The Benefits of Polysaccharides with Dr. John Lewis: Rational Wellness Podcast 327

Dr. John Lewis discusses The Benefits of Polysaccharides with Dr. Ben Weitz.

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Podcast Highlights

13:26  Polysaccharides.  Polysaccharides are complex sugars and some of them have unique health promoting properties, including those that come from aloe vera and from rice bran.  Aloe vera is 99% water, so you have to extract the polysaccharides out of the aloe vera plant and this acetylated polymannose has amazing properties.

20:25  Polymannose.  Dr. Lewis met Dr. Reg McDaniel who had been working on the aloe plant since the 1980s at the Texas A & M vet school, who is still doing research at 87 years of age.  Dr. McDaniel shared studies that these aloe derived polysaccharides were anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiproliferative, and have wound healing benefits.  He found that in addition to the wound healing and stem cell production boosting function of aloe vera, this polymannose is a key sugar when the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi of the cell are communicating with each other and making other bioactive compounds that you need.  This polymannose is similar to d-mannose, which is often recommended as part of a protocol along with L-carnitine and CoQ10 for supporting the heart muscle in patients with congestive heart failure, though Dr. Lewis’s research was more focused on brain health.

25:51  Aloe polymannose multinutrient complex.  In their study on the polysaccharides for Alzheimer’s patients, Dr. Lewis and colleagues used an aloe polymannose multinutrient complex, including aloe polymannose, rice bran, larch tree, cysteine, lecithin, tart cherry, inositol hexaphosphate, yam, flax seed, citric acid, and glucosamine.  They gave the patients this nutritional supplement four times per day in a powdered form that put into a liquid to drink. For the Alzheimer’s study, they took patients with moderate to severe disease, which means the sickest of the sick and this group is the hardest to see improvements with.  The neuropsychological testing showed a significant improvement at nine and twelve months.

35:06  Alzheimer’s study lab results. The lab results showed statistically significant reductions in VEGF and TNF alpha.  There was an improvement in CD4 to CD8 ratio, which obviously is very important for all of us.  They also showed an improvement of just under 300% in CD14 cells, which is a marker of adult stem cells.  And the average age of these patients were 79.9 years of age.  They theorized that these adult stem cells migrated to the brain and created new neurons, new synapses, and repaired damage to neurons.  Also BDNF levels went up by 11%, though this was not considered to be statistically significant.  They did not ask these Alzheimer’s patients to change their diet or to exercise or do anything else to improve their lifestyles.  We can only imagine how much more benefit might have been derived if this nutritional intervention were used as part of a Functional Medicine approach that also put them on a healthy diet and had them perform vigorous exercise and do brain stimulating exercises as well, such as the approach used by Dr. Dale Bredesen. [The Effect of an Aloe Polymannose Multinutrient Complex on Cognitive and Immune Functioning in Alzheimer’s Disease.]

44:45  MS study. These patients with relapsing remitting MS were placed on a similar aloe polymannose multinutrient complex four times per day for 12 months.  The FAMS (Functional Assessment for MS) questionaire was used for functional assessment and results showed very significant improvements in every scale.  MS patients frequently get infections and these patients who took the nutritional intervention had much fewer infections.  Serum biomarkers, quality of life, symptom severity, and functioning also improved. [The Effect of a Polysaccharide-Based Multinutrient Dietary Supplementation Regimen on Infections and Immune Functioning in Multiple Sclerosis]  and  [The Effect of Broad-Spectrum Dietary Supplementation on Quality of Life, Symptom Severity, and Functioning in Multiple Sclerosis]                            

Dr. John Lewis is the founder and President of Dr. Lewis Nutrition and the website is DrLewisNutrition.com. Dr. Lewis was a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami School of Medicine and he was the principal investigator of over 30 different studies in his research career.  Much of his research has focused on the effects of nutrition, dietary supplementation, exercise, and medical devices on various aspects of human health and disease.  One study that he was involved with that we will discuss is The Effect of an Aloe Polymannose Multinutrient Complex on Cognitive and Immune Functioning in Alzheimer’s Disease.

Dr. Ben Weitz is available for Functional Nutrition consultations specializing in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders like IBS/SIBO and Reflux and also Cardiometabolic Risk Factors like elevated lipids, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure.  Dr. Weitz has also successfully helped many patients with managing their weight and improving their athletic performance, as well as sports chiropractic work by calling his Santa Monica office 310-395-3111. Dr. Weitz is also available for video or phone consultations.



Podcast Transcript

Dr. Weitz:            Hey, this is Dr. Ben Weitz, host of the Rational Wellness Podcast. I talk to the leading health and nutrition experts and researchers in the field to bring you the latest in cutting-edge health information. Subscribe to the Rational Wellness Podcast for weekly updates. And to learn more, check out my website, drweitz.com. Thanks for joining me, and let’s jump into the podcast.

                                Hello, Rational Wellness Podcasters. Our topic for today is the benefits of polysaccharides with Dr. John Lewis. We have discussed many topics in nutrition, especially as related to brain health. And typically, part of the discussion is usually about reducing carbohydrate intake to improve insulin resistance, getting the brain to work off of ketones, et cetera. We’ve recently had discussions with Dr. Dale Bredesen, Dr. Heather Sandison, and Dr. Kabran Chapek, all of whom advocated for some version of a low-carb or ketogenic diet for most patients with cognitive challenges like Alzheimer’s disease or after concussions. Now we have Dr. Lewis to advocate for polysaccharides or carbohydrates for brain health, the lowly carbohydrate, the much maligned carbohydrate in the world of nutrition.

                                Dr. John Lewis is the Founder and President of Dr. Lewis Nutrition. He was a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Miami School of Medicine. He was a principal investigator of over 30 different studies in his research career. Much of his research has focused on the effects of nutrition, dietary supplementation, exercise, and medical devices on various aspects of human health and disease. One study that he was involved with that we will look at is the effect of an aloe polymannose multi nutrient complex on cognitive and immune functioning in Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Lewis, thanks for joining us.

Dr. Lewis:            Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here, and I’m happy to follow such distinguished guests that you recently had.

Dr. Weitz:            So how did you become interested in health, nutrition, and dietary nutritional supplementation?

Dr. Lewis:            Well, like a lot of people, I think I was lucky. I started out at a very early age, my grandfather pitching baseball to me out in the backyard and getting me on a track of playing sports most of my youth. And then after high school, getting into drug-free competitive bodybuilding. It was kind of just a natural progression for me, continuing to be active, obviously in a much different fashion as opposed to playing team sports. But then, at that point, I kind of got, I would say, very interested in how nutrition, exercise, stress, how all of that affects the body, affects everything from our individual cells all the way up to who we are as a human. And so I sort of went from there. It’s been a long evolution, a long progression, but excuse me, in my twenties, I shifted out of more of an interest in performance and sports, there’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but into more of a health orientation.

                                And I felt like for people who are gifted with the opportunity to play competitive sports at a very high level, obviously that’s a very, very tiny percentage of our population, but everyone’s affected by health regardless if you have any sports acumen. So I thought it was much more important to go down that road in my professional career of looking at, as you said, the way nutrition, supplements, different types of exercise, affect health and really many different parameters around health as opposed to performance. I mean, I still lift every day. I’m still very active in my own personal exercise routine, obviously, I’d be a hypocrite if I was not. But as far as all of my interests go, I’m going to continue the rest of my life looking for ways really mostly through nutrition and supplementation to help people be healthy, because I feel like, I don’t know about your opinion, but I believe as far as the science goes, nutrition is up here. To me, it’s the absolute number one behavior. Exercise is a pretty far number two below it, and then obviously everything else sort of falls into place.

                                To me, nutrition encompasses so many different things just simply because every time we put something into our mouths, we’re giving coded information to ourselves, guided by our genes, to either express or suppress or do things genetically. But all those other downstream effects of metabolism, there’s nothing else that you, well, other than of course, drugs and smoking. I mean, those are different topics, but nutrition, everything we put in our mouth, what we eat and drink, just gives our… It really is true. You are what you eat. And so all that is very important to me in terms of what I’ll do the rest of my life continuing to look for answers for health.

Dr. Weitz:            I’m on the same page with you. Nutrition is information, learned that from Jeffrey Bland 30 years ago, and I think that’s a big basis of functional medicine, which is a big part of my practice. So what led you to, by the way, I also was a competitive bodybuilder back in the eighties, and so we have a similar start, except I didn’t go into academics, I went into becoming a chiropractor. What led you to a research career in academics?

Dr. Lewis:            Well, that’s an interesting part of my life as well. I got into undergrad and I’m trying to, like many people in college and university, you’re trying to figure out what you want to do with your life. And I just sort of fell into it actually. I decided once I really, as I mentioned previously, got into this idea of getting really focused and really understanding why the body works, as you know as a former competitive bodybuilder as well, it’s so important to be very dialed-in and very specific in what you do, because otherwise you really are going to struggle with achieving anything if you’re not very focused on your effort and making the best use of your time. And so as I continued wanting to develop really my knowledge, which actually there are obviously many aspects of that too. I learned a lot of things just in my own discovery through reading the literature.  But I just, as I continued going from my undergrad to my master’s degree to my PhD, it seemed like I enjoyed the academic lifestyle at that point in my life. And I felt like conducting research was something very valuable. I guess I was a bit naive at that point in terms of all the funding and how you have to be such a dog-eat-dog kind of personality to really bring in funding to be able to do your research. And then, oh, by the way, here, a guy like me, as you mentioned, I’ve had this long career at the University of Miami, which is a very conventional pharma-focused institution. So here a guy like me, a physiologist, doing nutrition and supplementation and exercise research in a very, very conventional environment where the majority, not the majority, almost everyone is doing, if you’re not doing pharmacology or genetics or some combination, you’re pretty much a black sheep.  And so I was very much a black sheep most of my academic career, and ultimately that was a big reason that I actually left academics. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bitter because I did end up making what I feel like are for some very important and cool discoveries. But I just, to answer your question, I really enjoyed the academic lifestyle at that point in my life, but eventually I got to a point where I was so burned out on spending so much of my time trying to raise money and trying to break into this clique, if you will, in NIH and other large foundations where they really only want to fund, again, drug research or genetics research. Nutrition, they may talk a good game publicly, but they’re not interested in nutrition. They don’t view it as a way of making money eventually.

Dr. Weitz:            Exactly. This is unfortunately one of the issues I talk about quite a bit is that while the capitalist free market economic system is a great system for spurring innovation and creativity and has led to a great economy, I don’t think it’s a great way to run the healthcare system. And most of the money and research is coming from drug companies. I talked to Dr. Terry Wahls. I mean, she has the most incredible story, is helping thousands of people to turn around this horrible condition, MS, and her data’s incredible, and all her research is being funded by private, wealthy donors who she happens to know because there just isn’t a lot of money around. As you said, the NIH, most of the people on the NIH, have worked or have closely worked with big pharma and big pharma controls all the money. So if there’s not a lot of money to be made, unfortunately the research is not going to get done, which is too bad.

Dr. Lewis:            That’s right. And just to extend that point, so I left academics full-time about six years ago, and I still have a voluntary appointment. But when we published, which I’m maybe jumping ahead a little bit, but the results of the Alzheimer’s study that for me was so profound and still is so profound in terms of my own career. We published the first article from that study in 2013, and I was so excited at that point. I really had a high, what we had shown, and we’ll talk about that hopefully in a minute.

Dr. Weitz:            Yeah, you would’ve thought that the people from NIH would’ve been begging to give you more money.

Dr. Lewis:            Exactly. I tried twice with NIH, twice with the Alzheimer’s Association, to get funding to extend our work. I got crickets in response, nothing.

Dr. Weitz:            But they’re spending tens of billions of dollars researching these drugs that have had zero benefit for patients with Alzheimer’s. And they’ve been approving a series of these drugs recently. And the only benefit is to slow down the worsening of the disease. None of them make any of the patients better.

Dr. Lewis:            I know. It is so sad. And I guess that’s where my naivety or my gullibility of how academic research works pretty much came to a conclusion at that point. When I know for a fact, I mean, I’ve had friends who worked for NIH, I’ve had friends who’ve spent a lot of time sitting on review committees, and they all have told me that the typical NIH mentality is, they don’t want to fund something that they think will not work. So in other words, when they get reviewed, when these reviewing people, when these board members get reviewed, their boss wants to be able to say, “Well, yeah, so-and-so funded all this research that showed this many benefits to society or health or whatever.” And so they have this bias where if you submit an application that if they ultimately decide, well, there’s no snowballs chance in hell of this thing working, we’re not giving this guy any money.

                                Well, in my case, we were submitting a proposal with data, like we actually said, “Hey, look at what we’ve done. We have already demonstrated some success here. Give us more money to help us extend this line of research.” And for 10 years, that has not happened, which is like a hole in my heart. I mean, thankfully for Dr. Wahls, she’s had people supporting her work in MS. Well, that was the same in our case. The only reason we even ran this Alzheimer’s study was due to the generosity of a family who had lost four of their family members to Alzheimer’s, and they gave us money to run a study. So you’re absolutely right. I mean, if you don’t have some network of really wealthy people that have more money than common sense, then if you’re trying to do something in our world in nutrition, I don’t know where it comes from.  So my goal, part of my business goal as an entrepreneur, is to make my company successful enough where I’m going to fund my own research eventually. I’m not begging people. You know what? I’m over the begging game. I begged the government, I’ve begged foundations, I’ve begged people. I’m done with all that. I’m just going to make enough money in my own business that I’m going to fund the research myself.

Dr. Weitz:            Well, the problem is you’re trying to promote health and our so-called healthcare system is only designed to treat disease. There’s no promotion of health at all.

Dr. Lewis:            Zero. It’s not a healthcare system.

Dr. Weitz:            It’s not. It’s a sick care system.

Dr. Lewis:            That’s right. It’s a travesty.

Dr. Weitz:            Let’s get into the topic at hand. What are polysaccharides and why should we be excited about them? Aren’t carbohydrates bad?

Dr. Lewis:            I love it. I love that question. For me, it’s just such a neat little thing to do when I talk about sugar. So yes, to your point, I mean-

Dr. Weitz:            Well, why don’t you start by defining what is a polysaccharide.

Dr. Lewis:            Exactly. So it’s a complex sugar. I can imagine some of the other folks you’ve had before that talk about keto and this and that. I mean, it is fine. I’m not here to be an enemy to people like that or to try to be some maelstrom type person. But these polysaccharides are so unique in their function and they’ve been shown, just time and time again, not just through the work in our lab, but people all around the world that these complex sugars. And if I said, “Well, sugar is good for you.” Again, most of your listeners will probably laugh me off the screen here, but a sugar is not a sugar. And so for me, when you say the word sugar, you have to be very careful because you’re using a very generic term that if you’re talking about high fructose corn syrup, well sure, that’s not good for you, don’t eat it. Look on your label, and if anything says high fructose corn syrup on it, put it back on the shelf, don’t buy it.

                                But these complex sugars, and again, a sugar is not a sugar. It depends on the molecules, it depends on the chain in the molecules, and it also depends on the source. It’s not just a matter of whether something is a mono or a di or a polysaccharide. It also, in my view of the world, it depends on the source of these things. So what we’ve shown in our work now, going back close to 20 years, is that these two particular polysaccharides that we’ve focused on a lot come from aloe vera and rice bran. Well, obviously humans have been using aloe vera since recorded history. I mean, that’s pretty much a no-brainer, but unfortunately, most people think of aloe vera as something for a topical purpose, which is fine. If you have a sunburn or a cut or a wound or something, I don’t knock you for putting a little aloe vera gel on there, that’s fine. But an aloe vera gel is 99% water, and so to get the polysaccharide out of that gel to have a very therapeutic benefit is going to be unlikely.

                                You really need it in a concentrated form where all that water has been taken away and the polysaccharides have been extracted out of there. So mannose, acetylated polymannose, aloe polysaccharide, there are a lot of synonyms for the same thing. But basically this particular polysaccharide coming to us from the aloe vera plant is just so dynamic and so amazing. And then the rice bran, not the same, but similar to, the same story. Obviously, humans have been eating rice since recorded history, but unfortunately, most of the world prefers to eat white rice. Well, when the rice is milled from when it comes from the field into the processing center, when the kernel is stripped off, which is mostly the bran, and the bran is actually packaged up and fed to animals, the animals are actually getting the best part of the rice. If you’re only eating white rice, you’re eating just basically simple carbohydrate, and you’re not getting all the dynamic polysaccharides that are contained in that rice bran.

                                So the interesting thing for me, when I think about this whole keto, even the carnivore craze that seems to be growing, which I completely don’t understand, that’s another topic, but you don’t have to be like, we’re talking just a couple of grams of carbohydrate per day. To me, that’s what’s interesting about people typically talking about carb, carb, carb and carb, carb is bad, but we’re only talking about, from our research, and again, people in other labs around the world, you only need a couple of grams at the most of these polysaccharides per day. I mean, really, is somebody going to be offended by taking 500 milligrams, a gram, a couple of grams of these polysaccharides per day when you’re so focused on protein and fat? I mean, to me, that just doesn’t… You know what I’m saying? That’s irrelevant.   When somebody’s eating 500, 600, even a thousand grams of carbohydrates per day of mostly processed garbage, sure you’ve got a big problem. But if you’re going to talk about being keto or carnivore or whatever, and then adding a couple of grams per day of these polysaccharides into your diet, and you have a problem with that, I’m sorry, you’re lost. You are totally missing out on some incredible benefits from these polysaccharides.

Dr. Weitz:            You might be better for marketing purposes describing it as a phytonutrient.

Dr. Lewis:            Sure, absolutely. But you know what? I had a lady call me up the other day ripping my butt over the fact that I had flaxseed in our formula, and she’s telling me about all the problem with phytoestrogens and this and that. I had to endure this lady because I’m subject to being left some horrible review on Google or something. This lady’s completely talking out of her butt. She didn’t have any idea what she’s talking about making all these wild accusations about, she’s going to call the FDA and tell the FDA that anything that’s got flaxseed in it should have a label warning that says, “Oh, it contains phytoestrogens.” I’m like, “Lady, you don’t even know what you’re talking about. Lignins are some of the most anticarcinogenic phytonutrients known to humanity, and you’re telling me that a few hundred milligrams of flaxseed in my formula is a health problem. Are you nuts?”

Dr. Weitz:            Yeah. You just have to ignore that.

Dr. Lewis:            Are you nuts?

Dr. Weitz:            There’s a lot of opinion. When you talk about rice bran, it’s interesting. I’ve had Dr. Barrie Tan on talking about tocotrienols, and I know rice bran is one of the sources for tocotrienols.

Dr. Lewis:            Yes. Well, again, rice bran, I mean, I think, again, in my view of the world, I’m going to put rice bran, if I have to make a hierarchy, I’m going to put the aloe polysaccharide at number one. I’m going to put the rice bran polysaccharide at number two. But I mean, there have been thousands of different amino acids, fatty acids, in addition to the polysaccharides, vitamins, minerals, elements, co-factors, metabolites, all found within rice bran. I mean, what a dynamic food source this is. And so anybody that says, “Oh-“

Dr. Weitz:            Of course, a source of fiber as well.

Dr. Lewis:            Fiber as well, exactly. So anybody that says, “Oh, I can’t, can’t have a little bit of rice bran in my diet, I’m too strict.” Well, okay, fine, but you’re losing out on some amazing nutritional benefit to your cells.

Dr. Weitz:            Tell us about how the aloe polysaccharide, how does it have these health benefits, and about the studies you’ve done?

Dr. Lewis:            Well, again, we ran these trials. Actually, we also ran a trial in MS as well, in addition to the Alzheimer’s study. But I was very fortunate to meet a couple of people back nearly 20 years ago. One gentleman, Dr. Reg McDaniel, who had been working on the aloe polysaccharide for, gosh, he started back in the eighties, and this man is still going to his office every day, 87 years old, still fighting the good fight. I mean, what a warrior for health Dr. McDaniel is. I don’t know about you, but in school, I thought maybe, if I recollect, it’s very many years ago that I was in school, but I may have had a half a lecture in biochemistry at one point about polysaccharides or saccharides in general. And all I knew about them at that point was that they were an energy source.

                                I didn’t really know much about anything else related to their function. But when I met Dr. McDaniel, and he started sharing with me all of the work that he and his colleagues had done, primarily at Texas A&M at the vet school, it was just an amazing enlightening experience. And just, as you do, once you go down a path and you start building your knowledge base and you discover all these different things that these polysaccharides can do, and again, mostly focused on aloe vera at that time. But to answer your question, what’s ultimately been shown, and I’ll talk a little bit about our findings as well, but before even running our study, if you just look into the literature, go to PubMed and type in acemannan, mannose, acetylated polysaccharides, you’ll find many studies that have shown that it’s anti-inflammatory, it’s anti-oxidative, it’s antiproliferative, of course, all the wound healing benefits.

                                In fact, I think FDA actually has some sort of, I don’t know, I’m not too familiar with the FDA world in terms of approvals, but FDA has granted some sort of a wound healing benefit to aloe vera that people can use, I guess, for labeling and claims purposes. But in addition to that, boosting stem cell production, there are just lots of different mechanistic functions that this polymannose has. And so what has been shown by other people around the world, again, not in our lab, but just in general, people looking into the glycomics field, is that this particular mannose, this one key sugar that comes from aloe vera is needed when the endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi are communicating with each other, and they’re making other bioactive compounds that you need so many molecules of mannose in that process.

                                So obviously oxygen is our number one nutrient. And then beyond that, we have vitamins and minerals, amino acids, fatty acids, but mannose is very important in that chain where, again, when you’re talking about that activity in the organelles and all that coded information, again, going back to what Dr. Bland said, all that coded information from mannose, from these polysaccharides, is actually way, way more than what you get from amino acids, fatty acids, even vitamins and minerals. So it’s so much coded information in there, in that mannose, to be able to then guide the cells to do their job. And so whether it’s again, creating another bioactive compound, phosphorylating, glycosylating, communicating with another cell, I mean on and on and on, that mannose is so crucial to that.

                                And so what we’ve showed really in our research kind of at a helicopter view level is that, I like to use the analogy of an old car. If your car has water in the gas tank, you get the gas cleaned up, you get the water removed, and you start giving it high test gasoline, your car may function better, it may start driving like it’s a newer car again. Same thing with our cells. It’s really true. Again, we are what we eat. And so these polysaccharides, it’s just like pouring gasoline on the fire. Once you give the cells the proper nutrients, the raw materials that they need to function properly, they will do that. And so it’s basically going back to a very key component of the bioengineering of life.

Dr. Weitz:            So I’m familiar with the use of d-mannose as part of a protocol for supporting the mitochondria in the heart along with l-carnitine and CoQ10, is this polymannose similar to d-mannose?

Dr. Lewis:            Absolutely. It’s the same chemical structure.

Dr. Weitz:            Oh, okay. Exactly. So there’s a ton of data showing the benefits of that for patients with congestive heart failure. So potentially your product could have benefits there as well.

Dr. Lewis:            That’s right. Well, and again, our only limitation in terms of answering research questions is just simply money. I mean, if we had an unlimited source of funds, we’d be running other clinical trials. It’s just we’ve been very focused on the brain due to this family’s generosity and wanting us to stick with Alzheimer’s. We did run a sister study in MS as well, but if you want me to, I’m happy to share with you the results of our clinical trials in both of those studies.

Dr. Weitz:            Sure. But by the way, I was looking at the paper, it looks like it’s a combination of products. It looks like a combination of different nutrients in that product that you use, correct?

Dr. Lewis:            That is correct. So we were not interested in trying to create or fall under the pharmacological model of one synthetic or one chemical for one mechanism of action for one disease or symptom of disease. We really, due to the severity, and I don’t know if you’ve had any family members with Alzheimer’s, I personally have not, but just due to the severity of the disease, the lack of anything from a conventional treatment perspective to even help people, and just really the desperation, the sheer desperation. I mean, when I got into running the study and hearing from these caregivers that are just the most desperate people on the planet to find something, we believed that just looking at say, aloe by itself, while it could have been very effective, was probably a limited view and not really a nutritional view.  So as you well know, nutrition is more like a shotgun where you’re providing hundreds if not thousands of things all at once to the cells compared to the pharmacological paradigm where again, it’s just one chemical or one synthetic compound for one mechanism of action. So we were trying to help people the best we could, and combining with some of these other things like the rice bran, the flaxseed, the tart cherry, the sunflower lecithin, the [inaudible 00:27:30], the citric acid. Again, we were trying to really give these folks something to help them. 

Dr. Weitz:            I’m kind of interested in all these compounds. Maybe just real briefly, you could give us a thought as to why you included some of these other compounds. I see, besides the polymannose from the aloe and the rice bran, there’s large tree fiber, large tree soluble extract, cystine, soy lecithin, ultra terra calcium, aluminosilicate, tart cherry, inositol, yam powder, omega-3, citric acid, and glucosamine.

Dr. Lewis:            Yeah, and actually we had a change in the formulation midway through the study. We actually had to swap out some of the larch due to supply concerns that we increased the amount of aloe in that second iteration of the formulation. But to answer your question, so for example, the flaxseed, obviously being a very rich source of omega-3 and lignins, and fiber as you mentioned. I mean, that was-

Dr. Weitz:            So the flaxseed, is that the omega-3?

Dr. Lewis:            Yes, exactly that, yes. And then we actually switched from soy lecithin to sunflower lecithin. Again, because some people are very touchy about soy. So we decided to switch to sunflower, which obviously is a good source of choline. So choline has been shown in many different studies to be very beneficial for the brain.

Dr. Weitz:            Precursor for acetylcholine.

Dr. Lewis:            Yes, exactly. The IP-6, that’s a very interesting compound that actually also comes from rice bran and much more so than say for brain health effects, but it’s actually been shown to be very anticarcinogenic. So we felt like anything like that that could help to lower inflammation. And obviously, the people that we ran in these clinical trials, they didn’t just have Alzheimer’s or MS. I mean, they had other comorbid conditions as well.  The tart cherry is very interesting. I mean, it’s just got a plethora of different nutrients in it. It’s actually a good source of melatonin as well.  So we felt like for overall, again, this strategy of giving an overall compliment to different metabolic pathways, it was a good selection.  The diaspora, the wild yam, is a very nice endocrine modulator.  It’s got these saponins in it that are not completely understood why they affect or modulate the endocrine system, but they’re very beneficial from that.  What else am I missing?   The ultra terra clay has some very interesting properties. It comes from a very deep water lake in the state of Mississippi, and it has very potent chelating properties to it. So one of the nice things that this formula does is, while it’s giving you all these different nutrients, we’ve got the clay in there to help strip out different things that build up over time, whether it’s heavy metals, arsenic, PCBs, PFAs, all these different things. So it’s got a very nice detoxifying effect as well. So while you’re feeding the body on the one hand, you’re also helping to clean it up on the other with the clay. So we love that particular ingredient in the formula. Of course, citric acid, it’s obviously a very well-known antioxidant part of the Krebs cycle, being very important to help produce all the different cellular metabolism. Oh, I’m forgetting NAC, n-acetylcysteine, obviously is a precursor to glutathione.    So prior to some of these more recent technologies using liposomes or micelle or other nanotechnology, obviously there’s been a big problem for many years of trying to deliver glutathione orally. So if you can put in NAC where it’s obviously the precursor to glutathione, now you’re helping to boost the body’s own production of glutathione. So again, we were looking at multiple metabolic or mechanistic components to this formula in terms of lowering inflammation, lowering oxidation, boosting overall immune function. And then we ultimately, to our surprise, to our pleasure, or to our excitement actually, we showed an increase in adult stem cell production. So all these things ended up happening in our Alzheimer’s study on the one hand.

Dr. Weitz:            So you gave this nutritional product once a day, twice a day?

Dr. Lewis:            Four times per day.

Dr. Weitz:            Four times per day, okay.

Dr. Lewis:            Yes. About two and a half grams per serving.

Dr. Weitz:            So is that like a scoop or something that they put in liquid?

Dr. Lewis:            Yes.

Dr. Weitz:            Okay. And they took this for a year?

Dr. Lewis:            Yes. So for the Alzheimer’s study and the MS studies, actually, they were both one-year interventions. For the Alzheimer’s folks, as I mentioned, we did a powder that, we felt like for a lot of people with dementia or Alzheimer’s, they have issues with swallowing. So a powder would be preferable, and it turned out to be true as opposed to taking a capsule or a tablet. So that was a good choice for that study. For the MS study, it didn’t matter quite as much. They didn’t really report having swallowing difficulties per se. But for the Alzheimer’s study, we chose people with moderate to severe disease. We felt like we wanted to choose the sickest group of people. And as I’m sure you know, those folks are not typically ever selected for studies with big pharma. Big pharma looks at those folks as lost causes basically.

Dr. Weitz:            Just so we have a context, what would be the range of MoCA scores?

Dr. Lewis:            Oh, gosh. On the MoCA, we didn’t use the MoCA. We used the ADAS-Cog. So the ADAS-Cog is really the gold standard for assessing cognition in dementia studies. The ADAS-Cog goes from a 70 where you’re basically like a piece of furniture, you have zero cognitive ability all the way to a zero, which is basically perfect cognition.

Dr. Weitz:            Oh, the opposite of some of the other tests.

Dr. Lewis:            Yeah, exactly. So it goes down. Going down means a good thing. And for the ADAS-Cog, I believe I don’t have the data in front of me. I think at baseline, it started out in the forties and it got down to, well, it was a four point change, which according to what the ADAS-cog people say, anything four or greater is clinically significant. And we were just beyond four points at both nine and 12 months. So we did the neuropsych testing at baseline 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, and then we drew blood at baseline and at 12 months. Unfortunately, our budget was limited. We didn’t have enough money to draw blood at three, six, and nine, but the neuropsych testing was done every quarter. And again, we got clinically and statistically significant improvements in cognitive function at nine and 12 months. So at that point, I mean, we were just beyond thrilled, and that’s where I was still in sort of my naive thinking that NIH or Alzheimer’s Association or somebody was going to jump on this and help us out, which never happened.

Dr. Weitz:            What were some of the results of the labs?

Dr. Lewis:            So the most exciting things in terms of the labs were we showed statistically significant reductions in VEGF and TNF alpha. So those were probably, I think, probably the first time that had ever been shown in people with Alzheimer’s. I don’t think anybody else had shown that, at least not with moderate to severe. And of course, those two markers typically have mostly been looked at in either cancer or heart disease. So again, I think we were the first group to actually publish that in Alzheimer’s. So that was really interesting.

                                The second interesting finding was the improvement in CD4 to CD8 ratio, which obviously is very important for all of us. It’s not just for people with dementia or even people with HIV, for example, but for all of us. As we age, we want our helper cells to be as high as possible in relation to our cytotoxic cells. So that was a really nice finding. And then third, we showed an improvement of just under 300% in CD14 cells, which is a marker of adult stem cells. We couldn’t believe how much those dramatically improved. And oh, by the way, I didn’t mention that the average age of our subjects was 79.9 years of age. So we’re talking a relatively old group of people that not only had this tragic Alzheimer’s disease, but also had other comorbid issues as well. So we were just blown away with those findings.

Dr. Weitz:            What about adult stem cells correlated with Alzheimer’s? I’m not really aware of how that’s directly correlated.

Dr. Lewis:            One of the things that we theorized in the discussion section of that first paper is that when you look at the triumvirate here of results that we have, so on the clinical side, we have this improvement in cognition, which again just blew us away. We were so happy with that result, but also lowering inflammation and improving this adult stem cell production process. The only thing that made sense to us, mechanistically speaking, is that the stem cells migrated to the brain and either created new neurons, created new synapses, repaired damage, all the above. I mean, obviously it’s speculative and it’s theoretical. We can’t prove that per se. We didn’t have money, and I don’t even know back almost 15 years ago if the imaging at that time was even not that good.  But today, if we had a new study to be able to actually do images of the brain, PET, CT, whatever, SPECT, whatever technology, that we could actually show changes morphologically in the brain. But again, we’re speculating that because we had such a dramatic increase in adult stem cell production, the only thing that made sense to us is why these people were coming back from the ether is that their brains were getting repaired. I mean, to us, that was the only thing that made sense to us.

Dr. Weitz:            Sure. And then in terms of the MS study, what did you find?

Dr. Lewis:            Well let me, if I may, just share one other little quick thing.

Dr. Weitz:            Yeah, go ahead.

Dr. Lewis:            On the Alzheimer’s study. So we did two other papers, not as exciting to me, but to your point, of still trying to figure out, okay, well what really happened here, mechanistically? We did a secondary analysis. We looked at brain derived neurotropic factors. So from the point of publishing the first article in 13 to then publishing these two subsequent articles, we looked at BDNF because there had been other articles coming out showing BDNF’S, link to hippocampal function, memories, all sorts of neuroplasticity, all sorts of different things that we thought might help to explain it. Unfortunately, we didn’t show a statistically significant improvement in BDNF, it only went up by about 11%. But it was linked to different cognitive improvements and different changes on the immune system as well. We actually had done another study with HIV positive people many years before that where we discovered that if you had a BDNF level of 5,000 units or higher, you actually had worse, I’m sorry, you had better cognitive function than people that had less than 5,000 units. I can’t really tell you why that’s true. It’s just one of those artifacts of nature, basically.

                                But we decided to split our group of people with Alzheimer’s at that 5,000 point level as well. And it turned out to show basically the same thing, that if you had a BDNF level higher than 5,000, you had better cognitive function and you also had better immune function. So that seemed to be interesting to us. And we got two more papers out of that. And then we actually have a fourth paper that’s currently under review for another thing. I don’t know if I should really talk about it too much. I usually don’t typically talk about articles that haven’t been published yet. But briefly, what I’ll tell you is, we are looking at some, again, very unique, and I think for the first time published data in people with Alzheimer’s where we looked at the Th1 to Th2 components of the immune system, which had never been characterized.

                                I spent hours looking in PubMed. One of our other co-authors looked at it as well. We couldn’t find anything else that had ever been published before in people with Alzheimer’s looking at the balance between the Th1 and Th2 components in the immune system. And so we’re going to characterize that for the first time. We’re going to show that our formula actually helps to balance it. We’ve also compared the folks with Alzheimer’s to people with normal or healthy levels. And the differences are just so wildly different that you’ll say, “Well, no wonder these folks are so sick.” And then sort of the cherry on top of the cake is that the rebalancing of the Th1 and Th2 levels is correlated with an improvement in cognitive function. So it’s a really exciting new paper that hopefully will be published in the very near future.

Dr. Weitz:            Now, these patients in your study, were they also put on a healthy diet or told to exercise?

Dr. Lewis:            Oh, I’m glad you asked me that. Thank you for asking me that. I totally forgot to mention, that’s the beauty of our study. We didn’t change anything else. We didn’t change their diet, exercise, socialization, medication, nothing. They stayed completely static in terms of their daily routine, their medication regimen. Of course, in the event of an emergency, they had to be intervened, but everything else was static. So that-

Dr. Weitz:            So imagine if this supplement was used in the context of a functional medicine approach that would’ve put them on a healthy diet, had them doing vigorous exercise, had them doing brain stimulation, controlling for other factors, taking a functional medicine approach like Dr. Bredesen does with his Alzheimer’s patients.

Dr. Lewis:            That’s exactly right. And that’s what Dr. McDaniel and I have been saying for years. Gosh, if we just had the money to run subsequent studies, and to your point of making it a more holistic functional medicine approach, my goodness, what could we show demonstrating that adding this supplement into all these other things can be so potent and really benefiting people because ultimately that is what this is all about. And before I talk about the MS study, I just want to make a point real quick to your listeners that it’s wonderful to do science, especially when you’re doing science like I did for most of my career where I wasn’t beholden to a drug company or something like that where I felt like, oh my gosh, what am I doing here? But to be able to actually run good science is wonderful, but when you can actually run good science and then show that you can help people on top of it, man, to me, that’s like the pinnacle of science.  With all due respect to my basic science colleagues who run experiments on cells or tissues or animals. A rat never was late for a study, or a mouse never didn’t just show up and not call you and left you hanging there wondering when you were going to do your assessment. So for basic scientists who do all these very controlled experiments and show interesting things, a lot of times unfortunately for them, their discoveries never end up translating to how it helps people. They may be interesting discoveries scientifically, but do they actually ever end up helping people? No. But in our case, the stuff that we were running with nutrition, we knew immediately, yes, this stuff can help people. And so I had caregivers, I didn’t even mention. I had caregivers calling me in the middle of the study and tears of joy telling me that their loved one was talking about things or doing things that he or she in some cases hadn’t done in years.

                                We even had a very skeptical staff. The center where we ran the study, the psychiatrist especially, he was very skeptical. He said, “Well, we don’t really do nutrition here. We do pharmacology. You guys have some money, we’ve got plenty of patients, we’ll help you. But we don’t really think this is going to do anything.” I mean, that was the kind of response that we had going into the study. So I just love to point out that we actually did stuff that made a difference in people’s lives. And to me, that’s beyond just being a good scientist that’s actually doing things to help people.

Dr. Weitz:            Yeah, that’s great. So go ahead and give us a little information about your MS study.

Dr. Lewis:            So with the MS study, it was a very similar design in terms of a 12-month intervention. It was the same assessment schedule, obviously different assessments for people with MS, but these were people with relapse remitting MS. People that had been, I think the average time of diagnosis was like 15 years. So again, these were people that were very sick, had been sick for a long time, and were looking for alternatives to try to improve their lives. So we put them on a very similar, basically the same formula. Again, we tweaked it a little bit over the years, but we looked at pretty much the same group of biomarkers in terms of the blood work at baseline and 12 months. The clinical assessments were obviously much different again with people, as you know, people with MS don’t typically have the same level of cognitive impairment as folks with dementia, but we were really much more focused on functionality and quality of life.

                                So the FAMS, much like the ADAS-Cog is considered the gold standard for dementia, our cognition assessment and dementia. The FAMS is considered the gold standard for functional assessment for people with MS. And we had just wildly significant improvements in almost every scale. I think one scale was not significant, even though it was borderline close, but every other scale was statistically significant. And so that was very impressive. We had the BD&I, the Beck’s Depression Inventory. Obviously, mood is a very big issue for people with MS. That’s statistically significantly improved. We looked at three different quality of life measures. They all statistically significantly improved. We had a homemade, I say homemade, it’s an assessment the clinic uses, a homemade assessment of symptoms. That thing wildly, statistically, significantly improved.

                                We had just all sorts of really nice anecdotal responses from the subjects as they’re talking about their improvements and how they can function every day, how they can move, how they can get around, how they’re better able to take care of themselves, not being reliant on a caregiver or having other people to help them. So all that clinical stuff, just again, wildly, significantly improved. And then on the biomarker side, one thing that I had no clue about when I got into running these two trials was that the leading killer of people with MS is actually infections. I had no idea. And so we went from having, I think at the baseline, these folks had eight infections at baseline, typically eight different types of infections. At 12 months, they were down to two and a half. So that was just-

Dr. Weitz:            I wonder if those infections are because they’re taking immune suppressing drugs as part of their treatment.

Dr. Lewis:            Exactly. I’m sure it is. That’s at least part of that process. But to get that many infections under control where again, these poor people are just dealing with all sorts of infections. I mean, that was a huge discovery. I don’t think anything else has remotely come close to that. And that goes back to one of the things that I mentioned about the aloe polysaccharides is initially we were talking, their potency against pathogens is just remarkable. Whether it’s virus or bacteria or fungi or whatever it is, not fungi, protozoans, their ability to counteract these infections is just really, really remarkable. But so we had that really nice discovery in infections.

                                And then also in a different way, it is kind of a mouthful to go into in terms of explaining all the different effects, looking at the cytokines and growth factors, and then of course the overall immune function as well. But essentially what happened was very similar, or very parallel to the Alzheimer’s study, in the sense of lowering inflammation and then improving overall immune function. So again, it is a very nice story when you look at the clinical improvements combined with lowering infections, combined with changing the immune function and lowering inflammation at the same time. So I think both of those studies really just were kind of beyond anything that we expected. Certainly we were optimistic and we were hopeful, but to be able to make such discoveries and again, be able to help people at the same time, we just were so pleased with our work.

                                We’re going to actually look at the same, this Th1, Th2 phenomenon in the MS dataset as well. As soon as we get this Alzheimer’s paper published, hopefully in the next couple of months, I’m going to move on to doing that MS analysis as well. So we currently have three papers we published from the Alzheimer’s study, two from the MS study, and then hopefully if things go well, we’ll have two more totals. We’ve got a really nice base of knowledge and information from running these two clinical trials. Again, it’s only due to the lack of funding. People ask me all the time, “Well, what are you going to do next?” I’m like, “Well, write me a check.” If I had an unlimited amount of money, if I had more money than common sense, I’d already be running more clinical trials. It’s just, clinical trials are very expensive to run, and I haven’t been able to do that. But that is definitely a goal of mine for the rest of my life, as I mentioned, to continue the research, obviously running it, of course, we will have a relationship with someone else to actually run it.

                                I feel like spending 20 years in the trenches was enough of my life, but if I have the money to be able to pay another group or even a contract research organization, I really don’t care who ultimately runs the studies. As long as they do a good job and they do it the way that they’re supposed to, then again, that’s my goal, to continue running these trials and answering these questions about why these polysaccharides are so beneficial and kind of taking it, one more thing that I’d like to point out about these polysaccharides is, again, the body, it’s intelligent enough to recreate or recomposition simpler sugars into mannose or galactose or xylose. Some of these very unique polysaccharides, the body is smart enough to be able to do that. When you just feed it junk, it can still do that. But there’s something very special about these polysaccharides that again, come from aloe vera and rice bran.  I think it may be something beyond biochemistry. I think there may be actually something on the physics level at play here. And so to me, that’s something that I want to spend, again, when I have the funding to do it, to answer the question of what it is-

Dr. Weitz:            What would that mean, something on the physics level?

Dr. Lewis:            Well, so what I’m saying is we think of biochemistry or nutrition as being biochemical. Everything about nutrition is on the biochemical level, but to me, there’s something about, we are frequency beings, right?

Dr. Weitz:            Right.

Dr. Lewis:            We resonate at a frequency. All of our cells resonated a frequency, and so there’s got to be something special or dynamic about the resonant frequency of these particular polysaccharides compared to others. Because to me, I’m just continuing to ask myself, why is it that these things are so damn special? What is it that gives them this quality to heal us? I don’t know. My theory could be completely proven wrong ultimately, but I think there’s something beyond biochemistry that has an explanation here.

Dr. Weitz:            I wonder if it could have anything to do with possibly deuterium levels. You familiar with that concept?

Dr. Lewis:            A little bit. I’m not too knowledgeable about it, but that’s-

Dr. Weitz:            So having lower levels of deuterium, meaning for every million water molecules, you’ll have, I think the average is, in seawater, 150 molecules of deuterium. So it’s basically heavy hydrogen, hydrogen with two neutrons instead of one neutron. And so if your polymannose product had lower deuterium levels, there’s a bunch of sort of interesting, not super fleshed out, but research showing that lower levels of deuterium have all these health benefits.

Dr. Lewis:            Interesting.

Dr. Weitz:            So it might be something to look into. Have you tried to reach out to Terry Wahls or talk to her at all?

Dr. Lewis:            I have not.

Dr. Weitz:            Yeah.

Dr. Lewis:            I saw her on an IFM lecture one time, but other than just hearing her lecture, I haven’t tried to contact her.

Dr. Weitz:            Yeah, she’s got a bunch of ongoing research and she’s very big into using a wide range of different plants and phytonutrients as part of her program. She doesn’t follow a vegan program, but she’s very big on having a huge number of different phytonutrients as part of her program. She was in a tilt-up wheelchair, not able to walk or anything, and she’s totally reversed it and walks and teaches and rides a bike. It’s incredible.

Dr. Lewis:            That’s awesome. Well, I have a customer, client who also had MS or has had MS for I think 35, 36 years. She heard me lecture last year. She started using our formula. She had been in a wheelchair, I think she said for the previous two, three years prior to that, was just getting really progressively weak. Got on our formula, and within less than 60 days she was walking again.

Dr. Weitz:            Wow, that’s a great story. In fact, probably a good story to end on.

Dr. Lewis:            Right.

Dr. Weitz:            I think we’re hitting the top of the hour. So tell our listeners and viewers how they can find out about your product.

Dr. Lewis:            Well, I’d be happy if anyone goes to drlewisnutrition.com to read more information about all the work that we’ve done describing the formulation, product reviews, testimonial videos, that would be the best source of information about all of our work. Of course, I don’t publish the full articles of our studies there. I don’t want to violate any copyright, but anybody could go to PubMed and search my name and you’ll pull up all of those articles as well. But I have, again, very good summaries of all the research. So just go to drlewisnutrition.com is the best source of information. That’s D-R with no period, L-E-W-I-S nutrition.com.

Dr. Weitz:            That’s great. Any other final thoughts you want to leave us with?

Dr. Lewis:            Well, again, I’d just like to say that for those of you who think sugars are bad, just don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. We’re talking about, if you can add a couple of grams per day of these polysaccharides to your life, man, you’re going to make a huge difference for yourself. And so just don’t prescribe to this notion that a sugar is a sugar because they’re not, they’re very different. And these sugars are very beneficial for us. And I’ve really kind of become a specialist in this. Of course, I still, general nutrition, supplementation of other things, obviously is important, daily activity. I mean, I’m about all that stuff and that’s what I do every day. But you can only, I don’t know about you, and I don’t pretend to know everything there is to know about nutrition. I think anybody who does comes across as a fraud because to me, the field is so massive, there’s just no possible way.

                                I don’t care if you’re the smartest person on the planet, you can’t possibly know everything there is to know about nutrition. So I try to stay in my lane of polysaccharides and maybe a couple of other things here and there. But really I think for me, just again, opening, if you’re so opposed to carbohydrate, just read our research and do your own research of other people around the world looking at these two particular polysaccharides about how much benefit they provide and how much of a loss it would be to you, your family, your friends, whoever, to not be open-minded to say, “Hey, maybe these things could help me too.”

Dr. Weitz:            We’ll just talk about polysaccharides. Don’t mention that they’re sugars.

Dr. Lewis:            Yes, exactly. Just polysaccharides, forget that sugar word.

Dr. Weitz:            Exactly. Thank you, Dr. Lewis.



Thank you for making it all the way through this episode of the Rational Wellness Podcast. For those of you who enjoy listening to the Rational Wellness Podcast, I would certainly appreciate it if you could go to Apple Podcasts or Spotify and give us a five star ratings and review. That way more people will discover the Rational Wellness Podcast.  And I wanted to let everybody know that I do have some openings for new patients so I can see you for a functional medicine consultation for specific health issues like gut problems, autoimmune diseases, cardiometabolic conditions, or for an executive health screen, and to help you promote longevity and take a deeper dive into some of those factors that can lead to chronic diseases along the way. And that usually means we’re going to do some more detailed lab work, stool testing, sometimes urine testing, and we’re going to look at a lot more details to get a better picture of your overall health from a preventative functional medicine perspective. So if you’re interested, please call my Santa Monica, Weitz Sports Chiropractic and Nutrition office at 310 395 3111, and we can set you up for a new consultation for functional medicine. I’ll talk to everybody next week.


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