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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
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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

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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
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http://arthritis-research.com/content/8/S2/S3
 

Over the last 18 months, at least 25 children have been affected in the California area by a “polio-like” illness resulting in partial paralysis of five of the children.  As of this week, two out of five of these children have tested positive for enterovirus.  According to the news media, Australia and Asia have also report similar cases.

A commonly found virus, enteroviruses typically result in only mild symptoms such as runny nose, coughing, muscle aches, and sneezing. However, there are 60 different varieties of enteroviruses, and infection with certain types of these viruses results in spontaneous abortion, stillbirth, and congenital anomalies.  Infection with other varieties of enteroviruses can lead to damage of various tissues including skin, muscles, brain, spine, nerve cells, liver, and heart.

Some enteroviruses appear to specifically target the brain and the nervous system, leading to short- or long-term paralysis affecting mobility. So for example, polio enteroviruses attack the nervous system triggering an inflammatory response to destroy the viruses.  The resulting inflammation may lead to mild paralysis, or to an individual becoming completely paralyzed within hours.

Some persistent enteroviruses survive in the body for a prolonged time with continued inflammation and damage to tissues.   So for example, polio patients that initially recover from their disease may continue to experience damage of nerve and muscle cells by inflammatory processes.  This resurgence of symptoms can result in a post-polio syndrome (PPS) years after their original exposure to the virus.

Individuals with post-polio syndrome have high levels of inflammatory cytokines, immune factors, in the spinal fluids between the thin layers of tissues that protect the spinal cord.  Other conditions resulting from enterovirus infection are often associated with the production of inflammatory molecules. Even patients with relatively mild symptoms and no nervous system complications may show increased blood levels of inflammatory immune factors.  This suggests that excessive inflammatory responses are occurring throughout the body.

A delicate balance exists between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory responses of the body.  The immune system is always on alert defending itself against infection.  However, once the process is triggered, the inflammation must be a measured, controlled response that does not destroy healthy tissue.

www.decodedscience.com/polio-like-virus-california-enterovirus-68-paralyzing-kids/43034
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18219253
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www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24367714
www.enterovirusfoundation.org/associations.shtml
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22776106
 

Blood disorders are diseases that affect blood components: 1) red blood cells, 2) white blood cells, and/or 3) platelets.

 Red blood cells are disc-shaped cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to all the cells in the body White blood cells are immune cells that help the body heal, and protect itself from infections and cancerous cells that might grow into tumors or cancers of the blood.  Platelets are blood elements that stick to the lining of blood vessels and help the blood to clot when  bleeding from a wound.

 Some common blood disorders are  anemia, thalassemia, sickle cell anemia,  idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP),pernicious anemia,  hemolytic anemia, and aplastic anemia.

 All of these disorders have a single commonality, mainly that individuals with these types of conditions have low numbers of red cells, white blood cells, and/or platelets.

 Inflammation is necessary for our survival. Invasion by pathogens initiates inflammatory processes that attack these organisms. However, too often the “forest fire” gets out of control, and healthy cells, tissues, and organs are damaged.  When the body attacks its own cells, the condition is called an autoimmune, against -oneself, response.

 Thalassemia is an inherited disease in which people have abnormally low numbers of red blood cells and low hemoglobin. The hemoglobulin molecule is faulty and unable to carry its typical complement of oxygen.  [Hemoglobin is a protein that  helps  transport oxygen throughout the body.  Red blood cells also carry waste gases like carbon dioxide  to the lungs where it is released and then exhaled.]

 Individuals with thalassemia often suffer from inflamed blood vessels and slower blood flow in their blood vessels.  Both problems put individuals at greater risk of suffering from thromboembolism.  In this condition, a blood clot, an embolus, partially or totally blocks blood vessels deep in the body (deep vein thrombosis) or a clot is released that suddenly interferes with blood flow within a lung artery (pulmonary embolism), which can be fatal.

As blood clots form, an inflammatory response is triggerred to break up the clots.  More inflammation results in the production of more cytokines, immune messages that affect blood clotting.  Individuals with thalassemia, as with other blood disorders, typically have higher levels of inflammatory cytokines than individuals without such conditions.

It never ceases to amaze me how many health practitioners ignore the contribution of inflammatory process to diseases such as thalassemia.  In blood disorders, as with most other diseases, achieving and maintaining immune inflammatory homeostasis, balance, is essential.

 Being in homeostasis means that there are enough immune factors, pro-inflammatory cytokines to initiate a proper inflammatory response, and corresponding anti-inflammatory factors to limit inflammation and the damage it may cause.  A delicate balance of these messages are essential.

 What does one lose by moderating excessive inflammatory responses?  Control inappropriate levels of inflammation, and improve the quality of life of those with blood disorders, and most other diseases.

 [Please look for future posts on other blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia, pernicious anemia, and idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)].

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

 

www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/blood/
www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/pe/
www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1079979609001387
bloodjournal.hematologylibrary.org/content/87/12/5051.full.pdf

 

 

People with serious lung problems who are unable to breathe for themselves, for example, patients in intensive care units recovering from injuries, or who have viral, or bacterial infections, like pneumonia, may be placed on mechanical ventilation.

Although these patients may require a ventilator, too often these devices make their lung conditions worse. Patients with lung injuries that require mechanical ventilation lead to more deaths annually than do breast cancer and prostate cancer combined.

For years, scientists have known that when lungs are exposed to rhythmic pressure of ventilation, the production of cytokines, immune messengers, are stimulated.  This excessive production of cytokines results in “boosted”  levels of inflammation in the lungs that may damage the lungs, even after ventilation has been stopped. Excessive inflammation can lead to the destruction of formerly healthy organ systems.

It is as if the immune system sees “pressure” as a “foreign agent” an event against which the body much be protected.  The pressure appears to trigger an immune inflammatory response in the body.

This phenomenon can be seen even at the cellular level.  Exposing cells in a test tube to as few as four hours of rhythmic pressures results in increased levels of inflammatory cytokines that recruit more inflammatory immune cells into the area. Twelve (12) hours of ventilation-type treatment results in a 5-7 times increase in the levels of inflammatory cytokines.

During winter months, respiratory infections are the most frequent cause of intensive care unit hospitalizations for infants.  For some infections, Infants that are on mechanical ventilators have  significantly higher levels of lung inflammation than infants not being ventilated. However, even in healthy children, mechanical ventilation triggers an inflammatory response within hours.

 For over a decade I have tried to educate the public about the need for the body to maintain immune inflammatory homeostasis, immune balance; having enough inflammation to do the job, but not so much that it causes damage.

 Inflammation is necessary for our survival to protect us from infections, and it is the first step the body takes when it heals itself, for example, after an injury. 

But the amount of inflammation produced by the body must be tightly limited, because too much inflammation is like an uncontrollable forest fire.

One of my greatest frustrations has been trying to help medical practitioners understand that inappropriate inflammation is the foundation of most of their patients’ problems, but too often, “they just couldn’t get it”.  Now, every journal, every magazine touts the fact that “inflammation is the root cause of disease”.  They admit that it has a role in cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal, emotional problems  etc. and that inflammatory responses play a major role in cancer.

It has been my experience that when individuals have major health issues, “following the levels of inflammation” will help explain what is happening to the patient.  In cases of mechanical ventilation, other procedures  and conditions, what would be the harm in taking steps to limit uncontrolled levels of inflammation, and help return the body to immune homeostasis?

 

Dr. Greenblatt looks forward to assisting you in returning to immune balance:  She can be contacted at: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen or 1.302-265.3870 [USA, ET]. Thank you.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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].

 

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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

From 70-85% of the immune system and immune-like cells are found in the lining of the gut. This complex network of cells helps the body discriminate between helpful, commensal bacteria, and pathogenic bacteria that cause illness.

There is significant cross-talk between the immune cells and the organisms living in the intestines.
The immune system in the intestines is constantly balancing the kinds and numbers of bacteria and other organisms that live in the gut. And the bacteria are changing the population of immune cells. Both work to try to achieve balance, immune homeostasis.

Chronic inflammation of the digestive tract may be a reaction against specific bacteria found among the trillions of microorganisms living in the intestines. Inflammatory bowel diseases, IBDs, are characterized by unhealthy levels of inflammation occurring in different sections of the intestine. The bacterial strains found in the GI tracts of IBD patients differs from those seen in healthy controls and IBD patients have the most amount of inflammation in the areas of the GI tract with the highest concentration of bacteria.

Many of the cells in the gut directly recognize and attack infectious organisms. Upon exposure to pathogens, intestinal immune cells are stimulated to generate immune molecules such cytokines and natural antibiotics called defensins. Defensins kill microorganisms by punching holes in their membranes, or linking up small proteins into a “net” that stops pathogens from crossing the gastrointestinal barrier. These molecules also help the immune system control the types and numbers of beneficial microbes populating our intestines, and help in the recruitment of additional immune cells.

Individuals with IBD have imbalances of immune cells and intestinal microbes and without a sufficient immune response intestinal microbes invade the mucosa and an inflammatory response is triggered.

The intestines strive to achieve and maintain a delicate homeostatic balance. Complex interactions between the microorganism and immune components keep the beneficial bacteria “content” while simultaneously using inflammatory processes to keep infectious agents in check.

The key in recovery is to help the body limit unhealthy inflammation. Probiotic bacteria have been the first therapeutic agents for IBD shown to induce the production of defensins. Other agents such as worms, worm eggs, vitamin D, specific bacteria, and omega-3 appear to modulate inflammatory cytokines in test systems, yet these approaches have failed to correlate strongly with reducing IBD or its symptoms.

http://iai.asm.org/content/76/8/3360
http://www.sciencemag.org/content/337/6093/477.abstract
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21423246
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23398152
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23176791
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19800289
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=morningstar+hyperimmune+egg

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://twinsuk.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Valdes-.lancet.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23136552
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1868538/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17705097
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022395609001241
http://drhellengreenblatt.info/2011/09/smoking-inflammation-immune-homeostasis-balance/

Studies conducted over the years have shown numerous benefits of using aspirin, a compound with potent
anti-inflammatory properties. If aspirin were discovered today, it would probably be available only through prescription, and cost us 10-40 fold more than we pay for it today.

Additionally, in the area of cancer, laboratory studies suggest that certain anti-inflammatory drugs may prevent certain types of cancers. However, human clinical trials on the efficacy of aspirin for reducing the risk of cancer, and its ability to make a difference in the course of cancer, are uncertain.

Dr. Jean Tang and her colleagues at Stanford University School of Medicine, CA. recently published a study examining how daily intake of aspirin effects the risk of getting melanoma, a deadly type of skin cancer. A study of 60,000 Caucasian women [lighter-skinned individuals are at greater risk of getting skin cancer] ran for an average of 12 years and involved women 50 years to 79 years of age.

Women who took aspirin twice weekly had on average, a 21 %reduction in their risk of getting melanoma  compared to those who did not use aspirin regularly. Women who had taken aspirin twice weekly for at least 5 years had a 30% lower chance of getting melanoma. Other pain relievers such as acetaminophen (found in Tylenol) made no difference in melanoma rates.

Dr. Tang said, “There’s a lot of excitement about this because aspirin has already been shown to have protective effects on cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer in women”… “This is one more piece of the prevention puzzle.” Dr. Tang feels that the ability of aspirin to limit inflammation may contribute to its association in reducing the risk of cancer. In future studies, Dr. Tang is planning to see whether a similar association is holds for men.

Inflammation is necessary for healing and recovery, but run-away inflammation may be the main contributor to disease. Cancer is a two-way street. Inflammation feeds cancer and cancer feeds inflammation. We need enough of an immune response to stop the growth of cancer cells, but not so much that it “feeds” the growth of mutant cells.

Immune homeostasis, immune balance, is the key to excellent health. Control inappropriately high inflammatory responses of the immune system, and change the course of disease both for the present and in the future.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23589729
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18577752
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/cncr.27817/abstract
http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=168421
http://med.stanford.edu/ism/2013/march/tang.html
http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=674264
http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/current

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.nature.com/nature/journal/v454/n7203/abs/nature07201.html
serpins.med.unc.edu/~fcc/Biology134_Folder/Pathology_213/Inflamm-Cancer.pdf
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22893204
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2916138/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21677746

People often ask how they ended up getting an autoimmune disease, a condition in which their own immune system turns on themselves and destroys healthy by-stander tissues and organs.

My response-the not-yet-proven-hypothesis that molecular mimicry results in autoimmune disease.

Molecular mimicry is a phenomenon in which tissues in the body share a “barcode”, antigenic receptors,  with specific viruses or a bacteria.  The immune system responds by mounting an inflammatory attack against the invading pathogen.  This response targets not only the pathogen, but in addition, tissues that share the same antigenic makeup as the invading microorganism. In short, a terrible error occurs and the body starts destroying itself.

The inflammatory disease rheumatic fever is an excellent example of the possible outcome of molecular mimicry. Damage of heart valves may occur after infection with the bacteria Streptococcus. This development accounts for the panic that many parents experience when their kids come down with “strep throat”.

Antibodies, large unique proteins,  are produced by the immune system when the body is exposed to pathogens.  These specialized proteins attach to the invaders, “flagging” them for destruction by circulating immune cells.  In the case of rheumatic fever, since bacteria and heart valve tissue look alike to the body, antibodies are produced that attach to both surfaces, triggering inflammatory immune responses ultimately resulting in damage to heart valves, as well as death of the bacteria.

The data, controversial, but compelling, is that molecular mimicry, due to viral and bacterial infections,  may also be a trigger for neurological disease.

This concept is reinforced by the fact that multiple sclerosis is a condition in which nerve cells are damaged by uncontrolled levels of inflammation.  Immune cell products mistakenly attack myelin proteins, which make up the protective sheath that “insulates” nerves.  Damage to this covering results in nerve signals becoming intermittent, slowing down, or stopping entirely.  Such nerve damage affects vision, mobility, coordination, balance, bladder, or bowel control.

 A large body of data suggests that infection with herpes virus 6 and/or Epstein-Barr virus triggers  inflammation that leads to nerve cell destruction.  Different viruses and bacteria have been implicated as initiating inflammatory responses in other neurodegenerative diseases as well.

 To understand the role of excessive inflammation in your own condition, enter the condition in combination with the word “inflammation”.  The results you receive will help you understand the importance of achieving immune homeostasis, immune balance of our inflammatory responses.

Let me help you improve your quality of life, naturally. Please contact me at 302.265.3870 (USA ET) or email: DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info

http://www.bjmp.org/content/role-chronic-bacterial-and-viral-infections-neurodegenerative-neurobehavioral-psychiatric-au
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22617826
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18193392
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9761770
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22201827
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12557285
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21859892

TheseI grew up in a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY. During the summers I spent most of my days sitting on the stoop, the front steps, reading piles of books that I carried home weekly from my local library, and watched people go by.

It hurt me, even at a young age, to see how hard it was for some people to get around. It broke my heart watching them as they struggled to get across the street. It seemed that everyone was in a hurry, beeping their horns, and telling them to “come on already!”. No respect for people who had dedicated their lives to working and bringing up children.

My father was known as the “Mayor” of Hopkinson Avenue, because if anyone needed his help, he was there. He was kind to people and animals. So perhaps this is why watching the older folks, I promised myself that I would make a difference in the lives of others.  This goal, of being of service to others, has governed my life.

I was lucky that The College of the City of New York, CCNY, had low tuition rates. Working during school breaks for the money I needed, I became the first person in my family to graduate from College, and staying within public education systems, eventually went on to get a PhD in the sciences from SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY.

My reasoning in becoming a scientist, rather than a medical physician, was that as the former, I might only affect the life of a patient one at a time, but as a scientist, my findings might help hundreds or thousands with a single approach.  And my hopes panned out, since I have been fortunate to help thousands change their quality of life.

To see comments of some folks for whom I have made a difference, please see http://drhellengreenblatt.info/notes . Some that I am reminded of:

A physician in Manhattan, NY had such significant fatigue and joint discomfort that she was forced to stop her practice and ended up in a wheelchair. Visits to other physicians, physical therapists, massage therapists, and other allopathic and complementary health practitioners did not change her quality of life. After our discussions about a protocol she might follow, she’s back in practice.

There’s Shirley F. who owns a charming restaurant on a scenic part of the Bay. Shirley does most of the preparation and cooking for her guests, but was finding it increasingly difficult to work in the kitchen. Chopping and cutting vegetables, fish, and meats was especially becoming harder and harder. Her fingers had become misshapen as well. Standing and walking around the kitchen and restaurant wasn’t becoming any easier either. After following my suggestions, Shirley found that she no longer had thoughts of giving up on her restaurant .

There’s Candy A. who had suffered from extreme gastrointestinal discomfort for years; nothing she tried made a difference. Within10 days of following my suggestion, Candy found that she was a new person.

These are just a few people who I have helped. You too deserve to feel better. It doesn’t cost you anything to talk with me. My passion is helping people improve their quality of life, naturally, and I would be delighted to help you as well. Feel free to contact me via phone 302.265.3870 (ET) or email me @ DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info.

People will go to almost any length to get rid of their illnesses.  Last month, a TV news program reported that a financial analyst from New York swallowed 2500 pig whipworm eggs, every two weeks for three months. He was driven to this “solution” because he had been suffering with Crohn’s since being a teenager, had had much of his bowels surgically removed, but still had severe symptoms.  He found that drinking the solution of worm eggs made a major difference in his disease.

Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory disease of the digestive system, typically designated as an autoimmune condition.  In such illnesses, the body’s own immune system mistakenly destroys various portions of its own bowels.

Symptoms can develop gradually or come on all at once.  One may experience only mild amounts of inflammation, or the inflammatory response can be severe enough to cause scarring.  Individuals may go long periods without experiencing any discomfort at all.

When the disease is causing problems, the inflammation can result in intestinal pain and ulcers on the surface of the bowel, diarrhea, bloody stools, and involuntary weight loss and reduce appetite.

Dr. Joel Weinstock, of Tufts Medical Center in Boston, MA is a world authority on inflammatory conditions of the intestine with a clinical specialty in inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease.  He and his colleagues are in the midst of clinical trials to obtain evidence that the ingestion of parasites, such as whipworms will “dampen” inflammatory responses of individuals with Crohn’s.

Exposure to gastrointestinal parasites affects the production of cytokines, immune factors that either trigger, or inhibit, inflammation.  Whipworms can inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines that contribute to Crohn’s symptoms; they support anti-inflammatory responses in some cases..

Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil and vitamin D3 are reported to have anti-inflammatory properties and therefore might help those with Crohn’s and other autoimmune diseases. However a recent review of the literature does not support the use of omega-3  to help alleviate symptoms  in Crohn’s patients.

Studies of Vitamin D, a substance that regulates inflammatory and other immune responses, suggest that individuals with higher levels of vitamin D in their blood are at less risk of getting Crohn’s disease.

Additionally, hyperimmune egg has been reported to support bowel health, and with many reporting rapid changes in digestive function.

Instead of drinking a concoction of worms, consuming egg protein from specially-selected hens, hyperimmune egg, makes more sense for digestive support than ingesting worms!

Dr. Hellen looks forward to personally answering your questions.  Send a note to DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info or click on: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen/.  She can also be reached at: 1.302-265.3870 [USA, Eastern Time].

 

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/crohns-disease/DS00104/DSECTION=symptoms
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22239614
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22841731
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2646983/
http://www.google.com/patents/US5772999?printsec=abstract#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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