Tag Archives: Opinion

DR. C’S JOURNAL: VACCINES, ADAPTIVE & INNATE IMMUNE SYSTEM AND HERD IMMUNITY

The adaptive immune system is the “big gun”, later evolved, big brother of the innate immune system. The innate immune system acts a little like prejudice does in society. There is INSTANT RECOGNITION of a salient characteristic of many common disease-producing organisms, that are not present in the person being infected.

For instance, ENDOTOXIN is a lipopolysaccharide present in many bacteria, and is immediately recognized by Toll-like Receptors (TLR-4) on dendritic cells and macrophages. This triggers the Natural Killer (NK) cells to destroy the invader. The problem is that the innate immune system is indiscriminate, reacting against whole classes of molecules like a shotgun, and may produce unwanted damage. It also fails to recognize many genuine threats.

The ADAPTIVE immune system is more complex, discriminant, and SPECIFIC, but is SLOWER to gear up, and takes several days to be effective. Once engaged, however, it has a MEMORY for the infection that is SPECIFIC to the organism involved. This memory makes a SECOND EXPOSURE response much more rapid and comprehensive, AMPLIFIED as it is BY ANTIBODIES.

This first experience can be PROPHYLACTICALLY accomplished by VACCINES, so that the second, real exposure generates a RAPID PROTECTIVE RESPONSE. ATTENUATED vaccines are weakened, but LIVING ORGANISMS, and usually provide a more DURABLE immunity, but because they are living, they are more worrisome.

SPLIT-PRODUCT Vaccines are safer, but expose the immune system to a narrower range of pathogen markers, and may therefore be less Protective.. The FDA is very dedicated to SAFETY. Like all Bureaucracies, it is relatively independent of Political pressure, of which I am increasingly appreciative.

When the COVID-19 VACCINE, for example, is released to the general public, it WILL BE SAFE. The vaccine-deniers are mis-informed people who should not, in my opinion, be allowed to interfere with the HERD IMMUNITY that comes with having a supermajority of the population vaccinated.

— Dr. C.

DR. C’S MEDICINE CABINET: “OVERVIEW OF METABOLISM”

“Life is nothing but an electron looking for a place to rest”.

Albert Szent-Gyorgy

Overview of Metabolism – Seeing an Essence of Nanosystems in the Hum of a Vibrant City; the Skyscraper as Catalyst, and Thought as Electron

What did it take to bring the world to its’ knees? SARS-CoV2? We will never know, because we instituted DISTANCING to control the virus because the projected number of deaths were unacceptable.

The distancing and isolation did hold the number of deaths, still large, below projection. However, it DEVASTATED our Economy.

OUR WORLD is a  massive, cooperative, interdependent system, with hubs, factories, supply chains and a myriad of products. It is a COMPLEX SYSTEM.

I would like to use the world as an analogy, and compare it to another Complex System, the HUMAN BODY.

Our bodies are essentially a large pile of chemicals (mostly proteins) in a sack, our skin. These chemicals are constantly interacting with each other. If they grow to larger, more complex chemicals in a process we call anabolism, we take in more chemicals and energy by eating, and get bigger. If our chemicals get less numerous and complex in a process we call catabolism, we lose weight and get smaller.

Some of the proteins in our bodies are ENZYMES, and bring other proteins CLOSER TOGETHER, so that they can LINK TOGETHER  become more complex and PRODUCE things. Enzymes are a sine qua non of life. Without enzymes, life would slow so much as to be impossible. 

Let’s go back to our Society, Before Covid. 

Vast numbers of people are cooperating in close proximity, working together with machines, often supplied by other people far away, making things. This process takes place most efficiently in CITIES, where people are in closest proximity, doing things together.

Enter Covid. This interdependent process stops. What things that are produced are made to fight Covid. It is just like one of our cells infected by Covid: we have been HIJACKED  by the virus!

Lets’ GO BACK TO OUR CELLS. Our METABOLISM is like our teeming, cooperative CITIES, with SUPPLY CHAINS, factories and products. Our PROTEINS NEED PROXIMITY to function.

Some Proteins are at a critical HUB, and comprise a RATE-LIMITING step in the production line.

Many Vitamins and nutrients are COENZYMES, and act to ACCELERATE critical supply lines.

If the Hubs are OUT OF BALANCE and OVERACTIVE, many MEDICATIONS act to BLOCK THE ACTION of an enzyme to bring the system closer to balance.

Thus coordination, cooperation and careful monitoring to PREVENT A PROBLEM is superior to letting it break down and correcting the imbalance.

I hope that this Overview will be helpful. I will go through my MEDICINE CABINET to discuss a few of the 20,000 or so Medications approved by the FDA. I will also VIEW THE TEST RESULTS from my LABORATORY TESTS. NORMAL results show a SYSTEM IN BALANCE. Abnormal results show inefficiencies in the metabolism (supply chains, hubs), which need correction to restore balance.   

— Dr. C

OPINION: FACE MASKS AND SHIELDS TO PREVENT COVID

My main exercise for the day is a 45 minute fast walk around my community.

Hat – check. Sunglasses – check, FACE SHIELD – check.

Yes, face shield. The shield has the advantage of allowing me to talk, plus being more comfortable to wear. I clean it with a woolen cloth on one side and cotton on the other, hoping for a condenser electrostatic effect (I’m open to suggestion from engineers).

If I cough, any large particles of mucus would impact the shield, leaving only tiny aerosol particles to escape around the edges into the environment to endanger others.

It is Saturday today, and I pass a man and a woman pushing a baby buggy, and give them wide berth. I don’t consider 6-feet far enough distancing. 12-18 feet would be better, since, at 88-years of age, I am at least 2-3 times more susceptible.

A 12-year old zooms by me on a scooter. His age predicts less viral effluent, and the exposure time is less. I then go by a large collection of 20-year olds, Wide berth again, and, holding my breath, continuing to walk fast.

As I walk, I breathe air in through my nose, and out through my mouth. I feel the warmth (and purity) of the exhaled air, which may push aside and dilute any contaminants coming from the outside.

Another group of young adults! Well, maybe the risk is not as bad as the numbers would indicate. Odds are there would be only one spreader in the group, and the healthy ones would act as particle filters for me.

So far, not a single young person had a mask on. They are probably just thoughtless young people, and not necessarily “objectors” believing that mask-wearing is a sign of submission. As Peggy Noonan said in her column in today’s WSJ:

“…IT’S A SIGN OF RESPECT, RESPONSIBILTY AND ECONOMIC ENCOURAGEMENT”.

Going forward, we must all do our part to reduce the likelihood of another Covid surge. WEARING A MASK PROTECTS OTHERS.

I finally spied 2 masks! They were fitted on 2 ceramic lions flanking a front door. It is true that felines can catch Covid. But ceramic ones?

I thought I was walking fast, but was overtaken from the rear by a long-legged young lady. She passed within 4 feet of me, and of course had no mask on. I only hope she didn’t have Covid, and that my shield worked.

On the subject of the effectiveness of wearing a shield, while walking I tune into the odors along the way. I use the odors as surrogate aerosols, especially a recently fertilized curbside flower bed, I compare walking by the flowers, with and without my face shield, and find that the shield reduces but does not eliminate the odor. For more distant odors, like a barbecue, it does not make a difference.

Perhaps the shield, like the prow of a ship, pushes aside STREAMS of particle-laden air. Like coughing or talking nearby. But if the particles (yes, odors are nanometer particles) are well mixed with the air, there is no effect. Air must be breathed, after all.

There are a couple of other things I practice on my walk. I exercise my EYES by looking into the DISTANCE as much as possible. I try to walk as erect as I can. Gravity, my friend in grounding many big Covid-containing mucus particles, tries to bend me over.

The BOTTOM LINE, until more information is available), is: SPREADERS WEAR MASKS, SUSCEPTIBLES  WEAR SHIELDS. Of course, hand-washing, social-distancing, coughing into your elbow, and staying at home, especially if sick, are all still important admonitions.,

-Dr. C.

For further reading

THE HEALING POWERS OF YOUR POSITIVE ATTITUDE

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

From “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas

My brother recently sent me a video  featuring a confident man with a famous last name and a winning message: You beat Covid by fighting it. I would like to comment on several recommendations in his inspiring speech.

It is usually best to approach a problem with a POSITIVE ATTITUDE and a PLAN (1). This is particularly true with the ravages of old age (my area of expertise). Memory loss? Try to memorize poems. Balance loss? Practice standing on one leg. However………….

One person’s good experience is not a medical study. Medicine calls it a testimonial. This applies to my individual experiences as well. Going forward, I will be recounting many personal experiences with common diseases and conditions. Be careful about applying my solutions to your condition.. EXERCISE CRITICAL THINKING.

Be especially careful not to equate fame with medical expertise.

Mr. Cuomo’s result, if indeed the outcome was changed by his efforts, was most likely influenced by a powerful PLACEBO effect (2) which can be associated with striking outcomes, as we know from countless inspiring testimonials  of “hopeless” cancer and other terminal conditions.

Even if we KNOW a treatment is likely due to the placebo effect, it remains effective. I don’t believe I’m doing harm with my speculations.

A couple of generations ago, confidence in doctors was much greater than it is now. We had fewer effective treatments, but surprisingly good results. As medical information of various quality proliferates and medicine loses prestige, it it is losing a valuable tool. Still, we have the placebo effect.

Mr. Cuomo was fortunate to have a good, positive doctor, and to believe in him. Positive affect is powerful.

FEVER is not the virus incarnate, but the bodies RESPONSE to the virus. Fever survived the culling of evolution because it confers a survival advantage, and is helpful.(3) Viruses replicate less rapidly at higher body temperatures.

I always told my patients: “ if you are stuck with the infection, enjoy the fever”. Of course high fevers, above 104 degrees F should be reduced.

I’m not sure that Covid patients should hold their breaths to “fight the virus”, although the length of time you can hold your breath is a good measure of breathing difficulty.  Blood CO2, the main driver of dyspnea (shortness of breath), must not be allowed to accumulate. The accompanying hypoxemia (low blood oxygen ) is not desirable either.

I agree with most of the advice quoted by Mr. Cuomo. Lying on the back has proven dangerous in severe Covid. Taking deep breaths (even if painful) will help keep the alveoli (air sacs) expanded. Change of position is important for the same reason,  and adequate fluids, including water, is always beneficial.

So educate yourself as much as you can about your condition. Pick out the best doctor you can find (the subject of a future opinion piece) and place yourself in her care. Enjoy a sense of relief and confidence. Even physicians need the objectivity and support of their own doctor.

Finally, armed with a positive attitude, make the most of whatever placebo effect you are accorded.

—Dr. C.

OPINION: THE BENEFITS OF HIGHLY NUTRITIOUS DIETS

Vitamins and minerals, as we all know, are of critical importance to our health. Gone are the days when scurvy(vitamin C) was the scourge of the high seas, and rickets (vitamin D) was common in the children of smoke-filled industrial cities with insufficient sunlight.

We are in a state of such overabundance that many medical authorities feel that vitamin supplementation merely makes our toilets healthier.

Covid 19, with a deficit of prevention and treatment options, has forced a new appreciation of the role of our immune systems in fending off Covid, and future viral plagues that are certain to follow. Optimum Health has never been more important.

A May 4, 2020, British Medical Journal (BMJ) article highlights the role of vitamins C and D, and minerals, especially Zinc, in functioning of our immune systems. Here are several highlights from the article:

  • Foods that are naturally abundant in vitamin C such as broccoli (60 mg/100 g), blackcurrants (130 mg/100 g), fortified breakfast cereals (up to 134 mg/100 g) and oranges (37–52 mg/100 g)45  should be made accessible to older individuals who are most in need of their nutritional benefits.
  • In the UK 5.5% of men and 4% of women 65 years and over (around 1 in 20) presently have zinc intakes lower than the lower reference nutrient intake (the level below which deficiency could occur).46 The consumption of foods naturally abundant in zinc such as canned crab (5.7 mg/100 g), canned shrimps (3.7 mg/100 g), canned adzuki beans (≈2.3 mg/100 g) and boiled eggs (1.3 mg/100 g) should be encouraged as a supplementation strategy to reinforce immunity.
  • Tolerable upper intake levels (ULs) are intake levels which should not be surpassed as toxicity problems could appear.47 For vitamin D a UL of 50 µg/day is advised and for zinc a UL of 25 mg/day is recommended. 47 There is insufficient evidence to establish UL for vitamin C, but available human data suggest that supplemental daily doses of up to about 1 g, in addition to normal dietary intake, are not associated with adverse gastrointestinal effects.47 Not having an adverse effect, however, is not necessarily indicative of a benefit either, and ongoing trials are warranted.
  • Among those with established respiratory conditions or pneumonia, specific nutrients such as vitamin C, D or zinc could be considered as potential adjuvants to conventional treatment pathways.

Susceptible people, particularly the old, should use every safe measure to stay well.

– Dr. C

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OPINION: THE ” FOUR PILLARS OF HEALTH AND THRIVING”

Homo sapiens have been around for upwards of 200,000 years and our bodies have evolved to deal with conditions far different than we experience in today’s life.

For about 95% of our species’ existence we have had:

  • Far more SLEEP. We were diurnal, going to bed at sundown, awakening at sunrise.
  • A more natural and varied DIET. We had to gather or kill what we ate.
  • Far more EXERCISE as we walked many miles on most days.
  • INTELLECTUAL STIMULATION. Well, here at least we moderns have an advantage, and our brains are better for it, If we get enough Sleep, Diet and Exercise.

Intellectual stimulation is really just a form of exercise. Exercise of the brain; as the brain is in a way like a muscle. If you don’t exercise your muscles, they waste away. If you don’t exercise your brain, your synapses waste away. To overwork a cliche : use it or lose it. Your muscles and brain are very energy-intensive and therefore expensive in evolutionary terms. Metabolic mechanisms have evolved to weed out that which is not needed and not used.

We could then say that there are the “Three Pillars of Health: Sleep, Diet, and Exercise, with the understanding that exercise refers to both muscles and brain. But they are exercised in such radically different ways, and each is prominent at different times in life. Children are reluctant to exercise their brains and are in constant motion. The elderly have much less muscle to exercise, but the aged brain still works quite well if you nurture and use it. So Intellectual Stimulation is best considered a separate category.

SLEEP, DIET, EXERCISE and INTELLECTUAL STIMULATION are then the “Four Pillars of HEALTH and THRIVING”.

These Four Pillars come as a package, reinforce each other, and are intricately interconnected. You can’t afford to neglect one without diminishing the others. But we will be discussing them separately, since they are separately researched and enacted.

Keep tuned.

—Dr. C.

Further reading