Anti-Inflammatory Diet

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Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle.
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Gulf War Syndrome

Gulf war syndrome (GWS)is now officially a disease. It shares many of the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity and post traumatic shock syndrome. In other words, GWS is the body’s response to neurotoxins (acetylcholinesterase inhibitors) under inflammatory conditions.

The nervous system has to detect external signals, transmit the sensory information to the brain, process the information, transmit signals to peripheral organs/muscles, and stimulate responses in peripheral organs/muscles. At the molecular level, all of this detection and transmission of signals is accomplished by small molecules binding to and changing the shape/function of proteins. Disrupting the interaction between the small signal molecules (neurotransmitters) and their protein receptors is used throughout nature as an attack on the most vulnerable animal characteristic, the nervous system. Examples of nerve system attackers include mushroom toxins, plant alkaloids (atropine), spider/insect/frog/snake venoms, organophosphate/chloride pesticides, and mustard/nerve gas.

During the Gulf War, several chemicals that mimic neurotransmitters were used with the intent to protect soldiers. The neurotransmitter mimicked was acetylcholine, which is the signal used between peripheral nerves and muscles. Nerve gas targets acetylcholine signaling by blocking the enzyme, acetylcholinesterase, that sits in the space between the nerve and muscle and destroys the acetylcholine in preparation for the next signal. I have illustrated a model of the acetylcholine enzyme and have an inhibitor (grey and red) bound in the cavity of the active site of the enzyme. The active site is lined with hydrophobic tryptophan (yellow) and tyrosine (orange) amino acids.

The pesticides used by the soldiers were designed to kill or repel insects, but they also act as acetylcholine mimetics and bind to acetylcholinesterase. These include Lindane (left), Permethrin (right) and DEET (lower left).

The American soldiers were also forced to take a chemical to protect them from nerve gas. This compound, pyridostigmine (lower right) bind reversibly to acetylcholinesterase and since nerve gas is very reactive, presumably the pyridostigmine will protect some of the acetylcholinesterase until the nerve gas is depleted.

Unfortunately it appears that both the insecticides and the pyridostigmine had a permanent impact on the nervous systems of many of the Gulf War soldiers. Soldiers from other countries did not use the same chemicals on their soldiers, so they were not similarly affected.

It is now fairly well established that pesticides and pyridostigmine were involved in causing Gulf War Syndrome, but very little research has been performed to explain how these chemicals cause the damage or what therapy can reverse the damage.

It appears to me that GWS occurs in similar manner to related illnesses, e.g. chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple chemical sensitivity, fibromyalgia, which can also be induced by organophosphate pesticide exposure. Two insults to the body appear to be needed: acetylcholine signal disruption and inflammation. The acetylcholine mimetics (pesticides, pyridostigmine) disrupted the nervous system and numerous immunological, infectious, chemical and emotional stresses generated a high level of chronic inflammation. The vaccine against anthrax and exposure to burning oil wells may have contributed to inflammation.


Unknown said...

Dr. - please if you have ANY other info about this please share. My husband came back from the gulf war with idiopathic anaphylaxis that have no trigger. They happen whether he is awake or sleeping anytime, place, etc. He has survived dozens but each attack gets a little worse and our 4 children need their father. His specialist asked if he was exposed and the VA has granted him disability but no information. Ir there a way to reverse the damage? Any treatment hopes? Any advice please Thank you, thank you for writing this and taking the time.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Sorry that your husband suffers. My brother also served there.

I don't have any particular treatments. I would recommend the Anti-Inflammatory Diet that I outline on this blog. It would be interesting to find out if your husband has a response to enhanced vitD3, high omega-3 to -6 (avoid vegetable oils, supplement with fish oil) avoid alcohol, enhance sulfur amino acids with acetylcysteine and taurine, vitamin C, low carbs, plenty of meat/fish/eggs, and don't avoid saturated fats.
Let me know how this diet works and let me know if exercise helps.

Thanks for your comments.

Dr. Art Ayers said...

I was just thinking about the possibility of gut biofilms contributing to his problems. If he hasn't already, your husband should have a colonoscopy. The total bowel irrigation with PEG should strip off most of the biofilms and may give him some relief.

Just a thought.

Unknown said...

Thank you Dr.!

So far so good - no attacks yet this year, knock on wood. He did go have the colonoscopy as well. Any ideas are always welcome!

Blue Skies,

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Glad to hear the good news. Keep track of your husband's vitD level and make sure that it is up at the >60 ng/dl level. Exercise is also very helpful in any form appropriate.

Good luck. Let me know if I can provide helpful input.

Jamie Gipson said...

Hello again Dr. Ayers,

My husband has had three attacks in the last two weeks. Please keep me updated if you have any new findings or further suggestions. This is terrifying, but we are grateful he survived all three. Thank you again for your time.

Jamie Gipson and family

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Just a couple of things that you may look into:
low dose naltrexone -- found useful in some cases of chronic fatigue syndrome
mast cell stabilizers -- these prevent release of histamine and other mast cell components, and are different from anti-histamines

baderwoman007 said...

I am a gulf war vet ad one of the 100,000 that were given the anthrax shot, in addition to the shot we took the NAP pills. We used DEET around the camp site and the chemical alarms went off for Sarinn gas, was told false alarm. Here is my question: 12-13 yrs ago I had half my thyroid removed with a 3 inch goiter, Dec 6 2010 had an atyoical with unusual aggressive tendancies brain meninigioma brain tumor removed. Now 4 months post op I am having issues with rapid heart beat, dr's are looking at Vagus Nerve Damage? Some of the symptoms for nerve damage I have had for years 15 yrs or so and did not think much of it because it seemed minor. Is it possible that something I was exposed to could have caused the tumor and the tumor held off any major effects from the nerve damage until after it was removed?

James Moss said...

Fairly accurate list of "causes". I'm the person who discovered the interactions. Most people overlook lindane. Being the "expert" on this, I'd like to offer something. The lasting damage was probably not on the CNS. It was likely direct or secondary effects on the immune system.

James Iredell Moss


Terri Sexton said...

I have had every symptom of the gulf war syndrome in never ending cycles - I even had the rash. I tested negative for all other possible issues - the problem is I have never been in the military but the one thing I do have in common is that I received Cipro - for a simple urinary tract infection in 2003 - 10 years later and still suffering with no help. I want my life back.

Terri Sexton said...

I failed to mention previously that I had 6 months of Cipro and Levaquin. I spent 70% of my life in the first three years in the bed - I thought I was going to die and at times wish I had. My life has been forever changed for the worst. Before Cipro I was a runner - I ran 6 miles a day and had a full active life. After Cipro I couldn't walk for two weeks. I absolutely hate living in a body that controls everything in my life. I feel like I am 90 years old but I look healthy. Terri Sexton