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Dr. Paul Cheney on "Chronic Neurotoxin" Protocol for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Questran/Cholestryamine

  [ 53 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ]
By Carol Sieverling • • February 6, 2002

Author's Note: The following is based on notes taken during a recent conversation with Dr. Cheney. He has not edited or reviewed this information.

Reprinted with permission of Carol Sieverling

Bottom line: Cheney is going to incorporate the test and a modified version of the treatment described below into his practice.

The book "Desperation Medicine", and the website where it can be ordered (, contain intriguing information about a test and a treatment to detect and remove neurotoxins being generated within our bodies. The toxins end up in the brain (thus "neurotoxins) and other organs of the body.

The test, used by the toxicology division of the Environmental Protection Agency, is simple, inexpensive, quick, and non-intrusive - you just look at a card with a series of lines of varying shades of gray and indicate whether they are vertical, left-leaning, or right-leaning. It's the visual equivalent of a hearing test, detecting what frequencies you can and cannot perceive. It's called a VCS test: visual contrast sensitivity test. Sometimes it's also called FACT: functional acuity contrast test.

Cheney talked at length to the company that makes it, Stereo Optical Co. (1-800-344-9500). The test equipment costs $275. Doctors typically charge about $25 for the test.

Cheney explained that trouble perceiving mid-range frequencies indicates the sub-cortical/deep brain injury typical of CFS, problems perceiving low frequencies indicate cortical injuries such as Alzheimer's, and problems perceiving high frequencies indicate injury to the retina or optic nerve. These visual problems are very subtle and not at all apparent apart from the test.

Cheney found it to be a very intriguing test, has ordered it, and will be incorporating it into the tests given at his clinic.

The treatment recommended in the book and website is 4 scoops daily of Questran (cholestyramine) on an empty stomach, an old cholesterol drug. It is not actually absorbed - it never enters the system. It stays in the gut, binding and then eliminating fat-soluble toxins that otherwise are reabsorbed and circulate repeatedly throughout the body. (Lyme patients are given pioglitazone/Actos to minimize the terrible herx - this drug makes CFS patients worse.)

After much investigation and a long conversation with the book's author, Cheney believes that this may be a helpful tool in the treatment of CFIDS.

However, he will implement the protocol somewhat differently. Cheney feels that, like any aggressive detox agent, it could mobilize too many toxins too quickly. He is going to be using much lower doses. "Start low and build slowly," is what he said.

Another change in the protocol occurred when Cheney learned that Questran contains 1 tsp of pure sugar per scoop. Taking a total of 4 teaspoons of sugar a day on an empty stomach per the original protocol could cause or aggravate gut dysbiosis - overgrowth of harmful bacteria and fungi. Most of us know that sugar feeds the candida and other things many of us have!

There is a Questran Light, but it contains aspartame. Not a good option. Cheney talked to Bristol Myers, the manufacturer of Questran, and believes that while not widely used or available, it is possible to get raw Questran without sugar or aspartame. Having patients add stevia to it to sweeten it safely was mentioned.

Another side effect that must be addressed in some patients is that it can cause constipation. But Cheney said that could be safely addressed.

Important Note from Carol Sieverling:

"Lyme patients are given pioglitazone/Actos to minimize the terrible herx - this drug makes CFS patients worse."

Just to clarify, when I made the above statement in a previous post, it refers to the fact that Shoemaker only gives pioglitazone/Actos to his Lyme patients - never to CFS patients.

Shoemaker told Cheney that he (Shoemaker) learned quickly that pretreating with pioglitazone/Actos did not help his CFS patients and usually made them sicker.

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