What is our virome, what does it really constitute, and why are some viruses scary while other viruses are actually quite beneficial?
Welcome to the Tuesday webinar series, “Chiropractic Economics Webinar For Doctors of Chiropractic.” I’m Rick Vach, Editor In Chief of Chiropractic Economics. Today’s webinar, “Know Your Virome,” is sponsored by Systemic Formulas. And as always, our program is being recorded and will be archived at Chiropractic Economics website for one year. Our expert is on board here to speak with you. And when his presentation is complete, we’ll follow with the Q&A period. You can submit questions throughout the presentation by clicking on the appropriate icon on the right side of your screen.
Our presenter today is Dr. Shayne Morris. Dr. Morris will be discussing how the human virome, the total collection of viruses in and on the human body impacts both human cells and other microbes such as bacteria. Every human being has a unique virome with a unique balance of species. Dr. Morris, thank you for taking the time to participate in our webinar. Before we get started could you please give us a brief background on yourself and your work with Systemic Formulas?
Dr. Morris: Sure. Yeah, it’s a pleasure. Thank you. We are, of course, a professional line company, and my personal background runs many, many years. Decades, in fact, I’d hate to say how long. But I began this journey in this industry and I call this industry all the natural products and all of the people that provide the clinical help in this world. So you can be an MD, DC, NE, and so on. But on both the production…or the product side, as well as the clinical side, I have many years of experience going back into the ’80s and it began really in the family.
And so we have a lot of my grandfather and other family members all really embrace this industry early on. And, of course, then I pursued more of an academic as well as a pragmatic approach to it and other things. So if I go back, you know, I’ve spent time both on the manufacturing side, the regulatory side, the academia, the research branch. You know, I’m part owner of Systemic. And I have a couple of other research companies one is called Neutral Biome or My Biome. And I just love it. This happens to be my passion and I’m blessed that I can share my passion with everybody else.
I think it’s an awakening for everyone and there’s no more really awakening time than right now when we see that what we can do to our health can transform what happens on the globe on a global scale. And here we are, we’re going to stick up for the small guys, even though some of them are dangerous, known as viruses. And that’s what we’re going to do today.
Rick: Very good. Thank you. This is especially great information in light of what we’re going through right now. So, Dr. Morris, we’ll hand it over to you.
Dr. Morris: Well, great. So it is. It’s true we are in a very, very unprecedented time. There’s no question. And this time I think really sets the stage for what is it about our world and our health that can either undo us or make us stronger. And knowing these little microbes that exist, I don’t think, you know, since maybe the ’90s when HIV became an issue or even earlier outbreaks that have been globally, various viruses, we haven’t really experienced what a virus can do until now. I think at least the generations that, you know, I’m a part of and, you know, above and below me, they have never experienced something like this. This pandemic.
And so because of that, because of this novel and sometimes scary nature of a virus, we need to understand them better. And I want to spend today talking about, what is it that our virome is? What does it really constitute? And why are some of these viruses particularly scary, really scary? Counter to that, are there viruses that are actually quite beneficial? And the answer is, of course, yes. In fact, they’re beneficial in a number of ways. One, we’ll go through the ways in which they train our immune system. Without them, we struggle to…you know, imagine going into a new place without the tools.
Our immune system needs to experience the viruses of the planet to some degree, you know, of course, so that it can understand our environment and the role that the environment plays in the relationship. And how essentially we’re training our immune system like we would our brain by learning and our muscles by exercising. It’s an absolutely mandatory phenomenon that we know more about now than we ever did. And some of that, hopefully, I’ll touch on in a minute. That’s because the tools, we didn’t know a lot about viruses prior to, you know, the most recent decades in the genomics, the metagenomics science that’s so new but yet so powerful.
We didn’t even know what was around us before all this. And hopefully, a lot of the audience has heard of the microbiota or the microbiome projects. That’s helped us really not only in burgeoning science but it’s exploding the information that’s coming in. And then I want to talk about what we can do to manage or to help improve what we consider our relationship with these little guys, these little viruses or these phages, these microbiological elements. It’s critical that we do. And it’s critical that we understand not only how to improve our relationship with the good guys, the good performing organisms, which helps us in times of being exposed to what we would consider pathogenic organisms.
And that’s something I think everybody wants. I think the fear of certain pathogens and how fast they can move around the globe because we’re so connected, we’re way more connected than we used to be. And these things can travel in a month. They can really move. The entire global system has been exposed to one organism, which is quite phenomenal if you think about it. So we need to understand what’s going on a little more. I’m not spending a lot of time on those pathogens. I think there’s so much information out there that you can’t really… There’s no way for me to condense it or distill it down.
So I want to spend way more time on the positive effects of having a virobiota and what that is. You know, the definition and how the role of these viruses can benefit us outside of the few cases. And I certainly don’t want to change how people think that dangerous ones are dangerous. I’m not trying to change that but we have a number of really good ones. And those good ones need to be paid attention to and cultivated in the greater sense of our microbiome. And we’ll touch on that a little bit later.
But we know there is this unknown and the unknown as part of the fear. And in the case of the current issue, we didn’t know anything about this organism and how it spread and what it could do. And, of course, all these models were created and the entire world came to bear on this problem and science and clinics and everybody came to bear in this. We’ve learned a lot, we know so much more. And it also taught us more about our virobiota in general, which is what today’s about.
But in the moment of reality, we don’t always need to be afraid. And that’s one of my messages. Having a healthy respect for pathogens is paramount. There’s no question. But we also want to have a healthy respect for the other players of our microbiota and our immune system. And remember for most of us, and I don’t know if it’s true for the current generations, certainly true in my world, however, when something like the chickenpox became a reality as a child. When you’re a child and your mother or father, whomever said, “Oh, wow, you know, John down the street or Susan has the chickenpox, let’s run you down there and expose you. Let’s get you exposed to the chickenpox. We need to get you ready for the chickenpox. We need to have your body experience it, build the immune system.”
What we call both the innate and adaptive process, which gives you what we would consider immunity. Lifelong immunity. And then, of course, the more people that are exposed, you create what we consider globally is herd immunity. That is something that we rushed into. We wanted our immune system to deal with that through exposure. And I’m not saying run out and get exposed to dangerous viruses. That’s clearly not the message. However, our immune system needs to be exposed to certain viruses and certain what we call phage or bacterial viruses, we’ll get into later, in a time when our immune system is ready for them, when our immune system can handle them.
In fact, when it’s best to be exposed. When you’re young and healthy, the chickenpox is great. If you wait until you’re older and you never were exposed, the chickenpox can be quite dangerous for older individuals. And that’s true for so many viruses. And what little we do know about them, there is some, what we call ancient knowledge that we don’t want to give up. The fact that chickenpox can be a childhood disease, which is relatively safe and it creates this immunity is brilliant. And I think there are other examples of that, not simply that.
And then we have, of course, the human process of getting people exposed through vaccinations and travel and such that. I’ll touch a little bit on that and the implications of that. Although some of that becomes political. I don’t want to get into that but I do want people to understand what it means to have these exposures and what it means for your immune system to be educated. And we evolve differently. We all have our own unique microbiomes, virome, etc. So we want to make sure that we are healthy so that when we exist as a community, as a group, we don’t evolve alone. We evolve along with others, which means that our immunity can be passed on to a degree. And that’s a good policy. Good policy for families and a good policy for communities at large.
So what is our virome and our virobiota? These are terms that you may have heard. If you haven’t, I’m going to define them for you. Human virome is the total collection of genetic material that represents our virobiota. Meaning that you are a collection of genetic material. I could call you, you know, your genetic self. And how I would study that is I would pull the genes out of your cells and I would analyze them and say, “Oh, these genes belong to Shayne. This is Shayne as a genetic collection.” That’s how we discuss the virome.
The actual tissues are the cells. The cells of the human body, Shayne’s cells would be considered the Shayne organism. In the viral world that’s called the virobiota. Those are all of the viruses that inhabit our skin, your genital tracts, our GI tracts, our plants, etc. These are all of the viruses. The virobiota makeup the actual organisms, whereas the virome is the genetic reflection of all those. So why do we need to know that? I mentioned earlier that we can only study these things through genetic testing because it’s so difficult to harvest and grow all these viruses that exist.
In fact, it’s very challenging. It can take many, many years to figure out what viruses are present inside your body. And you’ll see in a later slide, there’s a number and some predictions claim that there are over 1.5 million mammalian or human-based viruses, which is quite staggering if you think about it because we only focus on, you know, a couple of hundred. However, there’s also another group called phages. And these phage viruses populate us every bit as much. It’s actually more so. There’s a whole collection of phage that exists in our body. And you’ll see a little image of them later but these phage are viruses that attack and infect bacteria, the bacteria in your body, your microbiome.
And there’s this dance between the bacteria and the phage that not only dictate how your microbiome evolves and fluctuates but they can actually create problems. If there’s an outbreak of phage that destroys a collection of bacteria, that can lead to dysbiosis. And this is really early science. I want to include them because the phage is a collection of viruses that exist in and among us that really dictate, to a degree, our health as well, and our immune system’s response. Because these phages are clearly monitored by our immune system. So we have to understand them as well. I know it’s a lot, you guys,
The virobiota. So here is a collection of a listed virobiota. I’m not going to delve into this slide in depth. However, I need you to know and realize that if you look at the different systems in our body that have what we consider viruses that either attack those tissues or reside in those tissues, or really interact with those tissues, because remember viruses are not living by the full definition of living. They have to infect another cell in order to reproduce. And that means that they can’t reproduce on their own.
If it’s a phage, it has to infect a bacterium. If it’s a human virus, it has to infect a cell line, one of your cells in order to reproduce. And then from there, it then can leave that cell and move on to infecting new cells or at least living in new cells, whether they become dormant and/or active, what we call active viral loads or viral infections. But just to clarify, if you check this out, we have blood, you know, viruses that tend to inhabit cells found in the blood system, the digestive tract. We have respiratory tract, obviously. And on the second column of that, you can see coronaviridae.
These are Latin names for the entire, not just the species but the genus. And so there’s like bacteria and other scientific Latin naming nomenclature. We size them down. You have, you know, family, filo-families, genus, species. You don’t need to know that in this case, but clinically speaking for those of you, it shows you that not only is there a coronavirus group, under that group there’s a number of different coronaviruses. And SARS-2 happens to be just one of those. And you’ve probably heard now in the news, SARS-1, you’ve heard of MERS, etc.
There’s a number of what we call cold viruses that exist in the coronavirus genus and filo and family. That’s true for all of these lists you see here. There’s many herpesviridae, if you go up to teguments, DNA viruses. Herpesviridae, you all know that there’s many herpes viruses. There are many of all of these parvoviruses in the parvoviridae. What’s another one? We talked about herpes, myoviridae. These are all groupings of viral organisms that, of course, can infect our tissues in a number of ways.
And when you think about the complexity, which we’ll get into a little bit today, I wanted to point out on this slide that not everybody has the same response to every virus. And, for example, if you just take the Epstein-Barr virus and other herpes viruses, we all don’t have the same response to that. But when you run an analysis, if many of you were to run a DNA analysis or an RNA analysis of these different DNA and RNA viruses, you would find the presence by either through the immunological system or through direct metagenomic sequencing. You’d find the presence of many of these viruses in the population.
In fact, most of these, you could get upwards of 95%, maybe up to 99% of the population may have some of these viruses. They’re people having already been exposed or even are carrying these retroviruses. And if that’s the case, why aren’t they always experiencing symptoms? Why do some people experience, you know, mono when other people do not experience mono? It’s because of the way that the immune system then behaves regarding these viruses and how they’re allowed to propagate inflammation and immune response from both DNA and the adaptive immune response.
But it’s curious, and it’s going to continue to be curious, especially as we look at the coronavirus, how we all have a different response. Some of that is linked to the virobiota in general and how your body was prepared for that and how your body has kept up with training its immune system, as well as the virobiota’s robustness. Is it too robust? Is it too thin? And there’s a lot of hypotheses that are being tested out there. So it’s a really fascinating system.
Really quickly. When we look at a virus it’s not a cell. As I mentioned, it has to get into another piece of a living cell to replicate. They can consist of either DNA or RNA core, as you probably know now based on the current coronavirus issues. And this coating, what we call it’s a bi-layer, lipid membrane that’s coated in this envelope, that’s where all the receptor binding sites are. So now we’ve also been, I guess, quickly and thoroughly immersed in the idea of the spike proteins on the corona. That is a good representation of many, many of our viruses, what we call human or mammalian viruses.
They have this coating that has a number of these proteins on the surface that help it bind to specific tissues. HIV is no exception. It has certain binding sites where it can bind and enter a cell. And for the binding phenomenon, there’s many videos on that on YouTube. It’s quite fascinating. I recommend all of you go out and watch some of those because viruses are very, very, very brilliant little organisms and they hijack our entire cell to do what they do. For example, we’re going to back go from a mammalian or human virobiota biology to what we consider more simple. Let’s take a phage virus.
So a phage virus infects a bacterial cell, and they’re much smaller. You get a binding site shown here in the upper left-hand side of your slide. This phage or virus binds to the cell. It then injects its DNA or RNA into the cell. At that point, a number of proteins then are either encoded on that DNA and RNA or come in with that DNA and RNA and they hijack your entire cellular mechanism. Which means they hijack making of new proteins, they hijack making of new DNA and RNA, and so on. So essentially your living cell or the bacterial living cell has now been hijacked by the virus particle. And what its main goal is, is to replicate. So once it’s hijacked you, it starts making millions of itself. So that then it can burst out of that cell and go on and infect new cells.
It’s not always that dramatic. Sometimes they infect a cell and they remain dormant. That harkens back to what I mentioned when we talked about the herpes viruses or the Epstein-Barr, in particular. It can remain dormant and it doesn’t elicit an immune response, nor is it destroying tissue when it’s dormant. So we have a lot of these unique little scenarios that can be born out of these viral organisms and we need to know each and every one of those. And as science researchers, we try to study these and understand them.
Now, this is a global virome project. It’s a little bit of a scary statement. However, it came out recently because the global virome project has been working on the outbreaks and following outbreaks around the globe for decades. And it’s a group…it’s a consortium of scientists that are studying the virome and both the pathogenic version, as well as the very commensal or beneficial organisms. And their statement essentially to summarize says, “You know, we see these outbreaks, we react to these outbreaks, but to understand them, we haven’t spent the time nor have we spent the education to get people ready for the next one.”
And really that comes to educating. It comes to an understanding to get us not only educated on the science of it but educated on the social factors, the communal factors, the government factors, and so on. Because this is a public health issue and as we’ve all seen, we’ve resorted to tactics that we’ve known and we’ve experienced in outbreaks that are over centuries old. You know, the spacing, the quarantining, the covering of what we think is, you know, like breathing or the way it transmits. You know, whether it be blood or air or particles or other fluids, etc.
Once we understand that, we can then start to treat these things much more efficiently and it reduces the fear. Because the fear creates a whole series of backslashes that we don’t want to have to experience. We want to know ahead of time so that we don’t have these shocking revelations. Now, the virobiota. What I really want to get into, now that I’ve kind of walked you through a lot of the precursor information is I want to get into the influence of it on our health. So the recent work has estimated that roughly 45% of mammalian viruses can be detected in healthy humans.
Another way of saying that is 45% of viruses that could under certain circumstances become virally active and create potentially deleterious effects or symptoms in a human, don’t. That means that they are existing or they’re living within your tissues, whether it be in the GI tract or the lung microbiota or the urogenital, wherever they are, they’re there and they’re quiet. There’s a sense of senescence where they’re not actually replicating. They’re not creating damage. They’re not propagating what we’ve considered through the disease state.
That’s interesting. That’s fascinatingly interesting because that means that either your immune system has figured out in those cases, how to sequester and work with those, or they are working with your immune system. It’s not fully understood but we need to know that because that’s a very telling bit of information that not every virus is moving through a pathogenic state in an aggressive fashion.
Let’s get into some of this more data because this is hard science though I’m giving you and, of course, I’ve cited them below. But the numerous apathogenic viruses are detected in various tissues in healthy people, especially infants. So we now not only are studying the microbiome and virome virobiota of adults, we’re studying it in newborns and infants because there’s a lot of immunological evolution that happens early on in life.
It’s really curious to know that infants are being exposed to many, many viruses early in life to help gauge and essentially educate their immune system. It’s critical. And we now have that data. So that’s another very important piece of this virobiota argument or this virobioscience that we are moving you into this new science of immunological and epidemiological information. Another bullet point. The currently hypothesized to alter disease susceptibility suggested by epidemiological observations and findings in animal models.
What does that mean? That means that when we look at disease susceptibility and what we find in animal models, if we wipe out populations of the virobiota, if we take sterile animals and we essentially destroy what we would consider healthy inhabitants, we find that their susceptibility to pathogenic microorganisms goes way up. That’s a very telling story where we do not want to destroy what we consider a healthy virobiota and a healthy microbiota in the name of trying to destroy the few pathogenic ones. Because in a sense, what you’ve done in essence, you’ve created a situation where now you’ve made that organism much more susceptible to a dangerous progression of the disease states.
Furthermore, we can now correlate many of these disease susceptibilities to what we call risk factors. And those risk factors we know are immunologically-based. When we look at the risk factors that really boil down to respiratory viruses or just viruses in general, we know that inflammatory, chronic inflammatory conditions are a problem. We know that things like diabetes or immunological comorbidity, so to speak, these create a situation that makes the viral world much more complicated and much more dangerous in many cases.
You can look at an animal models and see how to combat this. And that is having a healthy viral microbiota as well as microbiome seems to give you an edge or a beneficial competitive advantage to what we would consider a weak immune system or a weak microbiota. That data is coming out almost daily. It’s pretty robust and it’s pretty amazing. Again, you can read more of that yourselves and I will talk on these subjects more in the future as well. There’s another little twist to that. And we talked a little bit about phages and commensal bacteria.
My last bullet point, although a little bit convoluted, it shows that there are specific viruses that attack what we consider our bacteria, healthy bacteria. So enterococcus faecalis is considered a beneficial bacterium. There are other more dangerous ones. And it turns out that some of our beneficial bacteria have inside of them viruses that give them a competitive advantage. What’s a good analogy for that? If you’re on a reef system, you’re on a reef, a very complicated reef inside of the ocean. And you are a beneficial organism living on that reef. You have your own tools.
One of those tools is you have your own viruses that can attack your neighbors who are unpathogenic or unwanted, or they’re destroying the neighborhood, so to speak it. This is an amazing new situation where when we invite organisms into our GI or onto our skin or into our urogenital tract, we’re inviting these organisms because we know innately there’s a benefit. And that benefit is not only to our metabolic interactions or our immune interactions. It also seems to be a benefit in some cases, to getting rid of pathogens because of what that good organism can do to the problematic neighbor next door. So it can help keep your neighborhood clean.
That’s unprecedented science, that’s science that you have not likely heard. And at the end of this, one of my take-home messages…well, hopefully, we’ll get to that before too long. My take-home message is, if you manage this amazing virobiota and microbiota as best you can in a healthy fashion, you’re not only giving yourself the advantage of all these amazing organisms, you’re giving yourself the advantage of these organisms are going to fight the fight for you. They’re going to not only train your immune system, they’re going to allow your body to get rid of unwanted visitors in a very efficient manner that you could never have done on your own using your own tissues and your own natural immune system.
These guys we’re partnering up with, these little microorganisms, do us a huge service that’s almost unmatched in its complexity. And you have to really think about it in terms of a giant ecosystem, whether it be a rainforest or a coral reef, having that diversity is so critical to sustaining and really getting rid of many issues. Which is why so much of the population can come through certain instances of even viral attacks and go, “Yeah, I didn’t even notice it. I’m completely asymptomatic.” Part and parcel to the fact that they had very healthy immune systems, which was driven by a healthy microbiota and a virobiota, in my estimation and in other science estimations.
So the adaptive and innate immune response, these are how we interact with our virobiota. And I just want to point out on this slide that it’s not just me talking, that the science has really delved into the cell to cell interaction. Where we have taken and followed which immune cells interact with which organisms in our GI or in our bloodstream or in our lungs. And we can start to examine how certain viruses can train certain cells and certain cells become susceptible. And the path in which a virus can at the innate immune response as well as the adaptive immune response. And both of those need to be alerted and go through their entire process of education in order for you to gain the full immunity to what I would consider a viral infection.
And it’s that full immunity, it gives you that lifelong immunity. We want both of those innate and adaptive immune cells to be engaged in any infection. That’s also going to tell a tale for when we try to initiate infections in people. And I’ll get to that in a second. So the link I have here from Monaco Et Al really just says that the expansion is linked to the pathogenesis of HIV and AIDS and the highlights role of immune system controlling viral populations in the intestine.
So it can really begin in the tissue. Where the virus ends up, whether it could be in the liver and the brain or wherever it ends up infecting, in the entrance cycle, so whether it be the lungs or the GI or the urogenital tract, those can be the first line of defense. So we have to keep it healthy. And that’s where the largest populations of virobiota and microbiota inhabit that population. So we shaped the immune system and the shaping goes throughout the body and it goes throughout your lifetime.
It begins when you’re an infant and it continues on until you’re an elderly. And when you’re old, we all know that as we age and as we’ve had life stresses and diseases, our immune system has taken a hit, and many of our longevity genes are activated and inactivated and so on. We want to approach that nutritionally. We want to approach that through lifestyle changes so that we can have an immune system that’s robust further and longer into our life. And we have to first get rid of things that are creating this chronic inflammatory situation.
And I can tell you that chiropractors and the like, healers, the like clinicians are the best people to look at these chronic issues and take the lead, and take a lead against these chronic issues. Because the underlying issues with these chronic diseases can be addressed through nutrition, lifestyle, mental strengthening, and so on. What we believe and what we espouse as our principles of this industry are absolutely one of the underlying benefits of increasing the immune. Which by the way, indirectly, it starts to improve both your virome and your microbiome simultaneously. And that is going to create what you guys all want as positive human benefits for long healthy lives.
And again, I mentioned that your microbiome can help you fight the fight. So can your virobiota. This is just a study, feel free, I’m not going to bore you with all the details. But essentially what we look is, is we look at these herpes viruses, papillomaviruses, polyomaviruses, these are things that can be triggered. The immunity is triggered by them. However, by having a healthy virobiota and microbiota, that these chronic viral infections they can be managed and controlled to some degree. And it’s quite amazing because we can find these things in our bodies but they’re not active. They’re not causing any problems.
It’s a relationship that we want to have with more of these things that we worry about in the population, certainly fearful pathogenic things. So if we shape the immune system, we shape our virobiota and we shape our microbiota using all the other tools that we have in our toolbox, we start to see scientifically much better outcomes for these people. So are they the canaries in the coal mine? Certainly as we look at…when I say let’s shape our microbiota and our virobiota, it turns out that we know we can destroy it.
There’s terms we now use clinically all the time. SIBO, dysbiosis. These are two of the most strongly… Leaky gut syndrome. And then, of course, that’s tied to things like IBS, IBD, Crohn’s, etc. We don’t need to make…I don’t need to go over all of the connections between the microbiome and some of these conditions. That data is there. That’s clinically relevant. It’s clinically substantiated. We understand that so much more than we used to 10 years ago. However, I want to introduce into you into that same thinking, the same way of thinking the virobiota, including all the phage.
For example, if we have phage that we have a series of bacteroides species of bacteria in our gut and they’re healthy and they’re keeping us healthy and our immune system healthy, and they create all these metabolites that keep all the bad guys away, we want those. Those are commensal. Those are our partners in crime. However, if we create a situation where we’re being exposed to stresses and inflammatory and phages from other sources. And that phage takes over and kills that bacterium, which leaves you with a series of what we call dysbiosis.
We need to introduce the bugs back. How do we do that? Through food, through nutrition. We need to introduce new, healthy phage back. How do we do that? We can supplement those and we can be exposed to healthy bodies of water. Those conditions can help recondition your microbiome and your virobiota. By the way, a healthy virobiota leads to a healthy microbiome. Healthy microbiome leads to a healthy individual. If you continue to struggle or a patient of yours continues to struggle with their diet, their toxins, their emotional toxins, their biological toxins, etc., whether that be mold or other biological toxins and they seem to be someone that is constantly sick. They’ve been tested. They have high inflammatory markers. They have SIBO, dysbiosis, and sensitivities to lots of things, sensitivities to mold and metals, etc., the first organisms that are impacted by these horrible life choices are organisms like your phage.
They are the most sensitive organisms in your body. If you destroy phage, that allows the bacterium that you may not want in your body to grow, which hence is one of the processes that can lead to dysbiosis. Phage are the most sensitive group we have in our bodies. So we need to be not only telling people to get healthy for themselves, but I want you to tell people to get healthy for their phage and to get healthy for their microbiome. Because the virobiota is one of the first groups that takes a hit from pesticide exposure, plastic exposure, etc.
They are the first group to go. And they leave in the wake of their destruction a whole bunch of microbiome changes that you do not want. And that’s what leads in some cases, to these outcomes. So please take care of our phage. We love our phage. I’m not going to spend a lot of time here. I just wanted to emphasize how tiny these things really are. You have a red blood cell, next to that you have E. coli, so you can see the size of E. coli relative to it. In the second panel, you see next to the E. coli, you see the smallpox, the tobacco mosaic virus, the bacterial phage, the poliovirus, and the bacteriophage MS2.
This is so small. These organisms are the size of organelles inside of our tissue. That’s why they’re so hard to study. It’s why we study them in ways where we look at the DNA and the RNA and different expressions, what we call metabolomics or metagenomics. That helps us find them because they’re so small. And I just wanted to give you guys a sense of that because they’re not only amazing and there’s trillions of them inside of you, they are extremely, extremely small. So the microbiome immunity I’ve really, I think, pounded this into you guys today. I don’t want to spend a whole lot more time browbeating you with my passion for the virobiome and immunity and how it really drives immunity and drives the healthy immunity.
But in another study, when we look at the helper cells and T regulatory cells, and when they respond to change to the microbiome immediately after birth, and it begins with bacteria, this process is dynamic. This says six months. I can tell you that recent data says this process of developing your microbiome and developing your virobiome happens well beyond six months, up to two years before it stabilizes. And then it’s not even stable if you change the way you behave. You can change your microbiome through diet and lifestyle and so on. And that’s a talk for another day but we have control over our healthy microbiome to a degree.
And then transiently, it repopulates itself over and over again. Even if you hurt it, it will come back to the degree that your lifestyle allows it. Now, the immune response also tries to stay and keep step with this. And so this relationship between the microbiome, the virobiome, and the microbiota and the virobiota and your immune system is a dynamic ongoing relationship. I’ll touch back to this at the very end when we talk about how to clinically use this information. And that’s critical for all of the kinds of things we think about with probiotics and prebiotics.
I wanted to point out here that infants with higher ratios of Enterobacteriales and Pseudomonadales and Clostidiales, their intestinal microbiota exhibited lower immune response to viral exposure. The predominance of bifidobacterium may assist their thymus. So thymic development, increasing immune responses to vaccines and other infections. So it wasn’t just vaccines but just other viral infections. However, elimination of this bacterium and other bacteriums in systemic invention, which subsequently… I’m reading quickly because you guys can read yourselves, reduces viral responses.
What does this tell you? This tells you in summary that the type of microbiota an infant has, directly dictates the immune response and how beneficial that response is and how effective that response is when it becomes part of the thymic response to a viral exposure. Okay, to me, that’s groundbreaking information. Groundbreaking. All of you understand the thymus and the role it plays in our body. You now know that the probiotics and the microbiome assist the thymic response in its development and/or response to the viral exposure.
That’s insane. That’s so exciting for us to think about. That when we have these microbiological organisms that we can help deliver to people, and especially in the case of the infant. By the way, infants really are predominated by bifidobacterium. So if your mom and your dad and the family is not encouraging the growth of bifidobacteria in infants, then you’re going to see an increased risk to viral exposures with those infants. Because they will become populated by other species, which we do not want, like the Enterobacter and the Pseudomonadales. These come off the skin and other areas. We do not want those colonizing our babies.
Can we do something about it? Absolutely we can. We can give them so like, human milk-based oligosaccharides, we can give them breast milk, hopefully if they’re still feeding them breast milk. These are all the things we can do to reverse this potential issue. That’s what this science tells us. Now, in the VAC schedule, what is my point? There’s two VAC slides here. One point is you remember all of the virobiota that we have exposure to. We also have a lot of vaccines that are meant to deal with these organisms. These viruses that can be problematic for people.
And in some cases…again, non-politically, just looking at the science, everyone. I know that this is a very charged subject. But looking at the science, if your patients need or want, or have to have vaccines, whether it’s, you know, their choice or other pressures, etc., the best way to handle getting a vaccine, like getting the disease itself, is to have a healthy virobiome and to have a healthy microbiome. It increases the successfulness of the immune system’s response tenfold. And that might even be an underestimation. So if and when you go through the process of wanting to get exposure and/or having your body behave properly, we need to fix our microbiome and we need to fix our virobiome. That is the story of today.
Regardless of how you’re becoming exposed to these viruses, that’s what we need to do. So the consequences, if we want lifelong immunity, it happens through the healthy virome, the healthy microbiome, etc. We must engage the adaptive immunity to not just the innate but the adaptive immunity, because that’s the lifelong one. How do we do that? I’ve been telling you all day, we do that through proper systems, proper microbiota and virobiota systems working with the immune system. And that’s true across the board and nature can give us some of the work there.
Remember the story of antibiotics where we decided to kill everything? And it turns out a very bad idea because we now have an overabundance of bacterial resistance genes and they are dangerous. And they’re wreaking havoc on us. And we used antibiotics where we shouldn’t have, a bad idea. I think science and clinicians alike agree. We should have used it very sparingly and only when needed. My argument here is let’s not overreact to viruses. Let’s react appropriately. Let’s not kill everything. Don’t destroy your microbiome and your virobiome to kill everything. Act accordingly.
If you have a pathogen, we deal directly with that pathogen. We do not annihilate the entire microorganism ecology in the process. That’s just that little story for you all. Our genes talk to our microbiome. So not only does the microbiome talk to your immune cells, it talks directly to your genes inside your cells. That’s science. Again, I could spend all day on this. I just wanted to give you guys this reference to understand that our virobiota is not only critical to the training of our immune system, it’s critical for your entire body’s response to the environment. We are never going to not be exposed to viruses.
They are everywhere on the planet. They’re going to continue to emerge. They’re going to continue to transform and change. The only way to keep up with what these microorganisms and these viruses can do is to keep up with them genetically, epigenetically and your microbiota and your virobiota is the best way to do that. How do we keep that healthy, is going to be the end of this? Here’s some of the genes that we look at. By the way, you can do your genetic testing. So everything I’ve talked about today, let me summarize quickly from a testing standpoint.
How do we understand our patients better in terms of how they respond to stresses, inflammation, where are they at in their health? You all have your own techniques. Fully on board with everything you’re doing, whether it be, you know, the equipment you’re using blood tests, genetic tests, other emotional tests, questionnaires, kinesiology, etc. That’s all wonderful. It’s all part of the tool to understand our patients. However, when you look at the blood tests and the DNA test, they can tell us things about our inflammatory and what we’re susceptible to. And the genetic tests we run are mostly immune-related genetic tests.
So if you run a genetic test, you can look at the immune system and decide how that relates to…that human is going to relate potentially to viral and both commensal, the virobiota that we love and the virobiota that we don’t love. It’s going to get you some sense of that so that you can give them lifelong advice, lifelong personalized medicine advice. Because knowing if they have certain genetic predispositions, those need to be handled forever, not just a week, not just a month, those are forever type scenarios for some people.
That’s why I bring up genetic testing because it can help guide us down a path that other testing… You know, blood testing, you have to keep redoing it and redoing it or muscle testing, etc. You have to keep redoing it until you understand what your patient’s doing in real-time. Genetic testing gives you a sense of what to do forever. And here’s some of the genes, write these downs, or go back to this talk, please. These genes give you some look at what your immune system doing. There’s many more, and you can get these tests done. We offer tests. There are other tests that you can do that look at your genetic immunological responses or potential responses to viruses in particular.
And you’ll notice that when you start looking at patients and their genetics, it actually starts to tell you things that you already knew, but now you know why. You think, “Oh, wow, this helps me understand why my patient seems to continually go through this cycle every six months with me. And it’s because of these genes tend to trigger you know, when I’m not doing what I need to be doing or they’re not doing what they need to be doing.” Genetics can be very useful in some cases. In other cases, it simply supports the conclusions you’ve already made using your existing testing. It just supports what you’ve done in another way. And for your patient, that’s quite comforting that you have another tool that says, “You know what, what we decided earlier really works for you because your genetics even show that.” It’s brilliant.
So I’ve gone through a lot of information today, and I really want to wrap it up. I know I’ve got some…a little bit of time left and I want to bring it back to a clinical piece. And as I mentioned with the genetic testing, there’s ways that our body interacts with our viruses. And one of them are called miRNAs, which we call micro RNAs. There are other ways they involve through chemical signaling. That’s all science that you don’t have to know. I wanted to give you this just so you can feel confident that we are looking at the relationships and in detail, how they communicate between a virus and a human cell or a bacterium and a phage and how they can trigger inflammation more.
So some viruses by themselves, may not be dangerous. And we’re seeing this now, if you’re an inflamed individual with underlying risk factors and you’re already inflamed, and then a virus gets introduced into your system, that inflammation can skyrocket. And that’s the danger. The virus itself might be mildly to moderately dangerous to a normal individual. But for those individuals that are highly inflamed already, it can trigger cascades that are extremely dangerous. And that’s really this model that we talk about here with Kincaid and Sullivan and Cullen and so on. They talk about how these viral burdens can be immunopotentiating. And it can be very dangerous for people that had already have an underlying inflammatory condition.
So again, we teach a lot on inflammation that is very much a part of your all bailiwick. I understand that. So I won’t spend a lot of time on that. So how do we start making changes? How do we say, “I understand the virobiota to a degree. I understand the microbiota to a degree. How do I start to fix that in my world, in my population of clients and patients?” Well, guess what, it’s not too terribly complicated. We have a lot of tools and there’s science behind these tools.
So for example, you can’t really change your exposures to viral or… Excuse me, to human viruses. That happens to the course of exposure to just other humans, to nature, etc., other animals even. We don’t change that but we can change the way they handle the immune system. So from a very young age, and if it’s too late for young, work on the old, we start to improve their microbiome and their virobiota through phage. There’s three mechanisms, supplementation. We can add probiotics. Absolutely, I love them. There’s a lot of science there. Do they fix everything? No, they are a tool but they are a very powerful tool.
Prebiotics. Prebiotics can change the course of a probiotic and also change the course of the existing microbiome. So prebiotics and probiotics are very, very important. Now, that’s a supplement. How do we deal with the microbiome through diet? Easy, eat the colors, eat the variety of vegetables, whatever you can get your hands on, whatever becomes tolerable, that can change the microbiome very dramatically. And especially if you partner with things like prebiotics and probiotics, you can actually see through studies of feces, the microbiome in feces, you can see it changing.
We know that diversity in the gut is really the end goal. That’s the paramount goal because diversity is what we need in our gut. And how to do that is prebiotic, probiotics, and a really diverse set of colorful vegetables and fruits. By far and away, the most productive way to do that. How do we change the course of let’s say a part of our virome? I told you it’s really difficult to really predict the mammalian viruses. Won’t even go there, that’s very tricky. However, we can change the course of our phage virome to a certain degree. Having a healthy microbiome is one. Also, there’s supplements. There’s phages you can get.
And we usually refer to them as prebiotic phages. They can be very beneficial, of course. That’s one way you can get supplemental phage organisms. The other way is to expose yourself to a lot of organic soils and water. If you are someone whether… The winter, it’s harder I agree, in the higher elevations. But during the summer, spend time in the ocean, spend time in lakes, spend time in rivers. Avoid pathogens, avoid parasites and things, if you can. But by being exposed to these bodies of water, they’re healthy. Healthy bodies of water, by the way, not dangerous bodies of water. Healthy bodies of water. And you’re being exposed to trillions of healthy phage.
That’s the best way to get the breadth of phage exposure through foods coming right on the ground. You know, again, be careful. You don’t want to get anything dangerous but coming out of the ground and bodies of water. The ocean is one of the best. It’s a healing environment for the phage world, of course. And then there are a few products that are available in the globe. That’s probably the only way to get a few. But the vast majority, spend time in bodies of water and tell your clients to do the same.
And if they’re afraid of water, get into your waist, splash it on you, get it in you. It’s very important that we get exposed to some of these phage. And the phage are the ones we’re killing the most quickly. So it is a little bit intimidating at first, but those are the tools I want to send you home with. And I want to thank you, guys. I know it’s a lot. I went over a lot and you can watch it again. And I will be talking about things like this more and more in the future. So you’ll get…by the time you’re done, if you join me again in the future, you will be very well versed in the idea of microbiome, virome, microbiome, and the like.
But otherwise, it was amazing. We have an amazing group of people that are working on these projects for me. And I thank all you clinicians for what you do.
Rick: Thank you, Dr. Morris. That was extremely informative. We have time for a couple of quick questions. We had one, “Any thoughts on the discrepancy between blacks and whites and the impact of coronavirus, and why is the African-American population being hit so much harder?”
Dr. Morris: It’s an important question and it’s a question that I don’t think we have all the answers to. Strictly looking at some of the viral associations with the different areas of the country, and so not even just race but in different areas of the country, you know, there’s an aspect of the healthcare protocol, which has come into light. There’s an aspect of the underlying conditions, you know, the health and wellness of the people going into the hospitals. For example, we’ve seen a resurgent of… You know, the country’s seen a little bit of a resurgence right now. And even Fauci came on and admitted that it seems to be the 20 to 30-year-old population, that is a safer part of the population, obviously for a lot of reasons. But they don’t seem to be creating the same death toll.
So like in Utah, for example, our numbers are going up, but our death rate is pretty stable. So the overall statistics of that ratio is going down, which is nice. But even though the numbers are going up…but getting back to the original question, it’s a very complicated question. It has to do with the underlying health conditions, where they’re located, what kind of not only nutritive care, the kind of care they were getting prior to being exposed to Corona, as well as the hospital care. You know, we’ve learned a lot. I would have to say that our numbers and our stats from the early days in February and March, would not be the same today.
We have learned so much in such a short period of time that you would see different statistical outcomes if it were to happen today than it did three, four months ago because of what we’ve learned. And so some of those stats are our early stats and early unfortunate consequences of what we didn’t know. We didn’t know what we didn’t know, and it was scary and we didn’t know what to do and now we know more. We don’t know everything but we know more than we did three months ago. So I think those numbers would change.
Rick: Thank you. And another question that came in. “Do you advise not necessarily scrubbing homegrown organic veggies and fruits to increase the healthy phage exposure?”
Dr. Morris: You know, I think when you home grow and you know a lot about your own soil and your own environment, you know, where you might have to worry about things or not, and whether you’re using healthy manure and so on, you don’t remove all the bacterium when you scrub it and you don’t remove all the phage. As I showed you before, they’re so tiny. They can be in every cranny and crevice that is so minute, you’d have to get microscopes out, and in fact, you’d have to get electron microscopes out to see them.
So just giving it a good washing to get rid of things that we know, you know, debris, whether it be manure and other things, large debris. But you can scrub it down, it’s still super healthy, still and safer when, you know, you get rid of some of that. And it’s still going to be there. There’s still going to be a lot of exposure to the microorganisms even if you just wash. Even underwater and you wash it and scrub it, it’s still full of microorganisms. It’s teaming, it came out of the ground. And as long as you don’t add anything that’s anti-microbial. Don’t add, you know, bleaches and surfactants or, you know, the alcohol sprays and all that stuff.
If you just wash it with water then you’re good to go. My only caveat there, because I don’t want to get in trouble with anybody but make sure as you’re exposing yourself to these amazing organisms, make sure no one is immune-compromised. Make sure no one in your family or in your client database. Get their immune system healthy before you’re exposing them to too many because immune-compromised people don’t respond the same to even healthy bacteria. It can be overwhelming at first. So make sure you don’t have any immune-compromised people or actively in an immunological issue before you start introducing them to great things.
Rick: Thank you. And one last quick one, “How does wine and hard liquor affect the virome?”
Dr. Morris: That’s a really good question. I honestly cannot answer that scientifically. Anything I would give at you would be anecdotal and/or hypothetical or even, you know, and not only theoretical and hypothetical. Because when you ingest those drinks, you know, everything changes. On a petri dish, if I were to pour a high concentration of alcohol in a petri dish with phage and/or bacteria, it could kill them. Anything above 20% could potentially kill them. And some even die at lower percentages depending on how sensitive they are. Some die with exposure to oxygen. Believe it or not. They’re very sensitive.
But when you drink it, many of these fermented foods can be very beneficial. And although they produce alcohol in the fermentation process, a little bit can be a good thing. And that’s why there’s been centuries of use of fermented drinks in our culture, forever. There isn’t a culture on the planet that I’ve found that doesn’t use some form of a fermented drink and that drink tends to contain alcohol. Because if you ferment it long enough, the sugars get converted. You know, even if…then, of course, it can progress into acidic acid but we convert those sugars into alcohol and then we drink it.
We know, as a group, that alcohol itself, you know, it can lead to addictions and things I don’t want to touch. But the fermented drinks that we’ve always had in our cultures, in every culture I can find, that’s a good thing. There’s a lot of good things that come out of a fermented food. And the side metabolite of alcohol, as long as it’s not abused, they can be a good thing. And I suspect that a lot of metabolites that you’re drinking through fermented foods are very beneficial and/or disruptive to the microbiome, which is a good thing too.
I think we kept it around for the millennia because it is a good thing. I think we’ve kept that tradition around in every culture because there is some benefits there.
Rick: Thank you. And at this time we’d like to thank our sponsor, Systemic Formulas, and Dr. Morris for today’s webinar. And thank you all for attending. Remember this webinar, including our speaker’s PowerPoint presentation, has been recorded. We’ll alert you by email when the webinar is available online, including a free sample of the virome product for registrants. Thank you again for attending. And we look forward to seeing you next time. Have a wonderful day.
Dr. Morris: Thank you.