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In this episode, you will learn about the vector-borne infection Bartonella.
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About My Guest
My guest for this episode is Dr. Brian Plante. Brian Plante, ND is a licensed naturopathic doctor with extensive training in integrative healthcare approaches. He specializes in working with patients suffering from complex immune dysfunction such as Lyme disease, chronic viral infections, environmental toxicity (such as from mold and heavy metals), autoimmune disease, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. Additionally, Dr. Plante helps patients recover from functional gastrointestinal conditions, adrenal and thyroid disorders, and neuropsychiatric disorders. With each patient Dr. Plante meets, he conducts a comprehensive evaluation in order to get a complete picture and then creates individualized treatment plans to address that patient’s specific concerns. Dr. Plante is a graduate of the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, OR, as well as a member of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS). He believes that one integral step in helping patients heal from complex chronic illness is by empowering them with knowledge and understanding. He facilitates this by patiently taking however much time is needed to investigate a patient’s symptoms and concerns thoroughly. Through compassionate listening, thoughtful instruction, and a steadfast commitment to helping patients experience lasting, positive change, Dr. Plante can combat the frustration patients often experience in their struggle to find answers. His goal with every patient with whom he interacts is to provide support and guidance in their journey toward achieving optimal health.
- What symptoms provide clues for the potential of Bartonella?
- Could Bartonella be an explanation for many neuropsychiatric conditions?
- Might Bartonella play a role in SIBO?
- What are the vectors through which Bartonella may be acquired?
- What labs are useful for exploring the potential presence of Bartonella?
- How often does mold exposure play a role in Bartonella patients?
- Can Bartonella be a trigger for MCAS?
- Can Bartonella be a driver of autoimmunity and immune dysregulation?
- Might Bartonella play a role in hypermobility syndromes and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
- What role does Bartonella play in Morgellons?
- What is the foundation for treating Bartonella?
- What modalities can be helpful for terrain optimization?
- What role do nutritional IVs play in Bartonella treatment?
- Are antibiotics necessary in treating Bartonella?
- What herbs may be helpful for addressing Bartonella?
- How might oxidative therapies such as ozone, EBOO, and ozone plasmapheresis be used?
- How often do biofilms need to be addressed?
- What antimicrobial and immune-modulating peptides have a role?
- Can Bartonella be fully eradicated?
- Once a patient has recovered, can treatment be stopped? Or is there a maintenance strategy for longer-term support?
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May 3, 2022
Transcript Disclaimer: Transcripts are intended to provide optimized access to information contained in the podcast. They are not a full replacement for the discussion. Timestamps are provided to facilitate finding portions of the conversation. Errors and omissions may be present as the transcript is not created by someone familiar with the topics being discussed. Please Contact Me with any corrections.
[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts, empowering your better health. And now, here's Scott, your Better Health Guy.
The content of this show is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health related decisions with your own personal medical authority.
[00:00:35] SCOTT: Hello, everyone and welcome to episode number 165 of the BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts series. Today's guest is Dr. Brian Plante, and the topic of the show is Bartonella. Dr. Brian Plante is a licensed naturopathic doctor with extensive training and integrative healthcare approaches. He specializes in working with patients suffering from complex immune dysfunction such as Lyme disease, chronic viral infections, environmental toxicity, such as mold and heavy metals, autoimmune disease, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis.
Additionally, Dr. Plante helps patients recover from functional gastrointestinal conditions, adrenal and thyroid disorders and neuropsychiatric disorders. With each patient Dr. Plante meets, he conducts a comprehensive evaluation in order to get a complete picture and then creates individualized treatment plans to address that patient's specific concerns.
Dr. Plante is a graduate of the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Oregon, as well as a member of the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. He believes that one integral step in helping patients heal from complex chronic illness is empowering them with knowledge and understanding. He facilitates this by patiently taking however much time is needed to investigate a patient's symptoms and concerns thoroughly.
Through compassionate listening, thoughtful instruction, and a steadfast commitment to helping patients experience lasting positive change, Dr. Plante can combat the frustration patients often experience in their struggle to find answers. His goal with every patient with whom he interacts is to provide support and guidance in their journey toward achieving optimal health.
And now, my interview with Dr. Brian Plante.
[00:02:30] SCOTT: Bartonella is arguably the most challenging issue in the treatment of Lyme and coinfections, or in Bartonella and coinfections, as we'll talk about. I'm super excited today to have Dr. Brian Plante on the podcast to share his experience with us. Thanks for being here, Dr. Plante.
[00:02:47] DR. PLANTE: Thanks so much for having me. Super excited.
[00:02:49] SCOTT: Talk to us about the life path or journey that led you to doing the work that you do today. Did you have a personal health journey that drew you to working with these complex chronic conditions?
[00:03:01] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. So as a naturopathic doctor, I've always been interested in how there are many determinants of health; physically, psychologically, spiritually, environmentally. And so that was always kind of in the background. But when I was at school, there wasn't a lot of training that we got in Lyme disease, and complex immune disorders, and mold toxicity.
I got Mono in my second year of med school, and it really threw a wrench in things. I had a doctor at the time say, “You might want to think about taking a leave of absence.” I did not do that. It may have been a good idea to do that. But I was battling EBV for years. And still, to some extent have to keep a leg up on it with some of the tools that we'll talk about today. I also think that I had mold exposure that wasn't identified at the time. I was seeing a lot of acupuncturists, and they were like, “Oh, there's something in your diet. There's some kind of toxin.” But I was living in the Pacific Northwest where it was damp for most of the year, and I had an apartment backed up to a forest. And I kept the windows open a lot. So I think I had mold exposure in that.
And so part of it was just kind of trying to be my own detective and make sense of why is this virus so difficult to kind of get a leg up on. And then also trying to make sense of some of my brain quirks. I'm a highly sensitive person. Definitely not neurotypical. And so more sensitive to stimuli and social interactions and stuff.
And so, what I found when I was in residency and started working, being exposed to a lot of folks who take for an illness and chronic illnesses that I felt like I understood what it felt like. Even though I didn't have Lyme, it was like, “Okay, I understand that fatigue thing.” And I also understand the brain component of like, “Oh, these lights are super bright.” Even in my clinic now, I'll be like, “Hey, are you okay with this lighting? Or like should we dim this lighting?” And they're like, “Yeah, how do you know? Like, that's perfect.” Like, “Well, I got my blue blockers right here.” So I think I feel kind of a bit of an affinity neurologically to folks who are struggling with these inflammatory conditions.
[00:05:06] SCOTT: I like the term brain quirks. Definitely can relate to some of those myself. So let's start off by talking about some of the key symptoms that you observe in your patients that kind of clue you into the potential for Bartonella. We know there's never one thing in chronic illness that's really kind of the one driver. But how does a patient where Bartonella is maybe dominant or a primary issue? How do they present in your office? And what are some of the distinguishing characteristics that you see?
[00:05:35] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. There is so much overlap between Bartonella symptoms and the symptoms of other tick-borne infections. And so things like fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain, headaches, GI dysregulation doesn't always point us in the clear direction of which infection may be dominant or even persistent. Although, certainly, all of those could be present. Any or all of those could be present in Bartonella.
When I'm really saying we need to evaluate for Bartonella here is when there is neuropsychiatric manifestations, particularly with no other clear cause. If someone tells me they had anxiety or depression their entire life, I'm not as interested as if they say, “Ever since whatever, a particular point in time, maybe there was a known insect or animal bite, maybe not, I feel really anxious for no reason, or I'm so irritable, or having episodes of where I just feel like I can't control my anger.”
Schizophrenia has been associated with Bartonella. I see a lot of mast cell activation syndrome, which we're going to talk about a little later. And dysautonomia, which is kind of an umbrella term for dysregulation of the autonomic nervous system. And that often shows up as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It can show up as temperature dysregulation. A lot of times we'll see people with hypermobility issues. And some of that can be genetic. But Bartonella does, in fact, the extracellular matrix and can affect collagen remodeling among other tissues that can also infect/affect.
But a lot of times, it's like you pick up on these subtle patterns, you're like, “Okay, there's some foot pain from vascular inflammation. There's anxiety and irritability.” They seem very sensitive to antimicrobials. Like they're having significant die-off. And a lot of it looks like neuropsych. And there's some dysautonomia. That's when I'm really thinking, “We need to look for Bartonella if we haven't already.” And then I'm asking all our relevant kind of vector exposure questions.
[00:07:29] SCOTT: It's interesting that Bartonella creates so many neuropsychiatric symptoms in addition to the physical symptoms. And I'm wondering, do you think that Bartonella could be an explanation for many conditions that conventional medicine considers psychiatric in nature?
[00:07:45] DR. PLANTE: Absolutely. So I think that the future of psychiatry might be a bold statement. But I think the future of psychiatry is understanding the immune system. We know that the GI – The gut-brain microbiome axis is huge when it comes to neuropsych conditions and how severely they present. I remember reading just this anecdotal article when I was in medical school about a patient who had failed multiple antidepressants, and was given a probiotic, and their depression went away.
And so we see – And that's one example, that the inflammation at the gut barrier is a huge factor. And there's a lot of infectious organisms, particularly these low-abundance vector-borne infections that can infect the nervous system. Or by infecting other tissues cause more of a systemic inflammatory reaction that can affect the brain.
We do have some – Associated some data that shows associations with schizophrenia. And then it's particularly anxiety and depression as well. And neurodegenerative diseases have also been implicated. They found Borrelia Lyme in the brains of folks with dementia. And so, I think it's only a matter of time until we have a clear mapping of the role of low-abundance vector-borne infections in psychiatric disease. But I do suspect we're going to see more and more of that. And we do see a lot of people get better when we treat that.
[00:09:06] SCOTT: Yeah, I would totally agree. I've collaborated with a few people over the years that were in the mental health field that then had their own vector-borne condition journey, and then really struggled to kind of go back to the way that they thought about the work they were doing previously, because they had a totally different perspective on what could be driving a lot of these conditions. So I agree with you. I think it's an area that really needs a lot more exploration.
One of the other symptoms that some people will talk about is what looks like stretch marks. Some people call them Bartonella tracks. Some people call them striae or striae. Do you see those resolving with treatment? Or is it something that even after the infection has been largely treated, no longer producing other symptoms that those signs may still persist?
[00:09:53] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. That's a great one. I've only seen that in a fraction of the folks that I work with that have Bartonella. And when you see it, it's very distinct. That kind of looks like tongues of fire or like a comet, where there's like a red tip and then it kind of fades. And you'll often see them in a series. In the majority of cases that I've treated, I do see those resolve usually fairly early on.
In many cases, they're considered to be diagnostic. Like you see them in the context of symptoms and you're like, “Okay, we should still run labs. But let's get treatment started right away.” I've even seen that go away with Azithromycin within a couple of weeks. And so, most of the cases that I work with that's resolved, there are many instances where we don't even see the tracks show up.
[00:10:39] SCOTT: I want to talk a little bit about SIBO. And so one of my observations over the years is that, in SIBO, Rifaximin is one of the commonly used medications. Xifaxan is another name for it. Rifampin, commonly used in the treatment of Bartonella. So I'm wondering if you think that Bartonella could be a contributor to SIBO. And wondering if Bartonella may have some gut or GI manifestations as well. Could that be impacting, let's say, the vagus nerve? Impacting the migrating motor complex? Increasing the potential for SIBO? Any thoughts on a potential correlation between Bartonella and SIBO?
[00:11:17] DR. PLANTE: Yes. So I've seen it a number of times. What's interesting is I've seen it a number of times where we're treating SIBO as the tip of the iceberg. But we don't know that fully. Like we're doing Rifaximin. We're doing herbs. We're doing motility agents. They're getting some improvement, and then we stop Rifaximin, and they relapse. And there's been a number of instances where I found mycotoxins in cases like that. And I've also found vector-borne infections, including Bartonella.
And there does appear to be a dysmotility component, likely through the vagus nerve. Bartonella and other vector-borne infections can infect the gut as well. And primarily, the vasculature. And so if we think, “Okay, if the blood vessel cells, particularly the endothelial cells, are being infected, and there's an inflammatory reaction happening there, that's going to affect blood flow to potentially everywhere in the body.”
And so if you add that to neuropsychiatric distress, that's kind of a recipe for reduced blood flow to the gut. Or put another way, instead of the rest and digest branch of the nervous system, you have more of the fight or flight. And so blood is going away from the gut. So you have less digestion. You have dysmotility. And then of course, there's the immune dysregulation component, which we'll talk a little bit more about. That Bartonella will actually secrete anti-inflammatory cytokines to try to suppress, which seems paradoxical, right? You would think inflammatory. But actually, anti-inflammatory, because it wants to remain undetected.
And so we're dysregulating the gut immune system. We're dysregulating blood flow to the gut. And we're dysregulating the nerve function that regulates the gut. A lot of times we're going to see that show up as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, or small intestinal fungal overgrowth. A lot of times, both.
And so if I'm treating a SIBO case, or a SIFO case, and we're just not getting anywhere, and we start treating tick-borne infections, I do often see that get better. And it's kind of cool, because they're like, “Oh, wow! The Azithromycin, which you wouldn't have thought of as being a SIBO drug, or methylene blue, even sometimes Doxy,” which, although, tetracyclines are sometimes used for SIBO, we can see some improvement.
[00:13:23] SCOTT: And it's interesting, too, that you brought in the mold and mycotoxin piece. I know Ann Corson of course and talks about this all the time. Neil Nathan does as well. Dr. Corson will say that mycotoxins, in terms of their impact to the gut, are like throwing sparks on a silk scarf. And so, I think it's really important, as you pointed out, to think about that as well. That environmental exposure externally might actually be part of why we have this internal microbiome imbalance as well.
We know that there are many vectors for Bartonella. Tick bite is not necessarily required. So what are some of the vectors that you see in your patients? And do you think that Bartonella could be transmitted in pregnancy, potentially via breastfeeding or even sexual transmission?
[00:14:05] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. Great question. That’s not answer yes. That’s a multistep question. So, vector. This is what's so fascinating about zoonotic or vector-borne infections, is like we're just at the beginning as a medical community, and as a research community, in terms of identifying all of the different species of organisms that can be transmitted. And then what are their vectors? And so, Bartonella kind of came on the scene as a tick-borne coinfection of Lyme. Because a lot of times we were saying, “Well, why are some of these Lyme cases not responding to anti-Borrelia antibiotics? “Oh, well, there's Babesia, or Bartonella, or potentially others as well.”
But the reality is ticks are still kind of considered debatable in terms of whether or not they're actually a vector of Bartonella. Now, clinically, we see that, that it appears to be there's been sampling of ticks in the Bay Area and testing their microbiomes for Bartonella. And they've found it in a large percentage. I suspect that it is a tick-borne infection. But fleas are actually the most common vector.
And what's interesting is actually how they transmit it. You would think when the fleas are biting you that it would go through their saliva, but they actually have – They will defecate on to the skin. And it's in the feces. And then that will burrow into the skin, get into the blood vessels, infect the red blood cells on the endothelium. And then it's kind of off to the races at that point.
And so, fleabites, most commonly from cats or even dogs as well, will harbor different species. There're at least 20 species that we know can infect humans, potentially more. But current diagnostic testing is really only looking at a few of them. And so we're still in the process of figuring out just how relatively abundant are these infections in our environment. But fleabites, also lice. The research, more body lice than head lice. Although, I don't think it's out of the question that head lice could be a potential route of transmission. Biting flies. People ask me all the time about mosquitoes? I'm just not sure. I think it's really hard to identify that for sure. I think the Babesia, there's a little bit more stock in that because it's like malaria, and often present similar.
I'm always asking about pets. So it's like, “Do you have a cat? Did you ever have a cat? Do you have dogs? Do they sleep in your bed with you? How much did it like your face? Any bites or scratches that you remember?” And sometimes people will say, “Well, I never had pets, but I got a major dog bite when I was four-years-old. And I’ve been struggling with chronic issues since then.” Or something like that.
And so, animal – And then farm animals, too, sometimes. Like people – I've seen it in folks who work with horses a lot, and ride horses. And that may have been through a tick bite, or a fly bite, or a flea bite. But it may have been through direct contact with the animal as well.
In terms of pregnancy, I think the jury is still out on this one. My suspicion and what I see clinically is a lot of families that have tick-borne infection. We know, for sure, that Lyme can be transmitted transplacentally, from mother to fetus. I've seen it with the Babesia a number of times. And there have been instances where I suspect that's been the case with Bartonella, as well. And we will have lab testing for both the parent and the child, the mother and the child. And we often will find – I'd say, I've seen it a few times.
In terms of through breast milk or sexually, that's where I think it's a lot harder to say definitively, because we don't have solid research data on this in the literature right now. But it's one of the things that I'm always considering. How far along is mom in treatment when she's lactating? Are we doing maintenance support that's going to be safe during lactation?
In terms of sexual transmission, I've seen so many spouses both with Lyme. With Bartonella, I've seen it a little bit less. So it may be occurring. I don't know if we're able to say definitively that this is a sexually-transmitted infection.
[00:17:56] SCOTT: Many people think of Bartonella as a coinfection of Lyme or Borrelia. It seems that Bartonella is probably far more challenging to address than Borrelia. So I'm wondering if you see Bartonella as a coinfection of Lyme. Or do you see Borrelia as a co infection of Bartonella? Which one do you think is really the kingpin in this situation?
[00:18:18] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. So I think there can be variation in this from person to person. But the effects of Bartonella and Babesia on the immune system, and I'll talk about that in just a second, seem to be so dysregulated, that it's a lot harder to treat Lyme than it would be in somebody who only has Lyme.
So I've been saying this for a year or so now that I really think that Bartonella and Babesia are the primary players. And that Borrelia is kind of the tip of the iceberg. And it's one of the easier ones to detect. And one of the relatively more straightforward ones to treat just because people have been treating it for a lot longer, like doctors. So we have more knowledge about what's helpful for that.
So what do we mean about why is Bartonella potentially the main player? It's that it both passively evades the immune system by hiding out in tissues that are hard for immune cells to get to. It's a notorious biofilm former. Biofilm is this kind of protective matrix that bacteria create to shield themselves off from the immune system and create a more hospitable environment for them and for other microbes. And then also is involved in these fibrin nests, which are these networks of basically clotting proteins that form intravascularly. And they form these like – They almost look like encampments when you're looking at it under a microscope. Babesia does this as well.
There's some research, early research, that’s suggesting that Babesia and Bartonella are synergistically involved in this nest formation. So there's more of a resistance factor in terms of being able to get at it from an immune and antimicrobial standpoint. You got to break through those nests, you got to break through that biofilm.
Borrelia, Lyme, can be a biofilm former as well, and there can be persister forms, but not to the same extent. At least not that we're seeing clinically. There's some relatively newer data that does suggest that Bartonella can also be in a persister form, which basically means it's less susceptible to antibiotics, and you need to use slightly different tools or different antibiotics. So there's that component of it. It's harder for the immune system and for anti-microbials to get to. And then there's a kind of active immune evasion, where it secretes anti-inflammatory cytokines that turn down a Th1 or antimicrobial immune response. And we'll talk a little bit more about that when it comes to Th2, and Th17, and Treg. But there's often kind of a pseudo-immune tolerance type dynamic where the infection is trying to remain undetected. We think about this in animals, and how this would be adaptive for the organism to remain undetected by the host’s immune system so that they can survive long enough for their offspring to get picked up by the next biting insect and carry it on.
And so, when we, the accidental host, get exposed, there's all this immune signaling that starts going on. And that's part of why we see it as a precursor to Bartonella as a precursor to autoimmunity, or allergy syndromes as well. I think we're going to find that it's a much bigger player than we previously thought.
[00:21:22] SCOTT: Yeah. I think Bartonella and Babesia are far more symptom-producing and far more challenging to treat than Borrelia. So I share your observations there. Like Borrelia, like the Babesia, Bartonella can be really difficult to confirm with lab testing. So I'm wondering if you can walk us through some of the key labs that you find useful in diagnosing Bartonella? And are there some cases where you look at symptoms and you can't get that lab confirmation? So you decide that you just empirically proceed with treatment to see what type of a response that person may have?
[00:21:56] DR. PLANTE: Yes, so both of those. At this stage in my practice, although this is an ever-evolving process, I'm using primarily IGeneX and Galaxy Diagnostics. From a cost standpoint, I found IGeneX ImmunoBlot, the Bartonella IgM and IgG ImmunoBlot, which is essentially just a refined Western Blot, to be reliable, in addition to getting a symptom questionnaire and thorough analysis of kind of vector exposure history. I will also run Galaxy Diagnostics. I really liked their IFA, because it quantifies their IgG immunoassay, immunofluorescent assay, because it quantifies the amount of antibodies. And so it's a serial dilution.
And so if you're like, “Okay, IgG is positive, but IgM is not positive on IGeneX, is this still an active infection? Or is this just antibody production related to past exposure?” If you run the Galaxy IFA, you're going to see – If that titer is really high, and it's correlating with symptoms, I'm expecting that we're going to see that that organism is still active.
Of course, Galaxy is also doing some really exciting cutting-edge work with culture enrichment, PCR, and the droplet digital PCR. I haven't done a ton of it mostly just from a cost standpoint. But it's certainly exciting. And that is what's being used. My understanding is that's what they're using when they're involved in research studies that Galaxy is partnering with. I don't want to speak on behalf of them. But I know that that's one of those things that we're using more and more as a community, as the vector-borne infection community is trying to really pinpoint what treatments are effective. And how do we track changes in active infection?
TLabs is also doing some really exciting stuff for TLab in terms of microscopy and fluorescence. I haven't started using them yet. But they're still kind of research purposes only. But I know that there are clinicians that are using that just to inform the process of evaluation. And that's if you see it under a microscope, you know it's there, because you're seeing it. But the absence of it doesn't necessarily rule out active infection.
So there is always kind of – and ILADS still defines these as clinical, not laboratory diagnoses. So I always disclose that to patients, because they're going to be spending a lot of money on testing. They’re going to be spending money on treatment. I want them to know that we're assembling – I call it the landscape puzzle. It's a puzzle. Maybe it's the Grand Canyon, or a rainforest. And some of those puzzle pieces are going to come from your symptoms. Some of those puzzle pieces are going to come from your history. And some of those pieces are going to come from labs. And some of them are going to come from your response to treatment.
And so we are working together over a couple of months, at least initially, just to gather all those pieces and make sense of what are these obstacles to your health? What are the infections present? What are their toxins present? Where do we need to really kind of dial things? And so that's really my approach to Bartonella as well.
[00:24:50] SCOTT: When we have these chronic infections like Borrelia, like Bartonella, like the Babesia, why is it that some people become ill or have a disease process but other people are completely symptom-free? What are the factors that differentiate the group that never noticed they have an infection from those that develop years, or decades, or lifelong health challenges in some cases?
[00:25:13] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. So I think this is the million-dollar question in chronic disease and in the future of medicine, integrative medicine, but just medicine in general, which is the return to more of a terrain theory, rather than the germ is what's causing the illness in everybody. Instead, there's a dysregulation in the terrain or the ecology of our physiology.
One of the things I love about being a naturopathic doctor is we were kind of taught that very early on. The more I do medicine, the more I get exposed to different conventional and more targeted approaches. And then I keep finding, though, clinically, that I'm coming back to that pattern of, “Wait a minute. You and your husband both have Lyme and are both living in this moldy apartment. He's totally fine. You're sick. What's going on?”
And so there's genetic factors, there's lifetime exposure factors. Maybe she grew up on a farm that had chemical runoff, or maybe was exposed to tick bites earlier in life that he wasn't exposed to. So there's that exposure history difference. There is the stress component to it. So, trauma, PTSD, limbic activation, all those things can affect the way that our brain and our immune system communicate with each other. And that can affect how somebody responds to treatment.
I think the folks that are the sickest right now with chronic inflammatory illness are the canaries in the coal mine and are going to bring our attention both medically and as a society to the fact that we're not really living in a harmonious relationship with the natural world. We've got to deal with microplastics. We've got to deal with hundreds of foreign molecules to our physiology that were developed over the course of the last 100 or so years.
And at least in the West, our microbiome diversity is lower than it's ever been. And diversity of microbes is associated with the robustness of our immune system in terms of being able to buffer against outside stressors and promote immune tolerance to things like foods and airborne potential allergens, things like that.
And so our immune systems, like, they evolved to be dealing with a lot of ongoing outside stressors that we would experience, say, if we’re like living in the woods our whole life. And so now that we're in these kind of hyper-hygienic environments, and then are also exposed to all these xenobiotics, or foreign molecules, coupled with the things I've mentioned, there's a lot of stuff stressing our immune system.
So I think the sign of the times is different immune stress than we've ever had to deal with in our evolutionary history. And so some people that are genetically susceptible, that had in utero inflammatory exposures, and then all the other things I just mentioned, seem to be more inclined to be showing the signs and symptoms of the chronic inflammatory illnesses that I think many of us are going to ultimately end up with if we continue to have the exposures that were exposed to.
So I know that's kind of a heavy thing to think about. But I think this is a wake-up call. And the more doctors and the more patients to talk about these conditions, the more attention I think we're going to put to why are some folks more sick than others? And ultimately, what can we control in our environment to promote health across the board? COVID is another thing that's bringing our attention to that as well.
[00:28:31] SCOTT: Talk to us about the idea that Bartonella may produce a toxin. What is the purpose of that toxin? And can it be removed independently of antimicrobial strategies? How do we deal with this toxin? Or how does it shift some of the treatment approaches, if at all?
[00:28:48] DR. PLANTE: So I love this question, because I went down the research rabbit hole with this one. I wasn't able to find anything in the literature suggesting an exotoxin, or a secreted Shiga toxin or something like that that some of these other organisms make that produce a severe acute inflammatory response.
It is a gram-negative bacterium. So it does produce lipopolysaccharide, which is also known as endotoxin, which is a part of the cell membrane that in most infections does stimulate an inflammatory response. And when it gets into the bloodstream can stimulate a significant inflammatory response.
What's very interesting about Bartonella, and kind of dovetails on what we talked about before with immune dysregulation, particularly Bartonella Quintana, their LPS actually stimulates the production of IL-10, which is an anti-inflammatory cytokine, that was shown in the research to actually block out LPS induction of inflammation by E. Coli. And so it does have an endotoxin. But it has a bit of an immune dysregulating or anti-inflammatory endotoxin. At least what I was able to find with Quintana. Not sure about some of the other species. And be very curious to hear if you've heard from others that are seeing more, either endotoxin or exotoxin reactions. But I found that interesting, because a lot of times we are seeing Bartonella show up in more of a dysregulated immune type activity than over inflammatory type activity, at least early on.
[00:30:16] SCOTT: Is there anything unique that you do then to help the body deal with lipopolysaccharides? Like, that's an issue even beyond Bartonella. But does that change anything?
[00:30:27] DR. PLANTE: Well, a lot of times folks with leaky gut or gut permeability have issues with LPS antibody production, because there's a lot of LPS in the E. coli which are part of our normal flora. A lot of gram-negative bacteria in our gut. And so when you have a lot of extra LPS floating around in the bloodstream, it can be inflammatory.
And so Bartonella LPS, not so much. But just thinking about LPS in general, supporting gut barrier function. I use a lot of anti-inflammatory supplements, because, honestly, I think two things cause chronic illness; stress and inflammation. And there's all sorts of different kinds of stress and all sorts of kinds of inflammation. But a lot of anti-inflammatories that aren't immune suppressive are usually helpful. So there's that.
And then if there was mentioned in the past from me about Bartonella toxins, I may have been referring to some of the metabolic waste materials that microbes dump when you start killing them and disrupting their cell walls and their cell membranes, also known as facilitating a Herxheimer reaction, or die off symptoms. And there's a lot of things that we do to kind of help manage that.
[00:31:29] SCOTT: So digging in a bit more to the contributor of mold and mycotoxins to immune dysregulation, to chronic infections, how often do you see someone with Bartonella and Lyme-related issues that does not have some degree of mold exposure or mycotoxin burden as part of the puzzle? And if someone is dealing with environmental mold and Bartonella, in what order would you then approach treatment?
[00:31:54] DR. PLANTE: Yeah, so in the vast majority of cases, I do see at least some mycotoxin component. So I'm working with a few patients now who are in the process of moving out of their home to a newer home that, hopefully, fingers crossed, has less mold. And that we did find mold than the previous home. We did see elevated urine mycotoxins being excreted. And then we also found a lot of – One or more vector-borne infections and even opportunistic viral infections.
The traditional, or I should say the dominant, I should say, school of thought, is to treat the mold first. Because mold dysregulates the immune system. Mycotoxins tend to dis regulate the immune system by blunting the Th1 one blunting the productive antimicrobial activity of the immune system, and over expressing the Th17 or less productive inflammatory cycle pipe, as well as allergy type components of the immune system as well. If there's mast cell activation, then that's a whole another story, and we will talk about that.
But generally speaking, we want to get the mycotoxins to a more manageable level before we start treating infections. What I found is that this isn't always black and white. I wouldn't say we won't do anything for Lyme and Bartonella until we've gotten all the mold out. Not everybody may agree with me. But in a lot of cases, I found starting the antibiotics, as long as you have some degree of antifungal protection, if you're suspecting colonization with mold, whether that's an in statin, pulsing, one of the Azole antifungals, or just herbs. I use a lot of herbs, because they have antibacterial and antifungal – Many herbs will have both antibacterial and antifungal activities. So you get some coverage there. But the main idea is if micro toxicity is really dominating the picture, we want to get that to a more manageable degree. They'll be able to tolerate Bartonella treatment a lot better with less die-off symptoms, and it'll be more effective
[00:33:45] SCOTT: With what we've seen in the past couple of years with COVID, I'm wondering how that's impacted the landscape of the people you're treating? Are you seeing more Bartonella, more Borrelia, or maybe activation of chronic viruses like EBV? So is the immune dysregulation from COVID leading to activation of some of these things that may have been dormant in the body or controlled by the immune system prior to having COVID, for example?
[00:34:10] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. So it was interesting, because I joined the BioReset Medical team probably about 9, 10 months ago. And so, there were, of course, changes in the COVID landscape since my last clinic and where I am now. And so at my previous clinic, a lot of the folks that I was working with vector-borne infections knew that they had them, or we diagnose them, but they hadn't yet gotten COVID. And so, a lot of our conversations were around how do we prevent outside of the box of what the CDC is recommending? How do we prevent COVID? How do we mitigate long haul COVID in the couple of instances that we're seeing? And we did tend to see it a little bit more in folks with previous infections and toxins.
At BioReset, we see a lot of people who previously thought they were healthy. They're like, “I was fine until I got COVID. And now I have long haul symptoms. And the threat of my immune system is kind of coming undone.” We also saw a lot of folks have reactions to the COVID vaccine, which is quite interesting. Because, previously, the last clinic I was working with folks who were being treated for infections, we were really working on their immune system. A lot of them got vaccinated and were totally fine.
So I think whether it was the vaccine, or the or the virus, or both, it was the straw – In many folks, it was the straw that broke the camel's back. Or I use the analogy a lot of the supersaturated solution, because I was a chemistry major and I'm kind of a chemistry nerd. That's where you have all this crystallized solute dissolved in liquid. And it's to the point where you can't add any more solute to that liquid. Or it's going to come out of solution. But you look at the solution, it looks totally clear. You add that extra speck of solute, and all of a sudden everything crystallizes out. And it doesn't really matter how much more liquid you add to it. It won't go back into solution.
We're finding a lot of vector-borne infections, and a lot of mycotoxicity, and a lot of chronic viral infections in folks with long haul COVID that never knew they had them. So there was something about the additional insult, whether that's the immune dysregulation caused by COVID, the persistence of the virus, or the persistence of viral fragments that are continuing to activate the immune system. We're still flushing that out. Although there does seem to be some emerging evidence that suggests that it may be at least a chronic infection, if not some of those other pieces as well, COVID, which is quite interesting. So the short answer is yes.
And what we're finding right now is that the best approach to treatment – And I’m very open to this being incorrect in the future. But our best approach to treatment is to identify and treat those underlying immune stressors. There are a lot of talks on, “Okay, what's the miracle thing that can treat long haul COVID? How would we use antivirals that have targeted effectiveness against COVID, or seem to be having effectiveness against COVID, to then treat long haul COVID?” But in many cases, it's treating the mold and the other infections and regulating the inflammatory milieu that we're seeing the best improvement in terms of long haul COVID.
[00:37:05] SCOTT: Let's talk a bit about mast cell activation syndrome, about the cell danger response, about dysautonomias. Do you think that Bartonella could be the sole trigger or primary trigger for mast cell activation, Cell Danger Response, dysautonomias, like POTS. Do you see mast cell activation when it's just Lyme? Do you see it with just mold? Or is it fairly common that Bartonella needs to be part of that picture?
[00:37:31] DR. PLANTE: So, earlier in my career, I started to notice some – Or in my career in treating these infections, I started to notice some patterns, which were I very rarely saw mast cell activation syndrome in Lyme disease alone. I did see it in mold toxicity alone. And I did see it in Bartonella Alone. Very commonly, it would be some kind of combination of that. So mold and Lyme, Lyme and Bart, Bart and mold.
But I remember being very surprised at how many times I saw it in what seemed like Bartonella alone. Now, we didn't always go down the rabbit hole, at least initially, in terms of toxic metal testing. And there's the possibility that they were slow excreters in terms of urinary mycotoxins. Not to mention some of the controversy around lab methodologies in terms of testing mycotoxins. And so could they have had mold and Bartonella and that's why they developed MCAS and we just didn't find the mold? Yeah, it's possible. So is purely anecdotal.
But I have seen what has seemed like Bartonella being the primary driver of the overactive mast cell or Th2 type response. And a lot of times those are folks who also have dysautonomia. Many folks have said that dysautonomia and mast cell activation syndrome are two sides of the same coin. There are a lot of factors that can contribute to dysautonomia. But the mast cell degranulation of histamine and other inflammatory mediators, on the ends of autonomic neurons, can dysregulate their signaling and often shows up as POTS, or dysautonomia, attempt dysregulation, that kind of things. And so, sometimes mast cell – A lot of times mast cell stabilizers will help with dysautonomia symptoms. When there's dysautonomia, there can also be hypermobility.
[00:39:19] SCOTT: Digging in a bit more to Cell Danger Response, Dr. Naviaux’s work, do you commonly observe that people that are kind of stuck in that protective CDR1 state can move on to CDR2, and CDR3, and ultimately out of that cell danger response with treatment of Bartonella?
[00:39:37] DR. PLANTE: In my experience, yes. But if you go slow, I think folks that are really in that cell danger – And I'm still getting to be familiar with Dr. Naviaux work and kind of the nuances of the different stages of the cell danger response and how best to manage that. What it seems like is if they're stuck in that, at least initially, we don't want to do too much to stir the pot, because the body is working really hard to maintain homeostasis.
And so the art of antimicrobial treatment and detox treatment is going slow and tracking the responsiveness of the body. And a lot of times there's a limbic activation component as well. So I'm usually getting folks on either the DNRS or the Gupta program to help reset the limbic system. There may need to be mast cell stabilization support. Although I don't suspect the CDR is always due to MCAS. But it's something that I'm thinking about. And then it's just like, “Okay, we're drop dosing herbs. I'm just getting into the beyond balanced formulas now. And I'm liking them because they're tolerable, but still helpful. And so I'm not going to be giving somebody high doses of Rifampin or Cryptolepis right out of the gate if I suspect that there's an overactive Cell Danger Response.
[00:40:50] SCOTT: We know that mast cell activation is an indication of Th2 dominance. Same arena where we see auto immunity, allergy, asthma, those types of things. So With digging further into this T cell polarization arena where Th1 is blunted, Th2 is often heightened, what are some of the contributors to Th2 dominance that can then lead to autoimmunity? Th1 being diminished, can lead to the persistence of these chronic infections? Where do you think Bartonella fits in terms of being a driver for autoimmunity? And then more broadly, how much of the symptom picture is the bug, versus the immune response, or host response to the bug?
[00:41:28] DR. PLANTE: So what's really interesting is some of the newer research around autoimmunity is showing more and more Th17 activity, which is a distinct branch of the immune system that's involved in perpetuating inflammation. And we might think, “Well, that's got to always be bad, right?” Not always. We think about calling in reinforcements. For some reason, I’m just keeping this Lord of the Rings image in my mind of like the Th1 is leading the attack. And then that scene in The Two Towers when – It's been a few years since I've seen it. But when the reinforcements come right at the end, right? When all hope is lost. That's kind of the Th17.
So under a healthy environment, that Th17 will just be an extra bump for the immune system to do what it needs to do, and then it's time to go home. Treg or Th2 kicks in and is anti-inflammatory and says, “Okay, we can pack up our bags and we can kind of calm down.”
With autoimmunity, we see an overexpression of Th17. An under expression over time in a lot of autoimmune diseases, although, not all of them, of Th1. And a loss of immune tolerance, or a loss of that T-regulatory anti-inflammatory T cell component. And so there's a lot of dynamics and there's a lot of folks that are really kind of on the frontier of how these immune system things play out. We need more of a Th1 response, in a lot of these cases. We also need more of a Th3, or T-regulatory, anti-inflammatory. So it's like how do we both treat the infections with Th1 that are causing the dysregulation of Th2 and Th17, while at the same time promoting self-tolerance through that Treg so that your immune system doesn't keep attacking itself.
There's a variety of ways in which Bartonella does is primarily through the cytokine production, both that the organism itself makes and that the immune system makes in response to the organism. And a lot of these are Th2 cytokines, which tend to facilitate mast cell activation. Not as a syndrome, but just as a process. And then just the dysregulation of the immune system that can happen with other insults tends to prime those mast cells to be more and more responsive to less and less of an actual threat. It's kind of like folks have referred to it as PTSD of the immune system is what mast cell activation syndrome is.
And I love that analogy, because a lot of times there's significant anxiety and significant nervous system hypervigilance, sensory sensitivity, all that that goes along with it. And so when I say it like that, they're like, “Oh, that's so validating. My immune system and my brain are in this relationship that everything is a threat.”
And so, circling back to kind of those components of the question, there are mechanisms that directly facilitated Th2 two response. The fact that Th1 is actively blunted I think is part of why Th17 says, “We need to pick up the slack.” And by trying to perpetuate a relatively weak antimicrobial attack, there's a loss of self-tolerance. And there's also a molecular mimicry. There's a variety of mechanisms involved in autoimmunity. Collateral damage, like when you disrupt a cell, especially when there's an intracellular infection, you have T cells that break, that lyse that cell. You're going to have self-proteins get disseminated. And those are going to be picked up by antigen presenting cells and prime others T cells. And so that kind of is what initiates the autoimmune cascade.
But in most cases, the best approach to treatment is going to be to calm down that autoimmune process and then kind of go back and identify and treat what are those underlying triggers that cause the immune disruption and cause this perpetual offensive move to be going in the first place.
[00:45:10] SCOTT: More and more I see people struggling with hypermobility syndromes, Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, even things like Cranial Cervical Instability, or CCI. I'm wondering what you think the role of Bartonella is in those conditions? And how do you un-layer the factors that are stressing a person's collagen, their structural integrity? What can you do to support structural integrity in people with these conditions?
[00:45:35] DR. PLANTE: I think that it plays a role. Bartonella does cause collagen remodeling. I don't think that in the majority of – And this is fairly anecdotal. But I don't think that the majority of cases of Ehlers-Danlos are caused by Bartonella. There is definitely a hereditary component. I just had a great consult with somebody earlier this week who we did a very thorough infectious disease, environmental exposure screen, and there wasn't anything clear. Now we're still going to do some testing. But it was like, “Hmm. What's going on here?” Because there's symptoms of mast cell activation syndrome, and EDS, and fibromyalgia and all that kind of stuff. Turns out, many folks in that person's family have EDS, and many of them have the atopic triad of asthma, allergies and eczema, or some variant of that.
And so for this particular individual, it may not be an infectious cause. Although we're certainly going to look for infectious aggravators. But there seems to be more of a hereditary component here. Although I'm still suspicious that maybe there's early life exposure of something that we're not recalling, or injured, or exposure of that. And so, I think there are many mechanisms at play here.
The biggest thing, especially from kind of a naturopathic standpoint, is identifying and treating anything that could potentially be aggravating a predisposed system. And so, sure, okay, somebody has hypermobility. They may always have hypermobility. What can we do to manage that? Regenerative injection therapies might be helpful in terms of strengthening connective tissue, collagen, supportive nutrients. So I'm a big fan of Designs for Health Arthroben, which is collagen that has Scutellaria. It has baicalin in it, from Chinese skullcap, which is antiviral and anti-inflammatory.
I haven't seen that in and of itself be like a miracle. But in the context of kind of everything, nutrient cofactors, minerals, lysine, we use a lot of peptides. GHK is connective tissue supporting. There's a lot we can do that can kind of support connective tissue in and of itself as well as trying to treat these underlying inflammatory triggers that are involved in collagen remodeling.
[00:47:43] SCOTT: And the Chinese skullcap is interesting, too. I think that's one of maybe two herbs that are thought to have some potential role in the Cell Danger Response, in that while they don't address all of the receptors, like Suramin might, that they do have some anti- purinergic properties as well. So it seems like Chinese skullcap is getting a lot more attention in recent years in this realm.
Many people have made a connection between Bartonella and Morgellons, or maybe better said some people, because there probably aren't many people that really actually acknowledged that condition. But what I've heard over the years from people like Dr. Ginger Savely, is that things that work for Morgellons are often those things that are treating Bartonella. And so I'm wondering if you've worked with many Morgellons patients? And if so, do you find that treating Bartonella or using things that might support Bartonella can improve the quality of life in the Morgellons population?
[00:47:28] DR. PLANTE: Yes, I suspect so. I've worked with a few with Morgellons. And I've found Bartonella present in all of those cases. And I did see improvement with macrolide antibiotics, like Azithromycin or Clarithromycin. There often is a parasitic component. So I see Ivermectin being very helpful. There's some evidence to suggest Ivermectin can be helpful for Bartonella as well. And so there's this question of, “Okay, well, what are we actually treating?” And I almost always see a mold component in Morgellons.
The way I think about Morgellons is – And I love what Dr. Savely is doing, and others in this field as well. But the way I think about it is this like mold, severe, severe untreated mold, and vector-borne infection that's been present for quite some time and hasn’t probably been treated. And oftentimes, I'll see hepatitis.
I know, Dr. Savely has mentioned this as well. I've seen Hep C a couple of times in a patient either knew they had or didn't know they had. And so there appears to be this poly microbial component, coupled with just not being treated. And so I remember this one patient I had a few years ago, and I was like, “Tell me about –” Like, he was in his 60s. And I was like, “Tell me about your early life exposure to mold.” He was like, “Oh, it was so bad that nobody should have been living in that house.”
And I've done consults with folks on the phone that they're like, “I'm seeing things coming out of my skin.” And I'm like, “Tell me about if you're living in mold.” And they're like, “Actually, I was just evicted from my place because how bad the mold was.” Or maybe evicted isn't the right word. But like, so bad. And so, there's almost always that that I've seen. And then there is that responsiveness to Bartonella treatment.
[00:50:16] SCOTT: Let's talk a little bit then about treatment strategy. So do you start with antimicrobials? Or are there some foundational things that you do first to set the stage for treatment?
[00:50:26] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. So the immune dysregulation piece is so critical. I put a lot of attention to that, as well as initial detox. And so if there is toxicity present, that kind of goes without saying. But we want to address that. I put a lot of emphasis on what I call anti-inflammatory buffering. Those are going to be things that support the Treg response.
And then more recently, I've been doing a little bit more to also support the Th1 response. That comes from the work of Dr. Yanuck, talking about how there's often a blunted Th1 response when we have an overactive Th17 response. So I love that.
And so there are a lot of things that both support Th1 and are anti-inflammatory. The bioflavonoids, luteolin, baicalin, those kinds of things. And so, anti-inflammatory support until things are a little bit more manageable. So I use a lot of fish oil. I use a lot of high potency. I use a lot of D and K in combination. I use a lot of curcumin. I use a lot of bioflavonoids. I've been excited about aronia lately, which is a berry. You can add it to a smoothie. You can add it to an oatmeal. I put it in my oatmeal every day. It's really high in bioflavonoids, which are those dark-colored proanthocyanidins, and polyphenols, and things that are basically scavengers and free radicals. Those are going to be vascularly protective, which is important in Bartonella. They're going to be neurologically protective, and can also sometimes facilitate, at least quercetin can, gut barrier integrity.
And so working on the gut, kind of normalizing the inflammatory response. Supporting the antimicrobial branch of the inflammatory response, then adding the anti-microbials, whether those are herbs, antibiotics, or both. And we're tailoring that to the individual. I'm happy to talk more about those nitty-gritty pieces. But I think setting that stage makes treatment a lot more tolerable, and ultimately a lot more effective.
[00:52:10] SCOTT: So what are some of those things that you're finding them that are supporting the Treg, the Th3 side of that immune modulation?
[00:52:18] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. So many of the things that I had just mentioned, like fish oil, vitamin D, curcumin, a lot of times I'll find adrenal dysregulation on lab testing, as well as vitamin D deficiency. And so I consider those to be in the realm of the complexity of what we're talking about, like super, super easy, low-hanging fruit. Like, “Oh, your cortisol is low. You have HPA axis dysregulation.” Colloquially referred to as adrenal fatigue. And your vitamin D is like 16. So we get that up.
And I’ll often do like vitamin D injection, 50,000 IU once a week for like four to eight weeks depending on their levels, in addition to D3 and K2 orally every day. And I find that gets things up quick. I know there's a lot of different ways to do vitamin D dosing. But getting vitamin D regulated, the adrenal regulation piece is critical. I'll use a combination of adrenal glandulars or HPA Axis regulating herbs, including licorice, and a lot of times low dose hydrocortisone, or Cortef.
Interestingly enough, in autoimmunity, sometimes people will have high cortisol on testing. But when you give them Cortef to reduce the inflammation, their cortisol will actually normalize. So there appears to be a bit of a regulating effect there. I’ll also use low dose naltrexone. I have found that to not be the most effective when we're primarily dealing with infections, and inflammation due to multiple systemic infectious disease syndrome. Where I see it being the most helpful is when somebody has obvious autoimmune disease. They've been diagnosed with RA. They've been diagnosed with Crohn's, Sjogren’s. In all those cases, I'll try to get them started on LDN. That's a compounded medication. I'll titrate that up as tolerated while we're working on these other pieces. We do a lot of IV nutritional therapy. I'll talk about that as well.
[00:54:07] SCOTT: What are some of the tools that you find are helpful in the terrain optimization or detoxification drainage? Are there specific things that you like to do in that realm for opening the channels of elimination? The emunctories? Do you use binders? What are your thoughts?
[00:54:23] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. So if anybody heard the Mold and Mycotoxins Summit just of – What was it? Last week, or the week before? I did a talk on constipation and the importance of having regular bowel movements when it comes to eliminating detoxification. So one, I tend to see a lot of constipation in folks with either micro toxicity or Bartonella infection because of the things that we had talked about earlier today.
In Natural Medicine, we call them the emunctories. So that's going to be the liver, gallbladder, colon system. We eliminate things that way. The urinary system. The skin. The lymphatics, and the respiratory system, because we actually breathe out with toxic waste, including carbon dioxide. And so supporting those is going to be foundational. There are a lot of herbs that support kidney function, that support liver function, milk thistle, Oregon grape, parsley, and like other diuretic herbs. There are many formulas, including beyond balanced formulas, that can be helpful for that. Stimulating sweating is huge. So whether that's sauna, exercise, if they can tolerate it. Epsom salt baths are probably the cheapest that I'll have folks do, assuming that they can tolerate some of the vasodilation that occurs with the heat and with the magnesium. But even just starting small, like I want you to just barely break a sweat, and then that's all you're going to do today. And you're going to do that just a couple of times a week until we get you to a point where you can sweat more. Hydration is critical. So oral hydration – You'll see here, I'm drinking Ultima Replenisher.
[00:55:52] SCOTT: Hey, that’s what I got in my glass, too.
[00:55:54] DR. PLANTE: That's the best one. Yeah. There's a lot of great electrolytes out there. BioPure has one, too, that's low additives. But I like this one because it doesn't have sugar. It's low sodium. Just staying hydrated is going to keep lymphatic and circulatory – Blood circulation higher. We do a lot IV hydration and a lot of IV nutritional therapy.
And so, yes, making sure people are having regular bowel movements. Getting binders on board, especially when we're doing antimicrobials. There's going to be a lot of debris that's generated and a lot of inflammatory waste. And so I find Alka-Seltzer Gold. I find binders helpful.
Bitters, digestive bitters, are probably my favorite thing to do for constipation. I've had people on opiates, because of surgery or whatever, who took ginger, 5-HTP, stool softeners, fiber, all that stuff. And it was the bitters that did it. So I can't say enough good things about those. And it's super naturopathic.
[00:56:45] SCOTT: And I'm guessing it's because the bitters are having an effect on the bile that then is helping with the constipation, right? The whole gallbladder bile piece of it, which actually then is also nice, because the bitters, at least the way I think about it, can make the binders more effective because you're then getting the bile into the small intestine and colon where the binders hopefully then are going to meet up with some of those things. So yeah, I'm a big fan of those bitters as well.
[00:57:08] DR. PLANTE: Dry skin brushing is great from a lymphatic standpoint, lymphatic herbs. Basically, anything that's going to – We call them lymphagogues. But anything that's going to support either the circulation of lymph through counter irritant type properties. And the return of lymph into the bloodstream is going to allow – Because a lot of metabolic waste materials do accumulate in this extracellular matrix.
And unless there's flow of that fluid – In Chinese medicine, we refer to it as stagnant chi. As long as there's stagnation in some kind of circulation, whether that's electromagnetic or fluid circulation, we're going to have a buildup of toxins. And so any kind of movement, muscle contraction, sweating, circulatory work, even just contrast, hydrotherapy, can be helpful for that. And then the herbs that I mentioned.
[00:57:55] SCOTT: Do you find that your patients benefit from IV nutritional support during the treatment process? And what are some of the nutritional IVs that they potentially find helpful?
[00:58:04] DR. PLANTE: Very much so. And so, there can be impaired intestinal absorption related to vagus dysfunction, related to lack of circulation to the gut. There can also just be hard to, yeah, break down foods fully. A lot of times, folks with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome also aren't able to really tolerate a nutrient-diverse diet, because foods might be either high FODMAPs or cause more of a mast cell type response. And so we kind of have to take those barriers to nutrition into account.
But even with oral vitamin supplements, we're not necessarily saturating and getting to those Supra physiologic doses that are needed to really exert lasting change. And so I haven't seen – I say this in a positive way. But I haven't seen IV nutritional therapy by itself the be all end all of treating Bartonella. But I've seen it be very helpful in terms of improving resilience, supporting cognitive function, increasing energy and supporting detox reactions.
I've been playing around for the last few months with higher doses of sodium bicarbonate in saline, like 15 to 20 CCs and a 500-mil bag of normal saline. It's kind of like Alka-Seltzer Gold in a bag. And that helps so much. So I've had people that are either Herxing come in and they’re like, “I don't want to do – I don't tolerate B vitamins. I don't tolerate glutathione. I don't want to do NAD. What can I do that can just kind of mitigate this a little bit?” And we’ll give them that. And then maybe give them like a little bit of minerals and a little bit of vitamin C, like more of an antioxidant dose. And that's helpful.
So that's kind of on one end of the spectrum. And then on the other end of the spectrum, you can do high-dose vitamin C. We do a lot of ozone therapy, which is its own thing that we can talk about. IV methylene blue, IV artemisinin. These are all antimicrobials. But just the vitamins and mineral cofactors are really helpful in terms of regulating our biochemistry. A lot of times there's genetic snips and an issue in terms of converting certain things to other things. And so when we're giving those vitamins and minerals directly into the bloodstream, they get where they need to go.
[01:00:07] SCOTT: Yeah. It’s amazing how much of a difference Alka-Seltzer Gold, which seems so simple, can have. And thus, I also think when people are doing Epsom salt baths, that baking soda added to the bath can also be quite helpful in some of these Herxheimer reactions, or muscle soreness, stiffness, those types of things.
You talked a bit about the concept of anti-inflammatory buffering. I think you've touched on some of those tools earlier. But are there any other tools that are kind of your go-tos for this anti-inflammatory buffering to assist or prepare the person for the treatment of Bartonella?
[01:00:41] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. So I think I talked in different places about different ones. But there's Th3 regulating supplements. Getting their vitamin D and their adrenal levels into the appropriate range. Addressing nutritional status. So if they're anemic – I mean, iron can be inflammatory. So that's its own kind of controversy. But getting them out of the state of where their severely iron deficient and able to oxygenate better is going to help things regulate, even though oxygen itself can be a little bit oxidative. Just basically treating the low-hanging fruit on the medical side of things is a top priority.
And it sounds so simple, but I can't even tell you how many times I've seen that not given attention to, where docs will only run an IGeneX, or a tick-borne infection panel, or a urine mycotoxin test and not do a comprehensive quest or lab core analysis for what the immune system is doing. So if immunoglobulins are dysregulated, we're going to need some support there. If hormones are dysregulated, we're going to need support there.
So I'm a big fan of the neurosteroids, DHEA, progesterone, pregnenolone, especially in folks that need them. And so I'll run those levels. And it's very common in reproductive age women that there's hormone dysregulation. And so if they've got a lot of neuro inflammatory symptoms, anxiety, insomnia, a lot of times they're going to benefit from a little bit of progesterone, bioidentical progesterone sublingual, either in a troche or liquid, because it'll absorb better and get into the circulation more, so than in cream would.
In addition to hormone-modulating herbs, to kind of buffer the nervous system against that. And then also some of the drainage support, like Burbur Pinella. I'm a big fan of Jernigan Neuro-Antitox II. These are things that help with lymphatic flow in the brain. Getting adequate sleep. I mean, sleep exercise. Again, exercise is kind of a loaded one because of the mitochondrial dysfunction and the adrenal fatigue. And sometimes people feel worse with that. But I always have a conversation, say, “How much can you move? I don't want you to push yourself too much. But a little bit of movement is going to be helpful as we go throughout this process.” And so lifestyle, those supplements, and then some of that IV stuff.
[01:02:43] SCOTT: Yeah, I'm a big fan of the Burbur Pinella, as well. And I found that Pinella specifically seems to be helpful in Bartonella for a lot of the nervous system type things that people have. So it's more like a nervous system drainage tool. Sounds like you’ve found it helpful in Bartonella specifically as well.
[01:02:59] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. I haven't done a whole lot of side by side comparison of Burbur by itself, and Pinella by itself, versus the – I'm just using them both. But I agree with you, that it does seem to be helpful.
[01:03:11] SCOTT: So with Bartonella treatment then, do you find that antibiotics are a necessary tool? Is there a good foundational kind of place to start in the pharmaceutical realm for Bartonella treatment? And do you think that IV antibiotics are a requirement for Bartonella treatment?
[01:03:28] DR. PLANTE: I do find that antibiotics in some way, shape or form are necessary in the majority of cases. I almost always start with Azithromycin, probably because a lot of the folks that I work with are more on the sensitive end of the spectrum and have been sick for quite some time. And so it's like, “Well, Clarithro is going to be stronger.” They’re the same class of antibiotic as Azithromycin. But it has a shorter half-life and a bit of a stronger action. So it's kind of like a quicker, but stronger jab. And in the long term, I find that, in addition to other antibiotics that we’ll I'll talk about in a minute, to be more helpful.
But I like Azithromycin, because it's fairly gentle when it comes to Lyme. And it's pretty good, at least initially, when it comes to Bartonella without being super Herxy. if I'm having somebody really Herxing him with that, then I'm looking at mold, and I'm looking at these other things, and I'm making sure drainage is appropriate.
But I'll start with a macrolide. I'll graduate them from Azithro to Clarithro. I use a lot of methylene blue. It doesn't work for everybody. But I like it because it is mitochondrially supportive. It increases oxygen utilization in the mitochondria. It's cognitively supportive as a reversible monoamine oxidase inhibitor. So it's going to support serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. A lot of folks with Bartonella have attention issues, brain fog, low-motivation, and could really benefit from that.
In the majority of cases, it's safe with lower doses of psychotropic medications that are affecting those neurotransmitters. But I do always ask about that, because you don't want to give really high doses of methylene blue, particularly IV, if someone is on a serotonin medication. And then it's also broad-spectrum antimicrobial against Borrelia, Bartonella, and Babesia. And it may even have some antiviral effects as well.
And so I'll compound that, usually 50 milligrams twice a day. And then I'll round that out with herbs, but we'll sometimes use Doxy as well, Bactrim, cephalosporins and Rifampin in cases where – The interesting thing about Rifampin is it can be pulsed. You don't have to take it every day. And there's a lot of drug-drug interactions that Rifampin has. And so I'm always kind of paying attention to that if the patient is on something that they need to be taking for another condition.
[01:05:35] SCOTT: I think a lot of times when people start getting into the antibiotic realm, they think, “Let's find the biggest hammer and kill the bug.” One of the things I liked that you said in a prior conversation was that Azithromycin that you found that people generally seem to tolerate it. And that it's a tool that you use to marginalize the infection. So it's not necessarily that you're coming in that that's the big hammer. But just kind of, I would almost say, just taking the edge off of the microbial contribution to whatever's overflowing their bucket. Am I thinking about that the right way?
[01:06:06] DR. PLANTE: Absolutely, absolutely. So I've worked with so many folks who – And I intend no disrespect to folks that have had this approach to be very helpful. But I see a lot of folks that have not had success with heroic, aggressive antibiotic therapy. And so that's when it's like we're building that landscape puzzle. And I want to know just how sensitive this person is. If we're two months in and they're like, “I'm not Herxing. I'm not Herxing. I'm not Herxing,” then we're going to start going for the bigger guns. And we're going to talk about IV antibiotics.
I did a lot of IV antibiotics in my last clinic, less here because we do so much ozone. But oftentimes, they are helpful. I’ll do ceftriaxone, Metronidazole and Azithromycin, usually in a series. But we'll start with just the Ceftriaxone. Antibiotics, they have their place. They can be very helpful. But I'm having a conversation with a person's body. And if they can tolerate it, we turn the volume up.
I say treating your illness is like you may have a row of 10 dials with different volumes. How much detox? How much anti-inflammatory? How much antimicrobials? And then we can change that, really, at any time, based on the feedback that we're getting. And so I don't think any path is necessarily set. And that the individualization has allowed us to help people that haven't been able to get the results they were looking for before.
[01:07:22] SCOTT: I know Clotrimazole is another one that some practitioners use in the treatment of Bartonella. Rifabutin as well, which I think is a cousin of Rifampin, if I'm not mistaken, right? So any experience with either of those two medications?
[01:07:36] DR. PLANTE: I haven't used Rifabutin as much. But I'm interested in it, especially after listening to Henry Lindner talk about Babesia, and it's used in Babesia, because it targets a particular vacuole or some kind of organelle in Babesia. And so a lot of people with Babesia and Bartonella can benefit from that. I haven't used it that much.
Clotrimazole, I was getting excited about using, and have used it with a couple of people. And then to be honest, I just kind of forgot about it, because I was like I'm using all these other tools, and we're getting good results. But if there's a fungal component – Clotrimazole, to my knowledge, needs to be compounded for oral use. It’s primarily available over the counter as for like Athlete's Foot, like Lotrimin. It's like a topical antifungal.
And so in folks with mold and Bartonella, I've found that it's not super Herxy, especially if you start low. And so it seems to be helpful in cases where you're like, “I really want to not have there be fungal overgrowth that occurs while we're doing this.”
[01:08:29] SCOTT: I think, back when I was going through my treatment for Bartonella, that was back in the day when people were using lots of fluoroquinolones, things like Avelox, and Levaquin, and tools of that nature that not uncommonly could lead to what people call floxing or fluoroquinolone toxicity. Wondering if there's still a place for fluoroquinolones in the treatment of Bartonella. Or is there risk not worth it most of the time?
[01:08:54] DR. PLANTE: Yeah, it's a great question. I know that there are doctors that are still using it and are comfortable with that and comfortable with that risk assessment. I am not. I've only been doing this a few years. And so, for me just, I've seen too many cases of fluoroquinolones toxicity, especially in the context of mold or untreated mold. And so when I'm seeing Bartonella, and there's any suspicion of mold, I would not do fluoroquinolones unless there wasn't any other option. That's me personally. If there's a doctor that's like, “I've been using them for years, and I really think this is appropriate for you, and relatively safe,” then fine. But I would not be afraid to ask your doctor, “What do you think about this?” if they are recommending that. Because the mitochondrial dysfunction that occurs from fluoroquinolone toxicity can be kind of a nightmare, honestly. Not to mention the avoidance of fluoride containing molecules that needs to happen, I think, for long term recovery to really proceed.
[01:09:45] SCOTT: With some of these antibiotics, do you find that there's any additional advantage to having liposomal compounds made of some of these antibiotic tools?
[01:09:55] DR. PLANTE: In some cases. So I've just explored this with a few individuals who have exhibited gastrointestinal distress with antibiotics because of usually years of previous antibiotic treatment. I'm always giving gut barrier support with antibiotics. And I'm always getting high doses of adequate – The appropriate types of probiotics. But if even that's not doing it, I'm curious. Let me just say that, because I haven't done it a ton. But I'm curious if liposomal antibiotics, which tend to pass the gut barrier and absorb more systemically are kind of a way to work around that. The two to folks I tried that with, that didn't work. That doesn't mean that it can't. Just that wasn't the reason.
I think another reason that's valuable for thinking about liposomal antibiotics is if they can't get IV antibiotics, and they want something that's a little bit more intracellular penetration, particularly the cephalosporin. So I use Hopkinton drug a lot. I hope it's okay that I'm mentioning specific ones. But I use Hopkinton drug in Massachusetts a lot. I think they're phenomenal. They're great when it comes to asking questions. They make a liposomal ceftriaxone. That's not, to my knowledge, available elsewhere. And so that's kind of cool if you really need to use Rocephin, which is the – For Ceftriaxone, it’s a generic for that. You don’t want to give yourself gluteal injections of it because they're painful and they can cause scarring, and you're not able to get or afford IV antibiotics. That's another option.
And then I think there's also liposomal Rifampin. There's a lot of them that can be made, maybe reach out to – They're not paying me for this, but reach out to Hopkinton.
[01:11:24] SCOTT: Talk to Michael. Yeah.
[01:11:24] DR. PLANTE: Yeah, exactly. Or Dennis. Yeah.
[01:11:27] SCOTT: Yeah. And it's definitely interesting, too, because I think some of these liposomal type preparations, if we can avoid having that PIC lines, or ports, or some of those other things, which I had a PIC line for a while many years ago. And it was something that I ideally would have liked to avoid. I mean, it doesn't come without risk and some complication. Let's maybe dig into some of the other antimicrobial tools, any herbal interventions that really stand out for you? Any supplements. What are your favorite herbs in the Bartonella arena?
[01:11:53] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. If I could do – I call it the desert island, tick-borne infection herb, just because if I could only do one herb, that would be it. Although now that I said that, maybe not. But Cryptolepis, I love. I find it to be highly effective. It's just very Herxy. And so I don't usually start with that. I often start with Biocidin, honestly. Biocidin, LSF, which is liposomal biocide. And it's a very readily available formula. It has essential oils in it. It's relatively broad spectrum. And it's biofilm disrupting just to an extent, but in a way that's gentle.
And so I find that it walks the line that I'm trying to walk with the patients that I work with, which is sensitive, but also needing treatment. And so I'll do that to start. If they're Herxing significantly with Biocidin, then we need to go slow with things. We're talking dropped doses of individual herbs later, like Houttuynia, or Japanese knotweed, eventually Crypto.
But if they're like, “Yeah, I'm up to two pumps, three times a day. No problem.” Then it's like, “Great. Let's bring in the Crypto. You can work up gradually to five mils, or one teaspoon three times a day of that. Houttuynia, which also has antiviral activity against the Herpes viruses, particularly Herpes simplex 1 and 2, as well as activity against Borrelia. It's a Chinese herb. It can be a little bit cooling. So in folks that I work with that are a little bit more on deficient type constitution, I might not use that one long term. But that one can be like a half a teaspoon up to six times a day.
I use a lot of Japanese knotweed. It's neuroprotective. It's a source of resveratrol. It's antiviral. And it targets Lyme and Bartonella. It may even target Babesia. I have to review that paper from Leone and Zhang and some of those other guys. I like artemisinin. It's also antiviral. I like herbs that have – I mean, it's funny, because my last name is Plante. I never really intended to go into natural medicine until college. But what I find is herbs are just – They're so versatile. They've been fighting the war against microbes longer than we've been around. And they tend to be more modulating. And so a lot of times, they're going to have flavonoids and anti-inflammatory components in them that folks with these infections need to support their physiology, as well as being antimicrobial against bacteria, fungi and viruses, sometimes even protozoa.
And so I like herbs that do a lot of things, because that kind of covers our behinds a little bit when it comes to the limitations of diagnostic testing. Okay, we don't know if – We don't definitively know if this infection is present or not. It's kind of funny. I had a doctor, when I was in med school, who was treating me for EBV at the end of my time there. And she was like, “Hey, I really recommend Lyme testing.” You hike. And I couldn’t afford it. And to be honest, I was a little bit in denial. And so I was like, “I don't want to do it. I decline it,” whatever. I strongly recommend, for anyone listening, that you don't do that. That you do do the testing.
But anyway, she kind of snuck in the back door and gave me Cistus incanus, which is a really, really broad-spectrum antimicrobial herb. BioPure makes it. You can also get it from a few other places. It's antiviral. It's like she was treating my EBV. But she was also like, “I’m not going to take any chances. I'm going to give you –” I think Klinghardt has casually referred to it as like the one herb that you need to treat Lyme. And I'm quoting that. I've heard that through a third party. So I don't mean –
[01:15:15] SCOTT: It's definitely one of his bigger ones for early retroviruses, selective biofilm inhibitor. I mean, there's a lot of good things about it from his perspective, for sure.
[01:15:24] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. It's great. And when I first started taking it, it was kind of Herxy. So it's definitely biofilm disrupting. People traditionally in the Mediterranean drink it as a tea, because it's really good for your oral health. So I'll use it as a mouthwash and people with dental infections, in addition to other things. And so I like Cistus a lot as well. But herbs that cover multiple bases.
[01:15:43] SCOTT: And interestingly enough, BioPure now has a cistus mouthwash that they just came out with as well. So it's arriving today, because I need to try it as well.
[01:15:49] DR. PLANTE: Oh, cool. Oh, let me know what you think. Yeah.
[01:15:55] SCOTT: I know, there are some things that we wouldn't do. Like let's say high-dose manganese in Borrelia. Some people think that could be a concern. I know Dr. Klinghardt has talked about not using too many B vitamins in the treatment of parasites. And so are there any supplements or materials that you maybe wouldn't use or you would avoid in Bartonella treatment?
[01:16:16] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. That's a great question. I'm not familiar off the top of my head of any one or two nutrients that you wouldn't want to do too much of. But I would think, just in general, anytime we're trying to really force our physiology to do one thing, you're putting yourself at an increased risk. So there's going to be some kind of side effect to that, whether that's more of an enhanced detox reaction, a blunted immune response or a mis-directed immune response. Of course, there is the concern that certain micronutrients can feed microorganisms. And I'm guessing that's probably one of the considerations with manganese and beryllium. And I'm a little less familiar with that.
[01:16:51] SCOTT: Let's talk a little about your experience then with ozone, which I know is something you have deep experience and use a lot. So ozone and Bartonella, is that something that you find helpful? Does it lead patients to higher ground? And if so, how do you like to introduce ozone into the body for Bartonella support?
[01:17:08] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. So I do see it being helpful. I don't think that it's the only thing. I mean, I think that there are some places that are really prioritizing that and saying ozone is like the one thing that we're going to use to get rid of this. I find that it pairs really nicely with the anti-microbials, both prescription and herbal, and all the foundations of naturopathic and integrative medicine that we previously discussed. It's when you put it all together, I find ozone can really help take it to the next level.
And so we do a lot of IV ozone here. I've done IV ozone at my last clinic, Major Auto Hemotherapy. Here, we use the Hermann Multipass Machine. And so what that is, is it's an automated machine that is going to pull a little bit of blood from one arm. It's going to ozonate it. And then it's going to return that blood to your arm. And then that'll circulate. And we may do that multiple times. And each time you do it, it's called a pass. And so if you've heard of the 10 pass ozone, that's what that is.
We also do something called ozone dialysis, which is a higher potency continuous ozonation, where it's also referred to as EBO2, or extracorporeal blood oxygenation and ozonation, where we have two IVs, one in each arm. One is pulling blood out. It's running it through an elaborate filtration system, where we're also ozonating the blood. That filtration systems going to remove micro globulins and other proteins and some of the inflammatory debris that gets generated from die-off.
And so, what I found is that there are some cases of folks that I've worked with that Herx hurts with the 10 pass, but don't Herx with those on dialysis, which is very interesting. Because those in dialysis is technically – It's like instead of taking a cup of water out of the river and cleaning it and putting it back in the river, you're like putting a hose of cleaning product or whatever, healthy cleaning product, into the river, and continuously ozonating. We've run it for about 45 minutes.
And I found that folks tend to – A lot of times get a pretty significant reduction in their chronic viral or chronic vector-borne infection symptoms just by doing that every couple of weeks. We do have folks come from around the country and stay a week or so and do days of treatment. What I found to be the most helpful is when folks are doing it on a regular basis. So it's not just like you come for a week. We do see people improve significantly. But we're not really necessarily saying that like, “Okay, you're done now.” It's more like the folks that are local that are coming in every two weeks or every three weeks for ozone dialysis, and IV nutrients, plus all that other stuff that we're doing, they're getting the best results. We also do something called ozone plasmapheresis, which is a little bit more detoxifying, and a little less antimicrobial. But you do get a little bit of both.
[01:19:44] SCOTT: So Dr. Klinghardt kind of popularized this concept of Apheresis. And people in Germany were doing this. I believe there's some people now in the US that do it as well. Dr. Isaac Eliaz, for example. So is the ozone dialysis or ozone plasmapheresis that you talked about, is that similar to apheresis? Do we know what type of environmental toxicants might be getting removed? Is it pulling out metals or mycotoxins? Does it have some role in the biofilm arena, for example?
[01:20:13] DR. PLANTE: Yeah, it's a great question. So my understanding is that they're similar, but it's a different filtration device. And I know this is a plug for the Peptide Summit. But Dr. Cook did talk, I think, with Dr. Eliaz about that, and the differences there. So there's definitely more about that. The idea with plasmapheresis, that's going to be the most similar to the apheresis. And I'm talking about ozone plasmapheresis, which is a little bit different than conventional plasmapheresis that you would get at a hospital, which removes essentially all of your plasma. So plasma is that liquid portion of the blood. And that's going to have carrier proteins, which are often bound to toxins. It's going to have free-floating toxins. It's going to remove antibodies, which is the idea for using it for autoimmune disease. You're removing auto antibodies. And so when we do ozone plasmapheresis, we're removing about 20% to 30% of your blood plasma, which is significantly less, and so better tolerated.
I'm a little bit skeptical. And again, I could be wrong. But I'm a little bit skeptical pulling metals, just because a lot of times these metals are in soft tissue. And so I get really curious – Or hard tissue, connective tissue, bone. So I get curious, if it's not actively in blood circulation, how are we getting it out without the use of chelators. And again, there may be some ways that we're doing that that I'm not aware of.
So we don't claim with our device that we're removing metals. But we do suspect that we're removing anything that's bound to carrier proteins. We're reducing the overall antibody load, and then anything that's free floating. And so I've had folks provoke with glutathione, if they can tolerate it. Like I had somebody come out. This is a few months ago. They were going to just come out for one day. All they had was one day. And they were just diagnosed with mold toxicity by a functional medicine practitioner that they're working with. And previously had come to our office only for ozone dialysis, which is more antimicrobial, less detoxifying.
And so that doc had put her on a ton of glutathione. And I said, “Oh, you're already taking a lot of good violence. So you're circulating stuff. Why don't you do ozone plasmapheresis?” And it was perfect. Because basically, we were like skimming off, siphoning off from the top, all those mobilized toxins. And it was great. She just needed that one day.
Now, that didn't mean that we cured the mold toxicity and there weren't other things. But like getting her back into functional range was affected with that. And so there are probably a few things that are happening that we don't fully understand. We've tried to send samples to pathologists, and it's been hard to get them to run exactly what is in the sample.
[01:22:42] SCOTT: In this patient population, how important do you think biofilms are? How often do you need to do something specific to address them? It seems to me that a lot of people get well without really doing something super aggressive for breaking down biofilms. So I'm interested in your thoughts. How important is that? Where does it fit in?
[01:23:00] DR. PLANTE: Yeah, so I do find it often to be important. Not always, but often. The question is, how much? And how aggressive? And when? So I never start with aggressive biofilm disruption. At most, I'll use Biocidin liposomal, which in my opinion and my experience is fairly mild on the biofilm disrupting front. Or NAC. Glutathione to some extent as well. But I won't use the chelator biofilm disruptors early on. I won't use high doses of Lumbrokinase, or Serrapeptase early on. And I won't use the Bismuth containing. I really liked the Bismuth thiol complexes that form. Like there's a product called Biofilm Phase-2 Advanced that has Bismuth, ALA, and black cumin seed. And the ALA and the Bismuth will form Bismuth thiol complex, which is a pretty potent phase-2 biofilm disruptor. And I find that helpful in folks that are more resistant.
Hey, every time I get off antibiotics, I relapse. Oh, hey, I switched our herbal regimen up. But we're still using research-based herbs that should have effectiveness. And it's not helping as much as when I was taking the full dose of crypto. Oh, okay, we probably need some stronger biofilm support.
So I kind of have this flow chart that I made of like gentle to more extreme. And so it's kind of like NAC, Biocidin, Serrapeptase, Lumbrokinase, and then the Bismuth thiols. And you can even get a compounded Bismuth thiol from – There's a few pharmacies that make it. It’s called BioSolve. And it's DMSA with the Bismuth subnitrate and the ALA. And so you form an even more robust di-thiol Bismuth complex, which can be very disruptive. And I find that to be helpful in persistent parasitic infection with the Babesia nest formation when you combine it with lumbrokinase. And so with Babesia, I think the lumbrokinase is pretty critical if it's chronic and you're not getting – And there's hypercoagulability and all that. And so I think that the million-dollar question is kind of like it's one of those 10 dials. It’s how much biofilm disruption? If they're just not getting better, you probably need more biofilm agents.
[01:25:04] SCOTT: Yeah. And I think the Cistus that you just mentioned can be really helpful in this biofilm arena as well. It sounds like that's another tool that you use. I know you work a lot with various peptides. So wondering if you can talk a little bit about the peptides. And I know it's a long conversation. But just curious about does LL-37, for example, have a place in Bartonella patients? How about the immunomodulatory peptides? And with the peptides, do you find that people benefit more from the antimicrobial peptides or more from the immune modulating peptides?
[01:25:32] DR. PLANTE: Yeah, great question. So, I always will start with the immune modulating peptides, as you may, the thymic peptides. I find BPC-157 immune modulatory and a little bit mass cell stabilizing, particularly the oral form of that. There're the Russian bio regulator peptides, which has its own conversation there around that. But there are some immune modulating ones there.
I like the immune modulating ones because, again, with Bartonella, I think the primary issue is the immune dysregulation. And so that's the overactivity of the inflammatory response and an under activity of the antimicrobial response. The thymic peptides tend to be very regulating there. So Thymulin and Thymosin alpha 1, support B cell, T cell and natural killer cell function, and support Treg simultaneously.
And so, what's so cool about that is you are modulating the body's ability to respond to these infections. And then if you add LL-37 Later – The way I describe it as Ta1 is your shield and your sword, and LL-37 is that dagger you have in your boot. And so it's that added edge that can be a little bit cytotoxic. It's antibacterial, probably antifungal and antiviral as well. But without a little bit of modulating padding, it can be a little bit more aggressive.
But I have seen patients with Bartonella say, “Yeah, Ta1 and the other thymine peptides are helpful. But what I really noticed is when I started the LL-37. Wow, that did something.” And so I won't usually do that for more than one to three months at a time, but 100 micrograms a day can be an added edge.
[01:27:02] SCOTT: So continuing on them with immunomodulatory tools potentially helpful for Bartonella, you mentioned LDI, or low-dose immunotherapy. So is that a tool that you're using for treatment of Bartonella? And what about transfer factors? Do they have a place here as well?
[01:27:17] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. So I really like Researched Nutritionals products and the different transfer factors, formulas, but I use their Transfer Factor Multi-Immune formula a lot. And these are essentially immune signaling molecules that can be modulating. I like that formula in particular, because it's got the anti-inflammatory, like pomegranate and stuff, as well as like necessary vitamins and minerals, and the immune modulating mushrooms and Astragalus.
And so, I love peptides. Don't get me wrong. I love peptides. I love ozone. I love some of this advanced stuff. But I find sometimes the simple – Like, Astragalus has been around for thousands of years. Immune modulating mushrooms are not new, although people are certainly talking about them more. And those formulas, I found them to be helpful, especially when there's a lot of autoimmunity. Because it's a matter of like how do we decrease inflammation without compromising our antimicrobial activity that we need so much?
Lotus immunotherapy, I use a lot more in my last office. And Dr. Jamie Conkel, who I trained under, use it a lot. I tried it personally for some of my stuff, and I didn't see it as a game changer. So it's amazing how are – Just full disclosure, how our personal biases factor into kind of what tools we stick with. Same with homeopathy. I've seen it work miracles for other people. Didn't do much for me. I don't use it that much. It doesn't mean it's not a valuable tool. And I actually would like to get back into using LDI, because I think that it's helpful. It kind of has this cross between the idea of what a vaccine does. I’m not saying that it is a vaccine, and homeopathic in the sense that it's telling the immune system, “There's a little bit of this product here. There’s a little bit of this antigen.” And your immune system sees it and says, “Hey, it's okay. I don't have to mount an inflammatory response to that.” And you do that while you're doing all that other stuff. And it seems to be balancing.
[01:29:00] SCOTT: Yeah, personally, I found LDI to be just magical. I had some pretty significant pain, burning, numbness and whatnot in one leg that turned out to be related to Herpes zoster. And after having had it for quite a while before we figured out exactly what it was, one dose of low dose immunotherapy, I had that sensation for almost two years, and the next morning, it was gone. Now I had to continue doing the low dose immunotherapy every couple months. But that was probably in my whole journey now of over 20 years of recovering from these things, that was probably one of the few experiences that I've had where you could really say, “Oh, my goodness. That one thing did something that was super, super obvious.” So yeah, I'm glad that you're excited about exploring those as well.
Big question, do you think that Bartonella can be fully eradicated from the body? Or is it more likely to case that it remains at some low level that it becomes part of our microbiome? That we've created more tolerance to it? And we're really just focused on getting the immune system to be less burdened, less dysregulated, so that it can manage this over time, like those people that have this infection, but have zero symptoms at all.
[01:30:09] DR. PLANTE: I think you nailed it. I wish that I could record exactly what – I mean, I'm going to cut that out and just send that to my patients and be like, “This is our goal, I think.” And so I think the jury's still out from an evidence standpoint, because our diagnostics need to be refined enough that we can confidently say that a negative test result indicates that the infection is not present in any degree. And I don't think we're anywhere near that point.
My theory is that we get to a place of ecological normalization. And so I think that's a perfect dovetail question after talking about Lotus immunotherapy, because the whole idea there is that we're telling the immune system, “This isn't as much of a threat anymore.” And that's the same idea with allergies, allergy shots. We want to reduce the burden of these, even though they are considered to be low abundance infections relative to some of the infections that we see that cause more acute illness. We want to reduce the load so that the immune system is able to do what it needs to do.
And so, there's the antimicrobials that help that. And then there's supporting and modulating host immunity so that the immune system not only can take over when you withdraw the antimicrobials, but be in a more harmonious relationship and say, “We don't need a mountain of significant inflammatory response.” Or, “Hey, this organism might be secreting some Th2 supporting cytokines. But we don't really care, because the rest of our mast cell milieu is relatively chill.” And like we can buffer against that. Just like some people can stay in a moldy condo for a weekend on a vacation and not get sick.
And so, we really want to promote resilience, physiology and resilience of the immune system. And identifying and treating all of these diverse things that can affect our immune system can help put us in a place where even if Bartonella, or Borrelia, or these other I hang out in our ecology, it's not a problem anymore.
[01:32:01] SCOTT: So then building on that, once you've worked with somebody in their past that symptomatic stage of their illness, longer term, do you stop treatment? Or is there some aspect of a few maintenance therapy, maintenance interventions, that can keep them from having a recurrence of some of their Bartonella symptoms?
[01:32:18] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. So I'm a huge fan of maintenance herbs, at the very least. And the reason for that is they tend to be less aggressive, unless they're like isolate standardized extracts. They tend to be gentler on our normal flora. I'll also have focus on more immune modulating probiotics, like the MegaSporeBiotic and the soil-based probiotics, because they tend to keep the not so friendly guys there. But it's not like you're over-pushing Lactobacillus or over-pushing Bifidobacteria.
And then maintenance, nutrients support, and some kind of host immune support, whether that's Astragalus, mushrooms pulsing peptides every couple of weeks or months. That stuff can be very helpful to do for a year or more after resolution of symptoms. And so whether that's Biocidin, or Cryptolepis, or Houttuynia, or some of the other ones I mentioned. Even just a few days a week can be better than none.
I'm at the point now with my EBV where I'm just kind of like, “Oh, I'm in a high stress situation. I'm not sleeping great. I'm traveling.” It flares. I take extra thyroid support. I run the Valtrex right now. And I feel so much better, in addition to herbs and other things. And it's just like you get to this point where you become so familiar with how your body is responding to this that you're in charge of the dials now. Your doctor can be kind of more of a consultant.
And then it's just like, “Oh, I need to up my support on that department. Maybe I need to do antibiotics for a month or a couple of weeks.” But I don't believe in doing persistent antibiotics for years after, unless there's clinical evidence, not just lab evidence, but clinical evidence of persistent infection. Because even if you're seeing it in the labs, but they're feeling perfect, do we need to treat it? I think that's a question. I don't think so.
[01:33:58] SCOTT: We know that for many patients, this can be a difficult path. And so I'm wondering, what can you say to provide listeners with some hope that they can get past it and can improve the quality of their lives?
[01:34:09] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. So I always tell folks that a doctor, including me, should never tell you that there's nothing more we can do. There are just so many tools in the toolkit when it comes to nutrient support, when it comes to hydration support. I had a patient who came who had been treated for years with IV antibiotics and was just feeling super discouraged. Started developing new neurologic symptoms in her 30s and was like, “Okay. Well, we need a different approach.” And then we even tried like oral Clarithromycin. Couldn't even tolerate one dose without severe GI upset. And so it was like, “Well, we just can't do that right now.”
And so we've been relying on herbs. We've been doing a ton of IV nutrient support. She's feeling better than she's ever felt. We're really optimistic that even just doing that. And like now she's able to do methylene blue, and we're titrating up on Cryptolepis. And so you may be at a point in your juncture, in your healing journey, where what you've been doing or what you have tried isn't working. There's something else you could try. And maybe what you were doing before could eventually be very helpful medicine and much better tolerated, but just isn't right now. Or maybe not.
But, I mean, there's so many things we didn't even talk about that are on the horizon that I would love to learn more about that can be tools and supporting these conditions. And so I'm just working with the best tools that I have been exposed to up to now in terms of pharmaceutical lifestyle, and naturopathic, and regenerative and saying, “This is what we're working with now.” But even with that, it's hard to try everything. It's hard to get to a point where you're like, “I don't have anything else.” I don't think I've ever said that actually. And this is just a relatively newer doctor.
So hang in there. It sucks. Let's be honest about that. It's a long road, and it's frustrating, and it's expensive, and it's painful. And make space to be able to process those emotions. But there are tools, and there are evolving tools, including narrow spectrum therapeutic in terms of antibiotics that are going to be less more likely to target these specific organisms. And so, I am optimistic about the future of chronic disease care.
[01:36:17] SCOTT: For people that are interested in working with you, are you taking new patients? Do you do telemedicine? Are there certain states that you can work with?
[01:36:24] DR. PLANTE: Yes. So I am licensed in California right now. And we do do telemedicine often. We do have folks who come visit us from around the country. Some of our other doctors are licensed in other states. I'm currently waiting on licensure in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. But that will likely take a little while. So we'd be happy to support you at BioReset Medical. We have a website, bioresetmedical.com. All one word. No dashes, or underscores, or anything. And we're here to support you with the best of what integrative and regenerative medicine has to offer for these conditions.
[01:37:00] SCOTT: So my last question is the same for every guest, and that is what are some of the key things that you do on a daily basis in support of your own health?
[01:37:06] DR. PLANTE: Yeah. So I mentioned a couple of them like the Ultima. I’ll do IVs once a week or so. I'm working a lot. I'm going to be transparent about that. And so, you do what you can from a nutrition standpoint. I do try to minimize the processed food. And the snacks that I do eat are like healthy snacks. I'm gluten-free and dairy-free. Unfortunately, the coolest thing to do when you're in naturopathic school was to figure out what your food sensitivities were. I'm still trying to figure out if it was worth it, because I ate gluten and dairy my whole life. And now when I do, they're so delicious, but I do not do well. And so I avoid those.
Sleep and stress management is really important to me. And my showers are cold. And I take a lot of supplements. And that stuff all helps. And it’s like I said, with the dials, it's like, I don't take 20 supplements every day. It's like, “Oh, I need more adrenal support this week.” So I take more adrenal support. “Oh, my gut is kind of weird. I’ll up the Biocidin, the Lauricidin, the biofilm.” Like, I had sushi the other day, and I decided to do chelation, because I had some DMSA and EDTA the next day, and I felt so good on Monday. And I was like, “Wow! I needed that,” even though my metals haven't been historically that high.
And so anyway, it's just you'll learn so much about how to treat other folks just by, one, trying things. I'm not saying I recommend this. I'm a doctor. So I can do this. But try things on myself or like learning new things and being like, “This is what I think I need right now.” And that has informed a lot of my clinical insight in terms of working with other people.
[01:38:32] SCOTT: Beautiful. Such an excellent conversation. Bartonella, obviously, is one of the bigger players in this realm in chronic Lyme disease, mold illness in some cases as well. Just really appreciate you sharing a lot of your toolbox with us. Super exciting to see a lot of the tools that you're using, and just really appreciate you being so generous with your time today. So thanks for being here, Dr. Plante.
[01:38:52] DR. PLANTE: Thanks so much for having me.
[01:38:53] SCOTT: To learn more about today's guest, visit BioResetMedical.com. That's BioResetMedical.com. BioResetMedical.com.
Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you're enjoying the show, please leave a positive rating or review, as doing so we'll help the show reach a broader audience. To follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or MeWe, you can find me there as Better Health Guy. To support the show, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com/donate. To be added to my newsletter please visit BetterHealthGuy.com/newsletters. This, and other shows, can be found on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.
[01:39:39] ANNOUNCER: Thanks for listening to this BetterHealthGuy Blogcast with Scott, your better health guy. To check out additional shows and learn more about Scott's personal journey to better health, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com.
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In this episode, you will learn about mold inspection and remediation.
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About My Guest
My guest for this episode is Michael Rubino. Michael Rubino, CMR, IEP is an air quality expert who helps bridge the gap between the air in our homes and its direct impact on our health. Michael works with over 100 doctors globally to not only raise awareness but also provide solutions to correctly identify and remove the pollutants causing this global health crisis. As President of All American Restoration, Michael specializes in working with people who are immunocompromised or have acute and sustained reactions to mold exposure and has helped heal over 1,000 families. He is also a council-certified Mold Remediator by IICRC and ACAC and is a contributing member, sponsor, and speaker for the Indoor Air Quality Association. He is the author of The Mold Medic and a contributor to MindBodyGreen. Michael has been featured on Gwyneth Paltrow’s The goop Podcast and goop's website, Brandi Glanville’s Unfiltered Podcast, Luke Storey, Forbes, USA Today, and Bloom TV, to name a few. He hosts the YouTube series "Mold Talks" where guests include medical experts as well as mold recovery patients, including media icon Atoosa Rubenstein.
- How important is considering the allergenic aspects of mold exposure?
- What sets the stage for environmental illness?
- What issues lead to mold or water-damage in a building?
- What testing options are used to evaluate a home?
- Is air sampling an appropriate testing method?
- How should a dust sample be collected for an ERMI?
- How is an ERMI interpreted?
- Why is an ERMI score even less helpful post-remediation?
- What is the role of Actinomycetes and endotoxins?
- Can mold dogs be used to identify a mold source?
- What are the 3 main steps in a proper remediation?
- How many sources of contamination are commonly found in a water-damaged building?
- What are the key elements of a remediation plan?
- Is fogging a viable tool for resolving issues arising from water-damage?
- What are the challenges posed by an HVAC system?
- What issues arise from crawl spaces, basements, and attics?
- Can cars be remediated?
- How can one remediate on a budget?
- What personal belongings may need to be discarded?
- What are the criteria for a successful remediation?
- What should one expect in terms of a guarantee from a remediator?
- Can a home be remediated such that one can recover in the same environment in which they became ill?
- What dehumidifiers, vacuums, and air filters does The Mold Medic find helpful?
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April 21, 2022
Transcript Disclaimer: Transcripts are intended to provide optimized access to information contained in the podcast. They are not a full replacement for the discussion. Timestamps are provided to facilitate finding portions of the conversation. Errors and omissions may be present as the transcript is not created by someone familiar with the topics being discussed. Please Contact Me with any corrections.
[00:00:00.29] Welcome to BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts, empowering your better health. And now, here's Scott, your Better Health Guy.
[00:00:14.07] The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.
[00:00:34.17] Scott: Hello everyone, and welcome to episode number 164 of the BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts series. Today's guest is Michael Rubino, and the topic of the show is The Mold Medic. Michael Rubino is an air quality expert who helps bridge the gap between the air in our homes and its direct impact on our health.
Michael works with over 100 doctors globally, to not only raise awareness, but also provide solutions to correctly identify and remove the pollutants causing this global health crisis. As president of All American Restoration, Michael specializes in working with people who are immunocompromised or have acute and sustained reactions to mold exposure and has helped heal over 1,000 families.
He is also a Council-Certified Mold Remediator by IICRC and ACAC and is a contributing member, sponsor and speaker for the Indoor Air Quality Association. Michael is the author of the book ''The Mold Medic'' and a contributor to ''MindBodyGreen.'' He has been featured on Gwyneth Paltrow’s The Goop Podcast and Goop's website, Brandy Glanville’s Unfiltered podcast, Luke Storey, Forbes USA Today, and Bloom TV; to name a few. He hosts the YouTube series Mold Talks where his guests include medical experts as well as mold recovery patients, including media icon Atoosa Rubenstein. And now, my interview with Michael Rubino.
I am super excited to have The Mold Medic Michael Rubino with us today to talk about all things mold. This is probably the most important topic to explore and those dealing with complex chronic health challenges, thanks so much for being here today, Michael.
[00:02:24.00] Michael R.: Thanks for having me, Scott. I’m excited to be here.
[00:02:26.18] Scott: Thank you. So how did you get into working with clients dealing with chronic complex health conditions, where mold is often a key component and maybe I should say where water damage building exposure is often a key component, it's not always just mold and we'll talk more about that? But what led you to doing the work that you do today?
[00:02:46.20] Michael R.: So my father is a restoration contractor since I’m five years old, so I am a second generation restoration contractor if you can believe it. I didn't always look at this as a health perspective though, what actually happened is after Hurricane Sandy in the northeast, I started noticing for the first-time people getting sick.
We were remediating homes that were supposedly already remediated. And so when I saw that pattern, that's what kind of made me dive into understanding what is it about remediation that doesn't work for some people, where it works for others? It kind of led me down this path where I’ve now just exclusively started helping people that are just dealing with chronic illness.
[00:03:26.04] Scott: Talk to us a bit about your analogy of a particle and an organism being like a seed and a plant. How does a mold spore or fungal fragment, and then mold mycotoxins, how do those fit into the conversation?
[00:03:39.21] Michael R.: Yes. So that's probably the unique part that I figured out pretty early on, which actually made the remediation process we were doing successful, was realizing that mold is two things really essentially. It's a living organism, and that's typically what we know it as. We know it as this black fungus growing on our walls, and it produces particles.
And that's what is measured when they do like an air test, capturing those spores that are created by those organisms. It's the way it reproduces. So I look at it as like a plant and its seed, as a pretty good analogy to try to understand that. So we have the living organisms that's producing these particles, but where it gets a little tricky is as you mentioned mycotoxins. Now certain species can produce mycotoxins, and it's like a self-defense mechanism for mold.
Typically, it's different species of molds competing for the same real estate, and they're producing toxins to kind of off one another so they can take over that real estate. So we're kind of the innocent bystander and all that, where we're now exposed to potential toxins in our environment when we have these water damage events, and of course there's ability to test for that, to identify if that is in fact a problem, because it doesn't happen in every single case.
[00:04:48.15] Scott: And then where does the fungal fragment fit into the conversation?
[00:04:52.17] Michael R.: Well, because mold is a living organism, as it does die and break down, it does break down into smaller fragments. Or if you're cleaning mold for example, but you don't get to the roots of it, you're going to break these parts, these organisms down into smaller particles or fragments that can then get into our environment. And we can test for those too. There's actually a category called hyphal fragments, and it tells you the quantification of that.
[00:05:17.05] Scott: And my understanding is that any of those the spore, the fragment, or the mycotoxin potentially have health related considerations.
[00:05:25.12] Michael R.: Totally. And of course, we're studying it actively, so there's its ongoing development in terms of what is making people have these symptoms or trigger these symptoms, but essentially, yes. I mean it's been led to believe currently that it's not just the spore we have to worry about, it's the toxin, it's the fragments.
There's always been this confusion as to if mold is dead or alive, and if it's dead, is it still as harmful? And the EPA came out recently saying that dead mold still can cause adverse health reactions in some, so it's something that you want to take into consideration when remediating a home. Because really the strategy to be effective at this is to remove these particles, not to try to kill them.
[00:06:09.00] Scott: In the biotoxin illness realm or CIRS or Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome, we don't hear a lot of attention given to the allergenic aspects of mold exposure, which is really different from the biotoxin or toxic effects of mold exposure. So in your experience, how important is considering the allergic response to water damaged buildings in terms of improving someone's overall health condition?
[00:06:35.14] Michael R.: Well, I think that's where we really actually need to pay more attention to, because obviously we're drawn to the word toxic. I think that a lot of confusion kind of develops around that. But the reality of it is you have allergenic species of mold, you have toxigenic species of mold, you have pathogenic species of mold, and that is its own little separate side of the fence of this.
But you also just have the inflammation that can result from an abundance of these particles entering the body. So you really have to look at both sides of the coin, and that's why I think there's probably a lot more research and study that's needed, to really understand, and it's going to be difficult. Because there's over a hundred thousand species of mold. There are obviously more mycotoxins than what we can test for or know of currently due to that.
So I think we have to kind of zoom out a bit, and that's where my focus is it's saying let's look at the data, let's figure out how to improve the environment utilizing that data. Because I think right now where we are, you can't really isolate things and know for sure that well, if I just remove this species, I’m going to improve my health.
[00:07:37.14] Scott: I want to talk a little bit about what you think sets the stage for environmental illness with exposure to water damage buildings, we know not everyone presents with a sirs-like condition. So in your book, you talk about dysbiosis, you talk about how various factors can set the stage for the potential development of health complications when exposed to a water damage building. I think a lot of people think that if you have certain genetic types or HLA-DR types, that that's the determining factor. But it sounds like there's other considerations as well.
[00:08:10.00] Michael R.: We're learning a lot over time. I mean, even from when I first wrote my book, there's new information that's come to light. You have the HLA-DR gene which everybody talked about, and how big of a role that plays into the fact. I think truthfully, we don't really know wholly how much. There's also the MTHFR gene that they're saying can play a role into this, certainly genetic predispositions are going to make you more sensitive to your environment.
But I think even all of that into consideration, we don't really know how long-term exposure impacts us. I think that's really the big alarming question, is someone who's otherwise healthy if you're in a moldy environment, and I should say really if you're in a water damaged environment that has mold and bacteria, what's that exposure like? I mean, we all have different immune systems, so this is such an individual thing which I think it makes it so much more complex to study.
But the reality of the situation is we have to kind of look at this from I think a wider angle than we have been, and just understanding how does this accumulation of particles that have the opportunity to enter our body impact us both short term and long term. Because I think we know a lot more about the people that are explaining that they're having symptoms when they're in these environments, but we don't know much about the people that aren't complaining. I have noticed and just working with people, even when the let's say husband seems to have been unaffected.
When they're in a healthier environment, they start to feel more invigorated, more energy, less tired. These are subtle changes but they are changes that they notice. So I think it really comes down to having the access to study more of this, and for right now, kind of what I’m doing and utilizing is just the tools of looking at the data and seeing how can we make improvements, and kind of really interviewing the customers after the fact, and trying to understand how that has impacted their life in a positive way.
[00:10:02.09] Scott: So besides the genetic piece, which I agree, there's a lot of question about whether or not that really is a significant or the significant consideration, are there some common threads that you've seen; other contributors to people's health, comorbid conditions, or other factors that you commonly see in those that express with an illness to water damage building exposure?
[00:10:23.28] Michael R.: I think it's just different levels of susceptibility to illness in general, right? So we all know like with COVID that came out, certain people were experiencing things far worse than others. It was very confusing as it still kind of is, as to who is likely to be more impacted by something like that. I think that all plays a part into this, and trying to understand this. There are going to be people that are going to be more susceptible to environmentally acquired illness than others. I think diet plays a big part in that, I think exercise regimens, just overall well-being routines, I think are going to make people's immune systems stronger. I think when you look at this from, and I’m not a doctor, so I’m just kind of going off of the data that I have and I’ve observed and the things that I’ve studied.
But what I tend to see in a pattern like fashion, is the fact that when people have an immune system that's elevated if you will, they're able to filter out these particles much faster than others. And I think if you're able to detox and remove these particles from your body in a faster fashion, you're less likely to feel symptomatic.
So like I said, there's a lot of study that's really needed around this, but one thing I know for sure is the reason why I’m so passionate about this is because there is something there. We may not know the total causation of it all, but we do know that when people are improving their environments, they're creating safer spaces and they're actually improving their health in one way or another.
[00:11:47.18] Scott: So let's talk then, you mentioned safer spaces, let's talk about some of the common issues that you see that lead to mold or lead to this toxic soup from water damage building exposure. What are some of the things that happen that lead to this problem?
[00:12:01.25] Michael R.: Well, it really starts with water. The introduction of water into the home is what kind of creates that opportunity for mold and bacteria to be present, grow and thrive. It creates these conditions where they can grow. So I think the first problem we have is water, and water comes in many shapes and forms.
Of course, it comes in the actual running of water such as a leak coming in from a window or a roof. But it is also moisture and humidity. So if you have a basement, you can have moisture intrusion, vapor diffusion that happens throughout the foundation that allows excess moisture to come in to the space, and as long as you have a relative humidity or 60% or greater, you have this potential where mold and bacteria can begin to thrive.
You also have different leaks from different systems such as a drain. Bacteria is present in our drains. And so, when we have leaks that happen in a drain, we're a lot more likely to have bacteria come into our space. The next problem is, we haven't really, society hasn't caught up with technology. So we have what's called MERV-16 technology now for HVAC systems, but HVAC companies are not pushing them for whatever reason. People aren't, it's not common knowledge for people. So what that happens we're not protecting our units, and when we do have these issues, they're able to a, get into the HVAC contaminating the coil, turning the coil into a source.
But also, they're recirculating these particles from one room to the next. So it's creating more opportunity for people to be impacted even when they're in the room next door. So I think just having that common knowledge of some of the technologies that have developed, installing dehumidifiers in subgrade climates or in humid climates is probably a good idea to control the ability for mold and bacteria to thrive. There are things we can do about it, it's just I feel like as a society, we're not as educated on those things.
[00:13:50.07] Scott: Thanks to Mike Schrantz, I just purchased a MERV-16 whole house filtration system. So I’m excited about that. That sounds like a good option. Let's talk a little bit about some of the testing considerations.
So in those with chronic health challenges where the bar is really higher for testing, what are the common types of tests that you would do in a home? Can you kind of walk us through the testing options that you would consider as you evaluate a home from your lens?
[00:14:15.27] Michael R.: Yes. So probably the first thing that I would recommend doing, and this is for people who are like I don't know if I have an issue, maybe I do, I just want to know. I like doing kind of this combination of ERMI, Actinomycetes, endotoxins, and mycotoxins. It's a wide array. Is it absolutely necessary? You know there can be argument there.
But I think the reality of it is it gives you a broad scope of seeing what's in my environment. What's in your dust has the ability to get inside of your body, and I think that's so important. Because if we're only looking at the air, we're looking at the air in a snapshot in time. And obviously we're in a home for 90% of our time these days, especially with the pandemic and how that's changed the landscape for us. I think that what is in your dust eventually does circulate into the air, and eventually does get into our breathing zone, enter the body through inhalation and of course to our skin too.
So analyzing the dust gives you a good snapshot of what's in the environment. Now, of course there's limitations on that, essentially if you capture an area that you haven't cleaned in a long time, you're going to get more of a historical data, then you will kind of understanding if you just cleaned the home, and you tested the areas that have just been cleaned, it gives you more of a representation of what's being produced actively. But I think it's still a good snapshot of saying what am I possibly being exposed to. From there, it also can give you the consideration of maybe I need to figure out where these particles are coming from next, and that's when you would want to bring in an inspector who's really good and thorough at helping you identify where these sources are.
Because for what I’m seeing, most people have sources that they're unaware of, they're hidden sources. Maybe a window leaked, but it leaked behind the drywall and there's no visible signs of water damage on the front of the drywall, so you have no idea where it's coming from. And that's where you need to utilize different technologies such as a wall cavity sample, in certain areas where you suspect there could be water to validate if there is in fact an issue there.
So it's a combination of understanding what's in the environment, that has the opportunity to get inside of our bodies. And then where is what's in the environment coming from. So you want to do sourcing and the analysis of what's actually there.
[00:16:23.26] Scott: So for the testing of the ERMI, the Actinomycetes, and the endotoxins. Is that traditionally through EnviroBiomics if people are doing self-testing, and then the mycotoxin piece through RealTime Labs with an EMMA? Or what lapse do you prefer if people are starting to do some testing on their own before they bring in an IEP?
[00:16:43.22] Michael R.: I personally like EnviroBiomics, and I’m more biased in that fashion, just because I’ve seen the report so many times, I’m very comfortable with them. It gives me a better baseline, because I’ve utilized them so much in the past. Because obviously different labs are going to have different processes and techniques and display the data differently. And RealTime Labs is another one that I like a lot for mycotoxins specifically. I also really like EMSL, again, I just like the way they display their data. I think it's really easy and comprehensive.
You should choose whatever lab is a, easy for you to access, and b, where you feel that their reports are easy to read and understand, because I think that's really important. If you have data, and you don't know how to interpret it, it doesn't really leave you in the right place to take action.
[00:17:29.27] Scott: I want to dig more into ERMI, but before we jump there, I just want to hear your comments on air sampling as a method of testing compared to source sampling with an air sample. Where you know there's an issue, and you're close to that wall or whatever it is, and doing some air sampling.
But it seems like a lot of inspectors will just come out, do an air sample in the middle of the room and conclude that there's not a problem. So how valuable is an air sample, or how misleading might those results be?
[00:17:57.24] Michael R.: Well, this is an interesting question. I think air sampling technology is great when utilized correctly. I think the way in which it's been used in the past is a little more antiquated, and I think it misses the mark. You can have a hammer, but if you try to use a hammer as a wrench, it's not going to work out as well, right? So the tool itself is not the problem, I think it's the way in which people are utilizing that tool which is the problem.
There's a lot of people in this industry that I feel haven't really evolved or adapted to some of the newer technologies out there, that are at their disposal to help identify where some of the problems may be. I think doing an air test in the center of a room as an example isn't as valuable, because a, you're very unlikely to have a problem in the center of your room, it's likely to be on an exterior wall or an interior wall with plumbing where water can intrude.
And the further away from that wall that you test, the less likely you are to pick up. These spores don't emanate very far initially until they really settle and then traverse around through air pressurization, HVAC turning on and off, windows, doors opening closing etc. So when you know that fact, you have to really know how to utilize that tool, and I think it's become more of an art form, unfortunately.
[00:19:12.14] Scott: With the ERMI or what some term MSQPCR, what do you recommend for self-sampling? Do you like the vacuum canister? Do you like the cloth? How long should someone wait after they've done their normal house cleaning so that they're not getting a false negative?
Where would you suggest collecting, so that we're not getting too much historical, but getting a more current issue kind of perspective? And is sampling let's say on the top of a ceiling fan or a door jamb or someplace that's been rarely cleaned, maybe the top of a refrigerator. Is that a wise thing to do or is that not going to give us the right perspective?
[00:19:49.07] Michael R.: I personally think if you're sampling from an area that's less likely to be cleaned, you're much more likely to get historical data. A home can be built hundred years ago, there may have been situations where there was past leaks that were actually resolved correctly. And so getting historical data on there could make you think that there's a massive issue when there may not be, right. So I think there's something to be said there.
The best way to probably sample would be to clean the home, wait a couple of weeks, maybe three to four weeks until there's enough dust that settles. Sample that dust and analyze that in, because that dust is going to be more accurate to really what's being actively created in the environment, so when you get those types of red flags, you'll know that they're more likely pointing to active issues. Of course, there's limitations in this, but I think that's probably the more accurate way to get a good reading of what could be going on currently in your environment.
[00:20:42.12] Scott: So it sounds like you tend to use the Swiffer cloth method, rather than the vacuum canister method. Is that right?
[00:20:48.24] Michael R.: I tend to. I think if you're kind of following that instruction, I think it'll probably be the most effective. I mean, vacuums are going to be more helpful when you're dealing with carpeting. You're trying to analyze carpeting, but even then, I mean a carpet if it's 10 years old, it's likely to have a little more historical data. And as we know carpets can kind of be like sponges, our own little petri dishes.
[00:21:10.17] Scott: So ERMI is probably the most popular self-testing option, and yet the score itself is often not a good reflection of the health of a home or health of an environment. So can you give us some of your insights about how your brain interprets an ERMI, what are the allergenic, toxigenic, or pathogenic molds that you think of as being the most concerning? And is it true that on an ERMI, if you see any Stachy or Stachybotrys, that is a sign of a likely serious problem?
[00:21:40.06] Michael R.: Those are amazing questions. The score itself is always a big topic of contention, of course. I don't utilize a score at all, I don't think that it's a useful algorithm in its current state. I think there's a lot more work needed to make that useful. I don't have all the answers on how that would come about.
But the reality of it is I’m looking at the actual data, how much is present in each species. And what I’m looking for is it 10 times, 100 times, or 1000 times over the average, and that's kind of how I’m interpreting it. Because I want people to know that a net zero mold home is not going to happen, right. Mold's part of our ecosystem, we don't need to build bubbles around our houses to be safe, we just need to make sure that our environment is not conducive for mold to grow.
Remember, the problem is the abundance of particles, and how particles get abundant in our environment is either a, bad housekeeping, meaning we allow these particles to accumulate in our environment. We're not removing them by removing the dust, where in which these particles settle. And b, they're sources in the home creating an abundance of particles, that would otherwise normally not be in our environment.
So when we have to look at that, that's how we have to kind of interpret the data. So when I see something a thousand times over the average, I can clearly indicate that there's likely an active problem within that species, especially if the dust was collected properly. As far as Stachybotrys or Chaetomium, I would say when I see those present, even one spore, my inclination is to say let's try to find where that Stachybotrys or Chaetomium is hiding.
Of course, it could be settlement, it could be one spore that you brought in. But that's one of the things that I always typically recommend to take a little more seriously, because if there is an issue, typically, the Stachybotrys or Chaetomium as we've seen it in the past, they're very low counts.
But those very low counts end up opening up and finding a bigger issue somewhere. So I would say be vigilant and try to see if there's any possibility of a long-standing leak that could harbor Chaetomium or Stachybotrys, which are toxogenic molds and rule it out, right? And be safe rather than sorry.
[00:23:43.00] Scott: So when you say you look for ten times, a hundred times, a thousand times more than the average. Are you taking the average of the number of spores for each of the group one molds, and that's the average? Or are you using an average that's coming from lots of different home environments to compare that to?
[00:23:59.18] Michael R.: So, I think the average is based upon the EPA's analysis of a thousand homes, and that actually, each species when it's tenfold above the average, it'll have one asterisk next to it. If it's 100-fold over the average, it'll have two asterisks next to it, a thousand will have three. So that you're looking for asterisks.
Does tenfold always mean there's a problem? Not necessarily. I mean, like I said, it could be bad housekeeping, you could have hit a reservoir that had more species present than typical. So it doesn't always mean that there's necessarily a problem. But when you start seeing a hundred times, a thousand times, it's usually indicative of a problem. So I typically recommend if the numbers look pretty good, re-clean, re-test, see where things are.
And of course, typically I’m working with people that are coming to me and they're saying they're not feeling well, and so it really depends. if the family is feeling fine and they're just being vigilant about making sure their environments in good shape, and we see these things, I’ll probably recommend re-cleaning, re-testing.
Someone who's coming to me that's not doing well, they really suspect that there's mold. Maybe they've been in moldy environments before and they're having similar feelings, where they kind of are really thinking and pointing towards that, we may make recommendations to get an inspection thereafter and just rule anything out as a potential.
[00:25:19.20] Scott: Is that one, two, three asterisk notation that you mentioned, is that something that's on both Mycometrics and EnviroBiomics ERMI results?
[00:25:28.16] Michael R.: I am not sure off top my head if it's off Mycometrics, I know for a fact it is on EnviroBiomics.
[00:25:34.14] Scott: Okay. Now that's amazing, I mean as many people as I’ve talked to in this realm, that's a new insight that I didn't realize was there and available in terms of interpretation. Are there any of the group one molds that you might see, even if elevated, that you think yes, that's interesting but maybe not likely to contribute to someone having a complex chronic health challenge.
[00:25:55.00] Michael R.: Yes. I mean, I’m looking for and again it obviously depends on just the volume of particulate there. But I’m typically looking at Aspergillus, Penicillium, Chaetomium, and Stachybotrys as more of the prevalent molds that I see in people's homes, especially where people are complaining of symptoms. I know fusarium isn't on it, and mucor mycosis is something that's been a topic of discussion as of recently.
So hopefully, maybe in the future, we can kind of start looking at that as well. Wallemia obviously comes into play quite a bit, but these are things that I would consider a little bit more rare. Not that they don't occur, but you typically see Aspergillus, Penicillium, Stachybotrys, Chaetomium. and then if they're more allergenic symptoms and it's more of an allergy concern, we'll look at Cladosporium too. But I would say those are pretty much the main molds that we typically see in a home where there's issues.
[00:26:52.04] Scott: So we know the ERMI score is not ideal, sometimes a low score can be a problem, sometimes a high score can actually be reasonably good. Why is it that doing an ERMI post remediation is even more difficult to use that score as an indication of the success of the remediation, and is it post remediation best just to look at the group one score and not consider group two at all?
[00:27:17.08] Michael R.: Yes, it's a really great question. The reality of the situation is when you're doing remediation and if you're doing it right, you should be removing all of these particles. You can't really distinguish group one molds versus group two when you're cleaning a home.
So the way the score is just group one minus group two, right? So if you're removing both simultaneously, the score is not likely to improve after remediation, because it should be going down simultaneously together. It's not until the environment has more of a normal habitation where these outdoor molds do make their way in, homes are not hermetically sealed, it's going to happen.
And that's when you start to see less water damage molds, more outdoor molds, common molds and that's when you start to get that negative score that everybody desires. I think that because we have so much attention on the score, it creates this fear that there's still a problem in my home when there may not be. And that's why I shout from the rooftops, do not look at the score, it's confusing, it's likely to significantly impact your mental health, and not allow you to move on from it, and I think that's a really big problem that we have to face.
[00:28:25.12] Scott: One of the things about the ERMI that I do like, and while it's also probably not perfect, is at least from an ERMI you can calculate the HERTSMI-2, which statistically seems to provide probably more insight than the ERMI score itself. The EMMA on the other hand is interesting in that it looks at some molds, some mycotoxins.
Unfortunately, you can't calculate the HERTSMI-2 score from an EMMA, and so that's one of the potential downsides with that. But as you mentioned, can look at the mycotoxin piece, which is not something that we're looking at with an ERMI. So talk to us a little bit about the value in doing an EMMA, in addition to the ERMI.
[00:29:03.21] Michael R.: Yes. I mean, I think the EMMA, the value is there is you get a combination. You get some molds and then some mycotoxins, it would cost more to do an ERMI and a mycotoxin panel separately.
So it's more cost effective for sure. The only downside of course of going that route is you're going to have less visibility into the five mycotoxins we can test for. I’m pretty sure ERMI only does a few, and you're going to get less molds on the EMMA as well. But for those who are budget conscious looking at that snapshot, I think it's a great alternative, because let's face it, this thing does get costly.
[00:29:36.25] Scott: Let's talk about testing that you would suggest for places that people less commonly visit, don't have as much control over like maybe their church or their school. And then building on that, what about people that are looking for a new environment, they're going to multiple apartments, they're looking at homes, they're considering a lease or a purchase. How can we test these environments that we maybe don't have time to do a lot of collection and things of that nature? What are your thoughts on how to vet those types of environments?
[00:30:06.13] Michael R.: So with that being said, I think there are some packages that you can buy from labs that are a little more conclusive such as like ERMI with mycotoxins, together with one sample, that could be pretty helpful for that scenario, or you can do something like the EMMA. I know no matter what, it's a five-day turnaround, and in this market, it's challenging to get a place to hold on for five days, let alone sometimes even five minutes.
But I would say if you're really concerned about this or if you are someone who's hypersensitive and you really want to make sure that you have a healthy environment, it's something that you probably strongly want to consider, just to check out the environment. I think the dust test would make sense in this regard, because you're getting a snapshot of what's in the environment.
Hopefully, they've cleaned the place and removed some of the historical data, and you get a better accurate reflection. But that's the only real I think cost effective way to go about it, other than getting an inspector to come in and do all these types of tests. I think it's probably the most cost-effective way to get the best bang for your buck, and see if there's anything there that is a concern to you or your doctor etc.
[00:31:13.15] Scott: If someone knows that they have an issue, there may be this kind of desire to just jump past testing and jump into remediation. But why do you think it's important to do that proper testing before doing remediation?
[00:31:25.19] Michael R.: Yes. I think you're not worried about the things that you can see, you're worried about the things that you can't. And I think that's really the best way to kind of look at this process. So if you see that you have a mold problem in the corner of a room, by all means, remediate it, right? You can see it, you don't need to test for it unless you want to know the specific type and quantity and all that.
But when you're going through a remediation process, typically, you're trying to make sure that you have a cleaner environment, and you're looking at all the possible sources that can be in the home, you want to eradicate them all at once. Of course, with budget limitations too, I think testing is really helpful, because you're going to want to know and how to remove the area that's creating the most impact.
For example, you may have a bathroom, maybe there's some mold in the bathroom, but there's a lot of mold in the HVAC. And if you have a limited budget, you'd want to know and have that data to know how much impact you're going to make if you can only afford to do one or the other. So I think data is really important so you can look at things scientifically and say I know that I’m going to get the better bang for the buck if I focus on this area first. And I think that's where the true value comes in with testing.
[00:32:28.19] Scott: And it sounds like also that you want that initial baseline testing before remediation, so you can do some post-testing and compare to show that there actually was some improvement, right?
[00:32:37.29] Michael R.: Well, that's true too, yes. Baseline testing allows you to understand exactly where it started and where it finished. You want to make sure that the remediation was successful in eradicating it. And I’ve seen this time and time again where you removed two feet of a wall, and you should have gone four.
And it looked great, and only testing picked up the fact that you needed to go four feet, and so now you go four feet, right? So I think testing provides a lot of validity there too on the post inspection, otherwise, if you jump right into remediation, then do a post inspection, you don't know where things started, you don't really know how much improvement you got or how much improvement you may need thereafter.
[00:33:14.21] Scott: Historically, it seems like many inspectors focused on testing for mold, and even practitioners testing for mycotoxins, because we could that those really were kind of surrogate indicators for broader water damage building problems. I think it's fairly recent that IEPs are testing for Actinos and endotoxins.
So I’m wondering how important you think those are, what do you do differently if anything from a remediation perspective if there are bacteria like Actinos or endotoxins, and how often do you maybe find low mold issues that maybe previously we would have said well, this environment looks really good, so they've got low mold, low fungal spores, fragments all of that, but maybe have high Actinos and endotoxins?
[00:34:02.04] Michael R.: Yes, it's a great question. I think a lot of this stems from obviously water damage, right? So the things that we can control when it comes to bacteria is going to be where they're waterborne bacteria, meaning bacteria that thrives in this water damage environment. There are also bacteria that comes from the body, we excrete it.
And so, in terms of that, if you're not feeling well or you have an abundance of bacteria, dealing with some illness, you may produce a lot more bacteria than the average person which can be picked up on that actinomycetes test. When I’m looking at the whole picture, the nice thing about this, good remediation is going to look at the water damage, and they're going to remove mold and bacteria in the process, especially if you're using broad spectrum products.
So I think that there's not really necessarily something that needs to be done in addition to the normal remediation process, and I’ll kind of tie into where I think the remediation process needs to go in terms of standardization. But for when I’m looking at a home, the reason I’m testing for all these things is I just want to see what's there. My philosophy is if you have an abundance of bacteria, toxins, particles etc. It's a good idea to reduce them, you know, to more of a normal level.
When I’m looking at endotoxins for example, that's produced by bacteria as it dies off. So that's a good indicator that there may be past water damage that could have been corrected, and the bacteria could have died off as it was corrected, but it was never fully remediated properly. So there may be old water damage at that point that the clients tell me about, that maybe wasn't repaired properly that we may want to reopen up and just remediate and make sure that whatever was there as the source is now fully gone.
That kind of brings us back to that ideology of though even though it's dead, it can still potentially harm you. That's kind of how I utilize that, Actinomycetes, what I do differently for Actinomycetes which as has become more and more popular thank you to Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker. The interesting thing about Actinomycetes is a, it's beyond the ERMI of bacteria. They were looking at all these particles produced by bacteria.
And the reason I say it's beyond because there is so much there, and not all of Actinomycetes that people are able to identify are going to be produced by these water damage events. As I mentioned earlier, some come from the body, you have some come from the soil. So if you're a family that never takes your shoes off when you get inside your home, you could be tracking that stuff in. The good news is that the remedy is cleaning, removing these particles, just as like you would removing mold particles.
The bad news is and there's only really one bad news, is some of these can emanate from our drain lines. As a matter of fact, most of the studies around Actinomycetes were collected from the sludge in our drain lines. HVAC condensation pipes as an example, our PVC drain lines. A lot of our drain lines are made out of PVC these days, which are not antimicrobial like our copper pipes are. So it creates a little bit of a challenge where we're having to kind of guide people to cleaning out their drain lines using like enzymatic solutions, drain cleaners etc.
To kind of flush that stuff out. And then we're actually tape sealing all of the drain inserts or outlets if you will, to make sure that none of that is burping back, cleaning the home and then retesting and seeing what comes out of it. Actinomycetes again it's another thing where there's a score, there's dominance, there's prevalence. It's really difficult in its current state as a remediation person, to really guarantee which direction things are going to go and how the outcome is going to be.
But what we are noticing is in our typical cleaning process, again, looking at the data not the score we're seeing massive reductions in what fragments and particles are present. So it's a work in progress for sure. But I think the good news is that there's really, outside of cleaning drain lines, cleaning the home is really going to be one of the most successful actions at removing these toxins and particles.
[00:38:03.12] Scott: I have seen some people about testing for mold actually looked really good, they were not well, and their Actinos and endotoxins were quite high. And so wondering do you see that where there doesn't seem to be a mold issue, but there is this bacterial and bacterial toxin issue?
[00:38:21.04] Michael R.: Yes, we see it quite a bit, where on the surface the mold looks totally normal, doesn't really seem to be too much of an abundance of mold, but we are seeing these bacteria present. And a lot of that typically is from what I’ve seen in the field, is they had water damage, again, they repaired it, they didn't really remediate.
But most of the mold that was growing if it was growing at all would have been on the dry wall in the insulation that they did take out, so they did that step correctly, but they didn't abrasively remove any potential bacteria when they did that process and so they just built right back. And that's where we're kind of seeing that issue where there's toxins, there's bacteria particles, doesn't really seem to be much mold present. So you have to kind of look at both sides and make sure you're looking at the whole picture of what's going on in the environment.
[00:39:10.01] Scott: My recollection is that Dr. Shoemaker most recently has said that mold and mycotoxins maybe are about nine percent of the problem, that endotoxins are in the 30 plus percent and the Actinos in the 40 plus percent.
So that's kind of interesting, particularly thinking about the next question, which is, lots of people are interested in this idea of using mold dogs to come in and sniff out sources of contamination. Interesting now that maybe mold is not the primary issue that's making people sick, I think that still has to kind of be proven out more clinically. But what are your thoughts on using mold dogs as a way to identify the source of contamination, when it just can't be found otherwise.
[00:39:51.06] Michael R.: Yes. I mean, it's obviously an interesting conversation, because of the fact that on one hand we're concerned about dogs health, right? We're putting dogs in environments where we know that there is potential to not be a healthy environment in order to help us. So I think we don't know much about the long-term exposure to animals, so I think that puts the animals at risk there.
But look people in desperate times call for desperate measures, and I understand if there's a service that you're paying for, people will get it. I can tell you from firsthand experience I’ve seen some of these mold dog reports. On one hand, I’ve seen mold sniffing dogs pick up issues behind a shower that you would have never guessed. On the other hand, I’ve seen them point to something that didn't visibly see anything present.
So in my opinion, it's going to depend on the dog, the trainer, and the various variables there to understand how effective that will be. But I do have concerns especially considering we don't know, we still don't know enough about mold and bacteria, how will these water damage buildings impact us other than we know for sure that they do impact some. It's it still raises a lot of questions.
[00:41:04.04] Scott: Yes. And sadly, I mean people like you that understand this probably use much more protective tools to protect your own health. But my understanding is that IEPs or indoor environmental professionals and remediators commonly have significant health complications over time, and that their careers are often not very long, because they are constantly being exposed to these things. And so is that your observation as well? That people really, if they're not protecting themselves, that the work you're doing can potentially negatively impact your health obviously.
[00:41:36.15] Michael R.: Totally. I mean, I’ll tell you that even when I protect myself, I’m only 99% protected, and I think that's something to be said, that it's nothing we can do is ever 100%, right? There's always some risk. When you're looking at that, I mean I’ve had my own health complications over the years, I’ve been in many people's homes.
I had significant weight gain, I had some brain fog issues in the past and it was such a slow degradation. Like as we're talking over the span of ten years, that it wasn't until I went ahead and did this detox program actually this past January, where at the end of it, I couldn't even recognize myself. My energy was up, I was feeling great, I lost 30 pounds so far, I’m still going.
But there was significant blockage. And I’ll tell you one interesting point about this whole thing is what I noticed was when I was going in the sauna at the start of this whole detox thing, I really wasn't sweating. And about seven days thereafter, I was sweating like a faucet. And so it was really interesting to see how blocked up my body was, and how much better and cleaner things got and how I felt the difference.
So I would argue that even though I would consider myself otherwise healthy, I’ve never really grown up with any chronic issues or conditions other than having asthma as a child. I was definitely impacted over the years of just being exposed to not only mold and bacteria in people's homes, but to the various toxins in our world. And so I think it's smart to practice good hygiene, doing detox, eating clean, taking care of ourselves, and air quality has to be one of it.
[00:43:10.10] Scott: Let's jump now more into remediation. So what are the three main steps in a proper remediation?
[00:43:16.13] Michael R.: Well, the first step is containment and engineering controls, which you would think, it is a standard, right? It's in the IICRC S520 S500, we talk about it, everybody knows about it, but it doesn't ever really get executed properly in a lot of different cases. Why that is, I think there's a misunderstanding of pressurization. I’ve sat in these classes, and I have to take continuing education classes all the time. I carry seven different state licenses for mold remediation. And so I know that air pressurization is something that is glossed over, and I think that as a result, we have people that don't understand how to utilize engineering controls or set them up properly, which allows for this cross-contamination to happen.
And I’ll give you a great example that's top of mind. There's a project in Atlanta that I was called in after the remediation was done. This woman was hypersensitive, she called me and said these guys just left for the day, and I’m like having reactions upstairs and they're downstairs. And I wasn't having reactions all day, I’m very concerned. And I asked her to just kind of describe to me what was going on, how the property was set up.
And what she had described to me was that the air scrubber inside the containment was set lower than the air scrubber outside the containment. So what was happening was that the air scrubber outside the containment was pulling all the particles up through the ceiling rafters and into other rooms through interstitial cavities. So essentially, the containment was useless because they cross contaminated everything from inside that containment to outside the containment.
And when I was asked to talk to them about setting it up right, and how they had to clean the home thereafter, and all this stuff, they really didn't seem to have an understanding of pressurization and thought they had done everything correctly. So I think we have to dial in more into pressurization, and how important of a role that plays into things, so that people can understand. Because there's also situations where there's no window nearby, you can't put it under negative pressure.
So you have to positively pressurize the space outside of the containment, so that nothing can get in, get out of it. Just like if you open a door to a hotel, and the gust of wind is blowing out at you, that's because the building's positively pressurized. So understanding pressurization I think is really key part that's missing. The second thing of course is after the engineering controls are set up properly, there's demolition that happens. I think a lot where mistakes are made here too is not removing enough building materials.
On an exterior wall, but as an example, a lot of people do these flood cuts. But typically, exterior walls are insulated. And if the water travel down, that insulation is going to harbor moisture, likely contain the ability to grow mold thereafter, because it's going to stay wet far longer. And so we're missing the upper section of the wall that likely still has mold and bacteria.
So those are some of the things that another dangers that happen if you will in the remediation process, making sure you remove enough building material following the path of water and going a little bit further, because mold does have roots that grow into building materials that can spread further. And I’d say the last important piece is just knowing that once you've removed the source, right?
You could have the source still growing into some of the framing and building materials that are left behind, making sure you're abrasively removing that, utilizing the HEPA vacuums and wiping the area down. Because these fragments, these toxins, these particles, they're going to pass right through the HEPA filter, the HEPA filter only gets down to 3 microns.
So if mold is between 2 and 4 microns, we're missing some mold spores, and we're also missing any fragments and toxins that are going to be around that one micron level. So we have to really make sure we're wiping the space clean as well, and I think that's another thing that often gets missed typically in the remediation process. And then last but not least, once you've removed the source, you've tested it, you've verified it it's good to go, your mold and bacteria is going to flow throughout the home as long as it's there.
For many people, they're dealing with issues that have been there for a while. It's very typical that I go into somebody's house and we're looking at a window leak that happened three years ago, that they didn't really think anything of it at the time. And so for three years, we've had these particles enter our environment, circulate around our home. Some of them of course get removed in routine cleaning, but you're likely to build up an abundancy of these particles over time.
And so as they go room to room, in order to really make sure that we've done all we can do to remove the particles and get a better equilibrium, if you will, we want to clean our house and we want to try to remove dust reservoirs, especially the places we don't clean often like the top of ceiling fans, top of kitchen cabinets
So I think if we can, and I know this sounds like a lot, right? And there's an insurance industry that has to be taken into account too. But if we can kind of make this more of a normal thing, I think we're going to see a lot better success, and I think we're going to see a lot better health improvement as well.
[00:48:26.04] Scott: So essentially, engineering controls, removal and then cleaning, those are the kind of primary steps. How many sources or areas of contamination do you commonly find in a water damaged building? is it usually one place or are there ten places, like what do you normally see?
[00:48:42.08] Michael R.: Yes. Unfortunately, it's usually 10 to 15 different places, and obviously, it depends on the size of the home. The bigger the home, the more opportunity there is for there to be incidences. I look at this and there's just many different areas typically. We are really starting to now get it where we're paying attention more to water damage, we're being more proactive. I would say the awareness has definitely increased over the years.
But we still have many years of problems that likely haven't been cured properly, that we have to deal with. And it's really, what I’m noticing is it's the abundancy of these things. I rarely ever see one home has one source, and all of a sudden, they don't feel well. It's typically this happens, a couple years later this happens, a couple years later this happens and it's the abundancy of all of these things that start to create this environment where people start to notice a difference in their health.
So yes, it's typically many years which makes this complex to fix it, and I think that's why tying back to the data it's so important, because let's face it, who can afford to do 10 to 15 different construction products in their home at one shot, most people can't. So I think breaking it down as to which construction projects should be a priority for you to fix is really going to be key.
The reason I’m mentioning the word construction here is very simply this, it's not enough just to remove the mold, it's to make sure it doesn't come back. So there's likely whatever allow the opportunity for that water to get in is going to have to be re-engineered. You may need to replace the window; you may need to replace the roof as an example. So I just want to make sure people understand that there's a two-part process to that.
[00:50:20.06] Scott: What are the key elements of a remediation plan that someone should expect to receive in advance of getting into that process? And then who's authoring that remediation plan is it the IEP? Is it the remediator? I know in most states, there should be some separation, it shouldn't be the same person doing the testing that's recommending remediation. So how does that remediation plan unfold?
[00:50:41.28] Michael R.: Yes. I think this is going to vary state to state based upon state regulations. Like Texas is very different, has a very specific process for example. But typically, the IEP should be the one making the recommendations. They're doing the investigation, they're the first eyes on the ground.
They're finding all the issues, recommending sampling where these issues are, and they're obviously determining that those sampling methodologies to say how big of an issue this really is. But I will tell you this, just because of that fact of having 10 to 15 different issues, what I’ve noticed is no IEP really wants to take the liability of telling you what you should do and what you shouldn't do.
I think that's where things get really confusing and people are desperately looking for somebody to help them analyze it. What we typically do is say look, I cannot guarantee that if you only do this, this and this your health will change at all. But what I can tell you is scientifically; this looks like it's producing the most amount of particles versus this area.
So if budget's a concern, let's start here, right? If you feel better after that and don't need to do the other things, more power to you. I think this is health, right? Health is a journey. I don't care what you're dealing with, it's a journey. Even if you're losing weight, it doesn't happen overnight. You have to make serious steps and changes in your life. This is no different, you're going to be improving your home which is your nest over time, just like you would any other normal construction project. The caveat is this obviously has more health concerns.
But I think one of the biggest successes that I’ve had as a remediator, is letting people know that doing what you can is the right thing to do. And if you can't afford to do everything, don't go into this shock like oh there's nothing I can do, I’m hopeless. You don't need to move out of your house and live in a tent, you just need to take some small steps towards that, and you will notice a difference because I’m telling you people are.
I think that's one of the biggest things about me, is I tell you when I first got in the industry, I had this misconception too of if you don't do everything, you may not feel better. But honestly, I’m seeing that that's not true, because we are, I would say 75 percent of the projects that I deal with, they're not doing everything that's recommended. They're taking bite-sized approach, they're doing what they can and they are seeing a difference. I think I want to champion that a bit because so many people feel overwhelmed by this process.
[00:53:10.19] Scott: So if I’m working with an IEP, they deliver a remediation plan. What should I be looking for in that plan to know that they really know what they're talking about?
[00:53:21.09] Michael R.: Yes, it's a great question. I think you want to ask them questions about why they're recommending what they're recommending based upon the results. Have them go over the results with you, and ask them why they came to that conclusion of why certain things need to be done. I think that's really helpful, because if you don't understand why someone came to a conclusion of why you should do something, then how do you know that you should do it?
I think that's really what it comes down to, because yes, you're going to have people in the space that just say well, there's mold there, so you need to take care of that. But the reality of it is you're going to have some mold in your home. And we're not trying to get to a mold free home, we're trying to get the mold under control. We're trying to make sure that we don't have a conducive environment for it to grow, and we're trying to reduce the amount of particles present in our environment. And that's really what the goal should be.
So have him explain it, because I’ve seen people say there's 200 spores of aspergillus in this wall, let's tear down the wall. Look, I’m happy to chase anything you want at the end of the day, but the reality of it is the 200,000 spores in the room next door is going to be much more advantageous to remove that. So I think it's just asking the right question of how people came to the conclusion, and that'll give you a good inclination if you agree or not.
[00:54:37.00] Scott: And I like the way you kind of in the book broke down the remediation plan, where you talk about what we talked about a minute ago, which is what are the engineering controls to prevent the cross-contamination while you're removing that source material. What is the method that's being used to remove the source of that exposure? What kinds of products are being used? What the guarantees and warranties are?
So really just making sure that the expectations are set, and there's a good understanding of what's kind of being done and planned before going into that process. Would you say that if the engineering controls are implemented appropriately, meaning negative pressure, positive pressure, air scrubbers all of those things. Do you find that most people can live in a home that's being remediated? Or is the recommendation that they should not be living there during the remediation process?
[00:55:24.25] Michael R.: Yes. I mean, I always tell people if you can get out of there, you should. Things are going to get kicked up and stirred around, and it's just better not to be exposed in that environment. I know many people have been exposed this entire time, and so they're under that premise of well, I don't want to spend extra money to get out. I would try to arrange to stay with friends and family. I think you're going to have a better outcome.
One of the things that I always worry about with remediation when people living in the home is they're living in the home, so they're going to be opening doors, maybe they get hot, they open a window or something like that and we may not see that from across the house and that could change the pressurization and make it difficult for the equipment that we set up to be set up properly.
So I always look at that as a little bit of a risk and a concern, but look, we have to work with people and what their limitations are. If they don't have anywhere to go, and they don't have any budget to stay at a hotel while the process is happening, because especially for us the process typically takes many weeks. I think that you got to do the best you can to work with people, and I think that's at the end of the day that's kind of what it is. But totally, if they can.
[00:56:34.01] Scott: You work with lots of people that are immunocompromised, maybe people that are ultra-sensitive, dealing with mast cell activation from that water damage building exposure. So how might a remediation be different when you're working with a highly sensitive client?
[00:56:48.11] Michael R.: Yes. I think that the difference is honestly is the stress of how important the cleaning aspect is. I think that's where a lot of people get hung up. Because especially with most remediation companies, they don't do fine particle cleaning, that's kind of a new idea. So if you're having a company come in and they're just doing source removal, that's great. Removing sources is a huge part of it.
But that's where you start to hear that people still don't feel better after remediation, they still feel like the mold is there, it's because it is. It's still in the dust, it's still in the environment and it's still opportunistically getting into the body, they're still exposed to it. So having that stress on cleaning, I think is really important because otherwise that's typically what you seem to get in the hypersensitive community.
[00:57:38.18] Scott: Let's talk a little bit about fogging. I think so many people seem to be excited about skipping the identification, skipping the remediation, skipping the removal of the source material, jumping right into these fogging solutions that seem to be presented as the entire solution to the problem.
When might fogging be appropriate, if ever, when is it inappropriate? And let's say someone lives in maybe an environment that they don't own, maybe an apartment where the landlord's not willing to do any significant remediation. Could fogging in some cases on a regular basis be a way to make the environment better, if not completely resolved?
[00:58:15.24] Michael R.: Well, I think to answer your second question first, I think that that's going to depend on somebody's sensitivity, and what they're fogging with. I think a big popular fog these days is like pure acetic acid for example. Again, it's going to break these down into smaller fragments. And for some who are really sensitive, those smaller fragments are going to be just as big of a problem, so I think it may not be a great solution there.
But of course, when you're looking at that, from a testing standpoint, if you were to test only for the spores after fogging, it's going to make it look like the place is perfect. So you're not identifying fragments really at that level. So I think you're going to miss the opportunity for someone who's sensitive that they may still complain and you might not be sure why. In terms of fogging overall, I mean, I think just based upon that premise that an it's not getting rid of the source, so whatever allowed the opportunity for mold or bacteria to be there in the first place is still going to happen.
So even if it's breaking down these particles on the surface and into fragments, you're not detecting that there's mold there. But guess what happens six months later? And it's even in the white papers and most of these fogging products, you see that new recovery curve. Where it's down, six months later they're testing it's back up oh and it's worse, right? So I think there's something to be said there if you're not as sensitive, I think fogging may work if you're doing it on a consistent basis, you're kind of trapped and you have no other option, it may be helpful. But as a long-term solution, it's definitely not.
I think the bigger problem with it is it's marketed as a long-term solution. They're going out there and they're saying don't worry about the mess, we can do it, it's demolition free, it's amazing and you feel like you're being sold a magic wand at that point. The reality of it is we have to look at scientifically how did it all start in the first place, and unless we handle that, you can fog away and you're never going to actually eradicate the problem.
[01:00:10.10] Scott: I know you've been quoted as saying that fogging is a sore in your side, and I would agree with everything you just said. I think it's not the place to jump to, that you have to identify the tumor essentially and extract that before you can really make that environment healthy. Let's talk a little about HVAC, the potential challenges they might create in a remediation project.
How often can they be clean, versus potentially needing to be entirely replaced? How can we minimize the potential for the HVAC system to be part of the problem that impacts the entire living space? And one of my thoughts was, is it the case that the HVAC system is essentially metastasizing the cancer, so to speak.
[01:00:55.08] Michael R.: Yes. So real quick if I may, just to comment on the thorn in my side on the fogging. The real reason that it upsets me so much is that people are spending hard-earned money on it, not understanding that it's not a long-term solution. And so now they have less money to spend on actually fixing the problem, and they had no idea wasn't going to fix it in the first place.
So I think that's where I get kind of so emotional about that, because it's tough, I mean, we all have limited resources to work with. The HVAC, the lungs of the home, right? So this is a very important conversation because the HVAC I think really accounts for a lot of issues with this. These particles come into our environment even we don't have a mold problem.
So you could have spores getting to the coil, if you don't have proper filtration, that can over time start to grow and colonize on that coil, really making the HVAC a source. So we have that problem, and I think that's why filtration is so important. The other issue is when we do have mold, obviously, now there's a lot more opportunity for that HVAC to get contaminated. Cleaning it is difficult, because if you've ever seen a coil, it's a million pieces of metal welded together.
It is very difficult to clean in between. I think to really clean it properly, you would almost need like a toothbrush to go in between and something even smaller than that, and really clean in between. What a lot of people do is they're using coil cleaning products that are designed kind of like almost like a Draino for your drains, they're trying to dissolve everything on the side and push everything through. I’ve seen coil cleaning be effective.
I think it's going to play a part into how old the HVAC system is essentially, because the more rust and stuff like that it's just going to make it harder to remove these particles. I think you want to weigh out the cost of cleaning versus replacement. In most cases, it's pretty close, and especially if you're not being upsold all the other components. If you're talking coil cleaning versus coil replacement, it may only cost 50% more to get a whole new coil. If the coil is a lot older, that's probably a better investment.
Now, of course, when you're looking at replacing the whole thing we're talking outside compressor, the blower, the whole nine, of course that increases the cost. But for me what I’m really seeing is the coil is really the problem and the most complex part of it. So if you are on a limited budget, definitely weigh those two things against each other.
The duct works another really entirely difficult thing to talk about because you have flexible duct which really can't be cleaned, even the friction that's created with the plastic against the air, if you've ever tried to clean one of those things, I personally have, you'll never get the dust fully out of it. The argument is well, if that's the case, how about mold? I think that it just happens over time, right? The friction and stuff like that happens over time, you're going to have these particles knocked loose and get into the environment.
So to me, flexible ducts should be replaced. Good thing is they're a lot cheaper to replace. When you do replace them, you typically see a large benefit versus the investment. Metal ducts can be cleaned, not one's lined with insulation. If they're lying with insulation, of course insulation being something that's porous, these particles get embedded into the fibers. Again, same thing, you'll want to remove that insulation lining which is not easy to do, definitely a chore.
But that's the best way to deal with that and then clean the metal components. And then at that point, you can re-insulate on the outside of the duct as opposed to the inside of the duct, so you have cleanable ducts. The act of cleaning ducts itself even when metal is a bit interesting too, because if you have a 50-foot run, how are you really cleaning a 50-foot run even with a camera and with kind of one of those brush attachment tools, you really are not going to be able to do it 100%.
If it's in an exposed space or you're okay with making some incisions in the drywall, if it's enclosed, you may want to consider making incisions into the duct work, and then of course, they all have to be sealed properly with mastic to make sure you're not getting additional duct leakage.
So it's very complex, and I hate it that it is so complex, because I know this is a really important piece of the puzzle. That's why it's so important to get proper info air filtration like you just did with your new Merv 16. So I think that's going to help alleviate a lot of these issues, by keeping these particles from getting into the unit in the first place.
[01:05:20.09] Scott: How often would you say that basements or attics or crawl spaces are the primary sources of contamination? And what are some of the things we need to think about for each of those? In a more humid climate for example, should an attic be sealed tightly, should it be allowed to breathe? Let's talk about those a little.
[01:05:38.00] Michael R.: Yes. So basements, attics, crawl spaces are definitely a, some of the more extensive mold issues that I see, and of course, the most costly to fix properly. With basements and crawl spaces, I mean, typically they're engineered incorrectly. There's no waterproofing strategy. So you have water coming in, you have moisture coming in. You never go down there and check, there's hardly any air movement even if you do have vents.
No dehumidification systems down there, they're typically not well done. They're starting to get better done today. But in the past when we built these homes, mold wasn't top of mind. So I think that what we're doing with crawl spaces, and it depends on the climate and the code of course, but we're finding more success sealing them in, dehumidifying them, water blocking strategies, improving the drainage around the home so that we're keeping the water diverting away from the foundation of the home.
Those are really effective strategies at controlling the crawl space. Is it ever going to be perfect? No, but that's where the dehumidifier comes into play, controlling the moisture as it does diffuse into the environment. Attics are typically either poor ventilation, or if you're sealing in your attic, which you can, we could talk more about the pros and cons of that. But if you're going to seal in your attic, make sure you dehumidify, right? Because air is still going to rise, you're still going to have moisture in your air.
If it's all staggered, and it has nowhere to go, that moisture content can build up over time. So having a dehumidifier in your attic when you have a sealed attic, we're starting to see that a lot more in newer construction homes which is a good thing. Because about five, ten years ago when they started sealing these attics in, they were forgetting about that point.
You were starting to see mold all over the ductwork, all over the spray foam, so definitely heading in the right direction there. You can either ventilate or seal it. I think that the proper thing to do in either case is to really understand which route you're going to go, and making sure you're supporting it.
So with a lot of ventilated addicts, I think ventilated attics are great. But if you're blocking the ventilation or you don't have enough ventilation, they're not so great. So it's all again kind of coming with being thoughtful about it. I’ve seen a lot of soffit vents blocked with insulation when they build the home.
Or when those guys knock on your door and say hey, I’ll improve your energy by putting new insulation, and you say that sounds like a great idea, and they throw insulation over old insulation, again, blocking these soffit vents it's a recipe for disaster and I’ve seen that too many times as you could probably tell.
So I think it's being thoughtful about these things, and making sure if we're going the ventilation route, there's enough ventilation, the ventilation is working correctly. No ventilation route? Great, well, let's dehumidify then. So it's really just kind of looking at the options and making sure that no matter what climate you're in, you're picking the best solution depending on what variables you could be faced with.
[01:08:26.23] Scott: A common question that I get is if somebody has mold in their car, for example, is there anything that can be done to remediate or improve the car? Or is it better just to get rid of it? Any insights or thoughts you have on cars?
[01:08:40.07] Michael R.: If we're trying to go for perfection, right? The main concerns about cars you have the porous materials, where mold and bacteria can be harbored in. Obviously, it depends on the situation of how the mold got there in the first place. Like for instance, if the car had water damage or water came in, you're likely going to have to go that route, right? Whereas if you're dealing with more of a humidity issue, where you have mold growing more on the surface, you want to try do some deep cleaning strategies. Leather is going to be easier to clean than cloth as an example.
So if you have cloth seats, it's going to be more challenging. You also have the filter, a lot of people don't realize that they need to change their filter in their car, air cab and filter that can harbor mold over time. So I think all these things come into consideration. Hypersensitive individuals, it's like a 50-50 shot whether they can get it clean enough or whether they need to sell it.
So definitely something that is a problem. Hopefully, the car industry catches up to this, improves the filtration in the air cabin filter, has good ventilation that occurs and I think we'll start to see that in a better direction too.
[01:09:50.03] Scott: If someone needs to remediate on a budget, where might it be reasonable to reduce the cost reduce the focus? And what things would you say in this process really do need to remain?
[01:10:00.06] Michael R.: Let's say you told me you had five thousand dollars, and you needed to improve your environment. I would say you're not remediating a crawl space; you're not remediating an attic or a basement with that budget. But what you can do is you can improve your filtration and your HVAC, which will help at removing these particles.
It’s kind of is twofold, it stops the HVAC from getting contaminated, also acts as a giant air purifier by capturing these particles into the filter. So that is probably a really good strategy to keep things from continuously passing over. You'll want to deep clean the home, remove all these reservoirs. If there is a let's say humidity issue, you'll definitely want to employ some dehumidification strategies, keeping that moisture at bay.
And there's simple little things that you can do to kind of replace certain conditions in the environment like carpets as an example, switch to more of like non-porous items as much as much as you can and be more minimalistic at that point with a smaller budget. But I think if you do that, believe it or not, you will get pretty good improvement there.
[01:11:05.11] Scott: How common is it for insurance companies to pay for these remediation projects? And are there scenarios where insurance may or may not cover the event that led to the water damage in the first place?
[01:11:17.00] Michael R.: I know insurance companies pay for remediation projects all the time; I do know that. I have not seen much on my side of things, and I think that's because a lot of people have issues that are pre-existing, that happen a long time ago, that are not within the statute of limitations, so they don't have a covered claim.
And there's also issues like vapor diffusion that occurs in a basement as an example or seepage from a foundation, those aren't covered losses and those are some of the bigger issues with these larger projects that involve basements. Roof leaks that weren't covered by a specific storm, that aren't considered storm damage, that are just poor maintenance as they would call it would not be covered.
So in so many cases that I deal with, we're not seeing the coverage for people. I think it's because they're not aware enough of how to make sure that a, they are covered, have proper coverages especially for mold. And b, they have to know that when there's a leak that happens. Even if they think it dried and they think it's all good, they should initiate a claim, and at least make the insurance company aware of it whether they want to exercise that claim or not. It at least puts things on the record.
And of course, people don't realize you can have like an insurance adjuster on your own side, like a public adjuster that can really look at your policy and help you understand what coverages you have, what you don't have, and how to get whatever you're allowed to get for your policy when dealing with this. Finally, the biggest challenge with insurance companies is they're not up to speed on the technology. You try to talk to an insurance adjuster about an ERMI or a mycotoxin, it's 10 feet over their head. They're really only concerned with dealing with things cosmetically because they don't understand the science.
So when you're talking about cutting out a wall, they're like what do you need all that plastic and containment for? You know you got a box cutter, just use the box cutter, these are real life conversations that I’ve had with insurance adjusters. So I mean, there's so many different industries that kind of impact the situation that we're in as a society and insurance is unfortunately one of them. I think that we need some regulation state by state for that, and we need some great science to present to the insurance companies, and the legislators to have them come together and really modernize these insurance policies.
[01:13:40.09] Scott: Love to hear your thoughts on personal belongings such a common question what can you keep? What should you get rid of to optimize the remediation, but also your health? And are there things like clothing for example that can be salvaged, what are your thoughts?
[01:13:53.22] Michael R.: Yes. Contents is another fun topic to discuss, and I say that with facetiousness, because the reality of the situation is, it's so individual. I’ve had a woman who had a plastic spatula, and the spatula had a handle that inserted into the head of the spatula. So there was technically like one thirty second of a space in the spatula, and she reacted to it, to the point where she called me and said I’m reacting to the spatula, what should I do? I said well, throw it away.
So it's like no matter how much logic you put into this question, it's all out the window because everybody is going to have a different level of sensitivity. So there's almost no way to standardize it then. Because for one person who may need to throw out their fabric couch, another person may feel fine around it and not see the value in throwing out their couch.
So that's where things get really tricky. What I typically do is I advise look we have porosity, it's in the IIC S520, all the different classes of porosity between porous, non-porous, semi-porous. Non-porous 100% guarantee you can clean, because there's nothing growing into it. So you're talking about removing particles on the surface that's very easy to do. Semi-porous gets a little more challenging because you have the potential for there to be some pores for things to grow into, which may require some abrasive methodology to remove.
Things like unsealed wood would be a good example of that. When you're dealing with just particles, the question is do I need to sand this unsealed wood if I don't see mold growing into? Probably not. Because now we're just dealing with the removal of particles. But the question becomes will the rag frag when you wipe it, and make the microfiber ineffective at removing particles or will you be able to do it? So there's just so much gray area and so many variables there.
Then we talk about porous, right? And the real thing about porous is the cushions, the layers, right. Because if you look at a microscope, mold being 25 to 50 times smaller than what the eye can see, picture that with a microscope looking at a fabric couch, for example, those threads are going to become much larger openings when you're looking under a microscope at that level, meaning that these mold spores can pass through these threads into the layers of the cushion. What's the real danger there? In my opinion, I think what happens when people are reacting to these types of things as they sit down on their couch, there's compression, right? That happens, there's particles that now can potentially be released as you sit down under our breathings under the body.
So for someone who's really sensitive, if they're going to react around their couch, that's probably not something that they're going to want to do, they're going to want to take more of an extra step to taking those things out. Someone who's less sensitive may want to say, you know what, do the best you can to clean. Now, again kind of going back to philosophy here, if you're doing 99% of reduction everywhere else, is having a contaminated couch going to be what pushes you over the edge? I don't know that we know that answer.
But I think that if you're concerned about the overall cost of everything and you're just doing what you can, do what you can. And if that couch doesn't make you feel well over time, and you feel great everywhere else except when you're sitting on that couch, well then you know it's time to get rid of the couch. So it's got to be more of like an investigation process with contents.
In terms of your actual clothes, we have borax, people are having great success cleaning their clothes at borax. We have ec3 laundry added, people are having great success there. I’m sure more and more options will come out over time. The reality of it I think that we've come a long way. There are extreme cases of sensitivity where people are still noticing things when they're wearing certain pieces of clothes, and again, it's that simple. Throw those things away.
[01:17:46.22] Scott: So when you hear people talk about using things like bleach, for example. What do you think? And are there cases where smaller spot cleaning type things are appropriate, and are there tools that might be better than bleach for those types of situations?
[01:18:02.22] Michael R.: Absolutely. First off, bleach, it's registered as a pesticide. So there's really no reason to use bleach I think currently, especially if we're trying to reduce our overall footprint of toxins. Harsh chemicals and things like that, we don't need to use that anymore, there are alternative products out there. For example, hydrogen peroxide, also an oxidizer, so it will lighten your grout if you're using it for that purpose.
But it's going to turn convert back into water when it's inert, so therefore it's going to be much less toxic than the bleach that you're using. Therefore, cleaning purposes, you have products like Benefact, these thymol-based products, lots of botanical detergent type products. Again, we're looking at removing. I think when bleach was highly popular, bleach was thought as this product that'll just kill anything. But now as we're learning that the objective shouldn't be to kill anything, it should be to remove it, we don't really need to use bleach anymore.
[01:18:59.11] Scott: What are the criteria that you look at to say that a remediation was successful?
[01:19:04.29] Michael R.: Well, I think the number one thing is the person feeling better, are they noticing a difference? I should say, right? Because feeling better can be very convoluted in and of itself, especially dealing with certain different complex chronic issues. But is the person noticing a difference? I think that's kind of step one.
And when they're not, and I have people that aren't sometimes, or like I’m still not doing well and we're sticking by them to understand what else it could be. Was it literally a client call I had yesterday that was like I’m still having certain symptoms, we're having them do a new round of ERMI to see what's in the environment. We feel that the testing company possibly could have missed something, because let's face it, we don't have x-ray vision.
So we're kind of looking at alternative options to help that person. But that's what this is, this is a science project, and we're trying to correlate the science project with their health, and try to understand what can we do to make a difference. So I think the reality of the situation is that you have to kind of identify how this is impacting the person for the better, and it should be for the better because you are scientifically removing these components from their home.
[01:20:15.22] Scott: So the person feeling better obviously is a good criteria. But, would you look back at some of the testing like the mycotoxin testing and Actinos and endos, like are there things from a data perspective that you look at to say okay, yes, we did the job that we were aiming to do?
[01:20:31.29] Michael R.: Yes. So from like a contractual point of view, I think this will help answer that question. There are specific things that we look for. A, we want to see that the air tests are much lower than outside. I say much lower because that's kind of my own standard, I know the standard is as long as it's lower, we're good. But we really try to go and be above and beyond to improve this space, beyond where it was brought to us from. I also want to see that swabbing the areas, we're tape lifting the areas, show very minimal amounts of fragments left over.
Because at the end of the day, our process is going in, we're vacuuming, we're doing wet wiping. We should be removing like almost virtually every particle present at that point. So we want to see significant reductions in that particle count from the swabs tape lifts. We also want to see when we're doing the cleaning process, and if we're not doing the cleaning, we're typically advising and the clients are doing it themselves.
We want to see the mycotoxin reduction to not present. If you're removing the sources of mold, in some cases if they can't remove every source that may not be possible, but they are seeing lower reductions, we're seeing lower counts.
Basically, we want to see the overall environment improving scientifically, we want to see less particles, less sources there and I think that's kind of how we measure it, and we do guarantee it on all those fronts especially with endotoxins, mycotoxins we spell it out. And I think remediators should. One of the pain points that I’ve seen in the remediation industry is like you're essentially when you sign that contract, you're paying for labor and materials and the outcome is the outcome.
I understand some people do business that way, because they just don't know what the costs are. But I think we have to do better to try to understand what the process is and what it takes to do that process, so we can be inclusive. So that people can feel good knowing that if they spend a certain value, they're going to get something out of it.
[01:22:26.28] Scott: So let's talk a little more about that type of guarantee. So if post-testing does not show the problem has been resolved or improved, what options should a guarantee from a remediator provide the consumer in terms of next steps?
[01:22:41.03] Michael R.: So let's say we're remediating a kitchen, and the scope of work says to remediate the kitchen by removing the cabinets, removing some of the flooring that was impacted and maybe the wall behind the cabinets, right? There was a sink leak as an example. If that test shows that there's still mold present, I believe that the company should go back at no additional charge and remove a little bit more wall, a little bit more floor, whatever was really necessary to capture that.
I think that if we have that sort of accountability, it kind of forces us and our employees to really do a better job on the forefront, making sure they removed enough material. By that way, it really helps the client too. Because once people are locked into a budget, and I know the construction industry, we've all been part of it.
A $25,000 remodel ended up costing 30, they opened up a wall is a problem. But I think with remediation, we got to do better to control the cost. I see so many people get their foot in the door with a bill, and then it's like well, if that doesn't pass, there's a change order. And then at that point, it's more advantageous as a remediator to rack up a higher bill if they do take out less material and fail intentionally.
So I think the reverse side, because we have so many different issues in this industry, it should really be this more thing of like look if I’m touching your kitchen, I will guarantee it, because I already know and suspect that I got to take out this much material and I’m going to add 20 more percent just as a buffer to make sure that we get it all.
[01:24:08.27] Scott: Why might someone feel worse after a successful remediation? Are there scenarios where improving the environment maybe then allows that person to start detoxifying better, maybe they feel worse for a period of time? Or is someone feeling worse after a remediation always a sign that the remediation failed?
[01:24:28.12] Michael R.: Yes, I don't think I could comfortably say it's always a sign of remediation failing. I think it's something to take into consideration, and just make sure. I hate the word fail, only because it makes people feel like someone didn't do a good job, and that's not always the case, right? Some people wholeheartedly care and they really do a good job. But we're dealing with microscopic particles that we can't see. And so the only way to validate if we did do a good job as you will is by understanding what the data is after the fact.
So if we can kind of take a step back from failing and just looking at it, maybe there's a little bit more work to do, and the data will tell us whether or not we're actually done, I think it'll take a lot of pressure off people to say oh, the project better pass on the first shot. Because odds are, it probably is going to take two tries or so. But it doesn't necessarily mean that the person's going to magically walk in and like a light switch, they're all of a sudden 100 percent better. It's a journey, improving your health.
What I would say is they should notice some improvements, if you start charting all the different areas of what symptoms you have, you should see some improvement, but you just shouldn't have this expectation that all of a sudden, you're going to be cured if you will. Like there's still that internal process of having to detoxify, and dealing with some of the issues that your body is dealing with, that may take some time.
[01:25:56.23] Scott: In your experience, can a home be remediated to the point that a person can recover in the same home that they became ill? How often do you find that moving might actually be a better option for someone, and that remediation maybe isn't going to be able to get that environment to the point that a person needs to improve their health?
[01:26:15.12] Michael R.: So a client once asked me, they had a swimming pool in their basement, like literally, a swimming pool. And what it would take to remediate properly, and I said filling in your basement with cement and probably bulldozing the house and starting over, right? Because there are certain situations where remediating the house would be so complex that it would cost more to remediate and reconstruct than it would just be to start over.
I have had those difficult conversations with people, and have honestly told them that fact. As far as can a remediation always work? I think to the extent that you're willing to go the distance, the answer is yes. If you're on a limited budget, the answer isn't always yes, and I think that's what it really comes down to. It's there's always limitations on anything. But scientifically, can you? Yes, sure. I mean, even if you have issues between Joyce and Rim Joyce, you could essentially rebuild some of those things, right? Is it cost effective? No.
So I think it always depends on the situation, the path of water travel and honestly, how much it's going to cost. But I would say for the most part, we've been blessed with having amazing clients that listen to all advice, all the way around, did everything they could and they were getting better, right? And they are telling everybody about it, and how successful it was. I think for remediation, we only hear about the horror stories.
We hardly ever hear about the success stories. Michael Schantz actually said that to me yesterday, and I totally agree. Because the reality of it is, people are taking action, people are getting better, they are creating healthier environments. Not only on the reactive side, but on the proactive side too. So I think it just takes thinking outside the box and really diving into the science of it.
[01:28:03.29] Scott: In my experience, once the limbic system has been triggered by mold exposure, for example, sometimes even the smallest exposures, post remediation that the limbic system can still respond as if the threatening tiger is present when it's really not. So I’m wondering if you've observed any value in limbic system retraining in clients once the core issue itself has been remediated.
[01:28:27.19] Michael R.: Yes, I mean I think people a lot of having a lot of success with limbic system re-training, brain re-training, and there's a big PTSD that happens here, and I think it's a very traumatic experience to go through to have to throw away belongings, to have to tear your home apart, in some cases to have to move from your home.
So when you're dealing with that, almost any little trigger that happens. I mean, you could have had too much sugar that day, you're going to attribute it to a mold exposure. I think that's a real problem that we have to face, is kind of like how do we wrap our heads around some of the mental health aspects of this, and be able to include that as part of the handling process, because people need support.
A lot of people they struggle with this because their whole time that they've not been feeling well. Their doctors are telling them they're fine, there's nothing wrong with them, it's all in their head. They're getting professionals to come in and do air tests in the center of the room and tell them there's nothing wrong with your home. And so they're kind of being spun around.
And then once they finally have that aha moment and they find it, and they figure it all out, and they realize that this could be something that has been suspending these symptoms, it's a light at the end of the tunnel. But there's a fear that comes associated with that light at the end of the tunnel. Is it enough? Did I do everything right? And will this ever come back? And that threat is real. So any trigger that could be even external to the mold factor, the bacterial factor, can trigger that where people think that they're dealing with mold.
So I love a lot of these new techniques people are coming up with, all these different doctors are coming up with new ways to look at this. There are some psychiatrists that are getting into the mix, some psychologists that are getting in the mix, or they're trying new techniques to essentially cope with a lot of those factors, that fight or flight thing that kicks on. So I’m excited to see kind of how that unfolds.
[01:30:25.16] Scott: In our last few minutes together, I want to talk about some of your recommendations for maybe some of that proactive piece that you just mentioned. So let's talk a little about dehumidifiers, are there certain brands that can be best? Can the dehumidifiers themselves potentially be a source of mold, if they're not maintained properly?
And then what about people that live in low humidity environments, for example, and they're potentially adding moisture intentionally into a home? What's the ideal humidity level that we can address some of the low humidity problems, but minimize that water or moisture issue potential?
[01:31:00.27] Michael R.: Yes. So as far as branded dehumidifiers, there's some great ones out there Santa Fe, AprilAire two that come to mind. I think you always want a company that's great customer service, things do you break, you need replacements, things like that. In terms of dehumidifiers and industrial strength ones, I would go with more of an industrial strength one and like a crawl space or a basement. As opposed to the $200 ones we get at Home Depot and whatnot.
Those are going to be self-draining, so you need some sort of a drainage system like a sump pump to collect the water pump it out. The ones that you get at Home Depot as an example, they're going to be ones that you typically have to empty out a bucket all the time. Or because they're not industrial, they're a little, I guess more fragile, I see them break and leak quite a bit. Can they grow mold? Absolutely.
Just like any other appliance that you're dealing with water, where I see it happen the most is typically in that hose that it drains out of. So even in the industrial dehumidifiers, part of your annual service you want to change all the filters, clean up the unit, disinfect it and then probably change out the hose just to keep that clean, because you're going to have bacteria grow there too. So it's not a very expensive thing to do, and it's a good maintenance tip.
For people with humidifiers, I think the sweet spot really is between 40 and 50% humidity. Any lower you can cause structural damage to your wood, it dries everything out, can cause some discomfort. So I think you don't really want it too low, I mean I’ve had people are like it's 10%, I’m like that's far too low. You also don't want it too high, where mold can start to grow at 60% or higher relative humidity. So I think that 40 to 50 percent seems to be the sweet spot, 50 percent kind of being on the higher end. I think you can probably adjust it from season to season.
So during higher humidity months put it a little lower, lower humidity months you can set a little higher and be okay. So I think that's probably a better way to deal with the fluctuations. With humidity humidifiers, vaporizers all these new technologies that are coming out to kind of deal with that dry climate, you don't want to put so much humidity into the room that you see water droplets on the walls, and I’ve seen people do that and not realize that they're going a little overboard.
Get something with the humidistat, where you can set it and forget it. You also want to clean those, just like you would clean your dehumidifier, you want to clean humidifier. These are things that again, they harbor water, create an environment where mold and bacteria can begin to form, so you want to make sure you're cleaning them. How often to clean them, I would say maybe one to two weeks is fine. I don't think you'll have much of an issue there.
[01:33:41.23] Scott: Let's talk about the vacuum cleaner. So best vacuum cleaners for minimizing some of those water damaged building, organisms and particles and things of that nature and not stirring things up. I know some vacuum cleaners aren't sealed properly, and if you could really see what's coming out of them as you're using them, I think it potentially is making the problem worse. So what are your favorite tools in that realm?
[01:34:02.19] Michael R.: Believe it or not, a well-sealed and well-installed in-house vacuum cleaner is probably the best, because there's no recirculation that happens, it goes into that canister. So a lot of these particles are going to get trapped instead of recirculating your environment. I think that's the one claim the fame that they have. In terms of traditional vacuums, a true HEPA or a true ULPA as they now have would probably be the best option.
And the true meaning that it's not just the filter that's HEPA-rated or operated, it's the entire vacuum canister itself. And that why that's so important is because that's where leakage comes into play. If our vacuums not sealed well and it's not properly aerated, and we know for a fact that there is some leakage, it's going to continuously recirculate and create more opportunity for it to do just to come right back into our environment, which is kind of counterproductive to vacuuming. I think technology, filtration technology is improved, and I hope to see new vacuum cleaners coming out that can do much better than we currently do.
[01:35:06.08] Scott: Any current favorites?
[01:35:07.26] Michael R.: Probably my favorite just because it's on Amazon, it's actually the one that we use in people's homes is the Nilfisk Euroclean, it's a very great well sealed vacuum and it comes with vacuum bags which is another great thing to have. Vacuum bags because then you don't have to worry about the risk of contamination and opening it up, changing the bag and disposing of the contents of the vacuum.
[01:35:34.07] Scott: Let's talk a little bit about air filters. And so I think it's the same potential challenge with like some of the fogging concepts, where people just want to jump there and avoid the problem. Same thing with air filters, I think if you have a hole in the bottom of the boat, you need to fix the hole in the bottom of the boat, rather than baling off the water with paper towels. At the same time, I think air filtration can be fantastic. So are there any favorite air filtration systems that you like?
[01:35:59.29] Michael R.: Yes, you make a great point. We filter our water, filtering our air is probably a good thing. The company that I typically work with is a company called Intellipure, I've actually worked with them before, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting them and learning about their company and what they're all about and I think that's important to me, is really getting to know somebody and what they're trying to accomplish.
Intellipure for those that don't know helped open the Chicago schools and New York city schools during the pandemic, by upgrading their filtration in all the schools, so that was a really exciting thing to see. I think when it comes down to it, the reason I like products or products like theirs, is they focus on removing as small of a particle they possibly can, at the highest efficiency that they possibly can. Knowing that our microorganisms produce very tiny particles that typically pass through a lot of these filters, we see a lot of air purifiers that are more marketing and less actual effectiveness.
I don't want to name any names in a negative way, but there's been tons of that, where you actually look at their effectiveness and yes, it may be getting a smaller particle, but only 75 percent of the time. So the other 25% of the time they're passing right through, so there's a lot to be said about that.
I think if I don't care who you choose, there's a lot of great companies out there, just make sure you're looking at how small the particle am I getting out? How high of an efficiency? And the other things you may want to consider, either staying away from if you have certain sensitivities. Ozone, potentially ionization as well, I’ve had some people with sensitivities to those things. So you want to check those specs.
[01:37:35.17] Scott: I didn't know you like Intellipure, I’m glad you do. Mine is about six feet away from me sitting here in my room. So any thoughts on, we did talk a little about whole house filtration relative to Merv 16. Any thoughts on ultraviolet or HRVs or ERVs to improve indoor air quality?
[01:37:55.00] Michael R.: Yes. So ultraviolet, I mean I love the idea, right? We know that ultraviolet kills things, prevents them from growing as an example. I believe the science on it is it takes at least 10 seconds. So from the air perspective, it's not too helpful because the air passes through too fast, but if it's situated on the coil, I think it's a good deterrent.
But really, I mean the best of turn is just stopping the particles from getting to the coil in the first place through that Merv 16 filtration. So I would say if I’m picking anything and I only got a limited budget to pick, that's the bell and whistle I’m going for. In terms of HRV, ERV they all have their place. I think that they just like anything else, some have great filters, some don't.
Each manufacturer is going to have its own limitations. I see a lot of HRV and ERV systems installed in Florida into the ductwork, and my real concern there is introducing all that humidity so close to the coil can really create an interesting situation, where the ducks are sweating on the inside of them. And that's where I’ve seen some interesting mold issues.
So I think you know some of that's got to be a little more thoughtfully fleshed out, but the ideology behind bringing fresh air in is great. I think a lot of the issues we have in our homes is a lack of ventilation. So improving ventilation is always a good idea.
[01:39:19.28] Scott: What are the best resources for people to find both qualified IEPs and qualified remediators that understand working with people that are chronically ill? And I know you have some great resources on your website, but how can people access these resources?
[01:39:33.13] Michael R.: Yes, I know. I mean, I do have great resources on AllAmericanRestoration.com and TheMoldMedic.com in terms of some interview questions you may want to ask. But I think from the standpoint of the, what's the high-level thing you want to ask an IEP is great question is how long do you expect this to take, right?
Because if they're going to be in and out in 15 minutes 20 minutes, I don't think they're going to be able to go through an entire house and look at every nook and cranny and see what potential problems you may want to investigate. If we've ever gotten a home inspection when you bought a home, it took forever, right? It was many hours, and that's how thorough of an inspection you want to have, otherwise, you're likely to get someone to just do some air samples in the center of your home.
The other thing for remediators is once you have that data from the IEP, you'll be able to build out an action plan, and you'll have this action plan of which areas are the worst, where do I start? And then you want to bring it to a remediator and you want to say okay, here's what we found, here's the action plan, a, do you agree? Because you'll have people that'll say I don't agree with this, I’m going to do my own thing, and that may be a cause of concern.
The other thing you may want to consider is do you guarantee that you can handle these issues if I give you the job, because if you're just going to charge me for labor and materials and this can be an ongoing thing, and truthfully, you may never be able to fully solve this, that would be another cause of concern.
So I think high level those are probably the things to really zoom in on and just try to identify, do I have someone that really understands how to help me another question? Maybe asking what's your level of comfort ability with someone who's hypersensitive. Because I think once you start mentioning hypersensitivity for folks who really don't have good experience with that, it may ward them off. Which is a good thing unless they're willing to really roll up their sleeves and figure it out.
[01:41:24.13] Scott: And my understanding is that through your company, that you have people that essentially can help people with remediation in all states in the country. Is that right?
[01:41:33.24] Michael R.: That is correct.
[01:41:35.04] Scott: Okay, beautiful. That's a fantastic resource. So tell us a little bit about your book, The Mold Medic, how people can find it. I personally found it really helpful, so I want to make sure people know about that.
[01:41:44.28] Michael R.: Yes, thank you. It's available online pretty much anywhere Amazon, Target, Walmart you name it, Barnes and Noble. It is available in both pdf form for an eBook, and it is also available in a soft cover copy. So if you like to read the old-fashioned way like me with that book in your lap, you can do that.
And if you prefer to read it on an iPad or something similar, you can do that as well. I wrote the book kind of through this 10-year journey that I’ve been on and put out everything that I’ve learned up until about June 2020 is when I finished it, edit it and put it out for sale as of December. So there's definitely some great stuff in there, I think it's a great starting point.
And there's a lot more that we've learned over the past couple of years that I continuously put out on social media, blog posts on the websites that I mentioned earlier. So it's a wealth of information as a starting point, and we continue to expand on it. So I think it's a great resource for you to check out, and then it'll lead you to some of our other platforms of free information.
[01:42:46.20] Scott: My last question is the same for every guest, and that is what are some of the key things that you do on a daily basis in support of your own health?
[01:42:53.11] Michael R.: Every morning, my goal is to take a walk. I live in Florida, where being outside all the time is a luxury that I have. So first thing I try to do every morning, and I say try, because let's face it things come up and put us out of balance of what our goals usually are. But I try to take a walk, go get a coffee down at the store not too far, take a nice walk back. It's about a half hour to get the body moving.
I also have this this device behind me, so it's one of those at-home workout machines or in front of me I should say sorry, that I use in my spare time to keep my body in motion. Eating clean is really important to me, luckily, my wife is equally as important to her.
So that's very helpful considering when you're on the same page and you're eating the same type of diet, it's super helpful. I’m very mindful of my water intake, and of course, I pay attention to air quality, which I think is a very important piece of the puzzle.
[01:43:52.01] Scott: This was such a great conversation. I appreciate the passion that you have for doing this work, the quality that you really bring to your work knowing that this is a very complex arena. People definitely struggle a lot with mold and water damage building related issues.
And so it's really great that we have you as a resource, and I just want to thank you so much for sharing generously of your knowledge and information with us today. So thank you so much, Michael.
[01:44:16.04] Scott: Thanks, Scott. I really appreciate you creating this platform for me to do something like that. So, thank you.
[01:44:21.20] To learn more about today's guest, visit TheMoldMedic.com.
[01:44:31.11] Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you're enjoying the show, please leave a positive rating or review, as doing so will help the show reach a broader audience. To follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or MeWe, you can find me there as better health guy.
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[01:45:06.12] Thanks for listening to this BetteHealthGuy Blogcast with Scott, your better health guy. To check out additional shows and learn more about Scott's personal journey to better health, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com.
The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.
Why You Should Listen
In this episode, you will learn about recovering from toxic mold illness.
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About My Guest
My guest for this episode is Bridgit Danner. Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDN-P was working as an acupuncturist in Portland, Oregon when her health started to deteriorate. She learned a lot, tried a lot of things and even completed a functional health coaching program in an effort to heal herself and become a better practitioner. Although several things kind of helped, nothing helped completely, and she hit rock bottom in the winter of 2014. Soon after she discovered toxic mold in her 100-yr old home and began the long journey of home and body repair. Bridgit got into the natural medicine field in 2000 as a young environmentalist. She practiced as an acupuncturist and integrative clinic owner for 13 years, performing well over 10,000 sessions, before transitioning to the online space as a functional health coach and educator. Bridgit loves to teach about everyday detox, functional living and toxic mold illness. She is the founder of a line of detox supplements called Functional Detox Products.
- Where is toxic mold most commonly encountered?
- What are the symptoms observed in those with mold illness?
- How does one find proper testing and remediation resources?
- What are the pros and cons of the EMMA and ERMI?
- How can the body be tested for mold illness?
- Does mold illness activate chronic infections?
- What are some items that damage energy production?
- What can one do if they cannot move?
- What belongings can be taken to a new environment?
- What are some common issues to be aware of when remediating?
- Can limbic system retraining be helpful?
- What are some key tools for supporting detoxification?
- How can sleep be optimized?
- How might healthy fats be supportive of healing?
- What binders might be helpful?
- What is the role of sauna in mold illness recovery?
- Are coffee enemas a game changer in mold illness?
Connect With My Guest
March 1, 2022
Transcript Disclaimer: Transcripts are intended to provide optimized access to information contained in the podcast. They are not a full replacement for the discussion. Timestamps are provided to facilitate finding portions of the conversation. Errors and omissions may be present as the transcript is not created by someone familiar with the topics being discussed. Please Contact Me with any corrections.
[00:00:00.27] Welcome to BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts, empowering your better health. And now, here's Scott, your Better Health Guy.
[00:00:14.09] The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.
[00:00:34.15] Scott: Bridgit Danner was working as an acupuncturist in Portland, Oregon when her health started to deteriorate. She learned a lot, tried a lot of things, and even completed a functional health coaching program in an effort to heal herself and become a better practitioner. Although, several things kind of helped nothing helps completely and she hit rock bottom in the winter of 2014.
Soon after, she discovered toxic mold in her 100-year-old home and began the long journey of home and body repair. Bridgit got into the natural medicine field in 2000 as a young environmentalist. She practiced as an acupuncturist and integrative clinic owner for 13 years, performing well over ten thousand sessions, before transitioning to the online space as a functional health coach and educator. Bridgit loves to teach about everyday detox, functional living, and toxic mold illness. She is the founder of a line of detox supplements called Functional Detox Products. And now, my interview with Bridgit Danner.
[00:01:39.15] Scott: Bridgit Danner is our guest today, and we'll be talking about recovering from toxic mold illness. Thanks for being here, Bridgit.
[00:01:46.10] Bridgit: Thanks for having me, Scott.
[00:01:48.04] Scott: You just finished hosting the Toxic Mold Masterclass, which was a fantastic online event with some amazing speakers. What were a few of the aha moments for you that you took away from hosting that event?
[00:02:01.20] Bridgit: Yes, a couple of things for me. One was that food sensitivities is a really common symptom of mold. So even though I was experiencing that and just tons of people out there experiencing that, I hadn't really put two and two together that that's a really common symptom. Another thing I really loved learning was more about the brain and how it's affected, and that it can recover. I don't know if I asked Dr. Ackerley if some things can't completely recover, but in my own journey, I’ve been worried that certain things I wasn't going to be able to get back, even though I’ve had a lot of gains.
So she really explained like the mechanism of what happens in the brain, and it gave me a lot of hope for myself and hope for my clients, so that was great. And then probably lastly was learning more about the limbic system, and how it gets affected. And even there seems to be a trend in changing the order of treatment to focus more on the limbic system first, and just visualizing for me, like what happens when we inhale mycotoxins?
Where they go in the center of the head there, right in that key area where the HPA axis is, in the limbic system, and there's a barrier there that the mycotoxins can break down. So I think understanding that for me was just like that's of course, it's so potent on the brain and the hormones right away, yes.
[00:03:33.14] Scott: Yes, and we'll talk more about the limbic system, but I agree. I mean, for me personally and many clients that I work with, incorporating that into a protocol really potentiates the healing potential in my experience. It's not the do this and that's all you have to do as you well know, but it can be really fantastic.
So let's talk more about your personal health journey, what was it that led you to becoming an expert on the topic of toxic mold? What was your personal mold story?
[00:04:01.12] Bridgit: So my story began, although you know who knows what other moldy homes I was in. But I moved into a moldy home when I got engaged in like 2006 or seven, and I didn't know it, but I lived in the pacific northwest in an older home, that's pretty much all the homes there. It's always humid. Yes, again, we didn't know for maybe eight years, ten years that we had an issue. Although, looking back, I can definitely see the signs were there. So really, I was struggling with my health even though I was an acupuncturist.
So I kept learning more, doing more, studying functional medicine, really dialing in my diet, and doing everything I could and it would just be up and down up and down, and then it got even worse. Like I really hit a low, I got a strep throat, I had to take antibiotics, I didn't recover. I had just started working exclusively from home, so there's another ding, ding. I was born tired, and I was getting iv therapy, detoxing like nothing was helping and I was just like there's got to be something else, like I’m doing everything I can.
Which I now kind of is one of my taglines and like if you're doing everything you can and you're just not getting better, or you're getting worse, like there's another element to look for. So luckily a naturopath, like collegiate, asked me about my home, which I think is a great question for practitioners or just body owners, has anything changed in your home?
And part of what came out of that conversation was we had some water intrusion in the basement, we had always had a musty basement, we got a mold inspector and that was the beginning of a big health journey, a learning journey which sucked. Some of the symptoms were really severe, suicidal thoughts like twitching eyelid, like just crazy stuff, was going on. But in the end, I’m actually thankful for everything I’ve learned and the trajectory it took my life on and my career on.
[00:06:10.12] Scott: Yes, that's beautiful. It's nice when you can take your pain and turn it into your passion, or your mess and turn it into your mission, right? It's just absolutely beautiful. In the book, the ultimate toxic mold recovery guide, take back your health, home, and life, you say that interaction with toxic mold comes from buildings, vehicles, food, and from the body itself. So which of these sources do you believe are the most health-impacting, and which buildings seem to impact your clients most commonly?
[00:06:42.23] Bridgit: Yes, so it's definitely buildings and it's definitely the home, because we spend the most time in the home. Even if you feel like you don't, even if you're just sleeping and eating, that's most of the day. So it is usually a home just by frequency, but it can be a workplace.
Some people literally live in a boat, in an RV, so those things can be affected. The food is quite secondary from what I’ve learned. In this day and age, we don't have a rampant, excessive amount of mold in food, that was more like outbreaks that would happen 500 years ago or whatever. So while mold in food is not our ideal, it's not usually going to bring you down to the level of like serious illness that the building can.
[00:07:31.12] Scott: Yes, I totally agree. It's been interesting during the pandemic to see as people were pretty much in their homes and not in their workplaces. Some people got a lot better, and some people got a lot worse, right? If the mold was from their workplace, then being at home all the time was great.
And then sadly for many people when they started being at home exclusively, they found that was actually increasing their symptoms, because they were getting additional exposures.
Speaking of symptoms, talk to us about the symptoms that you most commonly see in your clients dealing with mold illness. What tips you off? And then tell us about your mold quiz and how people can find that.
[00:08:09.19] Bridgit: Yes. I think the most two common are brain fog and fatigue, those are pretty easy to pick. Beyond that, it's a bit of a crap shoot. I think maybe that food sensitivities could be number three, I do think that is common. But it can be increased airborne allergies, skin rashes, hormonal irregularities, rapid weight gain, loss of muscle mass, it's just like a long laundry list which makes it hard to diagnose in a sense, similar to Lyme or Hashimoto’s itself.
And then frankly, people end up with several diagnoses too, and all the symptoms overlap because it's often caught so late. But yes, we have a quiz about symptoms in your home, so to speak, and symptoms in the body that are kind of attached to the book resource page when you buy the book. Because we couldn't, I didn't put for instance all the citations in the book because it just would have made it really heavy and long. So we just have a backend page to just keep exploring.
[00:09:16.06] Scott: I see too many people getting mold inspectors or even mold remediators that don't do proper testing, don't do proper remediation. So how do you suggest your clients find someone that knows how to properly test the first time? If there's an issue, how to properly remediate? Are there specific companies that you work most closely with or resources that you refer your clients to?
[00:09:39.01] Bridgit: Yes, there's a few I can mention. But mostly, it's being an informed consumer before you make those choices, and we were not. We got lucky by picking a good inspector, we didn't make as good choices with remediation and it cost us a lot. It cost us in money and health, and stress. So it's really just becoming informed.
Like say you want to buy anything, any big purchase. Like you want to buy a new phone, and there's certain things that are important to you. Like you don't want it to be too big or you want to have a lot of memory or whatever. Like it's the same thing with inspection and remediation, like what questions are you going to ask?
So one thing that is important if you get an inspector is a diversity of ways that there are testing, they can't just run one air test or they can't just visually inspect. It has to be a combination of a lot of elements, because one element could come out clean where another is just full of mold. So asking, like what kind of tests are you going to run?
What's going to be in the report? Do you have a sample report? It's usually going to be, I think fairly expensive, like at least a thousand bucks, because they are doing all that work. They are there for a few hours, they're running tests that they have to run to a lab, so it's thoroughness really. And then remediation is kind of similar, it's not just doing the work, it's doing it carefully and then really what are you as an owner doing about your stuff that gets displaced, that's a giant error that we made, was just displacing things to another area of the house, and now we spread the mold.
A lot of remediators don't understand the health issues and that your stuff is affected, they're more like well, I know how to like take out the drywall and run the air scrubber, and that's great. But if your health is affected, there's just a lot more nuance to it, and you just need to like get yourself informed.
Like I tend to do first and think later, unfortunately, you really need to think first and do second in this case, and it's tough because your brain isn't working right and it's a lot of decisions to make. So get help, get support, and yes, just make informed decisions.
[00:12:03.17] Scott: The one resource that I found helpful that listeners can potentially benefit from is the International Society for Environmentally Acquired Illness; it's ISEAI.org. If you go to their page there, they have a list of practitioners but also a list of IEPs or indoor environmental professionals that can potentially be helpful. You definitely want someone that understands mold illness, that has familiarity with SIRs or chronic inflammatory response syndrome, not someone that's just doing mold testing with air samples as Bridgit mentioned, that essentially, we'll say oh, everything looks fine here.
So really important to get that resource right, I can't tell you how many times people have said they've had their home tested, but when you get the right kind of testing, they find a very different picture, so totally agree. What are your thoughts in terms of the pros and cons of the EMMA versus the ERMI, and do you also utilize any mold plate testing?
[00:13:01.06] Bridgit: Yes. So again, with testing, there's just a ton of pros and cons, and we're going to talk about these three things you asked about. But there are even more options than that, right? So the EMMA test is a dust test for mycotoxins.
What I like about it as a health practitioner is the mycotoxins are an element that's really making you sick, so I think that's interesting to know about. I think the downside with that company right now is their reporting and interpretation is not helpful, it's not really what the person wants as far as knowing what to do next. Like they just aren't breaking it down really well. The ERMI was not really designed exactly for this type of thing, like residential home decision-making.
I definitely don't recommend just ordering an ERMI on your own and thinking now you've got it figured out, because you don't know where the mold came from. And it's more a test like not all the strains are toxic, actually very few of them are, maybe similar allergenic. But it's mostly measuring like the load of toxins indoor versus out.
To me, it's not a super helpful test. I think there are some people I forgot to mention companies earlier like Brian Karr has looked at so many ERMIs, like he can interpret that, his Instagram is @Moldfinders. I think he's developing like a software where you can enter your info and compare it. So that's awesome, and then play testing, I used to really pooh-pooh it, but I did learn more about the company ImmunoLytics, who will do an interpretation of your plate testing.
There are so many factors, and frankly, cost is one factor. So if you are renting or you have a job in a cubicle and you're just wondering, a plate testing can be a great place to start. It's not perfect, but it's very affordable. If you get like a super high positive on one of those tests, now you know to keep looking.
[00:14:58.00] Scott: Yes. And that site that you were talking about from Brian Karr, ERMICode.com, that is something that is available now. I agree with the EMMA, it's interesting. The downside has been that you cannot calculate a HERSTSMI-2 from an EMMA, so you get some numbers back, but it's not as easy to put it into an algorithm that you can then say oh, this is a real serious issue versus oh, maybe it's not such a big deal.
I do also like the ImmunoLytics plate testing, I tend to like to have an ERMI and the plate testing, because unfortunately, the plates themselves miss a lot of things like Stachybotrys for example. So it's kind of painting the picture using these tools. And then ideally, if financial resources are not a constraint, jumping right to a Brian Karr or Corey Levy or somebody like that that can really do deep testing. Yes, it's going to be more expensive.
Chances are you're going to save that money and more and lots of time in your health recovery struggle by investing that if you have that as an option. Let's get into some of the more debated areas, which is how do you test the person? How do you test the body for mold? Do you use the CIRS lab biomarkers? Do you like urine mycotoxin testing? Any preference on which lab has been most helpful for your clients? How do you evaluate the client that is sitting or virtually sitting in front of you?
[00:16:21.13] Bridgit: Yes. I actually find this to be less controversial in my mind than the home. I think urine mycotoxin testing is fantastic, it's accessible. I’ve only seen one false negative so to speak, and we can discuss why. I think it's great. I think we use blood markers when we didn't have the urine testing. I actually never run blood markers for any of this stuff.
So we can talk about other labs I do like, but I just feel like that's an old-fashioned unspecific way. They're mostly markers of inflammation, right? And you may want to keep an eye on those as you progress, it's just not something I feel like is the best use of my client’s money. So mainly, the two urine companies are great planes and vibrant wellness.
We use right now Great Plains because of the way you can add on some additional tests that can be also helpful for the client. However, I really like the Vibrant Wellness report, and they have a lot of other great tests like for Lyme and food sensitivities and stuff, so I think they're both good contenders.
[00:17:27.08] Scott: And RealTime Labs also has a urine mycotoxin test that I know some people really like. Another comment maybe that I’ll throw in, which really was tied more to testing of the home environment and I’m wondering if you've seen this. But over the last year, I’m seeing more testing being done on the bacterial side of things.
So we talk about mold illness, but really it's water damage building illness, and there's a lot of different bacterial endotoxins, there are actinomyces. Things that can also create this CIRS picture, that maybe you're in an environment where the mold test is actually very low, but the Actinos and endos are very high.
So that's an area that's still kind of emerging, and how validated that is not entirely clear. I know some practitioners look at it and some don't, but that's another aspect of testing that I’m seeing more people starting to do. Do you have any comments or experience with that?
[00:18:23.28] Bridgit: Yes. I think I had really just learned about it from a few of the experts in the Master class, and I was like oh, that's cool that you're doing that. Like yes, it's just another burden on the body. I think we can get a little too narrowly focused like about mycotoxin strains or this or that, and it's like it's not just a mycotoxins, that's just something we figured out how to test, right? There are also VOCs and like cell fragments, there's different stuff coming off.
The main focus and I love some of my new remediator friends point this out, it's like it's just like in functional medicine you have to go to the root, all these things are just still the branches. The root in your home is the water damage, right? And there's a whole cocktail of things, even like Candida count higher in the home because of it, which I think is really interesting.
So we can test for all these individual burdens potentially, or sometimes we can just say we know there's a problem here, because we see water damage and you're quite sick. I like testing, 100%, I like testing. But I have also been through this and I know how much it costs and the extent of it. Even for me, I didn't have a urine mycotoxin in the beginning, because my ex-husband had one and we're like that's enough.
Actually, I’m glad we tested him, but we only tested him so he could get a leave of absence from work, which we never really needed, because people don't really recognize this illness anyways. So it was just kind of oh, you have chronic fatigue. So I think with testing, I’m really excited about what's coming out, and I think 20 years from now we'll be having a really different exciting conversation. But at the same time, a lot of this stuff can be treated fairly broadly. Like your gut is going to be compromised, you are going to have more infections. You're a specialist in Lyme, EBV is probably going to be present, like lots of things are going to start to happen when the home's broken down and the body's broken down. So yes, it definitely is like a constellation of factors you're now dealing with.
[00:20:28.20] Scott: When you're attempting to get the full picture of what might be happening with your client's health, what are some of the other key tests that you might explore to paint that initial picture?
[00:20:38.22] Bridgit: So again, I would say with testing, magic wand, blank check, we could run a lot of tests. I think the GI MAP, gut test or similar tests is really helpful, because we can get more specific with gut protocols. Those don't necessarily have to come first. We run some blood labs on like thyroid, blood sugar, red blood cell count, white blood cell count, vitamin D status, those things have been really helpful. Sometimes what you think is the problem isn't always exactly the problem.
So something like red blood cell, recycling can be really damaged by mold. So it's just could be another reason you're fatigued as you're anemic. So I’m going to do that, we have to step back to some of the basics. So yes, I like some blood labs, you often have a thyroid issue and a Hashimoto’s issue. I like hormone testing; we use the DUTCH.
Again, it's more like symptomatic, but some of those symptoms and hormones being off can really affect your quality of life, so that's that can be interesting. We do offer organic acid testing that can be helpful to see how you're detoxifying and maybe some other infections you have. We offer the EnviroTOX test. We used to offer an EBV test and a MARCoNS test, now it's just sort of like as needed, it's not on our main site. Those are mostly what we use.
I mean, I think if I had to pick two, I might just say mycotoxin, GI MAP. But you had asked me beforehand about hormones and about when to kind of add those, and I actually think that would be a really fantastic piece for many people to add sooner, just because it's going to give you some energy to be kind of getting through this process if you can get your hormones working better.
[00:22:25.25] Scott: So when you're working then with the client with mold illness, do you commonly find that these infections are also stressing the body and that we need to address those to restore health? You mentioned Lyme, you mentioned EBV. What are some of the most common infections that you see, and is this the result of mold and mycotoxins leading to immune dysregulation, that then allows these chronic infections to activate and further stress the body?
[00:22:50.25] Bridgit: Yes. In my opinion, it's definitely, when mold weakens the immune response and creates all this rampant inflammation, breaks down the gut, you're just going to be more susceptible to infections. Either latent ones coming back, or new ones, all the things, parasites, EBV. So yes, they do usually need to be addressed, although, maybe not a hundred percent of the time.
Like you as the host need to get stronger, and that's I think something to focus on sort of first, because you need to have some fortitude to even like get through these protocols. They're not always easy, they're creating die-off, that kind of a thing. So you've got to have some strength to be able to do it, and then sort of pick and choose when you are ready to do it.
So I usually am having people do some killing protocols so to speak over time, but yes not all at once. I think as I get more seasoned as a practitioner, I do have more of a sense of like strengthening the host, doing the overall things. I’m really having an emphasis on that, versus killing. Although, I will say you your talk, or I picked your brain during the Masterclass, and I’m still having some histamine issues, and you're like well, you still have a trigger.
So I thought well, it's probably my gut, like I don't know really what else it would be. So I’ve been doing some gut reconditioning lately and it is intense, it's intense when you get in there and try to kill parasites. Like I literally passed parasites two days last week, and I didn't feel great. It kicks up inflammation in a big way.
So you have to be careful, and I really think that is probably one thing that's best supervised. I am a big fan of doing things on your own. But if I’m sick, first thing I need to do is kill parasites, well, guess what? You're going to probably end up hurting. So I think you just have to, just be careful to pick and choose the pace of that type of thing.
[00:24:57.00] Scott: I’m going to blend the next couple of questions that I was going to ask together, and those are on the topic of hormones and also on the gut itself. So when there's a hormonal issue, when there's maybe a gut issue, do you like to support those right at the beginning or do you first like to address the mold and mycotoxins?
I know Ann Corson says that mycotoxins are like throwing sparks on a silk scarf, in terms of their impact to the gut lining. So do you start right at the beginning with hormone support and gut support? Do you work on the mold and mycotoxin piece first? How do you organize the order of those?
[00:25:35.00] Bridgit: So mainly, how I organize is environment first, you can't get well in a sick environment. And then doing basics, I put ten kinds of, I’m going to say basic, but ten important things in the book. Because you can't skip certain things, you can't say I sleep two hours a night, but now I’m going to do this intense detox, that's not going to work out for you. Get those basic things in order, and then you can start doing some detoxing and see what you tolerate, everyone's quite different. Well, let me do the hormone question first.
Actually, you really sparked like some thinking when you sent me these questions, because I do think you could get into hormones pretty early on potentially with just good things coming out of it. And again, it's probably working with a practitioner, and it's for potentially doing some hormone replacement, so now you need someone who's licensed to do that. I know that could be a little controversial or whatever, but when I think back to my own journey and when I added hormones and how I did and when I refused to, I actually think I could have really benefited from working that piece a lot sooner.
A lot of stuff came back online for me, when I started to take hormones, and I did it really late in the process. So I think that's something that we can consider. I think people can get really hung up on like the order of things, I would say the thing I said be careful about killing protocols too soon. Whenever you start something new, if you start new hormones, I remember the first time a practitioner tried to put me on thyroid hormones which was pretty early, it was just like the wrong prescription and I was like sweating profusely and I was like forget it.
So anything new you try, yes, do monitor, do think about changes, not everybody fits everything. If I had switched to a different thyroid medication at that point, that would have been a fantastic idea. But I just was so unfamiliar and I was like I don't know about this, I’m just sweating. So I think the hormone piece could generally probably be added sooner. The gut piece, I think you can start reconditioning the gut in a gentle way, pretty soon switching to more whole foods that you tolerate. It's all about tolerance. Like if your gut is really wrecked, some people can barely eat any foods and it's a very slow process to get more foods in the diet.
But you could potentially be just increasing the quality of your diet, increasing fibers antioxidants, increasing fats, like let's not disregard how good those are for the gut, really powerful. Even when I was quite sick and still living in my moldy home, the peace of me having such a great diet I think it did help, it did help me survive like a tough time. So you can do that piece pretty safely I think early on if you tolerate it, and then later be working on more of the major like gut reconditioning and killing.
[00:28:28.22] Scott: So energy or ATP production in the mitochondria is really the currency of healing. What are some of the things that you see that damage our ability to produce energy?
[00:28:39.14] Bridgit: Yes. ATP are pretty sensitive; a lot of things can damage them. Under exercising, over-exercising, shallow breathing, all the toxins in the environment, certainly mycotoxins, nutrient deficiency. So they need a lot of love, but luckily, a lot of the things you do for them just overlap everything else you're going to do for your health about detox and clean living and that kind of thing.
So I think if you are new to the, if you're listening to Scott’s podcast, you're not probably new to these concepts. But let's say you were, all the things you're going to do benefit your mitochondria, and then you can potentially get a little bit more specific if you do feel like that's an issue for you. I think for me, Coq10 has been really helpful.
I learned from Dr. Kharrazian this like hydrogen tablets, you can put in your water. It's just like a high antioxidant, so if you have trouble exercising, that could be a way to tolerate that better. Exercise was a big needle mover for me, and I was really resisting the idea when I was at my sickest. I was like are you kidding me? Like you can barely walk, you want me to exercise? But I was amazed at how quickly I could build up and how much it did help me.
[00:29:58.00] Scott: There is more awareness today, thanks to Dr. Dale Bredesen on the potential contribution of Lyme and mold in terms of neurodegenerative conditions, Alzheimer’s for example. What have you observed in those being contributors to more serious neurological conditions?
[00:30:15.19] Bridgit: Yes. What I’ve mostly seen, because I think that people who come to us are a little younger, is that I see more like muscle wasting or like loss of motor function as far as neurological or like brain fog. Can't remember words, getting lost and I did do a little more research before we came on about one of Dale's articles and he's calling it type 3 Alzheimer’s, and it's like a cortical area of the brain, and it's super interesting. The guy is amazing, like kudos to him for how much he's contributed to this field.
So I think what I’m seeing is often more of the brain fog, and it's still very troubling, right? You can't do your job properly, you're afraid you're going to leave the stove on or whatever. I usually am not seeing people who are in full-blown Alzheimer’s personally. Not to say it isn't happening, they just aren't my clients right now.
But I think it's very interesting, Alzheimer’s is like then, I think it's like the number one health concern that people have about aging, and we don't want to lose our ability to think as we age, it really scares us, as well as sure it scares me too. And a lot of that work can be done now, right? Are we detoxifying our homes and our bodies? Are we eating real food? Are we doing the things to protect our brain? I don't really say make arguments about why people should listen to me about mold, but if you need some more reasons, yes, some of those long-term diseases are very much linked to mold exposure and that's scary.
So it's not just like oh, this inconvenient expensive thing, it's really like the rest of your life you're looking at. Like if I had stayed in that home, I would be in a bad way right now. Who knows what? I may have ended my life, I may be in a wheelchair, like serious stuff, like that's where I was going. So you do have to give it the gravity it deserves, because it's really serious.
[00:32:17.17] Scott: In the book, you talk about the fact that you cannot get well living in mold, I agree. So how do you counsel your clients that cannot create a safe environment for their healing? What can they do?
[00:32:28.24] Bridgit: Yes. A lot of people do have to move, and something I say and it's easier for me to say because I’ve been through it, is you often really have to humble yourself, inconvenience yourself, you can be a 50-year-old professional and feel like you're basically homeless, you have to like live with a friend, you have to live in a hotel. Like it's not a great feeling, it's hard on your ego. But that's not really what this is about, right? It's about your physical health and then like your long-term health like we just discussed.
So you have to make some tough decisions and that's easier for some people than others, I think personality-wise, it's easier for some people than others, and then you are literally sick and tired. So the idea of moving, I mean, I was this way, my ex-husband was really the one who helped push us along on the journey, because I was sicker and I was like I got all my stuff here, I’m working from home, like I don't want to deal with this, I don't want to move, like there's resistance, but you have to do it.
So people ask me well, what if I just have a little problem in my bathroom? Yes, maybe there are some cases where it's not a big deal. But if you're coming to me, or you're coming in Scott, you're probably quite sick. And if there's a mold problem in the home, you're probably going to have to make some radical changes.
So I don't know if you want to say like I’m a little tough love, I’m just being, I’m just honest is what it is. And some people listen to me, some people don't. I have clients who don't, frankly, they're like oh I got to wait till my son graduates high school or what have you, and I can only do what I can do.
[00:34:10.21] Scott: So do you find that proper remediation can allow some of your clients to remain in their home? Or do you find that the majority of those that are really significantly impacted generally need to move in order to move the needle?
[00:34:24.28] Bridgit: I think remediation is possible, it has to be very careful and very careful, and that's still quite expensive. Some people think oh, it's cheaper to remediate, maybe not. It's probably the same pretty much, because unless you're going to disclose, you've got to fix a home before you sell it and your stuff is all affected. If you move, it's the same boat. So I would say 80% people probably move if I had to pick a number, I’m not totally sure.
But you know yes, Mike Rubino, he probably follows remodeling some homes of the rich and famous, and yes, but it's costly, but some that they're staying in the home. But there's other, I just been getting to know Shemane Nugent, they literally tore down a multi-million-dollar home because they had mold in the wall. So anybody can be affected.
[00:35:16.23] Scott: Talk to us about the process of moving from a water-damaged environment to a new hopefully clean environment. What can you take? What can you not take? How do you minimize the risk of potentially contaminating a new space with personal belongings from the old space? How did you manage that process?
[00:35:33.01] Bridgit: Yes. So we made major mistakes. We moved stuff in cars and then lost those cars. We moved stuff into a temporary home, and then ruin that home. We made a lot of mistakes. But as we went along, we sort of learned from our mistakes too. In the end, we got rid of, Scott, like I literally have one Tupperware tub left of my old life, like I have almost nothing. Because as we would try to save this and that, we realize this isn't working.
So one thing you can do is put some things in storage that you really like to save. Make sure that storage unit isn't humid and then revisited it in a few months when you've been in new space, when you've had some healing, and see how those objects make you feel. If you are like me, you're going to have major mold rage as soon as that door gets opened, and that was basically our indicator.
Even still, there was a couple items I tried, I had a brand new $2,000 computer that I could never recover, and I kept trying, I kept putting it back in the box, cleaning it, digging it out, doing the air, pressurized air, it just never worked. So I boot that thing up and I would get sick every time.
So it is a little hard to answer, I would just err on the side of think that everything is compromised, like literally everything. Your clothes, your books, your computer, all your things really, unfortunately, I have to go a little extreme on that, because I think it's a slippery slope of thinking oh, well, I’m just bringing this, I’m just bringing that and the next thing you know you've contaminated your new space.
[00:37:10.27] Scott: So let's talk then a little bit about clothing, linens. Do you think that things like vinegar, essential oils, baking soda, borax, can those be helpful? Can we save some of these items? Are there commercially available products in that realm that you find helpful? Or would you say you know what, don't even attempt to do this?
[00:37:31.06] Bridgit: If you are quite sick, I would pretty much say don't attempt it. If you feel like there's some gray area, where you weren't that sick or this or that, yes, there's a company called E3 that makes some laundry stuff, I think putting your stuff out in the sun can be helpful after you've washed it. But Scott, you can literally contaminate your washing machine and your dryer, like you got to go do this at a laundromat.
Do you want to go be doing this like five times over at a laundromat for your whole wardrobe? Like it's a nightmare. So I think it's questionable. I think there are people who say I did save it, maybe their sensitivity was different. I think I saved about five items of clothing. So yes, unfortunately, I’m more on the side of just assume everything's going to make you sick and it's not really worth it.
[00:38:24.28] Scott: And you mentioned that you had lost some cars from moving contaminated items. Do you think that there are ways to improve the health quality of the car? Or do you think that once it's contaminated, not worth trying to mitigate at that, really you should get rid of it?
[00:38:41.01] Bridgit: Yes, similar to the clothes. If it's really affecting you, if you're just really triggered, if you're getting in that car. Again, we put a car in storage for a couple of months and went back to it and we're like, we had already gotten rid of one, now we're like this other one's gone too. By that point, we weren't compromising anymore.
Like we knew how we reacted to our stuff, we knew what a hassle it was to try to clean it, we knew how many things we had tried to clean and it failed, so we got to a point where I was just like forget it. So maybe you could use like ozone, and there's different these enzyme things and you're wiping it, but can you really wipe a car well? Like how are you going to get under the seat? How are you going to do any of that? So I think it's tough.
[00:39:28.21] Scott: What are some of the key issues that you've observed when remediating?
[00:39:33.10] Bridgit: Yes. People just taking a sledgehammer and opening stuff up without any cheating, error scrubber, that's a big mistake. I just ran into that recently. Hiring a remediator who's going to tell you to move all your stuff to another room, that's a mistake.
Being in the home while it's remediated, usually a mistake. If your health has been affected, it's going to kick stuff up. Even like the air system, like if you're DIYing it, you have to think about the airflow in the house, it's moving, right? So things are going to be moved around.
I think doing like a halfy job, like you've got to remove the drywall well beyond where it's been water stained. You certainly can't bleach things away; you can't paint over them. You really got to get deep, and that can get expensive. So redoing a shower stall with a leak issue could cost you five or ten grand, it's unfortunate. But unfortunately, like trying to cut corners, you can still have mold in the walls and you'll still be sick.
[00:40:38.18] Scott: When we think about that moving possibility, and looking for a new living environment. What do you recommend your clients do from a testing perspective to minimize the chances of repeating their prior mold experience?
[00:40:52.08] Bridgit: Yes. So for starters, you can use your senses. Smell for mustiness, look for stains under sinks, look for stains on the ceiling. Go into attics. Crawl spaces are hard to get into, but you can have your inspector do that. Really take a good look at basements, avoid basements, avoid crawl spaces, but those can be tough to avoid in some areas.
Ask about past water damage, mention your mold sensitivity, ask about when the roof has been replaced, look for how the house is draining. It should drain away from the house, never towards the house. So it also depends if you're a renter or owner. So owner there's more to look at in a sense, because it's a whole and usually a building.
There's more ability to ask questions and get some history. You can get an inspector who's going to do some, potentially do some moisture sensing, turn on all faucets, see what's going on. Usually, there isn't enough time to run a mold test in one, like right now it's a pretty hot market. You could potentially, especially if it's a slower market, get some testing and get it back. My ex went through this when he bought a house, and in the end, his test didn't come back, as long as the owners had given him. So he just did a lot of different things, this is a little older home, like he got a really nice air filter, he had the house really well cleaned before he moved in. It is a point of understandable paranoia, after you've been through it, it's better to move into a place that's temporary, even a couple rounds of that, because you could end up with another problem and now you're like man, I’m like how much money have I put in this house and that.
You don't want to feel tied, so it actually is better to, if you can have a year or two or things are kind of temporary where you're moving around, it's great. Like we actually took a two-month trip in a van like and kind of lived here and there, it's a short amount of time, but we did that right away once we sold our house, it was fantastic. It actually can become an opportunity to do things a little different. So yes, I would try not to get tied down, ask a lot of questions, and do testing if you can.
[00:43:11.02] Scott: So given that there is no mold-free environment, Dr. Klinghardt uses the term mold pore, that we're trying to minimize exposure as much as possible. Have you found in your clients or your personal journey that limbic system retraining work can help one to better tolerate lower levels of exposure in their environment, that are really unavoidable?
[00:43:35.00] Bridgit: Yes. I think it's three things potentially are coming to mind limbic, histamine and air quality. I think you can look at all those things, and I think they all are going to be playing a part. So I never did any of those specific limbic retraining programs, but I think I’ve sort of done a lot of limbic retraining, from other things I’ve done, which I’m happy to talk about. There are other options than just those programs.
A lot of things can help us with trauma, which is great news. So I think there's that aspect and I think that continued like histamine response to airborne anything, like I kind of redeveloped seasonal asthma after my mold exposure, which is the thing I’m trying to work on now. And with your feedback, I’m working on my gut to keep like bringing my histamine response down.
So I think if you can like work with that, that's another factor. You do need to keep thinking about air quality moving forward, so running an air filter in your bedroom, changing the filter in your HVAC often, getting that system clean, wet mopping, wet dusting, using non-toxic products, using non-toxic building materials or low toxic, these are all important considerations for all of us moving forward.
[00:44:50.13] Scott: Now we're going to talk about my favorite topic personally, which is detoxification and drainage. What are some of the foundations from your perspective in approaching detoxification?
[00:45:00.28] Bridgit: Yes. So make sure you're pooping, make sure you're drinking water, make sure you're sleeping. Some people with protocols kind of get those going first, with like I think there's like German like Homeopathics, or there's different things that, the different tools out there. But I would say kind of the basics without looking at some of those fancier tools. Yes, make sure you're sweating, getting sunshine, exercising, so that you are sort of able, you're a mover, before you get into actually detoxifying.
[00:45:32.22] Scott: So I think that's a great point, that the fluid flows are important, right? So doing something like rebounding or just walking can often facilitate a lot of good support for detoxification. So that's a great point. Constipation, definitely not supportive of detoxification, addressing that should be a top priority. What are some of your favorite strategies for addressing constipation?
[00:45:56.01] Bridgit: Yes. A lot of things can work is the good news. For me, taking digestive enzymes really helps, taking the mega pre helps me. Pro kinetics can help like ginger and like mega guard, and bigger bitters. I think that motility issue, brain down is under discussed in the world of mold. So we could talk more about that.
A lot of people rely on magnesium citrate, I think that's valid. I think it's a little overused, considering all the tools that are in the toolbox. If you're really stuck, coffee enema can help, it's not meant for that, but it can at least be getting things moving if you're quite stuck.
Castor oil packs can help people. In our binder we're coming out with, we have a pretty potent herb for that, that I don't even quite know how I discovered. I think I was just doing some research. So some herbal things can help as well, that's like a Chinese rhubarb we put in our formula.
[00:46:56.17] Scott: Let's talk about sleep. What are some of the items that you might explore to optimize a client's sleep? and what have you found most helpful in really supporting that deep restorative sleep that's so critical for healing?
[00:47:07.26] Bridgit: Yes. I find that many people in the health space client-wise tend to feel like they're cheating if they take a sleep aid, and I disagree with that. I think sleep is so important, deep sleep is important. I’m kind of like a flighty person who's been exposed to mold, so I definitely use sleep aids.
One thing a practitioner told me recently which I thought was great, she was just like because I was still kind of struggling sometimes with energy, and she's like take that every night, because the deeper you sleep, the more you're restored you're going to feel in the morning, and I was like that's a great point.
So melatonin is fantastic. I don't know why people are so afraid of it, we make less when we age, it's a huge tie-in to COVID. Some people may not react well to it, some of those people like 5-HTP, some may not like either, that's fine. But taking like three a night is three milligrams, it's very moderate, and we've been using much higher amounts with COVID and that sort of thing.
So I think that's great, I think a lot of herbals are great like lemon balm and ashwagandha, they're usually like in a mix. A product I’ve been loving lately is Qualia, I think it's called Qualia sleep or Qualia night and it's just a big mix of stuff, but it really seems to get me in a deeper sleep, because I dream hard.
[00:48:30.00] Scott: Me too.
[00:48:30.17] Bridgit: You like that one?
[00:48:31.15] Scott: My Oura ring definitely likes that product.
[00:48:34.16] Bridgit: I can imagine. I don't have an Oura ring yet, but yes, sleep quality is so huge. So I say don't be afraid. I also do like meditation music at night, that helps me. You can take a bath with Epsom salts; you can use aromatherapy. I think it's great to have a whole unwind time at night where you're reading or doing something like that.
[00:48:55.14] Scott: I always say that melatonin is my drug of choice, and I'm a 20 milligrams a night melatonin user, that really works well for me. Not something I would encourage people to do without working with someone.
But yes, that's a fantastic tool. We know that mold illness often will impact anti-diuretic hormone or ADH, drinking lots of water peeing it out still being cellularly dehydrated. What are some tricks that you have for deep cellular hydration when drinking water alone isn't doing it.
[00:49:18.29] Bridgit: Yes. This is one I wish I had realized earlier, because I don't think I knew this in my early mold journey. But electrolytes are great, you can buy clean electrolytes, awesome. Or you can kind of make your own with like sea salt and lemon and honey. And honestly, just adding a little something to water
Like I’ll buy that unsweetened cranberry juice, and I’ll just like add some to water. I feel like it just gives your body something to like hold on to when you're drinking. Yes, so you can just do like a little salt or you can. I live in Arizona, so I have so many like drink concoctions, because I always need to be hydrating. I think there's a lot of fun things we can do to make drinking more interesting.
I have like greens drink in the book that I like, to just get like a little nutrition and some of those essential minerals out of your drinks is great, because you are peeing out more of them, and you need those minerals for detox. So yes, I think there's a lot of fun options to kind of retain that hydration.
[00:50:28.09] Scott: You talk about the MATH diet in the book. So what is the MATH diet? And then, how might you adjust that diet for those with mast cell activation, histamine issues that maybe can't tolerate fermented foods?
[00:50:40.08] Bridgit: Yes, great question. So I think I was being asked what diet do you recommend for a lot of years, and I didn't quite know how to answer the question. I would say I was on like a Paleo template, but I wasn't maybe strictly Paleo or whatever., so I made this up. It means microbiome friendly, anti-inflammatory, time restricted and hydrating. There are a couple things I would maybe add about low carb, high quality, that kind of thing. We could go on. But microbiome friendly, yes you don't have to do fermented foods.
But the more fibers and the more variety of foods you can do, the better, because that makes more of a variety of bugs in your gut. Dr. Kharrazian has a fun way to do it which is like go to the store and get like as many vegetables as you can or definitely organic is preferred. Chop them up and freeze them, and like add those to a smoothie, so you're getting like a big variety.
Not everyone can tolerate that, because sometimes when our gut isn't happy, we have SIBO, we're not tolerating fiber. So I do talk about the fodmap diet in there in the book, I do talk about histamine in the book. Most high histamine foods are also inflammatory. So cheeses, alcohol that kind of thing.
As far as moldy foods, often those foods are quite moldy too. But I think for me in my body, what I mostly notice is those foods are inflammatory and many of those foods we can't tolerate when we have mold. Hydration, we kind of already talked about, time restricted eating I think is a great thing to get into can help rebuild your microbiome.
Not everyone can take that right away, when you're quite sick sometimes you do need to eat often, because you just need the fuel. But as you graduate, you can space out your meals more. I think as we age, most people I’m treating our midlife. We do metabolize differently and we need to start to be more aware of not snacking and the times that we're eating instead of just what we're eating.
[00:52:40.05] Scott: I like the tip that you gave us from Dr. Kharrazian. Dr Klinghardt has a similar one which is to take your fruits and vegetables, juice them, throw away the juice and eat the pulp, to get that fiber that you talked about. You mentioned bitters earlier, so talk to us about the value of bitters with meals to support bile flow and detoxification.
[00:53:04.02] Bridgit: Yes. Bitters are pretty cool, and I don't think they get their do so things like gentian and like citrus peel, ginger, they stimulate, like that bitter taste stimulates digestion to happen. You can also do like a bitter salad before you eat. It just stimulates everything going. That's how our bodies work, and we don't eat many bitter foods nowadays, we eat a lot of sweet tastes or bland tastes.
So yes, whether it's foods or doing a usually bitters common a tincture, but somebody can come in a pill too. It can be great for moving things along, for things like preventing SIBO, for nausea, for heartburn for constipation and then for detox too, because it's stimulating bile to be released as, because we just stimulate bile to digest fat.
[00:53:55.01] Scott: Yes. Ann Louise Gittleman was the one many years ago that turned me on to bitters, and I definitely think that they have a huge place in this realm. You are a proponent of a high healthy fat diet, I love my fats, so critical. So why do you find high healthy fats helpful in the context of mold illness, and what are some of your favorite healthy fats?
[00:54:16.26] Bridgit: Yes. I’m a big fan of fat, it's good for your brain and we're mainly restoring our brains. It's good for your hormones, it's good for satiety and having energy longer. I think we're still a little fat phobic in our culture, it's really kind of a shame. I’m super tiny and I eat tons of fat, so definitely fat doesn't make you fat.
I think the only exception is if you're eating like a trail mix with like nuts plus like berries and chocolate chips, you can end up eating too many nuts. But usually, you're not going to overeat fat because you get full. I have a lot of raw nuts in my fridge. I personally tolerate nuts really well, I’m careful with them, like I soak almonds for the morning, sometimes I put them in smoothies, I put them on salads. I tolerate them well, not everyone does I understand.
I have some like frozen chunks of coconut, like whole coconut in my freezer that I’ve been putting in smoothies. I’ve really been enjoying that one. I have coconut like powder that I’ll put in drinks. I do those cans of coconut milk or cream, and I’ll use those for different drinks. Eat a lot of butter for sure, if you can tolerate butter. I eat actually a decent amount of canned salmon, it's a really affordable way to get salmon and I just make it kind of like a tuna salad, so that's just like one little seafood idea.
[00:55:38.17] Scott: Yes, some great tips there. I personally have had my four tablespoons of fiber, and four tablespoons of fat already this morning, so definitely something that I think is really critical. Let's talk a little more about supplements and techniques for supporting detoxification, what are some of your favorite tools in that realm?
[00:55:57.21] Bridgit: Yes. For the sake of organization for the book, I picked my top five, it wasn't easy to pick. But for techniques I picked coffee enema, Epsom salt bath, dry brushing, sauna, I’m forgetting one, oh mouth taping which you mentioned.
Because those had the most impact for me. And then for supplements I picked Coq10, glutathione, electrolytes, broccoli seed and sprout. and binders. So not all those will work for everyone, but all of them have some great qualities. And I think if you're just trying to get your head wrapped around some of these concepts, those are great ones to start experimenting with.
[00:56:37.06] Scott: Let's dig a little more into binders, such a common conversation, so many to choose from. What are your personal favorite binders? And does everyone need a binder to recover from toxic mold illness?
[00:56:48.20] Bridgit: So not everyone's going to tolerate a binder, because some people are so sensitive. I think they are really important to at least be trying. You can try single ones, if a blend doesn't work for, you can try micro doses. Because of the bile recycling that our body does, we really want toxins to leave in the stool.
So I think it's quite important. But we just had someone on a live call recently say she couldn't tolerate them, and she just does all the techniques and she's gotten a lot better. So I think that's great to hear. But they are like the little garbage men of the body, there are many types, I don't know, if I had to pick a favorite, I might actually say charcoal. It's so affordable and it really gets the job done. I was trying to leave it out of the binder I formulated, because it does bind like vitamins and stuff. I just couldn't get the binder to feel like I wanted until I got charcoal into it, so that was interesting.
But I do have a mix of stuff in my binder, because different binders have affinities to different things. So having a mix is one way to go. But also cycling and trying different ones is another way to go. A gentle one is citrus pectin, can be used in like a powder for kids, it doesn't taste like too much. I think fulvic and UMIC acid are really interesting, because they can add some minerals while they're also detoxifying, so those ones are cool. I think they're all good, so to speak.
[00:58:18.03] Scott: And for those people that can't tolerate binders, Dr. Jill Crista talks about using foods that are more natural binders, and so that's another tool as well. I know some people will ask about your binder, so tell us how can they find out more about the binder that you formulated?
[00:58:36.02] Bridgit: Yes. It's coming out I think April 1st, and it's going to be called Mi Toxin Binder. It is kind of specifically for mold and moving the gut. It is more of a structural chemical binder. I will also mention there are other things that are binders, like immunoglobulins and Saccharomyces boulardii.
I think there's a whole world there, and I’d actually later like to make a second binder, that is more of like a gut based immune kind of binder. So there are other things that bind, chlorella too is another one. So we tend to talk about the kind of structural binders, but there are some other interesting things out there.
[00:59:13.17] Scott: What is the role of glucuronidation in mycotoxin detoxification? And how do you prefer to support it?
[00:59:20.17] Bridgit: Yes. So this is interesting, I really kind of learned about this, it was highlighted for me from Beth O’Hara on the Mold Masterclass. And I spent some time researching this morning, because it's something I’ve learned about and incorporated a bit. We already sold broccoli seed and sprout which I love for detox, it detoxes a lot of chemicals, it supports the liver and so it's just a nice bonus that it also helps for mycotoxin detox.
However, while I was looking up this morning and lots of different pathways detox mycotoxins and it depends on the mycotoxin. So well, I think it's great to support glucuronidation and I looked up some interesting things that support it that are pretty simple like fish oil. I know that there are other pathways in effect so to speak, taking sulfur, Epsom salt baths and that pathway is also beneficial. So I think I was excited to learn that one pathway, but it's not the only one at play.
[01:00:20.17] Scott: Personally, I’ve always been a little hesitant to incorporate sauna into a protocol too early before the drainage pathways are open, that we don't want to redistribute toxins, which definitely is not an ideal scenario. Do you find that most of your clients tolerate sauna even early on, and how do you optimize the benefits but reduce the potential downsides of sauna use in those with mold illness?
[01:00:45.12] Bridgit: Yes. I think what comes to me Scott, client-wise, is people who basically have already done the basic work, right? They're already eating well; they're already taking care of those things. So they usually take sauna well, they already own a sauna by the time they find me. The people I see don't tolerate are the ones who are very sensitive, and I think that they have a real antioxidant deficiency. So as soon as the pot is stirred, they can't handle it.
So those hydrogen tablets I mentioned earlier I think are a way to go, I think all the antioxidants are a way to go. Like if I do a second book, second summit, it'll probably be on antioxidants and these liver pathways because I think there's just a lot more to dig into there. Even if you can take the sauna for five minutes, take it for five minutes.
Do your binder, do antioxidants that you can tolerate, do glutathione if you can tolerate, just get in where you fit in. I think something I learned from Dr. Neil Nathan is like something is better than nothing if you can do it, and it doesn't necessarily mean you're getting better slower, it just means you have a different path.
[01:01:56.14] Scott: We are both big believers in coffee enemas as really game changers in the mold arena. Why do you find them a game changer? And I find it's hard to get people to really consider it, so how do you approach that conversation with your clients?
[01:02:11.00] Bridgit: Yes. For me, it was just, the days I would do them, sometimes it'd be the only day or half day I’d feel normal, like I had energy. That's I’m getting almost like a little teary-eyed to say, because I’m remembering back to how bad I was. I’m sure you've told me your story Scott, I’m sure you can relate. But a lot of people say oh well, can you just drink coffee? You got to do it to feel that it's not quite the same, it's just a different kind of energy.
Unfortunately, there isn't a lot of study and proof behind coffee enemas, it's just not there, which is a bummer. But I think those of us who have done it, have seen our clients do them, we see the changes it's making, it's helping. I don't really make anyone do coffee enema, I just sort of educate, and again, I’m shocked at how many people come to me already doing coffee enema, and they love it, they do it all the time. Some people I’m like you need to stop doing it. Actually, if it's working for people, every day, it could be fine. But I think that can get a little irritating to your tissues to do it that often.
But yes, I think it's great, I think it can be irritating, those tissues it can be difficult if you have mobility issues. You have hemorrhoids, you have fissures. So it's probably the biggest one where I’m like don't just take my word for it, like do some research, talk to your leading case manager about it.
[01:03:43.14] Scott: You're one of the few people that I’ve talked with that uses mouth taping, which I’ve also done for a couple of years now. So tell us about the benefits of mouth taping and why you think that's so critical.
[01:03:53.04] Bridgit: You know, it has some benefits for nitric oxide production and oral health, but the biggest one for me is that I was a mouth breather at night, I didn't know it. So I would get a dry mouth, a dry throat, and that's an environment where little bugs can thrive and inflammation comes up. So literally, hundreds of days, Scott I woke up with a sore throat that maybe would last till 2 pm like hundreds of days, it sucked and I just didn't know what it was coming from.
Until a friend of mine had an Instagram about mouth taping and I was like I need to try that, it was huge for me. I could see as my immunity was compromised, and then I was having this dry throat every day, just didn't know that basic thing.
So for me, it made my top five because for me personally, like I kind of wanted to put castor oil back in there because logically it makes more sense. But for me, personally, mouth taping was a huge game changer.
[01:04:55.01] Scott: Lymphatic massage is another tool that you cover in the book that I also think can be very helpful, have experienced it personally and found it helpful. Have you found it a really helpful tool in your personal mold journey? And is it something that you use with clients?
[01:05:10.10] Bridgit: Yes. So I think I had three sessions, so not a ton. But the first one, I went to, I hadn't taken a binder, I didn't even think to, and I got really hit. So I know it moved a lot of toxins, because I felt horrible afterwards. So the next couple times I did do a binder, but I think my body was just sort of accustomed to it by then. I think it's a great technique.
We have so many tools that we can use. It's a little maybe more costly than a regular massage, and a little harder to find. But it's nice and relaxing, and if you kind of need the touch and it's a very light touch too, so if you don't tolerate massage, it could go well for you. So yes, I think I’m a fan of like all the lymphatic moving techniques, they all work for me and it's really up to the budget and the person what they want to try.
[01:06:03.14] Scott: Let's talk about colonization from exposure to fungal organisms in water damaged buildings. In your clients, how often do you believe that mold colonization occurs? Is it something you commonly, see? Is it more sinus, more gut, how do you approach addressing colonization? What are some of your favorite tools and how does Biocidin play a role in your strategy?
[01:06:26.17] Bridgit: Yes, great question. I think there's still a lot we're going to learn about colonization that we don't know. It can potentially be in all sorts of tissues. I think I have a section in the book in it. Like can be in lung tissue, potentially, I think if you said like bone tissue, like crazy stuff. So I think what gets talked about the most is gut colonization and nasal colonization. When we've run nasal colonization's tests, it's often positive and it's hard to fix, sometimes.
So I’m kind of hearing more of a trend in mold illness treatment, where we treat that last or sort of not at all potentially. I do have a protocol, I’ll give you for that, because I think it's so common, I think it is a good one to address and I think it's kind of just irritating because it's in that same region where you're breathing in irritants, the brain's been affected.
You've got colonization in the sinuses; it just creates a burden. For me, it was creating a lot of post nasal drip, which just added to that freaking throat problem I was having. So I was back in the day, twice a day using a NeilMed saline rinse, it was a big help to me. I don't really do it anymore. I do more often my little silver nasal spray, it's a lot faster, and our protocol is to add either liposomal Biocidin probably that's better or the Biocidin tincture I think is fine too into the bottle, 30 drops and then you use the spray and nostril, two sprays, each nostril, three times a day for like two months. It's not guaranteed, Scott, to solve it in that time span, but I think it's possible. It just seems to be very stubborn, and I think it has to do with the whole like kind of host issue and how long have you been out of mold and how's your immunity. But I think that protocol, or even just the silver alone can potentially work.
[01:08:29.22] Scott: Yes, and to your point, depending on how long you've been out of mold. A lot of times I see people jumping into these colonization treatment strategies when they're still living in their water damage building, and to me that doesn't make a tremendous amount of sense, like they're probably just going to get recolonized.
So again, coming back to the fact that the environment needs to be addressed as early as possible in these programs. A few years ago, I did a two-week continuous glucose monitor to explore some potential contributors to my sleep issues at the time. How was a continuous glucose monitor helpful for you? And what did you learn from that experience?
[01:09:04.02] Bridgit: Yes. I thought it was really interesting, I think everyone should do it at some point in their lives. It did not fix for me so to speak what I wanted to potentially fix. So I was writing my book, I still got a lot of sort of mental fatigue I would say. So I was wondering is my blood sugar playing a part in it, and even though I made a lot of changes in my diet, I wouldn't say it for me made a difference in my mental fatigue.
But what I did learn about was all the things I was doing wrong with timing my carbohydrates, the amount of protein I was having, shocking. I thought I was doing pretty good. My body mass is very normal, my hemoglobin a1c and fasting glucose looked fine, totally fine. And then here I was, having these major spikes, especially with like any dinner carb. So it was just incredibly informative to me. I did it for three months this fall, and then it was the holidays I feel like crazy off the way.
I would say I’ve retained some of what I’ve learned, but it's hard, because I was doing those habits like my whole life. But I think some things like have stuck with me that I learned and yes, I think it's really great, because I think blood sugar and metabolism are huge issues with how well we're going to age and those chronic diseases, and I think us health nuts think we're doing fine, because we're not like eating McDonald’s and super overweight. But there's actually a lot still to optimize at midlife and beyond about your carbs. Probably at any point in life, but especially midlife and beyond.
[01:10:50.00] Scott: I think it's going to be really interesting once we have an Oura ring or some kind of wearable that can measure blood glucose without having to wear those patches that are actually a small needle in the skin. I think they'll be much more widely utilized, and I do think that the insights people get will really lead to some shifts in their food choices and behavior patterns.
And sometimes it's surprising, sometimes it's not the things that you would expect that actually spike the blood sugar, and sometimes it's the things that you're actually reactive to or allergic to or sensitive to as well.
The last section of your book is about how to live our best next chapter, what are some of the things we need to consider longer term to optimize our health and our lives?
[01:11:34.05] Bridgit: Well, earlier we talked about histamines and limbic and air quality, and in a sense, that still plays in with like a bigger picture about what our habits like ongoing. You're never really going to go back to like standard American diet, you're not going to want to, but also, you're not going to feel good on that.
You still need to think about air quality and that kind of thing. And then limbic system, really thinking about what brings you stress, what brings you joy, what thought patterns, what beliefs spin you out. That's really what I’ve been working on pretty hard in the last few years, and it's really made a difference especially lately with the way I make choices and what I like stew about versus not. Like I really watch my thoughts.
And then in a bigger sense, it's like what do you want out of life? Especially say we're midlife you're going through a mold crisis, the snow globe got shaken, and you get to kind of choose where you want next. I think it can be your instinct to keep everything the same. Like I just want everything the same, pretend this never happens. I mean, I would just push that and say what do you want to leave behind? Even if you have a great family dynamic and what have you, you probably still have some beliefs to leave behind, some ways you think.
Or maybe you really aren't happy with a lot of things in your life if you really are honest. Are you happy with where you're living? The people in your life? The work you're doing? This is a chance to boldly step into something different. And again, I think it's our instinct to not want to do that. But I really encourage in the book to just start with assessing, are you really happy? And what would you like to be different? And trust that if you start to move in that direction, it could be bumpy, but I think the universe also tends to reward you moving towards the best version of yourself.
[01:13:48.22] Scott: You say if you're experiencing a setback, feel the feeling, but don't make a big story about it. And it seems to me that one of the things that prevents us from healing is being stuck in our story, not being able to create a new reality. Do you find that being able to move past our story is a key element of healing?
[01:14:09.18] Bridgit: I think it's huge, it's huge and it's not spoken about enough. And those words were even difficult for me to find, but like I’m glad I found them for the book, because I think it's super important. I don't know that aspect of your story, Scott, but I bet there is an aspect there, because it they kind of go hand in hand.
That if you're going to evolve your health, you're probably also evolving your story, because who you were got sick, and who you're going to be next, who isn't sick, it's going to be different. Just the way you think about things. To be completely honest, like I went through mold and then pretty soon after went through a divorce, and probably the divorce more shook me up about who am I, where is my life going?
It was hard. It took me a long time and but I really sat with all of it, like what I believed about what marriage was and who I was and my identity, and questioning those things is a big one. But on the other side of that, is a belief with a lot more like love for yourself and tolerance for yourself and others too, because whatever you're going through, I feel for you, I don't judge you. So I think that story piece is huge, and yes, a great opportunity to write a new story, or just edit your story with a mold shake up.
[01:15:36.24] Scott: So you recently wrote the book “The Ultimate Toxic Mold Recovery Guide: Take Back Your Health, Home & Life”. Tell us a little bit about where people can find it.
[01:15:45.18] Bridgit: Yes, it's on Amazon. We have a Kindle, a paperback and soon we'll have the audiobook, so you can buy it with an Audible credit. Which I think is not a bad way to go, because you can take it all in in the big picture, and then if you want a paper copy, to see the dosages and stuff, I think that combo, even though it's a little more expensive, could be a great way to go. As I got the book in the mail, I was like well, this is a big book for someone with brain fog.
So maybe hearing it all and picking through the pieces you want or thinking where you're at. Since it's on Amazon, it'll be on our website BridgitDanner.com later. Yes, I’m just really excited about it, because this field is still emerging and there aren't a ton of resources yet. I think that will change, but I’m happy to be one who's kind of like this is where we're at right now, this is what we know, and here's a book for you.
[01:16:39.13] Scott: My last question is the same for every guest, and that's what are some of the key things you do on a daily basis in support of your own health?
[01:16:46.10] Bridgit: I’m outside a lot. I get a lot of sunshine; I barely wear sunscreen. I get a lot of exercise, I do like ten different sports, so that's really important to me and it brings me a lot of joy. I think we talked about moving toxins, but also, I think when you're feeling kind of stuck with work or problems, moving is really important. I get a lot of sleep; I need a lot of sleep. I’m really protective of my sleep time, and I would say maybe the last thing I’ll mention, well, one other thing I’ve really worked on and improved in value in my life is like my relationships.
I really like make time for friends and fun and adventurers and family and just realize like I used to be kind of like a workaholic in my clinic, and I just didn't have much left to show at the end of the day, at the end of the week, I was just tired. So even though I sometimes want to slip back into that workout, which I’ve probably done a bit lately. I really think that's an important part of health, is having great relationships and laughing. So I do plenty of that.
[01:18:01.04] Scott: Such good information, just appreciate all that you do to help people in this community, appreciate that you put this book together, that you put together the Toxic Mold Masterclass summit, that was a fantastic event. So thank you so much for being here, for sharing all of your knowledge with us, and just appreciate all that you do, Bridgit.
[01:18:20.07] Bridgit: Well, thank you. Honestly, one of the favorite people I met in this process was you, we really didn't have a relationship and you are so thorough, you guys if you're on the video, like Scott sent me like all these details. You probably read my book more than any other human. You're just so thorough, and you're such a resource and I’m just so thankful for you as well.
[01:18:41.23] To learn more about today's guest visit BridgitDanner.com that's BridgitDanner.com.
[01:18:54.05] Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you're enjoying the show, please leave a positive rating or review, as doing so will help the show reach a broader audience. To follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or MeWe, you can find me there as better health guy.
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[01:19:28.12] Thanks for listening to this BetterHealthGuy Blogcast with Scott, your better health guy. To check out additional shows and learn more about Scott's personal journey to better health, please visit BetterGealthGuy.com.
The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.
Why You Should Listen
In this episode, you will learn about Thiamine Deficiency Disease.
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About My Guest
My guest for this episode is Dr. Chandler Marrs. Chandler Marrs, MS, MA, PhD is an independent health researcher and writer. She is the co-author of the book "Thiamine Deficiency Disease, Dysautonomia, and High Calorie Malnutrition" and the author of over 200 articles on various topics, from women’s health and hormones, medication reactions, to mitochondrial function and dysfunction. She is the founder and editor of the online health journal "Hormones Matter" which boasts a rich archive of over 1400 articles including in-depth research analysis and patient case stories. She is also the founder and administrator of a patient research group on Facebook called "Understanding Mitochondrial Nutrients". In her spare time, she is a competitive powerlifter and works to support strength sports for older women through her website and Facebook group "Old Ladies Lift".
- What is thiamine and its fundamental roles in the body?
- How common is thiamine deficiency?
- What is the ideal way to test for thiamine deficiency?
- Does thiamine influence gene expression?
- What role does thiamine play in medication and vaccine reactions?
- What is the connection between thiamine deficiency and dysautonomia?
- Might thiamine play a role in SIBO?
- Can thiamine be helpful for those in a Cell Danger Response state?
- Which environmental stressors may deplete the body of thiamine?
- Does thiamine impact the limbic system?
- How does thiamine lead to hypoxia and resulting sympathetic dominance?
- Does thiamine play a role in glucose regulation?
- Does thiamine repletion have the potential to lead to a worsening of symptoms?
- What is the connection between elevated levels of lactic acid and thiamine deficiency?
- Might toxic mold exposure interfere with the absorption of thiamine?
- Has thiamine repletion been a helpful strategy in CFS/ME patients?
- Does thiamine play a role in methylation?
- Could glyphosate lead to large-scale thiamine deficiency?
- Might thiamine be helpful in autism, PANS/PANDAS, or neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's?
- What form of thiamine is most health-supporting?
Connect With My Guest
March 29, 2022
[00:00:01.00] Welcome to BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts, empowering your better health. And now, here's Scott, your Better Health Guy.
[00:00:14.02] The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.
[00:00:34.23] Scott: Hello everyone, and welcome to episode number 163 of the BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts series. Today's guest is Dr. Chandler Marrs, and the topic of the show is Thiamine Deficiency Disease. Dr. Chandler Marrs is an independent health researcher and writer. She is the co-author of the book Thiamine Deficiency Disease, Dysautonomia, and High-Calorie Malnutrition, and the author of over 200 articles on various topics from women's health and hormones, medication reactions, to mitochondrial function and dysfunction.
She is the founder and editor of the online health journal Hormones Matter, which boasts a rich archive of over 1400 articles including in-depth research analysis and patient case stories. She is also the founder and administrator of a patient research group on Facebook called “Understanding Mitochondrial Nutrients”. In her spare time, she is a competitive power lifter and works to support strength sports for older women through her website and Facebook group “Old Ladies Lift”. And now, my interview with Dr. Chandler Marrs.
The topic of thiamine deficiency disease is one that was brought to my attention by Dr. Neil Nathan. He originally shared the Thiamine Deficiency Disease, Dysautonomia, and High-Calorie Malnutrition by Dr. Derrick Lonsdale and Dr. Chandler Marrs with me. I’m super honored today to have Dr. Chandler Marrs with us to talk about thiamine deficiency disease, and how it may be an important missing factor for our listeners.
[00:02:07.02] Dr. Chandler M.: Oh, thank you for having me.
[00:02:08.08] Scott: Did you have a personal connection to this topic? What drew you to writing a very extensive book about thiamine deficiency? And how did you and Dr. Lonsdale connect in this collaboration?
[00:02:20.12] Dr. Chandler M.: Yes and no on the personal connection. I didn't know I had a personal connection until I met Dr. Lonsdale, and we began doing the research on this. So, how did Dr. Lonsdale and I meet? So, I run a website called Hormones Matter, because my original background was in steroid neuroendocrinology hormones in the brain and women's health.
So over the years, I had moved into medication adverse reactions as a major component of my work, particularly women's reactions, because as you may or may not know, women are not typically tested sufficiently before medications are released into the market. I had begun doing research on Gardasil, and the Gardasil reactions.
One of the patients that I had been working with and that had a reaction and published a story, actually found Dr. Lonsdale’s work, a mom of the patient rather and she introduced us. Over time, he became a colleague, a mentor, introduced me to thiamine and the mitochondria, and all of those things, and we had a very good working relationship. So, when it came time to write this book, he asked if he would write it with me. For those of you who have read Dr. Lonsdale and followed him, he's an older gentleman, and so this would be his legacy work.
And he's brilliant, he's absolutely brilliant, and so it was quite an honor to do this. At the time he asked, however my mother was ill, life was crazy, and I didn't think I could actually do it frankly, because there was just so much going on. But he persisted, and I’m very proud of the work that we did together, and I’m very grateful for him to have selected me to write it with him, and for him persisting and pushing me and keeping me on deadline and all of those things that one needs to finish a work like this.
[00:04:22.16] Scott: Yes. It's amazing in reading the book, there's several decades of work that he put into this, in his clinical practice and into the book. I mean, kind of the word legend comes to mind. I believe now he's in his 90s, if I’m not mistaken.
[00:04:35.28] Dr. Chandler M.: He's turning 98 in the next couple weeks.
[00:04:38.18] Scott: Wow.
[00:04:39.00] Dr. Chandler M.: Yes, certainly.
[00:04:40.25] Scott: So, let's start with the basics, what is thiamine? And what are some of its fundamental roles in the body?
[00:04:47.19] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, so thiamine is vitamin B1, quite simply it's just another vitamin in that regard. But it's an important vitamin, because of its cofactor role in a number of enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of food and energy into ATP. So, because it is involved in those roles, and because it is frankly a gatekeeper, it's at the top of these pathways, if thiamine is insufficient, then the entire process gets derailed to some degree or another.
So, your ability to convert food into ATP diminishes. With that, since every cell in the body requires energy, ATP, cell function diminishes. As cell function diminishes, as you might suspect, you get injury and illness and all sorts of things. The problem with our interpretation of thiamine is that we have since the advent of food fortification in the 40s, we have assumed that we solved it, and that because we eat these foods, because there is sufficient per the RDA amounts of thiamine in these foods, that there's no thiamine deficiency.
The only cases that people consider thiamine deficiency, if they consider them at all, are chronic late-stage alcoholism, tend to be hyper metabolism and a severe illness. Although, that seems to be less and less, it seems to be the last thing that they consider. They've considered everything else, and then they look at thiamine.
It's very distinct in where we look for it, and unfortunately, the vast majority of people don't consume enough thiamine, and the very foods that we consume to get our thiamine, the processed foods have anti-thiamine factors in them. So, we end up doing more damage than good by the way we approach thiamine deficiency sufficiency.
[00:06:49.24] Scott: That's what I like about this conversation, and really took away from the book, is that this is so core when we're talking about energy metabolism and mitochondria and oxidative metabolism and all the pieces that come into this thiamine conversation, when we look at things like chronic Lyme disease or mold illness or Chronic Fatigue, and people dealing with brain fog and fatigue and so on, that ATP production that you talked about is so critical to giving us and giving the body, the energy that it needs to do essentially everything.
So how common is thiamine deficiency? Why do we not hear much about it? And what are some of the key conditions or symptoms that might lead you to think this is an area that someone should explore?
[00:07:32.23] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, I think it's very common. But this brings up actually a larger conversation that we need to have about how we define deficiency and sufficiency. So, our current standards of deficiency and sufficiency, there's a bright line between if you have x amount of thiamine in your blood, you are considered sufficient.
And if you have y, you are deficient or vice versa. And there's this clear demarcation, and within it, there's this huge range of varying degrees of sufficiency. But it's basically a blood marker that we go on. The problem with that is that not only are the lab tests insufficient at recognizing thiamine deficiency, but it's not a clear line. It's a matter of sufficiency relative to your own metabolic needs.
And so while you may be clinically sufficient per the laboratory tests, if you have underlying conditions, let's say even if we're talking about mold or Lyme, where the metabolism needs to be increased to the demands of that condition, then you need more than what is allotted for by this linear concept of sufficiency and deficiency. Your body needs more.
If you have medications, if you have dietary issues that prevent you from taking in too much or your diet is really poor, and you're taking high carbohydrates in, you're going to need more thiamine than the average person. If you have gut issues, so that the bacteria in your gut are not synthesizing thiamine, they produce about two percent of the thiamine, then you're going to need more thiamine to manage that. If you have transport genetic issues, then you're going to need more thiamine.
So this discussion of deficiency, sufficiency, is to use the same word, is insufficient to do what's actually happening molecularly at the body. So, to answer your question, how many people are potentially deficient? It depends on what measures you use and who you're talking to. It can be anywhere from 10 or 15%, which is well above the few percent that the NIH and CDC say, all the way up to certain cases if you get into critical care, where almost 90% of the people, by standard laboratory markers don't have sufficient thiamine.
But because we don't measure it consistently, these are one-off studies, who knows what the actual rate is? I think if we understood the chemistry better, and understood the cases where more thiamine might be needed, it might better allow us to prevent that frank deficiency that everyone talks about.
[00:10:20.00] Scott: I know in the book you talk about thiamine deficiency being called the great imitator, you already mentioned that it can have a connection in alcoholism and medication reactions, in vaccine reactions. In the book, you also mentioned a potential connection to cancer, diabetes, AIDS.
[00:10:37.12] Dr. Chandler M.: So, you can keep going, it can be involved in virtually anything, because it is critical to mitochondrial function. Since the mitochondrial are critical to human function or organismal function in general, it can express itself in any number of ways, and it often does.
Often, some of the earliest symptoms are just really bizarre little symptoms, that it's a lack of energy in this local area, and you don't put it together. But ultimately, if it continues, you start to see the more common systemic symptoms arise. But it's mitochondrial, and mitochondrial can be anything and everything. So, yes, we have to look at it differently.
[00:11:26.14] Scott: You talked about the idea of lab ranges for certain tests, versus what is maybe optimal for ideal functioning. So, is there an ideal way to test for thiamine deficiency? Or is it something that many people might more empirically do a trial to see if their symptoms shift? How do we test for this deficiency?
[00:11:48.11] Dr. Chandler M.: I’d like to say there was a ideal way, and there are better ways versus worse ways. It depends on variables that are not well controlled, as to which lab tests might or might not be better for you. So, the advice is typically been, particularly in the more acute stages, to treat empirically and not wait for testing. Because if you suspect thiamine deficiency, you're really already too late in the game, because it's been going on for a long time at this point.
So the notion is that you can treat empirically. I think that's one area that needs to be developed more is testing, and it's not just of Thiamine, the way we test nutrients and a number of analytes is not sufficient to the needs of modern man, modern exposures, modern physiology, they're antiquated as far as I’m concerned. Even though we have a lot of cool technology, it's still asking the same question and I think we need to change some of the questions and change some of the tools we use.
[00:12:54.05] Scott: Is there a favorite test? If you are doing some type of testing?
[00:12:58.18] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, the two favorite tests are to measure thiamine from the erythrocytes. So, Dr. Lonsdale’s favorite test is the erythrocyte transketolase test, and that is not done but in two labs that we know of worldwide. So. it's very difficult to get that test. The second test is the HPLC erythrocyte test, and it breaks things down.
And it is comparable to the transketolase test in many ways, but it is not the same. And so in some cases, it's just not sufficient. In other cases, it's certainly more sufficient than whole blood or plasma, but it's not sufficient when you have down regulation of enzyme activity, which is what the trans-ketolase test looks at.
[00:13:48.11] Scott: And for listeners, HPLC is high performance liquid chromatography. Does thiamine play a role in the, see I read your book, that's how I knew that. Does thiamine play a role in the expression of genes? And would you think of it maybe as an epigenetic modifier or influencer of gene expression? Or is it more that the conditions that manifest from thiamine deficiency are truly genetic?
[00:14:21.23] Dr. Chandler M.: Both. We have to consider every exposure or lack of exposure epigenetic, because certainly, if you expose yourself to a toxin sufficiently, you are going to initiate epigenetic changes. You may also trigger genetic expression, trigger genetic illness. So, most genetic illness, I think is a combination of the gene and the exposure. So, just because you have the gene for something, does not mean that you're going to develop a particular disease. You may have certain genes that predispose you to cancer, but unless you are exposed to cancer-causing factors, you may not develop cancer, the two, it's not a 100 percent correlation, and so everything is epigenetic, in terms of whether it methylates to turn on.
But everything is epigenetic in terms of it takes whatever your genetic blueprint is, and it turns things on and off. So, yes, thiamine directly initiates gene expression in a number of areas, not just relative to thiamine genes and all of that, but other genes. For example, insufficient thiamine initiates the stabilization of hypoxia proteins. Those are the same proteins that are stabilized in cancers, and a variety of other things, and factors stabilized if you have an obstructive type of hypoxia. So, a nutrient here, the insufficiency of a nutrient activates those same genes, and begins those cascades as if your body was hypoxic.
Now, your body is not necessarily hypoxic, but you're unable to use that oxygen to make energy, okay. Just for cellular respiration. So, yes, thiamine is both. Now, are there people who have genetic predispositions towards thiamine deficiency? Certainly, there's a lot of them. I think there's far more of them than we recognize.
We tend to think of genetic illness as being rare or genetic risk as being rare. I think as more and more of the genetic tools have become available for masses of the population, you find that they're not really rare, they're just not triggered or identified. So, yes, there's a lot of genetic issues or genetic possibilities that make you someone more susceptible to a risk of thiamine deficiency than the average person.
[00:17:02.09] Scott: I’m going to throw out several questions on this next topic, and then let you run with it, that is my style. What role does thiamine deficiency play in reactions to medications or even you mentioned vaccinations? Are there specific medications that maybe are more likely to result in side effects when someone is deficient in thiamine?
Is that risk reduced or eliminated by having adequate levels prior to the use of that medication? Then how might these medications or vaccinations result in autonomic nervous system dysfunction, an imbalance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic balance or what we call and what you title in the book dysautonomia?
[00:17:46.26] Dr. Chandler M.: So, yes, that's a number of questions. Let's start with medications, medications by one mechanism or another damage the mitochondria, that is often their target. Maybe it's an off target, but it often is where they land. So, assuming they don't directly damage thiamine transport absorption or any of the enzymes, just the damage to the mitochondria alone is going to necessitate additional thiamine.
So that's one way. There are a number of medications, probably more than we even know at this point, that block thiamine uptake, the transporters. Metformin being a huge one, metronidazole or Flagyl if you will. Bactrim being another one, it also blocks folate. A number of the antibiotics block thiamine. A number of, Sertraline or Zoloft is another one that blocks thiamine transport.
There was a study here recently that tested 146 analytes medications for their ability to block thiamine transport, and of course, all of them did to varying degrees, and there's been study after study about the damage to mitochondria from medications. All environmental toxins tend to target the mitochondria too. Mitochondria are really the brains of the body if you will, they're kind of the global sensors of environmental healthy or unhealthiness.
So it makes sense that anything that you experience or are exposed to is going to adjust mitochondrial function in one way or another. So, in a healthy human, who has healthy mitochondria, some of these exposures will not be as big if you will, and it's not readily apparent. They still happen, they just can absorb them more easily I guess if you will.
In someone who is not as healthy, these exposures can be the tipping point that puts them into a very serious, sometimes acute, but often chronic illness state. It's just the exposure. They just have, their mitochondria were not healthy to begin with, and then they're hit with this other stressor that attacks them. To answer your question, it's yes, all of the above.
And once you get your mitochondria, once the mitochondria become damaged and don't have the energy to run all of the systems that they need, to run all the signals that they need to, and produce sufficient energy to run those systems, and tackle that toxin or tackle those immune factors and balance that, then things start down regulating and resources are reallocated towards primary survival resources. And those are typically reallocated in a clumsy manner, if you will.
They don't always, so you get too much too little energy here and there, you can't respond to stressors, and that I think is the foundation of dysautonomic function, because your autonomics function is essentially the brain above the mitochondria, one step above, that is managing the more global response to environmental cues, whether it's external or internal environment. So, mitochondria, then autonomic system are managing variables there.
[00:21:25.02] Scott: I loved everything that you said there, and your comments about mitochondria being the sensors of the environment is essentially in my interpretation of that statement, very similar to Bob Naviaux's work with the Cell Danger Response that we're going to talk about a little bit later. When it comes to potential side effects from medications or vaccinations, do you need to take the thiamine before that medication or inoculation to minimize negative effects? Or can it be helpful in restoring health after the fact post-medication injury or post-vaccination?
[00:22:04.15] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, again both. But ideally, before you were to take a vaccine, you would be healthy going in. Because think of illness in general, is you're using more energy to manage an illness. And so if you have an illness that is flaring, in particular a chronic illness, and you are one of those people that needs more energy to manage that, then just the stressor alone of the vaccination is going to cause problems. You don't even have to consider the vaccines mechanisms and actions.
The fact that it is an additional stressor to an already stressed system is going to be problematic. So, yes, ideally, people would be somewhat well, have nutrition going in, not just thiamine, but all of their vitamins would be up to speed. Certainly thiamine, but I wouldn't go into it in a state where I’m depleted in a number of factors, because that's just asking for problems.
And certainly after, I mean that's where I end up finding most people, is after they've had a reaction, they tend to come to us and say I had x or y, and I was healthy before, but somehow now I’m not, because of this particular medication or vaccine. And that's where you have to start building things back. But I always ask people were you really healthy before? Or were you just relatively symptom-free or were you just managing your symptoms? Because that's a huge question these days. Everybody thinks they're healthy, then they tell you they're taking five medications, and that's not an example of a healthy person.
[00:23:50.01] Scott: I remember that ad campaign “Got Milk?”. I feel like we need t-shirts that say “Got Thiamine?”, and that would be a good conversation starter. When we think about dysautonomias, POTS is one that comes to mind for me, that Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, fairly common or not uncommon at least in the chronic Lyme disease and mold illness community. What are some other conditions under this dysautonomia umbrella that we might then correlate to thiamine deficiency?
[00:24:24.15] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, vomiting, cyclic vomiting, IBS. Any of the reactions of the heart, any of the reactions of the psychiatric type of reactions. Mood-ability, where you're up and down, you're up and down, unable to control it. The anxiety disorders, they may not actually be anxiety, they may be a dysautonomia reaction, but we don't look at that.
And frankly, any dysregulation of autonomic function can be linked back to mitochondria and be linked back to Thiamine. So, anything that is responded to as too much, too little, too often, too few, too soon, too late that's dysautonomia. So, I think POTS is just I think the most widely observed, and I think it only became widely observed after Gardasil. I mean, that's really when POTS came onto the market, was with women that were being diagnosed with POTS on a very regular basis.
But think of immune function also, immune function can be dysautonomic too. How your immune system reacts in terms of too much or not enough, that's all, we just unpack the layers from the brain down to the mitochondria, down to the energy availability. And so the definition is, I think should be much broader than it actually is.
[00:25:55.04] Scott: You've touched on the fact that autonomic dysfunction can be an indicator of mitochondrial dysfunction. In the book, you talk about beriberi, the condition beriberi. So, wondering how is that similar to dysautonomia, and then is it possible that gastrointestinal beriberi with gut dysmotility could suggest thiamine deficiency, and that that could also play a role in what we think of now as SIBO or Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth? Is there a potential connection between?
[00:26:28.05] Dr. Chandler M.: Oh, there's absolutely a connection there. In fact, the early researchers noted the gut dysfunction is one of the first symptoms of it. Sometimes, it became the only symptom, but the gut dysfunction was clearly identifiable with thiamine deficiency early on, and we just seem to have disregarded it. When you think about it, the gut has to both transport the thiamine into the bloodstream, but it also, the colonocytes produce their own thiamine. That is then transferred directly by separate thiamine transfers into the mitochondria there.
So when we look at the bacterial composition, all of these bacteria synthesize thiamine on their own. But what happens is when there's not sufficient thiamine, there are certain classes or species, I’m not a bacteriologist, species of bacteria that are more adept at stealing thiamine from what are called salvage pathways and salvage mechanisms.
So when the thiamine is low, those species of bacteria which tend to be the more pathogenic ones, upregulate and they kind of absorb all of that excess thiamine and synthesized from these other pathways, thiamine for themselves, where the other ones can't die off. So, you get this imbalance between the good and bad bacteria, relative to a nutrient deficiency.
[00:28:00.15] Scott: Wow, you are definitely throwing out the pearls today. That's another great connection if people are dealing with SIBO or dysbiosis in the gastrointestinal system, it's interesting to think that what seems like a relatively straightforward nutrient supplementation, could positively influence that condition. In the realm of our listeners dealing with chronic Lyme and mold illness from water damage building exposure, many types of dysautonomias, neurodegenerative conditions, there's this concept that we talked about briefly earlier that Dr. Bob Naviaux has put out, the Cell Danger Response model.
Where extracellular ATP is the danger signal, and attempts to more aggressively support mitochondrial function can in some people backfire if the body is still in what he terms the CDR1 phase, this protective phase. So, if someone is still dealing with their infection or toxicant or trauma, is thiamine generally well-tolerated or do we need to be more specific about when it might be introduced? Any observations about whether or not it's helpful or tolerated in someone that is still in that cell danger or protective response?
[00:29:18.10] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, firstly, let me say that Naviaux's work is brilliant and has influenced much of my work. That cell danger theory is very important. I tend to disagree with him on how you go about treating it per se. Not because it's not difficult when someone is in that state to upregulate energy, but because you still absolutely need the energy to resolve it. If someone is thiamine deficient, and still dealing with a toxin or exposure, certainly you have to remove that toxin exposure.
But you can't just ignore the deficiency, because thiamine deficiency has some serious implications if it goes on chronically, and it often does, particularly in these types of states. I mean, it does damage in system-wide, but particularly in the brain. So, it's not something you want to wait until you have cleared the thing, because you're not going to be able to clear the thing without sufficient energy, and you need sufficient energy to maintain everything else.
So to the question is it difficult to replete thiamine who is someone in that state? Yes, absolutely it is. It's absolutely difficult, particularly in individuals who have had long-term, well-entrenched thiamine deficiency, where all sorts of adaptive mechanisms have been upregulated to keep the individual alive, and now need to be down regulated, and other more healthy mechanisms up regulated, that rewiring that has to occur. Is a very difficult process, the longer the deficiency goes on.
So do you have to treat the exposure? Yes. Can you ignore the thiamine simultaneously? No.
[00:31:11.04] Scott: In the book, you talk about high calorie malnutrition. So, when we think about thiamine deficiency, I’m guessing the answer is going to be both, but I just want to be clear. Is it that there's deficiencies in our nutritional intake? Or is it that environmental exposures, toxicants, other factors are leading to an increased need for thiamine than what we're maybe getting in our diet? And if it's those environmental toxicants or exposures, what are some environmental triggers that might be increasing our need for thiamine?
[00:31:47.04] Dr. Chandler M.: So, you're absolutely correct, it's both. In some cases, we're not taking it enough. Although, the latest name study says that the average intake is between 4 and 6 milligrams a day, and the RDA for thiamine is 1 to 1.2 milligrams a day. So, relative to the current definitions, we're getting plenty.
Now, relative to the need and relative to whether or not those definitions were sufficient to thiamine to begin with, they aren't and that's another topic. But relative to need, we certainly do need to take in more, because of not only the caloric content of the diet, which is the process nature of the diet, which has a number of anti-thiamine factors in medications, which damage things. Regular alcohol intake, whether you rise to the level of being an alcoholic or it's just a glass of wine a day, that blocks thiamine. High coffee, caffeine, tea, those polyphenols in there deplete thiamine.
So there's a number of factors that depending on the individual, all can combine to make their intake of thiamine insufficient to what the body needs to produce things, to produce that energy. With regards to the high calorie intake, the more sugars you take in, the more thiamine you need to process them, otherwise they just sit there and they go to alternate pathways and eventually things shut down.
With regard to things in ultra-processed foods that directly block thiamine, in addition to the ones I already gave you and all the preservatives and chemicals, seed oils. Seed oils actually downregulate, well they upregulate one of the enzymes that down regulates another enzyme that we need for thiamine. So, the more seed oil like foods you have, you're actually down regulating your pyruvate dehydrogenase enzyme.
[00:33:52.13] Scott: And is that seed oils that are in more processed foods or heated oils, or would you say that that's even a concern with properly processed things like hemp oil and flaxseed oil?
[00:34:05.27] Dr. Chandler M.: I certainly do not know with hemp oil or flaxseed oil. But it's obviously in the processed foods, the soy oils, the seed oils and the processed foods, those are problematic. And those are also unfortunately where we get the data, the fortified data that says that people are sufficient thiamine, because almost everything is enriched or fortified with thiamine these days.
And so by calculating those people think well, I’m getting sufficient thiamine. But with that food, not only are you getting excessive calories and excessive sugars and things that have to be metabolized, but you're getting all of the anti-thiamine factors that are down regulating. So, you're probably, if your diet consists in that, you're probably low in thiamine.
[00:34:52.15] Scott: And I’m going to guess and we'll talk more about this later, but I’m going to guess they're not fortifying foods with the optimal type or form.
[00:35:00.04] Dr. Chandler M.: Oh, certainly not. And I would prefer people just eat whole foods, whole organic foods. But you do have to work. So, if you don't eat meat, meat is one of the major sources, pork in particular of thiamine. If you are a vegetarian, and you rely predominantly on grains, depending upon how they're processed, you may be low in thiamine just because of your diet.
[00:35:27.12] Scott: In Lyme disease, mold illness, limbic system impairment often plays a role, people benefit from things like Annie Hopper's work with the Dynamic Neural Retraining System or DNRS or Ashok Gupta's work with the Gupta program. Can thiamine deficiency play a role in limbic system dysfunction in our sensing of what is safe or not safe in our environment?
[00:35:51.26] Dr. Chandler M.: Well again, absolutely, because everything feeds to the brain stem and cerebellum and everything else. But the limbic system is one of your areas of identifying fight or flight, what is safe and what is not, and it's that mood-ability, that kind of inability to gauge a situation and that's a fluctuation of one's, mood is just not a really good word, just the being all of that that mobility in general I think is definitely an indication of poor energy metabolism.
Because the brain sucks up a huge amount of energy metabolism energy in order to function appropriately. And if there is insufficient energy for periods of time or in areas, so if it waxes and wanes, you're going to get these responses that are not effective in dealing with the particular environment that you're on. You're going to be very reactive.
[00:36:51.15] Scott: I think this next question, we touched on earlier, so this maybe is just more of a confirmation that I understood it correctly, and that is the connection between thiamine deficiency and hypoxia or less than optimal delivery of oxygen in the body.
So if I understood correctly, thiamine plays a role in hypoxia and that lack of oxygen in the body then can keep the body in more of this alarm state reinforcing that autonomic dysregulation, and so that is then keeping the body in a sympathetic dominant state, which we know is not the right state to be conducive to healing.
[00:37:30.19] Dr. Chandler M.: Exactly. Not only is it that hypoxic state hyperactive sympathetic symptom, but that hypoxia is hyperactive inflammatory state. So, that is what's keeping the body ill, this inability to tamp down that inflammatory response. So, you may have removed the stress or the toxin, whatever it was, you know, quite some time ago. But because there's insufficient energy, you cannot bring those responses that were needed in life saving when they happened, but you can't bring them back down into control and re-regulate everything. That's fundamentally the lack of energy.
[00:38:12.13] Scott: What is the role of thiamine in glucose regulation, and maybe even potentially in diabetes. Could we minimize the severity of those conditions by using supplemental thiamine potentially?
[00:38:26.26] Dr. Chandler M.: Oh, absolutely. There's been study after study showing that if both type 1 and type 2 diabetics, when given varying dosages and varying formulations of thiamine brings their glucose levels down into check. And they think part of it is because of enhanced excretion in the kidneys, but I think really a lot of it is that they were just insufficient in thiamine to begin with. And the diet itself, our diet in the western world these days is absolutely horrid, it really is absolutely horrible for I’d say 90% of the population.
So I think that if we were to start looking at what patients needed, what people needed to be healthy and asking ourselves whether or not we're giving them those things, in many cases, the answer would be no, we're not giving them. We need actual nutrients in the body. And if you give the body nutrients, if you give it what it needs, it will regulate things to the best of its ability and that's generally pretty good. But we don't, we just keep slapping on pill after pill after pill and keep eating this absolutely garbage food.
[00:39:44.28] Scott: I want to talk a little bit about neurological or neurodegenerative conditions that have a myelination or demyelination component, like multiple sclerosis. Do we think that thiamine deficiency could play a role in those demyelinating conditions?
[00:40:02.22] Dr. Chandler M.: Yes. So, my answer I think to any of these where it's an energy-intensive process is going to be yes. Once you realize the fundamental role of energy and keeping the body moving, then you recognize the thiamine and certainly other nutrients as well. But again, because thiamine's at the top of the pathway are absolutely requisite.
So if we were to start giving people, if people will start recognizing this and perhaps, I suppose supplementing with thiamine more frequently, I think that perhaps they could resolve a lot of the chronic health issues that we see.
[00:40:45.01] Scott: Another connection that you made in the book was if we think about brain fog and fatigue, for example, as top symptoms in people that are listening to our conversation, and we think about how thiamine impacts the mitochondria and ATP production. Wondering if you can talk about kind of the logic around why certain places in the body are where symptoms might appear first?
[00:41:09.02] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, certainly because the brain requires so much energy, that's why you start to see things like brain fog. I mean, the cardinal symptom of insufficient Thiamine is fatigue, which is we tend to dismiss fatigue as an actual symptom, because everyone has fatigue to some degree or another. I mean, we live with fatigue on a regular basis in modern society. We drink coffee to power through it, because that's the demand that we have on society.
But when you think about what types of amounts of energy the brain has to use or the heart has to use or the GI system has to use, then you start to recognize that if your mitochondria are not functioning well, you're going to have symptoms in those areas. And they may be subtle at first, they may be such that you don't recognize them as anything wrong, just as the general situation of living in modern society. But over the long term, they accrue. And all sorts of things begin to go wrong.
[00:42:13.13] Scott: In the world of Lyme disease and co-infections, the right treatment can at times lead to a worsening of symptoms, what we might call a Herxheimer reaction or a detox reaction. Let's say if somebody has Bartonella for example, and they have the right treatment, that could potentially lead to more rage or OCD or anxiety for a short period of time.
You mentioned earlier in that Cell Danger Response conversation that repletion of thiamine can be difficult in some cases. And so, is that worsening of symptoms when you start reintroducing thiamine? Is that primarily with oral, with IV? Do we need to start slow and low as we're introducing thiamine into our supplement regime?
[00:42:59.20] Dr. Chandler M.: Yes, to all of the above and no to all the above. So, in the parlance of thiamine deficiency, it's typically called a paradoxical reaction, and it's a worsening of symptoms as you suggest before the symptoms improve. It's also the emergence of some new symptoms. Now the question is do you go in hard and fast, or low and slow. And there are two schools of thought on that, and both have are well thought out and well-reasoned.
So the hard and fast component is that you need to upregulate the down regulated enzymes, and so, the only way you're going to do that is with high dose. And that often happens in hospitalized cases, where it's actually emergent and acute, and if they don't re-regulate things quickly, the patient is going to pass. And so you'll get very high doses of iv over a short period of time, and then it's tapered down. That does carry over into chronic illness with oral, because most folks have to go this on their own, they will go a very high dose for a period of time and then regulate down.
Now, should you go a very high dose or should you start low, that is the question. Some people do fantastic on the high dose, and they have immediate relief and things go smoothly for the most part. There can be some pickups, but they do well. Other folks, people on the other hand, they take even a minimal dose and everything just is on fire, everything goes crazy. And how do you manage that? Because in often cases, those folks are lab confirmed Thiamine deficient.
So it's obvious they need the thiamine, but how do they manage that reaction? So, one way is to start the doses out very low, sometimes single micrograms, or milligrams rather, and titrate up very slowly in a stair step procedure. Another way is to start with some of the cofactors first, and then add the thiamine. Another way is to start at a low dose, and kind of figure out what the reaction that they're having is, and what is lacking based on the reaction that they present with.
Now, what I’ve learned over the years is that a lot of folks that that have some of these negative reactions, is because of the re-regulation of calcium. So, we tend to pay attention to magnesium, because magnesium activates the thiamine. And we look at potassium, because potassium is going to now be brought into the cell and you're going to end up with a little bit of a potassium deficiency, and we sometimes pay attention to salt, but we tend to ignore calcium. And the general thinking on calcium is that we shouldn't supplement calcium, because calcium is damaging to this, that.
Calcification of arteries, which is an entirely different mechanism. But in digging into how the mitochondria respond to different states, it became apparent to me that what was happening to a lot of these folks is we were giving them too much of everything else, and they didn't have sufficient calcium to manage the mitochondrial response. And you think well, you don't want a flood of calcium, but you need sufficient calcium to fire things appropriately. So, when people started taking magnesium or Cal/Magnesium supplements in a combination, as opposed to just straight magnesium. They tended to fare better with those paradoxical reactions. Now is that the only answer? Absolutely not, because there are so many weird things that happen when people are starting to replete thiamine that it's entirely individual. But that was one thing that we found or I found in digging in.
[00:47:02.18] Scott: What's the connection between thiamine deficiency and poor immunity, potentially leading to chronic infection? So, if we think about Lyme disease or maybe people with autoimmunity, for example. We touched on this earlier, that thiamine can play a role in the immune system in regulation of the immune system. Is it also playing a role in modulation of that immune response? Can thiamine potentially help to break the cycle of chronic infection or chronic autoimmunity?
[00:47:35.28] Dr. Chandler M.: Oh, I absolutely believe it can. Effectively again, it comes down to energy. You have sufficient energy for the pro-inflammatory response, but not enough energy for the anti-inflammatory response, so things get skewed, it gets stuck in that turned on position and you have no way to turn it off. So, I think that that's an important consideration when we're looking at chronic disease, is having the energy to manage whatever it is that's going on. I think that's just fundamentally what's lacking in the totality of our response to health and disease right now.
[00:48:14.04] Scott: How does the consumption of sugar potentially make these conditions worse?
[00:48:19.08] Dr. Chandler M.: So, the sugar is obvious. Sugar has to be metabolized in the … pathway, and you have no thiamine. It's not going to go in that pathway, it's going to go in some salvage pathways. So, that it can get whatever energy they can out of it. And those salvage pathways burn dirtier, and produce more oxidants and other things. So, a reactive oxygen species.
[00:48:41.18] Scott: Why might conditions that are perceived to be psychosomatic, mental emotional, actually be autonomic dysregulation with underlying thiamine deficiency?
[00:48:53.08] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, I think we've touched on this one on throughout, this is the insufficient energy to manage neural firing. And autonomic response meaning like heart rate and all of those things relative to environmental changes.
So it's just, it's energy. And it seems so simple, doesn't it? You know just have sufficient energy and everything goes. And in many regards, it is. But we've made it so complicated with the way we approach medicine, the way we approach food, the way we approach living in general, that I think it's the missing piece in so many diseases.
[00:49:33.26] Scott: And it's interesting in these chronic conditions, having myself been in this realm for over 20 years now, people are often attracted to like the latest fancy supplement, the most expensive things. And I think sometimes, we miss these basic foundational things that in this case is not an expensive intervention at all, but most people have never really even explored it or considered it.
[00:49:58.14] Dr. Chandler M.: Oh, absolutely. And I get that all the time, I get that. Well, because it's like the TTFD formulations of thiamine are more expensive than the HCl, and in general people will come and tell me well, I just can't afford it. I’m spending XYZ money on all of this, I can't afford another one. I’m like well, you have a choice to make here. Are all of these things really necessary? And you're affording all these things, but I don't know.
It often takes people, once they go down the path of these other supplements and stuff, it will take them a few years to come back to thiamine. So, I see patients a lot of them that are very invested in this or that treatment protocol. And when it's obvious that they need thiamine, and obviously, other nutrients too, but they obviously need thiamine, and they won't recognize it sometimes for years, and after they've tried everything else, they'll come back.
[00:50:53.28] Scott: Well, and it's interesting, our mutual friend Dr. Neil Nathan, he talked about how he actually heard Dr. Lonsdale speak 30 years ago, and now is very excited about this topic and the role of thiamine deficiency. Now I don't know if the topic 30 years ago that he was presenting on was exactly this one, but to your point, sometimes it takes a while for the importance of these things to really become more obvious.
I want to talk a little bit about the connection between elevated levels of lactic acid and thiamine deficiency, and when we have that lactic acid buildup after exercise for example, could thiamine deficiency be an explanation for post-exertional malaise in chronically ill people? We see that a lot in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. So, wondering if you could talk about thiamine deficiency, and the connection to lactic acid?
[00:51:51.17] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, certainly. If thiamine can't be shunted into the mitochondria, the pyruvate is shunted up to the lactate dehydrogenase enzyme, and you get excessive lactate, if it doesn't, it's a two-way pathway. So, lactate can be used as energy, and in fact in the brain it's used as energy, and in the body it's used as energy under certain circumstances. But if you don't have the available thiamine, it doesn't get used as energy.
So I suspect that in those cases of chronic, the post-exertional malaise, that thiamine could certainly help. Now in athletes, they've done a lot of studies with athletes, in terms of thiamine and recovery. And high dose thiamine has been used for different sports for a long time, to help improve recovery of athletes after training, and has been found that all of their markers are better when they have thiamine than when they don't.
[00:52:51.15] Scott: In this Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, CFS/ME community, I think many people think that there is a core mitochondrial component to these conditions. And wondering in the many people that you've worked with, have you observed how people with CFS or ME respond to supplemental thiamine. Does it seem to move them forward in their recovery?
[00:53:13.23] Dr. Chandler M.: It does, but in some cases, it's very difficult. There are some of the more difficult patients to get through that paradox, and so I think that that dissuades a lot of folks from moving forward, because they already feel rotten. And the prospect of feeling rotten, even more rotten for an extended period of time. Because the paradox can go on for weeks to months, depending upon the individual and how it's titrated. It makes it very difficult. But those that do get through to the other side, express remarkable gratitude for being healthy again.
But it is not to diminish how difficult it is to get to the other side, and I wish there were a team of folks, physicians and physiologists and PTs and a variety of other people who could work with this patient population, and develop a more specific protocol if you will for it and figure out what the reactions, what is causing these reactions and how to mitigate some of them. I’m sure there are clusters.
Like I said, the Cal/Mag was one specific area that I found particularly the heart-related reactions that worked, I’m sure there are others that are out there that we could identify, if there were more than just a few of us working here and there independently trying to figure this out.
I also think that in those folks that if they could do IV therapy, and a consistent IV therapy with both the thiamine and other nutrients and someone could monitor their electrolytes and manage those, that they could navigate that paradoxical response much more quickly and effectively, than the way we have to do it now which is in one-off cases, the patient has to do it themselves they have to figure out what works and what doesn't and play trial and error, and it's miserable, it's absolutely miserable.
[00:55:22.19] Scott: I recently heard Dr. Neil Nathan in an interview say that mold toxins or mycotoxins interfere with the body's absorption of thiamine. And so I’m interested in your thoughts around whether or not toxic mold and mycotoxin exposures are one of those environmental toxicants that can lead to a need for supplemental thiamine, and where does mold illness from water damage building exposure enter this conversation?
[00:55:49.04] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, so mold illness is not my area of expertise. But I am not surprised that the mycotoxins don't derail thiamine metabolism, because again remember what the bacteria do, the more toxic ones are those that are able to kind of suck out the thiamine that the others produce or make their own thiamine by these salvage pathways. So, it's a survival of the fittest, so I could see that that would be happening with molds as well, I just have not studied that.
[00:56:21.16] Scott: Many with chronic conditions have sub-optimal methylation, which is important for detoxification, for silencing or managing certain viruses or even cancers for example. What role does thiamine play in optimizing methylation?
[00:56:37.20] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, methylation is energy-intensive. So, again, if you are insufficient, have insufficient energy, you're going to have insufficient methylation. I mean, that's just the way it is. And so Dr. Lonsdale likens the methylation process to the transmission, whereas thiamine is the spark plug of the engine. So, you can't get to the transmission if the spark plug doesn't turn the engine on.
[00:57:03.00] Scott: In the book, you review several cases that presented with lymphadenopathy. Listeners often are working on detoxification and drainage and supporting the lymphatic system. Is there a connection between thiamine deficiency and the lymphatics?
[00:57:19.08] Dr. Chandler M.: Again, I think I feel like I’m saying the same thing, over and over and over. Well, firstly those are Dr. Lonsdale’s cases, so clinically, I have not had experience with that process. However, yes, energy intensive functions require energy, requires thiamine.
[00:57:41.08] Scott: We talked in this conversation about the importance of mitochondria and the production of ATP. We understand that thiamine can be a key vitamin for mitochondrial function. What are some of the other nutrients or cofactors that you have found are critical in supporting optimization of ATP production?
[00:58:01.00] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, so in the book, I think we list about 22 of them. The B vitamins in general are critical, for the first steps in that riboflavin is the second one in the queue. Oftentimes, when people are deficient in thiamine, and they begin taking thiamine, if they miss taking riboflavin then they develop something called air hunger, it's poor oxygenation, but it's not poor oxygen, the poor is an inability to use the oxygen, because if you take their pulse ox, it is fine.
And that's because the riboflavin is low. And so when riboflavin is needed in the PDH enzyme, as well as down the cycle, so riboflavin. And then all the other B vitamins, minerals, magnesium is critical at multiple junctures, but particularly with thiamine, because magnesium activates the thiamine. So, if you are titrating up thiamine and you don't take your magnesium, then you're doing no good because you can't activate it. So, that does, but simultaneously. If you're taking magnesium without taking thiamine, because of where magnesium works and because of activity of another enzyme in the cycle. It starts to down regulate and it'll shut things off.
So I am fundamentally against high-dose magnesium, if someone has not begun taking thiamine, because that will kick someone into thiamine deficiency and reduce ATP. And then you have things like CoQ10, which is critical for the electron transport. You have vitamin C obviously for glutathione, and I’m sure, I’m missing others, because it's been a while since I’ve looked at the chart. But effectively, you need just basic all of the nutrients. I mean, you need all the B vitamins and minerals and a good multivitamin is quite useful.
[00:59:57.03] Scott: One of the things that you just shared that was new to me as well that I loved was the connection between riboflavin and air hunger. In this community of people listening, a lot of times with air hunger, we jump to thinking that it's Babesia infection or we jump to thinking oh it's mast cell activation, and so you just gave us another important piece of information that maybe that air hunger is related to a need for riboflavin.
[01:00:21.22] Dr. Chandler M.: It often is, well, it's often, riboflavin after you've begun thiamine, so it could be thiamine alone if they have not begun thiamine. But if they began thiamine, and then develop air hunger, then it's often riboflavin. But it could be both.
[01:00:36.20] Scott: We touched on this a good bit through the conversation, but I’m just trying to get a little more sense around given that so many of our foods are processed, they're then fortified. There are the thiamine inhibitors that you talked about in a lot of foods, like do we really think it's even realistic to think that we're going to get adequate thiamine from our diet or do we think that maybe most people need some degree of supplemental thiamine?
[01:00:32.23] Dr. Chandler M.: That's a good question. I don't know if we can get adequate thiamine anymore, and I don't know if what we thought was adequate thiamine 80 years ago is adequate for today. I don't know what adequate thiamine means in today's environment.
And so, I think that yes, most people should be supplementing thiamine, I’m just booned to the supplement industry how unfortunately. But until we clean up the totality of our chemical landscape, I think that thiamine is going to be insufficient.
[01:01:37.07] Scott: You touched on the fact that pharmaceuticals damage mitochondria through multiple mechanisms, that they can deplete thiamine as well. We touched on the idea that Metformin, that many people in the biohacking world use for regulating blood sugar, can potentially negatively impact thiamine status, maybe not even potentially, it has that property of negatively impacting thiamine status, that can then damage the mitochondria.
So, if someone's using metformin, can the downsides be mitigated by taking thiamine similar to the use of CoQ10 with statin medications? Or would you say that we really should be avoiding these medications that have this potential?
[01:02:21.18] Dr. Chandler M.: Well personally, I say you should be avoiding medications. You can't be healthy if you're on medications, and that's just, I suppose that's my bias. Can you mitigate those? Possibly. I don't know that there's been studies on those showing that you can mitigate those. I know Metformin reduces ATP output and skeletal muscle by about 48%.
So, it's not something I would want to be taking as an athlete, certainly, because you need to maximize ATP output not minimize it. As a patient, can you imagine, particularly a diabetic patient, who probably was thiamine deficient before they were even started, to then take Metformin which blocks thiamine, and which blocks or minimizes ATP output, then being told to go exercise, to lose weight. I mean, it's just a cycle that they can't win. So, I would avoid it at all cost.
[01:03:20.22] Scott: Environmental toxicants like glyphosate have been said to block thiamine uptake. Do you think that it's possible that our modern use of glyphosate has been a significant contributor to larger scale thiamine deficiency?
[01:03:36.06] Dr. Chandler M.: Oh, absolutely. And not only glyphosate, but atrazine, all of the Ag chemicals that we use, have not only presented toxins to a system that we can't deal with, but they depleted critical minerals in the soils, such that the plants that are grown in them are depleted in minerals.
But have much higher sugar content now, than the vegetables or fruits and vegetables that we had decades ago. So, you've got no nutrient, substantive nutrient content in these products, and additional sugars, which is again, you think you're eating healthy, but if you eat conventionally grown produce, you're basically eating candies under the guise of a vegetable. That's how your body's viewing it.
[01:04:28.14] Scott: I knew there was a reason why I don't love my vegetables. They're just not good for me anymore.
[01:04:34.24] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, not the conventionally grown ones anymore, they don't have the same mineral content, and they're very high in sugar content.
[01:04:42.25] Scott: What role do we speculate thiamine deficiency could have in children with autism spectrum disorders or even PANS and PANDAS, which are really emerging as significant conditions over the last many years. Any thoughts on it?
[01:04:56.28] Dr. Chandler M.: I think it has a huge role. I think it's part and parcel, because this is a generational thing that's evolving. When you have a couple generations who have sub optimal thiamine deficiency, I mean thiamine input with additional exposures that all the toxins and then they have a child, and the next child has a child. We start to see these systems of dysregulation. Not only in the brain, but in the body and the immune system, everything becomes dysregulated.
So, the fact that it they tend to appear after a vaccination or medication or an illness, only indicates that the body at that point was barely functioning and that stressor tipped him over into this state. Now does that mean that these medications or vaccines are not toxic in and of themselves? And don't elicit all sorts of damages? No, it doesn't. It just means that that we've had so many of them. It's difficult now to find out, figure out which one was the culprit, there is no one that is the culprit.
This is the accumulation of all this stuff that we put into our bodies that is creating the damage. So, yes, I think thiamine is important, because mom was probably, dad was probably deficient. And now the baby comes into being somewhat deficient, maybe has down regulated enzymes to begin with, because of what was happening maternally or paternally.
And then is hit with a whole slew of toxins that we expose these children too right out of the gate, and there's just no way for them to come from that.
[01:06:39.09] Scott: Yes. Building on what you just said there in the book, you talk about the connection between thiamine deficiency and sudden infant death syndrome. So, that concept that an infant could already be born deficient in thiamine or have a lot of these early stressors that then are leading to thiamine deficiency and potentially a condition like SIDS.
[01:07:00.24] Dr. Chandler M.: Exactly. And they could have genetic markers too, because if this goes on sufficiently, generation after generation, you're going to rewire the genetic blueprint in terms of how it receives these nutrients and utilizes them. There's going to be things that are going to be altered. And so children this generation forward, the last couple generations actually, we're going to start to see I think more and more of it unfortunately.
[01:07:27.00] Scott: In the neurodegenerative condition realm, things like Alzheimer’s disease or Parkinson’s disease. Do you think that thiamine supplementation could be helpful in those conditions?
[01:07:39.08] Dr. Chandler M.: Oh, absolutely. And Costantini, the researcher in Italy who passed from COVID last year, showed remarkable improvement with high-dose thiamine and Parkinson’s patients. Now unfortunately, again, we're not getting this late stage, late stage by the time you start seeing the tremors, it's been working its way through the brain for a while. If we were to start treating people earlier or start giving people thiamine or just keep their thiamine levels normal, I think we could prevent and that's important.
Additionally, Alzheimer’s, there's been a number of studies showing that one, that Alzheimer’s patients are thiamine deficient. And two, that by giving them thiamine deficient, their symptoms improve. So, had we been doing this all along, had we been recognizing, would we not prevent at the onset of these diseases.
[01:08:36.07] Scott: Now I see why Dr. Nathan said hey Scott, you really need to go read this book. Are there some pain syndromes that can be the result of sympathetic dominance or a form of dysautonomia that repleting thiamine could actually help with some of these chronic pain syndromes?
[01:08:56.25] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, not just the pains, but the neuralgias. The nerve pains, that you get peripheral neuropathies and neuralgias tend to be related to longer standing thiamine deficiency. So, again, yes, I mean my answer is going to be yes to all of this, unfortunately. It sounds like I’m talking about some magic pill, that makes all of the world's ills go away.
But it's just a vitamin, but it's a very important one because it is a gatekeeper to energy metabolism. And so, if you derail energy metabolism, everything else is going to follow suit. And so anything you can imagine that creates illness is going to require energy to manage or resolve. And if you don't have that energy, it's going to become chronic and worsen.
[01:09:48.01] Scott: Let's talk now a little bit about supplementing thiamine or repleting thiamine. What are some of the key forms of thiamine? And what form might be best to consider from a supplemental perspective? How is TTFD for example different from Benfotiamine?
[01:10:06.06] Dr. Chandler M.: Okay. So, there's a couple forms of thiamine on the market, there's the thiamine mononitrate, and that's typically the cheapest most or at least accessible, but most accessible because it's put in every food, every cheap supplement that exists. It's not the one you want, there's a number of reasons for it, doesn't matter, it's not the one you want. A little bit better is thiamine HCl, hydrochloride, that is what's used in IVs, it is also in supplements in your multivitamins, a little bit more expensive multivitamins, but it's more readily accessible, it's a common, it's what Costantini uses in his Parkinson's patients.
A lot of thyroid patients will use, Hashimoto's thyroid, we use thiamine HCl. You have to take it in very high doses because it's poorly absorbed, particularly in high doses, it requires a transporter. So, the doses of those can be anywhere from like 1500 milligrams to three or four thousand milligrams. And I read a study the other day where they were using six thousand milligrams. So, exceedingly high doses of that, because only about eight percent of it is absorbed. Okay, so then there is a form called Thiamine TTFD and Benfotiamine.
The TTFD comes in a couple brands right now, Allithiamine, Lipothiamine and Thiamax , and Benfotiamine is its own brand. They're different formulations, they've attached some things to the molecules in both of those that make that molecule not need a thiamine transporter. So, in someone who has gut dysbiosis and someone who has genetic problems with the thiamine transporters, they're going to need either the TTFD or the Benfotiamine, because the HCl will not absorb in high enough doses for them to get what they need.
[01:12:04.01] Scott: One of the things that I read in the book is that TTFD crosses the blood-brain barrier, where Benfotiamine does not. Is that?
[01:12:12.21] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, there's much debate about that. I don't think Benfotiamine itself crosses the blood-brain better from what we can tell. But a metabolite of it does. Because it has been used in Alzheimer’s treatment, and obviously Alzheimer’s treatment needs it's across the blood brain barrier and they've had success. So, both of those, because they don't require transported, because they're not technically lipid soluble in the traditional sense, but they do move across the membranes without transport, because of their configuration.
So both of those would work. So, which one do you choose? I have learned over the years it really is a matter of individual response and preference. So, there are some people for whom the TTFD and the Benfo work remarkably well, and there are a lot of people that is the one that they need. But there are some that it's too potent for them initially, especially those sometimes with chronic fatigue, they tend to have to start with an HCl and micro dose it. So, it's trial and error, unfortunately. As to which one is going to work for you.
[01:13:31.12] Scott: Well, I like what you just said. And actually, Dr. Nathan and I had this conversation recently, where for some people, starting with those less effective forms and working up to TTFD over time, might be another strategy to minimize some of those repletion symptoms that you were talking about.
[01:13:50.00] Dr. Chandler M.: It is, and it doesn't always work. Sometimes because of their unique genetic, they have to go hard and fast initially and just power through it. So, it really is, at this point, it's trial and error, unfortunately.
[01:14:03.08] Scott: Do you think there's any advantage to liposomal preparations of these nutrients, rather than just capsule type forms like we have currently with TTFD and Benfotiamine?
[01:14:15.13] Dr. Chandler M.: Oh, possibly. I think ideally, we would do more IV frankly. But we can't, because most physicians don't recognize it. And the reason I think IV would be so much better than anything else, is because there's so much gut dysbiosis these days. That if we could bypass that, at least initially, we could probably resolve some of the dysbiosis resolve, some of the other symptoms and then they could go to oral and it wouldn't be such a problem.
[01:14:45.09] Scott: Yes. And that's potentially another advantage of an oral liposomal liquid, rather than a capsule, because some of it is getting absorbed before it hits the gastrointestinal tract. So, is TTFD available in IV form, Or only the?
[01:15:01.00] Dr. Chandler M.: You know, I understood that it was. It is available in IM. And someone had it indicated that it had been available in IV, but I am not aware of that.
[01:15:13.08] Scott: Where does supplemental thiamine come from? And does it come from a natural material, or is it synthetically created like what's the source of thiamine?
[01:15:22.24] Dr. Chandler M.: It is a synthetic, unfortunately. Well originally, in the research, they were Allithiamine is a derivative allicin of garlic. And so I guess there's a component of it since it's natural, but they've added the molecules to make it more active. And so because when they tried to do the allicin, the allithiamine that was natural, it didn't have the same response.
[01:15:47.02] Scott: Can you talk a little bit about physiologic doses versus mega dosing, in terms of potential clinical outcomes? And then building on that, can we become thiamine toxic if we overshoot the mark?
[01:16:01.12] Dr. Chandler M.: That's a big question these days. There's quite a bit of debate on, there's no toxicity in the traditional sense, and studies have gone up to many grams of thiamine and found that there were no toxicity by traditional measures. Now, can you take too much and it have a negative effect? Yes, certainly. So, how much is too much? I don't know. There are patients, MS patients for example that of the TTFD will take a gram or two of TTFD.
In comparison, the Parkinson’s patients from Costantini’s research, which take the HCl, which is far less absorbable, but will take three grams is one of their high doses. So, that's kind of apples to oranges there in terms of the potency, but you can see. Now where do most people land in the dosing? It's all over the place.
I see a lot of people who do quite well on 150 to 300 milligrams of the Allithiamine, Lipothiamine; of the TTFD version. Where others have to take higher, but others can barely tolerate 50 milligrams. So, all of those are considered super physiological doses, because remember, the RDA says that we only need a milligram of thiamine per day.
[01:17:18.09] Scott: And that probably hasn't been revised for quite a long time, would be my guess.
[01:17:23.05] Dr. Chandler M.: Since it was set, it was set in the 80s, the 80s, in the 40s. And when they set it up, it was interesting if you go back and read the original documentation which I did for something else I was working on. Even the early researchers said that while one can survive on this, and it was better to have two or three milligrams which is still quite low in comparison. But they went to the lowest possible dosage to set their standards.
[01:17:50.02] Scott: I’m super excited to have you on as a guest today. I know people can learn more about you at HormonesMatter.com. But I know you do a lot of other great work outside of this conversation. So, what are some of the other things that people potentially can find by connecting with you through your website HormonesMatter.com?
[01:18:08.11] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, so in addition to the website and the book that you've mentioned a couple times, Thiamine Deficiency Disease, Dysautonomia, and High-Calorie Malnutrition. We published another article here recently that people might find abuse, that kind of is a, I suppose a synopsis of the entire book called “Hiding in Plain Sight: Modern Thiamine Deficiency”, and that's available online.
I have a Facebook group called “Understanding Mitochondrial Nutrients”, and it's a private Facebook group, and it is comprised of researchers, patients, physicians and whomever is interested in mitochondrial nutrients. And we talk about the spectrum of nutrients related to the mitochondria, not just thiamine.
Thiamine is obviously an important role and we talked about that a lot, but some of the other ones as well. And then I suppose if you're really interested in something fun, I am a power lifter and I run a website called “Old Ladies Lift”, because I’m old and I have a Facebook group of the same name. It's private as well for any woman over 40 years old, who is a power lifter, weightlifter, cross fitter, bodybuilder or the like.
[01:19:20.14] Scott: One of my not so long-ago podcast gets Ruth Kriz, we did a conversation on chronic UTIs and interstitial cystitis, and she is also a power lifter. So, now I know two of you.
[01:19:34.27] Dr. Chandler M.: Oh, very cool. In that group, we have almost 12,000 women, and that blew me away when I started it, I had 30 or 40 and I thought well, maybe we'll get 100 or two, there can't be that many of us old ladies. And it just grew and grew, there's a lot of them.
[01:19:55.20] Scott: My last question is the same for every guest, and that is what are some of the key things that you do on a daily basis in support of your own health?
[01:20:02.09] Dr. Chandler M.: Well, I lift weights. I do take my thiamine and other vitamins, and I eat organic to the extent possible. I don't eat a lot of carbs, let's see what else. I walk every day, just to get some sunshine. I try to sleep, but I’m old and menopausal and sleep is not as forthcoming as it used to be.
[01:20:26.28] Scott: Progesterone sometimes can be magical for sleep.
[01:20:29.29] Dr. Chandler M.: Yes, I have a SNP in one of those pathways that doesn't allow me to take it. But yes, I I do what I can just like everybody else. I eat well, I work out. I don't drink, don't smoke, those things.
[01:20:46.11] Scott: And it sounds to me like you're doing important work that is consistent with your purpose and your passion, and really helping other people. I absolutely love this conversation, even after having read the book, you made new connections and put other pearls and gems throughout.
So just want to thank you for spending time with us today, for sharing your knowledge and wisdom, and really appreciate all that you do, and want to honor you for the book and for everything you're doing to make life a little better for people. So, thank you so much for being here.
[01:21:17.28] Dr. Chandler M.: Oh thank you for having me, I enjoyed it.
[01:21:13.02] To learn more about today's guest visit HormonesMatter.com.
[01:21:29.23] Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you're enjoying the show, please leave a positive rating or review, as doing so will help the show reach a broader audience. To follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or MeWe, you can find me there as BetterHealthGuy.
To support the show, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com/donate. To be added to my newsletter, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com/newsletters. This and other shows can be found on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.
[01:22:03.15] Thanks for listening to this BetterHealthGuy Blogcast with Scott, your better health guy. To check out additional shows and learn more about Scott's personal journey to better health, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com.
Why You Should Listen
In this episode, you will learn about the use of Induced Native Phage Therapy in dealing with chronic infections.
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About My Guest
My guest for this episode is Dr. David Jernigan. David Jernigan, DNM, DC is one of the country’s top innovators of precision bioenergetic testing and treatment technologies, with his most recent innovation, INPT (Induced Native Phage Therapy) possibly being one of his most important technologies to date. He is constantly pushing the limits of research and development with a passion to get ever closer to 100% cure rate. He was the first to publish a book on the natural treatment of people suffering from post-treatment Lyme Disease and is a published author of five books, with his best-seller being, “Beating Lyme Disease, 2nd Edition”. He is nationally recognized as a leader in the purest form of medical treatment philosophy, Biological and Bioregulatory Medicine. For 27 years, Dr. Jernigan and his team of doctors have only treated the toughest cases, with almost 90% of patients coming from other states and countries for his unique testing and treatments. He has trained doctors to utilize his powerful new technologies in his flagship clinic, the Biologix Center for Optimum Health, in Franklin, Tennessee, specializing in the treatment of chronic illness and previously considered incurable cases.
- What are phages and where do they originate?
- How difficult is it to find phages in our environment?
- Are phages always health-promoting?
- How does a phage lead to the demise of an organism?
- Does each bacteria or bacterial species have its own phage?
- How does INPT induce native phages?
- Can multiple phages be induced simultaneously?
- Does INPT lead to Herxheimer reactions?
- What was the success rate with INPT in a recent research paper?
- Do lab tests exist for Borrelia phages? Bartonella? Others?
- Can phages be used to address fungal colonization from exposure to water-damaged buildings?
- Are phages helpful in addressing Candida overgrowth?
- Might a phage be helpful in addressing MARCoNS?
- Do phages work for parasites?
- Can phages deal with viruses such as EBV or Herpes Zoster?
- Does the right phage for the triggering infection bring resolution to conditions believed to be autoimmune?
Connect With My Guest
February 10, 2022
[00:00:01.07] Welcome to BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts, empowering your better health. And now, here's Scott, your Better Health Guy.
[00:00:13.26] The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.
[00:00:34.04] Scott: Hello everyone, and welcome to episode number 161 of the BetterHealthGuy Blogcast series. Today's guest is Dr. David Jernigan, and the topic of the show is Phage Therapy. Dr. David Jernigan is one of the country's top innovators of precision bioenergetic testing and treatment technologies, with his most recent innovation INPT or Induced Native Phage Therapy, possibly being one of his most important technologies to date.
He is constantly pushing the limits of research and development, with a passion to get even closer to 100 percent cure rate. He was the first to publish a book on natural treatment of people suffering from post-treatment Lyme disease, and is a published author of five books, with his bestselling being “Beating Lyme Disease, Second Edition”.
He is nationally recognized as a leader in the purest form of medical treatment philosophy, biological and bioregulatory medicine. For 27 years, Dr. Jernigan and his team of doctors have only treated the toughest cases, with almost 90 percent of patients coming from other states and countries for his unique testing and treatments. He has trained doctors to utilize his powerful new technologies in his flagship clinic, The Biologix Center for Optimum Health in Franklin, Tennessee, specializing in the treatment of chronic illness and previously considered incurable diseases. And now, my interview with Dr. David Jernigan.
I had Dr. Jernigan on the podcast early on episode 24, back when I was using Skype to record calls. He was my first guest that did the podcast on his cell phone, and I ended up with a full hour of nothing but his nose on video. That's why that episode became audio-only, but fortunately, today, we will get to see more of him than just his nose. Thanks for being here, Dr. Jernigan.
[00:02:35.26] Dr. Jernigan: I sure appreciate you having me.
[00:02:38.17] Scott: What is a phage? Where do phages originate? Do they originate from bacteria themselves, or are they already within us?
[00:02:48.02] Dr. Jernigan: Well, they're everywhere present, they're ubiquitous in nature is what article after article in the peer-reviewed text will tell you, is that they're ubiquitous in nature and they're the dominant species on the planet. Humans, in comparison, are almost non-existent; I mean, what is it? Three billion on the planet, I haven't really kept up with the world population.
[00:03:13.12] Scott: I think it's seven or eight.
[00:03:15.12] Dr. Jernigan: Is it really? Okay.
[00:03:17.24] Scott: I know you're always busy researching, so you get a pass.
[00:03:21.27] Dr. Jernigan: So I'm going to tell you a number that I've never, I can't conceive of the number, but in peer review, it says that the experts estimate that there are 10 million trillion, trillion bacteriophages and phages on the whole on the planet. There are so many of them that if they were the size of grains of sand, they would completely cover the earth and be 50 miles deep. Okay, so if they were the size of ladybugs, they would completely cover the earth and be 31,000 miles deep, if you can fathom that number.
So compare that to even maybe the entire human population from the beginning of time; it is minuscule in comparison to 10 million trillion trillion. And for those people that are not used to talking about phages, a phage is a virus that only infects another microbe. Okay, now people get scared when they hear about a virus, but a bacteriophage is a virus that will infect bacteria.
So to keep that into perspective, they will not infect human cells, so these are not the same as your flu and other types of viruses, Epstein Barr and stuff like that. But there are bacteriophages, and there are mycophages that infect molds and Candida type yeasts and things like that, and then there are even virophages, phages that infect other phages.
So it's this, our expanded idea of where they were, where they came from, did they come from bacteria? Definitely not. They were actually kind of like just another thing from the beginning of time, and they've been warring of sorts with bacteria and all these other microbes since the beginning of time. They say they're everywhere present, so where are they not? I mean, it's not possible to have a bacteria practically that doesn't already have an infection itself of a bacteriophage.
[00:05:45.04] Scott: They are introduced into the body when we acquire the microbes that they're hosted within.
[00:05:51.28] Dr. Jernigan: Yes. And that was one of my epiphanies that hit me when I first started dealing with this again. I started my work on this in 2014, but I basically shelved it because I was missing some pieces. But when the various epiphanies hit me, that was one of them was just kind of going what if every infection is already infected, and when that tick bites you or the mosquito bites you, or you acquire the infection through any other way, through a cut in the skin or sexual transmission or French kissing or whatever it is that you did, that infection entered the body already infected with its bacteriophage.
Now, it's important for people to understand that for every type of bacteria, there is a specific type of bacteriophage that will use that bacteria as a host. Now viruses, it's being debated again and kind of thought again about whether viruses can be said to be alive, you know a lot of the time say they're not alive. And the only reason they're not considered alive is because they cannot self-replicate, okay. The definition of something alive, by whoever set up that definition said hey, you must be able to self-replicate. So that means a virus cannot make more viruses in and of itself, there's no male and female viruses, and so it needs a host.
Now, bacteriophage is only specific to the type of bacteria that you're dealing with. So it's like it will only use typically one type of bacteria. So Staphylococcus aureus has a Staphylococcus aureus bacteriophage that uses that specific type of bacteria as a host to replicate more of those phages.
So Borrelia burgdorferi has a different bacteriophage than the Staph did; it has its own type of phage, well guess what? All the different types of Borrelia also have their own specific type of bacteriophage. So if you say Borrelia miyamotoi, that has its own Borrelia miyamotoi bacteriophage that will infect that, and use it as a host exclusively.
[00:08:21.08] Scott: So what is the job then of these phages, what's their life cycle, their purpose? Are they defense mechanisms to protect humans that we just really have not until recently been aware of?
[00:08:35.08] Dr. Jernigan: Their purpose, literally, you might see it as the balancer of the planet, to keep other types of species from overpopulating. So again, researchers estimate that there are a trillion trillion infections, new microbe infections by phages per second on the planet. And that they kill 40% of the bacteria on the planet every day.
So you might kind of go, why not just kill all of them? Why don't the phages just go out and kill all the bad bacteria? I mean, then we wouldn't be alive because they'd also kill all the friendly bacteria, the bacteria that we need for health. Friendly flora, if you will, the microbiome of the body, if bacteriophages didn't stop at 40% every day, they'd wipe them out too, right? So when the bacteriophage infects the bacteria, it lands on top of it. So if this is your bacteria, it lands on top of it, and it sticks essentially like a hypodermic needle inside of the bacteria and injects it with its own genetic code that gets integrated into the genetic engine of that bacteria.
So in that way, the bacteria's genetic engine can start cranking out lots and lots, up to 5200 they say more prophages they're called at this point inside of that bacteria, so many that finally, the sheer volume and the different enzymes they secrete rupture the bacteria, killing it, and all of those 5200 prophages spill into the body and go find more of that type of bacteria.
So if all that phage activity against that type of bacteria, let's say it's a Borrelia burgdorferi type of phage, you might want it to go and kill everyone, of course, every patient would love that. But the phages use chemical signaling to each other, to actually say hey, we've killed the 40% essentially, everybody stop killing anymore, don't do anything, because they want to protect the host, because, without the host, the virus would die itself with nothing to replicate.
[00:11:05.02] Scott: So do we find these phages outside of the body as well? Are they important in balancing of ecosystems in nature, for example?
[00:11:15.11] Dr. Jernigan: Yes, actually that 40 percent number is something we found out from all of the ocean waters and inland waters that you can look at; they've just estimated about 40 percent of that balancing effect. You're not wiping out whole populations of bacteria; you're actually just modulating the population on the planet at all times.
[00:11:37.19] Scott: Why is it that sewage is a place that researchers look for phages and catalog and create libraries from?
[00:11:45.26] Dr. Jernigan: Well, because they want to go where bacteria are, and where are bacteria? It's going to be in dirt and sewage and manure. They look everywhere they can think of for new types of bacteriophages, and so there are just incredible libraries now of catalogued and stored bacteriophages that they can use, that they've found out in nature.
But let's kind of keep it in perspective a little bit; they say that, let's say there are roughly 1.5 trillion cells in the body, something like 53% of the cells of your body are not even human cells; they're bacteria. So we are, by definition, if you're going to say the presence of bacteria is what illness is or something that, then you are a walking talking infection. I mean, there's more of them than there are of our own cells. Now you consider the phages that live inside of your body, they say in one milliliter of saliva. Okay, that's a tiny amount.
I know Americans typically don't know one milliliter, but there's 30 milliliters in one fluid ounce, okay. So if you have a one-ounce dropper bottle, just think about that and just say okay, but in one milliliter, there are 100 billion phages all the time. Not all the same kind either; there's just like as many types of bacteria that are in your body, you will have phages. But you don't have every kind of phage on the planet, because you don't have every kind of bacteria on the planet.
So you cannot have a Borrelia burgdorferi bacteriophage in your body if you do not have any Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria in your body, because they need that one type to actually replicate over and over, more and more phages. So essentially, kind of a question you already asked is, do they help us in regulating the bacteria? I really think they do.
It's essentially the virome like everyone talks about the microbiome, but the virome of your body, most of those viruses that are floating around the body are not even harming us; they're actually helping us. I've come to the debatable perspective that when there's an imbalance in even the friendly flora, there's probably an imbalance in the phage activity that's going on there, because normally, the phages will help us regulate infections.
[00:14:20.23] Scott: So that's an interesting comment, normally the phages will help us regulate infections, which leads me to ask. Are phases always health-promoting in the body, or is there a concept of a pathogenic phase that could be health negating? In other words, are they always friend, or can they, at times under certain conditions, be foe?
[00:14:41.05] Dr. Jernigan: Well, they can definitely; they're dominantly our friends, okay. But there can definitely be times, in unusual circumstances such as using fluoroquinolone type antibiotics to try to kill bacteria, it actually has been shown that things like Cipro, which is a fluoroquinolone class of antibiotic. Cipro will activate phages to instead of do their normal thing, which isn't dangerous, to activate just the genetic aspect of the bacterial host to start cranking out tons and tons of toxins.
So you've made a bad infection even more deadly. You think about sepsis and things where you know, a lot of people think sepsis is about the bacteria accumulating in the blood or something like that. But it's actually the toxins of some of these bacteria that actually creates a lot of the damaging effects and the sepsis.
[00:15:39.12] Scott: So you talked about how phages within the body would at most deal with about 40% of any microbial overgrowth at a specific time, that they're not going to fully eliminate it. So let's then talk about your invention, your research, INPT or Induced Native Phage Therapy.
Is that technology something that potentially then can eliminate more than 40%? Can it potentially eliminate a hundred percent of a specific organism? Or is there some aspect of INPT that is needed in terms of a maintenance therapy overtime to keep the phages activated?
[00:16:21.15] Dr. Jernigan: So it's important for your listeners to think about a phage; there are two different life cycles. The one that you're asking about, where the normal process of life for a phage is to get the bacteria to replicate more and more, and that's what I call typically like farming the bacteria. Because if you think of a rancher, he doesn't just say okay, it's time to take the cattle to the market, and so he takes his entire herd; he only takes those that he doesn't want for breeding stock, okay.
So the viruses do the same thing; the phages will do the same thing, okay. They actually only kill that 60% of the population, leaving 40% now to be the breeders, and allow that bacteria population to once again populate replicate more and more bacteria, okay. Overnight essentially, they're just accumulating again that population of bacteria, and then go start the whole process over again, down to about the 40 percent. So that is that process of farming the bacteria is something called lysogenic activities, lysogenic, okay.
So the opposite of that would be where, due to different stimuli, and this is one of the things that clued me in, was like a peer-reviewed article that said during different influences, sometimes very subtle influences on the human, the virus that's a phage can turn lytic. So we had lysogenic, now we have lytic, which you might think of as virulence, okay. It just goes crazy and kills all of their hosts, okay.
So this can be subtle things like pH changes, it could be electromagnetic fields just from your environment, it could be all kinds of things, it could be a medication that modifies the phage. I mean, many people know that Epstein Barr virus, which is a human virus, it's not a bacteriophage or any other kind of phage; it's actually a human virus. It can get activated just by medications you took, some sort of medication, and it goes lytic, which means it goes active again, it goes crazy from where it was before, and it's just basic dormant lysogenic type of activities.
So the concept of farming versus swarming, I call it, where they actually, the phages just go and kill 100% of the infection, is documented pretty well in all the different literature. Of course, they're talking typically about not Induced Native Phage Therapy; nobody else had ever postulated that you should be able to turn on these phages that already entered your body with the bacteria infection, right? So the rest of the world, which is a brilliant model, is taking, like you said, phages that they found in sewage or phages that they found in manure, phages they found in humans maybe, I don't know where they're finding them all, but anyway wherever bacteria are present.
Typically, what those types of centers are doing, mostly in Europe like Georgia, the ex-part of Russia, what used to be part of the USSR, not Georgia the state. They would actually match your infection, like culture your infection in a laboratory, let's say, and then they would take from their library of these stages that they have on hand and introduce it into the petri dish with your bacteria, and see which phages actually will kill those bacteria.
So there is a huge push around the world as antibiotics are starting to become more of a problem than a correction. I mean, it's really gotten bad with bacterial mutations and things, making it where people, I think it's number three cause of death in the world now, is antibiotic-resistant infections.
So there are some great centers like the Taylor Lab in Baylor Medical Center in Texas; they're doing some phenomenal things and starting to actually make inroads to making that type of bacteriophage therapy available to a lot of people. What my idea was, really was that idea that the phages are ubiquitous in nature, they're so prevalent that I was like kind of going, it's almost an impossibility in my mind that you could get some bacterial infection entering your body that didn't already have bacteriophages within it.
So the native means just simply that it's already in your body, it cannot turn against you okay, all these ideas that it might hurt you, and it might turn against you, or it might wipe out all your friendly flora. Hopefully, I've answered that already.
It's like one type of phage against one type of bacteria, so you're not going to get it wiping out your friendly flora suddenly just because we activate it, nor any other type of friendly bacteria. It only will go after the type of bacteria that it's supposed to go after. So that's the concept of native phages, and to induce, obviously, was an obvious word when I was thinking about what to call this because I am causing these native phages to go virulent, to turn lytic against their hosts.
[00:22:16.10] Scott: So when someone utilizes this technology that you've developed INPT, is that something that largely addresses the microbial overgrowth and you're done? Or is there a maintenance aspect over time that you need to continue to activate or induce the phages?
[00:22:35.28] Dr. Jernigan: Well, we had to ask all these same questions too, because nobody had ever done this before. Matter of fact, I was the first doctor to even present research at the 1999 International Tick-borne Diseases conference. I mean, Willie Burgdorfer was there, Joseph Burrascano, all the giants were there, and here's this one doctor, chiropractor who's actually presenting research, laboratory proof that said look, we're proving that this actually does work.
In that research, in all of my books I ended up writing, I've written four books on Lyme disease and the treatment of people with that diagnosis using natural means, trying to get people to understand that it's not just the bug. So if anybody read any of my old books, you're going to see they're kind of antiquated now, compared to what we're doing, because I always taught that health is not the absence of all the bad guys. Well, how do we know?
Well, you have, I can't even count; I was trying to come up with a realistic number, but I can't even think of how many times a husband and wife came in; I tested both of them with the lab tests through IGeneX, and we did the LUAT test back in the day, and the Western blot and IgM, IgG and it would come back highly positive for the husband and the wife, but only maybe the wife had the disease, had the illness. Husband never, I've known some of these people ever since, I've been in practice almost 30 years, and the husband never did get it.
He still has the infection probably, or she has no symptoms, but she has the infection, and he has the illness. So even way back then in my books, I was like, okay, well obviously, having the infection doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to get sick with any kind of microbe, and it's been fascinating all of my career to watch the industry. So I mean, the world is infinitely different now than it was in the 90s when I first got started; I mean, Lyme had only been identified back in the late 80s.
So here I am, nobody knew anything that I was finding, which was oh my gosh, there was just people from all over the country and all over the world coming to me, and they weren't even supposed to have Lyme disease; obviously, it was in Lyme, Connecticut and only in New England. These people had never been to New England, and I'm trying to convince them more than anything else that I'm right, that they do have the infection, right? It has been a quite a journey, but to see the industry run from Borrelia burgdorferi initially, to then they go to the Babesia microti, and we all ran towards that and tried to figure out solutions for that, because that's why a bunch of our patients weren't getting well. We did what we could do for the Borrelia, but they're still not well; oh, it's the Babesia now causing it. Well, then it was Ehrlichia, we got to start now looking at Ehrlichia, and everyone ran towards that.
And then it was like all kinds of things yeast, and everyone would do well; we were already against yeast and parasites and heavy metals even way back then, but it's just been this journey. Then it was Bartonella henselae, well now there's like 20 different Bartonellas you need to actually look for, there are 20 something different Borrelia bacteria that we now need to look for, that the lab tests most of them don't even detect, because the labs just can't run huge panels of, and find every type that a person might have.
So it is a different thing for me to try to now educate patients, that if I'm successful, guess what these phages will do? They do what phages do when they turn lytic; they just annihilate the entire population of the targeted bacteria. It's incredible because number one, that can happen depending on how big the population is of bacteria in your body; it could happen virtually overnight. If there's not that many, you've done a whole lot of work on yourself; I'm serious.
It's like imagine a treatment that you're only taking the medicine for four days, and you don't have horrible side effects; we'll get into that, I'm sure, later, but it's gone. Not mostly gone, not in remission, okay. Remission is a temporary pause, usually, in your symptoms. It cannot be placebo. I mean, people, I'm trying to throw out there all these things that my opponents would say to me this was like oh, it's just placebo, it's like you can't placebo yourself out of having an infection. Let's say it was a flesh-eating infection, and you really love me, and you think my medicine works great, but it's a belief system no, that infection has not gone away.
Your symptom might improve because a placebo just through your believing, but the actual infection is not going to be gone. Try to placebo a tapeworm out of a body or something like that; no, not going to happen. No matter how much you love me and think that I'm awesome, right? Or think that the medicine that you're taking is like a sugar pill and doesn't do anything. So another realization that's attached to this question that you asked me is, do you now have some sort of immunity? No.
But the cool thing is, and why do we know you don't? Because we're not at all involving your immune system. There's no; I'm not trying to activate your immune system; I don't even want to use your immune system for anything other than being the cleanup crew, to clean up the mess of dead bacteria, okay. Because when you see it happen in a petri dish and the phages kill the bacteria, it literally looks like a grenade went off inside of that bacteria, just huge tiny little cloud of pieces that explodes the bacteria. So all there is, is tiny little pieces, okay. So the interesting thing that somebody should understand is if you get re-infected, let's say another tick or mosquito or some biting insect bites you or maybe you had intercourse with somebody that had the Borrelia infection and they give it to you, those bacteria are now entering your body also with phages that have never seen the inducing frequencies, the induced phage therapy, right? So those phages, according to what we've seen, respond just as quickly to the induced native page therapies as the original infection.
[00:29:33.15] Scott: So you mentioned that Borrelia.
[00:29:35.05] Dr. Jernigan: Before you go there before you go with that question, I want to say something. Dr. Lida Mattman was a friend of mine. She was a researcher on stealth pathogens. I want to say this to people, this is like, your immune system is never going to fix the Borrelia, okay. So cranking up your immune system with immune system stimulators and boosters, your immune system cannot see this bacteria; it's like the stealth bomber in the air force and stuff like that.
It's invisible to radar, to some degree. Well, to some degree, this is also largely a stealth microbe, she would call it. So Lida Mattman was nominated at our Nobel prize and things like that for her work, but somebody that says, well, is this going to crank up your immune system, what I'm doing, what the phage work is doing? No. Even if it did, it can't see it. So no, it's not going to really affect the process here.
Which is really cool, because a lot of the people that we see have such a dysregulated and dysfunctional immune response to things; they have mast cell activation syndrome, they have histamine up the wazoo, and they're just hyper-reactive to everything, even their immune system is, it overreacts to stimulus to the point where they're reacting to the entire world including the microbial and viral world. These are already viruses living harmoniously in your body; the phages are. And they will actually stay that way, even after they've killed the last bacteria.
Matter of fact, the phages themselves die four days after the last bacteria is dead, so they don't even persist in your body. So it's not like now you have this cool phage army that now is ready the next time you get infected, no. They die, because there's nothing else there to replicate that type of phage.
[00:31:46.05] Scott: I definitely think your point about immune-boosting is an important one. I see that as kind of a common trap that people just want to boost their immune system, when I would argue that it's immune modulation, that the immune dysregulation and hypervigilance is really the bigger problem. That it's not so much about boosting, but more about modulating.
And it's interesting that we've been looking outside of ourselves for the solution to Lyme disease for decades, and what you're finding is that the solution is already within us, and we just need to induce it, which is a very different way of thinking about things. I mean, it's really hard to even kind of wrap your mind around it.
Earlier in the conversation, you mentioned that Borrelia would have a different phage from a Staph organism, for example. You suggested that different Borrelias would also have different phages. So if there are 50 different types of Borrelia, dozens of Bartonellas, multiple Babesias, for example, do we need a different inducer for each one of those? And then extending on that, what happens if the organism itself mutates within a person such that it no longer is induced by that specific frequency or that specific inducer? Is that a possibility?
[00:33:04.18] Dr. Jernigan: Yes. Actually, there are different inducers that are needed for each and every type of infection that you might have. So it would require a totally different inducer from the INPT perspective to induce the Borrelia burgdorferi than it would from the Borrelia miyamotoi type of infection and duncani and all the other ones.
So yes, you would definitely need one type of inducer for each thing. So when we first got started, when I first started doing this, it was interesting because when you're the first one to postulate something, you don't have any book to turn to, so I actually just had to watch and see, I didn't know, it's like dude is this going to work if we mix two inducers in the same remedy? I knew it would work pretty quickly on just one at a time, but can I mix it? Sure.
So now the inducen LDRF that we published in the peer review journal article about, it actually has inducers for each and every type of thing that I would typically see over my three decades of doing this, almost where there's just a whole predictable type of infection load in a chronically ill type of Lyme patient. So it has all of the different, now, it's taken a while to accumulate this, but it's like we have all of the different types of borrelia represented in there, so no type of beryllia that you can name do we not already have in that formula as an inducer. We have all the Babesias, all the Bartonellas, all the Mycoplasma like fermentans incognitus, we have just a whole slew of things in there. Ehrlichia is in there, and just an array of things, so it's a monster remedy. If anybody wants to see the list of bacteria, it is at my website. If you go to PhagenCorp.com, this isn't a promo, just to kind of like I know that listeners are probably going to say, well, what's in there?
[00:35:17.02] Scott: It's fine. I was going to ask you anyway, so.
[00:35:18.19] Dr. Jernigan: Yes. So PhagenCorp is the name of the company that I've set up, because I'm like going, oh my gosh, we need to get this out there to the sick and dying, okay, the sick and suffering to relieve some of this, and so I set up a separate company to do that and that's called phagencorp.com. You can go to our medicines, and right now, I just have up there probably about halfway down the page; you can click on a link that takes you to what organism, what bacteria are included in that one formula, okay.
So it's kind of nice because when antibiotics get credited for killing and curing the infections, it is usually very broad spectrum in its action; it's killing all kinds of bad guys, not just the target one. Most people don't realize that the medical research says that, at best, our antibiotics that we use today will only kill 85 percent of the targeted bacteria ever. So that leaves 15 percent now mutated, and antibiotic-resistant to that one type of antibiotic.
So switching from a pill form of that antibiotic to an IV form of that antibiotic isn't really going to do anything; the bacteria have already mutated, as you said, to get away from that antibiotic. Sometimes within just like minutes of taking the first dose. So a lot of the die-off, which is a misunderstanding of the science, much of those that Herxheimer reaction is actually being caused by the medications effect, not the actual dyeing of bacteria.
[00:37:05.04] Scott: So I'm probably over thinking that if we think about mutations, the organisms came into the body with the phages that could then address them. If the organism mutates within the human host, is there a possibility that it's mutated such that its original phage no longer affects it?
[00:37:25.18] Dr. Jernigan: It has been a battle from the beginning of time; if you think of the phage and bacteria relationship that they've had since the beginning of time, okay. So over that millennia of time, bacteria have developed different defense mechanisms against phages, okay. So most people have heard about genetic splicing, where we're doing gene therapies, where they cut out parts of the genetic material and insert their own kind.
[00:37:58.20] Scott: Like CRISPR?
[00:38:00.04] Dr. Jernigan: CRISPR-Cas is a bacterial defense mechanism against phages. So they just said, wow, let's just do that on purpose, we'll do that, and we can cut the genetic material. So literally, the bacteria can produce this CRISPR-Cas enzyme that just destroys or at least stops the phages from being able to successfully infect them. So obviously, some get through, but some don't; otherwise, the phages would just die off.
So I just read research just last week that was published saying that they now know that the phages mutate to, in response to the mutations of the bacteria. So like, if an antibiotic is pushing this bacteria around, the phages will modify themselves as well to still be able to use it as a host. It's pretty amazing, because people that have had the Induced Native Phage Therapy are sometimes not understanding that this is a battle.
This isn't a chemical medicine; everything up to this point pretty much has been a chemical that you introduce to the body, it has a predictable outcome, and everything generally works. Like when you take an antihistamine, it's going to do what it does, because it has that chemical in there.
Well, when we're treating by trying to activate the bacteriophages, you're dealing with almost like a child, if you can imagine. It's like try to get your child to behave all the time, to do what you want them to do all the time. To pick up their clothes, to make their bed, to go to school on time, to do their homework, whatever it is, okay. Well, the bacteria phages are living essentially, okay.
They don't say they're alive, but every other one way that you can look at it is this living organism, and it's coming against another living organism, and it's a battle that takes place, and the outcome we all want the phage to win, but the bacteria are fighting back. But the cool thing about a lot of this is the phages, and the bacteria have never seen this type of situation, and the phages, when they go lytic, they kill the population so rapidly that the bacteria really seem to not have the ability many times to mutate and defend themselves successfully. It is one of those situations where it would be nice if it was just some chemical thing, where you get a chemical response in the body, and it's a very predictable thing. Nut the dominant thing that we see like well over 90 percent of the time is that the phages win, and that infection is gone.
[00:40:52.26] Scott: You alluded earlier to the fact that INPT, that induction is essentially using a frequency that's activating the phages to induce this defense mechanism against the bacteria in the body. Would you say this is a new class of energy medicine? Can we view this as sort of a software program that is then programming the phases to do what they do?
[00:41:20.20] Dr. Jernigan: Well, in this day and age, I've kind of dropped the whole software programming since debatably the powers that they are kind of manipulating software. But epigenetics, when they did the human genome project to map the human genome, they realized that they're not going to find the answer to all the different illnesses on the planet in the genome, that there were four million epigenetic switches that they had been throwing away when they were doing their work, they'd say okay, this is just excess material around the DNA, they didn't realize it was the four million epigenetic switches that actually, I like to say the DNA is a lot like a blueprint for building a house, okay.
Once it's on the blueprint, your walls and doors and windows and your roofline and the way your house looks structurally, pretty much always will stay the same. This is kind of why we all wake up looking in the mirror, and we still look like us, okay. It's not going to change. But epigenetics is these switches that when they get flipped, essentially it looks, that's where the sofa is one day, or maybe you decided to move it to another place. You hung a picture over here, the trash can is over here, and it's like okay, so these things are changeable, and the ability to go from lysogenic, where they're just farming the bacteria, to lytic, where they absolutely swarm and kill them all, is not a function of genetics, but a function of epigenetics.
Now, this isn't just me saying this, this is actually published research, and so, that is manipulated via electromagnetic, subtle electromagnetic frequencies. So much more subtle than your cell phone. Your cell phone is blasting your body with frequencies. If you're scared of frequencies and saying something like that, then don't ever touch your computer and laptop and get rid of your smart house, which I think you should do anyway. I think your house should be hardwired, no wi-fi. But that's a whole nother thing if you realized how easy; what this research also shows is how easy it is to manipulate the viruses when you know how to do it, with just basically very subtle frequencies. So the question as to whether this is a new class of energy medicine, absolutely. It's not anything that you can name. I mean, people try to say, oh, is this radionics? No. Is it rife? No. Is it homeopathy? No. I mean, there's no dilutions and succussions of homeopathy, there's no, it's not rife.
All these technologies are fine for what they would do, and I feel like I cut my teeth on all those technologies and eventually let them fall away just because they just were very limited. You're only as good as the best frequencies you knew that ran, and it's a very simplistic thing, let's run one frequency for borrelia burgdorferi or even if you had ten frequencies for Borrelia burgdorferi, or 100 frequencies, that's still so very simplistic.
I mean, does it work to some degree? Yes, I'm not coming against that. But I'm just clarifying, when you're talking about electromagnetic frequencies, you have to understand too those frequencies, and that term is really just this umbrella term that is often used to just talk about energy. Of course, energy is the ability to do work; okay, that's the webster definition. But it's really more than just frequencies that you have to have the answer to; you have to be able to figure out the microamps, you have to figure out the wave slope, the polarity and the frequency, which we call hertz, right? For each and every little thing that we do. So obviously, you're not going to say that; you're just going to call it frequency.
So it's not just hey; I'm going to get a frequency generator. You know I've had all kinds of devices, I even had Lakhovsky’s Multiple Wave Oscillator in my early clinic, and every time I would turn it on, my phone system would say this number is no longer in service. I tried to shield it with my lead shield from my x-ray machine, and it's like you couldn't shield it, it looked like something coming out of a Frankenstein movie with all the electrical sparks coming off, and it was just another one of those technologies though. But this is not anything that has come prior.
[00:45:56.28] Scott: So, given that INPT is using frequency to induce phages which I love, I've said for years that the solution will come in some frequency form, and so this is super exciting. But what role do you think man-made environmental EMFs or frequencies might be playing in contributing to these chronic infectious states in the first place.
[00:46:20.21] Dr. Jernigan: Oh my goodness, that's a huge, absolutely maybe even a hundred percent of the time, there is environmental frequencies that are interfering with the regulation of our bodies. I mean, when we can get people away from their cell phone, like our clinic has a no cell phone policy. There are designated places you can go, but we literally have meters that we walk around the clinic to make sure you're not cheating, and you're inadvertently hurting the person next to you, maybe who is trying to get well. Is it the salt in the cut, or did it cause the cut? I think a lot of the time, it's the salt in the cut, and sometimes it's actually what cuts you.
So when you're that desperately sick, which is all that we see, okay. We don't see easy cases usually ever; we've never. We're not a family practice that sometimes sees some tough cases; we only see tough cases. Matter of fact, sometimes our doctors we look at each other and just go we need a healthier sick person, because nobody would pick this type of field for the fun of it, because it's really just, I mean we have fun, because we have so many different inventions and technologies, we can bring to bear on a patient that we get to win a lot.
Especially now with phages, I can tell you in the old days I do phone consultations, and I'd hear these infections going, raging these people that have these infections, and they would just, you just look at it, and you just know this is going to be a battle, and it's going to take a while, right? Because of that, it's really hard to be excited and keep rallying them and say, okay, well, doing nothing is a horrible idea; I spent time treating patients in Africa.
You really get to see what do nothing does; these diseases just get so out of control in Africa where there's not access to good treatment, right? So doing nothing is not a good idea. Doing the same things that you've already done that didn't work and maybe even damaged you is a terrible idea. So I'm always like going well, no guarantees, I wish I could, we're just going to do something dramatically different like what we do in our center, just may be what you need.
But now, I'm so freaking excited, like now when I do phone consults and stuff, and I look at their file, I'm like going, please come. Man, I just wish I had all my career over to do over again because of induced native page therapy. It's just that exciting, but it has taught a huge lesson, and I hope everybody's still with us listening to this because you need to look at phage therapy, whether you're doing Induced Native Phage Therapy or even the classic bacteriophage therapy like I was talking about was taking place at Baylor Medical Center in Texas with the Taylor Lab.
I don't care what kind you're doing; it's analogous to finding termites in your house. If you find that you have termites that just started maybe working away on the wood of your house, you can call an exterminator, and it kills all the termites, and because you caught it early, life goes back to normal. And when the storm winds kick up, your house isn't going to fall down, right? But if it's been there a long time, simply killing the termites is just part of the treatment that's great; it's wonderful. Yay, we killed all the infection.
But the wood damage remains; the damage in the body is what I'm talking about, remains. And it's not like even I've seen this with people in my career for a long time to where they would even kind of think of toxins if we go into that aspect of things, and we talk about toxic substances, and we're going to grab onto them with chelating agents, and we're going to pull them out of the body and life is just going to go back to normal because you cleaned it up, you mopped it up, you swept it up. You eliminated it from the body; you did 40 chelation therapies and stuff whatever you did.
Well, we call it a toxin because it damages tissues. It is another termite that is damaging the nerves; it's damaging your organs, it's damaging things. It's like literally like thinking that if you had acid, like a hydrochloric acid in your lungs, it's going to damage, it's going to literally burn the lungs to the point to where simply pouring in something that will neutralize the acid, while wonderful it's going to stop the progress.
There's so much more to healing than just that. You're going to have to go in now, and so the shock to a lot of patients with INPT is the idea that wow, if you really got rid of my infection, then why aren't I just perfectly well? Why can't I now walk? Where the infection destroyed my ability to walk? Why can't I use my brain? If you really did what you said you would do, people get that attitude of like yes, what we see is if it's an early infection, you really don't have a lot of tissue damage yet; it's just gone. I mean, from what we can see and from the lab testing. It's just gone, and the symptoms go away. But if it's like a lot of damage, which can happen rapidly with some people, it's going to take some time.
We've all historically generationally been taught by our medical doctors that you will be well once we can kill all these infections, and that's just not the case is I know that you know this because it's like if it was easy as that, it would be wonderful. It goes back to what I used to say, the absence of infection isn't health. It's the husband and wife both have the infection, both have everything the same, but one is sick, and one never get sick, okay. What does that one person who doesn't get sick have that the other one doesn't? And that was always my impetus of trying to create that in the sick person.
[00:52:50.01] Scott: So when we're talking about INPT and your clinical work, how do you determine which phases need to be activated in a specific person? Is that using your bio spectral emission sequencing system? And are you now finding that a phage or phage activation is always the best solution? Or are you still using herbs and homeopathy in some patients?
[00:53:14.11] Dr. Jernigan: Well, yes, we use the adjunctive testing like the Biospectral Emission Sequencing, to as an in-house way to determine what types of infections we believe are in the body. And then, the only thing that will actually be a primary diagnosis obviously is a lab test, and even most lab tests aren't a primary diagnosis as you know, your typical Lyme Western blot test it's not a primary diagnosis. If you look at the bottom of the page, it says this doesn't rule in or rule out the presence of anything.
It's an agreement, that if you had certain aspects of that test are positive, that yes, it's most likely that you have it. But like a PSA test on a man, that's not a primary diagnosis; you cannot use that as a definitive guide to prostate cancer. Many things that we do; the only thing like in cancer, the only primary diagnosis is a biopsy. So all these other imaging technologies, and people that make declarations and say thus say if me you have Lyme or anything else, there are adjunctive tests that we that doctors have come up with to try to figure it out, because if it was easy to figure out stuff, all the other previous doctors would have already figured you out.
Okay, so in our kind of clinic, I've developed over the many years of doing this, a way that we can to kind of use your words, access the software of the human body. All I mean is the energy fields that contain all the information of your body, and that used to be called bio-resonant scanning.
I mean, when I first developed that, it was an offshoot of several other techniques that I modified and turned it into something so brand new, I as a young doctor, I was like, oh my gosh, we're going to win the Nobel prize with this I mean, dude, I said this person according to my test has malaria, he's asymptomatic, I did the test and the lab which was lab core, it wasn't some fly by night lab, it was lab core the largest lab in the country, this was the first guy I tested my hypothesis with, this type of testing and the lab tech called me and says oh my gosh, this guy has malaria, and I'm like I know, isn't that cool?
And he says, well, how did you figure it out? And I was like, well, you don't want to go there. But I kept copies of that lab just in case men in black came and confiscated my stuff because of my going; it's the proof, original proof that it was what it was. So now, almost 30 years later, we're way beyond all that now. So bio-spectral emission sequencing is a way of sequencing literally electromagnetic sentences, very eloquent sentences. So you imagine the difference between somebody telling you to use a frequency with a rife machine, okay. That's one thing or doing computer bio-meridian type testing, where they're holding on to the things, and it's just running through a bunch of, I don't care if it's 10,000 different frequencies for things.
It's kind of an applause meter in my mind where it's like, it says, well, what does your body think about broccoli, just for example. If good yes, yes, the applause meter goes off, well, you don't know as a practitioner is that yes, because you're allergic to it, is it yes, because you've been juicing it for so long that you're now toxic to something in the broccoli, or is it yes, that you actually need that substance, you just don't know. It's fine for what it does, and it was an advancement on guessing; we definitely don't want to guess as doctors as much as possible.
So the Biospectral Emission Sequencing is just a very eloquent way, and I could not do any of the INPT without it. Matter of fact, when I was publishing the research on the inducing formulas and INPT for Lyme and Relapsing Fever, I was like going, you know if the world will acknowledge what I've done, what I've achieved, what I have accomplished here, even in a small way, you have to agree also to how I achieved it. You can't say, oh, well, that won't work.
You can appreciate the fact that I went to a conference, one of the many conferences we all go to, for continuing education, and I was talking to a PhD who was a vendor at the conference, and I thought I had a kindred spirit I could talk to, he was like PhD, and he goes oh no, that will never work, the testing that we do, that'll never work. And I was like, well, it's only worked for 20 something years at that point, it's 20 something years. So without it, I can't think of very many ways that a person could actually do this work.
[00:58:19.03] Scott: So, using that tool now when it comes to microbial stress, are you finding that induction of the phages is always the best tool? Or are there some cases where herbs and homeopathy still play a role?
[00:58:34.05] Dr. Jernigan: Well, it's interesting, we're all human, myself included. So every time I actually get something, I'm just like I'm out and about, and I'm not living in balance, let's say in some way, and an infection gets in, this is what I go to. And I do that, and that would be the first line thing that I would grab with patients now, because of that speed that I can get things to go away.
But you have to be able to attest to what it is that you have, which has been interesting, with all of this research on the Induced Native Phage Therapy is to see how that, a lot of the time, you get to kind of see what you always suspected because when we're testing the patient, and their worst organism that we can test to, that shows that their body thinks is the worst one anyway, we successfully got rid of that and then suddenly the body goes oh, this other infection now pops up, and it's now the biggest one.
But I will say too when we can sequence down to the causative, the real causative infection, and yes, you may have the borrelia, but it's not necessarily always going to be the number one thing going wrong with you. And it's fascinating to see that somebody let's say, with mast cell activation syndrome or something, that when I tracked it down, it was some bizarre bacteria called Moraxella osloensis or something, I mean literally. And when I made a phage inducer specifically for that one type of infection, the person's symptoms disappeared, just disappeared.
And I'm like going, how do I publish this, even as a case study because they're going to say, well, how did you do it? How did you know? Well, I did this testing that only I know how to do, and my doctors know how to do, and you can't do it, and I can't help that. So because I know that doctors around the world cannot actually do this type of work of testing their patient, that's nothing new, that's what your medical doctor does when he just says well, your lab test is, maybe iffy indeterminate, equivocal, whatever you want to call it for Borrelia, then they're just going to grab a broad-spectrum antibiotic. Well, these inducing formulas over the years of me formulating these are now like laser-guided bombs that will go and cause the phages to kill only the types of infections that you have.
So do I still grab the herbs and the homeopathics and anything else? Yes, there are times because there is a body component, anybody that tests any kind of sensitive testing must understand there is a body component that you're dealing with, and there's the infection component you're dealing with, okay. We're not dealing, might these inducing formulas are not dealing with the body component, so any time you would test a patient for an infection, and you give them the herbal component, the signal goes away for that infection, right?
So if I test the patient as having this, and this should fix it, and then I have the patient take that remedy, at that moment, the signal for the infection goes away, right? That shows you that's a body response to the treatment. But when you take the inducing formulas, the bacterial signal doesn't go away because it's not even; the body isn't even involved; that's what that tells me. So I like some of the herbal things still, but generally, not at the same time, and generally not, I want to be accurate with this. Are there times I might would blend them? Yes. I think this is a valid point; I think you could even blend this with antibiotics, that's being done even in the back, the classic bacteriophage therapies.
You can find all kinds of references that have just been published in the last few weeks even, on combining antibiotics with bacteriophages, because the phages they think get activated more strongly when you're using external phages, external phages, right? When the bacteria are already being injured by the antibiotic, okay. That's not the same with the Induced Native Phage Therapy, I don't think, because I don't see a huge benefit, and I actually see worse Herxheimer reactions coming back because, with phage therapy, you don't have the Herxheimer reaction almost at all.
[01:03:24.25] Scott: So that's an interesting statement, and it is really kind of my next question. If we think about things like Candida that bind to metals in the body, we think about parasites that maybe bind to metals in the body; we're now using this induction process to rapidly address a population of Candida, for example. Does that potentially then release those metals back into the system, where we still need to make sure that we have adequate detoxification support on board to manage that result?
[01:03:59.02] Dr. Jernigan: Well, I'm so glad you're asking this question because it's a question I get a lot. And when we're dealing with Borrelia, let's say that people ask our help for Borrelia a lot; they have done all the research, they meaning the scientists, the bench scientists, the PhD types, the big laboratories, and there is no endotoxin in Lyme, okay.
So anything we say about there not being a Herxheimer reaction with the borrelia type infections, you couldn't just say that as a blanket statement for everything. There are such thing like Bartonella, Bartonella bacteria do produce a toxin, so when you kill them, you better be mopping up all the mess, okay, but not Borrelia. So when you have the candida, like you said, that a lot of the time they sequester, they hold on to aluminum.
So when you're killing those types of things, you have to make sure, and you're taking your binders that would actually deal with the toxins, pull them out the chelating things to try to get out the aluminum, maybe a homeopathic chord of aluminum, that would also cause the body to excrete more and more of that actual substance than would naturally come out by itself.
Absolutely, you want to make sure and understand that when you're talking about spirochetes like Leptospira and relapsing fever and syphilis and stuff, there's no toxin; that was a misunderstanding of what was going wrong.
[01:05:34.18] Scott: You recently published the paper “Induced Native Phage Therapy for the Treatment of Lyme Disease and Relapsing Fever: A Retrospective Review of First 14 Months in One Clinic”. I'm assuming that was your clinic. So can you share with us the highlights of what you learned in that 14 months in those 26 patients? What was the success rate?
[01:05:58.00] Scott: Well, the success rate, what we saw, we set up the study, number one I wanted to document how rapidly that the inducing formulas were working, okay. What was the minimum amount of time? Well, with the bio-spectral emission sequencing, it seemed like just four days was really needed, sometimes just three, maximum maybe five sometimes initially.
So it was interesting when I had this epiphany was like November, I believe 19, 2019, on my way to the ILADS conference in Boston. Just picked up a Scientific American magazine at the Nashville airport, just to read on the plane, and there's a story on bacteriophages. I tell you what, my brain was just going, was writing in the margins and underlining and highlighting and making a star and in the margins, I was writing out these initial ideas of like I think my brain pulling from all these different things that I had invented over my career, that if I'd omitted any one of them, I probably couldn't have actually done this and achieved this.
So with the Biospectral Emission Sequencing, according to my test, the infection was gone very rapidly. So when I went to that conference, it's interesting how divine synchronicity of events and things happens, but it was the first time that the RED Laboratory came out talking about as a speaker at the conference, Dr. Louis Teulières who's a medical doctor from, I believe Paris, I think he has clinics in Portugal and maybe Belgium, I'm not sure, England maybe. But anyway, he spoke, and I was like hacking away on my laptop in the conference as I said about my idea, and I looked up I'm like oh my gosh, here's this test, guess what they're using? Borrelia bacteriophages, to determine if you have the infection still.
So there's this debate in all of the Lyme world, are you still infected beyond the antibiotics? And the lab tests up to this point are very insensitive, okay. The Lyme Western blots, they were this gold standard for many years, but it's debatable. Do you have it? Do you not? I mean, there's a high false-negative rate, high false-positive rate, whatever. These are circulating antibodies that may always be in the body, to some degree all the time. So here's the borrelia; it's called a Phelix borrelia phage test.
Now, remember I said that the bacteria caused the bacteria to make up to 5,200 phages, I don't know who counted all those phages, but somebody estimated at least 5,200 phages inside of each bacteria that when they rupture, those 5200 phages go circulating all over the body, seeking out the next borrelia infection bacteria to infect and start the process over.
So what do you think is going to be easier to find? Some spirochete that's not even in the blood very often, it's always tissue bound, like literally, I saw something where it looked like I was drilling into the tissue itself, like a corkscrew. You're going to find that bacteria that are locked up in the tissue on a blood test? I don't think so, not very often, but you're going to find tons of the phages circulating all over the place, easy to find them, because there's so many of them, okay.
So remember, in one milliliter of saliva, there are a hundred billion phages. So in just one fluid ounce, there are three trillion phages, just in one fluid ounce, right? So imagine all of these phages are easy to find, way easier than the bacteria itself. So I was like going, oh my gosh, I'm going to use that test because the phages die four days after the last bacteria is gone, right? Because there's nothing left to replicate them. Like the phages can't just say, oh hey, let's go infect these Staph bacteria, so we can stay alive, or we can keep replicating, no.
Without any more Borrelia bacteria to replicate the Borrelia phages, those phages are dead themselves in four days. So that told me here's this lab test that's highly sensitive, let's take patients and run them through this, get it, the positive right up at the front is what we set up the study to do, and let's take it all the way through, just four days of treatment. Wait at least two weeks; I just gave it like this two-week window from the start to the finish when we draw the blood again, because most patients come to the clinic for two weeks, and see what the results would be.
So we had 20. I think it's 26 people; I don't have the study in front of me, 26 people roughly, that had the positive at the first, right? We had tons of people that it didn't detect it, right? They thought they may have Lyme; they weren't sure. Well, the test didn't show it, didn't mean they didn't have it. But from the infection, the positive test, to getting retested was two weeks, but the treatment was only four days. Out of that, 92% of the people tested as completely negative after just the initial treatments.
I think there was maybe another couple of people that we treated, because it didn't come back. You have this study right there, I think there were four people out of that study that the second test came back negative, and so we added more of the inducers and then retested again, and it was still gone. I mean, it was finally gone, bringing it up to 92 percent.
So that's unheard of; I mean, I had a researcher in Europe that told me, a PhD researcher, say David if all you did was achieve 40%, that would be astronomical. And to be honest, until I ran the numbers, I didn't even know it was that good. But even if I think, like even if you could let's just say okay, well somehow there was something wrong with this lab work, and well, maybe even if you did it five percent, we've opened a knowledge that was unopened prior, that other researchers I pray will be able to run with this and say hey guys, we can actually do this, we don't destroy the body, it won't destroy the friendly flora, you're not having to take these expensive pharmaceuticals, you're not putting a chemical in your body, you cannot be allergic to it, because there's nothing in it to be allergic to.
You can't stimulate a phage you don't actually have in your body. So the energy of all the phages you don't have that are in the remedy, your body just shakes it off, just like any other kind of frequency you come in contact with. You're just simply testing do you have phages or don't you have phages, and they're also parallel to that; they're always testing for the physical bacteria as well, okay. Something like they repeat the test like 12 times for the phages, and they repeat the test for the bacteria; I think four times.
So I mean, you're getting a collective of 16 different lab tests on the same sample of blood, and if it's negative, it's negative. If it's positive still, it's positive still. So there were a lot of people that we saw kind of things that where an interesting phenomenon was we cleared all of the infection that was detectable with the lab test, but then we targeted parasites, which you mentioned earlier.
When the parasites died, now all these infections spill out that were protected by that parasite, like a phage; I just can't imagine a phage is really going to be able to land on the outside of a, let's say, Ascaris lumbricoides, it's a roundworm. It's not going to land on that worm; stick its little hypodermic needle into the worm, which would make its way to the bacteria that reside inside the worm; that makes sense?
[01:15:01.11] Scott: Yes, I mean that's based on Alan MacDonald's work, and I know people Dietrich Klinghardt and you and others will talk about when parasites are present that those should be dealt with very early. So it's kind of an interesting question that I wasn't going to ask. But to maximize the potential of the inducers, might it make sense to first use the parasite inducers even if you don't know for sure the person has the parasite, to be sure that you've addressed that issue first?
[01:15:29.16] Dr. Jernigan: Well, it's so interesting you would ask me that, because it's only, you're inundated, we've been inundated with learning, constantly learning trying to figure out okay, what is doing what? And no two people are the same; no two illnesses are the same. Only recently, like literally in the last month or so, did we kind of start going; you know, maybe we should treat the parasites simultaneously to make sure.
Because it's like do you go after the parasite first? If you only had a two-week window to work with a person, it's going to take a while, maybe for the parasite situation to be done. And again, no one is, to my knowledge, has even postulated that you could target a parasite with a phage, not a bacteriophage, a phage, right? Remember there were mycophages, these are viruses that infect only molds and fungi, yeast and that kind of thing, and there are virophages, and then there, I have never seen paraphage like a parasite phage.
So I tested somebody and treated them just on the hypothetical, and I said and guess what, within five hours, they got this tapeworm to come out, and it was devastating. I mean, I think about it and just kind of a while ago, and of course, my eyes get all twinkly anyway I'm thinking about it because I'm like going I love parasites, because you can't argue, you can't debate that I did what I did with parasites, because you can see them. I mean, the clinic record right now is twelve-and-a-half-foot long tapeworm.
[01:17:14.05] Scott: But it was just spaghetti, right?
[01:17:16.08] Dr. Jernigan: Oh yes, that was just something they, hey, or maybe that was just mutants in the system or something, and oh I could go off on parasite stories up there. But you have to kind of say; it's like man, am I going to do more harm by doing this at this moment or would it be better just target the thing that's causing the problem, and then predictively say hey, when I'm ready to deal with the parasite, deal with the parasite and at that time, make sure that you're also taking something to deal with any infection that's inside of it. And it's really kind of wild with Biospectral Emission Sequencing; the realization is becoming more and more aware as we learn after every single patient, and they call it practicing.
The awareness might be that those parasites maybe even masking any kind of infection signal, which is why we couldn't detect it with our testing. I'm really getting to the point where I think that the parasites can do that. Well, let's just say as many types of bacteria there are in the body, there are tons of parasites in the body. So you might be targeting a big one, but not the worst one. So this is another thing you have to consider, is like goodness, it really becomes this conundrum of just like man, what do you start with first? When do you want to strategically do these different things?
And that's the difference between coming to our center versus maybe, what our plan is to provide these to doctors that are trained to use them correctly, they have to go through our training, and that way we can reach the world with them. We're not going to sell directly to the patient, because they're not going to understand what's going on; they need a doctor to be able to have that training that we're going to give.
[01:19:00.25] Scott: The good thing is 30 years into this, you're still loving it and still passionate about it; I can tell how excited you still get. Are there additional tests that are being developed for phages, either RED Labs or others, to be able to validate this induction of the phages for other organisms like Bartonella or Babesia or others?
[01:19:22.02] Dr. Jernigan: No. Actually, I want to clarify something, because it's a mistaken thing that I hear all the time, I don't hear it, but I see it on the internet, where people say, oh, there's no third-party validation for the RED Laboratory or something like that. There is no third-party regulating agency out there that goes around and verifies things. I mean, this test wasn't created by RED Laboratories; this was created by extremely intelligent scientists at the University of Leicester in England.
It took them, from what I understand, like five years of researching just to develop this test, this one test, and then beyond that, I think it was another three years of actual utilizing it in the test. So to answer your question, yes, there are other tests that are being developed; they're developing one at Leicester University, with Martha Clokie guidance for Bartonella, various types of Bartonella. They've already come out; that isn't out, by the way, yet, but it's predicted to be soon. But they have Rickettsia now, so your Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever-type and Rickettsias and other types of Rickettsia bacteria that's already available, and it's a phage test itself. So I did read research from a researcher in Germany, like a pretty high power researcher that actually developed another phage test and proved it on raw milk to try to find Brucellosis.
So you're going to start seeing this in industry, not just in medicine. They're already developing bacteriophages that can be used in the food industry to keep infections, to keep it under control instead of using chemicals. So I mean, it's really phenomenal; I really think that the classic bacteriophage therapy could still even be blended with my INPT therapy to help drive the bacteriophages to the specific type of bacteria that the patient needs dealing with.
[01:21:27.21] Scott: In mold illness, water damage building, sickness, there is the potential, the concept of colonization from fungal organisms like aspergillus and others. Could we use phage therapy to address fungal colonization, which is otherwise somewhat difficult to treat?
[01:21:47.07] Dr. Jernigan: We started doing that almost simultaneously with the Borrelia, and so once you understand this concept and that it is working and we were just like going oh my gosh, while our patient has mold, let's target that mold, that specific one, that Aspergillus, the Stachybotrys, you name it, the Penicillium, Fusariums, and stuff.
Symptomatically, they got dramatically better very often, very quickly. We have one elderly lady that I'm thinking about that she has COPD, and she has long asthma type symptoms, and she's constantly as a result fighting these mold infections; she'd been in a moldy house environment much of her life. As soon as we addressed these things, her breathing was so much better; the mucus was so much better. I mean, my heart goes out to so many of the people that are dying; I saw a story about a young lady who had cystic fibrosis.
I think it was and died, and I'm just like, oh my gosh. The cool thing about Induced Native Phage Therapy is that it's not classic phage therapy; it's not against the law to use it. I mean, I'm just basically, in the same way, that you're manipulating the body when you take a probiotic, everyone knows about probiotics nowadays. If you have yeast overgrowth, what do we do? We throw down some probiotics sometimes. If you have another kind of overgrowth, let's say C diff or H pylori, you can take various types of probiotics to try to counter that or get the probiotic to kill that organism. So we're not doing something from outside the body in; we're utilizing part of the natural virome.
Now, sometimes, to be honest, I don't know if we're using maybe in stimulating, part of the virome that isn't even native to that type of thing that just kind of goes okay, yes I can go do this and kill this mold for you. So it'll be interesting as the research gets better and better.
[01:23:51.18] Scott: And where it's also interesting when we talk about addressing fungal colonization even Candida, for example, if you are still getting exposed from your external environment, let's say you've induced the phages, you've significantly reduced or fully eliminated those fungal colonizations, the Candida.
We still have the very likely potential of getting re-exposed to them again, because of our external environment, if we're living in a water-damaged building. So it seems like that's a scenario where similar to your concept about getting re-infected from a new tick, if you had gotten rid of borrelia, for example, that we really have to think about our environment and the possibility of getting re-exposed, which then could lead to another colonization or overgrowth, correct?
[01:24:40.00] Dr. Jernigan: Absolutely. I mean, that's such an important message that the person and the doctor, their team, their healthcare team, whatever it is that they're using, they have to understand that it's also the terrain as they like to say in Europe more with biological medicine, they talk a lot about the terrain.
Well, all they're talking about is don't let your body be a happy home environment for that. If you're in a hot, dark or dank kind of environment, mold is going to grow. If you have the wrong pH in your body, the mold is going to grow; the yeast is going to come back. Everything you eat has just loads of microbes all over them, no matter how much you wash them.
So yes, the cool thing with the Induced Native Phage Therapy is we give your body that opportunity maybe to finally heal without that infection being there, so that when you do get reintroduced to it, you're the one that doesn't get sick. You have, like we all have strep; this is one of the things about antibiotics that I kind of wish people would understand. Is like when I was a kid, your parents would get in big trouble if they didn't let the doctor give you antibiotics for every ear infection and Strep throat. Well, now the journal of American Medical Association has said stop, please stop giving every kid antibiotic for these things, because they realized over all the years that the doctor would prescribe the antibiotic for Strep for seven to ten days.
And in that article, in the Journal Medical Association, they said guess what? Do nothing, and the patient is getting well in seven to ten days. And the thing that used to just get me is the idea that, oh, if we don't give your child this antibiotic, the Strep could go to their heart and kill them, right? Well, did that doctor ever go back and see if he got all the last of the strep? No.
As long as your symptom was better, he said okay, good, and yet we all walk around with Strep all the time, we all have e-coli, we all have a lot of these different microbes, and yet, I haven't had Strep throat in, any time that I can remember back in maybe when I was a kid or something like that, and yet I have strep. It is the integrity of the structural components of your body, and the functional components of your body that create lasting health; it's not killing all the bugs.
But when the bugs have gotten out of control, then yes, you need to get rid of those; when the tapeworm is 30 feet long, and it's gobbling up all your nutrients, yes, you need to get rid of that. If you have mold and it's just gone crazy, yes, get rid of it.
[01:27:26.15] Scott: In the mold and Lyme arena, there is a lot of discussion around eradication of MARCoNS or multiple antibiotic-resistant coagulase-negative staph; it has been difficult, many treatments have failed, it does not seem to be easy to clear.
Many practitioners have stopped focusing on it in part because eradication just doesn't seem realistic, and also, it maybe is not as much of a contributor to some people's condition as was previously thought. But I'm wondering if you've explored the induction of the phages using INPT to address the colonization of MARCoNS in the sinuses, in the dental area, is that a possibility?
[01:28:10.09] Dr. Jernigan: Yes, there is no bug you can ask us if we haven't already addressed. It's a lot of fun when you're dealing with something you can visually see. So like as an example, kind of like the MARCoNS is the MRSA type of staph infection. And I had a patient of mine actually that was bald, and for ten years, he would get almost like a flesh-eating staph infection that was no longer reacting to any kind of antibiotics or essential oils; he tried everything. Triple antibiotic ointments, I mean everything, and it would turn into like a horn he would call it, like it would just literally stick up. And when I saw him, it was just angry around the edges, I mean about the size of the silver dollar, and I was like, yes let's just target that, the types of infections then it was, and this is a cool understanding.
It's almost never ever just one type of infection; it's always mixed infections. Like so, people get all into like whatever the doctor said it was. Yes, there was MRSA there, but there was also different variations of Strep and various types of staff as well in that infection. So I targeted all of them, all at the same time swoop, and by the next day, instead of it being red and looking at the top, it was just pink, which is a wonderful sign; that's where the body is already starting to win.
And within a week or two, the scab just fell off, and it just healed. Now, the tissue had been damaged in the same spot for ten years, and about every three months when he was under stress of some sort, it would pop up again; he could feel it coming. But he wouldn't wait for it to get really bad now that he knew that there was something we could do, right? So every time he'd come in, it wasn't always the same infection it was like various other types of bacteria jumped in on that damaged spot.
I kind of make the analogy of like a tree, it's where your lawnmower damaged the bark that the virus infects the tree and creates that big knot on the side of the tree, that big bowl sometimes they create. Well, it's the same in your body, where the tissue is already damaged is where the microbes are going to go to. So we kept killing it, and now it's been, I think he came back three times total, and now it hasn't been back in like at least a year.
[01:30:40.22] Scott: So that leads me to another question that I was not planning to ask, but we know that Morgellons, for example, has a Borrelia component, a Bartonella component, and H. pylori component, many things. Have you had any clinical improvement using INPT in Morgellons to date?
[01:30:57.23] Dr. Jernigan: Well, we can do what we do and get rid of the infections, and I wish I could say that just miraculously made all the Morgellons go away, but it didn't, because I'm like oh wow, I got rid of the infections. So I have to look at that and just kind of go okay well yes, there's Borrelia that's there, there's Bartonella that's there, there are all these things that are there, but when we get rid of that, it didn't really get rid of the Morgellons, so there must be something else in there. There are other components that we haven't identified yet, that we're working on. We do have a case that we're working on.
[01:31:37.24] Scott: So one of my observations over the years has been that viruses do play a reasonably significant role in chronic illnesses. Epstein Barr Virus, Herpes Zoster, I feel like they're overlooked that usually people test for them and say oh, that's just something you had in the past, we don't need to do anything about it, that's not really my perspective, I do think that the activation of these herpetic viruses do stress the system. And so I'm wondering if you're using these viral phages to address those chronic herpetic activations?
[01:32:13.27] Dr. Jernigan: This is a question that I have not even written about, because I was so focused, I have to prove one thing first to the world, and that was that we could actually do it even for one type of bacteria, or all of the different types of Lyme and Relapsing Fever bacteria. Now that I've published that, I feel fairly confident to be able to say yes, we have been playing with that. I mean, once you understand what this will do, it doesn't take that much brainpower to realize it's like hey, let's target Herpes, let's target the Epstein Barr Virus, let's do all these different things.
So we have two or three patients that came to us already knowing they had very high Epstein Barr titers, and they had the PCR testing, and it was very high and things like that. They agreed, just as part of the research study that we were doing to say sure, let's see what we can do. Well, we treated it, and it was funny; I think it was the second gentleman misunderstood us. We said take the remedy for three days, and then you can wait a while and go get tested.
Well, he took the remedy for one day, no two days and went to the lab on the third day, and it was already gone, and we couldn't find it either, and his symptoms got better, and I was like, wow, dude, that's pretty crazy. Because in the research, I think there's only about one type of article I've ever seen that says that they found, I think it's called a sputnik, and I think they called it, it's a tiny virus that infects another virus that they found in I think algae or something like that.
So this is so new, and so, we just open up the possibility, right? So we have now two or three people that were that way where we treated, trying to cause a virus in the body to go attack the Epstein Barr Virus specifically. I think we also have a Human Herpesvirus 6 one and maybe Cytomegaly that we targeted. Follow-up testing showed it was gone.
[01:34:21.13] Scott: Might the induction of phages be a solution to the current worldwide pandemic?
[01:34:28.08] Dr. Jernigan: I think that someday, the world will allow that to happen if everything continues in the trajectory that it's going. As we've witnessed, it's been very difficult for any doctor to even suggest an alternative solution to these problems.
The scientific community is tightly controlled, and I think it's interesting because people say you're not even a doctor, and I'm like I've heard that my entire life, where it was like going to college, they said well, why don't you go be a real doctor? Not understanding that we're all trained the same as a medical doctor now, as Doctors of Chiropractic medicine, we have our own specialties and things.
But I am so blessed that I was on the outside, because I have always only dealt with the patients that no one else knew what to do with, so I couldn't continue doing the things that didn't work, nor do I want to continue doing things that aren't working in my clinic, right? So I was constantly innovating. And so I love the fact that I'm not a bench scientist, because I get to actually treat people; I'm glad that I'm not an MD.
Nothing against MDs, but I just have this whole different view of what health is and how to achieve it. I'm not a big fan of cookbook doctoring and stuff, but I would like to think at some point when bacteriophage therapy progresses beyond and becomes more and more standard, even the classic type. More and more the standard, instead of drug therapy that they'll start looking at mycophage therapy and virophage therapy, and that you could talk about it in the open.
[01:36:15.20] Scott: Many conditions that we think of as autoimmune like Rheumatoid Arthritis or MS or Ankylosing Spondylitis, are likely triggered by various microbes. So are you using phages in what are perceived to be autoimmune conditions and seeing resolution of that dysregulated immune response?
[01:36:37.12] Dr. Jernigan: Always, yes. We're always trying to get that. And the cool thing about phages is we're now even going way beyond this and saying okay, well, and I didn't create this, by the way, but once I read the research, I was like hmm, they're using E. coli bacteriophages to target beta-amyloid plaque in the brain. Now imagine with Alzheimer's in such a big thing, and that's plaquing on the brain, MS, plaquing on the brain and stuff, and it's just interesting, so I decided well, let's see if I could actually cause phages to target that. And we do have one case that got the imaging, and there was less plaquing on the brain, and it was like wow.
So imagine what's the limit of phages? Could we actually ask the phages through our testing and sequencing, to go do strategic biochemical things in the body, to help the body maybe manufacture an enzyme that it didn't normally, that it's like has some mutation on the genetics making it where your body isn't doing something. Maybe to target toxins I've already used phages for that, works pretty good. Now could you call it a virophage, most likely, but it's not really going after a virus when you're sending it to help the body destroy a toxin. It's just fascinating where is the limit with this.
[01:38:02.26] Scott: So you talked about the potential for sexual partners to pass Borrelia and other organisms. We know that often times, when treating parasites, that it's important to treat everyone in the household so that people are not getting re-infected. When we're using these phage inducers, do you recommend commonly that sexual partners or even other people living in the same household do the same thing at the same time to minimize that potential for re-infection?
[01:38:32.15] Dr. Jernigan: Well, you have to remember, to actually have this treatment, you have to enter into our program. So the spouse is usually not under the IRB research study, so we have never sold these remedies to anybody; they're actually only for people in the research study.
So we are setting up production and distribution at this time, and hopefully, within the next five or six months, we'll actually start providing this to doctors, and it would be my advice, yes, that anybody, that sexual partners should both be taking it not just the one that's sick. But yes, that would be very wise.
[01:39:16.05] Scott: So this is the new company that you mentioned earlier, PhagenCorp, lots of information there that people can look at. So the intent is that sometime in the near future, practitioners that could be trained by you would then be able to use these with their patients in their practices, to access these technologies where they can then take these inducers in an oral format is my understanding, correct?
[01:39:41.15] Dr. Jernigan: Yes.
[01:39:42.14] Scott: And is there any idea about how costly doing that type of therapy might be? Are we talking hundreds of dollars? Thousands of dollars? Where do we think that's going to fall?
[01:39:54.08] Dr. Jernigan: Well, it depends on how long the doctor keeps the patient on the formulas. But right now, the thought is it'll probably be under a hundred dollars. Now you keep this in perspective, that how many thousands and thousands maybe even hundreds of thousands of you start taking IV antibiotics with the doctor visits and everything calculated, months and months of suffering, horrible Herxheimer reactions.
I mean, the cost to humanity is just astronomical, comparatively to something that maybe wow, that's expensive I go yes. But basically, it's gone so fast that you're not having to take it over and over. We're not talking remission; remember, we're talking the complete elimination of an infection. Remission is where you didn't kill it all, and therefore it can come back, with the right or the wrong, however, you want to look at it, environment inside of your body the stressors in your body, the infection can come back from our emission, everyone's like well, I'm happy for a mission, I was like you shouldn't be.
It's just a pause, I know you want to have a pause, but at some point, we need to talk about the Herxheimer reactions, because understanding why there's no Herxheimer phage therapy, that was something that we had to learn, and that's actually in our article so if people want to go to that. Either the clinic website or the PhagenCorp website, you can read the entire article and explains in that article exactly why you don't have the horrible Herxheimer reactions.
[01:41:21.05] Scott: And so the idea is that practitioners might start being able to access these in the next several months, correct?
[01:41:27.20] Dr. Jernigan: Yes, within the next six months.
[01:41:30.15] Scott: Beautiful. Would you say that to date, that this is the most impactful technology that you have created? I know you've created a lot of cool things, so is this the one that you really feel the proudest of?
[01:41:43.01] Dr. Jernigan: Yes, absolutely. I mean, like you said, I'm proud of a lot of the cool things that I've done and created, and they stand on their own feet. But everyone, I think every man, maybe some women are into instant gratification. So as a doctor, if you know, you can win, if you know what you know that you can do, it's a whole different reality, but it's also going to be a whole different reality for doctors that they don't know anything else to do, but sit behind the desk and look at a lab test and then go out the next round of antibiotics.
They're going to have to figure out, okay, well, how do I economically survive if I get all my patients well rapidly. Well, again, it's the termites in the house; most of these patients that are finding these doctors are chronically sick, so that doctor can spend a whole lot more time instead of trying to kill the bacteria, to actually trying to heal the body itself. It would be a good move for medicine in that anyway.
[01:42:41.09] Scott: Yes. When you look at what we as humans are doing to our environment, I doubt there will be a time in the near future when there aren't enough sick people that need support.
[01:42:51.26] Dr. Jernigan: I agree. So I hope that's how they view it, and it's interesting to see the resistance that sometimes even from the natural realm is being thrown at us, because it's like how dare you say you can do what no one else has ever done, how dare you innovate almost is the attitude I feel like I'm getting sometimes. But we've also had the other side where really credible people are saying, wow, you realize you're going to win the Nobel prize in mind, that'd be kind of cool, but I highly doubt it.
[01:43:23.09] Scott: I could say I knew you when.
[01:43:24.22] Dr. Jernigan: I knew you when, yes.
[01:43:27.00] Scott: So my last question is the same for every guest, and that is what are some of the key things that you do on a daily basis in support of your own health?
[01:43:33.20] Dr. Jernigan: Well, I live a very balanced life. I make sure that my nutrition is up, that I get good grounding outside. I mean, my whole house is an exercise in creating the most healthy environment. I have zero toxins in the house, we have no fragrances in any of the products we painted all of our walls in the rooms we sleep in, and some of the rooms that we're in a lot of the time with the EMF blocking paints, we have the windows have the films.
I mean, we're just very aware of the effects of 5G is going to have, if it's going to have, it will have being emotionally stable at all times, it's kind of remaining unchanged by our circumstances, that's where your truths really get tested is when you're under-challenged. Well, it's not who you are when things are good, that shows you the most of how you're living your truths. It's who you are when you're being challenged.
And that should not have to change just because you're under a potentially stressful situation, and those stressors stress everything. It's like you can't pluck one thread of a spiderweb that it doesn't vibrate the entire web. It's the same with the human body. If you're overeating something, if you're over contemplating something, if you allow yourself to worry, doubt, fear all those different things, then you're plucking the web in a way that's going to cause illness. I've never been a doctor that was like blogging and stuff, and there's nothing wrong with it, but it's like educating patients and saying hey, go buy this.
I'm more about if you read my hundreds of blogs, it was more about how do you live that balanced life, and when you get out of balance, in my clientele, it's way beyond the point where I could say hey, just take this and you'll be well in the morning. Sometimes you just have to come to somebody like me who actually has the tools and the skills, and like in every single treatment room, there's over 4,000 different remedies, every treatment room.
So we have what is it, six treatment rooms, I think? So you imagine that's 4,000, that's 24,000 remedies always at the doctor's disposal to test your specific body adjunctively still with the bio-spectral emission sequencing, to figure out exactly what you need because I would never be able to guess. And by the way, you can't think your way to activate phages; I don't believe. Somebody may say, well, anything you can think you can do, and I'm like kind of going yes, it's so super flipping complex even to put these formulas together that it's just, I just have never seen it either. That anybody that says you're not doing what you're doing, I'm like okay, name something that could get rid of the infections in four days, and prove it what the most sensitive lab test on the planet at this point.
[01:46:37.23] Scott: I've been fortunate to have been to your prior clinic, and look forward to the day that I can come visit you at your new clinic. But I've seen your treatment rooms, and was really amazing to see all of the different things that you have accessible there when you're working with your patients.
Followed your work now for well over a decade; I just want to thank you for your contributions, for everything that you're doing to try to minimize the struggle and the suffering of others, and thank you so much for being here today to share this really exciting topic. I'm so much looking forward to watching over the next several months and few years as people start having access to these tools, how that impacts their lives in a positive way. So thank you so much, Dr. Jernigan.
[01:47:20.00] Dr. Jernigan: Well, thank you, I respect you so much. I want you to know you're the first podcaster that I've agreed to do a podcast with on this topic.
[01:47:28.08] Scott: Wow, that's awesome. Thank you.
[01:47:29.22] Dr. Jernigan: So I respect you and everything you've done to the Lyme community, so much. I just appreciate you and support you in every way I can.
[01:47:38.16] Scott: Thank you, Dr. Jernigan, again. Be well.
[01:47:40.12] To learn more about today's guest, visit BiologixCenter.com, or PhagenCorp.com.
[01:48:04.00] Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you're enjoying the show, please leave a positive rating or review, as doing so will help the show reach a broader audience. To follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or MeWe, you can find me there as Better Health Guy.
To support the show, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com/donate. To be added to my newsletter, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com/newsletters. This and other shows can be found on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Spotify.
[01:48:38.11] Thanks for listening to this BetterHealthGuy Blogcast with Scott, your better health guy. To check out additional shows and learn more about Scott's personal journey to better health, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com.
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BetterHealthGuy.com is intended to share my personal experience in recovering from my own chronic illness. Information presented is based on my journey working with my doctors and other practitioners as well as things I have learned from conferences and other helpful resources. As always, any medical decisions should be made only with the guidance of your own personal medical authority. Everyone is unique and what may be right for me may not be right for others.