Membrane Lipid Replacement can play a key role in restoring mitochondrial function lost due to chronic illness. The result? More energy, less pain and so much more.
“In most if not all acute and chronic illnesses, cellular membranes
are damaged by oxidative free radicals that are produced
mainly by mitochondria.”1 Garth Nicolson, et al.
Research is beginning to reveal that most chronic illnesses that result in significant fatigue, such as M.E. / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), fibromyalgia (FM) and chronic Lyme disease, all include some degree of mitochondrial dysfunction. Since mitochondria are the engines (energy producers) that power every cell in the body, it stands to reason that a serious lack of energy would probably have something to do with the mitochondria not functioning properly. In fact, that’s exactly what researchers are finding.
- A 2012 study conducted in the UK reported that all 138 ME/CFS patients tested had “measureable mitochondrial dysfunction which correlates with the severity of the illness.”2
- In a 2015 Spanish study, researchers found that fibromyalgia patients had significant reductions in mitochondrial enzyme activity, mitochondrial proteins, CoQ10, ATP and mitochondrial DNA levels compared with healthy controls.3
- The results of a 2015 U.S. study suggest that “oxidative stress and interrupted intracellular communication may ultimately contribute to a condition of mitochondrial dysfunction in the immune cells of Lyme borreliosis patients.”4
While the link between mitochondrial dysfunction and illnesses like FM, ME/CFS and chronic Lyme disease is not a new concept, you might be surprised to learn there is now something that can be done to help restore mitochondrial function.
Taking the “Dys” Out of Dysfunction
First, we need to take a look at why the mitochondria are not functioning properly.
With any chronic illness, there is an increase in the amount of free radical oxidants in the cells. Some of the major targets of free radical oxidants inside cells are the cellular membranes, which consist of a lipid bilayer (also known as a phospholipid bilayer) with embedded proteins, a structure worked out by Singer and Nicolson over 40 years ago.4A Since mitochondria are exceptionally sensitive to the attacks of these free radical oxidants, the lipids in their cell membranes are easily damaged. When that happens, the membranes become leaky and lose much of their energy-producing function (about half in the case of fibromyalgia).
Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. A new dietary supplement – Patented Energy™ with NT Factor® – is now available that has been specifically developed to repair the mitochondrial membranes by giving them natural membrane lipids that replace the damaged lipids and restore the function of the mitochondria. This process is known as Membrane Lipid Replacement (MLR).
The lipids in Patented Energy™ with NT Factor® are not what we typically think of as fats that get stored in our bodies as large fat globules. They are actually glycerolphospholipids or membrane lipids that are in the mitochondrial membranes already.
The real action begins for these phospholipids when they arrive in the small intestine. In the Patented Energy™ with NT Factor® supplement there is an added bonus – the phospholipids are protected from acid degradation and dissolution with small plant protective molecules called inulins. Inulins, which are actually fructooligosaccharides that protect plants from freezing and other environmental damage, have been used in foods for decades to protect from oxidative and enzymatic destruction. Thus the phospholipids can be taken into the epithelial cells that line the small intestine intact and undamaged.
From there, they enter the circulatory system and find their way to a variety of cells and tissues. Once they enter these cells, they are distributed to the various parts of the cell membranes where they’re needed. As the damaged cell membrane phospholipids are replaced with these new, healthy phospholipids, the damaged cells are gradually repaired. Also, the damaged membrane phospholipids are removed in the process, transported back into the circulatory system and eventually secreted back into the intestine and eliminated in the stool.
This process of removing damaged membrane phospholipids and replacing them with new phospholipids is not unusual. It’s something our bodies are designed to do naturally. However, our bodies just don’t operate fast enough to compensate for the extensive cell membrane damage that occurs in chronic illnesses like FM, ME/CFS and Lyme disease. So Patented Energy™ with NT Factor® lends a hand by accelerating this natural process. MLR can also be used to slowly mobilize and remove dangerous hydrocarbon chemicals that are sequestered into cellular lipid environments.
Symptom Improvement with Membrane Lipid Replacement
Fatigue: MLR has been used in several clinical trials with moderate to severe chronic fatigue patients in order to assess its effect on fatigue levels.5-12
In one particular trial, the effect of NT Factor® glycerolphospholipids on fatigue in moderately fatigued subjects was examined to see if mitochondrial function improved with oral administration of the MLR supplement. After 8 weeks of MLR taking 3.9 g per day of NT Factor®, mitochondrial function was significantly improved. After 12 weeks, mitochondrial function was found to be similar to that found in young healthy adults, while fatigue was reduced 35.5%.6
Similar results on the effects of NT Factor® on fatigue have been found in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) and/or fibromyalgia, chronic Lyme disease and Gulf War illness. Reductions in fatigue ranged from 26% – 43%.5-12
Pain: The widespread chronic pain of fibromyalgia is another area where Patented Energy™ with NT Factor® may prove to be beneficial. Preliminary studies found that FM patients who took the NT Factor EnergyLipids reported reductions of widespread pain as well as improvements in fatigue and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Currently, Garth Nicolson a Prof. Emeritus at The Institute for Molecular Medicine, and his research team are conducting a randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled, cross-over clinical trial to determine the effects of Patented Energy™ with NT Factor® on fibromyalgia symptoms. The primary symptoms they will be focusing on are pain, fatigue and gastrointestinal problems.
Weight Loss: Patients using Patented Energy™ with NT Factor® are discovering a nice side benefit – weight loss. Since Patented Energy™ with NT Factor® tends to decrease the craving for sweet and fatty foods, people are finding that they are naturally losing weight while repairing their mitochondrial membranes and decreasing their fatigue.
Other Improvements: Because virtually every cell in the body contains mitochondria, MLR is likely to result in many other benefits in addition to increased energy and reduced pain. A review in the journal Biochimica et Biophysica Acta reports improvements in a wide range of health issues, including aging, cardiovascular health, degenerative diseases, neurobehavioral diseases and metabolic diseases.13
Why Patented Energy™ with NT Factor® Is a Cut Above Other MLR Products
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There are several other membrane lipid replacement products on the market, but two things in particular make Patented Energy™ with NT Factor® stand out:
- It is specifically and uniquely balanced for mitochondrial lipid content.
- While many other lipid replacement products are destroyed in the stomach before getting to the small intestine where they can be utilized effectively, Patented Energy™ with NT Factor® contains natural plant inulins that protect the phospholipids from the oxidative, enzymatic and bile acid damage in the gastrointestinal system.
Easy to Take: Patented Energy™ with NT Factor® are tasty wafers that can be chewed or allowed to dissolve in your mouth. They have a mild, natural mixed-berry flavor.
Dosage: The bottle suggests taking one wafer twice a day, however, many of the clinical trials have used up to 4 wafers per day. In fact, Prof. Nicolson recommends that teen and adult patients take 4 wafers per day, while children can take 2 wafers per day.
Safety: There has been no evidence of any toxicity or adverse events from the long-term use of MLR glycerolphospholipids, even at very high doses of more than five grams per day. The FDA has classified MLR phospholipids as ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ or GRAS.
Karen Lee Richards is ProHealth’s Editor-in-Chief. A fibromyalgia patient herself, she co-founded the nonprofit organization now known as the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) in 1997 and served as its vice-president for eight years. She was also the executive editor of Fibromyalgia AWARE magazine. After leaving the NFA, Karen served as the Guide to Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for the New York Times website About.com, then worked for eight years as the Chronic Pain Health Guide for The HealthCentral Network before coming to ProHealth. To learn more about Karen, see “Meet Karen Lee Richards.”
1. Nicolson GL, et al. (2016) Clinical Uses of Membrane Lipid Replacement Supplements in Restoring Membrane Function and Reducing Fatigue in Chronic Diseases and Cancer. Discoveries Journals, 4(1): e54.
2. Booth NE, et al. New insights into Lyme diseasee (ME/CFS). Int J Clin Exp Med 2012;5(3):208-220.
3. Sanchez-Dominquez B, et al. Oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction and, inflammation common events in skin of patients with Fibromyalgia. Mitochondrion. 2015 Mar;21:69-75.
4. Peacock BN, et al. . Redox Biol. 2015 Aug; 5: 66–70.
4A. Singer SJ, Nicolson GL. (1972). The Fluid-Mosaic Model of the structure of cell membranes. Science 195: 368-375.
5. Ellithorpe, R.R., Settineri, R. and Nicolson, G.L. (2003) Reduction of Fatigue by Use of a Dietary Supplement Containing Glycophospholipids. Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association, 6, 23-28.
6. Agadjanyan, M., Vasilevko, V., Ghochikyan, A., Berns, P., Kesslak, P., Settineri, R. and Nicolson, G.L. (2003) Nutritional Supplement (NT Factor) Restores Mitochondrial Function and Reduces Moderately Severe Fatigue in Aged Subjects. Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, 11, 23-36.
7. Nicolson, G.L. and Ellithorpe, R. (2006) Lipid Replacement and Antioxidant Nutritional Therapy for Restoring Mitochondrial Function and Reducing Fatigue in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Other Fatiguing Illnesses. Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, 13, 57-68.
8. Ellithorpe, R.A., Settineri, R., Jacques, B. and Nicolson, G.L. (2012) Lipid Replacement Therapy Functional Food with NT Factor for Reducing Weight, Girth, Body Mass, Appetite, Cravings for Foods and Fatigue While Improving Blood Lipid Profiles. Functional Foods in Health and Disease, 2, 11-24.
9. Nicolson, G.L., Ellithorpe, R.R., Ayson-Mitchell, C., Jacques, B. and Settineri, R. (2010) Lipid Replacement Therapy with a Glycophospholipid-Antioxidant-Vitamin Formulation Significantly Reduces Fatigue within One Week. Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association, 13, 11-15.
10. Nicolson, G.L. (2010) Lipid Replacement Therapy: A Nutraceutical Approach for Reducing Cancer-Associated Fatigue and the Adverse Effects of Cancer Therapy While Restoring Mitochondrial Function. Cancer Metastasis Reviews, 29, 543-552.
11. Nicolson, G.L., Settineri, R. and Ellithorpe, R.R. (2012) Lipid Replacement Therapy with a Glycophospholipid Formulation with NADH and CoQ10 Significantly Reduces Fatigue in Intractable Chronic Fatiguing Illnesses and Chronic Lyme Disease. International Journal of Clinical Medicine, 3, 163-170.
12. Nicolson, G.L., Settineri, R. and Ellithorpe, R.R. (2012) Glycophospholipid Formulation with NADH and CoQ10 Significantly Reduces Intractable Fatigue in Western Blot-Positive Chronic Lyme Disease Patients: Preliminary Report. Functional Foods in Health and Disease, 2, 35-47.
13. Nicolson GL and Ash ME. Membrane Lipid Replacement for chronic illnesses, aging and cancer using oral glycerolphospholipid formulations with fructooligosaccharides to restore phospholipid function in cellular membranes, organelles, cells and tissues. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. (2017) 1704–1724.