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Can drinking collagen slow down aging and boost other functions?

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Wouldn’t it be great to be able to take just one daily supplement that boosted your cognitive function, physical performance, heart health, bone density, natural healing processes and, on top of it all, slowed down the signs of aging?

I mean, who doesn’t want to be smarter, better, stronger, faster and younger-looking? That’s practically the bionic dream — a fantasy that, according to some wellness gurus, can be achieved simply by adding a scoop of ingestible collagen to your morning smoothie or tea.

John Kariuki, director of the Star Brilliant Donkey Export Abattoir in Naivasha, Kenya, holds up a donkey hide. Strong demand in China for ejiao, a traditional medicine made from gelatin extracted from boiled donkey hides, has led to a rise in donkey thefts in many countries.
John Kariuki, director of the Star Brilliant Donkey Export Abattoir in Naivasha, Kenya, holds up a donkey hide. Strong demand in China for ejiao, a traditional medicine made from gelatin extracted from boiled donkey hides, has led to a rise in donkey thefts in many countries.  (RACHEL NUWER / The New York Times file photo)

Collagen, an ingredient extracted from animal skins commonly found in anti-aging skin creams, has graduated from topical use to internal — a dietary supplement on the verge of being the next big wellness fad, with dozens of collagen syrups, drinks, powders and even gummies being marketed as a cure for everything from brittle nails to brain health. Unsurprisingly, Gwyneth Paltrow is on it — having just launched a “delicious,” vanilla-flavoured collagen powder called Goop Genes, made with “ingredients backed by research.”

How much research? Some. But not much. That lack, though, isn’t stopping people from drinking it in the hopes that this might be the fountain of youth we’ve all dreamed of. Hopes are so high, in fact, that it’s already threatening the world’s donkey population — one of the preferred sources of collagen in Asia.

The theory is simple. Collagen is an important, abundant and naturally-occurring structural protein found in the human body that plays an important role in a range of things including, skin, nail and hair health and, also, more important functions, such as healing. The older we get, the less we produce. Some people think we can fix that by ingesting animal collagen, which will, somehow, inspire our bodies to kick our collagen production back into high gear. The problem? It’s still just a theory.

“The real genesis of the interest in collagen came from a study that was published a couple of years ago and looked at eight healthy men and the effect it had on building new connective tissue,” says Jennifer Sygo, a registered dietitian and sports nutritionist at the Cleveland Clinic Canada. “The study demonstrated that a dose of 15 grams of gelatin, given to the men before jumping rope twice a day for six minutes, did demonstrate a significant difference in the markers that suggest the body is building new collagen in the ligaments.”

To Sygo, team dietitian for the Toronto Maple Leafs, this peer-reviewed study (conducted by researchers working at the University of California, Davis) is exciting, since there’s traditionally very little that can be done — from a nutritional standpoint — to speed up healing tendons and ligaments. If the study is replicated and backed up with more research, though, it could open up a whole new course of treatment for injuries and chronic joint pain. But, Sygo warns, it’s still early days and one, very small study. New studies are ongoing and, while they might confirm the results, they haven’t been published yet.

This, however, isn’t slowing down the booming collagen industry. In China, for example, a collagen derived from donkey skin called ejiao (ass-hide gelatin) that used to be prescribed for specific illnesses, such as anemia, has gained a reputation as a magic elixir. It’s become so popular that, since 1990, about half of China’s 11 million donkeys have been killed for their skins. As collagen supplement producers have cast about for foreign sources, the trade has sparked a potentially extinction-level crisis in India, Pakistan and many countries in Africa, where farmers still report a problem with donkey theft, despite a ban on the trade by 14 African countries.

Nobody in Canada (that we know of) is using donkey hides but this illustrates the ethical and health concerns that are bound to come up when it comes to sourcing ground up animal parts. Even leaving PETA, endangered fish stocks and global warming from meat production out of the discussion, contaminants and heavy metals, such as arsenic and mercury remain a concern. As such, many collagen producers, such as Great Lakes Gelatin and Genuine Health Essentials, are offering sustainably- and naturally-sourced options. With Genuine Health’s “Clean Collagen,” for instance, both surf and turf varietals are sustainably sourced — one made from byproducts (scales and skins) of wild-caught fish in the North Atlantic; the other from bovine skins of grass-fed and pasture-raised USDA cows. They start at $26.99 for 12, 10 oz. satchels and the suggested dosage is one 10 oz. serving a day.

For my little collagen self-experiment, I chose the turf option, because I’m still worried about heavy metals in fish. The powdered bovine skins come in flavoured or unflavoured, but mine happened to be pineapple/berry, which sounds great, but didn’t really taste like either and smacked of artificial flavour. It didn’t fully dissolve in water (after the fact, Genuine Health spokesperson, Joy McCarthy told me shaking it would have worked better), so I just closed my eyes and tried to get it down — globules and all. The second time I tried mixing it with yogurt, but I could still taste that weird fruit flavour.

I asked Sygo about some of the far-reaching claims being made about collagen and read a list to her that included cognitive function, physical performance, heart health, bone density, hair and nail support and skin hydration. This was her response:

“You know, we’re getting ahead of ourselves here and I’m going to urge people to understand that there’s so much in the research that we don’t yet know the answers to. When you have reputable researchers at a university publishing in the area, it totally amplifies the buzz and gives a level of gravitas to the whole situation. Yes, the genie is a bit out of the bottle right now, but we need a little bit more time to know how well this works.”

I’m happy to follow her guidance and put my collagen and bionic dreams on a back shelf on the pantry while I wait for the research to come in. I bet I’m one of the few though — judging from the donkey crisis, waiting for results and evidence-based medicine just isn’t a thing humans do very well.

At least not in the face of brittle nails, aging skin and the promise of a fountain of youth.

Christine Sismondo is a Toronto-based freelance writer.

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Post-vaccine surge? Michigan’s spring coronavirus case spike close to previous year’s autumn high

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(Natural News) The spike in new Wuhan coronavirus infections recorded in Michigan over the spring is similar to a spike seen during the 2020 fall season. According to a Wall Street Journal analysis, the state’s daily coronavirus case count averaged more than 7,000 for almost two weeks – before taking a slight dip to 6,891 on April 20. This echoed similar figures back in November and December 2020, which saw sharp rises in infections for those two months before plunging.

Back in autumn of last year, Michigan averaged more than 7,000 cases per day for a span of 10 days. New infections dropped slightly, then briefly spiked as the December holidays approached. It then fell to the low 1,000s for the succeeding two months – until ascending again in March.

According to University of Michigan internal medicine professor Dr. Vikas Parekh, the sudden increase in new infections could be attributed to several factors. Among the factors he cited was re-openings, which increased people’s interactions and mobility. Parekh said the loosened restrictions contributed to the spread of the highly contagious U.K. B117 variant.

“As the B117 variant spreads nationally, we will likely see other stats [with] their own surges – although I hope none are as bad as Michigan,” the professor remarked. He continued: “The milestone just tells us we are not yet in the clear, especially as we still have large portions of our population who are not vaccinated yet.”

Parekh also expressed optimism over the lower daily caseloads the Great Lakes State reported. He said he believes both cases and hospitalizations have plateaued and will likely decline soon. The professor commented: “[COVID-19] positivity has been declining now for one week, which is usually a leading indicator of case decline.”

Meanwhile, the state cited younger populations and youth sports, such as basketball, wrestling and hockey, to increase new COVID-19 infections. Because of this, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called to suspend youth sports and indoor dining in the state. She also exhorted high schools to conduct remote class sessions for two weeks to curb the spread of the pathogen.

Michigan still experienced the spike in cases despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the country

During the opening stages of the U.S.’s immunization drive against COVID-19, Michigan boasted of having one of the highest vaccination rates nationwide. A report by Bridge Michigan even noted the initial “frenzy for vaccines” that “far exceeded the state’s limited supply.” But things have appeared to turn around for Michigan, as it now struggles to reach the 70 percent vaccination rate needed for herd immunity.

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Scottish mom’s legs turn into a pair of “giant blisters” after first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine

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(Natural News) Sarah Beuckmann of Glasgow, Scotland, felt a tingling sensation in her legs and noticed a rash flaring up around her ankles a week after getting her first dose of AstraZeneca’s coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine on March 18.

She also had flu-like symptoms right after the vaccination.

Beuckmann called her doctor to arrange an appointment the morning she noticed the rash, but by the afternoon her skin was already breaking out into blood-filled blisters. Blisters also appeared on her legs, hands, face, arms and bottom.

“I ended up asking my husband to take me to A&E,” said Beuckmann, referring to “accident and emergency,” the equivalent of an emergency room (ER). “When I got there, my heart rate was sitting at 160bpm, which they were very concerned about. I got put on an ECG machine.”

Doctors determine AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine triggers the rash

Medics carried out tests for HIV, herpes and other skin conditions to work out what triggered the rash, but all results came back negative. Doctors finally determined that the vaccine caused her rare reaction after carrying out two biopsies.

“Once they found that it was a reaction to the vaccine, they put me on steroids and that really seems to be helping my progress,” said Beuckmann. She had been advised by her doctor not to get the second dose of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine because of her reaction.

Beuckmann spent 16 days at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. She was discharged to recover at home. The 34-year-old mother of one is currently wheelchair-bound due to the bandages on her legs and blisters on the soles of her feet. She may need physiotherapy to help strengthen her leg muscles.

“They are starting to heal and they’re looking a lot better than they were but as the blisters started to get worse, they all sort of merged together,” she said. “I didn’t know what was going on.”

With the blisters merging, her legs have looked like a pair of “giant blisters.” Beuckmann admitted that at one point she feared her legs might have to be amputated.

Dermatologist agrees COVID-19 vaccine causes the blisters

Dr. Emma Wedgeworth, a consultant dermatologist and spokeswoman at the British Skin Foundation, agreed that Beuckmann had likely suffered a reaction to the vaccine.

“Vaccines are designed to activate the immune system. Occasionally people will have quite dramatic activation of their immune systems which, as happened in this case, can manifest in their skin” Wedgeworth told MailOnline. “This poor lady had a very severe reaction, which thankfully is extremely rare.”

It is not clear why Beuckmann, who works in retail, was invited for a vaccine. Scotland’s vaccine rollout was focused on people over the age of 50 when she got vaccinated, although vaccines are available to those who are considered at risk from the virus, or live with someone considered vulnerable.

At least 20 million Briton have had AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, which drug regulators say causes a rash in one percent of cases. They say rashes caused by the jab tend to go away within a week.

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Trojan labs? Chinese biotech company offers to build COVID testing labs in six states

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In 2012, BGI acquired Complete Genomics, a DNA sequencing company and equipment maker. The funds for the $117.6 million purchase were raised from Chinese venture capitals. The company has expanded its footprint globally. According to its website, BGI conducts business in more than 100 countries and areas and has 11 offices and labs in the U.S.

People are concerned about China’s access to American DNA data

Some said that with Complete Genomics providing an American base, BGI would have access to more DNA samples from Americans, helping it compile a huge database of genetic information. Some also worried about the protection of the genetic information’s privacy.

According to a 2019 report from the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), BGI “has formed numerous partnerships with U.S. healthcare providers and research organizations to provide large-scale genetic sequencing to support medical research efforts,”

There are three main reasons why many people in the biotech community and government have expressed concerns about China’s access to American DNA data.

In the “60 Minutes” interview, Evanina discussed the very likely scenario in which Chinese companies would be able to micro-target American individuals and offer customized preventative solutions based on their DNA.

Evanina asked: “Do we want to have another nation systematically eliminate our healthcare services? Are we okay with that as a nation?”

The second concern is that China may use DNA to track and attack American individuals. As the USCC report states: “China could target vulnerabilities in specific individuals brought to light by genomic data or health records. Individuals targeted in such attacks would likely be strategically identified persons, such as diplomats, politicians, high-ranking federal officials or military leadership.”

The third concern is that China may devise bioweapons to target non-Asians. Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, discussed it in his article “What Will China Do With Your DNA?” published by The Epoch Times in March 2019.

He wrote: “We know that the Asian genome is genetically distinct from the Caucasian and African in many ways. … Would it be possible to bioengineer a very virulent version of, say, smallpox, that was easily transmitted, fatal to other races, but to which the Chinese enjoyed a natural immunity? … Given our present ability to manipulate genomes, if such a bio-weapon can be imagined, it can probably – given enough time and resources – be realized.”

An article from Technocracy said: “China’s aggressive collection of American DNA should be doubly alarming because it can only spell one ultimate outcome: biowarfare. That is, genetically engineering viruses or other diseases that will be selectively harmful to U.S. populations.”

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