Bacterial Endotoxins, Lectins, and Chronic Inflammatory Diseases

Paul L. Reller L.Ac. / Last Updated: August 03, 2017

Low-grade inflammation in humans is a significant and overlooked health problem, and bacterial endotoxins entering the blood stream from the intestine is perhaps the largest contributor to these chronic low-grade inflammatory diseases. Endotoxemia and immune hypersensitivity are two of the important contributors to difficult chronic disease states, including Metabolic Syndrome, diabetes, autoimmune disorder, and neurodegenerative disorders. Learning how to decrease or prevent this toxicity and the routes of entry into the bloodstream, whether the respiratory or gastrointestinal, often referred to as a 'leaky gut syndrome' can be invaluable. Complementary and Integrative Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine (CIM/TCM) can provide an array of therapies and health advice to achieve these goals. Both improving the homeostatic health of the GI tract and clearing the systemic effects of toxins and infection are important, and a persistent holistic treatment protocol is needed. CIM/TCM offers therapeutic protocols to improve all immune membrane defenses, to address immune dysfunction, and to treat the array of chronic diseases caused by bacteral endotoxins and lectins. There are no specific allopathic treatments to deal with the array of causes of low-grade inflammation, or the array of systemic consequences, and a complex and holistic approach is needed. Patient education and understanding is the first step to reversing this enormous health problem.

A natural toxin is a noxious or poisonous substance that is formed either as an integral part of a cell or tissue of microorganisms, plants, or animals, or as a toxic substance created by these cells (exotoxin). Toxins will stimulate an inflammatory response in our bodies. Endotoxins are most often parts of the membrane of normal bacteria, almost always gram negative bacteria, such as Nisseria, Escherichia coli (E. coli), Klebsellia, Pseudomonas, Enterobacter, and Salmonella. These gram negative bacteria have a doubled cell membrane with many lipopolysaccharides attached to the outer membrane, making them a more formidable microorganism to kill. The lipopolysaccaharides (LPS) are the chief endotoxins studied in relation to chronic low-grade inflammatory states and diseases in humans. Gram negative bacteria are more often antibiotic resistant than gram positive bacteria, and antibiotic therapy often leaves a colony of gram negative bacteria in abundance, and relatively dominant over gram positive bacteria. Since colonies of symbiotic microbes in our intestines (Biota) regulate their growth and balance, antibiotic use and overuse creates an imbalance that favors these gram negative bacteria, which may enter the blood circulation and bring endotoxins and unwanted chronic low-grade inflammatory responses to a wide variety of tissues. To adapt to membrane immune defenses many of these bacteria are Pleomorphic, or reduced in size and shape to evade immune filters and systems. Both bacterial endotoxins and Pleomorphic bacteria have been studied and found to be a significant cause of many chronic inflammatory states and diseases. Understanding this aspect of disease creation helps us to devise ways to better protect ourselves from the onset of these diseases. The section of this article entitled Additional Information provides links to numerous studies that offer proof of the efficacy of acupuncture and herbal medicine to counter these health threats. These are just a small portion of such scientific study, and with a complex health problem need to be applied intelligently and individualized within a more holistic protocol.

In 2016, researchers at the Harvard University School of Medicine released new findings that these low-grade bacterial infections may lie at the heart of the pathology of Alzheimer's disease, with bacterial endotoxins and Pleomorphic bacteria evading the blood brain barrier to enter the brain, especially as this membrane barrier ages, and stimulating a reaction of rapid growth of amyloid beta to inhibit the spread and growth of the microbial infection. Prior studies have shown that amyliod beta protein complexes are used throughout that body as part of the immune response, and that a slow 10-15 year accumulation of amyloid beta plaque leads to the neurodegeneration in the disease. The areas of the brain most affected, such as the hippocampus, are least protected from bacterial endotoxins and Pleomorphic bacteria. Dr. Robert D. Moir began this study to finally explain the formation of amyloid beta plaque, which had been assumed to be due to an unknown genetic defect. Dr. Moir noted that many studies have found that amyloid beta is used by the immune system to trap and contain the growth of many microbial infections, especially from the bloodstream, that are low-grade, and then the white blood cells are able to clear the infection. Dr. Rudolph Tanzi became involved and they found that in laboratory animals that these bacterial toxins stimulated a rapid growth of amyloid beta, especially in the hippocampus. Each plaque had a bacteria in the center. As stated, Pleomorphic bacteria are adapted to become smaller and simpler to penetrate membrane immune protections, and bacterial endotoxins are part of the bacterial membrane and survive even when the bacteria itself is destroyed. To clear and prevent these microbial infections we need to take a more holistic approach, both helping the immune system to clear low-grade microbial infections of many types, and to help clear the plaque after it is formed. Simply prescribing more antibiotics will do more harm than good.

There may be a strong relationship between imbalances of our Biota, the normally balanced bacterial colony that is symbiotic and working with us in a healthy manner, and the increasing incidence of food allergies and hypersensitivities, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Bacteria and other microbes utilize two basic types of toxins when they cause problems for our health, endotoxins (mainly lipopolysaccharides (LPS)), and exotoxins (mainly proteins). Our immune systems utilize a type of protein called a lectin to grasp polysaccharides, or complex sugars, to facilitate their excretion without their causing problems, and to facilitate targeting of complement immune chemicals to break them down. These protein lectins are also utilized by bacteria and other microbes that evolve ways to evade our immune responses. Individuals with food allergies and hypersensitivies become reactive to an array of proteins, mostly glutens and gliadins in grain seeds, dairy proteins, nuts and peanuts, and often these dysfunctions of the gastrointestinal tract are linked to a diet filled with complex disaccharides, or sugars, that are not natural in our diet, such as high fructose corn syrup, mannose, ribose etc. The link between gastrointestinal dysfunction, diet, biotic imbalances, immune dysfunction, and an array of difficult to understand chronic diseases is a complex subject. Each year science is gaining greater insight into this complex puzzle of ill health. We see that antibiotic overuse, processed foods, environmental chemicals, and a lack of attention to a healthy public dietary protocol has led us to the brink of a crisis in problems related to chronic inflammatory stress, digestive problems, autoimmune disorders, and neuroimmune dysfunctions such as chronic fatigue syndromes. Patients and physicians may utilize current research, specific herbal chemicals, nutrient medicines, and even acupuncture to correct these problems and bring the body back to a healthy homeostasis. Patient education and awareness is the first, and perhaps the most important step in this process.

In recent years, the subject of lectins is being used to promote the Paleo Diet and discourage consumption of whole grains and beans. A simple amount of research shows, though, that lectins are not confined to grains and beans, but are found in most of the food that we eat, and in fact are produced by the human organism as part of an early evolved immune system that is still important to us, even though it is poorly understood. While some lectins in foods may accumulate and cause allergic reactions, agglutination (clumping) of red blood cells (contributing to anemia), and toxicity, other lectins have been proven useful, even in anticancer and antibacterial effects. Many lectins are not bound to carbohydrates, either, and simple strategies of avoidance of whole grains and beans will not stop all pathological problems related to lectins. Better strategies involve improving the gut and immune health to protect against lectin accumulation, allergic reactions and toxicity. Adopting simple binary opinions to solve problems such as immune health and chronic low-grade inflammation is attractive, but this is not sensible. Such explanations are clearly intended to sell things, and no matter what diet one chooses, it will not be a panacea. Changing one's diet to adopt a healthier choice of foods and food quality is very important and will always have a positive effect, but the claim that all lectins are disease causing is ridiculous, and that all humans in the Paleolithic era, or Stone Age, ate the same diet is absurd. In fact, we now know from objective evidence that there were a number of human species on the planet during this very long time period, and recent advances in genetic decoding have shown us finally that groups of humans during this period ate an incredible variety of type of diet, depending on their environment and the food that was available. If anything, human diet in the Paleolithic era was defined by adaptation, not uniformity.

Other routes of entry of bacterial endotoxins include the respiratory system, and here too we have many studies documenting the increased measurement of bacterial endotoxins and onset of disease, although these respiratory diseases are often associated with an increase in fungal growth as the endotoxicity increases and causes inflammation on the respiratory membranes. Dampness in the walls of homes and businesses has been shown to be responsible for a larger percentage of cases of asthma and allergic rhinitis, and typically we have blamed mold and mildew, which can be a big problem. In many studied cases, though, the damp environment has resulted not in a toxic mold and mildew in the air, but rather in an increase in growth in bacteria and fungi in the dust, and subsequently in the minute dust mites that thrive in a damp environment and like to feed on fresh flaked skin, a source of much of the dust that we see. Studies have shown that a rise in the endotoxin exposure is often correlated with the rise in fungal exposure for patients with chronic inflammatory respiratory disease. Enhancing the immune ability to counter this endotoxin exposure from dust mites is as important as avoidance of the damp environment and dust.

A growing segment of the population is afflicted with complex disorders that are related to chronic low-grade bacterial infection, with gastrointestinal disorders, metabolic diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases, and even neuroimmune syndromes linked to toxicities that may originate with improper immune defenses against bacterial overgrowths and other microbial excesses in our bodies. Standard medicine, with the specificity of the allopathic approach, has failed to address these complex and often common disease mechanisms. Holistic medicine presents a sensible approach to complex health disorders, restoring homeostatic mechanisms to allow our own body's complex evolved defenses to correct themselves. Herbal and nutrient chemicals, probiotics, and even acupuncture, combined with targeted dietary and lifestyle protocols, provide an intelligent and thoughtful holistic protocol to correct health problems that may be linked to endotoxins, exotoxins, lectins, and gastrointestinal dysfunction. With difficult health problems a thoughtful step-by-step approach is needed, and patient understanding is the key to success.

The history of antibiotic use explains how standard medical practice (iatrogenic) has created both an imbalance of gram-negative bacteria in the population, and an alarming degree of antibiotic resistance in the normal bacterial colony of our intestinal tract. Gram-positive bacteria, especially staphylococci and streptococci, have been responsible for a significant portion of all human bacterial infections, and the first antibiotic pharmaceutical, penicillin, discovered in 1929 and made generally available in 1946, effectively stimulated a dramatic immune response to these gram positive bacteria. Finding safe and effective antibiotics to counter gram-negative infection has been more problematic, but streptomycin, tetracycline, sulfa drugs and chloramphenicol were developed in the 1950s and 60s to counter gram-negative bacterial infections as well. Overuse of these antibiotics has resulted in a growing percentage of antibiotic resistant strains of gram-negative bacteria, though. Finding new types of antibiotics has been difficult, and one of the only effective second generation fluoroguinones, or chemotoxic antibiotics, that was considered safe, has been ciprofloxacin, or Cipro. Due to the problems created by overuse of prior antibiotics, Cipro became widely prescribed, and was the eleventh most prescribed drug in the U.S. in 1999, despite FDA warnings of adverse side effects and guidelines that recommended that Cipro and other fluoroguinones be used only as an antibiotic of last resort. By 2002, fluroquinones became the class of drugs most prescribed in the U.S. Unfortunately, this has only further exacerbated the growing problem of widespread antibiotic resistance in strains of both virulent and nonvirulent bacteria. By 2012, worldwide, we see a dramatic rise in virulent bacteria with acquired resistance to fluoroquinones.

Of course, when a persistent or unusual infection occurs, the quickest and easiest response for a medical doctor is to prescribe a fluoroquinone antibiotic, usually not questioned by the patient. The most common fluoroquinone antibiotics are ciprofloxacin (Cipro), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox or Vigamox), and ofloxacin (Floxin, Oxaldin, Tarivid), but this class of chemotoxic drugs has grown enormously, despite the many warnings and lawsuits. Some of the fluoroquinones have been removed from the market, such as gatifloxacin (Tequin) in 2006. Reports of blood sugar rises and some fatalities prompted the consideration of removal from the market. The incidence of achilles and other tendon ruptures seen as a consequence of these drugs only highlights the complex problems associated with use. Serious side effects, such as racing heart, palpitations, irregular heart beat, light-headedness, tremors and seizures, numbness and other peripheral neurological dysesthesias, skin rash, and diarrhea are reported fairly frequently, with reports to the emergency room. Less serious side effects of nausea, stomach or abdominal pain, confusion, restless insomnia, vaginal discharge, headache, and easy sunburn occur with a fairly high incidence as well. In 2008, the U.S. FDA issued a statement that confirmed that Tequin and other gatifloxacins were withdrawn from the market for reasons of safety and poor effectiveness. The prescription of these fourth generation fluoroquinones continues unabated under other brand names with little consideration for these adverse effects other than limiting the course of the drug to 10 days or so, despite the 1999 FDA warnings that fluoroquinones be used only as an antibiotic of last resort. Use of herbal antibiotics is still not considered, despite this growing problem of antibiotic resistance and alarming adverse effects.

Evidence of antibiotic resistance and the mechanism by which antibiotics may lead to a weakened immune system and chronic inflammatory states was known as far back as 1989. A study by the University of Tennessee and the Federal Health Institute of Germany, published in Infection and Immunity, Jan 1990: 197-204, revealed that treatment of Staphylococcus aureus with Clindamycin resulted in a thickened inner wall, or membrane, around many of these bacteria. You will recall that the problem with gram negative bacteria is the double wall membrane, perhaps amplifying this effect. When this occurred in the Staphylococcus, these circulating bacteria were more difficult for the cellular immune system to destroy, and Staph bacteria in the bone marrow survived phagocytosis for a prolonged period of time. Eventually, the macrophages in the bone marrow would die and still contain the intact thickened inner wall of these bacteria, the site of endotoxins. The authors wrote: "From the therapeutic point of view, the reduced degradability of staphylococcal cell walls after clindamycin treatment must be taken seriously, because undegradable wall material set free from dead phagocytes is known to be re-ingested by other phagocytes, which would result in another unsuccessful attempt at wall digestion and which, at the same time, would weaken the overall defensive force of the cellular immune system. Moreover, such undegradable wall material is considered to induce chronic inflammatory processes like some type of arthritis owing to being deposited in joint regions." Since bacterial endotoxins are found within these cell walls, it may be surmised that chronic disease invoked by deep low-grade infections and endotoxins may result from antibiotic therapy. In addition, Pleomorphic Bacteria, or bacteria whose shape and size is altered by environmental factors or drugs, have been commonly identified in healthy human blood since the technology of dark-field microscopy and PCR analysis, and most of these minute altered bacteria have double membranes. Experts at McGill University (cited in Addtional Information) also revealed in a 2002 study that such Pleomorphic Bacteria were identified in 1969 in Japan, and associated with altering red blood cells detrimentally.

The continuing advance of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, which almost outnumber the bacterial strains still affected by antibiotics now, and the results of antibiotic overuse on the balance of bacteria in the intestine, has resulted in a growing problem of low grade bacterial endotoxemia when normal intestinal membrane protections are broken down. Low grade bacterial endotoxemia is not technically an infection, but presents a difficult problem for humans due to its ability to promote chronic inflammatory conditions. In addition, low-grade endotoxemia presents a significant risk for patients during surgery, and with more severe injury and disease. Endotoxemia can induce sepsis, or systemic immune response to bacterial infection, which is among the leading causes of death in noncardiac intensive care units, as well as a significant and common risk during cardiac surgery. Approximately 750,000 cases of endotoxemia are reported yearly in intensive care units in the U.S. and up to 200,000 deaths per year are attributed to sepsis. It has even been suggested that increased use of antibiotics is perhaps a way to reduce the threat of low grade gram negative bacterial endotoxemia. Increased use of problematic antibiotic drugs is not the sensible solution to low grade inflammation and endotoxin-induced inflammatory responses, and in a large sense may be the most important factor that has increased the problem of low grade inflammation and endotoxemia.

Complementary and Integrative Medicine to Prevent and Treat Chronic Inflammation

Complementary and Integrative Medicine, especially herbal medicine, presents the public with many solutions to low grade inflammatory health problems and the problem of endotoxins. The most studied and developed herbal science in the world is Chinese Herbal Medicine, utilizing complex formulas of herbs to create more effective holistic responses in the body. The integration of acupuncture stimulation and nutrient medicine also increases the effectiveness of herbal formula to create a thorough and holistic response in the body to more completely resolve health problems such as low-grade inflammation from endotoxins. This health problem is created not just by introduction of specific bacteria into the body, but by the breakdown of our natural immune defenses that allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream, by the deficiency of our immune responses to circulating bacteria, and by the creation of evolved antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria that have altered the normal colony of symbiotic bacteria in our intestinal tract. The immune system is extremely complicated in the human organism, and the ability to balance immune inflammatory responses that result from deep low-grade infections and endotoxin reactions may also be negatively affected by an array of health problems and stressors. A thorough and holistic assessment and treatment protocol needs to be individually tailored to successfully treat these chronic inflammatory conditions.

Research has now documented the effectiveness of Chinese Herbal Medicine in exerting potent inhibition of endotoxicity, often in a surprisingly modulating manner that is safe, specific and effective. Some of this amazing research is cited with links below in additional information. Herbal medicine, nutrient medicine, and acupuncture provide an array of potent benefits proven in research, though, to comprehensively treat this threatening health problem. Not only inhibition of the inflammatory dysfunctions created by endotoxicity, but improvement in intestinal membrane immune health, healing of the intestinal inflammation that creates portals for the systemic spread of endotoxins, and restoration of the important balance of the microbial colony, or microbiota, in the intestines is achieved with a comprehensive holistic protocol in TCM. Only when this array of homeostatic mechanisms is restored is one safe from endotoxins and their long-reaching negative health effects.

Antibiotic treatment for deep low-grade bacterial endotoxicity is not a sensible or effective approach. Today, at least 70 percent of the bacteria that cause infections in hospitals are resistant to at least one of the drugs most commonly used for treatment, and an increasing number of bacterial strains are resistant to all approved antibiotics. In a recent study, 50 percent of cases of bacterial pneumonia were shown to be antibiotic resistant, presenting an increasingly dangerous threat to the population. The cause for this enormous public health threat is the gross overuse of antibiotics promoted for profit, not public health concerns. In 1998, 80 million prescriptions of antibiotics for human use were filled, most of them prescribed for viral infections, for which they have no actual effect. Added to this was the use of antibiotics in corporate growing of meat, which accounted for 60 percent of the total antibiotics sold. This equals 30,500 tons of antibiotics in the environment in one year. As this practice continues, the amount of accumulated antibiotic in the U.S. environment is indeed staggering. The individual needs to realize that this creation of antibiotic resistant bacterial strains effects them even when they do not personally take antibiotics. He or she also needs to realize that creation of antibiotic strains of gram negative bacteria common to the human organism, and an integral part of our intestinal tract, important to maintain our health, is presenting a significant health threat due to the evolving of bacterial strains that increasingly create low grade inflammatory conditions when they penetrate the intestinal barrier and stimulate endotoxin responses.

The study of human intestinal microbial colonies, commonly called gut flora and fauna, has produced some surprising information. More than 100 trillion microbial cells exist in the human body, outnumbering the human animal cells by 10 times. We are more bacterial than mammal. The majority of these microbes, mostly bacteria, exist in the gut, or intestinal tract. These normal symbiotic microbes are not invading or infectious, and in fact have a profound positive effect on physiology and nutrition, and are crucial to sustain human life. There are distinct types of microbial colonies in the human intestine, and recent worldwide studies indicate that there may be 3 distinct enterotypes of bacterial colony evolved in our intestines, with more than 1000 bacterial species currently identified making up these enterotypes. 75 bacterial species are common to more than 50 percent of human intestines and stomachs, and 57 percent of these common bacterial species are common to 90 percent of human guts. Obviously, we should be careful with antibacterial and antimicrobial medicine. How these complex microbial colonies have evolved into enterotypes is a mystery, but more than likely this is an intelligent reaction to the needs of the host type. This bacterial choice does not correlate to sex, race, ethnicity, geographical population, weight, or other common type of demographic classification, though, and probably is related to complex genetic information concerning the ability of the human to manufacture specific arrays of nutrient, hormonal, and immune molecules. These symbiotic bacteria create for us essential vitamins, amino acids, carbohydrates, enzymes, fatty acids, and other necessary chemicals, as well as digest and ferment much of our food to create the energy we need to function. They allow us to create valuable nutrient chemicals that we cannot produce in our animal cells, such as biotin, to utilize carbohydrates that are difficult to assimilate in our animal cells, such as pectin and sorbitol, and convert through fermentation of carbohydrates such as cellulose short chain fatty acids that are the building blocks of such important molecules as acetyl coenzyme A to create most of the energy in our cells from the citric acid cycle, and to form acetylcholine, the most important neurotransmitter in our bodies.

Many of us have an enterotype, called Enterotype 1, that is comprised of a high level of gram negative bacteria. These gram negative bacteria are generally antibiotic resistant today, especially to aminoglycosides, erythromycin and tetracyline. When individuals with this type of microbial colony take antibiotics, many of the bacteria that are not antibiotic resistant are destroyed, leaving an imbalanced colony of antibiotic resistant gram negative bacteria. The gut membrane is also maintained by a balanced array of microbes, supplying directly many important nutrients for the intestinal lining and immune health of this lining, and when this balance is disturbed, the health and function of the intestinal membrane barrier is negatively impacted. This increases the ability of these type of bacteria to enter the bloodstream, through both increased intestinal permeability, and decreased local immune health and function. When these gram negative bacteria enter the circulation and go to tissues that they were not meant to colonize, low-grade bacterial infections and endotoxin inflammatory responses result. Metabolic endotoxemia is positively correlated with inflammation, oxidative stress and increased infiltration of macrophage immune mediators.

The Array of Diseases and health problems associated with endotoxins

Endotoxins are bacterial toxins not separated from bacteria, but still part of the outer membrane of the microbe. These complex phospholipid-polysaccharide molecules are almost always associated with nonvirulent strains of gram negative bacteria that are symbiotic to the intestinal macrobiota, and so have been largely overlooked when exploring disease mechanisms. Nevertheless, they are increasingly implicated in a variety of chronic and difficult diseases that involve low-grade inflammatory responses. Endotoxins may induce TNF-alpha inflammatory responses (tumor necrosis factor alpha), and TNF-alpha is now implicated in a wide variety of difficult and chronic diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's Disease. Endotoxins may be implicated in common low-grade infections such as interstitial cystitis, an inflammatory condition of the bladder membrane that stimulates frequent and urgent urination. Endotoxin-induced lung injury, producing chronic inflammation as well as damage to the vascular endothelium, may be implicated in a number of chronic lung pathologies, and endotoxin-induced liver damage may be implicated in various chronic diseases such as Hepatitis C. The endotoxin-induced chronic inflammation in lung disorders may also be created by breathing in dust with gram negative bacteria, and a 1995 study at the University of Iowa (cited below) showed that workers at grain facilities exposed to dust with higher measures of endotoxin had a higher incidence of chronic cough, wheeze, chest tightness, and dyspnea.

Experts in this field of research, such as Michael H. Silverman MD, have found that bacterial endotoxin is associated with cancer, digestive system diseases, heart disease, respiratory disease, kidney disease, autoimmune disorders, infections, coronary artery disease, and complications with burns and cardiovascular surgery.

In the past, endotoxin-related diseases were only dealt with when serious sepsis or acute toxemia threatened the patient, but Dr. Silverman has found that these conditions of acute threat are usually formed over time with exposure to endotoxins and the inability of the body to clear these toxins and curb the inflammatory mechanisms that they create. The host immune system is usually stressed and becomes dyfunctional, allowing an acute case of endotoxin-induced sepsis or toxemia to occur. Host immune cytokines, such as TNF-alpha, IL-1, IL-6, and IL-8 are usually expressed locally in inflammatory conditions, but with endotoxemia may be expressed systemically. Cardiovascular health may be impacted because endotoxin is the most potent known exogenous activator of the coagulation system. By creating an immune cytokine and complement reaction, endotoxin may convert the normally beneficial coagulation system into a pathological cascade. The host may respond to endotoxin by increasing the release of nitric oxide as well, which is a potent vasodilator, resulting in hypotension.

A variety of autoimmune disorders seem to be linked to endotoxins as well. Certain chronic inflammatory conditions, such as uveitis, or inflammation of the middle layer of the eye, is seen in a variety of autoimmune disorders, such as Reiter's syndrome, Behcet's disease, juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, sarcoidosis, and inflammatory bowel disease. A number of scientific studies (cited below) indicate that this eye disease is caused by endotoxins, which could be linked to the pathology of these various autoimmune disorders as well. Since endotoxins are considered a relatively weak toxin, they have been dismissed in the past as a major concern, but are now emerging as a potential explanation for difficult diseases that have eluded explanation. Low-grade bacterial infections and endotoxin has been shown to trigger changes in the TH1 profile, or T helper cell type 1, a sub-group of lymphocytes, or white blood cells. The imbalance between the TH1 and TH2 cells is now the focus of research in discovery of the elusive mechanisms in autoimmune disorders that are common to the population and elude effective therapy. The TH1 plays an essential role in immune complement reactions, stimulating activity of the Memory T Cells, interferon gamma, and IL-2, and acts as a major producer of TNF-beta.

A 2016 multicenter study led by experts at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. and the Aalto University School of Medicine, in Finland found that autoimmune diseases were more prevalent in Finland and Norther Europe because of the species of bacteria that dominated here. The Bacteroides species dominated over the more common gut bacterial species Escherichia (E. coli) and produced an endotoxin LPS that could actually inhibit innate immune signaling and endotoxin tolerance. The Hygiene Hypothesis was used to explain the high incidence of autoimmune disorder related to bacterial endotoxins, with decreased exposure to normal bacterial as well as increased use of antibiotics in infants leading to diminished immune responses of both the host and the Biome. To see this study, just click here: . A 2009 study at Stockholm University, in Sweden, found that infants with lower levels of IgA antibodies in their saliva were much more likely to develop allergic symptoms, and the colonization of the whole microbial Biome, from the mouth to the intestines was clearly related to lowered membrane antibodies when early infant colonization with Bacteroides fragilis dominant over protective symbiotic species of bacteria occurred (PMID: 19735274). Bacteroides is a gram-negative bacterial species, and antibiotic technology has offered us the chance to inhibit acute and threatening infections, but antibiotic overuse has led to a dominance of such gram-negative bacteria in our membranes and more antibiotic resistance developed by gram-negative bacteria due to their double membranes. As explained, these strong double membranes are not efficiently attacked by antibiotic stimulated responses, and the membranes are often not efficiently broken down and eliminated, exposing us to their endotoxin LPS. Bacteroides fragilis is also anaerobic (does not need oxygen), and some studies have found that B. fragilis is involved in up to 90 percent of peritoneal infections but makes up only 0.5 percent of the bacterial casks in fecal studies, mainly due to these bacterial endotoxins. We clearly see that this problem is hard to diagnose but has strong negative health implications for future health, and will not be effectively treated with antibiotics, especially with the increasing levels of antibiotic resistant strains of the Bacteroides species. As more scientific study of herbal medicines is published, we are seeing that common Chinese herbs used to treat overgrowth of bacteria and parasitic overgrowth are effective against species such as Bacteroides fragilis. Galla Rhois Chinensis, or Wu bei zi, is one example, used traditionally to clear toxins and strengthen the intestines and lungs. This herb is formed by aphids on the leaf of the Sumac, and is rich in tannins, and has been proven to have strong antioxidant and neuroprotective effects as well (PMID: 22945153). A study in 1998 at the Seoul National University, South Korea, showed that Wu bei zi was growth inhibitive of a number of pathological bacteria, including Bacteroides fragilis, Clostridium perfringens and paraputrificum, and E. coli, while not affecting the normal symbiotic bacteria in the Biome, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacterium. To see this study, just click here: . In time, we shall see more and more such studies proving that the common herbal formulas in TCM are indeed effective to counter such threats, are safe, and improved guidelines and formulary will be developed to assure maximum potential and safety.

Treatment protocols to eliminate low-grade bacterial infections and endotoxin inflammatory responses in the body

Reducing the gut microbial colony with antibiotics is not a sensible approach to reducing bacterial endotoxin induced low-grade inflammation. Maintaining a healthy balance of natural flora and fauna is the healthiest approach, utilizing herbal medicines and probiotics, and maintaining the health of the intestinal membrane and its immune barrier, may be the single most important treatment consideration with many chronic diseases associated with endotoxins and low-grade inflammatory states.

Probiotics are limited to just a few strains of bacteria at this time, though, and as mentioned, we have identified over 1000 bacterial strains that are part of the healthy human biota. Nevertheless, research continues to discover microbiota that could control intestinal permeability, which is the most important factor in allowance of metabolic endotoxemia, and endotoxemia-induced metabolic disorders, to occur. Bifidobacteria are a type of probiotic that has been shown to improve the health of the intestinal membrane and decrease intestinal permeability. Prebiotics increase the number of bifidobacteria, and are a proven benefit in this regard as well. These should be included in all probiotic formulas. The quality and content of probiotic formulas is all important, and improved health and microbial balance allows these probiotics to colonize. Other measures that scientific study has identified that affect endotoxin in circulation include high fat diets, oxidative stress, and various aids to intestinal membrane health. Adopting a healthier diet, eating less meat fats, avoiding meats grown in corporate meat production, and taking an individually tailored array of herbal and nutrient medicines to improve intestinal membrane health will help to restore the natural immune protections in the intestinal sytem.

There are many mechanisms of disease associated with bacterial endotoxins. Dysfunction of the complement immune response, with an imbalance of the T-helper cytokine responses is most important. When this occurs, proinflammatory immune cytokines dominate and create chronic inflammatory disease and autoimmune reactivity. Bacterial endotoxin stimulates TNF-alpha inflammatory response, and there are a number of protocols that are found useful to reduce the blood plasma concentration of TNF-alpha induced by bacterial endotoxins. A study (cited below in additional information) at the Copenhagen Muscle Research Center at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, in 2003, injected subjects with E. coli endotoxin to measure the TNF-alpha responses, and see what effect aerobic excercise, and infusion of the cytokine IL-6 (interleukin 6), had on the TNF-alpha levels. The endotoxin infusion approximately doubled the TNF-alpha in blood plasma, but subjects that engaged in a long period of cycling showed only a modest rise in TNF-alpha in response to endotoxin. Infusion of IL-6 into the blood produced a decrease in TNF-alpha, and when the endotoxin was induced, a very modest increase in plasma TNF-alpha. Adopting healthier lifestyles, daily health maintenance, and stimulating improved immune responses with herbs and acupuncture will greatly reduce the negative effects of low-grade inflammatory responses to endotoxin.

TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor alpha) is an inflammatory cytokine, or immune cell-signaling protein, that serves a wide array of functions in the body, many beneficial, but overproduction of TNF-alpha is associated with a wide variety of chronic inflammatory diseases, and T-helper cell imbalance, which perpetuates many autoimmune reactions. Low levels of TNF-alpha in the body are needed for our health, inducing inflammatory processes that protect us, and maintaining homeostatic mechanisms such as regulation of the circadian rhythms. While many cells produce TNF-alpha, the macrophage is a key producer. Macrophages are white blood cells that phagocytose, or eat, invading microbes, antigens, and other foreign material, and are predominant in our membrane immune systems, as well as being central to red blood cell production. Macrophages are involved in the initial response to virulent bacteria, and when they are unable to destroy bacteria with thickened membranes, carry these endotoxin producing bacterial membranes throughout the body, with overstimulation of TNF-alpha. TNF-alpha also exerts anti-tumor effects, which are lost when TNF-alpha remains in the body for a long time. Adverse chronic effects of TNF-alpha include insulin resistance, lipid depletion, increased breakdown of proteins (catabolism), cardiovascular inflammation, enhanced rates of cancer metastasis, increased stress of the liver and spleen, weight loss in COPD, and pathological endothelial activation, stimulating MAPK and NF-kbeta inflammatory cell signaling. TNF-alpha is a key inflammatory cytokine in diabetes, Rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, cancers, AIDS, malaria, meningitis, Crohn's disease, colitis, and many other diseases.

Today, much scientific research has uncovered the proof that specific herbal chemicals reduce TNF-alpha and IL-1beta production that is induced by the immune reactions stimulated by endotoxins. A study at Tianjin University in China, published in Neuroscience in 2011, and cited on the NIH website PubMed, shows that the herbal chemical Scutellarin from the Chinese herb Erigeron breviscapus (Deng zhan hua), inhibited endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced production of TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, nitric oxide, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in brain cell microglia, significantly reducing neurotoxicity. This is but one of many specific studies elucidating the effects of herbal chemicals to treat these endotoxin disorders. To see this study, click here: Scutellarin is an herbal chemical found in Scutellaria barbata and lateriflora (Ban zhi lian) as well. Such specific studies give professional TCM herbalists (Licensed Acupuncturists) the tools to devise increasingly effective therapeutic protocols.

Bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharides (LPS) are known to activate macrophages in chronic low-grade infections, and until recently we thought that there was only one type of macrophage, which stimulated inflammatory responses and destruction of the extracellular matrix (ECM). We now know that there are number of types of macrophage phenotypes (different set of characteristics resulting from the interaction of the gene or epigene with the environment), with the classic macrophage exhibiting a Th1 (T helper cell type 1) set of effects, with inflammation, breakdown of the ECM, and inducing of cell apoptosis, but other types of macrophages that producing a Th2 set of effects, such as resolving of inflammatory effects, promoting reconstruction of the ECM, cell proliferation, and angiogenesis. The imbalance of the Th1 and Th2 in the body in a chronic manner is a hallmark of most autoimmune reactions, and we see that the pathology induced by chronic bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharides could be involved in these pathologies, as well as the changes in immune responses seen in the stages of autoimmune diseases, with the Th1 dominance changing to a Th2 dominance. Obviously, this makes these diseases difficult to treat, and demands a changing set of therapeutic protocols, not just a single medicine. Antibiotics, corticosteroids and immune suppressing drugs will have an effect, but will not address the whole set of changing and variable dysfunctions.

More and more therapeutic protocols in CIM/TCM are being studied and found to provide proven benefits in countering endotoxins. Studies in Japan (cited below in Additional Information) showed that with endotoxin-induced liver damage, treatment with CoQ10 and alpha-tocopherol (a type of Vitamin E), restored liver health and function significantly. Various antioxidant strategies may improve the health of patients with chronic low-grade inflammatory conditions induced by endotoxins, and such studies as these demonstrated how these antioxidants would work. Resveratrol, an herbal chemical extracted from the Chinese herb Polygonum cuspidatum (Hu zhang), has been now heavily researched even in the United States, and a concentrated extract utilizing the trans-resveratrol isomer, has been proven to reduce the endotoxin lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced neuroinflammatory responses from macrophages and in brain cell microglia, reducing TNF-alpha and nitric oxide production. To see such as study, performed at the National Cancer Institute at Frederick, Maryland, USA, in coordination with Medical Colleges in China, click here: Combining a professional quality resveratrol supplement, CoQ10-H2 or enhanced C0Q10 with mixed tocopherols, and various Chinese herbs (e.g. Huang qin, Huang lian, Hou pou, Ku shen, Cordyceps), provides a treatment protocol that will significantly reverse endotoxin low-grade inflammatory responses and protect the patient from further damage, and possibly reverse chronic neurodegenerative and other diseases associated with this endotoxin-induced pathological response. Studies citing these herbal effects are cited below in Additional Information with links to study summaries.

Another emerging treatment protocol that may help correct the intestinal immune dysfunctions associated with endotoxins is the use of a formula to bind and eliminate accumulation of lectins. Lectins are proteins that are common to most living organisms, both plant and animal, that serve an important immune function by binding to complex sugar molecules, attaching to mold, fungi, and parasitic microbes, and helping to bind and eliminate these problematic and sometimes disease-causing entities. Lectins are proteins that strongly bind to carbohydrates. In scientific research, these difficult to digest proteins are given the name "sticky proteins". Since gluten is a complex involving sticky, or 'glutinous', proteins bound to sugars and fats, there has of course been an association, but there is no real equivalence between lectins and gluten. However, avoidance of gluten in the diet may result in a decrease in consumption of problematic lectins, and explain why patients who do not have celiac disease, or apparent gluten allergy, do seem to relieve some symptoms and feel better when avoiding foods with gluten. By avoiding complex glutinous foods, we take stress off of a digestive system that is having a functional problem with normal digestion and elimination. Since many microbes have evolved types of lectin proteins that confuse the human immune response, adapting to the host immune defenses, lectins have emerged as a possible explanation for chronic diseases associated with parasitic microbes, or low-grade infection. Human immune cells express lectins as well, to help modulate immune responses, as well as bind to lipopolysaccharide endotoxins. With poor health of the gastrointestinal tract, and a diet with an excess of difficult sugars, or disaccharides, excess of lectins in the intestinal tract, immune reactivity to lectins, and even systemic reactivity to lectins that enter the blood circulation via unhealthy gut membranes, called the "leaky gut syndrome", present a variety of ways that lectins and human reactivity to lectins could play an important role in many of the difficult to diagnose chronic diseases that cause indigestion, fatigue, joint stiffness, respiratory symptoms, skin problems, and central nervous system pathologies. Lectins in blood circulation may agglutinate blood cells, or cause blood cell clumping. This may impair circulation at the capillary beds of joints, may result in dysfunction of blood cells, and may cause an excess white blood cell response that can contribute to autoimmune pathology. There is a need to improve the gut membrane and immune health, and adopting a diet that avoids certain types of healthy and nutritious food will not be the complete answer to this dilemma. We need to restore health and function as well as avoid problematic foods for a period of time until we achieve this health restoration.

Research has uncovered a number of nutrient and herbal chemicals that may attract and bind to excess lectins in the intestinal tract, helping one to eliminate these problematic proteins that are difficult to digest, and may interfere with host immune function. Such chemicals as N-acetyl glucosamine, D-mannose, sodium alginate, and mucin, as well as extracts from okra, bladderwrack seaweed (Fucus vesiculosus), and other herbs, are combined to lock onto and help eliminate various types of problematic lectins. Lectins are not only associated with chronic parasitic microbes and food sensitivities, but are implicated in excess antibody responses, activation of insulin receptors and contribution of metabolic syndromes, resistance to leptin, and dysfunction at the CCK receptors (cholecystokinin). A variety of lectin proteins are involved in host immune defenses, not only for us, but for the plants and animals that we eat, and the microbes that may either be symbiotic, or create infection. For example, research shows that surfactant proteins in our respiratory tract function as host defense lectins and play an important role in innate immune responses that bind to the immune cell marker CD14, a key immune molecule that functions to recognize receptors on a broad array of pathogens, recognizing the endotoxins, or lipopolysaccharides, especially in gram-negative bacteria. Excess lectins in the intestinal membranes or blood circulation may interfere with these CD14 functions, creating greater risk of pathogens evading the host immune defenses. The array of ways that lectins may be involved in immune dysfunction makes this a complicated subject to clearly link specific diseases to lectin excess, but does explain many cases of chronic autoimmune pathologies, chronic fatigue syndromes, etc. that we have had a difficult time diagnosing. This type of treatment adds a safe and potentially effective addition to the holistic treatment protocol in Complementary Medicine.

Lectins are an incredibly diverse group of proteins, produced by all organisms, and cannot by defined by a simplified characterization. Scientists now believe that lectins play an important role in what is called the alternate complement system of our immune responses. The main immune complement system is made up of 18 plasma proteins that are sequentially activated, called the C1, C2, C3, etc. These C-proteins react with the antigen-antibody complex (antibody immunoglobulins, IgA, IgG, IgE etc.). It is now believed that a complement immune response that preceded this system still exists, but is less specific. This alternate immune pathway is activated by endotoxins and bacterial polysaccharides, IgA, IgE, IgG4, inulin and zymosan. Stimulation of this alternate complement immune response results in the production of serotonin, histamine, and bradykinin, allowing increased membrane permeability and migration of white blood cells, and stimulate inflammatory responses. When immunoglobulins reactive with endotoxins, Candida or other fungi, allergens and lectins, clump, or aggregate, though, this system may not function properly. Lectins are believed to be the main culprit as a cause of this clumping of antibodies and other cells, potentially causing an autoimmune response. Excess expression of lectins may perpetuate allergen responses by inhibiting the modulating control of allergic responses. While the subject of lectins and chronic diseases is complex and still poorly understood, the amount of understanding that we do have at present points to lectins as a likely explanation of many disease mechanisms that we still have trouble explaining. Types of lectins produced by human cells, such as galectins (lectins that bind to beta-galactoside sugars), are now linked to specific types of cancer, HIV, and autoimmune diseases, and are shown to be integral to complex regulation of cell apoptoss, T-cell receptor activation, cell adhesion, and RNA splicing.

Antibiotic overuse and the creation of antibiotic resistant bacteria

It has been universally recognized that antibiotic use in the United States has been overutilized, creating a crisis in health care, where many antibiotics are now ineffective due to the adaptation by bacteria, as well as the emergence of the antibiotic-resistant strains of common bacteria. About 100,000 people die each year from hospital-acquired infections caused by antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, and an increasing number of individuals are dying outside of the hospital from these types of bacterial infections. These figures should be a cause of great concern to the public, and they represent not just an enormous death toll, but also point to the huge number of people affected by these resistant bacterial strains that do not die, many of whom may recover and acquire such serious problems as autoimmune disorder later in life due to the deep bacterial infection. The U.S. Center for Disease Control, or CDC, has deemed this a serious threat to public health, and standard medicine has been slow to change its prescribing guidelines. For this reason, it is ethically imperative that the individual patient decides to use antibiotics only when necessary, and only for the effective therapeutic course, avoiding overuse, which may create adapted resistance by the bacteria. Complementary medicine offers some healthy alternatives and complements with herbal antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal chemical extracts that can be integrated into your health care when appropriate. Complementary Medicine also offers the patient effective means to prevent infection and improve the health of the immune system. To make this choice, the patient needs to know the facts:

Not only the widespread prescription of antibiotics, but also excessive prescription of other drugs to treat virulent diseases is causing a huge health crisis around the world. Eventually, this worldwide health problem will creep into the lives of many of us in the U.S. who are removed from such common problems as tuberculosis and malaria, as globalization and population shifts with immigration and travel bring these drug-resistant virulent diseases to our neighborhoods. Drug-resistant strains of microbes and viruses that cause TB, malaria, serious viral diseases, and even fungal disorders, such as candidiasis, are appearing in an accelerated manner that we need to be concerned with. The overprescription of pharmaceutical drugs is the reason for these drug-resistant strains of microbes and viruses, along with the enormous growth in the use of these drugs to treat the animals we grow for food on huge corporate farming and animal husbandry enterprises. Even the problem of inflammatory problems associated with Helicobacter pylori in the stomach is now significantly affected by the exponential growth in drug-resistant strains of H. pylori. A key part of the solution to this problem is the acceptance of Complementary and Integrative Medicine by the public and medical doctors to treat virulent diseases when appropriate, or to integrate these practices into standard care to reduce the dosage and course of the drug prescription. Even large animal feedlots could benefit from the incorporation of herbal and nutrient medicine into the care of their animals, instead of overuse of pharmaceutical antibiotics.

Besides the overuse of antibiotics by humans, a more significant threat is perhaps the overuse of antibiotics by large meat producers. The Union of Concerned Scientist, in 2001, estimated that 84% of all antibiotics used, or overused, in the United States were used in agriculture, and that 70% of these drugs were used simply to promote animal growth, not to treat infection. Even industry trade associations admit that an estimated 13% of antibiotics used in the raising of beef, pork and chicken were used solely to promote growth. The United States government has responded to the CDC reports of the threat to public health by antibiotic overuse by trying for over 30 years to restrict the overuse of antibiotics in the raising of meat animals in confinement, yet industry lobbying has continually killed these bills and laws. These facts are alarming in many ways. Not only are antibiotics being used in the water and animal feed, and creating widespread strains of antibiotic resistant bacteria, as well as potentially contaminating human water sources, but we see that the antibiotics are significantly affecting the animal hormonal regulations, such as growth factors, potentially posing more complicated health threats to humans that are taking too many antibiotics. A June 28, 2010 article in the New York Times outlines these issues: To better understand this complex problem and the implications of antibiotic use when unnecessary, read some of the facts:

The National Health Institutes (NIH) provides some data on the current antibiotic resistant microbe dilemma: The actual number of antibiotic resistant strains of microbial infection apply to many more common infections than these now. For instance, there is a significant prevalence of antibiotic resistance to the two most common bacterial middle ear infection agents.

Antibiotic Facts and a History of Warnings

  • An antibiotic is a substance derived from a bacterium or mold that inhibits the growth of other bacteria or microorganisms. Antibiotics have no effect on viruses or fungal infections. There are at least 10 types of antibiotics, and specific antibiotics are often needed to inhibit specific bacteria or other living pathogens. Common antibiotics are 'broad-spectrum', meaning that they may inhibit a variety of bacteria, but may not be effective for a specific bacterial infection. A simple culture, or sample, is taken and analyzed to make sure that the right antibiotic is matched to your infection. A 2001 meta-analysis of the standard protocol of prescribing antibiotics for viral bronchitis by the Cochrane medical database showed little benefit in clinical studies. This review can be accessed at: Use of the right antibiotic, for the right amount of time, and possibly combined with the synergistic effects of herbal antibacterial and antimicrobial chemicals, may be the protocol of the future, to both increase effectiveness for the patient and to minimize the risk of increasing drug-resistant strains in the individual and in the overall population.
  • Fluoroquinolones are antibiotics that produce adverse events and come with stronger warnings than any other class of antibiotics. In most cases, these adverse health events are mild to moderate, but black box warnings have been added to quinolone antibiotics regarding peripheral neuropathies, tendon damage (achilles tendon ruptures), heart problems (arrhythmias), colitis, accumulation of protein fragments leading to muscle degeneration, and negative interactions with ibuprofen and other NSAIDS. A 2007 FDA warning was added that stated: "Other serious and sometimes fatal events, some due to hypersensitivity, and some due to uncertain etiology, have been reported in patients receiving therapy with quinolones, including ciprofloxacin." Some of these serious events include liver failure or inflammation (hepatitis), Clostridium deficile associated disease, and pseudomembranous colitis. Other serious adverse events reported include bone marrow suppression (immunodeficiency and anemia), loss of vision, involuntary muscle movements (choreas), and eosinophilia (muscle pain, myofascial pain, neuropathy, paresthesias, fatique, arrhythmias, short term memory loss, neuralgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, scleroderma-like syndrome). When eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome affected three children in 1999 after consuming a supplement of L-tryptophan amino acid that was bacterially contaminated, all L-tryptophan sales were halted while the FDA investigated for about 10 years, but quinolone antibiotic prescription was hardly affected by incidence of eosinophilia linked to this antibiotic. Association of eosinophilia with ciprofloxacin use dates back to at least 1989 (Am J Med. 1989 Nov:87(5);589-90).
  • Sulfa drugs are called 'antibiotic' but are actually synthetic drugs that compete with bacteria for enzymes needed for the bacteria to reproduce. These drugs have many side effects and many people are thus 'allergic' to them. These side effects include anemia, urinary tract disorders, skin rash, neuropathy, nausea, anxiety, fast heart rate (tachycardia), constipation, and other autonomic disorders.
  • Studies for the last 30 years have shown that antibiotics have little or no effect after 8-12 days in general, but over-prescription decreases the effectiveness of the antibiotic for over 12 weeks, and increases the risk of drug-resistant strains. A study published in the British Medical Journal of 119 children hospitalized with acute respiratory infection showed that administration of amoxicillin more than tripled the average minimum inhibitory concentration effectiveness for the antibiotic, and more than doubled the incidence of drug-resistant strains of the bacteria in the patient, with effects lasting more than 3 months. This study can be seen at:, or by researching the BMJ 2007;335(7617:429(1 September) doi:10.1136/bmj.39274.647465.BE, (published 26, July, 2007)
  • Overuse of antibiotics taken orally will upset the symbiotic bacterial balance of the digestive tract, often causing overgrowth of fungi such as candida, as well as depleting many beneficial bacteria that produce necessary vitamins and other nutrients in our bodies. Overuse may also cause depletion of symbiotic bacteria in the urinary tract and vagina, causing urinary tract infections and yeast infections. Dangerous bacterial infections of the GI tract are also on the rise, such as Clostridium difficile infections that now bring nearly 400,000 patients to acute care facilities, and these are largely attributed to overuse of antibiotics, which temporarily wipe out the healthy bacteria in our digestive tracts and leave us more vulnerable to community infections. Read about this threat to public health in the New York Times, Science Times, by clicking on this web address:
  • Antibiotics do have side effects. Beside allergic reactions, antibiotics are known to cause nausea, diarrhea, dizziness and liver or kidney damage. Adverse effects on the central nervous system, cartilage damage, DNA damage, and formation of urinary and kidney stones have been increasingly studied in recent years. Use of concurrent antacid medications with fluoroquinolones has been a clinical concern.
  • A study with mice showed that doxycycline antibiotic could 'switch on' a gene called DMPK, causing overexpression of this gene resulting in irregular heartbeat, slow muscle wasting, insulin resistance and cataracts, as well as the inability to relax muscles. (Nature Genetics DOI:10.1038/ng1857, Sept 2006). The increase in incidence of insulin resistance diabetes or metabolic disorder may be linked to overuse of antibiotics to some extent.
  • Certain antibiotics have been associated with sudden tissue ruptures in tendons. The New York Times Sports Magazine, Sept. 2008, reports in an article on sports injury to the feet, that a course of Ciprofloxacin, or levofloxacin, a fluoroquinolone class antibiotic, was probably linked to a plantar fascia tear that ended the competition for a triathlete being interviewed. A study published in the British Journal Diabetic Medicine, Vol23, Dec2006, confirms the association of tendon rupture with Cipro use and discusses the pathology. Although quinolone-induced tendonopathy was noted as early as 1983, the FDA did not issue a warning until 1996, because medical doctors are reluctant to cite antibiotic use as a probable cause, resulting in severe under-reporting. Studies have implicated ischemic, toxic and matrix-degrading processes as the mechanisms involved, and implicated concurrent use of steroid therapies, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, magnesium deficiency, diuretic use and prior tendon pathology as potential cofactors. Researchers and doctors at the Mount Sinai Medical Center concluded that 'With the increasing use of levofloxacin and other quinolone antibiotics, we should expect to encounter a growing number of patients experiencing tendonopathy.' (The Journal of the Am Board of Family Practice 16:458-460, 2003)
  • Quinolone antibiotics (Cipro, Levaquin, Floxin, Tequin, Avelox, Factive, Noroxin) have been long noted for causing various neuropathies (Annals of Pharmacotherapy Dec 2001 Cohen), and in 2004, the FDA mandated new warnings on labels of quinolone antibiotics concerning peripheral neuropathies affecting both large and small nerve axons. In 2005, the Physicians Desk Reference (PDR) increased warnings that quinolone antibiotics may cause dizziness, confusion, tremors, hallucinations, depression, restlessness, anxiety, lightheadedness, paranoia, insomnia, nightmares, and increased risk of seizures. Other warnings include tendon ruptures and arrhythmias. Despite these risks of adverse events and serious health threats, the prescription of quinolone antibiotics has not been significantly reduced. Dr. Jay Cohen, a noted researcher of medication reactions, posts a website that provides documentation. Click here to link:

To be safe and minimize the risks to yourself, as well as to preserve public health for the future and stop the spread of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria, you should take antibiotics only when necessary and appropriate, and generally in short courses of less than 10 days. This means that you should generally not take antibiotics for viral illnesses such as the flu, common cold and viral lung infection. If the illness lingers, there is a possibility that a bacterial infection has occurred due to the inflamed tissue from the viral illness. In this case, a short course of antibiotics might be beneficial.

While it is tempting for the patient to jump to conclusions that persistent infections are the result of taking too short of a course of antibiotics, the real physiological story is usually much more complicated. There may be more than one strain of bacteria involved, and the antibiotic has helped to clear only some of the infectious strains of bacteria. There also may be a concurrent bacterial and viral infection, and symptoms of the bacteria infection may be cleared with proper antibiotics, but not the viral aspects. The patient that wants to take a more proactive approach with infections may want to let the medical experts explain the facts better rather than jumping to simplified conclusions. A patient wanting to take a more proactive role may inquire about specific testing and identification of the strains of bacteria so that the most specific antiobiotics are used. A patient may also take a more proactive approach by consulting a professional herbalist, such as a Licensed Acupuncturist, and take herbs to complement the antibiotic effects, as well as to provide antiviral effects not available in prescription drugs. Herbal medicine may also promote faster tissue healing, antioxidant effects to clear the debris when infection is clearing, and also to potentially prevent or treat the side effects of antibiotics.

Many herbs have strong antibiotic, antifungal and antiviral chemicals in them. Use of herbs to treat these infections is usually effective, and herbal formulas provide a broad spectrum of effects. Studies have shown that many herbal chemicals also potentiate the antibiotic pharmaceutical meds for greater effect. Herbal prescription is an effective alternative or complement to antibiotic use. Since certain herbs are also effective for certain infections, you should consult a professional to insure good results and the use of the right herbs and formulas for the specific infection. The Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) is usually a well trained herbologist, and has access to a long history of herbal antibiotic and immune supporting effects, as well as current research.

Lastly, the overuse of antibiotics by the meat producing industry is also a huge threat to public health, as evidenced by the NY Times article cited above. These antibiotics may linger in the meat tissue when eaten, overuse has spurred high incidence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains in these meat animals, and antibiotics are being dumped as waste into the waterways, consumed by animals in the wild as well as humans who drink this water. This is causing many health problems with the wild animal population and certain human populations. You may help stop this problem by eating only animal products, meat and dairy, that specify that antibiotics are not used, or by eating only local organic meat and dairy products. Range fed beef need very little antibiotic use and are helping to restore the environment of our grasslands. You may also protest this problem of antibiotic overuse by corporate feedlots to your congressman or senator to spur legislation to stop this unhealthy practice. Or you could minimize your meat consumption, which too is a popular health protocol that is proven to benefit overall health as well as prevent a host of serious problems. Many people are now consuming more fish and less beef to improve health, but this increased demand has spurred the industry to create massive fish farms that also utilize antibiotic overuse, as well as spread disease to the wild fish in our oceans that has probably decimated the Pacific salmon population. The concerned person will learn the facts and do what they can to counter this enormous problem. A food industry purely concerned with profit will not protect the public health.

Antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria

Overuse of antibiotics has created a health crisis affecting not only most hospitals, but now extending to the general population. The most publicized strain is referred to as MRSA, or methycillin-resistant staph aureus. Staphyloccus is a common strain of gram-negative bacteria that is always on our skin and membranes, but is involved in serious infections when it is not kept in check by the balance of bacteria, and by our immune systems. A number of Chinese herbs have already been identified as effective in countering MRSA, including Scutellaria barbata, or Ban zhi lian (Ethnopharmacology, 2000:72;483-488). The most studied active chemical in this herb is apigenin, which is also found in other Chinese herbs, such as Cassia occidentalis (Wang jiang nan seeds), and Selaginella tamarisina (Juan bai). The number of studies and effective herbs and herbal chemicals increases yearly for the effective treatment of the growing threat of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

A 2000 study by the Robert Gordon University School of Pharmacy, in Aberdeen, UK, found that the common Chinese herb Scutellaria baicalensis (Huang qin), or the variant Scutellaria amoena, containing the active chemical baicalin, was also effective in potentiating antibiotics against MRSA and beta-lactam-resistant Staph aureus, and in fact had the capability to restore the effectiveness of beta-lactam antibiotics against MRSA. A link to this study published in the Journal of Pharmaceutical Phamrmacology 2000 March;52(3):31-6, and posted on the NIH PubMed website (PMID: 10757427) is available by clicking here: These studies of the Scutellaria herbs in Chinese medicine, long used to counter bacterial infections and toxicity, imply that a number of traditional Chinese herbal medicines will help greatly to counter antibiotic-resistant strains of infectious pathological bacteria. These herbs act in a dose-dependant manner, and use should be supervised and guided by a professional for effectiveness, although the herb is much used, nontoxic, without contraindications in combination with pharmaceuticals, and very safe. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), these herbs are often used in a formula to increase effectiveness. Quality of the herb or herbal products is also very important, and the patient should rely on a professional herbalist and professional products, or even the raw herb decocted or in tincture, to insure that they are taking an effective version of the herb, as well as guidance with dosage.

Other herbs that have been studied and proven effective against MRSA include Turnera ulmifolia (ramgoat dashalong, a Brazilian herb), and research from China is expected to reveal a wealth of herbs and herbal strategies soon. Herbal formulas also are studied and found effective at promoting immune mechanisms to aid in treatment of resistant strains of bacteria. Such herbs as astragalus are well documented in this regard, and work by stimulating the inherent immune responses. The speed at which pathological bacteria are developing antibiotic resistance is alarming, even to the most skeptical. For instance, a 2015 study by the University of Greenland and the Staten Serum Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark, showed that in one study population in Nuuk, Greenland, that no Neisseria gonorrhoeae strains showed antibiotic resistance in treated patients in 2012, but by the end of 2014, 59 percent of these gonorrhoea cases showed infection with a Ciprofloxin-resistant strain of the bacteria (PMID: 25947877). The threat of antibiotic-resistant species of bacteria grown yearly and demands greater use of herbal medicines.

A wide variety of bacterial strains have developed antibiotic and drug resistance by 2010. The mechanisms of resistance usually involve either a binding protein inhibition or a chemical that inhibits the antibiotic itself, and thus a number of different types of antibiotic might be ineffective for a particular strain of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Viral infection remedies have also seen a quick adaptation to drug resistance, as well as some other common microbes, including candida fungi. The NIH has this short public website announcement: . One particular gram-positive bacteria of great concern is Listeria monocytogenes, an opportunistic food-borne pathogen both naturally resistant to antibiotics that normally target gram-negative bacteria, and now showing an alarming acquired resistance to many of the antibiotics used in GI infection. The chief antibiotic used against gram-positive bacterial infections, penicillin, derived from an herbal fungi, was overused long ago, resulting in resistance, and is now rarely used. Around the world, research has searched for new medicines to treat Listeria, and in 2015, study at the Dayananda Sagar Institute, in Bangalore, India, found that chemicals in medicinal cinnamons, or Cassia species, proved to be potent antibacterials against Listeria, as well as inhibitors of the chief pathological secretion pathway for Listeria, SecA1 and SecA2. The chemicals cinnamic aldehyde and others in alcohol extract reduced bacterial growth in medium, as well as cell aggregation (PMID: 25562366). The classic Chinese formula used in history to counter endemic infectious disease, Gui Zhi Tang, is based on the cinnamon Cassia Cinnamomi, and the Cassia seed, Jue Ming zi, is used to clear infection and unblock the bowels. Cinnamomum camphora, Cassia angustifolia leaf (Fan xie ye) are also commonly used in TCM therapy, the latter for constipation and bowel inflammation. Cinnamomum camphor, or Chang nao, is used to stop vomiting and relax GI muscle contraction, but generally well known for topical use to relieve heat swelling.

The American Society for Microbiology now lists herbs that are confirmed in scientific study to contain antimicrobial activity. This list can be reviewed by clicking here: http:/ In this list, which is still partial, since published scientific study of herbal medicine is a recent phenomena in the U.S. and Europe, a number of commonly prescribed herbs in TCM, as well as a number of commonly used native American herbal remedies are shown to have potent antibiotic effects. Even a number of common foods have been shown to have modest antimicrobial activity. Degree of toxicity is noted, as well as reference citations, but the degree of effectiveness is not listed here, and one needs to reference the actual studies, often listed now on PubMed database, or refer to phytochemical textbooks or databases, which the professional herbalist utilizes in practice.

Evidence that herbal medicine and acupuncture are effective to treat bacterial infection or support present therapies in a Complementary manner

A growing body of scientific evidence is convincing experts that herbal medicine may be the answer to overuse of antibiotics and the problem of drug resistant strains of bacteria (refer to informational resources below). The study of herbal chemicals has produced surprising results concerning the specificity of action of these chemicals and the safety. Plants have evolved a very complex response to bacterial infection over the millions of years, often with a modulatory response that is still not clearly explained by modern science. Scientists are finding that the full spectrum of chemicals in specific plants are also more effective than an isolated active chemical, and this points to the supposition that the plant had evolved more complex chemistry to protect it against unwanted effects, and insure that the antimicrobial antibacterial effects were triggered in a more effective and self-modulatory manner. This type of research is proving to be a potential boom for biochemical research in the future, as new ideas are generated in achieving improved effects and safety of pharmaceuticals.

Herbal medicine may be used to prevent bacterial infection as well as to treat it, either by itself, or combined with antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs. Herbal medicine and acupuncture may also be used to alleviate the side effects of these synthetic drugs or standard antibiotics. In addition, herbal prescription and acupuncture may be used to strengthen the immune system to help the natural defenses in an age of threatening drug-resistant strains of commone bacteria.

Many of the herbs studied show a dose-dependant effect, and the quality of the herbal product should always be questioned, especially in the United States, where the FDA still has not instituted regulations that protect the public against false labeling and product quality of herbal medicine and supplements. A professional herbalist insures that the dosage and quality is going to be efffective, and will monitor your case, adjusting the prescription as needed. The professional herbalist will also be able to prescribe the variety of herbs to achieve the full range of results described above, and to administer the herbs in the form of formulas that have a tested history and are based on sound theories of herbal formulation.

If you have any other questions concerning antibiotic use and herbal alternatives, feel free to discuss them with me.

Additional Information and Information Resources with Links to Scientific Studies

Below are some of the examples of current research proving the safety and efficacy of Chinese herbal medicines in the treatment of bacterial infections, including drug-resistant strains that are threatening our population. The actual database of such studies is enormous, with most of the study still unpublished by Western medical journals, but available to the TCM practitioner in clinical textbooks and herbal reference texts from China, Japan and Korea. What the patient needs to understand is that combinations of herbal chemicals provide the best resource to prevent, control and eliminate these bacterial endotoxins that perpetuate or contribute to chronic inflammatory disease.

  1. A 1998 study at the Brown University School of Medicine and the University of Iowa School of Medicine - Department of Preventive Medicine, found that in a study of 253 patients with a diagnosis of sepsis, or systemic inflammatory shock, that 78 percent had significantly higher levels of endotoxins in the blood, and 97 percent had significantly higher levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) binding proteins than control subjects. Such studies have clearly indicated that bacterial endotoxins and lipopolysaccharides from gram negative bacteria are integral to the subject of chronic or acute inflammatory states:
  2. A 2013 review of scientific study of low-grade inflammatory states, by experts at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, in Blacksburg, Virginia, U.S.A. notes that endotoxemia from low levels of gram-negative bacterial lipopolysaccharides (LPS) is indeed a key causative or perpetuating factor in many difficult chronic diseases, including Alzheimer's, diabetes and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and that this accumulative problem may worsen with aging, and leads to a state of immune pro-inflammatory imbalance:
  3. A 2005 study of endotoxins in dust mites in damp environments, by experts at the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, in Morgantown, West Virginia, U.S.A., showed that many cases of respiratory disease, such as asthma and allergic rhinitis, can be attributed to bacterial endotoxin exposure from dust mites, not only to toxic mold and mildew in the air, and that this endotoxin exposure is seen to be the cause of increased exposure to fungal infection as well:
  4. A consensus has occurred by 2013 that low-grade inflammation from endotoxemia is a key factor in the cause of insulin resistance, obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Here, a review of studies by a scientist at the pharmaceutical company Merck outlines the problem of low-grade endotoxemia, and while there will be much research and many pharmaceuticals introduced soon to treat these problems, they still will need an holistic and restorative approach to be successful, and preventive measures are most important:
  5. A 2002 study by the esteemed McGill University, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, provided the abundant research proof that Pleomorphic Bacteria (bacteria that alter their shape or size in response to environmental and drug triggers) are in fact commonly found in the blood of most humans, making the potential to evade antibiotics mechanism, immune responses, and membrane filters a greater threat. These Pleomorphic Bacteria thus create a larger threat concerning endotoxins and exotoxins causing or contributing to chronic disease:
  6. A 2010 study at the Tulane University School of Medicine, in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.A. showed that Pleomorphic Bacteria are clearly associated with idiopathic chronic inflammatory disease, collagen disease, lymphoproliferative disease, interstital cystitis, prostate pain, and cancers:
  7. An excellent overview of the science of endotoxins and lectins is available from Dr. Peter D'Adamo on his website. Dr. D'Adamo is a naturopathic teacher and researcher, and the author of the best-selling book, Eat Right for Your Type, an explanation of the science of individualized blood-type diet:
  8. An overview of the complex array of animal lectins is available here from the Imperial College of London:
  9. The complex and misunderstood realm of lectins is partly explained by experts at the Cornell University College of Agriculture, with an emphasis on distinguishing plant lectins that are toxic to animals. We see that such study dominated the field of study, and hence much information relates to grains, seeds, beans and legumes fed to farm animals, but that lectins are found in almost all plants, and produced in the animal, having a wide array of both beneficial and toxic uses:
  10. Modern study of lectins in relation to disease has been documented for a couple of decades at least. Here, a 1999 explanation by the allergist David J. Freed shows that while lectins are ubiquitous in food, some lectins have been shown to be toxic, and may accumulate in organ tissues if the human immune system is not capable of eliminating them. Besides the rare toxic lectins, many lectins may be linked to allergic reactions, though, and a healthier immune system and clearance of lectins is important to decrease dietary allergies:
  11. A 2007 study of diet and bacterial endotoxin levels, by experts at the University of Strathclyde and Edinburgh University, in the United Kingdom, showed that a high fat meal is directly associated with increase in blood endotoxin level. We have since seen that a modern diet with emphasis on meat, unhealthy fats and oils, and avoidance of fresh whole plant foods, including whole grains and legumes, contributes greatly to low-grade endotoxemia and chronic inflammatory dysfunction:
  12. A 2013 meta-review of scientific studies of the relationship between circulating low-grade bacterial endotoxins and colorectal cancer by experts at the University of Carolina Center for Gastrointestinal Biology and Disease, showed that low-grade endotoxemia in blood and related immune cytokines are linked strongly to colorectal cancers:
  13. A 2015 study of a specific lectin found in broccolini, at the South China University of Technology, in Guangzhou, China, showed that this lectin inhibited 5 bacterial species and 3 cancer cell types, and could be a useful medicine. The hemagglutinating activity of the lectin was higher in alkaline and higher calcium concentration solutions:
  14. A 2015 study in China of a particular lectin in green lentils showed that the distinct characteristics of this food lectin inhibited nasopharyngeal cancer cell lines, showing the positive side of healthy food lectins in grains and seeds. Much study in recent years has explored the pathogenic potential of grain and seed lectins, leading to widespread avoidance of wheat and grain, but is not substantiated by controlled studies yet:
  15. A 2013 study at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, in China, showed that a specific lectin from the Dioscorea species (wild mountain yam, called Shan yao in China) exhibited highly potent activity to inhibit breast cancer cells, invoking cancer cell apoptosis, or programmed cell death, by inducing mitochondrial depolarization and phophotidylserine externalization in these cell lines:
  16. A 2003 study at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, showed that aerobic exercise inhibited TNF-alpha production in humans as a response to bacterial endotoxins:
  17. A 2015 study by experts at Charite' Unversity Medicine, in Berlin, Germany, explains how low-grade endotoxemia is produced, and how stress in its many forms contributes to this health problem that is associated with so many chronic health problems:
  18. An explanation of more recent research in macrophage activation is presented by a Biotech company called R&D Systems, showing that the immune system is much more variable than the classic model, with a yin and yang to macrophage types now proven, explaining how these chronic diseases created by low-grade bacterial endotoxins and viruses are difficult to treat with a simplified allopathic protocol, with different macrophage expressions having opposite effects:
  19. A 1987 study in Japan induced endotoxin into laboratory animals and observed how the liver was damaged. Simultaneous injection of CoQ10 and alpha tocopherol (a Vitamin E) reduced mortality and restored liver function dramatically:
  20. A 2008 study at National Taiwan University and China Medical University found that three common Chinese herbs, Andrographis paniculata (Chuan xin lian), Angelica sinensis (Dang gui) and Morus alba (Sang zhi) exerted potent inhibitory activity of the inflammatory chemicals stimulated by LPS endotoxin and the LPS-induced inflammatory cytokine interferon gamma in intestinal peritoneal immune cells such as macrophages. Pro-inflammatory NF-kB, PGE2 and nitric oxide secretion was selectively inhibited by these herbal chemicals, while immune cells of the spleen were unaffected: http:/
  21. A 2015 study at Changzhi Medical College, in Changzhi, China, found that an active chemical in the Chinese herb Artemisia annua, or Qing hao, called artesunate, remarkably reduced endotoxins in laboratory animals with induced liver fibrosis caused by inflammatory reactions to bacterial endotoxins:
  22. A 2011 study at the Biomedical Research Institute in Tsukuba, Japan, found that inhibition of TNF-alpha and nitric oxide synthase was beneficial to treat chronic inflammatory conditions, and not only a diet rich in antioxidants, but medicinal herbs with specific alkaloids and polyphenols proved effective to reduce TNF-alpha as well. Most herbs studied seem to reduce TNF-alpha inflammation and nitric oxide activity via antioxidant and glutathione mechanisms. Endotoxin-induced (LPS) TNF-alpha was significantly reduced with the alkaloid harmine, found in Passionflower, Tribulus terrestris (Ci li ji), and other herbs, despite lacking a significant antioxidant property, showing that herbal chemicals could treat chronic inflammatory disease via a number of mechanisms:
  23. A mega-analysis in 1980 at Stanford University in California found that uveitis, a chronic eye inflammation associated with a number of autoimmune disorders, was caused by endotoxins, implicating endotoxins in the pathology of these autoimmune disorders:
  24. A 2011 study at Shandong University School of Pharmacy in Jinan, China, found that the Chinese herb Sophora flavescens (Ku shen) significantly inhibited endotoxin-induced cytokines NK-kB, TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, COX-2, induced Nitric oxide synthase, and adhesion molecules associated with deep bacterial endotoxins from E. coli, Staph aureus, Shigella and Chalmers:
  25. A 2011 study at Kuang-Tien General Hospital in Taichung, Taiwan, found that the Chinese herb Cordyceps (Dong chong xia cao) reduced liposaccharide (LPS) endotoxin-induced stress responses and tissue damage in the kidney:
  26. A 2010 study at Chi-Mei Foundation Hospital Center for Reproductive Medicine, in Tainan, Taiwan, found that the common Chinese herb Magnolia officianalis (Hou pou) significantly reduced negative effects of endotoxin-induced (LPS) damage from sepsis, with anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-coagulatory effects:
  27. A 2008 study at Capital Medical University in Beijing, China, found that Magnolia officianalis (Hou pou) extract of magnolol, an active chemical in the herb, significantly reduced endotoxin (LPS) induced inflammation and bowel dysfunction (dismotility) in studies, as well as significantly reducing the endotoxin-induced cytokines TNF-alpha, and monocyte chemoattracant protein-1 and induced nitric oxide synthase, key chemicals in the chronic inflammatory dysregulation and symptom causation:
  28. A 2011 study at Ji-nan University School of Medicine, in Guangzhou, China, found that a chemical in the Chinese herb Coptis chinensis (Huang lian), berberine offered significant protection againt LPS-induced (endotoxin) intestinal injury in study animals. Intestinal injury from endotoxin LPS caused extensive injury to the ileum (lower small intestine), damaging the intestinal mucosa and increasing gut permeability. Preventive use of the herb protected the subjects from this bacterial endotoxin damage:
  29. A 2013 study at Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan showed that more active chemicals in the Chinese herb Zanthoxylum ailanthoides (Hua jiao) have been found in this family of herbs long used to counter parasitic disease, gastrointestinal ill health, skin disease etc. Here, two new benzenoids were found to exert significant and potent inhibition of superoxide anion oxidants generated by human neutrophils. In humans, interaction with endotoxins such as lipopolysaccharides affects neutrophil chemotaxis and accumulation, resulting in chronic inflammatory states. Neutrophils are the most abundant type of white blood cell, and are specialized to fight chronic infections caused by bacteria and fungi:
  30. A study in Japan, published in the medical journal Immunological Reviews in 2002, showed that mannose-binding lectin (MBL) plays a role in innate immune responses, as well as ficolin lectins that are specific for N-acetylglucosamine, both of which activate immune complement responses. Excesses of these lectin pathways may be responsible for persistent chronic immune responses with hypersensitivities, allergies, and chronic inflammation that have no other apparent cause:
  31. A study in 1999 at the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute showed that science is just becoming aware in recent decades that specific lectin pathways are important in the immune complement system, with one such lectin pathway, the mannose-binding lectin pathway, found to be even a key immune mechanism for acute responses to infection.:
  32. A study in 2004 at Fukushima Medical University Department of Biochemistry, in Japan, found that contrary to popular scientific dogma, that our original immune system, the innate, has specificity, like our more modern adaptive immune system of complex complement responses. This specificity of our innate immune system is linked to specific lectins, and is thus capable of distinguishing between pathogens and human cells. A lectin-complement response is a system that evolved early in mammals to avoid autoimmune reactions, and distinguish pathogenic from symbiotic bacteria and other microbes. Imbalances in lectin responses that have arose with our modern environment and diet may play a role in chronic disease and dysfunctional immune responses, such as autoimmune disorders:
  33. A study at the University of Iowa in 1995 showed that grain dust with a higher level of endotoxin produced significantly higher incidence of chronic cough, wheeze, dyspnea and chest tightness in workers at grain handling facilities:
  34. A study published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, in 1994, found that higher levels of TNF-alpha appeared to be the key factor associated with weight loss in COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as asthma and bronchitis), independent of infection. Chronic endotoxin induced TNF-alpha overproduction would account for this health problem:
  35. A 2011 study at Iwaki Meisei University Laboratory of Pharmacognosy showed how a number of herbal and nutrient antioxidant chemicals are proven to be potent modulators of chronic inflammatory diseases associated with TNF-alpha overexpression. Herbal and nutrient chemical highlighted include resveratrol, quercetin, oleuropein, hesperidin, and procyanidins (OPCs), found in Polygonum cuspidatum (Hu zhang), Apocynum venetum (Lou bu ma), European olive leaf, Citrus aurantium (Zhi shi), and maritime pine bark (pycnogenol). These flavonoid antioxidant chemicals also inhibited formation of advanced glycation endproducts:
  36. An example of the type of antibacterial herbal research being conducted in 2008 is presented on the National Institute of Health's research database PubMed. Here we see that a specific Chinese herb, Yu xing cao, or Houttuynia cordata, has been tested in the laboratory in vitro, as well as in living subjects in vivo, and has shown to be safe in normal cells, and immediately effective in cells infected with salmonella endotoxin, inducing effective nitric oxide response and reducing the rate of mortality:
  37. An example of the research combining herbal extracts with standard antibiotics to increase efficacy against drug-resistant strains of bacteria is shown here in a published study in the Journal of Microbiology and posted on the PubMed database. The herbal chemical studied, galangin, is found in a Chinese herb Gao liang jiang, or galanga, which is also used in food preparation:
  38. Research into herbal antibiotics and use in Complementary Medicine to work synergistically with standard antibiotics has been conducted in Europe for some time. This study from the School of Pharmacy or Robert Gordon University in England was conducted in 2000, and shows that a standard antibacterial Chinese herb, Huang qin, or Scutellaria baicalensis, with the chemical baicalin, acts synergistically to increase the effectiveness of standard antibiotics against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and other resistant strains of Staph:
  39. The gentle immunomodulating herb Astragalus (Huang qi) included in most antibiotic formulas in Chinese herbal medicine, was proven to have a number of active chemicals, or phenolic derivatives, that exhibited potent anti-inflammatory activities against TNF-alpha, COX-2, IL-1beta, IL-6 and iNOS expression, in this 2014 laboratory study:
  40. A 2014 study a Chung Shan Medical University, in Taichung, Taiwan, found that the commonly used Chinese medicinal herb, Perilla frutescens (Su zi, Su geng, and Zi su ye), significantly reduces the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) stimulation of bacterial endotoxins, to inhibit a wide variety of inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, and does so by modulating expression of various inflammatory kinases and other signaling chemokines responsible for both acute and chronic inflammation:
  41. A 2014 study at the Third Military Medical Universtiy, in Chongqing, China, found that the Chinese herb Gardenia jasminoidis, or Zhi zi, contains an active chemical called Geniposide, that was shown to be able to suppress the chronic inflammatory processes induced by lipopolysaccharide endotoxins from low-grade system bacteral infections. This herbal chemical works mainly by inhibiting LPS-induced cytokines from macrophages, such as NF-kbeta, MAPK and AP-1, which reduces overexpression of TNF-alpha, nitric oxide, IL-6 and PGE2, the main pro-inflammatory cytokines that perpetuate many chronic inflammatory diseases:
  42. A 2014 study at the Agricultural College of Yanbian University, in Yanji, China, found that the Chinese herb Taraxacum officianale, or Pu gong ying, which contains an active chemical called Taraxasterol, significantly inhibits the expression of inducible nitric oxide (iNOS) and COX-2 from macrophages in laboratory studies. Prior studies on cell cultures in the laboratory showed that this herbal chemical worked by inhibiting bacterial endotoxin lipopolysaccharide-induced (LPS-induced) inflammatory cytokines: