CFS Radio Program
Feb 1st, 1998
Roger G. Mazlen, M.D. Host
Dr. Dennis Gersten
We have an exciting guest today, Dr. Dennis Gersten. Dr. Gersten is a
diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He practices
psychiatry and metabolic medicine in Solana Beach, California and there he
specializes in treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in a variety of ways, but
importantly, one of the ones he wants to concentrate or focus on today is the
use of amino acids. He's also the author of a book "Are You Getting
Enlightened or Losing Your Mind", a spiritual program for mental fitness
which is published by Random House. Let's go right now to Solana Beach,
California. Welcome to our guest, Dr. Dennis J. Gersten.
Dr. Mazlen, thank you so much.
Dr. Gersten, good morning and welcome to our show. Thanks for getting up
early out there. I introduced you but I'd like you to give our audience some
idea of how you got into treating Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. What brought
you into this?
Well, I was trained as a traditional psychiatrist who saw basically psychiatric
problems and did not deal much with medical problems until October of 1984
when I came down with pneumonia and when the pneumonia was essentially
cured, I was not. I later found out, years later, that I had Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome. So I was one of those early people who had that kind of experience
that feels like you are losing your mind which is part of what the book is
about, that I didn't know what it was and I didn't get better for years and
and years, so I began the search that many people listening to the show begin
on their own, which is that they discover that their traditional medical doctor
cannot help them very much so they become experts in the world's health care
system. And that's what I did.
Well, that's certainly an interesting way to get involved and since you've
gotten involved there are a number of issues and things that we want to talk to
you about. You're treating patients in a way which might be construed as
alternative when it comes to imagery as well. I notice from your material that
you submitted that you do some imagery techniques, you do a variety of
things, but you focus on an area which is metabolic which is the aspect of
amino acids. What were some of your findings with regards to amino acids
and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
Well, I stumbled across a lab called Atron Labs in about 1982. It was headed
up by a fellow named Don Tyson who is an amazing wealth of information
about amino acids. So I actually had been treating my patients with amino
acids years before I treated myself and I watched myself not getting better
from this approach and that approach, from deep constitutional homeopathy to
a whole variety of nutritional approaches and finally I said to myself, and this
was clear into 1989, I said to myself, "You better start treating yourself the
way you've been treating your patients for years." Now the amino acid
approach... Sometimes I have a hard time explaining to people the power of
the approach, but basically, there are 22 amino acids and they are the building
blocks for the 40,000 plus proteins in our bodies. So that means, for example,
with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a great many symptoms in your body are
going to be metabolically completely out of whack and you've already
discussed some of the symptoms and frankly, just to hear them again is
terrible. It's quite a reminder, oh my God, this is such a terrible illness!
But there's going to be deficiencies, as you know, in terms of brain chemistry,
that in terms of amino acid testing is going to show up in the precursors to
norepinephrine, serotonin, etc. So, you'll find people with Chronic Fatigue
who are deficient in tyrosine or tryptophan on a regular basis. The other
important thing that I've seen over these many years is Chronic Fatigue is a
multi-system failure. So some people focus on, for example, limbic system
encephalopathy. What I've found is clearly, you have central nervous system
problems, you have immune system problems, you frequently have GI tract
problems and you have endocrine problems, problems with the adrenal,
pancreas, thyroid and pituitary. So, I can't advise someone, for example, over
the phone, and say "You have Chronic Fatigue, here is a package I will give
you." I need to test somebody, because the testing is so complex it needs to be
analyzed very, very carefully. And then I put together a program which is
highly targeted and it may be an awful lot of supplements. People may be
taking, you know, 10 different kinds of amino acids adjusted in correct ratios.
So, you're not going to find two patients that are going to require the exact
Well, that fits in with what I've seen over 20 some odd years which is that all
the cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome are biologically individualistic, so your
approach fits the schema that I have seen over these many years. You
mentioned in some material that was on the Internet or in email that the main
most commonly deficient amino acids were as you said the phenylalanine,
tryptophan and tyrosine, all of which are involved in energizing the brain and
the central nervous system. If you treat somebody with amino acids, you
replace these things. Assuming that they are a responder, how long does it
take usually for them to respond, more or less?
Well, I'll tell you this. A lot of people will feel results in three days.
of major results, 30 days and that's not an exaggeration and over a period of
three months you begin to see very serious metabolic shifts. After 6 months I
retest people. At that point they are going to be improved in so many areas
that I can decrease the amount of amino acids that they're on.
So, actually, it helps them financially also, because they can take less. One of
the things we are going to talk about after the break in a few minutes, I'd like
you to compose a few theories as to why Chronic Fatigue patients are so
deficient in amino acids. After all they don't all have eating disorders,
certainly not all anorexics, they're not all bulemics, so you know, a question
would arise from a scientific standpoint as to what might be going on. We're
going to talk about that just shortly after the break. I wanted to ask you also
when we get back and we start to talk about things in the second half of the
show, a little bit about the imagery techniques and whether or not they're also
Dennis, let me go right to what we were talking about before. Maybe you have
a theory as to how this comes about.
Yes, absolutely, will it be okay if I gave the 800 number regarding my book
The 800 number is 546-6707 and that's where people can pick up the book
"Are You Getting Enlightened or Losing Your Mind" and the book covers so
much of the mental and spiritual aspects of this illness. You know, how to
deal with it. Obviously, you have a lot of people that are simply not cured.
And so you need to work on your belief systems. You need to tap into your
spirituality. You need to find whatever it is that brings you a sense of
strength to get through what is a pretty devastating change in your life,
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
I certainly second what you say in every way. And hopefully, maybe later on
I'll have a chance to read the book and we can do a show later on in the spring
about more of the details and I would welcome that. What about this theory
that you have about the causation? Why are they so deficient?
Well, the causation to me, again, it seems pretty obvious that Chronic Fatigue
is what we doctors call the final common pathway. And you can get to that
pathway through so many directions. You can get there starting with a major
infection as I had, you can get there through environmental toxins, you can get
there because the soil has been leeched of its nutrients since 1936. You know
the US government has known since 1936 that the soil must be replenished of
its nutrients, especially its nutrients every three years. So, we're lacking in
those areas. I personally had an additional stress which was that I was on high
doses of prednisone for corneal transplants, I had two corneal transplants, and
we know that prednisone just wipes your immune system. I personally had
some of those other strange associations. For example, there is an association
of people who have cats with upper respiratory tract infections. Well, there's a
higher incidence of people with cats with those chronic infections that have
CFS, much more so than the average population. Then you have emotional
stress, which comes in two forms. You can have either severe acute stress, just
overwhelming acute stress or and this is something that I've seen since the
beginning of recognizing this illness, people who were abused as children are
far more prone to developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
That's fascinating. Do you have some data on that you can share with me after
I don't have data. It's just something that you know and I know. I have a
theory about it which is pretty simple which is the early years of life when you
have normal parental bonding, that love is both psychological and
physiological. When you have severe abuse or neglect, and they both work the
same way, you have a fracture in that trust and in that love and there's
something that kind of claws away inside and it begins to erode the immune
system, I believe, over a period of 20 or 30 years.
I certainly believe that. I used to be a consultant to a major psychiatric
for eating disorders and I used to make inpatient rounds with anorexics,
bulemics and obsessive overeaters and there's no doubt that the immune
system suffers under the kind of severe stress of childhood abuse, whether its
emotional abuse, physical or sexual. You're right on to something there I'm
sure. We need to talk about it more. What about doing some imaging with
patients? Does that help to some degree?
Well, yes, in terms of my protocol, in terms of mind-body technologies.
Number 1, I have people find out how their mind actually works, how many
thoughts they run per day and the average person runs about 15,000 thoughts
per day in which at least half of those are negative. And we know that our
thoughts turn into our emotions and our emotions turn into physiology. So, my
starting point is to illustrate to people how the mind works, not in a Freudian
sense, much more an Eastern sense. I have people actually count their
thoughts over a 30 second period and then multiply it out and then figure out
in a given day how many thoughts they're having. I then encourage meditation
as a starting point and I find mantra meditation is the easiest and most
powerful, so every patient who comes into my office will come up with their
own mantra which basically will always come out as their belief system, not
my belief system.
You allow them the choice.
It comes out as their religion and spiritual traditon. Number 1, the mind has to
be slowed down, you know you need to start to have peace of mind through
some form of meditation the analogy I like to use is that the mind is like a
garden. Meditation is weeding the garden and once the garden is weeded, then
you want to begin mental imagery, which is planting the proper seeds in that
Do you go into that in the book?
Yes, very much so.
So, for members of our listening audience, since the book is published by a
major publishing house it will be available to them in most major book stores
or they can order it.
Right, I would say the order of importance: number 1; mantra meditation,
number 2; a whole host of stress reduction imagery techniques, number 3; I
developed a pain control imagery technique years ago which is very powerful,
it drops pain by about 40 percent in about 5 minutes and this is something
when you learn it you do it throughout the day as pain arises, because again
that's another major problem.
Pain is a major stressor for patients.
It's a major stressor. And then the deepest imagery work is what are called
symbolic imageries. And those are the ones, they're not canned, they're not
formula. They're the kind where I would say to someone, you know, get in
touch with everything that Chronic Fatigue is to you, what your thoughts are,
what your body feels like and allow an image to emerge that represents
Chronic Fatigue and that symbol can be anything in the world. It can be alive,
not alive. It can be a person, an animal, an object and then you actually enter
into kind of a dialog with that symbol. And that gets so deep it transcends 10
years of psychoanalysis literally.
Well, that's certainly an advantage if that can be done. We're going to head for
another break in a minute or two and I just want to say that when we come
back I'd like you to have a number for the listening audience where they can
contact you in regard to your therapeutic approaches such as the amino acid
therapy. Your information is a treasure house and we obviously can't cover it
in one show. I'm going to invite you on the air to join with us again, as I
I'm going to read the book and I'm going to make sure I'm prepared to go into
more of the details when we get back on the air.
Dennis what about a number for getting information on the amino acid
My office number is 619-794-8814 and the number for the book is
Also, obviously, we're going to have Dr. Gersten on as a guest, hopefully,
again in the spring because he has a great deal to say and there are many
things to learn from his experience. Just one final thing, in terms of treating
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you did mention though when I spoke to you
privately that most patients are somewhat an individual and they respond
differently. Not everybody responds to the amino acid therapy as well as
That's correct. The one reasonable study that's been done with a control study
with 50 people showed 75% were either cured or had a dramatic response,
15% had a moderate response and the remaining 10% had little or no relief. I
would say the biggest problem I have is the people who are chemically
sensitive, you know the people who you give them a teeny, teeny amount of
any nutritional supplement and they react to it. Those are the ones that are
really tough, those with environmental illnesses and severe chemical
So, they obviously fall into the 10% failure group because they just can't
complete their therapy as desired.
Right, they are a very tough group.
It's very interesting. I want to ask you something. In your experience since
you've been following this disease so long, are you seeing what would seem to
you to be more cases of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome outside of the fact that
more people are aware of it?
Yes, I would say I am seeing more cases of it and I think there's a lot, as Dr.
Majid Ali, who's in your neck of the woods there, who wrote the Canary and
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and he feels like we're approaching an epidemic in
the next century. And so what I see, of course, is a lot of people with
full-blown Chronic Fatigue and I see a lot of people who are right on the edge
and if they continue down their current path they're going to have Chronic
Fatigue. There are an awful lot of folks like that.
Well, that fits in with what I've been also seeing because I have been treating
the disease since the early 1980's. I think there's a problem accruing with
their immune systems. So, your work is extremely important for us to follow.
Transcribed by Carolyn Viviani firstname.lastname@example.org