How Vitamin D can help manage Multiple Sclerosis by protecting the nervous system.


There is evidence that Vitamin D Deficiency is associated with Multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune disease. Vitamin D supplementation is recommended to protect against progression of MS. In a study published in 2013, in JAMA Neurology the researchers found that higher serum 25(OH)D levels in the first 12 months predicted reduced MS activity and a slower rate of MS progression. By the end of the follow-up at 5 years, participants with serum 25(OH)D concentrations of at least 50 nmol/L (20-ng/mL, a moderate level) had significantly fewer new active lesions, a slower increase in brain lesion volume, lower loss of brain volume, and lower disability than those with serum 25(OH)D concentrations below 50 nmol/L. These results suggest that vitamin D has a protective effect on the disease process underlying MS. (

In a new study (below) published  in October 2016, the authors report how the active form of Vitamin D helps to reduce the inflammatory factors that destroy the myelination of the central nervous system and also helps restore a healthy immune function preventing the destructive demyelination of nerves.

Vitamin D modulates different IL-17-secreting T cell subsets in multiple sclerosis patients

Vitamin D deficiency is an environmental risk factor for MS, a Th17 cell-mediated autoimmune disease that results in demyelination in the CNS. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the ability of in vitro 1,25(OH)2D in modulating different Th17 cell subsets in MS patients in remission phase. In the present study, the production of Th17-related cytokines (IL-1β, IL-6, IL-17, IL-22), as well as GM-CSF, was significantly higher in cell cultures from MS patients than in healthy subjects (HS). The 1,25(OH)2D reduced all pro-inflammatory cytokines essayed, mainly those released from HS cell cultures. The proportion of both IL-17+IFN-γ+ (CD4+ and CD8+) T cells and IL-17+IFN-γCD8+ T cells was positively related with neurological disorders, determined by EDSS score. The addition of 1,25(OH)2D reduced not only these pathogenic T cell subsets but elevated the percentage of IL-10-secreting conventional (FoxP3+CD25+CD127CD4+) and non-conventional (IL-17+) regulatory-like T cells. Taken together, the results indicate that the active form of vitamin D should benefit MS patients by attenuating the percentage of pathogenic T cells. This effect could be direct and/or indirect, by enhancing classical and non-classical regulatory T cells.


Vitamin D modulates different IL-17-secreting T cell subsets in multiple sclerosis patients – da Costa, Denise S.M. Medrado et al. Journal of Neuroimmunology , Volume 299 , 8 – 18

Australia has a health crisis.

This country has a  crisis of chronic preventable disease and chronic unresolved stress. Here one in two people are overweight or obese. There are almost a million people with Type II diabetes and two million  estimated to be pre-diabetic  There are eight million Australians are predicted to be diagnosed with bowel cancer, a preventable condition. There are more than 353,800 Australians living with dementia. This number is expected to increase to 400,000 in less than five years. Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to be almost 900,000 by 2050. One million Australia have depression and another two million have a diagnosis of anxiety. Antibiotics are failing, some common bacteria has mutated and can now resist current medications. The top most prescribed 10 medications  in 2014 were for high cholesterol, hypertension,  pain and GERD (stomach acid reflux, heart burn , bloating).

The cost of medicine is increasing. “Expenditure on high cost drugs on the PBS is rising and, to date, it shows no sign of slowing. The growing incidence of diseases such as cancers and Alzheimer’s disease is likely to contribute to increased expenditure as new treatments become available.”  (

Most people in Australia work more than 40 hours a week often skipping a decent meal and  missing essential nutrients.  One and half million Australians don’t get a decent nights  sleep suffering from insomnia and other sleep disorders.  We are subjected to repeated stressors at work and at home and we have little time to truly relax and switch off. We soothe ourselves with junk food, alcohol and recreational drugs.

Despite all the diets people still gain the weight they lost. We are nutritional deficient,  we consume on average 30 tea spoons of sugar a day hidden in diet foods and health snacks, and take-away food. It is estimated as little as  2% of Australians Eat Enough Fruit And Veggies, and even if we did the vegetables and fruit found in our supermarkets   lack the nutrients we need because the over-farmed soil lacks the required minerals. Many people don’t get sufficient exercise. We sit down on average 12 hours or more a day. Sitting down for this long  is now said to be more deadly than smoking.

So what about you? 

Are you getting sufficient sleep?

Do you feel fatigued and stressed?

Are you in pain?

Do you exercise enough?

Do you and your family know how to get the nutrients you need to stay healthy and prevent disease?

Do you know the side effects of your medications?

What are you long term health goals?

How long do you want to live?

More evidence that Honey Suckle is an anti-inflammatory

honey suckle

Honey Suckle has been used in Tradition medicine for millennia. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) the flower of the honey suckle (Jin Yin Hua ) is a key herb in formulas for Flu, sore throats and acute skin rashes.   A new study concluded that the vine of the honey suckle would be a safe and promising natural drug in inflammation treatment.

In TCM the vine (Ren dong teng) helps clear pathogenic heat  (inflammation) and improves circulation. Reng dong teng is used in formulas to treat pain with swelling and bruising, so it is good for conditions like  arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, cervical spondylosis pain, gouty arthritis, etc.


Acupuncture relieves tension-type headache

Bottom line

The available evidence suggests that a course of acupuncture consisting of at least six treatment sessions can be a valuable option for people with frequent tension-type headache.

Tension-type headache is a common type of headache. Mild episodes may be treated adequately by pain-killers. In some individuals, however, tension-type headache occurs frequently and significantly impairs their quality of life. Acupuncture is a therapy in which thin needles are inserted into the skin at particular points. It originated in China and is now used in many countries to treat tension-type headache. We found randomised controlled trials to evaluate whether acupuncture prevents tension-type headache. We looked mainly at the numbers of people who responded to treatment, which means a halving of the number of days on which they experienced a headache

Key results

We reviewed 12 trials with 2349 adults, published up to January 2016. One new trialis included in this updated review.

Acupuncture added to usual care or treatment of headaches only on onset (usually with pain-killers) in two large trials resulted in 48 in 100 participants having headache frequency at least halved, compared to 17 of 100 participants given usual care only.

Acupuncture was compared with ‘fake’ acupuncture, where needles are inserted at incorrect points or do not penetrate the skin, in six trials. Headache frequency halved in 52 of 100 participants receiving true acupuncture compared with 43 of 100 participants receiving ‘fake’ acupuncture. The results were dominated by one large, good quality trial (with about 400 participants), which showed that the effect of true acupuncture was still present after six months. There were no differences in the number of side effects of real and ‘fake’ acupuncture, or the numbers dropping out because of side effects.

Acupuncture was compared with other treatments such as physiotherapy, massage or relaxation in four trials, but these had no useful information.

Quality of the evidence

Overall the quality of the evidence was moderate.


Acupuncture has been used to treat headaches for millennia. However we live in a world where empirical evidence from traditional medicines is  rejected by the mainstream so it is always pleasing to see Cochrane group publish a conclusion that Acupuncture works.


Green Tea Extract blocks Rheumatoid arthritis pathways

EGCG is a major active component from Green Tea and there is a vast amount of research that show it remarkable affects on human conditions like Parkinson’s , Alzheimer’s, dementia , and Rheumatoid Arthritis and as a chemopreventative medicine. EGCG extract is now widely available on the internet, but beware of low quality low concentrate products.

This report highlights the protective affects EGCG has on Rheumatoid Arthritis

By Lori Maricle, College of Pharmacy
SPOKANE, Wash. – Researchers at Washington State University in Spokane have identified a potential new approach to combating the joint pain, inflammation and tissue damage caused by rheumatoid arthritis.

Their discovery is featured on the cover of Arthritis and Rheumatology, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology, in print Tuesday, Feb 16. Read the article at

Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating autoimmune disorder that mostly affects the small joints of the hands and feet. It causes painful swelling that progresses into cartilage damage, bone erosion and joint deformity.

“Existing drugs for rheumatoid arthritis are expensive, immunosuppressive and sometimes unsuitable for long-term use,” said Salah-uddin Ahmed, the lead WSU researcher on the project.

His team evaluated a phytochemical called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which is a molecule with anti-inflammatory properties found in green tea. Their study suggests that EGCG has high potential as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis because of how effectively the molecule blocks the effects of the disease without blocking other cellular functions.

“This study has opened the field of research into using EGCG for targeting TAK1 – an important signaling protein – through which proinflammatory cytokines transmit their signals to cause inflammation and tissue destruction in rheumatoid arthritis,” said Ahmed.

The researchers confirmed their findings in a pre-clinical animal model of human rheumatoid arthritis, where they observed that ankle swelling in animals given EGCG in a 10-day treatment plan was markedly reduced.

Ahmed has focused his research on studies related to rheumatoid arthritis for the last 15 years.

The WSU team, which includes researchers Anil Singh and Sadiq Umar, has been studying rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases at the WSU College of Pharmacy in Spokane since 2014. They joined with researchers from the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research in Hajipur, India, for this project.

Their work was funded in part by the National Institute for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), part of the National Institutes of Health (AR-063104), and by the Arthritis Foundation and WSU.

Chinese Herbs show potential for treating Arthritis

Chinese Herbs show potential for treating Arthritis via control of autoimmune pathways


Chinese herbal formulas are used all over the world to relief symptoms of arthritis, but how they affect the body’s immune system is still an area of research. A recent study by Venkatesha et al, investigated how commonly used formulas, herbs and bioactive components   affected the complex pathways of our immune system.

The laboratory results showed how herbs and active components directly inhibited the immune system mechanisms that promote inflammatory responses and contribute to the symptoms such as swelling and pain.

This study proved some Chinese herbs/formulas including green tea extract (EGCG),  show great potential and it concluded these herbs and plants show promising resource for future medicine, but this is the biomedical model and until new medicines are developed we as practitioners can use our current knowledge of Traditional formulas to help people experience a better quality of life.

Conclusion from Study (This is open access so you can download the whole paper)

Plant-derived natural products offer a vital and promising resource for new therapeutic agents for RA and other autoimmune diseases. Practioners of the traditional systems of medicine prefer to use herbal extracts, either singly or in a formulation using multiple herbs. However, as part of its drug discovery process, the pharmaceutical industry frequently solicits purified herbal compounds which possess bioactivity that replicates, albeit exceeds, the bioactivity of the parental herbal extract. An unforeseen but not unexpected scenario in that case is that the purified compounds might be more potent, but at the same time they also might be more toxic, than the whole natural extract. Carefully planned dosing studies with suitable modifications in the product following an active collaboration between the academia and the industry would help further expand the applications of natural products in the treatment of autoimmune and other disorders. Similarly, there is a need for practioners of the mainstream (allopathic) medicine and those of CAM to work together on the use of these products for the treatment of various diseases. This is important to anticipate and manage unwanted interactions between conventional (allopathic) and CAM products being used concurrently by patients with autoimmunity and other diseases.


Shivaprasad H. Venkatesha, Brian Astry, Siddaraju M. Nanjundaiah, Hong R. Kim, Rajesh Rajaiah, Yinghua Yang, Li Tong, Hua Yu, Brian M. Berman, Kamal D. Moudgil, Control of autoimmune arthritis by herbal extracts and their bioactive components, Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Available online 15 February 2016, ISSN 1818-0876, (

Sleep Problems? What do you treat first ? Mind or body?

Here’s abstract on a study  I found last week. This is a great example of mind-body integration. Perhaps most of us know that constant worrying , suppressing negative emotions , being in toxic relationships and stressful work situations keep us a wake at night. But how many of us accept that  thoughts and feelings affect the body at a cellular level? It is more widely accepted now that inflammation is associated with depression. Research has found a correlation between elevated inflammatory markers and patients with depression. We don’t know whether inflammation can cause depression and it is unlikely it would in all cases because depression is a difficult concept to pin down and some argue against the validity of mental illness because it ignores the body.

​In this study on treatments for insomnia the adults were divided into 3 groups. One group undertook cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) for insomnia. Another group were taught tai chi chih (TCC) and the third group attended a regular sleep seminar education. Inflammation markers were measured before commencement of interventions and then at follow-up periods.

What is interesting is CBT and TCC are completely different in almost every way. CBT is a mind based therapy. TCC is a form of exercise which consists of series of movements completed in a sequence. People often see TCC as a form of mediation. CBT is self-reflective and self-analytical. TCC shifts our focus out of ourselves and into our body in which we feel each movement. Two very different methods and  both seemed to reduce inflammatory levels.

Firstly this is good news because it shows there is  more than one way to help with your sleep problem, well in this case insomnia associated inflammation. Secondly it shows that the body and mind are one.  It would have been useful if this study had measure the sleep improvements instead of just inflammatory markers.


Sleep disturbance is associated with activation of systemic and cellular inflammation, as well as proinflammatory transcriptional profiles in circulating leukocytes. Whether treatments that target insomnia-related complaints might reverse these markers of inflammation in older adults with insomnia is not known.
MethodsIn this randomized trial, 123 older adults with insomnia were randomly assigned to cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), tai chi chih (TCC), or sleep seminar education active control condition for 2-hour sessions weekly over 4 months with follow-up at 7 and 16 months. We measured C-reactive protein (CRP) at baseline and months 4 and 16; toll-like receptor-4 activated monocyte production of proinflammatory cytokines at baseline and months 2, 4, 7, and 16; and genome-wide transcriptional profiling at baseline and month 4.

As compared with sleep seminar education active control condition, CBT-I reduced levels of CRP (months 4 and 16, ps < .05), monocyte production of proinflammatory cytokines (month 2 only, p < .05), and proinflammatory gene expression (month 4, p < .01). TCC marginally reduced CRP (month 4, p = .06) and significantly reduced monocyte production of proinflammatory cytokines (months 2, 4, 7, and 16; all ps < .05) and proinflammatory gene expression (month 4, p < .001). In CBT-I and TCC, TELiS promoter-based bioinformatics analyses indicated reduced activity of nuclear factor-κB and AP-1.

Among older adults with insomnia, CBT-I reduced systemic inflammation, TCC reduced cellular inflammatory responses, and both treatments reduced expression of genes encoding proinflammatory mediators. The findings provide an evidence-based molecular framework to understand the potential salutary effects of insomnia treatment on inflammation, with implications for inflammatory disease risk.



Irwin, Michael R., et al. “Cognitive behavioral therapy vs. Tai Chi for late life insomnia and inflammatory risk: a randomized controlled comparative efficacy trial.” Sleep 37.9 (2014): 1543.