CLL Support Association
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It's all connected - Gut, Inflammation, the Immune System, and the Stress Response

It's all connected - Gut, Inflammation, the Immune System, and the Stress Response

"Human beings have a “symbiotic relationship” with gut microbiota. We provide them with a habitat and nutrition, while they confer beneficial effects on a wide range of domains, including the immune, gastrointestinal, endocrine, and neurological systems. They perform vital functions, such as food processing, digestion of complex indigestible polysaccharides, synthesis of vitamins, and inhibition of pathogens." says Batya Swift Yasgur MA, LMSW, a psychotherapist and freelance writer.

“In the past decade, significant progress has been made in recognizing the importance of gut microbiota in brain function,” Jane Foster, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada, told Psychiatry Advisor.

“Recent clinical and preclinical studies are demonstrating that gut microbiota play a central role in contributing to normal, healthy homeostasis, and that their disruption contributes to risk of mood and other [central nervous system] disorders.”

Not specifically CLL related, but given the effect of CLL on our immune system and inflammation along with our greater likelihood of needing antibiotics assist us to fight infections, not to mention the impact of treatment on our gut, this is something we should keep in mind. More in Psychiatry and the Gut: The Role of Microbiota in Mood Disorders

The comment: "Some groups are calling for inclusion of probiotic-containing foods into global food guidelines" may also concern us, particularly those of us that are neutropenic. Some day we might have to take more notice of food ingredients.


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I like this part, "Probiotics are helpful not only following antibiotic treatment, but as a generally health-producing intervention that might offset Western diet's assaults on the microbiome. Some groups are calling for inclusion of probiotic-containing foods into global food guidelines."

You may like to read this too: Probiotics: One of The Most Important Supplements You Can Take. Controversial but well worth reading (I think)


We need to be cautious about the use of Probiotics. Check with your specialist particularly if you are neutropenic. Here are a few previous posts on probiotics and CLL:

Scant evidence for claims on the benefits of probiotics and prebiotics

Probiotics for CLL patients

Probiotic Safety and Risk Factors

The efficacy and safety of probiotics in people with cancer: a systematic review


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Hi Neil and everyone,

On this topic, I recently visited a functional health doctor in my area. I had never heard of functional medicine until my CLL diagnosis and related google searching. Anyway it's an area of medicine that's big in the U.S. and I think maybe Australia too?, it's only new to Irish shores. The idea is that the doctor (western medicine doctor who has trained in functional medicine) treats chronic illnesses, reviewing the body as a whole rather than in its many specialized parts. The first step is that loads of tests are done - tests which, at least here anyway, aren't done by other med practitioners (the samples are sent off to labs in the UK and U.S.). One of the many tests is on gut flora. Mine came back with evidence of lots of "bad" bacteria in the stomach, as well as lots of other things to work on such as hormone tests (more detailed than the traditional ones) vitamin levels etc. as a result I've been prescribed some biotics and other things I've never heard of!, to improve gut absorption and get rid of the nasties.

Might be worth investigating for anyone who is interested in the way of thinking highlighted by Neil.

Have a good day folks

Firefly x


I hope that investment works for you Firefly. I'm sure many in this community would like to know how you go, given the record number of notifications I've already received of members following this post.

In an ideal world, we'd have access to specialists in specific diseases (i.e. CLL in our case) that also had a good grounding in the interconnectedness of our body processes. Given the overwhelming complexity of the human body, we seem to have ended up with specialists knowing their speciality in depth, but lacking more than a basic medical knowledge in other specialities. Hence the importance to us of having our specialists working with each other and with our GP. Some of us seem to be able to achieve that, but often it seems all too hard.

I'd want my specialist to review the recommendations from a functional health doctor unless that doctor had excellent knowledge of CLL. Given the lack of knowledge about CLL many of our GPs exhibit, I'd wonder whether a functional medicine doctor would be any different.



Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. Here in U.S., as you mentioned many believe in holistic approaches to medicine as well as conventional methods. I have many friends and some family members who always choose the first route. I personally believe in both. I think it worths investigating in some cases.


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