I’ve written before about the link between your immune system, and its connection to mental disorders. I talked about how veterans with PTSD were over THREE times more likely to suffer from any autoimmune disease, FIVE times more likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis, THREE times more likely to suffer from insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and EIGHT times more likely to suffer from thyroid dysfunction.
Researchers at the University of Virginia have actually discovered new vessels that connect the brain directly to the body’s immune system. For all of medical history, these vessels have somehow slipped under the radar, most likely because they were “very well hidden,” piggybacking along a major blood vessel.
This completely unexpected discovery may have several implications that are relevant to veterans and their VA disability claims.
First, this discovery may allow us to suddenly make huge leaps in understanding certain disorders:
Myalgic Encephalopathy/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has been, for the most part, a mystery and the subject of heated debate in the medical world. Some research has shown there are higher levels of toxic by-products in the brains of those with chronic fatigue, and some have postulated that they may be the result of the brain being unable to “flush” these byproducts.
Alzheimer’s is also the result of a build-up of waste proteins called amyloid proteins. I’ve written before about how research shows a clear link between Alzheimer’s and poor quality of sleep. It very well may be that these vessels are the method by which the brain “flushes” the waste build-up of the brain during sleep.
However, these are far from the only two diseases that may be greatly affected by this discovery. Literally EVERY SINGLE DISEASE that has shown both a neurological component AND an immune component may be affected. This discovery may completely change the way we view Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, even PTSD!
PTSD research has been intensely focused on the immune system lately, and new research has actually shown promise for a new PTSD vaccine that is not based on affecting ghrelin levels, but actually on inflammatory proteins in the immune system!
This research should not only give us new hope for advancing our understanding of neurological diseases, their treatment, or even developing new ways of preventing these disorders, but also new hope for fighting rejected claims for service connection.
- If there is a clear link between sleep and waste removal in the brain, then veterans with mental illnesses that affect sleep, such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, or even Obstructive Sleep apnea may be able to link other disorders like Parkinson’s or chronic fatigue as secondary to their already service-connected disorder.
- Those with service-connected immune system problems may be able to connect mental or neurological disorders to their immune dysfunction.
- We have JUST learned about these vessels, and as of now, we do not know how chemicals such as the TCDD in Agent Orange, pesticides, burn pits, oil well fires or Jet Fuel may affect them. Could it be that damage to these vessels from toxins in oil well fires or burn pits is the underlying cause of the mysterious Gulf War Syndrome?
We are diligently researching this new development, and its relevance to veterans. I personally believe this may be end up being the most important month of scientific research for veterans in years, both in understanding and treating many disorders, and helping veterans demonstrate these disorders are ultimately connected to their military service.