Highlights from Jonathan Otto's interview with Dr. William Davis, for the Depression & Anxiety Series. Dr. Davis, cardiologist, and author of 'Wheat Belly' and 'Undoctored', discusses environmental toxins and their impact on the body.

William Davis - Part 2

Dr. Davis: We’re swimming in a sea, Jonathan, of industrial compounds. It’s coming to us through water, air, contact surfaces, carpeting, bedding, just about everywhere. Cans, plastics, plasticizing agents, things we touch, and so everywhere we’re being exposed to various compounds. It might be BPA, Bisphenol A, from certain types of plastics or certain kinds of paper. It could perfluorooctanoic acid, which has been outlawed about 10+ years ago. That was Teflon. But it stays in the groundwater, in the soil and in your body for so long that if you had food cooked on Teflon 12 years ago, it’s still in your body or even worse, you go to a restaurant. You don’t know what kind of pots and pans they’re using. Maybe they’re still using Teflon coated pots and pants and utensils. Water, of course, is terribly contaminated and that’s why we have to filter it. But not everything gets filtered out, of course. Air now is a problem. Food’s a problem. We all have glyphosate, for instance, in our body, sometimes to horrendous degrees. So we’re flooded with ... and it’s worse in the US because there’s a presumption of safety until proven otherwise. As you know, at least in Western Europe, there has to be proven safety before a compound is released into the public, into use. In the US, the presumption is it’s safe until usually 10, 20 years later, like dioxin or PCBs, they’re shown to be carcinogens or endocrine disruptors or something like that. Now what usually happens is a long, prolonged battle with the EPA and lawsuits and finally it’s yanked. But it takes many years and a lot of effort and a lot of money to fight big industry, who likes these kinds of compounds and so hundreds to thousands of compounds are introduced every year. So it’s a very difficult battle to fight. I’m not a big fan of trying to remove them because there really is no real effective way to remove them, sadly. So minimizing the exposure remains the primary means of reducing your exposure. Sauna and other means of provoked sweating does work. We know that. But a lot of the purported detoxification mechanisms simply don’t work.

We do know though that chelation does work, at least, judging by that one very clean study, the tact study. That was IV EDTA and people with coronary disease and it did indeed reduce future cardiovascular events, at least in type 2 diabetics and that’s opened the door for more research into both oral, rectal, and intravenous chelation. But we don’t have a lot of great tools for detoxification of compounds that industry feeds into us.

One of my concerns with drinking water, obviously, we have to filter our water because if we didn’t, it would have all kinds of contaminants like farm runs off with herbicides and pesticides. It’d have sewage. It’d have all kinds of bad things. So water filtration, water treatment, is a must. We have to. Unfortunately, most cities still chlorinate or even worse, chloraminate their water. They use chloramine and chloramine is felt by the water treatment industry to be an improvement because it lasts much longer. The problem for us is you can’t even boil it off. It takes maybe just minutes to hours to boil off chlorine. It takes days to boil off chloramine. So it’s very persistent in your body, in the water, in the ground water. So chloramine is now contaminating our world and fluoride, of course. So fluoridated water has never been shown to reduce tooth decay and there’s a growing suspicious, of course, that these halogens, that’s what chlorine and fluoride are, they’re halogens, are destructive. Every environmental ... I shouldn’t say every. Many environmental toxins are halogenated compounds, polychlorinated biphenyl ethers, perfluorooctanoic acid.

So a lot of the toxic compounds are halogenated compounds and chlorine, chloramine and fluoride and water are halogens. So we have essentially toxic compounds being delivered to us through our water. So even though you’re city may filter your water, it’s necessary now for you to filter your water also to remove the things that your city adds, as well as other contaminants, like pharmaceuticals now that are starting to penetrate into the water.

The whole wheat conversation got it’s start in the 50s and 60s, beginning with psychiatric illness. So there were people who made these observations that in wartime, when there was a shortage of bread, hospitalization for schizophrenia dropped off dramatically. There was an observation made by a physician who was part of a research team in the Highlands of New Guinea in the early 1960s and there was a Highland culture of about 6,000 people and this physician noticed the signs and symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia, which are very obvious in one person among 6,000 inhabitants. Well, this research group, this large research group, was trading with these people cornbreads, breads, candies, or whatever, spears, other things, skins, whatever and he watched 60 people show up newly with schizophrenia, a 60 old increase in schizophrenia. So he brought that observation back to the US. He took a job at the VA hospital in Philadelphia, where he somehow persuaded ... This is in the age before informed consent.

You could do research on people without their knowledge and he and colleagues were in the psychiatric ward of this VA hospital, about 40 patients, in patients in a locked ward, so their food, their coming and going and medications could be controlled, and they took all wheat out of the diet of these schizophrenic in patients and they watched their schizophrenia get better, not go away, but improve. They were better socially engaged. They were less paranoid. They had less hearing voices, auditory hallucinations over a month. They added wheat back. They watched it come back. They took it away again. They watched them get better. They added it back again. They had this on again, off again, which proves cause and effect. There was a very skeptical group at University of Sheffield in the UK and they said, “Let’s give this a try and prove it to ourselves whether this works,” and they did it in their own closed wards. Did the same thing. Remove all wheat, watch them get better, watch the schizophrenic patients get better. Add it back, watch them get worse. Took it away, they got better. Added it back, they got worse.

These data were published and then after that, there was series of publications from various psychiatric groups showing the association of wheat consumption. They may have called it gluten, but wheat consumption, the gliadin protein, really, with psychiatric illness. Research at the National Institutes of Health in the US drilled down a lot of the effects to the gliadin protein, but specifically gliadin derived opiod peptides. So that research came from our own NIH from a biochemistry group and it showed that grains, the gliadin protein of wheat and related proteins in other grains, yield opiates and they have opiod effects on humans. So that opened the door to other psychiatric research. It became clear a lot of depression was due, not all depression, but a lot of depression was either caused or worsened by grain consumption. Some forms of bipolar illness, but specifically the mania can be triggered by grain consumption. A lot of phobias are triggered by grain consumption. I don’t know what percentage of that formal study hasn’t been done. But I have watched a lot of people with agoraphobia, for instance, and other forms of phobia have complete resolution.

I’ve seen this interesting, this needs a lot more research, but I’ve seen this interesting phenomenon. People who have addictive personalities, who get addicted to, say, heroin, other forms of opiates, like Oxycontin or cigarettes or booze, alcohol, have dramatically easier times getting off those addictive substances once they get rid of the opiod peptides in grains. So more research needs to be done. Unfortunately, the psychiatric world likes to develop drugs to treat things rather than remove the actual causes. So that’s why that research progresses very slowly. It’s often neglected. But it’s clear to me and it’s clear judging by the hundreds of research studies already published that a lot of psychiatric, not all, but a lot of psychiatric illness is initiated or worsened by grain consumption.