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PS, We Love You

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PS, we love you. With good reason!

There are nearly 20,000 studies on PS listed on PubMed alone, and its established benefits include:

We’ll explore some of these studies and give an overview of how PS does what it does. Just like the (otherwise unrelated) l-theanine we talked about a couple of weeks ago, it does do a lot of things.

Speaking of unpronounceable wonder-drugs, do you remember paracetamoxyfrusebendroneomycin? If you haven’t heard of it before, you’re in for a treat, and if you have, well, have a dose on us:

Show it to a friend who might need it, and pass on the cheer!

Now, back to more serious things

PS = Cow Brain?!

Let’s first address a concern. You may have heard something along the lines of “hey, isn’t PS made from cow brain, and isn’t that Very Bad™ for humans, mad cow disease and all?”. The short answer is:

Firstly: ingesting cow brain tissue is indeed generally considered Very Bad™ for humans, on account of the potential for transmission of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) resulting in its human equivalent, Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease (CJD), whose unpleasantries are beyond the scope of this newsletter.

Secondly (and more pleasantly): whilst PS can be derived from bovine brain tissue, most PS supplements these days derive from soy—or sometimes sunflower lecithin. Check labels if unsure.

Using PS to Improve Other Treatments

In the human body, the question of tolerance brings us a paradox (not the tolerance paradox, important as that may also be): we must build and maintain a strong immune system capable of quickly adapting to new things, and then when we need medicines (or even supplements), we need our body to not build tolerance of them, for them to continue having an effect.

So, we’re going to look at a very hot-off-the-press study (Feb 2023), that found PS to “mediate oral tolerance”, which means that it helps things (medications, supplements etc.) that we take orally and want to keep working, keep working.

In the scientists’ own words (we love scientists’ own words because they haven’t been distorted by the popular press)…

❝This immunotherapy has been shown to prevent/reduce immune response against life-saving protein-based therapies, food allergens, autoantigens, and the antigenic viral capsid peptide commonly used in gene therapy, suggesting a broad spectrum of potential clinical applications. Given the good safety profile of PS together with the ease of administration, oral tolerance achieved with PS-based nanoparticles has a very promising therapeutic impact.❞

Nguyen et al, Feb 2023

In other words, to parse those two very long sentences into two shorter bullet points:

  • It allows a lot of important treatments to continue working—treatments that the body would otherwise counteract
  • It is very safe—and won’t harm the normal function of your immune system at large

This is also very consistent with one of the benefits we mentioned up top—PS helps avoid rejection of implants, something that can be a huge difference to health-related quality of life (HRQoL), never mind sometimes life itself!

What is PS Anyways, and How Does It Work?

Phosphatidylserine is a phospholipid, a kind of lipid, found in cell membranes. More importantly:

It’s a signalling agent, mainly for apoptosis, which in lay terms means: it tells cells when it’s time to die.

Cellular death sounds like a bad thing, but prompt and efficient cellular apoptosis (death) and resultant prompt and efficient autophagy (recycling) reduce the risk of your body making mistakes when creating new cells from old cells.

Think about photocopying:

  • Situation A: You have a document, and you want to copy it. If you copy it before it gets messed up, your copy will look almost, if not exactly, like the original. It’ll be super easy to read.
  • Situation B: You have a document, and you want to copy it, but you delay doing so for so long that the original is all scuffed and creased and has a coffee stain on it. These unwanted changes will get copied onto the new document, and any copy made of that copy will keep the problems too. It gets worse and worse each time.

So, using this over-simplifier analogy, the speed of ‘copying’ is a major factor in cellular aging. The sooner cells are copied, before something gets damaged, the better the copy will be.

So you really, really want to have enough PS (our bodies make it too, by the way) to signal promptly to a cell when its time is up.

You do not want cells soldiering on until they’re the biological equivalent of that crumpled up, coffee-stained sheet of paper.

Little wonder, then, that PS’ most commonly-sought benefit when it comes to supplementation is to help avoid age-related neurodegeneration (most notably, memory loss)!

Keeping the cells young means keeping the brain young!

PS’s role as a signalling agent doesn’t end there—it also has a lot to say to a wide variety of the body’s immunological cells, helping them know what needs to happen to what. Some things should be immediately eaten and recycled; other things need more extreme measures applied to them first, and yet other things need to be ignored, and so forth.

You can read more about that in Elsevier’s publication if you’re curious 🙂

Wow, what a ride today’s newsletter has been! We started at paracetamoxyfrusebendroneomycin, and got down to the nitty gritty with a bunch of hopefully digestible science!

We love feedback, so please let us know if we’re striking the balance right, and/or if you’d like to see more or less of something—there’s a feedback widget at the bottom of this email!

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