Living with Lyme Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and Mold with Dr. Terry Wahls & Dr. Darin Ingels

 In Blog, Diet, Health, multiple sclerosis

Dr. Terry Wahls introduces 2020 Wahls Protocol Seminar Speaker Dr. Darin Ingels.

Listen to this great discussion about how Lyme Disease and mold can undermine people’s health.

Dr. Ingels will go into this topic in greater depth at The Wahls Protocol Seminar and Retreat in 2020. Learn more at terrywahls.com/seminar

Dr. Ingels is a respected leader in natural medicine with numerous publications, international lectures and 30 years of experience in the healthcare field. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in medical technology from Purdue University and his Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, Washington. Dr. Ingels completed his residency at the Bastyr Center for Natural Health.

Dr. Ingels is a licensed naturopathic physician in the State of Connecticut and a licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine in the State of California, where he maintains practices in both states. He is also Board Certified in Integrated Pediatrics through the American Association of Integrative Medicine and is a Fellow with the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.

Dr. Ingels has been published extensively and is the author of two books, The Natural Pharmacist: Lowering Cholesterol and Natural Treatments for High Cholesterol. He has also written a chapter on allergy desensitization for autistic children in “Cutting Edge Therapies for Autism” and is the author of the book, The Lyme Solution: A 5-Part Plan To Fight The Inflammatory Autoimmune Response And Beat Lyme Disease (Avery, 2018). Visit his website at https://dariningelsnd.com/

Read the transcript here:

Terry:
Darren, I’m so glad you joined me today. We’re thrilled to have this chance to chat with you and that you’ll be coming to the seminar. Now, not everyone in my tribe is familiar with naturopaths, so I thought we could start getting a little better understanding of what your training is like.

Darin:
Sure. So a naturopathic physician, our training isn’t dissimilar from what you went through as a medical doctor or what osteopathic doctors go through in their training. The first two years of our medical education is identical. We go through gross anatomy, biochemistry, physiology. I think the biggest difference is when we get into our second two years of school, our third and fourth year. You as a medical doctor, you go into hospitals, you do clerk-ships where you learn OB/GYN and pediatrics and surgery and so forth.

We are really outpatient-based clinicians, so we go to outpatient clinics. We do family medicine. Really, fundamentally I think the biggest difference is really philosophical. Naturopathic physicians come from a philosophy of treating the whole person, using therapies with the least force, least side effects. So we have six tenants of naturopathic medicine that I think a lot of doctors incorporate as part of their practice as well. It’s always looking at, you know, really what is the root cause of illness? We’re not as interested in giving you a therapy that’s just going to put a band-aid on the situation. We really want to get to the root of what’s causing these underlying illnesses, correct it permanently so that people really restore their health.

So at the end of the day, really what we have is a philosophical difference and again, it’s not that naturopaths are against using drugs or surgery, it’s just that there’s a hierarchy and we’d like to use the safest, least invasive therapies first. That’s why we talk a lot about diet. We talk a lot about nutrition. Really these foundational things of health and that if we need to use higher interventions of something like botanical medicine, drugs, surgery, we certainly can do that. But again, we like to start with this foundational stuff first.

Terry:
And for, again, my tribe, this is why for many people the naturopathic physicians were at the forefront of the functional medicine movement.

Darin:
Right.

Terry:
Because they had this much longer history of delving into the root cause and really starting with diet and lifestyle. I’m pleased to say, Darren, I’ve gotten much more excited and enthusiastic about the naturopathic approach to optimizing health in managing many chronic diseases.

Darin:
You know, I’ve got to say, Terry, when I read your book, it’s funny, because if you didn’t put M.D. after your name, you would think that a naturopath had written that book.

So philosophically, we are very aligned in what we are trying to accomplish, but again, it’s just that understanding that real healing doesn’t come from a drug and it rarely comes from surgery. That is to take care of the problem at hand, but to really, again, have this foundational change, that’s going to come from lifestyle management. That’s going to come from diet changes. You outlined it beautifully in your book.

Terry:
Yeah. You know, this really is all about helping ourselves conduct the chemistry of life more correctly.

Darin:
Yeah.

Terry:
Yes, there may be times that there’s so much damage that has occurred, we are going to have to use prescription medication.

Darin:
Right.

Terry:
And there may even be times, I tell people, that yes, it would be appropriate for them to use drug-based modifying treatments for their autoimmune disease. So it’s not that I’m opposed to that uniformly and I’m sure it’s not that you’re opposed to it uniformly, but everyone, everyone with an autoimmune disease should be using diet and lifestyle first. Then when we make a clinical decision, do we need to go further with drug based therapies?

Now, Darin, you have an autoimmune practice. Do you want to tell us a little bit about that?

Darin:
Sure. So my practice, really i’m an environmental medicine doctor by training. I’ve trained with the American Academy of Environmental Medicine that really looks at all these different environmental factors that influence health, so that is diet, that is chemical exposure. It’s things like mold. All these different things we get exposed to can have a negative impact on our bodies and certainly our immune system and when we’re dealing with autoimmune disease, you know, we want to make sure that we’re really getting good control over that part of the immune system.

Darin:
My practice is really centered around how do we help identify what these underlying factors are? What are these triggers for people? Then, you know, we’ve got a lot of therapies at our disposal that can help modulate the immune system in a way even beyond diet and therapeutic lifestyle. We can actually manipulate the immune system in a positive way to basically help make the immune system stronger and healthier.

Terry:
Now, many of our tribe, if they hear the word, “A stronger immune system,” they’re going to freak out, like, “Oh my God, I don’t want my immune system stronger, because my immune system is attacking my brain, my joints, my lungs, my skin,” and yet here you are, Dr. Ingels, telling me I need a stronger immune system. Why don’t you explain what we mean, because many of my folks are now just getting very frightened.

Darin:
Yeah, I really should qualify stronger doesn’t mean that you’re making a stronger immune response. Stronger means that … I should say healthier. What that really means is about immune modulation. If you think of your immune system very simply, there’s sort of the two parts. There’s the one part that directly goes after whatever it sees as being foreign and starts to attack it and then there’s that other part, which is really more antibody driven. That’s what drives allergy. That’s what drives autoimmunity. So for people with autoimmune disease, it’s that part of your immune system that’s really dysfunctional and a lot of people I see who have autoimmune disease, they don’t necessarily get sick more often than people who don’t have an autoimmune disease. That part of the immune system actually seems to work quite well, but it’s this other part that’s really dysfunctional.

When I say make it stronger, what I really mean is that we’re trying to modulate the immune system and essentially turn off that over-expression of the immune system so that the healthy parts are working well, that you can still fight any bacteria or virus that comes along, but that over-expression of really what we call the TH2 pathway or T helper cell 2 pathway, that’s what drives a lot of that autoimmune antibody response and that’s why people often, in addition to having autoimmune disease, they have more allergies and other types of dispositions towards things like mold and food sensitivities and so forth. So ultimately we’re trying to really reel in that part of the immune system.

Terry:
Again, for everyone who is listening here, what Darin and I do is we create a lot more balance in the immune system cascades and so you may have heard of helper cells, T regulatory cells. We’re trying to get a balance between those cells. If we have imbalance, we end up with more autoimmunity. We can end up with more infection or we could end up with more cancers. So we have to have everything fully balanced or appropriately modulated. So diet and lifestyle are key. Darin is certainly very expert in additional modalities. Very wise in terms of herbal remedies, I’m sure, with your naturopathic background.

Darin:
Yeah. So we use a lot of botanical medicine and actually we use a lot of specific types of immune therapy. Immunotherapy is a very broad category. I mean, they use immune therapy in cancer care, but we use it more as a way to help, again, turn off or balance that immune system. Whether it’s to a food, if it’s to mold, if it’s to pollen, if it’s to a chemical. So whatever we can help identify that’s triggering your immune system. When I was at your conference this past July, what I shared with the group is really how different infectious agents can be immune triggers as well.

We just have a ton of data in the medical literature how different viruses and bacteria actually activate the immune system in a negative way. So if there’s a way that we can help, again, kind of reel that in, it makes a huge difference in how people feel. Again, we have a very specific kind of therapy called low dose immunotherapy that’s really designed to target microbes. So if it’s Lyme disease, if it’s Epstein-Barr, if it’s a strep.

Terry:
Strep, yeah.

Darin:
Yeah, you know, there is a way that we can help start again to turn off that reaction to that very specific organism. So you know, part of our workup when we’re working with our patients is again to help identify what that exposure has been and then if we know that they’ve had the exposure and they’re having the symptoms, this is a therapy that we could use to try and help turn that off.

Terry:
Turn that off. Now, when you were with us last time, people really appreciated the conversation about Lyme’s disease.

Darin:
Yeah.

Terry:
Because there is a tremendous amount of or number of people who have an autoimmune disease and also have evidence of Lyme exposure.

Darin:
Yeah.

Terry:
And that is part of their illness. I know you, for a long time, practiced out there in Connecticut.

Darin:
Yeah. I was in Connecticut for almost 20 years and of course for people who don’t know, Lyme disease is named after Lyme, Connecticut. It’s a city, it was about 30 minutes from where I lived. That’s where they first identified this cluster of children back in the late ’70s that were having what they thought was juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and found many years later it was actually caused by this bacteria, which we called Borrelia burgdorferi. Since then, we’ve now learned that there’s many other strains of this bacteria that can cause Lyme disease.

But Lyme disease, for me, again, I had classic Lyme disease. I was treated fairly early, but months later I started relapsing and had symptoms. It took me two years to really feel like I got my health back and then did really quite well for many, many, many years and then went through some life stress and a few years after that developed MS. So my opinion, I think the Lyme set the stage for MS for me. Again, we’ve got some evidence that Lyme can attack certain proteins in the brain that break down myelin. Again, it’s not everybody, but for some people out there, you know, when I see patients specifically that have an MS diagnosis, it’s always one of the first things I look at, because again, there is that correlation with some folks with Lyme being a trigger for MS. Then when we start dealing with Lyme disease, a lot of these MS symptoms do improve.

Terry:
Want to reassure my tribe, you’re in good shape. You are doing well. You obviously look very well and when you were back at our event last year, you looked fabulous and had a great presentation people liked a whole lot. So want to reassure our tribe you’re in good shape there, Darin?

Darin:
I’m doing perfectly great. I’ve got to say, having been at your conference was so inspiring, even for me, as much as I know and what I do, being surrounded by other people who have really implemented everything that you talk about really lit a fire under my rear end and since then I’ve been totally level two, level three, on the Wahls diet.

Terry:
All right.

Darin:
Feel great and actually my fiancee, who is my salad creator, has put together some beautiful salads and we’re incorporating just, again, a lot of colors, a lot of different vegetables and I feel great. You just feel the difference when you’re really eating good, clean, organic food. I mean, I’ve always eaten pretty clean anyway, but this was just one level up from what I was doing. It’s just made such a huge difference, so I’m grateful for sharing what you’ve experienced because it’s helped me personally too.

Terry:
And Darin, I’m so glad you wanted to come back again this next summer. We’re going to have you talk about mold. So want to give the tribe a little sense of why mold is an issue for some folks and what some of those symptoms might be?

Darin:
Sure. Well, when we talk about mold, we really kind of talk about mold in two parts. You know, mold, you can be allergic to mold spores and pretty much no matter where you live in the country, there’s mold. Certainly where you’re at in Iowa, there’s a lot. Any places that get humidity or moisture, it’s going to potentially have a higher mold count. So being allergic to mold spores, that’s an immune reaction to mold, but beyond that, certain mold species, particularly if you’ve ever been in a water damaged building. So if you’ve ever had a leak in your roof, a leak in your basement, a leaky pipe, you know, that stagnant water can actually breed things called mycotoxins. So certain species of mold will make these mycotoxins and then when you breathe them in, the mycotoxins themselves … Think of them almost like chemicals. They can actually be damaging to your brain, damaging to your lungs.

There was a very famous case many years ago with Ed McMahon, who used to be Johnny Carson’s sidekick. He and his wife both got deathly ill and actually almost died from having mold in their home from a botched plumbing job. So, you know, mold, water damage can be really serious business for people and I see a lot of people who have water damage in their home, but they don’t know that they have it and that ongoing exposure at the time, starts causing all these neurological effects.

People can get balance issues, headaches, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, coordination problems, sleep disturbances, fatigue, I mean, gosh, don’t a lot of those symptoms sound like MS and other autoimmune conditions? So you know, it’s just one of those things that we have to check off the list as a possibility and again, for people who know that, yeah, I had a leak and maybe I took care of it, maybe I didn’t, I find a lot of contractors aren’t very skilled at knowing how to properly take care of a water damaged leak. We’re going to talk a lot about how people can identify if there might be water damage in their home.

Fortunately, there’s a lot of testing that’s available that can identify your exposure in your home, but we can also test you and see what your exposure has been. I’ve had patients, whether some of it comes from home, some of it comes from their workplace, some of it comes from their church. So we can measure what your body burden looks like and if we know that it’s high, we’ve got strategies that we can help start to mobilize them, get them out of your tissue. Better for your body, better for your brain. So we’ll talk about some of those different strategies and how to help improve your own health if you’ve had mold exposure.

Terry:
Definitely very worthwhile and a little side bar, you’re probably on top of this. I know many of the tribe are not aware of this. Mold toxins are part of the biochemical warfare agents that have been developed by a variety of militaries around the world.

Darin:
Yep.

Terry:
And so we have known medically for decades about the seriousness of mold toxins as a biohazard and unfortunately, also as an agent of war.

Darin:
Right.

Terry:
So very, very sobering.

Darin:
Yeah. Well, again, I think as we go through our checklist of environmental exposures, this is one of the biggest things that I see with people that can really have a tremendous impact on their health. When you’ve got MS or other type of autoimmune disease, because a lot of the symptoms are pretty vague. This can help [inaudible 00:15:26] whether there’s something else that’s contributing to it, because sometimes we hang our hat that, “Oh, yeah, this is just part of the condition.” Then when we find out, “Oh, no, you’ve got Lyme disease and you’ve got mycotoxin exposure and you’ve got all these other things,” is we start taking care of each one of those pieces. We find that people’s health gets better, better, better.

So often there are other explanations of why people feel the way they feel, and again, it’s just a process of being able to identify what those triggers are.

Terry:
The other thing, again, I want to point out to the tribe is cognitive decline.

Darin:
Yes.

Terry:
Brain fog, more anxiety, more depression. All of these mental health issues may also be a reflection of mold. That’s another reason to think about these things.

Darin:
Absolutely, you bet.

Terry:
Now finally, any comments about the folks that came to the seminar, what kind of transformations that you were hearing from people who had attended?

Darin:
Yeah. I mean, people … Well, of course everyone I talked to, of course they were just so excited to have this information and I think what’s really cool about a lot of what you talk about in the seminar is like, look, this is something you have complete control over. This is not you dependent on another doctor. This is not you having to go out spending a ton of money. A lot of these things you talk about are things that anybody can implement at any stage of their life. So no matter where you are in your process, no matter what your state of health is, this is something you can change tomorrow.

Darin:
Granted, we understand that making diet and lifestyle changes, because there’s a lot of other issues, emotional and otherwise, around that, it’s not easy, but you have a choice and you have control. So for me, again, it was making that choice that I want to eat healthier than I currently do and I did it and I feel great for it. Anybody can do that. There’s nothing special about that.

Terry:
You can do that.

Darin:
It was so cool just to hear people having that sort of awakening moment of like, “Wow, I actually have a lot of control. I don’t have to keep waiting for my neurologist to tell me it’s okay. I don’t have to wait for a prescription.” It’s like, I can go tomorrow to a health food store. I can choose to buy vegetables. I can increase my intake of greens and it’s not going to break your piggy bank. People were really excited to have that plan, that information. It’s just empowering when you start putting people’s healthcare back in their own hands and sometimes out of the doctor’s.

It’s like, look, we have our place. We’d be out of business if we didn’t, but we can give that control back to the patient and they’re going to drive a lot of their own health.

Terry:
And to reassure them, it doesn’t have to be an either or.

Darin:
Right.

Terry:
You don’t have to decide like I’m going to do the Wahl’s protocol or I’m going to do conventional drugs.

Darin:
Yeah.

Terry:
Everyone should be doing diet and lifestyle and of course I think it should be the Wahl’s protocol, but we all want to address diet and lifestyle and then you could make a separate clinical decision about what’s appropriate for you, given your situation in terms of drugs.

Darin:
Right. Well, and as I was talking to people who had been repeat attendees, who had already kind of been on the program for awhile, you know, some of these people I talked to, their health had improved so much they were either off their medication, they’d reduced the amount of medication. So their quality of life with or without medication was still better. So who doesn’t want that? Who doesn’t want a better quality of life?

You’re right, this is not an either or and even in our world, if we’re using herbs or homeopathics or whatever, even natural therapy, it can all be done in conjunction with diet and lifestyle. But again, as a naturopathic doctor, I mean, this is our core thing is that you’ve got to start with that foundational stuff and so no matter what your health status is, what else you’re doing in your therapy, you can still make these diet and lifestyle changes and it’s certainly not going to have a negative impact on your health. It can only improve it.

Terry:
Absolutely. Well, Darin, I am so glad that we met and that you came last year and even more glad that you’re coming back again this year. I look forward to having you there. We’re going to be singing and dancing, once again, so I look forward to doing some singing and dancing with you once again. It’ll be fun.

Darin:
It’ll be great. We’ll have a great time.

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