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Massage Beneficially Impacts Immune Response.

Thursday, 16 September 2010 by | Comments: 2

There are very few people that do not like to have a massage, and those of us that do – me, me, me, now have an extra justification for throwing yourself onto the nearest couch and shouting “fetch the oil, I’m ready for basting”.

Published in the Sept Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2010 a paper suggests that a single session of Swedish Massage Therapy produces measurable biologic effects.[1] The intervention tested was 45 minutes of Swedish Massage Therapy versus a light touch control condition, using highly specified and identical protocols.

As discussed here on many occasions it is well recognised that developed countries are suffering from an epidemic rise in immunologic disorders, such as allergy-related diseases and certain auto-immunities. One of the proposed explanations and one that I feel most convinced about is the changing composition of our intestinal microflora and parasite burden. Our intestinal ecological changes  appear to be altering our ability to manage appropriate immunomodulatory responses to various ingested and inhaled antigens.

The Proceedings of The National Academy of Science Journal published a paper this June 2010 exploring the differences in the microbial communities between those children on a western style diet and those from a rural African community whose diet reflected that of a the early humans – high in fibre.[1]

The saying is ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’, or if you are English ‘what happens in Blackpool….’ but the same cannot be said about what happens in utero, as increasing evidence supports the understanding that the maternal nutritional environment and early feeding affects the health of the foetus beyond infancy and into adulthood.[1],[2] An article in Nature’s Mucosal Immunology this month explores some of the key events in foetal and neonatal immune management.[3] It stimulated a revisit to the area of what to consider for parents to be and mums of young children when they ask ‘is there anything I can do to prevent or reduce the risk of allergy or atopy in my child’.

The first moments, weeks and months of life can determine the health outcomes of an individual over the duration of their lifetime and this knowledge represents a significant choice for prospective parents. Fortunately the remarkable adaptability of the immune and central nervous system means that there are numerous opportunities in the early years of life to positively influence health outcomes even if the early stages were less than optimal.

There seems no end to the illnesses this secasteroid is capable of influencing, although it should be of no real surprise that Vit D deficiency is linked to the respiratory condition asthma. The reason….mucosal tissues such as those found in the lung are rich with immune receptors that are intimately tied into the Vit D receptor family. Vitamin D up regulates a specific gene that produces over 200 anti-microbial peptides, some of which work like a broad-spectrum antibiotic.

Because of its beneficial role in respiratory tract infections and immune system modulation, it has been hypothesised that vitamin D status might affect the risks for exacerbations.[1] This paper shows show that children with initial circulating vitamin D levels of 30 ng/mL or less (vitamin D insufficiency) have a 50% greater risk for severe exacerbation over the course of a 4-year clinical trial of asthma treatment than children with circulating vitamin D levels of 30 ng/mL or greater (vitamin D sufficiency) at the start of the trial.

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A Bacteria Triggers Arthritis.

Thursday, 01 July 2010 by | Comments: 2

The gut microbiomes of humans and mice are broadly similar which is helpful as this paper has used the mouse model to explain how a resident bacteria in the gut can induce arthritis. In both hosts human and mouse upwards of ∼1000 different microbial species from ∼10 different divisions colonise the gastrointestinal tract, but just two bacterial divisions—the Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes—and one member of the Archaea appear to dominate, together accounting for ∼98% of the 16S rRNA sequences obtained from this site.[1] 16SrRNA is a laboratory method for analysing bacterial and provides species-specific signature sequences useful for bacterial identification but is not routinely used in diagnostic settings yet.

Their analysis revealed that despite the enormous species variation in the gut a single species of bacteria that lives here is able to trigger a cascade of immune responses that can ultimately result in the development of arthritis.[2] Gut-residing bacteria can also play a role in disorders of the immune system, especially autoimmune disorders in which the body attacks its own cells. The gut microbiota is now known to shape intestinal immune responses during health and disease with systemic effects.

What Do Bacteria Do To Our Immune System?

Thursday, 01 July 2010 by | Comments: 3

The germ theory that has so modernised medicine and driven us, the western world living human to regard all bugs as bad has been undergoing a dramatic rethink over the last few years. Firstly the recognition that your body is teeming with bacteria, providing a warm residence to approximately 10 times as many bacterial cells as human cells. Our mutual inhabitants live on skin, in the respiratory tract and throughout the digestive tract. Your digestive tract alone is home to between 1,000 and 40,000 bacterial species depending on your choice of journal.

Vitamin D is increasingly understood to be an essential component of many aspects of human health and although technically not a “vitamin,” vitamin D is in a class by itself. Its metabolic product, calcitriol, is actually a secosteroid (A compound derived from a steroid in which there has been a ring cleavage) hormone that binds to over 2000 gene receptors (about 10% of the human genome) in the human body. There are 3 recognised ways for adults to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D:

These are:

Butyrate Improves Bowel Transit

Wednesday, 02 June 2010 by | Comments: 3

Problems such as poor transit or constipation are common, and can produce significant misery for the individual compromised in this manner. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid, manufactured in the gut by the anaerobic fermentation of dietary fibres by resident microbiota. It is proposed that apart from its already well understood properties that it has another remarkable effect – the ability to increase the neuronal concentration of the Enteric Nervous System.[1]

Butyrate-generating foods and supplements might become an effective and simple option to prevent or treat functional gut disorders via modulation of enteric neuroplasticity.

Can Bacteria Make You Smarter?

Wednesday, 02 June 2010 by

The potential cognitive gains linked to the role of gastrointestinal bacteria continues to attract international interest. The scientific community are becoming entranced with the notion that our bacterial exposure affects not only the local tissues, but also others including the brain.

Exposure to specific bacteria in the environment, already believed to have antidepressant qualities, could increase learning behaviour.  Mice fed live cultures of Mycobacterium vaccae were able to learn and complete a maze twice as fast as control mice were the key comments delivered at the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology last week.

Mycobacterium vaccae is a natural soil bacterium which people likely ingest or breath in when they spend time in nature,” says Dorothy Matthews of The Sage Colleges in Troy, New York, who conducted the research with her colleague Susan Jenks.

Michael Ash looks at leaky gut with a contemporary approach to investigation, relevance and restoration. It is quite clear that in order to extract nutrients and other sentinel information carrying agents the barrier that divides the contents of the gastric lumen from the host must be permeable. The question that has interested clinicians for many years is – when is it too permeable and what does that mean in terms of health and illness.

A paper in the March edition of Mucosal Immunology explores this concept in some detail and delivers some much needed information and potential direction in terms of dietary management and risk.[1]

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