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.
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*.
THE HEALTH OF THE GUT IS THE FIRST MOST IMPORTANT STEP IN REGAINING HEALTH AND MAINTAINING HEALTH.
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.
*ALL LISTED PRICES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE AFTER 30 DAYS OF PUBLISHED DATED OF ARTICLE.
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.
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CHEMICAL TOXICITY & SENSITIVITY
Treatment of chemical toxicity | chemical sensitivity treatment and Chemical Sensitivity
Many disorders and diseases can be caused or exacerbated by an overload of stored chemical toxins. Addressing this aspect of the Total Body Stress Load can be truly life saving for people chemically injured through acute or chronic chemical exposures. Our toxic body burdens are critical to our health. This is why we often say, “We don’t just get sick, but are being made sick.”
At the root of hypersensitivity to common airborne pollutants–such as pesticides, synthetic fragrances, and petrochemical fumes—are three common problems: an increased body burden of toxins, a depletion of key nutrients used in the body’s normal detoxification processes, and, at times, an inherently weak detoxification system.
How does the Center treat chemical toxicity | chemical sensitivity treatment?
Each patient that we see at The Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine is evaluated and treated individually. [Click here to learn more about our Comprehensive Diagnostic Work-up.] Based on an individual’s history and laboratory results, our physicians are able to determine if an overload of stored chemical toxins is a major cause of a patient’s signs and symptoms. If so, the Biodetoxification Program offers the most comprehensive and cost-effective treatment in the least amount of time.
The Center’s Biodetoxification Program has been operating since October 1988 and was pioneered for one purpose:
to offer safe, intensive treatment for the reduction of the body’s burden of toxic chemicals. Our Biodetoxification unit is one of only a half-dozen such units in the entire country, and to our knowledge, it is the largest stand-alone unit for this treatment protocol. Dr. Lieberman’s background and experience in Toxicology has made him a recognized expert in this field.
Before a patient enters the program, specialized laboratory testing is performed to determine the body burden of toxic chemicals and how these may be affecting body chemistry, immunity, and overall function. A considerable amount of time and research went into the development of our Biodetoxification Program. Each part of the program has evolved according to the needs and results of our patients.
Hundreds of patients from all over the world have now completed the Biodetoxification Program at The Center. Patients come to us on their own referral (often because someone they know has had good results) or on the referral of various state or federal programs.
What is The Center’s Biodetoxification Program and how does it work?
The Center’s Biodetoxification Program utilizes clinical procedures that safely reduce the body’s burden of toxic chemicals, including chemicals stored following occupational, accidental, and/or chronic airborne exposures. Chemicals bind to human tissues on the basis of their lipophilic properties — meaning literally “attracted to fats.” When our bodies absorb lipophilic toxins, they are deposited in our fat stores and released whenever those fatty tissues are broken down to provide energy. Thus, although we may initially be poisoned by an extrinsic (outside) source of toxicants, we may continue to be poisoned over a prolonged period of time by our own intrinsic (inside) body stores of those poisons.
The biodetoxification process is designed to remove toxicants using three basic mechanisms:
These three mechanisms permit acceleration of the body’s system of detoxification, making it possible to decrease the time normally required to reduce a body burden of toxicants from months to weeks.
The Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine uses a four-week outpatient Biodetoxification Program operating eight hours each day, five days per week, for treatment of the average patient. However, some patients may require more time, varying from four to ten weeks.
What are the advantages of undergoing Biodetoxification at The Center rather than at home?
The intensive four-week portion of the program at The Center is continued through maintenance detoxification procedures that can be done at home. We teach patients how to safely and effectively continue maintenance biodetoxification on their own, with only periodic follow-ups with the physicians at The Center to monitor their progress.
Can extremely chemically sensitive patients safely undergo Biodetoxification at the Center?
YES, WE ARE A SCENT-FREE, CHEMICAL-FREE, AND SMOKE-FREE FACILITY, housed in an environmentally safe building.
Since our Biodetoxification Program is an outpatient program, we have made arrangements for accommodation close to The Center for our chemically sensitive patients. We have safe housing available. Please contact the Center for more information.
If you are not certain if you are a candidate for Biodetoxification, you can schedule an appointment for a complete evaluation during which time the doctor can advise whether biodetoxification is recommended in your case.
Fortunately, the majority of participants who complete both the intensive and maintenance portions of The Center’s Biodetoxification Program become much less chemically sensitive, but we recognize that each case is individual.
What is the goal of the Biodetoxification Program and how successful is The Center at reaching that goal?
The ultimate goal of The Center’s Biodetoxification Program is to rehabilitate each individual, and to help return him or her to a normal, active life within the guidelines of reasonable but strict environmental control.
We now have 19 years of experience treating chemically burdened patients through Biodetoxification. Eighty per cent of our patients who have successfully completed both the intensive and maintenance portions of The Center’s Biodetoxification Program have reduced their signs and symptoms by at least 50 per cent.
The overwhelming majority of them report feeling more energetic, better able to think and problem solve on a daily basis (due to improved neurocognitive function), and better able to function in performing activities of daily living. Many have been able to return to gainful employment in reasonable but strictly controlled environments.
The volume of extremely positive feedback we have had about the Biodetoxification Program has strengthened The Center’s commitment to continue helping chemically injured patients overcome severe illness and limitations.
What are patients’ experiences with The Center’s Biodetoxification Program?
We’ll let them speak in their own words. Click here to read A Patient’s Story of Chemical Sensitivity.
How can I get more information about the Biodetoxification Program?
Click here to read “We Are All Polluted: The Role of Biodetoxification in Overcoming Illness.”
You can also call The Center at (843) 572-1600 and ask for a further explain of the program and request a packet of detailed information be e-mailed to you.
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Stopping Heart Attack and Stroke
(It’s More than Cholesterol)
Submitted by Timothy J. Callaghan, M.D. for COEM’s Website
It’s a tragedy! We all know someone who has faithfully gotten an annual physical (including blood tests and EKG) from their doctor, and the doctor has happily reported that the results show no evidence of cardiovascular or other disease. Your friend feels secure, believing that his preventive measures of regular exercise and prudent diet seem to be working well.
Yet, that same person experiences a heart attack or stroke within weeks of seeing his doctor! How could someone be assured that he’s doing well and still get a heart attack or stroke? What went wrong?
This is a question that doctors have long agonized over—but are recently getting more satisfying answers. Beginning in 1948, researchers began a comprehensive study of 5,000 Americans to try to identify and understand cardiovascular disease risk factors. What they found from this now famous Framingham Heart Study was that there is inconsistency between the results of our routine laboratory testing and the incidence of heart disease.
The Framingham study revealed that 80 percent of patients who had a cardiovascular event (heart attack or stroke) showed results from routine blood lipid profile tests for cholesterol, triglycerides, etc., similar to the normal population who did not have cardiovascular disease. This implied that the traditional lipid panel was not capable of being an accurate “key” to determining true risk. In a research study reported in The American Journal of Cardiology, it was demonstrated that the usual “cholesterol” panel was only 40 percent predictive for revealing coronary heart disease. Why?
We now have the answers to the lack of predictability based on annual cholesterol tests. It appears that heart disease has many risk factors other than cholesterol that have not been tested for previously. It also appears that we have not understood that a major culprit in cardiovascular disease is the “soft plaque” in the arteries and not the traditional calcified plaque that was thought to gradually build up and “clog” the artery.
A newer laboratory test called the VAP Cholesterol Test analyzes fantastic new markers to help predict cardiovascular disease. Researchers have “cracked open” the lipid molecules in the bloodstream and found at least 10 new items critical to evaluate heart disease. These include Lp(a) (lipoprotein a), VLDL and VLDL-3 (very low density lipoproteins), Non-HDL (non-high-density lipoprotein), IDL (intermediate density lipoprotein), real LDL (real low density lipoprotein) and real-LDL-C size pattern, remnant lipoproteins, and HDL2 and HDL3 (high density lipoproteins 2 and 3). VAP Cholesterol Test markers, when abnormal, have been found to be “positive” indicators even when traditional markers like total cholesterol, LDL, and triglycerides are “normal.”
Another accurate marker that can now be evaluated is the homocysteine level. When homocysteine is elevated, the risk of heart attack and stroke has been shown to be three times higher than with normal homocysteine levels.
C Reactive Protein–High Sensitivity is another blood marker that is elevated with any inflammation in the body, but also correlates with an increased risk of heart attack. Another is fibrinogen, a protein normally found in the blood that is key in helping us not bleed to death when we’re injured, but when excessive, increases the risk of clots forming in the bloodstream itself and causing heart attacks or strokes. Low testosterone levels in men, and low levels of the trace mineral selenium may increase the risk of coronary disease by 24 percent.
The ADMA (asymmetrical dimethyl arginic) test measures levels of a chemical that inhibits normal nitric oxide dilation of the blood vessels. When levels are high, researchers have found a 27-fold increase in the risk of heart attack. A high level can also reveal an increased risk of hypertension, erectile dysfunction, and insulin resistance.
Researchers have discovered that bacteria like Chlamydia, H. pylori and dental bacteria are associated with heart disease. Chlamydia has actually been found in the artery plaque and is suspected of increasing plaque formation. Cytomegalovirus and Coxsackie virus are thought to trigger plaque build-up through a complicated mechanism of “molecular mimicry.” Elevated antibody levels to these bacteria or viruses can indicate excessive levels of these harmful organisms and may be an indicator of risk.
Then there are nutrients that we need to help prevent plaque formation in the blood vessels. These include antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids. Evaluating whether or not we have optimal levels of these nutrients can help us know how close we are to obtaining a truly heart-protective diet.
We can take a totally non-invasive look into the arteries and see if plaque is developing years before an EKG or stress test (nuclear or regular) can indicate a problem. This technology entails 64 heart scans taken through various cross-sections of the coronary arteries and analyzed with calcium scoring. It can visualize blockages better than ever before and provides a calcium (plaque) score between 1 and 400. As terrific as this scan is, it is best not done because of the extremely high level of radiation to which you will be exposed. It provides the highest level of radiation of any of the CT scans.
Carotid ultrasound of the carotid arteries can measure the thickness of blood vessel walls, and the thicker and more inflexible the vessel walls, the greater the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Not everyone needs all of these advanced cardiovascular tests, but it is wonderful to know that they are available to help us identify our individual risk factors and understand how to reduce them. These tests are especially important when a person has a family history of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, dementia, and other increasingly preventable problems. Knowing where our genetic weaknesses may lie can be a great help in avoiding the family cardiovascular disease pattern.
If there are positive test results from any of these new tests, multiple strategies can be used to lower risks. At The Center for Occupational & Environmental Medicine, we use a comprehensive approach including diet changes, nutrient supplementation, intravenous chelation, and medication where necessary. Please see Healthy for Life Weight Loss for information about our very successful weight loss program.
For further information about our programs, please contact The Center at (843) 572-1600.
Castelli WP. Lipids, risk factors and ischaemic heart disease. Atherosclerosis. 1996;124:S1–S9.
Castelli WP. Canadian Journal of Cardiology 1988:4A: 5A.
Frost; American Journal of Cardiology 1998: 81:26B.
Lamarch B, Tehernof A, Moorjani S, et al. Small, dense low density lipoprotein articles as a predictor of the risk of ischemic heart disease in man: prospective results from the Quebec Cardiovascular Study. Circulation. 1997 Jan 7; 95(1) 69-75.
Superko HR. Did grandma give you heart disease? The new battle against coronary artery disease. American Journal of Cardiology. 1998;82:34Q–46Q.
An Interview with Dr. Lieberman
Editor’s Note: Many times we on the staff have heard a patient say, “Oh, I wish I could have sat with Dr. Lieberman for hours-I learned so much!” In this “chair-side chat,” Dr. Lieberman explores the connection between yeast and developmental delays, food allergies, asthma, and even prostatitis.
Q: What has made this field of yeast-related illness so timely for several decades now?
Dr. Lieberman: When I first started working in this field in the late 1970’s, I thought every patient had yeast, and I treated everybody accordingly. After awhile I got disillusioned and I said, “No, this is impossible, nobody has it!” As the years went by, the pendulum swung back again. If you’re an astute clinician and you talk to patients, you see that yeast is a problem.
The paper presented by Dr. William Shaw at one of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine conferences in Kansas City was the real bombshell, because it gave us, for the first time, really hard evidence that many physicians were right who talked about yeast as a major cause of impairments.
Q: What was Shaw’s background and why did he get interested in this himself?
Dr. Lieberman: Dr. Shaw, as an analytical biochemist, was analyzing the urine of two brothers. He didn’t know anything about these children, except that once the results came from the laboratory, he had never seen the presence of these particular metabolites before. He said, “These are not normal metabolites of normal people,” and ultimately realized that they were metabolites of bacteria and fungi. When he inquired about the children he had tested, he found that they both were autistic. So then he started to look at the urine of other children with autism and other neurologic problems, and lo and behold, he found that their urine also contained the same metabolites. That was really the great breakthrough-the presence of yeast and abnormal bacteria produce identifiable chemicals in the urine.
With Shaw’s paper, we now had a scientific basis to show, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a patient can have these organisms and be influenced by the metabolites of them.
Dr. Lieberman: To me, the most amazing thing is to look at levels of yeast metabolites in the urine of children who have been on antibiotics for their ear infections. We wonder what happens to these kids-why their behavior changes and why they develop all kinds of problems-and there it is. Shaw’s contribution has been not only to identify yeast metabolites as a cause of neurologic problems, but also to show an imbalance in the gut bacteria can produce abnormal metabolites. The imbalance of the gut flora is called dysbiosis.
Q: In what way does a bowel dysbiosis or yeast overgrowth actually manifest? How does that impact upon the brain?
Dr. Lieberman: Small molecules have the capacity to go through the blood-brain barrier and it seems that they are amazingly capable of altering cerebral function. We know, for example, that in digesting and metabolizing wheat and other grains containing gluten, certain types of opioids can be produced and these things can really affect brain function. Well, now we see that organic acid molecules that are coming from yeast and bacteria are also capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier and influencing behavior and brain function.
Q: And that might show up as autism, or hyper-activity, or other neurologic problems?
Dr. Lieberman: When I’ve talked with Dr. Shaw, he said he’s seeing a lot more of these organic acid metabolites in the urine of hyper-active children. That doesn’t surprise me in the least. There is an epidemic of these problems in children. They’re sick all the time and why are they sick all the time? It is because of their diet, food sensitivities, and the development of secondary dysbiosis problems with either yeast or bacteria that produce these metabolites. The metabolites are actually causing behavior problems.
Q: So he has seen a reversal in the problems of the patients who have been treated on the basis of his Organic Acids Urine Test?
Dr. Lieberman: When Dr. Shaw found these unusual metabolites in the urine of the brothers, he asked the parents, “Why don’t we put these children on some anti-fungal drug and see what happens?”
With anti-fungal treatment, the yeast metabolites in the children’s urine decreased and their behavior improved.
So we have a very wonderful cause and effect relationship. Of course, it takes more than treatment of yeast to clear all behavior problems, but this can be a critical piece in the treatment program.
Q: And you’ve seen a change in the behavior of those you’ve treated, too?
Dr. Lieberman: Yes, definitely. As you read our Testimonials from successfully treated patients or their parents, you see that treatment of yeast has made a huge difference in behavior in many cases.
Q: Does dysbiosis or yeast overgrowth cause other problems besides changes in behavior?
Dr. Lieberman: Dysbiosis is actually an imbalance of all the microbiological flora of the gut, not just a yeast overgrowth. Dysbiosis produces a permeability dysfunction so that things that should remain in the G.I. tract are now getting through the wall in bigger pieces. Bigger pieces are more antigenic, meaning they are capable of producing an immunologic response, especially an allergic response. That’s how we think the mechanism of food sensitivity is being created. The more antigens from a permeable gut enter the circulation, the more immune response would be initiated. A permeable gut, which can be caused by dysbiosis, does make the problem of food allergy much worse.
In addition, once the antigen enters the circulatory system, it’s carried to all the organs of the body and comes into contact with those elements of the immune system called lymphocytes. If the antigen triggers lymphocytes and immune response in the lung, it might set off asthma. If the antigen triggers an immune response from the lymphocytes in the Peyer’s Patches of the G.I. tract, it might trigger diarrhea. It usually takes a combination of insults for the organ to react, so that is why we say in Environmental Medicine, “The previously injured organ becomes the target of the allergic response.”
Depending upon a person’s family history and medical history, any organ might be the target and produce adverse symptoms.
But what is important here for our discussion is that if yeast is a root cause of gut permeability or food allergy or other symptoms, we can confirm the presence of the yeast through Shaw’s test for the metabolites of yeast and bacteria. Now we don’t have to be defensive in trying to present this whole yeast connection concept to the scientific community.
Q: And if you don’t find the metabolites of yeast, is that the end of it?
If the metabolites of yeast are not there on testing, then we have to rethink the whole thing. I would like to address this for a minute. We all see these patients who come into the office who are totally convinced that all their problems are coming from yeast. They have literally put themselves through a mangle-there isn’t any anti-fungal drug that they haven’t been on, there’s nothing that they haven’t tried, and they feel that they’re still full of yeast. In many ways, we now have some nice criteria to say with confidence to a patient, “There is a problem, but it’s not yeast, and we have to look elsewhere. Trying to do only yeast eradication cannot be the total answer to the problem you have.”
Q: What other conditions would mimic those symptoms that a patient would think were caused by yeast?
Dr. Lieberman: That’s an interesting question, because when you’re a medical student and you’re taking the course called “Medicine,” you’ve got this textbook that has almost 2,000 pages. You say, “Okay, what are the signs and symptoms of this disease and that disease?” You find they’re often the same!
That is what makes Environmental Medicine so unique, because we’re not interested in choosing an organ and just identifying the signs and the symptoms.
The only thing that makes any difference is what causes those signs and symptoms, and what you’re going to find is that there are many ways to produce headache and the flu-like symptoms in a patient. They can come from anything from A to Z, usually a combination of things. But one of those causes is often Yeast. It doesn’t matter if yeast is affecting the nervous system, the G.I. system, or the joints. If yeast is a cause and you treat it, it’s astounding the myriad of signs and symptoms that can respond in that patient.
Q: What would be the treatment for yeast overgrowth, and is there any rule of thumb about how long treatment should be continued?
Dr. Lieberman: In our practice, we’ve always used a rather classical approach with systemic anti-fungal drugs and local-acting fungal drugs, often combined. With this approach we can treat the reservoir of yeast in the gut with the local-acting fungal drugs, but also treat elsewhere in the body where yeast may have been able to migrate due to a permeable gut or impaired immune system that didn’t keep the yeast localized. It depends upon the patient as to how long the treatment has to be applied.
For example, interestingly, many cases of chronic prostatitis in males are actually yeast prostatitis, and that’s the reason why they never get rid of the problem because they’re treated with more and more antibiotics. It’s often a combination infection of both yeast and bacteria, and until you identify which organisms are causing the infection and treat them appropriately for a sufficiently long time, the problem doesn’t resolve. We have not found cultures and stool analyses and other diagnostic tests to be entirely accurate, but with the aid of the other newer tests we use like Shaw’s test, we have very good results with many different kinds of chronic problems.
Q: Many patients seem happy to take anti-fungal medications, even expensive ones, but less inclined to follow diet changes. In your experience, what effect do anti-fungal medications without dietary changes have on the patient’s progress?
Dr. Lieberman: Well, I can answer that question because I was remiss when I first started working with these kinds of patients. I felt the diet was not the most important thing and what we needed to do was just use the drugs. What I found was that it didn’t work too well and especially there was a rebound effect after the drugs were discontinued. If you want to really try to hold these organisms down, it’s so important to stop feeding them with so many different kinds of sugars, even so-called natural sugars that are concentrated into syrups and such, and with refined carbohydrates.
Q: What happens when a person tries to diagnose himself or herself with yeast overgrowth and tries to self-treat? Can that be beneficial or harmful?
Dr. Lieberman: The question that you asked is really very relevant. Most patients will read the wonderful books by Billy Crook [William Crook M.D., who wrote the whole Yeast Connection series of books] and think, “That’s what I have!” But as I said before, if you study medicine you find that many diseases have common signs and symptoms.
I have given patients credit for being more knowledgeable than the doctor in terms of better knowing their bodies, but we gave an example before of some patients whose whole life was obsessed with the idea that they were overrun with yeast. We were able to document with these new biomarkers that it wasn’t yeast at all.
So what they did in a sense was just waste time, probably money, and effort. They were looking at the wrong cause, and that’s why they never got better. It probably takes a combination of a physician plus a patient, because the physician has to develop a more comprehensive approach and write a prescription, if necessary. Nevertheless, doctors don’t give patients enough credit for understanding their own problems, so here at our Center we try very much to respect patients when they come tell us their histories.
We have to look for the root causes of a patient’s many signs and symptoms, and a patient can’t do that on their own very often. It takes the sophistication of testing and identifying biomarkers, and with those laboratory findings, we can do a much better job of diagnosing now.
Q: So testing for these organisms is key?
Dr. Lieberman: Well, actually the most helpful testing involves looking for causes in many areas, not just hidden infection.
One other common element that needs to be thought about is the combination of allergy and hidden infection.
I’ll give you an analogy, and maybe then you can appreciate it. There was a woman who was my patient who pointed her finger at me and said, “If I touch a drop of wheat, within two hours I have a rip-roaring yeast infection. Explain that, Doctor!” The lesson that’s learned from this, of course, is that there are triggers for each individual that increase susceptibility to infection. So when necessary we also test for food, inhalant, pollen, or chemical allergies in our patients. With our allergy desensitization extracts, and also avoidance of the most severe triggers in some cases, it’s not only easier to treat hidden infections but a lasting resolution is possible. Then too, we try to build patients up through nutritional supplementation or whatever else is needed in their particular case to make the patient stronger to resist infections.
We come back to our philosophy here at the Center that you don’t just get sick, you’re made sick, and we do our best to identify what is making you sick and help you to get well again.