Dr. Gloria Gilbere on Food Allergies and Multiple Chemical Sensitivities

Dr.Gloria Gilbere Dr. Gloria Gilbere, N.D., D.A.Hom., Ph.D., is a doctor of naturopathy and natural health. After a life-threatening accident and the subsequent drug therapies, Dr. Gilbere developed many "invisible illnesses" that weren't always recognized by the medical establishment. She recovered through nondrug methods, and she has built a successful career based on sharing her knowledge about what works, what doesn't work, and what it takes to maintain health in a toxic world. Dr. Gilbere is internationally respected as a natural-medicine researcher, environmental health consultant, author, and authoritative influence in the discovery of the causes, effects, and nondrug solutions for overcoming immune system disorders.

Dr. Gilbere has written several books, including Invisible Illnesses and Pain & Inflammation Matters. Dr. Gilbere recently participated in an interview with the staff of Allergy Consumer Report. The transcript of the interview follows:

Question: Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Dr. Gilbere. This issue of Allergy Consumer Report focuses on Food Allergies. You've had quite a bit of experience dealing with food allergies, as both a health consultant and a patient. In fact, at one point, you nearly starved because every bit of food caused a violent allergic reaction. However, you were not born with these food allergies. They appeared because of a digestive disorder, specifically leaky gut syndrome. Could you please explain to our readers what leaky gut syndrome is and how it can lead to food allergies and multiple chemical sensitivities?

Dr. Gilbere: Leaky Gut Syndrome is a newer term used to describe an old condition known as "intestinal permeability" or "autointoxication," meaning that the body is literally poisoning itself from toxic substances recirculating within. When the lining of the intestines is damaged—let's say from overuse of some prescribed medications, specifically antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—the lining, meant to protect molecules from entering directly into the blood supply, becomes porous. When the toxins are being "dumped" into the liver faster than the liver's ability to neutralize them, we develop serious allergies and conditions such as multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). I coined the term Multiple Allergic Response Syndrome (MARS), because I believe it more accurately describes the condition where we become allergic to most things, not only chemicals.

Question: How does the overuse of antibiotics and NSAIDs contribute to the development of leaky gut syndrome?

Dr. Gilbere: Drugs of this nature weaken or destroy the intestinal lining and set us up for leaky gut syndrome, among other disorders. In my personal case, I suffered a life-threatening fall onto concrete and sustained fractures in my leg, damage to my right arm and several days later a blood clot, deep vein thrombosis, which became pulmonary embolism and almost killed me. As a consequence of my injuries I was prescribed pain medications and anti-inflammatory medications. Eventually I developed allergies to everything!

Question: Many parents report that their child's behavior improves dramatically after the child is put on a milk-free diet. Apparently, some parents believe that milk causes ADHD in their children. Do you think there is a connection between milk consumption and ADHD in children?

Dr. Gilbere: In my experience, many childhood behavior and immune challenges are either based in, or accelerated by, cow dairy products. Keep in mind that the U.S. is the only country in the world where so many cow products are consumed. In most other countries, goat products are preferred because of their molecular structure being closer to human milk. In addition, the protein molecules of goat-milk are one-fifth the size of cow's milk, making goat-milk not only easier to digest but also to assimilate. Goat products also do not form mucous or phlegm so they don't congest the body, which can be a breeding ground for candida.

Editor's Note: Candida is a yeast-like fungal organism that lives naturally in our bodies. According to Dr. Gilbere's book Invisible Illnesses, when the intestines become too toxic, or when antibiotics kill off too much "good" bacteria in our intestines, then candida can grow out of control; this condition is known as candidiasis. Candidiasis can cause all sorts of symptoms from craving carbohydrates (the preferred food of candida) to anxiety, depression, aches and pains, congestion, acne, psoriasis, food allergies, and multiple chemical sensitivities. Candida yeast that has been growing in the intestine for a long time can shift into a fungal form, developing “roots” that can grow right through the intestinal wall! These roots cause the intestines to become porous, allowing toxins and proteins to flow through the intestinal wall into the body—and this increased intestinal permeability is known as leaky gut syndrome.

Question: You often wore an I Can Breathe mask during your struggle with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities. What's special about this mask and why did you choose it?

Dr. Gilbere: I use and recommend I Can Breathe masks because I found they are the least reactive for highly sensitive individuals as well as because of the protection of a disposable filter and the light weight. So many masks I tried were so thick and heavy that I felt like I was suffocating. Fortunately, I don't have to wear one anymore, but I don't leave home without one in my car, briefcase or handbag.

Question: Do you still wear your I Can Breathe mask in certain situations?

Dr. Gilbere: Absolutely. I especially had to wear it when I was in Florida lecturing and we were attempting to walk from the hotel to a restaurant. It was summer, and everyplace you went they had either sprayed pesticides or were spraying. No wonder there are so many chemically ill people in tropical climates! I had to wear the mask to and from the hotel for protection. Other than that instance, I haven't had to wear it but a handful of times in the past four years.

Question: Most people experiencing any kind of allergic reaction take some type of antihistamine. But you write that overuse of antihistamines can actually cause an increased allergic response by damaging the liver. What do you recommend as an alternative to antihistamines?

Dr. Gilbere: I personally always used a homeopathic remedy for allergic reactions, and still carry a very small vial of it as insurance. Any homeopathic remedy should be used under the guidance of a homeopath or natural health professional.

Question: You also recommend colon hydrotherapy to reduce allergic reactions. How does colon hydrotherapy reduce the allergic response?

Dr. Gilbere: By reducing the overall toxic load of the intestines, which translates into reducing the load of the liver—the organ that must be able to neutralize toxins…or else we react.

Question: Inflammation is a term very familiar to our asthmatic and allergic readers, and you have written extensively about this immune system response. One of the most interesting facts I learned from your books is that the nightshades, a group of plants including tobacco, tomatoes, and potatoes, can actually contribute to inflammation and pain because they contain the chemical solanine. This phenomenon has been referred to as "allergic arthritis." But is this really an allergic process? Or does solanine cause inflammation by some other process?

Dr. Gilbere: Solanine in itself has the chemical properties to induce inflammation. Allergic arthritis is spoken about because in many cases, when people eliminate nightshades completely from their diet for 90 days, the arthritis is gone or significantly reduced—meaning it's the body's allergic response to the chemical. In my book Pain & Inflammation Matters, I list in detail the hidden sources of nightshades that can sabotage a seemingly nightshade-free diet.

Question: Individuals who are sensitive to nightshades often crave nightshades in the same way that a smoker craves cigarettes, and you've suggested that nightshade foods are addictive for some people. Both solanine and nicotine are glycoalkaloid toxins, and all members of the nightshade family produce these toxins. In fact, the FBI has warned that terrorists may use nicotine and solanine as "mass poisoning agents." Why is it that some people appear to be addicted to nightshade foods?

Dr. Gilbere: I believe there are two things going on: One is that nightshade foods contain a form of a habit-forming chemical [glycoalkaloid toxins], like tobacco. Second, when we consume an above average amount of carbohydrates like potatoes, we are feeding any existing Candida within the G.I. tract, and the microorganism itself makes us crave it even more so it can continue to thrive.

Question: Too much salt can also contribute to inflammation, and people often crave salt. Why do you think people crave salt?

Dr. Gilbere: Generally, it's because they've become accustomed to it. In addition, if the body is deficient in a healthy ratio of minerals and electrolytes, salt appears to be the body's way of saying "balance me." Most people eating a modern, fast-food diet are mineral-depleted.

Question: Most people think of the tomato as an extremely healthy food. If a person does not appear to be sensitive to nightshades, would you still recommend that they avoid tomatoes? In other words, are tomatoes a long-term health risk to everyone?

Dr. Gilbere: No, they are not. Scientific studies show that nightshades accelerate an inflammatory condition. There is no evidence, to my knowledge, that they can cause an inflammatory condition if you don't already have it.

Question: Do tomatoes offer any unique nutrients, such as lycopene, that cannot be found in other foods?

Dr. Gilbere: No, lycopene is not unique to tomatoes. Lycopene is a type of bioflavonoid that is closely related to beta carotene. In human blood serum, lycopene is the dominant carotenoid, constituting approximately 50 percent of all carotenoids found in serum. Lycopene is what gives tomatoes and other red fruits their color. Other sources include of lycopene include: watermelon, pink grapefruit, apricots, and pink guavas.

Question: In Pain & Inflammation Matters, you explain that high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) indicate inflammation, and high levels of CRP have been linked to heart disease. Is this inflammation the same type of inflammation seen in asthma, for example? Is the same type of inflammation wreaking havoc everywhere in the body?

Dr. Gilbere: Inflammation is inflammation, period.
  • If it occurs in the heart, you can have a heart attack.
  • In the lungs; emphysema, asthma, or other respiratory disorders.
  • In the brain: a migraine headache.
  • In the gut: digestive disorders (irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn's disease, etc.)
  • In your toes: gout.
  • In your wrist: carpal tunnel.
Question: You've found that about half of people with Gluten Intolerance or Celiac Disease can resume eating gluten after being on a restrictive diet and healing their gut. How do people with Celiac Disease begin the process of healing their gut?

Dr. Gilbere: That's a direct question, but it's difficult to give a direct answer because there are so many variables. The first thing I would do is to begin with eliminating all dairy, wheat, corn, food additives/preservatives and food coloring. Then you can begin by taking professional colon-fiber cleanse tablets to “brush” the old colonic plaque from the walls of the intestines so the healing can begin. Beyond that, the protocol would take individual counseling.

Question: You have written: "Pain and inflammation, without an actual injury such as a fracture, strain, or sprain, is our bodies' way of attempting to deal with toxic overload." We live in an increasingly toxic society where most people spend 90% of their time indoors. What are some of the most commonly overlooked, hidden household and workplace contributors to a person's toxic load?

Dr. Gilbere: Food additives and preservatives are number one. Second would be all the chemicals used to either grow the food or give it longer shelf-life. Air quality is such a huge issue and one we must take seriously. Having quality water and air purification systems in our homes is imperative. We must educate ourselves in the invisible dangers of dust mites, mold, chemicals in personal care and cleaning products, building materials and furnishings. Until we address all these issues, we cannot expect to create as environment that will be health-enhancing.

Question: You have written: "Unless you eat 75-90% of your food uncooked, you are lacking sterols." A lack of sterols leads to an overabundance of antibodies, which can lead to autoimmune disorders including allergies, asthma, and rheumatoid arthritis. Could you please tell our readers a little more about how this occurs? Also, in our modern society, how can people consume the level of sterols they need?

Dr. Gilbere: Plant sterols are found mostly in raw vegetables. It's not likely that most of us in our busy lives will eat all raw vegetables—although I would love to, and I feel great when I do. If you cannot, then you need to supplement with plant sterols. They act as immune modulators; they calm an overactive immune system and rev up a slow one. Most of my clients with immune system disorders have benefited greatly from plant sterol supplementation. In addition, they help with all the inflammatory responses so common in autoimmune disorders.

Question: Because of your past experiences, you now use prescription medications only as a last resort, especially antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. What do you use for natural protection?

Dr. Gilbere: I use silver hydrosol as a nasal spray, and I take it orally to protect myself against all pathogens (bacteria, viruses, mold, pesticides, etc.). When I'm confronted with pain or inflammation, I resort to systemic (metabolic) enzyme therapy and herbs. Even though I am now completely pain-free from my fibromyalgia, I have occasionally consumed "hidden" nightshades while eating out during my travels. In that event, I experience pain in my soft and connective tissues and must use natural options to control the pain until it wears out of my system. If available, I always do colon hydrotherapy as soon after exposure as possible to reduce my body's overall toxic load.

Question: Are you currently working on any other books?

Dr. Gilbere: Yes, I'm completing the book Skin & Body Rejuvenation, which deals with everything to not only look better and more vibrant, but also to stay looking that way. As a baby-boomer health journalist and researcher, traditional naturopath, and doctor of natural health, I understand that the road to beauty, health and rejuvenation begins with good intestines, naturally.

Thank you, Dr. Gilbere!

To learn more about Dr. Gilbere or to schedule a worldwide consultation, please visit her website at www.gloriagilbere.com.

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