by Gabe Ariciu, DC
It has been awhile since I have written a post and it will probably be awhile before another one. But something has been coming to mind lately that has inspired me to write one. I think there is a good deal of misinformation about infections. Some of it stems from a false worldview. With the advent of the germ theory came a lot of good. We finally understood what was causing so many issues. Cholera and tuberculosis, dysentery and typhoid all came from little microorganisms. We realized that washing our hands was important in medicine especially in surgery. Antibiotics, and I do not discount there incredible advent, have helped loads of people. That may come as a shocker to some in the natural and holistic world, but they have their place. They may be overused and over-prescribed but that doesn’t mean they haven’t performed wonders in acute situations. However, with the good comes the bad.
We now have so many products that kill these little bugs. We have anti-bacterial soap and even clothing. We use germ-x everywhere we go. Some are afraid to touch anything that is remotely dirty. This is not a healthy way to live. The germ theory has caused us to see the microbes are foreign invaders that must be eradicated. Who cares about trying to understand them, they are little devils that are here to destroy us. Yet we lived with them for thousands of years. I am not downplaying the horrible outbreaks we have had, but those are almost always tied to poor living conditions, hygiene, and malnutrition. Plenty of evidence for that. What I am saying is there must be a middle way, a different way of looking at it.
Take Lyme disease for instance. It is caused by borrelia burgdorferi, a little spirochete bacteria with a conspiratorial past. I am not about to get into that part of it but Lyme disease is real and many people are suffering from it. I have been asked whether or not you can eradicate the bacteria from the body or if you just go into remission. Do we eradicate staph infections with antibiotics? Doubtful. We definitely put them back into balance and if we do eradicate them, they are going to get reintroduced sooner than later. They are normal flora to our bodies. I am not saying that borrelia is normal flora but maybe instead of viewing it as utter annihilation we should view it as a balance.
Our body’s microbiota live in harmony with us in a beautiful ecosystem. We feed them. They feed us. It’s a wonderful relationship. We are learning more about that relationship everyday. Now let’s say we eat a bunch of sugar and do so over a long period of time, what is going to happen? An imbalance in our microbiota makeup. An often infection we see in the office is fungal specifically Candida. Fungi love sugar. Feeding them sugar allows them to multiply and crowd out others. An imbalance is created. As fungus takes over more ground our immune system becomes activated, more specifically a part of our immune system becomes activated while another part is shut down. Your immune system has a balance too. So what your immune system is trying to do is push the fungus back into balance. Then your immune system balances out.
But what do we do? We continue eating sugar and other processed junk. Our immune system ends up fighting a losing battle. So often we look for the easy way out. The path of least resistance. Like electricity, we don’t want to have to work too hard. Unfortunately, our culture has trained us to do this. A paradigm shift is needed in our society as well as in our viewpoint with germs. We do not need to be afraid of them and try to completely eradicate them off the face of the planet. Rather we need to change our lifestyle, modify our habits, and promote a healthy, balanced ecosystem within ourselves. I know those chicken nuggets sound good, but at what risk? Or that ice cream sundae. Or that bag of chips. And I don’t mean to spend a lot of time on omissions, because healthy eating has so many tasty options. My wife and I love food and trying new recipes especially if it is Indian, Middle Eastern, or Mediterranean. We love herbs and spices. And believe me these meals taste great! This also doesn’t mean you cannot enjoy desserts, of course you can, just within reason and some desserts are better than others. Food is not the only part. We need to stop using all these toxic and harsh chemicals especially the antibacterial everything. We use castile soap, you can also clean with a simple vinegar/water solution (DIY recipes all over the place).
Another issue, is we can get fairly myopic in our view with infections especially Lyme. Borrelia infection is only one part of a big whole. I have already talked about diet and chemicals. But to reduce our view to the point of only considering one or two infections is shortsighted, and I totally understand why this happens. This post is not meant to denigrate but educate. More than likely, and this is speaking from clinical experience, there are multiple subclinical infections going on. Again using Lyme as an example, they may have co-infections from the tick or they may be coincidental infections. Ok, I am done bringing up Lyme. However, they may still have other issues. I often see food intolerances, chemical toxicities, hormone imbalances, and heavy metal toxicities in the same client. Suffice it to say we need to broaden our view as well.
In the end, there is a better way. Let’s rethink our worldview. Just some thoughts I had. I think by changing our worldview we can begin to have more optimism rather than think the world is ending each time we have a flare up. We can look at it as a learning opportunity, maybe there something else going on. Maybe we overlooked something. Maybe it isn’t what we think it is. We can get pretty pessimistic when we have been suffering for a long time and every little setback becomes a huge ordeal. Or we think we are getting a flare up when it is just something else. Either way, when we change our lifestyle and worldview to promote a healthy ecosystem we in turn become healthier. We are less prone to getting sick, that doesn’t mean we won’t. That is just part of life. The same goes for movement. The more you move and move right, the less prone to injury you will become. That is a general rule to follow and the same goes for it, it doesn’t mean you won’t injure yourself. Life is a wonderful thing and there is much to be optimistic about.
I forgot one thing, antibodies. Most of the tests we do to detect bacteria detect them indirectly via antibodies. We assume that antibodies to a particular microbe mean an active infection of that particular microbe. Not necessarily. Here is a nice quote from an article titled Markers of Inflammatory and Immune Response:
“With respect to local immune system as a generator of markers, two underlying possibilities or conditions need to be considered: the presence of antigen-specific antibodies or cells indicates that the host has been exposed to an antigen at some time, even if no longer harboring it; and specific immune responses might indicate the presence and persistence of an antigen that produces a chronic inflammatory response that leads to tissue injury. Thus, the products of the immune system can be used as markers of a host’s exposure to an antigen that might or might not be responsible for tissue injury and disease.1″ (Sorry, couldn’t figure out the blockquote thing even after turning on blockquotes…Oh well)
In other words, the presence of antibodies does not mean you have a current infection only that you have been exposed to the antigen at some point, it still could mean infection, but it may not as well. That is what happens with indirect testing. Even direct testing is problematic. Is the presence of the bacteria mean infection? Not necessarily either. That goes back to the symbiotic ecosystem. Here is a video that I really enjoy and I agree with a lot of what he states:
He has another video I enjoy as well that makes a lot of sense. It is a really interesting take. He talks about Chronic Lyme being an unnecessary aggressive immune response to the presence of the bacteria rather than an infection. So what is needed is to established specific immune tolerance to the organism. Either way the herbs we use supports both ideas, whether it is an active/subclinical infection or if the immune system is intolerant. That is the beauty of the herbs we use. Here is the Bonus video:
National Research Council (US) Committee on Biologic Markers. Biologic Markers in Pulmonary Toxicology. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 1989. 5, Markers of Inflammatory and Immune Response. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK218688/