Reflections on “Antivirals for the Gut? Study Points To Potential New Gut (and Brain) Treatment”

A reader shipped me a link to Antivirals for the Gut? Study Points To Potential New Gut (and Brain) Treatment and asked for comments.

After reading, my first concern is about some naivety about biophages. Biophages are uber specialists in general, often they will address only a very small selection of bacteria. Just like bacteria, there is communications between them.

” Sorek’s team was looking for evidence that a bacterium called Bacillus subtilis might alert other bacteria to phages. The researchers knew that bacteria speak to their brethren through secreting and sensing an array of chemicals. This phenomenon, called quorum sensing, allows the bacteria to adjust behaviours according to the numbers of other bacteria around. For instance, bacteria use quorum sensing to decide whether to divide or when to launch an infection.  Instead, the team found, to its surprise, that a viral invader of Bacillus bacteria — a phage called phi3T — makes a chemical that influences the behaviour of other viruses. …

Sorek’s team found more than 100 different arbitrium(name of this class of chemicals)-like systems, most of them in the genomes of other Bacillus viruses. “Phages broadcast in different frequencies. They speak in different languages and they can hear only the language that they speak,” he adds. “

Do you speak virus? Phages caught sending chemical messages“[2017].

So conceptually, this sounds nice … a magic silver bullet! The problem is every phage is a different caliber so finding the right gun to shoot it becomes a challenged.

In theory: We need to identify which of the 3000+ bacteria each person has that are associated with the condition. Each person with the same condition will have different taxa involved. Then we need to find the appropriate matching phages for each. Each bacteria will likely need a different phage. In the 2017 study cited above, they found 100’s of phages for bacillus genus. We have years, if not decades, that will need researching.

The article cites Firmicutes being high in ME/CFS and links to the study. I suspect that brain fog has hit the author. I read the opposite

A highly significant separation could be achieved between Norwegian controls and Norwegian patients: patients presented increased proportions of Lactonifactor and Alistipes, as well as a decrease in several Firmicutes populations.

High-throughput 16S rRNA Gene Sequencing Reveals Alterations of Intestinal Microbiota in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Patients [2013]

Hoping over to my library of studies we find those below. Many of the low items are co-morbid with ME/CFS. (I excluded the above study because results were different for the two sets of ME/CFS patients used)

  1. Parkinson’s Disease reported from 1 studies to be High and Low
  2. Allergies reported from 1 studies to be High
  3. Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (Gerd) including Barrett’s esophagus reported from 1 studies to be High
  4. Inflammatory Bowel Disease reported from 1 studies to be High
  5. Metabolic Syndrome reported from 1 studies to be High
  6. Sjögren syndrome reported from 1 studies to be High
  7. Type 1 Diabetes reported from 1 studies to be High
  8. Type 2 Diabetes reported from 1 studies to be High
  9. Ulcerative colitis reported from 1 studies to be High
  10. Acne reported from 1 studies to be Low
  11. ADHD reported from 1 studies to be Low
  12. Autism reported from 1 studies to be Low
  13. Celiac Disease reported from 1 studies to be Low
  14. Chronic Kidney Disease reported from 1 studies to be Low
  15. Crohn’s Disease reported from 3 studies to be Low
  16. Depression reported from 1 studies to be Low
  17. Inflammatory Bowel Disease reported from 1 studies to be Low
  18. Irritable Bowel Syndrome reported from 1 studies to be Low
  19. Juvenile idiopathic arthritis reported from 1 studies to be Low
  20. Multiple Sclerosis reported from 1 studies to be Low
  21. neuropsychiatric disorders (PANDAS, PANS) reported from 1 studies to be Low
  22. Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) reported from 1 studies to be Low
  23. Stress / post-traumatic stress disorder reported from 1 studies to be Low
  24. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus reported from 1 studies to be Low

The findings suggested to the authors that antibacterials like minocycline and probiotics might be helpful not just in returning the gut to health, but also in reducing the neuroinflammation present in Gulf war Illness and similar disorders.

What is excluded is that success with minocycline and other tetracyclines with GWI and ME/CFS has been known for a while. For example Garth Nicolson, Continuing Research into Gulf War Illness 2001; Philippe Bottero, Co-Infections, 1987; C.L. Jadin, Common Clinical and Biological Windows on CFS and Rickettsial Diseases , 2000

In 2017, Solve ME funded a gut virome study, and a fecal transplant study is underway in Norway.

There is no mention of the massive research being done in Australia — so massive and successful that “Australians are running out of shit” (unbelievable and could not resist!) [News] In The GI microbiome and its role in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: A summary of bacteriotherapy[2011] found ” Results: 35/60 patients who underwent initial bacteriotherapy responded to treatment. 10/15 patients who failed this course were offered a secondary transcolonoscopic infusion followed by a rectal infusion or an oral course of cultured bacteria. Of these 7/10 responded, giving a total of 42/60 (70%) patients who responded to treatment. “

Bottom Line

I often see the same old concepts being recycled for more funded investigations into these “new” concepts. Often it seems that the researchers are in their own little niche speciality and have not read (beyond a glance) the massive body of literature and studies on ME/CFS.

After some 20+ years in the ME/CFS world and having read everything that I could find multiple times…. I tend towards “Folks, put it together and get on with treating people!” The reality is that there is massive inertia in medical practice, my classic example is that many MDs believed ulcers were caused by stress for over 30 years after it was discovered to be treatable by antibiotics. MDs preached to their patients — “The ulcer is because YOU are stressed, I can’t help with that”…”What!!! Antibiotics, that is not standard of care — sorry, I will not be reckless!”

Update on Infrared Sauna and ME/CFS

It’s been six years(2013) since my earlier review on Infrared Sauna and autoimmune conditions. As stated earlier, it is my hypothesis that this alters the microbiome — how, has still to be reported. It kicks start changes whose benefit appears not the same day, but in the week following.

The following additional studies have come out:

Perceived fatigue significantly decreased after therapy, although no significant reductions were observed during therapy. In addition, a negative mood, including anxiety, depression and fatigue, and the performance status significantly improved after therapy. However, the levels of pain and vigor did not change significantly. No patients reported any adverse effects during the therapy.

Effects of Waon therapy on chronic fatigue syndrome: a pilot study. [2015]

Bottom Line

I continue to still use my infrared sauna at least once a week (and likely should do more often). The evidence suggests that it does help with CFS, and potentially may reduce brain fog.

Potentiators: Often the difference between success and failure

In dealing with ME/CFS I came across a group of supplements/drugs that I continue to use. The main reasons are:

  • They are biofilm breakers, thus weaken the defenses of some bacteria
  • Blood thinners of diverse mechanisms – I deal with a Prothrombin 20210 A/G defect (85+% of ME/CFS patients are believed to have coagulation defects – often due to epigenetics)
  • They make antibiotics more effective because a much (up to 10x ) higher amount of the antibiotics makes it into tissue.
  • Last, it reduces my risk of blood clots; remove much of blood vessel fibrin deposits that reduce the amount of oxygen you receive.

This is a short summary of my main ones with their literature.


This in an enzyme derived from silk worms. It is produced for the silkworm to escape it cocoon. It is effective against some types of coagulation.



This is an enzyme that exhibits strong fibrinolytic activity. Natto is a kind of fermented soy bean-cheese used in Japan. This characteristic is not from the soy but the fermentation (produced from Bacillus subtilis Natto).


This is strong fibrinolytic enzyme was readily obtained in saline extracts of the earthworm.

  • digested fibrinogen and inhibited platelet adhesion [1991]
  • fibrinogen decreased significantly. Inhibition of intrinsic coagulation pathway and the activation of fibrinolysis via an increase of t-PA activity.  [2000]


This is an extract from pineapple stem.

Bottom Line

These should not be taken continuously.

Warning 1:Most are anticoagulants which means that the risk of easy bruising and failure of the blood to clot is high.

Warning 2: With antibiotics, they can change a minor herx into needing to crawl on the floor herx. With 10x the concentration, you are effectively increasing the antibiotic dosage 10x!

Appropriate dosage and duration should be done in consultation with your medical professional.

Patents and ME/CFS

A reader forwarded me a copy of a 2019 patent application Therapeutic agent for chronic fatigue syndrome. Patents are an interesting mining source because often they come from unpublished studies. The last time that I did a patent review, I found some interesting stuff.

On the flip side, the inclusion of ME/CFS in the patent application rarely means that the focus is ME/CFS. Patents are written to be ascribe every possible use just in case someone later discover a use. I have several patents and have written over a half dozen of them.

This is a quick review of a few of the more interesting patent applications that mentions ME/CFS:

Bottom Line

Only one was CFS specific, Japanese horseradish (wasabi) . There were many dealing with FMT — I enjoyed seeing the “Fecal Floral Transplant” – A shit by any other name (to paraphrase Shakespeare)

Looking at wasabi or horseradish, I found no significant literature on it’s impact on the microbiome. I found just 140+ studies citing wasabi

Since the western diet is relatively devoid of deeply-colored fruits, vegetables and other plant-derived culinary items (e.g., turmeric, ginger, seaweeds, purslane, wasabi, Brassica-family sprouts, and regional spices) this represents a loss of complex phytochemicals that would otherwise make their way into the gastrointestinal tract

The Microbiome and Mental Health: Looking Back, Moving Forward with Lessons from Allergic Diseases [2016]

Wasabi does appear to have significant benefit for a variety of stomach ailments. It is likely beneficial for many digestive issues — NOTE: that it may be harmful for people with the FOXO3 mutation (we are back to the DNA-Microbiome interaction complexities).

A classic marketing designed probiotic

On The Gut Club someone asked about a Slovenia Probiotic Mixture. I have great respect for some of the raw probiotics that Eastern Europe produces and often sell on to retail packagers to mix and sell.

Multi EM ferment™

Today, there was a mixture which I must described as tossing in the kitchen sink!!! The mixture was literally tossing in anything and everything that could possibly have a health benefit.

What is in it? 20 BCFU consisting of:

Bacillus subtilis Lactobacillus delbrückii
 Bifidobacterium bifidum Lactobacillus farraginis
 Bifidobacterium breve Lactobacillus gasseri
 Bifidobacterium longum Lactobacillus helveticus
 Bifidobacterium infantis Lactobacillus johnsonii
 Bifidobacterium lactis Lactobacillus paracasei
 Bifidobacterium lactis Lactobacillus parafarraginis
 Enterococcus faecium Lactobacillus plantarum
 Lactobacillus acidophilus Lactobacillus reuteri
 Lactobacillus amylolyticus Lactobacillus rhamnosus
 Lactobacillus amylovorus Lactobacillus salivarius
 Lactobacillus bulgaricus Lactobacillus zeae
 Lactobacillus casei Lactococcus diacetylactis
 Lactobacillus casei Lactococcus lactis
 Lactobacillus casei Streptococcus thermophilus
 Lactobacillus crispatus

At least one of these I have never seen for sale in a probiotic before,  Lactobacillus zeae. I found almost nothing about it effects clinically and not a single safety study.

So we toss every strain on the lab kitchen shelf in… BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE…

  • Pineapple,
  • Angelica Root,
  • Anise,
  • Basil,
  • Knot,
  • Fennel,
  • Pomegranate,
  • Blueberries,
  • Raspberry – Leaves,
  • Ginger,
  • Olive – Leaves,
  • Oregano,
  • Peppermint,
  • Rosemary,
  • Red Tea,
  • Red Clover,
  • Sage,
  • Black Cumin,
  • Sweet Root,
  • Thyme,
  • Maca,
  • Pink Root,
  • Turmeric,
  • Cinnamon,
  • Vanilla,
  • Cardamom,
  • Saffron,
  • Grapefruit Extract,
  • Terrible Roast Extract (OPC) and
  • Ganoderma lucidum

And it’s manufactured in Germany — so this must be good!

Bottom Line

This is the typical pattern that I see with a lot of supplements and probiotics. Toss in whatever marketing studies find are popular and sell it. No medical studies, and literally no science often. Just give the masses what is currently circulating as alternative medicine urban myths.

This is the new snake-oil salesmanship!