October Update

Bought a standard poodle puppy.  Bringing him home October 5, so October will be full of housebreaking, and FUN.



Entries in inflammation (2)


Hygiene Leads to Disease? Part 2: Autism

My last post was about how parasitic intestinal worms seem somehow to protect against inflammatory intestinal autoimmune disease.  People from rural environments and developing countries, where such parasites are common, do not suffer such inflammatory diseases.  Stewart Johnson, a deeply concerned father of an autistic child has taken this further.

         Johnson researched all sorts of autism cures in hopes of alleviating his 13-year-old son’s self=destructive behaviors.  He knew that one idea about autism is that some of the symptoms are a result of inflammation of glial cells in the brain.

         As you can see from my two brief posts last week (May 17 and 19), the snake oil salesmen have been quick to hop onto the inflammation-causes-autism bandwagon.  But that doesn’t mean inflammation isn’t part of some forms of autism.

         In search of inflammation cures, Stewart Johnson came across the research I reported in my last post.  Wondering if parasitic helminth (Trichuris suis) worms might help his son, Johnson got in touch with his son’s doctor, Eric Hollander, who helped him get a sample of the worm eggs (T. suis ova or TSO) and with Joel Weinstock, one of the researchers who found they could alleviate Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. 

         With their help, Johnson tried the worm therapy and found that it did indeed alleviate the terrible, self-destructive autism symptoms his son was suffering.  Years later, the son, now twenty, is healthy on bi-weekly doses of TSO.

         What a miracle!  Now the task for researchers is to figure out what the worms are doing to modify immune systems so that inflammation goes away.  Meanwhile, see Stewart Johnson telling this story below.



What Is Autism Trying to Teach Us?

The rising number of children with autism could be a warning.  Genetically, these children may be especially sensitive to some of the tens of thousands of pollutants in our environment.  

        According to Discover magazine, autism researchers have begun paying attention to the digestive and immune disturbances that accompany the personality aberrations of autism.  Autism is probably connected to genetics.  That’s “genetics,” not “a gene.”  And autism is probably connected to environment.  Like most genetic phenomena, it’s a combination of nature and nurture.

        Genes often work in teams, like this:  All your cells need a certain anti-oxidant molecule.  In each cell, gene 1 in the team manufactures the first part of the anti-oxidant molecule.  Then gene 2 in the team takes the first part of the anti-oxidant and adds a second part.  Then gene 3 adds a third part, and so on until a final gene completes the job.  When the anti-oxidant molecule—let’s call it glutathione—is finished, it can start detoxifying poisonous oxygen radicals that result from daily cell work.

        Now let’s suppose that one of the genes in the glutathione team is handicapped.  Glutathione production slows down. Or the glutathione is defective.  Either way, crowds of oxygen radicals accumulate and interfere with cell functions.  Lots of different kinds of cells suffer when this happens: digestive cells, immune cells, and brain cells, just to name a few.

        One form of suffering brought on by this excess of oxygen radicals has to do with the way cells repair damage from allergens or pollutants.    In addition to the gene team that makes glutathione, each cell has teams of repair genes.  A handicapped gene in a repair team may become even more handicapped when it is stressed by the poisonous accumulation of oxygen radicals.  So repair slows down.  When your cells have unrepaired damage, they send out calls for help, and the first thing your body does is mount a defense that includes inflammation.  If the damage remains unrepaired, the inflammation may become chronic: you get chronic digestive problems, chronic allergic problems, and chronic inflammation of the brain.

        So here and there a handicapped glutathione gene plus a handicapped repair gene might lead to what we call autism.  And the rising number of kids with autism might be an indication of what can happen to human beings in a polluted environment.