carried out, including microbiological culture of gastric and duodenal aspirates in EtOH producers, clinical response to the appropriate anti-yeast or anti-bacterial intervention, and on the stress on dietary micronutrient supply that EtOH production causes.

Magnesium Deficiency in Peripheral Vascular Disease.

Howard JMH J. Nutr. Med. 1990;1:39-49 Background and Introduction Many studies have shown that magnesium deficiency is an important factor in the aetiology of cariovascular disease. In 1965, the relationship between myocardial infarction and low Mg levels was investigated in terms of platelet aggregation. In 1977, it was concluded that Mg plays an important role in cardiac homeostatis and that cardiac diseases are associated with Mg deficiency. Electrocardiographic changes characteristic of Mg deficiency were reported. The biochemical aspects were further investigated.

Serum, Leucocyte, Sweat and Hair Zinc Levels – a correlational Study

Howard JMH J. Nutr. Med. 1990;1:119-126 Conclusions Doctors investigating the zinc status of their patients must not rely on serum zinc levels which will only identify quite severe deficiencies. Low hair zinc levels do reflect deficiencies, but a normal or high level of zinc in the hair cannot exclude a deficiency due to the affect on hair growth rate. High hair zinc should alert one to the possibility of a zinc deficiency, but there are many shampoos and other cosmetic treatments that contain zinc. A high hair zinc may also reflect other causes of poor hair growth rate such as hypothyroidism or zinc or iron deficiency. Both sweat zinc and leucocyte zinc levels are good tests of zinc status, with sweat the sample of choice in this study. If the different populations of white cells are separated and analysed independently, my initial studies suggest that white cell zinc may be as good as sweat zinc in assessing zinc status. The collection of sweat samples and the harvesting of uncontaminated white cell fractions from blood samples are both time-consuming and difficult procedures. Deciding which of these techniques to use in a particular clinical laboratory may depend on which technique the staff are most conversant with. I would encourage those laboratories with the necessary analytical equipment to pursue the use of sweat zinc measurements. If they are also willing to measure leucocyte zinc, then the combination of the two techniques will provide a very high level of service for the assessment of zinc status. One advantage of the sweat test procedure is that it is non-invasive and hence very suitable for use with children or nervous patients. I hope that the comparison of results for hair, serum, leucocyte and sweat zinc levels will be helpful to those considering a diagnosis of zinc deficiency. Laboratories are under increasing pressure to assess zinc status, and this work may help those responsible for introducing the techniques to avoid some of the pitfalls when the wrong choice of sample is made. Finally, I wish to emphasise the danger of relying on the serum zinc levels as an indicator of zinc status.

A New Functional Test of Manganese Status

Hunnisett A, Howard J, Davies S J. Nutr. Med. 1990;1:209-215 There is limited clinical interest in the role of manganese in the pathogenesis and therapy of disease despite the fact that some research has shown it to be an important trace mineral. One of the reasons for this may be the difficulty in the accurate measurement of Mn concentration in biological fluids with the expertise and expense required. A functional test for Mn status is described based upon the activation of isocitrate dehydrogenase by Mn. The results obtained from this test are compared with more conventional indices of Mn status, i.e. serum and sweat concentrations. The possible limitations are discussed along with its advantages as a simple and inexpensive screening test.