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This may help listmates thinking about whether they want to do epsom salts


>Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2001 03:16:25 -0600

>To: GFCFKids


>Subject: What sulfate does...



>Perhaps I can be of some help in describing what sulfate does in the

>system since I have been doing research for many years now, combing

>through the medical literature to find out sulfate's biological role. I

>discovered that things in that field have been changing so rapidly, that

>there is not much possibility that your doctor has been able to keep

>up...I know the professors I had in graduate school have been shocked by

>what I've shown them in the last few years as I dragged in to them study

>after study that showed how involved sulfate was with processes they were

>studying while being unaware of its involvement.


>But let me begin by making sure you know what sulfate is: Sulfate is made

>up of a sulfur atom in the center, surrounded by four oxygen atoms. It is

>called an oxyanion, and it has a negative charge, which means it can be

>part of a salt which will form by linking to a positive ion like sodium or

>magnesium, but this will come apart in solution. Sulfate can also be

>joined to molecules in a stronger and more " permanent " bond.


>Sulfate has been known for years to provide a very potent way of

>detoxifing certain chemicals that we get from the food we eat, or the

>medicines we take, or the fumes we smell, or similar molecules we make in

>our own systems, most particularly, neurotransmitters. When this process

>is impaired by lack of sulfate, those substances become toxic to our cells.


>Sulfate also can act as an off or on signal for a lot of molecules, like

>hormones. But the digestive system particularly is quite regulated by

>sulfate, for the action of two of its most major hormones and

>neurotransmitters, gastrin and cholecytokinin, are either stronger with

>sulfate or totally dependent on sulfate (like cholecystokinin at its " A "

>receptor). Without these signals working well, you can't get proper

>service from your pancreas or your gall bladder, and your ability to

>utilize your food would be impaired. Cholecystokinin also has important

>functions in the brain.


>But sulfate's most important role is just now being discovered: and that

>is its role in regulating cell chemistry. Sulfate is attached in large

>quantity, as if it were leaves on a tree, on molecules which cover the

>cell surface, called proteoglycans. The trunk of these " trees " is

>protein, but the branches that hold sulfate are made of sugar, and those

>branches are called glycosaminoglycans, or GAGs, for short.


>Only in the last few years has it been realized that the

>thought-to-be-random distribution of sulfate on these sugar chains called

>GAGs is not random at all, but is highly regulated, determining what will

>happen with other molecules that approach the cell and are about to give

>the cell a signal.


>These GAGs also provide some kind of structural integrity to some types of

>tissue, among them being the walls of the gut and things like

>cartilage. When the GAGs in the gut become undersulfated, then that makes

>the gut leaky, providing the way for overly-large pieces of proteins from

>our food to escape into the blood stream where they can both induce

>allergic responses, and the opiate excess problem that you've probably

>heard about.


>But GAGs also provide structural integrity to all types of cells as they

>associate with neighboring cells, and also carry information (described in

>sulfate patterns) about the needs of other cells to the cells they

>encounter. These GAGs are important for helping escort molecules which

>are trying to signal the cell. These other molecules are called ligands,

>but GAG chains, patterned with sulfate, are involved with helping them

>find their customized receptors on the cell surface. This is very new,

>but it appears that GAGs regulate ligands and their receptors by

>encouraging and enabling some connections and preventing others, in a

>developmentally regulated fashion. They also recently have been discovered

>to mediate a whole new type of delivery of molecules into the cell, in a

>new form of endocytosis that no one realized existed. Sulfated GAGs also

>are involved with helping to assemble gap junctions: a passageway that

>allows cells to share their inner substance through a channel built to

>connect them. As an example, gap junctions are involved with keeping the

>heart regulated or making the uterus contract all at the same time, and

>gap junctions also provide communication betweem neurons and glial cells.


>Sulfated molecules are also very involved with helping a cell to know

>about its environment, telling the cell information about when to grow,

>when to move, how far to move, when to differentiate, and it looks very

>probable that they are involved with telling a cell when it is time for

>that cell to die.


>All of these messages get fouled up if, for some reason, the cell that

>made them ran out of sulfate when it was making those sugar chains. If

>your whole body ran out, life would be impossible, but this " running out "

>is like that last check you wrote on a depleted bank account, and you know

>how much damage can be done when those service charges start rolling in,

>but it is not always easy to know which check is going to be the one that

>bounces. When your systemic " account " of sulfate is low, your body might

>rob to pay , or there might be some organs where this lack would

>show up first, because the demands on this chemistry are higher there.


>This disabling of signalling when sulfate is cut off has been demonstrated

>in study after study experimentally, but no one has thought to look for

>diseases where that might have happened. I suspect this lack of interest

>comes from the difficulty in studying something so distributed in effects

>in complicated creatures like us, as well as the fact that sulfated sugars

>are not part of the popular obsession of scientists today: involving

>proteins that are coded by DNA. Instead of being so involved in genetic

>issues, sulfation is more of an issue of how well your body is relating to

>things it encounters in the environment, or in more scientific lingo, it

>involves post-translational events.


>Dr. Rosemary Waring at the University of Birmingham in England, has

>discovered that sulfation problems are very typical of autism, and she

>studies sulfation in many other disease processes. In one of her latest

>studies about autism, she found 92% of those with autism in her study did

>not use sulfate normally to detoxify. In other studies she found that the

>problem must not have been a specific problem with the enzymes involved,

>but it seemed rather that the body was running out of enough sulfate. She

>has been finding that very often, this seems to happen because sulfate is

>being dumped in the urine, instead of what ought to happen: that is,

>becoming recovered in the kidneys and put back into

>circulation. Unfortunately, that dumping will occur when the kidney

>itself becomes undersulfated, which makes the problem compound.


>You can think of this situation as being similar to trying to keep a bowl

>full of water that has a big hole in the bottom. The lab results that

>show this will discover low plasma sulfate and high urinary sulfate and

>usually high urinary sulfite, as well.


>Sulfite is one step " up " on the pathway to make sulfate from

>sulfur-containing amino acids. The last enzyme in that process is sulfite

>oxidase, and it can be impaired by several things, including infection

>(inflammation) or molybdenum deficiency, or even auto-immune attack. If

>the ratio of your blood levels of sulfite compared to sulfate are too

>high, an impairment of sulfite oxidase should be suspected.


>If your levels of cysteine in the blood are high, and the cysteine to

>sulfate ratio is also high, it may mean that there is such a load on your

>sulfate requirement (maybe from having too much to detoxify) that it

>appears your cells just cannot keep up with sulfate manufacture from

>protein. That is why using epsom salts, in which sulfur is already made

>into a sulfate ion, can bypass any detours you may be experiencing along

>the sulfate pathway.


>Something else can go wrong. Sulfate has to have a special transporter to

>cross membranes. The cell has a big membrane that surrounds the whole

>thing, and that is called the plasma membrane, but there is far more

>membrane inside the cell than outside. Every time sulfate needs to cross

>a membrane in the cell or on the outside, it has to be escorted through

>one of these transporters. Mercury can completely block those

>transporters, as shown by testing on live cells. I feel it is quite

>likely that those who have been getting better using chelation are seeing

>improvements in their sulfate transport because the mercury that may have

>been blocking transport in the kidneys, is now out of the way, and so the

>children are now able to retain more sulfate. Where poor transport would

>be quite critical is both in the gut (where you should absorb sulfate from

>the diet) or in the kidneys, which will dump sulfate in the urine when the

>sulfate transporters are blocked and for other reasons, like acidosis.


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