January 2017 Blog with Durk and Sandy

January 2017 Blog with Durk and Sandy


Valuing is man’s emotional reaction to the various states of his environment, both that of the external world and that of the physiological condition of his own body. Man distinguishes between more and less desirable states, as the optimists may express it, or between greater and lesser evils, as the pessimists are prepared to say. He acts when he believes that action can result in substituting a more desirable state for a less desirable.

—Ludwig von Mises, 
The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science 
(Foundation for Economic Education, 2002, pg. 38)

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said he has “no concerns about Deutsche Bank, which means they are in deep trouble.

Under a negative [interest] rate scenario, the only participant receiving more cash over time is the government. The private sector slowly collapses as we are seeing in Japan and Europe in real time.

—Michael Green, Ice Farm Capital (D&S: And, indeed, as we are seeing in the United States ...)


The Centers for Disease and Control reports, for the period of 1999 to 2014, suicides in the U.S. have increased almost steadily, especially among teenagers and young adults. The incidence of suicide can be decreased, however, by 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), as shown in studies. For more, read on ...


“After a period of nearly consistent decline in suicide rates in the United States from 1986 through 1999, suicide rates have increased almost steadily from 1999 through 2014 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), NCHS Data Brief No. 241, April 2016).” The CDC report noted that suicide rates for adolescents and young adults were increasing during the period of 1999 to 2014 and suicide was among the leading causes of death in that age group.

The suicide rate for the U.S. military population has increased over the last decade, according to studies. This increase in suicides has been found to correlate with deployment in military action, indicating that increased stress plays a significant role. (Du, 2016)


  • Du et al. The role of nutrients in protecting mitochondrial function and neurotransmitter signaling: implications for the treatment of depression, PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder), and suicidal behaviors, Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr,56(15):2560-78 (2016).


A deficiency of serotonin is associated with impulsive violent behavior, including suicide. TPH, tryptophan hydroxylase, is the rate limiting enzyme in the conversion of tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan, the direct precursor to serotonin. “The TPH1 gene has been found to be related to ... behaviors including suicide ...” (Reuter, 2005)

In a somewhat later paper (Jacobsen, 2008), the TPH2 (tryptophan hydroxylase 2) gene was reported to be the rate-limiting step in the conversion of tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan and to lead to slow serotonin (5-HT) synthesis. This slow synthesis is associated with SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) treatment refractoriness, as is seen in some depressed patients taking an SSRI, such as fluoxetine (Prozac® ) (Jacobsen, 2008).

A deficiency of tryptophan would result in a deficiency of 5-hydroxytryptophan and, therefore, a deficiency of serotonin. However, even a diet containing adequate tryptophan could result in a deficiency of serotonin if there is an inadequate amount of the rate limiting enzyme, tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH), which is necessary to convert the tryptophan to 5-hydroxytryptophan which is then decarboxylated to convert it to serotonin. Thus, a deficiency of serotonin can occur even when individuals take a tryptophan supplement, a problem that might be overcome by taking supplemental 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) rather than tryptophan.

5-HTP is found in our Serene Tranquility™ with 5-HTP formulation.


  • Reuter et al. Identification of first candidate genes for creativity: a pilot study. Brain Res. 1069:190-7 (2006).
  • Jacobsen et al. suspension test can be reversed by co-treatment with 5-hydroxytryptophan. Psychopharmacology. 199:137-50 (2008).


Serotonin and Callous Boys

Unsurprisingly, psychopathic men start out as psychopathic boys. A recent paper (Moul, 2013) studied levels of serotonin in serum or saliva looking for either the amount of serotonin or the single nucleotide polymorphisms (variants) of the enzymes that convert the nutrient tryptophan to serotonin. The purpose of the study was to see how serotonin was involved in the behavior of “antisocial” boys who had high levels of callousness (lack of emotions).

The researchers were specifically interested in “Oppositional Defiant Disorder” (ODD) and “Conduct Disorder” (CD), two of the myriad categories of emotional/social dysfunction in the professional DSM. Both of these disorders were said to include behaviors such as arguing with adults (tsk tsk), spitefulness, aggression toward others, breaking rules, and having no respect for the property of others. Psychopaths who don’t have a criminal record (called “successful psychopaths” in a book about psychopaths (Haycock, 2014, pg. 167)) are said to “share a key feature with their criminal cousins; they are never concerned about your best interests.”


  • Haycock DA. MURDEROUS MINDS (Pegasus Books, 2014).

A subgroup of ODD and CD is a callous-unemotional (CU) group (Moul, 2013). People with high levels of CU are regarded as psychopaths, with “specific patterns of neural dysfunction, specifically with regards to the amygdala.” The amygdala is importantly involved in fear and aggression. Indeed, the CU traits include a “poor conditioned fear response” and “reduced ability to recognise fear.”

A model of amygdala function, the DAAM (Differential Amygdala Activation Model) has been developed to attempt to portray mechanisms for the “subtle and emotional deficits” exhibited by those (mostly males) with CU. The DAAM model posits that reduced serotonin neurotransmission may be “integral” to the pattern of amygdala activation seen in CU. In support of this, a paper was described (Moul, 2013) which found that “... acute administration of a serotonin selective reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and ingestion of tryptophan (the natural precursor of serotonin) improved recognition of both fear and happiness.” Moreover, “[g]enes encoding the serotonin 2a receptor (HTR2A) and tryptophan hydroxylase 1 (TPH1) have been associated with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) in adult males. Curiously, another paper described in Moul, 2013 showed that “aggressive children with low-prolactin responses to fenfluramine challenge” had a strong family history of aggressive and antisocial traits. Here is another example of the overlap you see so frequently in brain systems: prolactin is intimately involved in sexual intercourse, with a large pulse of prolactin following immediately after ORGASM.

As the authors (Moul, 2013) caution: their sample included only boys and, thus, no conclusions (on the basis of this study) can be made concerning the relationship of serotonin and CU in girls.


  • Moul et al. An exploration of the serotonin system in antisocial boys with high levels of callous-unemotional traits.
  • PLoS ONE.
  • 8(2):e56619 (2013).


(with apologies to Arthur Conan Doyle)

A very recent study shows that sometimes what appears to have been shown in a scientific paper may, buried deeply within the text, reveal that it wasn’t shown at all. This is becoming more common these days and makes it imperative that one reads carefully before concluding that the abstract says it all. It also shows that a peer-reviewed paper may not necessarily have been read very carefully.

Take the case of the Study That Didn’t Bark.

Here we have a study of the effect of testosterone in men’s preferences for female facial femininity and whether that preference declines with age. Nothing odd about that subject matter.

In the abstract, the authors propose that changes in preferences for female facial femininity “could reflect age-related declines in testosterone levels.” Very reasonable.

In the conclusion of this paper, the authors claim that “our results suggest that men’s preferences for facial femininity are age dependent and coincide with age-related differences in testosterone.” OK.

Not OK. In the DISCUSSION of the results of the study, the authors admit that “[a]n important limitation of our study was the lack of direct measures of testosterone from our participants.” (!!) This is the Dog That Didn’t Bark. How can they claim that men’s preferences for facial femininity “coincide with age-related differences in testosterone” when they didn’t MEASURE the testosterone???

It is sad that a peer-reviewed publication such as the Gerontological Society’s Journal of Social Sciences (Marcinkowska 2017) can have missed such vital data. One possibility is that, since peer reviewers are not paid to review papers, they may be less careful than they might otherwise be, particularly since they have work they ARE paid for that may take up most of their time.


  • Marcinkowska et al. Men’s preferences for female facial femininity decline with age. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 72(1):180-6 (2017).



by Sandy Shaw

Adaptation is a requirement for RESILIENCE, a necessity for preventing aging. “Aging is generally associated with decreases in resilience, the capacity to respond to or recover from clinically relevant stresses such as surgery, infections, or vascular events. We hypothesize that the age-related increase in susceptibility to those diseases and conditions is driven by or associated with the decrease in resilience (Kirkland, 2016).”

Another paper (Downey, 2016) and a commentary on it (Scheffer, 2016) now talks about how loss of resilience can result in the collapse of societies. The paper describes how, in the European Neolithic (8–4 kya), societies experienced rapid growth due to the introduction of agriculture, but this was followed by instability and collapse. The paper discusses the EWS (Early Warning Signals) that foretold the oncoming collapse. A major point here was “decreasing resilience.” The authors described resilience as “the ability of a system to absorb change and recover from disturbance while maintaining relationships between population or state variables.” They were writing specifically about the collapse of a society, but the principles apply just as well to the physiological state of a human body.

There were two classes of Early Warning Signals (EWS): critical slowing down and flickering. They describe flickering as “a general increase in the time it takes a system to recover from external shocks” such as diseases, war, famine, etc. “Flickering describes increasing directional bias in a system’s response rate to such perturbations ... a lack of innovation prevents adaptation ... increasing recovery time ... before major collapse.” This critical slowing down has been demonstrated in papers on the extinction of organisms where experiments were performed to remove their supplies of critical nutrients little by little.

They also describe the appearance of “autocorrelation” and variance leading up to the collapse. (Autocorrelation suggests to me a “freezing” of technology, as part of the loss of adaptation.)

In the commentary on the paper, the author says, “Perhaps the single most-intriguing aspect across stories of collapse is the speed with which massive change can be precipitated. This rapidity is also the aspect that makes such events so relevant from a modern perspective. How is it that a once-thriving society can so suddenly fall apart?” “It has become clear over the past years that loss of resilience may be inferred from subtle changes in dynamics in a wide range of complex systems as they approach a tipping point.”


  • Kirkland et al. Resilience in aging mice. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 71(11):1407-14 (2016)
  • Downey et al. European Neolithic societies showed early warning signals of population collapse. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 113(35):9751-6 (2016).
  • Scheffer. Anticipating societal collapse; Hints from the Stone Age. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 113(39):10733-5 (2016).

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