Neil Nathan, MD, is an open-minded physician who looks beyond “conventional” medical thinking to understand complex & unexplained illnesses. He is best known to ProHealth readers for his recent trial of A Simplified Methylation Protocol for Treatment of ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia. But he casts a much broader net in his new book, On Hope and Healing for Those Who Have Fallen Through the Medical Cracks.*
In this “postscript” to the book, Dr. Nathan highlights recent discoveries and therapeutic ideas for more than a dozen health problems – thanks to dedicated researchers like himself.
I would like to leave you with some cutting-edge vignettes that reflect my realistic hope that additional healing is just around the corner.
My colleagues from around the globe are hard at work, delving into the problems of chronic illness, and some very exciting new research has emerged that gives us glimpses into where our next breakthroughs may come from.
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Paul Cheney, MD, PhD, from Asheville, North Carolina, has been a pioneer in the field of chronic fatigue since his initial involvement with the Incline Village, Nevada, epidemic which occurred in the late 1980s.
With Paul’s long-standing interest and expertise in this area, his practice, like ours [Gordon Medical Associates, near Mendocino, California], has gravitated toward seeing the sickest patients. In fact, Paul’s patients tend to be so compromised that he has identified an even deeper level of dysfunction in some of them, a level below the one we characteristically evaluate.
Paul has noticed that as chronic fatigue worsens, the body chemistry becomes so dysfunctional that patients’ systems cannot tolerate oxygen as others can. Dr. Cheney calls them oxygen toxic. Using carefully performed Echocardiography studies he has demonstrated this difficulty with many of his patients.
As his investigations have continued, he has come to believe that the delicate enzyme systems in the liver, called the P-450 electron chain, cannot function properly, and that the fatigue experienced by these unfortunate individuals actually represents an adaptive response on their part to try to prevent their bodies from getting an excessive amount of oxygen, which could further harm them.
The good news is that Paul has recently discovered what he calls “cell-signaling factors,” which, when applied transdermally (to the skin) on a regular basis allows these patients to improve dramatically. We have just begun utilizing these materials with several of our patients and we eagerly await the opportunity to evaluate the results of this new treatment.
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Ritchie Shoemaker, MD, from Pokemoke, Maryland, has recently had the opportunity to test the newly available nasal spray Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide (VIP) on his severely compromised mold patients.
VIP is an important chemical produced by specific brain areas, and mold-toxic patients lose the ability to manufacture it in adequate amounts. In a pilot study of 60 such patients, 59 have demonstrated significant clinical improvement. We are scheduled to embark on a more elaborate pilot study with Dr. Shoemaker to further study the potential benefits of VIP in our sickest patients.
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Speaking of VIP, Mario Delgado, PhD, from Granada, Spain, and Doina Ganea, PhD, at Temple University in Philadelphia, a long-term colleague of Dr. Delgado’s, have recently completed a study of the benefits of VIP for patients with sarcoidosis.(2) They are already involved in clinical trials for evaluating its use in other autoimmune diseases, as well.
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While the re-discovery of the importance of vitamin D is ongoing, and many physicians are now testing vitamin D levels and treating them aggressively, Eugene Shippen, MD, from Wyomissing, Pennsylvania, has recently reviewed the available research data that suggests that vitamin D is a key player in healing a compromised immune system.
For many years, we have prescribed only 400 IU daily of that vitamin for most of our patients, without taking into consideration our concurrent recommendations for sunscreen use for preventing skin cancers. As most of the vitamin D we need is made by our skin in response to its interaction with sunlight, and sunscreens block 97% of vitamin D formation in our bodies, we are now seeing a virtual epidemic of vitamin D deficiency.
While we have long recognized the importance of vitamin D’s role in allowing us to adequately absorb calcium into our bodies and build strong bones, we were unaware, until recently, of how important that vitamin is in regulating the function of our immune system.
We have also realized that the dosage of vitamin D previously recommended was quite inadequate, and we are now using 4000-5000 IU daily, with even more for those with measured low levels of that vitamin.
Dr. Shippen has emphasized that improving 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (the preferred form of measurement) blood levels to between 50 and 80 ng/mL is optimal, especially for those with autoimmune diseases.
He has recently published a ground-breaking protocol for the treatment of endometriosis which has added a whole new dimension to our approach.
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Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, now living in Hawaii, has recently completed a study of the use of D-ribose in the treatment of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, demonstrating benefits in up to 70% of his patients. Using a dose of 5 gm (one scoop) of D-ribose dissolved in water three times a day appears optimal.
At Jacob’s urging, I have used this in my practice for the past year and confirm the benefits he has described.
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Allesio Fasano, MD, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has just completed his research into the chemistry of the ‘tight junctions” between intestinal cells,(1) which we have discussed as so important in limiting bowel damage [see chapter on "Intestinal Dysbiosis"] and the onset of food allergy.
He has identified a natural molecule called zonulin, which controls the permeability through those tight junctions. Additionally, Dr. Fasano has worked with the development of a medication called Larotozide acetate, which is currently being used in clinical trials. These trials give us great hope that new treatments will soon be available.
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Liv Bode, PhD, and Hanns Ludwig, DVM, PhD, Professors at the Free University of Berlin, have been able to identify a unique RNA virus that appears to be present in a high percentage of patients with chronic fatigue and depression. The virus, called Bornavirus, is transmitted to humans primarily through contact with horses, although other animals, such as cats, can transmit it as well.
In horses, this virus induces apathy, somnolence, movement disorders, and loss of appetite. In humans, it is associated with chronic fatigue, depression, obsessive compulsive disorders, hyperactivity, and Alzheimer’s disease.
They have developed blood tests to allow us to make the diagnoses, and those tests should be available for our use, shortly.
Even more exciting, they have done several studies showing that an anti-viral medication, Amantidine, given in doses of 100-200 mg, twice daily, can be curative if given for long periods of time.
I have utilized this treatment in several of my more severely depressed patients who had not responded to conventional medications and who had known exposure to horses. I noted significant improvement in four of the first five patients I treated.
Liv and Hanns’s work underscores our increasing awareness that many so-called psychological conditions may actually be caused by micro-organisms, and it also provides realistic hope for new treatments as our knowledge evolves.
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Still on the subject of infectious agents, Kenny DeMeirleir, MD, PhD, at the University of Brussels in Belgium, has recently completed a study that underscores an awareness that several species of the Strep bacteria, commonly found in the intestinal tract and long assumed to be benign, may not be.
He has provided the antibiotic Cipro, in doses of 500 mg twice daily for one week, monthly for three months, for patients who have these bacteria noted on stool testing. He reports marked improvement in 38 of 58 patients with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
I anticipate working with Dr. DeMeirleir to expand this study in the near future.
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Additional exciting research on the role of infectious agents as possible contributors to the cause of chronic fatigue comes from Lawrence Klapow, PhD, from Santa Rosa, California, who has spent the last 15 years identifying and clarifying our knowledge of an unusual roundworm parasite called Cryptostrongylides pulmoni.
Patients infected with this roundworm typically have a low grade eosinophilia (a cell normally evaluated on a common CBC, or complete blood count) and a rash, in addition to their fatigue. Dr. Klapow has recently discovered that 14 of 30 patients with chronic fatigue were infested with this parasite, which can be diagnosed by the careful evaluation of naturally expressed sputum from the lung (where the parasite resides).
Early studies indicate that treatment of this parasite with several medications, including inhaled Ivermectin and Thiobendazole, may be effective over many months, giving us great hope that new diagnostic approaches and treatments will be helpful.
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Judy Mikovits, PhD, at the Whittemore Peterson Institute and her colleagues published an article in the October 8, 2009 issue of Science titled, "Detection of an Infectious Retrovirus, XMRV, in Blood Cells of Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” Utilizing elegant scientific techniques, this paper is the first to strongly demonstrate the presence of a newly identified virus as a significant contributor to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Research related to this work will greatly expand our ability to understand, and to diagnose and treat this condition.
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In the field of pain management, whole books have been devoted to the uses of a variety of electrical devices for treatment. The TENS machine has been in use since its development by Dr. Norman Shealy in the late 1970s. It typically operates at frequencies between 2 and 200 Hz. Saul Liss, PhD, subsequently developed the CES (Cranial Electrical Stimulator) for use at frequencies at 15,000 Hz, which expanded the uses of TENS into applications on the head region, leading to progress in the treatment of depression, fatigue, and headaches.
Newer and exciting developments in the field of electrical stimulation involve the use of frequency-specific microcurrent devices, which operate in the range of 10-500 microamperes (a millionth of an ampere). Using carefully prescribed frequencies can address the healing of scar tissue and the immune system as well as a wide variety of pain syndromes.
This technique utilizes the newly delineated concept that cells communicate with each other electrically, and that by finding and stimulating these frequencies, we may literally be able to “reset” the nervous system and thereby treat a variety of conditions that were previously resistant to a variety of medical approaches.
Along similar lines, the Scenar device, developed in Russia and promoted by Australian researchers, uses tiny amounts of electricity over painful areas of the body, and measures how the body receives that energy in a feedback mechanism that allows the machine to alter the pattern of energy that is delivered – which again allows us to “reset” the nervous system.
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Lee Cowden, MD, from Chandler, Arizona, and currently President of the Academy of Bio-Energetic and Integrative Medicine, has recently combined some of this technology. Utilizing the newer-generation electrodermal screening tests, he creates a unique energetic “finger-print” which can be placed in the form of a solution for each patient, and passes a LED light through that solution onto the patient, to assist that individual in both detoxification and healing.
We have observed some astonishing successes using this technique with some of our most challenging patients.
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These vignettes are only a tiny part of the research that is ongoing, and I present them to you to whet your appetite for learning more as these fields of knowledge unfold. All of them, I trust, reflect my main message: There is HOPE.
- Dr. Neil Nathan
1. Fasano, Alessio. “Biological perspectives: Physiological, Pathological, and Therapeutic Implications of Zonulin-Mediated Intestinal Barrier Modulation.” The American Journal of Pathology. 173.5 (2008): 1-9
2. Gonzalez-Rey, Elena, and Mario Delgado. “Vasoactive intestinal peptide and regulatory T-cell induction: A new mechanism and therapeutic potential for immune homeostasis.” Trends in Molecular Medicine 13.6 (2007):241-251.
* This material is excerpted with kind permission from Dr. Nathan's five star-rated book, On Hope and Healing for Those Who Have Fallen Through the Medical Cracks ©2010 Neil Nathan, MD, all rights reserved. It may be purchased on Amazon; and autographed copies through Gordon Medical at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note: This article has not been evaluated by the FDA. It is general information and is not meant to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure any illness, condition or disease. It is very important that you make no change in your healthcare plan or health support regimen without researching and discussing it in collaboration with your professional healthcare team.