The Power of the Prostaglandin

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Perhaps the most important chemicals in the body are a group of compounds that almost no one has heard of. They’re called prostaglandins (they were first discovered in the prostate gland) and they’re the most prominent of the hormone family known as eicosanoids. It would be impossible to overstate the significance of these diverse fat soluble biochemicals. In fact it would be no hyperbole to call prostaglandins (and eicosanoids), perhaps the most critical biological substances in all of biochemistry, human or otherwise.


By Jfdwolff, via Wikimedia Commons

Prostaglandins (PGs) are hormone like substances that affect every single biological cell system. In much the same fashion as hormones, they are involved in initiating molecular activity. However, unlike the typical so-called endocrine hormones which are made in glands and travel to various parts of the body, prostaglandins remain localized to the cellular areas they are secreted from. For this reason, they are sometime referred to as “tissue hormones”.

There are about 12 prostaglandins contained in three main classes, which are distinguished by the type of fatty acid they are derived from. Series 1 prostaglandins are anti-inflammatory and relaxing and are involved in circulatory and immune health and are derived from Omega 6 fats. Series 2 prostaglandins oppose those found in Series 1. They initiate muscle contraction and the inflammatory response and promote wound healing, blood clotting and cortisol secretion. They are derived from arachidonic acid, which is found in many animal fats. And, then there are the Series 3 prostaglandins, which have effects similar to PGs found in Series 1, are formed from Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Most nutritionists emphasize the health benefits of increasing the synthesis of prostaglandins found in series 1 and 3 while decreasing those from series 2.

Because of their wide ranging functionalities in biology, prostaglandin imbalances can be a causative factor in almost all clinical issues. This is most especially evident in the case of inflammation which is almost always a component of the disease process. Some of the more common health maladies associated with prostaglandin metabolism include fever, arthritis, immune and allergy issues, diarrhea, heart disease, headaches, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, and almost all skin problems. Keloid scarring is one of the more unpleasant cutaneous manifestations of prostaglandin imbalance. Even tumor production has a significant prostaglandin component. On the bright side, there isn’t a disease symptom that cannot be improved by addressing dysregulation of this fascinating class of fatty substances.

As the medical treatment of choice for addressing prostaglandin dysfunction, aspirin, acetaminophen and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and COX-2 inhibitors have become the most widely used drugs in the world, but there are effective nutritional options. In fact, there are two powerful strategies for improving prostaglandin chemistry, both involving the fatty system of the body. First, it’s very important to be supplementing with Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). That’s because Series 1 and 3 prostaglandins are derived directly from EFAs. There are two main classes of essential fatty acids, so called- omega 3 and omega-6. As described above, they are both required for healthy prostaglandin synthesis, and while no one really knows how much EFA you need, suffice it to say, everyone should be using a balanced supplement. Secondly, fat absorption needs to be addressed. Symptoms of fat malabsorbtion include digestive discomfort after fatty meals, bloating, gas, diarrhea and fatty stools. If any of these are present, make sure you’re taking probiotics and lecithin and digestive enzymes that have bile salts all of which can improve the uptake of EFAs.

Then there are co-factors required for effective prostaglandin dynamics. Patients confronting prostaglandin-driven inflammatory pain symptoms(and all inflammatory pain symptoms are prostaglandin-driven) may want to consider taking at least a couple of grams of Vitamin C every day as well as 400 i.u. of Vitamin E and generous amounts of the B-complex, ideally dissolved in water. The mineral magnesium may also be beneficial. Most people could benefit by taking at 1000mg of magnesium daily as the glycinate or malate salts.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Fat Malabsorption Syndrome

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben


  • Fat Malabsorption will accelerate the aging process.
  • Disturbances after eating fatty meals or a history of gall bladder problems, liver or colon disease can be indicative of fat malabsorption.
  • Everyone can benefit by improving fat absorption.
  • Helpful supplements include lipase, pancreatin, bile salts, lecithin and choline.
  • These can be especially important for nerve and brain health.

One of the most underappreciated causes of aging and degenerative disease is Fat Malabsorption Syndrome. If you are dealing with any chronic breakdown disease where the body is progressively degrading and not healing and/or you are suffering from digestive distress after eating fatty foods, consider yourself a candidate for this ominous and often undiagnosed condition. This is especially true if you are sans gall bladder or have a history of liver, pancreatic or colon disease. And even if you have no obvious symptoms or disease, paying attention to fat absorption is a key part of any anti-aging protocol.

Helps Fat MalabsorptionIt wouldn’t hurt any of us to be using fat absorption supplements, starting off with digestive enzymes, specifically lipase, which is a generic term for a class of enzymes that dissolves fat. It’s found in pancreatin (available as a supplement) which is a group of enzymes that is made by the pancreas. These fat absorbing enzymes can improve overall health not only digestion. While they’re obviously important for the digestion of fats, they are also play in important part in the biochemistry of cell membranes and inflammation. Folks with arthritis may get tremendous benefits from pancreatin enzyme supplements as well as ordinary digestive enzymes. They can help thin the blood too.

Bile salts can help improve fat absorption. You’ll find these in most quality digestive enzyme supplements, or you can purchase them on their own.

And don’t forget about lecithin which a powerful nutritional supplement that is critical for the health of the brain and nervous system in addition to being important for the liver and fat absorption. Bile, the body’s superstar fat dissolving liquid, is largely composed of lecithin, the same stuff you can buy in a health food store. Most lecithin is derived from soy, a major GMO crop, but you can use rice or sunflower lecithin which are available via the internet (Organic Rice Lecithin, and Sunflower Lecithin). Food sources of lecithin include sprouts, peanuts, cauliflower, cabbage and eggs (the word “lecithin” comes from the Greek term for egg yolk). Lecithin is available as a powder or as a liquid. The liquid, is syrupy and thick and has a stronger taste while the powder is more concentrated and purified although a bit more expensive. Both go great in smoothies where lecithin’s emulsification properties will make your smoothie more “smooth”. Adding a raw egg to your smoothie is great way to get lecithin. You can also get lecithin capsules made are with the syrup. Lecithin really ups the nutritional value of all fats and fatty vitamins and will improve your body’s ability to assimilate these key building nutrients.

If you are trying to improve fat absorption you’d be wise to make sure your getting enough choline too. Eggs are a really good source of choline. Choline is a really fascinating nutrient. Its super important for the liver, can help diabetics process sugar and it’s is involved in the construction of important cell structures. Choline helps turn fats into something called phospholipids which make up cell membranes, the ultra-thin covering of cells. Cell membranes function as little computer chips. They are the brain of a cell and their information processing properties are dependent on phospholipids. Using choline to improve phospholipid production may provide support for anyone dealing with nerve and brain health issues including ALS, Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. They can be helpful for memory and learning too; almost all brain formulas on the market include phospholipids (lecithin is largely composed of phospholipids). As with lecithin, choline supplementation can positively impact fat absorption.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health