Researchers Find Textbook-Altering Link Between Brain, Immune System

Courtesy of University of Virginia:

In a stunning discovery that overturns decades of textbook teaching, researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have determined that the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist.

That such vessels could have escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease to multiple sclerosis.

“Instead of asking, ‘How do we study the immune response of the brain?,’ ‘Why do multiple sclerosis patients have the immune attacks?,’ now we can approach this mechanistically – because the brain is like every other tissue connected to the peripheral immune system through meningeal lymphatic vessels,” said Jonathan Kipnis, a professor in U.Va.’s Department of Neuroscience and director of U.Va.’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia. “It changes entirely the way we perceive the neuro-immune interaction. We always perceived it before as something esoteric that can’t be studied. But now we can ask mechanistic questions.”

He added, “We believe that for every neurological disease that has an immune component to it, these vessels may play a major role. [It’s] hard to imagine that these vessels would not be involved in a [neurological] disease with an immune component.”

Kevin Lee, who chairs the Department of Neuroscience, described his reaction to the discovery by Kipnis’ lab: “The first time these guys showed me the basic result, I just said one sentence: ‘They’ll have to change the textbooks.’ There has never been a lymphatic system for the central nervous system, and it was very clear from that first singular observation – and they’ve done many studies since then to bolster the finding – that it will fundamentally change the way people look at the central nervous system’s relationship with the immune system.” Continue reading

Fungus – The Hidden Cause Of Many Illnesses?

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Courtesy of Makia Freeman @ The Sleuth Journal:

Sounds like a big claim and a sweeping generalization, but when you take a closer look at it, you will be staggered to discover just how ubiquitous the humble fungus is, and how much ill health it can cause. Let’s start at the beginning. Nature has a way of eliminating old, decaying matter, whether plant or animal: the fungus. While bacteria are also decomposers, fungi are largely unrecognized for the role they can play in disease, and breaking down the human body prematurely.

Not all every kind of fungus is “bad” or harmful to your health. For example, many of the Chinese and Japanese medicinal mushrooms, such as reishi, shiitake and maitake, are among the greatest stimulators of the immune system and are superb natural remedies. Other mushrooms like the common button mushroom are also good for your health and high in certain nutrients like vitamin D, which is hard to get from food sources. However, I am focusing here not on the more rare beneficial types of fungus, but on the more common and widespread deleterious types of fungus, including yeast (candida), strains of mold and mycotoxins.

The Humble Fungus is Everywhere

Fungi are everywhere in nature. They are tiny and practically invisible. They fly in the air. They survive the cold and dry conditions for years, dormant, just waiting to get activated by a hot, moist and dark environment, or an aerobic environment (one with sugar). They tend to attack or develop only in plants or animals that have an impaired immune system. If the plant or animal is healthy and strong, it will fight off the fungus and prevent it from taking root. However, once the plant or animal becomes weak, the fungus sets in, and slowly takes it over, killing it. The process may takes days, weeks or years. (The video clip above shows the cordyceps fungus, some types of which are actually a medicinal mushroom for humans, killing ants through the spread of its spores). Continue reading