Autoimmunity – Is Your Immune System Being Hijacked?

16631578_sDid you feel you have to lead your Doctor in the diagnosis of Autoimmune disease? Truth be told, most do not understand the immune system. If you are having trouble identifying Th1 or Th2 dominance. You may be relived to find out there is more to it and there are hackers and jackers involved keeping your immune system confused. Doing a google search results in multiple websites with a variety of descriptions.

  • Autoimmune disorders are diseases that occur when the body produces an inappropriate immune response against its own tissues.
  • The immune system can go awry and attack parts of you, any part of you.
  • Autoimmune diseases are characterized by the body’s immune responses being directed against its own tissues, causing prolonged inflammation and subsequent tissue destruction.

How can a person develop autoimmunity with a normal functioning immune system?

What is the Immune system?

The immune system, which is made up of special cells, messengers and directors, tissues, and organs, defends people against germs and microorganisms every day. The cells involved are white blood cells, or leukocytes, which come in two basic types that combine to seek out and destroy disease-causing organisms or substances. The two basic types of leukocytes are:

  • phagocytes, cells that chew up invading organisms
  • lymphocytes, cells that allow the body to remember and recognize previous invaders and help the body destroy them

These cells are further subdivided into Th1 and Th2. Th1-type tend to produce the proinflammatory responses responsible for killing bacteria and viruses, clearing damaged cells from the body and perpetuating autoimmune responses. The Th2-type are associated with the promotion of allergic or sensitivities and clearing parasites, which has more of an anti-inflammatory response. The optimal scenario would therefore seem to be that humans should produce a well balanced Th1 and Th2 response, suited to the immune challenge.

Excessive proinflammatory responses can lead to uncontrolled tissue damage, so there needs to be a mechanism to counteract this. In excess, Th2 responses will counteract the Th1 controlled immune response. In a normally functioning immune system, the same occurs with Th1 counterbalancing the Th2 response.

Some websites and books recommend taking high doses of immune stimulating supplements to determine either Th1 or Th2 dominance. Therefore, in theory, a TH2 stimulant can be used to determine a TH1 dominance and vice versa. They are putting their trust in an unregulated and uncontrolled immune system to provide the answers. In reality, most only stimulate a cytokine storm.

Many regard autoimmunity as a Th1 weighted imbalance, and recently there have been recommendations in ways to redirect the Th1 responses in favor of Th2 responses to try to reduce the incidence of autoimmunity. Some groups have been using high dose Th2 supplements to drive up the Th2 response in established autoimmune disease. Therefore, in theory, a TH2 stimulant can be used to suppress a TH1 autoimmune response and vice versa.

This works in theory and in healthy people, if the cells mentioned above are working as they are supposed to and have no outside influences. There is the perception that the immune system is always working in a normal functioning manner in all cases – even in an autoimmune case. This is true and yet it is not. This begs the question: How can a person develop autoimmunity with a normally functioning immune system?

Faulty Theories

Healthcare and health research are categorized and compartmentalized. You go to the Endocrinologist for your thyroid and a Gynecologist for your hormones and the list goes on. The same goes for researchers. All but a very few immunologists understand the immune system and then only from a theoretical research perspective, not from a clinical perspective in a real person. While most of the time they get it right. Most of your immune systems do not read their research papers.

A good research paper focuses on one isolated topic free of all outside influence. So they can really understand and describe their observations. Recently there was a big ‘OOPS – we missed that one’ regarding gastrointestinal bacteria. Ninety-nine percent (99%) of ‘all’ gastrointestinal microbes are anaerobic. This means they cannot survive in air. While all the research was done by using aerobic cultures. This is the equivalent of testing for fish in a lake by putting them in a kiddy pool on a hot parking lot. Do you think the fish change their behavior and how long is it before they die? Only a few capable of surviving. The results are misinterpreted because it was a bad test. The results are Asian Carp in the Trout lake and Candida in the gut.

8031638_sHackers and Jackers

The Immunologist only study the effects of the immune system against food, bacteria, viruses, parasites and your body. Microbiologist only study the effects of bacteria, viruses, and parasites against your immune system. Pharmacologist only study the effects of lectins (chemical deterrents in plants are called secondary metabolites, i.e. trypsin inhibitor, chymotrypsin inhibitor, α-amylase inhibitor, phytohemagluttinin (lectin), phytic acid, oxalic acid, nitrate and nitrite, L-mimosine, canavanine, L-DOPA, glucosinolates, cyanogenic glucosides/cyanogens, tannins, gossypol, chlorogenic acid, saponins, phorbol esters and alkaloids) affects on your body. Unfortunately, they don’t communicate.

Immunologist isolate the immune system from possible Microbiological and Pharmacological influences. Why? Because microbes and secondary metabolites in plants because they alter the immune response making their studies invalid.

Plants invest energy into the production of seeds and fruits. Fruit plants have evolved to encourage fruit eaters to consume their fruit for seed dispersal but also evolved secondary metabolites to decrease consumption of unripe fruit until the seeds are ready for dispersal. Vegetables have evolved to discourage vegetable eaters from consuming the plant by producing secondary metabolites in the leaves, roots and stems to decrease consumption before the plants have bolted and the seeds are ready for dispersal.

Many plants use the gastrointestinal tracts of their consumers to disperse the seeds. If the seeds remain in the gut long enough they can be digested. Most digestion occurs when food makes contact with the stomach and intestinal lining. Plants have developed protection from this by having a fibrous outer hull containing toxic secondary metabolites. The fibrous hull resists digestion while the secondary metabolites irritate or poisons the intestinal lining to encourage quick passage through the gut. These toxic lectins damage the intestinal lining where the so-called good bacteria have attached to. Thus the lectins have a triple effect on your body by:

  • poisoning and damaging the intestinal lining with scar tissue covering the damaged area
  • damaged intestinal lining cannot support a good bacterial population
  • damaged intestinal lining cannot support immunoglobulin.

Resulting in a scarred leaky gut, no place for good bacteria to reside and no immunoglobulin protection. The damage from the lectins leads to a Ghetto Gut environment. Good bacteria inhabit a Ghetto Gut, but their behavior is changed to ensure their ability to survive and reproduce in that bad environment. Opportunistic microbes (thugs, hackers and taliban) fill the void left by the absence of a healthy microbial barrier. E. coli are the most opportunistic with gastrointestinal lining exposure to lectins. Microbes (bacteria, mold, viruses and parasites) hack into your nervous, hormone and immune systems for their survival.

a) Immune cell attempts to protect impaired intestinal barrier from planktonic bacteria. b) Planktonic bacteria attach to gut lining. Loosing ability to swim and begin producing protective biofilm. c) While more planktonic bacteria colonize biofilm. Leukocyte releases enzymes damage intestinal lining cells around biofilm. d) Biofilm fills the void created by the phagocytic enzymes. Leukocytes double efforts increasing the damage to intestinal lining. Fatiguing the immune system.

a) Immune cell attempts to protect impaired intestinal barrier damaged by lectins from planktonic bacteria. b) Planktonic bacteria attach to gut lining. Loosing ability to swim and begin producing protective biofilm. c) While more planktonic bacteria colonize biofilm. Leukocyte releases enzymes damage intestinal lining cells around biofilm. d) Biofilm fills the void created by the phagocytic enzymes. Leukocytes double efforts increasing the damage to intestinal lining. Fatiguing the immune system.

There are numerous sources reporting that gut microbes can alter or control you moods, thoughts and behavior. They do this by hacking into your Neuro-Endo-Immune Supersystem. Just like the Taliban, they try avoid attracting the attention of the immune system. Granted in a healthy gut, the microbes and the gut lining tolerate each other. But not in an unhealthy gut. Microbes develop enclaves called biofilm which are safe areas where the immune system and no antibiotics can enter. Not only are they protected the immune cells tries to chew around the biofilm to remove it from the lining.

It becomes a Chicken and the Egg Question. Which came first? Food by itself is a good thing. Microbes are beneficial in many ways. Do you enjoy eating a fresh vegetable or fruit year-around? That is not the way nature developed. There is a reason why you don’t see Farmers Markets in December. Plants grow and produce fruit during the spring and summer. There is nothing better than a fresh fruit or ready to eat vegetable. Lectins are neutralized by the plant when the seed is ready to be dispersed, coincidentally occurring at the same time as when the flesh of the fruit is at its best to be eaten. Thus ensuring seed dispersal.

In order for you to eat fruits and vegetables when they are not naturally growing or producing. Plants are genetically modified with numerous lectins to survive early picking, and transportation  from the field, through the warehouse and onto the produce stand at the market. The lectins are not neutralized and only partially diminished by cooking.

16772896_sTime for a Reality Check

Because lectins are invisible to immunoglobulin testing. Their toxicity stimulate a direct histamine and complement cascade immune response. A Th17 response is now necessary to clean up the damage. WHOA! Where did Th17 come from. The websites and book don’t mention Th17 so it cannot be important. Th17 is activated when neither Th1 or Th2 can take care of their responsibilities.

Microbes add to the confusion by cleaving immunoglobulins, producing nitric oxide to defend themselves and hacking into the immune system to make themselves invisible or confuse the immune system by shifting the blame. Th1 and Th2 started arguing over who’s job it is. Th17 then steps in, attempting to clean up the mess. Even Th17 is stymied not only by the microbes but by the toxic lectin – secondary metabolites.

As a result of the this, the immune system is confused resulting in an autoimmune response. The Autoimmune Diet has become popular with mixed results. Some feels better than they did but are asking how can I eat this good and feel this bad? The easy answer is you are eating a ‘healthy’ diet of lectin-laden food. Probiotics are another cure-all. Gut microbes are necessary for good health. Live gut microbes adapt their behavior to the gut environment.

Most probiotics are live at the time of production. Refrigeration gives them a little longer life. But most are dead by the time you take them. Dead probiotics only stimulate a Th1 response to clean up their dead carcasses. If you are autoimmune and Th1 dominant do you really want to stimulate your autoimmunity. Again what happens when Th1 cannot take care of business?

16631578_sThe Backfire Approach to Autoimmunity

A backfire or back burn is a fire that is set deliberately in the path of an oncoming fire. As it burns, it consumes fuel, thereby depriving the primary fire of tinder when it reaches the site. When the technique is executed correctly, it stops a wildfire in its tracks, or confines it, making it much easier to control.

Some are using what I call the Backfire Approach. If you are Th1, stimulate Th2. In theory, this sounds logical. But not in an uncontrolled, hacked into, lectin exposed body. In an autoimmune body, this backfires and instead of calming Th1. You end up with both Th1, Th2 stimulated with Th17 trying to clean up the mess.

There are a couple of definitions of Backfire:

  • (of an engine) undergo a mistimed explosion in the cylinder or exhaust, i.e.”a car backfired in the road”
  • (of a plan or action) rebound adversely on the originator; have the opposite effect to what was intended. “overzealous stimulation of the immune system backfired on her”

Bad things happen when things ‘backfire’. Especially when your immune system is involved. While the focus remains on the Th1 and Th2 systems and addressing the imbalance through stimulation and dietary restriction. Despite this, many are experiencing ‘backfire’ events.

After seeing patients fail using immune stimulation and dietary changes. I took a step back and looked at the big picture. Serendipity stepped in, providing me with an opportunity to better understand the NEI Supersystem. As a result of the I wrote the Autoimmune Diet Lectin Avoidance guidelines.

No one is asking what controls the Th1, Th2 and Th17 immune systems. Leaving the perception that the controls are fine and the immune systems are in disarray. What I found was cytokines and chemokines control and direct the immune system. Guess what microbes use to hack into the immune system with – cytokines, chemokines and neurotransmitters. Combine that with the toxic lectins from the ‘healthy’ diet the immune system can become either over stimulated or too fatigued to respond. The ‘good’ news is that when the immune system is too fatigued to respond you will not feel sick. You’ll just not feel good while the damage continues to occur.

16678520_sChemokine and Cytokine Signaling

The first signal consists of determining the specificity of the response, answering the question “when do I respond.”

The second signal provides the T cells needed to respond. This signaling can be either positive (stimulation) or negative (inhibition). Thus, the second signal answers the question “will I respond?” 

The third signal: Is delivered by the cytokines, chemokines or dendritic cells stimulates T cells to develop into TH1, TH2, TH17 or Treg T cells. This third signal determines and answers the question “how will I respond?”

The fourth signal: T cells receive homing beacons that will direct them to migrate through tissues. This fourth signal determines the TH1, TH2, TH17 response and answers the question “where do I go to respond?” 

The fifth signal: T cells (Tregs) were originally identified as having immunosuppressive functions through anti-inflammatory cytokines. This is not the only control over the immune response. Neurotransmitters are key players in the mystery-shrouded defense mechanism and how the nervous system body puts the brakes on an overenthusiastic inflammatory response.

The nervous and endocrine systems modulate the immune system functions through releasing neurotransmitters, neuropeptides and hormones. The immune system in turn communicates back to the nervous and endocrine systems through secreting cytokines and chemokines. Inhibitory neurotransmitters modulate inflammation. This answers the question “when do I stop responding?” 

The sixth signal: Lectins and Microbes disrupt and confuse the communication controlling the immune system by altering the type and amount of cytokines and chemokines produced. The cytokines and chemokines that are anti-inflammatory to one set of TH cells are inflammatory to another, i.e. IL-2 is suppressive to TH1 but stimulates TH17. Neurotransmitters can stir up remarkably different opposing effects in the inflammatory responses. When the controls on the immune system have lost their ability to communicate, autoimmune disease is the consequence. This answers the question “I do not understand. What did you say?” The result of this is Autoimmunity.

By understanding these process, a program can be developed specific to your individual needs. Call today!

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One thought on “Autoimmunity – Is Your Immune System Being Hijacked?

  1. Pingback: Melatonin Suppresses Thyroid Hormones | Living Wellness

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