The Institute for Molecular Medicine






Gulf War Illnesses Research

Gulf War Syndrome or Gulf War Illness has been used to describe a collection of chronic signs and symptoms reported by U.S., British, Canadian, Czech, Danish, Saudi, Egyptian, Australian and other Coalition Armed Forces that were deployed to Operation Desert Storm in 1991. Over 100,000 American veterans of Desert Storm /Desert Shield (approximately 15% of deployed U. S. Armed Forces) returned from the Persian Gulf and slowly (6-24 months or more) and presented with a variety of complex signs and symptoms characterized by disabling fatigue, intermittent fevers, night sweats, arthralgia, myalgia, impairments in short-term memory, headaches, skin rashes, intermittent diarrhea, abdominal bloating, chronic bronchitis, photophobia, confusion, transient visual scotomata, irritability and depression and other signs and symptoms that until recently have defied appropriate diagnoses (see publications). These symptoms are not localized to any one organ, and the signs and symptoms and routine laboratory test results are not consistent with a single, specific disease.

Although there is not yet a case definition for Gulf War Illness, the chronic signs and symptoms loosely fit the clinical criteria for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and/or Fibromyalgia Syndrome. Some patients have additionally what appears to be neurotoxicity and brainstem dysfunction that can result in autonomic, cranial and peripheral nerve demyelination, possibly due to complex chemical exposures. Often these patients have been diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Syndrome (MCS) or Organophosphate-Induced Delayed Neurotoxicity (OPIDN). Chemically exposed patients can be treated by removal of offending chemicals from the patient's environment, depletion of chemicals from the patient's system and treatment of the neurotoxic signs and symptoms caused by chemical exposure(s). A rather large subset (~40%) of GWI patients have transmittible infections, including mycoplasmal and possibly other chronic bacterial infections, that have resulted in the appearance of GWI in immediate family members and civilians in the Gulf region. It is likely that veterans of the Gulf War who are ill with GWI owe their illnesses to a variety of exposures: (a) chemical mixtures, primarily organophosphates, antinerve agents and possibly nerve agents, (b) radiological sources, primarily depleted uranium and possibly fallout from destroyed nuclear reactors, and (c) biological sources, primarily bacteria, viruses and toxins, before, during and after the conflict. Such exposures can result in poorly defined chronic illnesses, but these illnesses can be treated if appropriate diagnoses are forthcoming.

Studies on Gulf War Illnesses: Chronic Infections

Identification of Mycoplasmal Infections in Gulf War Illness Patients and their Family Members:

Scientists at The Institute for Molecular Medicine have found that slightly under one-half of the very sick Gulf War Illness patients in a pilot study with the signs and symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia Syndrome have chronic invasive infections involving certain uncommon mycoplasmas, such as Mycoplasma fermentans. This has now been confirmed in a large Department of Defense - Department of Veterans' Affairs clinical trial. Staff at The Institute for Molecular Medicine have recommended that these infections can be successfully treated with certain antibiotics, allowing the recovery of patients who have been long-term disabled. Similarly, in ongoing preliminary studies on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibomyalgia patients, we have found that a subset of patients have mycoplasmal infections that can be successfully treated with antibiotics, allowing patients to recover from their illnesses.

These chronic bacterial infections can spread to immediate family members.  In a recent study we found that spouses of veterans with Gulf War Illness and chronic infections, such as M. fermentans, were at high risk for the infection.  We also found that the children (aged 2-11 years) of Gulf War veterans with Gulf War Illness and a positive test for mycoplasmal infection (mostly M. fermentans) often were diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Upon examination of the ASD patients we found that over 80% had the same infection as their veteran parent.  The onset of ASD (after the veteran returned from service) and the presence of the same infection suggested transmission of the infection and its involvement in ASD.


Identification of Other Infections in Gulf War Illness Patients:

The Institute for Molecular Medicine has been engaged in examining the blood of Gulf War Illness, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Fibromyalgia patients for chronic infections that could explain their clinical conditions. In preliminary research we have found that some patients have microorganism infections, such as those caused by Brucella species, Y. pestis or other bacteria. This line of investigation is now being actively pursued at the Institute.


Chemical Removal in Gulf War Illness Patients and other veterans:

The Institute for Molecular Medicine has been involved in developing new methods to remove contaminating chemicals from tissues that can be accomplished without expensive clinical treatments. Some of the most damaging chemicals are lipid-soluble petroleum-based chemicals that can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through skin contact. These chemicals hide deep inside cells and tissues where they can interfere with a variety of cellular metabolic and signaling pathways. We have found that rather simple approaches using commercially available natural supplements can be used to slowly mobilize, encapsulate and remove these dangerous chemicals. For example, we have used NTFactor Lipid wafers, 4 per day, to slowly remove chemicals from Gulf War and other veterans. The process is slow and can take over one year, but that turns out to be an advantage, because too rapid removal results in severe symptoms of chemical toxicity.


  • Membrane Lipid Replacement with glycerolphospholipids slowly reduces self-reported symptom severities in chemically exposed Gulf War veterans by Nicolson GL, Breeding PC. International Journal of Translational Medicine 2022; 2(2): 164-173. pdf_doc

  • Membrane Lipid Replacement for reduction of pain, fatigue, gastrointestinal and other symptoms in patients with peripheral pain: case reports, by Prof. Garth L. Nicolson and Dr. Paul C. Breeding, Case Reports & Reviews 2020; 1(2): 1-3. pdf_doc

  • Clinical uses of Membrane Lipid Replacement supplements in restoring membrane function and reducing fatigue in chronic diseases and cancer, by Prof. G. L. Nicolson, et al. Discoveries 2016; 4(1): e54. pdf_doc

  • Membrane Lipid Replacement: Clinical studies using a natural medicine approach to restoring membrane function and improving health, by Garth L. Nicolson, International Journal of Clinical Medicine 2016; 7: 133-143. pdf_doc

  • Chronic Bacterial and Viral Infections in Neurodegenerative and Neurobehavioral Diseases, by Prof. Garth Nicolson, Laboratory Medicine, 2008; 39(5):291-299. pdf doc

  • Chronic Mycoplasmal Infections in Gulf War Veterans' Children and Autism Patients by G.L. Nicolson et al., Medical Veritas 2005; 2:383-387. pdf doc

  • Gulf War veterans: Evidence for chromosomal alterations and their significance by J. Nigs and G.L. Nicolson, J. Chronic Fatigue Syndr. 2004; 12(1):79-83 pdf doc

  • High Prevalence of Mycoplasmal Infections in Symptomatic (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) Family Members of Mycoplasma-Positive Gulf War Illness Patients by G.L. Nicolson et al. J. Chronic Fatigue Syndr. 2003; 11(2):21-36. pdf_doc

  • Gulf War Illnesses: Chemical, Biological and Radiological Exposures Resulting in Chronic Fatiguing Illnesses can be Identified and Treated by Garth Nicolson et al. J. Chronic Fatigue Syndr. 2003; 11(1): 135-154 pdf doc

  • Anthrax Vaccine: Historical Review and Current Controversies by Nass & Nicolson, Journal of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine 2002; 14(4): 277-286 pdf doc

  • Gulf War Illnesses: Role of Chemical, Radiological and Biological Exposures
    War and Health, H. Tapamainen, ed., Helsinki , Zed Press, 2002, pp. 431-446 pdf doc

  • Gulf War Illnesses-Causes and Treatments.
    Armed Forces Med. Develop. 2001; 2: 41-44. pdf doc

  • The Anthrax Vaccine Controversy.
    Questions About its Efficacy, Safety and Strategy.
    The Medical Sentinel 2000; 5(2): 97 - 101 pdf doc

  • Anthrax Vaccine: Controversy Over Safety And Efficacy
    Antimicrobics and Infectious Disease Newsletter (Elsevier Science) 2000 ; 18(1) : 1 - 6
    rtf doc

  • Gulf War Illnesses: Complex Medical and Scientific and Political Paradox
    Medicine, Conflict & Survival 1998; 14: 74-83 pdf doc

  • Hospitalization for Unexplained Illnesses Among U. S. Veterans of Persian Gulf War
    Emerg. Infect. Dis. 1998: 4: 707-709
    rtf doc

  • The Eight Myths of Operation Desert Storm and Gulf War Syndrome
    Medicine, Conflict & Survival 1997; 13: 140-146
    rtf doc

  • Further Information About Persian Gulf War Health Questions--Reply
    International Journal of Occupational Medicine, Immunology and Toxicology 1996 ; 5 : 83-86
    rtf doc

  • Chronic Fatigue Illnesses Associated with Service in Operation Desert Storm Were Biological Weapons Used Against our Forces in the Gulf War?
    Townsend Letter For Doctors 1996; 156: 42-48 pdf doc

  • Diagnosis and Treatment of Mycoplasmal Infections in Persian Gulf War Illness-CFIDS Patients
    Int. J. Occup. Med. Tox. 1996; 5: 69-78 pdf doc

  • Chronic Fatigue Illness and Operation Desert Storm
    J. Occup. Environ. Med. 1996; 38: 14-16, 1995
    rtf doc

  • Doxycycline Treatment and Desert Storm
    Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 1995 ; 273: 618-619
    rtf doc

  • Mycoplasmal Infections and Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Illness (Gulf War Illness) Associated with Deployment to Operation Desert Storm
    International Journal of Medicine 1988; 1: 80-92
    pdf doc

back to the top


  • Ill WindóDesert Storm Blows Back with a Fury - by Tom Whittle and Linda Amato, Freedom Magazine 2003; 35(1):5-14. - pdf doc 

  • Return to the Gulf. Similar Types of Casualties are expected from Gulf
    War II.
    by Garth Nicolson, Soldier of Fortune Magazine, June 2003 rtf doc

  • Summary of veterans' chronic illnesses from service in the Middle East, by Prof. Nicolson, Report to the Canadian Department of National Defense, Ottawa, May 14, 2001.  rtf doc

  • Update on Gulf War Illnesses: Relationship to Fibromyalgia Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/M.E. and the Possible Role of Vaccines By Prof. Garth Nicolson, The Fibromyalgia Survivor, 2001 rtf doc

  • Gulf War Illness: Finally an Answer, Popular Science Magazine, April 1999 -  pdf_doc

back to the top


  • Written Testimony Of Dr. Garth L. Nicolson, Committee On Government Reform And Oversight, Subcommittee on Human Resource and Intergovernmental Relations, United States House Of Representatives, January 29, 2002, rtf doc

  • Written Testimony of Dr. Garth L. Nicolson, House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Subcommittee on Health, United States House of Representatives, January 24, 2002. rtf doc

  • Written Testimony Of Dr. Garth L. Nicolson, Special Oversight Board For Department Of Defense Investigations Of Gulf War Chemical And Bological Incidents U. S. Senate Hart Office Building SH-216, November 19, 1998  rtf doc

  • Written Testimony Of Dr. Garth L. Nicolson, Committee Of Veterans' Affairs Subcommittee on Benefits United States House Of Representatives, July 16, 1998 rtf doc

  • Written Testimony Of Dr. Garth L. Nicolson and Dr. Nancy L. Nicolson, Committee On Government Reform And Oversight, Subcommittee on Human Resource and Intergovernmental Relations, United States House Of Representatives, June 26, 1997 rtf doc

  • Written Testimony Of Dr. Garth L. Nicolson and Dr. Nancy L. Nicolson, Committee On Government Reform And Oversight, Subcommittee on Human Resource and Intergovernmental Relations, United States House Of Representatives, April 2, 1996 rtf doc

  • Written Testimony of Dr. Garth Nicolson and Dr. Nancy L. Nicolson : Mycoplasmal Infections in Gulf War Illnesses, President's Advisory Panel on Gulf War Syndrome, Washington D.C., August 14-16, 1995 rtf doc

back to the top