Remedial steps

Cutting Edge


Effecting a reduction of oxidative stress in polymyositis

A major cause of muscular damage in the myopathies is Oxidative Stress.

Many articles show the role played by oxidative stress in magnifying the problems in various of the myopathies. Some authors even suggest it as a causative basis.
  • For example "Oxidative stress may be the fundamental basis of many of the structural, functional and biochemical changes characteristic of the inherited muscular dystrophies in animals and humans." (Murphy, Kehrer 2002) [1.]
  • "Enhanced expression of NOS with production of nitric oxide may contribute to oxidative stress mediating muscle fiber damage and muscle fiber necrosis representing the predominant cell death mechanism in myositis." (Tews, Goebel 1998) [2.]
  • Another study in the Journal Muscle and Nerve shows a positive relationship between oxidative stress and muscle wasting. (Moylan, Reid. 2007) [3.]
  • An article that discusses the effect of oxidative stress on the Jo-1/HisRS target is here.

I believe these studies and others similar establish that oxidative stress has a damaging effect on muscle cells in various of the myopathies including polymyositis, and that minimizing oxidative stress may help alleviate syptoms and damage caused by free radicals.

Oxidative Stress is reduced by increasing intracellular levels of glutathione

  • Glutathione, a protein made from the amino acids cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine, is one of the most important elements of this {antioxidant defense} system. (NYULMC) [4.]
  • Deficiencies in glutathione effect antigen presentation and balance of Th1 vs Th2 response patterns. (Perterson, Herzenberg, Vasquez, et al. 1997) [5.] It appears that lowering the cellular glutathione level may increase the chance of cellular antibodies triggering attack by T8+ cells, and conversely, increasing glutathione levels should minimise attack damage, at least if caused by this source (oxidative stress).
  • Another study ( al little more obscure to me) also shows that low levels of intracellular glutathione correlate with defective antigen processing. (Short, Merkel, Caffrey, et al. 2005)[6.]

These studies indicate to me that an increased intracellular glutathione level is likely to reduce oxidative stress and resulting damage, and may have a beneficial modulating effect on defective antigen processing.

Direct supplementation of Glutathione is not considered effective

It has been well demonstrated that oral supplementation of glutathione is inneffective, as glutathione is not absorbed through the intestinal tract. (Witschi, Reddy, Stofer, et al 1992)[7.], and (Hunjan, Evered 1985)[8.]

Intracellular Glutathione levels can be increased by supplying di-sulfide bonded cistine in the form of non-denatured whey. 

Although glutathione levels can not easily be boosted orally or by injection, they can be boosted by delivering the precursors that allow the body to produce the glutathione necessary to combat the oxidative stress. (Micke, Beeh, Schlaak, et al. 2001)[9.] and Bounous, Gervais, Amer, et al. 1989)[10.]

Immunocal is the most respected and tested of the denatured whey proteins.

  • Of all the whey proteins available, the one most recognised as having an appreciable effect on the immune system and glutathione leves is called Immunocal. It is listed in the Physicians Desk Reference, and is approved by Health Canada as "a natural source of the glutathione precursor cysteine for the maintenance of a strong immune system." In addidtion the un-denatured whey in Immunocal still contains the important di-sulphide bonds. (Wikipedia).

    Immunocal is advertised as being a superior blend of the precoursers for production in the body of glutathione, and the company's website does show some studies that seem to support its use in auto-immune diseases though not specifically in polymyositis.  "The sulfhydryl (thiol) group (SH) of cysteine serves as a proton donor and is responsible for the biological activity of glutathione. Provision of this amino acid is the rate-limiting factor in glutathione synthesis by the cells , since cysteine is relatively rare in foodstuffs." (my emphasis) (Wikipedia)[11.]

Stimulating the production of Glutathione.

Once we now have the precoursers in place for the manufacture of the glutathione, it makes sense to stimulate that manufacture if possible.

A world renowned expert in anti-oxidants is Dr. Joe M. McCord, inventor of SOD (Super Oxide Dismutase). Well decorated for his invention of SOD, Dr. McCord also has been deply involved in the study of glutathione levels. Recently he has accepted the position of Chief Scientific officer for a company called LifeVantage, which manufactures Protandim www.protandim.com. According to Dr. McCord, one tablet a day of this combination of five herbs will trigger glutathione production by the body. Protandim increases cellulat glutathione by stimulating the body to produce it through enzymatic action. http://www.protandim.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/protandim-study1.pdf

Electrons can act as anti-oxidants

It is well established, though not widely known, that the surface of the earth possesses a limitless and continuously renewed supply of free or mobile electrons as a consequence of a global atmospheric electron circuit. (Oschman JL 2007)[12.] Simply put, nature has provided a sure anti-oxidant system for us - being earthed to the ground does the job. Going barefoot, sleeping on the ground were meant to provide us with a limitless supply of ions to counteract our oxidative stress. We have short circuited this process by isolating ourselves from the ground, and bombarding ourselves with ROS. This seems so simple and obvious that I got chills when I read it. Free anti-oxidant from the earth, and we are to silly to take it and instead resort to pills? There are many ways of restoring your electrical ground and ion supply if lying on the ground is no longer an option for you. Grounding pads are now commercially available.

Scenars act as electron donors

Scenars are modern medical devices made in Russia that, among other benefits, are reported to donate electrons freely to tissues. The scenar technology is very new to the west, and not a lot of information is available yet, but it appears the latest in anti-oxidative stress devices.

Hydrogen ions providing negative ORP

Alkaline water ionizers section to go here.


  1. Murphy M, Kehrer J. Oxidative Stress and Muscular Dystrophy. Chemico-Biological Interactions V69 I2-3 P101-173, found at www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0009279789900756
  2. Tews DS, Goebel HH. Cell death and oxidative damage in inflammatory myopathies. Clin. Immunol Immunopathol. 1998 Jun;87(3):240-7. Found at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9646833.
  3. Moylan J, Reid M. Oxidative stress, chronic disease, and muscle wasting. Muscle and Nerve V35 I4 April 2007 pp411-429. Found at www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/mus.20743/abstract.
  4. NYU Langone Medical Center website, found at http://www.med.nyu.edu/content?ChunkIID=108306.
  5. Perterson J, Herzenberg L, Vasquez K, et al. Glutathione levels in antigen-presenting cells modulate th1 versus th2 response patterns. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA vol 95 pp 3071-3076 March 1998. Found at www.pnas.org/content/95/6/3071.full.pdf.
  6. Short S, Merkel B, Caffrey R, et al. Defective antigen processing correlates with a low level of intracellular glutathione. European Journal of Immunology vol 26 issue 12 pp 3015-3020 December 1996. Found at www.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/eji.1830261229/abstract
  7. Witschi A, Reddy S, Stofer B, Lauterburg BH. The systemic availability of oral glutathione. Eur J Clin Pharmacol . 1992;43:6679.
  8. Hunjan MK, Evered DF. Absorption of glutathione from the gastro-intestinal tract. Biochim Biophys Acta . 1985;815:1848.
  9. Micke P, Beeh KM, Schlaak JF, Buhl R. Oral supplementation with whey proteins increases plasma glutathione levels of HIV-infected patients. Eur J Clin Invest . 2001;31:1718.
  10. Bounous G, Gervais F, Amer V, Batist G, Gold P. The influence of dietary whey protein on tissue glutathione and the diseases of aging. Clin Invest Med . 1989;12:343–9.
  11. Found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Serendipity81/Immunocal
  12. Oschman JL Can electrons act as antioxidants? A review and commentary J altern Compliment Med 2007 Nov;13(9):955-67 found at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18047442