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#02 – Micro-dosing Supplements, Water Allergy and Treating Complex Cases of Mold and Lyme Disease with Dr. Neil Nathan

If you have any symptoms at all, listen to them. It’s your body’s way of trying to communicate with you. If you sit on these symptoms, it will just get worse.

Dr. Neil Nathan

Our world is changing rapidly and there is much we can learn from the reactions of the most sensitive among us. What may seem like harmless scents or supplements to most of us, will cause a special class of chronically ill patients to develop severe reactions. Why are people reacting in this way? A growing chorus of physicians believes exposure to mold toxins is at the root of many of the diseases of our time. In this episode, we will hear the stories of “canaries in the coal mine” who became so sensitive, they couldn’t even stand to be around people who washed their clothing in certain detergents without reacting violently. We will also hear how they healed.

 

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Today our guest is Dr. Neil Nathan M.D., a physician specializing in mold toxicity, chronic Lyme and chemical sensitivity in Northern California. Dr. Nathan has been practicing medicine for over 40 years, with his practice now focused on complex cases of chronic illness brought on by Lyme disease and mold toxicity. He attended the Pritzkin School of Medicine at the University of Chicago and is a founding diplomat of the American Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine. He has written several books including Mold and Mycotoxins: Current Evaluation and Treatment as well as his most recent book Toxic.

The interview is rather short at about 42:00, but we get into some interesting topics. To begin, Dr. Nathan touches on his concern over the rise of toxins, both chemical and visual, in our environment. Think it’s safe to say Dr. Nathan is not a fan of Game of Thrones (and neither am I after that disastrous last season).

We then move into a fascinating discussion describing some of Dr. Nathan’s most sensitive patients and the protocols he uses to treat chronic mold and Lyme disease. Dr. Nathan tells us the story of Karen who became so sensitive to scents after contracting Lyme disease that she would faint when exposed to members of Dr. Nathan’s staff who had washed their clothing in Tide detergent. Dr. Nathan also describes mast cell activation that is so acute that it results in water allergy.

Many of Dr. Nathan’s protocols rely on very small doses of supplements that bind to mold toxins and help clear them from the system, such as Bentonite Clay, S. Boulardii, NAC, and Activated Charcoal. It is important to have a mycotoxin panel done from a lab like Great Plains Lab before embarking on any supplement regimen as the type of mold toxin that is elevated determines the type of supplement to use. Here is a link to the more basic Visual Acuity Test Dr. Nathan mentions in the interview.

I asked Dr. Nathan his opinion of the role that mold in the outdoor air plays in mold illness, as well as what he thinks about mold avoidance and lifestyle groups such as the Locations Effect Groups who avoid both indoor as well as outdoor air. He frames the issue in terms of allergy, which makes sense to me in light of the fact that the nutrition plan customers we see being most sensitive to location are those with AOC1 SNPs, and presumably a reduced ability to clear histamine from the system.

Dr. Nathan gets into two small scale studies he has been involved with, both of which are relevant to many of the conversations taking place right now in the nutrition world. The first looked whether mycotoxins in food increase mycotoxins in urine. We get into the mold genes briefly, but it’s not a focal point of the discussion.

The second showed glutathione levels can be increased, and methylation improved, using very small doses of B vitamins. However, Dr. Nathan takes the position that Hydroxocobalamin is the best source of B12 and not the methylcobalamin so many of us take.

This Episode Covers:

  • The importance of following intuition when it comes to scents and reactions to chemicals [4:30];
  • Karen’s story: a story of chronic illness, Lyme and chemical sensitivity [5:50];
  • Identifying symptoms of multiple chemical sensitivity [10:20];
  • Are mycotoxins in food dangerous? Dr. Nathan discusses a mycotoxin experiment he ran with Great Plains Lab [13:50];
  • The role of ambient mold, mold avoidance and air quality in chronic illness [19:45];
  • Glyphosate in food [26:00];
  • The wisdom of micro-dosing supplements. choosing a B vitamin, and methylation [28:00];
  • Mast cell activation and the “trigger finger” immune system reaction [36:30];
  • The changing landscape of food sensitivity and water allergy [39:20]

John O'Connor

John O'Connor is the founder of Gene Food. He is passionate about nutrition, genetics, and wellness and uses this blog to publish self experiments as well as some of the research that the Gene Food team does internally to highlight stories of bio-individuality.

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  1. Keith Berndtson says:

    Lisa Petrison was the first to bring Dr. Shoemaker’s work to my attention when she loaned me her copy of Mold Warriors in 2007. I was later certified by Ritchie but I had some differences with his approach. I’m a co-founder of ISEAI, a medical society whose mission is to support education, research, and patient care for those who treat patients with environmentally acquired illness. Dr. Nathan was a Board Director for ISEAI but he resigned a couple weeks ago to pursue other projects. I respect Dr. Nathan. I, too, have seen patients with mold related illness improve using limbic system retraining when they are no longer exposed to toxigenic indoor molds. But it cannot work when patients are still exposed. My main concern has to do with research on mice and primates showing that Satratoxin G toxins, produced by Stachybotrys chartarum, not only damage the epithelial cells that line the mucous membranes in the nasal and sinus spaces, they can also damage and kill olfactory sensory neurons:
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=16835065 (mice)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=22552393 (primates)
    This can account for severe multiple chemical sensitivities. Ongoing exposure to inhaled mycotoxins, toxic VOCs,, toxic bioaerosols, fragrances, etc., in the face of such cell and tissue damage can explains why some people choose extreme mold avoidance. What’s more, when mycotoxins and other irritants come into contact with hypersensitized olfactory sensory neurons, immediate danger signals are sent to brain nuclei that interfere with short term memory and activate fear and anxiety. To an uneducated observer, the “Get away now!!” response suggests mental illness. If they only knew. Such patients deteriorate quickly if they don’t take aggressive steps to escape ongoing exposure. In fact, it is their highest priority and it would spare rivers of grief if the cause was better understood by friends, family, employers, schools, and the public at large. Limbic retraining gets nowhere with continued exposure. In the context of hypersensitized or dying olfactory sensory neurons, sampling exposures to indoor molds to see how you react is like advising the patient to snort Oxi-Clean.
    Keith Berndtson, MD

  2. Betsy Anderson says:

    This contains a seemingly disingenuous assault on a mold avoiding group that has helped thousands. I have followed that group for years and benefited from personal instruction from a founder. Mr Nathan’s discussion shows failure to understand what avoidance is about. He digresses into talk of “allergies” — which have nothing to do with avoidance — and mold in outside air, also far from the primary or only point. It is now well accepted that the first step in healing from mold is to get away from it. Mr Nathan recognizes that people react to varying degrees. The extent to which people have to get away also varies. Mr Nathan also stresses that our environment is growing ever more toxic, and that it is important that people pay attention to how their body reacts to toxic substances. He explains how some may have multiple chemical sensitivities. At the core of mold avoidance, is helping people learn how to recognize toxic substances, and to observe how their body reacts to different substances. That is, exactly what Mr Nathan says should be done — to learn to discern what affects a particular individual and what they may need to avoid. The approach also encourages detox to help heal. For some reason however Mr Nathan engages in a practice he himself identifies as common and unfair to the moldsick, implying the main problem is in people’s heads and dismissing an entire category of mold avoiders and its founders as “paranoid” and “overwhelmed by fear .”

    • Betsy, while I disagree that Dr. Nathan’s comments amounted to an assault, you make some good points. Thank you for the comments. I am going to try to get on a mold avoidance author or doctor for the alternative viewpoint.

      • Concerned citizen says:

        An alternative viewpoint sounds like a great idea. I would recommend you bring on Lisa Petrison or Erik Johnson. The medical community has been very slow to learn the intricacies of mold avoidance simply because that process does not make them money. Another option might be Mary Ackerly. But truly very few doctors have tried mold avoidance and so very few are able to speak to it in any detailed way.

  3. Lisa Petrison says:

    Hi Dr. O’Connor,

    Some folks told me that I had been mentioned here in the comments and that you had said you were waiting for a response from me.

    I summarized my perspective on the so-called “brain retraining” programs in this article a few weeks ago (Point #18), and so if people are interested in what I have to say on this topic, they can start by reading that.

    https://paradigmchange.me/wp/supercharge/

    But if people think that the Nathan/Hopper approach would be better for them than some other approach, then that is what they should pursue.

    I am not making any money at all off of anything that I am doing with regard to chronic illness issues, and so my only dog in this race is that I would like for the illness to be better understood and people to be able to regain as happy and meaningful of lives as they can.

    If the Nathan/Hopper approach can give that to them, as Dr. Nathan seems to be promising here that it will, then that would be great. I wish them all the best of luck with that.

    I hope that this answers your question.

    Best regards,

    Lisa Petrison, Ph.D.
    Executive Director
    Paradigm Change/Mold Avoiders

  4. Jennifer JP says:

    I agree with Tami. The comments concerning mold avoidance are highly offensive and false, as mold avoidance is the ONLY “treatment” that has helped my entire family. Unless we are all just paranoid…

  5. Tami zigabarra says:

    I am offended at the comment of Dr. Neil Nathan at the suggestion that the Mold avoiders are in a state of “paranoia” – i assure you the money and time spent on these “mold doctors” has done nothing for my daughters health the way mold avoidance has- and i also assure you we do not live in paranoia and in fact seek out moldy environments to learn how to sense it so that my daughter learns how to decontaminate. This comment is completely ignorant and has me losing respect for Dr neil nathan as he clearly has not lived the mold world as some of us have!

    • Hey Tami,

      I knew that would be a controversial point. Please don’t be offended, Dr. Nathan was simply stating his opinion, and it’s an opinion based on over 40 years of clinical experience. Having said that, I have invited on the Executive Director of Paradigm Change for the perspective of the Locations Effect groups. I have yet to receive a reply.

      • Concerned citizen says:

        Correction: Dr. Nathan’s opinion about mold is *not* based on over 40 years of clinical experience healing patients affected by mold. Sadly, he just jumped on the mold bandwagon in the last few years and almost half of what he says and writes about the topic shows an embarrassing lack of understanding of the topic that he now claims to be an expert on.

        Frankly, as a patient with biotoxin/mold illness and a doctorate myself, it is clear to me that Dr. Nathan he has no idea what he’s talking about. Some of what he says it true, but the remaining 40% of the advice he offers is extremely harmful to the progress made toward finding healing paths for patients with biotoxin illness in the past 22 years, and would be disastrous for patients or their doctors to attempt to follow. How is a newly sick patient or their doctor supposed to sort through the garbage to find the bits of truth in his book or this interview? I recommend that they don’t bother, and instead turn to an actual expert on mold illness, which you can find a link to below.

        Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker (https://www.survivingmold.com/about/ritchie-shoemaker-m-d) was the first doctor to pay attention to mold and biotoxin illness starting in 1997, which was only 22 years ago, when Dr. Nathan was still nowhere to be found. Dr. Shoemaker was completely on his own for years, but has emerged as essentially the founder and discoverer of mold illness, and he has generously trained and certified many other doctors.

        Sadly, now that mold illness is a major topic of discussion a bunch of opportunist doctors are now coming out of the wood work claiming to be experts without even having taken that basic course. Dr. Nathan is one of them – he has worked with mold illness patients for about the past decade and some have cited him as helping them, however he has never completed Dr. Shoemaker’s training course (which many other doctors have done as a first step to learn the basic principles of biotoxin illness).

        What really leaves a bad taste in my mouth is that Dr. Nathan is well-known among the patient community for turning away some of the most ill patients from his practice (two people I know personally went to him at their most desperate and were turned away for being “too complicated), and yet his website claims, “I am now primarily seeing referrals from physicians who have studied this new field of functional medicine, and who have tried many of the interventions discussed in these books. They are helping most of those patients, but the ones who are not responding, the outliers, are being referred to us in ever-increasing numbers.” (http://www.neilnathanmd.com/about-me/)

        His recent book and interviews with him are filled with equally perplexing contradictions, which makes him an unreliable and unqualified source of information about treating the most sensitive patients. I do not recommend that anyone treat Dr. Nathan as an expert. I do not recommend to the patients or doctors I know that they use Dr. Nathan as a source of information or treatment. As far as I can tell he is a snake oil salesman whose patients occasionally improve by chance.

        If you’re looking for guidance on mold illness, I honestly feel that the best resource out there is not from a doctor but a fellow traveler, Lisa Petrison, who took time to reply to a comment above. She is personally responsible, along with other pioneers like Erik Johnson, for tens of thousands of patients (and often their families as well) finding significant improvement in their lives. She does this not to make money like many of these doctors suddenly claiming to be mold experts seem to be doing, but because she believes in a world in which people are not having to fall victim to the preventable but shockingly pervasive illness she has personally managed to crawl back from.

        If you think you or your patients may be sick from mold, the best place to start is the website she has created that has helped so many before you: https://paradigmchange.me/beginners/. Her website also features many practitioners who work with patients with mold illness, available to see here: https://paradigmchange.me/practitioners/.

        The bottom line is that anyone who preys on the most sick will always receive backlash like this comment. Those of us who have been injured by toxic mold want nothing more than accurate information so that we can get well and try to shift society to prevent more people falling ill.

      • Tami zigabarra says:

        I would suggest speaking to the original prototype for cfs/me that has relentlessly tried to get researchers to pay attention to the cause of such illnesses Erik Johnson . He is the very person that created and taught so many how to get well and is currently providing tours to teach others how to do this successfully – my daughter is getting well because of him. If you would like to interview with him you may do so by contacting me at my email. Thank you for being open to provide the other side of this very hot topic!

  6. Steve Simpson says:

    I do nutrigenomic testing and look at the Snp’s of the MTRR664A and MTRR66G, as well as TCN1 and TCN2, and finally GIF. I would like to learn why you feel hydroxo is a better form. I have not learned about that.

    • Steve,

      This is not necessarily our position at Gene Food, it is the opinion of Dr. Nathan. I will follow up and see if he has some additional info on this as we are getting a bunch of comments / questions on this issue. Thanks for the comments.

    • Markus says:

      I think it varies from person to person depending on a combination of genetic variants in the methylation cycle, in addition to other contributing factors and/or potential environmental insults.

  7. Steve Simpson says:

    Why does the methylation pathway convert the other forms of cobalamine into methyl before use if hydroxycobalamine is preferred?

  8. Markus says:

    Thank you for another great episode! Short and to the point.

    I’m currently dealing with mold toxicity and can totally relate to the chemical sensitivity issues. In addition, I have also experienced reactions to different supplements (especially methylated B-vitamins), which has made me more conscious about what I use nowadays.

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