Microglia induced cognitive changes article; and some helpful supplements

PatJ

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Wired has an interesting excerpt from a book by Donna Jackson Nakazawa, called "THE ANGEL AND THE ASSASSIN: The Tiny Brain Cell That Changed the Course of Medicine".

The article is about how microglial activity influences the connection between mind and body. It describes how microglia activation can lead to many physical and cognitive effects. Although ME/CFS isn't mentioned in the article, I noticed many of the mental effects are those that are often experienced in ME/CFS.

The article starts out describing the author's time suffering from Guillain-Barre syndrome, including some cognitive effects familiar to many with ME/CFS. It then goes on the describe the connection with microglia.

From the article:
I’d also experienced some distinct and disquieting cognitive changes. For one thing, although I’d always been pretty even-keeled, I found myself facing a black-dog depression. The feeling was at times so oppressive that when I read Harry Potter aloud to my young children, I felt as if I’d been attacked by the “dementors,” those dark, sky-drifting ghouls who introduce a cloud of despair that steals a person’s happy thoughts and replaces them with bad ones.

Then, there were the memory problems. My six-year-old daughter would ask for help with first-grade math and I’d find my brain stuttering just to add seven and eight. Or I’d reach down to tie her shoes and find myself staring dumbly at the laces, struggling to remember how, exactly, it was done. My mood, memory, clarity of mind, word recall were different—my brain did not feel like my own. I could not shake the feeling that, just as my body had been altered, something physical had also shifted in my brain.

I was not, of course, the only patient with inflammation in my body who also complained of a change in mental well-being. Such patient stories had even led some epidemiologists to begin to associate inflammatory diseases to brain-related symptoms.
...

Stevens’s and Schafer’s study, which was reported in the journal Neuron in 2012, helped address a decades-old mystery. In many different neurological, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases, healthy synapses disappeared. Suddenly it made sense that inflammation in the body was correlated with cognitive decline, depression, mood disorders, and a loss of synaptic connectivity in the brain. Just like white blood cells in the body, microglia were trying to protect the brain from immune hits, and constantly responding to cues from the environment. When they detected that something was off—an over influx of stress hormones, an infiltrating virus, chemical, or pathogen on the scene—they sometimes went too far, removing healthy, needed, brain synapses, the same way macrophages sometimes went too far in the body.
...

When microglia go on a full-throttle attack, they take out crucial synapses in the brain that we need to process thoughts, manage complex emotions, and make decisions. We may feel it keenly. Important parts of the brain that should be talking to each other can’t communicate well. Synapses misfire. Perhaps when something seemingly small happens we overreact. We feel despair. We can’t concentrate or remember things. We act out. We may feel elated one moment and devastated the next. Or we feel anxious all the time. It’s a little different for everyone. And so we give it a hundred different names: OCD, ADHD, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, memory loss.

Researchers have shown that patients experiencing major depressive episodes have significantly higher levels of activated microglia, as do patients with OCD and Parkinson’s. Many of the most difficult to treat brain-related diseases of our century, which plague humankind from womb to grave, and many of which appear to be on the rise, share a common denominator: Immune-triggered microglia appear to be wreaking havoc with the brain in response to the same triggers that spark inflammation in the body.
@Hip has written about microglia and ME/CFS and some potential ways of reducing over-active microglia.

Two microglia influencing supplements
In reading Hip's post I noticed a connection between a supplement that I've been taking and two of the flavanoids listed as helping to reduce microglial activation:
  • Wogonin (flavonoid from skullcap herb) 1
  • Baicalein (flavonoid from skullcap herb) blocks LPS-induced activation of microglia. 1

Skullcap is one of the ingredients in Dr. Christopher's Relax-eze, which also includes: Black cohosh, Capsicum, Hops flowers, Lobelia, Skullcap, Valerian, Wood betony, and Mistletoe. Dr. Christopher called Relax-eze "a specific herbal food to rebuild the nerves."

I've noticed several benefits since I've been using it for many months: I sleep better, I'm more calm during the day, and I've been able to stop using LDN (which is known for microglial inhibition). The daily calming effects built up slowly and then reached a plateau. I still use it most nights for better sleep. I now consider it one of my indispensible supplements.

A second 'supplement' that increases my ability to relax and feel an almost normal level of calm for a short period is chamomile tea. According to this study there are two polyphenols called apigenin and luteolin that influence microglia. The Wikipedia entry for chamomile says both of those polyphenols are found in chamomile.
 

ljimbo423

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Two microglia influencing supplements
In reading Hip's post I noticed a connection between a supplement that I've been taking and two of the flavanoids listed as helping to reduce microglial activation:
  • Wogonin (flavonoid from skullcap herb) 1
  • Baicalein (flavonoid from skullcap herb) blocks LPS-induced activation of microglia. 1
Great post patJ! I agree with so much of it.

I would just like to point out that there are 2 common kinds of Skullcap-

American skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora) is a perennial herb native to North America. In bloom, the plant is covered in tiny, tubular blue flowers, although color can vary (2).

The leaves of American skullcap have been used in traditional herbal medicine as a sedative and to treat conditions like anxiety and convulsions. The plant was prized by Native Americans for its powerful medicinal properties (3Trusted Source).

Chinese skullcap (Scutellaria baicalensis) is native to several Asian countries, as well as Russia.

The dried roots of this plant have been used for centuries as a traditional Chinese medicine known as Huang Qin to treat diarrhea, insomnia, dysentery, high blood pressure, hemorrhaging, respiratory infections, and inflammation (1Trusted Source).
Source

Chinese Skullcap is the one with Wogonin and Baicalein in it. Chinese Skullcap is also a root, where American Skullcap is an herb, from the tops of the plant.
 

Wishful

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Apigenin seemed to give me a slight reduction in mental lethargy, but it stopped working after a couple of months. Luteolin had no effect. LDN blocked neuropathic pain, but didn't have any other noticeable effects.

I do believe that microglia are involved in my ME, but treatments supposed to 'reduce microglial activation' didn't seem to do much if anything for me.
 

PatJ

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Chinese Skullcap is the one with Wogonin and Baicalein in it. Chinese Skullcap is also a root, where American Skullcap is an herb, from the tops of the plant.
Thanks for pointing out the important difference. Assuming that Relax-eze is still using the original formula that Dr. Christopher developed then it's almost certainly using American Skullcap.
 

percyval577

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I tried various molecules reducing microglia activity. Sadly it was almost helpless.

Milk thistle worked two times very good, doxycycline (only 50mg) was three times very very good, and then I had some very small success with some other ones. I don´t want to test any further ibuprofen.
Only one thing continued to work: hops in alcohol-free beer, hops from a plant didn´t work, probably as it contains just some manganese which I am sensitive to.

Now even the very small amount of alcohol in alcohol-free beer brings bad effects about, but I don´t need it anymore anyway. [For three autumns normal beer has been very good though (never thought that I would drink on regular basis again).]

edit: I forgot acetate, which I discovered by accident and only later found that it reduces microglia activity. This still works, although I think there might be other actions, too, I even had forgotten about this influence.
 

ahmo

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I've just been trying PEA for brain inflammation. Been using it about a week, don't notice anything. Not a cheap supp, maybe it takes time, or maybe it might help someone else.
 

PatJ

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I've just been trying PEA for brain inflammation. Been using it about a week, don't notice anything. Not a cheap supp, maybe it takes time
I tried PEA for a few weeks. I didn't notice any effects, good or bad.