Headache & Brain Fog - Improved by Anti-Pathogen Meds & Herbs?

hapl808

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At this point, I have a pretty constant baseline level of brain fog and headache. Been this way for several years - and had issues with it for a couple decades even before I was severe.

The only time it ever really cleared up I think was the very first time I took antibiotics (for a cold) about 10 years after getting ME/CFS-type illness. My onset was some illness in SE Asia.

One thing I've noticed is that despite all my efforts with various antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers, CBD, etc - the only thing that really improves my brain fog and headaches are anti-pathogen herbs and meds. Allicin (only some formulations), andrographis, monolaurin, doxycycline, zithro, tinidazole, etc.

It's weird to me that things that are antibiotic and antiviral both seem to help, but they plateau quickly. When I discontinue, the symptoms come back eventually. If I increase the dose too much, it starts to cause gut problems. I've also noticed terrible acid reflux if I exert myself too much, followed by worse migraines.

Just curious if any of the smart folk here have ideas? I've considered trying rx antivirals (probably just purchased online), oxymatrine, higher doses of things I've already tried, etc.
 

ljimbo423

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Allicin (only some formulations), andrographis, monolaurin, doxycycline, zithro, tinidazole, etc.
All of these things affect the gut microbiome, even andrographis.

This quote is from Cort Johnsons' blog-

Are Gulf War Illness Studies Pointing to Gut Healers for ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia?

Andrographolide

Andrographolide (AG) is not just any herb. In fact, it’s not an herb at all. It’s a chemical compound that comes from an herb called Andrographis paniculata found in India, China, and Australia. Andrographolide is used extensively in Chinese and Indian medicine.

While its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antivirus, antitumor, and cardiovascular protecting properties have excited many, its low bioavailability has been a problem. That problem has prompted much work to create more potent derivatives.


AG has been well studied, leaving the medical literature studded with reviews. Over the past couple of decades, hundreds of derivatives have been developed and bioavailability has been improved.

A 2020 review of the many efforts made to improve the usefulness of this unique compound demonstrated how active the andrographolide field is. There’s clearly still work to be done, though. While lauding the “ancient mighty herb” – and its perhaps mighty compound – a 2018 Chinese review asserted that better forms are needed.


Whatever better andrographolide forms come along, it’s still apparently pretty potent. A 2017 review of andrographolide’s antiviral and immune properties reported that it does something that might be quite helpful in ME/CFS – boosts cytotoxic T cell and natural killer (NK) cell functioning. Two more recent reviews lauded it for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties, and neuroprotective properties.


To wit – andrographolide has generated a lot of interest. This is the first time, though, this “wonder compound” has shown up in Gulf War Illness, ME/CFS, or fibromyalgia. (Quite a few studies have been focused on its potential effects on the coronavirus, though).


Chatterjee’s latest study “Andrographolide Attenuates Gut-Brain-Axis Associated Pathology in Gulf War Illness by Modulating Bacteriome-Virome Associated Inflammation and Microglia-Neuron Proinflammatory Crosstalk“, was a mouthful – and for good reason – it was quite a complex effort.


The authors (which again included Nancy Klimas) found that AG restored the mouse microflora, and improved it by increasing the abundance of two bacteria species (Lachnospiraceae, Akkermansia), which are both “immensely helpful in maintaining robust gut and immune health”.


Significant decreases occurred in two virome families (Siphoviridae, Myoviridae) known to negatively impact gut health. As that happened, the leaky gut tightened up, and inflammatory cytokine levels in the blood decreased.

In a result they called “very significant”, microglial activation – potentially the source of so much misery – decreased as well. Some evidence suggested that that other crucial barrier – the blood-brain barrier – tightened up as well.
 
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hapl808

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Yeah, I've become more and more convinced that for me the biome is certainly heavily involved. But when I've tried just fasting, probiotics, prebiotics, etc - that's been less helpful. So I think I need some anti-pathogen things at least as additional treatments, just hard to know how. Should I just keep ramping up dosages of things like andrographis, or take it with specific dosing regimens, etc. Frustrating that I get some positive results, but can't figure out how to continue or improve them.
 

geraldt52

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I have at times over the years benefited from rx antibiotics, antivirals, and antifungals, and have taken very long courses of each of them...several times each. The benefits were clear for each of them, but never sustainable. Always, there would be improvement, then a plateau, and then nothing further.

My read on my own experience is that from time to time our faulty immune systems need a helping hand to clear, or more likely just reduce the load of, a bacteria, a virus, or a fungus...which, while beneficial, doesn't fix the root cause of the problem and goes only so far as a "fix".

I still occasionally resort to an rx antibiotic, antiviral, or antifungal, but I only take them for a short time as needed, and have no illusion that taking them longer is going to magically move me to wellness. The side effects of these drugs are too oppressive to just keep taking them for little benefit. And, I've mostly found the supplements intended for a similar purpose to be entirely useless.
 

ljimbo423

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But when I've tried just fasting, probiotics, prebiotics, etc - that's been less helpful.
I haven't tried fasting, but probiotics and prebiotics do very little for me too.

So I think I need some anti-pathogen things at least as additional treatments, just hard to know how.
I think you're probably right. I find them helpful, but too high a dose and I feel worse.

Should I just keep ramping up dosages of things like andrographis, or take it with specific dosing regimens, etc.
I think you'll need to find what works best for you. I've been taking fairly high doses of antibiotic herbs for over 4 years, and still not been able to heal my gut. I'm convinced this is where my ME/CFS started and continues to be fueled from, but a low carb diet and herbs aren't enough to rebalance it.

I think years of very high anxiety are what is keeping my gut messed up now, so I'm working on lowering my stress too.

Frustrating that I get some positive results, but can't figure out how to continue or improve them.
I feel very frustrated too. I think antibiotics could be a big game changer for me, if taken right, with a low carb diet but I can't tolerate them. The bacterial die-off from them is unbearable.

The best thing I think you can do is experiment. I do think a low carb diet is really important but the rest is very individual.
 

hapl808

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Always, there would be improvement, then a plateau, and then nothing further.
Same for me on antibiotics. I've only taken herbal antifungals and antivirals, but same there. Especially with abx, there was such a clear (and significant) improvement, then that frustrating plateau.

I think you'll need to find what works best for you. I've been taking fairly high doses of antibiotic herbs for over 4 years, and still not been able to heal my gut. I'm convinced this is where my ME/CFS started and continues to be fueled from, but a low carb diet and herbs aren't enough to rebalance it.

I think years of very high anxiety are what is keeping my gut messed up now, so I'm working on lowering my stress too.
Yeah, I do low carb (or into keto) most of the time and it's slightly helpful. My daily stress level is pretty good, because I'm completely housebound but mostly not bedbound. I have a couple years of savings so the stress is on the horizon, but I'll deal with that when it comes.

I did some high dose doxy and zithro about ten years ago and it gave me about four more years of mild-moderate where I could work and function. I tried it again after my more severe crash, but didn't help. That was around five years ago, so could still revisit.

I haven't done any rx antivirals and that does interest me, but the side effects also scare me.
 

Crux

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Here's a good paper regarding the gut brain axis and migraine.
With dysbiosis, inflammatory cytokines are produced.
https://thejournalofheadacheandpain.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s10194-020-1078-9

I've had migraines for some years. There were times when they went on for months.

There was gut involvement, sibo. Rifaximin helped. (tried numerous abx.)

Keto helped. I even tried carnivore for a year, which helped the gut, but caused liver trouble.

Microbes thrive on many nutrients, especially iron. Some people become anemic.

I regulate iron with copper glycinate , low dose cod liver oil, and low dose b vitamins.
The copper and active vitamin A are antimicrobial.

Antibiotics lower many nutrients. Some have been shown to cause an arrhythmia, prolonged qt interval, usually caused by calcium deficiency.

That's why abx used to make me suffer from angst., insomnia, pain, and so on.

The gut is ok now as long as I don't eat starchy things.
 

hapl808

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I've tried Xifaxan - helped a bit, but for me doxy and zithro seemed to do more. Although haven't tried Xifaxan again recently.

I did keto, carnivore, etc. My digestion is much better than it used to be, except my reflux and headaches and brain fog (and PEM threshold) are likely worse. I may try allicin again - it's hard on my stomach, but has less side effects than abx and seems to work. Or maybe just eat a bunch of raw garlic.
 

Crux

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Garlic and other allicin products are antimicrobial in part because they increase nitric oxide production.

Nitric oxide, (NO), is a good antimicrobial that the body produces to fight pathogens.

NO, in excess, is a vasodilator implicated in migraine.
 

Judee

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I'm in the same boat. Antibiotics are the things beside oxymatrine and licorice that help me the most.

I feel slightly better on some of Buhner's core protocol too but some other herbals give me really dangerous side effects.

I'm haven't been able to try the antivirals other than herbal things so I don't know if they would help.
 

hapl808

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I feel slightly better on some of Buhner's core protocol too but some other herbals give me really dangerous side effects.
Same here. Higher dose knotweed, cat's claw, skullcap - all help, but again plateau comes fast.

Oxymatrine helped you? And how and what dose of licorice are you using? I added some (Italian Amarelli) but only started taking a tiny amount.
 

Judee

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I take a licorice cap that has 450mg per day but the actual licorice candy like the Amarelli seems to give me a bigger boost than the capsules.

Though when I say boost I mean it moves me up about 1% on the scale. I don't use a 1-10 scale but a 1-100 scale because I haven't been above 5% energy for years.

However, when energy is slow low, anything that gives a "boost" is welcome. :)
 

heapsreal

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I think the bacterial infections come from our dysfunctional immune system. Abx meds and herbs together alternated may work better and for some pulsing abx so many weeks on and so many weeks off can help??
 

ljimbo423

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Abx meds and herbs together alternated may work better and for some pulsing abx so many weeks on and so many weeks off can help??
I also think this might be the best approach. Using antibiotics continuously seems to be counter productive, or they loose their effectiveness in the long haul, for most of us.

Herbs are less potent, but could fill the gap while pulsing antibiotics, preventing bacteria from overgrowing again.
 
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I wonder if it is at all related to IL-6 or some other inflammatory mediator (or a collection of various such causes).

@Hip has a great post from 2015 discussing various herbs and drugs that lower IL-6. For example, he cites a source that found by day 7 of amoxicillin therapy, IL-6 was significantly decreased. As a further example, I think azithromycin and doxycycline have both been shown to have inherent anti-inflammatory properties. It might be a little premature to conclude we are having persistent bacterial issues versus the drugs having some type of immunomodulatory/anti-inflammatory effect.

Interestingly, I have found oxymatrine worsens my brain fog in a dose-dependant manner, but that is perhaps because it is pro-inflammatory and I have a lot of issues with inflammation.
 

Judee

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Ken Lassessen also talks about that:
https://cfsremission.com/2013/01/26...ember-your-super-heroes-for-cognitive-issues/

Also there is a gene that possibly predisposes us to make more IL-6. It is rs1800795 GG.
Yeah, I saw that GG is actually the major allele (86 % or so of the population?). I am CC, so apparently lower IL-6.. Despite having it be very high haha.

I'm also AA for the rs1800797 SNP, which is also the recessive allele and is also meant to cause lower IL-6.. Although I am the major genotype (AA) for rs2069837, which apparently again causes an increased IL-6. These two are a lower significance according to SelfDecode though (where I check this on).

I wonder how much it all factors in at the end of the day.
 

hmnr asg

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Can someone help me with antibiotics use for CFS? I have never tried them before but have gotten a hold of 30 days of doxycline and 30 days of azithromycin. What would be the best strategy to try them? try one for a week and then stop taking them? any suggestions ?