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Chronic Inflammation and the Important Cycle of the Cell Danger Response with Dr. Eric Gordon

In part 1 of the 2-part series about mycotoxins on the Natural Evolution Podcast with Michael Roesslein, Dr. Eric Gordon discusses the details of chronic inflammation in tandem with chronic illness while breaking down the very important cycle of cell danger response – including the role of the mitochondria – Dr. Gordon also talks 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.

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Part II: The second half of this 2-part series is available for listening now! Listen to Episode 19: Mycotoxins and the Immune Response.

Podcast Transcript

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.

Autoimmunity, Complex Chronic Illness, Detox + Toxins, Eric Gordon MD, Podcasts

What Is Keeping You Ill?

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

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

Episode Highlights

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

Key Takeaways

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

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

But there is reason to feel encouraged…

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

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

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

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

SHOW CONTRIBUTORS
Dr. Eric Gordon
Damon Ernst

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

Pre-Tox: 5 Things You Must Do Before You Detox

Drs Eric Gordon and Nafysa Parpia deep dive into the many underlying causes of what can keep patients ill.

Play Video about Pre-Tox: 5 Things You Must Do Before Detox

Watch the video mentioned by Dr. Parpia or read the full transcript Underlying Factors of Chronic Fatigue – Dr. Jill with Dr. Nafysa Parpia

There are many important factors to consider when thinking about detoxing. At the Mycotoxins and Chronic Illness Summit Dr. Parpia talked about the importance of “pre-tox” and much more. All of the conversations and connections during this summit were nothing short of life changing, and we are excited to be able to share this small part with you. 

Before You Detox

Your inner biochemistry and environmental toxin load is unique to you

We recommend personalized detoxification strategies rather than a one size fits all plan.

Find out why it’s important to test before detoxing and learn what six essential pre-tox tests we recommend.

Read the post: Why do I need to test before detoxing?

Detox + Toxins, Detoxification, Eric Gordon MD, Nafysa Parpia ND, Toxicity, Video Blogs

Four Ways Mold Can Affect Your Health

An overview of the kinds of issues that mold can cause.
Nafysa Parpia, ND with input from Jamie Kunkle, ND

Mold illness symptoms manifest in multiple different ways that need to be addressed. In every case, removal from the exposure is critical. 

We find that diagnosis and appropriate treatment for mycotoxins and other environmental toxicants needs to precede and be concurrent with treatment for other chronic illnesses. 

The Mycotoxin and Chronic Illness Summit is over. There was so much important information, it can be hard to know where to start.

Following are the ways in which mold exposure can manifest clinically: 

  • Mold Allergy – Immune system reaction to mold exposure. Usually, removal of the mold exposure source will also remove symptoms.
  • Mold Toxicity – Many molds generate mycotoxins and biotoxins that impact several of the body’s systems. Simply removing the source of the mold exposure may not be sufficient to remove symptoms, as the toxicity has already started the process of inflammation and can continue in the body even after exposure has been discontinued.
  • Mold Colonization – Beyond the initial exposure comes a possibility of colonization, where mold becomes a resident within the living system, colonizing the surfaces of the body in the sinuses, lungs, GI system, and/or on the skin. Colonization does not reach into the deeper tissues, but now becomes an ongoing exposure to allergens, mycotoxins, and biotoxins and will complicate the impact. Even if the environmental source has been removed, exposure continues inside the body. 
  • Mold Infection – In very rare cases, when a patient’s immune system has been damaged by chemotherapy, AIDS, or other immunosuppressive factors, mold may infect tissues deeper in the body than what is seen with colonization, causing severe acute infectious disease.

Symptoms of mold exposures are many and can mimic and exacerbate those from other complex chronic illnesses such as Tick-Borne illness and other chronic infections, environmental toxicity, cognitive decline and neurological disorders.

Common Mold Exposure Symptoms

  • Confusion, disorientation
  • Difficulty in word finding
  • Impaired concentration
  • Difficulty assimilating new information
  • Reduced task completion
  • Hypersensitivity to bright light
  • Night blindness
  • Tearing, redness of the eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Chronic aching muscles
  • Joint pain, morning joint stiffness, pain in weight bearing joints
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight gain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chronic sinus congestion
  • Chronic cough that mimics asthma
  • Shortness of breath
  • Ice-pick like pain, or shooting electrical pain
  • Nosebleeds
  • Metallic taste or other unusual taste
  • Vertigo, dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Rage or inappropriate anger, mood swings
  • Increased sensitivity to touch

  • Difficulty with sleep: getting to sleep difficulties, difficulty staying asleep
  • Excessive thirst, or frequent urination
  • Impotence
  • Irregular vaginal bleeding
  • Low body temperature
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Low blood pressure
  • Chronic yeast infections
  • Early onset of menopause
  • Panic attacks or anxiety, depression
  • Tingling, “needles and pins” sensations

Every generation has accumulated but often unseen toxic burdens that can affect their health and wellness. We have survived and adapted under substantial duress and adversity as a species. However, there are limitations on an individual’s health and functioning as these burdens continue to accumulate. Unfortunately, few of these toxicants are routinely tested for or identified until disease develops, and a syndrome diagnosis (based on signs/symptoms) is established. You may receive a diagnosis of an autoimmune condition, chronic fatigue syndrome or even Lyme disease (among others).

Mold is one of the most commonly missed and/or understated toxins of our lifetime. Many of us have had, or are currently experiencing an exposure to mold and its toxins (mycotoxins), and it may not be obvious. Identification is often challenging, and exposure can harm your system for years without a clear diagnosis.

Mold exposure can cause inflammation and toxicity in the body which further complicates symptoms from existing chronic illnesses. For example – many of our patients who already have chronic Lyme disease, neurological issues, cognitive decline, fibromyalgia and ME/CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) also have exposure to mold and the toxins that it creates – mycotoxins. In our clinical experience, treating the patient for mold exposure, and mycotoxins if it is also an issue, helps allow for their other multiple diagnoses to resolve faster.

It is said, if one works with Lyme, they will often find toxicity. The presence of such can be a predisposing factor or a relative result of the chronic illness itself. Many have developed increased sensitivities and poor detoxification responses after developing Lyme illness. Some were already exposed to the toxins themselves, suppressing and dysregulating their immune system response and allowing for a less favorable terrain and resilience to illness. Toxicity can be responsible for relapsing symptoms and can easily affect multiple different organ systems.

Other toxicants exist and should be evaluated for health/wellness and success of treatment are not to be understated either. This includes heavy metals, glyphosate, industrial, agricultural and water contaminants to name a few. These are also easily hidden from view as many are consumed or inhaled often with little immediate response.

Depending on each individual patient’s manifestation of symptoms and concurrent diagnoses, treatment may include oral, intravenous and physical therapies. Treatments are highly personalized to each patient.

There are many ways to support detoxification, some gentle and some more aggressive. The level of intervention is typically dependent on the overall toxic burden and constitution of the individual. This process is often gradual but has the potential to reestablish a more positive momentum of healing in the living system.

Allergies, Biotoxin Issues, Complex Chronic Illness, Detox + Toxins, Gastrointestinal Disorders, Immune Issues, Jamie Kunkle ND, Mold + Mycotoxin Illness, Nafysa Parpia ND

The Cell Danger Response and Chronic Illness

Dr. Jill Interviews Dr. Eric Gordon on The Cell Danger Response
in Chronic Lyme disease.
Play Video

Highlights

  • The Cell Danger Response (CDR) is defined in terms of an ancient metabolic response to threat.
  • The CDR encompasses inflammation, innate immunity, oxidative stress, and the ER stress response.
  • The CDR is maintained by extracellular nucleotide (purinergic) signaling.
  • Abnormal persistence of the CDR lies at the heart of many chronic diseases
  • Antipurinergic therapy (APT) has proven effective in many chronic disorders in animal models.

Some of Robert Naviaux’s papers on CDR

Dr. Jill’s Website: www.jillcarnahan.com

Complex Chronic Illness, Eric Gordon MD, Lyme Disease + Coinfections, Metabolomics, Video Blogs

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 + Toxins, Mold + Mycotoxin Illness, Nafysa Parpia ND, Toxicity, 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 + Toxins, Eric Gordon MD, Gastrointestinal Disorders, Lyme Disease + Coinfections, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome (MCAS), Mold + Mycotoxin Illness, Tick Borne Illness

The Mitochondria In Complex Illness with Dr. Eric Gordon

Dr. Eric Gordon discusses The Role of the Mitochondria in Complex, Chronic Illness with Dr. Ben Weitz.

Dr. Ben Weitz and Dr. Gordon talk about the role of the mitochondria as it relates to chronic illness on the Rational Wellness Podcast

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, Podcasts, Tick Borne Illness