Hi Ruby – a very interesting and multi-faceted response, thanks!
I’ve spent 2,000 hours on PubMed verifying the toxicity of the retinoid-family; from sub-clinical, to acute, to teratogenic, to a recently discussed (University of Wisconsin) hidden hypervitaminosis-a resulting from VA-interventions in many countries, including the USA (upwards of 40% of the children involved in these efforts).
While I see your point on cholesterol and Grant’s logic; I also realize that we’re in the infant-stage of knowledge concerning the interactions of these various biological molecules; VA, VD, Cholesterol, and more.
On top of that, it is likely that long-term avoidance of processed-foods will skew the results for any N=1 anecdotal; in that the fortification of dairy and other foods, beginning in 1973, has been mainly in the form of retinyl palmitate, which I think is a significant part of the toxicity-equation for the population-at-large and is likely responsible for the associated literal explosion of chronic and autoimmune disease-rates, increasingly in younger people who consume more processed-foods.
Genetics does not account for these rises; neither water, nor air. We’re looking at food as the only possible environmental factor that can account for 50-400X rates of diseases compared to lesser-developed nations. The epidemiology on this is striking. Human metabolism is well-adapted to deal with these retinoid-toxins, but not at the level most people in North America are consuming.
Few realize how easy it is to get to the 40,000 IU level described by the NIH as hepato-toxic over time. Fewer still are aware of sub-clinical toxicity accumulating over decades and damaging epithelial tissues systemically.
Grant may well be doing himself a disservice by continuing his almost zero-a diet. His Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is super-high and the low cholesterol numbers/low BP/resting heart rate are simply N=1 and a mere snapshot in one life. I don’t see any significant source of EPA/DHA either, so how and if he builds robust cell-membranes is a mystery and certainly open for debate.
He wants to prove that retinoids are only toxins and that the preponderance of medical-research is wrong; especially in its identification of retinoic acid as a necessary molecule for morphological processes via its purported role as a transcriptional agent. There is no doubt that it can be one, witness teratogenicity effects, but the literature would have us believe it is a super-man molecule as well. I read one study recently that had it transcribing over 6,000 genes. I joke that Heisenberg was probably involved in designing their inferential machines and indeed, for decades, researchers were inferring what was going on regarding RA. The dogma is really thick when you get deep into it. I don’t doubt that mammals and birds have evolved ways to use the retinoids as you note regarding pigs, and my experience raising chickens confirms on that, but this is more a question of dose.
One study I found from an endocrinology journal published in 2018 noted how a severe trauma can cause a 10X-spillage of unbound retinol from the liver, which may help explain the common occurrence whereby the onset of a variety of autoimmune conditions are preceded by trauma, either physical or emotional. Correlation is not causation, but this is only one brick in a growing wall of evidence.
Many of us who have read his books and participate on his blog are still consuming low-to-moderate levels of the retinoids and seeing positive results as our serum-a decreases to the lower-end of the reference range. Few of us see his restrictive diet as something sustainable or absolutely necessary to reduce our VA-loads, but I think he is pretty clear about his own experimentation and related advice.
I regard expert-consensus with a great deal of caution. Verifying that retinoic acid is right up there with Thalidomide on the list of teratogens, gives one pause to consider what amount might be OK. How is our understanding of cyanide and mercury any different? The body appears to have multiple-layers of protection in the form of what are described as retinoid binding-proteins for transport purposes, but which could be acting more in the manner of antibodies, since these proteins are produced in many organ cells, not just the liver, and apparently not just for transport purposes.
I can see both your points about cholesterol and Grant’s points about the root cause of CVD being RA-induced lesions. I don’t think they are necessarily exclusive or contradictory. The lesion-hypothesis goes back a long way, including the work of Linus Pauling and Matthias Rath. I have seen a good deal of evidence that Vitamin C may well counter VA in some way, and which could account for some of its debatable benefits. Studies designed to account for VA-status when looking at other nutrients like Vitamin C are not readily available.
As you can see, I’m not a ditto-head re: Grant’s work. He doesn’t have to be correct on all fronts, to appreciate the fact that he spotted something that the world of medicine has ignored, even though the evidence is readily available in its own research. I have binders full of smoking-gun papers and abstracts on this toxicity question.
All of the auto-immune diseases that I’ve studied are highly correlated with epithelial-tissue dysfunction, right down to the stem-cell, basal layer. This is where retinoic acid is most implicated in enraging the immune-system; a condition that can be seen as immune cells dealing with the cellular-effects of a toxin; one that acts like a phantom-pathogen in terms of immune-response. As cells die from RA-poisoning, they send out powerful-signals for replacement growth as well as for immune-assistance in their toxin-induced euthanasia and its after-effects. There may be a Goldilocks window, wherein one has just the right amount, but how does that vary by age, size of one’s liver, other factors like Vitamin D, etc? That’s what we’re delving into.
Many, if not most of our modern diseases were quite rare 100 years ago, in the days when infectious diseases were our main problems. What I have learned from the peer-reviewed literature is that almost no one is looking for actual cures for the 50-plus auto-immune diseases. Patentable therapies to interrupt the down-stream effects of the toxicity are where the money is. I went to the yearly research-update on Alzheimer’s at a U-M hosted event and found little to refute that observation. This is a gravy-train for medicine, law-firms, care-facilities and support-groups. We have over 180,000 diagnosed cases in Michigan alone, with a caregiver ratio above one. Pretty soon society will be training autistic youth to provide that care if we don’t hit medical bankruptcy first.
On a side-note, retinoic acid is used in chemotherapy for the very reason that it enrages the immune-system. It is not very effective in that it is such a systemic-poison. People that survive chemo, as my mother did, do so in spite of it imho.
I think it is fitting that an engineer recognized the very thing that was causing his eczema, chronic kidney disease, failing eyesight, painful joints, whitened hair and unexplained fatigue. And it didn’t take him very long to note the commonality between the food-triggers. He claims those conditions resolved in two years and has continued the diet for five, thus far.
So, while I don’t go along with some of what he’s saying, and that's a rather long discussion, I also understand that the experts can be very wrong, over long spans of time, as the work of Ellis reveals about ancient people being well-aware of a heliocentric solar-system and how the Catholic Church apparently buried that knowledge for centuries, for all intents and purposes.
I tend to think that Grant’s proposition of sub-clinical retinoid-toxicity may be analogous to Galileo in some respects. In the same sense that the Church likely had the ancient texts at its disposal, and operated with that knowledge, I’d love to know how many doctors take their own vaccinations, given the dangers of which they are well-aware. These are very similar things, as medicine becomes increasingly dogmatic and approximates a theology applicable for the masses, but laden with hypocrisy and deception. It’s hard to sort the truth, especially in light of what Marcia Angell said after leaving her position at the New England Journal of Medicine. She informed us that some large percentage of research was not scientific at all. I can even see it from a layman's perspective, after plowing through so many uncontrolled studies.
Grant does have a curious conspiracy-theory of sorts in his first book, which is a longer ramble than his second, but includes some very interesting nuggets of information. He hypothesized that SV-40, introduced in the polio vaccines of the 1950’s, was causing a major increase of cancer and that in a panic-move, the authorities were looking for something that might counter that. He proposes that the only thing on-the-shelf that they thought could do the job was retinol. We’ll probably never know, any more than the intricacies that led to the anti-cholesterol stance of modern medicine, partially-based on the misinterpreted Framingham fiasco. These things are very complicated and the people in-the-know die off.
That’s a wrap for now, but I’d love to hear your impressions after you’ve had a chance to read the chapters I noted, if not the whole book. The one about the botched animal experiments of the 1920’s is fascinating, as it locates the main branch-in-the-road.