Toxic, a book by Dr. Nathan MD, provides a new understanding of how chronic illnesses like ME/CFS, fibromyalgia, mold toxicity, MCS, cancer and chronic infections develop in the modern world. In this model, disease can no longer seen as a direct cause and effect of a single pathogen, but instead is a result of multiple ongoing biochemical and environmental insults over the course of a lifetime. The common thread linking them all together is systemic inflammation.
Toxins are a vast and varied group of poisons. When they are produced by microbes in the body, they are called biotoxins. Toxins produced by mold are called mycotoxins. Heavy metals or other synthetic toxins, not made by living systems, are also just called toxins.
For the vast majority of patients seen by Dr. Neil Nathan, the most common environmental toxin is mold. Lyme disease (Borrelia) and its associated co-infections (Bartonella and Babesia) are the most common infectious causes of illness. Many patients have both together.
But these bodily insults must also now include exposures to chemicals and/or heavy metals, genetically modified foods, radioactivity and electromagnetic radiation as well. The world is a far more toxic place now than it was fifty years ago. These constant exposures to toxins trigger chronic illness when the personal threshold is reached, which is likely determined in part by genetics.
Once toxins have begun to saturate the cell membranes, these toxins, which can include mycotoxins (mold), heavy metals (for example, mercury or lead) and pesticides and herbicides (such as glyphosate), literally poison the body’s systems of excretion and elimination, preventing them from doing their jobs.
Effective treatment must begin by asking the patient, “Toxic to what, exactly?” and then uses targeted testing and medications and supplements to provide a unique therapeutic template for each patient. The most appropriate treatment depends on a precise diagnosis. Toxic details the testing and treatment options that are most current for a wide variety of associated conditions including mold toxicity, Bartonella, mast cell activation, porphyria and carbon monoxide poisoning.
These toxic stimuli can make patients extremely sensitive to the world around them. A hyper-reactive nervous system can make sensory stimuli like light, sound, or touch into a painful experience. But toxicity and sensitivity are two different things and require different approaches to treatment, even though they often happen at the same time.
When the body is overloaded by toxins, the body has many ways it tries to cope. One such way is by activating a specific type of cell called a mast cell. Mast cells create sensitivity by releasing histamine and other chemicals in response to the toxins. The mast cells can be thought of as a bridge between the immune system and the nervous system. But when the mast cells are constantly activated due to the immune processes around toxins and infections, a chain of inflammatory reactions occurs. Calming down the mast cells prior to initiating treatment often helps the sensitive patient tolerate more specific interventions.
Once the body becomes overwhelmed by the accumulated toxins, it is no longer able to properly excrete them through the liver, skin and other organs of detoxification. These detoxification systems must be supported in order to begin the process of eliminating toxins before aggressive treatment begins or risk making the patient much sicker at the start.
I cannot help but view the epidemic increase in chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, mold toxicity, multiple chemical sensitivities, cancer, and chronic infections (of which Lyme disease is an excellent example) as a manifestation of the toxicity of our modern world.
When symptoms remain after identifying and treating the root causes triggering the hibernation state called the Cell Danger Response (CDR), described by Dr. Robert Naviaux, the final step of healing may require “rebooting” of the systems. As a result of the CDR, the initial inflammatory response to the original stimulus may no longer be present. Rebooting involves helping the body remember how to turn off the inflammatory processes that caused the illness in the first place and involves finding a way to help the patient feel safe both physically and psychologically. This is a crucial part of the treatment process and should not be overlooked.
Once the immune system has been engaged in a battle with a microbe or toxic substance, if it does not win that battle quickly, it may get stuck in a persistent inflammatory response that it cannot turn off. We are learning that this response is a key component of most chronic illnesses. The most important treatment strategy for dealing with “stuck” inflammation is to find the infection(s) and/or toxin(s) responsible for this response and treat them thoroughly. This is not a simple task and it can take months or years. Still, it can be done, and that effort must be the centerpiece of treatment; trying to maneuver around it will not work. Even if the cause(s) of inflammation have been addressed correctly, sometimes the immune system still does not know how to reboot itself, and we need to consider the alternative methods…
A new medical approach is therefore required to treat the type of disorders caused by toxins. Treatment must be targeted, multi-pronged and layered to treat all of the various contributors to illness. A single drug-based solution is no longer a feasible solution. As the total toxic burden to the body is reduced, healing can occur exponentially.