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Your Questions

Q: After being on birth control and then just having my first child 2 months ago, I feel like my hormones are very imbalanced. What can I do to balance my hormones naturally?

Your liver is tasked with inactivating most of your hormones. So liver support is always a good idea with any hormonal issues. B-vitamins, Magnesium, Milk thistle are good supplements to consider, and a diet high in dark green leafy veggies, beets, garlic and onions will also support the liver. Limiting coffee consumption (green tea is LOTS better for your liver) and consuming alcohol in moderation if at all. Other than that, in order to support your liver’s job of eliminating excess hormones, make sure your diet is also high in fiber, to lock the hormones and other toxins in the bowel so that they can be efficiently eliminated, rather than reabsorbed.

Q: Zoloft Withdrawal? I have just stopped taking Zoloft approx. 3 weeks ago and just started experiencing symptoms of vertigo, joint pain, fatigue, light-headedness, etc. What can I do about these withdrawal symptoms?

Zoloft has a half-life of about 26 hours. That means that for every day that passes without taking the medication the level in your blood falls by about 50%. After three weeks, there is virtually no Zoloft left in your system.

Some withdrawal symptoms are normal. You can reassure yourself that these symptoms are common, take measures to ensure your safety, and wait it out. Make sure that you are getting a good night’s rest, eating regularly and drinking plenty of water. Exercise will help too, but since you are dizzy, choosing the activity wisely and doing it with a friend would be a good idea.

Zoloft is designed to artificially boost levels of the body’s “sunshine chemical” serotonin. The amino acid 5HTP is the natural building block for serotonin. If you are looking to support your serotonin production system naturally, I would probably recommend taking 50mg of 5HTP 2-3 times a day. This will probably also stop your withdrawal symptoms. If you like the effect, you can stay on the 5HTP. If not you can stop taking it after a week or two and then the withdrawal will probably be much easier if you notice anything at all.

One important note is that patients should NEVER take 5HTP while there is any Zoloft (or anther SSRI drug) in their system. Doing so could cause a toxic load of serotonin. In general, it is best to approach this, and all psychological issues, with the help of a professional health care provider experienced in these areas.

Q: What is a cluster headache? What causes it, and how can I treat it?

Cluster headaches are sudden, severe and usually short duration headaches that affect men 5-8x more often than women. They are called “cluster” because they will often come in packs affecting the patient a few times a day or week and then disappear for long periods of time. The cause is largely unknown. Drug therapy is often beta blockers, or tricyclic antidepressants. While often effective, these drugs can carry big side effects.

Natural therapy ideas include melatonin (1-3 mg/night) and calcium/magnesium supplements (500mg each with food). Stress reduction, adequate sleep, daily moderate exercise, and frequent small meals and plenty of water will help too. If you are a big caffeine drinker, taper down slowly and try avoiding it altogether for a month to see how that affects your experience.

Q: Can my abnormal Pap turn back to normal?

Abnormal paps (ASCUS or LSIL results) can and often do revert to normal paps given time in younger healthy patients, but it is IMPERATIVE that all patients with abnormal paps get screened again 6 AND 12 months later. This is done to follow your progress and to give appropriate treatment to prevent cervical cancer if the pap results do not revert back to normal. Cervical cancer can be very serious and so one must not take chances.

Abnormal paps and cervical cancer are caused by the human papiloma virus (HPV). The other approved option for women 30 and older is to get a Digene HC2 test which determines if the patient has any of a group of the 13 most cancer causing strains of HPV. If the HC2 test is negative, then the patient still must follow up in 12 months with another pap. If the HC2 test is positive, then the patient should go in for a colposcopy examination right away which is the best way to detect cellular changes that can lead to cancer in the early stages.

The Digene HC2 test is not routinely used in women younger than 20, because with or without an abnormal pap, these women (if sexually active) will often test positive for HPV and then clear the infection on their own.

There are newer genetic tests available that can determine exactly which strain or strains of HPV that patient with an abnormal pap has. Strains 16 and 18 are much more aggressive and dangerous than the other strains. Strains 6 and 11 cause genital warts, but do not cause cancer. Some other strains can still cause cancer, but they usually do this much more slowly than 16 and 18.

These newer genetic tests are very accurate but they are not FDA approved yet, so there are no clear guidelines about how doctors should use the information. That said, one could easily conclude that a patients with type 16 or 18 HPV infections should be watched very carefully.

Q: What is the difference between a naturopathic doctor and a homeopath?

Homeopathy is one tool in the toolbox of Naturopathic Medicine. Not all Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) use homeopathy. I am a ND, and I never recommend it myself. I’ll explain why below.

The practice of homeopathy was developed when European doctors were still using leaches and blood letting as primary “healing” methods. Patients and doctors alike were desperate to find less invasive remedies. A guiding principle in homeopathy is that “like cures like.” Homeopathic preparations are highly diluted quantities of various substances that in high doses can actually cause the symptoms the homeopathic remedy supposedly alleviates.

How diluted are we talking about? In a 30C strength homeopathic, the original solution with the supposedly active ingredient is diluted serially by a factor of 100, 30 times. This means that not even a single molecule of the original substance likely remains in the remedy. Potential magical effects aside, is quite literally just a sugar pill.

Proponents of homeopathy say that the powerful “energetic signature” of the original substance not only remains through the dilutions, but that it gets stronger the MORE you dilute it. That’s where the homeopathic camp lost my vote, completely. If this were true, one would have to be careful about taking too little of a homeopathic remedy–especially the most diluted ones.

Many users and practitioners of homeopathy claim that the benefits are profound, abundant and real. However, if in fact homeopathy has does have any impact beyond the placebo effect, modern science has definitely not caught up to how this could actually happen.

40 Comments leave one →
  1. November 18, 2009 3:52 pm

    Hi Doc! I’ve always had trouble being able to quiet my stomach once it gets upset. If I drink too much I may vomit and not be able to stop for 24h. In high school I had to go to the hospital for this after I drank too much and couldn’t stop being sick a week later. I’m thinking of trying to get pregnant in the next few years. I was pregnant once years ago and was horribly horribly sick. I also used to have trouble with my stomach where it would palpably spasm for an hour or more, which made me feel quite nauseous. I’m sure part of this problem is nerves. I’ve had much fewer troubles since I’ve been chill, but am nervous being pregnant would be a problem for me. Do you have any suggestions for how to approach this problem? I’ll be sure to consult you formally should this time arrive, but feel free to use my question in abbreviated form on the blog!

    • trmorrisnd permalink
      January 5, 2010 6:18 pm

      I think that eating five times a day with three hour spacing would probably help you a lot: think 7am-10am-1pm-4pm-7pm (or something that fits your schedule) as the times to eat HALF a regular meal. Another tip is making sure that there is a balance of protein fat and carbs somewhere toward the Zone Diet would also probably help. That aiming for a 7/3/9 ratio (7g-protein/3g-fat/9g-carbohydrates) in your meals and snacks. Caffeine is almost definitely not the friend of anyone with a twitchy stomach that runs toward the nausea side of things. I recommend cutting way back or eliminating it for at least three weeks to see how that affects things. At the very least, only do caffeine after a meal. If none of that helps, you may benefit from food allergy testing, to identify specific foods that your body is having an immunological reaction to. You are right-on when you suggest that nerves are often at the root of digestive problems: exercise, meditation, yoga, tai-chi, qi-gong, hot baths, breathing exercises and other daily relaxation practices might make a big difference for you. There are many good nutriceutical solutions to mood disorders (anxiety, depression, OCD) that we could work on together too.

  2. Megan permalink
    March 27, 2011 4:03 pm

    I have been on zoloft for 14 days but it made me very ill as i am allergic to it. Ive stopped zoloft for two days. First day, i experienced withdrawal. Today, i feel fine. Should i expect anymore withdrawals?

    • trmorrisnd permalink
      August 30, 2011 3:49 pm

      The average terminal elimination half-life of plasma Sertraline (Zoloft) is about 26 hours. Based on this pharmacokinetic parameter, steady-state Sertraline plasma levels should be achieved after approximately one week of once-daily dosing. Once dosing is stopped, in the average person, the plasma level will be cut in half every 26 hours. It is generally not recommended to stop completely “cold turkey” as this can lead to withdrawal side effects. The risk of these withdrawal effects is greater when taking larger doses. (100 or 150 mg) than it is with smaller doses (25 or 50 mg). The standard recommendation is to taper off the dose.

      There have been spontaneous reports of adverse events occurring upon discontinuation of Sertraline hydrochloride and other SSRIs and SNRIs (Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors), particularly when abrupt, including the following: dysphoric mood, irritability, agitation, dizziness, sensory disturbances (e.g., paresthesias such as electric shock sensations), anxiety, confusion, headache, lethargy, emotional lability, insomnia, and hypomania. While these events are generally self-limiting, there have been reports of serious discontinuation symptoms.

      Patients should be monitored for these symptoms when discontinuing treatment with Sertraline hydrochloride. A gradual reduction in the dose rather than abrupt cessation is recommended whenever possible. If intolerable symptoms occur following a decrease in the dose or upon discontinuation of treatment, then resuming the previously prescribed dose may be considered. Subsequently, the physician may continue decreasing the dose but at a more gradual rate.

  3. Kristina permalink
    August 15, 2012 1:00 pm

    I have been having problems with bladder/urinary tract infections for the last year and a half. I have developed 2 drug sensitivities trying to treat them (in addition to a previous one from college) so it has become a growing concern. I am curious if there are natural treatments that don’t require anymore antibiotics.

    • trmorrisnd permalink
      August 15, 2012 2:23 pm

      Kristina. Good for you for wanting to get off the antibiotic train wreck. Your body is sending you two important signals, first the UTIs and secondly, the drug sensitivities. Identifying and treating the causes of both of these conditions is the way to go to promote your whole and optimal health–not just patch things up till something worse develops.

      Are there other options for immediate relief and addressgin the current infection? Yes there are. Concentrated extracts of cranberry are very effective against stopping the adhesion of E coli (the cause of 75% of UTIs) and this really helps your body beat the infection naturally.

      By the way, the “right” way to use antibiotics on a UTI is to run a culture & antibiotic-sensitivity test. The wrong way is to blast away with broad spectrum antibiotics repeatedly, and call it good.

      Of equal (or greater) concern is why you are developing multiple UTIs in the first place. It could be a sign that your secretory IgA levels have tanked, and the UTIs could be a warning sign that we need to address something else that’s behind an immune system weakness.

      Also of concern is the development of the drug sensitivities. Is your GI/digestion function alright? Multiple courses of antibiotics can cause dysbiosis and otherwise inflame and really mess up GI function. This can set the stage for for drug sensitivities (check) and, worse, a growing list of food allergies & sensitivities. GI dysbiosis, inflammation and drug and food reactions *can* set the stage for serious auto immune problems, and we certainly don’t want to go there. Anyway, this is why I feel it is good to really identify the causes of your symptoms, and not just try to drug them away.

      First office calls with me are 60-90 minutes and cost $200. Soon going up to $225. I spend a lot of time outside of the initial 60-90 minutes on your behalf, and a recent patient said that I was like having “Dr. House” all over her case. Subsequent visits and check-ins run $50-150.

      As far as payment goes, I do not bill insurance any longer. That broken system is a major part of our dysfunctional “disease care system”. You can ask your insurance about “out of network benefits” for an ND, pay cash, or use a medical flexible spending account (FSA) if you have one.

      You can send me an email at tr_morris_nd@hotmail.com if you’re ready to take alternative action and partner up on addressing your concerns and otherwise blazing a path to finding and maintaining your optimal health.

  4. Beth T permalink
    May 13, 2013 4:35 pm

    Hello. My daughter has had a rough 2 years with infertility, endometriosis, ovarian cysts and now we suspect adrenal problems. They say she has high Estrogen and prescribed birth control to try and regulate her periods- that have been an issue as well. At this point she is very depressed and unsure of what to do. She has had acupuncture and taken Chinese herbs and did the whole detox. I was wondering if she should be on progesterone? Any educated suggestion would be greatly appreciated.
    Beth

    • May 20, 2013 12:19 pm

      The kind of hormones and birth control your daughter is important. Some are more “bio-identical” to human hormones than others. For example, Premarin comes from pregnant horses (“Pregnant Mares”), and many have found that it does not work as well as the biodentical options. You are right to think about Progesterone in her case as well, as this can help with endometriosis. I would consider finding a phased birth control option that has both estrogen and progesterone. With any hormonal conditions (and especially with endometriosis, ovarian cysts, and irregular periods), I make sure that my patients are eating a low/no-sugar, high fiber diet, take a good probiotic, and get regular exercise. Supporting the liver with low/no alcohol, no smoking/drugs, and specific nutrients is important too. The liver deactivates hormones. She may have adrenal and thyroid issues too. To see if the adrenals are involved, run a two sample coritsol blood test, or a 4 sample salivary costisol test.

  5. Beth T permalink
    May 20, 2013 12:51 pm

    Thank you so much for your response. Since I last wrote to you she has found an endocrinologist that works with women having hormone problems. A series of blood tests are being done then I think the saliva ones. She has started her on Progesterone (Natural) not synthetic drug so that we are please with. This doctor wants to get to the root of the problem which is why she wants blood tests. Ironically my daughter says she has noticed less oil on her face (which has been a cause of acne) in the past. It has only been a week & in 5 weeks she goes back to see the Doctor to follow up. My daughter exercises daily and does Yoga. She also has been very careful about what she eats and all is organic. My prayer is that the Progesterone is what she needs to balance the hormones and eventually can overcome infertility also which would be a plus. 🙂 Five years of trying and fertility treatments has taken a toll on her body.

    • May 20, 2013 1:14 pm

      There is a common theme we find with many hormonal problems: adrenal problems precede thyroid problems which precede the gonadal/sex hormone problems. It may be that your daughter has a strictly ovarian/gonadal problem with estrogen and progesterone, but I would not ignore this principle that the problem might have started with adrenal issues. As such the Estrogen and progesterone may make her feel better, but it may also leave other deeper problems untended to. Daily yoga and a good diet are great for the adrenals. So are extra vitamin C, and Vitamin B5. Healthy GI flora can not be underestimated too: this is why I like all my hormone patients to consider a comprehensive stool culture test to identify what is living in their guts and to try taking a *really* good probiotic.

  6. Kara Long permalink
    June 20, 2014 7:40 pm

    Hi, I have been struggling with feeling awful for a while – I would love to hear your thoughts. About a year and a half ago (while on the GAPS diet) I became pregnant – my third pregnancy. After having two healthy pregnancies and births, miscarriage wasn’t even a thought, but I felt awful. My hair started falling out and I was extremely tired. I ended up having a miscarriage. My hair kept thinning and I continued to struggle with extreme fatigue. I went on to develop severe constipation, multiple food sensitivites, poor memory among other things. I also haven’t been able to get pregnant again. I’ve been to a couple of doctors and my blood work has always come back normal – except for low vitamin D and B. Finally I insisted on having my thyroid further checked, and sure enough, I have a nodule on my left thyroid, high reverse T3 and low free T3. The naturopath I’ve been seeing only wants to address my symptoms with diet (starting with a detox juice fast) and supplements. I want to treat this naturally, but I’m so tired and I don’t digest my food well (it’s up and down throughout the month, but most of the time I get extremely bloated and my food just seems to sit and doesn’t digest) it seems like I could benefit from some thyroid help, so that my body can start functioning again. I also really want to have another baby – and as I am turning 36 this year, I don’t feel that I have a lot of time.

    • August 15, 2014 5:04 pm

      Hi Kara. Thanks for reaching out. I would definitely NOT recommend a detox juice fast for you. You need an in depth thyroid workup (TSH, FT4, FT3, TT3:T3 ratio, Anti-TG, Anti-TPO). You would probably benefit (at least in the short term with T3 support). It’s likely that an adrenal problem begat your thyroid issues. A 4-sample adrenal salivary profile would be a good idea, or at least an Serum-AM cortisol. Serum DHEA-S and pregnenolone would be interesting too. You might also consider having your genetic MTHFR/methylation SNP test done too, as part of 23andme testing. Other rocks to look under later include a stool test (Doctors Data CSA+O&Px3), and a food sensitivity test: IgG4. I’m sending you my intake forms so that we can work together in detail in formal consultation.

  7. Kathy Irwin permalink
    August 21, 2014 3:38 pm

    Hi Dr. Morris. I’m a 62 year old female who has had hypothyroidism for approximately 10 years or so. I am taking Armour 30 mg. 3 times a day sublingually and have been doing it this way almost from the start. My doctor only tests for TSH. Normally my level has been around 1.5 or so and I feel pretty good for the most part. However, this last test showed it at 0.695 and I’m feeling almost like I’m over medicated (jittery, racing heart, racing thoughts, sleep disruptions). I developed hypothyroidism after going through chemo/radiation 20 years ago for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma but have never been told what form I have. I’m feeling like my adrenals might be involved, too. There have been other times I feel almost like I’m hyperthyroid but it usually goes away after a day or two. I cut out the afternoon dose for a couple days and felt better, but obviously don’t want to do this long term without a doctor’s supervision. What should my course of action be? Thank you for any general advice.

    • August 21, 2014 5:06 pm

      Hi Kathy. Based on your symptoms and your TSH, it does seem like you don’t need as much armour Thyroid as you did before. There could be several reasons for this, but there’s no point in overmedicating yourself just because that’s what you’ve been doing. I think it’s high time that you get a full set of new thyroid labs including: TSH, FT4, FT3, TT3, RT3, Anti-TTG and Anti TPO. While you’re at it, get an AM cortisol drawn to at least get a snapshot of what’s going on there. Find yourself a licensed ND or certified functional medicine practitioner in your area, and get the care that you need. If you have a way to get these labs ordered yourself and would like to consult with me long-distance, I’d be happy to work with you. Just send me an e-mail and I’ll send you the remote consultation intake paperwork.

  8. Candice permalink
    January 12, 2015 11:37 am

    Just got diagnosed with Graves Disease (36 year old woman). Never had thyroid issues up until about 3-4 months ago (8 months post partum). I thought the weight loss was from nursing. No other symptoms that I am aware of. My doctor wants to start me on a medication. Is this a typical response to hyperthyroidism/Graves Disease?

    • January 12, 2015 12:13 pm

      Using Methamizole/PTU to suppress your thyroid production is a common conventional treatment in Graves disease. Getting at the underlying causes of the autoimmunity is what I focus on to give patients a better chance at longer or permanent remissions and to hopefully avoid thyroidectomy or radioactive thyroid ablation. Areas I consider in Graves and other autoimmune patients include: adrenal fatigue/insufficiency, stress response patterns, digestion, dysbiosis, gluten or other food allergies/sensitivities, sleep, etc.

  9. January 24, 2015 5:30 pm

    Dr.Morris,
    I have type 1 diabetes, psoriasis and granuloma annulares.I took Enbrel for my psoriasis for four years, my symptoms of both psoriasis and the GA cleared but I couldn’t help but ask at what cost. I have quit taking the Enbrel and both skin conditions have flared. My current dermatologist is now recommending a topical immune suppressant or topical steroids. With Enbrel being an immune suppressant it became clear to me that my immune system is not functioning optimally. I’ve done a lot of research on autoimmunity which ultimately has led me to the AIP PALEO Diet. Following the AIP protocol my psoriasis has cleared, but the GA is still horrible and I’m obviously still diabetic. I found you by searching for a functional medicine doctor because I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with doctors who are so quick to treat symptoms with strong pharmaceuticals and advise that I follow the Standard American Diet to control my diabetes. I know that my system is not working as it should. I know I’ll always be diabetic but I do believe my system is inflamed and doesn’t have to be. I want to get to the bottom of it but I’m feeling pretty helpless and without support from a doctor. Autoimmunity is so confusing and I can only continue to make so many food restrictions for so long. Id love to know if you felt you could help treat me or if you would advise that I find an endocrinologist, and if so do you recommended one? I’ve had a lot of trouble finding one whom I trust. Thank you in advance. Sincerely,Krista

    • February 24, 2016 11:41 pm

      It’s fair to say that your immune system is probably tuned for AI conditions and that it’s been getting triggered by things in your diet and or environment. Stress has a major effect on AI and inflammatory conditions too. Optimizing your digestion, sleep, movement, stress reduction, relaxation techniques, and detox systems (biotransformation and elimination) pathways will help. All this can and should be finely tuned to fit your exact situation. Michelle Jeffries, DO is a fabulous DO-dermatologist in Arizona. Either she or I could assist in your case, many other too. You can always look for a great ND or an IFMCP graduate from IFM on their “find a practitioner” link

  10. Patricia permalink
    March 3, 2015 3:26 pm

    Hi Dr. Morris, in the spring of 2013 I needed a hand surgery and the surgeon ordered a neck MRI to make sure the problem was not coming from my neck. They found a small lump on my thyroid which turned out to be thyroid cancer. I did not have any symptoms. I had a TT in May of 2013. It has been a nightmare since. I have been to three endochronologists and 3 NP’s. My labs are always in the low range and if they are not they show high reverse T3. I have done stool tests, urine tests and more blood work than I can remember and a saliva test (flatlined)… And told to take vitamins which did nothing. It is confusing. Even with low thyroid I have lost 20 pounds and most of my muscle. I am 5’7” and only weigh 110lbs. I eat well. Have chronic insomnia. I was a successful corporate manager with a ton of energy before I lost my thyroid. Now I am lucky to make it to the grocery store. I realize you cannot diagnose or treat me on the Internet, but I guess I am wondering with all these tests (and $$$), and no advice expect vitamins, do you have other thoughts on how I might regain my health? I have lost faith in the medical community. Thanks for your time.
    Patricia

    • March 3, 2015 3:44 pm

      Hello Patricia. You are right that I can’t give medical advice over the internet. To give good/personalized advice, I would need a complete intake and a good look at all your relevant records. Conventional docs are not trained to consider anything within the “normal range” to be something to treat, and instead throw drugs at your symptoms like water on a fire. Most conventional docs are not in situations where they have the time to do anything more than this. You need someone to dig into your endocrine case and look over all the lab tests, medications, supplements and consider your various signs and symptoms with a sensitive eye looking for the bigger picture and common upstream causes of what’s going on for you. Check out the IFM Find a Functional Medicine Practitioner link and see if you can find a Certified IFMCP Graduate in your area. A licensed naturopathic doctor may be able to help too if they have considerable experience in endocrinology and an open mind (i.e. not pigeon holing you). I can do long distance consulting with patients, but it does require a full intake and an initial 90 minute appointment for us to get started. Email me separately if this is of interest to you and I will send you the intake paperwork.

      Labs I would want to see in your case would include:
      TSH, FT4, FT3, TT3, RT3
      DHEA-S
      AM-Cortisol, or better, a 4 sample salivary cortisol
      Pregnenolone

  11. Jen permalink
    April 8, 2015 8:21 am

    Hi Dr Morris,
    I am wondering if you ever use hair mineral analysis testing or find them beneficial at all?

    • April 8, 2015 10:33 am

      I prefer to use RBC or whole blood mineral analysis. I do not use hair mineral analysis testing. The mineral spread that the hair folicle puts out is not a direct representation of the minerals that exist in a patients blood, serum, organs or bone. There is also an issue with external contamination of the hair. Those limitations aside, there is an advantage with hair in that it does not require a blood draw or urine collection.

      • Jen permalink
        April 8, 2015 10:41 am

        Thank you, that is interesting. Would this also be a way you could check for heavy metals like mercury or problems with excess copper?

  12. April 8, 2015 12:37 pm

    Yes, whole blood or RBC would be my preferred way to screen for elevated copper or mercury. There are many problems with the “provoked” urine testing–using IV EDTA or DMPS or oral DMSA to chelate metals out of a patient. I am particularly critical of how the results for provoked metals testing are still typically reported on reference ranges determined by the labs themselves from unprovoked samples. The predictable outcome of this kind of sloppy test reporting is that many if not most samples will “appear” to have elevated levels of toxic metals. Most concerning is that this can amount to railroading patients down an expensive, unnecessary, and potentially dangerous chelation-therapy path with both the labs and the practitioners having a financial incentive to not point out the limitations of this kind of test reporting. Until the labs develop qualified chelator-specific and dosage-specific reference ranges for the various metals, the results of this kind of testing will be suspicious if not spurious in my mind.

    • Stage 3 cancer survivor permalink
      February 22, 2016 9:56 pm

      I’ve read your criticism of heavy metal testing.

      What do you recommend for getting rid of platinum chemo drugs? My level on a Doctors Data provoked urine test went from 60 to 15 after several months of EDTA. Is this worthwhile? How would I know when I’m done?

      I’ve had nerve and kidney symptoms and a parent with leukemia, all of which can be caused by platinum toxicity, so it sense prudent to get rid of it…and I’ve successfully chelated mercury in the past, so I’ve seen this process work…you’re so critical, but what’s a patient to do?

      Thank you,

      • February 23, 2016 9:53 am

        Thanks for your post Sharon. My criticism about provoked heavy metal testing is the provoked part. I think heavy metal testing in urine and blood has a solid place in medicine today and also that chelation therapy has a place. To be clear, I do not think there is a place for provoked urine testing… yet. The myriad variables affecting a provoked urine test include timing and size of the metal-exposure, which chelator or chelators were used (EDTA, DMPS, DMSA, etc.), the variable affinity of the specific chelator to the specific target metals, the dose of the chelator, patient’s serum volume, etc. This is largely why there are no established reference ranges for provoked samples and why it is, at best, an ugly science. The other factor to is the reference ranges on which the samples are reported. With lead and EDTA it is considered “normal” for provoked urine to be ~6x higher than unprovoked. When you report chelated results on the same reference range as unprovoked, this leads to the typical false-appearance of alarmingly high provoked results. It is my impression that many docs do not fully understand this, and the even the best integrative lab and chelation seminars I’ve been to do not highlight this. I expect that even fewer patients understand this. Patients see toxic metals running off the chart, and its difficult to understand how the chart is *massively* distorted.

        Regarding your case: If I was given a course of platinum chemotherapy, I would test blood and unprovoked urine levels of platinum and consider undergoing 2-3 months of chelation therapy with a chelator with high affinity to platinum. I don’t know offhand if that is EDTA or not, if there was a good oral option (DMSA), I’d go that route. There are lots of other things you can do to support endogenous metallothinines and other natural chelators like NAC, and I would research the effectiveness with platinum specifically and I would do those. Then I’d retest in 2-3 months and probably let it go unless there were symptoms I could directly and firmly associate with platinum.

      • Do not use my name, please permalink
        February 23, 2016 11:54 pm

        Thanks for your thoughtful answer. There’s precious little info about platinum chelation available. It’s appalling cancer patients are poisoned with this stuff and no one seems to care about getting rid of it. We patients are at the mercy of those who claim they can help.

        EDTA is the chelator of choice for platinum, not DMSA. Glutathione, NAC, and a whole host of other detox strategies didn’t make a dent in the platinum numbers or symptoms over time – my family doesn’t detox easily due to genetic mutations…

        4 provoked urine tests over 8 months done at 60 day intervals during EDTA chelation showed a steady linear decline in the platinum number, so I have to believe its working, though it’s expensive and inconvenient and thectrst isn’t optimal – it would be nice if insurance would cover this…

        I understand the graphs are overly dramatic, but again, how does one know if the platinum is really gone? Serum only shows recent exposure, not what’s sequestered in fat, bones or brain tissue. And, yes there are symptoms linked to platinum as well as the risk of AML leukemia.

        This is more than an academic debate – its my life and quality of life and my pocketbook…

        Is there anyone out there with good answers about chelating platinum? My experience says it’s a much different game than chelating mercury…

        Many thanks…

      • February 24, 2016 12:55 am

        I understand that platinum is excreted in the urine normally. The real test would be to have your identical twin undergo the same chemo and not do chelation. Would we see a linear decrease over time in the much lower serum or unprovoked urine platinum levels? These would be a fraction of the alarming provoked samples, but I expect we might.

        I don’t doubt that chelators like EDTA do “grab” heavy metals and make them more excreteable in the urine. But if chelators are so good at entering cells, passing through fat, bone and other organs to scavenge deeply stored heavy metals (and I do seriously doubt this), then why wouldn’t chelators run the risk of carrying metals deeper into the body? Its not like chelators have a homing beacon that gets activated after picking up a metal that sends them directly back to the plasma and kidneys and out through he urine. I think they do mostly pull metals just form the plasma. If chelating agents like EDTA did penetrate deeply, then I would be seriously concerned about redistribution into the brain, liver and kidneys–right where you don’t want them. Of course, the docs that use a lot of chelation dont question the validity of the wonky chelated test results, they dont worry about redistribution, and they believe that chelators are able to penetrate deep in bone and organs without causing any harm. If this sounds too good to be true, then we’re on the same page. The labs and the docs are making a lot of money with this process, and I think they are taking a lot of people for an expensive ride for every one patient that is actually helped by the chelation.

        Back to your life and quality of life and pocketbook: I think you have probably done enough chelation. Short of obvious metal toxicity symptoms, stop testing your metal levels, and put your focus on recovering from the Cancer, the major scare and stress, the chemo, and the chelation. Get your digestion and elimination in top shape, get plenty of good sleep, eat a clean diet, avoid alcohol and drugs (Rx and recreational), learn a few new relaxation and stress relief techniques, spent time with people you like, and find a noble purpose outside of yourself that you can really get into and take pride in.

  13. May 1, 2015 12:02 pm

    Hi Dr. Morris,
    do you use organic acid testing or is it even reliable? If so what company’s have you had best experience with? Im interested in having the test done but my current ND doesn’t do it because she’s not too familiar with the test and isn’t contracted with Genova labs (one of the companies that do the testing). Thanks

    • February 24, 2016 1:00 am

      Genova has a pretty comprehensive test, looking at plasma and urinary levels of metabolic intermediates and metabolites. It’s pretty spendy, like $1000, and insurance wont pay for it. I think that some of the 50-100 markers are interesting, but that the lab made too much out of some shakier ones. I dont think this testing is ready for prime time yet. You can buy a lot of organic food, a new mattress, a yoga or gym membership, counseling sessions, etc. for the price of two rounds of that testing. I personally would not do it yet. We need better science behind it and a lower price point.

  14. Julia permalink
    May 1, 2015 1:45 pm

    Hi There, I am from New Zealand (currently in Canada) and am having trouble finding a doctor to help with my mercury toxicity (i’m also unsure of the route to choose to detoxify. I have read some articles on your site and thought I would get in touch. I have low thyroid and adrenal function and have had 2 high readinds of mercury following DMPS provocation challenge. I did read that you are skeptical of these test results. In short, my questions are you able to consult and work with and perhaps treat patients internationally? Thanks!

  15. Ashton Blalock permalink
    April 7, 2016 11:29 am

    No question, I just had to leave a review for this guy.
    This is a REAL diagnostician ladies and gents. Dr. Morris is brilliant. I spent years trying to find answers, researching explanations and causes in attempt resolve my symptoms, leading me down a path of MANY inaccurate diagnoses and unnecessary medication from doctors who took the easy way out of masking my symptoms instead of taking the time to discover the root of the problem. Finally, I stumbled upon some of the medical articles by Dr. Morris (particularly one on A.D.D. and adrenal hormones), and for once a clear route to understanding the cause of my problem was laid out in black and white. Simple. To the point. Finally.
    Bottom line? No more antidepressants or synthetic hormones for me.
    If, by chance, you are like me and are are sick of doctors shoving pills down your throat to mask your symptoms, experiencing issues in the realm mental health, neurological function, or hormonal imbalances, this is your guy. He really, truly, gets it. I wish we had even ONE doctor like Dr. Morris in the east Texas area.

    • May 13, 2016 4:27 pm

      Thank you, Ashton! I do offer long-distance consultations with patients who have provided a consent form, completed intake forms (14 pages), and forwarded relevant medical records to me. We can do this over the phone, Skype or email. You can also look for an IFM Certified Practitioner (IFMCP). I am a lead faculty on the IFM certification committee and we certify that our graduates have competency to practice Functional Medicine. You can use the Find a Practitioner link on the IFM website. Well trained, licensed Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) should also be able to handle your concerns. With any alternative doc, watch out for shticks and providers that try to cram everyone into preset programs rather than treating you individually with your best interests in the lead.

  16. Ryoji permalink
    July 24, 2016 6:19 am

    Nice to meet you on line.

    I’m Ryoji jp guy from Japan.
    I have been diagnosed ADHD 3 years ago and have tried many kinds of supplements to improve my ADHD symptoms for more than 7 months. But still I am not sure my actions are correct or not because there are no naturopathic medical doctors in Japan.

    Now I started to take Sam-e(S-adenosylmethionine) 400 mg and 2 tablets of Folate 800 mg as Methafolin and 2 tablets of Methyl B-12 1000 mg twice a day as well as 2 softgels of Omega-3 include 360 mg of EPA and 240 mg of DHA a day.

    Besides now I take Protein supplement which includes 3.8 mg of Vitamins B6 per 100g according to personal trainner in Gym.

    Please help me. If you require advice fees, of course I will pay for decent advices.

    Best regards

    Ryoji Shimizu

    • October 24, 2016 3:09 pm

      Many people diagnosed with ADD are simply having a normal reaction to our highly regimented and technological modern society. Just because you can’t sit staring at screens for 8+ hours a day, does not make you have ADD. Sometimes the best thing to do is to find an occupation where your natural abilities, scanning the environment and siezing on one or more oportunities as they present themsevels is better than any therapy to make you “normal”. Anxiety and other reactions to neonatal or early childhood trauma can cause all the symptom of ADD. If these ideas do not help then regular exercise, ample good sleep and avoiding stimulants and exhaustion are all important in ADD. They are important for everyone anyway. Also be careful about taking too much folic acid and B12 as this can cause a relative deficiency of B6 It’s good that your protein supplements has B6, but it’s not enough in proportion to the FA/B12.

      • Ryoji permalink
        November 1, 2016 5:49 am

        Dear T.R.Morris

        Thank you to reply and for good advises at first. I intend to continue exercise constantly and take enough sleep everyday as your advises.
        Now I have been employed as digitalizer of many kind of documents in my company weekday 6 hours a day for 2 and 8 months years.
        But do you mean any supplements are unnecessary for ADHD?
        If not, which supplements do you recommend me to take at least?

  17. August 29, 2016 9:50 am

    Here are my thoughts. The first thing to do about ADD symptoms is to address modifiable lifestyle factors: sleep, exercise, nutrition, stress, and relationships. The next thing to do is to identify food and chemical triggers that spike ADD symptoms in individuals. An elimination diet (avoiding wheat/gluten, dairy/whey, eggs, soy, corn, sugar, and food additives/preservatives) for 3-6 weeks, then carefully challenging the foods one at a time for 1-3 days to look for symptoms. Sugar and preservatives don’t need to be challenged, just avoid them for the rest of your life. IgG food “sensitivity” testing can also be informative. Then assess adrenal function with 4 sample salivary cortisol/DHEA testing and treat that if necessary. Then identify unmitigated traumas/PTSD and treat those. If you’ve done all this and still have severe ADD symptoms that are helped by low doses of ADD medications (AND YOU DON’T HAVE A PERSONAL OR FAMILY TENDENCY TOWARD ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE) then low doses are probably okay. For those who metabolize caffeine well (normal CYP-1A2 genetics), they might as well drink 1-4 cups of coffee (or 2-8 of tea) instead of taking low dose ADD drugs. The effect is much the same and without the profound risks.

    L-Theanine is a amino acid from tea. In some ways, it is the opposite of caffeien. 200mg taken away from food can help support a relaxed focus, and you can take it up to 1-4 times a day. It is completely harmless and not addictive.

    • Ryoji permalink
      December 18, 2016 7:37 am

      Thank you to answer detailly and I appreciate you so much.
      At the same time I’m sorry not to notice this detailed your answer until now.

      I tested cortisol salivary and DHEA blood. As a result of them, Although my cortisol level is low whole one day, especially it was quite low morning cortisol. Therefore it’s hard for me to get up in the morning though I have done for my job duty. However DHEA level was normal not low.
      Nowdays alsmost everyday I take coffee or cafe latte or green tea and no ADHD drugs any more like concerta(Methylphenidate) and strattera(Atomoxetine) cause I didn’t them effective well.
      Recently I make a habit to sleep longer as well as exercise a bit in gym. Although I am not sure whether they are related to recent my symptoms, I realize I got to be unforgettable by degrees and remember them even if I forgot things at once.
      I feel indeed enough good sleep is important for my symptoms.
      Although I take Omega 3 and Gingko Biloba and BCAA and L-carnitines fumarate as review ranking in IHERB,how do you think about these supplements taking for ADD or ADHD symptom? good?

      I’m pleased if you answer anytime.

      Ryoji Shimizu

  18. October 13, 2016 10:22 am

    Sudden changes happened June of 2016, extremely tired, couldn’t handle my children, noise, couldn’t exercise anymore due to weakness in extremities, brain fog, joint pain, can’t get the right words to come out of my mouth. I was an active person, playing volleyball 3 nights a week, and business owner. Since all this I have had cortisol testing, 3 thyroid tests (hypo), amino acid test, tested positive for ANA (no idea what), have seen a Rheumatologist, food sensitivity test, Chiropractor, Nutritionist, 2 different ND’s and one PA.
    I am still waiting for answers. I had a similar bout last year which only lasted a month, because I was given steroids. This 1 month of feeling off in 2015 happened right after I had dental work done. It was stressful, I was uncomfortable for a long time. High stress for a long time in general.. my husband suffered many injuries Jan. 2015, I was working on adrenaline trying to provide and be there for him.
    I am annoyed easily, sounds, loudness, smells. I seem to be way more sensitive compared to how I was in my 20’s. I just turned 40. My mother is Hypo.
    I started on 60mg Armour with first ND, took for 1 month. Switched to a new ND because I didn’t feel like the first was talking to me about gut health and nutrition. He put me on supplements and Armour only. Switched and new ND tells me that my T3 is too high. Tells me to stop Armour and I wait about 3 weeks. Puts me on 50mcg of Levo, which I have been taking for about 3-4 weeks now. I can’t say I feel good. I still get very tired at 3pm, still moody, still can’t handle stress.
    OH – important piece, I started AIP diet in July, and have lost 12 lbs (mainly muscle and my tummy roll) I wasn’t a meat eater before. I have cut gluten, most grains (I eat gluten free oatmeal with no sugar) for breakfast. I feel weak with ZERO carbs. Almost completely dairy free, eat sauerkraut daily, take a probiotic, Vit D, evening primrose oil, complete omega, L-5-MTHF, was taking HPA Adapt with Rhodiola, Ashwanganda, Holy Basil, Maca – I realized that this supplement could be harming me because of the nightshades. I am still waiting to hear from my ND on this. I am not depressed, my life is good. I just don’t feel good!!! Is this ALL thyroid?? I know my levels aren’t optimal. What about the pos. ANA??

    • October 24, 2016 3:01 pm

      The ANA is probably a playing a role in your symptoms. I always take a look at digestive function and stool cultures with AI patients. Many AI diseases start with a dysbiosis and gut inflammation. Have someone take a good look at your FT3:FT4 ratio, and your RT3:TT3 ratio. This is the only way to know how well your are converting to T3 (good) and RT3 (bad). Get an AM cortisol and DHEA-S to get a snapshot of your adrenal function. Also, be careful with methyl-folate. I have had several patients cause a relative B6 deficiency and associated “stocking glove neuropathy” when taking big doses of methyl-folate and/or methyl B12 alone. Eat some carb’s, but always with good fats and proteins.

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