is asthma an inflammatory or autoimmune disease, and what can be done about it?

ASTHMA: AUTOIMMUNE OR INFLAMMATORY?
ARE THERE NATURAL WAYS TO STOP IT IN ITS TRACKS?

Autoimmune Asthma

“Sure enough, Dr. Juhn’s research showed that children and adults with asthma have a much higher risk of developing shingles compared to patients who do not have asthma. These findings were replicated by other research groups. Similarly, adult asthma patients have a higher risk of developing community-acquired E. coli blood infection, rheumatoid arthritis, heart attack and diabetes. Children with asthma have higher risks of developing celiac disease and appendicitis compared to those without asthma.  Our data suggest that suboptimal immune responses and rapid waning of adaptive immunity, and risks of pro-inflammatory conditions and autoimmune diseases presented as asthma-associated comorbidity overlap with the dysfunction of the immune system with aging”   Dr. Juhn comparing an asthmatic immune system to the immune system of the elderly in his cherry-picked Mayo Clinic bio

Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood and, in the latter part of the 20th century, reached epidemic proportions.  Asthma represents a dysfunctional interaction with our genes and the environment to which they are exposed, especially in fetal and early infant life. The increasing prevalence of asthma also may be an indication of increased population risk for the development of other chronic non-communicable autoimmune diseases.”  From the December 2013 issue of Expert Review of Clinical Immunology (Prevention of Asthma: Where are we in the 21st Century?)

The quote above not only shows why EPIGENETICS are far more important than genetics, but shows us that ASTHMA is at least associated with AUTOIMMUNITY, and quite possibly — even probably in many cases — an autoimmune disease itself.  Incidence of asthma is exploding in Westernized society, with approximately 25 million Americans being afflicted.  Although it has historically been included in THIS LIST of diseases known to be caused by inflammation, it’s becoming increasingly clear that a significant amount of asthma is in fact autoimmune.  One of the biggest tip-offs should be the amount of research implicating INTESTINAL BARRIER FUNCTION (aka “Leaky Gut”) in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases.  In my post, “THE LEAKIES,” listen to what researchers say are the only two things associated with this hallmark of chronic illnesses, and specifically autoimmunity….

There are two critical points to be made in this paragraph. First is that gliadin is a component of gluten. Gluten is intimately related to autoimmunity because (secondly) regardless of your genetics  (“irrespective of genetic expression” — these are the epigentic factors I told you we would get to), it activates zonulin.  What the heck is zonulin?  Discovered in Y2K by Dr. Alessio Fasano and his team from the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, zonulin is not only the chief modulator of the tight junctions (increased zonulin breaks the tight junctions and causes the Gut to “leak”) — it’s the only known modulator of the tight junctions.  And as you just saw, the two primary modulators of zonulin are dysbiotic infections (bacteria, mold, yeast, virus, and other nasty critters) and gluten.

Did you catch that?  GLUTEN & DYSBIOSIS are the only two things associated in peer-review with development of leaky barriers (Leaky Gut, Leaky Brain, Leaky Lung, Leaky Cord, etc — see last link previous paragraph).  We’ll spend a bit more time on this shortly, but right now I want to show a brief time line concerning the scientific thought process of asthma as an autoimmune disease.  Today’s post will also help you understand the why behind YESTERDAY’S ONE PARAGRAPH POST, showing brand new CDC research that those who receive the most healthcare (healthcare workers) have the highest rates of asthma.

THE ASTHMA-AS-AN-AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE TIMELINE

  • 2003:  A 2003 issue of the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology (Asthma as a Paradigm for Autoimmune Disease) got the ball rolling by saying, “Allergy and autoimmunity result from dysregulation of the immune system.  New discoveries suggest possible common pathogenetic effector pathways. The parallel appearance of asthma and autoimmune conditions in the same patients may reveal that such aberrations of the immune system have a common pathophysiologic mechanism.”  Pay attention because nothing has changed as far as mainstream medical treatment is concerned — everything is based on IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPRESSION. Think I’m exaggerating? “Immunomodulation is the key to successful treatment of asthma and autoimmune conditions.”  In 99% of the cases, modulating the immune system implies suppressing the immune system. 

  • 2007:  A study from University of Washington was published in Science Daily (Connection Between Allergic Diseases And Autoimmune Diseases) revealing that, “Autoimmune disease refers to a group of more than 80 serious, chronic illnesses including diseases of the nervous, gastrointestinal, and endocrine systems as well as skin and other connective tissues, eyes, blood, and blood vessel. In all of these diseases, the underlying problem is similar—the body’s immune system becomes misdirected, attacking the very organs it was designed to protect. ‘Our study implies that allergic and inflammatory diseases may actually trigger autoimmune diseases.‘”  The thing to remember here is that while there are probably 80 ‘well known’ autoimmune diseases (HERE is a list), there are thousands upon thousands of autoimmune diseases that are not named simply because no one has figured out what the autoantigen is (the tissue, protein, enzyme, etc being attacked), or likewise how to test for it.

  • 2008:  The November issue of Expert Reviews in Clinical Immunology (Asthma and Autoimmunity: A Complex but Intriguing Relation) said this…  “Approximately 50% of patients with nonallergic asthma react to intradermal injection of autologous serum… suggesting an autoreactive mechanism. Recent findings in experimental animals support the involvement of an autoreactive mechanism in allergic asthma as well…  Asthma is characterized by chronic inflammation of the respiratory airways that can be triggered by allergen exposure or by other mechanisms, possibly autoreactive / autoimmune. The autoimmune hypothesis is further supported by the response to immunosuppressive drugs.”  Autoimmunity is an immune system raging out of control to the point it starts attacking self.

  • 2010:  Two years later, the Annals of Epidemiology (Subsequent Autoimmune or Related Disease in Asthma Patients: Clustering of Diseases or Medical Care?) said this about the relationship; “Asthma includes immunological components that may share mechanisms with autoimmune diseases.  Hospitalized asthma patients [just over 4,000 in this study] presented with a number of subsequent autoimmune and related diseases. Although we were unable to exclude the effects of environmental factors, the data suggest that shared genetic factors or gene-environment [epigenetic] interactions may explain coexistence of some of these diseases.

 

  • 2012:  The May issue of the Annals of Medicine (Risk of Asthma and Autoimmune Diseases and Related Conditions in Patients Hospitalized for Obesity) showed how asthma and autoimmunity are related via inflammation (in this case by OBESITY, which is considered inflammatory).  That same month, Human Immunology (Immune Responses to Self-Antigens in Asthma Patients: Clinical and Immuno-Pathological Implications) stated, “Asthma leads to chronic airway inflammation that shares pathological features of chronic rejection after lung transplantation. Due to significant role of autoimmunity in rejection, we hypothesized that immunity to self-antigens may also be present in asthma.  Asthmatics had higher concentration of antibodies to collagen compared to control. These autoantibodies correlated with severe asthma and corticosteroid use. Additionally, antibodies to novel self-antigens epidermal group factor receptor (EGFr), activin A type 1 receptor, and alpha-catenin (α-catenin) were detected in asthmatics. Epithelial [barrier] damage from airway inflammation during asthma may result in exposure of self-antigens or their determinants resulting in immune response to self-antigens and these may contribute to pathogenesis of asthma.”  The body making antibodies against itself is never a good thing. Period.  Furthermore, when epithelial barriers are compromised, you get “the leakies” (in this case, Leaky Lung).  This study shows that this is exactly what’s happening in those with asthma.  This next bullet reveals why.

 

  • 2013:  The underlying culprit of virtually every chronic inflammatory degenerative disease (of which asthma falls into) is inflammation.  What is inflammation?  If you are not quite sure (I find about 1 in a thousand who really know), read THIS SHORT POST.  Hint; it’s not swelling or infection, although it can be related to both.  The February issue of Immunology and Allergy Clinics of North America showed this in a study titled The Overlap of Bronchiectasis and Immunodeficiency with Asthma (the government’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute defines bronchiectasis as a condition in which damage to the airways causes them to thicken and become flabby and scarred.”  In other words, bronchioles start showing FIBROTIC CHANGE / FIBROSIS of the bronchioles.  Most of you would be shocked to click the link and see that fibrosis (the medical word for scar tissue) is America’s number one cause of death.  Control inflammation and you can manage almost any disease.  The problem is that we are mostly going about controlling inflammation the wrong way (RED INK EXAMPLE).

 

  • 2014:  More of the same rubber (inflammation) meeting the road, with an amazing study in the July issue of Cell Microbiology (Defining Dysbiosis and its Influence on Host Immunity and Disease).  “Mammalian immune system development depends on instruction from resident commensal microorganisms. Diseases associated with abnormal immune responses towards environmental and self antigens have been rapidly increasing over the last 50 years. These diseases include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), multiple sclerosis (MS), type I diabetes (T1D), allergies and asthma. The observation that people with immune mediated diseases house a different microbial community when compared to healthy individuals suggests that pathogenesis arises from improper training of the immune system by the microbiota.”  This is a mouthful, but can be easily broken down by realizing that your MICROBIOME is everything, and that furthermore your Immune System is actually “trained” (their word) by the commensal organisms in and on your body (HERE).  This is a great example of the HYGIENE HYPOTHESIS in action.  “Thus, perturbations to the structure of complex commensal communities (referred to as dysbiosis) can lead to deficient education of the host immune system and subsequent development of immune mediated diseases.”  The more healthcare one is exposed to (vaccines, antibiotics, medications of all sorts, etc, etc) the worse off your microbiome.  A poor micribiome means that your immune system will be trained in an ineffective manner.  This means you start trading acute infectious diseases for chronic diseases like CANCER.

 

  • 2015:  The June issue of the Journal of Immunology (GIMAP GTPase Family Genes: Potential Modifiers in Autoimmune Diabetes, Asthma, and Allergy) showed yet another complex immunological link with autoantigens found in asthma.

 

  • 2016:  Another similar study from October’s issue of Respiratory Research (Perip7lakin is a Target for Autoimmunity in Asthma) discussed yet another of these antigenic molecules.  “The role of autoimmunity targeting epithelial antigens in asthma has been suggested, in particular in non-atopic and severe asthma. Periplakin, a desmosomal component, is involved in epithelial cohesion and intracellular signaling. We detected anti-periplakin antibodies in 18% of patients with asthma.”  In this case, not only is the body attacking itself, it’s actually attacking the tissue (epithelium) that make up the body’s barrier systems.  Can anyone say “leaky”?

 

  • 2017:  Although asthma and allergies are typically associated with Mast Cells (which release histamine), another type of immune system cell (eosinophils) took center stage in 2017.  July’s copy of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (Sputum Autoantibodies in Patients with Severe Eosinophilic Asthma) “identifies an autoimmune endotype of severe asthma that can be identified by the presence of sputum autoantibodies against EPX and autologous cellular components.”  April’s issue of Allergology International (Autoantibody Profiles and their Association with Blood Eosinophils in Asthma and COPD) dealt with autoimmunity in COPD, concluding that “It is possible that asthma tends to involve autoimmunity associated with antinuclear antibody more frequently than COPD because asthma is the more robust factor for antinuclear antibody positivity. Antinuclear antibody and rheumatoid factor are associated with eosinophilic responses.” For the record, although it’s not always accurate, the antinuclear antibody (ANA) test is the most commonly used test to determine non-specific autoimmunity.  And finally, in April, Frontiers in Immunology published Eosinophils in Autoimmune Diseases, which concluded that, “The association of eosinophilic diseases with autoimmune diseases was also examined, showing a possible increase in autoimmune diseases in patients with…  non-allergic asthma.” 

 

  • 2018:  Speaking of Mast Cells, last month’s issue of Immunology Review (Mast Cells as Sources of Cytokines, Chemokines, and Growth Factors) talked about CYTOKINES and other inflammatory mediators as related to Mast Cells and the immune system.  “There is strong evidence for important non-redundant roles of mast cells in many types of innate or adaptive immune responses, including making important contributions to immediate and chronic IgE-associated allergic disorders and enhancing host resistance to certain venoms and parasites. However, mast cells have been proposed to influence many other biological processes”  Great stuff until inflammation causes the immune system to lose immunological control.  The all too common result is a ramped up immune response, telling the body to start attacking itself.  Because autoimmunity is never a problem with the organ or tissue being attacked, but a problem with the immune system itself; unless you deal with underlying causes, autoimmune diseases usually end up like Lays Potato Chips…  You can’t have just one — they virtually always travel in packs, like wolves (HERE).

COMMON CHEMICALS / DRUGS AND THE AUTISM / ASTHMA CONNECTION

Because autoimmunity is found much more commonly in women than men (about 3 to 1), a 2005 study asked whether or not mom’s developing autoimmunity around the time of her pregnancy could result in AUTISM (ASD — autism spectrum disorder) in her progeny.  A 2005 issue of JAMA Pediatrics (Maternal Autoimmune Diseases, Asthma and Allergies, and Childhood Autism Spectrum Disorders) revealed that “A greater than 2-fold elevated risk of ASD was observed for maternal asthma and allergy diagnoses recorded during the second trimester of pregnancy.”  What’s the relationship?  Besides the obvious (inflammation), there is an increasing body of research showing that autism itself is actually autoimmune.

Cal State Davis has been leading the pack with this regard, publishing their first major study on the topic back in the August 2007 issue of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Autoantibodies in Autism Spectrum Disorders — ASD).  Their paper dealt with, “recent studies performed by our group concerning the presence of autoantibodies directed against neural antigens, which are observed in patients with ASD.”  This was not new information when it came out in 07, because a 2003 issue of the journal Pediatrics (Increased Prevalence of Familial Autoimmunity in Probands with Pervasive Developmental Disorders) revealed that “Autoimmunity was increased significantly in families with pervasive developmental disorders compared with those of healthy and autoimmune control subjects.”  How significantly?  Try 40% on for size.

With the known relationship between VACCINES and both autoimmunity & autism, it would behoove those individuals who are known to be autoimmune of have autoimmunity in their immediate family to think twice about most vaccinations.  This argument becomes even more convincing once you begin to understand the role of VACCINE ADJUVANTS, MERCURY & ALUMINUM.  Because we know for certain that autism is driven by inflammation (which by the way, is not always the result of vaccines — HERE), it behooves us to understand the link.  Listen to this cherry-picked paragraph from Moises Velasquez-Manoff from an August issue of the New York Times (An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism)

“Better clues to the causes of the autism phenomenon come from parallel ‘epidemics.’ The prevalence of inflammatory diseases in general has increased significantly in the past 60 years. As a group, they include asthma, now estimated to affect 1 in 10 children — at least double the prevalence of 1980 — and autoimmune disorders, which afflict 1 in 20.  Both are linked to autism, especially in the mother. One large Danish study, which included nearly 700,000 births over a decade, found that a mother’s rheumatoid arthritis elevated a child’s risk of autism by 80 percent. Her celiac disease increased it 350 percent. Genetic studies tell a similar tale. Gene variants associated with autoimmune disease — genes of the immune system — also increase the risk of autism, especially when they occur in the mother.  In some cases, scientists even see a misguided immune response in action. Mothers of autistic children often have unique antibodies that bind to fetal brain proteins. A few years back, scientists at the MIND Institute, a research center for neurodevelopmental disorders at the University of California, Davis, injected these antibodies into pregnant macaques. (Control animals got antibodies from mothers of typical children.) Animals whose mothers received “autistic” antibodies displayed repetitive behavior. They had trouble socializing with others in the troop. In this model, autism results from an attack on the developing fetus.”

Peer-review is replete with more of the same.  If this topic is of interest to you I would strongly suggest you read Dr. Kevin Becker’s study from a 2007 edition of Medical Hypothesis called Autism, Asthma, Inflammation, and the Hygiene Hypothesis (his paper is a comparison of the “parallel aspects of autism and inflammatory disorders with an emphasis on asthma.“).  I would also suggest you take a gander at the post I published just one short month ago called Autism Linked to Antibiotic / Acetaminophen / Glyphosate Combination (HERE).  We’ll get to the antibiotic / Gut Health / althma link momentarily, but first we are going to discuss….

GLUTEN AS RELATED TO ASTHMA

If you’ve followed my site, you already know that GLUTEN (a protein found in wheat) is heavily linked to autoimmunity (HERE); a relationship which has been known for almost a century (HERE).  Thus, with a great deal of asthma being autoimmune, knowing a bit more about this relationship will prove invaluable as you go about healing the Gut and toning down a raging immune system —- NOT “BOOSTING” IT.  One of the first things you must understand is that the majority of the symptoms of NON-CELIAC GLUTEN SENSITIVITY are mostly extra-intestinal, meaning they will not manifest as bloating, gas, etc (MOST ARE NEUROLOGICAL, but they can manifest in almost any conceivable manner).  For the record, there were scores of studies on both “Occupational Asthma” and “Baker’s Asthma,” neither of which we are covering here.

You must realize that when you see the word “allergies” (whether in the title of a journal or in the text of a study), in most instances you can substitute the word “asthma” and still be accurate.  A 2011 study from the International Archives of Allergy and Immunology (Occurrence of Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity in Patients with Allergic Disease) concluded that “A nonceliac gluten-sensitive enteropathy (NCGSE) commonly occurs in allergic patients. Based on the high prevalence of NCGSE in allergy, it is recommended that biopsy should be part of the routine investigation of allergic disease to offer the benefits of treatment with a GFD to the patients”  A biopsy is a ridiculous amount of overkill in this case, even though it is the “gold standard” for diagnosing CELIAC DISEASE.  Simply do an ELIMINATION DIET to rule out gluten as a problem.  Just make sure to click the link so you understand that ALL GRAINS (not to mention about 30 other foods) can act like (they are known as gluten cross-reactors).  Failing to understand this simple fact helps explain why some people claim that going off gluten did nothing for them, even though there is an obvious connection — not to mention the fact that most of the GLUTEN FREE FOODS they’ve been eating are high glycemic processed crap anyway.

We are now going to start seeing the bleed-over into the next chapter of this post; Gut Health.  A July 2015 study from the European Respiratory Journal (Coeliac Disease and Asthma Association in Children: The Role of Antibiotic Consumption) came to conclusions that I’ve been talking about for a long time, and that we will continue to talk about in the next chapter — that antibiotics are strongly linked to asthma. Now it seems that they are strongly linked to both asthma and Celiac Disease.  “Childhood treated asthma and coeliac disease are significantly associated.”  Just realize that NCGS is far more common than Celiac Disease (I would guess an order of magnitude).  The link in the previous paragraph will explain the difference between the two.

Several months later, the journal Pediatric Clinics of North America published another bleed-over “Gut Hygiene” study called Gut Microbiome and the Development of Food Allergy and Allergic Disease in which they concluded,

“The prevalence of food allergy and other allergic diseases continues to rise within the industrialized world… The impact of gut microbiome on human development, nutritional needs, and disease has become evident with advances in our ability to study these complex communities of microorganisms, and there is a growing appreciation for the role of the microbiome in immune regulation. Several studies have examined associations between changes in the commensal microbiota and the development of allergic rhinitis and asthma….  The authors found that children living in farming environments had a significantly decreased frequency of hay fever, asthma and eczema compared to children living in urban areas.  Other studies have shown an association between Caesarean-section delivery and the development of asthma, allergic rhinitis [hay fever], and eczema.”

And while this study went on to talk extensively about the relationship of early antibiotics (among other things, they said that 1/3 of laboring women are given antibiotics against Strep) and diet on one’s microbiome, it also happens to provide the perfect lead in for our next section. 

THE GUT HEALTH / ASTHMA LINK

I’ve been writing about GUT HEALTH for a very long time, but the truth is, since at least the late 1800’s, natural healers have been saying “heal the gut, heal the body“.  Today I am going to show you that this is not just true for almost any health issue you care to plug in to the equation (I could have written today’s post using any number of diseases other than asthma, and it would have still looked quite similar), but is doubly true for autoimmune diseases in general, and truer still for asthma. 

The first thing I want to say is that when we talk about Gut Health we are talking about two sides of the same coin — dysbiosis (abnormal species or ratios of species of bacteria, YEAST, VIRUS, or other organisms) and Leaky Gut, which we talked about earlier.  These are ugly twins — where you find one, you’ll usually find the other.  Considering 80% of your immune system is found in the Gut (HERE), this relationship makes a ton of sense.  The proverbial icing on the cake is that even though the process of degrading Gut Health is almost always caused by ANTIBIOTICS (even though MOST DRUGS have antibiotic properties), the resultant dysbiosis is fed by LIVING THE HIGH CARB LIFESTYLE.  In other words, sugar and highly processed or high glycemic carbs (carbs that break down to BLOOD SUGAR rapidly) are infection’s food of choice (HERE).  And what is dysbiosis if it’s not a low grade infection?

One thing you need to understand about this phenomenon is that the physiology is universal.  Case in point, a study from Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practices (The Microbiota Regulates Immunity and Immunologic Diseases in Dogs and Cats) showed why DOGS & DIRT are not just important for our microbiomes, but that animal’s microbiomes control their health as well.  “The complex commensal microbiota found on body surfaces controls immune responses and the development of allergic and inflammatory diseases. Changes in the microbiota (dysbiosis) as a result of antibiotic use, diet, or other factors thus influence the development of many diseases in the dog and cat. The most important of these include chronic gastrointestinal disease; respiratory allergies, such as asthma; skin diseases, especially atopic dermatitis; and autoimmune diseases.” 

Think Leaky Gut is a farce just because YOUR DOCTOR DOESN’T BELIEVE IN IT?  The month before I got married (February of 1996), the Journal of Allergy and Immunology published a study called (gulp) Allergies and Asthma: Do Atopic Disorders Result from Inadequate Immune Homeostasis Arising from Infant Gut Dysbiosis? They answered their own question affirmatively.   “There was no significant difference in intestinal permeability between patients with allergic asthma and those with nonallergic asthma.”  In other words, both groups were equally “leaky” (“Our results support the hypothesis that a general defect of the whole mucosal system [epithelial barrier system] is present as a cause or a consequence of bronchial asthma“).

In 2005, Chinese researchers published a study called Tight Junctions, Leaky Intestines, and Pediatric Diseases in the journal Acta Paediatrica in which they concluded….  “Tight junctions (TJs) represent the major barrier within the paracellular pathway between intestinal epithelial cells. Disruption of TJs leads to intestinal hyperpermeability (the so-called “leaky gut“) and is implicated in the pathogenesis of several acute and chronic pediatric disease entities that are likely to have their origin during infancy. This review provides an overview of evidence for the role of TJ breakdown in diseases such as systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), inflammatory bowel disease, type 1 diabetes, allergies, asthma, and autism.  A better basic understanding of this structure might lead to prevention or treatment of these diseases using nutritional or other means.”  Did you catch that?  Screwed up gut permeability can be successfully addressed with diet.  This is a big deal because there are zero drugs that address this problem.  If you are interested, you can look at a picture of this process in action under my link on “The Leakies”.

HOMEOSTASIS describes your body’s ability to maintain itself in perfect balance and harmony.  In studying physiology, everything is about maintaining proper homeostasis.  Lose it and you get sick.  The April 2016 issue of Expert Reviews in Clinical Immunology discussed this problem in a study called Allergies and Asthma: Do Atopic Disorders Result from Inadequate Immune Homeostasis arising from Infant Gut Dysbiosis?  Of course it does, with the two biggest factors being crappy diets and early exposure of either mom or baby to antibiotics.  “We propose that the failure to appropriately down-regulate inflammation and produce a toleragenic state results primarily from less robust immune homeostatic processes rather than from a tendency to over-respond to allergenic stimuli.”  What is autoimmunity?  It’s a state of having a “BOOSTED” IMMUNE SYSTEM.

A 2014 French study from Respiratory Research (Food Allergy Enhances Allergic Asthma in Mice) showed that this problem is not static, but progressive and degenerative.  The fourteen authors from various Universities across France stated, “Atopic march refers to the typical transition from a food allergy in early childhood to allergic asthma in older children and adults”  After artifically inducing allergies to ovalbumin and house dust mites in mice, the authors challenged the mice’s systems by exposing them to both.  “OVA-mediated gut allergy was associated with an increase in jejunum permeability [Leaky Small Intestine], and a worsening of mite-induced asthma with stronger airway hyperresponsiveness and pulmonary cell infiltration, notably eosinophils.”   There was actually much more than this that I did not include.

Also in 2014, the journal Clinical and Investigative Medicine published High Prevalence of Abnormal Gastrointestinal Permeability in Moderate-Severe Asthma, which related asthma to Leaky Gut as well.  After saying that, “Abnormal gastrointestinal permeability (GIP) has been implicated in a number of diseases, including chronic intestinal inflammatory disorders such as Crohn’s as well as non-intestinal immunologic diseases such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis,” researchers concluded that a Leaky Gut “could be involved with the development and propagation of asthma….”  Still another study from 2014 (Low Gut Microbiota Diversity in Early Infancy Precedes Asthma at School Age from the June issue of Clinical and Experimental Allergy) concluded that “Low total diversity of the gut microbiota during the first month of life was associated with asthma at 7 years of age.”  Why would a baby have low bacterial diversity by one month? I can think of three right off the top of my head; antibiotics, PPI’s (heartburn drugs), C-SECTION, or FAILING TO BREASTFEED

2015’s study (The Microbiome in Asthma) from the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology used new technologies to explore the microbiomes of those with asthma as compared to healthy controls.  Although you might guess what’s coming, the study talked at length about the intimate relationship between dybiosis and the propensity to develop asthma.  Another study from 2015 from Science Translational Medicine (Early Infancy Microbial and Metabolic Alterations Affect Risk of Childhood Asthma).  “Asthma is the most prevalent pediatric chronic disease and affects more than 300 million people worldwide.  We compared the gut microbiota of subjects enrolled in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study, and show that infants at risk of asthma exhibited transient gut microbial dysbiosis during the first 100 days of life. The relative abundance of the bacterial genera Lachnospira, Veillonella, Faecalibacterium, and Rothia was significantly decreased in children at risk of asthma.”  Here is where you get to see the beauty of Fecal Microbiota Transplants (FMT).  When the authors put the missing bacterial species back into these mice, it “ameliorated airway inflammation” in their offspring.  In other words, not only does FMT (microbiome) have the potential to affect the here and now, it has the potential to affect the next generation!

Twenty two researchers from the land down under teamed up for a study published in last June’s issue of Nature Communications called Evidence that Asthma is a Developmental Origin Disease Influenced by Maternal Diet and Bacterial Metabolites that concluded “diet acting on the gut microbiota profoundly influences airway responses, and may represent an approach to prevent asthma, including during pregnancy.”  That same year, Microbial Diversity in Health and Disease published a study called Dysbiosis of the Gut Microbiota in Disease which stated, “There is growing evidence that dysbiosis of the gut microbiota is associated with the pathogenesis of both intestinal and extra-intestinal disorders. Intestinal disorders include inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and coeliac disease, while extra-intestinal disorders include allergy, asthma, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and obesity.” 

A study from December was published in the journal Current Opinions in Pediatrics (The Microbiome in Asthma) that stated, “The continuous rise in asthma incidence in industrialized societies cannot be attributed to genetic factors alone and implies that some environmental factors resulting from the modern lifestyle promotes asthma. The ‘hygiene hypothesis’ states that personal hygiene improvement, declining family size and decreased infection burden result in reduced early-life microbial exposure and promotion of atopic diseases.”  In other words, increasing numbers of scientists believe that we are trading acute childhood diseases that everyone used to get, for long-term chronic inflammatory and degenerative diseases, including autoimmunity.  The culprits in having a “decreased infection burden“?  That’s easy; antibiotics and vaccines, including the utterly ridiculous FLU SHOT.

Follow along as I give you a few highlights from other studies.  Just be aware that there is so much evidence supporting the Gut Health / Asthma link that I could have just as easily written a book.

  • “Multiple studies have demonstrated airway microbiota dysbiosis, characterized by Proteobacteria expansion in the lower airways, to be a consistent trait of established adult asthma.  July 2015, Current Opinions in Rheumatology (Influence and Effect of the Human Microbiome in Allergy and Asthma)

 

  • “Dysbiosis of the microbial communities colonizing the human intestinal tract has been described for a variety of chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and asthma.  Investigators have shown that the microbial composition of the airway flora is different between healthy lungs and those with chronic lung diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well as cystic fibrosis… Should future studies provide such evidence, the airway microbiota might soon join the intestinal microbiota as a target for therapeutic intervention.”  January 2014, Pharmacology & Therapeutics (Microbiota Abnormalities in Inflammatory Airway Diseases…)

 

  • Asthma prevalence has doubled in developed countries during the past 30 years.  After adjustment, prenatal antibiotic use was a risk factor for asthma.”  The December 2014 issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (Relationship Between Prenatal Antibiotic Use and Asthma in At-Risk Children)

 

  • “Evidence on the association between post-natal exposure to antibiotics and the development of asthma is extensive…  Maternal use of any antibiotics during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of asthma in the offspring. Several maternal specific antibiotics were associated with the risk of asthma, and the strongest association was observed for cephalosporins. Child’s use of antibiotics during the first year of life was associated with an increased risk of asthma. Child’s use of cephalosporins, sulphonamides and trimethoprim, macrolides and amoxicillin was associated with an increased risk of asthma.  Both prenatal and post-natal exposure to antibiotics was associated with an increased risk of asthma.” January 1015, Clinical and Experimental Allergy (Prenatal and Post-Natal Exposure to Antibiotics and Risk of Asthma in Childhood)

 

  • “We found increased risk of asthma associated with maternal antibiotic use in a clinical study of a birth cohort with increased risk of asthma and replicated this finding in an unselected national birth cohort, and in a subgroup using antibiotics for nonrespiratory infections. This supports a role for bacterial ecology in pre- or perinatal life for the development of asthma.  The April 2013 of the Journal of Pediatrics (Use of Antibiotics During Pregnancy Increases the Risk of Asthma in Early Childhood)

ASTHMA….? 
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO NOW THAT YOU KNOW?

A scientific article by Megan Scudellari in a 2017 issue of PNAS (Cleaning Up the Hygiene Hypothesis) indicated that the Hygiene Hypothesis as understood by most people is incorrect.  Her belief is that most people interpret the message simply as the population being “too clean”.  While this is a part of the HH, it goes beyond that.  Way beyond that.  She went on to mention every single thing I’ve talked about in this paper as culprits; vaccines, antibiotics, antimicrobial hand sanitizers, cruddy diets, not being exposed to PARASITES and bacteria from an early age, C-sections, etc, etc.  Call it what you want, there is no arguing with the consequences (see YESTERDAY’S POST ON ASTHMA).

Rates of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases are literally exploding in Western nations, and most particularly, the middle and upper class urban portions of those societies.  It’s a message that’s being echoed by scientists around the world.  Researchers from London’s King’s College wrote in a 2007 issue of Biologics (Dishing the Dirt on Asthma: What we can Learn from Poor Hygiene), “Many aspects of modern living may contribute to this increase in asthma including, smaller family size, more urban living including a lower exposure to farm livestock, increasing vaccination and a more hygienic lifestyle.”  Take a look at what Amy Shah (MD) wrote about this study’s statistics in a 2014 article for MindBodyGreen (Why Allergies & Autoimmune Diseases Are Skyrocketing).

“As just a couple examples of the prevalence of these issues, asthma affects nearly 37% of children in the United Kingdom, and type 1 diabetes rates have increased 23% over an eight-year period.”

And here’s the rub.  Instead of using the peer-review I’ve just shown you in today’s post to formulate better care plans, we have a medical system that continues to live in the past, passing out antibiotics out like candy (KNOWING DARN GOOD AND WELL THEY CAUSE ASTHMA).  Oh; I almost forgot to mention that there are currently OVER 300 NEW VACCINES IN R&D.  It’s madness, and proof positive that the gap between medical practice and medical research continues to widen, making the Grand Canyon look like a rut in a gravel driveway.  In other words, calling what’s going on a “disconnect” does not come close to explaining how bad things really are.  But hey, it’s the nature of modern EVIDENCE-BASED MEDICINE.  What could our modern medical community be doing to at actually address some of the asthma epidemic’s underlying causes?

The first thing that must be understood is that the “healthcare” trajectory we are currently on is not only UNSUSTAINABLE, but is actually causing a significant portion of the problem.  Case in point are the drugs used to treat asthma.  People must wake up to the fact that asthma inhalers are so dangerous that studies have shown they are responsible for a large portion of the asthma-related deaths (HERE — don’t get mad at me, I’m just the messenger).  Furthermore, if there is a commonly used drug with more and worse side effects than CORTICOSTEROIDS, I’m not exactly sure what it is.  If you’ll simply read between the lines, the scientific research is replete with solutions.

Case in point a pair of studies by the same team of Harvard researchers from BMJ Thorax (Maternal Diet vs Lack of Exposure to Sunlight as the Cause of the Epidemic of Asthma, Allergies and other Autoimmune Diseases) and the American Journal of Respiratory Critical Care Medicine (Vitamin D, the Gut Microbiome, and the Hygiene Hypothesis. How Does Asthma Begin?) that were written 8 years apart — 2007 and 2015.  

“In our view, the fundamental culprit for the asthma epidemic—and for the epidemic of all autoimmune diseases (Th1 and Th2)—is vitamin D deficiency due to a decrease in sun exposure which can probably be remedied only by supplementation of pregnant women. However, in their most recent paper published in this issue of Thorax, Willers and coworkers report the importance of a decline in the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables and perhaps oily fish consumption with regard to asthma, and it seems plausible that maternal dietary deficiencies of vitamin E are contributing to the epidemic of autoimmune disease as well”

If you are not sure what TH1 VS TH2 is, just click the link.  The bottom line is that this is nothing more than the same things we’ve known forever, that healthy foods and the great outdoors will “cure” a lot of problems.  Did the same authors have anything different to say almost a decade later?  Not really.   After rehashing the Hygiene Hypothesis, they talked a bit about Vitamin D.

“Finally, we have written extensively about vitamin D, which we believe is a critical link between the human gut microbiome and the developing fetal lung and immune system. First, vitamin D deficiency is recognized worldwide, and there are data indicating that levels have decreased over time, coincident with the rise in autoimmunity and asthma. Next, vitamin D has effects on the developing lung, and we have shown that vitamin D-related developmental genes are up-regulated in early lung development and that these same genes are linked to asthma. Third, vitamin D has effects on a variety of immune processes and cells that are critical to normal immune functioning. Finally, vitamin D is critical to the function of the gut microbiome. It controls the development of gut-associated lymphoid tissue, trafficking between gut dendritic cells, and gut Tregs and Treg function. Further study of how vitamin D influences the developing immune system is urgently needed.”

Let’s be real with each other for a moment — how tough is it to take liquid Vitamin D drops and get in the sunshine more often?  But these aren’t the only things you could be doing to “TRAIN YOUR TREGS“.

  • PARASITE SOUP:  Chinese researchers published a study in November’s issue of Frontiers in Microbiology (Parasite-Derived Proteins for the Treatment of Allergies and Autoimmune Diseases) concluding, “Some parasite-derived immune-evasion molecules have been verified to reduce the incidence and harmfulness of atopic diseases in humans by modulating the immune response. More importantly, some parasite-derived products have been shown to inhibit the progression of inflammatory diseases and consequently alleviate their symptoms. Thus, parasites, and especially their products, may have potential applications in the treatment of autoimmune diseases.”  This isn’t a surprise considering scientists have been “curing” severe cases of INFLAMMATORY BOWEL DISEASE by purposefully infecting sufferers with HELMINTHS (worms). 

  • BACTERIAL SOUP: A 2011 study by Harvard’s Scott Weiss was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (Bacterial Components Plus Vitamin D: The Ultimate Solution to the Asthma (Autoimmune Disease) Epidemic?). “The gut microbiome is overwhelming in its size and its metabolic and antigenic complexity. There are 1014 bacteria in the gut, or 10 times more microbes in the human colon than there are cells in the human body. These bacteria belong to over 1000 species and have 3.3 million genes, over 150 times more genes than our own genome. Culture alone is inadequate to identify the mostly anaerobic organisms of the gut, and bacterial sequencing must be used, in conjunction with culture, to definitively speciate, and hence identify, all of these organisms. These bacteria interact with the host in a variety of ways.”  Weiss goes on to talk at length about probiotics and Vitamin D.  The problem is that as he mentioned, the microbiome is so huge and contains (or at least should contain) hundreds of bacterial species, it’s difficult to measure and impossible to reproduce with probiotics.  This is why I’ve said that for many chronically ill people, FMT IS FAR SUPERIOR TO PROBIOTICS.  BTW, the point with these first two bullets is not that we want you drinking these concoctions, it’s to show you how important and powerful the HH is.

  • FECAL MICROBIOTA TRANSPLANT:  Speaking of FMT, prior to mentioning the procedure as a viable option for asthmatics, the January 2014 issue of Pharmacology & Therapeutics (Microbiota Abnormalities in Inflammatory Airway Diseases – Potential for Therapy) said this.  “Dysbiosis of the microbial communities colonizing the human intestinal tract has been described for a variety of chronic diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and asthma. In particular, reduction of several so-called probiotic species that are generally considered to be beneficial, as well as an outgrowth of potentially pathogenic bacteria is often reported.  A twist to this scenario is the recent discovery that the respiratory tract also harbors a microbiota under steady-state conditions. Investigators have shown that the microbial composition of the airway flora is different between healthy lungs and those with chronic lung diseases, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease as well as cystic fibrosis.”  Be aware that I am not suggesting you do an FMT on your own, but am simply providing some cool information — very cool information.

  • BREAST FEEDING:  While most of my readers would consider this a no-brainer, this past January, the American Journal of Reproductive Immunology published a study called Breastfeeding and Autoimmunity: Programing Health from the Beginning, in which they spelled out those things DR. ROBERT MENDELSOHN was telling his patients decades ago in How to Raise A Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor.  While the authors did say that breastfeeding has the potential to flare up a mother who is already autoimmune, they also said that “Being breastfed was associated with a lower incidence of diabetes, celiac disease, multiple sclerosis and asthma, explained by the protection against early infections, anti-inflammatory properties, antigen-specific tolerance induction, and regulation of infant’s microbiome.

  • REALLY STUDY THE VACCINE ISSUE: I’ve shown you repeatedly that speaking out about vaccines and their relationship to autoimmunity as a scientist is often a death sentence to one’s career (HERE), and at the very least will get you censured.  This means that much of the so called “EVIDENCE” (especially the evidence supporting certain drugs) must be taken with a grain of salt.  And while numerous researchers mentioned VACCINES when discussing the HH, it was extremely rare that there was any real discussion.  It’s the true definition of a “sacred cow”.  The interesting thing is that our own government has shown that vaccinations have not improved mortality rates.  Think I’m making that up? Take a look at THIS GRAPH that was put out by the CDC as proof.  Bottom line, vaccines are not all they’ve been touted to be, and because they purposefully cause neuro-inflammation via ADJUVANTS (aluminum is considered the universal adjuvant), many kids never really have a chance — their brain’s are affected from day one and then assaulted on a regular basis throughout their lifetimes.   I already realize that many will write me off as a crackpot because of this bullet point.  In the famous words of Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind, Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.

  • EAT REAL FOOD:  There are things that are rocket science and things are simple.  While it may be tough at times to follow through in practice, the idea that you are what you eat is simple.  And even though few doctors discuss it’s importance today (HERE), what could be more important to the health of your child than what you feed them day in and day out?  And please don’t tell me that all they’ll eat is chocolate cake and Cheetos (HERE).  Two studies, the first from the May 2016 issue of Clinical & Translational Immunology (Dietary Metabolites and the Gut Microbiota: An Alternative Approach to Control Inflammatory and Autoimmune Diseases), and the second from last July’s Immunological Reviews (The Nutrition-Gut Microbiome-Physiology Axis and Allergic Diseases) drove home this message.  “The modern ‘Western diet’ has changed in recent years…  It is now convincingly clear that diet is one of the most influential lifestyle factors contributing to the rise of inflammatory diseases and autoimmunity in both developed and developing countries.”  If you feel you must, read the studies.  But honestly, you already have a pretty good idea of what they say.  The diet I recommend for dealing with chronic health issues?  Unless there are specific reasons you need to be on a KETOGENIC DIET, I almost always recommend something along the lines of PALEO or the myriad of differently-named similar.

  • GET ADJUSTED:  I can’t begin to tell you how many KIDS (AND ADULTS) I’ve successfully been able to help with asthma via adjustments.  What can I say; it’s the power of the nervous and immune systems unleashed!  The problem is that many of you reading this want to live your same self-destructive lifestyles, while getting yourself or your kids adjusted in hopes of “curing” the asthma.  Thanks to our increasingly toxic lifestyles, it doesn’t work that way nearly as often as it used to (HERE).

While there are any number of others (HERE’S MY CLINIC’S GENERAL PROTOCOL for people dealing with chronic conditions), the foundation is fairly simple and straightforward.  With such a huge percentage of the population struggling with asthma, everyone knows someone, individuals or families, who could benefit from this information.  The easiest way to reach them, along with those you love and care about most, is by liking, sharing, or following on FACEBOOK

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