Dr James Schaller
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Q: What is alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH)?
A: MSH is an anti-inflammatory, regulatory hormone made in the hypothalamus. It controls production of hormones, modulates the immune system and controls nerve function, too. It is made when leptin is able to activate its receptor in the proopio-melanocortin (POMC) pathway. If the receptor is damaged by peripheral immune effects, such as the release of too many pro- inflammatory cytokines, then the receptor doesn't work right and MSH isn't made. Leptin controls storage of fatty acids as fat, so MSH and leptin are a major source of interest.

Q: Isn't this damage to the leptin receptor just like what we see in insulin resistance?
A: Actually, the mechanism is almost identical. A lot of our obesity and diabetes is inappropriately blamed on overeating when the real problem is damage to these regulatory receptors.

Q: What does MSH do?
A: MSH sits as the central hub of a series of important effects. MSH controls hypothalamic production of melatonin and endorphins. Without MSH, deficiency creates chronic non-restful sleep and chronic increased perception of pain, respectively. MSH deficiency causes chronic fatigue and chronic pain. MSH also controls many protective effects in the skin, gut and mucus membranes of the nose and lung. It also controls the peripheral release of cytokines; when there isn't enough MSH, the peripheral inflammatory effects are multiplied. MSH also controls pituitary function, with 60% of MSH deficient patients not having enough antidiuretic hormone. These patients will be thirsty all the time, urinate frequently and often will have unusual sensitivity to static electrical shocks. 40% of MSH deficient patients won't regulate male hormone production and another 40% won't regulate pro- per control of ACTH and cortisol.

Q: What illnesses are associated with MSH deficiency?
A: Any illness that begins with excessive production of pro- inflammatory cytokines will usually cause MSH deficiency. This is the basic mechanism that underlies damage caused by exposure to biologically produced toxins neurotoxins (biotoxins) made by invertebrate organisms, including fungi (molds), dino- flagellates (ciguatera and Pfiesteria), spirochetes (Lyme disease), blue-green algae (Cylindrospermopsis in Florida and Microcystis all over the world) and bacteria, like anthrax. Nearly 100% of the patients who have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) will have MSH deficiency. Do we know that all CFS is due to biotoxins? No.

Q: OK, if something is going on in the body that causes inflammation, like exposure to toxins made by mold in Sick Building Syndrome, and the immune system is cranking out these proteins, cytokines, that are great for our health when they are released in the right amount at the right time, but harmful when too many are made at the wrong time, why don't we just fix the cytokine response and watch MSH get going again?
A: Good question. We are looking at an incredibly small area in the hypothalamus, one in which there is a real risk of permanent damage from cytokines to blood flow to this pathway. And who is to say that the vital receptors aren't destroyed by too much attack for too long? Once MSH production is damaged too much, it is too late.

Q: So, if the toxin and cytokine illness goes undiagnosed, or someone says the illness doesn't exist, like what we have seen for a long time with mold and in Lyme disease, there are going to be people whose MSH supply just dwindles down to nothing.
A: Right. These patients are miserable. They live, but there is no life. They are given Oxycontin or Neurontin or Elavil or Xanax, for example, but nothing really helps. Families are destroyed, careers are ruined, financial resources are poured into tests that mean nothing and therapies that hopefully won't cause harm, because they never help. Even worse, because MSH levels are rarely measured, many doctors look at the MSH deficient patients as if they are making up the illness, making up the pain to get drugs or looking for disability. And lots of them end up on disability, costing our society not just the unnecessary expense but also costing us the lost productivity.

Q: What is the answer for those people who are MSH deficient? Why don't we just give them MSH? It should be so simple, like giving insulin to a diabetic who needs it, right?
A: Should be, but it isn't. The FDA is real particular about giving potent hormones like MSH to just anybody. Just look at cortisone. A little bit is necessary for life, but too much will kill you. MSH can't be given to people until animal toxicity studies are done, showing safety, and that costs a lot of money, even if the paper work can be done.

Q: Why don't all the big drug companies jump on this? If what you are telling me is that there are a large number of people who will need daily replacement of MSH, and by the way, it looks like our supply of Sick Buildings that will generate MSH deficient patients won't dry up any time soon, then there should be a huge market for somebody.
A: No doubt about that. There are companies looking at MSH as we speak for weight loss, skin pigment changes and as an antidepressant, but no one is looking at MSH in chronic, fatiguing illnesses.

Q: So, if you can raise the money to prove MSH is safe, then what?
A: Researchers at the NIH, like Dr. Robert Star, would likely be willing to help with the experiments in humans. I'm sure there are other academic researchers who would come forward, but the problem is that the experience of physicians with MSH is so limited. Certain researchers like Dr. James Lipton of Zengen and Dr. Star, who know MSH, know what a huge area of medicine is involved with MSH. But the average endocrinologist, for example, just doesn't deal with MSH deficiency. We will use my database of nearly 2000 patients with illnesses associated with MSH deficiency to develop a double blind, placebo controlled, crossover clinical trial after we have done a titration study to prove how much MSH is needed, given in what route, for how long, with what side effects and with what adverse reactions over time. When our work demonstrates what I feel it will, then suddenly, there is hope for a large number of chronically suffering people of all ages.

For more information:

  1. Look on Google for the many aMSH patents in process, chat groups, and new research
  2. Look up MSH in Pubmed and see the thousands of articles on this topic.
  3. Go to www.moldwarriors.com, which is the source of this article from Dr. R. Shoemaker.


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