Preface for my new book – Transforming Trauma

Transforming Trauma
by Dr. Heather L. Herington, ND

David J. Schleich, PhD
President, National University of Natural Medicine

Dr. Herington begins at the beginning in this book; that is, she does not assume that ours is the best of all possible worlds, given the perceived progress of biomedicine in the decades since Abraham Flexner’s Report was published; she does not accept holus- bolus the assumptions of the APA’s DSM, with is propensity for “pathologizing any human experience”. Rather, grounding us in the history and early professional insights into PTS/D (or, as it is also know, complex trauma disorder), and anchoring her unfolding conversation in a robust review of current neuroscience and epigenetics (such as challenging the static inheritability of DNA or demystifying, for example, the process of inflammatory mediators and the neuro-inflammatory process), she weaves the best of didactic, narrative and clinical information into a very impressive whole.

In this rigorous discussion, Dr. Herington takes into account the intricate old and new literatures about medicine and health. She elucidates the emerging conversations among health care professionals about gut-brain axis, nutritional deficiency, the HPA axis, the neurobiology of chronic stress and more. She asserts, “We in North America have generated one big mess in treating mental health and we have a lot of work to get it right.” Dr. Herington tells us a great deal about treatment paths other than conventional drug treatments, such as alternatives to the favored serotonin or chlorpromazine regimens so common in allopathic care for PTS/D.

This remarkable book is about what has been missing; actually about what, all this time, has been in hiding in plain sight: natural medicine solutions in a world where, as Ivan Illich has contended, conventional medicine has severe limitations. This book is a touchstone for those healers wanting to help patients using drugless healing with PTS/D, ACE and other conditions with psychological trauma at the core. Dr. Herington’s
work is as comprehensive as it is precise and functional. Her insights about contemporary sanctioned treatment of PTSD are disciplined and valuable. Dr. Herington stares down toxic psychiatry square on with outstanding didactic information, clinical pearls, and proven protocols.
In these pages clinicians will find substantial data and abundant information on such topics as the complex and surprising history of medicine in North America, the role of inflammation in the trajectory of chronicity, epigenetics, neuroscience, conventional treatment by psychiatry and psychology, naturopathic medicine, clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, and unconventional psychotherapies, to name some of the key topics among a significant taxonomy of material essential to this conversation about behavioral health.

Dr. Herington demonstrates successfully that PTS/D is hardly a new phenomenon, tracing its roots and presentation from The Epic of Gilgamesh (the poetic tale of the King Uruk of Mesopotamia) to Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Emily Dickinson, and on to the prescient and powerful work of Harold Napoleon of the Alaskan Yuu’pik First Nation people. She takes care to clarify with considerable thoroughness how PTS/D is expressed. She shares gracefully a remarkable continuum of sources to do this, including significant contributions by eminent scholars such as Dr. Judith Herman (Harvard) to the theoretical constructs of Chris Brewin Freeman, among many, many others.

As well, she moves the discourse carefully through an historical perspective on DSM and a careful consideration of the science behind this massive field. In Part Three, for example, Dr. Herington provides a succinct, immediately useful overview of nutrient- drug interactions, the extraordinary utility of lifestyle, food, and detoxification options from so-called “drugless therapies” including naturopathic medicine, homeopathic medicine, and botanical medicine.

Part Four of this book is a gold mine of drugless treatments, skillfully framed in discussion about nutrition, lifestyle and detoxification. An especially valuable component of this comprehensive work is Dr. Herington’s chapter on Body-Mind Connection. With equal gusto, she delivers exceptional insight into the potential of the expressive arts, homeopathy, hydrotherapy, Chinese medicine, chiropractic, Ayurveda, still point therapies, and Mind-Body, to name some of the key sections.

Valuable to consider and understand is the cumulative, full import of a work of this magnitude. Dr. Herington is among a small, but growing number of Naturopathic Doctors with decades of clinical experience, research, teaching and learning among them, who are enthusiastically and meticulously writing about critical health topics. This community of scholarly naturopathic clinicians is well represented here by Dr. Herington. Her book, written in elegant, clear, often witty prose, is a strong statement of commitment to healing and teaching. Increasingly unmoored from inherently healthy roots in our culture, health care professionals and patients alike will experience Dr. Herington’s work here as reassuring and prescient. She writes with such alacrity.

Toxins in our world, in our body: a nutshell of what to do

Environmental toxins are so annoying. It seems the more you know the more frustrating it can be to get rid of them. Especially when you hear on the news that municipal water is full of lead or a river has been contaminated with copper and arsenic. It’s taken a long time for the conventional medical community to get that there is a connection between toxins and disease. And although we should be cleaning up our rivers and oceans at the same time, we must have a personal plan to reduces our exposures and maximizes our body’s ability to detox. I have been detoxing patients (and myself) for over thirty years through my 35 Day Detoxification and Rejuvenation Program. There are many detox protocols but the bottom line is you must target the major detoxification organs – liver, kidneys, skin – which will have an effect on your entire body perhaps most importantly your thyroid, the master (mistress?) regulator of the body. (The thyroid has an affinity for heavy metals especially if levels of iodine, selenium and zinc are low.) I have seen people’s health issues disappear by a thorough detox program that includes a vegan diet, botanical medicine, colonics, hydrotherapy, and nutritional supplementation. But first get tested…I use ARL lab for hair and Doctor’s Data that uses a 24 hour urine, and Great Plains Labs for pesticides. Personally I have discovered mercury, lead, thallium, arsenic through these test). Once you know what you are dealing with then you can add nutritional supplements to use. Your naturopathic doctor is trained to help you. It’s worth the time and money to do this right. But for now, here’s what to do in a nutshell: Check your cosmetics and cleaning products.This is so important. Get tested. I suggest the following to do daily, especially if you live in a urban environment. Infrared sauna 15 minutes, trampoline 3 – 5 minutes (get your lymph system going, it’s the garbage disposal of the body), drink only filtered alkaline water, eat only organic foods. Drink organic teas like nettle, dandelion root, tulsi, ginger…eat raw garlic, add turmeric to your pesto etc One last thing I want to emphasize and this is mas importante! Check your emotional state! If you are stressed your adrenals can become fatigued and when that happens the receptors in your adrenals for some reason have a higher affinity for heavy metals. And if you need more information, think about attending my workshops and retreats…one stop shopping with state of the art info on thyroid, nutrition, detox protocols, the expressive arts (particularly good at clearing away yucky memories, this stuck psychological energy may be impacting your physical reality). And if you can’t attend personally check out my radio play on healing Graves Disease or read the essay there from Townsend Letter Best of Naturopathic Medicine 2015…lots of tips..check my other podcasts and essays and keep checking back to this blog. Feel free to leave suggestions so I can address your top health concern. I want to help you feel awesome, especially now in these crazy, annoying and anxiety-inducing times. And if nothing else kiss a tree, a flower, each other. We will get through this.

Surviving an Influenza Supervirus – Chapter Two

Chapter Two

The Influenza Virus Strikes

Originally attributed to the “influence” of the heavenly bodies, the result of this devastating virus became known as Influenza early on in human history.

Transmitted through the air, the influenza virus, only 80 to 120 nm in size, produces a lower respiratory infection that inflames and damages the larynx, trachea and bronchi. Symptoms include fever, nasal and throat congestion, body aches, and possibly a rash. But that can be just the beginning. More violent symptoms, as seen in the 1918 epidemic described below, included profuse nosebleeds and hemoptysis, blood coughed up from the respiratory system. Some chroniclers noted bleeding from the ears, explosive coughing that tore apart abdominal muscles and rib cartilage; terrible headaches, skin changes including blue around the lips or fingertips signifying cyanosis (lack of oxygen), vomiting, intense body aches, writhing.*

One of the most devastating epidemics humankind has ever experienced, influenza struck during the last year of World War I and was erroneously nicknamed the Spanish Flu. An invisible killer of 50 million people, scientists have since been able to sort through the details. It is not pretty or reassuring. And it didn’t originate in Spain. It erupted in Fort Riley, Kansas, as men were getting ready to go overseas to fight:

It is March 11, 1918. There has been a dust storm that has mixed with burning manure from thousands of army horses and mules that are getting ready to go overseas to battle. There is a haze above the fort and the cook comes down with a bad cold. One hundred men also get sick with a similar presentation to the cook. But then forty-eight soldiers die, attributed to pneumonia. Before you know it 84,000 soldiers ship out to Europe and then 118, 000 the next month. Six soldiers die on the ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean. Now Europe is infected with soldiers on both sides beginning to die. By July whatever this is has struck soldiers and civilians in North Africa, Russia, India, China, Japan, the Philippines, as far as New Zealand.
The virus mutates, making it impossible for the immune system to fight back easily and when it arrives back across the Atlantic to the good ol’ USA it becomes a devastating situation. No one has seen anything like this before.
In late August and early September doctors at Chelsea Naval Hospital in Boston in are shaken to discover that bloody, foamy liquid is drowning the soldiers’ lungs. Three people in nearby Quincy die. The unknown assailant is an airborne virus and at the parade ‘A Win the War for Freedom’ it ends up spreading the disease to the rest of the population. One thousand people die within a month.

No one knows what to do since they haven’t even seen a virus under a microscope because an electron microscope won’t be invented for another 20 years!!

One doctor describes it as “a most vicious type of pneumonia” he had ever seen: “Two hours after admission they have the mahogany spots over the cheek bones, and a few hours later you begin to see cyanosis (blueness, lack of oxygen) extending from their ears and spreading all over the face. It’s only a matter of hours then until death comes and it is simply a struggle for air until they suffocate.”

During this time local governments took measures…people in San Francisco were forced by law to wear masks…elsewhere whole towns were quarantined, public places were closed.
In San Diego a law forced people to wear gauze masks in the street. A government rhyme went like this:

Obey the laws
And wear the gauze
Protect your jaws
From septic paws.

But by November 1918, eight months after it started, the pandemic died down, disappearing as fast as it came on.

Structure of an Influenza Virus

Influenza A, B and C are differentiated by their internal nucleoprotein and matrix (or outer) proteins. It is Influenza A virus that can infect humans, birds, swine along with seals and horses that we are concerned with in this handbook. (Influenza B affects only humans so now crossover concern and C can infect humans and swine but it is very rare.)

Like any virus, Influenza A virus has two particles: a protein coat that wraps around its genetic material, a nucleic acid core.

In influenza the genetic material is RNA, ribonucleic acid, rather than DNA, the nucleic acid that makes up other viruses. RNA has a very high rate of mutation (only the HIV virus that causes AIDS is higher). This can be a million times more that of DNA.

Influenza A virus is shaped like a corkscrew. There are eight twists, each containing some of the genetic material. Only two of these are of real concern, the ones that generate the viral coat protein. These two viral coat proteins are called antigens and are what the killer cells of our immune system react to: hemagglutinin (H) and neuramindase (N).

Hemagglutinin and neuramindase have various subtypes. H has fourteen and N nine, each drastically different from the other.

This ability to conjure new strains is what makes the influenza viruses so dangerous, this ever changing, always evolving ability. This unpredictability, or antigenic drift, means the immune system is always trying to catch up, to get to know a new virus. Meanwhile the virus travels through the air, circulates within a family, a school, or a community looking for new host cells to infect.

However this doesn’t happen during one bout of disease. This happens when the RNA segments are actually…get ready for it…swapped between different viral strains of pigs and ducks.

Thus as they outwit us at every turn by changing their structure not only internally it is when our genetic material is swapped with some from a pig or a bird is where the real danger lies.

In 1918, this “Spanish” Flu, was ground zero for H1N1 although no one knew to categorize it that at the time.

And although it can happen within ducks and other water birds, it seems pigs are what the Zimmerman brothers call in their book Killer Germs, “nature’s true mixing bowl for flu viruses.” Apparently if a human flu virus replicates inside a pig it could get an H or N gene from a duck. This is why the 1918 pandemic would ultimately be called the first swine flu.

It’s easy for us in North America to keep pigs and humans apart but not so easy in countries in Asia where their farming practices rely on polyculture, meaning hens are kept above pigs and feed on their feces. These pig feces then fertilize ponds where ducks swim…well, you get the picture.

What seems to be true as well as frightening is that influenza viruses can thrive in the digestive tract of these critters—pigs and ducks —with no harmful effect on them. So they don’t die off.

In 1976 there was another scare of swine flu, something no one had seen since 1918 but it turned out to be mostly H3N2, and the H1N1 was not as transmissible as in 1918, not nearly as virulent.

It is the proficiency of spreading, the transmission of the viral vector that is often the determining factor. For instance, the H5N1 (bird) flu cannot spread between humans (it first jumped from birds to humans in 1997 ) but it was a major scare in 2005 (from ducks in Vietnam). This particular flu virus is poorly adapted to its human host because of its inability to transmit efficiently. It does not become airborne; it is not therefore transmissible when people sneeze or cough.

In the last one hundred years there have been five influenza pandemics. In the H1N1 of 1918 all new recombinant genes came from birds; the H2N2 “Asian” flu of 1957 added new genes including H and N from birds; the H3N2 “Hong Kong” flu of 1968 added genes from wild ducks; and the “Russian” flu of 1977, a 1950s version of H1N1, that is supposed to have escaped from a Russian lab. And then there was another H1N1 “swine” flu, in 2009 in Mexico.

This continuing ability to make changes genetically is why there are regular yearly outbreaks of the “flu” and then every decade or so an epidemic of some level of influenza. The past century has seen pandemics from viruses of the H1, H2 and H3 subtypes but not H5 although it is circulating in flocks of birds throughout the world and needs only five mutations in its gene code to possibly become transmissible between humans. If this happens or two different strains of another subtype recombine into a new version of the influenza virus capable of illness in humans we are in serious trouble.

But before we all get our knickers in a twist or hyperventilate let’s look at the obstacles a virus must contend with before it can establish itself with a new host population.

First it has to find the right host cell receptor molecule to unite with…something that stops the virus in its tracks right there…and then it also has to use the cell’s machinery, also a possible detriment to a successful mission.

And so we can develop our host response, build our immune system before we get anywhere near an influenza virus A with any subtype. We can harness our reserves through increasing optimal immunity, what this handbook is all about.

Surviving Influenza – Chapter One cont’d – Viruses, Just What Are They?

Viruses, Just What Are They?

If viruses could speak, they would have a long story to tell. They have been around for two to three billion years, all the way back to when life on Earth consisted of one-celled bacterium.

Thank the electron microscope we know viruses are the cause of Yellow Fever, Chicken Pox, Smallpox, Ebola, AIDS, the common cold as well as Influenza.
Interestingly, the majority of viruses are harmless. They don’t infect us and cause disease. And they are essential for evolution. As Wolfherd Weidel wrote, “Nothing brings us closer to the riddle to life—and to its solution—as viruses.” It would seem we aren’t there yet!

But our concern in this handbook doesn’t lie on viewing the goodness of a virus over time. Rather our focus is on a virus’s ability to disrupt our immune system and cause sickness and death.

Bernard Dixon in his book, POWER UNSEEN wrote, “A small bacterium weighs one trillionth of a gram and a blue whale 100 million grams. Yet a bacterium can kill a whale.”

And a virus is oh so much smaller than any bacteria could ever dream of being. Its kill rate is impressive: up to 50 million in 1918, the first pandemic of what is now known as swine flu; and now Liberia, in 2014, struggling with the Ebola virus, worries for its very survival as a country.

The medicalese or fancyspeak for a virus is an obligate intracellular parasite. This means a virus is a parasite that is obligated to use another living thing’s cellular apparatus in order to survive.

And with as much havoc as a virus is capable, it is not considered a living substance, to most scientists. (You can make up your own mind.) It cannot replicate on its own, breathe oxygen, can’t ingest food or eliminate waste.

We can’t see them as they float around in the air, or on water, or in food, just waiting to invade a living organism so they can survive. With no reproductive capabilities of their own they have choice but to link up to one of our host cells, pirating the cell’s machinery.

So, what do we need to know about these viruses, these “obligate host cell parasites” without getting into too much detail?

As said, a virus is completely dependent on another life to survive, to reproduce itself. It can use cells from humans but it can also replicate inside a bacteria, a plant or an animal. They are parasites through and through, hijacking living cells to do their bidding.

The whole viral structure is called a virion and the outer part is called the capsid. Some viruses have an envelope that surrounds the outer layer but that is getting into too much detail.

For a virus to do us damage, the protein coat of the virus has to fit into a receptor site on our human cell. Attaching itself, the cell membrane then enfolds, pinching off a tiny vesicle that contains the virus, allowing it entry.

Once inside, the virus immediately makes copies of itself. The hijacked host cell has no choice but to churn out viral particles as it respond to the virus’s control tower, its nucleic acid core.

It’s important to know that different viruses vary greatly in shape, size, and complexity but they all share two basic structures: the genetic material of a nucleic acid core (either DNA or RNA) and a protein coating that protects this nucleic acid.

In other words, any one virus is made up of small bits of genetic material wrapped by a protein core. There are also proteins called receptors on the outside of the virus that allows it to recognize proteins in the host cell’s membrane.

All viruses have their specialty. The host cell they are attracted to may be in your nose or mouth, or elsewhere and their traveling route can be by air (for example Influenza), or by water, or through food. Whatever part of the body and whatever route, the virus then pierces the membrane of its new host so it can enter in order to divide and multiply.

Do you remember endoplasmic reticulum and ribosome and cytoplasm from biology class? This equipment is what a virus lacks and so forces the host cell to become its slave for a day or two until the host bursts open from all the copies being made inside it. But by that time it’s too late. The viruses have done what they set out to do: replicate themselves.

Now, while this is going on your immune system—our body’s defense system—begins to take action. One mode is killer cells, white blood cells that have been on the lookout for any unwanted pathogens including a virus on an ongoing basis. These killer cells have friends in high places and once they are alerted to a viral invasion they call on them- proteins called antibodies-that will recognize the virus, (at least if this type of virus has been in the body previously). These antibodies will stick to the trespasser, so that the killer cells can gobble the virus up.

Thankfully (or we’d all be dead) this process usually kills the virus. But if it doesn’t, it and a zillion others like it are able to make a lot of new viruses, causing an infection, making us potentially very sick.

Only new viruses, or more accurately, new combinations of older viruses, can destroy us. Over history many have been eradicated or been minimized because some people survived, not succumbing to the challenges of a virus attacking the immune system.

Even the virus of a common cold could have killed you or me if we had lived thousands of years ago. As our bodies came to know this virus, our immune systems were challenged, over and over, to garner an appropriate response. Once a devastating and terminal viral attack, we finally became “immune” and now the common cold is just an annoyance that leaves our heads stuffed up, our noses running but it doesn’t kill us.

The danger of a virus lies in the fact that it is constantly mutating or as some call it, emerging. This means it will have less chance of it being recognized by the immune system and the body will react to it like it is a new virus.

This ability to mutate as well as integrate virions (virus particles) from pigs or birds is the reason viruses have the potential to cause global disaster and why vaccines have little benefit. It is hard to create a vaccine because no one can predict how it will change.

•Emerging Viruses like Ebola

Ebola is a virus. In 1976 in Zaire, when the Ebola virus first emerged from the jungles of Central Africa, transferred from animal to human, it annihilated 90% of the population it encountered. The reason for this is that humans had never encountered the exact structure of an Ebola virus. Victims died within a week of exposure, not enough time for the host to spread the virus, and they both withered away and died.

One of the tragedies of deforestation, a practice that disrupts the ecology amid poor harvesting practices, along with global warming, is that new viruses are creeping out of the jungle, trying to find an undisturbed home elsewhere. Or it could be that a human ate a gorilla that had eaten a bat or other creature that harbored the virus but didn’t die.

It took forty years for the Ebola virus, lingering in reservoirs, to make a new and more monumental entrance, letting loose on previously unexposed populations that have no resistance?

Is it that the environment has changed drastically? That we need to become better stewards of the land? Become more concerned with traditional foods and medicines? So many questions that need answering.

Whatever the case, this type of deadly transmission in which people have little protection is no different from the genocidal ability of the smallpox virus regarding the aboriginals in North America, and the Aztecs in Mexico (along with measles and influenza.) Unintentionally, these viruses were brought to the New World by Columbus and Cortés, but later were intentionally used to conquer these people, true genocide in action as with Lord Jeffrey Amherst infecting blankets with smallpox with the Native Americans/First Nation.

Surviving Influenza – Chapter One – Pathogens and Humans


Chapter One

Infectious Disease and Epidemics

It is said that infectious disease, caused by pathogens whether a virus, bacteria, protozoan, fungi or worms, has been the single most important factor in shaping human history. The most evident is its ability to cause epidemics or worldwide pandemics.

The three most deadly infectious epidemics were the Plague of Justinian in the 6th Century, 30 to 50 million lives lost in Asia, North Africa, Arabia and Europe; the Bubonic Plague or Black Death, in 14th Century Europe, again 50 million dead; and the pandemic of “Spanish” Flu of 1918-1919 with up to 50 million people dead, and half the world, another 50 million, sick from it.

Although differing strains, the first two plagues were caused by the bacteria Yersinia pestis, harbored by fleas on rats. Scientists believe that the first strain in the Byzantine Empire (the Plague of Justinian originated in Egypt and spread first to Constantinople before moving into Asia and Europe) was an evolutionary dead end. But currently viable strains of Yersinia pestis could elicit a new epidemic, or, due to air travel, a worldwide pandemic. The good news is that improved hygiene since 14th Century and antibiotics make this less of a probability.

There are many other examples of pathogens affecting us. In the Southwest US in 1993 a virus from the feces of mice spread through the Navajo nation causing sudden respiratory failure in healthy people. The shaman said this wasn’t new, that it happened during heavy rains and the pine nut harvest was plentiful. And then there’s Enterovirus D-68 and other gastric oriented viruses. This first exploded among vaccinated children in the summer of 2014.

What’s important to understand is that there have been 400 emerging, or new, infectious diseases since the beginning of World War 2, and that 60% of these are zoonotic, meaning they come from animals. This crossover isn’t new. For instance measles originated from the domestication of livestock a long long time ago. More recently we know the source for the Ebola virus is bats, HIV from monkeys and influenza from birds and pigs.

Sticking to influenza, the first swine flu, triangulated from a pig and bird to join a human gene, was the so-called “Spanish” Flu.” Unlike Ebola and other viral infections it is right at home in North America and Europe and doesn’t need an airplane to make an appearance. So unlike the overland trade routes in the 14th century that spread Black Death, a plague harboured by rats, or smallpox by ships centuries later this virus, responsible for the annual outbreak of “flu” lives among us. This is not a bacteria—with a known structure an antibiotic can kill—but an RNA virus that continually changes its structure, easily eluding any attempt at a match for a vaccines. Its RNA nucleic core cannot be stopped. The reality is this virus is a highly mutating pathogen; a virus that—especially when pigs and birds are involved—is exceedingly difficult to pin down and eradicate.

And that’s the danger we face.

A Little History

A few centuries ago, when no one had a clue what a virus or other pathogen was, what it could do or what it looked like the term spontaneous generation arose. This common belief held that life could arise from non-life or inorganic material. For example, people assumed that maggots simply appeared on rotting meat.

This idea was trashed in 1668 when the Italian physician Francesco Redi proved these maggots did not just spontaneously appear. They came, in fact, from flies that had laid tiny eggs on the rotting meat. The maggots were simply the intermediary or larval stage in the cycle of a fly.

This discovery occurred about the same time as the Dutch lens-maker Antonie van Leewenhoek (1632-1723) first visualization of microbes (a general term that covers all microscopic organisms, healthy or unhealthy) through a primitive microscope. He didn’t know exactly what he was looking at but as turned out it was a bacterium, not the much, much smaller entity of a virus.

But the game was on, if slowly, to discover the cause of people falling ill. Many theories crept in and it was well over a century later that Louis Pasteur (1822-95) in Paris and Robert Koch (1843-1910) in Berlin established germs as the cause of infectious diseases.

Pasteur too had dispelled the concept of “spontaneous generation,” by demonstrating the existence of airborne microscopic “germs” while Koch isolated the first bacterium, Bacillus anthracis.

Over time, and to make a longer story shorter there remained a group of infectious diseases that could not be isolated to a causative organism. These microbes were called “filterable agents” in light of the fact they were getting through the material the scientists used to trap bacteria and other pathogens. They decided these “filterable agents” must be extremely small but considered them, simply, tiny bacteria.

Then, in 1898, Martinus Beijerinck, a microbiology teacher at an agricultural school in Holland coined the word “virus.”

Building on Adolf Mayer’s work in Holland and later Dmitry Ivanovsky in Russia, Beijerinck repeated filter experiments (on plants, how it was normally done) and showed that the “filterable agent” they hoped to isolate grew in dividing cells and manifested its strength each time it infected a plant. He deemed the agent a living microbe and gave it the name “virus” from the Latin word for poison venom or slimy fluid.

But even by the early 1900s the nature of a virus remained a mystery, other than that it was infectious and needed living cells as a host to propagate.

In 1918, the virus that caused the so-called Spanish Flu that killed millions was still invisible.

It wasn’t until the 1930s when German engineer Max Knoll and physicist Ernst Ruska invented the electron microscope that viruses could finally be visualized. (By accelerating electrons, and relying on the reality of a corresponding wave of any given particle, these scientists, standing on the backs of many, defeated the limitation of what could be seen by visible light.)

Between 1935-1940 the American biochemist Wendell Stanley, working with the tobacco mosaic virus, proved that viruses contain protein. Then two English biochemists discovered viruses contain nucleic acids.

In 1953 through the work of James Watson and Francis Crick the genetic spiral of DNA and RNA was uncovered as the brains of any cellular operation, including viruses.

By 1964 molecular biologist Howard Temin proposed that some viruses use RNA, some DNA as their genetic information. Takes two years before this idea is acknowledged and accepted.

Approximately twenty years later the proteins of viruses were identified, leading to vaccines, including the yearly one for Influenza, and then, more recently, to anti-viral drugs.

It’s no wonder scientists were excited to finally put a face on a virus that had caused such suffering and death, and is one reason I believe that technological advances were given a pass. To feel helpless and be unable to offer anything concrete for so long made scientists search for ways to destroy the pathogens, ie unhealthy microbes, that seemed intent on killing humans.
No one could have foreseen antibiotic or anti-viral resistance or that these tiny things have a use in evolution and that we need to understand their role in a broader ecosystem.

Unfortunately through all these fabulous discoveries Big Pharma couldn’t let go of the profit margin. The pharmaceutical industry’s need to profit on human suffering has set society up with blinders to an overall, more holistic scheme of keeping us well. This clearly has added to the distrust of what we can do to co-exist, or stay well, or have a shorter recovery time when a virus infiltrates our bodies.

Continuing… in two weeks…

Surviving an Influenza Supervirus – Introduction

An excerpt from Dr. Heather’s upcoming book,
Surviving an Influenza Supervirus

The so-called “Spanish” flu of 1918 killed 50 million people by the influenza virus, later known as a swine flu or H2N1. This virus, a mix of pig, bird and human, went around the world via ships. So what happens now if another deadly virus emerges that can hijack an airplane and be around the world in a day or two. We have been worried about Ebola, Zika and other virulent viruses. Anything seems possible yet if you ask researchers they will answer that the consensus in the scientific community points to the ol’ time winter unfavorite, the influenza virus. This is what we should be concerned about.

Yet what is offered? Flu shots. Not only do they have mercury, aluminum or another toxic metal — to make dispersion or the modes of delivery easier — that add to our already overload of toxins in the modern chemical-driven world but with they are useless in mimicking the structure of the ever-mutating influenza virus.

I never thought I’d need write a book on this subject but as I was researching historical epidemics The Sting of Absence, a novel, I came across a passage referring to the present: “Scientists are holding their breath waiting for the next epidemic.” They have coined it, “The Last Great Plague.” Yikes, I thought to myself.

This was a few summers ago when Ebola exploded the airwaves. A deadly virus that threatened African communities other worrisome pathogens also made the news (as has Zika of late). Yellow fever and Dengue Fever—both viruses harbored by mosquitoes—have been found in California—and then there’s Yersinia pestis, the bacteria known to cause plague. Harbored by rodents, voles and prairie dogs in the western United States it causes illness yearly, thankfully treated successfully with antibiotics.

But what about the influenza virus, the virus that surfaces every winter in North America, causing enormous amounts of mucus, aching muscles and bones, fever, listlessness, possibly long after the virus is viable. This virus mutates so quickly it’s hard to determine the correct genome to create an adequate flu shot. Yet this is the pathogen what those in charge of the Petri dishes believe is the likely source of massive suffering and millions of deaths sometime in the near future. It could be as lethal as the first recorded swine flu of almost one hundred years ago. The influenza virus, an RNA virus, is second in mutability only to the AIDS virus, and it is said will mutate so viciously that millions of people could find themselves on the precipice to the afterlife.

Of course, no one can say with absolute assuredness what microscopic critter may be responsible or if it will come this year or in fifteen but according to those smarties in the know, it’s not “if,” it’s “when,” we’ll be facing a cataclysmic worldwide health crisis.

Only one television show as of this writing that I know has attempted to discuss the possibility of a deadly global pandemic. The Big Picture with actor/activist Kal Penn offered great visuals, diagrams and ideas about the various possibilities of an emerging virus. He mentioned Ebola, resident of Africa; Hantavirus, from mouse feces in the Yosemites, California; and Enterovirus D-68, a virus that swooped through the Midwest in the summer of 2014—comes in through the gut, no one died, even as children with asthma were hardest hit. Penn also mentioned the 1918 influenza, highlighting the fact ye olde influenza would become a newer, glossier version, a million times more deadly. And being a resident of North America already it doesn’t have to zoom in on an airplane like Ebola; it just has to mutate, something it does at a very fast clip.

Unfortunately, the smart and hip Penn relied on allopathic or conventional medicine—the system of medicine that has gotten all the press and respect (some warranted, some not) for the last one hundred years—in which there has been very little interest in foods, plants, hydrotherapy or homeopathic medicine to help us stay, or get, well. And strangely, no one else in the media is helping to prepare for the possibility either. Yet we need to be proactive so that our immune systems can be functioning optimally to surmount what may be coming our way, what the scientific community is expecting.

Instead, as flu season approaches, we are told simply to rest in bed, wash our hands (with toxic substances), and get a flu shot. Maybe some radical MD will encourage their patients to take Vitamin C or elderberry but that’s a rarity. And no doctor I’ve encountered ever mentions this virus mutating so severely it could be a global tragedy.

Naturopathic doctors have so much to add to this, so far, rather silent conversation. We are trained in Clinical Nutrition, Botanical and Homeopathic medicine, Hydrotherapy, Counseling, all geared to boost the immune system. Exactly what is needed to optimize our chances of outwitting the RNA mutating virus of influenza.

The plant world alone has much to offer. Homeopathy has a proven track record in yellow fever in the 1800s. Hydrotherapy we all use from time to time. Healthier eating, although often a challenge, is an incredible immune booster. All of these we can learn to use, at least a little, both to prevent and to treat.

When I offered my booklet in its first draft to my college housemate, Dr. Mary Minor ND of Alaska, she let me know about the experience of the Yup’ik people, who, to this day, grapple with the consequences of a 1900 influenza outbreak in their village. Again my head was reeling, my heart hurting. Because although I have specialized in treating PTSD for almost thirty years, I had never imagined that epidemics could leave their mark for over a century. (Thank you, Mary, for sharing this story including Harold Napoleon’s book, Yuuyaraq, the Way of the Human Being, a must read, as long as you can take the suffering.)

Larry McMurtry, in his novel, Some Can Whistle, wrote “…the Incas could lay stones together so skillfully and delicately that the stones could even pass the shock of earthquakes from one to another in such a way that the building they composed wouldn’t fall down. Spanish buildings erected over Inca buildings fell down in seconds, but the Inca buildings remained.”

Surviving an Influenza Supervirus is about laying stones of knowledge, placing each in a way that has something to benefit our immune systems in order to stay healthy or recover more quickly with a potent influenza virus or another pathogen in our midst. To understand that we can find stones, alone and together, that will add to a truly holistic approach to a possible coming global tragedy is the purpose of this book.

A word to those who think conventional medicine has the answers through the flu shot, Tamiflu and anti-virals, let me quote Marcia Angell MD from her book, Drug companies and doctors: A story of corruption. “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgment of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.”

Thankfully, even laypeople know a lot these days.

Guts are leaky, livers are overloaded; both increasing the chance of food and environmental allergies and toxins. People understand there has been an overuse of antibiotics and other drugs, there is too much sugar and refined carbohydrates eaten, that this has also compromised their immunity. We are concerned about GMOs, perhaps understand that heavy metals and pesticides in our air, water, food and/or cosmetics are sitting on receptor sites meant for minerals but our soil is depleted. Add over-stimulation from modern society to the mix and we sense our adrenals are exhausted and get why so many yoga studios are sprouting up. We seek peace wherever we can, unfortunately sometimes in something that can lead to an addiction.

Without a doubt much of the population has become better educated, grown more conscious over the last forty-five years or so. The hippies and the back-to-the-landers who read and listened to Rachel Carson have multiplied. These thoughts are now mainstream. Everything is green, green, green.

Except healthcare.

Because knowing ways to gain health when a healing crisis occurs doesn’t make it so. We may swear we want to do what is natural, what works with the body but then we may become afraid. We may make choices based on our level of fear, what we perceive we need to stay safe without understanding the basics of healing. Our decisions may be simply a reflection of how anxious we are in relation to the situation. We may not be trained to negotiate our body’s needs and may cover up that initial discomfort with a pill or an addiction (whatever that might be.) Hence the necessity: to be aware of feelings that might make good choices a distant reality.

Let’s be honest, most of the people who die from influenza yearly do so because they have compromised immune systems. They are elderly
or they are sick before the flu virus enters their nasal passages, often from years of a poor diet, no matter how much money they earn or have, and/or ingestion of toxic chemicals as well as chronic dehydration and so on.

The reality is that we all have the ability to make better choices: to get to the bottom line of what heals, what is helpful to our wellbeing.

Yet we can’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. We can’t deny the many medical advances over the last hundred years. Polio and smallpox, both caused by deadly viruses, have been or were almost eradicated. Cleaner cities with better sewage have saved countless lives. Many drugs are life saving.

But we went too far. Over prescribing antibiotics in humans and the unregulated use in livestock production has resulted in antibiotic resistant organisms, not to mention possible health consequences.

Big Pharma (the pharmaceutical industry) is too concerned with profit margins to be trusted, and many medical doctors are too concerned with malpractice to give you any real alternative to the flu vaccine or anti-virals. The conventional or allopathic medical profession, whose dominant philosophy is rarely questioned, doesn’t trust nature or its medicinal value. It doesn’t believe in the healing power of nature, nor has it yet conceded that integrated medicine may have answers to our health care crisis. In California a law is passed to mandate vaccinations and no one in power is brave enough to offer a forum, to understand people’s fear of these vaccines, to create a dialogue between opposing thoughts.

Few know the Latin phrase, Vix Medicatrix Naturae—the healing power of nature—but this concept has crept into the public’s consciousness in the last twenty years. Through necessity many people have discovered natural medicines.

By making better choices based on bona fide research as well as keeping an ear out for anecdotal experience to put to the test, we build our strength, optimize our host response, making it more difficult for a pathogen to infiltrate our bodies and overwhelm our inner ecosystem.

Prevention, of course, is key. How we react to stress is clearly based on what we eat, how well we sleep, what we think and feel, what our environment offers us, even how deeply we breathe. Every day we need to think about reducing unwanted stress, create a life that pares away what doesn’t serve us. With reflection and knowledge we increase good habits.

But nothing is guaranteed. We have no idea when a virus will appear or in what form. However, the possibility looms that the annual influenza virus will throw us a curveball and be as devastating as 1918.

In the summer of 2014 when Ebola and Enterovirus D-68 warranted our attention medical personnel were scrambling to know what to do. Nothing for sure was the only constant. Anti-viral drugs weren’t having much luck, some times iso-therapy, taking a survivor’s blood to boost a sick person’s, worked, but it was in extremely short supply. It was all a long shot. Experimental every way you looked, watched.

It’s time to explore a healthcare protocol that has historical precedent, to increase our chances of keeping us safe when an unfriendly microorganism invades our system. In the end it may all come down to what information we have, what experience has taught us.

Because what do we really know about a virus that was only visualized in the 1930s through the invention of the electron microscope? Public Health tells us to wash our hands, cover our mouths and noses, and still, even with the CDC announcing last year’s flu shot missed by a mile, the message continues: get a flu shot. Perhaps there is a passing mention of pharmaceutical anti-virals, but in what quantity and accessibility are these being stockpiled?

Generations ago we didn’t know not to trust what seemed extraordinary medicine coming after World War II with the advent of antibiotics. But now the dilemma of a system that relies on drugs is coming into question. We have the right to know what we can do proactively for our best health, preventively and in a crisis.

For some, already well-versed in prevention it may be as simple as monitoring hydration and electrolytes. Others can learn about botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, hydrotherapy, beneficial foods, supplements as well as meditation, yoga, and visualization. They can do much to engage our little white bloods cells roaming through our capillaries and lymph just waiting to snap up an invading pathogen.

Cultivate your knowledge as you expand your definition of what you can do for yourself and your family. With scientists just waiting for that unseen-to-the human-eye pathogen to cause worldwide havoc, the need to boost our immune systems has never been greater. By learning the basics of natural healing to better withstand a deadly virus we up our chances of keeping our family and community well or helping them recover more quickly, physically and psychologically.

Remember the Incas; keep the stones of healing balanced!

Why there have been so few blogs

The last few years I have not been able to write blogs as my focus was in completing my second novel, THE STING OF ABSENCE (spanning three centuries it tells the story of Fleur, a ten year old girl who survived the Acadian Expulsion, living out her days as Cajun in the Louisiana bayou); creating another radio/audio play, A CONVERSATION WITH AN OVARY (about PCOS, polycystic ovarian syndrome, featuring Lydia E Pinkham who sold a botanical patent medicine for women’s ills in the 19th century) and now a handbook on SURVIVING AN INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC. We also had a fun run of Meshugeneh, the Musical at the Whitefire Theatre in Sherman Oaks and have continued having our children’s musical presented through LAUSD. Finally my first novel is available as well at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena.

I am excited to get back to writing blogs and I am starting with influenza. But first I want to thank Avi Gross, Maurice Gainen, Jeffrey Feldman, Max Mitchell, Kristina Carlson, Aaron Lyons, Florence Riggs, Barbara Brighton and Goreti da Silva for their talent on my first radio play, DR GRAVES, WE HAVE YOUR DISEASE (on my website) and/or A CONVERSATION WITH AN OVARY. I love having fun while sharing state-of-the-art knowledge!!

Deep and Long-Lasting Healing

In the beginning of my naturopathic medical practice in the late 80s, after graduating from John Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine (now Bastyr University) I was contracted by the Vancouver Archdiocese to treat sexual abuse.

As I treated PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) from sexual abuse including the symptoms of anxiety, depression, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia and other related concerns with natural medicine and creative techniques I saw clearly how the mind and body are connected, that unresolved psychological trauma can manifest in the physical. (This “phenomena” was termed at the time under the new science heading of psychoneuroimmunology.)

I never stop being fascinated by the body’s ability to tell a story. It waves memories around like a flag person at a race or as if it is the stage for our very own drama, which it is. With the mind in control, the body can hold onto memories that negatively affect us, manifesting for example in the muscle pain of fibromyalgia, the agony of the GI tract in Crohn’s Disease or in the many and varied pelvic messages, and so on.

Of course the physical reality can simply stem from poor nutrition, a toxic environment, chronic dehydration, food allergies and this affects the mind. But what about the mental/emotional aspect, the psychological trauma that is often buried?

Although Classical Homeopathy is excellent at bringing out the deeper cause of the condition or disease I sensed early on that people who had been abused needed something more. They need to have a hand in their healing, something they could actively participate in, to feel empowered by the experience, a way to pinpoint the mental/emotional source in order to lead to thorough healing.

I have always loved to move, to dance, sing and write myself but it was after an Omega workshop outside NYC with the legendary Wavy Gravy in the 80s that I realized how powerful comedy as well narrative dance can be for transformation. I was able to express my grief for my father’s recent death in a creative and supportive atmosphere that freed my inner pain.

In time, with patients who had been traumatized by a priest or stepfather (or ritually abused or felt medically abused by overzealous interns) and were left with physical and/or psychological symptoms I developed “Moving the Pelvis to Healing.” At a friend’s waterfront home for a weekend or week off Vancouver BC women experienced deep and long-lasting healing by channeling their pain through writing, sound, song, movement, dance and drama along with learning the principles of natural healing.

Years later, now in Los Angeles, my weekly class is called, “Moving to Healing” where again Meditation, Imagery, Writing, Movement, Drama and Sound ensure that a chronic condition or disease can be interpreted positively. To flesh out and chronicle the personal narrative while surrounded by group support, these defined tools and techniques generate a path to a happy ending.

Please join us.

Vitamin D

Today, Dr Johnnie A Lee, MD, MPH, FACP, was the lecturer at Sherman Oaks Hospital, expounding on Vitamin D deficiency, symptoms being muscle weakness, fatigue, mood, cardiovascular disease, even cancers. From other sources, I am adding diabetes, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and immune dysfunction.

The significance of Vitamin D came to light not too many years ago through an unintended consequence of scientific research. The upshot is we need far more Vitamin D than the 400 IU/day originally thought. I suspect we only know a fraction of how fabulous this free resource is for ensuring a healthy body and mind…

The bottom line is 1) we don’t know yet how many pathways/diseases it positively influences and 2) sunlight is a far better resource than any supplement or food, whether Vitamin D2 (from supplements derived from plants) or Vitamin D3 (from sun or diet – deep sea fatty fish, egg yolks, or liver).

Here’s why Vitamin D3 from sunshine (produced in the skin in response to ultraviolet B radiation) is the far better choice:

Twenty minutes lying in the sun (in a bathing suit or naked) produces the equivalent of 15,000 to 20,000 IU of Vitamin D3 whereas cod liver oil – that children have hated so much (it’s tastier these days) – has 1360 IUs per serving, with salmon at 447, tuna 154, and sardines, 46.

Blacks, latinos, anyone with darker skin have an increased need as there is more melanin in dark skin, inhibiting absorption. (As does sun block.)

Best to lie out at noon when the sun is directly overhead. Even for ten minutes if you’re short on time.

It’s a great excuse to slow down, relax and enjoy a mini siesta!

Sunshine rules!

PS Of course not everyone lives where the sun shines daily, so get tested. An optimal serum blood level of Vitamin D is 50 or more, not 30. Those with a major depletion from malabsorption or living under a rock 50,000 IU daily for 8 weeks is recommended. Otherwise try taking 1,000 to 2,000 of Vitamin D2 or D3 daily or every other day and re-testing in three months.



I was at a lecture on fibromyalgia the other day at Sherman Oaks Hospital. The speaker, an MD from UCLA, was very detailed, as well as compassionate. But she didn’t mention that one theory, and one that I have seen to hold water over and over in my twenty-six years of practice, is that fibromyalgia often originates from a memory of abuse. Sexual abuse to be exact. Back in the 80s when the prevalence of sexual abuse was beginning to be realized, fibromyalgia was also popping up everywhere and it made sense.

In her lecture the MD didn’t acknowledge this as a strong possibility of cause until I asked her outright. Immediately agreeing there was a correlation she said little further. This is a good example of our different trainings. Although she she obviously knew this to be true she hadn’t incorporated this aspect in her lecture.

It is so important to look for the body-mind connection in any condition or disease. In my experience the body is always telling a story. The faster we acknowledge this the faster we can heal. And this is not to say there are many techniques and treatments that can alleviate pain while taking the time to get to the root cause. By managing healing from a holistic perspective, those suffering with fibrolmyalgia can chop years off the time needed to free themselves of this insidious and debilitating condition.