It is becoming increasingly evident that many if not most chronic conditions are based in large part on an infection and immune response. This includes more than just hepatitis, HIV, EBV, etc., or with the manifestations of CFIDS, Candidiasis, certain forms of cervical dysplasia, Gulf War Syndrome (GWS), atherosclerosis, and cancer. All of these examples there is a clear component of infection and immune response as key contributors to the disease condition. Arthritis, fibromyalgia, coronary artery disease, ulcers, psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis, are just a few of the conditions in which infection and immune response appear to be the driving force in the disease. While anti-microbials seem the logical approach, there is a growing realization that immunology may be the approach that provides long term answers.
Restoring balance and function to your immune system, in the face of a chronic infectious (viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic, etc) challenge is a fundamental challenge necessary for recovery. To understand the therapeutic approach and goal of optimal immunity, you must know a little bit about cytokines, which ultimately control our immune responses. Using nutrients and many other factors to induce or suppress specific cytokine responses is one approach that will be explored in this web page.
Cytokines are chemical messengers that control immune responses. They are secreted primarily by white blood cells, T lymphocytes, and epithelial cells. There are two general groupings of cytokines based on the effect they have on lymphocytes: Th1 and Th2. The balance between Th1 and Th2 determines the type of immune response and the resultant health or disease that results.
Th1 (T-cell Helper type 1) promote cell-mediated immunity (CMI) while Th2 (T-cell Helper type 2) induce humoral immunity. Viral infections are largely controlled by cells fighting the virus, while humoral immunity involves antibody formation. Robert Darga MD describes, “Two different methods exist by which the body fights infections: humoral immunity (Th2) results in the production of antibodies to neutralize foreign invaders outside of the cells, while cellular immunity (Th1) directs Killer T-cells (CD8) to attack microorganisms or abnormal cells at the sites of infection inside the cells.”
In chronic viral disease, the worst of which is the HIV progression to AIDS, there is a shift from Th1 (cellular immunity) to the Th2 (humoral immunity). Since antibodies are not as effective in defeating viruses as are the cells themselves, viral diseases progress when there is a shift from Th1 to Th2.
The term cytokine is derived from the term for cells (cyto as in cytology) and the term for action or movement (kine from the word kinetic). They include chemicals that induce cells into a particular action. Some of the cytokines include interleukins and the 3 classes of interferons called alpha, beta and gamma and various subsets. The term interferon is derived from its role to “interfere” with infection.
There are multiple factors that affect either Th1 or Th2 cytokines. Th1 cytokines such as Interleukin-2 (IL-2), Interleukin 12 (IL-12), gamma interferon (IFN-gamma), and IgA (an immunoglobulin that supports mucosal immunity). The Th2 immune response is enhanced by interleukins 4, 5, 6 and 10 and alpha interferon.
In many cases, an infection is fought with both arms of the immune system; at other times only one is needed to control the infection.
A failure of the Th1 arm of the immune system and an overactive Th2 arm is implicated in a wide variety of chronic illnesses. These include AIDS, CFIDS, Candidiasis, Multiple allergies, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS), viral hepatitis, Gulf War Syndrome (GWS), cancer, etc. If these two arms of the immune system could be balanced by stimulating Th1 and decreasing Th2, then many of the symptoms associated with these chronic illnesses would diminish or disappear and we would have found the answer to immune restoration and balance or the equivalent of a cure. With AIDS, it has been reported that as HIV infection progresses from the asymptomatic stage to advanced disease, the immune response appears to shift from the more effective Th1 state to the ineffective Th2 state.
It is important to realize that a normal functioning immune system needs both arms – Th1 and Th2 to provide flexibility to respond to different kinds of pathogens (viruses, fungi, mycoplasmas and bacteria etc) both inside and outside of the cells. If the Th2 arm is chronically over-active as is found in many chronic disease states such as viral infections, candidiasis, and cancer, while the Th1 arm is underactive. In end stage illnesses, both arms of immune system fail.
The skin and mucus membranes are the body’s primary barrier to keep out unwanted pathogens. An open cut and/or a leaky gut is like a fortress with an open door. Viruses, fungus bacteria, parasites, etc have easy access to get inside. Il-12 stimulates Killer T cells in the mucus membranes to stop viral invasions before they get enter the body. Restoring normal IgA in the mucus membranes is also critical to help reduce infectious agents, foods and chemical entry into the body. Clearly restoring mucosal immunity is a critical first step to take in immune restoration.
The epithelium (mucus membranes) of the intestines are a fine filter to let nutrients in and keep out unusable food particles. When pathogens like certain bacteria, candida albicans, parasites, etc., replicate in or on the mucus membranes, they inflame the epithelium and create a leaky gut that allows byproducts of faulty digestion to enter the blood. This triggers an antibody response (Th2) that weakens the cell-mediated immune response systematically (Th1). This is the basis of a leaky gut (increased intestinal permeability) discussed in more detail in another webpage.
Multiple studies show that high levels of IgA and CD8 Killer T cells in the mucus membranes of the colon or/and vagina increase the resistance to viral and bacterial infections. To increase the CD8 Killer T cells in the mucus membranes and throughout the body, Th-1 promoters need to be induced with resultant IgA, IL-12, and interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) production – the key cytokines for restoring mucosal and systemic cellular immunity.
The three most common factors that drive Th2 cytokine responses are:
Among the most problematic hydrogenated vegetable oils are in margarine and shortening due to their high content of trans-fatty acids. Soybean oil, safflower, corn, sunflower, canola and most other vegetable oils should also be avoided by persons with chronic illness who have a predominant TH2 cytokine profile (too much Il-6, Il-10, TNF and triglycerides). It is nearly impossible to find vegetable oils that are strictly cold processed. Except for expeller pressed oils, nearly all other vegetables are processed with solvents, hexane or gasoline, to remove the oils from the seeds. The oil and hexane/gasoline mixture is then heated to 302 degrees F. to remove the hexane or heptane (gasoline) (1). At this point, the oils are now toxic for human use as they are twisted out of their natural “cis” shape and become trans-fatty acids. Add heat, light and oxygen to oils and the lipid peroxides increase and they become rancid and develop a strong taste. The safest and freshest oils to buy are cold pressed (best choice) or expeller that are stored in a can or black bottle to keep out light. It is even better if Vitamin E or BHT is added as an antioxidant to prevent lipid peroxide formation.
It should be clear that consuming canned soda (i.e. Coca-cola) and French fries regularly will make you immune compromised. Any situation that allows you to become infected will be much more likely to progress into a chronic condition just on the basis of your dietary choices.
Caution with tuna fish, although high in DHA/EPA, tuna is often also contaminated with the toxic heavy metal, mercury. For this reason it is suggested that tuna be consumed once a week or less than other types of fish. Of course fried fish are not preferable to raw, fresh, canned, boiled or broiled fish. The vegetable oils used in frying fish will promote a TH2 cytokine response that negates the benefits of the good oils. Udo Erasmus also advises avoiding fish that contain cetoleic acid as it is a difficult fatty acid for the body to break down. Cetoleic acid is found in herring, capelin, menhaden and anchovetta.
One aspect of essential fats of relevance is the metabolism of fatty acids following trauma, injury or invasion of the body by pathogens. Pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-1, IL-6 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) are rapidly produced in response to the injury as part of the body’s normal initialresponse. However, if this pro-inflammatory response fails to shut down, damaging effects result (pathology).
Swiss researchers Grimble and Tappia report (Modulation of pro-inflammatory cytokine biology by unsaturated fatty acids. by Grimble RF, Tappia; Z Ernahrungswiss 1998;37 suppl 1:57-65) “excessive production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, or production of cytokines in the wrong biological context, are associated with mortality and pathology in a wide range of diseases, such as malaria, sepsis, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, cancer and AIDS…..Among the nutrients, fats have a large potential for modulating cytokine biology. A number of trials have demonstrated the anti-inflammatory effects of fish oils, which are rich in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis and asthma..”
French researchers Khalfoun et al found that the addition of n-3 type fish oils (DHA/EPA) reduced IL-6 production in endothelial cell lines. They report that the n-3 fatty acids from fish oils suppress inflammation. (DHA and EPA acids inhibit in vitro human endothelial production of interleukin -6. Adv Exp Med Biol 1997; 400B:589-97)
In addition to the effects of omega-3 oils on the immune system and inflammation, Udo Erasmus in his book, Fats that Heal – Fats that Kill reports that DHA and EPA (from fish oil) reduced triglycerides by 65% in one study. Erasmus also reports that EPA and DHA keep platelets from sticking, lowers fibrinogen levels in the blood and prevents hardening of the arteries, prevents strokes and inhibits the growth of cancer and tumors. Mostly good things happen with omega-3 fatty acid intake.
Oleic acids are called monounsaturated and are found in cold pressed olive oil, hazelnut or filbert oil, green and ripe olives, filberts and hazelnuts, and less so in almonds and almond oil. Monounsaturated oils are best used raw, but may be used in moderation for cooking. For salad dressing, use Extra Virgin Olive oil or hazelnut oil.
Coconut oil seems to be neutral – it neither suppresses nor enhances cell mediated immunity. In another article by Grimble, he states: “Monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 …fatty acids suppress TNF and IL-1 production and actions, while n-6 (polyunsaturated vegetable oils) exert the opposite effect.” (Nutritional modulation of cytokine biology, Grimble RF; Nutrition 1998 Jul-Aug;14(7-8):634-40). For baking purposes, best choices are coconut oil, butter or hazelnut oil. Almond oil is worth a try as well.
Conclusion: Most vegetable oils should be avoided as they suppress cell-mediated immunity (CMI), the exception are those vegetable oils high in monounsaturated fatty acids like extra virgin olive oil, hazelnut oil, etc. Almond, avocado or peanut oil are also high in monounsaturated oils and might safely be used in moderation.
The Journal of the American Medical Assn (JAMA 1996;275(11):870-6) article on the therapeutic uses of intestinal flora reviewed all the published material since 1966 on the subject. They reported that controlled studies have established that L. Casei, L. acidophilus, B longum and Saccharomyces boulardii have been successfully used to treat infantile diarrhea caused by antibiotics. They said the time has come to explore the therapeutic applications of these agents.
Cho YK, Lee, Oh and Kim report on a study comparing 5.4 grams of Korean Red Ginseng daily on 16 HIV+ patients versus 10 patients who took no anti-HIV medications for 3 – 4 years. In the group using this form of ginseng, the average CD4 count increased from baseline of 301 to 359. In the control group, the average baseline CD4 count of 352 decreased to 156. Cho et al concluded that “KRG has definite long-term immune modulating effect without side effects on HIV-infected patients.” (“Long term immunological effect of ginseng on HIV-infected patients,”Cho YK et al; Abstr Gen Meet Am Soc Microbiol 1997;97:247 (abstract no. E44)).
In another study from Seoul, Korea, Yun and Choi reported that ginseng users had a lower risk of developing cancer than non-users. The data they published indicated red ginseng was more effective in preventing cancer that the Korean white ginseng (Preventive effects of ginseng intake against various human cancers; Yun TK et al; Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 1995;4(4):401-8).
PCM-4 has been reported reduced tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Studies have shown that high TNF levels are associated with wasting syndrome and increased HIV replication. PCM-4 is a concentrated extract of Siberian Ginseng. There is basis to believe similar results can be obtained at a lower cost with the Siberian Ginseng.
Bacillus subtilis and lichenformis produced a “detergent-like” substance called “surfactin” that dissolves the lipid envelope around certain microbes thereby rendering them completely inactivated. German researcher Vollenbroich D reported “The antiviral activity of surfactin, a cyclic lipopeptide antibiotic and biosurfactant produced by Bacillus subtilis, was determined for a broad spectrum of viruses… especially herpes and retroviruses…” (Biologicals 1997;25(3):289-97)
Mycoplasma and bacterial membranes also disintegrated by exposure to surfactin (Appl Environ Microbiol 1997;63(1):44-9). A lipopeptide similar to surfactin is produced by bacillus lichenformis that may be even more potent at dissolving lipid envelope viruses than surfactin from subtilis (Appl Environ Microbiol 1994;60(1):31-8). Potent antifungal volatiles (AFV) that inactivated most types of fungus are produced by bacillus subtilis (Fiddaman PJ et al. J. Appl Bacteriol 1994;76(4):395-4-5).
Products that contain both the bacillus subtilis and lichenformis have been reported to help symptoms. Scientific research demonstrates that surfactin produced by subtilis inactivates lipid-envelope viruses (HIV, HHV-6 strains A and B, EBV, CMV, herpes.
Skov L et al report that exposure of the skin to ultraviolet B (UVB) light causes immunosuppression relevant to the induction of skin cancer. They studied both UVA and UVB light on the skin and found their cytokine effects were opposite (Br J Dermatol 1998;138(2):216-20). They found UVB increased Il-10 (Th-2) significantly. They did not find this with UVA. With UVA, they found a decrease in TNF-alpha while they found a significant increase in TNF-alpha with UVB. Other researchers have found an increase in skin cancer in persons with psoriasis who undergo extensive UVB light treatments. Sunlight is safer if you eat a wholesome diet rich in antioxidants and use vitamins that promote proper vitamin balance.
Raw garlic can be irritating to sensitive mucus membranes. Eating raw garlic with food at the end of a meal may help. Fresh parsley helps deodorize the garlic.
Glutathione promotes antigen presentation and stimulates CD8 cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Alpha Lipoic acid, selenium, N-Acetylcysteine, cysteine, cold processed whey proteins, certified raw milk and L-glutamine are used to increased glutathione levels. Adequate amounts of Vitamin B12, Vitamin B6 and B2 (Riboflavin) are also necessary. Vitamin B6 is needed to convert methionine to cysteine, the rate limiting amino acid in glutathione synthesis. Riboflavin helps to regenerate reduced glutathione. Vitamin B12 should be taken sublingually or in form combined with intrinsic factor, which is necessary for absorption of vitamin B12. Any supplemental factors that replaces glutathione helps Th1 responses. We use our own product, EPL-GSH, with excellent clinical response. To my knowledge it is the only oral form of glutathione that shows the clinical response as with intravenous GSH.
Some substances induce both Th1 and Th2 cytokines including echinacea, astragalus and beta 1,3 glucan. These substances are best used in a pulsed protocol, 1 to 3 days per week and not continuously. Excessive intake of zinc is immunosuppressive and a lack of zinc is immunosuppressive. A safe dose range for adults is 25 to 50 mg daily.
Vitamin C activates Natural Killer cell function if used in a high dose (5000 to 10,000 mg) 3 days per week only. When used every daily, the body creates an enzyme to inactivate the Vitamin C rendering it ineffective.
To kill stubborn candidiasis and fungal infections other than prescription drugs like Diflucan, it is Oregamax (Northern Spice and Herb Co). Several persons with CFIDS or candidiasis have told this is the most effective product they have found for Candida Albicans. Some persons have taken as much as 3 capsules three times a day. It is important to supplement with Biotin to keep the yeast in its single cell state where it is noninvasive. Japanese researchers have found that oregano also kills the HIV virus. The wild crafted oregano is the most potent product on the market. One lady told me she used oil of oregano (Northern Spice) in enema water and had excellent results. However, unless you turn on those Th1 cytokines, the candida will be back with the first sweet roll you eat.
CD4 and many other types of white blood cells are in the intestines to inspect and determine the safety of the byproducts of digestion. Proteins and other nutrients that are not properly digested are attacked by the immune system when they get past the mucus membranes. Hence the importance of eating foods in a way to assist in their complete digestion, that is, eating slowly and mixing lot of saliva with each mouthful. The use of cultured, fermented, raw or living foods high in natural digestive enzymes or the taking of supplemental enzymes will assist in the digestion process. When you combine poor digestion with leaky gut syndrome caused by Candida Albicans overgrowth, you have a combination that causes serious stress on the immune system and weakens the capacity of the immune system to deal effectively with infectious organisms elsewhere in the body.
This stress is further exacerbated when the mucus membranes are weak and there is a failure of mucosal immunity (i.e.. lack of IgA and CD8 cytotoxic lymphocytes in the mucosal membranes). These factors that can stress the immune response occur not only in HIV infection, but in HHV-6A, CFIDS, Candidiasis, Hepatitis, GWS, cancer and in persons with allergies and multiple chemical sensitivities.
The large intestines (colon) is a nest for the growth and replication of many pathogens that contribute to immune dysfunction and many symptoms. Published scientific research demonstrates that the gut can be heavily infected with HIV, parasites, candida albicans, CMV, tuberculosis, hepatitis viruses, cytomegalovirus and mycobacterium avium complex (MAC/MAI) to name a few.
In CFIDS, restoring mucosal integrity and immunity should substantially reduce symptoms and digestive disorders and improve the immune response against HHV-6A that causes neurological aberrations elsewhere.
Healthy mucus membranes are a first line of defense against pathogens (i.e. HIV, HHV-6A, papilloma, herpes, hepatitis etc.) and foreign proteins. Incompletely digested foods as well as toxins from putrefying bacteria and parasites results from