Hyaluronic Acid

Chitin’s Powerful Anti-inflammatory Properties

Shrimp and lobsters make their own anti-inflammatory molecules. That has scientists very excited. In a press release posted last week by the College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University, officials announced that they had received a $380,000 National Institute of Health grant to investigate just how the marine medicine could be used to eliminate inflammatory diseases in humans.

The crabby chemical that is the center of attention is called a chitin. It’s a key constituent of the shells of various oceans animals including crayfish, shrimp, krill, and barnacles. It is one of the most abundant molecules in all of nature, second only to cellulose. And, as it turns out, in addition to being abundant (and cheap), chitin has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Properties that are so impressive, that the natural molecule found in so many crust critters is being studied in hopes of finding a pharmaceutical treatment for inflammatory diseases including Irritable Bowel Syndrome, arthritis, and heart disease. And it’s not just shellfish that contain this fascinating medicinal molecule. You can find chitin in the hard shells of insects as well as in the cell walls of most fungi and algae.

Chitin's Powerful Anti-inflammatory PropertiesChitin is made up of repeating pieces of sugar to which it owes its interesting medicinal properties. Actually the sugar isn’t any old glucose. It’s a “specialty” glucose that scientists call a “proteo-glycan” (protein-sugar) because it has a little chunk of amino acid attached to it. The little proteanaceous piece turns the ordinarily “one trick pony” glucose, which is basically only good as a source of energy, into glucoseamine, a sort of “super glucose”, that provides structure and support for everything from bones to butterfly wings and has therapeutic properties to boot. Arthritis sufferers, in particular, have exploited the healing powers of glucosamine for decades.

The glucosamine pieces that make up chitin are a type of glucosamine called NA-glucosamine (NAG). The NA component makes this type of glucosamine especially effective at healing and soothing. This is really what has scientists and drug companies so excited. In addition to NAG’s calming and quenching qualities, it contains the precursors for hyaluronic acid, one of the most important of all growth and repair and anti-inflammatory molecules in the body. NAG is especially effective at helping take the edge off intestinal pain and discomfort associated with various digestive ailments.

If you don’t want to wait for some drug company to patent a molecule, and sell it to you for 20 dollars a dose, to enjoy the benefits of crustacean chitin, use glucosamine supplements. If you’re looking to heal the gut get some NAG. They’re available in health food stores or on the internet. They are very inexpensive and both are completely non-toxic.

Food can be an especially good source of NAG, especially homemade chicken soup. The knobby cartilage on chicken bones is a great source of NAG as well as other substances like amino acids, chondroitin, and collagen that can all contribute joint health benefits. You can save shrimp shells, put in a tea ball and let them steep in the soup. Make sure you throw in some lime or lemon; a little acid is required to dissolve the NAG into the soup. Aloe is also a good source of NAG, as is Noni. Algaes, a great source of everything good and healthy, also contain appreciable amounts of NAG.

  • NAG can improve the health of your skin. It can prevent wrinkles, improve sun damage, and has topical moisturizing benefits too.
  • If you’re looking for a blend of joint rebuilding glucosamine AND gut soothing, skin supporting NAG use chitosan, a chitin-derivative that is composed of both glucosamine and NA glucosamine.
  • Chitosan is great for your hair. Break open a capsule; dissolve it in water, mix, and let sit until it forms a clear gel which you can apply to your tresses as a hair mask. Upon rinsing, it will leave your hair soft and smooth. Its molecules are positively charged, and they can bind to negatively charged protein on the hair cuticle giving it conditioning and strengthening properties too!
  • Glucosamine and NAG contain glucose, so if you’re a diabetic, taking too much may throw off your blood sugar a bit.
Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Natural Moisture Factor for Skin

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Mother Nature is nothing if not abundant. Just think of how many birds and bees and blades of grass exist in the natural world. Yet while Lady Gaia epitomizes generosity at the same time she doesn’t waste her wealth. That’s why plants grown with artificial fertilizers and pesticides produce less anti-oxidant and other medicinal and nutritional compounds than those grown organically, free of artificial growth inducing and protective chemicals. They simply don’t need to. Because they’re being protected artificially, they produce less of their own defensive molecules, which form the bulk of what we call phyto-nutrients.

Natural Moisture Factor for SkinLikewise with the skin. Under ordinary conditions, the skin, when healthy, makes its own moisturizing chemicals. Elements including fats (especially something called squalane, which is has many structural similarities to Vitamin A), fatty acids and vitamins as well as water trapping sugars and proteins form a biochemical complex scientists call the Natural Moisture Factor (NMF) which keeps water trapped in the skin. But if you use a typical standard issue moisturizing cream or lotion, which is composed of wax and oils that function to seal in moisture, the less NMF your skin will need to produce. That means, the more moisturizer you use on your skin, the less natural moisture factors your skin will need to produce and ultimately the drier your skin will be. In other words, the best way to assure yourself of needing a moisturizing product, is to use one!

The best strategy for keeping skin moist and hydrated is to make sure that you’re ingesting nutrients and raw materials that help the skin make the Natural Moisture Factor. Your diet should include plenty of fatty foods including olives, sardines, salmon and coconut oil. One of the quickest ways to create “xerodermia” (dry skin) is to go on a low-fat or fat free diet. Essential fatty acids, so-called Omega-6s and Omega-3s can help too. 10 to 20 grams of Omega-6 and 3 to 6 grams of Omega-3 are probably enough. You can get what you need with a daily dose of 6-12 capsules of a quality EFA product like Youngevity’s Ultimate EFAs or 2-3 tablespoonsful of a nutritional EFA oil such as Udo’s Blend. And don’t forget about Vitamin A. As anyone who has used Accutane (which works by suppressing Vitamin A activity) can tell you, depriving the body of this key vitamin will guarantee skin dryness. Use 20,000 international units a day. Make sure you’re getting quality protein too, especially from whey and egg both of which contain the amino acids that form a critical part of the NMF.

Topically, your best bet is to use substances that are already in the skin. These are more likely to be absorbed and utilized and at the same they are less likely to cause a suppressant effect on the NMF. Topical squalane which is typically derived from shark liver or olives is wonderful, although it may be a bit heavy for some. Vitamin A and a special form of Vitamin C with a fatty consistency can be very effective as well. Hyaluronic acid has potent water-trapping properties and can be an effective hydrating substance, and likewise for long-chain sugar molecules that are found in seaweed, aloe and noni. You can purchase dried seaweed products like Nori or Kelp or Kombu and hydrate them with some aloe or noni juice and make your own moisture restoring mask.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Skin Care

Osteoporosis, Blood Sugar and Insulin

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Osteoporosis is a textbook example of degenerative disease and affects nearly one out of 8 people in this country, mostly women. Degenerative disease is the leading cause of illness in this country, and a condition that affects nearly 70 percent of Americans. While awareness of the condition has increased dramatically over the last few years, which has seemed to lower the incidence of this potentially life threatening disease, it continues to escalate steadily in this country, and around the world.


By James Heilman, MD, via Wikimedia Commons

These days, even the most nutritionally obtuse person can tell you that taking calcium supplements can help strengthen the bone. More sophisticated aware nutrition minded folks may tell you about Magnesium and Vitamin D, and a so-called expert may even mention the importance of Vitamin K, zinc, and protein.
However, one of most significant keys to dealing with osteoporosis involves blood sugar and insulin, and hardly anyone ever addresses the importance of these two key health markers. Yet, in an article published in Annals of Endocrinology from December 2012, researchers bluntly remarked that “Diabetic osteoporosis (OP) is increasingly recognized as a significant co-morbidity of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2-DM)” , and further stated ”…elderly patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus are prone to develop OP. The insufficiency of insulin, the decreased insulin sensitivity….is important causes for OP in the patients with type 2 diabetes.”

Dysglycemia (a fancy way of saying messed up blood sugar) is tragic, and pervasive biochemical pathology with involvement in almost all degenerative disease. But, because blood sugar and insulin can be manipulated and controlled by our food choices, for better or worse, this is actually good news. In other words, if we change the way we eat we can change our blood sugar too!

And, as far as osteoporosis goes, it means one of the most important things you can do to keep bones from dissolving (which is essentially what osteoporosis is) is to stop eating the pasta! And the grains, and bread, and the cereal, and the fruit juice, and all the other blood sugar busting foods that form such a significant part of the Standard American Diet. And It wouldn’t hurt to throw in sugar metabolizing nutrients either. Alpha lipoic acid 200mg-400mg is a great blood sugar stabilizing supplement. Magnesium, zinc, and Vitamin A can help too. And then there are the B-Vitamins, best added to water and sipped on throughout the day.

Of course there’s more to building bone than just controlling sugar. Even if you just want to prevent osteoporosis, in addition to calcium, there’s lots of great under-appreciated and underutilized nutritional supplements that will help build and strengthen bone. Check out my favorites below. While by no means complete, it represents a great place to start if you’re looking to start an anti-osteoporosis nutritional program.

1. Protein – especially whey and egg. Bone soup is a good way to get bone building protein too.
2. Magnesium – the glycinate form is great. Use 1200mg a day.
3. Vitamin D3 – cod liver oil and adequate sun exposure (maybe 10-15 minutes a day 3 or 4 days a week) are the best ways to get this important nutrient.
4. Vitamin K2 – 5,000mcg daily. It’s a calcium magnet that helps harden bones.
5. Chromium Picolinate – helps stabilize blood sugar – 200mcg after meals.
6. B-Complex – use a powder form (Sanitas B-complex Power Blend or Youngevity’s Beyond Tangy Tangerine are both good sources) and add to water and sip all day.
7. Essential Fatty Acids – Udo’s Blend or Youngevity’s ultimate EFA caps are both good sources.
8. Vitamin C – Bones are 30% collagen, and you can’t make collagen without Vitamin C.-Take 5,000 to 10,000 mg a day.
9. Silica – Abkit Liquid Silica Gel is a good source, take maybe 1-2 tablespoons a day.
10. Hyaluronic acid capsules – 100 to 200mg a day. Your nails and hair will benefit too!
11. MSM (Sulfur) – 1000 mg a day. Extra benefit: it’s great for liver detox.
12. Vitamin A – Take 20,000 i.u daily. I call it Vitamin Anabolic. Important for building bone tissue and protein utilization. Take it with fatty foods or meals.
13. Zinc Picolinate 50mg a day – works synergistically with Vitamin A. It’s the anabolic mineral.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Connective Tissue & Raisin Bread

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben


-Connective tissue is one of 4 main tissues in the body.  The others are nerve, muscle and epithelial tissue.

-Connective tissue is made up of cells and a matrix that is akin the raisins and bread.

-Most significant connective tissue cells are called blast cells and the manufacture the connective tissue matrix they are embedded in.

-These blast produced substances are fibers which provide structural support and polysaccharides that function as shock absorbers.

-Many health issues such as autoimmunity are manifestations of connective tissue breakdown.  So are the general signs of aging including bone fragility, muscle weakness, wrinkles, and thinning skin.


The human body is made up of 4 systems.  Biologist’s call these systems “tissues”, they’re made up of cells and they in turn comprise everything that makes up a living body.  These tissue systems include nerve tissue which forms the nervous system, epithelial tissue which forms skin hair, nails, glands and all surfaces, skin and within and muscle tissue which makes up the muscular substance of the body.

Connective Tissue & Raisin BreadThe 4th and most abundant tissue system is called connective tissue (CT) and boy is this stuff cool.  Connective tissue is not only the most abundant tissue in the human body, it’s the most abundant biological tissue on the planet.  In a sense connective tissue is like raisin bread.  It’s made up cells and “stuff” which can be thought of as analogous to raisins (cells) and bread (“stuff”).  Of course in the body we have various types of raisins/cells and a matrix that is much more complex then bread, still, simplistic as it may be, this practical kitchen pantry visual can give a rough idea of the structure of connective tissue.

Of the numerous types of cells in connective tissue by far the most important are the blast cells, which are responsible for the manufacturing of connective tissue.  These cells are called by various names, depending on where in the body they’re found.  The prototypical connective tissue blast cell is called the fibroblast. The fibroblasts are the connective tissue workhorse cells.  They produce fibers that keep epithelial and muscle tissues strong, elastic and well supported and slimy mucus-like substances called polysaccharides.  The only tissue system that does not include connective is the nervous system. While surrounded with CT on its perimeter the nervous system as its own specialized version of CT called “glia”.

Connective tissue can be though as matrix that holds the body’s structures and organs in place.  Because the vast majority of the body is connective tissue, understanding what it is and how to maintain its strength integrity is critical for keeping the body healthy and vital.  The aging process is largely marked by accelerated breakdown and sluggish repair of connective tissue.  And because connective is derived from processes that occur in blasts, feeding and nourishing and as well as detoxifying these critical hard working manufacturing cells is job #1 for healing, repair and anti-aging.

As noted above, connective tissue blast cells produce two major classes of substances that form the bread/matrix that they, in raisin-like fashion are embedded in.   Biologist’s call these two substances fiber and slime. OK, not really.  The fiber component is made up of what is called collagen along with some elastin and a smattering of a third substance called reticulin.  The gooey slimy substance is called polysaccharide whose wet mucoid nature is a manifestation of its high water absorbing capacity.  The slimy nature of polysaccharide water-trapping properties allows it function as very efficient biological shock absorber.

For most connective tissues the fibers predominate, but in the case of a very specialized type of connective tissue, fibers are scarce (or they should be, a harbinger of a disease and an early demise  is  an excessive amount of blood fiber formation) and the wet polysaccharides rule.  This specialized connective tissue is basically liquid or gel-like and it’s called the blood.  Yes, that’s right; even though it’s rarely thought of as such, the blood is a (connective) tissue.

Almost all health challenges, including arthritis, vasculitis, cellulitis and heart disease have a connective tissue connection.  CT is home to cells of the immune system, so connective tissue is often a target of autoimmune disease.  And because of its role in supporting the body, the classic wrinkling, shrinking and shriveling effects of old age as well as bone and muscle weakness and fragility are all likely to occur as blast cells slow down the connective tissue matrix degenerates.

Because of the relationship between connective tissue and the appearance of aging, collagen and other CT structures are often the target of advertising and marketing claims for various anti-aging and beauty aids such as skin firming products and wrinkle creams and cellulite wraps.  Yet unbeknownst to consumers who spend billions of dollars a year on such potions and lotions and pills in a largely futile attempt to restore a youthful appearance , the key to staying and looking young, vital  and healthy is to make sure connective tissue cells are being fed, oxygenated and kept free of toxicity.  Below are my Top 12 strategies and tools for building strong connective tissue.

Now C-1000 w/Rose Hips
Now C-1000 w/Rose Hips

– Vitamin C (as Ascorbic Acid) 1.0 g (1,000 mg) 1670%

– Rose Hips Powder (Rosae pseudofructus) (seed) 25 mg

NOW Vitamin C 1000 mg Sustained Release delivers gradual amounts of this powerful antioxidant.
Consistent cell protection and free radical fighting.

Now C-1000 w/Rose Hips, 250 Tablets

#1 Vitamin C 1000-5000mg a day – the key that turns on the production collagen fibers the strongest most connective tissue substance and responsible for its  steel like tensile strength.

#2 Glycine (1-2 grams a day)  – the primary amino acid in connective tissue, glycine provides  the firmness of CT.  While not essential (the body makes its own glycine) increasing intake through diet and supplementation can assure a steady supply.  Whey protein is a great source of glycine.  And straight glycine supplements are also easily available via health store or the internet.

#3 Hyaluronic acid (100-200mg a day) – this under-appreciated complex sugar molecule contributes to detoxification and provides building blocks for healing soothing and growth and repair of connective tissue.

#4 Sulfur (MSM1000-3000mg a day) provides key support structure element for connective tissue.  As nutritional content and consumption of sulfur veggies (onions, garlic, shallots, broccoli, cauliflower) containing declined rates of osteoporosis increased.

#5 Creatine Monohydrate (1 teaspoonful 3 or 4 times week, after workouts) – tripeptide (3 amino acids) that support blast energy and structure of bone and connective tissue.

#6 Gelatin (1 teaspoonful to 1 tablespoonful in 8 oz. of water once a day- source of connective tissue building amino acids.  Soothes digestive tract inflammation for improved absorption of nutrients.

#7 Eat protein (at least ½ gram per day per pound of body weight)– connective tissue is made up mostly of protein.  Eating enough protein assures a constant supply of these amino acids.  Look for sulfur containing protein (meat seafood, whey, egg).  Dairy and egg protein also supply growth factors which can stimulate the production of a thick robust CT.

#8 Bone soup –this delicious traditional food is a spectacular immune booster (Jewish penicillin) and it’s glycine and protein  co0ntent are substantial easy to absorb.  Eat liberally, look for the recipe on pharmacistben.com.

#9 Practice deep breathing techniques – Healthy oxygenation slows down secretion of bone busting cortisol and improves energy production.  Lung muscles also propel lymphatic fluid promoting detoxification.

#10 Exercise – acute physical stress and weight bearing pressure stimulate blast cells production.

#11 Stay away from pro-inflammatory foods –This includes processed foods and refined sugar but food allergens including beans and veggies can all have anti bone building effects too. Inflammation promotes degeneration and slows down anabolic (building) activity of blast cells.

#12 Correct digestive health issues – minerals like calcium, magnesium and zinc and protein all key players is connective tissue health require healthy digestive functioning.  Taking bile salts, digestive enzymes and apple cider vinegar with meals can improve absorption of connective tissue building nutrients.

Raisin bread is a bread that contains raisins. Its invention has been attributed to Henry David Thoreau. It is often classified as a sweet bread and is sometimes combined with cinnamon sugar. Served toasted or as a dessert, the bread is commonly found in the United States, Northern Europe, Germany and Australia. [Read more: From Wikipedia]

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health