I started this Blog because God has sparked within me a desire to bring the message of health, hope and healing to all those who need it, but especially to those that have been touched by physical infirmities. At least some level of healing is available to all who ask, seek and believe!

Join me as I take a step of faith out of the boat and into the murky waters to begin my own journey of health and healing. We will be taking a closer look at how to find healing in our modern-day world and what God has to say about the process as well. Some of the posts will be on practical ways to achieve healing in our bodies; others will be inspirational and are meant to bring you hope. I think most of you will find that a lot of the information here challenges what you think you know about good health.

May Jehovah Rapha--God, Our Healer--open your hearts, minds and eyes as you explore this website. And may you never forget...to Always Hope.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Obesity Is A Symptom Of An Even Bigger Problem

The following is an expert from THE LEPTIN FACTOR, written by Ritchie Shoemaker, M.D. Dr. Shoemaker has found from his research that obesity is actually a chronic illness, either genetically based in abnormal leptin and insulin physiology, or acquired in ways related to the immune responses that are part of other chronic, “biotoxin-associated” environmental illnesses of our day. Thus, Dr. Shoemaker believes that the growing epidemic of obesity in this country is a symptom, not a diagnosis. I happen to agree with him. However, please note that if you're overweight and very "ill", like me, I do not recommend getting on the drugs that Dr. Shoemaker talks about below. This is because chronically ill people already have very toxic livers and the drugs in this article are potentially damaging to an already toxic liver. Instead, if you're "ill", I recommend trying the No-Amylose Diet or the HOMEOPATHIC HCG Diet for weight loss. Remember, that if you are dealing with biotoxins, the weight you lose on either of these plans will most likely return unless you have dealt with the underlying biotoxins.

I have personally used the Homeopathic HCG Diet with good results and I feel so much better on it too. The majority of the reason is that I am not eating all the foods that I am allergic to, and at the same time, the foods that happen to be allowed on the HCG Diet are all non-amylose foods. This gives my body some relief from all the work it has to do to filter out all the food and beverage-based toxins I keep overloading it with. The absence of these toxins and free radicals creates a more oxygen-rich atmosphere in my body so that my starving, depleted cells can start to function a bit more properly.

I believe this article is important to bring to you because it helps explain the obesity epidemic. It is not the only reason for obesity though. There are other causes of obesity. For example, obesity as a side-effect of medications (like the steroids I was on at one point) and obesity due to emotional overeating. If you think you may be overeating due to emotional toxins, these things need to be addressed through counseling and possibly even recovery programs.

I know that I have had to explore emotional overeating issues because of the rejection and isolation I have experienced in my past. It was interesting for me to see a pattern of turning to food for comfort instead of getting my needs met from God. The excess weight an emotional eater often gains tends to literally "pad" them from the sharpness of the world. The weight acts as a buffer between them and whatever is hurting them. But in the end, it just serves to isolate them further. It was also interesting to me to see that I used food when I was happy because it took me back to a place of warm family memories around the dinner table. These were the times where everybody behaved themselves (for the most part) and I tended to feel safe and loved.

I heard about emotional overeating in the past and did not think it applied to me until a couple years ago when the Holy Spirit showed me the patterns I had followed in my life with regard to food. I have sought, and continue to seek, healing for these issues. But again, in my case, I do not believe that the emotional overeating is the ONLY issue here when it comes to the excess weight. If it were, I would still be able to emotionally eat, then diet and exercise like I used to in order to lose the little bit of excess weight I had put on, and then start the process all over again. At some point (back when I first started to get sick), that little ploy stopped working and no matter what I did, the weight just kept creeping up and up. At one point, I worked out for 5 days a week and ate a pretty healthy diet. I lost some inches because I toned my muscles, but my weight only went down by 2 pounds. No, this isn't just an issue of working out the emotional toxins in my soul and spirit; this weight gain is a symptom of something bigger that is rooted in my flesh.

It is important to note that while obesity is on one side of the spectrum for poor health, on the other side we find chronically ill people that have lost a lot of weight without trying and cannot seem to gain it back no matter what they do. I will talk about those people in another blog. For now, the main thing to realize is that both of these problems can be a symptom of an even bigger issue: biotoxins.

Always Hope

THE LEPTIN FACTOR (Excerpt from Ch. 15)

Crack open your morning newspaper, these days, and the odds are high that you’ll soon find yourself reading an alarming health story about “the growing obesity epidemic in America.”

Unfortunately, most of those breathless, page-one stories are all too accurate. Take a look around; the proof is there. The “American Waddler” is all too commonly sighted in public places and doctor’s offices. If you missed seeing the Waddler on the streets, you will see him on the Evening News, rippling past the camera, arms swinging wide over the layers of belly-rolls and thunder thighs. You don’t need a Ph.D. in human physiology to understand that Americans (and especially American children) are getting fatter with each passing year.

How bad is the U.S. “obesity problem” today, and why is it becoming increasingly worse?

This bad: According to the latest data from the number-crunchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, fully one-third of America’s 280 million citizens are currently classified as medically overweight.

Even more ominous, say public health officials, is the fact that “clinical obesity” – a chronic disease with a variety of potentially life-threatening consequences – is now affecting more than 56 million Americans (about 20 percent of us), day in and day out. Just 10 years ago, the numbers were significantly lower.

Here’s the bad news for Americans in the first decade of the new millennium: Although the CDC opinion released for public consumption is often wrong about medical issues and frequently distorts scientific research-findings for the sake of its own narrow political agenda, the agency is dead-on correct about the threat from the spreading obesity problem. What the CDC hasn’t figured out yet, however, forms the heart and soul of this chapter – the startling fact that obesity is actually a chronic illness, either genetically based in abnormal leptin and insulin physiology or acquired in ways related to the immune responses that are part of other chronic, “biotoxin-associated” environmental illnesses of our day (such as Sick Building Syndrome). Indeed, the biggest news in weight-loss treatment right now is the recent discovery – based on research from the seemingly unrelated field of chronic biotoxin illnesses such as “Post-Lyme Disease Syndrome” – that there is a close link between our increasingly chemically polluted environment and a new family of biotoxin-linked ailments that often trigger both obesity and diabetes.

So far, only a few isolated researchers (and they’re not in Atlanta!) have grasped the relationship between the fact that as our environment continues to change rapidly under the influence of the 70,000 industrial and agricultural chemicals pumped into air, soils, rivers, estuaries and oceans each year, Americans are getting fatter and fatter. Nor have the “Medical Mandarins” at the CDC (or their counterparts in the largest and most prestigious university medical research departments) yet understood that obesity is an illness of over-storage of fat that has almost nothing to do with “overeating” alone . . . and everything to do with physiological resistance to metabolic hormones such as insulin and leptin. While we can’t alter the genetic predisposition to leptin and insulin problems, we can control that resistance with new medications and the No-Amylose Diet. The role of other “new” obesity related hormones, including gherlin and neuropeptide Y, shows promise for additional interventions to defeat obesity in the future. But treatment of the obesity epidemic linked to hormone resistances is here now. (More on the exciting recent breakthroughs in leptin and insulin resistance and its links to inflammation from the hidden “environmental diseases” in a minute.)

Make no mistake: America’s “fat epidemic” is rapidly spiraling out of control, and the negative impact on grownups and kids alike can be observed from the rocky coastline of Maine to the towering redwoods of California. Example: According to the latest health statistics, more than 300,000 Americans are now dying each year from diseases (such as diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, colon cancer and breast cancer) that have been linked directly to obesity. If heart disease is added to the toll (and many physicians believe it should be), there can be no doubt that obesity now ranks as our nation’s biggest health threat. Even if the extra fat doesn’t kill right away, the multiple impairments caused by obesity make life miserable, from the unnecessary pain from arthritic weight bearing joints, reduced ability to walk up a flight of stairs or even put on a pair of shoes. The derogatory attitudes about obesity in our society add to the misery, as many overweight people are regarded as self-indulgent gluttons. Being overweight is a sign of personal slothfulness in the eyes of many who view obesity as a “preventable illness.” And who would list “obesity” on a job application as an important self-accomplishment that would help convince a personnel manager to offer employment?

These obesity-associated health problems cause untold anguish for the victims and their families, of course. But the carnage produced by obesity also hits America hard in her pocketbook, while adding more than $900 million per year to the cost of health care in this country. Alarmed by the surge in fat-related costs, no less a figure than the U.S. Surgeon General recently warned the nation that if the current trend continues, “Obesity may soon cause as much preventable disease as cigarette smoking.” For those on the front lines of obesity treatment and research, his words need to be changed to reflect the real issue: obesity has a series of understandable mechanisms and it can be treated before it causes disease by understanding those mechanisms.

Disturbing facts about the epidemic, its cost and its consequences? You bet. Even more disturbing, though, is the clear failure of all “medically accepted” attempts to defeat the epidemic with lifestyle changes. Our National Fat Attack has been taking place during an era dedicated to “physical fitness” . . . during an era in which most of us are bombarded daily with powerful propaganda about the vital importance of “eating right and getting plenty of exercise,” if we wish to enjoy healthy, vigorous lives and stay slim. For reasons you have already read and more to come, the “eat less and exercise more” idea is worse than worthless for the vast majority of overweight people. When the “American Waddler” finally gets up the gumption to go out in the cold and rain four times a week to walk before the sun comes up, and he cuts back on everything enjoyable at the dinner table, he still doesn’t lose much weight and he certainly never keeps it off. Now add worsened self-esteem from his failed weight loss attempt to his ongoing weight problem. Why did the Waddler fail? Could it be that the reason for his obesity has nothing to do with trivial amounts of exercise or elimination of foods unrelated to weight gain from his diet… and a great deal to do with his daily consumption of fat-generating food?

The experts have a ready answer for the Waddler’s failed weight loss attempt: he is the reason for the failure, not the “eat less, exercise more” model. Just try to find an obesity expert who doesn’t explain the failure of the “eat less and exercise more” strategy by blaming the patient. “Well, Mr. Jones joined the fitness club, but only went there three times last year. And he never stopped having the French fries and the triple cheeseburgers.” But Mr. Jones did his exercise and he ate the low fat, low cholesterol meals, with salads, pasta and whole wheat as he was instructed. He did what he was told, but he still failed.

The wrong entity is being blamed! In medicine, the failure of an accepted idea to explain what we observe usually means the idea is tossed out, like garbage bound for the landfill. In other words, we learn more in medicine by observing what intervention didn’t work, and adjusting our model to accommodate the treatment failures, than we do by only observing what did work. If the model doesn’t explain what actually happens, then the model, like “eat less and exercise more,” is wrong.

In spite of our continuing obsession with “avoiding dietary fat” and jogging or walking at least 30 minutes each day,” the remarkable fact remains: Americans are fatter now than ever before in their history. Somehow, our model of treatment of obesity that is based on devotion to the ideas from the Greek goddess of health, Hygeia – the patron saint of the “hygienic” approach to health, which insists that the key to curing illnesses is to “clean up” our bad lifestyle-habits, such as overeating and lack of exercise – hasn’t succeeded in overcoming our national predilection for getting fat and staying fat.

The obvious question becomes, “Does that mean that the treatment for obesity has little to do with lifestyle?” Other questions follow immediately, once we realize that Hygeia doesn’t have our answers:

Why do most people who become overweight tend to remain overweight . . . even if they do manage to shrug off a few pounds now and then, before promptly gaining them back again? And why are some people able to eat all they want, meal after meal, while remaining wonderfully, infuriatingly slender? Even more challenging is the question: “Why do many people gain weight that they never lose, while eating less than their slender counterparts?” Finally, “What can we do that will work to control the chronic disease of obesity?

As a veteran family physician who’s helped thousands of obese patients lose weight (and keep it off) during the past 25 years, I’ve spent many hours studying the latest research from around the world . . . while also conducting countless patient-interviews and medical examinations aimed at solving the mystery of why so many people tend to remain fat in spite of their frequent and courageous efforts at dieting and exercising. Obesity, like any chronic disease, needs a proper diagnosis. We don’t blame the patient for having hypertension, we find out what is wrong, look for acquired blood pressure problems (we can cure those), and if we find the problem is one of unknown cause (“essential hypertension” is the medical term), possibly genetic (Did your parents have hypertension, Mr. Jones?), we treat it, without complaining that the patient isn’t doing something to prevent his illness. Sure, we will try modifying diet, exercise, salt consumption, stress, and other lifestyle factors, but when the Hygeia approach predictably doesn’t work, we use medications. Treatment of obesity should be no different.

Imagine my surprise years ago, when my treatment of obese patients – along with my continuing inquiries on the causes of the disease- demonstrated a remarkable fact: the mechanisms that underlay obesity shared many of the same physiologic principles involved in chronic, biotoxin-associated illnesses. It was crystal clear that a proper diagnosis of obesity involved looking at interactions of genetics and hormones like leptin and insulin, as well as the chemical messengers called cytokines (more on inflammation and cytokines coming up) that help white blood cells monitor and manage our internal immune defenses. The same disturbances in cytokines and leptin, many with a genetic basis, which were operating in Sick Building Syndrome, were the active players in obesity, too! Here was the new information, based on rock-solid science, needed to challenge the “conventional wisdom” on obesity that has ruled American medical opinion for the past several decades. Imagine the mixture of exhilaration and wonderment I felt, when I analyzed the latest data on human biochemistry from obesity literature and seemingly unrelated fields of neurotoxicology and cytokine physiology, and began to realize: We’ve been wrong about fat from the very beginning!

It became increasingly clear that the weight-loss advice from popular diet books such as Sugar Busters, The Zone and The New Diet Revolution was either incomplete or was simply wrong. As heretical as this may sound, today’s ongoing Obesity Epidemic provides incontrovertible evidence for the fact that even Dr. Robert Atkins – the legendary “guru” of weight-loss in America since the 1970s – had failed to incorporate into his work the complex biochemical, hormonal and genetic factors that actually cause most people to become overweight and stay overweight!

As I studied the research and examined my patients during the 1980s and 1990s, I was gradually discovering that the assumptions of medical science about how we store fat and gain weight were deeply flawed. And yet those same flawed ideas – which failed to pinpoint the biochemistry and genetics of hormone resistance as the real source of weight-gain, while blaming it on mere “lifestyle” factors such as overeating and “couch-napping” – had been repeated so often over the years that they’d become accepted as Gospel, all across the increasingly fat USA! The “thermodynamics” idea about weight, namely, calories in equals calories out, wasn’t the right answer (Chapter 5); exercise wasn’t the answer unless the overweight patient had 12 hours a week for intense activity (Chapter 11); eliminating all carbohydrates ignored the different effects of carbohydrates on blood sugar (Chapter 2); and permitting some starches was a prescription for failure for insulin resistant patients (Chapter 6). What really do we have to do to understand treatment of the chronic disease we call obesity?

But let’s back up for a second. In order to understand why the conventional wisdom about fat is flat-out incorrect, we need to look at how the process of getting fat actually works...even as we ask ourselves the key question that will solve the fat-mystery once and for all:

Question: What would happen if we looked at obesity as a symptom, rather than as a diagnosis? In other words: “What’s different about the biochemical process of fat manufacture and fat storage in obese patients – when compared to fat manufacture and storage in those who aren’t overweight? If we know that answer, then we know why obesity is a symptom telling us to look at genetic, environmental, biochemical, and hormonal factors.

To answer that question, we need to spend a few moments reviewing our notes from The History of 20th-Century Fat, 101:Or, Why Low-Carbohydrate Diets Alone Failed To Keep America Trim.

Obesity and Leptin: A Primer

When Dr. Robert C. Atkins appeared on the national scene in 1972 with the publication of his first “Diet Revolution” guide to weight-loss, the public quickly hailed him as a bold pioneer with a radically different approach to dieting. The Medical Establishment was horrified, however, by the idea that eating fat and rich food actually was a good idea. Remember, back then, and continuing today, the cholesterol argument influenced the weight argument: “Low fat and low cholesterol foods are good – that’s all there is to it!” Until the arrival of the famous diet doc, whose books on “no-carbohydrate” eating would eventually be purchased by millions, most scientific thinking about weight-loss focused on the importance of measuring (and limiting) the intake of dietary fat and reducing total calories, along with the need for lots of vigorous exercise.

But the controversial Atkins had a different idea, one that opened the door for later challenges to the dietary dogma of obesity.

According to the dieting revolutionary, the real culprit in weight-gain wasn’t fat or lack of exercise but carbohydrates – complexes of carbon and water molecules, found mostly in sugar and starches, which the human body rapidly stores in fat cells for future use.

Imagine the shock waves that must have rippled through the U.S. medical community, when Dr. Atkins began insisting that the best way to lose weight was to avoid all carbohydrates . . . and that eating moderate amounts of fat would not make most people gain weight!

Controversial or not, the Atkins approach turned out to be reasonably effective for millions of people, in the short run. By cutting back on “carbs,” the adherents of the Diet Revolution collectively lost millions of pounds . . . even if the lost weight was almost invariably re-gained by the dieters within a matter of a few months. Regardless of these problems with “weight-maintenance,” however, the Atkins strategy was generally declared to be a success and the weight-loss author became a household American name as a result.

But now let’s flash-forward 30 years and take a look around.

Let’s ask ourselves: What ultimately became of the “eat-no-carbohydrates” approach to dieting that had made Dr. Atkins so famous?

Answer: Over the long haul, it simply didn’t work.

Why did it fail? Although the biochemical explanation is complex (we’ll worry about the chemistry a bit later), the fundamental reason for the failure is easy to grasp. That reason is based on the fact that although Dr. Atkins did a great job of focusing national attention on issues of weight-loss, he and most of his fellow-researchers were using the wrong “model” with which to understand how human beings get fat.

In a sentence: The Atkins model, like most others of his day, was based on analyzing and controlling the foods that people eat...rather than on understanding and then controlling (with medications, where appropriate) the human body’s response to those foods during the processes of digestion, fat manufacture and fat storage. Those processes involve hormones, including insulin and leptin, genetics, inflammation and also discrete centers that regulate hunger and satiety in a part of the brain, the hypothalamus. The pivotal role of rapid rises of blood sugar after eating one common type of complex carbohydrate starch, amylose, and its effect on insulin-driven fat storage was also ignored. But all too soon, the lack of precision in defining “fat-causing carbohydrates” caused motivated patients to abandon the Atkins plan and others like it, because the dieters weren’t allowed to eat the fruits and vegetables that are not only safe for a weight-loss plan, but also essential in order to maintain a reasonable “quality of life” while losing weight.

Dr. Atkins and his colleagues can’t really be blamed for failing to understand that being overweight or obese is primarily a result of the patient’s own unique biochemistry (that is, of the multiple interactions of his or her fat-regulating hormones) . . . and not a result of overeating or refusal to exercise. They simply didn’t have the data on hormone interactions that in those days “belonged to the future” of obesity-treatment. But that future is now here, creating a model for understanding new treatments based on molecular biochemistry, and not on total calories or fat grams. The powerful new model of obesity, one that includes multiple factors, tells us that managing our weight successfully is primarily a matter of understanding and then manipulating hormones – based on their efficiency (or lack thereof) at transporting and transforming nutrients during the process of digestion and fat storage.

Sounds a bit complicated, you say?

Not really. All you really need to know in order to take advantage of the molecular research that has radically changed our understanding of obesity in recent years is one simple fact: Weight-loss is actually about hormones (such as insulin and leptin) . . . and specifically about defeating the “resistance” to the effect those hormones normally produce. It is hormone mechanisms gone awry that cause us to become fat, prevent us from losing much fat when we try, and make us gain weight – even when strictly observing the same “lower total-calorie diets” being eaten by those without hormone abnormalities! Obviously, those same hormone defects are also the root-cause of today’s failure to achieve maintenance of fat loss, among millions of struggling “yo-yo” dieters.

The bottom line: If you’re one of the millions of Americans whose “genetic inheritance” prevents your fat controlling hormones (and especially leptin) from working efficiently because of hormonal resistance, the good news is that medicine can now fix that problem with a new arsenal of medications (such as “leptin-modifying” drugs) designed to overcome the resistance and help you eliminate fat safely and eat good food without fear of re-gain.

For dieters everywhere, the future of weight-loss and weight-maintenance has finally arrived! In the wake of the latest obesity research, it’s now possible to reliably correct the problems of excess leptin due to leptin resistance, and the problems of excess insulin due to insulin resistance. This simple fact is going to completely revolutionize the way we treat obesity in the future.

Earlier in this book, you learned that leptin is a key factor in controlling your weight because of the way it turns on the brain’s “stop-eating center” – also known as the “satiety center.” You may also recall from Chapter 14 that this process occurs in the hypothalamus, the area of the brain that regulates functions such as hunger, temperature and moods.

Now, here’s where the recent research on hunger and hormones gets really interesting. Remember those exciting photos of genetically fat mice that didn’t make leptin? When they were given leptin supplements, they all lost weight. At first glance, you might expect that a heavyset patient (let’s call him “Mr. Overweight”) who’s suffering from leptin resistance (and thus from a shortage of leptin effect in the hypothalamus, even though there’s plenty of leptin moving through his system that normally would do its job) could be coaxed into losing his excess poundage, simply by giving him periodic doses of leptin, right?

Wrong. Extra leptin just makes Mr. Overweight fatter. Although research shows that this approach works effectively on mice, our “leptin replacement strategy” doesn’t translate to Mr. Overweight. Why not? Once again, the answer lies in biochemistry . . . in the fact that hormones can only do their work in human cells by first binding to “receptors” (think of them as cellular “docking stations”) that must function normally to carry the hormone message across cell membranes.

Key point: If the patient has leptin resistance, leptin doesn’t work properly to connect with its “docking station” – and the hormone never initiates all the later effects (we call them a “cascade”) that result in both turning off hypothalamic hunger centers and burning fat directly in fat cells.

Surprisingly, the major breakthrough in our understanding of how leptin resistance helps to make people fat came from a study recently completed by our research group in Maryland. For several years now, our group has been investigating and publishing scientific articles on a threatening new family of chronic “biotoxin-associated” illnesses linked to recent alterations in the rapidly changing human environment.

Interestingly enough, our research group – which includes Environmental Protection Agency neurotoxicologist Ken Hudnell, Ph.D., along with Dennis House, the statistician at the Center for Research on Biotoxin-Associated Illnesses – recently discovered a key fact that affects leptin resistance. What we learned was that the immune responses to toxins released by microbial organisms such as those involved in chronic ailments like fibromyalgia, Sick Building Syndrome, and Post-Lyme Disease Syndrome also have a powerful negative impact on the body’s leptin receptors!

As noted in Chapter 14, these biotoxin-linked diseases cause their multiple persistent symptoms (fatigue, headaches, muscle aches, blurred vision, short-term memory loss, and many more) because of the way they instantly set off alarm bells within the body’s disease-fighting immune system. When the “alarm” sounds, the system quickly begins to churn out some powerhouse chemicals (known as “pro-inflammatory cytokines”) designed to help neutralize and eliminate the toxins. Illness symptoms continue when genetically susceptible patients can’t stop the cytokine response.

So far, so good. But even as the inappropriate release of cytokines is causing many adverse health effects (Remember your last bout with the flu? Those muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, fever and maybe some cognitive changes, too, were due to an appropriate release of cytokines in response to the virus. When the virus was successfully repelled, the cytokine response was stopped and the symptoms cleared up.), our “biochemistry plot” suddenly takes another astonishing twist. The twist occurs when the continuous bombardment of inflammatory agents begins damaging the receptor for leptin (it is a cytokine receptor too) in the hypothalamus – thus preventing the leptin receptors there from doing their proper job of allowing the hormone to turn on the satiety center!

You can imagine the reaction among the members of our research group, when we realized that we were confronting a completely new concept in weight-loss and weight-maintenance – the notion that much of the resistance to leptin (and other hormones such as insulin) was actually due to cytokine-damage resulting from exposure to environmental toxins!

At first we were in shock. But when we stepped back and reflected on our find, we came to the startling realization that a high percentage of the patients who were overweight because of insulin/leptin resistance had actually acquired their resistance as a result of exposure to biotoxins from the environment. As matter of fact, there is now convincing evidence to show that about one-third of all leptin resistance is “environmentally acquired” in this fashion; the remaining two-thirds is the result of “endogenous” internal genetic factors, inherited from birth. A simple, non-invasive bedside test of visual contrast sensitivity (VCS) can separate patients with environmental sources of leptin resistance from those who were born with genes guaranteeing excessive fat storage.

Exciting? You better believe it. Based on our studies of thousands of affected patients, three obesity-related discoveries were now crystal-clear.

First: Being overweight or obese is not about food or “overeating”; it’s about resistance to fat-related hormones, which shuts down the effect of leptin on the brain’s satiety center, among other effects, so that it fails to tell the patient: “Stop eating!” For 98 percent of weight-loss patients, this scenario is a major reason why they can’t lose weight and keep it off.

Second: For about two-thirds of these resistance-linked weight-loss patients (and that’s about 60 million people!) internal genetic flaws related to insulin resistance and leptin resistance account for the body’s excessive fat storage and inability burn fat properly.

Third: For the remaining one-third, the resistance – and the failure to activate the satiety center – is “exogenous” . . . meaning that it’s actually caused by biotoxins left behind by chronic, environmentally acquired illnesses such as Sick Building Syndrome and the Post-Lyme Syndrome.

The implications of our research seem far-reaching, to say the least. For one thing, we’re now exploring an entirely new approach to the pro-inflammatory cytokine syndrome that underlies not only obesity but also diabetes . . . to say nothing of cholesterol-linked atherosclerosis caused by similar cytokine-triggered cell membrane failures. Inflammation is the new buzzword in heart disease- and those same effects are felt to be critically important in many of our “modern diseases.”

For weight-loss patients, of course, these implications are far-reaching, as well. What we read about fat and weight loss in the best-selling books didn’t include the causative role of inflammatory effects, controlled by genes, on fat manufacture and fat storage. No wonder the “eat less and exercise more” idea didn’t work. As if willpower had anything to do with inflammation or genetics! We are left with one crucially important fact: If we can defeat the inflammatory basis of leptin and insulin resistance and control the genetic basis of those hormone resistances, we can defeat obesity!

In order to understand exactly why, let’s review a little bit more of our “Biochemistry 201” review. (Hang on; we’re almost there.)

In recent chapters of this book, you’ve heard me talking repeatedly about the benefits of my “No-Amylose diet” for the large number of patients who are overweight primarily because of insulin resistance. But now I’m going to expand on that concept . . . by telling you how the same No-Amylose regime will benefit those heavyset patients who suffer from leptin resistance, as well. We are going to put the hypothalamus and inflammatory cytokines backstage for a minute.

Let’s start our discussion by remembering that leptin is made from fat cells, and it is released into the bloodstream after we eat fat. Normally, the rising leptin will tell the satiety center that we have had enough to eat. In the case of the leptin resistant patient, however, the effect of fat consumption isn’t to turn off hunger; in this case, the “turn-off” signal is simply ignored. But the key thing to emphasize here is that more leptin is still being made by fat cells in response to ongoing eating. All that extra leptin affects weight-gain in two important ways. First, the hormone works to prevent uptake (storage) of fatty acids in fat cells, keeping them suspended (free) in the blood. Second, the leptin prevents normal fat cell burning of the fatty acids it has already collected.

One incredibly important result of keeping these free fatty acids in the bloodstream is the effect on insulin. Free fatty acids in the blood dramatically worsen the problem of insulin resistance if it is pre-existing, and make the resistance appear if it isn’t–by shutting down the efficiency of insulin receptors on muscle cells, thereby reducing intake of sugar (glucose) by muscle. Faced with too much glucose, the liver responds by breaking down the extra sugar, to piece together and rearrange the sugar fragments into … more fatty acids! The liver did its job to prevent diabetes in the leptin resistant patient, only to make him fatter. The extra fatty acids, meanwhile, simultaneously drive up leptin release. When that happens, an overweight patient receives additional signals that it’s “time to stop eating.” Unfortunately, however, the leptin resistance – now combined with functional insulin resistance – prevents the body from turning off the spigot that’s causing the flood of fatty acids. The key point: Fat storage, without fat-burn, is activated both by rising blood sugar and by rising fatty acid levels.

Without this normal “feedback control” on appetite, our leptin resistant Mr. Overweight just keeps on eating. At the same time, the resistance fouls up the storage system for fatty acids in the bloodstream. And the result? Poor Mr. O gets hit twice, as a result of his leptin resistance. He eats more, and his body does a great job of storing as fat the calories he takes in. And don’t forget: The fatty acids already in fat cells that normally would be used for fuel are just sitting there, not being burned to release energy as they should be when we have stopped eating. Without the energy from direct fat cell burn of fatty acids, the leptin resistant patient who ate a sandwich (amylose in the bread) or a biscuit (more amylose) for breakfast will feel sluggish and tired about two hours later, when the sugar is gone and the fatty acids aren’t mobilized to keep him going. So what does Mr. O do? He eats and “Stores!” some more.

Okay: We now understand the “double whammy” faced by those who struggle with leptin resistance. And now the plot thickens even further..when we remember that the development of leptin resistance is essentially no different than the development of insulin resistance: Both disorders are deeply affected by both genetic inheritance and the cytokines that result from the body’s response to environmentally acquired toxins – with both impacting the brain’s satiety center and the body’s physiological fat-storage mechanism.

To understand why this happens, let’s move in closer. When a leptin molecule goes into position on a receptor, lots of interesting things start to occur. First of all, the receptor activates a “second messenger,” which promptly sends a bulletin to certain genes: Get busy and make some new fat-controlling molecules! But what happens if the receptor balks, due to resistance? In that ugly situation, the second messenger is never dispatched, and the new anti-fat molecules don’t get manufactured. In the end, the entire biochemical cascade of effects – the process that should limit excessive fat-manufacture for the struggling Mr. O – gets shut down, and he winds up putting on more flab.

Question: Are you beginning to see, now, why “eating fewer carbohydrates and getting more exercise” simply won’t get the job done – for 98 percent of those who are significantly overweight? If you do, welcome to the brand-new Leptin Resistance Era in American dieting!

But if our poor Mr. O has no chance to control his weight-gain through sheer “will power or exercise” what hope is there for him?

Enter now the fabulous Greek god Panacea (even as we say “Bye-bye” to Hygeia!), the inventor of medicines, who’s carrying a very hopeful message for all of us: the recognition that, once we properly identify the real culprits in obesity, hormone resistance, genetics and inflammation, we can use appropriate drugs to rapidly offset their impact and restore a healthy biochemistry.

The really good news for all of us here is that these drugs will work – unlike the Atkins approach, which relied on people eating fat each day to activate their leptin production and thereby turning on the satiety center. (This was the real reason why Atkins sold all those books, by the way; his diet kept people from feeling hungry and miserable most of the time!) But Dr. Atkins’s technique failed, in the end, because it didn’t factor leptin resistance or insulin resistance or inflammation into the dietary equation for fat. Nor did he properly understand the crucial role played by amylose – the key carbohydrate that triggers a rapid rise in blood sugar and thus triggers both insulin and leptin resistance. (Sure, Atkins recommended that people stop eating carbs – but he failed to see the great importance of amylose as the carbohydrate that primarily sets off insulin resistance. Dieters of the world: Avoid amylose.)

Based on the latest discoveries at the molecular level, science now understands that the truly effective way to keep weight off is to reduce leptin and insulin resistance. For many people – those who own genes that cause the resistance – the solution to being overweight will likely mean taking a medication that blocks the overactive leptin response and the overactive insulin response every day, in order to overcome their flawed internal chemistry.

For those of us whose leptin resistance is an environmentally acquired, inflammatory illness, however (an office worker who’s struggling with biotoxins from the “Sick Building” where he or she works each day, for example), the solution to the weight problem begins with removal of the offending toxins from the bloodstream.

And what about the two percent of overweight patients who don’t have either endogenous or acquired leptin resistance? For this tiny minority, the old rules still apply; to lose weight, they will have to eat less and exercise more!

Okay, time for the next Big Question: Does Dr. Shoemaker really have solid, convincing research data on which to base his recent claim that about one-third of all leptin-resistance comes from the chronic biotoxin illnesses that are now spreading rapidly across America? (I thought you’d never ask.)

The answer, of course, is a resounding “yes.” Quite recently, Dr. Ken Hudnell, Dennis House and I presented an academic paper on Sick Building Syndrome in which we analyzed 21 SBS patients who were working in five different buildings crawling with toxic mold. After we documented the numerous symptoms of chronic, biotoxin-associated illness (see Chapter 14, if you want a review) – including chronic fatigue, high leptin levels and deficits in the special neurotoxicology test, VCS – we prescribed a toxin-binding and toxin-eliminating medication (cholestyramine, CSM) that would help them shrug off the poisons and restore their health, while also correcting their VCS deficit.

As we expected, the patients improved dramatically within a couple of weeks – and all experienced an immediate reduction of their leptin resistance, with resultant weight loss! In other words, as our published and scientifically verified findings presented at recent meetings of both the 83rd Endocrine Society (6/01) and the American Diabetes Association (6/02) made clear, these unhappy folks were actually being made sick and tired and fat by their toxic environments!

In order to test our hypothesis prospectively (this part of the study provides definitive proof of causation), we stopped the medication briefly in order to observe the effect of avoidance of the implicated building. The symptoms, VCS scores and leptin levels didn’t change. We then watched as the patients returned to their toxic indoor environments, without CSM to protect them. Within three days, when we looked at them again, their biotoxin-illness symptoms had returned, their VCS scores had plummeted and their leptin resistance was soaring again. We then re-treated the patients, while they were still being exposed to the now-confirmed Sick Building, and saw a return to the baseline treated state, without symptoms, VCS deficits and overproduction of leptin.

The fact that we confirmed the leptin-changes within three days didn’t surprise us, since we knew that the adverse effects on leptin receptors from cytokine responses to biotoxins occurs almost instantaneously. The rapid shifts in leptin were associated with changes in weight as well. Falling leptin, meaning reduced cytokine effects on leptin receptors, gave weight loss, with no changes in diet. Rising leptin, again without dietary changes, gave weight gain. Later, when these patients left their sick buildings behind and then flushed the biotoxins out of their bodies once and for all with CSM, they all lost impressive amounts of weight, without changes in diet. If our data on several thousand patients with biotoxin illnesses seems like a small number, remember our studies are only several years old and were performed in a rural area of Maryland. How many cases of Sick Building Syndrome are there if 10% of the workplaces and 15% of the schools in America have toxin-forming fungi as NIOSH stated several years ago? How many of those patients are part of the Obesity Epidemic that is currently being blamed on sedentary lifestyle, self-indulgent eating and dietary excess? We won’t know the answer if we don’t know to ask the question.

All right, then: We’re almost to the finish line now, in our effort to understand how controlling the body’s hormone resistance (insulin, leptin) will help us to control our weight. But one obvious question remains: What medications can help us most here, and what’s the basis for their effectiveness in shutting down resistance?

Panacea, may I have the envelope, please?

And the winner is . . . the thiazolidinedione family of medications, which we can simply call “TZDs,” in order to avoid the horrors of pronunciation. These medications – they’re commonly used to control diabetes, by the way – consist primarily of two key substances, pioglitazone and rosiglitazone, and they work by turning on a string of valiant, fat cell-based genes (known as “PPAR gamma”) that produce many powerful organic compounds. TZDs block excessive inflammatory cytokine production, lower leptin, increase fatty acid uptake into fat cells and activate direct burning of fatty acids inside fat cells (Chapter 13). What more could an insulin/leptin resistant patient want? These compounds work effectively to help offset both leptin and insulin resistance, in other ways, too, but this time I’ll spare you the complex chemistry. Of great interest for weight loss is the discovery that all these wonderful benefits from use of TZDs disappear when the patient begins to add amylose into his diet. Even worse, weight gain, some due to fluid retention, also occurs when TZDs are used in conjunction with a diet that includes amylose. Remember: If you are considering TZDs, you must use the No-Amylose diet, without fail.

In an earlier chapter, you read how we can use TZDs to help lower insulin resistance, and also control diabetes. Understandably enough, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (which regulates the use of medicines in this country) long ago designated – or “labeled” – TZDs as a diabetes medication. This means that our use of the substance for weight-loss will have to be “off-label,” as the doctors say . . . but so what? In fact, physicians prescribe such off-label usage of medications day in and day out: Such usage is strictly routine, and perfectly legal and ethical – provided only that the patient is properly informed of the “off-label” status. We always monitor liver function tests in our patients who take TZDs, just like we do with the statin cholesterol-lowering drugs, but especially because an earlier TZDs, troglitazone, was blamed for causing liver disease and was pulled from the market. No one, in my opinion, should consider using TZDs for targeted gene therapy of leptin resistance, insulin resistance and weight loss, until he has been evaluated carefully by a physician, found to have obesity refractory to standard measures and been shown to be able to stay on the No-Amylose diet. Then, following informed consent, the patient can take the drug under strict medical management.

Welcome, then, to the Brave New Weight-Loss World of using TZDs to dramatically reduce leptin resistance and thus help overweight patients attack the real culprit behind their flabbiness. By using TZDs in combination with a No-Amylose diet, we can now achieve results that Dr. Atkins and his fellow fat-book authors only dreamed of: We can control body-weight almost at will, and without starving our patients half to death in the process!

This breaking news about the wonders of TZDs will be especially welcome among the estimated 30 million Americans whose overweight status is due to chronic, biotoxin-associated illnesses, such as Sick Building Syndrome and some cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. For these individuals, a few weeks of CSM therapy will kick off the complex process that underlies effective treatment. Once the toxins that are causing their leptin resistance are removed and the hypothalamic pathways that leptin activates are working normally again (sometimes, this is process quite complex), what we will see is a removal of the leptin resistance, which will then allow patients to shed their excess poundage quickly and painlessly.

The enormously hopeful news for overweight patients everywhere is that your hour of liberation is at hand. Instead of blaming yourselves (or being blamed by Dan Rather & Co. on national television) for your fat, and instead of blaming Burger Doodle for serving up too many triple-cheeseburgers, we’re going to put the blame where it belongs: on human biochemistry, and on the insulin/leptin resistance which is the legacy of our biological evolution – as creatures whose forbears lived for countless millennia (as hunter-gatherers) under conditions of “feast or famine."

Make no mistake: The Obesity Epidemic isn’t anyone’s “fault”; it is simply a product of our history. Until the arrival of mechanized agriculture, only about a century ago, the human body had never been exposed to a continuous flood of sugars and fats – a flood that now never stops. For at least 200 centuries, and probably much longer, the human response to such sugars and fats had been: “Convert this stuff to fat, so that it will carry us through the next famine!” Remember: The famines prevented repetitive blood sugar-rises and blood fatty acid rises; during the long spells without much food, the fat storage process would slowly unwind, releasing stored energy, allowing primordial populations to survive winter and drought.

Is it any wonder, given this evolutionary reality, that many contemporary humans with hormonal resistance, both genetic and acquired, when exposed to an endless flood of excess nutrients, are turning into chunky, double-chinned folks who closely resemble our struggling Mr. O? And is it any wonder, given the explosion of buildings with indoor resident toxin-forming fungi, now bathing the HVAC with mycotoxins-of-the-day, that thousands and thousands of patients who work, live or go to school in these buildings are getting fat? Add in the many other biotoxin-forming organisms that seemingly are emerging from the mud each month, and we see the Obesity Epidemic in a whole new perspective: It isn’t the calories we eat that counts, it is the calories that we store as fat. Cytokines are necessary for life; excess downstream cytokine effects cause excess weight that won’t go away by using willpower and pushing away from the table.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Brave New World of Weight-Control has already begun. Armed with TZD and a new, rapidly growing understanding of molecular physiology in human beings, we’re going to go far beyond the early contributions of Dr. Atkins and his fellow-authors. We’re going to enter – have already begun to enter – a world in which losing excess weight and keeping it off will be about as difficult as having your teeth cleaned by the dental hygienist (we can’t escape Hygeia altogether).

We’re also about to enter a world in which fat people – folks like Mr. Overweight and the “American Waddler” – will no longer be denigrated as failures who couldn’t control their own eating habits. Instead of being made cruel sport of, they’ll be able to quickly and painlessly solve their weight-problems by asking a physician to measure their levels of insulin, leptin and cytokines, while also testing them with Visual Contrast Sensitivity and seeking symptoms that could be related to environmentally acquired, biotoxin-induced leptin and/or insulin resistance. (For more information about these easily performed tests and the TZD- and cholestyramine-based therapies that will help overweight patients to lose their excess pounds rapidly and easily, visit www.chronicneurotoxins.com on the Internet.)

In summary, then: The bottom-line message of this chapter – and the message of LOSE THE WEIGHT YOU HATE – is that the Battle Against Fat has nearly been won. All that remains now is the process of educating ourselves about the actual physiology involved . . . and then taking the necessary steps to keep obesity at bay through the judicious use of effective medications such as TZD, while also remaining vigilant about over-consumption of those relatively few, amylose-based foods that also trigger hormonal resistance.

Dieters, rejoice: As this new world of molecular-based weight therapy takes off in earnest, you are going to live much better, healthier lives. You have nothing to lose but your flab!


Monday, September 19, 2011

My "Illness" And A Revelation From God

Isaiah 53:4-5
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

Today when I read that scripture, I had a revelation. You see, being "sick" has brought many well-meaning people into my life. Friends and professionals that want to see me get well and want to encourage me. I am grateful to God for each one of them and they are all playing a part in the ultimate healing that I am receiving. But occasionally, I will come across someone that follows in the footsteps of Job's friends, wondering what exactly it could be that I have done or not done to either bring this illness upon myself or allow it to remain here: 'Is there sin in her life?'; 'Does she truly believe God can heal her?'; 'Maybe she is struggling with doubt?'; 'She must be holding on to unforgiveness.' All of these questions were asked by Job's friends at one time too and yet look how God treated them in the end of that story: the Lord was "angry with [them] for they [were] not right in what they said about [Him] as [His] servant Job was."

From the very beginning of this "illness," I have believed that God can heal me. And that He wants to heal me. And that He will heal me. And that somewhere in space and time, that healing has already taken place (you see, God is omnipotent and knows no space or time; this is why we can pray for our healing now and believe it has already happened, even if the manifestation is yet to come). It is only God and God alone that knows when that healing will take place. Our job in the meantime is to wait (to expect and hope) and to believe. Psalm 27: 13-14 says, "Yet I am confident that I will see the Lord's goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord." John 11:40 says "Only believe and you will see the glory of God." Okay, awesome. So that means I can sit here and shove pizza and soda down my throat, not exercise and keep doing the things that I know will harm me, but it's okay because all I have to do is wait and believe that the Lord's going to heal me, right?! Wrong. If you believe that, then you have been duped by the father of lies, satan himself.

In my particular situation, God has shown me MANY things that I can both do and refrain from doing WHILE I am waiting and believing for my healing. These are things not only to help me feel better now but to help with the manifestation of my healing. Does God need my help in manifesting my healing? No, of course not. Has He specifically requested in this instance that I play a pivotal role in it? YES! In my many conversations with the Lord, He has shown me that my illness is a permissive one but one that He will use to bring life and healing to many nations.

Now, this is where it gets a little hard to understand because it is difficult for some people to wrap their heads around the fact that God is a God that can be both Good, and at the same time, allow an illness like mine. But we must look at it like this: God created this world without sin. He gave man free will and with that came the freedom of choice. If there was no free will, we all would be walking around like robots--preprogrammed machines void of everything that makes us human. Unfortunately, man (and woman) abused that free will and chose to sin against God when they ate of the tree of good and evil. At that time, sin entered the world. While God is life, sin is death and decay. Romans 8:20-21 says: "Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay." Now, God didn't want to curse us, He created the world without sin. But when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate of the tree of good and evil, God's curse was unleashed upon the world through man's actions.

Think of it in this way: if we do something to break the law, we get punished. We may have to pay a fine, do community service hours, or even go to jail. We do not blame the law, the police or the judge for our disobedience and wrongdoing, nor do we blame them for the punishment that we must suffer because of it. No, we must own up to our mistakes and realize that there are consequences to our actions and to the choices that we make. In the same way, the curse of God, which is sin, was not meant for man, but came upon man after he disobeyed God's law. God tells us in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death BUT (I love God's "buts") the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Wow. Okay, so let me get this straight. God created a perfect world without sin. We messed it up. But God still loved us SO MUCH that He sent His only son, Jesus, to die for us so that we might have everlasting life (John 3: 16) with Him? That's right, everlasting. Forever. For eternity. So that means that even though I have, and will, continue to disobey and sin against God, He loves me so much that He made a way for me to be righteous again through the blood of Jesus? And all I have to do to accept that gift is confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead, like it tells us in Romans 10:9? That's it, seriously?! Yep, that's it. Seriously. Salvation is a gift from God to us. We have done nothing to deserve it. We can do nothing to earn it. We are not worthy to receive it. Not a one of us. But God still offers it to us freely anyway. And it's all because GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD. Last time I checked, that world means me, and you. There is no exclusion there. Yes, it all starts with love, because God IS love (1 John 4:8).

As we now know, the presence of sin in this world has produced death, decay and disease. That by NO means is intended to translate as "You are a sinner and that is why you are sick." Do NOT let the father of lies tell you that. Now, could it be possible that sin and unforgiveness are causing or exacerbating an illness? Yes, most definitely. But if you have confessed that sin and are working on the unforgiveness in your life (this is an action and a process, NOT a feeling) and are still sick, then you must NOT take stock in the notion that God does not want you well, or that you need to be more holy in order to be forgiven, or that if you say just 10 more "Hail Mary's" God is going to hear you and act. NO! All of those are LIES! God's Word--which IS God according to John 1:1 ("In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God)--tells us: “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who ‘worry their prayers’ are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” James 1:6-8. I have heard it said that "Worry is like prayer, but in reverse." I don't know about you, but I don't like the mental picture of undoing all of my prayers because of worry! We need to live in the freedom available to us through God's Word and to do that, when He tells us something in His Word, we are to believe it.

Sin and unforgiveness were certainly things I immediately addressed in my own life when I first became ill. And of course, like many of us, I had both of these things present in my life. So I prayed. And I confessed. And I forgave. And I did my best to try not to worry. This was true even though it literally felt like my body was being shut down, one cell at a time. It was like the lights were being turned off in my body, one switch, and then another, and then another. I literally drew up my last will and testament and got as many things as I could in order because I believed there was a chance I could die. I spent many nights in our guest room crying out to God to heal me, to save me or even just to give me some relief. Talking to Him like this was comforting and God wants us to cry out to Him in our times of trouble. We see King David doing this all throughout the Psalms and we know from God's Word that David was "a man after God's own heart" (1 Sammuel 13:13-14). In Psalms 142, we can find one of David's prayers:

1 I cry aloud to the LORD;
I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy.
2 I pour out before him my complaint;
before him I tell my trouble.

3 When my spirit grows faint within me,
it is you who watch over my way.
In the path where I walk
people have hidden a snare for me.

4 Look and see, there is no one at my right hand;
no one is concerned for me.
I have no refuge;
no one cares for my life.

5 I cry to you, LORD;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”

6 Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need;
rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.

7 Set me free from my prison,
that I may praise your name.
Then the righteous will gather about me
because of your goodness to me.

I love David's prayers because though we can easily see the suffering he was going through, his prayers to the Lord are not only filled with complaints and requests, but also praises! David said in Psalm 3:7 (b), "…For you have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone, You have broken the teeth of the ungodly". Here David knows the secret of praise and also knows what happens to the enemy when we praise God: we literally silence our enemies. The enemy keeps talking to us day and night about things that are not the will of God for us. Therefore it becomes necessary for us to silence him. If we do not silence the enemy he will continue to talk defeat into our lives and that is the reason we often feel so beat up at the end of the day. Praise shuts satan up. So the next time something is troubling you and you are at the end of your rope, cry out to God! With prayer and petition, but always with thanksgiving, ask Him to meet your needs--and be specific, be bold in your requests! For the Lord your God loves you and wants to help you.

One of the other awesome things that sticks out to me about David's prayer (and there are many) is that he feels like "no one is concerned for him" and that "no one cares for his life." Often times, when we are sick, it feels like no one could possibly know what we are going through and that even if they do, they don't care. Have you ever felt this way? I know I have. I have had struggles--many in my own family--with people that didn't believe I was ill and even after I had received an actual “diagnosis,” these family members still don't ask me how I am doing or feeling. That can be tough, even devastating. But when we start to feel that way, we need to take those thoughts captive and cast them down in the name of Jesus as He tells us to in 2 Corinthians 10:5: "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." Then we need to follow David's example. After he laments about his isolation and just about the time we think he is going to have a pity party, he says in the very next verse, "I cry to YOU, LORD; I say, YOU are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” David knew that he could not get what he needed from his family or friends but from the Lord ONLY. David didn't try to deny or lie about how he was feeling and the suffering that he was going through. He knew that there was no lying to God because God knows the hearts of all men, but he told God of his feelings and then recognized that it was only the Lord that could give him his portion here on earth.

One of the special and encouraging people that God has brought into my life lately explained it to me like this: You cannot go to Home Depot looking for bread. Home Depot is not equipped with bread; they don't even stock it. So there is no way Home Depot can sell bread to you. It's like this with what we desire from people. If you are looking for something from someone and that person does not even have it to give to you, well then of course you are going to be disappointed! If someone is not equipped to give you what you're searching for, then you're not going to get it. Now, whose fault is it that you went to Home Depot looking for bread? Home Depot's? No, of course not. So don't go to man to get your needs fulfilled. You are going to come away disappointed, hurt and even devastated. Seek God instead and get your needs met from Him. HE is the one that will give you your FULL portion.

After I dealt with the sin and unforgiveness in my life, I still did not get well. However, dealing with these things helped me feel a WHOLE lot better and the joy that filled my soul was like a beacon of light that radiated from the inside out. People that I spoke to even told me that they saw an anointing on me and I could feel it too. My flesh was weak with disease but my spirit and my soul were rejoicing in the Lord. We often harbor sin and unforgiveness in our lives that we don't even know is there. The Holy Spirit will give you wisdom and discernment concerning these things. Even if wisdom and discernment are not spiritual gifts that God has given you after you have accepted Christ into your life, the Bible tells us that we can pray for wisdom and that it will be given to us. And not just given to us, but given to us LIBERALLY: "...If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting)..." James 1: 5-6a.

The Lord has given me great wisdom and discernment concerning my health and the things that are going on with my body; things that conventional medicine cannot explain and many things it will not even acknowledge. I have sought this wisdom and have specifically prayed for the wisdom and knowledge of Solomon (King David's son). Appearing to Solomon in a dream, God said, “Ask for whatever you want Me to give to you” (3:5 NIV). With this statement, God placed no limits or restrictions on what Solomon could have asked for. With such an invitation, we might expect Solomon to launch immediately into a long list of petitions. But he does not do this. Solomon begins his prayer with heartfelt praise. Solomon thanks God for His “great mercy” and acknowledges that he is king as a direct consequence of the mercy God extended to his father David (3:6). Solomon then moves from heartfelt praise to a humble approach and confesses to the Lord, “I am but a child; I do not know how to go out or to come in” (3:7). And lastly, Solomon comes to God with an honorable petition, he prays, “give Thy servant wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?" 2 Chronicles 1:7 God answered Solomon by saying, "Since this is your heart's desire and you have not asked for wealth, riches or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people over whom I have made you king, therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given you. And I will also give you wealth, riches and honor, such as no king who was before you ever had and none after you will have." (1:8-12). Wow, what an example David and Solomon have set for us in how to approach our Heavenly Father.

When God imparted on me the wisdom, knowledge and discernment concerning my health, it wasn't like I knew everything I needed to know all at once. It has been almost four years since I knew I was “ill” and God is still bringing things into my life to help manifest my healing. Not only that, but oh how sweet a time I have had with the Lord over these last four years! My flesh has been ravaged by "disease" but my soul and my spirit have flourished! There has been a lot of emotional healing going on in me during this time, all a testament to the power of the Holy Spirit and the life that we find through Him.

I have been bold and have prayed for a healing of my TOTAL being. Why ask for anything less? That is just putting limitations on God and God does NOT have limits! Since we are told that "God created man in His own image" (Genesis 1:27) we know that we are comprised of flesh (the body), the soul (the psyche/personality), and the spirit (the life). The flesh is pretty easy to understand, but it can be a little more complicated when we are looking at the difference between the soul and the spirit. I think it is more easily understandable when we view our soul as the "make-up of man." The soul, then, is our personality and how we relate to each other. The spirit was breathed into us by God and is what gives us life. Genesis 2:7 says: "The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." Throughout the Bible, man’s spirit (not to be confused with the Holy Spirit who is part of God) is always referred to as the immaterial part of man. Man is not a spirit, he has a spirit. When you are reborn, you are born of spirit (John 3:5-6). The spirit is part of the soul, much like the mind is part of the soul. It is the soul, though, that comprises who you are.

As you can see, the flesh, the soul and the spirit are all very much intertwined. Like God, we are all one being, but yet three separate parts. Doesn't it make since then, that if one of those parts is sick, the whole being would show signs of this? The "disease" that man experiences can be related to any one, or more, of these three parts. The soul and the spirit can be just as toxic as the flesh and it is imperative that if we truly want complete and total healing, we must seek out the roots of what is making us ill. Dealing with emotional toxins is just as important as dealing with physical ones. Now, the Holy Spirit has told me that my "illness" is rooted in the flesh, BUT in order to receive total healing for my WHOLE being, I need to also treat the soul and the spirit.

My special friend that also told me to quit trying to go to Home Depot for bread has introduced me to a man here locally who is a recovery specialist. This man actually founded the Believers In Recovery program at our church so many years ago. Among other things, he and his wife work with women that have experienced dysfunction in their childhoods and who now want to shake off that baggage, find out who they are in Christ and get on with the life that God has called them to. Wouldn't you know it, but he is starting one of these small groups at the beginning of October. :) I am going to see him on Wednesday for my "intake" session. I am very excited about this opportunity and I look forward to confronting some things in my past, putting them to rest and then moving forward. I am also involved in a Bible Study on David and seeking a heart like his.

It is no coincidence that these things are in my life. In fact, when I look at the way God has bringing everything together, I cannot help but to be overwhelmed with awe-struck humility. I mean, who am I that God would care this much for me; that He would impart a spirit of wisdom and revelation in me; that He would choose me to bring you these words right now; that He would love me SO MUCH, He would sacrifice His only son's life for me? Awe-struck, truly.

So this gets me back to the well-meaning people and the revelation I had this morning while reading the scripture in Isaiah, which says: "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." (53:4-5) The Holy Spirit revealed to me that like Christ, I am being pierced, crushed and punished for things that have nothing to do with anything that I did or did not do to God or others. And while man may say that I have been stricken, smitten or afflicted by God, this is a TOTAL LIE! By Christ's wounds I AM HEALED! I believe it and I claim it but like Christ, I have been allowed this burden because I am being called to help manifest a healing in others so that they can also have peace. THAT is a burden I will gladly bear. Praise God that He finds me worthy of such a task as this!

One last thing...while I almost did not write this blog because of the sheer terror of comparing myself to Christ, the Holy Spirit reminded me that I am a Child of the King (Romans 8:17), a Saint (Deut 33:3), and that He calls me Holy (1 Peter 2: 9)! So I submitted my will to Him and let the Spirit do the talking. I pray, then, that you have received exactly what you needed to hear today. I know I did. God Bless you!

Always Hope

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Use Of Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN) In The Treatment Of Chronic Disease

Low dose naltrexone (LDN) is a hot topic among patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), cancer, neurological conditions, HIV infection, herpes, autism, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and autoimmune diseases. With good reason. Clinical trials and anecdotal studies show that LDN can stop disease progression, reduce symptoms and help the body heal itself. And if that isn't enough, LDN is inexpensive and it's FDA approved. There's just one catch. Naltrexone hasn't yet been FDA approved for conditions other than opiate abuse, alcohol abuse and self-injurious behaviors. It can be prescribed off-label for other conditions but in this manner, LDN is kept out of the public eye.

Naltrexone is an opiate antagonist developed in the early 1980s in response to the need for an effective treatment for opiate addiction. Its safety and effectiveness at doses ranging from 50 to 300 mg daily were confirmed in clinical trials. In 1984, the FDA approved naltrexone as a treatment for opiate abuse, and several years later it was approved as a treatment for alcohol abuse. In the protocol known as low dose naltrexone, naltrexone is used in doses ranging between 1.5 and 10 mg daily.

During the development phase of naltrexone, Dr. Ian Zagon and his team at Pennsylvania State University began researching naltrexone and other opiate antagonists. Dr. Zagon was particularly interested in the reasons for the low birth weight in children born to heroin addicts. His studies led to the discovery that opiate antagonists such as naltrexone and naloxone caused increased production of endorphins. He discovered that besides making us feel better, endorphins are neutrotransmitters that regulate immune function and cell growth. Most importantly, he found that low doses of naltrexone blocked the opiate receptor intermittently and caused a dramatic increase in endorphins. Increased production of one particular endorphin, met-5-enkephalin, Dr. Zagon found, inhibited cell proliferation, reducing inflammation in autoimmune and neurological disorders and stopping cell growth in tumors.

Dr. Zagon published his findings around the same time naltrexone was introduced in clinical trials for drug abuse. Dr. Bernard Bihari in New York City took an immediate interest in Dr. Zagon's reports of the immune system effects of naltrexone. The reports of low dose naltrexone confirmed what he was seeing in drug addicts recently diagnosed with HIV infection. Individuals infected with HIV using naltrexone weren't progressing to AIDS as quickly. Seeing the potential for low dose naltrexone, Dr. Bihari began prescribing low doses of naltrexone to patients with multiple sclerosis and other immune-mediated illnesses who weren't responding to other therapies. Dr. Bihari's childhood friend, Dr. David Gluck started up a website www.lowdosenaltrexone.org/ where he shared news of LDN's success. Dr. Bihari began publishing reports of his findings to AIDS conferences and he organized the first LDN conference in New York City in the fall of 2005. In 2007, the National Institutes of Health showed their interest by hosting a conference on the unexplored potential of opiate antagonists..

It didn't take long for patients searching online, especially MS patients, to begin using low dose naltrexone. Worldwide, patients began demanding LDN and sought out physicians who would prescribe it. Sammy Jo Wilkinson and other patients with MS, who experienced dramatic improvement, began fundraisers and collected enough money to partially fund the first clinical trial of low dose naltrexone in humans at the University of California San Francisco in 2008. A similar trial in Italy proved LDN's potential in MS. Clinical trials of LDN in Crohn's disease and pancreatic cancer have shown early promising results at Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Zagon at Penn State has been studying LDN for more than 30 years and is pleased to see people worldwide benefiting from his efforts.

However, because naltrexone has been a generic drug for more than a decade, pharmaceutical companies aren't interested in funding clinical trials for a drug they can't patent. Clinical trials, such as the trials of LDN in fibromyalgia and Gulf War Syndrome Dr. Jarred Younger is conducting at Stanford University, are being funded by grants and private donors. Dr. Zagon relies on small grants and private donations for his ongoing research on LDN in MS and cancer. In the meantime, most patients who could benefit from LDN don't know it exists. And without glossy ads in medical journals from pharmaceutical companies, most doctors remain uninformed.

Elaine Moore and Samantha Wilkinson, The Promise of Low Dose Naltrexone Therapy: Potential Benefits in Cancer, Autoimmune, Neurological and Infectious Disorders, Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company, Incorporated, 2008.

For more information about LDN and the many illnesses it is sucessfully being used to treat, see here:


Always Hope

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Chronic Lyme Disease: The Great Imitator & Exacerbator


Steven J. Harris, M.D. has been in private practice since 2001. Dr. Harris is a medical doctor (MD), board certified in Family Practice. His private practice was operated as a sole proprietorship until 2006, after which time he formed a California medical corporation, Pacific Frontier Medical, Inc.

Since 2001, Dr. Harris has focused his practice on the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease and other tick-borne co-infections. He believes that chronic, persistent Lyme is an epidemic in the United States, but that there are many effective treatments available to those infected. His approach to Lyme disease incorporates strategies found in conventional, functional and complementary medicine.

Dr. Harris has taken a leadership role in CALDA (The California Lyme Disease Association), a research, patient advocate and education group which has been largely responsible for spearheading favorable legislation protecting patients’ rights, expanding Lyme disease awareness and fostering continued public health education.

Dr. Harris is also an active member of ILADS, (The International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society). This is a professional medical society of physicians and scientists which has become the de facto authority on effective treatment for chronic Lyme disease and is a rational counterbalance to the prevailing opinions of the IDSA (Infectious Disease Society of America), which refutes the existence of chronic Lyme disease. ILADS has focused its efforts on global physician education in order to increase the number of treating physicians available to those with Lyme.

There is currently a huge shortage of treating physicians for those with chronic Lyme disease, particularly on the West Coast. As a result, over the past three years, Dr. Harris has maintained three operating practices in various cities (Malibu, Redwood City and in Dr. Tod Thoring’s practice in Arroyo Grande) in order to provide maximum geographic coverage for patients in California, Oregon and Washington. In June 2007, two new practitioners were recruited in order to increase operating efficiency and the size of the practice. Dr. Harris projects that the practice will now have more resources, with the capacity to receive twice as many patients as before.

Healing Philosophy

My healing philosophy is similar to that of Drs. Richard Horowitz, Greg Bach, Joseph Burrascano, Therese Yang and Dietrich Klinghardt. I believe that infections are a significant part of the disease process, but that (in the words of Klinghardt) “impaired physiology, biotoxin load, and immune dysregulation” are what determine the individual flavor of the disease as well as how sick people will be. I look at Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) as one of the significant central processing organisms that make other phenomena, such as biotoxins, inorganic toxins, opportunistic infections, and the like, matter. Many people have other problems along with Bb, such as yeast, mold, viruses and metals, and while these things in themselves can make people sick, when there is no Lyme disease involved, they may not have such a profound impact upon the body. When Lyme is involved, however, these corollary factors (which are different than Lyme co-infections) begin to really wreak havoc. It’s almost as if Lyme overwhelms the body to such an extent that these factors take on a life of their own. Immune surveillance and detoxification pathways in the liver, kidneys, lymphatics and skin just can’t keep up. There are other infections that can cause serious illness, such as Brucella, Mycoplasmas, and maybe even mycobacterium (which causes tuberculosis), as well as others. But biotoxins, Herpes viruses, Epstein-Barr virus and people’s lifestyle in general, might not matter as much if Lyme wasn’t causing the body to be under so much stress.

When Lyme Disease Isn’t the Primary Cause of Symptoms

There are cases of Lyme disease where Lyme isn’t primary in the overall symptom picture; for example, in those who have Lyme and autism, although I am never really sure. I find that about one in four autistic kids have Lyme disease, but I don’t think that Lyme is usually the primary reason for these kids’ autism. It’s a contributing factor, but may not be the main reason why they have autism. Also, while it may be important for people who have conditions such as ALS, Alzheimer’s and rheumatoid arthritis, in addition to Lyme disease, to treat their Lyme, this doesn’t mean that Lyme is their central problem or even causing the majority of their symptoms.

That said, the Borrelia organism can go dormant in the body at times, especially if one keeps pounding away relentlessly at the infection. Whenever I see this happen in my patients, I find that heavy metals, mold, a parasite or some other problem often surfaces and temporarily becomes the main (biggest) issue for them. Such issues must then also be treated.

Also, the body can only do so much simultaneous work, so as a physician, I have to pick and choose the problems that I want to treat in my patients at any particular given time. So if Borrelia is their core problem, but they present twenty different obstacles to treatment, then I might need to first address some of those obstacles, and then afterwards, focus on the Borrelia. For example, when patients have significant dental infections, or even structural abnormalities, such as bad TMJ, and if they are really sick, then I find that unless I deal with these other infections or structural problems, then it is very hard to treat their Lyme infections successfully with just antibiotics. So I may recommend, for example, that they have dental work done to deal with anaerobic infections in the mouth and which cause conditions such as osteonecrosis and osteomyelitis. Once these problems are treated, then it’s much easier to treat the Lyme infections. Some physicians have an order in which they treat patients’ problems, but I don’t necessarily believe that there is a cookbook order in which to do things, because each person is unique. I do believe, in any case, that it is important to address those obstacles that interfere with the proper treatment of Lyme infections.

Antibiotic Treatments for Infections

I am a student of many doctors who came before me treating Lyme. I’m trying to stand on the shoulders of giants, but I sometimes think that those giants are standing so high up and doing such amazing work, that it’s hard for me to top that.

I don’t have a standard protocol that I use for all of my patients. My treatments for Lyme infections generally involve homeopathic, herbal, naturopathic, and sometimes even energy medicine methods, along with a strong pharmaceutical approach. I find that most of my patients need to take some pharmaceutical antibiotics to really knock out the infections. Using alternative methodologies alone makes it much less likely, statistically, that they will get over the disease.

My antibiotic approach is similar to that of Dr. Horowitz’s, and includes the use of double intracellular antibiotics, along with cell-wall and cyst-busting drugs such as metronidazole and tinidazole (5-nitroimidazoles) or nitazoxanide. I might also use macrolide and tetracycline drugs, as well as third generation cephalosporins. I don’t necessarily administer these all at the same time and some I will rotate.

I also aggressively treat co-infections, and while I don’t believe that it is mandatory to treat co-infections first, if I have to give my patients IV antibiotics for Borrelia, then I will treat their co-infections before I treat their Borrelia. With the exception of Babesia, antibiotic regimens for co-infections must also be rotated and switched on a regular basis. For Babesia, treatments are most effective when patients start with one type of medication and stay on it for a long period of time, and then over time, “stack” other medications on top of that one. Medications for Babesia include intracellular and anti-parasitic drugs such as atovaquone (Mepron or Malarone), mefloquin (Lariam), or clindamycin, quinine, nitazoxanide (Alinia), and possibly metronidazole. Using an extracellular phase drug such as primaquin can be useful, too. The most effective way to treat the Babesia species, however, is still somewhat up in the air in the medical community.

When patients first come into my office, if I know that they have Borrelia but I’m not sure whether they have co-infections, then I will order co-infection tests. In the meantime, I will either wait to treat them or start them on a medication such as Zithromax (azithromycin). Zithromax is a good drug to start with, because if it turns out that patients have Bartonella, then Zithromax combines well with rifampin (which is used for treating Bartonella). Or if patients have Babesia, then Zithromax combines well with Mepron (which is used for treating Babesia). Or if their test results show Ehrlichia, then doxycycline, minocycline, tetracycline or rifampin can all be added to the Zithromax. If patients end up having only Borrelia, then I can combine Zithromax with a cephalosporin or tetracycline drug, or even a cyst buster if it seems that their bodies are hardy and can handle aggressive treatment right away.

I often prescribe parenteral (IV or IM) therapy to patients that have strong neurological symptoms, to those who have been very sick for more than a year, who have gastrointestinal problems, or who can’t tolerate oral medications. I tend to try oral antibiotics for at least three months, before going the intravenous route. This is because if I hit patients with IV medications too fast, then they may get worse as a result of a severe Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction. This occurs when too much of a toxic load is created in the body and the organs become stressed as a result. IV medications may also perpetuate too much yeast overgrowth. For these reasons, I feel that I might be playing with fire if I start some of my patients off with IV antibiotics.

It can also be difficult to treat patients if they have a lot of co-infections, such as Bartonella, Mycoplasma, Babesia and Ehrlichia, or if they are quite ill with predominant symptoms of one or two of these co-infections. Such patients tend to get very strong reactions to treatments, which means that I can’t hit their infections as directly as I would like, because they will get too sick. Doxycycline, in particular, creates this type of scenario, especially in women. So while it may be an effective medication, I don’t like to use it in patients that have multiple, or severe, co-infections. Many practitioners like to start with doxycycline because it’s cheap and is mostly metabolized in the colon (instead of the liver and kidneys), which means that it’s fairly easy on the organs. It also has great activity against Borrelia, Anaplasma and Ehrlichia, and is somewhat effective for treating Babesia, Bartonella and Mycoplasma, but I find that people just “tank” if they take doxycycline when they have a lot of co-infections.

Doing oxidative stress, organic acid, plasma amino acids, RBC elements, mold antibody and stool tests, as well as tests for heavy metals, yeast and other environmental pollutants can help me to get an idea of what problems my patients have besides Lyme infections. Such information also helps me to determine whether they will “crash” on a particular antibiotic regimen.

Blood tests such as the C3A, C4A, CD-57, C3D, C1-Q Immune Complex and even ANA, rheumatoid factor and other immune tests of the like, tell me the amount of inflammation that patients have, which also helps me to determine the likelihood of them getting worse on a regimen. Doing a methylation panel and genetic profile can also be useful for this purpose.

A promising new test from Genelix assesses what drugs patients can tolerate, based on their genotype. As well, it measures other functions, such as how well they metabolize, assimilate and methylate. Such information enables me to determine whether my patients have liver detoxification or other problems. If test results demonstrate that they don’t tolerate antibiotics very well, for example, then I might refrain from prescribing drugs and instead put them on a detoxification protocol until their ability to tolerate medications increases.

If I suspect that my patients are sensitive to medications, I will start by prescribing them a gentle medication for Borrelia, or treat them instead for co-infections, as I watch for signs of “crashing.” In the past, I used to hit my patients hard with antibiotics, and they would eventually get better, but they would also have a flare-up or Herxheimer reaction for up to twelve or fifteen months following treatment, and that isn’t acceptable to me. When patients already feel bad, they can’t feel “more bad” for a year and a half before starting to feel good, especially if there is no promise that they are ever going to feel good in the first place! If patients do poorly on antibiotic regimens, then it means that I need to deal with other problems that they have and which are blocking the antibiotics from being fully effective. Or I might send them to a naturopathic doctor who knows a lot about detoxification, such as Drs. Claire Riendeau, Nicola McFadzean (see Dr. McFadzean’s chapter later in this book for more information on her protocol), Susan Marra and Amy Derksen, where they can receive detoxification treatments before I start them again on antibiotics.

Typical Symptoms of Different Infections


Since tests don’t always reveal whether patients are co-infected, I also rely on clinical diagnoses to determine which infections, besides Borrelia, are present and causing problems for my patients. For example, if my female patients aren’t menopausal, (I can check hormones to verify this) and have night sweats, flushing, severe pressure-like headaches, violent nightmares or vivid dreams, significant shortness of breath in the absence of another cause, frequent sighing or dry coughing in the absence of cardiac issues, then they may have Babesia. To ascertain the diagnosis, I might give them a clinical provocation test, especially if their lab test results are negative. For the clinical provocation, I might ask them to take herbs such as cryptolepsis or artemisia, as I observe their reaction to these. Dr. Tod Thoring in Arroyo Grande makes a cryptolepsis compound which consists of cryptolepsis, smilax, and boneset, as well as a cryptolepsis, artemisia and teasel cream, which are quite effective for this purpose. I may also use the herbal formulas Enula and Mora (NutraMedix brand), or some of the rizol oils (BioPure). Positive patient response to any of these can indicate that a parasitic infection is present. I’m not always 100% certain that the parasite is Babesia, but the tests help me to better estimate what it is. I will also sometimes do a provocation test in those already known to be infected with Lyme, using hydroxychloroquine and Zithromax, or Flagyl with Zithromax, because Babesia responds to these medications, too.


Typical symptoms in those with Bartonella and Borrelia (unlike the Bartonella that results from Cat Scratch disease) include ice pick-like headaches, major photophobia, anxiety or psychiatric issues, and even bi-polar symptoms. Neuropathy, reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD) or autism may also manifest, as well as significant cardiac or gut problems. The non-blanching “streaks” that some people find on their skin may also be a telling symptom. Some argue that plantar fascial pain is found in both Babesia and Bartonella, but I think that it is more related to Bartonella. In any case, whenever extreme anxiety is patients’ overriding symptom and is found in conjunction with neuropathic symptoms, such as burning pain, then I suspect that a Bartonella-like organism is causing these symptoms.

Ehrlichia and Anaplasma

If patients have profound fatigue and severe muscle pain, especially in conjunction with high liver enzymes, low white blood cell counts and fevers, they may have Ehrlichia.


Because Mycoplasma is an intracellular organism, it’s difficult to test for, but many of my patients have it. Persistent arthritis, especially in one joint that is really swollen, or a rheumatoid arthritis presentation indicate the possible presence of Mycoplasma. In children, major psychiatric problems may also indicate that the infection is present.

Lyme (Borrelia)

People with Borrelia can have all of the aforementioned symptoms, as well as many others, because Borrelia runs the gamut of symptoms. For that reason, those with this infection may feel bad in a number of different ways. Symptoms usually migrate with this infection, however, and/or tend to flare for four to seven days per month.

Also, I think that co-infections, such as Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia are generally not important factors in patients’ overall symptom picture unless Bb (Borrelia burgdorferi) is present to give them a foothold.

I do find that some of my patients have only Bb, without any other co-infections, especially those that have been sick for more than twenty years. Such patients have been living at a lower level of functionality, and may have been suffering from symptoms of generalized pain, fatigue and cognitive issues for a tremendous amount of time. Yet, because their problems tend to be mostly related to pure Lyme disease (Borrelia), they are often easier to treat than the co-infected patients.

Other Symptomatic Trends

Another trend that I have observed is that almost all of my patients that have Lyme disease (Bb) along with rheumatoid arthritis, MS (Multiple Sclerosis), Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, are also likely to have Babesia. If I had to guess, I would say that at least a third of all Lyme disease sufferers have co-infections, and possibly more.

Using Herbal Remedies to Treat Borrelia and Other Infections

I find that I have the most success treating my patients with herbs when I use them in conjunction with pharmaceutical antibiotics. If I were to recommend only herbs for the treatment of Lyme disease, there would be frequent treatment failures. If I prescribed only antibiotics, then I would have to use more antibiotics than if I had combined them with herbs. I think that herbs really act to heighten the effects of antibiotics, and therefore, I generally formulate a protocol using two to eight anti-microbial herbs, in addition to one to four antibiotics.

Dr. Thoring, whom I mentioned earlier, has come up with a promising herbal tincture, called BLT from Clinical Response Formulas, which contains red root, teasel, boneset, black walnut, lomatium, smilax, and stillengia. I find this product to work really well for the treatment of Borrelia and Bartonella, and it may also have some activity against Babesia.

Other herbs or herbal formulas that I use in my practice include Mora, Enula, Cumanda and Banderol from NutraMedix; cryptolepsis from Woodland Essence; the rizol oils Epsilon, My, Kappa, Gamma and Zeta from BioPure; and Dr. Zhang’s herbal products Circulation P, houttuynia, allicin, artemisia and coptis. I also use a bit of noni on occasion, as well as Borrelogen and Microbogen from David Jernigan, and some of the herbal cocktails from Monastery of Herbs. I may also recommend homeopathic remedies to my patients, such as Bioresource’s homeopathic molds, Notatum and Quentans and the homeopathic bacteria, Fermis and Subtilis. Stephen Buhner’s recommended herbs, such as andrographis, resveratrol, stephania root, and cat’s claw, are likewise important, as are chanca piedra and whole garlic. Garlic is beneficial for those who don’t have trouble metabolizing sulfur-containing foods. Finally, I use olive leaf extract and monolaurin or lauricidin for viruses, oregano oil for yeast, and products from Raintree, such as Myco, Amazon C-F and A-F for various other purposes. All of the aforementioned are just the antimicrobial herbs that I use in my practice; there are others that I recommend for supporting the body in the healing process.



Before I can detoxify my patients, I have to get their adrenal glands working. I recommend a broad range of adrenal supplements for this purpose, including adaptogens such as rhodiola, Cordyceps mushroom, ashwaganda and Researched Nutritional’s Multiplex and NT Factor Energy. Vitamins B-5 and C, magnesium, molybdenum, and adrenal glandular formulas are likewise important. I also sometimes recommend Bezwecken’s Isocort, or occasionally, hydrocortisone in low doses.

To address the drainage aspect of detoxification—that is, that which involves opening up the body’s detoxification pathways so that toxins can more freely leave the body, I recommend that my patients take Burbur and Parsley from NutraMedix. These are definite staples in my practice. I also use L-Drain and K-Drain from Transformation Products, Bioresource’s Mundipur, apo-Hepat, Renelix, Itires and Toxex.

For liver support, I recommend Liver Extende, which is a sarsaparilla and artichoke complex; Hepol from Projoba and Medcaps DPO from Xymogen, as well as alpha-lipoic acid, glutathione, and other glutathione precursors. Red and green clay, especially Argiletz clay and plain USP grade bentonite, are also remarkably useful. David Jernigan’s CNS Neuro-Antitox II, a product called Detox Factors from Natural Partners, and sometimes concentrated fruit juices such as acai, mangosteen extract and goji berry are beneficial, too. In addition, Pinella from NutraMedix, red root, burdock root, beet juice, dandelion leaf and root, all aid in the functioning of various detoxification pathways. Finally, I may recommend that my patients use detox footpads and ionic footbaths, castor oil packs, and digestive enzymes such as Wobenzym, Vitalzym, Inflammaquel (Researched Nutritionals), as well as others.

Doing bodywork aids in detoxification. I have found therapies such as cranial sacral, lymphatic and abdominal massage to be beneficial for my patients, as well as upper cervical therapy, which is a technique that increases blood flow to the brain. Dr. William Amalu performs the latter and is quite good at using it in his practice. NET (Neuro-Emotional Technique) is a physiological strategy that can also be really helpful for getting the body to release toxins. Also, I recommend stretching exercises and skin brushing techniques to all of my patients.

If heavy metals are a problem, I recommend chelation therapy using agents such as chlorella, cilantro, zeolites, DMSA, DMPS and Calcium Disodium EDTA. OSR also shows a lot of promise, especially when mixed with phospholipids. Chelex from Xymogen, Metalloclear and Ultraclear from Metagenics are also good, gentle chelation products.

Finally, I give chlorella to almost all of my patients, because I think that its uses and benefits are numerous. I may also use other toxin binders, everything from Cholestyramine to activated charcoal, Nanotech Chitosan from Allergy Research Group, glucomannan and apple or citrus pectin. Other practitioners may recommend additional or different binders.

Addressing Detoxification Problems

Compromised detoxification mechanisms in those with Lyme disease are sometimes due to methylation pathway defects. To correct this type of problem, I may recommend that my patients do the Amy Yasko protocol, and in the meantime, try to get the ammonia out of their bodies, using things like yucca root, BH4, and sometimes RNA Ammonia Support Formula. Rich Van Konynenburg has developed a simplified version of the Yasko protocol that seems to have some clinical utility. I also find that Dr. Richard’s plant stem cells (Gemmo therapy) can be remarkable for fixing detoxification problems, but I tend to refer my patients out for this type of treatment.

One of the problems with patients who aren’t able to detoxify well is that they are nutritionally depleted. Intracellularly, they aren’t able to absorb their nutrients, so one of the things that I do to correct this problem is to order a urine and plasma amino acid profile and red blood cell elements test. I then recommend that they supplement their diets with whatever minerals and amino acids that they happen to be deficient in, according to their test results. Administering IV amino acids and minerals is sometimes necessary. I may also recommend that they take Peltier Electrolytes from Crayhon Research, which is kind of like glorified Gatorade, but which works well to replenish some of the cell’s missing elements. I may also send patients out for IV nutrition, to receive different Myer’s cocktails and such, to get them more nutritionally balanced.

Immune System Supplements

Various immune supplements can be beneficial for strengthening the immune system, which is another important component to healing from the Lyme disease complex. I sometimes administer intramuscular transfer factor to my patients, or I may give them Researched Nutritionals’ Transfer Factor LymPlus, or Multi-Immune Transfer Factor, the latter of which can be really useful for calming down an overactive immune system. I also use low-dose Naltrexone in my practice.

Healing the Gut

It’s important for me to support my patients’ physiology, to the extent that I am able, by adding the right kind of nutrition to their diets and which is easy for them to tolerate. Many of my patients are gluten and casein sensitive, and have lots of food allergies, so eliminating these allergens from their diets is important.

In order to heal their guts and decrease Leaky Gut syndrome, I may give them substances such as Xymogen’s IgG-2000 DF, which are bovine source immunoglobulins that calm the gut down. I may use this in conjunction with a product called Intestimax, which is a combination of marshmallow, butyrate, and glutamine that supports the integrity of the intestinal lining. Or I might give them rectal butyrate, which also calms the gut, or Ketotifen, which reduces inflammation and promotes healing of the intestine. Sygest, Juvecal and Roqueforti, as well as other spagyric homeopathics from Bioresource are likewise useful for this purpose.

After this, I will start treating their yeast problems. Yeast overgrowth must be controlled in order to fully heal the gut, and I use a broad range of remedies for getting rid of yeast; everything from cellulase to caprylic acid, pau d’ arco, and oregano oil, to the pharmaceutical medications.

Treating Hormonal Dysfunction

Balancing hormones is a remarkably important component to healing from Lyme disease. In Lyme, the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) is severely impaired and it’s one of the more difficult areas of the body to heal. Plant stem cells seem to help the HPA-axis to some degree, but I think that hormones are one of the areas in medicine that still needs to be researched, if practitioners really want to optimize their patients’ whole endocrine system.
Bioidentical hormones, when used properly, can help to restore HPA function in some with Lyme disease. Borrelia likes to destroy the body’s connective tissue, and endocrine glands have a lot of connective tissue, so it is important to get antibiotics and other antimicrobials into those glands. Optimizing endocrine function is also important, but if practitioners improperly prescribe hormones, then their patients can get “out of whack.” For that reason, I often refer my patients to an endocrinologist or skilled naturopathic physician who can more properly deal with this aspect of their healing.

Lifestyle Recommendations for Healing

I think that “island life” (tranquility and few toxins) is probably best for the chronically ill, although this lifestyle probably isn’t realistic for most. In any case, it’s important that those with Lyme get away from sources of electromagnetic stress wherever possible. Even though there may be more healing resources in cities, those who are a little more off “the grid,” will fare better with their treatments. Living a slower paced life is also beneficial for healing, as is consuming a diet rich in organic food. It’s okay for those with Lyme to have animal protein but it needs to be really clean, healthy meat. Basically, those who are leading really clean lives, in the absence of as many environmental toxins as possible, have greater success in their healing journey.


It is important that people with Lyme maintain a non-gluten, sugar and yeast-free diet, while keeping their body’s pH up by eating foods that promote less acidic blood. For those with methylation problems, keeping sulfur-containing foods like broccoli and garlic to a minimum, as well as onions and animal protein, is a good idea. Blood type diets might be beneficial for some. I have observed that blood types A and AB have the most difficult time tolerating treatments, so such people might benefit from following a blood type diet. Eliminating dairy from the diet is especially important for those with arthritis and certain neurological conditions. Finally, those with Lyme should minimize any other food allergies that show up on their IgG and IgA blood test results.


I think that Dr. Burrascano’s approach to exercise is right on. He advocates weight training with lightweights, as well as stretching-type exercises, but cautions against doing too much aerobic exercise. I agree that people with Lyme need to stretch and do gentle exercises, and that too much aerobic exercise, too fast, will deplete the adrenal glands, decrease T-cells, and open up the blood-brain barrier so that more Borrelia can get into the brain. Anaerobic-type exercises are more important, especially when people are just starting on a new treatment protocol.

Treatments for Symptomatic Relief


My approach to treating insomnia is to start by giving my patients one sleep remedy at a time, and then adding others as necessary, by “stacking” them up, one on top of the other, until patients are able to sleep well. I start by recommending natural remedies such as glycine, L-theanine and GABA. Dr. Zhang has a fantastic product called Herb Som, which contains schizandra. To overcome insomnia, it is important that those with Lyme find supplements that promote their GABA pathways.

If the natural remedies don’t work for my patients, then I will prescribe them pharmaceutical drugs. I will basically do everything under the sun to get them to sleep, so if the drugs don’t work, then as a last resort, I will refer them out to a psychiatrist for a prescription of Xyrem, which seems to help when all else fails.


To treat my patients’ nerve pain, I use everything from transdermal remedies to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Ketoprofen cream, Kaprex from Metagenics, Kapp Arrest from Biotics, Saloxicin and Doloryx from Xymogen and UltraInflamX from Metagenics are all useful. Key and Wellness Pharmacies have transdermal neuropathy creams and gels, which are made and combined using different preparations. I also use medications such as Gabapentin and Lyrica, and occasionally, Valproic acid, Carbamazepine and Dilantin. I try to stay away from prescribing narcotic drugs, because over the long run, they increase inflammatory cytokines in the body.

If my patients’ pain cannot be relieved by any of the aforementioned strategies, then I will refer them to a pain management specialist. Kids often need more pain management than adults.

Finally, curcumin from turmeric can be extremely helpful for lowering inflammation and reducing pain, as can bee venom and urine therapy (although I don’t use the latter in my practice). Energetic work, stretching and detoxification strategies can also relieve pain, depending upon its source. Getting to the source of the pain is important for determining what the best remedy will be. If my patients’ pain is in the morning, sometimes it’s due to toxins in their bodies. If it gets worse throughout the day, then it may be that their Lyme infections are causing the pain.

Depression and Anxiety

As is true for pain, when prescribing remedies for anxiety and depression, it’s important to know the cause of these symptoms. Sometimes, I find it necessary to prescribe anti-depressants, and I refer my patients to Lyme-literate psychiatrists that I know. I’m not a big fan of drugs, but sometimes people need them, at least for a short while. To help determine the underlying cause of my patients’ anxiety or depression, I sometimes check their neurotransmitter levels using labs such as NeuroScience or Sanesco, and then recommend amino acids and other supplements to make up for any deficiencies. Just supplementing with magnesium or selenium can often be remarkably helpful, as can detoxifying the body of heavy metals, supporting its nutrition, and getting rid of ammonia and other neurotoxins.


Fatigue is one of the more difficult symptoms to treat, but it’s one of the most bothersome. Like other symptoms, it is important to discover its cause, which is no easy task. Provigil, NT Factor Energy, glutathione and methyl or hydroxy B-12 can be beneficial for reducing this symptom. If patients don’t have a lot of yeast, using D-ribose or even some of the Mannatech glyconutrient products may also be helpful.

Brain Fog

Thinning the blood with low dose coumadin, heparin, boluoke (lumbrokinase), serrapeptase, ginkgo or Pentoxyphylline can sometimes reduce brain fog and other cognitive symptoms. Puerarin, yucca root, NutraMedix Pinella, chlorella, and Bacopa are also good for this purpose.

Healing Emotional Trauma

Emotional trauma is a huge component of illness and can be a block to patients’ healing. I think that in a sense, cells hold on to memories. Doing therapies that access the subconscious mind, such as EMDR and hypnosis, can be helpful for releasing traumatic memories on a cellular level, as can Family Constellation work and psychotherapy. Really looking deep within the self to discover the spiritual causes of illness, as well as faithfully exploring and healing past memories is important. People with Lyme often need to “go deep” in order to heal their emotional trauma.

Who Are Those That Heal From Lyme Disease? Who Are Those That Don’t?

The people who tend to heal from Lyme disease are those who don’t know how sick they are. They are those who are out there doing things, living life and functioning amidst all of the adversity that Lyme disease brings into their lives. They are the ones who really push themselves to get better, which means that ironically, the most adrenally-depleted people might be those who are having the most success with their recovery. Such people go out and get sunshine every day. They stretch and do all the tasks that are required of them to heal, such as daily skin brushing, colonics and keeping a good diet. They are able to focus on their symptoms but not make the symptoms the focus of their lives.

Also, people who can roll with the punches, take things in stride, adapt to adversity, self-manage symptoms as they come up and make decisions on their own, are those who heal. They are of the sort who can make the decision to stop a supplement if they no longer need it, and to research new supplements but not base their life decisions upon what others tell them about those supplements. They hunker down and stay in the healing process for the long haul, and can balance immediate gratification with deferred gratification. They are open to trying new things, don’t focus on every single symptom that manifests in their bodies and don’t have to know the reason “why” for everything; for example, why certain remedies work and why certain things are happening to their bodies.

I think that it is really important for those with Lyme to have a positive attitude, too. This can be taken to a fault; some Lyme sufferers might be “happy herxing” for two years, and I think that’s ridiculous, but it’s good if they are able to adapt to adversity and to view failures as a bump in the road, instead of as a curse.

For example, the person who is able to get over a gallbladder attack, a negative reaction to a medication or an IV line complication and say, “Okay, that didn’t work, let’s try something else,” instead of becoming despondent and giving up, has an easier time healing. Those who don’t get “stuck” in persistent thoughts of disease or who don’t get post-traumatic stress from their illness or treatments also heal faster than those who do.

Toxic partners are another block to healing. It’s extremely difficult for family members to understand what the sick person is going through, and it’s a huge detriment to that person’s healing.

Likewise, when people harbor anger, blame others, get stuck and hung up on details, or have other forms of emotional distress, their healing becomes compromised.

Other impediments to healing include mold, yeast and other toxic chemicals in the environment.

Finally, people who aren’t on the Internet all of the time asking questions about Lyme disease and getting totally despondent when hearing stories about patients who kill their pastors, have an easier time healing!

The Role of Spirituality in Healing

I think that there’s a spiritual component to healing that really matters. People need to feel connected to something larger than themselves, whether that something is found within a formal religion or elsewhere. If there’s a way that those with Lyme can interface with the divine, such as through prayer or meditation, then this can make a positive difference for them in their healing journey.

How Finances Affect Healing

Lyme disease is sadly, a disease for the rich. That financial resources are directly related to one’s pace of improvement causes me more consternation in my treatment of Lyme patients than anything else. I can do ten thousand things under the sun for them, but if financial limitations are the main thrust of their stress, then it’s really hard to get them better. If they can’t pay for probiotics, for example, or some of the main detoxification supplements, then their healing becomes complicated. It’s difficult to admit, but it’s almost as if the wealthier patients are paving the way for the right protocols to emerge and get out there. Until a streamlined path to wellness becomes clearer, however, patients without financial resources will have a more difficult time getting better.

That said, I have some patients who, through the help of their friends, church, synagogue or family, have been able to make things happen for themselves, even when they thought that they couldn’t afford a particular treatment. They have done this by going beyond in their thinking. They tell themselves things like, “I am going to do this IV treatment and I’m not going to get stuck on the details about how it’s going to happen. I’m also not going to go bankrupt, or if I do, then I will refinance my house.” They find a way. So I believe that those who can completely prioritize this disease and the healing process, get better. Those who say things like, “I have $2,000 and if I don’t get better after I spend all of that, then I am going to kill myself,” surely won’t get better after spending that $2,000.

Mistakes in Treating Lyme and Less-Than-Beneficial Treatments

When health care practitioners only focus on treating co-infections, then that is a problem, as is excessively focusing on any one single aspect of healing. Having pre-defined cocktails for patients is also detrimental to their well being.

When it comes to specific treatments, I am concerned about non-frequency specific Rife machines, IV hydrogen peroxide, the salt/C protocol and colloidal silver IV’s. I think that while they have their place in healing Lyme disease, and I have seen some people improve by doing them, there may be problems with such treatments.

I am also cautious about the “latest, greatest treatments” that come down the pipeline. Over the past nine years, I have seen so many treatments that patients grab onto just because they are new, but few have long-term benefits. While it may be true that the trail-blazing practitioners are occasionally developing groundbreaking protocols, it is not prudent for those with Lyme to try every one as soon as it arrives. I believe that it would be more responsible for them to watch and wait for a year or so to see what complications arise and what benefits others receive as a result of such treatments. I saw problems arise with MMS and intracellular heat therapy, for instance, and do not want to be an agent of harm in a mad dash to get people well.

The Biggest Challenge for People with Lyme Disease

People with Lyme disease are generally really sick, and have been this way for a long time, but their families, doctors or friends sometimes don’t believe that they are unwell and their insurance companies often won’t pay for their care. As a result, they feel isolated, as if they have been living in a twilight zone, or are going crazy. So they develop mistrust of others, and even of themselves, and they start questioning whether they are legitimately sick. The second-guessing and this burden of guilt that people develop from being so pushed aside, is the number one most difficult aspect of having Lyme disease. But truly, people with Lyme are some of the sickest people on the planet, and treatment regimens are some of the most complex that I can imagine in medicine. I have had patients on up to fifty different medications and over one hundred and fifty herbs at different times during their treatment. Treatment regimens are so complex, but often, Lyme patients can’t even cognitively “get it together” enough to listen to instructions about what they need to do to get better. They aren’t healthy enough to manage their own care, but the only way to heal from Lyme disease is through a lot of self-management, so they are stuck in all these catch 22’s, and there are just a few ways out. So it can be very beneficial to have friends and family members who can help them through it all.

How Friends and Family Can Help the Sick

Friends and family of the sick should read Pamela Weintraub’s book, Cure Unknown, and watch the documentary, Under Our Skin. They should go to Lyme disease conferences on occasion and do research on Lyme. They should accompany their loved one to doctor’s appointments at least some of the time, and become highly informed about what this disease is about, and realize that it doesn’t just affect the patient, but the entire family.

One of the biggest problems with Lyme disease sufferers who have partners is that their libido is so low, or they hurt, so they don’t want to have physical contact with their healthy partner. People usually marry one another when they are healthy, and even though they make promises to be there for each other “in sickness and in health,” during times of sickness, the healthy spouse often gets “caregiver fatigue,” or becomes angry and frustrated at the partner who is sick. Partners need to be aware of this and seek counseling to deal with it, so that they don’t take these feelings out on their loved one, who is already suffering greatly as a result of illness. Family members and partners of Lyme sufferers need to realize that counseling is not only for the sick, but also for healthy people trying to stay healthy. That said, caregivers also need to take time off from care giving; spending occasional weekends or vacations alone can restore their capacity to help their loved one.

Finally, it’s important that parents of children with Lyme disease not make their child’s illness the overriding, defining characteristic of the family. Parents tend to become overwrought with stress when their kids get Lyme, but they need to remember that their kids have hopes, aspirations and desires outside of their illness. The kid is not just a sick person; there’s still a lot more to him or her than the illness. Of course, parents need to ask their children how they are feeling, and if they are hurt or tired, but they shouldn’t make the child’s illness the central defining characteristic of their relationship. They need to find a healthy balance in their conversations and attitudes toward their child, which can be difficult.

How Long Does It Take to Heal from Lyme Disease?

Most of my patients need treatment for anywhere from nine months to three years, if they do everything right. If they comply with their treatment regimens, then most of them should get 90% or more better.

Last Words

We are coming up with new treatments all of the time. There is hope for those with Lyme disease! If current technology hasn’t been able to figure it out, there are enough talented practitioners out there who care, who are researching and who are dedicated to their patients’ care, and for this reason, I believe that better answers will come, in time.

How to Contact Steven J. Harris, M.D.
Pacific Frontier Medical
570 Price, #200
Redwood City, CA 94063
(650) 474-2130

How to find doctors to test for Chronic Lyme Disease: http://www.chroniclymedisease.com/llmd-referrals

Always Hope