Dr. CHENEY ON UNDENATURED WHEY
Written by Carol Sieverling, our group's facilitator, this article is based on tapes of her April 1998 and October 2000 visits to Dr. Cheney, and a transcript of presentation he made in Orlando in 1999. He gave permission to share this information, but has not reviewed or edited it.
Many CFS patients are taking Immunocal, ImuPlus, or ImmunePro, based on the recommendation of nationally known CFS specialist Paul Cheney, MD, PhD. These are all "undenatured" whey products, which are processed at lower temperatures than typical powdered whey protein. This requires a meticulous filtering process to maintain purity. The lower temperature preserves the fragile, but powerful, biologically active proteins, lactoferrin, and immunoglobulins in whey.
What are the benefits of undenatured whey? It can address the glutathione deficiency that is virtually universal in CFS patients. Deficits in glutathione functionality show up as elevated lipid peroxide levels on the Great Smokies Oxidative Stress Test (www.gsdl.com), and also as elevated citrate and alpha ketoglutaric levels on the Great Plains Organic Acids Test, 913-341-8949.
Glutathione deficiency has two major implications: detox failure and viral/microbial activation. Glutathione plays a major role in detoxification pathways. This deficiency impairs the body's ability to get rid of toxins, whether environmental or by-products of cellular metabolism. CFS patients slowly become toxic, storing away poisons in fatty tissue, muscles, organs and the brain. This cellular detox failure can make CFS patients "canaries to their environment". Detox programs that have been successful in other conditions can actually put some CFS patients in the hospital if their glutathione deficiency is not first addressed.
Glutathione is also a powerful antiviral and anti-microbial weapon. Glutathione deficiency not only compromises antiviral and anti-microbial defenses, it also has a potent pro-viral effect. While the presence of glutathione inhibits viruses and intracelluar organisms, its absence stimulates them. Glutathione deficiency actually augments viral replication.
Anthony Falci, the top HIV researcher at the NIH, has shown that HIV growth can be completely stopped by raising glutathione levels in-vitro in cell cultures. If glutathione levels can be raised, the replication of almost any pathogen inside the cells can be stopped. Given the widespread reactivation in CFS of viruses like EBV, CMV, and HHV6, and the activation of microbes like myco-plasma, chlamydia pneumoniae and candida, finding a way to raise glutathione levels inside the cells has been a top priority of the Cheney Clinic. No treatment prior to the whey seemed to successfully address this deficiency. Supplementation, injections, and other interventions failed to significantly affect the glutathione levels inside the cells, where 90% of the body's glutathione is needed.
Cheney found undenatured whey protein was the best way to increase glutathione levels and function. The clinic conducted a six-month study of the first patented bioactive whey product (Immunocal), and discovered it significantly improved glutathione function. Though it was a small study (eight patients), the results were consistent with the feedback from Cheney's patient population as a whole. Seven of the eight study participants finished the study. They all began by taking two packs a day. At the three-month point, half the group was switched to one pack a day. One patient had received so much benefit from two packs a day that he refused to take the lower dose and dropped out of the study.
Five of the seven patients who finished the study had positive responses. The two who felt no benefit were the least ill to begin with. Cheney speculates that their healthier digestive systems might have more fully digested the whey, making it less effective. It's very important that all whey products be taken on a completely empty stomach so that no acid or digestive enzymes are present to break it down. Some patients even take an antacid 30 minutes before taking whey to reduce that possibility.
Patients in the study were allowed to choose which tests would be run, since they were paying for them. Each patient who tested positive for mycoplasma and chlamydia pneumoniae at the beginning of the study tested negative six months after treatment, regardless of whether they finished the study with one or two packs a day. This suggests one pack a day will wipe out intracellular bacteria.
Three patients were tested for HHV6. Two were positive. The patient who stayed on two packs a day the entire six months was negative at the end of the study. The patient who dropped to one pack a day remained positive. This suggests that at least two packs a day are needed to neutralize viruses.
There is a "dose response" issue with both Immunocal and ImuPlus. Some who did not respond at two packs a day noticed real benefits at three. A few patients have even gone to five or six to reach maximum benefit. However, Cheney's recommended starting dose for Immunocal and ImuPlus is two packs a day. Increase the dose only if minimal or no benefit is seen, and give it a six-month trial. Each packet contains 10 gm, or 1.75 Tbsp.
ImmunePro appeared on the market in late 1999. It has a different production process than the other two whey products. Independent testing revealed that it contains two to six times more of each bioactive ingredient. It appears to be a much more powerful product than the other two undenatured whey proteins, but also more problematic.
Cheney tested ImmunePro on approximately nine patients. Only two or three had positive outcomes. Those who responded well, did so at lower doses than required with Immunocal or ImuPlus. Five grams twice a day is Cheney's recommended dose. He has seen no added benefit from higher doses. Some patients need to begin with much smaller doses and gradually work up.
It is speculated that ImmunePro╠s greater potency causes it to mobilize more toxins more quickly - often more toxins than the body can handle. On the other hand, Cheney also believes that it may have benefits the others do not have - if you can tolerate it. Some patients take a small amount of ImmunePro along with normal doses of one of the other whey products.
Which whey product should you choose, and where can you get it? Immunocal is the best documented, has the original patents, and is the most expensive. It is available at nutritionadvisor.com (1-800-378-1578) and immunesupport.com (1-800-366-6056). A special purchase program called the Numed-Tech Buyers Club is available for those who have no insurance coverage for Immunocal, make less than $25,000 a year, and have not purchased Immunocal from another source in the last six months. The cost is $40 a box with a prescription. (A box contains 30 packets and usually sells for $60 to $100.) Contact pharmacist Charlie Green at 209-948-3174, fax 209-465-1398.
Though Cheney has not officially tested ImuPlus, reportedly it's very similar to Immunocal. It is available from immunesupport.com and needs.com (1-800-634-1380). It's less expensive than Immunocal and contains 60 packets per box.
As with all products, individual responses vary. Ideally you could try each product for several months to see which works best for you. Most lactose intolerant individuals can take Immunocal and ImuPlus, but ImmunePro does contain lactose.
You can raise money for your favorite CFS organization, including our support group, when you shop at immunesupport.com. Simply go to igive.com first, select your cause (perhaps the CFS/FM Support Group of DFW), and a percentage of your purchase will be donated to the organization of your choice.
Easy search for the Amazon.com site. Check out their books and music.
Easy search for the Amazon.com site. Check out their books and music.
Copyright © 1999-2005 by the CFIDS/FMS Support Group of DFW. All rights reserved.
Some of the graphics were by Lolis Golden Pages and Hee Yun's Graphic Collection; they are no longer found on the web.