Role of Functional Medicine in Mental Health | Podcast #326

As an adult, maybe you’re struggling with some of these symptoms yourself, things like anxiety, perhaps depression or mood issues, those types of things. Or many of you have kids with these types of mental health symptoms and problems. Functional Medicine is a form of integrative medicine that focuses on addressing the root causes of a person’s symptoms rather than merely treating the symptoms themselves and, in this case, manage stress. Here are Dr. J and Evan Brand sharing their insights about different approaches for stress reduction. 

Dr. J suggested to pay attention to nutrients first and some natural herbs such as ashwagandha, rhodiola, holy basil, etc. Watch the whole video to know interesting details about functional medicine in mental health.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

In this episode, we cover:

1:22      Foundation of Functional Medicine Needs

8:27      Emotional Stress

14:50    How to deal with Stress

19:08    Alcohol as Stress Reliever

30:43    Importance of Exercise

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Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And we are live. It’s Dr. J here in the house with Evan. Evan, how are we doing today man? 

Evan Brand: Doing well, the sky is blue, the weather is amazing. I looked at your forecast for this week too, it’s going to be like 75 and sunny all day, every day. So that’s going to be amazing. We’re inside though, maybe we need to do like outside recordings, maybe need to go like, sit out back in a hammock and record with me. So we don’t miss this weather because then it’s going to be cold. And we’re going to be complaining. But no, but long story short, we were talking pre show about just how everything this year has been kind of crazy. And a lot of people are expressing issues with their mental health, their physical health, their emotional health, it’s affecting our clients, it’s affecting potential clients, people that are reaching out to us that have had businesses closed down or potential job losses and a lot of economic issues that have caused a lot of, you know, mental emotional problems for people. So the idea today was, well, let’s try to cover kind of a, a broad stroke, if you will, of how we could use functional medicine to improve mental health. So let’s dive in.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Love it. So off the bat, like we kind of go back to like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, right? That’s kind of like the first thing. So I always tell patients off the bat, there’s kind of a foundation of functional medicine needs, that’s going to be clean water, sleep, and then clean food. And now we can kind of get in the middle of it in the weeds with the food and kind of getting your macros dialed in and getting all that kind of dialed in. But clean water, clean food and good sleep. And so I always tell patients, the more stressed you are, the more you need to be rested, fed and watered. And the more those things are kind of stable, and that’s like your foundation, the better adaptable you will be at the dealing with stress, adapting to stress. So the health, health and stress adaptation are intimately connected. So the more stressed you are, if you start going towards alcohol, and processed food, and staying up too late and watching too much news, it’s going to get that fear cycle going, you’re not going to have enough rest to recharge your parasympathetic nervous system, you’ll be too much sympathetic dominant, you’ll be leaning on your adrenals leaning more on cortisol leaning more on adrenaline, and it’s going to be harder for you to digest. You’ll be just kind of on the edge every time with your emotions, the smallest thing will set you off, and you won’t have a good solid foundation.

Evan Brand: Yeah, I I think people should really just get rid of the social media apps on their phone. I mean, that was something that I did. I just noticed that if I have the social media apps off my phone, and I have to go to a web browser to check them. It’s much much more inconvenient to do it. So I must I’m much less likely to do it. And also, for me, you have the option of being up speaking to that you hear his little notification sound. Oh, social media-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: – has turned it off right now. Airplane mode, maybe. 

Evan Brand: It’ll, it will, it’s it’s it, you know, there’s been like trials done on how long it takes you to get focused again. And so what I’ve tried to do is to limit my distractions, I think the world now has become a world full of distractions, mainly because people are trying to solve all the world’s problems on their own meaning, you know, I care about the trees getting cut down in the Amazon. So I’m going to go read about this, and then I care about this, I’m going to go read about that. And then you’re so scatterbrained that you kind of lost your own productivity. So I’m not saying that you need to just, you know, put your head in a hole and turn the world’s problems off in your head like they don’t exist. No, I think it’s just a fine line. And I think most people have lost the line of productivity, because they’re so focused on the issues. And a lot of the day to day decisions you make aren’t going to change the world that much like there’s nothing I could do necessarily right this very second, besides maybe donating some money to some organization to stop cutting trees in the Amazon like it sucks. I don’t like to see, you know, you got all this illegal deforestation going on. But there’s only so much you can do. So you got to find a way to to find a healthy way to absorb the media. And most media is negative. So social media, media news. And a lot of it’s not serving you. That’s the only point I have to make.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I do think number one, social media is a big one, you kind of have to like, use it, don’t let it use you. Right. So turn off the notifications. Don’t let it kind of be there something that you always go to write, I think deleting it from your phone, or at least maybe on the weekends or periodically, deleting it can be helpful because you’re not going to access it as much on the web browser. I think also people forget that most people use social media as their highlight reel. So they only post great things about their life. People feel bad about it. So I’m very aware about that. And I don’t overly post the highlight reel of my life on there because those things are between me and my family and I don’t need to share it with the whole world every now and then. I’ll get people A glimpse, but it doesn’t need to be there all the time. A lot of people overdo that. And people forget that they’re seeing someone else’s highlight reel and they make it makes their life feel a little bit less than or more inferior. And you got to remember that right? You can’t forget it. That gives you kind of a good perspective and a grounding and and it really just comes back to appreciation. Right, the more you’re grounded in appreciation for what you have that that really shifts that that stress and that sympathetic kind of response of just inadequacy and, and, and, and feeling like your life’s not enough.

Evan Brand: Yeah. And there’s people with it, we know that are incredibly successful in business and wealth and all of that. And these people will go publicly bring up their anxiety and depression. So when you look at someone’s life, and you see all they have it so good, I’m so jealous of this or that car, this house or whatever, a lot of people listening may just shut it down immediately. And they say, Oh, no, I don’t care. I’m not comparing myself. But it’s kind of a subconscious thing. You’re not even really aware that it’s happening. Just look up type in, like Instagram depression, there’s some studies done that it was the most depressing social media. So I don’t want to make it the whole anti social media podcast, but you, you hit on gratitude. And I think that’s really the key. So what I tried to do was like a walking gratitude. It’s very, very helpful. So I’ll just, I’ll take the kids outside, and they’ll just walk, whether it’s in the backyard, whether it’s down the driveway, whether it’s in the you know, by the garage, I’ll just find a place to just walk, walk, walk. And I’m just focusing on the motions of the body just shaking up and down, dude. And I’m just thinking, Man, I’m grateful. I’m so grateful. Look at this beautiful day, look at the sun, look at the blue clouds, or the white clouds with the blue sky. Look at the the contrast, look at the green on the trees. Oh, we’ve got a little bit of yellow coming in on these maples over here. This is gorgeous, Oh, look at that red tree over there. And it’ll really take you out of the fear, it’ll take you out of the worry those repetitive, repetitive thoughts, you know, there’s, and this is not talking to one or two people here on my intake form, which thousands of people have submitted, you and I use a couple different form creation tools. I’ve looked at how many submissions we have. And it’s literally like 95% of people out of these thousands have reported? Yes, they beat themselves up with negative self talk. That’s a question on the intake form. Do you beat yourself up with negative self talk? 95%? Say yes. Now is that because you and I have a population who has symptoms and they want to get better? Or is that indicative of the general population to I would say the general population would be the same?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I always kind of I heard someone say this a couple of years ago, they said, Imagine, you know all the inner thoughts about yourself, kind of write that down. Okay. And imagine if someone else said those things to you? Would you be friends with that person? Probably not. Right? So it’s, it’s amazing how hard people are regarding the inner dialogue. And I always just kind of inner dialogue comes through your brain, ask yourself, would you be friends with that person? If someone else said that to you? Probably not. So I always just try to say to people, you know, make sure you would be friends with the person that would be saying, the inner thoughts that you’re actually thinking.

Evan Brand: Yeah, that’s a good call, that’s a really good call, well, you can be your best friend or you can be your worst enemy. And I think it’s easy to become your worst enemy. Because I don’t know you, you’re the one who has to look in the mirror. Right? So you’re always going to be the one to blame yourself. But.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep. And if that happens, what do you do? Right? I mean, I think if you have that inner dialogue that kind of shifts overtly negative to yourself, what do you do in NLP world, you go and you visualize the stop sign, right? You don’t beat yourself up over it, you visualize the stop sign, and then you then you shift into appreciation. Or some folks will have the elastic band on the wrist and they’ll pull it tight, right to create that negative neuro Association, whether it’s a physical, elastic snap, or whether it’s a stop sign coming in, that’s that’s visually cueing you to stop, however you want to do it, and then just kind of refocus your energy in a non shameful way to, to the things that you have that are great, right? Because that stuff needs to be you need to it’s like weeds grow automatically negative thoughts grow automatically. It takes no effort to be a cynic. In today’s world takes no effort. It really takes a lot of effort to be an appreciator and to focus on the things that you have. So just kind of use some of those cues to stop the negative thought and then shift over into the positive thought. Now I always find too, if you’re some people, it just kind of feels good to be negative a little bit where you’re kind of venting over something. And if you feel that way, just do it while tapping on some meridian points, some of the EFT meridian points because I find at least if you’re going to be negative, this at least decreases that sympathetic tone. And then what happens is as that that nervous system kind of calms down a little bit, it’s easier to shift back into that positive perspective. So you can do some of the EFT points chin under the nose. under the eye doubletap, I find it’s more efficient for me.

Evan Brand: And as you’re doing this, and as you’re doing this, you’re you’re kind of talking about the negative thoughts, it could be, oh, I just thought about irritable, yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Just just talk about whatever it is, I always like to go into it, assigning it a number. So out of 10, 10 being the worst intensity, where, yeah, you had a five or six or seven. And I try to go into it, taking whatever that number is, I want to cut it in half. So if I’m at a seven, I’m going to cut it down to three, or four, if I’m at a six, I want to cut it down to a three, if I’m at a 10 and want to cut it down below five, I just try to go into it, and have that conversation with myself about whatever that thing is that pissed me off, whatever it is that hey, that difficult patient that that really stressful bill, whatever it is, right. And I just kind of go into it, kind of do a little audit of where you’re at, and then try to get that down until it’s at least half below where it’s at, that kind of puts you back in the driver’s seat. And then it gives you the ability to shift to being positive, because you can’t be positive, it’s harder to be positive when you have that emotional staying at a higher level on that on that object subjective scale I gave you. So if you can cut it in half, that gives you the ability now to downshift from negative into positive to enable just want to make that shift. while they’re at a high level of negative it’s too difficult. That’s Oh, man, doing the EFT can be helpful because one, it gives you permission to be negative, but two, you’re giving your your nervous system, a little bit of a bump to be able to neutralize it.

Evan Brand: That is the the best point you’ve made about the emotional stress piece because this is like taking somebody who’s in the middle of a full blown panic attack and saying, Just chill out. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Just chill out, like just relax, like, be be positive, no, can’t do that. Can’t do that. So this is where like the EMDR. And then you can kind of scatter your eyes around while you do it too. Right. So you can go look at like a clock face and go to 1936. Or you can tap while you’re pretending like you’re looking at different clock numbers with your eyes. And because when you move your eyes that uses different cranial nerves, which uses different parts of the brain, and that kind of the whole goal is you’re kind of scattering that signal. Number one, you’re interrupting the pattern. Number two, it’s kind of like if you’re talking about something you ever had it where someone interrupted you and you’re like, What the hell are they talking about? Right? ever have that? That’s kind of what you’re doing a little bit to your brain and in some of the negative thinking you’re trying to scatter that pattern and make it a little bit harder for your brain to go back to and then you’re like, what, what was I mad about? Oh, yeah, that. And then it makes it easier than shift into positive.

Evan Brand: I just tried to go outside to like, for some reason. Well, duh, I mean, humans were meant to be outside. We’re not meant to be in boxes all day. But you know, if you have a thought that is intrusive, you can just go out, and I’ll take a pair of binoculars, and I’ll just go outside and I’ll just watch the birds. Or I’ll go fill up the bird feeder, put it like a sewage feeder. So it’s like a big chunky like fatty CD type feed. I like to go put that out, watch the woodpeckers come in. And if I’m looking at them, and I’m not thinking about anything, yeah, that’s a that’s a great point. So let’s tie the functional medicine piece into what you said because I think what you said is a really good place to pivot which is you can’t take someone because someone listening who’s just so stressed out right now they’re going to they’re going to listen to you talk about tapping or if they’re watching the video on YouTube. So you tap into right What is this guy doing? He’s friggin tapping his forehead. I’m so pissed. I don’t care what what is this gonna do? That person’s a 10. He can’t he can’t even comprehend getting down to a five right now. So So on the maybe you would call it the herbalist functional medicine side, maybe we come in and give that guy or gal a shot of passionflower. Or maybe we give them a couple hundred milligrams of some pharma gabbeh or maybe a little bit of mother wort or maybe some ashwagandha maybe some Holy basil. Maybe we come in with some B vitamins because you and I know based on looking at thousands and thousands of people on organic acids testing that if you’re really really stressed, you’re going to burn out your bees as in Bravo, your B vitamins are going to be toast we know that. Based on looking at these labs, your neurotransmitters are going to be affected. So you may have low dopamine, you may have low serotonin, which is causing more anxiety, but then the low dopamine is causing a lack of energy and lack of drive. So let’s dive into some of these more functional pieces now.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, so we talked about the mindset stuff. We talked about tools to kind of decrease that sympathetic output and it’s just tapping on meridian points, right acupressure acupuncture points, kind of how energy and nervous energy Nervous System energy flows to the body. It’s just helping that energy flow better whether you call it ci or whether you call it action potential or, or nervous system, nerve flow, whatever you want to say, right? blood flow. It’s all connected, right? It’s all connected, right? So off the bat, we were talking about functional stuff. So when you’re stressed What are important things? Well, blood sugar stability is really important because most people get on a rollercoaster of blood sugar. When they get stressed meaning they’re going they’re overly gravitating towards alcohol, or overly gravitating towards refined sugar, their blood sugar goes up and then crashes down. And then it creates more nervous system stimulation via adrenaline and epinephrine being stimulated. And cortisol being stimulated to bring your blood sugar back up. So I find just keep it really simple, really easy with your meals, you may be more nauseous when you’re overly stressed because stress hormone does cause you to feel nauseous. So this is where you may want to do a soup or a simple smoothie, something really easy where there’s not a lot of digestion, but you’re still getting some proteins and fat in there. Whether it’s some collagen and some coconut milk or just sipping on some bone broth, right, something like that is going to have some good fat protein and it won’t be hard to digest. So if you feel nauseous just still no you should probably be eating but just try to make it something very easy on your tummy. And then think what are some of the nutrients your nervous systems in need when you’re more stressed, so low hanging fruit, B vitamins B complex is going to be very essential. Magnesium is going to be excellent gabbeh l-theanine these are good things that are going to help you relax and wind down having kind of mentioned valerian root or passionflower which are all connected to gabbeh and that kind of inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps you just relax a little bit kind of kind of puts the clutch in gear disengages the the gearbox so you can kind of downshift so to speak.

Evan Brand: Did you ever do Kava when you were down in Austin?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, so I mean, I’ve done I’ve done Kava still. 

Evan Brand: Did you go to the bars though? There’s like a cot. There’s like a cup. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, no, I’ve never I’ve never done it at a bar, but I’ve done it. Um, someone brought it over my house. They got it from Fiji. Before I did, it was relaxing. I like Kava that does a lot of gabbeh too, right?

Evan Brand: Yeah, does I felt weird my throat. I felt like well, am I having a reaction to this? Like it numbs your throat so much. It was a bizarre feeling. Yeah, I’m not recommending it. I’m not recommending it as a as a tool. But it could be it could be a good tool. I just thought I’d bring it up. Because when you mentioned like, Valerian I thought, Man, I remember that one time I drink Kava. I was. It was a weird, almost like an out of body relaxation. And I didn’t feel very grounded. It was kind of like whoa, I’m floating in the room. Kind of kind of interesting. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I mean, like I always go to nutrients first. And then I go to my favorite adaptogenic herbs second, so ashwagandha is one of my favorites. Right? ashwagandha rhodiola. Excellent. Excellent x, Holy basil those are kind of like my favorite kind of very relaxed, defying, relaxing tonifying kind of herbs, if you will.

Evan Brand: I like it too relaxefying, Do you get any sort of change in your outlook with holy basil? Because for me, that’s the one that’s most significant. Like I feel like I could take on the world when I get like a, I don’t know five 600 milligram a holy basil. It’s kind of like I am ready for the challenge. It’s a weird because it’s I’m calm. But I’m also energized at the same time. Do you get anything like that? 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It hasn’t been on my stack for a while. So right now my big stacks on my desk is going to be ashwagandha I do have some some gabbeh chewables and gabbeh sublingual. I mean, I think if you just took people’s works and took, you know, in their, in their place of work, whatever. And you took away all the candy and you just put like magnesium, and you put gabbeh like Lawson jers. Right. Think about how much of a stress reduction had been people’s works. Right. So much better. Maybe some B vitamins.

Evan Brand: Yeah, I mean, if you and I had brick and mortar places what I would do instead of a little you know how old school like front desk, you’ve got a little glass of like lifesavers and peppermints. And a bunch of garbage. I’d have like pre packaged chewable pharma gabbeh sitting there.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep. chewable pharma gabbeh, sublingual magnesium, maybe some l-theanine shots, right? keep it really simple. I remember in doctor at school before. For finals, we would like make drinks of like ginseng and holy basil. And we like create these like shot glasses all lined up with herbs where we take it. It was fine. I mean, those are some fun times. But um, yeah, so we just got to think a little bit differently and how you deal with stress, just a different mindset change.

Evan Brand: Yeah, I want to go back to what you said how people get into the alcohol and to the sugar and all of that and the carbohydrates and the blood sugar rollercoaster. I think people don’t understand why that happens. So I just want to give people a brief education of why that’s happening from a, you know, neurotransmitter perspective, that way you feel a little more confident that you can change this and you’re not just a victim to the food. So when we look at urine and you measure these neurotransmitter metabolites, we can see that after a period of stress, especially if somebody has been working with us for several years, we can see that Oh, they went through a divorce. Look what happened to their endorphins, for example, the endorphins got burned out. And with the help of Julia Ross, she has an amazing amino acid therapy chart in her books. You can see that the symptoms of low endorphins start to pop up. So these are the people that cry at the drop of the hat. These are the people that hard on the sleeve real emotionally sensitive. If they crave dark chocolate, they’re going for food to comfort themselves or reward themselves. Those are low endorphin signs, we’ll match up those symptoms to the neurotransmitter report on the oat. And then we’ll come in with a therapeutic nutrient like dl phenylalanine, to rebuild the endorphins. And then within four to six weeks, you can have it the 60% difference in symptoms were these people that were running to the cookie because they were stressed or running to the alcohol at night to relax, they no longer need that now, they may still do it. But they literally don’t have the physiological need to do that. Some people say, I just can’t relax until I have that glass of wine. Once you rebuild the brain chemistry, they literally don’t need it anymore.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I mean, if you’re having a stressful day, I mean alcohol Don’t get me wrong is that is a wonderful downer. I mean, it really does help relax people. Now obviously, if you’re going to engage in alcohol, keep it to like a drier champagne, a drier white wine, keep it to a clean alcohol and try to do it after you’ve eaten. So you’re not creating a blood sugar swing, because alcohol can actually lower your blood sugar. And then that creates more cravings and more cravings for junky food, right? So if you’re going to have a glass of alcohol, right, don’t want don’t get drunk. But if you’re going to have a glass, make sure it’s a healthy version, then just try to have some good protein before you have it like so if you go out, for instance, have some oysters, maybe a little bit of seafood, maybe a shrimp cocktail and have a glass of champagne or two or a cabo or Prosecco or something clean, clean, clean alcohol. There’s nothing wrong with that, you know, especially if it’s only if it’s not an everyday kind of thing. I think it’s totally fine. And you know, make sure you’re utilizing some of the nutrients we talked about. So you’re supporting the neurotransmitters as well.

Evan Brand: Yeah, check out our podcast, we did a whole one on the whole biohacking alcohol thing. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, that’s how-

Evan Brand: So, Sunshine, sunshine is huge. I mean, granted, when you’re in certain parts of the country, you really lose the sun, you really lose it because you get clouds. And, you know, if you’re really high northern latitude, it’s really tough to get sun, I’ve got a lot of clients in Canada, and they just get major, major seasonal depression. And so for those people, like a light therapy box can be helpful. I already know for me personally, it’s affected me like when it gets dark at five 6pm. I mean, I just mentally, I just don’t like it. And so the light therapy box can be very good. A lot of times, you’re going to see those at around 10,000. Lux, that’s a pretty bright, pretty bright light. Of course, nothing is going to beat the sunshine. But if it’s like you’re in Alaska, you literally or, you know, hours of sun per day, whereas before it was 12 hours, and now you’re three hours of sunlight. That’s really tough mentally, so sun can be helpful. I wish tanning beds weren’t so controversial. because years ago, I had a friend who worked at a gym who had a level, I think they called it a level three or level four tanning bed, which was not something that closed on you. It wasn’t like magnetic field balanced. Like I measured it, there was no EMF coming from it. But it was almost like the stage lights, almost like a like a theatrical performance, like a red light up at the top. And you could get a tan, I mean, literally in a couple of sessions. But I did it for mental health. And we know that sunlight in general can really help act as almost like morphine, it can really help modulate these opiate receptors in the brain. I remember coming out of a six or seven minute session, and I was just high on life. I felt so good after that. And I thought, wow, I wish this didn’t have to be so controversial. Because if someone could get access to something like this, if we knew that it wasn’t going to increase risk of skin cancers and such, man, what could it do for all the depressed people out there that have Seasonal Affective issues in the winter?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I think it just comes down to when you’re dealing with sun, it’s just don’t burn, you know, just just don’t get a burn and you’ll be fine. And that’s different for every single person. And so of course, you know, natural sunlight is going to be ideal. I think it’s gonna be excellent. So that’s a good first step for sure. We talked about some of the B vitamins and things and it gets really essential. I think also, you know, just from a financial standpoint, I think it’s really, really good. People talk about it, just having that six month emergency fund, right, try to have, you know, six months of being able to take care of your family, whether it’s food, living mortgage, just try to really make sure at least three to six months if people had that during COVID. I think there’d be way way, way less financial stress for people. I know, it’s a tough thing to do. But I think it’s something to strive for in regards to financial health is just really look for that six months, three to six month emergency fund. I think you’re smart.

Evan Brand: Yeah. And try to get rid of things that you don’t truly need. I mean, I had several people who say oh, you know this or that about budget, but they’ve got the hundred and $40 a month cable bill and they’ve got the the you know, the subscription to this or that that adds up to hundreds and hundreds of dollars a month. So I think with the reducing subscriptions where you can the emergency fund is smarter than from the food security perspective. Two, I remember months ago, you and I were talking about this it was there was talk about some of these meat processing plants and stuff shutting down and I had literally some of my clients freaking out thinking that they were going to run out of meat and not be able to feed their family. I mean, they were probably just watching too much news about the subject. But that’s why I always recommend everyone have a good chest freezer, you can get him for $100 and go on local harvest or eat wild, or just Google local farms around you, we have a farm that I pay him a little bit extra, but they’ll deliver to the house. And we’ll have literally an entire chest freezer full of amazing grass fed meat at anywhere from six to $10 a pound depending on the cut. And we don’t have to worry about going to Whole Foods where we’re going to get shamed if we don’t want to wear a mask, and then we’re buying their overpriced stuff sitting in the fridge. I’ve got my local farm, you know, bringing pastured meats at a fraction of the cost to my door, throw in the chest freezer, I sleep great at night knowing that if something were to happen to the food supply, my children and my wife and I will be well fed. And then of course well what if the electrical grid? Well, I don’t know. That’s that’s, that’s pretty slim chance. I know, people in California worried about that earlier this year, because of the fires, people were thinking, well, what if I have the chest freezer full of meat? And then the electrical grid goes off? Because California turns off my power generator? You know, hopefully, it’s not a long term thing. But you just got a problem solution problem solution, you can’t just get paralyzed by the problems.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I always talk about it, you got to close the loop, right? You know, you have a problem. When you don’t close the loop. And you think about the solution, and you keep these loops, I call them keeping these loops open. That’s where stress happens when you close the loop. That’s where you feel a lot better, because it’s our problem solution. Problem solution, you’re constantly opening and closing loops all day long. That’s kind of how you want to think about it. So you have maximal you know, stress reduction. So we talked about physiology, right? That’s the foundation because remember, that’s like the this is the vehicle This is a suit, the biochemical suit we have to walk through every day and not everyone’s suit is the same and how we can deal with stress. So if you’re looking coming into this, you know, 20 minutes late, you’re like, Well, what do I focus on, focus on the physiological biochemical suit, because that gives you the ability to adapt. And then from there, you can try to grab one or two things that work best for you. mindsets, really important, dealing with some of these stress can be helpful. Talking about some of the supplements can be helpful. Making sure you’re in a good kind of financial situation can be helpful as well. You know, those are all good kind of strategies out of the gates. Anything else you want to talk about functional medicine wise. So we talked about some of the organic acid testing and looking at neurotransmitters that can be helpful, because I find people that are, you know, let’s say long term stressed out people, we’re going to see a lot of neurotransmitter patterns that are pretty depleted regarding amino acids and dopamine and adrenaline and serotonin. And that may be a longer thing you have to work on replacing with amino acids. So that may not be just a supplement you want to dunk on, they may take a while to work on depleting that, especially, you know, the faster it happens when you work on all the sleep stuff and the diet stuff that gets better, but that the bucket that may need some effort to work on depleting.

Evan Brand: Yeah, the only other functional medicine piece we’re going to be looking into for these like super stress, people’s looking into the gut, we’re going to be looking at gut inflammation. We’re going to be looking at parasites, bacterial overgrowth, all the stuff we normally talk about Candida, because there could be some more functional reasons why someone is going into the cookies, for example, or the alcohol, maybe on a neurotransmitter test, they look okay, but in regards to their gut, maybe they have all these bacterial pathogens are parasitic pathogens that are kind of like begging for some sort of quick burning glucose, right? So we may come in. And I noticed personally just using some Mimosa, I was doing some experiments with not not the orange juice cocktail thing, but actual most of the seed most a tree seed in capsule form. That’s very beneficial for calming down my gut. And I noticed mentally I was calm, just by calming down my gut. So don’t forget about the gut brain access, there is a connection there. And so if you’re having digestive problems now, whether that’s due to stress, or whether it’s due to infections, if you’re having diarrhea or constipation, or stomach cramping or food intolerances, you got to try to address those because it does signal and alert Danger, danger to the brain, meaning if you’re going and eating this allergenic food, irritating the gut that can then irritate your brain and cause issues. So I’ve had some people that have gotten anxious after certain foods, and we know that histamine is a neurotransmitter as well. So if you’re having histamine reactions, even just something like a low histamine diet may be useful to help calm the brain down because of some of the reactions there with histamine. So people think it’s just histamine allergies. No, but it can also affect your brain chemistry. And so you got to focus on that maybe herbal anti histamines or something we would use or some enzymes to help to reduce some of the effectiveness of the histamine on the brain. So I think that’s probably my last piece.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and those are all valid points. For sure. You know, you talked about histamine, you talked about inflammation, and inflamed brains not going to focus and not going to do as well. So again, inflammation, whether it’s food allergens or deeper gut issues is a big one. Also medical palsy women, you know, lower hormone issues can affect the brain. So try to make sure your hormones are at least at a good stable place because that’s going to help with brain inflammation that’s gonna help with cognitive stuff as well. So everyone’s coming at this from a different place from from a different foundational weakness. So just try to figure out where you’re at and take at least one or two steps, you know, Ford on that. Also exercise can be helpful. So just try to find a couple of movements, simple movements that you can do 510 minutes, that’s going to help really decrease a bunch of stress. So whether it’s a push movement, a pull movement, a set or squat, a bender, a pole, whatever that movement pattern is just try to engage in some of these simple movements, it’s going to really help your mood, it’s going to take a lot of that mental energy and allow you to kind of put it out into that physical movement pattern.

Evan Brand: Oh, 100% Yeah, exercise is key. I should have mentioned it earlier. I mean, I feel amazing after I just do some dumbbells or roll machine or hike in the woods, hike in the field, you know, whatever I could do to move. I mean, that’s in its free, right, it’s free, so and you don’t need any permission to do that. So obviously, if you’re going into a gym and you’re doing the whole mass thing in a gym, maybe that’s not as fun so get outside go somewhere where you know, you have your own space and you don’t have people you know, breathing down your neck, so to speak. But I think with the gut piece, the neurotransmitter piece, the aminos here’s kind of the the summary of today and what’s been going on in the world. A lot of people are just like, hey, things are crazy, I give up. But this is actually the time where you really want to dial things in even more. This is a time where you want to focus even more to keep your body keep your mind keep your your sleep patterns healthy. This is not a time where screw it I’m going to go off the rails and just drink a case of beer. It This isn’t the time to do that a lot of people they’re so stressed they have no other coping mechanism. But I would argue everything you and I’ve been talking and doing and preaching and clinically doing for people. This is kind of like the showdown This is like okay, what did all that work we put in actually do did we were we the last man standing, meaning everyone else got burned out and ended up on you know, anti anxiety medication. And we stayed calm and cool through the whole thing. I think this is the time where you can see all the hard work paying off.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% I think you’re totally kind of dialed in. Also, one thing I’ve been doing a little bit is a little more meditation and just keep it really simple with breathing. Just focus on breath, you can do kind of a biofeedback device like the Muse that I’ve talked about, we’ll put a link down below for that. That’s one thing I’m experimenting more with. It just kind of gives you that little bit of a thumbs up from a biofeedback standpoint that you’re you’re you’re putting your brain in a pretty good place when you’re meditating. I think it gives people confidence. They’re doing it right. The problem I find with meditation, people are like, Am I doing this right? And there’s just insecurity and what the heck they’re doing. And then that prevents them from being compliant with it. So I think having a extra kind of pat on the back yet you’re doing the right You’re doing good with a some kind of a device that helps whether it’s whether it’s HRV, or the Muse or M wave type of technology, these kind of things I think are helpful to give you the confidence that you’re doing something right.

Evan Brand: Yeah, yeah, the floatation tank is awesome. So doing doing a float would be good. deep tissue massage would be great. calming essential oils would be great Epsom salt baths would be great is anything you can do to downshift. We talked about the shifting phenomenon quite a bit, but-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: There’s a lot, there’s a lot of options for sure.

Evan Brand: Okay, cool. Well, let’s wrap this thing up. So if people need help, we’re here for you. We always have been and we intend to be kind of on the front lines, helping people with all this stuff. So if you need to reach out to Dr. J. JustinHealth.com is the website. If you need to reach out to me, EvanBrand.com is the website and we’re here for you. So don’t give up. Don’t give in. You got to keep pushing forward every day, you still got to put your pants on, you still got to do the thing, whether it’s take care of your kids take care of your wife, your husband take care of career, you still got to move forward. So I know it’s easy to get kind of stuck and like you mentioned I like the idea of the open loops closing the loops. I didn’t get stuck in these open loops, but you got to close the doors. Try to simplify try to you know, minimize decision making focus on the big things and you’re going to be just fine.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I love it. Excellent and Well, great podcast today EvanBrand.com to reach out to Evan, JustinHealth.com to reach out to me we’re available worldwide. If you want to dive in, look deeper at your physiology, biochemistry, neurotransmitters, gut whatever the root issue is. We’re here to help you guys have a phenomenal day. Click down below for all the important links, guys. Take care. Bye.

Evan Brand: Take care now. Bye bye.


References:

https://www.evanbrand.com/

https://justinhealth.com/

Audio Podcast:

Natural Hacks to Improve Sleep | Podcast #303

Everyone experiences occasional sleeping problems, so how can you tell whether your difficulty is just a minor, passing annoyance or a sign of a more serious sleep disorder or underlying medical condition?

As humans transition from the waking state to drowsiness and into sleep, parasympathetic vagal tone (responsible for downshifting) increases, and sympathetic tone (the go, go, go!) decreases. Many of us experience trouble sleeping at one time or another. Usually, it’s due to stress, travel, illness, or other temporary interruptions to your normal routine. But if sleep problems are a regular occurrence and interfere with your daily life, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder. Here are Dr. J and Evan taking us to another perspective of ways to help better our sleeping patterns.

Since electronics and the bulbs that we have to use artificial lights, some suggestions are the use of blue lights and dimmer lights. It helps lessen or prevent too much cortisol (steroid hormones formed in the adrenal glands) and assist our melatonin is kicking in and put as to sleep. Intake of magnesium, holy basil, and ashwagandha are also useful for bringing the body to a lower gear as well as regular exercise to keep our body in good shape. Watch the full podcast to know more ways to manage your sleep!

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

 

In this episode, we cover:

2:31       Blue lights, Dimmer lights

09:15    Sleep Mechanism

18:04    Gut Inflammation

25:05    Sleeping Drugs

27:49    Supplements

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Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And we are live. It’s Dr. J here in the house with Evan Brand, Evan, how are we doing today man? 

Evan Brand: I’m doing well. I’ve got an article here. We’re gonna start the show off. This is all about sleep today, issues that affect sleep. How do we mitigate the effect of stress on sleep and gut and all of it. But first, Pepsi, good old Pepsi Co. They’re launching its newest beverage, the de stressing and relaxation promoting drift. Well, this is just all about, what’s my point of this, that becoming healthier is becoming mainstream. So anyway, they’ve created a sugar free non carbonated water flavored with a hint of blackberry and lavender with 200 milligrams of L theanine, which you and I’ve talked about for years and years and years and years and years, DNA being an amino acid that helps to increase GABA comes from green tea. But you can also take it in supplement form. Here’s the thing I don’t like about this thing, though. Number one, it’s seven and a half ounces, I don’t really want to drink seven and a half ounces right before I go to sleep, if I’m going to take theming, I would much rather just take a capsule of 200 to 400 milligrams at the end and go to sleep. And then the second thing is there’s they’re wanting to sell this thing for $18 for a 10 pack that’s $1 at a dose basically, versus you and I if we’re gonna get a professional grade theanine, we’re probably getting what maybe 100 or 200 capsules for 20 bucks. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, it’s definitely a little bit more on the expensive side, kind of per dose, but you’re definitely paying confer convenience. So like I’m all about if a company can create a product like this without the artificial sweeteners, dyes and colors, and it’s using a clean water, you know, reverse osmosis kind of water source, and it has some of these nutrients in there. And it makes it convenient, because it really comes down to can people do it right? If you don’t do it, if you don’t apply it, you don’t get the benefit. So that’s a really good first step in the right direction. I mean, I’ll still take the supplements, you know, from a raw material standpoint, like you mentioned, but if we can get some non healthy minded people to jump on board that train, that’s great.

Evan Brand: Oh, yeah, I mean, imagine if we could get people to switch over from, I don’t know, doing a nightly beer. You know, let’s say they do beer at night. But instead, they could just do this, you know, themed drink, that’d be a hell of a lot better for their gut and their brain. And you know, theanine has benefits for the brain to it’s not just the sleep, they’re kind of promoting it as a relaxation drink. But I take theanine daily, and it definitely helps to buffer stress. It’s just something that it’s not like a sedative. I mean, it’s not a chill pill. It’s not like a passionflower would do for your sleep. But it, it definitely just kind of settles the mind a little bit. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I agree. I mean, my nightly routine is typically some magnesium and some vitamin C. And then if I if I’m going to do any alcohol or any like cheating, kind of things, food wise, I’m going to be doing some load of iron ore and acetylcysteine and maybe some charcoal as well. And then if you have any issues ping before bed, just try to drink that an hour or two before bed. And that kind of sets in. And then you know, one of the nice thing people are doing today, a lot of the glasses have a blue light filter. So I have I upgraded my glasses that I typically use when I watch TV to a blue light filter. So nice blue light, really nice. And then, of course, one easy investment we all can make is just get dimmer switches on all your main lights that you’re going to have on at nighttime. Just kind of get those dimmers down 80% or so that’s going to help a ton. If you were reading glass or a glass for reading or TV, get a blue light filter in there, or just get like one of those nice blue light glasses that you can put over on anyway without a prescription on there. And that’s very helpful to kind of get your body in that parasympathetic state that we talked about so much. 

Evan Brand: Yeah, I use Iris you can check it out, get Iris if you just search that you’ll find it. Iris tech is a company who their competitor to flux it’s better because it does have some supposedly has some anti flicker built in so it can help reduce the flicker rate of your screen. So smartphones, Windows computers, Macs, you can use Iris, I’ll leave it running 24 seven I have it on right now. So what I’m looking at Justin on the screen here, he’s a nice tan golden color to me, which looks good and it definitely reduces eye strain my eyes at the end of the day. You know, we’re looking at labs all day. So you know what we do is hard on the eyes and my eyes would just be exhausted. But once I run it at a more warm color, I definitely have less fatigue at the end of the day mentally.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I’ll put the link to some of the things that I do. I use the viewsonic monitors that have a low flicker and low blue light naturally in there. And you can still run an iris in the background as well but I highly recommend I noticed my prescription. The last year two is actually gotten better. It’s actually improved my stigmatism which is the shape of the eyes also shifted as well. And I talked about it with my optometrist and he said you know it’s possible that just you doing the blue light at night and you shifting over the monitors last year or two could have helped with that so I mean outside of nutrition being stable lutein all of the vitamin A precursors, I think shifting over the monitors if you’re someone that’s on a computer all day, invest in really good blue light protecting technology and or good blue light monitor. Yeah, well blue light, low flicker very important. 

Evan Brand: That’s good advice. Yeah. So nighttime we talked about that a little bit. You mentioned dimmer switches, blue light glasses, I’m using just salt lamps at night we have probably six or seven salt lamps. We have some that are just salt lamp night lights that are plugged into the bathrooms. That’s pretty convenient. Brush your teeth with just a salt lamp, it’s just a nice, pretty warm glow. I haven’t actually used a color, you know, like a color device to check if there’s blue light coming off of it, but it’s a pretty darn warm color. And it’s a little like couple watt incandescent bulb incandescence are going to have less blue in them naturally. So we like to use a lot of the Edison bulbs, a lot of the Edison bulbs now I’ve turned into LEDs though, they’ll look like Edison shape with the filament inside, but it’s led, which is so annoying. So make sure you’re actually getting the true Edison bulb, I use a company called Hudson, Hudson lighting, they make great Edison bulbs, and they’re going to be around 2700 Kelvin, which is a really nice amber color. When you get up to the 456 thousand Kelvin. Those are like your fancy car, ah ID headlights that are going to be really really blue kind of whitish, bluish color. That’s not what you want at nighttime. It’s amazing. You know, I’m rarely out at night. But if we’re out on the road, we’ll drive past someone’s home. And we’ll just see, like science lab lights on at nine o’clock at night. It’s like, No, those people aren’t sleeping good tonight. Some people will argue with me like even my grandparents, I tried to get them off of the TV in the evening or to wear blue blockers. And they’ll say, Oh, I sleep fine. And it’s like, Yeah, but what’s the quality of sleep? You’re saying you’re waking up three to four times a night to go pee. You’re not well rested in the morning when you wake up. So yeah, you may say, quote, you sleep fine. But what’s the quality? What’s your energy level? Like? What’s, you know, are you crashing out by 11am? Because that would tell me your sleep is not so good after all. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100%. Yeah, I 100% agree. So I think it’s a good investment where if you wear glasses or contacts, look at getting a night per night glasses to have the blue light filter in there. And some brands don’t have a good blue light filter. So you know, you can get a blue light where it tests the actual wavelength going through. I’ve seen some of these glasses really only filter out the violet, which is interesting. So they’re kind of having a marketing ploy on it. So you’d want to go look at some of the reviews online, make sure you find a review where someone actually test those glasses, and sees if the blue light is blocked. But if you can get a significant amount of blue light blocked, you know, even if it’s 50% or so. And you get the dimmers on Well, that’s a good first step for sure.

Evan Brand: Yeah. And people listening may say, you know, any kind of skeptics listening, which most of those weed themselves out, so most people that listen to us love listening to us. But any skeptics may say, Well, why our ancestors, they didn’t have blue light blocking glasses. Yeah, but they didn’t have LED lights, they didn’t have electricity. In general, there was no artificial light at night. So when the sun goes down, and up, and the moon Yeah, when the sun goes down, and the sky is turning red and orange, the sun, the blue light can’t get through, when the sun’s at a low angle, the blue light doesn’t come through as much. And you naturally have a blue light filter, it’s the atmosphere. And so at nighttime, when you have a fire, which is the only source of light you would have had at night, look at a fire. I mean, you may have a tiny bit of blue if you’ve got a really, really hot fire, but it’s nothing. It’s it’s not going to impair melatonin production at all. And that’s the issue here is the artificial light at night is elevating cortisol, which is down regulating melatonin. And of course Melatonin is not just your sleep hormone. It’s very important as an antioxidant too, Melatonin is something that’s been shown in several studies to have some cancer protective benefits.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% and I’ll put up I’ll put a couple of links in here for people that are listening. Regarding my favorite monitors, I use the eye care monitors, and I think those have really been super helpful for me. So I’ll put a link down below people can access that. Okay, that’s good. We talked about some of the blue light glasses, there’s the the Swanwick glasses, there’s the true dark glasses. Those are some good ones off the bat, you can jump on Amazon and look for some ones that have good reviews on there. I think those are great. There’s some blue light glasses that that go over glasses. So if you wear glasses, you can look for a pair of blue lights that go over that that’s on top of that. But if you want extra protection, you’ll have that there. That’s a good kind of first step in the right direction. Why don’t we talk about mechanism? I think this is important. So we talked about like the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system. This is important. So the sympathetic nervous system is kind of controlled by the adrenal gland. So the sympathetic is the gas. It’s the Go, go, go go go Stress, Stress, Stress, Stress, Stress, and the adrenals kind of are the gateway between the nervous system and the sympathetic response because of the cortisol response and the adrenaline response. So typically, when there’s some kind of a stress, adrenaline is the first thing that comes to the table. And then cortisol comes a little bit later. So think of think of adrenaline as the primary it Prime’s the pump and then once the engine is going, now cortisol is flooding the zone afterwards. And so when you have a lot of these stress hormones going, you’re number one going to be shunting blood flow to the arms and the legs to fight and flee, you’re going to be making less enzymes and acids and digestive juices so your digestion won’t be as good. So if you’re eating healthy, you’re more likely to get bloated and gassy and have indigestion. And you’re less likely to absorb a lot of those nutrients. So if you’re eating lots of good amino acids and minerals, you won’t be able to ionize them and absorb them properly. And so we want to do natural strategies that decrease that sympathetic nervous system response which is going to help modulate adrenaline and modulate cortisol. And part of how we do that is we have to stimulate the parasympathetic side. So for instance, this new Pepsi product you mentioned, we don’t I’m not supporting Pepsi, but I’m supporting the mechanism. l theanine is a good precursor that Evan mentioned to Gabba, gamma amino butyric acid, and that’s a inhibitory neurotransmitter, think of it as the brake, it’s the stop the slow down. So think of the sympathetic nervous system response is it’s the shifting gear going from first, a second, third to fourth, fourth to fifth, it’s going faster, faster, faster, the parasympathetics. And the inhibitory response is down shifting, it’s going from 5 to 442-332-2221. And then park in that car. And so things like GABA can be helpful. passionflower, magnesium are excellent things. There’s different adaptogens that we use, like holy basil and ashwagandha that really helped decrease and help down shift that stressed out engine and bring it to a lower gear where you can slow down and relax.

Evan Brand: Oh, speaking of ashwagandha This is funny to man, a lot of the things we’ve been talking about for a very long time are becoming more mainstream. I never have the radio on because I’ve got streaming radio in the car, so we never have the real radio on. And so the this advertisement comes on, and it’s you know, the typical radio announcer voice, it’s this lady. And it’s this. It’s just talking about sleep and stress and all that and the lady’s like introducing ashwagandha gummies, an Ayurvedic herb that’s been used for thousands of years, it can really help you relax, and I thought, wow, a radio commercial for ashwagandha. This is hilarious times are changing. So it’s funny. This is something that you and I use all the time clinically And personally, and it really does help you can take ashwagandha during the day to help blunt stress but you can also use it in the evening, take a dose before bed, Stephen buehner, the herbalist I really love because of his books online, he talks about ashwagandha being very, very helpful in terms of calming down like brain inflammation, which can impair sleep associated with Lyme, so people that have that sleep, or if you’re waking up at two or 3am and you’re kind of bolting awake or having nightmares. You know, ashwagandha may be something to help. I’m a big fan of Magnolia Magnolia is a bark that can be very helpful. You and I’ve talked about relora. In the past relora is actually a blend of two different plants. I believe it’s two barks that are combined to create the patented relora. That’s something clinically shown to help modulate cortisol at night. You mentioned the passion flower, I like to mix passion flower with motherwort, especially if it’s a monkey brain situation. motherwort can really help calm the the racing thoughts, the racing mind motherwort, something that Rosemary gladstar and many other famous herbalist, they recommend keeping it in your first aid kit or in the car. So if you get in a car wreck, or if you have a traumatic experience, you could take a dose and mother would never really settle you down, you know, with all the shutdowns and a lot of our clients that are running small businesses and other things that I’ve had massive amount of reports of stress issues happening over the last six months. And so I really think the time that you and I are putting this out is important. It’s always important, but it’s more important now. Because once your sleep quality goes out the window, what happens then well, you have a shorter fuse, you are going to be more irritable, you could be more anxious, you could be more depressed, you may have cognitive issues. So you may not be making good decisions as a parent or as a boss or as a CEO. So I mean, this affects every aspect of your life, you really cannot ignore this and just go pound the coffee. First thing in the morning, you can do the coffee, but you’ve got to be making sure you’re doing all the nighttime strategies as well. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% I love it really, really good points off the bat. Also a couple other strategies I want to highlight is exercising too close to bed. So exercise, it’s a stress it does activate the sympathetic nervous system because that’s how you get blood flow to the arms and legs into the extremities. And then of course cortisol and immobilize glucose in the muscles and such. And so that is part of the stress response. So you got to make sure the more your parasympathetics are stressed right your rest digest part of the nervous system. The less strenuous the less sympathetic stimulating exercise you should be doing. And of course, you need to allow more buffer time to transition back into the parasympathetics at bedtime. So if you’re working out like at six or seven o’clock and then you’re trying to wind down At nine or 10, asleep by 11, that may not be enough time. So the more stressed you are you want to look at doing exercise first thing in the morning, and you always want to answer my three questions appropriately. Alright, you want to answer positively to these three things? Number one is do I feel better after the workout than when I started? Number two is, can I emotionally repeat the workout? Do you feel so depleted afterwards? Where you just you couldn’t emotionally do it, like, you may like have that high where you’re like, Oh, I feel good. And then like, you catch your breath, like 10 minutes, and you’re like, Oh, thank God, that’s done. You want to feel that sense of like, no, I could do that. Again, like I could do it again, you want to feel that kind of a sense of accomplishment. And then number three is you want to feel not excessively sore or beaten up afterwards. So that next morning, you wake up, you know, barring the fact that you slept good and all that’s okay, you didn’t drink alcohol, you want to feel not excessively sore with the exception. If you throw in maybe a new exercise you haven’t done in a while maybe some lunges or a deadlift, outside of something that’s a full body movement, you shouldn’t feel overly beaten up. 

Evan Brand: Yep, good points, good points. And it’s possible, you could use some of those herbs to try to calm down that response. Right? If your work schedule just doesn’t allow it and you have to do a six 7pm workout. Like you said, maybe it’s not too intense. So you still could settle down, but maybe you, you do take a dose of some type of an adrenal cocktail, after the after the workout, I think that could be really smart. And then let’s go into a couple other mechanisms.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Just to highlight one thing before we move on topic. So if that’s the case, that’s the only window there’s three major levers with exercise frequency, intensity, duration. So frequency is how often you work out. Is it every day, you taking a day off in between Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday kind of thing. And then of course, that’s frequency intensity is how hard Are you working out as well as the rest in between? So like, a compound lift like a a deadlift or a front squat, right? Isn’t it be a lot harder than like a bicep curl or military press right, the more you activate, the more joints you activate, the harder it is. So you could shift away from multi joint stuff. Or you do multi joint stuff with less weight, okay, and provide more rest time between sets. And then duration, of course, is going to be how long the workout is right? Instead of a 45 minute workout, you go to a 30 or a 20. So you just keep on frequency, adjust the frequency, how many days intensity kind of workout lifts, you’re doing the weight as well as the rest time. And then the duration is the overall length of the workout cutting that down so you can move the lever on those. And I always recommend the easiest first thing is allowing a day off in between to recover. And then keeping the workout shorter, right, Charles poliquin did research on this finding that the cortisol response starts to significantly elevate once you go longer than 45 minutes. So keeping the workout under 45 minutes. And if you’re really stressed probably 20 to 30. And just rely on more circuit type of workouts to get the exercise done. So do three movements in a row, upper lower upper or front back front, however you want to pair it. That way you can get a lot more volume and and exercise accomplished in a shorter amount of time. 

Evan Brand: Yep, that’s good advice. I wanted to talk about the gut. And we could probably mention blood sugar, too. I know that when I had gut infections, my sleep was terrible. Now the mechanism of it. I mean, that’s debatable, you and I could try to tease this apart together. I think ultimately the answer is getting rid of gut infections is going to improve sleep in many ways. But I think one of the mechanisms is probably some of the gut bugs possibly affecting blood sugar because the gut bugs are eating and they’re feeding on your nutrition. So I definitely had more hypoglycemia issues. And hypoglycemia, if that blood sugar’s crashing, blood sugar gets too low, you and I’ve talked about this, the adrenals have to pinch hit, basically, and try to help out to get that glucose regulated. So if blood sugar is crashing, maybe you’re not eating enough with meals, maybe you didn’t have enough fat or protein with dinner, or maybe you ate too early. If you ate at five and you’re going to bed at 10 that’s already five hours and the blood sugar may be dropping to a level that’s too low. And then if you compound that with having gut infections, then you really could get into trouble. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% and like you mentioned earlier, the stress and the inflammation from a gut infection. We see it when we do adrenal cortisol rhythm testing, is we’ll start to see a premature elevation of cortisol in the morning. Now what does that mean for you? Well, we have this natural cortisol rather than people watching on video, I’m going to do some demonstrations. But cortisol comes up in the morning, and then it comes up in the morning but it really increases that first hour of waking isn’t a double from when you woke up to one hour later. So it starts to here’s waking, here’s one hour later and then it gently curves, here’s bedtime and then as you sleep it’s kind of flat and then gently starts to go up like this. So when you have gut infections and inflammation in the gut, and a lot of most infections are on an opposite sleep and wake cycle then we are so the more active they are means more inflammation. More inflammation means Is what more of a cortisol response so that cortisol prematurely starts to rise in the middle of the night. And then that can start to take you out of deeper sleep and cause you to wake up earlier. So, by addressing gut infections, you’re naturally supporting that healthy circadian rhythm. And of course, if we can support natural and influence, natural anti inflammatory support, that also takes stress off the adrenals because the adrenals are one of your number one, anti inflammatory mechanisms, right? cortisol, aka cortisone, and then pharmaceutical, prednisone, are all anti inflammatory mediums that conventional medicine uses for topical skin or asthma inhaled are injections in the joints, right for inflammation. So we have our natural anti inflammatories that we want to work on supporting and utilizing.

Evan Brand: Yep, and we’ve mentioned this, but just to repeat, so the cortisol is downregulating melatonin, that’s the mechanism. So people that just go take melatonin, that may help but I would argue that it’s not necessarily root cause. And so that’s why we’re going to be running these panels to look at the hormones, we’re going to be running testing to look at the stool, we’re going to be running panels to look at the urine and try to confirm what’s going on. Just to be clear for people listening or that are not aware, we’re clinicians, we deal with this stuff every day all day clinically. And so we have thousands and thousands of, you know, case studies that we can report back from and tell you what’s worked and what hasn’t worked. If you go to your conventional doctor in you talk about sleep issues, just to quickly compare and contrast. It’s going to be something like possibly a Lorazepam if it’s an anxiety based sleep issue,

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: -like a benzodiazepine that works on gaba.

Evan Brand: Yeah, exactly. So you’re going to get a benzo which are highly, highly addictive and habit forming, or possibly, you’re going to get something like an Ambien, which in terms of pharmaceuticals, I will tell you some of the hardest drugs for people to get off of are the benzos and the Ambien, which I don’t even know what category Ambien is in, but man, people really, really struggle to get off of that one.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% so you’re going to have Ambien, right, you’re going to have Lunesta, you’re going to have your benzos They may even be using some SSRIs to increase serotonin, which then increases melatonin. There’s, I think it’s rozerem rwhich is a gaba kind of in that gaba benzo family. So rozerem. You mentioned I mentioned Lunesta, and Ambien, what else is there, I think there’s trazadone is another one that I think is used sometimes for sleep as well. So those are a lot of the common sleep medications. And they don’t really address a root cause. And that’s the problem. And a lot of the sleep medications, like we mentioned, the Ambien or Lunesta, they don’t allow deeper restoration of sleep. So you kind of have like your four phases of sleep, right phase one, phase two, phase three, phase four. And then you go from phase four to three, two ones. This is like once, one cycle is 1234, phase 24321. And you don’t really get to go into these deeper three and four levels, where REM sleep and deep restoration happen. So we want to avoid medications that prevent us from getting into deep sleep. So that being said, we want to make sure we sleep. So we want to utilize every natural mechanism possible. So with sleep 10pm to 2am is that deep physical restoration, where you have good physiological repair, and that’s where growth hormone increases. That’s where we repair structural tissue, and such and bones and joints and ligaments, Hair, Skin nails. And then we have the psychological emotional repair, typically between two and 6am, where a lot of our neurotransmitters and hormones kind of turnover that help us with mood and energy and emotional stuff. And supposedly, a lot of our dreams are us processing a lot of our emotional stress throughout the day, right? So we want to make sure we get to sleep on time, that’s really important, right, the hours before midnight are really important. And we want to make sure that we’re getting the good time of sleep, we want to make sure that we’re decreasing light exposure, which it takes away from our melatonin. And then we want to make sure that we are just having good nutrients on board. So when we’re sleeping, we have the raw materials, amino acids and fatty acids to provide the building blocks to assist in the repair process. Yeah, vegetarians, vegans, they have a lot of sleep issues historically. And I would argue it’s due to the lack of these amino acids that you need to really help fuel some of these neurotransmitters. So back to the I want to just hit that because you hit something really important. And then when vegetarians and vegans get a lot of the amino acids, they’re not really bioavailable. So if you go look at the bioavailability of amino acids in vegetarian vegan foods, they’re not very bioavailable. Now, vegans and vegetarians can get by with free form amino acid supplementation, a high quality pea protein, maybe a rice protein, so they can get by with amino acid supplements, but it’s very hard from a raw standpoint, meaning you’re just relying on Whole Foods to get those amino acids and when you typically do combine them appropriately. You get a ton of carbohydrates. So if you’re more insulin sent or resistant or more Carbohydrates sensitive if you don’t do well with carbs that could cause more blood sugar issues and more sleep issues with that. 

Evan Brand: Yep, yep. So back to the drug. The drug name is zolpidem sold under the brand name Ambien anyway, we talked about alcohol A while ago, we talked about like, some of the date rape drugs and some of the bad stuff that people do. Apparently this GOP. Yeah, apparently this drug actually was used or has been used as a date rape drug as well. And so it is a non benzodiazepine. But guess what, it’s a GABA receptor agonist. So it works by increasing GABA binds to the same location as benzos. So tricky little varmints. It’s a non bidco but it binds to the same GABA receptor as a benzo. So to me, it’s a frickin benzo, you know, not not technically but in terms of the addiction potential and the withdrawal and the adverse effects and the dependency it’s it’s no good. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So yeah, same thing with Lunesta here, I’m looking at some of the the mechanism of action on the nessa same kind of thing. It has a coupling interaction with the GABA receptor sites. So kind of it’s coupled with like a benzo. So it’s kind of very similar to a benzo and then the rozerem. It works on some of the m two receptor sites, I think some of the same receptor sites that work on melatonin, so I’m pretty sure it’s like a melatonin kind of agonist, if you will. And yeah, right here. rosarium is a highly selective melatonin receptor site type one type two agonist. So what does that mean? agonist means it helps the melatonin in those synapses to be it increases it stimulates it with a little bit and kind of gets a little bit more into gear, if you will. Now, my whole I’d much rather be using melatonin as a whole as I rather just provide more of that building block or more of that raw material to help right and gets more natural than just being an agonist and upregulating the receptor sites to it. And of course, even before that, I’d much rather use a lot more of the amino acids like five HTP, and B six, and providing more of the building blocks. So we don’t disrupt too many feedback loops, or the herbs just to help regulate the adrenals. And then you stay away from this crap completely. But why is how bad it is. So we kind of always start low and then work our way up. So there’s always kind of like a, an algorithm and how we are applying things and even natural we want to do the least invasive to the most invasive if we need it. But of course sleeps is such a huge tenant in our body’s ability to heal. 

Evan Brand: Yeah. And why is this not on the nightly news? Well, I mean, Big Pharma is highly involved in the media companies, right? So they’re, they’re not interested in melatonin, which is what maybe a quarter or maybe 50 cents per dose, they want pharmaceuticals, because there’s a lot more money involved. And you can’t patent it, you and I’ve discussed this patent issue many, many times. So they can’t patent anything. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: When you just look at the mechanisms, right, like, look what they’re doing, like with rozerem, it’s just it’s an agonist on the receptor site. So what they do is they kind of skate the surf, they kind of tiptoe around it and try to figure out, Okay, this is this mechanism is important, how can we monkey around with the receptor site and adjust that and make it better or over, you know, stimulate the receptor site to be more sensitive. So they’re kind of looking at what the the actual mechanism is, and then they try to just skirt the the periphery on it to make it work better, right, which a lot of times have side effects, because that’s what typical drugs, do they have side effects? That’s right. That’s right. So I mentioned the I got into the nutrition piece a little bit talked about kind of the the fat and then just one thing, sorry. And they have to do that. So people thinking, well, I don’t understand like, what’s the point of that? Well, you can’t patent a natural compounds. So when you have things like melatonin or natural amino acid compounds, you can’t patent it. So they know these mechanisms are already helpful. So you hire a whole bunch of chemists to go in there and biochem people to go in there and figure out okay, this is the mechanism, what can we do to create a synthetic compound, maybe we just create like an isomer, or something that looks very similar, that buffers or adjusts receptor sites, but is synthetic enough where they can patent it. So that’s why they they can’t patent natural things. That’s why they they look at already known mechanisms, and they try to adjust it and author it just a little bit. So they can patent it. And it never works as good as the natural stuff. And never will because of the fact that you can’t. You can’t improve upon Mother Nature. You just can’t. 

Evan Brand: Yep, I know. I love the herbs. I love them. So I hit on the whole, like, not enough fat and protein piece. And I see that a lot. Like I mentioned the vegetarian vegans. I mean, typically these people are depressed, they’re anxious and their sleep is crap. Now, the one happy vegan listening, good for you, but talk to me in five years, and I’ll be curious to see what happens. But back to the blood sugar piece. So there are some things that you may need to do to help with the blood sugar. That could just be something as simple as eating like a little fat bomb before you go to bed. I mean, it could be like a little piece of some coconut oil or some coconut butter or maybe grass fed butter or maybe I don’t know a couple macadamias are pecans are something that can help just kind of throw a little bit of fat on the fire before you go to bed. Now it can do a huge, huge thing. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Correct. Some also do better do really good with a little bit of fat and maybe a tiny bit of carbohydrate, whether it’s a handful of berries, or a little bit of like, honey. And sometimes that can be helpful because the little bit of glucose can help those with the amino acids cross the blood brain barrier. So if you go so low carb at night, sometimes those amino acids can’t cross. And so I kind of go both ways. Try with less sugar. And if you need a little bit of sugar with a little bit of fat and protein, and you can always add a little bit of sugar just to help the amino acids cross that blood brain barrier. 

Evan Brand: That’s smart. You know, I’ve tried that like doing a chamomile tea, which is another easy good strategy. I’ve tried chamomile just by itself, and then chamomile with honey. And I will report with a little bit of honey, delicious, but it does help a little bit with the sleep.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and just kind of just try it on both sides. Because too much sugar can also create blood sugar swings and cortisol spikes when your blood sugar drops. And that can cause problems. So it’s all about finding that right balance. So I always recommend start with none. And then add just a little bit in incrementally. 

Evan Brand: Yeah, and we through a lot of people. So where do you start with all this? Well, I think the blue light, the lifestyle stuff, not exercising too close or too intensely before bed. I think all those things are great, getting your bowels regulated, making sure that you’re testing yourself for gut infections and getting those things addressed. And then reaching out to a practitioner like Dr. Justin or myself, because we deal with this stuff. Personally, we deal with this stuff clinically. We’ve done it countless times. And it’s incredibly rewarding what we do, because we’re showing you on paper, where is this issue coming from? You know, some people blame it on their genetics, like oh, my mother, she never slept good. Or my dad Oh, he had terrible insomnia. He’s on antidepressants that are okay, genetics are not your destiny. So I don’t care how your parents sleep or not sleep. That is not your destiny. There are root causes that we can identify. And we can address these we can get them on paper, and we can retest and show you look, your basics is back up great because you needed that because you were also low in serotonin, which you needed more of because both of those ingredients, boom, make melatonin, you didn’t have that recipe. And now on paper, you’re reporting improve sleep, hooray. But look at the labs, we can confirm you fix the mechanism of these neurotransmitter issues and these nutrient deficiencies. And that is just why we do what we do. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Exactly. The other thing I would say is going to be female hormones. female hormones play a big role, especially progesterone, because progesterone is a natural gaba chloride channel opener opens those gaba chloride helps flood gaba into the zone, which helps you relax. So female hormone issues, especially for menopausal women can be a big ones, we got to look at estrogen, estradiol and progesterone that’s really important. I would also they’re also kind of like their modulating supplements that can be helpful that may not plug into the root cause. So when I’m with the patient, I’m working them up. I’m trying to figure out what’s the underlying mechanism? Or is it multiple systems meaning is there poor digestion, indigestion, poor gut issues, and then autoimmune stuff with adrenals and thyroid, and maybe some detoxification issues, we try to focus on each of those systems, work on the diet like nutrient dense anti inflammatory, low toxin, get digestion, good, stabilize blood sugar, flood nutrients into the zone. And then we’re going to run organic acids and we’re going to see neurotransmitters, we’re going to see be six amino acid status, we’re going to look at serotonin and dopamine, adrenaline, that can help on the amino acid side. We mentioned things like melatonin, that’s always a later stage always want to do the amino acids first. But then there are things like California Poppy, or like you mentioned lemon balm, or Valerian or CBD as other like natural compounds that are out there that can be helpful, that may help either kind of attenuate that sympathetic response, and may help just kind of upregulate GABA a little bit. It may just have a very kind of sedative kind of relaxing effect, usually working as a natural kind of benzo right and flooding with gaba. So if you plug one of these natural things in, don’t just think that that’s it. Always try to trace it back to the mechanism that drove the issue. To begin with. You really always want to think root cause and then expand out. And if you find a supplement that helps try to always trace it back to what the original mechanism was. Does that make sense? 

Evan Brand: Yeah, does man you just like opened up a whole new can of words here. So I’m going to take a few minutes on packet. You mentioned thyroid you mentioned autoimmunity. So hashimotos it’s really common to have sleep issues, because if that immune system is attacking the thyroid, all of a sudden you’ve got some of this hormone leaking out into the bloodstream. So some of the things that you and I will do, yes, we can use the herbs. But one could argue that even the herbs are not root cause because if the antibodies are attacking the thyroid, yeah, it’s great to go and use mother work to calm the heart down. But the tachycardia that’s causing the insomnia is coming from the thyroid and this person is eating gluten. They’re doing sandwiches for lunch, so We got to work backwards on getting those thyroid antibodies down. So that- not so. So that’s my comment there. But then you opened up a whole nother can of worms, make sure I circle back to mold and Lyme and co infections real quick, but go ahead. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So just to highlight one thing, when we’re working with patients, we’re always thinking that way, we’re always thinking, Okay, we’re going to try this, try this, we’re going to connect it back to the mechanism of action. But I know a lot of people are going to be listening, they’ll be like, Oh, I’m going to try this supplement or that and they’re writing their list down and what things are going to try, that’s cool. But just you know, if you don’t have that clinicians mindset, you may ignore the root cause. So if you have an issue where you’re trying a couple of things, and you’re not quite getting the results, or it’s a steady issue that’s continuing to happen over the years, make sure you reach out to a good functional medicine doctor, like myself, or Evan, the we can kind of work you through that. But at least try a couple things on your own. But don’t ignore that root issue and get a good functional medicine person to help you. If that issue is more chronic. 

Evan Brand: Yeah, because it’s not a deficiency of passionflower. Right, right. So it’s not just like we joke on drugs, it’s not a deficiency of those either. Now, let’s just briefly open up a whole nother can of worms here Lyme mold, co infections, mast cell issues, these things very, very, very much affected my sleep. And so Lyme really affects sleep. So make sure if you have a history of tick bites, or if your partner has it, because it can be sexually transmitted, that you address it, you either test for it, or you just try to go after it using herbs and see if you have a positive or negative reaction. I can tell you with confidence just using Japanese knotweed, for me improves my sleep quality. What’s the mechanism? Well, Japanese knotweed is anti inflammatory because of the resveratrol, but it does help to kill the spire Riki borrelia burgdorferi, which causes Lyme. So so that’s that, and then mold. Mold really, really affects the nervous system. And it will down regulate melatonin, Dr. Shoemaker. He’s kind of like the main medical doc that’s talked about mold for many years, he discusses all the hormones that get affected, your testosterone can go low, you can have issues with Msh. So then you start to burn easily and you can’t get a good tan, and you can get your antidiuretic hormone is messed up. So now you’re up in the middle of the night to go pee three, four or five times a night and people report Well, I sleep fine. But if I didn’t have to pee, I’d sleep better. It’s like, well, what’s the mechanism of the peeing? Is it a prostate? Is it a mold thing? Is it a toxin thing? metals? Yeah, adrenals heavy metal dosterone.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: You can’t hold on to your fluids. So you’re dumping your minerals all the time. 

Evan Brand: So if you’re supporting adrenals, and aldosterone can come back up, right? 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s Yeah, it’s very possible. So supporting the minerals will help because you’re just not going to have the loss of the minerals. So the minerals are really important for your cells to work well, sodium, potassium, and for your electrolytes and for your heart. So those are really important things to kind of keep in, keep in mind, for sure. 

Evan Brand: Babesia bartonella, co infections, any can any kind of CO infection, those can affect it. Chronic pain, of course can affect sleep. So if you’ve got some type of an issue like mycoplasma that’s affecting the joints, or maybe you’ve got prepatellar, some kind of bacterial infection attacking the joints that causes pain that causes sleep issues, this is why you need help. You can’t just go by passionflower and assume all your problems are going to go away. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep, a couple other questions are coming in here live on the chat as we go. Yes, low thyroid hormone can cause sleep issues I’ve seen reports of and some patients who have low thyroid will even add one of their thyroid doses a little bit before bed. And that can help as well. So it just depends if you actually have low tea, you want to take it during the day, but then also sometimes at night, it can be helpful, sometimes just supporting it during the day is enough to spill into night and help asleep. And yeah, things like pregnenolone right before bed can be a little bit stimulating. So anyone that has sleep issues will try to do their last dose of pregnenolone like around 3pm da ga less stimulating, but if you’re on the fence, you know, always do it really early, just to rule that variable out and see if that’s a problem or not. 

Evan Brand: Yeah, that’s good. Yeah, progesterone, I experimented with a little bit of that before bed. Wow. You can tell it hits the GABA receptors. I mean, well.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Progesterone is great, like a lot of my female patients that need it will do that, you know, an hour or two before bed, and it really opens up the gaba. And if we need we can throw in some extra l theanine along with it, or some gaba itself. And that can be very helpful and really promote a lot of relaxation. 

Evan Brand: Yep. So the toxic thing is just the toxin piece. You know, I think it’s something that we didn’t get into much till the end here. But it is something that would be in our standard workup where we’d be looking for these these kind of hidden, more nuanced root causes. And, you know, just to restate, you could go from referral to referral in the conventional medical world, and you’re never even going to get close to the conversations or information that we just provided you today. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: No, I mean, it’s hard. The conventional medical model is a three to five minute visit. They’re just trying to collect just enough symptoms to figure out what drug they’re going to prescribe whether it’s a rosarium or a benzo or an SSRI or what whatever other kind of mini me new drugs that are out there many meaning it’s very similar to an old drug, just the new name, new Patent so they can re up that seven year patents. And that’s kind of how a lot of conventional medicine works. They’re not really diving in deep, they’re not even really thinking about deep root cause mechanisms. They’re just trying to get you to sleep. And it’s sad, but it’s system that we’re in. And I’m glad that we have information like this. It’s out there at your fingertips so you guys can be more informed and take some action to get to the root cause.

Evan Brand: Yeah absolutely. If you need any help please reach out to Justin or myself, his website is JustinHealth.com, my website, EvanBrand.com. And we love that you guys are here with us so more to come.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And put your comments down below. We really appreciate you guys listening, and I want to get some interaction about what you think works for you. I read the comments. So when I get feedback, like oh, this worked or that work, it really helps me because, you know, when you see thousands of patients like myself and Evan have, that’s really how you get good. Like when you start off in this field, you get a really good base of physiology and biochem and nutrition, you apply it with yourself and your family and then patients around you. And then you grow as you get more patients and you get more data points. So it’s very helpful. And then if you enjoyed today’s podcast, please leave us a review, we’ll put a link down below where you can click and you can leave us a review on iTunes, we really, really appreciate it. 

Evan Brand: Yeah, share this with all your friends and family on sleep drugs, we can’t legally tell them to get off of it, but we’ll show them a different path. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and if you’re on benzos really important, that’s a very, very, very slow taper. So if your doctor decides to take them off fast, be very careful. Sometimes these things have to be tapered over the course of a year. So just be very careful. If you’re on drugs and very dependent. You want to do it responsibly and very slowly with the prescriber as you kind of taper down and as you fix the root underlying issues. 

Evan Brand: Yeah, well said I mean you’ll listen to this podcast you’d be like well screw those drugs I’m stopping! Bad idea don’t do that same thing with like hypertension medications. I mean, we’ve done podcasts on naturally regulating you know blood pressure and some people, Oh my god, these drugs are terrible. I’m getting off of them. You can you could get rebound hypertension Same thing with the sleep drugs, you know, you can have a lot of issues with the GABA receptor I mean being so saturated with the drug and then you just going cold turkey, these are not cold turkey drugs. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, my general recommendation is get a good foundation, diet, lifestyle, sleep, movement hydration, get that there. Before you go in and ask that prescribed or start dropping the dose slow. So get the foundation right before you make any changes. 

Evan Brand: Yeah I mean look, we want people to be healthy, we want them to be drug-free, if possible. And if that’s our goal ang long term plan, we love it but there’s a time and a place. So just hang in there, i know it sucks, people get so mad. I dont wanna be on this drug! They say that so often but they have to. That’s okay, i’m not judging you, it’s okay if you need it know. Let’s get you healthy.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Every now and then I find 1% of people having a hard time getting off of it or just can’t get their sleep right, but I would say 99% people are gonna be able to address significantly and improve their sleep. So stick at it, you have a really high percent, so keep it up and goodluck for everyone listening.

Evan Brand: Yep, absolutely. Well let’s wrap this up. JustinHealth.com for consults around the world, and EvanBrand.com. We look forward to helping you. Take care we’ll talk to you later.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Have a good one ya’ll. Bye.


References:

https://www.evanbrand.com/

https://justinhealth.com/

Audio Podcast:  

https://justinhealth.libsyn.com/natural-hacks-to-improve-sleep-podcast-303


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