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It will come as no surprise to practitioners and clinicians that something goes awry with our immune systems capacity for protection in the face of chronic stress. Ironically in short acute stress responses our immune system benefits from increase defence responses and allows most of us to present a more robust series of immune related decisions.

Back in the early 1990’s a team of researchers from the Carnegie Mellon University published a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine stating that psychological stress was associated in a dose-response manner with an increased risk of acute infectious respiratory illness, and that this risk was attributable to increased rates of infection, rather than to an increased frequency of symptoms post infection.[1]

One of the key naturopathic and Darwinian medicine concepts[i],[ii] is that suppression of a normal response by the body to a pathogen may reduce the effectiveness of outcome.

Naturopathic Medicine is a form of alternative medicine based on a belief in vitalism, which posits that a special energy called vital energy or vital force guides bodily processes such as metabolism, reproduction, growth, and adaptation. Naturopathic philosophy favours a holistic approach, and, like conventional medicine seeks to find the least invasive measures necessary for symptom improvement or resolution, thus encouraging minimal use of surgery and unnecessary drugs.[iii]

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are defined by impairments in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and repetitive and stereotyped behaviours. In addition to these core deficits, previous reports indicate that the prevalence of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms ranges widely in individuals with ASD, from 9 to 91% in different study population.[1]

The role of probiotics in the management and treatment of these alterations has been explored in a recent free access paper, published in Gastroenterology Research and Practice Oct 2011.[2]

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Cultivated for 6,000 years, almonds are alleged to possess a range of potential health benefits that support cardiovascular health, diabetes, protein quality and related weight management benefits.

A recent study has suggested that almonds, specifically the skin of almonds, may support immune system function.[1] The role of foods in immune management is increasingly of interest to practitioners as well as patients. The change in our dietary intake of basic food stuffs has changed dramatically over the last 100 or so years and the impact of this on health and disease remains an area of considerable exploration.

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Those of us living in the country and in contact with farms and farm animals are being blessed with an immune priming experience for free – other than the cost of washing the clothes!

The exposure to bacteria, fungi and other microbes confers to us a unique advantage in the reduction of asthma and atopy incidence compared to children who never have farmyard contact and has previously been reported as such.[1]

I can see some innovative farmers seeking to promote a day out at their farms as an immune priming experience in the future a sort of ‘Farm Yard Atopy Camp’ for all children under 5 with a guaranteed cowlick experience!

A dirty weekend away will start to lose its cachet amongst the older family members and represent a weekend of juvenile delights in which washing behind the ears will be postponed for a little while.

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Increase Vit D RDA’s Say Scientists

Wednesday, 18 August 2010 by

On July the 28th 2010 the Journal Experimental Biology and Medicine published an article looking at the levels of Vitamin D in the general population and made recommendations concerning the RDA levels needed to limit osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children.[1] This they say is because scientists and nutritionists from many countries agree that at present about half of elderly North Americans and Western Europeans and probably also of the rest of the world are not receiving enough vitamin D to maintain healthy bone. This is nothing new to this web site or indeed the thousands of people that have been following this story for the last 10 years.

The paper goes on to say that over the past decade there has been a  dramatic increase in the understanding of the many biological actions that result from vitamin D acting through its daughter steroid  hormone, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D3] in collaboration with its cognate vitamin D receptor (VDR). In other words Vitamin D does more than support bone health.

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One in 10 schoolchildren in the western world suffers from eczema and even developing nations have also seen an increasing trend in the last few decades. There are many proposals to explain the increased incidence, one area of relevance is the environmental impact. Falling under the often misused ‘hygeine hypothesis’ title it has been proposed that there is a reflective difference in the gradient between rural and urban children. Implying the environmental impact on the developing immune system of children is different and therefore less protective in the urban setting.

This concept has now been studied in a recent article in the British Journal of Dermatology.[1] By conducting a Medline and Embase data base review studies that compared the incidence between the two environments were reviewed. Some 26 papers were assessed with 19 demonstrating a higher risk for eczema in an urbanised area, of these 11 were regarded as being statistically significant. A further 6 studies showed a lower risk of eczema in an urbanised area, of which just 1 was statistically significant.

The immune system in humans and animal is complex, all the more so because it crosses over all tissues. The traditional view has been that the immune system keeps itself in check, and that is mostly the case. However, for some years there has been a development of a neural feedback loop comprehension that helps to answer some of the complex mechanisms and remarkably ties in the role of a nutritional strategy for immune management. This is known as the inflammatory reflex.

The inflammatory reflex, a prototypical neural circuit that modulates innate immunity, is activated by the presence of cytokines or other inflammatory products in tissues that triggers afferent (a nerve that passes impulses from receptors toward or to the central nervous system) action potentials travelling in the vagus nerve. The ascending information is relayed to brainstem nuclei that control efferent (nerves that convey nervous stimulus from the brain to other parts) neural signals in the form of action potentials transmitted back to the periphery via the vagus nerve.

Whilst this may sound complex – few subjects that combine neurology and immunology aren’t… the outcome suggested meets simple strategies, based on complex mechanisms.

Atishoo – that’s D’ one!

Friday, 23 April 2010 by

Vitamin D Vs Influenza A

Lets face it, right now we are still recovering from the various revelations about the novel variant H1N1 or swine flu non event (in terms of pandemic effects) to be looking to see if we can manage the more common seasonal influenza. Plus spring is in the air and we all know that colds and the flu viruses seem to be less vigorous during the time of the year we actually see the sun!

However a rather neat randomised trial to see if Vitamin D supplementation had any prevention effect in school children adds further weight to the evolving understanding of its innate immune activation potential.[1]

Gluten May be Causing Your Brain Problems!

Tuesday, 09 March 2010 by | Comments: 1

An interesting paper published in the Sept 2008 Annals of Neurology described a ‘new to science’ brain aggravating enzyme, triggered by reactivity to gluten, but acting independently of other coeliac symptoms.[1]

Most clinicians understand that overt gluten reactivity is classified under coeliac disease and the the classic constellation of symptoms and signs characterising  malabsorptive syndrome is a readily recognised manifestation  of  coeliac  disease. Frank malabsorptive symptoms include steatorrhea, weight loss or failure to thrive, bloating, and flatulence, with multiple deficiency states. More common but more difficult to recognise, however, are the other diverse ways in which coeliac disease presents.

Coeliac disease may also mimic many common clinical entities. These atypical modes of presentation include deficiencies of single micronutrients; nonspecific gastrointestinal complaints such as bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, constipation, flatulence, secondary lactose intolerance, and dyspepsia; and non-gastrointestinal complaints such as fatigue, depression, arthralgia, milk intolerance, osteomalacia or osteoporosis, and iron deficiency anaemia.

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