A Deeper Dive into the Key Concepts

We believe that many, if not most, psychiatric symptoms are a result of a misdirected immune response. We also are of the mindset that addiction is either a symptom of or an independent autoimmune disease. We have found that taking the time to present these scientific concepts in an understandable way helps tremendously to follow through with treatment.

What happens when we start eliminating stressors within the body through nutraceutical treatment? When the body kills off large numbers of pathogens too quickly, a toxic response is to be expected. This response was first identified in the late 1800s by two German dermatologists for whom it is named: the Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction (or herxing, in short). Herxing, also referred to as die off, can happen at any point during treatment—at the beginning, middle, or toward the end. In general, herx reactions are more common and more intense when using conventional pharmaceuticals than when using herbs. With nutraceuticals, the microbial die-off happens more gradually, and the immune response is less intense.

What happens during the die-off process? The immune system reacts to the toxins and endotoxins that are released when large amounts of pathogens are being killed off and the body cannot eliminate these quickly enough. In fact, some reactions to antibiotics that have given them a bad rap have actually been because of die off. The most challenging obstacle to recovery by far is herxing. Without this die-off process, however, there is no true healing. That is why it’s important to expect the reaction and to prepare for it.

How can I help my body get well? You can start treatment as far from major obligations as possible—just in case your body responds strongly. Expect and prepare for this necessary part of the long healing process.

If I’m feeling worse, does it mean I’m getting worse? No. Herxing can make you feel like you are regressing when, in fact, you are getting better. This can happen each time you’re starting a new antimicrobial agent—transfer factors, tinctures, antibiotics, antivirals, or antifungals. Some changes can be felt during cytokine modulation as well.

If the symptoms that led you to seeking help are, in fact, a result of a chronically activated immune system being unable to reach and destroy the stressors, then boosting the immune system with nutraceuticals so that it can successfully destroy the stressors can cause a spike in herxing, resulting in an exacerbation of symptoms.

Die-off doesn’t sound like a good thing. True, but it is good. The die-off symptoms are proof that treatment is working, that the treatment is seeking and destroying the stressors. Your stressors won’t go down without a fight, so die-off is like the stressors’ final hoorah. You won’t only feel bad, though. Since treatment is fighting different battles at the same time, you could feel better and worse at the same time.

How can you feel better and worse at the same time? In areas where the battles have been won, you will feel better. In areas where battles are still underway, your body will be reacting to the die-off. Understanding why these idiosyncrasies occur can be the vital difference between adhering to the program and becoming well or abandoning treatment and suffering the consequences.

What if I choose to quit treatment? Once you have started, keep going. You must push through the unpleasant herx process to get to recovery. If you stop treatment too early, then you run the risk of being in a dangerous situation. The bacteria/infection can recolonize at a much quicker rate and create additional symptoms and/or increase current symptoms. Compliance is the most important part of this process.

This sounds really hard. We won’t lie. It is hard. But it is worth the temporary discomfort to get to a place of wellness again. Our goal is to bolster your immune system health slowly so that the symptoms are manageable. Our skilled professionals will map out a plan so that the transfer factors and targeted microbial balancers safely boost the immune system’s health so your body can better attack pathogens.

Will I have to do it alone? No, we will support you. Managing die off under the supervision of an expert will increase your chances of a full recovery while decreasing overall expense and time invested. At What’s Wrong Wellness, we are experienced in helping to lessen herx reactions and supporting your body during treatment. However, if you want to truly get better, it is your responsibility to understand and embrace what you are going through.

What if we increased the doses? Would I get better faster? No, higher doses won’t get you through treatment faster. In fact, doubling up on the dose doubles the herx and may make you want to stop treatment too early. It is imperative that we take it slow, especially when psych and addiction issues are present.

How long will the process take? It will take a minimum of a year to recover. Most clients begin to feel better much sooner, but stopping too soon will cause a relapse and possibly even a worsening of the overall condition. We take a long-term view of healing. Therefore, going at a manageable rate ensures the best possible outcome.

What are some of the symptoms of the herx? Possible symptoms of include, but are not limited to:

Physical symptoms Joint pain Muscle aches Nausea, diarrhea, constipation, gas Itching and/or rashes Symptoms of a head cold (sore throat, coughing, sneezing, hoarseness) Symptoms of the flu (muscle aches, congestion, fever, chills) Nose bleeds Cravings (sugar & alcohol) Numbness and/or tingling Burst blood vessels in the eye balls Increased heart rate Increased blood pressure Angina (heart pain) Old injuries flare up Feeling like your brain is on fire
Psychiatric symptoms Mania Depression Lethargy and/or exhaustion Labile emotions Irritability and/or rage Brain fog Suicidal ideation Anxiety Oppositional-defiant tendencies Obsessive-compulsive tendencies Irrational fears Insomnia Loss of focus Tics
Sexual symptoms Increased or decreased sex drive Vaginal itching or burning Vaginal discharge Vaginal odor Irregular bleeding

Note: Since symptoms of the disease—including psychological psychiatric symptoms—can become worse on the path to recovery, if you are struggling with addiction, it is imperative that you understand all of the commit to communicating with our wellness coach often while also relying on outside support.

Why does herxing take so long, and why is it so intense? The organisms infect the body at a young age and keep spreading into adulthood. Just as it takes years for the infection to spread, it takes a lot of time to untangle and evict these organisms. Patience and education are key. Recognizing how it happens can help you understand how it is treated.

Are you saying healing is a process of unwinding the symptoms? Seeing the healing process as an unwinding of symptoms for each organism or disease process is helpful. Do not be surprised if on the route to wellness you experience symptoms that you hadn’t felt in a long time. The issue isn’t coming back, it is merely uncovered before being removed. (In other words, the infection had never left—but in the process of healing it finally leaves the body.)

Can you give me an example? You bet! Let’s say that as a child, “Joey” struggled with ear infections due to various strains of streptococcal pneumonia/Group B strep. Since this particular organism was not cleared entirely, it continues to overtake his body producing faulty symptoms—symptoms unrelated to the original infection—until it makes its way to the area of the brain that is responsible for focus. As a result, Joey is diagnosed with ADHD and put on Adderall. Instead of killing the organism that had caused the lack of focus, Adderall stimulates the release of norepinephrine which indirectly manages the symptom.

A few years later, Joey starts exhibiting symptoms of anxiety, possibly because his body is getting nervous that this foreign invader is slowly taking over. His doctor decides that Joey is probably nervous about school and sends him to a psychologist who diagnoses him as having generalized anxiety disorder.

As time goes on, the organism continues to colonize until it finally reaches the area responsible for obsessions. Joey develops symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and based on mainstream medicine’s protocols, he could have been prescribed Luvox to control the symptoms. Instead, he gets labeled as a weirdo by his family and peers. Joey’s confidence is shot. When some friends offer him hydrocodone, Joey gives it a try. The feeling the hydrocodone gives him is unlike anything he has ever felt—not because it’s that good, but because it suppresses his immune system. While taking hydrocodone, his body has a break from the constant attack of antibodies on his brain cells, which feels good.

Joey becomes obsessed with having that feeling over and over, but he is not sure if it’s because of his OCD or because the drug actually makes him feel better. Teenage Joey ends up in rehab for a short stint, where he is put on Suboxone.

Because his immune system has been distracted for years trying to fight the main stressor—the streptococcal pneumonia/Group B strep—that has been occupying his microbiome, it would have been easy for Joey to pick up other pathogens. Joey’s fortunate, though, and he doesn’t contract anything else. For a while, life seems to be going really well.

That ends when Joey’s a senior in high school. His entire hockey team contracts walking pneumonia from a team member. Everyone else recovers with no noticeable fall out, but not Joey. His body has been building antibodies for years to fight the hidden infection. Now, these faulty antibodies attack with greater vengeance than ever, and new symptoms begin to show up—breathing issues, migraine headaches, eczema, and joint pain.

These symptoms would drag on for years, and visits to various specialists result in a prescription for an inhaler, Triptan for the headaches, a topical steroid for the eczema, and Mobic for the joint pain. But until the original infection is addressed, this would go on. As an adult, when Joey finally meets a practitioner who can help rid his body of the stressors of the original infections—clearing the streptococcus pneumonia as well as the mycoplasma pneumonia (walking pneumonia)—Joey experiences the returning of many of those symptoms. His challenges with focusing, his compulsions, and his addictions would show up again for a short period of time as those tissues are being cleared from his microbiome.

These symptoms feel a little different on their way out, though. However, the unwinding of symptoms is a common phenomenon, and based on the awareness of this process, we can get a good idea of Joey’s story.

Obviously, having allowed these organisms to colonize for decades would require time to unwind. Eventually, though, Joey is alleviated of the majority of his symptoms. He no longer needs all the medications he has been taking for years.

Determined to pursue complete wellness, Joey uses biofeedback to rewire his neuronal pathways to get rid of any remaining symptoms. He adopts a healthy lifestyle that includes regular workouts, and he follows a high-protein diet that includes lots of complex carbs, fruits, and vegetables.

When Joey gets married, he and his wife go on to have healthy children. Since he is healthy, Joey doesn’t pass along any of his organisms on to his children. Had he not been cleared of the organisms, it is conceivable that his infected path may have eventually led him down a path of continued destruction, even incarceration or premature death.

Would any of this have been Joey’s fault? We think not. While the road to healing involves the dying off of organisms, it is worth the hard work.

Can some organisms cross over from the blood to the brain? Yes, some organisms can indeed cross the blood–brain barrier. While it was previously believed that most organisms could not cross the blood–brain barrier, newer research disproves that theory. The migrations of bacteria, viruses, and the immune response they elicit are responsible for the onset of these clear-cut psychiatric symptoms. Since the nasopharyngeal passages are all connected, regardless of what orifice the pathogen enters through, it can spread. As a result, a sinus infection or an abscess in the front teeth can result in symptoms of depression, or an ear infection left untreated can result in anxiety disorder.

How about autoimmune encephalitis (AE)? Significant problems arise resulting from AE. We consider various scenarios when addressing chronic health-related issues, particularly when it comes to psychiatric symptoms.

I’m a visual learner. Please explain in visual terms what happens during treatment.

As the bacteria are killed by the antimicrobials, they erupt into hundreds—even thousands—of tiny pieces.

During treatment, the goal is to kill off pathogens that are infecting the cells throughout your body. (Pathogens are organisms that can cause disease, e.g., viruses and bacteria.) The process of killing off pathogens can set off a massive inflammatory cascade since the immune system sees the tiny pieces of dead bacteria etc. as foreign bodies and treats them as toxins against which the body needs to be protected. This is described as a misdirected immune response.

The misdirected immune response triggers the faulty symptoms—i.e., symptoms unrelated to the original infection—that have evolved over time versus the traditional immune symptoms. This can lead to a cytokine storm.

Cytokines?! What are they? Cytokines are tiny chemical messengers made by white blood cells to fight infections. They are secreted when the immune system is stimulated by germs, toxins, oxidizing agents, other cytokines, other agents, and insomnia. They act as chemical messengers helping to coordinate and regulate the body’s response to infection (invaders) and also to trigger inflammation.

Cytokines are responsible for a number of functions such as increasing the effectiveness of antibodies, increasing active white blood cells to fight infections, recruiting white blood cells to the location of an infection, turning on white blood cells to fight infections, and decreasing viral and bacterial replication. The appropriate level of cytokine activity results in healthy and accurate responses to foreign invaders/pathogens.

Too many cytokines can cause pain, sleep disturbances and insomnia, muscle wasting, anxiety, decreased brain function, decreased hormone production, cognitive issues and brain fog, increased fatigue and exhaustion, depression, decreased function of various organs throughout the body leading to many other symptoms and medical problems. A cytokine storm is basically a worsening of many of the symptoms that brought you to seek treatment in the first place.

A lack of sleep triggers an increase in cytokines. Infection-fighting cells also decrease when sleep deprivation is involved. An increase in cytokines and a decrease in infection-fighting cells make it harder for your body to clear pathogens. In other words, sleep is key to successfully completing this process of healing.

You can be prepared for this treatment by making sure you get good sleep and by managing herxing.

What die-off support strategies can I use? Since herxing comes and goes and is difficult to predict and monitor, it is crucial that you take control of your own die-off. Sometimes the herx can hit within hours of taking tinctures and herbs, while other targeted agents can take up to two weeks before die-off symptoms show up. Each time you begin a new antimicrobial agent or increase the dosage of antimicrobials you have been on, you will likely experience new or an increase in existing herxing symptoms. There are ways you can support your body to deal with the die-off.

Benadryl: Taking Benadryl 30 minutes before transfer factors, tinctures or anything that can cause a die-off response reduces the immune system’s reaction to the agents. This step is a game changer. (Taking the Benadryl after you have taken the agents is not as effective.) If taking Benadryl in the morning makes you sleepy, shift the bulk of your die-off generating agents to an evening doses so your can take the Benadryl before taking those supplements.

Activated charcoal: This binding agent is the single most effective way to reduce the amount of toxins released due to microbial death. While being treated, it is important that you take activated charcoal every 4–6 hours throughout the day (up to three times in a 24 hour period). Do not wait until the die-off symptoms show up. Take the charcoal two hours after taking supplements and/or prescriptions, else it will bind to them, preventing uptake into the system. Once your die-off has decreased, you can decrease the use of activated charcoal.

Pulse dosing: If the die-off becomes overwhelming, even with Benadryl and activated charcoal, you can switch to taking whatever is causing the die off every other day—known as pulse dosing. After a week or so, you can increase the dose to two days on and one day off until you have worked your way up to daily usage. You can do the same with dosage increases. For example, if the increase to two multi-immune is too much for you, you can pulse between one a day and two a day until you are up to two a day consistently. The same pattern can be used when increasing to three a day.

Reduce dosage: If you are struggling with herxing, you can reduce the dosage for a few days before gradually working your way back up to the target dose.

Exercise: During die-off, it may feel like exercising is impossible. However, working out in moderation is one of the best things you can do. Sitting still or laying down for hours is horrible for the detox process. Exercise can be as simple as going for a 15-minute walk a few times a day. Strength training is also vital. Muscle contractions force the lymphatic fluid through the system and aids in the speed of toxin removal. Do not overexert yourself, though. Your body is healing. Be kind to it.

Epsom salt baths: Soaking in epsom salt can draw out toxins from the body and balance the body. It also allows the body to absorb magnesium, which aids in healing. To promote detox, add two cups of the salt to a bathtub of warm water, and soak for at least 12 minutes.

Nutrition: Some of the organisms you are trying to get rid of can cause you to have sugar and/or alcohol cravings. Giving in and feeding it simple sugars and excessive amounts of alcohol can promote the growth of the very pathogens you are trying to eliminate. We recommend following a Mediterranean diet that is low in sugar, dairy, and processed meats and high in low-sugar fruits, vegetables, and olive oils. As the flora rebalances itself, it is common to deal with yeast infections. Diet—especially reduction in sugar intake—plays an important role in controlling candida overgrowth and yeast infections. Apple cider vinegar, olive oil and coconut oil can also help in controlling the yeast overgrowth.

Molecular hydrogen: Molecular hydrogen (two atoms of hydrogen combined into one molecule: H2) is a powerful antioxidant that selectively targets the most toxic of free radicals, the hydroxyl group. By oxidizing free radicals in the system, H2 offsets some of the effects of die-off. And because of its small size, H2 can move anywhere in the body—including across cell membranes, the blood–brain barrier, and even into the mitochondria—the cell structures that produce energy.

Vitamin C: Liposomal vitamin C allows for a higher dose to be readily absorbed. As most vitamin C doses are low and poorly absorbed, the only adequate high dose oral delivery is through liposomes.

Glutathione: Glutathione (GSH) is required to maintain normal immune function. More than 100 years of research and 81,000 scientific papers have established GSH as one of the most important protective molecules in the human body. Low GSH has been blamed in neuronal, hepatic, renal, pulmonary, cardiac, musculoskeletal, pancreatic, gastrointestinal, visual, auditory and infectious diseases.

Pacing: You won’t win a trophy for making yourself miserable by increasing dosages too fast. Doing so won’t make you better any faster. Going too fast causes an unhealthy overload on an already taxed system and creates a cytokine storm. You can push yourself, but if you become unable to function, go back to the dose at which you were able to function.

Allow symptoms to pass: Many of the symptoms you may experience during herxing are fleeting. If one hits out of the blue, take a few deep breaths and rest assured that it will pass. For instance, while your knee may be hurting, it doesn’t mean that your knee is injured—it’s just die-off from that location. Once things have calmed down, think through whether you’ve missed any of the die-off support strategies. In 99% of the situations, we find that a client has missed one of the strategies listed or increased dosage too quickly.

Ibuprofen: During stressful times, it is imperative to get the hormone release and brain inflammation to calm down. Take 600mg of ibuprofen during flares to calm down.

It would help if I heard about someone’s experience with herxing. Sure! Here’s a first-person narrative by a client of ours: “My one son has Downs Syndrome and autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and had been treated about five years ago. He was doing very well cognitively and socially, but I could see his obsessive-compulsive (OCD) behaviors starting to resurface, so I realized that we needed to restart treatment for our family. Although I was educated about herxing, I was really shaken during the process.

My husband started treatment first because his depression was all consuming, and in order to survive as a family, we really needed to have him functioning well. Through the first months of treatment, I saw him deal with waves of intense anger, depression, and fatigue. Once he had calmed down and was able to do things, I started treatment along with our son who was 10 years old at the time.

Because I had just seen my husband go through the die-off process, I was able to understand what was going on and could extend some grace toward myself. My husband also was able to support me and was understanding of what I was going through. I had the same symptoms my husband had, but on top of it, I had headaches, muscle pain, nausea, stomach issues, and hours of brain fog. It was hard for me to do even simple things like making tea or a simple breakfast for everyone. Once I got some herx support in place, I was able to function normally.

What was the hardest for me was seeing my son re-experience issues that we had put years of time, energy, and money into fixing. He was angry, defiant, and sometimes violent. It was like all the anger he’d exhibited in the past showed up in a couple of days rather than being spread out over months. He was having trouble getting words out, was antisocial, and was stimming more than usual. When I called his name, it was like he didn’t even hear me.

He was also reverting to behaviors long gone, like dumping things out all over the floor including boxes of toys, cups of tea, etc. And he would do things like say that he was a particular animal and then make animal noises in response to questions.

He couldn’t follow simple directions. My husband and I tried not to panic; we just let go of any expectations of him. We stepped back and kept him as calm as possible until he was not only cognitively and socially back to the way he was before treatment—he is doing even better than before, responding in ways he had never done before.

We still have a ways to go with treatment, but we are committed to take deep breaths and give each other space if/when any symptoms reappear. Our youngest child has cerebral palsy and post-traumatic stress disorder. He is more emotional than the rest of us, and we will start his treatment once some of our herxing out of the way before dealing with what surfaces for him.

I want to know exactly what organisms I have and what we are clearing. It is not possible to know exactly which organisms we are working on clearing. The chronically ill have far more out of balance than what shows up on the Zyto scan or any medical test. Testing for every possible organism is impractical and cost prohibitive.

The presence of several organisms and toxins can lead to multiple systemic infectious disease syndrome (MSIDS). These insidious and relentless illnesses typically can include lyme disease, mycoplasma infections and other co-infections, viruses, parasites, fungal infections, allergies, heavy metals, compromised immune function, and many other factors are typically found together and lead to very challenging health puzzles.

The primary reason for treatment failure is undertreatment on the part of the provider. We err on the side over being overly thorough and have gotten excellent results. Using a shotgun approach, we cover a wide range of likely suspects, which is far more effective and makes it more probable that we will reach the best outcome.

Once I have finished a prescription, does it mean the organism has been cleared? Because of the location of many of these organisms and the way they work, the microbial death and the increased toll on the liver to filter the toxins will wax and wane during recovery. Those battling deeply embedded infections with stealthy bacteria like lyme, mycoplasma, or even problems with yeast overgrowth will see a spike in herxing during the first month or so with the addition of each new and different transfer factor. Die off increases because targeted transfer factors tag infected cells for deletion by the immune system. Therefore, it is vital that you listen to your practitioner in terms of what to take and how to take it.

I still don’t get it. Can you explain it using just one organism? Let’s take mycoplasma, for example. Skin cells turn over an average of every 28 days. If mycoplasma has infected the skin cells and the tissues are infected down to the basal layer (seven layers down), it may take 196 days to clear the organisms from those tissues alone (i.e., 28 days x 7 layers). Once the top layers of cells die, the infected second layer now becomes the top layer, and the process is repeated until the tissues have been cleared. As each layer is targeted, the mycoplasma is released into the bloodstream where an antimicrobial will kill the organisms so they don’t infect other tissues in the body.

Once I get through the first few weeks of taking a new agent, can I stop taking the supplements that help manage die-off? Die-off is a fluctuating process. The cellular turnover rate of each organ controls the waves of die-off that will hit during the course of treatment. It is impossible to forecast the rates as they differ for each client, so staying on the supplements throughout is important. Cellular turnover is the main pathway to achieving optimal functioning (homeostasis) in your body. The rate of cell turnover varies widely from one tissue to the next and is highly unpredictable for many reasons.

The infected tissues all need to be cleared as much as possible. In doing so, symptoms arise based on the location of tissues that have been affected. For instance, if these infected tissues happen to be in the front of your brain where emotions are controlled and you had struggled with psych issues in the past, you will struggle with psych issues during the clearing process. If the symptoms were primarily in the joints and you were diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, then you will likely experience a temporary return of those symptoms during the clearing process. During the process of clearing these infected cells, there will be waves because as the cells die off, the next layer of infected cells will now be on the top. It takes time for the cellular turnover to present each layer of infected cells to the agents for clearing. For instance, liver cells take between six months and a year to completely turn over. Fat cells can take up to eight years, while bone cells can take ten years. Since it isn’t practical to stay on antimicrobials for that long, depending on the infection, you may continue to be immunocompromised, but to a lesser extent.

I learn better through stories. Can you explain this in story form? Say for instance a carpenter is sanding down a valuable piece of wood that has a poisonous fungus inside the bark that has penetrated several layers. He has a lot of layers to remove before he gets to healthy wood. Each time he sands a layer off, the dust needs to be destroyed immediately or the spores could float in the air and infect other pieces of wood in the shop. It is a long, tedious and strategic process.

The fungi-infected wood is like an organ or tissue in our body. And to make matters more complicated, you will never know when the carpenter is coming in to sand the next layer. So, as the shop owner, you must always be prepared by continuously running the air purifier—in our case, binders—to help minimize die-off symptoms so the dust will not contaminate the other items.

The spores want to spread, though, so they will put up a fight on their way out, which is why it’s so important to see treatment through to the end.

Antimicrobial agents and transfer factors are all I need to get directly to the stressors, right? Not so. Biofilms and abscesses are two examples of phenomenons that keep antimicrobial agents and transfer factors from getting directly to stressors. So, if those are present in the body, they must be cleared first.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that 60% of all human infections and 80% of infections that are recurrent or unresponsive to medical treatment are attributable to biofilm colonies. Biofilm communities can be up to a thousand times more resistant to antibiotics than free-floating bacteria.

So can’t you just find if biofilm is present? It’s not not simple. There are several barriers to biofilm detection:

  1. Bacteria within the biofilm are tucked away inside of cells of a tissue, which makes it impossible to reach by swab, resulting in false negatives in both the nasal cavity as well as stool samples.

  2. It is nearly impossible to obtain a biofilm sample from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The only procedure currently available requires foreknowledge of exactly where the biofilm is located, which is impossible. Even if you were able to locate the biofilm, there is no current procedure to remove biofilm from the GI tract.

  3. Since biofilm bacteria are difficult to culture, it’s unlikely a sample can be obtained. On the off chance that it can be, the culture may produce a false negative because the microbes shift in lowered nutrient conditions.

How then do you know if biofilm is present? Once antimicrobials and other possible treatments have failed again and again we must assume the presence of biofilms. The only way to clear the bacteria hidden underneath is to use enzymes to break down the matrix and to follow with the appropriate antimicrobial treatment. We err on the side of addressing biofilms early in our protocols because most of our clients have already experienced many treatment failures.

And abscesses? You mentioned they can also keep antimicrobial agents and transfer factors from getting directly to stressors. Can you say more? Abscesses have some uncanny similarities to biofilms. When an abscess is formed, it becomes difficult for antibiotics to penetrate through its wall into the center, where the bacteria are located.

An abscess located at the root of the tooth or between the gum and tooth, for example, will create a pocket of tissue filled with pus caused by a bacterial infection either in the mouth or throat. Dental abscesses do not go away on their own. Without proper dental treatment, they can grow and last for months or even years. In some instances an abscess will cause little to no pain.

In one case, we found an abscess above the eye tooth of a 42-year-old male who suffered from clinical depression, suicidal tendencies, and substance abuse disorder. We started treatment with the multi-immune transfer factor and followed with an antimicrobial tincture, both of which caused severe herx reactions that had to be monitored closely. A few weeks into the tincture therapy, a tooth injured in childhood suddenly became obscenely painful.

Once the tooth was removed and the abscess came out, drainage continued for two weeks. The infection was suspected to be several decades old. This had caused a misdirected immune response and symptoms of depression. Next, we treated his additional stressors based on the diagnoses of his other family members, which included ulcerative colitis, type 1 diabetes, and asthma. We suspected that mycoplasma pneumonia and coxsackievirus B, at the very least, were also playing a role in the progression of his illness.

Teasing out these issues is the difference between staying sick and getting well.

I’ll be well after 9 to 12 months of treatment, right? Not necessarily. Based on the symptoms at the beginning of treatment, how long you’ve been affected, and the number of stressors identified, it could take two to three years until you are well.

Infected cells collectively make up infected tissues. For example, in as little as three hours, mycoplasma can infect host cells and leave little parts of itself on the host cell wall surface. The immune system sees those parts of the mycoplasma and the cell wall components as one, erroneously creating antibodies against the body’s own tissue. This phenomenon is known as molecular mimicry, the leading theory in autoimmunity.

Even though our goal is to clear the body of all the infected cells and tissues, it is very hard to completely clear the body of confused antibodies. So, it is imperative for you to be mindful and take care of yourself. When you notice symptoms returning, it can be a signal that you may have been exposed to an organism for which your body had created confused antibodies against. When that happens, you can simply adapt your lifestyle so as to keep those antibodies calm. It is a small price to pay for the increased quality of life you will experience.

Can’t I just do intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) treatment or take Rituxan or psych meds to be cured? You can take them, but you won’t be cured. Your symptoms may simply subside temporarily since IVIg, Rituxan, psych meds, pain meds, and many other pharmaceuticals are all immunosuppressive.

Suppressing the immune system’s response to an organism may provide temporary relief, but it does not stop the progression of the colonization. Abstaining from food or drink that feed these pathogens will definitely slow their growth, however, the disease will continue to progress unless stopped through the appropriate treatment. As long as we continue to use immunosuppressants as a society, the organisms will continue to flourish and be passed down from generation to generation. Passing along organisms become even more complicated as blended families are formed.

My child is the only one in our family who is sick. Could we just treat him/her? It is highly likely that most, if not all, of your family members are carrying the culprit organism. To illustrate, here’s the family tree of one family we treated.

It is true that when/if a member of an infected family moves away, their immune system can attempt to get the organisms under control. There is a much better chance of this happening when the family member isn’t constantly being exposed. This explains why many rehabilitation facilities have taken the position that the family system is at fault for the addict. It is somewhat true but not in the way they see it.

The same thing can happen when a child is removed from his/her family and placed into the care of the Department of Children’s Services. Living with a foster family may make it appear as if the child is doing better due to the child’s ability to begin fighting the infection without consistent reexposure.

Of course, multiple factors are at play, and what we are proposing is what we believe to be the missing link in many of the seemingly unsolvable puzzles.

Aren’t all flare ups the same? Shouldn’t they all be treated the same way? No, flare ups can be caused by different factors, depending on your infection. It is important to learn what can cause a flare up so you can work to prevent or minimize them.

  1. Flare up due to co-infection: The symptoms of such a flare up include intensified fatigue, joint pain, swelling, stiffness, flu-like symptoms, GI distress, exacerbation of existing psych symptoms, the appearance of new psych symptoms, increased and unbearable cravings for the drug of choice, and a recurrence of usual flare symptoms.

    Onset: Symptoms follow after increased stress on your system (mental, physical, poor diet, lack of sleep, toxin/bacterial/viral exposure). Symptoms are not related to starting a new therapy.

    Tell-tale signs: Runs a normal course of a sickness.

  2. Adverse treatment reaction: The symptoms of such a flare up include an allergic-like reaction (hives, itching, skin rash, wheezing, runny nose)

    Onset: Symptoms develop within about an hour of taking a new medication or herb.

    Tell-tale signs: Your symptoms get better after taking an antihistamine .See your doctor as soon as possible if you experience signs or symptoms of a drug allergy. Call 911 if you experience signs of a severe reaction or suspect anaphylaxis.

  3. Food sensitivity: The symptoms of such a flare up include fatigue, joint pain, muscle pain, general achiness, brain fog, irritability.

    Onset: Symptoms will occur within hours or a couple of days after an offending food has been consumed.

    Tell-tale signs: Symptoms will get better when you eliminate the food(s) from your diet. Doctors can order tests, but best results are shown with an elimination diet.

  4. Hormone fluctuations: The symptoms of such a flare up include irritability, fatigue, GI distress, and food cravings.

    Onset: Symptoms for women start around ovulation and may last until cycle starts.

    Tell-tale signs: Symptoms will lessen after the ovulation cycle.

  5. Emotional triggers: The symptoms of such a flare up include increased emotions (sad, angry), avoidance, shutting down, or rage.

    Onset: Symptoms can occur immediately, within hours, or days later.

    Tell-tale signs: Symptoms will improve when the situation has been addressed and the system has had time to calm down.

    • Most people do not consider an emotional trigger in the same way as a hormonal trigger, but the mechanism is identical in terms of causing a short flare up. This is because an emotional response to a situation creates an increased level of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the bloodstream causing a phenomenon known as chemotaxis.

  6. Physical triggers: The symptoms of such a flare up include pain disproportionate to the event or lasting longer, psych or emotional symptoms seemingly not tied to the event.

Aren’t antibiotics dangerous? Won’t they wreck my gut and make me resistant to antibiotics? We have been inundated with information leading us to believe that antibiotics are bad for us. However, mainstream medicine ignores intracellular infections (the root) and treats only coinfections. As a result, the intracellular infections are, in fact, getting resistant and not the actual person. By using supplements—layered or alone—we address the coinfections. Also, antibiotics don’t target all of the good bacteria at once. Again, the use of appropriate supplements should alleviate this concern.

Until appropriate courses of antibiotics are prescribed, it will continue to appear as if antibiotics are the problem when it actually is the fault of misinformed practitioners. Still, we don’t use antibiotics much anymore, not because we believe they are bad or don’t work. We simply believe we can achieve the same—if not better—outcomes with nutraceuticals.

Do you have any other helpful hints for giving or taking pills?

How about some advice for moving forward? Typically at about the six month mark, clients begin to realize that something is different. I (Elizabeth) remember when this happened to me. It felt like an awakening of sorts, but it was also sad and scary—my brain wasn’t functioning like I was used to! It was like the infected me had died, and I was responsible for the rebirthing of who I wanted to be. I still had the same traits, but they were no longer out of control.

You may feel like your personality is changing, and that it is normal. Some clients find it hard to get past old thought patterns or may have settled into a victim role. We have learned to adapt to our symptoms and live with them, but we have to let them go and be prepared to replace them with something else. It’s good to become aware of this shift and to allow and encourage it to happen. You have to start behaving and thinking as if you are better.

Set goals at the beginning of your journey. How would you like your life to improve? Include small things that have been unattainable for whatever reason. After six months, or earlier if you feel better, gently push yourself to reach a goal on your list so that you know that you are moving forward.