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According to the World Health Organization smoking is the second largest preventable cause of disease and premature death. Globally, tobacco products are responsible for 5 million deaths annually. A person dies every 6 seconds from smoking-related diseases including chronic diseases and cancer.

Among its many effects, smoking triggers an immunologic response in arteries and veins which is associated with increased levels of inflammatory markers, such as C-reactive protein and increases in white blood cells. C-reactive protein is strongly associated with lifetime smoking exposure as measured by pack-years. Several studies have shown that such markers predict future cardiovascular events including atherosclerosis.

However, once smokers quit, their risk of future cardiac events and death gradually declines, and within 5 years, smoking-associated inflammatory responses start to return to normal.

Cigarette smoking has also been linked to increased risk of autoimmune diseases, including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, thyroid, and liver. Autoimmune diseases are immune disorders where the body attacks itself resulting in excessive inflammation and tissue damage.

Considering that cigarette smoke contains over 7000 chemicals, the likelihood that smoking triggers autoimmune and other excessive inflammatory immunological responses makes sense. An example of smoke-induced illness is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in which a person has difficulty in getting enough air.

The lungs, in response to cigarette smoke, activate cells lining the lungs and immune cells, resulting in inflammatory responses. If an individual is infected with a bacterial or viral infection in addition to the smoke assault, it results in a vicious cycle of more difficulties in breathing and greater inflammation. Studies have indeed shown that patients with COPD have autoantibodies and inflammatory responses against lung cells.

Researchers have reported that in female smokers, physical activity, known to help reduce inflammation, reduced their relative risk of developing lung cancer by more than 65 percent.

Thus, it might be expected that if smokers were better able to control their inflammatory responses and return to immune homeostasis, that they might be less likely to develop chronic diseases.

 

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1160597/

www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.0020160

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21907865

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17975205

www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/58661.php

 

It is estimated that over 33 million people in the United States are uncomfortable leaving their homes or meeting with friends because they have an overactive bladder that forces them to be close to a bathroom at all times.

People with an overactive bladder may urinate eight or more times in 24 hours and multiple times during the night. Sixty percent of elderly women and 30% of middle-aged men and women experience symptoms of an overactive bladder, urinary incontinence (leaking urine). Individuals often hesitate to share this problem with their physician.

An overactive bladder, sometimes called a “spastic bladder”, is the name given to a group of urinary symptoms. There are two types of urinary incontinence, although one can have both at once. They are urge and stress incontinence. Urge incontinence is the strong, sudden urge to urinate that cannot be ignored. When one does not get to the bathroom “in time” there may be an involuntary leakage of urine. Stress incontinence happens when people leak urine while sneezing, laughing or being physical.

When it is time to empty the bladder, a signal goes out to the brain which “tells” the muscles of the bladder to contract, pushing urine out and to empty the bladder. In people with overactive bladders, the muscles of the bladder start to contract involuntarily even when the volume of urine in the bladder is low. This involuntary contraction creates the urgent need to urinate.

Several conditions are associated with an overactive bladder. These include diabetes, certain medications, stroke, urinary tract infections, bladder stones, tumors and excessive consumption of alcohol or caffeine. In too many cases the cause is unknown; this is called an idiopathic overactive bladder condition.

Recent studies suggest that individuals with an overactive bladder have higher levels of inflammation. High levels of the inflammatory marker, C-reactive protein, and inflammatory cytokines are found in patients. When analyzing over 1800 men and 1800 women with overactive bladders, and adjusting for other conditions including smoking and alcohol consumption, the higher the C-reactive protein levels, the greater the odds of having urgent episodes and frequency. The clinicians concluded that there may be a role of inflammation in the development of this condition.

Summary.

An overactive bladder is a common condition affecting all ages and has a severe impact on quality of life. Keeping the body and bladder in homeostasis, in balance, may be an important key to reducing the sudden urge to urinate.

Contact Dr. Hellen, she is there for you.  No fee is charged for the first 30 minutes of consultation.  She may be  contacted by using this form or calling:  302.265.3870 (ET-USA).

 

www.nafc.org/overactive-bladder
www.renalandurologynews.com/aua-2010-annual-meeting/overactive-bladder-linked-to-inflammation/article/171323/
www.tcs.org.tw/tcs_old/issue/Folder/3_1Suppl/09_IPFD_V3_Suppl_1_PP_17_19.pdf
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29192418
journals.viamedica.pl/ginekologia_polska/article/view/55086
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28953078
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19275692
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4754024/
www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fnins.2018.00931/full

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia reports that estimated 6-7 million people have been, or are currently sick with viral flu during the current flu season. Half of these individuals saw a health practitioner for their illness but nevertheless approximately 69,00-84,000 people were hospitalized. Much of the illness and deaths from the flu are the result of bacterial infections that often accompany the disease (secondary infections) and excessive inflammation. Unfortunately, a total of 22 influenza-associated pediatric deaths have been reported during the 2018-2019 season to date.

CDC expects flu activity to continue for many more weeks or even months, and it continues to recommend flu vaccination and antiviral medications for high-risk groups such as children 5 years of age (but especially those younger than 2 years of age), older adults, pregnant women and residents of long-term facilities.

Not everyone experiences the same flu symptoms, but symptoms range from chills, severe cough, sudden and high fever, stuffy, runny nose, severe aches and pains, bad headache, extreme fatigue, vomiting and/or diarrhea. Some people go on to develop serious complications caused by viral infection of the nasal passages and throat and lungs.

The presence of virus and bacteria triggers a robust inflammatory response in the body’s attempt to rid the body of disease. Inflammation is the body’s primary weapon to destroying pathogens, but it is a double-edged sword since “uncontrolled” inflammation in response to the virus may result in significant lung damage, followed by death.

It has recently become apparent that during influenza infection, large numbers of inflammatory immune cells leave the lungs and travel to the small intestines. Here they interact with the microbiome (communities of organisms that occupy the gut) destroying the proper the balance of beneficial organisms and permitting the overgrowth of certain classes of bacteria.

These inflammatory cells may be trying to defend the body against pathogens, but instead they produce so much inflammation that the gut lining is injured by them. (Interestingly, in animal studies, antibiotic treatment of the bacteria in the gut reduces damage.)

Inflammation is the protective process by which the body removes harmful pathogens and substances and initiates healing. It is a tightly regulated process that involves molecular signals that start and maintain inflammation (pro-inflammatory) followed by signals that turn “off” the inflammatory process (anti-inflammatory signals). Imbalances of these immune factors results in damage to the tissues and organs.

A properly balanced immune response is essential for the body to combat viruses like influenza and the bacteria that too often are associated with the illness.

  • Taking the following steps towards helps the body defend itself successfully against infections:
  • Wash your hands frequently and keep them away from your nose and mouth (mucous membranes).
  • Stay hydrated to keep membranes moist and resistant to invasion.
  • Be physically active 2.5 hours/week.
  • Be smart—eat healthy, especially vegetables and fruits.
  • Try to get outdoors a few minutes a day.
  • Stop excessive alcohol consumption.
  • Cut down or quit smoking—your lungs are working hard enough trying to bring oxygen into the body.
  • Consume a proven immune support supplement to help your immune system balance.

Enhance your quality of life.  Dr. Hellen can be contacted by using this form, at  drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info or call her at:  302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/summary.htm
www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm
www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/01/25/heres-what-you-should-know-about-the-flu-season-this-year/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.690664b3eb78
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27744631
jem.rupress.org/content/211/12/2397
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12890422
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30568659

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), this flu season is an unusually severe outbreak with wide-spread instances of disease in 49 States with many schools being closed. The season started earlier than usual, which is never a good sign.   CDC Deputy Director Anne Schuchat has said “This year’s influenza season is proving particularly difficult”. Hospitals do not have enough beds and the prevalence of the flu has led to shortages of anti-viral medications that if prescribed in the first 48 hours may shorten symptoms by a day or so.

This season’s primary virus strain is H3N2, a deadly type of influenza A that tends to result in more severe illness and higher numbers of hospitalizations and deaths than other strains. H3N2 is especially dangerous for the frail elderly and children, although people between the ages of 50 and 64 are being hospitalized at alarming rates, second only to the elderly.  As of this post, almost 100 children have already died from the flu.

Since vaccination may lessen the severity of the illness and there are  few other options, the CDC recommends people be vaccinated with the current flu vaccine, even though it may only be 30% -40% effective. [Antibiotics are useless against viruses since they only kill bacteria.]

Although some people view the flu as “merely” annoying and inconvenient, those suffering from influenza along with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, emphysema, diabetes and other pre-existing conditions are at a higher risk of hospitalization or death, especially if they contract a secondary bacterial infection.

The influenza virus is difficult for the body to protect itself from, because it is able to mutate rapidly and frequently. This forces the immune system to constantly change its tactics to combat the latest version of the flu.

Infection by influenza triggers an intense immune inflammatory response in the lungs in the body’s attempt to stop the virus from multiplying. The lungs’ immune cells release cytokines, small molecules that signal and recruit other cells into the lungs to increase or decrease their immune and inflammatory responses.

Lisa Brown JPEG

But such a response can be a double edged sword. Too much inflammation causes lung damage on top of the damage already caused by the virus and secondary bacterial infections such as pneumonia. Additionally, although rare, if the balance of cytokines is significantly upset, the normal level of inflammatory cytokines may become too high, resulting in a cytokine storm (or cytokine cascade) that can kill a previously healthy individual in hours.

A properly balanced immune system, one in homeostasis, is more fully prepared to defend us against invasion by foreign agents, and is ready to help us combat an infection if we get one.

Following the following steps will help keep your immune system functioning at optimum levels:

  1. Eat healthful meals with an emphasis on whole grains and plenty of colorful vegetables and fruits.
  2. Be physical active to help keep the immune system in balance; incorporate it into your daily life.
  3. Get adequate amounts of rest and avoid fatigue.
  4. Drink plenty of fluids to keep membranes moist and more resistant to invasion.
  5. Wash your hands frequently and try to keep them away from your face.
  6. Stop, or at least cut down, on your smoking—your lungs are struggling enough.
  7. Consume a superior immune support supplement to help your immune system balance.
Dr. Hellen’s passion is helping people have a better quality of life. Contact her by using this form, drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info, or calling at: 302.265.3870 (ET, USA).
www.cdc.gov/flu/index.htm
www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/summary.htm
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4711683
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24728596

www.businessinsider.com/baby-boomers-hospitalized-with-the-flu-what-is-imprinting-2018-1

Our heart is “simply” a large muscle that continuously pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body supplying cells, tissues and organs with life-giving oxygen and nutrients. The cells of the body release carbon dioxide and other gases as a by-product of producing energy. These gases are removed from the blood as it circulates through the lungs.

A heart attack results when blood is blocked from getting into the arteries that feed the heart. If not treated rapidly, parts of the heart muscle may die from lack of oxygen. After a heart attack, danger signals released by dying cells trigger inflammation which in turn attracts immune cells into the area to clear dead cells and tissue debris.

The high numbers of inflammatory immune cells stick to the plaque, increasing the risk for another heart attack. The body tries to heal itself by transforming the damaged heart muscle cells into scar tissue. Because scar tissue is hard and not flexible, a badly scarred heart cannot pump blood efficiently.

For any sort of healing, the body has to produce the right amount of inflammation. There has to be sufficient inflammation for the healing process, but not so much that excessive scarring occurs. Depending on how much scar tissue forms, congestive  heart failure may result due to the inability of the heart to pump normally.

Our cells produce cholesterol which is essential for a wide range of biological functions. The body has to manufacture the right amount of cholesterol and which has to go to specific parts of the body.   If too much cholesterol is produced over many years, cholesterol plaque builds up in the arteries resulting in atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is triggered by lifestyle issues that cause uncontrolled inflammation such as high blood pressure, smoking, poor dietary choices and excessive weight.

Plaque deposits narrow the passageways of arteries and block the flow of blood in vessels that feed the heart itself. The plaque may eventually harden, burst and release blood platelets that form clots in an attempt to stop the bleeding. The blood clots may cause even more blockages in the arteries, obstructing blood and oxygen flow and causing more heart damage. An artery to the heart which is blocked may result in a heart attack; a blocked artery in or leading to the brain results in a stroke.

 What is a Heart Attack?

 

In Summary:

1) Acting fast at the first sign of heart attack symptoms can save lives and limit damage to the heart. Heart attack treatment works best when it’s given right after symptoms occur. If you think you, or someone else is having a heart attack, even if you’re not sure, call emergency services immediately.

2) Current therapies for atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease do not target inflammatory cells. Maintaining the body in immune homeostasis, immune balance, may help the body support healthy heart and cardiovascular function.

www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/heartattack
www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Inflammation-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_432150_Article.jsp#.V7un7mf6vcs
www.pnas.org/content/113/29/8212
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27619160
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3375712
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27515051
stm.sciencemag.org/content/8/342/342ra80www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27542099

 

 

Her dear friend’s last words to her were:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23603459
http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/lung-conditions-chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease-copd
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27019597
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20513910
www.nature.com/articles/nrdp201576
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26974304

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

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
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www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24855007

Migraine headaches are often characterized by excruciating throbbing pain on one side of the head, which may switch to a different side from episode to episode.  Individuals may also experience severe pain in/or over one or both eyes, or in their sinuses.  Nausea, vomiting, disturbed vision, and increased sensitivity to light and sound may also occur.  Migraine headaches can last for hours or even days, and may reoccur, daily, weekly, or monthly.

Preventing the onset of a migraine, or decreasing its frequency or severity appears to be the best strategy because once a headache starts to occur on a daily basis, treatment options are few.  This makes it important to take action before this point is reached.

Migraines are difficult to study, because in between episodes, the person is basically healthy and researchers have been unable to find a biomarker that is the hallmark of the condition.  Unfortunately, many patients go from doctor to doctor trying to find migraine relief.

Some people can identify triggers for their migraines, while others find no association.  However, even with those that have known triggers, avoiding triggers does not always prevent their migraines.

Some triggers that people report are: allergic responses, emotional or physical stress, certain odors or perfumes, loud noises, bright lights, sleep disturbances, exposure to smoke or smoking, alcohol, fasting, hormonal changes, and certain foods.

Besides medication, some methods used to reduce the frequency and severity of migraines are:  massage of temples, neck, shoulders, and back, head and neck stretches, acupuncture, stress reduction, biofeedback training, Botox® injections, stimulator devices, staying hydrated, and eliminating specific foods. Unfortunately these techniques rely on a trial and error method.

Several studies have found that people who exercise have fewer, shorter, and less severe migraines than those who are not active, but other individuals report that physical activity merely acts as a trigger for their migraines.

In women of a reproductive age, and in children, obesity often increases the number of migraines they experience. Fat cells produce inflammatory immune molecules.  These immune factors may result in increasing the severity, duration, and frequency of migraine attacks.

Inflammation protects the body from pathogens.  But the amount of inflammation produced has to be carefully regulated by the body, otherwise innocent bystander organs and tissues are attacked.  When the body produces the correct amount of inflammation, it is in immune homeostasis, immune balance.

Disruptive levels of inflammation in the body contribute to migraine pain.  Therefore, taking steps which lower inflammation, such as exercise, nutritional intervention, and weight reduction, helps the body reduce unhealthy levels of inflammation and change the quality of life of individuals.

http://www.neurology.org/content/64/10_suppl_2/S9.extract
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/148373.php
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17515549
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23390177
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22894176

Shirley Wang published an article in the WSJ titled “New View of Depression: An Ailment of the Entire Body”. Her lead-in stated: “Scientists are increasingly finding that depression and other psychological disorders can be as much diseases of the body as of the mind. People with long-term psychological stress, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder tend to develop earlier and more serious forms of physical illnesses that usually hit people in older age, such as stroke, dementia, heart disease and diabetes”.

Ms. Wang reported that Dr. Owen Wolkowitz at the University of California, San Francisco thinks of depression as “a systemic illness”, rather than a mental or brain disease. Dr. Wolkowitz found that
“[D]epression is associated with an unusually high rate of aging-related illnesses and early mortality”, or “accelerated aging”. He also points out that individuals who are aging more rapidly and/or are ill, have shorter telomeres than expected.

[Division is essential for most healthy cells. Telomeres are the protective tips of chromosomes that guide the chromosomes during cell division. Every time a cell divides, the telomeres shorten in length. Eventually there is little or no telomere resulting in an inability of the cell to divide efficiently. Eventually the cell dies. Some investigators are of the opinion that the length of telomeres is a predictor of longevity.]

There appears to be a strong association of inflammation with shorter telomeres. Senescent cells, which are unable to divide any longer and have almost non-existent telomeres, produce high concentrations of immune factors, cytokines, that regulate genes that result in inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is found in a myriad of diseases including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer multiple sclerosis, dementia, as well as depression. Heightened levels of inflammation are found in smokers and the obese. Each pack of cigarettes smoked results in a 18% shortening of telomeres, and the telomeres of obese women are shorter than those of lean women. Using other biomarkers, both smokers and obese individuals have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies than the general population.

Depression results in inflammation and inflammation “feeds” depression. The same cytokines that cause inflammation, pro-inflammatory cytokines, under other circumstances may be anti-inflammatory.
Data from studies demonstrate that depressed individuals have an imbalance of pro- and anti-inflammatory factors.

Some practitioners suggest that depressed patients need to “boost” their immune responses. Instead, “boosting” the immune response, i.e., inflammation, may only exacerbate the disease.

Because of the complexity of immune responses, it is important to let the body find its own “set” point. This is why achieving immune homeostasis, immune balance, is essential for good health.

http://twinsuk.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Valdes-.lancet.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23136552
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1868538/
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http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022395609001241
http://drhellengreenblatt.info/2011/09/smoking-inflammation-immune-homeostasis-balance/

A healthy immune system controls the amount of inflammation the body uses to defend itself from infection and mutating cancer cells, and to help its healing processes. The body has to control the intensity of its inflammatory responses so that it doesn’t attack healthy, “by-stander” cells and tissues.  [When the body attacks its own self, an autoimmune response, conditions such as arthritis, lupus, and diabetes result.]  To control inflammation means that the body has to stay balanced all the time.  When inflammatory responses are balanced the body is in immune/inflammatory homeostasis.

Immune homeostasis, immune balance is what keeps cancer in check.  Too much inflammation may trigger cancer cells to grow and multiply, and they in turn may trigger more inflammation to occur. 

 Cigarette smoke has carcinogens, compounds, that cause genes to mutate, or to switch on and off, phenomena known as epigenic events.  Additionally, exposure to cigarette smoke stimulates the release of inflammatory cytokines, molecular messages produced by immune cells.  When these molecules are released into the body they may cause imbalances in the inflammatory process, and a loss of immune homeostasis, immune balance.

Smoking results in the perfect “cancer storm”, because cigarette smoke not only cause inflammation, but it also contributes to angiogensis, the growth of new blood vessels that tumor cells use to grow and multiply in numbers.

 Normally, there is a balance of growth-stimulating and growth-inhibitory molecules so that blood vessels form only when and where they are needed, for example when blood vessels are damaged. 

However, cancer cells upset signaling and the body starts produces fresh blood vessels. These blood vessels “feed” growing tumors with oxygen and nutrients, allowing the cancer cells to invade nearby tissues and to migrate throughout the body, metastasizing, and forming new colonies of cancer cells.

 A study from the National Cancer Institute published this month, analyzed 1400 different inflammatory and immune genes from lung cancer patients and healthy individuals.  In 44 genes there appeared to be an association between lung cancer and certain genetic differences in the cells.

 The scientists focused their work on an important inflammatory gene and found that individuals with a specific type of gene linked to inflammation had a 21% to 44% lower likelihood of getting lung cancer than those with a different form of the same gene.

 Once again, the key is that the body needs to stay in balance, and if you maintain balance, especially  immune inflammatory homeostasis, your quality of life will be changed forever.

 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/.

 
http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Therapy/angiogenesis-inhibitors
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21751938
http://www.freep.com/article/20121008/FEATURES08/121008047/Scientists-link-gene-to-lower-risk-of-lung-cancer?odyssey=nav%7Chead
http://www.news-medical.net/news/20121008/NFKB1-gene-variant-may-reduce-risk-of-lung-cancer.aspx

The retina is the “flat screen” at the back of the eye onto which light is projected when we look at an object.  The center of the retina is called the macula.  When it is damaged, a condition called  macular degeneration, there is a “hole” at the center of one’s vision, making it difficult to recognize faces, read, or drive a car.

 As people grow older, they are at greater risk of getting macular degeneration.    Risk factors for this condition are:  being Caucasian, obese, female, and having a family history of macular degeneration.  High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and eating few fruits and vegetables, also add to one’s risk.

 However, the greatest known risk of damaging the retina comes from smoking tobacco.  Current and former smokers have 6.6 times the chance of developing macular degeneration as compared to those who never smoked. [Unfortunately, if you smoked one or more packs a day, even having quit 15 years previously, still increases the risk that you will have damaged your retina in some way.]

Even after decades of study, we do not understand the underlying mechanisms of macular degeneration. Increasingly however, the literature suggests that inflammation is a major contributor to destruction of the retina.

Immune system inflammation is the body’s first line of defense against pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites.  Inflammation is also important to control mutating, cancer cells. 

 However, excessive amounts of tissue-damaging inflammation can damage healthy neighboring tissue.  High sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) is a blood marker associated with inflammation, and an indication that too great an inflammatory response is being generated by the immune system.

  A seven year study of hs-CRP levels of 4900 people was conducted in the Netherlands.  Individuals with high levels of C-reactive protein had a significantly greater risk of acquiring macular degeneration compared to those with “normal” baselines of the inflammatory marker. Additionally, other studies suggest that 75% of patients with macular degeneration have “inflammatory” genes that release pro-inflammatory cytokines that are associated with the condition.

 Some clinicians have recommmended using-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to control macular degeneration, yet contradictory studies suggest that frequent aspirin use leads to macular degeneration. 

 We know that high aspirin consumption leads to excessive bleeding in digestive tracts and the eyes.  Perhaps the association of high aspirin use and macular degeneration is due the bleeding aspect of excessive aspirin consumption.

Inflammation is important for our survival, but it must be the appropriate amount of inflammation; it must be a balanced response of just enough inflammation to defend and heal, but not so much that it damages tissues.

Controlling excessive inflammation, without  the  side-effects of medications such as bleeding,  would likely help limit degeneration of the retina.

 www.blindness.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46&Itemid=56

www.ophsource.org/periodicals/ophtha/article/S0161-6420(00)00580-7/abstract

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21920607

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21183941

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17923549

www.csmd.ucsb.edu/news/md_science_article.pdf

Recently a woman going through menopause, pleaded with me for suggestions as to her dealing with hot flashes, mood swings, sudden tears, fatigue, inability to sleep soundly, difficulty in concentrating, mental blocks, and “always forgetting things”.

She had tried many different physicians and approaches, without success. She was “at her wit’s end”.

About 75-85% of woman undergoing menopause complain of “hot flashes”, the sudden sensation of heat that spreads through their bodies, and often resulting in skin turning pinker than usual. Some women say it is a mild, sensation, others say it is a burning sensation, that drives them (and their spouses!) crazy.

Clinicians suggest that symptoms are due to changes in a woman’s hormones as she leaves her reproductive days. However they ignore the fact that the profile of hormones, their quantities and types, may be affecting the inflammatory status of a woman, resulting in symptoms.

Obesity, smoking, and excessive alcohol consumption, increase the likelihood that a woman will experience stronger and more frequent hot flashes when they reach menopause. And genes play a role as well, since women of color, and those carrying a special gene, have hot flashes in greater numbers than other women.

Women who control their weight, do not smoke, and/or limit the amount of alcohol they consume, will helpl reduce runaway inflammation in their bodies, and possibly reduce their menopausal symptoms.

Other approaches that will help balance inflammation,maintain immune homeostasis, are to exercise, which encourages the release by muscle cells of anti-inflammatory molecules, and the daily consumption of two or more servings of hyperimmune egg. This ingredient has been clinically proven to help the body balance inflammation.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22399517
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22073175
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20238396
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16855150

 

Severe nasal reactions to medications, pollen, dander, foods, fragrances, and other environmental stimuli may occur as people age. These responses, often not a true allergic response, are termed vasomotor or nonallergic rhinitis (1), because they are not due to a typical “allergic” response.

Nonallergic rhinitis (“itis” as in inflammation) is associated with increased irritability, problems in focusing, sleep issues, and daytime sleepiness. Also individuals with rhinitis are at higher risk of getting asthma (2).

Hallmarks of nonallergic rhinitis include inflamed sinuses, drippy, congested nose, chronic sneezing or coughing. Nonallergic rhinitis is seen when inflammation occurs in the sinuses of the face, and the nasal membranes and blood vessels in the nose expand filling the lining of the nose with blood and fluids.

According to the Mayo Clinic specific triggers for nonallergic rhinitis also include (3):

Infections: Viral infections can result in nonallergic rhinitis due to postnasal drip and nasal discharge. Facial pain and sinusitis (inflammation and pressure in the sinus cavities of the face) may also be an unwelcome outcome.

Medications: Overuse of decongestant nasal sprays can cause rhinitis as can medications such as sedatives, beta blockers, antidepressants, oral contraceptives, erectile dysfunction drugs, blood pressure medications, aspirin, ibuprofen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Environmental: Strong odors, such as perfumes or cleaning fluids, smoking, secondhand smoke, dust, can become a cause of nonallergic rhinitis.

Foods and beverages: Nonallergic rhinitis may occur when you eat, especially when eating hot or spicy foods. Drinking alcoholic beverages, such as beer and wine, also may cause the membranes inside your nose to swell, leading to nasal congestion.

Weather: Temperature or humidity changes can trigger the membranes inside your nose to swell and cause a runny or stuffy nose. Dr. Rohit Katial, Director of Adult Allergy and Immunology at National Jewish Health, Denver, CO states “Even cold air becomes more problematic as we get older” (1).

Stress and Exercise: Stress and exercise have been shown to induce inflamed sinuses.

Hormonal changes: Changes in hormones due to menstruation or pregnancy, or a autoimmune hormonal conditions.

The majority of inflammatory illnesses result from over production of pro-inflammatory (inflammation enhancing) cytokines, and other immune cellular factors. Our survival on earth depends on the ability of the body to rapidly generate appropriate inflammatory responses to “burn out” pathogens that threaten to destroy us.

The body must be able to modulate the amount of inflammation produced and decrease its intensity as the challenge is met. The key to health is immune homeostasis. We must generate enough of an inflammatory response to meet the threat, but in controlled amounts so that bystander tissues and organs are effected.

1) http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903480904576510302458640840.html
2) http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/874171-overview
3) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/nonallergic-rhinitis/DS00809/DSECTION=causes

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