In 2004, Dr. Paul Ladenson, Director of the Division of Endocrinology at Johns Hopkins, conducted a study among a group of flight attendants and found reduction of thyroiditis/Hashimoto's Disease related to inhalation of second hand cigarette smoke. That discovery started the ball rolling toward the development of a anti-inflammatory supplement called Anatabloc, the key ingredient of which is the anatabine compound, one of the 4,000 chemical components of tobacco. Anatabine is a naturally-occuring alkaloid also found in eggplants, peppers, green tomatoes, potatoes, and a variety of other plants in the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, including Nicotiana, the Latin term for tobacco.
Armed with this information, entrepreneur Jonnie Williams was motivated to formulate Anatabloc, a dietary supplement that works by inhibiting pro-inflammatory pathways to help the body maintain lower levels of inflammation. Anatabloc combines one milligram of anatabine with 500 units of Vitamin A and 40 units of Vitamin D3; pre-clinical studies have shown that this combination may inhibit pro-inflammatory pathways to help maintain lower levels of inflammation and promote a healthy anti-inflammatory response.
Studies have shown that autoimmune thyroid disease can appear - or even worsen - in the period after someone quits smoking (remember, though, the benefits of quitting smoking always outweigh any side effects of quitting, especially for patients with Graves' disease and thyroid eye disease). Theoretically, it could be the absence of the anatabine in the cigarettes that may be the key factor in this mystery.
Comment: Despite the fact that this article is stating the obvious, it seems it has conflicted with the author's preconceived notions of "smoking is bad for you". The truth of the matter is that nicotine from the tobacco plant is extremely beneficial for the brain and the respiratory system. The Native American population has used tobacco for 2000 years. Tribal shamans used this medicinal herb to treat respiratory disorders. In the late 1800's, physicians used tobacco products to treat asthma.
Those who quit smoking have a 6-fold increase risk for autoimmune thyroid problems. For more information see Nicotine, the insular cortex and empathy.
The Roskamp Institute conducted research using anatabine in the areas of Alzheimer's disease, gastroenterology, rheumatology, cancer, and autoimmune diseases such as lupus and cardio-atherogenesis. Meanwhile, Johns Hopkins is already researching anatabine's potential in the treatment of thyroid disease.
Specifically, the ASAP (Anatabloc Supplementation Autoimmune Prevention) Human Thyroid Study - conducted at nine centers around the country - is analyzing the impact of anatabine dietary supplementation on thyroid health. The study is a three-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of the impact of anatabine in people with autoimmune thyroid disease of the thyroid. Initial results for all study subjects are suggesting that dietary supplementation with anatabine reduces the immune system's targeting of the thyroid gland in autoimmune thyroiditis.
The study subjects all had active autoimmune thyroid inflammation, based on sonograms, antibody levels, and measurement of cytokine levels. The study subjects then received Anatabloc treatment for three months, and evaluation showed statistically significant differences in the treated group as compared to the placebo group, including declines in anti-thyroglobulin antibody levels.
Dr. Paul Ladenson, who is serving as senior endocrinological consultant for the study, stated, "Data from this rigorously conducted, placebo-controlled, double blind trial show that anatabine-treated subjects had progressive decreases in circulating thyroglobulin antibody levels, which became significant by the end of the trial. Current treatment for autoimmune thyroiditis is limited to end-stage disease when irreversible gland damage necessitates lifelong thyroid hormone replacement. The prospect of a novel nutritional or pharmaceutical intervention that could preserve thyroid health represents an encouraging advance. Further clinical studies are now warranted."
Clearly, more research is needed into Anatabloc, inflammation, and autoimmunity - and specifically the impact on thyroid disease - but these early results are promising.
How does it work? According to the Anatabloc site, the anatabine in Anatabloc® enters a cell, deactivates a protein within the cell, prevents the protein from activating elements in the cell that are markers of inflammation, prevents the protein from entering the nucleus, and thereby maintains healthy levels of inflammation. According to the manufacturers, pre-clinical tests have also shown that the supplement helps maintain healthy levels of c-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation.
More information is available at the Anatabloc website
Have you tried Anatabloc, or know someone who has? Please share feedback in the comments!
Caturegli P, et. al. "Anatabine ameliorates experimental autoimmune thyroiditis." Endocrinology. 2012 Sep;153(9):4580-7. Abstract at PubMed
Star Scientific, Inc./Rock Creek Pharmaceuticals Report Positive Initial Results of ASAP Human Thyroid Health Study Showing Benefits in Immune System Support