By Russell L. Blaylock, M.D., CCN
It has been estimated that 14.8 million Americans suffer from major depressive disorder and of this number 6 million are elderly. If we include anxiety disorders, which commonly accompany depression, the number jumps to 40 million adults. At a cost of $44 billon dollars a year just for care of the seniors, this impacts the national budget as well.
Depression later in life tends to last longer and be more severe than at younger ages. It is also associated with a high rate of suicide.
Previously, it was thought that major depression was secondary to a deficiency in certain neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly the monoamines, which include serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. While alterations in these important mood-related neurotransmitters is found with major depression, growing evidence indicates that the primary culprit is low-grade, chronic brain inflammation.
In addition, we now know that inflammatory cytokines can lower serotonin significantly and for long periods by a number of different mechanisms.
MSG and Depression
Researchers have also discovered that most people with major depressive disease (MDD) have higher levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate in their spinal fluid (CSF) and blood plasma. This is the same glutamate found as a food additive-for example, MSG (monosodium glutamate), hydrolyzed proteins, calcium or sodium casienate, soy protein isolate, vegetable protein concentrate or isolate, etc.
Much of the free glutamate in the brain of depressed people comes from within, that is it escapes from special cells within the brain itself (microglia and astrocytes). Free glutamate, that is, existing outside the neurons, is very toxic to brain connections and brain cells themselves — mainly by a process called excitotoxicity.
This connection between high brain glutamate levels and major depression was discovered quite by accident, when researchers observed that the anesthetic drug ketamine could relieve depression for a prolonged period. Ketamine is a powerful blocking drug for a class of glutamate receptors (NMDA receptors).
For quite some time it was known that depression could cause a loss of neurons in the hippocampus of the brain-the area most important for recent memory (declarative memory or working memory), the form of memory most affected in Alzheimer’s disease.
This shrinkage of the brain usually occurred with long-term depression, yet it was shown, using sophisticated testing, that even without brain shrinkage, memory could be adversely affected. Some antidepressants could not only reverse the memory loss but could reverse the shrinkage as well.
The implication was that the elevated brain glutamate, via excitotoxicity, was destroying brain connections and later killing brain cells in the hippocampus and that the antidepressants were lowering brain glutamate levels. Subsequent studies have confirmed that drugs that block excitotoxicity also reduce depression and that some antidepressants reduce brain glutamate levels.
The Link Between Elevated Brain Glutamate and Inflammation
A tremendous amount of research has now demonstrated the link between chronic low-level brain inflammation, elevated brain glutamate levels and major depression. We know that as we age, the level of inflammatory immune cytokines increase (such as interleukin-1ß (IL-1), IL-6 and TNF-a). That is, the level of inflammation in our body increases, with high levels being seen at the extremes of life — the 80s and 90s.
This progressive elevation in the body’s inflammation increases our risk of a number of inflammation-linked diseases, such as cancer, arthritis, muscle weakness, fatigue, sleep disturbances, memory loss and confusion. People with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease have even higher levels of these inflammatory cytokines — much higher.
When inflammatory chemicals are elevated in the brain it makes brain cells more vulnerable to a number of toxins, many of which are in the environment. One study demonstrated, using a series of sophisticated techniques, that if brain cells were exposed to low levels of a pesticide there was little toxicity seen and that if you exposed these same brain cells to an immune stimulant alone, little damage occurred.
But if you first exposed the brain cells to the immune stimulant, the same low dose of pesticide could destroy a great number of brain cells.
The importance of this observation was that the vaccine made the brain cells hypersensitive to the toxin so that even in concentrations that normally would do not cause harm, could wiped out most of the neurons. One of the strongest connections between an environmental toxin (pesticides) and a neurological disorder is with Parkinson’s disease.
The reason it is more common in the elderly is that they have the highest levels of inflammatory cytokines. This also explains the high incidence of Alzheimer’s disease, which reaches incidences of 50% after age 80.
The link to depression was also serendipitous
Doctors using immune cytokines to treat patients with cancer or hepatitis found that one third of the patients developed major depressive illness within days of the treatment and that it resolved only when the treatment was terminated. Other studies, in which inflammatory cytokine levels were measured in people with major depressive illness, also found most had high levels of these inflammatory chemicals.
To their surprise, they found that many of the antidepressant medications commonly used lowered inflammatory cytokines levels and that patients who failed to respond had the highest level of the cytokines.
So, how is this linked to excitotoxicity?
Neuroscientists have known for some time that inflammatory cytokines cause the brain to release higher levels of glutamate — the more intense the inflammation, the higher the brain glutamate level. The highest levels are found in the prefrontal lobes and limbic system, the areas most related to mood control. MSG also increases brain inflammation.
Vaccination and Brain Inflammation
A great number of studies have shown that when you vaccinate an animal, the body’s inflammatory cytokines not only increase dramatically, but so do the brain’s inflammatory chemicals. The brain has its own immune system that is intimately connected to the body’s immune system. The main immune cell in the brain is called a microglia. Normally, these brain cells are lying throughout the brain in a resting state (called ramified).
Once activated, they can move around, traveling between brain cells like amoeba (called amoeboid microglia).
In the resting state, they release chemicals that support the growth and protection of brain cells and their connections (dendrites and synapses). But when activated, they secrete a number of very harmful chemicals, including inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, complement, free radicals, lipid peroxidation products, and two excitotoxins — glutamate and quinolinic acid.
In essence, these brain immune cells are out to kill invaders, since the body’s immune system sent an emergency message that an invasion had occurred. With most infections, this phase of activation last no more than a few days to two weeks, during which time the immune system successfully kills off the invaders.
Once that is accomplished, the immune system shuts down to allow things to cool off and the brain to repair what damage was done by its own immune system.
What researchers knew was that during this period of activation, people generally feel bad and that what they experience closely resembles depression — a condition called “sickness behavior”. Most of us have experience this when suffering from a viral illness — such things as restlessness, irritability, a need to get away from people, trouble sleeping, fatigue and difficulty thinking.
Studies have shown that there are two phases to this “sickness behavior”; one in which we have the flu-like symptoms and a later onset of depression-like symptoms that can last awhile. They have also shown that all of these symptoms are due to high levels of inflammatory cytokines in the brain, which come from activated microglia.
A number of studies have also shown that after age 50, people have exaggerated and prolonged “sickness behavior”, much more so than younger people. This is one of the reasons why many elderly hang onto flu symptoms for months after exposure.
There is also another immune phenomenon that plays a major role in vaccine-related brain injury. Researchers discovered that when you vaccinate an animal, the brain microglia immune cells turn on partially (called priming), that is, they are in a state of high readiness. If the immune system is activated again soon after (days, weeks to months), these microglia explode into action secreting levels of their destructive chemicals far higher than normal. This overreaction can be very destructive and make you feel very depressed.
Stimulating your immune system with a vaccine is far different than contracting an infectious illness naturally. Vaccines are made of two components — the agent you wish to vaccinate against — for example, the measles virus; and an immune system booster called an immune adjuvant.
These adjuvants are composed of such things as aluminum compounds, MSG, lipid compounds and even mercury. Their job is to make the immune system react as intensely as possible and for as long as possible.
Studies have shown that these adjuvants, from a single vaccine, can cause immune overactivation for as long as two years. This means that the brain microglia remain active as well, continuously pouring out destructive chemicals. In fact, one study found that a single injection of an immune activating substance could cause brain immune overactivation for over a year. This is very destructive.
Flu Vaccines and an Expanding Vaccine Schedule for the Elderly
Public health authorities and physician societies are in an all out campaign to have every elderly person vaccinated every year with the flu vaccine as well as a growing number of newer vaccines. When I was practicing neurosurgery, the hospitals had an automatic written order on all older patients’ charts mandating a flu vaccine, unless it was countermanded by the physician, which I always did.
Now, they are giving the shots in malls, tents and every available site they can muster. And worse still, using lies and scare tactics to frighten the elderly into getting the shots (such as the bold lie that 36,000 elderly die of the flu every year).
As you age, your immune system, including that special immune system in your brain, releases significantly more inflammatory immune cytokines than when you were younger. This serves to prime the microglia, as discussed. So, when you get your first flu shot your microglia overreact and does so for a very long period — perhaps years.
Many elderly report that the flu shot gave them the flu. Proponents of vaccines, retort with a condescending laugh; that it is impossible because the flu vaccine contains killed flu viruses. In truth, what these people are reporting is a prolonged, intense “sickness behavior” response to the vaccine. To the body, it is worse than getting the flu.
Remember, no one is recording the number of elderly who die after getting the flu shot, especially if they die months later, which can happen with sickness behavior, especially if they have a preexisting chronic illness or are infirm.
The Shocking Truth
With the elderly already having increased inflammatory cytokine levels both systemically and in their brain, stimulating these primed microglia so that a chronic overstimulation of the brain’s immune system is triggered, will not only increase their risk of developing one of the neurodegenerative diseases, but will also substantially increase their risk of developing major depression. Remember, this also increases their risk of suicide, and even homicide, dramatically.
Anxiety is a major problem with depression, and vaccinations will greatly worsen the condition. In fact, vaccination, especially multiple vaccinations, will maintain the brain in a state of inflammation that will be self-perpetuating, because the excess release of glutamate in the brain, as well as glutamate in the diet, will further enhance microglial activation and excitotoxicity.
Those who are prone to developing one of the neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease will be at a drastically increased risk as we have seen experimentally when even animals exposed to subtoxic concentrations of environmental toxins and vaccinated develop neurologic worsening.
Most people use pesticides in their home, and studies have shown that the concentrations in homes are sufficient to trigger Parkinson’s disease in susceptible people. Vaccinations, as these studies have shown, will greatly increase that risk. Most doctors are completely unaware of this important research.
You must keep in mind that “health authorities” urge the elderly to get the flu vaccine each