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An "Epilephany"- Viruses, Serotonin, and Light Boxes

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*An "Epilephany"- Viruses, Serotonin, and Light Boxes to Help Treat Epilepsy (New!!!)  This is a letter that I wrote to my friend and colleague Dr. Jean Dodds today (1-12-06). It started out...innocently a question that I was posing to her brilliant mind asking whether she thought that light therapy could help epileptics as it does people with seasonal affected disorder (SAD). Once we understand the vital serotonin connection, which this letter goes into more deeply, then we can see how light therapy...the right kind of light therapy... may benefit those with epilepsy by boosting their serotonin levels. BUT, as I am prone to do, I got a little off topic and unloaded some other loaded questions and thoughts on her. It turned out to be a pretty good summary of everything I know and believe about how diseases...yes all diseases...occur. Hope you get something good from it.

An "Epilephany"- Viruses, Serotonin, and Light  Boxes to Help Treat Epilepsy
The following is a letter that I wrote to my friend and colleague Dr. Jean Dodds today (1-12-06). It started out...innocently a question that I was posing to her brilliant mind asking whether she thought that light therapy could help epileptics as it does people with seasonal affected disorder (SAD). Once we understand the vital serotonin connection, which this letter goes into more deeply, then we can see how light therapy...the right kind of light therapy... may benefit those with epilepsy by boosting their serotonin levels. BUT, as I am prone to do, I got a little off topic and unloaded some other loaded questions and thoughts on her. It turned out to be a pretty good summary of everything I know and believe about how diseases...yes all diseases...occur. Hope you get something good from it.
Hey Jean,
Happy New year! I hope 2006 is the best ever for you and your family.
As I am sure is true with you, my mind never seems to stop going now that I have passed through this doorway. Sometimes I wish I could throw up this red pill, take the blue one instead, and go back into my comfy place in The Matrix. Have you seen Morpheus recently? LOL 
 Actually, I have never been more excited about being involved in medicine. I just get tired of thinking sometimes. (Thank God for golf.) But, today is not one of those days. LOL  So, grab a cup of coffee (or three) and tell me what you think. I'll try to be brief. ("yeah, right.")
My recent area of research has been serotonin (as well as viruses in their role in "genetics"). Wow!!! There are so many things about serotonin that I did not know and yet fit so perfectly into this whole puzzle. I have been flabbergasted for years by the devastation we see in human and veterinary health in the fall and winter months, knowing that the cold and flu season has good reason to occur but having never seen the full serotonin connection. I have known about seasonal affected disorder (SAD) for years, experiencing it myself to pathological levels in my 40's. I have also known about serotonin and platelet function for years. I picked up on the pattern of aural hematomas (and my own gum bleeding until I went gluten and casein free) starting in fall and peaking in April years ago but did not really know why they occurred. I had thought for years that all dogs with hematomas had a bleeding disorder that distinguished them from the other pets that beat the stew out of their ears and never developed one. Little did we know that the bleeding problem was one that we were not measuring, that being serotonin depletion. No wonder I was depressed and had bleeding gums for years before going gluten and casein free.
But, I recently (finally) saw the third connection- the role of serotonin in the immune response. Wow, again! Between less sunlight causing less vitamin D conversion (and it's profound effect on immunity) and the dropping serotonin, no wonder the immune system struggles so when the days get short. I thought the cold and flu season was simply because of dropping ambient temperatures and that the subsequent drop in nasal passage temps allowed those opportunistic viruses (that really hate 98.6 in people and 100-102 in dogs/cats) to take hold. And, that is partly the case. But, I now think it is more likely that the other two factors above determine the breadth and depth of this seasonal phenomenon.
So, I did a search for "serotonin, immune system" and man did I get an eyeful. You may know all of this but I didn't. It was an epiphany of sorts to see the vital importance of this aspect of our seasonal "bio-rhythms". Of course, this fits perfectly into the design of nature. Winter always has been and always will be the "survival of the fittest" in nature. The strongest survive and go onto to breed in spring, thereby insuring the survival of the species. Why certain species hibernate and other flourish in winter all become understandable, as well. (But that is too lengthy to get into. I did think it was cool, tho, to realize that turkeys- one of the most well-known sources of tryptophan, the precursor of serotonin- become available in fall and winter and also become one of our dietary staples right when we needed them most.)  So, it is natural for the immunity to wane in winter to facilitate this "thinning of the herd". It was done by design.
But, what man has done to himself, his diet, his environment, and the animals (and produce) themselves has amplified this situation phenomenally...almost unbelievably once this really sinks in, Jean.

Where is most of the serotonin produced? By the enterochromaffin cells of the intesine. It is then distributed by platelets and white cells to the needed sites. Hmmm... Why are celiacs almost universally depressed? Because we are leaking serotonin into our damaged gut, resulting directly from the action of the lectins in gluten (and casein, soy, and corn) damaging the villi and those cells that produce serotonin. We ofetn suffer from serious depression/SAD. We are also bleeders, bruising easily and suffering from bleeding gums with routine tooth brushing (me, me , me in the past!). We have crummy immune systems for lots of reasons, but add to that the effect of low serotonin on T cells and the immune response. And, we are some of the worst epileptics!!! But, we also get better...and quickly....with elimination of the offending foods.
Here is the main reason I wrote today. How do we treat SAD (seasonal affected disorder)? Well, the main way in the literature (other than pharmakeia. LOL) is light therpay. And it works in many cases. ( Of course, the main way to treat SAD would be to do what I have done to cure myself- stop the leak and increase production. This is done by eliminating the offenders of the big 4 (gluten casein, soy, corn) that are doing it. SAD would vaporize in those who did this without light therapy, just as it has in my case. But, for those who won't/"can't" do the diet, then light therapy is a decent and effective back-up. That along with getting plenty of tryptophan (eat those turkeys) and maybe a melatonin supplement at night. However, that is like taking an aspirin for a headache caused by a brain tumor, right? Headache gone...still got the tumor.
What else would light therapy help??? Ahhhh...that again is the main reason for this Email. Could light therapy help an epileptic if done properly. Certainly, we know that certain frequencies of light even trigger seizures. But those light sources that have been incriminated are usually flickering sources, like fluorescent lights, TVs, computers/graphics. I had an epi person the other day have a seizure while riding in the car, looking out the window, and observing the sunlight coming through a stand of tall trees. It was like a strobe-light effect and resulted in a seizure. Would this have happened in summer when the days were long and her serotonin was higher? Could have.
Would light boxes used for SAD therapy trigger seizures like this? Not likely, as long as an incandescent, non-flickering light was used.
I have had a number of seizure logs sent to me that show an increase in seizures during the short days, some very dramatically. I got one recently from a person with a Lab that had all of its 26 seizures from November to April- none in the longer days from April to November. This now makes sense. Have you been seeing an increase since, say, September? I'm sure you have. My Email box is full of them, from pets and people.
We know that serotonin has an inhibitory effect on seizures, moderating the effect of glutamate in the synapse. Low serotonin levels must have a great impact on the development and severity of seizures. And restoring these levels is a major contributing factor in the recovery I believe, once again helping to explain why the elimination diet works so well. So, if light therapy helps restore these levels for the depressed person, they should help the epileptic, right?
And how many dogs (and people) get the right amount of full spectrum light every day? The lights in our homes and offices do not come close to the amount of light in direct sunlight, do they? (200-500 lux verus the 50,000-100,000 lux that we get from direct sunlight.) How many indoor, couch-potato epi dogs get enough light, even during the summer months (especially those drugged to the hilt)?  Add to that the immunosuppressive effects of inadequate light (both vitamin D and serotonin deficiency) and we have a better idea of why these epi dogs crash so badly this time of year.
Why? Because "idiopathic" epilepsy IS viral, isn't it? It just has to be. The main underlying cause of idiopathic epilepsy must be a viral or mycoplasmal infection (e.g of the glial cells, a known target for viruses and mycoplasma). There are numerous viruses that have been proven to cause seizures, including a number of Herpes and parmyxoviruses. Even the ubiquitous Epstein Barr, Herpes simplex, and Coxsackie virus have been known to be causes/triggers of seizures. This "idiopathic" condition has virus written all over it (just like cancer and immune-mediated diseases do), from the age of onset to the varying severity to the clinical course to the remitting/relapsing symptoms. And if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck.....  Once we see that, then we can easily see how the cascade of events takes place that "unleashes" these guys...these opportunists that lay in wait for innocent blood. But do they really? Are they really "bad guys"?...all evil???
That is the coolest part of what I have come to see over the past year. Viruses were meant for good...yes, good...created to allow/facilitate adaptation and variation in nature. Once again, here is that link that started this whole thought process for me ( You don't have to be "religious" to see the Truth in what he writes. And yes, they were created for good- an organism that was meant to live in a symbiotic relationship with us while FORCING adaptation of the host to insure its survival. (In that way, it has an almost "selfish"/parasitic side to it, doesn't it?). It is these very viruses in our DNA that allow/force us to adapt to the bad things that we do to ourselves.
How do dogs adapt to a wheat-based diet in just 3-4 days? How long does it take for a healthy individual to get over a viral infection. Hmmm... Makes you think about what "genes" and our DNA really are, doesn't it? How do genes "mutate"? Are genes alive? If genes cause disease states, why do they wait years and years to do so? Oh man, this is getting good....isn't it?
But, the "bad" news is that these viruses will all costs! Yes, they will survive even if it means the end result being detrimental to their host. After all, they are not "alive" and thinking, right? (Well, if they are not alive, how is it that they do what they do? Man, we really do understand so little, don't we? We love to categorize things, don't we?).
So, now we can see them "morph" from their friendly, helpful self...causing variation and facilitating adaptation in all realms of nature...into their self-centered, survive-at-all-costs alter ego in the face of the threats that we throw at them. Yes, caused them to turn on us. As we pollute our bodies and environments, we are threatening them. And they start by making us stronger, to adapt. That is phase one. But, as we throw more and more at them and our bodies start to fail, the tissues become unhealthy and the immune system starts to fail and we enter phase two- rescue mode.
The viruses step up their operation and try to overcome the greater threat. Our immune system, which has been over-seeing this whole operation from the start (our guardian) recognizes the uprising and goes into action. This is one of the causes of "autoimmune disease", isn't it? The immune system starts to attack the tissue housing the "rebels" to suppress the uprising. Of course, the presence of lectins- those inflammatory glycoproteins from food that often unleash these guys to begin with- attract an even stronger and more violent response once we become sensitized to their presence.
Here is what I now believe to be the connection between lectins and viruses. When you read about lectins, you will find it written that once a lectin attaches to the glycoprotein receptors of a complex cell wall, a number of things can happen to that cell. In fact, one articles on lectins stated up to 12 different reactions can take place in that cell, ranging from cell death to tumor formation. Wow! A non-living, antibody-sized glycoprotein can do all of that??? Uhhh, I don't think so. But, I know who could. Yep, the virus living inside that cell, hidden in its very genome (which we know occurs). Hey, that's what viruses do, right? They inject their genetic information into our cells and then, in a tiny flash of light (as seen on the Discovery channel), that info disappears into our double-stranded helices. Then, it waits (and they don't wear watches).
Things become pretty simple, don't they? The virus is there in situ and along comes the stimulus to send it into action. One of those stimuli is the lectin. The virus goes into action to cause adaptation to insure its survival. And, this works...for a while...until the challenge becomes overwhelming or until the immune system fails to keep this guy under its thumb.
Yes, the virus is capable of good and bad and like us in so many ways, in that without restraint, it reverts to being bad. He wasn't "meant" to be this was any more than we were. It is just in their (and our) nature to be so if and when we eliminate the necessary restraints.
So once again, our medical lives are in perfect parallel with our spiritual ones. I have now some to have a better understanding of why this is so. There are things "seen" to help us understand the things "unseen".  (e.g. We discovered the unseen virus after we discovered the more visible bacteria which we found when we discovered the microscope, but only after we understood the grossly visible mold/fungus. Similarly, the relatively harmless roundworm and tapeworm help us understand the threat of the more serious "unseen" hookworm and whipworm.)  How cool is that??  Now, if you are of the mind to, apply that to your understanding of spiritual matters. (This concludes the sermon portion of this lecture. LOL)
Then we come to phase three: After the adaptation (one) and following the battle of the uprising (phase two-the battle for "middle" earth), which is immune failure. Yes, because of what we have done to ourselves, the immune system finally fails. The malabsorption caused by the big 4 food intolerances coupled with our overall poor diets, polluted environments, stressful lifestyles, shortening days/dropping serotonin, caffeine/sugar/food/tobacco/drug addictions, etc all add up to unhealthy tissues (brain, liver, kidneys, lungs, et all) and incompetent immune systems. It's amazing that we live as long as we do when I really think about it. Unfortunately, some lives are cut extremely short. Are we really surprised?  "Darn those genes". (Yeah, right.)
And what is immune failure? In a word, cancer....if we survive phase two- the immune-mediated diseases. It's a foot race, isn't it? Who will win this year- lung, breast, colon, prostate, or lower esophageal cancer or heart disease (immune-mediated atherosclerosis)?  What about the millions suffering from lupus, MS, Parkinson's, ALS, and rheumatoid and epilepsy. Are we really surprised that the asthma rates are skyrocketing as our lungs are desperately trying to limit the garbage coming into us through that port-of-entry. The GI tract is not our only Achilles' heel, is it? And what is the biggest "organ" and most exposed part in the body? The skin, right? Hmmm...wonder what is really going on in allergic dermatitis, eczemas, and psoriasis? Makes ya' think, huh?
So, what do you think? Will light boxes help in the treatment of epilepsy???
Your friend and admirer,
Dogtor J.


I hope you enjoyed your time here and got something important from your stay. It is my goal to help all of mankind navigate through the jungle of medical information now available on the Internet and find the truth about the origins of what we call "disease" as well as discover the natural solutions for these conditions.
We do have our health's destiny in our own hands more than we've ever imagined, certainly more than most have ever been told. Think naturally and the answer will come.
Dogtor J
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