Thursday, 19 May 2011

Pretty simple, huh?
The Telegraph today may be showing pretty pictures of bacteria but they display OLD-STYLE  microbiology when we know at a molecular level now that these matters are far more complex than pinpointing the great big "bruisers" of microbes like E coli and helicobacter pylori.

This study "provokes reexamination of the traditional view of killing strategies against bacteria" and contains some far more challenging actual shots of bacteria. And this paper points out the seriousness of microbiologists ignoring the need to research cell-wall-deficient bacteria.

The ridiculousness of showing the public computerised pictures of the fearsome "bogeyman" pathogens that can be easily named is particularly evidenced by recent papers on nanobacteria and others that have long shown a link between these incredibly tiny  microbes and calcifying human conditions, like artery or kidney disease.

All this research (which does not receive media coverage) indicates it is this increased depth of knowledge we need to seek if we are ever going to get to grips with chronic illness.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Gotta add weight

New research adds weight to the theory that the body absolutely needs to push fat in to cells. Those patients who had liposuction in one place found that the fat reappeared somewhere else in the body.

This makes sense to me, if you consider that a body which does not have a perfectly balanced metabolism of its various proteins, chemicals and hormones will produce an excess of some. Fat cells are a good place to put the extra.

If the body didn't then it could go downhill very quickly. I have also read that if fat cells become bloated and then a sudden event causes some to burst, releasing the toxins within, this precipitates an acute medical emergency.

I am seriously in favour of shoving the horrible current public attitude that "obese people" (however others want to categorise them, usually by appearance!) are to blame for their own poor health.

While everyone has to be sensible about limiting our modern tendency towards processed foods, it is now becoming increasingly clear that there is something wrong within the body that produces obesity. It is not just our genes or our diet.

And if you are wondering why, after liposuction, the fat doesn't go back to the same place but to some other fat cells elsewhere, one expert in the New York Times piece had this suggestion: "Maybe liposuction violently destroys the fishnet structure under the skin where fat cells live." Wrecking your body further does not seem to be a sensible answer to obesity.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

No simple answers for autism or any condition with mental symptoms that shift over time?

I have observed that there are many families where different members have diagnoses varying from bi-polar disorder to chronic fatigue syndrome, or from Aspergers to rheumatoid arthritis, and that these change between the family generations. Also many of those given one diagnosis also have another (or even two or three) diagnoses - known as comorbidities.

I have seen a few instances of the medical profession beginning to admit that their diagnoses don't always fit neatly and therefore are not always helpful ways of ensuring the patient gets the most effective treatment. But today's opinion piece in Scientific American on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders by Steven E. Hyman, a top neurobiologist and international advisor on mental health conditions, absolutely lays bare the contradictions revealed by the advances of molecular scientific research.

"What the DSM treats as discrete disorders, categorically separate from health and from each other, are not, in fact, discrete.... I would hypothesize that what is shared within disorder families, such as the autism spectrum or the obsessive-compulsive disorder spectrum, are abnormalities in neural circuits that underlie different aspects of brain function, from cognition to emotion to behavioral control, and that these circuit abnormalities do not respect the narrow symptoms checklists."

HOORAH! The beginnings of recognition of complexity in genetic effects and the stupidity of simplistic medical naming. Roll on the medical paradigm shift!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Our fossilized beauty

The recent unearthing of my childhood fossils and stones collection has resonated with my belief in the gradual structuring and reinvention of our human body over time.

I do not believe that we consist only of our isolated selves, our personal lifelong genes. We are not self-contained, pure and untainted within our skins; and current developments in microbiology and genetics give me encouragement in believing this.

What if each of us, when we were tapped with a little fossil hammer, broke open to reveal complex beauty? The beauty created by additional beings within us that have gifted their pattern to our make-up.

Maybe we have many quiet contributors within us that will not be revealed for a very long time, despite how clever we think we are in scientific terms. Until the relevant patch of earth cracks and crumbles, the true face of the stone will not be exposed to examination and awe.

What I am suggesting is that we are the sum of many people - past and present - and also many other things, so that our physiology and health may get a little improved, or a little worsened over a period of our lives; or maybe both of these possible actions, in one lifelong balancing act.

The possibility that some creature could slip a few genes in to another unrelated creature simply by living with them was once thought to be extremely rare. Recent studies on intracellular bacteria and their hosts seriously question this view

When I look at the magnificent tracery of ancient fossils within my stone collection I'm excited about what we can learn in the near future about the greater complexity of our human body - if we are prepared to think inside and outside ourselves.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Back from the dead!

All Hallow's Eve approaches and many friends are telling me that they are feeling like death warmed up.
It is normal to be worn down by fatigue and and moan that this is a horrible time of year. We wish all these stomach bugs and infections on our chests would go away...and quickly.
I am also “full of cold”, falling in to a deep exhausted sleep for hours at a time, and struggling to write through an aching body and head which has continued for a week. But I am excited and happy about this.

Why??? Why would I be so perverse?
To shorten a difficult explanation: because it is a sign that my body is alive and kicking!

You see, I have now been through years of these phases of increased immune response with aching bones, upset stomach, mucus-production, sinusitis and headaches. I made them happen by embarking on a radical and tough immune-stimulating drug protocol called the Marshall Protocol. This is the opposite of many mainstream immune-suppressing medical treatments for chronic pain and autoimmune conditions.

The result after 17 months has been a huge reduction in my chronic pain, diagnosed as fibromyalgia, and the recovery of my ability to maintain a stable body temperature (At times in the past three to five years the number of clothing layers I needed was ridiculous and any exposure of my skin to cooler air led to uncontrollable shivering and blueish nails).

I am now able to think about working again because the cognitive dysfunction I experienced for a few years seems to be lifting gradually like a curtain.
I fully expect to face more ups and downs during my recovery, but now I sense that my body can basically cope with what is thrown at it.

In the last month or two I was feeling quite good, sailing along, no longer struggling to walk more than short distances, and able to use my muscles more often without post-exertion pain.
I consulted my two doctors and we agreed that I would make a certain medical adjustment which they predicted would cause my immune response to increase again. This is sometimes called a Herxheimer reaction. We all felt that I was ready for this next step change.

Hence I am now sneezing, coughing, aching and trying to clear my poor sinuses.....and I am rejoicing as I take the next steps in my recovery! I haven't “caught a bug” - my body is responding exactly as planned, to control the chronic infections already at home inside my body.

I want to write a whole series of blog posts about natural immune responses of different types (subject to my own daily symptoms!). If you don't think I am explaining in a lot more depth what I believe is happening in the body, contact me and tell me!

Good health everyone!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Naming names

What's in a name? Well, if someone called you by the wrong name you wouldn't hesitate to correct them.
And humans do so love the naming of things. Whole books are written about those individuals who have come up with naming systems for different scientific areas such as Carolus Linnaeus for botany. 

Much effort is spent these days in testing and identifying the name of the bacteria that may have caused an infection. Once the doctor knows what it is then s/he feels able to prescribe the correct antibiotic. Or that's the theory.

But a new paper has shown how difficult it can be to put a name on something as shape-shifting as microbes. 
The genes from one microbe may be quite useful to another nearby microbe - especially if they convey antibiotic resistance - so they parcel it out in a generous way apparently. This is called horizontal gene transfer.

In Nature News magazine this week they reported on the important discovery of the mechanism by which microbes do this, and also revealed how amazingly quick it can happen. Overnight 47 per cent of marine bacteria had taken the genetic make-up of an introduced modified microbe in to their own genetic make-up. Now that makes naming microbes a bit tricky.

Evolutionary biologist Jeffrey Townsend at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, told the magazine: "In order to understand antibiotic resistance, pathogenicity, or the beneficial things that bacteria do for us, we need to understand how they evolve through horizontal gene transfer — knowing about this process can help us live in a world full of microbes."

And most of us want to carry on living in this microbe-crammed world, don't we? I think we need to pay less attention to naming things, and start applying our knowledge to understanding important processes in and around us.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Working in harmony

I have so missed singing in a choir! I finally got to a community choir rehearsal this week and loved it, despite my tiredness afterwards.
Voices training up and down the scales with fun exercises, learning new musical parts and words, having a laugh with friends and people I hadn't met before.
It involved a lot of concentration for me but, oh, when our choir leader's hand counted us in and our voices wove together - the beauty of that connected sound thrilled me.

So much in our society today separates.
And there is a lot in scientific practice that separates everyone out to their specialisms. Often the system, or social norms, keep us firmly apart from others with a scientific perspective that comes from a slightly different discipline.
But I have found that some barriers have been brought down gradually over the last few years, for those who seek out connections. 

Now hear some encouraging words for patients from distinguished professor emeritus of microbiology and immunology, University of Michegan Medical School Fred Neidhardt:"Not uncommonly, investigations of infectious disease proceeded largely in medical school departments of internal medicine or pediatrics, while explorations of the intricacies of microbial growth processes were pursued at the same schools in basic science microbiology departments. 
"That situation has been changing in the past couple of decades, and finally the frontiers of bacterial physiology and of virulence (molecular pathogenesis) have virtually fused."

In a post-antibiotic age where microbes are the focus of close attention in acute and chronic medical processes, that is a good thing to know - the scientists, whose combined knowledge may understand the problem better together, are now talking to each other!
Prof Neidhardt says the science has undergone a "seachange" because their differently wise voices are now "intertwined".

To all of my friends and acquaintances with more know-how than I: please, share the knowledge you have across professional boundaries, listen to people you haven't listened to before, join your wisdom to others' wisdom. The rising chorus will produce something connected and more wonderful that will benefit us all.

Monday, 9 August 2010


Just back from a holiday with a bit too much sun.
I wasn't sunbathing at all I can assure you - I try to cover my skin and wear medically effective sunglasses to block all types of lightwaves. The glasses are to protect my extremely light sensitive eyes, which produce one of the seven forms of vitamin D in the body resulting in big swings in my condition.

As I am generally physically better after more than a year on my personalised drug treatment (hooray!), I was trying to be more active and sociable with my family on holiday. Unfortunately the kickback from the excess of sun has knocked me for six. Back to trying to have a normal life while keeping myself away from too much UV light (which also includes some fluorescent lights).

Has anyone else noticed an increase in pains or depression or other physical changes about one or two days after getting an excess of sunshine - maybe by the sea with the extra reflections from the water? Sometimes the sunlight and changeable weather at the turn of the seasons have a similar effect.