A Link Between Heart Disease, MS and Alzheimer's
Chlamydia pneumoniae is back in the news. Not to be confused with Chlamydia trachomatis, which is sexually transmitted and lives in the genital tract, C. pneumoniae has long been thought to be a major factor in many respiratory infections, MS, and cardiovascular disease. And now, new studies indicate it may very well play a major role in triggering the onset of Alzheimer's. disease
Around 10 years ago, researchers first identified C. pneumoniae as the cause of severe, even fatal, respiratory failure in people. In the late 1990's, it was also identified as being a possible factor in MS since it is found (or circumstantial evidence of its presence is found) in virtually all MS patients. More recently, many investigators have connected C. pneumoniae with heart disease (SN: 6/14/97, p. 374). And now, new research indicates that this relatively common bacterium can invade the brain and perhaps trigger Alzheimer's disease.
To be sure, the actual cause of Alzheimer's is unknown, but researchers have amassed a great deal of data suggesting that inflammation resulting from abnormal immune responses in the brain may lead to the cell death characteristic of the illness (SN: 12/5/92, p. 394). Support for this thesis comes from the fact that anti-inflammatory drugs seem to slow the disease's progression (SN: 2/19/94, p. 116). Which leads us, indirectly, to the C. pneumoniae connection.
Several years ago, Dr. Brian Balin of the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine conducted research that compared the brains of people who had died of Alzheimer's disease with the brains of those who had died from other causes. What he observed was that the vast majority of Alzheimer's brains contained Chlamydia pneumoniae. Only one of the non-Alzheimer's brains did.
It was that observation that first raised the possibility that there might be a connection between C. pneumoniae and Alzheimer's. The problem was in trying to figure out whether the bacterium was actually a possible cause of the disease or just tagged along, so to speak, and thrived in the same conditions that were conducive to the onset of Alzheimer's.
To answer that question, Dr. Balin and his team decided to see if the bug could induce Alzheimer's-like symptoms in mice. They sprayed the bacterium up the noses of a breed of mouse that does not normally develop the amyloid brain-plaques associated with Alzheimer's disease. One to three months later (at varying intervals), they killed the mice and examined their brains. All the animals had developed plaques. Furthermore, the longer they waited before killing the mice, the more plaques the mice had, and the larger those plaques were.
Dr. Balin and his team therefore think that Chlamydia may indeed be a trigger for Alzheimer's. Their working hypothesis is that the low-grade infection causes inflammation, which in turn causes the amyloid to start gumming up the brain. Again, as I mentioned earlier, it is well known that people who have taken a lot of anti-inflammatory drugs during their lifetimes are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer's than others. It is also interesting to note that the common factor that ties C. pneumoniae to all of “its diseases” (heart disease, Alzheimer's, MS, etc.) is inflammation.
So where does that leave us?
- Bacteria such as C. pneumoniae seem to have wide-ranging detrimental health consequences and are implicated in many diseases.
- Inflammation, whether caused by bacteria, viruses, high homecysteine levels, or whatever, also has wide-ranging health consequences and is implicated in many diseases.
With that in mind, boost immunity
Eliminating pathogens from the body, boosting the immune system, and reducing inflammation seem to be pretty much no-brainer decisions when it comes to optimizing health. Therefore:
- Immune boosters such as Echinacea, Aloe vera, Colostrum, etc. should be incorporated into your daily supplementation program.
- The regular use of pathogen destroyers such as Garlic and Olive leaf extract also make sense.
- Supplemental Omega-3 fatty acids from sources such as fish oil or flax seed oil should also be part of any supplementation program.
- The daily use of systemic (or Proteolytic Enzymes as they are also called) would seem to be essential. When proteolytic enzymes are added to bacterial cell cultures, loss of bacterial nuclei occurs, and loss of cell architecture takes place. In other words, the bacteria die and their debris is removed via enzymatic processes. In addition, specialized proteolytic enzymes such as Seaprose-S are a specific for reducing inflammation throughout the body.
Incidentally, we are now starting to see powerful anecdotal evidence of the ability of the Proteolytic Enzyme formula to destroy bacteria systemically (thoughout the body) -- beyond anything ever seen before in similar formulas. After some initial reports that the formula seemed to be dissolving even heavy cases of dental plaque in less than a week, Baseline Nutritionals® used its monthly newsletter to ask people who were using the formula to let them know if they were experiencing similar results. In short order, several dozen people confirmed that they too had experienced a dramatic reduction in dental plaque (in many cases confirmed by their dentist). As amazing as this is, once you understand what plaque is, it actually makes a great deal of sense.
Plaque can be defined as a complex microbial community, containing more than 10 trillion bacteria per milligram. It has been estimated that as many as 400 distinct bacterial species may be found in plaque. Inorganic components are also found in dental plaque; largely calcium and phosphorus which are primarily derived from saliva. The inorganic content of plaque is greatly increased with the development of calculus/tartar.
What appears to be happening is that the Proteolytic Enzymes in the formula are making their way from the blood stream into the saliva at levels sufficient to quickly destroy the harmful bacteria in the mouth, which then allows the plaque to quite literally "wash away." This is pretty astounding and if born out in a formal study could change the face of dentistry. Incidentally (no pun intended), are there any dentists out there looking to become famous?