The Gut Anxiety Connection | Podcast #352

How do your emotions get affected by your gut state? In this video, Dr. J and Evan talk about anxiety and stress as an example and how we can manage them based on evidence-based practice. Excessive worry and stress can worsen GI problems, and studies show that treatments and good food templates will help people cope with their GI symptoms.

Dr. J and Evan clarify that the brain immediately affects the gut. For example, the thought of eating can stimulate the release of the stomach’s juices before food gets there and vice versa. A sick intestine can alert the brain, just as a troubled brain can alert the stomach and intestines. Therefore, a person’s intestine and stomach distress may cause or be the product of stress, anxiety, or depression. It’s because the gastrointestinal (GI) system and the brain are intimately connected.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

In this episode, we cover:

0:00 –   Introduction
2:21 –  The Importance of Gut Microbiome
4:21 –  The Gut Microbiota’s Effect on Mental Health
8:43 –  Strategies on how to Approach Adverse Reactions to Probiotics
15:13 – Potential Neural Marker in Anxiety Disorders

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: For the podcast, really excited. Evan and I are gonna be chatting about the gut-anxiety connection. A lot of people have mood issues, uh, mental, emotional issues and they’re connected to the gut. And most people unless you have bloating gas, diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, they’re not really connecting any gut issues to their mood especially anxiety. So, we’re gonna try to connect the dots for everyone here today. Evan, how are we going today man? 

Evan Brand: I’m doing really well, you know, I’ll start out by saying if you were to go to a conventional doctor and the referral for anxiety or depression to a psychiatrist, they’re never gonna consider the gut. They’re never gonna run a stool test or an organic acids test or a mold toxin test. There’s a study done on mice and mice that were exposed to various mold toxins. They have lower levels of dopamine and we know people with lower dopamine, they could be more apathetic, they could be more depressed, they could just be less excited for the world and although the organic acids doesn’t measure GABA, we can tell just based on symptoms, like easily stressed, hard to relax, you need alcohol to calm yourself down or maybe you need chocolate to self-medicate. We know these people probably have low GABA and GABA is the breaks of the brain. At least, that’s how I refer to it. Think of the GABA as being able to inhibit or slow down the sympathetic overdrive and GABA is going to calm that and increase that parasympathetic reaction. Now, the connection is to gut, well, we know, there’s a paper here we pull up just because we like to have a couple studies, there’s one titled, “Gut Microbiota’s Effect on Mental Health: The Gut-Brain Axis”. Long story short, the study backs up, what we’ve already known and you and I have been doing clinically for a long time, which is that we’re fixing dysbiosis because we’re finding that when you increase levels of lactobacillus, this is key in producing GABA and so that’s pretty interesting and the study goes on to talk about the different inflammatory pathways and how dysbiosis creating inflammatory proteins in the gut. That’s gonna also affect anxiety. So, dysbiosis alone that’s sounds crazy to some, maybe to mental health physicians but if you have gut overgrowth problems, that could be the biggest single smoking gun for you mood issues.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% because the gut microbiome very important. It helps modulate the immune system. So god healthy levels of beneficial bacteria, Bifidolactobacterium, Lactobacillus beneficial flora. They’re gonna actually, help modulate the immune system, they’re gonna help with permeability, keeping gut permeability down. They’re gonna help with inflammation reduction. They’re gonna keep the inflammation down. They also help, um, take mold toxins that you may get exposed to and make them less virulent, less strong, less inflammatory as well and then also beneficial bacteria are gonna synthesize nutrients based on the food coming in, so it’s gonna take your poop and it’s gonna take poop and convert it to nutrition versus dysbiotic bacteria is gonna take you poop and make things take your nutrients and make you more toxic, right? So, we wanna really get high levels of nutrition and you’re gonna get endogenous production through health gut bacteria, like vitamin K, different B vitamins, you’re gonna get some fermentation acids that actually make it harder for a lot of bad stuff to grow. So, this is kind of important starting place and if you look at some of the medications that are coming out for more mood stuff, some of the mechanisms seem to be more of an anti-inflammatory on the brain. That’s very interesting because we know, the mechanisms in the past have been kind of SSRI or tricyclics in the 80s and 90s or SNRI, right. These different kinds of medications of course, you have benzodiazepines that work on GABA and the different GABA agonist, right. So, now, we’re working on inflammation and we gotta be careful because we had some inflammatories natural, not natural but anti-inflammatories in the early 2000s, they called, that was called Vioxx that killed 60,000 people. So, we gotta be careful because when you, uh, use a lot of pharmaceuticals anti-inflammatories there could be side effects and I imagine if it’s on mood and the brain, you could see strokes and things like that. So, we gotta be careful. So, we try to use as many natural components foundationally with diet and supplements. First, because of the least likelihood to cause problems. 

Evan Brand: Wow. That’s insane. Well, you and I talked about the impact of exercise on anxiety before, we’ve covered that. We know that exercise is a super potent antidepressant. Here’s something cool about the gut in this particular paper. I put it in the chat for you if you wanted it, but it talks about how Lactobacillus strains upregulated BDNF, which is the brain derived neurotrophic factor and that resulted in increased regulation of the HPA axis. Let me just read the last part again because that’s pretty nuts. Supplemental Lactobacillus increase the regulation of the HPA axis, so here we are working with people using adaptogenic herbs but let it, but the cool thing is we’re actually fixing the adrenals by fixing the gut too, which is amazing and then it goes on further to talk about supplementing with Bifidobacteria and how the patients in the study rated an overall happier mood using six dimension of mood including: energetic, uh, composed versus anxious, elated versus depressed, clearheaded versus muddled, confident versus unsure, and agreeable versus angry. So, long story short, this actually improved the HPA axis functionality, as well as diazepam, or there’s another one here citalopram, that’s an anti-depressant, that’s an SSRI so long story short, this is pretty nuts. Probiotic therapy reduces the depressive symptoms and improve the HPA axis as well as an SSRI. So, there you freaking go. And here’s one more thing, Bifido infantis increases tryptophan, a serotonin precursor. So, we always talk about, okay get tryptophan in the diet but simply the good bacteria can actually make tryptophan, which then makes serotonin and GABA. This stuff is just amazing. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I put the study up on screen. So, anyone watching this video here could take a look at it again. If you are listening to audio, we put the video link down below. If you guys want to look, this in the journal clinical practice 2017: Gut Microbiota’s Effect on Mental Health. And I’ll just gonna read that conclusion again. Dysbiosis and inflammation of the gut have been linked to causing several mental illnesses including anxiety and depression, which are prevalent in society today. Probiotics have the ability to restore normal microbial balance, therefore, have a potential role in the treatment and prevention of anxiety and depression. It gets really powerful there. And again, that’s only one of many things. Now, um, just to comment, I see a lot of people that get their mood worse when they have some of these things too. So, what’s the deal? Well, probiotics can be high in histamine and they be high in FODMAP. So, if you have a lot, if your immune system is so wound up, the histamine from these probiotics may cause problems, also the fermentable nature of these probiotics may cause problems, if you have SIBO. So, if you have massive bacterial overgrowth or your immune system is so wound up, when you can’t process histamine or you’re sensitive to histamine then you have to be careful with these things. So, even though we say, this is good, it doesn’t mean it’s good for everyone. So, we’re just trying to lay out, hey, it maybe good for you but if it’s not, here’s maybe the reason why and we just have to dig in deeper and so there’s really no just magic solution. There’s a lot of tools that we kind of line out and we go in sequential order and work them through with our patients to get the best results possible. 

Evan Brand: I’m so glad, you went that direction with the conversation because me listening to myself as a third person, I’m thinking, oh my God, I need to go out and buy probiotics right now and I’m gonna just feel happier and less anxious and all that. And that certainly was not the case for me when I had gut infections and I tried probiotics, it made me worse, it made my skin worse, it made mood worse, I got more anxious, and what the hell is going on. Well, as you mentioned, there’s a sequential order so I love that and this is why it’s important for you to do, and for I to do what I do because you and I are seeing these things clinically and the trenches is totally different versus somebody with a health podcast. They could look at this study and they could do a whole podcast about this, and then they could trick people not on purpose but just not having the clinical background, they could look at this and go, oh my God, probiotics are gonna be the miracle cure and then people are gonna listen to the podcast, they’re gonna do it and then they’re not gonna have a good reaction like me and they’re not gonna know what to do. So, I’m so glad that you’re integrating the clinical approach to this thing which is wait a second, yes, this is all true but there’s an asterisk next to this study and the asterisk as you mentioned is what if there’s bacterial overgrowth and the histamine bucket’s already so full or what if a mold or a mast cell has problem and the histamine bucket is already so full, so you can’t tolerate these probiotics. So, maybe walk us through what you’re doing, what do you suggest people do if they’ve had a reaction like that to probiotics, maybe they didn’t do it at the right order, or how should they approach this?  

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, the first thing we have to really do is just calm down the immune system and the biggest factors that we have to do that is the food that’s coming into our body. So really, choosing a good anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense whole foods and, and if we know that there’s a lot of digestive issues, bloating gas, we may have to restrict FODMAPs and fermentables out of the gate to kind of decrease the dysbiosis.  Because when we address like gut microbiome issues, we hit in three ways, right, we starve it, we kill it, we crowd it out. So, starve, kill, crowd, starve, kill, crowd. And so, the first aspect of that is shifting the foods to starve some of these microbiomes that maybe bad and then again it’s gonna be short-lived, we’re not gonna, we don’t wanna go low FODMAP forever, right, because there’s a lot of good foods that have FODMAPs in it and even histamine in it. So, there’s no reason, we’d want to do that but, in the beginning, if we can shift the immune system, calm it down, if we can shift some of the microbes down and then as we start adding different things in supporting our ability to break down food, start adding in adrenal support because when our nervous system is just stuck and our vagus nerve and our parasympathetics are low and our ‘fight or flight’ is high, our immune system is gonna be, it’s gonna be overly sensitive, okay. It’s gonna be overly sensitive and we’re also gonna have poor digestion and when we have more poor digestion, we’re gonna have gut permeabilty issues, we’re gonna break down our food and we’re gonna  have more of these foods in our gut get into the bloodstream and stimulate the immune system in a negative way. And so, if can calm down that immune response through decreasing our sympathetic nervous system whether it’s breathing techniques just good diet and lifestyle, good food, managing blood sugar throughout the day, not over under exercising, good hydration. All of those things are kind of, you know, the foundational marks, that we put as we work up a patient. So, we have that foundation there. 

Evan Brand: Here’s the question that came in from Keith, he said, “what are your thoughts in taking colostrum for gut health? We use colostrum but as you mentioned in that in immune situation, we might not want to use colostrum. I’ve had some people, where their immune system is so just haywire that colostrum does affect them. It’s not super common but there are some cases where we can’t use it and so in that case, we may be coming in with more herbal based leaky gut supports DGL, glutamine, zinc, carnosine, more amino acids  

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: amino acids, nutrients. Yeah, I mean colostrum, because it comes from a cow, right? It’s gonna be, more dairy based. Supposedly, colostrum is dairy free meaning, you’re not gonna get the casein and the lactose. So, it depends on how sensitive, you are. Some people, they may be sensitive were they still in a problem. Some may, it may be okey. I tend to just avoid colostrum, just because my patients are very hypoallergenic and so I tend to use more of the more hypoallergenic compounds like the zinc and the glutamine and the DGL and just things like that. Not saying, it’s not beneficial and I’ve had my patients take it and do well with it. So, I’m on the fence with it for sure, I have a little bit of colostrum in my true keto collagen and patients do really well with that. And so, it’s a tool that we put in our tool belt, but for our sensitive patients, I tend to not be the first thing that I jump on for sure. I think we’re on the same page with that.   

Evan Brand: Yeah. Uh, here’s a person here, “what about a probiotic that has both Lactobacillus and Bifido, will they cancel each other out?” No, we used those together all the time and some of the most high-quality professional formulas we make. We have combinations because you get different nutritional benefits in the gut from different species. There are some cases, where I have done straight Lacto or I’ve done straight Bifido, just to see how people do? But those are like the one percent sensitive people. The average person, we’re working on, they can tolerate a combination and then obviously, if we’re working on mold or Candida or some other problem, we’re often throwing in Saccharomyces boulardii in there too. So, then now you’re doing Bifido, Lacto and you’re doing Saccharomyces. That triple combo which technically Saccharomyces boulardii, even though it’s marketed and sold as a probiotic technically a yeast will often work that into the protocol and it does so much better.   

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, 100%. Evan, what’s your experience using spore-based probiotics?  

Evan Brand: You know, they give me just terrible gas. My God. It just hurts my tummy; I’ve tried them and I went on them and I went off of them. I went low dose. I went high dose. I mean, we even manufactured some too and I’m like, God, I just don’t feel that good with them, I’ve had some people that are like, hey, this thing is a miracle cure, this is the best I’ve ever felt and good for them. But for me, it just did not go well, so I feel much much better with a low histamine, more I guess, you would just call it living probiotics as opposed to the spores. What about you? 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. I mean, It just depends, I think patients that don’t do well with your Lactobacillus, Bifidobacter, I definitely have a good bunch that do better with the spore based probiotics. So, depending on the level of SIBO that’s going on, some patients do really great with it. I have no problem myself with higher dose Bifidobacter, Lactobacillus infantis species, so I don’t have with it. But some patients, I know with significant SIBO history just do well on, if they just do much better and supposedly that the spore-based probiotics really help potentiate the growth of these other beneficial flora. So, it does help a lot of the other beneficial flora and they do hang out a lot longer too.  

Evan Brand: Yeah. And I’ve tried a couple of different professional brands. I mean there’s two big brands out there. I tried both. The one I did actually feel pretty good on, a couple others I didn’t feel so good on. So, I think it could be a brand difference too.  There was another question here, “when is the best time to take probiotics with fiber or empty GI?” I don’t know the whole wheat fiber deal. I’ve never heard of that before. I personally take them on an empty stomach and I’ll do them first thing in the morning like before breakfast. I’ll just pop all my supplements or I’ll take them before bed. Unless, I’m taking a binder then I won’t. My thought on it is to try the bacteria in there especially because some of the professional manufacturers, you and I use, we’re using an acid resistant capsule. So, it’s gonna actually bypass the stomach acid and deliver the beneficial microbes to the gut so in that case, that’s why I like it to be there. Just because, there’s not as much competition with the food could just be theory, I don’t have any proof that it works better but that’s how I approach it. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, that makes sense. I mean you can definitely have some beneficial effects with some fiber, with some probiotics because the fiber does act as prebiotics and it can help kind of provide the fertilizer for the seed, the seed being the probiotics to grow. I do like it. A lot of your conventional probiotics tend to do better on an empty stomach but I mean taking them with food has some beneficial effects as well with digestion and such and so I say. Try to take most of those with food. I think that’s good. I just wanted to pull one study up here, I think this is interesting, um. Let me pull this up here. So, just kind of support we’re talking about right. This study is looking at neuroinflammation association alterations of the brain is a potential neural marker in anxiety disorders, so we’re just trying to build up the case that we’re talking about here. Preliminary evidence suggests anxiety disorders are also associated with increased inflammation. Systemic inflammation can access the brain and enhance pro-inflammatory cytokine levels that have been shown to precipitate direct and indirect neurotoxic effects. Prefrontal and limbic structures, these are parts of the brain that have to do with higher thinking, uh, emotions, memory are widely reported be influenced by neuroinflammatory conditions in concord with these findings various imaging studies on panic disorders, agoraphobia, generalized anxiety have been reported alterations in the structure and the function and the connectivity of our prefrontal and limbic structures so what they’re saying is inflammations affecting the parts of you brain that are involved. They’re higher thinking, higher function memory cognition anticipating, you know, cause and effect based on your actions, right. Prefrontal cortex is it’s the part of the brain that allows you to anticipate, to think, to plan, um, most of people from our you know from evolution we’ve been more, um, midbrain kind of reptilian brain type of you know, kind of knee jerk reaction kind of response and the frontal cortex gives us the ability to think and certain nutrients have allowed that part of the brain to grow. High quality cholesterol, Omega-3, free fatty acids, amino acids help that brain to grow. But if we’re driving inflammation in that’s gonna have a negative impact. Now what are the things that are gonna be driving inflammation in our diet? Well, Omega-6, refined processed vegetable oils, trans fats, refined sugar, too much carbohydrates, too much sugar, these are all gonna drive brain inflammation. And of course, inflammation in the gut can cause inflammation in the brain. Inflammation in the gut is bidirectional, it is a two-way highway. Inflammation in the body whether it’s like getting exposed to round up or mold toxins can cause gut inflammation. Inflammation in the gut through dysbiosis and food allergens can also cause leaky gut and cause inflammation from the gut to go outward up to the brain and it can activate the microglial cells in the brain which can create fogginess and more immune response that can make us feel worse and more, um, more anxious or depressed based on what’s happening in the gut. 

Evan Brand: I just sent you one, other paper too, which kind of interesting, talking about antibiotics and how antibiotics are gonna drive up depression and anxiety and talked about treatment with just a single course of antibiotics was associated with a high risk for depression and then also anxiety. So, I’m not saying don’t take them, I mean if you need them to save your life. But I will just say, that’s there’s so many people that have been put on these different medications that affect the gut and so when we’re trying to paint the picture here of what went wrong, why did someone become anxious, it could have been that they went in for a routine dental procedure and they were taking the antibiotics, they screwed up their gut, now they have dysbiosis as you mentioned, this big inflammatory link to the brain. Now, they’ve got this bacterial overgrowth, they simply were using something as preventative medicine, these antibiotics and then boom, now they’ve got this overgrowth. And then as you mentioned these bacteria are pooping poop and then that’s going to make you more anxious, so there was a question that came in about, well, “how much time do probiotics take to work for anxiety?” I mean, that’s a really tough question to answer because what else is going on, are there gut inflammation issues, are there bacterial overgrowth issues. What about Candida problems, I mean, there’s other things we have to factor in, so I wish it were just so easy to say hey take this probiotic in three weeks, you’re gonna be less anxious. I wish that were the case but, I think the answer is it depends.  

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally. One study here, I’m putting the study up on screen, so you guys can see, Anxiety exposure and the risk for depression, anxiety or psychosis, journal of psychiatry 2015. So, you guys can see the abstract and the conclusion down below. Take a look at this study, all right. All right, where is it. Systematic Administration of Curcumin Affect Anxiety-Related Behavior in a rat model. So, it’s interesting. So, what we’re trying to look at here is results suggest that curcumin has anxiety-lytic like effect on biochemicals and behavior. Uh, it may be useful agent to alleviate or treat psychiatric disorders similar to those observed in patients with PTSD. So, what are they saying here? They’re saying in this rat study, giving curcumin actually resolved and significantly had a benefit on anxiety. Now, why is this? Well, because it has natural anti-inflammatory benefits and the postulate is that by reducing inflammation in the brain and in the body that also helps the mood and anxiety. Now, we don’t wanna just rely on the supplement. So, people that are watching this right now, don’t just say hey, I’m saying to fix your anxiety get curcumin. Fix all the foundational things that set the table, that drive inflammation and then once you have the foundation then you can go dig deeper and using specific supplements to reduce inflammation like curcumin, like Boswellia, or frankincense. You can also, there’s systemic enzymes that can be taken away from food. There’s a lot of good higher dose fish oil, ginkgo. These are excellent nutrients that can help drive down inflammation. A lot of the bioflavonoids and some of our lower sugar fruit like berries and quercetin, those kinds of things. And other studies on a handful of blueberries a day can reduce inflammation in the brain to. And we talked about that in the past, so inflammation plays a major role and get the foundation right. Because if you have a lot of dysbiosis but you’re trying to take curcumin to cover up the inflammation, fix the gut stuff first, fix the adrenals and the sympathetic overload first, fix the food and the blood sugar and then you can dive in deeper with extra functional medicine nutritional, uh, tools.  

Evan Brand: Yeah. Yeah. Good point. And I’ll just say it in another way, which is that you could take all the generic stuff meaning generic natural stuff as you mentioned Boswellia, curcumin, potentially high dose fish oil to reduce inflammation. Maybe you’re gonna lower the anxiety some but you’re still not getting to big root of it which for me was gut infections. I had parasites, I had H. pylori, I had major bacterial overgrowth, I had Candida problems, I had mold problems. All those things were affecting my gut which were affecting my brain so I was having just out of the  blue, anxiety, I mean some points, I was panicking, I thought I was dying in some situations. My blood pressure was going crazy for a while, I mean it was all related to these toxin issues and so I encourage people to get some of the labs run so you can figure out what the heck’s going on. The first place to start obviously is gonna be a stool test. So, we run a DNA stool test that you can do at home and you get that back to the lab and then you can get a really work up on what type of infections do you have. Is it just bacteria or do you have parasite? What about your gut inflammation? Have you measured that? Because if you’re anxious and we see high gut inflammation, we gonna go ding ding ding look at the connection there. And then, we mentioned on the Oak test, there’s not GABA but we can do trial runs. I manufacture a chewable version of GABA that we use, it’s pharmaGABA, which is fermented and bioavailable. So, we use that. And if people have a good response to that, then we assumed that they had a low GABA situation. If they take one or two of those and then they feel better then hey we’re pretty happy. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Also, let me just. That’s very good and so, if you wanna support the show, some of the supplements that we’re gonna recommend we’ll put it down below in the notes section you know recommended supplements. So, Evan has a chewable GABA. I also have a liposomal curcumin. When you’re taking curcumin, you wanna make sure it’s liposomal. So, it has maximal absorption, only about 15% get absorbed,uh, it’s also better absorbed with black pepper as well, but people that have night shade sensitivity that may be problematic. So, if you want curcumin supreme is a liposomal version, we’ll put down below. Put Evan’s recommended products too. Now, interesting study here, when I look at inflammation in the same rat study. When they looked at the administration of curcumin, they actually saw a decrease in cortisol. So, this is serum cortisol here and as they increase the curcumin, you can see the drop in cortisol. And it makes sense because cortisol is an anti-inflammatory, so, the more your inflammation your body has, the more you’re gonna surge cortisol to help reduce the inflammation. The problem is cortisol is catabolic. It’ll break down tissue and so in the long run, you don’t want cortisol out of the balance because it will start breaking up tissue. So, in interesting enough to see that the reduction in cortisol followed by the increase in the amount of curcumin given to the rats. And the increase in, um, improved mode, the decrease in anxiety. So, that’s powerful. So, we wanna look at everything from a root cause. We wanna have all of our foundational tools and our palliative functional medicine, nutritional tools to plug in. And its good data to back it up, so we, you know, we can see, yeah, these things make sense because I always tell patients I’m talking to, what’s the mechanism, what’s the root cause, are we getting to the root cause and are there anything else we can do palliatively to support the healing of the root cause. 

Evan Brand: Yeah. Meaning, okay we could do some chewable GABA, we could do some curcumin, or whatever else to try to calm things down, while behind the scenes, we’re working on getting the mold out, fixing the bacterial balance, integrating probiotics, restoring gut flora, bringing in Saccharomyces boulardii to address Candida. All thes things are, I mean, that’s the art of it, right? That’s the fun and the beauty of what we do and it’s just a blast. Let’s hit this question here from Sarah before we wrap it up. She said, “Are there any thoughts on raw milk to help heal the gut if tolerated, ok? There are mixed thoughts with this.” I’ll rant on it really quick. My thought is because I had a lot of issues with dairy, I personally just do butter and I feel best with that. And I would argue that to help heal the gut, we can use all these clinically shown ingredients that don’t use dairy proteins like the zinc, carnosine, the glutamine, the chamomile, the DGL. So, my bias is to go for that. But, what do you think? 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I have the same as well, um. I don’t do great with raw milk. I get massive diarrhea, massive bloating issues even raw. Now, the benefit of raw milk is, you have all the cream right the homogenization tends to like kind of damage a lot of the globules and then of course pasteurization destroys all the enzymes that help you handle casein and lactose, which is the sugar in the milk better, the caseins, the protein. And so, there’s that right? And so, you tend to had. If you have problems with dairy, you have a better chance of being able to tolerate it with raw milk. Now, even with raw milk, I don’t do it as well, but I do, I don’t tolerate as well but I do tolerate butter and ghee wonderfully because it’s cut out the casein, it’s cut out also the lactose as well. So in general, if you’re more hypoallergenic probably stay away from it, wait till you’re healthy or try it, um, if you’re relatively healthy and you wanna give it a try, sure, but in general, if you’re having immune issues or chronic inflammation issues, probably stay away from it until you get things under the control and then you have a better baseline and then when you try to add it in, then you’ll really be able to know, if you can handle or not because you’ll, you’ll go from feeling good to not and It’ll be quite clear.  

Evan Brand: Yeah. Question from Ty, “what’s the first diagnostic tool we can use to determine the state of your microbiome?” uh, typically two things were gonna do, the stool test, the DNA stool test we use at home and something that Justin and I run clinically on pretty much everyone and then the organic acids test is helpful too because we’ll certain bacteria pop up that maybe the stool test missed or vice versa. So, stool and urine at home, those are thing that we can run and they’re incredible valuable tools, so valuable that I almost don’t even want to work with somebody without those data points because at that point you’re just guessing and we prefer to test not guess. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally, now on those tests, we may look at commensal bacteria like Bacteroides and Firmicutes, uh, Bacteroides and Firmicutes, you want essentially, you know good levels of Bacteroides or Firmicutes. If people have high levels of Firmicutes in relation to Bacteroides that could be a problem but that usually is never the problem in and of itself. Usually, there’s dysbiotic bacteria, Citrobacter, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas, um, Morganella, right? These are all dysbiotic type of flora that are overgrown, that can throw off a lot of the commensal stuff. So, ideally if we see commensal bacteria off. We want to address the dysbiosis first and then we can use different fibers and prebiotics and probiotics down the road. Once we’ve kind of fixed a lot of the dysbiosis and that kind of help get it back in the balance. 

Evan Brand: Man, I tell you half an hour flies but we gotta run and this is something we could do a part two part three on but the big smoking gun for people with anxiety might in my opinion based on suffering for years and years and years of with different issues, it’s the gut, the smoking gun for anxiety, mood issues, depression, fatigue. A lot of this is coming from the gut. You and I have hit upon how B vitamins are made in the gut too, you did a really eloquent explanation on previous podcast about how you’re making the nutrients that fuel the mitochondria, we went pretty deep into that before so that’s an exciting mechanism that I think most people are not talking about they’re putting people on Adderall or other things to try to boost up their mental energy. You gotta look at the gut so I encourage people to get tested. And if you need help, you can reach out clinically. We have a question from, uh, where’d it go, Pelona, “how can I contact you or have an appointment?” So, uh, Dr. Justin Dr. J, he’s available worldwide, so am I. If you want to reach out to him, it’s at You can reach out worldwide, phone, facetime, skype, whatever and then for me Evan, We’re available for consults and we can send labs to your door, we run those, we get them back to the lab, jump on a follow-up call, review the results and then make you a protocol, get you feeling better as quick as we can.     

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Excellent. I’ll put a list of recommended products and recommended, uh, resources for today’s podcast to kind of back up what we’re saying. Also, you can watch the video on screen where we pull up some of the studies and if you guys enjoyed it. Gives us a thumbs up. Put your comments down below. Let us know what you like and what you wanna see improvement on and recommended topics coming up all right. Evan, thanks for everything., justinhealth,com We are here to help you guys. Have an awesome day. 

Evan Brand: Take care though. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Take care. Bye.


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How Does Dopamine Affect the Body? | Podcast #319

You might have heard that dopamine is the “feel good” neurotransmitter. In many ways, it is. In this podcast, Dr. J and Dr. Evan are talking about dopamine and how it is essential for our health. 

Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter. Your body makes it, and your nervous system uses it to send messages between nerve cells. That’s why it’s sometimes called a chemical messenger. Dopamine plays a role in how we feel pleasure. It’s a big part of our unique human ability to think and plan. It helps us strive, focus, and find things interesting. 

  Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

In this episode, we cover: 

1:58    All about Dopamine

10:15  Specific nutrients

15:06  Sunlight and Dopamine

22:08  Hormonal Changes

27:18  Healthy diets

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Dr. Justin Marchegiani: We are live. It’s Dr. J here in the house with Evan Brand. Today we’re going to be talking about dopamine. What is it? What are the symptoms of low dopamine? And what are the natural solutions that we can implement that get to the underlying root cause of why your dopamine may be low or even out of balance? Evan, what’s going on, man? How you doing?

Evan Brand: Oh, doing? Well, let’s dive in. This is a fun one. You know, we’ve been looking at dopamine for many years. I mean, over 1000 times, you’ve and I have looked at different clients around the world. And I would say, there are some people that have normal dopamine, like we’ll see it occasionally. But as a general rule, the people that are reaching out to us, I would say, resembled the same as like your typical American because typical Americans probably less healthy than our clients are trying, our clients are trying to be healthy, and they still have low dopamine. And what does this look like symptom wise, let’s go straight into that. So we got to give credit where credit’s due Julia Ross did an amazing job with her book, the mood cure, I think that actually came out maybe the 80s and 90s. But then she’s new versions of it. But she’s got a chart in her book about low dopamine. And so I’m just going to run top to bottom real quick of symptoms, because I think this is where people need to, to think, Oh, this is not just me, this is potentially dopamine or the catecholamines in general. And it’s craving pick me ups. So like caffeine, sweet starches, chocolate, apathetic depression, lack of energy, lack of drive, lack of focus, concentration, attention deficit disorder, easily bored. That’s low catecholamines. And then she goes into treatments, but we’re not ready for that yet. So that’s kind of what you’re, you’re looking for. And this can happen in kids too, right? So parents think, Oh, my kids just a crazy kid. No, they could have low dopamine. We’ve seen it many, many times in children. And I think a lot of it is just due to toxicity for various sources.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% so just to kind of dovetail a little bit more kind of root cause stuff, or just kind of laying the foundation, what is dopamine, you kind of already talked about what some of those symptoms are, which are important, but don’t mean it’s a feel good neurotransmitter, it’s going to help with focus, it’s part of the pleasure reward system in the brain. That’s also known as the motivation molecule. It’s also known as the I Love You molecule, it’s that little bit of you know, a little bit of squirt comes out on that dopamine when you have that feeling of connection or loved one with your family or spouse. It’s it’s gives you that little bit of sense of satisfaction when you make your bed or you clean up your home or you achieve something at work or with your family. Right. That little bit of pleasure you get so dopamine is very important. It’s also helps with stress it helps with dealing with signaling from the brain down to the ovaries or to the adrenals. In regards to healthy stress, communication from the brain or healthy sex hormone communication to the to the gonads in man, it can help with libido and women. Healthy levels of dopamine are very important for keeping prolactin in check when dopamine goes low. prolactin can increase and that can throw off the female hormone cycle, it can throw off FSH and LH it can start to cause imbalances in estrogen and progesterone. So dopamine doesn’t just affect one thing, which is just mood. But it helps you manage stress, it helps you feel good and also can affect your hormones, which then can affect a lot of mood issues, especially as a female as you enter the end of your luteal phase. And you go into pre menstrual time, that seven day time before you men straight or it can also have a big effect on guys just causing low libido and giving you a short wire. So all those things are possible connections for sure.

Evan Brand: Wow. Yeah, you did a great job painting the picture. And on the I guess the far end of the spectrum in terms of issues with dopamine is Parkinson’s disease is definitely connected to this right. I’m not saying that low dopamine necessarily, is the cause of Parkinson’s. I think there’s a lot of causes and things that go into that. But the way that they treat Parkinson’s, for example, is they’re going to use some type of a drug like levodopa, that’s going to work on it, they’re going to basically, they’ll give you the precursors for dopamine. And yeah, and then and then in terms of less patho note, you know, less pathogenic levels, like less disease level state of treatment. This is where, you know, all the college students know it’s going to be the whole amphetamine category, it’s going to be like your Adderall, or vyvanse is maybe even cocaine, those are really going to hit those are really going to hit that and they’re going to be agonist what are called agonist of dopamine.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, so in general that the Kava dopa the levodopa, these basic, more pharmaceutical based dopamine type of analogs are used for sure. The problem with a lot of those is they don’t really give you a lot of the building blocks to make it and then also, when you take a lot of dopamine support, if you take high levels of it, over time, you’re actually going to deplete serotonin because the aromatic decarboxylase enzyme that helps you metabolize dopamine or help you metabolize the precursors, whether it’s phenyl, alanine to tyrosine to L dopa to dopamine. Those require specific enzymes. Those enzymes also get up regulated when you’re taking a lot of those building blocks in metabolizes serotonin. So you can actually create some functional serotonin imbalances when you’re doing high dose dopamine support. Now there is a direct connection, obviously, Parkinson’s, it’s more of an autoimmune issue where your substantia nigra, it’s which are the cells that make dopamine in the midbrain, they get destroyed, you know, for a lot of different reasons. So it could be you space, it could be autoimmune, contributed by gluten or heavy metals, it could be a whole bunch of stuff, right? conventional medicine isn’t really aware of what a lot of the root causes. But we know there’s a lot of weird autoimmune stuff at play. So that’s important to know. Now, if we see someone on the Parkinson side, yeah, we may want to support that it depends on how bad they are, if they need to be on the pharmaceuticals. But if they if they are, you know, we’re going to be supporting all the building blocks like B six and the B vitamin family and fully methylated, b 12. All methylated we’re going to be giving high quality magnesium, vitamin C, maybe a little bit of calcium cysteine. And sulfur amino acids are very, very important when you’re making a lot of these brain chemicals. You need good good sulfur, to help with that conversion, whether it’s cysteine, or Sammy or muthiah. And you need good cysteine to help norepinephrine epinephrine conversion and don’t and dopamine is a precursor to that. So the problem is when you chronically are stressed, your body will take dopamine and it will go dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine. And the problem is you’ll pull dopamine to go down these adrenaline pathways. epinephrine, norepinephrine are all going to be catecholamines are adrenaline, right? adrenaline, epinephrine, catecholamines, they’re all the same way of saying the same thing. conventional medicine loves to confuse people. So you have dopamine, it can go down the stress pathway. So fixing whatever that chronic stress is emotional, physical, whatever it is sleep, food, you have to fix that. Or you’re going to be always pulling dopamine to go downstream to your stress hormones. Same thing and women with progesterone, progesterone chronically stressed, you’ll go progesterone downstream to cortisol. So you’ve got to fix that. So you don’t overly pull these good brain chemicals downstream to manage stress.

Evan Brand: And yeah, great explanation of what you’re saying. Sounds kind of crazy, right? Like on your average street corner, this conversation would blow people’s minds. But What in God’s name is this guy talking about? This is not an uncommon situation, though. This is extremely common, like the way you’re talking. And then the way I’m listening, I’m trying to like, listen as like an onlooker to this conversation, they would think, oh, wow, this sounds crazy. I don’t have Parkinson’s. So it sounds like I’m okay. No, there are major, major, major dopamine issues among the general population. And we talked about those symptoms, briefly how it manifests, this could be where you can’t get up in the morning. Now, that could be a low cortisol situation to right, you have permission, as you say, you have permission to have multiple things wrong. So it could be a, you wake up in the morning, you don’t want to get out of bed, when you do get out of bed, you really don’t want to get the day started. You’re just kind of lethargic, you can’t really focus, you can’t concentrate, you’re really having tough time getting yourself together. These are the people that say, Oh, God, you know, don’t schedule anything with me before 11am. Because I am spent I am toast in the morning. It could be a low cortisol, but it could be a low dopamine thing, too. So you would already mentioned some of the nutrients but also, we’d like to use the amino acids like we’ll come in and use things based on testing. So can you guess and check? I guess that’s one question. I want to bring up one conversation piece. Can you just guess and check? Can you look at symptoms alone and then just come in with supplements? Yes, you can. But I would argue that you would probably want to test it because as you’re mentioning the endorphins, the catecholamines, it’d be nice to look at things like your norepinephrine or epinephrine levels on organic acids testing, because if there’s more emotional sensitivity stuff, you and you and I might come in with something like dl phenylalanine, as opposed to just a straight tyrosine. So like tyrosine, we may come in for dopamine, or the velvet being the macoun appearance. We may come in with that for dopamine. But if we see low endorphins, we might want to do a combo. Maybe we do a little bit of DLP, which some converts over to dopamine, but there may be a bigger endorphin problems. So this is where getting a good urine organic acid testing done initially helps because we’ll also look at serotonin and as you mentioned, I want to tell a quick story about what you said. You talked about how supplementing and working on dopamine pathway long term can affect serotonin. I had a yoga teacher as a client one time and she had been taking long term brain support but she was just spot treating like one amino acid but not all the others. And we looked at her brain chemistry and it was completely shifted She had completely boosted up some brain chemistry and completely depleted other brain chemistry. So it’s like a spiderweb is kind of the way I talk about it. Like if you touch this side of the web, you’re going to affect the other side of the web. So that’s why you want to be targeted with your approach when you’re coming in with nutrients.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% So, we have specific nutrients. We talked about the conventional medical approach that are giving the cinnamon or the levodopa carbidopa that can create a lot of problems in the long run because it can decrease serotonin. And then a lot of times it can deplete a lot of the sulfur. And so a lot of times there can be a toxicity component with low dopamine, whether it’s mold or heavy metals or pesticides, or just recreational drug use. I’ve heard of patients doing you know, let’s just say more cocaine or more stimulant medications that can actually deplete your dopamine because you’re basically flooding a lot of the dopamine past that synapse. And you’re basically whipping a tired horse right? So you stimulants are like the way of whipping a tired horse right? feeding and nourishing a tired horse. Right? construct vehicles are like good nutrition, sleep, hydration, good adequate nutrient dense foods, right? healthy proteins, healthy fats that’s like constructive vehicles, destructive vehicles are going to be stimulants. methamphetamines, cocaine, Adderall, vyvanse, all these different things that are going to just overly whip you, right? Too much caffeine, too much coffee. That’s like whipping a tired horse. Short term. Can it work? Sure. Right long term? Definitely not. So we were the one to make sure that when we’re working with people, we’re kind of drawing the line between constructive and destructive vehicles, because the goal was never just to fix the symptoms. Now, because we can do that with short term, destructive vehicles. Right, we want to use construct of vehicles that fix it and actually heal it in the long term. We want to make sure whatever those diet and lifestyle habits that kind of drove this to begin with, we want to make sure those are at least neutralize, or we at least have enough habits to kind of balance out the healing on the other side of the fence. So we always got to look upstream. At the organ systems that may not be functioning well. adrenal is female hormones. Looking at adrenaline because adrenaline plays an important role with the adrenal is because when the adrenal is are overly stimulating cortisol or having chronically stimulated cortisol and adrenaline and noradrenaline, or epinephrine, and norepinephrine, same word, don’t get confused there. They play a big role. And so epinephrine and adrenaline, they all are like the first responder that gets cortisol ready to go and prime. So when people talk about cortisol, stress and adrenal stress, it’s impossible to have chronic cortisol stress and not have some type of adrenaline or epinephrine stress alongside because they work side by side.

Evan Brand: Yeah, well said. And then I’d say the guts tied in maybe not as much with dopamine as it is serotonin. But we rarely see issues like this happening with a perfect gut situation, because we know that the amino acids you’re going to get from your proteins, assuming you’re digesting your proteins, well, those are going to help and act as precursors for brain chemicals. So we will look into the gut to I mean, we can do urine testing, and look at neurotransmitters like I know the guts looks at neurotransmitters a bit I prefer the organic acid panel, you know, from into it, because I do a mold panel with it. So I prefer that for brain chemistry. But the guts still important, and we’ve seen which is kind of interesting. Just by improving people’s gut, we’ve seen neurotransmitters come back online without having to specifically supplement brain chemistry nutrients, which is pretty cool.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% so when we look at someone’s dopamine, we always got to get to the root cause right? Can a crappy diet with just too much refined sugar cause low dopamine? Yes, right? that’s a that’s a destructive vehicle. high amounts of sugar. high amounts of alcohol can flood dopamine past that synapse. And it can create that dopamine rush that people are looking for. Chronic stress can obviously can things just like gluten exposure or some kind of a gut infection or gut inflammation or gut bug? Like you kind of alluded to absolutely how, because it can create stress and inflammation in the gut. And that can create malabsorption of important amino acids, like your dopamine phenylalanine tyrosine, right, your dopamine precursors, all those building blocks, all your sulfur as well. So of course, anything that affects gut absorption can have a major impact on those building blocks, getting to where they have to go, it can create a bottleneck. Anytime we’re just overly stressed whether it’s physical, chemical or emotional stress, that’s going to cause you to convert more of your dopamine to adrenaline, noradrenaline, epinephrine, norepinephrine to manage that stress. Same thing with women and cortisol, right? Women can go progesterone right to cortisol and that can create estrogen dominance like issues and again, hormones with women can play a big role on your neurotransmitters so adequate levels of progesterone can help but Gabba Gabba can help relax relaxing, right? The more relaxed You are the less chance that you’re going to be converting dopamine to adrenaline. So you see how healthy female hormones and healthy cortisol levels play a role with not needing to over stimulate the neurotransmitters. Well, they’re all connected.

Evan Brand: Yep. Let’s go into just some like basic stuff. I sent you a link in the chat you can check out which is a good list that has some studies to back it up. So I’ll just kind of run through a few of these kind of easy ones that people don’t think about in regards to lifestyle. You hear about people talking about sunlight and dopamine. It is true there is some some papers on dopamine being increased and this is why a lot of people may get more seasonally depressed in the winter. I think a lot of it’s more serotonin but I do believe dopamine has a factor of exercise, of course increases dopamine, meditation, yoga, touch massage, music, we’ve already hit on the foods we’ve already hit on some supplements. Interestingly enough huperzine which we love huperzine I use huperzine and a lot of brain nutrients. So we all we often use huperzine to increase acetylcholine going yet memory learning, but I didn’t know this it also increases dopamine. There’s a paper here it says it increased dopamine by 129% above baseline with huperzine I thought it was primarily working on the acetylcholine esterase enzyme but apparently-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -not connected. Yeah. I know with serotonin and dopamine you can you can help support Gabba just by having healthy serotonin and dopamine so everything’s connected. So when you work kind of, you know, above below, inside out, you tend a lot of these things tend to trickle down and and support that healing.

Evan Brand: Resveratrol. That’s interesting. Resveratrol increases dopamine by 53%. Oregano, that’s pretty cool. We typically use oregano for gut infections, but apparently it’s increasing dopamine levels by decreasing dopamine breakdown. So must be working on that enzyme again.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, makes sense. Interesting.

Evan Brand: Probiotics lacto. Last one here, Lactobacillus plantarum. That’ll increase dopamine. So that’s pretty cool. I mean, we you and I’ve seen this thousands of times where we see that mood issues improve by fixing the gut, and that would include probiotics. So there’s a mechanism that we didn’t necessarily think right off the top of the head lactobacillus helping.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I know also vitamin D and curcumin, anything that’s tends to be more on the anti inflammatory side can help I know vitamin D plays a big role, obviously helping with the immune, but that can also play a big role in helping with dopamine as well. Curcumin plays a big role as well and increases serotonin and dopamine levels in mice, which is very interesting. We’d already talked about tyrosine and phenyl. alanine, typically we use tyrosine over phenol, alanine, because it’s a little bit later on in that transition, that conversion, we may even use some l dopa, but I recommend don’t use l dopa, just if you’re an you know, just a regular person trying it out, it’s can be a little bit potent. And if you do too much of high dopamine precursors, especially l dopa, it’s so potent, you can feel incredibly spaced out and almost drunk. It’s, it’s pretty bad. Like you don’t want to be operating a vehicle. If you do too much dopamine, it’s you’re pretty disoriented, and loopy. I’ve done it a couple times by accident as I was dosing up. So it’s harder to do that with tyrosine support. But you know, all your B vitamins all your methyl donors B six, and B nine, which is full eight, or B 12, methylated. You know, B one, two, and three, I mean, riboflavin, niacin are all very important. We talked about the soul for how an important role that plays. And then you know, of course, your good curcumin and fish oil, they all have kind of a mono aiming oxidase inhibition. So mano a means or like, these are going to be things that help break down or model aiming inhibitors. They basically allow these neurotransmitters to hang out between the synapses longer so you have a presynaptic synapse, a postsynaptic. And this is the synaptic cleft where they kind of hang out. And anytime you can delay the breakdown of that, you’re going to increase the levels of that neurotransmitter between them. Now the problem is when you do drugs or SNR eyes, right serotonin or selective norepinephrine, reuptake inhibitors, right? You can get a short term bump, but the problem is, the longer you cause those brain chemicals to hang out there, the faster they break down. So you end up kind of robbing Peter to pay Paul, so to speak. So some of the natural compounds that help that can be better because it’s kind of more of a gentle nudge versus overdoing it and causing more of a problem.

Evan Brand: Yeah, so I want to hit on one thing. Now this is like low dopamine, we’re talking about not high dopamine. But one thing that we’ve seen clinically, I think may be important is the issue with clostridia and Clostridium being a bacteria that really messes up the enzyme. Yes, yeah, long, long word. It’s gonna make me sound smarter than I am. But it’s called dopamine, beta hydroxylase. That’s the enzyme that gets messed up with Clostridium. We’ve seen it so many times. And we see it a lot in kids. And we see it in kids that have behavioral issues. And so that would be a situation where testing comes in. Because you may look at a kid and they go, they’re they’re, you know, bouncing all over the place. They’re not focused. It actually could be a high dopamine situation. We’ve seen it many times, and you have to come in and fix those gut infections. You’ve got to come in and really address that clostridia first and then the brain chemistry will fix itself. So there are some situations We’re just assuming you have low dopamine throwing amino acids and somebody would not be a good strategy.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Correct. So when we’re looking at someone, and we’re trying to assess Is there a neurotransmitter component, we’re always kind of looking at the dietary component because if we don’t get nutrient dense foods with lots of good B vitamins and lots of full spectrum essential amino acids, especially from animal products, we’re gonna have problems if we’re not able to break those foods down. with adequate enzymes or HCl, we’re gonna have problems but we have a lot of adrenal stress or hormone imbalances that can play a big role. And hormones play a big role in helping to allow those neurotransmitters to work better in the Hangout longer between the synapses, okay, especially females, because progesterone and estrogen dominance can play a big role in that too. The other component is chronic infections can affect the absorption of a lot of these things and create bottlenecks. But we’ll also run organic acid test alongside to see how these metabolites look. So we may run things like [inaudible] or homovanillic, which gives us a window into homovanillic. dopamine and give us window to vandal Mandalay adrenaline. So if we have higher amounts of adrenaline, that means we’re pulling a lot of that dopamine to make it or if we have low amounts of adrenaline, that tells me that those pathways are probably been whipped like a tired horse for a long time. And now now that amounts low, probably because there’s some level of depletion upstream with dopamine. And same with dopamine. If we see low dopamine that tells us there’s depletion if there’s a chronic high dopamine metabolism. We’ve been whipping that tired horse and we kind of treat I treat dopamine, high and adrenaline high, like the same thing. You’re just over stimulating that pathway. And we got a comment down.

Evan Brand: Yeah, and I’ve seen it a lot in let’s talk about some of the people like when and where are we seeing this? I mean, technically could be anyone. Right? But I would say after having babies, so women will we’ll see, you know, depleted neuro transmitters after babies. I mean, you’re up all night, you know, you’re young, you’re stressed. You’re you’re breastfeeding middle of the night. So I would say new moms, we see this quite a lot. I think some of the whole postpartum depression. There’s a lot of mechanisms. Have we done a show on that, by the way? Maybe we should add that to the list. Have we done that?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: No, we should do that. Okay, cool.

Evan Brand: So we’ll have to hit that. But I think part of that goes into the neuro transmitters. I know there’s a big hormonal change, too. But I think new moms would be a big one, I would say business owners, CEOs, entrepreneurs, maybe pilots that are changing a lot of time zones, anybody working more than I’d say 40 to 50 hours a week. I mean, you see 60 70 hour work-week people, they’re going to be depleted, I would say, night shift workers, ER workers, doctors, nurses, you know, frontline health care workers, those people generally we’re seeing a lot of brain chemistry stuff. They’re just burning the candle at stress. What else? Am I missing? Anybody? Can you think of any other like big patient population group that will be affected by this?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I mean, I would just say, if you have an eating disorder as well, anorexia, chronic low calorie eating, all those things can be you know, a real thing. People talk about a lot of the benefits of fasting, but if you aren’t getting enough nutrition, that that benefit of fasting becomes anorexia pretty fast, right? Anorexia is basically just starvation, chronic low calorie, which low calorie equals low nutrition as well. And so if you’re chronically fasting, and you’re better leading to a chronic low calorie diet, that’s a problem too. So we have that component we got to keep an eye on so if we’re going to be doing fasting, well, you got to make sure it’s a punctuated fast. Or if you’re doing more intermittent fasting, you still have to make sure you’re getting enough nutrition during that compressed six to eight hour feeding window.

Evan Brand: Yep, that’s good advice. Yeah, the eating disorder. One is huge. And people might not even know they might not be, you know, had to be diagnosed. I mean, even this whole idea of orthorexia, right, where people are trying so hard to be healthy, we did a podcast on that. I think people will get into that by accident, they’re going to low carb, they’re going to low calorie. Maybe they’re having food reactions. So they’re limiting their diet, and then boom, by accident, like you said, the neurotransmitters get affected, then you’re, then you’re not motivated to get back on track. Right. So then, once you’re off track, then what happens? Well, maybe you go into too much sugar or too many cookies. I mean, you can, you know, there are effects. We’re not just talking the brain chemistry in a vacuum here, we’re talking how does this affect your life? Well, you know, getting things done, cleaning, organizing, taking care of your kids, getting your business done doing your taxes, I mean, just all the stuff you need to get done becomes so much harder if it if it’s requiring an extreme amount of effort to get things done. Consider cortisol, but also consider dopamine.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, you really want to like look at the whole picture. So I know we’re kind of really focused on dopamine today. So people listen to me would say, hey, I want to get my dopamine check. That may be a good call, but I recommend looking at everything looking at least the adrenals looking at maybe some of the organic acids, any gut issues at all definitely look at the gut. Remember, half of all gut issues may be things like energy or brain fog, or mood stuff. So people kind of have their gut connected to like bloating and diarrhea and constipation and acid reflux, that may not be the case. So I always tend to to recommend look at all three body systems, so you have a more holistic look. And we always want to go upstream at the underlying systems that may be out of balance. We also look at the underlying stressors that broke those systems down to begin with, whether it’s chronic exercise, chronic exercise can be people that are looking for that runner’s high that dopamine serotonin hit. And over time, they just that exercise is going to deplete it. It’s like a tired horse, the right amount of exercise not too much. cardio can be very supportive and can be a gentle stimulant, where you go over the top too much CrossFit, too much long distance aerobic that may actually cause a chronic depletion. So we got to, we got to hit it from both sides, we got to look at the underlying stressors, food sensitivities, gluten inadequate sleep, we can look at just over stress, maybe needing to add in things like meditation or visualization or appreciation or prayer, things like that to kind of help hit the gas pedal and help your body relax. Those are all very important too.

Evan Brand: Oh, yeah. Good call on the athletes. I forgot to mention that when I had a lady who was a runner. And she was a college student. And she was running, I want to say it was either three or five miles a day. And we looked at her brain chemistry, my God. I mean, it was one of the lowest dopamine and endorphin levels I’ve ever seen ever, except for a guy who was a real estate person who was doing cocaine. He was about the lowest brain chemistry I’ve ever seen. But this lady was a close second divorce. Yep. And man, I just told her, I just say, Look, just stop running. I know you don’t want to but stop. You’re addicted to it, but you’re tired. And we just got to run some gentle exercises. I told her go for a walk, go for a hike, lift some weights, but keep your heart rate relatively low. And on the retest her brain chemistry It was amazing. Now granted, we did do some supplementation, too. But yeah, so good call on the the over trainers. How about personal trainers do maybe they’re teaching people to movement? So they’re just like working out all day? I think those people could be at risk as well.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% Yep. 100%. So looking at everything here, we always want to get to the root cause. So we talked about some of the nutrients, right, we talked about, we talked about some of the testing that we have to look at here. We talked about the low hanging fruit, right healthy proteins, healthy fats, you know, more more vegetables than fruit and starch out of the gates. Now, if you know that you do better with more fruit and starch because you’re more leaner, you’re already at a good weight fine. People can overdo sugar and carbohydrates to increase dopamine levels too. So that sugar addiction, that’s real people talk about like, Oh, I, I’m an emotional eater. What does that mean? It’s too like, abstract for me. But what I hear is, Hey, I’m whipping that dopamine up. So I feel good and can manage the stress of my day, right? I’m trying to artificially get my dopamine levels up. And that’s not good. So people that are emotionally eating, you’re just trying to get that little whack and dopamine and that little whack of serotonin, which I get it in the short run that that may be okay for you. And that’s a clean piece of dark chocolate, something like that. But if you’re overdoing lots of carbohydrate and sugar, inflammatory foods, not good. We rather use a lot more of the nutrients and other things to kind of get it up. So I really want to get to the underlying cause physical chemical, emotional stress, look at the body systems, get some you know, you want to test not guess, use some of the natural supplements stay away from the bigger you know, l dopa stuff out of the gates work with the good functional medicine practitioner like myself or Evan, for Evan, for myself, we’ll put links down below and just start with the low hanging fruit. And if you want to dive in deeper, get some testing and start with the foundational things out of the gates. Evan, anything else you want to highlight?

Evan Brand: Yeah, great calls on all of it. Thanks for the website. So yeah, or Please reach out. And the good news is you can reverse this and you can change things relatively quick. I mean, we’re talking within just a few months you can have a significantly different profile in regards to your neurotransmitters so don’t give up. If you’re feeling depleted you don’t even have enough dopamine to click the subscribe button. Well, I hope this podcast gave you enough motivation to hit the subscribe button, share it and then if you need to reach out please do we’re here for you. We love helping people and there is always hope so hang in there.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: We appreciate it guys. Also, down below. There’s a little review link Click that review. Really appreciate it. And you guys have a phenomenal day. Take care Evan.

Evan Brand: Take care now.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Bye bye.


Audio Podcast:

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Autophagy: Anti-Aging, Self-Eating Cells!

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

The word “autophagy” comes from the Greek “auto-phagein” which means “self eating.” Autophagy is a normal process in which compromised cells are cleared away. Even a healthy person must undergo autophagy, it’s one of the body’s natural modes of detoxification. Cellular damage can happen as a result of normal metabolic processes, but the rate at which damage occurs can be increased by things like stress, electromagnetic radiation, and free radicals.

How Does Autophagy Work

“Self-eating cells” sounds scary, but it’s a good thing! By clearing out old, damaged cells, you make room for new cells that are young and healthy. Without autophagy, you would continue to accumulate dead, damaged, and oxidized cell parts which accelerate aging, neurodegenerative disease, and cancer.

Naomi Whittel, autophagy expert, uses the comparison of a kitchen. Imagine cooking dinner, then wiping the counter, throwing away the scraps, and putting the leftovers in the fridge. That is autophagy working correctly.

Now, imagine cooking dinner, and leaving the mess. Grimey counters, pile of dishes in the sink, and smelly food left out. In this scenario, the smell and mess will continue to build up to the point where you will get unwanted consequences such as mold and bugs. When autophagy is compromised, dead and damaged parts linger in the body, which also leads to unwanted consequences like disease.

Autophagy Benefits

Autophagy is being touted as one of the best anti-aging hacks. What exactly are the anti-aging benefits of autophagy? Read on to find out!

Click here to talk to a functional medicine doctor about taking back control of your health.

More Efficient Cellular Recycling

If you thought self-eating cells are weird: apoptosis is cell suicide! This programmed cell death can be useful for getting rid of seriously compromised cells, like those with disease, but in general apoptosis is much more wasteful than autophagy. Apoptosis also causes more inflammation and metabolic waste. Autophagy is a cleaner, more efficient way to keep cells healthy.

Virus Elimination

While a healthy immune system will turn off a virus making it dormant, it doesn’t actually get rid of them. The virus is still in your body and able to replicate. Cue autophagy, which is how your body can actually rid itself of the infected cells. If you’ve ever experienced nausea when sick with a virus, you know it’s hard to keep down anything (sometimes even water). This is your body’s way of inducing a fast–fasting sets autophagy into motion.

Additional autophagy benefits include:

  • Better skin, with less eczema, acne, and signs of aging.
  • Stronger and more resilient muscles.
  • Better brain function, including mood, memory, and mental processing.
  • Preventing neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Reducing inflammation.
  • Healthier gut; less chance of leaky gut syndrome.

How to Increase Autophagy


Fasting, whether for several days or intermittent fasting, is one of the most powerful ways you can call upon your body to stimulate autophagy. 

One or two days of fasting is enough to induce autophagy, though days four and five is when you will reach peak autophagy. A fast-mimicking diet, in which you consume between 800-1100 calories per day, can also induce autophagy.

Intermittent fasting has a ton of benefits:autophagy being one of them! By restricting your eating window to an 8 hour block (or less), you can maintain a healthy level of autophagy daily. A common intermittent fast is skipping breakfast.

A Ketogenic Diet

When we are eating a lot of carbs and sugar, our body is burning glucose for fuel, has sharp blood sugar spikes, and high insulin levels. By getting into ketosis, using fat for fuel, we stabilize our blood sugar, lower insulin, and start producing ketones. Mixing ketosis and intermittent fasting is a great combo: once you’re in ketosis, it’s easy to go longer between meals because you start burning stored fat for energy. Ketosis plus intermittent fasting is an excellent way to mimic fasting and induce autophagy.


Just like fasting, exercise is a ‘body stressor,’ but they are the good kind of stress! At least 30 minutes of exercise has been shown to induce autophagy. 


Autophagy and metabolism follow diurnal circadian rhythm–your body’s sleep-wake cycle. By getting good sleep, you boost autophagy. These days, people face a lot of sleep issues, like insomnia. It’s important to practice good sleep hygiene in order to prepare your body for bed time. Blue blocking glasses, turning off electronics, and keeping lighting low at night can all help your body prepare for bed time.


The literal translation of autophagy as ‘self-eating cell’ does not do justice to the importance of the body’s natural process of cleaning compromised parts. Everyone can boost their levels of autophagy, whether by getting into ketosis or partaking in fasting. The anti-aging benefits will keep you looking, feeling, and functioning young!

Is fasting right for YOU? Click here for a consult with a functional medicine doctor.


Overcoming Anxiety Naturally | Podcast #226

Surges of cortisol and adrenaline makes one emotionally stressed. They are gonna shut good blood flow to the body, especially to the brain, thus, causing stress. One bad result of it is the inability of the brain to make good decisions. What’s in it for anxiety? Find out more!

Today’s episode talks about mold and environmental stressors which creates histamine responses, creating mood issues, and ultimately, anxiety. Listen as Dr. J and Evan Brand discuss the important points to address these issues in a natural and functional medicine perspective. Continue for more! Stay tuned.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

In this episode, we cover:

00:40    Mold Issues, Blood Sugar and Anxiety

07:22    Fructose

09:45    Emotional Stress

12:22    Fatty Acids

14:14    Going Organic

26:24    Blood Sugar Level Optimization


Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey Evan, it’s Dr. J here in the house, how are you doing today?

Evan Brand: Hey man, good morning! We’re- we’re a bright and early today for this.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, we’re trying to get our podcast in earlier just to free at time in our schedules to get other things done, so I think it’s great. We’re gonna be trying to be uh chatting weekly at 8:AM CST, 9:00 AM Eastern Time. So I’m really excited to be here with you, it’s a phenomenal weekend, the weather- it’s this time of year it’s just absolutely amazing. How is it where you’re at?

Evan Brand: Oh, man, it’s been magical too, it rained for like 48 hours straight, and then, all the sudden, the clouds break up and the sun comes out and the birds are singing and the grass is green and it’s growing so fast now, so, I can’t complain.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s great man, excellent. Well today we talk about in our pre-show, we were texting yesterday or the weekend about doing a podcast on anxiety, and I think we can- we can just dive right in. So, off the bat, when it comes to anxiety, let’s just kinda touch upon your personal issue with the mold. So we’ve talked about mold and environmental stressors, potentially creating histamine responses, and then creating mood issues. Why don’t we go into your experience with the mold that the mycotoxins and your anxiety?

Evan Brand: Yeah, I- I had for the last 6 months to a year, I’ve had random little spurts where I was having heart palpitations, and some of that was related to my cavitations. I did that podcast with Dr. Stewart Nunnally my surgeon-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.

Evan Brand: -who cut me open and cleaned out-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: -all my 8 cavitations, but that was a huge source of heart palpitations. But after the heart palpitations disappeared, I still had some anxiety. I’d have these random blood pressure spikes, and I’d hit you up, and say, “Dude, what’s going on, my blood pressure, I don’t know”, and now I figured it out. It’s related to mycotoxins because what mold does when you’re exposed, if you’re living in a moldy house or uh apartment, or a condo, or you work in a moldy office, or you’re a librarian, and you’re working around moldy books, mycotoxins prevent nitric oxide production from working properly, and you need nitric oxide to help with your vasodilation. And so, you basically have a constriction of everything which is why my hands and feet have been so cold too is because, nitric oxide is getting blocked by mycotoxins, and so, when I take my detox supplements, whether it’s binders, or supplements like chlorella, I noticed my hands and my feet will warm up and then all the sudden, I’ll feel better, I’ll get more energy, my anxiety just disappears. So I can’t say that this is the only trigger. We do wanna talk about blood sugar and some of the diet pieces too. But I’ll tell you just personal-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.

Evan Brand: -experience, I’ve had all the adrenal stuff dialed in. I’ve had all the blood sugar stuff dialed in, and I still had anxiety issues, and it was all tied into mycotoxins.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: But it was better than if you didn’t have the- that stuff dialed in.

Evan Brand: Oh, yeah, if I- I mean, if I- if I was not taking daily adrenal supplements, and if I were skipping meals, or not eating enough fat, I would probably be a wreck.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, we kinda look at your history like these problems like, you have problems in the past, right, before you kinda got into this field. You had that dialed in, you were better, and then along came the mold mycotoxins stress years later, and then that kinda brought things back to a head again, is that true?

Evan Brand: It is, yeah, ’cause, when I was living in Austin and I was packing up-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: -moving back to Kentucky, I mean, we’re calling you like dude, “I’m having a anxiety attack, I can’t control it”, that was all adrenals.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: I mean, I was- I was literally working with clients on top of a cardboard box with my laptop, ready to pack up and drive 2000 miles across country. So that was more situational anxiety.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I remember that too, there was a lot of blood sugar issues too, I think you are going like 8 hours without eating, and I think we made a couple of blood sugar tweaks that helped a lot.

Evan Brand: Yeah, I was probably going like maybe 5 hours which is just too much for me. Now I can’t do that anymore. And so-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Also to remember the end of your day, I think there was just a big gap between when you had dinner when you went to bed. I think you were like eating at 5:00PM, going to bed like at 10:00 and then like not having your breakfast until like 10:00AM the next day.

Evan Brand: Yeah, it was a long time, and I was like 5 hours.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: You was like a 15, 16-hour gap. But you know, that kinda like an intermittent fasting kind of gap but, for some people, that could be a little bit of a blood sugar stressor because when we go and utilize gluconeogenesis, that’s cortisol dependent. We will forget the gluconeogenesis which is fine, it’s normal, but it’s cortisol dependent. And we don’t quite have enough cortisol or adrenals or a little bit taxed, we may not be able to enter into those processes, uhm, optimally. So that’s something that the he’s mind.

Evan Brand: And I did not have enough cortisol, I did my salivary adrenal-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes, I remember that, it was low.

Evan Brand: -it was very low. It wasn’t like completely burned out, I wouldn’t call it adrenal fatigue, but I was at the bottom end of the barrel there without being under the low end of the reference range. My cortisol sum was maybe like a 12, anything below a 10 is terrible and I was like a 12. So I was barely hanging in there with adrenals.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. So, kinda key things to think about, I want people listening to- to think about the underlying mechanism. What’s the mechanism of why you’re feeling the way you’re feeling? This is important because a lot of times, when you’re going to the conventional doctor, really, the underlying mechanism is not addressed. Typically, there’s the genetic predisposition, genetics like victimization-type of mindset where like we don’t know what it is, err- here the- here’s this drug. So people don’t really connect the dots to the cause, right? So we’re tryna trace everything upstream to the cause. So, if we look at the toxicity mechanism, there is this potential inflammation from the toxicity which then may create histamine, and that histamine can easily create issues with vasodilation by blocking uh nitric oxide, is that correct?

Evan Brand: Yup. So-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I wanna make sure I say it right, so I- I get it confused. There’s laughing gas which I think is nitrous oxi- nitrous oxide, and then nitric oxide is NO, NO, right?

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [Crosstalk]

Evan Brand: Yeah, nitrous. I believe the nitrous oxide, I believe that’s fully different, I’m just gonna type in nitrous oxide, versus nitric…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, one was- one was the laughing gas anesthetic, and then the other one, I think it’s NO.

Evan Brand: Yeah, NO and then I think it’s N- is it N2O, let’s see. Nitric oxide is NO, it’s not the same as nitrous oxide, N2O. Nitric oxide is one molecule of nitrogen, one molecule of nit- uh, oxygen. Nitrous, has 2 molecules of nitrogen and one of oxygen, that extra molecule changes the gas completely.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup, exactly. So, NO, we’re talking about, not the laughing gas, when you can go see your dentist, and you make a lot of this. And now, one other thing that decreases nitric oxide, NO, is gonna be fructose. Lot of fructose, lot of carbohydrate, this is the one of the major mechanisms behind high blood pressure and extra fructose, and extra sugar, primarily in the form of fructose, right? But that’s gonna decrease endothelial synthase or endothelial uhm, synthase which it helps open up. It’s the enzyme that help with nitric oxide stimulation. Nitric oxide opens up blood vessel. So imagine we’ve got this garden hoses on the side of our neck called our carotids, and these essential garden hoses, if constricted, decreases blood flow to the frontal cortex, which then decreases nutrition, decreases oxygenation, decreases the ability for us to calm down inflammation, and that can manifest itself in depression. And today’s podcast topic is gonna be anxiety. So, very easily there.

Evan Brand: Yeah, you could have anxiety just from drinking soda and eating pop tarts. I went over to my mother-in-law’s-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.

Evan Brand: -and she still has pop tarts in her pantry. I’m like-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh my God.

Evan Brand: -“What the heck is a pop tart?”, so I look at- you know, I ate that as a kid, so I look at-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: -the ingredient list, and there’s like 3 different types of corn syrup in there, it’s like-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh my God.

Evan Brand: -corn syrup- it’s like corn syrup solids which is guess what, that’s fructose, you’ve got high fructose corn syrup, so-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Right.

Evan Brand: -small fructose-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Evan Brand: -and then you got like uh another- another corn syrup added in there somewhere- somewhere. On- and then on top of that is, you’ve got enriched wheat and uh, there was some like BHT and bunch of other preservatives in, I mean, so people say, “Oh, well, I- I’m not drinking soda”, but if you’re eating pop tarts, that’s just as bad, you’re still getting high fructose corn syrup, I mean, high fructose corn syrups’ in every process thing ever. You go to the restaurant, you go get a grass fed burger, and you get sweet potato fries, well, then you do the standard ketchup on the table, that ketchup is high fructose corn syrup. So, then you’re in the same boat again.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I know. And then we don’t even talk it about. You know, the high fructose corn syrup primarily comes from corn, so it’s not organic, you’re getting glyphosate which is roundup residue. And then also there’s some that a lot of the processing of high fructose corn syrup conventionally, involves a mercury preservatives. Then there’s potential mercury exposure that you’re getting too. So you have mercury and around up, and then, uhm, then you have the inflammation by the de- by decreasing the uhm- the nnn- nitric oxide which vasodilates. So we have a couple of different mechanisms that are really throwing us downhill.

Evan Brand: Yeah, people are saying, “Okay, why are you on a tangent about ketchup and high fructose corn syrup? How does this relate to anxiety?”. Well, because it’s creating inflammation, and the inflammation makes your blood pressure go up. When your blood pressure goes up, you feel anxious. You can feel flush, you can feel-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.

Evan Brand: -like your throat is closing, you can feel chest tightness, you can get tremors-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.

Evan Brand: -or palpitations like, when your blood pressure is up, trust me, I’ve had different personal experience, it does not feel good to have high blood pressure. Even if-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly.

Evan Brand: – it’s just temporary.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly.

Evan Brand: Oh, you mentioned the- the life stress too, like the cortisol piece. So cortisol is a big issue with anxiety. You and I have tested thousands of people at this point, we’ve seen high cortisol and low cortisol, both can cause anxiety. So that’s why it’s important to test, not guest, because you may look at someone’s case history and it may sound like, “Oh, my God, this person…”-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: -“…gotta have high cortisol”. But then you test it, and they’re just flatlined.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. So, uhm, very-very important. So, if you look at the diet and lifestyle stressors, that’s a big component. Of course, emotional stress is gonna be a big one. What’s happening with emotional stress? Typically, we’re having surges of cortisol and adrenaline. Right? And of course, What’s adrenaline gonna do? Adrenaline does cause vasoconstriction, it tends to shut blood flow to the arms and legs to run, fight and flee. So it’s primarily going here for prehistoric survival mechanism, and it tends to be going away from the brain, because you need parasympathetic function to have good blood flow to the in- to the internal organs in the brain. So you’re gonna have less to the brain, and that’s part of the reason why when you’re stressed, and you have over sympathetic, over cortisol, over adrenaline, you tend to have a less blood flow to the brain, and that’s why people make uhm a lot of poor decisions when they’re stressed. There was- I was reading a study at one point when they talked about uh a lot of violent criminals in jail, that a lot of violent criminal episodes have been made where in a hypoglycemic state by the criminal. So-

Evan Brand: Wow.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -essentially with that, your frontal cortex has about, I think it’s like, 25 or 20 milliseconds to shut down and impulse. So like, you see someone like that walks by that like, really, bugs you, you’re- you kinda think, I wanna get them, well then your frontal cortex goes nope, not- not a good idea. So when you have that decreased frontal cortex activation, which could be decrease from cortisol and blood sugar and stress, then you’re gonna have that inability to not- to not uhm dampen down that impulse.

Evan Brand: Well think about, I mean, I just saw a video couple weeks ago of a prisoner who was like sitting in like a courtroom, and he goes up and he just like smacks the lady in the head. One of the ladies is like standing, like testifying, he goes up and smacks her in the head and then he immediately just sits down like he realizes, “Oh, my God, what did I just do?”.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I know.

Evan Brand: The prisoner diet, I mean, their diet is terrible.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh yeah, I mean, if we were really were interested in this society, uhm, rehabilitating prisoners uh, you’d start with nutrition. I mean, I would’ve go in there number 1, and involve cri- uh, I’d have criminals working on a farm, producing all their own foods, so society didn’t have to pay for it, number 1. And then number 2, get the nutrition up. It’s impossible to rehabilitate someone with very poor uh, brain function from amino acids or good healthy fats. They done studies before, I’ve- it was uh, in the food connection book, and they talked about adding omega 3’s in the prison. And then helping to decrease the violence rate in the cri- in the prisons like significantly. So-

Evan Brand: I’ve read that.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -fatty acids are very important for anxiety and mood and behavior function because number 1, your brain’s primarily fat. It’s 70% saturated fat and cholesterol. But omega 3 fatty acids are very anti-inflammatory. So if we have inflammation and going on in the brain, we have surges of cortisol, right, we have blood sugar fluctuations, we have our microglial cells in the brain are activated, these are our immune cells in the brain, they’re gonna be activated when inflammation is going on, whether it’s from foods or stress, and good omega 3 fatty acids, anti-inflammatory fats like omega 3s from DHEA and EPA, these are 20 and 22 carbon chain of fat- fatty acids are very anti-inflammatory.

Evan Brand: A lot of people are against fish or they just simply don’t do enough high-quality fish. So like in- we use triglyceride form fish oil-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.

Evan Brand: -we work with professional health care companies. So-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.

Evan Brand: -that’s a product that you may wanna have in your tool box if you don’t already. Don’t just go to ___[13:22] and buy their fish oil and assume that’s gonna be good enough, it’s not, they’re using ethyl ester form which is where they attach an alcohol molecule to the fish oil, your liver has to process that. If your products smells fishy, if you have fish burps, throw it away, rancid by with Justin’s product or by my product.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep.

Evan Brand: Because we wanna get you on a high-quality fish oil for your brain.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. And if you’re consuming fish 3 to 4 servings of fish a week is great, even if you’re pregnant, just really- just focus on high selenium to mercury ratio fish. So your wild Alaskan sockeye, your Cod, your haddock, your skipjack tuna, these are gonna have a higher amount of selenium to mercury, and that will help essentially uhm bind up any mercury that maybe there. And if you’re on a fence and you’re doing sushi, you can always do things like some activated charcoal, things like that, just to be on the safe side.

Evan Brand: Oh, by the way, I bought a TV for the first time in ten years.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, wow!

Evan Brand: And uh, it was because I wanted to watch the new documentary called “Our Planet”-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh yeah.

Evan Brand: -tune in Netflix with David Attenborough, and uh, I was looking at some, I mean, our ocean is basically screwed, but uh hopefully we can turn it around. But he was s- showing some of the Bluefin tuna which are like a- almost all the fisheries are being overfished and the whole ocean’s collapsing because we’re overfishing. They were talking about some of this tuna that could be 1000 pounds. It’s like no wonder they’re so toxic with mercury, they’re a thousand pounds.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, yeah, I agree. I hundred percent agree. But uhm, yeah, it’s really important stuff. I’m glad you found the other TV man, I mean, I don’t watch TV outside a couple of Netflix show, I mean, right now, I mean, I watch Game of Thrones last night, that was, man, that is my show right now. Love it.

Evan Brand: I- I’ve never checked it out. But I’ll have to, but people should watch that “Our Planet” because it is- you should watch it too, it’s amazing-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: -it really- it- it really says, “Hey look, like, we’ve got a lot of issues, there’s still some beautiful stuff left on planet Earth, but, we’ve really gotta turn things around and, I- I think with our podcast, we’re helping to turn things around from an ecological perspective because we’re encouraging people to get local meats and pastured meats, and we’re trying to turn away from the conventionally factory farmed animals which are creating a lot of damage to the water table and to the soil, and, you know, buying local beef. Because if you go to the grocery store now, you’re gonna see grass fed from Brazil, and they’re cutting down the rainforest in the Amazon to grow uh, soybean and also they raise cattle for grass fed beef. And so, you wanna make sure you’re not buying Brazilian grass fed beef, and you can get it locally, it’s so easy. And then also, with your palm oils. So like if you do snacks like plantains like I do, I love plantain chips or plantain strips. Make sure your palm oil is a certified palm oil, so it’s sustainable and you’re not cutting down the Orangutan, their forest in Indonesia, they’re critically endangered now because of us. Cutting down there, uh, you’ll see it too in the- in the documentary where they just clear cut native rainforest and they’ve replaced it with just a mono culture of palm, uh, palm trees that- that for the palm oil. And so, you know, even look at Doritos like you look at the- a back of a bag of Doritos, even Doritos are contributing to deforestation because the palm oil, it’s in there. It’s not sustainably certified.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right. So, I mean, what’s the solution is? Okay, ’cause, we need palms, so, or you cut it down just- just plant it as you cut it essentially?

Evan Brand: Well, the- the goal is just to have sustainable farm. And so, I don’t know exactly what the- I think it’s called RSPO, there’s a whole organization that goes in and certifies them, I don’t know if that means they’re helping to protect other land like if they buy a thousand acres, they only, you know, grow palm oil on half of it, I- I’m not sure of like what they’re doing, but I do know that when you see an RSPO certification, it’s gonna say, “Hey, this is a certified sustainable…”-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: “…source” of palm oil.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I’ve seen a lot of articles on these types of topics, they talk about, like the- the- the number 1 way you can fix a lot of these things, is you don’t rent these lands to corporations, you have the corporations buy it. Even the corporation buys the land they have a more- s- a stake in the land to keep it solvent so it can produce more product in the future, right? Whatever that there is, right? So, if you- if I buy a land to cut trees, I’m more likely to then replant all the trees so I have more trees to cut in the future. But if I’m just renting it, think about how you treat your car if you’re renting it versus it’s your car.

Evan Brand: Oh yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I’ve seen some articles on that type of uh, topic from a root cause perspective ’cause you treat things differently when you own it, when you have a stake in it.

Evan Brand: Absolutely. You hit a big pothole in the road, alright, “Oop, it’s a rental, so what?”.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s a rental- right, it’s the same thing when it- when you just have- I- I have logging rights for 10 years in this area. I’m just gonna wipe it clean, it’s not my property, I don’t have to worry about it, right?

Evan Brand: Yup.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s kind of a mindset. So, uh I think we start first by decreasing the pesticides in the environment, and the glyphosate, number 1, and then number 2, the mono-culture stops. And if you don’t have the conventional GMO crap and the high fructose corn syrup, that’s where all the corn, and the grain, and the GMOs are primarily coming from. So if you just go organic, you’re gonna totally support more local sustainable farming and it’s gonna be in this monoculture formats, putting tons of pesticides, tons of glyphosate, and that’s affecting runoff in our water too. And how does this connect back, well, it’s gonna connect back ’cause it’s a stressor, it’s- it’s inflammatory to the brain. And a lot of times the glyphosate and a lot of these pesticides can affect the brain as to the gut. Because what they can do is, if you look at Stephanie ___[18:40] at MIT it’s gonna decrease that brush border where you produce enzymes. It’s gonna make the gut more permeable and more leaky, and that leaky gut is gonna allow more stuff in your gut to get into your bloodstream like endotoxin which is lipopolysaccharide from bad bacteria, it’s gonna allow undigested food particles to get into that bloodstream, that’s gonna activate the immune system, that’s gonna create more gle- microglial activation in the brain which is gonna create cognitive issues, brain fog, mood related issues. So, anytime we look at the brain, whether it’s anxiety, which what we’re focusing on today. Any inflammation in the gut can then drive inflammation in the brain. Inflammation in the brain manifests in these mood-related issues.

Evan Brand: Yup. When I had- oh, and by the way, Vietnam banned glyphosate. So, good job Vietnam. Uh, I had major anxiety when I had gut infections, and so, my anxiety is much better, but then it was caused from another- another mechanism, right? So, fixing the gut was critical for me to fix my anxiety. Now we could- we probably should do a part 2 on this, ’cause, I mean, we could spend an hour just on omegas and probiotics and restoring gut health but-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Evan Brand: -we haven’t even got into talking about like, uhm, relora, and ashwagandha, and holy basil, and, uh, sensory deprivation tanks, and massage, and acupressure, and acupuncture, and essential oils, and, uh, gaba and- and pharma GABA and theanine and, and uh, lemon balm, and I mean there’s so much to cover with this anxiety conversation but, I’m glad that we disco- we- we discuss all of these major critical pieces first like restoring their- your brain health, making sure you’ve got good omegas, testing and fixing any cortisol issues, avoiding glyphosate so you’re not killing off your good bacteria and promoting bacterial overgrowth because if we just skip straight ahead to the magic pill like your theanine and your GABA, well then people aren’t gonna listen to the first part.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right. We wanna make sure the- the biochemistry and the underlying physiology makes sense. If you- if you- that makes sense, we can plug and play various supplements, various diet or lifestyle strategies to helping to affect the root cause.

Evan Brand: Yeah. So we’ll do a part 2. Let’s do a part 2 on anxiety later because I think that we can do a whole hour just on how you use specific remedies, like I’ve got a whole timing to adaptogens, like I may do, you know, ashwagandha more towards the evening to help kinda calm down and settle at night versus I may go holy basil  in the morning to stimulate. So there could be a full circadian rhythm to your supplementation as well.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. And of course, movement has a huge effect. Apparently, I think, mo- movement is gonna help because you’re producing various beta endorphin which has anti-depressant qualities to it. And beta endorphin is- is a 19 uhm amino acid compound. So there’s 19 amino acids that make up beta endorphin. So you need protein to make it, okay, uh number 1. So movement is gonna help with that. I think movement also helps with insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity. So it make yourselves more insulin-sensitive and helps kinda soak up extra blood sugar. So if you have these glycemia issues, it’s gonna help soak up that extra blood sugar that’s hangin’ around. And essen- essentially give you a bigger sponge, A.K.A. bigger muscles, especially if you’re doing more resistance training and integral training, it’s gonna give you bigger muscles to soak up extra blood sugar, as well which is helpful.

Evan Brand: That’s very cool.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Evan Brand: I’ve noticed, my blood sugar has been on the lower end like I was- I actually- my wife let me uh prick her finger to check her blood sugar which is good. We did like a grass fed steak, we did some steamed broccoli with butter, and then we did a big sweet potato. So we have the same exact meal, we ate it at the same exact time, and my blood sugar, within 45 minutes, we’ll call it 1 hour, after that-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Mm-hmm.

Evan Brand: -my blood sugar was already backed down to an 80 and hers was [crosstalk]- and hers was a hundred. So I thought, hon, now of course she’s pregnant, so maybe that has an effect [crosstalk], I thought, [crosstalk] blood sugar crashing too quick, how am I already back down to an 80 one hour later and all I had was, you know, I had a sweet potato. I thought for sure, it’d be above a hundred still.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and just could be that you’re really insulin-sensitive. And sometimes if you- if you do too much carbohydrate for you, a lot of low blood sugar issues is from too much insulin. So if you stimulate too much insulin from too much carbs, that can drop a but 80 I don’t think it’s that bad it. I would wanna see how 2 hours looked-

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -and 3 hours looked and to see if you kinda leveled out, and then how you felt too.

Evan Brand: Yeah, I- I feel kinda low at- at 80. Do you- do you track it all? What number you- you feel bad at ’cause I mean, on the conversation of anxiety, like if I get a bout of anxiety and I feel kinda shaky or irritable or nervous, uh, I’ll check my blood sugar and sometimes I’ll be at- maybe a 70, maybe mid-70s, I’ll start to feel weird at that level.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, it’s hard, right? Because what happens is, your faster your blood sugar goes down, the faster adrenaline and cortisol is there to pick it up. So if your blood sugar is like this, and it’s a slow arc-

Evan Brand: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -and we’d take a picture of it right here. That’s different than taking a picture of it right there when you eat too much carbs and it’s coming down like this. So the steeper the angle is, the worse for anxiety and mood. Because the steeper the angle, that means you’re crashing at a faster rate, which means there’s more likely that you’re gonna have adrenaline and cortisol lift you up. So the more it’s like this, then it’s kinda tangentially coming down, less chance of cortisol and adrenaline to pick it back up. But if it’s coming like this and you grab a snapshot there, then there’s more likely to be adrenaline and cortisol and you may feel that. So when people say, you know, hypoglycemia issues, you look in the Merck Manual. What does Merck say, oh well, you know, take some sugar pills all this crap, that doesn’t fix the root cause of how the hell you got there.

Evan Brand: That’s right.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: ‘Cause how you got there, we’re doing that exact same strategy, so what happens is, people that follow those kinds of conventional medical advice for nutrition, they’re on this perpetual blood sugar rollercoaster all the time almost.

Evan Brand: Yeah, the people that like travel with the glucose tablet you’re talking about, yeah, I’ll just eat some candy, let me eat some skittles, okay, my blood sugar is fine now, I had skittles.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. Does not fix any of the issues.

Evan Brand: And see, I don’t do that. I don’t- I don’t do any processed sugars per se, you know, I had like some blueberries with breakfast, uh, so, I’m just wondering-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [Crosstalk] what the heck is happening there? You already- you over- you overshoot your blood sugar from too much carbohydrates and refined sugar, so you have a really steep drop in your blood sugar, then it comes down, and then you’re like, “Oh, I’m gonna follow the conventional medicine advice”, and so you come back up again, and then you keep on doing these high and low peaks, and you keep on having the smooth it up with extra carbs and sugar, versus kinda come in there like this, where you’re sneaking along, versus falling off the cliff. Does that make sense?

Evan Brand: Oh, absolutely. It’s a much- it’s- it- it’s- people don’t understand, I mean, when we look at like you said, like violent crime in prisons, or we look at car wrecks, or we look at people shooting each other, or we look at any big situation happening where someone’s doing something stupid, I’d put a high amount of money on the fact that it’s probably someone who’s on a conventional American diet, with a crazy blood sugar pattern, and they’re hypoglycemic, you can’t think straight, trust me. My blood sugar is low, I had period where I was like a 58 or a 60, I couldn’t think straight. I mean-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Evan Brand: -you literally can’t think straight and make decisions. All you can think about is, “I gotta do something, I gotta eat something”.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. And, I’m doing some kinda hand gestations here to kinda symbolize what’s happening with the blood sugars. If anyone’s listening to this on the podcast, feel free and check below. You can access the video here too, so we’re- we’re live on YouTube as well as Facebook to see that.

Evan Brand: Well let’s- let’s wrap it up, but I do wanna go one- one for the question for you, and how would you recommend approaching that? So if you’re someone who, like me, you’re away from refined carbohydrates, except I will do some organic white rice, I will do some sweet potato, those are my starches of choice. Uh, so, in that situation, is it just more adrenal support for me, is it just staying low carb for my breakfast and lunch, and only doing the carbs at dinner like how would you say if I’m looking at glucose and I’m seeing that I’m going back down to like a mid-70’s or an 80, and I wanna hang out around maybe 90, ’cause I feel better there, how would you- how would you achieve that, is it possible to do that with just like fat and proteins?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, number 1, I think with- you’re a leaner dude, so I will first look at like what your activity levels are for the day. If you’re not super active physically, then I’d be focusing on more proteins and fats for- for your fuel source, and then, you know, work on timing more your carbs later in the day. There’s some data that carb backloading, doing carbs later in the day tends to be a little bit better. Again, there are other people- this is so controversial, but I mean, there’s been research on it, people in the backloading carb community kinda know that people tend to do better with carbs at night time, there’s some data where people take their carbohydrates and they put all at the back end of the day, and then while the control group does it throughout the day gradually, and there’s been better weight loss, patterns doing it, like that at night, so there is that benefit. So, I would do more of the carbs at night, and then I would keep more protein and fat as- as kinda your foundational base. Think of protein and fat as like logs in the fire, so if you have a good fire, the logs from the fire gonna keep that fire burning sustainably. The carbohydrates are gonna be like kindling your twigs, and the more refined the carbohydrate, or the more high- higher glycemic index it is, the more it’s like, it- it’s like gasoline or paper, right, it goes up faster. But if you have logs in that fire, that’s gonna keep that fire burning long and strong versus if you just do paper twigs and gasoline, you’re up and out. So, twigs and paper and gasoline is the, uhm, too much refined sugar, not enough protein, fat, and then you have this up and down swings of blood sugar. The logs in the fire are gonna be like the high-quality protein in fat, and then we have to dial in the carbohydrates according to your metabolic needs.

Evan Brand: I need to check it act, I mean, I like data, you and I both do. So, I need to just check- check and see… You- can my body take? Let’s say I do like a grass fed beef steak, right, and it’s like, let’s just make something up, you know, 15 grams of fat and 15 grams of protein.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Evan Brand: In theory, I should be able to take that beef steak and convert that over to glucose, even though it’s primarily fat and protein, correct?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I mean, you will be able to do with some of that for sure. I mean, your brain know it needs about 20 grams of glucose today. So you won’t get a- a ton-

Evan Brand: Okay.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -of glucose out of it, but yeah, you’ll get a little bit of glucose, via gluconeogenesis, and then you’re also gonna get more ketones, right? And people that have- they’re higher in ketosis, their blood sugar may go lower, but you gotta remember, their blood sugar can go little bit lower because they have more- other fuel substrates in the bloodstream called ketones. So, they may be able to go lower. Where some is jackin’ the blood sugar up and down, through a reactive hypoglycemia e- episode, right? Reactive is up, and then you’re reacting by going down fast. It’s a steeper angle of that blood sugar dropping. You’re gonna have less ketones there because you haven’t done the right things in your diet over a period of a couple days or weeks to get in the ketosis, where you have more ketones. Uhm, a- anytime you’re surging insulin, you’re gonna be not- you’re gonna be kicked out of ketosis, because you need lower insulin levels to be making ketones. High insulin blocks ketosis. So for keeping our blood sugar under control, and we’re kinda snaking along and not jacking our blood sugar up too high above a hundred or 110, 120, then we’ll have more ketones, and therefore your blood sugar could drop a little bit lower. But I even see some of this people that are really doing a lot of ketogenic diets then they even go a little bit too long, and I’ve seen people posting 50 and 60 for blood sugar range, that may be a little bit too low. But I mean, tested out, try and see you feel, see how you look, see how you perform and see if we can uhm, connect the dots there.

Evan Brand: That’s cool. So, maybe I find it at 70, if I have some ketones running in the background.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes. It gives more- it gives enough ketones in the background. I think that’s the key thing.

Evan Brand: Makes sense. Well, let’s do a part 2 on this later but we gotta wrap it up [crosstalk]-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [Crosstalk] it just depends, if your body needs more glucose because of what you’re doing, uh stress wise, then, you may have a cortisol surge to fill in the gap via gluconeogenesis. So-

Evan Brand: ‘Cause that’s the thing. So, if I’m at a 70, I feel like I’m getting low, you can feel that anxiety starting to creep in at a 70, it’s like well, do I go and eat something like an apple, which I know is gonna raise glucose, or do I go do a beef steak, or do I do a beef steak in an apple to get glucose up?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, O would probably do beefsteak in an apple.

Evan Brand: Do both.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I will probably do both.

Evan Brand: So you can stabilize it with the fat and the protein, but then you do have some actual glucose coming in at the same time.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. And to get- there’ll be fructose in there, but fructose is 55, 45 or 50, it’s close. So you- even though you get fructose in, you’re gonna get-

Evan Brand: But you don’t wanna do just the apple ’cause if you do just the apple, then you’re up and down again, depending on what type of the apple too. So that’s why we always talk about like putting almond butter, something else on there, coconut [crosstalk]-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Or you even do a Granny Smith which has- has- half the amount of sugar as well. But then you get some of the fiber too. So it’s less- you- you’re not gonna quite have that as much with lower glycemic fruit with full fiber, but yeah, you still- it’s good idea to always have the protein and fat along with it, for sure.

Evan Brand: I stay away from Pink Lady. I tested a Pink Lady apple; I went from like a 75 to like a hundred and thirty with the Pink Lady Apple. I mean, that thing is like just candy.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh yeah. [Crosstalk]. Yeah, exactly, that’s why- my- I primarily do Granny Smith, half the sugar and uhm, I’ll typically do it with some cinnamon on it and some almond butter.

Evan Brand: That’s delicious. Woooh!

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Love it. Well, hey, Evan, let’s wrap things up, we’ll be back next week and we’ll talk a little bit more, we maybe can expand upon this topic or even choose a- a new topic. So appreciate all you guys in the background with great questions. We’ll continue to expand on this conversation here in the weeks to come. Anything else Evan you wanna leave to listeners with?

Evan Brand: Yeah, people just reach out. If you need help, work on your blood sugar, stabilize it, but, you know, this stuff can get tricky. So if you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out, we can work with you around the world. Justin’s website is, my site is We look forward to helping y’all.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Thanks so much guys, you’d have a phenomenal day, we’ll talk soon. Take care Evan! Bye.

Evan Brand: Bye.


Functional Neurology Can Help Improve Your Brain – Dr. Jared Seigler | Podcast #215

Abilities can be strengthened based on recent patterns of activities. Just like riding a bike, one can help the brain remember an ability through practice until one actually masters it. This persistent strengthening is a fancy word called Long-Term-Potentiation (LTP). This is Functional Neurology!

In today’s podcast, Dr. Justin Marchegiani and his awesome guest, Dr. Jared Seigler goes in-depth on functional neurology. Watch as they tackle how it can improve the brain, diagnose and cure the underlying root cause of brain issues. Also, learn about the different assessments used by functional neurologists to examine the brain. Stay tuned for more and don’t forget to share. Sharing is caring!

Dr. Jared Seigler

In this episode, we cover:

02:05    Parietal Lobe and Cerebellum

03:46    Parasites can Cause Issues in the Brain

05:53    Functional Neurology Assessment

08:01    Flamingo Test

20:20    Root Cause of Brain Degradation

23:56    Glycemia and Blood Sugar Imbalance

31:20    Antisaccades Task


Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey there, it’s Dr. Justin Marchegiani, welcome back to the podcast. We have a phenomenal guest, Dr. Jared Seigler in the house. Dr. Jared is an amazing functional medicine doc and functional, uh, chiropractic neurologist specialist. He’s a phenomenal clinician, really dives in to a lot of uh difficult cases. And we’re gonna have a ___[00:22] conversation today on the functional medicine side, we’re gonna dive in on the functional neurology side, and hopefully give everyone some good pearl they can walk home with. Dr. Jared, welcome to today’s podcast.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Thanks for having me, Dr. Justin, it’s definitely an honor, man. Uh, I love your energy, I love what you’re doin’, and- I’m glad we can do this just to self-spread the word, you know?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I appreciate it brother. And you post a lot of great stuff on your Facebook page, and a lot of clinical functional medicine stuff. It’s just- it’s really great, it’s really good brain candy, I love it. And uhm- a lot of good clinical things which as a doctor, I’m able to learn from some of the stuff that you post, and I think, maybe, some patients could as well. Uhm, what are some of the big more recent type of case studies or success stories that you’re seeing in your office on the functional medicine side, recently?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Oh, man. Uh- let’s see if there was- and that’s where there’s such a big spectrum, you know, like uh- my dopamine definitely surges when I get a letter, an email from an alright patient, saying, you know, that today she says I don’t need to have the surgery anymore. Uh, like my foot can’t evert, I don’t need to have my ankle broken, stuff like that, uhm- so that’s always really fun but, actually it really gets me just like when I, maybe get uh- more of the functional neurology type of things, when my mom was telling me like, Timmy got invited to the birthday, or just- uhm- actually last week, there is a girl- uhm- I would say she’s 10, and she would have this uhm- kind of thing where whenever she would get nervous, she would pretend to be a cat. And she would-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Huh.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -do this in school, and, yeah, so of cour-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Interesting.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -yes, of course all the kids are teasing her ’cause she’ll like-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -hide and hiss at them and everything. And uhm- but then like, from a neurology perspective, you know, I’m talking to the mom and she’s like, “Yeah, she would bump in the stuff on her left side”, and I’m like, “That’s what’s called the parietal lobe”. Like, “Where is my arm?”, you know, “Can I feel this?”, and- and uhm- I was like, the left arm, is obviously right side responsible for that, and I was like, “That’s…” uh, “…self-perception too”. Like maybe when we think of example people with anorexia, we usually find a lot of- like parietal lobe, because their self-perception is altered. And so, we started doing therapy on this girl’s left arm and left leg, like vibration and the trampolines and things like that. And now she doesn’t pretend to be a cat in front of peers whenever she’s nervous.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Interesting. So, was that some kind of fight or flight mechanism that was just shutting down that left parietal lobe? What was happening there?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Uh, well, there was some uh- she had some parasites, she also have-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Uh-huh.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -some candida, and there was retained primitive reflexes too. So, there was a couple things going on that should have gone away, you know, as the brain develops, we get rid of like, you know, that rooting reflex-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -or that stuff ___[03:11] reflex, uhm, and those were still there. So we have the kind of integrate some of those, uhm- but for her, big part, the cerebellum, I say, you know when we think of maybe the cerebellum, everyone’s like, “Oh, balance”.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Balance is only 20% of what cerebellum does.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Wow.

Dr. Jared Seigler: The other 80% is balancing mood, it actually balances the immune system-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: I’ve seen people have like a right cerebellar, like brain injury, then they start developing autoimmunity like, whoa! ‘Cause the right cerebellum is usually like to breaks, they’re like, “Hey, let’s maybe not attack this”, and, you know-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -things like that.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes, that totally makes sense. So I wanna just be clear because you- you kinda- the reason why I like you so much is you really connecting lot of the functional medicine to the neurology. Will you see a lot of like, functional neurologists, they’re just lke, do this, been this, look at this, but they don’t- sometimes connect the gut or the inflammation or the hormones or the diet, and it seems like you have a good blend. I’m just curious though, you mentioned parasites. Does parasitic issues always cause parietal issues, or can it cause another issue in other parts of the brain?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Uhm, it can cause issues in other parts of the brain, but- so- kind of- if we get a little scientific, parasites use a thing called TH9 or Interleukin 9, and they start-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -manipulating that branch of the immune system. The tool of that part of the immune system is histamine.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Mmm…

Dr. Jared Seigler: Like I was told when I’m training docs, even talking to patients. Let’s say, histamine, glutamate or like VFF’s inside the-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Huh.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -brain. So now we’re foggy, and we’re anxious. And the problem with too much glutamate, if the pedals always to the middle, eventually that engine’s gonna start burning out-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Right. Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: [Laughs]. Yeah, so, we had the-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …depressing up the immune system, in- in a way is what you’re saying?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah. Uhm, so, the way I kind of think of functional medicine, I say think of that like taking a protein shake, a functional neurology is actually exercising. So, metabolically, we have fed the muscle, but we also have to actually put in to work, you know. So, we can’t just- I can’t drink protein shakes and just magickly like, balloon up to 200 lbs. with a six pack. I gotta go in gym.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That totally makes sense. So, let’s just say for a parasitic infections, could that potentially cause a cerebellar issue or frontal cortex issue, or is it typically go just to the- to the parietal part?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Uhm it can kind of be anywhere, it’s what’s called the triangulation theory. So, say maybe-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -someone’s genetically susceptible to like one part of their brain, like, “Oh, I’m on ___[05:36]”.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Well, now we have like, maybe with the parasite like a global deficit. So, maybe that right parietal lobe was already a little low, and now, everything’s are up slower, and in relation, the right parietal lobe might drop even lower than everything else, so that’s kind of where we might notice it first.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Very cool. So, When we’re doing a functional neurological workup, which I’d love you to just, you know, we could- we’re- and then started up people listening, this is also on video too, so you make sure you click on the link below, and go to the YouTube channel and watch this live assessment, I’m in at Dr. Jared, assess me, so I’d like you to just- to kinda walk me, or just, you know, walk me to a typical assessment that you would have your patients do, and also just for listeners, Dr. Jared’s one of the only functional neuro, uh practitioners that does a lot of these assessments, uh, over internet and virtual which is really awesome. Say you don’t have to travel a large distance, spend lots of money travelling. So, he be a great person to reach out to. So, when you’re doing these assessments, what are the key areas you’re looking at? Is it just the cortex, the cerebellum, and then the vestibular, or is it- do you break it down further?

Dr. Jared Seigler: We break it down a lot further, we usually actually have people fill out a hundred questionnaire…

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Wow.

Dr. Jared Seigler: …uhm, it’s only a hundred questions, so not that bad. But then that gives me a sense of like, okay, I’ll relooking’ at pre-frontal cortex, you know, does the kid hit people, do they have attention issues, can they not make decisions, or they poorly planning, uhm, or maybe, is it like cerebellar, like, oh they walk funny or they can’t dial in, s- or- the vestibular system  for example is typically if they’re like, uh, PTST anxiety like I can’t go in a crowded place, I get super nervous like, alright, let’s maybe think of it as a vestibular amnesia and instead of like, “Oh, here’s your Xanax” or something like that. Uhm, so you’re kind of catching me on the fly where usually I have an idea like, “Alright, this is where it’s gonna be”, but I usually start to- uh, think of the brain stem, and the cerebellum first, ’cause those usually the repair shot-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Got it.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -for the rest of the brain.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, right back in here deeper, right?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: The big spot we’re lookin’ at- and so- up- I- when we look at the brainstem, we’re just looking at it globally, there’s not a right or left of that, correct section?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Uh, it can be like right now, like, when I look at your face, some looking for our- maybe do you have one eye higher than the other-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -do you like to turn out of the side, you know, is maybe someone’s spaced like a functional deaf, is it like, they only talk out a one side of their mouth, it’s usually not like someone comes in with the stroke, and they’d just like this. Like that’s-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -pretty obvious.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: And we’re looking for like, “Hey this person, they don’t really smile out of the right side”, you know, and it’s the lower half of the face. Let’s start thinking, maybe cranial nerve 5 or something like that, versus, you know, is it the whole face, so we’re thinking of the motor stroop, and- but anyway, it’s usually one of the easiest things to assess this balance. So let’s say most people think they’re good at balancing, that the true way to determine it, I call the flamingo test. Oh, like- like I’m standing on my left leg, and when I think I have my balance, then I close my eyes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Powerful man-

Dr. Jared Seigler: A little harder-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: [Laughs].

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Because you- you lose the- the visual input, for balance, so you-

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -you’re going totally off of the proprioceptors in the ankles essentialy, right?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah. So now, it’s your cerebellum versus- vision is about 80% of balance. So the brain-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 80%.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -so the brain’s good at- yeah- the brain’s good at giving a lot of illusions, you know, it can cover for itself, like, “Oh…”-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -“…it’s only a problem if you tease it out”. So well as wanna look for a comparison, now we can try the right leg.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [Pauses]. I’m doing okay, I’m a little shaky, there, there, a little- ugh- there, lost it.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Well, which- uh- it looks like the right’s a little harder for you than the left.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It may be, it may be. Sure.

Dr. Jared Seigler: So- so there’s maybe a couple ways, so now we think, okay, maybe right cerebellum is the lesion, or the area we’re lookin’ at. And then-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: When you say lesion, just to be clear, like lesion just made this- that area that’s maybe not up to snap all the way, essentially.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah, it’s not like you have a like meningioma or-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -tumor, anything like that, yeah. Ah, we definitely don’t wanna just like, oh, let’s spin and look, and- ignore like-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Yes.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -a very bad process going on.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Uhm, now we’re thinking, okay, what are the crossroads that feed into that, you know? Is it more of the spinal cerebellum? So then we might wanna try some poor activation like some dead bugs, sometimes we can do some eye movements, so I’ll just have people like follow their thumb, you know, I say like, “Pretend I’m a cop and now we think you might have been drinking”. So we’re looking for those smooth pursuits and things like that… so you have the tendency to try to keep it a little bit closer in on your left side. So, but that’s okay. Uh, [laughs]. So, that’s alright, so now, some things- so we can think of maybe eye movements, the vestibular system feeds into it, so does the puns. So, maybe some things simple we can do, and start gently rubbing the right side of your face. This is what’s called cranial nerve 5, it’s a lot of facial sensation-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: And only think of the brainstem, those are cranial nerves. Eye movements, kind of the step to keep us alive, like, “Hey, where can I put food in my mouth when chew that food-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: That’s all crania nerve 5. Yup.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Number 5, got it.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yep, so, ’cause when you’re a baby in your mama’s belly, the pons and the cerebellum are actually the same tissue, one goes forward, to become part of the brain stem, and one comes back to become the cerebellum. So we wanna try to think, where’s the crossroads, what’s some of the way to activate that right cerebellum through what’s called ___[11:08] neuronal cooling, what fires into that region. So now that we’d maybe been doing that for a little bit, now we play what I call the game. Let’s see if you can stand better on your right leg after doing not, or not. [Pauses].

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Definitely better.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Still not maybe a statue but see that’s… functional neurology-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -and that’s the beauty of it to me, like dude, you just surged my dopamine. That’s why I love it ’cause the brain can change like that.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s very cool.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah, neuroplasticity happened real-time you know, maybe versus like, oh, we’d think of a CRP for a lupus patient, that can take a while for them to maybe quit eating this, and kill this and that, now we start to see them really going in the better direction, maybe over the course of a few weeks and things. But we know, okay, that’s your therapy. I used to be a strength coach or kind of a personal trainer that actually knows what they’re doing.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [Laughs] Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: So that’s where I’d say and then they’ll start building a list of extra sizes like, okay we’ve- we’ve found a way to fire into your right cerebellum, now maybe if that parietal lobe is an issue or the vestibular senses an issue like I feel like I’m spinning or I get nervous, or I don’t like loud stuff in my ears, like I see a lot of autistic kids, and they’re usually like, you know, they don’t like that.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: So then we might think, okay, is there maybe head movements. We can do where specific eye movements. Uhm, we just make this thing like games, you know. So, now you have an exercise. Literally I just tell people, “Guess what we’re gonna do?”, like it’s a- it’s that simple.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s it, that’s very cool. So, let’s just make- I wanna make sure we take king of people through the general, like, you know, areas that we can look at. So, we have obviously the cortex in the front, right – right or left.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And what were some of the big things that you would see come up at- on- on that questionnaire that you mentioned?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Uh-huh.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: If there were deficits in those areas?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah, so usually, like uh- trouble with mood regulation-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -uhm- a lot of ADD type stuff, you know the old guy that just says run appropriate things?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Prefrontal cortex is totally shut off, like he, so that’s more like uh- you know, I- I do have kind of a sympathy when maybe someone’s on the sten and tryin’ to know like I couldn’t not steal that purse, I think they’re absolutely right. ‘Cause that part of the brain may know to themselves like I shouldn’t do this, but the part of the brain that says “Don’t still the purse”, totally off. Uhm- and so, we start to think about maybe different parts of the prefrontal cortex, orbital frontal, these are maybe people that are more violent, they might have urinary issues too, so they’re like hit they’re head and now they have bile and bladder incontinence-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -or we may have more of the Dorsolateral, they can’t plan, these are the patients, sort of family members they’re- they’re always late, they- they can’t prioritize things, they’re like, “Man, we- you- you can’t adult”, you know, type thing. Uhm-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Interesting.

Dr. Jared Seigler: We have motor issues too or maybe people that are like, yeah, you start working out and my right side gets way tirer that are than my left. So then we start to think, well maybe it’s the cerebral cortex imbalance, too. And you know, in this left side is more math and this right side is more creativity. So, back to maybe on autistic kid, you have this huge hemisphere imbalance. They’re not dumb or anything like that, I don’t know another way to phrase it, they’re just not good at that social context, I can’t read non-verbal cues, I can’t get the joke, I can’t make eye contact, but then you give ’em math or some science, they’re better than like 99% of the rest of people out there. Uhm, you look for a lot of eye movements too, so like, for example the right cortex pushes the eyes to the left –

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -and the left cortex pushes the eyes to the right. So just have people “boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom”. And then you can start to see, one seidel start to slow down… So, and then you can literally- and I’ll ask people, “Hey which side was it starting to get harder to look at?”, see like whenever you are trying to go from the left thumb over to the right thumb, you have a tendency to raise your left eyebrow, so we’re starting to think you’re doing what’s called spreading your math. You’re trying to compensate for lack of one area, it calls in collateral neurons like, “Hey I can’s do this” so, these bodies over here need to help me. So, maybe I’ll start moving my head or moving my jaw, you’ll like see people like-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Okay.

Dr. Jared Seigler: You’re gonna feel like- no, just your eyes. [Laughs].

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I was feeling it a little bit harder to look over here, so that would- that would correlate with that right cortex then, correct? Is it right?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: To the left?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yup, so then whenever we maybe wanna do a therapy on somebody, like uhm- then we might like keep that in there right- or in their left visual field. So that way we’re over here more, so if it’s like an Alzheimer’s patient for example, and they’re like, “Yeah, I have trouble remembering the face, but I can remember the name”. This is more of a face, we’ll have them look at faces over here, on that side so we start kind of triangulating through different things like, “Look at this picture”, maybe we’ll have purple in the background and just more of the light brain type of color than maybe a red or yellow. So, once you know kind of how to play the game, it really does kind of become very simple, very neat. Uhm, so, we’ll start with the cortex and there’s different regions there, then we have you know, back to like-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Okay, we’re talking right here, this is the upper part of the brain, and of course, the frontal is like kind of what makes us, us, right? So that’s-

Dr. Jared Seigler: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -that’s the cortex, and then go ahead, what’s the next one?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yup, and then we’ll usually start to look at the motor strips, you know, ‘can someone move, or they coordinate and things like that, and then we’ll look at sensory strips which now are getting end of the parietal lobe. The parietal lobe, uhm… is also like left-right discrimination, that’s more of the inferior part down through here-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: So, like, one girl, she was uhm at a business function and this guy was trying to impress people like, “Oh, I used to be a tumbl- or whatever in high school, I used to flip the girls in gymnastics and cheerleading”. So, of course she does that and she hits, boom, right here on the back of her left parietal interior lobe. She’s like, “I wake up and the whole bar is looking at me.”, that’s how loud the thump was. And she’s like, “I can’t tell my left from my right anymore”. So then they’re like, “Oh, there it is”, so- you know, maybe versus uhm, you know, can I do math in their head, can they- uhm- so then we’ll start think parietal lobe, then there’s like the vestibular system, there’s the temporal lobe. Uh, the temporal lobe does a lot of regulation of things too. Like for example whenever we look at violent offenders, and maybe people that have been through a lot of PTSD and things, they usually have a right temporal lobe deficit. They can’t regulate- uhm- motions anymore. We start to look at the vestibular system too, that one’s really big ’cause most people think of dizziness is the main complaint or the vestibular system. But that’s actually anxiety. Anxiety is the number one issue. Uhm- because of the- the vestibular system suppress this what’s called your limbic response. And that’s a lot of the negative emotions correlated with survival, “Am I afraid of something, am I angry about something”. So, when I see people with all these limbic responses I think, “Oh, man, we really got to look at their brain, they’re just set off like that. Uhm, [laughs] that’s a whole another conversation though. Uhm, yeah, we start to think about that, uhm- the brainstem to me is huge too, because like when we think about maybe something like the basal ganglia, that’s kind of like this- we have two like mohawks that run along each side of the brain, and there’s a couple different pathways of the basal ganglia, one of it is “Do this motion”, like shake someone’s hand, but don’t just shake- don’t just push your hand out there so hard, you know, punching them in the face. So then there’s- that’s what’s called the direct us- that do, do this. And then there’s the “Don’t do this”, the indirect, so that shades a little bit off what we say. So, that way I’m talking to you, I’m not screening at you.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Mmm.

Dr. Jared Seigler: So, usually think of the basal ganglia with Parkinson’s, you know, ’cause this is like, “I don’t want my hand to shake tight thing”.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah, so-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: So, basal ganglia’s fed by a part of the brainstem called the mesencephalon. So, and that’s fed by a lot of eye movements, and this would be the people with the masked face, so back-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -to like, we’ll have them do ___[19:28].

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [Crosstalk].

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yup, so we’ll actually have them maybe do like, uhm- like reflexively move their eyes, ’cause you ask them to look up, they can’t, they can’t look their eyes up, so they- they’ll have to look up, yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Then we’ll have them reflexively like make their eyes bounce up to what’s called OPK, their Optokinetics.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Kind of like- [crosstalk]-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …right? Like the-

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Little red white and strips and you pull ’em up and you have ’em follow their eyes and- as you go it through it, right?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yup, yup. So, I just say, think of it like you’re driving by a picket fence, your body- your eyes automatically-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -trying to find a new target, and you’re just like, “Ting…”-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -“…ding, ding, ding”. Yup, so, uhm- reflexes are always stronger than thinking about doing it. So if somebody can’t volitionally do something, we’ll just go a step deeper, and we’ll just hit it within it with reflex. Uhm, so-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, with a lot of this neurological issues like what do you see is the root cause? I mean, let’s just like take out like, alright, a car accident or a physical trauma, right? Uhm, I mean, it- it- is a lot of it more autoimmune, is a lot of it is a functional medicine, which I- autoimmune is the functional medicine gut, nutrition, inflammation, gluten, is it all of that? So, I’m just trying to look at- okay, if I do this eye things, how is that root cause outside of the- you know, its stimulation-

Dr. Jared Seigler: -Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -to the part of the brain which may help it grow and, you get bigger like you said muscles for, you know, exercise for your muscles, the protein is the metabolic, what’s the root cause and- and- can- can you break that down?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah. Uhm all things being equal, so uh- one of my favorite mentors is Dr. ___[21:03], and he’s what’s part of what’s called the ___[21:05] project. Well there’s only like 4- I believe 4 uhm, kind of ways that they can actually measure the brain’s function real-time in the entire planet. And I asked them the same question, ‘”What’s usually degrading people’s brains?”. Without hesitation he said stress and negative relationships. He didn’t talk about food, I mean, don’t get me wrong, that’s looks bad, this glycemia, like-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -we’re- if we’re gonna develop Alzheimer’s, we’re doing it right now.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: ‘Cause it takes 60 years for the brain breakdown enough to where now I don’t know who I’m talking to, and then like, “I forgot to put pants on”, type thing.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Stress will always do it, and stress can come in many forms: toxins, like glyphosate, metals, which run rampant, and- blood sugar imbalances, people getting shaky, between meals, people getting tired between meals, huge, huge problem. And I’m glad you brought up autoimmunity, what Dr. ___[22:01] found, you know, big nerves, and you know, I just-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah?

Dr. Jared Seigler: 98% of people have auto or soft antibodies to bring tissue. It only really becomes a problem when that blood brain barrier is broken.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Mmm…

Dr. Jared Seigler: So now, basically, walking around with neuro autoimmunity, we just don’t know it, like I see a ton of POTS people. Like it’s a ___[22:22], it’s everywhere now.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Uhm, and there is a reason for that. That’s an autoimmune disease. So, now the brain can’t regulate the heart rate when someone’s stands up, or they go shopping, and they just “Boom”-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -pass out, hit their head. Uhm, so, from a root cause analysis we see a lot of things stemming from the gut, obviously infections, like Parkinson’s, we know now that those toxins will walk their way up the vagal nerve into the brain stem.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Smelling a lot of bad stuff too. Uh, blood sugar issues, chemicals and foods, uh, Wi-Fi, is actually extremely problematic like we see a lot of molds degrading the brain, like at an alarming rate actually. Uh, what they did, uh- with- a- all neurological antibodies to the brain, here was like, “Okay, here is the autoimmunity before. Let’s expose them, sky rocketed it it”. The amount of how the immune system started to attack the brain is just crazy high after that. Uhm-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, very interesting.

Dr. Jared Seigler: But, yeah- so that’s where when the we course, we do and to take that functional medicine approach. ‘Cause back to like, you know, you stroking the side of your face-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -to stand better, it feels like drinking alcohol every night to cope with the poor relationship. Who gives a crap about stroking a side of your face, you can stand better-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yes. Seriously, big issues-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -going on.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah, so- I’m from Oklahoma, we would call it “Farting in a tornado”, you ain’t gonna do a lot.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah [laughs] that totally makes sense, yeah, exactly. I- Boston we’re on from they call a “Pissing in the winds”. So, I- I- I totally [giggles]- I totally-

Dr. Jared Seigler: [Crosstalk]

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Which is what you were saying then.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: They’ll do what you’re saying then. Also, you said- mentioned a couple things about this glycemia and blood sugar imbalance which I think are really important. But there’s also a lot of stuff out there which I posted a lot of content on it too on intermittent fasting being so beneficial. So if you had this glycemia and you started be de-porpriating more intermittent fasting, could that exacerbate these per- these person’s symptoms more?

Dr. Jared Seigler: It can. Uhm- I’m after big thing called metabolic flexibility. I know everyone uh- and ketosis can totally be good. We utilize that dietary tool-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -all the time. But if somebody can’t miss a meal, and we’re like, “Hey, you’re gonna go 16 hours without eating”, their cortisol’s gonna shoot up sky high, they’re gonna start degrading the brain even faster.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: So, usually we’ll have to get them to the point the can miss a meal.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right. It’s kinda like, someone that can barely walk and you’re like, “Yeah I want you to go run a marathon right now”, that’s the equivalent of like an intermittent fasting episodes, essentially.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Basically, yeah. So, we’ll get them to the point like, “Hey I was able to- you know, ___[24:54] once a little that day doc, and I did it like snap, get back in the office, I think good”. Now we can-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -Get better.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -to utilize different tools, yeah. So we obviously, you know, you work with a lot of patients too. We have to do the right thing at the right time. ‘Cause, what we don’t wanna do is push someone so fast, we push them over.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right. So, you want your body to be more metabolically flexible, but it may take a few months, nutrients, some things, some- you know, redu- reduction of stress, cortisol, those kind of things to get you to that point where you could start to move in that direction essentially.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And it’s interesting, ’cause you see a lot of people that aren’t practitioners and- and they kinda have this panacea approach, where this thing has to be it, and if you can’t do it, you’re doing it wrong. And I think as a clinician, we can look at it and just say, “Well, no, it’s just… you’re here, you’re telling me we gotta get to the heart. And if I can’t make that jump all at once, then, you know, there’s probably some baby steps we have to make in between to get you there, to test pad. Does that make sense?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s where uhm- the internet can be a double-edged sword, because what worked for you probably won’t work for me.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Even though we’re both white boys, even though-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [Laughs]

Dr. Jared Seigler: -we look different on the outside-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: – we’re more than a hundred times different on the inside, I can guarantee it.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: So, that’s where, you know, when something works for one person, they usually extrapolate that and think, “Okay, well, this worked for me, now it’ll work for everybody”.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: And- uhm- you know, we’ve obviously seen that’s not the case. You know, ’cause 2 people may be trying to do the same thing, even though they’re maybe have the same label, like all old-timers. And one person gets better but the other person- they just start degrading faster and faster and faster.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes. I had a patient just before I got on the phone with you here, where d- we started this person on kind if like a ketogenic paleo template for the fisrt couple of months to care, he’s really well, really good improvements in- in acid reflux, I mean he hit some parasites and some other issues, we cleaned that up, but then there was a pointy kinda hit the wall, and the sleep wasn’t get enough much better, he’s- he’s about 50% better, and- and then we just started adding a little bit more carbs in at night time. And-

Dr. Jared Seigler: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -magically a sleep started to improve and he can sleep throughout the night. So, there’s some- like metabolic shifting that happens where what works maybe in the beginning of care may have to be tweaked as you continue to progress your care.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah. I always do try to think about like when we think of a ketogenic paleo type thing, I don’t know about you, but if I happen to stumble across like a peach tree, I’m gonna eat a ton of peaches.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [Laughs] yeah. Exactly.

Dr. Jared Seigler: That’s where- yeah, that’s where I think carbs cycling usually works better-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -than maybe straight ketosis. The only way I’ve seen ketosis work in long term is if people are just dumping ketones down the hatch. They have-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yes

Dr. Jared Seigler: -to supplement, they’re never gonna make it, especially women. Uhm- that’s where I think of that metabolic flexibility, our body was designed to use protein as energy, use carbs as energy, use fat as energy-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -use nothing for energy if just suck at hunting and gathering, and we didn’t get anything that day-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right, right. Exactly-

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -that makes a lot of sense. You gave me some great-great knowledge bombs here. Just to give people uh- you know. general overview of what you do on the functional neuro side. Is there anything else you can do just to make quick at home assessment on me, that maybe someone can look at in themselves and then, maybe apply in exercises too. Is there anything else we can do here as a work through?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah, uhm- one other thing, so with the premise of functional neurology, it’s basically do what you suck at.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: That’s kind of one of the general rule of thumbs. And maybe if like back to balancing, it might be hard to try to sit there and keep balancing and balancing, and balancing, but you’ve gotta try, ’cause if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. So that’s where like-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So it’s essentially- I should be trying to do, like stance like this during the day with my eyes closed-

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -with one each side essentially.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah, kind of. And since we’re thinking about the cerebellum, we’re thinking about the foot, like if you’re to get on like a rebounder or something-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -then I’d say like, get a vibration sense, like maybe have your wife just start tapping it by your foot, “babababababa”.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: And that’s sending a ton of proprioceptive input-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -to that regions. See how you kind of lost it?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yup.

Dr. Jared Seigler: So that’s where I would say it’s kind of like riding a bike, you gotta keep practicing, and practicing, and practicing, until you can-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -do it, and go 30 years without riding a bike and still remember. That fancy word is called long-term potentiation.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Meaning-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Totally.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -that those connections of stuck around, and now we don’t have to maybe keep rubbing the side of our face. So, something that you could do for example, to be- after you stop rubbing the side of your face, that’s when I would say, now you wanna do your balance exercises ’cause we’ve activated that part of the brain, so now we wanna re-map it through that proprioceptive input. We can do that through vibrations like a hundred and twenty eight hertz tuning fork, I know you still got it from school-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh yeah. It’s hiding here.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -I’d take the best 8 dollars for functional neurology ever. Oh, my gosh, I’d tell- I’d even tell people like “Just go buy this, it’s on Amazon for like 8 bucks”. Like my chronic migraine, TMJ people would start [mimics tuning fork buzz] and, putting that on different places on their body and maybe put them through an active range of motion, they love it, they can’t get enough.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Very good, yeah, I’m excited, I wanna do your functional neurology course even though this one’s meant more for patients. I know you said you will be coming out with the doctors one at some point. I’m giving you a little- little push there to do that ’cause I’m excited for that. But yes, sign me up for your patient course and I’m gonna- definitely get this out to my listeners and this is I think really invaluable information. Is there anything else we can apply right now to me that we can also- that listeners can look at? So- so you said like, okay, this stuff, like the one leg stuff, I get that, like-

Dr. Jared Seigler: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -stroking of the face, and you were able to assess that off of which leg, what I couldn’t

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yup.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -balance out off of, and then also we did the eye thing, and it was like which one do you feel like is the harder-

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yup. So, for example if you have trouble looking off to the left, maybe you can start it midline and just go little bit, you know, like, you’re not gonna bench press 300 lbs. the first time you go in, you gotta work up to it. So, say, maybe we’ll go here, and then as you get better, we can go here, then as you get better, we can go here, and then keep going. And so you reach what’s called fatigability. You start to notice like man, I’m raising my eyebrow and trying to move my head instead of move my eyes, it’s like a set of bench press: stop, rest, wait for the next set, you gotta save it ’cause if you start doing it wrong, you just gotta call in those quilateral neurons that you were already trying to [crosstalk].

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …the jaw, your eyebrow, right, tho- some of these muscles here, right?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: ___[31:19].

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah, and then, uhm- kind of the big thing for the people that have inhibition control, we call them Antisaccades. So that’s where someone holds their thumbs up, we’d say look at the thumb that doesn’t move. So, I’ll have people like, look at my nose, and then-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -I’ll say look at the thumb that doesn’t move. And then ugh, see you looked at the one that moves.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh yeah, yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: So you have to say don’t look at that- that-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -don’t- halfway is, don’t steal the purse, don’t hit the Timmy, don’t do this. So we’ll end- like- we’ll see this on a ton of ADD kids. Ad, I like- I can see them, they’re practically sweating trying to not look at the thumb that moved.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: So, yeah. So, that’s where we’ll provide a stimulus like uhm- red light, green light is a good game and you’ll have them focus on the red light like teach that brain how to make them stop. And then to focus back on the ADHD, ’cause I know we only have a little bit of more time, we wanna have them count to 5. Say they look at the thumb that doesn’t move, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ’cause you tell your brains stem, “Actually look at that, really focus. Don’t just look at it bounce around”. ‘Cause if you noticed me talk to people, their eyes are usually all over the place. They can’t even focus one stimulus for that long at all. How can we expect them to focus on math, or longer than that?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I understand. So, if I like don’t have your assessment yet, right? And I’m like, “Hey I want it even better more neurologically” like, what are those top 3 things, is it literally the ankle stuff, is it going back and forth with the eyes, is like- w-

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -what are those little things that can do it and how long? How long does a ___[32:50]  look? 10 seconds, 30 seconds, and then how much of it rest?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah it can depend for that fatigability like if people can only maybe do like 5 or 6 Saccades, or look to a target then I say 5 or 6 it is, and I usually have people do that like 4 or 5 times a day. Like, “Hey, you know you’re going to the bathroom, that way you don’t look weird and frightened your co-workers like just “Boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom”, you know. Uhm- so, eye movements are good but all things being equal, through exercise, like true exercise, having a goal for that exercise, like my Parkinson’s patients I just try to tell them that you’re gonna preserve your brain-brain better by [inhaling-exhaling] everyday, than just doing some eye movements looking at some OPK tape and maybe working on your balance uhm- gratitude is probably the biggest thing, we give people journals. So actually, having something you’re grateful for, ’cause if we wanna like maybe hit direct blood flow to the prefrontal cortex we have to get out of that stress response.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, the gratitude is like forward looking like, I’m thankful for all these things right now here-

Dr. Jared Seigler: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: …brain stem, fight or flight your back here, essentially.

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah, yeah. Blood flow is huge. Uhm-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Shifting that blood flow by what part of the brain’s you’re activating essentially?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Mm-hmm. Yeah, ___[34:06], if- if you or someone you know is actively having strokes, please don’t try to start doing functional neurology-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Right.

Dr. Jared Seigler: -we will change blood flow to different regions of the brain, and the last thing we wanna do is blow another pipe out, yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay. That make sense.

Dr. Jared Seigler: And I would say gargling. We’re so sympathetic-drive, we have to get back in that rest and digest. So when we think of about blood flow and someone’s stressed out, basically below their diet rim shuts off. We’re not gonna digest food, the liver’s not gonna detoxify, ovaries and testes aren’t gonna make sex hormones, ’cause those things aren’t important for survival right now.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So, gargling. Couldn’t we also do more nasal breathing? You know, focus on more nasal?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah. Yeah that- breathing through the diaphragm? Mm-hmm. Uhm- and then when we think about a breath count, uhm- kind of the command center for the vagus nerve is called the nucleus tractus solitarius, I know, big words, uhm- but that’s where we’ll do a 4-8, 4 breath count. In for 4, through the nose out for 8 through the nose, count for 4 before you breathe in again. ‘Cause our autonomics, if I say “Control your pupil dilation and your blood pressure”, you can’t do that, but you can control your breath. So that’s kind of our window in to our autonomics.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So it’s 4 in, then pause for 4, then 8 out? Or is it 4 in then 8 out and pause 4?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yup, 4 in, 8 out, pause 4.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Wonderful, that’s great! Yeah, awesome. I’m gonna put the links for the course, for the listeners here below, uhm, and do you know when course live Dr. Jared?

Dr. Jared Seigler: We were trying to shoot for mid-March, I gotta shoot a couple more videos and then get it nice and pretty. I- I’m not the one that’s like, “Hey, let’s make it a pdf, and let’s make it uh- I’m more- I’m left brain dominant man, creativity is not my suite, so- that’s where we have the right people to do that, but yeah, we’re looking at definitely get it out sooner rather than later.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, please email me and let me know. I wanna be a part of that course as well, I think this information’s phenomenal. And then we’ll make sure, at this- if this video comes out too soon before the course, I will make sure the links are- are updated as things come live. So make sure you get those out to me, we’ll make sure our listeners get it. I think this is amazing information, your website is, part of the living truth institute, that’s the easy URL. There are any other ways the listeners can get in touch with you?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Yeah, I’m on Facebook. Uh, just look at my name Jared Seigler, I think there’s two of us, I’m the one that looks like me so, that makes it simple [laughs].

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: [Laughs]. That’s an easy one, I love it. Anything else Dr. Jared?

Dr. Jared Seigler: Uh, just figure out a- gratitude, you know, it’s easier to be nice to somebody than mean. So, that’s just what I found in this life If we’re grateful for what we have, then that’s a big step ’cause if we don’t appreciate what we have, we’ll never be grateful for what we get.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s so much easier to say, “Hey, be grateful” versus, “Hey, activate that blood flow to that frontal cortex”, it just sounds so much nicer saying it that way.

Dr. Jared Seigler: It is. I try to keep things like my dad told me, “Keep it simple, stupid”. [Laughs]

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s it, that’s it man. Awesome Jared. Well, I appreciate your- your time and- and massive knowledge bombs you dropped here today. Thank you so much and you have an awesome day. We’ll talk soon!

Dr. Jared Seigler: Thanks for having me. Everyone have a great day!

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Thank you!


What Your Brain is Really Hungry For

What Your Brain is Really Hungry For

By Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Alzheimer, dementia, and other neurodegenerative diseases are on the rise. Many people are under the impression that these diseases happen when you’re older, in your 60s, 70s, 80s… but this belief is wrong. Brain damage and deterioration actually starts when you’re young, in your 20s and 30s. It is only once enough damage has occured and symptoms start to show that a diagnosis is made.

How might a young person be causing such damage to their brain that they could end up with Alzheimer’s or other similar diseases? There are a few common patterns:

1) Insulin resistance: in some circles insulin resistance is even being referred to as Type III diabetes!

2) Autoimmunity: which can drive neurodegeneration in the brain.

3) Environmental toxicity: including heavy metals like aluminum, mercury and lead.

Today we’re going to be focusing on the effects of insulin resistance and its role in neurodegenerative diseases. Insulin is a hormone your pancreas creates that allows your body to use glucose (sugar and carbs) for energy. Insulin resistance is what happens when you consume too much sugar and carbohydrates, and your body stops reacting to insulin.

How does this relate to the brain? Well, it is a scientific fact that while the brain only represents about 5% of our body weight, it consumes nearly 25% of our nutrition and oxygen. When you consume too much sugar and carbohydrates, you become insulin resistant. Insulin resistance keeps the glucose trapped in the bloodstream and unable to be used for energy. Your brain becomes less and less capable of utilizing the glucose found in sugar and carbs for energy, and your begins to starve. If the brain is starving for glucose, the fuel needed to power our higher brain function is no longer accessible.

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Hearing that these diseases can start if your brain is starving for glucose might lead you to believe that you should just consume more glucose, right?  It’s important to remember that excess glucose is what started this whole problem in the first place. Excess glucose in the blood is what caused insulin resistance, and also causes something called AGES(advances glycation end products). AGES are free radical magnets that damages our DNA, accelerate aging, and even cause wrinkles.

What the most up to date research is showing is that our brain can adapt to burning fat or ketones for energy. Essentially 80% of our brain can run off of ketones, so other areas that were perhaps starving now have access to a new fuel that can bring to life parts of the brain that may have been asleep.  One of the most popular fats that are being used are MCTs (medium chain triglycerides), which are abundantly found in coconut oil. These fats are unique because they are easily digested and converted into ketones which become brain food rather quickly.

Next time your sitting down to a meal, it’s a wise choice to avoid the excess sugar and refined junk and eat organic whole foods, especially vegetables, healthy fats, and proteins.  The solid portion of your brain is 70% fat, so make sure you get an extra serving of healthy grass-fed meat, wild salmon, and coconut oil. This will help your brain function at the highest level possible and help prevent the occurrence neurodegenerative disease in your future.

Click here for more ways to improve brain health and functioning.

Natural solutions to optimize the brain, thyroid and adrenal connection

Natural solutions to optimize the brain, thyroid and adrenal connectionBy Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Today’s talk will address how important nutrients and nutrition are for healthy thyroid, adrenal and brain function. I’ll do a brief overview of how the thyroid works just so you’ll have some foundational information. And then I’ll cover what you need or what you may be missing that’s preventing your thyroid from functioning optimally on the nutritional side. So let’s dig in.

Overview of Thyroid Hormone Production

Let’s outline how the thyroid hormonal cascade or domino rally works. The first step we have is really the brain signalling down to the thyroid. This pathway is known as our thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Our TSH is coming from the brain, particularly the pituitary, and it’s telling the thyroid to make thyroid hormone.

From there, our thyroid spits out some T4, and about 20% of that T4 actually gets converted to T3 at the thyroid, and we’ll review some of the nutrients that we need to help that conversion. So 20% actually happens in the thyroid gland. The other 80% actually happens peripherally, and 60% of that 80% actually happens in the liver.

Factors to consider in thyroid hormone production

Factors to consider in thyroid hormone production


A healthy liver function is very important. If we’re getting toxins, chemicals, and various plastics in our food, then we’re not getting enough sulfur-based amino acids or antioxidants in our diet to run those pathways. Our liver may be burdened and that may affect our body’s ability to convert and activate thyroid hormone.

One of the enzymes that’s responsible for thyroid conversion, the 5-deiodinase enzyme—you break it down 5-deiodinase. De-i is taking an iodine off. So the T and the number 4 stands for how many Iodines there are. The 4 stands for the number of iodines. So de-iodinate means pulling an Iodine off, and that’s why it goes from T4 to T3, because we’re pulling 1 iodine molecule off it, and we’re doing it with that liver-based enzyme known as the 5-deiodinase enzyme, which is selenium-based.

So things like egg yolk, seafood, nuts, seeds—things like that are going to be very rich in Selenium, which we’re going to need for that liver enzyme to work. Selenium is also a strong precursor to glutathione. So selenium also helps with our detoxification, also supports the liver. Liver is very important for thyroid hormone conversion.

Gut Bacteria

Next we see gut bacteria. We need good, healthy gut bacteria because about 20% of conversion happens in and around the gut with acetic acid or the various sulfatase enzymes, and these enzymes are important at taking inactivated T3 and activating it. So if you have dysbiosis or imbalances in gut bacteria from various infections, pathogens, or even small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), that can throw off the balance of your gut bacteria, and that can decrease your gut’s ability to activate thyroid hormone.

Adrenal Glands

The adrenals are profound and very important for activation of thyroid hormone, mainly because of the fact that if we’re under adrenal stress, that can increase our reverse-T3 levels. I count the adrenals as being a 20% contributor of activating thyroid hormone. They do it a couple of ways. If the body’s under too much stress, cortisol is too high. If we have high cortisol, we’ll have more reverse T3s.  And reverse T3 is inactive T3.

How this happens is that the reverse T3 molecule gets in the receptor site in the cell. It doesn’t have the same metabolic effect of the T3. The T3 can’t make its way into the receptor site because the receptor site is blocked. So that’s kind of how reverse T3 works. It’s like taking a gun and putting blanks in the magazine. When you fire that gun, the effect that you’re looking for is for that bullet to come out, but all you hear is the noise. And you don’t get the actual end result, same thing. Metabolically, we see a hormone in that receptor site, but it’s a hormone that doesn’t have the same type of stimulation that thyroid hormone does at the nuclear-receptor-site level.

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So on that note, we need healthy levels of cortisol for thyroid conversion to happen. So the adrenals are also affected because high levels of cortisol, stress, etc.—these can actually affect TSH. TSH levels can go off with an extreme amount of stress via cortisol, and if we’re depleted, if our adrenals are so dysfunctional that our cortisol levels are now low like at a stage-3 adrenal fatigue level (cortisol levels <23), then we’re not going to have enough cortisol to make that conversion happen. We need cortisol to really activate that thyroid hormone.

When we do thyroid temperature testing, we’ll see chronically low temperatures with low thyroid function. When we see adrenal stress, we’ll see aberrations in temperature greater than 0.3 degrees Fahrenheit. So what we’ll see when we have adrenal and thyroid issues is if this is the threshold we want to be at temperature-wise, we’ll have a low temperature but we’ll have aberrations in that low temperature. If it’s just a straight low temperature, that’s a thyroid dysfunction. If it’s low and aberrant, that’s thyroid and adrenals. And if it’s normal and aberrant, that’s just adrenal function. So that’s a great way that you can use temperature to assess whether you have a thyroid issue, adrenal issue, or both.

Nutrients and Thyroid Hormone Activation

3 Nutrients and Thyroid Hormone Activation

Now that you have a good background of how the thyroid gland converts a lot of the T4 and T3 into active hormones, let’s talk about some of the nutrients that are involved for activating thyroid hormone.


Our TSH is the signaler. So TSH is an inverse hormone. It goes high when thyroid hormone is low, and it goes low when thyroid hormone is high essentially. So if I’m yelling at someone and I’m not getting their attention, I’ll have to raise my voice louder until I get that person’s attention. Think of that as what TSH is doing: the brain is yelling down to the thyroid to make hormone, and if it’s not high enough, it will increase the amount of TSH. TSH is a very bad indicator to use for thyroid dysfunction because it’s so late-stage. It comes on so late in the game, 5 to 10 years down the road.


We really need to be looking at the actual active hormone downstream, the T3. This is much more important and much more indicative of an early-stage thyroid issue. A lot of times people may have healthy levels of TSH because T4 feeds back into the brain better than T3. We could have normal levels of T4 but have low levels of T3, and it may not even be reflected in the TSH. I see that all the time in my patients. That’s why we have to be very careful. We actually have to look at TSH, T4 free and total, T3 free and total, and maybe even look at reverse T3 and the thyroid antibodies.

We talked about the nutrition—vitamin A, zinc, various B vitamins, and protein—for healthy thyroid-hormone function knocking that first domino over, which is TSH. And, again, if we have a gut issue, you can see that nutrition isn’t just a given. If we take in nutrient-rich foods, but we have a gut issue, malabsorption, low stomach acid, dysbiosis, and infection, you can see how that may impede the absorption of these nutrients, thus causing deficiency even though we have a really good diet. So keep that in mind: we always need to look deeper at the gut, deeper at the liver, and deeper at the adrenals. We can’t ignore these three body systems.


Iodine is an important nutrient for thyroid-hormone creation. The process known as iodination involves iodine and tyrosine being cleaved together. The T in T4 and T3 stands for tyrosine (an amino acid), and the 4 and the 3 stand for the number of iodines. We don’t need too much iodine to have this healthy conversion and activation.

Iodine  Dosage

There’s a lot of debate out there that we need more iodine, into the high milligram range. Some say we only need the recommended daily allowance (RDA), 250 or so micrograms, to make our thyroid hormone. We have to be careful because iodine can be a strong stimulator of autoimmunity, and there’s a great deal of research showing that excess iodine can actually stimulate Hashimoto’s. It activates TPO or thyroglobulin antibody that can increase thyroid destruction.

Iodine and Autoimmune Conditions

A lot of people say that the reason iodine’s a contributing issue with autoimmune conditions is because people also are very low in selenium, and when iodine is being fused to thyroid hormone via this process known as iodination, a result is that hydrogen peroxide gets kicked out. This hydrogen peroxide can be very inflammatory and can cause our B cells to come up and infiltrate. It also starts attacking the thyroid tissue. That’s why if you’re getting any amount of iodine, you want make sure there are adequate levels of selenium. This is because selenium actually neutralizes the hydrogen peroxide. It pulls an oxygen off it and makes it H20, which is water, which is very benign.

Getting iodine and not having selenium there by its side can definitely be a recipe for destruction. So with iodine, be very careful. Make sure you’re working with a functional medicine doctor. Make sure you’re not autoimmune or have any autoimmune symptoms before you give iodine at higher levels. About 200 micrograms will probably be okay, but double-check with your functional medicine doctor.


This is really important. If you have a microcytic, hypochromic anemia, that’s going to be a major issue. Low iron—we need iron to make thyroid hormone. But we also need iron to help carry oxygen throughout our body.

B vitamins

B6 is super important because B6 helps with dopamine activation, and if we look at the hypothalamus, which is the top part of the brain, we actually need dopamine from the hypodopamine production to actually stimulate the hypothalamus to make thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH). TRH is important at stimulating TSH. So dopamine is essential, and a lot of people may have neurotransmitter issues that need to be fretted out doing an in-depth organic acid test.


So Iodine, Tyrosine, Iron, and your B vitamins are really important for energy, for making the Krebs cycle go around. Vitamin C is a really important antioxidant and helps the adrenals as well. Vitamin D is really important for immune function. A lot of people with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroid autoimmune issues tend to have a vitamin D polymorphism at the receptor site of the vitamin D receptor. And they need higher levels of vitamin D, 70 to 100. So be very mindful if you have an autoimmune thyroid. Make sure your vitamin D levels are up at 70 to 100, just to make sure you have that therapeutic immune balancing effect.

We already talked about the nutrients needed for our T4 to T3 and that Selenium is essential also for the autoimmune effects of helping to neutralize the hydrogen peroxide into water.

Zinc is also very important for thyroid conversion. Zinc is also essential for sex hormone production, making testosterone essentially, and then also it’s an important building block for making Hydrochloric acid. If our Hydrochloric acid levels aren’t adequate enough, we won’t keep a nice, low pH in the stomach. If we don’t have that nice, low pH, we won’t be able to break down protein and fat adequately and we’ll have a harder time ionizing minerals. We need to ionize minerals and hit them with Hydrochloric acid, so we can then take them into our blood so they’re not like rocks floating in our bloodstream. We actually need to ionize them so they’re absorbable. If we have issues with these nutrients, we may see other problems in the thyroid hormone chain that could be happening as well.

Woman holding neck suffering from thyroid issues

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Thyroid Testing

Thyroid autoimmunity is a big issue—40% of people that test for thyroid autoimmunity actually are a false negative. This means they come back negative, but they may still have a positive thyroid autoimmune condition. So make sure you get your thyroid looked at either by palpation and/or by ultrasound. Just to make sure there are no nodules or inflammation in the thyroid that could be caused by Hashimoto’s.

So outside of that, if you have a thyroid issue, nutritional issue or neurotransmitter issue that could be affecting your thyroid, and you’re not quite sure of the next step to take, click here to schedule a consult with me to dig deeper or get my Thyroid Hormone Balancing Series for more information on how you can get your thyroid back into balance.

Dr. Andrew Hill Interview on Meditation, Neurofeedback and Brain Health – Podcast #31

Dr. Andrew Hill talks about neurofeedback/biofeedback as a way to improve brain health. We also talk about meditation and brain supporting nutrients including piracetam, oxiracetam, and PQQ. Listen to this podcast or watch the video to learn how to improve your brain, learn how to meditate, or learn how trauma hurts your brain.

Dr. Andrew HillThis is a very informative podcast on neurological health and how we can use it to help repair from injuries, recover from injuries, and just perform better at our daily lives. Find out about the different EEGs and brain training and how much it costs. Dr. Hill also describes how brain training works in this interview. He also shared with us what he thinks a good diet in conjunction with supplements look like.

In this episode, topics include:

4:30   Using biofeedback or neurofeedback

14:05   Biofeedback and EEG devices

25:35   Psychostimulatants and ADHD

33:37   Nootropics, racetams, and compounds

1:00:00   About meditation and techniques








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Baris Harvey:  Welcome to another episode of Beyond Wellness Radio.  In today’s show we are talking about brain health.  We have a great interview coming up for you.  But before we dive into the show, let me tell you about our newsletter.  If you go to, you can sign up for the newsletter.  There’s bright and orange, a newsletter sign up feed.  Signing up to the newsletter will give you the quickest access to all of our information.  We send you a newsletter every time a new episode comes up.  Also there are links to mine and Dr. Justin’s websites.  If you go up to the top, there’s a link for Just In Health and that’s where you can contact Dr. Justin directly and–and work with him virtually.  You can also go to my site, and to get information and work with me virtually.  We work in our independent locations, but we work with people all across the globe, so technology makes that possible and it’s super awesome that we could do that.  And for one more thing, make sure you guys go to iTunes and leave a review.  You guys can also send us any questions that you guys have straight through  So with that being said, how’s it going today, Dr. Justin?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Baris, it’s going great, and I’m actually really excited for this interview and going over–

Baris Harvey:  Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And going over some of the really key points in neurological health and how we can use it to help repair from injuries, recover from injuries, and just perform better at our daily lives.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, definitely, so we do have Dr. Andrew Hill on the phone call today.  How’s it going?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Great, gentlemen, Justin and Baris, nice to be here.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Thanks for having me.

Baris Harvey:  Very well.  So, one of the–and so you have like this giant bio and I–I don’t wanna mess it up like you–you’re doing some awesome–because you’re–you’re the lead neuroscientist at the company, truBrain, but you also–you–you received you PhD in cognitive neuroscience from UCLA and you also teach courses there, right?  Like to just–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I do, yeah.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, everybody a brief like–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Sure.

Baris Harvey:  A quick, yeah, exactly.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  So I’m a sort of a geek brain health guy.

Baris Harvey:  Yes.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And I–I operate in that space across many different sort of activities.  As you mentioned I’m the lead neuroscientists for truBrain.  truBrain has developed a couple of products that blend different nutraceuticals, nootropics, brain health promoting supplements together.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I’ve helped them architect their blends as well as doing research on the products we develop to sort of see what effects we can validate it and that’s more of a sort of consumer product if you will.  I also teach at UCLA, courses on psychology, neuroscience, gerontology, and then I run a–the Alternatives Brain Institute.  I’m the director of the Neurocognitive Services in Beverly Hills and then that’s a peak brain training center that does lots of things but in–now broadly speaking it helps you get the best brain you can get and that might mean–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Helping you train away the ADHD or the depression and the anxiety or you know whatever else is going on in your brain.  So we sort of do individualized evidence-based brain training where we assess what challenges you’re experiencing and then help you resolve them using sort of high-tech biofeedback and mindfulness.  You know, high and low teach sort of approaches at the same time.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, it’s funny that you mention the–the high and low tech at the same time.  I don’t know if the listeners notice like how–how giddy I was because I–I was rushing to travel to get back home but also I was so excited to get on this interview like I was–I was like missing my words.  I was oh–so right as you were speaking, I–I took a deep breath in just in to relax real quick, like “Okay, I know–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Baris Harvey:  You’re excited to talk about all these you know, brain geekery stuff,” but yeah, just like you mentioned, there are some–some low–low-tech techniques, too, but there’s also, you know, the really high end stuff that you can do to kind of get yourself to that place a lot quicker, right?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah, certainly.  You know, using biofeedback or you know, specifically neurofeedback which is–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:   Simply biofeedback done on the central nervous system, you can make very rapid changes to stress level, attention level, sleep regulation, all kinds of things.  You know, many of these same changes can be achieved using meditation and mindfulness as a practice over you know many weeks or months, but the biofeedback process is very rapid.  You know, within a handful of training sessions, people experience shifts and you can produce, you know, improvements in attention, sleep, stress level very quickly, and with–within literally a few sessions of training often.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.  Definitely.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  That’s very cool and Andrew, this is Dr. Justin here talking as well, and again just pre-interview everyone, we just found out Dr. Andrew and I went to U-Mass, fellow alum together so that was kinda something that was very a–very much in common that kinda shocked me a little bit.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  That’s right, now I don’t wonder why it sounds like we have that Massachusetts’ accent so–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  We both escaped it.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yup, yeah, exactly.  It comes out from time to time but no doubt in that.  And one thing that was really–let’s say I’m on your sites right now.  I’m looking at some different things that you’re doing and I was actually doing some research because I live in Austin and I have a clinic here in Austin as well, and I was looking for–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And I was looking for various biofeedback and EEG devices and you know, friendly with Dave Asprey and he’s a big fan of this program called 40 Years of Zen.  I think Dr. Hardt puts it on.  It’s called alpha brain as well.  And it sounds like some of the biofeedback that you’re doing is in the same–same realm.  Are you familiar with the 40 Years of Zen?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I’m–I’m, I know the program.  I believe Dave Asprey flogs the neuro optimal system, which–

Baris Harvey:  Oh yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Is actually my least favorite of any possible option out there.  It’s the most expensive and it’s the most proprietary.  So I–I tend to think that, you know.  In the field of biofeedback on the brain, you know, neurofeedback–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Technology is proliferating–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Dramatically and when, you know, I got involved in the field about 15 years ago, you know, it cost at least $10,000 to get set up and we were doing individual, you know, one or two channels on the scalp of training–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And nowadays that there, you know, both lower cost systems you get into it for much less–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Expense but there’s also sort of the other end, you know, where there’s this elaboration technology where you can buy incredibly complicated high-end system supposedly, but no one really knows that the–that they work any better than the simple one or two channel EEG trainings we we’re doing.  And so there’s this rush to sort of com–city in the field that I think is a little bit unnecessary.  One thing that we do here at Alternatives that I do a lot for the research for truBrain is what’s called a qEEG, a Quantitative EEG.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And that’s sort like, you know, Justin or Baris, you guys sat down and wanted a brain map, I would have you sit with your eyes closed for several minutes and then your eyes open for several minutes and I would take that sort of resting baseline data and compare it to a normative database that has thousands of brains in it and out of that, we would get a statistical sort of map about how your brain differs from typical–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  From average and a whole bunch of different waves and then based on what statistical sort of unusual pattern showed up, we would start narrowing down, you know, what physiology was driving things you care about.  You know, disrupted sleeper or stress level–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Or inability to sustain attention or whatever it is you, you know, you would wanna focus on improving will show up as a statistically unusual, if you will, pattern in these brain maps.  And that does a few things.  It keeps the biofeedback process evidence-based. You know, we’re training based on your brain, not based on some–some arbitrary heuristic or clinical lore.  And that’s one thing that I think is very critical is–is keeping it evidence-based, always going back to literature, always going back to what brain patterns the person is demonstrating, and making your decision about what needs to be changed based on–on that.  Now, the literature has not yet caught up with biofeedback–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  All that well, I mean, we can do all kinds of things to the brain in the clinic that are powerful and provide–there’s only a few things that have been well-validated in the research literature for biofeedback.  One is ADHD.  One is seizures.  One is migraines.  These things all appear to be very tractable.  In fact, for things like attention management or ADHD when it’s bad–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  It looks like for the most part you can eliminate symptoms in 20 to 30 training sessions in most people, you know, about 90% of people, and the effects you get are largely permanent.  So you can take this, you know, some are hyperactive, they’re really distractible, or has a really hard time sustaining attention as they get tired in the afternoon and sort of fine tune the resources, build more strength, build more attending if you will–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Add some inhibitory tone and very quickly within a few weeks you can take somebody with dramatically dysregulated attention and help them, you know, get more control over which mode they sit in, a sustained attention mode or a focus mode.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And literature is very robust now for attention management.  There’s been plenty of double-blind placebo-controlled studies done.  In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics which releases sort of, you know, state of the treatment reports every couple of years, they moved biofeedback up to what they call level 1 best support in 2012 for ADHD and the only other thing at that level is–is psychostimulants, you know, Ritalins and Adderalls, and things.  So they now consider neurofeedback or biofeedback a frontline intervention if you will and for other things, you know, the literature is very, very intriguing about what it can do to the brain and this is not simply cognitive health.  A colleague of mine in Torrance, California, Gary Schumer published a paper last year on some research he did about 20 years ago looking at HIV positive individuals and showed that doing some relaxation work and biofeedback could raise the T-cells, the CD4 cells–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Back up to–back up to typical levels, you know, average levels and these were, you know, HIV–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Positive men with fairly profoundly impaired T-cell counts and this was sort of before the antiretrovirals hit the market.  So these were guys who were coming in essentially living under a death sentence, you know, 20 years ago and–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Many of them, I mean the statistics are fairly beautiful in the paper and it is a published article now showing that with this alpha training, relaxation training, you can really bring the T-cell counts back up, and so it works for all kinds of things.  Attention management, sleep management, immune status, you know, PTSD, OCD, major depression and anxiety, and these are all, you know, from my perspective–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Viewed a little bit as sort of regulatory issues.  I mean, I don’t think of ADHD as a problem with, you know, as an illness or a disease–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I think it is a tuning problem, you know, and some of this is informed by my perspective as a neuroscientist, as an educator, I tend to teach Psychology and Neuroscience from the perspective that everything that we have going on between our ears is largely a–an evolutionarily valid–like there’s a reason that we developed these things, the, you know, evolution is very costly and developing certain resources or abilities, it was usually done because of the pressures in the environment not because it was just some random thing.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And you know, attention in that metaphor we needed people who could sit and weed and really pay attention to the small plants in front of them and we also need people who could scan the environment and–and notice the tiger or notice the small, you know, red berry that was hard to spot.  So we need people or we evolve, I–I believe, to develop sort of human brains that have abilities to sustain attention as well as ability to sort of scan the environment and notice everything that’s novel, everything that’s, you know, dangerous or interesting.  Nowadays in a modern, if you will, society we only really were reward the type of brain that can sustain their attention, sort of the cubicle mode as it were.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And we don’t reward the person who can process everything in sight and, you know, gets pulled off by every interesting idea or interesting thing in the environment.  But it’s not a very dramatic different brain ultimately speaking, you know, every–even the most distractible person in the world has moments where they can sit and sustain.  So you’re not unable to sustain, in fact, I would argue that, you know, frankly speaking ADHD, you know, the deficit of attention is not really deficit in the amount of attention.  It’s sort of a truism that the average ADHD teenager can sit and play video games all day long.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.  So it depends on what–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And that’s attending, that’s to stay in detention, you know.  It’s highly stimulating and they’re very motivated but you know, you have a kid who can sit and play video games 7 hours straight, it’s a little hard to conceptualize that as a deficit of attention.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Exactly.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Of resources.  It’s more about control of those resources.  So a lot of what we’re doing is giving you more control about which mode you sit in.  Oh, it’s important to stay attentive now at this classroom or to not interrupt my colleague in this business meeting.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And so we add a little more sort of, you know, control, inhibitory tone, and that mostly gives people just a little more ability to direct their your mind or thoughts, their attention.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And on that note, you mentioned certain biofeedback devices or EEG devices out there.  Some are overpriced, some aren’t.  Which one in your opinion would be like, you know, one of the best units that could buy as like a lay person or maybe even a professional–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  To get the benefit.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  So–so for a home consumer or a power user, I mean this stuff isn’t trivial to use but it’s also not, you know, it’s not rocket surgery.  It’s–it’s a–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You can stick wires to heads and measure brain waves, it’s–that’s not the hard part.  Knowing what to train, you know, what frequencies you want more of or less of, or where of the head you want to train is actually not trivial and you know, I do recommend folks that wanna home train to sort of take an approach where they, you know, find a professional, get a brain map, a qEEG to get a starting place, figure out–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  What brain you’re really working with and get some candidate protocols from that, you know, clinician and then in terms of low-cost, there’s really only one game in town for low-cost hardware–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  That actually works.   I mean, this–there’s many, many more things out there recently that are being–flooding the market.  All these forehead dry sensors, all these headbands and things.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And unfortunately, none of those things actually work in my experience.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know, the dry electro–or the forehead sensors–A, the forehead’s the wrong place to measure almost always for biofeedback into the regular quality signals in these very cheap sensors, so–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  There’s a company out of Australia, oddly enough–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Called Pocket Neurobics.  N-E-U-R-O-B–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Pocket Neurobics.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Pocket Neurobics, yeah.  And it’s a small wonderful little company that makes interesting devices, interesting EEG devices and EEG–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Dot com

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  For everyone listening.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yup, exactly.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Cool.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And he actually sells kits in–and call this build your own, BYO kits.  And he sells 2-channel EEG devices, 4-channel EEG devices, HEG which is infrared blood training, blood flow dynamics and things, but I think he has a device currently called the Uwiz, which is his lowest cost device, add some electrodes, add a copy of BioExplorer which is a software to process this stuff and you can probably get yourself up and running for, I don’t know, like $1300, $1400.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  That’s great.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Is about where it starts to come in and this is all PC-based software, too.  So you need a decent Mac–PC, not a Mac unfortunately.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Got it.  And I–I know, Baris is itching to ask some questions.  I just wanna–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Sure.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Get your take on–I’m a patient, right?  I’m coming in.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Let’s say I have anxiety or ADHD.  How does this work?  So I–I–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Sit down in a chair and–what’s role as the doctor?  What’s my role?  How does this work?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah, you can almost think of me as sort of like a coach or a personal trainer, but I’m a personal trainer in a–in a realm where nobody may have ever seen the muscles you’re trying to work on, you know.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Or the–the training gear you’re working on has to be completely built anew for every person’s specifics, you know, gains they wanna make.  So let’s say you have–you walk in, you say, I mean a very common cluster, if you will, of symptoms is “I get too anxious, I got some ADHD or distractibility, I’m not sleeping great.”  You know, those–those three things are often–come together.  And I would say, “Okay, great, let’s see.  Before you tell me too much about yourself, I don’t wanna get biased, we’ll look at your brain.”  So before we even really talk, you know, let’s–let’s do an assessment and I would sit you down, do qEEG, develop these maps, these patterns of activity that are statistically unusual, and then we’ll sit down and I’ll say, “Okay, look, this pattern here can mean hyperactivity or impulsivity, is that true for you?  I mean, do you have that experience?  This one here can mean hypervigilance.  This one here can mean a reactive mind.”

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  “This one here can mean some experience of rumination.”

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  “This one here looks like sleep onset issues.  This one here looks like sleep maintenance issues.”  And we sort of figure out of the 9 or 10 patterns that show up, you know, which ones are valid from your perspective, you know, subjectively.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And usually the reason I don’t do a–a large clinical history before talking about the results with a client is because I want to be biased and it’s also kinda impressive to sort of do a cold read on their brain.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And describe them mostly accurately, I mean, of–of the 9 or 10 things that I’ll find, usually they’re almost all–some of the client goes, “Yeah, how’d you know?”  And so once we figure out the–the big outliers in their brain statistically, what they really wanna be working on, what their goals are, then folks come in, sometime between twice a week and five times a week.  So let’s say, you came in, Justin, sit down.  I say, “Hey, how have things been? How’s your sleep, your stress level, your attention? Okay, great.”  Put a couple of clips on your ears, put one electrode on your head, maybe two, and then you’ll sit and watch a video game.  And whenever your brain is sort of trending in the right direction, the game will run and whenever your brain is trending in the wrong direction, the game stops running.  What I mean by trending is we’re making all these different brain waves.  Things called alpha, beta, delta, gamma, theta–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Theta, but we’re not making them as some static amount, you know, we’re not making X amount of theta all the time.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  We are making all of our brain waves all of the time.  People sometimes don’t–don’t know this when I start explaining the brainwave EEG landscape.  You know, delta we’re making a lot of when we’re deeply asleep and not dreaming.  Slow wave sleep is delta

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  We’re just not making other waves, even when you’re deeply asleep, and when you’re awake, you’re making all of the waves in various amounts moment to moment.  And so simply you sort of set up a measurement threshold and when the things you want to drop drift down, you make the game, you know, a Pacman eats dots or a spaceship, you know, flies to the sky or something happens.  And whatever your brain naturally normally drifts in the wrong the wrong direction, let’s say, you know your slow brain waves, your theta goes up, I make the Pacman stop.  And the next moment it drifts down, then the Pacman starts eating dots again. And then it goes up, then the Pacman stops.  And over, you know, half an hour of training, the–the session length, you might have a few hundred of those events of stopping and starting rewards or things happening on the screen or for audio events, and after a few sessions, usually 3, 4, 5 sessions in, you start experiencing some subjective shift, you know, they’re very–it’s very subtle.  We aren’t zapping the brain.  We’re simply applauding or withholding our applaud, if you will.

Baris Harvey:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Applause.  For–for changes in the right direction and after several sessions, the brain is starting to go, “Hey, wait a minute.  I want input so I’m gonna start making, you know, more of this brain wave and less of this brain wave because that makes the game run a little more smoothly.”  And we start getting different experiences, either the beta drops, you get get more crystally attentive.  As your, you know, midline beta drops, you sleep better.  As your posterior eyes closed beta drops, you are less anxious, less hypervigilant.  And so we just kind of, you know, figure out a game plan based on what we see in your brain maps and what your experience is of having a brain and then from there we just slowly iterate and fine tune and, you know, it’s like going to the gym or physical therapist.  Most of my clients do about 30 sessions to stop–to start, and that’s, you know, between about 6 and you know, maybe 16 weeks after the whole training session and many clients at that point have made enough changes in their brain that they’re done.  You know, especially for things like attention, sleep, anxiety, the changes are–are largely permanent.  It’s where you make a change and the brain is now always sort of practicing its new mode, so there’s no real need to go back and train more for many people.  If there’s–if there’s an active disease process, you know, schizophrenia, HIV positive status, something that’s keeping things sort of awry, Alzheimer’s, you might make really good changes in someone’s experience but stopping training will often cause sort of a, you know, a wearing off of the effect.  But for things where it’s not an active disease process, you know, anxiety, ADHD–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Major depression, I would even call it a tuning issue versus a major disease.  All of these things seem to resolve pretty, you know, reliably, you know, I would say the range of sessions is probably between 30 and 100 across the various types of things we work with and you really can, for the most part, eliminate ADHD, moderate anxiety, sleep issues, or anything else that is sort of, you know, a moderate regulatory feature just by training a few times a week for a couple months.  So, you know, in terms of clinical and making massive tailored specific interventions that one person needs, you know, that’s what we do, it’s the–it’s the biofeedback.  And then of course, I also do a lot of alternative therapies and training folks to meditate and, you know, help them and stay in shape, meditation and mindfulness practices which also builds brain health pretty dramatically in some folks.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, that–that’s seems pretty awesome especially the fact like–like you mentioned when we started that the neurofeedback sessions can help get you to a certain prompt quicker.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Baris Harvey:  You–you mentioned, meditation and mindfulness can help and probably after these sessions, like if someone came in and might have–like for myself, if I’m–have mild ADHD and I come in there, I’m like saying, “You know what, I have a difficulty time–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Baris Harvey:  Trying to meditate.”  Right?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Right, absolutely.

Baris Harvey:  And either probably help me get there a lot quicker, and then now I can have that  practice and that can, you know, like you mentioned the 30 sessions sometimes for someone with–someone with ADHD, someone like that.  Maybe now for maintenance, all they need to do is have that–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Is meditate, yeah.

Baris Harvey:  Mindfulness practice, exactly.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  For ADHD, I would say 20-30 is about average and in that time–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You can usually eliminate all or most of the ADHD.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  In a way that is largely permanent.  Across, you know, all presenting complaints, I say you’re talking between 20 sessions, you know, and then some things have been active disease process or active sort of, you know, more dysregulated brains, you might require more ongoing training.  But for the most part, it’s sort of a–an intervention that gets you back on track and you–you do it for a limited amount of time.  It’s not like therapy or, you know, anything else where you’re doing it for very, very long time.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-huh.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  So I’m–it’s kind of odd, I work with–work with clients for, you know, 2, 3, 4, 5 months and then they go on and, you know, live with their new brain and then I often don’t see them again unless I pull them back in for assessments, you know, after the fact which I do sometimes but–

Baris Harvey:  Yeah.  Yeah, definitely.  Because one of the things that I’ve always thought, as–as soon as I started to get into the–like the health when I–when I was younger, when I started getting into the health field–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Baris Harvey:  I noticed that they were always classified as disorders, not necessarily the diseases–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Baris Harvey:  And so it always made me think like well, we should be to–to change these and–and there should be certain things and of course, now we have the technology to–to do a lot of powerful things and you mentioned a–a home device.  What are some–alright, because I know, right now currently what usually happens to the people is we give them a type of molecule, a chemical, to–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Baris Harvey:  To change their behavior, a psychostimulant, but are there any–are there are any of that you think are safe or are there any exchanges that may be if someone has more mild, I know you work with truBrain and of course, it’s a supplement that I–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Baris Harvey:  That you recommend, but what are some of the–the alt–I guess it’s a load of questions, here’s 2 questions at the same time.  Are there some safe drugs out there and maybe certain people need them and if not or if so, what are they and what can they replace them with?  There you go.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.  I–I don’t think that most of the drugs used for attention management and they’re almost all psychostimulants or some sort–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I don’t believe that any of them are safe.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Because they mostly–A, I don’t believe that ADHD is–again, I’m not a medical doctor or psychologist, I’m a neuroscientist, my perspective–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  May not be, you know, necessarily the same as everyone else’s–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  But I–I don’t believe that it’s–it’s a–it’s a disorder.  I don’t believe it needs to be medicated, you know, ADHD per se–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Except in the most extreme cases, you know, where it’s getting dramatically in the way of life.  But beyond that I think that, you know, you can do a lot with scaffolding, with building in some accommodations in life, task lists, and calendars and things like that.  I also think that teaching people a 20-minute a day meditation practice will actually do more to support their attention long-term than psychostimulants will do.  And those effects start showing up within a few weeks.  Now getting an ADHD kid to start meditating is, you know, a hard ask sometimes.  And so getting over that initial hump of, you know, not–not knowing how to do it or not sure you’re doing it properly is–is a very big deal.  But I would say that I don’t really think that there’s a lot of good drugs out there that support attention just like there’s no drugs out there that make you go to sleep.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know, all the sleeping meds are not–actually sort of in this weird sedated state and then if you’re tired ideally your brain takes over with the sleep reflex then you go to sleep, but there’s no drug out there as far as I know still that actually causes sleep.  It just kind of drugs you up until you then, you know, fall asleep.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, I know.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And if you asleep, you actually never get into those deeper–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Exactly.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  REM, you know, stage 3, stage 4 sleep where you’re really repairing and healing the body.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Exactly, yeah.  I mean and we’ve discovered, there’s a study out last year that, you know, the brain is sort of washing itself with cerebrospinal fluid and all that–all the sort, you know, metabolic end products and toxins and things are being removed from the brain through this washing like a car wash at night and that only happens later on the second half of sleep.  You know, you need to sort of be in that deep slow wave sleep for that to really happen.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, it’s funny that you mentioned that because I remember–I think it was Dr. Kurt Parsley I think his name is–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, Parsley, yup.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, I remember he–he mentioned something very similar saying, you know, you would never, you know, see someone in a UFC fight get knocked out and say, “Oh, he’s asleep.”

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Baris Harvey:  You realize, you know, he’s knocked out here–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Baris Harvey:  And it’s the same thing with the drugs.  You don’t say, “Oh, that person’s asleep.”  It’s like, “No, there’s just unconscious.”

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah, they’re sedated.  Exactly.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And–and to some extent if you flip the metaphor, the same is true for drugs that–that are “attention drugs”.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  They’re–they’re not really improving your control of attention.  They’re just ramping the gain up, so you have more sort of pressured attention.  You’re–you’re–you’re attending more.  But you don’t necessarily have more control and it’s not necessarily without consequence.  The psychostimulant class of drugs almost all have fairly significant side effects.  They suppress your appetite.  They’re habit-forming.  They–if you abuse them and a lot of teenagers and college students are abusing–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Ah, yeah!

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Psychostimulants now, you know, high levels of psychostimulants leads to psychosis in some people.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And a lot of these medications, too, aren’t they just methamphetamines?  Your Strattera, your Adderall–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah, well, the–the methylphenidate like Strattera and Ritalin are not methamphetamine.  They’re–they’re another molecule but Adderall has a molecule that’s very similar–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  To methamphetamine.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  It’s a very low dose and so yeah, these–these are doing all kinds of crazy things to the brain.  They’re mostly given to kids and adolescents and at least some of the drugs out there in this class seem to change developmental trajectories, make your brain grow less or less quickly.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And many countries, the US doesn’t have this anymore but many countries, a lot of the psychostimulants carry what’s called a black box warning.  You know, Canada and the UK for instance, because kids suddenly fall over dead on psychostimulants.  The heart, you know, they have cardiac side effects and they have a heart attack and just–or the heart just stops working.  And so you know, there’s lots of side effects and anyone who’s tried a psychostimulant,  they don’t feel like you, you feel altered on them.  You’re–you’re pushed.  And that’s exactly the thing we’re trying to get rid of in ADHD.  It’s the feeling of being pushed, being out of control.  So I don’t–I don’t think that the–the psychostimulant class is very useful unless you are somebody who has massive, you know, sleep-wake issues, you know.  And then you’re probably better off with things that aren’t stimulants.  Things like modafinils and–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.  Provigil–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know, narcolepsy drugs–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And I–and by the way, just the record, I hate Provigil.  I hate modafinil.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Okay.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  It’s used a lot in self-hacking, biohacking circles as–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  A nootropic.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And I would argue it’s not a nootropic because it has side effects.  It’s not a nootropic because it has been very, very mild support for cognition and the–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Side effects are non-trivial. I am–personally got the side effects you get from modafinil, ended up in the hospital for a while with a head to toe–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Wow!

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Hives and my skin threatening to peel off, my lungs threatening to close up.  And this was taking it as prescribed, once a day for two weeks.  At the end of that time, I basically had a systemic histamine, you know, storm that cause major, major life–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Wow.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Threatening issues, and you know, not that common to have side effects on–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Modafinil–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  But they happen and, therefore, you know, if you’re in this space of nootropics, which means, you know, cognitive support–supporting compounds, drugs, supplements, whatever, you know, the–the threshold for cost-benefit should be very high.  You–you should–you should only entertain the risk of side effects and drugs if you’re trying to fix a problem.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  If you’re trying to just help yourself be more, more attentive, sleep better, more stress, more learning, whatever it is, then you shouldn’t tolerate any side effects.  The risks are just not there for small incremental improvements long-term.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And so I really encourage folks to think of this definition of nootropics or  brain compounds, one of the very important part of that definition is not having any side effects or having very, very low or manageable–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Side effects.  And psychostimulants don’t fall into that category, neither does Modafinil, neither does caffeine.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know?  I’m a big fan of coffee.  I think there’s lots of things in coffee that really, really help the brain.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know, I’m somebody who wakes up in the morning with too much blood in my caffeine stream.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And on that note, with the coffee,have you–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Have you tried the Bulletproof coffee where you’re adding the MCT and the butter in there, what’s your take–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Sure.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  In that?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I tend to add grass-fed butter and coconut oil, a little bit of coconut oil–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, great!

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I don’t–I don’t think there’s any need for refined MCT–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I think coconut oil is a fine version.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know, I don’t–I don’t use Dave’s, his beans, his Bulletproof beans.  I’m not–not a big fan of them flavor-wise.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And I also think that the mycotoxin reason for his beans is somewhat a manufactured issue.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I don’t think it’s a real issue in this country.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Hmm.  Interesting.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And so, I’m–I’m more about finding, you know, small batch, single origin–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know, where–where I know where it’s coming from–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Where it’s a small number of steps between the grower and my cup that can go in for a big change–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And hopefully organic without the pesticides.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Exactly.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  They’re mostly gonna hurt your–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  So I–so I–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Nervous system.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  So I, you know, I have small roasters in LA that I work with or I have a couple up in Portland that I, you know, personally that send me coffee every so often and so I just make sure that my coffee is high quality.

Baris Harvey:  Exactly.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I’m not concerned about toxins and things, but yeah, I, you know, I–I drink way more coffee than is probably all that health–healthy.  But I keep a nootropic compound on hand to take the edge off the caffeine.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You’re–some of your listeners may know of a compound called L-theanine.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:   GABA which is a naturally occurring amino acid found in tea leaves.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And if you’re a tea drinker you’ve experienced this–this interesting combination of both calm and focus–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  At the same time.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And that’s a combination of caffeine and L-theanine, or the caffeine pushing up adenosine for the alertness–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And the L-theanine pushing up the GABA–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  GABA, right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And so I keep some L-theanine, you know, at hand in a bottle so when I–when I overdo it and get up above a gram of caffeine that day–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I can sort of, you know, downregulate but we also put L-theanine in the truBrain blend for the same reason, sort of buffer the over arousal effects you get when you’re seeking high performance states sometimes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I’m looking at the ingredients for that right now and you have some really–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Good things in there.  Now in my experiences, I’ve used piracetam.  I–I do it with my coffee, MCT, and butter in the morning sometimes.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-huh.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  About 800 milligrams.  I’ve gotten good experience with that.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yup.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I’ve used aniracetam which is fat-soluble–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yup, that’s similar.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And I noticed you have oxiracetam–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And I haven’t heard too much of that.  Can you talk about these racetams?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Are they–are they an–an essential nutrient and–and what’s your take on it in general?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Well, they’re not essential nutrient.  That–that sort of means the body needs it–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  But can’t manufacture it and these are really needed by the body per se.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  But the–the racetam class in general which was first synthesized, I think in the early sixties or late fifties, were synthesized from GABA.  So GABA, the neurotransmitter–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Is the only universally calming or inhibitory neurotransmitter, all the rest sort of, you know, are excitatory, inhibitory depending on which circuit they’re in specifically–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  But GABA is always is inhibitory, always making cells less likely to fire.  And–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  GABA has this sort of very characteristic structural ring called the pyrrolidine ring and all of the racetams have this ring structure kept intact and so initially they were synthesized from a natural compound, if you will, GABA.  Nowadays, of course, they’re synthesized and piracetam was the first one.  It’s has the best study.  It has the longest story, the safety, and such it really why we picked it for the truBrain 1.0.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Any racetam I experimented with, I mean, actually at the truBrain ingredients where sort of a personal experimentation path for many–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Many years before Chris Thomson and I came together to create truBrain the company and then you know, now–now there’s 20 or 30 people sort of always working, you know, everything from supply chain to research on–on new blends.  But–but way back when I was just still have self-experimentation and giving stuff to friends and family and any racetam I tried and any racetam has a very short window effect, like 90 minutes or less–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And it’s also anxiolytic, more calming than most of the racetams and for me it was too calming.  It made me feel almost blue, you know, almost like–like I had no energy.  So because it didn’t act very long because it was sort of little bit anxiolytic, too anxiolytic–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right, too calming.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  We–we, yeah, we–we, or piracetam initially, and then oxiracetam is a very similar compound in terms of effect to piracetam.  They’re probably the two racetams that are the most similar and the biggest difference is that oxiracetam tastes sweet–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  While piracetam tastes like battery acid.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Got it.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And so when we–when we–substantiated truBrain as a drink, as a liquid format, which we call think drinks.  This little 1 oz tear off packets, the–the first iteration of the think drinks were piracetam-based and have a sort of, you know, energy drink flavor–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  The sort of bitter, weird, chemically flavor–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And I was also drawing a hard line.  I–I did not want us to include artificial sweeteners.  I didn’t want us to include too much sugar and those are hard things to do with horrible tasting things and we managed to make an okay flavor even with piracetam.  And then in–in the truBrain formulations, we always have it sort of a day format, I’m gonna boost our turbo, it’s a little bit different for those extra long or you know, extra week–weekend days or something where you need a little extra boost.  And we made the–the boost flavor of the drinks oxiracetam-based and the flavor was actually good.  It actually tastes fairly palatable and so we’re switching over time over the next few weeks, all over the drinks of the think drink formats are gonna be oxiracetam-based because the flavor is just so much better.  It’s also a bit more soluble.  I think oxi is one of those ones that’s both fat and water-soluble and ani–aniracetam’s fat-soluble and piracetam is water-soluble.  So I think oxi gets us both of those.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Now regarding the oxiracetam, I don’t think there are many research studies like you mentioned as piracetam.  What’s your take on that and do you feel like it’s–if it was studied as much as piracetam you’d have the same kind of results?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I think you would because subjectively, it’s very, very similar and the molecules are very similar, too, you know, like–like some the–some of the racetams are little bit unusual in configuration and the effects are very different.  The best example is probably levetiracetam which has a brand name Keppra, and it’s actually an anticonvulsant, a seizure drug.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Ah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And it does not feel like taking piracetam or oxi or ani or per any racetam or–or anything else.  Those are all gently supporting attention.  We which think there’s a–an acetylcholine, you know, because of how it makes you feel checked in and visually–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Sort of attending but Keppra or levetiracetam makes you sort of sedated.  It’s do–it’s doing what a–a seizure drug does to try to make the brain less likely to fire.  So similar molecules, same derivation but very different effects.  So we’re–we’re in the nootropics space operating in all these, you know, supporting compounds we think it’s gonna improve your cognition, your memory, your attention, your learning, but we still don’t 100% know and you know one other things that truBrain is trying to do that’s a little bit different I think for most, you know, supplement or nutraceutical companies–is we’re trying to–we–we can’t be a–a big farm.  We can’t drop ten million dollars on a, you know–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Clinical trial.  That’s just not the space for it.  We don’t have the money.  We’re still a startup, you know, 2 years in.  It’s still, you know, a little lean.  We–we don’t have vast, vast amounts of money to do huge amounts of research but what we can do is say, look, everything we’re putting in these blends has decades of safety and efficacy in the literature, so we’re making good choices for you.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Sort of the–the curation play if you will and then secondarily we can actually do novel research on this blended compounds and sort of look at the actual brain effects that are being supported by truBrain and that’s the pace where we’re really sort of, you know, putting a stake in the ground to try to determine what the brain effects are of many of these nootropics.  So–

Baris Harvey:   You think that–that using something like a truBrain while–and of course, this would be something that you would have to test and be–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Baris Harvey:  Really save in doing so, but doing something like where we talked about the EEG and the–and the testing your brain and training it, could you think that this would enhance it by using–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah, I do actually.

Baris Harvey:  Supplements by truBrain.  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah, piracetam certainly.  I mean, some of the things in truBrain also have some neurotransmitter effects.  The tyrosine is a precursor for dopamine which is learning and salient–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Signal.  The choline in truBrain is a precursor for acetylcholine involved with memory attention.  Piracetam appears to work broadly and help cells be able to–sort of flexible and the mitochondria works better for more energy.  But in general it looks like it helps things work more piracetam per se.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know, a lot of the work we have done with testing the blend, testing truBrain is looking at EEG effects of people’s brains on versus off truBrain–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And I’ve done this, you know, with a little population of convenience, some interns.  We brought in–last year we brought in 25 stock traders from New York City and did a double-blind placebo-controlled version of on task activity.  They were doing training simulators and I’ve also done several case studies on individual people who, you know, took truBrain or did a baseline brain map and then took the truBrain for a few weeks then a baseline again.  And in all cases I’m seeing the same EEG changes.  There’s increases of fast alpha which is sort of a flow state rhythm and–as well as low beta which is sort of a visual attention and concentration and memory and things.  In the parietal and temporal lobes, so the areas involved with visualization and memory and drafting your attention are all slightly enhanced we think.  You know, it’s exciting to be doing this research with truBrain which is why I’m am working with the company because they–they do have this science first focus unlike, you know, any other supplement of the company that I’ve, you know, heard about.  But you know, it is still early on in spite of some these compounds having decades and decades of, you know, literature on their safety and efficacy.  You know, no big company has spent billions or millions determining how magnesium works in the brain per se.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know, because they can’t make money on patenting magnesium.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  So they don’t.  So, you know, I do feel that we’re–we’re adding some value to the space and our existing user base of truBrain subscribers, they’re getting the benefit of the stuff because we do iterate.  We do make subtle changes.  We improve ingredients, you know, so the folks who have been with us for the past 2 years have slowly been getting, you know, a better and better nootropic blend or stack as they, you know, continue to engage with our sort of cutting-edge blends.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  That make sense and I was actually surprised to not see in their–I wanted to get your take on this–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  It’s the compound PQQ because I know that’s one of those mitochondrial enhancing, even mitochondrial repairing compounds.  What’s your take on PQQ?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  My take is it’s too new to know much about.

Baris Harvey: Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:   And then you have to understand with truBrain specifically, we–we have to really balance what we’re putting in it with efficacy and dosages.  I mean, we couldn’t put a gram of every high end compound in there because that would either be–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Expensive.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  A double handle of fifty pills you wouldn’t wanna swallow–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Or too expensive.  And so the way most supplement companies finesse this is they put tiny, tiny, tiny amounts of buzzword compliant ingredients in the blend and then they hide the amount behind the word that says proprietary blends.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I know.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I was very anti–I mean, in–in–in the supplement world that’s called fairy dusting like, you know, Tinkerbell flying by and dusting your buttock.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And I–I made sure that–that was not our approach.  We’ve worked really hard so that the anti-snake oil, and that’s a very snake-oily thing to do.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, it–because oftentimes–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And so–

Baris Harvey:  You’re–you’re taking in a bunch of like rice flour.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah exactly or–or little, little tiny amounts but without knowing how much it is, you think you’re getting, you know, what’s–what’s a useful amounts of stuff–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Not therapeutic.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And so–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  It’s not therapeutic and truBrain, you know, capsule format definitely in some of the liquids, too, had to decide, well, you know, what are the ingredients and how much of each.  And I only have, you know, 7 or 8 ingredients in the product because of that.  Because to get enough of the racetams, enough magnesium, tyrosine and theanine, carnitine, you know, and other things.  We had to only have a handful of ingredients.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.  So I–so it was it–that was very much a strategic decision not to make every single, you know, interesting compound be part of our–our blend just because it was in the news or just because it, you know, one biohacker had been flogging it, you know, more aggressively than other.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And looking at here, I mean, I–I understand a lot of the nutrients there.  We have carnitine which is bringing fat to the mitochondria.  We have theanine that’s–that’s upregulating GABA.  What are the–the main, just to put it in layman’s terms so everyone gets it like with the truBrain, this product here we’re look–we’re talking about.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  What’s the main mechanism?  Is it more neurotransmitter?  Is it more mitochondrial?  What’s happening?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  It’s–it’s a mix.  It’s a mix.  I’ve really–I mean one other things you’ll find if you dig into the nootropics space, all these self-hackers, there’s a lot of fairly broad variability in how people seem to respond to the racetams.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And so I did a lot of, you know, head-scratching and digging into the research and tried to figure out why that might be.  And the sort of heavy lifters if you will in truBrain are really the racetams, you know, piracetam or oxiracetam–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And the choline source, which is either CDP choline or alpha GPC.  And that’s the one-two punch of a good nootropic stack to start for most people.  But then everything else is modifiers if you will to sort of make those work better, or–

Baris Harvey:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  To sort of support other ancillary issues in attending and to–through them tyrosine helps bring up dopamine–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  So you feel like you’re more attending.  CDP choline not only helps with acetylcholine but helps the cell membrane build phosphatidylcholine so it’s really helping the membrane health.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Piracetam makes cell membranes much more fluid and flexible so signaling goes up.  Both magnesium and–and–and theanine are there to buffer the high end, the over arouse that you might get when you’re slamming down too much caffeine, you’re stressed out–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Because you’re, you know, you have too many balls in the air.  The carnitine again for mitochondrial health–you said.  And then DHEA in the–in the capsules, you know, fish oil initially was the product of DHEA.  Now we’re using an algae form so it’s a vegan-friendly form of DHEA.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  That’s just Omega 3 fatty acids and, you know, we–we cut out the middleman or the middlefish in this case.  We’re getting DHEA from algae, I mean, if you wanna get it from fish oil, fish get it from krill, and krill get it from algae.  So you’re just eating, sort of 3 steps up the food chain when you’re getting DHEA from fish.  And to avoid the mercury and also the environmental impact of fishing, and you know, the–the issues we have with deep sea water fatty fishes these days, we decided for many reasons to go after an algae form in the product.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  So, you know, it–it’s only 8 things in the capsules and, you know, 7 in the liquids because we didn’t include the Omega 3s in the liquid for shelf–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Stability reasons.  But we think that if you had to pick a starting place to get into this space and you do any research at all and you realize, okay, there’s all kinds of strange strings of letters and numbers and research chemicals and lots of conflicting information out there and not everything’s safes, not everything is truly a nootropic, you know, there’s a lot of drugs and other weird compounds out there.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know, this is–this is the good starting place, is really our goal.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And looking at this, if you’re gonna combine it in with diet.  So, you know, we have–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Supplements.  Supplements aren’t replacements.  They aren’t there to replace a great diet and lifestyle.  So let’s say, we have this and we have a good diet on board.  What does that good diet look?  Is there good amounts of fat in there?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Proteins?  Can you-can you go over–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  How that looks on a–on a practical standpoint?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I would say the broad strokes are decrease or eliminate sugars–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  In your diet, especially starches and grains are among the worst thing you can do as a human.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Totally agree.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah, I–I would say no grains, no starches, and no fruit sugars.  Maybe only get your starches from vegetable formats–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know, it’s a safe way to get–to get starches coming from veggies.  And I don’t mean potatoes and corn, I mean, you know–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Vegetables.  But otherwise, you know, it’s about getting enough fat.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  High-quality fats and enough Omega 3 fats and minimize Omega 6 fats, and beyond that, you’re fine.  I mean, you’re gonna get enough protein if you’re eating sufficient fat.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:   But I would say fat is the–is this essential nutrient.  If you don’t eat carbohydrates, you have no problem.  Your body adjusts to it.  If you don’t eat fats, you die.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And it sounds like your approach, Dr. Andrew, is you’re really going more to a ketogenic type of approach, is that correct?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Sort of.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Sort of?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I would call it sort of, you know, it’s primal or Paleo or keto–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  But I don’t think you actually need to be in ketogenesis to reap all the benefits.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I just think you need to avoid spiking your blood sugar.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And so I tell folks when they ask for specific numbers.  Okay, I don’t have any more than 20 grams of carbohydrates at any one sitting and keep your overall carbohydrates to about 75 grams a day, and if you’re an athlete to about a hundred or a little more a day.  But basically don’t spike your blood sugar ever and that keeps the insulin system sensitive and signaling, and then you don’t really have to worry about all of the inflammation issues, all the oxidation issues, all the insulinogenic problems that come.  I mean, a lot of the diseases of aging are insulinogenic.  You know, cancer, diabetes.  These things can all be sort of managed by managing high-quality fats and keeping sugars out of your, you know, system and this is true of not even the–the, you know, the big ones like cancer and diabetes, but there’s at least some evidence Alzheimer’s is mediated by blood sugar issues in the brain.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Really.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  A type 3 diabetes if you will.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And so, you know, it’s really, really critical to, in my opinion, avoid spiking your blood sugar and get enough–enough high-quality fuel sources that really means fat.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And I would say, you know, if you’re concerned about the quality of your fats and it’s too much to think about to do this kind of diet, then simply draw a hard line on carbohydrates and in the absence of any excess sugar, even low-quality fats won’t do that much damage, you know?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You could probably be eating highly saturated fats, nothing but bacon all day long and if you had no sugar coming in, I don’t think you would cause any issues with like, you know, heart or–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Anything else, or even cholesterol.  I–I think it’s really the sugar that’s that, you know.  In the 70s, we–we vilified fat.  Everything became, you know, low-fat diets–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  From that point and if you plot the low-fat diet incidents in this country and the incidence in metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and other problems like that, the curve overlap perfectly just about, so it was essentially a poor marketing message that got into public minds by a couple of, you know, poor doctors in the 70s and 80s and we’ve been paying for it ever since.  I mean, I think the cost of–on Western health has been in the billions because we’ve been avoiding fat.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And I think we made the wrong, you know, it was the wrong choice.  It was the wrong villain to paint and we would–we should have really pointed at sugar as–as the culprit and now we’re just starting to correct that, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the next 10-20 years we see a big drop in the metabolic syndrome that Westerners tend to have, so–

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, definitely.  So we–we went over like some of the training modalities, some of the chemical substances you can use such as the truBrain that you guys offer and know there’s some other things that the diet–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Baris Harvey:  I know that one thing that we talked about before was possible recovering from–from different disorders.  But what about brain injury?  So for example, I play college football.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Baris Harvey:  I get hit in the head way too often.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Baris Harvey:  It’s probably not making me any better–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  It’s not, yeah.  It’s not good for you.

Baris Harvey:  I’m pretty–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Just–just laying it out there.

Baris Harvey:  I’m pretty sure just–just, if I grab the computer and shook it around, it probably wouldn’t fix things.  Things can probably can go wrong.  You–you have people that go in there and receive benefits, can you re-wire it, could you fix the problems that are caused by some of these–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I have worked–

Baris Harvey:  brain injuries?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  With–I have worked with traumatic head injuries before, close head injuries and things, you can make changes in biofeedback and neurofeedback, absolutely.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  It’s a longer road, you know.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Your–your–it’s not 20 sessions and you’re done.  It’s more like like, you know, 60, 100, 120 and you’re working on the individual things like the fatigue that shows up in the afternoon and some of the, you know, maybe if it’s–if it’s frontal damage and the executive function stuff.  It’s a little bit more of a slog through sort of dysregulated tissue and you have to work a little harder, you know, more sessions, longer, but yes, you absolutely can make pretty big changes in brains that have received some injury, but just for you, let me–let me give you some advice here.  In terms of the concussions or getting your–your bell rung–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Upon playing sports.  Getting a concussion, a mild concussion, or you know, having a mild injury like that, it’s not the worst thing in the world the first time.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  The danger comes from the next one.  You really need–because this is–there’s sort of inflammatory cascade in the brain and everything gets sort of, you know, inflamed and swollen and the damage that can then be caused is greater.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And so, I forget–I forget the number of weeks is but I think it’s like 4 or 5 weeks after a–a concussion, that’s the danger window.  It’s at least 3 weeks long.  So, really–

Baris Harvey:  Wow.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  After getting even a mild concussion–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You should not expose yourself to risk of impact for another few weeks.

Baris Harvey:  It’s funny because the concussion protocol, really if you have a concussion that they often do in sports especially football–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Baris Harvey:  Because I’ve had team mates that have concussions, and you’re supposed to sit out for at least 1 week but then of course next week you’re totally fine.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Right.

Baris Harvey:  And–and so–so that–that’s a scary thing.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  But your brain is still swollen–

Baris Harvey:  Exactly.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And that hit you get in practice 2 weeks later–

Baris Harvey:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  That doesn’t like concussion, just did more damage than–than the concussion did, one that did you received.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, it’s almost like, like breaking–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And that–I mean, this is long-term major, major, major damage if you’re a sports person, you know–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  If you’re a fall guy receiving hits, you know, twice a week for many years.  You are going to be impaired–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  In 20 years significantly and you’re probably gonna have some very, very major drawbacks.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And I think that’s a really–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  If you receive–uh-hmm?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, I think that’s a really important thing that I wanna just highlight there, Doc.  I think that we’re seeing a silent epidemic with a lot of these contact sports with football and I want you to comment–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  This in a sec that, you know, people out there, league officials are saying, “Hey, it’s not a big deal,” but these–these guys, they’re–they’re bigger, they’re faster, they’re stronger, they’re hitting–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yup.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Each other harder, and we have to remember, people listening about half of your brain are immune cells.  These microglia cells–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  That when you get turned on, it’s very hard to turn them off.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Exactly.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So I want you to touch upon the–the microglia, the immune cells and also about this–the epidemic of these athletes and the head injuries.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Can you talk about that?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Well, I mean, it’s really–it’s–it’s–it’s true, it’s real.  There is an epidemic of teen athletes who then end up sort of impaired in college and–and, you know, professional athlete who are then impaired in later life.  I would say the NFL is very aware of this.  Yes, coaches have been saying, “Not a big deal.  Not a big deal.”  But for the past few years, there have been studies showing that. “Okay, actually it’s a big deal.”  The NFL has a, you know, business incentives to not recognize it as a big deal.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Absolutely.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And in fact there’s this organization that sort of helps players sue for money–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  When they’ve been injured and I believe, I–there’s a–there’s a football player whose name escapes me who actually is an adviser to a brand new neurofeedback company that does some really nice, you know, technology and I–he was giving a talk at the big neurofeedback conference called ISNR this last fall and he said, “Okay, look.  In the NFL when a player sues, the NFL organization just delays, delays, delays, delays, and the strategy of delaying for years until the person dies.”  Because these guys with head injuries die young.  You know, die at 45 and 50 and 60, not 80.  And so there’s been a strategy and how.  It’s just simply delaying those legal battles until the person dies.  And you know, I–I would–I would argue that the NFL is–is being forced to face the massive epidemic of head injuries and this is being discussed, you know, at–at high school sports levels, too.  They’re talking about maybe making college a–a touch or flag sport at the-at the high school level or even college level.  So I think they we’re becoming more and more aware of what’s happening with repetitive head injury like that, but I don’t think it’s yet, like you said, yet fully gotten into the, you know, acceptance because if a person gets a concussion playing football, they should set out for a few weeks and that’s not happening, right?  So–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And also the conventional responses, “Oh, put on some sunglasses and sit in the dark.”  Where it’s like, “Hey, like, maybe we can do some high dose, you know, nutrients to help attenuate the inflammation?  Maybe we can add in some curcumin or some turmeric or some fish oil.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yup.  Yeah, very possibly.  Very possibly.  I mean, of course, we’re now in the medical space but there’s lots of things that are anti-inflammatory.  There’s lots of things that can be done.  And I think in general when you talk about the brain, when you finally deal with an issue, you nee to, you know, be aware of the idea that the more interventions you bring in, generally the faster changes happen.  So there should be a diet intervention and a neurofeedback intervention and anti-inflammatories, and and maybe specific drugs to shut down the inflammatory cytokines and post-concussion states.  So, you know, many things are often useful to bring to bay are not simply, you know, monotherapy is when talking about the brain.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.  Definitely.  It–it’s funny because if Ali were to–to break their leg, you went in just like, “Okay, you’re–you’re about good, run on it, and then, you know, jump on it again.”

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Baris Harvey:  And all of a sudden, yeah. And then the second time comes around it’s much, much worse or it’s very sensitive but because we can’t directly see it–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  We can’t see it.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right, exactly.

Baris Harvey:  People push it under the rug.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And this is also why we don’t, you know, treat people have mental illnesses very positively.  “Oh, you know, you’re depressed, get over it.”

Baris Harvey:  Exactly.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Well, if you have a broken arm–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You wouldn’t get over it, it would be like, “Hey, let’s take care of you.”  But in terms of, you know, dramatic ADHD or anxiety or PTSD or depression or even just mild, “I’m having a day.”  You know, there’s this lack of understanding that there’s real physiology behind that and that you can do things and, you know, just like you have oral hygiene, brush and floss your teeth.  You kinda need mental hygiene.  You kinda need to be developing a meditation practice or, you know, other, you know, kinds of things to keep your brain health up, so to speak.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I think what you just hit there, doc, but–with the meditation.  So we get people at home that get a little bit confused with how to meditate or what the best way is.  There’s a cool app–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Out there called Headspace which kinda really makes meditation really simple for people.  Check that out on the–at the iTunes store.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Sure.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  What’s your–what’s your take on meditation?  Like Meditation 101, t his is my first time doing it–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yup.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  How do I do it?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Okay, so yeah, meditation, you know, what it’s not is getting to a mind to a blank state.  Folks often think that, “Oh, you know, meditation, it’s about being blank-minded, about having no thoughts.”  It’s not the goal nor is it the practice.  It’s true that as you learn to do it and become better at meditating, your mind does become a little more spacious, but the practice of meditation is actually attention-training and by that I mean you pick some object, some–something static like the sensation on your upper lip as your breath passes it or your belly rising and falling with your breath or so–a spot of color in the wall or the sound of, I don’t know, car passing by out the window.  Whatever it is, you pick some stimulus and you hold your attention on it.  So I would–I would say as a definition that attention is paying attention–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Mmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Sorry, I would say as a definition mindfulness is paying attention in a specific way to the present moment on purpose and operationally, the active meditation mindfulness is simply picking something to focus on and focusing on it, holding it in your attention and then when you notice that you’ve gotten distracted, you know, you have a mind, so it starts to fantasize or dream or wish or want, whenever you notice you’ve drifted away from your focus as in the meditation object, you put down the distraction and bring your attention back to that object and–and that is simply the rep of meditation is, “Oh, I’ve gotten distracted, back to the object, back to watching my breath or back to watching, you know, a spot of color or thinking of a sound or something.”  It doesn’t really matter what the object is per se, and if you think about sort of classic forms of meditation, historical forms, then you can kinda correlate or, you know, a translate modern versus ancient techniques and they’re all just attention-training.  So focusing on the present time, sort of like a fluid, you know, watching the breath rise and fall.  That’s just present time awareness or Vipassana classically.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Also known as insight meditation.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Samatha which is single point awareness, would pick a more–a very narrow focus, and where Vipassana is helping you train up the flexibility of your attention.  Samatha or single point awareness helping you train the stability, the–the precision, the focus aspect of your attention.  Now the classic technique called Metta is loving-kindness and that’s about picking a feeling tone, an emotional state that you’re focusing on.  But in all of these cases, you’re really just sort of training your, you know, stability, flexibility, concentration of your attending resources and getting more control over what is normally for many people more of a reactive process internally and making yourself, you know, the–the phrase I use is more intention, less momentum–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Internally.  But it’s not getting your mind to a blank state.  That comes a little bit as you learn to do it but the rep, the practice is attending, noticing when you’ve distracted and then re-attending.  It’s not as you have to sit in, you know, an ashram for 6 months at a time to get the benefits here.  20 minutes a day is probably sufficient to reap the vast majority of benefits that are showing up in the literature for–for meditation, and those benefits start to show up within a few weeks.  So, you know, 15-20 minutes a morning, in a few weeks you’re gonna have a different brain.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And when you do it, doc, are you just sitting there and breathing and just focusing on the breath or–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah, when I do, I am–and the way that I often teach, and if folks go to the Alternatives Brain Institute website, I have a cheat sheet on there with this instruction.  But what I do is I set a timer for 20 minutes.  It plays three bells at the beginning and the end, and one bell at five minutes and I sit upright with my back unsupported, so nice and balanced, I’m not gonna fall sleep or anything, and I watch a very narrow sensation of breath crossing my upper lip.  I don’t follow the sensation into the body.  I simply feel breath tickling the little hairs in the upper lip, you know, and watch that very narrow, very precise point, and I do that for about 5 minutes, and then the single bell rings.  When that bell rings I switch my attention to a more open focus of Vipassana where I’m watching the rise and fall of the belly.  And what I often do for the belly or for Vipassana is I’ll sort of breathe in, breathe out, and then count that cycle one.  And then again, holding my attention on the sensation of breathing, I breathe in, I breathe out, two.  And I continue that as long as I haven’t gotten distracted but the moment I notice I’m, you know, dreaming, wishing, planning, fantasizing, getting hungry, whatever it is, I go, “Oops,” I put down the distraction, go back to the breath and I start my count over again.  And it’s rare that I can get to 10 by the end of about, you know, 20 minutes of meditation.  So, it’s–it’s work, you know, it’s–it’s effortful control of the attention, that’s really what I’m trying to accomplish, not getting to any particular state.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  That makes a lot of sense.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  That makes a lot of sense.  Baris, do you have any questions you wanted to follow up with?

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, I wanted to redirect to one specific question.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Baris Harvey:  And I–I don’t know if you’ve done any–anything with this but there might be a possibility being that you are in California, correct?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yes.

Baris Harvey:  So I wanted to get a quick take and I know there are some stigma in–in political views behind the use of–of cannabis.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Baris Harvey:  But have you had the chance to measure that maybe what’s happening at the time cannabis is being used with the work you’ve done?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  It’s funny we’re actually about to launch a big research study here at the Alternatives Brain Institute looking at cannabis users.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  One of the really strange things we discovered in neurofeedback–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Is that just a few sessions of neurofeedback abolishes the tolerance to cannabis.  It’s just gone.  Like done, like–like you’re a teenager again with your first joint.  And a lot of people in California, Southern California especially are, you know, hard-core recreational, you know–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Users.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Mmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And I tell them, “Hey, be really careful, we’re now returning your brain.  You’re gonna have no tolerance.”  “Ah, I don’t believe, I don’t believe, I don’t believe, you have an expert, leave me alone.”  And they come back the next day, “Oh, man, you weren’t kidding.”

Baris Harvey:  Oh, yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know, so this sort of making the brain more flexible, more plastic, it really rolls back all the tolerance you’ve–you’ve acquired.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  But yes, I have looked a little bit of brain activity.  When you smoke weed, your brain goes into alpha and alpha is used for lots of things in the brain.  There’s really 4 or 5 different types of alpha functionally.  But we think of it in general as an idling rhythm.  You know, the other cars in the driveway, it’s running great but not going anywhere.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  If you’re trying to be in neutral, that’s wonderful, you know.  But if you’re trying to drive down the highway, not so good.  And so with your eyes closed, the brain also produces lots of alpha especially in the visual cortex because there’s no input, it’s idling cortex.  When you open your eyes, that alpha should get suppressed and be replaced with beta as your processing stuff coming in through the eyes.  If you stay in alpha mode when you open your eyes, we call that inattentive ADHD.  But it looks identical to me subjectively for folks that are long-term chronic stoners.  That–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-huh.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Like a half a beat slow, a little checked out, slow detention, hard to shift into gear.  The brain looks the same.  I can’t really tell the difference between an inattentive, you know, ADHD person and a long-term chronic stoner–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Without asking them, “How long have you been like this?”  Because if they’ve been like this since birth then they’re inattentive ADHD, and if they’ve been like this for the past 3 years they’ve been smoking pot, then it’s an acquired issue from cannabis.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  So, you know, I–I do see some negatives in that way of producing a, you know, an executive function sort of deficit, almost an acquired ADHD a little bit, in many people.  But I also think there’s many, you know, there’s good reasons people use it as well.  I don’t vilify the substance per se, and I certainly don’t vilify people’s use of substances.  People have used substances to alter brain since we have had brains.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  You know?

Baris Harvey:  It’s part of being human.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah, it’s about how you get control.  You know, I–I haven’t mentioned this in the podcast yet but we have another half of alternatives that does non 12 step outpatient work.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And we actually teach people to drink.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah,

Dr. Andrew Hill:  So if you’ve been somebody who’s been abstaining from alcohol because you don’t think you can control your behavior, we actually will help you reintroduce it in a structured fashion and get control of behavior.  We haven’t done that in California for cannabis because it’s not legal recreationally for cannabis.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  But you know, there’s some things you can’t abstain that are hard sometimes to have a relationship with.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Food is one.  You know, you can’t abstain from food.  I would never say, “Oh, you’re an addict,” you know, because you’re eating food.  No, no, no, no, no.  You got a problem with your relationship with a substance.  It can be food.  It can be sex.  It can be cannabis.  It can be alcohol.  It can be anything.  Your use of the substance or whatever it is, as my business partner here Dr. Kern says your magic elixir–doesn’t really matter what the elixir is that you’re using to alter yourself.  If you’re using it to avoid, you know, handling your–your reality, that’s a problem.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  If you’re using it to enjoy yourself at the end of the day, you know, I think it’s–that’s a human thing to do to some extent and I–I think that we need to not, you know, brand you as an addict just because you have a substance, you know, routine as long as the relationship with that substance is not compromised.  And you know, cannabis, yes, it has some drawbacks, but it’s–as substances that humans use go, not all that dramatic.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I mean, your judgment is much less impaired on cannabis than alcohol, let’s say.  You know, no one’s ever died of liver failure from cannabis.  In fact, I don’t think anyone’s ever died from smoking cannabis, period.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, exactly.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And how many people died last week from smoking, alcohol?  You know, it’s–it’s a fairly dramatic difference.  So yes, I–I do think there’s things that can be done.  You know, but–but I wouldn’t worry too much about the–the healthy, moderate recreational or medical use of these things.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I don’t think they’re necessarily anti-brain health.  It’s when you get outta control either in the amounts sort of changing your brain dramatically or you get outta control in why you’re using them.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.  Why that would be–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  To escape pain, boredom, you know–

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, that–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  That’s–that’s a problem.

Baris Harvey:  That–that–that–that’s a big issue, it’s the why.  I–I guess one more follow-up question.  Would it also be due to like the–because there’s so many different breeds of it and I know, in today’s age, people like stoners, they just enjoy that kind of idle feeling whereas some people want more pain or more–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Uh-hmm.

Baris Harvey:  Help with.  Maybe some of the things I’ve mentioned before like the anxiety and ADHD maybe that’s–for some people, that might just be a small-term solution.  Could it also be some of these that they breed, they breed in a lot higher THC content than they did before in the past?  In the ratio of–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  What’s your–Yeah, and–and you know, this is a big deal.  I mean, I was having my technician, my lead tech here go through the literature on cannabis to help design our new study and a lot of researches on the 70s and it shows, okay, you know, the brain activity effects of smoking pot lasts about 40 minutes, and we look into this data and it just didn’t make sense based on what we know about pot and people’s subjective experience, and we dug a little bit deeper and most of the studies in the 70s use cannabis with about 2% THC.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I don’t know if you’re aware but in–in the average dispensary now–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  15 or 20, isn’t it?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah, that’s the average, is like 15–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  But there’s been plenty of high end 20, 21, 22% strains.  So we’re at the point now where the average recreational user can use pot that is 10 times as much THC–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  As the–as like our parents did, let’s say in the 70s.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And you know, it’s much more prevalent because if you were a pothead in the 70s you were still kind of a fringy person.  And nowadays, you might be a Grandma who has glaucoma, you know?

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  It’s not necessarily as the same relationship with society as it did, you know, 40 years ago.  So yes, major differences, we don’t really fully understand I think what’s happening with all these new strains and the effects in the brain, so Alternatives is definitely gonna do some work this spring on trying to quantify what those changes are in the brain.  And we’re gonna do full head EEGs, while people are smoking weed–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  To see what happens and see how we can affect their tolerance and try to have them, you know, do several weeks of neurofeedback to look in how their–their sense of being altered changes because, you know, for the most part, it’s a pretty innocuous drug.  It does seem to have some drawbacks the way people use it–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Specifically smoking.  You know, smoking’s not the healthiest thing in the world.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  No matter what you’re smoking.

Baris Harvey:  Exactly.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  It does look like, you know–

Baris Harvey:  Burning something, right?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah, the carbon and coal and tar, whatever else, I mean I call the tar and other resins, now there’s something in cannabis that appears to be anti-carcinogenic even when you smoke it.  So it both causes the lung changes you get from burning things and re–and reduces the risk of them turning into cancerous cells.  So it’s a bit of ahead.  So it’s not as bad as smoking nicotine or, you know, anything else.  But it’s still not great.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yeah, right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And so, you now, talking to a dispensary here and they were like, “Yeah, man.”  You know, some–some users can only go after the absolute highest and most strong strain because they’ve been using, for like–

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  The medical reasons.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  For so long that they have incredibly high tolerance.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Tolerance, right.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And you know from my perspective as a substance abuse professional, getting someone to reset their tolerance is key in helping them learn to become moderate in use.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah, that seems like the–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  And so we’re trying to validate this new technique for dropping this, you know, new technique for dropping tolerance for cannabis in the future.

Baris Harvey:  Yeah.  That would be–that would be awesome, because then you’re gonna have someone, like you said, too, smoking isn’t good, like if they can somehow, you know, maybe vaporize it and then have–if they had–went back to I guess the quote would be being a rookie again or lower their tolerance–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah.

Baris Harvey:  And then you’re now gonna have–

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Maybe you smoke 10% as much and you know, we get, you know, one-tenth of the smoke-inhaled or whatever, you know?

Baris Harvey:  Exactly.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  So–

Baris Harvey:  Exactly.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Well, excellent, doc, and we really appreciate the interview here.  There’s some great information for all of our listeners.  Can you give us some websites at where our listeners can go to get more about you?  I think you also have a free trial on–on the truBrain products.  Can you talk about that?

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Yeah, sure.  It’s the truBrain.  T-R-U brain dot com.  We have 2 products, the original which is capsule.  It’s a regimen.  You take it twice a day and it’s sold on a subscription because it works better and better the longer you do it.  And then we have drinks, little 1 oz liquid drinks for folks that didn’t wanna swallow pills.  The other companies I’m involved with, Alternatives Behavioral Health.  The best place for your listeners to check that out is probably and you can sort of get more information about neurofeedback and EEGs there, about what I do.  And the folks who wanna check me out on social media, ask questions, you know, give me a hard time, whatever you feel like.  AndrewHillPhD at Twitter is my Twitter handle, @andrewhillphd.  So you can find me on Twitter, probably the easiest one to remember, and I’m happy to answer questions about brain health, neurofeedback, meditation.  You know, I’m sort of, I–I guess I’m the science guy who’s a brain hacker in the space now.  Most of the other brain hackers or biohackers out there are really interesting guys who’ve done a lot of work on themselves but–

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  I think I’m kinda coming out of from the other perspective of doing the science validation, and I’m–I’m always happy to hear what people’s, you know, own bio hacking or, you know, brain fitness strategies and successes are.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And Dr. Hill, thank you so much.  We appreciate your time and everyone listening, feel free and go to to get this episode as soon as it airs.  Thanks, Doc.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Great.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Appreciate it!

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Thanks, guys.  Appreciate it!  Nice talking to you.

Baris Harvey:  Thank you.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Thanks.  Bye now.

Dr. Andrew Hill:  Take care.




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