The Role of Detoxification in Healing: Dr. Lee Cowden, M.D.

W. LEE COWDEN, M.D., University of Texas Medical School, is board certified in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease, and clinical nutrition. Dr. Cowden is currently teaching seminars to help medical practitioners treat their patients with Lyme disease. He is collecting data and information from patients using his protocol with the aim of publishing so that more doctors can learn that there is  a less toxic and more effective treatment for Lyme disease. I spoke with Dr. Cowden in August, 2006.

I'm talking today with Dr. Lee Cowden, and we're very excited to have you as a guest here. We would love to know about your protocol for Lyme disease. Currently, what is the protocol that you are using with patients?

Yes. Thanks for having me on your program, first of all. I would say that since we did the Lyme pilot study back in 2003, we've learned a lot of new important things about Lyme disease that weren't obvious from the study. I guess the most important thing we've learned is that if you don't continue to work on getting the physical toxins out of the body, the few remaining microbes that can survive the aggressive therapy with herbals or pharmaceuticals, or whatever is used, those surviving microbes will usually regrow and form a completely new population of Lyme-related microbes in the body because of the toxins stimulating their regrowth.

So, it's so critically important, in my opinion, to work as hard on getting the toxins out of the body as on working on getting the microbes out of the body.

When you say toxins, could you say what you mean by that?

Yes, I will. The worst culprits usually are the heavy metals, it takes the longest amount of time to get the heavy metals out of the body. The most common source for heavy metals that I see usually is  mercury from the silver mercury amalgam fillings in people's teeth. And usually, if they continue to have the silver mercury amalgams in their teeth then you can't make any good progress on getting the mercury out of the body, because every time you chew you release more mercury back into the body. And mercury does stimulates the growth of Borrelia and several other microbes. And it also blocks the release of other toxins, including other metals and other pesticides and solvents, herbicides and so on.

So, it's so important, in my opinion, to find and find a dentist that's knowledgeable in the proper  technique to get the mercury amalgam fillings out of the teeth, and to go through that process in a very cautious and methodical way. And then once the mercury's out of the teeth, to then gear up the detoxification for mercury, so that the mercury can be removed from the body over time.

That detoxification varies from patient to patient. For children, usually if they have mercury fillings it is not as strong a treatment as the treatment for adults who've had it in their teeth for forty or fifty or sixty years. We'll sometimes use a peptide chlathrating agent for children, it's a clear spray that you spray in the mouth. You do that daily for several months to try to get the mercury out.

Back in 2001, I co-developed a technique to get the toxins out using the principle of complex homeopathy and laser, ecolaser therapy, and that's been a great advent in getting the toxins out of the body, and the doctors I've taught how to do that are very impressed about the results that they can get. Unfortunately, there are so few doctors in the country that are trained in that protocol, that there are more people wanting it than doctors who can deliver it. I'm now in the process of giving seminars to doctors to learn how to do that, so that we can have faster detoxification. We have a seminar coming up in November in Scottsdale, Arizona, to teach doctors that technique.

Anyway, the mercury is one major issue that blocks the ability to clear Borrelia from the body in the first place, and other Lyme-related bugs. And it also makes it easier to get the Lyme-related bugs back.

Mercury is just one part of the challenge. Some people are loaded with other man-made toxins, other metals, for example, aluminum, from underarm deodorants and antiperspirants, and from eating food out of aluminum pots and aluminum dishes, or from even their toothpaste. A lot of the toothpastes in the United States are made from boxite, and boxite is primarily aluminum oxide salt. So you have to be aware of those things, and change to different types of tooth care so you don't continue to load your body up with more and more aluminum. Once you stop putting the aluminum in you can start getting the aluminum out, with chelators and with the laser detox technique and so on.

The pesticides are an issue. A lot of people have switched over to eating organic vegetables and fruits, but they continue to eat conventionally-produced meats, failing to realize that there are five to twenty times as much pesticides in non-organic meats as there are in the non-organic fruits. So they're not spending their money in the right place, they need to change where they spend their money. Buy the organic meats first, then if there's money left over, then buy the organic fruits and vegetables.

I see.

All those are detoxification issues. Don't use pesticides inside your house, there are natural things that can be done to get rid of pests inside your house where you don't have to poison yourself and your family. Just have awareness about things that we put in our body and on our body.

So many patients I see are loaded down with petroleum by-products that are poisoning their system and predisposing them to microbial growth. And a very common source for that is skin care products, chapstick, other types of lip balms, lipsticks have a petrolatum base, petrolatum by-product base. Creams and lotions and stuff like that have a lot of that petroleum stuff in it from some companies.

Some companies don't have that. So you seek out the companies that don't have petroleum base, and you stop loading your body up. Once you get a lot of that toxic load out, then it becomes easy to get rid of the microbes.

What we found on getting rid of the microbes is that if a person has an acute Lyme disease infection, like in the first three to six weeks after exposure, that antibiotics do seem to work fairly well in a lot of patients. But, if they've had the illness for longer than six weeks, the chance of antibiotics getting rid of the infection, in my experience, is pretty unlikely, pretty remote. So, they're basically just guaranteeing that they'll stay on antibiotics for the rest of their life.  

The problem with staying on the standard pharmaceutical antibiotics longterm is that you kill off the friendly bacteria in your gut, and you cause an overgrowth of fungus in your gut, so then you trade one problem for another. Fungal overgrowth can be just as bad a problem as Lyme disease in the first place. A lot of the treatment that we've been using to get rid of the bugs in patients with chronic Lyme disease, don't tend to cause that problem because they kill the funguses as much as they kill the Lyme disease and the Lyme-related bacteria and protozoa and whatnot, without, in many cases, killing the friendly bacteria in the gut. So it's more of a fine-tuned antimicrobial approach.

In the study we did the Samento, quite a bit, and we still use that some. But we've found that there are some other herbal therapies that have been brought from Peru by Nutramedix that work just as well or better than Samento.

Cumanda is an extremely powerful anti-Lyme treatment, as well as an excellent anti-fungal. And also is a pretty good antiviral, and anti-parasitic. So you eliminate a lot of different bugs with one therapy. It's a different philosophy than the philosophy used by conventional medicine, which is one bug, one drug. So if you have six bugs, you have six drugs.

I don't like that approach because it destroys a lot of the friendly microbes in the gut. Then people end up with other problems, the inability to absorb and many allergies because of leaky gut, created by the funguses poking holes in their gut wall.

The other thing we've learned since the study, is that the enzymes that we were using in the study are critically important in breaking up the fibrin that covers over the bugs and hides them from the immune system. The fibrin is a protein produced by the body in response to infectious illnesses. And those bugs can hide very well if the fibrin is coating them over, but if you give a proteolytic enzyme about thirty minutes before food with water only, a couple of times a day, enough of that enzyme gets absorbed and breaks down the fibrin coating on the surface of the bug so that the immune system can find them and get rid of them.  

In addition to that, the fibrin that is being produced gets plastered up against the capillary walls, the blood vessel walls and restricts the movement of oxygen into the tissues. So the tissues become oxygen starved, and start producing lactic acid and go into anaerobic metabolism and create all kinds of other trouble from that. So the proteolytic enzymes have been very helpful to resolve that.

I use now, bromelain, as a proteolytic enzyme, bromelain is derived from pineapple. And also use carnivora, which is derived from Venus Flytrap. These two seem to be fairly well-tolerated and not likely contaminated and not very allergenic. A lot of the other enzymes that are on the market are either contaminated or allergenic. But those two work really well.

I usually rotate those, I'll give even days one of those products, and odd days of the month, the other type of product, so that the person's less likely to develop an allergic reaction.

One other important thing we discovered about antimicrobials, besides Cumanda we have Banderol, which is a very powerful herbal antimicrobial from Peru also through Nutramedix company, and  Quina, which has been used in Peru for many centuries for treatment for malaria, but is also an excellent anti-Lyme treatment as well as a pretty good anti-fungal and anti-parisitic.

We've found that if you rotate remedies, that you're less likely for the microbes to develop a sensitivity or resistance to the treatment, and less likely for the patient to develop an allergy or sensitivity to it.

So what we're doing now is we're giving one of those remedies for twelve and a half days and then we stay off for a day and half, and then go back on a second one for another twelve and half days, and then come off. And we might even go onto a third one, for another twelve and half days, and we just keep that rotation going. The bug can never really figure out what's hitting them because you're changing so often.

The day and a half off during a two week period is just as important as the twelve and half days on because during the day and a half off, the microbes think that the coast is clear, so they start transforming from the granule forms, 4-form, L-form, cyst-form, or other hiding forms and come back into the spirochetal form and start trying to invade cells. When they do that, that's when you hit them again with another round of a different antimicrobial, so you knock out a whole bunch of additional microbes that previously were hiding.

Very nice.

So pretty soon there's no more hiding forms left. They've all been hatched, if you will, and killed off in the adult form.

How long does that type of treatment go on for?

It varies from patient to patient. We've had a few patients who were treated four as little as four or five months, and then came off those antimicrobials and never had a relapse. But during that time we were aggressively detoxifying them and giving them the enzymes, giving them plenty of detox support with Burbur. Burbur's been a great advent since the study because during the study we were using five different substances to try to assist the detoxification of the carcasses of the dying microbes in the patients. But the Burbur was able to replace all five of those.

So this is in an effort to keep the detox from creating such an uncomfortable situation?

Yes, it's to avoid the Herxheimer reaction. What we do on the Burbur in the beginning when they're first starting out at a low dose on the antimicrobial and building up, if they start feeling a Herxheimer reaction they change from taking three or four doses of Burbur a day to taking it every ten or fifteen minutes until the symptoms resolve. After the symptoms have been resolved they go back to taking it three times a day.

In most cases, with advanced, chronic neuroborreliosis, where it's gone into the brain, especially, we start with just one drop of whichever one of those herbal antimicrobials that I mentioned, Cumanda, Banderol, Quina and Samento, and then every day or two, add another drop. So it takes maybe a month or so to build up to full dose, depending on how fast you can tolerate building up. Then once you get up to a full dose, then you start doing that cycling process that I mentioned a while ago: twelve and a half days on, one and half day off, twelve and half days on a second product, twelve and half days off, and so on.

I see. So you're talking about alternating between all four of those.

What I do practically, in patients, when the patient is able to be tested energetically, we can actually test to see which ones are going to be effective against the microbes that they have, using energetic testing. Either electrodermal screening or some type of kinesiology, will predict fairly reliably, over ninety-five percent predictive accuracy, which herbal antimicrobials are going to work best for that patient, so you don't have to guess. You do exactly the one that that patient tests best for, or the two or three or four, and you rotate them, depending on what the energetic testing suggests. That's how we've been able to get the best results.

I'm really impressed and excited to hear about this protocol. But I'm wondering how people who don't have you as their doctor go about getting help. Are there other doctors who have been trained this way, or is this a unique system that you have?

Yes, we have doctors who have come to our seminars, there's not a lot of them yet, unfortunately. But hopefully, if the people who are listening to your program can tell their doctor that there is another possibility, another way that works, then maybe some of their doctors will come to our seminars and learn these ways so that there will be more and more doctors scattered through the country, that can help their patients.

That's what we really want, is to try and get as many doctors as possible familiar with these protocols. They're working well, they're non-toxic, they're not giving the adverse reactions like a lot of people see, with the fungal overgrowth from standard antibiotics. And the patients are getting well and staying well even though the basic protocol is stopped at some point. You don't see that with standard antibiotics. With standard antibiotics, unless you start treating the infection during the first three to six weeks, the patients tend to have to get repeated rounds of antibiotics longterm, for years and years and years.

Yes, I've noticed that. What would you say to the patient who has been tested positive for Lyme, and has been told that their problem was all in their head. I know you've probably come across patients who've been told that by other doctors.

Unfortunately, a lot. But just because a doctor doesn't have the knowledge to understand what causes the condition doesn't make it a psychiatric illness, doesn't make it an idiopathic illness. Idiopathic is the Latin word that means “cause unknown.”  One of my patients was told that he had an idiopathic illness. And the patient responded to that physician, “Well, doctor, does that mean that you're an idiot?” The doctor didn't like that, but unfortunately there's some truth to it.

Most illnesses have a cause, unfortunately a lot of times conditional medicine doesn't know the cause yet, but energetic medicine does often time get at some of the causes that underlie a disease, so that you start working those causes so that the label, the condition that the patient is labeled with, goes away. And that's what I think more doctors should be moving toward, is don't spend so much time time trying to give the patient a label, just try to figure out what the underlying causes of that condition are so that you can start resolving the causes systematically so that finally the condition goes away.

I was wondering about people who may suspect they have toxins, either from mercury fillings, or use of aluminum pans, or whatever it is, what should they do if they suspect that they have a toxic overload and that it's exacerbating the problem or making the Lyme worse. How do they get tested for that? Are there home tests available? Or should they go to a doctor for those?

Sadly, a lot of the mercury that comes out of the teeth goes into the brain and is tightly bound there, and if they do the wrong kind of test to look for the mercury, it won't show up in their body. It won't show up in their bloodstream, for sure. It might show up in their hair, if they've done a detoxification for a time, trying to get the mercury out of their body, sometimes it will get mobilized from the brain and end up going out in their scalp hair, and a hair analysis for heavy metals will show it up. But if they haven't been doing a detoxification for heavy metals it won't show likely show up in the hair analysis either.

Sometimes the only way that you can find the mercury in the body, is to do what's called a challenge test. But if the person still has mercury amalgams in their teeth, the challenge test has some risks, because you also start mobilizing some of the mercury off the fillings that are still in the mouth, into the bloodstream, and some of that ends up going into the brain, in the wrong the direction. So, it can become a challenge to try to prove that that's a problem.

In the
Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide that I contributed to back in 1993, and also the update that came out in 2002, the Alternative Medicine Guide had a section on dentistry and the effects on health. And there was a chart in there of 1500+ patients whose mercury amalgams were removed, and the results of that were reported to the FDA. They found that well over eighty percent of the patients  had a significant improvement in a variety of symptoms, just by having the mercury amalgams out. A lot of those had had the tests done, to look for mercury in their body before they had the mercury out of their teeth, and the tests were negative, but they persisted anyway and got a dentist to take the mercury out of their teeth.

In a lot of states if a dentist tells the patient that they're toxic from the mercury amalgam in their teeth, the dentist can lose their license. So, in some states you have to take the mercury out for cosmetic reasons, because you don't like the look of that nasty black gray stuff in your mouth. And that's okay as long as you get the stuff out in the right way. I usually have my patients take chlorella, which is a cracked algae, before the dental procedure, and during, and after the dental procedure to try and keep the mercury from moving from in the mouth from where it's being drilled out into the bloodstream and into the brain. And that works pretty well.

Chlorella in large doses?

Well, yes, you if you've had mercury amalgam in your teeth for a long time you start by taking just one capsule per day and you build up, adding another one every day as long as you're tolerating it well, and until you get up to about 1,500 – 2,000 mgs of chlorella per day, and you keep doing that during the dental amalgam extraction process, and for several months thereafter.

A lot of dentists are not familiar with the proper techniques to get the mercury amalgam out, so they will take a large burr or a large drill bit, if you will, and kind of pulverize the whole mercury amalgam filling in the tooth and convert it into liquid and gas, and that's the wrong way to do it because then the  maximum amount of loading of the mercury into the body occurs. But if you use a very fine burr, and make a tiny crease in the amalgam, and then put an instrument in there and pop those chunks out one at a time, and dispose of them into a bio-hazard container where they belong in the first place, then you don't have the problem as much with it getting worse, with the amalgam removal.

Mercury amalgams are about 55% mercury, and the government makes dentists handle them like nuclear reactor material before it goes into the mouth, and when it comes out of the mouth they have to handle it in the same way, in a bio-hazardous container. But the American Dental Association still tells the dentists and the patients that it's safe when it's inside your head. And I think that's oxymoronic. It doesn't even make sense.

That means that our heads are considered bio-hazard containers.

There's a device called a mercury vapor analyzer, that device that can be stuck in your mouth after you chew a piece of gum, and it can show you how much mercury is coming off your gum every time you chew. But a lot of people who use that vapor device find that the mercury content in their mouth exceeds the Environmental Protection Agency's recommendation for safe air.

What percentage of Lyme patients, if you just want to take a guess, have this mercury amalgam filling problem?

There are a lot of patients who have mercury in their body, who don't have any mercury in their teeth. I see patients, even adults, who have a massive amount of mercury, and I ask them, well do you eat fish? Which is another source of possible mercury.
No, I don't eat fish. Did you ever play with mercury with your hands? No. Did you ever live close to a smelter? No. Did you ever live close to a place where they burned coal for fuel? No.

And so, when we trace it back we find is that a lot of those patients, that the mother had so much mercury amalgam in her teeth, that while she was pregnant with that patient of mine, the mercury moved from her teeth, into the bloodstream and into the patient while they were in the womb, and so they The mother had so much mercury in her teeth, that born with a load of mercury, because they can't find any other source of mercury from their history or from their environment. So it doesn't have to be in your own teeth, it can be in your mom's teeth.

And it just doesn't go away.

No, mercury is bound by the tissues and it doesn't leave easily. So, it's so important to start taking things like the chlorella, that bind the mercury and if you have mercury in your teeth, if you have it in their teeth. Because I don't see patients who are leaving the mercury in their teeth getting well from Lyme disease. They continue to have to take treatment on an ongoing basis. But those who have made the decision to get the mercury and the other toxins out of the body, are getting to the point where they can stop treatment and  getting well. And that's the goal, is to not have to take treatment for the rest of your life.

I'll say.

There's one more thing that helps to get the mercury out of the body after you get the mercury out of the teeth. That's a plant called algas. Algas helps to energetically shake mercury from the cells. Patients who have had chelation therapies, when they start taking algas, the mercury starts coming out, more than before they started taking it.

What is it?

It's an algae taken from off the coast of Peru that's been extracted in a certain way and energetically imprinted with energies to help mobilize mercury and other heavy metals. So that's particularly helpful product. And a lot of patients I see with Lyme disease have brain fog, and there's a great product for help for that, that's called Pinella. It's another Peruvian herb that's been used for a long time, for detoxification of the brain.

Is that also available through Nutramedix?

Yes, they have the Algas and the Pinella as well. You know, that's been one of the main focuses for the Nutramedix company over the last two or three years, trying to come up with solutions for Lyme sufferers. It's an epidemic in this country, well over half the population are infected, and maybe a quarter of them are having symptoms from it. It's a big problem.

You could probably talk about this for a long time, but what do you think about the way Lyme is spread? Since you just said that half the population of the country has been infected. How do you think we're getting it?

Only a very small percentage of those have contracted Lyme disease through a tick bite, the way conventional medicine thinks.  I think the most common way of spreading it is through sexual intercourse. But I think it's also spread, and is proven in peer review medical literature, to be spread by mosquito bites. It's likely spread by drinking unpasteurized milk from mother's breast, or from the cows or goats, and it's probably contracted by consuming poorly cooked meats, as well. Vertical transmission from the mother to the fetus through the placenta has also been documented, as well.

I want to thank you for sharing your knowledge and information with us today, this has been really fabulous. I hope that many more doctors come and study with you so that people start to get well.

Yes, I hope so too. We're very interested in trying to do what we call multi-center clinical trials.  Basically, just treating patients the right way, evidence-based medicine and treatment-based medicine, and collecting information from the patients as they're going through the process, and pooling that data, if you will, so articles can be written, and so that more and more doctors can see that there is another way, and learn that way. That's why I'm so interested in teaching whichever doctors who want to come to our conferences.

By the way, I should tell any of your listeners that want the contact information for our conferences. The ways that you can learn about the conference, is through that stands for the Academy of Bio-Energetic and Integrated Medicine. And they can also contact my assistant, Susan, at (480) 361-8320. Or they can send her a fax at (480) 361- 8725. Or they can send her an email: [email protected]

Hopefully some of the patients will be able to convince their health practitioners to check into this and learn that there are other ways to help their patients.

Lyme disease causes so many symptoms, and it's probably a root cause for a lot of diseases that are considered incurable by conventional medicine, like autoimmune diseases, and neuro-degenerative diseases, and cardiovascular diseases, cardiac-arrhythmias, gastrointestinal diseases, MS, ALS, Parkinson's, ADDHD, autism. Most of them have some kind of Lyme component. And so I've found that if you can start working on the Lyme and the toxins, then a lot of these labels go away.

I feel better already, just knowing there is hope. That there is some kind of real, empirically proven, or being proved, anyway, herbs, materials and medicines that we can take, not just the typical antibiotics.

I just recently saw one of my patients that was in the Lyme study, starting in January of 2003.  Before she came into the study, she was eighteen years old, she'd been housebound since three years of age, she could not dress herself, she had to walk with a walker, she was having frequent anaphylactic allergy reactions, which all endangered her health. A lot of challenges with Lyme disease.

Anyway, during the course of the study she got to a point where she could actually go out of the house on dates with a boyfriend. She just recently married, she went off to college by herself in less than four years, and worked twenty-five hours a week to put herself through college. So this just shows you that you don't have to stay sick just because you've been sick.

Good for her! I'm so glad to hear that. What a great model, and a great image to end our conversation with. Very hopeful. Thank you so much, I hope we can speak with you again. We'll keep up with you and keep up with your studies.

I'd be glad to speak with you again. I hope that everyone who is listening and has Lyme disease can take hope from this, and not be discouraged, and just keep seeking answers and move forward.

I really appreciate speaking with you today. Many blessings to you!

And to you.