Tag Archives: autoimmune disease

The Bleeding Edge and Parallels with Fluoroquinolone Toxicity

Have you seen the documentary The Bleeding Edge? It’s a wonderful film about the hazards of medical devices that I highly recommend. It’s currently (August 2018) available on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, please do. It is an eye-opening, thought-provoking, insightful, frightening film.

The Bleeding Edge features stories from people who have suffered adverse reactions to various medical devises and procedures. Victims of Essure, mesh implants, metal hip replacements, and robotic surgical procedures report the harm done to them by these devices and procedures in the film.

The Bleeding Edge is a stark and scary reminder that, unfortunately, too often doctors are not abiding by the Hippocratic Oath. “First, do no harm” has gone by the wayside as these products and procedures maim their victims. Compounding the tragedy of the harm caused by these devices or procedures is the fact that, in many cases, there are safer devices or procedures available that would have had the intended results that the patients (and presumably their physicians) sought. Tying a woman’s tubes is a safer method of permanent sterilization than Essure; ceramic hip replacements are safer than metal ones; physical therapy can strengthen the pelvic floor and relieve symptoms of incontinence as well as mesh can; and, a surgeon’s hand may be a safer tool than a robotic arm. However, these safer procedures were not performed on the victims featured, or on thousands of other people, because the entire medical system ignored their Hippocratic Oath. Doctors (or administrators or insurance companies) were swayed to use these newer less-safe methods by marketing, efficiency, money, or ignorance–and patients were hurt in the process. It’s not okay, and steps back toward the basis of medicine in the Hippocratic Oath are, sadly, necessary.

There are several parallels between the experiences of people hurt by fluoroquinolone antibiotics (i.e. “floxies”) and the people featured in The Bleeding Edge. The adverse reactions to Essure are particularly similar to adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones. Adverse reactions to Essure look, and seem to feel, an awful lot like autoimmune diseases. Likewise, fluoroquinolone toxicity looks and feels a lot like an autoimmune disease. Essure adverse reactions are often severe and they affect multiple bodily functions. The women who had adverse reactions to Essure often suffered from permanent disability, even after the metal springs were removed from their body. Likewise, even long after fluoroquinolones “should” be out of a person’s body, the effects remain. Unfortunately, both Essure and fluoroquinolone adverse reactions can be permanent.

Like those featured in The Bleeding Edge who suffered from the toxic effects of metal-on-metal hip implants, fluoroquinolone victims often experience psychiatric adverse reactions. Fluoroquinolones can induce many serious mental health symptoms, and the FDA recently added “disturbances in attention, disorientation, agitation, nervousness, memory impairment, and serious disturbances in mental abilities called delirium” as highlighted adverse reactions to fluoroquinolones. Fluoroquinolones can also induce psychosis. The patient featured in The Bleeding Edge that suffered from psychosis, tremors, and other serious mental adverse effects from a metal hip replacement, is an Orthopedic Surgeon himself, and he “said he would never have believed neurological problems could come from orthopedic devices, if it wasn’t for that experience, and now tests the cobalt levels of his patients if they complain of having Parkinson’s or dementia-like symptoms.” (source). The victims of metal hip replacements are often told that their symptoms are simply a result of getting older. Fluoroquinolones are given to people of all ages, but those who are over 30 are often told that their symptoms are from “getting old” not from the drugs.

None of the adverse reactions featured in The Bleeding Edge are what one would intuitively expect an adverse reaction to look like. Who would think that a type of hip replacement could lead to psychosis? Who would think that a sterilization procedure could lead to a permanent autoimmune/neuroimmune disease? Similarly, who would think that a commonly prescribed class of antibiotics could cause multi-symptom, chronic, illness that has a lot in-common with these illnesses brought on by medical device adverse reactions? It’s absurd and unbelievable. It’s true though. Adverse reactions don’t look like they are “supposed” to look. They aren’t intuitive and they aren’t easy to identify.

Hopefully The Bleeding Edge will reform how patients and doctors alike view medical device safety. I hope that it also reforms how people think about adverse reactions generally, and that recognition of the connections between adverse drug and device reactions and multi-symptom, chronic, “mysterious” diseases starts to enter mainstream consciousness.

Watch The Bleeding Edge. It is a great film that has a message that needs to be heard.

Sorry, I don’t know how to squeeze this in gracefully, but several of the victims featured in the film had their intestines fall out of their bodies post-hysterectomy via robotic surgery. Is that not one of the most horrifying things imaginable–to have your intestines fall out of your body? Aaaaaaagh!!! Floxies can at least be thankful that our organs generally stay inside our bodies.

Fluoroquinolone Toxicity is a SYNDROME

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First, a caveat–I realize that allergic reactions can be serious, severe, and deadly. There is nothing minimal about anaphylaxis, and not all allergic reactions to pharmaceuticals are as simple as hives that go away as soon as one stops taking the drug. If someone has an acute allergic reaction to a pharmaceutical they deserve care and recognition of their reaction as serious.

With that said, I’m sick of pharmaceutical-induced SYNDROMES being ignored because they don’t fit into the standard allergy model. Drug toxicity SYNDROMES are just as serious, devastating, and severe as allergic reactions. In my case, fluoroquinolone toxicity SYNDROME was significantly more serious, devastating, and severe than my sulfa antibiotic allergy.

Fluoroquinolone toxicity SYNDROME looks and feels a lot like various autoimmune diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, M.S., etc.), mysterious diseases (fibromyalgia, ME/CFS, POTS), psychiatric illnesses (depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, etc.), and recognized drug toxicity syndromes (like benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome). These symptoms, and the connections between these serious diseases and fluoroquinolones, should be recognized.

Here’s a post I wrote for Hormones Matter about the various drugs that are causing SYNDROMES of multi-symptom, chronic illness. Please read and share it:

Allergic Reactions or Iatrogenic Illness?

Thanks!

 

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Fluoroquinolone Toxicity and Acetylcholine (ACh) Damage

I suspect that fluoroquinolone antibiotics deplete, inhibit, or otherwise adversely affect acetylcholine (ACh). ACh is a neurotransmitter that has the following functions:

  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.

Fluoroquinolones damage connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, cartilage, fascia, etc.) throughout the body, as well as the nervous systems (central, peripheral, and autonomic). After getting “floxed” people often suffer from autonomic nervous system dysfunction (including dysautonomia, loss of digestive motility, problems sweating, balancing, etc.), central nervous system dysfunction (including psychosis, insomnia, changes in personality, etc.), and peripheral nervous system dysfunction (including peripheral neuropathy). Fluoroquinolone toxicity often resembles autoimmune diseases in its symptoms, and, like many people with autoimmune diseases, inflammation is often rampant in those who are floxed. Many “floxies” have reported hormonal problems, including thyroid hormone abnormalities, as well as undesirable levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone.

There is significant match-up between the list of documented effects of ACh depletion/damage (summaries of ACH effects can be found HERE and HERE) and the documented effects of fluoroquinolones (the warning labels go over most of the symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity, but the personal stories on this site, as well as the stories on www.fqwallofpain.com, facebook, and other places on the internet better exemplify the actual effects of these drugs).

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In addition to the obvious links and overlaps noted above, the links between fluoroquinolones/fluoroquinolone toxicity and ACh damage are more thoroughly explored in the post, “Acetylcholine (ACh) – Related Damage” on www.fluoroquinolonethyroid.com. In it, JMR describes the connections between fluoroquinolones (and fluoroquinolone toxicity) and acetylcholine:

“Still, there were many reasons I felt that many of my problems could be ACh related, and here are some of them.  As I’ve already stated, I felt that many of my symptoms and acute flox reaction could be described as “cholinergic/anti-cholinergic” in nature, and/or MG (myasthenia gravis) related.   Drug label warnings specifically state the Fluoroquinolones have neuromuscular blocking activity, so pharma is giving us a big clue here.  ACh modulates a host of physiological processes in the central and peripheral nervous systems.  Centrally, ACh regulates motor function, sensory perception, cognitive processing, arousal, sleep/wake cycles, and nociception, while in the periphery it controls heart rate, gastrointestinal tract motility, and smooth muscle activity.   Non-neuronal ACh and AChE are distributed throughout the body, making ACh transmission and metabolism important for all cells in the body, not simply neurogenic cells.  Additionally, Non-neuronal ACh and AChE are found in tendons, and increased expression of both occurs in pathological tendinosis, and is thought to contribute to tendon pathology. (Forsgren/Danielson lab studying role of non-neuronal ACh in chronic tendinosis and tendon pathology  – search “non-neuronal ACh Tendons”).  In relationship to the thyroid, cholinergic interaction with the thyoid gland is extensive, and common epitopes may exist relating thyroid autoimmunity and ACh/muscarinic receptor autoimmunity.  ACh appears to be necessary for iodine organification (so this might be one underlying mechanism of action to explore for Hashi’s).  MuSK form of MG (myasthenia gravis) may be a separate condition from MG and there is a known association between “MuSK MG” and Graves disease.  Magnesium prevents or controls convulsions by blocking neuromuscular transmission and decreasing the release of acetylcholine at the nicotinic ACh motor nerve terminals (the analgesic properties of Mg are due to NMDA receptor blocking action). In (my) Year 5 post, as my symptoms progressed, it became apparent that Magnesium was actually exacerbating my muscle weakness, presumably by blocking neuromuscular transmission, and magnesium is something that is known to exacerbate MG symptoms (so for any flox victims for whom magnesium makes your symptoms worse, especially muscle weakness, this is something to consider).   ACh is an underlying common denominator anytime we eat; distention in the stomach or innervation by the vagus nerve activates the Enteric Nervous System, in turn leading to the release of ACh.  Once present, ACh activates G cells (produces gastrin) and parietal cells necessary for digestion.   From an FQ-Induced collagen/connective tissue damage point of view, appropriate collagen formation is also very necessary for AChE function and ACh transmission, and lack of it can result in Myasthenia Gravis like symptoms, as these COL Q studies confirm: 1, 2, 3, 4,  (and suppression of collagen prolylhydroxylation as in this FQ study here can affect COL Q; also scroll to “collagenous domains as substrates”, AChE, in this “Prolyl 4-hydroxylase” paper here).    Because of the necessary symbiotic relationship of mitochondria with their host cells (as I described here), anything that affects the host cell will often affect mitochondria as well, and this most certainly will include ACh-related problems.   However, never to be left out of an opportunity for direct damage, it turns out mitochondria also express a number of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors too (1,2).  I won’t be surprised if muscarinic receptors will also be found in mitochondria some day as well.”

I highly recommend reading the entire post to understand the arguments as to why and how fluoroquinolones may be connected to ACh disorders.

Can fluoroquinolones trigger anti-ACh antibodies? Can fluoroquinolones trigger a form of myasthenia gravis? How are autoimmune diseases connected to ACh depletion? We know that inflammation is a feature of autoimmune diseases, and that ACh modulates inflammation. We also know that lack of vagal nerve tone is related to both inflammation and autoimmune diseases, and that ACh is produced by a healthy and toned vagal nerve. We know that many of the symptoms of fluoroquinolone toxicity resemble symptoms of various autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s Syndrome, Lupus, M.S., etc. How are autoimmune diseases, vagal nerve tone, ACh production and/or depletion, and fluoroquinolones related?

I’m not sure of the answers to those questions (I’m not sure that anyone knows the correct answers to them), but I do think that both vagal nerve tone and ACh production and/or depletion is related to fluoroquinolone toxicity (more on that assertion can be found in this post – https://floxiehope.com/2015/06/13/hacking-fluoroquinolone-toxicity-via-the-nervous-system/).

How can floxies increase their ACh? One way to increase ACh is to eat foods that are rich in choline, a precursor to acetylcholine. Choline-rich foods include:

  • Eggs
  • Chicken
  • Fish
  • Liver
  • Nuts

Some herbs and supplements that can increase ACh are listed HERE and HERE. Interestingly, caffeine, which many floxies respond negatively to, is on the list of things that increase ACh, and the supplements noted that decrease ACh have reportedly helped some floxies. As with everything, caution is warranted, and it’s best to consult with a trusted medical professional before starting any supplement protocol.

Exercises and practices that stimulate the vagus nerve can also stimulate the production and movement of ACh. Some things that stimulate the vagus nerve include:

  • Meditation
  • Breathing deeply and slowly
  • Singing
  • Playing a wind instrument
  • Submerging your face in cold water
  • Gargling
  • Chanting “OM”
  • Laughter
  • Exercise
  • Massage
  • Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • Positive social interactions

More information about the benefits of stimulating the vagus nerve can be found HERE and HERE.

Many of the vagal nerve stimulating exercises and practices listed above helped me in my recovery from fluoroquinolone toxicity. Meditation and mindfulness were key elements to my recovery. Acupuncture, massage, breathing exercises, and support from loved ones (positive social interaction), were key as well. Even though none of these exercises are “quick fixes” or “big guns,” they are healing practices, and the ACh and vagus nerve connection may be how they help to repair the body and mind.

I hope that some research is done into the connections between fluoroquinolones/fluoroquinolone toxicity and ACh. It’s reasonable to think that there are connections–they just need to be proven.

Until then…. meditate, breathe, laugh, and eat liver. They really do help.

 

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Fluoroquinolones and Autoimmune Diseases – Unwanted Connections

I’m struggling to get through The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat all Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles (if you purchase the book through the Amazon links in this post, a portion of the proceeds will go to the QVF). It’s an excellent book that I highly recommend, and I will undoubtedly be writing posts about it in the near future with multiple reasons why you should purchase and read it yourself.

But I’m struggling to read it because it scares me.

The Wahls Protocol frightens me because of how similar multiple sclerosis (MS) is to fluoroquinolone toxicity.  Dr. Wahls goes over how mitochondrial damage is linked to autoimmune diseases, especially MS.  Fluoroquinolones profoundly damage mitochondria.  Fluoroquinolone toxicity looks and feels a whole lot like multiple autoimmune diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and MS.  Some people have proposed that fluoroquinolone toxicity is its own autoimmune disease, just the auto-antibodies have not yet been identified and thus it is not treated as an independent autoimmune disease.  In some people, fluoroquinolones have triggered a recognized autoimmune disease, as you can read about in Michelle’s Story of fluoroquinolone induced lupus, and I have another friend with fluoroquinolone induced MS.

There is nothing more frightening to me than an autoimmune disease.  Having my body attack itself sounds absolutely horrible.  I hate the thought.  I turn off, get nauseous, and resist every time I hear the suggestion that fluoroquinolone toxicity is an autoimmune disease.

MS causes brain lesions, weakness and paralysis, and typically requires drug treatments that are almost as horrible as the disease itself.  MS is terrifying.  I HATE the thought that fluoroquinolone toxicity might be unrecognized MS with different antibodies.

I tell myself, “I don’t have MS, I got poisoned.  I know my poison – Cipro.  It kicked me but I got back up.  My body isn’t attacking itself for no reason.  I got poisoned.”  It makes me feel a little bit better.

But there’s a big part of me that believes that the root of all autoimmune diseases is cellular (especially mitochondrial) poisoning.  I suspect that everyone with MS got poisoned by mitochondria damaging chemicals, their poisoning was just less sudden and obvious than mine was.  (Read “Digging Deeper Into Mitochondrial Dysfunction” for more information on this line of thinking.  Also note that mitochondria are damaged by multiple pharmaceutical and environmental toxins, that damage to mitochondria is cumulative, and that a tolerance threshold for mitochondrial damage must be crossed before a disease state sets in.)

Even though The Wahls Protocol is a hopeful book, with lots of lifestyle change suggestions that have reversed the course of autoimmune diseases in many people, and the diet and suggestions that Dr. Wahls makes will almost certainly help floxies (including me), I’m still struggling with it.  It’s really difficult for me to face the notion that my reaction to Cipro may have been an autoimmune reaction.  I don’t like that thought at all.

I realize that it may seem otherwise, but I really don’t like being able to connect fluoroquinolone toxicity to autoimmune or neurodegenerative diseases.  Unfortunately, mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress are hallmarks of both.

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As I read The Wahls Protocol, I wonder if I got hit with fluoroquinolone toxicity because I have a genetic predisposition toward malfunctioning cells.  Maybe my cells don’t detoxify xenobiotics as well as the cells of other people.  Perhaps the mechanisms that protect my mitochondria aren’t as robust as they need to be to survive in this environment, and my cells are likely to react in a way that involves making me sick when I am exposed to pharmaceutical and environmental poisons in the future.

I hate that thought.  It makes me feel weak and as if there is something wrong with me.

I tell people all the time, “You’re sick, you’re not broken, and you’ll get better.”  I mean it.  I believe it’s true.

I got better.  I recovered from fluoroquinolone toxicity.  But I wonder if my cells are a bit broken, or at least breakable.

I don’t like acknowledging my weaknesses any more than anyone else.  I hate it.

But in acknowledging that I am susceptible to getting poisoned, maybe I can gain power.  Maybe that knowledge can save me hardship and suffering down the road.  Maybe that knowledge can help me to avoid mitochondrial poisons in the future.

Guidelines and methods for how to both avoid future damage and how to put my cells back together are available in The Wahls Protocol. If I can calm my nerves enough to get through it, I’m sure I’ll gain a lot from the book.

Renee recovered from fluoroquinolone toxicity through using the methods described in The Wahls Protocol.  Dr. Wahls’ TED talk (below) about her journey through MS and recovery is both beautiful and inspirational.  There is a road to recovery from autoimmune diseases.  Maybe I shouldn’t feel so scared of them.

 

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Dr. Robert Rountree’s Presentation about Mitochondria

I highly recommend that you watch this –

http://www.viddler.com/v/703896d9?secret=27514482

It’s a video of Dr. Robert Rountree giving a presentation about mitochondria. It’s fascinating!

Fluoroquinolones damage mitochondria. Here are my posts about fluoroquinolones damaging mitochondria –

There are more interesting posts about mitochondria on Hormones Matter, and probably some other sites too.

I try to make this complex information a bit more comprehensible than it is in journal article format, but if you want to read through some source articles on how fluoroquinolones damage mitochondria, here are some good ones:

Also, at roughly minute 26 of Dr. Rountree’s presentation, he mentions the link between cardiolipin damage and autoimmune diseases. Here is an article about how fluoroquinolones affect cardiolipin –

Journal of Medical Microbiology, “Comparison of the Effects of Subinhibitory Concentrations of Ciprofloxacin and Colistin on the Morphology of Cardiolipin Domains in Escherichia Coli Membranes

Dr. Rountree is brilliant and I don’t mean to be critical, but I think that some of the graphs toward the end of the presentation need to be re-drawn. From what I understand from reading the above articles, and others on mitochondria, the effects of ROS (reactive oxygen species – also known as oxidative stress), are not linear. When mitochondria experience a healthy amount of stress – through exercise, for example – there is an adaptive response. It is actually likely that the initial response of mitochondria to fluoroquinolones is an adaptive and healthy one – that could explain some of the experimental results that show a healthy or adaptive response of cells to fluoroquinolones. It is only after the threshold for damage is crossed that a maladaptive/unhealthy response begins. And once that maladaptive/unhealthy response begins, well, it’s bad news because the cell perpetuates damage on itself in the “vicious cycle” of mitochondrial damage. This article explains the phenomenon of a threshold for mitochondrial damage well –

Molecular Interventions, “Mechanisms of Pathogenesis in Drug Hepatoxicity Putting the Stress on Mitochondria

Can the cycle of cellular damage be stopped? I think so. If feeling good is an indicator of health, I know so. As always, I hope the same for all of you!

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What Getting Poisoned Looks Like

People think that getting poisoned looks like this:

But in the real world, it looks like this:

People whose cells are being destroyed from the inside out, often look fine.  Looks can be deceiving.

Everyone with an invisible or mysterious illness should ask the question – Were you poisoned?

Something that everyone who suspects that they may have been poisoned should note is that much of the damage, the poisoning, is indirect.  Pharmaceuticals (fluoroquinolones included) and environmental toxins damage mitochondria and, after reaching their tolerance threshold for damage, the mitochondria respond by producing poisonous reactive oxygen species (also known as oxidative stress).  Those reactive oxygen species (peroxynitrite is a particularly toxic one) that result from mitochondrial damage cause multi-symptom chronic illnesses.  It should be noted by people with chronic fatigue / M.E., that mitochondria are the energy centers of our cells and that damage to them can result in debilitating fatigue.  It should be noted by people with fibromyalgia that mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress have been shown to damage nerves and cause body-wide pain.  Autoimmune diseases have also been linked to poisoning, and also to mitochondrial damage.

Mitochondrial damage is tricky in that the tests to show it are woefully new and under-utilized.  Muscle biopsies can show mitochondrial damage, but they’re invasive and not very reliable.  Lactate doublets are a sign of mitochondrial damage, but the research behind them is new and utilization of MRIs to test for lactate doublets are rarely used.

The fact that the tests don’t show anything means that the tests are inadequate (and that they don’t show mitochondrial damage / oxidative stress), not that the problem is “in your head” or that it’s not chemical, or that you haven’t been poisoned.

People who are poisoned are in pain, they are fatigued, they can’t think straight, they are unable to function at the level that they used to.  That should sound familiar to everyone with fibromyalgia, CFS/ME and even autoimmune diseases.  Were you poisoned?  When?  By what?  And by whom?

If doctors looked at the mitochondria, they would see the destruction of the poison.  But they don’t look at mitochondria.  As long as they don’t look at mitochondria, they can tell themselves that their drugs are safe; that they’re not poison.  Ignorance is bliss for the entire medical profession and the FDA.  Too bad their ignorant bliss isn’t reality.

Look around you.  The chronically ill people around you are telling you something.  This is what the poisoning of America looks like.

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Peer Reviewed Sources:

Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, “Medication Induced Mitochondrial Damage and Disease

Toxicological Sciences, “Mitochondria as a Target of Environmental Toxicants

Molecular Interventions, “Mechanisms of Pathogenesis in Drug Hepatoxicity Putting the Stress on Mitochondria

Biochemical Society Transactions, “Mitochondrial Matirix Reactive Oxygen Species Production is Very Sensitive to Mild Uncoupling

Science Translational Medicine, “Bactericidal Antibiotics Induce Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Oxidative Damage in Mammalian Cells

Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine, “Mitochondrial cytopathy in adults: What we know so far

Current Pharmaceutical Design, “Nitric Oxide-Derived Oxidants with a Focus on Peroxynitrite: Molecular Targets,Cellular Responses and Therapeutic Implications

Journal of Internal Medicine, “Chronic fatigue syndrome: assessment of increased oxidative stress and altered muscle excitability in response to incremental exercise

Biomed Central, “Central role of nitric oxide in the pathogenesis  of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus

JAMA Psychiatry, “Mitochondrial Dysfunction as a Neurobiological Subtype of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Expert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets, “The role of mitochondrial dysfunctions due to oxidative and nitrosative stress in the chronic pain or chronic fatigue syndromes and fibromyalgia patients: peripheral and central mechanisms as therapeutic targets?

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What’s Poisoning You?

The following post is a bit of a rant. It’s inflammatory and is likely to annoy or offend many of you. I apologize for the offense in advance.

Though, as you will see in the following post, I get annoyed when people look exclusively at diet when looking for causes of mysterious diseases, I don’t think that nutrition is unimportant. It is very important. Food is fuel for our bodies, and putting lousy fuel into our engines will lead us to feeling sick and looking sickly.

But fluoroquinolones, and other damaging pharmaceuticals, are like putting sand in the engine. They thoroughly mess up one’s body and mind – suddenly, severely and systemically. Yet the severe cellular damage done by fluoroquinolones is ignored by many physicians providing explanations to their patients as to why their body is going hay-wire. It annoys me to the point that I rant about it on the internet.

Blaming the Standard American Diet (SAD – very sad) for multi-symptom, chronic, mysterious diseases is far better than the alternative of telling people that their disease is all in their head. However, it’s not the full picture and it has problems as well (that I rant about below).

(Relevance of this below) – I totally think that Glenn Beck is floxed. Just sayin’.

What’s Poisoning You?

The American diet is difficult to defend. The typical American meal contains high-fructose corn syrup from genetically modified corn, sugar in amounts that are multiple times higher than those found in any fruit in nature, partially hydrogenated fats, MSG, preservative chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics, etc. Additionally, the typical American meal is devoid of vegetables, sprouted grains, fermented foods, fiber, minerals, vitamins, nutrients, etc. This combination has, undoubtedly, contributed to all sorts of chronic diseases – from obesity to cancer.

However, I think that, collectively, we are taking the “what you eat determines your health” paradigm too far.

Blaming a poor diet for a person’s illness reeks of victim-blaming. It says to the person who is ill, you wouldn’t be sick if you ate differently. You wouldn’t be sick if you ate more vegetables, or fewer desserts, or more or less carbohydrates, or more or less protein, or more or less fat. In telling a person who is sick that he or she wouldn’t be sick if he or she had eaten differently, you are telling that person that it is his or her fault that he or she is sick.

Is that fair? And, more importantly, is it true?

Health is determined by many factors, not just diet. Genetics, of course, also play a role in health. Exercise, stress, time in the sun, social connections, etc. also contribute to health – and disease. Exposure to toxins also has a huge effect on health. Toxins in our environment – from pollution and from them being intentionally added to our food and water – affect our health – and being poisoned by them, either slowly or suddenly, can cause illness. Pharmaceuticals are also an under-recognized source of toxins that adversely affects the health of many (though it takes a paradigm shift to realize how much harm prescription drugs do because we all think that drugs should be helping us, not hurting us).

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The blaming of diet for diseases has gotten to a point of ridiculousness. In an article published in The Atlantic entitled Living Sick and Dying Young in Rich America, the author asks a doctor if the autoimmune disease that her husband (who is in his 30s) suffers from is the result of growing up eating Spaghetti-O’s and drinking Pepsi. In a round-about way, blaming addiction to junk food, the doctor confirms that her husband’s diet is the culprit. Really??? Does that really seem reasonable to anyone – that Spaghetti-O’s and Pepsi could cause an autoimmune disease? Because I’m pretty sure that autoimmune diseases are caused by malfunctioning immune system cells, and that the doctor should look at things that have been confirmed to damage immune system cells as potential culprits, before blaming Spaghetti-O’s. And yes, there are plenty of environmental toxins and pharmaceuticals that have been shown to adversely affect immune system cells (lymphocytes).*

On March 20, 2014, former Fox News personality Glenn Beck announced that his doctors had determined that the cause of his neuropathy, inflammation and pain was his diet. His doctor told him, “‘Well, basically, you are being poisoned… Food is poisoning you.’” Glenn Beck looks like a pretty typical American so I’m sure that his diet is not perfect. But I’m also pretty sure that he’s eating FOOD, not poison, and that his doctor is simply wrong in telling him that the neuropathic pain that he is experiencing is due to his food poisoning him. Poison, not food, poisons people. Perhaps Mr. Beck should look at what pharmaceutical poisons he has taken in lately – especially fluoroquinolones – because fluoroquinolones can do enough cellular damage to cause neuropathic pain – but Taco Bell burritos can’t.

I’m sure that Mr. Beck will adjust his diet by cutting out the foods that are perceived to be poison, and I truly hope that helps him. Most people who are suffering from diseases that cannot be cured by modern medicine adjust their diet to try to heal themselves. Many people who are struggling with chronic illness stick to a “perfect” diet. For some, “perfect” means the Paleo Diet. For others, “perfect” means the Specific Carbohydrate Diet. Some stick to a raw food diet. Some juice. Some avoid gluten, or sugar, or dairy, or meat, or all of those things. Yet, even with a “perfect” diet, they are still sick. They have not been magically cured by adding or subtracting some food source. They are sick – chronically ill – and though adjustments to diet may be helpful, they are not a cure for many (maybe most) people.

An even bigger problem with blaming diseases on diet than the victim blaming and nonsense explanations, is that the real explanation for the disease is not sought. Chef Boyardee, Taco Bell and Pepsi become the scapegoats and the real culprit behind the disease is ignored. Something is really causing autoimmune diseases, neuropathic pain, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and all the other diseases that are striking young Americans. Blaming diet, and thus blaming the victim, may be convenient, but it is not the whole answer (or even part of the answer if you are feeling cynical). The real answers will remain elusive until we demand real, sensible answers to the question of what causes the chronic diseases of modernity.

Sure, a diet full of sugar, hydrogenated-fat and chemicals isn’t good for you, and it is surely contributing to many diseases, but does it really make sense to blame a poor diet on body-wide neuropathic pain, or on a person being so drained of energy that they feel like they have the flu and a bus hit them even after a full night’s sleep? It sure doesn’t make sense to me.

What does make sense to me is iatrogenic mitochondrial dysfunction. Many pharmaceuticals, including fluroquinolone antibiotics, statins, metformin (a diabetes drug), multiple chemotherapy drugs, and others, have been shown to damage mitochondria and lead to oxidative stress. Mitochondrial damage and oxidative stress can lead to multi-symptom chronic illnesses and neuropathic pain. (Source)

Perhaps diet isn’t solely to blame for many of the diseases of modernity. Perhaps pharmaceutical drugs – especially fluoroquinolones, and the medical system, share much of the responsibility for causing many of the chronic, mysterious diseases that plague people today.

It’s time for a paradigm shift. Moving away from victim blaming is a very good place to start.

* Here are some articles about how fluoroquinolones adversely effect lymphocytes (immune system cells) –

Nepal Medical College Journal, Genotoxic and cytotoxic effects of antibacterial drug, ciprofloxacin, on human lymphocytes in vitro”

Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, “Ciprofloxacin Induces an Immunomodulatory Stress Response in Human T Lymphocytes

 

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