Is Mental Illness Caused by Your Immune System?

Inflammation and other immune processes have increasingly been linked to psychiatric diseases. In fact, studies have already shown increased levels of antibodies to bovine milk casein in some individuals with schizophrenia. A pair of new studies examined this connection. One looked at whether people with different neuropsychiatric disorders might have different types of milk sensitivities, and another tested whether antibodies to bovine milk caseins were associated with bipolar disorder.

The results suggests that such mental disorders could in many cases be connected to casein-related immune activation.

Guest Commentary by Dr. Lawrence B. Palevsky:

While the authors conclude one of these studies with the suggestion that clinical trials of dietary modifications in individuals with neuropsychiatric disorders could be helpful, based on their recognition of the presence of elevated anti-bovine casein IgG immune responses in these patients, I don't believe we need to look too far to understand a possible etiology of these disorders, and the implications for further research and policy changes.

I agree it is a top priority to develop good strategies to help treat these patients, but it's also a top priority to look at how we might be contributing to the development of these disorders in those yet-to-be identified vulnerable patients, however uncomfortable it might be.

Here is a verbatim quote from the Infanrix (DTaP) vaccine package insert under heading number 11 DESCRIPTION:

The diphtheria toxin is produced by growing Corynebacterium diphtheriae in Fenton medium containing a bovine extract. Tetanus toxin is produced by growing Clostridium tetani in a modified Latham medium derived from bovine casein.

Here is a verbatim quote from the Pediarix (DTaP, Hepatitis B, Polio) vaccine package insert under DESCRIPTION:

The diphtheria toxoid, tetanus toxoid, and pertussis antigens are the same as those in INFANRIX®Children are given a DTaP vaccine in 6 doses in the first 11 years of their lives (2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 18-21 months, 4-6 years, 11 years).

Here is a verbatim quote from the Tetanus Toxoid vaccine package insert under DESCRIPTION:

Clostridium tetani culture is grown in a peptone-based medium containing an extract of bovine muscle tissue and detoxified with formaldehyde.

(Bovine casein is a protein that can easily be part of bovine muscle tissue which gets incorporated into the final vaccine product. We just don't know).

Here is a verbatim quote from the Diphtheria Toxoid vaccine package insert under DESCRIPTION:

Clostridium tetani cultures are grown in a peptone-based medium containing bovine extract.

(Again, it's possible that casein can be present as a protein in the bovine extract which makes its way into the final vaccine product. We just don't know).

Standard medical policy recommends that adults receive a tetanus vaccine every 10 years, and every 5 years if there has been an intercurrent laceration, injury, or burn to the skin.

We learn early on in medical school immunology class that the injection of proteins through the skin into the deeper parts of the body causes the body's immune system to see these proteins as foreign. What happens next is the beginning of a cascade of immune reactions that leads to an immune response against these proteins, which is not just limited to the production of antibodies.

With our vaccine policies, we potentially inject the casein molecule into children and adults on a regular basis, along with vaccine adjuvants that incite the body's immune system that creates an immune response against any or all vaccine contents.

Yet, in the vaccine literature, we never see studies from the manufacturers measuring IgG antibodies against any of the residual materials in the vaccines other than of the bacteria or viruses that we vaccinate against. We certainly don't see any studies measuring IgE levels either.

It's important to remember that IgE or IgG antibody production is not the only immune response that could be produced by the immune system once foreign proteins are injected. This thought leaves us completely ignorant to all the possible immune reactions that could occur in the body, beyond antibody production, after foreign proteins are injected through vaccines.

How many of these possible immune reactions could be detrimental to the integrity of our bodies, remains unknown.

It's feasible to consider that the casein molecule is present in the final pediatric and adult vaccines that come to market. It's also likely that once casein is injected into the body, it becomes identified by the immune system as an enemy. Should this happen in a subset of patients, their immune systems will begin mounting a continuous immune response against any casein molecule that is incorporated into the cells of the body.

With the bombardment of dairy products in our diets, we are introducing a continuous infusion of casein molecules into the blood stream, and into the cells of our bodies. The body's immune system has no reason to reject the incorporated dietary casein molecule in our cells, unless it has been "taught" to see this molecule as foreign.

In those patients whose immune systems have mounted an IgG immune response against the vaccine casein protein, beyond a threshold by which their immune systems can contain this immune reaction, they are going to express this immune reaction through the development of clinical symptoms; clinical symptoms that mirror the onset of what amounts to an autoimmune reaction.

In these studies, these clinical symptoms have been categorized as part of the neuropsychiatric conditions. In patients who have elevated IgG immune responses against casein, and express their clinical symptoms in body sites other than what the authors report, there's no telling what other types of neuro-developmental, or other organ system chronic inflammatory conditions we are creating, as a result of the injection of the foreign casein protein. After all, each person has a different body site susceptibility regarding where they might express their symptoms.

There is increasing scientific evidence that suggests a relationship between elevated serum IgG antibodies to dietary proteins and the worsening of symptoms in patients with chronic inflammatory conditions. Previously, we were only taught that IgE antibody reactions were responsible for contributing to allergic/inflammatory symptoms in children and adults. More and more research and clinical experience, however, are showing how patients with elevated IgG antibodies to many dietary proteins are clinically improving their chronic inflammatory symptoms associated with varying clinical conditions, with the removal of these proteins from their diets.

We should be considerably concerned with the new AAP policy that states it is safe to give the chicken egg protein containing MMR and influenza vaccines to children with documented egg allergies, as long as their allergies are not known to be anaphylactic responses. As we are learning, allergy/inflammatory reactions leading to clinical symptoms do not only stem from IgE reactions.

The hard part is looking at what might be creating these elevated IgG antibodies in the first place. We know vaccines contain casein, as well as soy, corn, peanuts and egg proteins. How many children and adults develop all sorts of chronic autoimmune or inflammatory conditions in response to the injection, and subsequent ingestion, of these proteins?

I wonder, with the number of people in this country with celiac disease (1 in 100) and the many more with gluten intolerance who test negative for celiac disease, if gluten may be present in the medias used in the vaccine manufacturing process, as well. Good questions to ask, and important research to do.

What are we to do about it? The Hippocratic Oath taught us in the medical profession to "first do no harm." The precautionary principle "states that if an action or a policy has a risk of causing harm to the public or the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is NOT harmful falls on those taking the action." It is time to invoke the Hippocratic Oath and the Precautionary Principle.

We need to be making the vaccine manufacturers, and the authorities who claim that vaccine safety has been fully evaluated, more accountable for the safety and efficacy of vaccines, and for the rationale of vaccine policies. These types of published studies make the timeline for standing up much more imminent.

In an article titled Vaccine Strategies in the 21st Century, in Immunology and Cell Biology Journal, May/June/July 2009, the authors state:

"... vaccines are one of the most effective methods of controlling infectious disease. Although vaccination has been used for centuries, the technologies are largely empirical with little understanding of the underlying immunological principles and physiological mechanisms. As researchers gain knowledge of these principles and regulatory authorities become more stringent in their requirements, changes in empirical approaches have become necessary; rational vaccine design is now essential. The articles in this special feature introduce research on a new generation of vaccines which are logically designed and evaluated. Of particular interest is a new wave of vaccines that induce CD8+ T cell responses -- in contrast to the traditional mechanism of eliciting a protective antibody response -- and how they may be used therapeutically ..."

It is time we realized that we may be doing more harm than good with the use of injected materials in the name of building health and protection from disease. All we have to do is look at the studies showing the exponential rise in pediatric and adult allergies, and the increasing number of cases of chronic autoimmune and inflammatory conditions, to understand that we have a bigger problem on our hands that needs more attention than just finding better ways to treat these patients who develop these illnesses.