Autoimmune illnesses are the result of a storm of triggering factors including: genetic predispositions, exposure to pathogens (such as herpes viruses), intestinal hyperpermeability (“leaky gut”) and malabsorption, gluten consumption, accumulation of toxins from the environment (such as heavy metals and other chemicals) and a traumatic event. The fact that 78% of people with autoimmune disorders are women, and the presence of pathogens is a reality in almost all people with autoimmune disorders, requires special attention and a closer investigation.
The Connection Between Viruses and Autoimmune Illnesses.
Viruses are not living organisms; they require a host for metabolism and replication. Their external structure includes a protein or lipid coating. Viruses are among the most primitive biological structures that have evolved with life. The continuous fight between viruses and human cells is paramount. In blood analysis, a series of preliminary indicators of viral activity can be determined: neutrophils <45%, monocytes> 7% or lymphocytes> 45%, low CD4, high CD8.
Epstein Barr virus (EBV) is associated with autoimmune illnesses such as Hashimoto’s, Grave’s, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogren. A 2015 study found latent proteins in epithelial cells and infected lymphocytes in 34.5% of people with Hashimoto. EBV nuclear antigen was found in more than 80% of people with Hashimoto and in more than 60% of people with Grave’s.
Studies have shown that CD8 lymphocyte deficiency can be the basis of many autoimmune disorders. CD8 are lymphocytes that have markers on their surface; they identify and destroy cells that have been infected with viruses. These are varieties of white blood cells that fight infections, and play an important role in the functioning of the immune system. CD4 and CD8 cells are produced in the spleen, lymph nodes and thymus gland, and circulate throughout the body, being transported by blood.
It is suspected that women have a higher predisposition to autoimmune disorders, due to the ability of estrogen to reduce CD8, and thus reduce the ability of the immune system to fight infection.
The presence of herpes viruses does not uniquely cause autoimmune illnesses, but plays an important role in the multiple factors that trigger autoimmune processes, their progression and aggravation of negative symptoms. There are several theories that relate to how viruses can contribute to autoimmune disorders. One of these describes an indirect or non-specific activation of autoimmune cells caused by an inflammatory environment present at the time of infection. In this case the immune system becomes activated and activates other parts that can attack both infected cells and healthy cells. Therefore, T cells can migrate to the sites of viral infection and when they reach infected cells they will give the alarm signal and release cytokines; they will kill not only infected cells, but also healthy ones.
Molecular mimicry refers to a process where a foreign antigen has the same amino acid sequence or structure similar to its own antigens. For example, a particular virus has an amino acid sequence that is very similar to the amino acid sequence of human cells. This can result not only in the production of antibodies against the virus, but also in the production of antibodies against human cells, due to the similarity of proteins. Also, viral fragments can attach to human tissues and result in a hybrid, which is part virus and part human, and it can also be attacked by the immune system.
For more information on how to successfully cope with viral infections see my ebook on this topic.
CD8 T Lymphocyte Deficiency.
CD8 T lymphocytes are a type of cell that inhibits viruses. Once activated they will destroy the infected cells. The existence of a deficiency is a common feature in virtually all chronic autoimmune disorders. Some researchers believe that this deficiency may be partially responsible for the formation of chronic autoimmune diseases, the main reason being that they cannot control the Epstein-Barr virus or other infections. If Epstein-Barr is not controlled, it can cause a multitude of problems in the body. When Epstein-Barr infects B cells, it can make them self-reactive, meaning that antibodies will attack the body’s own tissues.
A paper called CD8 + T-Cell Deficiency, Epstein-Barr Virus Infection, Vitamin D Deficiency, and Steps to Autoimmunity: A Unifying Hypothesis written by Michael P. Pender establishes the theory that explains the development of autoimmune disease in the following stages:
1. It all starts with CD8 + lymphocyte deficiency, which has a genetic component.
2. Infection with Epstein-Barr virus (or other herpes virus) and its proliferation (due to CD8 T lymphocyte deficiency, there are not enough cells to destroy the infected cells.)
3. Increasing the number of antibodies against Epstein-Barr virus (a second line of defense of the body.)
4. Epstein-Barr infects a specific organ and particularly B cells in that organ. This corrupts the B cells causing them to attack their own tissues.
5. B cells proliferate in the infected organ. (The number of antibodies increases).
6. T cells are attracted to the organ and also attack their own tissue. The antibodies signal the attackers.
7. Development of structures in the target organ, which causes B cells to attack their own tissue. (Process dependent on Th17 cells). This process is repeated and exacerbated.
The Connection Between Estrogen and Autoimmune Disorders.
Steroid hormones, especially estrogen, have immunomodulatory effects. Studies of the last decade have shown the prevalence of autoimmune diseases in women, and hormonal fluctuations are one of the major factors that explain the phenomenon. One hypothesis is that estrogen can exacerbate the inflammatory process of the immune system, which means it can increase the number of antibodies that attack the tissue. This happens especially in people with excess estrogen in the body. The fluctuations in the level of estrogen in the peri-menopause also exacerbate the symptoms of autoimmune disorder: joint pain, hair loss, fatigue, insomnia, etc.
Cortisol and progesterone have the same precursor, called pregnenolone. When the stress, inflammation or imbalance of the immune system is high, the body will prefer to produce cortisol to lessen the inflammation. The result will be a high level of cortisol over progesterone. Progesterone is naturally opposed to estrogen and protects against the potential negative effects of estrogen. When progesterone is low, estrogen has no “opponent” and the specific symptoms of estrogen dominance will appear. In such situations, the inflammation will be out of control and the autoimmune processes will increase.
Estrogen decreases the level of CD8 + T lymphocytes, which explains the higher incidence of autoimmune disorders in women. Women with estrogen dominance and / or dysfunctional liver detoxification mechanisms may have too high circulating estrogen levels and this may affect the immune system.
Several studies have established the effects and associations between viruses and estrogen metabolism. Epstein Barr virus has been shown to be capable of increasing aromatase, promoting increased circulating estrogen levels. A mouse study found that Herpes Simplex 1 virus can be reactivated by estradiol administration.
Natural, Integrative and Efficient Solutions.
No healing program can be successful without following an individual diet that suits your unique metabolism. This is the first action to be taken. As with all disorders, the triggering factors and causes of autoimmune disorders are different and diverse for each person. If you act only at the level of suppressing the symptoms, no real cure can be ensured. Thus, a functional and integrative investigation is essential through the correct detection of all causes, which are the basis for triggering autoimmune diseases.
Specific nutrients that can regulate the appearance of viruses and estrogen, when their condition has been correctly determined, include: DIM (di-indolylmethane), momordica charantia (bitter cucumber), artemisinin, baicalin, pure cannabis oil, polysaccharides, monolaurine.
For specialized consultation for your health problems you can schedule an appointment here.
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Viroj Pongthanapisith,1 Kazuyoshi Ikuta,2 Pilaipan Puthavathana,3 and Wichet Leelamanit: Antiviral Protein of Momordica charantia L. Inhibits Different Subtypes of Influenza A Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 729081, 6 pages
Shyam N. Sundar, Crystal N. Marconett, Victor B. Doan, Jamin A. Willoughby, Sr, and Gary L. Firestone; Artemisinin selectively decreases functional levels of estrogen receptor-alpha and ablates estrogen-induced proliferation in human breast cancer cells: Carcinogenesis. 2008 Dec; 29(12): 22522258