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Underlying Factors of Chronic Fatigue – Dr. Jill Interviews Dr. Nafysa Parpia

Dr. Jill interviews Dr. Nafysa Parpia on underlying factors causing chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

They discuss what goes wrong with the body, how the cell danger response can become chronically activated, and some tips on treatments and testing that is useful in these patients.

Key Takeaways

Pre-tox (before detoxification)

  • Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS) often needs to be treated first to allow patients to tolerate other treatments.
  • Peptide therapies can be used to calm down the immune system.
  • Correcting sleep issues is needed before detoxification can start. Herbs, supplements, peptides, and certain antihistamines can be used.
  • Constipation needs to be addressed.
  • Any issues with the kidneys need to be looked at.
  • Herbs may be used as supportive therapies.

Detoxification

  • Detoxification needs to happen prior to and concurrent with treating infections. If the toxic load is high detox will cause negative reactions or “herxes.”
  • Each person has their own individual picture of factors causing symptoms, and will respond differently to treatment than other patients. Genetics are a factor there.
  • Treatment needs to be individually designed in response to that picture.
  • Arsenic and aluminum are being seen more, possibly due to the wildfires.
  • Medication is often required for the patient population seen at GMA.
  • Things patients can do themselves: coffee enemas for the liver, saunas or other means of sweating, dry brushing, castor oil packs, oil pulling, avoid buying foods and personal care products, home care products, etc. that contain chemical and toxins, eat organic.

Causes Behind Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia

  • Pathogens are often involved: often parasites, viruses, tick-borne illnesses, mold, dental occult infections, sinus infections (fungal and MARCons).
  • With infections, you not only have to treat the infection but also restore the system.
  • Heavy metals
  • Infections and toxins hijack the system.
  • Hormone imbalances, especially sex hormones and thyroid.
  • GI imbalances and infections.

The Cell Danger Response

  • A monitoring system in the cell, modulated by the mitochondria, that looks for danger from pathogens, toxins, nutrient issues, emotional or physical stress, or other problems that can impact cell health.
  • In response to signals interpreted as dangerous, the cell sends out signals intended to create changes that protect the cell.
  • This response is happening all the time as the immune system watches for invaders. The problem is when the danger signal does not turn off, and the cell gets stuck in a defensive state.
  • The system gets stuck in this repeating loop of incomplete recovery and re-injury, and they’re unable to fully heal.
  • The CDR has three phases.
  • When CDR begins in enough cells you start to get symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, body aches and pains.
  • Part One involves the innate immune system. The neutrophils, the macrophages, natural killer cells, monocytes, the mast cells.
  • In Part One the mitochondria produces less ATP, exports the ATP outside the cell walls, and begins to depend on glucose for energy in anerobic respiration.
  • If someone gets stuck in Part One, you can see HPA axis issues, allergies, asthma, chronic infections.
  • Part Two is when we start to rebuild tissue damage through cell proliferation.
  • Mitochondria begin producing more ATP.
  • Someone stuck in Part Two may show proliferative disorders, cancers, hypertension, different heart diseases.
  • In Part Three the body is restoring intercellular communication.
  • Hormones and neurotransmitters are important in Part Three.
  • When stuck, we’re going to see illnesses like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia, autism spectrum disorder, PTSD, anxiety, depression.

Restoration

  • Chronic illness is traumatic
  • Regenerative treatments help restore balance

Transcript

This has been edited slightly for clarity and ease of reading.

Jill Carnahan (JC): Hello everybody! You’re here this afternoon with us and Dr. Nafysa, and I am so excited today about today’s topic.  I know a lot of you struggle with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. We’re going to do a really deep dive into some of the mechanisms behind that. You’re going to find some really fascinating information from Dr. Nafysa today that her practice, Gordon Medical Associates deals with and was actually instrumental in some of the research behind.  

So, stay tuned for that! Before we start, and before I give her a formal introduction, I want to just tell you a little bit of housekeeping. If you don’t already know, you can find all of these videos on my YouTube channel. Just go to YouTube and find my name, Jill Carnahan, and you can find all the 50 plus interviews there for free. I’d love if you subscribe or leave feedback there, or share those videos if you find them helpful. You can also re-watch them here on Facebook and on the podcast, so just all things medical here. If you do want information about blogs, information about Lyme disease, co-infections, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, other topics, you can find that on my website at jillcarnahan.com, and if we do mention any products or services, you can find those at drjillhealth.com.

So, Dr. Nafysa, I would love to formally introduce you, and I’m so glad you’re here today.  Dr Parpia has spent the last decade treating patients with complex chronic illness from all over the United States and the world. Her specialization is patients with tick-borne illness, environmentally acquired illness, mold and mycotoxin illness, autoimmunity, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue. Sounds real familiar! External factors to the body, such as environmental toxic burden, pathogens, diet, and lifestyle affect the balance of internal factors (and we’ll talk a little bit about that today); over or under expression of immunity, infection susceptibility, epigenetic expression, and cellular and biochemical function, mood and the microbiome.

All of these things are some of what we’re going to talk about that affect our mitochondria, which expresses fatigue, and some of these other things. Each of these aspects is different for every patient we see. Investigating to discover and remove the underlying cause while providing symptom relief, she uses cutting edge lab testing and deep intuition applied to the full range of scientific data to unravel the mystery of each patient. She then creates a carefully crafted treatment plan, highly personalized and healing.

She uses a synergistic blend of regenerative medicine, oral and IV micronutrient therapies, peptides, botanical medicine, pharmaceuticals, injection therapies, functional nutrition, and lifestyle counseling. She sees patients at Gordon Medical in the San Francisco bay area, and previously worked in Dr Klinghart’s clinic. She’s also, as I am, on the ISEAI (International Society of Environmentally Acquired Illness) board, and is scientific medical advisor for the Neurohacker Collective.

Absolute honor and delight to have you, Dr Nafysa! Thank you so much for joining me today.

Nafysa Parpia (NP): Thank you, Dr. Jill for having me. Such an honor to be here.

JC: Yes. So, we met through the ISEAI board, but I know this about the work you’ve done and it’s just, like I said, it’s an honor. It’s so parallel when I read your bio, you know, we’re all doing our things in our corners of the world trying to solve the mysteries of these chronic illnesses.

Before we dive into chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, I’d love to hear just a little bit, and I know our listeners would, about your story and, kind of how you got into medicine and healing. Tell us just a little bit about your journey into this field.

NP: I always knew that I wanted to help people in their healing. I began as a yoga instructor, and the more I taught yoga, the more I realized I wanted to go deeper with people, particularly in illness and in health, and restoring illness into health. And so, I went to Bastyr and I studied naturopathic medicine there.

It wasn’t until I was in the offices of Dr. Dietrich Klinghart, when I graduated, and I saw people who were very, very, very sick, that was when my heart just went out to these patients. I could see that they were suffering, you know, but they weren’t treated at other clinics, before going to his clinic, with very much respect. They were told this is all in their head, or they’re just aging, and there was minimal treatment or minimal diagnosis offered to them. I could just feel the depth of their illness, and it was painful to see the judgments that were put upon them. So, I wanted to help, in helping create treatment and protocols and really dive deep with these people and help them out of the suffering that they were having a hard time coming out of. Yeah, gosh, I love that, because most of us who go into medicine in some form, it’s this healer within us that really does want to just help and understand.

And I think especially those of us who end up with environmental toxicity, mold, pathogens, chronic illness. No one in their right mind would choose this unless they were a healer, right?

JC: Exactly!  It is definitely the hardest, most complex form of medicine. I’m sure you agree.  I love it! I know you do too. Like, I love the complexity.  I always say the more complex the better. But it’s really, really difficult sometimes and these are not, these are the cases that the most conventional doctors don’t want to see, sadly, so it’s good that you and I, you know, are welcoming them to our practice. So, you’ve had such a great experience with some amazing medical partners. You were with Dr. Klinghart originally. Was that right after you graduated?

NP: Yeah, right after I graduated.

JC: Excellent, fantastic! You probably got a little bit of good information on Lyme and co-infections and all of that there, and he’s so good at some of the environmental toxicity and the stuff that’s on the cutting edge. I always feel like the Europeans are way ahead of us, and because he’s originally from Europe I love his perspective. He’s not jaded like many, right?

NP: Exactly! So, it was really wonderful. That’s where I first learned, right after school, really how to work with this population, about the tick-borne illnesses and mold and detoxification therapies. And from there I really made it my own.

JC: Yeah! Was there anything in particular with that experience that you learned as far as how to approach a chronic infection or…  Well, first of all we’re talking about chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia. So, say you had a patient with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, from your early days was there anything that sticks in your mind about lessons that you learned about how to approach them?

NP: Absolutely! So, the first was to detoxify them first. To find out what the toxic burden is. So, testing through different labs, looking at different heavy metals or different chemicals, glyphosate, different pesticides and understanding what that burden is.

Because if we detoxify them first, then then we can get the immune system to be more modified. We can we can get it to be more able to handle the killing of infections.

JC: What a great pearl! And for those of you listening, you’ve probably been to doctors who are like, “Oh, let’s start these antibiotics.” But what you’re saying, which I’ve seen that as well, it’s like the body, if its toxic load, if its bucket is full, and that’s usually the ones that are coming to see us because some of that pain and fibromyalgia types of stuff. Again, we’ll go deep into why that happens and some of the reasons behind it is from the toxic burden in the tissues, right? So, if you take a person like that, they have infections that need treating but you throw these even herbal antibiotics, but for sure medications, it’s too much for their system to handle, isn’t it?

NP: Right. They’ll actually backfire. A lot of times they’ve got this hyperactivity in the immune system. On one hand they’ve got a hyperactive immune system and on another hand of the immune system it’s it it’s too weak to even mount an appropriate immune response. So many times, if we try to treat them with the antibiotics, herbal or pharmaceutical, first they’ll be sensitive to those treatments. So, we have to decrease the toxic load and get the mast cells in order first, and then like…

JC: I love that order, because it’s so important, I’ve noticed that with my own practice as well, where again, if there’s infection and toxins and mast cell activation, which is common, and chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, you really can’t go to treatment until you start with getting that mast cell calmed down and the detoxification at least under control.

What are some of the things when they first come in like that, would you, what kind of testing panels would you do for the initial assessment?

NP: So, I like to do the Great Plains panel where I’m going to look at their glyphosate, mycotoxins. Most of my patients do have a high mycotoxin load and also on their tox panel while I’m looking at a lot of chemicals. I’ll also do the Doctor’s Data heavy metal provocation, but I’m also going to look at metals unprovoked first. Just from Labcorp, just urinate in a cup or to have their blood taken at Labcorp looking for the ones that Labcorp will look at, like mercury, lead, aluminum, arsenic. By the way, I’m seeing a lot of arsenic.

JC: Yes!

NP: In people’s blood, and I think that’s from the fires. It’s not something I saw in previous years. It’s all of a sudden, this year, whoa lots of arsenic!

JC: I bet you’re right. I suspect with the fires there’s definitely a lot of metals that were released and I’m seeing more and more aluminum in all of my patients.

NP: Yes! Which I didn’t see.

JC: And I’m like where else is it coming from because we know like vaccinations over time can be a source, aluminum cookware, um, what are some other sources of aluminum that you think of when you see aluminum? Is there anything else that you think of?

NP: You know, I recently, I had a drummer. I have a drummer in my practice and he drummed bare foot and there was aluminum on the pedal.

JC: Wow!

NP: And aluminum was through the roof. I just measured it so…

JC: Wow, that’s so that’s so fascinating! Isn’t it funny when you find one of those, where you’re like, oh I think this is from this?  And arsenic too. I think it’s more in the rain water, but probably from the fires, and then the rain and the soils and yeah, so, wow! Very good! One thing we kind of glossed over, we talked about how you got into this medicine, but is there anything else that interests you about this population? I mean, we talked a little bit about the helping, the healer within you, but because again this is a population that is very complex. But you must love to solve problems. Is that one of your…

NP: I love to solve problems. I love to solve human problems.

JC: Yes! Yeah, exactly, right?

NP: I’m not an engineer, you know, but the human problems. But it is very much a mystery. It’s very much a puzzle and each person is their own mystery. So, while I run the same labs for everybody, I’m going to find different pieces, and one person will react very differently than another to treatment, or from the same exposure.  A lot of that has to do with the genes.

So, speaking of labs, I like to use the IntellxxDNA.  I found that they really looked at how the snips will interact with one another, as opposed to just here’s a snip, or there’s a snip. They’ll look at them together, and they really culled the research to look at what diseases are related to which genes that are acting in symphony with one another.  So, it’s an expensive test…

JC: This is great! I just started doing this. I have a couple patients pending. I did it on myself and it’s pending, and I’ve got Sharon coming on, so stay tuned for the show because I’m so excited because we’ll have her talk about that. She’s the expert, the medical director of IntellxxDNA. Yeah, I love that you’re using that, because I’ve been, so many genetic tests out there aren’t there yet.

NP: Yeah, I found that this one is the most informative.

JC: I agree! So, say you have someone, and again, we’re going to get to fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue in a moment, and the Cell Danger Response, which I do want you to talk about. But before we go there, say you do have someone with arsenic or metals, or say they have a little bit of mast cell activation, they have chronic pain and chronic infection and toxic burden and all these things. If you do find metals are you going to do that early on, detoxification, are you going to do maybe some treatment? Where would you order that in in your treatment plan?

NP: I think it depends on the person, but most of my patients I have to treat mast cell activation syndrome first. Usually, they come to me with that. They don’t even know they have it, so I just want to calm down the immune system. That’s the hyperactivity that I want to calm down.

I’ll use peptide therapies very often with that. I like to use thymus and Beta-4 to help calm down the immune system. I’ll use BPC-157 as well to help with decreasing inflammation. I’ll give them sleep peptides. Often, they need to sleep before they’re even ready to detox. Sometimes they’re constipated, so I need to deal with the constipation before they’re ready to detox, or else they’ll just be a backlog of toxicants that aren’t exiting the system. Sometimes they have issues with their kidneys so we have to work with that.  

Often with these patients I’m calming down their immune system while I’m working with other systems that aren’t quite ready for detox.  I’m doing like a pre-tox, I’m giving herbs to support, right, and then I’ll re-test some labs. See where they’re at. And also see where they’re at with the way they’re feeling. And then we’ll begin chelation therapy.

 JC: That’s tremendous and I always admire some of my best learnings are from my naturopathic friends because I feel like you guys have such a great training in some of those detox, what’s the name of it from naturopathic medicine of the detox pathways?

NP: The munterries?

JC: Yeah, I like that term because I’ve learned that over time, but traditional allopathic medicine, we’re not taught about this. Which is why most doctors, unless they go get extra education, they don’t even know. I feel like you guys have a lot to teach us in this way. Tremendous! What other things would you do? Some of the homeopathic remedies or drainage remedies or things? What about non-herbal, non-homeopathics, maybe epsom salt baths or alkaline water? Do you have any sort of just environmental or lifestyle things that are good for detox that you like for most of your patients?

NP: Yeah, most of them actually do well with coffee enemas, as strange as that sounds. Actually, it helps their liver to continue detoxifying. Saunas I think are really important, or at least getting the sweat going, because the skin is the largest organ of detoxification. And of course, making sure that they’re not using products that have chemicals and toxins in them, and they’re eating organic as much as they possibly can.

JC: Fantastic! Yeah, and do you do castor oil packs or a dry brush or some of those?

 NP: Yes! Yes, castor oil packs, dry brushing, oil pulling. Yeah, we use a combination of very classic naturopathic techniques along with this patient population, I have to use a lot of medications.

JC: Yes. Definitely, especially with MCAS you really sometimes need to layer four, five, six, things.

NP: Yeah! It turns out, when I went to naturopathic school these were the treatments that were taught to us, and they’re wonderful for the population that’s not extremely sick, and for the people that are extremely sick, they’re excellent, supportive, and I consider them foundational, but then I have to go into stronger…

JC: Right, right. I love it though, because we’re pulling from both worlds, because I like to learn from the homeopathic, naturopathic world, but we still need medications of course, on both ends, so great. So, we talked about your interest, and so let’s go, let’s dive into what’s behind these illnesses, because there’s so many. I’ll just let you talk a little bit about what’s behind, and then after that we can go into the Cell Danger (Response).  I definitely want to talk about that. So, behind these illnesses, what was so great is the bio that I read for you, you literally listed what’s behind these illnesses in your bio.  I love that, but talk a little bit about what those are, so someone who has fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, who is listening, what might be some of the causes behind that?

NP: In classic fibromyalgia they say there’s no cause, right, and then you get them working and they’re supposed to be better. Most of my patients are not like that. If I give them Lyrica it’s not going to really help. Maybe a little bit for a couple weeks, and then nothing.  So usually, I’m looking for pathogens, often parasites, viruses, tick-borne illnesses, mold, dental occult infections.

JC: That’s very common, isn’t it?

NP: Right, sinus infections, which I think is overlooked a lot. I bet you’re thinking the same thing about the sinus. It’s so close to the brain, and I’m finding a lot of funguses or MARCons in people’s sinuses, and once I treat that their brain fog begins to resolve, because I think of the inflammatory cytokines, the bugs that are in the sinuses…

JC: I find this to be one of the biggest missing pieces of people who’ve been to mold treatment other places.  I’m like, did anyone treat your sinuses? Like, no! This is a really big deal.

NP: I totally agree!  I’ll treat the sinuses the same way I treat the gut, actually, by killing the infections, restoring the whole thing.

JC: What do you like, let’s pause there real quick, because what do you like to use? I mean I have some herbal favorites and some prescription favorites, but what are some of your preferred ways to treat the sinuses? Do you do irrigation, do you do sprays, do you compound, do you do herbs?

NP: I do compounding very often. I’m going to start with Argentyn silver. I found that if people do this, if they nebulize it, not just spray it, but they atomize it so it really goes up high, then I’ve seen that really reduce brain fog. If they do this, and this is a tall order, like four or five times a day for two weeks. It’s changed people’s lives, people who are not chronically ill but that have brain fog, that has changed their life just doing that.

JC: And just plain silver or with EDTA, or would you use both?

NP: I start with silver, and then I also have them do at night a nasal probiotic flush, and then also I’ll have them put coconut oil in their nostrils because it’s hard to kill infections in the sinuses when they’re dry. They’ll do that for two weeks, and then I’ll move into using Chelating PX, which is EDT to bust up the biofilm.  And then if they have a fungus, I might use amphotericin or BEG spray if there’s MARCons, so whatever antibiotic they need.  I’ll use that, we’ll be atomizing that.

JC:  that was tremendous and I love a couple things you mentioned. First of all, that you start with silver without EDTA, because I think sometimes that biofilm busting is way too much. They get headaches or they get really sick because all of a sudden, it’s a dumping of the dead material that’s being… I think of the biofilms, if you’re listening, as pond scum. It’s like this kind of gross covering that keeps everything hidden from the antibiotics or the silver. So you need to bust it up to clear it out, but if you bust it up too much too quickly the system gets overwhelmed and the mast cells get angry too, right?

NP: They sure do! I think of it as a gentle way in before I, in fact that’s the way how I’ll treat most people. We’ll start and I’ll start gently and ramp them up.

JC:  I’ll just remember this, and the other thing mentioned, the dryness, because most of us aren’t flying a lot nowadays, but it’s just flying in an airplane, it’s so dry! That’s why people tend to get more sick, or used to. Again, now things are just very different. Still toxic, because they spray all these chemicals, but the dryness of the air. And here I am in Colorado, which is really dry, that really makes a difference, the moisture.  I love that you recommended… now are you having people just put it just in their nostrils a little bit?

NP: Yeah, just have them take a Q-tip and just put it in.

JC: Instead of Vaseline, which is petroleum-based, right?

NP: Right, exactly.

JC: Oh, that’s a great pearl. So, we talked about nasal and then I interrupted. What else would be the underlying factors in the chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia?

NP: So definitely heavy metals, which we already talked about. I think of this, it’s a whole soup, so it’s not salad like where’s the tomato, here’s a piece of celery, it’s the whole thing together in one soup.

So, metals, usually there’s a high viral load, I’ll measure people’s nagalase. I love the Infectolabs test, by the way, because now we can use T cells to look at if the infection is active right now or no, as opposed to looking antibodies where we have to kind of guess, right?  I’ll use that test to see if there’s a high viral load. If there’s mold, I like to look at the mold IgG, at allergens as well as mycotoxins. So, I’ll look at that on Labcorp.

Basically, I’m hunting for different infections and different toxins because those are the two things that I think hijacked the system. Of course, I’m looking at their hormones, their sex hormone panel and their thyroid, because those are areas that are going to be affected, as well, causing fatigue.

JC: Excellent! So, pathogens, toxins, infections, and hormones and oh this is great!

NP:  And the gut, of course the gut.

JC: Yes, and you always do like stool and organic acids, or how do you like to assess the gut?

NP: Yeah, I like the GI Map Test. I find it to be the most sensitive so I look there, and most of my patients also have SIBO, which I generally like to treat first.

I like the Trio Smart Test because you’re looking at hydrogen sulfide SIBO, and no other test has done that before. So that that will give us a chance to find SIBO in ways we haven’t been able to before.

JC: Yes, now the key is, then what do we do with hydrogen SIBO? I’ve read a little bit about some of the pearls for treatment. But if you do find hydrogen sulfide is there any particular things you do differently with treatments or herbs?

NP: You know for sure I’m having them decrease sulfur in their diet. But I’m using the same treatment as I would for regular SIBO, which is the Xifaxan, Flagyl, the bismuth to bust up the biofilm, goldenseal to prevent yeast.

JC: Yes, oh fantastic! Sounds so similar and so important, because again that gut…

I love that you mentioned two things that I think are so critical, that you really can’t get past, and that’s sleep and constipation. So, if you have someone coming in that has insomnia or constipation, no matter what kind of protocol you put them on, if they’re not sleeping and they’re not pooping, you’re not gonna get very far, right?

NP: No, no, no exactly!

JC: What do you feel for sleep, because a lot of these patients have sleep issues, and it’s related to everything else we talked about. Any tips or tricks that you have for helping patients sleep?

NP:  I have an ayurvedic sleep tea which I really like. There’s cardamom in it. Cardamom helps people stay asleep. There’s ashwagandha and shatavari in it, that can help people. Now there’s some people who that doesn’t help, or you know the regular things, like valerian or GABA or L-theanine, that’s not helping them. I’ll go to peptides for them. I like Epitalon for sleep, or delta-inducing sleep peptide. Those really, really help people and it makes me not have to use, and I’d like to not use benzos for their sleep, right? I found that peptides can be a way around having to use benzos for those people who just can’t sleep no matter what herb I give them or no matter what sleep hygiene techniques we give.

JC: This could be tricky in the tick-borne infections. They complain to that too, and the activation of the immune system, so I find that sleep issues for some people is really hard to hack. But like you said, between peptides and herbs and then there was some, oh I was thinking antihistamines can be, like hydroxyzine and those can be really helpful.

NP:  Yeah, because often actually I give ketotifen for mast cell activation syndrome and it really helps them to fall asleep. There’s the odd person, I found in my practice, that makes them groggy in the morning. Not too often, but sometimes I can’t give them ketotifen.

JC: Great tips! So, let’s talk about this Cell Danger Response (CDR), because I know Gordon Medical center was where, you had told me right before we got on live, that you guys had actually done some of the research with Dr. Naviaux (Bob Naviaux, PhD). So, tell us first what is it, and then you can just dive in, I can ask some questions, but I definitely want to talk about this.

If you haven’t heard about the Cell Danger Response, this is groundbreaking!

NP: So, at Gordon Medical we provided the patients that Dr. Naviaux did research on. This was right before I joined Gordon Medical. Gordon Medical and Dr. Naviaux were involved in in the research together then, and wrote the paper on this, and it is groundbreaking.

Metabolic features of chronic fatigue syndrome: Robert K. Naviaux, Jane C. Naviaux, Kefeng Li, A. Taylor Bright, William A. Alaynick, Lin Wang, Asha Baxter, Neil Nathan, Wayne Anderson, Eric Gordon, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Sep 2016, 113 (37) E5472-E5480; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1607571113

So, the Cell Danger Response, it’s modulated by mitochondria, which is the energy producing part of the cell, and it’s also sensing when the cell’s not getting the nutrients it should be getting. So that means that the cell’s in danger. It’s signaling the immune system to take action. That there is danger. It can happen when there’s a virus in there, or a toxin that ties up nutrients, and the mitochondria will then send a signal to other cells. But that signal is that it starts to send ATP outside of the cell. So actually, around the cell membrane instead of inside the cell.

 The important thing to remember is that it’s not an on and off signal. There’s a little bit of the signaling every day to help your body pay attention to when there is an invader; a pathogen or a toxin or stress, whether that’s emotional or physical stress. So, it doesn’t have to be a disease. It’s really actually happening constantly as a normal defense mechanism, but when the signal persists, that’s when illness occurs. There’s a healing response that’s stuck in this loop and it just can’t stop. Mast cells are constantly activated, the immune system is constantly activated, so it’s like trying to understand, where do I cut that loop, how do I stop the cell danger response from happening?

Speaking of chronic fatigue, Dr. Naviaux, and Gordon Medical, the research occurred on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, itself.

JC: Yeah, so yeah, associated. I mean he’s associated Cell Danger Response with Lyme disease, with autism, with chronic fatigue, yeah, so it’s been really wide. Like it’s one of the things that I know you and I, we can see it unifies a lot of these complex chronic illnesses that we see. Almost all of them, actually.

NP: Exactly! Yeah, they’re stuck in this repeating loop of incomplete recovery and re-injury, and they’re unable to fully heal.

JC: Talk a little about that, because there’s the Cell Danger Response, with phase one, two, and three, and each of those, if it gets stuck, there’s different sets of illnesses and things. You want to talk a little bit about some of those, and the differences between them?

NP: Sure! Part One involves the innate immune system. The neutrophils, the macrophages, natural killer cells, monocytes, the mast cells. These cells come out, the mast cells come to prime the immune system and then the other cells will come out to begin the killing, and may actually do the killing. But the infected cells, at this point they stop making normal amounts of ATP, and this is when they start to export the ATP to the cell membrane outside the cell. That’s the danger signal, usually signaling the rest of the body cells, “Hey there’s a danger here, there’s a toxin, there’s a bug that’s activating the innate immune system.”

So, we see, if it happens in a lot of cells, that’s when we start to see the sick behavior: fatigue, brain fog, body aches and pains. If it only happens a little bit, we’re just going to get a stuffy nose. But at this point they’re depending on glucose for energy instead of ATP, because the mitochondria are now browning out. So, it’s anaerobic respiration. They’re producing little energy, so we’ll see illnesses here. If we’re stuck here, we’ll see HPA axis issues, allergies, asthma, chronic infections which are often underneath chronic fatigue syndrome and the fibromyalgia that I see. So, it can be stuck here and in part two and part three which I’ll talk about in a minute.

So, it can be stuck in different parts and all different systems of the body.

Part Two is when we start to rebuild tissue damage, and that’s cell proliferation. The mitochondria start to go back to producing more ATP, but it’s still anaerobic. We’re not burning fat still.  We’re still burning energy from glucose, but there’s less of an inflammatory signal, so here it’s more proliferative disorders, cancers, hypertension, different heart diseases.

Then there’s Part Three, where we’re restoring intercellular communication. The cells learn how to function as a part of the whole, so a lot of hormones are important here. Neurotransmitters are important here. So here we’re going to see illnesses like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and fibromyalgia, autism spectrum disorder, PTSD, anxiety, depression.

JC: I love it, because you really cover all of medicine like this. This is such an underlying cellular, like, we’re talking about at the cell level. One of the things that goes wrong, which is why when Dr. Naviaux really has presented his data, all of us were just like, wow! I remember two years ago, at ISEAI, when he presented, and you involved a little bit in the research. So maybe you knew some of the back story, but for me, and most of us, who hadn’t heard a lot of the research, it was literally jaw-dropping! Oh my goodness, this is amazing! Because it just puts everything together.

I’m gonna try to, I may not be exactly scientifically accurate. But for those of you who are listening, and you’re not super scientific, I’m going to try to explain in really simple terms what’s happening. You have a cell, and when the cell spills its contents, it’s broken, right? It like, spills out, then the contents get outside. That’s what’s triggering this, is outside the cell, it’s like, we call it like damage associated receptors. So basically, the damage to the cell, the contents of the cell got exploded or damaged or leaky, and then the outside is getting the signal that, oh, there’s cell contents outside the cell. This is not good.

I think of it real simplistically as you’ve spilled contents of a cell that was damaged, and outside the cell there was a signal. Because your body knows, it’s very smart, it’s like this should not be outside the cell. It should be inside the cell, and that’s the ATP.  The ATP as a cellular currency should be in the cell making energy for the cell. If it gets outside the cell this is the Cell Danger Response, and again, super simplified, probably not completely scientifically accurate. But for those of you listening to understand, it’s just the spilled contents. The cell’s broken, it’s damaged, and because this damage is telling the body, something is dreadfully wrong. You’ve got to mop up this mess you’ve spilled on the floor.

That’s kind of how I think of it in a simplistic way.

NP: Exactly that.

JC: So then, what do we do? Again, this is a cellular mechanism. There have been drugs studied to stop this that are highly effective. Unfortunately, they’re not available, right?

NP: Suramin.

So interesting. I think in medicine, we’re so good with A goes to B. Heart attack, broken bone, bullet wound, medicine knows what to do. But Dr. Naviaux calls what we’re talking about the black box of healing, the complex chronic illness. So, this is where it becomes highly personalized. When we look at the genes, we look for the toxins, we look, we’re looking for what is causing the most irritation in the system. For my patients, all of these things we just talked about, but usually it’s the immune system that’s the loudest first, and the mast cells. So back to that! Treating that.

JC: Back to where we started, which is starting with calming the mast cells, supporting immune system, clearing infections, treating heavy metals, toxicity, and then going down the road.

One question I just thought of as we’re talking, on fibromyalgia. I have heard some of the theories around having lactic acidosis, which is basically in the tissues you have a more acidic environment which can cause pain. Again, that can come from everything, it’s not a new theory, it’s nothing that’s different from what we’re already talking about. But have you found any sort of alkalinization therapies helpful? Like say, mineral water, Alka Seltzer Gold, some of those things, or even alkaline diets? Have you done anything along those lines?

NP: Absolutely! Alkaline diets I think really help, or intermittent fasting. For sure the detoxification is going to help.

JC: Yes, excellent! So, what else would we look at? Let’s go back to talk about chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia just slightly separately, because they are very similar in mechanism but we might treat them slightly differently.

Let’s start with fatigue, because fatigue is, most people who are sick they have some sort of fatigue.  They may not qualify for chronic fatigue (syndrome). Most of them do but even if they don’t, they’d usually have, and it usually is associated with brain fog. It’s so funny, because those of us in medicine, brain fog isn’t really defined, right, but every patient that we ever talk to, if we say brain fog, they know what we mean. So, we use that term a lot. How would you define brain fog, or what would people be complaining of when they come to you with that?

NP: Most of my patients have brain fog, actually. In tick-borne illness, I find the brain fog is actually more tied to pain than in people who have mostly just viral issues. But in both populations, the brain fog will manifest pretty similarly, or be experienced similarly. So, I just went into a room, and I forgot what I went there for. I went to the grocery store and I picked up peas, but I meant to get potatoes, or things like that. Or I just can’t think straight, a lot of them say I think I’m losing my mind. I actually find it’s more in the tick-borne illness patients that it’s that extreme, who say I think I’m going crazy.

But for women a lot of times, if they’re not sick, we can just fix the hormones. That’ll help them, right? But for these patients, if we fix the hormones, they’re still going to feel like they have brain fog. So that’s another sign that there’s something else going on.

JC: I love that, because I remember 15-20 years ago, when I started in functional medicine, I have a menopause patient or a patient with hypothyroid, and it’d be very simple, straightforward. We replace the hormones or balance their hormones or give them thyroid, and they feel better. And I don’t know when I’ve seen one of those kinds of patients lately, because there’s so many layers. If only it were that simple! Certainly, there are people who that’s all it needs is just a little tweaking, but I find that to be kind of a superficial level.

Not superficial, it’s very, very important, but it’s superficial enough that what we’re talking about here is usually way deeper causes. So, just doing that alone, unfortunately nowadays, at least for my practice, doesn’t usually 100% turn them around, right?

NP:  No, definitely not! I wish it would, and they wish it too. They say okay, now look, the labs say that my progesterone and my estrogen are back into balance, but I still feel the same. Still so terrible! Then I say, but you know that’s just a foundation for you? Now at least we have this foundation set, now we have to really get into the nitty-gritty of working on the immune system and working on bringing out the insults.

But what I also find is that once I can take, we can take the knife out, like the bugs, the toxins out, but  the symptoms still persist.

JC: It’s almost like a memory, right?  Even though you’ve cleaned up the terrain, the body still remembers and can kind of stay… What do you do with that? I’ve seen, we may even go into this, but I feel like emotional trauma, emotional health, some of these limbic system things are so critical. Tell me a little bit about your thoughts on that, and what would you do?

NP: I think that that’s really a big piece. That’s when a lot of times I might start to use regenerative medicine, actually exosomes or biological allografts. Those I found can really help. NAD IV can help a lot at that point as well. That’s looking at the biochemical piece, but you just talked about, and what I would consider such an important piece, which is the healing piece. These people have normally experienced a lot of trauma in their lives. That’s what I find.

Just like these illnesses have hijacked the different systems of their body, they’ve also had had people in their lives do what I would call hijacking their lives in some way. So much trauma, and so that that piece is really, really important.

I like to give them craniosacral therapy, and we have some amazing healers that we work with as well. So, I send them to the healers for that kind of work. Acupuncture…

JC:  I love that you’re mentioning that, because I feel the same and those aren’t my areas of expertise but I know people who do it. So whether it’s somatic based trauma therapies, whether there’s programs like DNRS program, Safe and Sound by Porges, or there’s a bunch of programs out there that are really helpful. Love craniosacral, love acupuncture, and naturopathy, we have some of the traditional emotional remedies, those types of things, with homeopathic remedies and things. Again, not my area of expertise, but those, all together can be really profound at that layer.

Because what happens with these illnesses, even if you’re healthy, you have a good family support system, the body subconsciously sees this mold or Lyme as a trauma, and so even if you’re super healthy and you weren’t abused as a child, it’s still a trauma. And then the medical system, I think, sadly, most of the time further traumatizes the patients.

NP: I agree, yeah, they really do. Because they haven’t been accepted.

JC: Yeah, they’ve been told they’re crazy, or go take this med for your mind, or it’s not… I mean, you might manifest as insomnia or bipolar or depression, anxiety, but these are not primarily psychological issues.

NP: Exactly, yeah, they’re secondary to the issue at hand, which is usually the infection or toxin.

JC: Yeah, I wonder nowadays if all mental illness isn’t really gut, microbiome, Cell Danger Response. I don’t know if there’s any pure psychological disorders anymore, because I can always find a root cause that’s actually physiological, right?

NP: Exactly, and then once it takes some time to turn these people around, but once they’re turned around, I see big shifts in their psychology…

JC: and moods and relationships, and it’s amazing, right? The whole dynamic to shift, so yeah, it’s amazing.

Well, let’s shift in our last couple minutes, because we’ve really covered a lot of ground. We talked a little about the limbic and some of these things, but what about just whether it’s social support, isolation, especially with COVID and the pandemic and all that we’ve experienced? What are some kind of mental health tips or social tips or things that you might encourage your patients to do, just to have a support system? Or anything in that realm that you would think about, or encourage them, or nature walks or things like that?

 NP: Yeah, there’s a lot of support groups out there. Sometimes I’ve heard patients tell me that, oh, that just really drags me into my diagnosis more. That’s just not what I want. And other people say, oh, I needed to meet more people just like myself. So, I think that everybody who’s interested should try to experience it and see if it’s for them or not. Some people it’s great, some people they don’t want that. Those I think are people who are more solitary people, and for them, for everybody, nature walks. I find grounding really helps. Just putting their feet in the sand, feeling the sunshine on them.

JC:  I love that! You’re in the bay area, did you say? You don’t always get sunshine.

NP: It can be cool down here.

JC: I love the earthing and grounding, and then, do you guys recommend pulsed electromagnetic fields (PEMF) in your clinic at all?

 NP: Yes and no. So, I’ve seen it blow up a lot of our patients. You know, they’re just not quite ready for it, so more towards the end of treatment I’ve seen it work really well.

JC: And with that NAD IV and exosomes and stuff, so the powerhouse is that. For me personally, at this level now, I love it, but I think it would have blown me out of the water five years ago. That makes sense.

Let’s see, I was thinking I wanted to go back to one other thing you mentioned, coffee enemas. I went to Switzerland for a detox, like the last two years, before, when we could travel. One thing that was there, that they had these coffee enema kits that were just so amazingly easy to use. It’s a Swiss mountain clinic. Used to be Paracelsus. So, we’ve actually imported those and I have them at the clinic. I want to be sure and let the listeners know if you want an easy way. Because I agree with you, the coffee enemas can be so profound, and you can get online kits and setups. Do you have those at your clinic that you sell or recommend at all?

NP: We don’t but, Ben Greenfield wrote a really good article, so I just send people that website. I’d love to hear about the winner.

JC: Perfect! I’ll include a link for the Coffee Enema Kit down here. I just want to mention it because it’s such a unique thing that we have at our clinic and we can ship to you anywhere in the U.S. We actually import them from Europe because they’re not made in the U.S. It’s a really simple setup with a bottle that’s bpa-free, and tubing and literally an instant, really, really clean low roasted green coffee with charcoal in it. It’s a German formula. It’s the cleanest thing I’ve ever found, and you just put it in the bottle, warm tap water, shake it up, and you’re done. So super easy to use. I’ll include a link in case anyone’s interested because it’s just one of those things where I found being in Switzerland, I’m like, we need this in the U.S. When I tried to figure out who had them, no one had them.

So last bit here. Where can people find you, where can people find more about you, are you accepting new patients? Tell us a little bit more about it.

NP: Yes, I’m accepting new patients. You can go to gordonmedical.com or just look up Gordon Medical Associates and all the information is over there. People come from all over the country particularly for the IV therapies actually. It used to be, when you were talking about socialization, it used to be that we had a big IV suite, and people would sit there and socialize. It would be their hangout time with people just like them, and they loved it! Now we can’t we can’t do it that way with COVID. People have their own private room, and we take all the precautions that we need to in order to make sure that it’s safe in there. But you won’t have company in there anymore…

JC:  But you still do it, and I have patients who have been there. So, again, nothing but good reviews and it’s just been neat to share a few patients once a while that have been back in here, so, I can attest to that. Just the great care. Now the other thing you mentioned. Before you go, you’re doing a summit. Tell us about what’s coming up with the summit.

NP: Yeah, so Dr. Gordon and I are going to be hosting a Mycotoxin and Chronic Illness Summit (July 12-18, 2021) through DrSummits. I’m very excited about it and hopefully you’ll be participating.

JC: I would love to!

NP: It’s going to be in June, okay, so we’re just starting right now. We’re hosting it with Dr. Christine Schaffner.  

JC: Oh wonderful! Because I love this stuff, so if you’re listening, I’ll be sure and if you go to the Facebook page, follow me on Instagram, just @drjillcarnahan, you will see the updates there. I’ll be sure and get information from you guys and share those links. So, if you’re interested in that summit, stay tuned I will have it on all my social media pages for everybody and we’ll share and I would love to be a part of it.

NP: Thank you! We’d love to have you!

JC: Awesome! Well, I can’t believe how quickly our hour goes! I think we’ve got some great information. Thank you so much for being here. We’ve got your website, I’ll be sure to include them. Thanks again for all the great information.

NP: Thank you so much for having me. Such an honor!

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Complex Chronic Illness, Detox and Toxins, Mold / Mycotoxin Illness, Nafysa Parpia ND, Video Blogs

They Can’t Find Anything Wrong

So Why Do I Feel So Bad?

Diagnosis at its best implies finding the cause of the disease. Thinking in linear cause and effect mode was reinforced by advances in surgery for traumatic injuries, and in the discovery of antibiotics for infectious disease. The ingrained habit for doctor and patient is to find the right diagnosis and then the correct treatment will be straight forward and hopefully effective.

Chronic complex illness does not follow this pattern. The problem is not just the inciting event or the viral or bacterial trigger. In chronic illness it is the variety of the person’s genetics and environmental experience that often matter more than the triggering event. Environmental experience includes the totality of our life experience: our physical environment, our chemical and electronic exposures, our socio-economic cultural group, and our psychological and spiritual issues and beliefs.

Thanks to metabolomics, we are now starting to see testing that reveals what is happening in the body NOW, as a result of the past and the present coming together.

Find out more at our page on Complex Chronic Illness

 

Hope for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome - Image by engin akyurt from PixabayIn medicine doctors usually work toward a diagnosis. Diagnosis at its best implies finding the cause of the disease. Thinking in linear cause and effect mode was reinforced by advances in surgery for traumatic injuries, and in the discovery of antibiotics for infectious disease. The ingrained habit for doctor and patient is to find the right diagnosis and then the correct treatment will be straight forward and hopefully effective.

Chronic complex illness does not follow this pattern. The problem is not just the inciting event or the viral or bacterial trigger. In chronic illness it is the variety of the person’s genetics and environmental experience that often matter more than the triggering event. Environmental experience includes the totality of our life experience: our physical environment, our chemical and electronic exposures, our socio-economic cultural group, and our psychological and spiritual issues and beliefs.

The problem with all symptoms is that they are internal experiences we all struggle to express in ways that another person can understand. This is difficult even when we agree on basic definitions, but doctors are trained to think about symptoms in very specific ways, while patients are not. So often, a stomach ache means one thing to your doctor – a pain somewhere in the area just below your ribs in the midline, or a bit to the left, or maybe to the right of midline of your abdomen. To the patient it could mean a pain below the belly button, or a generalized ache in the entire abdominal area. Maybe the word ache itself doesn’t mean the same thing to patient and doctor, as there are so many types of pain, each indicating something different could be wrong.

How does the diagnostic thinking proceed when you complain of stomach pain? The doctor’s first priority is to rule out, as we say in medical jargon, whether the cause of the pain is life threatening in origin. The appropriate questions and physical exam usually deal with this issue 90% of the time, and depending on your age and sex, may or may not require more in depth investigation. The problem we face with chronic illness is that the stomach pain that you have is usually not the mild gastritis seen on endoscopy, usually attributed to excess acid or H. Pylori infection. For people with chronic illness there may be multiple small stressors to the stomach that can add up to severe stomach problems, but often fail to show up when our focus is ruling out “serious “ problems.

Things that may contribute or even cause severe stomach pain include mild forms of Mast Cell Activation Disorder (MCAD) or (MCAS), intestinal dysbiosis, elevated but “normal” porphyrins, vagal nerve irritation from tight muscles or fascia along the vagal nerve’s course, and musculoskeletal problems – especially of the mid thoracic area, fascial strain patterns in the chest and abdomen or pelvis which affects proper blood and lymph flow to and from the involved organ. Infectious contributors can include low grade infections with Lyme or Bartonella, which would be missed if all you are looking for is H. Pylori. Viral infections, or gall bladder and pancreatic dysfunction can also be missed if you are not looking deeper.

Notice I refer to dysfunction. This includes the mild decrease in function from age and toxins that most of us take in stride. When another mild low grade problem is also present, let’s say a tendency to hypercoagulability, along with being chronically dehydrated, maybe a little low in calcium, and a tendency for your mast cells to over react and release chemicals that cause a bit of swelling, and all come together with a low grade infection, then suddenly the blood supply and lymph drainage hits a tipping point and you have stomach pain. You may also begin to react to foods that never bothered you before, or even to inhaled irritants that end up affecting your stomach.

What is the diagnosis here? All your tests are within normal limits, but you are at the high end of normal in some of these, and the low end in others, or just a bit out of range for normal, but not quite showing a disease. Symptomatic, but all tests “normal.

We tend to blame the immune system, but there is only the body system. We made artificial groupings of bodily functions in order to study and learn how it works. The problem is, we keep forgetting the whole body is a system. We investigate its parts, but it works as a whole.

Our job as medical practitioners isn’t just to look for the inciting cause, the bullet if you will. With chronic complex illness we have to peel back the layers of over and under function of your whole body. We have to find what imbalances in you allowed an insult, whether infection, toxin exposure, physical or emotional trauma, to have caused persistent ongoing symptoms rather than the usual short term illness and recovery.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Complex Chronic Illness, Detox and Toxins, Eric Gordon MD, Lyme Disease + Coinfections, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), Mold / Mycotoxin Illness, Tick Borne Illness

The Cell Danger Response: Inflammation and the Healing Cycle

Inflammation is the body’s normal response to danger. The body’s inflammatory response is meant to be transient – when that response is ongoing, and especially when the inciting event (pathogens, toxic elements) persists, the normal tamping down of inflammation doesn’t occur. When inflammation persists and the Healing Cycle is not completed the clinical presentation is an outcome of their genetic tendencies.

Naviaux RK. Metabolic features of the cell danger response.

Other perpetuating factors of a persistent Cell Danger Response can include:

  • Concurrent infectious loads (fungi, parasites, viruses, dysbiosis, occult dental infections, PANS. Symptoms of some infections may be suppressed until other infections are treated.
  • Structural issues, lax ligaments, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), Cranial-Cervical Instability, vagal nerve issues.
  • Increased intestinal permeability – food allergies, increased toxin load, translocation between vagus nerve at the gut up to the brain, decreased nutrient absorption, a stressed liver.
  • Hypercoagulability – excess soluble fibrin or elevated homocysteine.
  • Psychological defense strategies, PTSD, OCD, anxiety.
  • Early childhood adverse events (physical and/or psychological).
  • Don’t ignore the potential of chronic jaw infections from root canals and old wisdom teeth extraction sites to derail treatment.
  • Sinus colonization – It’s more than Marcons!

See more information about treatment of complex chronic illness at GMA.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Eric Gordon MD, Immune Issues, Lyme Disease + Coinfections

Preventing the Failed Patient – Detoxification

Environmental toxicants impair cellular functions. Lyme/tick-borne disease/co-infections, parasites, and viruses all modulate immune function to their advantage and the host disadvantage. With exposure, the immune system is overactivated, causing hypersensitivity, allergies, mast cell activation syndrome (MCAS), and/or autoimmunity. The immune system may also be misdirected, and does not mount an appropriate response to infection.

Most of our patients who present with long standing Lyme disease have evidence of a high environmental toxicant load through clinical history and laboratory results. They respond well to therapies that reduce the toxicant load, which leads to normalization of the immune response. Everyone benefits from detox, but in these patients, it is mandatory.

Toxicants that hinder the healing cycle may include: mold toxins, biotoxins and other neurotoxins, heavy metals, high EMF exposure or high sensitivity to it, environmental toxin burden such as high perchlorate, PCBs, glyphosate (Roundup), other pesticides and other chemicals.

Consider whether you:

  • Live/lived in a home with mold or water damage?
  • Live/lived near or on a farm or vineyard? how far from?
  • Live/lived near freeway? How far from?
  • Live/lived in an industrial location?
  • Live/lived in home while it was being renovated?
  • Ever worked with chemicals – artist, dark room, painting/renovating homes, industrial work?
  • Use pesticides, insecticides, herbicides in your garden or your neighbors use them in their gardens?
  • Have metal amalgams in your mouth?

Treatment for toxins needs to precede and be concurrent with herbal and antibiotic treatment of persistent tick-borne disease. It includes appropriate oral, IV and physical detoxification therapies PLUS MCAS treatment. If mast cell activation is on a hair trigger even detox may cause flares.

Biotoxin Issues, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Complex Chronic Illness, Detox and Toxins, Detoxification, Lyme Disease + Coinfections, Nafysa Parpia ND, Toxicity

The Mitochondria In Complex Illness with Dr. Eric Gordon

Podcast Transcript

Dr. Weitz:            This is Dr. Ben Weitz with the Rational Wellness podcast, bringing you the cutting edge information on health and nutrition. From the latest scientific research and by interviewing the top experts in the field. Please subscribe to Rational Wellness podcast on iTunes and YouTube and sign up for my free e-book on my website by going to drweitz.com. Let’s get started on your road to better health.  Hello Rational Wellness podcasters! Thank you so much for joining me again today. For those of you who enjoy listening to the Rational Wellness podcast, please go to iTunes and gives us a ratings and review, that way more people can find out about the Rational Wellness podcast.

Our topic for today is a complicated one. We’re going to talk about the role of the mitochondria in complex chronic illness. The mitochondria is the organelle that’s most responsible for cellular energy and it plays a crucial role in chronic diseases. Every cell in our body contains several thousand mitochondria and mitochondria produce 90% of the energy our body needs to function. Mitochondrial dysfunction is understood as a decline in the ability of the electron transport train to generate high energy molecules like ATP and this is often seen with aging and virtually all chronic diseases. Including neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, autism, bipolar disorder, cancer, chronic infections, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.

Dr. Eric Gordon is the founder and medical director of Gordon Medical Associates. A medical practice focused on serving patients with complex chronic illness in Santa Rosa and San Rafael, California. According to Dr. Gordon, understanding chronic illness requires a larger perspective than the traditional one of finding the triggering event, removing it and then the body heals and we’re back to health. Chronic illness is not often an isolated response to a toxic exposure or an infection. Chronic illness is more a stuck note in a complicated sonata of the interaction between the triggering event and the complexity that’s … Dr. Gordon thank you so much for joining me today.

Dr. Gordon:        A pleasure. A pleasure Ben. Yeah. It’s good to be here.

Dr. Weitz:            So how did you get interested in treating-

Dr. Gordon:        [crosstalk 00:02:47] sounds easier to me.

Dr. Weitz:            You seem to have a musical orientation towards health.

Dr. Gordon:        Well, it’s funny. I’m actually tone deaf but [crosstalk 00:03:02]. I love the complexity of the orchestra and the possibilities. And it’s always been clear to me once I started treating people that it is an orchestration because it’s not … in health and in disease, you rarely have one player that stands out. It really is an interactive whole, and that’s what makes … it makes medicine hard to understand and is why I think doctors fall back on the single cause for the illness routine because that’s how our minds tend to work. We tend to have engineering minds. That’s just the nature of people. The animal. We see a problem, we want to figure out what caused it and the idea that you can have 10, 20, 50 causes for an outcome is difficult for us to get our heads around.

Dr. Weitz:            Absolutely. I was trained in philosophy and in philosophy there’s something called Occam’s Razor and you always prefer the simplest explanation for any problem that you are trying to solve.

Dr. Gordon:        Absolutely. It’s funny because that’s the title of Dr. Afrin’s book on mast cell disorders.

Dr. Weitz:            Oh really?

Dr. Gordon:        Yes. Never Bet Against Occam. And I’ve had this discussion with him, Dr. Afrin, the whole thing … he’s one of the proponents … proponents? Yeah. He’s one of the people who helped introduced us to the concept of mast cell activation syndrome and he got there, just a little quick aside, by looking at being … he’s a very bright man who is an oncologist but he actually would listen to his patients so when other doctors, other oncologists had patients that didn’t fit what they thought they should have, they knew that Dr. Afrin would actually listen and try to keep figuring it out rather than just go, “This isn’t in my box. Go somewhere else.” They didn’t [inaudible 00:05:22] somewhere else, but [inaudible 00:05:23] think about. And so he started to see these people who had multiple symptoms. They had irritable bowel syndrome. They had asthma. They had migraines. And they had rashes. And maybe they had interstitial cystitis. And he goes, “Why should somebody have five different diseases?”

And being an oncologist, and being familiar with something called mastocytosis, which is a disease, a cancer of mast cells [GMA editor: Dr. Gordon misspoke here. Only certain types of mastocytosis are actually cancer. Most are just a an excessive proliferation of mast cells, but they are not can malignant.] when you make too many of them. mast cells make histamine and they cause allergy responses, but they also when they make … Histamine is a big part of each one of those things. Irritable bowel, migraines, asthma, interstitial cystitis, inflammation. He thought, “Huh. These people look like the mast cell people.” And he started treating them with anti-histamine medicines and many of them significantly improved. So his point is Occam’s Razor, look for the single … let’s make it simpler. So that being said, I thought that was a brilliant piece of medical detective work. But, that’s really not how the body works though. The body is a symphony where there are … very simple with genetic diseases. One of the reasons genetics has been kind of a lot of noise but not a lot of … hasn’t been as helpful in chronic diseases is because there are only a few hundred genetic diseases and they are very rare that involve one to five genes. Okay?

Most chronic illnesses, heart disease, Parkinson’s, we don’t even know about Parkinson’s but [inaudible 00:07:12] heart disease, we know. There’s hundreds of genes interacting that you wind up [inaudible 00:07:19]. So, Occam’s Razor doesn’t work so well there. Looking for the simple answer. It does in the things that kill us quickly. An infection that’s overwhelming. But if your body can deal with the infection and it just hangs around, then you’re no longer dealing with the bug, you’re dealing with your biochemical individuality’s response to the bug. And that’s what chronic illness is, is it’s about the individual. Rather than about the population. And that’s why it’s been so difficult to work with. My favorite subject.

Dr. Weitz:            Yeah. You know what? I would like to-

Dr. Gordon:        Let’s go back to mitochondria a little bit.

Dr. Weitz:            Sure. Yeah. Sure. How did you become interested in treating patients with chronic diseases?

Dr. Gordon:        Well, I had that bad habit of I believe people. Okay? And when you are a doctor, especially when you are in the hospital, you’re used to people who come in and they have a big … like a pneumonia. A gallbladder attack. A heart attack. But lots of them, even when you take care of that, they still feel terribly, and they felt terribly in ways that didn’t make sense to me. Because they didn’t make sense to medicine. They’re again, they’re the people kind of like Dr. Afrin was seeing. They had so many complaints and they had complaints that moved around. One day they had really bad shoulders. The next day they had bad knees. That doesn’t make sense.

Dr. Weitz:            Right.

Dr. Gordon:        We don’t have a … But I believe them. These were people who I didn’t think were coming to lie to me.

Dr. Weitz:            Right. I’d like to clarify for those of us out there listening when they hear the term chronic disease, yes, it’s true that chronic disease is like heart disease and diabetes or the predominant diseases of today. But, what we’re talking about is these complex chronic diseases. What you might call the chronic-chronic disease. There’s acute diseases, like you get an acute infection and you take an antibiotic, it’s over. And then there’s these chronic diseases like diabetes and you have these blood sugar problems and there are strategies that can fix some of these people by following diet, lifestyle, et cetera. And sometimes these strategies work and they’re totally under control. In other cases, maybe they have to be managed. But we’re talking about a third category of chronic patient who have these unexplained diseases.

Dr. Gordon:        Chronic fatigue. I mean people don’t like … people prefer the term myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic … And I agree because chronic fatigue is insulting to many people because it sounds, “Oh, you’re just tired.” Which is far from it. It’s much … yeah. Much more life defeating than that and intrusive. But yeah, it’s when people are left with inability to function and we don’t know why. Often it’s precipitated by an infection but it doesn’t have to be. It can be a minor trauma, car accidents. I mean just things happen and the body winds up in a state of chronic inflammation and it doesn’t always have to have pain. Sometimes the inflammation is mostly in the brain and in that case, it just might be difficulty thinking and being able to organize your day. I mean, it’s amazing how debilitating these illnesses are.

Now they are often lumped under this chronic fatigue, immune deficiency syndrome or chronic Lyme disease, or post-Lyme. I mean these are all names depends on which doctor you go to. Or, some people they are called CIRS, chronic inflammatory response syndrome. Dr. Shoemaker has put forward. But basically, these are illnesses that we do not understand. We have lots of theories about and thankfully in the last few years, we’re actually beginning to get research which has been quite amazing. So anyway, so those are the people that I [crosstalk 00:11:58]-

Dr. Weitz:            [crosstalk 00:11:58] isn’t it interesting how there’s almost this chronic disease de jour diagnosis? So, you get a lot of these patients at one time were all being diagnosed as having hypothyroid. And then they’re all being diagnosed as having adrenal fatigue. And then everybody’s being diagnosed as having Lyme disease. And then everybody’s being-

Dr. Gordon:        Absolutely. When I started, everybody had this in these … like I said, in the 80s, it was everybody had candida. Actually, hypoglycemia was the first thing. But what it is is that this is the blind men and the elephant okay? Each thing, number one, there are some patients who that is their problem but this is what they look like. And otherwise, as doctors learn things, the problem with being a doctor is that it’s a, as you know, it’s a very difficult business because you get good at pieces of it. It gets too broad for most people to be good at everything. I mean nobody’s good at everything in this business. So, the tendency is to get better and better at one aspect of it. I happen to have a little ADD so I kind of go all over the place, but that’s why I have people who work with me who really go deep in certain aspects, because there’s just too much to know.

So the problem is that many people who have “adrenal fatigue”, quote on quote, now some of them do. Some of them really are people who are fairly healthy who just overdid it. Okay? And those folks do great with rest. Great at exercise, proper nutrition. Fix their guts and kind of maybe address their hormone and support them with herbs or some hormones and they do phenomenally. But, they’re the kind of like the outskirts or the suburbs if you will of the people that I see. The people that … I used to see those folks. But the people that I see have failed that, okay? They kept staying sicker because their system is more stuck, okay? When you have adrenal fatigue, usually, if you remove the stressor, the body kind of comes back online. Generally. And with a little bit of support. Okay? But with these chronic … [inaudible 00:14:32] what I’m calling the chronic complex illnesses, you are now in a system that’s not allowing you to get better. And this goes back. We’re stuck. I hate to use psychological … actually I love to use psychological terms but I always wary of them because these are not psychological illnesses, you know?

Dr. Weitz:            Right.

Dr. Gordon:        I just find that the story that psychology weaves, it’s a little bit like Chinese medicine in the sense that it’s much more fluid and able to explain things that aren’t linear. I mean, because it’s the idea that the body is stuck in a pattern of response and so a great example of that is like behavior. I mean some people have trouble with time. No matter how often, they are always late. They are not doing it on purpose. It’s just how they’re wired. They don’t quite believe … they really think that they can get something done in a minute or five minutes, that’s going to take half an hour, and they just can’t get through their heads that every day they do the same thing. I’m going to be on time and they forget that they got five things to do. They’re not going to do them in five minutes. So that’s the kind of same stuckness that we have at the mitochondria level. At the biochemical level in the body, in these chronic complex illnesses. The body is stuck in a behavior, and even when we remove the [inaudible 00:16:10] event, like the infection or the stressor, the body doesn’t turn back on and go back to the health.

And go back to health. It is stuck in a lower level of functioning. But it’s doing that as a survival mechanism. It’s not doing that … it’s just that it’s a survival mechanism that is no longer probably useful as far as we can tell.

Dr. Weitz:            Right.

Dr. Gordon:        So, and that’s where the mitochondria come in because we’ve always been taught that the mitochondria were the energy producers and they are. But also serve as one of the … well, you never know [inaudible 00:16:51] but we believe main modulators of the immune response which is something people haven’t thought about or hadn’t quite put into the words. Dr. Naviaux, Robert Naviaux from the University of San Diego has been writing about this a lot and he’s well … well, well known or should be better known for … He developed a treatment that may work for autism that involves trying to restore how you say … mitochondrial communication with the … or cell to cell communication. But I don’t want to go too far afield. It’s like the mitochondria, when they sense danger, they are … I mean in single cell organisms, and in your body, as soon as they can tell like a virus is in the cell and the virus is starting to use your raw materials to make more virus, the mitochondria sense that and they begin to turn down energy production, okay?

And when they turn down energy production, they use less oxygen and suddenly there’s more oxygen in the cytoplasm, in the material that’s in the rest of the cell, and that creates an oxidative stress that helps kill the virus. And it also gets the nuclear to make proteins that will help kill the virus and at the same time increase oxidative stress and then after a short period of time, begin to make more things like glutathione, and [inaudible 00:18:32] which will begin to reduce the oxidative stress. You see, this cycle, there’s a cycle in health. It’s not linear. It’s a circle. Okay? You get … your body gets stressed and then you respond. Like a lot of the herbs that we use. That most of the herbs that we consider antioxidants are actually pro-oxidants, okay? [crosstalk 00:19:00]-

Dr. Weitz:            We’re talking about things like vitamin C and vitamin E and folic acid and …

Dr. Gordon:        I’m thinking more like some of the herbal things like-

Dr. Weitz:            Resveratrol or carotenoids.

Dr. Gordon:        Especially resveratrol is a good example and-

Dr. Weitz:            Curcumin.

Dr. Gordon:        Curcumin. These things actually cause stress but the body’s response to the stress is stronger, okay? And you make more of the antioxidants, but you need that little stress. I mean just like exercise. I mean, when you exercise, you actually are tearing down, you are disrupting tissues.

Dr. Weitz:            Absolutely.

Dr. Gordon:        And it’s the healing that makes you stronger. And that’s happening … that’s orchestrated by, or conducted by the mitochondria. And it’s a separate function but it’s a dance. The mitochondria are constantly moving between this stance of producing, of using oxygen up or sometimes just not increasing the oxygen content in the cytoplasm to kind of stress the system.

Dr. Weitz:            Right. By the way, I just wanted to go astray a little bit. I wanted to point out that there’s all this talk these days about fasting, creating autophagy. Well, guess what? Exercise creates autophagy. That’s how it works. We’ve known about this for a long time. This idea of that you have to do this special kind of fast to get rid of old, damaged cells to create autophagy, exercise.

Dr. Gordon:        Yeah, no, exercise does it. But the problem we have, if it’s just exercise is that if you, for instance, if you take a lot of antioxidants before you exercise, you don’t get the [inaudible 00:20:56] effect because you got to stress the system. It’s just nice because when the body is in a fed state, it wants to build tissue, and when it’s in a less fed state like at night, when you are sleeping and with the fast, your body works at breaking down old tissue and using those parts to rebuild things with. Because the problem we have is when you are young, and you’re healthy and you’re rebuilding tissue, it’s really great. Those signals for growth are perfect. But as we get older, if all we keep getting is the signal of fedness and is that we keep old half dead cells alive and we wind up with a whole body burden of half, like people are talking about zombie cells.

Basically, they are cells that are growing and living but they really are not communicating well with each other and they’re not doing the cellular function. Like the liver, they’re in your liver and they’re alive but they are not processing chemicals like they should be. They’re just busy trying to stay alive and so when you exercise, you stress them but if you want to stress your liver cell, you’re better off doing it by not feeding it for awhile.

Dr. Weitz:            Right. Okay. Well let’s get back to mitochondria. So how is mitochondrial issues related to this chronic disease cycle?

Dr. Gordon:        Okay. Well I think the big thing is it was kind of like I was saying in the beginning, if you have somebody with quote on quote, “adrenal fatigue” or hypothyroidism or things of that nature, usually if you support them either with the hormones or even better, with lifestyle changes that will allow these things to happen, maybe getting rid of the gluten so you stop causing the inflammatory response in the thyroid, that’s great. But, if … one second. I’ve lost my train of thought there for a second. But when you are in complex disease, what I call the chronic complex diseases, it doesn’t work anymore because the problem isn’t that the mitochondria are low in let’s say CoQ10. I mean CoQ10 is very important in the electron transport train and if you give lots of people like with sometimes with adrenal fatigue, as they’re getting better, CoQ10, carnitine, which helps get the fatty acids into the mitochondria. Those things really help.

But, that’s because their mitochondria are functioning normally and they just [inaudible 00:23:46] needed a little help. But in things like chronic fatigue, you are actually … your mitochondria have turned themselves down for a reason. So it doesn’t matter. It’s like they have locked the door. So it doesn’t matter how much you are giving them, okay? They’re not going to use it and they’ve turned themselves down because they’re trying to … instead of just working right now as a energy production machine, because when they are working as the energy production machine, you give them more coq10. They’re able to move more electrons along that chain more efficiently, okay? But when they are now working as to modulate your immune defense system, they’re not producing energy. They change what they’re doing. So, I guess it’s like if you have a factory that’s making cars and you’re delivering carburetors, that’s great. But if suddenly the factory decides now to start making artillery, the carburetor isn’t used anymore.

Dr. Weitz:            Right.

Dr. Gordon:        And that’s basically it. So the mitochondria have changed function, partially. Obviously it’s not 100% but it’s a significant change. So giving them more raw materials to make energy doesn’t work because they’ve reprogrammed themselves to actually modulate your immune response.

Dr. Weitz:            So how do we fix these people? How do we change their mitochondria? How do we-

Dr. Gordon:        Well, that’s the million dollar question. That is what everybody is working on from different perspectives. Remember, this is one way of looking at the problem. I don’t want to tell you that this is the issue. This is one way of looking at it. But because the body is a system, we keep trying to get at it from a multitude of ways because ultimately, if you are stuck in one way, we start looking at others. So structure is one of the ways that I often begin to work with people who have been chronically ill because the vagus nerve has two components and one of the most basic component, the older component, is about self-defense. The newer component of the vagus nerve is about love and relaxing and feeling good. But the primitive part of the vagus nerve is there for self-defense and it also has a lot to do with controlling the gut.

And if we can begin to get the cranial mechanism and the thoracic spine and all that working better, we take some of the stress off the vagus nerve and we change the information because remember, this is an information system. What we’re talking about, I think, in chronic complex illness, is often the trigger is either [inaudible 00:27:04] or not as important anymore. The thing that caused it. And I have spent my life trying to get rid of the triggers. Treating Lyme disease. Treating all the [inaudible 00:27:19] and [inaudible 00:27:19] and all the viral infections. The heavy metals and the toxic load. So, these are all triggers and perpetuating factors that we have to address but in many people, that doesn’t work so well because when you try to treat the infection, you make them sicker because they can’t detox. They can’t detox because their whole body is stuck in this self-defense mode and it’s like frozen.

Because it’s very simple. Like when you get scared normally you can jump and then you can run. But when you get really scared, you freeze. You don’t even move. That’s the ultimate defensive mode. Like ontologically, how organisms are wired. It’s not about personality. It’s just about, you scare anybody, anybody deep enough, they will just freeze. And that’s what your cells do. That’s what your whole system does. When it’s significantly stressed, it stops moving. So any way we can return movement to the system might signal the body that it’s safe and the mitochondria are sensing danger signals. And this is what gets confusing. People always, once we start talking about safety and danger, people think we’re talking, oh this is a psychological problem. But safety and danger signals also operate, yes in a psychological space but on the chemical space. Smells can trigger danger. Viruses trigger danger signals. There is no psychological body separation.

Every immune cell has receptors for the neurotransmitters that deal with mood. Serotonin and dopamine. There’s no psychological, physical separation. I get so frustrated when people try to make things, oh this is a psychological illness. One of the things that I’ve been interested in is something called metabolomics, which is looking at a few hundred chemicals in the blood and we can see depressed people biochemical signature. This is a strict … so it doesn’t mean that … so yes, you can be depressed because you’ve been divorced. Your mother died. But ultimately, it’s a biochemical state. And that biochemical state is what controls the organism and because the mitochondria are just sensing those small chemicals that affect mood, that’s the same chemicals that your mitochondria are sensing. So when you get infected by a virus, you get sickness behavior. What happens? You get tired. And you don’t want to be around people.

I mean not many people when they get sick want to go to a party. They want to go quiet … in a quiet room, by themselves. That’s a strictly physiologic response, but it’s driven by the same chemicals. This is driven … this is what we call a sickness behavior and it’s biochemical. It has psychological outcomes. And so I just … I might be killing this but I just always worry that people are going to hear me saying that these are psychological illnesses, when they’re the farthest thing from it. Most of my patients were successful, highly motivated, and not depressed human beings. The problem is is that when they go to the doctor, and the doctor, their blood tests are normal. Their regular blood test, like their blood count, and their kidneys and liver functions look good. And their EKGs normal, and their chest x-ray is normal and whatever else [crosstalk 00:31:46]-

Dr. Weitz:            But patients think those are very sensitive tests to how their body’s functioning but those are very insensitive tests and your [inaudible 00:31:54] could be positive, If there’s significant destruction of liver cells, it doesn’t tell you whether your liver is really functioning very well.

Dr. Gordon:        At all. Absolutely. So the bottom line is, is that these people who I see are almost always labeled for the first five or 10 doctors that they see as being depressed, and that’s why I am so sensitive to the idea that I’m talking [inaudible 00:32:16] this is a psychological illness. But it is not. But that is what medicine has always done. And multiple sclerosis. 40 years ago, half the time that people were diagnosed as depressed. Okay? And before we had … well, we had an MRI 50 years, but still, before the diagnosis was made conclusively by physical, by evidence, people were told that they were depressed.

Dr. Weitz:            Right.

Dr. Gordon:        And that’s what we do. So we do not understand these illnesses well. We’re developing more and more treatments, and they work. The problem is, we’re now dealing, like I said in the beginning, the disease of the individual. Because I think Lyme disease is ubiquitous. I think it’s all over. I think millions of people have Lyme disease. But they don’t have any symptoms. Just like how many people have the herpes infection? Everybody’s got herpes.

Dr. Weitz:            Or get exposed to some mold or get exposed to some heavy metals. You start measuring trace amounts of mercury.

Dr. Gordon:        Everybody. It’s just that … but some people because of their biochemical individuality, and the number of environmental stresses they’ve had, they wind up with illness, and that illness is just a reflection of their body and their life exposures. And that is why we don’t do well with them in a medicine that is looking for treatments that are going to work for 80% of the people. So it gets difficult and we start having to look much more at the individuality and we’re getting there, because finally in the last five years and maybe hopefully in the next two or three, we’re going to get enough ability to look at what’s called transcriptomics, what RNA … not just your genes, but what genes are you actually expressing, okay? So what proteins you’re actually making, plus what I call the metabolomics, what small molecules you’re making and maybe when we put these together, we’ll actually be able to see which pathways in you are most stressed and need supporting or addressing.

Because right now, the more information we get, we’re actually getting almost more … I think I’m getting more confused, anyway. I don’t know about the other people out there. It’s because individual chemicals … I mean, you can be very high in succinate, but succinate can be used all over the body for different processes. So we only think of it in terms of the Krebs cycle. But, it’s a building block. You used to make porphyrins, and just make hemoglobin and all these parts of your body. So when it’s high or low, assuming it has something to do with the Krebs cycle, is a huge assumption. And that’s the problem.

We have to look at the body from multiple viewpoints. And we’re almost there. I think we’re almost there but-

Dr. Weitz:            And by the way, for those listening who are not familiar, succinate is something that might show up in an organic acids profile, right?

Dr. Gordon:        Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Because it’s like … and these tests are … I mean, I don’t mean that we shouldn’t be doing them because occasionally, they do give us insight but lots of times, the insight isn’t really useful for that person because it’s not like when we measure your blood count, and you’re anemic, we know that for most … I mean, that’s not always true, but for most people if they are anemic, their blood count is low. We measure their iron is low. We go, oh, give them iron and their blood count goes up and they feel better. That’s wonderful. Right. But if you have chronic disease, many times your iron can look low but giving you iron might even make you worse because your body has turned down production of the red blood cells for a reason and when you give more iron, you’re just increasing oxidative stress because iron really … excess iron might be one of the more toxic things we have.

There are some people [inaudible 00:36:54] longevity world that actually busy donating blood a few times a year because they want to keep their iron stores low. It’s … that’s what I meant about the symphony. All these things play a role but if they don’t play a role at the right time, if they’re making discordant notes, then we get disease. And it’s just a … I guess my plea to patience, I should say [inaudible 00:37:32] point of all this. I don’t want to sound overwhelming. Like oh my god, we know nothing. The beauty of all this mess is that we still know a lot for what to do for the individual but what happens is that people get very frustrated because as you said in the beginning is that when you start off with this complex disease, and if you go to one doctor, you’re going to be told you have hypothyroidism. You try that, it didn’t work. Then adrenal fatigue. And then you’ve got mold illness and then maybe you go to somebody else and you got Lyme.

And it’s frustrating. The point is, there’s a lot of doctors out there right now who are getting the experience and beginning to be able to tell when you just have a positive test, or whether that test is being expressed. Whether the symptoms you have really fit the Lyme or the mold or more importantly, it’s often … many people … what really makes this tough is that in my experience, most people don’t develop significant mold illnesses. Mycotoxin sensitivity … Now I’m talking about allergy, but sensitivity to the toxins that molds can make. Most of us can be exposed to that and we can detox them and deal with them fine. Okay? It’s the people who’ve often had Lyme disease, and Lyme changes how your immune system responds and then they have difficult with being able to metabolize the mold toxins. So it’s a house, not of cards, but it’s a house being built in your body of reactions to things because it’s a interactive dance between your immune system and these bugs.

Because these are the bugs that want to live with us. They’re not trying to kill us. They want to be part of our community.

Dr. Weitz:            And should we think of it in terms of cumulative overload? Some people refer to the, you have this giant bucket and when it’s close to the top and you get exposed to something that stresses your system, it overflows and you get all these symptoms and if you could empty out several pails of water from the bucket, now you’ve got a reserve so you can deal with things.  Well, yes. I think that always has been a good analogy.

Right. That’s kind of the model that we look at. So okay, we take the mold factor out. Maybe we get rid of the heavy metals, and now we’ve removed some of the triggers, so now you … yeah, rebuild some of your cellular reserves. So now if you do get exposed to something, it maybe is not problematic for you. Whereas if you are always close to the top, you’re going to react to everything.

Dr. Gordon:        Well, yeah. I mean, and another lens on that is that when you remove, let’s say the heavy metals, then suddenly your immune system is now working better and then it can keep Lyme or the viruses in check.

Dr. Weitz:            Exactly.

Dr. Gordon:        And so [inaudible 00:40:48] they’re not making you ill. Because you see, [inaudible 00:40:51] more importantly, sometimes I think you actually can control your own immune response because many times, there are people who’s significant symptoms in Lyme and the tick borne illnesses are not the bugs, but their body’s response to the bugs are overwhelming. They create this … The cellular defense response is so heightened that it makes you sick because remember, most symptoms of inflammation, the swelling, the redness, that’s your own cellular response. That’s not the bug. Your body does that while it’s fighting. And like I said, the sickness behavior. Wanting to go lie down. Fatigued. Not losing your appetite. That’s not the bug. That’s the body’s own self-defense response that’s now stuck on. So when we remove some of the toxic exposure, your immune system can often come back and stop overreacting and stop acting like a three year old. I mean, that’s the problem. The immune system goes into a primitive place where everything is danger. Everything is no, or screaming at [crosstalk 00:42:15].

Dr. Weitz:            And then the immune system starts tweeting in the middle of the night and declaring national disasters and where there aren’t any.

Dr. Gordon:        Exactly. That’s it. [crosstalk 00:42:27]. But it goes back to a primitive pattern. Right, a fear. Very similar to yes, our midnight tweets. Yes. Fear. Instead of reacting like an adult which can [inaudible 00:42:38] and realize that life … You see, that’s it. It’s very interesting is that life, in the complexity of life in the organism only happens when there can be [inaudible 00:42:54] of cooperation and balanced responses because that’s how your body works. In fact, that’s how we interact well with viruses. Viruses will succeed if they learn how to have a balanced response, if they kill us, which is the … like not the win-win, but I win, you lose situation, they don’t well in the long-run.

Dr. Weitz:            Right. No, they want a host that they can reproduce and go into another host. Right.

Dr. Gordon:        Exactly. [inaudible 00:43:22] cooperation which is another … but that’s really what happens. So getting back to the idea is the toxicity of our world. One of the points that I’d like to make that I think is so important is I been doing this now since 19 … so close to 40 years. And I can tell you that … Hashimoto’s for instance, the thyroid [inaudible 00:43:47], I mean when I started in medicine, we could test for it. It was not that common. Now it’s a dime a dozen. I mean, all the autoimmune … it’s called autoimmune diseases, the kind of Lyme symptoms we see. When I … [inaudible 00:44:08] my partner, like Wayne Anderson, he started treating Lyme in like 19 … in ’90. In ’91. It was still often relatively easy. The people have gotten sicker, and sicker and sicker and sicker. I don’t think the bugs have gotten … maybe the bugs have changed. But I think it’s us. I mean, the toxic load in our environment has gone like not linearly but logarithmically up over the last 40 years.

And I think that is why we’re seeing these illnesses and we’re seeing so much dysfunction at the mitochondrial level because when the mitochondria sense toxins, part of their job … They are smart but they are not smart. If the toxin ties up the biochemical reaction that is going to produce the raw materials that the mitochondria need, the mitochondria can’t tell the difference between [inaudible 00:45:11] and a virus using those same raw materials. All I knows is that it’s not getting the raw materials that it should get. The NADH and NADPH. It’s not coming in, into the mitochondria from the cell. And that triggers the, what we call the cell danger response. Where the mitochondria stop producing as much energy. They start using ATP, the energy molecule, as a messenger, okay? The ATP, they start sending ATP outside the cell.

So normally, there’s a very tiny amount of ATP around the cell because actually, it’s a neurotransmitter in a way. There’s actually 17 receptors on the cell membrane and different cell membranes for what they call [inaudible 00:46:02] ATP, and AMP and all these energy molecules. They actually work to communicate. They’re part of the cell’s cell signaling function and when the mitochondria sense danger, they start sending more ATP outside the cell and this gives the signal that the cell’s in danger and they’re also making less energy so toxic load acts the same as a virus on your body.

Dr. Weitz:            Cool. So I’m going to have to bring this discussion to a close in the next few minutes.

Dr. Gordon:        [crosstalk 00:46:43] we were definitely not linear.

Dr. Weitz:            Definitely not. So how do we want to end it?

Dr. Gordon:        Oh.

Dr. Weitz:            What kind of final thoughts you want to have?

Dr. Gordon:        Final thoughts. Is I think the most important thing is to if you’ve been ill for a long time, is to not give up hope. Okay? Is that it’s … the unfortunate part of this illness I think is many more people actually run out of money than of help. Because, honestly, because we don’t have perfect treatment regiments. We don’t even have … I don’t even think we have decent treatment regiments. So much of the time, I said what that doctor knows how to do, that you wind up spending a lot of money and not getting very far. But the reason I say don’t give up hope is I’ve seen people who have been sick for 20, 30 years, get better. But, to be fair, I’m not going to tell you. I don’t get everybody better. Far from it. I mean, I wish I did. These are difficult illnesses. But so many people do get better because there are so many different reasons that you can wind up with chronic fatigue. And I think that’s the thing. Don’t give up because somebody you know didn’t get better. You are different, and it might turn out that with you, the pick-up sticks model that’s need is maybe just getting out of the moldy environment for you.

Maybe that’s going to be the big deal. Maybe getting the toxins out of your system. Maybe just getting the right structural work done. I mean, there’s so many pieces that can then allow the body to enter the healing cycle and really go back to normal. I mean, that is my message of hope. The frustration is picking the first step, is not always clear. But don’t give up because there is a step that will help you. We just have to find it for you.

Dr. Weitz:            Great. So how can listeners get ahold of you or find out more information about you? Are you accepting new patients?

Dr. Gordon:        Yeah. I started to again. For awhile I wasn’t and it was getting … but now I started seeing new patients because I like to send people on quicker. I find that what I’m really good at is evaluation and giving people pretty good idea of where they need to go. But I like to send people because I do so many things, I prefer to send people on to other doctors who kind of specialize in the area that they need the most support in. And then they can come back to me and we can go to the next level. So with that being said, I am concentrating my practice, as of May, in San Rafael. Our website, or what is it … I think it’s gordonmedical.com, I believe. I don’t know these things. Okay. Yeah, is the website and they can find the information there. But I just … what I’m hoping to do is more research. I’m trying to get, I said some of the right [inaudible 00:50:09] leaders together because the more brilliant doctors are, often the harder it is to get them to work together.

Dr. Weitz:            Yes. Absolutely.

Dr. Gordon:        And that is my dream, because I don’t know everything. I need a lot of help.

Dr. Weitz:            You sure know a lot and thanks for sharing with us today, Dr. Gordon.

Dr. Gordon:        My pleasure. Really. It was fun, Ben, and next time we get to chat, we’ll talk more about … I would love to talk to you about the body.

Dr. Weitz:            Absolutely. Yeah.

Dr. Gordon:        That to me is what’s missed by so many physicians. They [crosstalk 00:50:46]-

Dr. Weitz:            The structural component. Yeah.

Dr. Gordon:        How important structural component is.

Dr. Weitz:            Yeah. Great. Excellent. Thank you, Eric.

Dr. Gordon:        Be well.

Dr. Ben Weitz is available for nutrition consultations specializing in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders like IBS/SIBO and Reflux and also specializing in Cardiometabolic Risk Factors like elevated lipids, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure and also weight loss, as well as sports chiropractic work by visiting his website at www.drweitz.com.

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Eric Gordon MD, Immune Issues, Lyme Disease + Coinfections, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), Metabolomics