As doctors, we always like to think that we will be totally successful with each and every patient, if not at first then somewhere down the line. Sometimes our egos can interfere and prevent this from actually happening. We need to be extra careful to remain humble and secure in the realization that we know a lot but not everything and that hopefully every day we learn something new which enables us to become better doctors and better people. I had the great fortune of meeting Dr. John Bastyr when I was a naturopathic student. To me, he modeled the perfect behavior of a doctor, extremely knowledgeable yet even more humble. No one walking into the dining room of this hotel would have ever thought that the older gentleman sitting at this table of young, energetic future whiz kids was actually the leader of their pack.
Vicki was one patient who fit this model of not being helped initially, but way down the road, while I thought I knew all the answers. A divorced 48-year-old woman with a 16-year-old daughter, Vicki had a total body rash so severe that she was contemplating suicide. She had just watched an episode of my favorite TV show of all time, Northern Exposure, in which one of the characters had moved to Alaska to live in an artificially created, environmentally safe bubble that was built specifically for him because he had started to react to almost everything in his home and work environment. She reported that she felt just like Mike, played by the actor Anthony Edwards. Her rash actually worsened slightly when she was at home, but was still severely present when she was out and about.
Looking at her, I saw a rash that contained very red papules, some of them oozing and others crusted over with scales. The rash was all over her body except for her palms, soles, and face. She reported that it was extremely pruritic, which caused her to vehemently attempt to scratch it. She also said that the lesions tended to have a burning feeling. She had become extremely self-conscious about it and was happy as a clam that she worked for an Internet start-up where the majority of her work was done from home. She was also sending her now-driving daughter out to do the bulk of the shopping.
The rash had begun several months ago after an antagonistic break-up with her ex-husband and the subsequent move into a house with her daughter. It started around both ankles and slowly over time spread up her legs to her abdomen, back, and upper extremities. Oral and topical prednisone helped to just keep it at bay and allow her to not kill herself. She had seen several doctors who had tried various meds with no results. A friend had suggested a "Paleo diet," which she had scrupulously followed for a month with no improvement
Allergy scratch testing suggested that she had multiple allergies to cats, dogs, various chemicals, and most trees and flowers. Her personal medical history wasn't remarkable except for seasonal hay fever and multiple ear infections during the first 5 years of her life. She had to have tubes placed into her tympanic membrane when she was 4. Even her TSH was low, 1.4. I thought that there might be a connection with her emotional state and the stress increasing her reverse T3, leading to the skin issues. She didn't really have any other solid hypothyroid signs or symptoms, but then the perfectly simple patient rarely walks into your office!
I started where I always do with a new patient: food intolerance testing. Also, because of her recent emotional breakup, I was thinking of an emotional tie-in to the food allergy. (Further below I will describe how I do this NAET/emotional testing, in another patient.) She tested positive for wheat and soy. Both also had emotional components that appeared to be related to her recent marriage dissolution. I had her stay away from those foods and also used EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) to work on her emotional well-being. In addition I gave her handouts and advised her where to look for hidden sources of wheat and soy.
I expected to see immediately positive results given the success that I have had in prior skin cases utilizing NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques) and emotional tie-ins. She came back 2 weeks later, and her rash was exactly the same, maybe even a little worse. I questioned her about the rigidity of her food avoidance. She impressed me with what she ate, more importantly with what she didn't eat, where she bought her food, and how she prepared it. Also, she had even begun to talk to her ex-husband and was trying to stop blaming him for everything that happened. She felt as if she was making substantial emotional and dietary progress but had very little to show for it in terms of her skin condition.
My recommendation was to stay the course for 2 more weeks because sometimes dietary interventions don't give immediate results. She agreed to my recommendations. What I didn't know was that her best friend told her about vitamin D. Now, I should have seen this coming. She was very pale, sunburned easily as a child and adult, and hadn't been outside for months because of her skin condition.
She had started taking 5000 IU/day of vitamin D3, 2 days before our visit. She came back 2 weeks later and her skin was 25% better. I was amazed and felt great until she told me about the vitamin D. I still felt great for her but was wondering whether the food intolerances also played a part. I had her come back in another 2 weeks to see if continuing the D would continue the improvement.
Two weeks later, she came back severely depressed because the improvement had plateaued. Fortunately, I must have put on my thinking cap that day or my guardian angel told me to ask her more about her new house, I can't be sure which. She told me she had found the house very quickly because of her need to quickly leave her husband. The house sits in a gully on the north side of a hill in the middle of a watershed. It is an older home that does not have wood heat but propane. She didn't want to spend a ton of money so hadn't been heating it as well as she could have. I asked her about mold in the house. She reported that she always had to clean mold off of the ceilings in the bathroom and her room, which was on the south-facing side of the house. This was February, and she said she hadn't seen the sun for what seemed like months. Also she had a basement, but her landlord kept it locked because he stored some of his old stuff there. He had given her a break on the rent for this.
Now, that fate factor came into play again. Three months prior, I had attended Gordon Medical's seminar with Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, who is "Dr. Mold." He claims that 25% of Americans can't process mycotoxins from mold and that exposure to mold can make these people extremely sick due to their inability to remove the mycotoxins from their bodies.
Her landlord let her look into the basement. She basically found what she termed "mold central," all kinds of weird-looking mold. She moved out that day, found another home that wasn't in the shade, and almost immediately started to notice changes. A great line of Jeff Goldblum's in the movie The Big Chill is, "Ever gone a week without a rationalization?" Not only did her rash begin to improve, but she noticed that her severe brain fog was also now improving. Her supposedly good appetite doubled, as did the size of her stools. Basically, she had found the source of her problems! She was also effusive with her praise, as I had encouraged her to pursue the mold option. In reality, I did very little except continue to advance my medical training, which allowed me to think of mold. May I always be this fortunate!
Another patient I had was a 46-year-old male lawyer who came in with chronic grass and tree allergies. They had started as a young adult and had progressed to the point where his cough was so consistent that he was beginning to cough every time he attempted to speak. Nothing he was being given worked even a little bit – over-the-counter antihistamines, oral steroids, cough syrups, and so on. He had heard about NAET, which I happen to also use. He came to me to see what I could do. NAET is a method that utilizes muscle testing to identify the food/allergen intolerance and then acupuncture or acupressure massage to remove the intolerance to the food.
Now, I'm lucky I had heard about NAET from Carolyn Reuben, LAc, who works in Sacramento, California, using EFT and NAET. She originally turned me onto the NAET training in Los Angeles. Fortunately, I also learned about emotional NAET from her. In this case, you are not identifying just the food intolerance the person has but also the emotional event in their life that triggered the intolerance or is presently contributing to it. I tested this patient and found nuts to be the main allergen, with an emotional component of guilt. We talked further about his guilt and came up with an interesting set of circumstances. He was a high-powered Internet executive who was working 12- to 16-hour days. He also had two kids, 6 and 8, plus his wife was a grade school teacher. His guilt was wrapped up in the fact that his wife worked full time and that she was the one who was actually raising their children. I didn't have time to perform the allergy elimination technique at this visit, but I recommended that he attempt to assuage his guilt. I asked him if he could leave work two days/week for a few hours and pick up his kids, thus allowing them time with their dad and his wife some free time for herself. Of course he said yes, and of course that was the last time I saw him.
When we don't get lost in our egos, we can learn a lot from our mistakes. Hopefully we don't make too many of them and do not repeat them. I had originally felt like Barry Bonds after he hit one of his steroid-induced homers into McCovey Cove! I had definitely hit the nail square on the head with this patient. What I hadn't anticipated was the emotional reaction that I had extracted from his deep subconscious. From this experience, I learned to never, no matter how clear the indication, delve into deep emotional treatments in the first few visits. I need to begin to establish a bond with the patient and then make emotional inroads with them if that is the path that presents itself.
I fared much better with another patient who presented with what she had been told was seasonal asthma. She was a 58-year-old female who had begun to notice a tightening in her chest during the height of pollen season in Sacramento 5 years prior. Each year the tightening was becoming more severe to the point now where she had been given a bronchodilator and a steroid inhaler to ameliorate her symptoms. They helped about 50%, and she was becoming nervous and extremely fearful of having a full-blown attack that she couldn't control. One of her first statements was that stress seemed to make the attacks worse. Upon further questioning, her life seemed to always have some sort of stressful component to it, going all the way back to her childhood.
Comments like that turn a certain type of light bulb on in my head. I was taught in NAET training to always diagnose and treat the food intolerances before the environmental ones. So I tested her. Amazingly enough she was positive for only one food, eggs. Given her oral history of stress, I tested for an emotional component, and of course there was one, which turned out to be helplessness. Unfortunately abuse, whether it is emotional, physical, verbal, or any combination thereof, is rampant in our society. Growing up, she only saw her father at dinner, as he worked long hours seven days a week. She had always been slightly overweight her whole life. He basically made fun of her at dinner every night. Of course, his favorite food was eggs, which were present at the meal in some form most every evening.
I treated her egg intolerance with the helplessness at its core. Her response was little short of amazing. Her bronchoconstriction completely cleared up, even though it was the middle of pollen season. She also related to me that she had been consistently having nightmares related to her childhood and that these had also stopped. I know we pay far too little attention to the emotional aspects of our patients' lives. This is the source of a large amount of their physical ailments. To really complete their cycle of healing requires us to look below the surface of their actual physical complaint and see what is lurking in the shadows. It isn't always pretty or easy, but the lasting results will usually pay dividends way past anything that Wall Street has to offer!
Jim Cross, ND, LAc
My understanding of the reason why NAET (Nambudripad's Allergy Elimination Techniques) or emotional NAET works is based on quantum physics and the minute electromagnetic energy created when an electron moves. Since everything is made of electrons as well as protons and neutrons, then everything has an electromagnetic field. Fields are harmonic with each other or dissonant. When two fields are dissonant there are consequences, such as muscle weakness which can be tested by applied kinesiology as discovered by George Goodheart, DC. Needling 4 Gates for a simple food allergy (or 4 Gates + both Heart 7s in an emotional NAET treatment) resets the body's biocomputer to allow the correct message to enter and reset the body's homeostatic processes. The treatment is telling the body that this food or food + emotion isn't really dangerous and that the body doesn’t need to be reactive to it. It is similar to tuning an instrument.