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Increased toxic metal exposures in our everyday life

Increased toxic metal exposures in our everyday life

Dr Nafysa Parpia talks with Dr. Lyn Patrick about where mercury & lead is found in
our modern lifestyle and how to easily test yourself

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It is an unfortunate reality that most people today have a high toxicant load in their body.

From pesticides, to wildfires, to modern home building practices, it is difficult to avoid. Even the simple fact of being born before 1990 means that could likely have high levels of lead in your system.

In this clip from Dr. Parpia’s interview of Dr. Lyn Patrick of Environmental Medicine Education International about detoxing, you can learn about how you are exposed to lead, mercury, and other toxins as well as how to test for them in your body.

Some topics covered in the video are:

      • The global body burden of lead and how it affects the immune system
      • Toxicants in home building such as lead, mold, & mycotoxins
      • Why Lyme is more prevalent in the U.S. now
      • The importance of seeing a doctor who is educated in environmental medicine
      • Mercury’s high levels in both inland and ocean caught wild fish, as well as high fructose corn syrup
      • The surprising way mercury is released into the air from wildfires
      • The federal government database for toxic exposure and how you can ask your doctor to test your own levels.
      • Dr. Parpia also addresses how a high toxic burden can inhibit immune function and your body’s ability to fight chronic infections like Lyme Disease. Most chronically ill patients have a very high toxicant load. Long term low level exposure to toxins can be a contributor to complex chronic illnesses.
Watch this 25 minute clip, or read the transcript below, to learn all the details.

Interview Transcript

Dr. Lyn Patrick

The reality of what we’re dealing with today is we have a significant toxic load. Anyone who was born before 1990 has a body burden of lead, just because of when they were born. In addition to all the other chemicals that are in our environment, we have this tsunami of both mold exposure and mycotoxin exposure as a result of residential and commercial building problems that we have with our building industry that allow for mold growth. And then we have Lyme disease, which is an ever-increasing epidemic as a result of global warming.

 I live in Colorado, and we never had ticks until two years ago. We now have a tick problem. We now have Lyme disease in Colorado. Even at high elevations, 9000 10,000 feet up in the air. It’s warm enough now to have ticks, and so we have a whole kind of a new problem that we’re having to deal with. This combination of toxicant exposure and chronic infection makes practicing Environmental Medicine even more challenging, so thus, even a greater need for that specialty education. But getting to today’s topic, which is detox. What is it?

Dr. Lyn Patrick  

I want to start out with just a little bit of my perspective on this. We know that the actual acknowledgement of environmental toxicant causing disease has been in medicine since the 40s and the 50s. We have pioneers in this area who are MD, medical doctors. Herbert Rinkle, Theodore Randolph, Dr. Randolph, who actually were some of the first doctors to realize that pesticides were hurting people. Remember DDT? We’ve had that available back in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and wasn’t even taken out of commerce until 1972. So, we have a long history of that toxicant and a lot of exposure. However, due to some pressure by the chemical companies, these doctors were basically not listened to. And their assertion that toxicants caused disease was really downplayed.

Even our very young, kind of modern father of Environmental Medicine, Dr. William Ray, who was a cardiothoracic surgeon, as well as running a hospital for environmental illness, or patients who had been environmentally poisoned, he also had a difficult time getting the attention in the medical profession. Certainly, because I think we’ve had this long standing and I want to say, an actual, overt and conscious kind of pressure from the chemical industry to downplay this relationship.

 So, for those of us that now are paying attention, even though this downplaying of the importance of our exposure to toxicants on a daily basis is still happening from, I’m sad to say, even the more astute and educated aspects of the conventional medical profession. I think there’s so much information out there about our exposure levels, that the general public is very clear that there is a constant and continuous exposure that we all have to chemicals every day, and that those chemicals alter our immune systems, our reproductive systems, our nervous systems, our endocrine systems, and basically every system of the body. There’s no system that gets away without being affected.

 Dr. Nafysa Parpia  

Right. The patients that I focus on have complex chronic illness. They come to us with long standing Lyme disease or tick-borne disease, mold, mycotoxin illness, and then those wastebasket terms. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, fibromyalgia, where the doctors don’t know why they have to put this label on the patient. Autoimmune conditions, for example…

 Dr. Lyn Patrick  

Depression that does not respond to standard treatment…

 Dr. Nafysa Parpia  

Exactly. Nervous system dysregulation, mast cell activation syndrome, most of my patients have all of this all at once. Of course, I’m testing their toxins, their environmental toxic loads. I’m looking for metals, I’m looking for pesticides, insecticides, glyphosate, and I’m looking for their infections. And of course, I’m seeing high environmental toxin loads in this patient population. Once I begin to detoxify them in a way that’s personalized for the patients, I can see that they’re actually able to handle treatment of the infections or sometimes even their infections start to go away. If I detox them first, though, that’s immune regulation right there, just by detox.

 Tell us about the research on environmental toxins and in their contribution to immune dysregulation and complex chronic illness.

 Dr. Lyn Patrick  

Where I would like to start is by telling everyone out there that the federal government, your tax dollars, funds the Center for Disease Control, which has a huge database of toxic exposure in the general population. You actually have access to this. It’s available to everyone. You can look it up. And I’m going to take you to what is called the National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. Now, this has been ongoing for two decades. It’s a huge amount of people every two years. They actually have huge buses that go out all over the country and collect urine and blood from people like you and me, large groups of people, 5000 people, 7000 people, and then they look in the blood and urine of those people for over 200 chemicals. And it’s in this database right here.

 So, if we go to this page, which is cdc.gov/exposurereport, and it’s the index for the exposure report, and we go to the actual data tables, which are in this beautiful, little searchable database right here, and we look for, oh, let’s say lead, that’s a good one. And we want to look for blood lead from the year 2011 to the year 2018. Those are the years in which data was actually collected from, as you can see, sample sizes as large as 8000 people. And that was for the years 2011 – 2012. We have actual information about blood lead on these individuals. Here’s the important thing we know from epidemiologic studies that have looked at this database for 19 years.

 There’s actually a recent study that was published in Lancet Public Health by Dr. Bruce Lamphere, who is a career public health epidemiologist. He specializes in blood lead poisoning in children. We know that levels as high as 2.3, 2.6… I’m going to say 2.6, increased risk for dying of a heart attack, or dying of a stroke significantly. Dying of a stroke was more than twice the risk. Just having a blood lead level over 2.6. Now, what I’m going to show you here is that there’s a significant amount of the population that has a blood level over 2.6. They are here in this group. And you can see that. 3.16 back in 2011, up to 2.4.  2.4 is the average, and it goes all the way up to 2.6. The 95th percentile just means the top 5% of the population.

 Now, when you go in to get your blood drawn, and you say, “Hey, I was born before 1990. And I just saw this webinar where this doctor talked about this, (and I have people in academic centers that have agreed with me on this.) that anyone born before 1990 has a significant body burden of lead that increases their risk from dying of cardiovascular disease. I want my blood lead level drawn please.” It is a test you have access to, every lab in the world does it, and it will cost about $50 out of pocket if your insurance doesn’t cover it.

 Dr. Lyn Patrick  

Your physician may say, “I have no idea why you want that. I’ve never read that study.” And that’s because most doctors don’t read the studies, they have no time to read the medical literature, and toxicology, environmental toxicology, toxic metal research is not their thing. But it is true that everyone around the globe has a body lead burden historically, because we put lead in paint. We put lead in gasoline, and when gasoline was combusted, or paint chips became dust that created a global burden of lead. So, it’s in the atmosphere, and it’s in the soil. And it is in old buildings that were built before 1982.

This is a government database that has over 200 chemicals in it. So, if you’re exposed to a chemical, you can get a pretty good idea of what the average American level is in terms of blood or urine. Not hair, and not stool, and not tissue. The CDC doesn’t measure those, but they definitely measure blood and urine. This is an open access database. I don’t have any secret passwords. Everyone has access to this. Every physician has access to this. They just don’t know how to use it. And they don’t know how to interpret the data in it. That’s what we teach our doctors to do. So that when they do have patients that they suspect, for example, I’ll give you a great example of a patient. A woman who had an old home, she has several, four children, ages 2 – 15. She had painters come to paint her home because the paint was chipping and they really needed to repaint the entire outside of the home.

 According to the law, when you have an old home and you’re going to repaint it, you have to bag that home. You literally put a plastic bag around it, so that all of the dust from the paint that you’re sanding off gets captured, because that dust could have lethal levels of lead in it. So, the company was not up to snuff in terms of following the law. And they did not bag the house. There was a lot of dust that was breathed in by her and her entire family. During that week, when the entire house, a big two-story house, was sanded, her blood pressure went up significantly. One of her children became very sick. He got headaches, he was lethargic, he got stomach aches. Because she was paying attention, she took her entire brood into the physician and forced them to do blood testing. Her lead level was 45. Standard lead level is between 0.5 and 1.5. That’s the average here, you can see the geometric mean for 2017, 2018 is 0.7. So this was many, many, many times above the average. So, while she and her children had to actually be treated for lead toxicity, this is not an uncommon occurrence.

 Dr. Nafysa Parpia  

No, I see this in my patient population. In fact, I’ve had many patients come to me, they’re in a state of chronic Lyme, all of a sudden. It is likely that they had the tick bite a long time ago, but their immune system was able to keep that Lyme in check, as the immune system should be able to do that. But they lived in the house when it was being renovated, or they moved back in three days later.  I test their blood; the blood level is high. And I do some tests to look at chronic Lyme, I’m looking at T cell tests, not just antibody tests. Sure enough, they are fighting Lyme right now and they have a high blood lead. But they weren’t finding Lyme prior to moving back into the house.

 Dr. Lyn Patrick  

It’s really great that you bring this up Dr. Parpia. Because we think of lead in kind of toxicologic terms, right? It has the capacity for causing cardiovascular disease. There are neurologic or brain related problems with lead. They can cause abdominal pain as well in an acute setting. However, lead also has an effect on the immune system. There’s a great study done in Poland, where they looked at levels of lead in utero, so in moms who were pregnant, and then they followed those children up until they were nine years old. The children that were born to the moms who had the highest level of blood lead had significant risk for severe allergies. This was, I think, the study was done in the 90s. A little while ago, but not that long ago.

This is a connection that most doctors don’t make, that these toxic exposures are immune toxicants and affect the immune system. The reason I brought up the mercury tables here is that this is another metal commonly found high especially in patients who eat fish. The US Forest Service did a study of all the inland lakes and streams in the United States in 2011. They published the study, and they found out that 50% of all the fish, we’re not talking about the big ocean tuna, or the big ocean shark or other big ocean fish that are high in mercury, like swordfish. These are inland fish like trout and bass. They found out that 50% of the inland fish had levels of mercury or a chemical called PCBs that were higher than the allowable EPA level in fish.  And this includes wild fish.

 Dr. Nafysa Parpia  

My patients will say to me, “I’m eating wild fish, though. Shouldn’t that take care of it?”

 Dr. Lyn Patrick  

These are all wild fish, stream reservoir and creek fish. I paid attention to that, because I was very tuned in to fish as a source of mercury. So here we are, again, the Environmental Protection Agency as an agency, you can see levels of mercury in people are rising. They’re not going down over time. If you look at the population from 2009 to 2010, which sadly, is the latest data that we have, it’s 10 years old, you’ll see that in the top 5% of the population, levels of mercury are over the safe level that the EPA actually allows for blood mercury. So, 5.0, and this is microgram per liter, whole blood, is the top. In other words, you can have blood mercury over 5.0. But there you’ve got it. 5% of the American population is actually mercury toxic.

 Now, as a physician, I know that the data shows me that levels as low as 1.0, which is somewhere in here, between the 50th and the 75th percentile, so at least 25% of the population has blood mercury levels high enough that it can alter thyroid function. We know that thyroid disease, autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves’ disease, or autoimmune thyroiditis is a huge problem in the United States of America, as it is around the world. Mercury is one of the toxicants that is involved in autoimmune thyroiditis. And so here, we have evidence from a government database, that mercury exposure in the United States population is significant enough that 25% of the population could be having symptoms of toxicity, at least from an autoimmune standpoint, as the result of their exposure to mercury through fish.

 I’m not going to talk about amalgam fillings, because that’s a whole nother sticky wicket. It’s not that it doesn’t cause problems. But that’s very hard to diagnose, from a medical standpoint. That mercury doesn’t end up in the blood, it ends up in the urine, but there’s no direct correlation between having an amalgam filling and having a blood urine level. 

So, you wanted data, this is a huge, huge database. Look at this. In 2009 – 2010, 8700 people in the study. You know, when we look at statistics, we always want to try and figure out as scientists, what is the necessary population that we need to study? How many people do we need to study to get statistical significance? And if you look in medical literature, you know, a huge study is considered 5000 people. Huge study! Most studies are 200, 300, 400 people. This is almost 9000 individuals. Repeated, these are not the same individuals every year, it’s a different population. So, you’re really looking at 32,000 individuals studied over the period of 10 years.

 Dr. Nafysa Parpia  

Most of my patients are Mercury’s hovering in the 90th, 95th,  above. They’re lucky if it’s 75th percent when they’re coming to me. Remember, my patients have complex chronic illness, and they’ve got autoimmune conditions. And so, I’m seeing this in the trenches with the patients.

 Dr. Lyn Patrick  

I believe because of your locality, being in California, which is more of a fish-eating population than Kansas or Indiana or landlocked states, that don’t have a lot of water bodies, you are looking at patients that may be exposed through their dietary intake.

One thing I’ll mention, just because no one ever talks about this. High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener, right? It is used a lot in a tremendous variety of foods, everything from instant oatmeal to barbecue sauce. I was one of the authors on this paper. We published a study looking at the mercury in high fructose corn syrup because of the manufacturing technologies that are used. Mercury is actually used in the manufacturing of high fructose corn syrup. It is another dietary item that is contaminated, not on purpose, but contaminated nonetheless with inorganic mercury.  We actually published that study. I worked with a bench researcher at the Food and Drug Administration who was very concerned about this. We actually sent a sample of high fructose corn syrup into NIST, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, to get it measured. They actually corroborated that these samples of high fructose corn syrup were contaminated with mercury. So you may also be seeing that. A population that’s eating a lot of high fructose corn syrup.

 Dr. Nafysa Parpia  

A lot of our patients come from all over the country actually. So for even the ones from California, still, I’m seeing that. But one thing I’m seeing in California since a fire season has developed, that started over the past four or five years, we didn’t have fire season before. Now it’s every year without fail, unfortunately. I’m seeing mercury levels higher in people than I did before. I was researching the reasons for that.

 Dr. Lyn Patrick  

There’s a reason for that, as you know. I guess we have to talk about it. Conifers, trees that have needles, like ponderosa pine trees, my area has a lot of ponderosa pine trees, actually will take up mercury from the soil. Well, to start, where does mercury come from? When coal is burned in plants that are making electricity, that coal contains mercury from the earth, from 1000s of years of compression. Mercury does exist as a metal in the earth. When the coal is burned, that mercury is released, especially in China, where the scrubbers on the electric plants are not that great, the coal burning electric plants, and it actually floats all the way across the Pacific Ocean and lands in California, as well as other parts of the United States and Canada. Conifers will take up that mercury and actually store it in their needles.

 An amazing researcher from the University of Washington actually was able to trace the release and movement of mercury from wildfire smoke into the atmosphere. So sadly, I think that our recent spate of wildfire smoke exposure that’s been happening since 2015 across the West, has released more airborne mercury. We do take that in atmospherically. We breathe that in, and it does stay in our bodies once we’re exposed to it.

 I think you brought up a really important, this whole topic now of the complication that all physicians are seeing, whether they deal with it or not, is the complication of daily exposure to toxicants. And either the resurgence of what were well controlled chronic infections, or new chronic infections as a result of these exposures, because they’re immune toxicants, as well as continued exposure to mold and mycotoxins from building.

 Dr. Nafysa Parpia  

It’s a big deal for these patients.

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Protecting Your Health during Wildfire Smoke Season

Protecting Your Health during Wildfire Smoke Season

Drs Eric Gordon and Nafysa Parpia talk about what you need to know
to stay healthy with smoke in the air

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Every year, the wildfire season is affecting more and more people. Smoke from fires can travel thousands of miles, carrying with it heavy metals, molds, and mycotoxins.

The first point of entry into the body is through skin, sinuses, and lungs. This exposure can have acute symptoms such as:

  • Lung irritation
  • Eye irritation
  • Sinus irritation
  • Skin irritation

In some people, acute symptoms can even become chronic, causing secondary inflammation that can affect the GI, brain, heart, liver, kidneys – all the organs and the immune system!

In our wildfire webinar, we covered:

  • Things you can do in your home to protect yourself
  • Personal protective strategies
  • How acute symptoms can become chronic
  • Symptoms we see in our patients who have had prolonged exposure including brain fog, lung weakness, sinusitis, and more
  • The trends we are seeing, including higher heavy metal loads
  • Who might be at most risk
  • The intersection of acute COVID and COVID Long Haul and wildfire smoke
  • Q&A with live participants

Don’t miss the Q&A at the end, where Dr. Gordon and Dr. Parpia go deeper into what the consequences of wildfire means for the chronically ill, and for everyone.

But the good news is that we’ve been working with this population for so long that we have some answers.

As a reminder, you need to take wildfire smoke seriously – we have seen so many people with underlying inflammation who can go through months of brain fog and a flare of many other symptoms after smoke exposure.

Resources Mentioned in the Webinar

You can view the slides from the presentation here: https://gordonmedical.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Fire-Season-and-Your-Health.pdf

Webinar Transcript

Dr. Eric Gordon – Welcome, everyone. Unfortunately, fire season is now a season. This is not good news for all of us. But it’s what we have. And there’s plenty of things to do to help protect ourselves. We’re going to do our best to give you some ideas and talk a little bit about what the risks are. We’re not looking to create fear. We just want to be real, so we can really take care of ourselves.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia – Welcome. We’re just so happy to have you here with us.

Dr. Eric Gordon 00:39

Yes. And of course, that’s Dr. Nafysa Parpia.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  00:44 

So, there are a lot of chemicals released when trees, houses and everything else burns. We’re here to talk to you about, about that, how to protect yourselves,

Dr. Eric Gordon  00:56 

…and what we have to worry about. There is lots of stuff that happens when you burn things. But what we’re most particularly concerned about, probably number one, is what’s called the fine particles. These are the ones that are less than 2.5 microns in diameter. The bigger ones, the 5-10 microns often are trapped in our nose in our upper airway, so they can be irritating, but it’s the smaller ones that can get into the lungs and cause inflammation. The problem with these things is they’re very light, and they can drift thousands of miles away from their original source. 

When bulldozers are creating firebreaks, they wind up disturbing that first few inches of soil. And this can launch these particles into the air. Unfortunately, they can contain mercury, and, and even mold. That was one of the surprises they found from the fires down south, how much mold got released into the air. And most of it was from the bulldozing,

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  02:09

I have to say that soon after fire season, I started seeing elevations in people’s blood lead, and blood mercury. Just the acute exposures is what I’m talking about. Mercury is likely higher in people’s blood now post-fire season, because certain trees draw up the mercury that unfortunately was polluted into the soil. So, the trees carry it. And when those trees get burned, that mercury gets released into the air again, and also lead from houses that were built before 1978. When they are burned down, that lead gets released. And sure enough, I’m seeing these two metals elevated for people in blood and the urine. 

This slide talks about the acute impact on the sinuses and the lungs. The acute impact would be from exactly where the smoke enters: the skin, the eyes, and the lungs, of course. So, the first symptoms you’re going to experience would be a runny nose, throat irritation, coughing, sneezing congestion.  I’m sure you’ve all experienced that if you’ve been in fire season. Then, of course, into the eyes, you can get itchy eyes and skin irritation. So, the first point of entry. Of course, these can then become chronic issues. We start here, though. 

Dr. Eric Gordon  03:46

Okay, that is the coarse particles. As I said, the 5-10 microns, they can deposit the upper respiratory tract, but the smaller ones get deeper into your lungs. Then the issue we really have is that the inflammation isn’t localized to the sinuses and lungs. Once you have an area that’s inflamed, it has a system wide effect. The cytokines, these inflammatory chemicals, those all are a system-wide, a body-wide effect. We’ve seen this in our patients for years, but especially with long COVID. When even though there’s very little evidence that there’s actually virus in the central nervous system, but there are the markers of inflammation are elevated in the central nervous system and in the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). We know that inflammation any part of the body creates systemic issues.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  04:50

Okay, to talk about the systemic impact of wildfire health smoke, which is often forgotten by laypeople and medical practitioners as well, is that we often get focused on the organ that’s making the most noise at the time. Maybe it’s the lungs in wildfire smoke. We might focus on that. For some people it might be the gut, but we must remember that inflammation is a body wide process. If the irritant is affecting a particular organ, that will be the most obvious sign or symptom. But when we measure the inflammatory communication molecules, the inflammatory cytokines, we see that they’re upregulated throughout the whole system, they’re not just organ specific. They’re upregulated throughout the bloodstream, and affecting all the organs to a greater or lesser degree.

Dr. Eric Gordon  05:49

Basically, the thing we’re concerned about is, obviously the acute exposure, but also the fact that these chemicals and toxins set the immune system off and increase our susceptibility to other infections, not just upper respiratory things. The inflammation affects the respiratory system, but also the cardiovascular and the neurologic systems. We saw it in studies coming out of Mexico City, actually, and other places since then, that exposure to particulate matters and smog cause premature atherosclerosis, even in young people, and also premature degenerative dementias, or maybe they don’t quite make dementia. They’re not seen in the person yet, because these are often very young people that unfortunately have died in car accidents and such. But in the brain, there are signs that would that would be considered consistent with dementia in older people.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  06:57

If someone has long-haul COVID, or they might even be in acute COVID during a fire or during fire season, and then their susceptibility is increased. We see this with our patients, whether they’re in COVID, or long COVID, or they have chronic tick-borne illness. They’re more susceptible during fire season. 

There are small particles that can settle deep in the lungs. These are 2.5 or smaller microns. The smallest particles are less than 0.1 microns. They can get from the lungs right into the bloodstream. These are the ones that irritate the immune system. There are studies showing an increase of autism near highways, because when the tires go at high speed, and the rubber breaks down, that creates toxins that are tiny particles. This is shown in research. And in experiments, they’ve seen that these turn on the level of NF Kappa B genes. These are the genes that increase our self-protective mechanisms, and particularly increase TNF-alpha, interleukin six, interleukin eight and other inflammatory cytokines. 

Now, these inflammatory cytokines would produce transient inflammation, which is the first part of the healing cycle. We need these inflammatory cytokines in the beginning of an insult, whether it’s these toxins or perhaps an infection. It’s when these just keep going on, when it’s not a transient inflammatory cytokine rush anymore. People can be stuck with a rush of inflammatory cytokines. If you really have long COVID, COVID, or the illnesses that we deal with, that our patients deal with, and you’re susceptible, you’re more susceptible to inflammatory cytokines just not being transient anymore. They’re stuck in a loop when you’re in a fire or we have smoke exposure.

Dr. Eric Gordon  09:15

So, we measure the inflammatory cytokines and we see that’s one of the signs that people have chronic diseases. Our concern is that, there was a study published actually from Harvard last year that showed the elevated levels of the fine particle pollution that we’re talking about, that actually probably lead to increased symptomatic COVID. And also probably increased in the people who were severe the chance of them winding up in the hospital, because, again, it’s an additive process.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  10:01

Preparing to minimize your wildfire smoke exposure can prevent a further exacerbation of prolonged persistence of acute COVID or post COVID long-haul. And also, I’m going to say, in our experience, tick-borne disease and mycotoxin illness. There certainly is an intersection between wildfire smoke, and COVID. And wildfire smoke and complex chronic illness. 

Dr. Eric Gordon  10:37

The people who are most affected by wildfire smoke, are, of course, anybody who’s already inflamed, because it’s not good for any of us. But the ones who are at higher risk really should be more careful during fire season. The most vulnerable people are those with chronic illnesses, and respiratory or cardiac symptoms. Even things like diabetes, because we often forget that that also is chronic inflammation. And, of course, we have to worry more about pregnant women and fetuses, because again, the immune system is shifting during pregnancy, and you are a little more susceptible to the dangers of acute smoke exposure. The very young and the very elderly, also, again, have been to do with modulation of the immune system. 

But our biggest concern are the people who work outdoors, and especially the people who like to exercise outdoors. We’ve seen too many people running around when there’s smoke or when the air is unsafe, and this is something to really be careful about. We’ll talk more in further slides. In the last two years, unfortunately, we have the whole issue of COVID, long-haul COVID, vaccine injury. These are all people who unfortunately, the wildfire smoke may trigger.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  12:12

We want to consider SNPs, there’s a lot. You’ll see a list of some SNPs, which are single nucleotide polymorphisms. These are just small changes in the makeup of your genes. We all have them. It’s about how they express biochemically. Some can make your enzymes work faster, some can make your enzymes work slower. Then there’s some SNPs that deal with glutathione metabolism and the ability for glutathione to act as a as a detoxifier. That’s limited in some people. There are some genes that increase reactive oxygen species and some that decrease them. 

So, there’s this combination of genes that can cause some of us to become more susceptible to environmental toxins, including those from wildfire smoke, and for some of us to be less susceptible. We don’t think that everybody has to measure their genes. We think it’s great information to have, if you want it, it gives us some insight. But we do think about these things as a way to understand why some people will be susceptible and some won’t. Why there’s variability in people’s responses.

Dr. Eric Gordon  13:37

So, we learned a lot about inflammation, having worked with patients with inflammatory diseases for a long time. We see that exposures to things like mycotoxins, the first thing is to minimize exposure. Unfortunately, we can’t leave for fire season, or most of us can’t. What we need to do is prepare our homes and our bodies. 

I think the first thing is just preparing your home. This is one time when a really tight house is useful. I think a lot of people have developed some environmental illness problems because we may have houses way too tight for many years trying to keep warm. We have problems with indoor air pollution because of that. A tight house and a gas stove and gas cooking are probably not a great thing. But during fire season, a tight house is a good idea. You need that protection. Make sure the windows and doors are sealed, the vents are closed, and use your air conditioning or heating. 

Minimize what you do in the house. Don’t burn candles. Don’t use gas stoves if you can avoid it. Watch out for even simple things like vacuuming, probably not a good idea. If you need to vacuum something, a small handheld HEPA vacuum might be the best. But swiffers during fire season are your best bet. Because anything that disturbs the airflow in your home may move toxins or particulate matters that have settled down around the floor. Using a swiffer is the best way to clean that up.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  15:34

You really want to have a good HEPA filter on your central air or central heat so you can be filtering your indoor air. These are recirculating units, so they’re not bringing outside air in when you’re using them. You wanted to try a HEPA filter that’s equivalent to a MERV 17. This will help maximize your indoor air quality. A good idea is to consult with your HVAC providers. We also like to have small room filters as well. They’re very, very helpful. We like Air Doctor and IQ Air, and there are others as well. 

Also, you want to make sure that your antioxidant system is well balanced. 

Before we talk about any supplements, there’s just so much that you can do that doesn’t cost anything. You want to pay attention to your local air quality ratings. This way you’re going to know your risks. I like the AirCare app, one that tells you when to limit your outdoor activities and minimize outdoor exertion. I’ve seen just way too many people running in the smoke. I want to tell them, “Don’t do that!” Running in the smoke is just too much too much impact on the lungs. 

 Wear an N95 mask if you have to go outside. Or if you’re highly susceptible. Maybe you have long COVID. Maybe you are chronically inflamed, because you’ve got chronic tick-borne illness. For example, if you need to go outside you want to consider a half mask, a respirator with the P-100. Cartridge. This is a big deal. It’s a big thing. If you’re susceptible, you want to use that. The N95 will protect you from about 95% of the particles. The P-100 cartridge protects you from 99.8% of the particles and it also filters out oil based particles. 

You want to keep your indoor air as clean as possible. As we discussed in earlier webinars, you want to make sure that you’re drinking only filtered water.

Dr. Eric Gordon  18:01

So, supplementation. We all take supplements. I should say that most of us take supplements. a lot of the times. Probably in the past, when food was food, and we exercised in our regular life, and stress was not as consistent, maybe we didn’t need as many supplements. But these days, I think supplementation is probably needed, and especially in the wildfire season. It increases the emotional stress, and the physical stress of inhaling the smoke also is a great producer of free radicals. 

No one supplement is going to work for everyone. Once you’ve got your basics: that healthy organic diet, maximizing fresh foods, minimizing the packaged foods. And remember, no matter how healthy and wonderful packaged foods sound, they’re not the same thing as fresh food. 

In the better part of the year, when there’s no smoke, increasing the physical activity as much as your body can deal with. There’s nothing like that to have your body’s ability to create and also get rid of the reactive oxygen species, which is part of being healthy. Unfortunately, a lot of the patients that we see just can’t be physically active enough to really push their systems. So, we have to supplement. 

Some of the basics that I think that everyone should be making sure they’re getting is basic B vitamins, but especially vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D, and things like N-acetyl cysteine (NAC). It’s inexpensive. Many people do well with using glutathione supplementation, but that can get expensive. And N-acetyl cysteine is helpful right there. Broccoli extracts with the sulfurophanes will help your body be able to detox some of the other chemicals a little bit better.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  20:19

And last, but not least, is your mental and emotional wellbeing. Allow yourself to process your emotions. Fire season can be a very emotionally difficult time. Especially if you’ve lost your home. And even if you haven’t lost your home, your loved ones may have lost their home, while you’re walking around in this twilight. It’s intense. Seek spiritual solace, whatever that means to you. Some people pray, some people meditate, some people sing, some people just use grounding with the earth. Whatever it is that that helps uplift you. Be sure to do that as much as you can. Make sure that you’re connecting with friends, family, community as much as you can as well. We can’t stress how important the emotional and mental wellbeing for everybody is during such a stressful time. With this global pandemic, we’re all are in global trauma. We’re all going through with this pandemic. And now on top of it, fire seasons. 

Dr. Eric Gordon  21:35

I’m hoping that we can do some question and answers, because there’s some other things that people can do for personal protection that I think I’d like to get into. 

Someone asked a good question: Would someone with that with the glutathione s-transferase M1 deletion need to protect their health? 

Well, again, the probably NAC will help, and also the broccoli extracts. Remember, the good thing about the body is that it’s redundant. Everything it has, you know, the glutathione s-transferase M1 is a very common SNP. You’re not doomed if you have it. Supporting the other aspects of glutathione by making sure you have more and making sure that you have adequate vitamin C and vitamin E, you will be able to get around that.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  22:43

You also want to have the cofactors that help with your methylation system onboard. Amino acids, minerals, selenium, magnesium, for example. I want to also have molybdenum onboard. All of these are cofactors. B vitamins for your detoxification system to actually work. If you have some deletions in your glutathione snips, maybe you have one, maybe you have a couple, your body has a more difficult time detoxing. All of a sudden, you’re in fire season, your toxin load has increased. If you add glutathione, it could be difficult for you. So, you want to make sure that you shore up on all of these cofactors. I like to test the cofactors on my patients. Sometimes you don’t need to. That test is expensive. You can just take some vitamins and minerals.

Dr. Eric Gordon  23:43

I think what Dr. Parpia was saying that was so important, is this idea of supporting the whole system, because very few of us have SNPs that leave us in mortal risk. There are snips that can do that. But those are illnesses that usually will get you really ill or kill you before you’re ten. Those of us who make it past ten fairly healthy, we have pathways that get around any of these SNPs. That’s the important thing to remember. They’re not your future. You’re going to always be sick because you have a SNP.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  24:30

Patients come in, they say, “I’m doomed! I have this SNP.” That’s not true. You do have other genes that can get around where you have the SNPs. But we do think that the genes are important. And like I said, if you do have issues with methylation or with glutathione SNPs, you want to find ways to support that, which is using the cofactor support.

Dr. Eric Gordon  26:29

Question: Can you go into more detail about how inflammation can spread throughout the whole body? 

Basically, how our system works is that when you create inflammation, local inflammation is never just a local event. It is mediated by your immune system. The first neutrophils, or the white blood cells, that are in the area where something is irritated, they quickly start releasing chemicals called cytokines and chemokines. So especially chemokines, these signals would call other white blood cells, especially your macrophages, and then in time your T-cells and B-cells. So, it’s a system wide event. Usually, the body is pretty good. If it’s a very mild inflammation, infection, or irritation, the body’s able to contain that noise. So even though you’re releasing some of these chemicals, they’re very low amounts. 

Things people talk a lot about, IL-6, IL-8, IL-4, these are some of the ones that help trigger the systemic signs of illness, such as fever and fatigue and malaise. But they have to get quite high to do that. So mild, not a big problem. But if the inflammation is significant in the lung, it’s signaled throughout the body, and these inflammatory chemicals are floating there, and ricocheting off each other. Basically, that’s what vaccine reactions and post and long COVID, probably is predominantly. Long COVID, there could be some element of clotting, but there’s a lot of just persistent immune activation. 

Now, when the body’s working the way we want it, as soon as you start to get inflammation going, you also start shutting it down. And it’s those breaks that often aren’t working when we develop chronic illness. Sometimes it’s because a chronic trigger is still persistent. That would be like if you were living in an ongoing polluted environment, you would have a low level of persistent inflammation. 

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  29:32

Question:  Are you still doing glutathione nebulizers for smoke?

Yes, we are. We do find that nebulized glutathione is very, very helpful. So yes, but that’s for our patients that we see.

Dr. Eric Gordon  30:02

Somebody else was asking a question that applies to that.  

Question: How do we get the things that are stuck in our lungs out? 

Well, the good part is that the lung is very good at cleaning itself. Some of the very tiny particles, they can lodge there, sometimes forever. But most of the time, our lungs are able to slowly move them out. They can be absorbed into the body, sometimes, because you have macrophages and lots of other immune cells, eaters, these little cells that can take up foreign things, and get them into the circulation and then into the lymph and then get them out of us.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  30:51

I want to go back to the question. So, when do we use nebulized glutathione, what Eric was talking about was very important. And the nebulized glutathione helps to prevent that. We’ll see people who have inflammation in their lungs, and we have them do a trial. These are our patients, have them do a trial of nebulized glutathione in the office first, before we have them do it at home. You don’t want to just get a nebulizer and do it at home without instruction from your doctor because you’ve got to make sure you’re doing it the right way.

Dr. Eric Gordon  31:23

More importantly, very rarely, there are some people who get a flare of asthma with glutathione. It’s a rare thing. But it can happen, depends how your body metabolizes some of the prostaglandins that can be turned on. 

Question: Now, the other part of the question that this person had was the levels of dampness or dryness affecting the lung mucosa. And also, the effects of how the smoke and fire-retardant chemicals for the fire stick in the lungs. 

As I said, we depend on the lungs surfactant, and a lot of the lung’s immune system is just that. Is being able to basically eat or move things up into the mucous and expel it. That’s what our system is pretty good at doing. Extremes of dryness and moisture can affect the lungs. Very, very dry air, of course, will make things harder. Very, very moist air generally isn’t too much of a problem for the lungs, they can they can deal with that.  

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  32:52

But, with extreme moist air also comes mold issues. After fire season, we’ve seen a lot of mold issues come up as well. People are more susceptible because of the inflammation due to the fires. I would say that N-acetyl cysteine helps a lot in loosening up the mucus. The glutathione will help with bringing the inflammation down. And yes, you mentioned the breathing exercises. Those are really going to help as well. Some people though, they can’t even do breathing exercises because it’s so intense. This is when the nebulization of glutathione is very, very helpful. And then if these persist after fire season is over, then I’m definitely assessing my patients for mold and mycotoxin illness because it is connected to the fire season, unfortunately.

Dr. Eric Gordon  33:55

People are asking about nebulizing NAC, and that can be nebulized as well. Again, it’s the same concern. There’s something about the sulfur, because NAC is cysteine, which is a sulfur containing amino acid that can trigger asthma in some people. It’s very uncommon.  I looked into this the first anthrax scare we had. I was part of a group writing a paper about natural treatments for anthrax exposure. Anyway, we found this out, and so we’ve been careful with these inhaled sulfur compounds just because of this possibility. So don’t do it at home the first time. 

Other people are asking about other things to nebulize safely. I think the most important thing to remember is, you really should be talking to your physician before you do these things, because unless you’re a chemist, you can easily make a mistake in the concentration of what you’re doing. And the poison is in the dose. What’s just so important for people to remember is that you can really hurt yourself with using very safe things at the wrong dose. You can read about it, but please, be careful.

We’re in this crazy world right now, where many good ideas die because people do them inappropriately. Then the media and the mainstream medical establishment, which doesn’t look at these things, then just uses it as a bad example to trash the whole system. Be careful. Don’t just try anything. 

Question: Somebody asked about premature people. 

I don’t know for sure. But, you know, when babies are born prematurely, they do have inadequate surfactant in the lungs. That usually repairs, but I’m not sure if it repairs completely. So, I would have to have you talk to a pediatrician about that. 

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  36:46

Question: Our brand of N-acetyl cysteine?

 I like to use Pure Encapsulations or Integrative Therapeutics. 

Dr. Eric Gordon  36:57

My advice about supplements is that if it’s an expensive supplement, then you want to make sure that you’re buying it from a reputable manufacturer and a reputable place. Cheap supplements, you can be pretty sure you’re probably going to get what’s on the label. Expensive supplements you buy on Amazon, you may not be getting it because there’s money to be made. So, a little buyer beware there for the real expensive stuff. 

Question: Please compare the air purifiers.

This is a question I wanted to do a deep dive on. But the deeper I went, the less I felt I knew. Even the people that we work with, who are specialists in Environmental Medicine, and I’m talking about the people who come and inspect houses, and this is their life. They don’t agree on what the best air purifiers are. We mentioned two brands, because we were fairly comfortable with these. The experts in the field, they feel that these two do a good job. But the thing about air purifiers for the home, they only work in one room pretty much, even if they say they’re good for 1500 square feet. If there’s a wall between you and the air purifier, it’s not doing much in the other room. Because it really takes air circulation. 

The other thing to be aware of, it’s good if you can to move it around a little bit, because you set up air currents in the house. If you keep everything running the same way, you can wind up clearing only part of the air. They’ve seen this with rooms they filled with smoke (for testing) and you have an air purifier. You can have a few feet that are clear of smoke, but there’s still smoke above and below. So, it’s good to have a little bit of airflow in the room. You don’t want to put in a very large fan, because again, that’s going to stir up particulate matter that might have settled during this fire season. 

One last thing is one of the experts that I talked to did recommend the IQ Air Atem. It’s a very small air purifier. It’s about the size of a dinner plate. And you can use that for people who are very sensitive, just near your face when you’re sitting at a desk for long periods of time or when you’re sleeping. It’s a very good HEPA filter and at least it will reduce your direct exposure. Especially if you have your house fairly clean. This could take it to the next level for you.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  39:44

Question: What about breathing exercises?

 There is an Ayurvedic breathing exercise that can help the lungs and also the thyroid. You want to take a deep inhale for five counts. Look up for three, come back to center for three, and then exhale for five. That is said to help with the thyroid and the lungs. 

Question: How about sinus issues?

The sinuses are located very close to the brain. There’s a nerve, it’s called the olfactory nerve, and it hooks right beneath, right behind the sinuses, going literally into the brain. Now, we know that mycotoxins can cross the blood brain barrier, and inflammatory cytokines can cross the blood brain barrier. And I’m not sure if some of these particles from the fires can. Maybe they can, maybe they can’t. But I know that the inflammation that they cause can cross the blood brain barrier via the olfactory nerve. A lot of our patients have sinus infections. And now after fire season, they’re more susceptible to these infections, because it’s more inflamed up in there. And it’s drier, and the drier it is, the more infections, the more infection prone, we are in our sinuses. And so, we want to make sure that we do treat the sinuses.

This is complex, it’s definitely not a one size fits all treatment. We do test our patients to see what infections are in there. It could be bacteria, funguses, biofilm, or MARCoNS, which is common in our patients. Inevitably, there are those infections there. I’m seeing layers of infections in people’s sinuses lately. It has a major impact on the health of the brain. How to treat it? I can’t give you a protocol right here, right now. Because I don’t know you, and I don’t know what your issues are in your sinuses. I don’t know what bugs you have in there. But definitely I work to bring inflammation down in the sinuses first. Could be with nebulized glutathione. Then I’m working to kill the infections. Maybe I’m nebulizing, an antibiotic or some herbs. And then I’m using neuroimmune peptides to bring inflammation down. Afterwards. Maybe I’m using RG3 to help with the mitochondria of the brain. That’s not a peptide, but it certainly helps with that. Or maybe using C like or, or Semax. Those are peptides that that are neuroimmune stabilizers. What I found is if you’re using those peptides first, it doesn’t help so much. You want to bring down the inflammation and kill those infections in the sinuses first, and then bring on the neuropeptides. 

Dr. Eric Gordon  43:13

Just to reinforce that, the problem of this new season we have, this fire season is with people who have a tendency to sinusitis or just sinus congestion.  If you feel pressure in your face regularly, and you can’t breathe through your nose intermittently, you’ve got an issue there. Many of us just live with it. But as Dr. Parpia was saying, is it can affect your cognitive function too. I’ve been surprised ever since I’ve watched Dr. Parpia really treat the sinuses aggressively, how much it helps people with brain fog, who have improved without us doing a whole lot else. 

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  43:59

Because the olfactory nerve connects to the hypothalamus. That’s the master regulator of your hormones, so it’s going to affect your hormones when you have sinus issues. It’s going to affect even adrenal output. You could become moody, you could have brain fog because of the sinuses. What I have to say about the sinuses is really, really important. Once we treat the sinuses, very often that brain fog is going to lift or it’s easier to then treat the hormones. They start to balance even more as well.

Dr. Eric Gordon  44:38

Question: What type of tests do you use? 

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  44:44

It’s by Microbiology DX. Yes, and it’s a swab. 

Dr. Eric Gordon  44:50

You can ask your doctor to order that. That’s an easy test to do and not very expensive. 

Question: Someone asked about the P-100 Mask.

No, it doesn’t deliver fresh oxygen. The P-100s are half masks. This is not something that most of us would need or use. But it’s very useful if you happen to have a really sensitive system. And God forbid, if we are in another one of those years, like we had in 2017. If you have heavy smoke, and you’re very sensitive, and have to go outside and do things, it’s probably worthwhile. For most of us who don’t have severe lung issues, or severe inflammatory issues, the N95, just to walk out and do things is probably fine. But minimize it. One important thing, don’t go out and, and do chores outside until that air quality gets into the good range. And even the good range is probably not so good. Below 50 is considered good. But really, good is probably below 10 or 20. But in this day and age, it’s sort of like many of our markers. We’ve normalized them for our abnormal world.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  46:19

Question: Any idea what parts of California, Oregon, Washington do not have these wildfire smoke exposure issues? This issue is becoming more and more common, which is why I asked.

I would say that these particles can travel for 1000s of miles in the air, then they go into the water. The water goes far. So even when there was Fukushima, those toxins were …. Eric, do you remember how far they went?

Dr. Eric Gordon  46:53

They came here. But luckily, a lot of them dropped out over the ocean. 

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  47:00

But toxins spread far. So, I don’t think that it’s limited to only certain areas of Washington or California, I think it’s widespread. And our patients come from all over the country.

Dr. Eric Gordon  47:10

I think it just depends where that fire is. And since fire can be anywhere, the fires in Washington affected us (in California). Obviously not as much as the fires here, the Camp Fire or the Tubbs Fire. 

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  47:26

I was saying is that our patients come from all over the country. And I’m seeing higher metals in people lately from all over or I’m seeing higher solvents in people from all over. Is it only because of the fires? I don’t know. But I think that yes, I think there’s a correlation.

Dr. Eric Gordon  47:48

The research that’s been done has been really helpful to show this. So unfortunately, I think just like global warming, it’s a global problem.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  48:20

Question: Someone says, I understand, just intuitively, that the direction winds tend to blow, that being at higher parts may be more safe.

Dr. Eric Gordon  48:33

God only knows. Wind blows everywhere. 

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  48:42

Question: What about the metals in vaccines?

There are some vaccines that have metals and there are some that are that don’t.

Dr. Eric Gordon  48:48

As far as I know, the COVID MRNA vaccines don’t have any, at least any significant levels that people have measured, especially with mercury. That was used to be our big thing. When you were giving kids their 20 or 30 shots, which are now more, and they had metals and they had mercury, it was significant. Now they’ve cut a lot of it out, but not all of it. And yes, some of the flu shots that people are getting have them. But again, I don’t think that’s why we’re seeing the increases across the board. The fires are probably the most efficient way to spread toxins. That’s what’s been so surprising and so upsetting to me is we do our best to try to live healthy and yet we’ve created a world that’s making those hard.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  49:44

Our patients go, “I eat organic. Why is this happening to me? I eat so healthy what’s going on?” When they look at their labs, they’re so disappointed to see the high metals and or to see the high chemicals. It’s not their fault. It is just by virtue of being on the planet right now. We were talking about the genes earlier. Many people, when you look at them, have SNPs in their genes of detoxification. So, when we look at someone’s SNPs, side by side with their toxins, there’s a lot of correlation that we see. When you look at that, their symptoms, and it all correlates.

Dr. Eric Gordon  50:22

I see a lot of people who are on really fairly strict organic diets, and yet, occasionally, their glyphosate is the highest we see. So, there’s something more happening. Probably it’s water and food storage that’s causing the problems, but it’s an exploration. It’s something that luckily, a lot of people are now beginning to pay attention to. Hopefully, we’ll get some really good research out there, and help us all help ourselves and each other.

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  50:55

To wrap it up, the big takeaways are that the fires can affect the sinuses. People have increased environmental toxicants, mercury, lead, pesticides, insecticides, solvents, and increased brain fog, due to the sinus issues. These are the chronic issues we’re seeing. We’re seeing COVID long-haul being exacerbated, we’re seeing complex, chronic illness being exacerbated. But the good news is that we’ve been working with this population for so long that we have some answers. I feel I feel grateful that we’ve been working with people who’ve been they’ve been so sick for so long and helping them along, I think that we can help with this new set.

Dr. Eric Gordon  51:59

Basically, what we’ve learned from chronic illness applies to just wellness. The most interesting thing is all these years, we felt we were just treating chronically ill people, and now we discover that healthy people respond to the same things, especially when they’re stressed. 

So, thank you all so much for your attention. 

Dr. Nafysa Parpia  52:34

Thank you.

Biotoxin Issues, Complex Chronic Illness, Detox + Toxins, Environmental Illness, Eric Gordon MD, Nafysa Parpia ND, Video Blogs

What Is Keeping You Ill?

Dr. Gordon talks about the unique approach he uses to heal his chronic patients.

The rising tide of chronic illness in our country today is a major cause of concern. It’s a growing epidemic that is only getting worse.

Episode Highlights

  • Dr. Gordon’s journey in medicine (01:48)
  • What is keeping you ill (04:17)
  • Public Health vs. Medicine (10:53)
  • Rebalancing the immune system (15:30)
  • All about Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (21:48)
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (28:01)
  • What your body is telling you (32:32)
  • How stress makes you sick but also gets you well (35:27)

Key Takeaways

Picture this, 60% of adults 18-65 years and 90% of adults above 65 years have at least one chronic illness.

Finding and treating the root causes by looking at the whole system will get us out of this deep chronic disease hole we find ourselves in.

But there is reason to feel encouraged…

There are many wonderful doctors that are doing some amazing work in empowering people to deeper, long-term healing. And on this podcast, we are determined to bring them to you.

We talk about a wide range of topics spanning from COVID, Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, and mast cell activation syndrome.

Dr. Gordon emphasizes that for most people with chronic illnesses, it is not the original bug that keeps them sick. It is their body’s compensation for the illness that is the problem.

Dr. Eric Gordon is the president of the Gordon Medical Research Center and the founder and owner of Gordon Medical Associates, specializing in complex chronic illnesses.

SHOW CONTRIBUTORS
Dr. Eric Gordon
Damon Ernst

Autoimmunity, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Complex Chronic Illness, Detox + Toxins, Environmental Illness, Eric Gordon MD, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), Podcasts