Why You Keep Getting Sick, and How to Boost Your Immune System | Part 2
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Outside of taking antibiotics for an infection or Tylenol for a fever, most people don’t have many alternatives for how to boost their immune system. There are many immune-boosting supplements out there. My goal is to mention a few supplements that you can use to increase your overall immune function without any side effects. With a strong immune system, you are less likely to come down with a cold, even if you’re around others who are sick. These supplements can also be used in lower doses to even help get your immune system ready for the stressful holiday season.
Before you use any of the suggested supplements, I recommend you go back and read part 1 of this post (“Why You Keep Getting Sick, and What You Can Do about Those Flu Symptoms!”) for the foundational lifestyle and dietary advice to boost your immune system. You will need to combine this with the right supplements. When combined they have synergistic effects and cost you fewer sick days and, at the same time, improve your quality of life.
All of the supplements recommended below are products that I use personally for myself, my family, and my patients. For easy access, I will provide links to the products in our healthy living store.
1. Vitamin D:
The single best thing you do to boost your immune system is make sure your vitamin D levels are between 60-100 ng/ml. Your body can produce its natural antibiotic (cathelicidin), which can help your body gobble up intruders. It can also help balance the immune seesaw above which can help your immune system function better (i.e., increase T-regulator cells).
A 25 OH-D test can be very helpful to assess your levels. I recommended anywhere between 10, 000-20,000 IU per day for my patients in the winter months, (which is what your body can make in the sun normally). You need to get a test to find out what your levels are so you can dose according to your body’s needs. Supplement with liquid vitamin D3. I prefer the liquid emulsified versions best (4). Vitamin D2 is plant based and is not recommended because it doesn’t increase 25 OH-D levels as fast and is not typically found in food naturally, like vitamin D3.
Vitamin D3 can be used acutely for 3 days at very high doses to help up-regulate immune function. The vitamin D protocol has been used by European doctors for many years and is also very safe.
- Take 1,000 IU per pound of body weight for 3 days. If you are 100 pounds, this would be 100,000 IU; or if you are 200 pounds, this would be 200,000 IU.
- After the 3rd day, cut the dose in half for 3 more days. Days 4-6 for a 2o0-pound individual, (100,000 IU); or for a 100-pound individual (50,000 IU). Discontinue the vitamin D after the 6th day.
- I recommend liquid emulsified vitamin D drops that contain 2,000 IU per drop, which makes it very easy to use high doses without having to take any pills.
- I do not recommend high-dose vitamin D3 therapy with infants 0-1 year old as they should be receiving vitamin D through the mother’s breast milk. These mothers should be on the protocol themselves if acutely ill to ensure adequate vitamin D for the infant.
- Contraindication for the high-dose vitamin D3 protocol follow: patients with kidney disease, sarcoidosis, or high blood-calcium levels or infants 0-1 year old.
I recommend adding in 75,000 IU of vitamin A and 6 grams of vitamin C at the first onset of sickness. This protocol packs a potent punch and should do a great job at up-regulating your immune system.
2. Think twice when you’re about to use antibiotics
Sometimes antibiotics may be necessary if you have a bacterial infection that is out of control. The problem is that antibiotics don’t work on viruses, and they don’t have any effect on strengthening your immune system. I see many people going on antibiotics year after year when in most situations it was a virus causing the infections to begin with. The action items in this post actually strengthen your immune system and make your body more resistant to even coming down with these infections to begin with.
3. Avoid the flu vaccine:
The Cochrane database did a comprehensive meta-analysis on the flu vaccine and found that
“Influenza vaccines have a modest effect in reducing influenza symptoms and working days lost. There is no evidence that they affect complications, such as pneumonia, or transmission.” (1)
According to research, we know that only 10 out of the 200 flu strains are even potentially protected by a flu vaccine. Said another way, you still have a 90% chance of getting a flu-like illness even with a flu vaccine. The downside is that the majority of flu vaccines do contain 25 mcg of mercury, which is the second most toxic compound on this planet, right behind uranium (1). With so many healthy and safe natural options out there, a flu vaccine would be the last option on my list to use.
This can be a powerful antibiotic and antiviral for preventing illness and can also be used even after you get sick. Remember, antibiotics can’t touch viruses, so it is nice to have a compound you can use preventively. You can also use colloidal silver therapeutically.
Let’s say you were around a bunch of sick people this holiday season, and you wanted to prevent any bugs from potentially being passed to you, this could definitely do the trick. It can be excellent for sore throats, where you can use a spray form and spray the silver directly on the infected area. An acute dosage is 1 tsp 3 time per day. It’s very difficult overdose on this product.
5. Herbal Medicines
Herbs like Echinacea, goldenseal, Andrographis, and Astragalus can be excellent to increase your overall resistance to flu and bacteria that are out to make us sick. Many studies have done testing on these herbs. These herbs are most effective when they are used at the early onset of a cold. The most active properties of these herbs are present in the “roots,” yet many supplements only contain the flower or the stems. These herbs are shown to up-regulate antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial activity in the body. They’re also shown to increase white blood cell activation as well as natural killer cell activity.
6. Adaptogenic Herbs
Herbs like ashwagandha, rhodiola, Panax ginseng, and licorice are excellent adrenal tonics. Most of the stress in your body is managed by your adrenal glands; this includes norepinephrine levels, cortisol levels, and sex hormone production. The more stress you’re under, the more your body is pushed into a catabolic state. This is where your body is breaking down faster than it can build up. These herbs can help push your body into an anabolic state, where your body can heal faster by reducing cortisol and up-regulating balanced levels of sex hormones
7. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is highly concentrated in your immune cells and can be easily depleted when your body goes into a fever. Upper respiratory infection as well as immune suppression are commonly connected to vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C also can help buffer the detrimental effects of free radicals. This is where your DNA is damaged. Vitamin C can also help boost the body’s level of natural killer cells, your body’s first level of defense. These cells help fight off and destroy any invaders that are trying to enter the body’s terrain, similar to the special forces in the military (2).
Zinc is an important trace mineral involved in over 100 enzymatic processes in the body. Immune suppression and infection are also linked to zinc deficiency. Zinc can also help improve your enzyme activity and immune-cell function. Your thymus gland, where immune cells mature and are released into circulation, strongly relies upon zinc for optimal function. When your body has less-than-optimal levels of zinc, your thymus function is decreased (3).
9. Coconut Oil
This is a great antiviral and antibacterial compound. Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which is a natural substance that is actually found in breast milk, too. Research has shown that it can kill various forms of strep and staph bacteria. A few tablespoons of coconut oil per day is good, even if you aren’t sick.
10. Reishi Mushroom Extract
Reishi mushroom (Ganoderma lucidum) has been used for thousands of years and is known as a super herb in both China and Japan. Reishi has immune-boosting, antiviral, anticancer, and liver-protective qualities to name a few (5). It is one the most studied of all the mushrooms and contains specific polysaccharides that are clinically proven to reestablish white blood cell levels.
Reishi mushrooms also contain other immune-boosting compounds known as ganoderminc acids or triterpenes. Triterpenes are proven to inhibit viruses, including HIV, by up to 50% (6, 7). If your are going to use reishi to enhance your immune system, you want to make sure you are using a reishi product from a reputable company that has at least a 10% polysaccharide and 4% triterpene content for maximal benefit.
11. Astragalus Extract
Astragulus root is a potent herb used in traditional Chinese medicine. It has many immune-boosting benefits, including, enhancing the growth of spleen cells to help destroy foreign invaders and the up-regulation of natural killer cells (the first line defense of the immune system). It also has antiviral properties.
Astragalus can increase antibody production, including IgM and IgE ab. It can also help increase mucosal immunity by boosting nasal secretions of IgA and IgG as well (8). Astragalus and reishi can work synergistically together and are safe immune-boosting compounds to take on a daily basis. These herbal medicines are the first thing I grab out of my medicine cabinet if I am feeling under the weather.
Combined with the diet and lifestyle principles from my first post, I hope these recommendations help improve your chances of not getting sick this winter season.
- Consume at least 0.5 g of protein per pound of body weight every day. This will ensure that you are getting your minimum daily intake of protein.
- Vitamin D: at a minimum 2000 IU per day should be used. I recommend getting a 25 OH-D test to see if higher levels are needed.
- Vitamin C: 1000 mg per day.
- Adaptogenic herbs: 1 gram of ashwaganda, 600 mg of rhodiola, 500 mg of eleuthero.
- Immuno Supreme: 2 capsules with breakfast.
Acute Protocol (Take at first sign of sickness!)
- Echinicea Angustifolia tincture: 1 tsp 3-4x per day.
- Epson salt bath: 2x per day to the point of sweating.
- Vitamin C: 2,000 mg 3-4x per day.
- Astragalus: 2 capsules every hour.
- Silver: 1 tsp every hour.
- Immuno Supreme: 2 capsules every two hours.
- Reishi mushroom: 500 mg every hour.
- Ginger tea recipe.
- Vitamin D: follow the high-dose vitamin D protocol above for 6 days.
- Listen to your body and get some rest!
If you need more help to boost your immune system back on track, click here!
1. Jefferson T. Vaccines for preventing influenza in healthy adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010.
2. Vitamin C may affect lung infections. J R Soc Med. 2007 November; 100(11): 495–498.
3. Anuraj H Shankar and Ananda S Prasad. Zinc and immune function: the biological basis of altered resistance to infection1–3.
4. Bikle DD. Curr Osteoporos Rep. Vitamin D and immune function: understanding common pathways. 2009 Jul;7(2):58-63.
5. Nutr Cancer. 2010: Triterpenes from Ganoderma Lucidum induce autophagy in colon cancer.
6. Bioorg Med Chem Lett. 2011. Triterpene derivatives that inhibit human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication.
7. Lipids. 2001.Inhibitory effects of triterpenoids and sterols on human immunodeficiency virus-1 reverse transcriptase.
8. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007 . In vitro and in vivo immunomodulating and immunorestorative effects of Astragalus membranaceus.
How To Defeat The Stress Cycle This Coming New Year?
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
It’s that time of the year again where everyone is trying to conquer their New Year’s resolution. These resolutions range from:
- Losing weight
- Improving health
- Increasing energy
- Enhancing relationships
- More free time with family and friends
- Developing an exercise routine
On average, only about 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolution. If you are one of those people that want to be part of the 8% and improve their health in this coming year, then this article is perfect for you.
The “Stress Bucket”
Below is a picture I created called “the stress bucket.” This picture depicts how the cycle of stress accumulates over time and slowly starts to deteriorate your health. All of stress sum-mates (adds up) from all different areas of your life. It’s easy to see how a little bit of stress over a lot of different areas can add up in your stress bucket. Stress tends to accumulate in the following categories: physical stress, emotional stress, and chemical stress. Below are an example of a few common stressors that tend to affect the average person: If stress goes ignored your health will inevitably break down as you can see in the viscous cycle below.
This is the typical experience a medical doctor encounters with their average patient:
Prescription and over-the-counter drugs are notorious for causing mineral and vitamin deficiencies and putting an increased burden on the liver and kidneys. Many of these medications are also notorious for having side effects, as these side effects occur patients tend to go back to their doctors who prescribed more medications for the original side effects. As you can see in the picture above, this tends to be a vicious cycle where the root of the problem is never addressed and the stress in our stress bucket continues to overflow causing more and more symptoms eventually leading to disease.
There are many household chemicals including cleaners detergents soaps and personal care products that are loaded with toxins. One of the simplest things you can do to remove your toxic burden is to find safer household and personal hygiene products such as the soaps you use to clean your dishes, the sprays you used to clean your counter-tops and improving the quality of soaps and skincare you use on your body. Using the website www.EWG.org, is a great reference to refer to see if the personal care products you are using on your skin and hair are toxic. Your body absorbs more toxins and chemicals from your skin so the last thing you want to be doing is adding more chemicals to an already overburdened body.
The root cause of many health issues actually stem at an emotional level. People that are dealing with toxic relationships bad bosses, being surrounded by energy zombies and difficulty with children can have a tremendous weakening effect on the immune system. When the immune system is weak, our body’s natural force fields are lowered, this increases our chance of encountering an infection which can further weaken our adrenals and our immune system making us prone to a whole host of health issues down the road. Using simple techniques such as EFT or the body code can be very helpful to neutralizing these emotions at an energetic level. Feel free to Google these techniques for more information on them.
Many people’s diets actually consists of food that is toxic such as gluten, dairy products, legumes and refined sugar. These foods tend to be genetically modified loaded and loaded with pesticides and other chemicals that burden our detoxification systems. These foods are also known to be very inflammatory and can cause leaky gut issues as well. Especially when dealing with grains, these foods are very nutrient poor and actually rob nutrients from our body.
According to the World Health Organization, one of the biggest sources of heavy metals actually comes from our mercury amalgam fillings. Some people may know these referred as silver fillings but they are actually over 50% mercury. The next common source we see is from vaccines, mainly the flu vaccines. These vaccines are recommended on a yearly basis and if you look at the ingredient label on the back of the vaccines insert (ask the pharmacist for it) you’ll see it contain about 50 µg of thimerosal. Thimerosal is a preservative consisting of 50% ethyl mercury, one of the most toxic Mercury substances known to man. If you are trying to avoid getting sick this winter season there are many other natural alternatives that can boost and enhance your immune system without adding a significant toxic burden to your detoxification system. Please see previous blog post titled, “What to do when you get sick.”
Below is a great picture showing our body’s ability to adapt to stress. One interesting thing to note is that many people don’t go and see their doctor until phase 3. At this point, the symptoms have been going on for years and prescribing a medication does not do anything to help our body adapt. Medications usually work by blocking and or suppressing physiologic pathways while doing nothing to up-regulate the body’s ability to adapt to stress and express optimal health.
Click here for help in determining the underlying cause of your stress
To really address the underlying cause of why your body isn’t adapting properly is to go back and look in your stress bucket and see what areas of stress are starting to add up. As you start pulling the right stressors out of your stress bucket and supporting your diet, lifestyle, sleep and exercise your body will start to regain its ability to adapt. Many people need help to find out where to start and this is where it’s great to find a skilled functional medicine doctor who can figure out the best place to start while creating an individualized program for you.
Simple solutions to reduce your toxic load and help your body adapt to stress:
1. Eat whole foods
Organic, non-genetically modified, free range ideally fresh should be the staple of your diet. Buying things in bulk help reduce the price and buying vegetables frozen can be very helpful as well. It’s very important you make your health a priority and this is the first place to start.
2. Get a good water filter
Please see my partner page for excellent recommendations on some of the best filters out there. You can easily start with an affordable car top filter they can pull out pharmaceutical drugs, pesticides, bacteria, and heavy metals. This really does a lot to help decrease your toxic burden. Look here for an easy solution…
3. Indoor air tends to be very toxic
Getting high quality air filter can also help reduce your toxic burden. Look here for an easy solution.
Starting an exercise routine can be a great start. I recommend making a commitment that you know you can stick to such as working out three times a week for 30 to 45 minutes versus being overly ambitious and trying to work out every day for an hour. People that are very overly ambitious and can’t stick to their plan, tend to fold and stop altogether. You’re much better off setting a very easily achievable goal and once you’ve maintained it for a month then gradually increase your commitment.
If you are ready to get your health back this year, then click here to take the next step!
Healthy Digestion! How Much Fat and Protein Should I Be Eating?
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
How much fat do I need?
Your body has specific feedback loops that are intimately tied with satiety (feeling full). It’s interesting to know that fat and protein produce specific neurochemicals that make you feel full. Some of these neurochemicals are known as peptide YY, adiponectin, leptin, Ghrelin and CCK. These chemicals have an intimate feedback loop to the appetite centers of our brain. If you eat too many of these foods you will start to feel nauseous.
If you think back to some of the famous Pringles commercials of the 1990’s where they would say, “Once you pop, you can’t stop!” Or just think back to your college days, how many times do you remember eating a whole pizza to yourself ? It’s very easy to eat foods in excess that don’t produce a neurochemical signal to your brain telling you you’re full. The food industry knows this, and that is one of the reasons why they’ve taken most fats out of the food and added refined sugar and artificial sweeteners in their place. it’s wrong to even refer to these items as food, as Michael Pollan poetically puts it, they are more like “Edible food like substances.”
When you wake up in the middle of the night craving something; do you find your self craving a grass fed steak with asparagus? Or are you craving some potato chips and Häagen-Dazs ice cream? You’ll find the underlying denominator in all these cravings is refined sugar and high glycemic carbohydrates.
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How much protein do I need?
My personal recommendations are 0.5 to 1 g per pound of body weight. Many people convolute this formula using kilogram conversions and refer to lean body mass, in my opinion this just makes it more confusing. In general the recommendations above are adequate and nearly everyone can calculate their needs within just a few seconds.
Therefore a 200 pound man would need anywhere between 100 g of protein to 200 g protein depending on activity level and particular goals. If this person were training and trying to increase their muscle mass I would recommend staying at the 1 g side.
Strength coaches such as Charles Poliquinn even go as far to recommend 2 g per pound of body-weight. For your average everyday person 0.7 grams per pound is a safe starting place, you’ll find it’s probably far more than what you’re eating currently.
The only individuals that need to worry about their protein consumption are people who have kidney damage or kidney disease. Proteins do not create kidney damage on a healthy kidney, but if your kidney is already impaired, the extra glomular filtration may be to much for the kidney to handle. Adding extra fats into your diet have a net neutral effect and can be a good alternative if you have kidney damage.
Many people ask about the acid load of protein. As long as you eat enough high quality vegetable and fruit emphasis on the vegetables, the alkalinity created from the vegetables will be more than enough to balance out the acidity of the meat proteins. The most acidic proteins are soy, grains, casein and egg whites; all other whole animal proteins provide an adequate amount of phosporus which will help neutralize it from it’s calcium leaching effects.
I recommend starting off your day with the first 30 to 60 minutes consuming at least 30 g of protein. Below are different food choices and their protein amount per 4 ounces. FYI the palm of your hand is about 3 ounces, so something slightly bigger than your palm is a good estimate.
Beef- 32 gms. Lamb- 30.2 gms.
Turkey- 32.6 gms. Chicken- 33.8 gms.
Calf liver- 24.5 gms. Venison- 34.3 gms.
Salmon- 29 gms. Scallops- 23 gms.
Shrimp- 23.7 gms. Cod- 26 gms.
Tuna – 34 gms. Sardines- 22.7 gms.
*Tofu- 9.2 gms. Egg- (1) 6 gms.
*Lentils- 1cup 17.9 gms. *Dried peas- ½ cup 6 gms
*Cottage cheese- ½ cup 14 gms. *Yogurt- 1 cup 12.9 gms.
*Kidney Bean- 1 cup 15.4 gms. *Pinto Beans- 1 cup 14 gms.
*Lima Beans- 1 cup 14.7 gms. *Black Beans- 1 cup 15.2 gms.
*Garbanzo- 1 cup 14.5 gms. *Navy Bean-1 cup 15.8 gms.
Walnuts- ¼ cup 3.81 gms. Almonds- ¼ cup 7.62 gms.
Cashews- ¼ cup 5.24 gms. Almond Butter- 2 TBSP. 7 gms.
Cashew Butter- 2 TBSP 5 gms.
*Please keep in mind that beans are two thirds starch. So for every 1 g of protein you get from beans (legumes) you end up consuming 2 g of starchy carbohydrate. This is one of the main reasons why I don’t like legumes or beans as a quality protein source. I also don’t recommend getting your protein from dairy sources like cottage cheese and yogurt. The casein proteins in these foods can create inflammation and stress the immune system. These dairy foods in their raw form are far superior to their pasteurized, homogenize and refined alternatives.
What do I do if eating all this protein and fat is causing me digestive problems?
Your stomachs main job is to digest protein. It does this by producing HCl and pepsin which help decrease the pH in your stomach. As the acidity in the stomach decreases, this provides a more favorable environment to help break down protein. As the acidic chyme (pre-broken down protein and food in the stomach) are released into the small intestine, this signals a release of bile from the gallbladder and pancreatic enzymes from the pancreas. The bile from the gallbladder is an emulsifying agent which helps break down this newly entered fat in the small intestine. If the chyme from the stomach is not acidic it will not trigger a release of bile when it enters the small intestine.
As you can see there’s an intricate domino effect occurring in our digestion processes. Healthy digestion in the stomach is the first domino that needs to fall. This domino then triggers healthy digestion in the small intestine. The next domino that falls is healthy absorption of these broken down nutrients in the small intestine and healthy bacterial fermentation and re-absorption of electrolytes in the large intestine. if one Domino doesn’t fall they can mess up the whole chain!
If you have a digestive problem the first thing I would recommend is supporting your body with hydrochloric acid, enzymes, pancreatic support and bile salts. This greatly aids in your body’s digestive abilities, which helps you to break down, utilize and assimilate all of the great food your putting your body. if your digestion is impaired it’s common to have bloating, gas, stomach burning or Gerd, belching, nausea and skin problems.
Some individuals have a gastrointestinal infection ranging from a parasite, bacteria (H-Pylori is a common one), fungus or viruses. it’s important to mention that everyone is entitled to having more than one infection, the more infections you have, the longer the recovery time.
If adding in digestive support doesn’t do the trick you should be screened for an infection either way. The goal isn’t to use natural supplements to cover up symptoms, the goal is to get to the underlying cause of the problem.
The last thing you want to do is use any type of proton pump inhibitors or acid blockers to fix the problem. This may help some of the symptoms in the beginning, but in the long run you are opening yourself up to major problems!
If you need help figuring out your diet and getting your digestion back on track, feel free and schedule a complimentary consultation by clicking here. This will at least give you the opportunity figure out the next steps you need to take to help improve your health!
Why The Weight Won’t Come Off?
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
There are many people out there who are on a gradual course of adding 1-2 pounds of weight every year, with no real end in site. When you’re in your early 20’s the average persons metabolism is in good shape but as they enter their 30’s and 40’s the bad habits of their teens and 20’s starts to catch up with them. Just like compound interest works in your favor when it comes to investing and saving, the compounding off bad health habits will affect our metabolism negatively as well.
The underlying cause of abnormal weight gain is a sluggish metabolism. So over time your body’s ability to metabolize fat for energy becomes impaired and metabolically our body tends to burn carbohydrate for fuel instead. So if a sluggish metabolism causes weight gain, then the so called “cure” would be to address the underlying factors that have weaken our metabolism slowly over time.
A strong underlying factor that affects metabolic activity is toxin exposure and it’s effect on our hormonal system. It has been shown the thyroid and adrenal glands work together to help regulate metabolism and energy. When the body is exposed to excess toxins the adrenal glands becomes stressed and an increase in adrenaline and cortisol is secreted to help buffer the inflammation and stress. Excess cortisol over the long term will eventually results in fatigue, belly fat, and decreased muscle mass. And as you notice many people are walking around carrying the majority of their excess weight around the hips and tummy with very little muscle to show for it.
There are many other interconnected causes of weight gain as you can so by the graphic below, but the focus of today’s post is mainly on the thyroid, adrenal and toxin connection.
Need help in losing weight? Click here and ask a doctor about it.
The bottom picture demonstrates the connection between toxins and an increase fat mass. It was apparent that people with the most fat mass had the highest level of organochlorines. Organochlorines are the chemicals used commonly in pesticides and herbicides. These chemical are used in conventional and GMO produce as well. These organochlorine compounds are know to mimic estrogen and excess estrogen helps promote fat growth as well as tumor growth and cancer.
It’s also interesting to note that one of the proposed mechanisms how these pesticides increase weight gain is through decreasing our active thyroid hormones, T3, which helps keep our metabolism active. As you see in the graphic below, as T3 function reduces, this increase the chance of weight gain in the future.
Mycotoxins are toxins produced from fungus and commonly cause abnormal weight gain and infertility. Mycotoxins like zearalenone are compounded into pellets and placed into cattle’s ears to increase weight gain before going to slaughter. The interesting thing about zearalenone is farmers can decrease the cows feed and weight gain still occurs. How many people do you know who continue to cut calories and still can’t lose weight? If so, mycotoxins could play a role.
Did you know fungal overgrowth in our intestine can also secrete mycotoxins as well? I personally lost 15 pounds by going on an anti-fungal protocol as well as cutting peanuts out of my diet, too. The amazing thing with this weight loss story was there was no real fundamental change in the diet or the amount of calories either.
Avoiding common mycotoxins that was see in grains, organochlorines, peanuts and conventional coffee can be a great way to super charge your metabolism and help you lose weight effortlessly.
My favorite kind of coffee is BulletProof Coffee, it is mycotoxin free and can be found here.