Anti-Inflammatory/Anti-Aging Strategies
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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).

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25905315
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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs in some individuals that are exposed to emotionally disturbing events such as combat, rocket, and terrorist attacks. Individuals that have suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) or experienced natural disasters and sexual assault are also at higher risk of having this disorder.

Symptoms may include quality of life issues such as explosive outbursts of anger, difficulties in concentrating, being easily startled, feeling constantly “on guard”, expecting a threat to occur at any moment, depression, problems sleeping, avoiding people and circumstances that can trigger unpleasant memories or outbursts, limiting emotional relationships, and avoiding crowded locations.

Up to twenty percent of veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, 10% of Gulf War (Desert Storm), and 30% of Vietnam Veterans have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

PTSD is not only a psychiatric issue. Individuals suffering with PTSD are at higher risk of being physically ill, and at increased risk of death from a multiple of causes.

PTSD is Associated with Inflammatory Responses.
Clinical studies suggest that individuals with post-traumatic stress disorders suffer from chronic low-level inflammation. This is reflected in their greater propensity to have inflammation-associated diseases such as autoimmune, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and respiratory diseases.

A combination of high blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure, coupled with excess fat around the abdomen (abdominal visceral fat), increases the risk of individuals for stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. This cluster of symptoms, metabolic syndrome, is associated with inflammation and is found in 48% of individuals with post traumatic stress syndrome compared to 25% of controls. Such clinical issues result in patients with PTSD utilizing a greater proportion of medical services and prescription medications.

IL-6 is a cytokine, an immune messenger, which plays a major role in inflammation, helping the body heal after tissue injury, and defending the body from pathogens. C-reactive protein (CRP) is another biological marker that is strongly related to heightened levels of inflammation. Elevated levels of IL-6 and CRP are associated with an increased risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular events that are inflammatory in nature.

Reports of increased presence of inflammatory cytokines in individuals with PTSD are inconsistent. However, the evidence suggests in military personnel with PTSD or depression, IL-6 levels are higher than found in control subjects, and that the quality of life of these soldiers is poorer as well. Similarly, individuals with PTSD are more likely to have significantly higher amounts of circulating CRP than those not diagnosed with PTSD.

Intermittent explosive disorder is one of the more troubling aspects of some individuals with post traumatic stress disorder. This condition involves repeated episodes of impulsive, angry, verbal outbursts, and violent and aggressive behavior. CRP and IL-6 levels are significantly higher in personnel with intermittent explosive disorder compared with normal or other psychiatric controls, suggesting a direct relationship between inflammation and aggression.

Summary:
Fifty percent of individuals with post traumatic stress syndrome do not seek treatment, and of those that do, only half of these persons will get “minimally adequate” treatment. Until now, the primary treatments for PSTD are psychological counseling and psychiatric medications.

Inflammation is the result of a delicate balance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses, and the body constantly strives to maintain a state of “immune homeostasis”, immune balance.

As in most disease, chronic low-grade inflammation is a likely contributor to post traumatic stress syndrome. If individuals with PTSD better controlled the amount of inflammation produced by their bodies, their quality of life would improve, both emotionally and physically.

 

There is no cost to speak with Dr. Hellen. She can be reached at 1.302-265.3870 ET [USA] or contacted at: drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info.

 

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23806967
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We humans exist in sea of microorganisms. According to the American Society for Microbiology, there are 10 fold the number of bacteria living in and on our bodies as cells that make up our bodies. Wherever our bodies are exposed to the outside world, for example our digestive tracts, skin, mouth, vagina, etc. we find specific varieties of bacteria and other organisms.

The totality of all the bacteria and other microorganisms that populate our bodies is called the microbiome. The microbiome is highly individualized, with the spectrum of bacteria differing from one person to another; much like an individual’s fingerprints. All people display wide variations in the kinds of bacteria that inhabit them. The types and numbers of bacteria in and on our bodies differ depending on our genetic makeup, our diet, and environmental factors.

Immune cells are found throughout the body where they are always on alert defending the body against infection. Inflammation is the primary way that the immune system controls infections and healing, but overactive immune responses can lead to debilitating inflammatory diseases such as atherosclerosis, diabetes, and bowel disorders.

There is considerable “cross-talk” between the microbiome and the immune cells. Microorganisms influence the responses of the immune system, and the immune system in turn affects the populations of the organisms that inhabit us. For example, evidence suggests that certain bacteria in the gut can decrease inflammation in the gut and decrease chronic disease. [Whether the organisms themselves are producing these molecules, or whether they are triggering immune cells to release anti-inflammatory compounds is not clear.]

Celiac Disease and Diabetes:
Individuals with celiac disease are highly sensitive to foods containing gluten, a protein found in barley, rye, and wheat. People with celiac disease have significant quality of life issues such as bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation.

When the immune cells of celiacs see gluten, they mount an inflammatory response to try to eliminate the gluten from the intestines. The immune cells produce antibodies that attach to the inner surface of the gut and through inflammatory responses cause direct damage of the gut lining. Inflammatory responses against the body’s own tissues lead to autoimmune (against oneself) disease.

Diabetes is also the result of an autoimmune condition. Inflammatory immune cells destroy specialized cells in the pancreas that produce insulin, a hormone needed to control blood sugar.

Individuals with celiac disease have more than digestive issues, since they have almost 2.5 times a greater chance of developing diabetes than those without intestinal problems. Such conditions are associated with antibodies directed against the insulin-producing cells. When Individuals with celiac disease go on a strict gluten-free diet, they produce fewer anti-insulin-antibodies, suggesting that they are producing less of an inflammatory response.

Gluten intake changes the kinds of bacteria found in the gut. Diabetic-prone mice that eat regular mouse chow containing gluten are more likely to get diabetes than diabetic-prone mice on gluten-free chow. In addition, when the gut bacteria are analyzed, the diabetic-prone mice on gluten have the type of bacteria more often associated with inflammation, than the mice not on gluten. Thus, diet affects the responses of the immune cells and the microbiome.

As followers of this blog are aware, in the face of constantly changing external and internal challenges, the immune system of a healthy person makes adjustments to maintain immune balance, immune homeostasis.

One would expect that if inflammatory and autoimmune responses were better controlled by the body, that individuals with celiac disease and diabetes would experience a far better quality of life.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22699609
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Immune inflammation is the body’s way of protecting itself from infection and cancerous cells. It is also necessary for repairing damaged tissues and eliminating dangerous compounds produced internally or to which we are exposed to externally.

In the 1800’s, Dr. Rudolf Virchow, one of the 19th century’s foremost scientists, observed the presence of inflammatory immune cells in cancerous tissues and suggested that there was a connection between cancer and inflammation.

The right balance of inflammatory responses are needed to fight cancer. Too little of an immune response leaves cancer cells unrecognized and unchallenged. Too much inflammation, or going down a different pathway of immune cell stimulation, may cause the immune system to support tumor growth rather than go into an “attack” mode.

Immune and digestive homeostasis, intestinal balance, depends on the right types and numbers of microbiota (bacteria), the health of the cells that make up the intestinal lining, and the immune cells that are embedded in the intestinal walls.

Over 75-80% of the immune system is represented in the gut. The immune cells produce antibodies (immunoglobulins), cytokines, and other immune factors that help protect the digestive system from pathogens that are introduced into the gut when consuming food and drink.

Bacteria and their secretions interact with intestinal immune cells and vice versa. These bacteria play a major role in the health of the digestive tract. An inappropriate level of intestinal immune responsiveness and incorrect types and numbers of microbiota may contribute to difficulty in maintaining intestinal homeostasis, gut balance. Immune imbalances, a breakdown of any of these elements, lead to problems with the intestine such as inflammatory bowel disease or cancer.

Pre-cancerous polyps often precede the development of colorectal cancer. Several naturally occurring substances have been shown to reduce the size and number of polyps, probably by down-regulation of genes that cause inflammation.

Maintaining immune and digestive homeostasis is imperative for good health. I look forward to having you contact me about any questions you might have on limiting inflammation and returning to homeostasis. I can be contacted at: DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info or click on: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen/. You may also reach me at: 1.302-265.3870 [USA, Eastern Time].

www.nature.com/nature/journal/v454/n7203/abs/nature07201.html
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Through the years, I have spoken with many individuals, usually, women, who have now been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  Fibromyalgia is a condition in which individuals suffer from chronic pain, and have tenderness in about a dozen different spots in the body, and have “brain fog”.   They suffer from unremitting fatigue, bowel problems, difficulty in sleeping through the night, and waking up unrefreshed.  As would be expected, they are depressed and anxious as well.

 There are some physicians, even now, that think fibromyalgia “is all in the minds” of their patients.  Some studies have shown, that compared to the general population, individuals with fibromyalgia have significantly higher levels of depression and anxiety.  [Now why someone who is in pain and tired much of the time, would be depressed is beyond me.]

 I once spoke to a male physician who said that he always thought that fibromyalgia was “just” a psychological problem, having nothing to do with biology.  I asked him why he used the past tense, and he said to me, “because I got it!”. 

 Now that the pharmaceutical industry has come out with at least three FDA-approved medications for fibromyalgia, it evidently means that fibromyalgia can now be classified as a disease, and many clinicians treat it as such.  

Many patients have differing success when using these prescription medications.  The three pharmaceuticals reduced pain symptoms by only 30%.  Some of the medications made a difference in fatigue, but not in sleep patterns.  Many of these medications result in side effects ranging from insomnia (which they were trying to combat in the beginning!), nausea, and diarrhea.  Unfortunately for individuals suffering with fibromyalgia, many patients find that if the medication does work for them, too often it is for only a short-period of time, for as little as six months total.

Most clinicians state that the cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but that “painful tissues” are not associated with inflammation. 

I respectfully suggest that inflammatory responses are major contributors to the pain and discomfort those individuals with fibromyalgia experience.  Indeed, I cannot imagine that a person can feel pain, in the absence of inflammation.

Increasingly, the literature suggests that fibromyalgia, and other neuromuscular conditions are characterized by low-grade inflammation.  Inflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha and IL-1, and other immunological factors, have been found to be at higher levels than “normals” and may be resulting in the fatigue and flu-like illness experienced by individuals with fibromyalgia.

Controlling run-away inflammation by returning to immune homeostasis, immune balance, has, in my experience, resulted in dramatic differences in the quality of life of individuals suffering with fibromyalgia.  These individuals have tried other approaches with only limited success, so why not support balanced immune responses?

Medscape Family Medicine 2012 WebMD, LLC
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For years, physicians told their (overwhelmingly female) patients, that patient complaints of skeletal and muscle pains, sleep disorders, overwhelming fatigue not improved by bed rest, brain “fog”, and lack of stamina, were “all in their mind”.

However once pharmaceutical medications were introduced into the market place to help decrease some of these symptoms, health practitioners started diagnosing these conditions as chronic fatigue syndrome, CFS or ME, myalgic encephalomyelitis.

Viral Involvement Controversial

In 2009, an article in the prestigious journal Science reported that 95% of subjects with chronic fatigue syndrome were infected with a specific virus and/or had antibodies to that virus. The investigational team emphasized that these findings did not prove that there was a link between this virus and chronic fatigue, but that the virus might be “a contributing factor”.

Late this past year, the editors of Science retracted the controversial article due to the poor quality controls, and omissions in the description of certain figures. Additionally, other laboratories have been unable to replicate the results.

This specific virus may not have been responsible for ME, but the concept is sound since other studies have suggested that bacterial and viral infections can trigger inflammatory immune diseases such as heart valve damage, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Autoimmune Inflammatory Conditions

Inflammatory diseases are often manifestations of an autoimmune inflammatory response. Autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system “over-reacts” to a stimulus and attacks its own cells with excessive inflammatory responses.

Digestive Tract-A Large Immune Organ

The lining of the digestive tract is heavily populated by immune cells and is considered a major immune organ. Many CFS patients complain of gut dysfunction, and have been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and with proinflammatory cytokine production.

Increase in Inflammatory Markers

Immunologically, individuals with chronic fatigue have increased blood levels of inflammatory compounds, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), and exhibit immunological abnormalities, including increased numbers of activated immune cells, and high levels of inflammatory cytokines, indicative of inflammation.

“… [T]he simplest way to think about … findings [such as these-HCG] is that people with increased inflammation–from whatever source–are more likely than others to develop a range of symptoms that frequently lead to a diagnosis of a condition such as CFS …” says William C. Reeves, MD, Chief of the Chronic Viral Diseases Branch, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “

Role of Immune Inflammation

Immune inflammation helps defend the body from infection and heals the body after injury. However, when immune inflammation is in “overdrive”, autoimmune and other autoinflammatory conditions result.

Making certain lifestyle changes will contribute to lowering the amount of inflammation in the body. These are: a) becoming physically active so that muscle contractions generate naturally-occuring anti-inflammatory molecules and b) controlling one’s weight to reduce the levels of inflammatory compounds being released by fat cells.

Other steps to consider are moderate exposure to sunlight (or taking vitamin D3 supplements), consuming omega-3, and adding hyperimmune egg to one’s diet.

Immune Balance

Good health is determined by the balance between the pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines produced by our immune cells; maintaining these immune factors in their appropriate amounts, is essential.

www.sciencemag.org/content/326/5952/585
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A recent guest post on kevinmd.com by Sophie Lee expressed her frustration and anger at physicians who dismiss her reports of pain with her severe bouts of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). She repeatedly hears, “it isn’t really serious” “you will just have to live with it, etc.  [ www.ibstales.com ].

I just do not get why conventional “wisdom” is that IBS is not an inflammatory disorder. Perhaps pain is possible without inflammation, but that would be atypical. My contention is that if the immune system was in homeostasis, autoimmune disease would either not occur, or it would be limited.

For years I have been questioning “experts”, how is it that IBS is categorized as an autoimmune* disease, yet you claim there is no inflammatory response in the gut?

Current research supports my contention. Recent studies are providing evidence that low levels of inflammation, along with immune mast and other immune cells, are found in the small and large intestines. Mast cells are typically associated with allergic reactions such as runny noses, watery eyes, swelling, and excessive mucous. The mast cells in the intestines appear to be involved in immune homeostasis, in helping the immune system balance.

Interestingly, many of the immune cells found in the gut are in close proximity to nerve cells. .. “Cross-talk” between these cells may explain the pain and other symptoms that individuals experience, and support the hypothesis of a brain-gut axis event in IBS.

It is time for individuals that have “tried everything”, to give their bodies a chance to heal naturally. The immune system has caused the problem, and the immune system can be gently guided to down-regulate overly active responses.

The key to greater comfort may be as simple as helping the body return to immune homeostasis. I hold a patent in the area of immune homeostasis and gut health, and numerous anecdotal reports suggest that balancing immune inflammatory responses makes a major difference in the quality of life of such individuals. Additionally there is a published clinical report by Mark Morningstar, DC, Grand Blanc, MI supporting the relationship between immune homeostasis and healthy bowel function.

One has everything to gain by letting one’s own body rebalance and limit inflammatory responses.

*The immune system mistakenly attacks “self”, the body’s own healthy tissues.

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Taking an aspirin a day may lower cancer risk.

Individuals took a minimum of 75mg a day of aspirin for 6 years. Twenty years later, these individuals had a 24% lower risk of developing colon cancer in the first place, and a 35% lower risk of death from colon cancer as compared to placebo.

This was especially important because the some of the cancers studied are found in a part of the colon that is not easily seen with current screening tests.

The populations studied were males at cardiovascular risk. Forty percent of the patients were smokers and most were males. Therefore, the effectiveness of aspirin for non-smokers or females is not known.

 “Cross-talk” between cancer and immune cells.

We have long known that there is “cross-talk” between cancer and immune cells. Immune cells affect the growth of cancer cells and cancer cells affect immune cell inflammatory responses.

Inflammation and Cancer.

Studies have shown that patients with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease, are more likely to develop gastrointestinal cancers than the general population.

Inflammation of the gut occurs with the release of inflammatory cytokines and other immune molecules. They have been shown to contribute to the development and growth of gastrointestinal cancers.

Aspirin regulating immune balance.

Thus aspirin may be helping to regulate the body’s inflammatory responses, and helping to keep the body in immune balance, immune homeostasis.

 
www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(10)62110-1/abstract

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2866629/

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18473765

 

Recently, a professional networking site directed me to a short note by Lisa Moreno-Dickinson, President of the stopcaidnow.org. The title of her article was “When Doctors Don’t Know How to Help From Misdiagnosis to No diagnosis … What Can a Parent Do?”.

CAID refers to Childhood Auto Inflammatory Diseases. These genetic disorders usually start in infancy or childhood and are reported to be the result of gene mutations. The periodic attacks of these conditions affect many different organ systems. They are characterized by sudden inflammation and fever onset, and symptoms such as rashes, headache, abdominal, chest, muscle, and joint pains, swollen joints and scrotum.

Much of the science suggests that these conditions are not autoimmune in nature. These individuals have no any significant elevations of autoantibodies, immunoglobulins, large immune molecules that are directed against self, nor activation of specific white blood cells.

Our knowledge of the complexities of the immune system, especially its inflammatory pathways, are still in their infancy as supported by the fact that cancer, colds, infectious, and chronic diseases are rampant.

I respectfully suggest that perhaps autoinflammatory investigators have not used the appropriate assay to find autoimmune responses because a) it does not exist yet, or b) it is difficult to “test for everything”.

A recent report suggests that there is an association between autoinflammatory conditions and mitochondrial health. Mitochondria are the power stations of a cell that provides it with the energy it needs to grow, divide, and “do its job”. They play major roles in healthy aging, degenerative diseases, cancer, and ultimately, cell death. The greater its metabolic or energy requirements, the more mitochondria a cell appears to have. As an example, a muscle cell may have thousands of mitochondria and a skin cell only a few hundred.

Antibodies to mitochondrial proteins have been reported in autism spectrum disorders, which are attributed to inflammatory conditions of the nervous system. Additionally children with severe autism have higher levels of inflammatory cytokines and certain immune molecules than controls.

In Blau’s syndrome, an autoinflammatory disease, symptoms are associated with the skin, joints, and eyes. It is often mistaken for sarcoidosis, a known autoimmune disease of the skin and other organs. Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory autoimmune bowel disease in which the immune system attacks its own digestive lining.

There are two genes, NOD1 and NOD2 that help regulate the production pro-inflammatory cytokines, immune molecules that cause inflammation. Mutations of these genes are found in a number of inflammatory disorders including Blau’s syndrome, sarcoidosis, and inflammatory bowel diseases.

Investigations of the pivotal role of gene regulation of inflammatory responses are underway; however, ways to neutralize the effects of such mutations may be years away.

Parents and clinicians do not have the luxury of just waiting. We know that inappropriate inflammatory responses are occurring in many, so why not determine whether the re-introduction of immune homeostasis, immune balance would make a difference in their quality of life?

 

www.parentsociety.com/parenting/when-doctors-dont-know-what-to-do-or-how-to-help/?goback=%2Egde_151241_member_74525704

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