Historically, people were injured or died from 1. child birth (mom or baby), 2. trauma (farm accidents, war, duels) and 3. various infectious diseases. Perinatal mortality is much improved, and People still come to the ED for trauma and infection but with modern sanitation, antibiotics, medical and surgical practices; people usually are surviving these events.
However, despite these advanced, in the last 100 years we have seen an explosion of chronic inflammatory illnesses from lupus to crohns disease, asthma, and even hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. Some argue that these inflammatory disorders were always there but we are seeing more of them today because people are living longer today and we are recognizing them better.
It is my belief that man's time is limited by our telomere length which is currently up to 120 years. (google telomere). I believe that man doesn't reach that upper limit not because our defective organs wear out early, but because there are some environmental factors damaging our organs. According to the Bible, God designed our organs to last up to 1000 years. As I see it, either God screwed up designing us, or we are depriving and/or poisoning ourselves in some way.
Also, many people lived to old age even during the Middle Ages. Much of the reason for the supposed shorter life span is because the reported value averages all the babies that died at birth with everyone else. If you survived birth, you were likely to live a long time just like today.
All these modern chronic inflammatory diseases have something in common. They all are associated with elevated homocysteine levels. Accordingly, homocysyeine is considered a nonspecific marker of inflammation. But, thats just it. Homocysteine is not nonspecific, homocysyeine is a very specific biochemical intermediate in the sulfur and DNA repair pathway. Could it be that elevated homocysteine is pointing us directly to what the problem is-- Sulfate deficiency?
Turns out that sulfate (SO4^2-) is used all over in the body for many things. It is one of the most important negative ions (anions) in the body after chloride (Cl-) and bicarbonate (CO3^2-). Sulfate is used to make other more complex molecules more soluble. The liver conjugates toxins and drugs with sulfate so they can be excreated by the kidney. Similarly, many important complex molecules in the body are sulfated to increase their solubility.
You might have heard of thr good cholesterol that is in egg yokes and is found in our brain. Or you might have taken glucosamine and condroitin for your joints. An important natural blood thinner is heparin. However, in reality its not just cholesterol, but cholesterol sulfate, glucosamine sulfate, condroitin sulfate, and heparin sulfate. Without sulfate, the body cannot produce or utilize these important biomolecules. No sulfate means no heparin sulfate which leads to blood clots like heart attcks, stroke and pulmonary embolism.
You might also have also heard of gutathione. Glutathione (GSH) is the master antioxidant for each cell. Glutathione protects the cell from oxidative damage. When dietitians tell us to eat a diet of fresh fruits and veggies rich in antioxidants, those antioxidant keep glutathione in its protective state. Glutathione is chock full of sulfur amino acids. You could consume all the antioxidants possible, but without sulfate you wouldn't produce the glutathione for the other antioxidants to keep active.
Humans get sulfate in two ways. First, we can directly consume inorganic sulfate. The body easily absorbs sulfate and distributes it throughout the body. Second, if there is not enough inorganic sulfate in the diet, the body can convert sulfur-containing amino acids in protein like methionine and cysteine into sulfate. In fact, despite the importants of sulfate to our health, the FDA makes absolutely no recommendations for our daily sulfate requirement. Sadly, the government considers sulfate to be a acid rain causing pollutant and has gone to great lengths to scrub it out of our coal and gasoline.
The FDA assumes that we can just get all the sulfate we need by converting sulfur amino acids into sulfate. The problem with this is that converting methionine and cysteine to sulfate is very expensive and requires B12, B6, and folate to do the transformation.
What I'm saying is that that all these modern chronic inflammatory diseases may be helped by getting more inorganic sulfate in the diet. How do you do this? Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate and easily found at every corner pharmacy and grocery store in the western world. In addition, in contrast to the hundreds and even thousands of dollars of prescription medicine that many consume on a monthly basis to control but never cure these diseases, epsom salt is less than 1$.
We have romantic stories of the fountain of youth and healing in volcanic warm springs. FDR even stayed at warm springs, GA recuperating from Polio. However, it just may be that it wasn't soaking in these sulfated waters that was healing but drinking them.
Now if you think that this theory about epsom salt and sulfate is far-fetched or too good to be true, consider 1. magnesium sulfate is already used very effectively to treat several acute exacerbations of chronic inflammatory conditions like asthma, migraine and preeclampsia. 2. epsom salt is already safely taken as a home remedy by numerous very healthy 85-year-olds in the southern US. This population who regularly consume epsom salt have much less disease than do their children. 3. Methyltrexate is a powerful chemotherapy drug that blocks folate metabolism that is also used to treat many of these inflammatory diseases. By looking at the biochemical pathway above showing folate and homocysteine, I hope you can see that taking extra sulfate is a much easier way to boost sulfate deficency than by blocking folate-dependent DNA repair pathways.
Why does being folate-deficiency cause inflammation? The body will do what it needs to do to survive. When the body is cold it will shunt bood away from the limbs to the core to preserve core body heat resulting in frostbite and loss of limbs before loss of life. The body is a Master at "stealing from Peter to pay Paul".
When the body is sulfate deficent, it will become catabolic and start to cannibalize sulfate from various tissues. My hunch is that while the body is cannibalizing sulfate, there is a risk of the body developing an exaggerated immune response against a particular tissue. There may be genetic factors that predispose someone to which tissue this might be or it might be random chance. An autoimmune response to the skin is eczema or psoriasis. A reaction in the lungs might be asthma or pulmonary hypertension.
Sodium Benzoate is a ubiquitous food preservative found in soda pop, imitation maple syrup, BBQ sauce, soy sauce, salad dressings, and even store-bought humus. Sodium benzoate is a D-aminoacid oxidase inhibitor and blocks the conversion of homocysyeine to sulfate. This dangerous food preservative should be avoided.