Infectious: Organized Crime and the Human Biome
"Ecology” is defined as the relationship between organisms and their environment. Like global warming, there is a parallel ecological crisis in our bodies, contributing to the epidemic of chronic diseases of adults and children.
Individually, we are ecological webs. We were designed to carry trillions of organisms that are not us, both in us and on us. In fact, we comprise only 10 percent of the total cellular population. Despite our illusion of being in control, we are at the mercy of this ecology.
Human cells evolved from the very bacteria and yeast that run our ship—our hardware and software were borrowed from them, and they know it far better than we do. They know how to make signal molecules that confuse, hide from or decoy our immune system. They also grow hard and soft “biofilms”, like plaque on teeth or arteries, fortresses that incorporate iron, calcium, magnesium lead, mercury and other materials that enable them to hide and defend from our immune system. Some of these strategies render the standard tests for infection, antibodies or allergy ineffective. Thinking that we can outsmart (or genetically modify) these organisms can be both arrogant and ignorant.
We have organized crime within our bodies. We are paying extortion to a set of microbes to protect us from others and to make substances that we need. We are living in a complex symbiotic web, and we need these organisms more than they need us. When we don’t heed their demands, other organisms come in, contributing to inflammation, fatigue and some cancers.
Understanding Infections and Antibiotics
The bacteria, yeasts, viruses, parasites and other organisms that we carry are constantly communicating, negotiating and competing. When we see one entity coming over the wall, what we don’t see is that it is standing on the shoulders or carcasses of others. Examples are outbreaks of yeast or herpes or shingles (virus) following a bacterial infection or stress. An infection represents the last step of a chain of events, where a team of organisms have succeeded in dominating the town by sabotaging the immune system. There is growing recognition of “sub-clinical” and “stealth” infections, where the infection is not apparent but is the root cause of secondary and tertiary effects, such as inflammation, pain and metabolic disorder.
Antibiotics do not kill single organisms. They work like a bomb, which wipes out an area, including civilians and infrastructure, but is necessary to enable the troops to go in. It is ultimately the immune system that has to complete the job. Without sufficient preparation, or resources—“bullets” such as omega-3 oils and iodine—then the battles falter, or surveillance fails and there is a resurgence.
Application to Diagnosis and Treatment
These concepts are changing our understanding of the cause and treatment of acute and chronic infections, such as Lyme, yeast, herpes and H. pylori, and other illnesses. The best methods are based upon utilizing ecological and evolutionary concepts. The use of probiotics, herbal and naturally occurring adjuvants, and the recent recognition of biofilms will continue to improve our approach to chronic infections and illness.
Michael Cheikin, M.D., practices holistic medicine and physiatry at Center for Optimal Health, in Plymouth Meeting. For more information, call 610-239-9901, email [email protected] or visit CohLife.org. November 2018