Category Archives: Homeopathy

Food Allergies, Intolerances, Sensitivities… and Diets!

FOOD ALLERGIES are a huge and ubiquitous topic in the modern day world.  Nothing short of an epidemic, as it has become part of our day to day vocabulary. In fact, food itself is in the midst of a huge controversy, what with Big Food, Big Ag, and the plethora of different diets out there in today’s world.  Arnold Ehret aptly said – “Life is a tragedy of nutrition”.  In spite of civilization, modernization, industrialization, growth and scientific advancements, nutritional deficiencies seem to be abounding.  It’s a tragedy indeed since so much of our lives centers around food.  In fact its the centerpiece of every cultural, social, family, community, political, festive, celebratory and sad event!  In fact, the ONLY time we stop eating is when we are acutely sick!  Or our bodies give out a clear signal of an allergy or intolerance.  And, then one of the first indications we are getting “better” is when we can eat again, eat as much as we like, what we like, when we like.  Yes, for many of us, it would be fair to say that we live to eat.

In this article today, I’d like to shine a different light into this whole matter of food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities, and bring about a new understanding in the matter of true HEALING in general, and how FOOD itself relates to ANY CHRONIC DISEASE.  If you are simply interested in how to heal from food driven health issues (actually every health issue can be chalked up to food… after all, aren’t we what we eat?), rather, let’s say, the food allergy diathesis, then please listen to this webinar that I presented for the National Center of Homeopathy earlier this year in July.  In it, I talk about the differences between a true allergy, intolerance and a sensitivity, and how homeopathy can help manage not only the acute symptoms of these conditions including anaphylaxis, but can also be used to eradicate the chronic state of allergic diathesis from the root when addressed at the constitutional level.  As I mention in it, I have found the most consistent success with an integrative approach to the healing process of the chronic issue that includes constitutional homeopathy, gemmos and diet.  It can take a little longer for a true allergy to resolve completely (intolerances and sensitivities tend to resolve much faster, and homeopathy alone is often sufficient), and an integrative method is needed for most people that includes gentle drainage and regeneration of organ systems.  This aspect of healing (drainage and regeneration) is what I would like to talk about in the rest of this article… how do our systems degenerate in the first place to create the diathesis of food allergies, and their sometimes life-threatening symptoms?  Hint: Yes, FOOD itself plays a big role!

Live to eat, or eat to live?

Every bite we eat (and we could have been eating it for generations!) is either fighting disease or feeding it… and depending on the susceptibility of each individual, including inherited genes and traits from the family, it shows up as different chronic diseases in different individuals.  The more I work with disease, the more I think about root causes, the more I am convinced that we need a complete overhaul in the nutritional paradigm that we have established for ourselves as being normal and healthy.  Take for example, the notion of a BALANCED diet.  We are instructed to eat a certain way to “thrive” and live a “healthy” life.  The concepts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats are drilled into our heads since childhood.  Well, that would make sense when the person is disease-free and balanced already.  But, how many of us find ourselves in that state on a day-to-day basis?  More so, diet notions have constantly been changing over the centuries of human existence, most of it dictated by agriculture and civilization, and subsequently collaborated by science.  Vitamins and enzymes, and other details have been discovered and given names, and all of a sudden everyone is deficient in something or the other.  Then, we tailor our diets so that we can be one up on “nutrition”, or maybe just load up on tons of supplements (beware!) to facilitate it, hoping to be be free of symptoms and be healthy.  So, for some of us, we eat to live.

Between the flip-flop of eating to live, and living to eat, much has been gained as well as, I would say, also lost through the centuries of human existence, since the time humans harnessed and mastered fire, and subsequently migrated and adapted to their surroundings, and formed communities and cultures.  As sanitation improved, lifespans improved.  Civilization and industrialization also saw a huge explosion in the food industry.  Suddenly, food became abundant and freely available, but also specialized and monotonous.  Gluttony happened.  Creativity in the lab and farmland took precedence over creativity, diversity and the variety in the wild.  Of course, all that came with consequences, especially related to health.  While we saw a huge decrease in infectious diseases over time with all the modern improvements, chronic diseases skyrocketed.  We traded in one for the other.  Thus, lately, largely dictated by chronic health concerns, there has been a lot of impetus and push towards returning to traditional diets, spearheaded by groups such as the Weston A. Price Foundation, and the more recent off-spin of that called the Paleolithic diet (How Humans Became Meat Eaters).  Then there is the Ketogenic diet, and the Nutritional Bypass diet, and the Plant Paradox diet, to name a few.  The mind-set is changing from being  simply calorie-conscious to being nutrient-conscious.  Those seeking out a cleaner diet, free from processed foods, free from the white sugar-white flour culture, many of them dairy-free, are no doubt seeing benefits and many are seeing gains in their health and resolution of diseases and symptoms.  But, not all.   And, definitely not all the way.  It depends where one is on the spectrum of degeneration.  These traditional diets are what I call transition diets… surely much better than the SAD (Standard American Diet), but, turns out that one has to dig even deeper to truly understand the chemistry that happens inside our bodies and how different foods play a role in fighting or feeding disease, in regeneration or degeneration, in cleansing or accumulation of acidosis.


Getting back to the topic of food allergies, the degenerative cycle that may take place inside the bodies of susceptible people follow the path of a mere sensitivity at first, to intolerance, to a true allergy with life threatening implications.  This degenerative cycle occurs due to increasing levels of acidosis in those susceptible bodies, if allowed to proceed unchecked and unaddressed, affecting and degenerating respective organ systems.  So, there are two things to address here to reverse the cycle to a regenerative one –  First, open elimination channels and drain the sewer system of the body, thereby reducing the acidosis, so that the key organ systems can regenerate and perform their jobs optimally.  Second, address the susceptibility, the genetic make-up, the constitution (mental, emotional, and physical aspects) of the person.  That’s as simple as healing can get.  While classical homeopathy is amazing with the second part of it, and of course, does affect the first along the way (as it is a totality approach, and susceptibility can not improve without regeneration), often times we homeopaths working at the constitutional level to eradicate susceptibility come across obstacles to healing, obstacles that are partly due to the amount of toxicity accumulated in the body that the organ systems are simply not able to mobilize and eliminate.  That is where the DIET, comes in.  And, also the GEMMOS.  Together they are the best adjuncts (in my experience) to constitutional homeopathy to open elimination.


Let’s get back to where we left off in the story of traditional diets.  So, the current trend is to seek out nutrient-dense over calorie-counting.  However, at the end of the day, both can fall terribly short when it comes to attaining our health goals.  Neither nutrition, nor calories, is of any use to you if the cells in your body are simply swimming in acidosis, toxic wastes, if your body is simply not eliminating as it should.  What happens when the cells, tissues, organs, glands in your body are in constant contact with the acidic side of chemistry?  Right, degeneration, disease, and death.  With that throw out all the notions for supplements, digestive enzymes, vitamins that you have incorporated into your daily consumption in order to reach and maintain good health.  Why?  Well, it works for some, sure… and it works for a while, and then it doesn’t.  You know how I talked about digging deeper.  Let me introduce you to a new understanding (aha moment!) in regaining health – it is not nutrition (at least not primarily), but, detoxification… cleansing of your inner parts if you will.  The deeper you are able to clean house (body), the better off you will be in the long run.  You see, you can only bring up nutritional deficiencies AFTER you have fixed digestion, absorption and utilization!   And, you can only bring up digestion, absorption and utilization AFTER you have fixed elimination (cleaning)!  Make sense?  A little biology here –  what system in the body plays the role of the sewer system (nature must have facilitated one, right)?  Well, it’s the lymphatic system, with the lymph vessels and the lymph nodes and the lymphatic fluid flowing through them.  Everyone knows that our IMMUNE system lives in the lymphatic system.  But, very little is known or acknowledged by mainstream medicine about this important sewer functionality of the lymphatic system.  Therefore, I was excited to read this  piece recently – Scientists have finally discovered proof that our brains have a waste drainage system.  In fact, the lymphatic network is a complete side-by-side network of capillaries and pipes with the vascular (blood) network that emulates the main water supply to our bodies and that deals with the nutrition.  All the cells in our bodies (not just that of the brain) are surrounded by these two fluids – the lymph and the blood, one that cleans out the metabolic waste products produced by each cell, the other that brings in the fresh supply of oxygen and other nutrients to each cell.  If your body’s elimination pathways are not open or rather compromised by degeneration of the respective organs, the sewage backs up and accumulates and deposits in susceptible parts of the body creating symptoms and diseases there.  So, as you can see, this system needs big time maintenance throughout one’s lifetime.  But, it is the one least paid attention to.  Since it is a much larger system (80% lymph to 20% blood), that is lipid based (to buffer the acids, obviously), it can take a lot of accumulation, and the toxic overload can go unnoticed until chronic symptoms are the first harbingers of a possible malfunctioning.  Even then the symptoms can be managed by something like a high-fat diet… adding more good fats to the body to buffer the toxicity.  But, is that a proper solution?  Wouldn’t an effort to move out the toxins be a more viable plan (for most)?

Now, a little chemistry – how does one clean the lymphatic system?  Exercise?  For sure, the rebounder has gained new life and appreciation as a lymphatic mover and shaker in recent times.  Massage?  Many clients immediately think about lymphatic and deep cleansing massages whenever I mention lymphatic cleansing.  Both are good tools to have and use, but NOT BEFORE YOU HAVE OPENED ELIMINATION WITH CHEMISTRY.  You need to use chemistry first (alkalizing chemistry) to get those wastes moving, to get the kidneys filtering, to get bowels eliminating, before thinking exercise and massage, because if your emunctories are not open, then the toxins will just circulate within your closed system causing problems and suffering in various parts of the body by turn.  A lot of people feel worse from physical activity, or have an “aggravation” after a deep massage.  This can also be witnessed in many so-called “cures” as well, with any modality.  For example, a case of a food allergy resolves, but tics and spasms surface; what that means is that the toxicity has simply moved elsewhere… either suppressed to a deeper problem or moved out to a less important organ system in the right direction of healing.  Imagine squeezing a water balloon at one end, without an opening to let the water out, the other end simply bulges out… one dis-ease simply gives way to another!


So, once again, let’s get back to the DIET – what chemistry are you facilitating within in your body through what you eat?  Any modality, any treatment, natural or synthetic, has the potential to suppress or aggravate.  That applies to diet as well, when we use food as medicine.  I am always looking to see if healing is occurring in the right direction from the most important to lesser important organs, from top down, from inner to outer.  It is not enough for me to see the symptom disappear and think that the person has been healed.  I apply the same caution and vigilance when someone tells me that their such and such disease has been healed by following such and such diet.  If it is not a diet (chemistry) that promotes cleansing for the most part, then I am suspicious of suppression, or a managed recovery.  So, what about a nutrient-dense traditional diet then – is it not cleansing?  Yes, it certainly is initially, since it cuts out all the processed junk, and lightens the load of constant toxic dump into the body by way of artificial foods.  But, I have found it is not enough in many cases.  Why not?  To reduce an acidic load in the body, to clear out debris, we need to go one step further than cutting out processed junk, and seek out foods that actually have an alkaline ash inside the body.  Proteins and fats do not have an alkaline ash, therefore a diet heavy on those two is not going to cleanse your body that well, and bring you back to regenerated health.  What foods then are alkalizing to the body?  What foods are best to re-establish and rebuild our microbiome, provide the necessary prebiotics?  Many point to a plant-based diet for that, that’s why the Vegan and the Raw Food movement has also seen a recent rise along with the subsets of traditional diets that I mentioned earlier.  From my perspective, I am not a proponent of any particular diet, per se, as long as an individual body is able to accomplish the cleaning that it needs to be disease-freeand that varies for everyone.  I’d steer clear of supplements or aids that are stool stimulators or softeners.  If you were to ask me though about an alkalizing diet, then FRUITS and some veggies would feature in it to some extent, depending on the individual.  These are the primary and the ultimate foods that create that effect of basic alkalizing chemistry inside our bodies that automatically induces cleaning.  Nature provides.  It is intelligent, and automatically evolves with the changing climate, environment, and everything else that is going on in the ecology.  You see, the history in our evolution is that even before we were hunters, we were gatherers.  Fresh fruits, when available, always featured heavily in many traditional diets.  The discovery of fire was a game changer, primarily in what we eat, and the way we eat today.  Cooking has allowed us many choices beyond fruits that used to be the primary diet of humans before the stone age.  But, many modern healing diets focus on meat (paleo) and good fats (ketogenic), and very little fruits.  Justifiably so in some ways, as meat is a stimulator and helps your adrenals, gives you energy; and good fats equip the lipid based lymphatic system to be able to buffer more acid wastes/toxins away from the organs that it surrounds… instantly bringing down inflammation and providing symptom relief.  And, fruit – well, since it moves the toxins, that can be symptomatic and uncomfortable for someone with high acidosis, and thus they are limited in these diets.   However, it would be (and is) a matter of time before the law of diminishing returns kicks in and people hit a plateau in their healing with these type of diets.  That’s why intermittent fasting is now being promoted by the proponents of the ketogenic and paleo diets, to allow the body to clean from all that acidic foods being consumed.  (Fasting has always been nature’s preferred way of healing.  And, that’s what I am getting at! Back to way of nature!)  Hence it is important to understand the “whys”.  Why, or why not, fruit (simple sugars)?  Why, or why not, meat (protein)?  Why, or why not, butter (fat)?  Why, or why not, processed junk food?  What if all the learning out there, although correct in some ways, is simply not correct enough?  One needs to keep digging deeper until one finds the answers for oneself.

Deprived or empowered

Some may complain about feeling deprived when I suggest they drop certain items from their diet as part of the plan to cleanse and get permanent relief from symptoms.  The thinking and attitude around this needs to change, elimination diets (pun intended!) should be seen for what they are – that is a goal to eat real foods and to practice DISCERNMENT.  It would be empowering instead of depriving.  Deviating from our staple food(s) will not kill us instantly of course, but it comes with a price.  Everything comes with a price.  What’s interesting to me is that nature itself is forcing many people into restricting their diets, through the diathesis of food allergies.  As I said in my webinar, the goal of proper healing is that you should be able to eat whatever you like, but, be warned that a consistently incorrect diet will bring you back to the same state, or a different state of acidosis, if susceptibility has changed along the way… for better or for worse!

Just because we can, does not mean we should…  


The month of May has been Lyme awareness month.  The tick season this year is predicted to be the worst ever.  Lyme talk is everywhere.  Nowadays people even know that Lyme doesn’t just come from ticks, in fact many people with chronic Lyme do not recall ever having a tick bite not to mention a bull’s-eye rash.  Everyone with a chronic set of symptoms that no one is able to figure out is suspecting Lyme, and are being diagnosed with Lyme.  Lyme vaccines are in the works and chemicals (natural and synthetic) to kill ticks are flooding the market with the promise of prevention.  My inbox is flooded with emails and queries regarding tick-bites and Lyme, how to PREVENT the dreaded disease.  Is there a homeopathic prophylaxis?  Is there something we can take so that ticks don’t bite us?  And, if they do, so that we won’t get Lyme?  etc.  On the flip-side, the moment the doctors give a Lyme diagnosis, people are dropping every thing that they were doing to help their symptoms, even holistic-minded people, practitioners and patients alike, and jumping on the antibiotic bandwagon.  Strong antibiotics, for months at a time, to boot.  I see utter fear in people’s eyes when they get a tick bite, or goodness forbid, a bull’s-eye rash.  Not taking any chances, antibiotics first, everything else later.  If I could hit PAUSE on this madness, and knee-jerk, fear-based reactions to Lyme, I would gladly do so right away.  Why?  Because no one can think logically when they are consumed with fear.  That just leads one to seek the wrong treatments, setting them back months and years, and often driving the disease deeper, and a weaker vital force at the end of it all than they started out with.

My intention is certainly not to make light of the suffering of people with deep-seated disease.  6-8 years ago, I was one of the first ones educating people about chronic Lyme.  I had watched and was intrigued by the documentary “Under Our Skin – The untold story of Lyme Disease“, a chilling tale of microbes, medicine, and money, as they put it.  It’s a fascinating film, and I recommended everyone to watch it, to get educated about Lyme.  It was hard to get a medical diagnosis for Lyme then.  As a fairly new homeopath  at the time,  I was interested in the common symptoms of the disease, to discern what constellation of remedies might be indicated for people exhibiting these symptoms.  The diagnosis didn’t matter to me either way, as it never does in homeopathy.  The characteristic individuality and the constitution of the person seeking help for a certain set of symptoms is what we homeopaths always focus on.  But, we do have the concept of miasmatic theory in homeopathy which are “traits” passed down from generation to generation and certain pathogenic microbes can be part of the miasmatic case of the person, therefore I was interested in the Borrelia Burgdorferi and its co-infectious siblings from that perspective.  I wondered, did it have the potential to be a miasmatic influence in future generations?  Or have a relationship to a previous or existing one, perhaps?  (Which it indeed does – to the Syphilis spirochete.)

Fast forward to the current day from the experience of working with many chronically ill people since, I have a much better understanding of the power of homeopathy, and the underlying “obstacles to cure”.  Nowadays, the pendulum has swung to the other side as Lyme literacy has shot up in recent years, thanks to ILADS.  Virtually everyone with mysterious symptoms is getting diagnosed with Lyme, it’s even being cross-diagnosed with many other chronic issues like ADHD, Autism, OCD, ODD, SPD, etc.  Somehow people seem relieved when they get the diagnosis, as if they have finally found the answer to their problems.  Have they?  In most cases, they haven’t.  I know that from the way they are going about treating it, both practitioners and patients alike.  Antibiotics, antibiotics, antibiotics.  Even a homeopathic MD had said to me years ago that when it comes to Lyme, she recommends antibiotics.  With experience and a deeper understanding of the human body and the microbiome that I have now, I completely disagree.  Some choose “natural treatments” with no antibiotics, but they almost always seem to involve biocides such as tea-tree oil, olive leaf extract, grape seed extract, rife machines, etc.  These are NO DIFFERENT than antibiotics, and all such treatment is accompanied by debilitating herxheimer reactions in many chronic cases.  Just because it is “natural” doesn’t mean it is safe, or the correct thing to do.  No biocide (synthetic, natural or energetic) ever kills everything, they just don’t.  What does not get killed, comes back stronger.   Not only that, the antibiotics and biocides have certainly wrecked the microbiome in the process (even if countered with heavy-duty probiotics), the main weapon you already had in your system to help keep the pathogenic microbes at bay to begin with.  (When someone hears the word microbiome these days, they immediately think probiotics is the solution, but it is so much more complicated than that!)  So, now you have a combination of stronger pathogens, and weaker microbiome.  Things just get more chronic thereafter, and harder to resolve.  Every single DIFFICULT case of chronic Lyme I have worked with, have had lots of antibiotics/biocides in their case histories, period.  Therefore, you see, going directly and solely after the microbial kingdom is never a good treatment plan, and usually a big mistake in the long run… you eradicate one bacterium or virus, there will be another one to take its place.  There will always be a microbe if you look for it.  WHY?  Because Nature uses the microbial kingdom –  the bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites – to break down waste matter, dead cells, and toxins,  to keep each other in check and maintain ecological balance.  Our bodies are no different.  Microbes are not to be feared or targeted, but understood, as these are an intrinsic part of LIFE itself.  These will lodge and create a problem ONLY if the terrain (e.g. your body) is full of waste and decaying matter.  Therefore, one needs to take a smarter approach.

Treating Lyme for the best possible outcome

Here’s what one should understand about LYME.  Lyme is primarily nothing but systemic acidosis, similar to Fibromyalgia or Lupus or Multiple Sclerosis, and many other similar chronic diseases – all diseases of systemic acidosis.  It’s no wonder that it gets mis-diagnosed for so long, but, what’s the point of even getting the correct diagnosis?  I repeat, notice how no antibiotic touches chronic Lyme… it may offer temporary relief, but symptoms come back with a vengeance, or morph into something else.  That’s because the spirochete is not the main problem (the terrain is) nor do the antibiotics do anything about cleaning and draining the lymphatic system, instead they simply add to the acidosis, as they proceed to wreck the microbiome.  The lymphatic system is the sewer system of our body, and the majority of the immune system lives in it.  It is the key missing focus in the treatment of chronic diseases.  The blood is always alkaline, and blood tests may not correctly and accurately show the toxicity that is the job of the lymph to carry, except for inflammation markers when they show up in a “blood test”.  (The blood deals with the nutrition, the lymph deals with the sewage.)

The simplest protocol to use if you get a tick bite is to apply a little paste of food-grade calcium bentonite clay to the site of the bite to help draw out any surface toxins (helps with itching).  Followed by a dose of Ledum 30c.  Repeat 4-6 hours apart for up to 3 doses (water dosing preferable for those of you who know how), ONLY if the bite continues to be irritated.  If redness and itching persists after 48 hours, or if there are subsequent symptoms, then seek a consult.

The best way to address chronic LYME and all similar diseases, is through understanding chemistry, and biology.  That we are made of a bunch of cells with two fluids surrounding each cell, the blood (20%) and lymph (80%).   The toxicity, the sewage, the waste are part of the lipid based lymphatic fluid.  Clean and reduce the acidosis by opening the body’s elimination channels.  How?  With the chemistry of the right foods (Diet) and herbs (Gemmotherapy) to alkalize and clean and drain this gigantic sewer system in our bodies.   (I have to mention here that I don’t recommend enemas, especially coffee enemas!)  Acidosis results in erosion and corrosion (death) of organ systems and their functions.  This includes the body’s methylation capabilities and genetic polymorphism (like the MTHFR) slowing down detoxification as a result, which in turn leads to more acidosis.  It’s a vicious cycle, like many progressively degenerative phenomena out there.  Through cleaning and drainage of the lymph, inflammation can be reduced, the vital organs and systems in the body can be re-generated and the microbiome strengthened, epigenetic markers reversed, ultimately facilitating the body’s self-healing capabilities, and it’s ability to appropriately DIGEST, ABSORB, UTILIZE, and subsequently CLEAN itself without help.  The vicious cycle then transforms to a health-promoting cycle.  Nothing magical about it, but simplicity accompanied by due diligence.  Along with the diet and Gemmotherapy, constitutional and miasmatic homeopathy is crucial to balance energetically at a deeper level, affecting mental, emotional (and even spiritual, if so inclined) of a person’s totality, sometimes you need that inner shift and growth to take place before physical symptoms start resolving… for sure, toxicity and acidosis can occur from mental and emotional stress and traumas in life, as well.  Stress affects the parasympathetic nervous system and shuts down the kidneys thereby slowing down detoxification.  EVERY SYSTEM in the body and mind is CONNECTED, and imbalance in either manifests as symptoms in both.  Furthermore, the role of the MIASM (hereditary susceptibilities) in Lyme is pretty significant and that’s what sets Homeopathy apart as we are able to address miasms so beautifully and effectively with it.  When thus addressed holistically, voila, no more symptoms.

Understand, not fear the problem.  Choose treatments and tools that regenerate your body and mind, not take away function from them even more.   By that I emphasize on cleaning and drainage first, BEFORE thinking nutritional deficiencies, as the norm is to always jump to thinking “nutrition” when hearing the words “regenerate” and “repair”.  Supplements are pretty useless (or temporary) until and unless digestion, absorption, and utilization are restored.  Those three important functions can not happen until the dead/damaged cells are cleared out and the remaining cells/organs/tissues are cleansed of the acids (waste) in the lymphatic fluids surrounding them so that they can perform their designated functions optimally.  This also allows the microbiome to re-seed and grow stronger, as the pathogenic microbes reduce with the reduction of waste matter in the body, resulting in a balanced eco-system within the body (and mind).

That brings me back to the tick population going out of control in the first place.  That  has been attributed to an imbalance in the eco-system of our environment subjected to the harsh chemicals and toxic wastes from industrialization, animal husbandry practices, all resulting in climate change.  What does that mean for all those toxic tick-killing products on the market?  (Tick Populations Booming due to Climate Change).  Sounds like a similar story to what’s happening inside our bodies, doesn’t it?  As within, so without.

The human microbiome – acute and chronic illness

Earlier this month, the New York Times published Microbes, a love story, in time for Valentine’s Day.  Yes, your microbes are what make you sexy… and brainy, and healthy, and what have you.  After all, inside our own bodies we are outnumbered ten to one (in the intestines alone there are 500-1000 different species of bacteria, and ten times as many living in it as human cells in the entire body).  This micro-biologic life in and on the human body is called the MICROBIOME.  The understanding of the microbiome is going mainstream and challenging the medical community to rethink many assumptions of health and illness, but, not nearly fast enough.  Doctors still prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics or other biocides all too often, and all too soon!  (See my post on biocides.)  On the other hand, probiotics have taken the non-conventional health world by storm, and dirt is the new superfood!

But, let’s understand this human microbiome first.  This mass of micro-organisms collectively weighing over 3 lbs. forms a continuous living shield, or bio-film, of nonhuman tissue that covers every square inch of skin, colonizes every orifice and lines most of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and urogenital tracts.  It plays a crucial role in almost every aspect of life including immunity, digestion, respiration, social interaction, sexual attraction, bonding, and reproduction.  Survival without it as NASA scientists have determined is nearly impossible.  Incidentally, it was the scientists working at NASA who first discovered the effects of depleting the microbiome while studying the results of long journeys into space in a bacteria poor environment.  Later on, the National Institute of Health (NIH) delved deep into it using genetic sequencing technology, and called it the Human Microbiome Project (HMP).  Amazingly, just as the human organism is completely dependent on the microbiome for growth and development and survival, the microbiome is also completely dependent on the human organism for its survival.  THIS IS TRUE SYMBIOSIS.  The more diverse the bacterial spectrums present in the human microbiome, the more stable and healthy the resulting super-organism.  Germophobes, take heed!  The erstwhile antibiotic premise that germs are bad and that impeccable hygiene is the cornerstone of human health is not correct anymore.  This emerging reality shifts away from the fear-based relationship one has with the environment and instead informs us to nurture and educate the complex microbiota within.  A self-sufficient, successfully operating ecosystem then becomes perfectly capable of dealing with pathogenic microbes (the “bad guys”) on its own, as and when the need arises.

It all starts at birth, as the baby makes its way down the birth canal and inoculates itself with a heavy dose of the mother’s vaginal flora.  Thereafter, the infant is a sponge for new bacteria and viruses, getting the nourishment and protection it needs mostly from mother’s milk while it figures out what is “self” and “friends of self” and what is not.  This process impacts all levels of development.  The nervous system, the limbic system, the immune system, the digestive and respiratory systems, and the sexual and reproductive systems all develop based on complex interactions with the microbiome.  Reduced biological exposure and microbiome diversity, particularly during early infancy is associated with significantly increased risk of developing immune related allergic and inflammatory conditions in childhood, adolescence and adulthood.  Cesarean section, formula feeding and overly hygienic conditions around these events dramatically reduce and limit exposure and accumulation of normal bacterial flora from the mother.   The earlier in life that bacterial exposure takes place the greater likelihood that immune system maturity and tolerance to these organisms will develop.  After this crucial neonatal time period passes, newly introduced organisms are more likely to trigger an oppositional immune reaction, or an infection.  Psychological trauma is another major factor known to influence and alter the gut microbiota.  Stress-induced alteration of the gut microbiota early in life may elicit long-lasting immune consequences and increase the risk of developing stress-related disorders later in life.  Throughout every activity for the rest of life, we are exposed to multitudes of bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites and the overwhelming majority of these organisms enter long-term complex relationships with the body, ultimately helping it survive in the environment.

Role of Acute Illness and the Immune System

Your microbiome is influenced by where you live, how much time you spend outdoors, people you work and live with, your diet, traumas you have experienced, etc..  The composition also changes at different points in life: adolescence, pregnancy, old age, etc.. Traveling abroad will often make people sick due to the change in environment, food, water, etc.  Seen through the lens of environmental science, acute infections are part of the normal negotiation process between the immune system and the microbiome, in fact they may even be considered essential training processes. Childhood infectious diseases were once considered necessary rites of passage for children.  Acute infections can result from first-time encounters between bacteria (or viruses) that the immune system has never seen before, but they can also result from changes in the balance of organisms in the microbiome, for example from the use of an antibiotic.  When that happens, some organisms that were previously held in check, may now overgrow and become invasive, triggering an immune compensatory response (such as the occurrence of yeast infections after antibiotics).  To reestablish balance, the immune system and the microbiome must adjust.

The first response to an acute infection is usually an acute inflammation such as fever which is just one of the tools used by the immune system to help it resolve the infection more efficiently by inhibiting the pathogens from multiplying.  Rushing to treat with anti-pyretic, anti-inflammatory, and steroidal medicines that are used to reduce this inflammation only end up impairing the immune system, making it impossible to fully resolve the infection.  The person may “feel better” in the short term due to the suppression of the inflammation.  But, what happens to that pathogen that has infiltrated the microbiome?  Well, then the recommendations for the antimicrobials follow.  Treatments using antibiotics, antivirals, antifungals, etc.  then proceed to damage the microbiome and further prevent the immune system from negotiating with the microbiome to incorporate and deal with the pathogen effectively.  Inevitably, these interventions prevent both the immune system and the microbiome from maturing. Permanent or lasting immunity cannot result under these circumstances, and the result – RECURRING infections.  Autoimmune conditions potentially also develop when the immune system is thus prevented from reacting to foreign antigens and ends up eventually attacking antigens within the body.

In reality, only the combined activity of both the immune system and the microbiome results in a healthy response.  This article, Microbiota talks cholera out of the gut, describes a study that provides an example of how gut resident bacteria can protect the host by reducing the pathogenicity of invading organisms, rather than simply competing for resources.  Acute infections thus are inevitable events in immune system development and diversification of the microbiome.
A quick side note: the systematic eradication of many childhood infectious illnesses through routine vaccination also prevents the immune system from experiencing the routine challenges of acute illness that helps it mature and provide lifetime immunity along the way, and therefore, deserves a re-evaluation.  Bacteria and viruses are intelligent life-forms and they have a directive to survive, they are going to mutate if necessary, as we are seeing with “superbugs”.  True herd immunity is this learning and negotiation and this ability to accommodate each other in a way that creates greater health in us and maintains the circulation of these bacteria and viruses within the society.  Support the process, not suppress it.  Most acutes can be safely, effectively and efficiently treated with homeopathy, gemmotherapy, tissue salts, the right foods and herbs, etc. without destroying the microbiome!

Let me re-emphasize that the stability of one’s health is directly related to the diversity of the microbiome and the integration of these communities of microbiologic life in conjunction with the host, that is the human body.  Microbiome damage and lack of diversity have both been associated with the tendency to develop many physical and mental illnesses. More and more medical conditions have been linked to either the failed diversity or the damaged ecology of the microbiome.  Disruption of these highly evolved and finely tuned bacterial relationships in the microbiome leads to failures of immune regulation, modulation, maturation, and tolerance.  When these functions are interrupted, the stage is set for the development of a host of CHRONIC health problems.

Chronic Inflammatory, Allergic, and Autoimmune Illness

Nearly half of all Americans have been diagnosed with at least one chronic health condition and at the current rate of growth, this number is expected to increase by another 42% over the next few years.  The incidence of chronic illness in children has also more than tripled since 1960 with asthma, learning disabilities, ADHD, and autism to name a few.  There is a virtual epidemic of chronic illness with nearly 70% of all deaths attributable to one or more of these conditions.  Unless we understand, and get on board with the importance and role of the microbiome, unfortunately that’s the reality we will have to be dealing with for a while to come, as most disturbances of the microbiome are iatrogenic: the result of well intentioned, but misguided medical interventions.  We have literally traded in epidemics of acute diseases for epidemics of chronic inflammatory diseases.  One of the most important lessons of the HMP is that humans must learn to live within the world of microbiology. “We’ve just spent the better part of a century doing our unwitting best to wreck the human-associated microbiota with a multifronted war on bacteria and a diet notably detrimental to its well-being.”

From experience with working with a wide array of chronic ailments in my homeopathic practice, I have observed the workings of the human microbiome first hand through remedy actions.  A fever, an acute incidence of diarrhea or a cold, and temporary aggravation of certain symptoms are some of the common reactions to well-chosen constitutional remedies that are prescribed for ANY chronic condition after a thorough intake and analysis of the person’s life history.  Followed by wellness and resolution of the chronic symptoms, immediately or gradually improving layer by layer depending on the person’s vitality and level of suppression that the microbiome has undergone in its lifetime.  Although the mechanism behind homeopathy is not well understood by many, neither was the human microbiome until it was studied with the most advanced scientific machinery available.  Homeopathy is a truly remarkable modality that synchronizes the actions of the body with the microbiome to promote natural healing and immune maturation.

According to researchers at California’s Institute of Technology (Caltech):
“A healthy, mature immune system depends on the constant intervention of beneficial bacteria. ‘It goes against dogma to think that bacteria would make our immune systems function better, … But the picture is getting very clear: the driving force behind the features of the immune system are commensals.'” – J. Ackerman, The Ultimate Social Network.

Needless to say, it behooves us to choose healthcare and treatments that work in conjunction with the microbiome, not against it.

Further reading:
The Human Microbiome Project (HMP)
The effect of infections on susceptibility to autoimmune and allergic diseases
Harvard study shows how antibiotics disrupt babies microbiomes
Aliens Inside Us: A (Mostly Friendly) Bacterial Nation
An Epidemic of Absence. A new way of understanding allergies and autoimmune diseases
Commensal bacteria control cancer response to therapy by modulating the tumor microenvironment
Microbial Manifesto: The Global Push to Understand the Microbiome
Postraumatic Stress Disorder: Does the Gut Microbiome Hold the Key?