Bringing Chickenpox to the Boil

Bringing Chickenpox to the Boil

by Hilary Butler

Avid readers of dramatic novels from yesteryear will recall stories from the days when fevered patients were watched over by family, and the oldies in the group just “knew” that a proper fever would “break” with a sweat. When that happened, they knew that the prognosis would be good. Of course, such sentiments today would be greeted with alarm, or scepticism, by those who consider illness should never be endured.

Isn’t that why acetaminophen (in all their different brand names) is reached for, at the first sign of a fever?

In 2001, a headline

1 made me look twice. “Sweat has the power to fight off disease.” We were told that sweat contains a versatile antibiotic that may be on the front line against disease-causing bacteria and that: “The researchers said dermcidin probably plays a key role in the innate immune responses of the skin”.  A news roundup from the British Medical Journal told us2 that dermcidin killed escherichia coli, enterococcus faecalis, staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans. It was active at high salt concentrations and the acidity range of human sweat. In concentrations of 1–10 μg/ml, it killed all of the staph aureus colonies in only four hours. Unsurprisingly, the scientists didn’t know how dermcidin worked.

Up until the late 1990s the skin was simply thought to be a “barrier” with no active participation in the immune system. The original 2001 paper

3 said that during some inflammatory skin disorders and wound healing, skin cells functioning within a salty sweat with a pH of 4–6.8, produced many effective pharmacologically active substances, such as immunoglobulin A, interleukin 1, 6 and 8, tumour necrosis factor, transforming growth factor β receptor, epidermal growth factor, and a prolactin-inducible protein.

As time has gone on, other researchers have taken a closer look at skin, and have found that the neutrophil,

4 which is the professional phagocyte of fundamental importance for defence against micro-organisms, provides instant help, not only in microbial infection,5 but to the growth factors when the skin is broken and there is a risk of infection. Another article6 says that mast cells, macrophages and skin cells produce antimicrobial peptides. These are called cathelicidin, which disrupts bacterial cell walls, modifies the host cells inflammation, and provides additional immune defence. At the heart of this all, is our friendly neutrophil:

“These studies clearly illuminate the importance of neutrophil recruitment in cutaneous defense against bacterial infection. … Recent advances in understanding of innate immune defense systems have suggested that these ancient evolutionary immune mechanisms may be important to human disease yet previously underappreciated.” (Underlining mine)

The article looked at whether just skin and mast cells were involved, or whether neutrophils were also important. Using mice, they found that mice with few neutrophils developed much worse tissue death (necrosis) and had 3,000 times the amount of bacteria on the skin than mice with active neutrophils. The skin cells worked hard and could produce some cathelicidin on their own, but didn’t have the killing power of the skin cells plus neutrophils. The article’s conclusion said that life-threatening necrotizing skin and soft-tissue infections can develop in patients with depressed neutrophils, but that numerous examples exist of patients with increased frequency of skin infections who have no

“demonstrable defect 7 in leukocyte recruitment or function.”

Properly fed, healthy children, whose parents know what to do, and what not to do, will rarely get any complications to chickenpox. As was the case for our children, well-managed chickenpox should not even lead to any scarring. So let’s ask some questions here, with chickenpox in mind. What is the function of fever?

Here’s a really simple statement11 from twenty years ago: “… elevated body temperature enhances the infl ammatory response and function of the immune system at the same time that it reduces the replication of microbes and tumor cells.”

 

 

 

 

Not so simple is this sentence.

 

“Fever also appears to be a prominent component of cytokine therapy and attends the use of several biologic response modifiers.”

Fever switches on the chemical messengers and processes which call on the body immune system to respond and “modify” or deal with the infection.

If fever is a key to an immune-system process, without a fever, how effective is the body going to be in fi ghting viruses, or bacteria? With viruses like chickenpox, which are known to have an affinity with

 

group A streptococcus,

which can infect the pox rash and so have access to the body, what do we want the immune system to do? It’s pretty obvious isn’t it?

We

 

want

to allow the body temperature to rise to the level it needs so that all the on-switches can be thrown.

We

 

want

the body to send out all those little chemical messengers which get the antiviral side of things going.

We

 

want the messengers to call the neutrophils to join the skin cells in producing cathelicidin, and to work with the whole array of anti-viral and antibacterial components12 in “sweat” to stop group A streptococcus

in its tracks.

As a 1991 article13 says: “… temperature elevation … enhances the processes involved in initial antigen recognition and support for immunological specifi c response to challenge.

We want the body to recognize the virus, ring the bell and sound the red alert (fever) to fight, don’t we? Why, then, turn the fever off with acetaminophen products? Doesn’t that defy logic?

Another article14 of that era said: “There is considerable in-vitro evidence that a variety of human immunological defences function better at febrile temperatures than at normal ones … Studies have clearly shown that fever helps laboratory animals to survive an infection whereas antipyresis15 increases mortality.”

A 1998 article16 said: “The elevation of body temperature by a few degrees may improve the efficiency of macrophages in killing invading bacteria, whereas it impairs the replication of many microorganisms, giving the immune system an adaptive advantage. There is a simultaneous switch from the burning of glucose, an excellent substrate for bacterial growth, to metabolism based on proteolysis and lipolysis. The host organism is anorectic (doesn’t want to eat) minimizing the availability of glucose, and somnolent, reducing the demand by muscles for energy substrate. During the febrile response, the liver produced proteins known as acute phase reactants … the net effect … is to give the host organism an adaptive advantage over the invader.” (Underlining mine.)

Treating fevers is dicing with more severe infection, and a greater likelihood of death, because fever is a key immune response to get the immune system working properly.

You mess with fever, and you mess with lots of things. It stands to reason. Do you need to know what the medical profession does not yet know about fever in its totality, to see that?

 

Back to chickenpox. Tucked away in a small co

 

rner of the New Zealand Herald in 2001 was a warning:17 “GPs warned over chickenpox drug.” Doctors were warned about treating chickenpox with ibuprofen to reduce fever because of a higher rate of necrotizing fasciitis18. There was no mention of paracetamol in the warning, yet, since both perform the same function, there is reason to argue that paracetamol might do the same as ibuprofen. In USA, the link between the use of non-steroidal anti-infl ammatories and chickenpox reached the ears of doctors,19,20

but not, it seems, the public.

There was a flurry of articles suggesting it was dangerous to use anti-febrile drugs with chickenpox; there was also an article by a group of doctors, who in defiance of all logic and known immunological impacts of drugs used to reduce fever, decided that there was no association. They

 

21

decreed that when parents used drugs to “treat high fever and severe illness”, drug use was merely the identifying factor of who was at high risk for secondary bacterial infection! That interesting little word “coincidental” again.

… I see the increase in these infections as evidence of a total lack of common sense about how to prevent complications. I see the association between nonsteroidal anti-febrile drugs and GAS as a predictable outcome of the loss of home nursing skills and handed-down generational wisdom. I see the increase in secondary bacterial infections as something which can stem from parental lack of understanding that messing around with fever, and using symptom-suppressing/immune-suppressing drugs can restrict the ability of the immune system to fi ght the virus. It also reduces the ability of the leucocyte system of neutrophils, macrophages and phagocytes to fight bacterial toxins from secondary bacterial infections.

As pointed out in Chapter 70, if you don’t have enough vitamin C in your system, then the neutrophils won’t be recognized by the macrophages, and you might be in big trouble, because if that happens, the result could be toxic shock/sepsis taking hold very quickly. Even if you have enough vitamin C, if the amount of GAS toxin is such that the glucose transporters (which are part of the vitamin C shuttle service which takes ascorbate from A to B) are blocked, that can result in a GAS infection which threatens to run out of control. The quickest way to restore the immune function in a case of sepsis is by giving vitamin C intravenously. The body can fight sepsis by itself, but it’s a bit more of a lottery as to whether it will succeed if it doesn’t have the tools to do the job.

BOOK: From One Prick to Another

 

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Chicken Pox/Shingles Treatment

Chicken Pox/Shingles Treatment

 

 

 

 

  •  Vitamins A and C are the vitamin treatment of choice. Chickenpox can require large doses, but Shingles requires much larger doses. Selenium and Zinc are also beneficial.
  • Avoid sugar and undiluted fruit juices.
  •  
  • Keep the skin clean and cool with frequent baths using 1 cup baking soda or 5 drops lavender essential oil in the bath water. Rubbing the juice from the fresh stems of aloe vera can also help the itching. Cider vinegar neat, used as compresses, changes the skin PH and when held against the pox spots can kill surface virus particularly where the blister is broken. No pox virus can survive a ph of 3.
  • An oil mix, for adults, is bergamot, chamomile, eucalyptus, geranium, lavender, lemon and tea tree oil… as above, or dilute them by adding 5 drops each to a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and apply them directly to rash if painful.
  • Epsom salts baths with oat straw/oatmeal-one cup per bath in a bag, hung under the hot water tap, and then float it, for children who are tense and itchy.
  • Echinacea and goldenseal combination helps prevent bacterial infections of the sores. So can Calendula (1 tsp tincture – 4 tsp water)
  • For severe, Lysine (an essential amino acid) inhibits replication of both chickenpox and shingles. Use 2,000 mg a day as a supplement (or smaller doses in children). Lysine works by blocking the virus’s ability to absorb arginine.
  • For pain in both children and adults, often the person is vitamin B deficient. For shingles in older adults, if nerve pain is severe B12 injections along with some of the others orally can relieve the pain, and shorten the course of illness.
  • If a bacterial infection looks like its setting in, a capsule of Transfer Factor may help. Breast milk, if available, may do the same.
  • Shingles is triggered by stress, and stress pulls out huge amounts of B-vitamins from the body. People with shingles need B supplementation.
  • For both chickenpox and shingles in adults, Hydrogen Peroxide gel, every 2 – 3 hours helps dry and heal blisters.
  • Alpha Lipoic acid is another some doctors prescribe for shingles in adults. It’s an antioxidant, and helps keep the scarring of both chickenpox and shingles to a minimum. It may affect blood sugar levels, so use with care with diabetics.
  • Pharmaceutical treatment for shingles is dependent upon symptom alleviation using drugs like prednisone and acyclovir.
  •  Mint tea made with lemon balm or other mints may be beneficial: hyssop, oregano, peppermint, rosemary, sage, self-heal, spearmint or thyme. These are antiviral, anti-herpetic compounds. If there are spots in the throat, you can add licorice root. You could mix it with pear juice which is rich in antiviral caffeic acid.

 

Chickenpox Vaccination Leads To More Shingles

New study UK: Chickepox Vaccine Leads to More Shingles

New modelling research presented at the Health Protection Agency’s annual conference in Warwick confirms that vaccination against chickenpox would significantly decrease the burden of this disease but would lead to more shingles among the elderly.

Researchers also found that vaccinating the elderly against shingles would only partially, but not completely, offset this increase.

Post-vaccination research from countries that routinely immunise their children against chickenpox, including the US, has found an increase in cases of shingles among non-vaccinated age groups.

The Health Protection Agency researchers modelled the impact of vaccinating children against chickenpox (with a two dose schedule) and the elderly (60+) against shingles.

Building on previous modelling data the team incorporated virological, epidemiological and recent data on age-specific contact patterns to see whether a vaccine for the young would impact on the number of shingles in the elderly.

The modelling suggested that a two dose schedule at the levels of coverage likely to be achieved in the UK would lead to an increase of at least 20% of shingles in the medium term (approximately 15-20 years). This increase could be partially, but not completely, offset by introduction of a vaccination against shingles among those aged 60+.

Albert Jan van Hoek, who performed the research for the Health Protection Agency, said; “Our models suggest that vaccination would reduce the burden of chickenpox in the young. However, it will lead to an increase in shingles in the medium term in adults because they will not get that ‘boosting’ effect from being in contact with cases of chickenpox.

“We also looked at whether vaccinating adults against shingles would be of benefit to counteract this. The research showed that a potential increase in shingles could be partly offset by vaccinating the elderly. The success of this, however, depends on uncertain vaccine efficacy parameters, particularly the duration of protection from the zoster virus.

“There are still uncertainties in the research and a lot more work needs to be done examining whether vaccination will be a benefit to all of the population. Also further work needs to be done on the cost effectiveness of any potential chickenpox vaccine before any policy conclusions can be reached.”

Chickenpox Parties

Tell me again what’s so wrong about chickenpox parties? 

Well if you read this…apparently plenty. But I still don’t agree.

Before a vaccine was recommended for all children, it was considered a  beneficial and benign disease. After the vaccine was recommended for all children, it was suddenly a serious and deathly disease. Funny how that works!

I had Chickenpox as a child. I was 6 years old and had it at the same time as my 3 siblings. I remember my Mom was thrilled we all had it at once to ‘get it over with.’

Two of my older children had chickenpox before a vaccine was ever recommended. They were exposed through a school-age child I was babysitting. I too was thrilled! They would have chickenpox before the start of school and be done with it. Several of my neighbors, along with other daycare children, came over to expose their children-we had a pox party!

Now I won’t say chickenpox is exactly fun. The kids had a pretty good case and were cranky, whiny, sickly, itchy and they looked like hell…everything you would expect them to be when they don’t ‘feel good’. But it wasn’t horrible either. My daughter would say it was but only because she’s a girl, and had them in private places, and well let’s face it, that’s not a place you want to have a constant itch:( The first 3-4 days were the hardest and then it got better from there.  For me, I got natural boosting, and more importantly them, a week of sickness sure outweighed a vaccine any day. We simply didn’t have to worry about it any more..it was done and over with, unlike the vaccine. Unfortunately, I still have two younger school-age kids who haven’t gotten it…yet. Now that school is back in session, and other children are out getting their vaccine that sheds( for 6 weeks) to others, I’m confident it’ll knock on our doorstep soon!

 

By the way-We did the usual treatments minus today’s repetitive Tylenol use which is given for everything that ails you. Speaking of which, the only children who had more severe problems getting over it that were exposed when my children were, were given Tylenol repeatedly and other drugs. Their Mother was a nurse to boot.