We believe that our immune system is there to defend us and to kill viruses, bacteria and so on before they can make us ill. If this is the case, why do we get sick and why should we be so afraid of a virus? In order to understand how we get ill we need to first find out what is going wrong with the immune system. Why does it struggle to defend us, attack our own healthy cells – or cause a response that ends up killing us?
Science Daily reported in 2012: “With infectious diseases, it is often not the pathogen itself, but rather an excessive inflammatory immune response (sepsis) that contributes to the patient’s death, for instance as a result of organ damage. In intensive care units, sepsis is the second-most common cause of death worldwide.” They say that people with a severely compromised immune system, who have candidiasis or are exposed to mould and mycotoxins are more vulnerable.
Q: We have recently been talking about supporting and strengthening the immune system but if it is too strong, it seems to kill us. Please can you tell us what is going on?
The immune system protects us with T cells and NK or natural killer cells and other specialised white blood cells like macrophages or neutrophils. As a team, they detect and attack pathogens that we may inhale, touch or swallow. Virally infected cells produce and release small proteins called interferons – another immune response that inhibits or interferes with their ability to replicate within an infected cell. This is what happens with a well programmed, well maintained immune system at the initial stage. We are usually not aware of anything awry because it is functioning perfectly – as it should. But if we neglect our diet, (our Vitamin A, D and C etc.) and have too much stress, too much radiation (cell phones and Wi-Fi) – plus too little sleep the immune system is compromised.
When primary immune responses fail to cope with a pathogen, the secondary stage kicks in – the alarms go off. Cytokines are derived from leucocytes to coordinate the body’s response against infection and they trigger inflammation. Certain cytokines, including interleukins and chemokines, are immune regulators to control the period of inflammation. However, the mechanism by which certain viruses deregulate the immune system is not clearly understood. The body commonly releases pro-inflammatory proteins in response to viral infections to eliminate them. But in some patients, especially those with immune-related disorders – even after the pathogen is eliminated, more cytokines are released resulting in hyper-inflammation. This can seriously harm or even kill the patient. Now called a cytokine storm, this is a common complication of respiratory diseases.
We as humans are composed of 10% cells plus the 90% of our bulk that comes in the form of bacteria and viruses, believe it or not! We talk about friendly bacteria – the gut flora or 80% of our immune system but we also have beneficial viruses called phages that infect and kill bacteria. They are very active in mucous membranes and can protect the lungs from bacterial infections that attack the respiratory system. (One wonders if anti-vital medications given to patients with flu may contribute to the risk of developing pneumonia and tuberculosis
Q: We often talk about looking after our gut bacteria, for example eating fermented foods, taking probiotics and so on. But how do intestines and their contents affect immunity – how can probiotics prevent the flu?
As in the gut, beneficial bacteria thrive in the secretions lining the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract where they help to fight harmful viruses and the pathogenic bacteria we inhale into the lungs on a constant basis, regardless of where we have been or who has touched us. Pathogenic or harmful microbes cause diseases such as colds and flu, pneumonia or tuberculosis. It does not matter what type of flu – if the mucous membrane does its job as part of the immune team, you don’t get flu. The immune system does not discriminate against the type of virus – or the latest mutation or patented version of the strain. It detects, destroys and eliminates it. We also develop antibodies, thanks to the T cell programming of the immune system.
Mucosal defence is a critical immune factor in the gut as well as the lungs against invasion of pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Hydrochloric acid in the stomach destroys most the pathogens we ingest – or the mucous we swallow. We have colonies of “good” bacteria in the gut and need to maintain the right balance to keep this part of the immune system functioning. The gastrointestinal immune cells are known as “Peyer’s patches” and protect the mucous membranes of the small intestines against infection by releasing white blood cells (T-cells and B-cells).
Boosting the action of these immune cells are certain strains of gut flora (probiotics) that also help to prevent pathogens from being absorbed into our bodies. The gut has to deal with the pathogens coming in from everything you ingest – as well as the infected mucous you swallow (and hopefully never spit on the ground like the Chinese do)! The body has several means of getting rid of inhaled particles. In the airways, an accumulation of secretions (mucus) coats particles so that they can be coughed up more easily. Additionally, cells lining the airways have tiny filaments called cilia that stick out into the airways, and these filaments can brush inhaled particles upward, out of the lungs. In the small air sacs of the lungs (alveoli), special scavenger cells (macrophages) engulf most particles and render them harmless. We need to have an effective immune system in place to ward off attacks and prevent illness and also to stop the re-entry of pathogens from what we call a leaky gut.
Q: We hear about a leaky gut and know that people who suffer from it are more vulnerable to viruses and are constantly having autoimmune-related problems. What causes a leaky gut?
When the epithelial lining, the barrier or layers of tightly bonded cells that insulate the gut is damaged, it can lead to a “leaky gut”. This means that “foreign invaders” like undigested food, toxins, parasites, gluten and bacteria or viruses can leak out of the gut and enter the bloodstream. The most common culprit seems to be the Giardia parasite but many factors are at play and inflammation is a major problem, coming from many sources that include stress, toxins and so on. When these foreign particles reach the bloodstream they are detected by the immune team – the T-cells that have been programmed by the thymus, the neutrophils, the macrophages and the natural killer cells. The fight begins and the enemy’s antigens are tagged. Within the frenzied activity some of our own cells may also be tagged as foreign invaders and are attacked. This is how gluten, for instance can cause a number of autoimmune diseases. So here is an example of how the immune system turns on us and attacks our own pancreatic, thyroid, adrenal or joint tissue. With rheumatoid arthritis and lupus erythematosus, the lungs are also affected.
Q: It true that one can also get leaky lungs?
Yes, the lungs have a similar watertight germ-protective membrane that gets damaged. These days the favourite whipping boy is 5G but even so, allergens – especially gluten, autoimmune disease, stress and the constant use of a regular cell phone and inhaling polluted air have done sufficient damage to make most of us very vulnerable to viruses and other respiratory infections. Living in confined spaces during lockdown without much fresh air or sunshine makes matters worse. A primary lung antagonist is black mould (aspergillus) from damp buildings, dirty, musty cupboards, sinks and bathrooms. Airborne allergens as we know, especially for people with asthma who develop an allergy to black mould or dry rot and constant exposure to pet hair, dust and so on.
Q: Are symptoms of mould inhalation similar to coronavirus?
Mould toxicity causes breathing difficulty and coughing or chest pain. The effects of the immune reaction to mould and its harmful toxins and gasses include: inflammation, swelling, allergies (sneezing, mucous), asthma, sinus infections, joint and stomach pain and body fatigue. Mould exposure increases inflammation and damage the endothelial lining – causing leaky lungs. Mould inhalation not only exposes one to harmful mycotoxins, but also to increased carbon dioxide that it expels, especially when lungs become infected with it. When a person breathes air that contains irritants and other substances the airways become narrow and breathing becomes difficult. This is similar to COPD or if acute, what we are now calling a respiratory crisis. People with damaged lungs need to expel mucous, rather than trap it because it can cause a “dry” cough.
Today on the news we saw that US citizens were given masks with 2010 expiry dates on the boxes (old stock from a previous pandemic) and some of the masks were infected with dry rot. Hello? that could infect the user with this deadly toxin. Mycotoxins are potent immunosuppressive agents that directly affect immune cells and also modify immune responses in other parts of the body as a consequence of tissue damage.
Q: If we have leaky gut and leaky lungs – what about a leaky brain?
We talk about brain fog – it may me a symptom of a leaky brain as is depression, ADD/ADHD, chronic pain, autism, mental illnesses or seizures. Here again, there are many causes but inflammation as a result of an infection may contribute to the bonds between endothelial cells to allow larger particles such as MSG or GABA to enter. Known causes are: blood sugar imbalances, gluten, stress, autoimmune problems and a leaky gut. Alarming too, are the effects of RF-EMF since the head is close to mobile phones during mobile communication. Mobile phones and wireless gadgets cause an alteration in neurotransmitters, (excitotoxicity if the BBB is permeable), changes in calcium homeostasis, synapse plasticity, and additional blood-brain barrier damage as well as various cognitive disorders which may affect behaviour.
The GABA test for leaky brain: If you feel drowsy or sleepy several hours after taking 1,000 mg of GABA, this means your blood-brain barrier is leaky enough to let GABA through.