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Exploring the medical and scientific background of blood drinking
Investigation and Research Into Sanguinarians
Investigation and Research Into Sanguinarians
Biochemistry looks at the functioning of the body at the chemical level. Defined as "The science of the chemical basis of life".(1) It looks at the individual reactions that make the body function such as amino acid transformation, water exchange, protien formation and breakdown, energy exchange with ATP and ADP, cellular respiration, Krebs Cycle, Citric Acid Cycle, Glycogen formation and usage, enzymes, DNA and RNA synthesis and on and on and on. In other words, it is a very broad topic.

Here, I intend to focus on the main areas of interest that have occured in research into sanguinarians, predominantly amino acid abnormilities and micronutrient useage and absorption.

Copyright 2005
by Sarah Mediv 
  All Rights reserved 
  E-Mail: s_faolchu@yahoo.com
Biochemistry
AMINO ACIDS

Amino acids are the protien building block of the body. They combine in a miriad of ways to for the essential protiens our body uses for organ function, energy transfer, and ammonia storage. They are generally broken into two catagories:
-Nutritionally Essential: Amino acids the body cannot produce on its own and must absorb from its diet. In humans these are Arginine, Histidine, Isoleucine, Leucine, Lysine, Methionine, Phenylalanine, Threonine, Tryptophan, and Valine.
-Nutritionally Non-essential: Amino acids that can be created from other amino acids by the body and are not required in the diet. In humans these are Alanine, Asparagine, Aspartate, Cystine, Glutamate, Glutamine, Glycine, Hydroxyproline, Hydroxylysine, Proline, Serine, and Tyrosine.

A deficiency in an amino acids can result either from nutritional imbalance (either not eating foods with enough of the nutritionally essential amino acids or inability to break down and absorb protiens during digestion) or failure of synthesis (deficiency in enzyme that catalyzes a reaction from one amino acid to another or deficiency of an enzyme to properly break down a protien chain.) Nutritonal imbalances and issues with absorption will be further discussed under Cytology and Gastroenterology, but here we can discuss enzymatic failure and what happens with amino acid deficiencies.

Change from one amino acid type to another is achieved using enzymes to break chemical bonds and form new ones or attach different molecules. For example, glutamate dehydrogenase is used to transform alpha-Ketoglutarate to Glutamate by removing an oxygen atom and replacing it with amin (NH3+). Glutamine sythetase can then remove another oxygen atom from the Glutamate and replace it with NH2 to form Glutamine. Failure of either of these enzymes results in failure to produce Glutamine. Since glutamine is such and essential amino acid to many organs function and development, complete failure of the enzyme actually results in failure of the brain and death. Deficiency of Glutamine has also been shown to encourage apoptosis (cell death).

We can look to other amino acids, essential and non-essential, for other examples of the body responding to deficiencies with impared function. Low histidine reduces hear function, low hydroxyproline results in connective tissue breakdown, easy bleeding  and slow healing, Lysine deficiency results in chronic fatigue, hair loss, slow healing, anemia, irritiability, and reproductive failure. Tyrosine deficiency results in hypothyroidism, low blood pressure and low body temperature.

Amino acids are small molecules with far reaching effects, but how does this relate to the sanguinarian? Many sanguins report low body temperature, depression, loss of appetite, fatigue and slower healing when they are not drinking blood regularly. Blood contains all of the amino acids in a pre-digestion, pre-broken easy to absorb form that, hypothetically, could replace the deficiency present.

Testing the hypothesis:
Several sanguinarians would need to have performed a "fasting" (no blood) amino acid panel and a "fed" (post-blood) amino acid panel to compare if there are consistant low amino acids or enzymes present that also correct after feeding. Presence of one or more deficiencies that would correlate to known signs would indicate that the disease is a result of amino acid or enzymatic deficiency.

For more information on the amino acids and requirements and deficencies see the following: Amino Acid List
Micronutrients

Micronutrients are essential compounds that are used by the body at the molecular level. These include vitamins and minerals. Some of these tie into the above amino acids such as Vitmain C resulting in histidine deficiency and the disease Scurvy. These are required only in small amounts, typically, and are required to be taken in by the diet as they cannot be synthesized. Vitamins are divided into fat soluble (A, D, E, and K) and watersoluble (C, Biotin, and the B vitamins). Vitamin deficiencies are almost always the result of failure of absorption or dietary inadequacy since they are not synthesized by the body (with the exceptions of Vitamin D and niacin).

Deficiency of the fat soluble vitamins are related to general poor fat absortion due to steatorrhea (excess fat in the stool) or disorders of the biliary or pancreatic system. Deficiencies result in night blindness (A), rickets or osteomalacia (D) neurologic and hemolytic anemia problems (E), or hemmorhage (K). the best example is the use of Rat bait, which inhibits Vitamin K formation and causes bleeding out and death in mammals that eat it.

Watersoluble vitamins are typically used to create enzyme co-factors, or are co-factors themselves. Inflammation of the intestinal lining or mal absorption can cause deficiencies along with dietary insufficiencies. As discussed, vitamin C deficiency can lead to scurvy and connective tissue damage. Deficiency in the B vitamins results in pellagra, beriberi, seborrhea, anemia, and glossitis.

The other micronutrients are inorganic minerals such as Iron, Iodine, Magnesium , Calcium, Zinc, etc. These micronutrients are required in low levels, and too much can be toxic. Such micornutrients as sodium and potassium are essential for cell membrane fuction. Too high or too low potassium causes heart irregularities. Low iodine results in hypothyroidism. Low iron results in anemia. Iron toxicity can occur in cases of excess absorption or in genetic disease such as hemochromatosis resulting in liver damage.

Testing the Hypothesis:
Same as for the amino acids. Several case studies of comprehensive vitamin and mineral panels showing a pattern of deficiency that is corrected by  blood drinking.
References:

Murray, Robert K. et. el "Harper's Illustrated Biochemistry. 28th Edition" China: McGraw-Hill Company Inc. 2009.

Haberle, J et. al "Congenital glutamine deficiency with glutamine synthetase mutations." N Engl J Med. 2005 Nov 3;353(18):1926-33. Web. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16267323>

Exner, R et. al "Glutamine deficiency renders human monocytic cells more susceptible to specific apoptosis triggers." Surgery. 2002 Jan;131(1):75-80. Web. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11812966>