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The bacteria (next to a dime), are about human eyelash size. Credit: Tomas Tyml/The Regents of the University of California, LBNL

Some bacteria are visible to the naked eye and as long as human eyelashes! The recently discovered centimeter long bacteria, now called Thiomargarita magnifica, live on sunken leaves in Caribbean mangrove swamps.

I don't know whether to shudder or to be excited by the amazing large size of the bacteria. These bacteria are the largest ever found, and are about 5000 times the size of most bacteria (which can only be seen under a microscope).

In fact, Dr. Levin of Washington Univ. pointed out that these bacteria can't even rightly be called microbes, because microbes are by definition microscopic! (She wrote a commentary accompanying the research report in the journal Science). A number of things are amazing about the huge bacteria!

Excerpts from NPR: Think all bacteria are microscopic? Tell that to these centimeter-long monsters

Bacteria typically live out their teeny-tiny lives in the microscopic realm, but now scientists have found a gargantuan one the size and shape of a human eyelash. ...continue reading "Largest Bacteria Ever Found Are Size Of Eyelashes"

There has been much concern with the persistence and lack of good treatments for persons with long COVID. This is when symptoms persist long-term (for months or years!) after the initial COVID-19 infection, even if the infection seemed pretty mild at the time. The symptoms can be quite severe, even with multiorgan effects, and result in disability.

This is why the possibility of those with long COVID getting the COVID vaccine and showing quick improvement in their symptoms is great news. However, there is debate over how many people with long COVID are actually helped - a review of studies looking at this suggest under 20%. However, the good news is that most people with long COVID slowly improve over time, even without any post COVID vaccines.

Please note: Vaccines reduce the chance of developing long COVID by about half among people who are vaccinated before they develop covid-19.

Excerpts from Medical Xpress: Vaccines may lessen long COVID for some, but more study is needed

Vaccination after infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19, is associated with a decrease in the likelihood of long COVID symptoms, finds a large study of U.K. adults published today by the BMJ . ...continue reading "Vaccines May Help With Long COVID"

Any moment now there will be officially 1 million deaths from COVID-19 in the United States. A horrible, horrible number. And while the majority of COVID-19 deaths has been in the elderly, nearly 250,000 has been in persons younger than 65, and around 61,000 of these deaths were in people under the age of 50.

COVID-19 was the leading cause of death among US adults between the ages of 45 to 54 years - 30,361 deaths in 2021! (The  data still isn't in for the last 2 months) More than cancer, heart disease, accidents, etc. Yikes!

There were half a million deaths before the vaccines, and since vaccines - another half a million deaths, primarily in those who were unvaccinated. Actually, it is generally accepted that the number of actual COVID-19 deaths is higher than a million - these are just the known deaths.

Bottom line: Get vaccinated and boosted!

Excerpts from Dr. Jeremy Faust's article at Inside Bulletin, authored by Dr. Jeremy Faust: The million US Covid dead are younger than you think.

One million people have now died of Covid-19 in the United States. As awful as this milestone is on its own terms, it is more painful because so many deaths were preventable. And more of these deaths occurred in younger people than is commonly realized.  ...continue reading "One Million Deaths And Counting"

Pancreas with cancer (red dot) Credit: Wikipedia

Pancreatic cancer is typically discovered only when it is advanced, very hard to treat, and typically with poor outcomes. Interesting recent research found that the gut microbiome is distinctive in persons with pancreatic cancer, even in the early stages. Perhaps this finding will lead to an easy noninvasive way to screen for pancreatic cancer.

Researchers in Spain and Germany looked at both the community of microbes (microbiome) living in the mouth and the gut (shown in a person's feces). They took samples from healthy persons, individuals with pancreatic cancer, and persons with chronic pancreatitis  and found that the bacteria in the stool were predictive for pancreatic cancer (but not those in the mouth).

The "fecal microbiota signature" or pattern of microbes in those with pancreatic cancer had an increase in some microbes (e.g., Fusobacterium nucleatum) and a decrease in others (e.g., Faecalibacterium prausnitzii) - when compared to healthy individuals.

By the way, Fusobacterium nucleatum is found increased in other cancers, such as colon cancer, and beneficial and anti-inflammatory Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is reduced in a number of diseases. Eating a diet rich in high fiber foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts) increase the numbers of F. prausnitzi in a person's gut microbial community.

From Medical Xpress: Distinct gut microbial profile may identify pancreatic cancer, irrespective of stage

A specific panel of gut microbes may identify pancreatic cancer, irrespective of how far the disease has progressed, suggests research published online in the journal Gut. ...continue reading "Pancreatic Cancer Has a Distinct Gut Microbial Pattern"

10

It is now 9 full years since I first started successfully treating both chronic sinusitis and regular sinus infections using only  the probiotic Lactobacillus sakei. This means no antibiotics or any other antibacterial has been used in more than 9 years! This is amazing – ten years ago I didn't believe this to be possible.

Research shows that the beneficial bacteria Lactobacillus sakei occurs naturally (in tiny amounts) in healthy sinuses, but is depleted or missing in those with sinusitis. (You know we all have a sinus microbiome - bacteria, fungi, and viruses living in the sinuses, yes?) I started by using kimchi after reading research in late 2012, but the last few years I've used the refrigerated product Lanto Sinus, which contains a kimchi-derived strain of Lactobacillus sakei. 

I have heard from hundreds of people since the blog started, and the majority agree - Lactobacillus sakei works great as a sinusitis treatment! (Other probiotic species just don't work.) [See Best Probiotics For Sinusitis for details on results and products used.]

Lessons Learned During Past 9 Years:

  1. Lactobacillus sakei alone is enough to treat sinusitis or sinus infections. Don't need fancy concoctions or fancy protocols when using it. Using it (whether in kimchi or Lanto Sinus) should take under 1 minute a day!
  2. Only use Lactobacillus sakei when needed - when there are some sinus symptoms (e.g., lots of mucus, post nasal drip) or you're sliding towards sinusitis. No need to wait till the sinus infection is full-blown.
  3. Stop using it when feeling better. Just like with antibiotics, don't take it daily and routinely, but only when needed.
  4. Use for a few days and evaluate whether you can stop or whether you need to keep using it longer. Frequently the sinuses keep improving even after stopping Lactobacillus sakei. One can always use more if needed.
  5. Lactobacillus sakei normally lives in healthy sinuses, which is why it is such an effective sinus infection treatment for so many people.
  6. Over time (whether weeks or months) a person typically needs less Lactobacillus sakei to treat sinus symptoms. The L. sakei colonizes in the sinuses - whether short-term or long-term.
  7. Swishing a product like Lanto Sinus in the mouth alone is a gentle and cautious way to use the product. Using it in the nostrils is a stronger way to use the product.
  8. Don't overdo it. Using a little bit in the nostrils (as described in Sinusitis Treatment Summary) is sufficient. Let the little buggers travel on their own throughout the sinuses!
  9. If Lactobacillus sakei works for a person, it can feel miraculous as sinusitis symptoms disappear, frequently within a few days. Others have slower improvement. Unfortunately, it doesn't work for everyone and only self-experimentation determines whether it does - after all, everyone's sinus microbiome is different.

Hopefully this offers hope to sinus infection sufferers. Good health!

An Epstein Barr virus infection is so common that about 95% of us have had it at some point in life, usually childhood. Sometimes it leads to mononucleosis. New research strengthens the case that the Epstein Barr virus (EBV) also plays a part in the development of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The study found that getting an EBV infection (mononucleosis) in early adulthood acts as a trigger for later development of multiple sclerosis - about 10 years later. MS usually develops between the ages of 20 to 40 in adulthood. The results are so compelling because the Harvard Univ. researchers looked at data from 10 million young adults on active duty in the US military. They found that risk of MS increased 32-fold after infection with EBV, but not other viruses.

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease in which the immune system attacks the brain and spinal cord, stripping away protective insulation (myelin) around the nerve cells. The Epstein Barr virus is a herpes virus that attacks a type of immune cell called B cells. After the initial EBV infection the virus remains dormant in a person's cells for the rest of the person's life. A number of studies have found EBV-infected B cells in the brains and demyelinated lesions of MS patients.

The hope now is to develop an EBV vaccine or stop the virus with antiviral drugs targeting EBV, and that this could ultimately prevent or cure MS. Keep in mind that EBV is considered a multifactorial disease by many, with several factors increasing the risk - such as having certain genes, not getting enough vitamin D, and also an Epstein Barr virus infection

From Science Daily: Epstein-Barr virus may be leading cause of multiple sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis (MS), a progressive disease that affects 2.8 million people worldwide and for which there is no definitive cure, is likely caused by infection with the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), according to a study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers.  ...continue reading "Epstein Barr Virus May Be A Trigger For Developing Multiple Sclerosis"

Sperm quality and sperm count is diminished for months after an unvaccinated man is infected with COVID-19. Yikes!

A study conducted by a team of Belgian researchers analyzed samples of sperm from 120 unvaccinated men (average age 35 years) in the first two months after they had recovered from COVID-19 infection. They found that in the first month after infection 37% of the men had reduced sperm counts and 60% had reduced sperm motility (how sperm moves). Over time there was improvement, but even after 2 months sperm count was lower in 6% and reduced sperm motility in 28%.

The only good news was that there was no evidence of the virus in the semen - which means that the semen isn't infectious after recovery. By the way, severity of the infection (with symptoms, including fever) did not correlate with the effects on sperm.

The researchers felt that by 3 months the sperm should be back to normal, but they are also doing a follow-up study to confirm this.

Bottom line: The first 2 months after COVID-19 infection is not the time to try to conceive a baby (due to suboptimal sperm). The study results are also a good argument for getting vaccinated!

From Medscape: Sperm Count, Motility May Be Low for Months After COVID-19

Sperm quality is impaired for months in some men after recovery from COVID-19, researchers have found. ...continue reading "COVID-19 Has An Effect On Sperm Quality"

When we eat food, we eat all the microbes that live on and in the food. But how many microbes do we eat daily? An interesting study was published a few years ago that tried to answer this question. The researchers found that the average American adult ingests between 1 million to over 1 billion microbes every day!

The University of California researchers conducted the study in 2014 by analyzing meals representing three typical dietary patterns: 1) the average American diet (lots of convenience foods) (2) the USDA recommended diet (emphasis on fruits and vegetables, lean meat, dairy, and whole grains), and 3) vegan diet (excludes all animal and dairy products).

They found that Americans likely consume between one million to about 1.3 billion live microbes daily from foods and beverages.  The highest numbers (3-fold higher) were in the USDA recommended meal plan, because it involved 2 meals with fermented foods (that had not been heat-treated or pasteurized, which kill many bacteria). Fresh produce also has high numbers of bacteria (e.g., an apple has 100 million bacteria!).

Fermented foods (e.g. kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, traditional pickles, kombucha, natto, tempeh, miso) are loaded with microbial species. Recent research shows that eating a serving or 2 of fermented foods daily is a quick way to improve health (by lowering inflammation) and increasing the diversity of bacterial species in the gut microbiome.

Ingesting higher numbers of microbes from foods is desirable  - because having more species in the gut is considered a sign of health. Some of the microbes we ingest join our existing gut microbes, but others just pass through our gut and leave (the "transient microbiome"). Research finds that microbes can have beneficial effects even as they pass through.

Excerpts from the Lang, Eisen, Zivkovic study (2014) study, from Peer Journal: The microbes we eat: abundance and taxonomy of microbes consumed in a day's worth of meals for three diet types.

...Little is known about the effects of ingested microbial communities that are present in typical American diets, and even the basic questions of which microbes, how many of them, and how much they vary from diet to diet and meal to meal, have not been answered.   ...continue reading "We Eat Millions Of Microbes Each Day"

When COVID-19 vaccines first became available to the general public in 2021, women were concerned over whether it was safe to get vaccinated during pregnancy. The answer (from medical studies) is yes, the vaccines are safe and beneficial for both the mother and baby. This is great news!

Also, a recent study found that when women get a mRNA vaccine (either Pfizer or Moderna) during pregnancy, they pass high levels of antibodies to their babies. This means 100% of the babies had protective antibodies to COVID-19 when they were born. The New York University researchers found the highest level of antibodies in the infants when the mothers received the vaccine in the second half of pregnancy.

Current CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines recommend that pregnant and breastfeeding women get the COVID-19 vaccine. This is because getting COVID-19 during pregnancy can result in more severe disease, higher risk of preterm birth and  pregnancy outcomes.

BOTTOM LINE: Getting the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy protects both the mother and baby. (By the way, studies also find that nursing transfers antibodies to the baby in the breast milk, but it is still unclear if the levels are high enough to fully protect the baby from COVID-19).

From Science Daily: Pregnant women who receive COVID-19 vaccination pass protection from the virus to their newborns

Women who receive the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy pass high levels of antibodies to their babies, a new study finds.  ...continue reading "The COVID-19 Vaccine During Pregnancy Protects Both Mother and Baby"

Many people somehow think that COVID-19 is just another flu virus and not that bad. Wrong! The deadly flu epidemic of 1918 killed an estimated 675,000 persons in the United States. But COVID-19 has already killed more than 690,000 persons - and these are the confirmed cases! It is now officially the deadliest disease event or pandemic in American history.

Currently more than 1900 persons are still dying daily in the United States - so the numbers are increasing rapidly.

It is thought that actual numbers of deaths are at least 10% higher (e.g., a person dies at home from the virus, but had never taken COVID-19 test when alive). Johns Hopkins University updates case and death numbers daily (see COVID-19 Dashboard), for both the US and the rest of the world.

Very soon the official number of deaths from COVID-19 will surpass 700,000! In just two short years! Some comparisons of events causing large numbers of deaths are: the death toll for Americans in the War Between the States (Civil War) was about 650,000, and about 405,000 for World War II. The HIV/AIDS virus has killed at least 700,000 people since the beginning of the epidemic in the 1960s - but this is over the course of 60 years.

Excerpts from Stat News: Covid-19 overtakes 1918 Spanish flu as deadliest disease in American history

The Covid-19 pandemic has become the deadliest disease event in American history, with a death toll surpassing that of the 1918 Spanish flu. ...continue reading "COVID-19 Is Now the Deadliest Pandemic in American History"