Tap to call: 843-572-1600

Gulf War Research on Illness Induced by Chemical Toxicity and Biologic Exposures

Gulf War Research on Illness Induced by Chemical Toxicity and Biologic Exposures

Related to the above paper, the Nicholsons presented their research on Gulf War illnesses. They believe that chemical toxicity and biologic exposures combined to produce these illnesses. It has now been documented that both chemical and biological warfare were used in the Gulf War.

The Nicholsons believe the biological organisms involved were Mycoplasmas, especially Mycoplasma fermentans, an intracellular bacteria. The Nicholsons stated that this particular organism was isolated by the Nazis in their biologic warfare program during World War II. At the end of that war, several Nazi scientists were brought to the United States by the CIA, but their story has never been released. President Clinton has signed into law an order requiring the CIA to release all information concerning these activities.

The presence of this organism in infected individuals is difficult to pinpoint. The organism can only be identified by forensic PCR and gene tracking. Further complicating the diagnosis process, false positive HIV tests are related to this organism because, like the HIV organism, it exhibits the GP 120 envelope.

There is a significant overlap between the symptoms of Gulf War illness and CFIDS/fibromyalgia. In patients diagnosed with CFIDS, the incidence of Mycoplasma fermentans has been found to exceed 70 percent. Gulf War veterans and their families show approximately a 40 percent incidence of Mycoplasma fermentans, which is about the same incidence rate as found in patients diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

For treatment of Gulf War illness, CFIDS, and fibromyalgia syndromes, the Nicholsons have advocated the use of specific antibiotics, specifically Doxicycline (200 mg/day) or Biaxin or Azithromycin (500 mg/day) for 6 months. The positive improvement seen with this protocol has further convinced them of their correctness as to the cause of these illnesses.

Here again we see exemplified one of the basic principles of Environmental Medicine: the concept of the total stress load resulting in increased susceptibility to infection and illness.

Reference: Nicholson GL, Nasralla M, Haier J, Nicholson NL. Treatment of systemic mycoplasmal infection in Gulf War illness, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia syndromes.

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Toxic Chemical Exposure

Dr. Dunstan of Australia presented an interesting paper on the relationship of toxic chemical exposures to infection – specifically asking if toxicity was related to CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome). He pointed out that one year after DDT was introduced into the United States in 1945, the rate of polio doubled. Similarly, in 1950, when Israel introduced the use of DDT, the rate of polio increased in their country from two cases per month to 150 per month.

Laboratory studies of CFIDS patients confirm a significant increase of organochlorine pesticides, especially hexachlorobenzene in their tissues.

These findings are in agreement with our total experience that susceptibility to infection is increased whenever the body’s total stress load is increased and this includes the total body burden of toxic chemicals.

Reference: Dunstan RH, McGregor NR, Roberts TK, Butt H. Biochemical and microbiological anomalies in chronic fatigue syndrome: the development of laboratory based tests and the possible role of toxic chemicals.

Biochemical Abnormalities of Autism

The biochemical abnormalities of autism were brilliantly presented by Rosemary Waring. She emphasized the complex manifestations of autism which include not only the altered behavior, but also:

  • Altered gastrointestinal tract function and gut permeability
  • Decreased appetite control
  • Immune system dysfunction (increased susceptibility to infection)
  • Idiosyncratic reactions to drugs and altered catecholamine and neurotransmitter levels (dopamine/noradrenalin and serotonin), with increased dopamine being responsible for stereotypic movements and behavior

She explained that markedly low levels of sulfates are found in children with autism, as low as one-eighth of normal levels. There seems to be many factors causing these low sulfate levels, such as:

  • A deficiency of sulfotransferase enzyme, the essential enzyme in sulfation
  • Poor oxidation of cysteine to sulfates
  • Poor absorption of inorganic sulfates (only 5-15 percent) because of altered gut permeability
  • Increased excretion of sulfates by the kidneys

The low sulfate levels, in turn, perpetuate the abnormalities. Sulfates are necessary for maintenance of the slipperiness of gut mucins, which support proper gut permeability. Sulfates are also cofactors in certain hormones such as cholecystokinin (the sulfate molecule activates the tyrosine in the peptide chain). This may be the key to understanding the role of secretin, which when given to autistic children has resulted in marked improvement. (The Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine is actively studying the effect of secretin for treatment of autism).

Interestingly, sulfotransferase, the essential enzyme in sulfation, is also inhibited by several foods that have incidentally been recognized as migraine inducing foods. These foods include: amine-containing foods (cheese, chocolate, banana), citrus (especially orange), cranberries, pumpkin, radish, spinach, and peppers. Gluten and casein are also involved. Understanding at least one of the mechanisms of food sensitivity involved in autism helps explain the food-sensitive profile so often seen in autistic children.

Reference: Waring RH. The biochemical basis of autism.

Role of Food Sensitivities in Asthma and Inflammatory Bowel Disorders

Michael Radcliff and other speakers emphasized the importance of food in unexplained illness. 50-60% of brittle asthmatics will improve when their food sensitivities are addressed. Pediatric asthma is an epidemic occurring in one in four to one in seven children. However, breast feeding for a minimum of 15 weeks and not introducing solid foods before this time can reduce its occurrence.

Double blind food challenge studies have shown beyond doubt that idiosyncratic food reactions can provoke a wide range of symptoms in patients suffering from a wide variety of illnesses.

Also supporting the important role of food was a paper by Elaine Gottschall. She has developed a low disaccharide diet for treatment and elimination of chronic inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and celiac disease. This diet eliminates not only glutens, but most starches with a high disaccharide content, such as all cereal grains (including corn, rice, etc.), potatoes, soybeans, and many others. The specifics of this diet are explained in her newly revised book. [We have recently made this book available to our patients at COEM.]

The Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine has used a similar protocol for many years and has found food to be a major critical factor in these diseases.

Reference: Radcliffe M. Unexplained illness: the role of the reproducible idiosyncratic food reaction.

Latex Sensitivity

There is a growing concern over latex sensitivity. Latex is very strongly allergenic and is nearly everywhere. It is estimated to occur in 20,000 substances, with exposure beginning at the time of birth, from contact with the latex rubber gloves worn by medical personnel. There are three major clinical manifestations of allergic reaction to latex: local skin irritation, a delayed contact dermatitis, and classical atopic or allergic disease including life-threatening anaphylaxis.

Associated with latex sensitivity is the Latex Fruit Syndrome. Here we have an example of the principle of Concomitancy, whereby diverse substances may share a similar molecular pattern and exhibit cross-reactivity. Some fruits have components which are molecular mimics of latex and provoke similar reactions in latex-sensitive individuals. Avocado, banana, kiwi, chestnuts, melon, and walnuts all cross-react with latex.

For latex-sensitive individuals, avoidance of latex and the above concomitant fruits is critical.

Neutralization does appear helpful, and the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine has been studying neutralization in this area.

Reference: Frankland AW. Editorial Latex Allergy. Clin Exp Allergy 1995;25:199-201

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder Conference

Dr. Lieberman’s note: The following is my report on a meeting I attended that was sponsored by Georgetown University, the International Center for Interdisciplinary Studies of Immunology, and the International Health Foundation. It is regrettable that although these findings were reported nearly a decade ago (in 1999), very few doctors or parents today understand that there really are effective alternatives to drugs for children with ADHD.

This meeting was a breath of fresh air as leaders were chosen for their ability to present new and old, yet more unaccepted, ideas on the causes of this ever-growing problem seen in children. In California the data shows a greater than 2000% increase in ADHD. This figure stresses the importance of this problem. Although genetics play an important role in the cause of ADHD, environmental factors are also important in its expression and it’s here that I was especially interested.

One very important paper was that of Drs. Bellanti and Sabri who showed that the presence of patches of lymphoid hyperplasia in the ileum or small bowel of these children was identical to that reported by Andrew Wakefield of England in children with Autism. Dr. Sabri said it mirrored that of Crohn’s Disease or inflammation disease of bowel.

Their studies showed also a decrease in the cytokines IL-2 and interferon gamma. The importance here was that this set the immune system up for T-Helper 1 cytokine deficiency pattern also seen in celiac disease and food allergy of non-IgE origin. All of their children had ADHD.

What researchers are finding and reporting in 1999 only supports what older physicians and members of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine have been saying for years — food sensitivity is a major factor in the behavior and learning of not only children but adults as well. Billy Crook, one of the co-sponsors of the meeting and author of several books on the role of yeast in the cause of behavior and learning problems, was finally vindicated.

The mechanism for all this does appear to come from the massive use of antibiotics in early childhood, which alters the normal bacterial flora and allows for a super abundance of yeast and pathogenic bacteria to predominate. This dysbiosis or floral imbalance creates increased permeability of the gut allowing food in larger and more allergy-provoking form to enter the blood stream.

An incidental, though pertinent, paper was sited by Wickens, K., Clinical Experience in Allergy 1999; 29:766-771 showing that the greater the number of antibiotics given in the first year of life, the greater the risk ratio for onset of asthma and hay fever later in life. What is becoming much more obvious though certainly not expected is the overt relationship between the gut and the brain. The pieces of the puzzle now fall together and explain what was obvious to physicians of open minds — food sensitivities can alter brain function, affecting thinking, perception, mood, and behavior. Those foods that were most frequently eaten were also the ones causing adverse reactions. These included milk, wheat, corn, cane sugar, etc. Randolph taught years ago that food addiction was food allergy and vice versa. Additives, also, are more commonly associated with adverse reactions.

Michael Jacob Ph.D. presented his paper on food, food additives and behavior recommending that parents consider dietary changes (along with behavior therapy) as the first treatment for children with behavior problems, before turning to drugs. We here at the Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine strongly agree because in our experience food has always been the most common cause of adverse reactions, though certainly not the only factor.

The presentation by Steven Schoenthaler added more fuel to the fire in demonstrating the role of inadequate nutrition on behavior. His studies were done on inmates of prisons and juvenile delinquency programs. When fresh fruits, vegetables and supplementary vitamins and minerals were added to diets of the prisons there was significant reduction in bad behavior. Of interest also was an increase of 16 points in I.Q. on average in this population.

Marvin Boris presented a short but important review of the literature on: Food and Chemical Intolerance – Placebo controlled studies in ADD. He pointed out that despite many scientific articles showing a clear relationship between the Attention Deficit Disorders with foods, artificial colors and additives, many professional health organizations have denied the existence of any association. He cited 26 references which are included here as a useful reference. In 7 controlled studies (19-26) results were positive. Blinded challenges, crossover protocols were highly statistically significant in over 390 children with ADD.

It was good to hear our friend Nicholas Ashford of M.I.T. review the importance of toxic chemical exposures, especially low level exposures to adverse biological effects including endocrine disruption, chemical sensitivity and cancer. There is hardly a day that we don’t observe the effects of low dose chemical exposure in patients that we see at our Center.

The presentation by John Wargo on childhood exposure to pesticides affecting the nervous system only re-enforced what our Center has been saying for years. The Government has allowed 8627 additives to our food, with 1800 pesticides and inert ingredients to remain as residues within the nation’s food supply. Wargo stressed the vulnerability of a fetus and growing children to these chemicals. People interested in learning more can read his book: J. Wargo, Our Children’s Toxic Legacy: How Science And Law Fail To Protect Us From Pesticides. Yale University Press 2nd edition.

Theo Colborn then spoke on effects of chemicals but especially of organochlorines. She makes the comment that, ” …everyone will have more than 500 measurable chemicals in his or her body, many of which will be organochlorines”. She was especially alarmed at the finding that biologists cannot find a top predator fish in the Great Lakes that does not have enlarged thyroid glands and abnormal ratios of T4, T3 and TSH. She paralleled the poisoning of the thyroid in fish with that of a developing fetus. The brain’s development is dependent on thyroid hormone as is the ear’s cochlea. Without the hormone, low frequency hearing loss occurs along with motor incoordination. The interference from organochlorines polluting our environment, she warned, was interfering with the fetus and child’s development. Ironically, she was basing her warning on animal models. However, PCBs have been reported to injure the brains of babies born to mothers exposed to PCBs.

Colborn concluded with, “… it’s time to practice prevention and focus more on the development of our children while they are in the womb, keeping in mind that damage to the brain during development is irreversible, intractable, and untreatable.” Readers wishing to learn more about Colborn’s research may want to read her book Our Stolen Future.

The “piece de resistance” of the two and a half day meeting, for me, was hearing my old friends and teachers Drs. Sidney Baker and Bill Crook. Dr. Baker had the ability to make the most complicated subject understandable and he did it again with his talk – ADHD in the Nosologic Tree: A clinician’s view from the end of the limb. I often quote Dr. Sidney with his simple paradigm that most patients may have a need for something (a deficiency) or a need to avoid something (an allergic or toxic substance or an infectious disorder).

To sum up his experience, which is certainly similar to mine, he concludes that the most common biomedical solutions to the ADHD problem are:

  • avoidance of delayed reaction food allergens.
  • treatment of fungal overgrowth consequent to use of antibacterial agents, and
  • correction of deficiencies or special needs for magnesium and essential fatty acids.

The highlight of the meeting was the standing ovation given to 82 year old Dr. Billy Crook , author and teacher, who over the last 15 years pushed the hypothesis that yeast secondary to antibiotic use was at the heart of so many health problems, including ADHD. It took many sophisticated lab tests that we can now do to finally vindicate this great clinician. I was very happy to have attended and participated from the floor of this outstanding conference.

The establishment of the Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine grew out of my years of experience treating ADHD children. I saw a need for a different approach than the established use of stimulant drugs. This led me to the American Academy of Environmental Medicine and the teachings of Dr. Billy Crook, Dr. Joseph Miller, Dr. Theron Randolph, Dr. Doris Rapp, and the many others who taught me the basics of allergy, nutrition and toxicology. At the Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine, we have been able to effectively treat many children with these disorders, but instead of using stimulant medication, we identify and treat the cause.

Summary of the Fifth International Meeting of the British Society of Allergy, Environmental Medicine and Nutrition, Sustainable Medicine

Oxford University, England, Sept 7-10, 1998.



Concepts of Environmental Medicine

Environmental Medicine is a branch of medicine whose domain is not limited by anatomical boundaries but, rather, is concerned with the whole person and the way that a person reacts to his/her total environment.


The approach of Environmental Medicine is holistic in nature and addresses every part of the body, including the brain that controls thinking, perception, mood, and behavior. Chronic exposure to various stressors can trigger a wide range of mental, physical, and emotional disorders. Stressors may include infection, allergies and intolerances, addiction, nutritional

deficiencies, exposure to toxic chemicals and toxic metals, or toxic relationships. Stressors may be linked to the air we breathe, the food we eat, the water we drink, the chemicals that pollute them, or more subtle sources. Over time, if stressors outweigh the body’s ability to cope with them, imbalance and illness result.

The Center evaluates each patient in terms of his/her total environment and the impact of that environment on the individual biochemistry. We strive to reduce the Total Body Stress Load and rebuild the body’s reserves, restoring balance and strengthening the individual to overcome and prevent illness.


Related Article

American Academy of Environmental Medicine

American Board of Environmental Medicine

Establishing and nourishing the growth of beneficial bacteria in our digestive tracts is one of the most misunderstood and neglected things we can do to regain and maintain our health. We have in essence another body inside our body, in that we have some 300 trillion cells making up the bacterial flora of our gut. This number of cells is equal to the number of cells that make up our entire body! These “bugs” are our first line of defense against the toxic outside world. It is the multiple strains of bacteria that live on the surface of our intestinal tract that protect us against constant invasion. Yet so much of what we do and are exposed to is killing off this critical mass of flora. We take antibiotics, acid blockers, myriads of synthetic chemicals from dozens of medications, and are exposed to pesticides and heavy metals, all of which destroy our vital bacterial flora.

This month we are introducing three new products and offering significant discounts to entice you to try them and see what a difference they can make in your life.

No farmer would plant seeds without fertilizing his fields and you shouldn’t either. BUTYRAID is butyric acid, the fertilizer that helps your “garden” of vital bacterial flora grow. It smells like parmesan cheese and critically balances the pH of your intestines, which enhances the growth of your normal flora. The medical literature suggests it can also reduce the risk of cancer of the colon by enhancing glutathione, our major detoxifying molecule. This product is free of common allergens.

Fertilize your bowel with 1 – 2 tablets of BUTYRAID per meal, then plant your garden with healthy living probiotics. Regularly $16.00 for 100 tablets*.

Our probiotics of choice are Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Saccharomyces boulardii.

Lactobacillus Rhamnosus is the primary ingredient in our new THER-BIOTIC COMPLETE. This highest-potency, hypoallergenic blend of 12 certified probiotic species provides over 25 billion organisms in every capsule. The InTactic delivery system also guarantees that the probiotics will be live and viable at the time they reach your “garden” where they can grow. There is NO dairy or dairy ingredients in this product and only vegetarian capsules are used. The benefits of the strains of probiotics in Ther-Biotic Complete include:

* Produce lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and other compounds naturally antagonistic to pathogenic bacteria, yeast, and viruses
* Interfere with binding of pathogens to the intestinal mucosa (& compete with them for food)
* Synthesize Vitamin K and the B Vitamins
* Support immune defense mechanisms
* Produce analogs of the DPP-IV enzyme that break down opiod peptides
Take 1 capsule of THER-BIOTIC COMPLETE per day, always with food. Can be taken long term. Regularly $42.90 for 60 capsules*–a 2-month supply.

This probiotic is actually a yeast but is genetically quite different from brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and pathogenic Candida species of yeasts. It has a long history of use for diarrhea or dysentery, but is being used today because it is so helpful in boosting intestinal IgA secretion and decreasing inflammatory bowel disease and Candida overgrowth. It is very effective against pathogenic Clostridia. Our Saccharomyces boulardii product has NO lactose or gluten in it and can be used to support GI-related problems even in autistic children. Only vegetarian capsules are used. S. boulardii is usually taken short-term for difficult digestive and bowel problems, always while using a product such as Ther-Biotic Complete that provides a full spectrum of probiotics.

Take 1 capsule of SACCHAROMYES BOULARDII 2 times daily with food, but separated from anti-fungal agents by at least 2 hours. Regularly $31.00 for 60 capsules*.

We cannot encourage you more to take this first step.
The results will be obvious in a very short time.
– Allan D. Lieberman, M.D.

To Order These New Products, fax (fax (843)-572-1795)or e-mail (Orders@coem.com) your order.


Pool-Zobel BL, Selvaraju V, Sauer J, Kautenburger T, Kiefer J, Richter KK, Soom M, Wolfl S. Butyrate may enhance toxicological defence in primary, adenoma and tumor human colon cells by favourably modulating expression of glutathione S-transferases genes, an approach in nutrigenomics. Carcinogenesis, 2205 Jun:26(6): 1064-76,. Epub 2005 Mar 3.

Scheppach W, Weiler F. The butyrate story: old wine in new bottles? Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2004 Sep; 7(5): 563-7.



Posted in P&T

Content to be updated soon

Content to be updated soon…