Internationally renowned natural health physician and Mercola.com founder Dr. Joseph Mercola interviews Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker, MD, about exposure in molds.
Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker is a recognized leader in patient care and research, having appeared on a variety of national TV shows, such as Good Morning America, NBC News, CBS News, and CNN. Like me, he is trained in family medicine and has investigated areas that reveal important insights into how we can treat chronic illness.
He currently serves as president of Chronic Neurotoxin Incorporated, and is a medical director for the Center for Research on Biotoxin Associated Illnesses.
Dr. Shoemaker’s interest in biotoxic disease began in 1996/97. He’d had a family practice in the small town of Pocomoke in Maryland since 1980, and around ’96, they started having a problem with Pfiesteria, a dinoflagellate (like an algae) in the Chesapeake Bay and nearby rivers. Pfiesteria is a single-celled creature that creates potent toxins. The town of Pocomoke was the epicenter of the outbreak..
“Because of my interest in the river and wetlands, when people started getting sickened by exposure to areas where the fish kill had occurred, I got a chance to see them,” he explains. “… There was no one out there who had any data on this illness… No one has ever treated it. And quite frankly, I was kind of lost.”
The Initial Treatment of Pfiesteria and Other Biotoxic Exposures
His foray into the exotic world of biotoxic illnesses began with patients exposed to and sickened by Pfiesteria. Most biotoxic illnesses are difficult to diagnose and treat as all of them, including mold, affect multiple systems in your body and produce a wide array of symptoms.
However, there is an underlying commonality, whether your disease is caused by dinoflagellates, mold, or spirochetes, for example, and that is chronic inflammation. The toxins produced by these microorganisms cause your innate immune system to respond to the foreign antigens, and the inflammation induced by exposure to the toxin is what wreaks havoc on your health.
“In order to treat them, we need to both remove them from exposure and remove toxin from their body,” Dr. Shoemaker says.
Dr. Shoemaker discovered what has since become the first step in a multi-step treatment plan almost by accident. When one of his Pfiesteria patients presented chronic diarrhea, he gave her cholestyramine (CSM), a rarely used cholesterol drug that binds to not just cholesterol, but just about everything of a particular molecular shape and size.
“Cholestyramine is not absorbed,” he explains. “It will bind very efficiently to small molecules that have what we call anion rings or sharing of electrons. These small molecular structures have a net negative charge. Cholestyramine has a net positive charge on its nitrogen containing side chains. The negative charge and positive charges are on structures that are about the same size. Binding CSM to the toxin prevents its reabsorption. There’s another cholesterol-lowering resin called Welchol that also has these net positive charges.
The clays have very few of these binding sites. Even though people have used clays – and Bentonite is one – with some success, cholestyramine is so much better that people would put up with the common side effects of constipation and some reflux.”
According to Dr. Shoemaker, about 75 percent of patients experience a 75 percent reduction of symptoms with cholestyramine alone (but the numbers are less if there is ongoing mold exposure). Since the initial discovery of cholestyramine for the treatment of biotoxic disease, he has published about 20 papers about it, and approximately 500 physicians affiliated with SurvivingMold.com are using his protocol with benefit.
“Once we identify the source of the toxin illness and remove people from exposure, cholestyramine is our first step,” he explains. “But then, there are 10 more steps that we follow along to sequentially, one at a time to stop the inflammatory process initiated by the toxin exposure.”