Dr. Justin Marchegiani and Evan Brand engage in a lively and informative discussion about their recent clinical successes with their patients using the functional medicine approach. Listen to them as they dig into the root cause of their patients’ issues and turn chronic and seemingly complicated problems into success stories.Know about the tapping technique which involves turning something negative into a better, positive thought. Learn more about GI infections, the bacteria or parasite that may be involved, as well as the tests and treatment options that are proven successful in the functional medicine world.
Dr. William Shaw, the founder of Great Plains Labs, teaches us what chemicals are most toxic, their effects on your health and what you can do to reduce toxin levels in your body. Anyone with a long term gut infection should get a check for oxalates, yeast and chemicals. I provide oxalate testing, chemical profile testing and interpretation with an Organic Acids Test and GPL TOX from Great Plains Lab.
If you’re having health issues or problems detoxing, ridding your body of oxalates can solve a lot of health problems. You also have to rid your body of oxalates before you have any hopes of getting rid of gut or systemic candida infections.
About Dr. William Shaw
Dr. William Shaw is an American chemist, autism researcher and the founder of the Great Plains Laboratory. Dr. Shaw has a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Georgia and a PhD from the Medical University of South Carolina, in biochemistry.
After obtaining his PhD, Dr. Shaw spent six years working at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where he was a supervisory research chemist and the chief of the radioimmunoassay laboratory. His laboratory, the Great Plains Laboratory, which he founded in 1996, specializes in metabolic and nutritional testing, particularly as it pertains to autism.
Evan Brand: Dr. William Shaw is the laboratory director and is board certified in the fields of Clinical Chemistry and Toxicology by the American Board of Clinical Chemistry. Before he founded the Great Plain Laboratory Dr. Shaw worked for the Centers of Disease Control, Children’s Mercy Hospital, University of Missouri, at Kansas City School of Medicine, and SmithKline Laboratories. He’s the author of Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD, originally published in ’98, and Autism: Beyond the Basics, published in 2009. He’s a frequent speaker at conferences worldwide. Dr. Shaw is a stepfather of a child with autism and has helped thousands of patients and medical practitioners to successfully improve the lives of people with autism, ADHD, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, bipolar, chronic fatigue, depression, fibromyalgia, immune deficiencies, MS, OCD, Parkinson’s, seizure disorders, tic disorders, Tourette syndrome, and other serious conditions. God bless you. Dr. Shaw, welcome to the show.
Dr. William Shaw: Well, I’m really glad to be here [and] have the opportunity to chat with you today.
Evan Brand: Yes, sir! Well, like I mentioned to you right before I pressed record, I’ve been ordering and using your lab for several years now and I’ve probably ordered close to a thousand labs with the combination of the organic acids and the GPL-TOX as well. The glyphosate panel is another great one as well. Could you give us just a bit of background on organic acids and GPL-TOX and some of these really keystone, foundational tests that your clinic offers?
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah! So, the organic acids test really first developed in, probably, around the 1960’s when mass spectrometry was first coupled with gas chromatography to come up with the term – the acronym – GC MS, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. But, really, the addition of high speed computers was what really made the technique amenable for using in a large number of patients because the technique generates tremendous amount of data. And so, it wasn’t until, probably, the early 80’s that really good computer software systems to analyze all the data made the technique first become practical and then in the 90’s things improved even further. And so, there was a real explosion in the abilities to analyze massive amounts of data very quickly.
Evan Brand: Totally.
Dr. William Shaw: So, the gas chromatography combined with mass spectrometry became a useful tool in the field of genetic diseases. When I started working at the children’s hospital I wanted to expand it further to test all the things like vitamins and other nutritional factors and, also, to expand it into the area for testing dysbiosis. What I suspected is that these other factors were actually much more common causes of diseases than the purely genetic diseases. So, even today, most of the organic acid testing throughout the world is just focused on these inborn errors of metabolism while ignoring some of the other important aspects: the nutritional factors and the dysbiosis factors which, for a large part, I was responsible for developing these and making them useful for the average physician to use in treating the patients. It became something where people were only seeing maybe one case in several thousand where genetic disease showed up whereas, with the dysbiosis markers, maybe 50% of the patients had abnormalities that could be treated based on looking at the abnormal products of the intestinal flora.
Evan Brand: Totally. Now, Dr. Kurt Woeller, when I had him on the podcast, he said: “Evan, you’ve got to start running the GPL-TOX on every new client.” It’s an extra investment so [with] some clients we do it later down the road and [with] some of the clients I don’t do it straight out of the gate. How did this GPL-TOX come onto the radar? How did you put this thing together? This is – what – a 168 toxic chemicals that you’re testing for now?
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah! It’s expanded. I think it’s a 172 currently. The goal was to make toxic chemical testing available for the average person. So, it was a real difficult situation because most people don’t know what toxic chemicals they’ve been exposed to. Now, some people do and that makes it [easier]. Like [if there’s] an agricultural worker and they’re only using one particular organophosphate, well then they’ve got a pretty good idea of what they’re exposed to. But, the average person doesn’t have any idea at all. If they wanted to check for all those 172 compounds that they may have been exposed to, they’d have to do a separate test for each of those 172 and at a price between a hundred to two hundred dollars. They’d easily spend over 20,000 dollars if they did each of these tests separately at a common clinical lab that offered those tests. I saw that that wasn’t just practical. It wasn’t economically viable. People didn’t have that kind of money. So, in essence, people were being deprived of the ability to find out what was making them sick. And, I thought, if we can put – it’s not everything – but if we put together a package that includes some of the most common toxic chemicals to which people are exposed, having that information would greatly increase the chance that they would find out what’s making them sick, and, more importantly, then be able to become treated and get their health back as a result. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for many, many years. I saw that the lab testing was really – having an affordable lab test was really the main impediment for people not being able to get well because they have no idea which toxic chemicals they have been exposed to.
Evan Brand: Totally. Now, so you’ve got your hands in a lot of different categories in terms of sources of toxicity. What are the biggest culprits for you? I know [that] with the GPL-TOX we got insecticides, weed killers, and cleaning agents, and plastics, and packing materials, and styrenes, and ethylbenzenes, and all these crazy stuff. And then, we’ve just got your standard gasoline additives, we’ve got your glyphosate. In your eyes, when you’re looking at someone, what is the biggest culprits of illness? If you could point a finger at a top 1, 2, and 3 issues.
Dr. William Shaw: I guess the biggest things are those things that are put on your food because everybody is eating food. So, the herbicides, the pesticides – those are really things of major concern because some of the population is able to afford organic foods. Organic foods are – by the way, organic means that they haven’t been treated with pesticides and herbicides and those kind of things but they’re more expensive, [but] as time goes on, the demand grows [and] I think the price will come down so a greater number of people could afford it. But, if I’d have the hazard to guess I would guess, in the United States, 90% of people are not eating organic food every day. They’re eating the food that is exposed to herbicides and pesticides and other kinds of chemicals. That’s one of the biggest risks.
Evan Brand: So, let me ask you this: if you go all organic, which is my intention, unless I’m going out somewhere and I’m just trying to source as high quality as I can at a restaurant, are you reducing a massive amount of risk of going fully organic or are you still going to have toxicity? For example, for me, like the gasoline additives, which I want to talk with you about, those showed up super high. So, it’s like even though my diet was good I still had toxicity in a whole other category.
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah. So, that’s true. It’s worth talking about a particular gasoline additive and they’re called – the initials, the acronyms, for these chemicals are the MTBE and ETBE. They’re very closely chemically related water soluble molecules that are added to gasoline to increase the octane, which means giving a smooth explosion in the cylinders of the gasoline. It’s the typical story. These things were put in gasoline as a replacement for the organic led which, of course, was a big problem because so many people were getting exposed to led and all the harm that led does. And so, it’s a typical thing – you take out one toxic chemical that has a lot of research to prove its toxicity and what you put in its place is something that has no research on it and with the knowledge that it’s going to take 10, 20, 30 years to develop a rap sheet to be able to exclude that chemical from the environment – to get it out. Unfortunately, this is the way [the] industry works and, of course, I think the way it should work is if you’re taking one chemical out you *should have (15:04) to do a whole array of tests to make sure it doesn’t have the same kind of toxicity that the previous ingredient [had]. But, things aren’t like that now and that’s what the big problem is.
Evan Brand: I agree. Okay. So, we’ve got –
Dr. William Shaw: The led was taken out and instead this MTBE and ETBE were put into the gasoline and this gasoline is stored in – when you go to the service station, there’s a huge underground, steel container and what happens is steel is partly iron and iron eventually rusts and then as it rusts through, that gasoline starts leaking out of that tank and if there’s any underwater streams near that gas station, they’re gonna pick-up the gasoline and its additive which – the MTBE is very water-soluble. So, instead of just staying near the drum underground, it starts moving into the underground stream and pretty soon the entire water supply’s contaminated. That’s one of the things that happened in Santa Monica, California. One of the very wealthy beach communities. A large portion of their total water supply was contaminated and they, of course, for something like more than 10 years they had to pump in water from other locations to serve their community. Eventually, they filed a number of successful lawsuits to help to pay for it but you can see this is a really bad situation. And, the biggest problem is all of these chemicals [are] being introduced at a rate that is much faster than the ability to access what the potential dangers are. So, the people looking at the potential health risk are always behind the eight ball. They’re always trying to play catch-up in finding out what’s going on. Typically, they are 10 or even 20 years behind in coming up with regulatory measures that help to control the toxicity of these things. One of the worst things is the glyphosate which is being put on – they almost tend to put it on our entire food supply throughout the world.
Evan Brand: Can we talk about glyphosates specifically? What is it doing? Is it damaging the mitochondria or – what’s it actually doing?
Dr. William Shaw: That’s one of the things that glyphosates can do at a high concentrations, it damages the mitochondria. As a matter of fact, a whole array of toxic chemicals in the GPL-TOX test can damage the mitochondria which is extremely important because it is the power supply of the cells. So, each of the cells have anywhere from one to a thousand mitochondria. You can think of them as small batteries that are supplying the cells with energy in the form of what is called adenosine triphosphate or ATP. It’s like the universal energy packets for, virtually, all living things [that] use that same energy source and if that’s disrupted, you lack energy to do the things you want to do. The two places where you use the most energy are your muscles and your brain. They utilize a tremendous amount of energy and so, if that’s impaired, you’re gonna have exercise intolerance or, if your brain is impaired, you’re gonna have a neurologic ora variety of psychiatric symptoms as a result of these chemicals impairing your brain function due to impairing your mitochondria.
Evan Brand: Sure. Now, we’ve also seen what people – I don’t know why people are so scared to say that it’s causation but we’ve seen all these correlation studies where we track autism rates going up with the amount of glyphosate that has been applied.
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Can you speak on that because you’ve got a case study that you just presented which – I’m sure you’ll give me the details but, I believe, it was triplets…
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah.
Evan Brand: ...with autism and glyphosate was involved here.
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah. And so, the epidemiologic studies are very worrisome because they show almost a 100% relationship between the amount of glyphosate used for two of the major food crops: soy and corn, and the rate of autism. 30 years ago, the rate of autism was extremely low and it was like 1 in 1500 or 1 in 2000. Studies have shown that this increase is not just due topeople [being] more proficient in diagnosing autism, the increased efficacy and the diagnosis of autism perhaps accounts for maybe 10% of the increase in the rate of autism but 90% are new cases and you don’t have autism rates increasing because of increased genetic mutations. The rate of genetic mutations is fairly constant over time. So, it has to be due to environmental causes. So, the suspicion is that glyphosate could be one of the major causes and I think having a case study helps to confirm the concern over whether or not this glyphosate is causative in autism. So, now, we have a scientific paper that was published just about a month ago [that] was able to show that the glyphosate was extremely elevated in these three children. Two of the children – the two boys – had autism and the girl had a suspected seizure disorder but they all showed – first of all, they had signs of mitochondrial dysfunction and the children all had markedly elevated amounts of glyphosate compared to the average person in the United States.
Evan Brand: What was their read-out on your glyphosate panel? What was their number? I know on the lower limit –
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah. So, the average value was around 1.5 and their values were like 30 or higher. So, they were like 20 to 25 times the average value of people in the United States. Of course, there’s no evidence that even these small amounts of glyphosate might not be harmful in the long run. And so, that doesn’t mean because the average person has a relatively small value that that’s of no concern, it’s that it’s more difficult to point to things that might not show up until you’ve been exposed for 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years. That’s the difficulty. It doesn’t mean even those lower amounts are actually safe. So, there were several things that were unusual about the triplets and the first thing is that their values was very high. When I talked to the mother of the children, what she indicated is that corn tortillas were one of the kids’ favorite foods and, of course, these corn tortillas that – the vast majority of corn in the United States is now what is called the “genetically modified” brand of corn, and even though that’s of somewhat of concern, the main concern with this particular genetically modified corn is that the corn has been genetically modified so that it resists huge exposures to glyphosate that’s used as a weed killer. And so, when the glyphosate has been applied to these corn plants, the corn plant picks up all this glyphosate from the soil and so the resulting corn is contaminated with glyphosate. Recently, this reached the news that the Department of Agriculture was going to be checking the high fructose corn syrup which is coming from this genetically modified corn to see if it had glyphosate, but that study was killed. And so, I’m sure this was politics as usual…
Evan Brand: Geez.
Dr. William Shaw: …and getting pressure from the pesticide and herbicide companies to put blindfolds over us so we can’t see what’s going on.
Evan Brand: Good lord.
Dr. William Shaw: So, these triplets had been eating these corn tortillas and had these very high glyphosate values. Once the parent found out, she put the children on an organic food diet and a number of the children had substantial reductions in some of their autistic behaviors by switching to the organic foods only. And so, the mechanisms in each of the children had markers in the organic acid test or the GPL-TOX test that indicated mitochondrial dysfunction. In addition, the children with autism had high amounts of certain clostridia bacteria. The companies that are producing this – they claim [that], well, these chemicals aren’t toxic to mammals because mammals don’t have the biochemical pathway that glyphosate inhibits but the problem is our intestinal flora has bacteria that are susceptible. So, all our beneficial bacteria, the beneficial e-coli, the beneficial lactobacillus, the beneficial *…bacteria (28:04) had exactly the same enzymes that the weeds do and are killed by the glyphosate. And so, what happens is the beneficial bacteria is being wiped out and when that happens – almost anyone has small amounts of harmful bacteria that proliferate bacterial life like clostridia bacteria, like salmonella and it’s been found that animals that are fed these GMO corn that has [been] contaminated with glyphosate were developing high amounts of these harmful bacteria in their intestine. Turkeys that were fed this had high amounts of salmonella and clostridia in their intestinal tract. There were even instances of large farm animals like cows that were developing what they call “downer syndrome” which is due to the presence of certain clostridia. The [botulinum] is one of the clostridia species and some cows were found with botulism. There’s even one report of a farmer himself who got, *they call it(29:34), botulism which conceivably could have been due to the action of the glyphosate knocking out the beneficial intestinal organisms.
Evan Brand: That’s insane! So, not only are these children who are put on antibiotics like candy when they’re children, not only are the antibiotics wiping out the microbiome but you’ve got glyphosate in the diet that’s doing the same thing. So, this is really a double whammy.
Dr. William Shaw: That’s right! So, some of the antibiotics can do the same thing but most of the time the antibiotics are used for short periods of time like one week or maybe ten days whereas as these foods are being fed every single day. And so, this is probably a bigger problem than the use of the antibiotics. Of course, some people know or [are] getting educated to the fact that if you’re taking antibiotics then you need to take probiotics at the end of the treatment to restore the beneficial bacteria. But, virtually, no one is getting the message that your entire food supply is being altered by this glyphosate contaminated food and you need more probiotics. But, the problem is the probiotics are gonna be killed by the glyphosate.
Evan Brand: Yup. I think you’re –
Dr. William Shaw: They’re gonna continue to be killed.
Evan Brand: I bet you’re probably familiar with her but a woman named Dr. Monika Krüger – she had a study that founded only 0.1 part per billion of glyphosate was enough to destroy beneficial gut bacteria.
Dr. William Shaw: Ah, that’s a very interesting fact, yes. It shows that this is probably a much more important threat to our intestinal health than the antibiotics although they’re also important. Having most of your food contaminated with this is considerately a bigger problem. What people don’t realize is that not only is the glyphosate used in the GMO foods like soy and corn, it’s also used as a desiccant in which they apply it to foods like wheat, near the harvest time to cause it to dry up and cause the green parts of the wheat to brown so it’s easier to harvest. So, you have foods like wheat which are not GMO which are also being contaminated with glyphosate as well. There are also claims that you don’t need to worry about it because the half-life is only a few days but recent work has shown that when glyphosate reacts with a number of metals, it may form complexes that may persist for, sometimes, nearly 30 years. So, you’re having a huge increase depending on the nature of the soil on which these chemicals are spread.
Evan Brand: Sure. So, a listener of my show sent me an article by this woman called “Moms Across America” and it’s this blog post that came out a couple of weeks ago where she was going over to Japan to speak about the health risk of GMO and toxins and she found this research and study that was showing that Japan and Korea have almost triple the rates of autism as we have in the United States. Their rates are greater than 1 in every 30 children having autism and then she put that side by side with the increased use of agrochemicals and, once again, it correlated perfectly. So, it seems like over in Japan and these other countries – they’re using even more.
Dr. William Shaw: So, they’re using glyphosate as well...
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. William Shaw: …in Japan and Korea, now.
Evan Brand: Yeah. I’ll send you this. I’ll make sure to get your email before we get off this call today.
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah.
Evan Brand: I want to send you this article because looking at the charts are just frightening. Now, let me ask you this, if you go a 100% organic does that eliminate ninety plus percent of the problem? Granted [that] we got phthalates and other chemicals that I’d like to talk with you about but regarding glyphosate, if you go a 100% organic, is that the best thing you can do?
Dr. William Shaw: I mean, I’d say going organic is the best single thing you can do to eliminate a lot of different chemicals. So, glyphosate is one but another common weed killer has been combined with glyphosate, they call it Duo Enlist which is both 2, 4-D – the chemical that was in the Agent Orange – and what was in some of the children with autism that had extremely high values of the 2, 4-D which also is a very serious inhibitor of mitochondrial function. Also, there’s still significant amounts of organophosphate pesticides and other pesticides like the pyrethroid compounds are also used on some foods. So, the single best thing you can do for yourself if you’ve got the financial means to do it is to go organic. The difficulty is there are very few restaurants that have adopted an organic menu, they’re few and far between. There are some but they’re pretty, pretty limited.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. William Shaw: So, that’s probably the biggest problem: that if you’re going out to eat you’re not getting organic foods at probably 98% or maybe the 99% of restaurants.
Evan Brand: So, how do you deal with that? Are you married? Do you and your wife ever go out to restaurants or do you just never go out to eat?
Dr. William Shaw: We do! So, we’d wonder - *…(36:32) I guess I haven’t gotten that. I just figured that at home we eat organic all the time.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. William Shaw: But we go out to eat. We just kind of ignore that and even do in my own testing even with the organic diet, except with the restaurants. I have values that are pretty low but I still see traces of organophosphates in my own sample.
Evan Brand: So, let me ask you this then, if you go to a Mexican restaurant are you going to for, like, fajitas but you’re going to omit the corn tortillas or you just go all in? I don’t care. I’m going to eat the corn tortilla anyway.
Dr. William Shaw: (laughs) I think I would be wanting to get organic corn tortillas if I were going out. I think I would probably skip the corn tortillas knowing that –
Evan Brand: So, here’s what I do. If I am going to do corn – I know we’re going to a Mexican restaurant for example – I’ll source the highest quality steak that I can get and I’ll bring my own organic blue corn with me.
Dr. William Shaw: Ah! That’s a good idea, yeah!
Evan Brand: I just put it in my wife’s purse and bring it. So, if we do like organic blue corn chips and then we’re gonna put some guacamole on there, I’ll just do it that way. It makes me feel a lot better.
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah. Oh! By the way, I think Chipotle is one of the restaurants that advertises organic only. That’s a good option for those who want to avoid most of the herbicides and pesticides, providing they’re being honest in their claims. But, that is their claim – that they are doing organic sourcing.
Evan Brand: Right. Now, I want to ask you this, when I got my GPL-TOX test back, on number 11 there which was the acronym of NAHP and then it says “parent propylene oxide”.
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah.
Evan Brand: You’ve got the lower level there of 4.0. You’ve got seventy-fifth percentile at 101. I was at a 574, which puts me off the charts.
Dr. William Shaw: Wow.
Evan Brand: Now, it says due to the production of plastics and uses of fumigants. Where in the world did I get exposed to this?
Dr. William Shaw: It could very well be – this is another – it could be your food. The food was harvested [and] to keep the insects out of the harvested food they may have sprayed the stack of harvested grains with the stuff to wipe out any potential insects or rodents or things like that.
Evan Brand: Now, would that have been before I went organic? Could this stuff have been in my body [for] 5, 10, 15 years?
Dr. William Shaw: No. I seriously doubt that, unless you had some massive exposures, in which case you’d be leaking out small amounts of this stuff for decades, I guess, if you had. The most likely explanation is this was in some recent food that you took in.
Evan Brand: Wow.
Dr. William Shaw: That is the most likely thing. So, we mentioned food, the other important thing is purified water. So, as I mentioned, this MTBE and ETBE were common water contaminants so one of the things you can do to reduce your toxic chemical exposure is to just take the reverse osmosis purified water. This is available at, virtually, every grocery store. [They] have one of these purification systems where you can bring your own water containers and fill them up. We get ours delivered to us at home in big carboys, with our reverse osmosis water. So, that’s the other option. Of course, you can get complete systems but that’s more expensive. Getting the home delivery is a pretty good option [and] not overly expensive.
Evan Brand: Yeah. So, I use the –
Dr. William Shaw: They’re about 6 bucks.
Evan Brand: The Berkey System is what I use and they published all this research where, supposedly, they remove every type of organophosphate and pesticide and chemical with their system. That’s what I’ve settled on. I don’t know if you know about that one or not.
Dr. William Shaw: No, no, I wasn’t aware of that particular system.
Evan Brand: Okay, back to GPL-TOX. If we’re looking at the organophosphates like the DEP on number 15, I was at a 25 and your lower limit is 0.6. Would that be the same exposure? Some type of food that was just sprayed with] some type of pesticide?
Dr. William Shaw: I mean, that’s the most, by far, likely explanation. Although, in some areas of the country you could be sprayed just sitting in your backyard next to your swimming pool and a plane comes over and sprays you or – I’ve had accounts of individuals who had organic farms on which they were severely contaminated. So, the couple who had the organic farm – the woman was a naturopath [and] her husband was an organic farmer – they’re completely organic but she said: “He comes in, takes a shower, completely cleans off, but the next morning you can see an outline of his body, yellowed chemicals, coming out of his body” and it’s due to the fact that his neighbors are not organic and so all that stuff is moved by the wind. So, even eating just organic doesn’t completely eliminate contamination because of the wind and the rain. A recent study found that in some areas a 100% of the rain samples were contaminated with glyphosate. And, in other areas, a high percentage of the air samples were also glyphosate contaminated. So, these kind of things are prevalent and they’re completely working their way into our total environment, making it difficult to get rid of. That said, I would still say [that] going organic really makes a difference. So, in that case study I mentioned, one of the children was retested and, after a few weeks of organic diet, his glyphosate reduced about 95%.
Evan Brand: Woah! Now, let me –
Dr. William Shaw: So, big *… (4:19)
Evan Brand: Now, let me ask further on that. All that was changed was going from conventional GMO glyphosate sprayed corn tortillas – just going organic reduced 95%? We’re not talking about implementing …
Dr. William Shaw: Yes.
Evan Brand: … sauna or anything else?
Dr. William Shaw: Right. That was just changing the diet and…
Evan Brand: What?
Dr. William Shaw: …I’m sure if you went to saunas as well you’re gonna get even better. So, we have seen one case with autism where the child was like 20 or 30 times the upper limit of normal and went from that value to undetectable amounts after about 3 months of saunas.
Evan Brand: Oh my god.
Dr. William Shaw: So, sauna is very effective. I always recommend the dual approach: the organic diet, purified water, and sauna – that’s the best way to go. We’ve seen significant improvements in a variety of health issues with that combination of treatment. And then, in addition, about 50% of the chemicals we test for in the GPL-TOX are removed by glutathione. So, adding some glutathione or N-Acetyl Cysteine as a supplement can be very helpful in helping to accelerate the removal of about half the chemicals that we test for.
Evan Brand: Perfect. Now, are we talking far infrared saunas and what temperature and how long are we talking for most people?
Dr. William Shaw: In actuality, probably any type of sauna will do the job. The advantages of infrared might be that it is tolerated easier or something like that but as far as efficacy, it doesn’t appear [that] there’s any increase [in] efficacy. This is really, I guess, just mainly a question ofcomfort…
Evan Brand: So, however you sweat –
Dr. William Shaw: ...that certain saunas may be better.
Evan Brand: As long as you sweat –
Dr. William Shaw: Whatever is needed to make you sweat – that is probably the number one issue with it. Whatever it is that make you sweat, that will do the job.
Evan Brand: Okay. And –
Dr. William Shaw: If you live in a hot, humid environment, I guess, just (chuckles) running or jogging will probably also do a pretty good job if you could do that but a lot of people may not be that athletic especially if they have severe toxicity, they may have some fatigue issues due to the chemicals affecting their mitochondrial function.
Evan Brand: Now, what about the other 50% of those chemicals? What do you do for those?
Dr. William Shaw: Those would be mainly diet. So, for example, organophosphates are not accelerated, they are excreted. Detoxification is not increased by glutathione. So, the organic diet is especially important, and the purified water, and the sauna but glutathione will not help. Probably, the other thing that would help those would probably be increasing the B vitamins, which would probably increase the rate of excretion of the organophosphate because of the enzymes that detoxifies those is linked to a number of nutritional co-enzymes.
Evan Brand: Perfect. I watched your talk – your presentation – last year that you did on toxic chemicals and increasing rates of chronic illness and you had a slide that was all about styrofoam and how bad styrofoam cups and plates are. You had all these symptoms of dizziness and heart palpitations and tremor and all sorts of crazy symptoms where people would probably get diagnosed with things like Parkinson’s but, in reality, it could just be something like styrene and benzene toxicity. That was just mind-blowing.
Dr. William Shaw: Yep, it is, and what I suspect is that many of what people consider the symptoms of the ageing are really not due to ageing at all. All it is is that you’ve been around for a certain number of years and if each year you pick up a certain number of toxic chemicals, many times, these accumulate faster than your body can eliminate that. If you think about it, your body has been molded by thousands of years of evolution, until the last hundred years, our ancestors were [not] exposed to huge amounts of toxic chemicals because they were all inventions, they did not exist on planet Earth. So, our bodies didn’t adapt mechanisms for getting rid of huge amounts of these things because we didn’t need to. We were living in the garden of Eden, so to speak. And so, when these chemicals are added to our environment, we have some ability to detoxify but when you get a steady stream of these things they build up over time. So, many of these diseases like Parkinson’s and tremors and things like – and even probably Alzheimer’s are a result of the total accumulative load of toxic chemicals that people build up over a lifetime. The individual who just published on reversing Alzheimer’s in a group of patients with Alzheimer’s – one of the things that he was using was detoxification. If the Alzheimer’s patient had exposure totoxic chemicals that was one of his standard things that he was doing. So, it makes sense. Just a couple of nights ago I was thinking what would be a good analogy to this. The fishing boats were going out in the Bering Sea and it was really cold and it was stormy and so the spray was coming up and forming ice on all their crab cages. They said: well, once this reaches a certain stage, it will sink the boat; there’ll be such a weight of ice. So, that’s exactly what’s going on with ageing. Instead of ice condensing, we’ve got toxic chemicals that are condensing in our tissues and our fat, our liver, and all our other organs. It just keep accumulating until, eventually, we sink. So, really, you really just need to get rid of that stuff and so many people don’t know that that’s an option. It really needs to become part of standard treatment for the common diseases and ageing like Parkinson’s and other essential tremors and other kinds of neurologic things that become more common with ageing.
Evan Brand: I agree a 100%. I tell people all the time [that] organic is special and it’s wonderful and all of that but, at the end of the day, everything used to be organic. So, it’s not like it’s some brand new thing – “Oh, organic! Wow! This is so cool!”…
Dr. William Shaw: (chuckles) That’s right!
Evan Brand: …It’s like: no, we’re just returning to what it was.
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah, that’s what the great-grandparents – that’s all they ate!
Evan Brand: Everything was grass-fed and organic and hand-crafted or hand-picked. It’s like, okay, that’s just doing what my great-grandma did on the farm in Southern Kentucky.
Dr. William Shaw: You didn’t have to pay extra for that at all. (chuckles)
Evan Brand: I know!
Dr. William Shaw: It’s what everybody got for the same regular price.
Evan Brand: Well, I guess, every restaurant would have been organic and grass-fed too if you went to the diners in the 50’s. I don’t know when this stuff really started to get toxic but I wonder if during my grandparents’ teenage years…
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah.
Evan Brand: …if they were still getting quality or were they already getting glyphosate at that age in the 50’s. What do you think?
Dr. William Shaw: That was probably – no, no. Glyphosate, I would guess, was around the 80’s or so [when] it first became big, at least started off. Of course, now, it’s more than 90% of corn and soy in the United States are of that type.
Evan Brand: Yeah, you’re spot on! It was discovered to be an herbicide by a Monsanto chemist, John E. Franz in 1970. Monsanto brought glyphosate to market in 1974 under the tradename “Roundup” and their last commercially relevant patent expired in the year 2000.
Dr. William Shaw: Uh-huh.
Evan Brand: You want to know something crazy? It doesn’t add to the conversation except to tell you that it’s crazy and I’m sure you’ve seen it before – the last house my wife and I lived at, the neighbor across the street, she’d go out in short shorts and a tank top and flip flops and had a giant container of weed killer and just walked around the property just spraying her toes, basically, as she’s spraying the cracks in her driveway.
Dr. William Shaw: (chuckles)
Evan Brand: I thought: This lady – oh my god. I almost wanted to go over there and then I thought: You know what, I don’t even want to get sprayed. She’d probably spray me if I walked over there.
Dr. William Shaw: I know a couple that had a toddler and they had one of the lawn services and they let the child out crawling around the lawn just a short time after the lawn was treated and the child immediately went into some intractable seizures. And, five years later, the child was still extremely impaired…
Evan Brand: Are you kidding?
Dr. William Shaw: …from that exposure.
Evan Brand: Holy smokes.
Dr. William Shaw: No, unfortunately. That is the case.
Evan Brand: Now, I know it gets weird with words you could use and can’t use but can you successfully reverse autism if you get these toxic loads down or is it a trigger where once it’s triggered you can only backtrack to previous function but you’ll never get back to the way you were before the autism was triggered?
Dr. William Shaw: I know of some cases where reversal was once essentially complete. And, what I found is that the younger the child, the greater the possibility of reversal. The brain has plasticity. In other words, it’s able to reshape, reform, and reconfigure. And so, the greatest plasticity is when the child is the youngest. So, if the child is having some problems, the best time to treat it is soon as the parents notice that there is some kind of significant problem – the child is not speaking or the child’s not making eye contact or the child’s doing unusual, repetitive behavior – that’s the time to start in on the testing, I would say, even before the diagnosis is made. Some people waste so much time worrying about what is the specific name – is it ADD? Is it autism? Is it PDD? Is it something else? – and that’s not important. The most important thing to find out is has your child been exposed to something that is impairing them. Don’t put that much focus on the diagnosis, put the focus on helping the child to recover from whatever abnormality they’re demonstrating.
Evan Brand: So, what options are available besides the clean water and the organic food for children? What else is available for treatment?
Dr. William Shaw: Oh, there’s many, many things. I guess, nutritional treatment with a whole host of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, cholesterol. There’s a treatment for abnormal intestinal flora which is prevalent in autism, especially the yeast and abnormal bacteria like clostridia. There are a number of other nutritional supplements like carnitine, carnosine. So, there’s really a whole host of things that can be done. Food allergies really play a very common role and, in some children, the exposure to mold is a significant problem. So, these environmental triggers can be addressed and are helpful in getting rid of all the toxic chemicals to which the child is exposed. Those are all really common things that have been used successfully in a lot of children to improve. So, I would say the vast majority of children with autism that are treated get better and some completely recover. So, it can be extremely beneficial. The other kinds of things are behavioral therapy [which] also helps apply behavioral analysis. But, I would say that fixing the underlying biochemistry is going to give you much better results. The behavioral therapy to help to catch up a child who’s been delayed is useful but you will get the best bang for the buck – the behavioral therapy buck – by giving it to a child whose underlying biochemistry has been normalized.
Evan Brand: Sure. Now, I know we’re running out of time. It’s just good to know that all the work that I’m doing on the gut is important for this. My youngest client is a 3-year old little girl and she’s not autistic but she does have some – whether you call it ADHD, like you said, it doesn’t matter what’s going on but there are some things that are off that [the] mom sensed and she reached out to me. We had her gut tested and she had tons of infections. She had multiple parasites. She had bacterial infections. She had yeast overgrowth. We’re working on the gut now and, obviously, dialing in the diet and things seem to be improving pretty rapidly. So, that’s really cool to understand the mechanism behind that. Now, I forgot to ask you – what was the age of the children who were in that study? They were eating those corn tortillas. How old were they?
Dr. William Shaw: Let’s see, they were first noticing when they were around 2 years old that something wasn’t right and by the time this was reversed I think they were around the age of 4 or so when they first got tested and had the dietary changes to remove the non-organic corn tortillas. In fact, the mother said there’s virtually none of the food was organic [and] just switching that out made a major difference. So, I think, even if families can’t afford organic diet all the time, they may want to consider it especially for the young children.
Evan Brand: Sure.
Dr. William Shaw: And especially, I’d say, for any pregnant women, that would be the thing that’s going to most greatly insure a successful pregnancy and healthy children. So, during pregnancy and, I would say, the first 4 or 5 years of life would be the most critical time. If you can’t afford it forever for all the family, at least if you can afford it for the children at that age range.
Evan Brand: Well said. I know you see this – you’ll see people complain about the price of organic but then they’re in a Mercedes SUV that costs 70,000 dollars and they go home to their 400,000 dollar house.
Dr. William Shaw: (chuckles) Right!
Evan Brand: But they don’t eat organic!
Dr. William Shaw: (laughs)
Evan Brand: Oh, you can’t afford organic? Okay. You’ve got a Mercedes SUV. Your husband drives an Escalade. You’ve got Netflix. You’ve got two jet skis. You’ve got a boat that you go out on the weekends. You’ve got a real estate property in the mountains that you got to in the summer for vacation. You just went to Disneyworld. But, you can’t eat organic. I think there is just a mismatch of priorities in most people.
Dr. William Shaw: Yep. And, I think those people just don’t realize. They just haven’t – they need to get the information out that this is not a fad or something…
Evan Brand: I know! It’s crazy!
Dr. William Shaw: ...like that. It’s a way of helping your children in the most important time of their life. It’s when their brain is under rapid development.
Evan Brand: I agree! My wife just got us some strawberries today and I think the organic version was $3.99 for a pound versus $2.99 for conventional. And, I hate how they call it “conventional”. I don’t know about you but it bugs me that they say “conventional”. I think they should label it “chemical”. They should –
Dr. William Shaw: They should label it “chemically damaged” (laughs) or something like that.
Evan Brand: Yeah! Yeah. It’s like, oh, this is just conventional strawberries? To me, that sounds a little bit too benign. I think it should have a sign warning: “These strawberries have been sprayed with glyphosate. Dr. Shaw from Great Plains Laboratory can test you and we can show that glyphosate does this and this and this or you can just pay one dollar more and you can get organic. Now what would you like to get, ma’am?” You know what I mean? That’s the way it should be put there.
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah, yeah.
Evan Brand: Man, [it’s been] such a blast. I definitely want to stay in contact with you. I would love to have you back on the show. I mean, I’ve got tons of case studies I could can show you and stuff I’ve been doing behind the scenes in terms of looking at organic acids…
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah!
Evan Brand: …and some of the GPL-TOX I’m been looking at. I had a woman who said she’d been drinking well water for 20 or 25 years and she promised that it got tested 20 years ago. I said, “Ma’am, a lot of things have changed in the last 20 years in terms of fracking and other sorts of damage to the groundwater”. She had some of the worst MTBE and ETBE levels I’ve ever seen and yet she had an organic diet. So, I had to point a finger at that well water.
Dr. William Shaw: Uh-huh – at the water – that’s the most likely source, yeah.
Evan Brand: So, awesome. Dr. Shaw, any last words of wisdom or things you’d like to share with people?
Dr. William Shaw: Well, one of the things is that you can get a good indicator of toxicity on the organic acid test. There’s one marker that’s especially good which is succinic acid. So, [when] succinic acid is elevated the chances are extremely high that you have some kind of toxic exposure. And so, individuals who have that marker elevated should seriously consider getting both the metals testing as well as the GPL-TOX test to identify which toxic chemical are causing their mitochondrial impairment.
Evan Brand: Okay. And, Dr. Shaw, correct me if I’m wrong but, for all my clients listening, that’s going to be number 24 on your organic acids. So, whip it out, look at number 24, [and] see where you’re at.
Dr. William Shaw: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Okay, awesome.
Dr. William Shaw: Yep.
Evan Brand: Well, thank you so much! I look forward to keeping in touch with you and thanks again for your wisdom. I’m hopeful! We’re making some changes – organic – believe it or not! Walmart is getting a lot of organic produce. They’ve got organic strawberries. They’ve got organic blueberries. My grandmother sent me a picture the other day – what did she find? Organic broccoli, organic mixed vegetables at Walmart and it’s their Great Value brand. So, they are stepping up their game and these big food companies are turning the tide. I think we are in a hopeful place but I don’t know if you’ve got a bigger dream than this but my biggest dream is [to] completely remove glyphosate from the planet – just get rid of this stuff. It’s ridiculous. It need to be banned today and never sprayed ever again.
Dr. William Shaw: I agree.
Evan Brand: Do you have any bigger dreams than glyphosate being banned? Just curious.
Dr. William Shaw: Well, I’d just like to get to the point where the vast majority of food on Earth is organic variety and making that available for everyone.
Evan Brand: Me too, me too. Well, Dr. Shaw, thank so much again for your time. [It was] definitely, definitely a pleasure chatting with you and [I] appreciate your hard work over the years and dedication to bringing these lab tests to the public. I will continue spreading the message about these and, anybody listening to this show, just contact me and we can get you tested and figure out what in the world your levels are. I’ll tell you, after I saw my GPL-TOX results Ibought a sauna immediately. That was the first thing I did.
Dr. William Shaw: (chuckles) Yeah. That’s the best thing you can do for yourself with toxic chemicals – one of the best treatments.
Evan Brand: I forgot to ask this and I’m sorry I’m taking up more of your time than I promised you but the role of breastfeeding mothers – I would assume it’s equally important for them to be eating organic as well because this glyphosate, I assume, would pass through breastmilk. Is that –
Dr. William Shaw: That’s exactly correct. The best thing that a breastfeeding mother can do is to have the cleanest diet possible and that includes an organic diet.
Evan Brand: Okay. And, coffee – is coffee bad? Is that sprayed? People going to Starbucks – is that –
Dr. William Shaw: I think that’s probably also an issue. There is probably, just like any other food crop that is susceptible to chemical exposure. I don’t know whether glyphosate is an issue with coffee or not at this stage but I’m sure that there could be some exposure to other toxic chemicals. If you have the option [of] using organic coffee, of course, that is the best option.
Evan Brand: Perfect, perfect. Thanks again and take good care!
Dr. Justin Marchegiani and Evan Brand dive into an exciting discussion all about thyroid. Listen carefully as they engage in a dynamic conversation with the listeners and share some valuable information regarding their functional medicine approach on issues relating to thyroid; its connection to adrenal health, gut health, nutrition, and infections.
Learn about the hyper- and hypo- symptoms related to thyroid issues. Find out how other conditions like leaky gut and other infections are linked to thyroid health. Gain valuable information on different tests used to assess thyroid health and rule out other conditions contributing to thyroid issues. Increase your awareness about the different sources, like foods, supplements, and metals which all impacts thyroid functio
Izabella Wentz, Pharm.D., FASCP is a passionate, innovative and solution focused clinical pharmacist. She has had a passion for health care from a very early age, inspired by her mother, Dr. Marta Nowosadzka, MD.
Fascinated by science and the impact of substances on the human body, Izabella decided to pursue a degree in pharmacy with a dream of one day finding a cure for a disease. An avid learner and goal-oriented student, she received the PharmD. Degree (Doctor of Pharmacy) from the Midwestern University Chicago College of Pharmacy at the age of 23.
After graduation, she excelled at numerous roles including working as a community pharmacist, a clinical consulting pharmacist and later a medication safety pharmacist. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists, and holds certifications in Medication Therapy Management as well as Advanced Diabetes Care.
During her time as a consultant pharmacist, Dr. Wentz worked as part of an interdisciplinary team consulting on thousands of complicated patient cases, often caused by rare disorders. She was regarded as an expert in clinical pharmacology and would be called to investigate cause and effect by performing comprehensive medication therapy reviews to help identify and resolve adverse drug events. She quickly became well versed in finding and evaluating emerging research to help address her clients’ unique challenges. Although trained as a pharmacist, she was an ardent champion for lifestyle interventions, which often helped patients much more than any medications.
After moving to a new city, she was given the opportunity to lead a statewide medication safety initiative, transitioning to a career in medication safety and healthcare quality improvement. There, she developed an expertise about the whole systems approach, rapid tests of small change; outcomes tracking and root cause analysis.
After being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in 2009, Dr. Wentz was surprised at the lack of knowledge about lifestyle interventions for Hashimoto’s, hypothyroidism, and autoimmune conditions. She decided to take on lifestyle interventions as a personal mission in an effort to help herself and others with Hashimoto's.
After two years of researching Hashimoto's and Hypothyroidism, she decided to combine emerging knowledge with her quality improvement expertise to run rapid tests of change on herself that led her to discover the root cause of her condition. She has summarized three years of research and two years of testing in her NEW book: Hashimotos Protocol.
Today we discuss
- How common is Hashimotos in men and women?
- What is the biggest root cause?
- The parasite and bacterial link to thyroid illness
- The Hashimotos Protocols
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
lEvan Brand: Dr. Izabella Wentz, welcome back to the podcast!
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Evan, thank you so much for having me. I love chatting with you. I’m so excited!
Evan Brand: Yes! I do too. Let’s talk about your new book. So, is it called the “Hashimoto’s Protocol”? Is that the official title?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yeah! That’s the official title and it’s focused on helping people restore their health in a relatively short amount of time. My first book focused on helping people figure out what their root causes were and what their triggers were – it was Hashimoto’s, the root cause. I was focused on helping people figure out and dig for their health. It wasn’t until I met one of my readers in Chicago where she had asked: “Can you give us specific protocols? Can you just give me some templates? Exactly what do I need to eat? Exactly what supplements do I need to take? What do I do first? What do I do second? What do I do third?”, and I was like, “okay, let me think about that a little bit more.” I didn’t really quite get the idea for a protocol book until I took a pilates class with this really, really intense instructor. She was giving me a lot of pilates homework. She was telling me exactly which muscles I was using for each movement and then she was quizzing me and then she was having me make up my own pilates movements and I was like, “wait a minute. I don’t want to be a pilates expert. I just want to look fit in my swim suit, that’s really all I want.” And then, it kind of dawned on me that not everybody wants to be a Hashimoto’s expert, that some people just want a done-for-them protocol that can help them feel better right away. And so, this is what Hashimoto’s Protocol is. It’s three fundamental protocols that start off by supporting the liver, adrenals, and gut. This can really help to transform a person’s health in as little as one to two weeks. And then, we move in to some more of the advanced protocols where we start going after some of the more advanced root causes, some of the more rare and intense of root causes like infections and toxins that require additional interventions.
Evan Brand: Excellent! Well, I’m sold. Sign me up! I think I have a copy in the mail. So, I’m excited to get it. That’s great. Now, how common is Hashimoto’s? This is something that, in our little bubble, you would say 99.9% of women have it, almost. I mean, the amount of women that I talk with and work with that have Hashimoto’s is so huge that maybe my number is skewed from the general population; but maybe not.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Right. Well, a 100% of people I work with have Hashimoto’s, right? That’s my area of specialty. But, in the general population, we’re actually looking at 27% of people that have Hashimoto’s when you do advanced diagnostic testing like thyroid antibodies, thyroid ultrasound, or fine needle aspiration or biopsy of the thyroid glands. Now, backing into this, when we start looking at women – for every man that’s diagnosed, we have 5 to 8 women that are diagnosed. And then, when we start looking at people who are reaching out to practitioners for help, then we’re looking at a higher percentage rate. So, really thinking about that, if there’s a woman that’s coming to a healthcare practitioner with complaints about fatigue, weight gain, anxiety, any kind of mood issues, or impaired brain function, there’s a pretty good chance that she has Hashimoto’s. I highly recommend investigating that as a potential cause of the imbalances in her body.
Evan Brand: So, what’s the percentage difference? Maybe you stated it quickly and it went over my head, but compared to men versus women with Hashimoto’s.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Wow. So, for every man diagnosed, we’re looking at 5 to 8 women.
Evan Brand: Okay. Wow, that’s massive. Now, have you come up with a solid answer on why is it so much more common for women? Is it due to the fluctuations of *…hormones(5:19) that can influence thyroid? What’s the biggest piece of the pie of why women are so much more susceptible?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yeah. I’ve actually thought about it quite a bit and I’ve come up with my own theory on that and it’s the safety theory of thyroid disease. Now, we can talk about hormonal fluctuations being a root cause because we know that pregnancy, puberty, and perimenopause are gonna be times when we see higher rates of Hashimoto’s and that’s also when we see whenever we have fluctuations in estrogen that impacts how much thyroid hormone we need, how much thyroid hormone is binding, how much is not binding. And then, we’re also looking at personal care products. So, we know that women use, on average, twice as many personal care products than men do, and the personal care products have higher levels of toxins within them. But, that’s really just a small piece of the pie of the triggers and the root causes. When we really, really back into this, I start thinking about what the role of the thyroid gland is from an adaptive physiology standpoint. Now, research has shown that the thyroid gland can actually sense danger and then send out danger signals to the rest of our body. When you think about it, it actually makes sense that a hypothyroid person would be more likely to survive a dangerous situation. When we think about what’s happening in Hashimoto’s, the very first thing that happens is the thyroid gland becomes under attack by the immune system and this sends a rush of thyroid hormones into the blood stream. Usually, this makes a person more anxious, more irritable, and more hypervigilant, which could be something that’s beneficial in times where we’re under a lot of – let’s say we’re under threat, to be hypervigilant, to be more anxious would actually be protective. Now, as the stress continues, it becomes chronic, we keep having the thyroid gland attacked and attacked and attacked until it can no longer produce thyroid hormone and then a person becomes more withdrawn, more lethargic, more tired, carries more weight on them. And, going deeper into this, we find that prisoners of war have higher rates of thyroid disorders so they’re more likely to be hypothyroid. Now, we know that with your prisoner of war, stonewalling could be a way to actually survive. So, if you’re not acting up, if you’re not getting in the captor’s face, then you’re more likely to survive the situation. We know that women who’ve been sexually assaulted have higher rates of thyroid disorders. It kind of goes back to adaptive physiology in cave man and woman times. We know that women carry the primary responsibility of bringing new life to the world as you know from having your baby, right? And so, it’s really, really important for women to be tuned in to our environment. And so, the thyroid gland is essentially an environment-sensing gland and, back in the day, there were various things that happen that sent us a message that we weren’t safe. So, in the case of cave women times, if there wasn’t enough food, a lot of time this would be sensed as nutrient deficiencies or reduced calorie intake or eating stuff that is not food, right? That would send a signal to the body that it wasn’t the best time to reproduce. And, for survival of the person in the species, it was probably best to go back in a cave and get some rest, and maybe hold on to some of that extra weight. We know that thyroid conditions cause fatigue, they cause weight gain, and they cause fertility issues, as well as the withdrawal and apathy. And so, we go through all these scenarios of how toxins, infections, how the food supply – these could all be potential root causes and all of them can be traced back to the safety theory. When you go through and think about how if there was a lot of toxicity around and there was toxicity within the body, that would be a good signal for us not to reproduce and to shut down thyroid function. If there was a famine going on, that would be a good time to actually slow down our metabolism because that would help us survive. Now, we know that people that survived the Irish potato famine were more likely to be hypothyroid. There’s just so many example of these in the world of how when our body feels unsafe that our body tries to protect us and slow things down for us, and the easiest way to slow down our body is through attacking the thyroid gland. Now, being a woman, I could tell you that it’s simply being a woman in this world is not as safe as being a man, even the perceived safety that women have. Just to give you an example, I could go into the science and all of this and [say] how women are more likely to be victims of physical abuse or sexual abuse, but one really easy example is to use the stats from a Tinder study where Tinder asked its users – they asked the women – what was the biggest fear they had about meeting a potential mate on Tinder. The women replied that their biggest fear was that the man that they met was gonna be a psychopath and murder them, right? The men’s biggest fear was that the woman was not gonna be as hot in real life as she was in her Tinder profile. And so, really, backing into this, it’s like the thyroid gland becomes under attack, slows us down, puts us in a semi-hibernation mode to help conserve our energy, conserve our metabolism and protect us from whatever it perceives as stress. Now, for women that I work with and my readers and my clients, I always say, “okay, what are you doing in your life that’s sending you and your thyroid messages that you’re not safe?” So, are you eating processed foods that are resulting in you becoming nutrient deficient and so, then, your body thinks you’re not eating enough and you don’t have access to enough food. Are you eating foods that cave women would not consider food, like processed grains and wheat, right? Humans didn’t evolve to eat grasses, that could be sending your body a signal. Are you doing a lot of exercising? So, people who run marathons – a lot of times, they end up with thyroid challenges because the body thinks that you’re under stress and the body thinks that – our ancient bodies – think that we’re being chased by bears when we’re running so much, rather than understanding that we’re competing in a marathon. There’s a lot of these different ways we can send these signals, sometimes it’s through the way that we perceive stress, sometimes it’s because we’ve had trauma in our lives, sometimes it’s because of the food we’re eating, sometimes it’s toxins, and sometimes it could be infections within our bodies that are sending the stress signal that something’s not right and that we’re in danger.
Evan Brand: You did a great job. I love you so much more for putting the ancestral lens on this whole thing because it makes sense that the hypothyroidism – this could be hundreds of thousands of year old condition that was designed to protect and save us but, now, the cellphone notification or the email notification, or twenty social media networks to check are now replicating the threats that would have been outside of the cave and, instead, we have a more toxic environment plus the influence of, say, social media and all these places that were pooled – we’ve basically created the same thing but it’s just a completely – the same situation that the nervous system perceives but it’s completely different as opposed to the saber tooth cat…
Dr. Izabella Wentz: A bear.
Evan Brand: …or a bear, yeah, right outside the cave.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Right. The interesting thing, too, is that social rejection and social isolation can actually produce thyroid hormone abnormalities. So, they’ve done studies in sheep that were separated from their flocks and they have altered thyroid hormone abnormalities. They’ve done studies in rats where they drop an intruder rat into a cage, a mama and papa cage of rats, and then the intruder rat gets attacked by the resident rat and that’s how rats experience social rejection. The rat that was socially rejected had an altered thyroid hormone profile. When you think about – we’re connecting, now, through social media but we’re very much isolated from the flock and that, certainly, can bring on thyroid disorders, as can mean girl experiences in high school or somewhere earlier in life because these patterns, they actually stay with us. So, it’s not just that it happens and then we have thyroid hormone alterations for a couple of days and things balance out on their own, no. It’s left to their own devices. These patterns can stay with us for a really long time, unless we do something to reprocess them and rebalance them.
Evan Brand: Wow. So, let me clarify there. So, you’re saying if someone had – say , a woman had a mean girls experience, she was treated very poorly in high school, she was rejected, she never felt like she fit in – that pattern could be programmed into her nervous system to basically have this – we’ll just call it the rejection switch – turned on which could then set her up 10, 20, 30 years later down the road for more thyroid issues. Is that what you mean?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yeah, absolutely. So, social rejection is an example, having trauma as a child, having physical abuse, having sexual abuse – all of these things have been connected to long-term changes in how we perceive stress and in long term changes of, basically, our self recognizing itself or attacking itself. And so, we need to essentially reset and reprocess these patterns, otherwise, we can make ourselves – we’re sending these signals to the thyroid gland that we’re under attack and you think about when a person has had some negative trauma or experiences in their life, they’re led to believe certain things about the world and about themselves and it’s usually [that] the world is not a safe place: I’m not safe here. I’m not good enough. I have to fight. There’s something wrong with me. And, when you send these messages over and over and you’re thinking them within your body, it’s not far-stretched to suggest that, perhaps, the body might follow and start rejecting a part of yourself as well.
Evan Brand: Wow. That’s a trip. Let’s talk about some of the numbers just for a couple of minutes about testing. I want to ask about antibodies because you’ll have people that will send over bloodwork maybe that they’ve had run from a different practitioner or they’ve got it several years ago and you’ll look at some of these reference ranges. Now, I know there’s a functional medicine range and you got the conventional range, but what numbers should people look at? If we’re looking at TPO or the TG antibodies, what number becomes a concern? I mean, if it’s a 3, you’re still below. Let’s just say if they say less than 6 is where you want to be and you’re at a 3, does that still mean for you [that] the thyroid is under attack even though it’s registering anything or is there a threshold where that number has to hit and then you say, “okay, this is a concern”.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: So, this is kind of – a little bit of a complicated question because a person without thyroid disease may have some circulating thyroid antibodies and they may play kind of like a clean-up role, and so 0 to 1 might be what we see, anything above that might be an issue but then we’re also getting into the element of – there’s something known as “seronegative Hashimoto’s” where a person might have Hashimoto’s but they might have zero antibodies. This is thought to be a less aggressive version of Hashimoto’s but it still can cause a lot of symptoms and the same damage and destruction of thethyroid gland. We used to think that this was rare but, now, studies looking at using ultrasounds and looking at using fine needle aspiration of the thyroid gland were now finding that there are a large number of people that are seronegative Hashimoto’s; anywhere from 30 to 50% may not have thyroid antibodies but have Hashimoto’s. So, it’s like, yeah, I’d like to see them as zero but even if they are at zero you may still have Hashimoto’s.
Evan Brand: Wow. So, let me just give you a reference range here. So, looking at a *LabCorp (18:25) right here. So, if we see like a 0 to 34, I use per milliliter for the thyroid *[peroxidase] (18:31), the TPO antibodies, 0 to 34 is the range and you see a 6, is that something that you would be concerned about or would it be based on symptoms and all that? I mean, if everything else is checked out okay, there were no symptoms of Hashimoto’s but, yeah, you still had the 6 on radar, what would you do?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: I would recommend doing a thyroid ultrasound for that person to try to see if there is an autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland.
Evan Brand: Wow. What would the ultrasound show? How does that work?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: So, the ultrasound is gonna be done over the thyroid gland and a few different things it will look for. So, it will look for whether the thyroid gland might have been – if it’s enlarged or if it’s been shrunken. So, either one can happen in Hashimoto’s. It will look for whether or not there are nodules on the thyroid gland. Nodules are gonna be present [in] about 50% of people in the United States and they seem to be more common in people with Hashimoto’s, and sometimes the nodules might be a way that you find out you have Hashimoto’s; sometimes they’re cancerous, sometimes they’re “benign”. But, if they’re there, that tells us that there’s an imbalance within the thyroid gland anda lot of them – actually, all of the same recommendations I recommend for Hashimoto’s can be used to effectively get rid of nodules. And then, we’re gonna be looking at the texture of the thyroid gland. So, whether it is healthy thyroid tissue or whether there is infiltration of white blood cells, which can be basically seen as kind of like damaged within the thyroid gland, and then if the texture appears more rubbery on the ultrasound, that can be an indication that it’s Hashimoto’s. So, it’s something that I wouldn’t necessarily say a person should look at their own thyroid ultrasound and learn how to read it because it’s gonna be a bit more complicated but, definitely, I recommend every person have a thyroid ultrasound done at least once and then have a pathologist [or] radiologist interpret that for you and give you a full report so that you know exactly what’s going on. They’ll let you know if you have changes consistent with Hashimoto’s. They’ll let you know if you have nodules. They’ll let you know if your thyroid gland is enlarged or if it’s the right size. And so, this is something – (sighs) yeah, at least once a year and for people – I’m sorry, at least once in a lifetime, and then if you have nodules then you have that done once a year to try to determine if they’re shrinking based on the interventions that you’re making.
Evan Brand: Got it! Okay, well said. Now, the next natural question becomes: Well, what’s the conventional approach to this? If you go to your standard doc or even someone who claims that they’re integrative and you ask for a thyroid ultrasound, is that pathologist or radiologist – are they gonna be able to accurately identify and diagnose some type of Hashimoto’s issue present with the thyroid?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yeah. Actually, what I’ve seen is that they can. So, that usually is, I would say, from a conventional medicine standpoint, they usually do get that right. What they don’t necessarily get right is the treatment after that point, right?
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: So, then they’re like, “oh, well, your thyroid is showing signs of Hashimoto’s”, or, “you have nodules”. And then, the recommendations that come from the conventional doctor, not the person that interprets the report, are gonna be, “well, we can give you meds, we can wait and watch, or we could cut out your thyroid” or…
Evan Brand: My goodness.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: … – which are never – cutting out the thyroids, to me, that should be a last resort.
Evan Brand: Wow. So, you feel like that Hashimoto’s is well-established, at least, into the these conventional communities that if someone went down the street to their standard MD and got the referral and got the ultrasound done, you think that they have a good chance of getting a proper diagnosis if something was going wrong on the ultrasound.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yeah, absolutely. The only challenge is, of course, if the ultrasound is normal or, in some cases, a person might have nodules but the ultrasound might not have the right kind of changes – it might not give them enough information to diagnose Hashimoto’s. So, in some cases, they would do a fine needle aspiration of the nodule and when they do that and they test the nodule to make sure it’s not cancerous, they can also test it for Hashimoto’s. So, they could take that little bit of thyroid tissue and they can analyze it and let you know if it’s showing the white blood cells that are infiltrating the thyroid glands. That’s another more advanced method. Obviously, I wouldn’t recommend everybody to stick a needle in their thyroid glands and look at it under a microscope. It’s usually reserved for people who have nodules because, obviously, this is a much more invasive procedure than doing a blood test or an ultrasound. But, when you do the fine needle aspiration, you can find additional cases of Hashimoto’s that the ultrasound and the antibodies would have missed.
Evan Brand: Okay, that’s well said. So, you may not have to recommend someone go for all three of those at once, would you say, if you had to do an order of operations, would it be blood testing, ultrasound, and then the fine needle aspiration – 1, 2, 3?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Exactly. And, the fine needle aspiration would only be if you had nodules.
Evan Brand: Okay. Got it, got it. Okay, so, you mentioned the liver – why does the liver come into play and when does it come into play? For example, if you’re working with a client, are you gonna bring adrenal support on board first? Are you gonna bring liver support on board first? Is it kind if case by case dependent or is there kind of a set staging of things that you arrange these to?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: I used to bring adrenal support first, and that was sort of the functional medicine training, as you do – the adrenal, gut, and then the liver, right? Adrenal, gut, and detox. I was having some clients where I was putting them on adrenal supplements or I was putting them on various – even vitamins like B-vitamins, and they would have adverse reactions to them. What I figured out is that, a lot of times, they have toxic backlogs where a lot of them had multiple chemical sensitivities, they were just uber sensitive to everything, even supplements that were very, very benign and not likely to cause an adverse reaction; they were reacting to their thyroid hormones, they were reacting to every single filler. And so, what I started doing with this group of people is I started putting them on liver support first where I would say, “okay, we need to clear out some of that backlog before we actually can put you on supplements”. I wasn’t really expecting to see big changes in how they felt but what ended up happening was, within two weeks, I ended up seeing tremendous health breakthroughs in people that I didn’t see before when I was doing the adrenal support, the gut support, it would take me many months to see big changes in symptoms. And so, with the liver support, I was seeing people having better mental clarity, losing weight, their headache’s going away, their allergy’s reducing, their pain reducing within just two weeks. I ended up starting this with my clients and then when I created a group program I just decided off that bat, “let’s just start everybody on liver support because that’s gonna bring people on the same playing field.” So, [it’ll] level the playing field for everybody if we just do liver support to start with, and then 65% of my people who were started with liver support actually felt significantly better within the first one to two weeks. So, I used to work on outcomes research when I was working in public health as a consulting pharmacist there so I’m a little bit OCD about that, trying to figure out what interventions are actually an improvement, what changes am I making for my clients that are an improvement. And, I always do this with my clients or anybody that’s in my programs where I harass them and I try to get really good outcomes to try to figure out: Okay, is this working? Is this working for one person only or is this working on a population health level? And so, this was really, really great because I did this outcome survey and 65% of people felt significantly better. And, just to give you some examples of the things that improved, one woman – this was around Christmas time, about two years ago – she sent me a message and said, “oh, my goodness. I used to have multiple chemical sensitivities…”, she had headaches, she had elevated thyroid antibodies, pain in her body, and mood alterations, and I think I might have mentioned migraines. But, within the first week of doing the liver support, she got in touch with me, she left me a message and said that she was at the mall shopping with her kids for Christmas for the first time in many, many years. At the shopping malls, a lot of the stores like the Yankee Candles and the Abercrombie’s, they spray perfumes and all these things that are supposed to attract customers into their stores or give the brand experience, right? But, what ends up happening is, for people that have multiple chemical sensitivity, this is hugely reactive for them and some of them can’t even step into a shopping mall. This woman was saying she was going into Abercrombie, she was going into Yankee Candle store with her kids, and it was a non-issue for her – that her pain went away, her headaches were gone, her mood got better. I don’t if it was because she was more free to do things in the world or if it was as a result of the liver support; next time we tested her antibodies, those reduced as well. We still had to do additional interventions but it was like, “wow, that’s beautiful. You can really kick start a person’s healing with just a two-week liver support protocol.” And so, this is something that I do across the board with everybody now and this is what my book, “Hashimoto’s Protocol” – this is the very first fundamental protocol that I have people follow for two weeks.
Evan Brand: That is awesome! I mean, what a great story! I’ve been affected by fragrances myself. Sometimes I’ll go into a bathroom and I’ll just put my shirt over my nose because you’ll walk in and you’ll (imitates spraying sound) hear the spray of the freshener right on to you. Now, and this is a little bit of a tangential question but, if someone were sensitive before, like this woman, you gave her the liver support then she was not sensitive anymore, would you still say, “hey, look, you really don’t want to be hanging out in Yankee Candle stores”, or do you feel like, with the adequate liver support and all of these other foundations in place, that she could still be in those stores without having big trouble?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: It’s kind of like – the way I think about the liver, it’s sort of like this government worker and when the government worker has way too many papers to process, then the government worker gets really cranky and sluggish and doesn’t process anything for you. So, you’ll be like, “hey, can you do this one thing for me? This paperwork will only take you a minute,” and they’ll say, “okay, I have a 6-month waiting list to process that one minute application.” And so, this is sort of what’s happening with the liver. We get so many toxins from everywhere in our environment, right? And, when you have an autoimmune condition, this actually makes the situation even worse. The longer you’ve had it, the more toxicity you’re gonna build up. So, we talked about sweating, how great that is for detoxifying, right? We know that people who are hypothyroid or have Hashimoto’s are less likely to sweat. No, it’s never one of the big things that people come to me and complain about, “oh, I just wish I could sweat”, no, most people don’t mind but, really, hypothyroidism makes a person less likely to sweat. And so, then, they’re not excreting toxins through their skin. Then we have the antibodies and circulating immune complexes when we have Hashimoto’s and those are *formed to foods, those are formed to the thyroid gland, those are formed to our body tissues (31:10) when we have autoimmune disease, and those get kind of stuck to the liver. And then, we have, potentially, medications that people are taking; those get shunted to the liver. Then we have a person who has a leaky gut which is present in every case of every autoimmune condition. So, then, that detox pathway is not working as well, so then the liver gets the extra burden. And, of course, when we’re using personal care products, when we have gene mutations – all of this is like the perfect storm of just having way too much stuff for the liver to handle. And so, my process is to support liver pathways and to also reduce the kind of bombarding of yourself with all these chemicals. So, during the two-week process I actually have people remove things from their environment like the low-hanging fruit that are causing a backlog. So, we’re removing inflammatory foods that are gonna cause those circulating immune complexes. We’re having women and men go on a personal product cleanse where they get rid of those personal products. So, yeah, definitely, I recommend staying away from the Yankee Candle stores and those kinds of – the Uber cars with all of the air fresheners. So, you want to kind of not give your body, not give that office worker, all these extra things to process. You want to take that two-week period and really give your body, your liver, an opportunityto catch up on all that backlog paper work. And then, at that point, you adjust your lifestyle and you kind of maintain it where – I don’t recommend that you go and spend every single day at the mall but you should be able to go shopping with your kids and that it’ll be fine without you getting really sick.
Evan Brand: Got it, got it. Well said. So, you mentioned Uber and air fresheners. Do you know how much hate mail I got when I sent my email list and email about my petition. So, I’ll make a long story short, when my wife and I were in Florida, we took an Uber. The guy used an air freshener bomb in the car and we had miserable headaches by the time we got out. I think any person would have had a headache. I created a petition to the CEO of Uber and it’s got like 11,000 signatures. I got so much hate mail saying, “oh, you’re gonna nerf the world. Let’s just ban everything,” but you’ve just outlaid this. This is not something to laugh or poke fun at, this is a real issue that can definitely affect even thyroid function in this case.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Oh, my goodness. There’s so many chemicals in our environment that are potentially thyroid-disrupting chemicals. When you think about the whole canary and the coal mine – the whole story is, back in the day, in order to sense toxins, the coal miners – before they made the coal miners sick, they would put canaries in the coal mines and once the canaries started getting sick and dying that’s when you knew that there were toxic levels within the coal mines and they needed to be evacuated. Now, I think the thyroid gland should actually be a canary (chuckles) gland, right? It’s called the butterfly-shaped gland but it’s actually kind of like that canary in the coal mine because it concentrates things around us. It’s meant to concentrate iodine but, in many cases, it concentrates whatever’s in our environment. And so, the thyroid gland is, oftentimes, gonna be the first thing affected when we have these levels of toxins around us. Now, fluoride, triclosan that’s found in antibacterial soaps and in toothpaste – it’s been banned from soaps but not from toothpaste – these are toxins everyday that we’re exposed to. It’s constantly building up in the thyroid gland. All of the different smells and perfumes – think about the message that’s sending to your body. If you spend 20 minutes [or] an hour in an Uber and you’re in this ultra-concentrated smell of toxins, that’s gonna send a message to your body that the world is a toxic place because cave women didn’t have Ubers, right? And so, we’re basically – our ancient body is sensing this intense, intense toxic load around us. And so, it’s a way of understanding that our body’s trying to protect us and how do we send those messages of safety to the body and, definitely, avoiding things that could be sending you those negative messages is key.
Evan Brand: Well, maybe a smaller goal for this year, then, is you and I can chat about a way to get my petition to hit like a 100,000 signatures or something so maybe the CEO of Uber will pay attention to it and, maybe, at least have like a fragrance free option on the app where that way you can check that if you prefer to avoid fragrance and then fragrance-free drivers will come pick you up.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Oh, my goodness, I love the fragrance-free option because there’s – I mean, if you’re not chemically sensitive then you probably might become chemically sensitive if you’re riding around in an Uber, right?
Evan Brand: Agreed, agreed.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: And the drivers as well!
Evan Brand: I know, I know. So, anyway, I just wanted to let you know. I thought that was crazy. I got so much hate mail [with] people saying, “wow, this is ridiculous. I can’t believe you created a petition for that.” But, I think it’s totally valid.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: I think some people may not be sensing the effect that it has on their body. They may not be connecting that Uber ride or that time they were exposed as something that’s toxic to them. For me, one of the things – and this is kind of another layer that I cover in my book but it’s a matter of toxins is – there’s two ways that you can become reactive to a toxin, one is obviously if you just have a lot of the toxin in your body and so that’s just like huge amounts of toxin; but then there’s people that might be sensitized to specific toxins. For example, mercury, for some people, may be highly sensitizing even in tiny amounts, nickel is another example. If you know, some women, they can’t wear any kind of earrings that are not real silver, real gold, because they’re nickel-sensitive. So, they’re not able to wear that cheap jewelry, right? And so, this is a sign that the person is chemically reactive to something, even in small amounts. For me, I’m actually very chemically reactive to formaldehyde.
Evan Brand: How’d you find that out?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: How [did] I find out? Probably in my undergrad, during anatomy class where I fainted. (chuckles)
Evan Brand: Wow. Seriously? Like, doing dissections of animals?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yeah. At first I thought it was because I was grossed out by it, which was a part of it, but then this happened in animal biology, animal anatomy, and then it happened in human anatomy as well, and then later on it happened at IKEA where I was just walking around the MDF and the particle board furniture – that actually is very chemically reactive for me.
Evan Brand: Oh gosh.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Now, my reaction has lessened since that time since I’ve done all of the detox. But, I definitely try to avoid things like having MDF around me because I’m chemically reactive to formaldehyde. There’s a lot of different toxins that people may be reactive to: mercury, formaldehyde, nickel, and just even small amounts of that can set a person off. So, there may be some people who build up the toxins and then maybe there are other people that are just immediately reactive.
Evan Brand: That is incredible. So, you’re saying even though you’ve done the detox and you’ve cleaned up your life, you could still be sensitive to it. Like for me, I may not have to assume that I’m still toxic, I may just forever be sensitive to certain fragrances, for example?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yeah, right. So, it’s one of those things where you can decrease your toxicity. So, now, I won’t faint if I go to IKEA. (laughs)
Evan Brand: Right!
Dr. Izabella Wentz: But, my eyes will start itching and I’ll start coughing and I’ll start having a stuffy nose and then I’m like, alright, I need to get out of this situation. But, it’s not as severe but your body is still sending you the messages that: this is not working for me.
Evan Brand: Okay, got it. Well said. Oh, my gosh. That is amazing. Well, thank you for sharing that. Let’s talk a little bit about leaky gut. I know we don’t have too much time left but how does leaky gut play into this whole picture with the thyroid, with liver toxicity, and these undigested food particles getting into the blood stream? How big – I don’t know, maybe this is my obsession with breaking down things into pieces, but how big of a piece of the puzzle is the leaky gut situation that’s so common in the clients that we work with?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: It’s huge. So, this is a factor in just about every single person with Hashimoto’s. They’re gonna have impaired permeability of their intestines and the leaky gut. One of the things that, I think you and I are both passionate about is trying to find out what the root cause is of the leaky gut. Now, in some cases it might be a nutrient deficiency, right? And so, you might do some bone broth and you might do some L-glutamine and that calms things down. And then, we’re starting to look at – okay, are there digestive enzymes that are missing? And so, we might replace digestive enzymes when we see an improvement there in the leaky gut, but then there’s also issues when people can have infections that can be causing their leaky gut. Now, one of the challenges that I’ve seen with people kind of doing things on their own is that they think that food is the only way. Food can be extremely helpful for healing the leaky gut but if you’re seeing that your health plateaus after three months of being on a clean diet or that you’re losing more foods, this is actually an indication that there’s something going on with your gut; there’s something deeper. When I did some testing with my clients in 2015, I found that 80% of people who didn’t get better or didn’t get into remission with nutrition and diet alone ended up having some sort of a gut infection and the gut infection is gonna be something that’s gonna be causing you to be reactive no matter what you’re eating. You could be eating the cleanest diet and all of a sudden you’ll start reacting to the foods there if you don’t fix that leaky gut.
Evan Brand: That’s incredible. Now, what were you seeing infection-wise? Was it more parasites? Was it more bacterial overgrowth? Was it more candida? Was there any one thing that stands out?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: The biggest thing that I would say that I found in my clients was the parasite blastocystis hominis.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: That was gonna be the most common one. I didn’t know if that just happened to be more common in the general population or what not so I wasn’t quite sure at first. And the, there was some interesting studies that – I just started studying blasto and I found out that it was connected to hives, and so people with hives are more likely to have it and then when you eradicate it, the hives go away. There’s also studies connecting hives with Hashimoto’s and there was studies connecting blasto with irritable bowel syndrome; when you treat it, irritable bowel syndrome goes away. And, Hashimoto’s and irritable bowel syndrome oftentimes go hand in hand. So, I was like, huh, that’s really, really interesting. Finally, a study came out in 2016, maybe? 2015? that actually showed that people – there was one person, a case study of the person with Hashimoto’s where they had blasto and their blasto was treated and their Hashimoto’s went into remission, which is what I’ve been seeing for the last few years with many of clients where we start seeing their thyroid antibodies go down, their multiple food sensitivities go away, hives go away, irritable bowel syndrome goes away and, in some cases, they get into remission; [with] other people we might have to dig deeper and find other root causes but that’s sort of what I have been seeing over the course is when you get rid that one parasite, things sort of get better when you have Hashimoto’s
Evan Brand: That is so magical. That makes me feel so good. Your episode in the 220’s, I believe, of the podcast, you’re the first person that gets their hands as dirty as me with looking and finding and successfully eradicating gut bugs, because I found the same thing – blasto’s huge. I’ve been seeing a lot of dientamoeba fragilis this year, which I can’t really attribute why. It seems like they’re – it’s almost like a season. This is blasto season, and then you got crypto season, and then dientamoeba. It’s kind of weird to see where I’ll hit a period of three months where everyone I test, half or more, shows up with parasite x and then it’s all bacteria, it’s all C-difficile that I see for a couple of months. It’s strange how things seem to go in a cyclical pattern like that.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: It is interesting, too, I’ll have – and H. pylori is another common one, both for Hashimoto’s and Graves’ but I’ll see that where I’ll see three clients in one day and then all of them will have something similar. It’ll be odd. It won’t even be necessarily like a test that we did but, for example, I learned from my clients that a potential root cause may be breast implants. And then, within a day I had three different clients that – we looked at their health timelines and all of them started getting sick around the time that they had breast implants put in. A couple of them actually had them explanted and went into remission.
Evan Brand: What? How – what’s the mechanism of that?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Toxicity and it’s basically – when you think about – it’s kind of like host versus not graft but, essentially, when you’re implanting a foreign item, foreign thing, into your body, your body might recognize it as a foreign invader, as it should because that’s its job. And so, in some cases, women with breast implants, and it doesn’t matter if they’re saline, it doesn’t matter what [their] composition are, if they’re leaking, if they’re not leaking – they may recognize the breast implants a foreign invader like they would an infection and then this launches an autoimmune attack on the body. I’ve been seeing this for a few years now and, finally, I just got an article about it. Dr. Tom O’Bryan just forwarded me this article within the last month that this has finally been published – the connection between Hashimoto’s and breast implants.
Evan Brand: Oh my goodness. That is incredible. Well, now, women are getting butt implants, too. So, I guess the same thing would apply there.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: I don’t have any clients who have had butt implants that I know of that have had that as a root cause but any kind of implant could be a potential root cause, whether they’re dental implants, whether they’re – even some people get dental composites and if those dental composites, let’s say they have nickel in them or another kind of substance that you’re reactive to, then that can be a triggering event for you.
Evan Brand: Interesting. I wonder about Botox, if that would be anything – considered an invader or if that’s not invasive enough, or what about tattoos, even?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Botox – so, there are actually studies that show Botox has some cross-reactive proteins to the thyroid gland. I don’t have a lot of experience with Botox. I’ve tried to ask some of my friends that specialize in it or have had experience with it and I haven’t been able to clinically hunt that down to see that Botox induce a thyroid condition but it definitely has the potential because there are parts on the botulism toxin that looks similar to the thyroid gland. So, there’s some potential there.
Evan Brand: Interesting. Wow. So, infections and attacks in general – this is a huge piece in Hashimoto’s, then. I’m so looking forward to reading your book. This is gonna be probably one of my favorite books, maybe of all time but definitely of this period of my life, for sure. It’s just the fact that there’s so many things out there that can throw you off. You don’t have to get stressed or overwhelmed by it. If you really just zoom out and get the 30,00-foot view, you can zoom in and then you go into parasite treatments and all of that but you got to find this stuff first, you got to figure out what is before you can fix it. I tell people all the time, “you got to remove the guesswork from it”, because there are so many people out there that are listening and they’re self-diagnosing themselves, they’re self-treating themselves and I think that’s great, I think the whole do-it-yourself attitude that our health community has done has gotten us a lot of good benefits but, at the same time, if you’ve not done this yourself before, if you’ve not done it a thousand plus times like you have, a thousand plus times like I have looking at people, then you’re gonna end up spending more money in the long run because you’re gonna buy supplements that maybe are not good for you or maybe you’re buying the wrong brand of supplements because it’s not professional grade so it’s got fillers that could contribute to Hashimoto’s which, I believe, you and I have talked about before. So, there’s just – I guess, maybe, what my takeaway here is you really want to look for a guide like this, both a book but a practitioner as well, having them on board [who’s] educated and trained in this stuff because there are so many puzzle pieces that if you go to someone who – they’re a “food is medicine” guru and that’s all they do, if you don’t get good results then they may just say, “oh, you’re an outlier,” or, “you don’t have enough willpower,” or, “you need to try to lift more at your crossfit box”, and that’s why you’re failing. But, a lot of that is ridiculous when you really have more clinical background because you can look and you can say, “no, you’re not an outlier. This is not your fault. This is what’s going on and this is what we have to do to fix it.”
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Mhmm. Yeah, exactly. It’s really – I think that [it’s] the responsibility of the patient to also become educated because people who are educated, they have the best outcomes. So, you can’t necessarily just give all of your power away to a clinician. Like you said, you may not be working with the right kind of person, and it really takes a collaborative effort where you’re a part of your healing journey, you’re not just giving that away. And, you also want to have somebody that if you’ve already done the clean diet thing for 90 days and you’re still struggling, you want to dig deeper and you want somebody that’s in your corner that’s been there.
Evan Brand: Just a quick question: Out of all the clients that you’ve worked with, what percent of them were or are already doing some type of clean diet, maybe even as far as an autoimmune protocol with their diet, before they start working with you?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: In the last few years, I would say, probably 95%. When I first started it was – none of them were right. And so, now, it’s because I have so much education online where I provide information on nutrition, and how people can get started, and I have my books. All of my clients are gonna be “people that didn’t get better with diet”. We end up finding that 97% of them have a toxic backlog. 80% of them, when we did the test in 2015, had a gut infection when we did just one test with them. And then, the other thing was 95% of them had low cortisol levels. And so, this was something that you can’t necessarily diet your way out of. You do have to take some nutrients and take some support for that and really adjust your lifestyle.
Evan Brand: That’s incredible. Well, I’m so glad you mentioned that. My numbers are pretty similar. I’d say 90 [to] 95% of people are doing some type of – whether it’s paleo template, they’ve taken out the grains, or they’ve gone even full autoimmune paleo and they’re still not getting results. I’m just glad for you to mention this as not only an expert and a researcher and a clinician, but just as someone that’s in the trenches with me because it gets frustrating when you see these books come out and it’s a book that’s trying to convince people that all they have to do is just follow this diet plan and everything’s gonna magically fall into place. And then, these people end up so frustrated because they’ve done the diet, they’ve removed everything, they’re so isolated now, they feel like they can’t go anywhere, they can’t do anything, and then they beat themselves up, right? So, then you get in this toxic, negative thought spiral where these women, specifically, are beating themselves up because they think that they’re doing the diet part wrong; maybe in 1% of the cases it’s that but most of the time, it’s these deeper root causes we’ve chatted about today that they’ve just never been investigated. If they simply get the investigative work done, they’re probably gonna find something that’s gonna give them a lot more room to work with so they can start seeing improvements.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Mhmm. Yeah, exactly, and that’s why the way that I set up my book is that we have the fundamental protocol so these are the things that everybody will benefit from and these will help 80% of the people feel significantly better. And then, I also have a series of assessments for people where we think about, okay, now, what are – “here are some questions about what you’re currently struggling with, what your history is, and let’s think about some of these potentially advanced root causes.” And then I have – the second part of the book is basically protocols for the advanced root causes. So, maybe you’ve already done the liver support, you’ve supported your adrenals and your gut, you’ve changed your diet around, but now let’s look at if you have blasto, how do you figure out that you have it, what kind of tests do you have your practitioner order, and then what are some of the protocols that I’ve seen to be successful. And so, I’ve listed those out for people and it gives them another kind of eye opener because, like you said, with the whole “food is medicine movement”, I love it but at the same time it can be very dangerous because people can get into a point where they listen more to this theory than they listen to their own bodies. For me, really, an integrative approach is best for most people where they kind of take and pull different pieces of what’s working for them and for their unique bodies; not necessarily a cookie cutter approach, right?
Evan Brand: Yup! Agreed. Awesome. Well, we’ll send people to your website where they can check out the book. It’s called “Hashimoto’s Protocol: A 90 Day Plan for Reversing Thyroid Symptoms and Getting Your Life Back”. To me, this is essential reading for anyone and everyone, even if you, personally listening, have not had a diagnosis of Hashimoto’s. First, you likely need to get tested just to double check and triple check; and, secondly, I guarantee there’s somebody in your life that has Hashimoto’s, maybe they’ve not got diagnosed yet. So, to me, this is one on my bookshelf. I’ve taken a minimalist approach to books. I’ve gotten rid of like 90% of them but this is one that I cannot wait to get and it’s gonna be on my bookshelf for a long time. So, Izabella, thank you so much. You’re my hero.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Oh, my gosh. Thank you! I really appreciate that.
Evan Brand: Well, tell people where else they can get more information on your work. Should they go to ThyroidPharmacist.com, is that the best hub?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yeah! Exactly. So, that’s my website where I have – I put out new articles every week about Hashimoto’s and, basically, what you can do to recover your health in bite-size pieces. If you got to ThyroidPharmacist.com/gift I’m gonna have some awesome resources for you to get you started right away including nutrition guides, some recipes, as well as how to address some of those nutrient deficiencies. We didn’t talk about this in great detail today but nutrient deficiencies are very common root causes and then they’re really easy to resolve because you start taking some nutrients and then you start feeling better right away.
Evan Brand: Wow. Well, if you have 30 seconds, let me ask you about that real quick. So, in the order of operations here – so, let’s say, the liver support, now you’re bringing that in to the front, are you gonna bring nutrient support in…
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yup!
Evan Brand: …at the front of the protocol as well?
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Yeah, exactly. So, the liver support protocol is four pieces where we’re removing foods, removing toxins, adding foods, and adding nutrients, and adding ways to support the liver; and some of that does involve various nutrients that can be really, really helpful.
Evan Brand: Love it. So, before you even get in to taking care of infections, you’re gonna go ahead and bring the nutrients on board first.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: We’re gonna be building up that resilience first.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: So, we’re gonna make the person stronger and stronger and, in some cases, they can overcome infections on their own. In other cases, they’re gonna have a much better body that will help them fight infections and along with the herbs and the protocols that we’re using. So, it’s like you lessen the chance for reinfection and you help the body overcome, right?
Evan Brand: Yeah. Love it. Okay, last rapid fire question: I’ve had so many MDs where I’ll work with a client, we’ll get some lab test run, they’ll go to their doctor and show them, “oh, look what’s going on,” and the doctors laugh at an herbal protocol. I’ve successfully eradicated hundreds, if not over a thousand, infections now in my clients with herbs. So, I’ve personally proven the success side by side but I wanted to hear your thoughts on herbs for eradicating infections as well.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Oh, yeah! Absolutely. For example, blasto – I know there’s Facebook groups and people that sort of believe that you can’t eradicate it. Now, I have a protocol that I use and involves *[saccharomyces] boulardii (57:24) as well as a few other herbs and I’ve done like three follow up tests with my people and all of them are symptom-free and they don’t test positive for blasto anymore. So, yeah, protocols absolutely do work. It helps when you prepare the body, too.
Evan Brand: Love it, love it. Awesome! Oh, man. You pump me up Izabella. This is great.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Oh, my goodness. I’m so excited to chat with you. I’m so excited to have a kindred spirit and get this information out into the world.
Evan Brand: Well, we got to bring some energy into this thing. Sometimes these topics get heavy; these get deep, they get heavy, they get – I don’t want to say debilitating but sometimes these conversations can be overwhelming for people. It’s like, oh, my gosh, and the way that you’ve outlined all of this – it pumps me up. It’s like, “look, here you go.” I mean, I’ve not heard of any other in-your-face-here-it-is-it’s-possible approach. Sometimes the message is: “Here’s my unique little niche. I’m this guy. I’m gonna focus on this little tiny piece of the puzzle just so I can be that guy,” and you’re like, “nope, I’ll pull myself out of that. Here’s this and this and this,” and you lay it all out on the table. So, once again, that is just so impressive. We’ll send people back to the website and I can’t wait to chat with you again. I’m sure we could do a whole other hour about so many pieces of this puzzle that we didn’t get to talk about today.
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Mhmm. Absolutely, likewise. It’s been such a pleasure.
Evan Brand: Take care!
Dr. Izabella Wentz: Thank you so much! You too.
Dr. Eric Osansky is a licensed healthcare professional who helps people recover from thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions through the use of natural thyroid treatment methods. He is a chiropractic physician, and while many people consider chiropractors to be neck and back pain doctors, some chiropractors receive special training that gives them the knowledge to focus on other conditions, such as endocrine disorders. Although Dr. Osansky focused on typical chiropractic conditions in his practice for 7 ½ years, he gained a greater appreciation for endocrine disorders when he was personally diagnosed with the autoimmune thyroid condition Graves’ disease. After seeing how well natural treatment methods helped with his autoimmune thyroid condition, he began using these natural thyroid treatment protocols to help others with different types of thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions, such as hyperthyroidism and Graves’ Disease, and hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. While he realizes that conventional medical treatment is necessary in some cases, there are millions of people with these conditions who have been told they need to be on prescription drugs on a long-term or permanent basis, or receive thyroid surgery or radioactive iodine, when this might not be the case.
For those people with a thyroid or autoimmune thyroid condition who are interested in restoring their health back to normal, Dr. Osansky has written a free guide entitled “The 6 Steps on How to Reverse Graves’ Disease and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis Through Natural Methods”. This guide consists of 52 pages of pure content that will show you how to restore your health naturally, and will help you decide whether you might benefit from following a natural thyroid treatment protocol.
Check Dr. Eric out at Naturalendocrinesolutions.com
Today We Discuss
- Functional lab testing for Graves and Hashimotos
- Why the conventional model for Graves and Hashimotos fails most people
- The nutritional therapy approach to thyroid health
- Other details about attaining optimal thyroid health
About Dr. Kelly Brogan Kelly Brogan, M.D. is a Manhattan-based holistic women’s health psychiatrist, author of the NY Times Bestselling book, A Mind of Your Own, and co-editor of the landmark textbook, Integrative Therapies for Depression. She completed her psychiatric training and fellowship at NYU Medical Center after graduating from Cornell University Medical College, and has a B.S. from MIT in Systems Neuroscience. She is board certified in psychiatry, psychosomatic medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, and is specialized in a root-cause resolution approach to psychiatric syndromes and symptoms. She is on the board of GreenMedInfo, Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation, Functional Medicine University, Pathways to Family Wellness, NYS Perinatal Association, Mindd Foundation, the peer-reviewed, indexed journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, and the Nicholas Gonzalez Foundation. She is Medical Director for Fearless Parent and a founding member of Health Freedom Action. She is a certified KRI Kundalini Yoga teacher and a mother of two.
Today We Discuss
- Kelly's recent trip to India
- Why the USA is so sick spiritually
- How do you reintegrate into the USA from Indian culture
- What meditation practice has changed Kelly's life
- The simple 3 minute exercise to make your day!
- Listen to it on iTunes.
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Evan Brand: Dr. Kelly Brogan, welcome to the show!
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Total pleasure, total pleasure.
Evan Brand: Hey! So, we connected by a cool method. I had known about your work for a while – maybe I’d [emailed] you previously about doing a podcast, maybe I didn’t, but either way somebody sent you my Uber petition to ban synthetic fragrances and you said: “Hey, Evan, this is pretty cool. You beat me to the punch.” That was a fun way to meet! So, I really appreciate you helping out in trying to spread the word about it.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yeah! It was such a pleasant surprise to learn that we share the same health space is not, obviously, not that shocking but because I think there are people using these cool services and just feeling an inner agitation about it and frustration about it who don’thave the overarching perspective that you and I do about why this is really a health hazard. They just feel it’s gross. (laughs)
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: So, I was really surprised and super pleased to learn that you were behind it. Definitely like-minds.
Evan Brand: Yeah. So, if people are like: “What are you talking about?” I’ve mentioned it before but I created a petition on Change.org which you’ve probably come across before and I wrote a petition to Travis who’s a billionaire, CEO of Uber, which, apparently, there’s a viral video going around of him cussing out an Uber driver. I don’t know if you saw that video.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: I didn’t have the pleasure, yeah.
Evan Brand: So, anyway, maybe not the nicest guy to try to get a hold of. But, anyhow, this petition is designed to have either a fragrance-free option or just ban synthetic air fresheners totally. I wrote up a story and put plenty of research and then Dr. Brogan came along andshe wrote an article, too, on her blog, KellyBroganMD.com, and it was all about Is Your Uber Air Freshener Making You Sick? And there’s plenty of research between the two of us in terms of phthalates and these synthetic fragrances and them being neurotoxins affecting the health of your future kids, affecting the nervous system – I mean, this is just nuts. So, obviously, this is only one piece of the puzzle but, for you, when you’re working with your patients, how big of the pie for health is the chemicals, the fragrances, the eating organic? Is there a percentage that you could say? “Yeah, this is 33% of the issue and then 66% percent [of] other stuff.” How do you break down your clinical care?
Dr. Kelly Brogan: So, I think because of my allopathic training and also my personality I spent a lot of my early, sort of, functional medicine career looking for the magic bullet, really. I switched over from prescribing meds and then I started looking for the magic cure, whether it was figuring out the culprit that was driving illness or figuring out the one intervention that was gonna change everything, whether it was a supplement or inoculation or whatever it was. In more recent years, my outcomes have really skyrocketed and I think it’s because I’ve abandoned that mentality and I’ve begun to embrace sort of like [an] “all at once” kind of an approach. So, it’s very basic pillars of lifestyle medicine but they’re applied simultaneously and with a pretty heavy-handed commitment. So, any of my patients would tell you that I’m not an 80/20 kind of gal. I believe really strongly in a one month, 100% commitment to lifestyle change. And so, part of that is addressing the toxicant issue, right? So, part of it is looking at every single purchase that you make and every single element and agent that your body comes into contact with and applying a different mindset of empowerment to that, right? So, because that’s always going to be a part of what my patients and online clients are doing, there isn’t a way to tease apart its relative impact. But, there’s no questionthat what we know about industrial pollutants and, really, the large-scale – as we were saying –large-scale human experimentation that’s underway when it comes to the unconsented exposures we encounter every single day. They’re synergistic, often. We used to think it was like the dose makes the poison. That’s what decades of toxicology research are predicated on. But, now, we understand that it’s like this potential cocktail effect and it’s this even low-dose but synergistic exposures then speak to your endocrine system’s speak to your established stress response patterns and have a specific impact on you, personally, and then, maybe, accumulate with other burdens; whether it’s dietary burdens or sleep deficit or movement deficit or other kinds of stress exposures. And so, it’s a way to drain the bucket to begin to become more mindful about these daily burdens.
Evan Brand: I love that you’re more strict with people and you’re not afraid to say it because a lot of people like to try to give a justification. Like, oh, you can have a little bit of a treat or a little bit of this, but it’s like, where does that line end? Because, then, you’re getting glyphosate or you’re getting gluten or – it’s like…
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Exactly.
Evan Brand: …you almost shouldn’t go down that rabbit hole because then it just becomes a matter of you trying to justify or feel guilty and then that mental illness part just makes you worse because then you’re beating yourself up and – that can’t be good.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Listen – Iam biased because I am an extremist by nature. So, I see the world that way but the truth is, if I reflect back to the patients I’ve worked with – I’d like to believe I reflect back to them their best potential, right? So, I’m not imposing my edicts on them. I’m just showing them what is possible if they put their mind to it. We know from feats of yogic mastery that lots of stuff is possible if you can get your mind out of the way. So, this is part of my premise that every single adult deserves one month – it’s a month of your life – one month of your life where you clear the slate of addictive foods, you clean as much of your local environment as possible, plus/minus more personalized interventions like coffee enemas for example, and you begin to pause on a daily basis; so, I ask my patients to do a specific kind of meditation for 3 minutes a day. You give yourself this month – no supplements, so there’s no supplementation for the first month so you can see what your baseline is. Don’t you deserve that, right? Don’t you deserve to at least know what your baseline is? So that when you reintroduce some of this stuff like, let’s say, you have a cocktail on day 38 and then you can’t sleep the next night and you’re super tired and then you’re craving a cup of coffee, then, at least you know. If you want to drink 4 days a week for the rest of your life, you’re not going to think you have a mental illness, you’re gonna know that it’s just because this is your relationship to the effects of this substance. But, I would argue that, and of course, I know you would agree, that sugar, wheat, and dairy, for example, are also addictive substances; that they also pull and push your judgement and cloud your relationship to yourself in the same way. And so, if you don’t have that month, you’re just going to be chasing your tail for long periods of time and that’s how people become professional patients where they’re just always trying the next thing, trying the next thing, doing another test. I used to complexify things but now that I’ve really gotten clear on this simple one month commitment everything’s become simpler in my practice and my outcomes have reflected it.
Evan Brand: That’s amazing. I want to just get people up to speed – they heard your bio in the intro of the podcast but you being a holistic women’s health psychiatrist and you’re talking about wheat and sugar, I mean, that’s so unconventional. So, I can just spend an hour just tooting your horn about how amazing that is that you’re talking about this link but I’m sure you’ve got enough of that. So…
Dr. Kelly Brogan: (chuckles)
Evan Brand: …I do want to get more specific – if ever, you’ve now zoomed back out and you’re just focusing on key foundations and you’re getting just as good, if not higher success rates, by just getting these first pillars on board and dialed in. Is that right?
Dr. Kelly Brogan: That’s correct. In fact, in my online program, “Vital Mind Reset”, there’s no labs – there are, I’d recommend them, they’re in my book, whatever but nobody’s really doing before and after labs. And, in some ways, I wonder if it actually accounts for why the results from my online program are more rapid and, frankly, robust than in my clinical practice because maybe, just maybe, the labs that I do upfront with patients are somehow a distraction and an allocation of energy towards what’s wrong. It’s possible. I don’t know. This is all theoretical. But, yeah, I do do upfront bloodwork – nothing too fancy, just at a local lab – there’s no supplementation and otherwise we’re just dedicated to the months. And, most patients are coming to me to come off of psychiatric medications but we don’t even shave off a thousandth of a milligram before the month is over. So, it’s like a “do not pass Go” kind of a thing. You must complete it or you don’t even get a follow-up appointment. So, it’s clear how passionately I feel about it and then, of course, what I’m trying to engender is an experience, right? Because I can talk to patients on the intellectual level about what’s possible and why this is really important for them to take control of their health in this way. But, the truth is if they can have an experience of shifts inside their own body then it’s done! My work is done because that experience is what opens their mind to a totally different way of thinking about health, it’s what allows them to shed fear. In my practice, the expectation is that my patients will never use pharmaceutical products of any kind – not antibiotics, not painkillers, not vaccines, not birth control pills – nothing; that’s the expectation. The expectation is there because the part of my screening process is to establish that we share the same mindset about how the way the body works and the meaning of symptoms, right? That symptoms are not just random and annoying and bad luck, but that symptoms are telling us something we need to better understand and are like breadcrumbs along a path to an important message, right? So, I can’t get them fully on board of they don’t have an experience of their body as resilient with a tremendous potential to heal, which can happen literally in the span of a month.
Evan Brand: That’s amazing. Now, something that’s interesting here is in the writing on your page about your program, you mentioned the word “isolation”. Now, what does that mean to you? Are we talking [about]…
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yeah.
Evan Brand: …social isolation – people stuck on their couch, scrolling on Instagram for hours?
Dr. Kelly Brogan: (chuckles) Pretty much! With the blow-up doll surrogate that is social media – yeah! This is what I was mentioning to you earlier. It’s been a really profound lesson to me because I don’t offer my own patients here in New York City any sort of group support, right? It’s one-on-one, me and them, a little bit of emailing between appointments and that’s pretty much it. But, in my online program, there’s a community [of] several hundred people and it’s very active and it’s really good vibes. Unlike a lot of the communities around psych med injury, or really just chronic health issues, the vibes are really – I don’t know – spiritual I would say. I don’t design it this way but it just is. It’s [a] very loving space and I have witnessed that that is the special sauce, that that is pretty much what takes – Vital Mind Reset is exactly what I do in my practice. It’s exactly the same thing. There shouldn’t be a difference. And, in fact, my outcomes through the program should be worse because I’m not screening those people, right? But, we found [that] it’s quite different. And so, I think it’s the power of community and, in fact, there’s some recent literature that’s actually speaking to the inflammatory nature of social isolation; that, actually, we have embedded psychoneuroimmunologic pathways that help to inform our behavior when we are isolated, that we need group contact, andthat there is every reason for us to prioritize that. But, we don’t live in tribes. We don’t live in community. We live in these modular boxes and we don’t even have families, half of us, anymore or meta networks of support. I just came back from India for a couple of weeks and it was really transformative for me not only because I saw what it is to live really simply but in deep community. The average American doesn’t even know what that looks like or feels like. We’re so far off the path. It’s a problem and it accounts for a lot of what we are calling mental illness which is the very expected response to something being missing.
Evan Brand: That gives me goosebumps, you saying that.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yeah.
Evan Brand: I was just gonna ask about that because I was reading your article, “Spirituality and Mental Illness”. So, you’re talking about – you kind of raised the question: Is this suppression of spirituality in the West the problem? I believe it totally is. I mean, I’ve had massive spiritual experiences, and that doesn’t have to involve religion.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: No.
Evan Brand: It can and it may but, for me, I’ve had mind-blowing spiritual breakthroughs without religion being involved.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Totally.
Evan Brand: What was that like? When you say “super simple”, what – compare that to your daily life or someone’s daily life in Manhattan versus what you were experiencing over in India.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yeah, listen. So, I’m half Italian, right? My mom is from Tuscany and we go back there every other year or so and my heart just explodes every time I’m there. They have a way of living life in Italy that makes us look like uptight robots (chuckles). We’re just like – it’s just so wrong. But, being in India was like that times 10,000…
Evan Brand: No way.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: …because – it was much deeper for me because it is – in Italy, they’re religious for the most part, right? It’s more denominational religion which, of course, in many ways, involve sort of the secular realm, your life as you conduct it, and then the spiritual realm is allocated out it here and you go on Sundays, and it’s like that kind of a thing. It doesn’t permeate the day-to-day life. In India, it was my first experience being in a culture that is, by default, spiritual. Every single person walking the land there – let alone the roots, the tens of thousands of years of embedded mysticism and tradition; it’s just the default way there. For me, it wasn’t something I could – I mean, I tried to write about it but it really isn’t something I can even put into words because it was like a soul level feeling. It was a feeling of what is missing. And, I wouldn’t even have known – had I never gone there, I wouldn’t even have known what was missing. It’s probably like the spiritual experiences you’ve had. Once you have them, you can see what it was like before. You can see what it was like to not have had that experience and you probably think like: Oh my god, I could have gone through my entire life – what if I never had this spiritual experience? I would have been half asleep. So, it’s like a way of coming into contact with a very simple premise of being held by a fabric. We don’t have that here. In America, you can have friends and lovers and whatever else but it’s really every man for himself.
Evan Brand: It is.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: That’s the nature of the American way. It’s a dog eat dog sort of rat race and, even if we consciously try to cultivate our lives differently, that is the energy underpinning our culture and, there is just a cause to that that is so epic that I’m just beginning to reckon with it. But, I think, in real terms, in health terms, it has mostly to do with psychiatry because, I think, we are blaming people – we are blaming their brain chemistry ridiculously for what is deeply wrong with our lifestyle here. In our lifestyle, as you and I know, includes diet, it includes the way we relate to stress, it includes the way we compulsively exercise or never exercise, and it involves toxic exposures, but it also very much involves our relationship to struggle and suffering and grief and sadness so that the bar for medicalizing human struggle is now so lowered that you can barely cry for more than 30 minutes without someone in your life being worried that something is wrong with you. We’re at this point where there’s no room for anything but functioning. That’s a tragedy! We’re in trouble. And, we’re gonna begin to feel the effects of that more and more because, now, 16% of our population is medicated, but that number’s only going up every year.
Evan Brand: Wow. So, yeah, basically you went there, you blasted through a new door of consciousness. That door cannot shut now that you’ve blasted open…
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Exactly.
Evan Brand: …that perception.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: You can’t un-know it.
Evan Brand: That is a trip. So, literally, by osmosis you absorbed that vibe, that energy, that was there? Now, did you bring it home?
Dr. Kelly Brogan: It was like a remembering. It’s like a remembering. It’s like, oh, of course! It’s more that feeling. That’s what I say to my patients because some of my patients worry as they’re moving through this awakening process which is strangely in parcel with coming off of these medications, they worry, like – is this permanent? Am I gonna always remain in this expanded place? And, it’s kind of like what you said: once you know, you can’t un-know it. But, we’re so entrained that, of course – I mean, I’ve only been home a couple days and, already, I’m back in my life. You know what I mean? So, that’s why I’m a deep, deep, deep, deep, deep convert when it comes to a daily practice of meditation because I was really, really resistant to committing to meditation. I got the food thing down. I cleaned up all my products; that was no problem. But, the meditation piece really is only like a couple, maybe, 2 years out of 10 for me in the past decade that I’ve really taken it to be a serious commitment. The way that my life has changed and my productivity and all the elements of alignment with your flow has changed in the past 2 years, I completely credit with a daily practice. So, for me and my personality, it’s not optional, it’s like a non-negotiable, but that’s how I hold on to whatever it is that – whatever these pieces are that I collect through my exploration of different kinds of consciousness.
Evan Brand: So, I want to ask you more about India but you mentioned you do a specific type of meditation [and] you recommend the same thing for you patients. What is that? Is that like transcendental? Is it like where you focus on your right hand? Is it where you focus on your nostrils breathing out on your upper lip? What is it?
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yeah. So, I follow the literature on mindfulness-based meditation for a number of years like Benson Institute. They’ve been cataloguing the benefits of meditation down to the genomic level for four decades. I wrote about, I knew all about it, and I just never could translate it into my own personal practice because people who need to meditate, by definition, don’t want to meditate. That’s sort of the deal. That conflict is built in. So, I was addicted to stress. I liked being stressed even though I complain about it and I just never made the time. It seems like, really, for other people to do; like, the other people can meditate. I’ll just write about it. So…
Evan Brand: (chuckles)
Dr. Kelly Brogan: …it wasn’t until I learned about – there were a series of synchronicities [and] I learned about kundalini yoga, which came to America in 1969, this guy Yogi Bhajan brought it from India. Since then, it’s sort of been a bit of a fringe version of yoga but it’s enjoying *quite a… (23:29) right now because people are learning about it and, in many ways, it’s considered to be the branch of yoga that is most focused on consciousness transformation. So, whereas vinyasa is focused, really, on the physical elements, this is really combining every single tool in the yogic arsenal so that you can wake up, and quickly, and so that you can still be in your life. So, you don’t have to go to a cave for a year and fast. You could be in your life but you spend a small amount of time every single morning, ideally before dawn, and you can move through your own awakening process, shedding layers and layers of your ego. It’s very weird. In fact, as a former atheist, I had a lot of alarm bells because – I was like, is this like a cult? Everyone wears white. It’s a lot of weird chanting – it just struck me as so odd when I first started doing it, but it’s not. There’s no pressure. In fact, I’m the biggest zealot you’ll ever meet. Most people who do kundalini are very quiet about it, they don’t say much about it. They certainly don’t coerce anyone to do it, like handing out flyers like a Hare Krishna on the side of the street. I feel so strongly about it because it’s completely changed my life. I started with 3 minutes a day, literally. The meditations are very busy. There would be a hand thing you do and then there’s a special breath pattern you have to do and maybe you’re supposed to imagine you’re looking down on your chin, for example. There’s just a lot of stuff you have to do at once. So, it’s really good for people who have busy brains, right? Because it keeps you occupied and you have an experience in 3 minutes. That’s all that you start with is 3 minutes. And, over and over and over again I get feedback about how amazing it is that you could feel a difference in 3 minutes. This stuff is all free online; you Google “kundalini yoga meditation for digestion”, “…for heartbreak”, “…for cultivating intuition”, “…for self-love”, Google anything and you’ll find one that you can adapt down to 3 minutes. It will say do it for 11 but you just do it for 3, try it out and see how it feels. So, often, I’ll start people on one that’s called “meditation to act not react”, right? Sounds good. We could all use that. It’s a primer, and all I ask them to do is wake up in the morning – because this is what works for me – wake up in the morning, don’t brush your teeth, don’t do anything; sit up in bed and do it right then – 3 minutes, and you’re done! You move on with your day and you’ve already done something awesome for yourself. And, of course, now, I do 45 minutes every morning and it’s a non-negotiable. It’s a totally non-negotiable aspect of my life. So, I don’t care what my patients do. They don’t have to do kundalini yoga. They can pray to a leprechaun for 3 minutes, I don’t care. But, they must, must, must stop and do this once a day for 3 minutes every single day. 3 minutes every –
Evan Brand: So, you set an alarm?
Dr. Kelly Brogan: I do, although I wake up before it every morning. I used to – I’m such a workaholic – I used to go to bed at, like, 2 in the morning just reading, writing, whatever I felt I needed to do, especially after I had children. I’d put them to bed at 8:30 and I was like, oh my god, my night is starting. So, for me, now, to be – I go to bed with my girls now. When I’m home, I go to bed with them at 9. That’s when I got to bed – 9 o’clock. As a New Yorker, that’s like – I can’t even believe that that’s my life. But, you know what, that’s because I’m committed to a 5:30 wake-up no matter what! So, if I go to bed at 11, it’s gonna hurt all the more for me when I wake-up at 5:30. So, I train myself, now, that I go to bed at 9, and you know what? My productivity is so – it’s incomparable. It makes me feel like I was asleep for the past 8 years, relative to what I can get done today. I’ve heard many people describe this phenomenon that if you just go to bed (laughs), just go to bed, you will get more done in your waking hours; especially if you set the template of your day and your stress response with early morning meditations. So, I’m big into it.
Evan Brand: So, last – well, now, we just had daylight savings time so we sprung forward, but the baby’s been going to bed at, like, 7:30 and, the other night, my wife laid down and I was going to lay down, I looked at the clock and it was 8:04, and I thought, wow! I actually don’t feel bad about this at all.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: (laughs)
Evan Brand: I’m not waking up at 5. I’m waking up at, like, 6:30. So, it makes me wonder, maybe I should set an alarm. So, you have an alarm set for 5:30, then, but you’re saying you wake up before the alarm?
Dr. Kelly Brogan: I always do. And, you know what? That happens to most people who go to bed 8 hours before your alarm is set. You’re going to wake up before it. It doesn’t mean it’s easy. It is painful every single morning for me…
Evan Brand: Really?
Dr. Kelly Brogan: …to get out of bed. It’s painful! And so that’s why some people are waiting for it to feel like The Sound of Music or something when they’re waking up in the morning. It’s not gonna be like that. For most people, there’s like 3 to 5 minutes where it just sucks! It just sucks. You move through it and you get on your mat or you sit up in your bed or whatever you need to do and then it will begin to feel really sweet.
Evan Brand: Okay. Perfect.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: (chuckles) That’s my infomercial on meditating.
Evan Brand: (chuckles) I love it! Thank you so much!
Dr. Kelly Brogan: (laughs)
Evan Brand: You’re the best! Okay. So, now, I got to ask the honest question: How in the hell are you doing reintegrating into Manhattan from India? I mean, I’m – honestly, I’m very thankful and I hope that this is a pleasurable part of your reintegration, is talking with me.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yes!
Evan Brand: For you to do that and then to come back to Manhattan – I don’t know how you’re doing it. So, what is that like and then what are you gonna be doing over the next couple of weeks do you think or what you intend to pull from that experience and say, okay, I’ve got to apply this to the American world. Like you’ve got this lens now [and] you’re gonna put this filter over Manhattan life – what is that filter? What is that going to consist of?
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yeah. I appreciate that question. It’s funny because I felt – I mean, listen – and I have friends in the yoga community who go to India for months so I can only imagine – I mean, I was just there for two weeks. So, it certainly wasn’t as challenging as it could be to reintegrate but it was funny because I felt really ready to come home on some level, and then I landed at JFK and, literally, tears started running down my face. I didn’t feel sad. I didn’t even know why I was crying! I mean, I love my life! I have no reason to feel bad for my – I have the best job in the world. I don’t have Sunday dread, okay. So, it was very strange that this was happening. And then, the following two days I would just cry for no reason and it was funny because I had a patient from New Delhi and she came in and I was like, oh my god, I just came back from India! And I started crying and I was talking about how beautiful it is, and she was looking at me like I’m really certifiable. She, being from there, I don’t think she could see what I could.
Evan Brand: Exactly.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: There’s this famous quote from the Dalai Lama that talks about how the Western woman will save the world – “woman” being a very general term. And so, my sense coming back was like, yes, Westerners – maybe, particularly women, I don’t know – going over and spreading their energy around the world to pick up these lost, sort of indigenous flavors and ancestral, traditional wisdom – for us, it has such a power because of the infrastructure and bedrock of our consciousness being so skewed in masculine energy that maybe there is some truth to that. Maybe, for me, as a Westerner to be exposed so that I can I see it and feel it in a way that someone from there is hard to even appreciate. So, my agenda and my mission is to basically reclaim the human experience from the grip of the pharmaceutical industry. This is a very elaborate web to untangle because our authority structures, our FDA, our government, and the many, many people who have bought into the notion that we are protected by these agencies who look after our well-being are colluding in a story that basically says that the human experience is rife with potential dangers, that people are sick and chronically so, that to abandon Western medicine is dangerous. So, the fear is so pervasive that the only chance I have in my activism and my mission is to cultivate experiences of soul contact, right? So, the more you have – people have the experiences you’re describing where you have contact with your own soul, where you have contact of being a part of something bigger, where you experience deep grief and then, an hour later, a kind of joy that wasn’t available to you before you experienced that grief, the more we hold space for these kinds of micro self-initiation experiences, the more a knowing is going to bubble into the surface that what we are doing is wrong and it’s not working and it is leading us down a blind path with promise, after promise, after promise, that these promises are not being fulfilled, that taking the edge off is a worthwhile consideration. Depression is very dangerous or – well, obviously, when someone’s bipolar they need medication. These are all the means that I have tried to deconstruct because the kinds of experiences that my patients, and personally, write about and talk about – I’ve started to do video interviews to prove to everyone what I’m talking about with patients and program clients. It’s so much more incredible than anything that’s available to you through the Western model. It’s like of an epic kind of beauty that’s happening at this accelerated rate right now in human history. We have so much access to awakening right now, maybe because we have so much information and the tools can go right into people’s hands. They don’t need a doctor. I’m a totally unnecessary part of this puzzle. So, it’s a really cool time we’re in and I hope to just – I don’t know what’s next but I hope to just continue everyday, to recommit to creating a more beautiful experience for all of us.
Evan Brand: Well, I think you’re totally necessary because you have to pass the torch and be the light in so much sea of darkness. Even if that’s your role, I think you’re very important for that role because it is a dark place, typically, when we’re talking about mental illness and, typically, there is so much fear. So, for you – if I can put words into your mouth and you tell me if that’s right or not – to overwhelm the fear, you’ve got to have, whether it’s spirituality, but you’ve got to have something that’s going to fill up the soul which can then overpower the fear.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Exactly.
Evan Brand: That’s it.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: That’s beautiful and exactly it. I learned that totally in a backwards way because I came from a place of scientism, right? It’s a term for what I – that was my religion. I really believed that science was everything and if science didn’t have the answer then it didn’t exist. So, as a belligerent atheist – so, all of this – I mean, my transformation is so 180 that it helps me to have empathy for people who are not there yet because I’ve been on the other side. But, this side that I get to bask in now everyday, it’s just so liberating to live life without that feeling of: oh god, when am I gonna get cancer? What about Zika virus? And, oh my god, did you hear about – it’s just not the way I live. I’m not afraid of anything. I don’t feel stress. I trust, if shitty things happen, that there is some reason and some important message in it. It’s not easy. It’s not like I float through life on a cloud but I’m grounded by something that just makes everything okay, and that’s all I want – for people to fundamentally reconnect to an “okay-ness”. But, I think you’re right! It needs to come from some sort of an embracing of a gratitude and a lightness and some sort of meaning – suffering ends where meaning begins, as sometimes stated. It’s a tall order but I think it’s more available to us now than, maybe, ever before.
Evan Brand: Agreed. Now, I know we got to wrap this up but can I summarize but saying it sounds like what you’re saying is you’ve got this choice – everyone has a river [and] the river is gonna flow no matter what, so you’ve got the choice whether you’re gonna try to stand there and you’re gonna try to build a dam and you’re gonna put this stick in place and then this wall and then this bigger stick and this bigger dam to hold it back and that damn dam is gonna bust, or you just have to flow downstream and it’s much easier to readjust your coordinates as you’re flowing downstream.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: 100%. I think that water metaphors really work. I often talk to my patients about how when you’re feeling like you’re drowning, you can thrash around and freak out, and you probably will. You’ll probably manifest exactly your worst fear but if – what we all know – if you just float – your body actually has a built-in mechanism, an anti-drowning mechanism – all you do is float. So, it’s a nice construct and it’s a nice idea to talk about going with the flow but it becomes so much easier – the first challenge you meet with that mindset – the first time you get the symptoms of the flu, let’s say, and the first time you commit to seeing that experience through without medication, supporting yourself naturally, even if it lasts three weeks, whatever it is, the very first time you do that – if you get to the other side, not only has your body had a learning experience and an upgrade, so to speak, biologically but your mindset is subtly shifted and it will become easier the next time you want to approach life with that embracing, not fighting, mindset. So, it is practice. It’s a daily commitment. It becomes easier the more experiences you have that affirm this sense that there is a flow, a design, that there is a meaning that we have to reach for; and that extends all across human experience, from health to interpersonal relationships. So, it’s exactly as you said, going with the flow ends up preserving a lot of precious energy.
Evan Brand: It’s corny and cliché, and a lot of people hate clichés but they’re there for a reason – they work.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: That’s true! It’s true.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: You make me think of my wife when she gave birth to our daughter naturally and she didn’t think she was gonna be able to do it because she said her pain tolerance was so low, and then after it was all over she said, “I’m so glad I did that because now I know what I’m capable of.”
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Yes!
Evan Brand: “I’m much more powerful than I thought I was.” I’m like, holy crap…
Dr. Kelly Brogan: You see! Oh, that’s like my anthem! (chuckles) Yes! Yes! Yes! That’s all I have to say about that. Exactly, exactly!
Evan Brand: Well, we got to wrap this thing up. I’m sure we could chat for much longer but…
Dr. Kelly Brogan: I – (laughs) exactly.
Evan Brand: …we both got to roll. So, we’ll send people back to your website KellyBroganMD.com and then is there any other things or places or words that people should know about before I let you go?
Dr. Kelly Brogan: That’s – I mean, that’s it. I try – I have a newsletter. I try to keep people sort of updated on whatever I [have] on top of my mind and also to share these stories so that people know, like your wife said, what’s possible. I’m really into creating this space for that template and so, yeah, that’s all on my website.
Evan Brand: Well, thank you so much. I look forward to chatting with you again. We’ll have to do this again sometime this year.
Dr. Kelly Brogan: Absolutely! Total pleasure, Evan, total pleasure.