Author Archives: Bipolar1Blog

Drinking baking soda could be an inexpensive, safe way to combat autoimmune disease

Very interesting, simply drinking baking soda (no dose was given) can decrease the inflammatory response and increase the anti inflammatory response in spleens of people and rats!


April 25, 2018


Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University


A daily dose of baking soda may help reduce the destructive inflammation of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, scientists say. They have some of the first evidence of how the cheap, over-the-counter antacid can encourage our spleen to promote instead an anti-inflammatory environment that could be therapeutic in the face of inflammatory disease, scientists report.



Pictured is Dr. Paul O’Connor, renal physiologist in the lab at the Medical College of Georgia Department of Physiology at Augusta University.

Credit: Phil Jones, Senior Photographer, Augusta University

A daily dose of baking soda may help reduce the destructive inflammation of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, scientists say.

They have some of the first evidence of how the cheap, over-the-counter antacid can encourage our spleen to promote instead an anti-inflammatory environment that could be therapeutic in the face of inflammatory disease, Medical College of Georgia scientists report in the Journal of Immunology.

They have shown that when rats or healthy people drink a solution of baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, it becomes a trigger for the stomach to make more acid to digest the next meal and for little-studied mesothelial cells sitting on the spleen to tell the fist-sized organ that there’s no need to mount a protective immune response.

“It’s most likely a hamburger not a bacterial infection,” is basically the message, says Dr. Paul O’Connor, renal physiologist in the MCG Department of Physiology at Augusta University and the study’s corresponding author.

Mesothelial cells line body cavities, like the one that contains our digestive tract, and they also cover the exterior of our organs to quite literally keep them from rubbing together. About a decade ago, it was found that these cells also provide another level of protection. They have little fingers, called microvilli, that sense the environment, and warn the organs they cover that there is an invader and an immune response is needed.

Drinking baking soda, the MCG scientists think, tells the spleen — which is part of the immune system, acts like a big blood filter and is where some white blood cells, like macrophages, are stored — to go easy on the immune response. “Certainly drinking bicarbonate affects the spleen and we think it’s through the mesothelial cells,” O’Connor says.

The conversation, which occurs with the help of the chemical messenger acetylcholine, appears to promote a landscape that shifts against inflammation, they report.

In the spleen, as well as the blood and kidneys, they found after drinking water with baking soda for two weeks, the population of immune cells called macrophages, shifted from primarily those that promote inflammation, called M1, to those that reduce it, called M2. Macrophages, perhaps best known for their ability to consume garbage in the body like debris from injured or dead cells, are early arrivers to a call for an immune response.

In the case of the lab animals, the problems were hypertension and chronic kidney disease, problems which got O’Connor’s lab thinking about baking soda.

One of the many functions of the kidneys is balancing important compounds like acid, potassium and sodium. With kidney disease, there is impaired kidney function and one of the resulting problems can be that the blood becomes too acidic, O’Connor says. Significant consequences can include increased risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

“It sets the whole system up to fail basically,” O’Connor says. Clinical trials have shown that a daily dose of baking soda can not only reduce acidity but actually slow progression of the kidney disease, and it’s now a therapy offered to patients.

“We started thinking, how does baking soda slow progression of kidney disease?” O’Connor says.

That’s when the anti-inflammatory impact began to unfold as they saw reduced numbers of M1s and increased M2s in their kidney disease model after consuming the common compound.

When they looked at a rat model without actual kidney damage, they saw the same response. So the basic scientists worked with the investigators at MCG’s Georgia Prevention Institute to bring in healthy medical students who drank baking soda in a bottle of water and also had a similar response.

“The shift from inflammatory to an anti-inflammatory profile is happening everywhere,” O’Connor says. “We saw it in the kidneys, we saw it in the spleen, now we see it in the peripheral blood.”

The shifting landscape, he says, is likely due to increased conversion of some of the proinflammatory cells to anti-inflammatory ones coupled with actual production of more anti-inflammatory macrophages. The scientists also saw a shift in other immune cell types, like more regulatory T cells, which generally drive down the immune response and help keep the immune system from attacking our own tissues. That anti-inflammatory shift was sustained for at least four hours in humans and three days in rats.

The shift ties back to the mesothelial cells and their conversations with our spleen with the help of acetylcholine. Part of the new information about mesothelial cells is that they are neuron-like, but not neurons O’Connor is quick to clarify.

“We think the cholinergic (acetylcholine) signals that we know mediate this anti-inflammatory response aren’t coming directly from the vagal nerve innervating the spleen, but from the mesothelial cells that form these connections to the spleen,” O’Connor says.

In fact, when they cut the vagal nerve, a big cranial nerve that starts in the brain and reaches into the heart, lungs and gut to help control things like a constant heart rate and food digestion, it did not impact the mesothelial cells’ neuron-like behavior.

The affect, it appears, was more local because just touching the spleen did have an effect.

When they removed or even just moved the spleen, it broke the fragile mesothelial connections and the anti-inflammatory response was lost, O’Connor says. In fact, when they only slightly moved the spleen as might occur in surgery, the previously smooth covering of mesothelial cells became lumpier and changed colors.

“We think this helps explain the cholinergic (acetylcholine) anti-inflammatory response that people have been studying for a long time,” O’Connor says.

Studies are currently underway at other institutions that, much like vagal nerve stimulation for seizures, electrically stimulate the vagal nerve to tamp down the immune response in people with rheumatoid arthritis. While there is no known direct connection between the vagal nerve and the spleen — and O’Connor and his team looked again for one — the treatment also attenuates inflammation and disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis, researchers at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research reported in 2016 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

O’Connor hopes drinking baking soda can one day produce similar results for people with autoimmune disease.

“You are not really turning anything off or on, you are just pushing it toward one side by giving an anti-inflammatory stimulus,” he says, in this case, away from harmful inflammation. “It’s potentially a really safe way to treat inflammatory disease.”

The spleen also got bigger with consuming baking soda, the scientists think because of the anti-inflammatory stimulus it produces. Infection also can increase spleen size and physicians often palpate the spleen when concerned about a big infection.

Other cells besides neurons are known to use the chemical communicator acetylcholine. Baking soda also interact with acidic ingredients like buttermilk and cocoa in cakes and other baked goods to help the batter expand and, along with heat from the oven, to rise. It can also help raise the pH in pools, is found in antacids and can help clean your teeth and tub.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

With bipolar disorder, these are the signs to look out for.

Scientists have developed a ‘mutant’ enzyme that eats plastic (!!!)

This is the best news I’ve heard as far as the environment goes, for a very long time! Maybe our oceans and Mother Earth have a chance after all!

A positive and inspirational quote!

Love, love, love this quote! Just what I needed right now! Hope it helps all my readers as well. 💕💕

In the lab again at the U of L Medical School.

I’m back in the lab that is doing research on Bipolar disorder. Starting out with a literature search on Lithium, Glutamate, the NMDA receptor/s, etc.

Went for a walk during lunch and of course saw many photos waiting to be taken.

Bipolar Disorder Psychopharmacology: Updated Guidelines

In March 2016, the British Association for Psychopharmacology published new bipolar disorder guidelines.

Summary by Flavio Guzman, MD below.

The complete publication is 59 pages long, so I extracted some key points that you may find useful:

• Lithium remains the most effective treatment preventing relapse and admission to hospital in bipolar I disorder (I)

• Lithium prevents relapse to mania and, less effectively, depression (I). The highest dose that produces minimal adverse reactions and effects should be employed.

• Concentrations below 0.6 mmol/L are potentially too low to be fully effective and adverse reactions and effects become important above 0.8 mmol/L.

• Lithium reduces the risk of suicide (I).

• Valproate as monotherapy has limited trial data, is somewhat less effective than lithium in the prevention of relapse.

• Valproate should not usually be considered for women of child-bearing potential (I).

• Carbamazepine as monotherapy is less effective than lithium, has little if any effect on relapse to depression and is liable to interfere with the metabolism of other drugs (I).

• Lamotrigine is effective against depression in long-term treatment (I) and should be considered where depression is the major burden of the illness (IV).

(Esketamine) Nasal Spray for Depression Relief (!!!!)

Wow! It’s true! This works as a rapid treatment for people with imminent suicidal ideation!!!!! This is huge! This can and will save lives!

Nasal Spray for Depression Relief

NEWS   Apr 17, 2018 | Original Story from the American Psychiatric Association

A nasal spray formulation of ketamine shows promise in the rapid treatment of symptoms of major depression and suicidal thoughts, according to a new study published online today in The American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP).

The double-blind study compared the standard treatment plus an intranasal formulation of esketamine, part of the ketamine molecule, to standard treatment plus a placebo for rapid treatment of symptoms of major depression, including suicidality, among individuals at imminent suicide risk. The study involved 68 participants randomly assigned to one of two groups – either receiving esketamine or placebo twice a week for four weeks. All participants continued to receive treatment with antidepressants throughout. The researchers looked at effects at four hours after first treatment, at 24 hours and at 25 days.

The study was conducted by researchers at Janssen Research and Development and Janssen Scientific Affairs, Titusville, N.J., and San Diego, and the Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn. They found a significant improvement in depression scores and decreased suicidal ideation in the esketamine group compared to the placebo group at four hours and at 24 hours. The esketamine effects were not greater than the placebo at 25 days. The measurement of suicide risk took into consideration both the patient’s and clinician’s perspectives.

The results of the study support nasal spray esketamine as a possible effective rapid treatment for depressive symptoms in patients assessed to be at imminent risk for suicide, according to the authors. Esketamine could be an important treatment to bridge the gap that exists because of the delayed effect of most common antidepressants. Most antidepressants take four to six weeks to become fully effective.

This study was a proof-of-concept, phase 2, study for esketamine; it must still go through a phase 3 study before possible FDA approval. It was funded by Janssen Research and Development, LLC.

The authors caution that more research is needed on the potential for abuse of ketamine. That caution is also the focus of an accompanying AJP editorial also published online today. In the editorial, AJP Editor Robert Freedman, M.D., along with members of the AJP Editorial Board, note the known potential for abuse and existing reports of abuse of prescribed ketamine. They discuss the need for additional research relating to the abuse potential of ketamine during phase 3 trials, such as monitoring of patients’ craving and potential ketamine use from other sources.

While it is the responsibility of physicians to provide a suicidal patient with the fullest range of effective interventions, the AJP Editor’s note, “protection of the public’s health is part of our responsibility as well, and as physicians, we are responsible for preventing new drug epidemics.” The Editors suggest the need for broad input in the development of effective controls on the distribution and use of ketamine.

Freedman and colleagues argue that steps to control the use of ketamine would not be aimed at preventing its use for beneficial purposes but would allow for treatment to “continue to be available to those with need, while the population that is at-risk for abuse is protected from an epidemic of misuse.”

This article has been republished from materials provided by American Psychiatric Association. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.

Getting Better!

IMG_1318As my friend Sal pointed out, in order to come out of a depression or a manic phase, you have to seek/get help. And in the case of mental illness, because of the stigma, this requires courage. Well we have this courage.

If you broke your arm, you wouldn’t think twice about going to a doctor to get it repaired. You wouldn’t agonize over what the world will think of you if you admit you have a broken arm. You wouldn’t worry if someone saw the name of your medication, what would they think of you! You would simply march into the doctor’s office and get the treatment you needed.

Well, I know it’s very difficult to know that you are indeed in a depression the first time it hits you, but hopefully with the help of friends, family members, or doctors, when you do realize it is a depression, you don’t worry about the stigma, and go straight to a psychiatrist and get the help you need.

Depression, bipolar d/o, mental illness, is an illness of the brain, so it is a physical illness. And illnesses need to be treated to get better. So if you realize you are in a depression, march yourself to a good psychiatrist and get treatment. You are strong enough and you can get better, you will get better!


Love or Fear

Just been thinking about this, always and forever an ongoing and newly discovered issue for me! Just wanted to share it again.


IMG_0407Yoga, Sufism, Buddhism, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Christ teach about love. All these great philosophies and teachers say there are only two ways to live our lives. One is in fear of everything, the other is in love of everything. I think everyone understands what living in fear means, but not everyone knows what I mean by living in love of everything. So I’ll explain. It’s not just romantic love, although that’s included of course. But what I am talking about here is “out of love.” Your heart is full of love for all beings, and all things. Even when you encounter something “bad,” you act out of the love in your heart. You never say to a child who is unhappy, perhaps needlessly according to you, “If you don’t stop, I’ll really give you something to cry about.” You act with the love in your heart and try…

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Healing TREE

My friend Sarah gave us tickets to go to a function benefiting a nonprofit organization called Healing TREE and I happily went along. There, I saw and heard a very compelling and beautiful young woman, Marissa Ghavami, talking about interpersonal trauma. She, along with her cofounders (see below), had started Healing TREE in order to address this veritable epidemic of trauma. This website offers knowledge and help, support and hope to people who have endured trauma. As a survivor of pretty awful child abuse myself, all this information really hit home with me. And I asked Marissa how I could be of help, and of course this blog came to mind. So here is information about the Healing TREE website, their mission, their resources and their aim to help those who have suffered trauma or are in an ongoing traumatic relationship or situation. I am in fact going to contact one of the professionals listed (from the map on the website) in my area who does EMDR and give that a try.

There is so much information and help here! Please take a look, dear readers, this is a valuable resource in taking steps to learn about and heal the trauma that relationships, or actually in any other situation in life, can inflict upon us. Healing is possible, it can be done and YOU can do it!


Healing TREE is a nonprofit organization and a huge resource for people who have suffered trauma. It was founded by Marissa Ghavami, who is currently the CEO of the organization, and her cofounders Debbie Ghavami and Bruce Hardy PhD. She is an actor as well as an advocate for healing from trauma. Healing TREE’s mission is to transform how society responds to abuse and interpersonal trauma. Healing TREE is an organization that wants to shift the focus from “putting a band aid” on traumatic experiences to healing from them. They promote trauma focused treatment modalities that engage the part of the brain that is involved in surviving trauma (the amygdala, or over activated fight or flight response) thereby healing people on a neurological and emotional/mental level. They address all forms of abuse and interpersonal trauma.

If a person with these issues comes upon this website, it would give them not only resources to get better but so much hope that it is possible to get better from trauma and abuse! There are modalities and therapies that are available to help people suffering from trauma, and the Healing TREE website will match people who are suffering from trauma with helping professionals in their area.

As Ms. Ghavami states: “Leading studies (such as the ACE Study*) show that trauma is nothing less than a public health crisis and that it is the root cause behind so many of the toughest problems our society is faced with, like mental illness, physical illness, addiction, crime, assault, domestic violence, homelessness and suicide. Effective treatments are available, there is just a lack of integration between the trauma, mental health and medical fields and of general knowledge surrounding the issue. Healing Tree exists to change that so that healing from trauma becomes the new normal. With the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, our work has never been more relevant. We want to take the current surge of public awareness around issues of abuse a step further though through the resources, education and empowerment at the heart of our mission. We connect those who have suffered trauma with resources for healing rather than coping, provide education to professionals across fields and the public at large that promotes awareness, effective intervention and cutting edge treatment and offer empowerment through producing arts projects that encourage a healing movement.” 

Below is a powerful new video, a Public Service Announcement on “Trauma Bonding.” It is gut wrenching and gives us the startling and heart breaking revelation that women leave an abusive relationship seven times before being free of it! It also points to resources for people who are stuck in abusive relationships.

Ms. Ghavami states: “The PSA, entitled Bound, was created by Samantha Scaffidi and produced by Voyager Studios LLC in association with SLMBR PRTY. It addresses the question of why people who are, or have been, victims of various forms of abuse often feel a powerful attachment to the people who have abused them. Furthermore, it points towards resources that emphasize trauma’s impact on the brain and promote effective treatment (apart from the typical cognitive approach that doesn’t engage the survival part of the brain that is injured during abuse), which leads to breaking the cycle and finding healing. It is so important that people who are being, or have been, abused see stories that they can relate to and feel empowered to get the help they deserve to heal, free from shame.”


The beautiful bracelet below is a palpable reminder that help is available and people who are in traumatic situations or have been in the past, can BREAK FREE! It can be purchased here to keep the thought and the strength behind it with yourself!


Ms. Ghavami says: “The PSA Bound inspired a “Break Free” bracelet, designed by Ladies of Iron. It is a perfect gift of encouragement or celebration for someone who is considering breaking free from trauma bonding or celebrating a life free from abuse. 50% of the proceeds from these bracelets will be donated directly to Healing TREE to help support their mission. They can be bought here: here:

Below is a video from the Healing TREE website : It is extremely informational and helpful.

*Further reading about the ACE study: