A New Parent Considers Vaccination

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Dr. Andrew Wakefield was once again in the news earlier this month, reminding everyone that he was supposedly discredited. The attacks on Wakefield are nothing really new, of course. But for a scapegoat to work, it has to remain in the forefront of the public’s consciousness, and so we continue to get this not-so-subtle reminder that the Lancet report, which suggested more study into a possible link between MMR and autism, has been shrugged aside by people with more letters after their last name than us commoners.

It also presents another excuse for pro-vaccine advocates to shake their heads in condescension at those of us who question the establishment’s talking points about vaccines, as if the matter is now settled. You would think they want to softly pat dissenters on the head and try to send them to their rooms for nap-time. Stop fighting. There’s nothing to see here. Remember the CDC and your ABC’s.

But those of us who have done any research on the topic know that the Lancet report represents just the surface of the issue of the link between vaccines and autism.

I’m not a doctor. I’m not a scientist. I’m just a new parent (with a 4-month-old daughter) who wants to know the truth, or at least not be ridiculed for asking simple questions. And I know there are many more out there just like me, and many were made aware of the potential dangers in different ways.

For me, it was my mother, who is a special-ed teacher in the public school system, and has been helping teach autistic children for over 10 years. She’s in the trenches with affected children and parents. She sees patterns. And she has mentioned to me several times that she has lost count of the number of parents who have told her that their child stopped making eye contact and severely regressed in language skills after their 12 to 18 month round of vaccinations.

In her own research and education, she has seen compared brain scans of autistic children to children with healthy brain function. It’s easy to see the difference. And yet, as she is quick to point out, there has still not been a long-term placebo-controlled study done, when it would be very simple to monitor the effects with brain imaging after certain rounds of vaccinations long term. This is a serious red flag. Why have no studies like this been attempted? The medical community has had plenty of time to begin integrating this research, yet this has not happened.

The Background

The previous articles on LewRockwell.com are enlightening, and I encourage you to read them, particularly the ones authored by Dr. Donald Miller. In at least two of these articles, Dr. Miller mentions the work of Dr. Russell Blaylock, a neurosurgeon studying and researching the concept of “excitotoxicity” in the brain. Not much detail was given, because it was beyond the immediate scope. The other points Dr. Miller makes were enough to satisfy me. However, they won’t be enough to satisfy everyone.

And in light of the latest Wakefield coverage, some family members questioned our decision to go against the CDC’s normal schedule. My explanations were not enough for them, so I began going even deeper into the rabbit hole in order to gain more ammunition. I began looking even closer at Dr. Blaylock’s work. The result was fascination at the complexity of the brain, and a larger arsenal of facts and research to justify our decisions. As it turns out, excitotoxicity is related to all neurological disorders.

The papers Dr. Miller referred to are one talking about excitotoxicity and its relation to vaccines (This is the entire issue of the journal, but Dr. Blayock’s article is the first one, with 141 references). And then another talking about Gulf War Syndrome also has some keen insights.

Also watch the 14-part lecture series Dr. Blaylock gave. It’s just a bit over an hour long and well worth the watch.

In the following summary, I link to some of Dr. Blaylock’s individual references. Unfortunately, many of these links are behind a pay-wall and you can only read the first 100 words or so. But this will give you a good list to begin doing your own due diligence if you so choose, or the beginnings of something informative to hand to an ornery pediatrician.

I would highly recommend you read both the above papers and watch the lecture, however, and I hope this summary convinces you to delve a bit deeper.

Excitotoxicity the Common Cause for Nearly all Neurological Disorders

Recent evidence suggests that all neurological disorders have common causes, despite different presentations and symptoms (1). At the center is something called excitotoxicity, named in 1969. This is the triggering of certain brain mechanisms through over-stimulation of susceptible neurons by certain amino acids, the primary culprits being glutamate and aspartate (2). If these sound familiar to you, and bring to mind monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame, you’re one step ahead of the game.

Glutamate is the most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit signals from brain neurons to other cells and neurons (3), and glutamate makes up 50% of all neurotransmission, and controls other neurotransmitters like serotonin, epinephrine, and dopamine. Yet Glutamate, like many things our body needs to work, is also toxic, and in this case is the most toxic of neurotransmitters, and is therefore heavily regulated in the body by other mechanisms. When glutamate is released, certain proteins attach to and transport the glutamate. The normal destination is to an astrocyte, where the glutamate is deposited (4).

Glutamate receptors control calcium channels, and around these channels are areas of zinc and magnesium that help prevent over-activation of the channel. It’s this possible over-activation that causes excitotoxicity and results in neurodegeneration.

Excess levels of glutamate can lead to very bad things. One result is that the calcium channel remains open for too long, resulting in too much calcium, which can eventually lead to the formation of certain radicals that are very damaging to mitochondria, the energy source of brain neurons (5). It can also lead to the formation of pro-inflammatory molecules (6). One of the eventual byproducts is called 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE), which can produce extensive cell damage (7).

The impaired energy supplies caused by this process raises sensitivity to glutamate, increasing its negative effects. Synapses connecting brain neurons can be destroyed, and in some cases even lead to direct neuron degeneration.

About 30% of autistic children have visible seizures (8). One study showed that 82% have persistent seizures that don’t fall under what the public typically defines as a seizure, and can only be detected by monitoring brain activity (9). Why bring up seizures? Because they are intimately connected to excitotoxicity (10). Glutamate can precipitate seizures when injected into the brain, and then the seizures themselves can lead to even more release of glutamate.

Infants More Vulnerable to Excitotoxicity

During the critical time of brain formation, typically during the last trimester and the first two years of life, excess glutamate can alter development (11). Glutamate levels are carefully regulated, and they rise and fall during certain periods as the brain is being, in some sense, sculpted. There’s a real Goldilocks dilemma, where the amount needs to be just right at certain stages. Levels either too low or too high can be damaging. And as should be obvious, altering these levels, depending on the timing and dose, can have profound effects on the brain. A developing brain has more glutamate receptors than an adult, and so an infant is more susceptible to excitotoxicity (12).

The Immune System and Excitotoxicity

So what does all of this have to do with vaccines?

Due to the blood-brain barrier, the brain has it’s own immune system, and cells called microglia are part of this system. They are also present in the spinal cord. Microglia are constantly scavenging the Central Nervous System (CNS) for damaged neurons, plaques, and infectious agents. Wikipedia has a good summary if you want to know more, with references.

But even though the CNS’s immune system is separate and unique from the regular body’s immune system, it has been shown to be interlinked and connected. Microglia can be activated during immune stimulation, and can occur during immune challenge as when can happen during vaccination (13, 14). Activation then leads to the release of cytokines, inflammatory substances, and free radicals, and it has also been shown that glutamate and quinolinic acid, both excitotoxins, can be released directly from the microglia. And as mentioned earlier, excess levels of glutamate interferes with the growth and distribution of brain pathways (and glutamate deficiency interferes with learning and memory; again, it needs to be just right), and infants are even more susceptible to damage to neuron connectivity.

Not only that, but products from microglial activation can also deactivate the glutamate transport family of proteins, leading to disruption of glutamate disposal. This interference has been possibly linked to Alzheimers (15, 16). And as Dr. Blaylock says, “All of these inhibitory factors can be seen in cases of over-vaccination and autoimmunity.”

When multiple vaccines are given together, particularly live viral vaccines, the stress on the immune system is high, and the associated microglial activation is increased. On top of that, to ensure the immune system reacts, vaccines also contain adjuvants like aluminum to further excite the immune response.

The direct mechanism and sequence that results in autism is still unknown. However, we do know that immune stimulation of the brain, especially if prolonged and severe, can cause the release of excitotoxins from microglia (17), even without direct viral infection in the brain. And we know that this excitotoxicity is a major cause of neurodegeneration. For instance, it used to be a mystery why some AIDS patients suffered dementia when the virus doesn’t infect the brain. Now we know that due to the constant stress the immune system is under, the brain’s immune system is also in overdrive, leading to constant excitotoxicity.

The bottom line: there is a clear path of cause and effect going on here that is heavily documented. The immune system is stimulated, microglia are activated in the brain, and excitotoxicity occurs. This happens when you normally get sick as well. If you have ever had a bad case of the flu, you know how hard it can be to think, to be around other people. Your behavior is modified. Excitotoxicity is one of the reasons. The good news is that once everything has calmed down, the brain begins to repair the bystander injury that its immune system caused. But things have to calm down. And that’s not the case when a child is given up to 6 shots every 2 months or so, each shot full of adjuvants.

I could get more technical and go into even more detail from the research, talking about the role of damaged mitochondria which increase sensitivity to excitotoxicity to even more biological processes kick-started with excess glutamate. It’s interesting, fascinating, and humbling at the same time. If you want to know more, read Dr. Blaylock’s paper. I hope this primer has given you more interest to do so, and given you additional confidence when you decide what do about vaccinations regarding your own children.

When someone says that vaccines don’t directly cause autism, they are, in some sense, correct. But only correct in the same way that someone says that eating food doesn’t directly cause the body to have energy. Technically, it’s the digestive process. Yet for some strange reason, we don’t have people being denounced as fear-mongering quacks for making the connection that food causes the body to have energy.

Hopefully, this information will become more ingrained in the public conscious and more widespread. The current consensus is doing no one any favors by sweeping the autism issue under the rug. It might even be that the risk of some diseases is worth vaccination when weighed against the chance for autism, but until controlled experiments and studies are actually done, we will never know.

There might even be a genetic disposition that determines increased susceptibility to excitotoxicity that leads to autism after over-vaccination, and that some children have no risk of autism at all if vaccinated and given adequate nutrition. But again, we will never know unless the connection is finally admitted and these angles are studied thoroughly. Wouldn’t it be nice for a rational, scientific process to be brought to bear on these issues? That is the ultimate goal.

Bringing Excitotoxicity in Check

Just because excitotoxicity is common doesn’t mean you should fear permanent brain damage from the common cold. First of all, your brain isn’t going through the growth spurt of an infant. Secondly, you’re immune system probably isn’t getting overly stimulated unless you are getting regular cocktails of vaccines. Thirdly, if you have adequate nutrition, you can be guarded by most of its negative effects. According to Dr. Blaylock, there are key areas of the diet to focus on:

  • Magnesium and Zinc. These act as inhibitors of excitotoxic sensitivity.
  • Avoid excessive Omega 6 fatty acids. (Peanut Oil, Safflower Oil, etc). They stimulate inflammation.
  • Plenty of Omega 3 fatty acids. This is essentially what the brain is made of, and needs them to do repairs. Particularly DHA. Also anti-inflammatory. Take 1000mg to 2000mg per day.
  • Avoid foods containing additive MSG.
  • Eat meat, but try and limit your intake to 4 to 6 ounces per day.
  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Avoid sugar in excess.
  • Maintain cellular energy production with B Vitamins, Vitamin K, CoQ10, Acetyl-L-carnitine, and Acetyl-L-carnosine. Dr. Blaylock is very interested in carnosine in particular and wants more studies done.
  • Plenty of buffered Vitamin C.
  • Natural form of Vitamin E.
  • Silymarin and Resveratrol are very powerful inhibitors of microglial activation.
  • Vitamin D is a neuro/immune modulator so adequate levels are recommended. Children should get at least 1,000 IU per day, and adults 4000–5000 IU.

And What About Vaccines?

One of the many problems with the CDC’s schedule is that it assumes a one-size-fits all solution. But that is rarely ever a good idea with medication. For instance, a child who is never put in daycare with 20 other kids is going to have far less of a risk of contracting certain diseases than one who is.

Try to avoid the HepB vaccine given at birth, unless you know you are in one of the high-risk groups. Also avoid the Chickenpox vaccine. Do your research on the other diseases for risk factors and seriousness to decide which ones you would like to vaccinate against.

But regardless of what vaccines you decide on, it’s crucial that you space them out accordingly. As mentioned by Dr. Blaylock, it takes 1 to 2 months for the immune system to calm back down from an infection or vaccination, and so he recommends waiting a conservative 6 months between vaccines to be safe. And if the child gets sick, you will want to wait several months after they recover before getting a vaccination. When pregnant, avoid vaccinations, which can prime a baby’s microglia in utero.

No matter what you decide, always remember that a vaccination is no guarantee. I know a woman whose son had all four rounds of the pertussis vaccine, and the child still contracted the illness.

1. Lipton SA, Rosenberg PA. Excitatory amino acids as a final common pathway for neurological disorders. N Eng J Med. 1994;330:613-622.

2. Olney JW. Brain lesions, obesity, and other disturbances in mice treated with monosodium glutamate. Sci. 969;165:719-721.

3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neurotransmitter

4. Seal RP, Amara SG. Excitatory amino acid transporters: a family in flux. Ann Rev Pharmacol Toxicol. 1999;39:431-456.

5. Bolanos JP, Aleida A, Stewart V, et al. Nitric oxide-mediated mitochondrial damage in the brain: mechanisms and implications for neurodegenerative diseases. J Neurochem. 1997;68:2227-2240.

6. O’Banion MK. Cyclooxygenase-2: molecular biology, pharmacology, and neurobiology. Critical Rev Neurobiol. 1999;13:45-82.

7. Mattson MP, Fu W, Waeg G, Uchida K. 4-hydroxynonenal, a product of lipid peroxidation, inhibits dephosphorylation of the microtubule-associated protein tau. Neuroreport. 1997;8:2275-2281.

8. Rapin I. Autistic regression and disintegrative disorder: how important the role of epilepsy. Semin Pediatr Neurol.1995; 2:278-285.

9. Lewine JD, Andrews R, Chez M, et al. Magnetoencephalographic patterns of epileptiform activity in children with regressive autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. 1999;104:405-418.

10. Rogawski MA. Excitatory amino acids and seizures. In, Stone TW, ed. CNS Neurotransmitters and Neuromodulators: Glutamate. Boca Raton, CRC Press; 1995:219-237.

11. Swann JW, Hablitz JJ. Cellular abnormalities and synaptic plasticity in seizure disorders of the immature nervous system. Ment Retard Dev Disabil Res. 2000;6:258-267.

12. Johnston MV. Neurotransmitters and vulnerability of the developing brain. Brain Dev. 1995;17:301-306.

13. Lin HC, Wan FJ, Wu CC, Tseng CJ. Systemic administration of lipopolysaccharide induces release of nitric oxide and glutamate and c-fos expression in the nucleus tractus solitarii of rats. Hypertension. 1999;33:1218-1224.

14. Saito K, Crowley JS, Markey SP, Heyes MP. A mechanism for increased quinolinic acid formation following acute systemic stimulation. J Biol Chem. 1993;268:15496-15503.

15. Saito K, Markey SP, Heyes MP. Effects of immune activation on quinolinic acid and neuroactive kyurenines in the mouse. Neuroscience. 1992;51:25-39.

16. Li S, Mallory M, Alford M, et al. Glutamate transporter alterations in Alzheimer’s disease are possibly associated with abnormal APP expression. J Neuropath Exp Neurol. 1997;56:901-911.

17. Rothstein JD, Martin LJ, Kuncl RW. Decreased glutamate transport by the brain and spinal cord in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. New Eng J Med. 1992;326:1464-1468.

Matt Robison [send him mail] a web architect and entrepreneur who dabbles in many
interests and hobbies, including Christan Theology, history, and
nutrition, and even plays the occasional video game. He owns and
operates LCD TV and Pitbull online communities, and
offers web consulting services.

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