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Brain health conference: listening to the gut.

Brain health connects to the gut, teeth, and eyes. That's a take-away message from the NeuroRegeneration Conference conducted by the Academy of Comprehensive Integrative Medicine (ACIM) in Orlando last October.

Some 100 attendees--mostly alternative-minded practitioners--gathered for two days at the Florida Hotel and Conference Center and heard presenters speak about topics ranging from the gut lining to root canals to the retina, and how various systems connect to the brain.

For example, Zach Bush, MD, said: "If you stop stress from the gut, the brain improves." And this from David Minkoff, MD: "If you've got neurological illness, and you've got root canals, you've got to have your root canals pulled out."

Here are some highlights from the conference gleaned from presentations and follow-up interviews. Some quotes have been lightly edited for clarity. The ACIM website is

Tight Junction Injury

Tight junctions in the body are being injured by toxins, according to Bush.

Also called zonulae occludentes, tight junctions are proteins found in gut linings and other places in the body. They hold cell layers together--rather like Velcro. They affect the health of the microbiome, the brain, and other systems, and they are "incredibly vulnerable to some of the things we eat these days," said Bush.

Gluten, for example: "Gluten sensitivity is now affecting at least 18 million Americans," Bush said. "We think the number is far greater than that. In our laboratories, when we test epithelial linings of guts, we have yet to find a single lining that doesn't respond negatively to the gliadin in gluten." Tight junctions are also vulnerable to damage from the common herbicide Roundup (glyphosate), Bush said.

Tight junction problems in the gut--that is, intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction--are an early step in the pathogenesis of many chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, Bush said, including neurological conditions. In the last several years, scientists have established strong links between microbiome health and disease outcomes, he noted. When researchers began publishing these papers, the studies were widely regarded as "crazy talk," but today "we all talk about the microbiome. If you stop stress from the gut, the brain improves."

So what's the root cause of all this trouble?

"Destruction of the soil," said Bush.

Since World War II, petroleum-based, nitrogen-rich fertilizers have proliferated, and this, he said, has contributed to the depletion of soil bacteria in farmland. Destruction of soil bacteria has led to damaged root systems in plants, which in turn has hurt the ability of plants to gather nutrients from the soil. For example, kale in stores today is not as nutritious as it was in 1940.

There's a link, he said, between (a) loss of soil bacteria, (b) loss of bacteria in plants, (c) loss of bacteria diversity in the gut microbiome, and (d) increased gut vulnerability. The latter connects to many health issues, including neurological conditions such as dementia and depression.

Bush is founder and CEO of Biomic Sciences Ltd., which makes a gut-healing product called Restore.


David Minkoff, MD: "If you've got neurological illness, and you've got root canals, you've got to have your root canals pulled out. You won't get better without it, and you won't get better with a redo, in my experience. The root canal problem is so often missed by practitioners. I'm not saying that everyone who has a root canal is sick with it, but it's a very important toxic load in nearly all the chronically ill patients I see, and it has to be dealt with."

Stuart Nunnally, DDS: "Some people tolerate root canals. People handle toxicides in different ways; everyone has to be treated individually. But if there's a bizarre change in your health, and no one has a solution to it, I am here to tell you, oftentimes it's what's going on in the mouth that is causing other systemic health issues." Nunnally added: "Regarding chelation for patients with amalgams--I think it's best not to chelate when they have mercury in their mouths; have them see a biological dentist first." (Related books and an article: The Toxic Tooth: How a Root Canal Could Be Making You Sick, by Robert Kulacz, DDS, and Thomas E. Levy, MD [2014]; this book provides a fresh examination of root canal data. It's All In Your Head: The Link Between Mercury Amalgams and Illness, by Hal A. Huggins, DDS [1993]; the late Huggins is a legend in alternative dentistry and health care. An article by Nunnally titled "In Vitro Enzymatic Inhibition Associated with Asymptomatic Root Canal Treated Teeth: Results from a Sample of 25 Extracted Root Fragments" [Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. 2012;27(3)].)

The Eye

Thomas J. Lewis, PhD, spoke about the eye as a diagnostic tool. His company, Real Health Systems, uses relatively simple, noninvasive techniques for examining several aspects of health (including brain health) via the eye. His presentation was a highlight of the conference for several observers. He commented, "Eye pathologies, particularly in the retina, correlate to neurogenerative and cardiovascular disease." Real Health Systems opened Its first clinic in October. Lewis is coauthor, with Clement L. Trempe, MD, of The End of Alzheimer's? A Differential Diagnosis Toward a Cure (2014).


Many researchers blame low serotonin levels for depression, but this model is incomplete, said Suruchi Chandra, MD, a psychiatrist in Silicon Valley, who noted that there's no consistent body of evidence showing that depleting serotonin leads to depression. Also, she said, a meta-analysis of antidepressant use found that these drugs are no more effective than placebo for cases of mild or moderate depression (Le., most cases).

Chandra identified an "emerging view" of depression--that it's a "whole-body illness" with "many pathways" to healing. She puts a great deal of emphasis in her practice on the gut, which she studies and ponders "much, much more" than serotonin.

"The microbiome," she said, "has a relationship to how the brain functions and even how the brain develops--especially in patients with microbiome disturbances from frequent or prolonged antibiotic use." The basics of her gut protocol include diet, probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented foods.

She often helps patients deal with stress with adaptogenic herbs including rhodiola, ashwagandha, and astragalus, which have a "growing body of literature" for how they work and a long history of use in traditional cultures. She also uses minerals, including lithium, magnesium, zinc, and copper, and a variety of other approaches.

"Depression is not just in the head," she said. "When patients understand that, it gives them a lot of hope. They may think, 'I'm taking an SSRI and I'm not getting any better!' and get discouraged. The idea that depression is something that can be addressed in many ways, and that treatment can be individualized, gives them hope." (A book mentioned by Chandra is The Emperor's New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, by Irving Kirsch, PhD [2010].)

A Few Quotes from the Podium

"It's very rare to find a patient nowadays who doesn't have a chronic infection somewhere in their body."--W. Lee Cowden, MD, conference moderator.

"There's no chance for good health unless we repair the microbiome."--Jim Lemire, MD.

"Everybody's toxic. Neurotoxins are everywhere--we are exposed to hundreds if not thousands every day. The vast majority of patients we see in our clinic are neurologically impaired in some form or another and have major gut dysfunction. Few neurologists are thinking about what is really happening in the nervous system from the point-of-view of cause. It's all, "Use medications to suppress tremors and seizures"--never investigation into "Why is this happening?" While a seizure disorder does have to be treated, why it is occurring is the second most important thing. The patient wasn't born this way. This is not, by and large, genetic. The symptoms that one sees are the result of toxins and infections." --David Minkoff, MD.

"Evidence-based medicine is not just double-blind placebo-controlled studies. It also includes careful, collective clinical observations."--Suruchi Chandra, MD. (Related ardele: "Evidence Based Medicine: What It Is and What It Isn't," by David L. Sackett, MD, et al. [British Medical Journal. January 13, 2006].)

"We do testing with our patients to find out what they're missing, nutritionally, but also to show them what they're missing. Because otherwise they won't believe you! They believe they're eating well but they're not! I like hair analysis from Trace Elements and the RBC Mineral Test from Genova. SpectraCell has a great test that looks for nutrients inside immune system cells."--Carol Roberts, MD.

"You've seen just the tip of the iceberg in these presentations. We can do so much."--Garry Gordon, MD.


"Dehydration is at least 50% of the aging process."--Zach Bush, MD.

"Chronic dehydration is very common."--Steve Hines, ND.

"Adding molecular hydrogen to water--creating hydrogen-infused alkaline water--is an exciting area of research. Hydrogen has been shown to be therapeutic in 150 human and animal disease models."--Tyler LeBaron, executive director of the Molecular Hydrogen Foundation. LeBaron noted that hydrogen infusion of water is well known and accepted in Japan but still pretty much under the radar in the US.

"There's a lot you can do with water. Hydrogen is going to be the next big topic."--Garry Gordon, MD.

"Hydrate by drinking 2 ounces of water every 15 or 20 minutes, all day, depending on your activity level. If you're exercising, every 10 minutes. Drinking a quart of water at a time doesn't hydrate, it just goes straight through you.--W. Lee Cowden, MD.

The Coca Pulse Test

The basic version of this food allergy test was described by several conference attendees: Relax for 5 minutes. Measure your pulse. Eat a food. Stay at the table for 15 minutes. Measure your pulse again; if it has gone up 15 beats or more, you almost certainly have an allergy to that food. If it's gone up 10 to 14 beats, possibly an allergy. If it's gone up 9 or less, probably not an allergy.

The test is examined in detail in The Pulse Test, by Arthur F. Coca, MD (1994, revised ed.). The first edition of the book is available free online at the Soil & Health Library (an extraordinary resource located at; to search titles, go from the home page to "About" and then to "The Library" and scroll down the right-hand column). Another route to the free PDF of the book is via a Google search for "coca pulse public domain."


Cowden said that his favorite type of lithium is Lizyme Forte from Biotics Research. Chandra noted that several good forms of the mineral are available, including Lizyme Forte, ionic lithium liquids, and lithium orotate--all of which, she said, are used at much lower dosages than pharmaceutically prescribed lithium carbonate. When used at low doses, she said, lithium is generally well tolerated and doesn't present anywhere near the toxicity of the carbonate form of the mineral.

Pain Relief

"Gallixa topical cream is the most incredible pain remedy you've ever seen."--Steve Hines ND.

GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)

"GMOs cause leaky gut and antibiotic resistance in everybody who ingests them. We're inundated with these foods."--David Minkoff, MD.

"GMO is the plague of our times."--Jim Lemire, MD.

Two Therapeutic Methods

The King Method, an energy exercise system, was warmly endorsed by several conference attendees. Information is available at The Masgutova Method also won praise; see


Many books received favorable mention at the conference podium, including these:

* TOX-SICK: From Toxic to Not Sick, by Suzanne Somers (2015).

* Radical Healing: Integrating the World's Great Therapeutic Traditions to Create a New Transformative Medicine, by Rudolph Ballentine, MD (2011, 2nd ed.). "This is a great book," said presenter Carol Roberts, MD, "it really woke me up." (Roberts is author of Good Medicine: A Return to Common Sense [2010].)

* Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes, by Neal D. Barnard, MD (2007). "I trained at the third-best endocrinology program in the world," said Bush, "and no one mentioned you could reverse type 2 diabetes. I read this book one night, woke up the next morning, went to the chair of medicine, and said, 'Why didn't I know about any of this?'"

* Oxygen Multistep Therapy, by Manfred von Ardenne (1987, 4th ed.).

* Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins, by Thomas E. Levy, MD (2002).

* Detox With Oral Chelation, by David Jay Brown and Garry Gordon, MD (2009).

* One Answer to Cancer, by William Donald Kelley, DDS (1974, revised ed.). Kelley Is also author of Cancer: Curing the Incurable Without Surgery, Chemotherapy, or Radiation (2000).

* Summary of the New Medicine, by Ryke Geerd Hamer, MD (2000). Hamer's work is fundamental to EVOX therapy, which today Is a major aspect of the company Zyto.

* Grain Brain (2013) and Brain Maker (2015) by David Perlmutter, MD, with Kristin Loberg.

* Gutbliss, by Robynne Chutkan (2013).

* Three recent books by W. Lee Cowden, MD, and Connie Strasheim: Foods That Fit a Unique You (2014), Create a Toxin-Free Body & Home Starting Today (2014), and BioEnergetic Tools for Wellness (2015). (Strasheim is author of several authoritative books on Lyme disease.)

Who Was Li Ching-Yuen?

He was a Chinese herbalist who lived a very long life (perhaps an incredibly long life, according to some sources) and died in 1933. Among his health practices, as noted by Cowden: fo-ti root tea, ginseng, speed walking, reishi mushrooms, gotu kola, rice wine, and daily exercise with qigong and baguazhang.

And Who Is Sarah Kavanagh?

She is a teenager in Mississippi (mentioned at the conference) who read an article in Scientific American in 2012 about the dangers of bromine. (Possible bromine side effects include neurological disorders, reduced fertility, and altered thyroid hormones.) She launched a petition drive at, hoping to persuade PepsiCo to get bromine out of Gatorade. Amazingly enough, soon thereafter, Gatorade removed brominated vegetable oil (BVO) from its sports drinks (although PepsiCo never publicly mentioned Kavanagh). US testing for BVO is "abysmal," says the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the European Union has long banned it. (Incidentally, a 32-ounce bottle of Gatorade contains more than a dozen teaspoons of sugar, according to Internet sources.)

A Powerful Tool

"The most important tool I've ever learned in medicine is Autonomic Response Testing. It allows me to zero in on the core issue right now for this patient."--David Minkoff, MD.

An Inexpensive Light Source That Might Save Someone from a Fall

The topic of sleep was discussed at the podium and in the hotel lobby: the importance of having a completely dark room at night, avoiding placing a clock radio close to the head, and not turning on any bright lights in the night, in order to avoid disrupting sleep patterns. "If you need a light at night to get to the bathroom safely," said one attendee, "it should be a dim red light"--for example, a red laser pointer, available online for $30 or $40, kept on the nightstand.

An Inexpensive Product Mentioned Favorably at the Podium

The Sunpentown Healthy Swing Machine with Swivel Disk (a chi machine): $100.

A Pricey Product Mentioned Favorably

Celergen, a marine cell therapy supplement: $350 a month.

A Very Pricey Product That Got Rave Reviews

The HOCATT Ozone Steam Sauna got serious attention and major praise from a number of conference goers, who lined up to give it a try. It's a modern-day sweat lodge. You sit in it, encased, like you're in an eggshell with doors. It can provide a range of useful stuff all at once--hyperthermia, ozone treatment, electrical therapy, color therapy, carbonic acid treatment, aromatherapy, and other modalities. It's noninvasive and easy to use. It's said to be very helpful for athletic performance. HOCATT stands for Hyperthermic Ozone and Carbonic Acid Transdermal Therapy. The device is manufactured and distributed by Signature Health; the price is in the neighborhood of $18,500.

More Cool Products and Books

Tom Butler and Mark Squibb of the Whole Health Network (and the company LiveO2) presented a talk on oxygenation and exercise-with-oxygen equipment.

Garry Gordon, MD, presented on the preventive benefits of the herb Pueraria mirifica.

Damon Miller, MD, discussed macular degeneration and other retinal dystrophies and mentioned the books Amazing Grace: Autobiography of a Survivor, by Grace Halloran (1993) and The Body Electric: Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life, by Robert O. Becker, MD, and Gary Selden (1985).

E. Michael Molnar, MD, presented on stem cell transplantation. He is author of Stem Cell Transplantation: A Textbook of Stem Cell Xenotransplantation (2006, revised ed.), Forever Young: The Practical Flandbook of Youth Extension, (1985, 2015), and two books published in 2015: Diseases and Genocide Are Not Our Destiny and Treatment of Incurable and No Longer Treatable Disease.

Kyi Smith, DC, discussed cognitive health and longevity; he is the inventor of the multi-ingredient product MemoryWorks and author of Brighter Mind (2007).

Arzhan Surazakov, PhD, presented on the benefits of MIL (magnetic infrared laser) therapy and described a hand-held therapeutic device, the Delta Medical Terminal.


The ACIM gave Lifetime Awards to Victor Marcial-Vega, MD, and David Steenblock, DO.

Don't Forget This...

The value of exercise was emphasized by many attendees. The vast majority of Americans don't exercise regularly, noted Carol Roberts, MD,--a fact perhaps overlooked by some practitioners.

W. Lee Cowden, MD: "Exercise with oxygen therapy--'EWOT'--is one of the best ways to get toxins out. I recommend it for everybody in this room and all your patients."

And, of Course, You Must Remember This ...

"Don't forget the emotional side. Kisses and hugs help people feel better."--David Minkoff, MD.
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Author:Frost, Bob
Publication:Townsend Letter
Geographic Code:1U5FL
Date:Apr 1, 2016
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