GlycoNutrition and chronic diseases

Sugars That Heal

By Emil I. Mondoa, MD, and Mindy Kitei

The Ballantine Publishing Group;

Hardcover, ISBN 0-345-44106-0, 2001, 262 pp., $22.00 US, $33 Canada

It is unusual for a book to appear that introduces a new concept that is virtually unknown to the general public, let alone the medical community. This is such a book. Sugars That Heal opens the door to the emerging science of glyconutrition. The field of glycobiology has been eclipsed by the medical trends of immunology in the 80's and genetics in the 90's. In this book, glyconutrition, the part of glycobiology that has lain dormant through the developing years of medical science is introduced and is heralded as a sleeping giant with far reaching potential in health and wellness.

It is an accepted fact that carbohydrates are utilized to produce energy, and in this function they play a clearly established role in the overall economy of the body. The new concept is that carbohydrates play an equally important role in the structure of the body. Further, because structure and function are inextricably tied together, and since glyconutrients are ubiquitously distributed throughout the cells of the body, the effect upon cellular function is profound. The book presents this concept in an easily understood manner and illustrates through case histories this new approach to disease.

The author begins with his own personal history involving glyconutrients, an experience that began his inquiry which eventually led to his becoming an authority in this field. In the preface, he shares that shortly after immigrating to America and beginning a residency in pediatrics, his life became overloaded with stresses causing his health to suffer. Immigration status was uncertain. His usual good health was deteriorating. He was exhausted, had frequent colds and he began experiencing chest pain. Also, he developed a rash that did not respond to medications. At a friend's suggestion, he began taking Ambrotose, a glyconutrient powder containing the eight essential saccharides. Within a week he felt calmer and more energetic. In a month all other symptoms disappeared. After his personal experience, he started using glyconutrients in his practice. He saw good results in patients for whom antibiotics and steroids had not worked. And so began Dr. Mondoa's exploration into the field of saccharides and glyconut rients.

Sugars That Heal is divided into three main sections. In the first part, the author defines essential saccharides and discusses why they are important. He then reviews the changing approaches to cancer therapy from the turn of the century with the immune system as a focus. He points out that research information about sugars that heal has increased dramatically in the past twenty years. Part two details the immune system, beginning with an introduction followed by sections on viruses, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections, allergies; and then moves on to CFS, degenerative conditions, cancer, and problematic viral infections. Part three addresses aging, CNS problems such as memory loss, depression and ADHD, and finally, heart disease.

The essential saccharides are specifically addressed in chapters one and two. Of the more than 200 naturally occurring sugars, eight have been found to be essential for optimal body functioning. Instead of being used for fuel, they are incorporated into the cellular structures including the glycoproteins and glycolipids on the outer cell surfaces. Strategically positioned, these eight saccharides have potent antiviral, antibacterial, antiparasitic, and antitumor effects. They have been shown in clinical trials to reduce allergies, allay symptoms of arthritis, diabetes, lupus, and kidney disease. The list of conditions that are benefited is extensive.

We are familiar with the concept of 10 essential amino acids being required for life. These amino acids must be ingested in various protein sources. The body cannot manufacture them. In the case of the eight essential saccharides, the word "essential" is not used in exactly the same way. Two of the eight, glucose and galactose, are found in the average diet, and the remaining six are not. The remaining six: mannose, xylose, fucose (not fructose), N-acetylglucosamine, N-acetylgalactosamine, and N-acetylneuraminie acid can be manufactured from glucose and galactose through numerous enzymatic steps. The author goes on to say that when enzyme systems are not working effectively in the body, some of the saccharides are not produced in sufficient amounts, and eventually illness may result. In this context, the term "eight essential saccharides," meaning necessary for optimal health, has developed. The term 'eight essential saccharides' now appears to be an accepted phrase in the glycobiology literature.

The importance of these sugar molecules lies in the part they play in multicellular intelligence. How do cells interact with each other, and how do they maintain coherence and cohesion? The answer lies in communication. These sugars are used to regulate cellular activity and interaction by functioning as molecular codes positioned on the cell surfaces.

The chapter on preventing the common cold and other viruses is illustrated by a common situation, that of a three-year-old girl who had recurrent colds, five in eight months. The last one was complicated by a bacterial middle ear infection. The mother was frustrated. The child was started on a glyconutrient powder, 1/4 teaspoon (500 milligrams) a day. In the next six months, she had only one mild case of sniffles.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, often complicated by chronic fatigue syndrome which conventional medical care has little to offer. After the first two years, the odds of recovery grow slim. Although glyconutrients may not be a cure, they can help strengthen the immune system and frequently will mitigate the symptoms. For many, particularly if the disease is caught early, the essential saccharides may enable the immune system to mend and bring significant improvement to the patient's quality of life.

Hepatitis C is another condition in which medical science has no satisfactory cure. Interferon treatment, if the patient is a candidate, produces side effects that are debilitating and sometimes disabling. The author states "glyconutrients offer new hope because these nutrients have been shown to optimize the production of interferons locally...They improve natural killer cell function, antibody production, T-cell activity, and macrophage efficiency."

High cholesterol, now a "modern" health challenge, is rampant in our society. The case of a 41 year-old businessman is presented. He has a high stress job and has difficulty sticking to a low cholesterol diet. His cholesterol was moderately elevated at 210. He took 500 milligrams of a powdered aloe extract and one gram of cordyceps extract twice a day. His cholesterol dropped to 176 and six months later was 181 with no medications.

Sugars That Heal concludes with a resource chapter and 33 pages of references. In the resource section are 23 suppliers of glyconutrient products from mushroom preparations, aloe vera supplements, cartilage extracts, injectables, bran mixtures, to a source for a powder mixture that includes all eight saccharides. It is interesting to note that an important natural source for essential saccharides besides aloe vera is mushrooms. The medicinal value of the Chinese mushroom cordyceps, the reishi, and the shiitaki mushroom is in part due to glyconutrient saccharides. Even echinacea, the herb we reach for when we need an immune boost contains healing sugars. Throughout the book are recommendations on how to take the saccharides.

Sugars That Heal is a landmark book, not in the sense that it is a full compendium and complete resource book on the subject of glyconutrition. It is a landmark book because it is both an excellent introduction, and it is the first book written specifically on glyconutrition. We can expect that many other books will follow to expand and further develop this science. The book is readable by the informed general public as well as serving as an information resource for health practitioners and doctors. After reading Sugars That Heal one can grasp the significance of words of the author, "Glyconutrients are on the brink of revolutionizing the science of medicine."

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Ambrotose is a trademark of Mannatech. Mannatech nutritional products are (i) not intended to prevent, treat or cure disease, and (ii) are not a substitute for a doctor’s standard of care. Always consult with a licensed, qualified health care professional before changing or starting any medical regimen or dietary program.

Vincent G. Palermo "The Emerging Science of Glyconutrition. . - Book Corners - Sugars That Heal - book review". Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients. . 22 Dec. 2008.

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