1. Autoimmune Disease Therapy Breakthrough
Five people with severe autoimmune disease have become the first in the world to receive a groundbreaking therapy that uses genetically altered cells to drive the illness into remission. The four women and one man, aged 18 to 24, received transfusions of modified immune cells to treat severe lupus, an autoimmune disease that can cause life-threatening damage to the heart, lungs, brain and kidneys.
The treatment drove the disease into remission in all five patients, who have now been off lupus medication for between three and 17 months. Doctors say the apparent success raises hopes for tackling other autoimmune conditions such a rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis.
Lupus is a condition whereby the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy tissues and organs, and may be triggered by viral infections, particular medicines, and changes in the body around puberty and the menopause. It is hard to diagnose because the symptoms often flare up and settle down, and overlap with those of several other diseases. While mild in many people, lupus can cause extreme tiredness, organ damage and pain in the joints and muscles. One of the most common signs is a distinctive skin rash over the nose and cheeks.
CAR T-CELL THERAPY
Doctors in Germany treated five severely ill patients with CAR T-cell therapy after other treatments failed to improve their symptoms. CAR T-cell therapy involves collecting the patient’s T-cells – a key component of the immune system – and modifying them so that they attack new targets, such as cancer cells, when infused back into the body.
In the latest work, doctors took T-cells from the lupus patients and modified them so that, on re-infusion, they attacked the patients’ B cells. In lupus, B cells churn out autoantibodies, which instead of defending the body against invading pathogens, attack healthy tissues instead.
According to the study in Nature Medicine, the therapy in effect wiped out the patients’ aberrant B cells and dramatically improved their condition. The disease affected multiple organs in all five patients, but after the therapy severe symptoms including arthritis, fatigue, fibrosis of the heart valves, and lung inflammation all cleared up.
Blood tests on the patients showed that their B cells recovered about four months after the treatment, but they no longer produced aberrant antibodies and the patients remained disease-free. Writing in the journal, the authors speculate that the therapy led to a ‘rebooting of the immune system'.
Several other autoimmune diseases which are dependent on B cells and show autoantibodies may respond to this treatment.
‘This is an excellent study which promises to extend the scope of CAR T-cell therapy, which has thus far seen its major impact in the treatment of blood cancers, to autoimmune diseases like lupus which are in some patients poorly controlled with other medicines,' said Dr Rahul Roychoudhuri, who studies immune system regulation in inflammation and cancer at the University of Cambridge. ‘I am very excited at the prospects for this form of living therapy in indications beyond cancer.'
Mackensen, A., Müller, F., Mougiakakos, D. et al. Anti-CD19 CAR T cell therapy for refractory systemic lupus erythematosus. Nat Med (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41591-022-02017-5
2. The Deodorant Concern
Hard science shows there’s good reason to avoid the ingredients in most deodorants. That science mostly revolves around triclosan, a strong antibacterial also used in hand sanitizers. Since underarm odor stems from bacteria, triclosan keeps funk from forming in the first place.
However, a Swedish study tied triclosan to thyroid dysfunction, and other research links the related chemical triclocarban to abnormal sex-hormone function.
Skin irritant propylene glycol is also often added to deodorants to help other ingredients penetrate — not a desired effect when those ingredients can cause harm. You’ll also never find a safe, natural antiperspirant, but this may not be a bad thing, since the body sweats in order to cool down and eliminate toxins.
Like paraben preservatives, the aluminum salts in antiperspirants can mimic oestrogen in the body, potentially increasing breast cancer risk. Luckily, the right combo of ingredients in natural deodorants can still fight off bacteria to leave you stink free although you may need to try a few brands to find a fit for your body chemistry.
3. Detoxification Done Daily
We don’t need to wait for a seasonal change to detox. Gentle daily detox can support our detox organs and ensure optimal function.
Certain bowel or skin conditions particularly, call for a detox, but I cannot stress enough how important a good cleanse is after illness. Some people dread the annual detox but there are ways around it. Vegetable juice, water, clay and a few natural products taken daily can have a gentle detox effect and you can avoid a heavy annual detox with all those unpleasant symptoms.
Excellent herbal detox products include Vibrant Cleanse – Organic Lemon Cleanse from the Vibrant Health range, and Phyto-Cleanse Tea from Phyto-Force which contains boldo, buchu, fennel, nettle, peppermint and Senna and Progast’s Oxy-Colon cleanse – a botanical laxative.
China introduced us to green tea, which is high in antioxidant content and combats free radical damage to protect against degenerative diseases. It also boosts enzyme production in the body and has antibiotic, antiviral, and antibacterial properties, and is highly valued for its detox properties. Origine 8™ is a concentrated green tea extract available in supplement form.
Intestinal permeability or ‘leaky gut’ can allow increased numbers of toxins to enter the circulation. It is well documented that antimicrobial herbs such as black walnut, wormwood and barberry, and antimicrobial oils such as oregano, cinnamon and thyme, kill off any detrimental bacteria and yeasts that may be upsetting your gut. Part of a good detox plan involves not only killing off any bad bacteria and yeasts but heal your digestive system with glutamine, butyric acid, aloe vera, liquorice, zinc and probiotics. Digestive enzymes are also very helpful in restoring balance to the intestinal flora.
Once we have healed the gastro-intestinal system it’s time to clean up the liver, which is the body’s main cleansing unit. Dr Jason Mallia: ‘Herbs such as milk thistle, watercress, globe artichoke, turmeric and schisandra can all work together to support liver function and stimulate detoxification. Ask your doctor which supplements will suit you best.’
Milk thistle, one of the best liver cleansing tonics, used with honey by the Romans, is also rich in nutrients and antioxidants to prevent free radical damage. Burdock, known as the plant of longevity, is one of the best blood purifiers of the herbal world and its use dates back to ancient Greece. The leaves make a delightful medicinal addition to soups and salads, or chop it into vinegar to drizzle over green salads.
Our bodies know what to do and we need to support the natural detox processes daily, not let the toxins pile up with a promise of getting rid of it once a year! Now doesn’t that sound like a plan? And for those wanting to do the annual detox, incorporating gentle detox principles daily, will allow for an easier deep detox when you do go all out once or twice a year.
You will need a juicer and fresh organic vegetables, or a juice bar close by. Juice Revolution SA supplies prepared juices in a very convenient way if you want to do a juice detox and ease yourself into taking daily fresh vegetable juices.
For a daily detox to be effective, it is important to limit the intake of alcohol, tobacco, caffeine (tea, coffee, chocolate, cola), soft drinks, meat, sugar (any ingredient ending in -ose), dairy products (except yoghurt), processed foods (any packaged product that has several ingredients or any preservatives).
Regular exposure to high amounts of toxins can cause overload, leading to impaired detoxification capacity and chronic health problems. Many common household cleaners contain toxic ingredients that are known carcinogens, suspected reproductive toxins or endocrine disrupters.
Exercise accelerates the removal of toxins through our largest organ of elimination, the skin, when we sweat. It also stimulates lymph flow, which depends solely on muscular movement (or massage). Lymph function is critical to our body’s ability to cleanse itself. Exercise also enhances metabolism and circulation.
WATER AND OIL
Spoil yourself with a steam, sauna or warm mustard bath twice a week, and dry skin brush three times a week (30 min after rising and before your morning shower/bath) followed by applying body oil. Dry skin brushing removes toxins accumulated in dead skin cells and enhances circulation. Essential oils of lavender, grapefruit and lemon grass can be used, diluted in a carrier oil. Enjoy a full-body massage as often as you can to remove harmful toxins and chemicals. I use to add 5 cups of Epsom salt or coarse sea salt to my bath but with microplastic in salt I will stick to salt-free mustard powder.
The mind and emotions also need to detox. Have a good cry as you weed out the toxic people in your life that drain you, but don’t spend too much time on this! Laughter, sunshine, music, stress management and a good night’s sleep are some of nature’s best remedies.
4. Dandelion Root Tincture and Tea
This common garden weed it contains carotenoids, sesquiterpene lactones and has powerful diuretic properties. It contains taraxacerin which is a bitter tonic which can be helpful as a pancreatic stimulator, a liver cleanser and helps to lower triglyceride levels in the blood, making it not only an excellent cholagogue but also helps to get rid of the bad cholesterol in your blood. It is helpful for fatty liver. It contains vitamins A, C, D, K and vitamin B complex and many minerals, all helpful in maintaining a healthy skin.
5. Pins and Needles – a Sign of Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Often, pins and needles (a tingling and pricking sensation in fingers and toes) occurs when sitting in an awkward position, which applies pressure on the nerves or the blood vessels that supply the nerves. However if pins and needles occur for no apparent reason, it could be a sign of a deficiency in vitamin B12
The human body needs vitamin B12 to make red blood cells and DNA, maintain the health of nerve tissue, and carry out other functions. Like most vitamins, B12 can’t be manufactured by the body and must be ingested from foods like fortified cereals or those derived from animal sources, including meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy products. Alternatively, a supplement can be taken.
WHO IS AT RISK?
Generally speaking, people at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency are:
- Strict vegetarians
- Those taking certain medications (e.g. antacids/heartburn medication or oral diabetic medication)
- Those with certain gastrointestinal conditions (such as Crohn’s disease or coeliac disease)
- People over the age of 50 years
- Those who have poor dietary intake
RECOGNISING A B12 DEFICIENCY
Pins and needles is a common sign of a vitamin B12 deficiency, however other symptoms may include:
- Numbness of hands and feet
- Weakness of hands and feet
- Abnormal gait or difficulty walking
- Irritability or other mood disturbances
- Paleness, fatigue and/or weakness (associated with anaemia)
Early detection and treatment is important. If left untreated, a vitamin B12 deficiency may cause irreversible nerve damage or anaemia. If you suspect that you may have a vitamin B deficiency you should visit your healthcare provider and have a blood test done to check your levels.
Decreased vitamin B12 levels, or vitamin B12 deficiency, is now considered to be a common side effect in patients on Diabetes Type 2 medicine, Metformin. This is especially so in those receiving a higher dose or longer treatment duration and in those with existing risk factors. For more information, please speak to your doctor or pharmacist as your symptoms may be related to another medical condition.
6. Chilli – Spice for Health!
Spice for health! Chilli has many health benefits:
Uncooked chillies, as well as sweet red peppers, are among the foods with the highest concentration of vitamin C. Vitamin C is known to help in the fight against flu by supporting the immune system, as well as helping to reduce the severity and possibly also the duration of the common cold.
- Topical capsaicin treatment reduces osteoarthritis pain.
- Red chilli peppers, such as cayenne pepper, reduce blood cholesterol, triglyceride levels and platelet aggregation and aid in the prevention of blood clots.
- A chilli-containing diet may have an anti-oxidant effect on cholesterol and triglycerides.
- Clears nasal and chest congestion.
- Chilli boosts immunity due to its high beta-carotene (pro-vitamin A) content.
- A study¹ published in the March 15, 2006 issue of Cancer Research suggests capsaicin prevents the spread of prostate cancer.