Dr. Jessica Peatross: How Stealth Infections Sabotage Heart Health

Stealth infections such as  Lyme disease and mold can cause cardiac symptoms like high blood pressure and arrhythmias. In today’s episode, Dr. Jess Peatross joins Dr. Lattanza to discuss these potential root causes for disease in the body. Dr. Jess explains the real role behind these organisms and how a “dirty terrain” makes us more susceptible to stealth infection because of high toxicity levels. Tune in to learn where these microbes come from, how to avoid them, and what you can do to get rid of them.

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Dr. Jessica Peatross: How Stealth Infections Sabotage Heart Health

I have an excellent guest for you. I’m so thankful that she’s here. Her name is Dr. Jessica Peatross, MD. She has a passion for uncovering the mystery behind chronic illnesses, whether that be stealth infections, heavy metals, stress, trauma or other environmental toxicities. She left her position as a board-certified internal medicine hospitalist and became trained in Gerson Therapy, Functional Medicine, Nutrigenomics, and Ozone Therapy. Through that, she quickly uncovered that 90% of disease is a result of lifestyle, diet and environment. She also discovered that the body has the answers to heal and reverse that chronic disease. She is known for her ability to help identify the root cause of illness, most often traced back to hidden stealth infections like Lyme, parasites and mold. Welcome, Dr. Jess.

Some revealing studies out of Germany show you can get Lyme disease and coinfections from mosquitoes.

Thank you so much, Dr. Lauren. I’m honored to be here.

I’m so glad to chat with you again. We met back in Boise and I got to pick your brain a little bit there. I know that our audience is going to gain so much value from learning more about you. If you don’t already follow her, read what she has to put out here. I suggest adding that and gaining all of her insight that we will start with here. We’ll just roll right into it. I mentioned going into some stealth infections. How can some of these hidden infections cause cardiac issues, which are more specific to our audience?

I don’t know how I missed this because when I was a hospitalist, I admitted heart attacks and cardiac patients, and this never even popped in my mind because we aren’t taught this way. Once I got into functional medicine and I started to say, “What’s this caused from? What’s X caused from or why?” You keep digging and where I ended up was some of these stealth infections for patients. I’ve had young people who have palpitations, ventricular tachycardia or irregular pulse rates for no reason. When you start to question other symptoms they have, they’ll say yes to brain fog, bloating, joint pain, night sweats, and shortness of breath. You’re like, “There’s a bigger picture going on here.”

I’ll give an example to round out the story about this. I have a personal patient who is only 35. She got diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, which is a high pulse rate and low blood pressure. She feels like she might pass out, especially around heat. They went on to tell her after they looked at her blood smear that she had hemolytic anemia. The shearing of her red blood cells is causing her anemia.

They found a bunch of different weird-shaped red blood cells like burr and smudge cells. They started talking about leukemia to this girl. She had an intracellular parasite named Babesia that was shearing and damaging her red blood cells. Her heart was freaking out and palpitating appropriately based on this self infection. They scared the life out of this poor girl. Getting to the root cause with some herbs and healthy interventions, she’s back to her baseline.

HHS 19 | Stealth Infections
Stealth Infections: A lot of the issue is we’ve segregated so much medicine, and people are so busy.

I can imagine how scary that would be. Maybe it is the palpitations that brought her into the hospital or some of these scary things. There are so many normal symptoms that get swept under the rug. That shouldn’t be how patients feel all the time like this brain fog and some of these other symptoms that you mentioned.

A lot of the issue is we’ve segregated so much of medicine that people are so busy. They all mean well but they don’t have time to look at the whole body and see where one system is causing the failure of another, which is rolling into the failure of another. If we were able to look at the body as a bigger picture or a systemic vessel like it is and how it functions, we’d be more successful.

In standard training, they are probably thinking all along the lines of parasites and Babesia alone like, “It’s so rare. That’s not what’s going on with her.”

That’s only if you’re in a third-world country. Unless you’ve traveled to Mexico or the Caribbean, it’s not even a question on anyone’s mind.

These critters do not see our international borders as we do.

Honestly, we don’t have the best food system in the United States. It’s not like we have first-class healthy food that the citizens are eating anymore either.

It’s unfortunate. We have to be our own advocates and find practitioners that we can trust.

The moral of the story is don’t pretend like these parasites are not a thing because they are a thing.

It’s not directly attacking the heart so it’s not necessarily heartworm that’s doing this. It’s affecting your blood cells so your heart downstream have that impact.

It’s appropriate for what it’s seeing.

We had mentioned Babesia. It’s usually tick-borne. Is that right?

It usually is. I’ll be honest though. Not everyone remembers a tick bite. They can be so tiny like the size of a poppy seed. Who remembers that? There are some revealing studies out of Germany that show that you can get Lyme disease and coinfections from mosquitoes. They’ve followed it all the way through the larva to the mosquito stage, and proven it now in studies. It makes you wonder.

Through the summer months, everybody’s like, “I’m covered in mosquito bites,” and we think nothing of it. That’s why we got to take a good history like, “Was there anything at all like a crazy bug bite?” We got to dig deeper. We think maybe there was nothing but it is something.

Dog kisses can give you parasites.

You will think, “I don’t have that bullseye rash,” and 60% of them never see it anyway, so it’s the word of the wise.

It’s not always textbook as we come to learn. Let’s talk about Bartonella. How would Bartonella cause cardiac issues?

Bartonella is sneaky. It’s Gram-negative bacteria. It’s not a parasite but it’s still a very stealthy and sneaky bacteria, and it likes to piggyback with other bacteria or parasites. They work like frenemies a little bit. They are chipping away at the immune system together. That’s what I like to call them. Bartonella works by getting inside a white blood cell precursor that then travels, and its final location is the endothelium inside the blood vessels. Bartonella takes up residence in this white blood cell precursor. It is delivered to the exact site that it wants to be at in the blood vessels by our body’s natural way of forming the endothelium or the inside layer of the blood vessels.

When that happens, you have a pathogen that’s inside the inner layer of your blood vessels so the blood doesn’t flow right. There’s a lot of turbulence in the blood vessels. There’s a lot of stress and inflammation there. The body sees the problem in these certain areas. We think our bodies are wrong or there’s something wrong with us, but your body is always protecting you. If this bacteria gets inside the blood cells, your heart starts going crazy, and you start being diagnosed with these weird terms that doctors use. There’s nothing wrong. The real problem is usually there’s something stuck inside the circulatory system that doesn’t belong there and the body is seeing it. Bartonella is super sneaky and stealthy that it almost Trojan horses in.

We run myeloperoxidase in labs. Is that potentially something that you would see in this vascular inflammation?

Absolutely. There are lots of things you can look at. Bartonella and Babesia both are hard to get positive reads on, especially as you know with regular conventional blood work that hasn’t changed in 30 to 50 years. If these things are buried in tissues, they are not hanging out in the bloodstream. Our body’s immune cells would see them and say, “Attack. Kill.” These bugs are so smart. They are almost as old as we are. They are very stealthy so they get inside tissues and hide. The body has a difficult time removing these things and seeing all of the problems. I want people to understand that their body is always working for them, even if it feels like it’s not.

We have to get out of our way because our body is trying to do its best, and then we’re constantly providing more toxic substances and potentially more microbes that are hindering us all the time. Outside of some bug bites, where are some other common places that people might acquire these types of infections?

Let’s go with parasites first. I’ll go to the category of Babesia. Some parasites you can see. Some are intracellular and microscopic like Babesias. We think 30% to 50% of them are microscopic. You can’t see them anyway. Where do we get parasites? Most people think of third-world countries immediately, and that is one place, but the United States doesn’t have the cleanest tap water and drinking water these days. You can get H. pylori from the water supplies. Parasites are right in there with that as well, unfortunately. Getting educated on clean water, filtered water, distilled water or whatever is right for you and your family can be a protective mechanism against this parasite.

Some other places are animals. It pains me to say that dog kisses can give you parasites but they can so be careful. I have a friend back home whose husband was in the hospital that was first “confirmed” with a case of Rocky Mountain spotted fever, which is another coinfection of Lyme. The dog ended up having it and dying from it two months later. These things can be passed back and forth between humans and their pets. It’s like, “What came first? The chicken or the egg?”

You want to be careful about letting animals, especially animals you don’t know or haven’t been dewormed, lick you in the face. Another place is cat litter boxes. Toxoplasmosis is a parasite that can come from cat litter boxes, which is why we tell pregnant women not to clean them when they are pregnant. It can hurt the baby. Contaminated food is another place we can get it. Honestly, we don’t fully understand the relationship and ecosystem of all these parasites and bacteria to each other. We know they talk through quorum sensing across species. Even in family groups, it’s hard to know what exactly we’re sharing in the household.

Can you elaborate briefly on quorum sensing?

HHS 19 | Stealth Infections
Stealth Infections: The more toxic you are, the higher chances of attracting a bacterial and parasitic viral invasion because viruses are there to clean up.

It’s pretty fascinating. I first found out about quorum sensing in a discovery show where I was watching the bottom dwellers at the very bottom of the ocean. They light up in unison. All the squid and those clear jelly-like things down at the bottom of the ocean can light up in aqua, turquoise and pink colors. That’s because of the bacteria that inhabit all of those different bottom dwellers. They have a system where they can talk and light up at the same time. It’s a very symbiotic relationship.

What we know is that certain bacteria, viruses, and parasites as well form biofilms inside of bodies. They talk and communicate to know how to do this. Biofilm is like pond scum. It’s the stuff that’s on your teeth in the morning or the slimy stuff. Your body can’t see through that stuff. Your white blood cells have a hard time. It’s almost like an abscess. It’s walled off and your body can’t penetrate it. Once the bacteria form this biofilm, it’s like a colony of them all talking together in this gooey biofilm that your body can’t see. It causes real problems. What we know from biofilms is they are able to epigenetically turn genes on or off based on these certain biofilms. It’s amazing. It’s how bacteria communicate. It’s how they hide from us, form gangs and frenemies. We don’t fully understand the communication in this and what it can mean for households.

What we don’t know is a lot. It is a good reminder to all of us that we are not sterile. You can have the best hygiene in the world but you still have a lot of bugs and things interplaying in your human biology that is not human. Where might some of these bacteria or otherwise infections outside of some of these parasites come from?

They are in unclean water and dirty or contaminated food. All of these things play a part in the transference of bacteria, viruses and parasites. All these things are risks for most of the bugs. However, I hold a certain viewpoint that dirty terrain makes a dirty germ. What do I mean by that? The more poisoned your body is or full of toxic corporate and man-made junk like petroleum, plastics and pesticides, your toxin bucket fills up. I don’t blame the microbe. Let’s say Bartonella. Why is it there? You do have a toxin inside your circulatory system. They are there to decompose because bacteria are great decomposers. They are there because they are eating something that shouldn’t be in the body, which is what we’re starting to believe.

Viruses also have chemical communication in the body. They work by cleaning up cellular debris. The fungus also eats bacteria. There’s a big ecosystem. Let’s take a different perspective here. How do you get these pathogens? You can get them from contaminated food, water, pets and third-world countries. There are many places you can get this stuff. Why are you getting it? Not everyone gets it. Why? That’s the real question for me. The answer in my professional opinion, and there’s some evidence but nothing is set in stone, is that the more toxic you are, the higher chances are of attracting a bacterial, parasitic, or viral invasion because they are there to clean up.

You’ve mentioned the toxic bucket and how full your bucket is. If you’re already up to the brim and you come into some sort of infection, your body is going to have a lot more to work against to clear that. When we talk about parasites, whenever I mention that to patients or in passing, they’re like, “I don’t have a tapeworm.” I’m like, “I’m not talking about a tapeworm.” As you said, so many are microscopic.

People do think of these crazy parasites that you would know if they were there, and it’s not the case.

I don’t think that you’re going to always be this muscle-wasting patient that has a large tapeworm. There are so many variations that we have to keep on our radar. Just because we’re not a third-world country, we can’t dismiss this. Would you compile mold into this as well?

I think of mold as a chemical warfare agent. Is it biological? Yes. Is it natural on Earth? Yes. Mold grows everywhere on Earth, but why is it so detrimental to humans in modern society if it’s meant to be on Earth? It is a lot of our modern-day building practices and lifestyle choices at this point. I consider it more of a toxin than a pathogen because it lowers the immune system so much. It is the igniter of other diseases or the causative agent for why you would be a hospitable vessel to other pathogens or microbes.

Parasites are worst around the full moon because you produce less melatonin and more serotonin.

We don’t live in a bubble. We’re going to come into contact with it. We have these certain kinds. We do have mycotoxin. It’s not even just the microbe but also toxins from that microbe, and then they recirculate, is your body clearing it, and all the things.

Absolutely, with mold and a lot of bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria have these endotoxins that they produce. A lot of times, it’s not even the microbe making us sick. It’s the by-product of them digesting and eating things away. Mycotoxins are competing for food a lot of times. They produce these volatile organic compounds that damage your DNA. It’s a warfare agent.

What would be some characteristic signs that people should look out for if they’re thinking, “I had some mold that I’ve since taken care of,” or maybe they haven’t yet, or “I ate some questionable sushi.” What should people be on the lookout for?

Thank you for saying sushi. I should have named that in the food category for parasites. I used to love sushi but I know too much now. I’m no fan at all. With mold or parasites, some of these symptoms overlap. I’m going to try and tease out some individual ones for each one so people can know, and I’ll tell you the ones that overlap because these things run together. They don’t usually run alone. With mold specifically, a lot of people have these weird pins and needles sensations on their extremities. It’s neuropathy from mitochondrial damage. People who get chemotherapy have that type of symptom. That’s the same process.

People will not be able to hold their urine at night. You’ll see children start bedwetting again that were potty-trained. You’ll see adults have to get up multiple times at night to relieve themselves because mold inhibits antidiuretic hormone. Antidiuretic hormone means you hold onto fluids. If you inhibit it, you’re peeing. It is what is inhibited when you drink alcohol. It’s the same process that way. For people with mold, there’s an immune process in the brain that spins the immune system out. They have a lot of sequelae from that.

They start having insomnia because there’s less melatonin production. They start having pain and inflammation sometimes because there’s endorphin production. Their immune system goes haywire so they get staph infections in the nose. They got lots of other Candida. It’s the mold’s little dirty cousin that likes to hang out and play. These things are a common occurrence with mold illness.

The more classic symptoms are itchiness, runny eyes and nose, sneezing or shortness of breath, which parasites can cause too. You may even have some weight gain where it inhibits and destroys the leptin cells in the brain. The body’s natural response is to increase the receptors, and that causes weight gain of 500 calories a day for some people.

There are some things that parasites make people do that are unique to them. People will grind their teeth at night. A lot of times, people have teeth issues like root canals that are infected or mercury fillings, and parasites love to inhabit those teeth. Your body’s natural defense is to clinch when they’re moving around at night because they’re nocturnal. It causes a lot of TMJ, clicking jaws or sore jaws. That’s one thing to look for.

Another thing unique to parasites is they are worse around the full moons. You produce less melatonin and more serotonin, which is parasite party food that makes them mobile at night. There’s more stress and more clinching in the body. You may have anxiety and insomnia around full moons. Rectal itching is another super sexy trait that comes with them, and even dairy sensitivity.

Your lactose intolerance, especially strong loiasis are some of the bigger parasites that are causing issues. A lot of skin rashes come with both mold and parasites like eczema, hives, and psoriasis. All of these are very common if you’ve got parasites under the skin in the fascia or mold. The body is trying to push those mold spores out.

That’s very elaborate, and even with affecting the hormones. I got so much great information. Would you expect some of these symptoms to worsen as you’re clearing some of these molds or parasites?

Yes. If we’re right about the toxin overload, we’re not just mobilizing the microbes. We’re mobilizing whatever toxin is there that attracted them in the first place. The biggest problem I see with this is if you have fat-loving or fat-soluble toxins. When you start to lose weight and get into the nitty-gritty of the detox that most of us want, you may feel worse because you’re liberating those toxins from the adipose tissue, and certain people feel that.

HHS 19 | Stealth Infections
Stealth Infections: People with mold specifically have needle sensations on their extremities, and it’s literally from neuropathy from mitochondrial damage.

That’s what I tell patients often. Everybody wants to detox. They’re like, “New year, new me. I’m going to detox,” but it feels like trash. It’s not always glamorous. What you have is an actionable item that is great for people to know and understand. I’ll let you go ahead and elaborate on Kill, Bind and Sweat.

I was telling Dr. Lauren that it sounds like I’m an S&M doctor. It sounds super dangerous or sexy. No one is sure. It caught on because the title is catchy and it’s a very practical step that people can take. They understand it. This is a protocol that I wouldn’t have people start on if they’re sick. It’s a second-tier protocol for people. Once you know that you are pooping and sleeping okay, you have pretty good energy, and you don’t feel like trash all day long, your detox or drainage pathways are pretty open. They’re your bowels, liver, sweat, lymph, and all of those.

If I were to do Kill, Bind and Sweat with you without doing that first, you would not like me anymore. We would not be friends, and you wouldn’t want to talk to me. I always try and prep the patient beforehand. Don’t jump into this right away before you prep your body properly. That’s the disclaimer. Kill means you’re taking a herbal antimicrobial, which I prefer. If you’re doing something for Candida, maybe you do Nystatin or something very mild like that, or some herbs like oil of oregano and cloves. I use a lot of different killers for this like barberry. There are so many things.

You want to wait about twenty minutes and take a binder of your choice. I love CellCore binders because I think they are the best on the market. They caused a blood-brain barrier that doesn’t stay in the gut. I usually have them take one of those because it’s also not going to strip your nutrition like cholestyramine. It’s going to add nutrition. You get in a sauna or have a nice, hot and sweaty workout.

What this process is trying to emulate is killing a pathogen that shouldn’t be there, or something that’s in your body that’s overloading it. We take a binder to mop up the toxins that we killed, which makes you feel pretty crummy, and then sweat that out of the body. We don’t want that staying in the body and recirculating throughout the entire hepatic system.

I couldn’t agree more on CellCore. It goes more systemic and it’s not just binding up what’s in the gut. We know, as you mentioned with skin and everything else, it ends up everywhere. It’s cleaning up the muck in the brain and all kinds of stuff. Where can our audience learn a little bit more about you, Kill, Bind and Sweat, and some of the other wonderful information that you put out to all of us?

I have tiers or a hierarchy to how much you want to be involved. If you like free information, that’s stellar. I like giving information to people and teaching because not everyone has the luxury to be able to afford things. I’m very active on social media for those reasons. I’m starting to hate it so I don’t know how much more I’ll be on it, to be honest with you, because I’m not able to speak freely. I love to teach the general populous that is interested. It’s so fun. I do a lot of free stuff on there. Go check it out. If you’d rather read blogs and get a bigger picture or story, I have DrJessMD.com. There are a bunch of blogs on parasites and mold, a lot of stuff that we talked about, Epstein-Barr, even H. pylori, and environmental toxicities in general and how to heal yourself.

If you want even more where you can interact with me, I answer your questions on a community forum. You can write in and I will do a root cause quickie for you on a certain condition. We have bi-monthly webinars where I spend two hours talking to you and answering questions. If that’s more your speed, that’s WellnessPlus. That’s the subscription app on my website, App.DrJessMD.com. There are a lot of different packages there. If you want to try it out for a month, it’s $49.

Viruses also have chemical communication in the body. They work by cleaning up cellular debris. The fungus also eats bacteria. There’s a big ecosystem.

I wanted to ask you one other question that I get a lot, which is on the topic of mold. It’s houseplants. What is your idea on houseplants?

You may have gotten me because I don’t know if I have a definitive answer for you on this. There are certain plants that are prone to that and can carry spores around them for sure. Are you asking specifically should you take houseplants with you when you live in a water-damaged house?

No. Patients that have them are like, “I love the plants in my home. Do I have to get rid of them?”

I don’t think so, but you have to be careful if you live in a water-damaged home because the spores hang in the air and they like to bury into porous things like chairs, couches, mattresses and books. You can clean them and plants too. Most people, unless they’re extremely sensitive, are okay with plants for the most part. If you had an ERMI score above 12 or 14 and you have sensitive genes for mold, I would be careful with plants.

Sometimes that bucket is smaller and the threshold is low.

Those people have a genotype where they are made to smell the problem immediately when they walk into a building. Your body reminds you immediately, “This isn’t good. I feel dizzy and weird,” and there’s nothing wrong with you. It’s saying get the heck out of there. You can’t handle it because the way your genes work, they don’t recognize a certain pathogen protein to be able to bind to it and get rid of it like other genotypes.

It’s like the canary in a coal mine. It’s not a bad thing. It’s just heightened sensitivity. I have one final question for you that I like to ask all of the people that join us on the show. How do you live a heart-healthy lifestyle?

My favorite thing in the world to do every day that makes me feel great is to move my body. If you have a body, it’s such a privilege. If you have a healthy body, what an honor. It’s almost like church to move your body. It’s a celebration and worship of the vessel that always works for you. I never want to take that for granted. I know how healthy that is for my heart and my circulatory system. I know how great it makes me feel and raises my mood. I wish everyone on the planet would move their body and sweat every day.

It is such a blessing that we have the ability and we’re able to do that. Use what you got. Thank you so much for joining us. Hopefully, we’ll have you back on the show because you’ve got so much wonderful information to put out there to our audience, and they should have access to this. I sincerely appreciate it. Hopefully, we’ll talk again soon.

I’d be honored. Thank you.

Thank you so much. That wraps up another episode of the show. Thank you for reading.

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About Dr. Jessica Peatross

Dr. Jessica Peatross has a passion for uncovering the mystery behind the chronic illness, whether that be stealth infections, heavy metals, stress, trauma or other environmental toxicities. She is visionary for the future of healthcare and left her position as a board-certified, internal medicine hospitalist to pursue Functional Medicine in order to better serve her patients. By getting to the real, root cause answers for WHY the body might be malfunctioning.
Her philosophy embraces that health encompasses the whole patient – mind, body, and spirit – and Dr. Jess has become one of the most-sought after Functional Medicine Leaders. She is known for her ability to help identify the root cause of illness, most oftenly traced back to hidden, stealth infections like Lyme, parasites and mold, Dr. Jess’s area of expertise.
After graduating Magna Cum Lade with a BA in Biology, a minor in Psychology, and earning her medical degree from University of Louisville, Dr. Jess worked as a hospitalist for 6 years before beginning to experience what many of her patients experienced, deep anxiety, hormonal imbalances, and adrenal dysfunction. In the process of trying to heal herself, she sought answers to uncover the root cause of disease – something she thought she had learned in medical school, but realized she had not. She began to investigate alternatives to today’s modern medical industry that “treats every ill with a pill.”
Dr. Jess left her hospitalist position and became trained in Gerson Therapy, Functional Medicine, Nutrigenomics, and Ozone Therapy and quickly uncovered that 90% of disease is a result of lifestyle, diet, and environment as well as discovered that the body has all the answers to heal and reverse chronic disease.
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