Mold & Environmental Illness
......with Lisa Nagy M.D.
Lisa Lavine Nagy M.D. graduated Magna Cum Laude from The University of Pennsylvania and then from Cornell Medical College in 1986. After a surgical internship she completed Emergency Medicine residency at Metropolitan Hospital in NYC and practiced in Los Angeles until becoming severely ill (Addison’s Disease, Mitochondrial Myopathy, Dysautonomia) –as a result of a complex medical condition known as Chemical Sensitivity or Environmental Illness.
Her story of survival and journey of discovery which led her to determine what had made her have such severe symptoms inspired ABC’s ‘Nightline’ to interview her this year and many newspapers and magazines to feature her recovery. In her case it was due to toxic mold and in others it is due to pesticide or chemical exposure. She learned about the field of Environmental Medicine and it’s focus on finding the causes of disease including genetic, hormonal, nutritional, allergic, and environmental factors.
She is now president of Preventive and Environmental Health Alliance which is a group focused on educating medical students, doctors, the AMA, congress and the public and assists patients to find help nationwide. Listening to physicians and other people who have developed severe Environmental Illness is the first step towards helping the 75 million people in the country with various health issues, including autoimmunity, related to their environments. Her website is www.EnvironmentalMedicineInfo.com
Tuesday, August 25th, 2009:
The Salem Witch Trials All Over Again
by Lisa Nagy, M.D,
Originally published in The Human Ecologist, Winter 2008
I am a doctor who became ill with very severe chemical sensitivity after living in a house with toxic mold. I have largely recovered at the hands of William Rea, M.D., at the Environmental Health Center of Dallas and am thrilled to be alive and “well”.
I want to prevent others from this hell of mold and chemical exposure that I experienced firsthand, so I am establishing a non-profit to educate people about environmental illness (EI) and to rally support for the field of environmental medicine. As a doctor, I see a few obvious reasons that the field of environmental medicine and the condition of EI has not been embraced by society.
I am reaching, as best I can, the media, medical schools, medical societies, governmental agencies, and even people on Capitol Hill. Luckily, I have had success and fun explaining several aspects of the condition to influential lay audiences such as one at George Washington University Hospital 2008. I also have had a wonderful response from The Washington Post and from senators Clinton’s, Kerry’s, and Kennedy’s offices. My Nightline appearance with Bill Rea on March 20, 2008 afforded me many additional invitations to speak, although the program was not as objective as would have liked.
I try to explain to audiences how information on environmental sensitivities pertains to the average fatigued and anxious housewife, teenager with ADD, or doubtful husband living in a moldy house – to draw them in, not scare them off.
The reality is that women suffer chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, and chemical sensitivity (CS) at a rate four times higher then for men. It is also my belief that mild environmental sensitivity symptoms are found in three-quarters of women over the age of 40. Unfortunately, many illnesses that affect women are first thought to be hysterical, like multiple sclerosis, chronic Lyme disease, and chronic fatigue syndrome – for the first 15 years or so.
In terms of gaining true medical acceptance, I believe:
- The biggest obstacle within the medical community – of which I am a member – is that many traditional doctors are somewhat “lazy.” Few doctors are willing to learn about a new field of medicine to benefit a few of their patients – especially at their own expense. It is easier to assume these patients are “just mentally ill” and go along with popular opinion.
- The biggest obstacle presented by CS patients is that they tend to appear a little “crazy.” The physician sees a struggling patient with many seemingly unrelated symptoms who, because of autonomic nervous system or endocrine damage, toxicity, hypoxia, and reactivity, seems neurotic and anxious, if not outright psychotic. The things we say to describe our symptoms sound frankly nuts – even if we think we are totally sane.
If doctors only knew that a combination of genetics, exposures (including intrauterine), and nutritional and neuroendocrine problems lead to mental and behavioural abnormalities in those of us suffering from EI, then they would side with us instead of against us – I am sure. Instead, doctors just run away. They cannot handle the stress of treating real medical problems in those whom they consider to be psychiatric patients – so they abandon us. What they need to know is to whom to refer us (www.aaemonline.org), and to read a book by Stephen Edelson, Living with Environmental Illness, listed on my website.
Currently, our situation parallels the Salem witch trials. Instead of learning why the women who ate rye bread contaminated with ergot (a mold toxin causing hallucinations) were “crazy,” townspeople drowned them.
But by informing women about EI, women will be able to fuel the charge against the injustice of squelching environmental medicine. Please help me to speak to them and represent our strong collective voice – in numbers we have strength if we unite with a positive message!
Please visit again soon for more articles from Dr. Nagy and the Environmental Health Alliance