The topic of voltage-gated calcium channels is relatively new on the block (though not out there in research-land, where they have been studied for decades) yet, each time I’ve come across it, something in me has sat up and taken notice as though it was particularly relevant to me. This topic came up again when I went to see the all-singing-all-dancing functional medicine guy last year (who I didn’t decide to run with…but we did have a very interesting hour and a half long conversation). When he brought this subject up, he seemed genuinely surprised that I even knew about this at all since its not widely talked about; and, I noticed, he seemed quite taken with this topic as an area of potential breakthrough from the point of view that he is someone who concentrates his efforts on tackling the most “unsolvable” chronic health issues.
Well, this topic came up in my line of sight again this weekend when I was catching up on reading some emails. One pointed me at a video from Dr Mercola, who was being interviewed by David Asprey of Bulletproof (below), discussing the health risks of EMFs. This caught my attention since it is a subject I have researched and taken very seriously in relation to my own, quite obvious, health issues around EMFs (subject of numerous previous posts) so I sat down to watch and became riveted once I heard VGCC being mentioned, yet again…in the context, this time, of EMF pollution.
Before this moment, I don’t think I had actively put the two things together in any coherent way but everything Mercola had to say on the topic makes perfect sense, slotting into place like one of those integral hinges that connects so many of my own health-experiences. Rather than going deeply into explaining what VGCCs are and why they are relevant to chronic health issues, I will attach that video, and its transcript, from Dr Mercola; both of which are more than accessible.
I will just briefly outline (with Wikipaedia’s help) that VGCCs are “a group of voltage-gated ion channels found in the membrane of excitable cells (e.g., muscle, glial cells, neurons, etc.) with a permeability to the calcium ion Ca2+. These channels are slightly permeable to sodium ions, so they are also called Ca2+-Na+ channels, but their permeability to calcium is about 1000-fold greater than to sodium under normal physiological conditions.” I’ve talked about excitotoxity before and weird neurological issues affecting brain, vision and heart have been an area of considerable focus for me, for some time, due to the nature of my own particular symptoms (Mercola speculates, in the attached interview, that the brain, retina and heart are likely to be particularly well-served by VGCCs). So what happens when VGCCs become over-excited, as it were? Well, its known that activation of VGCCs by certain triggers causes a massive amount of calcium to flood into the cells of the body; in some cases, way too much for them to appropriately handle, with the outcome that the particularly noxious free-radical peroxynitrite is generated and a cacophony of health issues can then arise. Wikipedia summarises this as follows:
“At physiologic or resting membrane potential, VGCCs are normally closed. They are activated at depolarized membrane potentials and this is the source of the “voltage-gated” epithet. The concentration of calcium is normally several thousand times higher outside the cell than inside. Activation of particular VGCCs allows Ca²⁺ to rush into the cell, which, depending on the cell type, results in activation of calcium-sensitive potassium channels, muscular contraction, excitation of neurons, up-regulation of gene expression, or release of hormones or neurotransmitters.”
Furthermore, when sufficient calcium is released into these cells, this event can degrade essential cellular structures, interfere with gene expression and mess with cell growth and differentiation, resulting in long-term or even permanent and life-threatening issues. Associations are now being made between activation of VGCCs and neurodegenerative diseases, psychological illnesses, epilepsy, cardiovascular disease, muscle disorders, chronic pain, migraine, cancer and more (paraphrased from T.P. Snutch, in Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, 2009). What happens when VGCC’s are being triggered more than ever before, because of modern lifestyle factors and how does this relate to the epidemic of chronic “mystery” health issues? Dr Martin Pall, is the scientist that has suggested that EMFs are a major trigger of VGCC’s and his research is what is primarily refered to by Dr Mercola in the Bulletproof interview (I also attach his interview with Pall, along with Pall’s paper, below). His research is compelling when it comes to understanding how EMFs are having a very real impact on human health, regardless of how this is being vehemently denied by the current safety standard authorities (Pall explains why their thinking is completey misguided).
So, when all your most persistent and inexplicable chronic health issues point your attention at neurology, muscle and bone, as mine do, this subject can’t fail to be of interest and, I would imagine, it would be equally relevant to anyone in a similar boat since it joins just so many dots of the most pernicious chronic conditions. For the record, my additional theory is that space weather plays a part in the VGCC triggering process. For instance, my own health has deteriorated abruptly, and markedly, every 11 years over the course of my life…tying in exactly with the dates of the solar minimum part of the sun cycle. At these times, the influx of microwave frequencies to our planet increases dramatically as solar “weather” goes more quiet than usual (the plus-point of geomagnetic disturbance being that it tends to side-swipe cosmic rays before they even get here). However, the added and ever-increasing load of man-generated microwave pollution to this natural cyclical phenomenon seems to have impacted my health even more with each solar-minimum phase, as we are now into again at the date that I am writing this. On the quietest days of solar minimum, my health becomes markedly more challenging, especially symptoms such as neuralgia, super-intense headache, vision issues, muscle pain, bone weakness, hormone instability, chronic fatigue, cysts and other fluid-retention or lymphatic issues (feeling “toxic”), chest pains and heart arhythmia, memory issues and brain fog. This sounds very-much like the list of symptoms that are being associated with activation of the VGCCs!
In fact, when I look back to my severest health issues of the last decade, 2008-9 was my rock-bottom. According to this Huffington Post article (Waiting for the Next Sunspot Cycle), using stockmarket terminology, “2008 was a bear. There were no sunspots observed on 266 of the year’s 366 days (73%). To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go all the way back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days”. That was the year I was emergency-operated on, twice, in the space of a mid-summer week and came very close to experiencing toxic shock syndrome due to an antibiotic resistant cyst that grew so fast it was silly; all during a protracted phase of low sunspot activity. My health remained a hormonally challenged and super-fatigued mess for the remainder of that year. It goes on: “Sunspot counts for 2009 have dropped even lower. As of March 31st, there were no sunspots on 78 of the year’s 90 days (87%).” That was the year I consider to be the depths of the fibromyalgia years; like a living death, I virtualy “lost” a year and almost gave up hope for recovery (and I don’t relish the thought of ever going back there again). Another detail I am giving consideration, as I consider why I am sensative to these cycles (perhaps more so than some other people) is that I was born during a period of solar maximum. I can’t imagine this is trivial information when considering an individual’s health patterns, especially if they match-up closely to the highs and lows of the sun; so, perhaps we calibrate to the sun-conditions we are born to. The bare bones of the matter is that my body does not seem to like it, at all, when we are in a period of exceptionally quiet sun. The reality is that cosmic rays reaching earth in each solar minimum phase (when the sun in most quiet) have been measured to be on the increase, as my own experiences seem to suggest. In this article The Worsening Cosmic Ray Situation from Dr Tony Philips for Spaceweather.com, the measured increase from one 11 year cycle to the next is used to hypothesise that this is set to continue, along with a weakening of the earth’s natural defense mechanism, which relies on gravity and, of course, the side-swipe actions of the sun itself (which, of course, are at their lowest during solar minimum). When we add human-generated radiation sources to the mix, we are left with quite a soup!
As mentioned, we are now well into the solar minimum phase of sun cycle 24 (I’m feeling it!), with a way to go yet before the next cycle begins and some predictions suggesting that will be a less active cycle than we have been used to. Meanwhile, next generation mobile tec is being rolled out faster than we can pause for breath and long before the jury is in regarding the actual (not vested-interest driven) long-and short-term effects on our health. This all makes the topic of VGCCs relevant and so important for me to get a handle on, for the benefit of the whole of my health picture, going forwards. Mercola’s interview and articles give some useful pointers whilst Pall’s article is a must-read. So, if this topic sounds at all relevant to your own health situation, I recommend all of the attached materials as a starting point for your own investigation and treatment approaches.
Dr Mercola & David Asprey on EMFs and voltage-gated calcium channels – Bulletproof video and transcript
The Worsening Cosmic Ray Situation – Dr Toy Phillips
This blog, its content and any material linked to it are presented for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or prescribing. The material and opinions shared are anecdotal and should not be considered to be medical advice or diagnosis. Please consult with a licensed healthcare professional before altering or discontinuing any medications, treatment, diet or supplementation program, or if you have or suspect you might have a health condition that requires medical attention.