Anti-Inflammatory Strategies–Achieving Homeostasis
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HIV, or the human immunodeficiency virus is a virus that left untreated may lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome or AIDS. Unlike some other viruses, even with treatment some people infected with HIV may never eliminate the virus.

In an animal model of HIV, within 24 hours of infection, the virus hitches a ride on immune cells and travels throughout the body. HIV has a special propensity for immune cells, especially T cells. T cells help the body fight infections by activating the production of antibodies (large molecules that neutralize pathogens) and triggers inflammation to kill pathogens or destroy cells containing microbes. Left untreated, HIV infection reduces the numbers of defensive immune cells in the body, leaving HIV infected people (HIV positive) highly vulnerable to infection with other foreign agents (opportunistic infections) and cancers.

DC (dendritic cell)- A type of immune cell that plays a primary role in infections with HIV.
They are important regulators of immune system responses to infection.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4033703/

 

From 80-90% of immune cells are found in the walls of the intestines and in the tissues surrounding the intestines. HIV tends to accumulate in these tissues and attack them. These inflammatory responses may weaken the gut barrier resulting in inflammatory digestive issues for HIV positive individuals.

“Inflammation and immune activation accelerate heart disease and stroke, and chronic HIV infection results in both,” says Robert T. Schooley, AIDS researcher and Professor of Medicine in the Infectious Diseases division at the University of California at San Francisco. In addition, this population is at increased risk for certain cancers, gastrointestinal, liver and kidney problems.

There are no cures for HIV, but with proper medical care, the numbers of virus infecting a person and their symptoms may be controlled. Proper medical treatment dramatically improves and prolongs lives. Anti-retroviral therapy (ART or ARV) is used to treat HIV infections.

When the “cocktail” of medications is taken as prescribed, viral loads (the number of viruses in the body) are decreased. These medications can reduce the numbers of HIV down to very low levels (called “undetectable”). However, in some individuals HIV can continue to infect immune cells. [Note: The CDC states that individuals with undetectable virus loads have no risk of sexually transmitting the virus.]

The body must be in immune balance, in immune homeostasis to protect the body from infection or fight infections. The immune system must produce the right ratio of inflammatory cytokines (pro-inflammatory) to anti-inflammatory cytokines. It needs enough inflammation to destroy the pathogen, or in this case HIV, but not so much that healthy tissues are damaged.

A recent study of people that have been treated over many years for HIV reports that HIV positive individuals are at a higher risk of getting diseases common to older individuals. Individuals that were infected in the early years with HIV are now in their 50s and 60s and develop inflammatory-related conditions at a significantly higher rate and lower age than uninfected people of the same age.

Summary:

The key to staying healthy is to remain in immune homeostasis, immune balance—this is true especially for people with chronic infections such as HIV.

 

Please contact Dr. Hellen if you wish to enhance your quality of life-don’t you deserve to do that?  The first 30 minutes of discussion are gratis. Dr. Hellen may be  contacted by using this form or calling:  302.265.3870 (ET-USA).
www.aidsinfonet.org/fact_sheets/view/484
www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/art/index.html
www.catie.ca/en/treatmentupdate/treatmentupdate-223/inflammation-and-hiv/exploring-hiv-and-inflammation
www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/09/14/418012
www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0092867400806947

 

Repeatedly I am asked whether there is an association between inflammation and an enlarged prostrate.

Fifty percent of men by age 50, and 80% of men by age 80 have inflamed, enlarged prostrates, a condition medically known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). (The prostate is an organ that wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine to the outside. The primary function of the prostate is to produce sperm. Hyperplasia refers to the fact that the number of cells in the prostate increase, resulting in abnormal growth.)

As many men age, inflammation of the prostrate increases its size, enlarging it and putting pressure on the urethra.   (Although the prostate is enlarged, it is not a cancerous or fatal condition.) Why this occurs is still under investigation, but it appears to be a result of a combination of genetics, hormones and immune reactions.

Men with prostate hyperplasia have lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) such as an urgent and frequent need to urinate (especially during the night), waiting longer than usual for the stream of urine to begin, straining to urinate, having a weak stream or dribble of urine, not being able to completely empty one’s bladder, or needing to urinate immediately and having an “accident”.

Obesity leads to greater over-all inflammation and puts overweight people at higher risk of having prostrate and urinary tract disorders. Obese men are 3.5 times more likely to have enlarged prostrates compared with men of healthier weights.

The more weight a man carries, the more inflamed he is, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well. The relationship of an enlarged prostrate to diabetes remains controversial. Diabetes has been associated with bladder problems and the ability to control urination.

Additionally, the higher the level of sugar in the blood, the more likelihood of urinary problems and enlarged prostrates, especially in men that do not take medications for their diabetes. However, since both diabetes and benign prostate hyperplasia are inflammatory in nature and are clinically similar it is not clear whether the two diseases are associated.

Inflammation is tightly controlled to keep it balanced, in homeostasis.  We need enough inflammation for healing and for defending us from infections, but not so much inflammation that organs and tissues are damaged.

Being active, controlling one’s weight, going outdoors for a few minutes a day and using a proven immune balancing supplement will greatly affect the ability of the body to modulate inflammation.

For years I have helped people promote  their overall quality of life.  Feel free to contact me DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info, use the form, or give me a call at 302.265.3870 (ET) and let us talk. Let me help you help yourself, you deserve it.
www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/prostate-problems/prostate-enlargement-benign-prostatic-hyperplasia
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3735085/
www.andrologyaustralia.org/your-health/lower-urinary-tract-symptoms-luts-in-men/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3221555/
www.hindawi.com/journals/au/2009/818965/

 

 

 

What is the Role of Inflammation?
When the body is injured or recognizes the presence of pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, molds, parasites or cancerous cells, its immune system is triggered to respond with inflammation to “burn” the threat out of the body.

Balance is Essential
Once the challenge has been met, a person in immune balance, homeostasis, will reduce the amount of inflammation that they are producing to “normal” levels. Uncontrolled, run-away  inflammation leads to autoimmune diseases (against oneself) in which its own tissues and organs are attacked.

Lupus
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), lupus, is a complicated autoimmune condition affecting virtually every organ in the human body. Because of the wide-range of symptoms experienced, the disease is often difficult to diagnose. Common symptoms are extreme fatigue, swollen and/or painful joints, muscle pain, low-grade fever, thinning or loss of hair, butter-fly shaped rash across the nose and cheeks, chest pain when taking a deep breath, kidney and heart problems.

Butterfly rash

“Butterfly Rash” often associated with SLE
(
emedicine.medscape.com)

 

Females make up 80-90% of people with lupus and despite treatment, many individuals will experience flares and remissions (symptoms come and go) their entire lives.

Lupus and Inflammation
The hallmark of lupus is over-activity of the immune system and inflammation. Imbalances of inflammatory immune factors, cytokines, are significantly higher in lupus patients compared to people without lupus. These immune molecules promote inflammation and damage tissues.  High levels of these inflammatory factors are associated with the severity of disease but decrease as individuals are successfully treated.

Anti-malaria medications originally used to prevent or treat malaria has been used to treat lupus.It was not understood why these medicines were somewhat effective against SLE, but a recent study suggests that these medications inhibit inflammation.

Physical Activity
Every time a muscle contracts, it releases anti-inflammatory molecules that helps the body balance the amount of overall inflammation produced.

As would be predicted, weekly physical activity improves fatigue, depression and increases the quality of life of most individuals. Even moderate exercise, 3 days a week for 20 minutes, has been shown to make a major difference in the amount of energy and feelings of well-being experienced by lupus patients.

If  You Have Lupus
Frequent physical activity, eating in a healthful manner and daily consumption of an excellent immune balancing supplement helps the body control inflammation and achieve immune homeostasis (immune balance).

Dr.Hellen is passionate about helping people enjoy life at its fullest. She may be contacted by using this form, contacting her at: drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info or feel free to call her at:  302.265.3870 (ET, USA).
www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/lupus/lupus_ff.asp
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An article in a recent trade publication opened with the following: “Charles couldn’t believe the intensity of the pain – and he had been shot during a tour in Iraq with the Marines. “I was lying in my sleeper and my big toe just went on fire. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. I thought I was going to pass out from the pain,” Charles explained. “My big toe was red, swollen and when I touched it, even a little, it hurt like hell”. Charles’ problem is that he suffers from gout.

 Gout is a type of arthritis that seems to run in families and results from the presence of crystals that form in the body. For example, during digestion and metabolism, the body produces uric acid which is eliminated via urine. Any uric acid that the body cannot excrete accumulates in the blood. For reasons not understood, about 30% of people with high levels of uric acid in their blood form needle-like, sharp urate crystals that end up in their joints and/or other parts of the body.

 Herbert Baraf, MD, Chevy Chase, MD, has a great analogy: “Imagine pouring packets of sugar into a glass of tea; can only hold so much in solution. And sooner or later, the sugar is going to start accumulating on the bottom of the glass.

 People with gout may go weeks or months without an attack, but when it flares up it can be excruciating and last for days. Over time, repeated attacks can eat into bone and cartilage, causing permanent damage to affected joints.

Inflammation

The presence of crystals triggers an intense inflammatory response and painful swelling the result of the body’s attempt to break down the crystals. Typically the crystals end up in joint cartilage, and for unknown reasons, especially the big toe.

gouty toe

In others, crystals settle in kidneys or the urinary tract, impairing their function or forming stones. White blood cells migrate into the joint spaces and fluids and the lubricating membranes that line the joints, the synovial membranes trying to eliminate the crystals. The immune cells attracted to the area release biological factors, cytokines and chemokines, into the surrounding area. This attracts more inflammatory cells with a result of redness, swelling and debilitating pain.

Certain immune factors are typically only in small amount in normal uninflamed joint fluids, but in individuals undergoing a gout attack (flare) the levels of the factors are significantly increased.

 Since inflammation is associated with many diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular health, it is not surprising to find that patients with gout are at higher risk of these diseases when compared to the general population.

 Summary:

Gout is caused by an overactive immune system using inflammation unsuccessfully to get rid of the crystals that are causing the discomfort.

Returning the immune system to balance, immune homeostasis, can result in a higher level of quality of life (QOL) for people with gout.

For years I have helped people promote  joint, digestive, energy and overall health.   Feel free to contact me DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info, use the form, or give me a call at 302.265.3870 (ET) and let us talk. Let me help you help yourself, it is  time!

www.nature.com/icb/journal/v88/n1/full/icb200999a.html
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www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2015/680853/

 

Given all the current social, political and economic uncertainties, the holidays this year may be even more anxiety-producing and stressful than in the past. Past surveys have shown that 30-50% of people (and because of all of their responsibilities, especially women) experience heightened stresses during the holidays.

STRESS AND INFLAMMATION

Stress alters immune responses affecting our ability to fight infection and heal after injury. Inflammation is a necessary part of the immune response and is stimulated when the body is injured or exposed to pathogens or mutated cancer cells.

Short term stress stimulates the immune system by preparing it for a “flight vs. fight” response, but over a longer period of time stress results in negative imbalances of the immune system and increased inflammation. This becomes even a larger problem for people who are already in poor health or struggling with disease.

Poorly regulated  inflammation results in chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, coronary heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia and even cancers, so it is important that the body carefully regulate the amount of inflammation produced.

Inflammation is a two-way street. Stress causes inflammation and inflammation causes stress.  And when the holidays or daily activities increase stress, the amount of inflammation produced by the body increases as well.

stress-and-inflammation

There are biological markers in the blood that track differences in immune responses.   The longer and greater the stress, the more likely the body is to switch from a healthy, controlled inflammatory response to one that affects its ability to fight disease and healing processes.

CONTROLLING INFLAMMATION AND STRESS 

The net effect of an inflammatory response is determined by the body balancing its inflammatory and its resulting anti-inflammatory responses.

Especially during the holidays, the four best ways to help the body balance are:

Be physically active for at least of 2.5 hours total per week.

  1. Incorporate a daily immune balancing supplement into your diet.
  2. Eat a smart, healthful diet.
  3. Keep your weight under control.

Remember:  The better you take care of your immune system, the better it will take care of you.

Graphic adapted from: Johanna Bendell, MD, with thanks.
www.psychcentral.com/holidays/
www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544
www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/women-stress.aspx
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Last week I talked with a young local Asian-American business owner who shared with me that he was “a little fatigued and stressed out”. I suggested that if he took steps to getting his immune system in balance, that since our physical and emotional well-being is dependent on homeostasis, he would feel much better.

He basically replied that, “he spends half the year in Florida, has a lot of friends that are “into” nutrition, he exercises and that he didn’t need any more information, thank you”.

Nothing like a person with an open mind, but unfortunately too many people think in this narrow way.  We all know individuals that eat nutritiously, exercise 5-7 days a week and watch their weight but they still do feel “off”.  Their fingers, elbows or knees hurt, they can’t eat everything they would like, or they have other health issues despite their “great” life style.

Nutritional Recommendations:

The evidence is strong that due to the hundreds of phytonutrients, plant nutrients, in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains and olive oil, that plant-based foods are important for our health. A broad variety of these phytonutrients are suggested since they appear to affect a wide-spectrum of biological functions. The consumption of plant-based foods influences the health of cells, blood pressure, risk of certain cancers, immune, dental, urinary, liver and gut health.

An additional dietary recommendation is to consume fish or fish oil 2-3 times a week for their omega-3 fatty acids. This “good” fat has multiple uses in our body, but the body cannot produced these fats by itself; we need an outside source.

Studies involving hundreds of thousands of people suggest that omega-3s reduce the risk of fatal heart disease, improve the flexibility of blood vessels, lower blood pressure and reduce immune inflammation. [Note: It is controversial whether omega-3 supplements are as beneficial as eating fish; in fact, they may cause certain health issues.]

Role of the Immune System

When the body is threatened by pathogens or cancer cells, or has been injured, the body responds with short-term inflammatory responses, acute inflammation.

Immune cells flood the area to destroy invading foreign organisms or cancer cells, or to start the healing process after trauma. If the body cannot get rid itself of the infection, or if it over-responds with excessive levels of inflammation, the immune response may become chronic, or long-term.

Chronic inflammation is abnormal and damages previously healthy tissues and organs. This sort of unlimited inflammation results in autoimmune diseases, diseases in which the body’s immune system turns on the body.  Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, hepatitis and asthma can result from such run-away inflammatory responses.

Knowledgeable individuals know that nutrition plays only an initial role in staying healthy. Good nutrition is the foundation upon which to build health, but it is NOT ENOUGH; it is the immune system that governs one’s health and must be optimized.

The Importance of a Balanced Immune System

Immune balance, immune homeostasis, is tightly regulated by the body. It allows the organism to respond to infection, cancer cells and injury with the right amount of inflammation.  Any imbalances, either too much stimulation, or too little, results in immune disorders and health issues.

The key to good health and healthy aging is keeping the immune system in balance.

    Scales Immune Reponses Partial

Dr.Hellen’s major passion is helping people to enjoy life at its fullest. She may be contacted by using this form, at: drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info or feel free to call:  302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

  

nutrition.ucdavis.edu/content/infosheets/fact-pro-phytochemical.pdf
www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/fish
www.harvardprostateknowledge.org/high-intake-of-omega-3-fats-linked-to-increased-prostate-cancer-risk
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Her dear friend’s last words to her were:

“This is horrible, I can’t breathe, I don’t want to suffer like this”.  She went on to say: “If you smoke and have COPD, let me describe to you what it’s like to live with COPD” [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease].”
  
“Pinch your nose, and put a bar straw, in your mouth. That’s one of the tiny straws they give you to stir a mixed drink. Now pinch your nose and only breathe in an out through the straw. Don’t cheat.”
 
“NOW, walk up and down the stairs about 3 or for times, Walk up and down a driveway, remember breathe only through the tiny straw. That’s what moving around and breathing is like for someone with COPD. It’s living hell! Supplemental oxygen doesn’t help much, and the medications only work during the early stages.”
 
“I have lived eleven years breathing like this. NO, I never thought this would happen to me, but it did, and it WILL probably happen to you too if you continue to smoke. SO IF YOU SMOKE STOP, do whatever you can to STOP, just STOP.

Although I have taken the liberty of modifying my friend’s statements slightly, sharing her personal comments hopefully brings a greater appreciation of the seriousness of having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a condition which most often the result of smoking and/or exposure to air-borne chemicals).

Internationally, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the one of the leading cause of death (vying with HIV) and it is the third leading cause of death in the United States. There was a time that individuals were not aware of the dangers of smoking and as these people age, their rates of death from COPD are on the increase. Additionally, people are living longer, so more patients experience physical declines leading to disability and often, premature death.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is the result of the walls of the alveoli, the balloon-like air sacks of the lungs becoming stiff and losing the ability to transfer oxygen from the lungs to the blood stream.  Also inflammatory mucus is produced in large amounts which blocks air from moving through the lung’s air passages.

Until recently, pulmonologists (lung doctors), did not recognize COPD as being caused by inflammation.  They are now convinced thatparticulates in cigarette smoke and other airborne chemicals trigger immune, inflammatory cells to “clean-up” the toxic materials. [Please see previous article on smoking.]

Over time, the inflammatory responses of the body destroy healthy lung tissue resulting in labored breathing, along with a greater susceptibility to frequent respiratory infections.

Unfortunately people with COPD treated with inhaled steroids are at greater risk of getting pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.  Additionally, individuals with HIV have greater decreases in lung function than individuals without COPD.

When a person has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, their lungs suffer from unchecked inflammation. Control the amount of inflammation being produced, and their quality of life will change for the better.

If you want to change how you feel, contact Dr. Hellen. There are no fees for the first 30 minutes of consultation. She may be  contacted by using this form or calling:  302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

 

 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23603459
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As of this writing, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta is strongly recommending that pregnant woman postpone travel to many countries across the world, including the popular Caribbean islands.  The CDC is taking these steps due to the possibility that these women may become are infected with a mosquito borne virus called Zika.  The World Health Organization (WHO) Director General Dr Margaret Chan, has said that Zika had gone “from a mild threat to one of alarming proportions” and expects the virus to spread through the Americas and affect between three million and four million people.

Eighty percent of individuals who are infected with Zika do not show symptoms.  However, when symptoms do occur, they can last up to a week or so and include fever, rash, pink eye, and joint pain. Some clinicians suggest that Zika virus infection may result in the autoimmune [against oneself] condition,  Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).  This is rare disorder where too much inflammation damages the nerve cells, causing muscle weakness and may lead to paralysis.

The greatest concern however right now is that health agencies “strongly suspect” that when a pregnant women is bitten by a mosquito that is carring the virus, that even if she does not experience symptoms, that her offspring may develop brain malformations.

This latest outbreak adds to concerns that infectious diseases are one of the top threats challenging our world—a major topic on the agenda of last week’s World Economic Forum world leader attendees.  Until vaccines or treatments are developed, viral infections such as Zika, Ebola, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) remain a threat to the world’s population.

Currently, there are no commercially available vaccines or treatments for Zika.  Until recently the cost to develop a successful vaccine was far greater than what the manufacturers would recoup in vaccine sales.  However, development of a vaccine for Zika will likely now escalate since Zika has spread so widely, infecting over 1.5 million individuals and its being linked to neurological problems, especially in newborns.

In addition to a lack of vaccines and treatments for a multitude of viral diseases, another significant health-care crisis we are facing is treatment of infection by anti-microbial-resistant pathogens. As Dr. Keiji Fukudaof the World Health Organization has stated:  “We really hope to pull the world back from the brink where antibiotics don’t work anymore”.

When bacteria are stressed, for example by a killer antibiotic, their genetic material may change, mutate, so that they can tolerate and become resistant to such compounds.  The bacteria can then replicate easily and outgrow bacterial strains that were not resistant to the antibiotic.

Fifty percent of antibiotic prescriptions written by U.S. physicians are of no benefit to the patient, and when used to fatten livestock and poultry it gives bacteria even more opportunity to acquire antibiotic tolerance.

It is our immune systems that identify, destroy, and remove invading pathogens.   When our body recognizes that it has been invaded by foreign agents, a strong inflammatory responses is triggered to meet the onslaught of the pathogens.  White blood cells accumulate in the area to combat the invaders.  These immune cells release cytokines and other immune messages  recruiting more white blood cells in an attempt to “burn out” the infection. Without a powerful inflammatory response, we cannot limit or survive infections.

In the absence of drugs or treatments that prevent and control the growth of viruses and other microorganism the immune system must be optimized to protect the body against them.

 

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One of the major complaints that people have is that “they are always tired”. “They just do not care anymore, they are just too tired.” [Kindly view a post that is relevant to this subject: Depression, Anhedonia and Run-Away Inflammation.]

In the past, scientists thought that there was a blood-brain barrier that “isolated” the brain from the actions of the immune system. They labeled the brain “immune privileged”; because studies suggested that a healthy brain had few, if any inflammatory cells in it. Only when there was a brain infection did scientists think that immune cells migrated into the brain.

Researchers failed to take into account that chronic inflammatory diseases are associated the brain. For example conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, liver disease, and rheumatoid arthritis may result in a lack of social interest, feelings of being unwell and unremitting fatigue—all which are governed by brain function.

Inflammation is activated when the body encounters pathogens and cancerous cells. The inflammatory response is a primary means by which the body will destroy these threats. Inflammation is basically a controlled “burn”.  Firefighters will often have a “controlled burn” in a forest to get rid of dead trees and limbs.  They strive to keep the fire limited to a specific area.  Sometimes however firefighters are unable to control the fire and acres of forest are burned in error.

Similarly, once immune cells have taken care of a threat to the body, for example cancer cells, pathogens, etc., it is essential that the immune system “turn” down the inflammatory “flame”. Chronic, unnecessary inflammation leads to many autoimmune diseases that destroy their own organs, such as diabetes, Crohn’s bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, and lupus

Inflammation is all about location, location, location. If one has inflammation in the insulin-producing cells that control blood sugar, the person may get diabetes. If their intestines are inflamed they may suffer from Crohn’s.  If there is too much destruction and inflammation of nerve cells, they may suffer from multiple sclerosis.

Let us hypothesize that an individual has two trillion immune white blood cells and that half of these cells are out of control and producing too strong an inflammatory response. This inflammation is destroying previously healthy tissues and organs.  Since the body is always striving to balance inflammation, the other half a trillion of cells are working towards lowering the amount of inflammation and destruction that is going on in the body

Each of these cells is expending a trivial amount of energy trying to accomplish its task, but a tiny amount of energy multiplied by two trillion cells is a great deal of “wasted energy”. Is it any wonder why these people complain of being tired?

Individuals who have been diagnosed with autoimmune conditions have higher levels of inflammatory cytokines, immune messages, than people without disease. In heart failure patients, significant fatigue is associated with poor recovery and a higher risk of death. Patients with high levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines, molecules that decrease inflammation, recover more fully and rapidly than patients with high amounts of inflammatory cytokines. When patients are treated for their heart problems, their cytokine levels begin to resemble the cytokine ratios of healthy individuals, and their energy returns.

In mice with liver inflammation, immune cells from the liver travel to the brain and trigger other specialized immune cells called microglia releasing a biochemical that attracts more inflammatory cells into the brain, which in turn produces more inflammation.

In individuals with multiple sclerosis, a nervous system disease with a major inflammatory component, patients had less fatigue when they took anti-inflammatory medications.

The association of appropriate levels of inflammation with a healthy brain and high energy reserves is clear; the key is being in immunological balance. Once individuals balance inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cells they typically regain their energy and focus.

Aren’t you tired of being tired all the time? Don’t wait any longer. Contact Dr. Hellen to talk bout enhancing your quality of life.  There is no fee for consulting with her for the first 30 minutes.  She may be contacted by using this form or at: 302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

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Without the ability to produce inflammation we die.  The inflammatory response is the main weapon that the immune system uses to protect us from infection, keep cancer cells from growing out of control, and help tissues heal when they are damaged.

However, one has to have the right balance of inflammation to be healthy.  We need enough inflammation to protect us, but  too much of an inflammatory response leads to increased risk of developing diseases such as irritable bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, lupus, and diabetes.

The mind as well as the body is negatively affected by run-away inflammation. Emotional problems such as depression, spikes of high or low moods (bipolar disorders), or schizophrenia are accompanied by uncontrolled inflammation.

Genes control the amount of inflammation that the body produces. When “inflammatory” genes are turned on, up-regulated, immune cells produce cytokines, inflammatory immune messengers, along with biological compounds such as C-reactive protein (CRP).

LONELINESS AND ANHEDONIA

Loneliness and feelings of isolation are linked to an increased risk of chronic disease and death and are associated with increased levels of inflammation.

Some depressed individuals experience anhedonia, a condition in which they   lack motivation and do not enjoy  life.  These people find no joy in food,   spending time with their family or friends, concerts, or activities that others find pleasurable.

Individuals with anhedonia experience persistent brain inflammation, among other biological events and typical treatments for depression are often not helpful.

BRAIN REGIONS COMMUNICATE WITH ONE ANOTHER

Different parts of the brain communicate with one another as they control a person’s response to pleasure and rewards such as social interactions, food and sex.  Reacting positively to these stimuli motivates one to repeat them in the future.  The ability of these regions to communicate with one another is called “connectivity”.

Individuals with low connectivity have increased inflammation and deeper feelings of anhedonia.  High CRP (an inflammatory marker) levels were also correlated with the inability to experience pleasure.

One of the medications used for individuals suffering with anhedonia is infliximab.  This medication is prescribed for patients with inflammatory conditions such as bowel disease and arthritis.  Additionally, administrating cytokines, immune messengers of inflammation, changes the reward-related regions of the brain.

DOPAMINE
style=”text-align: justify;”>Dopamine, which is produced brain cells, is strongly associated with the brain’s pleasure/reward regions. Dopamine helps us feel enjoyment and motivates us to participate in or continue to engage in activities that give us pleasure.

Decreased production of dopamine is associated with heighted inflammation and decreased connectivity between the pleasure centers of the brain. Administering inflammatory cytokines over a long period of time may lead to decreases in dopamine production.

THE LINK BETWEEN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND DEPRESSION

Every time muscles contract, they release anti-inflammatory molecules that help the body balance the amount of inflammation it produces.  Additionally, exercise activates the brain’s pleasure centers. The evidence shows that there is a strong link between physical activity and mental and physical health.

Regular physical activity decreases one’s risk of depression.  Researchers tracked individuals that experienced their first heart attack and had been physically active for 10 years prior to the event. Heart attack survivors who exercised for years prior to the event had a 20% lower risk of developing depression compared to individuals that had not been physically active.

Also, people who had become physically active before their first heart attack had a better protection against depression compared to those who had been active at one time,  but then became inactive.

SUMMARY

Increased inflammation has been associated with depression and other negative emotional states.  Maintaining the body’s balance of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses helps support healthy emotional responses.

Dr. Hellen’s major passion in life is helping people to enjoy life at its fullest. She may be contacted by using this form, at  drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info, or at:  302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

 

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