Testimony of William E. Baumzweiger
Neurology and Psychiatry
18399 Venture Blvd. #245
Tarzana, CA. 91356
Presentation to the Institute of Medicine: Gulf War Illness Its Etiology In Brainstem
Dysfunction And Its Treatment
Presented for Dr. Baumzweiger by Ruth McGIII, M.D.
The brainstem is a brain organ in which toxic, traumatic, microbial and other impacts can
interact in such a way that will cause chronic inflammatory disease. Such disease could immune
suppress the victim. causing eventually new and reactivated infections autoimmunity,and
dibilitation. The core constellation of signs and symptoms in Gulf War Illness is caused by
simultaneous dysfuntion of the nervous system, immune system and bodily membranes, all
negatively impacting on one another. As I indicated to this Institute last year, the disease process
appears to be centered in the brainstem. Eventually all parts of the nervous system as well as the
immune system manifest the characteristic pathology seen in this illness. The immune system
infects the nervous system and the Nervous System in turn Irritates the immune system via
The pathological process appears to be the result of cumulative effects from multiple
wartime'environmental insults: low levels neurotoxic gas, toxins from oil well fires,
pyridostigmine tablets, Insect repellants, "depleted Uranium" radiation, neurotoxic and
immunotoxic biological weapons. One researcher counted 33 different potential toxic sources in
the War Theater. Even the vaccines the fighters were given may have contributed to the severity
of their illness the diagnostic complexity of this illness.
The treatment of this disorder is complex, but has provided symptomatic relief for over 100
of my patients. It begins with the cooling down of excitotoxically inflamed neuros with
Dlhydrapyridine Calcium Channel blockers or GABA agonists. Ideally, both are used together.
Then anti-inflammatories are added to reduce the activity of the arachidonic, leukotrine, and
other inflammatory pathways. Then IV immune globulin is used to further stabilize the immune
system. IV anti-virals and IV antifungals are given to those patients who are not able to clear
microbial fragments out of their neurons and immune cells through the use of oral medications.
After the core neurological and Immune Inflammatory processes are brought under control,
the problems of tachycardia; blood pressure abnormalities, pulmonary dysfunction, pleuritis and
pericardial inflammation can then be addressed. The gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal, and other
systemic problems associated with this illness can then be treated.
Research studies of Dr. Robert Haley at Southwestern University have confirmed the
clinical findings. During a conversation Dr. Haley and I had, Dr. Haley had asked why I thought
the brainstem was so central to the process. I pointed out that abnormalities of the Cranial Nerve
nuclei were found in all ill Gulf War fighters with this syndrome as well as some ill civilians.
His subsequent research into the brainstem has followed from that conversation and confirmed
its essential ideas. His group has published two articles on the brainstem in this condition, and a
third is coming out shortly.
The clinical findings indicate this disease process invariably involves the spread of very
characteristic pathological to the multiple organ systems I have indicated. Many investigators,
including myself, have described CNS irritability. Headaches, photophobia, cranial nerve
nucleus dvsfunction, and even the onset of epilepsy are seen. Dysautonomia is present
manifested by orthostatic tachycardia and night sweats; as well as changes in perspiration.
Acoustic dysfunction with loss of hearing at low tones and decreased ability to locate sounds is
seen. Vagus nerve dysfunctlon is seen. Menstrual disorders and thyroid disorders, from defects
in pituitary function appear. The appearance of Diabetes, presumably from immune and / or
infectious etiologies is common.
Because of Vagal and autonomic dysfunction, digestive and other abdominal symptoms are
seen. Dysregulation of control over circulating blood volume and changes in vascular tone with
hypotension or hypertension suggest endocrine dysfunction affecting electrolyte balance and the
mechanisms of vascular control in the renal system and great vessels. Immune system activation
of coagulation is seen.
There is a connection between this neuroimmune disease and it's associated signs of
membrane hyperirritability, This irritability is seen in the irritable bowel and reactive airway
disease in the suffering from this illness. Irritability in the musculoskeletal system is frequently
seen as well. The membranes of the lungs, heart, bladder, and skin can demonstrate irritability.
Clinically explaining this required considerable time researching into and elaborating of
concepts as to how patients can develop pathological reactions to normal tissue after neumtoxle /
Neurotraumatic, and Neuroinfectious exposure.
The chronic infection / inflammation of the brainstem and other deep brain causes immune
suppression. This explains why Gulf War veterans not only have signs of Chemical and
Radiation Neurotoxicity, but have signs of high rates of post Gulf War infection from neurotoxic
/ neurotropic viruses and Mycoplasma. This chronic process also is the cause for the
neurobehavioral problems--often mistaken for "phychiatric" diseases such as PTSD or
Somatoform Disorders--thea these patients demonstrate.
This process can be worsened by further exposure to toxins, solvents, fumes, or subsequent
exposures to environmental pathogens. This process can be worsened by head injury, especially
whiplash. It can become chronic due to infection by neurotoxic microbes followed by
neurodisimmune conflict between immune and neural systems. The result is a vicious cycle of
CNS irritability, Immune attack on the neurons, and autoimmunity simultaneous with infection
by neurotropic / neurotoxic microbes. Along with this vicious cycle there arises a defect
in the ability to utilize oxygen on a tissue level. Membranes begin to break down leading to
inflammation in 'the linings of the lungs and heart. There is loss of energy at a tissue level, with
decreased resilience to; environmental impacts. These patients cannot tolerate light, loud noise,
odors, and foods or drugs. These patients can develop sleep apnea and other forms of
insomnia due to the brainstem disorder. They often need mechanical ventilation at night. They
develop abnormalities of their SPECT and PET scans due to the Excitotoxic, metabolic and
microbial damage. They all require examinations of the antibody levels to immune, neural and
microbial antigens. Proper testing will show autoantibodies, immune suppression, and invasion
by environmental pathogens. This illness requires very complex workup and treatment.
A. Dr. Haley will be happy to provide reprints of the articles that are mentioned.
B. Immune Mechanisms:
C. For lack of space, confirmatory data from myself and from Immunosciences Laboratory has
not been included, but is available on request.
- Prostaglandin Pathway
- Leukotrine System
- Mast Cell-Histamine System
- Tumor Necrosis Factor System
- Modulation of platelet Serotonin
- As yet undefined Immune modulating pathways.
D. The material in the presentation is protected by a pending method patent.