“One Small Step for Man and One Giant Leap for Microbes” a quote from Dr. Dan Handley

March 29th, 2018 by Nick Jacobs Leave a reply »
F. Nicholas (Nick) Jacobs. FACHE

F. Nicholas (Nick) Jacobs. FACHE

Implementing programs in Integrative Medicine and Wellness plus Precision Medicine and Pharmacogenomics

By: Nick Jacobs

This story could easily have had several other titles including: “Our skin has as many ecosystems as the landscapes of the Americas,” but the reason I selected the moon landing one is, according to Dr. Dan Handley, our presence there didn’t just leave a footprint. There are trillions of Earthlings that took that first step on the moon. The Apollo 11 astronauts were just two out of two trillion Earth inhabitants that took that “first step for mankind.”

We always knew that our bodies had microbes, but we didn’t know that the microbes numbered in the trillions, or that we are totally dependent on them and they on us. According to Alanna Colleen, author of the book “10% Human,” “We are superorganisms of collective species living side by side and co-operatively running the body that sustains us.”

It was difficult to figure out which microbes had what functions, but a few years ago, the equipment that was invented to map genomes became available to map our microbes as well. Previously, scientists could only study what microbes they could grow in the laboratory. Most microbes won’t grow under laboratory conditions, but with gene sequencing equipment, we can directly sequence the genomes of these microbes. We can discern what microscopic life lives on us and within us. And microbes outnumber our own cells at least 5 to 1, and their genes outnumber ours about 100 to 1.

Over the years we discovered the bugs that cause smallpox, cholera, and polio. We also discovered antibiotics like penicillin, and we reduced hospital infections and deaths through medical hygiene. Now that we can analyze these microbes, the scientific world is in a gold rush to understand the role these microbes play in both disease and health. Most of the microbes that inhabit us are either completely benign, or essential to our health. These microbes do many positive things including producing essential vitamins and bolstering our immune systems.

We have already discovered there are very specific links between the types of microbes that inhabit our bodies and autism, obesity, asthma, autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, and eczema, as well as nut and wheat allergies and a myriad other 21st century ailments.

We also know that, because our intestinal tract is only one cell thick, it can leak, become distended and bloated. It also appears that our bodies, due to a lack of infectious diseases, may have begun to turn on themselves.

Microbes can also impact our psychological health and moods. For example, Whipple’s disease, caused by the bacterium Tropheryma Whipple, causes aggression, lack of communication and loss of certain inhibitions. We also know that gastrointestinal symptoms are surprisingly common in people with mental and neurological conditions.

Cats can carry a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, and humans can be infected from their litter boxes or from a scratch. When a man is infected, he becomes less pleasant and more aggressive, disregards societal rules, becomes suspicious, jealous and insecure. Women, on the other hand, become more easy-going, warm-hearted, and trusting. Being infected by this microbe makes you three or four times more likely to have an automobile accident.

Many of us have had loved ones who developed something called Clostridium difficile or C.diff. When a patient receives too many very strong antibiotics, the good bacteria in our intestines are killed, allowing these marauders to take over. C. diff infections are serious and can be life-threatening. Current research has shown that a patient’s ecosystem can, however, be restored, with a transplant of microbes from a healthy donor. The unfortunate name for this is a fecal microbial transplant, where a donor’s stool is liquefied and placed into the recipient’s intestines. It’s a virtual microbial miracle, and the trillions of microbes that help sustain our lives can get back to work doing just that.

Microbes don’t live in us, we live in them


1 comment

  1. Beth says:

    I live in Tucson and am wondering where I can get a fecal microbial transplant and if I can get my Dual Complete insurance to cover it if I don’t have c diff but do have long term IBS. I am also experiencing continuous weight gain despite an organic parve, gluten, soy and cane free diet. In addition, I experience serious brain fog, brain dysfunction, executive motor dysfunction, aspergers and adhd. I am hopeful that fmt can help but was turned down 10 years ago when I did not have c diff. Is the landscape changed and who does it?

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