30 May 2016

Miracle cure for cold sores - there, I said it!

I know, I know, as a scientist, I should never think/say/write about miracles, but... After suffering from cold sores for 35+ years, this solution is nothing short of a miracle!
OK, rewind, let me tell you my own story!

When I started this blog, I also started a probiotics cure. My reasons for this were multiple:
  • I'm on a healthy diet path and the right microbial strains in your gut can help you digest your food nicely, whereas the wrong ones can extract more energy than necessary and store all in fat (if you'd like to read about this, follow here
  • I'm lucky to be gut-healthy but a few of my family members are suffering from either IBS or IBD (the differences between these two diseases will be covered soon), I therefore may be carrying genetic predispositions to developing an auto-immune disease. Auto-immune diseases can strike a person with genetic susceptibilities at any age, anytime, following environmental random events (stress, medication, alcohol, ...); and a healthy gut may delay such impact (if you are interested in knowing more about this, please come back soon)
  • Last year, I was ill for 4 months non-stop as I was picking up bugs from my son's nursery; the right gut strains can help you modulate your immune system to fight illnesses (here
  • If ever I should fall ill with cancer, a healthy microbiota would help me fight the cancer through helpful modulation of my immune system, help me with side effects, and help my chemo or else medicines achieve optimal efficacy (here)
I had no idea, however, what impact it would have - if any - on my weight, wellbeing, or health. This is the reason why I haven't mentioned probiotics yet as I was doing my own experiment.

The first time I realised a difference
A few months ago, I felt the usual tingle on my lip that is so typical of cold sores. As every cold sore sufferer, I carry my Zovirax everywhere so I was able to quickly dab a little bit on where I felt 'the dreaded' was going to appear.
Then, what happened? NOTHING... Nothing happened, no cold sore appeared!
I know that this happens to some lucky cold sore sufferers, but for me, never in my 35+ years of cold sores experience, have I ever managed to stop  the growth of the virus. Zovirax helps the process go quicker but the pain, the vesicles, the scabbing, and the scar steps would always occur.
That's when I started to wonder if it had anything to do with my probiotics as I hadn't changed anything else in my life. Because life happens, I forgot about my miracle cure.

The second time confirmed my hopes
Last week, as I waking up, I felt the tingle again. Unfortunately, a few vesicles had already appeared and I had little hope I could stop the process. How wrong was I! After massaging a bit of Zovirax on them, the vesicles 'expired' after about 4 hours the way they usually do after 4 days. All I was left with was damaged skin that was going to scab and heal, so i used Compeed to speed up the process.

How I think it worked
Probiotics, Bio-Kult
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus
What I didn't know though is that a certain strain present in Bio-Kult (Lactobacillus rhamnosus) has been shown to help activate macrophages to eliminate the herpes simplex virus type-1 (responsible for cold sore) (here). Macrophages are the weapons of our innate immune system and they have been shown to orchestrate a multitude of anti-herpetic actions during the first hours of the attack (here). This specific strain contained in my Bio-Kult is therefore boosting my immune system to produce natural anti-cold sore actions right from the start.
- Lactobacillus plantarum
Another strain contained in my Bio-Kult, Lactobacillus plantarum, has also been shown to stop the spread of the virus (here).

The way Zovirax works is well known: the active ingredient is 5% aciclovir. Aciclovir is a drug that transforms into a form that inhibits and inactivates the spread and growth of the herpes virus. The way different people respond to it is variable. In my case, I usually don't see much difference; with probiotics as part of my diet, I saw a massive difference as I think both actions of probiotics and Zovirax combined to completely stop the growth of the virus.

Compeed contains a hydrocolloidal gel  and is well known to accelerate skin repair.

My Miracle Cure recipe
  1. Two Bio-Kult probiotics pills every day with water and food. If you are under antibiotics, it is advised to take four tablets of Bio-Kult per day but at different times than when you take your antibiotic (as your probiotics will be killed by the antibiotic if you take them at the same time!).
  2. As soon as you feel 'The' tingle, massage some Zovirax. Repeat as advised on the notice. If you caught the tingle when the vesicles are already present, massage the cream until vesicles are flatten and 'dead'.
  3. Dry the surface and apply a Compeed patch. Replace your patch as advised on the notice.

What have you tried for you cold sores? 
Do you have any miracle cures you would like to share?
Feel free to share your stories in the comments here below, I'd love to read your tips.

See you next Monday,

PS: Please note the Amazon images are affiliate links.

23 May 2016

The ultimate guide to probiotic supplements

I've been talking a lot about how wrong it is to ignore our gut flora, and I've tried to make a list of things we can do to optimize our gut flora. Something I have omitted is the talk about probiotics.
Although I am taking my own supplement, it's quite frankly a very unregulated area - something I intensely loathe! As you may have noticed, I like my facts to be evidence-based!
This post, however, is about a list of probiotics that have been studied for the treatment of various gastrointestinal (GI) issues and their level of evidence.
Although it is an American list, I think it gives an insight on which strains are useful for which ailment.
Have a look over HERE! If you are from the US, you may recognize some names. And some indeed are international so even we get them here in the UK.
Do you take probiotics? Is there a special disease, condition you would like to deal with by taking probiotics?
Let me know in the comments section,
See you next Monday,

16 May 2016

Chole, the MBAI Snail

A special post today: My friend C made me a knitted snail as emblem for the My Bugs And I (MBAI) blog! How nice is that??
Here is Chole, the Snail!

Chole, the Snail
Scientists researching microbiota of animals and insects have understood a lot about their species inhabiting them, how they protect themselves, digest, and fight invaders. One organism that hasn't received a lot of attention is molluscs.
Considering that a lot of research has been carried out in humans but so little is known or accepted, I think it is quite fitting that Chole should be the emblem of the blog as he represents the unknown.
Long live Chole ;)

See you next Monday!

9 May 2016

My guide to a healthy microbiota

Our microbiota is our own personal microsystem helping us to digest our food and fight invaders. It is composed of trillions of micro-organisms that populate our body, mostly in our gut. Among them, good and bad species fight for their territories. And the things we eat will feed the species that take over territories in our gut; studies have shown that eating processed food and a lot of sweet stuff is really good at killing off the most beneficial species that help us stay fit and healthy. On the other hand, eating food that will make our most beneficial species grow strong will help us achieve our goals of healthy living. More and more, doctors, nutritionists, naturopaths, (even oncologists), recognize the influence of good bacteria on our health.
What we are struggling with, however, is to know what to do about it. So, what can we do about it?

Here is my ultimate guide for a healthy microbiota. I gathered information and organized it into four sections:


Fibres - Yes

Why should I pay attention to my fibres intake?

1. Fibres have been advised as part of a healthy diet for years because they help with intestinal transit and make you regular.
2. It is also now known that certain fibres can be prebiotics, i.e. dedicated microbiota food that encourages good bacteria to prosper to help us fight invaders (more on how they do it HERE and why it's essential HERE).
3. Good bacteria help us to keep our colon intact and avoid inflammation (the infamous leaky gut syndrome) (more on this coming soon).

Where can I find fibres?

Apples, bananas, berries, raisins, kiwi, agave, honey, greens, onions, garlic, asparagus, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, lentils, chickpeas, beans, brown rice, corn, buckwheat, flaxseed, whole wheat, whole rye, barley, almonds
Please note, foods such as cheese and cereal bars that are labelled ‘prebiotic’ usually have added inulin, a soluble fibre most often extracted from chicory root.

Fermented food - Yes

Fermented food is also an excellent source of goodies for your microbiota.
Sauerkraut; yogurt; soy; natto, miso or tempeh (fermented soy beans with specific species of bacteria); kefir (fermented milk); and kombucha (fermented green/black tea).

What to avoid?

Dietary emulsifiers
A paper published in the highly regarded Nature journal showed that dietary emulsifiers may promote intestinal issues in pre-disposed individuals and metabolic syndrome in anyone (obesity and diabetes). Indeed, carboxymethylcellulose and polysorbate-80 were shown to induce low-grade inflammation with consequences on the gut's mucosal integrity.

Some of you who may be familiar with the leaky gut syndrome may have heard that saponins, aka glycoalkaloids, affect the integrity of our colon and should be avoided at all cost.
Saponins are present in spinach, oats, chick peas, beans, asparagus, onions, yams, garlic, tomatoes, and peppers as well as potatoes and tubers, but aren’t present in sweet potatoes. 
Whether these really have an impact on our health, I don't know yet, this will require a more extensive research, which I will carry out very soon.
But what I could find was that cooked potatoes release dietary resistant dextrin that act as prebiotic to modulate positively our microbiota. Moreover, a study in 2015 explained that if potatoes were previously thought to have a negative impact on our health, more research has revealed anti-cancer properties.

Sugar, processed meat, non-organic food are other types of food that are not recommended for a healthy microbiota. However, they do deserve a whole blog post each so, please come back soon to read about their impact on our gut mucosal integrity.

Behavioural habits

Alcool and smoking are clearly bad for you. Both have links to a higher risk of developing diseases including a long list of various cancers. In terms of influence on our microbiota, excessive alcohol intake has been shown to affect our microbial composition (HERE). Giving up smoking has also been shown to have remarkable effect and stimulate a healthier and more diverse microbiota (HERE).

Exercise is also a very good way of promoting a diverse microbiota as signals are sent via the gut-brain axis (HERE). Although admittedly when you exercise you are also more likely to follow a healthy regime, a study in mice showed that exercise alone induces gut microbial changes that are different from changes induced by diet (HERE).

Antibiotics is a subject I've already approached HERE. In brief, antibiotics can save human lives but definitely kill gut microbial lives so overuse is not recommended.

Sanitation is a thing of our generation whereby we absolutely want to get rid of all species on our bodies. But do we really? Too much soap, alcohol, and skin lotions are affecting our skin microbiota, which has been shown to enable bad bacteria to prosper (HERE).

Emotional being

Ever had a gut feeling about something? Ever wondered why we say GUT feeling? Scientists now believe that our microbiota has a major impact on our emotional well-being through the brain-gut axis (HERE). The brain-gut axis is the two-way information highway between our brain and our gut.
Moreover a recently aired TV documentary explained that in all situations, wearing a smile when you feel sad can make you feel better and change your brain signals.
My tips are then to smile, laugh when you can, reduce your daily stress, and accumulate all the beauty sleep you can get.

Maternal influence

Not much we can do about this but certainly you hope your mum had the opportunity to breastfeed you when you were a baby as breast milk is especially conceived to include both pre- and probiotics. And although you don't really have a choice on whether you were born naturally or by C-section, being born naturally and colonized by mum's best microbial starter pack puts you at an advantage in terms of lowered risk of developing diseases compared with C-section babies.
I've already written about this, you can find these articles HERE, HERE, and HERE.

I hope you enjoyed my ultimate guide,

What do you think would be easier to start with? Exercise, diet?
Let me know in the comment section, I'd love to read your stories.

See you next Monday!

2 May 2016

What is the Human Microbiome?

This is the most comprehensive video I've watched so far that explains what microbiota and microbiome are and how, us humans, benefit from them. 

Please watch, it's amazing, and fun

I wish you all a very good week, see you next Monday for MBAI next article!

My bugs and I Published @ 2014 by Ipietoon