The underlying mechanism was still a mystery. And until we found the cause, we would never find a cure.

EUREKA!  Discovering the Single Point of Origin

Tucking a wisp of blond hair behind her ear, Nicole de Laive gazed out the tinted plate-glass windows of a high-rise.

To her right, a tower in the unlikely but instantly identifiable shape of a blue gherkin gleamed in the sun. She recognized the angular brown box of St. Helen’s next door. And that was Tower 42 in the distance.

Apparently, she was in the City—London’s financial district—probably the Willis Building, which meant she could stop by that great little bar on Broad Street while she was here, if she had the time.

The sun was just beginning to set, but that didn’t mean anything. If this was November—and she suspected it was—twilight would kick off around 3:30 p.m. In these northern latitudes, the light disappeared so early, you could never tell what time it was. She glanced at her watch.


Startled by the voice, she turned. Fifteen executives in finely tailored suits sat waiting at a conference table. What on earth am I doing here?

Smiling defensively, Nicole took a firm step forward on her Ferragamo pumps. A glance at the whiteboard told her what she’d been up to. All the notes and arrows were in her handwriting.

“Just checking to see how much time we have,” she explained.


Nicole was a high-powered consultant, able to walk into any office, find the problem, fix it, and walk out again for a handsome remuneration. This was the kind of thing she did from LA to Brussels, and she worked with the best.

So it was odd that she couldn’t seem to remember who these people were or what she might have been saying that, judging by the state of the conference table, had given them time to go through numerous cups of coffee and almost 20 pages of her prospectus.

Her mind sprinted to catch up. If this was the Willis Building, these were probably Boyd & Hastings execs. She’d evaluated their reports last week and set up a meeting to discuss her findings. Was this that meeting?

She would have to assume it was. Indisputably a type-A personality, Nicole had always been in the fast lane, moving ahead, taking control, striving harder. She was certainly not going to let a little thing like a memory lapse embarrass her in front of important clients.

Moving confidently to the head of the table, she looked the executives in the eye and said, “So. Where were we?”

For the first time in her career, Nicole’s confidence was an absolute bluff.


After finishing the job at Boyd & Hastings, Nicole tried to reduce the number of hours she was working. She told herself that she’d been working too hard and just needed a good rest.

Despite her considerable ability to compartmentalize her concerns, nagging fears kept creeping up from the back of her mind. What if this was early-onset Alzheimer’s?

Whatever it was, it got worse before it got better…

Before long she was not able to do some of the easiest, most basic things. The discouragement gradually ate away at her confident business persona. Nicole spent most of her days feeling worthless and defeated.

Seeing how miserable she was, everyone encouraged her to take antidepressants. She tried them for a month, but they didn’t help. Dr. Lisa asked her to see the therapist at the Kaplan Center for at least six weeks.

After meeting with Nicole a few times, the therapist canceled the rest of the sessions.

“You’re not depressed,” the therapist said. “You’re upset and pissed off about the horrible situation you’re in. Who wouldn’t be?"



At that point, Nicole was referred to me. She had been diagnosed with and treated for Lyme with only a partial response to therapy. I wondered what we were missing.

After reviewing the reports of the other physicians and taking Nicole’s history myself, I ran blood tests for heavy metals.

Lead, mercury, arsenic, and other heavy metals are ubiquitous in our environment, and there are many potential sources of poisoning. Heavy metals poison many enzyme systems in the body and can cause a number of illnesses, but they especially damage our nerves and brain.

Nicole had suffered from lead poisoning as a child after eating paint chips, but she was unsure whether she had ever been treated. That episode and decades of exposure to the fumes from leaded gasoline made me suspect that heavy metals, festering in her tissues, may be interfering with her recovery.....


If it was obvious when I was in medical school that people were suffering from increasingly complicated conditions, it was even more true now.

The patients we saw at the clinic had often seen 8 to 15 other physicians before coming to the center. It was not uncommon for them to have been evaluated and treated at some of our best medical centers such as Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins. We were still able to help most of the people who came to see us, but achieving total recovery was proving more elusive.

The underlying mechanism was still a mystery. And until we found the cause, we would never find a cure.

With our patients exhibiting such a wide array of symptoms, it was nearly impossible to see the connection. How were physical injuries, viral infections, nutritional deficits, hormonal imbalances, and emotional disorders related? What was the common denominator?

Again and again, my mind kept returning to the common occurrence of pain and depression in the same people. Some of the people who experienced chronic pain may already have been prone to mood disorders, of course. For others, the persistent physical misery of chronic pain may have given way to a feeling of despair. But even so, the number of people who had both pain and depression was inexplicably high.

It was obvious what was happening, but why was it happening?