A very good friend of mine with a knowledge of “Natural Medicine” is taking ASTAXANTHIN and was feeling so strong and healthful, and euphoric, that he asked me to research astaxanthin and give him my opinion.
I am a skeptical person, like most experienced docs, when it comes to “miracle drugs.” We have seen hundreds of them come and go and there has never been a miracle. I frequent a website where only licensed physicians are permitted access. Whenever a doctor mentions a new supplement he is greeted with a wall of good humored sarcasm.
Little by little the hard questions are asked. We all know our biochemistry, physiology and pharmacology and we all know the dangers of all supplements and all drugs.
Remember, there are thousands of practicing physicians being consulted. They do not buy claims from money making firms or from advocates of a new supplement from which they hope to make millions.
The sarcasm from doctors talking to other doctors can be brutal. These are very intelligent, very educated men and women who have seen people die and suffer. Their pity has disappeared or they could not survive under the conditions of “The Front Line.”
I did not ask about astaxanthin because I did not want to be the butt of a stream of sarcastic remarks.
(BTW, Dr. Mercola made a video on astaxanthin which you might wish to watch. He also sells it as a product on his website.
Instead, I went to the scientific journals, such as Pub Med and Medline.
WHAT IS ASTAXANTHIN?
ASTAXANTHIN is a carotinoid, which a part of a larger group called phytochemicals (plant-chemicals) called “Terpenes.”
All we know from the above is how astaxanthin is classified. We know nothing about its properties. However, from its classification as a terpene we can say that it is related to SQUALENE which is a long chained hydrocarbon which ultimately forms a steroid hormone.
Steroid hormones are fundamental to human survival, as they are necessary for the formation of cortisone, the anti-inflamatory basic hormone and to the formation of sexual hormones such as testosterone. See if you can recognize the relationships between SQUALENE, CORTISONE and TESTOSTERONE.
Simplified version of the steroid synthesis pathway with the intermediates isopentenyl pyrophosphate (IPP), dimethylallyl pyrophosphate (DMAPP), geranyl pyrophosphate (GPP) and squalene shown. Some intermediates are omitted.
To me, the similarities in the chemical structure of these three related compounds are very striking, but I know from experience, that most people on Planet Earth are “Tone Deaf” when it comes to chemistry.
The conclusion, from a chemical point of view, is that Squalene is related strongly to Cortisone, an anti-inflamatory hormone and to Testosterone, the primary male hormone, and since astaxanthin is related to Squalene, it may be a precursor to these hormones.
However, that is insufficient to clarify all the properties claimed for astaxanthin.
The term “Antioxidant” is utilized millions of times daily in the Internet. Yet few people know what the term “Antioxidant” means.
WHAT IS AN ANTI-OXIDANT?
Again chemistry. In order to understand “anti-oxidation” we must know what is “Oxidation.”
The simplest way of understanding “Oxidation” is through watching the formation of H2O water.
Each Hydrogen atom has a Positive Proton and a Negative electron. The electron is located in a field high above the nucleus. It is circulating the nucleus like the planet earth circles the globe.
Like gravity, there is an electromagnetic force that ties the electron to the Proton and the nucleus. If another atom or molecule tears the electron out of its path, energy, in the form of heat will be released.
It the atom that pulls away the electron is Oxygen, it will need two hydrogen atoms, because Oxygen has two empty paths which can be filled with electrons. When Oxygen approaches two Hydrogen atoms, the situation between the three is unstable.
In our Universe, stability is preferable to instability. This is a statistical fact.
Thus, the situation of two Hydrogen atoms with One oxygen atom is unstable and the result will be that the two electrons from the two hydrogen atoms will attach themselves to the Oxygen molecule forming a stable molecule called Water.
The entire process is called Oxidation.
Since water is stable, we might say that the life of the three molecules has ended. If we are dealing with millions of cells in our bodies, each cell that becomes fully oxidized no longer functions as a young cell. In essence, aging is nothing more than the oxidation of our cells, turning them into stones! Enough stones and you are a stone monument– or dead.
That is why the scientific world wants to prevent oxidation. Science knows that if enough cells are oxidized, the body, as a totality, will be older and older.
To prevent this process of oxidation, we introduce molecules into our bodies which are called “Anti-Oxidants.” These molecules prevent “Oxidation” by absorbing the electrons that are moving to form a stable, dead, molecule.
In order to determine how effective our “Anti-oxidant” is we simply introduce a known quantity of the anti-oxidant into a reaction where oxidation is occurring and measure the results. The more the resultant compound is reduced, the stronger the anti-oxidant.
In the example given, if we mix hydrogen and oxygen, we can expect a specific quantity of water. If after the anti-oxidant is introduced,
and it absorbs some of the electrons, less water should be produced.
The reader should easily understand that many errors can occur in this process, both accidentally and intentionally. When you read claims by marketing firms of new products, reduce the claims by as much as 100 percent. The scientific community has heard too many claims of miraculous cures for new products over the last few decades.
There are NEW natural products on this planet. Billions of intelligent and observant people have been testing every plant that grows for health benefits. This testing has been going on for thousands of years. It is unlikely that anything novel and miraculous is available foe use by humans in the 21st Century.
THE SEARCH FOR THE MIRACLE DRUG
There are millions of “anti-oxidants” which are found in the plant world.
The search for “anti-oxidants” is ongoing, and when a new one is found, the discovery is trumped to the press like the discovery of a giant diamond. “This” is a miracle! “That” is a miracle!
Really? These “discoveries” are just as real as Obama’s predictions that the U.S. is on its way to a glorious new economic future.