RACHEL'S RUMINATIONS: Help for those struggling with chronic illness


Within the past year, a colleague from a professional online forum highly recommended “Toxic: Heal Your Body from Mold Toxicity, Lyme Disease, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, and Chronic Environmental Illness.”

I promptly special-ordered it from a local bookstore, then it sat on my medical “to-read” pile until a patient reiterated what a fabulous resource this has been for her struggle with mold and chronic Lyme.

As my deadline for this article rapidly approached, I finally perused Dr. Neil Nathan’s treatise on what he terms “complex medical problem solving.”

The text is written for both lay people and those with a medical background. The reader is forewarned about the highly technical sections, but these sections are not integral for understanding the overall concepts.

“This book is not intended to be a treatment manual, but rather a starting point for understanding these complicated maladies and a catalyst for initiating progress during the medical journey,” he writes.


Dr. Nathan writes with wit, his voice is very down-to-earth, and he gives practical analogies to help understand his perspective. He offers promising treatment overviews and helps fill in the puzzle pieces for these illnesses. Very few protocols are offered. He provides insightful case studies to effectively illustrate the chapter discussions. He presents helpful charts and figures related to mold and Bartonella toxicity symptoms, mold blood test markers, mold binders and Lyme/tick-borne illness symptom differentiation. He devotes an entire chapter to Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, which is a lesser known illness.

I found chapter two most fascinating, and in general, I learned more overall from the first half of the book – I tabbed 19 pages through page 111 and only three pages in the second half of the book.

In chapter two, Dr. Nathan explores the difference between toxicity and sensitivity (physical, not mental/emotional). A person can be toxic and not sensitive, but generally a person who is sensitive is very toxic. I definitely have heard both these terms before, and my patient population tends to be overly sensitive to medications, supplements, fragrances, chemicals, etc., but I had never pondered the difference. Those who are toxic, but not sensitive, tend to respond more rapidly to treatment and get well faster.

The goal of chapter two was to encourage doctors and patients to “consider the processes in chronically ill patients who are not responding well to the usual therapeutic interventions.”

For those of you wondering, “What in the world is multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)?,” Dr. Nathan states that the prevalence of MCS impacts 3.2 percent of the population, or 10 million people. I had no idea!

I truly enjoyed analyzing this book. It will definitely be included in my clinic reference library, and I have a few patients in mind that will benefit from some new treatments recommended by Dr. Nathan. His perspective provides optimism for those tough-to-treat diseases.

Rachel Oppitz has lived in Park Rapids with her husband, daughter and dog since 2006. She is a naturopathic doctor and owns Itasca Naturopathic Clinic in Park Rapids and Bemidji. In her spare time, she loves to read, workout with friends, play games, do jigsaw puzzles, camp, hike, bike, canoe, travel, do guided meditations on Insight Timer, try new recipes, listen to music and journal.

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