Chances are you have if you are suffering from Hashimoto’s, autoimmune conditions or a confusing mess of symptoms, you may be experiencing your very own Cytokine Storm season where you will have bad days followed by calm days after the storm and again by bad days. You may have found yourself in the proverbial “up a creek without a paddle” in your autoimmune world.
Cytokine Storms occur when the immune system becomes and remains activated against the immune stimulants beyond the point of being helpful.
A good defense against most illness is a healthy immune system. We all know how a mother bear protects her cubs. At the first hint of danger she takes action to protect them in much the same way as our immune system seeks to protect us. We have been conditioned to think of external microbes as our enemy during a time of infection or inflammation. But our own immune systems are potentially more lethal. When the body detects foreign microorganisms or substances, it can respond by overprotecting the site of that irritation. In its hurry to get antibodies to the infection site, the body may dispatch so many that the level of cytokines becomes highly elevated, creating a Cytokine Storm.
Extreme fatigue, low mood, anxiousness, anxiety, insomnia, high fever, intermittent hot flashes, swelling and redness, and nausea.
Cytokine Storms occur when the immune system becomes and remains activated against the immune stimulants or physical triggers (food, toxins, bacteria, virus, parasite, etc.) beyond the point of being helpful to where the immune response turns damaging or deadly. Researchers in Psychoneuro-immunology are now reporting emotional events can be a trigger as well. Cytokines are not simply immune, but rather neuro-immune modulators. The nervous system regulates immune cells and the magnitude of an immune response via the effects of peripheral neurotransmitters such as epinephrine, nor-epinephrine, dopamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, acetylcholine, histamine and neuropeptides. The manner in which the cytokines are stimulated and balance between the inhibitory and stimulatory neurotransmitters determine the intensity of a Cytokine Storm.
Persistent, highly elevated levels of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines induce a complex, dysregulated condition resulting in massive inflammation and fluid accumulation, blood flow dysfunction and eventually tissue destruction. Thus, in Cytokine Storm, the body’s immune system fights to rid itself of the immune stimulant, but the fight somehow escapes from the normal regulatory controls that should have prevented an overzealous immune system from severely damaging or killing its owner. Read more about My Cytokine Storm
Cytokine-Induce Sickness Behavior
After the storm has passed: Cytokine-Induce Sickness Behavior
After the Cytokine Storm has subsided, sick individuals have common symptoms of sickness; little motivation to eat, withdrawal from normal social activities, fever, burning muscles, aching joints, fatigue and have significant changes in sleep patterns. They display an inability to experience pleasure, have exaggerated responses to pain and brain fog. Pro-inflammatory cytokines acting in the brain cause sickness behaviors. Although Functional Medicine has defined pro-inflammatory cytokines as the central mediators of sickness behavior, each patient exhibits unique circumstances. Specialized lab testing provides a scientific understanding of how cytokines and neurotransmitters are communicating with each other.
Symptoms of sickness; little motivation to eat, withdrawal from normal social activities, fever, burning muscles, aching joints, fatigue and have significant changes in sleep patterns. They display an inability to experience pleasure, have exaggerated responses to pain and brain fog.
Calming a Cytokine Storm and regulating cytokine induced sickness requires a multiple focus approach involving cytokines, neurotransmitters, quenching inflammation, re-regulating the immune system and elimination of any potential triggers. It is crystal clear that there must be negative feedback loops in the immune system, as well as positive ones. The latter enable the system to react quickly to serious infections. The former are needed to keep the system itself from spiraling out of control.
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Neuro-endo-immunology is an emerging field of medical science that seeks to understand the interconnectedness of the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems functioning as a larger whole, termed the “NEI Supersystem.” In order to regulate cytokine induced sickness, you need to find a doctor that has a working knowledge of Neuro-endo-immunology, cytokines and neurotransmitters. Most are found only in labs and are not practicing healthcare providers.
Here are some questions to discuss with your practitioner.
- What is a Cytokine Storm?
- How is TH17 involved in the TH1/TH2 challenge?
- Do you use lab testing or supplement challenges to determine treatment protocols?
- What are the different supplements used to challenge your condition?
- What lab testing do you use?
- How would they treat your condition?
- Do they use Stimulated Cytokine or Neurotransmitter testing?
Researchers and most physicians agree that peripheral neurotransmitters impact the brain, especially during a cytokine storm. To date, neurotransmitter testing shows only peripheral neurotransmitters. But imagine you were trying to understand someone who was speaking in a language for which you only knew 17 words! Nonetheless, if you heard the words “danger”, “help”, and “fire”, you would have a decent idea as to the meaning of the message. Similarly, perturbations in the cytokines that we are able to find in the Stimulated Cytokine testing are extremely useful as indicators of the patient’s immune status, or to use the more formal lingo, they are biomarkers of the immune system. Unfortunately, many accomplished Neurologists remain too “brain-based” and overlook the impact neurotransmitter in the body have on the body.
TH1/TH2 Challenge and More
Despite its seductive simplicity, the Th1/Th2 model does not adequately explain T-cell immunity. Many cytokines produced by T-cells do not fit obviously into either category. Recent studies have shown exposure to lectins or bacteria trigger T-cells to produce IL-6, IL-17, and GM-CSF, cytokines not associated with either the Th1 or the Th2 immune system but are associated with Th17. This has begun an explosion of interest in the generation and function of “Th17” immune system that has not shown signs of tapering off.
There are now more Th-systems than the Th1, Th2 & Th17. There are evolving strategies to deal with them. However, this can only be done if one is using technology current to the year we are living in. Unlike the out-of-date, antiquated strategies used by so many claiming to do Functional Medicine. If you have questions about your Cytokine-Induce Illness. Call today 530-615-4083.
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