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.
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.
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!
These chemicals damage cells and tissues both by direct toxic effect as well as by interfering with the function of important nutrient metals including calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron, and copper. Although toxicity from a single exposure is quite rare the toxic effect of gradual low levels of exposure is now appreciated to be a common occurrence in many individuals. Diagnosis of heavy metal toxicity is somewhat controversial. Blood testing misses many cases not associated with high level recent exposure. The heavy metals often accumulate in tissues like the brain, liver, kidneys, and immune system. A more sensitive method to detect the presence of heavy metals involves the measurement of heavy metals in urine following the administration of a chelating agent designed to transiently increase mobilization and clearance.
Although it is important to learn to recognize the symptoms of heavy metal toxicity, tissue levels are often quite high before symptoms are appreciated. Symptoms include cramps, numbness, tingling, tremors, muscle tics and twitches, memory loss, confusion, impaired language skills, loss of coordination, abnormality of gait, anxiety, depression, headache, digestive problems, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing, fatigue, night sweats, deteriorating vision, unexplained weight gain or loss, aching joints, body aches and pains, hair loss, impaired blood sugar regulation, frequent colds and flus, unexplained skin rashes, insomnia, low body temperature, bleeding gums, sensitivity to chemicals and odors, menstrual irregularity, infertility, and miscarriage. Diseases associated with heavy metals include peripheral neuropathy, Parkinson’s, dementia, epilepsy, autism, kidney failure, liver cirrhosis, diabetes, alopecia, pulmonary fibrosis, and vitiligo.
Start reading labels of personal skin and hair care products and avoid products known to contain aluminum and other harmful chemicals. Drink lots of purified or mountain spring water. Avoid cooking with aluminum and teflon. Certain hobbies and vocations are known to be associated with a marked increase in toxic metal exposure like hair-dressers, welders, potters, farmers, stained glass workers, and painters.
If you suspect symptoms of heavy metal toxicity or have been diagnosed with elevated and potentially toxic levels of these metals it is important to take active steps to support detoxification metals designed to assist the body in elimination of them in order to avoid and even reverse their toxic effects. At Texas Integrative Medicine we are very aware of the role that toxic heavy metals play in chronic disease and we have protocols that are designed to diagnose and treat this frequently seen problem. Call today to schedule an evaluation at 512-420-9300.