English: Photographic general view of the Wayside Inn, South Sudbury, Massachusetts, circa 1935, Historic American Buildings Survey, The Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Wayside Inn, Sudbury Massachusetts, November 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Nathan Morris, M.D., is a board certified family practitioner. He is a founding partner at Indian Creek Family Health and practices functional medicine at his satellite office, Good Medicine, in College Corner, OH. Dr. Nate Morris was a guest in town recently while attending the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society (ILADS) annual conference held in Boston in November.
This interview begins at the historic Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, in Sudbury, Massachusetts, where we have just ordered lunch for a table of 6, and have been seated by the fireplace. Dr. Nate has ordered a Coow Woow. Pronounced “Cooh Wooh”…as in Yahoooo! Right, Dr. Nate?? The Coow Woow is America’s first cocktail served at America’s oldest Inn. Yes, even George Washington stayed here. It’s not the fire keeping Dr. Nate warm. It’s the Coow Woow. Bet it was the same for George.
LW: First and foremost, Dr. Nate, it’s my pleasure to reveal the exact Coow Woow recipe for this historic, might I say epic, ginger infused experience that you so appreciate. I mean, who knew you were such a history buff? Oh, wait, it’s more about the brandy, and less about the history, isn’t it? Well, it’s good stuff, and here it is!
To enjoy a Coow Woow, mix:
1. 2 parts white rum
2. 1 part ginger brandy
3. Pour over crushed ice
6. Serve in a cocktail glass
7. Enjoy the alcoholic spirits and the colonial spirits of the Inn
8. Start talking and let the conversation roooooooll!!! Isn’t that right, Dr. Nate?
Dr. Nate: Yes! Thank you for the Coow Woow recipe and it is so great to finally meet all of you! I cannot express how grateful I am for your hospitality. I am stimulated and excited by our conversation. I mean, I get to nerd out with Kelly Heim, PhD! Thanks for allowing me the opportunity to visit you all. And I would truly love to help in anyway with you and yours son’s Lyme issues. And to contribute some sound advice for all the LW followers out there.
LW: You are Coow Wooonderful. And that’s not the Coow Woow talking. And yes, readers, the Kelly Heim he speaks of is none other than Professor Polyphenol, featured in a previous oddball humor interview that you all seemed to find amusing (what does that say about you, Whisperers?!). Dr. Nate, thank you. You are as sincere as you are funny. And smart. And crazy. What do you have against mops, anyway?
The Plumber (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dr. Nate: That’s funny, LW. I take it you are referring to a previous comment I made about my practice. My practice is built upon the belief that medicine should not be a pharmaceutical biased, disease identification model. It should rather be focused on identifying the cause of disease and repairing this cause rather than just treating the symptoms of disease. For example, if your sink is overflowing, which is better, a plumber or a mop salesman? In the same way, functional medicine, on which Good Medicine is based, strives to be the plumber and fix the sink rather than making money selling mops. It’s with this belief Good Medicine was established.
LW: There will be no mops here today. As you have licked that Coow Woow cocktail glass dry. And most importantly, there will be no mops used in your approach to treating lyme or other chronic diseases. This is why I adore and admire you. Tell me, as the plumber then, what IS your approach to fixing a very sick sink. That is clogged. Broken. Gurgling. Leaking. Rusted. Hardened. With Lyme.
Dr. Nate: LW, Initially, it’s ALL about the GALT and the gut. GALT stands for Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue. That’s where immune activation, inflammation control and healing take place. The GALT is actually a portion of the immune system located in the gut. Actually, 60-70% of immune tissue is in the small intestine and determines 99% of our immune response usually. This is where nasty invaders like bacteria can be stopped before entering into circulation or paradoxically our gut can think we are being invaded with a “leaky gut” and mount an immune response (unnecessarily) to the food we eat.
LW: GALT it…Get it? “Got it”… “GALT it”? Anyhoo. I can blame my stupid humor on lyme brain. But seriously, that is a solid and practical approach. You also say you can help your patients many times for no more than $2.50 per day. Is this how you do it? By supporting the GALT before recommending many of the other items we typically find as part of a lyme protocol, including Samento, Banderol and Byron White formulas? If so, how DO you support GALT?
Dr. Nate: Yes, I strive to keep my cost for most patients at no more than $2.50 per day, when on a maintenance regimen, but when treating Lyme initially this may go up to $5-$6 dollars a day. It could be much more expensive but by addressing the basics of gut restoration then you can use less supplements to support the immune system. My recommendations for supporting the GALT are simple but effective and might include various combinations of the following: vitamin A, olive leaf, arabinogalactan, glutamine, fish oil, probiotics, curcumin, artemesia, garlic, phytostanols, colostrum, and nondairy immunoglobulins. The whole idea is to help the immune system, specifically the GALT, become more active. The immune system can be a lyme-kicking machine when you activate those natural killer (NK) cells, specific cells within the immune system that fight foreign invaders. I do check CD57 levels in my lyme patients periodically, after focusing the treatment protocol on supporting the GALT, to determine if the body seems to be clearing the disease better.
LW: Cool beans. How else?
Dr. Nate: Well speaking of beans, of course the right diet plays a BIG part in maintaining healthy immune function in the gut. Gluten-free diets. Dairy-free diets. Eating whole, unprocessed, organic foods. These approaches are all key. Allergenic foods, bacteria, and meds like antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, can cause leaky gut. A leaky gut is like a leaky sink, creating a mess and even damage. My practice focuses on this kind of dietary and nutrition counseling… Does all this answer your question…about how to “fix the sink” rather than buying a mop?
LW: Yes. But I’m hungry for more. Can you elaborate on the damaging role of gluten and dairy on the gut, GALT, and overall immune health?
Dr. Nate: Think of it this way. Gluten causes damage and opens the holes in the gut. Gluten then gets through the cracks and leaks into your system. Causing leaky gut. And inflammation. And an overactive immune response as your body tries to kill the foreign invader, in this case gluten. Can I give you a little history lesson, because I am so inspired by this historic setting…and beverage?…Historically, wheat had been 97% starch, 3% protein. 50% of that protein was comprised of gluten. By the 1870s, hydridized wheat had been introduced, a wheat with a protein content of 26% compared to the 3% it was previously. That’s almost a 900% increase in the amount of gluten. This “superwheat” made for better baked goods for the American palate. But it also made for leaky guts! And allergic reactions!
Gluten-Free, Vegan Ukrainian Christmas Eve Main Course (Photo credit: Canadian Veggie)
LW: Good thing George was not around for the hybridized wheat. Would have been terrible if he had a leaky gut!
Dr. Nate: Yes, it would have! Now, another point I need to make is that you need bacteria to properly digest gluten. Antibiotics, which many lyme patients take, kill bacteria, even the good kind in your gut. This, then, affects one’s ability to digest gluten. Making it all the more important for lyme patients to avoid it.
LW: You know what I’ve always wanted? A gluten-free vegan Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner. I’m not Ukrainian. But I am random, obviously. HA! But seriously, would go great with the Coow Woow. And what about dairy? You know, “glutens number one hombre”?
Dr. Nate: Yes, you literally took the words right out of my mouth. Not about the Ukrainian vegan gluten free dinner…that is random…But I DO refer to dairy as glutens number one hombre! Dairy, like gluten, is very hard to break down. Dairy is homogenized, and pasteurized, which breaks protein down into inflammatory molecules. It makes for inflammatory milk! Raw milk is better, but not for everyone. Of course there are so many alternatives now, like soy, almond and coconut milks. So much gentler on the gut and GALT!
LW: Hmmm. Would you say Professor Polyphenol is your number one hombre!? Any other gluten hombres?
Dr. Nate: Yes, LW, just like Professor Polyphenol is one of my number one hombres! Well, another gluten hombre that I spend a lot of time counseling my patients on is….sugar. In any form! You DON’T want to feed bacteria or yeast in your gut with sugar!
LW: Okay, next question. Going in a different direction. But still not using a mop. You mentioned it is critical to know your environment. Specifically, your risk or likelihood of mold toxin exposure. Why?
Dr. Nate: Mold toxins cause similar immune suppression as Lyme. Twenty-five percent of the population is sensitive to mold. I’ve treated Lyme patients whose immune systems were handling the disease just fine until their bodies became overwhelmed by exposure to mold. You can’t improve your Lyme symptoms if you don’t resolve underlying immune suppression due to mold. In fact, mold toxin exposure can also suppress CD57 numbers just like Lyme does so if exposed to mold your numbers will be down even if you are doing a good job with treating the Lyme. There are tests you can take and labs you can use to determine your exposure to mold toxins. They include the ERMI test from Mycometrics and ESML labs, which tells of your home’s mold burden. There are also genetic testing that tells of your vulnerability to mold exposure, which involves HLA DR testing from LabCorp, and then a qualified physician to interpret this test. It is discussed in Ritchie Shoemaker, MD’s book “Mold Warriors”.
LW: Thank you, very valuable advice! Actually, I was just at my naturopaths office yesterday and she ordered the HLA DR genetic test for me! I will soon know if mold toxins are playing a part in my inability to make progress with my remaining lyme symptoms despite treatment for several years. Speaking of valuable advice, what was the most valuable or exciting information you walked away with from the annual ILADS convention? How to get at those damn persisters in the biofilm? Rad cyst-busting protocols? What?
Dr. Nate: I think the biggest thing I walked away with is that we must approach this disease as if we are playing cat and mouse with it as it very effective at hiding. This includes using cyst busting and biofilm busting drugs like Flagyl and Plaquenil with other antibiotics. It seems that Lyme does not become drug resistant like other bacteria but instead it becomes good at hiding by forming biofilms and cysts and becoming inactive (the persisters) so that antibiotics cannot “reach” it. When the antibiotics are gone then it re-emerges if the immune system is weakened. This is why doing “pulse therapy” where short antibiotic holidays are taken may be effective in the long run as the Lyme thinks the “coast is clear” and comes back out to “play” and wham you hit it again with antibiotics. It also makes sense why a active immune system is so important for long term successful therapy so it can take over this job from the antibiotics.
LW: Okay, now on the flip side, were there any developments that you learned of at ILADS that disappointed or discouraged you in your quest to help patients?
Dr. Nate: I don’t think so. I realize this is a really tough disease that has numerous aspects that we have to address from many different angles. I think I was more encouraged this time, than previously, that more doctors are starting to put the puzzle together and are coming at it from different angles. I think the Functional Medicine approach will be key as we address all the issues that co-exist with Lyme and actually help it manifest. Gluten, mold, heavy metals, poor sleep, excessive stress, and the list goes on in regards to what weakens the immune system and “exposes” us to active Lyme with an unhealthy gut being one of the most important starting points. It is my opinion there are a lot of people with Lyme who do not manifest symptoms and I think we have the most to learn from them. I suspect the unifying factor with these people is an uncompromised immune system from the above factors. Antibiotics alone will not solve chronic Lyme.
LW: Dr. Nate…it seems that our immune system can be balanced and activated to sustain the fight with lyme and keep Borrelia at bay. You have convinced me that one of the best ways to do this is to support the gut and the GALT. And I don’t think I am doing enough to do that. I have not put enough focus on repairing my gut and supporting the part of the immune system that resides there. I assume this means you have accomplished your mission to get this point across to me? I also assume that you want another round?
Dr. Nate: Yes—Borrelia can be suppressed and its impact lessened. And yes, it all starts with supporting the GALT….Now, as much as I agree that the Coow Woow is the most amazing cocktail I’ve ever had, I actually can’t have another. It’s just too powerful. Is this how the revolution was won? Or celebrated? Wow! Potent stuff!
LW: Thanks, Dr. Nate. This world needs more brilliant, creative, genuine, passionate, spirited, dynamic, “gutsy” docs such as yourself. I thank you for your time and your work as a clinician and researcher. I understand now that your approach to treating many conditions and chronic diseases is to treat the gut first. Including depression, fatigue, allergies, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The gut is where it all begins. And hopefully for many people suffering, where it all ends, with your help. Cheers to you and everything you do. And cheers to Coow Wooooooow toooooo!! To learn more about Dr. Nate and his practice, visit www.goodmedicineonline.com.