IS THERE HOPE FOR GLENN BECK'S EYES?
Byron J. Richards, CCN
July 28, 2010
Struggling to maintain composure in front of 6,000 fans Glenn Beck disclosed that he had been diagnosed with a serious eye condition, macular dystrophy, a progressive genetic disorder that may lead to blindness. As he told his story he took a shot at health care reform, quipping that he “went to the best doctor I can find while I could still go to the best doctor I can find.” And sadly, all this best doctor that money can buy could tell him was that he would just have to wait and see what happens. At once, as he fought back his tears, Glenn Beck unwittingly became the symbol for millions of Americans, liberals and conservatives alike, who go to their doctor looking for solutions and leave in a humbled and hopeless frame of mind.
Glenn Beck has already turned to prayer for his hope, as would millions of Americans in a similar situation. But where are the healing doctors when they are needed? Sure you can pay a fortune for the Disney-World, high-tech medicine of today, but does that do more for anyone than the country doctor who used to have time to make house calls? The doctor whose mere presence instilled the hope that everything would now be fine. There is something terribly wrong in American medicine today, and it’s not just the cost.
Glenn Beck’s health problem, macular dystrophy, is not to be confused with the much more common cause of blindness in the United States, macular degeneration. It is a rare problem. In my 25 years on the front lines of clinical nutrition I have never seen a single person with the issue, while I have helped many with macular degeneration. Since Mr. Beck is unlikely to understand the technical nature of his problem I looked into it for him.
His problem involves his cornea, which is the major refractive structure of the outer part of the eye. This structure must hold water to provide cushioning to protect the eye while at the same time allowing light through in an unobstructed manner. A key layer of the cornea, called the corneal stroma, is developing clouds that block his vision. Scientists have identified the gene weakness involved, and the problem is considered essentially untreatable and progressive. Or is it?
The first clue that his diagnosis is atypical is that true macular dystrophy shows up early in life, as the eye structure is simply unable to maintain its integrity. So why does Mr. Beck all of a sudden have this problem show up at his age? Genes are pliable, never fixed in concrete. Gene-related problems that pop up at unexpected times tend to mean that other health problems have enabled a genetic weak spot to manifest as a medical problem. This is actually good news for Mr. Beck, as it means he has a much higher chance of keeping that weakness in check, possibly reversing the current situation or preventing it from worsening. Yes, there is a glimmer of hope.
The next step is to understand the nature of the problem. Scientists have done a fairly good job of defining how the problem presents itself. The corneal stroma is made up of something called keratin sulfate, a type of proteoglycan that is a mix of carbohydrate and protein that forms the tissue matrix of the cornea. In this case, it is highly sulfated enabling a negative charge on the structure so as to be able to hold water as cushioning in case your eye bumps into something. In macular dystrophy there is a genetic inability to synthesize keratin sulfate or the keratin sulfate that is produced is abnormal in structural integrity.
Keratin sulfate is something I happen to know quite a lot about, as it is also part of cartilage and other body tissues. I was using glucosamine as a dietary supplement before my peers, let along the general public, had any idea of its value in making proteoglycans and repairing connective tissues. I was the first to use supplemental low-molecular weight hyaluronic acid for joint repair. Hyaluronic acid is the backbone spine of a proteoglycan.
In the nutritional recovery of health we always start with basics and then move on from there. Unfortunately for Mr. Beck, because his problem is rare, there is not a great deal of science demonstrating how nutrition can help him. However, there is enough science to give suggestions that have no potential for doing any harm and a logical possibility of providing benefit – especially compared to the wait-and-see advice of health professionals who admittedly don’t know how to help.
Lumican and keratocan are the primary keratin sulfates in the cornial stroma. Without adequate lumican then collagen strands within the cornea are too thick and too close together. The absence of lumican causes a loss of structural integrity and is the cause of the cloudiness that results in blindness. In Mr. Beck’s case if he had a true gene problem it would have been present earlier in his life. It is more likely that he has the gene problem as a weak spot that is now manifesting. This gives him hope that if he can restore lumican functionality and promote better structural integrity of the connective tissue matrix and related collagen, then he can improve his situation. Of course, no known drugs can do this. Nutrition can.
There is scientific evidence to show that DHA, the important omega 3 typically from fish oil, can increase the gene expression that directly enhances the production of lumican. DHA is the most lacking nutrient in the American diet and is almost always lacking in anyone who is overweight. While there are no human studies to prove that DHA can help atypical macular dystrophy, there is certainly no downside to trying. Typical doses likely to help range from 1000 mgs of DHA per day up to 3000 mg per day.
We’ve known since the days of scurvy the vital nature of vitamin C to form healthy collagen in connective tissue. A study clearly shows that vitamin C is needed for lumican production and integrity of the collagen structure of the cornea. Vitamin C and other antioxidants are typically low in any overweight person. I would suggest 3,000 – 5,000 mgs. per day along with a mixture of other antioxidants that act synergistically with vitamin C. In particular, I would also suggest up to 300 mg of grape seed extract. While there are no grape seed extract and lumican studies, the nutrient is well-documented for its ability to increase the strength and structural integrity of injured collagen strands.
These basic suggestions are backed by science. Of course, I am not giving medical advice for the treatment of a disease. I am giving some simple tips for nutrition to support eye structure. In this same vein Mr. Beck could do much more, taking supplements like hyaluronic acid and glucosamine that are known to enhance the formation of all types of proteoglycans.
In addition to basic nutrition Mr. Beck needs to figure out what is punching his genetic weak spot in the nose. These would be changes that were going on prior to the onset or flare up of his problem. Such changes would need to have a plausible link to his problem. In reality, this could be any kind of increased stress. Oftentimes, it could be the side effect of a medication he may be taking. Since I know little about his life or medical issues let me throw out some examples so you get the idea.
As a recovering alcoholic he has a much higher likelihood of having a low-grade chronic Candida albicans infection, typically residing in his digestive tract or sinuses. Based on his on-air obsession with sweet junk food the likelihood he has a significant Candida problem is high. Sugar feeds Candida. It is not uncommon for someone having a Candida flare up to go on a sugar-eating binge, especially when under stress, resulting in aggravating a lower-level problem into a flared up condition. There is science to show that a Candida albicans infection within the eye can drastically interfere with the production of lumican. We also know that even if the infection is not in his eye Candida albicans anywhere in his body can send messages to the human immune system and seriously disturb function. This is how digestive Candida albicans causes asthma.
Maybe Mr. Beck has been cutting his sleep short and running himself ragged. The lack of deeper REM sleep which involves rapid eye movements can significantly disturb the health of the cornea, especially in someone who has his problem or is prone to it. This problem either is or isn’t happening, but if it is then it should be solved.
Perhaps he is taking one of the drugs typically given to overweight men at mid life such as blood pressure medication or erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra. Blood pressure pills could easily reduce the flow of nutrition to his eyes, a problem that would slowly worsen the longer he was on the medication. ED pills, which can produce friendly nitric oxide (eNOS) that relaxes the vascular system can just as easily produce hostile nitric oxide (iNOS) capable of easily damaging the eye. This is why ED pills have vision loss as a side effect. If he has a genetic weak spot then excessive iNOS could easily aggravate the problem, as would also be the case in a low oxygen eye environment induced by blood pressure medication. Doctors are in denial over the massive health-damaging side effects of the medications routinely given out. If Mr. Beck showed up with these or similar medications at his appointment then the doctor is likely to yawn and discount them as a possible contributing factor even though it is often drugs that cause genetic weak spots to manifest.
My point is that it takes some detective work to figure out what is punching Mr. Beck’s genetic weak spot in the nose. I’m sure, nine times out of ten, Mr. Beck, as is true of any patient, could describe exactly what triggered his problems. If only health professionals listened and had the intelligence to understand and take corrective action.
Whether or not anything I have suggested would fix or solve Mr. Beck’s problems is unknown. I am certainly not offering a treatment or miracle cure. I am offering common sense. And from common sense springs hope. And from hope springs the innate power of healing. While hope has been denigrated in modern science to the placebo effect, it is one of the most powerful healing forces in nature. Any physician that cannot provide realistic hope to a patient is a physician not worth having.
For the record, I’d give the same health tips to President Obama if he had this problem, as my agenda is not political. I do have a very open agenda, and that is the promotion of health freedom for the American public. I am dedicated to explaining the absolute value of nutrition and natural health not only to maintain good health but in the prevention of disease and as part of the process of helping any disease.
Americans should understand that health freedom is the leading indicator of freedom in general. Governments like to control a population’s health, especially their mental health. This is true of Republicans and Democrats, as I have clearly explained in my 2006 book, Fight for Your Health; Exposing the FDA’s Betrayal of America.
Glenn beck would love the historical examples. In Germany, a century ago, medical practitioners worked side by side with alternative healers in what was known as “the freedom to cure.” In Hitler’s rise to power alternative health was one of the first things he got rid of, replacing it with a fixation on mental health and psychiatric control of the minds of the German people. Today in America, we have extensive overuse of psychiatric medication in adults and children.
The FDA doesn’t care about such problems, rather the FDA, as a tool of whatever administration is in power, consistently works to suppress knowledge of health options to the American people. The Republican FDA does this to stamp out competition for the Big Pharma sickness industry and the Democrats do it to create a herd of pliable sheeple that will follow any public health decree. It is little wonder that leading health freedom attorney, Jonathan Emord, has called for the end to the FDA and replacing it with a humane, safe, and void-of-vested-interests free market system of drug approval.
In addition to its revolving door with the industry it is supposed to be regulating, the unelected bureaucrats at the FDA actively work against all Americans trying to sell out American sovereignty and subject Americans to foreign agreements at the expense of health freedom. The two most egregious examples are the FDA’s Trilateral Cooperation Charter, the health part of the effort of our government to create a new North American Union and harmonize us with the repressive freedom-lacking laws of Canada and Mexico. And then there is the similar international effort called Codex, in which the FDA actively lobbies against the wishes of the American people for natural health options and health freedom.
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Invariably the misguided FDA works against the wishes of the majority of Americans and in the direction of making U.S. citizens conform to business interests of other countries. The FDA is central to the health problems in America, acting as a gatekeeper to the profits of industry. Example after example shows that Big Pharma could care less about the health damage they cause, other than having to pay liability claims. This is not a new problem, it has been going on for a century and Americans have paid a dear price in terms of lost quality of health and over 100,000 casualties per year.
Fundamental to the erosion of freedom in this country is the health-related loss of hope. Yes Mr. Beck, you have more than a fighting chance.