- Last Updated: 19 November 2015 19 November 2015
Questions & Answers
Q1) Is an annual flu shot a good idea or a bad idea for an adolescent with ME/CFS?
A: For an adolescent, the dosage of mercury alone every year is really, really additive and can cause brain injury in some people. Folks over 65 years old don’t usually seroconvert to flu. It is given to everyone, especially in nursing homes, to prevent the spread of flu but it doesn’t help the patient. Almost any immunization given to a person over the age of 65 won’t seroconvert, meaning they won’t build up antibodies adequately. A few people might, but not sufficiently. I’m not one for flu immunization. I’ve seen too many bad things.
Q2) US groups are trying to combine ME & CFS and code them the same―what do you think?
A: They are not the same. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was invented by Stephen Straus who thought he had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome when he had a brain tumor. You have to examine these people. I think the only way you can diagnose ME is you do a brain SPECT when the patient is tired. It is as simple as that. If their brain looks perfect, something else is causing their fatigue. It’s not a brain injury. ME is only diffuse brain injury. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can be anything from that list of things on the slide I showed you before. Anything, plus another 100 things that are not on those lists. When I am doing a report for disability insurance, even though everyone has free medical in Canada, I never mention the word ME. I never mention the word Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I never mention the word Fibromyalgia because the lawyers who are working for the insurance companies have all these experts who come and say, “Oh, everyone knows that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is a minor psychiatric disease and the people can really work.” So, you never mention that and you go to the heart of the matter and you go and say what is really wrong with these people.
Q3) If acute onset of CFS and ME causes brain damage, what type of treatments might help?
A: Well, I’ve mentioned that Dr. Chia, has had good success in finding the enterovirus in the stomach mucosa of CFIDS/ME patients. We’re just starting to use treatments that Dr. Chia has been using. That’s skeptical at the moment. I just don’t know. All I know is there is no good anti-enteroviral medication in existence at the moment. There are a lot of things I don’t know how to treat. One thing I have noticed in ME is people with money get better faster. And it is not because they have access to physicians. What it is— they have a cushion. I’ve had a lot of doctors come down with severe ME and diffuse brain injury after that epidemic period, and those with insurance stopped working, were able to relax, had money coming in, were able to live a healthy life, weren’t under any stress, their mortgages weren’t being taken out from underneath them, their spouses didn’t run away, everybody was happy, the kids were happy, and they got better. Not everyone, but most of them to some degree. None of them became 100% better. The doctors who were saying “Oh, God, I’m only 35. What do I need health insurance for, disability insurance” and didn’t get insurance, and they’d just graduated [from medical school] and they came down with that epidemic, not one of them, not one of those doctors is working today. Several of them committed suicide—they didn’t get better. After you fall ill, the ability to do nothing except relax and live a healthy life, gives the body a chance to fix itself. There is no better physician than the body.
Q4) Thoughts on any of the following treatments that I read about that some people are trying: Imunovir, low dose naltrexone, antivirals?
A: You have to investigate the patient thoroughly to find out why they are ill and know what you are treating.
Q5) What is POTS?
A) Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome is one of the classic dysautonomias. We see it most commonly after the recombinant hepatitis B immunization. We have 200 patients I mentioned earlier with POTS. What is POTS—your heart rate, which should be running around 60-80 beats per minute, should drop to 45 beats per minute when sleeping. What happens with POTS people when they’re sleeping, is that their heart rate may drop down to 55-60 beats per minute and then when they awake, and try to move or do anything, their heart rate rises to over 100 beats per minute, which is tachycardia, or close to it in the 90’s. If they get excited or if they try to do anything their heart rate may instantly go up to 150 to 200 beats per minute. If you put them on a treadmill, their heart rate can go up to 300 and you have to stop them. POTS is a major consequence to several other conditions. One is a brain injury, and injury to the system regulating the pressure in the blood vessel. I spoke about it earlier, I just didn’t use the word POTS.
Q6) I had acute onset of ME 1990 after a bout of pneumonia—had years of recurring infections. Now, in 2012, diagnosed with Sjőgren’s (via positive salivary gland biopsy), joint enlargement deformity/pain—worsening of dental issues with tooth loss. Do I have autoimmune disease replacing ME? Both?
A: Of course you do. Forget about the names ME, CFIDS & FM. Ask what is causing this real symptom. You can’t run off and have a test. You have to have a total body examination.
Q7) How do you do a workup?
A: I’ll try to send to your group my working profile and you may even want to publish it. It will give you an idea of how extensive my exam is. We do Skype interviews with patients for 2 hours and sometimes we can help them.
Q8) Is a TB test a good idea?
A: We do a tuberculin skin test on every patient. We have picked up 5 cases of TB among people who think they have CFS. And it is so simple to do. It is a little skin test, costs nothing, put a little bleb underneath the skin. If the next day you have a big red reaction, you may have TB. You could have other diseases which could blow up.
Q9 ) I have very high heavy metal toxicity after EDTA & DMPS chelation. I have become much worse with my ME & FM. Your thoughts on this?
A: This treatment really doesn’t work. I don’t know a treatment that works. The idea of chelation has made a lot of people rich in Canada and the United States. What happens with heavy metals toxins is it goes in the brain. We had some serious injury to farmers when I was working in Glasgow for a short period of time. The doctor was doing every test he could on these farmers. We found exposure to different kinds of pesticides, herbicides and metals, but nothing special. They put them through chelation and all sorts of things. There was nothing we could really prove until they died. When they died, we got their brains and the brains were so solid with mercury, pesticides and herbicides that I phoned the Mounties, our national police force, like your FBI and CIA combined, and asked, “If you wanted to murder your husband with a nice milkshake of herbicides and pesticides could you tell?” They said, “We can’t.”
Q10) How does POTS contribute to CFS?
A: It doesn’t contribute. POTS patients have it the worst. The POTS and autonomic nervous dysfunction people are so terribly ill—those are the ones that are not usually here. The better POTS patients might be here, but the serious ones are home in bed right now. They don’t even know there is a Massachusetts organization to help them.
Q11) What can you tell us about the relationship to gender and CFS/ME?
A: I mentioned earlier about the difference between RA and girls and boys. Boys don’t get it and the girls do. What you are looking at with women is that they have a very different immune system. 80% of the all of the ME/CFS type patients are women. 80% of all of the MS patients are women. 80% of the RA patients are women. They have an immune system that is organized so that when they get pregnant they don’t reject the baby as an autoimmune reaction. Their immune system shuts off as part of their natural reproductive ability to develop and build a healthy child. They already have an immune system which shuts off and starts on its own, so they are more vulnerable to any autoimmune disease and most of the CFS diseases that we have talked about are highly related to the autoimmune system.
Q12) Are women who had children more likely to get ill?
A: I don’t know. I’ve never done the statistics on that. The last time we did statistics was around 15 years ago when we were looking at patients after the epidemic period of 1984 and that is one question we didn’t ask, and that would have been a really useful question.
Q13) What’s the difference between acute ME & CFS and gradual onset?
A: ME is a diffuse brain injury that is measurable. If you can’t measure it you don’t have ME. CFS depends on whether the onset is acute or gradual—if acute, it can be a combination of genetics, immunizations, medication, viral infections, things you can’t always prove, trauma, brain injury. It can be a combination of things.
Q14) Can you explain more about gradual onset?
A: Gradual onset patients are one of the most interesting sub-types of CFS because it almost always is something which is building in the patient. Those patients are the ones we find cancers in, those are the ones we find organ injury in, but those are the ones that are often best treatable. But you have to find out why.
Q15) What’s the difference between acute and chronic?
A: Most people who have acute onset ME get better. If they are not better within a year, they lapse into what we would call chronic. And very few of those people get better. On their own, probably 25 % of that group does get better. But that still leaves a large percentage of patients that don’t get better. You have to stop thinking in terms of ME, CFS and FM. You have to ask what is causing my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. That is absolutely essential. If you can answer that question you have a chance of curing the patient.
Q16) Did you have the polio vaccine before getting polio?
A: I fell ill in grade 8 so I must have been around 11-12 years old and that was 1948. The vaccine came out in 1954-55. But even before the vaccine was introduced in 1954, it had been tested on people in the island of Newfoundland and in the island of Granada, and it killed pretty well everyone they gave the immunization to. So the vaccine was withdrawn and retooled. It was reintroduced somewhere else and it didn’t kill the people and ever since it has been the safest immunization known to God and man. It was a wonderful invention.
There had been a high risk of having your child die from polio. You hear about all the paralysis, but not about the deaths. Most of these kids died. It was also mainly women who died, not kids, but you didn’t hear about those statistics because there was no research money for women in those days. Money was easier to get if children were being studied. I don’t know if any of you remember Little Jimmie, the March of Dimes advertisement. Even then, women would give money for the study of children. Only later did the advertisers bring in a girl.
Q17) Is medical cannabis an option for replacing other meds?
A: I was on the medical committee in Canada, the LeDain commission, which looked at the safety of drugs. The LeDain commission came out showing that marijuana was not dangerous at all. Medical cannabis depends if you are taking it by a pill form, inhaling it from a cigarette or taking it internally as in the wild stuff. All my friends who grow cannabis are as ill as can be physically. And they smoke it all the time. Does it help you sleep? Yes, it does—so does cocaine. So does morphine. Do you get good sleep? Anything you inhale into your lungs is causing you major, major damage. I’m not one for cannabis.
Q18) Do you win when you go up against American insurance companies?
A: We almost always win. It is not because we’re good; it is because of what we do.
Q19) How do you afford to practice medicine?
A: I make an average of $40,000 a year in medicine. Every now and then I buy a property and sell it at a ridiculous price 5-10 years later and make a couple of million dollars. It is easy to make money but it is boring. But in medicine I just like to try to figure out what is wrong with people and that is a lot of fun. We charge a lot of money to see American patients, about $10,000. But then we do all the testing in Canada which costs about $6-7,000. The Canadian patients are only charged about $3-4,000. However, it still takes us 18 months to investigate them and we do a better job than any of the big American clinics.
Q20) How do you win against insurance companies?
A: Insurance companies are really easy to beat if you know what is wrong with the patient, and these patients are seriously ill. We have done about 2000 patients since 1984 and most of them were in the early years. Now we take much longer per patient and only take about 20 new patients a year. They are easy to win because the patients are so ill. The cases never go to court because the insurance companies settle.