Low Dose Medicine
Low dose medicine is a new therapeutic approach which aims at restoring physiology through communicating or signaling molecules such as cytokines, interleukins, growth factors, neuropeptides, neurotransmitters and hormones prepared in low dose-active dilutions (through the homeopathic method of dilution and succussion) and therefore without side effects
Since these molecules have the same physiological concentration (nanograms to picograms) as the molecules present in our organism which control and regulate organic functions under healthy conditions, one could define low dose medicine as ‘regulating medicine’ but also as ‘preventive medicine’ since low dose active preparations have virtually no side effects.
Low dose medicine is also in many cases a resolutive therapy because it works on the whole organism directly by using molecules which work at the cellular level in order to re-direct biochemical pathways when these are deranged or inhibited.
By using low dose medicine one can act directly on the PNEI (psycho-neuro-endocrine-immunitary) system with the aim of regulating cell’s activity, when this is inhibited or disturbed by endogenous or exogenous stressors. At this level one is able to restore the capacities for cellular self-regulation which are indispensable for maintaining homeostasis.
Recent findings have shown that cytokines, interleukins, hormones, growth factors and neuropeptides, correctly diluted and dynamized become active, through a mechanism of sensitization and activation of cellular receptors.
As we will see in the therapeutic strategy, one of the best way to correct a deficiency is to provide low (activated) doses of the same substance to stimulate its metabolism and physiologic production, and the result of the action of these low dose active molecules is a physiological modulation and regulation of the biochemical pathways when these are deranged or inhibited.
In a nutshell, low dose medicine can be defined as an up-to-date integration of Homeopathy, Psycho-Neuro-Endocrine-Immunology (PNEI) and molecular biology.
Cytokines in low dose medicine
Cytokines can be described as small messenger and signaling molecules released by cells that have a specific effect on the interactions between cells, on the communication between cells and on the behavior of cells.
The term ‘cytokine’ encompasses a large and diverse family of messenger and signaling molecules produced throughout the body by cells of diverse embryological origin. There is no general agreement as to which molecules should be termed cytokine, and part of this difficulty in distinguishing cytokines from other molecules, is that some of the immunomodulating effects of cytokines are systemic, meaning that they act on the whole body system rather than on a localized system or organ.
Cytokines were officially recognized in 1979 and this discovery created a revolution in immunology and medicine in general. Since then, an enormous amount of research has been devoted to cytokines.
Cytokines are critical to the development and functioning of both the innate and adaptive immune response, they are often secreted by immune cells that have encountered a pathogen, thereby activating and recruiting further immune cells to increase the system’s response to the pathogen.
Although pivotal in triggering and regulating the immune response, they are not limited to the immune system alone, in fact many cytokines are now known to be produced by cells other than immune cells and they can have effects on non-immune cells as well.
Cytokines are also involved in several developmental processes during embryo genesis. The complex network of cytokines balances pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory effects, and an imbalance between pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines or the uncontrolled production of cytokines can result in chronic inflammatory disease, allergies or auto-immune disease.
Broadly speaking, cytokines can include different types of molecules like ‘monokines’ produced by mononuclear phagocytic cells, ‘chemokines’ produced by many kinds of leukocytes and other cell types, ‘lymphokines’ produced by activated lymphocytes (especially T helper cells), ‘interleukins’ that act as mediators between leukocytes, ‘peptides’ (cell signaling molecules), ‘growth factors’ which promote cell growth and ‘interferons’ (INF) which respond to infected cells and cancer cells.
One could also divide cytokines according to their biological role such as growth factors which promote cell growth proliferation and differentiation, interleukins and lymphokines which are capable of creating a communicating network within the immune system, and chemokines and lymphokines which are mainly involved in inflammation.
Unfortunately cytokines used by immunologists and other medical specialists in conventional medicine are in pharmacological doses and have very strong and sometimes lethal side-effects.
In low dose medicine, on the other hand, cytokines are used in low ‘activated’ doses without any side effects and with the therapeutic concept of modulating and regulating cell activity and cell communication and restoring natural physiology.
Low dose cytokines have the same physiological concentration (nanograms to picograms) as the molecules present in our organism and work through a mechanism of sensitization and activation of cellular receptors.
The result of the action of these low dose cytokines is a physiological modulation of the system cell’s activity and restoration of the capacity for cellular self-regulation.
By using low dose cytokines one can also up-regulate or down-regulate, if needed, the immune system responses without any side-effects according to each individual case, resulting in a perfect modulation of all immune processes during an infection outbreak.
The ‘feel good’ brain molecules
Serotonin – The ‘feel good’ neurotransmitter
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which plays an important role in regulating mood, memory, learning, and blood pressure, as well as appetite and body temperature.
Serotonin is synthesized from tryptophan (an essential amino acid) and it is primarily found in the gastrointestinal tract (90%), where it regulates bowel movement and in the central nervous system (CNS where it performs its primary functions.
A natural source of tryptophan as a dietary supplement is the Griffonia simplicifolia plant (sold over the counter as 5HTP). A seed extract of this plant taken daily naturally increases serotonin levels.
The herbal extract of St.John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum) which is often used in the treatment of mild to moderate depression and anxiety disorders seem to be effective due to several chemicals, including hypericin, hyperforin, and flavonoids which stimulate the production of the serotonin and dopamine.
Serotonin is regarded as an adaptogen, since it promotes contentment and it is a responsible for the regulation of mood, appetite and normal sleep. It also has some cognitive functions, including memory and learning.
Some of the natural strategies to stimulate serotonin production are exposure to bright light, as there is a positive correlation and interaction between serotonin synthesis and bright light; exercise, which, as some research suggests, seem to increase serotonin function in the brain along with its precursor tryptophan (which seem to persists after exercise); and a diet rich in tryptophan found in most protein-based foods or supplements.
According to another study, self -induced positive moods can influence positively serotonin synthesis which in turn sustains a feeling of well being.
Progesterone inhibits the enzyme ‘monoamine oxidase’ (MAO) which is responsible for breaking down serotonin and enhances serotonin receptivity in the female brain.
Low serotonin levels produce insomnia and depression, aggressive behaviour, increased sensitivity to pain, migraines and are associated with obsessive-compulsive eating disorders.
Alterations in serotonin levels have also been shown to regulate bone mass, where low levels can be predictor of low bone density.
Conventional antidepressant medications work by selectively inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin in the brain and can be classified as ‘selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors’ (SSRIs); ‘monoamine oxidase inhibitors’ (MAOIs) (which prevent the breakdown of monoamine neurotransmitters including serotonin) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) which inhibit the reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine.
Dopamine – The reward, pleasure and satisfaction neurotransmitter
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for the reward-driven learning, motivation, healthy assertiveness, sexual arousal, emotional responses and proper immune and autonomic nervous system functions.
An increase in dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens occurs in response to a feeling of reward (like winning money, handling banknotes or making a discovery etc), sexual stimulation, feeling in love, music, and during the course of drug addiction.
There is a close association between the dopaminergic reward system and opiates, in fact, all drugs, from alcohol to cocaine, heroin and nicotine, increases dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens area of the brain, and many people like to describe a spike in dopamine as kind of feeling of ‘motivation’ or ‘pleasure’.
In general, opioids in the central nervous system (CNS) exert their analgesic effect by increasing dopamine release and inhibiting GABA’s effect on dopaminergic neurons which are those of the ‘reward center’. Dopamine can also increase in the nucleus accumbens in people with post-traumatic stress disorder when they are experiencing heightened vigilance and paranoia.
In one recent study, meditation was reported to increase the release of dopamine.
Several important diseases of the nervous system like Parkinson’s disease, which is caused by loss of dopamine-secreting neurons in the substantia nigra; attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and restless legs syndrome (RLS) are associated with dysfunctions of the dopamine system.
Schizophrenia has been shown to involve elevated levels of dopamine activity in the mesolimbic pathway.
Dopamine cannot cross the blood-brain barrier to directly affect the central nervous system, so it cannot be given as a drug in general, but, as we have seen, the low dose active preparation will stimulate its production physiologically when this is needed.
Foods that increase dopamine levels include bananas, nuts and seeds, chicken, eggs, fish especially mackerel, salmon, striped bass, rainbow trout, tuna, and sardines, wheat germ, watermelon, beans, legumes and beets (betaine contained in beets acts as a stimulant for the production of SAM-e which is directly related to the production of dopamine and serotonin).
SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) is a molecule which plays a role in the immune system, maintains cell membranes, and helps to produce and break down brain chemicals, such as serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine.
Dopamine is easily oxidized so it is advisable to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables whose antioxidants help protect dopamine-using neurons from free radical damage.
Oxytocin – The bonding, love and trust hormone
Oxytocin is a hormone released by the pituitary gland which also acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain. It is released during hugging, touching, and orgasm in both sexes.
In the brain, oxytocin is involved in social recognition and bonding, romantic love, maternal behavior and may be involved in the formation of trust between people and generosity.
Because of its ability to break-down social barriers, to induce feelings of optimism,to increase self-esteem, and to build trust, oxytocin can help to overcome social inhibitions and fears. Since oxytocin affects social distance between adult males and females, it may be responsible for romantic attraction and subsequent monogamous bonding.
Oxytocin has the ability to reduce stress since it modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis by indirectly inhibiting the release of ACTH hormone and by reducing cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
Oxytocin has proven anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting certain cytokines and can be of help in wound healing and inflammatory pain.
Melatonin – The ‘long life’ hormone
Melatonin is a neurohormone derivative of serotonin, secreted by the pineal gland which is the most important neuroendocrine organ in the brain.
The pineal gland translates an external signal (daily and seasonal variation in light and temperature) into a specific hormonal secretion which regulates the endocrine functions.
The principal factor affecting melatonin secretion is light, which inhibits its secretion, whereas darkness has the opposite effect from light, resulting in an increase of melatonin secretion.
Alterations in circadian rhythms may cause the onset of numerous pathologies like emotional problems (serious depression), immune deficiency, psychosomatic disorders, dermatological pathologies such as psoriasis and vitiligo, problems linked with food intake (bulimia, mental anorexia), sleep disorders, problems with puberty, and possibly cancer .
Melatonin has been proved to increase REM sleep time and dream activity, and users have reported an increase in the vividness of dreams and lucid dreaming.
Besides the regulation of circadian rhythms and sleep the pineal gland hormone melatonin has been found to directly modulate catecholamine (epinephrine and norepinephrine) and cortisol (the stress hormone) levels; it controls the diurnal cycle of glucosteroids and inhibits hydrocortisone synthesis in the adrenal glands.
During stress, elevated amounts of hydrocortisone inhibit melatonin synthesis, thereby causing vascular damage, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and eventual organ failure.
Since stress hormones affect memory processing, melatonin can be regarded as a modulator and enhancer of memory functions.
In Alzheimer’s disease melatonin may prevent neuronal death caused by exposure to the amyloid beta protein, a neurotoxic substance that accumulates in the brains of patients with this disorder.
Melatonin is a powerful free-radical scavenger and wide-spectrum antioxidant, twice as active as vitamin E and with a particular role in the protection of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.
Recent research has supported the anti-aging properties of melatonin, since it neutralizes oxidative damage and may delay the neurodegenerative process of aging. Clinical studies indicate that melatonin is an effective preventive treatment for migraines and cluster headaches.
Studies have also shown that women with low levels of melatonin secretion have been found to be more prone to develop diabetes (type 2) than women with high levels.
Melatonin interacts with the immune system by stimulating cell mediated acquired immunity and the production of cytokines and it has been proven useful in fighting viral, and bacterial infections, and potentially in the treatment of cancer.
Studies suggest that people with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may have lower than normal levels of melatonin and that melatonin supplementation decreases sleep latency and increases total sleep time.
To conclude, we can regard melatonin as a ‘starter’ which, depending on the gravity of the problem, is able to regulate countless fragile mechanisms which ensure a well balanced PNEI (pyscho-neuro-endocrine-immunitary) system and the maintenance of health.