Michael Ash interviewed colleague Dr Rita Ellithorpe MD for CAM on the clinical application of a patent pending form of phospholipids known as glycophospholipids and commercially sold as NT Factor and referred to as Lipid Replacement Therapy® (LRT®).
Unusually for many food supplements, glycophospholipids have been the primary ingredient in a number of research papers, some of which has had Dr Ellithorpe as a primary contributor. Her colleagues in this work have included Prof Garth Nicolson and Dr Settenari. References relating to some of these studies may be found at the end of the interview. LRT® is scientifically validated in 9 preclinical and clinical trials over the past 15 years, with millions of doses safely taken by consumers. More than 25 articles in scientific and medical journals have been published on its benefits.
Can you tell me a little of your respect of background and clinical life?
My background is being raised by a father in Armour Food Research Sciences which has meant I have been intimately involved in the knowledge of food and its impact on health all of my life. For my education I majored in the sciences obtaining my bachelors in chemistry and biochemistry prior to attending medical school.
Once in medical school I quickly became aware that the educational focus was not on identifying how to preserve health. Rather, we were driven to just uncover when the disease process reaches the point you can, through protocol, address those qualifications to fit a diagnosis and then implement pharmaceutical, imaging and surgical intervention. Nothing was taught to define where health is and how to preserve it.
For my 30+ years of being an active physician, I have remained in general practice, or family practice. In the beginning I completed 9 years in the army medical corps, military medicine and flight surgery. I ran the emergency rooms and aviation clinics and set out to remain a general practitioner seeing all clinical problems from delivering children to taking care of the elderly.
Then I went to work with Dr Stanislaw R. Burzynski, M.D., Ph.D to help him run his clinic when he was under FDA investigation and trial for a year during 1996-1997. After that I went to Dr Julian Whitaker’s Wellness institute. As his first female Dr I helped him set up his approach to prevention and wellness and natural hormone therapies for women.
I then went on to do a doctorate (Ph.D) in integrative medicine on the East Coast at Capital University and spent 2 years completing that while still working full time seeing a full array of patients from acute care to preventive care. With conditions ranging from autoimmune, cardiovascular, natural hormone, musculoskeletal, chronic fatigue, chronic infectious disease, human papilloma virus issues, herpes recurrent issues, to lymes disease as well. I also treat autistic children and depression and continue to work in this general integrative practice.
Tell me about your research and publications
In 1998 I started publishing on cell signaling, gene suppressor activity while I was working at Dr Burzynski’s. I published in the journal ‘medical oncology’ I later published on food research and have been publishing annually ever since. These papers are on my findings with regard to cell membrane repair, chronic fatigue and addressing all disease entities across the board. From supporting post-chemo or inter-chemo therapy for cancer treatments to sustaining their energy, to the athlete trying to optimise his performance.
What about presenting and books?
I’ve spoken for and am now a board member of the American Academy for the Advancement of Medicine (ACAM). I’ve presented many lectures and have written a book on detoxification. I have been intimately involved with EDTA chelation therapy, from the intravenous format I received in my youth under the supervision of my father and Food Research up until present as a physician chelating myself and in the last 12 years using the suppository method. I have published the pharmacokinetics on this.
I understand that you are really focused on patients with persistent fatigue.
Yes, because all disease, all patients, all human beings, all biological life experience fatigue via expression of cell membrane dysfunction. I don’t care whether it is defined as depression, or whether it’s their personal declaration that their energy is not as good as it was.
All disease, all injury, all mood disorders present with the symptom complex called fatigue and this state is directly due to cell membrane malfunction and injury.
The membrane signaling is compromised. The internal activities of the intracellular organelles are disrupted and this chronic disruption, may also lead to the altered signaling that leads to the cancer pathways that are associated with lack of tumour suppressor gene and oncogene expression, called the Ras gene. I have focused on this for over 30+ years.
Glycophospholipids sound complicated can you explain what they are?
Our cell membranes are composed of a bi–lipid layer largely composed of phospholipids with a glucose moiety attached to them and these fats are obtained through our diet, such as meat, egg yolks, fish, turkey, chicken, beef, foods rich in glycophospholipids. Unfortunately we have gone through over 40 years of the medical biased institutions that have promulgated the philosophy that we should be on a no-fat or low-fat diet and that steaks and eggs are bad for you. As an independent statement, this is wrong and in my view the population has suffered a severe lack of the necessary amino acids and fatty acids in their daily diet by the scare tactics of this ill informed medical establishment and pharmaceutical driven establishment.
Glycophospholipids compose the membrane of every cell in our body and require constant daily repair. This is an ongoing need, when I was a young physician in the military; we were in based in the goat labs to develop expertise for advance trauma life support. In one experiment I was involved in, a goat was wounded in its buttock after we had taken its blood profiles which were excellent chemistries and lipid panels. Within 15 minutes after the gunshot wound the cholesterol lipid profile dramatically increased and continued to do so over the next 24 hours.
This response is directly related to the fact that tissue cell membrane was disrupted and the released cytokines and damaged particles of the cells were, circulated, and bound to chemo-receptors. Mostly these are found in the liver acting as sentinels to confirm that tissue cellular membrane damage has occurred. These signals then promote the liver to engage in repair strategies, which include the release of cholesterol.
Here again the established medical society has it wrong. Cholesterol is a wonderful signal to all physicians who are willing to learn the truth. Rising cholesterol reflects that there are damaged cells throughout the body. This is just from aging or it can be due to an acute disease process that’s emerging.
Glycophospholipids have to be available abundantly, daily, just for us to survive as we are constantly exposed to solar radiation, environmental toxins and other challenges, including our own emotional state, as tension and anger will produce increased epinephrine and influence cell membrane metabolism. This in turn generates free radicals that can be cell membrane damaging and must be mitigated by our chemistry all the time. Lifestyle habits including alcohol, drugs, eating a high refined carbohydrate diet also produce microvascular blockage and cellular anoxia throughout the body. You may have experienced this after a heavy meal as a sensation of fatigue; at this stage you are literally damaging cell membranes in your brain.
Fatigue is the first expression of cell damage, no matter what the cause. Glycophospholipids are not complicated, they are in our diet and they are needed on a daily basis.
So why does membrane repair offer such significant energy improvement?
When cell membranes are intact their receptor surface is able to perform their unique functions and intercellular and intracellular communication can occur without signaling for fatigue. Once the membrane is damaged, uninterrupted intracellular communication cannot take place and the intercellular communication cannot function properly. This is expressed as the physical sense of fatigue, induced because you are not getting the optimal work out of the cell.
I explain this to my patients all the time using this analogy:
I may have good information as a physician. I may be working with them. But if the roof has holes in it and the windows are broken and the rain is coming in and the birds are flying by us the patient will get up and leave. No matter how good my information is because the exterior environment of my office is in disarray it overrides my ability to transfer my knowledge to them.
I have to have a safe environment, windows, roof and climate to exchange information to help my patients. Each of my patients then clearly understands that and they understand why I focus on cell membrane repair and they readily accept every nutritive guide I give them because I take the time with each to help them understand how they should heal their own bodies.
This is then reflected in the gains in health of all my patients regardless of their disease expression from depression to psoriasis to peripheral vascular disease to cancer. I have many chemotherapy patients undergoing treatment all returning with a sense of improved well being, energy and optimism.
How many patients have you treated?
I have treated innumerable patients but for every single patient I treat I approach with a same simple foundational teaching which should be in every medical school but sadly is not.
Are there any contraindications?
Absolutely not, there is no one, no biological entity, from animal to human that does not need cell membrane supportive care on a daily basis. Plus there are those that need additional support such as the athlete, and the chemo patient and the elderly. There are no contraindications.
Have you experienced any adverse or toxic responses?
I would say, 99.9% of the time no. On a rare occasion in a patient who is diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disorders, such as, Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis has to be managed with lower starting doses. When I start to repair them I always begin with healing their gastrointestinal tract (GIT) because it is through the GIT that I predominately administer my treatments. If I supplement with a high dose of glycophospholipids they may actually experience a detox reaction through the sudden input of proper cellular function symptoms of which may include fatigue, nausea or diarrhea.
So, with wisdom, although I must reiterate this is extremely rare, when commencing treatment with the most unwell of my gastrointestinal patients, I have learned to proceed with glycophospholipid supplementation a little slower.
But, I would like to largely leave you with the idea that I have no toxic responses. No symptom induction from glycophospholipid is harmful and in my experience just a few patients have needed more care on dosing regimen. I will, based on my experience in research and clinical settings insist that the glycophospholipids be maintained, just reduce the dose.
Is the treatment ongoing or do the membranes remain fixed?
It is a daily input, I do it myself, I have for almost 15 years. Remember the cell membranes are always undergoing free radical stress/repair. I explain this to my patients by using a picture of a cell membrane in a cartoon fashion being hit by a free radical disrupting it and right next to it I have that same membrane in a repaired fashion. This gives them a visual image of what they are trying to repair as they use their nutrients. I explain to them that life is a process of building up more and more damaged membranes as the decades roll on in their life and their ability to repair declines.
A critical time comes in their age where their rate of repair during sleep does not keep up with their performance demands and they develop too many damaged cell membranes.
Whether the membrane damage is just from aging or an illness it changes their performance. For the acutely ill person, they have a fever and are encouraged to retire to bed. For the aging person they just don’t have the endurance they had before. These patients clearly understand the membrane imagery I use at every visit and understand as I re-emphasize it. They clearly understand that all through their life, just from using their body, they are designed to commit to membrane repair.
So with great enthusiasm my patients embrace the knowledge of why they should diminish their toxic behaviours, improve their lifestyle and focus on cell membrane repair. This is why I have probably the lowest morbidity, mortality rate of any physician in the United States and I will stand by that.
Is the treatment only suitable for patients with fatigue?
No. Fatigue is what we all experience as we age because ultimately we will never keep up with the rate of cell membrane damage. So this is the battle we have and this is what I explain to my patients. So I recommend it to the young, I also recommend it to pregnant women. My patients using glycophospholipids have produced remarkably healthy and neurologically sound children, even when born premature. At 28 weeks they are developed enough to suck!
Do you find that the published studies outcomes are reflected in your clinical experience?
100% yes, from the cancer patients whose fatigue is abated as the therapeutic goals of the chemotherapy are achieved without interruption or requiring transfusion. Yes to the athlete whose performance is enhanced.
How do you see the treatment being used with drugs? Is it complementary? Integrative?
Absolutely, in fact, I have a process whereby most my patients are able to come off of their polypharmacy. This in part is due to the fact that this is supportive to membrane function, therefore the assistance of intercalating pharmacokinetic interaction is no longer needed. So, it is complementary and there is no situation ever where this will be a danger to the polypharmacy and I have patients coming to me with as many as 10, 12, 15 medications that they are on.
Many patients undergoing chemotherapy experience profound fatigue. Some 30% claim never to recover their energy again. Is this treatment of use for these patients?
Yes, I have patients who have gone through total bone marrow transplant for their chemotherapeutic intervention for their cancer state and always they return stating their physicians cannot believe their endurance, their health, their recovery rate and their ability to withstand the chemotherapeutic agents. After they complete their treatments they recover their original energies.
Have you ever found it helpful with memory deficits and other aspects of aging?
Yes, without doubt and we have published on this improved cell membrane function. From brain cell neuron myelin sheath to bone cells, we find improved healing, improved memory and the slowing down of aging. My clinical labs monitor inflammatory studies; I have patients that are nonagenarians at one end and very young children the other. I see the reduction in inflammatory cytokines, inflammatory sedimentation rate, HS-CRP, homocysteine and the like, and all of my patients without exception, again I say without exception, completely improve with the use of this including my elderly with memory problems.
Immune dysfunction often causes fatigue, have you seen an improvement in non-specific immunity to run alongside energy recovery?
Yes. The largest, immune dysfunction of course, occurs in the cancer patients that I see as part of my general population, especially those who are in concurrent chemotherapeutic treatment using oral and IVs. I witness them able to sustain their chemotherapies, that their white blood cell counts did not require the immune Neupogen shots or transfusions. They are able to stay on course with their treatment protocols. I also see a vast number of patients coming to me with low white blood cell counts that I never saw 10, 20, 30 years ago, and without a doubt, with this approach, using glycophospholipids and accessory nutrients we see their total white blood cell count and lymphocyte panel improve in all aspects, from lymphocytes to neutrophils and so forth.
Where do you see the role of glycophospholipids in the future?
I see it that it should be taught in all medical schools, to all physicians, for all preventive medicine programs because cell membrane function is critical, as I have listed before.
Please list the overall clinical benefits you see of the long term treatment with glycophospholipids as used in NT factor.
I have patients who come to me over the years and will have them self admit that they stopped their NT factor for usually financial reasons and then, usually after 8 to 12 weeks, they come back on their follow up. When they see me, they tell me spontaneously, that their fatigue had returned within a few weeks and resolved again with the reinstatement of NT Factor.
What are the most substantial comments that you hear from your patients after taking NT Factor?
I would say their most substantial comments are the sense of wellbeing, a sense of better mental functions, a sense of enduring greater periods of stress and remaining healthy. Patients tell me they have less colds, they have less spontaneous injuries or joint problems that they sleep better, and that their digestion is better, in other words, in every aspect is improved. I have seen this again and again among my several thousand patient list. Most of these are Medicare age patients, or at least over the age of 50. They are able to identify the fact that every symptom complex that you expect in a general population has improved.
Describe the laboratory blood analysis, etc you see from the use of NT Factor?
Well, as I have mentioned before, cell membrane damage allows the intercellular free radicals to be released and we see an increase in inflammatory markers such as sed rate, HS-CRP and homocysteine. When they use this, they start seeing the reduction of this immediately, even within 4 weeks, all across the board. These inflammatory markers are uniformly reduced.
I must point out that I don’t just rely on glycophospholipids . I take the time to sit with the patient and tell him about all the functions that are important to wellbeing, such as getting enough good water, alkaline water, eating a low carb diet, getting enough protein in their diet at each and every meal, to eat less fruit, sugary diet, to try and avoid GM food, pesticides and herbicides. If required, I also detox them from heavy metals and so forth, but without a doubt this is the correct way to practice medicine and perform preventive medicine.
- 2011- Smart Youthful Energy Drink reduces fatigue in three hours
Functional Foods in Health and Disease 2011;8:245-254
* P Value of <0.0001 with 29 Participants in a three hour trial
- 2010 – NT Factor® reduces fatigue by 37% in one week.
Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association, Vol. 13 No.1, 2010, 10-14
* P Value of < 0.001 with N= 67 Participants
- 2003 – NT Factor® and a multi-vitamin complex Reduced Severe Fatigue by 40%
Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association, Vol. 6 No.1, 2003, 23 -28
* P Value <0.0001 with 34 Participants
- 2003 – NT Factor® reduces fatigue by 35.5% in severely fatigued participants.
Journal of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Vol. 3 No.2, 2000, 17-25
_ Use of NT Factor® restored cell membrane potential in 12 weeks to that seen in healthy adults in their late 20’s.
_ 12 week P Value <0.001
_ 8 week P Value <0.005
- 2002 – NT Factor® Spares the Age Related loss of Nerve Function in animals.
Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery, Volume 127, 2002, 138- 143
_ Prevented Age Related Loss of Nerve Function-Hearing in Harlan- Fisher Rats- P Value <0.002
- 2000 – Cancer Patients had an improved Quality of Life when Taking NT Factor® with a multi-vitamin complex
Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association, Vol. 3 No.2, 2000, 17-25
_ 81% of participants showed a lessening or no worsening of the common side effects of chemotherapy.