Anti-Inflammatory/Anti-Aging Strategies
Header image

The act of conceiving, getting pregnant, requires many steps among which are: release of an egg from a follicle (ovulation), fertilization of the egg by sperm, transport of the egg through the Fallopian tubes to the uterus, and attachment to the uterine wall, (implantation).

Each step to becoming pregnant must occur in the right order and requires interaction with hormonal and immune system pathways.

Infertility is the inability to conceive after 1 year of unprotected intercourse. Ten to 15% of reproductive-age couples are unable to conceive. Thirty percent of the time infertility is due to issues with both the man and the woman, or no cause can be determined (idiopathic infertility).

Infertility Issues:
Hormonal and/or immunological imbalances.
Hormonal imbalances affect the way the body interacts with the immune system and affects the ability to conceive.

Seminal fluid, the liquid from male testicles that delivers sperm to the egg contains hormones, cytokines, and other immune messages that interact with the cells lining the female reproductive tract. The factors in seminal fluid prepare the site to receive sperm and set up the proper environment for implantation of the egg. The sequence of events resembles an inflammatory response, but too much inflammation can result in infertility issues.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease:
Common pelvic inflammatory diseases such as appendicitis and colitis result in inflammation of the abdominal cavity, which in turn may affect the Fallopian tubes and lead to scarring and blockage of the tubes. Since the Fallopian tubes are the pathway by which the egg gets to the uterus for implantation, implantation may not occur. Abdominal surgery, scar tissue, and sexually transmitted infections can also result in inflammatory pelvic disease.

Endometriosis is an inflammatory and hormonal condition that occurs when the tissues lining the uterus grow and spread outside of the uterus. They release blood at menses, the monthly cycle. Thirty-five to fifty percent of infertility cases in women are due to endometriosis.

Poor Egg or Sperm Quality.
Life style decisions such as abuse of alcohol or drugs, smoking, poor diet, obesity, lack of consistent physical activity, and environmental factors may all contribute to poor viability of the egg or sperm.

Smoking contributes greatly to inflammatory responses of the body.

If either partner smokes, the chances of conceiving, via natural or clinical means, are reduced by 33%. Smoking by men lowers their sperm counts and affects the health of their reproductive organs. Women who smoke take longer to conceive compared to non-smokers and are at increased risk of miscarriage, premature birth, and low-birth-weight babies. Even women who do not smoke, but live in homes where they are passively exposed to smokers, may take more than a year longer to become pregnant than women living in smoke-free homes.

Infections and Medical Conditions.
Women and men with sexually transmitted diseases often show no symptoms. Untreated infections can result in excessive inflammatory responses which damage and scar reproductive organs.

Anti-sperm antibodies
Up to 50% of infertility problems in women and men may be associated with the presence of anti-sperm antibodies, large immune proteins that attach to the sperm and trigger immune responses.

In women, antibodies to sperm may attack her partner’s sperm and result in inflammation and damage of vaginal tissues. Over 70% of all men who get a vasectomy develop anti-sperm antibodies. If damaged sperm fertilizes an egg, chances of a miscarriage increase.

Summary:
The reasons behind idiopathic infertility are not understood. It has been my experience that when couples focus on returning to immune balance, to immune homeostasis, they appear to enhance their chances of having children.

Contact Dr. Hellen with the contact form, or  302.265.3870 (ET) or at DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info.


natural-fertility-info.com/top-10-causes-of-infertility.html
www.jimmunol.org/content/188/5/2445.full.pdf
yourfertility.org.au/for-men/smoking
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25567620
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25547201
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24996040
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24993978
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25592078
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24863647

(My initial post on endometriosis can be found at: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/archives/1448)

Endometriosis is a painful, chronic (long-lasting) condition from which over 5 million girls and women suffer. This is a condition in which the lining of the uterus, called the endometrium, overgrows itself, and actually starts to spread and grow outside of the uterus. These endometrial growths or lesions can end up in the abdomen, in other organs, or as part of abdominal scars after surgery.

Follows a Menstrual Cycle/Infertility
Oddly enough, the misplaced tissue continues to follow a menstrual cycle. As these cells are under the influence of female hormones, each month the cell cluster gets larger and sheds blood and tissue and then shrinks again. The shed blood and tissues trigger inflammation resulting in pain, scar tissue, and adhesions, tissues that stick to one another and neighboring organs. Thirty-40% of women who have endometriosis are unable to have children. (This rate is 2-3 times the rate of infertility of the general population.)

Inflammatory Environment
Excruciating pain, sometimes far from the source, is a major issue for women suffering with endometriosis. Endometriosis appears to create an inflammatory environment that stimulates nerve fibers close to the endometrial lesions and other parts of the nervous system.

Genetics
Genetically, there is a seven-fold increased risk of disease in patients with a family history of the disease and the cells in the endometrial growths have damaged chromosomes.

Toxic Chemicals Implicated
The causes of endometriosis have been under study for decades, but one factor may be toxic chemicals. For example, dioxins are a group of highly toxic environmental chemicals that accumulate in the water and the food chain. They are absorbed by fat tissues and stay in the body for decades. Dioxins appear to cause developmental problems for children, interfere with hormone production, and negatively affect the immune system.

In the test tube, dioxin-like chemicals affect the production of inflammatory cytokines, immune cell factors. In one case, 79% of monkeys exposed to dioxin developed endometriosis, and the greater their exposure, the more severe their disease. Further study suggested that these monkeys had similar immune issues as did women with endometriosis.

Immune Homeostasis: A Balanced Immune System
The immune system strives to maintain a fine balance between protecting the body from the damaging consequences of toxic chemicals and “over-reacting” by causing too much of an inflammatory response.

Endometriosis is an inflammatory condition. Women with endometriosis may experience significant quality of life changes when they approach immune homeostasis.

 

On a personal note, (modified from the previous post http://drhellengreenblatt.info/archives/1448):
Over a decade ago, a young female researcher from West Virginia reported that a large number of women in her West Virginia community had been diagnosed with endometriosis. She was researching this problem, and unfortunately, she herself had endometriosis. She reported that her quality of life improved dramatically when she began to return to immune inflammatory homeostasis. [Unfortunately, she lost contact with the scientist.]


Dr. Hellen is available to work with individuals who wish to enhance their quality of life. She can be contacted at: 302.265.3870 (ET), DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info, or by using the contact form: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25528731
www.endometriosisassn.org/endo.html
www.cwhn.ca/en/node/39753
genomemedicine.com/content/2/10/75
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25465987
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25433332
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15731321
researchpub.org/journal/bmbn/number/vol1-no2/vol1-no2-2.pdf
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16101534

The mouth is a unique bio-environment for bacteria and other microorganisms. The oral cavity must always be in microbial and immune homeostasis (balance).. Hundreds of types of bacteria need to be properly balanced to protect the mouth from infection or severe gum disease can result from microbial imbalances or “dysbiosis”.

Oral Disease
Many microorganisms in the mouth attach to the teeth. The accumulation of microbes on the surface of teeth is called a “biofilm”, which may eventually calcify into a matrix of hard material called “plaque”.

If not removed, biofilms can lead to inflammation of the gums; a first step in the development of dental caries and “gingivitis”. This mild form of gum disease results in swollen and red gums that may exude pus and bleed easily upon brushing. If left untreated, gingivitis may escalate to periodontitis. In periodontitis, pockets of microbes form and the infection spreads and grows below the gum line, damaging bone, and loosening teeth.

Oral Inflammation
Periodontal-causing pathogens in the mouth trigger defense mechanisms resulting in defensive inflammation. However, when inflammation is not controlled, bone and connective tissues are damaged; the gums pull away from the teeth and leave them in danger of falling out.

When dysbiosis occurs, pathogenic periodontal bacterial communities may overpopulate the mouth. The bacteria are able to circumvent immune cell attacks. As the number of bacteria increase, they stimulate more inflammatory responses leading to bone loss and worsening periodontitis.
As might be expected, treating periodontitis decreases the biomarkers of inflammation throughout the body.

Atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease
Inappropriate levels of inflammation in the mouth can lead to inflammation throughout the body. It is therefore not surprising that periodontal disease increases the risk of having other inflammatory conditions such as atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Indeed, individuals with atherosclerosis and periodontitis share genes that appear to stimulate similar inflammatory pathways.

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD).
Amyloid plaque accumulation in the brain is a major feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD); heightened levels of amyloid have been associated with greater risk of periodontal disease. Even in seemingly healthy elderly individuals, those with periodontal disease have more amyloid in their brains than those without oral disease.

Individuals with strong immune responses to periodontal pathogens are at greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s than people who have more limited responses. This has led investigators to suggest that inflammation-associated periodontal disease may be a contributor to Alzheimer’s.

Homeostasis
A major function of the immune system is to keep the numerous bacterial communities on and throughout the body in check. To accomplish this, the body maintains immune homeostasis, exquisitely balanced inflammatory responses.

One might predict that maintaining good oral health would decrease one’s risk of inflammatory diseases including diseases such as cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s Disease.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183659
europepmc.org/abstract/med/765622
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25434071
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25435361
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25466412
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23746697

Pancreatic cancer is an aggressive and treatment-resistant cancer that appears to be driven by pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas.   Although most people with pancreatitis never go on to develop pancreatic cancer, drinking alcohol in excess, obesity, and particularly smoking, has long been associated with a greater risk of having pancreatic disease.

The Role of The Pancreas
The pancreas is a digestive organ with two main functions.  It produces digestive enzymes to break food down in our intestines, and it contains clusters of cells, Islets of Langerhans, that help the body regulate its blood sugar levels.

Inflammation as a Contributor to Pancreatic Cancer
Inflammation is a complex immune response.  Pancreatic inflammation, mediated by cytokines, immune messengers, up-regulate (increase) inflammation which may lead to pancreatic cancer. Once inflammation is triggered, more immune cells are attracted to the inflamed pancreas and additional cytokines are released that damage pancreatic tissue and attract other damage-causing immune cells.

One of the roles of the immune system is to recognize and destroy cancer cells.  There is a significant amount of “cross-talk” between cancerous cells and immune cells.  On one hand immune cells track down cancer cells in an attempt to destroy them.  They can “turn-on” (up-regulate) or “turn-off” (down-regulate) cancerous cells.  Signals from cancerous cells can result in marked imbalances of immune cells, or make them function in odd ways.

Role of Cytokines in Pancreatic Cancer.
For example, pancreatic tumor cells are able to dampen some of the immune responses of the immune system leaving pancreatic cancer cells to multiply more easily. Cytokines from immune cells can change the environment around tumor cells and act directly on them, triggering their growth and migration to other parts of the pancreas and body. Some cytokines transform cancer cells into becoming resistant to chemotherapy.

Others may act either to trigger inflammation or stop inflammation depending on circumstances. In one study of pancreatic cancer, the most invasive parts of a tumor were found in the midst of heavily inflammatory centers.

Bacteria May Drive Inflammation and Cancer
Interestingly, the studies of our microbiome, the bacteria that inhabit our digestive tracts and other parts of the body, suggest that the bacteria that inhabit us may trigger inflammation, thereby promoting the growth of cancers.

In summary, limiting inappropriate inflammation and achieving a state of immune balance, homeostasis, may be a significant contributor in reducing the risk of pancreatic disease.

Dr. Greenblatt  looks forward to assisting you in reaching your health goals:   http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen or 1.302-265.3870 [USA, ET].

 

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4145756
scitechnol.com/2324-9293/2324-9293-1-e104.phpwww.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12020670
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25170202
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24855007
www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v108/n5/full/bjc201324a.html
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24855007

The brain, being the “control center” of the body is cushioned by fluid, and is protected by bone and layers of membranes that support blood vessels that feed the brain.

Concussions
Direct or indirect mechanical impact to the brain may result from sports activities or workplace accidents. These may result in trauma to the brain. Rapid acceleration or deceleration, e.g., motor vehicle accidents or intense changes in pressure, e.g., blast exposures can also lead to brain damage.

The term “concussion” is commonly used to refer to a brain injury resulting from the head being hit with a great deal of force. Shaking the upper body and head violently can also cause brain damage.

Concussions alter the way the brain functions. The effects are usually short-lived, but may include being dazed, headaches, and problems with concentration, memory, balance, and coordination.

Brain injuries may result in loss of consciousness, but since the majority of cases do not end in “blackouts”, concussions often occur without the individual realizing they have had damage. The impact may seem relatively mild, and the individual may appear only to be dazed and with time and rest they may heal properly.

Serious untreated concussions can result in long-term brain damage and may even end in death.
Repetitive head injuries are a major issue especially when an individual sustains additional head injuries before the damage from the prior injury has been completely resolved.

The effects are cumulative. Cumulative sports concussions increase the likelihood of permanent neurologic disability. Complete recovery from an initial trauma can take from 6-18 months, and multiple concussions over time may result in long-term problems, including neurological deterioration, dementia-like symptoms, memory disturbances, behavioral, and personality changes, Parkinsonism, and speech and gait abnormalities.

In a minority of cases, additional trauma to the brain, even occurring from days to weeks following a prior event, can lead to collapse and death within minutes.

How quickly and completely one heals, depends on a number of factors including one’s genetic makeup. (This would be expected since genes determine a cell’s ability to withstand mechanical stress, regenerate, and heal.)

Inflammation and Concussions
For years it was thought that the membranes around the brain acted as a blood-brain barrier which stopped the brain from responding with inflammatory responses when it was confronted by infection. However, it has now been shown that concussions and other brain injuries, or infection or disease, will trigger inflammatory responses.

The types of immune cells found throughout the body are also found in the brain, but additionally, the brain has unique immune cells. When activated, brain-specific microglia and astrocytes, produce inflammatory cytokines that remain localized in the brain.

In response to brain injury, the immune system releases a tidal wave of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, molecules that trigger and/or stop an inflammatory response depending on what is needed.

In small amounts, these cytokines help protect the brain and heal it. However, prolonged exposure to inflammatory cytokines, or too high a level of these proteins, will result in damage that accumulates after injury. High levels of inflammatory cytokines are localized at the injury site, and may be found on the opposite side of the head from the side that was hit.

There is increasing evidence suggesting that much of the neurological damage that occurs after the brain is injured is the result of a delayed inflammatory response that lasts hours, days, or even for months after the injury. This chronic inflammatory response may cause more damage to the brain tissue than the mechanical impact itself.

Immune Homeostasis, Immune Balance is the Key
Unfortunately, pharmaceutical treatments known to reduce inflammation appear to interfere with the brain’s natural repair mechanisms. Therefore it is necessary for the body to control its inflammatory responses. It has to produce enough of a response to help brain tissue heal, but not an overly exaggerated inflammatory response which may cause more damage after injury.

In order for the brain to heal after trauma, the immune system must generate the proper balance, and types, of pro-inflammatory and inflammatory cytokines. For those with brain injuries, maintaining immune homeostasis, immune balance, may be the best way to minimize damage.

 

Dr. Hellen is available at 302.265.3870 for discussion on the role of inflammation and immune homeostasis in our health.  She may be contacted at: drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info, or use the contact form.  Thank you.

emedicine.medscape.com/article/92189-overview#a0107
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2945234/
emedicine.medscape.com/article/92189-overview
www.headcasecompany.com/concussion_info/stats_on_concussions_sports
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3520152/

 

This month was the 13th anniversary of the haunting September 11 event that has changed us, our Nation, and the world we thought we knew. It seems like yesterday that these events happened.

Three years ago, I posted my frustration of my inability to get First Responders, and/or their health practitioners, to consider addressing the issue of immune homeostasis, immune balance, to enhance the quality of life of individuals that had put themselves at risk to save others.

 Exposure to Air-Borne Particles

The World Trade Center Health Registry estimates about 410,000 people were exposed to air-borne particles and toxins attempting to rescue survivors and recover the dead, clearing the site, or cleaning the surrounding buildings.

 Despite the fact that early in the World Trade Center (WTC)’ construction, builders abandoned asbestos as a fireproofing material, over 400 tons of asbestos were used in the building of the World Trade Center (WTC). Additionally ”mineral wool”, minerals that were melted and spun into fibers and bound together by cement like components was used in construction.

 Massive amounts of hazardous fiber, asbestos, glass, gypsum, and cement were pulverized into ultra-fine particles when the Towers imploded and collapsed on September 11. Virtually every surface was covered with a fine, white particulate dust, and downwind from the complex, the fine particulate matter settled to a depth of 3 inches or more.

Affected groups of Responders include firefighters, police, health professionals, clean-up crews, construction workers, truck drivers, transit workers, lower Manhattan residents, and office workers.

 Increase Risk of Cancer

Responders were exposed to hundreds, if not thousands, of toxic particulates, dust, and gases at Ground Zero. As many of these are known to be potential carcinogens, it is not surprising that two years ago, 58 different types of cancers were added to a list of diseases with which many World Trade Center responders suffer.

 Overall, First Responders at Ground Zero have a 15% increased cancer risk with a 239% higher risk for thyroid cancers. However, unfortunately, asbestos-related lung cancers such as malignant mesothelioma may not appear for 20-40 more years.

 Signature Illness: PSTD and Respiratory Illness

If having a significant increase in cancer risk was not enough, according to the findings of the Stony Brook [NY] Medicine’s World Trade Center Health Program, as many as 60% of 9/11 World Trade Center responders continue to experience “clinically significant symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and … respiratory illness”.

Coughing and breathing problems have been a major issue, even in Responders that were only “moderately” exposed. Additionally individuals with the most exposure were more likely to find that their asthma symptoms became worse.

Benjamin Luft, MD, Medical Director of the Stony Brook Program is of the opinion that “a signature illness” of a WTC Responder is having both PTSD and respiratory problems at the same time.

 Respiratory Difficulties and Inflammation

Inflammatory biomarkers have been monitored in those exposed to WTC dust and smoke. Elevated levels soon after exposure were associated with increased risk of difficulty breathing in the years that followed.

 PTSD and Inflammatory Responses

A few months ago I stated “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.”

 “…individuals with PTSD are more likely to have significantly higher amounts of circulating CRP [an inflammatory marker] than those not diagnosed with PTSD.”

 The Combination of PTSD and Respiratory Issues

To repeat from my previous post,“The immune system mounts an immune, inflammatory response when the body is exposed to pathogens, pollutants, or toxins. The inflammatory cells release immune factors, such as cytokines, cellular messages, that are involved in cell-to-cell communication with the “purpose” of recruiting more inflammatory cells into an area to help eliminate a perceived threat.”

 “Pollutants and chemicals … trigger airway inflammation and increase mucous production. Other immune molecules cause narrowing of airways resulting in the contraction of the muscles lining the airways. The combination of inflammation and increased mucous makes it difficult for air to enter or leave the lungs and can result in breathing issues.”

“Additionally, lungs that do not function properly, are ideal for the multiplication of molds, bacteria, and viruses. The lungs continue their struggle to eliminate pollutants and pathogens, resulting in a chronic, persistent, dry cough and worsened lung function.”

 A Plea to Readers

I am convinced that immune inflammatory imbalances contribute in large portion to the reason that that First Responders experience so many health challenges.

 It is my heart-felt hope and expectation that helping individuals return to immune homeostasis, immune balance, may be the key to changing their quality of life. Despite numerous attempts and avenues, I have been unable to make reliable contact with decision makers or Responders.   I hope that you will forward my note to individuals that are still suffering the consequences of serving others.

 I can be reached at: DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info or at 302.265.3870. Thank you.

www.asbestos.com/world-trade-center/
sb.cc.stonybrook.edu/news/general/140910wtc.php
911research.wtc7.net/wtc/evidence/dust.html
www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/09/140910185910.htm
www.health.ny.gov/environmental/investigations/wtc/health_studies/responders.htm
www.cnn.com/2013/09/11/health/911-cancer-treatment/
www.thelancet.com/themed-911
www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/barbara/help-running-out-for-911-first-responders.htm
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21998260

During the 1970′s and 80′s, the saga of the “boy in the bubble” was followed with great interest. David Vetter, a young Texas boy had severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), a disease caused by life-threatening defects in his immune system. His immune system was unable to protect him from infection, resulting in the necessity of having to live in a germ-free, isolation containment center designed by NASA engineers. He lived in this plastic bubble from the time of this birth until he died at the age of 12 following a failed bone marrow transplant.

The containment center was supposed to keep David separated from any pathogens that might harm him. Unfortunately, it was likely that it was a virus-contaminated bone marrow transplant that resulted in lymphoma, an immune system cancer, which ended David’s life.

Living in a sea of pathogens, a functional immune system is essential for our survival. Inflammation is among the first steps the body takes to heal after injury or disease and it uses immune inflammatory responses to protect us from cancer cells and pathogens. But too much inflammation is as serious a problem as too little inflammation. The body constantly struggles to limit the amount of inflammation that it produces, with uncontrollable amounts of inflammation acting like as if it was an out-of-control forest fire, destroying healthy cells in its path.

The four letters “itis” indicate an inflammatory condition. Typically, the name of the disease depends on the location in which the inflammation occurs. For example, arthritis (inflammation of the joints), colitis (inflammation of the intestinal tract, the colon), dermatitis (inflammation of the skin), nephritis (inflammation of the kidney), pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), and uveitis (inflammation of a part of the eye).

Most immune cells do not have specialized names, however some organs have specialized inflammatory immune cells that detect infection and help resolve infection or injury to the body. Kupffer cells are most often associated with the liver. Microglia are associated with the brain and are involved in repairing damaged brain tissue and protecting the brain against disease. Dust cells, also known as alveolar macrophages, carry out similar functions in the lungs.

Inflammation is like real estate: location, location, location. The process of inflammation is substantially the same no matter where in the body the inflammation occurs. The intensity of the inflammatory response is determined by a balance between pro-inflammatory (molecules that cause inflammation) and anti-inflammatory (molecules that dampen inflammation) cytokines, immune messages that are released by immune cells.

The key to healthy immune responses is to be in immune homeostasis, immune balance. We must maintain the balance of enough inflammation to defend ourselves from pathogens, stimulate repair, and healing against the need to limit the amount of inflammation that too often leads to inflammatory diseases.

Contact Dr. Hellen for guidance in utilizing natural means to help the body return to immune homeostasis. She may be reached at:  DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info or or at 302.265.3870.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK22254/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23720329
www.thedoctorwillseeyounow.com/content/mind/art3792.html?getPage=2
www.hindawi.com/journals/cherp/2012/490804/

 

Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. As of this post, the virus has spread through many African nations, and is the worst Ebola outbreak every recorded. The virus has infected over 1200 people and abuot 60% of these individuals have died from the disease.

Health practitioners have put themselves at great risk caring for those who have become infected. According to the BBC, one hundred health workers have been affected and half of them have died. At least three high-profile physicians in the forefront of care have succumbed to the virus, and three nurses who worked in the same treatment center as one of the physicians, are believed to have died from the virus.

Two Americans working to battle Ebola in Liberia, one a physician, have tested positive for the virus and are undergoing intensive treatment and workers from Doctors without Borders and the Red Cross are “overwhelmed” for the virus that has no cure.

Depending on the type of Ebola virus, up to 90% of those infected can die a rapid and difficult death. The onset of symptoms may be characterized by a sudden spiking fever, headache, joint, muscle, and stomach pain, diarrhea, vomiting, and in some cases, uncontrolled internal and external bleeding. Infected individuals die from failure of multiple organs in the body such as the nervous system, liver, and kidneys.

The disease is characterized by abnormal immune responses in which the Ebola viruses appear to evade attack of immune cells; dramatic immune imbalances occur in response to infection. There is evidence that the immune system responds with a “cytokine” storm during which certain immune cells “dump” large amounts of pro-inflammatory molecules, cytokines, into the body. Other biological compounds are released as well that contribute to the confused immune response.

Additionally, specialized cells produce insufficient amount of anti-viral cytokines, while at the same time, there is a significant increase in death of other types of immune cells. Scientists at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases call this “a mixed anti-inflammatory response syndrome (MARS)”, and suggest that this “catastrophic uncontrolled immunological status contributes to the development of fatal hemorrhagic fever”.

Perhaps some of the symptoms that patients experience are due to autoimmune responses against individual classes of lymphocytes. This would account for the loss of certain immune cells, such as CD4 and CD8 cells. If they were available in higher numbers, they might be able to help the body fight the infection.

Many immunological factors contribute to Ebola virus fatalities. It is my contention that if  individuals were able to achieve immune homeostasis, immune balance, they would be better equipped to mount  controlled inflammatory responses which might help control the course of the disease.

 www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/fact-sheet.pdf
www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2014/t0728-ebola.html
www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/
www.nasw.org/users/mslong/2010/2010_09/Ebola.htm
www.vox.com/2014/7/23/5930311/ebola-virus-disease-outbreak-africa-facts-guinea?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=voxdotcom&utm_content=Sunday
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20957152
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21987781
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC368745/

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
www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/index.shtml
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24157651
archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1833091
www.medpagetoday.com/Psychiatry/AnxietyStress/44519
www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/traumaticincident/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19780999
www.biomedcentral.com/1471-244X/13/40
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24948537
archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1790358
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24559851
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24875221
circ.ahajournals.org/content/101/15/1767.full
www.veteransandptsd.com/PTSD-statistics.html
www.hindawi.com/journals/cherp/2012/490804/

Nearly every day people tell me that their joints are swollen and stiff, they hurt all over, and that they look and feel older than their chronological age. Most of these individuals have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Arthritis is a sign of a “boosted” immune system with excessive inflammation leading to joint damage. People report pain in areas such as their backs, fingers, hands, wrists, knees, and shoulders.

Rheumatoid arthritis typically affects the joints of the body. However sometimes even before joint symptoms appear, rheumatoid arthritis can involve other parts of the body including the lungs or eyes. Long-term inflammation of the lungs leads to scarring and shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, and an on-going, chronic dry cough. If the pleura, the tissues around the lungs, become inflamed, fluid buildup may result in fever, pain when taking a breath, and difficulty in breathing.

Inflammation Is Essential for Our Survival:
Clinicians, and most lay people, focus on the harmful aspects of inflammation and try to stop the inflammatory response at all costs. Instead, all that is needed is to control the this immune response. The process of inflammation is normal, protective, and absolutely essential for our survival. Inflammation is the first step to healing after an injury or when the body is gathering its forces to stop an infection. Immune inflammation also helps the body destroy cancer cells before they grow and multiply.

When the body recognizes it has been injured or infected, the immune system releases antibodies and cytokines, smaller proteins that attract different types of immune cells into an area, to help eliminate and destroy threats to the body.

Once healing has started, the amount of inflammation that the body produces must be controlled. The genes that control inflammation have to be “turned off”, down-regulated, so that inflammatory responses are limited.

Arthritis is an Autoimmune Disorder:
Arthritis is one of many autoimmune disorders in which the body mistakenly produces autoantibodies, antibodies against its own tissues that attach to joint linings, and cartilage which acts as a shock absorber. The presence of autoantibodies may trigger immune cells to release inflammatory molecules that cause damage to the joints and other organ systems.

The Effect of Stress and Weight on Arthritis:
There are many factors that contribute to the discomfort experienced by individuals with joint issues. Two of these most recently investigated are: stress and weight.

Stress:
The body increases the amount of inflammation it produces when it is exposes to constant stress and the stress of pain. It becomes part of a vicious cycle. Stress causes inflammation, and inflammation leads to more stress. There is crosstalk between the nervous, hormonal, and immune systems. Changes in one system effects the other system.

Stressed individuals suffering from rheumatoid arthritis produce much higher levels of most cytokines than people without arthritis. Immunologically they respond differently to stress.

Weight Issues:
Overweight and obese patients with rheumatoid arthritis have more pain and respond less well to medication, as compared to normal weight patients. Obesity is an inflammatory disease during which fat cells, especially those concentrated around the inner organs, pump out large numbers of inflammatory molecules. Certain inflammatory proteins are found in high number in the abdominal fat tissue of overweight and obese individuals.

Importance of Immune Balance/Immune Homeostasis:
Immune inflammation is tightly regulated by the body. It consists of a) triggering and maintaining inflammatory responses, and b) producing immune messages that decrease and/or entirely stop the inflammation. Imbalances between the two phases of inflammation results in unchecked inflammation, loss of immune homeostasis, and may result in cell and tissues damage like that experienced in rheumatoid arthritis.

The key is to incorporate lifestyle changes to help the body maintain immune balance.

 Help your body return to immune balance.  Dr. Hellen may be contacted at: 302.265.3870 ET USA, or use the contact form. Thank you.

www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arthritis/basics/definition/con-20034095
www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Press_releases/2003/10_17_03.html
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24846478
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24738934
 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24850878
ard.bmj.com/content/early/2014/05/12/annrheumdis-2013-205094
www.fasebj.org/content/27/12/4757

css.php