Pantethine – Boost Your Brain, Cardio Health, Metabolism, and Detoxification
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Byron J. Richards, Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist
Pantethine can dramatically change your health and improve your metabolism. Pantethine, like no other nutrient, directly fuels the production Co-Enzyme A (CoA). CoA is a pivotal energy broker molecule in your metabolism, used in at least 70 metabolic pathways involved in the metabolism of fat, cholesterol, carbohydrates, and amino acids. Pantethine helps you clear toxins, boost your adrenal gland function, elevate your mood, clear your head, and is a vital nutrient for the health and well-being of your brain and cardiovascular system.
Pantethine is a derivative of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid). Regular vitamin B5 must go through five enzymatic conversions before it can become CoA. Pantethine goes through one. In individuals with fatigue or metabolic problems, the conversion of regular vitamin B5 into CoA is reduced, or even impaired. Pantetheine is double bonded with sulfur to form the dietary supplement ingredient, pantethine. The sulfur bond enables pantethine to have special biological activity that vitamin B5 simply does not have. The information in this article specifically applies to pantethine, whereas regular vitamin B5 has not remotely been shown to produce these benefits.
BDNF, Stress, Adrenals, and Pantethine
BDNF1 (brain-derived neurotrophic factor ) is a growth factor for nerves, supports the survival of existing neurons and helps stimulate stem cells to make new ones, including new connections. It is known that BDNF levels are low in depression. BDNF is lowered by stress, free radicals, and excitotoxins; it is boosted by aerobic exercise. French scientists have recently reported that BDNF can initiate the repair of brain networks that have been damaged. University of California researchers have now shown, in a variety of animal studies, that BDNF can prevent and reverse Alzheimer’s disease. An emerging body of research on BDNF demonstrates far ranging implications for mood, cognitive function, and recovery from any kind of nerve damage.
Pantethine is an ideal nutrient to support BDNF formation2. As a stress busting nutrient3 it supports the adrenal glands4 as well as overall energy production. One study explains that pantethine is ideally suited as a BDNF stimulating nutrient. Pantethine is metabolized to cysteamine, a compound now proven to boost BDNF function. This is great news since pantethine has been in use as a dietary supplement for some time with no significant side effects or risks of any kind.
An animal study has shown that pantethine can protect against experimentally induced Parkinson’s disease. Researchers used the MPTP neurotoxin (1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine) that causes permanent symptoms of Parkinson’s by damaging dopamine producing neurons in the substantia nigra of the brain. Scientists have known for a long time that various ketones, an important metabolite of calorie metabolism – especially of fat – have a highly protective effect on nerves. Because ketones need CoA to form and because pantethine produces CoA, they sought to test whether or not pantethine could work to protect against toxic-induced nerve degeneration that mimics Parkinson’s. Pantethine was able to stop the decline in ketones that otherwise occurs with MPTP exposure and in so doing was able to completely arrest the destruction of dopamine neurons.
Another recent study shows that as CoA levels decline in nerve cells, amino acids that stabilize the nerve cell’s DNA decline, leading to nerve cell deterioration and death. Pantethine was able to help reverse this problem, thereby protecting nerves from wear and tear.
Collectively, these nerve related studies show that pantethine provides multiple strategies to protect and boost your brain.
Improved Platelets – Even Protection Against Malaria
Platelets are blood cells that regulate the bleeding and clotting process. They are made in your bone marrow, and are new every seven to 10 days, meaning the nutrients you take have a profound ability to determine their healthy function. In people with chronic inflammation, platelets become sticky, increasing the risk for excessive clotting and stroke. Drugs like Coumadin take a sledge hammer to platelets and force them not to be able to clot, which is why Coumadin sends more patients to emergency rooms with life-threatening side effects than any other drug.
By comparison, pantethine has been shown to improve the health of the cell membrane of platelets, helping them perform much more normally and in a less sticky manner. In one study in patients with high cholesterol and triglycerides, patients known to have sticky blood and be at higher risk for stroke, pantethine not only lowered the cholesterol and triglycerides but it also changed the composition of platelets5 so that they were healthier. Specifically, pantethine helped increase the level of the anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids EPA and DHA, while simultaneously lowering the pro-inflammatory levels of arachidonic acid. This combination of beneficial changes improves platelet health changing factors that otherwise lead to stroke risk and hardening of the arteries. These results were repeated several years later and once again showed the improvement in the cell membrane fluidity of platelets6.
Infection with malaria results in a cerebral syndrome that causes inflammatory brain damage as the result of excessive clotting that is triggered in response to the infectious damage, a very nasty problem. In a recent animal study pantethine was shown to completely stop the cerebral syndrome,7 not by boosting immunity, but rather by stabilizing platelets so that they did not go into hyper-stickiness. In essence, pantethine maintained the integrity of the blood brain barrier. While many Americans are not concerned about malaria, this mode of action in supporting the health of platelets is powerful, and vital to cardiovascular well-being in general.
Boosting HDL Quantity and Quality, Lowering LDL and Triglycerides
In a study of patients with high cholesterol8 900 mg of pantethine per day was shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol by 13.5 percent and triglycerides by 30 percent. Conversely, HDL levels were boosted by 10 percent.
In another study 1,000 mg of pantethine per day was given to 12 different stroke survivors for 90 days. Total cholesterol, LDL, VLDL, and triglycerides decreased, while HDL increased9. Of particular importance was the type of HDL that increased, a form that is known as HDL2. Pantethine was shown to boost the concentration of the Apo-A1 protein within the HDL, which is the key protein that enables HDL to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. This is a better quality of HDL10 that is associated with better removal of LDL from plaque and less risk for stroke.
In another study11 18 patients (nine men, nine women, average age 52) were given 800 mg of pantethine per day. Again, total cholesterol and triglycerides were reduced while HDL and Apo-A1 were increased. Another study12 reviewed the results of using 900-1,200 mg a day of pantethine for three to six months in a group of 65 adults and seven children with high cholesterol. Pantethine lowered total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides while boosting HDL and Apo-A1. A postmarketing analysis13 of more than 1,000 patients given 900 mg of pantethine per day, many of them type I and type II diabetics, found similar improvements in the lipid profiles with no noticeable side effects.
It is truly disturbing, since all these studies on cholesterol were performed in the mid 1980’s, that the world has not employed the very safe pantethine instead of the very dangerous statins. Many lives could have been saved and many injuries prevented if not for the greed of Big Pharma. On the bright side, an American cholesterol lowering study was published in August, 2011. Researchers at the Princeton Longevity Center demonstrated in a controlled study that 600 mg to 900 mg of pantethine per day over a 16-week period, combined with a healthy diet, lowered cholesterol, and triglycerides better than diet alone.
Weight Loss, Leptin, Adiponectin, and Fatty Liver Improvement
The development of a fatty liver as a result of weight gain marks a serious metabolic turning point that sets the stage for type II diabetes and serious metabolic problems. In one study sixteen patients with fatty liver received 600 mg pantethine per day. Their liver enzymes were cut in half (returning to normal) and their adiponectin14 levels were improved. Improving adiponectin means that there will be less insulin resistance and risk for type II diabetes as well as less inflammation coming out of stored fat.
In another study16 patients with a combination of fatty liver15 and high triglycerides were given 600 mg a day of pantethine for six months or longer. Computed tomography (CT) was used to determine both fatty liver and abdominal fat. Nine of the 16 patients no longer had fatty liver at the end of the study, and the follow up CT scan showed that abdominal fat had been reduced; both problems improved by panetethine.
Animal studies show that pantethine activates lipoprotein lipase16, the enzyme within white adipose tissue that helps break down triglycerides so that fatty acids are available to use as fuel. This means that pantethine will directly support healthy fat metabolism within white adipose tissue, and as mentioned above this includes the boosting of adiponectin levels. The net result is to support healthy leptin function with stored fat. And by clearing triglycerides out of the blood, pantethine supports leptin getting into your brain more efficiently, meaning that pantethine helps overcome leptin resistance problems.
Another animal study17 has looked into this in even more detail. The hypothalamus gland is the key subconscious part of the brain that registers the leptin signal. When the leptin center in the hypothalamus gland is damaged then obesity results, due to a breakdown in central regulation of metabolism by your nervous system. In this study a drug was used to induce damage to the hypothalamus gland resulting in obesity. Pantethine helped offset the problems that were induced, resulting in lower food intake, less weight gain, better insulin and glucose levels, lower triglycerides, lower cholesterol, and improved activation of lipoprotein lipase in white adipose tissue.
Pantethine is a potent nutrient to help maintain healthy fat burning and thus better leptin function.
A Natural Detoxification Booster
Pantethine has been shown to boost the activity of the important enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase18, a pivotal enzyme in detoxification. Not only is this the enzyme that clears alcohol, but it also clears the aldehyde toxins of Candida albicans, and aldehydes generated from damaged unsaturated fats (as in potato chips, corn chips, and French fries). There are many aldehyde based chemicals in the environment that also overload this system. Moving aldehydes in normal chemistry reactions can be impaired, which can also jam up initial steps of detoxification (phase I detoxification). Problems with pollen and mold reflect a lack of ability to clear aldehydes. One of the key signs of aldehyde excess is brain fog, which is why we call pantethine the “clear head pill.”
Pantethine, which makes CoA, and the Acetyl-CoA, helps fuel the production of acetyl groups that can be used for such purposes as making acetyl-choline for memory and nerve transmission and helping influence the liver detoxification pathways that rely on acetylation of toxins in order to get them out of your body (part of the phase II detoxification system). In this situation, Acetyl-CoA uses glycine, glutamine or taurine to bind up a toxin so that it can be excreted. Many common toxins are removed in this way.
Thus, pantethine is a key player in the detoxification system. Since we are now a society overloaded by pollution, if you run low on CoA for your needed detoxification shores then you will also run low on energy, low on BDNF, and low on adrenal function. Plus, fat and cholesterol will begin to pile up. There is just not enough CoA to get all the needed tasks performed. Pantethine can help correct multiple problems and at the same time, will significantly boost your health.
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