History of Thiamine Research
Thiamine is the chemical name for vitamin B1 and its deficiency in the diet has long been known as the cause of beriberi. This disease has been known for thousands of years but its underlying cause was only discovered in the closing years of the 19th century. Since beriberi was commonest in the rice consuming cultures, it is not surprising that the major research came from Japan. In the middle of the last century a group of university-based scientists was convened and they wrote a book (Review of the Japanese Literature on Beriberi and Thiamine). This was translated into English, ostensibly because these scientists wished to let people in the West know and understand the pernicious nature of disease resulting from thiamine deficiency. I was fortunate enough to receive a copy of this book from one of the scientists involved. The information in this post is derived from it. Because they were scientists and were well aware of the clinical effects of beriberi, their studies were very extensive. They knew that thiamine existed in garlic and much of their experimentation focused on studies of the garlic bulb. They discovered that there was a natural mechanism in garlic that created a derivative of thiamine and called it allithiamine. Note that this is a naturally occurring substance and the term should be entirely restricted to it.
On a number of occasions I have seen thiamine derivatives being called “The alithiamines” and one commercial product is called Allithiamine with a capital a. The name was given to this naturally occurring product because garlic is a member of the allium species of plants. It can be found in other members of the allium species. Because the Japanese scientists already knew a great deal about the clinical expressions caused by thiamine deficiency, they originally thought that this new derivative might have lost its vitamin dependent activity. They went on to test it in animal studies and found that it had a much greater biologic effect than the original thiamine from which it was derived. They found that it was extremely important that allithiamine was a thiamine disulfide derivative (disulfides are important in human physiology) and they synthesized many different types of thiamine disulfide as well as many non-disulfide derivatives, carefully testing each one for their biologic activity.
What is TTFD?
Without going into the biochemical details, what we now know is that thiamine tetrahydrofurfuryl disulfide (TTFD, Lipothiamine) is, for a number of reasons, the best of the bunch of synthetically produced derivatives and has exciting possibilities in therapy. For example, it has been shown from animal studies that Benfotiamine, a non-disulfide derivative, does not get into the brain whereas TTFD enables absorption of thiamine into the brain where it stimulates energy synthesis. When we take in thiamine, occurring only in our naturally formed food, it is biologically inert. It has to be “activated” within the body that possesses genetically determined mechanisms for its absorption and activation. To cut a technically difficult explanation, let me state that TTFD bypasses this process. It enables thiamine to split away from its disulfide attachment and enter the cells where its activity is required. The concentration achieved in the target cells is much greater than that achieved by the administration of the thiamine from which it was derived.
The Japanese scientists studied the effect of cyanide in mice and found that thiamine propyl disulfide (TPD), a forerunner of TTFD, gave significant protection from the lethal effect of this poison, an incredible discovery that alone should raise eyebrows. They studied this effect and were able to show its mechanism. They also found that it would protect animals from the effect of carbon tetrachloride, a poison that affects the liver. It is using its vitamin actions in a therapeutic manner.
Being myself a consultant pediatrician in a prestigious medical institution, I was able to obtain an independent investigator license (IND) from the Federal Drug Administration, and obtained TTFD from Takeda Chemical Industries in Osaka, Japan, the makers of this product. TTFD is a prescription item in Japan, sold under the commercial name of Alinamin. I have read several publications, showing that it reverses fatigue in both animal and human studies. I was able to study the value of this incredible substance in literally hundreds, if not thousands of patients. Far from being toxic, as this person claims, I never saw a single item that suggested toxicity. Its therapeutic potential is largely untapped in America. This is because the current medical model does not recognize that defective energy metabolism, genetic errors and the nature of stress are the interrelated components whose variable effects in combination are the cause of disease. Do not mistake the use of the word stress, a word that is so commonly used inappropriately. An infection and any form of physical or mental trauma represent a form of stress. It is the ability or the inability to meet the required energy demand to resist that stress that matters in the preservation of health.
Clinical Benefits of TTFD
It is important to understand that the beneficial activity of TTFD is exactly the same as the thiamine from which it is derived. It is the mechanism of its introduction to cells, particularly those in the brain, that enable it to have such an effect on energy metabolism. Because of its strategic position in the cell, thiamine is of vast importance in oxidative metabolism in the complex mechanisms of energy production. There are at least two methods by which thiamine deficiency can be induced. The commonest one is an excess of sugar and fat that overwhelms the capacity of thiamine to conduct the mechanisms involved in energy synthesis. The discovery that thiamine has a part to play in fat metabolism is quite recent. The other one is because of genetic errors involving its biochemical action. However, we now know from a relatively new science called epigenetics that some mistakes in DNA can be overcome by the use of an appropriate nutritional substance like thiamine. The completely non-toxic use of TTFD depends merely on its ability to introduce thiamine into the cells of the body that require its magic. Under these circumstances, the big doses of thiamine are acting like a pharmaceutical by stimulating the missing action. We are not dealing with simple vitamin replacement. This should represent a new era in medicine when nutrient biochemistry takes its place in patient care.
The person that wrote this criticism fails to understand that TTFD and other thiamine derivatives represent a new basic principle of therapy. It recognizes that healing is a function of the body, not the activity of a so-called “healer”. All it requires is the foundation substances needed for repair and sufficient energy to use them. It demands a dramatic change in thinking about health and disease. If you understand the principles involved, it forces the conclusion that the word “cure” is a pipe dream. The only form of pharmaceutical drug that matters is one that safely kills an attacking microbe. Almost all the rest of them merely relieve symptoms and have no effect on the ultimate outcome.
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