Hexagonally-based patterns of phosphorylated tubulins in microtubules

This is one of those articles about a research breakthrough which kind of just goes by unnoticed for the most part, yet its implications are profound:

Scientists Claim Brain Memory Code Cracked

In an article in the March 8 issue of the journal PLoS Computational Biology, physicists Travis Craddock and Jack Tuszynski of the University of Alberta, and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff of the University of Arizona demonstrate a plausible mechanism for encoding synaptic memory in microtubules, major components of the structural cytoskeleton within neurons.

Interesting fact about dental amalgam fillings

Recently I had an amalgam filling done for one of my molars.  This particular tooth has had many issues in the past with composite fillings.  Because of the location and nature of the filling, the composite fillings basically never really held up very well.  It seemed like I was getting the filling done almost every year or so.

This most recent time I was at the dentist I decided it was enough.  Many times in the past she actually had advised me about using an amalgam filling instead but, because of a lot of negative things I had heard and read about amalgam fillings, I ruled it out.

But going through problem after problem with the tooth, and enduring almost continual discomfort with it, I was getting tired of it.  The day I was at the dentist’s office she had drilled my tooth and it was prepared for yet another composite filling.  She was of course not particularly happy to have to be redoing the filling yet again, and neither was I really.

I was laying back in the chair and she was just about to etch the tooth in preparation for the composite filling when I put my hand up in the air and muttered as best I could that I wanted an amalgam filling.  She almost seemed stunned and repeated the question back to me to make sure she understood.  I answered “Uhh huh” with my mouth pried open, and she understood that that was what I wanted.

After doing  my own reading on the topic, it turns out that in fact for the type of filling I was having done amalgam is by far the best choice.  After having it done I actually felt kind of bad for having put my dentist through all the redo’s of that filling over the years.

I just read today that the type of mercury in amalgam fillings is elemental mercury – similar to quicksilver.  According to Wikipedia:

Quicksilver (liquid metallic mercury) is poorly absorbed by ingestion and skin contact. It is hazardous due to its potential to release mercury vapor. Animal data indicate that less than 0.01% of ingested mercury is absorbed through the intact gastrointestinal tract; though it may not be true for individuals suffering from ileus. Cases of systemic toxicity from accidental swallowing are rare, and attempted suicide via intravenous injection does not appear to result in systemic toxicity.

So it turns out that the type of mercury in amalgam fillings is in fact very different from the kind that everyone worries about in seafood, and far less toxic to the body.  Even when ingested it is essentially passed through the body.

I thought this was interesting information because there may be situations similar to mine when really an amalgam filling is much more suitable, namely chewing surfaces of teeth where cosmetic considerations are minimal and long-term stability of the filling and its cohesion to the tooth and resistance to decay are of utmost importance.

I will note one further thing, even composite fillings are toxic.  They simply use different chemicals.  In fact no dental filling is non-toxic.  Its a risk/benefit thing.  In my case the actual chemicals used to treat the tooth for the filling caused significant irritation to the nerve of the tooth.  This, along with the fact that the seal is not as tight as an amalgam filling led to more-or-less ongoing discomfort with the tooth in question.  There is no question in my case that amalgam was the right choice.

There is a lot of negative information out there about amalgam fillings.  I’ve even met people who had all their dental work redone – all their fillings removed and redone with composite – because they believed it was toxic.  I’m not going to state definitively anything about another’s health choices or beliefs, but I personally seriously question such behavior in light of what is known about mercury and the human body.

Manganese found to neutralize Shiga toxin

An article today discusses a paper that reports that manganese significantly neutralizes the toxicity of Shiga toxin in cells.  This occurs because a certain protein which is responsible for the Shiga toxin’s avoiding normal breakdown within cells is highly sensitive to manganese.

This is a significant discovery as hundreds of millions of people are affected by Shiga toxin each year through E coli and other infections.  Often people with severe toxicity experience kidney failure and are forced to go on dialysis.  If simply taking manganese can protect from Shiga toxicity that is a huge advance.

Another study on red wine

Today I read an article about another study purporting there to be health benefits to drinking red wine.  I feel that such studies as this are highly deceptive.  They get disseminated in the media with headlines about health benefits of red wine.  But the real question should be: Is there any benefit to having red wine versus just having grapes or grape juice?

I think there should be a law that any studies done on the potential health benefits of wines must always include whole grapes and grape juice as well.  What a waste of research, of time and money to go through all the trouble of these studies and not bother to include grapes and grape juice as well.  Why not  include for example muscadine or concord grapes both of which have ultra-high levels of the beneficial phenolics and other compounds?  I’d love to see a study how concord grapes compare against red wines for health benefits.  My intuition tells me the grapes would blow the wine away.

Of course one major problem is that the grapes sold commercially are among the least nutritious varieties.  And this problem is not a medical one.  Why do we live under a system where the food production/distribution system is controlled by these agri-giants which have incentive to sell garbage fruit and vegetables among all the other garbage they sell?

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