Index Home About Blog
From: ((Steven B. Harris))
Subject: Re: Whats up with Pearson & Shaw
Date: 17 Jun 1995

In <> (Brian
Manning Delaney) writes:

>In article <3rob9l$>,
>((Steven B Harris)) wrote, among other things:
>>The savaging of P&S you may be thinking of was a long chapter in Jack
>>Yetiv, M.D., Ph.D.'s _Popular Nutrition Practices_, circa 1986 or so.
>>An excellent book which naturally didn't sell nearly as well.
>Is the goal of universal literacy really worth it? (Oops --
>spontaneous uncontrollable channeling of Nietzsche; Sorry,
>of course it's worth it [esp. for people like P&S...] --
>just must also teach other things.)
>Tim Freeman (now at, a long time ago, contributed the
>following to this group about Yetiv's book:
>Here's a pointer to a book written by a physician who seemed to me to
>have his head on straight and to be highly critical of Pearson & Shaw:
>   Type of Material: Book
>     LC Call Number: RM217 .Y47 1986
>             Author: Yetiv, Jack Z.
>              Title: Popular nutritional practices : a scientific appraisal /
>                      Jack Zeev Yetiv.
>   Publication Info: Toledo, Ohio : Popular Medicine Press, c1986.
>  Phys. Description: 318 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
>              Notes: Includes bibliographies and index.
>           Subjects: Diet therapy--Evaluation.
>           Subjects: Reducing diets--Evaluation.
>           Subjects: Nutrition.
>           Subjects: Therapeutic systems--Evaluation.
>           Subjects: Diet Therapy.
>           Subjects: Nutrition.
>           Subjects: Vitamins--therapeutic use.
>     LC Card Number:    85023243
>               ISBN: 0-936575-30-1 : $32.95
>               ISBN: 0-936575-29-8 (pbk.) : $23.95
>I suspect the book is out of print; you can probably get it by
>interlibrary loan.
>Many physicians seem to equate "X is not proven" with "X is false".  I
>started reading this book expecting the author to make the same
>mistake, but he didn't; he seemed to understand the idea of a rational
>gamble.  His recommendation is fairly conservative: low fat, mostly
>vegetarian diet and exercise.  But the more interesting part of the
>book is his debunking of various nutritional fads.
>He had several criticisms of P&S.  Here are some, best as I remember:
>1. Their text had no pointers to their bibliography, which means that
>if you question one of their claims, you either have to do the
>literature search yourself, or you have to look up all of the
>relevant-looking references in the bibliography.  You can't ever
>really prove they made something up; it could be in a paper not
>indexed by the database you use for your literature search, or it
>could be in one of the hopelessly obscure references from their
>bibliography that you couldn't find.  (For example, I wasn't ever able
>to find any documents about L-phenylalanine being used as an
>antidepressant, although personal experience tells me it is
>amphetamine-like when taken with appropriate doses of vitamins B6 and
>2. They got many, many details wrong.  Yetiv spends pages pointing to
>errors of fact in Life Extension.
>3. P&S assume that if a treatment makes sick people better, it will
>make healthy people better in the same way.  For instance, L-Dopa
>improves the mental functioning of people with Parkinson's disease.
>Durk Pearson took L-Dopa when LE was written, even though he didn't
>have Parkinson's.  There isn't any evidence that L-Dopa prevents
>Parkinson's; it just makes the symptoms go away for a while.  So
>taking it if you don't have Parkinson's seems like a poor risk.
>Brian M. Delaney <> [DO NOT cc: articles to me.]
><> [Wrists: "Leave unambiguous typos."]
>Note: All statements in this article are in jest; they are not
>statements of fact. * "Mein Genie ist in meinen Nuestern." -Nietzsche.

Yeah, I had much the same problems with P&S, dispite being influenced by
their outlook to some degree (they go in my guilty pleasures file--
fantasy about what the world would be like if you could just mix your
own nutrients and slow your aging process while all your enemies got
wrinkles and heart disease....).  Regarding screwups, I managed to track
one of their references to the (supposedly) somniferous effects of
inositol back through some of the primary literature they'd cited
(loosely) in the back of the chapter.  Wups, guess what?  They'd been
reading a paper on natural ligands of the benzodiazepine receptor, and
confused inositol with inosine (helped out by Pffeifer's claims that
inositol is sleep inducing).  Inosine actually HAS some demonstrated
Valium like effects in some animals (birds), but to this day you're
going to see inositol in sleep remedies, and inosine in body builder
stuff to pump you up.  Another great example of the fact that most pills
do pretty much what you expect them to <g>.

   And by the way, there's absolutely NO evidence for all that stuff
about having to take vitamin C with cysteine to prevent cystine stones,
although even Walford fell for it, and repeats it in his book.  If
anything, vitamin C increases cystine excretion.

                                             Steve Harris, M.D.

From: ((Steven B. Harris))
Subject: Re: GHB is OTC in Canada?
Date: 14 Jul 1995

In <3ta4vq$> (ABrad94101)

>Twinlab isn't a pharmaceutical co . They don't make sleeping pills.

Well, they don't SAY they make sleeping pills.  But they are damned coy
about the labeling of their product which contains GABA, inositol, and
niacinamide (the latter two compounds being the ones which just happen
to be said by Pearson and Shaw to bind to the benzodiazepine receptor.)
The label promises a "synergistic mixture," (you figure out for what)
and then merely says: "May be taken before bedtime."

Pearson and Shaw are wrong about inositol, BTW.  They confused it with
inosine (most embarrassing).  But the placebo effect marches on.
Twinlab knows who its customers read.

                                          Steve Harris, M.D.

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: Inositol
Date: 14 Feb 1999 05:32:21 GMT

In <7a5kj5$kgk$> writes:

>I understand that many articles from the medical say that inositol helps
>depressive individuals very well. I have long-standing chronic
>depression, and need to take antidepressants for life. I would like to
>add inositol to my regime for the rest of my life. However, I hesitate,
>because I am not sure of the long-term consequences of taking inositol
>for life. Also, I am not sure if I will need to take the other B vitamins
>of the B-complex vitamins. I hear that one should not take one B vitamin
>alone. And, if I need to take the other B-complex vitamins, what could be
>the long-term consequences of taking inositol and the other B-complex
>vitamins for life?
>Any comments, web-sites, literature addressing these issues would be

   Nobody has done a randomized controlled lifetime study of ANYTHING
on people.

    Studies of such things in animals with death as the endpoint are
rare.  None has been done on inositol.  Inositol is not quite
innocuous, however, as it has been reported to occasionally cause a
peripheral neuropathy in at least one animal model.  The doses used for
depression and anxiety are quite large-- on the order of 10 times your
body's own production.  If you take it at 15 grams a day or so, watch
for tingling or numbness in the toes.

   Animal diets are routinely supplemented with quite a lot of B
vitamins, often many times RDA, and these are harmless, at least, in
rodents.   I did a lifetime study of huge doses of folate for a
lifetime in mice, and it was completely without toxic or beneficial
effect.  So I can vouch for that one.  Williams did a lifetime study of
a large amount of pantothenate (sometimes called B5) and thought it
actually lenghened life.  That study hasn't been repeated.
Epidemiology in humans, who've been megadosing on B vitamins for a long
time, suggests also that most are harmless.  B6 has problems at over
200 mg a day, and niacin at over about 500 mg a day.

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: D-chiro-inositol
Date: 5 May 1999 23:44:07 GMT

In <> Tom Matthews <> writes:

>Michael Wade wrote:
>> I would be interested to find out information on this substance (which
>> I assume is a polysaccharide) - in particular I would like to know the
>> best natural plant sources and I would also be interested to know what
>> concentrations (very approximately) it occurs in fruit and vegetables.
>The name that you are giving is not a modern identifier of a specific
>chemical (at least not to my various references). I can only assume that
>this is one of the 9 sterioisomers of inositol, of which several occur
>naturally. Although inositol is known as "meat sugar", it is not a
>polysaccharide. It is a cyclohexane (6 carbon ring) with every carbon
>having both an OH and an H attached to it. Inositol occurs widely in both
>animals and plants (part of the fiber as phytic acid or inositol
>hexaphosphate), but I have no idea which if any sources contain more of
>any particular stereoisomer.
>Tom Matthews

  I think that most, if not all, of the inositol in nature is
1,2,3,5/4,6 inositol, also known as i-inositol, meso-inositol or
myo-inositol.  As the meso indicates, this molecule has no
stereoisomers, because the mirror image can be converted to the
original by simply swapping it around, head to tail.  Thus, it is its
own mirror image.

    OH       OH
    |-------|  OH
   / OH      \|        1,2,3,5/4,6 hexahydroxyhexane (myo-inositol)
  |\|_______ /
  OH        |

   In the body, derivitives of myo-inositol can be phosphated to second
messagers or reacted with lipids in many ways, and these compounds
often are stereoactive (generally D) and the body's enzymes can tell
the stereoisomers.  But the sterospecificity in in these compunds only,
not in the inositol that goes to make them.  Cleave off the
substituents and you get plain old m-inositol again.

   Incidentally, lindane (gammexane) is 1,2,3,5/4,6
(gamma)hexachlorohexane, the same meso molecule, but with chlorines
instead of hydroxyls.  It apparently interfers with insect m-inositol

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: D-chiro-inositol
Date: 5 May 1999 23:50:54 GMT

In <7ghb0v$6e1$> "Michael Wade"
<> writes:

>I would be interested to find out information on this substance (which I
>assume is a polysaccharide) - in particular I would like to know the best
>natural plant sources and I would also be interested to know what
>concentrations (very approximately) it occurs in fruit and vegetables.
>Many Thanks.

   There is no such single substance.  The common inositol in your body
and in plants is myo-inositol and isn't chiral.  There are D-chiral
inositol compounds in humans and plants, but the chirality is not due
to the inositol itself.  These are still substituted m-inositols, and
only become chiral because of the asymetry of the substituents with
regard to the 2--6 symmetry axis.  Take these off and you still have

    Where did you find the term, and why do you ask?

From: B. Harris)
Subject: Re: D-chiro-inositol
Date: 6 May 1999 11:50:46 GMT

In <> Tom Matthews <> writes:

>Therefore, I expect the 'if not all' is incorrect.
>But, yes, I goofed. I should have said (as Merck did) "there are nine
>*possible* steroisomers, of which seven are optically inactive or meso."

     OH       OH
    / OH      \
   |\|_______ /|
   OH        | OH

   Comment:  Yes, it seems I goofed as well.  I had thought there were
two pairs of stereoisomers, but can find only one.  The D,L pair
consists of the one above, and its mirror image.  I don't know which of
this chiral pair is D, but it seems that "D-inositol" (the "chiro" is
redundant) is indeed enough to specify which of the 9 isomers of
inositol one is talking about.  The seven remaining meso isomers have

1:  All OH's "up"
2:  One up, 5 down
3:  Two up (1,2) four down (3,4,5,6)
4:  Two up (1,3) four down (2,4,5,6)
5:  Two up (1,4) four down (2,3,5,6)
6:  Three up (1,2,3)  three down (4,5,6)
7:  Three up (1,3,5)  three down (2,4,6)

Index Home About Blog