Dr. Justin Marchegiani and Evan Brand discuss their effective functional medicine programs and how they create and follow protocols. This interview goes in-depth about the world of functional medicine practice.
Find out why you shouldn’t wait for something to happen before doing anything about it health-wise. Discover the differences between Body System One and Two and how optimal health can be attained. Learn about the various tests you can take and the right tools that are available to further achieve better and more effective results with functional medicine.
In this episode, topics include:
01:26 Get help as early as possible
07:00 Body System One
10:19 Diet and lifestyle
17:16 Body System Two
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Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey, Evan, it’s Dr. J in the flesh. How we doin’ this Monday?
Evan Brand: Hey, man! I’m doing great. How are you?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I’m doing great. Can’t complain. It’s a little rainy Monday here in Austin. The grass is getting plenty of water which is great. I got the fireplace on behind me, so it’s got that wintery Christmas feel a little bit.
Evan Brand: Nice. Excellent.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Can’t complain. How about you?
Evan Brand: Doing well, man. Hey, we were trying to record this thing, and then we had choppy audio so I wanna repeat what my little rant was because I thought that was important. I’m always curious about what is the catalyst for someone to work with yourself or myself, and I had a lady this morning who had been listening to us for six months and she knew that she had problems. She had a lot of gut issues going on but she continued to just listen to try to fix herself, and then she got the diagnosis of alopecia and now she’s lost over half the hair on her head, and now she’s figured out that that’s the time to come and get help. And I just want that to be a fire under people’s butts listening that you shouldn’t wait until things are so bad that you’re at rock bottom before you get help and unfortunately, that’s the conventional system that we’ve all been brainwashed to do which is we wait until we’re really bad, we absolutely need a doctor or practitioner and then we go get help. And my advice, get help now. If you have symptoms and things are off, and this is something you’ve—you’ve trained me on so much. It’s like, “Evan, look, these issues are not gonna resolve themselves. You have to resolve issues now. They’re not just gonna magically disappear.” Did you wanna speak on that a little bit about people just waiting too long or people just not having enough reason so they think to get help?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, well, there was an interesting scenario just the recently. There was a plumber in my house a few months back and he was doing some work, and there was just like a leak on the faucet, and for some reason the leak went away the next day. So there were two plumbers there and he goes down and looks, and he couldn’t find the leak. And he goes, “Well, maybe it just went away,” and then his partner, the plumber next to him spoke up and said, “You know what? Leaks never go away on their own. If there’s a leak, it’s gonna get worse.” So he went down there and he looked, and he said, “Okay, well, we just need more flow and if you had more flow coming, it would start to leak.” And he looked a little deeper back and he found the leak and just the environment wasn’t quite right enough for the leak to be expressing itself but the whole idea was that these problems don’t ever tend to go away by themselves. So that was kind of the moral of the story and connecting it to your patient, let’s say if you have these symptoms, they’re gonna get worse and the question is, how long do you wanna wait until those symptoms, right? Pain, pay attention inside now—that’s what symptoms are—whether it’s aesthetic, whether it’s inflammatory, whether it’s mood or energy. How bad do they have to get before you start getting a—a fire under your butt so to speak.
Evan Brand: Right. Well, and my grandparents, their old house, you know, they had issues with their plumbing and they had to wait until their entire basement was flooded and thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of carpet and furniture was ruined due to the flood before they came in and got the issue. So maybe they saved, you know, a couple hundred bucks in the beginning, but then it cost them likely $10,000 or more in the long run because they waited until things just hit an absolute worst-case scenario. So you know, I know there’s a lot of people out there listening that are trying to fix themselves and you and I certainly applaud that. I mean that’s what this is all about, right? Taking your health into your own hands and us teaching you how to fish, but at a certain level, you really just have to reach out and—and don’t be afraid to get better and—and don’t be afraid. You know, we’re real people. We don’t bite and we’re here for you. That’s what this is for. The show is to inspire you and to help you, but there’s nothing that’s gonna replace a one-on-one, you know, with one of us because there’s so many courses and online things, and things that you can look into, but it’s not specialized and I’m against specialization if you only look at one person. But you know, something we’re gonna talk about today is functional medicine is a specialty but we’re breaking that down. We’re—we’re looking at someone. We’re casting a net wide enough to look at every body system, so that we’re gonna figure out what in the world going on with somebody.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100%. And so the template for how we treat patients is pretty unique for—for us as functional medicine clinicians, right? There a lot of nutritionists out there that will primarily just focus on the diet piece. There are a lot of medical doctors out there that I find that will a lot of time skip the diet, maybe focus on more of the hormones and ignore the gut. You have other people that will only work on infections, whether it’s Lyme or a gut doctor. They’re only focused on the infections. So the question is, how do we become the general or the ultimate general practitioner, where we can pull the key issues from the infections, from the hormones, from the diet, from the lifestyle, from the digestive system, and combine them together and mesh it? So we put it all together in a way that is holistic, that represents the underlying cause from each person, because that underlying cause percentage-wise may be different for each, meaning one person that may be 60% diet, 30% infections, and 10% hormones, and others it may be 30% diet, 50% hormones, 20% gut. So you gotta look at it from the perspective of what piece may be the bigger player, and it may not be the same for each person. So we may not know, but if we hit them all in the order that we consider to be the order of priority, that’s gonna give us the highest chance of hitting all of those key issues and not missing them.
Evan Brand: Right, and during the free calls, you and I block out just a few hours each month for free calls, which we’re always booked up for those and it’s a true honor to be able to offer that to people.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely.
Evan Brand: A lot of people ask us, “Hey, Justin or hey, Evan, you know, can you just tell me right now what tests we’re gonna need to run.” And we can’t because that involves a case review, that involves looking at your history, looking at the fork in the road when did things get bad, how long have things gotten bad, what else was going on at that time in your life in terms of stress and travel and relationships and moving. You know, so there really is no one-size-fits-all program. Now there are similar tests that we run on nearly everyone, but at the end of the day, it’s so case-by-case and I know people wanna just get put into a box because it makes them feel comfortable. I mean, think of like Weight Watchers, right? You know, it’s a point system and you can buy their little hundred-calorie snack packs of pretzels. But that’s a horrible box to be in and you don’t wanna be confined there. So it—it’s a box of functional medicine but it’s a box without boundaries, too, because we never know what toolbox or toolkit we’re gonna need to reach into to pull something out specifically based on—on your symptoms.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100%. So we wanted kinda get things dialed in, and we have like the pallet of our tests that we may choose from for body system one. That’s like the hormonal system and we break that up into ATF and ATM, adrenals, thyroid and female hormones for our female patients and then our ATM, adrenals, thyroid and male hormones. And depending on how deep we go is depending upon what kind of symptoms present themselves and how long the patient’s been sick. Typically, the longer someone’s been sick, it may be better to get more data so we can fine tune the plan better, more specific to what’s going on. If someone’s been maybe not feeling good for just a little bit of time, maybe only a few years or a few months, we may run less off the bat because we don’t need as much data. Typically, the low hanging fruit tend to work on people that aren’t as chronic. So that’s kind of a good rule of thumb. So our body system one test are gonna typically include high-quality adrenal tests. Well, and that depends. I know we’re going back and forth and testing, you know, the new Biohealth saliva test that’ll be out soon. We’ve been using the Dutch for a bit of time. We have been using the old Biohealth 201. I have lots of patients that come in with other subpar salivary hormone testing that—that come in. We also look at the DHEA sulfate, which is an adrenal marker of sex hormone precursors from the adrenals, DHEA sulfate. And then we’ll also add on female and male hormones to those tests, whether it’s female hormones, progesterone, estrogen, estrogen metabolites, the different kinds of estrogens, estradiol, estrone, estriol, whether we are looking at the DHEA metabolites like androstenedione or etiocholanolone. Those also get factored in, maybe even melatonin as well. So we’ll look at all these different metabolites on the hormone side and then depending on if they’re showing with thyroid symptoms, we may even run a thyroid blood test or we’re looking at all of the thyroid markers, TSH, T4 Free and Total, T3 Free and Total, reverse T3, T3 uptake, and thyroid antibodies. So those are kind of all of the hormonal tests that we may run. And we even have some different. We may even time it up on day 20 of a female cycle if they’re—if they’re menstruating to get a window into where their hormones are tapping out. We may even look at a full month long panel, testing hormones every other day for a full month, so we can get a window of ovulation and the ebb and flow of the hormones throughout the month, just to make sure it’s optimal for fertility.
Evan Brand: Yup, well said. So body system one. I mean, this is the foundation, you know. You talk about these people that just focus on the gut and we’ve dealt with that. I mean a lot of times and I know you hear this just as much as me if not more, “Oh, I’ve already been to 10 specialists or 20 specialists or 20 doctors. They all think I’m crazy or they said it was just the gut. They gave me antibiotics.” If you don’t get the hormones aligned and checked out, you’re kinda wasting your time really because if you have cortisol issues, you’re likely gonna have leaky gut issues which is gonna leave you susceptible to infections. So it’s like if we come in and just hit the gut, which we’ll talk about in a minute, body system two, it’s not really worth it, right? Because if you get the infection gone, but the leaky gut’s still there due to the cortisol issues, I mean, that’s kind of a bigger top of the food chain issue, right?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% and just backing up one bit, everything sits on a foundation. So the introductory foundation for everything is diet and lifestyle.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And we’ve talked about this before, but just to make sure we don’t miss it, the foundation is gonna be what you eat, when you eat, the quality of food that you eat, how you sleep, how you move, how you deal with stress, and hydration. So that’s gonna be a really important piece of the puzzle. Making sure we’re eating nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, low toxin foods. Making sure the diet is dialed in for you. Now what does that mean for you? Well, if you’re just a little bit sick, maybe you’re kinda in the middle, it’s not too bad, a Paleo template may be good to start with. Alright, no grains, no legumes, no dairy. If we’ve been sick for longer, maybe we have a history of autoimmunity in the family, or there may be known autoimmunity in yourself or known autoimmune symptoms, well, the next step may be an Autoimmune Paleo template where we go to the next step which is cutting out nuts, nightshades, and eggs. And then from there if there’s excessive gut issues, we may look at specific carbohydrate diet where we cut out salicylates and phenols and peel our vegetables and—and make sure everything’s well cooked and mash our foods. We may even look at a GAPS approach where we focus more on bone broth and soups and—and the same type SCD stuff, more in a liquid, palatable—a liquid, more palatable type of form. And we may even go to a low FODMAP diet where we cut out the fermentable carbohydrates–fermentable oligo-di-po—let’s see, fermentable oligo-di-mono and polysaccharides. So it’s your—your fermentable carbohydrates, your fermentable sugars. So we may add that piece onto it just to make sure that we’re taking as much stress off the body. We’re stabilizing blood sugar. We’re not adding toxins from the pesticides and chemicals and GMO and Roundup and—and the glyphosate and we’re stabilizing blood sugar. We’re not skipping meals and we’re making sure that we’re sleeping good at night and we’re hydrating appropriately in between meals or 10 minutes before, so we’re not diluting digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid.
Evan Brand: Well said and there’s a ton of overlap in all of those, too. I mean–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: A ton.
Evan Brand: You’re going to be omitting gluten. You’re gonna be omitting–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.
Evan Brand: Many of the dairy components, the inflammatory component, then you’re going to stay away from pesticides and chemicals. I had a guy the other day. He asked me. He said, “Well, I’m not sensitive to gluten. So do I still have to avoid it?” I said, “Absolutely.” There’s no deficiency of gluten ever and just because you don’t think you’re sensitive to it, some of your skin rashes and all that is probably caused from some type of food intolerance. You know, you don’t have to be doubled over in pain from eating a bagel to—to necess—you know, to necessarily have to stay away from it, right? You don’t have to be falling over, needing a morphine shot due to the pain from gluten if you—if you have anything, any symptom, headaches. I mean I had a lady who had migraines for 20 years and it was amazing how simple it was just to get the diet and the gut cleaned up and the migraines went way. So I think people expect massive, massive symptom sometimes to be caused from gluten and otherwise, they don’t wanna get rid of it but you should just get rid of it.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, my thing with grains and gluten is if you’re gonna cheat and you’re gonna do grains, number one, the safest grain for most people tend to be white rice. So that’s tends to be an okay alternative if you’re gonna do a grain, if you’re gonna cheat. White rice tends to be okay. Even better, try doing the safer starch. You know, yucca, plantains, sweet potatoes, let’s see—I said plantains, yucca, sweet potatoes, squash—those type of safer starches tend to be a better alternative for most. Go ahead.
Evan Brand: Yeah, I was gonna say taro, too. Some people talk about that.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Taro, arrowroot, yeah, and then also if you’re gonna—like let’s say you’re like, “I’m gonna do bread.” Well, sourdough bread has actually shown to have less gluten because of the fermentation process that gliadin protein tend to be more dissolved in the fermentation process. So if you’re gonna go get all glutened out, take a look at the good, better, best side of it, right? Good or best would be abstaining and doing zero grains. Good may be doing like white rice or better—sorry, better maybe doing like white rice or something that’s fully gluten-free. And then third would be, alright, fine. You’re gonna do a gluten bread, well, it’s gonna at least be fermented, i.e. sourdough bread. It’s fermented, so the gluten and the compounds in there that may be more allergenic are decreased. But the other things–
Evan Brand: Right.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That Evan and I still wanna touch upon are the lectins, are the phytates and the oxalates, the mineral disruptors, the protein disruptors, and the high amount of pesticide and Roundup that are on some of these products. So you can at least reduce it by going organic and by going the sourdough method so it’s at least fermented and soaked, so the grains are gonna be more palatable and not have the mineral and enzyme disruptors. But again, better, right? Good, better, best. Best is gonna be at least keeping the grains out. Good or better part is gonna be in between, going like a rice protein and then like, you know, good would be doing the fermented sourdough bread option like I just mentioned.
Evan Brand: Yeah, and put it this way, it helps me sometimes to understand kind of the ancestral or the planetary perspective on this. These plants and these grains, they don’t want to get eaten–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, yeah.
Evan Brand: And digested, right? I mean, they want to pass seed on through an animal and then it come out fully digest—or un—you know, undigested, fully undigested, so that that seed can go back into the ground and grow more grass or grain. I mean, that’s the goal with birds and humans, too, if it goes through and it’s not getting digested, the goal is for that seed to be intact enough to grow more plants, and they don’t wanna get eaten.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: So that—that’s enough reason there that—that makes sense and really help me. But like, “Oh, man. Wow. Okay.”
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And it’s pretty simple, right? You know, from evolution standpoints our role, I mean, it sounds crude is just to be able to pass on our—our seed to our offspring, right? That’s pretty much it. You know, be able to survive enough so you can procreate and pass on your DNA to your offspring. That’s pretty much it. Now there’s two ways of doing it. There’s having claws and weapons and tools and teeth, so you can prevent getting attacked on or preyed on, right? That’s like the wolf or the fox, or maybe us with our weapons as humans. And then there’s the, “Okay, I’m gonna get eaten, right?” Berries, grains, but there’s gonna be seeds and things that are gonna keep the seed and the DNA intact, so eventually maybe it will go back and be able to grow again and pass on its offspring so it can live again, right? So there’s two methods. It’s either you’re gonna fight now or you’re gonna basically submit but live the fight another day by passing itself back into the soil again so it can grow.
Evan Brand: Yup, yup. Should we move on to body system two?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and then last piece that is the foundation with the diet, I’d say is also the emotions. So if there’s a lot of emotional stress, like there’s an active serious relationship issue. You know, not just like hey, you know, you had a fight here or there but you have active relationship problems. Maybe there’s an active divorce issue. Maybe you’re real problem with the child or a family member or maybe a death of a loved one or serious work stress, or stress at your church or where you go to—to have a spiritual connection, or you excessively exercise a ton, right? Those kind of things need to be looked at because they can provide a lot of stress underlying. So we wanna make sure there’s not an active emotional issue because it affects the timeline in which we expect healing to occur. If you’re actively going through a divorce or you’re having serious work issues, we may say hey, our goal is gonna be just to dig out feet in and prevent us from sliding downhill, and we may not be able to gain a whole bunch of ground going uphill.
Evan Brand: Well said, yeah, and I’ll also mention the electromagnetic fields which I’ve done–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, yes.
Evan Brand: Countless podcasts on. I had a lady the other day. She heard a podcast about EMF that—that was on the show and she bought a meter online and anything above 1 milligauss, a measure of magnetic field is bad, right? And this lady had 50 milligauss in her bedroom. And so she lives in San Francisco. She didn’t believe it. She called the power company as I told her to do and they came out and they measured, and sure enough, it was about 25 or 30 milligauss. So her meter was pretty inaccurate, but it was accurate enough to detect a problem that warranted further investigation. And even the power company was like, “Well, this is insanely high.” I mean, you’ll see some people that say anything above 3 milligauss of magnetic fields which comes from power lines is—is bad, but either way, 20, 50, that’s insane and so she’s moving immediately and she said she hadn’t slept well for months and kinda like my story that you and I chatted about when I had to move. I was measuring 7 milligauss in my office and I feel like I didn’t sleep. So I mean, that’s another cause of adrenal hormone issues that you and I are discussing and talking about with people because it’s—it’s an invisible smoke, right? If you had glasses that you could wear and see this stuff, everybody would freak out. But it’s invisible. And like my friend Eric Windheim says, “It’s like fighting a ghost.” So you have to measure this stuff and—and mitigate it, and there’s more. We won’t go into more detail today, but just check out EMF in the search bar on the website, and you’ll be able to find, you know, more episodes.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. So we addressed the foundational pieces, diet, lifestyle, emotional stress, meal timing, nutrient density–
Evan Brand: Environmental.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Toxins from the chemical. Toxins are essentially—the electromagnetic toxins, right? That’s kinda in that toxin realm.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: We hit that. We talked about the hormones, ATM, ATF. And then next step is gut function/gut infections. Now typically when we start out with the diet piece, depending on what’s happening symptomatically, if we see a lot of reflux, a lot of bloating, let’s say we have a history of vertical ridging in the nails or we see a lot of undigested food particulate or the stool looks grayer or the stool floats or we have poor hair quality or very dry skin, these are all symptoms that we’re not digesting our food optimally. So to support the diet piece, we may bring some of the digestive support up forward, and bring it into intro phase. What I mean is we may bring in some of the hydrochloric acid, some of the enzymes, some of the bitters, some of the digestive support to help stimulate digestion because we see that as supporting the intro phase. We’re working on digesting foods and making sure that piece is dialed in. So that may have to be brought up forward because it’s—it supports the foundation. That’s number one. Number two is we have to knock out the infections. So as we look at body system two, we really break it down into 5 steps. So number one is remove the bad foods. Number two is replace the enzymes and acids like I mentioned. So that’s the digestive support to make the intro diet piece work better. Number three is repair and repair means repairing the adrenals because we have to make sure that piece is there. because we don’t wanna work on really healing the gut, until we have the hormonal environment dialed in to help reduce inflammation and help heal the gut lining and help improve IgA levels, which is the localized immune system in the digestive tract. We also wanna make sure healing nutrients are present for people that have extra gut inflammation or extra gut irritation. Things like L-glutamine and the healing nutrients, the licorice root, deglycerized licorice root, maybe slippery elm, maybe cat’s claw, maybe some gentle amino acids like L-glutamine, and Jerusalem artichoke, etc. These are healing nutrients that help that gut lining. Number four is the removing of the infections and we’re able to remove the infections most adequately because of the 3 phases before it. Because of the removing the foods, the replacing the enzymes and acids, the repair in the gut lining and the adrenals, now we can come in and we can start working on removing the infections, and the infections are gonna be specific to the stool test we recommend to pick up the infection. So the H. pylori comes back or fungus comes back or various multiple parasites come back, those all need to be specifically addressed with unique protocols for each. And then number five is going to be the re-inoculation with robotics, really receding all of the good seeds after the weeding’s been done. And then number six is gonna be the retesting to make sure one, infections are cleared and two, there are no new infections as last podcast talked about, making sure there are no resistant infections that were burrowed in deeper that are showing their ugly head, and the only exception will be adding probiotics in the repair phase. Because sometimes probiotics can have an anti-inflammatory effect, and depending on how bad the gut is, we may add some probiotics in the ref—the repair phase as well as the reinoculation phase to help support gut healing and inflammation.
Evan Brand: Well said. I wanna speak just for a minute and see if you wanna add anything to it about the topic of antibiotic use and infections. There’s a lot of hate on the Internet about herbal remedies for infections, you know, whether it’s an M.D. or a naturopath or someone. You know, getting in an argument about saying, “Oh, herbs don’t work. You have to use triple therapy or this antibiotic or this antifungal prescription.” And there’s very, very, very, very few cases where it takes us more than one or two rounds to get rid of an infection using just herbs, no prescription. So could you add something to that conversation, too? I would 95% of patients can address their gut function and their got infections with herbs alone. 5% of the time we may have resistant bugs that we’ve treated, re-test, still there. Treated, retest, still there. Treated, retest, still there. And it’s 2-3 times and we’re not able to knock it out. But I’ve had people go and on the third time, we knock it out. So the antibiotics may be an option for some people. The conventional antibiotics that are typically run like the metronidazole, the Flagyl, which are the most commonly prescribed ones for these infections tend to miss the infection about two-thirds of the time. And then a lot of times the antibiotics prescribed for your typical triple therapy for H. pylori like clarithromycin, amoxicillin, and/or omeprazole like Prilosec, acid-blocking medications, tend to do the same kind of thing. They’ll miss the infections a third half the time.
Evan Brand: Well, what about this, too? What about creating more resistant strains due to the antibiotics that have been so overused? Which then makes our job a little bit tougher because people have gone through rounds and rounds of this crap and it’s done nothing.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. That’s the problem is you run the risk of having these antibiotics not work in the time where maybe you really need them, like you get in a car accident or you step on a—a rusty nail or some, some kind of infection that’s more acute and more severe based on the exposure of the microbes. So I’m always about conservative to invasive, right? What’s the most conservative type of care off the bat? It’s always gonna be diet. It’s always gonna be lifestyle. It’s always gonna be using antimicrobial herbal medicines that have been around for literally thousands of years to have a strong safety profile, to have the ability to use them long-term without resistance–
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And also aren’t gonna wipe out a—as many other microbes, any other beneficial microbes the may be present that are helpful for your gut. We won’t wipe those out and create more problems. I can’t tell you how many patients I’ve seen that have been on antibiotics and had devastating side effects, and now we’re treating them from the damage caused by the antibiotics in the beginning. I’ve seen it so many times. Don’t see it with herbs though.
Evan Brand: I know.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: But I see all the time with antibiotics so I’m always very conservative and we go up in—in gradations on what step one is. Herbs. Step two. Herbs. Step three. Maybe herbs. And then if we’re still having issues, then we go and we lean towards the antibiotics, typically on step three most of the time.
Evan Brand: Yup, yup. Well said. And just the fact that this has been used, the herbs that we’re talking about. They’re been used for thousands of years before antibiotics were invented. To me that says something about the success rate and the safety. So when people read concerns about herbs. A lot of times the concerns are unwarranted unless you’re talking about mixing herbs with pharmaceuticals, like you know, 5HTP and SSRIs and stuff like that. Yeah, you can get into trouble. But generally, there’s really nothing to be concerned about compared to the tens and if not hundreds of thousands of people dying due to medical error. That’s now the third leading cause of death. Did you know that? Medical error.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Wow.
Evan Brand: So—so this—this is real. This isn’t something were just saying on our—on our high horse. You know, this is for real. Look at CDC death or medical top causes of death. You’ll see medical error and this is from the proper, you know, or this is the prescribed rather is what I meant to say, the prescribed dose of a medication is still causing third leading cause of death, is medical error.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I know. I know Barbara Starfield has her prized article in the Journal of the American Medical Association 2000, all on how much medications and surgical procedures done correctly, right? Hey, the surgery was a success but the patient died. Hey, the prescription was—was perfect according to what the patient’s symptomatology was, but the patient had an ulcer and died, right? Just like that happens with ibuprofen 19,000 times a year according to the New England Journal of Medicine. So we know there’s a risk with conventional treatments. So we wanna be as conservative as possible, so we don’t have to go to those type of higher risk procedures.
Evan Brand: Agreed, agreed. Well said. So yeah, the infections are huge. I mean, Justin and I, we have more podcasts on that talking about our own history with infections. So not only are we in the trenches helping others remove them, but we’re doing it on ourselves, too. So this is—this is a huge piece and has been instrumental for me to get my—my weight back when I’ve lost, you know, 20 pounds of muscle from infections. So this is a real big deal in something that has to be addressed.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Correct, and I think the key thing, too, is we’re not anti-medication.
Evan Brand: Right.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: We’re all about using the correct tool at the right time, but also weighing the pros and cons. Like if we’re, you know, we got our tool bag on or our toolbelt on, right? And we have all these different tools in our tool bag, alright? And we look at this screw and it’s the flathead groove in it, so we know I gotta pull my Phillips head out, right? I’m not gonna look at that screw and be like, “Screw this, my dog must not gonna allow me to use this flathead, throw it away and then try to pull it—the Phillips in there and try to work it.” So let’s say it’s a—a flathead groove, I’m not gonna look at flathead screwdriver and throw it away, and say, “I’m gonna try using a Phillips, right?” I’m gonna go and say, “Well, this is the right tool for it. So I’m gonna put it in and I’m gonna use the correct tool based on what’s presenting itself.” That’s like if you get in a car accident, we’re not gonna look at the patient and say, “Great! Let’s just throw you on some turmeric right now and call it a day.”
Evan Brand: Right.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: No. We’re gonna say, “Go to the ER. Get the correct test to make sure there are no fractures, no bleeds, no hemorrhaging.” You may even want to be on some higher dose pain meds. You may want to avoid the opiate ones, right? Because of the addiction, but maybe some higher those pain meds acutely just because you’re in severe trauma and pain. And then we’ll get you stabilized and then we’ll get you on a really good routine after. So we look at the right routine. If we see that flathead groove, we’re reaching for the flathead screwdriver. We’re not reaching for the Phillips.
Evan Brand: Yeah, absolutely. And if you break your arm, yeah, you don’t go take a dose of turmeric and fish oil. I mean, you need to get that checked out and make sure there’s no internal bleeding, etc., etc. So there’s no trophy for—for trying to be a hero and dismissing the acute, incredible trauma medicine that—that is offered. You know, it’s just the things we’re dealing with, their 1, 5, 10, 20, 30-year chronic issues and that’s where functional medicine tends to have far superior success rates. You know, 90+ percent success rates that you and I both have.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly, and some of the things that are talked about regarding antibiotics, and I’ll put some of the research in the show notes, but antibiotics can create oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. That’s a big issue, so the mitochondria is gonna be the powerhouse of the cell which is gonna help generate ATP which is like the fuel currency for energy, and also creates oxidative stress which is just a way of breaking down your body, right? Oxidation, you leave a rusty nail in the rain, it gets all rust or you leave a nail out in the rain, it gets rusty because of that oxidation process. We have internal rusting. Doesn’t quite show itself like that, a brownish rust, but it happens—it happens internally and that creates a depletion of a lot of your antioxidant reserves. So your body has to use up more vitamin C, use up more vitamin E, use up more nutrients that would typically be used for other healthy functions. So oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction are a side effect of some of these antibiotics use. So we really want to make sure if we’re using them—excuse my frog on my throat—we wanna make sure they are used appropriately for the right situation.
Evan Brand: Well said. Yeah, and I’ll briefly mention, typically for body system two, we’re gonna be looking at comprehensive stool testing. We’ve discussed that. So whether PCR-based testing or otherwise, and then also the organic acids testing. So you hear us talking, maybe it sounds fancy, mitochondrial issues, amino acid metabolite problems, etc. but we can see and I see it all the time. Vitamin C levels, very, very, very low across the board most time on organic acids which is a urine test that you do at home and then you send that back to the lab and then we go over the results and then stool testing, you’re gonna be able to find infections. You’re gonna go through the protocol and then you’re gonna retest and the infections are gonna be gone. So that’s—that’s it for body system two. Let’s go on to body system three, Justin. So detox, methylation, making sure that people are able to actually do things at the end of the line. Once everything has happened, once a good digestion has happened, you’ve absorbed your minerals, your colon’s helping to produce vitamins for energy, your probiotics are doing the things they should be doing, now it’s time to get the stuff out of the body. We’re hoping the liver is gonna be able to do what it can do. We’re hoping you’re pooping, right? I mean, people buy all these fancy detox powders and teas, but it’s like if you’re not pooping but once a week, that’s a huge issue. That’s a great way to detox, poop and pee. How simple and revolutionary is that?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100%. Poop, pee, breathing, and sweating. It’s like un—unreal. So looking at a lot of the detox things, certain nutrients are required to detox. So you can see why number three, why detox is put number three. Let’s just break that down so everyone can get the—understand the concept. Again in this show, we’re really committed to being able to teach concepts because if you get the concept, there’s zero memorization involved in it. Once you get the concept, it’s like riding a bike. You get back on—Boom! You never have to go to that learning curve of falling. So what’s the concept? So number one, if we’re poor foods and eating toxic foods, and foods that are nutritionally poor, what happens to detox? Automatically impaired.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right? So why are we gonna work on detox off the bat? Because if we just get that first phase done, we’re starting to work on detox even though we’re not working on it directly, because it’s body system three, we already worked on it in the intro phase. Number one. Number two, we actually start breaking down the foods. That means we start breaking down the proteins into their smaller amino acid constituents and we know how important the sulfur based amino acids for operating phase 2 detoxification. Phase 2 is like the n-acetylation, hydroxylation, the glutathione production, the methylation, and we need methionine and we need cysteine and glutamine and glycine and taurine, and all these really important sulfur aminos, and if we can’t break down our protein constituents into those smaller products, you know? Ripping off the pearl necklace and pulling off the individual pearls, that’s what it’s akin to. If we can’t do that, we’re not gonna be able to run phase 2 and then frankly we need lots of antioxidants and B vitamins to run phase 1. So if we have SIBO or dysbiosis, well, our probiotic production internally from our gut bacteria is automatically forwarded or downregulated because we know good bacteria in our gut produces a lot of those nutrients for us, right? Good bacteria eats poop and poops nutrition, B vitamins, antioxidants, nutrients. Bad bacteria eats nutrition and poops poop. Bad bacteria makes you more toxic. So what is the more toxicity from the bad bacteria due to body system three? It decreases its function. So you can see how we lead up to diet and lifestyle. We lead up to digesting food. We lead up to healthy gut bacteria, knocking out infection, addressing the flora, because all of that sets the stage for body system three, so we can come in there and really support the nutrients that are missing, the pathways that aren’t working properly, and we can potentially even knockout specific heavy metals if we see heavy metals are in there with other types of chelators and compounds that pull the metals out. And some of the test we do—well, I’ll take a breath there, Evan. Any comments?
Evan Brand: Yeah, I mean, well said. I wanted to mention this comes at the end because we want to make sure that everything else has been addressed upstream. I mean we’re not going to go straight to detox if we know that you have infections and we know that you’re still getting, let’s say artificial sweeteners in your diet which can be placing a burden on the liver, right? So we want to see the liver and your detoxification abilities, methylation, this includes anybody with like MTHFR genetic defects. This includes you, too. All that other stuff’s gotta be taken care of first because we want to see what the actual baseline is. Not the baseline when you are doing so much sugar and alcohol and bad fats and artificial sweeteners and all of that that’s got the burden on the liver. So once we get all that stuff out of the way, then we take a look at body system three. It’s the, “Oh, okay, so this is the true baseline,” and then yeah we can look for heavy metals, from dental fillings, amalgams, you know, bad food, bad water, too much tuna fish, other environmental exposures, and then we can start helping to get the detox system working better because if you’re not pooping well and you have an overburdened liver, you’re just gonna be recirculating all these toxins. So then you’re gonna get the joint pain and the allergies and the asthma, and the skin problems, the headaches, the brain fog, alcohol intolerance, I mean, we could go on and on but you gotta get all that other stuff taken care first, so if you go straight to detox or somebody tries to sell you on some detox protocol first when you don’t even know if you have leaky gut or not, I would be cautious and maybe you have more to say about that, but I don’t like the idea of pushing stuff out of people’s body if they don’t even have enough trash men to come gather all of the trash at the end of the road.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, 100%. So we have everything lead up to it and I think you emphasized the whole leaky gut part right because the leaky gut as you mentioned is really the consequence of all of the inflammation, the inability to break down food, the compromised immune system, and then the infections. All of that will lead to leaky gut. So leaky gut isn’t necessarily a result. It’s more of an effect of all of the inflammation and the damage.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right? The gluten, the bad foods, all of the inflammation. So that’s kind of the end product that you get there is leaky gut. So looking at everything that you mentioned. How do we quantify it? Because you put some really good points out there. How do we actually know what’s going on from the detoxification side? Well, we’ll look at an organic acid test. Typically as a good starting point because we’ll get a window into various detoxification pathways, whether it’s pyroglutamate or other types of organic acids, sulfate—these are organic acids that will give us a window into how those sulfur aminos are doing. If the demand for them is higher or if they’re depleted. And we’ll also get a window into B vitamin status. We’ll get a window into methylation and we’ll also get a window into oxidative stress by looking at the 8-hydroxy 2-deoxyguanosine for instance. Again, these are all like jeopardy words but these are organic acids that give us a window into all these systems, whether it’s simply xanthorrhoea for B6, whether it’s the amino acids for the brain with vanilmandelate or homovanilate or 5-hydroxyindoleacetate or whether it’s markers for gut bacteria like hippurate or benzoate. So these—these markers give us a big window into what’s happening and the organics can really help tell us what’s happening there from some of those detox nutrients, and we may even look at like a SpectraCell or a NutrEval as well. Again, I lean more towards the organics because that’s my baby.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: The NutrEval combines the organics with another blood test for nutrients, too. So that’s a—another side option which at least does contain the organics and that gives us a good window into what’s happening but we always go back to intro, body system one, hormones, ATF, ATM; body system two, the ability to digest, removing food allergens, healing the leaky gut, repairing the gut lining, removing infections, adding in probiotics, and retesting because we gotta make sure new infections aren’t there and the old ones are gone. Number—body system three is gonna be detox nutrients and that’s typically where we follow suit, and we reserve the right to kinda move some things in. Like if I know someone has a ton of oxidative stress, I may throw some extra vitamin C that we may discover on an organics test, I may throw it in with the adrenal protocol. So we do things and we mix-and-match outside of that box a bit, so if any patients are listening, they may think, “Well, Dr. J gave me some detox support in body system one,” and that’s gonna be dependent upon how that person’s presenting, how sensitive they are, and how bad their detox is. We may add some small things in with body system one, because maybe the adrenal support is too much for their liver, and we need to give their liver just a little bit of support so they don’t have a lot of those hormone side effects.
Evan Brand: Totally, well said. I’m gonna mention two things and then we can wrap it up.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Cool.
Evan Brand: One for me on the organics, which I just love is the quinolinic 5-HIAA ratio–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.
Evan Brand: Looking at inflammation because you could go on and on and sound fancy, but when someone sees inflammation and you’re like, “Look, here it is.” It’s like, “Oh, crap.” Because inflammation, you know, even a conventional physician is gonna talk about inflammation as a cause of disease, right? And so when we can actually prove that to a client or a patient, it’s incredible and it’s very profound to be able to do that and then whether it’s 3, 4, 6 months later when the retest comes, and you can see that that number’s gone down, it’s very, very rewarding for both of us, and lastly, the toxin piece, too, something that Justin and I have been talking about a lot and—and I’m running on—I’m running this test on nearly everyone I possibly can–
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.
Evan Brand: Including myself is the GPL-TOX so I can look at the toxic load because I bought a sauna based on my toxic load of insecticides, and this is not a challenge or a push test so even the sickest people, we don’t have to worry about doing any type of chelation which may push some stuff out. You just urinate in—in the morning in a cup and you send it off. And the cool thing is you can run it side-by-side with the organics, so it’s literally the same urine sample. All you have to do is spend a little bit extra investment to get both test run organics and GPL-TOX at the same time, and I had insecticide levels in my body that are known carcinogens that were higher than they should be. And so for me, this is a huge, huge, huge new realm of opening up this. Look, we know there’s detox problems. Let’s fix it, but what are we actually fixing. You know, that had always been the question, right? Ooh, there’s detox problems. Man, you got headaches. You got chemical sensitivity. You can’t handle perfumes, gas fumes. Look, here’s why. And oh, man, is there anything more fun in the world than this? I mean, I—I don’t think so.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I agree. I mean, it’s like we’re CSI detectives without all the—the murder and blood, right?
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: We’re trying to put together the—the puzzle piece that’s really getting people’s quality of life back. So just summarizing those tests. We run the organics test. We run maybe the OAT, which is the—the Great Plains Lab organics. We run the GPL-TOX. We may run the NutrEval, the SpectraCell and then we have the heavy metal challenge test where we challenge, with a chelation compound, like DMPS or DMSA or EDTA to get a window into the toxic burden of metals because metals don’t want to stay in systemic circulation. They don’t wanna stay in the blood. They only go on the blood acutely in that first 24 to 48 hours, then they go into the tissue.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Whether it’s the brain or the individual tissues or even bones when it comes to lead. So we gotta get a window into it so we have to do a challenge, a provocation agent that can go in into the tissues and really kinda pull things out. It’s like, “Hey, you go outside. You look for bees. There may not bees swarming around, but if there’s a beehive there, well provocation agent’s throw rock into the beehive, right?” You know those bees are in that beehive when those—when that rock hits it and those bees come out, that’s the provocation agents. So we use that same kind of methodology with the heavy metal test. The rock is like the chelation compound that we use to see what’s coming out in the urine and a lot of times we see aluminum, we see arsenic, we see cadmium, and we see a whole bunch of mercury and lead, and it’s different for each person.
Evan Brand: Yup, absolutely, and then you got blood metals, too. Quicksilver’s Blood Metals is cool.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.
Evan Brand: There’s the Mercury Tri Test, too, for hair, blood, urine. There’s so many different things out there. A lot of them are good. A couple of them are bad, but you know, we’ll help you to make the distinction what is right for you and this is case-by-case. Some people they may not need to investigate metals. Other people they’ll come to us and they’ll say, “Evan or Justin, man, I got metal problems.” And they just have a gut feeling and in those cases, I say, “Okay, cool. Let’s get you checked out.“ It’s not gonna hurt. It can only help you to investigate. So if you have a gut feeling and that gut feeling can be disrupted obviously if you have got problems, right? Because the inflammation in the gut, you might be getting mixed signals, but if you have a gut feeling, ask us, and let us help you to investigative. If it’s something we didn’t bring up yet or maybe it’s early in the game and we wanted to do it later, just bring it up because you never know. You could be onto something that we just haven’t got to yet and that may save us, you know, a month or two of—of time.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. And again, we’ll the show notes for everything, the full transcription, again in my new Thyroid Book that will be coming out very soon, just putting the finishing touches on it, we’re gonna have a chapter in the book all on this type of discussion, putting it all together because I feel like this is probably one of the key pieces that most functional medicine practitioners and doctors really, it—it’s very esoteric. It’s kind of in the ether. Like how does it all look?
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Like what does the whole plan look like? And it just kinda like, you feel like almost like they’re making it up as they go and I think is really important if you’re gonna hou—you know, you’re gonna hike Mt. Everest so to speak, I wanna see that map. I want to know how we’re gonna go up there. I wanna know how we’re navigate that crevice and—and get across that—that ledge or that cliff. I wanna kinda feel like it makes sense when we get directions. So I think that’s a really important piece that we’re adding, is that clarity and that, you know, what’s our fu—future pacing vision? How are we getting to the top?
Evan Brand: Yup, amen.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Anything you wanna add there, Evan?
Evan Brand: I don’t think so. I think this was great and fun as always, real honor. If people want to schedule, go to justinhealth, J-U-S-T-I-N, Justinhealth.com to schedule with Justin. If you want to schedule with myself, go to notjustpaleo.com and like I said, we both block out a few hours, so you know, if there’s a spot available, you wanna grab it for the 15-minute free call. See if we’re a good fit, you know, discuss your options together. Justin and I are happy to do that and we look forward to helping you all out. You know, listening to this is one thing. Getting in the trenches with us is another, and I mean without functional medicine, I would likely still be dealing with depression and irritable bowel syndrome and skin issues and fatigue and insomnia and adrenal problems. I mean, every aspect, everything that could’ve gone wrong was wrong in my body systems and just one by one, plucking these things off the list, and there’s never a finish line, right? I mean it’s always a continual journey. So you’re just always pushing to the next step ahead and this is your time. You know, you don’t have to suffer.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Love it. I appreciate the hope and the inspiration, Evan.
Evan Brand: Yes, sir.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Great chat. Great chat. Look forward to chatting with you very soon.
Evan Brand: You, too. Take care.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Have an awesome day!
Evan Brand: You, too. Bye.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Bye.