It seems all I talk about these days is the critical importance of immune health and how we are all standing on the precipice of good, the not-so-good, and just plain bad immune protection. We already know there are numerous things in our environment and as part of our daily lives such as poor air quality, EMFs, unhealthy diets laced with pesticides like glyphosate, chemicals, toxins and food additives that can negatively impact our health. But are these external influences also potentially a factor in disrupting our immune systems to the point of initiating such serious considerations as neuropsychiatric disorders and even suicidal behavior?
Researchers looked closely at this question in a study, “Association of Primary Humoral Immunodeficiencies With Psychiatric Disorders and Suicidal Behavior and the Role of Autoimmune Diseases” recently published in the June 2020 volume of JAMA Psychiatry.
Their findings included:
“Primary humoral immunodeficiencies (PID) were robustly associated with psychopathology and suicidal behavior, particularly in women. The associations could not be fully explained by co-occurring autoimmune diseases, suggesting that antibody dysfunction may play a role, although other mechanisms are possible. Individuals with both PID and autoimmune disease had the highest risk of psychiatric disorders and suicide, suggesting an additive effect.”*
The mechanisms and additive effects to which the investigators refer seems to point to the very things about which I have written extensively to date – is our environment and the ongoing assault by negative elements all around us contributing to our immune systems seeming to suddenly go awry? As the study also notes, there is still much we need to do to learn more about the potential for disease initiation to subsequently find ways to address and ideally help prevent the incidence of neuropsychiatric disorders.
I have learned too about a study off-label being conducted by a group of coroners who are employing Cunningham panels to examine rates of acute suicides and high levels of destructive antibodies in individuals who have suddenly ended their lives for what seems to be no "apparent reason." The Cunningham Panel™, which looks for neuronal antibodies attacking the brain, is often used in the diagnosis of PANS and PANDAS. It is a widely utilized resource in the assessment and treatment protocol plans for the many – and increasing numbers – of patients afflicted with these debilitating conditions."
Is this another opportunity to look at the benefits of IVIg therapy?
With the current science behind the field of psychoneuroimmunology, the perspective and need to identify approaches for treatment relative to psychiatry and neurology have been literally turned upside down. We can’t ignore the increasing burdens imposed on our immune systems by so many issues we experience on a daily basis, whether from toxins or chemicals or the increasing air pollution from a variety of sources along with undeniable climate changes. I have always said that no one walks in the door and gets multiple sclerosis or Alzheimer’s or any of the many neurological diseases that affect our patients. And now we have to consider that mental health disorders can be included in this thinking in order to look at the root cause of the disorder and only then can we hope to arrive at a viable protocol that offers real relief. IVIg has shown great promise and results in treating PANS and PANDAS so it may be possibly be helpful as well beyond the autoimmune conditions we treat. Perhaps too we should as a medical community comprised of so many diverse professionals look at doing more full autoimmune encephalopathy workups along with encouraging lifestyle modifications that support a healthy immune system. This is the basic tenet of integrative medicine that combines the science and wealth of knowledge to determine a practical approach unique to each patient and their individual needs.
We invite you to read further in our blog archives, links included in the references and resources below, about IVIg, neuropsychiatric disorders and PANS and PANDAS. As always, if we can be of any help or answer your questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our offices. We are here for you!
Stay curious, stay healthy and stay well!
Dr. Suzanne Gazda
*Isung, J., Williams, K., Isomura, K., Gromark, C., Hesselmark, E., Lichtenstein, P., Larsson, H., Fernández de la Cruz, L., Sidorchuk, A., & Mataix-Cols, D. (2020). Association of Primary Humoral Immunodeficiencies With Psychiatric Disorders and Suicidal Behavior and the Role of Autoimmune Diseases. JAMA psychiatry, e201260. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2020.1260
Or see: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7287945/
For more information about the Cunningham Panel:
Dr. Gazda’s blog archives for further reading:
Dr. Suzanne Gazda, Integrative Neurology