Pellagra is a horrible skin disease that was frequently misdiagnosed as leprosy. It is often called the disease of the four D’s – dermatitis, dementia, diarrhea, and death. (No one’s favorite dinner topics.) Although present periodically throughout history, pellagra came home in the early nineteenth century when over 30,000 cases were reported in South Carolina. Almost half of those that contracted the disease perished. The government, thinking they had a bacterial epidemic on their hands, turned to the foremost epidemiologist of the time, Dr. Joseph Goldberger.
Goldberger was convinced that pellagra was not of bacterial or viral origin. His first clue was that the nurses and guards at the hospitals and prison where pellagra proliferated showed no signs of the disease. To him, and other learned scientists of the day, that removed germ theory from the equation. In a series of controversial, and by today’s standards, unethical, experiments on state prisoners and orphans, Goldberger determined that pellagra was due to the inadequate diet of the sufferers.
Goldberger was a zealous man. As a youth, his parents were sheepherders. Their herd was decimated by an unknown disease. This tragic happenstance sent the Goldberger clan of six children and mother and father to America in 1883. Upon arrival to America, the Goldberger’s opened a small grocery store on New York City’s Lower East Side (and produced three additional children). It may have been in this Darwinian melting pot of survival that Goldberger learned to go beyond convention.
In his attempt to find the cause of pellagra, which we now know to be a deficiency of the B vitamin, niacin, Goldberger and his cohorts swallowed the skin of pellagra patients. They also held what was termed “filth parties” where they injected each other with the blood of pellagra sufferers. (None of them contracted the disease.)
Goldberger was a risk-taking humanitarian and among the first scientist to show a link between poverty and disease. He had previously contracted yellow fever, typhus and dengue fever while fighting these ailments in Puerto Rico, Texas and Mexico respectively. To cure pellagra, he had to find what caused it first. Convinced that it was not transmissible (nurses, prison guards not infected, eating patients’ skin and “filth parties”), Goldberger sought a nutritional source. Years after his death from cancer, pellagra was determined by the scientists of the day to be a deficiency of niacin.
Today, pellagra is not widespread in America. But what we see is a niacin deficiency on a less noticable scale. People complain of fatigue, irritability, lack of sex drive and other energy related maladies. Niacin helps the body make energy in its’ role as NAD in the Krebs Cycle. Symptoms may also include cold sores, depression and indigestion. Not only is niacin integral to mitochondrial health, but may also increase athletic performance.
In studies performed by Dr. Keith Stokes of the University of Bath, Sport and Exercise Science Department, found that high doses of niacin appear to stimulate growth hormone. In addition, Stokes claims that niacin has been found to “turbocharge” the effect by doubling the amount of growth hormone released by the body. His studies show that Growth Hormone rises 300% from exercise. With the addition of niacin, Growth Hormone secretion doubled to 600%, and in some subjects, 1500% (which occurs five hours later, aiding in growth). The swing from niacin deficiency, seen in pellagra, to the effects of added niacin, which have been found to increase athletic performance, is the cornerstone of our philosophy. For optimal cellular fitness, replenish your body with Carr Cellular Fitness’ Opticell. Physician Certified for efficacy and purity.
Bollet, A. (1992) Politics and pellagra: the Epidemic of Pellagra in the U.S. in the early Twentieth Century.Yale J Biol. Med. 65 (3): 211-21.
Elmor, Joann G. (1994). Joseph Goldberger: An unsung hero of American clinical epidemiology (Volume 121 issue 5 ed.). New Haven, CT 06520-8025.: Annals of Internal Medicine. pp. 372–375.
Kraut, A. Goldberger and the Pellagra Germ.NIH History, National Institutes of Health Medical Arts and Printing Department. April 2017.
Ishii, N. Nishihara, Y. (1981) Pellagra Among Chronic Alcoholics: Clinical and Pathological Study of 20 Necropsy Cases.Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. 44 (3): 209-215.
Bruckert, E., Labreuche, J., Amarenco, P. (2010) Meta-analysis of the Effect of Nicotinic acid alone or in combination on Cardiovascular Events and Atherosclerosis.Atherosclerosis. 210 (2): 353-361.
Stokes, K., Tyler, C., and Gilbert, K. (2008) The Growth Hormone Response to Repeated Bouts of Sprint Exercise with and without Suppression of Lipolysis in Men.Journal of Applied Physiology, 104 (3), 724-728.