Home > Uncategorized > On Supplements and Brian Peskin

On Supplements and Brian Peskin

I’m sort of coasting on the high of not being an evolutionary dead-end as a member of the species. I’ll be even happier if I can repeat such stellar performance next month. And there’s been such interesting, heartening stuff on the web these days.

But I should really keep thinking…

If going “paleo” triggered such dismal results of hypothyroid and amenorrhea, I wonder:

What is lacking in the paleo diet that causes this?

Well, the #1 suspect so far seems to be iodine, or possibly minerals in general, depleted from the soil by industrial agriculture that leaves farmland where “The cycles-the hydrological cycle, the mineral cycle with its nesting nitrogen, carbon, and calcium cycles-have been disrupted by the human activity of agriculture, an activity more like war than anything else” (The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith, p. 104).

Traditional fertility foods include seafood, dairy, and organ meats (Real Food for Mother and Baby by Nina Planck, p. 51). These foods supply a good amount of fat (generally present – in some fashion – in paleo diets), and minerals (which, due to soil depletion, might not be).

Hence the “conventional wisdom” of the Paleo eating philosophy: Eat clean, whole, real food. Preferably organic. Preferably grass-fed. And even though, ideally, you should be able to get more than adequate nutrition this way, maybe you should take supplements, because food raised on depleted soil isn’t what it used to be, and our toxic and stress loads are chronic in ways we were never meant to deal with.

So, supplements.


I mentioned before that I only ever felt a noticeable difference from taking four supplements (though I continue to be neurotic and take a heaping handful a day). We’ll add iodine to that list, bringing it to five. The four other supplements are:

  1. L-tyrosine (energizing)
  2. One of the following: L-tryptophan, 5-HTP, or melatonin (sleep promoting. Weirdly, only 5-HTP ever made me feel like my brain had been hit by a brick.)
  3. Fish oil (no noticeable effects EXCEPT when I took too much. On these occasions, I was sleepless and incredibly strung out)
  4. Hemp oil, or an LA/ALA blend (as specified here)


The controversial bit:

A few weeks ago, I was listening to Livin La Vida Low-Carb podcast interview with Brian Peskin.

And Brian Peskin vilified fish oil supplements and recommended supplementing with seed derived omega-6/omega-3 blends. Say what? But everyone recommends organic, contaminant-free fish oils .

Hmm.

Harkening back on my own n=1 experience, I remembered how fish oil (I took Carlson’s liquid) never seemed to make any noticeable difference in my life, leading me to keep increasing the dose (foolishly), until suddenly, unexpectedly, at the drop of a hat, I just couldn’t sleep. At all. I lay awake for hours, fatigued and miserable, until the alarm rang in the morning.

Hmm.

Brian Peskin comes across as a bit of a salesman, a bit of a huckster, but that’s neither here nor there. His books are expensive, but there are several podcasts that you can listen to for free. A lot of what he espouses is not (particularly) controversial in paleo circles: Dietary carbohydrates, which are unnecessary for life, drive blood sugar which drives insulin which drives fat storage. Dietary sources of natural, unadulterated fats and proteins are essential for life and health. Grass-fed meat is best.

The major point of controversy is the whole omega-6/omega-3 ratio. According to Peskin:

  • Human beings only need to ingest 2 essential (what he calls parental) polyunsaturated fatty acids: ALA and LA, and from these our bodies can manufacture all the derivative “EFA’s” (such as EPA and DHA) tha t we need.
  • Therefore, the fish oil supplementation leads to pharmacological overdoses of EPA and DHA (unscientifically, I will say that this jives with my own n=1 experience)

I emailed Brain Peskin a few questions, and he has given me leave to post some of his answers. Here are a few:

Q: What are the origins of the idea that we need SO MUCH supplemental DHA and EPA (the health industry’s current recommendations for fish oil)?

Brian Peskin: **likely the fact that the brain and retina have large amounts of DHA (although insignificant EPA). what they all overlook is the fact that the DHA can be replaced in brain and nervous system slowly….i have never seen an analysis of what the doses of the derivatives are as high as they are in spite of being pharmacological overdoses.

Q: Is the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats pretty much ideal in grass-fed meat?

Brian Peskin: **yes —- 2-3:1 in favor of parent omega-6 — very good.

Speculation: Historically, cultures that lived inland, with little access to fish and seafood, went out of their way to trade for such foods. Perhaps it wasn’t the omega-3 fats they were after, but the minerals, such as iodine, that were not plentiful in their own soil.

This is all very compelling and seemingly logical, which is again neither here nor there.

But I’m a sucker, so I purchased Peskin’s book, The Hidden Story of Cancer. I’m still trying to get my head around it, but will write more soon, especially since he elaborates on the actual, biochemical, physiological mechanisms/metabolic pathways behind his recommendations.

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  1. January 31, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    I was wondering about him. He did sound kind of crazy, but I try to keep a somewhat open mind.

    Flag Gal

    • commutergrrl
      January 31, 2010 at 10:31 pm

      He does seem crazy and contrary, but his book says a lot of compelling things which I feel I’m not quite in a position to judge at the moment and certainly can’t refute (yet?). Meanwhile, I was actually struck by some similarities between him and Gary Taubes. (Again, that’s neither here nor there, necessarily.) Their personalities are pretty much opposite, but 1) They both have extensively researched the scientific literature, and 2) They came to virtually IDENTICAL conclusions about insulin, carbohydrates (down to the level of glycerol 3-phosphate!), the lipid hypothesis, the diet-heart hypothesis, and the effectiveness of fiber and exercise for fat loss. So I’m giving this serious thought, at least for now, and trying (slowly and lazily) to check up on the references.

  2. January 31, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Actually when I took refrigerated fresh pressed flax I got good results, not so much from fish oil capsules…I suspect most are rancid…now I buy refrigerated cod liver oil and only take it every once in awhile. You might try evening primrose oil…it’s supposed to improve the cycles.

    • commutergrrl
      January 31, 2010 at 10:35 pm

      I tried the refrigerated fermented cod liver oil (Blue Ice, I think?) and flax seed oil, but nothing seemed to happen. Evening primrose oil seemed to lead to minor skin improvements, and maybe I’ll pursue that further. For now, I’m going to keep on rocking the 50 mg of iodine. 🙂

  3. Matthias
    February 1, 2010 at 3:18 am

    Hi there,
    Peskin seems to be all the rage lately. Well, all that talk at least made me screw cod liver oil. As I’ve never seen much of a benefit from it and by now think that it is more harmful than helpful.
    Still not sure what to think about the whole PEO business.

    Also started iodine recently. Have only taken it three times, but my body temperature seems to have risen a little and my hands also feel a bit warmer.

    Makes me wonder whether lack of carbs or lack of iodine was the main cause for my demise. Right now I believe it was a combination of lack of carbs, lack of calories, not enough iodine, perhaps even too much veggies or protein.
    However since I think most of the primal peeps are a little ignorant about carbs, I will continue to ingest big amounts of potatoes and sweet potatoes, at leastuntil I’m back to “normal”, basically a diet similiar to the Kitavan diet, as coconut oil and fish both probably will be beneficial in my situation. And even after that I’ll probably keep carbs fairly high at least from a paleo standpoint.

    • commutergrrl
      February 1, 2010 at 11:38 am

      Definitely, it could be any one or more those factors…and your individual physiology and experience is important, especially since it is your life! If tubers make you feel better, or even if junk food makes someone out there healthier, we can’t just ignore these things. We all have so much to learn!

    • February 3, 2010 at 8:28 am

      Dear Matthias,

      “Makes me wonder whether lack of carbs… was the main cause for my demise.”

      Would you kindly elaborate on your meaning of “demise”? Usually someone who has met their demise would not be leaving comments on a blog…

      • Matthias
        February 3, 2010 at 2:14 pm

        Oh, well blame my bad English. I’m not a native speaker. I was meaning something like “bad situation”.

  4. February 2, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Hello Commuter,

    I wish I had more time this morning before I head off to work, but alas, since moving from my Shangri-la in the countryside of Japan to Tokyo, the speed of time (i.e. one minute passing) has doubled from what it used to be.

    I am really glad that you purchased Brian’s book “The Hidden Story of Cancer”. I think you will enjoy it, and I hope you will take time to test out the puzzle that Brian is continually working on piecing together.

    Had I found you before you did, I might have introduced you to his “The 24-Hour Diet”. It’s not a how to lose weight book, but rather a book filled with the science of the body and nutrition that Brian has rewritten completely and published in this form. His first book was “Radiant Health Beyond the Zone” and that was what “woke me up”. I have to admit he was very much “in your face” and I thought it could put off a lot of people (as some have mentioned in the comments section regarding his presentation). Well, that book has been updated and brought into the future with even MORE science than what was known up to 10-20 years ago.

    I have been testing and challenging Brian for 10 years now since I first found fish oil pills (*burp*). They helped me in the beginning unbeknownst to me. But that stopped. And then I started going further into my testing and researching, for I AM a scientist by training, and have been a very inquisitive boy since my early childhood (my parents told me I scooted around on all fours and put everything in my mouth, thus resulting in many sandy diapers). I still find taste and smell to be very important in my life.

    Simply said, although I disagreed with Brian 10 years ago (I am an athlete and we all “know” that you NEED energy (carbs/sugar) for sports….. – totally false, but this is what we have been trained to believe), I now am 125.7% in support of everything he shares.

    In addition to the majority of his work being “puzzle piecing”, he has brought many new landmark ideas to the foreground that are now being implemented in cancer research, health, diabetes treatment and more. He doesn’t make this stuff up; he bases everything he shares on the science that is already out there, and the physiology, chemistry and more of our bodies utilizing the exact same medical textbooks and more that all doctors study to become … doctors! What is the biggest difference? Brian wants us to PREVENT ourselves from becoming sick, while doctors are trained to treat us AFTER WE HAVE BECOME SICK. (not a very good way to move through life in the USA especially with the expensive healthcare). The way he approaches things is from a scientist’s perspective, a researcher, a technical person who needs to put pieces of the puzzle together to solve something and see a bigger picture.

    And he does that exceedingly well.

    I would highly recommend looking at http://www.scienceofhealthindex.com and seeing a huge compendium of science there for anyone and everyone to read on a plethora of topics that we all consider “controversial”. It all makes sense and helps to expand the mind enough to get a more open attitude to the science that Brian wants us to know through his books, his talks, his papers (can get them all at http://www.brianpeskin.com and we SHOULD read them to understand).

    Brian has put the puzzle together, but for most of us we are still puzzling over it. The best thing we can do is to read and IMPLEMENT or test (as I did so many times over the years and still do) all of the science that is out there. If it is right, it should work. If what society is doing is right, if what we are told to do is right, we should be getting healthier. Are we? The answer to that question is pretty obvious when one looks at the health statistics on obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more.

    It’s up to us in the end, and simply reading won’t do it because we have had decades of misinformation (no matter how earnestly people have tried to share it) imprinted in our brains. Getting the brain (and the ego) to come away from “the dark side” into the “fountain of youth” and enjoy the spray of healthfulness is not always an easy thing to do. But it’s worth it.

    My life changed 10 years ago when I tested out what Brian has taken decades to share. But I never stop testing. And I never stop getting healthier. Ten years later when I see my friends who don’t have this information, or refuse to listen or even test it out… I am shocked at how much they have all aged.

    Excuse me for writing more than your blog, but I have written so much about this topic on my various blogs (not the WordPress one, though – that is a different purpose) that I could go on, and on, and one. Searching for “camswitzer” or “cameron switzer” might pull up some of that on the search engines. It usually does. But it also pulls up a lot more of my stuff out there so it’s getting hard to sift through my life to find the stuff just on health, and the correct ratio of omega 6 : omega 3 fatty acids.

    Best of luck, and give his book an honest read, and then test it out. You should be able to see positive effects with the changes. I have. And so has every single person I have talked to about this, introduced Brian to as well. Life-altering. For the better of course!

    Cam Switzer

    • commutergrrl
      February 2, 2010 at 10:33 pm

      Thanks for the comments! I am actually in the process of reading both Peskin’s books and implementing his recommendations to see what will happen. His work is very compelling, so I definitely want to put it to the test. I will certainly check out the sites you suggest as well, and do my best to wrap my brain around them.

  5. Dexter
    February 3, 2010 at 4:28 am
    • February 3, 2010 at 8:25 am

      Dexter – This article was written by a researcher whom Peskin greatly admired. Unfortunately as it turns out, her attack against Brian’s work was not based on science, but upon her personal opinion. This was very unfortunate as it truly does her a great discredit. Everyone in the world who has read, studied, tested Brian’s explanations of the science of nutrition will tell you that he really HAS put the pieces to the puzzle together and come up with some very brilliant interpolating and extrapolating.

      Please don’t jump to conclusions before you have given this science a good long hard look. And test. Finally somebody put it all together so that it really does make sense.

  6. Matthias
    February 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    So does hemp oil already contain the rate ratio of PEOs that Peskin recommends.

    Also, while we are talking about alternative cancer theory. Have you heard about the theory that Cancer actually could be a fungus? http://www.cancerfungus.com/ There’s also the book out there about it as well (here’s a little review of it: http://fourfoldhealing.com/articles/#books ) Kinda weird how there are so many different theories for cancer out there and the medical system still continues with radical procedures like chemotherapy which probably don’t do anything at all.

    But maybe those theories actually are connected. I don’t know if I actually understood Peskin right, but in the Living La Vida Low-Carb podcast featuring him, I think he somehow mentioned how carbs are very bad for someone with cancer and how yeast may develop after the cancerous cells have formed. However, I’m not really sure whether he really said “yeast”. Have you so far maybe read anything about that in Peskin’s book?

    • commutergrrl
      February 3, 2010 at 11:22 pm

      In his book, Peskin recommends a higher omega-3 to omega-6 blend than is found in hemp oil (hemp oil is to high in omega-6, and flax oil is too high in omega-3). On the other hand, the actual label on the bottle of hemp oil I have claims its ratio is 1:3.5 (omega-3/ALA to omega-6/LA), which is close to Peskin’s recommended 1:2-3, so maybe I’d just add a little flax oil.

      The yeast mentioned in Peskin’s podcast was part of an experiment to show that cancer cells are deficient in oxygen. I think it went like this: Scientists knew that yeast can only survive without oxygen, so they introduced yeast into the bodies of mice with cancer. The yeast was able to thrive in the tumor tissue, thus proving that the tumor tissue was oxygen deficient. In this particular case, the cancer existed before the yeast, but both the yeast and the cancer cells were able to thrive because of the oxygen depletion. Peskin’s main theme is that oxygen depletion (however it comes about – malfunctioning cell membranes due to trans fats, environmental toxins, etc.) is the prime cause of cancer, and all other risk factors (smoking, yeast) turn out to be secondary causes or just associated incidences.

      I think I do remember hearing the fungus theory of cancer, but I’ll have to go back and review it. When you get to be my age, you forget a lot!

  7. March 15, 2014 at 12:34 am

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  8. Matthew
    • Meeses
      February 22, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      Oddly enough, I just sort of lost interest. I think these sorts of polyunsaturated fats DO have an effect, but I’m now not entirely sure if they’re a good or desirable or even long term effect.

  9. TheBride
    February 22, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    Peskin’s work cured me of psoriasis from an acute case of strep and walking pneumonia (direct from a really sick person next to me on an airplane, another story….). His research is pretty solid. His supplements are of a good quality. He’s not a salesman, he’s a total geek.

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