Monthly Archives: November 2017

Biotoxin Part X: Putting Cytokines back in Order – One by One – MMP-9 First

References: www.survivingmold.comBiochem Biophy Res CommMol Med Rep

CIRS (Biotoxin Illness) or Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome sets off a host of cytokines. We are a long way from understanding the complexity of all the interactions that occur, but we are beginning to understand preliminary methods of how to manipulate them and fix them. Remember, CIRS is really a firestorm being set off in your innate immune system – your lizard level built in, non specific, immune system that creates inflammation but isn’t focused and precise. The folks who get sick with CIRS are the ones who can’t mount the next level of response and sit there mired in the continued process of hyper alarm with no relief. To bring relief, we want to start disconnecting and calming down all the sources of dysfunction.
Specifically: you get “invaded” or exposed to biotoxins (the musty smelling basement, the ancient church choir closet, the leaking school roof). These toxins are fat soluble and circulate throughout your body. In your fat tissue, fat cells take them up and don’t like it. They put out a host of cytokines that circulate all over asking for your adaptive system to come and clean them up. You can’t “see” the biotoxin because your immune system is “blind” – you have a high risk HLA type – 25% of us all. The circulating cytokines damage your hypothalamic leptin receptor and MSH, VIP and ADH all get damaged. You feel chronic pain, fatigue, and 31 other odd symptoms. You are off to the races with biotoxin illness.

That’s where MMP9 sits. It is the mediator of the cytokine chorus. If it is elevated, you have a biotoxin burden. MMP9 is not a cytokine, it is a protein enzyme that facilitates the entry to biotoxins into the sub-intimal space. This is the part of tissue beyond the basement membrane of blood vessels. Your blood vessel’s intimal membrane is the last barrier protecting your cells from invading damage. It’s the “gristle” of dense, gooey connective tissue that the blood vessel cells sit on and typically is impenetrable. MMP9 penetrates it. Penetrating it is a huge step, and a dangerous one. Once you have penetrated the basement membrane the inflammatory cytokines get into your brain, your lungs, your muscles, your joints. In the brain, MMP9 can help make plaque that looks like MS, and even shows up on MRI scans. In your lungs, you can cough endlessly and look like asthma, often being misdiagnosed (as much as 50% of kids?). In your joints, it looks like arthritis. Can you see the scope of what can happen once you open the gates and high MMP9 lets the cytokines get in? It’s a runaway train with no conductor.

How to reign it in? Well, this is what is fascinating and unique. Ritchie Shoemaker had the genius to look at the bench research on cytokines and chase down a new idea. The thiazolidinediones class of diabetes drugs (Actos as an example) turn on genes as their method of action. In fact, ACTOS lowers MMP9 (and TNF, leptin, and PAI-1)after biotoxins cause it/them to be elevated. And in a couple of weeks, we will also learn in increase VEGF. Actos (pioglitizone) is the gift that keeps on giving. It activates the PPAR-gamma class of nuclear receptors. It is that PPAR system you are trying to activate with Actos, as that is what lowers the MMP9. And you can overwhelm it and ruin the effect if you force insulin to rise rapidly be eating foods with lots of freely available glucose. The food form of glucose that gets into you the fastest is called amylose. It’s in all grains, all root vegetables, bananas. The only folks who need to be wary of Actos are the really skinny folks with low leptin who need to get on enough fat to raise their leptin level first. Then, Actos will work and their MMP9 level will come down.

Sounds complicated? Actually, it’s not. Actos, combined with a low amylose diet is a fantastically simple form of gene therapy that works with anyone with a high MMP9. We can’t see what’s happening at the cellular level, but you can imagine that by muscling the MMP9 down, the circulating cytokines can’t get in to cause their damage. If you have cleaned out the biotoxin, now you need to clean up the mess they made. And MMP9 is the first layer.
Again, simple. Amylose free diet, frequent small meals, pioglitizone, 45 mg a day.

WWW.What will work for me. I’m just thrilled with this simple concept. I have already tried it on dozens of folks and sure enough, they start to feel better, start to lose weight, get their headaches in control, feel less fatigue. If you are someone who is overweight and simply can’t lose the weight and feel achy and sore, it’s likely you have biotoxin mediated high leptin and high MMP9. It’s not you that is to blame, it’s the biotoxin. Get your MMP9 down!

Pop Quiz

  1. MMP9 is a cytokine. T or F                                                                          Answer. Wake up, sleepy. Read the blog again. It’s a protein enzyme.  It dissolves connective tissue and allows inflammatory cytokines access to the tissue beneath the membrane.
  2. What does MMP9 do?                                                                                 Answer: It dissolves the gooey, gristle that is the foundation of connective tissue lining blood vessels, allowing biotoxins to penetrate from inside the blood vessel into brains, joints, lungs etc.
  3. MMP9 is a handy marker of biotoxin illness. T or F                                Answer: That’s it in a nutshell. And it should be under 332. Many labs say normal includes a higher range than that because there are so many people with elevated MMP9 that are then included in the normal population. Well people have levels below 332.
  4. The best way to lower MMP9 is with?                                                       Answer: gene therapy using pioglitizone (Actos) combined with a low Amylose diet.
  5. What is amylose?                                                                                          Answer: the form of glucose plants use to store glucose that is the most easily digested (you have amylase in your saliva and start breaking it down as you chew) found in root vegetables, all grains, bananas. Eating amylose with Actos undermines the gene therapy of lowering MMP9.




Biotoxin IX: Peeing Like a Racehorse

 References: Surviving MoldBiotoxin Journey

How often do you take a leak? Four to five times a day? Once at night? Or have you gotten used to urinating every hour? Twenty times a day? Do you get up more than twice at night? Do you feel thirsty all the time? Even more mysterious, do you have a lot of static shocks?

If so, these are all they symptoms of biotoxin illness affecting the pituitary gland. Once your understand it and you learn how to fix it, you breathe a sigh of relief. You cancel your scheduled prostate surgery. You decline to go to the Gyn doctor for bladder sling surgery. You weren’t getting old, you are biotoxin affected. And this symptom may be one of the only prominent ones you have. To really be fixed, you have to go back to the source and get rid of your exposure to biotoxin (usually mold).

Here is what is going on. Your brain has a meter that measures the concentration of your blood – the number of particles in it. That’s called your osmolality. It is tightly regulated in a very narrow range. When you drink a lot of water, your total “concentration” of ions, or osmolality falls. Every membrane of every cell in your body depends on that concentration being reliably consistent. If it is falling, you protect yourself by NOT secreting your regulatory hormone called ADH or anti-diuretic hormone. ADH acts by telling your kidney to hang on to water. (Anti Diuretic means it stops you forming urine.) Without ADH, your rapidly start to let go of all that extra water you just drank.

Vice versa, if you are dehydrated, your ADH goes way up and your kidneys promptly stop excreting out any liquid and start to concentrate your urine. You get the feeling of thirst and seek water to drink. That brings your concentration back into line. This is a very elegant system and works in a very tight range.

Biotoxins upset that applecart. For any given osmolality, your secretion of ADH is just a bit short, so you pee out more free water than you intended to. The concentration of your blood, your osmolality, rises. You feel thirsty and drink more to catch up. But it’s the lack of ADH comes first. You are drinking to keep up, and not always accomplishing it. Your blood concentration, or osmolality, rises, maybe not out of the normal range, but too high for the ADH level you are making. 60% of biotoxin damaged folks have this symptom.

This is where it gets weird. Your sweat glands are designed to help out. They can excrete a tiny amount of salt when your blood is too concentrated. If your kidneys won’t hang onto free water, your sweat glands try to make up for it by getting rid of extra salt.. Your skin gets to have a slight layer of salt on its surface. Salt is a great conductor of electricity. You become a walking battery. You touch anything with any charge on it, and you readily accept it, or transmit it. Little sparks fly off of you. No kidding! For those whom this affects, this can be a royal pain. You find yourself turning off switches with your elbow, not shaking hangs, avoiding wool clothing.

And you get a headache from hell. Your brain takes great exception to this slightly over concentrated blood and complains loudly. You may have blood tests that are hardly abnormal, but not matched. For a given osmolality, you need a certain ADH, and you come up short. The biotoxin has short circuited your measurement device in your hypothalamus/pituitary. You can go to every headache clinic in America and not come up with an answer.

How to fix this? That’s the next step in the biotoxin pathway. A simple, inexpensive analog to ADH called DDAVP, used for years to help kids stop bedwetting, helps you stop peeing every twenty minutes too. A dose of 0.2 mg once a day to every other day for a 10-30 period might just shake you back into shape, provided you have gotten rid of the biotoxin. It’s too easy a fix not to jump on. There are several regimens for DDAVP, which we will get to in future weeks too. Coming up is how DDAVP fixes some nosebleeds.  (There are some potential side effects: if you don’t get rid of water, you may get edema and gain weight with that.)

WWW.What will work for me. This is such a weird symptom, few folks notice it on their own, thinking instead that they are just getting old. It can be one of the symptoms that sneaks up on you when you aren’t horribly damaged yet by the biotoxin. Take warning. Get the biotoxin cleaned up or avoided before you get sicker.


Pop Quiz

  1. When your blood gets too concentrated you feel thirsty and drink plain water? T or F    Answer: TRUE
  2. The hormone that helps with your dehydration is called?                   Answer: ANTI-diuretic hormone or ADH. It is against you leaking out too much liquid
  3. What is the defect caused in biotoxin illness?                                        Answer: too little ADH for any given concentration of blood.
  4. The main symptom of that is?                                                                   Answer: too frequent urination.
  5. How often does this happen?                                                                    Answer 60% of the time in biotoxin illness
  6. And way do these folks have unusually frequent static shocks?         Answer: their sweat glands excrete a bit of extra salt, trying to help with the salt imbalance. This makes their skin a good electrical conductor, resulting in unusual skin conductivity.




Biotoxin VIII: Absent Androgens

References:  Surviving Mold,  Jr Sex Medicine,

How many men do you know who say they are low on energy? And how many ads do you see touting the claim that they are “low T” and suggesting they get on more testosterone? Are you a bit skeptical that that may be the case? You should be, because many of those men, if not most, are Biotoxin Refugees, not “Gonadal Insufficiency” as modern medicine defines them.   They can get fixed by going upstream, in the majority of situations, to the root cause.   So just how does that happen?   Explain that “root cause”.  (First: Definition –  Biotoxin Refugee: they are sick from biotoxins and no one recognizes it and calls them crazy.  They are medically homeless and fleeing from a pervasive enemy.)

Here’s the skinny explanation. We are now in the phase of explaining the next layer of biotoxin illness, the hypothalamic and pituitary damage that arises from biotoxin’s effect on MSH (melanocyte stimulating hormone), VIP (vasoactive intestinal peptide), ADH (anti-diuretic hormone) and all the rest.   To recap, you inhale the biotoxin. That comes from the breakdown products of “black mold” which is code word for a complex mix of molds, bacteria, actinomycetes etc  . When the mid winter sun is angling across your room, you can see tiny bits of dust floating in the air. You breathe that in.   That floating stuff is what turns into the dust bunnies under your bed, and contains the substrates of biotoxin illness. The biotoxins all share a similar structure that makes them incredibly fat-soluble and damages cells by mucking up their energy production and DNA messaging. Your innate immune system recognizes them as foreign and sets off fire alarms in the form of “cytokines”, calling 911. But your adaptive system, the higher order immune system that makes antibodies and T-cells doesn’t “see” or “recognize” biotoxins in 25% of us. Those are the folks who get in trouble. The biotoxin sets off your bodies 911 system, and your adaptive system doesn’t know what to do. You flounder. That floundering takes the shape of downshifting POMC endocrine system: the 11 hormones made from one protein substrate. When you downshift 11 different hormones, you are going to have a broad array of dysfunction. No wonder hormone production takes a hit.

That’s the upstream skinny. So simply giving testosterone circumvents the real problem. Of course, folks feel better and function better for a short period of time. And then it fades. A higher dose of T then reboots the problem and your pituitary responds by making less and less LH, the hormone that drives T production. And it fades again. You have now accomplished a further down-regulation of your hypothalamus; the same place the biotoxin down regulated. And all the complex interplays of LH and pituitary/hypothalamic balance get forced out of balance.

We can’t get close to understanding all the interactions of our pituitary/hypothalamic hormones yet. Thinking that Testosterone replacement will fix our waning libido is true, only so far. There are several dozen other functions of T that aren’t so easily measured or experienced. I want to live long enough for the research to emerge that clarifies them all. As an example, STEP 11, 4 weeks from now will tell you how VIP normalizes MSH, lowers TGF-beta1 and raises VGEF. VIP is called Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide, but it does so much more, it’s hard to describe. Its name implies that it is involved just in the gut, because that is where it was first discovered. But its most important function is likely it’s balancing the POMC system, and bringing the orchestra of the hypothalamic opera into tune.

So, what specifically is being mucked up with androgens? Part of the explanation is around the enzyme aromatase. This enzyme is the last step of estrogen production, which is turning testosterone into estrogen. Aromatase gets up regulated in biotoxin illness. Testosterone disappears into estrogen. Giving more T results in more Estrogen until you get to the root problem.   The solution is not more T, it’s DHEA, the precursor to T. Most folks in their 40s and 50s have very low DHEA the precursor hormone to T and E. Giving that doesn’t seem to disrupt the whole system, and allows your body to proceed with balancing its hormones as it sees fit. We need to know more. That’s coming. Sooner would be better.

WWW.What will work for me. Well, I’ve now checked MSH and TGF-beta 1 in a handful of my clients with low T, and sure enough, they have all been low and all report basements that smell “musty”.   I’m not sure we can explain the whole story to them yet, but I’m certain this is a more satisfying track.


Pop Quiz

  1. We need testosterone for more than libido. T or F                                    Answer. Immune function is on the list and that may be part of the dysfunctional damage of biotoxins.


  1. Biotoxin refugees are?                                                                                     Answer: Folks with low energy, diffuse pain, lousy sexual function, diarrhea, trouble concentrating, mind fog…….(all the 31 symptoms of biotoxin illness) and no one wants to give them the time of day because the current medical model hasn’t learned biotoxin illness yet, so they are “homeless”.


  1. Replacing Testosterone is fraught with risk because?                             Answer: the enzyme aromatase is already up-regulated by biotoxins, and further exacerbated with extra T. Aromatase makes more estrogen from the T. So the T/E ratio gets all out of whack. The human body likes proper balance.


  1. The best way to fix low T is:   a) Replace it,   b) Give Clomiphene, c) Fix the biotoxin problem, d) Give DHEA e)   All of the above                                                                 Answer: Probably C needs to be number 1.   You do that by d). Your may use b) now and then.   Stay tuned, more to learn.


  1. Giving T without measuring MSH may be jumping the gun. T or F     Answer: Bingo, that’s this week’s take-home.

BioToxin VII: The Gluten Connection

References: NatureImmunityClinical and Devel ImmunSurviving Mold,

How many folks do you know who are gluten sensitive? You hear some people scoff at the idea but you also know quite a few folks that say they just feel better when they are off gluten. They don’t have celiac disease, at last most don’t. So, what’s up? Would you be surprised if you heard that biotoxins set off your innate immune response, and that sets up for the production of TH-17 immune cells, that tip you in the balance towards autoimmune disease? And gluten does that!
Step 4 in Shoemaker’s Surviving Mold Pathway is to get off of gluten/amylose for at least 3 months if you have antibodies to Gluten. This is the next phase of the Shoemaker protocol: sequentially and progressively cleaning up all the sources of persistent inflammation. And actually, he calls for you being off amylose. Amylose is about 30% of most white carbs. It is composed of long strings of glucose hooked together at the 1,4 positions on the glucose molecule, making for a long, linear chain. Amylopectin is the other component of most starches. It is branched and less dense in formation. Plants can store more energy as amylose. Curiously, it’s structure also binds iodine avidly, making for a dark color indicating the presence of amylose with iodine.
This is where future research is going to have a rich source of discovery. We don’t know all the details yet. What we do see is that lowered MSH (melanocyte stimulating hormone) and elevated TGF-beta 1 leads to unbalanced TH17 immune cells. These are the regulatory cells that march you down the path to autoimmune disease. And oddly enough, we see antibodies to gluten like IGg and IgA antibodies to gluten in biotoxin disease. That’s what leads you to step 4.

Get off of anything that stimulates inflammation. It’s not just wheat, it’s all amylose products like potatoes and rice too. All white carbs.

Now, your brain, your gut and your immune system all make a team, a triad. When you have inflammation in your gut, your brain doesn’t feel so good either. Biotoxins are setting off cytokines all over your body that are then blocking the leptin receptor in your brain, lowering your MSH. Without MSH to direct your immune system, your gut gets dysfunctional. Autoimmunity emerges.  Gluten wasn’t the first step, mold biotoxin set the table.

You thought your gluten sensitivity was set off by the changes made to wheat back in the 1950s when we tripled it’s chromosomes. I thought that. May not be the sole problem The underlying dynamic may be that your innate immune system is goofy because of biotoxins from molds. And you are in the 25-30% of folks sensitive to those biotoxins. If you live and work in clean environments, you might not ever feel the effects. You can eat bread and potatoes all day long. But add in biotoxins and your genetic susceptibility takes over.

We have tantalizing clues that this is what’s happening. Rock solid proof awaits. We do know that Hashimoto’s gets better with wheat avoidance. We do know that Crohns and Sjogren’s appear to be sensitive. Stay tuned.

WWW.What will work for me. I don’t eat much wheat anymore. We just don’t buy bread or potatoes. It becomes a lifestyle thing. Shoemaker asks the same as Functional medicine with wheat, 3 months without any. Now, that’s hard. For those who are sensitive, the rewards are there. I can’t wait for more science to figure out this connection more fully.


Pop Quiz

  1. Gluten irritates your gut and sets off autoimmune disease? T or F                          Answer: We used to say this was true. We now think that biotoxins lower your MSH that then makes your immune system unable to protect your gut. That’s the nuance.
  2. To have an effective challenge of being gluten free, you need to be off for how long? Answer: Three months
  3. If I put a drop of iodine into a cup of hot water with rice flour in it, it will instantly turn black, making for a great magic trick? T or F                                                  Answer: True. Amylose binds iodine avidly. It’s kind of fun. You can complete the trick with a tablespoon of green tea after your iodine turns the water black – if you want to really have fun with food chemistry tricks. Poof, clear again. Try it.
  4. Turning off amylose sensitivity is the first step in fixing the inflamed body, once biotoxin is removed from your body and your MARCoNs are cleaned up. T or F               Answer: That’s it. Now we embark on tackling all the sources of inflammation and calming your hot body down.
  5. Biotoxin illness spreads its trouble much further afield than I ever imagined. T or F                Answer: Just wait till we get to hormones! True, true, true.