Have You Weathered A Cytokine Storm?

Chances are you have if you are suffering from Hashimoto’s, autoimmune conditions or a confusing mess of symptoms, you may be experiencing your very own Cytokine Storm season where you will have bad days followed by calm days after the storm and again by bad days. You may have found yourself in the proverbial “up a creek without a paddle” in your autoimmune world.

Cytokine Storms occur when the immune system becomes and remains activated against the immune stimulants beyond the point of being helpful.

A good defense against most illness is a healthy immune system. We all know how a mother bear protects her cubs. At the first hint of danger she takes action to protect them in much the same way as our immune system seeks to protect us. We have been conditioned to think of external microbes as our enemy during a time of infection or inflammation. But our own immune systems are potentially more lethal. When the body detects foreign microorganisms or substances, it can respond by overprotecting the site of that irritation. In its hurry to get antibodies to the infection site, the body may dispatch so many that the level of cytokines becomes highly elevated, creating a Cytokine Storm.

“Storm” is an appropriate metaphor because it acknowledges a variety of mechanisms in a variety of circumstances. A Cytokine Storm is a symptomatic condition which occurs in varying forms and involves a number of different mechanisms. The primary symptoms of a Cytokine Storm are extreme fatigue, low mood, anxiousness, anxiety, insomnia, high fever, intermittent hot flashes, swelling and redness, and nausea. You may be more familiar with a Cytokine Storm known as Septic Shock, which is another example of the immune system gone berserk.

Cytokine Storms occur when the immune system becomes and remains activated against the immune stimulants or physical triggers (food, toxins, bacteria, virus, parasite, etc.) beyond the point of being helpful to where the immune response turns damaging or deadly. Researchers in Psychoneuro-immunology are now reporting emotional events can be a trigger as well. Cytokines are not simply immune, but rather neuro-immune modulators. The nervous system regulates immune cells and the magnitude of an immune response via the effects of peripheral neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, nor-epinephrine, dopamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, acetylcholine, histamine and neuropeptides. The manner in which the cytokines are stimulated and balance between the inhibitory and stimulatory neurotransmitters determine the intensity of a Cytokine Storm.

Persistent, highly elevated levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines induce a complex, dysregulated condition resulting in massive inflammation and fluid accumulation, blood flow dysfunction and eventually tissue destruction. Thus, in Cytokine Storm, the body’s immune system fights to rid itself of the immune stimulant, but the fight somehow escapes from the normal regulatory controls that should have prevented an overzealous immune system from severely damaging or killing its owner. Read more about My Cytokine Storm

After the storm has passed: Cytokine-Induce Sickness Behavior

After the Cytokine Storm has subsided, sick individuals have common symptoms of sickness; little motivation to eat, withdrawal from normal social activities, fever, burning muscles, aching joints,  fatigue and have significant changes in sleep patterns. They display an inability to experience pleasure, have exaggerated responses to pain and brain fog. Pro-inflammatory cytokines acting in the brain cause sickness behaviors. Although Functional Medicine has defined pro-inflammatory cytokines as the central mediators of sickness behavior, each patient exhibits unique circumstances. Specialized lab testing provides a scientific understanding of how cytokines and neurotransmitters are communicating with each other.

What’s Next?  

Calming a Cytokine Storm  and regulating cytokine induced sickness requires a multiple focus approach involving cytokines, neurotransmitters, quenching inflammation, re-regulating the immune system and elimination of any potential triggers. It is crystal clear that there must be negative feedback loops in the immune system, as well as positive ones. The latter enable the system to react quickly to serious infections. The former are needed to keep the system itself from spiraling out of control.

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Neuro-endo-immunology is an emerging field of medical science that seeks to understand the interconnectedness of the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems functioning as a larger whole, termed the “NEI Supersystem.” In order to regulate cytokine induced sickness, you need to find a doctor that has a working knowledge of Neuro-endo-immunology, cytokines and neurotransmitters. Most are found only in labs and are not practicing healthcare providers.

Here are some questions to discuss with your practitioner. 

  • What is a Cytokine Storm?
  • How is TH17 involved in the TH1/TH2 challenge?
  • Do you use lab testing or supplement challenges to determine treatment protocols?
  • What are the different supplements used to challenge your condition?
  • What lab testing do you use?
  • How would they treat your condition?
  • Do they use Stimulated Cytokine or Neurotransmitter testing?

Researchers and most physicians agree that peripheral neurotransmitters impact the brain, especially during a cytokine storm. To date, neurotransmitter testing shows only peripheral neurotransmitters. But imagine you were trying to understand someone who was speaking in a language for which you only knew 17 words! Nonetheless, if you heard the words “danger”, “help”, and “fire”, you would have a decent idea as to the meaning of the message. Similarly, perturbations in the cytokines that we are able to find in the Stimulated Cytokine testing are extremely useful as indicators of the patient’s immune status, or to use the more formal lingo, they are biomarkers of the immune system. Unfortunately, many accomplished Neurologists remain too “brain-based” and overlook the impact neurotransmitter in the body have on the body.

TH1/TH2 Challenge and More

Despite its seductive simplicity, the Th1/Th2 model does not adequately explain T-cell immunity. Many cytokines produced by T-cells do not fit obviously into either category. Recent studies have shown exposure to lectins or bacteria trigger T-cells to produce IL-6, IL-17, and GM-CSF, cytokines not associated with either the Th1 or the Th2 immune system. This has begun an explosion of interest in the generation and function of “Th17” immune system that has not shown signs of tapering off.

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When combined with a strong inflammatory cytokine such as TNFα, interleukin 17 (IL-17) triggers a severe inflammatory response. TNFα was thought to provoke only a TH1 response. Curiously, the ability to control the activity of IL-17 is relatively poor. It’s like being pregnant; once it has started you are just along for the ride.

Case example: We had one case where the doctor used Supplement challenges to determine the treatment. First, they did the GABA challenge. The patient felt great but was put on acetylcholine support and immediately crashed in a cytokine storm. Doctor said it was the flu. Next, they used (Gastro-ULC) making the patient feel better. Doctor stopped that and supplemented with digestive enzymes making the patient crash again. The doctor explained it as a “Healing crisis”. Patient came to our office for help.

Be wary of provoking immune responses. Those having bad reactions to the TH1/TH2 challenge are provoking a Cytokine Storm. Normally, the TH1/TH2 feedback loop is kept in check by the body. However, in some instances, when purposely provoked, the reaction becomes uncontrolled and too many immune cells are activated, much like pouring gas on a fire. This propagates a Cytokine Storm where far too many immune cells are caught in an endless loop of calling more and more immune cells to fight the irritation.

Those who have experienced a Cytokine Storm and have cytokine induced sickness should avoid, herbs and foods, which boost the immune response. TH1 boosters are astragulus, echinacea, goldenseal, immune boosting mushrooms. TH2 boosters are caffeine, green tea, grape seed extract, pine bark extract, and lycopene. Sambucol (which is Elderberry juice), Chlorella algae, Spirulina, Chocolate, Kimchi and Honey are additional foods that can increase cytokine production and should be avoided during a Cytokine Storm. These foods are good for treatment of less severe colds and flu, when the immune response appropriately regulated, but should be avoided when symptoms are being caused by a cytokine storm. Symptoms of a cytokine induced episode vary greatly from individual to individual. A limited list of symptoms are extreme fatigue, low mood, anxiousness, anxiety, insomnia, high fever, intermittent hot flashes, swelling and redness, and nausea.

Cytokine Storms are very serious and with the right set of circumstances can be fatal. If the storm is concentrated in the lungs and airways, the mucus and inflammation has the potential to block airways and result in death. This is recognized as a Type II hypersensitivity allergic reaction and only an Immunologist would connect cytokines with it. Many believe that the Cytokine Storm response was what caused the deaths of so many young adults in the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. New research and understandings have caused some to question vaccinations, especially three-stage vaccinations.

More about Stimulated Cytokine testing?

Stimulated Cytokine testing is intended to assess whether an individual’s symptoms could be attributed to an imbalanced immune response. Our goal is to understand, as best we can, where to target therapeutic interventions, minimizing emotional decisions and guesswork in the therapeutic protocol.

It’s important to note that the standard immune testing by itself cannot distinguish between an immune response that is currently in progress, and one that happened in the past. That’s because it cannot tell the difference between so-called “effector” T cells that are currently fighting an active infection, and “memory” T cells that responded years ago to a prior infection and continue to circulate in the bloodstream.

However, at the same time it’s important to recognize that even a test that measures up to 17 cytokines, as NeuroScience Stimulated Cytokines Comprehensive panel does, is far from actually being “comprehensive”, considering that over 100 cytokines have been described to date!

The Best Option

The Neuro-Endo-Immune (NEI) Supersystem incorporates three vital disciplines: Neurology, Endocrinology, and Immunology, which is the evaluation of the NEI Supersystem through the measurement of neurotransmitters, hormones, and cytokines. Assessment of these essential biochemical mediators provides important insight into the root causes contributing to clinical conditions of a Cytokine Storm and cytokine induced sickness.

Concerned about your Health?

Call today! 530-615-4083

Bone Marrow Fatigue

Do you have low white blood cells?  Are you always feeling bad and constantly fatigued but never get “sick”? If this is you?  You may have Bone Marrow Fatigue.

Do you have hip or sciatic pain the goes away for a couple of days after a Chiropractic adjustment? But then comes back again. You may have Bone Marrow Edema.

Bone Marrow Fatigue

When you have a low blood count, this means your bone marrow is not making enough of one type of blood cells. Bone marrow is a sponge-like tissue inside the bones. It contains stem cells that develop into the three types of blood cells that the body needs:

  • Red blood cells carry oxygen throughout your body.
  • White blood cells fight infections.
  • Platelets stop bleeding.

It has long been known that cells that make red blood cells make up the bone marrow. However, knowledge that immune response begins within the bone marrow, in other words, that bone marrow is also a secondary lymphatic organ, is fairly recent. Under normal circumstances, various cells form within the bone marrow, including endothelial precursor cells (EPC), neutrophils (Nf) and dendritic cells (DC).

Chronic Inflammation

Inflammation is part of the healing process for wounds and infections. Inflammation is a normal immune system response that functions to protect the body from infection and diseases. During inflammation, white blood cells and other body chemicals attempt to remove any potentially harmful substances from the body.

The body is set up for short sharp bursts of inflammation, to combat microbial, mechanical or chemical insults. This inflammation happens locally at the site of injury, but is guided by the autonomic nervous system and the Neuro-Endo-Immune Supersystem. The whole point is to generate enough inflammation to combat the threat through (stimulatory neurotransmitters, inflammatory cytokines & chemokines, white blood cells and the sympathetic nervous system) and then cool, repair and close up the area of injury ending the inflammation through (inhibitory neurotransmitters, anti-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, white blood cells and the parasympathetic nervous system).

Disruption of the NEI Supersystem through long-term stress and the ingestion of inappropriate foods and chemicals irritation create a state of chronic inflammation. Our immune system can become fatigued, working at a low level, no longer able to generate enough energy for full protection, but still causing on going cell damage through low-grade inflammation. We become both depleted of certain white blood cells and others continue to maintain the inflammation.

The following are the most common symptoms of bone marrow fatigue. However, each person may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

LOW PLATELETS:

  • Easy bruising
  • Bleeding: nose bleeds, gums, or mouth
  • Tiny red spots on the skin (petechiae)
  • Blood in the urine
  • Dark or black bowel movements

LOW WHITE BLOOD CELLS:

  • Fever and chills
  • Rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Signs of infection (anywhere in the body):
  • Swelling
  • Redness
  • An area that is warm to touch

LOW RED BLOOD CELLS:

  • Fatigue
  • Paleness of skin, lips, and nail beds
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tires easily with exertion
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath

Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)

The myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are all disorders of the stem cell in the bone marrow responsible for producing blood cells. In MDS, blood production of Red and White Blood Cells is disorderly and ineffective. The number and quality of blood-forming cells decline, sometimes irreversibly, further impairing blood cell production.

What are the symptoms of Bone Marrow Fatigue and MDS?

Symptoms vary depending on the individual and the severity and time the bone marrow has been overworked. Symptoms may include:

  • Tiredness, or fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Pinpoint red spots on the skin caused by bleeding from small blood vessels
  • Easy bruising
  • Frequent infections
  • Fevers
  • Pale skin
  • Shortness of breath

Compare these symptoms to your diagnosis of choice – Thyroid, Fibromyalgia, Lyme, etc. All of these symptoms would be diagnostic of those conditions without question.

Lower risk myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) are characterized by increased apoptosis of hematopoietic cells in the bone marrow (BM). The mechanism driving this excessive apoptosis involves multiple immune molecules, including inflammatory cytokines such as interferon-γ (IFN-γ), tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and interleukins (ILs). Interleukin-17 (IL-17) is the hallmark cytokine produced by CD4(+) Th17 cells, and IL-17 mediates activation of the adaptive T-cell response inducing an inflammatory cytokine environment. Elevated IL-17 levels and IL-17-induced IFN-γ and TNF-α overproduction may be involved in the pathogenesis of lower risk MDS. Bone broth stimulates production of IL-17.

Opposing memes of Medical vs. Alternative / Functional Practitioners.

The Medical Communitysuppresses the immune system with stronger and stronger drugs, i.e. LDN, hydrocortisone, etc.

Alternative and Functional Practitionersbelieve the autoimmune reaction occurs because the tissue is so toxic that the immune system basically can’t tell the good guys from the bad guys. It then starts attacking the tissues where the toxins are pooled.

Both Communities believe the immune system is working perfectly except that it cannot tell healthy tissue from bad tissue; bad bugs from good bugs, etc.

The Alternative and Functional Practitionerstreat patients with immune stimulating supplements and say, “You are going through a ‘Herx’ or ‘Flair.’ You will have more and more good days, less bad days. Stick with it.” “The flare-ups won’t be as bad or last as long.” This all makes perfect sense when they say it. Plus numerous websites say the same thing, so it must be true. They treat going through a ‘Herx’ or a ‘Flair’ as a rite of passage. I did this myself.  They claim – Don’t be afraid to stimulate the lymph, stimulate the immune system. It is the only way to heal these diseases.

Both of these memes will see initial success. After a three months the immune system will break free of the suppression or become so fatigued from the constant stimulation it will not be able to respond. Exaggerated response occur with administering more drugs or explained away as a ‘Herx’ or ‘Flair.’

Overstimulation of the Immune System

It is possibly to have an over active immune system, in very simple terms that is what is happening when you have an autoimmune disease. Autoimmunity is an ‘out of control’immune response. Honestly the entire idea of “boosting the immune system” is an invention of the supplement industry designed to sell products that practitioners capitalize on. It is validated by the ‘Common Cold.” Boost the immune system and it lasts seven days. Without immune stimulators it last a week. Okay the symptoms are less using immune stimulants. I’ve done that myself. It’s a great scam because both sick and healthy people think they need it.

This has then been extrapolated to any disease. Boosting the immune system will heal any disease in theory. They blindly follow this meme of immune stimulation. When in reality, more harm than good is being done. Everything is based on symptoms. Eventually with constant immune stimulation using supplements, bone broth, etc. The bone marrow producing the immune cells becomes so fatigued that quality and quantity of blood cells is impaired. The character of the immune cells behavior is changed. They want the immune system always on the hunt, always looking for something to do. Antibodies from previous exposure are deemed current infection. Why don’t the antibodies go away? They are memory cells from previous exposure not from an active infection.

Bone Marrow Fatigue is characterized by increased damage and/or death of hematopoietic cells in the bone marrow (BM). Here is where the miracle of immune-stimulation occurs. Inflammation is caused by an immune response. Without immune cells, inflammation is reduced. Based on reduced symptomatology or the lack thereof, this is a success until it is not. They crash the immune system by overstimulation, claiming success even though the patient has not improved overall.

Elegance in Healing

It was during the time when I was one of five Doctors across the United States given carte’ blanc immune lab testing that I realized the ‘Herx’ and/or ‘Flair’ is a Cytokine Storm with Th17 leading the charge. The cytokine storm have captured little attention of the public and the healthcare community alike, and while the general notion of an excessive or uncontrolled release of proinflammatory cytokines is well known in research, the concept of a cytokine storm and the biological consequences of cytokine overproduction are not clearly defined or recognized. Read More…

When the immune system is fighting pathogens, cytokines signal immune cells such as T-cells and macrophages to travel to the site of infection. In addition, cytokines activate those cells, stimulating them to produce more cytokines. Normally, this feedback loop is kept in check by the body. However, in some instances, the reaction becomes uncontrolled, and too many immune cells are activated in a single place. Bone Broth is loaded with cytokines signalling the immune system to respond in the overproduction of immune cells and attracting the immune cells to the location of the bone broth. Thus, promoting gut inflammation. Someone that is immune suppressed will feel better, temporarily. Then the blame is shifted to food sensitivities because ‘bone broth’ is healthy and could not possibly do any harm.

The cytokine storm is caused by an exaggerated response when the immune system encounters a new and highly pathogenic invader or a ‘false flag’ by immune stimulating foods and supplements. Cytokine storms have potential to do significant damage to body tissues and organs.

Healing must be elegant, working with the body’s own natural healing momentum and capabilities.

Cytokine Storm Treatment

The clinical presentations of all cytokine storm symptoms (CSS) can be strikingly similar, creating diagnostic uncertainty. However, clinicians should avoid the temptation to treat all CSS equally, because the triggers inciting inflammatory responses vary widely. It it thought that failure to identify and address this underlying trigger(s) results in delayed, nonoptimal, or potentially harmful consequences. However, chasing triggers is futile until the immune system is calmed and quieted. More often than not, calming and quieting the immune system eliminates the majority of the so called triggers.

You are a unique individual with your own set of circumstances. Stop trying to find a diagnosis box to stuff yourself into. You need help and I can provide assistance in sorting your system out. Call today 530-615-4083.