When your body turns against itself …

When your body turns against itself … they call it an AUTO-IMMUNE disease.  autoimmune

And there are plenty of them … and they range from the uncomfortable – to the downright debilitating.

The one thing that they all have in common is inflammation. Why am I not surprised therefore, that Dr Perlmutter cites a  disrupted gut-biome as the main cause of auto-immune diseases.

We need a good immune system, it protects us from the things outside of us that will do us harm if they end up inside. However, an immune system must know what it is fighting. Without a functioning immune system then the simplest of infections can lead to trauma and even death. However, an over-active immune system can lead to other complications – allergies (some of which can also lead to death in an anaphylactic shock reaction) or to our immune system failing to recognise parts of our own body and starting to attack them. The classic auto-immune diseases (like Rhematiod Arthritis or Lupus) leave the sufferer in chronic pain – usually treated with drugs to suppress the immune system (leaving the patient open to other dangers and altering the gut-biome even further from the optimum) and strong medicines that often cause almost as much pain as the condition.  autoimmune2

So where does the gut-bacteria come into all this? The fact is of our whole immune system 80% is created by our gut bacteria and lies within our gut. This makes sense when you acknowledge that the gut is the boundary between outside our body and inside. (As I said  at the beginning of these articles – the mouth-to-anus gastrointestinal tract can be seen as being an extension of outside our body.) The gut immune system is also in touch with every cell in the remaining immune system, if it meets a problem within the gut then the message to be alert travels throughout the body. They are the body’s first responders. The right gut bacteria teach the immune system what is safe and what is not – so that the immune system become vigilant but not in full defence mode all the time. They educate the system to know that food stuffs are safe (not requiring an immune response).

It seems that pathogenic bacteria (very bad bacteria) can not just cause us upsets but they also interact with the immune system causing a release of inflammatory molecules and stress hormones. With the wrong balance of bacteria the protective layer to the inside of the ileum is not there – the tight-junctions are vulnerable to being crowbarred open by constituents found in substances such as Gluten (there are others – but gluten is by far the biggest culprit) and the pathogenic bacteria get in (along with the over-large proteins that also cause inflammation) This is called a leaky-gut.

On the other hand –  the right bacteria can actually do the opposite – turning off the stress hormones, soothing the inflammatory responses, protecting the lining of the ileum and therefore the tight junctions.

So, if this is the case then it would seem possible – that by changing the balance of the gut bacteria and preventing the leaky-gut problem –  an auto-immune disease could be reversed – or at very least made less chronic – less painful, less disruptive to the body.

I have already written about depression in an earlier blog – it is a fact that having and auto-immune disease and having depression has a very high correlation. Logically, I think if you are in chronic pain it would be depressing – however, the suggestion is not that the chronic pain causes the depression but that both the autoimmune condition and the depression my be caused by the same thing.

Because auto-immune conditions generally grow slowly in intensity (often in the run-up to being diagnosed) it is rare that anyone can pin-point when it started. If they could it would be interesting to know how often it was triggered by a life-event that required antibiotic treatment, or another treatment or experience that adversely affected the gut-biome.

I read with interest the reports from people who suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis, in particular, who had taken up the ‘Paleo’ life-style diet only to find that it also reversed their condition sufficiently to come off medication and to feel stronger and healthier than before. This Paleo diet would, inadvertently, have produced the same balancing of the bacteria – through the recommended foods to eat (organic veg, grass fed meats, pastured poultry, fermented foods, whole-foods) and the avoidance of gluten and many of the other inflammatory ingredients in the Paleo-diet. The aim was a different eating style – the result was a change in the gut-biome, a reduction in gut attack (leaky gut) … and a healing process.

The take- away again this week is, if you suffer from an auto-immune condition – cut out the gluten (and maybe some of the other main known irritants) and top up with the right type of bacteria and eat the fibrous fresh foods that sustain them, whilst cutting back on the carbs and sugar that encourage the wrong type of bacteria to grow. It certainly couldn’t do any harm and yet may just help your system to turn the corner and start to help itself recover to some extent.

Any experience of this out there?

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What our Ancestors can teach us about healing

It is odd that today I came across not one, but two examples of the ‘super-‘bug’ MRSA being defeated, or at the least severely dented, by ‘old recipes’ for fighting disease.

The first was a report in NEW SCIENTIST that scientists from the University of Nottingham have worked on a recipe to cure styes, laid out in a 1000 year-old Anglo-Saxon medical recipes book called Bald’s Leechbook . (article here)    DSCF5518

It sounds like the three witches in Macbeth, ‘Take cropleek and garlic, of both equal quantities, pound them well together… take wine and bullocks gall, mix with the leek… let it stand nine days in the brass vessel…’  But this is exactly what the scientists did.. though they made sure everything was sterile, and had controls set up, and had each element set up separately too (to see if only one would work – none did on their own)

The result: ‘The potion was tested on scraps of skin taken from mice infected with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus. This is an antibiotic-resistant version of the bacteria that causes styes, more commonly known as the hospital super-bug MRSA. The potion killed 90 per cent of the bacteria. Vancomycin, the antibiotic generally used for MRSA, killed about the same proportion when it was added to the skin scraps’.

Just imagine how long and how much experimentation had to have taken place in ancient times to come up with this particular mixture of herbs and the vessel to use to make it in, made up so carefully (another ‘try’ with this recipe by a US university in 2005 resulted in  ‘a loathsome, odorous slime‘ that did not work,) and left for that particular length of time to discover it worked, that it cured styes (for that is what the recipe was for – and as styes are caused by Staphylococcus aureus – this is why the scientists were trying it)

This method has been peer tested by Dr Kendra Rumbaugh, of Texas Tech University in the US, who was asked to replicate the findings. She said that the salve performed ‘good if not better’ than traditional antibiotics at tackling the superbug. The findings were presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for General Microbiology in Birmingham which runs from March 30 this year.

IMG_0384The second MRSA attacker I heard about on the radio — my ears pricked up when I heard the goats (we used to keep goats) and they were the source of this other unexpected beater of MRSA.  It is a long story – but the goats had initially been kept to help with their son’s asthma (this is well documented that Goat’s milk is a less antagonistic to bronchial conditions than cows milk.) They also found that it helped clear up his eczema when made into a cream and a soap.

Now, eczema is an auto-immune disease and many auto-immune diseases appear to be triggered in the gut. By making a fermented product from the goat’s milk, called kefir, they found they had something that seemed to help many auto-immune gut related conditions. Kefir is a powerful probiotic that has been made for hundreds of years in Russia, though the name is possibly Turkish (from keif meaning good feeling).

Then, after surgery, the husband contracted MRSA from the hospital. The wound wasn’t healing, worse, the MRSA was attacking the skin and flesh and making the wound larger and worse and, despite treatment, would not go away. Having read of the curative powers of kefir and having seen how it had helped their son with both asthma and eczema, the wife started treating her husband with kefir by getting him to drink it. She also read-up on essential oils and, believe it or not, the bubonic plague and a bunch of perfumiers who didn’t catch it, and created her own blend of essential oils which she used to bathe his skin, after which she used the kefir on his skin too. In two weeks his skin was testing negative for MRSA and soon healed. The blend of essential oils has since been lab-tested to show it is effective against a whole bunch of pathogenic bacteria, and they are currently working with Swansea university on the effects of kefir and the essential oils  (read an article here)

Now these are concoctions that have been ‘known’ about in the western world for hundreds of years – and we are still only just realising how nature works, how our bodies work and how they can work together – or against each other. If this is the state we are in with cures and remedies we already ‘know’ about  – how many more cures are out there in nature, especially in the most bio-diverse regions like the rain-forests that man seems set on destroying? It makes you think!  (Yes, I did quite get into all this while I was writing ‘The Angel Bug’ as one of the main characters was deeply concerned for the rain-forest and its bio-diversity – does it show?

Had you picked up on these stories in the recent media?

What are your thoughts?

Are you fed up with the general election  (UK) ALREADY?

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