© 2003 Whole Foods Magazine

December 2003

An interview with Dr. Roger Kendall

Dimethylglycine (DMG): Part 2

The leading DMG researcher offers insights into new discoveries about this remarkable nutrient.

By Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D.

Dimethylglycine (DMG) is an effective energy-boosting, stamina-enhancing and cardiovascular-building nutrient. Unfortunately, relatively few people are aware of the many incredible benefits and healing potential of DMG. Now the leading expert on DMG, Dr. Roger Kendall, has co-authored a book, Building Wellness with DMG (Freedom Press 2003), which reports how DMG can help improve the health of many people. Last month, we chatted with Dr. Kendall about the history of DMG, his research with DMG and the biochemistry of DMG. Now we continue the discussion with the role of DMG in the immune system, cancer, heart disease, autism, athletic performance and veterinary uses.

Passwater: What are some of the important new discoveries that you have made about DMG over the years that were not previously discussed in the literature?

Kendall: This is the exciting part of being involved in biochemical research where you unexpectedly come across some new discovery that has not been seen before. I cannot take all the credit here, as our new findings have been a result of teamwork. Einstein once was quoted as saying that "true discovery comes to the prepared mind," and I have worked with many highly skilled and professional scientists who with their years of experience were able to identify or discover four major areas that were not previously reported on. These include the effect of DMG on the immune system, its anti-cancer properties, and its ability to act as an anti-inflammatory agent and to reverse some negative effects of autoimmune diseases like lupus. We cover most of these new discoveries in the book and, more important, relate how these findings equate to using DMG in real life to build wellness.

I might comment that we suspected for years that DMG could act as an antioxidant because of its ability to protect the body from radiation. The U.S. Army and Clemson University completed some initial work in this area. The real clincher came in a paper published in 2000, where the authors reported that DMG, in a dose-related manner, reduced the production of lipid peroxides in a rat model.

The model was used to look at the effect of DMG on gastric ulcers, since the generation of oxygen-derived free radials and lipid peroxidation has been implicated in the development of gastric ulcers. DMG had a gastro-protective effect in stress-induced ulcers, and DMG’s free-radical scavenging activity was felt to be the principal mode of activity. As a side note to this paper, it is now well known that ulcers in humans are caused by an infection of Helicobacter pylori bacteria. One could speculate that DMG will also help to heal ulcers by means of its immune response enhancement against bacterial infections.

Passwater: How does DMG improve the immune system and who could benefit from this nutrient in this regard?

Kendall: Dr. Charles Graber and I made the discovery in 1978 that DMG could protect the body from an immune challenge from bacterial microorganisms in a way that involves both arms of the immune system (cellular and humeral immunity). DMG increased the antibody production (B-cell response) in individuals getting a vaccine over 400 times as compared to the control group. Other blood tests revealed the involvement of the T-cells to enhance the effect against the antigen. We can conclude that DMG enhances both humeral (antibody) and cell-mediated immune response.

Further work at Clemson University has shown that DMG enhances both B- and T-cell production as well as stimulates the production of cytokines such as interferon, tumor necrosis factor, and a number of interleukins. More details can be found in the published papers that point out that DMG could be a very valuable addition for anyone suffering from a weakened immune response, degenerative disease or having an active viral or bacterial infection. DMG can be said to be an active protector of the body and can protect against a wide variety of infective agents.

Most people could benefit from the addition of DMG to their supplement program in regard to their immune system. We are constantly coming into contact with many infective agents on a daily basis including bacteria, viruses and fungi, and DMG can help our bodies destroy these invaders and help us avoid getting sick.

Excessive stress can weaken our immune system’s response against the flu and the common cold for instance. DMG on the other hand will bolster our bodies’ natural response to these immune challenges even in the presence of emotional and physical stress.

As people get older, their immune systems weaken due to aging. DMG can be surprisingly effective, for instance, in enhancing the cellular and antibody responses in people over 60. We observed this in a human study we did at the South Carolina Medical School at Charleston. Also any person who has a degenerative condition such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes or cancer does have a compromised immune system. These individuals can use DMG and get a much-needed boost for their weakened immune systems.

Children and teachers in school are exposed to a constant line of infective agents. DMG can make a difference in reducing the amount of time that people get sick.

In summary, in my experience most individuals including athletes, students, geriatrics, business people, those fighting degenerative conditions, etc. would benefit from taking between 250 and 500 mg of DMG daily to strengthen their immune defenses.

Passwater: Explain how you discovered that DMG has anticancer properties?

Kendall: In research, one discovery always leads to more questions about what to do next to advance the understanding of a particular situation. Dr. John Lawson at Clemson University continued the work started by Dr. Graber and in particular wanted to learn more about how DMG would modulate or affect the immune system. We knew that DMG had a particularly strong effect on modulating or enhancing an immune response in the presence of a challenge, such as a vaccination, which causes the body to produce among other things a greater antibody response to the antigen. We also knew from work with a rabbit model that DMG causes the body to produce more T-lymphocytes and increase alpha-interferon, a cytokine produced by T-cells. This discovery got us to thinking that perhaps DMG might impact the immune system of an animal with cancer, since it was known that alpha-interferon was being studied for its anti-tumor activity.

We decided to evaluate what effect DMG would have on the immune system of mice injected with melanoma cancer cells. Melanoma was chosen because it was a very active cancer that very quickly will undergo metastasis (spread to other organs and tissues). As an added advantage, melanoma tumors were very easy to see in tissue. Graduate students conducted the experiment. After 40 days all of the control mice had died, but of the mice receiving DMG over 75% of that group was still alive and lived over twice as long as the control mice before they were sacrificed. Evaluation of the mice showed that the control mice died because the cancer spread to other organs including the lungs, heart and liver. The test mice showed no metastasis as the tumors in the DMG mice were walled off by the immune system.

So even before we knew the impact of the DMG on the immune system relative to antibodies or cytokine activity in the mice, we knew we were on to something big. We were not expecting to find a direct anticancer effect, only possible changes within the immune system that would help us understand the mechanism of action. We did find that DMG caused an increase in both antibody titers to the melanoma as well as a big increase in the level of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a known antitumor cytokine produced from the macrophages. Later we found that DMG also has a direct toxic effect on a wide range of cancer cells including breast, prostate and ovarian cancers, which is not a direct result of DMG impact on the immune response. In conclusion, we found out about DMG’s anticancer effect as a result of looking at its immune modulation potential.

Passwater: You have mentioned various ways that DMG can help the heart and the vascular system. Would you please summarize the cardiovascular health benefits of DMG and tell us what is known about the modes of action?

Kendall: I have received many reports over the years from people relating how DMG improved their cardiovascular health. Specific benefits shown by DMG included reduction of elevated cholesterol, homocysteine and triglycerides levels, lowering of high blood pressure, elimination of angina pain, and increased exercise tolerance. Dr. Mitchell Pries, a cardiologist from Palm Dessert, CA, evaluated DMG in nearly 400 patients over a four-year period and was able to clinically verify these exciting findings. He found that DMG improved circulatory and heart functions, provided higher energy levels and that his patients were able to eliminate or significantly reduce their medications. Based on test results, he also reported that DMG appeared to increase the "good cholesterol" HDL while reducing the level of the "bad cholesterol" LDL. He reported that his patients simply did better on DMG.

As a metabolic enhancer, DMG reduces symptoms associated with physical, emotional, and environmental stressors that can contribute to cardiovascular dysfunction. DMG allows for better oxygen utilization at the cellular level, which reduces the effects of circulatory insufficiencies and heart pain (angina) due to low oxygen availability. Better circulation to the extremities and less pain has been seen in people suffering from poor circulation to the lower leg muscles.

DMG can also reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (arterial plaque formation) by helping to lower homocysteine levels and reducing free-radical damage caused by lipid peroxidation. Along with elevated LDL and VLDL cholesterol, these are major risk factors in stroke and myocardial infarcts (heart attacks). DMG can act as source of methyl groups, and, along with folic acid and vitamin B-12. can help convert homocysteine to methionine, an essential amino acid. In this way DMG acts as a type of methionine pump, reducing a harmful excess of homocysteine, which causes free-radical damage to the arterial walls, while at the same time increasing the level of methionine, which can act as a free-radical scavenger. For these reasons DMG is very beneficial to recovering heart patients and to those who want to reduce their risk to cardiovascular disease as they get older.

Passwater: Autism is a growing health problem in the country today. Why is that, and how does DMG help individuals with this condition?

Kendall: There appears to be a surge in autism in the past decade, especially among children in the ages of 1 to 4 years of age. It is a devastating syndrome that causes children to withdraw socially, discontinue talking and a whole host of health issues from poor gut health, restlessness and severe chemical and food sensitivities. The reason for this increase is not clear but many experts have linked the increase in autism to the mercury compound used as a preservative in vaccines (in some states children receive over 40 vaccinations in their first three years), environmental toxins, abnormal immune system response or irregularities of the digestive tract.

My experience with DMG and autism began in 1978 when I began to work with Dr. Bernard Rimland at the Autism Research Institute. We collaborated on a number of studies with DMG on children with autism and the results were very positive. Subsequent studies completed in Korea and Taiwan gave conclusive evidence of the potential benefit of DMG for children with autism.

Over the years Dr. Rimland has received thousands of positive reports and testimonials from parents revealing the positive responses of the nutrient in their children. DMG benefits for individuals with autism include improved verbal communication, better social interaction and warmness to others, improved eye contact, better sleep patterns, reduced seizure activity and improved immune system. It is wonderful to read the grateful letters from parents who are hearing their children speak to them after years of silence and total indifference.

Passwater: I discussed my experience with DMG and its beneficial effect on athletic performance last month. In 1964, Soviet scientists published claims for the therapeutic and nutritional properties of what is now known as DMG. It was used in the 1968 Summer Olympics by Soviet and East German athletes to boost stamina and performance, provide greater energy and reduce fatigue among athletes. Please explain how DMG affects athletic performance?

Kendall: Interestingly enough, one of the first discoveries regarding DMG was that it could improve the performance times of racing thoroughbreds by reducing lactic acid buildup. DMG will help the endurance of the horse especially in the home stretch, and the same can be found with human athletes.

I remembered that after I had reviewed research data on a controlled study in horses, the data seemed to suggest that the lactic acid reduction effect was rather rapid. I decided to test this hypothesis on myself by running several miles and causing my leg muscles to cramp up as a result of lactic acid buildup. The pain was quite severe in my calf and thigh muscles as I was not in that good shape. I then began to take five 125 mg. sublingual DMG tablets and within 10 minutes the pain and cramping were completely gone even though I continued to run for several more miles. My recovery was good and I did not experience any soreness to speak of on the next day. I then knew from personal experience that DMG really worked to help performance.

My work with athletes as described in the DMG book shows that DMG improves endurance, enhances oxygen utilization, reduces lactic acid buildup and improves muscle metabolism.

Passwater: What amount of DMG should people use, and are there any safety concerns over the use of DMG?

Kendall: First of all, DMG is an extremely safe nutritional supplement to use and there are no adverse conditions associated with its use. It can be recommended for children, it is highly non-allergenic, and can be used in combination with almost all drug therapies.

The level people should use is quite broad, depending on the age, health condition and the level of the physical and emotional stress the person is undergoing. Depending on the personal situation people might safely use from 125 mg to several grams daily. Again the book goes into greater detail on specific levels of use and I would ask the reader to get a copy and decide for him- or herself what dosage makes sense—after consulting a health care practitioner. I do have my personal website at www.dmgdoctor.com if people would like to send in particular questions, post their personal testimonials or success stories with DMG.

Passwater: You have a chapter in Building Wellness with DMG on the veterinary uses of DMG. Can you tell our readers about these uses and why people should consider giving DMG to their pets?

Kendall: Just as DMG has many health-building and therapeutic properties for people, likewise veterinarians and trainers have found DMG useful for the care and maintenance of dogs, cats, horses, birds, and other members of the animal kingdom as well. DMG is especially valuable to those animals that are exposed to high stress, infections, environmental toxins, and free radicals that can have a deleterious effect on the cardiovascular system, liver health, and immune system.

DMG has been used successfully in the animal field for over 30 years. One of the first areas to be evaluated was in equine and canine track performance where DMG was found to enhance endurance, reduce muscle fatigue and decrease recovery time. These benefits are primarily due to DMG’s ability to decrease lactic acid and improve oxygen utilization at the cellular level.

In the Natural Health Bible for Dogs and Cats, Shawn Messonnier, D.V.M., recommends DMG for both improved performance and recovery from a number of illnesses. Therapeutic uses for DMG include osteoarthritis, allergies, seizures, heart disease, melanoma and other cancers, feline immunodeficiency virus, feline peritonitis and diabetes. DMG has seen good success in dealing with seizures in dogs and horses. Supplementation with DMG can positively influence the health and well being of those animals whose immune and detoxification systems have been compromised. It also has seen results in decreasing allergic reactions, which has helped to improve skin health in both dogs and cats. DMG has been used on many species of birds as an anti-stress nutrient. Positive benefits have been seen on birds with chronic feather picking habits, immune related infections and liver toxicities.

Overall, DMG is a multifaceted nutrient that can contribute to the health and well being of most animal species. In the book there are a number of specific examples given by veterinarians and pet owners who have included DMG as part of their healing and wellness programs for their animals. I have also included information in the book on suggested usage ranges for the different species.

Passwater: What do you see as areas of future research with DMG?

Kendall: As I mentioned in the book, the DMG story is not over. There is much to be learned about this marvelous nutrient, healing agent and metabolic enhancer. We know quite a bit now about how it works in the body and have seen evidence of the many health benefits it can bring, as we have discussed in this interview. I would really like to see future research focus on specific human clinical trials on diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, ocular degeneration, and on autoimmune diseases like lupus. Unfortunately, due to expense and the resistance of drug companies to pursue research with natural therapies, it will be some time before circumstances change. In the meantime, I hope to continue my work on a smaller scale. My plan is to encourage doctors in small clinical programs to evaluate DMG’s full potential in the healing of the body—either alone or in combination with other synergistic nutritional products. I am convinced that as more successful reports come to light, we will be seeing more interest by mainstream physicians in the use of DMG.

Passwater: Thank you, Dr. Kendall. Perhaps we can chat some more again soon. I’d like to review more about DMG and cardiovascular disease, epilepsy, the immune system and veterinary uses. But let’s save these for another day. WF


© 2003 Whole Foods Magazine and Richard A. Passwater, Ph.D.

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