SOME CHRONIC ILLNESS SYMPTOMS CAUSED BY FAULTY BRAIN SIGNALS
Some absolutely amazing findings coming from recent neurobehavioral and psychology research are unraveling a fabric of mystery which is demonstrating that a number of symptoms of “mystery Illnesses” like chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity and electromagnetic frequency sensitivity may be significantly generated by faulty brain messages being generated from a Limbic System that has been injured by a variety of toxic insults including mold toxins, Lyme and associated persistent infections, toxic chemicals in air, food and water, psychological trauma and physical head injury.
The amazingly wonderful associated discovery is that our brains are quite capable to “rewire” and recover using the principle of NeuroPlasticity. This literally means that the brain can learn to reroute and reprogram the damaged areas allowing the associated symptoms to lessen and in many cases disappear. This is not really different from the mechanism that allows the victim of a stroke to relearn to walk or talk.
Since the limbic system (which is made up of the cingulate gyrus, the amygdala, the hippocampus and the hypothalamus) acts as a control center for the autonomic nervous system, the immune system, the endocrine system and the digestive system, many physical signs, symptoms and abnormal lab findings may be directly caused by false or inappropriate limbic system messages to the rest of the body.
At Texas Integrative Medicine our goal is to identify the environmental toxic triggers that have led to limbic system disorder sometimes referred to as a Limbic System Trauma Loop. First priority is to stop further exposure to the toxins. For example, we might find that there is toxic indoor mold in a person’s home, school or workplace and we would make every attempt to stop further exposure. Perhaps a person’s drinking water is tainted with lead or pesticides. Again we try to eliminate these exposures. Next, it is necessary to use the body’s natural means of toxin elimination (kidneys, liver, sweat glands, bowel elimination, immune system) to clear the body’s stored toxins and harmful germs as best we can.
We are learning that even once toxins have been significantly reduced, the limbic system may still remain “stuck in a rut”. A good analogy would be when a circuit breaker breaks from too much current demand. You can unplug the excessive appliances, but the system doesn’t work until the circuit breaker is RESET.
There are two successful ways to reset or reprogram the damaged limbic system that we have been working with at Texas Integrative Medicine.
Annie Hopper from Victoria, Canada has developed a system of behavioral training which she has named the Dynamic Neural Retraining System. You can find out more about it at her website- www.retrainingthebrain.com. Her system has helped many people recover from complex “mystery” illness. Please check out some of the Success Stories on her webpage.
Neurobiofeedback scientists and clinicians are perfecting modalities that combine monitoring brain electromagnetic waves (EEG) with reward systems such as using brain signals to alter the color and sound loudness of a movie DVD. In Austin, Lynda Kirk and associates at Austin Biofeedback and EEG Neurofeedback Center offer the most advanced devices and protocols to retrain the limbic system in a way that leads to resolution of symptoms and improvement in brain function. You can learn more about their approach at https://www.austinbiofeedback.com
In my functional clinical practice, Texas Integrative Medicine, one of the most common problems I see is chronic, complex illness from the presence of mold toxins in the body. I usually see patients who come in with a group of unexplained symptoms and the cause is unknown. In other cases a person knows that they are being exposed to bad mold and have symptoms, but don’t know what to do about it.
Some of the symptoms of mold toxin/mycotoxin toxicity are caused by the direct toxic effects on our cells and sub-cellular organelles (especially mitochondria). Probably even more symptoms are caused by immune self-injury! Let me explain. When our body’s immune system encounters non-self, such as a mycotoxin molecule, it is programmed to respond with what is called the immune response, the purpose of which is to neutralize or remove the non-self (think germ invader or germ toxin). Unfortunately in many cases our own cells and tissues can be injured by the immune response in a process of immune self-injury or “autoimmunity“. Many of the symptoms that patients encounter with mycotoxin exposure are immune self-injury or immune inflammation symptoms. Ok, what are they? Almost always severe fatigue and intolerance to exercise or exertion is a hallmark of mold illness. Symptoms involving the nervous system are almost always present. These symptoms are from effects on the Central Nervous System as well as the Peripheral Nervous System (all the many nerves outside the brain). Brain Fog is a term my patients often use to describe the brain effects of mold toxicity. This term means that they experience loss of focus, loss of train of thought, difficulty with word finding, difficulty with problem solving, memory loss, and even confusion. In addition to brain fog most patients also experience significant mood alterations. They experience a sense of anxiety, emotionality, excessive fear or worry, depression, sense of despair, and often the inability to get restful sleep. Symptoms of peripheral nervous system involvement include many symptoms of numbness, tingling, burning and pain. This is often localized to one area or side of the body and often migrates and comes and goes. Digestive Disorder symptoms are exceedingly common. When mold toxins on mold spores are inhaled into the nose, they stick to the nasal mucous and later are usually swallowed. Some mold toxins are actually on the food we eat and are consumed. Effects of mycotoxins in the Gastro-Intestinal tract include acid reflux/heartburn, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhea. Pulmonary manifestations include shortness of breath and cough. The toxic effects of molds also can reek havoc on our hormone-producing glands leading to a wide array of hormone imbalances and deficiencies. Immune self-injury of the muscles, ligaments, bones, joints, and tendons often causes severe aches, pains and stiffness.
In 1996, Dr. Shoemaker was practicing Family Practice in Maryland on the banks of the Chesapeake Bay. Some of his long-time patients were coming to him with the symptom picture that I described above. He had heard about a toxin-producing algae-like germ called Pfiesteria that occured in algae-blooms in the bay. One of his patients came in with severe diarrhea. He decided to treat her diarrhea with cholestyramine, an old medicine used to lower cholesterol by binding it in the intestine, which was one of his favorite diarrhea treatments. To his surprise and pleasure, the patient reported that within a few days her diarrhea was gone along with her memory loss, headache and cough. He later learned that similar toxins could be produced by many indoor molds and lead to a similar clinical picture. Over the years Dr. Shoemaker worked out many of the mechanisms that resulted in patient’s symptoms and he called the disease process Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome or CIRS based largely on the fact that most of the symptoms were the result of inflammation due to the immune system’s response to the mycotoxins.
Later Dr. Shoemaker worked out a complex protocol and actually formed a training program (subject to tuition costs of course) to “certify” practitioners in his Shoemaker Protocol. He has published several books on CIRS including Mold Warriors: Fighting America’s Hidden Health Threat (April 2005) and Surviving Mold: Life in the Era of Dangerous Buildings (December 2010). He also maintains a very informative website about the illness- www.survivingmold.com.
It has been my experience in working with patients with the symptoms of Mold Illness that the symptoms seen from a variety of diseases associated with infection from a variety of Vector-Borne diseases are much the same.
Lyme Disease which is a disease reaching epidemic proportions in the United States is one such disease that overlaps the symptoms of mold illness. The germ Borrelia burgdorferi, a spirochete which does occur in Texas and in much of the United States is just one stealth infection that may look like mold illness. Even though the principles of treatment of each disease is different although some of the approaches to treatment overlap.
In my practice I am amazed by the differences that I see among individuals that are shown to have mold toxins and stealth germs in their bodies. It appears that some people are completely without any symptoms even though they harbor mold toxins/mycotoxins and stealth germs like the “Lyme germ” in their bodies. I have found that it is very important to individualize the treatment of these diseases. The individual’s susceptibility to manifest symptoms from the various toxins is what I call BioTerrain. These are the various factors of genetics and epigenetics which is what causes one person to be a “Canary in the Coal Mine” while another person with essentially the same set of mold toxins and stealth infection toxins is like a “Cast Iron Skillet” and may be perfectly well.
To successfully resolve symptoms, I have found that rule #1 is to identify and eliminate ongoing exposure to the toxins causing the problem. This may require inspecting for mold-toxin causing molds in the indoor environment. This may include testing for the presence of mold toxins and stealth infections in the body. Often tests to understand the BioTerrain are helpful in order to modify the individual’s susceptibility to symptoms and inflammation. Finally the goal of treatment is to assist in the elimination or reduction of toxins, mycotoxins and harmful stealth germs such as the “Lyme Borrelia” from the body. There are quite a few tools that are used to accomplish this and I have found that these tools must be individualized from patient to patient. One size definitly does not fit all.
I would be privileged to assist anyone who suspects that they are suffering from the effects of mycotoxins and other biotoxins and has not found the answers that they are looking for. I am accepting new patients. Please call 512-420-9300 if you wish to be seen by me in consultation.
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-512-420-9300
Don’t get me wrong. As a “technology nerd” I don’t know of too many people who have more of a love of things electronic than I do. I am what people call an “early adopter” when it comes to the latest digital gadget, whether it be for enjoying audio and video, accessing the internet, or achieving an endless list of amazing things that this technology can do. Indeed when I look back on the changes of the last 50 or so years, my life today in many respects bears little resemblance to my life of yesteryear. Recently, though, I have begun to consider that there may be a downside to all this new technology.
I am not alone in this consideration. The evidence of this is mounting rapidly.
Associate Professor, Environment & Resource Studies, Trent University, Canada.
Expert in radiofrequency radiation, electromagnetic fields, dirty electricity and ground current.
“Radio frequency radiation and other forms of electromagnetic pollution are harmful at orders of magnitude well below existing guidelines. Science is one of the tools society uses to decide health policy. In the case of telecommunications equipment, such as cell phones, wireless networks, cell phone antennas, PDAs, and portable phones, the science is being ignored. Current guidelines urgently need to be re-examined by government and reduced to reflect the state of the science. There is an emerging public health crisis at hand and time is of the essence.”
I practice medicine that deals with chronic, complex illness, and my approach involves investigation for the root causes of illness with the goal of eliminating the root causes and reversing the harmful health effects. Over the years that I have treated folks, I have encountered a steady increase in the incidence of many diseases associated with inflammation. Others are seeing the same phenomenon. In fact these diseases are sometimes called the epidemics of the 21st Century. They include diseases like asthma, autoimmune disease, autism, arthritis, sleep disorder, obesity, infertility, cancer and a number of others that are thought by many scientists and healthcare providers to be associated with the progressive environmental changes that our world is experiencing since the beginning of the industrial age (especially the past 50 years since the “digital revolution” began).
What is ElectroSmog anyway? It is a catchy term that has been coined to represent a number of different sources of electromagnetic fields (EMF), electromagnetic radiation (EMR), magnetic fields associated with high voltage power lines, microwaves (RF) associated with radio/TV antenas and cellphone towers, electrical transients and harmonics (dirty electricity) in our home electric wiring, direct current electric and magnetic fields (DC), ground current, and extremely low frequency EMF (ELF EMF). There is no disputing the fact that the annual rate of introduction of these energies into our local environment has been exponential and continues to grow at an astounding rate.
When one considers the rate of growth per 1,000 population of these diseases of the 21st Century, there are any number of different candidate causes that have been incriminated to play a role. Global temperature change, increases in chemical pollution of the air, food, and water (even our oceans), progressive destruction of undeveloped lands (urban sprawl), world-wide global travel with attendant transmission of communicable diseases, emerging antibiotic resistance of disease-causing germs (so-called superbugs), nuclear emissions, and electrosmog. Probably all of these factors play a role to a greater or lesser degree. Electrosmog, more than the others, seems to most closely match the rate of growth in terms of the amount of exposure compared with the increased amount of disease per capita.
Medical epidemiologist in occupational epidemiology.
First scientist to report increased leukemia and other cancers in electrical workers and to demonstrate that the childhood age peak in leukemia emerged in conjunction with the spread of residential electrification.
“Very recently, new research is suggesting that nearly all the human plagues which emerged in the twentieth century, like common acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children, female breast cancer, malignant melanoma and asthma, can be tied to some facet of our use of electricity. There is an urgent need for governments and individuals to take steps to minimize community and personal EMF exposures.”
Can we have both the modern technological advances of the 21st Century and still be protected from ElectroSmog? The answer is a definite YES. In fact other countries are way ahead of the United States in terms of creating standards and regulations intended to allow technological progress while still protecting the health of the population. See the Austrian Medical Association listed below.
So what can a person do? It all starts with a healthy awareness and appreciation for the problem. The internet abounds with a wealth of useful information for those that seek it. Evidence is mounting that the most cost-effective way to reduce adverse health effects is avoidance of exposure. There are any number of service businesses coming in to existence whose mission is to measure the home or work environment for levels of potentially harmful exposure and to assist with measures to reduce or eliminate these exposures. Followup testing can verify the effectiveness of these interventions. Changes in symptoms may be rapidly appreciated. There are also a number of easy and low cost measures that one can take to reduce exposure. Since the issue of ElectroSmog is somewhat technical, bringing in an environmental consultant can be well worth the limited expense to avoid unnecessary expense, to avoid taking unnecessary measures, and to maximize the beneficial outcome.
Here are a few solutions that are easy to do and yet can significantly reduce ElectroSmog exposure:
We all need to do our part to protect ourselves and our families from the adverse health effects of environmental degradation associated with the interaction of “human progress” with our world. This is the only world we have at least for the foreseeable future!
Electromagnetic absorption in the human head and neck for mobile telephones at 835 and 1900 MHz
Gandhi, O.P. Lazzi, G. and Furse, C.M.1996
Source: IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, Volume: 44; Pages: 1884-1897
Magnetic field exposure and long-term survival among children with leukemia
Foliart, D.E. Pollock, B.H. Mezei, G. Iriye, R. Silva, J.M. Epi, K.L. Kheifets, L. Lind, M.P. Kavet, R. 2006
Source: British Journal of Cancer, 94 161-164
Extra low frequency electric and magnetic fields in the bedplace of children diagnosed with leukemia: a case control study
R.W Coghill; J Steward; A Phillips1996
Source: European Journal of Cancer Prevention, 5 (3) (153-158)
Environ Toxicol Pharmacol 2016 Sep;46:183-7. doi: 10.1016/j.etap.2016.07.016. Epub 2016 Jul 26.
Rev Environ Health 2016 Sep 1;31(3):363-97. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2016-0011.
EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems and illnesses Belyaev I, Dean A, Eger H, Hubmann G, Jandrisovits R, Kern M, Kundi M, Moshammer H, Lercher P, Müller K, Oberfeld G, Ohnsorge P, Pelzmann P,Scheingraber C, Thill R.
Guideline of the Austrian Medical Association ( ) for the diagnosis and treatment of EMFrelated health problems and illnesses (EMF syndrome) Consensus paper of the Austrian Medical Association’s EMF Working Group ( AG-EMF) Adopted at the meeting of environmental medicine officers of the Regional Medical Association´s and the Austrian Medical Association on 3rd March 2012 in Vienna.
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. He has a focus on the role that environmental stress and toxins play in the health of his patients. His motto is “Health and Wellness from Head to Toe”. www.texasintegrative.com office phone-512-420-9300