Monthly Archives: February 2018

Floxed Doctors are Taking Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Patients

Most people don’t understand fluoroquinolone toxicity. They don’t understand the complexity or severity of chronic illness brought on by fluoroquinolone antibiotics. They don’t understand the pain. They don’t understand the timeline – that it takes a long time to heal from getting “floxed,” and that some people don’t heal at all. They don’t understand delayed reactions, or continuing decline. They don’t understand the mechanisms of fluoroquinolone toxicity. They don’t understand how a pharmaceutical, an antibiotic no less, can cause multi-symptom, chronic illness.

The only people who really, truly, completely understand, are the people who have been through it themselves.

That, more than anything else (in my opinion), is what makes these two medical practitioners (one D.O. functional medicine practitioner, and one pharmacist functional medicine practitioner) uniquely qualified to treat fluoroquinolone toxicity patients.

They have been floxed themselves. They know what it’s like. They understand the pain, the fear, the complexity, the lack of resources available, the horror of a bomb going off in their body, etc. They know what it’s like to go from healthy and active, to being in a wheelchair because of a disabling reaction to Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox, or Floxin. They understand because they have been there. They truly have empathy for victims of fluoroquinolones because they too are victims of these drugs.

The two featured medical practitioners have also healed. Their healing journeys are different, but their results are the same–recovery.

After they healed, they decided to so something to help the “floxie” community, and devoted their practices (or at least a portion of their practices) to helping people to overcome fluoroquinolone toxicity. I am hopeful that their services will help hundreds, if not thousands, of people to heal from fluoroquinolone toxicity.

The two medical practitioners that I’m referring to are Dr. Mark Ghalili, D.O. of Regenerative Medicine LA, and Sujata Patel of Journey with Sujata and Wellness With Sujata.

Here is some information about each of them.

Dr. Mark Ghalili, D.O. of Regenerative Medicine LA:

Most people in the fluoroquinolone toxicity community have seen the feature of Dr. Ghalili’s story on CBS Los Angeles:

 

On the Regenerative Medicine LA web site, Dr. Ghalili’s bio states:

Dr. Ghalili’s passion lies in teaching his patients about chronic disease, prevention, and finding the underlying reasons for an illness. At an early stage in his career, he noticed the future of medicine becoming a medication cure-all for all patient’s ailments. Dr. Ghalili realized that the traditional methods and ideologies used in Western Medicine that were taught to him failed to provide any insight into functional and regenerative medicine. He realized millions of American’s are suffering from chronic disease and need a whole body approach taken in order to heal. Dr. Ghalili has dedicated his life towards offering care to people living with medical conditions that are not being improved by traditional medicine; his own personal journey will allow him to positively impact patient’s lives.

I have spoken extensively with Dr. Ghalili, and I know that his ordeal with fluoroquinolone toxicity was harrowing and traumatic, and that he has made a remarkable recovery. Dr. Ghalili has agreed to write a recovery story to be published on Floxie Hope, and he will also be featured in a podcast episode (both to be published at a later date).

Sujata Patel of Journey with Sujata and Wellness With Sujata:

You can read about Sujata’s journey through fluoroquinolone toxicity on Sujata’s Story – Cipro Poisoning and Recovery. In her story, Sujata describes how active and healthy she was before she took Cipro, and how she ended up in a wheelchair after getting “floxed.” She describes how Western Medicine let her down, by both failing to have answers and failing to give her acknowledgement. She tells us what things she has done, and continues to do, to heal her body, mind, and spirit. It’s a wonderful story, and I encourage you to read it.

You can read more about Sujata, and her journey through fluoroquinolone toxicity, on Journey with Sujata. Here are some highlights:

My name is Sujata, and I am excited to share my story and journey through fluoroquinolone toxicity, fibromyalgia, hope, recovery, and ultimately reclaiming my life. My hope is that through my journey and the results of my research and development, I will be able to offer you that same hope so that you can reclaim a joyful, hopeful, vibrant and healthy life.

….

Given my age and my excellent health, I had no idea this could impact my life so drastically. I started noticing tendonitis in various areas of my body, which progressed to all of my tendons. Over the course of a week, it began impacting my nervous system, all of my muscles, my joints, and my cognitive (brain) function.

…..

This is when my quest for information began. I was determined to figure out what the root cause of this side effect was and how I could treat and reverse it. So many of the symptoms of fluoroquinolone and fibromyalgia overlap, and I started finding the congruencies between each. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. This was my inspiration to find anything and everything I could to reverse this life altering condition. I had to think outside of the box, using my pharmacy background, my knowledge of biochemistry and medicinal chemistry, and really thinking about what was happening at a cellular level. It was not as simple as searching “cure for fibromyalgia” or “reverse fluoroquinolone toxicity” on the internet. I wanted to understand how to stop the progression of this illness, rid the toxins that contribute to the progression of the illness, and how to rebuild healthy cells to regain health and vitality.

….

I could have kept my findings to myself. But as I read through message boards and blogs of no hope and lives of devastation, it literally brought me to tears. I simply must share my findings, insights and products with anyone who could possibly benefit. It is my mission to educate and help as many people as I can who are suffering from fibromyalgia and fluoroquinolone toxicity. It is my mission to offer hope, clarity, and an avenue to recover and heal.

I have regained my mental clarity, my vitality and thirst of adventure in my life. I have come out of a two and a half year long depression, I have re-ignited the spark within me that makes me want to experience everything life has to offer, and I know that if I can do it, so can you. I want that for you. I want you to feel the hope, I want you to walk the steps of healing yourself, and I want you to live again. I want you to feel empowered within yourself and KNOW that you too, can live the life you are meant to and WANT to live! Journey with Sujata is here to support you, guide you, and walk with you as you journey to health.

I have corresponded with Sujata extensively, and, in addition to her story, she has written a guest-post for Floxie Hope (that, as of the publishing of this post, I have yet to publish–but will soon).

Both Dr. Ghalili and Sujata Patel practice medicine in ways that are outside of the norm. They are not typical medical practitioners who approach the world in a typical way. This is probably a good thing, seeing as most “floxies” have not been able to find help or answers from typical mainstream doctors (though some have – there are good and bad medical practitioners of all types). They are both Functional Medicine Practitioners, which, according to Dr. Mark Hyman, means that:

Functional medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. It is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century. By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease. In this way, functional medicine supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.

It should be acknowledged that consultations and treatments from both Dr. Ghalili and Sujata are more expensive than most traditional doctor visit co-pays. Medical providers who practice outside of the traditional system tend to be more expensive for consumers (in part because none of their business expenses are covered by insurance payments/reimbursements). The hefty price-tag that comes with their services does not make them greedy, and it does not mean that they are praying on people. I’m sure that they both have good reasons for the amounts that they charge, and, from what I’ve heard, their fees are in-line with those of other Functional Medicine Practitioners.

Both Dr. Ghalili and Sujata Patel saw that there was a need for medical practitioners who understood fluoroquinolone toxicity, and they did something about it–they became Functional Medicine Practitioners who specialize in fluoroquinolone toxicity. They are using their extensive medical training to help “floxies” and their help is appreciated!

Hopefully more medical practitioners will start recognizing, and even treating, fluoroquinolone toxicity. I don’t hope for anyone to get “floxed,” and I hope that the desire of other medical practitioners to help people heal from fluoroquinolone toxicity stems from our collective advocacy efforts, rather than the horrifying experience of going through fluoroquinolone toxicity themselves. But, with that noted, medical practitioners who have personally been through fluoroquinolone toxicity can empathize with “floxed” patients, and they have a perspective that is unique and valuable. I appreciate both Dr. Mark Ghalili and Sujata Patel, and I hope that both of their practices are successful and that they help many people to recover from fluoroquinolone toxicity.

End note – I am not affiliated with either Dr. Mark Ghalili/Regenerative Medicine LA, or Sujata Patel/Wellness with Sujata/Journey with Sujata in any way. I’m not receiving any money from either of them. I have corresponded with both of them, but neither I (Lisa Bloomquist Palmer) nor Floxie Hope, are monetarily involved with either of them in any way.

 

 

 

Persistent Fluoroquinolones in the Body and Delayed Adverse Reactions

This is a guest post written by Gary. You can read Gary’s story HERE. It contains a wonderful wealth of knowledge, insight, and advice. 

Fluoroquinolone side effects are often multisymptom affecting a wide range of bodily functions, ie: CNS, Muscles, Tendons, Brain, etc (Halkin, 1988l Mattappalil and Mergenhagen, 2014; Menzies et al., 1999; Moorthy et al., 2008; Thomas and Reagan, 1996; etc)

The chronic, often multisymptom, effects are not well documented and are normally assigned (often multiple) different diagnosis by doctors, such as clinical depression, fibromyalgia, etc/ (Strauchman and Morningstar, 2012)

I argue the reason for the chronic effects is because the Fluoroquinolones are not metabolized correctly, or the are metabolized and the normal biological enzymes that are responsible for detoxification of xenobiotic substrates is impared. A xenobiotic is a synthetic chemical such as Levaquin, Cipro, pestacides, etc. It’s also likely that FQ exposure changes gene expressions relating to various cytochrome P-450s (which is responsible for metabolizing and detoxification) causing your body to accumulate toxic chemicals, being unable to remove them.

For example, According to Liang et al., (2015), Fish that were exposed to a specific FQ had changes to cytochrome P450 1A (CYP1A), cytochrome P-450 3A (CYP3A), glutathione S-transferase (GST), P-glycoprotein (P-gp), which are all responsible for metabolizing and/or removal of xenobiotics. Other animals exposed to FQs were shown to have changes in cytochrome P-450 sites – For example, Dogs exposed to FQs showed inhibiting only cytochrome P-450 3A (Regmi et al., 2005; 2007), Chickens (Shlosberg et al., 1997; Granfors et al., 2004). To be fair, this might not affect humans completely, but this would likely explain the delayed toxicity to the CNS and other parts of the body – Delayed toxicity for FQ patients are likely a result of impared detoxification pathways due to FQ exposure overall which means the body has a high level of xenobiotics that cannot be removed.

There are even a few case studies on /people/ to support this article. In a paper (Strauchman and Morningstar, 2012), a patient was prescribed Moxifloxacin in 2005 and developed a worsening set of symptoms (after inclusion of medication), such as episodic tachycardia, episodic dizziness, episodic shortness of breath, and chronically swollen glands. Additional symptoms included daily episodes of nausea, sweating, tremors, brain fog, blurred vision, panic attacks, and phonophobia. Over the course of 3 years, after Moxifloxacin treatment, her condition improved, modestly.

In 2011, the PCP diagnosed the patient with diverticulitis and prescribed her ciprofloxacin 500 mg – Over the course of the treatment, she started to experience all the previous symptoms from 2005 – including panic attacks, insomnia, blurred vision, tachycardia, and nausea. This episode additionally included diffuse musculoskeletal joint pain. The patient also reported that her elbows, wrists, and knees seemed to crack too easily and too often. (p.3). Full workup was ordered, including genetic testing which showed the following:

– Genetic polymorphism in the cytochrome P-450 pathway

– Genetic variations in the catechol-o-methyl transferase enzyme, the Nacetyl transferase enzyme, and the glutathione-s-transferase enzyme necessary for glutathione conjugation and phase II detoxification.

The patient was also tested for polychlorinated biphenyls and other volatile solvents. They found the patient to have elevated levels of ethylbenzene, xylene, and the pesticide dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene. Although these levels could indicate environmental accumulation, impaired detoxification pathways may make this accumulation more of a contributing factor.

Fluoroquinolone treatment seems to affect enzymes possesses, causing reduced activity due to chelation of ions, such as Se2 [Selenium], Mg2 [Magnesium], Fe2/3+ [Iron] (Badal et al., 2015; Uivarosi, 2013; Seedher and Agarwal, 2010) which explains the chronic issues, as well as delayed toxicity (due in part to impaired detoxification)

Even more evidence that either FQs remain in the body, impairing detoxification of xenobiotics (or they contribute to impairment) is from a journal (Cohen, 2008) where a patient was on a 14 day course of Moxifloxacin and became disabled, for many years; His symptoms were Brain Fog, Cognitive Defects/memory loss, tingling and numbness in his legs, joint pains, Achilles pain, Chronic Fatigue, Weakness, to a degree that he could barely stand or walk; The patient began IV Based Antioxidant therapy, and his condition improved considerably (95%+ recovery within a month). It’s highly likely that the IV Antioxidant therapy activated/modulated cytochrome P-450 to allow the patients body to excrete the excessive, normal environmental xenobiotics (and including Moxifloxican) and the patient recovered.

Fluoroquinolones have a very high melting point, over 200C, which means the crystals they form are very stable in neutral pH. (Andriole et al., 2000). If FQs are stuck within the cells, then that means they are responsible with mitochondrial ETC leakage, causing depressed health effects (ie: Brain Fog from FQ exposure is likely caused by FQs interfering with ATP energy output, which affects the Brain’s homeostasis).

What causes the delayed toxicity? There are only 3 possible explanations.

– You have pre-existing genetic polymorphisms in cytochrome P450s (and others) that prevent you from metabolizing and/or excreting FQs – Which leads to various normal systems in the body to suffer for a long period of time. (FQ crystals are ‘stuck’ in your body)

– FQs /cause/ the polymorphisms because they chelate heavy metals that enzymes require for proper biological function, such as phase II detoxification. Once this happens, your body begins to accumulate xenobiotics and you develop delayed toxicity.

– FQs cause mitochrondia dysfunction with organs responsible for generting glutathione, causing your body to have extremely low levels of glutathione, leading to increased amounts of xenobiotics that you cannot remove.

If this behavior takes place, how do we prove it?

– Genetic testing is the only way to be sure you have these Genetic polymorphisms/Genetic Variations – Some sites out there do provide this.

– Liquid Chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry will need to be performed on blood samples from people currently damaged by FQs to see if any concentrations of it exist in plasma.

– Total GSH testing would likely show lower-than-expected glutathione levels in the body with someone that is disabled, because if FQs are embedded in the cells, they are likly decreasing ATP output of various organs.

How would we remove the FQs that are ‘stuck’ in the body?

– Ozone is able to remove FQs from water (Feng et al., 2016). Therefor, Ozone therapy might be an idea If this behavior of FQs takes place.

– Fluoroquinolones have a Michael acceptor in them, making them very electrophilic. The non-aromatic double bond could potentially be subject to nucleophilic attack via a Michael addition, so one removal strategy could be allowing ligating the fluoroquinolone/associated polymorphs to something that is readily transported across cell membranes and excreted. However, this would need to be drawn up on a computer simulation to see if this could be done, cost effectively.

– Prolonged IV Antioxidant therapy, as shown above, seems to reverse FQ toxicity in some patients but further testing will need to be done (A heavy metal toxscreen via blood to be tested for chemical insult will likely need to be ordered)

Pharmacogenomics is going to likely show who is compatible with FQs and who isn’t, down the road–once we identify specific SNP’s that are broken with us floxies, the /good/ news is, with CRISPR technology, those of us with pre-existing polymorphisms (pre/post-FQ) will likely be able to have them corrected with little to no side effects.

Data from the following:

Strauchman M, Morningstar MW. Fluoroquinolone toxicity symptoms in a patient presenting with low back pain. Clinics and Practice. 2012;2(4):e87. doi:10.4081/cp.2012.e87.

N. L. Regmi, A. M. Abd El-Aty, R. Kubota, S. S. Shah, and M. Shimoda, “Lack of inhibitory effects of several fluoroquinolones on cytochrome P-450 3A activities at clinical dosage in dogs,” Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, vol. 30, no. 1, pp. 37–42, 2007.  ·  ·

N. L. Regmi, A. M. Abd El-Aty, M. Kuroha, M. Nakamura, and M. Shimoda, “Inhibitory effect of several fluoroquinolones on hepatic microsomal cytochrome P-450 1A activities in dogs,” Journal of Veterinary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, vol. 28, no. 6, pp. 553–557, 2005.  ·  ·

M. D. Brand, R. L. Goncalves, A. L. Orr et al., “Suppressors of superoxide-H2O2 production at site IQ of mitochondrial complex I protect against stem cell hyperplasia and ischemia-reperfusion injury,” Cell Metabolism, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 582–592, 2016.  ·  ·

M. A. Simonin, P. Gegout-Pottie, A. Minn, P. Gillet, P. Netter, and B. Terlain, “Pefloxacin-induced Achilles tendon toxicity in rodents: biochemical changes in proteoglycan synthesis and oxidative damage to collagen,” Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 867–872, 2000.  ·  ·

Krzysztof Michalak, Aleksandra Sobolewska-Włodarczyk, Marcin Włodarczyk, Justyna Sobolewska, Piotr Woźniak, and Bogusław Sobolewski, “Treatment of the Fluoroquinolone-Associated Disability: The Pathobiochemical Implications,” Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2017, Article ID 8023935, 15 pages, 2017. doi:10.1155/2017/8023935

J. M. Radandt, C. R. Marchbanks, and M. N. Dudley, “Interactions of fluoroquinolones with other drugs: mechanisms, variability, clinical significance, and management,” Clinical Infectious Diseases, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 272–284, 1992.

H. H. M. Ma, F. C. K. Chiu, and R. C. Li, “Mechanistic investigation of the reduction in antimicrobial activity of ciprofloxacin by metal cations,” Pharmaceutical Research, vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 366–370, 1997.

N. Seedher and P. Agarwal, “Effect of metal ions on some pharmacologically relevant interactions involving fluoroquinolone antibiotics,” Drug Metabolism and Drug Interactions, vol. 25, no. 1–4, pp. 17–24, 2010.

H. Koga, “High-performance liquid chromatography measurement of antimicrobial concentrations in polymorphonuclear leukocytes,” Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, vol. 31, no. 12, pp. 1904–1908, 1987.

A. Pascual, I. García, S. Ballesta, and E. J. Perea, “Uptake and intracellular activity of trovafloxacin in human phagocytes and tissue-cultured epithelial cells,” Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 274–277, 1997.

V. T. Andriole, The Quinolones – Third Edition, Acedemic Press, San Diego California, 2000.

S. Badal, Y. F. Her, and L. J. Maher 3rd, “Nonantibiotic effects of fluoroquinolones in mammalian cells,” The Journal of Biological Chemistry, vol. 290, no. 36, pp. 22287–22297, 2015.

J. Y. Lee, S. H. Lee, J. W. Chang, J. J. Song, H. H. Jung, and G. J. Im, “Protective effect of metformin on gentamicin-induced vestibulotoxicity in rat primary cell culture,” Clinical and Experimental Otorhinolaryngology, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 286–294, 2014.  ·  ·

Z. K. Salman, R. Refaat, E. Selima, A. El Sarha, and M. A. Ismail, “The combined effect of metformin and L-cysteine on inflammation, oxidative stress and insulin resistance in streptozotocin-induced type 2 diabetes in rats,” European Journal of Pharmacology, vol. 714, no. 1–3, pp. 448–455, 2013.  ·  ·

A. I. Morales, D. Detaille, M. Prieto et al., “Metformin prevents experimental gentamicin-induced nephropathy by a mitochondria-dependent pathway,” Kidney International, vol. 77, no. 10, pp. 861–869, 2010.  ·  ·

W. Chowanadisai, K. A. Bauerly, E. Tchaparian, A. Wong, G. A. Cortopassi, and R. B. Rucker, “Pyrroloquinoline quinone stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis through cAMP response element-binding protein phosphorylation and increased PGC-1alpha expression,” The Journal of Biological Chemistry, vol. 285, no. 1, pp. 142–152, 2010.  ·  ·

T. Stites, D. Storms, K. Bauerly et al., “Pyrroloquinoline quinone modulates mitochondrial quantity and function in mice,” The Journal of Nutrition, vol. 136, no. 2, pp. 390–396, 2006.

Y. Huang, N. Chen, and D. Miao, “Biological effects of pyrroloquinoline quinone on liver damage in Bmi-1 knockout mice,” Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 451–458, 2015.  ·  ·

M. Feng, L. Yan, X. Zhang et al., “Fast removal of the antibiotic flumequine from aqueous solution by ozonation: influencing factors, reaction pathways, and toxicity evaluation,” Science of The Total Environment, vol. 541, pp. 167–175, 2016

**

The Vagus Nerve Guide: Reduce Inflammation and Chronic Illness Through Toning Your Vagus Nerve

I first became interested in the vagus nerve when I read this wonderful and fascinating article about the connections between the vagus nerve and chronic inflammation and autoimmune diseases:

Hacking the Nervous System, by Gaia Vince

The article notes that:

“Operating far below the level of our conscious minds, the vagus nerve is vital for keeping our bodies healthy. It is an essential part of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for calming organs after the stressed ‘fight-or-flight’ adrenaline response to danger. Not all vagus nerves are the same, however: some people have stronger vagus activity, which means their bodies can relax faster after a stress.”

The vagus nerve is a critical component of the autonomic nervous system, and it is also responsible for the release of acetylcholine (ACh), a neurotransmitter that:

  1. It is a neuromodulator of the central nervous system, the autonomic nervous system, and the peripheral nervous system.
    1. In the autonomic nervous system, ACh has key roles in both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and affects motility through the digestive tract, sweating, tear production, balance, heart-rate, breathing, etc.
    2. In the central nervous system, ACh plays a role in regulating arousal, attention, sleep, and motivation.
    3.  In the peripheral nervous system, ACh controls muscle activation (both skeletal muscles and smooth muscles–the muscles that involuntarily contract and release).
  2. It affects vascular tone.
  3. A lack of ACh is linked to Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, autism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other chronic CNS illnesses.
  4. It suppresses inflammation.
  5. It affects the release of hormones.

The vagus nerve is an essential part of our autonomic nervous system (the parasympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system), it regulates inflammation, and lack of vagal nerve tone/health is related to many chronic illnesses.

Hallmarks of fluoroquinolone toxicity are autonomic nervous system dysfunction, inflammation, and even ACh dysfunction.

I explored the connections between fluoroquinolone toxicity and the vagus nerve in these posts on floxiehope.com:

I don’t know whether or not vagus nerve damage is a root cause of fluoroquinolone toxicity, but I do believe that healing and toning the vagus nerve is helpful for all people suffering from chronic inflammation and disease–including floxies.

The connections between vagus nerve health/tone and fluoroquinolone toxicity, as well as my desire to figure out fluoroquiolone toxicity (an ongoing struggle), led me to study the vagus nerve, and explore ways to strengthen and tone it.

I put my findings/research into a book. It’s called The Vagus Nerve Guide: Reduce Inflammation and Chronic Illness Through Toning Your Vagus Nerve and it’s available via Amazon kindle. You can find it HERE.

I hope that you find it to be interesting and useful.

Thank you to each and every one of you who buys the book, and an especially large thank you to those who leave a review on Amazon. 🙂

Please also “like” the Vagus Nerve Guide on Facebook. The page can be found HERE.

The web site for the book is https://vagusnervehealing.com/.

Researching fluoroquinolone toxicity has led me in all sorts of unexpected and interesting directions. I never would have thought that I would be researching the vagus nerve, much less writing a book about it. Yet, here we are. I hope that the information in The Vagus Nerve Guide: Reduce Inflammation and Chronic Illness Through Toning Your Vagus Nerve is helpful to everyone who reads it.

Here is a sample from the book:

The vagus nerve is one of the longest nerves in the human body. It runs from the hypothalamus area of of the brain, down through the chest and diaphragm, and through the intestines. It wraps around the heart, gut, and most of the other organs in the body.

It is convenient to think of the vagus nerve as a highway between cities. One city, Brainopolis, has many thriving tech businesses. The other city, Gutland, is a manufacturing center. Though the two cities have very different climates and cultures, they are intertwined and dependent upon each other. Without the raw goods from Gutland, Brainopolis wouldn’t be able to create its high-tech products, and without the information and technology from Brainopolis, Gutland would be inefficient and slow. In order to transfer goods, products, and technologies from Brainopolis to Gutland, and from Gutland to Brainopolis, an efficient, well-maintained, highway between the two cities is needed. That highway is the Vagus Nerve Highway.

When the vagus nerve is toned, it is like a well-maintained super-highway with minimal traffic on it–information and nutrients travel from the brain to the gut, and from the gut to the brain, quickly and efficiently, so that both can be optimally maintained. A damaged vagus, that has lost tone, is like a pot-holed and jammed highway. The proper information and nutrients aren’t able to go from the brain to the gut, or from the gut to the brain, because the path between those two vital organs isn’t operating properly. Just like well-maintained highways (and other transportation systems) are necessary for a properly functioning economy, well-maintained nerves that connect organs and systems are necessary for a properly functioning body.

The Vagus Nerve Highway doesn’t just connect Brainopolis and Gutland though, it also connects Brainopolis to Kidneydale, Spleenland, Lungora, etc. For those who aren’t following the analogy, I’m trying to say that the vagus nerve not only connects the brain and the gut, it also connects the brain to most the other vital organs throughout the body. A well-functioning, and well-toned, vagus nerve is necessary for communication between your brain and many of your vital organs–including the gut. Without a clear and toned vagus nerve, organs cannot get what they need from the brain, and the brain cannot get what it needs from the organs. Metaphorical traffic jams ensue, and result in real health problems.

A malfunctioning vagus nerve is related to many of the chronic diseases of modernity, including autoimmune diseases, fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, POTS, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, digestive disorders like SIBO and IBS, autism, diabetes, heart-disease, and even obesity. When the vagus nerve is not toned, and information is not traveling smoothly between the brain and the organs, neither the brain nor the organs function optimally.

Most diseases (especially the chronic diseases of modernity) are related to inflammation. When you stub your toe and it immediately throbs and swells, that swelling is a helpful inflammatory response in which your body is sending nutrient-rich blood to the site of the injury. Though that inflammation is healthy, much of the inflammation that people currently experience isn’t healthy or helpful. A constant barrage of toxin exposures (pesticides, GMOs, pollution, pharmaceuticals, etc.), the Standard American Diet (SAD) that is full of processed ingredients and toxins, stress, heavy metal exposures, etc. lead to chronic inflammation, and that chronic inflammation can lead to cancer, autoimmune diseases, “mysterious” diseases like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and other psychiatric illnesses, diabetes, obesity, as well as ageing and age-related illnesses. A toned vagus nerve reduces inflammation by producing calming neurotransmitters like Acetylcholine (ACh), GABA, oxytocin, and other neurotransmitters that reduce inflammation.

On the Vagus Nerve Highway, when there is inflammation–the body’s version of a house fire–fire-trucks and other emergency responder vehicles are dependent on a clear and open path in order to reach their destination in time to eliminate the fire. The path that ACh, GABA, and other neurotransmitters that quell inflammation, must travel along is the vagus nerve. A toned vagus nerve will make that process more smooth and efficient, whereas a damaged vagus nerve will stop the signals from reaching their destinations, and will allow inflammation to wreak havok.

Having a vagus nerve that is toned, and a Vagus Nerve Highway that is operating optimally, is one of the best ways to suppress inflammation, reduce the symptoms of many chronic illnesses, and improve your health overall.

In this book, we will explore how to fix your Vagus Nerve Highway (I’ll move away from the highway analogy, and refer to it as “toning the vagus nerve” from here on out), and use exercises and practices that tone your vagus nerve to quell inflammation and improve overall health. The vagus nerve is too often neglected, but it is a vital part of being a physically, emotionally, and socially healthy person.