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SHINING SOME LIGHT ON LYME DISEASE

Do rays of light offer hope to individuals suffering from conditions like Lyme disease?

Thor phototherapy device being used to treat lower back inflammation and pain.

Thor phototherapy device being used to treat lower back inflammation and pain.

As a doctor who sees patients with chronic, complex disease on a daily basis, I see regularly patients who have been told that they have Lyme disease.  I must start by saying that I believe the term Lyme disease is a poor term.  First of all as I am sure most of the citizens of the quaint Connecticut town of Lyme would agree, Lyme is merely the name of the town where in the early 1970’s an epidemic of arthritis, body aches, fever and skin rash was determined to be due to infection with a strain of spirochete later named Borrelia burgdorferi.  Today we know that chronic disease symptoms caused by many different strains of spirochetes (screw-shaped bacteria) and other germs occur all over the world and have for decades if not centuries.  I prefer to use the term stealth infection to describe generally the condition whereby a difficult to diagnose (and eradicate) persistent microbe is contributing to the existence of chronic symptoms of disease in the patients that I treat.

New tests are identifying the unique DNA and RNA of infection-causing microbes that were difficult to diagnose in the past.

Thanks to the development of new microbiology diagnostic tests (such as PCR testing), we are now better able to demonstrate the presence of DNA or RNA strands that are unique to specific strains of harmful microbes also known as pathogens.  These tests are only now just beginning to make their way in to clinical practice in order to make the diagnosis of stealth infection.  Stealth pathogens may include bacteria, viruses, yeasts, molds, and even parasites.  Many stealth infection pathogens are very difficult, if not impossible to culture in a lab and have therefore been able to elude diagnosis.  Up until now these infections have sometime been identified by using various immune system tests also referred to as serologic tests.  There are problems with serologic tests when the infection is not caused by the exact strain of pathogen as the test is made for (serologic type) or if the patient’s immune system is incapable of reacting normally to the pathogen.  This may occur more often than widely believed.  This can result in false negative results.

So what does this all have to do with the title of my post?  It actually has a double meaning.  Clearly I want to “shine light on Lyme disease” to make the general condition of stealth infection better understood by my readers, but the main reason for the article is to introduce the concept of using light as a therapy to treat stealth infection.  Light, as from the sun, actually has an extremely important role to play in the beneficial treatment of many different stealth infections.  Light is made up of light waves containing photons.  Different light waves have different frequencies of vibration which we know as color.  Sunlight contains all the wavelengths of light including both those visible and invisible to our eyes.

Man-made antibiotics have their limitations.

Man-made antibiotics have a number of drawbacks when used to treat stealth infections.  Light therapy has several advantages over the use of antibiotics in a number of circumstances.  There appears to be much less damage to our normal intestinal bacteria known as the microbiome.  Light does not put foreign chemicals into the body which must be eliminated by our body’s mechanisms of detoxification.  Light is generally less expensive to produce than antibiotics.  Light seems to have a much less likely tendency to cause allergic or toxic effects when used in appropriate dosage.  Stealth pathogens do not develop resistance to light in the same way that they develop resistance to antibiotics.  Antibiotic resistance is a big problem nowadays leading to the development of “superbugs” such as MRSA.

Light therapy also known as PhotoBioModulation therapy or PBMT has been extensively researched and used for decades to treat a wide range of disease.

Various wavelengths of light have been studied in the treatment of various medical conditions since the 1800’s if not before.  In fact the beneficial effects of the sun on health has been known since ancient times.  One of the early pioneers of light treatment, Niels Ryberg Finsen, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1903 for his work “in recognition of his contribution to the treatment of diseases, especially lupus vulgaris, with concentrated light radiation, whereby he has opened a new avenue for medical science”.  (Quote from the Nobel Foundation)   Lupus vulgaris has been shown to be caused by a persistent infection by the tuberculosis pathogen.

Various light devices have been used especially in the 1930’s, 40’s, and 50’s to treat a number of conditions including a number of cancers and infections even in the United States.  With the advent of antibiotics and vaccines in the 1940’s and 50’s in the United States and Canada, light therapy quickly fell out of favor although it continued to be actively used in Eastern Europe and Russia.  Today light therapy also known as PhotoBioModulation therapy is making a comeback.

Several colors of light have demonstrated beneficial effects in the treatment of injury and disease.

Ultraviolet light (UVL) is capable of damaging the DNA of stealth pathogens like viruses and bacteria.  In fact UVL is used to sterilize or sanitize operating rooms and hot tubs.  Although UVL can also result in damage to the cells of the human body, our cells are much more capable of repairing damage caused by UVL than the pathogens are which is the reason that it can be effective as a form of treatment.  This is similar to the ability of cancer chemotherapy to kill cancer cells more readily than the body’s normal cells.

Other wavelengths/colors of light interact with receptors in our cells to induce beneficial changes much in the way that light is absorbed by plant leaves to produce sugars in a process known as photosynthesis.  The mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cells, have proteins known as cytochromes that absorb photons of red or near infrared light causing activation.  This process leads to a number of direct and indirect effects that result in production of mitochondrial energy (ATP), cellular recovery and repair, increase in the number of circulating stem cells, reduction of harmful free radicals, reduction of harmful inflammation, and beneficial modulation of the immune system.  The role of red and near infrared light in the treatment of sports injuries and other forms of tissue injury has been extensively studied.  New evidence is emerging that is showing that these same wavelengths of light can assist in the recovery of inflammation and tissue injury caused by stealth infection.

Other wavelengths of light have other beneficial effects on our cells and tissues.  Green light has been shown to have an anti-oxidant effect and a beneficial effect on red blood cell flow in our microcirculation.

At Texas Integrative Medicine I have recently introduced treatments with the Thor Low Level Laser device (www.thorlaser.com).  This device which is FDA approved for use in humans was developed in the United Kingdom and has been studied for use in multiple conditions in humans and animals.  It is used often in veterinary medicine as well as orthopedic and sports medicine.  A number of studies have been performed by researchers at Harvard.  In my clinic we are using it for its known beneficial effects to restore cellular energy, modulate inflammation, reduce pain, and to speed up tissue repair and regeneration from a wide assortment of injuries including those caused by stealth pathogens.  If you would like to learn more about the Thor LLLT treatments, please call and speak to one of our phototherapists at 512-803-6790 or make an appointment to be evaluated at our clinic by calling 512-420-9300.

The FDA has not approved light therapy including the Thor device for the treatment of any infectious disease including Lyme.

Aboutdr_tyler Wally Taylor MD

Dr. Taylor practices integrative medicine at Texas Integrative ENT and Allergy 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-512-420-9300  

MOLD ILLNESS IN CENTRAL TEXAS

by Wally Taylor MD

In my integrative, functional and holistic practice of medicine in Austin, Texas, where I see people suffering from chronic complex illness that has not responded completely to prescription medicine, I frequently encounter folks who have a variety of symptoms from the exposure to mold toxins also known as mycotoxins.  This has been more common lately as the result of the extensive rains and flooding that have occurred in our area recently.  Mold illness is most often associated with indoor toxic mold exposure that results from water damage to a building (WDB Illness).

The telltale appearance of toxic mold growth following water damage. The presence of mold is often much less obvious.

The telltale appearance of toxic mold growth following water damage. The presence of mold is often much less obvious.

Symptoms of mold illness often overlap those from the ill effects of other toxins in our bodies both man-made and those from persistent germs and viruses that may be persisting inside us.

Mold illness symptoms often overlap other illnesses including Lyme Disease

Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker has written extensively about mold illness and is arguably the nation’s authority on this disorder.  He has coined the name Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome also known as CIRS to describe the group of symptoms and signs related to the toxic effects of mold.  His website- www.survivingmold.com contains a wealth of information relating to mycotoxin illness.

Mold Illness and Vector-Borne Illness such as Lyme Disease are more common than widely believed

The symptoms of CIRS are much the same as the symptoms that many people experience when they have a persistent infection due to certain germs that may be transmitted by the bite of a tick, flea, mosquito or spider.  These germs include the names Borrelia, Bartonella, Babesia, Ehrlichia, Anaplasma and have been described to cause diseases including Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Borreliosis, Babesiosis, Cat Scratch Fever, Anaplasmosis, Tularemia, Brucellosis, and Relapsing Fever (together this group is referred to as tick-borne or vector-borne zoonotic illness).  I often see folks that suffer from the combination of Mold Illness and Vector-borne Illness at the same time since both illnesses are unfortunately more common than is widely believed.  The list of diseases that may in fact be misdiagnosed that are actually due to the systemic effects of mycotoxins includes: (Reference-http://www.survivingmold.com/diagnosis/common-misdiagnosis)

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Allergy
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Somatization
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Attention Deficit Disorder

In any individual the best way to understand the nature of their symptoms is to take a very thorough history relating to the onset of the symptoms and the environmental exposures of that person.  Lab tests can then be used to further define the nature and degree of disease.   I always tell my patients that in the case of illness due to toxins in the body, the first order of business is to assure that there is not a continuing exposure to more toxins.  This is especially true of Mold Illness.  As long as a person continues to be exposed to mycotoxins in their indoor environment, it is unlikely that any form of treatment is going to be completely successful in eliminating symptoms!

As long as mycotoxin exposure continues in the indoor environment, it is unlikely that treatment in any form will be completely successful in eliminating symptoms

If mold illness is suspected or when there has been water damage or when mold growth is noted (by smell or observation), it may be essential to seek out the services of a certified mold inspector.

If there is a potential mold issue in a house and there is a moisture source, the mold will continue to grow until it becomes a much larger problem

I asked Dan Yates of Texas Mold Consultants to comment about the frequent concern I hear from my patients that they are afraid to have their home mold inspected because they believe it could jeopardize later sale of the home.  Here is Dan’s response:

“Upon the sale of their home, there will be an inspection done that includes the “water damage” area that typically is referred to a mold inspector-so that many times the mold issue will be discovered anyway upon the sale of the house.  If they have it mold inspected now, then they have the benefit of a healthier house to live in until they sell it and the extent of mold growth is stopped now.  If they ignore the potential mold issue and there is a moisture source, the mold will continue to grow in magnitude until it becomes a much larger problem.  When I do a mold assessment/testing, I am not required to report anything to the State or anyone else.”

“The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) “Certificate of Mold Damage Remediation” that is issued by a licensed Mold Assessment Consultant (MAC) and licensed Mold Remediation Contractor (MRC) is intended to prevent insurors and mortgage companies from being biased against a house that has had mold taken care of by licensed individuals.”

“Virtually all houses have water issues of some magnitude over the years.  It is ignoring the water issue that often leads to much larger mold problems that cost much more.  If the house is on the market and mold is discovered then, it appears to have a much more negative impact upon the sale compared to having an issue fixed in prior years with a Mold Certificate issued.  Legal issues can arise for the homeowner if they “had knowledge” of a water leak and did nothing-the purchaser may sue claiming the seller “had knowledge” and hid the damage.”

Dan has twenty five years of experience as a licensed mold inspector and frequently provides testimony as an expert witness in legal cases involving indoor mold.  Dan can be contacted at 512-563-2253 or by email at

Danyates76@gmail.com        www.TexasMoldConsultants.com

At Texas Integrative Medicine I am highly motivated to identify the root causes of my patients’ chronic complex illness symptoms.  I get a tremendous amount of gratification from helping people reduce or eliminate their symptoms by assisting them in removing toxins from their bodies (including mycotoxins).  In my experience assisting the body in taking advantage of its own systems of toxin elimination is usually the best way to get well and stay well!

About 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 a special interest in precision genome-based healing of chronic inflammation-caused illness and anti-aging.  He has found more satisfying results using this Systems BioIndividualized approach.  Dr. Taylor recently published GOT TO SHINE-A Guidebood for True Health and Sustained Wellness in the 21st Century available in the Amazon bookstore. 

For an appointment to see Dr. Taylor in his Austin, Texas office call 512-420-9300. Website-www.texasintegrative.com

 

THOSE PESKY OUTDOOR BUGS

Which Non-Toxic Insect Repellent is Best for Your Family?

How to make a Natural Mosquito or Tick Repellent with Essential Oils

Mosquito BitingNow that school’s out, it’s time to play outside.  Unfortunately the out-of-doors also means exposure to bugs like mosquitos, chiggers, and ticks.  The reality is that dangerous and often persistent diseases carried by these bugs are being encountered with greater frequency.  These diseases include Lyme disease, West Nile Virus, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and Babesiosis.  The need to come up with strategies to protect our children and ourselves from bug bites and potential pathogen exposure is more important than ever.  Increasing concern over the arrival of the Zika virus to the lower continental U.S. is adding increased concern as well.

Also of concern are the potential harmful effects of some of the ingredients of some available insect repellents such as D.E.E.T. and other potentially toxic petrochemical ingredients.  D.E.E.T. also known as N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide is the most common petrochemical used in many commercial repellents.  It is approved by the EPA.  In a recent publication, Dr. Abou Donia, a Duke University pharmacologist, found that an average human dose (40mg/kg body weight) applied to rats caused them to perform far worse than control rats when challenged with physical tasks requiring muscle control, strength and coordination.  He also found that D.E.E.T. caused neurons to die in regions of the the brain that control muscle movement, learning, memory and concentration in lab animals. Reference: DukeToday- Duke Pharmacologist Says Animal Studies on DEET’s Brain Effects Warrant Further Testing; May 1, 2002

Coverage of the skin with clothing is always helpful.  Wearing socks, long sleeves and long pants affords relatively good protection.  In the case of ticks it is important to examine skin for attached ticks frequently when out-of-doors paying special attention to hair and skin crevices.  Exposed skin is the  concern, of course.

Is there an option that is effective to prevent bugs biting that is not excessively toxic and will not contribute excessively to our already substantial load of environmental toxic chemicals?

I believe that there is.  There are a number of natural essential oils that are quite effective at preventing bugs from lighting and biting.  Safe and effective products can be purchased or homemade sprays can be mixed up as well.

To make your own natural essential oil repellent spray you need to choose between water-based or oil-based.  Water-based repellents tend to need to be reapplied more frequently.  To mix water-based repellent you can also use witch hazel or apple cider vinegar which tend to dissolve the essential oils easier and then can be diluted with distilled water.

To make oil-based repellents you should use a carrier oil such as jojoba, sesame, or sweet almond to dissolve the essential oils in.  The typical recipe is about 20 drops of 100% pure essential oil (you can blend your favorites) in 2 tablespoons/one ounce of carrier oil.

So which essential oils work best?  Geranium oil/geraniol is used in many formulas.  Other oils known to be effective at repelling insects include cedar oil, clove oil, eucalyptus oil, lemon eucalyptus oil,  lemongrass oil, rosemary oil, citronella oil and neem oil.  Either water or oil based mixtures should be stored in a cool, dark location and will keep for approximately 2 months.  They can be either stored in a small spray bottle and sprayed directly on the exposed skin (caution with young skin less than age two), or they can be poured on to the palm of the hand and rubbed in (best for facial application).  With oil-based repellents it might be best to use an oil mister as standard spray bottles tend to clog.  Natural mosquito repellent should be reapplied every one to two hours or even more often if needed.

Makers of essential oils include Wyndmere Essential Oils, Aura Cacia Essential Oils, Now Essential Oils, and Plant Therapy Essential Oils.  It is best to buy 100% pure essential oils to use in your preparations.

Some available brands of prepared natural essential oil sprays include Skeeter Screen, Jason Quit Bugging Me, Buzz Away Extreme from Quantum Health, and BugOut.

Another clever option is a device called the Buglet– an essential oil diffusing bug repellent bracelet.  The bracelets with colorful designs contain a pumice stone that allows for reapplication of appropriate essential oils when needed in order to allow a consistent release of scent.  The Buglet comes with a mixture of essential oils containing citronella, lemongrass, rosemary, peppermint and geranium.  It is reusable (refills of the oils are available or you can use your own).  It is especially good for sensitive skin or for skin affected by sores (previous mosquito bites-ouch!!)

Here are some helpful hints from the CDC for use of any insect repellent:

  • Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing (as directed on the product label). Do not apply repellents under your clothing.
  • Never use repellents over cuts, wounds or irritated skin.
  • Do not apply to eyes or mouth, and apply sparingly around ears. When using repellent sprays, do not spray directly on your face-spray on your hands first and then apply to your face.
  • Do not allow children to handle or spray the product. When using on children, apply to your own hands first and then put it on the child.  Avoid applying repellent to children’s hands because children frequently put their hands in their eyes and mouths.
  • Use just enough repellent to cover exposed skin and/or clothing. Heavy application does not give you better or longer lasting protection.
  • After returning indoors, wash treated skin with soap and water or bathe. This is particularly important when repellents are used repeatedly in a day or on consecutive days.
  • If you (or your child) get a rash or other reaction from a repellent, stop using the repellent, wash the repellent off with mild soap and water, and call a local poison control center for further guidance. If you go to a doctor, it might be helpful to take the repellent with you.

The above guidelines are from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and were designed to apply to the use of “recommended products containing active ingredients which have been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use as repellents applied to skin and clothing.  http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/faq/repellent.html

Forest StreamEnjoying nature is one of the most therapeutic activities we can do.  Just learn to avoid bringing unwanted keepsakes back home from your time in the out-of-doors.  Be safe and have fun!

NAVIGATING COMPLEX ILLNESS

FORUM FOR INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE CONFERENCE ON     NAVIGATING CHRONIC COMPLEX ILLNESS PROVIDED OPPORTUNITY TO INTERACT WITH NATION’S LEADERS TREATING THE CHRONICALLY SICK PATIENT

The number of chronically ill individuals continues to steadily increase.

The number of chronically ill individuals continues to steadily increase.

Last week I had the privilege to attend a gathering of a select group of the nation’s best health care providers who have accepted the challenge to treat the sickest of the sick.

The conference which took place in San Diego, California was organized by the Forum for Integrative Medicine and the topic was “Navigating Complex Chronic Illness”.

The atmosphere of the conference was one of compassion for the suffering and passion for the understanding of the best ways to identify the root causes of chronic, complex illness and to allow and facilitate the body to heal itself.

Participants were treated to very stimulating presentations of the latest clinical  pearls for treatment of a group of devastating diseases including autoimmunity, illness due to mold exposure, rheumatoid arthritis, migraine headaches, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Morgellon’s disease, dementia and other degenerative brain disorders,  a host of hormone disorders, depression and anxiety, insomnia, cancer, PANDAS, autism, and many other conditions.  Presenters included a “Who’s Who” of the nation’s best practitioners in this field.  Those in attendance were treated with the most recent understanding of how chronic inflammation-based disease is caused by the harmful effects of toxins (poisonous substances that we get from the germs in our bodies) and toxicants (damaging substances that man has polluted into the environment (80,000 different chemical substances with 2,500 new ones being added every year).  We discussed how our inherited genetic traits along with the factors that determine how those traits are expressed (a process known as epigenetics) dictates how each individual has a different predisposition to manifest illness when we encounter the various toxins and toxicants in our world.

Our environment is rapidly becoming polluted with harmful man-made toxicants.

Our environment is rapidly becoming polluted with harmful man-made toxicants.

CONFERENCE FOCUSED ON THE ROLE THAT PERSISTENT INFECTION BY “STEALTH PATHOGENS” IN CONTRIBUTING TO CHRONIC COMPLEX ILLNESS

The experts presented the role that numerous “stealth germs” play in setting up persistent infections in our tissues.  In the past it was accepted dogma that one germ caused one disease and that our bodies were for the most part sterile.  Our current paradigm which is becoming more completely understood day by day indicates that we all literally have a “zoo” of microbes in our bodies.  Some subsist peacefully with us and in fact provide necessary support (the healthy intestinal “microbiome” for example) while many others contribute to disease (think HIV virus, the Borrelia spirochete causing Lyme disease, mycoplasma causing chronic lung disease, Strep bacteria causing PANDAS as examples).  These stealth pathogens (harmful microbes) include viruses, bacteria, rickettsia, yeasts, fungi, protozoans (single-cell parasites), and helminths (parasitic worms) cause symptoms by complicated mechanisms.  Many of them can make proteins and other molecules that break down our tissues, weaken our immune systems, imbalance our hormones, and rob us of vital nutrients.

At the same time that the biotoxins made by the germs are causing damage, our body’s own immune system tries its best to halt the infection by creating inflammation to thwart the damage.  Unfortunately in the process of doing so, the immune system creates its own set of harmful proteins and small molecules that also have a harmful, toxic effect on our cells and tissues.  In this way our immune system is really a two edged sword.  Seems as though we can’t live with it and we can’t live without it so to speak.

LATEST TECHNIQUES FOR ASSISTING THE BODY TO SELF-HEAL FROM THE EFFECTS OF CHRONIC INFECTION AND EXPOSURE TO ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS WAS EMPHASIZED

We learned about exciting techniques (many just becoming available to our clinics now) that can be used to accurately identify and characterize these many lurking germs that up until now have been next to impossible to identify.  The experts presented an impressive armamentarium of tools and techniques useful to provide natural measures to “remove, restore, replace and regenerate” the body.  We discussed the role of plant-based botanical agents, energy techniques, proper adjustment of diet and lifestyle, replacement of healing nutrients, and healing hands-techniques including applied kinesiology (muscle testing).

I always feel fulfilled after returning from a medical conference if I can institute one or two new techniques to better care for my patients.  In San Diego after the 20 hours of formal lectures, case presentations, and lively question and answer sessions I came away with 54 pages of clinical pearls and a very long list of new protocols and modalities to better assist my complex, chronically ill patients to navigate their way back to restoration of true health and wellness.

I want to thank Scott Forsgren, the Better Health Guy, and Susan McAmish  and her team at Beyond Balance for organizing the event.  I also want to acknowledge the generous contributions of the stimulating presenters who included Dietrich Klinghardt MD, Kristine Gedroich MD, Ann Corson MD, Ginger Savely DNP, Steve Harris MD, Raj Patel MD, Sunja Schweig MD, Michael Lebowitz DC, Todd Thoring ND, Kelly McCann MD, Amy Joy Smith NP, and Christabelle Yeoh MD.  I came away with the sensation that I had spent three days “drinking from a fire hose” of knowledge.  What a blessing!