fbpx
Blog - Texas Integrative Medicine
19169
page-template,page-template-blog-large-image,page-template-blog-large-image-php,page,page-id-19169,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,select-theme-ver-1.5,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.4.5,vc_responsive

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity and EMF Hypersensitivity

Hypersensitivity to Environmental Chemicals and EMF’s leads to Chronic Fatigue and Brain Fog

At Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas, we often see folks who describe hypersensitivity to multiple environmental chemicals and electromagnetic radiation or EMF’s.  Most patients describe their Multiple Chemical Sensitivity or EMF Hypersensitivity as being progressive.  Initially they only notice symptoms on exposure to especially noxious fumes or sources of irritation such as high-voltage power lines.  Gradually, the sensitivity spreads to include chemicals and EMF’s that are normally easily tolerated.  These individuals also often note the inability to tolerate many foods and vitamin supplements.  This, too, seems to start off gradually and build until many foods, medicines and vitamins are not tolerated.  Symptoms reported by folks who experience these sensitivities include pain in the muscles and joints, brain fog, headache, fatigue, insomnia, dizziness, muscle weakness, inability to focus or concentrate, hives or other skin rashes, numbness and tingling, extreme light and sound sensitivity, bloating, swelling, itching or burning of the throat or skin.

Avoidance of the sources of insult are the initial best approach, but as the situation progresses, it becomes harder and harder to avoid all the many sources that trigger symptoms.  We have developed treatment approaches that can help people with hypersensitivity to lose their various sensitivities.

Symptoms of Environmental Illness may be Triggered by Emotional Stress

In our clinical work with patients, we often hear that the symptoms associated with hypersensitivity may be rapidly and severely worsened by emotional stress.  It is not at all uncommon to have patients tell us about dramatically increased fatigue, brain fog or pain after a personal loss or life crisis.

Mast Cell Activation Plays a Key Role in Environmental Hypersensitivity

Some of the features of chemical sensitivity and EMF sensitivity and hypersensitivity are the result of activation of mast cells.  Mast cells are immune cells that are filled with granules containing toxic substances known as inflammatory mediators like histamine and leukotrienes.  When the mast cells become perturbed or “activated”, they release the toxins contained in their granules into the tissues and circulation.  This is called mast cell activation.  We are seeing more and more cases of Mast Cell Activation Disorder also call Mast Cell Activation Syndrome that occurs often on exposure to many environmental irritants like chemicals and EMF’s.

Your brain’s limbic system, which is the part of the brain that assesses “threat” or “stress”, can send signals to the immune system and the mast cells signaling them to become activated and to release their toxic granules such as histamine.  Have you ever noticed when you become agitated that your neck and upper chest become flushed or have a hive-like eruption or that you get “butterflies” in your stomach?  These are examples of the limbic system’s fight or flight sympathetic nervous system response.  Over time, the limbic system can begin to react with this fight or flight response from many environmental stimuli like chemicals and EMF’s.  In fact, your limbic system can become stuck in fight of flight causing the response to last indefinitely.

Mitochondrial Cell Danger Response Explains many of the Features of Environmental Illness

A new theory of pathogenesis has emerged called the Mitochondrial Cell Danger Response which unifies the diverse clinical features of Autism.  A recent drug trial demonstrated statistically significant benefits from a drug, Suramin, that acts to diminish this mitochondrial response.  The cell danger hypothesis states that the root cause of autism is a universal cellular response to stress that shifts normal cell function to a new state.  This universal response to stress traces to mitochondria.  The hopeful message behind the Cell Danger Response hypothesis is that the root cause of the communication difficulties, social anxiety, sensory abnormalities, GI problems, seizures, allergies, and many other comorbidities in autism, is a treatable metabolic syndrome.

Journal Elsevier Mitochondrion-Review- Antipurinergic therapy for autism—An in-depth review; Robert K. Naviaux; University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, 214 Dickinson St., Bldg CTF, Rm C102, MC #8467, San Diego, CA 92103, United States.

The herbs Quercitin and Lutein are known to calm or stabilize mast cells.  Drugs like antihistamines and leukotriene inhibitors can block some of the toxic substances released from the mast cells, lessening the symptoms.  Cromolyn is a medicine that can coat and stabilize the mast cells limiting their activation and release of toxins.

Multiple chemical sensitivity and EMF hypersensitivity may be increasing in the population along with other disease states associated with chronic inflammation.  Inflammation is a byproduct of the immune system.

What is causing this increase in the number of inflammation-associated diseases like autism, asthma, autoimmunity, type 2 diabetes, degenerative brain diseases and allergy?  Is it related to the progressive degradation of the environment?  It is interesting to consider that as these diseases have proliferated, the amounts of toxic manmade chemicals, toxic heavy metals and potentially harmful EMF’s have been rising at an alarming rate in the environment.  Environmental toxins are being measured in ever higher amounts in the air, food and water.

Avoidance of Environmental Toxin Pollution and Detoxification lessen the Symptoms of Environmental Illness and Hypersensitivity

In our experience, patients afflicted with multiple chemical sensitivity or MCS and EMF hypersensitivity along with other inflammation-associated chronic illnesses such as autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue, chronic pain syndromes of various types, chronic brain fog, chronic mood disorder and chronic insomnia respond to avoidance of the various triggers of inflammation in the environment.  The activity of these diseases appears to be directly associated with the degree of immune system activation caused by the various environmental irritants to the immune system such as toxic chemicals, toxic metals, pathogenic viruses, bacteria and parasites, and toxic EMF’s.  As we treat these folks, we always stress elimination of further exposure to environmental toxins to the greatest extent possible.  Helping folks maximize their own systems of toxin elimination, detoxification (detox) helps them recover from these chronic conditions.  In today’s world it is impossible to completely avoid these many exposures, but it is important to try.  It is our belief that less contamination of the air, food and water would result in prevention of these inflammation-caused environmental illnesses.

 

Acupuncture and Pain Relief

There is some ridiculous old adage that says “Suffering is a fact of life”.

Bull puckey.

Yes, discomfort happens, pain happens, injuries happen.  Stubbed toes, menstrual cramps, strained backs, stress, sadness, it all happens. Yep, it is good to accept that these things can and will happen and are part of life.  However, prolonged suffering does not need to be accepted, and in fact tolerating pain and allowing it to persist adds to biological stress, and slows healing from other conditions.
Pain from injuries (accidents, sports, even sleeping funny and waking up with that good ‘ol crick in your neck) can often be rapidly resolved by the ancient art of Acupuncture.  If the injury is new, pain can often be decreased or resolved within a matter of minutes.  Acupuncture is amazing at helping with headaches, menstrual pain, digestive pain, reflux, IBS, low back pain, TMJ, sore knees, sprained ankles, arthritis, carpal tunnel, rotator cuff injuries, whiplash and just about any body pain you can think of.
Acupuncture can also help with anxiety, depression, addictions, stopping smoking, and all those more metaphysical kinds of suffering.
Seriously… why suffer when a few minutes on the table can help so much?  At its best, acupuncture can turn off pain like turning off a faucet.  At minimum it can slowly and gently facilitate the healing process using a painless, non-invasive technique. Complete resolution often takes several treatments, but acupuncture almost always dramatically accelerates the healing process from any injury or source of inflammation.
And guess what else?  Acupuncture plus bodywork (chiropractic and massage techniques) is an even more potent combination.  Add laser therapy, pulsed electro magnetic therapy, prolozone injections, trigger point injections, and EWOT, and you have a veritable cocktail of healing and pain relief options, all under one roof.
Addressing pain complaints is my favorite part of health care.  It is so deeply satisfying to have patients that come into my office in pain, and leave 45 min later in no pain.  Talk about job satisfaction.

Is Stress Making You Sick?

Tina’s Story

Tina recently came to see me as a new patient in my clinic.  Tina had always been a worrier and she had battled feeling anxious and having trouble sleeping through the night for years.  These had been manageable problems for her.  Then something happened that changed things for Tina in a big way.  Tina’s young adult son was convicted of a serious crime and he was facing imprisonment at exactly the same time that her husband was laid off from his job of twenty five years.

Almost overnight, Tina began to experience a dramatic increase in anxiety, a sense of hopelessness and marked increase in her insomnia.  She suddenly would experience a sense of panic.  She began to notice a host of new gastrointestinal complaints including diarrhea, heartburn, loss of appetite and bloating after eating certain foods.  She started noticing trouble remembering names and finding words.  She could not stay focused and was always forgetting why she had come in to a room looking for something.  She noticed that her muscles and joints ached almost all the time and she began to experience frequent headaches.  She had an overwhelming sense of fatigue and felt like she could not get out of bed on some days.  It seemed like she would cry over anything.  Tina told me that she wanted her life back.

Prescription medicines are often not the answer to chronic, complex illness

I see folks like Tina in my practice of chronic, complex illness due to environmental toxins almost every day.  Often patients like Tina are told that there is nothing wrong with them other than they are under too much stress.  This is not the case.  Usually the basic blood tests and xrays don’t show much, if any, abnormality.  Indeed life stress is often the straw that breaks the camel’s back when a person, like Tina, is struggling with disease due to progressive, on-going exposure to environmental toxins such as viruses, germs, molds, toxic chemicals like pesticides, toxic metals like mercury, and toxic electromagnetic energy from wifi’s and other electronic devices.

Reversing Chronic Fatigue Requires Addressing Three Areas

I have learned that to help someone like Tina return to her former state of wellness, I must help her address three things.  First, we must try to identify ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS that she is suffering from in order to stop exposure and eliminate them from her body.  Second, we must identify why she manifests an increased sensitivity to the toxins.  This is called her BIOTERRAIN.  An individual’s bioterrain is what makes that individual act like a canary in the coal mine. The third thing that has to happen to return an individual like Tina to a state of wellness involves correcting an impairment of the body’s stress center known as the LIMBIC SYSTEM.

Correcting the limbic system is the subject of this blog post.

The Limbic System is the Motherboard of Our Brain’s Computer

The limbic system is that part of the brain that controls our sympathetic nervous system (FIGHT, FLIGHT, FEAR, FREEZE) and our parasympathetic nervous system (REST, DIGEST, REGENERATE, REPAIR).  It is made up in part by the hippocampus, hypothalamus and the paired amygdalas.  The limbic system is interconnected with the smell brain or rhinencephalon and is wired to almost all of the other systems of the body including the immune system, endocrine/hormone system/digestive system, energy system and higher brain systems emotions and problem solving.  It is like the motherboard of our brain’s computer.  The limbic system is especially susceptible to injury or impairment by environmental toxins and infections.  In Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or CIRS as described by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, injury to the limbic system accounts for much of the pathology that he describes in his protocol.  Limbic system injury also explains much of the pathology described by Dr. Richard Horowitz in Multiple Systemic Infectious Disease Syndrome or MSIDS.

In centuries past when the world was not a toxic place as it is today, the limbic system would respond to THREAT with fight, flight, fear and freeze such as a fire, an attack by a wild animal-something obvious.  The sense of panic caused a response that helped the individual survive that threat.  The limbic system would then return fairly quickly to a state of rest, digest, repair, regenerate.  Unfortunately, the situation today is that the limbic system gets stuck in a setting of perpetual threat (fight, flight, fear, freeze).  This is also called SYMPATHETIC OVERDRIVE.  When this happens the limbic system generates false signals that cause real and measurable changes of the various systems under its control.  The immune system is off, the hormones are off, digestion is off, mitochondrial energy production is off, and your higher brain functions are off.  In short the whole body is in a state of disease.

Although I have known for years that stressful life events would trigger real disease, I used to think, naively, that elimination of the stress would allow the limbic system to return to a state of normalcy.  I now understand that except in rare circumstances, this is not the case.  I now understand that although it is important to 1. identify and remove the environmental toxins and 2. reverse the person’s increased sensitivity to toxins, it usually requires resetting or reprogramming the limbic system to completely clear the symptoms.  This process is fairly easy to learn but requires much repitition to accomplish.

Limbic System Retraining is not Difficult but Requires Repitition

There are a number of ways to accomplish this.  Some call it STRESS MANAGEMENT.   The term I like to use is LIMBIC SYSTEM RETRAINING.

Some of the most successful programs that I have found to accomplish limbic system retraining are Lindsay Mitchell’s Vital-Side program ( https://vital-side.com ),  Annie Hopper’s Dynamic Neural Retraining ( https://retrainingthebrain.com ) and Ashtok Gupta’s Amygdala Retraining ( https://www.guptaprogramme.com ).  These are not the only systems or ways to reset an impaired limbic system but simply methods that have worked for my patients frequently in the past.  Other systems that may be beneficial are HeartMath, Emotional Freedom Technique/tapping, NeuroBio Feedback and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing/ EMDR.  There are a number of other techniques that may also help.

To learn more about how you can recover from chronic, complex illness, I welcome the opportunity to work with you and my team of healers at Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas.

Aboutdr_tyler Wally Taylor MD

Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas.  After obtaining a degree in Zoology from the University of Texas in Austin and obtaining a general medical doctorate degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas he completed a general medical internship and residency training in head and neck surgery ENT and allergy.  After 20 years service in the US Army Medical Corps and practice in Colorado and Texas he founded Texas Integrative where he now offers a functional/holistic approach to disease which treats the entire individual instead of each separate symptom.  He has taken this integrative approach to chronic illness for the past 25 years.  His special interests are chronic, complex illness due to environmental toxin exposures such as mold, germs and chemicals.  He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach.  He is board certified by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.  His motto is Health and Wellness from Head to Toe”.   www.texasintegrative.com     office phone-512-800-5309.  

 

Exploring the Pain-Inflammation Connection

I sat down with Becky Andrews recently to discuss the approach that we take with our guests experiencing pain at Texas Integrative Medicine.

Dr. Taylor:

“Pain.  It’s just part of life, but It is definitely a two-edged sword.  On the positive side, pain signals danger to your body.   In fact without the ability to sense pain, you are at a big disadvantage.  The genetic inability to perceive pain sets you up for serious injury-say for example the inability to sense a hot stove leading to a serious burn.  Without pain limiting motion of a sprained joint, additional injury would likely occur.

Even though pain is a necessary part of life, pain that persists beyond the state of providing a protective warning signal, can lead to misery and disability.

When pain persists beyond the protective stage, misery and disability often result.

What is the root cause of pain?  Signals for pain come to the brain from nociceptors which are receivers in our skin, muscles, joints and other tissues that can convert pain-causing triggers like toxins, chemicals, acids,  heat, cold, pressure when they are strong enough to carry a pain message to the brain.   This is where the connection to inflammation comes in.  Inflammation is directly generated by actions of the immune system.  No immune system response equals no inflammation.  This would seem to imply that the answer to inflammation-caused pain is to “turn off” the immune system.  In fact some protocols to control inflammation-caused pain do exactly that.  Examples of this would be high dose synthetic steroids, methotrexate, adalimumab and etanercept.  The obvious down side is the fact that turning the immune system off or way down can leave your body unprotected.  After all, the role of the immune system response is to eliminate and contain the foreign infection threat.”

Becky Andrews:

“As a naturopathic doctor, bodyworker and acupuncturist, when considering a patient with pain, my first question is “what is the cause?”  I look at the pattern, history, location and quality of the pain.  If the pain is in a specific, fixed location,  I first look for structural issues.  Starting with skeletal alignment – checking to make sure joints are properly aligned and tracking correctly.  Then looking for muscular  / connective tissue injury or imbalance.  Improperly aligned joints can both cause and be caused by muscle spasm.  Muscle spasm and misaligned joints can cause pinched nerves.  Soft tissue pain from structural issues is localized and fixed (stays in one spot) and is often burning, gnawing, tingling, or sharp.  Joint pain that is due to injury to a specific joint is also localized and fixed with a similar pain pattern.  Acupuncture and bodywork are an amazing combination for correcting structurally based pain.  In Chinese medicine pain is considered a “stagnation” of either Qi (energy) or blood.  Acupuncture is able to correct the blocked flow of energy and restore function to injured or restricted tissues.  Pain relief can be immediate in some cases, especially for acute injuries.  My background in body work and physical medicine gives me a more complex and precise understanding of anatomy and structure, allowing my treatments to be more focused.  Combining the power of acupuncture to restore and correct the flow of energy with soft tissue release techniques facilitates a more rapid and thorough return to function and comfort.”

Dr. Taylor:

As an Environmental Medicine specialist my first considerations when considering patients complaining of persistent pain that is not readily explained by an injury or structural abnormality is to consider what root cause triggers may be inducing inflammation leading to the pain.  Infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria, molds, yeast and parasites, toxic chemicals like pesticides and toxic metals like lead and mercury, and physical toxins like emfs and dirty electricity are usually the most likely culprits.

I find that these environmental toxic triggers may be well tolerated by some folks while other individuals develop massive inflammation with only minimal exposure.  These sensitive folks act like canaries in the coalmine.

My job is to identify the toxins, eliminate on-going exposures, maximize the body’s ability to clear the toxins in a process I call detox and take steps to reverse my patient’s excessive sensitivity to the toxins using diet, nutrients, stress management, and lifestyle changes.

I have found this approach to be quite successful in clearing inflammation and the pain it causes.”

Becky Andrews:

“When pain is “everywhere” or is wandering around, then I consider systemic causes of inflammation.  Acupuncture can still be helpful in systemic inflammation by helping release “heat”  or “damp”and even signaling the body to improve its defenses, balance hormones, etc.  With systemic issues, however, I find that acupuncture is more of a “guide to the body” than the primary tool.  I rely on herbs, diet and nutritional supplements to help restore balance to the immune, inflammatory, hormone and nervous systems.  In some cases there is a pathogen (stealth infections) that needs to be addressed.  In some cases global pain is caused by consuming inflammatory foods (gluten, dairy and sometimes nightshades being the most frequent culprits).  In some cases exposure to mold causes systemic inflammation and body pain (often the fascia and joints of hands, feet and hips are first).  Having a body burden of heavy metals (lead, mercury, aluminum, etc) can also cause chronically tight, rigid muscles because the heavy metals get in the way of not only mitochondrial function, but they prevent calcium and magnesium from working correctly to contract and relax our muscles.”

Dr. Taylor:

Combining these techniques with other inflammation-reducing tools available at Texas Integrative Medicine like infrared sauna, photobiomoduation or “cold laser” treatments, ozone, and IV nutrients add  powerful approaches to reduce the pain associated with inflammation and structural abnormalities.”

In summary, when addressing pain, figuring out the cause of the pain is pivotal in selecting the correct tools to resolve the pain.  Pain resolution is not a “one pill fits all” situation.  It requires some good medical detective work, good physical assessment skills, and a wide pallet of treatment options.  On a more personal note, helping reduce pain is something we are both passionate about.

BECKY ANDREWS ND, LAC, MSA

Dr. Becky Andrews

Dr. Becky Andrews is a naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist, herbalist, body worker and is certified in permaculture design. On her meandering journey through life, she has been a ballet dancer, musician, amateur theologian, master gardener, mountaineer, cyclist, and a circus artist. Her passion is the fusion of paradigms and disciplines.  As a naturopathic physician, acupuncturist and student of permaculture she focuses on a “whole systems” approach to health challenges of the individual and the human condition as a whole.

Dr. Andrews  received her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine and Masters of Acupuncture at Bastyr University in 2003.  She is a graduate of the Boulder College of Massage therapy (1995) and also holds a BA in psychology from the University of Kentucky (1992).  Prior to practicing in Austin, she was medical director of Mosaic Natural Health Clinic in Seattle, WA and served as faculty at Bastyr University.  She has advanced training in environmental medicine, IV therapy, chelation, injection therapies, massage therapy and permaculture design. She has apprenticed with master herbalists, and native healers around the globe, and led a medical volunteer team in Kenya.  She has served on the board of directors for both the Washington and Texas Associations of Naturopathic Doctors and was the education coordinator for the American Botanical Council. She currently offers naturopathic consultations at Peoples Rx in Austin and serves as faculty at AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine.

In addition to faculty appointments, she offers lectures & seminars for public, government, corporate, student and professional health education. Her practice specializes in complex, chronic and “difficult” cases, especially relating to digestive health, fatigue, hormone balancing, mood and detoxification. She works extensively with MTHFr and related genetic challenges as well as environmental illnesses from mold, heavy metal, and chemical exposures. Her combined training in massage therapy, acupuncture and naturopathic medicine give her a unique and multi faced approach to  treating chronic pain and injuries. Her decade of primary care experience in Seattle gives her special insight into combining naturopathic, traditional western and eastern paradigms with conventional medical approaches.  In addition to seeing patients and teaching at AOMA, she has a “secret” life as a trapeze artist.              Dr. Becky is accepting new patient consultations.  You can schedule an appointment by calling 512-800-5309.

dr_tyler Wally Taylor MD

Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Texas Integrative Medicine in Austin, Texas.  After obtaining a general medical doctorate degree from University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas he completed a general medical internship and residency training in head and neck surgery ENT and allergy.  After 20 years service in the US Army Medical Corps and practice in Colorado and Texas he founded Texas Integrative where he now offers a functional holistic approach to disease which treats the entire individual instead of each separate symptom.  He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach.  His motto is Health and Wellness from Head to Toe”.   www.texasintegrative.com     office phone-512-800-5309