Lectin Lesson 4: What Elephants Having Heart Attacks Teaches Us About Cancer

References: Steven Gundry’s The Plant Paradox, CirculationScience Direct,Front Oncol., Glycobiology,

Ok, caught your attention? Elephants having heart attacks? Yes, it’s true. Now, when elephants live in their natural habitat that has sufficient tree and brush forage, they never get a heart attack. In the last couple of hundred years they have lost habitat and been driven to eating grasses. Elephants don’t eat grass when they have natural leaf habitat – they eat leaves. When they eat grass they develop coronary disease, just like us. Why does that happen?
We share an odd and uncommon sugar with elephants. It is called Neu5ac. I’ll call it N-A. It’s a member of the sialic acid family of sugars. We share it with shellfish, chickens and elephants. When we diverged from chimps 8 million years ago, we started making Neu5ac (N-A). Chimps make Neu5gc (N-G). As do every other mammal including the ones we eat like cows, goats, sheep, pigs. This sugar, N-A) is like a signal in our gut cells and our arteries. And grain based lectins bind avidly to it. WGA, the lectin in the wheat germ, binds avidly to it. Avidly. But grain lectins don’t bind to N-G.
Here’s where the link happens. When we eat red meat containing Neu5gc – N-G, your immune system recognizes it as foreign and makes antibodies to it. Those antibodies then turn around and attack your own Neu5ac (N-A) receptors. You get antibodies on your blood vessel walls. You call in white cells. Coronary artery disease is off and running. When elephants eat grasses, they get the same cross reactivity. Something about having grass (wheat) based lectins that attach to Neu5ac and eating the Neu5gc form of the sugars makes for that autoimmune attack.
Now, swing over to cancer. Human cancers have a lot of the Neu5gc protein in them. They put it on their surface as a means of hiding from our immune system. Wait a minute! We don’t make it. Human cells cannot make Neu5gc. Right, we don’t. Then how does the cancer get it? From our eating it in red meat. That may be the link between our eating excessive red meat, and having more cancer. The more red meat you eat, the more N-G you get to supply cancer cells with camouflage. Did you notice that chicken and shell fish don’t have N-G. They have N-A, just like humans and elephants. When you eat chicken and shell fish, you have less risk of heart disease and cancer.

The mechanism that is driving both of these phenomenon is the presence of these sialic acid sugars called Neu5ac versus Neu5gc. Their subtle name difference is the whole universe of immune recognition. That simple little alteration is all it takes for your immune system to go the wrong direction and start a process that leads to the slippery slope of coronary artery disease, or cancer.

WWW. What will work for me. This is a smoking gun. It tells us the clear mechanism by which this elegant, delicate signaling system shifts our immune reaction against either ourselves or against our own immune vessels. Or cancer. It’s simple. We get B12 from red meat. We have to have it. A tiny bit. I mean tiny bit. Seems like we need to start thinking about how we can change the balance of calories. If ketogenic eating is important for our brains, then it has to be with healthy fats, not meat. And it all comes down to those magnificent gentle animals, elephants.

Pop Quiz


  1. Elephants were designed to eat grasses? T or F                                               Answer: False Leaves
  2. When elephants eat grasses they develop what illness in common with humans?           Answer: Coronary artery disease
  3. The key link in the immune response is a lectin binding sugar called?                             Answer: Neu5ac – a member of the sialic acid family of sugars
  4. The principal damaging lectin in wheat, WGA binds to which of the two sialic acids – Neu5gc or Neu5ac?                                                                                                                                Answer: N-A not N-G
  5. Human cancer cells get their camouflage from?                                        Answer:     Red meat Neu5ga.



Lectin Lesson #3: How Lectins Make you Fat

Reference: Gundry’s The Plant ParadoxAm Jr Physiology,

Did you know that humans lost height and brain case size in the 1000 year transition from hunter gatherer to wheat grower. Gundry quotes this in his book as what has been discovered at archeological sites from those time periods. Civilization had its costs? All so that we could have kings and cities and armies and compete with your neighbors more effectively. Hmm. And we started domesticating pigs and cows, sheep and goats….so we didn’t have to go hunting. Here is Grundry’s conjecture. Wheat and lentils are amazing grains. When you eat them, you gain weight faster and more efficiently to that you can make it through winter more efficiently. Civilization liked wheat, because by putting calories on into storage, those who ate it lasted longer.
Now, extend that to today and see if it’s any different. What do we feed cows before we slaughter them for market – corn and beans? Wild pigs are lean animals. Domesticated pigs have lots of fat (we call if bacon) when fed corn and beans. Those foods make animals fat too. So Gundry’s hypothesis is that humans didn’t choose wheat and lentils to grow because they could be stored, but because you put weight on the most effectively with them. That’s his Plant Paradox. The very plants (wheat and beans) that allowed our ancestors to develop civilization and store calories for the winter were the same plants that hastened our demise from metabolic diseases. Now, that was hidden for the last 9,000 years because we died of measles and tuberculosis and cholera by age 30 anyways, and didn’t see the degenerative effect of inflammation caused by these grains. Grains became the means to civilization not because they could be stored, but because they were the most efficient means to put on weight and make it through winter. They promote more calories into fat deposit than any other food. And then, isn’t it curious that milk from black cows, so called A-1 milk, has lectin qualities to it too in its BMC-7 fragment, and promotes weight gain.
Ok, I get the historical conjecture but is there a coherent biological explanation for how this works? Yes, indeed. It goes as follows. Two key processes are going on.

First, the disruptive effect of the lectin in wheat called WGA. Wheat germ agglutinin. It looks a lot like insulin. Acts like insulin. That’s what lectins are, proteins that mimic mammalian proteins and cause damage by disruption. WGA mimics insulin, badly. Insulin attaches to a cell for a tiny amount of time, then lets go. WGA doesn’t let go. On a fat cell, the message is to take up glucose, forever and ever. That fat cell gets fatter. On a muscle cell, however, the message is to block insulin effect so muscle are starved. Again, WGA doesn’t let go so the real hormone that should be on the receptor can’t dock on its receptor and tell the muscle cell to take up glucose and run with it. Same effect on nerve cells: WGA clamps on and doesn’t let go. Nerve cells are starving. But they send out the message to the organism: “Eat more.”
Even more disturbing isrecent evidence has emerged that lectins can climb up the vagus nerve from the gut to the brain, damaging the substantia nigra, the seat of Parkinson’s disease. Indeed, cut the vagus nerve and the risk of PD drops 40%.
The final argument to support Gundry’s hypothesis might be called the Common Soil Hypothesis – that the mechanisms of metabolism and inflammation are curiously linked. You got fat because your body is at war with itself. And it goes as follows. The lectins set off your “Tiny Little Radars”, your Toll Like Proteins, that reside in your blood vessels and fat cells. They set off cytokines (your body’s fire alarms) calling for white cells to respond to clean up the invading bacteria. Except there are no bacteria. It’s just lectins. But the white cells show up. And your body shifts into war mode. Energy goes to the troops, the white cells. The stay-at-home folks, (Gundry calls them civilians but you think of them as muscle and brain cells) go on war rations and get less. Hence, you become insulin and leptin resistant not because you are overweight, but because your body is inflamed from all the fake lectin signals setting off fire alarms about invading bacteria. Your body is at war, thinking you have been invaded by bacteria, and you are all pumped up and ready to defend. Except that there is nothing to defect. The home folks starve. Fat cells get bigger.

Get it? Stop the war, send the troops home. Weight loss follows automatically. Stop eating lectins. That includes A-1 milk and cheese, nightshade plants, wheat and beans and most of all, genetically modified foods with their genetically inserted extra lectins.

www.What will work for me. This is a paradigm shift type of thinking, but it makes perfect sense. I get it. I just have to figure out how to implement it. And wheat is lurking behind every food in America. And every meat product was raised on lectin foods: corn and soybeans so the lectins in those foods are still there for me to absorb. I have to live with this a while. But I can shift a little. Less beans, less wheat. One step at a time.

Pop Quiz

  1. You are leptin resistant and fat because you eat like a pig? T or F                      Answer: That’s backwards, unless you take eating like a pig to mean you are eating corn and beans, lectin foods. The proper answer is that leptin resistance and fatness comes from the natural shifts your body makes to counter the fake messages caused by eating lectin containing foods. You eat secondarily because your brain cells and muscles are starving, ironically.
  2. Lectins set off inflammation because they activate TLRs? What are TLRs?
    Answer: Toll Like Receptors or “Tiny Little Radars” in Gundry’s clever nomenclature – your natural bar code readers watching what’s in your blood to sort our friend from foe.
  3. You can make great bacon with wild boar? T or F                                                  Answer: Patently false. To make bacon on pigs, you have to feed them corn and beans.
  4. To make bacon on you, the best foods to do that with are?                             Answer: Same as with pigs. Corn, wheat and beans
  5. Ipso facto, to lose weight you need to ?                                                                Answer: create the environment whereby you “stop the war”, turn off inflammation, rid yourself of lectins, eat what nature intended you to eat.



Lectin Lesson 2: How Lectins Cause Damage with Inflammation

References: American Heart Sci Meetings,Jr, ImmunologyResearchgateWikipediaAthersclerosis,

Just what is going on with lectins? What’s the big deal? Do they really cause trouble?

To understand those questions, you have to understand the complement system in your body. This is not about saying a nice thing to you about your hair, or your necklace, this is about your basic lizard brain immune system, your innate immune system. Your innate immune system is the first to respond to threats with non-specific responses. If you think of a series of dominoes, each of which knocks over two more, the innate immune system is the means by which your body kicks back immediately against external threats and makes immediate reactions that happens quickly in response to “invasion”. A cascade of chemicals create tags to place on the invader to tell a white cell to eat that particular invader, (Opsonization is the fancy term) or punches a hole in the wall of the invader with donut shaped proteins so the invader leaks its guts out. You can imagine, this has to be carefully controlled as if it balloons out of control, you get the shaft and your own cells get damaged. The adaptive system, layer two of your immune response, takes longer to gear up and make specific antibodies shaped precisely to attack the invader, or specific white cells armed with bar code readers to find and destroy the invader. Doing all that takes time. In the short term, the complement system is it.
There are several pathways into the complement system. The classical pathway, the alternative pathway and the LECTIN PATHWAY. Did you get that? The lectin pathway is one of the ways you set off your innate immune system. To understand this pathway you have to be able to read the following sentences without pausing: This pathway is initiated by the binding of mannose-binding lectin (MBL), collectin 11 (CL-K1), and ficolins (Ficolin-1, Ficolin-2, and Ficolin-3) to microbial surface oligosaccharides and acetylated residues, respectively. Upon binding to target molecules, MBL, CL-K1, and ficolins form complexes with MBL-associated serine proteases 1 and 2 (MASP-1 and MASP-2), which cleave C4 and C2 forming the C3 convertase (C4b2a). If you drill down into that, it simplifies to the sugar mannose that is part of many plant lectins, and your complement system watching for that sugar signature to fire off a response. Ficolins are protein lectins that come in patterns of five at a time, and also set of the lectin pathway.
Here is the rub. There is now evidence that a low lectin diet will decrease endothelial dysfunction (code word for the first step in coronary artery disease).

What’s the final implied conclusion? This is a new way to look at heart disease. Lectins play a roll is setting off inflammation. That’s a given. Lectins in the human diet have increased dramatically in the last 200 years as our foods from all over the world have become part of a new diet that never had those foods before. And in the 21st century, we have added all sorts of chemicals to our environment that allow our gut to “leak”: NSAIDs like ibuprofen and naproxen, steroids, antibiotics, PPIs. And we have genetically modified many of our foods to create grains resistant to insects by intentionally inserting more lectins into the genome of plants that we then eat. We have tilted the playing field. The slope is in the wrong direction to maintain health.
WWW. What will work for me. I am eager to learn this stuff. I was at a small plate restaurant this weekend and intentionally chose a low lectin dinner: grilled Brussel’s sprouts and calamari. I slept better last night. Hmmm. Don’t know if that’s linked. One meal does not a heart attack prevent, but Gundry has shown that a low lectin diet will reduce damaged blood vessels “endothelial dysfunction” in just a few months. I’ve been off ibuprofen now for two weeks. Never again.

Pop Quiz


  1. The Complement System is the method of English Manners and Polite Behavior. T or F Answer: well, yes, true, but not here. In your immune system, it’s your kick boxer – the first line of defense against invasion. Not polite
  2. Lectins set off the complement system. T or F                               Answer: True. There are 3 pathways to set it off and one of them specifically is started with lectins.
  3. Many lectins have a simple sugar on them that is an ID of trouble. What is it?          Answer:   Mannose
  4. You can reduce endothelial dysfunction with a low lectin diet? (What’s that?  It’s part of what we simplify to call high blood pressure, but is a bigger picture of damaged blood vessel lining.)                                        Answer:  Today’s takeaway
  5. We have had an increase in lectins in our diet in the last 100 years?                            Answer: Not only an increase by new foods, but intentionally added to many foods by genetic engineering, feeding lectins to our animals, and then the coup de grace of adding leaky gut from modern chemicals.


Lectin Lesson 1: What Are Lectins?

References: Int Jr of Plant ChemJr Cereal SciNutrients,

Ever had someone tell you that they are allergic to wheat? You scoff and say they don’t have celiac disease. And they don’t. They are sensitive to LECTINS. And lots of people are. If you feel your tummy upset when you eat bread or wheat, read on. This is for you. Actually, this is for all of us.
What are lectins? Plants make them to deter animals and insects from eating the plant. They are poisons. They are plants main way to protecting themselves. And plants have been very clever in figuring out how to do that over millennia. They have devised may lectins that look very close to the normal proteins inside of animals, but not quite the same. You see, if you make a close copy that messes up the animal by making fake signals, you make it feel sick when it eats you. So it stops eating you.
What did we do with wheat? In the 1950s, Borlag crossed old fashioned wheat with two grasses to make wheat go from the 14 chromosomes of old fashioned natural wheat to the 42 chromosomes of modern wheat. All the lectins in grasses got carried along into the new wheat. Now mind you, lectins are at very tiny levels. They aren’t the main show like carbs, or protein, or fat. They are like hormones, active at extremely low doses. This is how they have gotten by below the redar up till now. This is why you haven’t heard about them.

But lectins work exactly at that level. They act at very tiny doses like trace hormones. In your body you have millions of TLRs, Toll Receptor Proteins that are basically bar code readers. They are lining your blood vessels looking for invading bacteria and viruses and poisons. When their bar code gets matched with an invading protein, they stimulate the making of chemical signals to call in help. Those signals are called cytokines and your body makes a whole mist of the cytokines. There are dozens, if not hundreds of cytokines that all rise in a chorus of response to make an integrated immune reaction to the invader.

That immune response is meant to make an animal avoid that plant. The animal and plant, living in the same ecosystem get used to each other. They learn to tolerate, and accommodate each other. The animal’s gut bacteria develop a tolerance and acceptance of the plants lectin poisons, and start making a healthy immune reaction that is good, when done in tiny doses.

That all happens when animals live in the same ecosystem and eat the same food for millions of years. Humans did that up till about a million years ago. Then we learned to cook. Cooking inactivates a lot of lectins, so humans could add many more foods to their diet. All was well and good, as long as we humans were living in Africa and the Mediterranean, where we had reliable, accommodated foods. But then the thunderbolt happened. We learned to grow wheat and lentils in the Levant. 10,000 years ago, we learned agriculture. This allowed us to make cities and armies and increase our population. We didn’t have to go hunting game and could have farms and armies and kings. But we were eating a new food our guts weren’t really used to. The lectins really weren’t all that good for us. Over the next 1000 years, we lost a foot in height, a decade in longevity, 15% off the size of our brain but eating lectin rich foods instead of wild game. But the bargain with the devil was already done, civilization had begun. What would come next?
Read next week.
WWW.What will work for me. We all need to learn about lectins and their subtle but incredibly perverse effect. This applies to me and you. The scope of lectins is really the story of all our modern diseases. This is the underpinnings of inflammation, the engine that drives our common modern illnesses. Read on. We need to know this.


Pop Quiz

  1. What are lectins?                        Answer: trace substances, usually proteins made by plants that function to deter insects and animals from eating the plant.
  2. Plants and the animals that eat them get used to each other over million of years. T or F Answer: True. So humans come out of Africa and have gut bacteria that are familiar with African plants.
  3. How do lectins do their function?                                   Answer: they have often evolved to look quite similar to proteins inside the animal: close but not quite so they make dysfunctional actions that make the animal sick.
  4. Lectins are detected in animals by their “what” system?                        Answer: TRP or Toll Receptor Proteins lining all blood vessels.
  5. When humans started eating wheat and lentils in the Fertile Crescent 10,000 years ago, what happened.                                                              Answer: Civilization got started in cities and settlements, but humans also got shorter with smaller brains.   Wheat and lentils both contained new lentils previously unknown to humans. 10,000 years is not enough time to evolve new defenses to new lectins.


Eating Red Meat Raises Your Mortality

References: Archives Internal MedicinePNAS,

500,000 people aged 50-71 were followed for about 10 years with extensive questionnaires about food frequency. There were some 48,000 deaths in the men, 23,000 deaths in the women. This is a big study so should have validity. It was observational, not randomized, placebo controlled. They statistically controlled for age, education, marital status, family history of cancer (yes/no) (cancer mortality only), race, body mass index, smoking history, physical activity, energy intake, alcohol intake, vitamin supplement use, fruit consumption, vegetable consumption, and menopausal hormone therapy among women.
The findings are pretty interesting. Those who ate the most red meat had a 30% increased risk of dying. In women, those eating the most red meat were 36 percent more likely to die for any reason, 20 percent more likely from cancer and 50 percent more from heart disease. Men eating the most meat were 31 percent more likely to die for any reason, 22 percent more of cancer and 27 percent more from heart disease.
On the first blush, one things it must be the fat, and that is one of the reasons given in the article. I want you to think about possibly other reasons.

Here are a few. Ferritin. The more iron you consume, in the form of red meat, the higher your ferritin climbs. This has happened on Okinawa and there the mortality has risen sharply for cardiovascular disease and Alzheimers. Iron is a two edged sword. You need it badly if you are a young woman having babies every two years, our paleolithic past. But our iron absorption rate damages us badly when we get to menopause and stop losing iron through menstruation or babies. And men always have more iron. In fact, men live as much as 10 years less than women. Only 30% of that can be attributed to climbing ladders. A good portion of that is the excess mortality driven by the increased burden of ferritin in men, who never have a chance to lose it. The least Alzheimer’s in the world centers on places with ferritin of 20. American men average over 200 – some are as high at 6-800 and don’t know it.

Another reason. Lectins. In America we feed our animals corn. You can trace the corn through the food supply because of it’s mixture of carbon subtypes. The average American is 65% corn. The average European is 5%. Corn is loaded with lectins, proteins that bind to sugars and set off immune messages internally. You are not only what you eat, but what you ate, ate. When you eat a cow raised on GMO corn, or a chicken raised on GMO corn, you get the lectins from that GMO crop passed on to you. Lectins bind so tightly to sugars, and are pretty resistant to degradation, they survive the transfer. Corn makes cows fat, pigs fat, chickens fat and you fat. It’s not just the calories in the grain, it’s the hormonal effect of the lectins.
American red meat is full of ferritin, full of lectins, full of hormones all at the trace level that has been blessed as safe. It’s not safe. Eating red meat makes you die faster.
www.What will work for me. I’m startled by this. It is changing my mind. The ketogenic diet can’t be one of pure red meat. I’ve measured my ferritin and it was 160. I’m choosing salads much more now with traces of ocean raised fish. You should know your ferritin and get it down. You drop some 40 points every time you donate blood. Next week we will start a series on Lectins.

Pop Quiz


  1. Eating red meat is good for you. T or F                                              Answer: Way too complicated for T or F. You have to get B12 from red meat so we hav got eat a little. And women making babies need the iron. But men almost never need extra iron.
  2. If I cut down on red meat such that I’m at a serving a week, what will my mortality do compared to an every day kind of guy?                                             Answer: Down 30%
  3. American’s are composed of more corn based food that Europeans, by how much?                                                                Answer: We don’t have a huge study but 65% to 5% is one data point, American to European. Yes, you are made of 65% corn protein or fat.
  4. Name another source of possible problems with American red meat?                   Answer: by eating so much corn, the lectins in corn are passed onto the person who eats them
  5. What are lectins?                                                                                     Answer: proteins plants make to poison their predators. They attach to our feed animals meat and then we get them. They have many hormonal side effects. Read more next week.


Birth Control Pills Cause Breast Cancer


Birth Control Pills Cause Cancer

References: NEJM Dec 2017New York Times,

That’s it! They do. Birth control pills increase your risk of breast cancer. The issue should be, how much risk are you willing to take for the benefit of birth control. Pregnancy is not a benign condition either. It has risks. Labor and delivery used to be just about the most common cause of death in women, until we got modern medicine, ultrasounds, sterile technique, etc
What’s the data? The study followed 1.6 million Danish women for over 10 years. Their results showed that for every 100,000 women, birth control use increased risk by 13 women a year, from 55 to 68. Over 40 years, that would be 520 extra cases per 100,000 women. That’s 0.5% lifetime risk. Or, a 20% risk increase over baseline. In percent terms it doesn’t sound huge, and indeed, it isn’t compared to other risks. The study was not able to take into account confounding variable like weight, exercise, other disease, breast feeding, alcohol consumption, etc etc. What about IUD’s with tiny amounts of progestins in them? Nope. Still a problem.
What they also found was that lower doses in modern birth control pills still are risky and the use of “low dose estrogen” really doesn’t add much. And, the progestins (Manufactured artificial progesterone) may actually be the main culprit. If you look at the moleculeprogesterone, and compare it to the molecule medroxyprogesterone, you can quickly see that they aren’t the same thing. They have enough overlap in function to fulfill their duty of hormonal manipulation, but then confuse the body by not setting off the normal biological signaling that the proper molecule provides. The mid cycle surge of LH and FSH is suppressed by lowered free hormones, secondary to elevated Sex Hormone Binding Globulin. You don’t ovulate. Presto.
Are other methods of birth control any safer? You have to go through all the complex math of failure rate and risk of pregnancy, and consequences of pregnancy to come to your own decision. At the end of the day, birth control pills and the IUD are extremely effective at preventing pregnancy, but they do have some risk to them. Ok,, you are informed. (And we didn’t go into the risk reduction of ovarian cancer etc that birth control may help – whole other topic.)
Now, can you soften the risk. You bet. When you do get pregnant, consider breast feeding as your “anti-cancer”, “baby’s brain health”, strategy. For every 6 months of breast feeding, your future risk of breast cancer drops some 15-16 percent – with studies rangingfrom 20% to 60% lifetime risk reduction by getting in the habit and sticking with it.

And then there is iodine, 1 mg a day, Vitamin D to a level of 50, exercise, weight control, Vitamin K2, avoid xenoestrogens (BPA) and eat lots of organic vegetables, and you can keep dropping the risk further.

www.What will work for me. This is one of the most common questions I get asked. How safe are birth control pills. It’s a yin and yang. Life has risks and choices. Driving to my office has risks. Texting on the way is dangerous. What I do tell my clients is please, please take a 6 month sabbatical from birth control every 5 years. And if you don’t want any more children, male or female tubes can be clipped.


Pop Quiz

  1. Birth control pills cause breast cancer by how much?                                          Answer: 13 extra cases per 100,000 women per year – or .5% higher
  2. What is the risk of pregnancy?                                                Answer: in advanced nations with good prenatal health care, 12/100,000 maternal deaths from pregnancy is what WHO provides.   This low rate occurs where  we do not have a targeted strategy for all pregnant women, it’s higher that other parts of the world where risks are up to 200+/100,000 deaths per year from pregnancy
  3. What is the most effective method to lower my risk of breast cancer?                    Answer: breast feed for at least 6 months with every pregnancy. Try for a year.
  4. What other strategies can I do go lower my breast cancer risk?                               Answer: stay slender, exercise, avoid sugar, iodine 1 mg a day, Vitamin D, K2….
  5. Is the IUD any safer?                                                                                                          Answer: No.




Should I get a Flu Shot

Should I Get a Flu Shot?

References: CDC.govCell Mol Immunol,

This is the most common question I have sent to me by various people. I even have folks coming to ask me if I would sign statements about how they shouldn’t get a flu shot. The world I live in, functional medicine, has many anxieties about influenza shots and has not been quiet in voicing their concerns. Hence, confusion and uncertainty.

My response: let’s looks at the evidence and be a scientist. First of all, does the flu shot cause autism? The answer is NO. Does it cause Guillian-Barre? I believe it does have a slight risk for doing that. I’ve even had a close friend get it, and be hospitalized in an ICU for a week with it.

How dangerous is influenza for us? That’s the rub. The CDC says there will be between 9 and 35 million casesof it this year, with 12-56,000 deaths. The mortality is directly linked to age, with infants and elderly being most vulnerable: infants because their immune system is immature and elderly because their immune system is waning.

There have been reports that the flu shot this year is only about 10% protective. The virus that got loose in Australia, that has it’s flu epidemic when we are having summer turned out to be nastier and more virulent than expected, and the pick of viruses contained in the flu shot, wasn’t quite the right mix. The CDC has vigorously refuted that saying that the flu shot has never been perfect at preventing the flu, what it prevents is DEATH. That’s why you want to get a flu shot.

Here is my take on it. It’s DEATH you are most interested in preventing. Influenza does something most viral syndromes don’t do. It stirs up your innate immunesystem. When this happens with influenza you get a “cytokine storm” that is like runaway dominoes. The severe epidemic of influenza in the 1918-19 era was reported to have killed people in 12 hours. Young men, fresh of the plains of Kansas, coming from isolated communities where they had never had influenza before, died in just hours. Their lungs filled up with fluid and they drowned in their own congestion. Remote communities, like the Innuit in Alaska, were wiped out. That’s what influenza can do, and has done every 30 years for millennia. Regular flu feels like that, in mini form. Your lungs feel full. You have trouble breathing. You have a risk of getting pneumonia. But your immune system can limit the runaway “storm”.
Why? Because we, all of us, the collective human race, started getting flu shots. For 50 years now, we have been getting flu shots. When you get a shot, you get immunity to that particular strain of influenza, both A and B that will last you for 4-10 years to that strain. And that immunity overlaps enough with others to help you in other seasons,
Here is the devil in the details. The influenza virus is able to mutate every year and come back again. Your immune system can’t see it clearly. We have been waiting expectantly for another vicious epidemic, much like in 1918. But it doesn’t come. Why, we have to ask, why has this scourge not recurred, like it did for thousands of years? It’s because we are all getting flu shots, and the residual immunity doesn’t allow the cytokine storm to overrun us.

Should I get a flu shot. Darn right. Will it protect me from this years flu? Maybe, maybe not. Will you be around to complain about i? Yes. That’s the point.

Practicing emergency department physicians will point out to you that every year they are crushed during the flu season. Not from flu only. The frail elderly come in with strokes, heart attacks, pneumonia, kidney failure, failure to thrive, congestive heart failure – in droves. You name it. The ER is jammed pack. Do they have the flu? Can’t tell. You know they are sick. You know the hospital is full. You know it’s happening concurrent with half the ER staff being sick with the flu.

WWW.What will work for me. I get a flu shot every year. I’m over 65 so I get the heavy duty one for “frail elderly”. And, I take Vitamin D faithfully. Good evidence that taking D and getting a flu shot is synergistic (roughly 50% extra). And, I wash my hands, wash my hand, wash my hands.


Pop Quiz

  1. Getting a flu shot protects me completely from the flu? T or F                          Answer: False, false, false. Polio, small pox etc all are 100%. Flu keeps mutating. Even with that, it’s still only a 50% reduction in even getting it.
  2. What the heck am I getting it for?                                                                   Answer: So that you don’t die. In that regard, maybe as much as 95% reduction.
  3. But I don’t see people dying of the flu. What on earth are you talking about?           Answer: people don’t look like they are dying from the flu. But they are. The cytokine storm that flu sets off makes every underlying disease worse. Your death certificate will say “heart attack” but that crafty flu virus that was in you at the time is rubbing his greedy hands together with glee, cause he got another good one.
  4. What is a cytokine storm?                                                                                   Answer: It’s your innate immune system with dominos falling hyperbolically – accelerating faster and faster. Flu, uniquely sets that off when the pandemics come to town. It sets it off mildly with regular flu.
  5. Explain to me why we haven’t had a pandemic now for over 50 years when we used to have them every 30 years since time began?                                                          Answer: because the whole world has been getting flu shots, and damping down that cytokine storm this year with this years flu shot, so that next year it doesn’t run away from us. Got it?



Biotoxin XV: VIP – The Magic Bullet

 Biotoxin XV: VIP The Final Magic Bullet

References: Surviving MoldBiotoxin JourneyInternal Medicine Review,

100%. Did you catch that? Everyone with mold illness, following the 11 step program Shoemaker has put together, will find relief. Well, almost everyone. Some folks who have been sick for years have deeply imbedded patterns and may need to be on VIP for a long time, but nevertheless, Shoemaker has found that his program returns (almost) everyone back to much higher levels of functioning, if not complete cure. The limitations are more on getting to a completely clean environment free from biotoxin after a life time of training their immune system to be “sicker, quicker”. Remember, it’s not quantity that sets off the innate immune system, it’s just the first domino that sets off the storm.
Well, explain what VIP does. What is it first of all. Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide was discovered as being active in the gut, hence its name. But its most profound effects are more likely in the brain.

The sequence of events is as follows. You live in a moldy home, or work in a moldy workplace. The ceiling has black spots below the AC unit upstairs. You breathe in the mycotoxins. (They are TINY: if botulism toxin weighs 150,000 daltons, T-2 toxin weight 466). They set off the “cloud” of cytokines of your innate immune system: the fire alarm. The cytokines attach themselves to the Leptin Receptor in your brain which is the gateway to secrete MSH, VIP and ADP. First, you stop making MSH. With a mucked up VIP receptor, your whole POMC system goes down. You stop making beta-endorphin and you start to hurt all over. Your energy tanks. You gain weight. You are tired.
VIP dropping shortly follows. About 98% of folks with chronic fatigue syndrome have low VIP. It is a regulatory neuropeptide that acts in the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus. Does that sound like a mouthful? It appears to have a profound effect on Cyclic AMP which is a second tier messenger. But other than that loosy-goosey explanation, we haven’t a clue how it really works. And it just doesn’t work if you skip any steps in the 11 step program. But if you have done the other 11 steps, it becomes a secret super weapon. It works in minutes.

The sorts of things you can measure are almost immediate improvement in the pulmonary artery pressure. That means blood is flowing much faster, immediately. Breathing is easier. “Asthma” suddenly feels ok. That means energy perks up, right away. In two hours your fizz is back. In two days you feel like you were never sick. For those folks with joint stiffness, 10 minutes and you are feeling more limber. This is a real magic wand.

The protocol is to take it as a nose spray 4 times a day for 30 days; then twice a day for 30 days; then daily for 30 days; then off 30 for days.

Unless: you have any of the following: ERMI > 2 at home/work/school, your VCS (Visual Contrast test) still positive, still have MARCoNS in your nose, MMP9, PAI-1, leptin still high, Untreated C3a, C4a, TGF beta-1 still hanging around.

This is really cool. We have a final step that fixes things that is measurable, repeatable, explainable. I have met one person who flunked VIP, albeit they did feel a little better.

www.what will work for me. I’m eager to get experience of using it. Again, it will be a new modality in this town so getting a pharmacy to make it right might be a challenge. Getting insurance to pay for it. Well, dream on. But there are work-arounds for all those things. In the meantime, I’m still working on my own basement. My ERMI was 4 and I’m determined to get it down. When I see someone with a -6 ERMI, I’m jealous. They lived on the 16th floor of a pristine, new condo building. Lucky devils.


Pop Quiz


  1. Where was VIP discovered?                                                       Answer: as a regulatory peptide in the gut, hence the name, Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide.
  2. Where else does it work?                                                           Answer: very definitely in the brain – in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, to be exact – and many others.
  3. What does it do?                                                                          Answer: We haven’t a clue. It has effects on a secondary messenger inside cells called c-AMP but other than that, we are clueless. It just fixes everything like a magic wand.
  4. What makes it not work?                                                            Answer: anything in the previous 11 steps that weren’t fixed first. Still living in a toxic environment with an ERMI score over 2, still having MARCONs in the nose, still having elevated cytokines, etc etc.
  5. How quickly does it work?                                                           Answer: Minutes. And can be tapered over 3-6 months to off, provided the person doesn’t go back into their dangerous place.


Biotoxin XIV: Fixing TGF-beta 1


Biotoxin XIV: Fixing TGF-Beta1

References: Shoemaker ProtocolScienceWikipediaSci Rep 2017,

We are almost at the end of our Biotoxin Treatment Pathway. Fixing TGF-beta 1 is next to last. If your level is over 2380, you need to fix it. And fix it you can. What is it that TGF-beta 1 does? It’s a member of superfamily of cytokines in that it has myriad functions. It plays a key roll in cellular differentiation, proliferation, and finally apoptosis. Many cells secrete it and respond to it, so our understanding of it is just getting started. We do see it act badly in Marfan’s syndrome where folks are super stretchy and bendy and have a “wingspan” greater than their height. They often die from burst aortic aneurysms, caused by too much TGF-beta 1. In fact, someone whose wingspan is greater than their height is very likely to have an elevated TGFb1. Hmmm. Might you measure yours? If you have an autoimmune disease, know your wingspan, and your TGFb1, as fixing your mold illness may revert your BT illness. Cool, huh!
Levels of 5000 and below usually aren’t too sick but over 10,000 and you are almost certain to have some identifiable effect. Lung, joint, brain are common victims. For example, in the brain we know that glial cells put out Glial Fibrillatory Acidic Protein, that inhibits cell growth and axonal connections. In lungs we suspect that at many as 50% of adults developing new asthma are doing so from biotoxin illness with ‘TGF-beta 1 playing a leading roll.

TGF beta 1 drives the development of imbalance between T-regulatory CD4+CD25++ cells and TH-17 cells. This might be at the heart of autoimmunity. T-regulatory cells help prevent autoimmunity – the body attacking itself. In some with biotoxin illness, T-regulatory cells are improperly changed into pathogenic effector T-cells by TH-17 cells. The next effect is an endless positive feedback look driving more TGF beta 1. We can now measure CD4+CD25++ and CD4+CD25++127lo/- cells as one method of getting to the heart of this imbalance. Can you imagine if this works out to have a major impact on ALL autoimmune disease. That would be so amazing!

How do you fix it? Actually, it’s easy….well, sort of. Cozaar, or Losartan, yes – a high blood pressure mediation lowers TGFbeta 1. If it is above 2380, and particularly if T-regulatory CD4+CD25++ combo cell levels are less than 18, you need to be on Losartan. 25 mg twice a day will do most adults, but if blood pressure doesn’t drop too much, 50 mg a day will push it even faster. For how long? Until you are better. Not years, weeks. Maybe months. Provided you are out of the biotoxin environment and not being reignited with new inflammation. For those whose blood pressure is too low, VIP spray also works. (Next week).

What is it that Losartan does? Remember, you asked: here goes: “EXP3179, but not losartan and EXP3174, dose-dependently inhibited (P<0.05) phorbol myristate acetate and insulin-stimulated NADPH oxidase activity. EXP3179 also inhibited phorbol myristate acetate-induced NADPH oxidase in endothelial cells. In addition, EXP3179 inhibited (P<0.05) both phorbol myristate acetate-stimulated p47phox translocation from cytosol to membranes and protein kinase C activity.” Did you get that? I didn’t either till I read it three times. Remember, EXP3179 does it, not Losartan. But it does lower TGF-beta 1. Aren’t you relieved! Stupid little high blood pressure medicine, works wonders on TGFb1.

WWW.What will work for me. I’m seeing tons of folks with CIRS and mold illness with TGFb1 over 10,000. My highest has been 28,000 something and that person answered 29 symptoms on Shoemaker’s symptom list. Mostly they said their brain just didn’t work. Can you imagine the wonder I feel to see folks getting better from a mystery illness that heretofore went not only unrecognized, but blamed on the victim?  It’s like a Christmas present.


Pop Quiz:

1.     TGFb1 is ….?                                                                    Answer: a peptide cytokine that has regulatory properties for cell growth and differential, and eventually cell death. It plays a key role in facilitating autoimmune disease.

2.     It needs treatment to lower it when…?                       Answer If you feel sick and have levels over 2380,

3.     The best way to lower it is with a drug called…..?     Answer: Losartan

4.     How long do you have to treat for?                             Answer: until better with normal TGFb1, which might be a couple of weeks or months. Or VIP

5.     If you are “double jointed” and can bend your fingers back to your wrist or scratch the middle of our back easily, you might first want to measure what?                   Answer: Your wingspan, then your TGFb1.




Biotoxin XIII: Fixing C4a

References: Jr Aller Clin ImmunSelfHacked.comSeminar Immunopath,

If you hadn’t heard of C3a last week, you don’t know about C4a either. It’s another member of the complement system, that basic process that kills invading bacteria with nonspecific chemicals. The complement system is a cascade like multiplying dominoes that rapidly magnify your immune response. C4a is an activationanaphylatoxin that can rapidly ramp up trouble. It’s one step up from C3a. . There are three pathways of complement activation, but mold illness tends to use the MBL (mannose binding lectin) pathway. This pathway is designed to recognize specific shapes, mannose and n-acetylglucoseamine in particular. When MBL sees those shapes, it turns on the heavy duty MBL Associated Serine Proteinases – or MASPS. There are several MASPs but MASP-2 is the wicked one that keeps making more C4a. C4a only lasts a few seconds, but MASP-2 keeps turning it on. Turn off MASP-2 and the whole show stops. Did you get that?
One of the peculiar effects of C4a is that it blocks the assembly of “multimer’s” that allow blood clotting. With a blasting off cascade of higher C4a, your blood becomes anti-coagulated and mold folks start having nosebleeds like crazy. Fortunately, ddavp works on helping assemble multimers and works like a little charm at stopping nose bleeds. You learn to carry your ddavp with you.
If C4a is elevated, you get cognitive dysfunction, increased smooth muscle contraction, blood vessels leaking fluid, release of chemotactic factors followed by capillary hypoperfusion and low tissue oxygen. It’s normal range is 0-2830 but you will see folks with levels of 18,000, rising higher and higher after each exposure. The average level of C4a in CIRS or biotoxin illness is at least 10,000, but it’s not uncommon to have 20,000 on the second exposure, 50,000 the third, 150,000 the fourth and too high to measure on the fifth. The phrase “sicker, quicker” really applies here and C4a becomes one of the cardinal tools to see how sick someone is. For folks with re-exposure to a toxic environment, C4a will explode the first day as a strong marker of immediate toxicity. (Leptin rises on day 2 and MMP9 rises on 2-3 and TGF-beta 1 will vary depending on your genetic variability.) You have about 5 minutes in a “toxic” environment before you start activating C4a and 10 minutes is your maximum time before you better get out.

C4a makes such a dramatic decrease in blood flow to brains that you can measure the toxic effect of mold illness on MRI scans on your brain where computer algorithms can generate a test called NeuroQuant. It is all computer managed so doesn’t take a radiologist to read, so costs less (or should). C4a has such an effect on brains, it’s not a far reach to understand Bredesen’s claim that 500,000 Americans are developing Alzheimer’s because of this inflammatory effect.
What is the most effective way to lower C4a? Turn off MASP-2. What does that the best? Erythopoeitin. “Epo”. So called Procrit is used extensively in America for cancer patients with low blood counts. It boosts their ability to make more blood. But it also blocks the MASP-2 nightmare in its tracks. Now that’s handy. It’s also tricky. In fact, so tricky that there is a lot of pushback to using EPO for this and regulatory bodies don’t like it much. (Beyond the scope of this note.)
How can I summarize all this confusing stuff? Forget the confusion. The simple facts for you to remember is that you have 10 minutes to get out of a bad place if you are mold sensitive. If you are a nosebleed victim, you need to carry DDAVP around with you. If you know your C4a, you can have a sense of how serious your mold illness is: 10,000 is awful, 2100 is ok, 180,000 is “I gotta get outta here”. Erythropoetin is a miracle worker at allowing your energy level to return, your brain to fix and your nosebleeds to get better, but you may not be able to get it.

And then there is VIP. Like the Lone Ranger riding the rescue, VIP can work to resolve high C4a when you can’t use EPO. The nasal spray of VIP fixes elevated C4a like a charm. It’s much safer than epo, and much easier to give.

How does all this fit together? It’s complex but then again, simple. All the cytokines and inflammogens are all on the same team and pushing in the same direction. So, they are all linked and all work together to make the same mess, or the symphony. Shoemaker references Beethoven’s 9th when everything is working well. Folks with mold illness, have everything working badly. If you had heard me on the bassoon in10th grade, trying to play Peter and the Wolf, that’s what happens in mold illness. It all goes badly.

www.What Will Work for me. I’m in a quandary finding a reliable place to measure c4a. We are working on it. I have some folks who tell me they are fatigued all the time and have nosebleeds and don’t know why. Our local labs can’t do C4a yet. Most folks reading this blog will be in places where it can’t be measured yet. As more doctors learn this method, they will develop more demand for it. Someday it will be as important a test for you to know as your cholesterol, as least if you want to know why your memory is slipping, your joints ache, you are tired after walking up stairs…..


Pop Quiz

1.      C4a is part of the complement cascade the complements your good looks? T or F                   Answer: Pardon the tongue in cheek. This system of complement is your basic innate immune system that generates the inflammation that nonspecifically attacks invading bacteria, punching a hole in their walls and killing them.

2.     In biotoxin illness, what gets messy that keeps C4a so elevated?                                                    Answer: Your MASP-2 protein gets elevated and keeps generating new C4a endlessly. You can measure C4a

3.      What is the best way to turn off MASP-2?                                                                                          Answer: Erythropoietin or EPO or branded as Procrit. But VIP is probably just as good, and much easier and safer.

4.     You can show the damage of biotoxin illness on your brain with a radiology test called what?     Answer: Neuroquant, 15 minutes in an MRI, if you can get it.

5.     How much time do you have if you sit down at a wedding in a moldy church before your C4a fires off?        Answer: 5 minutes