Two M.D.-trained CEOs are taking their companies to the front line in promoting value of nutraceuticals

Cancer and Alzheimer’s disease are right at the top of people’s lists of “diseases we want a cure for now!” and so it is only fitting that the beginning of November saw two intriguing announcements on the nutraceutical front, with Washington-based Total Nutraceutical Solutions (TNS) talking about mushroom-based relief for Alzheimer’s and New York-based Essence of Life touting a “curry spice” for its potential to kill cancer cells.

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STEVENSON, Wash. and MOUNT KISCO, N.Y.—Cancer andAlzheimer's disease are right at the top of people's lists of "diseases we wanta cure for now!" and so it is only fitting that the beginning of November sawtwo intriguing announcements on the nutraceutical front, with Washington-based TotalNutraceutical Solutions (TNS) talking about mushroom-based relief forAlzheimer's and New York-based Essence of Life touting a "curry spice" for itspotential to kill cancer cells.
Also worth noting is that the CEO of TNS, Dr. Marvin S.Hausman, and the CEO of Essence of Life, Dr. Vijaya Nair, both have M.D. amongthe other letters following their names, so neither comes from an uniformed—norunscientific—background.
In the case of TNS, the Nov. 1 announcement wasn't justabout the mushrooms but of an agreement between it and San Clemente,Calif.-based Model Biosystems Inc. under which TNS will evaluate severalproprietary mushroom compounds for activity in controlling the development ofAlzheimer's, using a special Alzheimer's model animal from Model Biosystems—inthe form of a mutant Drosophila melanogaster fly—in a double-blindedinvestigator protocol study that will involve more than 1,000 Drosophila with120 organisms in each test group.
Model Biosystems (MBS) had approached TNS with informationabout a recent experiment that showed that certain proprietary mushrooms fromTNS had shown unusual anti-inflammatory activity, and offered the opinion thatTNS should evaluate these mushroom samples using MBS's special biologic modelfor Alzheimer's.
"The discovery and development of organic whole foods thatpositively impact or help prevent diseases are welcome breakthroughs inhealthcare, as more and more people demand natural alternatives to preventdisease," Hausman says. "We believe that the unique, proprietary technologydeveloped by TNS, and used in the production of our natural organic specialtymushrooms, contributes significantly to the potential success of this newAlzheimer's disease study to be undertaken by TNS and MBS."
Hausman says that his interest in whole-food nutraceuticalslike the mushrooms derives from increasing evidence that simply providing asingle compound from a natural source, such as a vitamin alone, doesn'tnecessarily translate into the body actually using that compound orbionutrient. He cites TNS-related research indicating, for example, thatVitamin D2, in an oxidative stress model, only showed biologic activity as partof a whole biologic food, such as the mushroom Agaricus blazei. He says thesefindings support the concept that a whole biologic organism or food, with itssupportive enzymes structures, is needed for bioavailability of valuablebionutrients in fighting disease.
In the case of Essence of Life, that company has been at theforefront of the movement to promote the health benefits of curcumin, one ofthe components of the popular Indian spice turmeric, and it noted in a Nov. 4announcement that a study published in October in the British Journal ofCancer indicated that curcumin can helpkill esophageal cancer cells in patients. That study followed another recentstudy at Ohio State University, published in June in BMC Cancer, that curcumin has efficacy in treating colorectalcancer.
Essence of Life is developing products based not just oncurcumin, but also on fermented soy and other herbal spices includingbioperine, ginger, cardamom and cinnamon.
Essence of Life's Nair says that many researchers dealingwith curcumin believe not only that it can inhibit the growth and metastasis oftumors in certain types of cancers, but also that it might have efficacy intreating many other diseases, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer'sdisease, type II diabetes, Crohn's disease, psoriasis and arthritis.
"I have seen research that suggests the vast majority of alldiseases ultimately have some inflammatory component at their core," Nair says."By combining the power of curcumin and fermented soy, we can help prevent andreverse inflammation and its associated health risks."
The British Journal of Cancer article, "Curcumin induces apoptosis-independent death in oesophagealcancer cells," concluded that curcumin "can induce cell death by a mechanismthat is not reliant on apoptosis induction, and thus represents a promisinganticancer agent for prevention and treatment of oesophageal cancer."
The BMS Cancerarticle, "New structural analogues of curcumin exhibit potent growthsuppressive activity in human colorectal carcinoma cells," concluded that "threecurcumin analogues studied exhibit more potent inhibitory activity thancurcumin in human colorectal cancer cells. Thus, they may have translationalpotential as chemopreventive or therapeutic agents for colorectal carcinoma."
"But there has been a stigma sometimes with patients,telling them not to take natural compounds like ours," Nair says. "Some of thatpressure is from the pharmaceutical companies, and I understand that often,particularly in studies, they want to have totally clean data related to theirpharmaceutical and chemotherapeutic compounds, so they don't want people takingother agents while using theirs."
But, she notes, nutraceuticals derive from foods in manycases, patients do end up suffering nutritional problems as a result of thingslike chemotherapy and, to her, telling them to avoid nutraceuticals is liketelling them to avoid eating.
"We have found that natural products like ours often workquite well in conjunction with things like chemotherapy or radiation therapy,"Nair says. "What we are promoting is integrative medicine, not replacingmedicine with nutraceutical compounds."

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