The following article includes a video explanation of macular degeneration, the drug that is normally associated with this condition, Dr. Mercola’s take on it, plus some more detailed information about what Dr. Mercola recommends.
“As most of you know, the conventional medical system tends to equate “health” with the absence of symptoms of disease. The entire industry is built around treating symptoms with expensive patented drugs, many of which are profoundly toxic and dangerous.
Pharmaceutical companies now rule the entire healthcare system, and they go to great lengths to protect their profits, even if it means sacrificing patients’ health in the long run.
A recent story from the United Kingdom illustrates how far drug companies will go to make sure their expensive drugs are used when cheaper ones are available, and how medical facilities completely ignore more obvious cost-saving and safe solutions.
In London, in a legal maneuver intended to eliminate their competition, drug maker Novartis is now trying to force state-run hospitals to use their eye drug, which costs nearly 12 times as much as a cheaper drug the hospitals are currently using.
Novartis’ drug, Lucentis, is the only one recommended for treatment of macular degeneration in Great Britain. But in an effort to save money, hospitals have been using the cancer drug Avastin instead, even though it’s an off-label use that its manufacturer, Roche, says it hasn’t even studied. (Avastin was recently recalled by the U.S. FDA because of its dangerous side effects, which include heart attacks.)
Novartis is now demanding a judicial review, to make the hospitals comply with the standard recommendation to use their drug and stop using Avastin off-label to treat this eye disease. Needless to say, using a dangerous cancer drug off-label to treat macular degeneration is far from an ideal solution, even though it’s 12 times cheaper than the other drug alternative…
If they really wanted to save money and spare people’s eyesight, they’d start paying closer attention to the research into astaxanthin. Studies have shown this safe and natural supplement is therapeutic for macular degeneration, and it’s a product anyone can take without running the risk of potentially devastating side effects. Astaxanthin may in fact be one of the most powerful nutrients ever discovered for eye health, and it costs pennies on the dollar compared to either Lucentis or Avastin.
Research Supports Astaxanthin for Macular Degeneration
While the off-label use of Avastin for macular degeneration is said to be based on a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine
last year, which showed Avastin worked just as well as Lucentis for treating macular degeneration, numerous studies exist demonstrating the treatment potential of astaxanthin for this eye disorder. For example, one 2008 study, published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science
, concluded thati
“Astaxanthin treatment, together with inflammatory processes including NF-kB activation, subsequent upregulation of inflammatory molecules, and macrophage infiltration, led to significant suppression of choroidal neovascularization (CNV) development. The present study suggests the possibility of astaxanthin supplementation as a therapeutic strategy to suppress CNV associated with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).”
For more information, please see this previous article
that describes how astaxanthin
can help protect your eyesight.
Isn’t it time for another approach? Like Taking Control of Your Health without drugs, chemicals and radiation.
Wikipedia reports that “Astaxanthin
) is a carotenoid
. It belongs to a larger class of phytochemicals
, which are built from five carbon precursors;isopentenyl diphosphate
(or IPP) and dimethylallyl diphosphate
(or DMAPP). Astaxanthin is classified as axanthophyll
(originally derived from a word meaning “yellow leaves” since yellow plant leaf pigments were the first recognized of the xanthophyll family of carotenoids), but currently employed to described carotenoid compounds that have oxygen-containing moities, hydroxyl (OH) or ketone (=0), such as zeaxanthin
. Indeed, astaxanthin is a metabolite of zeaxanthin and/or canthaxanthin, containing both hydroxyl and ketone functional groups. Like many carotenoids, astaxanthin is a colorful, lipid
. This colour is due to the extended chain of conjugated (alternating double and single) double bonds at the centre of the compound. This chain of conjugated double bonds is also responsible for the antioxidant function of astaxanthin (as well as other carotenoids) as it results in a region of decentralized electrons that can be donated to reduce a reactive oxidizing molecule.
Astaxanthin, unlike several carotenes and one other known carotenoid, is not converted to vitamin A
(retinol) in the human body. Like other carotenoids, astaxanthin has self-limited absorption orally and such low toxicity by mouth that no toxic syndrome is known. It is an antioxidant
with a slightly lower antioxidant activity in some model systems than other carotenoids. However, in living organisms the free-radical terminating effectiveness of each carotenoid is heavily modified by its lipid solubility, and thus varies with the type of system being protected. 
While astaxanthin is a natural nutritional component, it can also be used as a food supplement. The supplement is intended for human, animal, and aquaculture
consumption. The commercial production of astaxanthin comes from both natural and synthetic sources.
The following sources are used for the commercial production of astaxanthin:
As a natural source, the following can be found in nature (or a production facility) with the approximate astaxanthin concentrations:
Currently, the primary natural source for astaxanthin is the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis
It seems to accumulate the highest levels of astaxanthin in nature;
Commercially more than 40 g of astaxanthin can be obtained from one kg of dry biomass.
It has the advantage of the population doubling every week, which means scaling up is not an issue. However, it does require some expertise to grow the algae with a high astaxanthin content. Specifically, the microalgae is grown in two phases. First, in the green phase, the cells are given an abundance of nutrients to promote proliferation of the cells. In the subsequent red phase, the cells are deprived of nutrients and subjected to intense sunlight to induce encystment (carotogenesis), during which the cells produce high levels of astaxanthin as a protective mechanism against the environmental stress. The cells, with their high concentrations of astaxanthin, are then harvested.
Phaffia yeast Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous
exhibits 100% free, non-esterified astaxanthin, which is considered advantageous because it is readily absorbable and need not be hydrolysed in the digestive tract of the fish. In contrast to synthetic and bacteria sources of astaxanthin, yeast sources of astaxanthin consist virtually all in 3R, 3’R form, an important astaxanthin source in nature. Finally, the geometrical isomer, all-E, is higher in yeast sources of astaxanthin, as compared to synthetic sources. This contributes to greater efficacy because the all-E (trans) isomer has greater bio-availability than the cis isomer.
The Krill fishing operation is complex. It is done in Antarctic waters, under extreme weather conditions and far away from ports with substantial operational complexities. Krill’s fishing location and the difficult weather conditions in the main fishing area, together with the costs involved in the operation, have contributed to a slow development of the industry. Krill fishing is by far different than any other fishing operation today known. The knowledge to work with it belongs to very few people in the world.
Astaxanthin is commercially collected from shrimp processing waste. 12,000 pounds of wet shrimp shells can yield a 6-8 gallon astaxanthin/triglyceride oil mixture.
Nearly all commercial astaxanthin for aquaculture is produced synthetically, with an annual turnover of over $200 million and a selling price of ~$2000 per kilo.
However, synthetic production of astaxanthin is not preferred in some cases because synthetic astaxanthin contains a mixture of stereoisomers
. Astaxanthin is fairly abundant and obtainable from natural sources, and some consumers prefer natural products over synthetic ones.
Synthetic astaxanthin fetches $2000 per kg, while the natural product is sold for over $7000 per kg.
An efficient synthesis from isophorone
-3-methyl-2-penten-4-yn-1-ol and a symmetrical C10
-dialdehyde has been discovered and is used commercially. It combines these chemicals together with an ethynylation and then a Wittig reaction.
Two equivalents of the proper ylide combined with the proper dialdehyde in a solvent of methanol, ethanol, or a mixture of the two, yields astaxanthin in up to 88% yields.
The cost of astaxanthin production, high commercial price and lack of a leading fermentation production systems, combined with the short falls of chemical synthesis mean that research into alternative fermentation production methods has been carried out. Metabolic engineering offers the opportunity to create biological systems for the production of a specific target compound. The metabolic engineering of bacteria (Escherichia coli
) recently allowed production of astaxanthin at >90% of the total carotenoids, providing the first engineered production system capable of efficient astaxanthin production.
The production of astaxanthin by metabolic engineering, in isolation, will not provide a suitable alternative to current commercial methods. Rather, a bioprocess approach should be adopted. Such an approach would consider fermentation conditions and economics, as well as downstream processing (extraction). Carotenoid extraction has been studied extensively, for example, the extraction of canthaxanthin (a precursor to astaxanthin) was studied within an E. coli
production process demonstrating that extraction efficiency was increased substantially when two solvents; acetone and methanol, were used sequentially rather than as a combined solution. 
Astaxanthin has two chiral centers
, at the 3- and 3′-positions. Therefore, there are three stereoisomers
), and (3S
). Synthetic astaxanthin contains a mixture of the three, in approximately 1:2:1 proportions. Naturally occurring astaxanthin varies considerably from one organism to another. The astaxanthin in fish is of whatever stereoisomer the fish ingested.
The astaxanthin produced by haematococcus pluvialis
, which is commonly used in the feed of animals that are in turn consumed by humans, is the (3S
Astaxanthin is used as a feed supplement for salmon, crabs, shrimp, chickens and egg production.
Regardless of the source, astaxanthin provides some important benefits beyond coloration. It also has been found to be essential for proper growth and survival.
The primary use of synthetic astaxanthin today is as an animal feed additive to impart coloration, including farm-raised salmon and egg yolks.
Synthetic carotenoid pigments colored yellow, red or orange represent about 15–25% of the cost of production of commercial salmon feed.
Today, almost all commercial astaxanthin for aquaculture is produced synthetically from petrochemical sources. While it constitutes a tiny portion of salmon feed (50 to 100 parts per million), astaxanthin represents a major share of the cost, up to 20 percent.
Class action lawsuits have been filed against some major grocery store chains for not clearly labeling the salmon “color added”.
The chains followed up quickly by labeling all such salmon as “color added”. “…Smith & Lowney persisted with the suit for damages, but a Seattle judge dismissed [the case], ruling that enforcement of the applicable food laws was up to government and not individuals.”
The primary use for humans is as a food supplement
. Research shows that, due to astaxanthin’s potent antioxidant activity, it may be beneficial in cardiovascular, immune, inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases.
Some research supports the assumption that it may protect body tissues from oxidative damage.
It has been speculated that gulls are “flushed” pink when molting, especially in areas with farm-raised salmon.
However, not enough is known about the relationship between astaxanthin and plumage.
For example, cardinals seem to produce astaxanthin from carotenoids when molting, even when fed primarily seed with natural yellow dye.
Lobsters, shrimp, and some crabs turn red when cooked because the astaxanthin, which was bound to the protein in the shell, becomes free as the protein denatures and unwinds. The freed pigment is thus available to absorb light and produce the red color. 
In April 2009, the US FDA approved astaxanthin as an additive for fish feed only as a component of a stabilized color additive mixture. Color additive mixtures for fish feed made with astaxanthin may contain only those diluents that are suitable.
The color additives astaxanthin, ultramarine blue
, syntheticiron oxide
, dried algae meal, Tagetes
meal and extract, and corn endosperm oil are approved for specific uses in animal foods. Haematococcus
algae meal (21 CFR 73.185) and Phaffia
yeast (21 CFR 73.355) for use in fish feed to color salmonoids were added in 2000.
In the European Union
, astaxanthin-containing food supplements derived from sources that have no history of use as a source of food in Europe, fall under the remit of the Novel Food legislation, EC (No.) 258/97. Since 1997, there have been five novel food applications concerning products that contain astaxanthin extracted from these novel sources. In each case, these applications have been simplified or substantial equivalence applications, because astaxanthin itself is recognised as a food component in the EU diet.“
Macular Degeneration Drug Scandal And Natural Remedy Choice
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