Did you know that a protein you need for fighting bacterial and fungal infections has a switch that turns it into a heart-destroying molecule?
Researchers are just now discovering the sinister side of this protein. And they’ve found that its switch from Jekyll to Hyde could cause heart failure, coronary heart disease, and even fatal heart attacks. Fortunately, there’s an easy way to stop this Mr. Hyde protein from destroying your heart.
As you may know, one of the hallmarks of heart disease is inflammation. Inflammation, itself, has a Jekyll and Hyde personality as well. When it’s fighting an injury or infection, it’s a needed part of good health. But when inflammation becomes chronic, in order to fight long-term exposure to unwanted substances in the body (such as toxins), it can cause the blood vessels to narrow. This creates all sorts of havoc in the heart.
Researchers are finding out that this Jekyll and Hyde protein is at the heart of chronic cardiovascular inflammation. In fact, they’ve found that this protein actually initiates and orchestrates the vascular inflammation involved in heart failure.
As a result, when doctors test heart patients for this protein, they always find elevated levels of it. And the higher their levels, the more likely they are to die of acute decompensated heart failure or chronic heart failure. What’s more, normal humans have low levels. That means there is direct connection between this protein and heart problems.
So What Is This Jekyll and Hyde Protein?
This sinister protein is galectin-3. This protein is a member of the lectin family. As you may know, some lectins are beneficial (e.g., CLEC11A promotes bone growth), but others can be downright dangerous (e.g., ricin – a known poison). Well, it appears galectin-3 can fit into both categories.
You see, galectin-3 has an “on-off” switch that can take it from beneficial to dangerous. And when it’s activated, this infection-fighting protein turns into a heart-destroying molecule that can significantly increase your risk of dying from a heart attack.
The relationship between galectin-3 and death from heart problems is so close, that doctors are now using it as a biomarker to identify at-risk individuals. What’s more, they also can use it to predict how a patient is going to respond to different drugs and therapies. For instance, doctors can use galectin-3 levels to detect failure-prone hearts and then begin immediate treatment with broad spectrum anti-inflammatory agents.
Could Enhance Statin Use
Another area where galectin-3 testing could be useful is in statin treatments. As you probably know, I’m not a big fan of statins. They have a mixed record of success and have some terrible side effects. But the mixed record actually suggests that there are times when they can be used effectively. And galectin-3 may hold the secret to when patients should use statins.
One study found that systolic heart failure patients with elevated galectin-3 levels may benefit from statin treatment. And another study found that cardiovascular patients who also had the cancer multiple myeloma benefited greatly from statin treatment. In this study, the researchers gave the cancer patients either a statin or a placebo. The researchers found that the patients taking statins had significantly lower galectin-3 levels and a higher survival rate.
While there are better ways to treat high galectin-3 levels, which I’ll tell you about in a moment, this does give conventional medicine a more accurate way to determine if statins are warranted.
Galectin-3 Impacts Gut Microbiome
One aspect of the galectin-3 discoveries that I’m really impressed with is its effect on the bacteria in your gut. As you may know, the gut microbiome impacts your overall health. When you have the right balance of good bacteria in your digestive tract, your overall health is usually very good. But when you disrupt the balance, it can contribute to systemic disease. That’s because a dysfunction in the gut can drive inflammation throughout your body. This inflammation, in turn, can cause obesity, metabolic syndrome, and heart issues.
Research has found that galectin-3 is involved at every level of this process. It contributes to the establishment of abnormal gut bacteria and biofilms, it drives inflammation and immune hyperreactivity at the gut barrier (leading to autoimmune diseases), and systemically, promoting insulin resistance, obesity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease.
So if you have digestive issues and your probiotics aren’t solving the problem, galectin-3 could be the reason. Until you deal with this protein, you’re not going to see a major change in your gut microbiome.
But here’s the real clincher for dealing with galectin-3. As I mentioned at the outset, the protein does have its benefits. The question then is what makes it switch from the beneficial Dr. Jekyll to the monster Mr. Hyde? The answer is quite simple: In order for galectin-3 to become dangerous, it has to be activated.
What Causes Galectin-3 to Activate?
The secret formula for galectin-3 to go from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde is something researchers have been studying for several years. They’re now finding out what actually causes this switch to occur.
Galectin-3 expresses itself differently in different types of tissue. But the factor that causes the protein to activate appears to be an injury or stressor of some type. This makes sense, as an injury would cause inflammation. The galectin-3 activates, causes inflammation, and allows the body to heal.
Once the activation occurs, it should turn back off once the injury heals. But when the galectin-3 doesn’t turn off, it becomes a problem. Researchers call this overexpression. If the body never switches the protein off, it grows into a monster that can cause fibrosis, heart failure, atherosclerosis, and even diabetes. So the goal for treatment is to either switch the protein off or remove the protein.
Turning Off Chronic Inflammation
Big Pharma has focused its research on finding drugs that can inhibit galectin-3. The drugs they’ve developed can often lower high levels of galectin-3. And most of the drugs are relatively safe – at least in the short term. Most of the studies don’t give long-term safety reports, so we don’t know if they’re safe in the long term. So, of course, I look for natural treatments. And there’s only one commercially available researched natural galectin-3 inhibitor – that’s PectaSol.
PectaSol, as you may remember, is a proprietary form of modified citrus pectin (MCP) that is one of the best oral chelators on the market. I’ve written a good bit about PectaSol. But most of it has been focused on its ability to remove heavy metals and pesticides. Its ability to remove these toxins is part of the reason it is able to inhibit galectin-3. Until you remove these toxins, they can continually damage tissue and cause chronic inflammation. By removing unwanted metals and pesticides, the injury can heal and the galectin-3 can switch back to Dr. Jekyll.
But PectaSol does more than remove the offending toxin. The MCP in PectaSol binds to the carbohydrate recognition domain of the galectin-3 molecule. When it does so, it displaces the ligands that activate the galectin-3. In other words, it causes galectin-3 to turn from Mr. Hyde back into Dr. Jekyll. So you can still get all the benefits of galectin-3 without any of the damaging effects.
As great as that sounds, there’s more. In addition to removing toxins and preventing galectin-3 from activating, it also directly benefits your tissues. It does so by promoting cellular communication and healthy cellular and tissue function. When galectin-3 activates and promotes inflammation, it effectively blocks these communication pathways. MCP opens these back up, allowing your body to function as God designed it to function.
The result of all these benefits is that your MCP removes the offending toxins, deactivates galectin-3, opens up communication between your cells, and restores your body to health. It sounds too good to be true, but the research is there.
One incredible study out of China found that MCP can reverse the major toxic effects of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a poison that attacks cancer cells as well as healthy tissue. When it does, it activates galectin-3, and significantly increases chronic inflammation and eventually destroys the kidneys. By using MCP on mice prior to their chemo injections, they were able to “increase renal function and attenuated renal fibrosis after cisplatin-induced injury.” In other words, the MCP protected the kidneys and other tissues from the damage chemo normally causes. That’s impressive!
Other studies show that MCP deactivates galectin-3 so well that it can help reduce atherosclerosis plaque, protect against heart failure, abdominal aortic aneurysm, and a host of other heart diseases. It can also help prevent type-2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and cancer.
PectaSol, because of its ability to detoxify heavy metals and pesticides, deactivate galectin-3, and restore tissue-cell communication, is one of the few supplements I think everyone should be taking daily. It’s one of the gentlest forms of detox that I’ve seen. And its ability to restore memory is fantastic. You already have Dr. Jekyll in your body – make sure he doesn’t turn into the monster Mr. Hyde.
Hong-yan Li, Shen Yang, Jing-chun Li, and Jian-xun Feng, Division of Nephrology, Huadu District People’s Hospital of Guangzhou, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou 510800, P.R. China; Division of Nephrology, Xuhui District Central Hospital of Shanghai, Shanghai, P.R. China
MacKinnon AC, et al. Inhibition of galectin-3 reduces atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Glycobiology. 2013;23(6):654-663.
van der Velde AR, et al. Prognostic value of changes in galectin-3 levels over time in patients with heart failure: data from CORONA and COACH. Circ Heart Fail