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!

 

 

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