In this episode of the Natural Evolution Podcast with Michael Roesslein, Dr. Eric Gordon discuss the details of chronic inflammation in tandem with chronic illness. As we break down the very important cycle of cell danger response – including the role of the mitochondria – we talk about ways we can support our resilient bodies with personalized care.
If you don’t stress the system, you don’t know where the weak things are. Then when you really need them, they’re going to fail on you.
It’s just like what they do when they want to make sure a car is going to run well – they drive it fast.
Dr. Eric Gordon, Season 2 Episode 18, the natural evolution Podcast
The second part of this 2-part series is available for listening now! Listen to episode 19 to explore Mycotoxins and Immune Responses with Eric Gordon, MD.
Michael Roesslein: And we are live, I am here today. This is going to be really fun, I’m excited. We just talked for a half hour before we even came on the air. I am joined by Dr. Eric Gordon. Dr. Gordon, thanks for being here today.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Pleasure, thank you for having me, Michael.
Michael Roesslein: Yeah, and it’s fun. Dr. Gordon is actually our doctor. He’s the one that we’ve worked with, with Mire and her multiple autoimmune, and who knows what else conditions over the last couple years. So it’s really, really fun to have you here. And maybe we’ll talk about that, maybe we won’t, but it’s fun to connect and talk in a way that’s not around something awful that’s going on. So, much better to connect this way than when she was in a flare.
Michael Roesslein: So for those who don’t know, Dr. Gordon is the president of the Gordon Medical Research Center, which is in the San Francisco Bay area and the founder and owner of Gordon Medical Associates, which specializes in complex chronic illness. In addition to clinical practice of over 30 years, Dr. Gordon is engaged in clinical research and has created a series of medical symposia bringing together leading international medical researchers and cutting-edge clinicians focused on chronic fatigue syndrome, Lyme disease, autoimmune diseases, and autism among others.
In 2016, he was co-author with Dr. Robert Naviaux on a groundbreaking study: Metabolic Features of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Dr. Gordon is also the medical advisor to Tec Bioscience and GMRC, which is a collection site for Lyme Disease Biobank. So lung disease, autoimmune disease, autism, chronic fatigue, mold, which we’re probably going to talk about in another interview. These are the heavy hitters of chronic disease. These are… When she was working with health clients about five years ago, when somebody listed at least one of those things on their intake form, I knew I had to go find somebody like yourself to help out because these are different, but similar in the means that they’re all very chronic and complex illness, right? Like we’re not talking about simple things here. So I guess we were going to start with really just setting the stage of, what is the difference between chronic disease and chronic illness and acute disease, and we can kind of go from there.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Well, thank you. And I just want to clarify one important thing is, I always like to say the paper with Dr. Naviaux, we supply the patients, he supplied the brains.
Michael Roesslein: Okay, important distinction.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah, no, no. Really, I have spent my life trying to understand biochemistry and Bob, Dr. Naviaux, he’s just one of those rare individuals who has somehow managed to keep it. He used to keep it in his brain and I just go, I’m in awe, because it’s a beautiful thing.
Michael Roesslein: I’ve read some of his work and everything with the cell danger response has really changed the entire way that we see chronic disease, at least to me, in the last five years with that information. Which we’re going to talk about a lot [crosstalk 00:03:30]
Dr. Eric Gordon: And we’re going to go into that because this is the thing is, I’m going to tell you, I have been treating… I started off in medicine in 1980. So I started in hospital work and I had always been interested in what in those days we called alternative medicine. But after medical school and residency, I couldn’t believe that, that stuff could possibly work in these really sick people. So I just stayed in the hospital world for about 10 years, but got more and more frustrated with, yes, we could save people’s lives, but they didn’t do so well after. And that’s where I started to realize that yeah, they had the pneumonia or the heart attack or a car accident, it was wow, we could do a lot.
Dr. Eric Gordon: But six months later when they still were not back to normal, I couldn’t do much. And that’s what got me to go back to my earlier love of working in what then we called alternative, now people call integrated of it, functional and this and that. But anyway, it’s just looking in my way of thinking about it, it’s just trying to solve a problem instead of getting the cookbook. Because when you’re treating acute medicine, people kind of act the same. When the body is broken immediately, a bullet wound, barring, huge differences in body mass, is all kind of treated the same.
Michael Roesslein: Heart attack.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah, the same [crosstalk 00:05:13] Yeah, pneumonia. You got this bug, we give you that antibiotic. We might give you a little more, a little less, depending on your size or your kidney function, but still it’s the same thing. And so it’s cookbook and it’s a really important cookbook, but it falls apart in chronic illness. And that’s because in chronic illness, the issue is not the trigger as much as it is you. Your body’s response to the illness, okay?
in the first event, the bullet is the problem. But six months later that’s been removed, it’s how your body has reorganized itself, how it has healed and is healing. That’s what actually, Dr. Naviaux, he’s not… Don’t think he’s the only one coining the term, but he liked the term of the black box of healing. It’s this, we do all these steps and then we wait for the body to actually heal.
And what we have to do in chronic illness is, look at the triggers they’re important. Whether it be infection, toxicity, genetic predisposition, those are the things we all have to look at that. But at the end of the day, we have to really see how your body is dancing, what chemicals you are making that are slightly different than other people’s, what your symptoms are and how you respond to therapies. And that’s what’s frustrating for people who have chronic illness, because most of us still are working with a model that, I’ve got this problem and you should have the answer.
Michael Roesslein: The same answer for everybody with a [inaudible 00:07:01]
Dr. Eric Gordon: And the same answer for everyone. Or you come to my clinic and I’ve got ABC to do, and it better work. And that is where I think many people with chronic illness get very frustrated is they go to do doctors who are just amazing at what they do. But if you don’t fit their paradigm, if you don’t fit their story, you don’t do very well, and then you think that they’re bad or [inaudible 00:07:31] or that they’re all wrong. And they’re not, it’s just that if you have mold problems and go to a doctor who specializes in mold toxicity, well, that’s great. But if you have mold problems, but your real issue is an infection, it’s not going to work so well. And vice versa, that’s the big thing.
And now we have the mast cell activation world. And again, mast cell is a huge problem, but if that’s the only thing you treat and you haven’t looked to what might be tickling the immune system to cause it, you’re not going to get very far. But if mast cell is your big issue and you try to treat somebody’s Lyme disease, which may be the underlying trigger, you’re not going to get very far either. So anyway, chronic illness is complex because by the time it gets to become chronic, you’ve got a few things playing, usually.
Michael Roesslein: Against the body, as much as the toxin or the stress or the thing, it’s the body’s [inaudible 00:08:38] system responding in a way. I think a lot of the public first heard about this with COVID because the word cytokines storm became like a news headline overnight when COVID first kicked off and people became aware that the belief was that it wasn’t the pathogen that was causing a lot of the damage, it was the body’s response to the pathogen, and over response to the pathogen, an uncontrolled response, right?
Dr. Eric Gordon: Absolutely. And that is the nature of chronic illness. It’s just that it’s usually a slower burn.
Michael Roesslein: That’s over years versus a few days.
Dr. Eric Gordon: A few days, right. Instead of a cytokine storm, you have a cytokine light mist.
Michael Roesslein: Forever.
Dr. Eric Gordon: That doesn’t go away. And that’s the thing, you live in some areas, you get rainstorms a few months a year and then it’s dry like if you’re in California. If you’re on East Coast, you get rain, you never know when it’s going to happen.
Michael Roesslein: A cytokine mist, that’s going to be the name of this episode. So it’s definitely a thousand cuts, and the thousand cuts like change the way your physiology functions. It makes things dysfunctional.
Dr. Eric Gordon: And that’s where… One of the things that keep invoking the good Dr. Naviaux because one of his big points that I have sometimes fought against is that, we have to kind of rebalance the systematic response. Because I still find lots of people if we find the toxin or the bug and we actually can get rid of it, the body then can reestablish its own balance point again. The immune system can go back to being the normal ebb and flow. And I think that… And Bob’s point is that, just like a good natural path is that let’s reestablish the terrain. Let’s try to get that important day-night cycling back to sleep. Because so many people when they’ve been ill for a while, they lose their circadian rhythm and that goes.
Michael Roesslein: Which is then a self-perpetuating-
Dr. Eric Gordon: Self-perpetuating inflammation like when your security rhythm is off. Again, some people can compensate. There are people who stay up all night and work all day and do just fine. But most of us that’s a stress.
Michael Roesslein: I am not one of those people. [inaudible 00:11:10]
Dr. Eric Gordon: No, me either. I wish I was, I’ve always wanted to be the five-hour night person, unfortunately not.
Michael Roesslein: I-sleep-when-I’m-dead person is going to be dead a lot sooner than I am. So probably, but so-
You mentioned inflammation and I mentioned cytokine storm, which is inflammation. People familiar with inflammation, it’s the red skin, it’s the swelling, it’s the heat, it’s the [inaudible 00:11:39] And that’s usually if it’s that visible red skin, swelling, heat, you have some sort of acute situation, but this happens chronically in chronic disease cases, right? This chronic inflammation.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yes. Well, think of it… COVID is a great example, COVID is perfect in a way because this is something people are really aware of is we have long COVID and the vaccines reactions, okay?
Which are both perfect examples of the cell danger response [inaudible 00:12:15] So let me sort of tie this together with one story is, as you said is that, first sign of infection that people know about is, redness, pain, swelling, and we say loss of function. That is like the body’s first response to injury. And that’s when neutrophils, the most primitive part, not the most primitive part, but actually, well, one of the first step when we call the innate immune system comes in. These are spike blood cells that come in and quickly at the first site of injury and-
Michael Roesslein: Kind of indiscriminately, they’re not very into… It’s… like the antibody system, yeah.
Dr. Eric Gordon: They’re there before, yeah, they come in like Day 1. And one of the things that in long, not in long COVID, but in that when people get really sick with COVID, when the cytokine storm have is that we find normally after you’ve been sick for, five, six, seven because usually this happens at Day 7 to 10 in COVID, most infections by that time, the neutrophils are fairly have gotten lower. The neutrophils spike the first day, two, three days then they start to go down and you start seeing more lymphocytes. Well, one of the ways to tell that people are really sick with COVID is that Day 7, their neutrophils are still high relative to their lymphocytes.
Michael Roesslein: So the body hasn’t shifted from that innate response?
Dr. Eric Gordon: That first guess. Right, yeah. We call it the acquired immune system is the lymphocytes, the T cells and B cells. And they tend to come in and at the same time, they’re more adapt at just targeting a cell that is displaying a protein that says danger, I’m sick.
Michael Roesslein: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Eric Gordon: The neutrophil will often show up things around it too, and just create a lot of inflammation. The lymphocytes, the T cell and B cells tend to be a little bit more discriminating in what they attack and how they attack.
Less collateral damage.
Michael Roesslein: Less collateral damage, yeah.
Dr. Eric Gordon: They require a lot more feedback from the cell before they kill it, they require two or three signals to go. This is a sick cell.
Michael Roesslein: The neutrophil don’t ask questions?
Dr. Eric Gordon: Not as many, no.
They respond to pattern recognition. The innate immune system, that first step will respond. It’s a more or less like going after everything that looks like a dog. Well the acquired immune system knows it only wants to go after, let’s say, German Shepherds, it’s going to leave the Poodles alone.
Michael Roesslein: Okay got you.
Dr. Eric Gordon: It’s that simple on some levels, and that’s why it’s so dangerous when that innate immune system stays upregulated. But that’s the cytokine storm, that’s what can kill you quickly. That’s still not chronic disease. Chronic disease is usually when the dysfunction is in the acquired immune system, the T and B cells are not working as well.
The innate immune system is still activated sometimes because those T and B cells, many of the T cells are T-regulatory cells that will tamp things down, that will let the body know, okay, it’s time to relax. As we spoke in the beginning when we went on air, the simplest thing, a way of thinking about the immune system is that it’s good it for the immune system to get angry, but it should stay angry very shortly, just like a person. It’s fine to get angry in the moment.
Michael Roesslein: As soon as the thing that made it angry is gone, it needs to be able to calm down.
Dr. Eric Gordon: It needs to calm down and resolve and reestablish communication and relationship. So if you stay angry, it makes for a difficult life for you and all around you and it’s the same thing in the immune system. Basically, if you would… Psychological concepts apply to the immune system perfectly. They really do. There’s no difference… One of my terms for some people who are so inclined to think psychologically about things is I call it the neurotic tendency of the body. If you get stuck in a habit, pattern of response, you then develop a chronic disease. And whatever that habit pattern is, and I’m not talking about just psychologically, just your immune system begins to stay stuck. So most-
Michael Roesslein: And maybe some main culprits for causing it to do that? As you mentioned infections, there’s certain types of infections that can affect this-
Dr. Eric Gordon: The thing about infections is that sometimes they can be persistent and sometimes they can just leave traces behind, they keep the immune system going. So, interesting examples, of course, Lyme, Bartonella, Babesia are big three that we think about a lot as chronic infections. And then of course the DNA viruses, Epstein–Barr, HH-6, cytomegalovirus, those are the big players that people have often related to kind that may be having something to do with chronic fatigue.
And then probably in about a third of people they do, because if… But all of these there’s confusing states. Is that in sometimes the bug is still there actively reproducing. We see that a lot in Lyme where people can be sick for years, but if we actually are able to kill the Lyme, a lot of symptoms resolve. And maybe a third of people with Epstein–Barr, if you actually keep them on antivirals at high doses for two or three years, about a third people resolve, now that’s a big commitment so we don’t do that often.
But this fellow Dr. Lerner, who has since passed away, did that a lot in the early 2000s. And he had really good data, but it’s only about a third. But what we see, I think even more so is that parts of the bug remain, and COVID is a great example. There’s a fellow Dr. Bruce Patterson, who is doing both research and helping us treat people with, quote unquote, long COVID and vaccine reactions. And he’s demonstrating that a piece of the spike protein, the S1 component of the spike protein, for those of you who really keeping up with spike proteins.
Michael Roesslein: Hey, I’ve never seen lay persons nerd out on biochemistry as much as I have in the last two years. So you’ve got non-medical and science professionals out there that are very well-versed now on the term spike protein, and probably even on S1, which if you had told me that a few years ago, that would become a thing I wouldn’t have been able to guess would cause that. Pandemic wouldn’t have been at the top of my list, but yes, I think you’re speaking a language people understand.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah, I too, I never listened to podcasts before COVID and now I’ve become addicted because there’s just so much information out there and there’s no other way to get it as quickly. And depending on who I listen to, I can like see their bias points. But anyway, but they all have good information, you just have to know where they’re coming from.
But so getting here, Dr. Patterson, he’s somebody who was doing research years ago with dengue. Because dengue people know, a very common connection in Central America, South America, has a persistent form, a chronic form, but they’ve never been able to find the bug left, it’s not reproducing anymore. And he found that pieces of it were stuck in monocytes. Monocytes are part of the innate immune system.
Michael Roesslein: The last one.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah, the monocyte is also called a macrophage when it’s in your tissue. When it’s floating around the bloodstream, it’s a monocyte and once it slips into the tissue, it becomes a macrophage just because that always confused me anyway. So anyway, but these one subset of monocytes called atypical and that’s just their name, can actually eat the spike, the S1 protein. Because the S1 part of the spike gets released when the virus gets in, goes into the cell. And that S1 piece, when some monocytes take it up, they’re not able to destroy it. Most of us they can, but in some people they just can’t.
And so that protein sits in there and it causes the spike, it causes the monocyte to stay in an inflammatory state. And when that monocyte then binds to a blood vessel, because it floats around the blood vessels, it creates local inflammation. And because this is an [inaudible 00:22:02] situation, normally the monocyte would basically die. Most of your white bloods cells, except some of your T and B cells don’t live long. I mean they live days usually and they constant turnover, but these atypical monocytes, once they have a spike protein can be persistent and they can trigger persistent inflammation. COVID is gone, there’s… The fact that there are-
Michael Roesslein: Just a piece of a protein that’s stuck in a monocyte that’s causing the monocyte to cause tissue inflammation or cell inflammation.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Cell inflammation, which can causes an inflammation. This goes back to what we haven’t discussed, but we should mention is something called sickness behavior. Sickness behavior is what happens when the cell knows that there’s something wrong. It’s basically fatigue, social isolation, decreased appetite, fever. These are all things that your immune causes and when you’re ill. And it actually even happens in single-cell organisms. When an amoeba is infected with a virus or a toxin, it will send off chemicals, which is related to the cell danger response, which will get to in a while, that will signal other bugs to stay away from it.
Michael Roesslein: So that they don’t get sick.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah, there’s danger here, stay away. This is sort of how the system works. Animals do this, we do that, we signal danger and then others go away. So anyway-
Michael Roesslein: These monocytes that have this S1 piece of the spike protein in it, they do not signal to stay away from it?
Dr. Eric Gordon: Oh, no. Well, the thing is that their job is to signal inflammation that there’s danger. And so when they’re on that vascular bed, they have the… Now normally, they are signaling on that vascular bed that there’s danger. They usually picked up that signal from the endothelial cell, from the cell [inaudible 00:24:24] But this time they’re showing up with this thing already there, and so now they’re sending out a false signal in a way.
But that causes other immune cells to come and start the… Once the danger signal goes off-
Michael Roesslein: The case of a dog. When they trigger-
Dr. Eric Gordon: Right. When the fire alarm goes off, the fire trucks come.
Michael Roesslein: That’s happening in the vascular lining, so that’s why long COVID. And even now, the COVID seems to have switched a little, I didn’t mean to turn this into an interview, we weren’t going to talk about that. But at the beginning, it was all chest.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Lung.
Michael Roesslein: It was all lungs and coughing. And then it seemed now or Delta, at least like before, now it’s weird, but vascular it’s more… It switched or maybe it was always vascular was just presenting in the lungs, but vascular now is the focus and endothelial damage and things to do with blood circulation and clotting and such. So it makes sense. It’s incredibly they were able to figure out what you just described so quickly.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Well, because he was already on it, it’s the old story. He was already looking.
Michael Roesslein: So somebody already discovered it with a different disease?
Dr. Eric Gordon: Exactly, and he… I’m assuming that’s what it was, I don’t know for sure. But it makes sense.
Michael Roesslein: Oh, yeah, that’s kind of an advantage. The idea was there already to look for disease.
Dr. Eric Gordon: He was already looking at Lyme that way too, is that he found a glycoprotein. Because the big question with Lyme is that, what we call chronic Lyme disease is a whole other… Is there’s a religious war in America and all over actually over whether chronic Lyme exists or just post-Lyme syndrome. And that’s whole other talk we can get into, but it’s that same problem is there are some people who actually have chronic Lyme, if you treat the bug, it will get better. And then there’s a lot of people who know the problem is the immune system is overactivated to something the Lyme either did to the system or as Dr. Patterson and other people think, maybe there’s still a glycoprotein left over from the Lyme that’s triggering the system. But because we have these mixed pictures and again, medicine likes to think in terms of monolithic stories, there’s one story for everyone.
Michael Roesslein: Always has to be this.
Dr. Eric Gordon: And it’s just not, it’s multiple. But getting back to the COVID story just briefly, the inflammation in the lungs was, yeah, it’s always been microemboli from… In the beginning of COVID, I felt very alone because I was in Marin County and we didn’t have much COVID here. The first year it was like everybody just took to ground, it was like they didn’t go out of the house. And so we had very little COVID and I felt a little deprived. I felt like I missed, I wanted to be treating people.
But now thankfully since everybody got bored and started traveling, we’ve had plenty of COVID. And what I saw early on with, if you actually got blood tests on people in that first week which wasn’t being done, you could see inflammation, you could see clotting abnormalities in people who weren’t even very sick, in people who are almost asymptomatic. And I got D-dimers on and they were two or three times normal. Now, D-dimer is not a great test, they don’t really jump up and down until it’s five times normal, but it shows you that you’re clotting and your body is having to break down clot. And this was in people who had no symptoms. So-
Michael Roesslein: Then it makes sense that the people that have the comorbidities that are related to difficulties with that to begin with or something to do with blood flow or circulation or clotting, or like high blood sugar and obesity, like those conditions, it’s like they were starting with the bucket mostly full to begin with, or whatever analogy you’d want to use, behind the eight-ball. They already were struggling in the area in which the COVID infection tends to cause the most problems.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah, yeah, and irritate. Yeah, exactly, that’s a-
Michael Roesslein: It’s a gasoline on a fire they already had.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah.
Michael Roesslein: Versus starting a new fire.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Right, that’s the whole thing with the vaccine reactions is that, it’s, if you have a tendency to hypercoagulability or to mast cell activation, you have a higher chance of having a problem. And we don’t want to go down that rabbit hole, I can just say is that vaccines are great if you’re older. No question they save lives, they’re worth doing, don’t be foolish. It’s not just a flu. But if you’re 30, the odds ratio of what it’s going to do for you changes. Anyway, it’s the great problem of, okay, we won’t go into the public health debates. So getting that-
Michael Roesslein: So still falls under the same category or same of thing for everyone same thing [crosstalk 00:29:27]
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah, exactly, exactly. And in public health, you can’t make the distinctions between individuals, you see. And what’s wrong with medicine today is that they don’t want doctors to use our judgment anymore. They act as though we know it, that everything is-
Michael Roesslein: They follow the playbook.
Dr. Eric Gordon: And you can follow the playbook. And again, we said in the beginning, yeah, you can, if it’s acute heart attack, but not such a good idea a week later, or the month before, when you could have been tailoring your therapy for what that person’s problem were because they’re different. And so anyway, so we have this acute versus chronic. So here we are set up perfectly.
Most people who get COVID have minimal to no symptoms, a lot of people have symptoms, and most of them do just fine. But what percentage, whether it’s 10 or 20% of people are being left with persistent symptoms, that we still don’t know because our data collection is so terrible, and that’s because their body responds differently to inflammation. And of some number of them are going to have this persistent, this monocytes carrying the spike protein. I don’t know if that’s in everybody, but it’s in a lot-
Michael Roesslein: It’s something, it’s a factor that’s been identified that’s contributing to chronic inflammatory state.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Right. And to be fair and they are trying to get that test out there, but we can see the pattern in the cytokines. And I said, Dr. Patterson has this from in-cell diagnostics, I think it is, and where you can measure about, I think it’s 14 cytokines and you can see patterns of inflammation. Now these patterns are not totally specific to COVID because I’ve been doing them in a lot of people with long-term illnesses and we see similar patterns, but he has some interesting therapies that I think are really good.
But bringing this back to chronic disease is that we have to remember where we’re trying to understand chronic illness is to, you have to look at, okay, what are the possible triggers or environmental stressors that I’ve been exposed to? And what are the genetic and environmental tendencies I have? If you are a person who every time you got a mosquito bite, you kind of blew up, well, you really should look to the mast cell world. There’s probably some element of that happening with you if you get a rash every time you go out in the sun or if you get exposed to some stress. Yeah, that part of your immune system is probably a little hyper.
If you’re somebody who gets recurrent sinus infections or recurrent skin infections, well, maybe your IgGs aren’t that good, I mean that part of your immune system is a little off. There are many hints, but basically when you have chronic illness, you have to be willing to put like all the cards on the table, so to speak, and not decide that because my cousin did mercury detox and got better, that, that’s going to work for me.
Now, it’s not a bad idea but you got to look and see before you start really doing a strong detox. [inaudible 00:33:11] gentle detox and see how your body feels. Because if you start to detox and get a lot sicker and your symptoms really flare, well, whoa! So your problem, or one of your problems is that the detox pathways are not open. And high on my list there, of course, is glutathione not working well, methylation not working well, and there are ways that you can evaluate that before you hurt yourself.
If on the other hand you sauna and you take a few binders and a few oral heavy metal binders and you, it feels good and you start to feel better, you could probably be pretty sure that those systems are working. There’s always exceptions, but these are just of rules of thumb. But the most important thing is just go slow in whatever. I see so many people hurt themselves because they read on the internet that-
It can be any environmental toxin that they think is their problem. Whether it be metals, glyphosate, or just or EMFs. Because EMF to me, is an example of again, of a very sensitive system. And that’s often a beautiful human being. Some of the most just wonderful people are just… But they come in sensitive, they fear, they see auras. They can really sense the world, but that’s a gift, but they have to be a little more careful. Those are the people who will definitely not live near self towers or maybe not get the smart meter on their houses.
And well, other people, it’s not good for them, but they can tolerate it. It’s a little bit like head, like playing soccer. Some people can head the ball for like 30 years and they don’t have any problems. Other people do that a few times and they start getting headaches and if they keep doing it, they might wind up with early dementia when they’re 50. It’s we’re different. And so anyway I’m-
Michael Roesslein: Yeah, that’s another inconvenient fact that doesn’t align with the way that the medical system wants to work. Is that not everybody is going to respond to the same factors, the same of contributing to disease, not everybody is going to respond to the same, here’s your mercury detox, here’s your mercury detox, you’re going to feel awesome in a couple weeks, you’re going to feel terrible in 10 days. And that’s just the inconvenient truth of the situation. And I wanted to bring up… Well, we still have a little bit of time. You’d mentioned cell danger response a bunch of times.
We’ve talked about Bob Naviaux’s work. It plays… It’s not a separate thing from what we’re talking about with the chronic inflammation and you mentioned where the body, the cells try to turn, they become socially isolated, they slow down, they do all these different things when they’re sick, just like people do or dogs do or singles, so amoebas do or whatever. Cell dander response is a term that most people in our audience by now over the last few years it’s probably heard before it gets referenced a lot. That is it.
And where does it fall on that?
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah, let me give you the… I’ll try to be concise. I think the two important components are the cell danger response and mitochondria, because in Dr. Naviaux’s mind, they’re kind of one and the same. So he looks at this cell danger response, he’s broken down into like three components. The initial component is, the cell has is impacted by something, whether toxin or infection, it doesn’t really matter. When that happens, the toxin will tie up some molecules. Like if it’s like many figure, something like mercury will tie up sulfur compounds in the cell, and that will affect what goes into the mitochondria.
If it’s a virus, it will start using nucleotides, like some of the complex proteins for its own to make more viruses. And so suddenly the mitochondria are not getting the level of nutrients of NAD that it usually gets. When it senses that, the mitochondria immediately stop or slow down the production of ATP and it starts taking the ATP and routing it to the self surface where it acts as a communication molecule and says, it’s the first signal that there’s danger here.
Before you start putting antigens on the cell surface, the first thing you do is you put more ATP outside the cell, and that is the cell signal. There are receptors, there are 17 different receptors for various kinds of purines which ATP is one of. Anyway, so that’s the first thing that happens is you… And that’s where the fatigue comes in if it’s body wide because you’re no longer making energy very efficiently. But when it’s in one cell, it’s not making your whole body tired, it can happen just locally. So at that moment, and then oxygen starts to build up in that cell because the mitochondria use up oxygen and make water and carbon. They use the oxygen in the cell to make water and carbon dioxide out of the molecules that get in to the electron transport chain.
And so if they stop doing that, the oxygen concentration in the cell goes up, and that is oxidative, what people often refer to is oxidative stress. But Bob calls it oxidative shielding, because that’s a hint to the cell that then you start turning on genes to create prone-inflammatory molecules, because you’re trying to kill stuff in using inflammation to kill things in the cell that are causing a problem. So that’s that first step.
The second step in the cell danger response is when you now have taken care of the threat, but you’re beginning to rebuild the cell. You got to make new cells, you have to call stem cells in, you have to… And at that point, the mitochondria has switched over to what we call Warburg metabolism or where it’s still using sugar for energy, burning sugar directly and not using your electron transport chain to make a lot of energy, but it’s making some. And during this time, this is what you get cell growth, you’re getting cells to regrow.
And then in the third step, the cells are back to normal, but they now have to recommunicate. Because in the first step of the cell danger response, your cell membrane stiffens, okay. You shield because you don’t want that virus to get in, you don’t want more things to come in and we don’t want more things to go out. So I hope I haven’t confused people, but basically-
Michael Roesslein: No, it just puts up a wall like a stronger wall. It already has a wall, but it makes the wall stronger.
Dr. Eric Gordon: But the membrane-
Michael Roesslein: So whatever is causing the problem is if there’s more of it outside, it can’t get in and whatever’s inside, can’t get out to get the other cells.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Right, exactly. It’s just this first step is you change the cellular metabolism. That’s the basic step right there. The mitochondria change and they send signals to the genes and the nucleus to change because when you change the level of methylation and acetylation, so you have less methyl groups and less acetyl groups that are floating around or more, they get in and the histones, which control the start and stop signals more or less for DNA reading.
So that’s how the mitochondria control the genes. That’s how the small molecules control genes by usually affecting histones. There’s multiple other methods, but that’s the main one. And so that just tells you, so you start turning on more… Initially you turn on your oxidative genes that create a lot of stress, and then you start to turn on the antioxidant genes. When everything is working, this is a nice ebb and flow system. The NF-κB, you’ve got your Nrfs and then you’ve got your NF-κBs. It’s like ebb and flow, turn on oxidant stress, and then you get that reciprocal antioxidant.
And that’s why, basically most of the herbs we use are actually pro-oxidants. They go in there and they stimulate a little oxidant stress, and then we make antioxidants. Exercise is stress, the only exercise that really… If you really want to like make yourself healthy, you need to actually kill a bunch of cells doing it. If you don’t, you don’t get very far. That’s quite… Aerobic exercise or anaerobic, doesn’t matter, but you need to push a little bit to really get cell regeneration. And that’s the cell danger response basically is that cycle of injured cell, get rid of the injured cells rebuild and then get that system to communicate better again. That third step is really important.
And what happens in aging is we get stuck with cells that are left in the second step where they’re kind of growing, but they’re not really communicating well with the outside world. Those are senescent cells. Those are the things that lead to cancer and probably to scarring, heart disease, probably diabetes, where you have pancreatic cells, or other parts of the body where, they’re not going back to fully normal. They’ve been injured by something, whether it’s toxin or infection and they don’t complete this cycle. When we injure a cell, it normally goes through this nice cycle, you go in there, there’s a little inflammation. If the cell is basically healthy, the inflammation just stimulates that it repairs its inner workings, it restores its mitochondria.
Because as we age, we lose mitochondria. And if we can stress the mitochondria to a certain point, they actually will get stronger because you’ll wind up kind of getting rid of old stuff. I’m trying to think of a better analogy for this, but well, it’s just like preventive maintenance in a house. You begin to have some rotting wood, and you go in there and you take it out and you replace it with new wood, your house is going to stay wrong. If you haven’t stressed the house to find that place where the wood is rotted, then the rocks-
Michael Roesslein: It could all rot and you would never know until it collapses
Dr. Eric Gordon: Right. And it’s the same thing in the cell, in the healthy way of the cell danger response working in everyday life is that when you get a… That’s probably why it’s good to get exposed to viruses or small amounts of toxins or exercise. Because then you stress and then you wind up… It’s good to kill off the weak mitochondria or to repair the weakened part of the mitochondria. If it doesn’t get stressed, it doesn’t know that it’s got a weak spot.
So that’s why we need stress. That’s why we need low-grade infections. That’s why we… Because we were designed to interact with this natural world. Viruses aren’t bad things, a big percentage of our DNA is made up of retroviral. What we used to think is garbage, but it’s information.
Michael Roesslein: I’ve always got a kick out of that. I learned about that about 10 years ago, the term junk DNA and that most of our DNA is junk, it doesn’t do anything. And the first I was in a master’s program in physiology when I got taught that in 2008 at University of South Florida. And I was the only one that started looking around the room and being like, that can’t be true. There’s no way that that’s true. There’s no way that 90% of our DNA doesn’t do anything. It’s completely absurd. I bet it just doesn’t do anything and this is all childish. And then someone else was like, “Yeah, that’s probably it.” And then everybody disagree that, that’s the… It’s like embarrassing for humanity that, that’s ever… Sorry, I get agitated with the concept.
It implies that nature is dumb.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah. Well, no, no you are doing what I think is what smart people have done all through medicine. And I’m not always in that category of smart people because instead of… You are just doing that basic of thinking from first principles. And the one of the first principles is the body doesn’t do much unless it’s useful. Just like you don’t make stomach acid to cause ulcers, you spend a lot of energy to make stomach acid, it’s probably is important. And that same thing, you don’t conserve a whole lot of very expensive real estate called DNA for nothing.
Michael Roesslein: Yeah, it was just absurd. And then it started to come out like, oh actually it’s this and it’s this, and it does this. Just like tonsils and appendix and all those other things that I was told didn’t matter. That was earlier, I think they figured that out.
When I was [inaudible 00:48:47] What is this? Oh, it’s just some extra part you have, you don’t need that. They just cut that out. I’m like, what really? The body makes parts it doesn’t need? Are you guys sure this is the story? But any who, sorry to just take that to this direction, but-
Dr. Eric Gordon: No, it’s not, it’s that important part of like thinking and understanding that this is a process. And just like this concept of oxidative stress, so many people are gulping tons of antioxidants and it’s like very simple. If you take a whole lot of vitamin C before you work out, you’re not going to build muscles well. It’s [crosstalk 00:49:27]
Michael Roesslein: It prevents the breakdown of the other cells or bigger cells?
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yes. You want to stress them. You want to make sure that those weak points are noticed by the body and you get rid of them. And then you build new ones. If you don’t stress the system, you don’t know where the weak things are. And then when you really need them, they’re going to fail on you. It’s just like what they do when they want to make sure a car is going to run well. They drive it hard because sure, almost any vehicle you can slap together is going to run fine at five miles an hour on a smooth road, but let’s see what happens at 80 on a bump. I mean when the wheel goes to the… Okay, well that’s what you got to do with your body. It’s the same thing. Yeah, it’s nice to live out as a Sunday drive, but if you don’t stress it, you’re not going to do well. And it will be stressed because that’s life.
So the cell danger response, I feel so bad because I know it’s such a beautiful concept and it has so many pieces to it and I can never manage to put it eloquently enough is so it sounds, I feel like there’s clarity. Because it’s like they say, when you know something really well, you can make it simple.
Michael Roesslein: I love the things I can explain clearly and the things I can’t, but I understood your explanation.
It alters the metabolism, the mitochondria makes less energy, it builds a stronger wall around the outside and it puts up… There’s more oxygen than in the cell and around the cell.
Dr. Eric Gordon: And that’s Phase 1. That’s Phase 1 of the cell danger. That’s what you do, and that first moments of injury. Now, if you-
Michael Roesslein: And that’s where it gets stuck, right? Like the-
Dr. Eric Gordon: It can get stuck there. It can get stuck there and that will make a non-healing wound in a way. Something like gout, is an example of when you’re stuck in CDR1, you can’t turn off that neutrophil response. But luckily, most of the time we get pretty well through CDR1. Most of the chronic diseases are more in CDR2 and 3, where we’re stuck in half-finished. We’ve turned off the big noise and now we’re rebuilding tissue, but we still have to modulate the rebuilding. And the most important part is to reestablish normal communication. Because like your gut which turns over quickly, you can massacre that lots of times.
But brain, you can’t do that that often because in the brain, in nerves, muscle, and endocrine tissue, the architecture of the tissue has a lot of the information how each nerve sits one on top of the other and it’s not just how they communicate with their spatial orientation. That’s where repair in those areas is a lot trickier. Something like the liver is well designed for constant repair, and the intestines and skin.
Michael Roesslein: It’s how I survived my twenties.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Right, right, you could… That liver-
Michael Roesslein: Liver is very resilient.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Right, the liver is amazing. The liver is amazing. The brain is… I hope the brain is better than we think. I’m working on the brain repair now, I’ve reached that time. I’m thankfully older than I look and it’s that time in life when you really should attend to repair early. That is one of the things I always remind people. I always like to say, you get the first 50 years free, you can kind of do what you want, but in all ways-
Michael Roesslein: I started with the brain around 38, so I’m ahead of the curve. I started to learn a lot of the functional neurology, like neurodegenerative stuff, concussion syndromes, I’ve had a lot of concussions. I used to drink a lot, I’ve had a lot of risk factors for neurodegeneration, so I started the last few years with a lot of brain things. I feel like that’s one thing I’ve gotten right.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah, and that’s great, it could be… No, the younger you start, the better your odds are, many people feel. But a nice thing has shown that the body really is more forgiving than we knew. It just requires work. And for those of us that… The problem with men is denial, that’s why basically most of the people I see are women. I actually kind of really don’t like seeing men because they’re not really interested until they’re half-dead or three quarters.
Michael Roesslein: [crosstalk 00:54:38] audience is mostly women and people will ask me, why do you think that is? Because I started this company with a partner, Joel, and I was mid thirties, he is a little older than me, but we’re like early-mid-thirties guys. We started this health business around health educational things. When we sent out our first survey to find out who our audience was, our average person was about a 55-year-old woman. And we’re like, how is that the thing? And he goes, “It’s because guys don’t do things for their health and they have to be dead before they talk to anybody.” And usually it’s the wife that’s finding out the things to help the husband in the first place before he’s even ready to do things. So, sorry guys, you’re not very good at this.
Dr. Eric Gordon: No, they’re terrible. But that’s why we have war because we all think the bull is going to hit the other guy.
I have so many, what I call toys, so many interventions for health. And ask me how many I have used over the last 20 years and how often, it’s embarrassing. I can say, yeah, so I understand men, we just think we’re immortal and we do not understand, no matter how many of my friends have dropped dead [inaudible 00:56:03] So, but-
Michael Roesslein: Yeah, [inaudible 00:56:06] happen to them. But before we go, I just want to jump in a little bit to… We’ve talked a lot about chronic disease, chronic inflammation, how these things can happen with certain types of infections. Also, the cell danger response overview of how that happens and what happens with it and some of the results of that. And you mentioned, starting slow, starting small, that it’s not always the same things for everyone. But with chronic inflammation and chronic disease and some of these things in place, there’s no uniform answer to this, but where do people start? What’s the…
These things, the good is a lot of this can be reversed and corrected and the damage from it can be healed, but what are the foundations or basics of that? What would be a… Aside from the more complex individual things that obviously require some investigative work and some looking-at case study and history and all of that, but there are some things that generally will benefit most people, I would guess. And I just want to leave a little bit of-
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah. No, the simplest thing is, first of all, don’t give up hope, get some hope. Put hope into the equation. And that’s-
Michael Roesslein: You guys, before we went on air, I think I mentioned that, and it was before we went on air, our first appointment with Dr. Gordon with Mira was the peak of how severe her flare was in 2020, it was pretty bad. And his first, I’ll call a prescription, was that he was going to write a note that allowed her to go on leave from work for, I think, it started at six weeks. We ended up doing about three months, but it was six weeks. And just the relief and the feeling that someone understood her, because her endocrinologist and rheumatologist, these people had told her that there’s no evidence that you’re taking time off her healthcare conditions. So they were denying the truth of her reality that she needed to rest. And our first appointment, Dr. Gordon said, “We’re going to get you out of work for a little while.” And that was step one.
And she didn’t have to work again for a few days. So she hadn’t even yet hit the point where she’d had an unscheduled day off. She didn’t… There’d been no time off, and within two days, her pain level was half just from believing that she had somebody who understood and was on her side, and to know that the relief was coming, that she didn’t have to go to work in a couple days, half of her pain, her pain reduced in half with no other interventions. And I know some people out there might be rolling their eyes or saying, “Yeah, whatever, sure.” I used to be that person, and I’ve now witnessed more things in the last few years with her and with some other work I’ve done that, that’s as real as anything else.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Well, just to emphasize, the cell danger response is the immune response. And the immune response is controlled just like everything our complex bodies are by our brains. Now people… Well, basically when you go to sleep at night within, I forgot how many, within seconds, every cell in your body decreases energy production by like 25%. So this little [inaudible 00:59:54]
Instantly controls the immune system. And so it’s the deep centers, the limbic system, reptilian brain, that really is like kind of probably most in charge, but that is modified by the cortex. And again, not perfectly because if it was perfect, we could all just meditate and heal. And that doesn’t work because just one other aside, this is like my ADD, but I have to remind people, like I’m not saying that meditation and relaxation is going to heal everything because some of the most…
I always go back to Ramakrishna who is this great Indian Saint in the early part of the 1900s and he died at 40 with like terrible throat cancer. And this man lived in Samadhi at the time. So it doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever, but it’s an important component. It’s just a very… If you can begin to find some way to have hope because you can’t… It’s very hard to relax when you’re in chronic pain or distress.
Michael Roesslein: I highly doubt, yeah.
Dr. Eric Gordon: It’s like learning to meditate in the midst of severe pain. Can be done, but it’s like learning how to swim when you’re drowning. It doesn’t usually happen, but you have to start. But if you can start with hope, if you can just begin with that step, that you’re going to find an answer somewhere and you have to understand that you might not find the answer quickly, but hope allow it. And I have to… I’ve seen a lot of people get better, I’ve seen a lot of people not. And usually it’s because we don’t have the answers yet, but the good news in chronic illness is that we’re learning at a rapidly increasing rate. I have patients who I saw in the early 2000s, I just couldn’t help. I was doing the wrong thing but unfortunately they come back. Unfortunately for them, because it means they didn’t get better, and now we can help a lot of them because we keep learning.
And I think that’s the other really hopeful part of this is that, despite medicine has gotten worse on some levels, but on other levels, the amount of information and through the internet, which has been crazy but good, we’re learning. And we keep finding more pieces because you see it’s these individual pieces and the genetic work hasn’t given us the answers we’ve wanted. We all had hoped in the early 2000s the genes would have saved us. You go get the gene-
Michael Roesslein: I remember.
The Human Genome Project was going to save humanity.
Dr. Eric Gordon: It was going to be ABC after that. Well, it hasn’t turned out quite that way, but it has shed some light. And that’s what I want people to understand is that each tool that’s out there sheds light. So don’t give up, first of all, don’t give up hope. And again, toxins, getting back to toxins. In the last five… I’ve always believed that toxicity was an issue, that the environment was huge. But to be honest, I like many doctors paid more lip service to it than I did in reality.
And about five years ago I had a doctor join us, Dr. Parpia, and she’s the naturopath who had done a lot of work, worked briefly with, she worked about a year with Dr. Klinghardt, and worked with this other doctor, Dr. Isaac Eliaz, who has done a lot of work with toxicity. And she’s kind of like amalgamated and added her own twist to it. But most importantly, I’ve seen that when people take the time, sometimes a year even two to detox, the infections often will take care of themselves. Which is funny because I’m a doctor [inaudible 01:04:12] and having to stand back and watch when we remove the crippling toxins-
Michael Roesslein: Kind of taking the sand out of the gas tank.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah, exactly. The system goes to work. Now it’s not to say that everything is toxins, but that’s usually an issue. And if you’ve been sick for a while, it’s definitely there because another little story, when you’re sick, you don’t clean the house. And when your body is ill, you store a lot of garbage in. That’s where a lot of that pain comes because that interstitial spaces, these spaces that shouldn’t be filled with anything except a little hyaluronic acid and some nice clear stuff, gets gunky. Because your body, you can’t process it. Your liver and kidneys don’t have the energy or are poisoned, they’re not working as well. And again, they’re not going to show up on you on often, your tests are going to be normal. Your liver function tests are designed to find when the liver is… When you’re actively killing liver cells above normal, above normal levels.
Michael Roesslein: Is that ALT, AST markers, right?
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Those things are, they’re markers of cell turnover and they’re probably higher because they were 25 was the upper limit of normal for those until about 20 years ago. And now we keep bumping the upper limit of normal luck because that’s our population because we’re poisoning people with all the fructose, and chemicals that we put in. We over-stress the liver. So it’s happening to all of us because we just raise the normal levels. But anyway, so hope and detox, those are the places start.
After that, you really have to be… I feel talk to somebody who can really know the questions. Because if you look on the internet and look at lists, you can find your symptoms are going to look like anything from MS to chronic Lyme-
Michael Roesslein: Oh, I know. When Mira first got sick, I didn’t sleep for weeks. I was on the internet, her first flare reading, every single thing about every single disease that can cause any kind of pain and everything that you can do for it, and we tried to do all of it at once.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah. And that’s the thing is that these lists, the body only has so many ways of making noise. You can have chest pain for 10, or probably for 100, but for 10 different ways, you can cough for a million different reasons. Rashes. Rashes, I hate more than anything it’s because, God knows what’s causing the rash. Often detox, but still. So when you make diagnosis by list on the internet, you can make a mess. The reason you go to doctors is not because we know so much, it’s just because we’ve seen so much. It’s pattern recognition and maybe someday AI will get there. At the moment, it’s still not very good because AI is only as good as the information fed into it. And it hasn’t succeeded yet.
Michael Roesslein: If you research it to do something, we don’t know how to do.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Yeah. Well, it’s supposed to learn, and maybe if we gave it enough real information, it could. But at the moment, that would require… Anyways, another story, I’m sorry. Talking to me [crosstalk 01:07:40]
Michael Roesslein: You mentioned ADD a minute ago. We’ve done pretty good for two guys with pretty severe ADD on a podcast, I think we stayed focused. I thought about that earlier because what you’ve mentioned and this is a very pro-ADD world, in this podcast and in my speakers. I discovered only a couple years ago, I went through Dr. Gabor Mate’s training for therapists, and reading his books was part of our curriculum and one of them is called Scattered Minds. And he talks about the link between childhood trauma and developmental trauma and attention ADD, ADHD. And it has a checklist in the book for adult presentations of ADD and ADHD. And I was like 28 out of 30. I’m like, I just won this book and I’m like, wait, that explains so much of my life. And I feel better, and I don’t feel like I was a slacker.
But then I thought about that today and you’ve mentioned it to me before. I’m like, man, we’re going to right here and we’re going to stay on track. Unless, we’re going to start talking about like 72 really interesting things. And we only did about 15 really interesting things, so it was good. And we’re going to come back, we’re going to do it again, we’re going to talk about mold.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Okay. In the next podcast we’ll hit the CDR again from the mold perspective.
Michael Roesslein: Sure.
Dr. Eric Gordon: Because it’s such a rich concept, that’s the point. It’s just a rich concept. It helps people understand why they’re not as sick as they think they are.