How To Enhance and Support Fertility with Functional Medicine | Podcast #332
There are two main methods for getting pregnant and if you’ve struggled with conceiving then you’ve likely looked into and/or pursued traditional medicine. This doesn’t necessarily make you healthier, but your doctors will try to change your hormones to encourage pregnancy. On the functional side, Dr. J would focus on enhancing health, enhancing physiology, regulating hormones, etc. Even then, sometimes measures like IVF are still necessary for the end. But before we get to that, we want to look at all the natural ways we can encourage your body to prepare for baby-making in both men and women.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani
In this episode, we cover:
0:24 Two Approaches in Fertility
7:29 Root Causes
17:20 Right Diet
30:40 Prenatal Supplements
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And we are live. It’s Dr. J here in the house. Evan, how are we doing today man?
Evan Brand: I’m doing better. I had COVID Believe it or not. And that was like a five day journey. I think I’m over the hump. So if I sound a little weird, that’s why, but family’s healthy. And I’m a survivor. Now I’m going to be in the, quote, recovered category.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Love it. That’s good. Excellent. Well, today we chatted kind of pregame that we wanted to talk about fertility, talk about natural ways to enhance fertility. We see lots of patients that as a side effect of getting healthier through natural medicine, functional medicine, good nutrition, diet and lifestyle. They get pregnant, even if fertility wasn’t a goal, and we have some patients that come in with a goal of fertility and the nice thing is, fertility is a byproduct of getting healthy. So I mean, there’s kind of two approaches to it. There’s the conventional medicine side where they’re not really making you healthier, they may just be changing some of the hormones in your body. So you can get pregnant, right? IE via IVF therapy, those kind of things, right. And then there’s kind of natural ways that we are utilizing the enhancing of healthy and enhancing physiology to get pregnant. And sometimes IVF may be necessary. If you’ve done everything you can do on the health side, and you’re still not getting pregnant, that may be an option, right? But we want to do everything we can do on the natural medicine side, because if you do that, you know, 80 to 90% of people I think are going to get the results they want, which is getting pregnant. So I’m excited to dive into this topic with you today.
Evan Brand: Yeah, I would say that it’s pretty rare to need IVF based on some of the people that you and I’ve seen clinically, I’ve had several men and women and it’s good as a couple right. So that’s the important thing to mention. It’s important for the couple to get healthy the a lot of the blame is placed on the woman but in many cases, you know, male sperm motility or sperm concentration is a big issue. So the men kind of, you know, I don’t know why, but in general, the men get ignored in this conversation, but it’s really important for them to get optimized as well. And we’ve had couples where they looked at the cost of IVF, you know, typically 10, upwards of $15,000, depending on where 20,000 Really? Yeah, okay, so 15 to 20. And people come to us first and say, Well, you know, we didn’t want to go to IVF yet, because of the cost cost was kind of their main motivator, and maybe they, you know, hopefully had some sort of a natural minded bias. And so they said, well, let’s see what we can do first. And then 100 out of 100 times, so far, we’ve been able to avoid IVF for those people. And we’ve had, you know, between you and I alone, we’ve had four healthy children on our own. And then, you know, countless women that have had healthy pregnancies with our support
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% it’s all about getting to the root cause, right? And yeah, there is that whole idea of the pottenger cats experiment where pottenger was in a medical doctor, I think, in the 50s, and he had different cats and he would feed some raw food, some processed food and and then there was, I think, within three generations of eating processed food. The cat group that ate the processed food lost the ability to reproduce. So there is this idea that we’re on like the third generation or so of this pottenger cat experiment. And there is some people that are just at that and end level where they may have reduced fertility just because they’re living out the pottenger cat experiment in real life. It’s possible some of that is the case. So we want to do our best to really emphasize a whole food nutrient dense anti inflammatory diet. We know that pregnancy involves healthy hormones. And as a starting off point, we don’t want to eat foods or toxins or hormones in our animal products that could throw off our fertility. So the first step in any fertility program, nutrient dense anti inflammatory, low toxin, that’s going to mean an organic whole food diet. that’s going to mean cutting out hormones and antibiotics and pesticides, and GMOs. A lot of these pesticides are xeno estrogens, they mimic hormones as well because they affect the insects from reproducing. That’s how they kill them. Right. And so it can also have an effect a cumulative effect on women and men on the sperm count women on the fertility side. So diet is going to be one of the first things and the second thing is going to be blood sugar stability. I think this low fat low cholesterol era, skipping meals fad dieting has prompted lots of insulin resistance, lots of reactive hypoglycemia, meaning too much sugar, too much carbs, blood sugar goes up and then spikes down, which then creates this insulin surge and high levels of insulin is really what’s behind the leading cause of infertility in women which is pcls. That’s polycystic ovarian syndrome. And that the mechanism there is high levels of insulin, insulin resistance insulin surges, thus increase androgens, and then the androgens also can throw off prolactin and then that can dis regulate a woman’s cycle. So you can see There’s a lot of different hormonal rhythms that can that can go off together and create many issues. So the major mechanism is in the beetus, insulin resistance, followed by increased level of androgens, free testosterone, testosterone, and then also prolactin issues to boost. Those are kind of the big initial sequelae that we see. And of course, usually if they’re eating a lot of crap or hydrating junky foods, people that are missing that level of awareness, tend to also be consuming the pesticides, maybe going to low fat, low cholesterol, maybe not getting high quality animal products and getting all the hormones in there too. So that’s like kind of my first two things out of the gates.
Evan Brand: Yep, well said and just want to quickly go over the conventional treatments for infertility, especially resulting from pcls. That’s what we did on our gut health podcast, kind of the conventional versus functional gut health. People loved it. I got a lot of good feedback on that. So thanks for the feedback. But it’s not pretty you mentioned it’s not root cause and it’s not so you’ve got this clomiphene which is the American College of obstetrician gynecologist recommendation that’s their primary medical medication for pcls patients with infertility, it indirectly causes eggs to mature and be released. Then you’ve got Metformin, which we just talked about the insulin resistance problems. So Metformin would come in and help. They talk about it helping just in terms of population, but that would probably be just due to helping to lower insulin. That’s what it is.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, Metformin, it liquefies. That’s a big one.
Evan Brand: And then you’ve got the letrozole. This is a drug that slows estrogen production causes the body to make more follicle stimulating hormone FSH, which is what you need for ovulation. And what else here they’ve got just other hormones in shot form, which are going to cause ovulation and then the craziest one, let me just read this one here and then we’ll we’ll move on into the functional you’ve got ovarian drilling. And so the surgeon makes a small cut in your abdomen inserts a long thin tool. And they use a needle with an electric current to puncture and destroy a small part of the ovary. This surgery leads to lower androgen levels, which may improve ovulation. So Wow. And if you do all those and you don’t get pregnant, then you could go to the IVF, which is where the sperm in the egg are put in a dish outside the body fertilization, fertilization happens, and then they put the fertilized egg into the uterus, and then boom, there you go.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. Now, I kind of want to tie back to the root cause I want everyone thinking about fertility from a root cause perspective, because when you think about it from a root cause then you can say, hey, are we getting to the root cause doing this procedure or doing this thing? So first off, like I already mentioned, pcls is a big one. Now with infertility, there’s usually going to be some level of insulin resistance or blood sugar dysglycemia meaning your blood sugar is up and down. And your body has to make a lot of hormones to regulate that flow blood sugar So when your blood sugar goes really high, right, because of excess carbohydrates in balanced meals, not enough protein and fat, you’re going to surge a whole bunch of insulin to bring the blood sugar back down. Now, women that tend to be more on the heavier side, usually that blood sugar eventually start staying higher, because that’s that’s what diabetes is right chronically high levels of blood sugar, but usually before that, there’s some level of reactive hypoglycemia where blood sugar goes up and then crashes down because the body over secretes insulin. And when the cells are still sensitive to insulin, that blood sugar will drop down really, really fast. And then your body has to make a lot of adrenaline and cortisol to bring it back up. Okay. So if we tie in prolactin, prolactin is going to go high when there’s high levels of estrogen. So when we start having more estrogen dominance, Okay, first mechanism, how does estrogen dominance happen? Well, it’s going to happen one through exposure of estrogens and the environment to with gonna happen through metabolism of progesterone. So progesterone is a really important progestational Pro fertility hormone very important. When we get stressed we’ll actually convert progesterone downstream into cortisol. So when we get chronically stressed, we’re going to decrease progesterone. And then number three high levels of estrogen, estrogen dominance, that is going to start driving prolactin issues. And when we start burning up dopamine, right, dopamine is a very important neurotransmitter. Dopamine gets used to make adrenaline so when we start making a lot of adrenaline, a lot of stress neurotransmitter, dopamine gets used, and dope means a tonic inhibitor or prolactin. So imagine you have prolactin and you have dopamine level is like the foot on the brake, right. And as you start depleting your dopamine and you start getting more stress, you’re taking your foot off the brake and what happens to prolactin, it goes up and prolactin starts to go up one of the side effects Next is loss of ovulation. Right You can go, [inaudible]. So you have a couple of mechanisms, right? You have this prolactin mechanism from dopamine, you have estrogen dominance, which can affect prolactin as well. You have this infertility through pcls. And insulin resistance and elevation and androgens, right. And then also all of the food components, all of the hormones and the toxins and the pesticides also contribute to that.
Evan Brand: Yeah, those are, I would say the biggest and most important things affecting your average american. There’s a couple other small subgroups, I want to mention what I’ve seen with infertility, one being people that are overtraining with exercise, you mentioned also the period. So I had a woman who she was, she was in the small percentage, but we have to talk about the small percentage because you know, people who are healthy and want to be healthy, listen to our podcast, and so there’s people that may be overachievers will call them and so we had a lady that was doing CrossFit like four or five times a week 45 minute sessions, and just beating the pavement. Now, typically when someone’s doing that we don’t really need to run a hormone profile. But just because I knew that it would increase her compliance. If I told her to stop exercising, she may not listen to me. So we use the testing to prove on paper what we already knew intuitively, which is that she was causing her cycle to be disrupted due to the chronic stress of the overtraining. So when we ran the hormone profile, and we showed her what her cortisol look like, it was basically flatlined, except for the time of the day when she did the exercise, she had a mild spike, which is why she felt better. You know, she said, Oh, my day is not complete until I exercise that’s because her cortisol was so low, and when she whipped the tired horse, all of a sudden she got this temporary boost of cortisol and adrenaline. She felt normal and that was it. But the prescription for her to get pregnant was simply just go down in the exercise. I just told her do three days a week Max, but do yoga, restorative, do biking, do hiking, do gentle things that are fun for you, and fun. For your family, and that’s all she did. I mean, her diet was already dialed in. We did look at her gut. We didn’t see any infections there. You know, we knew that there was no insulin problem, the carbs were not an issue. And she got pregnant just by simply reducing the training. And then another small group of people are people, women, specifically that were just going to low carb. So I had several women that were on a ketogenic diet. And some would argue well, our ancestors they could have been ketogenic, right, they were out in the prairies eating the bison, and they may not have had access to potatoes and whatever else but I do believe that some carbs are beneficial and necessary for fertility and for healthy pregnancy. So I had some women that were on keto for a long time, all we did is just add in some starch, organic white rice, we did some potatoes every once in a while and boom, they got pregnant and we didn’t change anything else. This is of course after we do the whole functional medicine workup, which you and I will talk about in a minute. That was after we did all that then we tweak the diet and then boom, she got pregnant.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and I would say because information ability is primarily driven through PC OS and PC OS, the major mechanism behind it is going to be insulin resistance. I think a default template should be a lower carb paleo ketogenic template. But just because that’s our default doesn’t mean we’re not clinicians and adjusting things for the patient. So of course, with this girl, she may have done really well with that. And then she may have tapped out her benefits with it. And she may have already been at a really good place with her insulin. Because if you get insulin too low, and you’re already are relatively healthy body comp, that could also be a problem too. So this is why we have to individualize it for patients. So we’re talking about pcls and insulin resistance. And for most people, that kind of a dietary strategy is going to be a really important starting point. But for some people, you may hit the wall, and you have to adjust like you haven’t talked about others, you may have to hang out there a lot longer. So it’s kind of keep that in the back of your mind because we’re kind of having two conflicting recommendations. And that’s because everyone’s at Individual, and we have a starting point for most and then we adjust according to the patient’s needs after.
Evan Brand: Yeah, and that’s just an extreme case, but I at least wanted to mention it right? Because you always have the people that say, well, I’ve already done paleo and I still you know, had issues of course, there could be other underlying causes, you know, infections or whatever else we’ll get into, but in her case, this lady who was literally just doing like meat, and maybe a salad, you know, she literally had almost like virtually no carbs at all. So, so that’s just an extreme manifestation. But if you’re doing your, like you said, just kind of standard paleo template, you’re probably going to do maybe it’s plantains or some berries or you’re probably eventually over the day would accumulate enough starch or carbs to to fuel the fertility, but in her case, no, she was too low.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And again, if you’re insulin resistant, the starch or carbs may be keeping you infertile, right? Yeah, we can always do testing. We can always run fasting insulin and we can see where your fasting insulins are at. If there’s pcus. We may also want to look at prolactin, we may also want to look at free and total to stop Throw a see where that’s fitting to make sure it’s not, you know, in the top half top top 25% of the reference range. That’s pretty good to look at. So what’s the underlying mechanism? So if this person’s over exercising, it’s probably one over exercising, it can create estrogen dominance, right? So it can decrease progesterone. It can also decrease your dopamine and adrenaline which can be that driver that increases prolactin, right. And it can also just deplete hormones in general, I see a lot of women that are low estrogen, low progesterone, and they still may be a little bit in estrogen dominance because the ratio is still skewed, but their hormones are just low across the board. I see that a lot as well. So you have to this is why it’s super important to to test right because if you’re not testing you’re guessing. So with fertility cases, we may run a month long test to see where you’re at from day one when you bleed, all the way to oscillation all the way to the end of the month looking through the luteal phase to see how high that progesterone gets. We may just come in there and run a snapshot on the luteal phase two If patients have some infertility issues, but it’s not a primary thing, then we may just come in there with the luteal thing. If they’re really struggling on the fertility side, then we may do that full month. So I’ll typically do one or the other. And of course, looking at the adrenals are so important. Why? Because the adrenals interplay with dopamine and adrenaline and cortisol and estrogen dominance, ie via progesterone going to cortisol, we have to look at the adrenals because they play a major role as a backup generator with the female hormones.
Evan Brand: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, adaptogenic herbs are part of my life. They’re part of your life, you know, on a daily basis for us clinically And personally, and it’s a game changer. I would say it’s one of the biggest, one of my most favorite and biggest tools that I will use with a woman who is struggling with infertility, especially because there’s so much emotional stress. And there’s trauma associated with this, especially if a woman’s had a miscarriage or if a woman you know, has worked on this for months and months and years and been to several doctors in practice. And she feels like she’s at the end of the rope and she’s aging and she’s kind of running out of her her fertile window anyway. I mean, there’s so much stress associated with the emotional component of this as well and maybe family pressure when you’re going to have kids and that whole thing so, to me, that’s where adaptogenic herbs come in and not only help with the hormonal side, but the mental emotional stress as well.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. So in general, like with women and men, similar things with the diet, right men, there’s less of a hormonal fluctuation that’s going to be throwing fertility off. So keeping the pesticides, the hormones, the artificial hormones, these you know, estrogens, the growth hormones, really emphasizing good proteins, good fats, high quality cholesterol from animal products, lots of good antioxidants from leafy greens, keeping insulin in check. That’s a good first step. Of course, we can add in resistance training, we can add in mitochondrial nutrients like carnitine and co q 10, and arginine and zinc and selenium. Again, it was certain male patients will come in. We’ll run a nutrient profile and see what nutrients Their low end as well and of course, we’re going to be fixing the gut fix to the adrenals. And using a lot of those first line things, it’s also herbs we can use as well. ashwagandha is a big one tyrosine and dopa means a big one right? You see macoun as well as a big one. Why? Because dopamine helps with fertility. You mentioned earlier tongkat Ali really helps with that upstream signaling from the banana tropic releasing hormone, which then helps with FSH and LH. Lh is really important for spermatogenesis and making healthy sperm. So these are really good first line steps for enhancing male fertility. Anything else you want to add about that?
Evan Brand: Yeah, we weren’t. We didn’t press the record button yet. When we when you were now we’re talking about that. So let me just give just a quick little story on Tongkat Ali. There’s a Latin name for it as well. It’s something that’s beneficial for for men. We give it a lot to athletes, it does help with testosterone levels. And there are a couple of really, really cool papers on it. Where it’s increasing supermoto Genesis by influencing that HP ga axis the hypothalamus pituitary go Natl access. And long story short, not only did it increase the sperm count, but it increased the sperm motility. So you’ve got better swimmers. So when we talk about men, you know, having an important role in this fertility, you know, piece, that’s also a game changer. And then tribulus is another, you know, tribulus is once again kind of used in the bodybuilding community quite a bit to help with muscle mass and androgen increasing effects and all that, but it does help with the testosterone in the DHT DHT levels, which are all sex hormones that are important. And then also, what about the What about the influence of the gut? Do you want to talk about that now because I’m just thinking out loud with you here. We should probably talk about the mechanism of beta glucuronicdase issues with men and women where they would be re circulating estrogen and having issues with estrogen due to the beta glucuronicdase. enzyme being hired. Due to like a bacterial overgrowth problem, for example.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, so in functional medicine, right, we may look at things a little bit closer when it comes to fertility, but we’re still going to be doing the same things with the gut because if we don’t go to the six R’s of healthy gut function, we don’t go to the six R’s, removing the bad foods, replacing enzymes and acids repairing the gut lining in the in the hormones, removing the infection, repopulating rynok elating, good bacteria retesting. The gut is where everything happens 80% of the immune systems there, that’s where all the nutrients are absorbed and digested and assimilated and utilized. So if we just were to skip that and go to a hormone protocol, or a typical augmentation program with progesterone, we may miss a lot of those nutrients getting assimilated, broken down and absorbed and utilized. So we have to always assume the gut could be a major interplay. And again, most people, they’re not connecting the gut with their hormones. They just never right. But like you mentioned beta glucuronidation plays a role in hormone detox and We could be increasing estrogen dominance to the bad bacteria causing us to reabsorb estrogens. Right. We could also just have bad liver and gallbladder function because we’re not digesting fat, partly because of low stomach acid partly because of an H. pylori infection or grd infection. And that can make us hard to break down and assimilate cholesterol and essential fatty acids, which are important building blocks for fertility, right. So these things always kind of connect whether they’re one two or three degrees away from the root.
Evan Brand: Now if you’re a little brain fog, and you’re listening to Justin talk, you’re like, Oh my God, he’s talking fast. What is he saying? Giardia? What the heck pet parents Oh my god. So yes, literally, gut infections can literally make you infertile. We had several women who were infertile, and we ran their stool panel, they showed up with parasites, whether it was Giardia or krypto. As you mentioned, H. pylori being a big influence on stomach acids. So now, if we think about we always talk about good diet for mom, which is going to be a good diet to feed and grow a baby. But what if she does have these infections, and she is doing a paleo template and she’s doing her Grass Fed Whey or whatever to get her amino acid profile complete. And now all of a sudden she’s got these gut infections. So literally, just by running a gut panel and walking someone through using herbs to eradicate these infections, boom, I’ve had I lost count many women who, during a parasite protocol, they’ll email the office, I’m pregnant. What do I do? I’m like, holy crap. Yeah, by the way, this protocol by eliminating parasites, it actually increases fertility. Boom, there you go. Congratulations. And so it’s, it’s pretty nuts.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: In general, anything else you want to say about that? So we talked about gut being really important. So HCl, enzymes, those kind of things are really important. We talked about the six hour if you’ve done podcast on that topic, so just make sure if you’re thinking about fertility, make sure we don’t ignore that right. has to be on the women has to know On the men, usually male men are easier to deal with because they don’t have a very unique symphony of a cycle. They kind of have a foghorn of hormones. And usually that’s going to be depleted by stress and poor nutrition and gut stuff. So it’s a little bit easier on the hormone side. But with women, it’s a little bit more complicated because of the cycle. So we talked about IVF. We talked about medication like clomiphene citrate or Clomid, which is a stimulates gnrh, which then stimulates FSH and LH and follicle stimulating hormone luteinizing hormone from the pituitary, which then stimulates egg maturation and oscillation. So there’s that right. But that’s kind of like a stimulator. Like Think of it as you got a tired horse. Do you really want the horse to perform by whipping it harder? Right? Is that the mindset? So for some people, that’s like an easy, you know, quick, simple, okay, I’m pregnant now. And most people who are aren’t as natural minded, that’s usually the first line of therapy that they’re going to do on the fertility side right. Then usually after that, they may go I UI which is the inter uterus insemination and then they may go into IVF or they shut down the whole HPA access using Lupron, they come in there with certain like follistim and different hormones at certain times so they can grow the eggs, harvest them, put them back in, get the whole hormone cascade going with all the injections, and then while you’re pregnant and then maintain the pregnancy with progesterone, that’s kind of what happens on the IVF side. But that may not be necessary for a lot of women. We already talked about the major mechanisms. Now, what are some deal breakers that may hold you back from getting pregnant even with doing all this? So there are certain things you have to look out for fibroids are a big one. If you have some big fibroids that are just hanging out, they could be there could be enough there where it’s disrupting blood flow, because the fibroids are a blood flow hog, and that could be preventing the egg from implanting into the uterus lining. Also, the fibroid can create a little bit of inflammation now everything we’re talking about is designed to To help prevent those fibroids from growing, the question is How long have they been growing they’re they’ve been hanging out for like years and years and years and decades. Some of the natural things just make take may take too long. And so you have to be very, very aware of that. Or it may be so big where it has so much momentum, it may need to be removed surgically. So you have to be mindful of things like fibroids. Also, endometriosis is a big one. That’s endometrial tissue, can it which is basically the endometrial lining tissue starts growing in areas it shouldn’t be, it could grow on the ovaries, it could grow on the bladder. Sometimes endometriosis, endometriosis can cause inflammation in that area. And then a lot of times with a simple procedure where you come and take a laser and kind of laser it off can be very helpful. conventional medicine won’t fix the root cause of why the fibroids there or why the endometriosis is there, but sometimes it’s gotten so bad where that may be necessary. There’s also something called a chocolate cyst, which is basically an Dimitrios in the ovary and that can Definitely be a problem as well. So that may need to be drained. So that you have to look at some of these things, some of these tissues that have grown for a long period of time, they may need a conventional intervention. Now, as long as you’re relatively young, and you have some time, try the natural stuff first and see if your body can handle it. If not, that may be the next thing to look at. And then of course, we already talked about pcls, which is polycystic ovarian syndrome. And that’s where there’s system the ovaries from all the things I mentioned, elevations and insulin and androgens, and I seen those reabsorb time and time again. So I’ve seen the body be able to handle that. I don’t see most patients that will have to go in and get those things drain per se, I find the body can handle that. The other things may need to be addressed at some point over time, but I always say wait and see work with a good functional medicine Doc, have a good ob gyn or a reproductive ob gyn kind of in your back pocket. So you’re monitoring things as you move forward. And if you have to go a surgical route, don’t throw away the functional medicine doctor keep both of them working together.
Evan Brand: Yep. Yeah, good point. And you know, it’s possible that you could find like a holistic or more natural minded ob as well, that would be good to have on hand that way they would help support you with some of the dietary stuff. But yeah, with endometriosis, you know, there’s a hormone component to that as well. So we already talked about diet and things like that, but of course, in the beta glucuronidation, so like calcium D glucose rate, for example, you know, that’s something that we may use to help with getting out these excess xeno estrogens. And that could be a game changer too. And of course, in the diet, you’re getting some like, you know, calcium D glucose, right? You’ll get some of that naturally in the diet. So whether you’re doing like broccoli, or blueberries or whatever, I mean, different. You know, cruciferous veggies, you’re going to get some beneficial stuff like that. Anyway, that will help. Regarding the hormones. It sounds crazy that broccoli could help pregnancy but yeah, but it definitely could. And then also, I mean, there’s no there’s various exercises to that can be helpful. Exercise in general is helpful. So I mean, if you have a sedentary woman, and you get her moving, but not to the CrossFit, five, you know, five times a week level, you know, that could be a game changer.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. So you got to look at everything holistically, like, I’ll tell you my personal story. We have two Healthy Kids, two healthy boys. And my wife and I had a hard time getting pregnant in that first year. And we found she just had a really, really, really, really, really big fibroid, very big-
Evan Brand: Was that ultrasound or how gel, figure that out?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Transvaginal ultrasound, and my wife before she met me, she was on birth control pills for over a decade. So I think there was that she wasn’t he she was eating a lot of conventional foods in the beginning before she met me before we tweaked her diet. So I think there was a lot of hormonal growth that was going on for decades that caused some of that growth. And you can’t just pull it away and expect it to just reabsorb all of a sudden, right? You can’t take 10 years and just expect it to go away. And so we actually tried reducing it. Now there are things you can do, they can work there. You can do things like egcg epigallocatechin is in the green Green tea you can do things like resveratrol and lipids or curcumin, and you could do systemic enzymes like Sarah peptidase and lembrar kinase, which are helped to metabolize some of that tissue and can work. The question is, can it work fast enough? And so we went the surgical road that the fibroids removed and literally within two months of it being gone pregnant, no problems. And so sometimes that can be an issue. So you have to look at, okay, what’s the root? Cause? You know, do we have some limitations of matter, right? Were those tissues just been hanging out too long? Just the body needs a little bit of a head start getting that tissue removed. And if you got time, you know, do the natural things and just watch and wait, right watch and wait. So if you’re a female listening, and you’re not in a relationship, or you’re not looking to get pregnant anytime soon, but you want to at some point, I just recommend getting good, good workup with your ob gyn to make sure there are no endometriosis or fibroids, endometriosis. This is hard. Typically the only way to figure that out is laparoscopically, little incision for the scoping. So it’s kind of tough to know that one. But you know, usually a lot of the telltale symptoms like the painful periods, like those kind of things, if you’re having those symptoms work with a good functional medicine doc to help it, but keep an eye out on bigger issues, like fibroids and those things so you can act on it early.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Thanks for sharing the story. And now you got two little boys and they’re keeping you busy. So everything worked out.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: You got it? Absolutely. So keep that in the back of your mind. Anything else you want to add? On the supplements? I know you were kind of riffing on a couple of adaptogens earlier. Anything else you want to add? You mentioned while you listen tongkat Ali?
Evan Brand: Yeah, so that could be for the men. I would just say during during the you and I’ve talked about this idea before we kind of call pregnancy more like a four trimester thing which women like cringe at like, Oh my God isn’t pregnancy long enough, but not just meaning that there’s a kind of a pre, a preNatal phase that happens before you even get there. Right now kind of a pre, you know, fertility supporting area. So we’ll bring in multis and omegas. And like you said, maybe systemic enzymes will bring in trace minerals, micronutrients, maybe Grass Fed Whey protein, maybe some Oregon supplements. I mean, there’s a lot of things that we can do right away to kind of prep the body before you even get pregnant. It’s not I disagree with this idea of you got, you’ve got a pot of positive pregnancy test start the prenatal, it’s like, No, you could be six weeks in already, like you should have been on the prenatal six months before you got pregnant in my opinion.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and most prenatals I mean, prenatal is a more of a marketing thing, like in some of the prenatals that we recommend, what makes it a prenatal Well, there may just be a little bit more calcium, there may be some extra full weight in there. And of course, everything’s active, full light, no folic acid, everything’s mthfr. Of course, everything’s methylated. There may be some extra iron in there, right? So there may be a couple little nutrients that are a little bit extra. But if you look at a really good high quality multi versus a prenatal they’re going to be about 90 95% At the same Yeah, if you’re getting a high quality couple little tweaks here and there, of course, you may want to add in some extra essential fatty acids cod liver oil, those kind of things I think are are very, very helpful.
Evan Brand: I get so mad I get so mad when you go like if you go to like Whole Foods or I mean even even places like that where you’ll go and you’ll see these little cute gummies in like a clear container. And it’s like six gummies a day and the first ingredients like fructose or fructose tapioca syrup. And it’s like, okay, here you are taking the woman who, you know may not know exactly what’s going on may not understand the root causes, and he or she has eaten these little gummies every day as a prenatal it’s like no, it’s like candy.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally 100% agree. One other thing if you have to go a surgical intervention I recommend personally, if you’re a fertility age and you want to get pregnant that you see someone that has a specialty in reproduction as well as being a gynecologist. I find that certain gynecologist have a A perspective on what’s happening surgically with the goal of removing the tissue, while others have a perspective of that while maintaining fertility. So I find someone that’s a ob ob gyn as well as a reproductive specialist, they looking at the procedure with a lens of keeping fertility intact. So I always recommend if you have to go the surgical route, try to find an OB GYN that also has that reproductive specialty as well. Yep. Good advice. Yeah, I think that’s important. I’ve just seen, I’ve heard too many stories from ob gyns, who don’t have the repro specialty, and they’re just and again, some of these are older stories. They’re too easy. They’re too They jump the gun on just doing a complete hysterectomy or doing a partial hysterectomy just removing the uterus or just removing too much tissue and and that scaffolding of that uterus can collapse and other issues can happen. So I always like to make sure you have someone with an eye Keeping fertility intact.
Evan Brand: Yep. No, I mean that if that’s their job to just remove uterus and ovaries all day Yeah, they may not care about the fertility aspect at all.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, it’s really, really important. And then yeah, and that’s, that’s incredibly important and of course, the most non invasive to invasive is is the best way to go. Anything else having you want to add on the topic? I mean, Today’s been really great. I think we really hit a lot of things from the nutrition aspect to some of the herbs and nutrients just to dovetail that progesterone is a big one we may be adding in progesterone we may be adding in things like chase tree and damiana and different herbs that help modulate maka that modulate estrogen receptor sites and or modulate progesterone and even support progesterone and of course, we’re also supporting the adrenal so all of those key tenants there need to be fully looked at and supported that you want to add anything else that Evan?
Evan Brand: I don’t think so. There’s a Yeah, there’s a good handful of like female supporting herbs, things that we would typically use anyway. To help with like PMS, for example, things that are going to help regulate hormone levels, those things alone can contribute to fertility. So yeah, it’s sometimes where a woman comes to us with a different problem with hormones, they may say, Oh, I eventually want to get pregnant. But right now I need to focus on this major PMS. I’m out of work every week, you know, I’m laying in bed in pain, and we just help regulate hormones using some of those herbs you mentioned there and then fix the gut and then boom, hey, we got pregnant sooner than anticipated. Cool. Let’s go ahead and kind of transition now let’s, you know, let’s get you into this, you know, maternal support phase now and it’s really fun I tell you, there’s there’s nothing better than you know, whether it’s getting a picture in my inbox of a new baby or just a mom telling her birth story. It’s It’s fun, and it’s a very, very rewarding thing. And, and, and I always, I don’t know I like to pop my collar a little bit more after I hear a good story like that, especially when a woman was dealing with the conventional medical world and she was so frustrated. And so hopeless, and then she was able to actually do it naturally. It’s like, Yes, I told you so I told you you could do it because the conventional doctors are obese will be like, nope, you can’t do it. You’re not going to get fertile. You’re too old. Your hormones are too messed up. It’s not gonna happen. And then boom, a baby comes. It’s always just like I told you, so.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I like it. Well, after you talked about popping the collar, I’m gonna I’m gonna join you on that one. There we go. Excellent. Very good. So yeah, I love those stories. I think that’s excellent. We always want to focus on the root cause so just anyone listening we want to make sure our goal is that you’re looking at your fertility from a root cause perspective. If you have to bring a functional medicine doctor in great if you have to bring a conventional fertility MD and great just always make sure you’re looking at the root cause. If you have to go you know more invasive on the IVF or surgery side, that’s fine. Just make sure you exhaust all of the foundational options first, nutritionally and functional medicine wise. And then also make sure your husband’s a part of what’s going on. So Make sure he’s getting tested, his nutrients are assessed. He’s doing all the right things on the fertility side, we can also get a sperm count on him as well make sure sperm numbers are good, you know, at least 50 million, make sure shape and morphology and all that good stuff is dialed in as well to assess that being okay. And of course if, if it’s not, then we have to work on all the nutrients and work on removing a lot of the toxins that we already talked about.
Evan Brand: Yep. So get off the mountain dew. Oh God, we had a friend that was an old friend who was having issue with fellow body and her and her husband both just pounded the Mountain Dew. I’m like, who even drinks Mountain Dew anymore? I mean, it’s like, it’s like 80 grams of sugar per bottle. I was like, oh, get off the mountain dew. So of course, you know, typically people would think everybody around you and I like we’re just the circle of health, our family, our friends and everybody would just listen to us and reach out to us for help. But that’s typically not how it we’re not how it is. So of course they don’t ask me anything. What do they do? They go do IVF they spent, I think it was 15 or $20,000. They did like a fundraiser raise money. It’s like how about just like, let us give you the workup, it’s going to be a fraction of the cost. And you’re going to have, you know, minimal to no risk. I mean, like with other procedures, you know, you could have risk of twins and triplets. I mean, they’re not, you know, death necessarily risk, but there are risk associated with some of these other things. So, it’s just sad. It’s sad that people just don’t know. And, you know, you always say, oh, let’s talk about the root cause of this. It’s like, why is that so revolutionary? That should be the first way people think but it’s not.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% you’re never a prophet in your own town. And also, if women have to go the IVF road, the goal remember the end goal is not just to get pregnant, right? What’s the angle? Let’s huddle up and focus on what’s the end goal the end goal was to have a healthy baby, right that’s that’s the angle and pregnancies one step in that journey. So don’t confuse the first step as success number one, and then number two, If you’re going to engage in more conventional approaches that don’t address the root cause, I strongly urge you to make sure you’re addressing the root cause. So the angle should be having a healthy baby at the end. So just keep that in mind, make sure you are really focused on what the root cause and goals are.
Evan Brand: Let me say one last thing, and then I want to get your take on this real quick. And I love the way you said that, you know, the pregnancy is not just the end all Gold’s it’s the healthy baby and all that. So, you know, what about if a woman does get pregnant, and in an unnatural method, like IVF, for example, but she still has an insulin problem. I’ve seen cases where you could argue with something else, but I would argue that the elevated insulin and the sugar and the carbs and all the crap in the diet could potentially make the baby get too big. And then the doctors are saying, Hey, you know, now you’ve got a nine pounder, we’re gonna have to do a mandatory c section, for example. You know, there’s other complications there.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I mean, just having that high amount of insulin, gestational diabetes. kind of thing going on, which a lot of times the Hopis don’t even acknowledge, really being a diet thing. I mean, I remember going in and my wife was getting testing on the blood sugar, and we were monitoring her blood sugar at home. And the nurse practitioner said, you know, hey, you know, the gestational diabetes is a genetic thing. And I’m like, I literally pulled up a study of like, literally says more grains, and trans fatty acids can actually increase it. And it was like a, it was just, it was like a paradigm thing. It’s like, even though like, if people are conventionally trained, and have to pass all these, you know, mainstream boards for their licensing, they’re not really up to date with the conventional literature in the conventional literature isn’t really injected in the first line therapies for what these doctors and nurses need to know. So it’s kind of sad. So we just want to bring that information everyone on the forefront now so they’re aware of it, and also test the blood sugar and if you’re at high risk for a miscarriage, then you’d want to keep an eye on your progesterone levels. As soon as you get pregnant. One of the easiest first things is using progesterone, an inter-vaginal progesterone probably 200 milligrams or so a day throughout that first trimester can be a godsend for a lot of women. So if you’re at high risk for miscarriage, make sure you keep an eye on testing those progesterone levels, you know, 15 to 20 or so in that first week, couple weeks of getting pregnant and to be important, so keep an eye on that with your ob. So you’re monitoring if you’re high risk.
Evan Brand: Yup. Well said. Well I’m sure I could break off a few of the things but let’s wrap it up and keep on reaching out clinically. We’d love to help you. Justin is available around the world at JustinHealth.com. Me, EvanBrand.com and we’ll be back soon to talk more.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Phenomenal chatting with you all. Have a good day.
Evan Brand: Take Care.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Bye.
The Top 5 Causes of Chronic Headaches
Today we are going to be talking about the top underlying reasons why you may be having a chronic headache. I had a patient come in today who had headaches for 25 years, monthly and chronically, and we were able to get to the root cause and there are many different root causes for every person. Let me lay out the common ones that I find to be a major vector of my patients.
So we have headaches and head pain or migraines where you kind of have that aura and sound sensitivity. There are a couple of different major reasons why headaches may happen.
1. Food Allergens
Most common food allergy is gluten and dairy. There are some studies on gluten affecting blood flow up to the brain. We have these garden hoses on the side of our neck called our carotid arteries. When we have inflammation especially caused by gluten that can decrease blood flow and blood profusion to the frontal cortex, and when you have less blood, you’re going to have decreased performance of the brain. You can see that manifesting in a headache. People don’t know but headaches are actually an issue with vasodilation in the brain. Caffeine can help as caffeine actually causes constriction and brain’s typical headache signal is caused by vasodilation.
2. Food Additives.
These could be things like MSG, aspartame, Splenda or various artificial colors and dyes.
3. Blood Sugar Fluctuation.
We want to have healthy proteins and healthy fats with every meal. If we skip meals or we eat foods that are too high in carbohydrates and refined “crapohydrates” and sugar, and not enough fats and proteins, our blood sugar can go up and then drop. This is called reactive hypoglycemia. We react by putting a whole bunch of sugar in our bloodstream because all of these carbohydrate sources break down into sugar — processed sugar, grains, flours and acellular carbohydrates. These type of flours and refined processed carbs get converted to glucose in our bloodstream. When glucose goes up, our pancreas goes, “Holy smokes! We got a lot of glucose there. We got to pull it into the cell.” It spits out a whole bunch of insulin and pulls that glucose right down, and we have his blood sugar going up with a lot of insulin driving that blood sugar back down. When that blood sugar goes back down, this is where we have cravings. This is where we have addictions, mood issues, energy issues, jitteriness, and cognitive issues. Our body makes adrenaline and cortisol to bring that blood sugar back up. Most people literally live on this high insulin where they are making fat, storing fat and engaging in lipogenesis which makes us tired. Then blood sugar crashes which makes people jittery, anxious, and moody. Most people live on this reactive hypoglycemia rollercoaster and that can drive headaches.
4. Gut Infections.
Patients with a lot of gut inflammation, gut permeability, and infections whether it’s H. pylori, SIBO (small intestinal, bacterial overgrowth) or fungal overgrowth have gut stressors can create inflammation in the gut. When we have inflammation in the gut, we have gut permeability. So our tight junctions in our intestines start to open up and undigested bacteria, lipopolysaccharides, food particles can slip through and create an immune response. You can see histamine along with that immune response and histamine can create headache issues.
5. Hormonal Issue.
A woman’s cycle is about 28 days and in the middle is ovulation. Some women have it during ovulation and most have it right at the end just before they menstruate. This is called premenstrual syndrome that is right before menstruation. A lot of women may also have it during menstruation, too. What happens is progesterone can drop out early and that drop in progesterone can actually cause headache manifestations and also the aberrations in estrogen can also cause headaches as well. We may also see it with excessive bleeding too. So if you’re bleeding a lot or too much, what may happen is you may lose iron and that low iron may cause oxygenation issues. That low level of oxygen may also cause some headache issues as well. Because if you can’t carry oxygen, that is going to be a stressed-out situation for your mitochondria and your metabolism. For menopausal women who have chronically low hormones and they’re not in an optimal place, that can create issues. Progesterone and estrogen can be very anti-inflammatory. So if there is inflammation in the brain, progesterone is a powerful anti-inflammatory and that can really help a lot of inflammation in the brain.
Histamine Intolerance and Root Causes | Podcast #289
Hey, guys! We have a new podcast today with Dr. J and Evan Brand talking about histamine intolerance and possible root causes. We start with symptoms of histamine intolerance. While mostly linked to allergic reactions, they can be IBS, cramping, anxiety, dizziness/vertigo, fatigue, flushing, hives, brain fog, and more. Often, you’ll see these overlap as symptoms of hypothyroid, adrenal issues, or Hashimotos. So, what next?
Nutrients important to helping break down histamine are DOA enzymes, Vitamin C, Copper, and B6 (very important to neurotransmitters). We know that gut permeability and absorbing the nutrients you need can be difficult in itself when mixed with gut irritation, stress, and/or certain symptoms and this becomes a triple-edged sword. You need the nutrients to break down the histamine but your body can’t break them down because it’s stressed, overwhelmed, or not working as it should and you don’t want to eat certain foods you used to be able to consume because the histamine’s memory is messed up and you’re exhibiting more food allergies. It can be overwhelming, so then what?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani shares common foods that increase the histamine response, palliative solutions for relief, and the reality behind finding the root cause.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani
In this episode, we cover:
1:00 Symptoms of histamine intolerance
10:57 How to metabolize histamine
12:59 Testing for histamine, histamine markers and root cause
19:03 Histamine medications
24:06 Hormonal link
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey, guys! It’s Dr. Justin Marchegiani here. I hope you guys are having a fabulous week. We are gonna be diving in to histamine intolerances and functional medicine solutions and what we do in our clinics. Evan, welcome to the show, man. How are we doing brother?
Evan Brand: Hey, I’m glad to be here and glad to talk about this subject. Something that I used to look at and I was confused by. I would look at these histamine issues and I would say, “This just doesn’t make sense.” Why does Jane Doe over here, why is she able to eat XYZ food and then you’ve got the other lady over here, and she can’t eat leftovers and she can’t eat mushrooms, and she can’t eat smoked meats, and she can’t eat ketchup, and she can’t do dried fruit without having problems? And I was like, “Okay, what the heck is going on?” Why, why, why. I didn’t understand it and now that you and I have worked on this issue a thousand plus times, we start to find some connections. And so, let’s first talk about some of the symptoms of histamine intolerance. Many of these are similar to allergic reactions and allergic reactions can create histamine. It could be anything from gut symptoms like IBS could be related to histamine, so abdominal cramping. Anxiety could be part of it. Dizziness, believe it or not, dizziness, vertigo could be part it. Fatigue could be related. Flushing, so when you rash out like on your skin or it could be your face from certain foods, like when you see people rashing out from alcohol, like red-faced from alcohol that could be histamine. Alcohol is high in histamine and then it’s also gonna reduce DAO, right? It’s gonna block the enzyme that helps metabolize histamine. I believe that’s true. Is that right that alcohol is high histamine? I know it messes with DAO but is it high histamine as well?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Um, alcohol—what alcohol does, it’s also a histamine blocker.
Evan Brand: Right.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It also blocks the metabolism of histamine and it just depends because a lot of alcohol, there’s fermentation in the alcohol. So of course, the fermentation will create histamine as well. So it’s a combination of the two. I’m pretty sure there’s gonna be histamine in it due to fermentation, right? Like wine will be, you know, fermented or beer, and then of course, if there’s gluten in there, the inflammation could create more histamine and then you have the effects of blocking histamine as well.
Evan Brand: Yeah that, it is a double whammy. Yeah, here it is right here. It talks about how like for example, red wine has up to 24 mg per liter of histamine while champagne has 670 mg of histamine per liter. So of course, heart rate, flushing, those type of symptoms from drinking alcohol is no good. But the problem is you’re depleting DAO. DAO is what’s gonna help you—diamine oxidase. It’s gonna help you to break down histamine that you ingest and so if you’re putting in histamine and reducing the ability to metabolize it. You get in bad shape. I got a few more symptoms and we can go on and on and one. I mean, any list online you look at may have 50 different symptoms. So blood pressure issues or blood pressure changes, itching—
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.
Evan Brand: So like the back of legs, you could just have itching. I mean, for lack of a better word, it’s not necessarily a rash there but you could just be itching. Nasal issues, sinus problems, nausea, and then swelling. So like—
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Tissue swelling.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I mean you see a lot of it with Asians and alcohol. For instance, Asians typically will get flushed when they drink alcohol because they’re missing genetically some enzymes to be able to handle it and they take a lot of Pepcid AC which is like an H2 blocker. So a lot of times you’ll see that with alcohol and you’ll see it in certain ethnicities. They’ll miss certain enzymes to be able to metabolize it. I’d be curious how someone of that ethnicity would do with like extra DAO. I wonder if the DAO would work over just a—over a histamine blocker so to speak. Because we know the side effects in some of those medications, you know, can be drowsiness, brain fog, you know, not so good symptoms either and a lot of times you’re just trading one symptom for another. Hope—
Evan Brand: I bet it would—
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Side effects or less.
Evan Brand: I bet it would work great. I mean, I’ve done some experimentation with DAO. If I have certain foods that will irritate me, like a big spice blend of you know, curry and cayenne and chili powder and cinnamon and those type of things. Those can all irritate things, so I’ll take some DAO if I’m gonna do something with like a mixed spice blend and I feel fine with it. I don’t really have any issue with dried fruit. I know that’s an issue for some people but I’ll do like some freeze-dried blueberries just to see what happens and I feel fine. So I think some of this stuff is there’s gonna be a spectrum of sensitivity with this. Some people are gonna be extremely histamine-intolerant and then some people are gonna be totally fine. So we’re trying to cater to all of those people. If you’re somebody who—you can’t do fish, for example. If it’s fresh-caught and freshly eaten or fresh-caught and flash-frozen for example. That should be okay but if you’ve had, you know, fish that’s kinda sitting out at the market, open-air, you know that may be a bigger problem than if it were flash-frozen like on the ship, I know there’s a couple of companies out there like Vital that they’ll freeze the fish as soon as they catch it.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.
Evan Brand: And those are supposed to be well-tolerated.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100%. So you kinda went over like some of the symptoms, right? The common ones, the flushing, the wheels or the urticaria, kinda hives on the skin, brain fog stuff, headache stuff. It could just be allergy stuff like itching or sneezing or eye wateriness. It could be fatigue. It could be breathing issues. It could be just swelling or inflammation or heart rate. It’s just pounding, kind of the abnormal heart rate beating. Now the problem is a lot of these symptoms can overlap with hypothyroid. A lot of these symptoms can overlap with Hashimoto’s and adrenal issues. This is the problem. It’s this big overlap so that you get people that are like the histamine person or the adrenal person and you’re like, “But what’s the issue? Is it an adrenal issue? Is it a histamine issue?” And this is where it gets really tough because you’re trying to seek out whose that person that can help me with this issue and the problem is everything overlaps. So imagine like a venn diagram and then you have all these different issues, adrenal or thyroid, or histamine or gut, and then they all overlap in the middle and a lot of times that’s where people’s health issues, you know, really sit and you need a very good generalist to kinda parse these out because sometimes when we have these issues we don’t really focus on histamine, we focus on other things. Like when you just magically reduce inflammation in the body through diet, lifestyle, supplement strategies, magically histamine can drop. And we actually do need some histamine because histamine is a big stimulator of hydrochloric acid. So it’s like, well, if you don’t have no histamine then we’re not gonna have good HCl stimulation and we know HCl is so important for digestion. So it’s this, you know, it’s not like one of these things where we wanna just knock histamine down to nothing, right? But we wanna modulate and prevent the, you know, the abnormal highs of it which tends to be driving a lot of the symptoms.
Evan Brand: Yeah, that’s a great point and many people don’t hit that if you talk about the word histamine. It’s sort of like a bad bacteria. It’s just kill, kill, kill, kill, knock it down, knock it down, knock it down, knock it down but yeah, you’re right. I mean, it’s a neurotransmitter and it does affect the immune system, too. So it’s not something that you want zero off. I know—I don’t know the exact mechanism but I know histamine has some role on energy like your sleep-wake cycle is somehow related to histamine. Appetite, I know is involved with histamine. So there’s a lot of things that people just, they skip out on and then they get on these H1, H2 blockers and then who knows what’s happening downstream?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I mean histamine is part of the stress or inflammation response. I mean, it can cause clots. It can cause cells to get more sticky. It can cause your lungs to constrict a little bit more. It can cause more swelling and fluid retention. It can open up the blood vessels partly because imagine if you bang your elbow, right? What happens? Does it get more swollen or less swollen? It gets more swollen. Why? Because of the inflammatory response. It’s driving vasodilation, meaning it’s opening up the blood vessels. Why? Well, to help bring the immune cells there to help kind of bring the inflammation and recovery process under control. So the problem is a lot of these mechanisms, they’re acute punctuated mechanisms. They’re on then they’re off. With chronic inflammation in the system through gut or other hormonal imbalances, it’s on and then it stays on and then now that it’s on, certain foods that may have been—may have not been a problem before, now perpetuate the problem. Does that make sense?
Evan Brand: Yes, it does.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So it becomes this vicious cycle where like, yeah, you may be fine. You should be able to have some kombucha and some bacon, but now because of the inflammation. Now that bacon’s a trigger, now the kombucha is a trigger, now the citrus fruits are a trigger, now the good avocados are a trigger, and it’s like people are pulling their hair. They’re like, “What is going on? I don’t get it. These are good foods. What’s happening?” And they have to look deeper at of course, you know, when we look at the symptoms, the first thing I do is I say, “Okay, let’s try cutting some of these histamines out of our diet food-wise, do we feel better? Yes or no?” That tells me something and if that helps, then we look at, okay, let’s work on better digesting our foods, number two. Let’s work at gut infections because we know the microbiome, if out of balance, can really create these abnormal histamine responses and we know how the microbiome is so important with gut permeability and that increases autoimmune issues, hence, thyroid, hence adrenal, hence gut issues, irritable bowel disease, so everything can just really spiral out of control if the microbiome is not there, if the food is not there, and of course, if stress is there, we know what the sympathetic nervous system response does in regards to burning up our B vitamins and decreasing HCl and enzymes and decreasing dopamine and adrenaline over the time and then we also know that certain nutrients are gonna be vital for histamine—for making the enzymes to break down histamine, right? We know certain enzymes, the DAO enzymes are really important and we know vitamin C. We know copper. We know B6. B6 gets burnt down so much during stress, it’s very important for our neurotransmitters, and we also know that if we have low stomach acid levels and we’re stressed, we’ll be burning them up at a much higher level and we know that when our gut microbiome is out of balance, we have more bad stuff than good stuff. We know that the bad microbes will be eating those nutrients versus making it and we know those bad microbes will be actually making more histamine byproducts as well. So it’s this double-edged sword, when the gut’s out of balance, we eat the nutrients we need to break down histamine, the bad bacteria makes more of the histamine and then we don’t get a lot of those nutrients absorbed that help us make the enzymes to degrade histamine. It’s a triple-edged sword.
Evan Brand: Yeah and then think about, too, you need vitamin C to help reduce or sort of metabolize histamine for lack of a better word and a lot of people are gonna be pulling out citrus, even like lime-lemon. Those are kinda demonized in the histamine world, if you are reacting to it. So now, you don’t have enough vitamin C. So I’ll try to supplement vitamin C personally and clinically and see if it helps and in many cases, it does. So we’ll have people do quercetin which is in the vitamin C family to help stabilize mast cells that way we can prevent the release of histamine. At least in theory, if we take a, you know, a shot of 500 mg of quercetin before—when I say a shot, I mean a powder, put in a shot glass with a shot of water and I’ll shoot it down like a 500 mg quercetin before a meal and then mix a little vitamin C with it and that tends to help reduce some of the reactions and then also the DAO before meals. Let’s go in, just real quick list and then we’ll keep talking because you hit on something that I think people miss the boat on which is that and this is something you and I talked about before we hit record, which is that histamine intolerance or histamine issues are in effect. What is the cause?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Correct.
Evan Brand: So if histamine issues—
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Correct.
Evan Brand: Are in effect, what is the cause? So let’s rant on that more in a minute but we hit the alcohol, fermented foods, cheeses, smoked foods, shellfish—many people that say they have a shellfish allergy, we suspect it’s a histamine issue—beans, nuts—my voice cracked, I said nuts, almonds, nuts. I don’t know why but certain nuts get moldier than others, so for example like macadamias, for some reason, those and cashews tend to be more intolerable versus I find a lot of people do well with almonds. Chocolate, vinegar, tomatoes, citrus. So those are kinda like the histamine triggers but let’s go back to the gut because what you were saying is that the gut bacteria are gonna be doing several things. They’re gonna messing up the gut barrier. They’re gonna be producing histamine. So regarding testing, if someone says, “Hey, how are you gonna test me for histamine?” Let’s dive into that because the answer is we’re not directly gonna test you for histamine, correct? We’re gonna be—
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: Looking deeper.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Correct. I mean, there’s the markers like the, you can do the tryptase marker. It’s a tryptase enzyme marker that you can do. When you break down histamine. DAO is one of these enzymes that helps break it down and there’s also histamine N-methyltransferase (HNMT). I think you can also test some of those enzymes. But for me, I just—I make clinical changes with the diet and I also give specific supplements and I let those symptoms kinda dictate. But we also understand that that’s not root cause and this is where it’s very important where a lot of functional medicine people. I see it a lot with naturopaths where they’ll kinda come in there and they’ll use supplements to just treat symptoms and they’re not getting to the root cause. So we always have—I always draw a line with patients. What’s gonna be palliative changes to allow you to feel better in the meantime and then number two is what’s gonna be more root cause. Because sometimes root cause stuff’s a little bit slow and that’s not good if you need relief now. So we need to figure out a way to get relief now, like you mentioned some of the natural antihistamines—stinging nettle, quercetin, NAC, bromelain, kidney tissue that has the DAO enzyme, maybe B6, copper, zinc, good quality multi. So we’ll do those things. We’ll make the diet changes. We’ll look deeper at the gut and the adrenals because we know steroids also are part of what’s given to address some of these issues, right? From a symptomatic standpoint. We know steroids, like the big medication we know are the H1 receptors and H2 receptors are the big ones, right? We know the H1s like your Benadryl and your Claritin, these are the H1 histamine receptor blockers. The Benadryl, the Claritin, right? And then the H2 ones are gonna be like your Peptid AC, right? H1 is gonna be more the histamines in the muscles, where H2 histamine is gonna be more in the intestines in the abdomen and that’s gonna be affect the heart. So H1, H2, so keep that in mind. Those are the big ones. There’s actually H1 through H4, but the big meds are H1, H2 and we know that the medications can be helpful but they have a lot of side effects and we have to be very careful with that. And we also know that the gut and all these nutrients play a huge role and when we look at the nutrients, we have to one, get a good quality multivitamin there that’s gonna have a lot of these nutrients that are gonna be bio-available so we can absorb it easily and number two, we have to get our digestion under control and number three, we have to look at other issues deeper. That could be a mold issue or it could even be a Lyme or a co-infection issue. I always table Lyme stuff unless there’s a strong history of tick bites, I always table it and deal with the gut first and the adrenals and hormones even before that and then personally after that I’ll—I typically will deal with mold—Evan and I may differ on this. I’ll typically look at and test mold right away if there’s a strong history, water damage in the home, history of visible mold or if we’re on the fence, we do a plate test or a urinary mold test or hey, do you feel better when you leave your house for a week, right? If those symptoms are there, we’ll look a little bit deeper and we’ll test. I typically don’t go after and address mold right away because a lot of how the mold is removed is via the hepatobiliary system so that’s liver, gallbladder, gut, and the stools. So if we don’t have great gut issues, a lot of times we can re-absorb stuff. A lot of the binders that we may give to help pull out mold can actually cause constipation, so I always fix the gut, fix the gut motility, fix digestion before going after mold but we can at least test in the person, the patient. Test it in the house and we can at least start making house changes right away.
Evan Brand: Yeah, so I go after it straight away regarding testing but yeah, you’re right. You gotta get people pooping before you go and do binders.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.
Evan Brand: And a lot of times like some of the binders you and I are using have folic acid so constipation is really an issue and if you’re bumping up magnesium and vitamin C and that kinda stuff, generally it’s no big deal but how I approach it is that way you mentioned, plus what will make me go after it more beyond just history is just looking at the mold symptoms. So in my intake form now, I’ve got like 25 different symptoms and if they check off more than a handful, we’re like, “Huh, this doesn’t look good.” So we’ll look into it and a lot of times, I mean, it’s showing positive. One thing I wanted to mention on the drug piece, you did a great job talking about like all the over-the-counter stuff that people get into on their own now. So the Zantac and the Pepcid and the Benadryl and the Zyrtec and the Allegra that kinda stuff, those antihistamines may work in the short term but we’re gonna downregulate DAO and you get for lack of a better word, you get stuck on it because now you don’t have enough DAO so, therefore, histamine rises more than it did before. And then one other thing, too, is that—and there’s a lot of people talking in forums about this on antidepressants and I don’t know exactly the mechanism. Maybe it’s depleting DAO, maybe it’s increasing histamine. I don’t have the mechanism and the study right in front me but if you just look at histamine intolerance Zoloft or histamine intolerance Cymbalta, Effexor, these really, really extremely in fact common prescribed and commonly dosed antidepressants—those cause histamine problems. So how many people out there, in fact, there was a lady who had a big website dedicate to this which was histamine intolerance after discontinuing Zoloft, and so I don’t even know if the science is clear on it but a lot of people are talking about this. So if you have been doing an antidepressant and now you’re reacting to more foods that may be something to look into.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah and also, so we talked about some of the big medications, right? A lot of the Allegra, the Zyrtec, the Benadryl, a lot of the H2, 1 blockers, right? Here’s the rub here and this is where it gets really, really, really, really confusing is that we talked about how histamine is actually needed to make hydrochloric acid. So guess what happens with this histamine medications. They also reduce acid levels and guess what happens when you reduce your acid levels. Now your digestion goes down south. What happens when your digestion goes down south? Now you start to have more SIBO and bacterial overgrowth. Guess what SIBO and bacterial overgrowth does. It produces more histamine metabolism. So it’s this unbelievable vicious cycle people get on and it’s—
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Very, very frustrating. Not to mention that okay, there’s the other class of medications that help with histamine, guess what. They’re corticosteroid-based. You see it with Singulair, right? Or a lot of these steroid-based medications, well, maybe our adrenals are so weak, we don’t have enough of our natural cortisol, corticosteroids, so we’re not—we have to fix the adrenals with it as well because the adrenals help make that that corticosteroid called cortisol which helps with our natural inflammation and if we can’t put the fire of inflammation in our body out every day that fire is gonna run rampant and create more inflammation and that inflammation is gonna drive more histamine issues and like we talked about before, all of those histamine medications, they deplete the DAO enzyme so then the histamine that’s made, it hangs out way, way longer so it’s not just about making histamine. It’s about now you can’t break it down so now it stays at the party. It’s like it’s the guy at the party that just lingers way too long. It’s like you should be out of here, dude, right? Closing time. But that’s what’s happening with histamine in our body.
Evan Brand: Oh, man. Well, it’s not to say that we’re saying, “Hey, don’t do those drugs.” But man, it would be a lot of better if before you get to the point where you get put on a daily Zyrtec or a daily Allegra or something like that or a Zantac or a Pepcid, it would be so much better if we could just stop those people and just say, “Hang on, hang in there. I know you’re symptomatic. I know you need relief. Hang on. Let’s try some of these herbal antihistamines. Let’s give you some extra Vitamin C, maybe some extra DAO. Let’s get you on maybe some leaky gut support. Let’s get you on low histamine diet for now. Let’s run a stool test. Let’s run organic acids. Figure out what’s going on. Let’s test your environment. Hang tight.” And then if we could do that, it’s just such a deep rabbit hole. It seems like every time you and I do a conversation on a different health aspect, there’s always a drug that’s involved in terms of being palliative but it seems like there’s always a double-edged sword to that. No matter what the topic is. Isn’t it funny how you and I always end up here? It’s like crap. The drug helped but now it actually put us in a bigger hole and now we gotta get them out of this hole because now they are downregulated of DAO even more than they were before. It’s like, ugh!
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. This is the problem, right? And so, in general we gotta look at the adrenals, gotta look at the inflammation because if you’re taking steroids, we need to have our natural anti-inflammatories going. We have to be very careful of the medication. If we’re using the medication, fine, use it sparingly, but just know it’s gonna create more dependency in the long run. Also, I’d say a big thing is environmental allergens. Environmental allergens can dry histamine. So imagine like we have this big stress bucket, right? And I’ve given this analogy a lot over the years. We put our stress balls in this bucket. When that bucket fills up and overflows, this is where symptoms happen. So, some people they come in genetically with a big bucket. They can handle a lot. They can deal with more stress and they have more adaptability. Some come in with a small bucket and that bucket is already half full because they are exposed to mold, right? Or heavy metals or they’re not eating organic. So that now they’re bucket’s already at the very top and then you add in a little bit of gut dysbiosis or you add in some environmental allergens—BOOM! Histamine symptoms are going crazy now. So we have to look at that. So one of the first things is get the stressors out of that bucket and a lot of times so those stressors could be things unrelated to histamine, right?
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So that could be just eating organic, clean water. The other component is environmental allergens can be a big deal. If you’re out in Austin. Cedar is big this time of the year. You’re breathing in cedar and that hangs out in your sinuses all day and you don’t have a good air filter at home at night then you’re in this stressed-out state because that cedar’s up in your nose causing problems. So my protocol with patients is we have a really good sinus irrigation system to flush thing’s out. We clean it out with saline and Xly or Xylitol to knock out any biofilm. We do it twice a day especially once we come in for the day, we are flushing our sinuses out so it’s clean for the day and we have really good air filtration so then when we are resting at night we are not in this fight or flight state because all the cedar is up in our frontal sinuses creating inflammation all night. We flush it out once we come inside. We flush it out when we start the day. We may even do it midday if we’re really bad just to keep our immune system from overreacting and then we gotta have that clear air filtration at night so when we come home our immune system can relax. Because if these environmental things are just keeping us in a fight or flight state, it’s gonna be hard to feel better.
Evan Brand: Yeah, so you’re basically saying, “Let’s try to get some of the things in the bucket, the external histamine bucket down, that way potentially you could tolerate that food and then we’re working behind the scenes to work on the gut and reduce some of the bacteria making histamine there.” Now here’s one thing we didn’t hit upon yet which is the hormonal link and so I have had many women say that they’re symptoms are worse right before their period starts and I’ve heard of many women who are postmenopausal who are now doing like estrogen replacement and other hormones and estrogen decreases the breakdown of histamine because it actually messes up with DAO, too. Estrogen can lower DAO. So if you think about all these women that were doing birth control pills or hormones or anything to mess up estrogen or you just think about the thousands of ways we’re exposed to the xenoestrogens in the environment like reheating our food in plastic and drinking from single-use water bottles that got exposed to sun and things like that. The whole estrogen-histamine link is big and maybe that’s why we see so many more women than men, you know, I would say it’s a vast majority. We see a lot more women deal with histamine problems than men. I think it’s probably due to the hormonal changes and so like if we’re looking at that stool, you hit upon the gut bugs. When we’re looking at the stool, we’re also gonna look at that glucuronidation pathway and if we see that that’s messed up, and if they’re taking hormones or if they just have estrogen dominance as a history, that’s gonna mess them up more. So we have to address that as well. So if you go to the gut guy and he hits on your gut and gives you some herbs there and you don’t get better, the hormonal piece and I guess that would factor in to your adrenals, too, because the adrenal test that we’re looking at, you know, that’s gonna look at hormones, too. So we’d probably kill 2 birds with 1 stone there.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly and also I would say, so you’re—what you’re proposing as a mechanism is that estrogen helps break down histamine?
Evan Brand: No, so estrogen depletes DAO.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay, so when you’re estrogen’s too high, you’re depleting DAO.
Evan Brand: That’s right.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay, so if you’re estrogen-dominant, you’re gonna be depleting DAO.
Evan Brand: Uh-hmm.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I would also say that when a woman goes through PMS, what’s happening in PMS, right? PMS is premenstrual syndrome, so right before menstruation that’s right at the heart of the luteal phase, if progesterone drops out early, that’s a lot of times what’s driving PMS. That one, that enhances the estrogen dominance, right? So high levels of estrogen deplete DAO, that supports and kind of, you know, backs up your mechanism there. The other thing is progesterone is an anti-inflammatory. Progesterone is a precursor to steroids like cortisol. What do you get when you take Singulair? You’re increasing cortisol. If your progesterone is dropping out too soon? What does that mean? Less anti-inflammatory building block, right? So all of this makes sense. We’re trying to be the bridge to connect these hormonal issues to the deeper histamine but also connect the gut issues because it’s all connected, you know, in the interwebs of functional medicine. So progesterone, estrogen dominance, all makes sense. Progesterone anti-inflammatory. Progesterone drops out too soon, that’s the PMS symptomatology there and that’s what driving the inability to regulate inflammation and then also estrogen dominance, right? Estrogen higher in relation to the progesterone will deplete DAO which is the enzyme that cleans us histamine. So all of this makes so much sense.
Evan Brand: Yeah, and there’s a couple of papers on this, too, about the estrogen effects and allergy and asthma, and there are these papers kinda talking about women that are doing supplemental hormones and all of a sudden they’ve got new-onset asthma when they’ve never had it before and it started after they were doing hormones, and so that talks about how boosting up the hormones is affected the mast cells too much and then that’s creating more of an inflammatory chemical-release of histamine and probably other mediators, too. So this is interesting and I think this is probably the answer. I didn’t really know this but until I looked at it but it makes sense why we see so many more women than men suffering. What you say clinically, I mean, women as a whole more in general but with this specific issue, would you say what you’ve seen is more women than men?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Women’s hormones are much more of a symphony that happens throughout the month and it’s very easy for a symphony to turn into noise, right? If the strings aren’t in there with the percussion instruments, you’re gonna get noise. So when you start to have hormones a little bit out of balance, it’s gonna affect women in their ability to deal with stress and part of those stressors could be histamine. So that’s really important and with stress in our environment, we are going to knock down progesterone and with a lot of the estrogens being in our environment, in plastics, pesticides, various chemicals, water, it just only drives more estrogen dominance, right? It just drives more of these histamine issues. So it totally makes sense but we have solutions and functional medicine is gonna be the best thing because we know just throwing birth control pills in there, guess what? That depletes DAO further because that’s just heightening estrogen dominance, right? And then just throwing in there antihistamines, well, guess what? That creates more low stomach acid situations. That’s gonna make digestion harder, breaking down proteins and fats harder, and that’s gonna perpetuate more SIBO, right? Because if we don’t have good digestion, bacteria proliferate and an environment where there’s not good digestion.
Evan Brand: Humans always have to complicate things, don’t they? Will all the drugs, it’s like, “Darn it!” I mean, without the drugs, I know drugs save lives, drugs save people, antidepressants prevent people from committing suicide and you know, heart drugs help stabilize the heart rhythm and blood pressure drugs help get the blood pressure down so they don’t have stroke. I mean, I know drugs are needed, but man, every time we uncover some of these connections between the medications and these deeper issues, it’s just like ahhh. I wish—
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I know.
Evan Brand: We could save people from getting on them. Yeah, if people just wanna look up, you just put in like estrogen DAO or you put in like sex hormone DAO, you’ll find some papers on this stuff. It’s just—it’s pretty crazy how connected this stuff is and so.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It is.
Evan Brand: We’re trying to cover it all. It’s tough to do what we’re doing in half an hour but we’re trying to make sure you address hormones, you address gut, you address adrenals, you address the sleep, you address the diet, you have to hit all of these pieces if you fully wanna beat this issue.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. Well, to get more info on this, guys, head on to evanbrand.com to reach out to Evan and schedule with him. You can also head over to Dr. J, myself, at justinhealth.com. We’re here to help you guys. We’re available worldwide via Skype, Facetime, phone, video consultation. We’re here to help. Just make sure you guys take one piece of intel from this conversation today. Apply it to your health and life. We hope that you guys understand some of the deeper mechanisms and why some of the medications may help acutely but long term may set you up for more problems. I hope you guys enjoyed it. Sharing is caring. Give us a share. Put your comments down below. If you’re suffering from histamine, let us know. We’re curious about it. We wanna engage in a deeper conversation and hope you guys enjoyed the podcast. Evan, anything else?
Evan Brand: No, that’s it. Y’all take care. Have a great day.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Take care, guys. Bye y’all.
Evan Brand: Bye.
New Study Finds Hair Dye Connected to Cancer
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Last month a shocking study revealed that women who dye their hair have higher rates of cancer. If this is true, the implications affect an estimated 75% of women in the US who dye their hair. Let’s dive into the study results and take a closer look at the risks of dying your hair.
History of Hair Dye
Having dyed hair has become commonplace, but not too long ago it was a rarity! In 1950 only about 7% of women dyed their hair. Now, around 75% of women dye their hair.
Back in Ancient Rome, women dyed their hair blonde with pigeon dung and ashes! After rubbing it into the strands, they had to add urine to act as ammonia and strip the hair of color. This sounds gross, and we’ve come along way from using essentially sewage to color our hair. Unfortunately, the chemical cocktail used on our heads these days may be presented nicer, but a breakdown of the ingredients may still alarm you.
Study Results: Hair Dye Linked to Cancer
A new study in the International Journal of Cancer reports a link between use of hair products, including dye and straightening treatments, and cancer.
The researchers also uncovered the following data:
- Using permanent hair dye is associated with a 45% higher risk of breast cancer in black women and a 7% higher risk in white women.
- The more frequent you use hair dye and hair straighteners, the higher the risk of cancer.
- Women of color have an even more significant risk.
- Black women using permanent dye every five to eight weeks had a 60% increase of breast cancer risk, while white women show an 8% risk increase.
- Straightener products also correlate with a higher breast cancer risk, which increases the more frequently the straightener products are used.
- Using hair straighteners every 5-8 weeks leads to a 30% increase in risk of developing breast cancer.
Beyond Dye: Straightening Treatments and Styling Products
Dye isn’t the only hair product to be aware of: most styling products contain dangerous chemicals, toxic fragrances, and other endocrine-disruptors. The average woman uses 12 personal care products a day containing 168 different chemicals, many of which lack sufficient safety data. Chemicals in mainstream hair products are linked to hormone disruptions, allergies, birth defects, organ damage, and even cancer.
“Fragrance” is a secret ingredient that seems to be lurking in everything these days, including hair dye, conditioning treatments, detangler, hair spray, and shampoo. This deceptive marketing term is a catch-all term used on ingredient lists to indicate a ‘trade secret’ recipe that can contain hundreds of synthetic chemicals–none of which has to be disclosed or even safety tested. What about the chemicals that have been tested? Many cause reproductive harm, respiratory issues, and some are known neurotoxins and carcinogens.
For example, phthalates are a key components in plastics. Dimethyl phthalate is a common ingredient in hair spray, though its presence is often not noted on labels. According to the EPA, known effects of short-term exposure via inhalation are irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. Meanwhile, “no information is available on the chronic (long-term), reproductive, developmental, or carcinogenic effects of dimethyl phthalate in humans. Animal studies have reported slight effects on growth and on the kidney from chronic oral exposure to the chemical.”
One would hope for more of a proven safety track record of dimethyl phthalate as an ingredient in products that are used on a habitual basis, multiple times per week over the course of many years. Unfortunately, that is not always the case when it comes to personal care products.
Beautiful Hair, Naturally
If you are ready to embrace your natural hair and are looking for ways to support its health, growth, and shine, there are supplements and topical treatments you can safely use for more luscious locks!
- A Vitamin B complex can strengthen hair, helping it grow longer without breaking.
- Collagen promotes the growth of not only hair. One of the best sources of collagen is in bone broth. I recommend Kettle & Fire bone broth. If you’d prefer a source of high-quality grass fed collagen that you can add to your coffee or tea, click here to see which ones I recommend.
- Omega-3s from wild-caught fish, antioxidant-rich green tea, and foods rich in vitamins A and C such as bell peppers, broccoli, and sweet potato all support health hair growth.
- Try a coconut oil hair mask 2x/week for added moisture and to prevent split ends. To stimulate hair growth and healthy follicles, rub coconut oil into your scalp and roots.
- Rosemary oil can stimulate hair growth, and is being used as a natural alternative to conventional hair loss medication!
It’s important to be aware of the risk associated with using products such as hair dye and relaxers. While dye alone may not be the sole cause of breast cancer for every individual, by knowing the potential risk, you can make informed decisions regarding the products you choose to buy and have exposure to.
Natural Solutions For Dandruff Fungal Overgrowth – Dr. J Podcast #162
Dr. Justin Marchegiani and Evan Brand talk about dandruff in today’s podcast. Learn what causes it and explore other possible underlying health conditions like gut infections involving bacteria, yeast, fungus or parasites.
Gain an understanding on how functional medicine practitioners approach this kind of problem including their clinical strategies and the testing involved. Get very helpful information regarding the products that they have found effective to address dandruff and the supplements they recommend to improve health conditions related to dandruff issues.
In this episode, we cover:
06:32 Antibiotics and Dandruff
07:27 Fungus and Refined Sugar
14:25 Birth Control Pills Effect and Dandruff
23:03 Hair Loss and Thrush Issues
32:16 Glutamine and Leaky Gut
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Very cool. My wife and I brought our new baby to his first wedding. That was pretty exciting. First wedding with the new one was fun and he did a great job.
Evan Brand: Oh, good. Ain’t it great when you go out on public and the baby is good, isn’t that great?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Totally. How’s your baby doing?
Evan Brand: Oh, she’s great. She’s actually— she’s got her molars coming in.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, wow!
Evan Brand: So she’s very incessantly crying this morning. Uh— but wife texted me and said the baby knocked out. So naptime is a good time. That’s great, man. Very cool. Well, we chatted kinda in our early part of the show talking about what we’re gonna talk about today, really. And we kinda discuss that dandruff is a big issue that’s been coming up in our clinical practice. We want to talk about kinda what is and just some of the clinical strategies that we utilize to approach it and to help address it from a root cause functional medicine perspective.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Something I think we should hit on first is what’s the conventional approach is? Is it dermatologist that people are getting refer to? Like what’s the rabbit hole would you say that people end up on with the dandruff problem?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So dandruff typically uses excessive shedding of kinda the skin on the scalp. And it tends to be fungal driven. Of course, there are natural diet things that help, right? Good fats, good proteins, like the digestive, the hydration component. All those things are important, but the infection component is really important because you can have the diet stuff all dialed in and that may not be enough to get rid of that infection component. And sometimes the— the fungal overgrowth that—that’s there could be there from a deeper infection. It could be there from H. pylori or blasto or deeper parasite infection. So, it’s important we keep our eye on what could be there in the scalp area, but also what other bigger infections could be promoting that overgrowth.
Evan Brand: Yup. So, if you go to conventional doc and you just happened to bring up dandruff, what are they going to do? You think they’ll just refer you out to a dermatologist in then they’ll give you some steroids for it? What would the conventional approach be? That way we have something to contrast it to our functional medicine approach.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. So your conventional approach is gonna be head and shoulders or sell some blow. That’s gonna be the general conventional approach. They may give you uh—a uh—you know, systemic antifungal medication that they see other kinds of things happening there. That’s gonna be the general consensus.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So the first thing that we’re gonna look at is we would probably lean more towards a anti-fungal kind of shampoo that’s herbally-based like tea tree or lavender or uhm—neem. These are some of the really good antifungal shampoos that are out. We’ll put some of the links below couple of the ones that I like are Art Naturals and Purely Northwest. We’ll put some links below here, so people can access them. We—I use those in my clinic a lot. You can also just get some pure you know, apple cider vinegar. You can mix a little bit of coconut oil. You can even do a little bit a tea tree and put it straight and kind just gonna do a little scalp massage and get right there in the scalp. That can be helpful, too. Uhm—but some other shampoos that are out there that already to go. So that’s another good option for you. Just, if you don’t want to have to deal that.
Evan Brand: Cool. So let’s talk about testing. I mean this is always our philosophy. “You’ve got to test, don’t guess.” If you’ve got a fungal issue, we talked about parasites. So we want to look into the gut and in the organic acids testing. Wouldn’t you say that be an important one for this, too?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I like the organic acids because because you can kinda look at fungus that may be more systemic. So when we look at a gut test, we may see various species of fungus in the gut. We may see Candida. We may see geotrichum yeast. We may see other types of Candida species. These are different species of yeast. And again, yeast is like the big umbrella. Fungus is the big umbrella and then we have some species of yeast there kinda under that big umbrella of fungus. So fungus is the big umbrella, yeast is the— the smaller kind of umbrella. And again,s mold like different molds that you may see like aflatoxin mold or ochre toxin. These different compounds are also kinda under that fungus mold umbrella as well, right?
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So getting to your question—Those are some of the big ones that you may see. Now, the benefit of the organic acid test is we have some markers that are more systemic base. So we have the D-rabanose. It’s an interesting marker that looks at fungal overgrowth from a systemic perspective. So, sometimes we see people to get the stool test back and they’re maybe okay from a fungal perspective, but when we look at the organic acid urine, we may see that the D-rabanose is on the higher side which tells us there maybe some kinda fungal thing going on at a systemic level and sometimes we may see it systemically but not on the gut. So that’s a good marker, too, for treatment.
Evan Brand: Yep, cool. Yes, so, Justin and I, between us both, we run thousands and thousands and thousands of stool and organic acids testing. I would say, Justin, tell me if your assumption is different. Nine out of every 10 people have a yeast and/or a fungal problem. Whether it’s to the level which can cause extreme issues or not. Maybe it’s not nine out of 10 that have an extreme problem, but someone somewhere, nine out of 10 is gonna pop up with something that needs to be addressed in that category
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. 100%. I think there’s some –there’s always some gut component. I would say the majority is a gut component. And most people with a gut component, uh—yeast is gonna be present. I find that yeast as the primary issue isn’t more common—it’s—actually less common, I should say. Where it’s more common is there’s a deeper, infection like a parasite or bacterial infection that’s of a higher level.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And yeast is kinda there, kinda like you see these sharks and you see these underlings that kinda suck to the shark’s belly.
Evan Brand: Yup, right.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: They’re kinda like that. They’re just there as the underling and you get these bigger, stronger kind of critter that is the primary focus.
Evan Brand: Oh, by the way, I don’t know if this is true, I heard from a client of mine last week, supposedly, diagnostic solutions is coming out with a new panel that can be added to the GI-MAP where we can actually test for worms including pin worms.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s awesome! I’m really excited. Worms are definitely a concern. I know we’ve talked about, you know, we use –we add in worm wood. We added mimosa pudica, various herbs like that to help with a lot of these worms as well.
Evan Brand: Yeah. So, that’s true. We’re gonna have some really good extra clinical nuggets in our hand.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hundred percent.
Evan Brand: So—I wanted—I wanted to mention antibiotics. So, somebody does have dandruff and we could also convey that message to other issues with the hair, the skin, the nails.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.
Evan Brand: There’s probably a history of like a urinary tract infection, right? So like these yeast and fungus that you’re talking about. If that’s affecting the vaginal area for a female and they get put on some type of natural antifungal or probably a conventional anti fungal. That stuff’s gonna come back with a vengeance. They may end up doing antibiotics therapy, too. And that’s not good. That’s gonna create a lot of room for the yeast and fungus to overgrow and all of a sudden, you’ve got the clean up crew that has to come post-antibiotics.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hundred percent.
Evan Brand: We’re not big fans. Like if you can avoid antibiotics, if your life is not in danger, then you could probably go ahead and say skip them and go to the natural remedies instead.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: A hundred percent. So of course, the big thing when we deal with any type of fungus is really cutting out refined sugar. So, if we could look at our carbohydrates, we kinda draw a line down the middle. We have like real food carbohydrates on one side of the fence, and then we have refined sugar carbohydrate with extra added sugar to the carbs on the other side. So, basically, draw that line, anything that’s refined sugar, we throw out, and then the left side, I kinda break it down into starchy, non –starchy, okay? So, starchy being like sweet potatoes, squash, white potatoes. Non-starchy could be our veggies, uh—broccolis, brussel sprouts cauliflower, kale. Those are our non-starchy. And then basically, we have our high sugar fruit and our low sugar fruit. High sugar fruit are gonna be more tropical things—bananas, pineapples, mangoes, right? Those kind of things. Then we have our lower sugar fruits— berries green apple, grape fruit passion fruit. Those kind of things. So we try, number one, stay on the non-starchy carbs primarily. And the low sugar fruits. So typically, 1 to 2 servings a day even on an anti-fungal approach is gonna be okay. Some people they go to the excessive and cut everything out but there’s some clinical evidence that these fungal critters may go into the spore-like state where they’re now kinda in hibernation mode. It may make it harder to kill them. So, we’ll actually have 1 to 2 servings of fruit in there. We may even actually up the carbs even more during the killing to bate them out. We want to wake up that bear so it’s not hiding in its cave all winter, uh—so we can hunt them down, so to speak.
Evan Brand: That’s a great point. So if a ketogenic— if a ketogenic diet has been the norm for someone, we may need to bump up carbs a bit, maybe add a little bit of fruit back. And there’s been a lot of demonizing of fruit lately, which I’m just not really a fan of that. I think there’s a lot of value there.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Again, it’s all individual. If you’re super over weight, you have a lot of markers for insulin resistance, your waist size is greater than 40inches for male, you know, up 20 pounds too much weight on there, then, yeah, that may make more sense to limit it or at least focus on the lower glycemic, low sugar variety, right? Low fructose variety. Maybe keep that fructose below 15g a day. That makes sense. But if you’re pretty active and pretty healthy weight, I’m fine with it. Hand—couple of handfuls about a day, that’s not a problem.
Evan Brand: Yup, good. So you mention the diet peace, now, some talk about diet as if he could cure you of these problems. I mean, I don’t really agree there where if you just follow this Candida diet, all of a sudden your problems are going to go away.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think if someone is like, you know, they’re kinda like dipping their toe in the functional medicine field like, “Is this worth it?” Well, just start with the diet stuff and see how much you get accomplished with that. If someone is having a lot of refined sugar and a lot of refined carbohydrate, right? Remember that line I drew? Refined carbs and then whole food carbs? If they’re having a lot on this side and they cut that out, they may see a significant improvement, which is great. And they may cut the grains out as well, which is great. But uhm—that maybe that last 20 or 30%. Or if there’s a deeper infection, uhm—that will have to be removed as well. So if it’s purely a fungal overgrowth that you may see a good improvement, but there may be some stuff still lingering. If that’s the case, then we got to dig deeper. Put on our clinical hats and you wanna definitely reach out to someone like myself or you, Evan.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Well said. I guess my point—I wasn’t trying to pass the diet piece. I guess my point is that a lot of people sell these books, promoting certain diets as if you can magically eradicate all of your gut problems. For me I got maybe 80% better so I dealt with IBS for probably 10 years, maybe even 15years. I mean, I had always had irritable bowel problems. Once my diet was better, my gut problems were there, but then when you first took a look at me, you said, “Evan, you’ve got parasites. And that’s something that no matter how much kale and broccoli I ate, I wasn’t going to get rid of parasites.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Or grass-fed meats. Yeah. Exactly. I get that. So, we’re kinda biased because we see a lot of people that already come to us, they got their diet on track and we got to dig deeper on top of that. So, I get where you’re coming from, for sure.
Evan Brand: Yeah. But the low hanging fruit that is the diet. And then we—we’ve, you know, Justin and I often have people that come to us that have been doing like a Paleo template or even like uh—autoimmune Paleo and they’re still sick and that’s where you say, “Okay, good. You’ve got the diet in place. It has to be in place, perfect.” Now, let’s dig deeper and that’s where we gonna find this other stuff.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hundred percent. So we hit the uh—we hit the fungal component of dandruff. We talked about the excessive shedding of the skin on the scalp. You know, a lot of babies have it. It’s called cradle cap or seborrhea dermatitis, tends to be fungal-based. Again, with my kiddo, or just really giving just real, good-quality breastmilk, but also what the mom eats has a huge effect on the breast milk.
So my wife has kinda have a good Paleo template, really on point. We give our kid probiotics as well. He gets the infant strain probiotic. I know your daughter did the same thing as well, which helps a lot, too. And surprisingly, our baby’s had you know, zero acid reflux, zero spit up. So I think that that’s really made a big difference as well.
Evan Brand: Cool. That’s awesome. Yeah. So mom’s listening, this could apply to babies, too. Now, do you have any evidence on this? Like a mom passing a yeast or a fungus overgrowth to the baby via breastmilk? I’ve heard that was Lyme’s disease and co-infections, you know, the spirochetes can pass through the breast milk but I just wonder about you know, the yeast. Could you pass a yeast through the breastmilk?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, that may or may not be the case. I’m not really sure. There may be some data on that. Uh—my biggest concern is a lot of the infants that are gonna be fed formula, if you look at a lot of the ingredients, it’s about 50% high fructose corn syrup.
Evan Brand: Oh, God.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: If you look at the amount of sugar that’s in a lot of these uhm—formulas, it’s the same amount that’s in a Coke.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: You just gotta be careful because that’s not really the best thing for your child. And then a lot of it is gonna be GMO, too. And there’s evidence of uh— Mercury on getting into a lot of these high fructose compounds due to the extraction process. That’s not good either.
Evan Brand: Wow. So I’ve talked with a couple practitioners who do like a microscope—
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-hmm.
Evan Brand: When you look at the blood and they’ve seen little—little balls of yeast basically in the serum of the blood. So I just wonder, “Huh, wonder if any of that actually gets into the system where— where mom pass it to the baby or not.” Well, I have to keep asking, keep digging. That is just my curiosity, but—
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think it’s a really great question here. And I’ve I think clinically, it makes sense. I see a lot of women that have poor gut issues and their child can get it. You know, they’ll get thrush with that white coating, so to speak. And they’ll get kind of a yeast issue where they get a lot of kind of a diaper rash stuff and that can happen as well. Like with our child, we’ve had no real yeast issues not even any diaper rash. We just kinda—like a couple of times, my wife will put a little bit of coconut oil there. We have some natural stuff. Yeah, we put there. But outside of that, he’s—you know, my son Aidan has been doing great on that side of the fence.
Evan Brand: That’s great. All right, so we hit the diet piece, we talked about antibiotics as a potential problem leading up to this. I would say birth control pills could be a factor, too. I’ve have had a lot of women— I don’t know the exact correlation or causation. I don’t know if that’s doing something with progesterone and estrogen that—that’s causing the dandruff for what it is. Do you have a take on that of why birth control pills could be a factor?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Birth control pills have an effect of alkalizing. So we can alkalize the urinary track. It has effect in alkalizing the guts and fungus likes to be more in an alkaline environment. And now everyone’s like “alkalize your diet” right? Well, a lot of these bacteria and we’ll just say fungus’s and bacteria, they like more alkaline environments. If you look at what probiotics do, probiotics actually add acidic load to the intestines. Like if you look at acidophilus, it literally translates to acid loving or acid producing. If you look at a lot of the really good fermentable drinks, a lot of them are very high in various acids, whether it’s glucuronic acid or uhm—
Evan Brand: Acetic acid.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Acetic acid, which is the main acid in apple cider vinegar and it’s not a surprise that acids like apple cider vinegar are used to treat fungal issues in the hair or they’re used to treat UTI issues as well. People will then utilize the Apple cider vinegar before meal to help with digestion and also acidify the urinary tract, too. So, a lot of these things are very helpful to decrease the critters and it changes the environment in the gut. So, good probiotics actually spit out more CO2, right? They spit out more of these really good acids to help get the gut into an environment PH wise with these critters can’t thrive, so to speak.
Evan Brand: Ahh. Okay, got it. Yes. So birth control pills, the antibiotics, maybe the prescription Diflucan’s or other prescription antifungals that you could’ve been on before making these strains more resistant. We talked about the sugar in the diet we talked about the gun infections, looking into those for bacteria and yeast fungus, parasites, getting your gut check with functional testing, not conventional testing. We talked about getting the urine organic acids for looking into the yeast and measuring it that way because stool test often gives us a false negative.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: We may even look at blood, too. We may look at candida antibodies like IgA, IgG, IgM. We may see those on the higher side, which could just mean there’s more of a systemic issue. And it’s nice to know because if we don’t have any gut stuff going on or we don’t even see any organic acids stuff, you know, typically, you’ll see some organic acid. You’ll see the D-arabinose there.
Evan Brand: Yeah. So what do you say to a person when they say, “Oh, Justin, can I just go buy a bunch of herbs and just start randomly throwing stuff from the kitchen sink at this problem and see if it works?”
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, the bigger issue is most people that have these symptoms, they have a whole bunch of other things, too. It’s very rare that you’re like, “Oh, my only chief issue is dandruff.” Or some kind of fungal issue, right? It’s mood, energy, sleep. If you’re female, there’s probably some cycle imbalances, whether it’s menstruation issues or mood issues or breast tenderness, back pain. Whatever’s happening there and then you have this. So there’s a constellation of the different things happening. And body systems, they function and dysfunction together. So, imagine a beautiful orchestra going, right? And one instrument starts going off. Let’s call that one instrument our fungal overgrowth or uhm— our scalp kind of a dandruff issue, right? That’s our one symptom. That’s our one imbalance. Well, it doesn’t take long before the rest of the orchestra starts singing out of tune as well.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And that’s what I’m referring to when we talk about the other hormonal issues that go out of balance. And then when we start having gut issues, then we can start having more leaky gut, which then can create more immune stress, then we can have more malabsorption and low stomach acid and enzymes and nutrient deficiencies, which then affect neurotransmitters and other hormone pathways. So you can see how this thing can really spiral out of control pretty fast. So, that’s why it’s good always digging deeper to really get a good body system audit of all the other things that are happening.
Evan Brand: Yup. Well said. I’m so glad you—you said it so eloquently. I did a rant at the end of my podcast that I put up last week and I just told people like, “Look, please, don’t wait until you hit rock bottom. Don’t wait until every body system is falling apart and then you reach out.” Like you and I work with those complex cases all the time. But if you’ve got one thing like it’s anxiety or little bit of depression or little bitt of gut issues or little bit of skin issues, it’s so much better to start getting tested and start digging deep then, as opposed to waiting until you’re symptoms list is 20 pages long. You’ve been suffering for 20 years, then you hit rock bottom, then you decide you want to get better. I’ll tell you, it will save people a lot of money and a lot of suffering if once you see these problems a little tip the iceberg poking out, address it, then don’t wait until like you said you’ve got anxiety, depression, PMS, irritability, mood swings, rage, poor sleep and dandruff to top it all off.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hundred percent.
Evan Brand: Please. And that’s not even to benefit us. It’s to benefit you. You know, we’ve been so booked up that we aren’t necessarily begging you, “Hey, please come see us.” It’s not like that. It’s the fact that, “Hey, look, I just want to save you some suffering and save you some time.” Justin and I came from our own health journeys as well and if we could just give you one piece of advice and maybe I’m not speaking for him, so I’ll let Justin give his— his feedback, too. But If I could say one thing, it would be if you’ve got a weird symptom, there’s probably some other stuff going on that you just have to find and fix.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hundred percent.
Evan Brand: Like me, I had to wait until I’d lost about 25 pounds. I had terrible sleep. I woke up, I wasn’t feeling rested. I had a lot of stress. I had some anxiety problems even to the point of a panic attack. I called Justin up one day, “man, my heart’s beating out of my chest. I can’t stop my heart.” You’re like, “Well, how much stress do you got going on? I was like, “ a lot” And he’s like, “how are you sleeping?” I’m like, “haven’t been sleeping very well” and then he’s like, “what’s going on with your gut?” and I was like, “Oh my Lord, every body system is affected” My gut has been affected, my brain, my stress response is broken. I was like, “this ain’t even me, I’m even an anxious person. What’s going on?” And you go, “Oh, it’s parasites, Evan.” So, for me, I had to learn the hard way. I had to wait until my symptoms piled up so much that I was falling apart to then fix it.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hundred percent agreed. I think we’re at that the point in our careers where we realize that there’s probably uh— more people out there that we see online with the you know, the millions of downloads we get every few months, that were not gonna be able to help anyone— everyone, so to speak. And there’s just too many people out there to help that— you know, we really want to put as much free content out there and if we can just get most of the people to just apply the free stuff, that is going to be huge. And we’re gonna make a huge difference in the world just by itself.
Evan Brand: Yup.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think we’re really just getting really good actionable information and I think the key thing I want to push to everyone listening, if you can walk away with just one action item, “Hey, I’m gonna do this.” or “I’m gonna add this component.” or “I’m gonna add this diet shift or this lifestyle change, or this supplement change” I think that you’re gonna make yourself better and healthier after every podcast.
Evan Brand: Agreed. Cool. Do you want to hit some questions for a few minutes?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. We’ve got some questions.
Evan Brand: Okay, cool.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Everyone writing questions, if you can kinda keep the questions framed towards the conversation, I mean, you know, you can kinda do a little politician pivot where you’re like, “Hey, dandruff” and then you’re on adrenals, right? We could kinda do that, so to speak. But I’m just trying to keep it connected to what we’re talking about as possible. If it’s so disconnected, we’re just gonna have to skip over the question.
Evan Brand: Yup, yup. Well said. Okay. Yes. So a lot of those were like off-subject questions. Let’s see.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I got one here about—let me see, I’ve got Gerald’s question here. Gerald was on my G.I. Clear 2, positive for H. pylori. I feel like it’s returned. If add Masika to the G.I. Clear 2 what dose should I take per day? Typically, two caps TID, two caps, three times a day and we need to retest, Gerald. Make sure the infection is gone. Make sure there’s no residual infections. We want to look a little bit deeper to at your partner or any dogs or pets in the house. Uhm— partner for sure is the easy one because that can, you know, you can go get that reinfected back and forth. So we need you to retest and then do GI Clear2 and the pure Masika, 2 caps TID and get that retested.
Evan Brand: Well said. Yeah. I had that a few weeks ago. A lady, she said, “I feel like my—my gut’s backtracked. I got off your herb. So, what’s going on?” and I said, “Well, now it’s time to test your partner. And sure enough, there is the H. pylori.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.
Evan Brand: That’s why she’s been getting re-infected. It took three rounds to get rid of it.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally.
Evan Brand: Alright, let’s go over to the next one here. There was one from Ovi. We’ll call it uh—I don’t know how to pronounce that full name. “Any tips on reducing hair loss and thrush when coming off of HRT as a female?”
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So— that would be helpful to know. I mean, imagine, I’m just coming guessing this is menopausal female, okay? So, you know 53-54 and up. So depending on kinda where the hormonal imbalance is, it’d be good to know if there is an estrogen dominance present or if we’re just having low estrogen and low progesterone and everything’s kinda in the tank. So, typically, when I think hair loss, though, I’m leaning more on the thyroid side. So, I’d want to know where the female hormones are at or if you’re cycling or not. So, if you want to comment on that, that’d be helpful. Uh— number two, really looking at the thyroid component because the thyroid has a huge effect on the hair follicles, stimulating the hair follicle to grow. And then number three is the gut component because that’s where we digest and break down a lot of the nutrients and amino acids and fatty acids that become the building blocks for our hair. So I want to look at those three places first.
Evan Brand: Well said. So I’d also add on looking at ferritin levels, too.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: See if there’s some type of anemia problem. You hit the thyroid so in—
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And when I say thyroid, though, that includes all that consolation because iron is very important for making thyroid hormone, so if you have a history, if it’s menopausal female and she’s not vegetarian or vegan, doesn’t have a history of endometriosis or fibroids or excessive menses, it’s probably not an iron issue.
Evan Brand: Good. Good. And then when you talk about the thyroids, too, so this is also including the antibody. So make it sure that there’s no Hashimoto’s at play coz we see that a lot. Justin and I find that many people with autoimmune thyroid, the hair, like nine times out of 10 it’s a problem.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup. Exactly. We’ll add in collagen peptides, too. Just this collagen is uh—it’s just great. It’s a great building block and then if it’s in peptide form, it’s already super easy to digest. So, give a little plug for my Tru Collagen on that one.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Check it out. Alright. Gerald had a follow-up question for second round of H. pylori eradication, should it be a 30 day protocol or 60 days?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Typically, a minimum 30. You can’t go wrong with just a 30. It just depends on what other infections were present along with that, but if it’s just the H. pylori, let’s say 30—30 to 45 is typically good.
Evan Brand: Yup. Nice. Alright. Mossimo had a question here, “Are sustained-release essential oils and herbs necessary as opposed to the liquid oil taken internally? It’s kind of a confusing question. I didn’t know there was such thing as a sustained-release essential oil, but what were talking about for this conversation would’ve been like a topical. So like Justin mentioned about those brands of the tea tree oil shampoos and such—
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: That would just be a couple of drops on the scalp. Use some type of Jojoba or avocado or coconut oil.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: And try to dilute that so it doesn’t burn your scalp.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally. In my line, we have GI Clear5, which is an emulsified form of oregano. That is more enterically coated. So it does open up more in the small intestine than the stomach. A lot of the fungal issues tend to be more on the stomach. I’m sorry—
Evan Brand: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It tends to be more in the small intestine. H. pylori more in the stomach. Evan Brand: Yeah. I forgot about the—the oregano oils.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.
Evan Brand: I guess when I read essential oils, I was thinking just like your standard oils that you diffuse.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s why I’d like to have some of my, you know, oils or some of my herbs taken on an empty stomach just so it can get fully out of the stomach into the small intestine where it can really help. It and really help can be little more effective.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Alright. So, Samuel had a question. “What’s your take on taking CBD with no THC for inflammation? I take it for the first time and noticed a huge difference in relaxation.” I’ll hit this one.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: I’m a huge fan. I just posted a YouTube video. If you haven’t checked it out, look it up, Samuel. I went to uh—a hemp form here in Kentucky one of the very few hemp programs that has been approved by the state government. And the guys making super high quality CBD and the guy is— so he used it on his son who is having hundreds of seizures per month and now the kid is like 12 years old and hasn’t had seizures in years just from CBD no THC. I think the THC does have benefit. I hope that there’s a couple of bills that are trying to get through for 2018. I hope we can federally just decriminalize cannabis across the board because I have talked with people, especially in the pain department, where when they add a little bit it of THC in, all the sudden their fibromyalgia or chronic pain does get better, which isn’t achieved just by the CBD by itself. So I think both would be awesome.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I’m not a huge fan of the THC side uhm— I think it can have some really good benefits if you’re going through cancer treatment and have extreme nausea and/or extreme pain and the CBD is not helping enough. I think it can be helpful like if we’re choosing you know, THC over chronic dose of the pain medication or opiate or like a lot ibuprofen, I will definitely reach for the THC component you know, over—over the rest. My biggest thing is just uhm— number one, there’s some potential memory side effects, cognitive side effects. Number two, I would say making sure that you’re not having to incinerate every time, right? Trying to do of a vaporizer or some kind of other medium that’s not involving the incineration, which exposes the poly aromatic hydrocarbons, the heterocyclic ABGs, the carcinogens that are produced. And uh—the CBD obviously is better just because it’s a less psychoactive, but if you can you know— epileptic stuff, autoimmune stuff, anxiety, mood stuff, the CBD for sure. THC more on the—if the CBD is not working and you need the pain or you have a lot of the nausea stuff that may be better.
Evan Brand: Yup. I mean with the THC, I don’t—I mean I’m sure there’s tons of people that still combust, but you really don’t even have to anymore. There are so many different drops and tinctures and potions and such that you don’t have to burn. You don’t have to burn the herbs anymore. And people don’t want to get high, too. So you could do like a 20% CBD like a 1% THC and you’d probably feel really good.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I hate the feeling of being high. I’ve only done it a few times in my life, but I’m tired and I just get the munchies. I’m fatigued and I just get really hungry. It’s like I don’t need that. I want to be energized and alert. And I think a lot of the negative studies on marijuana, too, is number one, you really have to make sure you’re not getting pesticide exposure.
Evan Brand: Exactly.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And you have to kind of faired out the burning and the incineration of the leaf.
Evan Brand: Yeah.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think if you pick, take those two components out, I think you’ll see a lot of those confounding variables showing negative results in those studies in proof.
Evan Brand: For me, a vaporizer change my life. When I had IBS, the only thing before I knew about by diet changes that help me was a vaporizer. It would slow down my bowels since I was having so much loose stool. It would regulate the bowels better stomach cramps, stomach pains would go away so I had a lot of hands-on experience— super helpful.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Go ahead, I’m sorry.
Evan Brand: I just have to say, I don’t vape anymore currently. One is it’s impossible to find a good source in Kentucky. Now, if I go to Colorado and I could find some good organic, high-quality, I’m gonna take a sample, that’s for sure. But for me, I just— I can’t find a good source here. So I do stick with the—the CBD drops, which is legal, too. You know, it’s another thing. It’s— it’s legal in all 50 states, the CBD is.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally. And uhm—just kinda –I think a lot of marijuana, maybe not the CBD, because that’s more the— the non-psychoactive. I think a lot of marijuana is used you know, to cover-up emotional stress uhmm—you know to the kind of numb yourself out from whatever’s happening in your life. So we just gotta make sure that you’re not using it to avoid reality, so to speak. But there is a lot of drugs out there that are very dangerous and have a lot of side effects and kill a lot of people. So if we’re choosing marijuana over these drugs that kill a lot, I will always choose the drug that doesn’t have the profile of killing people, right?
Evan Brand: I’ll pick it over alcohol, too.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.
Evan Brand: If I had somebody say, “I wanted to drink a bottle wine every night” or “hit the vaporizer, do a couple of drops of a tincture” The alcohol for me is gonna be a bigger problem coz it’s gonna create the leaky gut situation.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I mean if you’re drinking excessively, if you’re having a glass or two and it’s organic, you know, you’re probably fine with that on the alcohol side. But if you’re going you know, four glasses a night and then it’s consistent, yeah, they’ve done studies. I think it was a Giuliani report they looked at like the highest ranked college students in the country and they say you know, what do you prefer, alcohol or marijuana as a drug of choice? And the kids that have the highest grades were choosing the marijuana and their main reason was the hangover. They could wake up the next day and studying, get their work done.
Evan Brand: Makes sense. Let’s see if we have any other on-topic questions here. Do you see any others?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: See here—see, we can find some things that we can connect to our little politician side stepped here.
Evan Brand: Gerald had one, about how do you know if you’re eating too many starchy carbs per week? I— I cycle like it depends on the week and depends on activity level how much I’m gonna do.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I mean it—I think 50 to 150 is a pretty good place for most people to be. And if you’re doing a lot of lifting or a lot of CrossFit, then you may need to go up to 250. So I think, look at your height and weight. If you’re at a really good height and weight, you’re gonna have more latitude. If you’re lifting a lot of weights, I think you can go up to 150 to 200. If you’re doing Ironmans or like you know, those, then you may have to go way higher than that. So I think you really just figure out where your activity level is at. Figure out where your height and weight is right now. 50 to 150’s pretty good. And you earn your carbs. So you exercise more, you—and you’re lifting more weights, you can up your carbs a little more and just try to keep it whole food, you’re gonna be fine.
Evan Brand: Here’s another question about glutamine. Should you take glutamine by itself to repair leaky gut or is it okay to combine with protein?
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I mean glutamine is an amino acid, but if you mean like glutamine and then have real whole food protein, yeah, that’s fine. I mean in my line, we use GI Restore, which has glutamine and a bunch of their healing things and glucosamine and we’ll mix that and add in a drink, take it on an empty stomach and then patients will still have you know, a really good whole foods meal. Or we’ll add in the collagen as well which is very high in glycine. And glycine’s really good for the enterosite healing as well. So you can do either glutamine. I’ll typically only do L-glutamine by itself for patients that are very, very sensitive. We’ll typically add the healing compound in there, you know, the GI Restore, the all the other, licorice, aloe, slippery elm, glucosamine, right? Modify—We’ll all those in together and if that’s causing too much sensitivity, then we will do L-glutamine by itself. But they gotta really be sensitive if that’s the case.
Evan Brand: Yeah. And that’s— I find that pretty rare. The glutamine by itself to me, it just doesn’t move the needle as quick as the combo products like you talk about.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Only if there’s an allergy issue. And then, the collagen is great. Glycine’s a really big building block for healthy gut function, too.
Evan Brand: Nice. Bone broth, too. I think that’s another—
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That is very high in glycine, too. Yup.
Evan Brand: Cool. I think that was it. There were bunch of other questions, but a lot of these were super off subjects, so I don’t want to distract from the convo too much.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. So—
Evan Brand: The others—
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I think we kinda hit everything. I want to go off to— you know, off to uhm the kind of the __ James here talks about this just kind of the cost regarding the organic acid test and keeping it low. Typically, if— if you’re trying to keep the cost down with the organics, let’s do the test once a year. You know, do it once a year. Ideally, if you can do it uhm— twice a year, that’s ideal, but if not, you can just do it once a year. That’s kinda your—your best bet kinda just fine-tune your program once a year with the organics. That’s probably the best way to make it more cost-effective.
Evan Brand: Yup. Well said. Gerald said that we guys are the best. Change his life. Hey, Gerald, thanks. We appreciate it.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uhm—Gerald is actually a patient. Glad we could help, Gerald. That’s very good. And one last question, too. Diana talks about doing a podcast on estrogen dominance and progesterone therapy. Hey, you’re kinda—you’re too late. Check out the podcast’s show notes. We did a podcast on estrogence dominance and we talked about progesterone and __ augmentation programs that we do with progesterone therapy, too. So check out that podcast, Diana.
Evan Brand: Yeah. Go on either uh—Go on Justin’s YouTube. That’s probably the best if it’s posted there or to check out his site Justinhealth and just type in estrogen. You should find it either way.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And if you guys enjoy this right now, the best way you can thank us is give us a thumbs up, post, share on your twitter and/or uhm— Facebook. We love it. We just want to help more people and you notice, it’s a lot of people that are out there podcast people, they either hold information back or all they do is spend oh, you know, 90% of the time promoting their products and affiliates. I think 95% of our time is just free intel. Of course, we got a little plug here and there, but we’re 95% free information because we know there’s too many people out there that need all this info and we’re just gonna be an open book to everyone.
Evan Brand: Yup. Totally. So, we hope it helps. And if you need to reach out, schedule a consult with either of us. For Justin, check out his site. Justinhealth.com You can look up and click the book an appointment button. Myself, same thing. Evanbrand.com Check us out. Stalk us. Study us. Look under every crevice and corner. Read our reviews. We’re here for you. We’re happy to help if you got this issue going on.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Leave us comments below. Tell us what you like about the podcast and tell us about future podcast that you want to hear. We’re reading them and we get inspired by those comments below. So say, “Hey, I like this about this podcast and I want to hear something about” And tell us that topic we’ll add it to the queue.
Evan Brand: Yes, sir. Good chatting with you.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Everyone, have a great day. Take care.
Evan Brand: Take Care.
Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Bye.
Natural Birth Control Options – Prevent Pregnancy Naturally
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Learn all about the different methods and approaches to preventing pregnancy naturally. Gain information about the ovulation cycle of women and how it is affected by different methods such as the rhythm method, barrier method which includes use of condoms, cervical cap, IUD, and the chemical method which is by use of the birth control pill. Find out about the pros and cons of each and combination of approaches and determine which one works for you.
I have lots of female patients that are inquiring about this. Also their male counterparts who is trying to figure out ways that they can prevent pregnancy without having a whole bunch of synthetic hormones in the body. So we have the conventional approach, which we’ll talk about today and we’ll also compare that some of the natural approaches and figure out what works best for you. At least give you the options that you can make a better decision.
Three Methods to Prevent Pregnancy:
1. Rhythm method (time-based)
2. Barrier methods (condoms, cervical caps, diaphragms and IUDs)
3. Chemical methods (birth control pills)
Whether they’re a synthetic estrogen or progesterone-based, we’re going to go through this one by one. So off the bat, we have the rhythm method. First thing with the rhythm method is you have to know what your cycle is like.
A typical cycle is going to be about 28 days long, on average. If we draw this out, 28 to 0, that gives you a good frame of reference. And we’re going to use the red for the estrogen. The first half of the cycle you’re going to see, estrogen kind of pop-up a bit. Then it drops off the last half of the cycle, like so.
Progesterone is going to be blue here. You’re going to see progesterone comes up, right about here in the middle of the cycle and then falls off here at the end. So you could see here, first part of the cycle right here- the start, this part here is going to be the follicular phase- put an f and x to it. And this part over here will be the luteal phase.
Estrogen predominates in the first half. Progesterone predominates in the second half- really important. Now ovulation, the primary in which pregnancy can occur, is going to happen right here, right in the middle. This is the money right here. That’s the money shot. And that’s where the sperm and the egg have to meet at the same time. And that’s going to be where that happens.
So knowing that, what we do based on that information? If we have about 2 to 3 day window here, so about 2-3 days here, and we know sperm can live about 5 days – 5 to 7, essentially. We have a 5 to 7, plus three-day window here. Essentially, we got about 10 days a month a woman could potentially be fertile if sex happens beforehand. Because if ovulation’s already happened, it wouldn’t matter if sperm came in here because the hormonal timing is now passed. But If we have sperm in here ahead of time, they could easily get in, fertilize that egg. And a baby would be on its way, so to speak.
We have about 10 days of fertility a month – 10 days. And again, it really takes someone knowing their cycle. I recommend a female having at least six cycles, whether within at least a day or two. So they kind of know where that ovulation is.
Three things to note when using the rhythm method:
- Drop in temperature
- Increase in temperature following the drop
- Increase in cervical mucus production
A couple things you can do to figure that out is a great app called Kindara on the iPhone. And the first thing that you can do, is you can track your temperatures first thing in the morning. You will first notice a drop in temperature. And second thing you’re going to know that you’re already into ovulation, is you’re going to notice an increase in temperature following the drop.
So it’s the drop first. The increase, second. And this kind of means you’re already in the middle of ovulation here. We’re already ovulating here. And the last thing would be also noticing some cervical mucus, kind of like an egg yolk kind of consistency. So those will be the three categories that you would use while you’re in your cycle to kind of confirm that you’re moving along in the right direction. You can also do an ovulation test which measures luteinizing hormone. It’s part of the brain signaling that increases progesterone which is part of that increase in temperature there.
When to use the rhythm method
You can do the rhythm method and use it to avoid sex during this time frame here to here. The big thing is you have to make sure you don’t come in too soon after. So typically, day 10 to day 20, or day 8-18 is pretty safe. And if you’re on the fence, you can use a condom and/or various barrier methods if you’re within a day or two and you’re kind of uncertain about it. Barrier methods or as we said the rhythm method works about 88% of the time. So just be very mindful. It’s not perfect. If your cycle is inconsistent or you’re more on the unhealthy size from a hormone perspective, you may want to look at combining a condom or barrier method along with that. That’s the rhythm method there.
THE BARRIER METHOD
So with the barrier method, we have a couple standard ones here. You have your condom, which will protect you from STD’s as well. Well that’s a male counterpart, right there. The others will be all female counterparts.
There’s a pill that we’re using. It’s not quite out yet, but it’s decreasing FSH for men which then creates spermatogenesis downstream. I’m not sure how much I feel about that yet. Not an update on it, but it’s something. It’s coming out – the male version of the pill.
So condoms are going to be the first one. Again, this will actually protect against STD, which is good. The others won’t.
Cervical Cap / Diaphragm
You’re going to have your cervical cap / diaphragm, kind of similar. And that’s just the barrier. Basically, it’s blocking the cervix where the sperm would come in from the cervix into the uterine lining or into the uterus. It basically caps that off and blocks it. So you have the cervical cap and the diaphragm.
It basically sits in the uterus here and prevents the egg from implanting. That’s how the idea works. It is effective of disrupting implantation of the egg, so the egg can’t come in there and stick. We have barriers: condom, cervical cap, diaphragm, IUD. So couple things here. This is going to be something the guy can use. Also protects the STD’s there, too.
Advantages and Disadvantages of the barrier method
Cervical cap and diaphragm are great because they can be combined with the condoms. So you have a barrier method on the male side, a barrier method on the female side, which provides really good, extra coverage. The only thing is you got to put all these things in. You can’t let these things stick. You got to put them on before sexual intercourse or foreplay. So you’re going to know to do that ahead of time. 1-2-3.
The IUD is nice because it’s always there. So you don’t have to plan it ahead of time. The main one that we recommend would be the Paragard IUD. That’s going to be a copper based IUD. You have to worry about some copper issue with that. But, I mean it’s not going to be the Marina which is the progesterone, synthetic progesterone IUD. So it’ll be a copper IUD and it’s always going to be there. Some women, it can create bleeding issues. You got to figure out if it’s right for you or not. You may want to try it and see if it works well from a symptomatic standpoint, but that’s always going to be in there.
Combining IUD and Condoms
A lot of times you can do an IUD, you can combine with condoms or if you don’t want to do the IUD because of side effects or you’re worried about the copper issues, you can combine the barrier method with the condom method and then you got a really good shot. And you can also just do the condom method. That’s still going to be good, 90%+ of the time. If you combine them, obviously you get even better coverage. That gives you the barrier method there. So you have the rhythm, and again you can use all these and combine them with the rhythm method during that 10-day time frame at your hormonally sensitive for ovulation and for fertility and pregnancy. So these can be combined with the rhythm method.
THE CHEMICAL METHOD
So with the chemical method, let’s talk about the birth control pill. The birth control pill, in general, works by inhibiting ovulation by decreasing feedback loops in the brain. So real quick, we have our brain. And we have from the brain, we have our hypothalamus and our pituitary, and that produces a compound down here. We have FSH on one side and LH on the other side and that talks to the gonads. This case, that’s the ovaries. The males, it’s that the testes. So these various feedback loops here. And LH and FSH are really important.
Luteineizing Hormone (LH) and Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH)
The LH in a female helps to increase progesterone levels which are responsible for cervical mucus. And FSH helps grows the follicle and also helps thicken the endometrial lining so the egg can implant. So does the LH as well. If we decrease these, we decrease them by taking the birth control pill. It’s going to increase more cervical mucus before ovulation, so it makes it harder for the egg to get in there. That’s going to be the synthetic progesterones. And then the FSH is going to make the endometrial lining thinner. The endometrial lining will get thinner with the FSH being lower and the cervical mucus will get thicker with the LH being lower. Synthetic progesterone will increase cervical mucus. These synthetic estrogen will actually thin out the uterine lining and have effects.
So number one, it’s going to be harder for the egg to get into the uterus. Number two, it’s going to be harder for the egg to implant into the uterine lining because deep lining will be thinner. And that’s the general idea for the most part, a woman’s going to be be taking 21 days of pills.
Types of pills
Typically, it may be a combo of estrogens and progesterone and synthetic ones. So not estrogen, but synthetic estrogens and not just progesterone, but synthetic progesterone. Maybe a combo a lot of times, it’s going to be a ethanyl-estradiol like a Yasmine kind of thing. Or it may be a combo that has synthetic estrogen and progesterone.
Sometimes if there’s side effects, though, we’ll give women progestins throughout the month as well. Those got to be taken exactly at the exact time everyday. Less flexibility with those than the regular ones. But again, 21 days typically of pills, followed by seven days of reminder pills, which are basically just dummy pill, so your hormone levels can drop. Because it’s the drop in hormones that signals the uterine lining to shed and does it all again.
Again, birthcontrol pills- what is it doing? High amount of estrogen and progesterone. The high amount of estrogen and progesterone drops the LH and the FSH. And when that’s dropped, what happens is, thicker cervical mucus cap, sperm can get up there- that’s from the LH. We have a thinner uterine lining from the FSH and the estrogen’s behind which makes it hard for the egg to stick.
Some side effects of the pill
Pills can increase sex hormone binding globulin, which can actually decrease your testosterone levels. So common side effect is a lower testosterone, so lower libido.
It can also increase thyro-binding globulin, which can lower your free fraction of thyroid hormone, which can cause weight gain.
So we have decreased energy, decreased libido, and waking- the side effects there. Not to mention nutritional deficiencies ranging from B vitamins, to folate, to methylation, the calcium, magnesium and zinc. There’s a whole bunch of other things going on.
We always try to go with the most natural route possible. And I always try to suggest these things above, the barrier rhythm methods because or a combo because of their safety record.
Pills and Cancer
Again, the pill- not a fan of the synthetic hormones. Just not a fan of it. I mean, the pill has been shown to help reduce uterine cancer and ovarian cancer and thyroid cancer, but it’s been shown to increase breast cancer. And breast cancer is a far bigger killer than the first three. So you got to keep that in mind. Plus, we’re bombarded with estrogens – synthetic estrogens in our environment all the time, and we’re in this. Most females are in a constant state in various testings we do. They’re in a constant sate of estrogen dominance whether estrogen is so high in relationship to the natural estrogen-progesterone balance. And they are predisposed to fibrocystic breast conditions endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts. Mainly because of the hormones being out of balance.
Pills and Symptoms
Now a lot of people are being prescribed birth control pills off-label. So they’re being prescribed because of hirsutism or hair issues on their face, or excessive bleeding, or migraine headaches, or mood issues, or PMS. And a lot of times, the pill is not really getting to the root cause.
If your hormones during your cycle go high and low, then high-low again, then drop, it will cause symptoms. The perturbations or up-and-down fluctuations are going to create symptoms, mood issues, migraine, headaches. If it falls out early, and you have 5-7 day gap, this can drive PMS, back pain, cramping, breast tenderness, moodiness, depression.
So again, is it really fixing the underlying issue? Because all it’s doing is taking your estrogen and doing this. It’s raising a flat line, then you hit your reminder pills, and then basically goes right down. So you’re just basically raising your estrogen levels super, super high and then you’re taking your 7-days reminder pills, and it drops. So all it’s doing is, instead of the up-and-downs here, it’s covering all the deficiencies up by giving you a flat line hormone.
Again, birth control pill’s been around for 50 years or so. Some side effects are present. Pretty easy, easier than most above, so you got to figure out what works best for you. Whether you rather have a little bit more inconvenience, but less synthetic hormones; or a little more convenience for potential side effects. So you got to weigh out pros and cons.
If you’re trying to deal with hormonal issues, PNS issues and/or your hormone’s back on track, click on screen. Reach out to myself so you can get more info on how you can get your hormones back in action. Again, this is Dr. J here. Click on screen, subscribe for more videos coming your way.
The Top 5 Birth Control Pill Side Effects – Functional medicine options
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Birth control pills are often prescribed for reasons outside of just avoiding pregnancy. Many times birth control pills are prescribed for acne, migraines, excessive menstruation and PMS symptoms.
The problem with this type of approach is it doesn’t fix the root cause of why those symptoms are there in the first place. At some point, these old symptoms will reveal themselves again and maybe worse than they were originally.
Today we’re going to dig into how birth control works, potential side effects, and natural contraception options.
Birth Control Pills
The conventional route of preventing pregnancy is either through chemicals or pharmaceuticals: A.K.A. birth control. The most prescribed medications out there are birth control pills, which pump your body with estrogen and progesterone.
There are couple of different kinds of birth control, including: shots, subdermal pellets, pills, NuvaRing, and IUDs like Marina (synthetic progesterone).
Other Uses of Birth Control Pills
Birth control pills are also prescribed for other hormonal issues (acne, mood issues, migraine headaches, heavy menstruation…) In other words, if you suffer from bad PMS, the conventional route is to give you birth control to artificially stop or control your periods. However, these issues are generally driven by imbalances in the body- so birth control is covering up the underlying issues, rather than fixing them.
How Do Birth Control Pills Work?
Birth control affects organs like the cervix, vagina and uterus. Here are a few things that happen to you, physically, when you take birth control:
Decrease in FSH and LH
These are your pituitary hormones that talk to the ovaries to make progesterone and estrogen. When you’re taking a birth control pill, essentially you’re telling your brain that you’re pregnant. That’s why these hormones start to drop. When these hormones drop, they stopped talking to the ovaries to make estrogen and progesterone. So typically, FSH is going to then talk to the egg, and stop that egg from growing if it’s low. It’s going to stimulate egg growth if it’s high.
So if FSH is low, that egg is not going to grow. When FSH and LH both low, what tends to happen is you get a thickening of the cervical cap so it’s harder for sperm to make their way into the uterine lining.
In a natural cycle, estrogen rises in the first half of the cycle and that starts to thicken the uterine lining. But when you’re taking a birth control pill with synthetic progesterone, the Drospirenone, that actually thins out the uterine lining. It thins it out, making it harder for an egg (if it is released) to actually stick into the uterine lining.
Birth control pills works a couple different ways:
- Inhibiting ovulation.
- Preventing sperm from getting into the uterus area to begin with.
- Preventing the sperm and the egg from sticking into the uterine lining and fertilizing.
Women’s Menstrual Cycles
The first half of the cycle is predominated by estrogen. So estrogen is up like this in the first half of the cycle; then we have progesterone that predominates the second half of the cycle. And you can see what happens is progesterone rises and falls and estrogen rises and falls right at the end of the cycle which triggers menses. And then we have the part here in the middle of the cycle where ovulation happens and that’s where pregnancy can occur.
Effect of Pill on the Cycle
With the birth control pill, these hormones aren’t going to fluctuate because the LH and the FSH is dropped. Because the LH and the FSH is dropped, we’re not going to have that nice, natural rhythm of hormone because essentially our brains think we’re pregnant.
With birth control, instead of there being drops in progesterone level, we are now getting a high amount of progesterone and estrogen above where we’re supposed to be at. And so, we now have a flat line instead of a natural rhythm. Then typically around Day 21 and 22, we take those five to seven days of reminder pills which then allows the hormones to drop like so and that allows menstruation to happen. With a progesterone-only pill, that may not happen; but on an estrogen or estrogen-progesterone combo, that’s what’s going to happen.
Side Effects of Birth Control Pills
There are many under-acknowledged side effects from conventional birth control methods. These include depression, weight gain, acne, nutritional deficiencies, thyroid issues, and even cancer!
The birth control pill may affect your mood; depression is one of the most prominent side effects because you’re affecting hormones. Hormones are intimately connected to our moods. So if you’re taking hormones and bringing them above a physiological or bringing them to a super physiological level, it may cause depression and anxiety.
Birth control pills affect the pH in the vaginal tract, making it a little more alkaline. When the pH is more alkaline (above a 7 pH), it becomes more inhabitable for yeast and bacteria to grow. So when you’re stressed and when you’re on birth control pills, you have an increased chance of a UTI or a fungal infection.
Birth control pills are notorious for creating B vitamin deficiencies: folate, B9, B12, B1, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin. All these are important for your overall health, and for your thyroid as well. You have to be mindful that if you’re going to use the pill, you have to make sure you’re taking high-quality multivitamin because of the deficiencies it leads to.
Because your birth control pill is increasing sex hormone-binding globulin, testosterone binds to protein. Called “sex hormone-binding globulin,” when testosterone starts binding to protein it makes it harder for that testosterone to bind into the receptor site. It gets too large and can’t fit where it needs to go.
So that protein there renders your testosterone or your sex hormones to be a little bit lower functionally. So guess what happens? Libido goes downhill and also because the testosterone drops a little bit, guess what happens to women’s skin on the birth control pill? It tends to get a little better.
This is kind of a controversial one, but if you look at the side effects on the bottle or on the drug, it’s going to say weight gain. Birth control generally increases estrogen; synthetic estrogen increases insulin resistance. As we know, insulin resistance us a huge cause of weight gain (and also leads to trouble shedding excess fat).
Sex hormone-binding globulin and thyroglobulin increase when you take birth control. Thyroglobulin is a thyroid hormone, which, like testosterone, also has trouble binding. Thyroid issues are linked to weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, and more.
Increased Risk of Cancer
Birth control pills may increase cervical cancer 300%, and increase breast cancer by 200%!
If you’re trying to prevent pregnancy, check out my natural birth control pill video.
If you’re taking birth control for PMS symptoms, address the root cause of those issues. Don’t turn to a pill to mask the symptoms- it will just cause you even more trouble down the line.
If you’re trying to get your hormones balanced, or trying to get yourself back on track hormonally from some of the side effects of being on birth control pill, or trying to avoid it, click on screen, subscribe. You can always schedule a consult with myself.