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STEALTH INFECTION IN CHRONIC DISEASE

stealth (definition)- cautious and surreptitious action or movement. synonyms: furtiveness, secrecy, surreptitiousness, sneakiness, slyness.

  Varro, in the first century B.C., had said that swampy land was dangerous because “certain minute animals, invisible to the eye, breed there, and borne of the air reach the inside of the body by way of the mouth and cause disease.”

Since the days of great early physician-scientists including Pasteur, Koch, Jenner, and Lister it has been accepted that human disease often results from the presence and activity of tiny living creatures that we know as germs.

When a microorganism or germ infects an individual often disease occurs quickly which is characterized by fever, swelling, pain, redness and symptoms including vomiting, cough, malaise, and fatigue.  This classic presentation of infection which is readily apparent is appropriately termed active infection or acute infection.

Medical discovery is now demonstrating that a wide array of symptoms and signs of disease are associated with infection of a different sort.  The concept that microorganisms are able to persist in the body and continue to produce illness over weeks, months, or even years is becoming more widely appreciated.

This concept is really nothing new at all.  Examples of persistent infection which continues to cause disease is readily accepted in diseases including syphilis, tuberculosis, AIDS, Lyme Disease, and chronic hepatitis just to name a few.  In addition, the reemergence of symptoms following prior infection is readily accepted in diseases including recurrent Herpes sores, shingles following chicken pox, rheumatic heart disease following Strep infection, pneumonia following Histoplasmosis fungus infection, and many others.  What is less commonly appreciated is the relationship of many other cases of long-lasting illness associated with a wide and diverse group of microorganisms capable of causing stealth infection.

Today many patients with persistent, unexplained symptoms of disease are very likely to be manifesting illness resulting from persistent stealth infection.

A list of symptoms that are associated with stealth infection include fevers, sweats, chills, flushing, weight gain, weight loss, fatigue, tiredness, exhaustion after limited exertion, unexplained hair loss, swollen glands, sore throat, pelvic pain, unexplained menstrual irregularity, breast pain, irritable bladder, sexual dysfunction, loss of libido, upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal bloating, chest pain, rib soreness, shortness of breath, cough, heart palpitations, rapid heart beat, joint pain, joint swelling, joint stiffness, neck pain, neck stiffness, back pain, back stiffness, muscle pains, muscle cramps, twitching muscles, twitching face, headaches, numbness, tingling, burning sensations, stabbing sensations, tremors, seizures, facial paralysis, blurred vision, double vision, dark vision, ringing of ears, light headedness, poor balance, difficulty walking, muscle weakness, ear ringing, vertigo, hearing loss, motion sickness, ear pain, difficulty concentrating, confusion, disorientation, getting lost, poor memory, trouble talking, trouble writing, mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, disturbed sleep, excess sleepiness, and headaches.  Some of these symptoms may be seen in diseases not resulting from stealth infection.  Different combinations of these symptoms are seen in different cases of stealth infection.

Medical science is discovering an emerging connection between stealth infection and many well-known diseases that have not commonly been associated with an infectious cause in the past.  Some examples of diseases possibly caused by stealth infection include Alzheimers, autism, arthritis, epilepsy, diabetes, obesity, heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, hepatitis, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative colitis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic depression, Schizophrenia, eczema, psoriasis, asthma, cardiomyopathy, infertility, interstitial cystitis, endometriosis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Lupus, Sarcoidosis, Parkinson’s disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease), adrenal disease, immunodeficiency syndromes, chronic inhalant allergy, chronic food allergy, autoimmune syndromes, and many others.

In this serious of articles I will explore the answers to a number of questions regarding stealth infection in an effort to better familiarize the reader with this group of diseases and how to more effectively diagnose, prevent, and treat these ever-present sources of human misery.

Why have stealth infections not been appreciated and previously recognized?

Probably the main reason that stealth infection has not been more widely appreciated is due to the fact that the microorganisms that cause stealth infection have been very difficult to recover and grow in the laboratory.  In fact the presence of certain germs causing stealth infections have been difficult to find and identify at all.  Although some scientists use the term “germ” to refer only to a bacterial organism, in this series of articles I am using the term to also include viruses, molds, fungi, yeasts, rickettsia, and single cell parasites.  In the last several decades the ability to find, isolate, and identify these microorganisms has rapidly advanced.  There is still a lot of work yet to do in this area.  Diagnosis of stealth infection continues to be plagued by issues of cost and unreliability but improvements are occurring rapidly.

Why doesn’t everyone manifest symptoms of stealth infection?

We now know that each one of us has a different susceptibility to manifest disease.  This means that two different individuals infected with the same stealth infection-causing germ can manifest completely different symptoms.  In fact one person may be very ill while another may have no symptoms at all. This difference in susceptibility is due to many factors.  One of the most important factors is our genetic makeup.  Another factor is the presence of environmental toxins that affect our susceptibility to disease.  Yet another factor is our diet and our levels of various critical nutrients that regulate all our cellular functions including our immune system and our ability to remove harmful toxins from our bodies.  Our stress levels alter our susceptibility to manifest disease due to stealth infection. The presence of combinations of different stealth organisms can lead to different manifestations of disease.

In Part 2 I will explore the ways in which stealth infections injure our cells and tissues resulting in the symptoms of disease.  I will discuss the role of our immune system in controlling these microorganisms and why we have difficulty in getting rid of them.  I will also discuss how our immune system accounts for much of the damage caused by the presence of stealth infection.

METHYLATION AND MTHFR-WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

There has been a lot said about methylation in healthcare blogs in the past few years-and for good reason.  Methylation is arguably the most important metabolic process in our human body.  For many of us, it is not going as it should.  Let me explain.

Many of our most important molecules will not behave normally if they lack the addition of a methyl group.

A methyl group is a portion of a molecule made of of four atoms-one carbon atom and 3 hydrogen atoms abbreviated -CH3.

We have over 100 different enzymes in our body dedicated to moving a methyl group to where it is needed.  These enzymes are known as Methyl Tranferase enzymes.  Methyl groups are necessary to signal when a DNA gene will be expressed (turned on) or not expressed (turned off).  A methyl group is required to make some of the most important molecules in our bodies like serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine, serine, methionine, choline, creatine, and melatonin.  Our body uses methyl groups in the process of removing undesirable substances like histamine and other toxins.

Healthy-FamilyBalanced methylation is critical for normal brain function and mood (neurotransmitter balance), removal of toxic chemicals (detox), normal immune function, normal hormone balance, normal cell division, and normal energy metabolism.  In short just about all of our critical body functions depend on normal and balanced methylation occuring each and every second of our lives.  Disorder of methylation plays a role in many chronic disease states including autism, autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, hormone imbalance and deficiency, anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraine, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, immune deficiency, allergy, infertility, and weight gain just to name a few.         In fact methylation is so important that a website  http://www.mthfr.net    is dedicated to a more thorough understanding of this important process and the disorders associated with it.

 

S-Adenosyl Methionine (also known as SAM-e) provides the methyl groups needed for these methyl transfer steps.  In fact SAM-e is the second most commonly used chemical substance in our bodies after Adenosine TriPhosphate (ATP) which is number one.  Our body must constantly regenerate SAM-e in a cycle known as the Methionine Cycle.

The cycle to regenerate SAM-e which is needed for billions of reactions in our cells every second requires the cofactors vitamin B12 and Folate to proceed normally.  The cycle needs a special form of B12 and a special form of Folate if it is to occur normally.

The form of Vitamin B12 which the body uses to regenerate SAM-e is called MethylCobalamine (sometimes called MethylB12 for short).  Other forms of B12 must first be converted to MethylCobalamine before methylation can proceed.

The form of Folate needed by the body to regenerate SAM-e is called by several different names but a common name is                                                 L-5-MethylTetraHydroFolate (often abbreviate MTHF for short).  This active form of Folate is formed by an enzyme known as MethyleneTetraHydroFolate Reductase (often abbreviated MTHFR).  This enzyme and the DNA genes which code for its formation in the body are the subject of much attention and some controversy.  This is due to the fact that gene variants or pre-existing mutations are very common in the population and result in a slower rate of formation of MTHF (active folate).  The best known gene variant which is quite common is the variant known as MTHFR C677T.  In some human populations it can occur in over 40% of individuals.  You can see that methylation imbalance is quite common.

Depending on the availability of MethylB12 and MTHF in our cells the formation of SAM-e may be going too fast (a condition sometimes referred to as OverMethylation) or too slow (UnderMethylation).  Either condition is associated with observable symptoms and signs.  Methylation like in Goldilocks and the three bears is best when it is neither too fast nor too slow but “just right”.

The form of Folate known as Folic acid refers to a synthetic (manmade) form which is not useful to the cell unless it is converted to the active form.  Synthetic Folic acid is an additive in many foods and vitamins.  For individuals who lack the ability to convert synthetic folic acid to the active form properly, folic acid can be a liability and may block the function of the active form.  There is currently a movement to eliminate the addition of synthetic folic acid for this reason.

We know that over half of the SAM-e generated in the Methionine Cycle goes to the formation of two molecules- choline and creatine.  Since so much of our SAM-e is used up making these two vital molecules, it makes sense that providing choline and creatine can free up SAM-e for other important methylation steps.

Methylation is a very important piece of our metabolic puzzle and plays a critical role in our normal physiology.  Methylation plays a key role in normal aging, health maintenance, and recovery from disease.  Learning to optimize your methylation process appears to be important in achieving true health, sustained wellness, and long life.  Dr. Wally Taylor at Texas Integrative Medicine understands the importance of a balanced and normally functioning methylation system in the body and has experience in the evaluation and treatment of methylation disorders.  Call Dr. Taylor’s Austin, Texas office at 512-800-5309 if you have questions or to arrange for an appointment.

Lyme Disease Continues to Generate Controversy

Everything from the name to the treatment of this disorder that seems to be affecting more and more Texans seemingly creates disagreement.

In an effort to be able to better evaluate and help the ever-increasing number of people who seek out my integrative medicine services  for persistent chronic disease that is not responding adquately to conventional medical treatment, I will be traveling to Ft Lauderdale, Florida, to attend the International Meeting of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) later this month.

One area that all groups seem to agree upon is the fact that Persistent Lyme Deer Tick FemaleBorreliosis can mimic a number of other better known diseases including multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Alzheimer’s disease.  It has been called “the Great Masquerader”.

Controversy continues in regard to the exact diagnostic criteria and treatment.  The ILADS providers contend that persistent Lyme is greatly underdiagnosed (estimates of as many as 90% of cases going undetected) and undertreated.  This continues to cause suffering and ultimately increasing disability.  Experts at the meeting will be presenting the latest information on new and improved diagnostic tests and treatments to help control this mysterious yet debilitating disease.

Recent studies in Texas and in many other parts of the USA have demonstrated that the ticks that carry the Borrelia germ that causes Lyme and a number of other associated germs like Babesia, Bartonella, and Ehrlichia are known to be fairly common in wooded areas.

It is broadly appreciated among health care providers that the earlier the infection by tick-borne germs like the Lyme-causing Borrelia are treated, the greater the likelihood of complete eradication of the disease and the less the chance of persistent disease and disability.  The longer the disease persists, the harder it is to get rid of.

erythema_migransTreatment depends not only on antibiotics to kill the disease-causing germs, but also treatment to reduce inflammation, remove bacterial toxins, and improve the function of the immune system which is disrupted by the presence of the germs.

Suspect infection any time a tick is found attached to the body.  Even a fairly short period of tick attachment can lead to infection by the germs involved.  The classic rash associated with early infection called a “Bull’s Eye Rash or Erythema Migrans” is only appreciated in less than half of confirmed cases.  If you are concerned about Lyme disease or persistent undiagnosed disease I would like to help you get to the root cause of your disease process.  Call 512-420-9300 for an appointment.

 

BIOTOXIN ILLNESS REQUIRES A MEDICAL DETECTIVE

Your Persistent Illness May Call for a Medical Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

Our mission at Texas Integrative Medicine is to help an individual regain true health and wellness that they have been unable to achieve.  Often a variety of different attempts that usually involve visits to any number of health care providers both traditional and non-traditional have not provided the answers and results that our guests are seeking.  It is not at all unusual for our patients to have seen 5-10 practitioners over a period of years without getting meaningful answers.  We see our role as modern day medical Sherlock Holmes.

To help our patients we have to become health and wellness detectives.  Our approach to health restoration starts with a very thorough history of the guest’s prior symptoms, treatments, and environmental exposures.  A careful physical examination is often helpful in revealing additional clues to solving the case.  We must learn about the guest’s family tendencies for a variety of diseases.  Due to individual variation in susceptibility to disease from environmental triggers that are mediated by genes, we find that many of our guests get sick from environmental triggers that may not cause any symptoms in others around them who are exposed to the same triggers.

What Are the Symptoms of Chronic Illness Caused by Exposure to Environmental Toxins?

Persons who suffer from a multitude of symptoms involving multiple systems often have Environmental Illness.  Headaches, Brain Fog, Confusion, Extreme Fatigue, Joint Pain, Muscle Pain, Symptoms of Irritable Bowel, Bloating, Diarrhea, Abdominal Pain, Anxiety, Panic Attack, Depression, Weakness, Numbness and Tingling, Insomnia/Trouble Sleeping, Intolerance of Exercise, Loss of Focus, Poor Libido, Tremulousness, Rapid or Irregular Heartbeat, Hormone Imbalance, Abnormal Periods, Infertility can all be seen with toxin exposure to both manmade and biological toxins (Biotoxins).

Are You the Proverbial CANARY IN THE COALMINE?Canary in Coalmine Cartoon

To use an analogy- like the tiny bird that would become ill at the first sign of poisonous gas in a coalmine, our patients are like A Canary in a Coalmine.  They are the first to experience illness from toxic environmental exposure from various sources.  As we further degrade our environment more and more individuals are becoming Canaries!

Are You Being Exposed to the Same Agents Used for Biological Warfare?

We have found that the various triggers of illness often include a variety of biotoxins given off by a variety of germs in the environment.  Many viruses, bacteria, molds, yeasts, and parasites produce powerful toxins that have been shown to cause on-going chronic disease.  In fact the concept of biological warfare is based on the potency and lethality of many of these biotoxins.  Identification of the presence and actions of a variety of  biotoxins explains some of the illness that we see in our daily practice.

If we identify that biotoxins are playing a triggering role in our guest’s illness, the first step in recovery is to help to remove on-going exposure to further biotoxin.  This may involve modifying an individual’s home or work environment (as in the case of toxic black mold associated with a water damaged building).  This may involve modification of a guest’s diet or lifestyle.

The next major goal is to assist the guest in elimination of biotoxins from the body.  This process often involves taking steps to improve the body’s own system of detoxification.  Many of our patients that suffer chronic disease from biotoxins have inherited suboptimal detoxification ability.  In many cases this can be at least in part overcome by taking the appropriate natural steps such as replacing necessary vitamins and other nutrients needed for optimal biotoxin elimination.

In some cases anti-infective medicines may be helpful in eliminating the germs that are producing the biotoxins.  We have found that the use of natural anti-infective agents such as natural herbs are often as effective as prescription medicines in accomplishing this goal.

If you or someone you know is suffering from persistent unexplained symptoms involving multiple systems and multiple different symptoms, it is quite possible that biotoxins are playing at least a partial role.  At Texas Integrative Medicine we provide a caring and compassionate approach to diagnosis and treatment with a constant awareness of cost and risk as we strive to provide answers for chronic illness.  We welcome the opportunity to serve as your Medical Sherlock Holmes.

Aboutdr_tyler Wally Taylor MD

Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas.  After obtaining a general medical doctorate degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas he completed a general medical internship and residency training in head and neck surgery ENT and allergy.  After 20 years service in the US Army Medical Corps and practice in Colorado and Texas he founded Texas Integrative where he now offers a functional holistic approach to disease which treats the entire individual instead of each separate symptom.  He has a special interest in precision genome-based healing of chronic inflammation-caused illness and anti-aging.  He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach.  Dr. Taylor recently published GOT TO SHINE-A Guidebood for True Health and Sustained Wellness in the 21st Century available in the Amazon bookstore. 

For an appointment to see Dr. Taylor in his Austin, Texas office call 512-420-9300.