Cell Membrane Permeability

> Cell Membrane Permeability

What cell membrane permeability means, how it relates to metabolic rate (oxidation rate) and how to ensure optimal cell membrane permeability for nutrient absorption and toxin elimination is the focus of this article. The cell wall permeability indicators in my hair mineral analysis are also discussed.

The cell membrane, also called 'plasma membrane', 'cytoplasmic membrane' or the 'cell wall' is what surrounds each cell in our bodies. It is selectively permeable to ions and other molecules. It is made of phospholipid (fat) double-layers with embedded proteins (called Integral Membrane Proteins, IMPs). (1)

The fatty membrane, or wall of the cell acts as an electric insulator, because it prevents water-soluble atoms and molecules from entering the cell's interior. Lipids, i.e. fats, which the cell membrane is made out of, are nonpolar, which means that they don't have an electric charge. Water-soluble nutrients, on the other hand, are polar, i.e. they are ions which by definition have an electric charge and are magnetically attracted to the opposite charge. The cell membrane becomes a barrier to atoms carrying an electric charge (ions), because the cell membrane is made of fat and the ions happen to be water-soluble and, as we know, water and oil don't mix. These polar nutrients - atoms and molecules with a negative or positive electrical charge (thus 'ions') - are carried in water. (2)

The lipid cell membrane has proteins puncturing through it. These become pathways, which can selectively allow water-soluble nutrients to pass through. Bruce Lipton has a useful metaphor for the cell membrane proteins in his book, the Biology of Belief, where he describes the cell membrane as a butter-sandwich. The thick layer of butter between two slices of bread in this example has olives embedded within it. The olives have holes in the middle, some of which are blocked. So the olives with holes provide routes for the dyed water he uses in the example to pass through the layer of fat. These represent the protein pathways. The olives represent the proteins crossing the fat layer. The butter represents the lipid cell membrane layer. And the bread layer on the inside represents the cell's interior, whereas the bread layer on the outside represents the cell environment outside. Whether the 'olives' have 'holes' in them or not determines whether nutrients can pass through. (2)

The cell membrane is a very complex and sophisticated mechanism, which has been by Bruce Lipton been likened to a microchip of a computer. The bigger the surface area of the membrane, and the more proteins embedded within the membrane, the more 'intelligent' it is, Bruce Lipton explains in his ground-breaking book, the Biology of Belief (3).

Jump to chapter:

The Importance of Oxygen for Energy
What Makes the Cell Membrane More of Less Permeable
Decreased Cell Permeability Shown in Mineral Analysis
Bad Calcium May Reduce Cell Permeability and Slow Down Oxidation Rate
Correct Sodium is Needed to Get Calcium Out of Cells
How to Optimize Cell Membrane Permeability and Energy Production
Sources.

Cellular Respiration Creates Energy

Cellular respiration is another word for cell breathing. It is the set of (metabolic) reactions and processes that take place in the cells of organisms to convert biochemical energy from nutrients into ATP (energy) and to release waste products. These are called catabolic reactions, i.e. reactions that break larger molecules into smaller ones, releasing energy in the process. The most important nutrients used by animal and plant cells in respiration include sugar, amino acids and fatty acids - but oxygen is also important for the success of this process. (1)

cell membrane permeability sketch
When carbohydrates and amino acids are oxidised too slowly it is referred to as slow oxidation. Oxidation in this case is the process that releases energy from nutrients. Slow oxidation is equal to slow metabolism. If your metabolism is too slow, your cells find it hard to convert nutrients into energy. And what is crucial for oxidation to work well, is the presence of oxygen.

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Jump to chapter:

Cellular Respiration Creates Energy
What Makes the Cell Membrane More of Less Permeable
Decreased Cell Permeability Shown in Mineral Analysis
Bad Calcium May Reduce Cell Permeability and Slow Down Oxidation Rate
Correct Sodium is Needed to Get Calcium Out of Cells
How to Optimize Cell Membrane Permeability and Energy Production
Sources.

The Importance of Oxygen for Energy

It would seem that higher oxidation rates and better energy levels would require optimal delivery of oxygen into the cells(together with other nutrients that the cells require). Oxygen has often been mentioned as being key to good health and energy levels. For the oxygen delivery to function optimally, our blood should be able to carry oxygen well (e.g. there should be no 'rouletting' of red blood cells due to acidity problems), the lungs should be working effectively, and there should be plenty of oxygen available in the air to breath.

Many raw foodists explain that food can be a source of oxygen as well, and the nice smells you get when you cook food are actually an indication of the oxygen leaving the food! According to Dr. Brian Clement, raw foods have such a good effect on health partly because they are able to provide plenty of oxygen to the body.

Otto Warburg's Nobel Prize -winning research on cell respiration becomes relevant to our discussion here. The below quote is from Ed McCabe's book, where he summarizes Warburg's research, explaining why the cells need to be saturated with oxygen, otherwise cellular breathing stops, and, eventually, cancer is created:

"There is only one prime cause of cancer. The only thing all cancers have in common is that something took away the cell's ability to breathe, either mechanically, chemically or energetically. The prime cause of all cancers is impaired cellular respiration.

"Cells are constantly dividing. When any newly formed (embryonic) cell is denied 35 percent or more of the oxygen it needs, its tiny breathing mechanisms and respiratory enzymes are no longer saturated with oxygen. When the oxygen transferring enzymes in the cell are no longer saturated with oxygen, the cell is damaged severely - since cell respiration decreases irreversibly. Respiratory enzymes not saturated in oxygen end up as though you burned up your car engine by running it without oil. This can happen within two rounds of cell division under low oxygen conditions. As respiration falls, the cells struggle but can't keep up the high-energy production levels normally sustained by converting oxygen into ATP energy."

- Ed McCabe in "Flood Your Body with Oxygen", paraphrasing Otto Warburg

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Jump to chapter:

Cellular Respiration Creates Energy
The Importance of Oxygen for Energy
Decreased Cell Permeability Shown in Mineral Analysis
Bad Calcium May Reduce Cell Permeability and Slow Down Oxidation Rate
Correct Sodium is Needed to Get Calcium Out of Cells
How to Optimize Cell Membrane Permeability and Energy Production
Sources.

What Makes the Cell Membrane More or Less Permeable

Cell metabolism is the process the cell uses to obtain food and energy. Cell membrane permeability is thus directly linked to your energy levels, because that is how many of the nutrients get in.

The cell can receive nutrients directly through the fatty membrane if the nutrients are fat-soluble. In addition, particles that are small enough, such as water, gases and ethanol, can pass through holes in the lipid cell membrane (diffusion).

Larger particles which are not fat-soluble have to be helped by protein pathways to get into the cell, which were discussed above. These ion pumps and ion channels (proteins) push or allow ions to move across the cell membrane. (1) Whether the cell lets in water-soluble (polar) nutrients (ions) or not (and toxins out) is controlled by various different things, which are specific to each nutrient, for example:

  1. The concentration of water inside and outside of the cell.
  2. The size of the nutrient particle trying to enter the cell.
  3. The amount of sodium and potassium present which increase the cell's exchanges. (3)
  4. The amount of magnesium and calcium which decrease the cell's exchanges. (3)
  5. The presence of enough oxygen for cell metabolism to function properly. (7) An increased oxidation rate (metabolic rate) is equal to increased cell permeability. (3)
  6. Micronutrient deficiencies can hinder the function of the cell membrane.
  7. Electrical charge difference between the inside and the outside of the cell, which is also referred to as 'membrane potential'. (2)
  8. The pituitary hormone 'prolactin' appears to sensitize cells to electric current. This changes the way the membranes pass calcium (Ca2+). (5)
  9. Too much calcium stuck in the cell membranes may make them less permeable. Dr. Lawrence Wilson states that this may happen when calcium is biounavailable and not properly utilised. (3)
  10. Whether the body is well hydrated or not. Dehydration causes the cell to produce more cholesterol and to make the cell wall less permeable. This problem can be reversed by balancing the body pH (becoming alkaline), being well hydrated and eating live raw essential fatty acids (EFAs). (4)
  11. Too low levels of sodium due to adrenal and/or thyroid gland weakness, or generally lower energy production, reduce the solubility of magnesium and calcium in the blood, which affects the cell metabolism. (3)
  12. According to the cutting-edge research by Bruce Lipton, some of the proteins in the cell membrane act as receptor 'antennas', which can read vibrational energy fields such as light, sound and radio frequencies. If an energy vibration of the environment resonates with the receptor antenna, it will alter the protein's charge, causing the receptor proteins (pathways) to change shape and function differently. (2, 8)

For example, the cell has 'glucose transport proteins' that provide the mechanism for the cell to extract glucose from the blood and into the cell's interior.

The sodium-potassium (Na+/K+) pump is present in every cell and requires energy (ATP) to move nutrients but also creates energy and has been called 'the cell's self-charging battery'.

"... the protein 'switches' that control life are primarily turned on and off by signals from the environment... the Universe." - Bruce Lipton, the Biology of Belief (2)

In addition, larger particles can also be absorbed by the cell membrane 'opening up' and engulfing the molecule, in a process called phagocytosis. The cells may engulf bacteria, dead tissue cells, small mineral particles, etc., or extract debris, pathogens, etc. by opening the cell wall.

So as you can see, the cell's functioning is very complex. Whether the cell gets the correct nutrients and ions, including water and oxygen, whether the cell maintains the correct electrical balance, and whether hormones can get in or not, all have a major part to play in how energetic we feel and how well our bodies function.

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Jump to chapter:

Cellular Respiration Creates Energy
The Importance of Oxygen for Energy
What Makes the Cell Membrane More of Less Permeable
Bad Calcium May Reduce Cell Permeability and Slow Down Oxidation Rate
Correct Sodium is Needed to Get Calcium Out of Cells
How to Optimize Cell Membrane Permeability and Energy Production
Sources.

Decreased Cell Permeability Shown in Mineral Analysis

In my first hair mineral analysis report, significantly decreased cell permeability was shown, which apparently would impair the elimination of toxic substances from the cells as well as the entrance of hormones, glucose and other substances into the cells.

"Cell permeability refers to the ability of substances to move into or out of the cell by crossing the cell membrane. Some substances are able to cross the membrane very easily and the membrane is said to be very permeable to these substances. Additionally, other substances move across with increased difficulty and others are excluded completely. In the latter case the cell membrane is impermeable to these substances. The correct degree of cell permeability is very important to maintaining excellent health. Sodium and potassium tend to increase the cell's exchanges and the entrance of water-soluble toxins. Calcium and magnesium tend to reverse this situation."

- My Hair Mineral Analysis Report by ARL Labs (3)

The reduced cell membrane permeability was detected in the hair tissue mineral test by the elevated calcium level detected in the hair. This indicated that calcium was not being properly utilized as a nutrient by my body, but was being deposited in soft tissue, including hair. Although the calcium level was elevated, indicating that I was in fact calcium toxic, this also indicated a calcium deficiency at the same time! The calcium that was not being correctly utilized and transported to and absorbed by the cells, became toxic, as it was present in the wrong places at wrong times. This toxic calcium may then also be able to decrease cell permeability and make the utilization of other nutrients more difficult as well. (3)

"Slow oxidisers have calcium stuck in the cell membranes, which decreases the rate of influx of nutrients in and waste out of the cell. The calcium can also get deposited in the artery walls, joints, kidneys, thyroid and adrenals, which causes problems in these organs. The higher the calcium and magnesium [detected in hair], the more this process goes on and the slower the oxidation rate. The calcium and magnesium are more bio-unavailable to the body the higher these numbers are.

By speeding the oxidation rate and getting out of sympathetic dominance, you will improve cell permeability: do the diet, take the supplements, do the sauna/ coffee enema/ meditation/ foot rubs/ spinal twists. Get a lot of rest.

"So:
slow oxidation = low cell permeability
fast oxidation = high cell permeability."

- Will Houghton in an email

Dr Lawrence Wilson explains on his website that the way his Nutritional Balancing Science defines oxidation rate is different from other definitions. According to him, slow oxidation is defined as calcium-potassium ratio greater than 4 and sodium-magnesium ratio of less than 4.17, as shown in the hair mineral analysis.

calcium-potassium mineral ratio of hair mineral analysis indicates the oxidation rate, Ca-K
My Calcium-Potassium Ratio

sodium-magnesium mineral ratio of hair mineral analysis indicates the oxidation rate, Na-Mg
My Sodium-Magnesium Ratio

The above two extracts from my hair mineral analysis report show that I was in slow oxidation (significantly decreased cell permeability) when the first and second tests were taken. In the third test I was in too fast oxidation (too much cell permeability) and currently, in the fourth test, I am in Mixed Oxidation, which is still not ideal. These ratios are pushed up and down as my body gradually heals itself, according to the Nutritional Balancing Science of Dr. Lawrence Wilson.

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Jump to chapter:

Cellular Respiration Creates Energy
The Importance of Oxygen for Energy
What Makes the Cell Membrane More of Less Permeable
Decreased Cell Permeability Shown in Mineral Analysis
Correct Sodium is Needed to Get Calcium Out of Cells
How to Optimize Cell Membrane Permeability and Energy Production
Sources.

Bad Calcium May Reduce Cell Permeability and Slow Down Oxidation Rate

"Fast oxidisers tend to have more permeable cell membranes than slow oxidisers. This may be because [bad] calcium that builds up in the tissues of slow oxidisers tends to stabilize cell membrane potentials. This fact is very important for hormone imbalances, in particular, and perhaps for blood sugar and other types of metabolic problems as well."
- Dr. Lawrence Wilson (6)

Good Calcium Is Needed to Prevent Over-Excitability of the Nervous System

In the book: 'Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis', Dr. Lawrence Wilson provides further insight into calcium's role in cell permeability. He quotes the "Textbook on Endocrine Physiology" by Griffin and Ojeda (2004), explaining that the extracellular (outside the cell) calcium ion concentration must be kept within narrow limits because ionic calcium plays an important role in the permeability and excitability of plasma membranes. When the calcium ion concentration falls below normal, the nervous system becomes more excitable because of the increased permeability of the neural cell membrane to sodium (salt). Twitching, nervous system irritability, and seizures may result in extreme cases. On the contrary, increase in serum ionized calcium depresses central and peripheral neural excitability. One of the causes of increased binding and ionized calcium is acidosis, whereas ionized calcium decreases in alkalosis. In other words, bioavailable calcium deficiency can cause nervousness, ADHD etc., according to Dr. Lawrence Wilson. (9)

Read more here: Calcium Toxicity

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Jump to chapter:

Cellular Respiration Creates Energy
The Importance of Oxygen for Energy
What Makes the Cell Membrane More of Less Permeable
Decreased Cell Permeability Shown in Mineral Analysis
Bad Calcium May Reduce Cell Permeability and Slow Down Oxidation Rate
How to Optimize Cell Membrane Permeability and Energy Production
Sources.

Correct Sodium is Needed to Get Calcium Out of Cells

From a different perspective, Ray Peat's theory states that an effect of good sodium level is an increased production of carbon dioxide, which is needed in the cell to remove calcium and sodium from inside it. Too much calcium in the cell, according to Peat, prevents the relaxation of muscles and nerve cells and ultimately kills the cells. (Note, note outside the cell as discussed in the paragraph above.) Read more on the benefits of sodium (i.e. salt) here.

Keep in mind that cell membrane permeability is not only important for the nutrients to get into the cells but for them toxins and metabolic wastes to get back out as well. So it would seem that a correct balance of cell permeability is required for optimal health: too low permeability causes nutrients to be unable to get in and toxins to be unable to get out, whereas too high permeability allows toxins in too easily.

What Does This Mean for My Test Results

So, in short: In the first mineral analysis test my body was unable to utilize calcium from food and it got deposited in my body in a not-fully-digested form (bad calcium). This included calcium stuck in the cell membrane walls, which reduced the movement of nutrients into the cell and possibly the movement of toxins out of the cell. Bad calcium also got deposited in the hair and thus become available to read as high calcium levels in the hair mineral testing results. One of the solutions, as suggested by Dr. Lawrence Wilson, was bioavailable calcium supplementation, which was easier for the body to utilise in a proper way. I was also calcium deficient because the calcium I got was not utilized properly.

In the later tests my calcium levels decreased but were still too high. At the same time the mineral ratios showed first fast and then mixed oxidation. One of the things I suspect contributed to these readings was supplementing with pink Himalayan salt (sodium). The ratios are becoming closer to ideal but according to my current nutritionist, Christine Meehan, there is still quite a bit of nutritional balancing to do before my oxidation rate and cell permeability become optimized.

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Jump to chapter:

Cellular Respiration Creates Energy
The Importance of Oxygen for Energy
What Makes the Cell Membrane More of Less Permeable
Decreased Cell Permeability Shown in Mineral Analysis
Bad Calcium May Reduce Cell Permeability and Slow Down Oxidation Rate
Correct Sodium is Needed to Get Calcium Out of Cells
Sources.

How to Optimize Cell Membrane Permeability and Energy Production

The whole Nutritional Balancing Program is geared towards optimizing the metabolic rate, which in itself is an indicator of the correct functioning of the cells. The endocrine system is closely linked to the oxidation/ metabolic rate and heavy metal toxicities are one of the challenges hindering endocrine system function. So what Dr. Lawrence Wilson seems to be saying is that to optimize the cell membrane permeability, the health of the whole system needs to be addressed. This is done through hair mineral analysis; lifestyle changes; an easy-to-digest, nutritious diet; and through supplementation.

Dr. Lawrence Wilson also considers bioavailable calcium supplementation important in my case, to correct the calcium deficiency that is created by the body not utilizing calcium properly. The supplements help calcium properly perform its function in the cells.

cell membrane permeability, calcium image
Carob, mesquite, greens and raw dairy are some of the healthy, wholefood forms of bioavailable calcium. Contrary to popular belief, the calcium in pasteurized and homogenized dairy products is poorly absorbed by the body.

What worries me about the Nutritional Balancing Programme is that nothing is said of balancing the body pH to ensure enough alkalinity. I have seen through my own live blood analysis how the red blood cells get stuck together in an acidic environment. And according to the nutritionist, when the red blood cells are stuck together, they can't transport oxygen and other nutrients as well. So it seems that alkalinity is essential to ensure enough oxygen, and, as Otto Warburg and Ed McCabe say, oxygen is essential for energy production through the proper functioning of cells.

To reiterate Otto Warburg's point, the cell's ability to breathe can be hindered by chemical, energetic or mechanic means. So to ensure the best possible cell health seems to be a complicated matter. The topics discussed in this article that affect cell health and energy production have been: proper hydration, proper delivery of oxygen to the cells, the correct environmental signals to the cell proteins to function, the correct electrical charge inside and outside of the cells, the correct delivery of nutrients and ions in and out of the cell, efficient elimination of toxins from the cell, balanced hormone delivery to the cell, and so on.

But I believe that cellular health can simply be gauged by how you feel. If you feel well, up-beat and energetic without stimulants, that is a good sign that your cell respiration is working well. I have found that alkaline foods keep my energies and moods better, but also that the Nutritional Balancing Programme's supplements work. I am trying to do a combination of the two, as well as stay away from anything that very clearly is bad for me, such as processed foods and chemicals.

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Jump to chapter:

Cellular Respiration Creates Energy
The Importance of Oxygen for Energy
What Makes the Cell Membrane More of Less Permeable
Decreased Cell Permeability Shown in Mineral Analysis
Bad Calcium May Reduce Cell Permeability and Slow Down Oxidation Rate
Correct Sodium is Needed to Get Calcium Out of Cells
How to Optimize Cell Membrane Permeability and Energy Production.

Sources

(1) Wikipedia
(2) Bruce Lipton: The Biology of Belief (book)
(3) My hair mineral analysis report, by ARL labs
(4) Barbara Wren: Cellular Awakening (book)
(5) Robert O. Becker: The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life (book)
(6) www.drlwilson.com
(7) Ed McCabe: Flood Your Body with Oxygen (book)
(8) Bruce Lipton: "Insight into Cellular Consciousness" ( Brucelipton.com )
(9) Dr Lawrence Wilson: Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis: A New Science of Energy (book)

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To further complicate the function of the cell membrane, Barbara Wren puts forward a theory in her book which states that it is the bio-photons and electrons around the cell membrane that allow the cell to breathe. Read more here.

It is proposed here that salt (sodium) makes the body more conductive to electricity, allowing the cells to communicate better: Natural Salt Benefits.

Enzymes are proteins that work within the cell to perform various tasks, such as to break down nutrients and generate energy. Raw foodists have put high emphasis on the importance of gaining enzymes from raw foods, as they are destroyed by cooking.

How enzymes carry electricity to your electric body and as a result the human cell increases its electromagnetic frequency - a talk by Dr. Brian Clement.

David Wolfe claims in Longevity Now that silica, negatively charged hydrogen ion clusters, and silica hydrade combined are perhaps the strongest antioxidants known, and they increase hydration, allow the cells of the body to absorb more water, improve Zeta potential, i.e. the electronic charge of cells, and make bad calcium soluble.

If the diet has too little fat, fat-soluble vitamins such as A and E, won't be able to pass through the cell membrane and get into the cells, according to this article. This has an impact on hormone health.

"Consuming calories without the presence of antioxidant vitamins and phytochemicals leads to a build-up of waste products in our cells because the body can't remove normal cellular wastes without nutrients." - Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Calcium Toxicity and Deficiency
Hair Mineral Analysis
Live Blood Analysis
The Connection Between Negative Ions, Alkalinity, and Anti-Oxidants
Benefits of Live Spring Water
Individual Cell Metabolism Important for Disease Prevention


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