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Book Review: TOXIC-Heal Your Body-by Neil Nathan, MD

Book Review: TOXIC Heal Your Body by Neil Nathan, MD-Victory Belt Publishing Inc. 2018

As a physician treating multi-symptom chronic, complex illness (CCI) caused by environmental illness arising from the cumulative exposure to a wide variety of environmental toxins, I have been finding Neil Nathan’s book, TOXIC, to be a very useful resource for patients and practitioners alike.  It is a valuable message of hope and healing.

Dr. Nathan has been treating this rapidly enlarging group of patients for a handful of years longer than I have, and he has created a tool box and approach to treatment that has proven extraordinarily successful.  Many of my diagnostic and treatment protocols align closely with those of Dr. Nathan; in fact he has been a mentor to me over the past few years.

” In my experience, the two major causes of overwhelming sensitivity are mold toxicity and Lyme disease (with its co-infections).  Neil Nathan, MD

In the introduction of Part 2, he admits that of all the environmental toxins that contribute to chronic illness in his patients, he finds the worst to be indoor mold toxins and infection with Bartonella bacteria.  This is probably surprising to some who might have assumed Borrelia spirochete infection (Lyme disease) to be at the top.

Dr. Nathan makes a clear distinction between the direct toxicity effect of environmental toxins and the sensitivity effect of the body to toxins which he ascribes to the nervous system.  I would include the body’s immune system as a source of this sensitivity effect, as well.

In the midsection of his book (chapters 8-20) Dr. Nathan lays out strategies for “rebooting the system”.  He chose this computer metaphor as an apt comparison of how in CCI it is often necessary to reboot various body systems before a state of wellness can return.

Dr. Nathan clearly explains the role of mast cells (a component of the immune system) in perpetuating many of the chronic symptoms of this complex illness as he explains Mast Cell Activation Syndrome which is getting lots of attention nowadays.

Dr. Nathan helps the reader understand the critical role played by the digestive system in CCI and the intimate connection between the digestive system and the nervous system (gut-brain connection) mediated in part by the important vagus nerve.

“Getting the intestines to work well again is an integral part of treatment, but this outcome may be difficult to achieve until the primary causes of illness have been adequately addressed.” Neil Nathan, MD

Dr. Nathan has had a close academic relationship over the years with Dr. Robert Naviaux.  In chapter 8, he summarizes beautifully the concept of the Cell Danger Response, as developed by Dr. Naviaux and the team of scientists with whom he is associated.  Although the science gets a bit “deep”, I really recommend this to patients and providers as well.

Dr. Nathan reaches upon his 47 years of treating patients with chronic illness to present in a very tender way that this illness is very real and that the prospect of total recovery is absolutely achievable.  I honestly  believe that many folks suffering from illness as well as there family and friends will be able to use his narrative to achieve a deep level of understanding and renewed optimism for the future.

“Because I have seen this process work for hundreds of patients, this is also a book of hope-realistic hope for really, really sensitive and sick patients.” Neil Nathan, MD

In the Afterword Dr. Nathan offers a message that is very close to my heart and one that I know many of my patients will relate to.  I think the best way for me to share this is to offer a direct quote from the author.  “Mother Earth is looking more and more like my chronically ill and sensitive patients.  If I were to apply the paradigm expressed in this book to her, I would immediately find the specific chemical toxins that were making her sick, remove her from those exposures (how I do not know), and detoxify her.  I would find ways to reboot those systems that are not functioning properly so that she could thrive again. … We must come together to do this.  We must reach out, talk with one another, and reestablish real connections to begin this process of neurological rebooting on a planetary level.”

He sprinkles in helpful case studies to illustrate many of his points for emphasis.

Veteran practitioner of environmentally acquired illness and author, Neil Nathan, MD

In my opinion, Dr. Nathan’s book, TOXIC, will prove to be a paradigm changer for those affected by and attempting to treat chronic complex illness.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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.