Join the discussion below
Dr. Joseph Antoun’s passion is to enhance human healthy longevity. He is the CEO and Chairman of the Board of L-Nutra, a unique Nutrition technology company leading the Food as Medicine movement and developing breakthrough nutri-technologies that profoundly impact how we age and prevent or better manage health conditions. Before... Read More
Eric Gordon, MD is President of Gordon Medical Research Center and clinical director of Gordon Medical Associates which specializes in complex chronic illness. In addition to being in clinical practice for over 40 years, Dr. Gordon is engaged in clinical research focused on bringing together leading international medical researchers and... Read More
- Explore the intriguing perspective of aging as a chronic illness
- Dive deep into understanding the ‘Cell Danger Response’ and its implications
- Learn how fasting interplays with the Cell Danger Response, potentially altering the aging process
- This video is part of the Fasting & Longevity Summit
Joseph Antoun, MD, PhD, MPP
Hi, everyone. This is Dr. Joseph Antoun, your host for the Fasting and Longevity Summit. It is my pleasure that this is a very interesting episode about chronic conditions, fasting, and longevity. It’s my pleasure to host Dr. Eric Gordon, who spent decades of his life looking at how we can help patients with chronic conditions. It’s going to be a very interesting talk for everyone who has Lyme disease, chronic inflammation, or the long haul after COVID. This is the episode you want to listen to and see how you can deal with it and then how Classic can help you with it. So with no further ado, Dr. Eric, welcome to this episode, and I would love for you to say a few words about yourself.
Eric Gordon, MD
Thank you. Thank you, Dr. Antoun. It’s a pleasure. Yes, I see. I’ve been practicing medicine for 43 years now and counting, and I’ve been interested in people who stay ill. We don’t know why. It was early in my career. I believed the patient, and I tried to minimize the eye-rolling that, “Oh, my God, this can’t be true,” because if you listen to people, most people are trying to tell you what’s happening with them and they want to get better. Our training in ERs has often given us a wrong view because we do see people who are trying to play the system or game the system or this or that. But that’s not who comes to your office, and we have to remember that. So anyway,
Joseph Antoun, MD, PhD, MPP
The psychological depression that comes out of fatigue. I’m feeling down all the time, like, yes, you take an antidepressant.
Eric Gordon, MD
Yes, that is the knee-jerk response to not to in medicine to what we don’t understand if it doesn’t make sense if the diagnosis, if the complaints or symptoms are not ones we’re comfortable with, or if we’ve heard a lot or if we have the right diagnosed diagnostic box score, and your tests are the basic tests, the blood count, and the chemistries that should make sure your liver and kidneys are keeping you alive. If those are normal, you’re normal. Without any pain, pay any attention to looking deeper and realizing that if you look below, just look under the hood, and you will find all these inflammatory markers, all these signs that the immune system is out of balance. Okay, these are all happening. But as doctors, we’re often trained to just move on to the next patient, especially in the last 20–30 years of medicine, which I won’t get into. But there was a time when doctors didn’t practice like this. There was a time that you had time to talk to your doctor. To treat chronic illness, you have to take that time because, in your complaints, you’re describing what’s happening in your body, and that takes time, and it’s subtle. Once you’ve been chronically ill, you have symptoms across multiple organs. So that’s what has to be taken into account. What frustrates most patients is that they end up being sent home because they have a rapid heart rate for no obvious reason. So they’re saying to the cardiologist, and, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a diagnosis of something like orthostatic hypotension. Potts the postural orthostatic tachycardia, but then I’ll give you a Band-Aid, which is good. They’ll give you something to see. Your heart doesn’t race when you stand up, but they’re done. But if you also have migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and burning pains in your legs, you go to a special, and the other specials have even less to offer. I didn’t realize I started with a good example. The cardiologist at least has something that will help your symptoms.
So you need doctors, and there are more and more of them out there who want to look at what’s happening with your whole body. What’s exciting is that they’re beginning to learn to put all the pieces together, and a lot of doctors are starting with nutrition as a place to start. As someone who’s experienced, ProLon, or fasted in any way, you can see how important nutrition is. And, in a way, fasting is still nutrition because you’re still feeding your cells, but you’re just kind of not doing the chewing. So these are all things that have to be taken into account when we’re looking at chronic illness. So I’m going to ramble, but that’s how we work. We kind of think about the whole person. A lot of people say we think about the whole person, but we think about all the possible subset disease categories because that’s the thing that you can have when you have multiple systems making noise, meaning you have migraine and you’ve got reflux, you’ve got GERD, you’ve got irritable bowel, and you have a little interstitial cystitis when you get stressed. You have all these things. It’s easy to think that you’ve got six different diseases, and well, you may, but you may just have mass cells, and you probably have something else irritating them. So the question is, how do you put all these things together? That’s what happens because there are so many different possibilities now.
As people talk about, you can have micro-toxin problems, mold problems, Lyme problems, Epstein-Barr reactivation, long COVID, and long-term reactivation of all the things we mentioned, as well as just the reaction to the spike protein itself, which is setting off your immune system. So you’ve got this. So it’s nice to have a way of looking at immune function to try to understand this all, and the model that I’ve found is something called the cell danger response. There’s a way to do it. This is not a thing in itself. It’s a story about how the body reacts to stress and life, and how you preserve life. Many people ask me, Is that the cell danger response? The answer is that everything is. However, the usefulness of the model would depend on whether it was developed or first put into its present form by Dr. Robert Naviaux. He’s a researcher and a specialist in mitochondria, all diseases, and metabolic diseases at the University of San Diego. It puts the mitochondria first, which is funny because everybody has their favorite organ or organelle. But, remember, life is a circle. So I don’t want to be arguing. Is it the mitochondria that are the most important thing, or is it the endoplasmic reticulum, or pick your little organelle? But in Dr. Naviaux’s view, it’s the mitochondria, and we think of the mitochondria as something that produces energy, and that’s how everybody thinks about it: that mitochondria are going to be there. But it also senses whether you have enough; it’s constantly sensing how much oxygen and how many nutrients are in the cell. It also controls and signals your body if there’s danger. One of the ways we use the word danger is that it just means that there’s some change in the environment.
You should pay attention to it. Because, as you see, when we go through the world, we don’t get a ton of input. But there are some things we remember, like that when you grow up, you’ve got to remember that cars are on the road. That happened because you had a little bit of ATP release from a cell at the same time your dopamine went off somewhere. That said, that’s something to pay attention to. So that’s a danger. I mean, it’s not very dangerous in itself, but we thought that when you see the light, pay attention, but it’s just anything that you need to remember your cell signal. They use ATP as a signaling molecule. That’s what’s so important. That’s what ties into this whole thing because the whole minute we think about our nutrition, and our thing is making ATP. We want to make ATP because we think it’s in there, but it’s also signaling. So inside your cell, the might of the ATP is a source of easy-to-use electrons, so it’s energy, but outside the cell, it works as a signaling molecule, sort of like a hormone, but not quite. But, like cytokines, people these days are free. It’s a signal. It’s a way to make the immune cells pay attention and the neighboring cells pay attention. So when the mitochondria sense that they’re not getting what they need, they kind of turn that off because of the large amount of production inside the cell. They still make some, but they put it outside the cell, and that causes inflammation, and that’s CDR. That’s signaling to the cells around you that there’s something wrong. So think of it. The simplest thing is a virus.
When a virus gets in, the cell notices and starts to turn down its energy production. So the virus doesn’t get a lot of raw materials to make more virus with, kind of starving the cell. Then the outside sees a little ATP, and it signals your immune system to start up. You start an inflammation. That’s great. The problem is, if you don’t turn that off, you’re going to have problems because that cell is now just dependent on burning glucose. Here’s where we tie it in with fasting. It’s because, in the first stage of CDR, you’re only dependent on sugar and glucose for energy. That’s why some people with chronic illnesses don’t respond well to that, since most people with chronic illnesses don’t need to see me. You mentioned diabetes, height, high blood pressure, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and early dementia—those kinds of illnesses that have been brewing over decades. They have chronic inflammation, but most of the time it’s only a few cells, and they’re in different stages of the CDR. They’re not mostly stuck in this first stage, which is inflammatory. The second stage is when you’re replenishing. The cells are rebuilding themselves, and the third stage is when they’re restoring cellular communication. So the cells listen to hormones again. So they CDR one, two, and three. I don’t want to go into too much detail about the rest of them. Maybe we will as we go. But the important thing is that in most of the diseases of civilization, the cells are stuck in mostly CDR two and three, which produce things like diabetes, cancer, and hypertension. Because they’re in CDR 2, there are too many cells. They continue to grow. They’re making a little bit of ATP, but they’re still kind of dependent on sugar.
But these are the ones that, when you do a little fasting, you’re going to get the biggest bang for your buck. These are the ones that have to do with proliferative things like diabetes, where you put out a lot of weight or deposit lots of inflammatory chemicals and cholesterol in your blood vessels. These are the cells that are replicating and growing, and we’d like them to stop. Because each step a limb takes along this cell danger response, the reason we get into problems with the disease is that the system doesn’t get the all-clear signal. It doesn’t turn off like it should. The final, all-clear signal comes from the heart, but it’s coming from that combination to know that you’re safe. That life is safe. That’s one of the reasons we have so many chronic illnesses. Despite the garbage that we eat and the environment, we also have chronic stress, which is not letting many of us have the time to sit and listen to what our body means to find our joy. We’re often, I mean, myself included, on the treadmill of life, of being busy. Then, when you have an illness, it’s harder to find that place in you that knows that it’s safe and that you don’t have to keep running. I’ve been talking for way too long.
Joseph Antoun, MD, PhD, MPP
To show the stages of the cell response to stress, but also the stages that respond or do not typically respond to fasting or other interventions. But if I’m putting myself in the shoes of, say, a patient or a person who knows somebody or themselves is suffering, say, from a post-COVID long-term illness, Lyme disease, or others, what would you see with those patients? How can you help them? then finally, how fasting could come in and help them as well, tying it all up for the summit and the people interested in the concept here.
Eric Gordon, MD
Yes, well, anytime we see people with long COVID is probably the cleaner example because, even though it’s long COVID, people usually know the event, whether it was an infection or a vaccine injury. Something happened, and all of a sudden my body’s not doing what it used to do. There is a subset of them that might be due to an excess of hypercoagulation and whether there are persistent microclots that are abnormal and don’t break down like they’re supposed to. That’s one subset. But most of the people we see had issues before, which is the same thing that happens with Lyme. It’s just like when you show up to the doctor with diabetes; you didn’t get diabetes yesterday. It’s been going on with heart disease even more. I mean, like, you show up at 55 or 60 with a little bit of chest pain. Well, that atheroma and chronic inflammation have probably been going on since you were 20, so it’s looking back at the people. If you got Lyme disease or long COVID and you got Lyme, let’s say you go and somebody treats you with antibiotics and you get better, then that’s wonderful. That’s what happens to most people. Most people, just like with Long-Covid, don’t do anything, and six to 12 months later, they’re better because we are self-healing organisms and we can unwind from these things. When I see people who have for a long time tried some basic treatment regimens and failed, or the same thing with the Long-Covid, they’ve tried a bunch of stuff and their symptoms aren’t changing, then it’s going back underneath the hood to see what’s going on. The usefulness of the cell danger response is just in.
That is not blaming the mitochondria. I don’t think I made that clear, but the mitochondria in the CDR one, two, and three go through times, especially in the one and two when they’re not producing the energy that your body is used to. So you’re going to be fatigued or dependent on constant glucose intake, which makes you feel crappy for other reasons. So we often thought of that as the mitochondria being sick. That’s the important part of this model: they’re not sick, and they’re just doing what they’re supposed to be doing. They’re seeing danger, and they’re changing how they function to protect you. The problem is that they don’t go back to what we like to think: that they’re more useful to us, producing energy for us. This is important because a lot of the people I see have already tried the mitochondrial supplements, the mitochondrial cocktails. and sometimes they’ll get a little benefit, but many times they don’t get much at all. The mitochondria—you’re not getting the raw materials to the electron transport chain to get that electronic transport chain to work, and so giving it more CoQ10 doesn’t make it work faster or better.
Just understand this and keep trying to push on the things that are moving. The CoQ10 begins to recover when you remove maybe the Lyme; if you were able to lower the load of the beryllium, perhaps get rid of that completely, and now that those cells are no longer that inflamed, then the CoQ10 can help in the repair process because at that time we need it to help grow new cells, so having a little extra oomph doesn’t hurt. It’s the same thing with using fasting to help these people. If people are stuck in this inflammatory phase, this first phase of the CDR, which will see long COVID sometimes or chronic fatigue, not so much with diabetes and hypertension, those people tend to be stuck in the second phase. In those places, when you go when you do, when you fast, or when you use something that produces a lot of ketones, it can encourage the completion of the cycle. Because in that first stage, if you deprive them of glucose, they just feel worse. That’s easy to see. You figure that out pretty quickly. You try to get on that healthy diet that has almost no sugar in it—a low-carb diet. You feel terrible. Now, if you feel terrible for a few hours, you probably push through it.
But if you still feel bad the next day, then you’re not ready for it. You have to first fix the chronic inflammatory damage that’s happening, whether that’s from an activated or reactivated virus or Lyme, Bartonella, or Babesia. Pick your bug; something has to be done. That’s what we’ve been trying to teach. One of the frustrating things is that the world of treating chronic illness is broken up into people who treat chronic fatigue and people who treat chronic Lyme. You’ve got your medical experts. Part of me has an acute illness on Fridays. So you have Lyme, mold, mycotoxins, massive illnesses, and chronic fatigue. It’s endless. People get good at treating these things, but you don’t have to be good at everything. Keep it up, but I’ve been trying to talk when I talk to the groups that specialize in these things, trying to get them to remember that if what you’re doing isn’t working, think about these other possibilities as contributing. Because of my experience, our experience at our clinic is that by the time we see people who have Lyme, they already have Lyme. They’ve got a little bit of all this stuff because it and all, and that’s the other be all of this stuff sits on top of the big turtle, that’s the environmental stressors okay because the last 40 years, when I was training a kid with inflammatory bowel disease, I don’t remember ever seeing one, like a kid with somebody under 20 without type 2 diabetes. I mean, we just didn’t see them.
Joseph Antoun, MD, PhD, MPP
Eric Gordon, MD
It’s now rampant.
Joseph Antoun, MD, PhD, MPP
It’s the external and internal environment, meaning the toxins that are inducing leaky gut are behind a lot of what you’re describing in terms of chronic inflammation and inducing a lot of underlying autoimmune diseases. Some of them are subtle. You go to your doctor, and they say, Well, there’s a looks like you have a full autoimmune, but we don’t know what it is, and you’re feeling fatigued, and this is where you get qualified as fibromyalgia or depression, and that’s the problem. Yes, fibromyalgia. I don’t even want to talk. I mean, I remember when fibromyalgia was something I thought was kind of useful, and it still is. But I’ve had patients. I just had one. I mean, he went to the head, I won’t say which university, and he had nothing that suggested fibromyalgia, but he had an arthritic and arthralgia with even bony changes that, but they didn’t add up to any; he didn’t have antibodies to anything, and the guy told me he had fibromyalgia. So, please, when you get that diagnosis, hold it gently. Hold all the diagnoses gently. Don’t fall in love with the labels.
Because remember, as we say, you might have bits of many things. We did a paper with Dr. Naviaux. That’s why I say that Dr. Naviaux wrote the paper; I supplied the patients. He had the brains, and I had the people. But we did a study on metabolomics, meaning the metabolites and chronic fatigue, because we tried to find markers for chronic fatigue. After all, that’s one of the big problems with chronic fatigue is that we don’t have a lot to say like I do because I know a chronic fatigue patient when I see one, but it’s hard to be sure, and a bunch of the patients was people that we had treated successfully for Lyme. They got rid of all the body pains but the arthralgia, but they still had the post-exercise malaise. The thing that strikes me is that when they overdid it for a few hours, they were down the next day when they thought too much, and they were down the next. I mean, to me, that’s the sine qua non; that’s the sign of chronic fatigue. The rest is window dressing. People have a lot of stuff, and we get away with it. We don’t have to fix everything. That’s the other important thing. It’s nice to do your best to get healthy. Most people walking around are far from healthy, but you just have to get yourself back up a little bit, and hopefully, you’ll get to a more virtuous cycle of reinforcing health. The better you feel, the better choices you tend to make in life. The more you move physically, the more times you’re out in the sun, and the more times you touch the earth, the healthier you’re going to feel. When you’re bedbound, I’m happy. Just drag yourself out and sit in the dirt if you can. I mean, this is hard because just the way I said our cells protect us and our brain when we get sick, and the tendency towards anxiety and OCD tends to go up. So many of us have mild OCD or anxious tendencies, but when you get sick, it’s like feeding. It’s like you feed them, and they become intense.
I just want people to try to put down some of the germ-phobia stuff. We grew up with them. We co-evolved with them. Many people believe that some of these are chronic diseases today or that we didn’t get exposed to the right parasites or viruses when we were young. There’s a wonderful book somebody wrote about what, oh, was a disease of absence or something. But he’s writing about the fact that we should have been exposed to several different parasites in that first year of life that now, in our antiseptic world, we don’t see. What we find when they get into us, when we’re in our twenties and thirties, is that they still press buttons on our immune system. But those buttons that they should have pressed one by one, and your immune system was developing. Now don’t hit the right note, and don’t get into this chronic inflammatory response to them or instead of living with them. It’s like that with Lyme; I’m not sure. All of these, just look at them. EBV, the Epstein-Barr virus, co-evolved with us. I mean, God, we co-evolved with all those that retroviral information that’s in our DNA didn’t get there by accident. Who knows? We probably needed that stuff. We still need that information. So a clean environment, a sterile environment, is not a prescription for health. So get in the dirt. It will help you if you do.
Joseph Antoun, MD, PhD, MPP
Leave the microbiome as well. That’s the other environment that we need to come clean based on diets and reinvent. so that protects our guts and lining. I wanted to conclude, and I wanted to address the fact that you mentioned the stages within the cell response to stress. You mentioned multiple chronic settings and how they are symptomatic and asymptomatic sometimes, and the approach to those who use fasting in your approach sometimes for these conditions and what could be the benefit of doing that.
Eric Gordon, MD
I use fasting and ketogenic diets at times in people, but I said in the usual way that what’s happened over the last 20 years is that the funnel of sicker and sicker people, when you start this, you see that at this point most of the people I’ve seen have tried some element of fasting, and if it works for them, they continue to use it intermittently. If not, they’re not going near it because it was difficult. It didn’t because I said it was at the right time. But as people recover, fasting is amazing. It’s what we’re trying to do: clean up the information flow in the body. That’s if, I mean, people are using plasmapheresis to try to live longer. What you’re doing is, like, lowering the information garbage load. Of what’s been in your body. It’s amazing how the system can begin to do better with which, in short, you would think this would be such a short-lived change in the information. When you went to plasmapheresis, you took one, two, three, maybe five and put it last, and it’s just so fasting is your way of doing this without spending $25,000. Yes, I mean, when you fast, you are giving your body a chance to break down what the garbage is and to clean the house. Now that is the problem. I don’t do a lot of it with my patients because cleaning the house is something you can’t do when there’s not enough energy. I say when you’re sick, you’re not; the house doesn’t; you don’t put everything away. The dishes kind of pile up in the sink. What’s the same thing when you’re sick? Your body is storing lots of garbage in your cell. That’s why my patients are so puffy often, interstitial like they get bodywork that people go, oh, you gunky in there. It’s because when there’s not enough energy, you just store it. When you fast, you’re giving yourself a chance first to clean out your cells, and then you clean out the spaces between the cells. So it’s one of the signs. It’s like springtime. The past is winter.
But what I see in my patients is that when springtime hits, when they start to see the return of vitality, that’s when the intermittent fasting will continue that healing and let the body clean up. In the end, if people don’t feel well when they fast, one of the things or even using ProLon most of the time, which lets people do the fast without the bad feelings, but when they are having problems, I’m a big proponent of the right types of bodywork, and I say right because every type is right. It depends on you. But good cranial work pays good attention to drainage because we all live in this world where we’re in front of the screen and the neck wants to come forward, and it’s the whole time we don’t let the lymphatics work well, and when you’re trying to think clearly, if your brain isn’t draining and we forget that, they found you. Other people talk about lymphatics, but it’s the deep lymph system in the neck that gets crunched down easily because it’s a low-pressure system. A little bit of this can go a long way toward making sure nothing’s draining you. So and that’s and so if you get those headaches and that full feeling when you’re fasting, get some bodywork, get this opened up, and you might find that it’s not the fasting; it’s just that you’re not getting rid of the garbage. So I am a great lover of it. At the right times.
Joseph Antoun, MD, PhD, MPP
In the end, I will appreciate you very much for all this wisdom. I wasn’t aware of a lot of things you talked about today, and I appreciate your wealth of information on this important topic. I feel this is relevant for people who typically get left out of the tradition of allopathic medicine, and they can come and find people like you who can holistically look at them and make sure that when they send all the symptoms, not just the root cause, and try to intervene in the root cause and help them, they end up traumatizing themselves and their impact to deal with it, which creates a lot of the breathing organelles and inflammation, which then get systematic, and then they feel down. Once we tackle the root cause of all this misery, we unleash that rejuvenation this spring that you called it. So I want to thank you for all this wisdom today and will hopefully do another session with you where we can deep dive into some of the conditions and how patients can approach them.
Eric Gordon, MD
But I thank you. Thank you very much. I remind people that it’s not the root cause. It’s root causes because there’s a lot of focus on root causes. When it’s chronic, it’s your interaction with your environment. that’s been going on for your whole life. So there are lots of things that have pushed you in the wrong direction. Again, you don’t have to fix them all. You just have to get it so that you’re beginning to be on the healing cycle against the inflammatory cycle. So thank you so much. I must say, in preparation, I listened to some of your talks, and I was so impressed with the work that you do. I’m honored to be here.
Joseph Antoun, MD, PhD, MPP
We’ll get you to use ProLon as well because I hear that we have over 15,000 clinics now recommending it, and I get a lot of calls about the states that you mentioned, and doctors are kind of happy to help their patients with it. But I appreciate you very much for today, and we’ll see you soon.
Eric Gordon, MD