How the COVID Vaccine Harms Your Gut, Leading to Dysbiosis, Brain Fog, and Autoimmune Disease
How the COVID Vaccine Harms Your Gut, Leading to Dysbiosis, Brain Fog, and Autoimmune Disease

By Marina Zhang

Diarrhea, constipation, and bloating are common problems that plague two-thirds of Americans.

While gut problems are often written off as caused by poor diet and lifestyle habits, they may also be a sign of damage from infections such as COVID-19 and from COVID vaccination.

Internal medicine physician Dr. Keith Berkowitz, who has treated 200 COVID-vaccine-injured patients, told The Epoch Times that he found gut problems widespread among long-COVID and post-vaccine patients. However, patients often fail to bring up these issues.

Also, people may not be aware that symptoms such as fatigue and brain fog could be driven by gut problems, internist Dr. Yusuf Saleeby told The Epoch Times.

The Gut Is Linked to Everything

Poor gut health is associated with a vast range of diseases, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, dementia, cancer, infections, autoimmune diseases, and even reproductive diseases.

The gut’s health often depends on its microbiome, comprised of 100 trillion microbes inside the large intestine.

A healthy microbiome has a diverse population of microbes with many beneficial bacteria. These microbes produce chemicals necessary for metabolism, nutrition, immunity, and communication within organs. They also help maintain the mucous layer in the gut, preventing infections from entering through the gut cells.

Poor diet, poor sleep, environmental toxins, alcohol and drugs, infections, and chronic diseases can damage the microbiome by depleting it of beneficial bacteria, leaving pathological bacteria in its place.

Loss of Bifidobacteria in Gut After COVID Vaccination

Infections with the COVID-19 virus have been shown to damage the gut microbiome and are associated with compromised integrity of the gut’s mucous layer, causing gut dysbiosis—a microbiome imbalance.

Reports have also shown that the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine is linked to reduced biodiversity in the microbiome. 

A gastroenterologist and the CEO of genetic research lab ProgenaBiome, Dr. Sabine Hazan has found that test results of many vaccine-injured patients a month after vaccination show a lack of the probiotic Bifidobacteria. Dr. Hazan’s laboratory was the first to report the whole genome sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus using patient fecal samples.

Bifidobacteria are a group of bacteria under the Bifidobacterium genus and are among the first microbes to colonize the gut. They are believed to benefit their host’s health and are among the most common probiotics.

“Right now, we’re seeing a persistence [of Bifidobacteria loss] in some patients, not a lot of patients,” Dr. Hazan said. “But if people are suffering after the vaccine, they need to be looked at. They can enter a clinical trial right now … We have markers that we’re developing to identify those patients that are vaccine-injured, and we’re trying to find a signature microbiome in vaccine injuries.”

Her research team has since been following 200 vaccine-injured patients. She has observed drastic losses of Bifidobacteria and other species in some patients. However, there have also been rare cases where Bifidobacteria increased.

Dr. Hazan believes that the spike proteins coating the surface of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, made in human cells after vaccination, kill Bifidobacteria, much like the virus can infect and kill good bacteria.

Research has linked loss of Bifidobacteria with diabetescancerLyme disease, and Crohn’s disease.

Like the COVID-19 virus, loss of beneficial microbes like Bifidobacteria may cause gut dysbiosis, directly linked to poor gut health and associated diseases.

However, gut dysbiosis is poorly defined in clinical diagnosis.

“In the clinical research looking at patients, we don’t have that definition yet,” Dr. Hazan said. “There is no guidelines to say gut dysbiosis is equal to this (specific thing).”

Dr. Hazan’s earlier works in COVID patients showed that Bifidobacteria abundance is linked to the severity of COVID-19 disease. Patients with more Bifidobacteria in their gut tended to have mild or asymptomatic disease, whereas patients with low or no Bifidobacteria developed severe disease.

Treating COVID-19 Injuries Could Start in the Gut

Many factors must be considered when restoring the microbiome. Doctors must ensure the right microbes are cultivated, that this happens in the right place, that it will not disturb other microbes, and that the gut can support the new microbes being colonized, Dr. Hazan said.

Restoring microbes in an unhealthy gut environment could be like growing an apple tree in the sand.

“It’s forensics of the gut microbiome,” she said.

For Dr. Saleeby, helping patients with COVID-19 injuries often starts with the gut since the gut is what allows patients to absorb prescribed drugs and nutraceuticals.

He gave the example of low-dose naltrexone, a common staple used among doctors treating long COVID and vaccine injuries.

“Low-dose naltrexone (LDN) will help the inflamed bowel and will help with Crohn’s disease and/or ulcerative colitis, and in exchange, when you start repairing the gut, you’ll find out that the LDN is absorbed better. So it may change the dose of LDN,” he said.

In gut dysbiosis, a person may develop small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which can interfere with treatment. Patients may also feel worse after starting therapy. This is because many of the first-line therapies used in treating COVID-19-vaccine injuries work by clearing spike protein and increasing the body’s ability to flush pathogens, Dr. Saleeby said. This can lead the immune system also to attack the overgrowth of bacteria in the gut, resulting in a sudden and massive accumulation of dead microbes in the body.

The body sees these dead pathogens as a threat, which triggers a sudden inflammatory reaction, causing more symptoms to flare up.

Reducing the treatment dosage and supplementing with anti-inflammatory therapies like hydration therapy, saunas, and Epsom salt baths can make these reactions more tolerable, said Dr. Saleeby.

Dr. Berkowitz also has patients who cannot tolerate typical postvaccine therapies. His patients, however, tend to exhibit signs of an overactive nervous system, which he suspects is linked to neurotransmitter depletion from the loss of beneficial bacteria.

These patients also become much more tolerant of postvaccine treatments once they are given hydration therapy and nutraceuticals that help calm the nervous system and rebuild the gut microbiome.

Damaged Gut: Neurological Problems

Research has shown that the gut and the brain are linked through their nervous system, and Drs. Saleeby and Berkowitz believe that the damaged gut could contribute to the brain fog, fatigue, and other problems seen in their patients.

Gut problems have long been linked to neurocognitive impairments.

For instance, some people develop severe brain fog “within 30 minutes” of eating a piece of bread because they’re gluten-sensitive or have celiac disease, Dr. Saleeby said.

Neuroinflammation driven by the gut could explain why patients with gut problems often develop neurocognitive problems. The brain and the gut are extensively linked through the gut-brain axis. When patients suffering from gut problems eat particular foods or chemicals that trigger disease, the gut may produce inflammatory chemicals that can penetrate the brain.

Another reason cause of neurocognitive impairment is the depletion of neurotransmitters. Many microbes in the gut use dietary nutrients to make neurotransmitters. Some of these microbes are lost in dysbiosis, and the gut becomes less capable of absorbing nutrients for use.

Therefore, neurological and cognitive problems may manifest. The neurotransmitters used in the brain are also made in the gut. Ninety-five percent and 50 percent of serotonin and dopamine are made in the gut, respectively.

Most neurotransmitters made outside the brain cannot cross the blood-brain barrier or be utilized by the brain. Yet research suggests a direct link between mental and cognitive health and microbiome health.

Dr. Berkowitz has noticed what he considers a depletion of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which can be made by bacteria in the gut, including Bifidobacteria. He believes the lack of GABA in the brain—an inhibitor to calm the nervous system—is why many patients display signs of an overactive nervous system.

He treats these patients with magnesium and melatonin, both of which stimulate GABA, and bovine colostrum, a milky fluid that seeps from cow udders the first few days after they give birth. Bovine colostrum has had promising results in repairing gastrointestinal damage in both animals and humans. Using these therapeutics, Dr. Berkowitz found that patients’ overactive nervous systems seemed to calm down, improving their symptoms.

“People describe their system going 100 miles an hour,” he said, and when you calm that down, the body can then repair itself. “Repair doesn’t happen when the body’s in a stress state … since all the body’s resources are focused on just survival.”

Damaged Gut: Autoimmune Conditions

Gut problems have also long been associated with autoimmune diseases, and doctors treating vaccine-injured patients have reported similar findings.

Autoimmune problems typically manifest in leaky gut, often medically referred to as increased intestinal permeability. In a leaky gut, the mucous layer protecting the gut from microbes is broken down, and microbes can then infect the gut lining and nearby blood vessels.

“If the gut lining is disrupted, it’s kind of like [breaking down] a castle wall,” Dr. Saleeby said. “If it gets breached, then the enemy can get in.”

During this stressful time of invasion, if a virus or bacteria makes it in, infection occurs. If the invader is harmless, like a piece of peanut or a benign chemical, an allergic reaction manifests instead. The body starts attacking these foreign yet benign antigens and, in doing so, may harm itself, leading to autoimmune disease.

Dr. Berkowitz has found that many of his patients with overactive nervous systems and gut problems also test positive for autoantibodies, signaling a potential autoimmune disease.

“Nerve pain, fatigue, muscle and joint issues are probably the most common issues with these patients,” he said. Many also report skin problems such as rashes.

However, once prescribed treatment for their guts and nervous systems, the patients’ symptoms improve, and their antibody levels decline.

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