Pectin is a soluble fiber found in apples and citrus fruits that is used in making jellies and jams. Its also used as a bulking agent to relieve constipation and to protect against colon cancer. Ordinary pectin is a long-chain polysaccharide which means that its structure is comprised of a long string of sugar molecules. These molecules are too large to pass through the intestinal walls and be absorbed in the bloodstream. When pectin is altered or modified into a substance with smaller, uniform, molecules, it can get into the bloodstream and carry its unique properties throughout the body. These properties make it a useful nutrient in the prevention and treatment of cancer and Alzheimer's disease and in removing heavy metals. This altered nutrient is called Modified Citrus Pectin, or MCP.
When its molecules are broken down into smaller ones, MCP has a different molecular weight than ordinary pectin. The size of its molecules, along with its molecular weight, determines where MCP can go and what it can do. A product with smaller molecules breaks down too quickly, and one with larger molecules is too large to be absorbed. The less expensive method, using sodium hydroxide (otherwise known as lye) and an acid, results in a product with larger, non-uniform, molecules. The quality of MCP is vital in its ability to work. Presently, the only MCP that meets these specifications, and the one used in scientific studies, is PectaSol.
Cancer cells are abnormal cells that either aren't sick enough to die and be replaced, or are unable to protect themselves from dying. These cells multiply and adhere to one another, forming a tumor. When renegade cells break loose and travel to other locations, cancer spreads. This is called metastasis. One way to stop cancer is to stop metastasis, and one method of accomplishing this is to destroy proteins called galectins. Out of nearly a dozen different galectins, the one most studied, and the one that appears to play a key role in the development and spread of cancer is called galectin-3.
Galectins are sticky proteins that love sugar and attach themselves to the sugar molecules on cells. Because cancer cells have more galectins than healthy cells, it's easy for them to attach themselves to one another and form tumors. Cancer cells have more galectins than healthy cells, making it easier for them to grab onto one another.
Cancer cells can't live alone. They're social cells that need one another. When cancer cells are prevented from attaching to one another, they die. MCP attaches itself to cancer cells so they can't attach themselves to one another. MCP also stops new blood vessels from forming, cutting off their food supply. Without food, cancer cells starve to death.
Current thought, now under investigation, suggests there is a direct connection between angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels) and Alzheimer's disease. One theory is that Alzheimer's is cause in part by an inflammation in the brain's blood vessels. Inflammation triggers the formation of new blood vessels and these new blood vessels cause the deposit of plaque and the secretion of a toxin that kills brain cells.
The rationale for using MCP for Alzheimer's disease began with the observation by a team of doctors that particular anti-angiogenic medications appear to reduce a person's risk for dementia. These doctors believe that if angiogenesis can be stopped, so can Alzheimer's. Their article was published in The Lancet (February 15, 2003).
Heavy metals like mercury, lead, cadmium and arsenic have been implicated in a wide number of health problems, including arteriosclerosis, hypertension, multiple sclerosis, impaired immune function, and an overgrowth of Candida albicans. Research exists showing the effectiveness of pectin in chelating (binding to) heavy metals and removing them from the body.
Recently, Dr Isaac Eliaz, MD, conducted a pilot clinical trial at Amitahba Medical Clinic in Sebastopol, California on the urinary excretion of heavy metals using MCP. He found that patients who took 5 grams of MCP three times a day had significantly increased excretion of heavy metals. One patient had a 68 percent decrease in mercury, and nearly a 50 percent decrease in lead and arsenic after ten months. Dr Eliaz, who uses PectaSol in his clinic, believes that MCP binds to heavy metals in the bloodstream. As they are removed from the bloodstream, he believes these toxins shift from tissues into the blood where they can then be removed.
Nan Kathryn Fuchs, PhD, is author of Modified Citrus Pectin (Basic Health Publications, 2003, $4.95). She is editor of Women's Health Letter, a monthly newsletter. For more information on MCP or her newsletter, please visit www.womenshealthletter.com or call 1-800-728-2288.