Stephen Lau's website to help you get the wisdom to live as if everything is a miracle.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Attitude Is Everything

Myasthenia gravis is one of the many autoimmune diseases affecting humans. The hallmark of myasthenia gravis is muscle weakness, which can affect different parts of the body, such as the eyes, resulting in drooping eyelids and double vision, and the limbs affecting body movement, and the throat resulting in difficulty in swallowing. There are many underlying causes or triggers of the onset of an autoimmune disease. Basically, it is the dysfunction or malfunction of the immune system.

Researchers have now discovered that there is a close connection between attitude and autoimmune response. The research findings indicated that attitude can suppress or enhance the immune system. The explanation is that when affected by certain emotions and moods, the brain releases certain brain chemicals that are transmitted to the immune cells with receptors for those chemicals. In other words, there is a biochemical link between human emotions and immunity.

Attitude is a learned response to a person, a circumstance, or an event. Researchers have found that control over a stressful situation may lead to a positive attitude, which will benefit and improve the immune response.

In one study, two rats, having been given electric shock, were put in two different cages, one with a wheel to control the shock, and the other one without the wheel. The result was that the rat which could control the wheel had much better immune response than the other one without the wheel. That is to say, without the capability to control the situation may be devastating to the immune system.

Given that myasthenia gravis, or any autoimmune disease, has to do with a compromised immune system, it is therefore important to  boost your immune system with an attitude of being in control, or at least not to suppress it with an attitude of helplessness. Do not let your despair develop into a depression, which may result in higher-than-normal cortisol (a hormone) that suppresses the immune response. Again, research has indicated that optimism increases the immune system functioning.

Understandably, to be diagnosed with myasthenia gravis is a devastating experience. But don't let that negative emotion be a stumbling block on your road to recovery. Although according to conventional Western medicine, there is no cure for autoimmune diseases, there are many natural ways not only to control and cope with the disease symptoms but also to enhance your immune system to combat the disease over the long haul.

The first step is to develop an attitude of being in control. This mindset is critical to recovery. 

I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis more than two decades ago; I struggled with my disease symptoms for a while; I stopped all my medications; and for over a decade, I have been totally drug-free. If I could do it, you can do the same too. There is no miracle cure, except the intention to get better, which is no more than an attitude of control, empowerment of knowledge, and determination to fight against all odds.

Read my book: My Myasthenia Gravis (2nd edition)

Stephen Lau
Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Understanding Your Immune System

To understand why and how you may have developed an autoimmune disease, such as myasthenia gravis, you must have an understanding of your immune system in layman terms. This understanding may be instrumental in helping you cope with its many disease symptoms.

According to Western medicine there is no cure, except using drugs to treat its symptoms. However, from my own experience, an understanding of the disease may initiate self-healing over the long haul. Remember, more than two decades ago, I was taking many steroid medication, but now I am 100 percent drug free.

The Immune System

“In recent years science has learned that the human immune system is much more complicated than we thought.” Dr. Philip F. Incao, M.D.

First and foremost, you must have an understanding of your immune system in simple layman’s terms:

Antibodies are proteins that protect the human body from disease and disorder, and they are like soldiers in an army.

Antigens are foreign invaders in the form of bacteria and viruses that attack the human body.

T-cells, a type of white blood cells originating from the bone marrow, either control and regulate the immune response or directly attack infected cells.

The human immune system is complicated in that it affects the whole body system in many different ways. As such, it can heal you but it can also harm you. It protects your cells and maintains your overall health through its production of antibodies (specific proteins) to fight against antigens (invaders to your body system). However, an impaired or dysfunctional immune system can adversely affect your overall health because it is the common denominator of more than one hundred autoimmune diseases.

The immune system is basically made up of four parts, and each part has its unique functions; it involves the whole human body, not just certain body organs and tissues. The complexity of the human immune system is a testament to the ingenuity and mystery of human creation.

The basic function of the immune system is to warn the body of imminent dangers of viruses and bacteria (unfortunately, many of us just ignore these tale-telling signs, or simply fail to decipher these subtle body messages warning us of an imminent disease). In addition, the immune system “remembers” these foreign invaders or antigens (the intention is to identify similar invaders in future for better disease-prevention purpose). Furthermore, the white blood cells in the immune system produce antibodies, which are chemicals that attach to and attack specific antigens. These white blood cells also send “messages” that will cause “inflammation” in response to an injury or antigen, and thus instrumental in preventing an infection from spreading elsewhere. In other words, they receive “chemical instructions” to nip the disease or infection in the bud.

In short, the immune system serves different functions of identification, activation, mobilization, and restoration. It is akin to a police department in a city: it recognizes the city’s potential crime scenario, takes strong measures to protect the public, trains the local police force to take appropriate action, and regulates the law and order of the city.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Monday, October 8, 2018

Mindfulness of Healing

Myasthenia gravis is one of the many autoimmune diseases attacking humans. The major characteristic of the disorder is weakness of muscles, which can occur in any part of the body, but most notably in the eyes and the limbs. The hallmark of myasthenia gravis is double vision and general physical disability.

To be diagnosed with myasthenia gravis is a devastating experience, especially when the doctor tells you that there is no cure, except controlling the symptoms with long-term use of dangerous pharmaceutical drugs. This may lead to depression and despair.

No matter what, we must accept the reality, and believe in miracles, just as Albert Einstein said: “There are two ways to live your life: believing that nothing is a miracle, or believing as though everything is a miracle.” Believe in the miracle of healing, with or without drugs.

But how can we believe in the miracle of healing. God has given us an innate self-healing mechanism that enables us to fight and recover from diseases, including autoimmune disorders. Unfortunately, many of us ignored this natural healing; instead we have sought healing through science (I am not saying that science does not play a pivotal role in medicine and healing, but we often put too much emphasis on its efficacy that we have disregarded the natural laws of healing. As a result, our natural self-healing mechanism may have become compromised and ineffective.

Mindfulness plays an important role in our lives: it affects how we think, how we live our lives, and how we look at our health.

By the way, what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is deliberate presence of mind in a non-judgmental way, often focusing on something apparently insignificant, such as our breathing. Mindfulness is letting go of doing, at least for now, and learning how to be in the present moment. Say, you have been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, and you feel distressed and distraught. Instead of taking drastic actions to cope with the disease symptoms, you let yourself to be doing less, but noticing more, with the ultimate objective of probe into your mind to release wisdom on how to deal with your myasthenia gravis. Very often, humans rush to actions without much thinking. The downside of this is rashness is making the wrong decisions, creating the anticipation that not only causes stress but may ultimately bring about disappointment, which only further aggravates the stress. Remember, stress is not only the underlying cause of myasthenia gravis but also the major contributor to the worsening of the disease symptoms. Essentially, the function of mindfulness is to quiet the mind so that it may see things as they really are, and not what they appear to be. Being to be in the present moment and to act later with wisdom is preferred to acting and reacting without second thoughts.

Mindfulness is a way of being—it has been around for millennia. It is not a new concept, although recent scientific research has attested to its health benefits. Its major contribution to mental health is that mindfulness can alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. Mindfulness also contributes to physical health in that it helps the immune system recover and speed up any healing process. In addition, mindfulness is instrumental in correcting behavior patterns, such as sleep which plays a pivotal role in reducing stress and improving symptoms of myasthenia gravis. All in all, mindfulness changes your brain chemicals to help you cope with your disease symptoms.

But how do you develop mindfulness?

Mindfulness begins with breathing. Mindful of your breathing is the way. We all breathe, and few of us are mindful of how we breathe. When you are mindful of your breathing in and breathing out, you become aware of the presence of your mind in the now. When your mind slows down, you become mindful of what is happening around you. So, begin to spend some time each day to notice your breaths. You can do this even while you are waiting for the bus or train.

Read my book My Myasthenia Gravis for more information on how to cope with the disease.

Stephen Lau

Copyright© by Stephen Lau

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Anti-Inflammation Diet for Myasthenia Gravis

Inflammation is a natural immune response to injury, toxins, allergy or infection. Because 70 percent of your immune system cells are located on the lining of your digestive tract, your immune response is greatly affected by the foods you ingest, especially foods that may cause inflammation.

The main causes of inflammation are as follows:

Injury (a natural process of repairing injured cells or tissues)

Allergy (the immune system overreacting to a harmless substance, such as a natural food, or potentially harmful substance, such as a synthetic chemical)

Toxicity (cellular injury due to overexposure to toxic agents or chemicals in the environment, in processed foods, and in pharmaceutical drugs, among others)

Nutritional imbalance (a deficiency or an excess of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals causing hormone disturbances, leading to a compromised immune system)

Infection, such as a yeast, fungus, or bacteria attack

Emotional trauma (increase of adrenaline and cortisol stress hormones due to excess or chronic stress)

Have a moderately low-calorie diet with emphasis on weight control. Foods that are high in calories are linked to higher amounts of inflammation, and the greater amount of fat tissue you have, especially around your midsection, the more inflammation you are going to have.

Most fresh fruits and vegetables are anti-inflammatory. Those red, yellow, or orange ones are particularly loaded with antioxidants, such as carotenoids, vitamin C, and quercetin. However, if you are sensitive to food allergies, avoid all “nightshade vegetables” that include eggplant, tomatoes, and potatoes because they contain a chemical called solanine that may trigger an inflammatory response in some individuals who have food allergies. Eggs, dairy products, and wheat are also associated with food allergies in some individuals.

Eat high-fiber whole grains, seeds and nuts to reduce levels of C-reactive protein.

Avoid all highly processed cereals, sweets, fruit juice, white breads and pasta that increase blood-sugar levels that may trigger the release of insulin and pro-inflammatory chemicals in your body.

Cook with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices, such as ginger, cayenne, clove, feverfew, nutmeg, oregano, and rosemary.  Avoid charred or over-grilled foods.

Drink anti-inflammatory beverages, including white, green, and black tea (they contain antioxidant polyphenols), and red wine (but no more than 2 drinks per day).
Dark chocolate is also part of an anti-inflammatory diet.

Anti-inflammation is disease prevention and treatment because inflammation touches every aspect of human health.

An anti-inflammation diet helps to reduce the many symptoms of myasthenia gravis.

Stephen Lau        
Copyright© by Stephen Lau