Interaction between cytokines and innate and adaptive immunity

In humans two main types of immunity are recognized:  the innate (non-specific) and the adaptive (also known as acquired) immunity. Both innate and adaptive immunity depend on the ability of the immune system to distinguish between self and non-self molecules (pathogens).

If a pathogen such as a bacteria or virus manages to breach the layered defenses such as the physical barriers of the skin, the innate immune system provides an immediate, but non-specific response. If the pathogen then successfully evades the innate response, vertebrates possess a second layer of protection called the adaptive immune system, which is activated by the innate response.

The innate immune system is the dominant system of defense in most organisms and it is found in all plants and animals.

The innate immune system is non-specific, its response comes into play immediately or within hours of an antigen’s appearance in the body in a very effective way but does not confer long lasting immunity against such a pathogen since it lacks an immunological memory. 

Cells of the innate immune system include phagocytes cells (white blood cells that engulf and absorb waste material, harmful micro organisms or other foreign bodies) such as monocytes and macrophages, and also natural killer (NK) cells, basophils, mast cells, eosinophils and dendritic cells. 

Cytokines released from innate immune cells play a key role in the regulation of the immune response.

Cytokines secreted by different innate immune cells includes tumor necrosis factor (TNF), interleukins IL-1, IL-6, IL-10, IL-12, IL-15, and IL-18, interferons such as IFN-α, IFN-β and IFN- γ. 

The adaptive (acquired) immune system, on the other hand, allows for a stronger immune response as well as an immunological memory which is maintained by ‘memory cells’.

This highly effective specificity allows for the generation of responses that are tailored to specific pathogens or pathogen-infected cells.

Cells that make up the adaptive immune system include the B and T lymphocytes which are derived from hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow.

B lymphocytes are involved in the humoral immune response whose primary function is the production of antibodies, whereas T lymphocytes differentiate into different subtypes like the T cytotoxic (Tc) cells,T helper (Th) cells, natural killer T cells (NKT cells).

Cytokines that play a role in the adaptive immune system include interleukins IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-10, IL-12,TGF-β and IFN-γ.

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What are cytokines?

Cytokines can be described as small messenger and signaling molecules released by cells that have a specific effect on the interactions between cells, on the communication between cells and on the behavior of cells.

The term ‘cytokine’ encompasses a large and diverse family of messenger and signaling molecules produced throughout the body by cells of diverse embryological origin. There is no general agreement as to which molecules should be termed cytokine, and part of this difficulty in distinguishing cytokines from other molecules, is that some of the immunomodulating effects of cytokines are systemic, meaning that they act on the whole body system rather than  on a localized system or organ.

Cytokines were officially recognized in 1979 and this discovery created a revolution in immunology and medicine in general. Since then, an enormous amount of research has been devoted to cytokines.

Cytokines are critical to the development and functioning of both the innate and adaptive immune response, they are often secreted by immune cells that have encountered a pathogen, thereby activating and recruiting further immune cells to increase the system’s response to the pathogen.

Although pivotal in triggering and regulating the immune response, they are not limited to the immune system alone, in fact many cytokines are now known to be produced by cells other than immune cells and they can have effects on non-immune cells as well.

Cytokines are also involved in several developmental processes during embryo genesis. The complex network of cytokines balances pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects, and an imbalance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines or the uncontrolled production of cytokines can result in chronic inflammatory disease, allergies or auto-immune disease.

Broadly speaking, cytokines can include different types of molecules like ‘monokines’ produced by mononuclear phagocytic cells, ‘chemokines’ produced by many kinds of leukocytes and other cell types, ‘lymphokines’ produced by activated lymphocytes (especially T helper cells), ‘interleukins’ that act as mediators between leukocytes, ‘peptides’ (cell signaling molecules), ‘growth factors’ which promote cell growth and ‘interferons’ (INF) which respond to infected cells and cancer cells.

We could also divide cytokines according to their biological role such as growth factors which promote cell growth proliferation and differentiation, interleukins and lymphokines which are capable of creating a communicating network within the immune system, and chemokines and lymphokines which are mainly involved in inflammation.

Low Dose Medicine

Low dose medicine is a new therapeutic approach which aims at restoring physiology through communicating or signaling molecules such as cytokines, interleukins, growth factors, neuropeptides, neurotransmitters and hormones prepared in low dose-active dilutions (through the homeopathic method of dilution and succussion) and therefore without side effects. (For more information about classic homeopathy and the ‘homeopathic processing’ of dilution and dynamization see my book ‘Heal yourself’).
Since these molecules have the same physiological concentration (nanograms to picograms) as the molecules present in our organism which control and regulate organic functions under healthy conditions, one could define low dose medicine as ‘physiological regulating medicine’ but also as ‘preventive medicine’ since low dose active preparations have virtually no side effects.
Low dose medicine is also in many cases a resolutive therapy because it works on the whole organism directly by using molecules which work at the cellular level in order to re-direct biochemical pathways when these are deranged or inhibited.
By using low dose medicine one can act directly on the PNEI (psycho-neuro-endocrine-immunitary) system with the aim of regulating cell’s activity, when this is inhibited or disturbed by endogenous or exogenous stressors. At this level one is able to restore the capacities for cellular self-regulation which are indispensable for maintaining homeostasis (for more information on the PNEI system see related section in this book and my book ‘Heal yourself’).
Recent findings have shown that cytokines, interleukins, hormones, growth factors and neuropeptides correctly diluted and dynamized become active, through a mechanism of sensitization and activation of cellular receptors.
One of the best way to correct a deficiency is to provide low (activated) doses of the same substance to stimulate its metabolism and physiologic production, and the result of the action of these low dose active molecules is a physiological modulation and regulation of the biochemical pathways when these are deranged or inhibited.
In a nutshell, low dose medicine can be defined as an up-to-date integration of homeopathy, Psycho-Neuro-Endocrine-Immunology (PNEI) and molecular biology.

La medicina Low Dose

possibile ripristinare la capacità di autoregolazione delle cellule
che è indispensabile per il mantenimento dell’omeostasi, ossia
la capacità dell’organismo di mantenere in un relativo equili-
brio stabile le caratteristiche del proprio ambiente interno.
I risultati di alcune recenti ricerche hanno mostrato che le
citochine, le interleuchine, gli ormoni, i fattori di crescita e
i neuropeptidi, correttamente diluiti e dinamizzati, diventano
attivi nell’organismo mediante un meccanismo di sensibilizza-
zione e attivazione dei recettori cellulari.
Come vedremo parlando della strategia terapeutica, uno dei
sistemi più efficaci per correggere una carenza consiste nel fornire
bassi dosaggi (attivati) della sostanza mancante, in modo da sti-
molarne il metabolismo e la produzione fisiologica. Come risul-
tato della somministrazione di queste molecole in forma attivata
a basso dosaggio, si ottengono la modulazione e la regolazione
fisiologica delle trasformazioni biochimiche che risultavano di-
sturbate o inibite. In pratica, la medicina low dose si può definire
come un’innovativa integrazione tra omeopatia, psiconeuroen-
docrinoimmunologia (PNEI) e biologia molecolare.

 

Tibetan Medicine

Tibetan Medicine is a very ancient medical system which integrates human physiology and psychology with Buddhist philosophy, astrology and the knowledge of the five elements.

According to Tibetan medicine everything has its origin in the mind which is the creator of the internal and external phenomena and the five elements which constitute physical reality.

According to Buddhism, the mind is like a pure crystal which is obscured by temporary ignorance of its own original primordially pure state and by the subsequent karmic formations.

The mind, accompanied by a subtle wind, which is like a vehicle, is responsible for good health and is also the cause of disease through the three mental poisons of attachment, anger and closed-mindedness which are produced by the ‘not-knowing’ or by the fundamental ignorance of the nature of phenomena.

According to Tibetan medicine, the absolute condition of empty luminosity manifests itself in the form of energy into three aspects: body, energy or speech and mind, which are also reflected in the human body in the form of three humors or energies called Wind (tib: rLung), Bile (mKhrispa) and Phlegm (Badken).

These three humors govern all biological, psychological, psycho-pathological and emotional functions of the individual body, speech and mind. They are responsible for the tissue production and maintenance, aging, elimination of waste products, energy flow, and they sustain life.

These humors, or principles, are responsible for sustaining and maintaining the health of the individual when they are in balance and harmony, and bring illnesses when they are out of balance.

The three basic humors of Wind, Bile and Phlegm can be altered or disrupted by the three mental poisons of attachment, anger and closed-mindedness respectively, by environmental causes, by general behavioural habits and by diet.

It is through the re-harmonising of the three humors that the framework of the theory and practice of Tibetan Medicine is established.

The three humors

  • Wind (Lung) shares the same nature and characteristics as the air element.The Wind acts in respiration and keeps the life of inner and outer living beings, it is the vehicle of the mind and helps the growing and moving processes. There are five distinct subcategories of Wind each with specific locations and functions: the life sustaining Wind, the ascending Wind, the pervasive Wind, the fire-like Wind and the descending Wind. Wind humor accumulates in late spring, manifests in summer and decreases in autumn. It is also predominant in old age.
  • Bile (mKhris-pa)humor‘s nature is hot, and corresponds to the fire element of the body. The blood circulation system, along with the liver and the gall bladder, produce the Bile humor in the body. The Bile humor has seven qualities: it is oily, sharp, hot, and light, it has a strong odor, it is purgative, and moist. It resides principally in the liver, gall bladder, duodenum and small intestine. It regulates perspiration and blood circulation, produces the body heat (e.g. metabolism) and counterbalances the Phlegm humor. The Bile helps digest food and consumes Phlegm liquid. It rules thirst and hunger, the increase of the body heat, the clearing of the body radiance, and the gain of pride and intelligence.Bile humor accumulates in summer, manifests in autumn and decreases in winter. It is also predominant in adulthood.
  • Phlegm (Badken) combines the qualities of the water (humidity) and the earth elements (heaviness). The Phlegm humor is  a cold  and humid  energy which is opposite to the Bile’s heat. It has seven characteristics: it is oily (with wetness), cool, heavy, blunt, smooth, stable and sticky. It produces body fluids and functions in all parts of the body. It resides in the spleen, stomach, kidney, bladder, brain and the reproductive organs. It regulates the glands and the lymphatic system. It provides firmness to body and mind and it induces sleep.Phlegm humor accumulates in winter, manifests in early spring and decreases in the second part of spring. It is also predominant in young children.

The seven constitutions

According to Tibetan medicine there are seven constitutions developed from the combination of the parents’ constitution and one’s own past karma which produce the personality, mental attitude and physiology of the individual and which play a very important role in the diagnosis, prevention and medical treatment.

The three single or principal constitutions are Wind, Bile and Phlegm which are produced by one’s own main karmic inprint and when one or both parents’ diet or behavior is strongly influenced by a particular humor.  The three combined constitutions are made up of two combined humors for example Wind-Bile, Wind-Phlegm and Bile- Phlegm and finally one balanced constitution made of the combination of all three humors.

 

The Wind constitution

 

People belonging to the Wind constitution are usually naturally thin, with short extremities and small sized fingers.

They are sensitive to cold wind, they are talkative, and they like music, sports and food with a sweet, sour, bitter and hot taste.

They don’t sleep much and their mind is fragile, emotional and unstable, they have a frail voice and they also like to argue and laugh.

The Wind constitution may have the tendency to suffer from psychological disorders and sleeping problems. Individuals belonging to this constitution often have chest and large intestine complaints, occasional diahorrea with intestinal rumblings, dizziness, humming sounds in the ears, pain in lumbar region and thighs, wish to stretch limbs, frequent yawning and sighing, repeated cough, occasional reflux or retching, acute and shifting pains in the heart region, upper body, chest and temples; and they like to speak excessively or incoherently.

 

 

The Bile constitution

 

People with a Bile constitution have medium sized body parts, sensory organs, and a stable mind.  Their skin is yellow or red. They digest fast and are easily thirsty. Their body produces bad smells, sweats and naturally high temperature.

They have a sharp memory, an active and strong ego, and although they are internally insecure, they act in a formal and diplomatic way.

They often have problems related to the bile, liver, gall bladder, and small intestine. They also suffer frome headaches, cervical pain and high blood pressure, heaviness of the head and body, loss of appetite, vomit, nausea, pain during digestion, dizziness, unclear eyesight, bitter taste in mouth, yellow film on tongue, burning sensation, pain at chest and back, difficult breathings and they have a tendency to infection and inflammation. Their favorite food is sweet, bitter, astringent and cool.

 

The Phlegm constitution

 

The Phlegm constitution naturally produces a large body which gradually curves back when getting older. The skin is white, moist, and smooth.

Phlegm constitution people easily put on weight and their hands and fingers have a beautiful shape and color. Their body temperature is low and digestion is slow. They have little hunger and thirst, great patience to difficulties, and possess a good heart.

Their sleep is heavy and they are great thinkers. They have a slow, profound and melancholic mind. They often raise complaints about their kidney, bladder, stomach, spleen, and have a tendency for obesity, water retention, and poor digestion. They also suffer from heaviness, loss of appetite in the morning and malaise at the stomach, heartburn, reflux of sour liquids, difficult digestion, continuous empty eructation, little thirst, loss of sense of taste, sticky mouth, diahorrea and vomit, little bodily heat, and abdominal swelling.

Their favorite food is hot, sour, astringent and with rough potency.

 

Wind and Bile mixed constitution bears the combined characteristics and natures of both humors. When the Wind is combined with the cold-Bile nature, feet, hands and nose are generally cold and women suffer from pre-menstrual pain. When the combination is with the hot Bile, the heat goes to the head, face, neck and hair. This mixed constitution usually bears fear and anxiety.

 

Wind and Phlegm constitution bears combined characteristics of the two humors and people especially suffer from great confusion in the mind. Their bodies produce cold sweat and have a tendency for obesity.

 

Bile and Phlegm constitution also bears the combined characteristics of the two humors. These people especially suffer from conflict of mind.  The body is divided in two parts: the upper part of the body shows heat whilst the lower part feels cold.

 

Wind, Bile and Phlegm constitution is considered to be the most well balanced body and state of mind.

 

In the framework of Tibetan medicine the constitutional disorders and psycho-pathological disorders are treated with a holistic view by specific methods of treatment: diet, behavior or life style, medicinal treatments and external therapies.

Migraine and headaches

A headache is a general name for pain or discomfort in the head, scalp, or neck. The most common type of headaches are likely  to be caused by tight muscles in the shoulders, neck, scalp, and jaw and are called tension headaches.Factors which might  contribute to tension headaches are stress, depression, anxiety, bad posture, staying in one position for a long time, clenching one’s jaw etc.

A migraine, on the other hand, is a common type of headache that may occur with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or sensitivity to light. In many people, a throbbing pain is felt only on one side of the head.

It is believed that a migraine attack begins in the brain, and involves nerve pathways and neurotransmitters like serotonin, and endorphins. The changes affect blood flow in the brain and surrounding tissues.

Migraine attacks may be triggered by alcohol, stress and anxiety, certain odors or perfumes, loud noises or bright lights, caffeine withdrawal, changes in hormone levels during a woman’s menstrual cycle or with the use of birth control pills, changes in sleep patterns, exercise or other physical stress, missed meals, smoking or exposure to smoke, and also by certain foods like meats containing nitrates such as bacon, hot dogs, salami and  cured meats; processed, baked or marinated foods, as well as foods that contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), chocolate, nuts, peanut butter, and dairy products, foods containing tyramine,  including red wine, aged cheese, smoked fish, chicken livers, figs, and certain beans, and fruits like avocado, banana, or citrus fruit,.

Typical migraine symptoms include moderate to severe pain, usually confined to one side of the head, but switching in successive migraines, pulsing and throbbing head pain, increasing pain during physical activity, inability to perform regular activities due to pain, nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and sound.

In some cases there may be a warning symptom called an ‘aura’, a common term for a group of symptoms which may involve a temporary blind spot, blurred vision, eye pain, seeing stars or zigzag lines, and tunnel vision before the actual migraine begins.

 

 

You can reduce the severity and the frequency of the migraine attacks by using some complementary medicine remedies according to your doctor or medical practitioner advice. Here is a general list:

 

Nutraceutical

 

Tanacetum partenium 150 mg

Hypericum perforatum – St John wort (150 mg)

Harpagophytum procumbens –Devil’s claw (150 mg)

Salix alba (100 mg)

Crataegus (75 mg)

Chamomilla recutita 50 mg

Melilotus officinalis (50 mg)

Cynara scolymus (100 mg)

Melatonin: 3 to 5 mg in the evevening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homeopathy

 

Ignatia amara 4CH

Gelsenium 4CH

Iris versicolor 4CH

Spigelia anthelmia 3CH

Bryonia alba 3CH

Sepia 5CH

Menyanthes trifoliata 5CH

Ignatia 4X

Gelsenium  12X

Melilotus officinalis 1X

Tabacum 9X

Sepia  9X

Tanacetum partenium 3X

Beta endorphin 6X

Melatonin 4C

Serotonin 6X

 

Bach flowers: Impatiens, Beech, Olive, Rock Water.

Detoxification, drainage and energy metabolism

The homotoxicology approach sees disease as the result of the body’s attempt to heal itself by ridding itself of toxins which are either created within the body as a result of cellular functions (endogenous) or are taken in through the chemicals one is exposed to in the outer environment (exogenous).

Any agent, whether physical, chemical or microbial that adversely modifies or damages a balanced biological system is considered a ‘toxin’. Toxins may enter the body from the external environment (microbes, viruses, fungi, environmental, chemicals etc) through the gastrointestinal system by ingestion, through the respiratory system by inhalation, and through the skin by passive absorption or by injection.

Chemical compounds are currently spread all over the world, due to spread via the ground water, surface rain and winds. Bioaccumulation of these compounds cause disease in all living beings by disrupting the immune system, the endocrine system and neurological system.

Toxins may also originate within the body itself (endogenous toxins) as by-products of physiological metabolism (bilirubin, creatinine, lactic acid, etc.) or as metabolites under abnormal metabolic conditions such as excess production/degradations of neurotransmitters and hormones (cortisol, adrenaline etc), excess free radical formation, etc.

According to homotoxicology toxins could be classified as:

 

  • Exogenous toxins such as air pollution, chemicals in food (lead, mercury, arsenic, insecticides, etc.),microbes, viruses, fungi, and electromagnetic output from appliances, the toxicity of which is dose-related.
  • Endogenous toxins such as toxins produced during the cell metabolism which cannot be expelled because of enzymatic damage and mental or emotional toxins which produce metabolic conditionssuch as excess production/degradations of neurotransmitters and hormones.
  • Iatrogenic toxins or pharmaceutical toxins (pharmaceutical drugs).
  • Sutoxins or toxins from pork which, being closely related to human flesh, are difficult to metabolize. Viruses and toxins contained in the pork are easily ingested and absorbed.

The main organs of detoxification are: the liver and gallbladder, the kidneys, the extracellular matrix (an ‘organ’ that comprises the layers of tissue between the cells and the regulatory organs), the lymphatic system, the bowels, and the skin.

It should be clear from the above that toxins stored in the body and not eliminated, will be detrimental for various reasons and can have a wide range of effects such as fatigue, cognitive deficit, obesity, asthma, allergies, autoimmunity, cancers to name a few.

 We can easily say that the ability to detoxify and eliminate toxins is equivalent to the maintenance of health in an organism.

Even more important to remember is that without a proper detoxified matrix, due to the toxic overload, any treatment one undertakes will be much less effective if at all.

That’s why it is so important to detoxify and drain the organism, and this is done by stopping the external supply of toxins, by supporting the organs of detoxification and drainage and by stimulating the elimination of toxins from the matrix through complex homeopathic remedies.

It is often said that a good detoxification and drainage is already half of any treatments.

Note: the only time when is not advisable to do a full detoxification and especially drainage is during cancer treatments where one should instead support the organs of detoxification and work mainly on the PNEI system.

 

 

Energy metabolism and the citric acid cycle catalysts

The citric acid cycle also known as the Krebs cycle (after the German biochemist Hans Adolph Krebs who discovered it in 1937) is a key component of the metabolic pathway by which all cells that utilize oxygen as part of their respiration  process  generate energy.

This cycle takes place inside the ‘power plant’ of the cells which is called the mitochondria and provides the energy for the whole organism. The primary function of the mitochondria is to convert energy found in nutrient molecules and, through a long chain of reactions, store it in the form of molecular energy packets known as ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate).

Since mitochondria require oxygen to carry out energy conversion, when oxygen is unavailable or the cycle is inhibited, the body shifts to a very inefficient way of producing energy through the path of glycolysis, which, not only produces far less energy but also produces lactic acid as a by-product which is a cause of pain and inflammation in the muscles.

Different conditions like oxidative stress, illnesses, medicinal drugs, alcohol, food toxins and heavy metals such as mercury can also alter the cycle chemistry causing it to switch off energy production.

A deficiency of one or more intermediate catalysts involved in the cycle and the consequent inhibition of normal energy production may cause a wide range of metabolic disturbances including fatigue, immune system dysfunction, dementia, depression, behavioural disturbances, attention deficiency, muscle weakness, heart diseases, diabetes, skin rashes, hair loss and eventually cancer, and in fact, it has been also known for decades that cancer cells only perform gylcolysis to produce ATP.

Impaired energy metabolism is also an indicator of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

In terms of therapy, restoring the Krebs cycle and mithocondrial function, is the basic starter point of any chronic disease and cancer therapy.

Studies have shown that administering specific Krebs’ cycle amino acid precursors and catalysts to stimulate energy production significantly reduces the symptoms associated with low cell energy production.

Indications of low dose unitary Krebs cycle catalysts

  • Acidum citricum: neurological support, skeletal conditions, support calcium metabolism, digestive conditions.

 

  • Acidum cis-aconitum: early signs of aging, hyper reactivity, hypersensitivity.

 

  • Acidum succinicum: stress, debility after illness, neutropenia during and post chemotherapy.

 

  • Acidum a-ketoglutaricum: functional nervous system support, stress, debility, general weakness.

 

  • Acidum fumaricum: intoxication, liver and gall bladder conditions, food intolerance, metabolic syndrome.

 

  • Acidum DL-malicum: glucose dismetabolism, diabetes, hypo reactivity, chronic conditions, general detoxification, rheumatic conditions.

 

  • Baryum oxalsuccinicum: general anti age support, control of hormonal activity and impaired eyesight.

 

  • Natrium oxalaceticum: vascular protection, immune system stimulation, susceptibility to infection.

 

  • Natrium pyruvicum: slow metabolism, chronic conditions, food intoxication, skin conditions.