Anti-Inflammatory Strategies–Achieving Homeostasis
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Exposure to chronic constant emotional or physical stress triggers a vicious cycle of inflammation. The stress increases the amount of inflammation that the body generates, and the additional inflammation “feeds” more stress.

Depressed individuals report that they experience high levels of tension and anxiety, fatigue, muscle discomfort, and/or gastrointestinal problems. Often they have a feeling that “something is very wrong”, but they cannot pinpoint what is bothering them.

Individuals suffering from depression often start by visiting physicians that specialize in specific organ systems of the body. For example a neurologist (specialty in the nerves), a gastroenterologist (digestive system), or a psychiatrist (medical doctor) or a psychologist, practitioners specializing in mental disorders. Unfortunately, most of these experts tend to focus on a single part of the body.

Since the human body is a single organism, and all the organ systems are integrated, it might be useful to realize that there is substantial and constant cross talk between all the organ systems of the body. Affect one part of the body and it has a ripple effect on all the other parts of the body.

As an example, when individuals are depressed, their immune cells produce large amounts of inflammatory molecules, pro-inflammatory cytokines, which circulate throughout the body. Since cytokines act in a hormone-like fashion, they affect all parts of the body and the brain.

Treatment Resistant Depression
Over seven million individuals with depression find little or no relief that prescribed antidepressant medications. A significant number of these patients have high levels of inflammatory cytokines, immune messages that result in inflammation. These inflammatory cytokines can interfere with the actions of medications.
Lifestyle Changes.

Too many individuals are convinced that only prescription medications can make a difference in their depression and anxiety. However, there are certain life style changes that may help them, with their clinician’s approval, decrease their medication.*

(*Note: The following lifestyle changes should only be incorporated after consultation with a qualified health practitioner. If you are on prescription medications, especially for depression or anxiety, DO NOT REDUCE OR STOP ANY MEDICATIONS without consulting with the prescribing health practitioner.)

Some naturally oriented steps that one can take are:

EXERCISE:
Researchers at Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, found that a brisk 30-minute walk or jog three times a week may be just as effective in relieving major depression as are antidepressant prescription medications. Patients were assigned to three groups: antidepressant medications only, exercise only, or a combination of both medication and exercise. The scientists found that the exercise by itself was just as effective as medication and “was equally effective in reducing depression…” as were antidepressants.

One reason exercise may be so effective in reducing the inflammatory-depression cycle is that every time a muscle contracts, it releases anti-inflammatory immune cytokines that reduce inflammation and a help to decrease anxiety, and improve mood.
SUNSHINE AND FRESH AIR:
The amount of time subjects are exposed to sunlight is directly related to the amount of a specific inflammatory cytokine they produce, and depressed individuals show differing levels of the cytokine when exposed to light for varying amounts of time.
Moderate exposure to sunshine and fresh air may contribute greatly to feeling less depressed. This may “simply” be because when one is exposed to sunlight, vitamin D is produced by the body.

Vitamin D is more like a “hormone” than a purely nutritional element, since it affects hundreds of genes and is a powerful immune system regulator. Although still not definitively proven, individuals living in temperate areas may find that taking vitamin D3 supplements may prove helpful.

EAT SMARTER:
Increase the amount of fresh and colorful fruits and vegetables, beans, fish, and chicken. Limit non-nutritious “foods”, especially fried foods, sweets, sodas (diet or regular!), white rice, and pasta. Eating in a nutritional manner may help the body regulate its daily inflammatory responses.

CONTROL YOUR WEIGHT:
Fat cells, adipose cells, especially those around abdomen produce a wide range of inflammatory cytokines. As the size of the cells decrease, the amount of inflammation that the body produces decreases. Lowering inflammation helps an individual to return to their natural immune homeostasis, their natural immune balance.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS FROM FISH OILS:
Studies suggest that daily consumption of omega-3 fatty acids from fish makes a difference in depression. In a recent randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study of shift workers, supplementation with omega-3 was associated with a reduction in high sensitivity C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker) and depression. In another study of women, the highest intake of omega-3 was associated with a 49% decrease in symptoms of depression. In the latter study, investigators suggested that omega-3 was triggering the production of anti-inflammatory compounds.

RETURN THE BODY TO IMMUNE BALANCE, IMMUNE HOMEOSTASIS:
Inflammation in the body is a normal and desired process that is part of the healing cycle and it is the primary method by which the body defends itself from pathogens. The key to good health is to help the body achieve the right level of inflammation, immune homeostasis. We want the body to produce enough of an inflammatory response to defend itself from pathogens and cancerous cells, but not so much inflammation that healthy tissues are damaged.

Hyperimmune egg has been shown to help the body return to immune homeostasis, immune balance. In a university, double-blind placebo-controlled trial (the gold standard of human trials), subjects consuming hyperimmune egg reported lower levels of moodiness, anger, and hostility. [Med Sci Sports Exer 2009 5:228].

SUMMARY
Chronic inflammation, brought about by an over-expression or lack of control of the normal protective mechanisms of the body, has been linked to range of conditions including depression.
Individuals who control inflammatory responses will have a much higher emotional and physical quality of life.

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Endometriosis* is a painful, hormonal and immune system disease in which tissues similar to the mucous membranes lining the uterus (endometrium), end up in “strange” locations, places that these sorts of tissues are not typically found. The pockets of tissue react to monthly surges of estrogen and progesterone just like the uterus. These cells can be found, for example, outside the uterus, around the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the abdominal cavity, bladder, cervix, or bowels, and can become irritated and inflamed during the reproductive cycle. Eventually the condition may result in scarring and adhesions, abnormal tissue that binds organs together like a spider web.

Autoimmune Contribution?
Some scientists suggest that in endometriosis the immune cells of the woman are unable to recognize the presence of these “displaced” tissues and that the cells are not destroyed as they normally would be. Women with endometriosis, besides having greater inflammatory responses, often produce autoantibodies (antibodies against healthy tissue) and immune factors that lead to inflammatory conditions.

Endometriosis is a complex disease in which many factors, including genetic, one’s anatomy, and one’s environment all contribute to the problem. Endometriosis is associated with a disrupted inflammatory and hormonal environment in which growth factors and immune factors, such as cytokines, exist at increased levels. Women with endometriosis may exhibit excessive growth of blood vessels and nerve cells in their pelvis, which may “feed” the pain.

Symptoms
Endometriosis may be accompanied by heavy bleeding at anytime during the menstrual cycle, with severe pain becoming especially acute during menstruation. Pain and cramping may begin before, and extend several days into a women’s menses, and she may experience lower back and abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, and malaise. Pain may be present during or after sex, and with urination, or bowel movements.

The severity of the pain experienced is an unreliable indicator of the extent of the condition. For example, women with mild endometriosis may have extensive pain, while others with advanced endometriosis may experience little or no pain.
Endometriosis can develop in girls as young as eight, or years after the onset of menstruation. While many women find that symptoms of endometriosis temporarily stop during their pregnancy, and/or completely with menopause, this is not always the case.

The main complication of endometriosis, besides excruciating pain, is infertility. Thirty to fifty percent of women suffering with endometriosis have difficulty getting pregnant.

Inflammation
Endometriosis is associated with an inflammatory environment of the pelvis. Different types of cytokines, immune factors, and growth factors are elevated in these individuals. For example, IL-8 is an inflammatory cytokine associated with inflammatory responses. The amount of Il-8 present in the body is strongly correlated with the severity of the disease, and contributes to the formation of adhesions.

Lean vs. Obese Women
In a study of younger women, the risk of endometriosis later in life was 40% lower in morbidly obese women as compared to lean women. The latter group had a nearly 3-fold greater risk of developing endometriosis than the obese women. This finding is contrary to expectations, since typically, obese women are at greater risk of inflammatory-mediated diseases than leaner women, and therefore would be expected to be at greater risk of developing endometriosis.

 [As an aside, heavy women that engage in regular, moderate to vigorous physical activity, lower their risk for endometrial cancer and other diseases. This result is expected, since every time muscle cells contract, they release potent anti-inflammatory molecules which balance the amount of inflammation generated by fat cells.]

Toxic Chemical Exposure
Dioxin is a toxic byproduct of industrial and consumer processes that involve chlorine or incineration of chlorine-containing substances, such as PVC, polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as “vinyl” plastics.

Exposure to dioxin and dioxin-like compounds have been shown to disrupt immune and hormonal balance and such chemicals have been implicated in the development of endometriosis and other diseases.

Non-Clinical Approaches
Physicians commonly recommend surgery and pharmaceutical approaches for endometriosis, but “alternative” approaches have been found to be helpful to others. For example acupuncture has been shown to be an effective pain treatment for some individuals. Additionally, eating a healthful diet, regular exercise, and certain amino acids may prove helpful.

Personal Note
I would be negligent if I did not mention that over a decade ago, a young researcher from West Virginia reported to me that a large number of women in a West Virginia community had been diagnosed with endometriosis. She was researching this problem, and unfortunately, she herself had endometriosis. I suggested a gradual introduction of a daily administration of 9-12 grams of polyvalent hyperimmune egg, a whole-egg protein from specially treated hens.

After a number of weeks the researcher reported back to me that her quality of life had improved dramatically. Unfortunately, I have lost contact with the investigator, so cannot report further on any changes she may have experienced.

Importance of Immune Homeostasis, Immune Balance
The key to endometriosis, as with most disease, is run-away inflammation. Therefore, achieving immune, inflammatory, homeostasis (balance) in individuals with endometriosis, may result in major differences in their quality of life.

Dr. Hellen can be contacted at: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen/ or 1.302-265.3870 [USA, ET].

*Interested parties may contact support@endometriosisassn.org for a free information packet on endometriosis.

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Healthcare-associated infections (HAI), nosocomial infections, are caused by a wide variety of bacteria, fungi, and viruses.  One bacterium that commonly causes illness is Clostridium difficile, or C. difficile.  Hospitalized children and elderly people are at special risk of acquiring these bacteria, infections that result in severe diarrhea.  Individuals infected with C. difficile are more likely to be admitted to short and long-term care facilities, have longer hospital stays, are more likely to require colon surgery, and are at higher risk of death.

Nosocomial infections are on the increase, probably due to the heightened use of antibiotics used in hospitalized patients.  The antibiotics kill off beneficial bacteria that might offer protection against getting infections such as C. difficile.

Intriguingly, in a recent study, patients admitted to the hospital who were on statins, medications used to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, had a 45% lower risk of getting Clostridium difficile infections compared to individuals that were not on these sorts of medications.

Other studies suggest that statins affect immune responses by down-regulating, inhibiting inflammation.  For example, statins prevent and reverse chronic and relapsing disease in an animal model similar to multiple sclerosis, reduce lung inflammation in animals that exposed to airborne particles, and have been shown to lower the risk of death of individuals suffering from 13 different types of cancers.

In atherosclerosis, primarily caused by an inflammatory response directed against the wall inside blood vessels, statin therapy reduces blood vessel inflammation and significantly reduces markers of inflammation such as hsCRP, high sensitivity C – reactive protein.

Health warnings have been issued by the FDA for statins.  These risks include:  memory loss and confusion, liver damage, heightened diabetes, and for certain statins, muscle weakness.  I am certainly NOT advocating that people use statins to limit inflammation.  Instead, I want the reader to focus on the fact that the effects of statins appear to be due, in the long run, to their ability to modulate acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) inflammation.

 As I try to emphasize in all my posts, the key to good health is to achieve immune homeostasis, the appropriate balance of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses

 Immune homeostasis is most easily achieved through a) consistent physical activity, b) controlling fat deposits around the abdominal area, c) increasing consumption of vegetables and fruits, d) moderate exposure to sunlight (or vitamin D3 supplementation when the sun is not sufficient), e) ingestion of omega-3 fatty acids from a fish source, and f) and daily consumption of hyperimmune egg.

Feel free to contact Dr. Hellen at DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info with questions or to consult with her. A message may also be left at: 1.302-265.3870 or click on: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen/.

 

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Gut-associated lymphoid tissues are found in the walls of the intestine and contain billions of immune cells.  The white blood cells control the levels and types of bacteria that naturally populate the intestines.  The bacteria help to digest food that provides energy to the body,  and are part of the immune/bacterial ecosystem of the intestine.

 Interestingly, both immune cells and bacteria, protect the intestines from attack by pathogenic microorganisms, and cancer cells, and help heal the intestines when they are damaged.  Cross talk between the bacteria, and immune cells help the intestines maintain homeostasis, balance.  Each keeps the other in check.

 CELIAC DISEASE
Celiac disease is an intestinal, inflammatory, autoimmune (against oneself) disorder.  Individuals with celiac disease suffer from a wide-range of symptoms including diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss, inability to focus, skin and neurological issues, constipation, a feeling of being “bloated”, gas, anemia, headaches, osteoporosis (loss of bone density), and depression. 

 Ingesting grains, such as wheat, rye, and barley, which contain a component of protein called gluten, reportedly stimulate celiac disease.

 The presence of gluten stimulates sensitive immune cells to produce proinflammatory cytokines.  These immune messages drive inflammation, resulting in the destruction of the intestinal wall and symptoms.   Genetic, environmental, dietary, neuroendocrine, and immunological factors all contribute to disease progression.

 Currently, the primary guidance that celiacs get, is to go on a “gluten-free” diet.  Although it may be effective for some people,  such diets are restrictive, expensive, and do not work well for everyone.  In one study, every patient, 100% of those surveyed, in a cohort of 300 individuals, hoped for another option.

 OTHER APPROACHES
I often hear from people with autoimmune challenges such as celiac disease, “it’s genetic”.  Fine, so your genes are partially to blame. Meanwhile, what will you do? Continue to be uncomfortable?  So I ask those with inflammatory issues, why not consider short-term approaches until researchers discover longer-term solutions?  In three words: limit excessive inflammation.

 I like to describe inflammation as a way that the body “burns” out pathogenic microorganisms and cancer cells. The body must produce enough inflammation to protect itself from disease, and help the healing process, but not so much that healthy tissue, for example the intestinal lining, is damaged.

 Nutritional Approaches
Vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids, from fish oil, inhibit the production of proinflammatory cytokines. (There is however,  evidence that vitamin A increases inflammatory processes.).

 Medical Approaches
Antibodies against specific inflammatory cytokines reduce intestinal injury in celiac disease, and the administration of corticosteroids, along with a gluten-free diet, was reported, in a small clinical trial, to provide benefit to celiac patients.

 Immunological Homeostasis/Balance
Hyperimmune egg, an ingredient that helps the body return to immunological balance, helps to support gastrointestinal health.  Many individuals with digestive issues report daily consumption of hyperimmune egg leads to major differences in their quality of life.

 LIMIT INFLAMMATION FOR BETTER HEALTH
The key to a higher level of quality of life in celiac and other autoimmune and autoinflammatory conditions, is to help the body limit its excessive inflammatory responses.  Removing gluten from one’s diet, using vitamin C, omega-3, corticosteroids, and hyperimmune egg, may contribute to helping the body regulate run-away inflammation.

Feel free to contact Dr. Hellen at DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info with questions or to consult with her. A message may also be left at: 1.302-265.3870 or click on: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen/.


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(Please see prior posting)

ACHIEVING INFLAMMATORY HOMEOSTASIS, IMMUNE BALANCE, NATURALLY

CONTROL INFLAMMATION

Restoring immune inflammatory balance, homeostasis, may reduce diabetic symptoms, help guard against infections, and contribute to overall health by letting the body heal itself. Lifestyle changes, rather than medication, are the best ways to regain immune balance, inflammatory homeostasis.

BECOME PHYSICALLY ACTIVE.

Muscles release anti-inflammatory molecules every time they contract. To help balance the levels of inflammation in the body, try to be physically active at least 150 minutes a week. Walk to the bus at a brisk pace. Stand, instead of sitting. Work faster when in the garden. Exercise while watching TV. Just get moving!

This week’s pre-publication article from the journal, Diabetes Care, reports that diabetics that participated in aerobic and resistance training twice a week were more fit than controls, even when they personally did not have any weight loss. Moreover, another publication this week in the journal, Endocrine, reports that even without weight reductions, exercise by itself helps control blood sugar levels.

GET TO YOUR IDEAL WEIGHT.

Obese individuals are at greater risk of getting diabetes. Fat cells release pro-inflammatory cytokines, messages that result in inflammation. Many diabetic symptoms are reduced, even with minimal weight loss.

Make smarter beverage and food choices. The most recent discussions about foods is to ignore the amount of fat you take in, and instead, concentrate on decreasing your total carbohydrate intake.

 Limit your intake of:

  • Liquid carbohydrates such as sodas, either regular or “diet”, fruit juices, “energy” drinks, beer.
  • Fried foods.
  • Starches, such as corn, white rice, chips, nachos, French fries.
  • White flour such as found in breads, pasta, cakes, desserts.

 Fill half your plate with vegetables and colorful fruit. The following foods are reportedly helpful to diabetics: Brewer’s yeast, broccoli, buckwheat, liver, okra, peas, and spinach.

VITAMIN D MAY PLAY A ROLE IN BALANCING INFLAMMATORY RESPONSES. Recent studies suggest that vitamin D, actually a hormone-like biochemical, is involved in cell growth and immunity. Studies suggest that vitamin D suppresses proinflammatory cytokines and increases anti-inflammatory cytokines. Organ systems such as liver, skin, thymus, small intestines, and pancreas have cells that bind a form of vitamin D. Certain groups of diabetics have low levels of vitamin D.

The body produces its own vitamin D when sun exposure is appropriate. Moderate sun exposure during the summer months, stimulates the production of its vitamin D. In temperate climes, supplementation may be prudent.

 OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS. There are suggestions in the scientific literature that diabetics may benefit from consuming omega-3 fish oils. Consume 2-3 servings of fish/week or take supplements.

MODERATE COFFEE CONSUMPTION. Certain compounds in coffee may help decrease inflammation. Moderate consumption of coffee may be helpful to diabetics.

HYPERIMMUNE EGG. Immunologists have shown that consumption of multiple servings/day of hyperimmune egg is a natural way to help the body regain its immune homeostasis.

IN SUMMARY

Important steps that a diabetic can take are to become physically active, control their diet and weight, and are other steps to reduce inappropriate inflammation.


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