All About Biotin

Biotin Is Used Because It:

  • Supports healthy skin through proper fat production
  • Supports making efficient use of sugar (required to turn sugar into energy)
  • Maintains an energy supply in nerve cells
  • Promotes normal immunity
  • Supports the nervous system
  • Supports cell growth
  • Supports energy production
  • Supports the production of fatty acids
  • Supports the metabolism of fats and amino acids
  • Supports maintaining a steady blood sugar level
  • Supports Nails, Hair and Skin (scalp)

All About Biotin

Biotin or Vitamin B7 (originally known as vitamin H) is one of the components of the B complex of vitamins. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin. Biotin was discovered thanks to late 1930s and early 1940s research when chicks that were fed diets high in raw egg whites consistently developed skin rashes and lost the hair around their eyes. When egg yolk was added to the chicks’ diet, these symptoms disappeared!

In its active form, biotin is attached at the active site of four very important enzymes known as carboxylases. Biotin is required to turn sugar into energy. It is also part of the pathway for synthesizing fat in the body because it enables the function of the enzyme acetyl Co-A carboxylase, which builds fat molecules, and fat is an important component in the walls of every cell.

Biotin is necessary for cell growth, the production of fatty acids, and the metabolism of fats and

amino acids. Biotin plays an important role in the citric acid cycle, which is the process by which biochemical energy is generated during aerobic respiration.

Biotin not only assists in various metabolic reactions, but also helps to transfer carbon dioxide. Biotin may be helpful in maintaining a steady blood sugar level. Biotin is often recommended for strengthening hair and nails. It is known by some as the hair vitamin.

Nearly forty years of research was done before Biotin was classified as a vitamin. This nutrient is required by all organisms but can only be synthesized by bacteria, yeast, molds, algae, and some plants.

Lack of Biotin (a deficiency) is known to cause hair loss (alopecia). In addition to alopecia, other dermatologic symptoms include dermatitis and conjunctivitis (in the form of a scaly red rash around the eyes, nose, mouth, and genital area), and achromotrichia (absence or loss of pigment in the hair), Perosis (a shortening and thickening of bones). Neurological symptoms in adults such as depression, lethargy, hallucination, and numbness and tingling of the extremities are also signs of Biotin deficiency. Other symptoms include a decreased appetite and growth. Fatty liver and kidney syndrome (FLKS) and hepatic steatosis also can occur. Cradle cap is another symptom of Biotin deficiency in infants, in adults this is manifested as seborrheic dermatitis.

When a person has facial rash along with unusual facial fat distribution in the face this person is said to have a “biotin-deficient face”. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, this facial side effect appears as an odd distribution of subcutaneous fat in the face.

Some individuals with hereditary disorders of biotin deficiency have evidence of impaired immune system function, including increased susceptibility to bacterial and fungal infections.

Women

Pregnant women tend to have high risk of biotin deficiency. Research has shown that nearly half of pregnant women have a reduced status of biotin. Preliminary research found laboratory evidence of biotin deficiency both in the early (first trimester) and late (third trimester) stages of pregnancy.

A number of studies reported that this possible biotin deficiency during the pregnancy may cause infants’ congenital malformations such as cleft palate.

Biotin can prevent ketolactic acidosis, organic aciduria, hyperammonemia, skin rash, feeding problems, hypotonie, alopecia, and coma. Biotin also protects the nervous system, preventing seizures, ataxia, developmental delays and loss of muscle tone

Birth Defects:

Inadequate amounts of Biotin during pregnancy may increase the risk for birth defects. Biotin is important for normal embryonic growth, and a deficiency during pregnancy might cause birth defects, according to the Linus Pauling Institute, or LPI, at Oregon State University.

Research indicates that biotin is broken down more rapidly during pregnancy and that biotin nutritional status declines during the course of pregnancy. In 6 out of 13 women studied biotin excretion dropped below the normal range during late pregnancy, suggesting that their biotin status was abnormally low. Approximately half of pregnant women have abnormally high excretion of a metabolite (3-hydroxyisovaleric acid) thought to reflect decreased activity of a biotin-dependent enzyme.

A study of 26 pregnant women found that biotin supplementation decreased the excretion of this metabolite compared to placebo, suggesting that marginal biotin deficiency is relatively common in pregnancy. Although the level of biotin depletion was not severe enough to cause symptoms, it was reason for concern because sub clinical biotin deficiency has been shown to cause birth defects in several animal species. The potential risk for biotin depletion makes it prudent to ensure adequate biotin intake throughout pregnancy.

A study published in a 2002 edition of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” reported that up to 50 percent of pregnant women may be biotin deficient.

Babies who are deficient in biotin often develop seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, called “cradle cap” when it occurs in this age group, according to the UMMC. Research indicates that biotin supplementation can improve this condition.

Many prenatal vitamins do not contain Biotin. Biotin supplementation during pregnancy may be required since rapidly dividing cells of the developing fetus require biotin for DNA replication and synthesis of essential carboxylases. Take this info and educate yourself further, consult a health care provider before taking any supplements, especially when pregnant.

Hereditary and Genetics:

I know of three hereditary Biotin disorders.

1) Children with a rare inherited metabolic disorder called “Phenylketonuria” (PKU) are unable to break down the amino acid phenylalanine, often develop skin conditions such as eczema and seborrheic dermatitis in areas of the body other than the scalp. The scaly skin changes that occur in people with PKU may be related to poor ability to use biotin. Increasing dietary biotin has been known to improve seborrheic dermatitis in these cases.

2) “Biotinidase deficiency” is considered to be an inherited disorder that surfaces within the first few months of a newborn. Infants can not reuse nor can they recycle the vitamin biotin. Biotinidase is an enzyme that catalyzes the release of biotin from small proteins and the amino acid, lysine, thereby recycling biotin. The symptoms biotin deficiency here very but include seizures, breathing problems, and even delayed neurological development. Left untreated, this could lead to a loss of hearing, a loss of vision, skin rashes, and ataxia, which are problems with movement and retaining balance. A treatment is simple, a lifelong supplement of biotin will prevent these issues.

3) “Holocarboxylase synthesize” (HCS) deficiency, caused by a decreased formation of the all the processes involved with biotin, and this deficiency produces similar issues as above. Any future symptoms could be prevented by a lifetime of high doses of Biotin supplements.

People with a Biotin deficiency due to hereditary disorders may experience additional effects, such as a weak immune system and an increased susceptibility to infections.

It is important to note that it may be possible, with a proper building-up of Biotin the body of a pregnant woman to prevent Biotin deficiency from being inherited by the baby.

Quotes:

Below I listed a few quotes on Biotin’s role around the body. I continue the article by discussing Biotin and Hair.

Biotin and Diabetes:

It has been known for many years that overt biotin deficiency results in impaired utilization of glucose. Blood biotin levels were significantly lower in 43 patients with non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) than in non-diabetic control subjects, and lower fasting blood glucose levels were associated with higher blood biotin levels. After one month of biotin supplementation (9 mg/day) fasting blood glucose levels decreased by an average of 45%. Reductions in blood glucose levels were also found in 7 insulin-dependent diabetics after 1 week of supplementation with 16 mg of biotin daily.

Several mechanisms could explain the glucose-lowering effect of biotin. As a cofactor of enzymes required for fatty acid synthesis, biotin may increase the utilization of glucose to synthesize fats. Biotin has been found to stimulate glucokinase, an enzyme in the liver, resulting in increased synthesis of glycogen, the storage form of glucose. Biotin has also been found to stimulate the secretion of insulin in the pancreas of rats, which also has the effect of lowering blood glucose (16). An effect on cellular glucose (GLUT) transporters is also currently under investigation. Presently, studies of the effect of supplemental biotin on blood glucose levels in humans are extremely limited, but they highlight the need for further research.

Early research indicates that biotin reduces insulin resistance and enhances glucose tolerance, which could benefit people with type 2 diabetes, according to MedlinePlus. Supplementing with both biotin and the mineral chromium may also have benefits for diabetic patients, including improving blood sugar regulation, reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels and reducing the risk of clogged arteries. Research is conflicting and more studies with humans are needed, notes MedlinePlus.

Biotin tablets may improve symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in patients who develop the condition due to diabetes or regular dialysis for kidney failure, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC. This disorder causes numbness, tingling, weakness or other abnormal sensations in the feet, and sometimes in the hands, due to nerve damage.

source: livestrong.com

Lowers Blood Sugar

In “There Is a Cure for Diabetes,” author Gabriel Cousens, M.D., observes that biotin seems to increase insulin sensitivity and also activates glucokinase, an enzyme that promotes the liver’s utilization of glucose. This stimulation of glucokinase activity is significant for diabetics, who generally have low levels of the enzyme, according to the author. He also points out that biotin deficiency causes impaired utilization of glucose, while optimal levels of the vitamin reduce fasting levels of blood sugar.

Cousens cites a study in which serum levels of biotin were compared between 43 patients with non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, or NIDDM, and a control group of non-diabetic test subjects. Biotin levels in the NIDDM patients were significantly lower than those of the control group, “and lower fasting blood glucose levels were associated with high blood biotin levels.” After one month of daily supplementation with 9mg of biotin, fasting blood glucose levels in the NIDDM group declined by an average of 45 percent, the author reports. Consult with your doctor before beginning any regimen of self-treatment with biotin or any other dietary supplement.

source: livestrong.com

Energy Production

Biotin is involved in the metabolism of both sugar and fat. In sugar metabolism, biotin helps move sugar from its initial stages of processing on to its conversion into usable chemical energy. For this reason, muscle cramps and pains related to physical exertion, which may be the result of the body’s inability to use sugar efficiently as fuel, may signal a biotin deficiency. The role of biotin in fat metabolism is discussed below under the heading “Synthesis of Fat (Fatty Acids).”

source: livestrong.com

Synthesis of Fat (Fatty Acids)

Many of the classic biotin deficiency symptoms involve skin-related problems, and the role of biotin in fat synthesis is often cited as a reason for this biotin-skin link. Biotin is required for function of an enzyme in the body called acetyl Co-A carboxylase. This enzyme puts together the building blocks for the production of fat in the body. Fat production is critical for all cells in the body since the membranes of all cells must contain the correct fat components to function properly. Fat production is especially critical for skin cells since they die and must be replaced very rapidly, and also because they are in contact with the outside environment and must serve as a selective barrier. When cellular fat components cannot be made properly due to biotin deficiency, skin cells are among the first cells to develop problems. In infants, the most common biotin-deficiency symptom is cradle cap – a dermatitis (skin condition) in which crusty yellowish/ whitish patches appear around the infant’s scalp, head, eyebrows and the skin behind the ears. In adults, the equivalent skin condition is called seborrheic dermatitis, although it can occur in many different locations on the skin.

John D. Kirschmann, author of “Nutrition Almanac,” writes that biotin’s role as a catalyst in cellular metabolism–particularly the metabolism of fat–makes it useful in the treatment of various skin and hair disorders, including dermatitis, hair graying and hair loss. In fact, classic signs of overt biotin deficiency include “include hair loss and a scaly red rash around the eyes, nose, mouth and genital area,” according to the website of Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute. Talk to your doctor before beginning any regimen of self-treatment.

source: livestrong.com

Support of Nervous System Activity

Because glucose and fat are used for energy within the nervous system, biotin also functions as a supportive vitamin in this area. Numerous nerve-related symptoms have been linked to biotin deficiency. These symptoms include seizures, lack of muscle coordination (ataxia), and lack of good muscle tone (hypotonia).

source: livestrong.com

Biotin and Hair:

Biotin is very important to the skin cells as they are frequently replaced due to their exposure to the outside environment; skin conditions often impact hair conditions. Biotin has been shown to both regrow hair and to reverse premature hair graying.

Biotin benefits hair directly and indirectly by maintaining a steadier blood sugar level and causing a reduction in stress reactions, as biotin is also an important component of the nerves. Stress can cause hair loss, naturally, adding biotin to the diet gives protection both to the hair follicles and to the nerves that support their proper function. Maintaining a steadier blood sugar is also important in fighting insulin resistance and the onslaught of diseases related to it (including hair loss).

According to the LPI, “Although hair loss is a symptom of severe biotin deficiency, there are no published scientific studies that support the claim that high-dose biotin supplements are effective in preventing or treating hair loss in men or women.”  … Remember: Despite the lack of studies directly looking at Biotin as a remedy to restore hair, hair loss is a symptom of deficiency. In other words, if you are deficient you may, likely, experience hair loss.

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Many possible cures to hair loss exist that have not been “studied” clinically because they were not funded. Research does not happen if funding is not available.

Nails and Hoofs:

Brittle fingernails in humans have been linked to a Biotin deficiency. Also, research has indicated that supplementing with Biotin greatly enhanced hoof abnormalities in horses and swine.

Biotin strengthens nails and alleviates brittle and splitting nails, according to the Linus Pauling Institute (LPI) who cited a study in which scanning electron microscopy determined that fingernail thickness increased by 25 percent after biotin supplementation.

A small 1993 study at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University discovered that Biotin supplements improved brittle nails in 63 percent of the subjects in the study.

Another, and larger study was completed in 2005, led by Peter C.M. van de Kerkhof, M.D. at the University Medical Centre St. Radboud in the Netherlands. This study (quoted be the LPI) found that daily supplementation of 2.5 mg of biotin led to 25 percent thicker nails over the course of 15 months.

It is Rare to be Deficient, Am I deficient?

Medical conditions can cause a Biotin deficiency, these include liver disease and iron-deficiency anemia, you may want to check for these. Many other factors can cause Biotin deficiency or Biotin functional deficiency including diet, malnutrition, metabolic disorders, genetics, digestive issues, medications and pregnancies.

The mainstream views are that “Biotin deficiency is very rare, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health at its MedlinePlus website. Nevertheless, some people may benefit from taking Biotin tablets.”

Most mainstream health professionals believe Biotin deficiencies to be rare in healthy individuals since “the daily requirements of biotin are low”, and many foods contain adequate amounts of biotin, not to mention the gut flora makes its own Biotin that our bodies absorb.

Biotin deficiency is thought of as being rare because bacteria in your large intestines produce biotin naturally and because the daily dietary requirements of Biotin are low. But, scientists are not a 100% clear as to whether or not the Biotin made in the large intestines is well absorbed by the body.

Biotin deficiency can be caused by metabolic disorders in which specific enzymes are lacking (or destroyed by nutritional ways). Biotinidase is an enzyme that frees biotin bound to food proteins so the body can use it. Diets that contain Fluoride could also destroy enzymes and possibly the Biotinidase enzyme.

Vitamin B5:

A lack of dietary intake of pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) can contribute to a functional deficiency in Biotin.

B5 works together with Biotin in many metabolic situations.

 

Intestinal problems could be linked to Biotin deficiency. Intestinal bacteria in the large intestine synthesize Biotin. When intestinal problems create bacterial imbalance, the body is deprived of this alternative source of biotin. Certain medications that kill beneficial bacteria are also a culprit.

Consuming raw egg whites can also contribute to biotin deficiency since avidin, a glycoprotein substance in egg whites can bind to Biotin and prevent its absorption.

I believe it is possible that people with a deficiency may not know they have one; everyone could benefit from knowing the symptoms of deficiency, this knowledge offers you the upper hand, after all you are your best own healer and you should know your body and how it behaves, and what certain behaviors imply.

If one has symptoms then they are deficient even if their blood test shows a result within the “normal” range. This is very common in thyroid conditions, many people are hypothyroid but their TSH blood tests come back “normal”.  This normal range is established by the lab you are tested at, this lab likely tests more sick people than healthy ones.

Further, a mass-population deficiency would go unnoticed if everyone or almost everyone in a population is deficient, deficiency would be normal, here a deficiency will look “normal” on paper.

A deficiency or a lack of proper amounts of Biotin can result in many symptoms including: hair loss, a scaly red rash around the eyes, nose, and mouth, as well as a rash around the genital area, an unusual distribution of facial fat (biotin-deficient face).

Severe Biotin deficiency causes thinning and hair loss; a scaly red rash around the eyes, nose, and mouth; and nervous system or neurological problems. These neurological symptoms in adults include depression, lethargy, hallucination, and in some cases, a numbness and tingling of the extremities.

Deficiency Explained Further

Besides being pregnant, individuals on total intravenous feedings without added biotin may develop biotin deficiency.

Eggs:

Those who frequently consume raw egg whites as well can develop biotin deficiency. Egg whites contain avidin, a protein that binds to biotin, which forms a biotin-avidin complex that’s does not get absorbed and is lost in the feces. However, cooked egg white avidin becomes denatured and has no negative effects on Biotin absorption.

Antibiotics and Anticonvulsants:

Low biotin levels have been seen in people on long-term antibiotic therapy that kills the good bacteria in their body who otherwise would produce Biotin, or who take anticonvulsants, which may increase the rate of Biotin breakdown in the body and interfere with Biotin absorption.

Bacteria:

New born babies are also likely to be deficient in Biotin because they do not have the “good bacteria” in their body to make Biotin.

Anyone without enough beneficial bacteria to produce Biotin and people with very low-calorie diets are ones that might experience a deficiency as well.

Signs of a Deficiency:

A report on Biotin from North Carolina State University lists several side effects of biotin deficiency, most of which affect the skin, nails and hair. A Biotin deficiency causes dry skin, dermatitis and rashes on many different areas of the body, including the face and genitals. You may also notice fungal infections, which can affect both the skin and the nails, and you may experience brittle nails, brittle hair and hair loss. This report mentioned that hair, skin and facial side effects (symptoms) of a Biotin deficiency can appear as early as 3 to 5 weeks of deficiency.

According to the text “Advanced Nutrition: Macronutrients, Micronutrients and Metabolism.” Initial signs of biotin deficiency include thinning hair, brittle hair and nails, balding scalp, dry skin, fungal infections and facial rashes centered near the nose and mouth.

Initial symptoms of biotin deficiency include:

  • Dry skin
  • Seborrheic dermatitis (facial or scalp, greasy, scaly and flaky skin i.e. dandruff in adolescents and Cradle Cap in infants )
  • Fungal infections (Hair and Nails)
  • Fine or brittle hair and nails
  • Hair loss (alopecia)
  • Skin rashes (around the eyes and the edges of the mouth and nose, erythematous periorofacial macular rash) and Conjunctivitis
  • Nausea
  • Anemia
  • A Biotin-Deficient Face
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Grayish skin colo
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue and extreme exhaustion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Seizures
  • Achromotrichia (absence or loss of pigment in the hair)
  • Lack of muscle coordination (ataxia), and lack of good muscle tone (hypotonias). Loss of muscular reflexes.
  • Muscle cramps
  • Intestinal imbalances, including inflammatory bowel syndrome, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, chronic diarrhea (and less likely celiac diseas).

If you experience Biotin deficiency symptoms along with swollen and painful tongue that is magenta in color, dry eyes, loss of appetite, fatigue, insomnia and depression, you may want to check for liver disease and iron-deficiency anemia.

Muscle cramps and pains related to physical exertion can be symptomatic of biotin deficiency, reflecting the body’s inability to use sugar efficiently as a fuel.

Chronic Deficiency Symptoms:

One to two weeks after the above side effects appear, neurological symptoms of a Biotin deficiency can manifest themselves. If left untreated, neurological symptoms will continue, including:

  • Depression, which may progress to profound lassitude (worn down) and, eventually, to somnolence (near-sleep)
  • Changes in mental status
  • Generalized muscular pains (myalgias)
  • Hyperesthesias (hyper sensitivity) and paresthesias (tingling, pins and needles)

A paper from the Journal of Nutrition states that symptoms such as depression and possible hallucinations in adults are a result of deficiency; and infants can show signs of developmental delay and a hypnotic state. The LPI reports that lethargy often accompanies depression with a Biotin deficiency.

In addition to the neurological symptoms, one may experience an impaired utilization of glucose. Biotin has been found to stimulate glucokinase, an enzyme in the liver, resulting in increased synthesis of glycogen, and the storage form of glucose. Fatty liver and kidney syndrome (FLKS) and hepatic steatosis also can occur.

People with a Biotin deficiency due to hereditary disorders may experience additional effects, such as a weak immune system and an increased susceptibility to infections.

Dosage and Toxicity

In the United States, the government hasn’t established a daily recommended intake. However, in 1998 the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences suggested 20 to 30 mcg daily for males and females 9 years and older. The Mayo Clinic recommends taking 2.5 mg of biotin per day to help increase the thickness of your nails.

Reports of biotin toxicity have not surfaced in the research literature, despite the use of biotin over extended periods of time in doses as high as 60 milligrams per day. For this reason, in its 1998 recommendations for intake of B-complex vitamins, the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences chose not to set a tolerable upper limit (UL) for intake of biotin.

How to Treat a Deficiency:

Mega-dosing biotin may reverse symptoms of deficiency and stimulate the growth of healthy hair, clear skin and strong finger nails. Biotin supplementation may also help reverse graying hair in those with marginal biotin deficiency.

Seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, common in infants with the metabolic disorder phenylketonuria, is also improved by Biotin supplements.

Naturally, please consult your health care provider before supplementing with Biotin.

The treatment for biotin deficiency is to simple, start taking some biotin supplements.

Also consider these steps to prevent Biotin deficiencies:

  • If you are malnourished improve your diet.
  • Stop taking antibiotics that kill beneficial gut bacteria which synthesizes Biotin for you. (Inform your doctor first)
  • Stop Anti-seizure/ Anticonvulsant medications, such as Carbamazepine, Phenobarbital, Phenytoin and Primidone (they have been linked to reduced blood levels of Biotin according to MedLine) because these could compromise absorption of biotin.. (Inform your doctor first)
  • Stop drinking tap water, it has Chlorine and Fluoride.. one kills bacteria the other destroys enzymes. Opt for reverse osmosis water.
  • Avoid Fluoride. Diets that contain Fluoride could also destroy enzymes and possibly the Biotinidase enzyme.
  • Take probiotics to increase beneficial gut flora.
  • Eat a diet rich in Biotin.
  • Don’t eat raw egg whites. The raw egg whites have a sugar and protein-containing molecule (glycoprotein) called avidin – that can Bind together with biotin and prevent its absorption. Simply cook the egg whites. The egg yolk on the other hand is rich in Biotin.
  • Make sure to consume Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), a deficiency in B5 can contribute to a “functional biotin deficiency” since B5 works together with biotin in many metabolic situations.
  • Resolve intestinal problems. You want healthy digestion (no diarrhea or constipation) and a healthy gut flora. Bacteria in the large intestines can produce Biotin.

All the above will go a long way in helping your hair

Read archived articles about biotin at the Biotin resources and archived articles page

Sources:






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  1. Biotin Supplementation | World Hair Research Says:

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