I recently learned about a new vitamin that I have to tell you about. Actually, I've known about this substance for some time. But some researchers are saying we should call it vitamin S. Here's why. It has to do with protein.
When most of us think of protein, we think about good food and a basic component of nutrition that our body needs. But there are proteins that can cause serious problems in your body. In fact, one in particular can cause heart attacks, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammation-associated cancers, such as colorectal cancer and mesothelioma.
This protein is HMGB1. By the description I just gave, you might think this protein is horrible. But it actually plays an important role in your body, especially in regulating inflammation. The problems occur when HMGB1 appears in your blood for an ongoing period of time. That's when inflammation becomes chronic and damaging to your tissues. HMGB1 normally stays within your cells' nuclei. When an injury occurs or certain cancers secrete it, HMGB1 gets in your bloodstream. Once in the bloodstream, the protein recruits immune cells to repair the damaged tissue. It also uses these immune cells to call in pro-inflammatory cell-signaling proteins called cytokines, which cause inflammation.
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So blocking HMGB1 is important to stop HMGB1 from getting out of control. Researchers recently found out that aspirin's main breakdown product, salicylic acid, blocks HMGB1. Salicylic acid is what makes aspirin such a reliable anti-inflammatory. We've known for decades that aspirin effectively fights inflammation. Researchers just didn't know why. But this study discovered the interaction between salicylic acid and HMGB1. To do so, the researchers screened extracts prepared from human tissue culture cells to find proteins that could bind to salicylic acid. One of these proteins was HMGB1. (They also found another protein that's a key suspect in neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, but that's another story.)
The study showed that salicylic acid has the ability to block both the recruitment and activation of immune cells, stopping inflammation and preventing the diseases it can cause. The salicylic acid functioned as well as and in a similar fashion as aspirin.
The researchers found that HMGB1 is involved in countless situations in the body where the body's immune system attacks its own cells. So taking salicylic acid can help in keeping this protein in check and prevent it from causing so much damage. That's why scientists want to call it vitamin S.
I actually think vitamin S is the name we should give salicin. This is the active ingredient from willow bark that is a powerful pain-reliever and anti-inflammatory. When you take salicin, it turns into salicylic acid in your body. It has similar action to aspirin, but it doesn't cause bleeding in your gut like aspirin does.
If you're dealing with any inflammatory or painful condition, salicin could be the vitamin you need to find relief. People with knee pain have found that Ultimate Knee Relief, which contains salicin, reduces their joint pain and inflammation very effectively. But they probably didn't realize it was helping them avoid heart disease and some cancers as well.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.