Tag Archives: vaccine

Vaccination, Gut Bacteria, and…logic?

GettyImages-680796855-58b8da313df78c353c234a23 - CopyA central part of the news cycle recently (March 2019) seems to be about two sides of “the vaccine issue”. There is more effort to make vaccines mandatory for everybody, with no choices available, to stop providing religious or even medical exemptions from vaccination. There is increasing pressure to make vaccination not just mandatory, but even forced. My hope is that more information might make people on both sides of the argument less inclined to antagonize each other, while perhaps even helping reduce the incidence of vaccine adverse reactions and disease outbreaks.

As a starting point, because many people (including health care practitioners) routinely say that permanent injuries from vaccines simply do not happen, take a look at the CDC page that describes side effects from each class of vaccination. https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/vac-gen/side-effects.htm

The issues of personal freedom vs. government intervention for this issue are startling. Forced vaccination? Are we willing to go there, really? It is interesting to note that many of the people promoting mandatory and forced vaccination are also people that are “pro-choice”, citing a “woman’s right to choose.” The contradictions here are startling. I could rant here, but I’ll bypass the soapbox and focus on the particular concepts that need to be discussed with regards to vaccines.

There are many cases of what is known as “vaccine failure,” which is defined as when the vaccination doesn’t impart immunity to the patient. In fact, you might be interested to learn that studies have shown that vaccinated individuals can still contract the diseases they are vaccinated for. One outbreak in a school with 98% vaccination rates had 48% of measles cases occurring in vaccinated individuals (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3826461). There are actually many studies of vaccine failure, showing that in many individuals the vaccine simply doesn’t elicit a sufficient immune response. Why would this be?

The “flipside” of the argument is also interesting; when vaccines cause injuries. While the incidence is quite low, it’s also a lot of injuries because of the number of people vaccinated. Many parents report being, essentially, bullied and shamed into vaccinating their children. While the “it’s for the overall good” argument has some merit, this is a huge ethical violation, on top of being just rude. It’s also a violation of informed consent. For more about that, check out https://physiciansforinformedconsent.org/faq/ .

There are other major issues behind the growing resistance to vaccines. Rather than attempt to include that discussion here, I’m going to link to an excellent article written by a local doctor I know: http://tinyurl.com/y5mtfnwj

Now the fun part: how is it possible that a vaccine can create immunity in many individuals, fail to do so in others, and cause injury for a few in the process? To understand this, we have to look at the immune system, what influences it, and what is the “failure mode” of vaccine injuries. So here it is: almost every vaccine adverse event report I’ve read is all about an inflammatory response. Instead of the vaccine triggering immunity, the result is instead an inflammatory response. Of course, vaccine failure isn’t inflammatory, but instead not enough response at all. One could make a case that both extremes are showing the immune system not working properly!

What is it that influences the immune system’s function, and has been in steady disarray and decline for some time now? Yes, the gut microbiome. Our gut is home to trillions of gut bacteria, and they help our immune system to respond appropriately to what challenges are presented. There is evidence that helping gut bacteria improves the immune response to flu vaccine, for example. Also, in early life, Bifidobacteria abundance is predictive of vaccine efficacy.

So, if imbalanced gut bacteria (dysbiosis) promotes more of an inflammatory response to a vaccine rather than the desired antibody response, and we also know that autism is heavily tied to an inflammatory state, does that mean that vaccines can cause autism? Technically, no, (not directly) as studies have shown. But VAERS data shows an average of 89 deaths per year from vaccine reactions, and an average of 195 new disabilities per year from vaccine reactions. Also significant is that most of the neurologic damage seems to initiate from inflammation of the brain-often terms like “viral meningitis” or “encephalitis” are used. If you read enough VAERS reports or know enough parents of vaccine-injured children, you’ll see a pattern. Now you know the mechanism behind the inflammation. So, does that mean vaccines can cause autism? probably not, but clearly it can happen when there are other problems. To use a metaphor,  I could also say that when the 8-ball goes in the corner pocket at the end of a game of billiards, it isn’t the cue ball that sends it there; it’s the bumper of the table which bounces it in that direction. Did the cue ball initiate the journey? of course! But it didn’t drive the 8-ball into the hole. Get my drift? No, I’m not saying people should get vaccinated, though I have doubts about the safety of dozens of injections in an infant. What I am saying is that it is vitally important to optimize our microbiome, and if a child’s microbiome is not doing well, perhaps we should work on it before vaccinating the child.

It’s widely acknowledged that vaccines have dramatically reduced the incidence of the diseases involved, and the facts definitely prove that. The differences as far as deaths or injuries are not always so clear however. For example, in 1920 there were 469,924 cases of measles in the US; a huge number. There were also 7,575 deaths, which is just tragic. From 1958 to 1962, the US averaged 503,282 measles cases per year, but only 432 deaths. Measles vaccine was introduced in 1963, and many claim the dramatic reduction in cases and deaths is due to the vaccine. It’s clear that is only partly true, as the deaths had plummeted before the vaccine was introduced. The number of cases was clearly reduced by the vaccines-but the human immune system was improving and providing more resistance. It’s also likely that some of the reduction in mortality was due to improvements in medical care.

If you now have a bit more interest in the microbiome and how to improve the health of your gut bacteria, I’ve written a book about gut bacteria. It’s called The Symbiont Factor and is available on Amazon. I will soon be publishing a new book, which will in some ways be a second edition/updated edition of The Symbiont Factor. There is also a course in the works, with videos and worksheets to help implement the strategies that are explained in the books. Click here to receive a free report and join my mailing list and receive updates on these exciting new developments!















Babies, Breasts, Brains and Bugs: How the Microbiome Helps Build a Baby’s Brain-and How Autism Can Happen if it Doesn’t!

The human microbiome has been the focus of intense scientific scrutiny for the last decade and some truly surprising discoveries have been made. One of the most interesting is the finding that the gut bacteria communicate with the brain through the Vagus nerve. The brain and the gut bacteria have constant cross-talk through what is known as the microbiome-gut-brain axis. The vagus nerve is the parasympathetic output of the brain and serves to provide motor function to the digestive tract. Reduction of output of the vagus nerve results in sluggish intestinal activity. In the newborn, this sluggishness can result in constipation and colic as well as inflammation. There are many factors necessary for the proper development of baby’s brain, some of which we will focus on here:

-Vagal tone is necessary for the brain to develop normally. Reduced vagal tone is one of the best indicators of neurologic health of a newborn and poor vagal tone is associated with social, behavior, emotion and communication problems later in life. It is also associated with failure to grow and gain weight. Autism is an example of these problems! Probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus stimulate vagal function, resulting in improved weight gain and brain function. Other factors that have been found to improve vagal tone include Kangaroo Care (so named in the care of premature infants, it used to be called a mother holding her baby skin-to-skin and cuddling). Massage therapy of the newborn improves vagal tone as well. One of the most interesting factors that improves vagal tone is when a mother plays with an infant, making faces and communicating. This interaction has been found to greatly increase vagal tone and improve digestion, growth, and brain functions related to communication, expression and social behaviors. Of course, not doing this has the opposite effect! If the mother is depressed or angry and has a flat expression the baby’s brain does not develop as well. This may be one of the undiscussed causes for the increased incidence of autism-as autistic individuals become old enough to be parents, they are uniquely not suited to this face-to-face play and expression, thereby hindering their child’s brain development in a manner similar to their own. The increasing use of day care centers and babysitters has this effect as well, as babies do not generally receive the same level of interaction a they would with a full-time mother.

-Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor or BDNF: this vital neurotropin helps the brain to grow new neurons and new synapses and is essential for learning to occur. Without normal levels of BDNF, a baby could not learn new behaviors and develop normally. Abnormally elevated levels of BDNF have been found to occur in autistic individuals. Symbiotic gut bacteria modulate the levels of BDNF to keep them normal.

-Normal functioning of the immune system: If the nervous system is not regulated properly it may begin attacking nerve tissue in a process known as neuroinflammation. The brains of autistic individuals have elevated concentrations of microglia (the brain’s immune cells) combined with other signs of inflammation. The human immune system is developed, programmed and regulated in part by symbiotic gut bacteria. Reductions in beneficial symbionts and reduced gut biodiversity cause inflammation that can progress to neuroinflammation. It is vital for the newborn infant to receive adequate starter cultures of probiotic bacteria from the mother and for these to thrive so that they can help with immune and brain development.

In light of modern birth and infant care practices, the rapid increase in autism is not surprising. Symbiotic bacteria are not acknowledged during most of the pregnancy and childbirth process and are not considered during healthcare decisions. Routine use of caesarian section births, often for “convenience and safety” in cases where there are no contraindications to normal vaginal birth, is the first major insult to the new infant’s microbiome. The vaginal canal provides a big starter culture that children born by c-section do not receive. The next boost to the infant microbiome is breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, both of which are not considered when a newborn is whisked away by attending nurses and physicians. When breastfeeding is explained as “an option” instead of “vitally necessary,” mothers are less likely to breastfeed their infants. Of course, sometimes c-sections are necessary, and it is possible to have medical reasons not to breastfeed. Understanding the significance of all these factors helps, so that probiotics, skin to skin contact and the remaining strategies can be properly utilized to help the developing microbiome and brain.

One of the most poignant causes of initial reductions in vagal tone come from the autonomic nervous system’s function as a “fight-or-flight” system. Consider the baby in the nine months prior to birth: a soft, warm, moist, dark and relatively quiet environment exists in the womb. Vagal tone is “relaxed” tone-so consider what happens when childbirth occurs in a brightly lit exam room with a multitude of voices and electronic sounds, and the newborn is removed from the mother’s warmth and examined, reflexes tested, held upside down, and injected with several vaccinations. The effect to the baby’s autonomic nervous system is to trigger a full fight-or-flight panic response, effectively supressing any vagal tone present. Commercial formula is frequently provided, reducing or eliminating the benefits of breastfeeding and instead using sugar-laden formula that encourages the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. The human body and its symbionts are not evolved to handle the consumption of “acellular carbohydrates” or simple sugars not in fruit or vegetable form.

When all of the above factors are considered, where are we heading as a species? Subsequent generations born and raised with such methods will be less able to care for new infants due to reduced emotional expression, reduced symbiont diversity and potentially forgetting “the old ways” that have worked successfully for millenia. Until parents and their physicians learn, acknowledge and promote a healthy microbiome, the health of babies and the incidence of autism may be fated to continue in the wrong direction.



A Probiotic “Flu Shot”?


Every fall, the flu shot PR machine revs up again, advising everyone to get a shot to prevent the flu (or influenza, the word with flu in the middle!). While the shots reduce the incidence of influenza, many people experience side effects or are concerned about the risk of other problems occurring as a result of this vaccine. One of the recurrent concerns is Guillaume-Barre syndrome, a paralyzing neurologic disorder. Researchers are divided on the connection, in part because it is challenging to do a study with a large enough sample size to extrapolate to the millions who get flu shots every year. The association is significant enough that the CDC warns people that have suffered Guillaume-Barre after a flu shot not to get any more flu shots. One group of researchers recently published a study that evaluated a common probiotic organism for its protective value against the flu. What they found was that Lactobacillus gasseri provided effective protection from an influenza virus. The symbiotic organism was able to confer this protection by triggering the genes expressing viral resistance in the host cells-in this case, in mice. This study shows that probiotic organisms can provide resistance against viral infection, and do so by activating gene sequences that interfere with viral replication in the host cell. While this study was performed on mice, it is still validation of The Symbiont Factor concept that symbionts exert control over host systems to provide an adaptive advantage in the face of environmental challenges such as infection! So make sure you take your probiotics today, ok?