My guest this week is Stephanie Belseth, a board-certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with over 25 years of experience in inpatient and outpatient primary care, pulmonology, asthma, early childhood screening, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Stephanie has a special interest in holistic wellness care, Gastrointestinal disorders, Autism, ADHD, Asthma, mental health disorders, PANS/PANDAS, Autoimmune disease, Pediatric Lyme and conditions that mimic it, and other complex chronic pediatric conditions.
In this episode, Stephanie and I discuss the various infections that we see in children who are struggling with neurodevelopmental issues. We also highlight some of the environmental dangers (right in your own home) like EMF radiation and mold, that could be exacerbating these issues. Finally, Stephanie walks us through some examples of treatment protocols for these issues that are very encouraging for parents and children. To learn more about Stephanie Belseth click here.
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Infectious issues related to neurodevelopmental challenges
- Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, Bartonella, Babesia
- Problems with mycoplasma, strep, viruses
- Many different kinds of conditions underlying parasitic or fungal overgrowth, bacterial dysbiosis in the gut and the microbiome
PANDAS and co-infections
- Often times kids that come in diagnosed with PANDAS, actually have many other infections
- Kids have leaky blood-brain barriers
- Their blood-brain barriers are more permeable than they should be, either due to concussions, due to infection, microbiome problems, the gut-brain connection
- If the gut has increased permeability then the brain will have increased permeability
Treatments that can help
- Often times kids aren’t sleeping well, so improving sleep is a good place to start with treatment
- Melatonin, valerian root, and lemon balm can sometimes help
- Herbs, vitamins, CBD for lowering brain and gut inflammation
- Deep breathing skills, hopping skills, QNRT or Brainspotting or other kinds of techniques, EMDR
- Introducing more healthy fats into the diet and eating mostly anti-inflammatory foods can help
Environmental dangers for kids
- EMF (electromagnetic fields) radiation from wifi and wifi enabled devices
- Too much screen time
- Overexposure to screens and devices can cause hyperactivity, irritability, and other neurological issues in kids
- There are physiological effects of EMF radiation, especially in kids that are extra sensitive, therefore, screen time and proximity to wifi should be limited
- Mold can be a significant stressor on the immune system
- One out of two homes has some type of mold
- Test your home environment if you feel like you have tried everything for your child and they are still struggling to improve their neurological symptoms
Where can people learn more?
Types of Infectious Issues In Kids 00:06:27
PANDAS and Other Infections 00:10:00
Blood-Brain Barrier 00:13:12
Environmental Dangers for Kids Health 00:23:30
Physiological Effects of EMF on Children 00:30:00
Mold Exposure 00:33:36
Episode Wrap-Up… 00:37:50
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Hi everyone, welcome to the show. I am Dr. Nicole and on today’s show, we’re going to talk about the process of healing children and even ourselves from challenging neurodevelopmental and infectious issues. We’ve covered the topic of PANDAS and PANS on the show previously, but there are so many infection-related issues that kids are struggling with now. Things like Lyme, Epstein-Barr virus, many others that can cause significant physical and neurological problems in children. The medical focus for these kids, if parents are even able to get an accurate diagnosis, tends to be more on prescription medications to fight the infection, but the reality is that much more is needed to truly get to the root of addressing these issues. I have found that even diet and supplements are not the total solution for these things, we need to look widely at all aspects of our lives and the environment to support healing and I’ve inited Stephanie Belseth on the show today to talk with us about what comprehensive healing from these conditions really means, and she provides some practical strategies you can start using. Let me tell you a little bit about her.
Stephanie is a board-certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner with over 25 years experience in inpatient and outpatient primary care, pulmonology, asthma, early childhood screening, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Stephanie has a special interest in preventing health and developmental issues in children through preconception testing, counseling and interventions with parents before becoming pregnant, optimal pregnancy nutrition and care, and early intervention for infants, toddlers and young children with neurodevelopmental disorders. She focuses on balancing the microbiome and treating underlying medical conditions and imbalances in children in order to help them reverse symptoms and function optimally at the highest level possible. She uses principles of nutrition, holistic/integrative medicine, functional medicine, biomedical medicine, mind-body-spirit medicine and nutri-genomics in her work, and is a great coach in helping children and families with lifestyle changes that support optimal health and healing. I first heard Stephanie speak at a conference earlier this year and was really impressed with her practical and thoughtful approach to working with children and families, so I’m really thrilled to have her here with us today. Welcome to the show, Stephanie.
Thanks so much, such a pleasure to be here.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
So, I like to start the show off by asking just for a little bit of the history of how you came to be doing the work that you’re doing today. I find most of us have interesting career or life paths that have taken us to this point, so tell us a little bit about how you got into this type of work.
Well, I’ve not always been interested in more integrative and holistic approaches to health, so I was very into exercise and nutrition and yoga and things like that all along during my career, but I had kids and they had some health and developmental challenges, and the typical approaches were helping on some level, but not really what I wanted or felt like was optimal, so I was pointed in the direction of functional medicine and integrative approaches, biomedical approaches and when I started applying some of those principles and working on gut healing and nutrition and just kind of looking at everyone in the family as a whole person and whole system and addressing it holistically, things just improved dramatically, to a point where their physicians and other therapists and practitioners were like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe how well things are going, what are you doing?” And I was like, well, we’re looking at the root cause of things not using band aid treatments, that really makes a huge difference. So that really sold me on using a more integrative functional approach, and from there, I really started delving into getting that training and getting a lot of certifications and delving into this and at that point, it was working so much better for chronic illnesses, natural health and physical issues that I decided to focus my career on it. We’re just celebrating our 10th anniversary of founding Newbridge Health and Wellness and it’s been really fun. I love my job and I love what I do.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
So awesome, and I find so many of us, it was something that came up in our own family with our own children that led us to delving into other sort of non-mainstream approaches to things and then our career sort of goes along that way, it’s like, “Oh wow, now that I know all of these things, I can’t not bring this into my work,” right?
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
And I love that you have a clinic too, we have one here in Michigan, you’ve got a great one going in Minnesota, right?
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
And it’s so great that you not only have this passion for bringing these things into the work you’re doing but are also bringing together a team of people and a community and a place where parents can go to get these types of things, because as we’re going to talk about as we dive into this, the stress level for families with children who have challenges is huge, and even just being able to find practitioners who not only sort of know what needs to be done but are able to help the family with implementing those things, I mean it’s a real challenge, so I really appreciate that you’ve created this place where families can go and get that support.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
So I know that you see a wide variety of children and families in your practice. Some of them have really complicated infectious issues, PANDAS, PANS, those kinds of things, but you’ve got this really practical approach that you use. Talk a little bit about the kinds of infectious issues. I think we’re seeing a lot more of them now, I am curious to see what your experience with that is, but just to kind of set the stage for our listeners, what are the types of infectious issues that you’re seeing more in kids these days?
I think there are a lot of complex, kind of chronic illnesses that are under-recognized, and many times I see kids coming in that have a persistently low white count, for example, and they may have low total immunoglobulins, and they’re not really able to fight off some of these infections fully. So this is a very under-diagnosed situation that I see in kids, and many times if we just treat these underlying low-level infections, kids can get much better. So we certainly see Lyme disease and Borrelia burgdorferi, Bartonella, Babesia, we see problems with mycoplasma, strep, viruses, many different kinds of conditions underlying parasitic or fungal overgrowth, bacterial dysbiosis in the gut and the microbiome and it’s amazing how much treating these and helping the immune system to balance that TH1/TH2 response can do for helping their physical or mental health. So that’s always something that we look at when we’re addressing patients and assessing them for what’s going to help them get better.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
I’m guessing that most parents don’t come in to you with their kids going, “I think there is an infectious issue here!” Most of them are probably like, “My child is really struggling in school” or “We’re having these extreme behaviors” or “My kiddo seems to do okay for a little bit, and then suddenly, we’re not doing okay,” right? Those are the kinds of symptoms, those are the ways these things present, right?
Absolutely. And they’re actually surprised that that could be an issue and then when we treat some of those issues and then their child evens out and they quit having their rage episodes and they start liking going to school and they’re feeling happy again and less anxious, then they become believers that, yeah, that really was…
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Well I think that’s a big part of this issue, just the lack of awareness both in patients as well as in the practitioner community around how prevalent these infectious issues are and how much they’re connected to this stuff. So that’s why I love talking about these topics on this show because it just raises people’s awareness like, “Wow, we’ve done a lot of things but my kiddo’s still really struggling. We haven’t looked at any of these infectious issues, maybe that’s something we should check out because I find even when people have been to lots of practitioners, often these are things that haven’t been even put on the table as something that needs to get looked at.
Yeah, absolutely. And many times, as well, there are different opinions about this in the psychiatric world or in primary care and I think in allopathic medicine, it’s just not been something that’s been stressed, but I think that more attention is being held on that right now in terms of Columbia University had a conference last year, Post-Infectious Autoimmune Diseases of the Brain, there’s another conference coming up real soon on the same topic, recognizing that infections can trigger mental illness and inflammation in the brain and that we need to start looking at some of those issues because they’re very prevalent and they’re increasing quite a bit, from my perspective.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
And it’s not just PANDAS. I think PANDAS, that neuropsychiatric response to strep, that’s gotten more media coverage and become more prevalent, and at least in our area, we’ve got more people in the medical community now that are aware of that, but the thinking is still that we test for strep and if it’s not that, then there’s not an infectious issue, and what you’re talking about here is that, wait, it goes way beyond just strep.
Yeah. So in fact, I find that those kids that come in and perhaps have been diagnosed with PANDAS elsewhere, actually have many other infections, so I think it’s very rare that a PANDAS child only has strep. They usually also have mycoplasma or Coxsackievirus or herpes viruses or . There are usually other things going on as well and impacting their mental health and physical.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Absolutely. Do you feel that that’s because once you are kind of predisposed to having one of these things and the immune dysfunction that leads to that, it just opens the door, you just are much more vulnerable to having a variety of these kinds of things, is that kind of the thought process behind that?
I think that it involves a couple of different things, I think many of these kids have immunodeficiencies, they maybe IGA deficient or IGG deficient and their immune systems don’t modulate, don’t work quite as well to match an antibody response that fights some of these infections, and that’s a subset of kids. And I think all the kids have leaky blood-brain barriers, so their blood-brain barriers are more permeable than they should be, either due to concussions, due to — infection can trigger it, microbiome problems, the gut-brain connection, if the gut has increased permeability then the brain will have increased permeability. And then also, I think a piece that is vastly under-recognized is the impact of radio frequency radiation, electromagnetic fields on the blood-brain barrier. There is a lot of research that supports the concept that the blood-brain barrier becomes leakier with EMF exposure. And in the period of time that PANDAS has risen as a diagnosis, and we’ve been seeing more mental illness triggered by infection, for those of us that work in the field and recognize it, it’s the same period of time that cell phones came on the market and iPads and bluetooth and WiFi and just stronger and stronger fields going from 2G to 3G to 4G to now 5G, that’s increasing people’s exposure, and there have not been great studies on human health for that, and so I think that the opening blood-brain barrier is a huge component because if you have these infections, the immune system creates antibodies to help the body fight these infections and if those antibodies stay in your body and are targeted after the infections but they don’t cross the blood-brain barrier because that intact blood-barrier stops that, you’re going to be able to handle that much better than if those antibodies are crossing and you are skewed towards autoimmunity and then those antibodies start attacking basal ganglia or the dopamine receptors or others, you’re going to have more problems.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Such a helpful way for just laying out how it is that these infectious issues impact the brain and behavior because really, that blood-brain barrier, that is the main defense that the brain has to keeping those invaders in the body and out of the brain, and in ideal cases, we’re supposed to have a very intact blood-brain barrier so that things can not cross over into the brain and impact that, and what you’re saying is there are all these things now in the modern world that are creating these leaky spots or these gaps in the blood-brain barrier that allow this infectious stuff to get into the brain.
And toxins as well, I think the blood-brain barrier is supposed to be also screening out toxin exposure and we have an increasing toxin exposure with all the chemicals and other toxins: pesticides, herbicides, metals that have been around for a long time, but when that crosses the blood-brain barrier, we also see more problems, so often times, there is a compounded effect of infections, antibodies and toxins on the brain.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
That’s really helpful, I think to just help people picture how it is that these infections impact that and that really leads us into the discussion then, of what needs to happen treatment-wise for this, because as you’re laying out, there are a lot of components that play into the issues then that can happen for kids on a neurological level with these infections, and so there’s not just one thing that needs to be done to treat that, we really need to take this comprehensive look at all of these issues. So let’s dive into that, I’d love to have you talk about the main categories of things that you use treatment-wise, the kinds of steps that you think are important when dealing with those kinds of infectious issues for kids.
So, I’ve developed a path for healing for a lot of our complex chronic illnesses in pediatrics and interestingly, even though some of the conditions that I treat are quite different, they all kind of boil down to some of these basic principles, so this is kind of a universal path but there are specific sub interventions that we do for different diagnoses and different conditions and different people, because we treat bio individualized medicine, and we want to make sure we’re personalizing it to the patient, which is the beauty of functional and personalized medicine. But really, it has to start with looking at — immediately what I find is we have someone coming in in crisis, there’s a lot of mental health, someone’s suicidal, somebody’s punching holes through the wall, anxious, they can’t go to school, conditions like that, when you’re dealing with that kind of situation, you have to really figure out how to calm the brain and calm the body and also make sure the child’s sleeping. So a lot of times that the child isn’t sleeping well, that’s just the map for everything being problematic. So those are the things that I assess first when a patient comes in, so if they’re not sleeping well, I’m going to want to help them with that and give them both, kind of environmental ways to work on that as well as perhaps some melatonin or valerian root or something like that, lemon balm, things that are natural, calming, are studied to be safe and helpful so they can, as a bandaid, use some of those things that then once we treat the underlying issues, they won’t need any of those bandaids anymore to be able to sleep well.
And then calming, a lot of times, the kids do need a little bit of something to help them right now because it takes a little while to heal the microbiome and to treat the infections and help them figure out if toxins are an issue and treat those things. Parents are usually needing relief and so are the kids. So, I think a lot of times the kids have self-esteem issues they think they’re bad because they can’t control their emotions or other issues and the parents are frustrated because it’s really hard parenting, it’s our and have all of these different responses to things that just seem so hard to understand for parents and parents sometimes think that they’re just doing it to get attention and what have you, so it really is helpful to bring some calm in quickly, so I oftentimes will be prescribing herbs, vitamins, CBD is one of my favorites for bringing down brain inflammation and bringing down gut inflammation and helping modulate kids behavior and response and things like that, so whatever it is for the patient, we assess what is going to be helpful for them to help them be happier, calmer and less irritable. So we get those things in place next, and with that in place, you kind of at least are able to work with the other stops because you’re not in crisis mode.
Sometimes that also involves teaching them some deep breathing skills, some hopping skills, some maybe QNRT or Brainspotting or other kind of techniques, EMDR, different things like that — certainly counseling, talk therapy, play therapy, therapy, whatever it is to kind of help them get into a little bit of a better place and be able to self-regulate — HeartMath, Heart Rate Variability, these are all kinds of things to help people with that. Alpha-Stem is another thing that can be helpful for folks. And then from there, we’re really wanting to figure out what’s going on, so we usually do a lot of blood-testing, if people are amenable to that, we use a numbing cream so it doesn’t hurt the kid, we don’t want to give them more, they’re already pretty traumatized, but if no one has looked at antibodies to certain infection, we like to look at that and there are issues with anemia that can impact attention and focus.
Many things like that we’re going to be looking at, and then looking at even cholesterol, if you have low cholesterol, you aren’t going to have the ability to support your brain functions. The brain is made up of mostly fat, and you really need those healthy fats to help you make hormones and help you balance out your neurologic functioning and myelinate your nerves and things like that. So in mental health, we’re actually worried more about low cholesterol. We hear about high cholesterol but low cholesterol is really more of a problem.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Yeah, and I feel like it’s important to dispel it because a lot of parents are like, “Oh no, we need to be worried about the high of it.” Actually, especially when it comes to kids with these issues, low is a bigger issue. What I love about how you start out here, and this probably comes in part from just you working with kids and families for so long, but also being a parent yourself, yet this idea that we need to support people and help people feel better and taken care of right out of the gate, because I find that even families who come in who have been to functional medicine practitioners or things like that, they come away from those appointments with this huge packet of things, or this huge list of interventions, and if we don’t take the time to stabilize the situation and help them just start feeling better initially, they can not carry out all of that stuff, it’s completely overwhelming and in some ways can be even more traumatizing, right? “So you just gave me 14 things I’m supposed to do but my kid is still punching holes in the wall and not sleeping at night, and therefore I am not sleeping.” We just completely overwhelm people who are already overwhelmed.
Right. And in fact we just have really been pushing out more health coaching for that very reason because we touch base with patients after their first appointment to make sure that they’re doing okay and we were giving higher numbers of people that were really feeling overwhelmed, even though we tried to kind of simplify it and that sort of thing but they’re just dealing with so much and so we’ve instituted health coaches that can really help them with those initial steps because when you’re in the thick of it, you really need someone to hold your hand and to help support you and encourage you to be able to get to a better place because sometimes even going to the store to buy that melatonin or whatever it is, is a lot for people when they’re just feeling so overwhelmed. So that is huge, I agree with you, it can make it worse if people are given this huge, complicated treatment plan and they just feel more overwhelmed and then they can’t even do anything.
So once things are more stable with that, and I think self-care for parents is also really important, so we really want parents to be able to focus on that, but then in reality, what I find is that parents aren’t willing to do that until their kids are better. So once the kids are doing better, then I find that parents are a little bit more able to do some self-care. But I heard a quote somewhere that talked about parents not being — never can be as happy as their most unhappy child. I think that’s really true because parents are so tuned in to their kids that if one of their kids or more than one is not doing well, they’re not going to be doing well either. So we focus on that and then after we’ve gotten things to [inaudible 0:21:26.3] and we figure out what we’re dealing with, we have other ways of assessing people too that doesn’t involve blood work, so it kind of depends on the patient, their insurance coverage, their preferences on how to do that, we’re always going to do a really complex history and a timeline and looking kind of at the issues that maybe that may have been overlooked, being medical detectives and kind of trying to figure out what are some of the pieces along the way that may have contributed to this child having problems and exploring those things.
And then when we boil it down to what are kind of the main issues — and it may not just be infections, sometimes mold is an issue, sometimes electromagnetic radiation is the main issue for that child, there are many things that can trigger some of these situations. So then we’re going to start prioritizing and focusing on all of that environmentally. So I have a lot of environmental medicine training and that comes in really valuable as an ability for identifying some of these things and knowing how to treat some of that. So I think looking at that is important. Usually the microbiome is one of the first places to start, which is really the garden of good bacteria in the gut, and I’m sure you focus on that with your families too, this is such an important piece that if you were not having a wealth of good bacteria in your gut and a wide variety of this bacteria, you’re not going to be able to to do all the niche jobs, your body won’t be able to do the niche jobs that it needs to do, including making neurotransmitters, including supporting the immune system, including making vitamins and antioxidants and nutrients that these good bacteria make if they’re healthy [inaudible 0:23:00.0]
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Talk a little bit about some of the environmental pieces, because I think that that is a really overlooked pieces. As I mentioned at the start of the show, people think about — well there’s an infectious issue, let’s get the antibiotic or the medication or even the supplement or whatever, but you’re talking about some things that parents have the capacity to change even about the physical environment, things like EMFs, that kind of thing that can make a big difference. What are some of the things that you find in practice are really impactful? Because I find a lot of times when talking with parents about this, that they sort of underplay or undervalue the impact that those things can have. Before the show started, you and I were talking about how we both have policies in our clinics of low EMF, not bringing in the devices, that kind of thing, and I think people really under-recognize the power of those things, so I’d love to have you talk some about that.
Yeah, I think some of my toughest cases have been some of my biggest teachers in that we have worked with certain families that they’ve really done everything we wanted them to do on some level, but in one case that’s really coming to mind right now, they didn’t restrict the child’s screen use, and the child was on the screen all the time and the parents felt like that was the one thing that calmed him down, so they would let him do it, and basically, when we were able to convince the family to make some changes and help them with strategies on how to do that, because it’s really hard. In our day and age, kids spend a lot of time on devices and they want to be like their friends and they want to be able to play those video games online with their buddies and that sort of thing, but we know from the literature, it’s very clear that that screen usage is damaging from a couple of different levels. And so in this particular case, the child was spending six or seven hours a day and that interactive video games and things like that have been proven to be more harmful than the passive, so for him, not only was he getting the radiation from the device and the WiFi that he was using to use this media, but getting the neurotransmitter changes and the changes that happen to dopamine and no norepinephrine and epinephrine and serotonin, etc. that happen when we’re doing these interactive, high-adrenaline kind of games. So we were able to convince the family to do a reset, and this particular kid was going to camp, so it was the perfect time to start it, so he was going at the and there was no WiFi and they couldn’t bring their phones, so that was the perfect opportunity, the first week it was enforced anyway, and then when he came home, they decided that they just were going to have the WiFi off, not have the devices available and they were going to do the four-week preset, which Victoria D. has made famous.
We have a psychiatrist working in this area, and basically didn’t do any screens except for 5 hours of slow TV every week where they can watch the nature channel or other slow kind of TV but no interactive kinds of things and no computer time. This particular kid did amazing with that. He became happier, he started interacting with his family, he wasn’t in his room all the time. First it was hard because he kept asking for the screens, but I find in my practice that that first week is the most critical, if you can be consistent, everyone can be consistent, they know that the rules are there, they’re not going to get it back, really helps. I think also the relationship of the parents with the child makes a big difference, if they can be nurturing, try to spend more time with the child and make it more like we’re all going to do this, we’re all going to be restricting our screen time because parents are as addicted as their kids or more sometimes. So basically, in this case, that was what was needed because this kiddo became a totally different person, was able to get off his medications by just making this change, and he was very electrically hypersensitive and they didn’t realize it.
They actually found when he would go to school that he had reactions in the computer lab that he never recognized before because he was so high-strung all the time that he just didn’t even know the difference, but once he had been away from more of it, he was able to recognize that it really did make him more unregulated after he was in the computer lab and there were 30 laptops and zinging back and forth between WiFi, that just intensified it, he could tell that he felt worse and more angry and more irritable, and so we were able then to work out with his family that we would just gradually increase the amount of screen time every week, once we’ve kind of got to a good place, and figure out how much he could handle and that’s all he was going to do, and it was really hard, I think, but it came to a place where they’d figured out how much he could handle without going overboard and we created a plan to create a safe sleep sanctuary, and I think that’s a really important point, because if people can make sure that there are no electromagnetic fields or radio frequency, radiation exposure in the bedroom, at night, when someone is sleeping 10 hours a night or spending 8-12 hours in their bedroom, that reduces the total load, and then they can handle a little bit more in other places, but for this kid, we had treated the infections and that wasn’t what he needed to do at that point anymore. He had worked on some heavy metal detox and all of these other things but it was the EMF exposure that was really preventing him from being [inaudible 0:28:44.3]. So we always look at that and it’s probably diet changes and EMF reduction are probably the two hardest things for families, I find.
Just because we eat everyday, it’s social, we want to eat what our friends and family are eating, and especially for kids and teenagers, I think it’s really hard to make some of those changes. But what I do find makes a difference is once they start feeling better and then they realize — maybe they eat a food that they removed from their diet that was causing a lot of inflammation and then they try it again later and they see how horrible they feel after they were finally feeling well, that can seriously reinforce it for them and make them more willing to stick with that healthier, whole foods, organic, anti-inflammatory diet that we recommend. So yeah, the EMF piece of it, I think is an example of one of those environmental things that makes a big difference.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Yeah and I think that if people are becoming more aware of the potential for negative effects, particularly, it’s with that, but I love that you’re really trying the connection to the physiological stuff with that, because people often just think, oh that’s a mental health thing — behavior and what you’re saying is: it’s not. This is all part of the same thing, and this EMF exposure, the radiation exposure has a physiological effect on the body that’s not good.
Yeah, I just got back from a three-day EMF conference out in California in the last month and it was really interesting to sit and listen to all the research from experts from all over the world on this. I’ve always been big on it, but it just reinforced my commitment to making sure that we educated more people about the problems because there are physiological problems, and we know that at the cortical level, the brain becomes thinner with the more hours of this radio frequency radiation exposure, we know that there are decreases in white matter, we know that kids that are in schools that require screens and require smart boards and require chromebooks have lower test scores than the schools that forbid them and don’t allot any of that in the classroom. The research is clear enough that Paris, France has pulled the WiFi out of their preschools, out of their schools, out of their public libraries, there are communities all over the world that are restricting 5G from coming online because it’s a really big threat and hasn’t been tested for human safety and that studies that are available, animal studies, etc, have huge concerns with infertility, with neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative diseases with infertility, with DNA degradation, and these are things that we’re really doing an experiment on the human race with, that we shouldn’t be, that we really should make sure it’s safe before it gets put out there. And so, because that’s not been what’s happened, we have to really focus on trying to control it ourselves through what we direct patients to do and what we do with our own homes.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
We’re all guinea pigs right now.
Right, we’re all guinea pigs and it’s frightening. When you look at the increase in cancer, the increase in infertility the increase in mental health problems, the fact that suicide has doubled in certain age groups, young children in the last 7-8 years, why is that changing so quickly? I don’t think it’s just increased stress. Stress is part of it, but 7 years to double suicide rate in a young age group? There is something environmental going on and I do believe that the EMF piece and some of the leaky blood-brain barriers and some of these toxins are part of why that’s so.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
So you’ve touched on some of the strategies that are important initially to kind of stabilize symptoms. We’ve talked now about how things in the environment like the EMF exposure and all of that, you touched on the importance of diet and making sure that the food that your kids are eating is supportive to healing. What would you say is another key area that you maybe find is often missed in the treatment of these things that you would want to highlight for people?
I think mold exposure is a big one that people don’t think about and with a functional and environmental medicine background, I always think about, being that mold is a significant stressor on the immune system and mycotoxins that are produced by mold can make people quite ill. One out of every two homes has some level of mold and much of it can be toxic and there are people that are more vulnerable to that and more sensitive to that than others, even though it’s not good for any of us. And a lot of times, this is another piece that people have been to multiple practitioners and they’ve done all the right things, and they’re still not getting better or they’ve gotten a little bit better but not fully better, often times looking for mold in the classroom, in the car, in the house, remediating that will be what starts the child’s immune system to be able to allow it to recover. Then they’re able to decrease inflammation and get more balance and the treatments that have been put in place start working. So mold, I think, is one thing. People can do urinary mycotoxin testing, can do blood testing, can have mold professionals in the environmental health field come out and check a home to make sure that the home doesn’t have harmful levels of the toxic molds and other conditions in the home that would feed mold, and it’s much more prevalent than people think.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Yeah, I would agree with that and I like what you’re saying there is that we can treat the other things, but if the immune system is still being constantly aggravated by something like that in the environment, that keeps the person from healing. And I think you also touched on something important there, which is, some people are more susceptible — what people will say is, “Well, if that was a problem, all of us would be sick,” and this is the only person in the family that’s having this issue, but that vulnerability piece of it’s not good for any of us, but you may have a child with other things going on that makes them more susceptible. They’re sort of like the canary in the coal mine with that it is affecting them. So I think an important point for people to understand: If mold is present, it doesn’t mean every single person in the family is going to show up with symptoms, but these kids can be really sensitive to that, right?
Absolutely, and sometimes too, other family members will have issues that they didn’t really appreciate were bothering them, but when they get into a clean environment or remediate the mold or move to a place that’s not moldy or have not just the mold but also the little organic compounds that maybe released from water-damaged buildings and things like that, mom’s migraines go away, dad starts sleeping better at night, that kid with ADHD starts being able to focus better on his homework and doesn’t get into trouble as much, so I think a lot of times, more people are impacted but there’s maybe one in the family that is so impacted that you can’t ignore it and that might be what starts people focusing on some of these things.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Yeah, I find that too, that you start treat — usually people come in the door because of the child that’s having the most severe issues, but you start digging through that and everybody in the family experiences improvement in some way. We could talk about this stuff all day, I find it so fascinating and you’re such a wealth of information. We’ll have to wrap up but I want to end by just — I think there are so many families and so many of our listeners who have done a lot of things, it can feel so frustrating, it can feel never-ending, I’d like to just have us end by you sharing, what do you think is an important message for those parents to hear about this? If they know that their child has some chronic infectious issues and they’re finding their way through that, or maybe their child is just struggling with lots of things and they haven’t been able to pinpoint yet what’s going on — what kind of message would you want to leave with those parents today?
I would say #1: Have hope that things will get better because I think a lot of people come in very hopeless and we’ve had extremely ill people that were locked in mental health wards of hospitals that really the families and the patient lost all hope they would ever get better, who are now fully functioning. One is going on to college, back to school, back to playing sports, not on any medication, doing amazingly well after using this approach, and so no matter how bad it is, have hope. But something some of the people can try is just even changing the diet to an anti-inflammatory diet, I didn’t spend a lot of time today talking about that, but sometimes just making organic, non-GMO whole foods, unprocessed food diet, and oftentimes removing gluten and dairy really brings down the inflammation and helps the gut heal, it can make a huge difference for some people to the point where parents come back and they’re amazing at what a difference it made.
So that would be one thing that people could try to do on their own or maybe with the help of a dietician or a nutritionist. Might be super helpful for them. And then for people that are maybe a little further down the journey that are still struggling and not doing well and maybe you haven’t looked at EMFs and mold and some of these other issues, look at that, but the other piece I would say is low-dose immunotherapy can be really helpful and we didn’t have time to talk about that, but in PANDAS in particular and in chronic Lyme and some of these other infectious autoimmune hypersensitivity allergy situations, it’s really been a game changer for patients in my practice and my colleagues around the world who use it in helping balance that immune response, so that we end up not skewing through autoimmunity or allergy, and we end up being able to balance. It’s easy, it’s inexpensive, it’s something that’s going to reduce the need for IVIG and other modalities that are more invasive and expensive, so in general, my take-home message, it would be: Have hope and keep plugging away, keep looking for answers because no one can be a better advocate for yourself or your child than you. So partner with a practitioner that you trust and you’ll get better, just keep at it.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Awesome. Love that. Where can people learn more about you, your clinic, the work you’re doing?
So we have a website and we also treat people from all over the world in a lot of the United States in different areas, so we have a lot of online classes, question and answer classes, groups, we do group visits — and our website is probably the best place to find out more information, so it’s www.newbridgewellness.com and we have probably 12 groups that are online every month, you can see webinars — some of them are free, some of them are a very small fee and that’s a great way to introduce yourself and ask some questions to see if anything we have to offer might be helpful. We also help people connect with people in their own communities if they are able to travel or what have you, we also are developing intensives where people can come from out of town, get some acute services to get started and then send them back home to connect with people in their neighborhoods and communities to be able to continue their healing. So website is probably the best place to find us. Facebook also.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Awesome, and we’ll make sure the link to that is with the show notes so people can click there, and I’ve been to your website, just a wealth of information there, and as you said, the groups thing that you offer. So I encourage people, if this information resonates with you, if these are things you are dealing with, definitely check out Stephanie’s clinic and website. You have provided so much valuable information today and have given everybody so many reasons to be hopeful about these things for their children, so thank you so much for being here with is.
And thank you Nicole too, you do an awesome job. Happy to be with you today.
Dr. Nicole Beurkens:
Thank you, and thanks to all of you for listening. We’ll see you for our next episode for the Better Behavior Show.