Header image

The function of hundreds of genes and numerous biological pathways are affected by being physically active.  Too many individuals, especially health practitioners, fail to appreciate the dominant role exercise plays in maintaining the body’s immune homeostasis, its balance. Being physically active decreases the risk of chronic inflammatory conditions such as diabetes, depression, atherosclerosis, and certain cancers.

CYTOKINE PRODUCTION

Fat cells (adipose tissue) produce pro-inflammatory cytokines, immune messages that increase the levels of inflammation in the body–inflammation which contributes to chronic disease. Upon contraction, muscles release anti-inflammatory cytokines that help the body counteract inflammation.  Muscle-generated anti-inflammatory cytokines help the body balance its levels of inflammation. Consistent physical activity also helps increase immune responses to pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and mold. Even modest amount of physical activity changes the ratios of cytokines to healthful numbers. 

In formerly sedentary people, 10 months of moderate walking resulted in a 16%-32% decrease in various inflammatory proteins. In another study, using resistance bands resulted in increases in the anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10, along with an increase in cognitive functioning.  Even light activity (2–4 hours of walking-type activity/week) has been associated with better inflammatory balance.

“BRAIN-IMMUNE-GUT” AXIS

There is a “brain-immune-gut” axis. It can be a vicious cycle during which stress increases inflammation and inflammation results in more stress. Being stressed affects not only one’s emotional well-being but also hormonal, nervous and digestive status. 

The microbiome, the community of organisms found on and in the body greatly influences our health. Significant crosstalk between the microbiome and the immune system results in each system affecting the other in both function and composition. Physical activity modifies the gut microbiome which in turn affects muscle, immune and brain function.
The release of anti-inflammatory immune factors not only decreases inflammation throughout the body, but it also promotes the release of brain and gut biochemicals such as dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, biochemicals that involved in mood and gut regulation. 

Unhealthy Older Individuals

Poor aging is the result of cumulative effects of imbalances of inflammation. These individuals exhibit high levels of inflammatory cytokines which contribute to problems such as muscle weakness, neurological problems including Alzheimer’s Disease. Elderly people that remain physically active, have reduced levels of inflammation and a better quality of life with fewer chronic conditions than individuals that are not active.

Summary:

Regular physical activity suppresses inflammation by increasing the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines and inhibiting inflammation. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26978184 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5467003/ https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/risks-of-physical-inactivity http://eir-isei.de/2019/eir-2019-084-article.pdf https://www.amjmed.com/article/S0002-9343(06)00782-0/fulltext https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression-and-exercise/art-20046495 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3320801/ https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/exercise-is-an-all-natural-treatment-to-fight-depression
https://journals.lww.com/acsm-essr/Fulltext/2019/04000/Exercise_and_the_Gut_Microbiome__A_Review_of_the.4.aspx
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2803113/ https://drhellengreenblatt.info/archives/1571

Back pain is one of the most common health complaints among adults in the US. From 75-80% of individuals will suffer from lower back pain sometime in their lives.

Symptoms of back pain include shooting or stabbing pains in the back, limited mobility, and/or pain that radiates down the leg.

The majority of individuals experiencing back pain will become more comfortable within days or weeks without medical treatment. Some people however may experience chronic pain lasting 2-3 months or more.  Nonetheless, all low back pain results in major economic and social repercussions for both sufferers and society.

 

DrHellen 2018 (c)

There is no known cause of the pain in approximately 90% of patients; it is what is termed “idiopathic”.  However, sitting too long or doing a physical task incorrectly may trigger back problems.  The lack of physical activity, excess weight, genetics and the physical demands of a job also contribute to lower back pain. Sedentary lifestyles are associated with 1.41 times greater risk of developing back pain. Individuals that are not physically active, are 1.23 times more likely to develop lower back pain.

Individuals with back pain frequently have the same anatomically “abnormalities” as people without back complaints. Patients with occupation-related back pain who had magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of their back were 8 times more likely to get surgery as those who had just x-rays. Since symptoms do not correlate with imaging testing, many practitioners will not recommend imaging testing within the first six weeks of pain (unless there is a strong suspicion of other underlying conditions)..

Inflammation in the body is tightly regulated, involving signals that initiate and maintain inflammation and others that turn inflammation off. Imbalances between the two, lead to unchecked inflammation.

Inflammation causes pain, and pain causes more inflammation.  When the body hurts, inflammatory cytokines, immune molecules, are triggered that initiate the healing process. The release in the spinal cord of certain cytokines is associated with inflamed nerves and pain.

CRP (C-reactive protein) is a biological marker of inflammation. Individuals with the most severe lower back pain have nearly twice the amount of CRP levels as those with less pain.

Back surgery may relieve some causes of back pain, but it’s rarely necessary. Most back pain resolves on its own. There are a number of treatments that are used to reduce inflammation and pain: nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), epidural steroid injections, topically applied creams or sprays, and for some, hot and cold packs.

One of the best approaches to relieving lower back pain is exercise, especially McKenzie exercises [find the exercise best for you on YouTube].  Individuals that do back exercises find significant relief and if practiced consistently will find that their backs will be strengthened and they will have less discomfort.

[As previous posts have suggested, backed by clinical trials, exercise increases naturally-occurring anti-inflammatory cytokines and can provide significant and faster relief to those suffering with lower back pain.]

Summary:

The key to healing is a balanced immune response.  The body needs the right amount of inflammation to heal, but too much inflammation results in illness.

If you want to change how you feel, contact Dr. Hellen. No fee is charged for the first 30 minutes of consultation. Dr. Hellen may be  contacted by using this form or calling:  302.265.3870 (ET-USA).
mayohealthhighlights.startribune.com/2017/09/22/low-back-pain-caused-by-spinal-degeneration-and-injury/
www.statista.com/topics/4333/back-pain-in-the-us/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19407734
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4137474/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29740548
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23270761
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5931150

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

From the time of the ancient Greeks, it has been clear that the mind-gut-body connection influences one’s health; however, only during the last century have we begun to understand why this is the case.

With new tools, scientists can show that there is cross-talk between the brain, the gut and the immune system.  Immune molecules from white blood cells send messages to the brain and the gut and in turn, these organs signal back to the immune system, up-regulating (increase) or down-regulating (decrease) inflammation.

 Image stress stomach immune system brain

©2017 Dr. H. C. Greenblatt

Chronic, long-term stress, affects immune cells by changing their gene activity.  This prepares them to fight infection or trauma and increases inflammation. More immune cells are then enlisted for the fight, resulting in increased inflammation.

Inflammation is necessary for survival, but too much inflammation is linked to heart and autoimmune disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer.  This is why it is essential to maintain the right balance of signals.

Stress responses are part of a vicious cycle in which stress triggers inflammation and inflammation triggers additional stress.

In stressed mice, there are four times the numbers of immune cells than found in non-stressed mice.  Additionally in mice that are stressed 1100 genes are responsible for increasing (up-regulating) inflammation.  These genes in non-stressed mice are not activated.

Similar outcomes are seen in humans under chronic stress. For weeks and months following natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes,  individuals, especially those who have suffered great personal loss, have imbalances of the immune system that affects them both physically and emotionally.

The immune system and its inflammatory responses are in exquisite balance (homeostasis).  The body expands much of its energy maintaining its balance in a steady state.  This may be the reason that people who are stressed out tend to be “tired a lot of the time”.

Let us say that your immune system consists of 30 billion cells and that 15 billion of these cells are in the attack mode with excessive inflammation (up-regulation).  Let us propose that another 15 billion cells are trying to limit the inflammatory response (down-regulation).

A total of 30 billion cells expending a “trivial” amount of energy is a great deal of wasted energy. No wonder people become exhausted when they are not in homeostasis, balance.

CONCLUSION:

The key to reducing stress  is to help the immune system return to homeostasis, to its natural balance.

To better manage stress especially during the holidays:  incorporate an immune support supplement into your daily diet, be physically active 2-2.5 hours/week, spend time outdoors, eat smart, stay within healthy weight limits and remember that you are only one person—be kind to yourself; give yourself a break.

Achieving immune homeostasis will make all the difference in the quality of your emotional and physical well-being. 

Contact Dr. Hellen at: DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info, use the form or give her a call at 302.265.3870 (ET, USA) at no charge to you. 



http://www.uppitysciencechick.com/glaser_stress_immune_dysfunction.pdf
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29064542
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27319971
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24608036
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22790082

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/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3320801/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28507328
www.hopkinslupus.org/lupus-treatment/lupus-medications/antimalarial-drugs/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28521867
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28491039
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28477898
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28432856

 

The second leading cause of death for people under the age of 44 years is suicide. Overall, it is the the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, with veterans comprising 22.2% of this statistic.  Women are three times more likely to attempt suicide, but for every woman who takes her own life, four men will die from their attempt.

Although older adults make up only 12% of the population in the States, they account for 18% of all suicides. These fatal events in the elderly are probably under-reported by 40% with “silent suicides”, dehydration, “accidents”, medication over doses, etc. ending in death.  Additionally, double suicides involving spouses or partners occur most frequently in this population. Since the elderly are the fastest growing segment of the population, these later-life deaths are predicted to result in suicide becoming a major public health issue in the too-near future.

Inflammation and Suicide

C-reactive protein (CRP) is associated with high levels of inflammation found in people with inflammatory disorders, burn and trauma victims, in obese individuals, in people with infections or with cardiovascular disease. People with suicidal thoughts (known as suicidal ideation) or attempts, also exhibit high levels of C-reactive protein compared to people without such behaviors.

Inflammatory factors are triggered during stress and are associated with depression.

image

When compared to patients being treated for psychiatric disorders who are not suicidal, individuals who have contemplated or attempted suicide have increased levels of inflammatory cytokines, immune cell molecules in their blood and/or brain.

The ratio of inflammatory molecules to anti-inflammatory molecules in the body either promotes inflammation or limits it.  A healthy immune system constantly strives to maintain these factors in a delicate balance, in immune homeostasis. 

Importance of Balancing Immune Factors

Imbalances in immune regulators are harmful and lead to disease. Taking the following steps should make a major difference in helping the body and mind return to homeostasis, to its natural, healthy balance:

  • Engage in physical activity at least 30 minutes a day 5 days/week.
  • Add one or more daily servings of a superior immune support supplement to your diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Eat a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Spend some time outdoors.

For decades I have helped people enhance their quality of life.  I can be contacted at: DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info, use this form or give me a call at 302.265.3870 (ET USA) and let us talk. Your first 30 minutes are on me!  You’ve tried everyone and everything else, let me help you feel good again, you deserve it!

 
afsp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2016-National-Facts-Figures.pdf

www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1043466615300090

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28211584

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28135675

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27824355

www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(14)00794-X/fulltext

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/

 

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

Asthma is an inflammatory condition which affects the lungs in negative ways. It is not a single disease, but a group of symptoms that arise from the abnormal immune responses to environmental triggers.

Asthmatics suffer from limited air flow, difficulties in breathing, heightened sensitivity to particles or toxins in the air, wheezing, coughing, and tightness of the throat and chest.

Asthma can be triggered by allergens, air-borne pollutants, upper respiratory infections (like a cold or the flu), exercise, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as acetaminophen.

The cells that line the airways, the epithelium, are the first point of contact when particles are inhaled. Until recently, scientists were unaware that these cells contribute to inflammatory responses within the lungs.

Scientists are busily trying to clarify the role of over 50 different cytokines that are involved in regulating the amount of lung inflammation that asthmatics experience. When challenged with antigens, lung cells produce great numbers of inflammatory cytokines, immune messages. These immune factors regulate the activity of genes that result in inflammation and the body’s efforts to control inflammation.  Inflammatory cytokines increase the levels of inflammation to help the body remove the antigens, while other cytokines dampen excessive immune responses, trying to bring inflammatory responses back to balance.

Structural changes in the airways result from the actions of different classes of inflammatory cells and their immune proteins and biologically active molecules. Lung cells can also release molecules that cause the muscles and blood vessels in the airways to become stiff and narrow.

The lungs become overly sensitive to environmental stimuli triggering the production of excessive levels of mucus, perhaps to help dilute and wash antigens out. These fluids can clog the airways of the lungs making it even more difficult to breathe. The hypersensitivity of the lungs results in a vicious cycle of over-active immune reactions, inflammation, and more mucus production.

10.28.15 Ashma PNG grpahic

 

As always the key to healthy immune support is balance. The body needs to produce enough inflammation to help us heal and protect us from external and internal challenges, but the inflammatory response must be well balanced and controlled.

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

www.gluegrant.org/inflammation-asthma.htm
http://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2094079
http://www.worldallergy.org/professional/allergic_diseases_center/cytokines/
www.aacijournal.com/content/pdf/1710-1492-3-4-114.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21330463
www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/patientinstructions/000036.htm
http://www.jci.org/articles/view/36130
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1781697/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26425339

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alcoholism is a condition in which individuals drink alcohol in excess despite the fact that their habit causes physical and mental health problems, and social, family, and/or job-related issues. Heavy alcohol consumption results in damage to many parts of the body including the brain, liver, digestive system, and  joints. Alcoholics also suffer with dementia, memory loss, depression, emotional instability, and are at increased risk of cancer of the colon, liver, and esophagus.

Immune System Effects

Prolonged, heavy alcohol consumption negatively affects immune cells and their production of cytokines, immune messages.  Alcoholics have significantly higher rates of bacterial and viral infections and when hospitalized remain hospitalized longer than those that do not abuse alcohol.   Alcohol not only kills key immune cells, but excess amounts of alcohol results in an increased risk of autoimmune responses in which the body’s immune cells mistakenly attack the body’s own healthy cells as foreign.

The body constantly strives to maintain immune inflammatory homeostasis; to balance the amount of inflammation it produces to protect the body from infection.  Imbalances of inflammatory responses, loss of immune homeostasis, result from excessive alcohol consumption. For example, white cells, immune cells, search out and destroy and remove pathogens from the lungs.  After alcohol consumption, fewer immune cells respond to the call for “help”.  Those cells that do enter the lungs are unable to kill microbes as effectively as cells from non-alcoholic animals.

The inefficient immune responses of alcoholics lead them to be more vulnerable to viral infections such as hepatitis C, influenza, and HIV and bacterial infections including tuberculosis and pneumonia. Especially after experiencing trauma, e.g., surgery, alcoholics are more likely than non-alcoholics to get pneumonia.

A mouse study is one of many that demonstrates the decreased ability of alcohol-imbibing animals to fend off infection.  Sixty percent of mice that were exposed to the flu after imbibing alcohol for two months died of the flu as compared to a 15% mortality rate of mice that had not been drinking alcohol prior to exposure.

Hormone Effects:

Cortisol, the “stress-response hormone” affects nervous, immune, circulatory, and metabolic systems of the body.  After surgery, chronic alcoholics have higher cortisol levels compared to non-alcoholic patients.  The increased inflammation that accompanies stress also leads to higher levels of depression, other addictions, and mood disorders.

Other hormones effected by alcohol consumption are those a)that may interfere with the a women’s menstrual cycle, b) the ability for men and women to enjoy sex, or c) control blood sugar.

Nervous System Complications:

Alcohol is neuro-toxic to brain cells interfering with the development, repair, and communication of nerve cells. Consumption of large amounts of alcohol leads to shrinkage of white matter in the brain, adding to depression, confusion, short-term memory loss, “fuzzy” thinking, and a greater risk of getting dementia.  Alcohol also directly affects the nervous system in other ways, causing numbness, tingling, and pain in hands and feet.

Additionally, too great a consumption of alcohol, especially over a long period of time, results in problems with absorption of nutrients, the lack of which can become so severe that certain forms of dementia are triggered.

Bone Loss

Alcohol damages osteoblasts, the cells needed to grow and maintain bone.  Destruction of osteoblasts results in decreased bone mass and susceptibility to fractures and other orthopedic problems.  When a bone fracture occurs,  immune cells rush in to start the healing process. They release immune signals, cytokines that start the inflammatory process that recruits more cells into the area. However, when there is too much inflammation, healing, and bone growth is delayed with the result that bones become brittle, thin, or misshapen.

Vitamin B12, vitamin D,  phosphate, and magnesium are needed to grow bone.  Excessive intake of alcohol is associated with low or subnormal levels of these elements, further inhibiting the growth of and repair of bones.

Skin and Injuries

The cells in the skin help defend the body from pathogens, and keep the skin healthy, youthful, and supple.  The immune cells in the skin interact with the microbes that live on the surface. Although the numbers of bacteria on healthy skin stays constant, the types of bacteria that exist change depending on environmental and immune interactions

Heavy use of alcohol significantly slows the movement of immune cells, upsetting the balance, the homeostasis of the skin. Alcoholics experience a greater number of severe skin infections than individuals that drink responsibly.

Almost half of all patients coming into an emergency room with an injury, trauma cases, have high levels of alcohol in their blood.  Drunken patients have more severe symptoms, and take longer to recover.  They also have higher rates of death as compared to non-intoxicated patients.

Because these patients have imbalances of inflammatory response, it takes them longer to heal, and wounds may become more severe, more quickly. Alcohol damage to the skin continues even after they stop drinking. Alcoholics experience longer hospital stays, especially if they are patients in an intensive care unit.

In a study of two groups of animals with burns, 50% of the animals that had not consumed alcohol survived, compared to 20% of the alcohol-consuming animals.

Summary:

Although not discussed in this post, moderate intake of alcohol has a beneficial effect on inflammatory markers.  However, heavy drinking results in uncontrolled amounts of inflammation leading to a myriad of health consequences.  Controlling the amount of inflammation the body produces will make a major difference in the quality of life of an individual.

Some steps abusers of alcohol can take to help their body modulate inflammation are:

  •  Limit the number of drinks consumed*
  •  Exercise 30 minutes/day for 5 days a week (150 minute minimum/week)
  •  Have smaller food portion sizes.
  •  Consume more fruits and vegetables.

*It is recommended that women limit their alcohol intake to one drink** per day, and men to two drinks/day. [Women absorb and metabolize alcohol differently from men and are more susceptible to alcohol-related organ damage and trauma than men.]

**One drink is defined as 1.5 fluid ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits, 12 ounces of beer, or 5 ounces of wine (a pinot noir wine glass about 1/4 full).

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

 

www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000944.htm
eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/content/25/23/2075.full
 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21193024
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2377009/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23895590
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2906126/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24138635
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3005009/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23240627
pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/10report/chap04b.pdf

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23981442

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some naturally oriented steps that one can take are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15694227
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23873713
www.karger.com/Article/Fulltext/51732
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20609377
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15694227
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19423079
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18580840
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20600462
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10547175
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23497121
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14696037
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24005610
bit.ly/1enpcdi
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23874068
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24005610
www.psychiatrictimes.com/depression/inflammation-and-treatment-resistance-major-depression-perfect-storm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.nmihi.com/e/endometriosis.htm
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21054165
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11949939
http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/content/28/7/1783Share
www.endometriosisassn.org/environment.html
http://toxsci.oxfordjournals.org/content/70/2/161.full

 

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
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23695047
http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/ng.2676.html
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23524340
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17515549
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23390177
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22894176

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

http://www.cdc.gov/hai/organisms/cdiff/cdiff_infect.html
http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/ACG/35590?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyHeadlines&utm_source=
http://www.mdjunction.com/forums/lyme-disease-support-forums/medicine-treatments/1722560-pubmed-report-c-diff-death-from-lyme-disease/limitstart/40
http://content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleid=1389315
http://www.medpagetoday.com/HematologyOncology/BreastCancer/35856?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyHeadlines&utm_source=WC&xid=NL_DHE_2012-11-10&eun=g409635d0r&userid=409635&email=spider1222%40hotmail.com&mu_id=5510283
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1201735
http://content.onlinejacc.org/article.aspx?articleid=1389317
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20421792
http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/16/2041.full
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22910717
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1986656/
http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1201735

 

The journal of the American Geriatrics Society, just released a study of older women suggesting  that women, and we assume men as well, add years of healthy living by staying active and increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables. 

 Women between the ages of 70 to 79 years were followed for a five-year period.  Investigators monitored the amount of physical activity they reported, and their carotenoid blood levels.  [Carotenoids are a class of pigmented, phyto [plant] nutrients found in the yellow, orange, and plants.  Blood levels of carotenoids are associated with the quantity of vegetables and fruits consumed.  The more fruit and veggies consumed, the higher the levels of carotenoids in the bloodstream.]

In the study, women that were most physically active and consumed large amounts of fruits and vegetables, were eight times more likely to be alive after the study’s five years of follow-up, compared to women who were not active, and did not eat many fruits and vegetables.

 Exercise increases survival times

More than half of the 713 participants (53%) did no exercise, 21% were moderately active, and the 26% were very active.  The active women engaged in twice the amount of activity as did women who were not active.  Active woman reported that they walked, or were involved in strength training, bowling, dancing, household, or outdoor chores.  Physical activity resulted in active woman experiencing five-year death rates 71% lower than those of the least active women.

 Fruits and vegetable consumption increases survival times

During the five-year follow-up period, women who consumed the most fruits and vegetables, and had the highest blood levels of carotenoids, were 46 percent less likely to die than woman that ate fewer fruits and vegetables.  Blood carotenoid levels were 12% higher in the women who survived, compared to blood samples taken from women that would die earlier.

 This study supports previous results demonstrating that eating more vegetables and fruits, and consuming moderate amounts of wine products, which also contain phytonutrients,  is linked to people living longer.

 Down-regulation of inflammation:  A probable reason for the reported results.

Most scientists have only vague ideas as to why exercise, and heightened consumption of fruits and vegetables should make a difference in longevity.  However, decades of literature reviews, and successful counseling of individuals in the importance of balancing immune system inflammation, make it evident to me, that exercise and healthy food consumption helps the body limit run-away inflammatory responses, and therefore helps the body balance its natural levels of inflammation.

 Inflammation is the body’s protective response to infection, cancer cell growth, and injury.  However, when inflammatory responses are not controlled, inflammation ends up doing more harm than good, and becomes the origin of most illnesses.

 It has been documented that unhealthy aging is accompanied by excessive inflammation with increases in cytokines that cause inflammation, and inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP).

 But the body expends a great deal of energy to naturally control inflammatory responses, and return to immune homeostasis, immune balance.   So for example, moderate exercise lowers inflammation. 

Every time muscle contraction occurs, potent anti-inflammatory cytokines are released.  Therefore, as the women in this study were physically active, their bodies were naturally reducing the amount of inflammation in their bodies.

 As to the contribution of fruits and vegetables in lowering inflammation, hundreds of studies support the fact that carotenoids affect cytokines, the immune system messengers that modulate inflammation. 

 There are many ways to help the body modulate immune system-generated inflammatory responses, but simple lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, are two simple steps to consider for a healthier, longer, and more active life.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22587851

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22162208

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120530100512.htm

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090624093353.htm

 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19549997

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22483785

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22473333

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22708923

The concept of epigenetics was first introduced in the 1940s, and its implications on how we modulate inflammation through its processes are intriguing and exciting.

For most of my scientific career, we were taught that biological processes of the body were pre-determined by genes. It was said that DNA’s message was set-in-stone, and except through mutations which might result in cancer, or mutations and recombinations of genetic material that were handed down from one generation to another, the message encoded by DNA was unchanging.

Accumulating evidence suggests that altering our diet, life style, and environment, significantly influences gene expression; the way that the body translates the DNA message. We can change the affect our genes have on our physiological and emotional well-being.

It never ceases to amaze me that the medical profession writes off conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, cancer, strokes, Alzheimer’s etc. as being the result of “aging”; basically, saying to their patient, “you have to live with it because you are getting old”.

Instead, health practitioners might better focus on the fact that imbalances of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses contribute to health issues. Directing the emphasis on life style changes would enable individuals to take steps towards breaking the inflammation cycle, literally affecting the DNA message, and the resulting quality of their lives.

There are simple approaches that help maintain immune balance, immune homeostasis. Two such changes are: limiting the size of fat cells, and exercise. Fat cells, especially around our abdominal area, produce large amounts of pro-inflammatory cytokines, that trigger inappropriate levels of inflammation.

Exercise is a way to neutralize these molecules since contracting our muscles releases potent anti-inflammatory cytokines.

Additionally, the daily consumption of two or more servings of hyperimmune egg can go a long way toward supporting the body’s natural immune-rebalancing attempts.

In the controversy of genes vs. nurture, we now know that it is a combination of both that makes the difference. We can help regulate what our genes “say” by how we choose to live our lives.

www.sciencemag.org/site/feature/plus/sfg/resources/res_epigenetics.xhtml

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22004920.1

target=”_blank”>articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/04/11/epigenetic-vs-determinism.aspx

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22428854

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20388091

 

(Please see prior posting)

ACHIEVING INFLAMMATORY HOMEOSTASIS, IMMUNE BALANCE, NATURALLY

CONTROL INFLAMMATION

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

BECOME PHYSICALLY ACTIVE.

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

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

GET TO YOUR IDEAL WEIGHT.

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

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

 Limit your intake of:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IN SUMMARY

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


www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22399699

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22407494

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20181814

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22404117

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22397028

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19957870

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21593500

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22375372

 

 

Exercise is essential for workers such as firefighters and paramedics that have physically-and emotionally-demanding jobs, and is mandated by most departments.

According to a study by the University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, 30% of the strains and sprains that firefighters and paramedics experienced, happened as they were working out. Seventeen percent of injuries, and almost half of time off work for injuries, were caused by strains and sprains resulting from workers carrying individuals.

Pain and inflammation “feed one another”. Pain triggers more inflammation and inflammation  leads to more pain. It is not clear how the body senses pain, nor biochemically, the exact events that lead to the sensation of pain. We know however, that pain signals from our back or limbs travel along nerve cells to the spinal cord and up to the brain, and that inflammation in the spinal cord and brain is either the direct cause of pain, or a major contributor to pain sensations that we experience.

When muscles and tissues are injured, immune cells respond by entering the area and releasing cellular factors (e.g., cytokines) that will up-regulate inflammation as a way to help the body heal.

However, it is as important for the body to decrease its inflammatory responses after a challenge is met, as it is to increase the response in the first place. Decreases in inflammatory responses, down-regulation, result from the production of different amounts of anti-inflammatory cytokines and their ratio to pro-inflammatory cytokines that cause inflammation. It all about the appropriate balance of immune responses, immune homeostasis.

(Please watch for the next posting discussing natural methods of helping the body achieve immune homeostasis, and recover, and heal faster.)

injuryprevention.bmj.com/content/early/2011/11/03/injuryprev-2011
www.nature.com/nrneurol/journal/v7/n3/full/nrneurol.2011.4.html
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19096368
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22119349
www.gluegrant.org/inflammation101.htm
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Curr%20Drug%20Targets%20Immune%20Endocr%20Metabol%20Disord%202005%205%3A413

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

 

css.php