Suzanne Somers Discuss Toxic Mold With Dr. Sponaugle
s I watch the horrible aftermath of the victims of Hurricane Sandy,I know from my own personal experience that flooding leaves behind an enemy so dark and treacherous that few people understand the far reaching devastating effects. My husband and I have personally have been affected by black mold, a condition I was unaware of when I moved into a leased house after my home burned to the ground several years ago. It was a beautiful home that we leased; glass, spectacular views, space. Luxurious… is how you would describe it, so beautiful it helped ease the pain of losing all our belongings to the fire.
A year after we moved in, both my husband and I began to have health problems. At one point a fungus attack put me in the hospital for six days, horribly misdiagnosed as cancer, until it was discovered to be mold fungus. I did not connect mold with my home. Around the same time my very healthy husband started experiencing hair loss, red irritated eyes, and a sinus and fungal nose infection that wouldn’t go away. We both started having GI tract problems; bloating, yeast, candida, and cramping.
It wasn’t until I was interviewing Dr. Rick Sponaugle of the Florida Detox & Wellness Institute that I started piecing together the puzzle that had been eluding both of us.
We had mold. A professional remediator came to our home to test and found standing water all over a lower floor that had never been finished. Black mold was crawling everywhere, including into the air-conditioning and heating vents so it was blowing into all the rooms.
We had to move. And detox…
In walks Dr. Rick Sponaugle of the Florida Detox &Wellness Institute who has successfully treated over 2000 patients who, unknowingly, were suffering from Mold Toxicity.
This week on The SUZANNE Show, we discussed the dangers of mold and I wanted to get more detailed information to pass along to you in my blog from the preeminent expert in the field, Dr. Sponaugle.
It happened to her and took away her quality of life during fun childhood times when all her fourteen-year-old friends were enjoying normal lives. Instead, Violet was battling an enemy she could not understand. It was heartbreaking to watch and not be able to help. I have asked Violet if she could tell her story in her words, of her journey and the cascade of bodily discomfort and brain disruption that resulted. To say/ love Violet is an understatement. I was anguished watching her go through this horrific ordeal. To hear her tell it will help you to understand what you might be experiencing, or perhaps what someone in your family is going through.
SS: Thank you, sweet Violet, for sharing your story. You are sixteen years old, but because of what you’ve been through, you have the wisdom of someone twice your age.
How old were you when you realized that something just didn’t feel right in the way your body was working?
Violet Somers – Granddaughter of Suzanne Somers – Thanked Dr. Sponaugle With This Framed Photo of Her Celebrating Her Recovery at the Beach!
VS: I was around thirteen; I only remember that it was an age where I didn’t feel like I could eat anything I wanted anymore and look the same way every day. I couldn’t depend on my body feeling right and I couldn’t depend on my stomach not being bloated. I was also starving … I would be so hungry. As soon as I stopped eating, I would be starving again. It would happen after every meal. It was an insane feeling. I didn’t seem to be in control of myself; I could never get enough. For me it felt like the world was ending. I felt like I wanted my life to be over. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I was filled with the feeling that everyone was going to hate me and that the worst thing in the world was going to happen. It’s a horrible and awful way to feel. I felt completely out of control.
SS: Did you talk to anybody about it?
VS: I was too embarrassed, because I felt it was something that I did to make this happen. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t function normally and I didn’t want people to know that I was having trouble thinking. So I withdrew because I didn’t want to see anyone until I looked and felt the· way I wanted to. I stayed home and slept all the time.
SS: You must have felt so despondent. It’s a lot of stress for a teenager to handle. I remember you were so concerned about your looks changing. What were you seeing?
VS: When I would look in the mirror, it looked like my face had turned gray. My face was puffy. I also gained a lot of weight. I could put on fifteen pounds so easily. When I would starve myself, I could lose it, but then when I went back to eating I would put on ten pounds in a week. That’s why I got so scared of food.
SS: So now you’ve discovered that you not only have food issues and food allergies, but then you found out you also have Lyme disease. How do you think you got Lyme disease?
VS: I went on vacation with my friends to their house in Nantucket. One day I noticed a mark on my leg. It looked like a bull’s-eye.
SS: You mean kind of like the Target brand logo?
VS: Yes. They took me to the clinic and called my mother and told her it was a Lyme-tick bite and that the only treatment was antibiotics. So I took them. A couple of months after the Lyme diagnosis, I started noticing that my face was very oily, which was extremely embarrassing. I would go to class and at the beginning of the class I would go to the bathroom to blot my face, and then two minutes later it was really oily again. It was just another part of my body that was out of control.
SS: Who could you talk to about this?
VS: I could talk to my mom. We talked a lot about my depression. That’s all I wanted to talk about … Why did I feel so sad?
SS: Of course. You went from an idyllic life, a safe life, with perfect health and a slim, trim dancer’s body; and then everything changed. Suddenly you are never feeling well, you are having trouble thinking, plus you have unbelievable fatigue, your face is like an oil well, and you are gaining weight at an alarming weight. I’d feel sad too.
Then I told you about the Sponaugle Wellness clinic in Florida. Doctors there seemed to be dealing with your type of issues, so your mother decided to call and find out what they were doing for people like you. Was that the turnaround?
VS: Yes. Dr. Sponaugle sent lab forms and after he had all my lab work back, he kept e-mailing my mom and saying all these things about my condition. We both thought he was crazy because we had never heard of this syndrome before. He would use huge words when talking about Lyme and say that it wasn’t gone. In fact, it was nowhere near gone, even though they had already given me antibiotics. He suggested that I needed to come to his clinic for a few weeks.
SS: How did you feel about that?
VS: Well, it was hard. I had to leave school and my friends and be gone for several weeks. But I wasn’t happy at school; I kept feeling sick and I didn’t want my friends to see me. So it seemed like the only thing that might help me.
SS: Tell me about being in the clinic and what that was like on a daily basis.
VS: We stayed in a hotel and went to the clinic every day like a job. And it was. My job was to get well. I started getting IV drips of different natural detox substances: glutathione, vitamin C, and a lot of other things. Dr. Sponaugle also gave me a drug to help replace the dopamine in my brain that my brain wasn’t making because of all the toxins in my system. I learned about my syndrome, that the toxins were leaking out of my weak digestive system and making their way to my brain, upsetting and stopping my hormone production; these things that were causing the cravings I had been having for food and the binge eating were because my brain was wanting to get a “dopamine hit.” Also, as a result, I was not making serotonin and that was what was making me depressed.
SS: That makes sense. Serotonin is your feel-good hormone, and if you weren’t making hormones, that would also add to your depression. You had a real whammy: no dopamine, no serotonin, food allergies; you didn’t even know about mold allergies yet, and then the big one, Lyme!
VS: Right. On the second or third day I was there [in the clinic], all of a sudden I started talking to my mom saying things like: “Mommy, how was Catholicism formed? Maybe we should go to church Sunday. Want to go on a hike? Can we go to the beach tomorrow?”
SS: You mean you were starting to be able to think again and these were the first questions popping into your head?
VS: Yes. I realized that for two years, I couldn’t think! I had thought I was losing my mind.
SS: So what did that mean to you that you were asking these questions?
VS: I don’t want to analyze it too much, but in that moment it felt like the best feeling of my life. Just to experience normalcy again. I didn’t realize I had been in this kind of space without thoughts. I was starting to feel normalcy again. Then I got scared.
VS: I had the feeling of fear that this normal feeling was going to go away. When I was at the clinic, I found I not only had Lyme but also I had mold. I now know that mold is what made my digestive system inherently weaker, which is why I had food allergies in the first place.
SS: The puzzle was starting to piece together?
VS: Yes. And then when I found out that it was the antibiotics that could destroy my digestive system and make it even weaker, it was hard.
SS: Well, yes, you are a kid and when a doctor tells you this -is the treatment, you do it.
VS: Right. But for me antibiotics were ultimately the wrong thing. I didn’t know that I already had mold and food allergies and that the antibiotic was going to make it so much worse.
The first three weeks at the clinic I just felt that I was trying to heal. That wasn’t too horrible of a feeling, but it definitely took a lot of determination to wake up each day and focus on healing. I just wanted to get better.
SS: Of course, you wanted your life back again.
VS: Yes. I told Dr. Sponaugle to do as much as possible with as much power as he had in his arsenal because I wanted to get better as fast as possible.
SS: So you decided, as they say, to “bite the bullet.”
VS: I guess so. But it created a lot of anxiety. We were bringing up the toxins and it made me feel crazy. But I kept on … I embraced as much detox as he could give me because I wanted to get well. I wanted to be well more than anything, and it was the only thing that mattered.
SS: Did you miss your friends?
VS: Yes, but not like you would think. I missed them but didn’t want to see anyone until I was all better.
SS: That’s so sad. I feel so badly for you. What did you feel like physically when you were going through all of this detox?
VS: I felt like I had the flu: I had headaches, the nausea was real bad, I threw up in the car on the way there a couple of times. I had unbelievable fatigue and deep depression. The depression and the anxiety made me so scared; I talked to Dr. Sponaugle about it. He reassured me that this was supposed to be happening and it was part of the detox. He also explained that the mold allergy had made me much more susceptible to the Lyme. Like a person who didn’t have mold or allergies wouldn’t have been hit so bad by a Lyme bite. A person without these issues might have a much lower chance of having such a severe reaction. Because of the mold, the food allergies, and my already weakened digestive system, I also found out another thing; I carry the gene for the mold allergy and that made me much more susceptible to all of it. Some people get Lyme and it doesn’t bring_ them down like it did for me, but I had all these other things going on.
SS: Right. Our family carries the HLA gene, which heightens people’s responses to toxins. So how long did you stay in the clinic and what was it like when you went back to school?
VS: I stayed in the clinic for six weeks, although the doctor wanted me to stay longer. He said I was much better but I wasn’t well. But I wanted to go back home. I was so happy to see everyone and so happy to be feeling better than before when I left school.
SS: I love you, Violet. Thank you for sharing your story. Today when I am with you, my heart soars with happiness to see you well and functioning normally. I am very proud of you, and I also think you are very brave. Your story is going to help so many.
VS: I hope so. I now know, if l choose the wrong food, I am going to have a setback. I look at food as the battery for my body; it’s what makes it run. If I want it to run in top form, then I have to put top-quality food in it … getting well just takes a lot of patience. I love you, Zannie.
As you’ve just read, the journey to wellness not only involves the affected child but also the entire family. I have asked my daughter-in-law to explain the trauma and unbelievable stress placed on parents trying to unravel the puzzle of fixing and healing a child or children made ill by today’s mystery illnesses that are chemically induced. Caroline is a magnificent woman: unbelievably smart and capable, beautiful, and an incredible wife, mother, homemaker, and businesswoman. She is also executive vice president of our company. I love her like my own and also have a fantastic mother/daughter/business relationship with her. But over the years while going through this horror, it was painful to watch Caroline change from an upbeat, happy-go-lucky, positive person to a mother in constant distress. Her mood changed, her face became serious, and no one was able to comfort her. Her focus, and all she wanted, was wellness for her girls. Tax-sickness is a family disease and has serious ramifications for the whole household.
A Breath of Fresh Air | Dr. Rick Sponaugle teams up with celebrity health guru Suzanne Somers to educate Americans about the dangers of mold toxicity.
My husband, Alan, had a constant runny nose and runny eyes; I developed Candida and intestinal discomfort, which didn’t make sense because our food choices are so healthy and our supplementation regimen so vigorous. We knew we were reacting to something in our home, so Dr. Rick Sponaugle of the Sponaugle Wellness Institute did some serious blood testing. That is when he discovered that several kinds of mold had invaded our bodies.
Suzanne Somers (SS): Thank you for your time, Dr. Sponaugle….Environmental medicine has emerged, why is there a need for it?
Rick Sponaugle (RS): So nice to speak with you, Suzanne. Environmental medicine has emerged as a new medical specialty because there is a drastic need for it in America. At last count, American industry has manufactured over 81,000 synthetic chemicals since 1930. We are exposed to these toxic chemicals on a daily basis. In your book, “Sexy Forever” – Shed the Toxins, Shed the Weight – you did a splendid job of exposing the myriad of toxins that American industry has placed in our food and water supply.
SS: Let me play Devil’s advocate; why do we care?
RS: The majority of these industrial chemicals are fatty in nature, called “lipophilic.” Every cell in our body has a fatty membrane, kind of like the outer shell of each cell. These membranes are made up primarily of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats, the good fatty acids; these good fatty acids make up the cell membrane of brain cells, heart cells, liver cells, muscle cells, skin cells etc.
Problematic is that these industrial toxins – Benzene, Toluene, pesticides, food additives and xeno estrogens like BPA, PCB and Phthalates, to name a just a few, being lipophilic or fatty in nature, freely move through the fatty membranes of the body’s cells, migrating to and depositing in, the fattiest body tissue. Because our brain is the fattiest organ in the body, consisting of 60% fat, every decade an ever-increasing number of Americans suffer from neurotoxicity- the excessive accumulation of environmental toxins in the brain.
These fatty toxins actually move into the linkage between omega 3 and 6 fatty acids causing our brain cell membranes to become stiff and less compliant, this disallows fluid movement of our brain’s messengers, brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin, to effectively travel between brain cells. Furthermore, the brain chemical transporters residing within the cell membranes, become “too toxic” to properly transport brain chemicals from one brain cell to the next. This is causative in many depressive and anxiety disorders- these patient’s don’t have a Paxil or Zoloft deficiency.
SS: So the harmful fatty acids make a membrane that is not fluid, more like an eggshell and too sick to move brain chemicals between brain cells? And what is all this ‘n-toxication’ doing to us? It certainly can’t be good.
RS: Oh Suzanne, it’s extremely problematic. In my opinion, neurotoxicity is the primary cause of the three-fold increase in depression, anxiety, insomnia, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia we have seen since 1980- and the 10 fold increase in Autism, you know the gene pool hasn’t changed that much in just 30 years.
Let’s give your readers a great visual that explains in just one brain region, our pleasure center called the nucleus accumbens, how neurotoxicity causes both depression and obesity. The first slide depicts the nucleus accumbens, our hunger and reward center. The second slide depicts two brain cells inside of the nucleus accumbens.
It is the activation of the D2 receptor in our nucleus accumbens that gives us pleasure and satiety – this negates our need to over eat. PET brain studies have proven that eating triples D2 activity in our hunger center for 90 minutes. Think about this Suzanne, every extra bite of food gives our reward center another “dopamine hit.”
Neurotoxic patients suffer diminished release of dopamine and thus decreased D2 activity. This not only causes symptoms of depression, it causes a lack of “satiety” so they eat something every 90 minutes as an attempt to self-medicate. They often say, “I’m eating out of boredom” -boredom and lack of motivation are symptoms derived from an underactive reward-hunger center.
SS: I wrote about our individual ‘toxic burdens’ in my book “Sexy Forever” last year; that the more toxins you take in, the more fat is needed for storage. People are perplexed when they can’t lose weight by dieting alone. Easting foods laden with chemicals and preservatives is going to stall your ability to lose weight, is it not?
RS: Absolutely, two great questions in one. First, obese people carry more fatty toxins than non-obese people because fatty toxins deposit in fat. The heavier toxic load diminishes brain function in obese people. A recent brain imaging study revealed that the brains of obese patients are smaller than the brain’s of normal weight.
Let me further explain the domino effect regarding the role of toxicity as a primary causation of America’s battle with obesity. Dopamine receptivity, the ability of the dopamine molecule to fit and activate the D2 receptor, as seen in the above picture, is controlled by two hormones, thyroid and testosterone.
Neurotoxic patients always suffer deficiencies of both, testosterone and thyroid hormone. The brain’s hypothalamus becomes “too sick” to properly stimulate the pituitary gland which is responsible for activating the thyroid gland and our sex organs. Thus, neurotoxin- induced deficiencies of thyroid and testosterone cause further depression and more over-eating.
Neurotoxin- induced suppression of TSH, thyroid-stimulating hormone, and the subsequent hypothyroidism, causes obesity through yet another mechanism Suzanne, as you are well aware, our thyroid hormone controls the metabolism of every cell in our body. When the body’s metabolism is shut down by 50% there is no way to avoid excessive weight gain.
I have successfully treated thousands of obese patients who suffered undiagnosed neurotoxicity.* Most had previously spent thousands of dollars at weight loss clinics and wellness centers where the neurotoxicity factor was ignored. Some of these women suffered such severe hypothyroidism that their basal temperature was down to 96 degrees, normal is 98 degrees. I frequently diagnose these women sitting in restaurants because they wear jackets and sweatshirts in 72 degree rooms. These patients can eat two lima beans a day and still not lose weight, until we remove the toxic load from their brain and body.
Below are just a few thankful patients who were suffering from undiagnosed mold toxicity. They all suffered with symptoms of depression, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and excessive weight gain prior to coming to Sponaugle Wellness Institute. These patients effortlessly and quickly lost their excessive fat within 8 weeks of undergoing my wellness program which includes the analysis and optimization of over 300 brain chemicals, hormones, nutritional and toxin biomarkers-and our proprietary intravenous toxin removal protocol.* Some had previously spent hundreds of thousands of dollars at other wellness centers without achieving healthy weight loss.
SS: How are we taking in these toxins?
RS: Well, as you pointed out in “Sexy Forever,” we absorb them through our skin taking showers and through our intestinal lining because our food is contaminated with ridiculous toxins to make it look “more fresh” in the supermarket, this non-sense in addition to poisonous pesticides.
Furthermore, “progress” has moved us into an era of airtight energy-efficient homes that are slowly killing us because they don’t breathe. In modern homes, we are actually breathing in, many aromatic solvent toxins like Benzene and Toluene on a daily basis. These toxins are ubiquitous and they out gas from carpet glue, indoor paints, furniture fabric including “flame retardant” mattresses that we sleep on eight hours every day. Wool is a natural flame retardant, but, “progress” has taken us away from the common sense of our ancestors who used wool instead of chemical laden bedding.
Toxicity is really about the cumulative effect, I’ve heard your friend and one of my heroes, Dr Blaylock, say the same thing. My experience has been that our liver does an amazing job of handling the myriad industrial and environmental toxins in most people until they develop mold toxicity from water damaged buildings. The mold toxins Ochratoxin and Trichothecene are severely liver toxic, in fact, German studies have proven that Trichothecene can cause liver cancer. Mold toxicity if slowly killing millions of Americans.
SS: So tell me about the HLA gene you diagnosed me with and what the deal is on Mold Toxicity? Who carries the HLA gene? How do you test for it?
RS: Well Suzanne, you and I both have the HLA DRBQ genetics. The test for HLA-DRBQ genetics is a DNA blood test. People like us, with HLA DRBQ genetics, cannot make antibodies to mold toxins. Hence, we cannot effectively remove these toxins from our body like other people. It’s not a problem unless we’re living or working in a water damaged building.
The highest prevalence of this genetic anomaly is in fair-skinned people of Northern European descent, particularly English, Irish and Welsh. Supposedly, only one out of four Americans have the HLA-DRBQ genetics, but ironically, 85% of my patients have these genetics and are predisposed to mold toxicity.
Most American physicians are naive regarding mold toxicity because mold toxicity is an emerging illness it was much less common just 50 years ago. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that we began producing more air tight energy-efficient homes and office buildings. God gave us log and stone; mold grows slowly on log and stone, but it flourishes on wet drywall which is essentially pressed paper. Prior to 1970, the majority of our walls were made from plaster and plywood.
When buildings suffer water damage, molds grow quickly on cellulose material like drywall, billions of toxin producing mold colonies become trillions of colonies in just days. Two phenomena, the advent of drywall and the production of energy-efficient homes have caused a rapid rise in the number of Americans suffering from mold toxicity. Americans with HLA DRBQ genetics who live or work in water damaged buildings are essentially living in toxic gas chambers.
Apparently, I have performed the only research in America comparing the brain scans of mold toxic patients to toxin-induced changes in brain chemistry. My research has proven that mold toxic brains produce excessive levels of two electrifying brain chemicals, glutamate and phenyl ethylamine. Mold toxicity patients frequently suffer symptoms of chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
A multitude of mold toxic patients become addicted to drugs like OxyContin and Xanax in their attempt to calm their over electrified brain and body. America’s rehab centers are full of addicted patients where ill-knowledgeable rehab doctors and counselors misdiagnose these patients as drug addicts and tell them to get a grip on their anxiety and deal with their fibromyalgia.
Mold toxicity has causation in a multitude of medical disorders.
SS: How does excessive toxicity set you up for disease and from the perspective of the average person in America?
RS: Wow, it’s multi-faceted but I will attempt to cover some pertinent concepts that every American should be aware of.
Toxic patients suffer global hormonal deficiencies derived from neurotoxin- induced shut down of the pituitary gland called pituitary insufficiency. Suzanne, as you know, the pituitary gland produces a multitude of hormones, some that directly target end organs like growth hormone and others that stimulate production of hormones in downstream glands – the thyroid, adrenal glands, and the gonads, testicles and ovaries.
These multiple hormonal deficiencies cause diminished function of every cell in the body leaving patients with symptoms of depression, chronic fatigue, lethargy, brain fog, MCI [mild cognitive impairment], early onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and the list goes on beyond what we can discuss in this chapter.
Children up to 13 years of age have immature livers as compared to adults, therefore the younger the child, the more difficulty they have removing environmental toxins. Those who are neurotoxic from age 2 months until around age 10, the years in which most of the brain myelin is laid down, can actually develop smaller brains. Children who are neurotoxic in middle school often suffer delayed puberty and stunted growth from growth hormone deficiency. Adults who suffer growth hormone deficiency. Adults who suffer growth hormone deficiency lack the ability to repair every cell in their body, therefore, they obviously undergo an accelerated aging process.
Neurotoxic patients suffer from a deficiency of ADH, anti-diuretic hormone. Children who suffer undiagnosed neurotoxicity often exhibit problems with enuresis, or bed wetting. For some reason no one has picked up on the fact that their pituitary is shut down from toxic load. These are the things you surmise only when you are paying attention to trends in your patients.
When adults suffer from toxin- induced ADH deficiency, they exhibit symptoms of frequent urination, but, unlike small children, they normally get up in the middle of the night versus wetting the bed. In middle- aged males, the knee jerk assumption made by most physicians, is that the patient suffers from an enlarged prostate, this may or may not be the case. Physicians cannot flippantly make this diagnosis in female patients. Many females I have diagnosed with neurotoxicity, later informed me that their physicians told them to simply stop drinking so much water and they wouldn’t have to go to the bathroom so often.
As we discussed earlier, neurotoxic patients cannot produce adequate thyroid stimulating hormone and thus, typically suffer symptoms of hypothyroidism. Because the thyroid hormone activates every cell in the body, including brain cells, cellular metabolism and function is suboptimal throughout the body.
SS: What are the symptoms or indicators of low thyroid?
RS: Well, it seems there are about 100,000. Depression, lethargy, fatigue, brain fog, early dementia, cold hands, cold feet, general cold intolerance, heat intolerance, high blood pressure, bradycardia which is a slow heart rate, syncope, constipation, myalgias, muscle cramping, stiff joints, course brittle hair, hair loss, slow growth of fingernails, slow wound healing, more frequent infections and decreased perspiration.
SS: Why would decreased perspiration be a problem?
RS: The more severe the hypothyroidism, the less the patients sweat and poop. We eliminate fatty toxins through sweating and pooping. I always ask my patients about their bowel movements because the frequency of their bowel movements tells me a lot about their health, specifically if they are neurotoxic. Sweating is essential for toxin removal, this is the reason infrared saunas or utilized in so many health spas. In modern America nobody sweats. Our great grandparents would sweat all day because they physically worked 12 hours a day for survival on farms. Today Americans run from their air-conditioned homes to their air-conditioned cars to their air-conditioned offices. If they do work out, it’s in an air conditioned gym that is so cold, they can’t sweat. How ridiculous has progress made us look.
In the hypothyroid state, our mitochondria are so underactive and sluggish that they cannot effectively burn oxygen and glucose to make energy and heat.
SS: Is that why people with low thyroid are “out of gas”?
RS: Absolutely. Furthermore, in hypothyroidism, the waste products produced from what little oxygen and glucose is utilized, cannot be effectively removed from the body cells. For lack of a better description, every cell in the body blows up with a mucopolysacharide waste product called mucin.
Mucin accumulation in skin cells causes a thickness above the eyes and between the eyebrows in people who really aren’t even fat. Mucin accumulation from hypothyroidism can cause the lips and tongue to enlarge and produces a thickening of the skin. Hypothyroidism is so common in American women that many middle -aged women cannot lift the skin off the outside of the bicep.
SS: Yes but couldn’t all of this be attributed to normal aging? You know, that gravity is pulling the face down. That in itself creates more hooding around the eyes. How do you differentiate?
RS: You differentiate thin sagging skin from thick and puffy eyelids. Many middle aged American women waste $5000 on blepharoplasty procedures when all they need is to have their thyroid status optimized.
SS: Does the thyroid affect the immune system?
RS: Absolutely, every cell in the body depends on T 3, the active thyroid hormone, for mitochondrial activation, especially our natural killer cells and our antibodies. In fact, it’s interesting that Graz, Austria is in the goiter belt, a region where there is the least iodine in the soil, and therefore, before iodine supplementation in table salt, Graz had the highest incidence of hypothyroidism in the world. Around the turn of the 19th century, before the advent of antibiotics, Graz, Austria had the highest death rate of newborn infants in the world, they all died of infections. Our immune system simply doesn’t work without thyroid hormone. Of note, testosterone is required for activation of interleukin-6, the cytokine that activates our natural killer cells, Suzanne it’s all amazingly interconnected.
Neurotoxic patients can suffer severe deficiencies of the pituitary hormones, leutenizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). This causes early andropause in men and early menopause in women. It is not unusual in my practice to see 20 and 30 year old females who have already entered menopause, what a frightening thought that this is becoming the state of the Union, in America.
Suzanne, when I read your book, “Sexy Forever”, I was reminded of this patient, I know you’re going to appreciate this story. I recently treated the 27 year-old daughter of an academic physician from New York City. She had suffered with severe chronic fatigue and depression since age 17, the age at which she suddenly lost her menstrual periods.
None of her father’s colleagues at NYU Medical Center could determine the causation of her physical and mental demise, they of course, never considered neurotoxicity. Halfway through my family workshop, I was discussing neurotoxin induced hormonal suppression, when this young lady stood up and informed me, and the entire audience of 40 strangers, that many of her 30-year-old girl friends in New York City had already developed menopausal hormone levels and had become amenstrual. These young women were all prescribed toxic birth control pills by their New York gynecologists.
Sadly, American gynecologists readily examine the uterus and perform laparoscopies to evaluate the ovaries, but, they remain naive regarding neurotoxicity, we’ve got to get the word out. Doctors simply fail to realize the problem is the toxin saturated sick brain, the broken switch, not the end organ, the ovaries.
Neurotoxicity in young females often results in infertility issues. I have treated many middle-aged females who unfortunately spent $50,000 on unsuccessful infertility treatment before they found Sponaugle Wellness Institute. After these young women were properly diagnosed and underwent my intravenous detoxification program, they had no problem getting pregnant and no longer suffered miscarriages.
Toxin- induced testosterone deficiency causes insulin resistance and diabetes in both sexes; insulin requires optimal testosterone levels for receptivity. I find it interesting that in 1982, when I graduated from medical school, the average age patients developed adult onset diabetes was around 50. Thirty years later, we are seeing much younger patients, patients in their 30s and 40s, develop type 2 diabetes, this is because a higher level of toxic exposure comes with each new decade.
Neurotoxicity is the common denominator in the majority of Americans suffering with chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia. When the neurotoxic brain is too sick, to respond to falling hormone production from down-stream organs, patients suffer hypothyroidism, adrenal insufficiency [Cortisol and DHEA deficiency] and Testosterone deficiency.
Adrenaline, nor-adrenaline and dopamine are the three first cousins in the catecholamine family. All three of these neurotransmitters require Thyroid hormone, Cortisol and Testosterone to activate their respective receptors throughout the brain and the body.
Inadequate activation of these three adrenaline “cousins” causes severe chronic fatigue. Chronic fatigue is diagnosed by traditional medical doctors, and most physicians at anti-aging wellness centers, as a primary adrenal problem, when in fact, this is rarely the case .The adrenal glands are usually working well, the more common problem in most Americans is that neurotoxic load is preventing adequate pituitary production of ACTH, the brain hormone that activates the adrenal glands.
Suzanne, I see chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia as co-disorders in all of my neurotoxic patients. This is because an excessive accumulation of brain toxins also causes excessive production of the brain chemical, glutamate. Glutamate is the most powerful excitatory or electrifying brain neurotransmitter. For this reason, neurotoxic patients experience excessive “electrical voltage” throughout their brain and their body, this is the primary cause of their fibromyalgia symptoms.
DHEA deficiency in neurotoxic patients is another cause of fibromyalgia. The toxic brain is again too sick to stimulated adrenal production of DHEA. Both DHEA and MSH, a pituitary hormone, are required for the production of our natural opiates, endorphins, obviously endorphin deficiency will precipitate increased total body pain.
When fibromyalgia patients undergo my intravenous detoxification program in addition to proper optimization of their calming brain chemicals and the hormones that control the receptivity of those brain chemicals, they no longer suffer fibromyalgia symptoms .We have phenomenal success treating fibromyalgia patients.
SS: How does cellular damage from toxins affect our bodies?
RS: Since the structural integrity of every cell membrane in our body is made up of the good fatty acids, Omega 3s and Omega 6s, the infiltration of fatty toxins into the cell membranes can destroy every organ in the body.
The intestinal lining is extremely sensitive to toxicity and excessive toxicity causes malabsorption issues with subsequent nutritional deficiencies. Every year, I see more and more, younger Americans, suffering from toxicity and malnutrition. All the fatty toxins, including pesticides, destroy the intestinal lining. The most damaging toxin to the intestinal mucosa, based on what I have seen in my patients, is the Trichothecene T2 toxin produced by the black mold, Stachybotrus. The best research on this is coming out of France and Germany, for some reason American medical centers, with the exception of Michigan State and Texas Tech, remain fairly naïve regarding mold toxicity.
The slide below demonstrates an amino acid analysis I performed on a sweet lady from San Francisco. She was well educated and had read many of your books, she had been eating organic food for at least 10 years, yet, her amino acid analysis revealed that she suffered severe malnutrition. She also suffered severe depression, chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia.
In a 10 year period prior to her presentation at Sponaugle Wellness Institute, she spent over $800,000 on wellness centers throughout America, unsuccessfully attempting to “get well.” They all did a good job of optimizing her hormones, but, they failed to diagnose the underlying causation of her physical and mental demise, severe Trichothecene toxicity. Her mold toxicity was derived from the black mold hidden behind her bedroom wall. Apparently the flashing around her chimney was damaged allowing rain water to leak inside the wall.
Note that in spite of eating healthy foods, her essential amino acid levels were in the bottom 1% of all Americans. The toxin induced damage to her intestinal mucosa disallowed effective transport of the amino acids from her gut into her blood stream. This is something I commonly see in mold toxic patients.
Neurotoxicity is the excessive accumulation of toxins in the brain. The brain and peripheral nervous system are the most sensitive organs to the toxic load of fatty toxins. Earlier we discussed the concept that the brain is the fattiest organ consisting of 60% fat. The myelin sheath, the insulation on brain and body nerves, is actually 80% fatty in structure and, is extremely sensitive to fatty toxin infiltration.
For this reason, fatty toxins are particularly damaging to myelin. When they deposit in the myelin sheath they cause excessive inflammation and ultimately, they can cause total destruction of the myelin sheath as seen in the Multiple Sclerosis slide below. Suzanne, the scary thing is, I see approximately 40 new patients every month, of lately, I am diagnosing two middle-aged females, via MRI of the brain, with Multiple Sclerosis each month.
These women always have HLA DRBQ genetics in which they cannot effectively remove mold toxins from their brain and, they always suffer from undiagnosed mold toxicity. We can typically reverse earlier stages of multiple sclerosis with 12 weeks of our Brain Wellness Program which includes our aggressive intravenous program for removal of toxins.* We have not found oral medicinal or herbal detoxifying agents to be effective in treating these MS patients.
SS: And so if people don’t clear out the toxicity in their bodies what can they expect?
RS: Essentially, some level of demise in every organ and every system of the body. Patients suffering excessive toxicity will also undergo an accelerated aging process. Every patient suffering neurodegenerative disorders, Alzheimer’s, Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, Parkinson’s, and Autism, that we have treated at Sponaugle Wellness Institute, has proven to have HLA DRBQ genetics and undiagnosed mold toxicity. Again, the mold toxicity tends to overwhelm the liver thereby exacerbating the patient’s generalized toxicity from pesticides and industrial toxins. While we can’t measure all 81,000 synthetic toxic chemicals manufactured by American industry since 1930, we do measure an average of 10 aromatic solvent toxins in all of our patients, this gives us a general assessment regarding the level of our patient’s overall toxic state. The pattern we see is, the bigger the city, the more toxic the patient.
SS: So if we are living in big cities what can we do? How can we fix it? Is the only thing a person can do is go to your clinic and detox? And then when they get back from your clinic, they will be exposed to the environmental toxins and then are they going to get re-intoxicated?
RS: Once we have brought their toxin level down to Ground Zero, they need to do many of the things you have already recommended in your previous books. Everyone should install reverse osmosis to remove antibiotics and heavy metals from their drinking water. However, reverse osmosis does not filter the fatty toxins in city water, eliminating intake of fatty toxins like pesticides etc. one must install a charcoal filtration system on the home water system. We can actually absorb more fatty toxins through the skin while taking a bath or a shower then we can imbibe drinking city water.
SS: Well how can we survive? You are talking about pretty much everyone. We are all exposed to some form of toxic chemicals?
RS: I advise all my patients, particularly those with HLA genetics, to invest in a charcoal filtration system for their home. It is also very important to exercise and sweat on a daily basis. Patients who have physical disabilities and cannot exercise should definitely use infrared sauna several times a week.
It’s also important, as you have emphasized in your book, to invest in organic foods. You made the point in “Sexy Forever” that organic food can be expensive, but it is more expensive to suffer cancer and other medical disorders from pesticide toxicity.
I personally think every American should be tested for HLA DRBQ genetics. Knowledge is truly empowering, patient’s need to know if they need to practice hyper vigilance regarding their living or working in mold toxic buildings.
Americans are living in cities where the water supply is tainted with antibiotics that destroy the normal and beneficial bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract, subsequently, most Americans have developed intestinal overgrowth of toxic yeast and pathogenic bacteria. A recent study from California Tech emphasized the concept that deleterious yeast mycotoxins and bacterial endotoxins derived from gut toxicity, are causation in multiple sclerosis. This concept is something your friend Brenda Watson and I have discussed for years, we have been waiting for validation from a University Medical Center.
This study validates the fact that Americans should take gastrointestinal dysbiosis and gut toxicity seriously and, use all natural herbal products such as Renew Life Candigone to rid their intestine of parasitic microorganisms.
Some cities are more toxic than others based on their industrial history. We tend to diagnose more aromatic solvent toxicity in patients from Newark, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.
SS: So the babies born in these cities are born toxic because the mothers are contaminated with mold and toxins and then the city itself further contaminates the child?
RS: There are some places in America that are extremely toxic. Some regions in West Virginia and Ohio have been nicknamed “cancer valley” because of the increased prevalence of cancer derived from the chemical toxins produced by major chemical companies.
SS: The problem with mold toxicity is that most of the time we can’t see that we have a leak in our houses.
RS: Suzanne, you’re absolutely right.
Lauren, a 40 year old woman came to me recently for help with what she thought was mold toxicity after finding my website. Her water bill had increased four-fold over the last 6 months and she had gained 40 pounds in the 6 month period. She also developed a new onset insomnia disorder. She knew she had a water leak behind a wall or under a floor, but she couldn’t find it. Her three children who always made straight A’s suddenly started making C’s. I diagnosed Lauren and her children with HLA genetics and severe mold toxicity. Lauren and her children responded extremely well to just two weeks of our intravenous mold toxicity program.* Had they not found us, the next thing the kids would have developed would be food allergies …
SS: Why food allergies?
RS: Food allergies and leaky gut syndrome are an integral part of the toxicity syndrome; Fatty toxins like pesticides and mold toxins destroy the gut lining. One of my 26-year-old patients from Chicago, Sarah, she and her father have a video testimony on my website, developed coordination and balance problems, in addition to fine motor issues that made hand writing difficult. She was losing her fine motor function at the young age of 26.
RS: Because she acquired severe Trichothecene toxicity from working in a moldy green house. She developed such severe leaky gut syndrome that the constant leaking of the Gluten/Gliadin protein caused her immune system to produce anti-gliadin antibodies. The problem is that gliadin “mimics” or looks like the purkinje cells in the cerebellum. In these patients, the immune system, specifically the anti-gliadin antibodies, attack and destroy the cerebellum causing dys-coordination issues and ataxia. This mechanism is prevalent in many Autistic spectrum disorders, but no one appears to be looking for mold toxicity in these children.
SS: It’s amazing that mold toxins are so destructive.
RS: I know Suzanne, I am still amazed and it seems each month, we add to the list of medical disorders that are caused by mold toxicity.
SS: Who do you call to get mold out of your house?
RS: We now use a company called Bio Science. They have a national presence and have treated the homes of our patients from California to Boston. Their natural enzymes not only kill the mold spores, but more importantly, they breakdown the toxic gases produced by indoor molds.
SS: So now we know that mold is pervasive and that it is making us sick. Where is your clinic?
RS: Sponaugle Wellness Institute is located in Palm Harbor, Florida, a suburb of Tampa. We are only 10 miles from the white sugar sands of Clearwater Beach. That makes it nice for our patients because they only spend @ 2 hours a day in the clinic and so they can spend the rest of their day on the beach with their families.
SS: What is your protocol?
RS: My toxicity protocol is very comprehensive. It includes an extensive evaluation of more than 300 biochemicals including biomarkers for various toxins and the immune system. We optimize hundreds of brain chemicals, hormones and nutritional factors using both, oral and intravenous, moadalities. All the while, we are simultaneously performing aggressive removal of toxins with our intravenous protocol.
Mold toxins, particularly the Trichothecene mold toxin, suppress multiple components of the immune system. Therefore, mold toxic patients often have additional toxicity from intracellular brain infections. Typically, my mold toxic patients also suffer from both, Lyme disease and Mycoplasma infections. We use an all-natural protocol of mega-dose intravenous Vitamin C and other herbal medications to boost the kill power of the immune system. We avoid antibiotics at all costs in these mold toxic patients because antibiotics rarely have effective kill power in patients with toxin-induced immune suppression.
SS: Do you ever use pharmaceuticals?
RS: When we have to, but rarely, however our practice of integrative medicine is just that, the integration of Western medicine and Natural medicine. Mold toxic patients and patients who suffer neurotoxicity from other environmental toxins like Benzene, often suffer with severe panic disorder. In these patients, we will temporarily use pharmaceutical medications to control their anxiety and panic, until we can remove enough toxicity to quiet their over-electrified brain. If they come to us on anti-psychotic medications, our goal is to have them off these medications within a 2-3 week period.
We have successfully treated over 400 patients who were previously diagnosed with bipolar disorder and prescribed various anti-psychotic medications before they came to Sponaugle Wellness Institute.* Every one of these patients suffered undiagnosed mold toxicity and when we effectively treated their mold toxicity, these patients no longer needed their anti-psychotic medications.
SS: Clearly we are under the greatest environmental assault in the history of mankind. Is there hope? Can we get on top of it?
RS: Well yes we can to some extent. I would suggest that you are one of the best living examples of “getting on top of it” in America. I am living proof as are many of my patients, examples of which you have seen in the before and after photos. What we can’t afford to do is take the ostrich approach and bury our heads in the sand. Our goal is to perform aggressive detoxification bringing our patient’s toxicity level down to Ground Zero, after which, we empower them with knowledge regarding toxicity, just as you have done for years, in your previous books.
My wife, Kimberly, is taking it to the next level. She is currently working on the opening of a plantation in southern Georgia called South Eden. There, our patients and others with interest, will learn how to perform sustainable living and eco-sensitive green gardening. They will learn how to grow their own organic gardens in a multi-tiered fashion that will produce enough organic fruits and vegetables to feed a family of five in a relatively small space, even on a balcony patio in down town Chicago.
My program will effectively detox and her program, which I believe you will find much more exciting than mine, will teach patients how to prevent the “re-tox.”
A Mother's Search: Caroline's Story
I feel like I’ve been at the heart of a mystery for the last seven years. Both of my amazingly healthy daughters, who danced three hours each day, became ill in their teenage years. I have been chasing the cure ever since.
Camelia’s trouble began when she was thirteen. Migraine headaches, stomach cramps, unexplained weight gain, and facial swelling were the key indicators that something was definitely not right. A food allergy and intolerance test was the first piece of the puzzle: she was allergic to gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, beans, most nuts, mushrooms, pineapple, peaches, and many more. She cut out these foods, but her symptoms persisted. How could this poor kid who was not eating any processed food still be bloated? On top of dancing three hours every day? Simultaneously, her anxiety was through the roof. People told me it was normal for teenage girls to gain weight and have anxiety. This was NOT normal. I knew we were missing something … it was like she was allergic to all food.
Two years later, Violet began experiencing similar symptoms-also at that critical age of thirteen. Food allergy and intolerance tests revealed similar foods that needed to be eliminated-gluten, dairy, eggs. Allergies can be consistent in families, we were told. Violet was diligent-and yet the unfair bloating began to plague her the same way it had with Camelia. Violet took to eliminating most food as the only way to control her body. While it helped with the inflammation, this created new problems with lack of nutrition, fatigue, and depression. So I had one with anxiety through the roof and the other who was retreating and depressed. They were both hanging on by a thread. I needed more answers.
In the summer after her fourteenth birthday, Violet took a trip to Nantucket and almost immediately called to tell me she had a bite on her leg that had been identified as Lyme. A course of strong antibiotics was recommended. I knew this would wreak havoc on her already sensitive intestines, but even my anti-aging doctors told me not to mess with Lyme and that se needed the antibiotic. By the end of the six weeks of antibiotics, Violet’s body was not able to digest food. She would be swollen and bloated, even when she was only eating foods to which she was not allergic. She was despondent, trying so hard and still not able to control her failing system. We met with several specialists, but none could help her. I was out of options … but held out hope for one more doctor I had been speaking with about Camelia’s ongoing issues. He was recommended to Suzanne by Brenda Watson, and Brenda thought he could unravel Camelia’s intestinal issues along with the anxiety. But he was in Florida and I wasn’t ready to pull Camelia from school. He was also a Lyme specialist. So when Violet’s Lyme treatment failed her body, we packed our bags for Florida.
Violet spent six weeks with Dr. Rick Sponaugle at the Sponaugle Well-ness Institute. When she arrived, he said her immune system was ravaged. She still had Lyme, and he uncovered the core of the health issues for both of the girls … a genetic allergy to mold. The mold allergy eats away at the intestinal lining, creating holes in the intestines until you have leaky gut syndrome. This allows all food to enter the bloodstream undigested, which is viewed by the body as an enemy. All of your body’s resources go to fighting this enemy, leaving your immune system depleted. They really were allergic to all food, because their intestines were in such bad shape. And in the process, you may experience high levels of inflammation. Bingo! No wonder eliminating the allergy foods was still not eliminating the inflammation! Their leaky gut syndrome was not healing because of the mold allergy. He also explained that having the mold allergy made Violet more susceptible to Lyme. Many people may get tick bites and never have symptoms of Lyme because their immune system is strong enough to keep the Lyme suppressed, but Violet was in such a weakened state, the Lyme took hold of her immediately.
Dr. Sponaugle was the first doctor to explain the connection of the damaged intestine and how it had blunted Violet’s hormone production and created neurological issues. She has none of the hormones a girl her age should have to regulate her moods. No wonder she was so depressed. And the intestinal damage had also blunted her production of neurotransmitters-she was not making serotonin, dopamine, or taurine-none of the feel-good neurotransmitters for contentment, happiness, or joy. In addition, she had developed ADD (quiet type) so she had a very hard time focusing (and Camelia has AD HD-hyperactive type, which explained her anxiety). The mold created leaky gut, which created leaky brain, and the Lyme shut down the rest of her immunity and neurological function-so much brain fog. He said that had it gone untreated, she would likely have been diagnosed with MS within the year-and no one would have known the source.
The treatments at the clinic were not easy, but Violet wanted to accomplish as much as she could in the time we were there. As they undergo the process of extracting Lyme and mold from the body, patients range from extremely anxious to extremely depressed. Watching her go through this was excruciating, but she had a singular focus to get well. And at least we now knew the enemy! Violet asked Dr. Sponaugle to give her as much treatment as she could handle. On some nights the anxiety was so bad she was raging and suicidal. Then we would back down. On other days her depression was so bad I could barely move her from bed. Removing the host of toxins from her system was very hard on Violet, but once they were gone, she would feel relief and clarity, until the next treatment.
At the end of six weeks, she was a different person. Her moods were much more even. She was in control of her body. She was eating very carefully-100 percent organic and had decided to go vegan to assist in digestion.
Over the course of the next two years, she has been in and out of school. We decided her health is most important-and ended up placing her in a homeschool program so she could focus on her health. Her body’s normal functions are returning. She started eating meat again, which increased her energy level and brain function. Her intestine is dramatically improved so that she no longer experiences inflammation, except on rare occasions. If she gets a moment of anxiety or depression, she knows how to push it away.
While these debilitating issues tried to bring her down, the creative artist in her spirit emerged. Violet is finally back in school, at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts-a brand-new building (no mold!) and a place where she is free from the anxiety of overwhelming academics. She spends time with her friends, creating art, smiling, and laughing along the way. And she can study and focus! She’s finally in charge of her health now. Camelia is off at her first year of college. She is also in charge of her health. Her intestines are greatly healed and rarely have bouts with inflammation. We even convinced the cafeteria in her dorm to prepare organic meals for her. Her life depends upon it!
Lyme and mold are never really gone from your life. You learn to manage them. Healing the intestines takes time, months and months, but with healing comes mental clarity and happiness. The Lyme ended up being a great gift. It led us to the root cause of the mold-and gave us the information to heal both of the girls. If you or your children are having mystery illnesses, bloating, depression, anxiety, OCD, ADD, ADHD, symptoms of arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, and more, I highly recommend you visit SponaugleWellness.com. Don’t expect miracles in a couple of weeks. These are chronic illnesses that take a lifetime of management … but Dr. Sponaugle was the one who connected all the processes of the human body-how the intestinal system is connected to the hormonal system to the neurological system. I am forever grateful to Suzanne and Brenda Watson and Dr. Sponaugle for helping us unravel this mystery.
Take a moment to watch these amazing stories of healing and know that we are always ready and eager to make a difference in your life or the life of a loved one who may be dealing with chronic illness.
Alexa Sponaugle, our teenage daughter, contracted Lyme disease when she was 13 years old. Alexa was a horse lover and spent most of her evenings working with horses. Ironically, a recent study in New Jersey tested 90 horses dispersed throughout the state and found 80 of the 90 had Lyme disease, something to think about. After two years of LLMD Lyme treatment, Alexa almost died from a mega-dose antibiotic therapy consisting of six different antibiotics every day.
Alexa’s personality changed dramatically, our once cheerful Alexa developed an obsessive “worry” type of anxiety followed by intermittent panic attacks. Alexa developed social anxiety, yet before treatment, she was a social butterfly. She fell into a depression she described as a “black hole.” Her chronic fatigue worsened every month and she could no longer participate in family sports, this was particularly unsettling because Alexa was arguably the best athlete in our family.
Click on the link below to read Alexa's full story of healing from Lyme, and how treating Alexa brought Dr. Sponaugle to where he is today with treating complex illness.
Wheelchair Success Stories
At Sponaugle Wellness Institute, we believe truly “holistic” wellness treatment should not only heal the body, it should also heal the brain!! The brain is our most complex organ. Optimizing brain function in sick patients requires extraordinary knowledge of brain physiology, modern brain science and the expertise derived from treating thousands of patients with brain disorders.
We succeeds where others have failed. At Sponaugle Wellness Institute, patients who have been bedridden or in wheelchairs for years have hope that they will be able to walk again. We cannot enable every patient we treat to come out of their wheelchair. However, 27 chronic Lyme disease patients have come out of their wheelchairs at Sponaugle Wellness Institute.
Click on the link below to read these "Wheelchair Success Stories" and their journey to healing from wheelchair to walking.
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