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“Eczema” is worldwide the most common of chronic (long-lasting) inflammatory skin diseases.  Also called atopic dermatitis [“itis” means inflammation], it is a condition of red, inflamed, burning, itchy patches of skin. In severe cases, people experience blistering, bloody and peeling skin and raw, excruciating pain.

In the United States alone, over 30 million people have been diagnosed with dermatitis, with almost twice as many children having the condition as adults. As with most immune disorders, more females have the condition than males, and hospitalization due to flare-ups of the conditions or associated infections is associated with an 8-year reduction in lifespan.

Individuals with dermatitis are frequently embarrassed when they have an outbreak, and the itching “drives them crazy”. They have tried every approach including medications, acupuncture, herbals, creams, ointments, and different detergents.   Having dermatitis leads to at least 40% of individuals turning down an educational opportunity or job.

 

Caregivers especially report feeling frustrated, helpless, sad and guilty when dermatitis occurs in children, placing the entire family under both emotional and financial stress. There is no medical cure for eczema.

Atopic dermatitis is attributed to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Foods such as dairy, certain nuts, soy, wheat, and allergens such as dust mites, pets, pollens have all been implicated. Additionally there are more than 80,000 chemicals registered for use today in the USA. The bottom line is that researchers do not know what causes dermatitis.

What is known, is that atopic dermatitis is a sign that the immune system, via its  inflammatory cells, is overreacting to some agent, and in the process of trying to protect itself, damages by-stander skin cells (autoinflammatory).

In moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, high numbers of inflammatory cells are found both in inflamed and unaffected skin, as well as in the blood. Long term, chronic inflammation leads to skin lesions, blisters and the other symptoms with which people with dermatitis suffer.

As Dr. Eric Simpson, a member of The American Academy of Dermatology has said, “We may not have a cure for atopic dermatitis just yet …[but] tackling inflammation is key.”

Suggestion:

There is no medical treatment for eczema however individuals that have been able to achieve immune balance, homeostasis, have found significant differences in their skin health.

Achieve balance by being physically active 4-6 days a week, consume a smart diet, maintain a healthy weight, do not smoke, or drink in excess.  Do take walks outdoors and add a proven immune balancing supplement to your daily diet and see and feel the difference.

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).
https://medlineplus.gov/eczema.html
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/14417.php
https://www.jacionline.org/article/S0091-6749(17)30205-1/pdf
http://www.jiaci.org/summary/vol28-issue6-num1694
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/it-could-take-centuries-for-epa-to-test-all-the-unregulated-chemicals-under-a-new-landmark-bill
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30576754

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Lyme disease is the fastest growing vector-borne, infectious disease in the United States with a 25 fold increase in the number of cases since surveillance of the disease began in 1982. World-wide, there are over 300 strains of these bacteria, many of which tolerate antibiotics and are able to evade immune cells.

Tick Borne Infections:
Lyme disease is associated with infected ticks and may be contacted after engaging in outdoor activities. The infected ticks bite through the skin of a person or animal, getting a blood meal and introducing the bacteria into the body. (Typically the tick has to be attached for 36 or more hours before the bacteria is passed to the host.) Symptoms may include: skin rash and painful inflammation of joints (particularly the knees) and be accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue and chills.

Diagnostic Testing:
Diagnostic tests are only 29-40% accurate in the first three weeks after infection. Once the infection spreads to the nervous system and joints, accuracy increases. After treatment, even when test results are “negative”, live organisms may still be found in organs. Early treatment with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications are helpful, but if left untreated, joints, heart, brain, muscles and brain may become involved– sometimes months or years later.

Nervous System Involvement:
About 15 percent of patients with Lyme disease develop nervous system (spine, brain, etc.) inflammation. This event is accompanied by debilitating and painful muscle and joint symptoms and major neurologic changes such as facial nerve palsy, pain radiating along the back into the legs and feet, limb pain, sensory loss and/or muscle weakness.

Inflammation results in injuries to the brain and spinal cord and may result in severe headaches, fatigue, memory loss, learning disability, depression and cognitive problems.

Inflammatory immune factors are increased in the body, recruiting more inflammatory white blood cells into the brain and the spinal cord. The healthy immune cells that protect nerve cells are damaged or destroyed by the inflammation. No longer protected, nerve cells are damaged even more.

Lingering Symptoms:
A major issue with tick-borne infections is that even after treatment; up to 25% of individuals may have persistent painful joint inflammation and other symptoms lasting months or years.

There are two factors that may account for this:
a) Small numbers of bacteria remain which the immune system has not been able to successfully eliminate.
b)Once the infection is over, traces of long-lasting bacterial proteins are found within and around the joints. These proteins trigger inflammatory responses resulting in significant joint, muscle and nerve pain. It is the body’s immune response to these residual proteins, rather than a lingering infection that results in symptoms.

Summary:
As always, the key to an active quality of life is to help the body maintain immune balance– its homeostasis. Exercise (suggested: 2.5 hours a week), maintaining a healthy weight, eating smart, going outdoors for a few minutes a day, and taking an excellent immune support product will make all the difference in one’s health.

 

Achieving immune homeostasis will make a difference in your life. Contact me, DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info, use the form or give me a call at 302.265.3870 and let us talk.

http://www.ilads.org/lyme/lyme-quickfacts.php
http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/signs_symptoms/index.html
https://www.statnews.com/2017/06/28/early-lyme-tests/
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www.hopkinsarthritis.org/arthritis-info/lyme-disease/
ajp.amjpathol.org/article/S0002-9440(15)00123-6/fulltext
news.yale.edu/2012/06/25/even-after-lyme-disease-gone-its-remains-may-perpetuate-inflammation
www.news-medical.net/news/20171214/Study-Living-Lyme-disease-bacteria-found-months-after-antibiotic-treatment.aspx

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

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

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

Butterfly rash

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr.Hellen is passionate about helping people enjoy life at its fullest. She may be contacted by using this form, contacting her at: drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info or feel free to call her at:  302.265.3870 (ET, USA).
www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/lupus/lupus_ff.asp
www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2011/432595/
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www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28432856

 

An article in a recent trade publication opened with the following: “Charles couldn’t believe the intensity of the pain – and he had been shot during a tour in Iraq with the Marines. “I was lying in my sleeper and my big toe just went on fire. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. I thought I was going to pass out from the pain,” Charles explained. “My big toe was red, swollen and when I touched it, even a little, it hurt like hell”. Charles’ problem is that he suffers from gout.

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

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

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

Inflammation

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

gouty toe

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

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

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

 Summary:

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

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

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

www.nature.com/icb/journal/v88/n1/full/icb200999a.html
fleetowner.com/driver-management-resource-center/truck-drivers-crosshairs-gout
www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/booming/why-do-i-have-gout.html
rheumatology.oxfordjournals.org/content/44/9/1090.short
www.hopkinsarthritis.org/ask-the-expert/heredity-and-gout/
www.uptodate.com/contents/gout-beyond-the-basics
www.internationaljournalofcardiology.com/article/S0167-5273(15)30342-9/abstract?cc=y=
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28093417
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25332119
www.hindawi.com/journals/mi/2015/680853/

 

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

STRESS AND INFLAMMATION

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

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

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

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

stress-and-inflammation

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

CONTROLLING INFLAMMATION AND STRESS 

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

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

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

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

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

Graphic adapted from: Johanna Bendell, MD, with thanks.
www.psychcentral.com/holidays/
www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20047544
www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2006/12/women-stress.aspx
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27859423
www.jci.org/articles/view/25102
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12480495
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24062448
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27862176

 

Last week I talked with a young local Asian-American business owner who shared with me that he was “a little fatigued and stressed out”. I suggested that if he took steps to getting his immune system in balance, that since our physical and emotional well-being is dependent on homeostasis, he would feel much better.

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

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

Nutritional Recommendations:

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

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

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

Role of the Immune System

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

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

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

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

The Importance of a Balanced Immune System

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

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

    Scales Immune Reponses Partial

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

  

nutrition.ucdavis.edu/content/infosheets/fact-pro-phytochemical.pdf
www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/fish
www.harvardprostateknowledge.org/high-intake-of-omega-3-fats-linked-to-increased-prostate-cancer-risk
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17047219?dopt=Citation
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22893204
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www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27357102

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

www.cdc.gov/mmwr/index.html
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www.cdc.gov/media/dpk/2013/images/untreatable/img2_sm.jpg
www.bbc.com/news/health-35427493

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
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25905315
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26589194
http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/43120/title/Brain-Drain/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26705751
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25682012

 

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

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

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

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

LONELINESS AND ANHEDONIA

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

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

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

BRAIN REGIONS COMMUNICATE WITH ONE ANOTHER

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

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

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

DOPAMINE
Dopamine, which is produced brain cells, is strongly associated with the brain’s pleasure/reward regions. Dopamine helps us feel enjoyment and motivates us to participate in or continue to engage in activities that give us pleasure.

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

THE LINK BETWEEN PHYSICAL ACTIVITY AND DEPRESSION

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

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

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

SUMMARY

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

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

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/11/29/457255876/loneliness-may-warp-our-genes-and-our-immune-systems
medicalxpress.com/news/2015-11-cellular-symphony-responsible-autoimmune-disease.html
http://www.news-medical.net/news/20151121/Brain-imaging-reveals-distinctive-aspects-of-high-inflammation-depression.aspx
http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp2015168a.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26360770
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26272539
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24286171
http://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(15)00786-X/abstract
http://www.news-medical.net/news/20151030/Study-shows-link-between-physical-activity-and-depression-in-patients-at-risk-for-heart-disease.aspx
http://neuroscience.mssm.edu/nestler/brainRewardpathways.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26302141
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3181880/
www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/11/18/1514249112.full.pdfcause-illness-and-early-death.html
www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-compass-pleasure/201104/exercise-pleasure-and-the-brain
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/11/18/1514249112.abstract
www.psychologistworld.com/biological/neurotransmitters/dopamine.php

For over two decades I have noticed that individuals in immune homeostasis, immune balance, are on fewer medications or no medications than their cohorts, and the majority of them look and feel 10 years younger than other people their age. Comparing photos of how these individuals look now with photos as how they looked 10-20 years ago, it is amazing how great they look! Their youthfulness is especially apparent when I compare these photos to those of individuals that have not made the effort to control inflammation.

Too many older individuals suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, cognition deficits, Parkinson’s disease, lung, kidney, and bladder problems. Over the years there have been numerous studies associating chronic (long-term) inflammation with the development of mutating cells and cancers. However because of the time it takes to do longevity studies it is difficult to prove that limiting inflammation makes a difference in how well people age.

Just this month, a team of scientists from Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan and the Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing in the UK published a study of the immune status of over 1500 individuals ranging in age from 100-115 years.

The study group was divided into two: centenarians, 100-104 years of age, and semi-supercentenarians aged 105 and above. The result was that these long-lived individuals had lower levels of inflammation as compared to the general public.  

Dr. von Zglinicki, one of the investigators, said, “Centenarians and supercentenarians are different – put simply, they age slower. They can ward off diseases for much longer than the general population… it’s only recently we could mechanistically prove that inflammation actually causes accelerated ageing in mice…This study, showing for the first time that inflammation levels predict successful ageing even in the extreme old….”

Dr. Yasumichi Arai, the first author on the study said, “Our results suggest that suppression of chronic inflammation might help people to age more slowly…However, presently available potent anti-inflammatories [medications] are not suited for long-term treatment of chronic inflammation because of their strong side-effects. Safer alternatives could make a large difference for the quality of life of older people.

As I have pointed out for decades, controlling the delicate balance of inflammatory responses, i.e., achieving immune homeostasis, makes all the difference in one’s youthfulness and quality of life.

P.S.  My post of May 20, 2013 also discusses the role of inflammation in longevity.

Please contact me directly if you would like to learn simple approaches to making a difference in your health.
http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press.office/press.release/item/scientists-crack-the-secret-of-the-centenarians
http://www.ebiomedicine.com/article/S2352-3964(15)30081-5/fulltext
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26265203
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26263854

 

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a disease in which the tiny air sacs or “alveoli” that make up the lungs become inflamed and are gradually replaced by scar tissue (fibrosis).  As the amount of scar tissue increases, the lungs stiffen and are unable to transfer oxygen from the lungs to the blood stream. This results in the brain and other organs becoming oxygen deprived.

As  IPF progresses, day-to-day activities such as walking short distances, climbing stairs, dressing, or even talking on the phone become a problem because the person cannot catch their breath (dyspnea).  The person feels as if they are suffocating and may require supplemental oxygen.

Advanced idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis makes people more susceptible to getting and fighting infections.

The term “ idiopathic” suggests that clinicians do not know what causes the disease.  Lung inflammation may be triggered by infection with pathogens, airborne hazards, or certain types of medical treatments.  Exposed to these types of challenges, the immune system boosts its inflammatory response to attack the pathogens and remove hazards or damaged tissues.  In a vicious cycle, the uncontrolled inflammation results in greater lung damage.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis may be considered an inflammatory autoimmune disease.  Autoimmune (meaning against oneself) conditions result from the body’s overactive, defensive, inflammatory reactions to an immune challenge.  The  body’s own immune cells mistakenly attack and destroy previously healthy by-stander tissues or organs, very much like a forest fire damages healthy trees.

The body responds to injury by forming scar tissue, made mainly of the key protein collagen. Pulmonary fibrosis results in inflammation and scarring that occurs again and again.  It is an imbalance between the build-up of scars, and the breakdown of collagen that is needed for tissue repair.  In IPF, lungs with old scar tissue is found layered over old damage, while fresh scarring is seen over more recent damage.

 Lung damage in IPF patients is due to imbalances between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines, immune messengers generated in response to substances or circumstances that initiated the lung damage in the first place.  Imbalances of cytokines results in more and more fibrosis.

Individuals with IPF may find that if they are able to control the amount of inflammation produced by their immune systems, if they can stay in homeostasis, balance,  their quality of life may change for the better.

Please contact Dr. Hellen if you wish her assistance in changing your quality of life. There is no fee for her services.  She may be contacted by using this form or at: 302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

 

www.coalitionforpf.org/cytokine-functions/
www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ipf
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26132817
www.immuneworks.com/autoimmune-lung-diseases/idiopathic-pulmonary-fibrosis-ipf-treatments
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26150910
faculty.ksu.edu.sa/hadilalotair/Chests%20Library/IPF.pdf

 

 

Mutating cells and invasion by pathogens triggers inflammatory responses in the body.  Inflammation consists of a series of events involving cytokines (immune messages), other immune factors, and circulating white blood cells. Uncontrolled levels of inflammation damages healthy tissues and organs.

Excessive inflammation of the eyes may result in sight-threatening condition.

Uveitis
Uveitis describes a group of eye inflammatory diseases.  Symptoms can develop gradually over a few days, or occur suddenly. Symptoms may include: photophobia (sensitivity to light), cloudy or blurred vision, increased floaters, difficulty in vision focus, headaches, “red eye” with pain ranging from a mild ache to intense pain, and loss of peripheral vision (ability to see objects at the side of one’s field of vision). Severe uveitis may lead to permanent damage to vision.

Many cases of eye tissue inflammation are “idiopathic”, i.e., without a known trigger.  Some clinicians suggest that uveitis is caused by:  a) autoimmune responses in which the body’s immune system mistakenly targets and attacks its own eye tissues, b) infections or cancer, c) trauma to the eye, or d) exposure to toxins.  Uveitis is more likely to occur in individuals that have other immune and inflammatory conditions.

Ebola and Uveitis
Two months after an American physician was treated for Ebola, and despite the fact that the virus was no longer detectable in his blood, there were high levels of Ebola virus in his eye. His eye infection was accompanied by an intense inflammatory reaction, uveitis. After much effort, the physician was successfully treated and thankfully  did not lose his sight.

In a study of 85 Ebola Virus Disease survivors in Sierra Leone, 40% reported that they had some sort of “eye problem”. (It is not known whether they also had uveitits.)

Retinitis Pigmentosa
Retinitis pigmentosa is a genetic disorder in which the light-sensitive retina, the “screen” at the back of the eye that captures images, becomes damaged .  Its photoreceptors,  rods and cones, begin to die off resulting in a  loss of vision.  This condition may end in blindness.

There are conflicting opinions as to whether inflammation plays a major role in this disease.

One study that support the contention that immune responses are involved in retinitis pigmentosa measured the levels of TNF-alpha.  TNF-alpha is a cytokine, that among other functions, helps regulate immunological responses. Depending on when and how much of the cytokine is produced , TNF-alpha may be pro-inflammatory (initiate inflammation), or anti-inflammatory (inhibit inflammation).   In animals with uveitis-like conditions, the levels of TNF-alpha in the eye are  increased between 5-10 fold over control animals.

Also,  in retinitis pigmentosa, immune white blood cells are attracted to the retina, perhaps to clean up debris from dying cells. Some investigators suggest that when these immune cells are overly stimulated, they initiate an autoimmune response, destroying other light-sensing centers in the retina.

Immune Homeostasis, Immune Balance
Immune inflammation is essential to defend the body against cancerous cells and invading microorganisms.  However, the appropriate levels of  “protective” cytokines are needed to balance the “destructive” cytokines produced in the eye so that it can maintain immune homeostasis, immune balance. Unchecked inflammation results in tissue damage and an inability of the body to mount stable and proper immune responses in the face of various challenges.

Dr. Hellen is available at 302.265.3870 for discussion on the role of inflammation and immune homeostasis in one’s health.  There is no charge to speak with her.  She may be contacted at: drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info, or use the contact form.  Thank you.

 www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014483502003329
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24174679
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24639355
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23608634
eyewiki.aao.org/Retinitis_Pigmentosa
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22986109
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21787221
www.nhs.uk/conditions/Uveitis/Pages/Introduction.aspx
www.nei.nih.gov/health/uveitis
www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1500306#t=article
www.nytimes.com/2015/05/08/health/weeks-after-his-recovery-ebola-lurked-in-a-doctors-eye.html?smid=tw-nytimes&_r=0

 

Parkinson’s is a disease of the nervous system that affects mobility, memory, and cognition.  Individuals may eventually experience rigid muscles, tremors of the limbs and head, loss of muscle control, monotonous speech levels, and a slow, shuffling gait.

Individuals tend to develop the disease as they age. Having a close relative with Parkinson’s disease (PD) increases the likelihood of developing Parkinson’s, with men more than 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease than females.

Although the causes of Parkinson’s disease are not clear, a recent study suggests that individuals with a specific gene are at a higher risk of getting Parkinson’s disease if they were exposed to pyrethroids, a class of chemicals found in the majority of household insecticides.  Exposure of individuals to these pesticides may result in brain tissue inflammation.

Inflammation and Autoimmune Responses

In Parkinson’s disease, the body mounts an inflammatory response against its own brain cells, its dopaminergic neurons. (An immune response against oneself is called an autoimmune response.)

These specialized brain cells produce a biochemical called dopamine with many functions including controlling bodily movements, memory, ability to think, mood, and learning.  The body’s long-lasting inflammatory response against its own nervous cells gradually destroys the dopaminergic neurons resulting in abnormal dopamine levels and brain activity, symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease.

Microglial cells are specialized immune cells located in the brain. They are considered the “canary in the mine”.  When microglial cells sense a threat, they become “activated” and release immune factors that may, depending on the types and amounts of these molecules, be beneficial or cause damage to nerve cells.

Activated microglial cells are found in large numbers in the brains of Parkinson’s patients, along with high levels of cytokines, biochemical molecules responsible for inflammation.

The brain and spine of the nervous system are cushioned by cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid helps to provide nutrients to the nervous system and removes waste products from the brain.

Individuals with Parkinson’s disease have high levels of immune inflammatory molecules in their spinal fluid.  The more concentrated the molecules, the more likely the person is to severe fatigue, depression, and cognitive impairment.

Summary

Certain genes that control immune system responses are also strongly linked with the development of Parkinson’s disease.

Increasingly, scientific studies suggest that inflammation and autoimmune responses result in Parkinson’s disease.

Helping the body limit out-of-control inflammation, and achieving a more homeostatic, more balanced immune response, may go a long way towards changing the quality of life in individuals with Parkinson’s.

Feel free to contact Dr. Hellen. There is no fee for speaking with her. Dr. Hellen may be contacted by using this form or at: 302.265.3870 (ET).

 www.nature.com/npjparkd/
www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1357272504003711
physrev.physiology.org/content/91/2/461
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25757798
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25769314
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22166438
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25215472
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22814707
www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/265378.php

Borrelia burgdorferi, is a bacterial infection that results from an infected tick, originally from mammals or birds, biting and injecting the microorganism into a human host. Individuals treated early in infection are likely to recover completely; however, delaying treatment may result in long recovery times, or result in disease that will last for years, or for life.

Infection Affects Multiple Organ Systems
Lyme disease can affect any organ or multiple systems including, skin, joints, nervous system, muscles, and skin. Early symptoms are a red, expanding rash, erythema migrans, that often appears at the tick bite site, and flu-like symptoms such as body aches, fever, chills, headache, and fatigue.

Left untreated, unfocused severe pain may, irregular heart beat and other heart problems, chronic inflammation of the joints (especially the knees, i.e., Lyme arthritis), liver inflammation (hepatitis) and eye problems. Unremitting fatigue, memory problems, and brain “fog” may also accompany the disease.

Incomplete recovery from Lyme disease may result in significant neurological problems, including Bell’s palsy (paralysis of one side of the face), weakness or numbness of limbs, impaired muscle movement, and meningitis (inflammation of brain membranes).

Twenty to fifty percent of patients with neurological issues may continue to experience difficulties for years.

Immune Responses to Lyme Infection
The extent of recovery from Lyme disease depends on factors such as the numbers of bacteria initially injected and the types of immune responses triggered by the infection.

As with healing from most infections, recovery from Lyme disease is a highly complex process requiring the correct interplay of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines, immune regulating molecules. Successful recovery requires a homeostatic, a balanced immune attack with enough inflammation to kill the organism without damaging by-stander cells and organs.

For example, the cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) stimulates inflammation but is also, depending on what the body needs, able to decrease inflammatory responses. (IL-6 is also triggers pain receptors and helps nerve cells regenerate.) Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) is another cytokine that helps the body control the amount of inflammation produced in response to infection.

Another cytokine, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) is an inflammatory cytokine that stimulates certain immune cells to find, engulf, and digest invading organisms. Mice susceptible to Lyme disease are unable to manufacture enough of this factor which may account for their susceptibility.

In humans as well, patients that were recovering well had significantly higher levels of tumor necrosis factor-α compared to those with on-going disease. Once again, these responses likely reflect the powerful inflammatory response that helps the body eliminate the disease.

Additionally, recovering infected individuals had higher levels of transforming growth factor than individuals with severe symptoms. These findings suggest that transforming growth factor was successfully limiting the amount of inflammation being produced in response to infection.

Similarly, in mice with Lyme arthritis, animals that did best were those in which high TNF-α cytokine levels helped kill the bacteria, followed by an aggressive IL-6 response that dampened the inflammatory response.

In further support of these findings, patients with rashes (early infection) had high levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine, transforming growth factor, as compared to those who had more severe neurological involvement.

Conclusion:
The body uses inflammatory responses to protect itself from infection and heal itself. Inflammation helps the body destroy organisms, almost as if the body was “burning” the infection out. However, just like a forest fire, if inflammation is not well controlled the person with Lyme disease may suffer symptoms for years or for life. This is why it is essential for the body to produce a balanced, immune inflammatory response to infection.

 

Contact Dr. Hellen at: 302.265.3870 (ET), DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info, or by using the contact form: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen.


www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/lyme-disease/basics/definition/con-20019701
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1782772/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23945160
www.youtube.com/watch?v=xuTlC_0KzGU VIDEO
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2991005/

(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

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
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www.fasebj.org/content/27/12/4757

People who are heavy and are not physically active, are at greater risk for conditions such as: increased blood sugar, higher pressures on their artery walls (high blood pressure), increased rate and workload on the heart, stroke, joint problems, sleep disorders, difficulty breathing, and even certain types of  cancer.

There are other posts on this blog relevant to the issue of being overweight or obese, but there is little question that most individuals would feel a lot better if they were only 5 or 10 pounds lighter.

When compared to leaner people, adipose tissue, the fat deposits of obese individuals, have higher numbers of, and larger, fat cells.  These cells produce cytokines, immune factors, that are inflammatory in nature and trigger numerous inflammatory conditions including many mentioned above.

Adipose tissue has “immune-like” properties.  For example, macrophages, white blood cells which alert the body to the presence of invaders, are found in high numbers in fat cell clusters.  Additionally, obese individuals have been shown to have  increased levels of proteins in the blood stream that stimulate inflammation.  Overweight or obese people do not fight infections or heal as well as individuals at more appropriate weights.

 The following hypothesis may have validity.  The immune system may “see” components of adipose tissue as “foreign material” that must be eliminated from the body.  If this scenario is correct, when the body “battles” adipose tissue an autoimmune response is triggered, a response in which the immune system destroys its own tissues, resulting in high levels of inflammation. My hypothesis is supported by the fact that obese individuals produce high levels of autoantibody, antibodies against their own tissues. Rather than resulting from inflammation, these autoantibodies may be the trigger for inflammation.

Muscle cells, like fat cells, secrete cytokines, molecules which help the body regulate inflammatory responses. In response to exercise, many different types of cytokines are produced by muscles and other cells.  Cytokine measurements taken after a marathon demonstrated 100 fold increases of certain cytokines, whereas other cytokines were produced that typically dampen an inflammatory response.

The wide spectrum of immune factors that the body produces in response to physical activity helps the body maintain a steady state of inflammation, an immune balance that helps the body defend itself against infection and helps healing, but not so much that innocent by-stander tissues are damaged.  In fact, studies have shown that individuals that are overweight, nevertheless may be healthy, if they are maintain a level of physical fitness.

The bodies of overweight and obese individuals are consistently exposed to self-generated, inappropriate levels of inflammation.  Helping the body return to a healthy balance of immune responses, a state of homeostasis, will go a long ways towards changing their quality of life.

I would be pleased to hear from you if you are interested in changing your quality of life.  I can be contacted at: drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info or at:  302.265.3870 USA ET.

 


diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/56/6/1517.full

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14679176
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In a previous post, I discussed the role of excessive inflamation in thalassemia,  a blood disorder in which individuals suffer from low numbers of red blood cells and hemoglobulin levels. This post focuses on another blood disorder that results in low hemoglobulin levels, sickle cell anemia.

Abnormal Red Blood Cells
Normally, blood cells are rounded, disc-shaped, and flexible enough to move easily through blood vessels.  In contrast, people with sickle cell anemia have crescent, sickle-shaped, red blood cells that are stiff and sticky, and tend to become “stuck” in various tight spots in blood vessels.  This blocks blood flow leading to pain and organ damage from inflammation in response to the blockages.  Additionally, since their hemoglobin structure is abnormal, the red blood cells are unable to carry their full complement of oxygen throughout the body, resulting in oxygen deficits.

Red blood cells typically live for about 4 months in the blood stream, but sickle cells die after only 10-20 days.  Individuals with sickle cell anemia, cannot make fresh red blood cells fast enough to replace the dying red blood cells.  The lack of oxygen leads to fatigue, feelings of weakness, shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, cold hands and feet, pale mucous membranes, and a yellowish tinge to skin or the whites of the eyes. 

Pain Crises
Perhaps the most devastating symptom that many individuals with sickle cell anemia experience is excruciating pain that lasts for hours, weeks, or months. These are called “pain crises”. Painful crises are the leading cause of emergency room visits and hospital stays for people who have sickle cell anemia.

The pain results from inflammation and damage to blood vessels by the sickled cells.  When the red blood cells block the flow of blood to limbs and organs, immune cells come into the area and release inflammatory cytokines, immune molecules that result in a vicious cycle of more inflammation and pain.

Some individuals experience these crises a few times a year,  others may more frequent episodes.  Repeated crises can damage the bones, joints, kidneys, lungs, eyes, heart, and liver.  Moreover, in children, damage to their spleen, an immune organ, can leave them more susceptible to infection.

Cascade of Inflammation
Inflammation not only plays a major role in damaging blood vessels, but the immune cells release inflammatory cytokines, molecules that trigger inflammation,  and biological compounds that cause cells to become “sticky”.  The blocked blood flow leads to pain and other health issues.

When compared to those without sickle cell disease, individuals with sickle cell anemia have different profiles of messenger cytokines.  For example IL-6,  which helps the body return to immune balance, immune homeostasis,  is at significantly higher levels in sickle cell anemia patients.

Summary
Inappropriate levels of inflammation pose major challenges for the quality of life of individuals with sickle cell disease.  A rational approach to benefiting individuals with sickle cell is to help their bodies achieve inflammatory homeostasis, immune balance.

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

http://umm.edu/health/medical/reports/articles/sickle-cell-disease
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8746787
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/gene/3569
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24383847
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24589266
http://arthritis-research.com/content/8/S2/S3
 

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