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HerbSprout Microbiome Blog -


Herbsprout is a webblog dedicated to sharing information about the health benefits of herbs, healthcare innovations, and our gut microbiome. Herbsprout seeks to bridge the vast chasm dividing modern medicine's hard sciences and alternative medicine.

"Keystone Species" - Like the Wolves of Yellowstone Park

"Keystone Species" - Like the...
Isolating Key Bacterial Strains

Thanks in large part to innovative entrepreneurs, microbial influences on our health is reaching new heights. What this means scientifically is that research is showing more than just propensities and patterns. It is able to isolate strains using Ai, specific strains of bacteria that directly affect the neuro-degeneration of MS (multiple sclerosis) patients as one example of many.

Scientists refer to Bacteroides fragilis and Bacteroides stercosis as “keystone species” of the human gut microbiome. Though not abundant, they heavily influence the structure of microbial communities. It may be premature to say, but research points toward these gut microbiome as contributing to one's individuality.

Faecalibacterium prausnitzii might be another keystone species as a gut anti-inflammatory. Rather than “bad” microbes prompting Crohn's disease, for example, a single “good” microbe plays a key role in preventing the disease. Harry Sokol, a gastroenterologist at Saint Antoine Hospital in Paris, found that if he transferred F. prausnitzii in mice, it protected them against experimentally induced intestinal inflammation. "And when he subsequently mixed F. prausnitzii with human immune cells in a test tube, he noted a strong anti-inflammatory response," according to the Scientific American report (see ).

Another “keystone species” microbe worth mentioning that resides in the human gut is the ruminococcus bromii. It is a dominant member of the suite of human gut microbiome that triggers energy and digestion of resistant starches by breaking down and releasing enzymes from these starches that we consume. The ruminococcus bromii primarily reside in the colon.

The function of these "keystone" species enable the proper functioning of other downline microbial activity, much in the same way that the presence of wolves in Yellowstone Park is a keystone species to maintain a balance in the park’s ecosystem.
#health #gutmicrobiome #bacteria #healthinnovation #datascience #ai #artificialintelligence #machinelearning #mindbody #healthtech

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Health Tech Startups Reach Unicorn, Other Milestones; UCSD Funding

$1 billion companies ride the p... $1 billion companies ride the popularity of health care innovations.
Venture funded food app companies such as 23andme started out as a genetics ancestry DNA health kit seller and recently expanded or pivoted to include offering meals based on your gut microbiome. Wired Magazine reported in its March 2019 issue (page 13) about the “Green Giants“, the first unicorn food platforms, SweetGarden and Joe and the Juice.

These companies are a sign that the VC and investment community are taking the emerging health tech market seriously. Livongo and Health Catalyst are two notable health tech companies who had successful IPOs in July 2019. Livongo is a platform that helps people manage their diabetes. Health Catalyst is a health data research company.

While health tech companies have trended toward two key tech related research areas – genomics (e.g., Illumina, Helix, LAM Therapeutics) and microbiome gut research (e.g., Finch Therapeutics, Second Genome, Gingko Bioworks, and Viome) – there remains a high demand for tracking and implementing those and other trends.

Health entrepreneurs can lay the groundwork for successful runs by teaming up with the world’s leading health research institutions to incubate and provide for the ongoing breakthroughs and innovations happening in the industry. Fiscal year ending June 30, 2019, UC San Diego pulled in $1.35 billion in research contracts and grants, breaking funding records according to October 07, 2019 article by the San Diego Tribune (see Microbiome research was key to its success, according to the Tribune article quoting Dr. David Brenner, UCSD’s vice chancellor for health sciences. The hiring of world leading microbiome expert Rob Knight four years ago suggests UCSD aims to become a world leader in microbiome research and appears well on its way.
#microbiomeresearch #healthtech #healthstartups #funding #healthinnovation #datascience #unicorncompany

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Japanese Health Care Offers Private Sector Options & Coverage for Herbal Remedies.

Japanese private insurance c... Japanese private insurance companies cover eastern medicine.
Japanese traditional medicine (Kampo medicine) has a long historical development in Japan that dates back more than 1500 years, and even further back in China. Kampo is similar to India's Ayurveda in its integrative approach that a balance of the human body and mind, mental and physical, are critical to our health. Today, Kampo medicine has been revived accompanied by a scientific reevaluation relevant to modern health care. Kampo medical treatments include chiropractic, aromatherapy, homeopathy, health spa therapy, Ayurveda, hypnosis, flower therapy, thalassotherapy, herb therapy, qigong, yoga, dietary therapy, imagery, meditation, art therapy and prayer (See NIH article, This article references a survey of 1,000 Japanese residents and their percentage use of CAM (alternative medicine), such as Kampo: nutritional and tonic drinks, 43.1%; dietary supplements, 43.1%; health-related appliances, 21.5%; herbs or over-the-counter Kampo, 17.2%; massage or acupressure, 14.8%; ethical Kampo (Kampo prescribed by medical doctors), 10.0%; aromatherapy, 9.3%; chiropractic or osteopathy, 7.1%; acupuncture and moxibustion, 6.7%; homeopathy, 0.3%; other therapies, 6.5%.


In Japan, Agaricus blazei Murill is the most popular product. Many cancer patients take this mushroom. This medicinal mushroom contains special types of polysaccharides known as beta glucans which stimulate the activity of natural killer cells that are vital to the immune system. These polysaccharides are believed to be among the most potent polysaccharides for immune health. Beer yeast, Propolis, cereals, banaba, Japanese plum, Chlorella, barley verdure, vegetable juice, collagen, royal jelly and mulberry are also taken. Dong quai is an ingredient covered by Kampo. The ingredients of dong quai are coumarins, essential oils, ferulic acids, psoralens, and vitamin B12 and folinic acid, the active form of folic acid. Shakuyakukanzoto was the most frequently prescribed Kampo drug, known to relieve muscle pain and maintain healthy blood flow. It consists of peony root and licorice extract.

USA dietary supplements which are not covered by American health insurance include Gingko Biloba, Echinacea, Garlic, Ginseng, Soybean, Saw Palmetto, St John's Wort, Valerian, Black Cohosh, Milk Thistle, Evening Primrose, Grape Seed Extract, Bilberry, Green Tea, Pycnogenol, Ginger, Feverfew and Dong quai, amongst others.


Though published so along ago, I was cleaning out the basement storage the other day, and came upon my only printed copy "Japanese Health Care for Elderly" which was published by US-Japan Foundation and National Conference of State Legislatures. I couldn’t find it anywhere. It has been referenced on a number of library websites, but no copy. I realized my co-author Dr. Bill Steslicke and I may have the only copies, along with a few die hard former legislators around the country, so here is a Word doc version. Noteworthy- 1) certain Japanese companies may form their own in-house HMO-style coverage and provisioning. 2) Japanese insurance covers eastern medicine, Kampo medicine described above, including but not limited to herbal remedies and acupuncture.

Here is a downloadable word doc copy of the original publication:
#acupuncture #japanesehealthcare #elderlycare #seniorhealthcare #herbs #plantnutrition #health #spices #diet #gutmicrobiome #bacteria #healthinnovation #datascience #ai #artificialintelligence #machinelearning #mindbody #healthtech

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Microbiome cure for cancer?

A February 2019 "Abstract B136: Optimized messenger RNA immunolipoplexes for cancer immunotherapy: Balancing immunogenicity and adjuvancy" found incredible gut research breakthroughs in understanding potential remedies for cancer. In a September 06, 2017 article covering the International Cancer Immunotherapy Conference: Translating Science into Survival (held September 6-9, 2017), Dr. G. Lezzi at the University of Basel, Switzerland, found that certain gut bacteria promotes the presence of certain immune system T-cells in a colon cancer tumor which prolongs survival in patients.

See report,

Treating Lymphoma & Melanoma with mRNA

The vaccine potential of mRNA lipid nanoparticles was evaluated by performing studies after delivery in mice. The preclinical antitumor efficacy was assessed in a lymphoma (EG7-OVA) and melanoma (B16-OVA ) model. In addition to evaluating overall survival, experiments were performed where tumors were isolated after immunization and screened for effector responses (e.g., antigen-specific CD8+ T-cells and NK cells) and suppressive mechanisms that could impact the positive outcome.

To tackle adaptive resistance to activated T-cells, the study evaluated a combinatory therapy of the mRNA vaccine with anti-PDL1 antibodies (8). Upon injection in mice, these particles are mainly detected within APCs (macrophages and dendritic cells) in lungs and spleen. This resulted in high mRNA expression as well as functional activation of the particle-loaded immune cells, marked by cytokine production of IL-12p70 and IFN-γ. The study was able to optimize combinations of therapeutic nanoparticles with modified mRNA, which resulted in 6 to 7 times higher numbers of tumor-infiltrating antigen-specific T-cells compared to unmodified mRNA particles. This resulted in a 2- to 3-fold increase in intratumoral NK cells, compared to untreated mice.

These mice exhibited reduced immune suppression at the tumor site. It resulted in clear synergistic antitumor effects between the mRNA nanoparticles and anti-PDL1 checkpoint blocking antibodies.

The study developed a flexible and versatile mRNA nanoparticle platform that effectively initiates immunity by targeting and activating immune cells!. Combining immune-silent mRNA with immune-therapy evokes a safe effective immune response.

See '"Abstract B136: Optimized messenger RNA immunolipoplexes for cancer immunotherapy: Balancing immunogenicity and adjuvancy", by
Rein Verbeke, Ine Lentacker, Karine Breckpot, Serge Van Calenbergh, Stefaan C. De Smedt and Heleen Dewitte, February 2019;

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Chamomile from the Daisy family

Chamomile from the Daisy family
Chamomile's daisy-like flowers contain volatile oils (including bisabolol, bisabolol oxides A and B, and matricin) and flavonoids (particularly a compound called apigenin) which are anti- allergenic and help with relief of cold symptoms and asthma. Chamomile is also anti-inflammatory and aids in alleviating colds and stomach ailments.

The common applications for chamomile include chamomile tea or essential oils, which aid in relaxation. It acts as a mild sedative and muscle relaxant.
Further information provided by Integrative Medicine and published by Science Direct is available at

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Herbs that support "the happy chemical", microbiome health

Herbs that support "the happy...
Scientists have found that differences in a person’s gut can be a clue to our specific health propensities, to cancers, but also something as immediate as our daily mood, behaviors, even happiness. For example, 90% of the well-known serotonin neurotransmitter is made in the body’s digestive tract, according to a 2015 report by CalTech (“Microbes Help Produce Serotonin in Gut”, April 09, 2015). Serotonin is the chemical often referred to as the “happy chemical” and the balance of serotonin in our body influences our mood. A deficiency of serotonin can lead to depression.

Before getting into the research, what herbs support "healthy happy chemicals"? Herbs that help boost serotonin levels include oatstraw, which is loaded with B vitamins, and the roots of angelica, burdock, dandelion, ginseng, wild yam and black cohosh. There are lots of natural supplements containing these herbs and foods that you can buy online. You can also find supplements that contain L-tryptophan that supports serotonin synthesis, and vitamin B3 (magnesium glycenate) which helps metabolize fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Basil contains serotonin boosting eugenol and rosmarinic acid.

As mentioned, there is growing evidence that the microbiome in our gut contribute not only to various body and brain diseases, but also to our mood and behavior relevant to many psychiatric and neurological disorders (Microbiome Journal, August 25, 2017). In particular, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that manipulation of the gut microbiome modulates anxiety-like behaviours, and our response to fear. The neural circuits that underlie anxiety- and fear-related behaviours are complex and heavily depend on functional communication between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex (PFC). Research at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) found a link between our stomach and a region of our brain that regulates mood and behavior, according’s Robin Andrews (Source: “Our Gut Microbes Strongly Influence Our Emotional Behaviors,” IFL Science, July 4, 2017). The UCLA study was the first to link this connection within humans, based on the study of 40 healthy woman showing “brain-gut-microbial interactions in healthy humans”, according to the American Psychosomatic Society, affecting their mood and behaviors. Likewise, the Microbiome Journal reports that “transcriptional networks within the amygdala and PFC of Germ-Free mice are altered. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) act through translational repression to control gene translation and have been implicated in anxiety-like behaviours.” (See Microbiome Journal, August 25, 2017).

These results suggest that the microbiome is necessary for appropriate regulation of miRNA expression in brain regions implicated in anxiety-like behaviours.
#herbs #herbalmedicine #plantnutrition #health #sertonin #thehappychemical #neurotransmitters #spices #diet #gutmicrobiome #bacteria #healthinnovation #datascience #ai #artificialintelligence #machinelearning #mindbody #healthtech

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A “Tsunami” of Ai is Coming to Health Care

1. Describe - handcrafted, rul... 1. Describe - handcrafted, rule based, symbolic knowledge.
2. Categorize - deep neural network, statistical learning.
3. Explain - contextual adaption, perceived learning and reasoning.
Serial entrepreneur and Viome CEO Naveen Jain believes there is a big wave of Ai coming to the health sector. “There is a tsunami that's coming," he told CNBC in a TV interview from the Slush technology conference in Helsinki, Finland (December 01, 2017). Jain partly attributes this tsunami to the huge demand for sensors that are driving down the prices, making Ai technology more available to the masses. "The sensors are becoming so cheap. For the first time in our lifetime, we can look deep inside our body (using sensors) to know exactly what is going on," he told CNBC. Jain believes food could become the "next drug," eliminating the need for traditional medicine.

On October 01, 2019, his company Viome was given a highly coveted endorsement in the form of research published about "A Robust Metatranscriptomic Technology for Population-Scale Studies of Diet, Gut Microbiome, and Human Health" in the International Journal of Genomics (Volume 2019, Article ID 171874 about Viome Inc., Los Alamos, NM 87544, USA). The report states that "Humans have co-evolved with the microbiome and have become dependent on its biochemical output, such as certain vitamins and short-chain fatty acids". (see full report, ).


The report explains in detail the chasm of difference between the 16S r RNA and metatranscriptomic sequencing.

16S rRNA gene sequencing tracks a small portion of the prokaryotic 16S ribosomal RNA gen, but does not measure the biochemical functions of the microorganisms or distinguish living from dead organisms. It also excludes some bacteria, most archaea, and all eukaryotic organisms and viruses, resulting in a limited view of the gut microbiome ecosystem, according to the October 1 report.

Metatranscriptomic analysis (metatranscriptomics, RNA sequencing, and RNAseq) offers insights into what the gut microbiome are actually doing and why and how they are doing it. Viomega can make classifications based on a database of 110,000 microbial genomes, and quantitative microbial gene expression analysis using a database of 100 million microbial genes. "The biochemical activities of the gut microbiome by quantifying expression levels of active microbial genes, allowing for the assessment of pathway activities, while also providing strain-level taxonomic resolution for all metabolically active organisms and viruses," says the report. Viome's Viomega now makes this process affordable as well for the first time.

Naveen Jain founded Viome in 2016, a leading personalized microbiome gut sequencing technology company that uses deep machine learning and data science to offer optimal health care solutions for its customers. One of Jain’s “Moonshot” goals is to “truly make illness optional.” To do so, we must “think like the future has already arrived.”

Health care is one of those key global challenges facing this generation. The wholistic approach to wellness that has prevailed for centuries in Asia is being explored in a much broader scale with advanced Ai (artificial intelligence), data science, and other technology by the scientific communities in the U.S. and elsewhere that were not available to previous generations.

What Jain and his team at Viome are using Ai to discover a deeper and more detailed understanding of the mind and body. "Ai is going to play the biggest role because there is so much more data that no humans can ever process," he said.
#gutmicrobiome #bacteria #healthinnovation #datascience #ai #artificialintelligence #machinelearning #mindbody #healthtech

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Ayurveda's "person-centric", non-standardized approach to health

Ayurvedic health is a 3,000 he... Ayurvedic health is a 3,000 hear old holistic approach to an individual's personal health from India based on the three

Doshas: Vata (air, ether), Pitta (fire), and Kapha (water, earth).
How is Ayurvedic health different from the other approaches to health care? The modern scientific approach has been focused on standardization and applying solutions that work for the majority of people, such as if you get sick, you take this particular medicine and you will be healed of the ailment.

Ayurveda on the other hand, is person-centered vs. pathology-centered. It takes the approach that respects and considers the uniqueness of each individual in applying health care solutions. Ayurveda works with all levels of the person, the physical, mental, and spiritual, and both internal (microcosm) and external factors (macrocosm).

It believes each individual must take responsibility for their own health with a preventive, natural approach to addressing our symptoms and health issues.
#herbs #herbalmedicine #plantnutrition #ayurveda #doshas #health #spices #diet #gutmicrobiome #bacteria #healthinnovation #datascience #ai #artificialintelligence #machinelearning #mindbody #healthtech

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Microbiome's connection to autism

Microbiome's connection to aut...
Research is being administered about the influence of gut microbiomes on everything from autism, multiple sclerosis, PTSD, Parkinson’s Disease and brain health to cancer, depression, obesity, diabetes and weight loss. It has become widespread as major research institutions and universities are conducting studies on the subject.

An article in The Guardian, “Gut bacteria regulate nerve fibre insulation” (Mo Costandi, April 05, 2016) claims that “alterations in our gut bacteria composition may be connected to a wide range of neurological and psychiatric conditions, including autism, chronic pain, depression, and Parkinson’s Disease.” Psychosomatic Medicine reported that “various factors play a role (in PTSD), including a lack of social support and low levels of the neurotransmitter neuropeptide Y (see British Psychological Society blog, November 22, 2017).

Research on mice in early 2019 done by MIT and the University of Massachusetts Medical School found similar impacts of identifiable microbial strains. Researchers found that the gut microbiome composition of the mother’s gut can influence whether maternal infection leads to autistic-like behaviors in offspring. They also discovered the specific brain changes that produce these behaviors. The same MIT report also referenced a 2010 study where all children born in Denmark between 1980 and 2005 found that severe viral infections during the first trimester of their mother’s pregnancy led to risk for autism by three times.

In a 2016 Science paper, Drs. Gloria Choi and her husband Jun Huh found that types of immune cells known as Th17 cells, and their effector molecule, called IL-17, are responsible for this effect in mice. IL-17 then interacts with receptors found on brain cells in the developing fetus, leading to irregularities that the researchers call “patches” in certain parts of the cortex known as the somatosensory cortex. When the researchers restored normal levels of brain activity in this area of the brain, they were able to reverse the behavioral abnormalities. They were also able to induce the behaviors in otherwise normal mice by over stimulating neurons in the somatosensory cortex.
#Braindiseases #microbiomes #autism #effectormolecules #molecules #neurotransmitters

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Will gut bacteria replace drugs as medicine?

In a paper published Wednesday, August 28, 2019 in the journal Nature, scientists found that certain bacteria molecules can interact with protein receptors in mice, receptors which humans also have. The specific receptors found by microbiologist Sean Brady and his team at Rockefeller University, made the connection that certain gut bacteria are making molecules that improve glucose regulation in mice, a key step toward harnessing molecules to treat illness.

In Brady's study, signaling molecule in the bacteria known as N-acyl amides are involved in signaling pathways, helping the body regulate itself. Knowing this could enable us to use microbes to not only address symptoms as so much of modern medicine does, but apply healthy microbes to treat the source of an illness.

See Popular Science article,

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