Are you curious about how your immune system plays a role in chronic conditions?
Ever wondered why some people recover quickly from illnesses while others struggle with prolonged symptoms?
In this episode of the me&my health up podcast, we delve into these questions with Dr. Gary Kaplan, a pioneer in the field of Integrative Medicine and a clinical associate professor at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.
The episode sheds light on how infections can trigger your immune system, often leaving it in a rogue state that contributes to chronic illnesses. Dr. Kaplan, DO also discusses the role of inflammation in the brain or neuroinflammation, a common factor in chronic pain and depression.
This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in understanding the immune system's role in chronic conditions and how to maintain a robust immune system. So, are you ready to take control of your health? Tune in to this episode of the me&my health up podcast now!
About Dr. Gary Kaplan, DO:
Connect with Dr. Gary Kaplan, DO:
About me&my health up & Anthony Hartcher
me&my health up seeks to enhance and enlighten the well-being of others. Host Anthony Hartcher is the CEO of me&my health up which provides holistic health solutions using food as medicine, combined with a holistic, balanced, lifestyle approach. Anthony holds three bachelor's degrees in Complementary Medicine; Nutrition and Dietetic Medicine; and Chemical Engineering.
Any information, advice, opinions or statements within it do not constitute medical, health care or other professional advice, and are provided for general information purposes only. All care is taken in the preparation of the information in this Podcast. [Connected Wellness Pty Ltd] operating under the brand of “me&my health up”..click here for more
When you treat the symptom, what you end up with is somebody who make chronically ill for the rest of their lives. If you can turn understand what's causing the problem, then you can begin to solve the problem. And indeed, what we found is a huge number of these conditions are really a result of an infection that subsequently trips off the immune system. And now what happens is, the infection may not may have been missed be an Epstein Barr Mono or Lyme disease or strep, but the infection was missed but you also now have an immune system which has gone rogue, and the immune system is now part and parcel if not the primary issue in terms of the problem.Anthony Hartcher:
That was Dr. Gary Kaplan, and you've landed on the me&my health up podcast, I'm your host, Anthony Hartcher. I'm a clinical nutritionist and lifestyle medicine specialist. The purpose of this podcast is to enhance and enlighten your well being and Dr. Gary Kaplan is going to be doing that for you. Dr. Gary Kaplan is a clinical associate professor at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. He's a founder and medical director of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, and the author of why you're still sick, and how infections can break your immune system and how you can recover. He is a pioneer and leader in the field of Integrative Medicine. Dr. Kaplan is only one of nineteen physicians in the entire US survey to be board certified in both family medicine and pain medicine. In November, Dr. Gary Kaplan will co chair an international conference on the new developments in understanding chronic illness, the role of immune dysfunction and infections. And yes, we're going to be interviewing and discussing the topic of the immune system and how you can still be sick, although they're saying that you're not so what's wrong with you? So Dr. Gary Kaplan is going to explain to you what could be possibly going wrong and how your immune system may be a bit dysfunctional, and how you're not crazy. Yes, you are sick, okay. And so for anyone out there that may be experiencing long COVID struggling to get over COVID Or has chronic fatigue syndrome, or may have post treatment line syndrome, or pan or pandas, fibromyalgia, or depression. This episode is for you, because we're going to be discussing how the immune system can become dysfunctional, and work against you and make you feel sick, and what you can do about it to get yourself back on track. So buckle up and enjoy this episode with Dr. Gary Kaplan. Welcome on the me&my health up podcast Dr. Gary Kaplan, how are you today?Gary Kaplan:
Excellent. Thank you very much. I'm delighted to be here.Anthony Hartcher:
And where are you joining us from?Gary Kaplan:
McLean, Virginia, just outside of Washington, DCAnthony Hartcher:
Fantastic. I love that place of the world. I went there many years ago with my father and was you know all with the, I guess the historic sort of, you know, buildings and the beauty of the city. It's a fantastic city.Gary Kaplan:
There is beautiful and right now we're just coming out of spring into summer. It's gorgeous. Everything is in bloom and everything is green and luscious.Anthony Hartcher:
Fantastic. We're gonna get to the cooler part of the year, being on the opposite side of the world. And it's certainly getting a bit cool, but nice, still crisp, but beautiful in its own right. And really glad to have you on the show today. I see a lot of clients with chronic fatigue, depression and pain, all areas of which you have delved into in terms of your research, and you've done a lot of study in immunology. So I'm really keen to explore immunology and what people can do to rebuild their immune system. And the other side of the coin is how to keep it optimal if it's not busted and how to keep it really tuned up, so to speak.Gary Kaplan:
One of the interesting things happened is the flip side of my work is longevity and inflammation because basically aging is an inflammatory process. And for what we've learned from these very sick individuals, we're able to take this to ourselves and stay healthy and stay vital and strong, much longer. So it's information that really moves across the entire spectrum for her that's very, very sick but also to keeping ourselves healthy, strong and vital for many many years.Anthony Hartcher:
Fantastic. So you're working with the sort of reactive to the response to someone being sick but also then on the flip side is helping those proactively with their health to live longer and then high quality life.Gary Kaplan:
Absolutely correct.Anthony Hartcher:
Fantastic. So just to bring the I guess our listeners up to speed in terms of your career, how you arrived at what you doing today.Gary Kaplan:
It's a long journey. But basically my background specialties are family medicine and pain medicine early on, we were doing work with chronic pain and finding that there were a lot of people who were very depressed at the same time and the comorbidity, the occurrence of chronic pain and brushing. 60% is very high. So we started wondering what that was about. And I started making inquiries with colleagues over Georgetown. And what we eventually came around to is understanding that what we're looking at was a inflammation in the brain during inflammatory disease. So we began to study what we were looking at in terms of inflammation. Now, what that led to is my first book, which was total recovery, just talking about reframing chronic pain as a neuro inflammatory brain inflammation bring on fire issue. We have subsequently found that as we've continued our explorations that we're really looking at a whole series of diseases that have been labeled by their symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia which are chronic pain syndromes, and post treatment. Lyme syndrome. Major depressive disorder isn't a disease major depressive disorder is now post COVID, which has been unfortunately a very much of a boom for us in terms of scientific research and understanding a lot of these people really suffering with all of the above. And also working with kids who have pas and pandas is pediatric acute onset neuropsychiatric disorders, which can be incredibly terrifying and disabling. And all of these conditions that actually can be extremely disabling. And with the patients we work with, most of them have been very sick for a long time. The problem is, we call these these diseases by these different names, what we end up doing is treating the symptom when you treat the symptom, what you end up with is somebody who make chronically ill for the rest of their lives. If you can turn understand what's causing the problem, then you can begin to solve the problem. And indeed, what we found is a huge number of these conditions are really a result of an infection that subsequently trips off the immune system. And now what happens is the infection may not may have been missed, be it Epstein Barr mono or Lyme disease or strep but the infection was missed. But you also now have an immune system which has gone rogue and the immune system is now part and parcel if not the primary issue in terms of the problem and the immune system gets into two things. But let me tell you a quick story about how dramatic is I, two if I may. One is a young man who came to me when he was 17 years old suicidally depressed, tried to hang himself. He had been through a number of psychiatric treatments without success. He had been hospitalised again without success. And subsequently, they sent him to me because I'm a neuro inflammatory guy they said, what do you think? Well, in working him up, what I found was he has celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease to gluten wheat, and not 5% of these people will present with only neuropsychiatric symptoms, and not testable symptoms. So he was a kid whose problem wasn't depression, it's suicidal, he was sick, because he was eating wheat, we took him off all gluten cleaned up his gut course of a year's time, because it takes a while for the brain to quiet down, complete recovery pressure was gone off on the precipice. 100% normal kid again, another kid that I saw, working with now, very bright kid, one of the major universities in Scotland, and two years ago, he suddenly develops hallucinations, he's hearing voices, he's seeing things, he's getting suicidal, severely depressed, they treat him for all of these things. And they're medicating of these pushed all this stuff into the background. And it's kind of functional, but he's not doing so good. So I take a look at it. And again, I work him up from an infectious issue, or inflammatory issue, what he has is Bartonella, which is a tick borne disease, and he has toxoplasmosis, we treat those, and I'm still in the process of working on him. But we started treatment about four months ago, last month when I saw all the hallucinations. So God, first time in two years, he's had no hallucinations whatsoever. So as the infection gets cleared, and as we work on his immune system, my expectation is will be 100%. So we need to look at these people who are coming in with these different symptoms with fresh eyes and say, wait, wait, wait, wait, are we in fact, looking at a neuro inflammatory disease? Are we looking at an infection that we missed, or toxins, in some cases, mold toxicity, heavy metals can be doing this and some people and now we have a way of actually treating these people and giving them a path to full recovery? So this is critical. We're talking about 10s, hundreds of millions of people worldwide suffering with all of these different conditions is this tower of Babel have different labels that we put on people but we're not being able to offer them solutions? Because we have been thinking about this wrong. We have been thinking about this as the symptom not thinking about it as the underlying disease, which in the case of many of these people is a broken immune system secondary to an infection, we identify that now we've got some answers for them. More importantly, we have solutions to be able to see them to completely recover.Anthony Hartcher:
And the other one is, I guess, in addition to the infection is just chronically inflamed, inflamed lifestyle, right, or in terms of food and sleeping and not exercising, and you're really driving that inflammation without the infection,Gary Kaplan:
You're absolutely correct. And one of the things so it's a little bit more complicated than infection, broken immune system and disease, it's genetics. So what's the setup in terms of this, but the other piece of it is a thing called epigenetics. Epigenetics is this idea of on top of it is our environment that stimulates us our nutrition, our stresses, sleep, exercise and exercise that turn on and off different genes and caused us to express that can either strengthen or weaken our immune system. So the basics always apply, you've got to get enough sleep enough sleep to find the seven, eight hours a night, unless you're a teenager than nine and a half hours a night, you've got to make sure that your nutrition is appropriate. If you're I just was reading an article looking at vitamin D, if you can't, if you develop COVID, you came in low vitamin D, your odds of getting longhaul COVID was about five times greater than if your vitamin D levels were normal. And by the way, a normal vitamin D level in the United States, at least should be about 50 to 80 nanograms per deciliter, not sure what I would translate it to in your system but about that. So we have to rethink this whole thing in terms of looking at the whole setup that led to the breakdown. And so exercise becomes extremely important in order to maintain a healthy immune system. And there are basic things in terms of you know, how you want to keep the immune system healthy saunas, in terms of detoxification using cold, cold ice bath, okay, do amazing things to tonify, the immune system cold being defined in your turns in about 16,15 degrees Celsius around that, that temperature 60 degrees in ours. But all of these things about 5-10 minutes couple of times a week will quantify your immune system. Same thing with intermittent fasting. Because we eat too many calories, we actually burn out our mitochondria. And so we can actually replenish ourselves by paying attention to nutrition, exercise, sleep, all of these things are essential to staying healthy. And then there are supplements that can actually be extremely helpful for us as well. And using things like resveratrol and using things like an app to build our immune system, we need to make sure that we've got adequate magnesium in our system, and many sleep problems can be solved simply by taking some magnesium at bedtime, that may solve the problem. You also may be able to solve problems or constipation by taking adequate magnesium. So we build it's not just a function of we find bugs, kill them and work on the immune system, we talk in terms of their entire lifestyle, we clean up there, we clean up people's diets, we clean up we get them exercising to the extent that they can people struggling with chronic fatigue can't do too much. And so you have to the key on these individuals is always pacing not pushing, you don't want the crushing, the magic of the simple empathic piece of this is where the brain gets so in frame because You've overdone that you completely crush and overdoing by the way can be resolved not just a physical exercise, but a mental Okay, in the course of a Championship match at a grandmaster level of chess, do you have any calories they burn sitting there for four hours, About 5000 calories, the brain is the mostAnthony Hartcher:
No idea metabolically active organ in the body. So it's not just the physical activity that can exhausting the trying to read focus concentrate can also exhausted and so we need to work on making sure we're pacing our people so that they're not crushing, because I don't want the brain getting inflamed. And that crush and that brain fog focus concentration, fatigue, crushing fatigue that these people have is a result of the brain becoming inflamed. I in fact, had one kid his problem was mold toxicity. So this is another environmental poison that we unexposed. He was particularly sensitive to it. And he was exhausted, severe fatigue, had to drop out of school, couldn't go to school in high school and couldn't read for more than 10 minutes. If you read more than 10 minutes, he completely crushed. And we took back and we said okay, stop five minutes and take a break for 15. And then you can read for another five minutes, but it went to crush. And so we worked our basic to get him up. And we also detoxified in terms of the mold sitting in the system, and he's graduating Baylor next year. So University. So you know, we can see these people recover completely and get their lives back. And that's what's important. It's really great that you take that an integrative approach and really get to the underlying driver behind the condition as opposed to just treating the symptoms because in those two earlier case examples, you mentioned both mental health related and the doctor could have easily just refer them to a psychologist and say, you know, deal with their psychology around hallucinations and depress depression. However, there was an underlying driver and if that wasn't dealt with the psychologist in terms of advancement and making progress would have been very limited. So it really does take that fully integrative approach in terms of not just looking at the symptoms and treating the symptoms, but getting to the underlying driver behind the condition. And that's That's absolutly correct. Yeah,Gary Kaplan:
after we think these thingsAnthony Hartcher:
And in terms of autoimmune conditions. So there's certainly like you hear a lot about a guest growing numbers. And obviously today we're able to test and test for auto antibodies and things like that. And we've got a greater level of awareness. So, you know, that could also be somewhat making us or seeing that the numbers are growing. But there's also, you know, you mentioned before this chronically inflammatory sort of lifestyle that some people can't live, and then on top of that, getting infections that aren't properly resolved or dealt with, so what sort of correlation Do you see with inflammation and autoimmune conditions and the rise of these autoimmune conditions that we, you know, say that a couple of you've mentioned, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue can be, you know, I guess a symptom of autoimmune condition. You mentioned celiac disease or syndrome. Yeah. So what have you seen in your research in terms of the correlation? So lifestyleGary Kaplan:
You have to, Yeah, you have to think about what inflammation is, because inflammation is a lot of different things in the body. And so if you skin your knee and the knee gets infected, and it gets all swollen, and causing inflammation there is caused by a bacteria and an antibiotic would be appropriate to treat it. If you have hay fever, right? You have allergies, itchy eyes, runny nose, that's not caused by an infection that's caused by an immune reaction to pollen, foods, whatever that you're allergic to, in which case you need to treat that by removing the offending agent. But also anti histamines will be useful. In the brain inflammation is mediated by two things. It's mediated on one add by the innate immune system. And that's made up mostly of cells called microglia and mast cells and astrocytes. So there's dealing with the innate component of the immune system in these individuals. And then there's the acquired immune system, which are the antibodies and dealing with that. Now, when you talk about this business of autoimmunity is very complicated because we're used to classical autoimmune diseases. Rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus or sjogrens syndrome, there's a whole list of them. But these autoimmune diseases that have been tripped off by infections are frequently brain antibodies that focus on the limbic system. So they're rather unique antibodies that go to very specific areas of the brain in kids, they produce some really bizarre behavioral problems. They produce what's called pseudoseizures, we call them such not because they're not seizures, but because we have already a standard EEG, electroencephalogram, we don't see that. But what goes on with these kids is can be quite terrifying and very dramatic. And what we see different though, in adults is that they don't have the same dramatic presentation, but they still have a very severe presentation, they can be completely crippled in terms of being bed bound, and not being able to get out of the house. It's extreme light, sound sensitivity, headaches, chronic generalised pain, these poor people are in depression. And it's usually all of the above, not necessarily one thing or the other. And when you're seeing all of that stuff, you're going, you're looking at a generalised neuro inflammatory process. And so then what you need to do is back up and start understanding how the brain got inflamed. And what it is we need to break it down. Now, part of it is getting rid of all the offending agents, we talked about environmental toxins like heavy metals, and we talked about mold briefly. But also, clearly infections that may be there that were not properly identify the treating, and then you have to treat the immune system and then treating the immune system, there's a number of things you can do in order to modulate the immune system, such as using metformin, which is a glucophage as a meta its a diabetes drug. But it turns out that it modulates the acquired immune system. So use of metformin can be very useful in this population. And by the way, it'll probably be the first anti aging drug, because it's very helpful in terms of helping us quiet our immune system so that we're not as inflamed and aging as rapid. So things like Metformin or the innate side, you want to look at things like low dose Naltrexone track some of the high dose is something that we use for reversing narcotic overdose, but at very low dose, one and a half to maybe three, four milligrams that is extremely effective at quieting the microglia. And the Innate System, also using things like antihistamines, to address the mast cells. There are other medications and supplements that you can use moody Rollins and others that will help stabilise and quiet the mast cells. So there's lots of things we can do. We're taking both from pharmaceutical and from supplements and from lifestyle in order to quiet all of this inflammation. And then we can talk about getting you completely recovered.Anthony Hartcher:
Yeah, so it's really a case by case basis in terms of how you work with clients as there's not a one size fits all, you know, if they're coming in saying I've got chronic fatigue, it could be a number of things that are driving that or underlying that. So it really requires thorough testing and working out, you know, what is the driver behind that.Gary Kaplan:
By the way so one of the setups for all of this stuff can be childhood abuse and extreme stress PTSD because we know that children are they to come out of abusive environments, about 50%, higher risk the rest of the population for developing autoimmune disease, about 20 to 25%, higher risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, this stuff has very severe and the psychological assaults have very severe impacts on our health. And indeed, I saw a woman today who's chronic fatigue, and she's depressed and trouble word finding focus and concentration, I told her what she needs to do first and foremost is get out of her marriage, she needs to get divorced, then we'll see what's left or what we need to do. But she's under so much stress. And she's so overwhelmed by what's happening in her life right now, in our marriage, the medical stuff almost fails in the side, and she's never going to be able to rally her own resources in order to be able to heal as long as she's living in this incredibly stressful environment. So all of this stuff, it's not, it's really correct. You need to individualise the therapies, and you need to get the story, you need to take time to really understand the totality of what's going on with someone where they've been this sick for this long. And when you do that, you can start to put things together. Okay, let's do this. And then you pick out your strategies in terms of what you're doing. But it is about putting together a comprehensive program, it's about treating the whole person and not just treating bits and pieces and the symptoms, because the symptoms is why they end up in my office to begin with.Anthony Hartcher:
I think it's a great segue into how the listeners can best connect with you before we get on to your final concluding words around what they can do in a preventative sense. I know you've mentioned a few things already, but really keen on you sharing with the listeners how they can best connect with you and get support and help.Gary Kaplan:
So well. I've written two books total recovery, which kind of outlines conceptually what this is about that was about five years ago, but my most recent book is why you were still sick. And that outlines pretty much a step by step of how to have labs we use, what procedures we use, to help you understand how you can diagnose yourself and how you can help yourself get better. And I can have a better conversation with your physician, your healthcare provider to really get better. So while you were still sick, and that is available at Amazon, we needed to put that out there because there's only a couple of us in the clinic and lots of people need help with this. The other thing we're doing is I run a foundation called the Foundation for total recovery brain on fire.org. And we sponsor a yearly meeting on this now we sponsor the meeting is focused primarily for physicians and researchers. So it's a pretty high level meeting, but we invite the public and we want them to be able to attend virtually so it's the meeting is going to be available November 8, 9, 10 will be here in DC only physicians and researchers can be in the room, but the public can sign on and attend virtually that can be signed on it https://www.medstarhealth.org/nduci2023. So medstarhealth.org/nduci New Developments in Understanding Chronic Illness 2023. And there you'll be able to hear literally the some of the top researchers from around the world who are pioneering in this field and helping redefine these conditions so that we come up with better illnesses. And we're talking about people who are coming from Stanford and people coming from NIH and or National Institute of Health People coming from Columbia and Georgetown. So they're really top researchers in the world, but also Cambridge, England. So we want to bring these people together to educate the profession so that the patients can get better care. But we want to educate the patients so that they can ask better questions and so that they can take charge of their health and not have to be a victim of their illness or the medical profession sometimesAnthony Hartcher:
I love that how you empower the client to take charge of their health, I think that's a great stepping stone to feel that they're in the driver's seat. And they're not disempowered, and they have no control. So I really liked how you you do that. And that to listeners, I'll include those links that Gary mentioned in the show notes. So go directly to the show notes, and you'll get a link directly to his book and directly to the conference that he mentioned in November. Now, your final concluding words, I'd love you to summarise as to what the listeners can best do to maintain a healthy immune system?Gary Kaplan:
Well, it gets back to the basics right sleep, you need to be getting seven, eight hours a night. If there are teenagers in your house, they need nine and a half hours. They don't ever get it but they need it. Exercise both strength training, and anaerobic is necessary about three times a week, you need to watch your diet, you should have a clean diet. And we're finding now all of this stuff with the artificial sweeteners or whatnot are just poison. So the low calorie stuff that people are drinking, look out coke and stuff, it's just poison. It's horrible for your brain, don't drink that stuff. You're much better off drinking, they're making this other than you're drinking the artificially sweetened stuff. But I don't even want to encourage you to do that. Water is a lovely thing. We want to encourage you to drink water. We want to make sure that you're being attentive to your own emotional health that you're being clean and clear with yourself. The more honest you are with yourself, the more clear you are in terms of what it is your needs are and whether or not you're being properly respected and addressed. We want people seen, heard and respected in all aspects of their lives. And that's probably the single most important thing because then you have a better sense of well being, and you're in an environment that supports your well beingAnthony Hartcher:
Fantastic. I love what you shared today, it's very pragmatic, it's very much getting back to the basics. And then seeing people that can really get an understanding of you as a person, what's going on, and what's driving your conditions or your your symptoms, and then help you address those. So really appreciate you coming on the show, Dr. Gary Kaplan and empowering the listeners to take charge of their health.Gary Kaplan:
I think what you're doing is brilliant. I think you're helping 10s of 1000s of people with the work that you're doing. And I applaud it and delighted to be here today. So thank you,Anthony Hartcher:
Thank you so much, and have a great day. And please share it with others that you could see that could gain value from this episode in terms of if they're, you know, this suffering from any of the conditions that Gary mentioned throughout the episode, please share it with them as as it could really help get them in the right direction and get their body to start healing themselves. So please share it with those in most need. And stay tuned in for more insightful episodes of me&ny health up.Podcast Disclaimer:
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