Catabolic wasting or cachexia is a clinical wasting syndrome that is characterized by unintended and progressive weight loss, weakness, and low body fat and muscle. At least 5% of body weight is lost. Cachexia is not caused by poor appetite and nutritional intake, but rather by a metabolic state in which a "breaking down" rather than a "building up" occurs in bodily tissues no matter how much nutritional intake occurs. Additionally, whether a patient receives nutrition orally or intravenously makes no difference. The patient simply cannot gain weight, so eating more is not an answer.
It is estimated that half of all cancer patients experience catabolic wasting, with a higher occurrence seen in cases of malignancies of the lung, pancreas, and gastrointestinal tract. The syndrome is equally common in AIDS patients and can also be present in bacterial and parasitic diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and chronic diseases of the bowel, liver, lungs, and heart. It is usually associated with anorexia and can manifest as a condition in aging or as a result of physical trauma. Catabolic wasting is a symptom that diminishes the quality of life, worsens the underlying condition, and is a major cause of death.
A person at risk for developing catabolic wasting syndrome or who is already suffering from cachexia (tissue wasting) should consider the following supplements:
- Glutamine, 2000 mg a day, available in capsule or powder form.
- Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) 1200 mg, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) 500 mg and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) 1300 mg daily.
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), (76%) 2000 mg 2 times a day.
- Biologically active whey protein concentrate, 30-60 grams a day.
- Arginine, 10-20 grams a day in divided doses.
- L-carnitine, 2400 mg a day in divided doses.
- Multinutrient formula daily in divided doses.
- Consider growth hormone, DHEA, and/or testosterone replacement therapy.
- Branched chain amino acids, 1200-2400 mg a day.
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