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About This Episode
Immune Health | The Body’s Line of Defense
In this episode of Discover | Dr. Dan Proactive Health Dr. Dan discusses all of the scientific information around immune health and the new scientific research to improve it. He discusses good bacteria, bad bacteria and how certain supplements can help increase the amount of good bacteria to improve immune health. He also discusses a new scientific discovery of quorum sensing and how this is changing the way people can improve their immune health. Listen to the full podcast below.
What is Immune Health
Understanding the different parts of immune health is essential to understanding how to improve it. Immune health is divided into two sections, the basic foundation and the immune response. The purpose of the basic foundation of immune health is to allow for a positive immune response. These two components work together to help the body fight the war between good and bad bacteria. The immune health response is the most important part of immune health and is what Dr. Dan focuses on in this podcast episode. He states, “The immune response refers to the antibodies, macrophages and other immune fighting compounds that are active. They’re the standing army, and they’re waiting to fight off infection. One way to think about the immune system, it is a war between the body and viruses and bacteria.” Because of this constant war, those that do everything they can to support good bacteria and their body’s natural healing capabilities are going to come out on top of this war. Dr. Dan also notes that as levels of good bacteria go up, bad bacteria numbers decrease and immune health improves.
The Implications of the New Science of Quorum Sensing
In recent years, there has been new scientific discovery about the habits of bacteria that are revolutionizing immune health. Quorum sensing, in its most basic form, is the idea that bacteria communicate with one another, which is how they grow. Dr. Dan notes the following about what is chemically going on in our bodies when quorum sensing is occuring:
The way quorum sensing works is that the bacteria secrete small molecules called autoinducers. They secrete them through the host bacteria, it floats in the liquid surrounding the bacteria and these small compounds are picked up by other bacteria. And so they’re constantly secreting these autoinducers, these small molecules and these small molecules are being picked up by neighboring bacteria. And when the concentration of these small molecules is large enough, what happens is it turns on chemical switches in these bacteria that allow them to do different things like become mobile, become virulent, make biofilms … and when bad bacteria start doing quorum sensing, that’s bad because now they become virulent, now their ability to infect the host increases exponentially.
Understanding how bacteria communicates is the first step to improving immune health and that is what the new discovery of quorum sensing is doing.
How to Inhibit Quorum Sensing and Improve Immune Health
This discovery of how bacteria communicate with one another is allowing scientists to take a closer look at how to inhibit these communications. They have also discovered that good bacteria and bad bacteria communicate differently and so unlike antibiotics that kill all bacteria, they can inhibit bad bacteria communications without decreasing the amount of good bacteria at the same time. There are several ways that scientists are discovering can inhibit quorum sensing in bad bacteria. Dr. Dan notes, “So the good news is that mother nature has produced compounds from plants that we’ve studied here at Brilliant that can inhibit quorum sensing. So these molecules are found from diverse places all throughout Mother Earth.” There are so many naturally occurring molecules and elements that can inhibit quorum sensing, allowing good bacteria to grow to help fight infection and improve immune health. Dr. Dan mentions natural products such as Selenium, cloves, rutin, hesperidin, broccoli extract, rosmarinic acid, guava leaf and more. By including some of these naturally occurring products, whether by supplement in using more cloves in cooking, Dr. Dan assures the listener that quorum sensing will decrease and immune health will improve.
To learn more about immune health and quorum sensing, check out the Discover | Dr. Dan Proactive Health podcast episode below, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Tuesday.
Dr. Dan Gubler: (00:09)
Welcome to Discover with Dr. Dan | The Proactive Health Podcast sponsored by Brilliant. Brilliant helps you live a happier, healthier, and more brilliant life by using natural ingredients to formulate products that help to maximize your proactive wellness. Feel it to believe it at feelbrilliant.com. Today, we’re going to talk about immune health and new strategies we can utilize to promote health of the immune system. Immune health is obviously on the top of everyone’s mind with the COVID-19 pandemic raging throughout the world. But immune health has always been a critical issue to focus on. A strong immune system allows the body to spend more time focusing on other aspects of human health, rather than constantly trying to get on top. Our body is constantly under attack from bacterial and viral invaders, also known as pathogens. Pathogens are nasty. They never sleep, they never take a break and they are always dividing and growing in an attempt to survive themselves and to gain power over the host in which they reside. Lifestyle factors can weaken the immune system. Sleep deprivation, which we’ve talked about before in other episodes, lowers the number of antibodies present in the cell and as a result, weakens the ability of the immune system to fight off bad bacteria. Poor diet also degrades immune health. As many of the small molecules we eat in a healthy diet can strengthen the immune system and we’ll talk more about diet and natural compounds in foods here in a minute.
Dr. Dan Gubler: What is Immune Health: (01:44)
When it comes to the immune system, there are two basic components, the basic foundation and integrity of the immune system and the immune response. The basic foundation for, and the general structure of the immune system refers to the inherent ability of the immune system to initiate and cause the immune response, while the immune response refers to the antibodies, macrophages and other immune fighting compounds that are active. They’re the standing army, and they’re waiting to fight off infection. One way to think about the immune system, it is a war between the body and viruses and bacteria is to envision a factory that produces tanks and deploys them in an active war. The general integrity of the immune system is akin to the ability of the factory to constantly produce and manufacture these tanks and have it in active production. While the immune response is akin to the number of tanks already on the ground and poised to protect against the enemy. Both components are a vital importance if you’re going to be able to win the immune health war. Continuing on the analogy above, the problem is the current methods for boosting immune health are focusing on getting more tanks on the ground, but they’re ignoring the focus about manufacturing tanks. Obviously you can’t get more tanks on the ground if you’re not making tanks in the first place. And the same is true with the immune system. Immune health products that only provide vitamin C or elderberry or any of the hot immune health ingredients today are designed to try to increase the immune response by producing higher levels of antibodies without addressing the root cause of allowing and helping the immune system to have the capability to initiate the immune response. So it might be surprising, but if you are going to address, fundamentally address the health of the immune system, we need to go to the gut. For every one of the trillion human cells in our body we have 10 bacterial cells that mostly reside in our gut. There’s thousands of different species of bacteria that live symbiotically in our bodies. Viewer, if you gathered up all the bacteria residing in our gut, they would weigh over three pounds, which is about the same weight as the human brain. This collection of bacteria, living symbiotically within our bodies is called the microbiome. Bad bacteria also reside in our gut and in our war analogy, good and bad bacteria are constantly fighting for position. It’s a land war since the amount of surface area in the gut is finite. So if levels of good bacteria are going up, levels of bad bacteria must be going down and vice versa. Good bacteria play a factor, a mental role in helping the body produce antibodies like immunoglobulins and increase the number of defensive tanks in the body. When good bacteria is overrun by bad bacteria, then the capacity of good bacteria to support the immune system is significantly limited or in some cases wiped out completely.
Dr. Dan Gubler: How to Improve Immune Health: (04:47)
The question then is how can we decrease concentration of bad bacteria in the body while maintaining or actually increasing the amount of good bacteria? Well, antibiotics aren’t the answer. While antibiotics have helped millions of people regain their health, antibiotics indiscriminately kill both good and bad bacteria. Long-term antibiotic use can severely damage gut health. This is why many medical professionals are now recommending patients take a probiotic at the same time as their antibiotics. So we can’t take antibiotics because that’s bad, the general immune health ingredients used today are only helping to initiate the immune response. But that really doesn’t make sense because if you’re not increasing the inherent capacity of the immune system, trying to increase the immune response, that doesn’t really work. So new technology is needed here. And so one potential avenue is a phenomenon that’s recently been discovered called quorum sensing. Now quorum sensing was first discovered and identified by marine biologists studying an obscure squid, living off the coast of Hawaii called the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid. And what they found is this squid at different times would fluoresce, would glow it at different points in its life cycle and other times it wouldn’t. And when they studied this squid, they found that there was a species of bacteria living symbiotically in the skin of the squid. And what they found is that when the concentration of bacteria was large enough, the squid would fluoresce, and when concentrations of a bacteria were small, they were underneath a certain threshold, then the squid would not fluoresce. So that started a wave of research where microbiologists found that all species of bacteria, both good and bad, including viruses, communicate with each other called quorum sensing.
Dr. Dan Gubler: What is Quorum Sensing: (06:45)
So we understand the concept of a quorum, right? A quorum in business, in religious organizations and civic organizations, in order to make important decisions you need a certain amount of people there that form a quorum. Same thing is true with bacteria. That’s why it’s called quorum sensing. When you have enough bacteria that are present, then new and interesting things, biology happens. So chemically the way quorum sensing works is that the bacteria secrete small molecules called autoinducers. They secrete them through the host bacteria, it floats in the liquid surrounding the bacteria and these small compounds are picked up by other bacteria. And so they’re constantly secreting these autoinducers, these small molecules and these small molecules are being picked up by neighboring bacteria. And when the concentration of these small molecules is large enough, what happens is it turns on chemical switches in these bacteria that allow them to do different things like become mobile, become virulent, make biofilms, it’s kind of akin to leveling up in a video game, right? If your score becomes high enough then it opens up unlocks new features and you go to the next level. That’s what’s happening here with bacteria. And when bad bacteria start doing quorum sensing, that’s bad because now they become virulent, now their ability to infect the host increases exponentially. So we need to interrupt quorum sensing. Oh, that would be cool, right? If we can interrupt the way that bacteria talk to each other, especially bad bacteria. One thing that’s cool, scientists have found that the chemical language, the communication language with good and bad bacteria, they’re different languages. And so what if you were able to find a way to selectively interrupt the chatter or the communication between bad bacteria while leaving good bacteria untouched, letting them continue to talk in their language? That would be a really cool approach that would be remarkably different from antibiotics that indiscriminately kill good and bad bacteria. So the idea would be to find what are called quorum sensing inhibitors that would inhibit the growth of bad bacteria. So if you could do this, you would have a novel strategy for supporting health of the immune system and a lot of really other cool aspects of health where killing bad bacteria selectively is really important.
Dr. Dan Gubler: Inhibiting Quorum Sensing: (09:15)
So the good news is that mother nature has produced compounds from plants that we’ve studied here at Brilliant that can inhibit quorum sensing. So these molecules are found from diverse places all throughout Mother Earth. And again, some of these molecules are found in the weirdest places, places you wouldn’t expect. So some of the ingredients of small molecules that can inhibit quorum sensing are the following. So one of them is Selenium. Selenium is a metal that’s naturally occurring in plants and other sources, it’s important in biology and it’s an ingredient that has been shown in the scientific literature to support immune health. Selenium’s a key component that sits in the center of the antibodies and it allows them to function properly. Selenium is only used by good bacteria and works by quorum sensing. So if we’re adding selenium to the system, we are increasing the ability of good bacteria to communicate and talk, and again, with this land war concept, when good bacteria are talking beneficially and they’re growing, bad bacteria must be — it’s overpowered and it’s going down. So clove powder has been used not only in cooking, but in traditional medicine concoctions for thousands of years. One of the reasons clove is used in medicinal concoctions, which was not known until research done by our group, is that clove inhibits crosstalk of bad bacteria and thus neutralizes any bad bacteria in the formulation that might diminish efficacy or even cause harm to the body. So clove is kind of like a disinfectant in medicinal applications and traditional medicine brews that kills bad bacteria. And so we noticed that and we used it in an application that we’ll talk about in the moment. Rutin and hesperidin are really cool compounds found in citrus fruits and they can inhibit the chemical switches of bad bacteria that make autoinducers or quorum sensing compounds. So these, these quorum sensing compounds, these chatter molecules are made by bacteria and so these two ingredients actually turn off the ability of bad bacteria to make these communication molecules. So rutin and hesperidin are found in citrus fruits. They’re really cool compounds. So you’ve heard the story that vitamin C is the ingredient in citrus fruits that cured scurvy and allowed the sailors to sell the scientific seas and be healthy. Well, that’s not exactly true. Now, what they told us in grade school isn’t the whole truth. In citrus fruits, these compounds rutin and hesperidium have been found to actually be the compounds that help to cure and alleviate scurvy. So these compounds were actually called vitamin P, substance P is what they called them in the beginning. And then they were able to isolate actually what compounds they were. So these are really important compounds, not only for health in general, but they inhibit quorum sensing. Chinese Skullcap is a really cool plant. It’s also called the golden herb in Chinese because of its many applications. There’s a compound in Chinese skullcap called baicalin and it’s a major bioactive compound in the plant. It works by espionage and by sabotaging the molecules emitted by bad bacteria, it intercepts them and it neutralizes them; really cool mechanism by how this works. Broccoli extract contains small molecules called sulforaphanes which act like hesperidin and rutin like we talked about before that help to turn off the switches that produce the bad chatter molecules of harmful bacteria. Rosemary powder, we’ve used Rosemary in cooking, right, it’s often used. It contains a compound called rosmarinic acid that modifies the structure of bad bacteria and their ability to communicate to the point — so what it actually does is it garbles the communication kind of like if you were sending a transmission and the transmission becomes garbled so that you can’t understand it. That’s what rosmarinic acid does to the chatter of bad bacteria. So bad bacteria send out a message, rosmarinic acid modifies it so that the other bad bacteria can’t read it. So that’s really cool. Guava leaf, the powder and compounds in guava leaf have been used to support wound healing and the reason for this is that it cuts off the communication of bad bacteria that get into a wound, form small biofilms and prevent resolution of the inflammation. So when you have a cut or a wound that doesn’t heal for a while, it’s because bad bacteria have gotten in there. They’re hiding out, they’re forming this biofilm or this protective shield around them and it’s very hard for the immune system of the body to get in there and to kill those bad bacteria. So guava leaf can actually inhibit the chatter of bad bacteria in the wound, disrupt biofilm and allow the wound to heal.
Dr. Dan Gubler: Brilliant’s Defend Product: (14:15)
And so this is really cool, really cool research some of which we have discovered in our studies studying natural compounds in plants. So these ingredients and few others have been combined into an innovative product we developed here at Brilliant called Brilliant Defend. And so this product addresses both areas of immune health, both maintaining and increasing the foundation of the immune system by disrupting the chatter of bad bacteria, and then also increasing the innate immune response. So we’ve done both applications here. So one thing that we did is we ran clinical studies to see if this actually worked. And so we ran what’s called a halo assay, where you grow bacteria and then at certain spots on the Petri dish you place your compound. And if your compound can inhibit bacterial growth, what will happen is bacteria will grow all over the plate, except for that circle area where you have dabbed your compound. And the more potent your compound is, the larger the circle is around the spot. And so we found that adding even just a very, very small amount of this Brilliant Defend formulation inhibited quorum sensing by over 90%. So basically bacteria were not able to communicate. And so that was really cool. We actually then took the supplement and had people take it before and after and we did saliva testing. In our previous episode talking about biosignaling reactions, we mentioned that saliva contains a bunch of different biomarkers, and there are a couple biomarkers in saliva that are immune related. So there’s a biomarker called SIGA immunoglobulin A, serum levels of immunoglobulin A and then IL 10, interleukin 10. Anyways, for each of these, you want these levels to be higher because the higher these levels are, that means that the standing army is stronger. That means the immune system is working properly and the standing army to fight off infection has increased. And so what we saw is when people took this supplement, this quorum sensing blend, they saw a five fold increase in these healthy immune antibodies and compounds. So, that was cool. We were able to patent this and this represents a really interesting approach for immune health. Quorum sensing also has many different applications. This technology is patented here at Brilliant, and we’re really excited. This marks a completely new way to help people. So immune health has always been important. During this COVID-19 pandemic though the emphasis on immune health has been greatly increased and I think that increase will continue. If this pandemic has taught us anything, I think it’s taught us about the importance of maintaining a strong and healthy immune system. And so for all of us who are going through this turbulent time, I think there’s going to be a paradigm shift in how we think about increasing and boosting the immune system. So, new technologies needed, quorum sensing is a really interesting way. Again, disrupting chatter of bad bacteria, that’s pretty cool stuff.
Dr. Dan Gubler: FAQs: (17:41)
So let’s now answer some of your questions. So are there certain foods we can eat that can support health of the immune system? So vitamin C again is the big one, but really it’s rutin and hesperidin and other compounds called flavonoids that are the active compounds and citrus fruits that boost the immune system through this quorum sensing mechanism. So rather than drinking orange juice or different things with vitamin C, you want to find a botanical extract where they’ve gone in and they’ve grabbed hesperidin and rutin and other polyphenols, and they’ve plucked them out. And taking a supplement or a powder, ingredients like that, some of these are in this Brilliant Defend product that we talked about, that’s really what’s important for health. So eat a lot of citrus, other spices, like we talked about. Clove, rosemary, load up on those herbs when you’re cooking, because again, it not only adds flavor and it’s delicious, but it has compounds in there that are killing and inhibiting the ability of bad bacteria to communicate. So another question is what can I do besides diet that can help strengthen my immune system? So meditation and mindfulness is a big deal. A lot of people are talking about it. It’s a really important factor for human health. Cortisol is a, is a killer, right? The stress response in the body. What has been shown though in the scientific literature is that cortisol actually kills off good bacteria. So when we’re stressed and we produce cortisol, it goes directly through a signaling mechanism to the gut and kills good bacteria. So meditation and mindfulness can help to reduce cortisol levels to reduce the stress response and that in turn can increase good bacteria and actually strengthen our immune system. So that’s something that’s interesting to think about especially in times where we’re stressed and we think, “Well, why do I need to take time to meditate or breathe?” But doing this not only helps to give cognitive function and help us feel better cognitively, but it can also support the immune system.
Dr. Dan Gubler: Final Thoughts: (19:51)
So it’s been great talking with you. If you’d like to check out the supplements that Brilliant has developed based on quorum sensing, check out our solutions at feelbrilliant.com. Thank you my friends, take care. This is Dr. Dan, singing off.