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Thoughts On Coca, Cannabis, Opium & Tobacco – Gifts Of The Great Spirit


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Is A Simple Nutritional Supplement Poisoning You?

Are you or someone you care about suffering from muscle pain, abdominal pain, neurological symptoms including numbness and blurred vision, nausea, fatigue, gut irritability, severe digestive problems, and symptoms of an impaired immune system including severe reactions to some foods? Are you unable to find a diagnosis that will enable treatment? Have you tried everything?

My wife had all of these symptoms to the point that she could barely get out of bed most days and would cry from the continual pain and despair. She became afraid of eating because almost everything hurt. We tested for literally everything. We did find that she has Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, but now has it under control. But that was it – nothing else was found after literally dozens of kinds of tests. We actually had to wrestle with doctors to get some of those tests ordered – including the one that found Hashimoto’s, which that doc tried to shame us out of demanding.

Life was getting to the point where we were seriously talking about the “Thelma & Louise” solution. She couldn’t face living this way and I couldn’t face living without her.

I know that many people are going through something similar, and haven’t been able to find a doctor who could help. As you probably know, most docs don’t like to see patients who they can’t “cure” with a prescription. Anything else and you are put into the “difficult patient” category and they start working hard to convince you that you are causing your own problem. Women especially find male doctors suggesting that their problem is what used to be called “hysteria”. Most doctors where we live simply didn’t believe her and told her so, and it got to the point where she stopped trying to get medical help from such idiots.

We are both reasonably intelligent people and we have spent literally years reading everything that might offer a clue. We are careful what we read, and most of what we pay attention to is on the fantastic NIH database PubMed, which has ONLY peer-reviewed medical journal articles. There are so many diseases and conditions with some or all of her symptoms, but no definitive answers emerged.

My wife has always taken nutritional supplements including probiotics. She is very careful about the quality of what she takes, and we learned long ago to check what is actually in the supplement in addition to its “main” ingredient. For example, it is very hard to find Vitamin C that doesn’t include “citrus bioflavonoids”, and she reacts violently to all forms of citrus, pineapple, cherry, etc., so we have always been careful.

I’m getting to something that may be important for you to know, but had to give you some background.

Here it is.

Several years ago one of her doctors, a really brilliant female naturopath with a full MD and a background as an ER physician, recommended that she begin taking a Zinc supplement. Specifically she recommended Zinc Picolinate, because it is a form of Zinc that is “more easily absorbed”.

So after looking around we settled on a Bluebonnet brand 50mg Zinc Picolinate supplement, once daily with a meal. It became part of her everyday program, and we never questioned its value.

Then for some reason – perhaps a guardian angel whispering in our ear – two weeks ago we decided to look into Zinc toxicity, and up popped a bunch of citations, but the Mayo Clinic’s comments were a revelation. According to Mayo, the UPPER LEVEL of daily intake of Zinc for an average adult is 40mg. That’s zinc from ALL sources, not just a pill. Even 40 mg/day is WAY excessive for most people, but going over that can lead to exactly the list of symptoms that my wife has been experiencing, all getting progressively worse over time because Zinc toxicity is cumulative. There it was – she was POISONING HERSELF WITH ZINC.

And how do we know that? She stopped taking the Zinc supplement and within two days ALL of her symptoms began to decrease. It has been almost two weeks and almost every symptom is GONE. She has energy, her muscles don’t hurt, she can eat without pain, she can be active without crashing and burning, her brain fog is gone, and her spirit is strong again. She can even eat a little popcorn. With butter! (Goat butter – she’s not ready to risk cow dairy yet.)

We are even hopeful that once the toxicity that has been building up for years is gone (it can be gradually excreted, although some damage may be permanent – we don’t yet know), perhaps she will be able to enjoy a more varied diet, even – please God – the occasional pasta dinner and maybe even an egg and piece of toast with butter for breakfast. It’s probably too much to wish that she could also enjoy a glass of OJ, but who knows?

If you, or that person you care for, are taking a Zinc supplement in the “standard” 50 mg dose, you are exceeding the UPPER LIMIT according to the Mayo Clinic and you might want to consider leaving it out of your diet for a week and just see what happens. It appears that this has been the problem all along for my wife. This is surely not the only health issue she faces, nor the answer to everything, but it seems that we have just received a miracle.

Perhaps this simple solution will help you. It appears to have worked for us. Good luck to us all. God bless.


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Inflammatory Comments About Sick Guts

As a long-time advocate for the medical applications of Cannabis as a natural medicine I’ve noticed that a rather overwhelming number of people these days who suffer from so-called gastro-intestinal ‘diseases’. I say so-called not because I am an expert, or a doctor, or a scientist, but because the person I love most in the world has been on a very long and painful ten-year journey during which she has been continually failed by every expert, scientist and doctor we have asked for help – although there have been a few who sincerely tried to be helpful.

During this journey we have had to basically help ourselves because as I’m sure you know if you have a medical problem that can’t be easily ‘cured’ most doctors quickly lose patience with you and can’t wait for you to disappear and stop ruining their self-image as infallible healers. So for years my wife and I have spent hundreds of hours researching the literatures of medicine, science, nutrition, folk-medicine, healing arts, and anywhere else we could think of looking, trying to discover what makes sense and what doesn’t.

I would like to share some of what we believe are useful discoveries we’ve made that complement the almost magical properties of Cannabis and some of the other medicinal plants that we believe are gifts of the Great Spirit to the People of the world.

Your Tube

Your gut, as you know, is a long tube running from your mouth to your anus. It’s natural to think of your gut as being inside your body, but think about that for a minute and you’ll realize that whatever is inside your gut, that 36′ or so of tube, is actually outside your body. In a very real sense, the walls of your gut are the outside of your body very much like your skin, and whatever is inside your gut is not very different from whatever is on your skin – both are outside your body.

The reason this is important to visualize is that when your gut is compromised, what is inside your gut, much of which is naturally supposed to be kept outside your body, can move into your body in ways that nature did not intend. In other words, the purpose of your gut is to process your food and then allow ONLY the things your body needs to come through the wall of the gut and enter your body. These are mostly nutrients and water, and the rest of what is in your gut – the waste or non-useful materials that are supposed to be excreted – are meant by nature to be kept OUT of your body.

Just like when your skin is broken and you get an infection because foreign materials (and bugs) have moved into your body through the broken barrier of the skin, and your body rallies its defenses, led by inflammation, its #1 defense, when your gut is compromised materials (and bugs) that are supposed to be kept outside can move into your body where they trigger the body’s immune system defenses.

The skin and the walls of the gut are obviously both somewhat permeable. In other words, you can absorb certain kinds of things through your skin, but your gut tissues are designed to be much more absorptive. One big difference between your skin and your gut is that the tissues of the gut are very specialized and are designed to allow nutrients from your food through so that you can be nourished. And that is where the beginnings of so many of our GI ‘diseases’ occur. When the gut tissues are compromised, and the barriers that have previously only allowed fully digested nutrients to move through the gut wall now allow other materials, like undigested proteins, to move through the wall, the body’s immune system is triggered and all kinds of hell break loose.

Good Bugs/Bad Bugs

One of the realities of our gut is that it is absolutely chock full of bugs. All kinds of bacteria thrive in our gut, which as far as the bugs are concerned is divided into two sections – the upper gut and the lower gut. To oversimplify a little – not much – the good bugs live in your upper gut and the bad bugs live in your lower gut. The good bugs are all those species that are involved in keeping you healthy, helping you digest your food, creating hormones that help regulate your body’s functions, communicating back & forth with your brain, and importantly, keeping the bad bugs where they belong by colonizing the upper gut so completely that there is no place for the bad bugs to get a foothold even if they wanted to.

Now you take some antibiotics. It doesn’t really matter what kind – any anti-biotic will do. What happens? Well of course the anti-biotic is designed to kill bacteria and while some (very few) antibiotics kill only bad bugs like those causing an infection somewhere in your body, many antibiotics kill bugs rather indiscriminately. One of the realities of life is that it is harder to kill bad bugs than it is to kill good bugs, so anytime that strong systemic antibiotics are used there is a big die-off of the good bugs in the upper gut, whereas the bad bugs in the lower gut hang in there.

But the story doesn’t end there, unfortunately. After the battle there is lots of open territory in your upper gut where colonies of good bugs used to live, and the bad bugs somehow know that this is the case (remember, these bugs communicate with each other) and they begin migrating upwards, staking out ground as they advance. And keep in mind that the bad bugs doing this are the ones who survived the antibiotics – only now they are resistant and much harder to kill.

One of the reasons that these are bad bugs, or pathogens, is that they don’t live in harmony with their host. When they are kept down in the lower gut, there are strong natural barriers to keep them from breaking down the tissues of the gut wall wherever they establish their colonies, but in the upper gut there are no such defenses and before long these colonies of bad bugs begin creating weak spots in the wall of the upper gut. They do this in various ways – by secreting acids that eat through the tissues, by killing off the specialized cells that regulate nutrient transport, and by slipping through the gut wall themselves to make a new home somewhere comfy like your heart or brain. Medicine even has a name for this situation – SIBO, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth. And the almost invariably prescribed ‘cure’ for SIBO? Well, you guessed it. More anti-biotics. If the phrase ‘vicious cycle’ is running through your mind at this point, you’re on target.

Many people already know about the importance of taking wide-spectrum Pro-Biotics to help restore the good bugs in your intestines after taking any kind of anti-biotic. Most doctors will not tell you this – they just prescribe or use these ‘medicines’ on you and then let you walk away to deal with the almost inevitable consequences. If I were a more cynical person I might suspect that they do this because it is good for business – they ‘cure’ or ‘protect’ you with anti-biotics and then because your gut has been compromised you are literally forced to come back to them because you now have all kinds of other problems that they can also charge you for ‘curing’. But that would be really cynical of me, wouldn’t it?

Please realize if you don’t already that it isn’t enough to just eat yogurt containing acidophilus bacteria – in nature there are thousands – maybe millions – of different kinds of bacteria and other micro-organisms that live in your gut, and just like in a forest or meadow diversity is the key to ecosystem health, so too in your gut. There are many different brands of wide-spectrum Pro-Biotics, and you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good one. My advice – for what its worth – is to look for a brand that has at least 3-4 billion bacteria per dose and has at least 6 different species of bacteria.

The Problem With ‘Medicines’

If you are one of millions of people who have been diagnosed with gastrointestinal disease you already know that none of the expensive, often toxic ‘medicines’ and ‘treatments’ actually help much although, as my wife and I can testify, the ‘system’ is set up to keep draining you financially until there is nothing left at which point you are cast aside, with your life ruined and your health unimproved. Medical marijuana advocates also know that not only medical marijuana but other inexpensive natural medicines can help tremendously, and although there is still no cure for these diseases, Cannabis offers a better more natural way of managing the symptoms than what any of the conventional treatments and “medicines” have to offer.

Before I get into some of the things that my wife and have found actually can make a huge difference in your health if you are living with a compromised gut, let me first bring up what we have learned about an undiagnosed problem directly related to a compromised gut that actually can be very effectively diagnosed and managed, and that affects at least 10-15 million people in North America alone without most of them knowing they are slowly being literally eaten alive.

It all begins with your body’s immune system. I don’t pretend to understand this complex system of defenses, but I do know one important thing, and that is that the immune system can sometimes go a little crazy and start doing things it was never supposed to do – like attacking the body itself rather than attacking outside threats to the body that have somehow entered or invaded the body. This is called an auto-immune response, headed by inflammation, and is I believe at the root of a huge undiagnosed problem that I hope anyone who suffers from any kind of gut issues will think about carefully.

Many if not most people who suffer from intestinal diseases also have been diagnosed, or just simply know from their own experience, that they are either sensitive to or intolerant of gluten. Briefly gluten is a naturally occurring protein found concentrated in wheat and related grass seeds – what we call grains in our diet. Without going into detail, which is readily available elsewhere, modern wheat bears little if any resemblance to its natural ancestors. The two biggest ways that modern wheat varies is that it is extremely high on the glycemic index, and it is extremely high in gluten.

But this post isn’t about gluten, so let me move to the key point I want you to know. When the body is gluten-sensitive or intolerant this can only occur because the gluten is moving from inside your gut through the wall of the gut as an undigested protein, and the immune system which is always on high alert for foreign proteins (like foreign bacteria) sees it and attacks. The results are so unpleasant that many people try, and some succeed, in switching to a gluten-free diet. But here is the important point. What these folks, and those who don’t stop eating gluten, don’t realize is that the gluten protein molecule is a precise double for a protein found in the human thyroid, and once the immune system has been triggered to attack a gluten molecule that has migrated through the intestinal wall it is forever on the outlook for precisely that protein. Whenever it detects that protein it will attack and destroy it.

Which means (I know you’re ahead of me here) that once your immune system is trained to attack gluten it will start attacking your thyroid too and will not stop until your thyroid is destroyed. There is a name for this process and it is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, and it is estimated that 10-15 million people in North America have it and don’t know it and so, of course, are not treating it. The really strange part of this is that while your immune system is attacking and destroying your thyroid, the most common tests for thyroid function that doctors order – the T3 and T4 tests – will almost always show that your thyroid is normal. Unless your doctor orders two tests for thyroid antibodies there is no way to know whether or not your thyroid is being destroyed by your body’s immune system. Be prepared for your doc to say “You don’t need that test – your Thyroid levels are normal.” I would guess that well over 90% of the docs in America would say just that. Maybe they aren’t idiots, but they are incredibly irresponsible to take that position. Of course it is all driven by insurance companies who are forever pressuring doctors who order “unnecessary” tests. In the case of Thyroid antibody tests, which even if you pay 100% of the cost yourself will run about $60, there is simply no excuse for not ruling out – or in – Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.

But once you have these simple, inexpensive tests, if they reveal that you do have Hashimoto’s, a small miracle will come your way. Once you begin hormone replacement therapy, which is as simple as a very small dose of thyroid hormone every day, you will be amazed at how much better you begin to feel almost immediately. Many of your gastrointestinal symptoms will in fact begin to diminish and disappear. If you have been going through these painful, unpleasant, debilitating symptoms for many years, and many people have, it will seem almost too good to be true. And while it is not too god to be true, it is still not enough – there is more that you must do. But at least you will now be getting significant relief.

The Role of Diet

I’ve already promised that I won’t try to propose some universal cure for GI “diseases” like IBS, colitis and Crohns. For many readers it is enough that medicinal marijuana provides daily relief, and some may not want to go to the trouble of going further in self-treatment, especially through making dietary changes that can be difficult. But for those who are motivated I would like to make a few recommendations for things you might try. No promises, but these methods have worked for my wife and for others.

We’ve already discussed the role of gluten in triggering your body’s immune system, but for people with a compromised gut, whether from bacterial overgrowth due to misuse of antibiotics or for whatever reason, it is very important to ensure that no proteins can make it through your gut walls into your bloodstream because while the immune system is on guard for many different kinds of things, foreign life forms (except viruses, which may or may not be a life form) are always protein-based, and so any proteins – not just gluten – that get through the gut wall barrier trigger a massive immune response led by whole-body inflammation. This inflammation isn’t easy to understand or diagnose – it can mask itself as weight gain or as a wide range of other symptoms which appear to have no specific origin. Also whole-body inflammation isn’t like an infected finger or toe – it isn’t localized and therefore doesn’t stand out from the surrounding tissue. It is everywhere, and it is so subtle that most of us never spot it the way we would an infected finger.

Fortunately there is a relatively simple change that you can make that will reduce the migration of proteins through the gut wall and therefore greatly reduce the inflammation that always accompanies immune system’s inflammatory auto-immune response and that, in turn, lies at the heart of so much of what we call disease – especially disease that appears to Western medicine to have no specific cause. If it isn’t a bug or virus causing the disease, or an injury, or a cancer, or degeneration of an organ – then Western medicine is pretty much stumped. While many doctors are beginning to appreciate the role of inflammation in these diseases without an obvious origin, allopathic (Western) medicine still has very few effective tools for dealing with inflammation, which means that you are pretty much on your own.

But, here’s what you can do. It is called partitioning your diet, and the principles are simple. You divide your meals into two parts. Part one is the protein, and Part two is everything else. Since undigested proteins are one of the major triggers of immune system’s auto-immune response leading to inflammation, divide your meals into a protein part which you eat first, and then wait 30 minutes for your stomach acid to break it all down into the smallest possible components that can then be processed by the enzymes in your upper gut so that no undigested protein remains to penetrate the compromised wall of your upper gut. It takes about 30 minutes for the protein component of your meal to be broken down. Since so many ‘treatments’ of GI problems involve taking ‘medicines’ like Omeprazole that act to reduce stomach acid, if you are taking any of these drugs you may need to look into natural digestive aids like enzymes to help you break this protein down once it makes it into your upper gut. It is important not to drink liquids during the time your protein meal is in your stomach – this dilutes the stomach acid and defeats the goal of complete breakdown of the proteins.

Once you’re confident that your stomach has emptied go ahead and enjoy the your veggies and, if you can tolerate them, maybe non-gluten grains like rice and quinoa – although some people simply have to get all grains out of their diet. If you have had a compromised gut for a while you may also have developed multiple food allergies. Some of these can seem very strange. My wife, for example, reacts very strongly to all citrus, to pineapple, dairy and simple carbs like potatoes. She has decided that she just has to adjust to life without these things in her diet and is strong-willed enough to stick to her decision. I know that there are times she would kill for a bag of potato chips or a pizza with triple cheese, but she has made the decision that she would rather not be sick and so these things are gone forever. I hope that you, reading this, are not forced to such extremes but if you are I hope and pray that you will find the strength to treat yourself right and do whatever is necessary.

In honor of the central theme of the role of marijuana in self-treatment of a wide range of disease, let me offer three research citations that show that Marijuana plays its therapeutic role by reducing inflammatory responses – in other words, by regulating the immune system to reduce its auto-immune activities. These studies point to why so many people who are using Marijuana to treat their inflammatory diseases, whether of the bowel or elsewhere in the body, are having so much relief.

I’m writing this post to urge you not to stop there, but if you are not already taking some of the other steps covered here to treat the underlying cause of the inflammatory response rather than simply treating it with Marijuana, you might benefit greatly from doing so. The changes that you have to make to get further relief may or may not be drastic – everyone is different. But since you already know that there is at least one natural way to treat a medical problem that has the best minds in Allopathic medicine pretty much stumped, why not consider going even further and acting to remove some, if not all, of the major underlying causes of the problem that arise from what you eat and how you eat.

Three Studies

Israel Med Assoc J. 2011 Aug;13(8):455-8.

Treatment of Crohn’s disease with Cannabis: an observational study.

Naftali T, Lev LB, Yablecovitch D, Half E, Konikoff FM.

Source

Institute of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Meir Medical Center, Kfar Saba affiliated with Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Israel. naftali@post.tau.ac.il

BACKGROUND:

The marijuana plant cannabis is known to have therapeutic effects, including improvement of inflammatory processes. However, no report of patients using cannabis for Crohn’s disease (CD) was ever published.

OBJECTIVES:

To describe the effects of cannabis use in patients suffering from CD.

METHODS:

In this retrospective observational study we examined disease activity, use of medication, need for surgery, and hospitalization before and after cannabis use in 30 patients (26 males) with CD. Disease activity was assessed by the Harvey Bradshaw index for Crohn’s disease.

RESULTS:

Of the 30 patients 21 improved significantly after treatment with cannabis. The average Harvey Bradshaw index improved from 14 +/- 6.7 to 7 +/- 4.7 (P < 0.001). The need for other medication was significantly reduced. Fifteen of the patients had 19 surgeries during an average period of 9 years before cannabis use, but only 2 required surgery during an average period of 3 years of cannabis use.

 

Journal of Molecular Medicine (Berlin). 2009 Nov; 87(11):1111-21. Epub 2009 Aug 20.

Cannabidiol, a safe and non-psychotropic ingredient of the marijuana plant Cannabis sativa, is protective in a murine model of colitis.

Borrelli F, Aviello G, Romano B, Orlando P, Capasso R, Maiello F, Guadagno F, Petrosino S, Capasso F, Di Marzo V, Izzo AA.

Source

Department of Experimental Pharmacology, University of Naples Federico II, via D Montesano 49, 80131 Naples, Italy.

Abstract

Inflammatory bowel disease affects millions of individuals; nevertheless, pharmacological treatment is disappointingly unsatisfactory. Cannabidiol, a safe and non-psychotropic ingredient of marijuana, exerts pharmacological effects (e.g., antioxidant) and mechanisms (e.g., inhibition of endocannabinoids enzymatic degradation) potentially beneficial for the inflamed gut. Thus, we investigated the effect of cannabidiol in a murine model of colitis. Colitis was induced in mice by intracolonic administration of dinitrobenzene sulfonic acid. Inflammation was assessed both macroscopically and histologically. In the inflamed colon, cyclooxygenase-2 and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) were evaluated by Western blot, interleukin-1beta and interleukin-10 by ELISA, and endocannabinoids by isotope dilution liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Human colon adenocarcinoma (Caco-2) cells were used to evaluate the effect of cannabidiol on oxidative stress. Cannabidiol reduced colon injury, inducible iNOS (but not cyclooxygenase-2) expression, and interleukin-1beta, interleukin-10, and endocannabinoid changes associated with 2,4,6-dinitrobenzene sulfonic acid administration. In Caco-2 cells, cannabidiol reduced reactive oxygen species production and lipid peroxidation. In conclusion, cannabidiol, a likely safe compound, prevents experimental colitis in mice

 

Arthritis Res Ther. 2008;10(2):R43. Epub 2008 Apr 16.

Characterisation of the cannabinoid receptor system in synovial tissue and fluid in patients with osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Richardson D, Pearson RG, Kurian N, Latif ML, Garle MJ, Barrett DA, Kendall DA, Scammell BE, Reeve AJ, Chapman V.

Source

Centre for Analytical Bioscience, School of Pharmacy, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK. denise.richardson@pfizer.com

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Cannabis-based medicines have a number of therapeutic indications, including anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. The endocannabinoid receptor system, including the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) and receptor 2 (CB2) and the endocannabinoids, are implicated in a wide range of physiological and pathophysiological processes. Pre-clinical and clinical studies have demonstrated that cannabis-based drugs have therapeutic potential in inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and multiple sclerosis. The aim of this study was to determine whether the key elements of the endocannabinoid signalling system, which produces immunosuppression and analgesia, are expressed in the synovia of patients with osteoarthritis (OA) or RA.

METHODS:

Thirty-two OA and 13 RA patients undergoing total knee arthroplasty were included in this study. Clinical staging was conducted from x-rays scored according to Kellgren-Lawrence and Larsen scales, and synovitis of synovial biopsies was graded. Endocannabinoid levels were quantified in synovial fluid by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. The expression of CB1 and CB2 protein and RNA in synovial biopsies was investigated. Functional activity of these receptors was determined with mitogen-activated protein kinase assays. To assess the impact of OA and RA on this receptor system, levels of endocannabinoids in the synovial fluid of patients and non-inflamed healthy volunteers were compared. The activity of fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), the predominant catabolic endocannabinoid enzyme, was measured in synovium.

RESULTS:

CB1 and CB2 protein and RNA were present in the synovia of OA and RA patients. Cannabinoid receptor stimulation of fibroblast-like cells from OA and RA patients produced a time-dependent phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-1 and ERK-2 which was significantly blocked by the CB1 antagonist SR141716A. The endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonyl glycerol (2-AG) were identified in the synovial fluid of OA and RA patients. However, neither AEA nor 2-AG was detected in synovial fluid from normal volunteers. FAAH was active in the synovia of OA and RA patients and was sensitive to inhibition by URB597 (3′-(aminocarbonyl) [1,1′-biphenyl]-3-yl)-cyclohexylcarbamate).

CONCLUSION:

Our data predict that the cannabinoid receptor system present in the synovium may be an important therapeutic target for the treatment of pain and inflammation associated with OA and RA.


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Can This Potent Probiotic Prevent Food Poisoning Deaths?

E. coli is in the news a lot for its role in causing “food poisoning”, which kills and sickens huge numbers of people every year. In this post I will briefly review the most comprehensive study (2008) to date on the use of a remarkable probiotic with the potential to both treat and prevent E. coli infections. If you choose to follow the link at the end of the post to read the whole study, you’ll also find links to hundreds of related studies, many of them more current.

(Some readers may wonder why I post so much on the subject of gut bacteria when this blog is nominally about the Coca plant and its medical potential. The two subjects are closely related, and although it may be years before we see open access to pure, natural Coca Leaf and its healing potential, research into the role of gut bacteria in mediating the balance between whole body health and disease is exploding. I have received strong messages of encouragement from readers of this blog to continue to point out information resources that may be relevant and helpful for those who are struggling with gut disease.)

According to the website http://www.about-ecoli.com/ : “The E. coli that are responsible for the numerous reports of contaminated foods and beverages are those that produce Shiga toxin, so called because the toxin is virtually identical to that produced by Shigella dysenteria type 1. The best-known and also most notorious E. coli bacteria that produce Shiga toxin is E. coli O157:H7. Shiga toxin–producing E. coli (STEC) cause approximately 100,000 illnesses, 3,000 hospitalizations, and 90 deaths annually in the United States. Most reported STEC infections in the United States are caused by E. coli O157:H7, with an estimated 73,000 cases occurring each year. A study published in 2005 estimated the annual cost of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses to be $405 million (in 2003 dollars), which included $370 million for premature deaths, $30 million for medical care, and $5 million for lost productivity.”

Perhaps it is needless to point this out, but this data is only on the US – the toll taken by E. coli worldwide is in the millions of people, disproportionately the very young and very old.

Because antibiotics are not effective against E. coli there is no treatment for this potentially deadly infection – doctors are limited to hydrating and nourishing the patient while their immune system attempts to overcome this tenacious invader. Meanwhile, E. coli is busy attacking the victim’s gut using multiple strategies. The bug’s primary weapon is its ability to attach itself to the lining of the gut and produce lesions. These lesions break down the tightly-bound specialized cells of the gut lining, which are designed to keep large molecular structures from passing through the gut wall, producing a condition known as “leaky gut”, which can trigger a range of dangerous immune system reactions. An E. coli infection also produces acute diarrhea, hemorrhagic colitis, and hemolytic-uremic syndrome among other potentially life-threatening outcomes.

The study that is the subject of this post, published in the journal “Infection and Immunity”, is entitled “Lactobacillus rhamnosus Strain GG Prevents Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli O157:H7-Induced Changes in Epithelial Barrier Function”.
Lactobacillus_rhamnosus
While this is a lengthy and complex paper, here is how the authors “bottom line” their findings:

“Taken together, the results of this study indicate that L. rhamnosus GG has the ability to protect against E. coli O157:H7-induced damage of the epithelial monolayer barrier function by preventing changes in host cell morphology, A/E lesion formation, monolayer resistance, and macromolecular permeability. In addition, L. rhamnosus GG pretreatment prevents E. coli O157:H7-induced morphological redistribution of intercellular tight junction proteins and a decrease in the expression of ZO-1.”

“We expanded findings of previous investigators by demonstrating that L. rhamnosus GG pretreatment interrupts the infectious processes of E. coli O157:H7, without bactericidal activity. By demonstrating the mode of action of this probiotic strain in attenuating E. coli O157:H7 infection, we expanded our knowledge regarding the unique protective contributions of this specific probiotic bacterium when it is cultured with epithelial cells. It is increasingly recognized that the effects of probiotics are both species and strain specific. Accordingly, it is important to better define how individual probiotics elicit their beneficial effects as biotherapeutic agents against pathogen-induced disorders of the gastrointestinal tract”

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind when reviewing this research is that it was performed “in vitro” – literally in petri dishes, and not “in vivo”- in living organisms such as mice or humans. So we can’t take the findings of this research and conclude that the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus Strain GG will definitely prevent E. coli infections in the human gut and/or prevent or limit damage from E. coli infections in humans once they have occurred.

However, while we can’t draw those conclusions based on this research, after reading this research carefully we can legitimately conclude that there seems to be a very high likelihood that Lactobacillus rhamnosus Strain GG will do just that.

When you follow this link you will land on the full article in the journal “Infection and Immunity”. The article is long and detailed and requires a certain amount of scientific and medical vocabulary to gain a full understanding of what the cited research does, and does not show. However, as long as you are not intimidated by technical language, if you follow the link you’ll find an even greater treasure trove of informatio on this article’s National Institutes of Health webpage.

Just to the right of the Title & Authors you’ll see a feature entitled “Similar Articles in PubMed”. As you look down the short list of articles you’ll see a link that says “See All”. If you click that link you’ll get to a page that shows you the first 20 of 198 similar articles. They are displayed 20 to a page by default, but you can change that by looking at the very top of the page and clicking the down arrow next to “20 per page”. That down arrow will then give you a drop-down menu that will let you choose to display up to 200 citations at one time. If you choose this option you will have all 198 citations on a single page, making it much easier to save the whole list for your leisurely inspection.

Here is the main article link:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2292865/


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Effective Treatment Of ME/CFS & IBS With One Specific Probiotic?

I am re-posting this previous post because I have begun receiving so many contacts and comments from people struggling not just with issues that they recognize as emanating from their gut biome, but who are also suffering from issues affecting the mind like severe depression, and who don’t realize the connection between their gut bacteria and their mind. There are no simple answers to anything involving health and the mind, of course, but sometimes there seem to be some very simple things that people can try that sometimes work almost miraculously. Probiotics are one of these simple solutions – but even simple solutions can be a bit complex. For example, getting your mind healthy through probiotics isn’t just a matter of running down to the local grocery store’s vitamin section and grabbing a bottle of probiotics off the shelf, and it certainly isn’t a matter of going for the most expensive pro-biotics you can find on the theory that more expensive has to be better.

This post discusses some excellent research on one particular probiotic that appears to have some very specific positive effects not only on the terrible wasting syndrome ME/CFS but also on the severe depression and fatigue that are part of this thing that is causing so many people so much suffering. My theory about healing myself has always been – research the hell out of the issue, look in all the corners that most doctors never look into, and check out the qualifications of whoever is making a recommendation. I’ve done that with this article, and I think that you can trust the authors at least enough to consider that they might be onto something – one simple pro-biotic that could help you or someone you love at least partially get over the dreadful burdn of ME/CFS and the accompanying mind-fucks.

The Original Post

Readers of PanaceaChronicles may remember a 2014 post where I discussed the potential of Coca Leaf for the treatment of ME/CFS. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.) Along with my interest in the potential therapeutic role of Coca Leaf in treating gut diseases I am also intensely interested in the emerging research on the role of gut bacteria in treating, curing and preventing a range of gut diseases.

So when I came across this research, which suggests that there may be one specific bacteria that could play a major healing role in CFS & IBS I sat up and took notice.

The research is solid (placebo controlled, double-blind etc.) and although studies with a larger “N” have to be conducted it may not be too early for people who suffer from ME/CFS/IBS to begin thinking about this “Can’t hurt; might help” probiotic.

Although the researchers are rightfully cautious, My feeling is that it may not be too early to say that it looks like Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota could be at least a partial answer to treating CFS/IBS effectively.

I have to also wonder, although the research didn’t focus on this, if this little bug might also be helpful in ME.

Moreover, there is also some evidence that this single strain of gut bacteria may have other important therapeutic applications.

For example, a simple Google search for the exact phrase “Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota” turns up statements like “Pancreatic necrosis if left untreated has an almost 100 percent fatality rate due to bacterial translocation. Lactobacillus casei has been found to have a wide spectrum of coverage against pathogenic organisms that translocate from the gastrointestinal tract thereby demonstrating therapeutic benefit in pancreatic necrosis.”

I offer excerpts from this important research article, and the link to the whole article, without extensive comment except to say that anyone affected by these illnesses should take the time to not only read this research but also to follow up on the hyperlinked bibliography at the end of the article.

I hope that this information may be helpful.

lactobacillusCasei

A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study of a probiotic in emotional symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome

Key quotes from this study.

“Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a medically unexplained illness, characterized by persistent and relapsing fatigue. This severe pathological fatigue is worsened by periods of physical and mental exertion. Along with the ongoing fatigue, it has also been noted that 97% of CFS patients report neuropsychological disturbances. This can manifest as cognitive dysfunction, sleep disturbances, headaches, and a variety of symptoms in the emotional realm. Of these emotion-related symptoms, anxiety and depression are the most prevalent, with approximately half or patients meeting the criteria for an anxiety disorder or major depressive disorder. Over 40% of patients report symptoms that are often part of anxiety and depressive disorders, including dizziness, lightheadedness, heart palpitations, sleep disturbances, appetite changes and shortness of breath.”

“Many CFS patients also complain of gastrointestinal (GI) disturbances. Indeed, patients with CFS are more likely to report a previous diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), meet diagnostic criteria for IBS and experience IBS related symptoms. While CFS is neither a gastrointestinal nor psychiatric disorder per se, over 50 percent of patients with CFS meet the diagnostic criteria of IBS, and anxiety itself is often a hallmark symptom in those with IBS. Although the mechanisms behind this frequent overlap with IBS are far from understood, some investigators have documented that there are marked alterations in the intestinal microflora of CFS patients, with lower levels of Bifidobacteria and higher levels of aerobic bacteria.

Recently it was discovered that gut pathogens in the GI tract can communicate with the central nervous system and influence behavior associated with emotion, anxiety in particular, even at extremely low levels and in the absence of an immune response. Researchers have also shown that the administration of certain bacteria found in soil may support resilience and positively alter stress-related emotional behavior in animals under experimental stress. In addition, so-called probiotics, or live microorganisms which confer a health benefit on the host, have the potential to influence mood-regulating systemic inflammatory cytokines, decrease oxidative stress and improve nutritional status when orally consumed.”

“This background led some investigators to hypothesize a possible adjunctive therapeutic role of probiotic bacteria in mood-related psychiatric symptoms. Some hints at the utility of probiotics for mood regulation come from a recent human trial involving the administration of Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota (LcS) or placebo to 132 otherwise healthy adults. In an intriguing finding, the investigators discovered that those with the lowest scores in the depressed/elated dimension at baseline had significant improvement in mood scores after taking the probiotic compared to the placebo group. The probiotic bacteria and placebo were unable to make a difference in those with the highest baseline mood scores. In addition, ongoing experimental studies in this area have recently shown that in the animal model of depression, the oral administration of a probiotic can increase plasma tryptophan levels, decrease serotonin metabolite concentrations in the frontal cortext and dopamine metabolite concentrations in the amygdaloid cortex. With this background, the current investigation was initiated to determine if orally administered probiotics could make a difference in symptoms of depression and anxiety in adult patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.”

“Overall the results suggest that specific strains of probiotic bacteria may have a role to play in mediating some of the emotional symptoms of CFS and other related conditions. However, it is important to note that this is a small pilot study and broad conclusions cannot be drawn at this time. Since we did not evaluate bowel function during the study, it is entirely possible that the decreased anxiety was a consequence of improved bowel function. In an unexplained medical condition such as CFS, where over 70% of patients meet the criteria for IBS, it is possible that regulation of bowel movements made a difference in mental state. Indeed LcS (Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota ) has been shown to regulate bowel function and decrease constipation in a controlled trial. It is also true that LcS (Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota ) has been shown to reduce small intestinal bacterial overgrowth and the subjective reporting of the passage of gas in patients with IBS. This is of significance because SIBO and intestinal permeability often overlap, and patients with chronic fatigue syndrome are known to have both increased intestinal permeability and SIBO. Indeed, correction of SIBO and intestinal permeability has been shown to improve symptoms in CFS and depressive disorders. Therefore, it is entirely possible that our results are an artifact of improved gut structure and function via the LcS (Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota ) restoration of a healthy intestinal biofilm. However, a recent study using the same LcS (Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota ) strain in healthy adults suggests that there may be a more direct microbial influence on emotional state. In healthy adults who were reported to be more depressed/less elated in daily functioning at baseline, there was significant improvement in mood scores after taking the probiotic.”


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More Startling Info on Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, and IBS

 

Just yesterday I posted a piece that described new research from Purdue that holds great promise for treating and possibly curing inflammatory gut diseases like Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, and IBS by flooding the gut with beneficial metabolites that are normally created by gut bacteria but that these bacteria can’t produce when they have been compromised.

In a remarkable coincidence, early this morning I came across a blog post that describes how a Monsanto product destroys precisely those bacterial metabolites, causing gut disease. Furthermore, this post describes how the company and its corporate allies are attempting to hide their murderous actions.

Christina Sarich, writing on the Global Research blog, has just posted a piece that is a MUST READ for anyone who suffers from gut disease. Briefly, an attorney in California has filed a lawsuit against Monsanto that reveals that this company has been lying about the effects of its product RoundUp™ on human health. Specifically the lawsuit charges that Monsanto has been claiming for years that RoundUp™ targets an enzyme found only in plants and therefore cannot injure human beings.

However, this lawsuit reveals that RoundUp™ does in fact target a specific enzyme produced by the bacteria in the human gut, and the bacteria that produce the enzyme EPSP synthase, also known as (3-phosphoshikimate 1-carboxyvinyltransferase) play a key role in immunity activation and help our gut and our brains communicate with one another.

EPSP synthase is among other beneficial neurometabolites produced by gut bacteria that are either neurotransmitters or modulators of neurotransmission.

Sarich quotes from the lawsuit: “These could act directly on nerve terminals in the gut or via ‘transducer’ cells such as enterochromaffin cells present throughout the intestinal tract and are accessible to microbes and in contact with afferent and efferent nerve terminals. Some of these cells may also signal and therefore modulate immune cell activity.”

In case I am not being crystal clear – this lawsuit is based on sound, valid scientific and medical evidence that Monsanto has been lying for years about the effects of RoundUp™ on human health, and is at least partially responsible for the epidemic of gut disease in America and around the world. They are producing a product that they know is not just a weed killer – it is a people killer.

If you live in California, or if you know anyone who lives in California, you or they can join this lawsuit. Full details are in Sarich’s article. If you agree that Monsanto is a criminal corporation that must be held accountable for their genocidal actions in the name of profit, then take whatever action you can to help spread the word.


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Promising New Research On Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis, IBS, and Inflammatory Gut Conditions

While this blog is primarily devoted to the healing potential of pure, natural Coca Leaf, and while there is ample evidence that Coca Leaf could likely be a very effective therapeutic treatment for Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis, and IBS, that is not the subject of today’s blog.

This blog also focuses on Medical Cannabis, and of course one of the most widely known uses of Medical Cannabis is in the treatment of a range of devastating gut diseases. Although Cannabis therapy does not appear to offer a cure for these diseases, it does palliate the symptoms very effectively and by giving this relief it offers important relief and improved quality of life to those suffering from these diseases. I personally know quite a few people who have found blessed relief through Cannabis, but they all continue to hope for more than just relief from the painful symptoms. They want a cure, and new peer-reviewed medical research suggests that a simple, inexpensive cure may be in sight.

My interest in gut diseases is very personal; the person I love more than anyone in this world has suffered from a multitude of gut problems since some careless doctors burned her gut from esophagus to colon by giving her large doses of antibiotics IV that they had been told she is allergic to.

She has struggled for years with the consequences of this assault and, by strictly limiting the foods that she eats, carefully avoiding any exposure to any of the dozens of foods that now cause violent inflammatory reactions, she has managed to regain most of her vital energy. Still, there has been no cure, and despite persistent research we have yet to find anything that looks promising. That is, until now.

Researchers at Purdue University have just published their findings on the complex actions of particular metabolic byproducts of gut microbes called Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SFCA). Here is my take on what these researchers have found – please follow the link at the bottom of this post and see what you think.

Apparently the Purdue researchers have found that these SCFAs, which are produced by the gut microbes, play a key role in signaling the body’s immune system regarding the state of the gut microbial community – basically either “We’re all good here” or “We have a problem”.

People suffer from Crohns, Ulcerative Colitis, IBS, and other inflammatory gut conditions because their gut microbiome is injured or compromised, and the microbes signal the immune system through SFCAs that there is a problem which the immune system then rushes in to fix. The injured or compromised gut microbiome cannot produce enough of the right kinds of SCFA to signal the immune system that everything is OK, so the immune system keeps trying to “fix” the problem.

Unfortunately it is that “fix” that apparently results in the onset and continuation of these diseases and to date there has been no effective way to turn off the immune system’s attack on what it thinks is a problem in the gut.

My read on this very recently published research is that it looks like many, but not all, cases of inflammatory gut disease can be treated and possibly cured by administering SCFA enemas – basically flooding the gut with the microbial metabolites that a healthy gut microbiome would produce, telling the immune system that everything is all right now and it can stop trying to fix the problem.

I know this isn’t a very scientific way of explaining what I think these researchers are saying, so please do follow this link and decide for yourself. But if I am right, and this is in essence what the researchers are saying, then it may be that at least for some people who suffer from inflammatory gut diseases there may finally be a solution. At the very least this is new information that strongly suggests a new approach that might work, and most encouraging is the findings that SCFA treatment apparently has ZERO negative side effects, and is both simple and inexpensive.

Of course, the researchers are properly cautions, and don’t make any such claim, but as a layman who is praying that a cure can be found, I am pretty excited by this brilliant research, and I intend to follow up as soon as it is possible to find a source of SCFA treatment.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4275385/

 

 


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Coca Leaf Therapy For Compromised Human Gut Microbiome?

Introduction

Readers of this blog have probably seen a number of my posts detailing 18th-19th Century medical research showing how effective Coca Leaf therapy was in dealing with inflammatory processes in the body. In addition, the medical research from previous centuries on which these posts were based makes it clear that one of the most common (and most effective) modalities for the use of medicinal Coca Leaf was in the treatment of dyspepsia – what we now call reflux, which is a sure sign of Gut Microbiome issues.

In an undeterminable, but undoubtedly very large proportion of cases of dyspepsia in those days the culprit was an exogenous bacteria called Helicobacter pylori, which is now known to be the cause of well over 90% of all stomach and intestinal ulcers. H. pylori is acquired in two ways – it can be acquired directly through ingestion of feces-contaminated water (not as uncommon as one might think, even in the US today), and it can be passed from person to person – often parent to child – through oral contact (Come on sweetie, eat your applesauce – look, Mommy is tasting it! Yum! Now you try some.). That is why H. pylori tends to run in families, and why it was so common in 18th – 19th Century Europe and America, when almost everyone was exposed pretty constantly to feces-contaminated water.

Now for the interesting bit.

While H. pylori infection is epidemic in most of the under-developed world, as shown by epidemiological studies, and is also pretty common in the US (virtually everyone who has diagnosed or undiagnosed ulcers is infected) it is almost unknown among the indigenous, Coca-chewing people of the Andes. HOWEVER, in the non-indigenous, non Coca-chewing cities of Peru and Bolivia H. pylori infection, and the consequent diseases, are as common as anywhere else in the developing world.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to compare the Gut Microbiomes of Coca-chewing indigenous Andean people with non-Coca Chewing city dwelling Peruvians and Bolivians, and also perhaps with the profiles of Americans who have participated in the American Gut Project?

So, to summarize.

1. Coca Leaf was well-known in the 18th – 19th Centuries as a treatment and positive cure for Dyspepsia, which means that it was able to control/eliminate gut infection by H. Pylori, and quite likely by other gut-dwelling pathogens.
2. H.pylori infection is virtually unknown among Coca-chewing Andean peoples, while it is common in the cities of Andean countries.

In science when a theory sounds plausible but the data to test it are absent, the rule is “Think about what the world would look like if the theory were true, and then look at the world.”

If we recall the well-established observations by doctors in the 18th-19th centuries that coca leaf-chewing indigenous Peruvian and Bolivian people showed (and still show) virtually no signs of oral cavity disease, have clearly healthy-functioning digestive systems, are highly resistant to diseases causes by external pathogens, and have highly efficient metabolic systems, it seems fair to speculate that Coca Leaf therapy might be able to arrest and reverse the damage to both the gut wall and the Gut Microbiome caused by antibiotics, industrial food chemicals, and other sources of the suffering and death that seems to be the fate of so many of us living in the “Advanced Economies” of the world.

There is little question in my mind that when Coca Leaf is finally given its day in scientific court it will be shown to be highly effective at treating inflammatory conditions in the gut, as well as conditions involving colonies of pathogens and degraded epithelial cells and the mucosal wall itself. It will be shown to be effective because it not only directly addresses inflammatory processes in the gut tissues, but also addresses the degenerative processes initiated by chemical damage, as with emulsifiers (see below), or by “bad bacteria” that have colonized the upper gut, or by oral cavity bacteria hiding in the plaque below the gums, or by exogenous bacteria like H. pylori that have colonized and set about destroying the integrity of the gut wall while they implant themselves in protective burrows in the mucosal layers.

After all, if the use of a simple, natural medicine like Coca Leaf could treat even one or two diseases like Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, Hashimoto’s, IBS, SIBO, Celiac disease, Primary Biliary Cirrhosis, COPD, Asthma, Congestive Heart Failure, Atherosclerosis, Metabolic Disorder, Insulin Resistance, Obesity, Hyperglycemia, and possibly Alzheimer’s more effectively than the “medicines” currently offered by Pig Pharma – wouldn’t that be a marvelous gift from Mama Coca, the Mother Nature of the Andean people?

In the following discussion I hope to offer plausible if not convincing arguments that this possibility should be considered and seriously investigated.

Discussion

Those of us who for personal or professional reasons wonder about the origins of the diseases that seem to strike people in economically developed countries far more frequently than they do people who live in economically undeveloped parts of the world are increasingly seeing evidence that factors that affect gut bacteria play a major, poorly understood role in generating these advanced economy diseases, and offer a plausible explanation for why people in less advanced economies seem not to suffer from these diseases – at least until economic conditions improve for them.

Collectively these gut bacteria are known as the “Gut Microbiome”, and there are hundreds of thousands of species of these little communal creatures living in every part of the gut. While most of us think of the “Gut” as our stomach and intestines, in fact the gut runs from our mouth to our anus, colonized all the way by bacteria that specialize in living and performing specific functions in a specific part of our gut.

The Lane Lab at the University of Rhode Island is a treasure trove of research in this area. In a recent paper they write: “The human intestine is an ecosystem that supports up to 100 trillion microbes—a cell number that is roughly ten times greater than the human cells that comprise our bodies. In addition to the vast number of cells comprising the microbial community of the gut, there may be over 100 times the number of bacterial genes present compared with the number of genes in our own DNA (Bäckhed et al., 2005). These beneficial microbes are instrumental in our ability to extract nutrients from food, and also play an important role in the development of our immune systems.”

For example, our mouth contains @ 15% of the total number of species of bacteria in our gut, and although only dental hygienists ever mention it to us, having a healthy mouth is a critical part of whole body wellness. Leaving out, for the moment, the rest of the gut, a sick mouth biome can, by itself, trigger all kinds of disease conditions in organs as distant from the mouth as the brain and the heart.

(As an aside, if you have access to a dentist who uses the new laser technology for deep gum cleaning rather than the old “pick and scrape” technique – give it a try. I can tell you anecdotally that someone I know very well, who suffers from a severely compromised Gut Microbiome, and who has been doing all of the “Leaky Gut” therapies, found that after a single teeth cleaning with this laser technology her “Brain Fog” symptoms disappeared. She was not miraculously cured of all symptoms, but this one very annoying one simply went away.)

When all of these hundreds of thousands of little communities of bacteria are healthy and functioning as they should, our whole body tends to be healthy and vigorous. Not that there aren’t diseases that have nothing to do with a healthy gut that can ravage and destroy us – some of them caused by exogenous bacteria, some by exogenous viruses, some by environmental chemicals, some by radiation, etc. It’s a long list.

However, in this post I would like to ask you to indulge me as I speculate on the potential for simple, inexpensive Coca Leaf therapy as a possible preventative of some, or even many of the “Advanced Economy Diseases”, and also as a treatment and possible cure for others.

Because there are so many factors to consider when discussing the health of the Human Gut, let’s focus just on the role of bacteria in maintaining, or degrading, the mucosal lining of the gut – the “Wall” as it’s called. In the normal, healthy gut there are large numbers of bacterial species whose primary, or sometimes secondary role is to maintain the “Wall” as a thick, protective lining of the gut, allowing ingested substances – primarily food and drink, often called the “Luminal Mass” – to pass smoothly through the upper and mid-gut while nutrients are extracted from the passing mass. These nutrients are processed by the bacteria into forms that can then pass through the mucosal layer, where they are taken up by the blood vessels that lie beneath this protective layer. Many gut researchers call these upper-gut bacteria “good bacteria”.

The mucous surface contains epithelial cells, which are a critical part of the barrier between the contents of the gut and the blood, lymph, and organ systems of the body. After all, when you think about it, the inside of your entire intestinal tube is OUTSIDE the body, although it passes through the body. So the walls of your gut serve to prevent materials that are outside the body from getting in – much the same as your skin. However, the mucous wall serves to allow nutrient absorption and to promote waste secretion, which means that the mucosal wall must be selectively permeable. It must allow some things through, and prevent other things from getting through.

And a healthy gut wall does just that, and it is maintained in good condition by the “good bacteria” that live on its surfaces.

Normally these “good bacteria” don’t live within the mucosal wall – they colonize its surface and work their nutrient-absorbing magic on the contents of the gut as it passes by and is ultimately expelled from the body as nutrient-exhausted waste – feces and urine. (Way too simple, I know, but this isn’t intended to be an academic paper, just a small speculative essay.)

Researchers are now, almost daily, publishing studies that show that when the mucosal wall of the Upper/Mid Gut is compromised, some of our most devastating diseases begin to appear. Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, Hashimoto’s, IBS, SIBO, celiac disease, primary biliary cirrhosis, atherosclerosis, and – some believe – Alzheimer’s. That’s the short list.

There are an increasing number of studies into how the mucosal wall is breached – a condition that some call “Leaky Gut”, but almost all of these breaches begin with a disturbance in the Gut Microbiome.

A common breaching event occurs when a person is administered a heavy dose of antibiotics to deal with an attack on the body by dangerous outside bacteria like Staph, for example. Unfortunately because of the increasing heavy doses of ever more powerful antibiotics needed to deal with increasingly resistant invaders, many of the “good bacteria” in the upper and mid-gut are also wiped out, along with the epithelial cells in the mucosal lining.

So far I haven’t mentioned the lower gut and its denizens, called “Bad Bacteria” by many scientists. Bugs like C. Dificil and Klebsiella, to name just two of hundreds of these lower intestine bugs, normally stay in place and perform all kinds of functions that are essential to successful elimination of waste from the body. In that sense they are not “bad”, because as long as they stay put and do what they are supposed to do, they are behaving themselves and causing no harm.

However, these “Bad Bugs” are also much stronger than the “Good Bugs” that dwell upstairs, so in the event of a whole body antibiotic assault far more of them survive. But that’s not the end of the story. They not only survive, they sense newly vacated territory in the upper gut and they begin migrating and establishing colonies. These bacteria – now earning their designation as “bad” – are not content to live peacefully on the surface of the mucosal lining of the upper gut. Because the lower gut has a completely different kind of lining, the “Bad Bacteria” begin burrowing into the mucosal wall of the upper gut – for reasons that are not yet understood. Some researchers say it is because the mucosal wall offers them a way to strengthen their foothold in the new territory; others say it is because the mucous is yummy. Whatever the reason, these “Bad Bacteria” soon eat through the epithelial cells and mucous lining of the upper gut and – voila – the selectively permeable barrier is no longer selective. All kinds of substances from the “Luminal Mass” can transit directly through the gut wall and into the bloodstream, setting into motion a furious reaction by both the body’s immune system and its endocrine systems which recognize these substances as things that should not ever be inside the body, and the body’s defenses immediately attack. And because the person inside whom this is happening continues to eat and drink, the substances keep leaking through the gut wall and the body’s defenses keep ramping up their responses to the highest possible levels.

Just one brief example – in Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, what appears to happen is that when the Gut Wall is compromised and certain proteins begin “leaking” through into the blood, the body’s immune system begins attacking these foreign proteins – primarily the gluten protein molecule from grains. Unfortunately, the gluten molecule is almost identical to a thyroid gland tissue molecule, and so the body’s immune system, alerted to the foreign invader gluten protein molecule, also begins attacking and destroying the Thyroid gland tissue. Voila – Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. If not checked, the immune system will ultimately destroy the Thyroid gland in its misguided mission to protect the body from foreign, and therefore dangerous proteins circulating in the blood and lymphatic systems.

This never would have happened if the gut wall had not been breached, and in almost every case this breach is the consequence of colonization of the upper gut by “bad” bacteria.

Zap – You’re Emulsified

Antibiotic overdose and upward migration of “Bad Bacteria” are not the only identified causes of “Leaky Gut” and its disastrous consequences. For example, an extremely interesting new research paper shows that several of the common emulsifiers used in food manufacturing to keep ingredients from separating such as polysorbate 80, lecithin, carrageenan, polyglycerols, and xanthan and other “gums,” wreck havoc with the gut. In lab animals. This research found that polysorbate 80 (common in ice cream) and carboxymethylcellulose altered microbiota in a way that caused chronic inflammation.

They also found that mice with abnormal immune systems fed emulsifiers developed chronic colitis, while those with normal immune systems developed mild intestinal inflammation and a metabolic disorder that caused them to eat more, and become obese, hyperglycemic, and insulin resistant.

The conclusion of this research seems to be that “emulsifiers” in food somehow “emulsify” the mucosal wall of the gut. Well all I can say is “Duh”.

In Conclusion

The Human Gut has evolved over millions of years into a remarkable organ that, in a natural world, is fully capable of protecting the body that serves as its host from virtually any biological or chemical threat found in that natural world. When the Microbiome of the gut is in balance within itself, the entire organism of the body tends to be in balance with the environment.

However, as ‘civilization’ has evolved, and especially since the industrial and scientific revolutions have changed the natural world irrevocably, the Human Gut has simply not had time to adapt and therefore, like the rest of the Human body, it has increasingly fallen victim to both the deliberate creations of these revolutions like antibiotics and processed foods as well as to the waste products of the revolutions like chemical and biological pollution of the air, water and earth.

As the saying goes, we are what we eat, and if what we eat is instead eating us from the inside, there is little hope for a solution coming from our scientific and industrial revolutions. If there is a solution perhaps it will come from reaching back into time and understanding the relevance of at least some of the old ways to our contemporary dilemmas. Surely Mama Coca, just like Mother Nature, is waiting there to help us, if we have the will and wisdom to seek her help.