Can Mold and Lyme Cause Alzheimer’s?
When confronting cognitive impairment or to minimize its risk it is paramount to consider exposure to toxins such as mold and lyme. Today we are speaking with the expert who literally wrote the book on biotoxins and their affect on the human body.
Neil Nathan, MD has been practicing medicine for 48 years, and has been Board Certified in Family Practice and Pain Management and is a Founding Diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine and a Founding Diplomate of ISEAI [International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness]. He has been working to bring an awareness that mold toxicity is a major contributing factor for patients with chronic illness which led to the publication of his book, Mold and Mycotoxins: Current Evaluation and Treatment, 2016 and now to his most recent book Toxic: Heal Your Body from Mold Toxicity, Lyme Disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities and Chronic Environmental Illness.
His current medical practice is the Redwood Valley Clinic in Northern California. He can be contacted most easily through his website www.neilnathanmd.com , through which consultations are available.
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Robert Lufkin 0:00
Welcome back to the health longevity secret show and I’m your host Robert Lufkin. When confronting cognitive impairment or to minimize its risk, it is paramount to consider exposure to toxins such as mold and lime. Today we are speaking with the expert who literally wrote the book on biotoxins and their effect on the human body. Neil Nathan MD, has been practicing medicine for 48 years and has been board certified in family practice and pain management, and is a founding diplomat of the American Board of integrative holistic medicine and a founding diplomat of the International Society for environmentally acquired illness. He has been working to bring in awareness that mold toxicity is a major contributing factor for patients with chronic illnesses, which led to the publication of his book, mold and mycotoxins current evaluation and treatment. And now to his most recent book, toxic heal your body from mold toxicity Lyme disease, multiple chemical sensitivities and chronic environmental illness. His current medical practice is the redwood Valley clinic in Northern California, he can be contacted most easily through his website, www. Neil Nathan md.com, through which consultations are available. And now, Dr. Neil Nathan. Hey, Leo, welcome to the show.
Neil Nathan 1:30
Okay. Thanks, Rob. Pleasure to be here.
Robert Lufkin 1:33
I’m so excited to to get into this topic of complex chronic diseases and the relationship to Alzheimer’s and risk for Alzheimer’s disease. But before we do, maybe we could take a moment and tell us a little bit about how you came to be so interested in this fascinating area.
Neil Nathan 1:56
Okay, how much time do you have? I’ll try to give you the cliff notes version. I’m a board certified family physician and have been for my career. And early on in my career, I became very interested in alternatives to helping everything I felt that conventional medicine was great as far as it went, but I was missing things that could help patients. So I, I delved into an in depth study of Osteopathic manipulation and acupuncture and homeopathy, and if you name it, I probably studied it all to help patients improve when conventional treatment wasn’t enough. And that led me to become a specialist in pain management. Because many of my turret while many alternatives, were particularly helpful for people with chronic pain, to not just treat it with opiates, but to actually cure it by figuring out the cause of that pain and getting to the root of it. So in that capacity, I was running a regional pain center in Duluth, Minnesota, back in the 80s. And we began to see this odd creature, which was then called fibro situs, which we now call fibromyalgia, which was this real mishmash of pain that moved around, and cognitive difficulties and fatigue, and irritable bowel syndrome all rolled into one. And nobody quite know what to make of this critter. But we were seeing a lot of it. The original thought was that it was psychogenic, because nothing caused all of those symptoms. But when we treat it with medications and psychotherapy, it did nothing as patients. So it became clear that there was something had a physical cause we just didn’t know what it was yet. So that eventually led me to treat a lot of people with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. Looking at the biochemical underpinning, and we began to learn in the 90s, about adrenal deficiency, thyroid deficiency hormone deficiencies in the sex hormone category, magnesium deficiency, and then we began to learn about Lyme disease, and mold toxicity and dental issues and a whole host of very specific conditions that were the cause, apparently, of chronic fatigue and Fibromyalgia because when we treated them, patients got completely well. Now in conventional medicine, they were being told, we have nothing for you and we can’t do anything for you. But many of us, one of my colleagues, Jacob Teitelbaum, and I were working in this area very intensely. So that led Ultimately into this complicated field of complex pain, complex illness that basically had inflammation as the underlying cause with deficiencies in infections and toxins being a major player in causation. So that’s the cliffnotes version of how I came down this road.
Robert Lufkin 5:27
All right? Well, I love the fact that, you know, in your, your career, you started off in, in, in general primary practice and did surgery and different things, and you refuse to turn your back on the patients that so many of my colleagues are unable to help because they don’t fit into one of the standard standard columns. And I love I love the fact that you also are open minded to go outside of the standard orthodoxy of medical care and look at look at other alternatives, which have so much to offer us and you’ve, you’ve clearly use this to to its greatest advantage, and all the great things you’ve accomplished with, with defining these diseases and these these complex conditions.
Neil Nathan 6:23
Well, thanks. But actually, I don’t know if I need to take credit for it. I, I’m somewhat pathologically wired in that, I still hope that I could help every single patient who walks into my office, so that when I couldn’t, that led me out of curiosity to go well, well, what am I missing? What don’t I know, that could help this patient? And often the answer wasn’t in conventional medicine, which is still stuck in an old model of one cause equals disease. It’s much more complicated than that. And it becomes clear quickly, with the other component to me, personally, is I love solving problems. I don’t care how complicated they are. I never helped anybody by giving up on him. So it wasn’t, it wasn’t really a choice for me to give up on those patients by going here too complicated. I don’t know what’s going on, Have a nice life. It was, let’s study it together. Let’s dig into it. Let’s spend more time together. Let’s let me take a better history. Let me get more details. So that maybe there’s a clue in there that I haven’t heard yet. That will help me to understand how you came to be where you are right now and how I can help you. Yeah,
Robert Lufkin 7:51
it’s it’s amazing, this group of patients that with these chronic complex conditions that is that they’re they’re difficult to diagnose, they’re often mis diagnosed, they’re difficult to treat, and they’re they’re often mistreated or treated in incorrectly. What are some of the common underlying mechanisms for them? Or or the symptoms even you mentioned inflammation as a broad underlying cause? What are some of the other things?
Neil Nathan 8:21
Well, I think we’re all learning that inflammation is the underlying component for much chronic illness, maybe not all but a lot. And I think that’s becoming accepted, even in conventional medicine, that inflammation is a key component of causation, that has to be addressed. So then we look at what causes the body to become inflamed. And for most people, that answer lives in the category of toxins, and infections. It also lies in the category of genetic predisposition, which plays a bit of a role not as big as people often think it does. And what we call epigenetics, which is how our unique biochemistry meshes, with the stressors that are put on our body. And if we are lacking in nutrients, in minerals, and enzymes, and hormones, and all of the things that are critical for our bodies to operate optimally, then we are at risk for getting ill. And I would add to that, I believe that a key component to that because is the toxicity that we live in. And I don’t think that we have woken up to the importance of that. That we really have to be dealing with As a global nation, globally, this is this is key. We are dealing with epidemics of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and Lyme disease and mold toxicity and autism and cancer and heart disease. And we can keep going on here. neurodegenerative diseases, particularly, we never saw this, much of all of these illnesses. It’s very well documented statistically, that all these things have exploded in the last 50 years. And we have to ask, How did that happen? What are we looking at? What, what, how is our world different now than the world we had 50 years ago. And so the food we eat is much more deprived of nutrients than ever before, because our soils are depleted. But we’re growing, we can’t, we’re not getting the nutrition from it that we used to the heavy metal toxicity has increased. There are 80,000 chemicals in our environment. And now that we’re not there 15 years ago, and we have studied 500 of them in terms of their possible toxicity. So we’re woefully underprepared electromagnetic effects, EMF that we’re all exposed to exploded 50 years ago, minimal exposure. Now, every man woman and child in this country has a cell phone glued to their ear in a sitting in front of a computer, often all day long, massive amounts of emf exposure, which keeps increasing that we now have 5g as opposed to 4g, which is an incremental increase in our EMF exposure. So we have all of these as a background, and our bodies have not evolved to the place where we can deal with all these toxicities. And so what we’re seeing in terms of the people who are getting sick, I call them the canaries in the coal mine, that they’re the ones that will get sick the first, forgive me, I don’t want to be a bummer here. But we are all going to be at risk here in the upcoming years if we do not get a handle on the toxicity of our environment, and fix it. And we were running out of time to do that. So yeah, forgive me, forgive me. But I think this is such an important subject, that I don’t want to ignore it when we talk about causation for all of these things.
Robert Lufkin 12:42
Yeah, it’s such an important point. You mentioned in your book, by the way, which I which I mentioned in the introduction, but I’ll, I’ll show it here. Again, this is such a great book, I recommend it to everyone, it’s, it goes through all these things that we’re going to be talking about and more. But you do make the point about the growing number of toxins in our environment that are just not tested for this, that there is no process that that test for them, we think, oh, that that paint is safe for that food is safe. But the reality is, most most of the toxins aren’t even evaluated. And, and you mentioned the microorganisms, all the species of the pathogens that we’re dealing with. Most of them are many of them haven’t been tested either or developed diagnostic tests for it’s, it’s really remarkable. And you mentioned the importance of how we conceptualize a disease in other words, causation and what what the primary root cause of the disease is. And we, we a patient may have cognitive impairment as as a symptom, but underneath that can be many different things, including inflammation at its root. But if we just treat the inflammation, we’re going to be missing the causes of the inflammation down beneath that which as you’ve mentioned, can go all the way from toxins and bio toxins, heavy metal toxins, environmental toxins, to deficiencies that can that can cause that to dietary metabolic factors driving inflammation, and, and many different things. So even how we think about all timers disease or cognitive impairment, inflammation, the diseases it’s important to conceptualize things properly and properly and you’ve, you’ve done a great job with with these complex diseases and giving us a mental framework so that we can begin to conceptualize ways of treating with them, treating them and understanding kind of the the multi layers of causality that they have. It’s It’s beautiful work. Thank you. So the I’m, as a physician, a practicing physician, I still struggle with these these complex diseases and and your work is really eye opening on them. And I’m really looking forward to, to diving into these a little bit and in particularly for cognition and cognitive impairment, and which is the manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease. We talked a little bit before offline about how if the things we want to focus on the number one thing we’ll start with is, is mold disease? And maybe you could you could just take us through an introduction on that on what is mold and and how do we what are the symptoms? And how do we diagnose it? And then how do we treat it? Okay,
Neil Nathan 15:55
sure. I want to back up just for a moment here, because since part of the focus of this is Alzheimers disease, and to help people to understand that for many people, it is treatable, which is not the current medical model, but it is treatable, but as you’re, as we’re talking about, by understanding that it’s caused by inflammation, and if we can know what exactly is triggering that inflammation, then we can make some real progress. And I wanted to share that in the work that I’ve done over the years, the four areas that have been most helpful in treating to reverse symptoms of Alzheimer’s to get people who were really non functional, to being able to think much more clearly and to have their life back. Maybe even cure them, if you will, those four things for women, first of all, our hormone deficiencies, particularly estrogen and progesterone deficiency, in women who are of a certain age or have gone through the menopause, will become estrogen and progesterone deficient. And replacing that can make a fairly quick rapid change in cognition. We also have Lyme disease with his co infections. And we also have toxicity, particularly having toxicity, particularly mercury toxicity as a cause. And what we’re going to launch into right now is a mold toxicity, which, from my perspective, might be the most common of all of these exposures. It’s estimated that up to 10 million Americans have, at this moment, some degree of mold toxicity causing them symptoms. That’s a lot of people. That’s an epidemic, which puts the AIDS epidemic to shame. I mean, there’s tons of it, many of the buildings in our country, our molding. Now, the good news for some people, is that genetically, they’re not wired to be affected by mold. But we we believe that approximately 25% of all people are genetically inclined to be affected by mold toxin, and to get sick from it. So this is a big issue. And I’m hoping to bring it to the attention of our audience here, so that they can begin to think about, gosh, not only am I living in a moldy environment now, Do I smell mold? Do I see mold? Did I ever live in a moldy environment? Because the the tricky part of this is, if you have ever been exposed to mold, mold can actually start growing in you, particularly in the sinus and gut areas. And it can be making toxin ongoing, even if you’re not currently living in a moldy environment. So many people when we first start talking about that will say, Well, my house is brand new, it’s pristine. I know there’s no mold in great, but you have all the symptoms of mold toxicity, which we’ll talk about in a second. Gosh, could you have been exposed before? Oh, yeah. 10 years ago, I lived in a rental apartment which had obvious molding in the basement or in the shower, or you name it. So many people just aren’t aware of that exposure. And that’s, that’s key. So the symptoms of mold toxicity and what before we
Robert Lufkin 19:42
before we do that Neil is just on a genetic piece. Those 75% of people who make antibodies to the mold toxins, are they off the hook then? And they just have a less severe, less severe case. Is that right? Or Are they are the worst they they have the reaction to it from the antibodies?
Neil Nathan 20:04
No, there is there is predisposition. There is predisposition genetically. But if you are exposed to a heavy dose of mold, and its toxin, you can get sick regardless of your genetics. Okay, okay. exposure can overwhelm any system. So if you don’t have the genes that we think relate to it, and no way, Are you safe forever, at Not, not ever having mold as an issue, because it depends on how much you’re exposed to. and for how long. I mean, one of the things of COVID is that it’s put people in their homes for much longer times than usual, we’re seeing more mold toxicity now. Because people aren’t getting out of their homes, they’re not getting outside. So if there was a little bit of mold in their homes, they now have much more exposure to it than when they got out and went to work or, or went outside and took a walk or interacted with friends. So it’s, this is a direct consequence of having a being that the isolation that COVID has produced in the world that we live in right now. Wow.
Robert Lufkin 21:21
So So how do I know if I have mold? toxicity? What What can I look for? What should people be alert for?
Neil Nathan 21:28
Okay, so I’m going to give you a whole bunch of symptoms now. And keep in mind, you don’t have to have all of these. Some are based, again, on your genetics and your own unique biochemistry. But first of all, in the subject, we’re discussing, cognitively, mold is big, because one of the commonest things that mold does is it causes brain fog, difficulty with focus, memory concentration. And one particular thing somewhat unique to mold is what we call word to finding in which, you know, I know that word, but I’m just not coming up with it. So any, any aspect of cognitive impairment can definitely be caused by mold. It can also trigger emotional issues because it affects the limbic system, which is the part of the brain that regulates emotion and sensitivity. So you can get anxiety which has no set cause you’re not due for an IRS audit and your in laws aren’t coming for dinner. And yet, all of a sudden, I’m, I’m, I’m panicking. It came out of the blue, where did that come from? And it has to do with fluctuating levels of toxin in your body, which shifts and changes as we move as we move through the day. Okay. Depression, what we call depersonalization or derealization, which is where you don’t feel like you. Like I, I’m not me right now, I don’t know how to put words on it. Very specific symptoms. And then we have sensitivity to everything, potentially. Because the limbic system is involved here, sensitivity to light, sound, touch, chemicals, food EMF. So any degree of sensitivity tells us that okay, the mold toxicity has now triggered limbic dysfunction, and we’re off to the races in terms of getting ill. But headaches of every type, pain of every type, joint pain, muscle pain, muscle spasms, muscle twitching, sinus symptoms of every type, congestion, runny nose, sinus infections, which become chronic visual disturbances of every type, blurred vision, double vision, difficulty in translating what you see on the page, to understanding what you’re reading, which is literally a difficulty in reading. And we have respiratory difficulty, difficulty with things that look like asthma, wheezing, shortness of breath, what we call air hunger, in which you feel like you can’t get a deep breath. If we measure your breathing, it’s okay, but still feels like on the inside gets you’re not able to take a deep breath that we call that air hunger. palpitations, tachycardia, a arrhythmias every type of gastrointestinal intestinal difficulty, diarrhea, constipation, alternating diarrhea and constipation, abdominal pain, gas, bloating, indigestion numbness and tingling in different parts of the body? I don’t think I’ve covered at all. But I think that’s a pretty fair smorgasbord.
Robert Lufkin 25:13
Yeah, that’s Yeah, a huge, huge list. So I mean, it makes sense then if if a patient has cognitive impairment, and then with a constellation of other seemingly unrelated symptoms, or from the list you’re showing there, then then mold toxicity would be high on the list. How about a patient with just cognitive impairment? Do all cognitive impairment patients need to be screened for mold disease? Or? Or should they fail other treatments for cognitive impairment? What’s the thinking? Or if it’s if it’s just straightforward brain fog and memory issues? But But I don’t, you know, I don’t have gi I don’t have tingling, some of the other things. Could that be mold also? And if so, where should that be? How do we rule that out?
Neil Nathan 26:04
It could be the way I look at it. If you are developing, we know that cognitive impairment begins early. very subtly, it gets worse and worse and worse, as we get older, as we become more and more inflamed, if you will, more and more toxic. If we intervene early, we learned from Dr. Bredesen this work that we can do wonders in restoring people’s cognitive abilities to normal and delaying or completely preventing the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia or cognitive impairment. So what’s key here, I can’t emphasize that enough, is you have to get at it early. So you don’t want to get into the headspace of, well, I only have that one symptom, so I don’t think I’ll look at mold. If you did have mold, you want to fix it early. Because if it continues, at some point, it may be much less reversible. You want to catch it while it’s reversible. And there’s a window to work with. And nobody knows what that window is. For some people it might be 15 years, for some people might be two years. So if I have a patient with cognitive impairment, I’m going to look at mold. I’m going to look at Lyme, I’m going to look at their hormone balance. And I’m going to look at heavy metal toxicity. And Dr. Bredesen has laid out 36 plus other biochemical things that we can measure that we can fix to optimize brain function. And it’s not just brain function, by reducing inflammation in the body, the heart will be better, you’ll be much less risk for a stroke or a heart attack, everything will be at less risk, you’ll be less risk for an autoimmune disease. So going at this early is the only thing that makes sense to me. And I think that many patients go wow, I’m kind of okay. I don’t think I want to spend the money on this. I don’t want to take the time to do it. I’m okay for now. And I want to encourage patients, please don’t think that way. Because it’s absolutely in your best interest and that of your family to find out early, if you have treatable components and fix it.
Robert Lufkin 28:34
Yeah, absolutely. I want to second that too. And that’s that’s why there’s such a growing interest in Alzheimer’s prevention. Because the the growing consensus among experts now as you’ve just articulated is that by the time cognitive impairment sets in even mild cognitive impairment, you’re you’re actually late in the game they the conditions that brought it on may have existed for years, even a decade before the cognitive impairment hits. And, and just as you say, The earlier you begin treatment, the more successful these treatments are for for Alzheimer’s disease, these lifestyle changes that toxin removals and everything so so it seems like every patient, but by the time they get to cognitive impairment, they should talk about mold. First of all, they should rule out mold, mold disease and what what should they what should they do to do that? what’s what’s the test?
Neil Nathan 29:31
Well, I mean, here’s the good news. There are a couple of very simple urine tests. You don’t even have to have your blood drawn. You can collect a urine specimen and mail it to any of a couple of labs that do a very good job of checking it out. The lab that I think does the most comprehensive job is the real time lab, and they accept Medicare. So if you’re in a Medicare age, you can for free get This test that can really help you know, it’s quite accurate. Like all tests not perfectly accurate nothing is. I also like the Great Plains lab, which adds another dimension to that, although that one is not covered by Medicare. However, for relatively little money, you can learn. Absolutely. Is there mold in me? Because if there is mold toxin in your urine, genuine me, how did it get in your urine if it isn’t in here, so very straightforward and really quite accurate. So with that information, that’s a blueprint for how to treat it. Here’s the other good news, it’s treatable, we can get mold toxins out of the body. We know that specific mold toxins can be bound by specific materials, some of which are very inexpensive that you, the audience probably will knows things like activated charcoal bentonite clay, chlorella, a good probiotic, Saccharomyces boulardii, will bind most of the toxins we’re talking about. So it’s not hard to get going at binding these toxins and pulling them out of the body. If the mold has colonized, meaning, it is growing in the sinus or God areas, which it is for quite a few people, then we need to add prescription medications that are antifungal in nature. So it would be antifungal nasal sprays for the synthesis, antifungal oral materials for the gut. And again, that’s doable. So and again, if people are interested in my book, which you’ve referred to rob, called toxic, I literally lay this out for you as to what you need to do, and what kind of a physician you need to get hooked up with. Who knows how to do this, because many physicians are not even aware that mold toxicity exists. In the same way. Many physicians aren’t even aware that Lyme exists. So we’re still educating both physicians and the public about how prevalent these infections and toxins are. So you can be your own advocate. You can go I think there’s a chance I haven’t I want to be tested for it properly.
Robert Lufkin 32:31
Yeah, that’s so so important to get someone with expertise in the area because the medical profession and knowledge about this is very uneven, and even even experts in cognitive decline in neurology may not be familiar with it this area. So quick back to the testing the real time test, I guess quarter your book uses Eliza technology and then at least back then Great Plains was liquid chromatography and mass mass spectrometer roughy? Is it nest? Is it necessary to do both, or they are they pretty much the same thing, too, if you want to rule out mold.
Neil Nathan 33:11
I like getting both. Again, I, I somewhat specialize in treating mold. So it’s, it’s extremely helpful for me to get information from two different sources. Because as you said, the technologies of both of those labs are completely different. And they give me a good information combined, I have a really good picture of what’s going on. So I personally, really like getting both labs.
Robert Lufkin 33:40
Yeah. And and back to the expertise in the area. Certainly, you can only see so many patients yourself. But I understand you have a program of mentorship where you you actually work with other physicians who you are imparting your knowledge and wisdom about mold technology to them so interested members of our audience could contact your website for perhaps is that the best way for them to get through there if they want to find someone with mold expertise?
Neil Nathan 34:10
Sure, I’ll give you two resources for physicians. If you want to learn more, you can go to my website, which is simply Neil Nathan md.com. And learn about what we call the mentorship program. I’m currently mentoring about 150 physicians, and teaching them what I know, sharing with them what knowledge I’ve gained, and over the years for consumers. If you want to hook up with a physician, who I have trained, or who I have worked with so that I’m really comfortable with they know what they’re doing. Again, if you go to my website and look under the tab practitioners, I list physicians who I’ve trained, who are taking patients who are You can work with it be very comfortable that they really know what they’re doing.
Robert Lufkin 35:04
Great, great. Yeah. So, so that so with mold, we can run the test there is and we can detect it. And then there’s treatment that’s available in the in the, in the right hands. Mo mould can be cured in these in these patients. And the cognitive impairment usually usually goes away with the symptoms usually go away if the mold is effectively treated, is that correct?
Neil Nathan 35:32
Very much. So. For the vast majority of people that I have traded numbers, three or 4000, at this point, their cognitive impairment, which is a major component of mold, toxicity for most people, gets gets better if not cured. I mean, it’s particularly heartening. I’ve had quite a few young people who go off to college, and dorms, and college buildings are notoriously moldy, and they get sick. And so the point that they’re not able to function and so having, getting these young people, getting them from a place where they literally can’t function to being back in operating, and they have their whole lives again ahead of them with all of their faculties intact. It’s really heartwarming to be able to help young people to have a future again.
Robert Lufkin 36:28
Yeah, and that’s a that’s a great point about about not just testing for mold in the urine and waiting till you have cognitive impairment, but being suspicious of buildings and all that might have mold or, gosh, your kids going off to college, that kind of thing. So what testing is available for even further back before I go into a building, or what what should people look out for, so they can avoid exposure to these moldy environments and not getting mold in the first place?
Neil Nathan 37:01
Well, first of all, mold primarily starts to grow in water damaged buildings. Oh, mold requires moisture to grow. One of the hotbeds of where mold can grow is in sheetrock, which we’ve used in the building industry. Most homes in this country have sheetrock. The inside of sheetrock is paper that’s made out of bark. And there’s a lot of mold spores in bark. So inside of a wall, if there is damage to that area with with water, pipe leaking, h vac system getting moisture or condensing in that particular area of water heater leaks, leaking toilet, splash board behind behind the kitchen sink. If water gets in there, it makes the mold grow. And these mold spores start to grow with no natural enemies. So it’s not like the natural world in which for example, and I’m talking to you now from my home office, and I am looking out at the redwoods because I live in the redwoods. And right out in front of me, there are probably Oh 1000 species of mold sitting out there in the woods different kinds. And each mold species uses toxins to keep other molds out of its ecological space. So we’ve got the Rhododendron growing molds, and the redwood trees and the tan oaks and the azaleas. And every one of them has its own little ecological niche. And it makes toxins so that it keeps things kind of at bay. But if there’s no natural enemies to the particular mold inside of a wall, it starts growing, with no resistance whatsoever. But then it starts really putting out this and those spores will come through walls, any crack that don’t, you can barely see there’s a superhighway to a mold spore. They’ll just come pouring out into the room. You can’t see it, you may or may not be able to smell it. So for a consumer number one, if you have had a water leak, being really proactive and aggressive about getting it fixed. Do not let the landlord say, Oh, it’s trivial. Don’t worry about it’ll dry up and and you’ll be fine. No, no, no, no, you are you’re putting yourself at risk. So with any risk, it has to be aggressively remediated and dried up quickly, you’ve got about 72 hours to get that water dried up before you run into difficulty. So that’s key. If things have progressed, or you’re renting a house, and you have no idea whether there were water leaks in that place before, then you want to
do you see it? Do you smell it. And in this part, be aware that some people have a much more sensitive nose for mold than others. So my patients who tend to have limbic involvement and tend to have a much more intense ability to smell mold, if they smell it, don’t doubt it. So if you have several people in the room, someone who says, think it smells moldy in here, and the others are saying, I don’t smell it, listen to the one who can smell it, the other one is going to be right and don’t let someone else convince you. Just because someone else can smell it doesn’t mean they can smell it. So that’s important. If you really think you have more, let’s say you have a positive test on this urine test, and we know that there’s mold toxin in you, then we need to look in more detail in the house, I usually start by having the house checked by getting hold of some what we call mold plates, very simply their petri dishes that have a media on them that grow mold, and you simply take the petri dish, take the top off, put it on the floor, because that’s where the mold spores are, they’re heavier than air, they tend to fall to the bottom of the room, let the plate sit exposed to air for a couple of hours, put the plate back on and see what grows over four or five days. If nothing is growing, wonderful, you may not have a problem. But if you are growing mold, about 50% of the mold, species that grow on these plates are not toxic. Not a problem. But 50% are. So you need to have that mold plate evaluated by a lab that does that, to know whether or not that environment is at risk for you know, once and you can do a plate in every room of your house and a crawlspace in the basement, in the attic, in the garage, and really get a feel for what’s there. If there’s a particular room that’s growing mold, then you can have a specialist, figure out where is this coming from, so we can fix it. But, but that’s kind of the process, there’s a somewhat more accurate test called an Urmi test, er MMI. So a little bit more expensive, but involves vacuuming up the dust from a given room and submitting that dust to the laboratory, where they use PCR technology to measure the 36 most toxic mold species in that room that quantitative. So if you can already point to an error, you get an even more accurate essay. Is this exposure really bothering me as something I need to deal with?
Robert Lufkin 43:14
Yeah, yeah, wow. Well, it seems like mold is the is the largest factor in in these toxins contributing to cognitive impairment. And this further down the list, but still important, is another disease or group of diseases that, again, physicians are not that familiar with, and they’re just being educated on and that’s that. That’s the broad, the broad group of Lyme disease and all its associated infections. And I think we’ve we’ve heard a little bit about ticks and something like that, but maybe you could go through what this disease is and and how, how it manifests as cognitive impairment in these patients.
Neil Nathan 44:01
Sure. And again, I want to emphasize how prevalent This is, even though the medical profession hasn’t embraced it. 2013, the CDC admitted for the first time that there were 300,000 new cases of Lyme disease every year in this country. They bumped that up to 400,000 in 2018. So this is not rare. This is not occasional, again, serious epidemic. And Lyme disease is usually caused by a tick bite but not always. So it can be transmitted through mosquitoes. Biting flies, by nella which is a coinfection can be transmitted through fleas, to exposure to cats, particularly of cats biter, Scratch, because about 40% of cats have bartonella. So, although the focus has been on ticks, and many people say, Well, I’m not aware that I’ve ever been bitten by a tick, you may not. But know that in people who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease, only 17% are aware that they were bitten. So it can be very subtle, you could have been bitten, and then the tick fell off. And you never knew, you may never have gotten the classical Bullseye rash, which only occurs in about a third of patients. And for many people, there’s no specific rash or nothing at all. That tells you that you had a bite, that’s significant. So when it took bites you it’s a couple of phases to that, which is first, you took a touch of steer that sucks blood into its stomach, which is called a blood meal. And it sits there for a while, until it then injects that back into you. Which Dr. burrows Scotto, one of our alignment experts has long called it nature’s dirty needle, which is a way of saying it isn’t just a line that can be injected into you. It’s anything that’s in that tick stomach, which includes Lyme and what we call co infections, which will include bartonella be sooner or likea. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, chlamydia, mycoplasma, plasma, a wide variety of infectious things can be injected into you, at the same time that the lime Sparky is injected into. So that’s what we call Lyme disease. If you catch it early, it’s treatable. Unfortunate, unfortunately, the medical professional hasn’t quite understood how to treat it early, aggressively. So for most people, if they have a tick bite, they actually come in and they might come in with a tick actually still embedded in them, the ER doc will take the tick off, if you can send that tick in to the laboratory to get it evaluated. Every state health department will do that for you, you can just send them the tip, and they’ll test it. If there’s no line in the tick, you’re at virtually no risk. But if there’s lime in there, you might really want to get treated, so you don’t risk getting Lyme disease, which is really quite nasty. So if you come to the ER with a recent tick bite, standard medical treatment is to give 10 days or two weeks of doxycycline, which is the antibiotic we use most for that it’s the right antibiotic, but it’s not the right length of time. The reason is that many physicians don’t understand the natural history of Lyme disease, in which when you have this spare key in you, it is a very slow growing organism. And you might say, who cares? The reason that matters is that with any infection, all antibiotics work by killing the bacteria, while it is growing while it is in mitosis, while it is through its growth phase. So if you have a strep infection, multiple times an hour, it’s dividing and being killed by an antibiotic that we’re using for it. They have a very slow growing organism, like
bartonella, or Lyme disease, it will, it will grow literally, or divide once every three weeks. So if you want to really eradicate it, you have to give it for at least six weeks. So you’ll catch at least two growth cycles. If you only treat it for two weeks, you might not actually catch it in a growth cycle. And you might not actually be doing anything for it. I don’t think that’s appreciated or understood by many physicians that so for if you are a consumer or a patient, and you’re only being given two weeks of an antibiotic, find someone who will treat this adequately. So you’re not at risk of this turning into what we call chronic Lyme disease, which is similar in its symptoms to what we talked about with mold toxicity because although one is an infection and the other one is a toxin, both cause an inflammatory reaction that is very similar, giving similar symptoms at once that’s that’s an that is much harder to treat. Once the line has set up in your body, it has multiple mechanisms for tricking your immune system. into not attacking it properly. And it requires prolonged antibiotics and herbal treatment in order to eradicate it. Now it’s treatable. But it’s much more complicated. If you can avoid getting into that state. Absolutely. That’s the key.
Robert Lufkin 50:17
You mentioned earlier, when we were talking offline about the study showing that in in some patients and some patients brains with Alzheimer’s disease, there were actually the Spyro keys detected, which are not usual things, the brain is usually sterile and they’re not other organisms there was which is fascinating work.
Neil Nathan 50:39
Right? Right. That was the work of Dr. Ellen McDonald, who did some studies, which are actually quite frightening. Oh, a dozen years ago, he was able to get hold of 12 patient brains of people who had died of Alzheimer’s disease. And he’s a pathologist. So he used special stains to look for the possibility of the Spirit, Cape virilio, which is Lyme disease. In those patients, all of them had disparity. And so what he proposed this, we really need to study this more. And to my knowledge nobody ever has, even though that was brought to our attention years ago, I think people are afraid, honestly, to look at it. But fear should not change what we’re doing. If a significant percentage of people who have Alzheimer’s have that spare key, and it’s treatable, we’ve got to be trading it. So that highlights how important this may be for future research and for the effectiveness of treatment.
Robert Lufkin 51:46
Absolutely. So. So I have a patient of mine or a family member has cognitive impairment, we’ve, we’ve done the test for mold, we’ve ruled out mold disease, I don’t they don’t remember being bitten by a tick. But of course, that doesn’t exclude it. It could be from a mosquito, it could be any number of ways. So there’s no history to go along with it. What should they do to exclude Lyme disease and, and all the other infections that possibly have to to rule out that cause for cognitive impairment,
Neil Nathan 52:19
okay. Our testing for Lyme disease is not as good as we need it to be. It’s difficult to test for. So one of the reasons it’s difficult to test for it is the test we use our immune testing, we’re testing the immune system to see whether it has detected Lyme and the body and started to make antibodies to the line as it would any infection. here’s the kicker Lyme disease, the Lyme bacteria, weakens the immune system so that it can’t make antibodies as it normally would. So that the testing we’re using is inherently flawed, so that there was no perfect way currently to, to test for it. The best test we have our immune testing, the laboratory that does the best job by far is I genix, which does what is called an immunoblot, which is currently the best test on the market. There’s also a somewhat different technology in a lab in Minneapolis called efecto labs. But it’s again, it’s using immune markers to test for that’s the difficulty. We can start with that. If you are going to test for all of the other infections, it’s really quite expensive. And I start generally, because I don’t want to throw a difficult financial burden on someone I’d start at least with looking for line if lime is present, then we may also want to look for some of the CO infections and again those are difficult to detect for the same reasons their antibody tests and we’re dealing with a weakened immune system so that we’re not always going to get the immune response we need to know whether that’s actually happened.
Robert Lufkin 54:17
Yeah, yeah. These are definitely challenging challenging complex cases. In your book, you you you talk about an interesting phenomenon mast cell activation and and as as unlike an allergic reaction mast cell activation is you describe it as a general activation not in response necessarily to to an allergen specifically, is mast cell activation. Is that what occurs with Lyme disease and and, and mold toxicity and is that a manifestation of the inflammation?
Neil Nathan 54:55
Yes, yes. And yes. So both mold toxicity and Lyme disease, and some of the CO infections trigger. And I mentioned it before limbic dysfunction, it also triggers what we call vagal nerve dysfunction, the limbic system and the vagus nerve work together to monitor the body for safety. And if it’s not convinced you’re safe, it’s not going to allow you to heal and it will shut you down until it feels safe. And it triggers muscle activation, which work intimately with the vagus nerve and with the limbic system, to again, in a sense, monitor you for safety. When the limbic, I’m sorry, when the mast cells are activated, keep in mind that a lot of the mast cells are located, for example, in the gut, but they’re located all over the body. And if you wanted a list of the symptoms, that muscle activation, cause, look at the same list of symptoms, I can’t be for mold toxicity, and the same list that I gave you for Lyme disease, because again, it’s a inflammatory process triggered by the contents of the mast cells, which get released into the body and include over 200 different biochemical mediators that promote inflammation. So if the mast cells are activated, anything that goes down the GI tract, when you’re activated, can produce a reaction. Now, it may show up as flushing, itching, hives, shortness of breath, sinus congestion, abdominal pain, diarrhea, immediately after eating. And if it does, that’s a tip off. But it can also show up in other ways. So again, people who are working in this field need to be inclusive, and they’re thinking, because of muscle activation was a piece of the puzzle, it has to be treated early on, to quiet that down, so that the body can move forward by taking what it needs to take to get well.
Robert Lufkin 57:19
And, and also, I guess it mast cell activation, being able to recognize that is an important diagnostic piece to fit in with maybe cognitive impairment and mast cell activation that will point you to these these bio toxins in particular that might otherwise not or skip over.
Neil Nathan 57:37
Correct, some people will get cognitive issues immediately after eating. And that’s not a food allergy, necessarily, but it can be. But it also is a manifestation of mast cell activation, which fluctuates. For example, with mold toxicity. As mold toxin levels fluctuate in the body. So does mast cell activation. So patients will often say, it’s weird, I eat this particular food one day, and I react to it, I eat the same food the next day. Nothing. That’s classical mast cell activation. And the key is that reaction to that food is immediate within 20 or 30 minutes of eating that food even faster. That’s not allergy. That’s mast cell activation.
Robert Lufkin 58:29
Fascinating. There’s, there’s one other area I’d love to love to touch on here and sort of following up on mast cell activation is is a fascinating part of your book. I think that that you reference some articles by Dr. Robert novo, also who wrote the introduction to your book, but it’s the cell danger response. What is that?
Neil Nathan 58:54
Okay, great. That’s a good segue because what we’ve been talking about is a kind of a unified way to understand the cause of illness, which is inflammation, and what’s triggering it. So Dr. Navajo, in 2013, put together a brilliant model of how virtually all chronic illness can be viewed from a comprehensive unified field theory way of looking at it. And the basic concept is on a cellular level. If a cell feels it is the mitochondria of that cell, it’s literally we think of the mitochondria as the organelles, the little things inside the cell that make energy for us. And they do and they’re very important. there’s not as much of that those organelles are literally the sense organs of the cell and they are monitoring that cell for safety. So if they experience a threat to the cell, the primary has come as toxins, infections or stress, they experience it on a cellular level as a voltage drop in the cell. And what the cell does to protect itself is it shuts itself down. And it goes through this almost biochemical dance of what it does in order to shut itself down. So it intentionally shuts down methylation, for example, to prevent a virus from replicating itself by hijacking the cells. Chemistry, the virus can’t methylate and can’t reproduce itself, unless it hijacks our biochemistry to do so. So we shut that down, that’s intentional. We shut down mitochondrial function, it says, the cell essentially walls itself off, it is kind of committing her and carry in an effort to contain the toxin will continue to contain the infectious agent. And at the same time, it shoots out ATP molecules that warn all the neighboring cells, Danger, danger danger. With an acute event, which is what it’s intended for acute exposure to a toxin, or acute viral infection. After a while, the body takes care of it. And it’s no longer infected, it’s no longer toxic, and it goes back. So it sends the old clear signal, both on a cellular level and a total organismic level so that we’re fine, we’re good, we’re going to go back to business as usual, we’re going to heal now. But if the toxin remains, if the infection becomes chronic, if the stress becomes chronic, the cell doesn’t turn that off, it’s still in the air or danger, danger, and will stay that way. until it is convinced this is not psychological, it has to be convinced at a cellular level that the toxins have been cleared, the infection has been taken care of. And it’s safe, the stress has been dealt with. So it points us to looking in depth at stress, toxins and infections as the primary cause of virtually all chronic illness. And it’s a blueprint for how to treat it, which tells us Okay, I need to go with this disorder. As you, as you’ve said, Rob, this is complicated treatment. And you need to know what to treat and what order. And what the cell danger response teaches us is, the first order of business is this cell can’t heal, this whole body can’t heal, unless we take care of the toxin unless we take care of the infection. And we take care of the stress. So if you are a functional medicine doctor, don’t go looking for obscure little things that need to be fixed. If there’s a Selenium deficiency, the body can’t respond to that. When it’s in survival state, it might need it, but it can’t use it. So you have to focus your initial efforts of treatment at the infection, the toxin and the stress. And that’s what’s beautiful about Dr. navios theory. And for everyone, every physician really needs to be reading Dr. navios work because it’s a brilliant way to understand the entire biochemical underpinning of chronic illness. And it’s a roadmap of how to fix it.
Robert Lufkin 1:03:51
Your book, you have a beautiful chart, referencing Dr. navios work that describing sort of a binary pattern of summer and winter where the summer was increased inflammation and Tor activation, food, different things like that, whereas the B winter pattern, the other side of the switch was m tours turned down and P kinase is turned up. It’s ketones instead of glucose. inflammation is dialed way down. So the the cell danger response, if I understand it correctly, would correspond to that. That winter pattern. I’m sorry, this summer pattern turned on all the time with chronic inflammation with mTOR activation and glucose stimulation, all those things and toxins as well. Is that right?
Neil Nathan 1:04:47
Yes. Yes. So, I mean, basically it’s referring to, from time immemorial, we have lived at a biochemical balance that used to Two different biochemical programs based on our access to food. So in the summer, when when food was plentiful, we ate a great deal. And we may have gained weight. And in the winter when food was less plentiful, we basically restructured our bodies during that time we reworked it, we took all that growth pattern and put it into a different form. And that was how we have lived for millennia. But now, we live in a different universe. Before we had only access to certain foods in summer, and certain foods in winter, now, you can eat strawberries, any any month of the year, coming from every part of the world that you want, we have no deficiency of that. And so we’re living in a constant growth phase without the restructuring phase that we’ve always had. And so that’s a huge part of why 60% of us are obese, because we no longer have our natural biochemical patterns in operations. So what you’re referring to is trying to get that winter structure going, which can be done by fasting, for example, including intermittent fasting, which is becoming increasingly popular. And there’s a couple of other intriguing new concepts about maybe how to do this.
Robert Lufkin 1:06:30
Yeah, yeah. What I love about this space is is this this theme is coming back about the the master switch between m tour and MP kinase of winter, summer as you describe it, whether we’re talking about Alzheimer’s disease, or toxins, or heart disease, or cancer, or even longevity, the the, the universal experiments that are most effective for longevity are calorie restriction, which basically puts us into the winter mode. The intermittent fasting does the same thing. And the most powerful longevity drug now that’s being tested, it’s being started to be tested in humans is a drug that suppresses mtorr that turns off the summer mode and which of course is rapid mice and mtorr of course is the mechanistic target of rapamycin which is the protein that was named after rapamycin but it’s fascinating. rapamycin is it works all the way from yeast, all the way to mammals, the effects on longevity in in mice, it’s shown a 30% increase in lifespan which experts have commented that if that 30% improvement were applied to humans it would be the equivalent of curing all cancers 10 times over the benefit of lifespan. So back back to the rapamycin question and it will be interesting to see if people are talking about using rapamycin not only for longevity, but also for for fibrotic heart disease, age related ejection fraction problems it cures that and dogs reverses that age related blindness, visual acuity loss in mice. It also does be fascinating. I wonder if these chronic inflammatory conditions associated with biotoxins you’re talking about that rapid Meissen have might have a role to play.
Neil Nathan 1:08:37
It might we kind of talked this about this a little earlier before we went on air. And as you’re talking, I’m realizing that you know one of Dr. navios findings Is that the one of the things that occur as an integral part of the cell danger response is the release of what are called purinergic materials like ATP, the energy source of the body. It’s a signaling molecule at that particular point rather than an energy molecule, it changes its function in the body. And what he has found is that if you block the purinergic receptors with a drug called suramin is has some fabulous published studies on autism showing profound reversal of autism using suramin as a purinergic receptor blocker, which I think could do something similar to what you’re talking about rapamycin, rapamycin, correct Ha, ha, however and I as we’re thinking about this as we’re just thinking out loud here. Dr. Navajo has been very clear and I know people don’t want to hear it. They want to know There’s a, there’s a magical drug that will fix this without me working out of this card. But until the cell danger response is quieted down, sermon won’t work. And I suspect that rapamycin won’t work until it’s quite a down because that’s the body, the cell. However the unit you want to look at, it has to be able to respond to that stimulus and not be in survival mode. If it’s still struggling with an infection or a toxin, then it’s still going. That’s very nice, but I can’t your user now. So I think I think that if we understand that, and do the studies at the time it correctly. So in all of the patients that we’re going to study, for rapamycin, for example, if we looked for mold, toxicity and infections, and cleared them, and then use rapid Meissen, I suspect you would have a far better outcome than if you globally use the for everyone who is very sick, and just see what happens. If you do the latter, I think you’re going to get a mixed bag of answers like a few people respond to it, but maybe not everybody does. And you’re going to be confused as to why does it work for one person and not another? And I think the answer will be in readiness to respond.
Robert Lufkin 1:11:27
Yeah, yeah. And that goes back to the hierarchy of causality for the disease, like we talked about, they may have the cognitive impairment at the top, and then down below is a layer of inflammation. But ultimately, it’s called by caused by mold toxins. And if you, if you go in and apply rapamycin to decrease the inflammation, you’re still going to have the mold toxins, and it’s, it’s gonna be less effective, you need to treat the primary root cause and then and then move up like that. So I totally, totally agree with you. But it’s such a fascinating area, there’s so many, what an exciting time to be in medicine, there’s so many great things happening now. I wish I could go back to medical school. I don’t. It was funny, when I was a medical student back decades ago, one of the things that was happening was the former chairman of Internal Medicine had just turned 65. And what he did was he stepped down from internal medicine, but he entered the freshman year medical class and then went through four years of medical school. And I’m sure it annoyed a lot of Internal Medicine attendings going through, but he went through the experience. And then he wrote a book on how medical school had changed in the, you know, decades since he originally when he said just an interesting idea. But this has been so much fun, Neil today. How can I tell us again, your website so that people who are listening can can access it? And how can they reach you on social media and follow the great work you’re doing?
Neil Nathan 1:13:16
I don’t do much on social media. My website is simply Neil Nathan md.com. And they can find out what I’m doing podcasts or lecturing. If people are interested, I’m not taking patients at this point. I’m, I’m purely working as a consultant. So if we can hook you up with someone who knows what they’re doing, and you want me to consult with them, I’m happy to do so i doing a lot of that these days. And patient perspective person can email us at ask Dr. email@example.com. And that information is on the website if people need to cross references. So I I really like helping people in any way I can. At this stage of my career. I think I can help more people by teaching than is kind of like teaching people to fish, rather than giving them a fish. I have practiced for just about 50 years. So I it’s time to just import what I’ve learned.
Robert Lufkin 1:14:28
Wow, that’s great. And we’ll put those links down in the show notes also for people who have access to those but thanks. Thanks again, Neil. It was so much fun getting to know you this hour and also hearing about all the all the beautiful work you’re doing.
Neil Nathan 1:14:43
Thank you very much for Thanks for having me.
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