January 25, 2015

The Healing Power of Music

“I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah”[1]

Children who play instruments have better verbal intelligenceThese words from the song Hallelujah made famous by the movie Shrek indicate a power in music known from ancient times.

Though David used what we would call “crude” instruments and chords, there was a power in the music to calm the soul of his employer and king, Saul. It worked so well that Saul kept him around, in spite of his envy of David. (Saul was known to throw a spear or two at David while he was playing.)

Today, we have so much music available to us! We don’t have to be in the presence of a musician to hear their music. Music is ubiquitous. We wake up to music. We listen to music on our way to work or to school. We listen to music when we are at work. We listen to music when we work out. Music is in the background at the restaurant when we eat lunch, or at the café when we meet for a coffee. Music is in the background at the grocery story and the shops we visit for almost everything. For some people, music is what lulls them to sleep at night.

But not all music is equal. We can choose music for its healing power, for our enjoyment, or to set our mood.

Music on the Mind

Our ears convey so much more information to our brains than just words. Music is brain-food. It can keep an aging brain healthy. Click to Tweet.

Research with SPECT and Functional MRI scans reveal that many areas of the brain are stimulated by music. [2]


Listening to music can change your brain chemistry. It can improve auditory and verbal memory, focused attention and mood. For example:

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Metabolic Syndrome: Dr. Saunders Recovery Protocol


Frank is in his late fifties, and was a little overweight. Mostly, he carried his excess weight around his midline, making his waist much bigger than his hips. As a child he had a sweet tooth and ate a lot of candy. For most of his life he ate pre-sweetened cold cereal, mostly two or three times per day. He liked soft-drinks, downing as many as six in one day.

Frank came to the office with a classic case of metabolic syndrome.

  • His body isn’t able to burn fat.
  • He has low testosterone and high estrogen levels.
  • He is pre-diabetic.
  • He has hypertension and elevated triglycerides.
  • He can’t see his belt when it’s on.
  • He came to see me because he has had chest pain and difficulty breathing. Since he has young children, he got worried about a heart attack or stroke so he came looking for help.

Let’s follow Frank through the process of recovery from this problem.

In the 1980s, a new term was coined for an old problem. Those with a collection of symptoms and struggled with metabolism were put in a special group. They suffered from metabolic syndrome. The syndrome affects how people make energy because of high blood sugar, central obesity, hypertension (i.e, high blood pressure), and high triglycerides.

This syndrome is a specific collection of symptoms that occur together. Not everyone with diabetes has hypertension, for example. Nor do most people with hypertension also have the other symptoms like obesity. The definition of metabolic syndrome requires three of the following five symptoms:

It’s important to note that a syndrome is not a disease, but rather just a group of symptoms. It has had other names over time, including:

  • Dysmetabolic syndrome
  • Hypertriglyceridemic waist
  • Insulin resistance syndrome
  • Obesity syndrome
  • Syndrome X

dangers of metabolic syndromeWhat’s more, it is related to other problems including:

  • Fatty liver disease
  • Heart disease
  • Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  • Gallstones
  • Strokes
  • Sleep apnea
  • Inflammation
  • Excessive clotting

How Does Metabolic Syndrome Happen?

One of the most amazing facts about our bodies is the ability to adapt. We have whole civilizations living on mostly fat and protein. Other civilizations have almost no protein, yet both groups of people adapt to their nutrition. There are, however, limits to adaptation. Some people cannot adapt to certain dietary habits that others tolerate. This is part of the difference in genetics.

Our genes don’t determine our destiny, but they do play an important role in determining how we respond to our environment.

Two people on the same diet, for example, may have very different results, depending on their genetics. Click to Tweet.

Today’s environmental factors interact with our genetic predisposition to store energy as body fat. The culprits of metabolic syndrome are:

  • Large portion sizes
  • Commercially prepared foods high in salt, simple sugars, and saturated fats.
  • And the multiple factors that promote sedentary lifestyles, including:
    • The wide variety of home entertainment options
    • Work-place automation
    • And reliance on automobiles

In our case above, Frank had gained the weight in his abdomen over many years of eating processed foods. He didn’t have fat on his arms, legs, chest, or neck – only around the waist. He may have had a genetic weakness to release more insulin than usual. But, his over-the-belt belly could also be a result of eating sugar, starch, and processed foods over the years.

The key feature, or the root of the metabolic syndrome, is insulin.


  • Lowers the HDL
  • Raises the triglycerides
  • Raises the blood pressure
  • Causes fat to be deposited in the abdomen
  • Causes type 2 diabetes, with elevated blood sugar[2]

How Do We Treat Metabolic Syndrome?

Medical school teaches doctors to treat each part of the syndrome with a separate set of medications. I have had metabolic syndrome patients on two medications for cholesterol, three for hypertension, and two for diabetes – and they still weren’t healthy. So, they come to see me. Practicing medicine has taught me that most medications are not appropriate for this syndrome. They only mask the symptoms, as the underlying problem gets worse.

Now that we know that insulin is the root cause of all the symptoms, it’s crucial we treat it naturally. The cornerstones of metabolic syndrome treatment include these 3 steps.

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4 Root Causes of Asthma

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

Marilyn had asthma since she was a young adult. There seemed to be no pattern to her attacks – sometimes it would happen frequently, and other times she would go for years without an attack. Later, she noticed that before an asthma attack she would have an intense itch right in the middle of her back, where she couldn’t reach. If someone scratched it hard, the attack would not come. However, if nobody was around to scratch that itch, she would get severely short of breath. Interestingly, after divorcing her husband she stopped getting asthma attacks altogether.

Asthma is not a disease, but rather a syndrome where the airways in the lungs close down, not allowing air to get to the alveoli, or air sacs to give the body oxygen. As with most “diagnoses” in the medical world, asthma is not a single entity. It is a collection of symptoms of many different causes.

  • asthma caused by magnesium omega glutathione deficiencyAllergies
    • Pollen
    • Dust
    • Food
  • Deficiencies
    • Magnesium
    • Omega-3 oil
    • Glutathione
  • Chronic infections
    • Molds/fungi
    • Virus
    • Bacteria
  • Inflammation
    • Autoimmune disease
  • Neurological
    • Autonomic Nervous System instability
    • Anxiety
  • Hypocapnea (low carbon dioxide levels)

Supplements that may help with asthma are varied, depending on the type of asthma. Those with inflammation will need different supplements than those with allergies, for example. The following is a list to work from.

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10 Tips For A Natural Immune System

by Scott Saunders, M.D.

Thousands of people fill the stands to watch the game. This is the one game that decides the best football team in the world: the Super Bowl.

It’s near the end of the game and the score is close. The center hikes the ball to the quarterback…who hands it off to a half-back…who then throws it to a tight end across the field. Inexplicably, the tight end starts running the wrong way! His own teammate tries to turn him around, but he is faster and gets away…scoring a safety for the other team! It should never happen, but it does. This can happen with the immune system, as well. We call it “autoimmune disease.”

What we call “immunity” makes us think of a system that prevents illness. A better way to consider this is to look at the immune system as the offensive line of all living things. It keeps the other side from getting past them and attacking their quarterback.

coach your immune system to defend against invadersAll living things have boundaries, as well. Bacteria are not always the ogres that we think they are. We hear of people with a phobia of germs, washing their hands every ten minutes to keep the bugs away. Why? Because they don’t want to get sick. However, the reality is that we always have bacteria of all sorts with us. In fact, there are more bacteria with us than there are of our own cells; and, we carry around more DNA from microbes than we do our own!

The immune system is the body’s way of keeping microbes on their own side of the line. When everything works well, the system is beautiful! [2] Bacteria help us to interact with our environment, including digesting and absorbing food, making nutrients for us, and repairing tissue. [3] However, when bacteria are out-of-place, they bring inflammation and tissue damage that causes disease.

Teaching in the Intestines

Training the immune cells is remarkably simple. The whole team of cells and proteins only need to learn what is “me” and what is “not me,” like a football player needing to know which way the ball is supposed to go. This training is done primarily in the intestines.

In the intestines, the immune cells are exposed to all sorts of bacteria, yeast, parasites, molds, foods, and environmental antigens that help it know what to expect. Since all of the proteins we make in our body are unique to us, nothing else in the world has the exact same molecules. Our immune system can use this to determine which cells and proteins belong to us, and which are foreign.

Two Different Systems

There are two primary systems of immunity.

  1. Innate
  2. Acquired

The first does not specifically recognize foreign proteins; your innate immune system looks for abnormal cells. These abnormal cells have names like Natural Killer (NK) cells, and macrophages (big eaters). Essentially, they kill and eat other cells. They completely envelop them, release toxins such as chlorine bleach and hydrogen peroxide to kill them, and then digest them.

These are the cells that clean up the messes when there is trauma or infections. They may form pockets of “pus” when they go in to clean up an infection because the bacteria is making toxins to kill them, such as a staph infection.

They also get rid of all the cancer cells in the large majority of cases. Everyone makes cancer stem cells; only very few actually become cancer because of this part of the immune system. The real question of the existence of cancer is, “Why did that person develop cancer? Why didn’t the NK cells clean it up?” This is one reason it is so important to have an intact, functional immune system.

The second, acquired immunity, is the defense against invaders such as bacterial infections. Acquired immunity is made up of B-cells and T-cells. The T-cells are matured in the thymus gland and have specific receptors for foreign invaders. If the T-cells find a foreign protein and bind to it, they release hormones that cause inflammation, brining other immune cells to the area to clean up the infection.

The B-cells also have specific binding to foreign invaders, but they make antibodies, which are proteins that circulate in the blood to seek-out and bind to antigens on the infectious agents, inactivating them, and marking them for disposal.

The system is quite amazing and is hundreds of times more complex than what we have discussed. It is an intelligent system: active, and not passive. These cells don’t sit around waiting for an infection to show up. They are constantly monitoring and communicating like a good team. They listen to the coach, take signals from the quarterback, and help each other out on the field. They know the other team. They’ve been trained on the front lines in the thymus gland and in the intestinal system. They know which side they are on!

What Causes Autoimmune Disease?

Though all immune cells are trained which team they are on, sometimes they run the wrong way, and score for the other team! This generally begins in

The Important Functions of Cholesterol

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

For this article, I conducted a short survey with some of my patients. I asked, “What is cholesterol?” The following answers come from a college-educated woman:

  • “Bad fats.”
  • “Clogs up your veins.”
  • “You have to eat healthy to not get it.”
  • “You get it from trans-fats.”
  • “Bad for your heart.”

Actually, cholesterol isn’t a fat, nor does it come from eating fat. In fact, every cell in the body makes cholesterol. Cells engage in a long process and use their energy to create cholesterol from triglycerides (oils). If we eat more cholesterol, our cells make less. If it were bad, why would our cells be making it?

Cholesterol is a different kind of lipid that is essential to the functioning of cells. All animal cells make cholesterol, since it is vital to every cell membrane.

The fat we eat has very little cholesterol in it. However, all animal products contain some cholesterol. Plants don’t make cholesterol; they make something similar called phytosterols.

Important functions of cholesterol include:

  • Synthesizes vitamin D – important for calcium regulation and immune function
  • Produces Co-Q10 – re-energizes your cells
  • A precursor to testosterone – keeps your strength, stamina and muscle mass up
  • A precursor to progesterone – important for brain function, as well as regulation of menses in women
  • A precursor to estrogen – allows a woman to do all the functions of females
  • Derives adrenal hormones (cortisol, aldosterone) – regulates metabolism, immune function, minerals, and many other processes
  • Produces bile – aids in the absorption of oils, fats, and vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • Forms myelin – A sheath that protects nerve conduction like the plastic around an electrical wire
  • Regulates cell signaling – the ability of the cells to receive signals from hormones and proteins

Besides that, cholesterol is essential for keeping the cell membranes stable. Cholesterol decreases the fluidity of the cell membrane to get nutrients into the cells and keep toxins out.

This cholesterol functions like your skin. If you didn’t have the protein, keratin, in your skin, then it would tear easily and not be able to protect your body from invasion by germs or toxins. Cholesterol is that important for the integrity of every one of your cells. You cannot make any cells, or keep them alive, without cholesterol.

Lack of Cholesterol Dangers

Dangers of low cholesterolWhen people don’t have enough cholesterol, the production of hormones, energy, cells, and immunity go down as well. A cholesterol deficiency produces:

  • Early aging – Cells cannot reproduce when they lack cholesterol
  • Immune dysfunction – This includes frequent infections and hypersensitivity reactions, such as allergies. (The instability of immune cell membranes causes the excessive release of chemical granules that cause a reaction.)
  • Brain dysfunction – Nerve cells require cholesterol to conduct and generate an impulse. For example, multiple sclerosis shows areas where there is a lack of myelin in the brain.
  • Depression and anxiety – Without sufficient cholesterol, serotonin doesn’t bind to its receptor.
  • Muscle fatigue/pain/cramps/cell death- Mitochondria require cholesterol to make energy from lipids. Without enough energy, the muscle cell fatigues easily, cramps, and dies.
  • Hepatitis – Without cholesterol, the liver cannot produce energy. Moreover, the fluid cell membranes comprise the cell. Liver cells cannot get rid of toxins efficiently so they may build up.
  • Low testosterone – Many men may worry about low testosterone. They may not realize that medications that lower cholesterol also lower testosterone.

Dangers of Statin Side-Effects

Compare the cholesterol deficiency list to the side-effect profile of a “STATIN,” or a drug that lowers cholesterol. This is taken directly from the package insert:

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3 Ways That God Heals Us

By Scott Saunders, M.D.

Cecilia came limping into my office with left knee pain. I examined her knee and found nothing wrong with it, but ordered an x-ray anyway. The report came back showing a normal x-ray of the knee, but a bone lesion was seen just above the knee in the femur. Several tests later proved devastating. She had a bone cancer that was almost always fatal. The surgeon recommended they take her entire leg off at the hip joint – and then start whole-body radiation and chemotherapy. She declined and left the office.

Three months later I noticed she was on the schedule and I was expecting to find a woman with cancer, but I was very surprised when I opened the door. She had both of her legs. She was walking normally, not even a slight limp. I did an exam and found no mass in her leg. I inquired as to what she did.

“When I left your office, I went to Mexico to my family and we had a prayer circle. We fasted and prayed. As soon as it was done I knew I would get better. The next day the knee didn’t hurt me anymore, and I have had no pain since.” Of course, I was very curious to see what her bone looked like so I asked if we could just do an x-ray, but she declined. “I just wanted to let you know I was alright.” She left, and I haven’t seen her since.

This wasn’t my first exposure to a person being healed by the Lord, but it was the most dramatic. The Lord heals all illnesses and all wounds, but we need to have His vision. While we see the healing of the physical body, the Lord cares more about the heart. Each illness, and each healing are given to help us learn and grow, and, ultimately, to heal our hearts.

There are three ways in which God heals us:

  1. Instant healing of body and spirit.
  2. Using the knowledge of the world.
  3. We must wait.

Though all three are miracles, the only the first type, like Cecilia, are generally considered miraculous. Because we have to do something, we often consider the second to be our own efforts, even denying the hand of God. The third is the biggest challenge we have to overcome, but is likely the most important means of changing hearts. Each is a gift from God that requires faith.

The Faith to be Healed

Cecilia had faith to be healed. We have many examples of people healed of terrible illnesses through the power of prayer and faith. Peter would walk down the street and people would be healed by just his shadow falling on them. (Acts 5:15-16)

The Gospel of St. John tells of Jesus spitting on the ground to make mud, applying it to the eyes of a blind man who then washed it off and was healed. (John 9:6-7)

Do shadows heal? Was it the mud? Was it minerals in the dirt? Was it the saliva of the Lord? No, it’s none of these. Those Jesus healed were told, “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” (KJV Luke 17:19) He gave the credit for the cure to those who were healed. It wasn’t just that He had the power to heal them, but also because they had faith in Him that they were healed. God works among His children according to their faith.

Faith is not just belief; it starts with belief, but grows with evidence. Thus, faith is the beginning step to all truth. Click to Tweet.

Elijah had faith that the Lord would answer him when he proposed a contest with the priests of Baal. He taunted them as they begged their god to burn up their sacrifice. Then, he had his own inundated with water, lest anyone think there could be any trickery, and prayed while fire came down from Heaven. His faith was in the one true God, whereas their god wasn’t true. The priests of Baal had belief, but lacked evidence, whereas Elijah gave the Children of Israel evidence of the true God.

faith and chinese language learningThose who believe begin to gather evidence for God, and learn who He is. They learn to communicate through prayer and the Spirit. They recognize His voice, and can distinguish it from the voice of man or Satan.

It is a learning process like any other. If you want to talk to Chinese people you have to take the time to learn Chinese. It is a process that requires a great deal of effort, and will not happen just because you show up in China. Faith is like that, we need to learn the “language of the Spirit” over time in order to understand the will of God. Suddenly needing God does not suddenly give us faith, nor does just showing up in church.

Sometimes all it takes is faith to simply ask. Surprisingly, many don’t turn to the Lord and ask for healing.

When the Children of Israel were wandering in the wilderness, poisonous snakes came and bit them, and many were dying. Moses went to the Lord and was told to make a brass serpent up on a pole. Any who were bitten needed only to look up at the brass serpent on the pole, which represented Christ, and they would be healed. However, many died because they didn’t believe – they just didn’t look! Thus, many are not healed today because they don’t even have the small amount of faith to ask.

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not… all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” Matthew 21:21-22

Faith in what God has Provided

Faith is more than believing God will give us what we want, it is the ability to know and do His will. Click to Tweet.

When we pray for healing, God often answers our prayers in ways we don’t expect. If we have faith, we will be able to recognize the voice of the Lord, and receive the gift we desire.

One patient, I don’t remember her name, was vehemently against having chemotherapy for cancer, “I’m never going to take those poisons!” she exclaimed. She was sure God would heal her. Well, events happened as she got worse and her family prevailed upon her to do the chemo – and she got better! We must be willing to use the tools God has prepared for us if we want to demonstrate our faith in Him.

The story is told of a man caught in a flood. As the flood waters rose, the man had to go up to his roof. The water was getting higher so he prayed to God for deliverance. A boat came by, but the man said he was sure God would save him so the boat went on to rescue others. The waters rose more and finally a helicopter came along, but the man waved it on because he was sure God would save him. The waters rose more, he was washed off the roof and drowned.

I had a very similar experience with a woman of faith who was sure God would heal her diabetes. We did some tests and found that with some changes in her eating and exercise, along with some herbs and nutrients she could gain control of her diabetes without insulin. She rejected the program I recommended and to this day is still using insulin.

If we were to catch pneumonia, treatments are readily available so it isn’t reasonable for us to forego such treatment and expect a miraculous recovery. God gives the knowledge we have, and if it is found on the Earth, then we may be expected to find what is already known.

Society grows with more knowledge and understanding over time. Part of this growth is information dispensed from God that helps us to live better.

Only a couple hundred years ago people were treated with all sorts of crazy concoctions, potions, and procedures. George Washington was arguably killed by his own physicians who drained his blood as he lay sick. Old-time treatments for scurvy, which is now easily cured by eating an orange, included mercury, alcohol, barley water, tar water, and burying up to the neck in hot sand (none of which improved the illness, and often made it worse).

Now, we have much more knowledge about the functions of the body, and how to treat and cure illness. Indeed, in spite of the retro patent medicine cartel, doctors can make the blind see, the lame walk, and the deaf hear.

Sometimes, the faith to be healed is found in trusting that God will guide us to a mere mortal who knows how to diagnose and treat our particular illness. Click to Tweet.

The Faith to NOT be Healed






10 Ways to Keep Your Liver Healthy

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

When I was a medical student at UCLA, I happened to be on the liver transplant team. In those days, there were only a couple of surgeons who could transplant a liver so we would fly all over California to remove livers from bodies on life support. We would then fly back to UCLA and put the livers into needy recipients. It struck me as funny that the wonder of our noble cause was diminished when we wrapped the livers in saline-soaked cloths, and put them on ice in an Igloo ice chest for transportation. They even let me, the lowest man on the team, carry the precious cargo!

Those who received the livers were so grateful for the gift of life. To date, we have no way to replace the function of the liver, so those in failure were slowly dying. It was sad to see so many people who were barely hanging on to life because of liver failure.

Your liver is vital to so many aspects of your health. For example, everything you ingest has to go through the liver before it gets into the body. In this way, the liver is the primary protection for your body from toxins.

The liver is the second largest organ in the body (the skin is the largest). It is the only organ able to regenerate itself. We can lose 50% of our liver and within 2 weeks, we would have another complete liver.

The liver is an amazing organ that is essential for our body to function. Most liver specialists believe there are over 500 different functions of the liver. Besides detoxifying the things we eat, the liver also is necessary for:

  • Storing nutrients
  • Detoxifying and recycling waste
  • Regulating and storing energy
  • Regulating hormones
  • Digestion of fats
  • Making proteins
  • Making cholesterol
  • Regulating blood sugar

Primary detoxification

The primary function of the liver is detoxification. Without this vital organ, we become overloaded with toxins and die.

It’s the liver’s job to cope with chemicals as they travel from the environment via food or drink into your body. The liver acts like a filter through which the blood flows. It removes toxic substances from the bloodstream. Some of these toxins include:

  • Bilirubin from the turnover of red blood cells from the spleen
  • Ammonia from all the proteins in the body
  • Drugs and medications
  • Alcohol
  • Toxins from the intestines such as pesticides, food additives, and bacterial toxins

acetaminophin leads to liver failureThe most common cause of acute liver failure from toxicity is ACETAMINOPHEN (Tylenol). The medication itself is not toxic, but the liver makes it into another chemical, NAPQI, which causes immediate death of liver cells. Thankfully, we don’t collapse and die every time we take Tylenol because the liver has a way to detox the NAPQI by combining it with GLUTATHIONE. Glutathione is one of the most important anti-oxidants in the body. As long as we maintain enough glutathione we will be protected from acetaminophen toxicity, but ingesting more than the liver can handle causes liver damage, and death.

Fatty Liver Disease

Besides acetaminophen, alcohol, and food additives, the liver must break down nutrients from regular food. Some foods are very toxic and damage your liver. In fact, the most common cause of liver damage is not alcohol or acetaminophen, as one of my patients, Daniel, found out.

Daniel came in to my office because his liver enzymes were slightly elevated and his life insurance company refused to give him a policy. Elevated liver enzymes means that inflamed or injured liver cells are leaking certain enzymes, into the bloodstream. Higher enzyme levels indicate more liver cells are dying. Since his disease was mild, Daniel had none of the symptoms of liver disease:

  • Pain
  • Bloating
  • Enlargement of the liver
  • Changes in stool
  • Turning yellow (jaundice)

We needed to find out why he had so many dying liver cells. There are several things that can cause elevated enzymes, including toxins and infections. Tests showed Daniel to have “fatty liver,” a condition created by dying liver cells.

Until recently, alcohol was the primary cause of fatty liver disease because every drop of alcohol damages the liver. One drink can cause the enzymes to be elevated on a blood test. However, because liver cells regenerate quickly, limited alcohol intake doesn’t create any permanent damage. Only people that have a slow detoxification system are more likely to get cirrhosis, or scaring of the liver, with alcohol. Less common causes include protein malnutrition, hypertension, cell toxins, and anoxia (lack of oxygen) including sleep apnea. However, now alcohol has been surpassed by a more insidious toxin.

The Worst Liver Toxin

One of the most common substances we eat has become the primary liver toxin. We give it to children, adults, old people, and even sick people. Most people don’t even know they are eating liver toxins, but what was once completely unknown has become an epidemic today. It’s sugar!

Daniel was a victim of this epidemic. Over the years, he didn’t know that sugar was building up in his liver cells. Sugar is naturally stored in the liver for use when there is no food. However, eating it every day causes sugar to fill up the cells until they can contain no more. When the cells are overloaded with sugar, they start to die, and the excess sugar is made into fat. Over time, the liver becomes riddled with fat, which is known as fatty liver disease.

The insurance company didn’t care what caused Daniel’s liver to fill with fat, whatever the toxin is, they know that fatty liver is a sign of damage, which can be deadly, so they wouldn’t insure him.

Viral Hepatitis Infections

Toxins are just one way that the liver can be damaged. When I was on the transplant team, we transplanted livers into people with all sorts of liver disease. Some of these were toxic problems, but many had infectious diseases. There are a number of infections that can damage the liver. Most of these are viruses that will only grow in liver cells.

Viral hepatitis is inflammation of the liver caused by viruses that attack liver cells. Sometimes these are very mild infections that people hardly even know they have, but other times they can cause a great deal of damage. There are several different viruses that do this, the most common being Hepatitis A, B, and C.

hepatitisHepatitis A – is found in unsanitary water or food. It is a common infection where there are no water treatment facilities. There is a vaccine for Hepatitis A that gives lifetime immunity.

Hepatitis B – is everywhere. But in some places, such as Southeast Asia, it is more common. It is transmitted by direct contact with blood or bodily fluids of a carrier. About half of the cases have an unknown cause because no risk factors are found. It can cause chronic hepatitis and lead to cirrhosis and liver cancer. Hepatitis B also has a vaccine.

Hepatitis C – is the most common blood-born illness in the United States. There is no vaccine against it, and it is transmitted in the same way as hepatitis B. It also leads to liver failure and cancer.


The most wonderful thing about the liver is that it is very forgiving. If damaged, the liver regenerates itself – that is, until it gets scarred (cirrhosis). For example, people who abuse their livers with alcohol can quit drinking and return to normal, as long as there is no cirrhosis. Those that get infected with a virus can take antibiotics to clear the infection, and often return to normal as well. By decreasing inflammation and improving the immune system, liver damage can be minimal.


Do Your Genes Determine Your Destiny?

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

We have been told that our genes are responsible for everything from how we look, to what foods we like, to whom we marry. The old concept of “fate,” “determinism,” or “pre-destination” now has a physical presence in the genes! Is this true? Do we believe in fate? Is our destiny sealed the moment the sperm from our father penetrates the egg of our mother?

The answer is: no!

We are as free to choose our fate as we could be. Nobody is predetermined to do anything. However, some may have genetic weaknesses to overcome.

I had a patient in my office last week. I’ll call her Becky. Her answer to everything wrong with her was: “My mom had that so I do;” or, “I got that from my aunt.” I could not get through to her that she could make changes in her life that would preclude the need for her medications. She didn’t understand that her genes do not destin her to living with any of these so-called genetic illnesses. Hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes need not be her fate.

On the other hand, there are genetic diseases that don’t respond to the environment. One young woman, Alice, had a “pyruvate dehydrogenase deficiency.” Don’t worry…I couldn’t pronounce it either. It caused her to get severely fatigued every day. She didn’t get sleepy, but just felt unable to move for lack of energy.

This enzyme deficiency wouldn’t let her fully use sugar, so she only got a tenth of the energy out of each sugar molecule. Moreover, the acids left over built up in her tissues and she became extremely fatigued by the middle of the day. After she rested overnight the acids would clear out of her muscles and she felt fine in the morning. She would go about her day and the acids would build up until she couldn’t move anymore, and she would have to lie down. Her fiancé finally dragged her into my office saying, “Something is wrong with her!”

five senses turn genes on and offEpigenetics is the study of how the environment affects the genes.

It turns out that everything we:

  • See
  • Hear
  • Touch
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Think

…affects our genes. Not just “affects,” but actually turns them on and off. I can give you a simple example:

I could say just a few words that produce a vibration in your ear. Your brain interprets the vibration and turns on some genes that dilate your blood vessels in your cheeks and makes you blush. This example produces a temporary effect, but there are other examples that produce permanent effects.

We have amazing mechanisms to turn genes on, or turn them off. Thus, it isn’t the genes that determine what we become, but what we do with them.

The study of all these effects is fascinating. Genetic material functions like the blueprint for creating an organism. But just like the blueprint for a building, there is some leeway in how we follow it.

As a young man, I was a carpenter, building condominiums in Los Angeles. I knew that the final structure of the building is often different from the plans given to us by the architects and engineers. We used to complain that the architects didn’t know what was possible. We thought they should all be required to actually build some structures before they started drawing them.

A very similar situation occurs with our genes. The cell may need a certain protein, but that gene may be turned off so it has to do without, or use something else. It can take time, and a lot of different factors to turn on a gene.

Food has a huge effect on genes. Everything we put in our mouths is turning on, or off, our genes. Click to Tweet.

At the very least, food affects our genes during digestion. But food can have far-reaching effects—even generational.

Eating certain foods during pregnancy may increase or decrease the chance of illness for your child later in life. Take diabetes, for example. Diabetes was unknown to the Pima tribe in Arizona on their original diet. But, since they started eating highly processed American food, they now have a diabetes rate of 80%!

oxygen free radicals damage DNAEight out of ten Pima Indians will have diabetes in their lifetime. What’s more, diabetes is showing up among youths and even young children. These kids are genetically predisposed against diabetes, but sugar turned on their genes that create diabetes.

The nutrients we consume affect our genes. Oxygen free radicals from food damage our genome (our complete set of DNA), causing dysfunction of cells, and even cancer.

However, even if everyone else in our family gets cancer, it doesn’t mean we have to get it. Though we may be predisposed to cancer genetically, we can create an environment that promotes healthy genes.

We need vitamins and minerals, and we need to avoid toxins that cause genetic mutations. (Promoting healthy genes like this also keeps the immune system functional to remove any cancer cells that may arise.)

Even our thoughts can change our genes. Many of us have had the experience of seeing a scary movie that caused our hearts to race and fill us with anxiety. You know that you can think about that movie and recreate the same reaction. If you experience fear over and over again, then you will develop a pathway of fear in the brain. This changes both neurotransmitters and your anatomy. The brain makes more physical connections as a pathway is used.

So, what about all this “epigenetics?” What does it mean for us? Well, this is an extremely empowering concept.

Becky felt doomed to her fate of hypertension, high cholesterol, and diabetes. But, she can change those genes. She is not destined to die young or slowly because of these genetic illnesses.

In one study, pregnant rats were fed gluten. The rats born from the research only had an increased risk of diabetes if they overate, became obese and didn’t exercise. When rats ate more proteins, less carbohydrates, less food in general, and exercised, then they didn’t get diabetes.

Alice, on the other hand, had a different problem than Becky. She had an enzyme that was defective and didn’t work at all. Luckily, half of her cells are normal, allowing her to live.

Even with Alice we can work around some of these abnormalities.

  • We still used the concept of epigenetics, modifying her environment to work with her genes.
  • We put her on a sugar-free diet so she couldn’t build up the acids in her muscles.
  • This forced her body to use fat and protein (which is made into sugar) for energy.
  • She had just enough sugar from the protein, and enough energy from the fat to allow her to function normally all day.

Several weeks into her new diet Alice was feeling pretty good, planning her wedding, and brought in her mother. Her mother told me, “I have been tired all my life, and the doctors just gave me anti-depressants! I’ve been on every drug for depression, and most of them made me worse! I want to take that test.”

However, we didn’t need to perform the test because we found out the deficient enzyme was on her daughter’s X-chromosome. This means it had to come from her mom because the males with this defect all die before they’re born. We put her on the same diet and her fatigue disappeared almost immediately. This is how knowledge is power!

Recommendations For Good Epigenetics 

6 Tips to Prevent Food Allergies

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

“My itching is gone!  I no longer have headaches!  And, that rash disappeared!”  Marilyn exclaimed very surprised.  For three weeks she had been on an elimination diet for problems in her intestines and hadn’t expected her other symptoms to go away.  She also stopped having bloating and pain in her stomach.  As she started adding in foods, one thing showed up that she clearly reacted to:  milk.  Every time she ate anything with milk in it, including cheese, yogurt, and sauces, she got bloating and her itching and rash returned.  Other things she thought she might be allergic to didn’t cause any reaction at all.

What is a food allergy? 

Any allergy is an immune reaction.  The immune system exists simply to keep those things that are “not you,” such as bacteria, viruses, and so forth, from harming you.  So, the immune system only has to distinguish what is “you” from what is “not you.”  If you have a protein that is “not you” inside of you, then the immune system will fight to get it out, causing inflammation, reactions, and all sorts of symptoms.

What causes food allergies?

Food allergies are very common in western cultures.  In traditional societies that eat their traditional foods, food allergies are rare. In a study in South Africa, the indigenous people were changed to a “western diet.” Normally, on their traditional diet they would have been protected from food allergies, but on the western diet they experienced a sharp rise in them.[i]

Food is not part of you!  You may think that you are what you eat, but in reality, you have to break down EVERYTHING into its component parts; every molecule is absorbed and used to build up your own body.  If your body can’t break down your food properly, it cannot be absorbed and your immune system reacts to it.

A food allergy is an adverse immune response to a food protein. Proteins are long chains of amino acids that are wadded up into a ball.  In the stomach, these proteins are opened up into their long chains (“denatured”) so the enzymes in your stomach and intestines can cut them into individual amino acids. These amino acids are then absorbed and made into your very own protein. There may be several reasons that you don’t digest proteins:

  1. food allergy proteinsLow stomach acid
  2. Low enzyme production
  3. Inflammation in the intestines
  4. Bad bacteria in the stomach or intestines
  5. Toxins
  6. Parasites
  7. Lack of bile

Why do people get allergies to food?

When proteins aren’t digested, they go into the intestines whole and the immune system says, “That’s not me!” and start to fight against it.  This can cause all sorts of problems depending on many factors, such as the type of protein, the type of reaction (there are four primary types of reactions) and the amount of protein.

So, a food allergy is just a normal immune response to the presence of a protein that isn’t in the right place.  If our digestive system functions as it should, then we will have few or no proteins getting into the intestines in whole form.  They will all be broken-down into amino acids, which do NOT cause allergic reactions.  Only the whole proteins can cause a reaction, and start the inflammation cycle.

The more inflammation you have in the intestines, the worse the digestive system works, allowing more proteins into the intestines, causing more reactions.  This can continue throughout life.  The inflammation can be felt anywhere in the body, from rashes on the skin to headaches.

What are the symptoms of food allergies?

This is a very difficult question to answer because it can be anything – or nothing!  Many people (some experts think MOST) have no symptoms at all, but have inflammation inside their intestines without any noticeable problem.  Other food allergy symptoms include:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Cramps
  • Allergic rhinitis (nasal allergies)
  • Sinus problems
  • Rashes of all types (Eczema, Seborrhea, Psoriasis, Urticaria, and so forth)
  • GERD (acid reflux)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Chest pain
  • Dandruff
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Chronic cystitis (bladder pain)

The list goes on and on.

The University of Chicago Celiac Disease center explains the symptoms of just one type of food allergy, which may apply to any other as well:

There are hundreds of signs and symptoms of [food allergy], many of them subtle and seemingly unrelated. Yet many people with [food allergies] have no symptoms at all. In those cases, the undamaged part of their small intestine is able to absorb enough nutrients to prevent symptoms. However, people without symptoms are still at risk for some of the complications…[ii]

What are the complications?

People with chronic inflammation in their intestines are more prone to many diseases — and not just of the intestines.  Of course, they may have gas, bloating, diarrhea, cramps, GERD, and other signs of intestinal inflammation, but they may also have poor absorption of nutrients that lead to other, seemingly unrelated problems, such as:

  • untreated food allergiesObesity
  • Diabetes
  • Neuropathy
  • Thyroid problems
  • Frequent infections
  • Arthritis
  • Fatigue
  • Autoimmune diseases (Lupus)
  • … and many others.

It also leads to a shortened lifespan, degeneration and decline in function.  Thus, food sensitivities are common, and life-threatening, making them a very important problem!

Are there any tests to see if you have food allergies?

Traditionally, skin testing using grids of many needles to inject tiny amounts of the food protein under the skin to see if it creates a reaction.  Unfortunately, this is not an accurate way to measure the reaction to foods in the intestines.  This method is about 50% reproducible; meaning if you do the same test again, you will get half of them the same – about like flipping a coin!

There are some new tests that are a little better, but have their own problems.  For example, we can measure antibodies to various proteins; however, you may have a reaction to a different protein in the food!  These are about 80% reproducible.  There are some cellular tests that determine whether your white blood cells react to the food, but again these tests aren’t consistent.  So, what do we do?

I often use the antibody test to get us close, or to give us some clues as to what might be going on.  Then we do the Elimination Diet, like Marilyn, above.  She showed reactions to milk, wheat, and candida, so we eliminated them. (For candida, we do a yeast cleanse which eliminates simple sugars).  The real test is to see if you have a reaction.  For those who don’t have any symptoms, it’s very hard to do this because you aren’t sure what you are looking for.  However, I have had several people with chronic fatigue and really no other issues just eliminate everything except lamb broth and green leafy vegetables for three weeks who have felt much better.

After eliminating a food (or multiple foods) for three weeks, you can start adding them back into your diet one-by-one.  Give only one day between them.  Any reaction will be apparent within one day. For more information about the elimination diet, check out our How to Eat Allergy Free article HERE.

How do I prevent allergies?

Prevention is the greatest thing you could do.  If you could stop food allergies from happening, then it would protect your health in many different ways.  Since you already know what causes the problem (poor digestion of protein), all we need to do is improve your digestion to digest protein well.

Remember, the acid in the stomach is important to denature the protein so the enzymes can break it down.  Protecting your stomach acid is therefore foundational.  This is done in several ways:





The Problem with Cancer Screening

by Dr. Scott Saunders, M.D.

Cancer testing is a large part of a doctor’s business.  We have been told that if we find cancer early, and cut it out, burn it with radiation, or poison it with chemotherapy, we can make a bigger difference.

While there is a lot of debate over this issue, we still continue to try to detect cancer early – or before it even starts.  I’m going to focus on the most common cancer screening tools, the ones you’ve all heard about, and that you were told you should do – or else!  These include:

  1. Mammograms
  2. Colonoscopy
  3. PSA testing
  4. PAP smears

I started studying cancer screening over ten years ago when I had a patient with an inexplicable case of cancer.  Because there were many cases in her family, Cecilia was always afraid of getting cancer and did all she could to prevent it by eating all organic and exercising regularly.  She even got all her cancer screening tests, PAP smears, annual mammograms and a colonoscopy at age 50.

One day, she came in to see me with a lump in her left breast.  It was large, a couple of centimeters, and not tender.  I looked at the mammogram report done only a few months before and it was negative for any signs of malignancy.  I reassured her that it was probably a cyst, but we would send her for an ultrasound to be sure.  A biopsy was done, it was cancer and, in spite of all the treatments, she died just over a year later.

Since I had known Cecilia for years and knew she was diligent in her health care, I was shaken by her death.  I wondered how we could have missed such a large tumor.  How could the mammogram have missed it only months before?  I asked the radiologist to review it, and he found no evidence of any mass in that exact location at that time.  So, I started doing some real research on the test itself, and was shocked by what I found!  Not only were mammograms questionable, but most of the cancer screening tests did more harm than good!


A mammogram is an x-ray, and x-rays don’t distinguish the difference between normal tissue and cancer.  Instead, the radiologist looks for tiny calcium deposits that indicate there is some inflammation in the tissue.  The problem is that calcium deposits happen with any kind of inflammation, and are not specific to cancer.  Thus, many women who don’t have cancer are told they do, and the aggressive real cancers are missed; like in Cecilia, because they don’t form calcium deposits.[i]  The newer mammograms are better able to distinguish tissues with less radiation, however the problems with screening persist.

The primary problem with mammograms is that they don’t decrease mortality, at all.  In the long-term studies, including the Canadian study[ii] and the Oslo study (noted above) after 25 years and 14 years, respectively, the incidence of mortality from breast cancer remained the same – in spite of finding more cancer.

The Canadian Study showed that 22% of the women who were treated for cancer didn’t even have cancer! Or, they would not have died from it if they did.

Thus, the statistics of women having a mammogram and getting “cured” of cancer with chemotherapy and radiation may only represent those women who never had it in the first place! Click to Tweet.

The eight major long-term studies have been reviewed extensively.  The most detailed study of all of them, the 2011 Cochrane Review[iii], said:

“Screening is likely to reduce breast cancer mortality. As the effect was lowest in the adequately randomized trials, a reasonable estimate is a 15% reduction corresponding to an absolute risk reduction of 0.05%. Screening led to 30% over-diagnosis and overtreatment, or an absolute risk increase of 0.5%. It is thus not clear whether screening [mammography] does more good than harm.”

In short: The risk (0.5%) is greater than the benefit (0.05%) by TEN TIMES!  In other words, you are ten times more likely to end up with treatment for a cancer you didn’t have, than to prolong your life span by finding and treating a tumor earlier.

What do I do to screen for breast cancer?

Other screening tests for breast cancer have similar problems… and that is finding something that gets treatment, but would not have become life-threatening if left alone.  One of my patients wanted MRI screening tests because she was afraid of the radiation (there is about a 1/5000 risk) from a mammogram, and didn’t want her breasts pinched in the machine.  A mass was found, and biopsy showed it was an Interductal Carcinoma In-Situ, and she was told she needed surgical removal, radiation, and chemotherapy.  She opted-out of treatment, and she is still fine – with her mass that continues to grow – twelve years later.  She would have been considered a “cure” if she had been treated.

5 ways to prevent breast cancerWhether you use MRI, ultrasound, mammogram, or thermogram, you must consider what you will do once you find a bump!  Do you wait?  Do you treat aggressively?  Unfortunately, we have more questions than answers.  Judging by the numbers in the Cochrane study above, I might opt out of screening for this one.  Instead, I would do my best to prevent breast cancer from forming in the first place: