Chronic fatigue can be detrimental to your well-being. Fortunately, it is preventable and treatable. Functional Medicine Provider Laura D’Itri offers her insights and experiences on chronic fatigue syndrome. She defines adrenal fatigue and explains its root causes in comparison with chronic fatigue. She also dives deeper into the top causes of chronic fatigue, emphasizing on molds and the Epstein-Barr virus being reactivated. Don’t miss this episode to learn the vital things that can be done in order to kill the virus and prevent chronic fatigue syndrome.
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Understanding Chronic Fatigue with Laura D’Itri
I’m excited to be interviewing Laura D’Itri from California. She is a functional medicine provider in the state of California with a Master of Science and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Our focus is on chronic fatigue syndrome. She focuses on multiple steps in treating and balancing all of the underlying imbalances that might lead someone down the path towards chronic fatigue syndrome. Welcome, Laura.
Thank you so much for having me.
Thank you so much for participating. The first question I always like to ask all of the folks I interview is, what is your background professionally but also personally that led you down the functional medicine path?
I pretty much struggled with adrenal fatigue since I was a kid. I didn’t know any different. I was always very tired and very overwhelmed with sights and sounds. My nickname was Lazy Laura by my best friend. I was just always very tired, overwhelmed and stressed and I had no reason for that. I had a great childhood. There was no reason for me to feel this way. I was always interested in nutrition and trying different diets. I tried veganism and all these kinds of different diets to try to make myself feel physically better. I was experimenting with that after high school. I love herbs. I love nutrition. Naturally, I went to a Chinese medicine school. I graduated and I became a licensed acupuncturist. I practiced acupuncture and herbs for about five years.
Functional medicine has always had my heart. I first learned about it through school. I was classmates with Chris Kresser, who’s now pretty famous in the functional medicine world. He introduced me to that concept of functional medicine. It was like, “Yes, I love this. This is what I’ve always wanted to practice.” Anyway, when the time was right, I went back to school for functional medicine. Slowly, we tested ourselves for a lot of these different imbalances that we would eventually test our patients. One of the things was adrenal fatigue. I tested my adrenals and my adrenals were horrible. They were shot. It was the worst adrenal fatigue case I’ve ever seen still to this day. My adrenals were worse than many of my clients.
My whole life started to make sense. I thought that I ate healthily and I exercised. If I was tired, that’s just how it was. That’s how my genetics were. I couldn’t do anything about it. When I saw this test result, everything came together, everything made sense. I was having chronic migraines twice a month. I was having asthma attacks and got overwhelmed easily. All this stuff made sense when I saw that test result. I started working with my own adrenal fatigue, pulling myself out of the depths of adrenal fatigue and learning how to correct my adrenals, correct my energy levels with the help of my teachers and mentors. After that, naturally I started practicing and working with women with adrenal fatigue. That was wonderful and rewarding.
As I practiced further and further, I started attracting women and we thought they had adrenal fatigue. We would test their adrenals and their adrenals were fine or not that bad. I started having to explore all these other ideas of what makes somebody tired and incredibly tired or fatigued for no real explained reason, nothing that could be easily seen on a lab test or anything like that. That’s how I started working with chronic fatigue and then eventually chronic fatigue syndrome and understanding the CDC definition of chronic fatigue syndrome and understanding all of the various imbalances that somebody could have with chronic fatigue syndrome. I have found that it’s never just one thing. It’s always multiple different things going wrong with immunity, with the entire ecosystem of the body that’s causing the chronic fatigue syndrome. That’s how I got into it. That’s pretty much my story with that.
Many of us that have gotten into functional medicine have our own individual story that led us down the path. Many of us suffered before we saw the light and looked for the root cause of the problem rather than following protocols that were trained in our training to give this medicine or that medicine. You are feeling a lot better and helping others feel better as well. Elaborate and review for folks, when we say adrenal fatigue, what are we talking about? What’s the root of that? That’s your adrenal glands. Talk a little bit about that and cortisol.
I listened to your show on adrenal fatigue. Adrenal fatigue, another definition is HPA axis dysregulation. It’s a communication issue with the hypothalamus, the pituitary and the adrenal glands. Basically, your brain is not communicating properly to your adrenals to release appropriate amounts of cortisol and DHEA, stress hormones. It’s like the stress that you’re experiencing can’t be offset. It can’t be dealt with cortisol and DHEA and the things that are supposed to deal with that stress because of this communication error. That communication error I find is always due to some stress. Sometimes that’s emotional, sometimes it’s physical, inflammatory or dietary. There are all these different types of stress. Honestly, I’m not sure where my adrenal fatigue came from. I felt like I always had it as a little kid. I think it got progressively worse. That was also the start of understanding the root causes of adrenal fatigue that got more heavily into understanding the root causes of chronic fatigue. Even if the adrenals look decent or not too bad, it’s usually some imbalance with adrenals but it’s not always the main thing.
With children and if you started as a child, as you say, unless there’s some obvious emotional or physical trauma going on in that child’s world, then it’s probably coming down to their gut.
It’s funny you say that, I don’t always mention this because it’s just too much to talk about but when I tested my gut, I had a major imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the stool test. That makes complete sense.
We all live in a symbiotic relationship with our microbiome. There are many as three pounds of bacteria living in our colon for all of us right now and we need them in order to be alive. With children, that’s what’s happening a lot is that on our processed quick diets that we are living in, everything is packaged. There are barely any fruits or vegetables at times. They’re always going to McDonald’s and everything else with the Standard American Diet, which is an acronym for SAD. Many children, sorry to say are having immune imbalances and hypersensitivities and then that is definitely going to tax their adrenal glands and cause stress on those little guys.
Yes, definitely. I think that’s what happened to me.
We’ve reviewed now adrenal fatigue, but now your focus is on chronic fatigue syndrome. How are they different? How are they similar? Let’s get into the definition of chronic fatigue syndrome.
Adrenal fatigue, as I said, there’s always some stress involved and it can be dietary, inflammatory, environmental or emotional. With chronic fatigue syndrome, obviously they both have to do with fatigue a lot of the time but with chronic fatigue syndrome, there’s still always stress involved. I find that it affects the mitochondria because I say it’s more of a long-term thing, but that’s not always necessarily true because you can have adrenal fatigue for decades too. That stress usually affects the mitochondria long-term as opposed to the adrenals but sometimes it’s both. You can definitely have adrenal fatigue and chronic fatigue syndrome at the same time.
Let people know what the mitochondria are. What is that?
This is like eighth-grade science but the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. They help produce ATP energy units. If your mitochondria are damaged, then you’re not going to be producing those ATP energy units and it’s going to be a huge part of fatigue in general.
In our functional medicine training, there are all these different systems of the body such as the gut, the nervous system with the cellular energy system, the detox system, the structural system and so on. For many of us to look at the energy system and the mitochondria of a cell, which exactly produces our energy ATP, which is our fuel, our gasoline, it’s just something we don’t focus on quite as much unless you go down the functional medicine realm looking for these root causes. What would you say are the top causes of chronic fatigue syndrome?You can have adrenal fatigue and chronic fatigue at the same time. Click To Tweet
In my own practice, I work with reactivated Epstein-Barr a lot. Epstein-Barr is a virus that causes mononucleosis or mono, also called glandular fever in the UK. It’s a virus and the current thought process is that you get the virus, you get mono for a week or a month or whatever, and then it lays dormant and it doesn’t come back. Now, we know that that’s not necessarily true. It can reactivate. It’s a herpes virus just like the shingles virus. It can reactivate when you’re stressed and it’s the same with Epstein-Barr. It might not manifest on your skin, but it still manifests these flu-like symptoms. That’s a big one. Mold toxicity is another big one that I work with often and I often find that mold toxicity and reactivated Epstein-Barr can go along together.
Lyme is another one. Lyme is definitely a lot more talked about now probably a little bit more than reactivate Epstein-Barr, but there’s a link that is not super clear right now. I think we’re going to figure this out more in the next decade or so, but there’s a strong link between Lyme and Epstein-Barr and mold and how they can all activate each other. Those three are big ones. Adrenal fatigue is often part of it. Thyroid imbalances are often part of it. Any other environmental toxicities like heavy metal toxicities or other environmental toxicities from any other source is often part of it as well. I would say that Epstein-Barr, Lyme and mold are the big ones.
To point this out, my book is out. It’s on Amazon.com and it’s called Make a D.E.N.T. in Chronic Disease: Your Guide to Living Pain-Free Through Functional Medicine. The reason I bring it up right now is in chapter five of my book, I talk about exactly what you’re talking about. This book is about your immune system and the fact that many bugs, whether that be a virus-type bug or infection, a bacterial infection like Lyme or a mold infection. They can hide from our immune system. There’s a thing called molecular mimicry, but the idea is that they can be fighting in our organs and in ourselves and looking like our thyroid gland or looking like our joints or something like that. They can initiate an autoimmune condition and a hypersensitivity response, which of course what you’re saying is it could take someone down the path towards chronic fatigue syndrome. That immune system is constantly like your military trying to defend you and lost it. Obviously, you focus on chronic fatigue, but you also work with this idea of the reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus quite often. How does the Epstein-Barr virus contribute to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? What would be the specific links would you say?
First to get into the definition of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is also called CFS or you see that abbreviation and then you see it paired with ME or Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. One of the many practitioners nowadays is calling for a complete distinction between those two things. Myalgic Encephalomyelitis is literally inflammation of the brain and spinal cord. It can be part of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I find in my practice that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the CDC definition of it, is always a misdiagnosis, which is what I’m talking about on this too. There’s Epstein-Barr involved, there is Lyme. My job as a practitioner for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is just to uncover exactly what’s going on.
That term, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome might go away, but we’re dealing with Epstein-Barr, we’re dealing with Lyme. All of these things, I think conventional medicine doesn’t test for necessarily upfront. It’s not talked about. Epstein-Barr is a virus that causes mono. It’s also called Human Herpesvirus 4, a type of herpesvirus and it can cause mono in certain people. A lot of times people in college when your immune system is down and you’re just constantly eating pizza and beer all the time, you’ll get infected with mono. That mono stage can go away, but that virus is going to live in you forever because it’s a virus. For most people for forever, 90% to 95% of people in the United States have been exposed to Epstein-Barr. When there’s some stress, emotional stress, dietary stressing, all of these different types of stress, that virus can reactivate and lead to extreme fatigue. Often, it fits that picture of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, but it’s reactivated Epstein-Barr.
That’s again why so many of us that have experienced these things ourselves and been through the traditional medical model, for example, we were given a uniform. Maybe someone is diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. “Here’s your uniform. It’s called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” You say, “Thanks. Now, I know what I have, but what do I do?” The traditional medical model says, “Rest and eat well,” and that’s about it. Whereas folks in the functional medicine world like you and me, we dig deeper. We look for these root causes and we look for other theories, ideas or concepts that could be causing the problem such as a reactivation of a long-term infection and things like molecular mimicry. This is awesome because this is what people want to learn about and this is why they come looking for someone like you or me. How can you tell if you have a reactivated Epstein-Barr virus on a lab test? What do you do to look for this?
You have to get an Epstein-Barr antibody panel from a lab. Often your doctor can order this if you request it. It’s important to get four different antibodies for Epstein-Barr. It’s also important to know that Quest Diagnostics does not routinely test all four of them. If your doctor orders an Epstein-Barr antibody panel, they will test for three out of the four. They can test for that fourth one. That is so important, but you have to add it on separate. Know if your doctor works with Quest, make sure they get all four of these antibodies. LabCorp will routinely test for all four of these if you just get an Epstein-Barr antibody panel.
The antibodies are VCA IgG, VCA IgM, EBNA-IgG and early antigen IgG. The early antigen-1 is the most telltale one that you want to get to see if it’s higher than normal levels. That generally means that Epstein-Barr is reactivated. That early antigen is the one that’s not routinely tested, but they can. You have to tack it on separate, but just know that the early antigen 1, if it is raised, you’re likely dealing with a reactivated Epstein-Barr. There is a small subset of the population where early antigen can stay raised for life. Usually, those people aren’t seeking out tests for Epstein-Barr because they feel fine. If you’re having the symptoms of reactivated Epstein-Barr, you feel flu-like, extreme chronic fatigue and you can see that early antigen marker raised, then it’s very highly likely that you’re dealing with reactivated Epstein-Barr.
Could you name those off again for folks?
They’re all for Epstein-Barr specifically. The actual antibody names are going to be EBV, which stands for Epstein-Barr Virus. EBV VCA IgG is the first one. EBV VCA IgM is the second one. IgM usually tells if it is in the early stages like mono or not. There’s EBNA IgG and then there is Early Antigen, sometimes abbreviated as just EA IgG. That one is the one that you want specifically to tell if it’s reactivated.
The different antibodies, anything with IgM usually is an acute infection with something. IgG antibodies are usually that your immune system has already been fighting against the virus or some illness for quite a while. The reactivation would be that early antigen IgG saying, “Something’s amiss again.” It’s reactivating your immune system to kick into gear again. How often do you find this with the folks you work with?
Because I talk about reactivated Epstein-Barr a lot, I have a lot of blog posts on it. I have a lot of webinars and that thing. I tend to attract people that either thinks they have Epstein-Barr or reactivate Epstein-Barr or they actually have proof on a lab test and it is reactivated. I think I tend to attract a lot of people with reactivated Epstein-Barr anyway. In my own practice, it varies right now. At least in the past few months, I would say at least half of my clients, at least 50% or probably more like 60% to 70% have reactivated Epstein-Barr.
You’re someone who works with people who have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and you’re saying that you find more than half, 60% at least of them typically are positive for this early antigen IgG marker for reactivated Epstein-Barr.
A lot of times, we see this in my practice and the program that I do, we test everything upfront. We test for mycotoxins. We test Epstein-Barr. We test other viruses and gut bugs. Sometimes, we’ll test for reactivated Epstein-Barr. We’ll see it clearly on a lab test. We will work with that reactivated Epstein-Barr with potent antiviral herbs, things that we know work. A lot of times that works upfront. That helps somebody to gain traction on their health, but sometimes it doesn’t. Even if they have reactivated Epstein-Barr and we work with these strong antivirals that I know work so well for Epstein-Barr, if they’re not getting better then it’s important to understand what role mold, Lyme or other co-infections have in their case because the immune system isn’t helping us. There may be something that was overlooked or something else that we need to look at. Sometimes mold is a deeper issue than Epstein-Barr. If we’re looking at all the root causes, mold in and of itself can cause that Epstein-Barr reactivation. If we’re not dealing with mold, if we need to look at that more, then it’s important to make that distinction, to understand if you’re working with Epstein-Barr, you’re not getting better. Look to other things that are causing the Epstein-Barr to reactivate.
We talk about mold. As soon as you open the door or you open the window to being open to looking for something and asking people the questions, it’s amazing how many people will tell you. Especially I live in New England up in the white mountains, so there’s a lot of older buildings and a lot of wetness of course and snow, that kind of thing. People often are saying, “I live in an older home,” or “I work in an older building.” Do you find that to be a very typical part of the mold journey and are there clues that you look for?
Yeah, oftentimes, but I’ve also had cases of people that live in a lot of newer homes with mold. To give you an example, I’m working with a client now who lives in a newer home. I think it’s 20, 25 years old. She was fine up until we had to figure out for a mold story because we knew that mold was a factor, but she lived at the bottom of a hill. She was in California. What happened was her neighbor across the street that lived at the top of the hill installed a basement and that basement changed the underground waterways that were going into her house and all of a sudden her crawl space was flooded. She didn’t know it until some contractor came out and was just like, “Your wood floors are being weird and warped. I think that there’s a water issue here.” She had no idea. Once they got that exposed, it was so clear that we were dealing with mold. She had extreme Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Anyway, there are definitely cases like that where you have to do some investigating. A lot of times, there is the old house involvement, but there can be weird things like that you wouldn’t necessarily think of.
Mold is something. What are some testing and so forth you might do if you think mold is a concern for something?
There are a few different ways to go about this. There’s definitely what we call make Shoemaker Test by Dr. Ritchie Shoemaker who’s a pioneer in mold illness. He has his standard panel that he likes to do for mold. It’s mostly blood tests. Those blood tests tests for CIRS, Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. CIRS is often due to mold but not always. It can also be due to Lyme. It can also be due to reactivate Epstein-Barr because I’ve seen bark crosses the blood-brain barrier. Those blood tests are just telling if you have CIRS or not. You still have to do some investigating to see if it’s mold or not.In treating chronic fatigue, always strategize a plan moving forward while taking everything into consideration. Click To Tweet
I use a couple of Shoemaker’s tests. I don’t use all of them. They tend to get complicated as to which labs you need to do for the different markers. What I like to do is I will test MSH on a standard blood test, which is a melanocyte-stimulating hormone, which has a lot to do with immunity. If it’s lower than normal, you’re probably looking at long-term Chronic Fatigue Syndrome due to some cause. You need to deal with MSH if it’s low, but then I also like to do the mycotoxins panel. I do the one by Great Plains Lab. I do it provoked with glutathione. I will administer glutathione for five to seven days beforehand. It helps mold toxins release from your tissues so you can be genetically susceptible to mold illness.
If your body can’t detox these mycotoxins as well as your partner or something, it might explain why you have mold illness and your partner doesn’t and you both live in the same house. I like to use glutathione to provoke these mycotoxins to come out and we do a urine test by Great Plains. You can see all these different mycotoxins come out through the urine so then you know that you’re being exposed somewhere. If that’s confirmed, then I like to do an ERMI test. You’re testing your home for molds. They use DNA technology. It’s a great test. Dr. Shoemaker recommends this test as well. It’s by Mycometrics Lab. You’re testing dust samples in your home for the presence of mold and then they give you a score basically to show you how dangerous it is. That’s the way I do it.
It can get very complex and we all go through Dr. Shoemaker’s list of things and he does talk about more of the upfront tests and then the more complicated tests. We all create our protocols in which labs we work with and that thing. Exactly what you’re talking about is awesome. What about Lyme when you test for people? Of course the typical Lyme test, it may be positive, it may not. How do we go down that path?
I actually don’t attract as many Lyme patients as I would’ve thought. I worked with a lot of reactivated Epstein-Barr. We know that those two can be interlinked, but with Lyme, there’s a lab called Global Lyme Diagnostics. They’re an independent lab. I use them for Lyme testing because there’s Borrelia Burgdorferi, which is the bacteria that we all know of us a Lyme. There are other Borrelia bacteria that we now know can cause line that’s not necessarily Burgdorferi. The Global Lyme Diagnostics tests for the outer surface protein. That’s common in all Borrelia species. It will test if there are any Borrelia species in your body. It won’t tell you which one it is, but it doesn’t matter. If you have any Borrelia species in your body, it will test for that. It’s a very great accurate test for Lyme.
We’ve talked about obviously the viruses, the molds in the bacteria and the fact that they can be hiding and also there’s Chronic Inflammatory Response Syndrome. It could be caused by any of these three. I elaborate on exactly what we’re talking about in chapter five of the new book. What do you find most commonly leads to the Epstein-Barr virus becoming reactivated in some way?
Number one is stress. It’s stress from any source and that encompasses a lot of different things. I’ve had clients that had some emotional trauma or they went through a divorce or death in the family. They got these flu-like symptoms all of a sudden and their Epstein-Barr is reactivated. That can last for years and years sometimes. Stress is a big one, some toxicity overload. Heavy metals, some environmental toxicity and different viral infections. Human herpesvirus 6, cytomegalovirus, Lyme and co-infections like I mentioned. Mold is a huge one for reactivated Epstein-Barr. Any sort of gut stress, like a gut bug, some amoebic parasite and imbalance. Long-standing Epstein-Barr can damage the mitochondria and damaged mitochondria are going to lead to preventing the immune system from fighting off Epstein-Barr. It turns into this vicious cycle with the mitochondria issue sometimes. Those were the main ones.
How much of this is from the very beginning, someone is more at risk because of their lifestyle, because of their diet?
That’s definitely a factor as well. I also found that for whatever reason, some people seem to be more prone to Epstein-Barr reactivating, even if they have a healthy lifestyle. They’ve been through a program with me, they’re doing everything right. For some reason, they tend to react late more than the average person. In that case, they need to have their antivirals in their cupboard and know exactly what to do if they start getting those things again so they can knock it out. There are certain people that are more prone to Epstein-Barr reactivating and we don’t know exactly why yet.
What are the antivirals that you use for that?
There’s a lot in the medical literature. On PubMed.com, there are a lot of these studies that have verified evidence of different kinds of natural antivirals working against Epstein-Barr. It’s all clear and it’s all there. You have to sift through it. Lysine is huge. It’s a strong antiviral. I will often use Lysine. The only caution with that is if somebody has kidney issues where it can be a little hard on your kidneys when you’re taking such high doses for a long period of time, so caution with that. For most people, I will use Lysine. I’ll use 4,000 to 6,000 milligrams a day. I’ll move up to that and stay there for at least a few weeks. Licorice root is another great one. You have to get licorice root with glycyrrhizin. Not DGL, not deglycyrrhizinated licorice. Glycyrrhizin is actually the antiviral component of licorice. Sometimes even just adding in some licorice teas to the day, having people make licorice tea and drinking not throughout the day.
Sometimes I’ll do capsules. Douglas Labs makes a great licorice root capsule. I’ll do two of those a day. Cat’s claw is a great one, up to 3,000 milligrams a day. That’s a strong antiviral for herpetic viruses, the viruses in the herpes family. That one can sometimes cause a little bit of a strange reaction so I don’t always use that one, but it is such a strong potent antiviral. Monolaurin is another great one. I will move up to sometimes 5,000 milligrams a day. I will move up to that slow because monolaurin is not only antiviral but it’s also antibacterial and antifungal. If you take it all at once, you could get a very strong die-off reaction. With all of these, I like to move up slowly. Selenium is also great as antiviral and high doses.
Selenium at very high doses can be very toxic. Take caution with that. I will do 800 micrograms a day for a couple of weeks and then move back down. You don’t ever want to go higher than 1,500, 1,600 micrograms per day. You want to make sure that you’re taking everything into consideration what you’re already taken in a multi. NAC, N-acetylcysteine is also a great antiviral. I will sometimes do 2,000 to 3,000 milligrams a day. Barlean’s makes this olive leaf extract. I learned about this from my wonderful mentor, Dr. Kasia Kines, who works with Epstein-Barr a lot. She told me about this product and we both use it now and it’s so great. It’s just a liquid olive leaf extract, two to four tablespoons per day.
Those are the main ones and I don’t use all of those all at once. I’ll usually choose three-ish of those and cycle through them sometimes. My secret weapon for Epstein-Barr lately has been this formula by Byron White who’s an herbalist that has his own line. He works a lot with Lyme and co-infections, but he also has this one formula for Epstein-Barr. It’s called A-EB/H6. This is a practitioner-only formula. You have to be working with the practitioner to get access to Byron White formulas. I’ve been using that as a standalone thing for Epstein-Barr and I find it works wonderfully lately. It’s a tincture of multiple different herbs for Epstein-Barr. Also, other things to take into consideration are making sure that you’re methylating properly. Methylation has a lot to do with viral activity, especially if you have the MTHFR gene, but even if you don’t, making sure you’re getting those adequate levels B12 and B9.
For example, let’s bring up the licorice root again and the deglycyrrhizinated. How long would you keep someone on them?
The licorice root, I would go by symptoms. Sometimes we can get somebody to turn around their Epstein-Barr in two weeks and sometimes it takes months. Obviously if we’re not making progress in a month, maybe six weeks, then I’m going to be like, “What did we miss? Do we need to look closer into Lyme and mold or anything else?” As long as we’re making progress, sometimes it can be quick and sometimes it can be slow. There are a few exceptions here, but I will keep somebody on licorice long-term as long as they can handle it. Licorice root can build up in the system and cause high blood pressure. Caution, if you have high blood pressure, I don’t recommend licorice at all. That’s how it affects cortisol too.
It raises cortisol in the blood so it can affect blood pressure. It can build up. I just make sure to tell anybody that’s on licorice root long-term. If you start to feel irritable, if you start to feel that you’re dizzy, any of these high blood pressure symptoms, let’s go off licorice for now. There are a lot of other things we can do, but most of these are okay to take long-term. Don’t take Selenium more than 800 micrograms after two weeks. I’d recommend not doing that for longer than two weeks. The rest of them you can take long-term as long as somebody is feeling okay and as long as they’re making progress, I will keep them on that regimen, maybe slowly backing off a little bit until they’re better.
It sounds like someone definitely wants to be working with a provider when they get into some of these herbs. NAC, N-acetylcysteine is a precursor to glutathione. It’s going to promote someone’s detoxification. Six hundred milligrams twice a day or more upwards of 2,000 milligrams a day is typically not going to get anybody in any trouble. Many people take NAC for example all the time. I take it every day, twice a day for years on end, but some of the other ones, licorice, cat’s claw, selenium at the dosages you mentioned can become toxic to people. I’m just making the note that you want to be working with a functional medicine provider. Are you familiar with the book Medical Medium?
Yes, it’s funny. Anthony William’s Medical Medium, I’m very grateful that he brought the issue of Epstein-Barr to light because he’s the one that started talking about Epstein-Barr and how it has links to all these different diseases. We know in science there was a study that came out in I believe it was April of this past year that linked Epstein-Barr virus to eight different autoimmune diseases. Hashimoto’s is one, which we know before. There was lupus and Type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and a few other ones. I credit him a lot for bringing this issue to light. Oftentimes I find the women I work with have tried his protocols before, sometimes with some success, sometimes with no success. Sometimes it has to do with them having Lyme or mold, but I credit him a lot for bringing this to light. Now we can look at the science behind it. We can do more studies on it and get that science background involved in Epstein-Barr.Stress from any source is the number one reason for the Epstein-Barr virus to be reactivated. Click To Tweet
The Medical Medium, the reason I bring it up is because of exactly what you said. I honor him for the fact that he’s bringing something like Epstein-Barr to the forefront in the social media and populace. The idea that it’s a possibility of causing many autoimmune diseases and immune dysfunction that are taking so many people down chronic disease roads. My background is that I am a traditional medical doctor and a doctor of osteopathic medicine, but I also am a Shamanic healer. I went to Peru and studied with the natives there and I am very open. They can give us so many answers in life.
I found that intriguing for his book and I enjoyed it. The protocols are probably somewhat similar to many of the functional medicine protocols and the idea of cleaning up our act, eating more fruits and vegetables and foods that are antiviral and antibacterial. It’s boosting our immune system so that it can do its job rather than friendly fire if you will, at own glands like our thyroid or other organs in our body through autoimmune disease. What are the most important things that someone could do in order to kill off their Epstein-Barr virus? What is a prototypical protocol? What are the top five things that you would say to someone, “This is what you need to do to kill off Epstein-Barr?”
Besides the antivirals I listed which is obviously a huge part of it, you want to make sure that you are doing what every functional medicine practitioner says and clean up your lifestyle, clean up your diet. It’s important to eat whole foods. I always advocate going off gluten and dairy, even if you’re not sure if you’re sensitive or not, go off gluten and dairy. A lot of my clients I put on Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls. It’s great at helping to restore that mitochondrial energy because it’s so heavy on antioxidants from fruits and vegetables. Anybody with a long-standing Epstein-Barr infection is likely going to have mitochondrial damage or dysfunction and the Wahls Protocol is great for that. I usually put them on some modified version of the Wahls Protocol.
I love Terry Wahls. I love Dr. Wahls’ protocol. She actually is one of the people who endorsed my book that we’re talking about that came out. I was excited about that and honored for her to endorse my book. The idea that she presents three diets in that book. One is the Wahls Diet, which is pretty much a Mediterranean diet and then the Wahls Paleo, which is a paleo diet and the Wahls Paleo Plus where Dr. Wahls lives her life to get out of her wheelchair. That’s a ketogenic diet with a little bit towards Dr. Wahls. It’s dietary changes and of course everyone needs to individualize this. This is where the rubber meets the road and where people have got to put themselves through these diets to experiment and find out what works best for them because it’s not a one size fits all.
It never is. The one thing that is one size fits all is Whole Foods, but besides that it’s not one size fits all. Besides that, there have also been studies showing that electromagnetic frequencies can have an impact on Epstein-Barr and the activity of them. I’m starting to work with this a little bit more now, but making sure that if somebody is super sensitive, turning off Wi-Fi at night can be helpful sometimes and things like that. It’s making sure stress levels are under control and everything else I talked about, making sure that every other body system that is involved is being dealt with. If there is a thyroid imbalance, make sure you’re dealing with that and make sure that you’re dealing with the mitochondria side. Make sure you’re dealing with the adrenal. The body has so much support from all the different body systems that at least they’re functioning as well as they could be to try to get that immune system back into balance and help you fight off the Epstein-Barr with the antivirals that we’re using.
The avenues never end in the essence of trying to optimize. If someone’s doing well and they’re feeling fantastic and everything is working, then of course like anything, it’s supply and demand, a requirement of continuing to search. If someone does need to continue to search, then there’s so much more education out there to optimize their health. For example, a book called Earthing. Are you familiar with that?
I’ve heard of the concept of Earthing. I haven’t read that book though.
It’s about basically the fact that we’ve disconnected ourselves from the Mother Earth and the fact that we put shoes on our feet and they’re usually made of rubber or something that insulates. We lose our connection to all the electrons that are in Mother Earth. The fact that electrons, if you take your shoes off and live in California, it doesn’t get as cold as here, you get to the beach all year round. You get particularly in the edge of the water where the salt is high and you’re going to absorb more electrons. Those electrons will bind to the free radicals which are positively charged and neutralize them. That’s pretty much the concept. Also, you can purchase earthing sheets where you put it on your bed and then you plug it into the grounding socket. It’s the round part that goes into the hole, not the ACDC, but the grounding hole which then grounds you to the Earth and allows electrons to pass through the sheet and fill your body and neutralize the free radicals.
It’s the whole concept out there. How does someone get ahold of you?
It’s through my website, LauraDItri.com. I require all of my new or prospective clients to watch my webinar on how I approach Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. There’s a lot of upfront testing involved. We test a lot of these different things: mold, Epstein-Barr, different viruses and all of this. We strategize a plan moving forward, taking everything into consideration. My free webinar goes over all of that. It goes over all the testing I do in that process. Make sure that if you’re interested in talking with me further, you watch that first so you know exactly how I do things. It can be a little overwhelming for certain people because it’s a lot of tests upfront. It’s very rewarding in the long run because we know exactly what we’re dealing with. The best way to get ahold of me is to go to my website. There’s a lot of info on there.
How do you typically work with the client as far as how you set it up and then the length of time? How do you educate them on all these different avenues?
How I usually work with someone is I have a four-month program and there are certain instances where I might not need to do four months. I’ve worked with children before and then we’ll usually do a shorter program. In my typical four-month program, what we do is all testing upfront. A lot of these tests are at-home tests that you do, urine, saliva and that kind of thing. There is one blood draw, but we do all the testing upfront. We wait for the results to come back. In that meantime, we do a gentle homeopathic detox to make sure everything’s open and receptive to different products that we’re going to throw at your body afterward. We wait for all your test results to come back.
I look at them in a very comprehensive way and write out exactly what’s going on, which body systems are affected, which viruses are involved and all these different things. We set up a wellness time moving forward hat takes everything into consideration. Sometimes, I like to strategize the wellness plan if somebody has bad adrenals. I like to work on adrenals for a few weeks first just to get that stress response a little bit better, to get their energy levels a little bit better and then we might go in with antivirals or it depends on the person. After four months, it depends how long somebody has been sick, but I don’t necessarily expect to get somebody to 100% after four months, especially people that have been dealing with these things for decades. My whole goal is to set somebody up with a wellness program moving forward so that after the four months, after we’re done working together, they know exactly what they should be doing. They can still work with me if they want to, but they know exactly what they should be doing and how long I recommend being on certain things and the progress that they should be making. They have all the resources and I’ve taught them everything they need to know to take care of this on their own. That’s the goal.
It’s the same with us at Discover Health Functional Medicine Center, but a lot of also what I’ve created is educational programs. If folks are interested, Discover Health Functional Medicine Center and DiscoverHealthFMC.com is our website. If you go to the shop, I also have a link to my Facebook group and that’s a closed Facebook group, but anybody can join. For example, I did a Facebook Live on to wear or not to wear knee braces because of course my focus is on pain. A member asked, “Does anybody out there got a knee brace? Because I’m not sure which one to get.”
I did a research review and I did a Facebook Live on that. You notice the education is important. We have then a membership that starts to do that. The Facebook group is completely free. If you go into the educational membership, anything I’ve ever created as far as talks and educational materials I’ve recorded, someone can gain access for an entire year to anything and everything I’ve ever created. Also, level three would be everything up before that level, the educational material, but also five health coaching visits. For example, if someone is working with someone like you and yet towards those four months, your specialty input is above more what they need. You give them advice but they need a mentor and they need a coach to help them change their lives day-to-day, our third level three is we call the Accountability Membership. That might be something that people would be interested. I have the book that came out, Make a D.E.N.T. in Chronic Disease: Your Guide to Living Pain-Free Through Functional Medicine. Laura, thank you so much for joining me on this.
Thank you so much, Dr. Murray, for having me. This was a pleasure.
If you wouldn’t mind, let’s do a list of these four different antibodies. Let’s do some of the herbs you listed and if you could send them my way, we will post them with the blog.
I will do that.
Thanks again, Laura, and I hope everyone enjoyed this. Here’s to everyone’s health and to everybody having fantastic mitochondria and energy.
Thank you, Dr. Murray. Until next time.
- Laura D’Itri
- Chris Kresser
- Make a D.E.N.T. in Chronic Disease: Your Guide to Living Pain-Free Through Functional Medicine
- Quest Diagnostics
- Great Plains Lab
- Global Lyme Diagnostics
- Douglas Labs
- Byron White
- Medical Medium
- Terry Wahls
- Facebook – Discover Health FMC group
About Laura D’Itri
I’m Laura. I’m a passionate functional medicine practitioner who helps those with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome & related conditions reclaim their energy, joy, and clarity and truly thrive again.
My clients usually have reactivated Epstein-Barr virus, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/CFS, adrenal fatigue, mold illness, parasitic infections of the GI tract, various environmental toxicities, or some combination of the above. My practice is 100% virtual and I work with clients all over the U.S.
I’m a primary care provider in the state of California (LAc), a certified Functional Medicine practitioner through the Kalish Institute of Functional Medicine, and I have a Master of Science in Traditional Chinese Medicine from AIMC Berkeley.
My approach to CFS recovery uses functional testing to figure out multiple underlying imbalances that generally lead to it. By looking at these root causes, we can see what’s affecting what and what likely needs to be addressed first.
Then I work with you to remove these multiple underlying “triggers” like viruses/bacterial overgrowth/fungal overgrowth/toxins, replenish various vitamins and minerals that need to be replenished, then restore your cellular energy levels and other body systems that need restoring so you can reclaim real energy, clarity, and a life in alignment with your true health.