How to Deal With Stress and Feeling Overwhelmed? | Podcast #376

Connections between the brain and gut abound, which can be seen in the dysfunctions that often unite them. Many neurological and mood disorders often have enteric manifestations, GI disorders may present with neurological and psychiatric symptoms, and psychological stress may adversely impact microbiome balance and GI function.

Dr. J and Evan Brand discuss that consideration of the bidirectional relationship of the gut-brain axis will inform individual treatment strategies. Managing external stress-related factors while optimizing gut health may jointly address some chronic health conditions. Specifically, personalized therapeutic strategies that combine stress transformation approaches with gut health interventions, such as functional testing, nutrition, and natural supplements, may help to optimize gut function and bolster related body systems. Learn more about supporting the microbiome and its effect on overall health when you subscribe to this channel!

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

In this episode, we cover:

0:00 – Introduction
0:46 – Stress
6:41 – Brain Chemistry
7:51 – Water Filtration and Organic Foods
13:56 – Cortisol Patterns
23:13 – Stress and Hormones
30:00 – Testing and Functional Strategies


https://youtube.com/live/zJccNb1lT3M

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And we are live. It’s doctor J here in the house with Evan Brand. Really excited. We are back doing our live podcast. Really excited to be back in the saddle. Evan, how we doing, man? What’s going on? 

Evan Brand: Oh, doing really well. I’m excited to talk about stress. My wife, she woke up this morning.Which is like my jaws tight was like grinding my teeth last night and maybe you need to talk about that today. So I thought, OK, everyone is stressed, there’s a lot on everyone’s plate, but it’s really how you respond to it that really determines whether it makes you and you become someone and something and you get success out of your stress. Or do you just get frazzled and burned out and you resort to alcohol and tobacco and other addictions, chocolate and wine and whatever else to cope with that? And I think there’s a lot healthier coping mechanisms or stress for burnout, for feelings of overwhelm. And you and I have done this for years clinically. We’ve helped people through the toughest of cases. You and I have taken the huge load on our shoulders of, you know, trying to be the helper, be the healer with someone that’s struggling. And that’s a lot, that’s a heavy toll on us. So there’s things that you and I do personally. And then there’s things that you and I do clinically and then we’ve got some studies to kind of verify you know, what we’re seeing.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% So when I look at stress.You have the actual stress issue, like whatever that stress issue is, right? And so feeling anxious or feeling stressed about an issue is a good thing, right? Part of the reason that is there is to get you motivated to get off your butt to solve the problem. So I always look at the issue and I’m like. Right. Why do I feel stressed? Usually there’s you haven’t closed the loop yet. I call it closing the loops. Problem, right? You take action to resolve the problem, the problem goes away. That’s the closed loop, right? And so you have a lot of people with open loops. Meaning they have a problem out there and they just haven’t even figured out the solution. So when it comes to being healthy and having good neurotransmitters, good adrenal function, good healthy diet and lifestyle habits, good anti-inflammatory type of environment, nutrient dense foods coming in. Good nutrition, your ability to process one that stressor when it hits you, it’s not gonna hit you as hard. It’s not gonna knock you off your pedestal to you’re going to be able to adapt and you’re going to be able to think clearly and troubleshoot whatever the issue is. And so I always look at a problem. I said OK, got it, how do I close the loop on that, what’s the action item to execute? That so I always just kind of get clear, have a list. What are the things I can do and set in motion to resolve the issue. I think it’s really important if you just dust it away. The healthiest adrenal glands eventually is gonna eat away at you because you haven’t closed the loop. So always think about closing the loop on your issues #2 get healthier so these things don’t bug you as much, right? If you have good levels of B6, good levels of magnesium, you’re sleeping adequately, you have good blood sugar stability, Good amino acids. It’s gonna allow you to be able to process it. You’re not gonna activate that fight or flight part of your nervous system. That shuts down the frontal cortex and activates the reptilian brain stem part of the brain that’s all about fight or flee, fight or flee, fight or flee. And so the more you can keep this kind of reptilian brain from being activated, and then you can use that frontal cortex, you’ll be able to sit back, become troubleshoot the issue and close the loop.

Evan Brand: And this is hard if you’ve got toxins, if you’ve got lyme, different infections. I mean we’ve seen in the literature that certain infections and toxins. Basically, decrease the blood flow to that front part of the brain. So you become a monkey. You do become primitive as you mentioned. This reptile brain kicks in and you can’t make good decisions and you certainly can’t comprehend the future. You get stuck living in the day, the hour, the minute with that stress and when you say close the loop, I think that resonates for a lot of people, but many people are afraid to close the loop because this means that they have to end a friendship that’s toxic. They have to end a marriage that’s failing. They have to, you know, fire someone that they don’t like. They have to quit their job because they have a bad boss. So.You know, closing the loop sounds so simple, but this could be a huge roadblock. You know, for people, and I’ve seen it, where you’ve got a woman eating perfectly. She’s doing amazing with her supplements. But for example, here’s the case study. She’s in an open relationship and she’s miserable and she hates it. And she’s jealous and her husband’s with these other women and she doesn’t want him to be. And so there’s issues there. I don’t freaking care how much ashwagandha this lady pops. She’s not going to supplement out of this situation. That’s intense. And there is a place for closing the loop. And you can’t supplement your way out of a situation like that. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. In relationship, it’s always good to have healthy boundaries, right? It’s like good fences make good neighbors, right? Having good emotional boundaries and how were relationship operates, right? If your families asking 10 times of you, then, then you, then ten times of you, then they help you on the backside, right, this kind of Arctic give and take that. So you always have to have clear boundaries. I think that’s a really, really important one. There’s an awesome book out there. Um, by Henry Cloud called boundaries. That’s a really good woman. I see patients in relationships. They may not even be a relationship with their spouse. It could be a relationship with family or friends where they’re just kind of a parasitic element of people asking many multiples from that person. Then that person’s providing back and there should always be a give and take. Right. I always tell patients like when you play catch, I throw the ball, you throw the ball, right. Emotionally, there’s a give and a take and it’s back and forth and it’s equal. When I start throwing the ball, you don’t throw it back. I run back over, get the ball, come back, throw it again, that, that, that’s, that’s you know very depleting, right? You missed the give and take, and so you gotta make sure your good, healthy boundaries are there. Also, with relationships, it’s always better to try to restructure. Kind of reboundify the relationship, then just exit. I think exiting a lot of relationships is just, uh, it’s an easy way out. It’s, you know, you just go somewhere and end your and go on to your life. I think it’s always better to see if you can repair or give people an opportunity to repair and get on the same page and see what happens from there. But either way, right, you have all these emotional issues. Get healthy. If you’re afraid to deal with these issues right now, put them on the back burner. No, you have to deal with them. Adjust your expectations of healing and try to get healthier so then you have better energy, better focused, better calmness to address whatever the problem is. 

Evan Brand: This is great advice and it’s uncomfortable and there are situations that are going to be intense, but I would encourage you just to go face first with those now if you have trouble making eye contact with these people. Some of that’s related to brain chemistry too. I see a lot of people that when they get in a stressful situation.They just shut down. They look down, they look away. They can’t face the person and therefore they can’t fully express themselves. That’s usually tied into low GABA, and so we can’t measure GABA on the organic acids. But we can measure serotonin, we can measure dopamine, we can measure endorphins. So before you and I go into a few of these studies and solutions, you know, let’s just give a little back story on some of this. And so, you know, when I had gut infections down in Texas, I had tons of anxiety. It wasn’t me, it was not my personality. It was the gut bugs. And when we looked in my brain chemistry, my serotonin was low. My dopamine was low. I had issues to fully get myself motivated. I still push through, but I didn’t wake up necessarily with that spark like I wanted, and so I know personally and you and I have seen it 1000 plus times clinically the low brain chemistry problem, it’s epidemic and it’s only gotten worse even in the last 10 years. You and I have been looking at these labs. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100%. And so again, there are some people that have been on board here with us for years listening and they’re super advanced. And so just kind of out of the gate, we’re going to just give a brief overview of foundational things. OK. So first thing out of the gate is an appointment my phone because I just changed my whole house water filtration here, and Evan and I were talking about it earlier today. So check this out. I’m gonna hold up my phone. So you can see here.The clean one on the left, that’s a brand new filter. And that all the way up to the webcam. 

Evan Brand: We can hardly see. Go closer. Yeah. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So the one on the left, right, the white one. That’s the new one.That’s the one that was in there for the last three months. I mean that is just nasty, dirty and gross that again that sense. That’s a post filter. So it went through a massive pre filter, went through the huge carbon based filter and then went through that afterwards. And it was dirty. It is nasty. I actually have it over on my on my bar countertop over there. So pretty pretty freaking gross. So, what does that mean? It means, prioritize good clean filtered water. If you don’t have a high water filter water filter system, we’ll put some links down below to the ones that we personally use, but in general, at least get a good quality glass water Topo Chico, Cheryl Steiner, a Perrier, a mountain valley one out of a good glass model was gonna be excellent during the day and then I definitely recommend getting a whole house water filter once you’re in a in a place where you can do it. Some people may be in an apartment, then maybe a temporary housing. You can always get an under the counter filter. There are even some temporary ones that actually go on top but still filter water out pretty well. But that’s pretty nasty. And so 70% of your body’s water in regards to all the liquids. So you need good clean filtered water without all the junky chemicals. Maybe drugs, maybe pesticide runoff? Bull run off, who knows. So the first thing is kind of get your water right. Comments there, Evan?

Evan Brand: Yeah, I mean, this is important because when you’re stressed, you’re gonna be dehydrated. You’re burning through everything. You’re burning through hydration, you’re burning through B vitamins. You and are looking at papers on B vitamins and magnesium for helping with stress. So we know that when you’re burning the candle, and most people in the modern world are.You need good water and the tap water. You can look up EWG and put in your zip code. It’s scary. I mean, almost every single city has insane high levels of trihalomethanes which are carcinogenic as you mentioned pesticide residue, pharmaceutical drugs like heart medications, beta blockers, anti anxiety, antidepressant medications. You know what’s scary? There are studies now being done on bays, some of these inland bodies of water. And there was one down, I think it was in Florida near Miami. Biscayne Bay is one of these most famous bays. They have an issue now where all of the fish. I’ll see if I can pull it up.They now have drugs in them. And it’s because of the runoff from people. So let me pull this up because this is.This is pretty crazy. This was, this actually came out over the summer this year. And I think it’s pretty shocking and most people don’t have a clue. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, there was that famous study on atrazine up at UC Berkeley showing the frogs were essentially having reproductive organ issues like a major. I think they were almost becoming like asexual and their sex organs were like switching some kind of weird dynamic what’s happening. Based on the hormone, like disrupting compounds in these pesticides. And that was atrazine. 

Evan Brand: Did you, did this pull up my screen here? Oh yeah, the screen share, I’m going to share with you. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Go ahead. 

Evan Brand: Alright, yeah. So here it is. Pharmaceutical drugs showing up in fish from South Florida waters. Yeah, so it’s Biscayne Bay and I know you’ve got 2.5 million Miami residents and a lot of those people are on pharmaceutical drugs and then they’re peeing that out and then some of that runoff is ending up in the water supply and then that runs off into the Bay and then the fish then accumulate those drugs. So they did a three-year study.They found the Valium. They found antibiotics. They found blood pressure medication in the blood and tissue of bone fish. One fish showed 17 different drugs. So here you are thinking you’re getting your fish clean. I’m gonna eat fresh fish. It’s like well. You know you’re looking at antidepressant treatment, medication, narcotics, pain relievers. That’s insane. Now they’re saying good news is that this is a catch and release species. But, what about the other fish that people are eating? So move. I don’t know. Just tuna fish. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. So I mean, getting your water clean, getting your food quality clean, organic food. Here’s the atrazine study. And they were talking about it here at UC Berkeley Press release back in 2002. But it was April 16th in the National Academy of Sciences, UC Berkeley, essentially what happened here, the frogs were developing, they were becoming hermaphrodite. They were heading both sex organs. So you could see testes here, ovaries, ovaries, and you could see abnormal gonads and male exposure to this type of frog.The frogs have become hermaphrodites. Both male and female due to the hormonal exposure. So you can see because the atrazine environment basically an uncontrolled experiment this would be no atrazine free environment talking about because herbicides been used for 40 years of 80 countries. It’s effect on sexual development and male frogs could be one of many factors in the global decline of amphibians. So crazy, right? Now we’re talking about lowest levels of 0.1 part per billion. So this is real. So that’s why I’m saying out of the gate, easiest thing out of the gate. Clean water, good water filter, organic food, organic food. And then outside of that, right then we could talk about blood sugar, stability, at least a pound worth of protein at every meal. I think it’s a really good making sure you have good fats that aren’t all pufa-based fats. Seed, nut oil based fats, refined vegetable oils, you know keeping it good healthy saturated fats, coconut oil, avocado, olive, you know cold press. You know most of your good quality fats coming from more stable.Had accelerated fat sources. This is great. And then after that you just adjust the carbs for your activity level and kind of your metabolic type, meaning do you need to lose weight? Are you kind of a skinnier person? Are you really active right? The more active and the more at an optimal weight you are, the more carbohydrates you can handle. So you got to adjust it. It’s not a one-size-fits-all on that. 

Evan Brand: Let’s transition. Talk about cortisol. Yeah. This is important for stress. When people think stress, most people think cortisol and you and I’ve run so many of these, probably more than anybody, I pulled up my screen. If you want to pull it up. This is a Dutch panel. That you and I run on almost everyone in regards to hormonal health and what you’re looking for is really the health of the cortisol pattern. So you can see here this particular female, she was absolutely exhausted. You could see for people on audio, you’re missing out, but you could go back to. Uh Justin Health YouTube channel and you can watch this video if you’re listening on the audio and you want to see the the the some of the screen shares. But you want to basically charge your smartphone battery first thing in the morning, get a full charge and that full charge last throughout the day, but in this case this woman, her cortisol pattern was completely shut. She was below range the entire day except for night time. She perked up just a little bit, and that could have been like maybe she was on her phone, she was watching a horror movie or a scary TV show or something an artificially boosted her cortisol. But this is the real issues. So no matter how clean your water is, if your cortisol pattern looks like this, you’re gonna be absolutely exhausted and you were gonna deal with stress terribly. You’re not going to deal with stress. How many people are you seeing like this now versus maybe 5 Years ago, do you feel like it’s becoming more common or no? 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, I mean it’s, it’s always tough because we’re, I’m seeing a large percent of the population that are have chronic health issues, right. So I’m always gonna get that, that slice that’s going to be significant. But yeah this type of pattern is, is a big deal, right, because not only is this a sign of you being chronically stressed and depleted, but this is a reverse cortisol rhythm, so you’re gonna be tired during the day and it’s gonna be harder for you to relax at night and recharge. So it makes it really difficult to get that good regenerative sleep wake cycle going. And so these are the people that have.Hard time sleeping at night and getting and reestablishing those good healthy lifestyle patterns that should be in place. That’s what makes it really tough. One thing if you’re just tired, but you can work on getting sleep and and recharging if we can’t. And then also this person, I guarantee you there’s there’s stress handling capacities gonna be at Max, so they’re just gonna like flip out on their kids, flip out on their friends at the simplest thing, or they’ll just be an overwhelmed and they’ll just be in flight constantly ignoring and sweeping all their problems under the rug because they jerked their capacity so low. 

Evan Brand: Yeah, and I know this particular female here was incredibly histamine intolerant. Someone in the comments said, let’s talk about histamine. So there is a component to that. And in her case, she was sensitive to everything, chemicals, fragrances, EMF food. So this was a, you know a pretty sick middle-aged woman, but I mean everything was completely crashed here and so you and I wanted to talk about some of the herbs. Now if we jump right into one of these papers on. What’s called Magnolia and Phellodendron? This is a blend, actually. And it’s usually under the patented name Relora. Some of the professional products you and I use contain Relora. Now. This is a good option for reducing stress and anxiety, but the problem is you really don’t just want to start taking supplements without the clinical data because if you look back at that woman and the cortisol pattern is completely crashed, if we were to go to something like Relora, I would say this is not an appropriate thing to use because if you look at the results of the study of supplementing Relora for four weeks, the salivary cortisol was18% lower in the Relora group. So what that means is they saw less stress, less tension, less depression, way less anger, less fatigue, less confusion, and a higher mood. But would you say in her case that’s not appropriate because she was so crashed already. We don’t want an 18% reduction in cortisol. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Now the question is what type of people were in that group, because a lot of these adaptogens, if someones low like ashwagandha for instance. There’s studies on Ashwagandha on helping to lower cortisol as well as increased cortisol. So I would say that the adaptogens are probably not like a drug where they’re gonna suppress. If someone’s already low, they’re probably gonna more help that HPA access kind of adapt. Now there are certain adaptogens like ginseng or licorice that may be more stimulatory even if someone’s high, it may still over stimulate. So you gotta be careful with over stimulating ones, but usually ones.like holy basil Holy basil, Magnolia, Ashwagandha tend to be more adaptogenic, so I’d be curious about that. What that sample size was? Were they kind of higher cortisol people? If they were higher cortisol people, then that would totally make sense that the herb was working to kind of bring things back into balance. Does it say it all in that study? 

Evan Brand: We assess salivary cortisol and psychological mood in 56 subjects, 35 women, 25 or 35 men, 20 21 women. They were screened for moderate stress, so that would have been interesting if they would have came in and did a cortisol panel on all these people and showed the before and after, but that’s OK because you and I have seen this a lot clinically and as you described, we’d like to just give the nutrients to let the body do what it needs to do. Meaning we’re not coming in with Cortef necessarily and cranking her up. We’re giving HPA access support and the body can figure this out on its own in many many cases. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And the fact that a lot of these symptoms improved. It’s probably not a low cortisol person making their cortisol lower because that those symptoms would get worse, right? They would actually, you know, they wouldn’t be improving, right. So the fact that they’re coming down, there’s probably an improvement. So imagine these people had higher cortisol patterns.To begin with. And that would make sense. But that’s why we don’t even go all in on just any herb, right? Or making these diet changes. We’re getting the inflammation down. We’re increasing nutrient density. We’re also providing all the cofactors to help your adrenals function better, whether it’s vitamin C, whether it’s pantothenic acid B5, whether it’s B6, I have one study in here talking about B6 and Magnesium actually works better than magnesium alone. And part of that is unique cofactors for these nutrients to work better. And a lot of your brain chemicals actually have cofactors for a lot of these conversions of serotonin and Dopamine and norepinephrine to happen, you need a lot of cofactors. And then we can kind of go more into the category of like, well, if your diets crummy and you’re eating a lot of sugar or inflammatory foods, you can actually deplete those pull factors more. Or if you have mold exposure, you may deplete, you may be depleting your B vitamins in your in your in your folate and your B12 and your B6 for methylation purposes. Because that mold exposure is revving up those methylation pathways, you may be utilizing more of your acetylation and glucuronidation pathways for glutathione and acetyl cysteine right. You’re sulfur aminos may be depleted as well and also chronic stress does deplete sulfur because you need sulfur to actually activate dopamine to norepinephrine. And so when you look at those pathways, the more stressed you get, you will actually deplete sulfur and when you don’t have enough sulfur if you have mold exposure coming in.You see how you have a toxin on this side and then you have stress over here and you’re kind of burning that candle at both ends.

Evan Brand: Yeah.Let’s hit Ashwagandha. And then I like B vitamin magnesium when it’s pretty interesting. So ashwagandha, we hear a lot about it. I’d say it’s probably the most popular adaptogenic herb. I mean, you see it in grocery stores now at the checkout counter, I’ve seen Ashwagandha gummies and Ashwagandha pills, which I think in general is good, I have seen at the high dose and I have seen chronic usage in some people. It gives them a little bit of flatness where they just don’t have as much emotions. I’ve just seen, if you look on Reddit, there’s several threads if you type in like ashwagandha at Hedonia, this is basically just the loss of pleasure in life. So there’s some people that are reporting either high dose or long term use of ashwagandha. They just sort of become numb. So I think you need to watch out for that. But in general, you and I are cycling on and off of these things and we’re rotating. Now out of protocols and not necessarily, always in isolation. Just for a couple months, if they have excessive fatigue, maybe we’re adding in some rhodiola, so we’ll look at that in a minute too. But the Long story short is many, many papers on Ashwagandha. This is just one. But you’re always gonna see an anti anxiety activity and you’re always gonna see anti stress. It’s going to improve symptoms of depression and insomnia and it’s going to help primarily by modulating the HPA access and also the sympathetic adrenal medullary axis, as well as GABAnergic and serotonergic pathways, meaning that it may help boost GABA, which calms you down. It may help boost serotonin, which helps you become less irritable, less anxious, and you may sleep better.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100%. I just swallow some Gabba and some glycine right now, some amino acids that also help with stress. Love, Mike. 

Evan Brand: I took some right before. Yeah, right before we jumped on. I told you about those gummies and my wife. And so I had a couple. It was like Ashwagandha, Rhodiola I think it might have been some Maca too, but, so that was good. So here’s another paper on ashwagandha. This was a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled, which is the best, the best type that you want. And they said, compared to placebo, significant reduction in what they’re calling the Hamilton Anxiety rating scale. So significant reduction in that. In a near significant reduction and the depression, anxiety and stress scale. Also reductions in morning cortisol testosterone levels increased in males. So you and I didn’t mention that but. Stress.Those surprise stress is going to negatively affect your hormones too. Stress is going to reduce testosterone. That’s going to affect your sex drive. So when you see that Viagra is being passed out like candy, now you wonder what all’s going into the stress is a big component.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, we just saw a major study come out last month looking at the effectiveness of antidepressants. And they’re showed to be, you know, no long term benefit with a lot of these antidepressants. I think that was a Lancet study out of the UK and so we kind of look at a lot of the antidepressants, we look at the mechanism that’s happening there. You know, we know there’s data on things like tryptophan and five HTP and B6 helping. So there’s definitely like, there definitely is like a depletion theory where people are chronically stressed and then as they are stressed, they do deplete their serotonin, they deplete their dopamine. We see that in organic acid test. But the medications for that are blocking these reuptake ports, trying to accumulate more serotonin in between the synapses may not be the right school of thought. And there are a lot of doctors and people and pharmacologists looking in the direction of just brain inflammation. And so everything we do in functional medicine is about reducing inflammation. So when we give this nutrient with this herb we’re doing so many things in the background, diet and lifestyle wise to reduce inflammation. There’s so many variables we’re moving so it’s so hard in functional medicine world to do a double-blind placebo control trial because in those trials you have to typically control a variable or two at once. If you control 10 variables at once, 12 variables, there’s just too many things moving in one Direction to know which one was the deal breaker and like in this one, study over here. I’ll show you. Where they look at tyrosine supplementation. And or stress for cognitive demands. I’m going to pull this trial up here. So this is interesting right here. And this is kind of why we like to test and not guess, right, assessing over guessing. So they looked at dopamine, tyrosine which is a building block for dopamine, right. It goes, it goes phenylalanine and tyrosine and then it goes L DOPA dopamine and then under stressed dopamine can get converted to norepinephrine.Then you actually use a lot of sulfur. From dopamine to norepinephrine. But they talked over here that the potential of using TYR supplementation to treat clinical disorder seems limited and benefits. But then it talks about down here tyrosine does seem to effectively enhance cognitive performance particularly in short term stressful and/or cognitively demanding situations, we conclude tyrosine is an effective enhancer of cognitive function, but only when neurotransmitter function is intact and dopamine or norepinephrine is temporary or depleted. So if we have some functional deficiencies and we may see that based on a stress profile or you know functionally, we may see it on a cortisol rhythm test and we may see it with an organic acid panel, looking at vanilmandelate, looking at Homovanillate and we may see some of these markers either go overly high or overly low, which shows that there’s some significant depletion going on here. And so you can see that this the nutrient tyrosine tend to work better when people actually had a depletion. 

Evan Brand: Well, you made me think of something and we’ve probably talked about this before, but how crazy is it to think about trying to do a proper, supposedly double-blind placebo-controlled study? Because, think of Sally who woke up and had a GMO Gluten bagel with vegetable oil. Instead of real butter for breakfast, she takes the antidepressant. Or she takes the herb and they’ve got Johnny over here who had a grass fed rib eye for breakfast and he took the same medication. They’re going to get totally freaking different results. So you and I were talking about this before we hit record, but it’s so hard to actually look at and appreciate a study that’s going to give you that outcome because like what time do they go to bed? Are they all going to bed at 10:00 PM or Sally staying up till 2:00 AM? No wonder she didn’t get relief from the antidepressant or the antidepressant herb or whatever. So it’s like, my God, when you really break apart using the functional medicine lens, you break apart the sleep, the stress, the diet, the family relationships, like how many of those people are going through a divorce during the study? Those are the seven people that didn’t get relief from depression, right? So it’s very difficult. And I think that’s why you and I can look at these studies and there’s other people that will talk about studies on podcast, but the reality is when you have the clinical experience that would, that’s what makes the difference because we’re coaching people through some of the lifestyle measures, the sleep, the nutrition, the water, we’re not just throwing the herb and saying good luck. It’s just not going to be that effective. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. And also like we just mentioned earlier. We got a test, right? We don’t wanna guess, we want to assess. And This is why someone may have, you know, no experience with this supplement and say it’s it’s joke it’s it’s snake oil and someone’s like no i had a really great experience because there’s one you may Had a really great experience because there’s one you may not need that nutrient as much if you need something more than someone else, right? Then you may have a better benefit, but also a lot of nutrients work synergistically, right? So this one study looks at magnesium with B6 and they found that this study that, right here, many civilizations regard subjects with severe extreme stress study provides clinical support for the greater benefit of magnesium combined with B6. So both groups did well. They had a magnesium group and a magnesium with B6 and they found the magnesium with B6 actually did better and so a lot of nutrients are synergistic. I mean, I think anyone, most people will benefit from magnesium just because a large percent of the population are depleted in it. Our food supply becomes less and less on it. It’s one of those core nutrients it’s hard to get enough of. So I think it can’t hurt to ever take some of these core nutrients, but a lot of these nutrients are synergistic and so magnesium is very important for stress and relaxation. But B6 also helps with, it’s an important cofactor for all of your brain chemicals to work. Very important cofactor and it helps a lot of your neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA and dopamine and adrenaline all work and convert in the brain. So it’s important that you can’t just ever rely on one nutrient, you got to look at the whole thing and it’s always better to assess versus guests too.

Evan Brand: Yeah, and when you click on the podcast and it says helping with stress or feeling overwhelmed, you may think of us talking about meditation and float tanks and scheduling massages and getting manicures and pedicures.And take it a vacation and taking Fridays off and hugging your kids more and having more sex. All those things are great too. But we’re really trying to get geeky here with you guys, because most people that come to us, as you mentioned, they’ve already been to 5 10-15 20. They done the massage and they’ve been through the talk therapy and they’ve been to so many other practitioners. They need the nitty gritty granular stuff like this. It’s really going to get them better. So if you guys are listening for the lifestyle stuff, we try to integrate that and that is important, but ultimately most people are doing a lot of that, and they’ve tried and they’re still suffering. Let me pull something up on Rhodiola. This is pretty cool. I told you years ago how Rhodiola changed my life. And this is a paper that just concludes that Rhodiola is a very effective potent herb for treating mild to moderate depression. And we’re talking in six weeks. So this is not a long thing. Like people think it’s gonna take years and years and years.I’m not saying that if you’ve got mold, you won’t still be depressed. If you’ve got Lyme, you’re still going to be depressed like that. That can happen. But what if I can just give you a tool, which is gonna boost you. Let’s say it reduces your depression by 30%, enough for you to get back into the gym. And now you’re exercising. Now you get the natural endorphin boost, and then you feel more confidence. Now you go on a date with this woman you’ve been wanting to go on a date with, and now you have more fun and oxytocin cause your bonding. But at this this whole snowball effect happened all because I just gave you this herb to pull you out of a dark place. So that’s really what we’re trying to do.

 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. So we talked about some of the Earth, some of the nutrients, some of our big favorite ones. Of course, movement is going to be helpful. Again, you got to figure out where your level is. If you’re chronically inflamed, movement maybe too much, too stressful and puts you in a more catabolic place because you’re breaking down tissue. Figure out where you’re at if you’re at a good place.You can lift some weights, do a little bit of interval sprinting, whether it’s a walks, walk, run, walk, Sprint, you can do a rower. We like rowers because of, you know, the extension and also there’s less impact on the joint. So if you’re already inflamed, you’re not going to create more inflammation. You can start with some bands or some gentle lifting of weights to kinda you know find that 8 to 12 you know rep 8 to 12 you know, Rep movement, that’s going to give you a good muscle breakdown, give you a little soreness. That’s good. You know, getting 10,000 steps today, these are all simple strategies. Strategies. We don’t have to overthink it. You don’t need to super crazy customized plan out of the gates. Just get some good movement. Make sure you’re, you have good form. If you’re not sure, you can always start with walking or yoga or something more gentle and you can always check out some YouTube videos and do some band work or some cable work or I like the new tonal that’s another good at home device for lifting is really good so you know just get get enough movement in there to get your muscles a little bit sore.

Evan Brand: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve got my roll machine right here. I just try to put it on this heavy of a setting as I feel confident with it’s not gonna injure me where I can still go. And I almost use it like a sprinting device. I don’t necessarily just go slow and steady, I try to just kind of sharp relatively fast. Kind of like a Sprint row movement and I tell you it, it can be depleting, but man, I’ve heard many people talk about this, like when you want to get out of your mind with your ruminating, if you’re worried, if you’re thinking negative, you’re going through all these bad things in your life and bad symptoms and all. I’m so, you do these pity parties for yourself when you’re exercising physically. It almost shuts that brain off completely to where you could just focus on like how hard this exercise, how hard this movement is. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100% great 100% now outside of the gates here right? There could be some hidden issues that were not addressing and you have to see a good functional medicine provider over there could be you may need to look at your adrenals. Your adrenals could be more depleted like that patient Evan just show where they have significant kind of reverse cortisol pattern. It’s good to know your adrenal pattern because if you have chronic issues, you want to know, hey, this is where I’m at one it gives you a timeline of how long it may take to heal that person may look at look like a 6 to 12 month journey on that. Also it gives you the ability to have, you know, realistic expectations, good timeline, also something like that. We’d probably wanna do a retest on someone that’s that out of balance to make sure they’re back in balance, but also want to look at hidden stressors that could be behind that, whether it’s mold, whether it’s pests, whether it’s, you know, toxicity issues that aren’t being addressed. Whether it’s gut issues we talked about, a lot of these nutrients have to get eaten, so for our diets poor there’s a problem. But also what if it’s good now but we’re not breaking down and absorbing it? That’s where we’d have to do deeper testing on the functional medicine side to see how you’re doing digestive wise with HCL and enzymes. See if there’s any gut bug issues.And then we can also do other intracellular nutrient tasks for their organic acids or nutrients, look at other kind of intercellular nutrients. So there could be some other hidden stressors going on there. I always say just kind of start from the ground and work your way up, start with the low hanging fruit. Keep it simple because that provides a good foundation anyway, but you know if you have chronic issues, you definitely want to reach out to someone like Evan evanbrand.com or someone like myself,Doctor J justinhealth.com for the deeper issues and we’ll put links down below so y’all can reach out. Evan, anything else you want to add before we wrap things up?

Evan Brand: Yeah, I think for people that are, in a short term, acute stress, they have to travel for a wedding. They’re maybe going on a honeymoon. Sounds fun, could be stressful. Travel, new food, new water supply, their new parents. They’ve got small children, those are situations where you may come in, not small children cause those are long term stress, you and I can attest to that but you know, honeymoon, you know, new marriage, whatever. So, so those acute stressors, you could probably do some of these formulas whether it’s Tongkat or Magnolia or Ashwagandha,Rhodiola, holy Basil, there’s many, many options. Extra magnesium, B6, GABA, taurine and acetone. These things are great, but if you have been stressed and feeling overwhelmed for 1,2,3,5,10,20,25 years and beyond, you really don’t just want to go try to get rhodiola and get your way out of it. It’s not going to happen. I’ve tried. I took so many supplements when I was sick and it helped me to stay alive and it helped me to continue to work and be up on my feet but.I knew that ultimately I was missing something, and it wasn’t until I really cleared the parasite, cleared the H pylori, my energy started to come up like I was on Rhodiola while I had parasites.I was still tired. I was less tired, but I was still tired. And I think the problem is like naturopathic medicine. So naturopaths specifically, they may come in and instead of, you know, quartet for cortisol, they give you licorice and ashwagandha, which is great, but then it stops there. So you really have to ask the question why? Why did I get myself into this? How did I get into this? Was this the bad relationship? The moldy apartment? The college dorm? That got me sick? And I think people need to just ask why a few more times. So, like, I’m tired. OK, here’s rhodiola. But it could be.  Hey, I’m tired. Well, why are you tired? Well, because I’m stressed. Why are you stressed? Because I’m in a bad relationship. OK? So we need to work on that. And if people keep asking why, usually you’re going to uncover some stuff. And I just encourage people, don’t be afraid, to look in those dark spots. Don’t, don’t be afraid to look in those corners where there’s some cobwebs of things that you’ve been emotionally shoving away, as you mentioned, dusting in a way or putting it under the carpet. Yeah, eventually those things are going to weigh you down. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, someone in the chat talked about a Epstein barr virus kind of plummeting their energy recently. Well, when it comes to Epstein Barr and some of these viruses like Epstein-barr said cytomegalovirus, it’s very rarely the virus just comes out of blue, comes out of the blue and just knocks you on your pot, right. Usually there’s some level of depletion going on and it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back and so. There’s different supports we can do to address viral issues, whether it’s silver or Monolaurin or Rishi, right? Different herbs and nutrients cats claw. But you’ve got to look at how did your body, how did your immune system become so compromised and susceptible to it. And you tend to have to work backwards and fix all of those issues that led up to this point. It’s very rarely something just coming out of the blue and doing all of it. It’s usually a level of susceptibility that you incurred and then this virus came in. So you have to really address everything, never just one thing.

Evan Brand: Yeah, I’ve seen that too, and I’ve seen it with a lot of things that are probably still controversial on YouTube, but we’ve seen things that people put in their bodies that all of a sudden reactivate Epstein Barr and other problems. We’ve seen this in celebrities, we’ve seen this in clients. So yeah.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. But guys, we want to give you actionable information. A lot of people out there, it’s just like sales, sales, sales, market, market leave you kind of hanging. I want everyone to kind of listen and be like, all right, here’s some foundational things. When we’re talking and doing a long podcast, it’s super easy to get overwhelmed. So just pick one or two things, execute, execute, execute action, action, action. And then if you’re feeling a little bit overwhelmed that you want to take next steps, you have Evan and I for resources. It’s all about educating. It’s all about empowerment. So we’ll put links down below where you guys can reach out and work on taking the next steps. But worst case, just continue to take action. We’re here to help.

Evan Brand: Absolutely. So go take a bath, do your lavender, your Epsom salt and all that. Get your mind right. But then ultimately you gotta figure out what’s under the hood.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Love it. Very good. Evan, wait. Great chatting with you man. Glad we’re back in the saddle.

Evan Brand: You too. Take it easy. Talk to you soon, brother. Take care everyone. Bye now. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Bye y’all.


References:

https://justinhealth.com/

https://drjabanmoore.com/

The Root Causes of Anxiety – A Functional Medicine Approach | Podcast #370

Conventional medicine labels anxiety as a neurotransmitter imbalance and relies on pharmaceutical drugs to dampen the symptoms. Although, prescription medications can be a helpful and even necessary tool in periods of overwhelming anxiety. But we have so many more tools at our disposal than just medications!

Dr. J and Evan explain that they recognize that anxiety is often the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” in functional medicine. It’s the clear and present warning that something is going on below the surface that needs our attention. Our current circumstances may have been the breaking point, but the anxiety manifests in underlying issues. That’s why rectifying these issues is necessary to make anxiety more manageable or even eliminate it!

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

In this episode, we cover:

0:00 – Introduction
2:06 – Acute and Chronic Stress
4:06 – Amino Acids and Herbs
11:24 – Gut Issues
16:26 – Functional Medicine Approach


Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And we are live. It’s Dr. J here in the house with Evan Brand. Today, we’re gonna be talking about the root causes of anxiety, a functional medicine approach, and how to get to the root cause. Really excited about this topic. We see many functional medicine patients with these exact issues and we always want to get to the root cause of why that is so. Evan, how are we doing man?    

Evan Brand: I’m doing good. You know the anxiety story for you and I talking about anxiety goes back literally eight years. It would have been late 2014 when I was in my luxury apartment in Austin and I was calling you and I was saying, “dude, I can’t stop this”. My heart is pounding. I’m freaking out. What the heck is going on and you said, “man, if you go to the emergency room, all they’re gonna do is they’re gonna give you some sort of anxiety medication. So why don’t you go and take about a gram of magnesium and see what happens.” And so, that’s what I did. I think I might have had some pharma GABA or some other tools on hand, maybe some passion flower and luckily, I calmed it down but little did I know back then that I had some of the big root causes of anxiety that were unresolved which included mold toxicity, Lyme, Bartonella, some of these tick-borne infections that drive up the nervous system, unfortunately. Now, knock on wood, anxiety’s been a minimal to non-existent part of my life and It’s incredibly freeing because anxiety can be so debilitating that people become housebound or they become afraid to travel, they become afraid to go on planes. They become afraid to seek the raise at their job. They just want to live in this little cocoon because they’re so afraid and anxiety is also very debilitating for children too. It affects their confidence and their self-esteem and their motivation for school and how they get bullied and so, I mean, we could do an hour on this but think just to open this thing up with a bang, I would say that infections are a big driver of anxiety so whatever that is a tick-borne infection like a Bartonella, Babesia, Lyme situation or gut infections like we’ve talked about a thousand times in the last 10 years together which is parasites, bacterial overgrowth, worms, Candida, anything that’s gonna release a toxin or aggravate the immune system. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. 100%. So anytime you look at anxiety, you always have to get to the root cause, right? Obviously, if it’s unresolved emotional stress, your body is designed to create anxiety for a certain situation, like if you, I don’t know, if you have lived in a forest across the street and there are bears, there should be a healthy amount of anxiety so you know, don’t leave food out and you’re just a little bit more careful with your habits so you don’t get attacked by a bear, right? There’s a healthy bit of anxiety there which is good to kind of keep you on edge so you are alert and you make good decisions. We’re talking about things that are, you know, unhealthy amounts of anxiety where you don’t have those types of emotional stressors, right? Obviously, if those emotional stressors are there, kind of take inventory of them and figure out what that corrective action is you need to kind of close the anxiety loop. I always say close the anxiety loop. What is that action? You have to take that allows you to feel confident that you are not ignoring the reason why there is anxiety there. If you did that, great, awesome. Check that off your list. The next thing is like you mentioned, obviously, any type of chronic stress or acute stress can create anxiety, right? And so, chronic and acute stressors do different things to your body. They’re going to cause B vitamins to get recycled and used up at a higher rate. They’re gonna cause magnesium to get used up at a higher rate. They’re gonna put you in a fight or flight position, where your body goes into fight or flight and then that’s gonna cause increases of cortisol, increases of adrenaline and it’s gonna cause your brain to get hyperactive and obviously at the same time it’s gonna affect digestion too when you’re in fight or flight. It’s gonna decrease your body’s ability to make stomach acid and enzymes and it makes it harder for you to break down your food. And so, and then of course, the more stressed you are, now you’re gonna start craving more processed foods that increase dopamine and increase a lot of those, uh, feel-good brain chemicals to buffer that but so, I always look at like what’s the constructive vehicle to fix this, what’s the destructive vehicle. Destructive vehicle feels good at the moment but creates problems down the road. Constructive helps at the moment. May not, maybe not quite as fast but then actually gets to the root cause over time. And so, some of our constructive vehicles like you already mentioned, magnesium, right? Theanine, right? B6, B5, right? And I always look at nutrients first, like nutrients are in the hierarchy before herbs so nutrients first and then, in the hierarchy coming down would be herbs, Ashwagandha, passion flower, Valerian. Those things are nice herbs that kind of activate and stimulate GABA. So, GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. So, it’s the brake pedal on the nervous system. So, think of the gas pedal as adrenaline, as cortisol. That’s the fight or flight nervous system response and the gas pedal is gonna be GABA and the things that are gonna help with GABA are gonna be Taurine, Theanine, GABA in and of itself. And then on the herbal side, things like Ashwagandha have multi-adaptogenic effects. They can increase cortisol and increase stimulation when things are too low but they can also tamp it down when it’s too high. I like my wife. She was really stressed the other day. We are getting our kids out for an easter party and she’s like, “you have something to give me? I am so stressed.” And I’m like, “here you go”. And I gave her a bunch of GABA, Taurine, and Theanine and magnesium, some B5 and vitamin C and some Ashwagandha and she looked at me like two hours later, she’s like, “what the heck did you give me. I’m on cloud 9.” I’m like, yeah, you know that, the better living through chemistry right there. 

Evan Brand: That’s great. Yeah, and motherwort. I love motherwort too. It’s great for the anxiety when you’re having, like, heart palpitations, blood pressure type issues as well. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hyperthyroid too. They use it on hyperthyroid, as well. 

Evan Brand: Yeah. That makes sense. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Too high thyroid, it can also be. It can help dampen that down, as well, which is nice. 

Evan Brand: It’s great for grief too so like the cool thing about certain herbs is they can be an emotionally calming tool but they can be a nervous system calming tool too. So, like, as you mentioned, there could be an emotional thing like a bad boss, a bad spouse, a bully. You know that type of emotional anxiety driver but it could be a chemical driver too, meaning like a toxin driving the nervous system to be ramped up. Also, we should talk about blood sugar. I know we’ve done podcasts on this before but you know there’s a big impact on issues with blood sugar. Thank the Lord, my blood sugar is so good now, I could eat dinner at five and not eat till 1pm the next day and I’m stable, like, I can fast for extended periods of time as needed and I don’t have any issue but however when my gut was a wreck which I want people to pay special attention to, if your digestive system is compromised, you’re not gonna be tolerating fasting that well because you’re already so likely nutrient deprived because of the malabsorption due to the infection. So, years ago when I tried doing this type of fast, I would have major anxiety and that’s low hanging fruit so do what you got to do but you got to get your gut tested and then fix the infection first. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: 100%. So, just kind of looking at a bunch of different things. So, on the emotional side, right? If it’s unresolved emotional trauma that’s creating anxiety, you know, someone wrote about DNRS, that’s great. You know, this NLP, where you kind of visualize a stop sign or something to kind of do a pattern interrupt. That’s excellent. EFT, EMDR with eye movement or different tapping on meridian points to kind of dampen down that sympathetic nervous system response. And again, these are gonna be good, you know, uh, more chronic issues. Yeah. If it is an acute issue, you know, a lot of times, just get to the root underlying issue where that issue is acute.  

Evan Brand: I was on a plane one time and the turbulence was so bad and I started tapping on the plane. That really helped. I’m like okay. Even though it feels like this plane is about to crash, I love and accept myself and I’m like okay that’s fine.  

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Especially things like that. You don’t have control, right? There’s nothing you can do outside of just sitting there and getting through it. And so, it’s better when those things are kind of the case but you know, it’s kind of like, I’m just trying to think of you know an example, it’s kind of like, you go upstairs and don’t turn the alarm on for the house or like maybe did I leave the front door unlocked, right? And so, there’s a natural bit of anxiety. You start going down to bed and that little bit of anxiety kind of creeps in, you’re like, I’m not gonna be able to get to sleep fast if I don’t at least just check on the front door, right? So, let me make, oh good, it’s locked. Oh good, the alarm is on. Good. Now, that anxiety can go down because it’s there for a reason, right? So, if there’s a root cause, act on it, right? If there’s isn’t a root cause, right, but it’s more emotional, you can do some of the tapping and you can work with a practitioner to get to the root cause on that and then of course having better biochemistry will get will make every bit of anxiety better because you’ll be able to adapt to it and deal with it better. And so, of course, like we already talked about with cortisol, chronically high levels of cortisol and adrenaline are gonna be big so you have to get to the reason, the root cause why. And again, foods could be a reason why like gluten, too much processed sugar that can drive up that anxiety. Again, you already mentioned blood sugar fluctuations. If you’re on this reactive hypoglycemia roller coaster ride where blood sugar goes up because you ate too much processed carbohydrate, refined foods, junkie, vegetable oil, omega-6 fats. Blood sugars up and then it can crash right back down. The crashing is where you tend to get a lot of adrenaline cortisol stimulation and on the way up, you get lots of insulin so you get this insulin-cortisol-adrenaline kind of tug of war happening and that can be very stressful on the body. And then, of course, if your blood sugar is chronically high and you’re making tons of insulin that can also be a problem too. High levels of insulin can cause all kinds of problems with hormones, especially in women, it can cause issues with ovarian cysts and testosterone problems. And then, high levels of blood sugar deplete a lot of your B vitamins and magnesium. And so, if we have poor levels of B vitamin and B6 and B5 and B1 and B2 and B3 and folate and B12 and magnesium is depleted, that’s gonna cause more stress and more cortisol issues and it’ll be harder for you to deal with and adapt to that. 

Evan Brand: And I would say, if you have anxiety longer than the week, I would almost consider that chronic. I mean, it’s crazy to me, how many people you have and I’ve talked to over the years who’ve had anxiety for a decade or longer and sometimes as one person commented that anxiety and OCD together is terrible. A lot of times OCD does come hand in hand with anxiety. We’ve done podcasts specifically about amino acid therapy and we use amino acid therapy in our clinics but if you have OCD, anxiety, low self-esteem, worry, negativity, depression, disturbed sleep, those are all symptoms of low serotonin. So, what you need to do is to get an organic acid test so we can measure this and look at the brain chemistry because if you’re not testing, you’re guessing. So, when you’re listening to this conversation about anxiety, I swear to you, you’re never gonna find a psychiatrist that’s gonna say, “hey, maybe we need to run an organic acids test, maybe you have low brain chemistry because you have bacterial overgrowth. So, we’re also gonna run a stool test. If they’re out there, send them our way, we’ll do a podcast with them but I doubt your psychiatrist is ever gonna consider running functional medicine testing on you to investigate this. I don’t care if you do lorazepam or the klonopin or whatever. It’s not the root cause and it’s gonna dig you. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Any benzo 

Evan Brand: Yeah. Any benzo is gonna dig you further in the hole because now you’ve got this dependency issue and now you’ve got his issue of withdrawal and I don’t know if you’ve read some of the stories on this but my God if people try to acutely stop those benzodiazepines, there’s major major major side effects. So, it’s just not around

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Especially, if you’re on doses, you know, above one milligram or so on a benzo, it can be harder to get off and sometimes the taper can be, you know, six months to a year coming off of it. If you’ve been on it for a while or been on a higher dose. Yeah, you need to kind of do a slower type of taper for sure. 

Evan Brand: And there’s so much, I mean, just think of how many millions. I didn’t look at the numbers here but how many millions of people are on prescription anxiety medication and they never ever get to the root cause. It’s so sad to think about someone that’s been on like a Lorazepam or another benzo for 20 years and they’ve never once asked about the gut. The question came in, how does dysbiosis cause anxiety. What are the mechanisms? Well, I think, one, right out of the gates is gut inflammation. Number two would be nutrient malabsorption because as you mentioned, a lot of these B vitamins are necessary for many processes in the body including energy production so sometimes you have anxiety and chronic fatigue and that sucks too because now you’re too tired but you’re anxious so that’s not a fun recipe either. What else would you say about the gut anxiety connection? 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, so anytime you have chronic gut inflammation whether it’s from food, whether it’s antibiotics. Antibiotics are creating rebound yeast or bacterial overgrowth. We could put H. pylori in that category, and other infections, as well. That’s a one you and I already mentioned, creates malabsorption just from indigestion, right? Not enough enzymes, not enough acids, not absorbing things well. Two, you’re gonna have exogenous production of lipopolysaccharides which in and of itself are a toxin, right? They’re produced, they’re part of the gram-negative bacteria in the gut and they’re stressful on the liver and there’s also can go to the blood-brain barrier. And when they’re in the brain, they can create mood and anxiety issues as well. So yeah, lipopolysaccharides, you could have acetaldehyde and mycotoxins from fungus. You could have issues with the parasites producing their own type of internal toxins for sure. Of course, your body also produces through healthy gut bacteria, a fermentation process to make its own B vitamins, vitamin K. Those kinds of things. So, if we have dysbiosis, we typically are gonna have low levels of beneficial bacteria so we don’t have that good endogenous production behind it. And then, of course, that’s gonna over activate our immune system. So now, we have all these toxins kind of slipping through our bloodstream. We have undigested food particles, getting through our bloodstream. Now, our immune system starts becoming hyperactive and that can suck up energy. That can suck up resources. So, there’s studies on for instance H. pylori creating mental health issues, mental, emotional issues, depression and anxiety partly because of the lipopolysaccharides and endotoxins are the same thing by the way. LPS or endotoxins and obviously nutrient absorption problems too.   

Evan Brand: Man, when I had H. pylori, I was super anxious. I don’t know if I was depressed as much but I was definitely anxious and you remember how skinny I got, I mean, I lost so much weight too. So, a lot of people, you know, they look at anxiety on the surface right. And everyone looks anxiety is just like this mental thing and you just need to watch some hoorah motivational video and just get over your fears and that I was like no anxiety goes way deeper than that. You just eloquently illustrated this, the aldehydes from the yeast and the fungus toxins and the bacterial toxins and the parasitic toxins and the mycotoxins. You guys, this anxiety is not in your freaking head. It’s not. It may manifest in your head but the root cause is not in your head unless you’re describing like, this toxin getting across the blood-brain-barrier but beyond that, the gut I would say is the biggest driver of anxiety. I’d say, if I had to pick one place to look, it would be the gut.   

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. So, when we look at this, what’s kind of the hierarchy of addressing this? So, of course, you fix the foods, right? Because the foods are one. You’re gonna decrease inflammation from the foods. And the inflammation in the foods is gonna cause gut permeability so you cut out the gluten, the dairy, the processed refined sugars and flours, the junky omega-6. You focus on good high-quality animal-based fats, good healthy proteins, you know, more carbohydrate from fruit and starch, especially if there’s blood sugar issues and then from there, then you work on digesting it. So, make sure enzymes and acids and good digestion are there. Get your gut looked at especially if there’s any type of chronic bloating or motility issues or indigestion, unadjusted food in your stool, diarrhea, then you get your gut looked at and of course if this issue is more chronic, you want to look at your stress handling system so the interplay sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system in your body and your nervous system is your adrenals and so you can get your adrenals looked at cortisol rhythm wise, you can do a cortisol panel. Look at your cortisol in the morning and throughout the day. Make sure it’s not too high or it’s reversed. On a good organic acid test, we can look at neurotransmitters like Vanilmandelate which looks at adrenaline. We can get Homovanillate which looks at dopamine, right? We can get the DOPA which looks at dopamine. We could also get 5-hydroxyindoleacytate to look at serotonin and then of course we can look at B6 like a kind of urenate or xanthurenate, right? We can look at brain inflammation markers like picolinate and quinolinate so there’s inflammation in the brain that gives us more indications. We can look at oxidative stress markers like 8-hydroxy-2-deoxyguanosine. There are good markers out there to look at these different things to give us a window of what’s happening so you know, we work on the food, work on the lifestyle, sleep. Make sure we’re digesting and breaking things down. Look at the nutrient deficiencies, look at the gut, look at the infection, look at the digestion and then of course, you know, we can always branch out and look at mold or mycotoxins or heavy metals or more toxic burdens down the road. That’s the foundation first and then I would say on top of that, if there’s any type of chronic pattern where there’s an emotional trauma involved that’s more unresolved definitely bring in a good practitioner, you know with some tools in their tool bag of NLP or EFT or EMDR or hypnosis. Anything that you want techniques to get into the subconscious but again the healthier you are the better the emotional stuff is to resolve so if you’re doing EMDR and EFT and NLP and you’re eating processed food and crap, it can still work, but it’s gonna be better when your brain chemistry is healthier. 

Evan Brand: Oh, yeah. Amen. Well, think about all the people that are in talk therapy and then they go and they go eat a subway sandwich for lunch, thinking that they’re doing themselves a good favor by eating turkey on wheat bread with processed cheese and then they get mayonnaise or sweet and sour sauce on it or whatever the heck they’re doing and then they feel like crap, I mean. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah.  I’m not a big fan of talk therapy in the long term. I think, talk therapy is good did you kind of just consciously process something like how did this happen maybe you’re learning some tools to enter into your life from a habit standpoint to fix whatever that issue was but then most of that trauma sits in the subconscious area of the brain which is where 90% of all your thoughts are subconscious and so that’s where you want some of these techniques like we talked about but I think talk therapy is good to acutely process what you’ve observed whatever your experiences are and then talk about, hey what can you do, you know, as a person today as an adult today, um, you know, from a habit standpoint to address it but then after that then you gotta, you know, if you’re in talk therapy months and months later and you’re still just ruminating over the same thing then it’s a subconscious thing you got to work on next.   

Evan Brand: Yeah, and look, don’t let me talk people out of doing it. I’m not trying to do that but what I’m saying is I’ve had people that said, “oh yeah, I’ve been with this therapist for 3 years and I meet with them every week or every other week”. And I’m like, “okay and what do you do with this therapist?” “We talked.”, “Okay and what else do you do?” That’s it. It’s talk therapy and I go, okay, you’ve been doing talk therapy every week or every two weeks for 3 years and you still have anxiety that’s this bad. We got to dig deeper. So, like I said, there’s a role for that but it’s not gonna get you out of the woods. The person who commented about the dysbiosis and anxiety question, they also commented in here said they did have a stool test that showed H. pylori. They have extremely high Morganella which is one of those bacteria we’ve talked about and calprotectin which is gut inflammation over a thousand. Fatigue and anxiety were the main symptoms. We see this everyday all day. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep. Exactly. I’m familiar with that case for sure. And inflammation in the gut can definitely create those types of issues and get to the root cause of it too.  And then, someone writes in, about Accutane too, I mean, this is super common if you get into the dermatology world. I mean, dermatologists, they either cut something. They burn it off with a laser. They freeze it off or they use some type of antibiotic, topical or internal or they use some kind of like, synthetic vitamin A. That’s it. That’s the dermatology world you know in a nutshell and they tend to not get to the root, you know, we’re talking like more chronic acne, chronic skin stuff. They tend to not ever get to the root cause of how or why that’s even there. Diet, sugars, junky, omega-6, poor digestion, poor fats, poor proteins. They don’t really get to the root cause of what that is and so, they recommend synthetic vitamin A, which is Accutane, which again, will decrease the amount of oil produced by your sebaceous glands which can be helpful in the short run if they’re producing too much oil but they can create chronic skin and eye dryness in the long term and they’re not even getting to the reason why your skin’s producing too much oil to begin with. Usually, it’s too much insulin. Insulin is a huge driving factor of excess oil and then of course, you have different food allergens, gluten, dairy, too much sugar. That can also cause a lot of problems with the skin cells. 

Evan Brand: And not to mention, the connection between people that have anxiety and acne. Guess what, they’re both linked to the gut. So, if you have acne and anxiety, you gotta investigate your gut. Please. Please. Please.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yep. 100%. And again, you know, outside of that, you know, we look at different toxins down the road. If we look at heavy metals, there’s different tests. We can look at, to do a challenge test on your metals with a DMPS or some kind of a challenge agent. We can definitely look at mold if there’s mold in the environment that’s important to look at. And again, if you’re in an environment where you feel better leaving that environment then there could be some mold in there, especially, if a history of water damage that was unresolved, definitely want to get your mold looked at or just your home looked at too, especially if it’s something that the whole family is dealing with just get the home looked at to start. It’s usually cheaper and more effective out of the gates. 

Evan Brand: Yeah. well said. And, heavy metals too. I’m glad you brought that up. You know, mercury and other heavy metals that can stimulate the nervous system and cause issues. So, if you have a bunch of silver fillings in your mouth, you’ve got to consider that. May not be your number one smoking gun, sometimes it is but heavy metals are a big problem and even detox too can make people feel too sick. I mean, you and I have seen this many times. Other practitioners that have handled people before they come to us or they’ve done something too aggressively with chelation or other detox methods and then they’ve ended up worse. So, there’s like a tight rope and that’s where the art of medicine comes in. Everything is not just like cookie cutters. So, too much is a problem. Too little is a problem and that depends on gut and detox and beta glucuronidase and liver and all of it. So, like if your friend got better and you tried what your friend did and you didn’t do well, that might not be your right protocol.  

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Exactly. And then, just to kind of highlight the nutrients in, compared to talk therapy, Julia Ross is out there. She’s like a family therapist person but she’s done a lot of books on amino acids and diet and she had different clients that she used to use talk therapy for years and years and years and said, “hey, let me just try adding in some amino acid therapy to their protocol and let’s see how they do with their talk therapy when we add in the amino acids”. She started to do that and then these patients would come the next week and they’d be like, “Yeah, just, I’m just good. I just don’t even feel the need to talk about it. I’m over it”. And it’s like wow so it’s like it gives people the equipment to kind of, like, process these issues and again I think talk therapy acutely may be fine. It’s just when you’re talking about the same thing for years and years and years, you’re probably not getting to the root cause, right? This is probably just covering up something else, you know. Now, I think it’s better than being on a drug, right? So, if it’s helpful and you don’t need a drug that’s great but, in the end, you know, if you can do some of these nutritional things along with it, you may find that you can just deal with the issues better you know I, the analogy I get patients is, try dealing with difficult problems around the home and not having slept for a couple nights. You’re gonna lose your patience with your wife with your kids. You’re not gonna be able to think right, you’ll be foggy, get some good night sleep and then wake up and deal with the problem. It’s like you’re gonna be way more equipped to deal with it. I think that’s kind of how brain chemistry works when you’re dealing with these stressors. 

Evan Brand: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, I remember in that book too, talking about how, like, amino acids were administered, right? At the beginning of a session and then the people would just immediately like, smile or loosen up or relax and so it’s amazing no matter how much you talk. Long story short, I know we’ve beat the drum on this for a minute but last thing, no matter how much you talk. It’s never gonna change your levels of serotonin just by talking it out. If you have a gut problem that’s affecting your nutrient absorption which is affecting the tryptophan and the conversion with the B6 over to 5HTP and then over to serotonin and then to melatonin so sleep issues too. So skin, sleep, anxiety, they’re all connected depression. We’ve already talked about that. This person here’s putting a bunch of question marks like they’re mad at us. What is the connection between Accutane and depression?   

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s just a side effect. It’s a side effect of the drug. 

Evan Brand: It could be a side effect. Yeah.  

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. Just the side effects of the drug. That’s all it is. Yeah. So certain drugs, you know, are gonna have side effects. Ibuprofen can cause ulcers and liver issues, right? Just a drug side effect.  

Evan Brand: Yeah. Well, we got to wrap this thing up. But if you need help clinically, you can feel free to reach out. We work with people around the world. We send these functional medicine labs to your door. We have an incredible logistical team on both sides where it’s incredible. We can help people in literally every part of the globe where people like us don’t exist or maybe they do but we’re better. So, if you need help, you can reach out directly to Dr. J, that’s Dr. Justin Marchegiani at justinhealth.com for consults or me, Evan Brand at evanbrand.com. We’re happy to help. You guys, don’t give up. We’ve been through it. We are warriors ourselves and we’ve worked on our health for years and we love what we do and we love helping people and there’s so much possibility when you can beat an issue like anxiety. So, like I said in the beginning, whether it’s seeking that raise, that new promotion, that new job, that new spouse, you know, that partner, that relationship that you want to grow but you can’t because you’re held back by anxiety. This is a huge huge problem and you can overcome this. So please don’t give up. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. If you guys enjoyed it too, look down below, you’ll see a little link where you can write us a review. We appreciate the review and if, also, it’s benefiting you, feel free to share with family and friends and there’ll be links where you can reach out to us directly to get that extra bit of help. All right guys, have a phenomenal day. Take care. Bye everyone. 

Evan Brand: Bye-bye. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Bye.  

 

 

Natural Herbs and Foods to Help Fight Stress

When you’re stressed, what are the important things? Blood sugar stability is really important because most people get on a roller coaster when they get stressed, meaning they’re overly gravitating towards alcohol and towards refined sugar. Their blood sugar goes up and then it crashes down, and then it creates more nervous system stimulation via adrenaline, epinephrine, and cortisol being stimulated to bring the blood sugar back up.

Click here to consult with a functional medicine doctor for guidance on which foods to eat for stress relief.

So, I find just keeping it really simple and 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. Something like that’s going to have some good fat and good protein, and it won’t be hard to digest. So, if you feel nauseous, just still know you should probably be eating but just try to make it something very easy on your tummy.

Then think what are some of the nutrients your nervous system is going to need when you’re more stressed. So, the low hanging fruit, B vitamins. B complex is going to be very essential. Magnesium is going to be excellent. GABA and L-theanine are good things that are going to help you relax and wind down. Valerian root or passionflower, which are all connected to GABA and that inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps you just relax a little bit. It kind of puts the clutching gear and disengages the gearbox, so you can downshift so to speak.

I always go to nutrients first and then I go to my favorite adaptogenic herbs second. So, Ashwagandha is one of my favorites. Rhodiola is excellent and there’s holy basil, which are my favorite very relaxing and tonifying herbs.

If you want to learn more about herbs for stress relief, click this link to schedule a chat with me!

Vitamin D Benefits You Should Know

Vitamin D has a couple of different benefits. Let’s go over some of the benefits. We’ve talked about the natural antibiotic that’s being produced by vitamin D, which is called cathelicidin, a kind of antibacterial enzyme. It is super helpful at being able to knock down bacteria. It also has antiviral mechanisms, as well as antimicrobial peptides and antiviral mechanisms.

Click here to consult with a functional medicine doctor to learn about proper Vitamin D supplementation.

Part of that is it stimulates and it can modulate the Th1 immune response in the Th1 immune system where you’re making a lot of your natural killer cells and your helper cells. Good helper cells can also help your antigen-presenting cell and it can help make antibodies more efficiently. So, you’re also going to have a better Th2 immune response. You’re going to make antibodies to whatever that infection is. Those tend to come a little bit later in the game, but good signaling to make your antibodies is super helpful as well.

There is a couple of other studies here that are talking about different things. We have a reduction in our MMP-9 concentrations. We have a reduction in bradykinin storms and reduction in our cytokine storm. So, basically we have a lot of inflammatory molecules that get produced such as bradykinin, cytokines, interleukins MMP-9. These are inflammatory types of chemical messengers. Vitamin D can help modulate that and prevent that from being overproduced. The more we overproduce those, the more our immune system responds. So, we can create more cytokine storm issues because our immune system will be on this positive feedback loop, responding and creating more issues with the cytokines. When there are less cytokines, there’s less chance of a cytokine storm, which is basically our immune system responding.

Imagine a fight between two people where one person yells out first and the other person yells back. Then they’re pushing, shoving, and hitting and the violence escalates. That’s what happens with the cytokine storm with your immune system and all the different cytokines and immune chemical signal. So, we can keep that modulated a bit which is very helpful. Vitamin D plays a really important role in that.

Recommendation

Get vitamin D supplementation from Thanksgiving to spring. At least, make that investment. If you want to come off the rest of the year, as long as you’re getting some sunlight, it’s fine. At least do that vitamin D supplementation to give you a good bump and the fat-soluble nutrients you’ll get over those four or five months will hang around months afterward because it takes a while for that vitamin D level to build up.

If you want to learn more about Vitamin D, click this link where you can schedule a chat with me!

Nutrients to Help Make Serotonin to Help Improve Mood and Sleep

In today’s blog, I am going to share with you the natural ways to boost your serotonin levels and other alternatives. Let’s talk about nutrients to help support serotonin levels.

Click here to consult with a functional medicine doctor to learn more about boosting serotonin levels.

Serotonin is a really important neurotransmitter. Its building block comes from protein and amino acids, particularly 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) but serotonin has a lot of important roles in regards to mood, well-being, sleep, stress reduction, and happiness. So, all these things play a major major role in helping you feel good. If we have inadequate serotonin levels, that’s going to create a whole bunch of things. Once you start having sleep issues, mood issues, or stress issues then stress starts to hitch a little more. You don’t quite sleep as well. You don’t adapt to or deal with stress, not quite as resilient as well, and then a lot of times you’re just not going to heal and recover well either because serotonin is a precursor to melatonin. Melatonin helps you sleep and it’s also a very powerful antioxidant. So, a lot of good benefits there.

Serotonin is made from tryptophan and/or 5-HTP which is 5-hydroxytryptophan. Now, I personally like using 5-HTP better because there is an enzyme that’s kind of a governor on tryptophan converting downstream into serotonin. The 5-HTP bypasses that enzyme, so you can therapeutically bump up serotonin a little bit better with 5-HTP. So, we use 5-HTP and B6 that can really significantly improve serotonin levels. Anywhere between 100 to 600 mg per day can be very helpful. There are important cofactors that will also add. B6 is an essential B vitamin that helps with the synthesis. You may also want to throw in B12 or methylcobalamin, ideally methylated because these neurotransmitters need to be methylated. B12 makes a huge difference.

In the podcast, we talk about a study where they used antidepressants, not that I’m a huge fan of those, but they found that an antidepressant plus a methylated B12 improves depression symptoms by 20%. So, we know B12 and that methylation process is very important for your neurotransmitters. Also, we can throw folate in there because folate works a lot like brother and sister with B12. So, B6, B12, and folate (or B9 for short for folate) are really important. Those are your key methyl groups in regards to your B vitamins. They have a lot to do with methylation.

Of course, vitamin C can be very important because the adrenals play a major role in serotonin and stress. In that sympathetic fight or flight nervous system response, the adrenals play a big role in making cortisol and/or adrenaline to help manage or deal with or adapt to that response. So, for chronically firing our adrenals, whether it’s cortisol and/or adrenaline, and we start have HPA access issues meaning brain-adrenal communication feedback issues, that can make it hard for us to kind of calm down from stress and/or even ramp up to deal with stress. So, it’s kind of like it being really cold out, you put your heater on and you can’t quite mount the heater or mount enough of a response to create heat and warm your house up or vice versa if it’s cold. You need to be able to adapt and modulate to our environment. So, we need healthy adrenal function. A lot of times, I’ll add in things like various adaptogens like Rhodiola, Ginseng, Ashwagandha, and Eleuthero. These are great adaptogenic herbs to help us modulate and deal with stress better.

And then, of course, a good healthy diet is essential because inflammatory foods, food allergens, processed junk, grains, and refined foods are going to stress out our body. The problem with refined processed foods like grains and sugar is they can, in the short run, increase our serotonin and allow us to feel good. So, people say, “Oh, I’m an emotional eater.” What are you doing? You are essentially trying to artificially boost your brain chemicals up with junk food. It’s like whipping a tired horse to perform better. It’s like trying to drink coffee at midnight to get work done. It’s going to just throw off your sleep and you’re going to be tired the next day.

So, of course, there are always what I call constructive vehicles versus destructive vehicles. Destructive vehicles provide a short-term gain and long-term destruction if they are habitual. Constructive vehicles are not quite as an impactful short-term gain but long-term restoration, long-term healing, and long-term performance enhancement. So, that’s good digestion, eating protein, balanced blood sugar, and we can utilize amino acids like 5-HTP, B6, folate, B12, vitamin C, and adaptogenic herbs. These are very helpful in modulating our stress response. They also modulate how we perceive stress. The more you can perceive stress better, you don’t mount as much of a cortisol or adrenaline response because your perception of it is much better.

Things like magnesium can also be very helpful as magnesium kinda plays into GABA. GABA has a major role in the inhibitory neurotransmitter. It’s the downshift or it helps hit the brake, so things like GABA by itself and things like L-theanine are excellent. Adaptogenic herbs like passionflower or Valerian can be very calming. Even things like Kava or CBD could also have a very calming effect. So, there’s a couple of different things that we can throw in there.

When I’m working with the patients, I’m always saying to myself, “What’s the root cause?” Let’s set the foundation and make sure the root cause is supported. Let’s make sure able to break down and digest and absorb all the nutrients and make sure there are no underlying bottlenecks in regards to low enzyme, low acid, and gut infections. Let’s make sure we’re managing our lifestyle stressors and we’re doing our best to sleep good. Food is good, food quality is good, and hydration is good. I make sure those foundations are solid and then we can kind of get in there with other supplements and nutrients to help support those pathways.

If we wanted testing for neurotransmitters, I’ll do things like organic acid-based tests. Then we’ll look at a lot of the metabolites for these neurotransmitters, whether it’s serotonin where we will use 5-hydroxyindoleacetate (5HIAA) or we will use Vanilmandelate which is a marker for adrenaline or Homovanillate which is a marker for dopamine. Again, dopamine is a precursor to adrenaline, so it’s phenylalanine, tyrosine, dopamine, L-dopa, and then it can go down to epinephrine/norepinephrine or adrenaline/noradrenaline. It’s the same thing. So, these are catecholamines and they can convert a lot of these upstream neurotransmitters down. There’s some overlap in dopamine and serotonin symptoms. A lot of people that think they have serotonin problems may actually have a dopamine problem. So, it’s good to get tested as well. It’s good to look at the symptoms, make sure the foundation is set, and then you can dive in deeper to look at a lot of these nutrients.

Now, in my supplement line, we use things like Brain Replete which has an excellent 10:1 ratio of tyrosine or dopamine to serotonin. That’s a good combo product. It has all the precursor nutrients, too. Also, I use a product called Serotonin Replete which is excellent with 5-HTP with B6. I have a product called Dopa Replete which is just a tyrosine product that is nice for lower dopamine issues and for higher dopamine, there is a product called Dopa Replete Plus and that helps bump up dopamine more. It has got Macuna pruriens in there plus a couple of other compounds that are very helpful. It has L-dopa, tyrosine, EGCG, and of course, B6.

If you’re overwhelmed with how to increase serotonin levels, then click this link where you can schedule a chat with me!

The Top 5 Reasons Why Your Estrogen Levels are High – Men & Women!

Let’s talk about the top 5 reasons why your estrogen levels are high. We’re going to break them down today.

WHAT ARE ESTROGENS?

First, let’s look at the 3 major kinds of estrogens: E1 or estrone, E2 or estradiol, and E3 or estriol. In a woman’s regular cycle, it’s usually estradiol we’re talking about. When you start shifting to more menopausal and the ovary stops working, you start getting more estriol. The adrenals help in kick in a lot of DHEA and you make more estriol. Estradiol is more of the growth factor type of estrogen and estriol is a weaker estrogen.

Click here if you need to consult with a functional medicine doctor to learn more about estrogen and your hormones.

WHERE CAN WE FIND ESTROGENS?

  1. PLASTICS. You’ll get it when the plastic is warm like in a microwave or out of a plastic water bottle especially if it’s in the car and the sun is hitting it or it’s outside. That’s why you want a good stainless steel or glass water bottle if you’re going to go outside or leaving it in the sun. The microwave heat and the radiation is going to cause a big release of plastic chemicals there, the xenoestrogens. One of the big ones are the phthalates but also BPA. There are other types of BPAs that are new which are supposedly safe but there are still estrogen-like compounds there as well. These plastics can affect women and men as well. Men are actually going to be more affected by them because men aren’t used to having estrogen in their environment and getting a whole bunch is going to be a problem.
  2. PESTICIDES. These tend to have an estrogenic quality to them and if you’re eating foods that are not organic, you’re definitely going to be getting organochlorines and various pesticides in your environment.
  3. PHYTOESTROGENS. These are found in soy. For example, I had a vegan-vegetarian patient. We ran a Dutch sex hormone panel on her and her estradiol was through the roof and really high. Phytoestrogens can be a big one, so soy may be a problem. With vegan-vegetarian, there’s a lot of phony protein consumption like fake meat kind of stuff such as the Beyond burger where there are a lot of soy and estrogen-like compounds in there. There are also hormones in meat. You have to make sure you get antibiotic-free, hormone-free, and ideally organic and pasture-fed or if you’re on the Whole Foods scale, step 4 or step 5 is ideal. Step 2 is at least pretty good. Organic means no pesticides, no hormones, and also the food they’re eating has no pesticides or hormones, too.
  4. HIGH LEVELS OF INSULIN. Too much carbs drive high levels of insulin because insulin responds to a high level of blood sugar. The blood sugars in your bloodstream go up and your pancreas comes in. The beta cells make a bunch of insulin to bring it down and bring it into the cellar and converted to fat. So, high levels of insulin upregulate an enzyme in men called aromatase that converts testosterone, the male hormones, to estrogen which becomes a problem. Now, in women, a similar thing happens but it’s the exact opposite or the big switch. Their estrogen is converted to testosterone. So, women can actually get more androgen-like issues which results in weight gain, acne, hair growth, and sometimes you can see some libido enhancements on that. So, that’s the difference between men and women.
  5. POOR GUT HEALTH. In the gut, we make healthy good bacteria in our gut that help us absorb a lot of nutrients. A good healthy gut function helps us break down protein for good HDL levels and good enzyme levels. We need these to break down protein into amino acids which are really important for helping us to detoxify. So, detoxification helps us to excrete estrogens that we’re getting exposed to in our environments such as the pesticides, plastic, or something that you don’t even know you’re getting exposed to. Good healthy detoxification will help your body eliminate that, so that’s a good backup plan.Also, if we have a lot of dysbiosis, SIBO and bacterial overgrowth, we can make a lot of what’s called beta-glucuronidase. This is an enzyme that’s made by bad bacteria and it makes it harder to detoxify estrogen. The beta-glucuronidase takes conjugated estrogens and binds it to a protein that helps us excrete it out the body. It takes that protein and it pulls it apart. It takes the handcuffs off that protein, so that allows that estrogen that’s been deconjugated to go back into the body in the general circulation. So, if we have gut issues, that could be a major concern.

HOW DO WE ADDRESS THE PROBLEM?

We need things like cysteine, glycine, glutamine, sulfur amino acids, and things that help us methylate like B12, B6, and folate. So, these nutrients we have to get them in our diet via a good diet. We need to be able to break down and absorb those nutrients, so we need good digestion to get those things in there.

So, in general, we’ve got to make sure we have a good gut bacteria balance. Even fungal overgrowth can cause problems and H. pylori that can lower stomach acid and make it harder to break down nutrition on one side and then it can create this bacterial overgrowth enzyme that makes it hard to detoxify estrogen. These are really important components. If you have any issues with estrogen, you’ve got to look there.

Now, we may want to do things to help detoxify like make lifestyle changes, food changes, pesticide changes, make the changes in regards to plastics, and make in in regards to your diet, your glycemic load, and your gut. That’s a good first step to get to the bottom. There are also different things we may do to help upregulate detoxification to help get that estrogen. It may be activated charcoal or various soluble fibers. It could be things like bentonite clay. We could use things like DIM or Calcium D-Glucarate or glutathione, sulfur amino acids, and vitamin C. They’re all helpful in different situations. We would recommend them based on what’s happening but at least make the diet and lifestyle changes out of the gates.

If you want to find out the root cause of what’s happening, click this link where you can schedule a chat with me!

Top 5 Warning Signs of Hormonal Imbalance

Let’s talk about hormones. I’m going to dive into a couple of clinical pearls that I see in my practice from working with hundreds of female patients and male patients which have a major effect on modulating and supporting hormonal balance.

Click here for a consultation with a functional medicine doctor if you want to learn more about hormonal imbalance.

 

These are my top 5 hormonal balancing strategies:

 

  1. One of the first things in regards to hormones that’s very important, and this may be common sense but I try to give a lot of knowledge guided by experience, is nutritional building blocks for your hormones. Healthy cholesterol from animal products are very essential. Fat soluble vitamins like A, D, K are very important. Lots of good protein are also very important. We have steroid-based hormones that are going to be more cholesterol-based and we have peptide-based hormones that will also be protein-based. So, a lot of these protein, fat-soluble vitamins, and cholesterol especially healthy animal cholesterol are very helpful for hormonal building blocks. If you have a vegan-vegetarian diet or if it’s very nutritionally poor or there’s a lot of processed food, that may set you up with a deficit out of the gates for just hormonal issues. Remember: Make sure the food is nutritionally dense, anti-inflammatory, and low in toxins. That’s vital.

  1. Now, if you’re having a lot of good nutrition in there, the next thing is we have to make sure we’re able to digest it and break it down. So, if we have a lot of chronic acid reflux, poor digestion, constipation, or bloating, we know we’re not quite breaking down our food and our nutritional building blocks. That could tell us that we may have hormonal issues because we’re not breaking that down. Therefore, those nutrients can’t get into our body or get in our bloodstream and be taken throughout the body to be used as building blocks. So, if we have a bottleneck in the nutritional side, that could be a big factor.

  1. Stress, whether it’s emotional or chemical stress. If we’re eating foods that are inflammatory or we’re nutritionally deficient and we have a lot of emotional stress, what tends to happen is our hormones kind of go on two sides. We have an anabolic side which are the growth hormones — testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone — that kind of help deal with growing. Then we have anti-inflammatory hormones which would be cortisol and are catabolic. I always put progesterone in that category because progesterone can be used to make more cortisol. So, we have our anti-inflammatory and then our anabolic. In some, they kind of cross over. Insulin, growth hormones, and testosterone are anabolic. The more inflamed we get, we could have high amounts of testosterone because of PCOS and because of inflammation. So, some of these hormones kind of interact and cross over. With men for instance, the more inflamed men get and the more stressed they get, that can actually cause an upregulation of aromatase and could increase their estrogen. So, see how these things kind of cross react. Your hormones are going to be either pro-building or anti-inflammatory to reduce stress. So, for chronically and stressed out state, cortisol is going to rip up your protein and kind of decrease your muscle mass. As a woman, you’ll see your progesterone level start to drop and that will start putting you into an estrogen-dominant state because if we normally got 20 to 25 times estrogen than progesterone, that ratio starts to drop. Even if you still have more progesterone than estrogen, that ratios is going to throw you off and that can create breast tenderness, cramping, mood issues, excessive bleeding/menorrhagia, infertility, a lot of mood issues, back pain, and fluid retention. All those are possible situations.

  1. Xenoestrogens from the environment and foreign estrogens. They can come from plastic components, pesticides, herbicides or rodenticides, mold toxins, and heavy metals. They are going to disrupt our hormones. The easiest thing is eat organic, avoid plastics, and avoid a lot of the chemicals in the water because a lot of times you can get pesticide runoff or hormone runoff in the water. So, clean water and clean food, and then make sure it’s organic avoid the plastics as well. That’s a big, big thing. Plastics are probably okay if they are in a refrigerator or in a cold environment but ideally if you’re heating stuff up or it’s going to get exposed to light, you want some kind of a Pyrex or a glass container. It’s much better and really important.

  1. Last but not the least would be just making sure our detoxification pathways are running well. So, if we have good hormonal balance but we can’t detoxify it, then a lot of times we can reabsorb it. So, if we don’t have good sulfur, good glutathione precursors, good B vitamins, good methylation, N-acetylation and glucuronidation, we may have a hard time eliminating. Hence, we are re-absorbing a lot of our hormones. So, being able to break down your proteins, break down your amino acid and your B vitamins is going to help with your body’s ability to eliminate a lot of these toxins.

Summary:

Blood sugar, digestion, stress, xenoestrogens, and toxicity are really big. Those are the big 5 across the board. Try to apply at least one of these things.

If you’re struggling with hormonal issues and you want to dive in deeper, feel free to schedule a consult with myself.

Does Eating Healthy When Stressed Make You Feel Better? | Podcast #315

Eating a healthy diet can reduce the negative effects of stress on your body and a healthy diet builds a solid, more enduring foundation for your body by reducing oxidation and inflammation and by helping to reduce weight gain.  So in this video, we have Dr. J and Evan talking about how we can handle stress while trying to stay fit and healthy.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

In this episode, we cover:

0:30     Why is it hard to eat healthy?

7:01     Eating unhealthy junk

17:19    Avoid stressing out on eating healthy

25:51    We all have different journey

29:11    Get the momentum

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Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Hey guys, it’s Dr. Justin Marchegiani here today’s podcast is going to be all about is your health making you stressed and anxious? Again, it takes a lot of effort and a lot of energy to be healthy. And we want to make sure that those goals are not making you sick and stress at the same time, Evan, how are we doing today man? 

Evan Brand: Doing awesome. Let’s dive in. First of all, when you say that, why, why does it take so much effort to be healthy? Is it just the modern world, the circumstances, the toxins? 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So my first step out of the gates, it’s all about habits, right? It takes no more effort to get what you want than what it does to get what you don’t want. It’s all about pattern of behavior. And so I always tell patients, the first month is typically the hardest because you’re creating new patterns of behavior. So there’s like, there’s four levels of competence, right? There’s the conscious or unconsciously unconfident, meaning you don’t know what you don’t know. You’re just totally clueless right? And then you’re unconsciously or then you’re, you’re, you’re basically unconsciously competent, where you kind of know that you don’t know something, right, you kind of know that you don’t know something. And then you’re consciously competent, where you know it. But you really have to be focused on the habits, choosing the right things, doing the right things. So usually, it’s the unconscious incompetence, these are people we’re not able to help, because they don’t even know there’s a problem. Once they go from unconsciously incompetent to consciously incompetent, they know that they don’t quite have the skills, that’s where we’re able to help them in stage two. And stage two to stage three is the hardest because this is where we go from, you’re consciously competent, you have to focus, you have to think about every little thing you’re doing right. What’s my analogy, anyone that’s driven a standard transmission car, it’s tough, like you’re driving a car, now you’re putting your left foot on the train on the on the clutch, you’re shifting gears, maybe you’re looking down and make sure you don’t go from first to third, right. But at the same time, you still got to fear and keep your eyes on the road. So it becomes this, you may be able to do what you’re grinding the gears, but it’s a lot of stress and you’re consciously competent, that’s kind of where most people are at with their health changes. And then there’s unconscious competence. That’s where we’re at, where we’re literally on cruise control, because we’ve done things thousands of times in regards to the clean filtered water that we’re drinking, eating good healthy proteins and fats, taking supplements, avoiding toxins, using health devices that help improve air quality and water quality and EMF and all the things that we’re doing. It’s unconscious, there’s literally no effort for us to continue to do or very little effort, right? Kind of like driving once you have a stick. It’s like no big deal. You’re like shifting gears, your eyes are on the road, you’re down shifting No problem, right? Is that a good analogy? 

Evan Brand: Yeah, that makes sense. And a lot of people, they get overwhelmed, and then they just give up or they get pressured by their family members or their friends like you and I were talking about before we hit record, oh, just have some gluten. It’s not going to hurt you. You know, I’ve had family members joke like when we’re giving them the salt shaker at the dinner table. They’ll say, Oh, can you pass me some gluten? And they’ll try to like joke, like they’re pouring gluten on their meal. It’s like, Oh, come on. So you know, you get people like that that will try to influence you. And it may be a joke, but sometimes, I want to say weak people. But when I say weak, I mean people that are symptomatic people that are ill. They’ve been trapped in those habits for so long, they may actually fall off the wagon, from Aunt Betty saying, hey, try one of my famous cookies that are loaded with sugar and gluten, they may go for it Betty’s cookie when they know they shouldn’t. But I think number one, I think you have to suffer enough to be able to be more compliant. I don’t know if you agree with that or not. But like for me, I’ve suffered enough to where I don’t feel that I want to make those choices anymore. Like, I know that that case would be so friggin delicious. But I don’t want to pay the price with my skin. I don’t want to pay the price with my gut. So for me, I’ve suffered enough to be able to make the choices easier. But if you’re trying to just convince people just to convince them, I don’t think it’s as powerful.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: So yeah, I have a couple of thoughts on those are all valid points Evan. So off the bat, it all depends where you’re starting, right? The healthier you are, the more adaptable you are, right? So the healthier you are, the more adaptation you are, more adaptable you are, the more you can deal with a stress like gluten like sugar, like being off on your diet, like being off on your sleep. So the healthier you are, you may have a little bit more resilience. And then the question comes down to how do you feel after you eat some crappy food? Right? How do you feel? How long does it take you to get back on track the next day? Is it just you’re okay? And that next day? Maybe you’re a little bit of a slow startup but then you’re good? Or does it take a couple of days or a whole week to kind of get back on track, right? So the healthier you are, the more adaptation your body has, the more you could cheat a little bit. Now there’s different levels of cheating is eating a lots of processed sugar and lots of gluten and lots of food allergens that you know you can handle. Now if you don’t have an autoimmune condition, and you aren’t as sensitive in regards to how you feel afterwards, you may be able They get away with that every now and then not that big of a deal. If you have a diagnosed autoimmune condition like myself, I have hashimotos that I’ve totally manage under control, I always try to choose the healthy alternative, you know, I’m always going to go grain free or gluten free, I’m always going to go gluten free over gluten full, if you will, right. So like for we had Thanksgiving last week, we got some squash pies from trophy, true food kitchen that were 100% grain free and like lower sugar, they were great, right? Good, better best. So I always try to make the best quality decision I possibly can. Because I know I have I have immune issues. And I want to prevent my immune system from attacking my body. Now if someone doesn’t have any diagnosed conditions, and they feel great, they may be able to do more of an 80 20 kind of 90 10. I do an 80 20 90 10. But I still keep it to ideally grain free processed foods or at least gluten free processed foods. And if someone isn’t at a stable place in their health or coming to see us during the middle of their functional medicine kind of onramp well, then we got to be a little bit more puritanical. Off, kind of off the the back. So it all depends where you’re at, in the plan that you’re on. 

Evan Brand: Yeah. And even though I’m feeling better, and I could probably get away with more stuff, I just don’t go there. Because I know that I don’t want to say it’s a slippery slope. But I know that if I’m like, Okay, I got away with it once the next week, I may go for it again. And then boom. And then now I’ve got the skin issue again, or now I’ve got the gut issue again. So for me, it’s very easy to stay on track. I don’t feel like I’m missing out. I don’t feel deprived. I think one part of this conversation you you’re titling this, this talk is, you know, being healthy making you anxious or stressed. And I think where people get caught up in it is because they feel like they’re deprived. They look at these other people eating the pizza, and they’re like, well, I want pizza, I’m deprived. This is bullcrap. And then they get stressed that they have to eat their their grass fed steak and sweet potato. But for me, once you feel so good, it’s not a diet of deprivation. Would you agree? This is not a diet where you feel like you’re missing out? I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Well, anytime you’re dealing with, you know, eating a bunch of crappy food, you have to look at why. Okay? So in general, a lot of times neurotransmitters play a big role. So a lot of people use a big big whack of sugar to artificially boost serotonin and dopamine. And that we call that emotional eating, they’re using a lot of the sugar to get that under control. So with myself, um, if I cheat on anything, it’s going to be like the Unreal, coconut dark chocolate, it’s going to be my keto cups, like, Is it really a cheat? Probably not. There’s barely any sugar in it. But it still gives me that mouthfeel. And not that sense of cheating. Like, like, I’m really eating a whole bunch of bad foods, but it feels good. It feels like a cheat, it feels like a treat, so to speak. So we always try to choose the highest quality one, we try to choose the lowest quality or the highest quality nutrition like good fats, right, avoiding the trans fats good, lower sugar amounts, I try to do more of the organic coconut palm versus, you know, the high fructose corn syrup, maybe with some mercury in there. So we try to choose the better quality types. And how do you feel afterwards, a lot of people, they don’t really look at how they’re going to feel afterwards. So if you’re really bloating, you’re gassy and your skin breaks out and it lasts a week. Like if I have a skin breakout that lasts a week, I am like heck no not worth it. So I’m always gonna, you’re always playing damage control, you’re always making calculated assessments. So when you make a decision to engage in desserts and treats for the holidays, we’re going to be choosing the healthiest quality, the lowest sugar, but still have a great time like Well, my kids, we went trick or treating, what happened afterwards? Well, trick or treating bad with all the candy went away, we actually gave it to the fire station. And then we I got some of the Justin’s high quality dark chocolate peanut butter cups and some of the Unreal, dark chocolate with a little bit of coconut in there. And that was their substitute. And so they got one or one or two every now and then. And it was low sugar, good fats, the fats are important because it stabilizes blood sugar, prevents cravings and swings and actually makes them a little bit satiated afterwards. And we’ll give it to them after a dinner. So we’re not creating this blood sugar rollercoaster of eating sugar by itself. And so we’d always just make these really good calculated substitute because I want to give my kids and myself a chance to enjoy life or have a childhood or do things that are really, you know, they’re like special, but with that with kind of mitigating the the side effects, if you will. 

Evan Brand: Yeah, that’s a great point. And I think it’s easier if the whole family can get on board, like you mentioned, you’re doing this with your kids. So if you got the husband or the wife that’s not on board, that’s going to be really tough. I don’t know if I have many other solutions besides wait until that person is symptomatic enough to get to get on board because they’re really not going to do it just out of choice unless they’re just a very, very supportive spouse and Wow, good job, you’ve got a keeper. But in most cases, like I said, it’s the husband or the wife making fun of the other one, like I’m going to drink the beer, eat the pizza and do the wine or whatever. And you’re going to just go eat your your AIP diet. So try to get family members on board. That’s the best advice I can do because Then it gets exhausting man, you’ve got the husband and the wife cooking double meals, right? They’re making the unhealthy meal, and then they’re making the healthy meal. And then you got double the cleanup. So just from a sustainability standpoint, it’s just really best if you can get everyone the kids on board too, because you don’t want Mom, I had one lady, this is gonna sound crazy, maybe not to you, but maybe to others. We had a lady with hashimotos, where we had determined that the reason that she was having flares is because she was touching the bread making her children sandwiches every day, and that she was basically holding it and there was some kind of like a gluten skin reaction, transdermal kind of thing. Yeah, yeah. And so we got her Ah, well, they hit well just quit making sandwiches, or at least go like a grain free bread, if you can find it. And luckily, the antibodies went down just by changing that, because she was already AIP with her diet. And we’re like, Well, why are the antibodies continuing to rise? The thyroid, we worked on the gut. And typically that would help but it didn’t help and then boom, we figured out it was lady making sandwiches. So in her case, it actually benefited her to help her kids as well.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, most of my patients is the women are tend to be on point, they tend to be 100% on point and to be a little bit more in tune with their health. Also, I think they tend to be a little bit more, let’s just say not supported by conventional medicine, right? Women have hormonal issues, what are they given me, if they’re cycling ages, birth control pills, right, the people are getting a little bit more cutting edge with hormones as they get into menopausal age, but they were doing horse hormones for the longest time and they weren’t fixing any of these underlying issues. And they were just throwing medications that are antidepressants at it. And they kind of most women intuitively knew that something was wrong. Now my other kinds of patients are like my, my, my my guys that are great. They’re like the biohackers. They’re like the guys that are like optimizing cell performance. They’re trying to really get their their level their RPM or performance to a higher level. Those are my two like great patient, my women patients that are really know something’s up and want to dive in deeper, and that my guys that are more on the biohacking side and kind of optimizing performance, they kind of know something is up. Now, when I make recommendations for patients, you got to really get focused on the performance aspect. Like you got to feel that people have this satisfaction, feeling of like their mouth and their taste and all that stuff. That’s a hard feeling to overcome, right? It’s always pain versus pleasure. So you really have to link up a lot of pleasure from the performance that you get from eating great food, whether that is clean skin, whether it’s all day energy, whether it’s good sleep, whether it’s good libido and mood, you really have to internalize the performance enhancements that you get. Now, the more adaptable you get, you can still keep those benefits while you cheat a little bit. Now we just choose the healthiest cheat possible, I already gave you a couple of options. What I do, you can do it going out to eat, you can do it going to steak houses, all kinds of good things you can do when you go to a nice restaurant with steak and vegetables, or if he goes to sushi will avoid the soy sauce. And we’ll do MCT oil and coconut aminos. Right. There’s a lot of substitutes we’re always doing. And it’s hard out of the gates because it’s stressful. But once you kind of make a habit out of it, you kind of have all of those go to substitutes there at your fingertips. Do you have any things that you do, Evan that, you know, maybe a treat for you, but it’s you know, a really good go to? 

Evan Brand: Yeah, well in terms of drinks, you know, I think that’s a big one, right? Just getting people off of sugary drinks. So Suja I think’s done a great job with all of their green juices. They have one I want to say it’s called like skin beauty or something. I don’t have the label in front of me. But for me in terms of beverages, I mean, I’m typically doing herbal teas, chamomile, ginger, peppermint tea, and then good clean filtered water. That’s about it. I know you’re super into the total Chico’s and some of the other mineral waters, carbonated waters. Those are great. But for me, I think it’s called beauty scan or scan beauty something anyway. Suja makes it it’s a whole foods. It’s like maybe four grams of sugar, but it’s like lychee juice and blueberry juice. Man, if I just get something like that. It’s a treat for me. And it may have a little bit of stevia or monk fruit in there. Something like that is great for my wife. You know, she had previously used like, you know, we’re talking 10 years ago, she had previously use some of the coffee creamers. I know people really do a lot of sugar in those. They’ll say oh, I only you know this coffee creamer is only two grams of sugar but it’s a gap but you’re putting like frickin five tablespoons. You’re just pouring it in. So for her. She really loves the rebel like the mushroom. Coffee blend.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I like that one.

Evan Brand: Yeah, like the coffee with the mushrooms and I think it has coconut milk and stevia. So it’s basically a no sugar. So for us. Those are kind of our treats that make her feel like she’s still getting a good creamy sweet coffee without sugar. And then for me, you know, I used to love as a kid and a teenager man. I love soda. I mean Sunkist and Mountain Dew. I mean, I was into all the garbage for me now if I have that lychee juice, man, it tastes like candy. But it’s Yeah, my palates change. That’s the thing. The palate has evolved for us. So like you mentioned the treats your level of treat like you I think you and I’ve talked about blueberries you’ve done I think you said you’ve done frozen blueberries with like whipped cream and that’s a treat for you. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s like a dessert and a cream is great is awesome. Do it, it’s a coconut yogurt, it’s all about, okay, you know, try to do the right thing 80% of the time, right. And then a lot of the treats that we do is, it may still be part of the right thing, right? If we’re doing some almond butter, if you can tolerate knots and Granny Smith, apple and cinnamon, or if you can do some, some blueberries and some coconut cream, those still may be healthy things, right. So the cool thing is if we can choose healthy treats, that that feel like a treat tastes like a treat, but still healthy. That’s a win win, because then you can do that more frequently. And that’s kind of a it mixes up the monotony of your routine. And then of course, if we’re going to go and cheat a little bit, you know, when I go to a restaurant, what’s my go to? Well, I’ll get like a really nice, homemade, though a couple of restaurants, I go to their steak houses, they’ll make a nice ice cream that’s kind of a sorbet. Or it’s kind of coconut base, that those are really wonderful and tasty. Or I went to Truffaut kitchen and got a squash pie, which was wonderful. Or like a coconut, like is a restaurant down in Austin called Picnic. They have some wonderful autoimmune dessert recipes that are excellent. So you can try to always mitigate a little bit. And then if you something that’s really special, I don’t know your grandmother makes up especially around the holidays, and it’s worth the treat. Well, that’s fine. You’ve earned it, as long as you can deal with the side effects afterwards. And ideally, we don’t have an autoimmune condition with active antibodies that could be attacking your body. And it’s probably okay. 

Evan Brand: Yeah, very, very good. And then of course, we’ve mentioned the enzymes before too. So you’re gonna go get your grandma’s secret recipe, you know, there’s probably wheat and other crap in there, you may just want to do your enzyme, right? So like you and I both manufacture professional enzymes. So if you’re working with us, you’re probably already taking those but that’d be a good, that’d be a good strategy. Oh, you know, another treat for us I just started making these recently, is to take the CFA, the soft tortillas, and make like a [inaudible] out of it. So you do like a little bit of coconut oil, or you could just do butter if you want. And then just kind of put it in a pan for 1015 seconds, heat up the tortilla, and then just a little bit of coconut sugar and cinnamon on it. Oh my god. It tastes like when I was a kid, I’d go to the county fair and go eat the what was it the funnel cake or the elephant ear? Like that wheat Yep, thing with a bunch of powdered sugar on it. Oh my god, I love that I know. But this little, you know, the grain free tortilla with the coconut sugar and sentiment, man things delicious. That’s a treat. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and so you can mitigate. So number one, don’t feel stressed about being healthy. Just kind of know that first month, the two months is the hardest. If you’re coming in to, you know, this new healthy lifestyle and habits with a lot of symptoms. Don’t worry about cheating, worried put your focus on developing habits, right? Many people, they go into this place in their head of like, Oh my god, like, I’m not going to ever be able to eat this again. It’s like a divorce. It’s like a breakup, it’s like they’re literally grieving the loss of this food I’ll never eat again, don’t go into it like that go into it with the mindset of Hey, I’m going to focus on eating nutrient dense anti inflammatory, low toxin foods, so I can decrease inflammation in my body, accelerate healing and feel awesome. And then once you’re at a good level where you’ve kind of plateaued, and you work through some of the programs that we’re on with hormones and gut and your digestion is better, then we can start adding foods back in. And we’re always going to choose the healthiest treat options and the healthiest foods first. And then if your optimal health stays at that great level, then we can you know, if you want to go off the beaten path, here or there, you know, 80 20, 90 10, 95 5, and you’re able to maintain your benefits and it doesn’t take you too long to get back on track. That’s fine as the book out there called the Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss. And Tim Ferriss talks about a cheat day eating, we’re at whatever you want for a whole day. That is I’m sorry for most people, it’s a terrible idea. Because they go have a cheat day on Sunday, and they’re so inflamed. It takes till Thursday, the next week to get back into homeostasis. That’s a problem. – go ahead and go ahead. 

Evan Brand: Let me interject because I think that you may even be underplaying how bad of an idea that is because you and I’ve seen just by looking at thousands of people on test results, we’ve seen you know, gluten antibodies and other antibodies go up for potentially months after certain exposures like that. So you’re mentioning possibly a week to reset it could even be months. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: If you have an active autoimmune thyroid issue or active autoimmune issue it could be now you can get your thyroid looked at, you could always do an Array Phi by Cyrax, to look at other silent antibodies that could be there. But if your health is great, and you feel great, and you know you can kind of get back on track the next day, all right, fine, but try to always choose a grain free option for most of your stuff, at least gluten free for most of it. But yeah, so my whole thing is how do you know something’s worth it? You should be able to get back on track that next day, if you’re not back on track the next day, that’s a problem. Now, Evan, you already alluded to what what if those antibodies popped up and we don’t know about it, so if you have an active thyroid autoimmune issue, you really Really want to be testing those antibodies or that ANA, or those autoimmune markers? If you have lupus or sjogren, or something kind of under the surface? I would say really choose the healthiest cheat possible. It’s just not worth it when tissues being destroyed. 

Evan Brand: Yeah, yeah. Well said and, you know, for me, we’d like to leverage the lab testing and show like, look how good you’ve done. Look, we’ve got your dopamine back to normal. You mentioned neurotransmitters early on, look, we’ve got serotonin normalized. Now, doesn’t that feel good look at your calprotectin in your gut, we’ve got your inflammation down 1000 points, look at your Secretory IGA that’s starting to come back up because you’re removing the foods irritating the gut. Look at some of these infections, we’ve cleared out because you’re not using the sugar to feed the Candida and to feed the other pathogens. So when we use the functional medicine testing, plus just kind of our pep talks and motivation we give to people it’s a really good one two punch that keeps people on a sustainable path forever. And it really is a lifestyle. You know, we talked about, oh, this is a lifestyle. It’s easy to embrace once you feel good. So I agree with you, you got to focus on Hey, do you want to feel amazing? And then some people will ask the same thing with supplements, right? They’ll ask the same question about diet as they do supplements. How long do I have to do this? on their diet? And I’m like, well, and this might always punch back with as well. Do you want to survive? Or do you want to thrive? Well, obviously I want to thrive. Okay, well then do it forever. Okay, that was easy. So for me, that’s the that’s the default answer. Like when someone’s like, well, how long do I need to dial in my diet? I mean, as long as you want to feel amazing is the answer. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, tell patients out of the gates, you may have to be more puritanical. Because you’re trying to make up for lost time. It’s kind of like, if you’re in debt, from decades of poor spending habits, well, we’re gonna have to kind of get you on a really lean budget, and you’re gonna have to be investing and saving a large percent of what you make. Now as you get on top of that, and you’re debt free. And, and you’re feeling great. And now you’re making investments. And now you’re on your way to financial freedom, you can be a little bit more loosey goosey with your spending, right, it’s kind of the same thing with your health, just change the the the money equation to health. And it’s the exact same thing. And so we always try to look at getting momentum getting you on top of your health, reaching the level of conscious competence to unconscious competence, where it’s automatic, because the stress that people feel in that first month or two is just the fact they haven’t made a habit yet. And so if you want to live a healthy lifestyle, you have to make you have to let your brain and your physiology shift into unconscious competence. If you’re quitting before you get there, you’re you’re doing yourself a disservice. Because the amount of energy if you’re thinking, well, it takes me too much energy to do these things. It’s because you’re not in unconscious competence yet, and you will be there just give it a little more time people project their energy is going to be on this conscious competence wavelength the whole life, meaning the amount of energy they have to focus in and project has that will be at that level, but it won’t, it’ll get easier once you make that shift to unconscious competence. Totally, totally. It’s so easy, it’s so much, it’s easy, it’s easier for me to stay on the rails than it is to go off the rails like I would have to be, it would take me effort to go off the rails, I’d have to like seek out bad things like what could I do to try to test myself or destroy myself so it’s a good place to be 100% so out of the gates, we kind of talked about it you know where you’re at, if you’re not a mean person, and you have active issues or active things going on that are significant. Do the right thing, do the right thing be on point get momentum, get your symptoms on hundred percent under control, look deeper under the hood regarding hormones regarding everything else that’s happening in your body. Work with a good functional medicine practitioner and get your blood sugar, get dysglycemia under control, get inflammation, nutrient density, get toxins under control. That means going organic, clean, filtered water, all that good stuff, hormone free, antibiotic free, get your hormone stabilized and worked on whether it’s blood sugar, thyroid, female or male hormones, and then get your gut looked at because the healthiest food. We’ve kind of alluded to it. If you can’t digest it or break it down or absorb it properly, because of stress in the gut, you’re going to have a problem. So of course the next thing is we’re assuming that because you’re eating good foods, you’re breaking it down. The next step is going to be working on the gut. And so we don’t want foods that are full of inflammatory food allergens affecting your gut if it’s not stable yet. 

Evan Brand: Yeah, my diet was great, but I had gut infection so my skin was crap. So for me, I put in all the work on the diet and I got frustrated because I thought well, I’ve got rid of gluten I’ve got rid of dairy What is wrong with me? And then luckily the functional medicine testing came in and kind of uncovered some stuff so if you’re more dialed in, you’re still struggling then you know look deeper. And so if you want to reach out to Justin you can do so clinically at his website, JustinHealth.com. That’s Dr. J at JustinHealth.com. Me Evan Brand at EvanBrand.com we work with people over the phone, Skype, Zoom FaceTime, however we need to connect we send the labs to your door. You send those back to the lab, we jump on a follow up call to discuss the results and make a protocol. It’s very, very awesome. And with everything that’s been going on, it’s funny that telemedicine has gotten, you know, 10 x more popular. So it’s really cool that we were actually ahead of this curve. We’ve been doing this this way the whole time. So feel free to reach out and we look forward to helping you. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Absolutely. So you guys know where to reach out. And just remember to start with one thing, like, if you’re coming into this journey, I find a lot of people who aren’t doing the right thing, if you’re around them, and you start, you know, being on point and making health changes, sometimes there’s this subconscious pull to pull you down, because you making the changes to improve your health sometimes magnifies their inability or lack thereof to make changes in their life. And sometimes they may sabotage you and pull you down. It’s a threat. Yeah. 

Evan Brand: Yeah, you’re saying that you’re saying that by you trying to better yourself, you may piss off other people, and then they’re going to try to come bring you down with them and their misery just eat the cookie. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah, and everyone’s on a different journey. So if you’re the autoimmune person, and you need to really be on point, because you’re starting this journey, and maybe they’re a little bit more stable, and healthy, you know, it may not even be something where they’re unhealthy and may just be there at a different place than you and they want to indulge this Saturday night, and you aren’t quite there. And that’s okay, you know, you just got to meet and support people where they’re at. And that’s, that’s a good thing to be at. So it’s good to have empathy. And it’s good to understand that we’re all in different places. And some people may not have even gotten out of the gate yet. They may be at that unconscious incompetence. They don’t know there’s even a problem yet. And so we just try to always meet people where they’re at, provide empathy, and understanding from where they’re at. 

Evan Brand: Very true. Very true. One last story. So I had a woman. Actually, though, the husband and wife were both working with me and the woman just love baking. I hear the story a lot. The woman loves baking. And so like every Friday, she would make brownies or cookies or cake or something, right? She’s always baking some sweet thing. And then she only wants to eat a piece of it. And then she leaves it left for her husband. And if he tries to throw it away, then she’s like, no, you’re wasting it. You’re wasting our money. You’re wasting it right. So then he feels up, which I don’t know, maybe this is his excuse, maybe not. I’m just sharing the story. I’m just the messenger boy. So he comes in and he goes, Well, she’ll get mad at me if I don’t eat the whole cake. I’m like, Oh, that’s what it is. So you have to eat the whole cake. So she doesn’t get mad at you. Okay, interesting. So now we’re trying to switch her over to, you know, almond flowers and coconut flowers and whatever. So we’re just working better option. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Yeah. 

Evan Brand: So we’re just working with them on where they’re at. But it’s funny. He blames her right? Oh, she’ll get mad if I don’t eat the whole cake. It’s like that’s a good excuse right there. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And we I mean, you got to take accountability. It’s not a valid excuse in the long run, right? You get two people in there and you got to get one to agree. All right, we got to stop this. That’s not good behavior. But yeah, I totally get it. And so outside of that there’s some really good autoimmune dessert recipes and treat recipes and my go to or some of the Unreal or Justin’s dark chocolate brands are pretty good. Or some of the endangered species dark chocolate or just some just some of the berries and coconut yogurt or maybe a hail mary tart, or I’ll just choose something that’s like a baked Apple, like my paleo apple crisp is a really good one. I just I have a couple of go twos. I tend to repeat that work pretty darn well. I know you did the waffles in the morning, which is kind of a nice treat. I’ll do that the keto birch benders waffles. Is there any other go twos that you do? They’re kind of a treat for you but still relatively healthy.

Yeah, yeah. You mentioned SWAPO Yeah, they’re swap foods is the brand of like a waffle but they’re Yuka those are delicious. And then you mentioned earlier the keto cups that’s evolved I think company and then I also like the keto bars there are keto bars that perfect keto makes. Yep. Anthony. He’s a Chiro who makes those are good. Those are like stevia, monk fruit, I believe. And those are like organic almonds or organic cashews. Those are good. I’ve done some of Dave’s bars, the bulletproof bars, with the MCT and organic cashews, those are pretty good depending on if you could do nuts or not. So those are some good treats that are easy and quick. And then also, bison. I like to do some of the epic bison meats like the bison bites, or Tonka makes really good bison meat. So I’ll do those or venison jerky or something like that. 

Yeah, and one last thing is for patients or people listening, try to get momentum out of the gate. So really start your first two meals of the day solid, good protein, good fats get momentum. That makes a big difference. If you’re coming out of the gates with crappy food. In the morning, a Starbucks mocha frappuccino with a whole bunch of sugar, a crappy lunch, it’s hard to get on top of your day, from a physiological hormone, anti inflammatory support, it’s really hard. So get momentum out of the gate. It’s kind of like starting a race and you just kind of get out of the starting block at a walking speed that you got to sprint out of that walking out of that starting block. Right. Same thing with your health. So start your day with good habits, right whether it’s a cold shower, or whether it’s clean, filtered water or some minerals, some good protein, some good fat or if you’re healthy enough, maybe intermittent fasting again, people that aren’t healthy I think they need they need nutrition in the morning they don’t need nothing in the morning the healthier you are the more fasting I think provides a beneficial effect just like exercising really hard can be beneficial if you’re already fit right kind of like that. So that’s kind of where I’m at. I think you put some really good points out there EvanBrand.com for Evan reach out virtually worldwide for support JustinHealth.com for Dr. J myself. We are here for y’all. And you guys have a phenomenal day. Take care y’all.


References:

https://www.evanbrand.com/

https://justinhealth.com/

Audio Podcast:

https://justinhealth.libsyn.com/does-eating-healthy-when-stressed-make-you-feel-better-podcast-315

Meditation Using Muse Device with Ariel Garten | Podcast #304

We all have thoughts, and none of us are good at meditation at first, during, or maybe at the end. Here’s Ariel Garnet, introducing us to the Muse and the use of an approach NOT to get rid of those thoughts but to help you make yourself aware of those thoughts and increase the choice of what to do with those. 

Are you doing it right? The Muse uses Machine Learning Approach, which has an algorithm that analyzes brain wave activity. There, it shows focused attention (when it’s quiet) and distracted or wandering thoughts (when there’s a storm pick-up). Also, concentrated attention and meditation have a natural anchor such as word, part of the body, or our breath, which is more accessible.  Ariel added that we have different forms of meditation and focused attention is the most common one. It puts the attention to your breath instead of following your thoughts and shifting it to yourself. 

What’s the minimum dose? Twenty (20) minutes can be heavy, so it’s acceptable to do it up to what’s bearable for beginners and usually ten (10) minutes for regulars. It also shows that there are improvements with the body’s cognitive function, inhibition, and decrease in stress. Don’t miss the full video to see how it works!

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

Dr. Justin Marchegiani

In this episode, we cover:

0:36      Muse Meditation Device

3:49      Basics of Meditation

9:30      How Muse Gets the Data

13:34    Biofeedback Devices

21:07    How Muse Works

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Dr. Justin Marchegiani: And we are alive. It’s Dr. J here in the house with Ariel Garten, the founder of the Muse meditation device, really excited to have her on today we’re going to talk about this awesome new cutting edge technology. And we’ll kind of also just bring it back down to the basics of meditation. What is it? What are the benefits? What’s happening in your brain and how to actually apply it? Ariel, welcome to the podcast.

Ariel Garten: Thank you my sincere pleasure to be here. Hello, everyone.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Excellent. Well, why don’t you tell the listeners a little bit more about yourself? And how did you make this journey into meditation and then what made you want to come up with this new technology to enhance that?

Ariel Garten: Sure. So my own background is a training in neuroscience. So I was fascinated by the brain and how it works. I then became a psychotherapist and began dealing with patients every day helping them shift their own mental state and recognized how difficult it was. And meditation was a skill that I was taught as something to use inside of my practice with my patients. But I would teach my patients to do it, and they would rarely actually start the habit. So it became this really frustrating process of teaching someone to meditate, and then not actually seeing the benefits rolling out into their life. I, at the same time was working in a research lab with Dr. Steve Mann, and he had an early brain computer interface system. So using eg electrodes, we could track your brainwaves and then turn that brainwave activity into sound. And we really had this aha moment, myself and my co founders of muse, Chris and Trevor, we had this aha moment that if we can make this invisible, intangible process, in your mind, visible and tangible, maybe we could apply that to meditation, maybe we could actually help people hear what was going on inside their mind while they meditated. And in doing so actually get people to start and maintain their meditation practice, if they could get real feedback and have real data from their brain. And that was born.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Cool. So you have this kind of biofeedback, that kind of help you distinguish if you were in a good kind of brain wavelength state, so to speak. And then how does that how does that sound compute? So like, is it what’s the wavelength in your brain? That’s supposedly good? And how does it know that you’re there? And how does it How does it do all that connection back and forth?

Ariel Garten: Sure. So the old school approach to doing biofeedback or neurofeedback on meditation, is just to look at your band. So if you’re in beta band, you’re thinking in your brains all over the place, you’re likely not meditating. If you’re an alpha, you’re seeing an increase in meditation. And if you’re seeing some data, then there’s even more meditation. That was the old school way of doing meditation. At this point, we’ve now taught literally hundreds of thousands of people to meditate using news. And so we use a machine learning approach. And we have an algorithm that understands when you’re in focused attention, versus when your mind is wandering. So it analyzes every aspect of your brainwave activity at that moment, and knows if you’re specifically in focused attention, which is the fundamental of a focused attention meditation, or if your mind has wandered and is distracted. And what we do is we turn that into a sound that’s very easy to understand that it’s your mind. So when you’re focused, the sound is quiet. And when you’re distracted, you hear a storm pickup, it’s like my mind is stormy. Oh, okay, let’s bring it back to calm. And when you focus a calm again. And when your mind gets distracted on a thought up mind to stormy, then bring it back down to calm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: It’s interesting, because I find a lot of people and even myself when they’re doing a meditation, one of the first things they kind of think to themselves is, am I doing this, right? Like, I’m not sure there’s kind of this hesitation of is this, is this all wrong? So I kind of like the fact that you get a little bit of a feedback. And so let’s say you’re using the device, right? And you get the storm clouds coming in, what should be the focus, like, what should that switch be to bring you back on track? 

Ariel Garten: Sure. So you bring your attention back to your breath. So a focused attention. Meditation always has a neutral anchor, it could be your breath, that could be a word, it could be a part of your body, breath tends to be the easiest because your breath is always there. By simply counting your breaths, you’re bringing yourself back to a neutral anchor. You’re taking your mind out of your wandering thoughts into a place that is neutral and unintentional. Because most of us spend our life just wandering in our thoughts. Most of us just spend our life with the mind with thinking that just keeps going and we assume it’s supposed to be that way. But when you actually start a meditation practice, and recognize that you can identify when you’re thinking and choose to take your mind away from there and put your attention on something else other than your thoughts. At that moment, you fundamentally change your relationship to your thinking. You fundamentally can now choose the contents of your mind. And since most of the things in our mind are negative, repetitive, not particularly helpful, when we’re able to actually have choice over the contents of our own mental space and how we attend to it, you can dramatically shift the amount of stress, negativity, anxiety etc. in your life.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay, very interesting. All right, so now someone’s coming into this or like, Hey, I haven’t even started meditating at all yet. So what does meditation look like for you is it just kind of what you kind of implied earlier where you’re just bringing that anchor, bringing that focus of that anchor back to the breath. And you’re just focusing on that, while you breathe in and out throughout the nose is that pretty much it to keep it simple for the listeners?

Ariel Garten: Totally. So that is the basis of a focused attention meditation, there are lots of different forms of meditation of focused attention is the most common. And what you’re simply doing is you’re putting your attention on your breath, your mind will eventually have a thought, because all of us have thoughts, it’s okay, you then notice that you have that thought, and instead of following the thought and thinking about your grocery list, or your husband, or whatever, you choose to say, Nope, I’m gonna let that thought Go and bring my attention elsewhere. Other than my thinking, I’m going to bring my attention back to my breath. And you just do this very simple activity over and over again. And the simple activity triggers those profound results, by the fact that you are actually now shifting the relationship to your own mind.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Interesting, okay. And so it’s okay, you shouldn’t beat yourself up, if your thoughts go off, just kind of recenter it back, be the observer of that, like, there should be no shame or any of that kind of feeling. If you can’t quite do it, or you can’t quite stick on it.

Ariel Garten: Exactly. None of us are good at meditation at the beginning, or even halfway through or even at the end. You know, we all have thoughts, and that’s okay. You’re not trying to get rid of your thoughts. You’re trying to make yourself aware of them and increase the choice about what you do with those thoughts.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay. All right, interesting. So what’s the minimum dose to get some benefits? So if someone’s coming in is five minutes enough? Like what what do you recommend as a beginner to kind of see some benefit, but make the make the step to commit? Pretty easy?

Ariel Garten: Yeah, so with studies with news, we’ve looked at 10 minutes of meditation per day, and at 10 minutes of meditation, over six weeks, in trial studies, we’ve been able to see improvements in your relationship to your body, so less self reported, headache, nausea, etc, you’ve been able to see improvement in cognitive function as measured by the script task and go nogo tasks, improvement and inhibition, and obviously, a decrease in stress and improvement in calm. Okay, so in a lot of the studies in the literature, they look at 20 minutes a day, but 20 minutes a day is a lot to meditate for a novice. So the best amount of for you to meditate right now, if you’ve never meditated is whatever amount you can bear it for initially. That could be three minutes, that could be five minutes, you just want to start and try to do it consistently. Just five-

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Five minutes be done twice a day?

Ariel Garten: Absolutely. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay. All right, cool. And what’s the goal wavelength that we want our brain to be in during this meditation state.

Ariel Garten: So there’s, as I said, the old school way was to look at a goal wavelength. Now it’s no longer so much about the goal wavelength, it is about the state that you are in, and our brains are much more complicated than simply being an alpha or simply being in beta. Okay, what we see when you meditate is a significant increase in alpha activity. And also sometimes an increase in beta coherence. When you it’s not so just as simple as alpha, because alpha peak frequency changes as you age, okay, so when you’re young, you have the most amount of alpha at around 10 and a half hertz, let’s say, quite fast. As you age, your alpha peak, frequency slows down. So your alpha peak might be at 11 hertz, 12 hertz. And so as you engage in meditation practice, some of what might you might be looking to do is both to increase your alpha activity, and potentially to increase your alpha, decrease your alpha frequency to a faster wave. So it’s, it’s a lot more complicated once you start looking at the nuance of it.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay, all right, got it. And then what’s our active wavelength state when we’re just totally alert, doing stuff and working throughout the day?

Ariel Garten: Again, hard to say, when you’re active and engaged, you tend to be in beta waves when you’re thinking, but being in flow has a slightly different brainwave characteristic. And we also have different brain waves that we emit from different parts of our head. Okay, so you know, high, high, theta frontal midline, is going to be associated with really high attention, but high data from another part of your brain is also associated with mind wandering and ADHD. You know, it’s nuanced.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay, got it. That makes sense. And so how is the device grabbing all this Intel? So is it I know it’s a device you put I think you guys have a Bluetooth connection or Bluetooth connection now. Correct?

Ariel Garten: Yep. So it is four channels of eg data. So it kind of slips on just like a pair of glasses. For those of you looking at the YouTube you can see the device now.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Video guys, if you’re listening on the podcast, we’ll put the YouTube link below if you want to see the actual demo.

Ariel Garten: Yep. Or you can go to choosemuse.com/welcome. We also have videos there. That shows you what the device looks like. And so there’s two channels of eg data on the forehead and two behind the ears. And so that’s enough to track your brainwaves associated with focused attention versus mind wandering. And then that data sent to your smartphone or tablet where it interprets your brain activity. And lets you know, when you’re in the meditation zone and when you’re not. So you’re getting this beautiful guided feedback during your meditation. And then after the fact you see data, charts, graphs, scores, things that actually show you moment to moment what your brain was doing, and let you see your improvement session on session.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Okay, that’s really cool. And now when you’re doing the muse, you have the device on. Is there any concern at all from you with the Bluetooth radiation that that’s connecting the headset to the to the phone or the smart device?

Ariel Garten: So the Bluetooth antenna faces outwards? So the radiation is going out towards your phone? It’s okay, low energy. So I mean, the amount of radiation that’s coming off there is infantile asmall, relative to even having your phone on the table. 

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Oh, good. That’s good. Excellent. All right. So we have this device on right we’re utilizing it. What do you notice as correlation with a device meaning like if I’m eating diet changes, certain supplementation? I’ve noticed some patients of mine that have done the Muse device before and they’ve done magnesium and l theanine and different nutrients they’ve noticed, improve Muse scores, what associations have you guys made just on your own or clinically in practice with your patients?

Ariel Garten: Oh, that’s a great question. Nobody’s ever asked me that. That’s super cool. Definitely, we notice when people start to meditate, they start to improve more habits in their life. So this is actually something that you see in the meditation literature that when somebody starts a meditation practice, it then becomes easier to adhere to the other things that you’re trying to do. Because you become more mindful, and you become more intentional. So you know, the the suggestion there is that you’re then more likely to take your supplements, you’re then more likely to help, you know, improve your sleep patterns. One of the things that we see when people start musing is that they report better sleep, and that they use Muse before they go to bed in order to improve their sleep. And so I we haven’t actually looked at what are the things that make your meditation better, but we’ve looked a fair amount at what are the things that when you meditate, also seem to be getting better in your life and in your health, and got their vast.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Got it. So you’re looking at Muse and then the effect benefits of it versus hey, these things over here may actually help make that Muse session better.

Ariel Garten: Yeah, and we have a number of studies running. So there have been over 200 published papers using Muse both as a clinical grade eg and a meditation tool. And the Mayo Clinic recently ran a study with breast cancer patients awaiting surgery. And they saw that using Muse through their surgery process was able to decrease the stress of surgery, improve their fatigue and quality of life. And now Mayo Clinic is looking at this relative to breast cancer patients going through chemotherapy, because they’re interested in understanding the impact of meditation with different forms of other interventions, be it surgery, chemotherapy, etc. And they’re also looking at a number of other disease states and studies using news to see how meditating with news can improve the outcome of those states.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Very cool. So what was your experience like with other neurofeedback devices? While you were a clinician seeing patients? We did you have a lot of experience with those devices? And then did you feel like Ah, this could be better, or we need to make something more portable for patients? What was your experience like with that early technology? And then how did it morph with the newer one?

Ariel Garten: So as a clinician, I didn’t use neurofeedback devices, but I had experience with biofeedback devices, and definitely felt that they gave interesting information, but that they didn’t actually give information about the brain. You know, they might tell you what your heart rate is doing, what your galvanic skin response is, but all of those are downstream effects of what war probably was initiated in your own mind. You know, the the anxious thoughts, the triggers that were mental that then ramp the body that then ramped the mind in this feed forward way. So, you know, we saw that there was a great opportunity. It was really at the beginning of the tracking movement, where you had wearables that track your sleep and your steps, but absolutely nothing that tracked your brain. And so we were able to develop Muse as an eg that would track your brain during meditation. And then since then, we’ve added more biofeedback methodologies to the same device. So in the Muse to you have eg degree feedback on your brain, there’s accelerometers and gyroscopes give you feedback on your body, there’s a breath sensor so you can get feedback on your breath rate and train yourself for different breathing exercises. There’s a PPG sensor to track your heart rate. And so you can actually hear the beating of your heart like the beating of a drum and learn to tune your interoception your understanding of your own internal state, and to know when your heart is increasing and decreasing can help you train your heart rate variability. So we’ve you know, pilot On a whole bunch of biofeedback methodologies on top of the neurofeedback as we’ve been on the path of creating and releasing news over the last six years.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Cool. So biofeedback would be more things related to heart rate breathing or neurofeedback is more biofeedback, specific to the brain wavelength, that kind of stuff. Okay, good. That makes sense. How does this correlate to like devices that are HRV heart rate variability, which a lot of people like the M wave devices that kind of connect heart connection to the brain and that coherent state of coherence we hear of that helps with with parasympathetic kind of repair and stress reduction. How does that? How do they connect? Is there a connection at all?

Ariel Garten: I can talk about that a little. It’s a cool question. So when you’re looking at your HRV, most people don’t understand what it is. So when you breathe in, your heart rate increases. As you breathe out, your heart rate decreases, this pattern is called your sinusoidal arrhythmia. And what your HRV is, is the difference between the fastest heartbeat on your intake and your slowest heartbeat on your exhale. So that’s why extended exhales actually make you more relaxed, because your heart rate is slowing more and more and more throughout the course of your exhale. And so an extended exhale is actually going to increase your heart rate variability. Now, when you’re super stressed, you have a very shallow change between your increase and your decrease of your heart, you’re probably breathing shallowly and your heart rate is going in parallel. So when you’re super stressed, you just see like a tiny wiggly line for your heart rate variability. When you’re relaxed, you have a great increase in decrease a great like up and down a nice, beautiful sinusoidal wave that goes with your HRV. And so that’s how you see the increase in your HRV. When you’re relaxed. In terms of the correlation with meditation, as you do the breathing through your meditation and relax your body and take your mind away from stressful thoughts. You are typically inherently increasing your heart rate variability, the correlation is not perfect one to one. But as you start to relax the mind and the body relaxes through deep breathing, you also see a beautiful change and shift in your HRV. And when you look at long term correlations for HRV, you see that people who are depressed for example, have very low HRV. And people who are not depressed and unhealthy states have an increase in HRV. So the kinds of effects you get with meditation also parallel the kinds of things you might see in somebody’s HRV.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s awesome. Is that a device? Or is that a biofeedback tool that you may add to the Muse at some point.

Ariel Garten: Um, so with the existing Muse Muse to and are new and Muse as you’re able to see a graph of your heart rate. So you can actually see your heartbeats like the increase in the decrease, you can visually see your HRV, we don’t give you an HRV calculation, because there’s actually a little bit of a controversy in the scientific field around how accurate instantaneous HRV is. So the pure science says that you need long term calculations of somebody’s heart rate in order to really get their HRV. So we’ve steered away from a specific HRV calculation, but you can see it on the graph like you can see actually what’s going on in your heart. And it’s quite amazing. You can see when your HRV is good, and when it’s short.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Very cool, what other little kind of nuances with the device you can share with us that could be could apply to improve our health on top of what you already mentioned so far.

Ariel Garten: Sure. So we have a new device that just came out Muse s, and for those of you watching the video, it is right here. It is a soft, comfortable form factor, and the module just pops off, you can watch the band. And we made it specifically for people who want to track their brain overnight and help them to fall asleep. So we found a lot of people were using us to help them fall asleep. And but you’d have to take your Muse device off when you fell asleep. So we made Muse s super comfy, so you can just fall asleep with it on. And we give you these beautiful things called sleep journeys, guided sleep journeys, they’re guided meditations that lull you into sleep. And you also get a soundtrack that’s actually built from your body that’s designed to entrain you into sleep faster. So you might hear the beating of your heart like the chirping of crickets and the soundscape. Or the movements of your body like the lapping of waves, you’re literally hearing your own body. And then what we do is as you start to get into a rhythm and slow down a little bit, we actually slow down the soundtrack in a way that’s designed to train you to fall asleep faster. And so it’s a super beautiful experience. And then towards the end of this year, we’re releasing comprehensive eg sleep tracking. So you’ll be able to see all sorts of details about your night’s sleep even you know coffee details like the amount of sleep spindles you had.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’s really cool. I think anytime you’re trying to teach someone to develop a new habit, especially when they don’t have a lot of confidence, it’s important to have a coach or someone to kind of pat them on the back or give them encouragement that they’re doing the right thing or, or feedback after doing the wrong thing. And I think the benefit of this device, it really provides that little bit of a meditation coach over your shoulder to give you a pat in the back or give you feedback if you’re not on the right track. So I think it’s really beneficial. Because if people can can do it and feel confident about it, they’re more likely to make it part of their kind of day in day out habits.

Ariel Garten: Absolutely. That’s literally why we built this, whether you’re somebody who’s never meditated before, and is just like what’s going on, or you’re an expert meditator who wants more insight into your process. This is a device that’s literally like a little coach or guru inside your head, encouraging you showing you what’s going on giving you your feedback, so that you can know when you can improve.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Cool. So how does this work? So you put the device on? Is there any way you can do it while we’re on live on the podcast here?

Ariel Garten: Not while holding my microphone simultaneously.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: That’d be amazing. 

Ariel Garten: So so this is the Muse here. It slips on. Great, it then would connect to the app on my phone. So here is I don’t think you can see there’s too much glare right there. There you go. There’s the Muse app. And so inside, that’s my notification that I have new content available. Inside the Muse app, you have meditations for the mind. And there you can set the length of time that you’d like to meditate for the soundscape you’d like to use what you’d like guidance or not. We also have meditations for the heart, where you’re hearing the heart like the beating of the drum, you can actually see your own heart rate variability and what it’s doing more meditations for the breath for the body. We have an entire section of guided content here. Let me open that for you. Where we have literally hundreds of meditations for stress, anxiety sleep, we say if you’ve got a problem in your life, we’ve got a meditation for that. So whether it’s performance, workplace, etc you can go in there and really find the thing that you’re trying to work on or is bothering you and get a meditation and guidance and insight to help you in that process. With or without your Muse.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: I love it. I totally love it. I’m really excited to try this out get my own device go and that’s awesome. We’ll put a link here for the listeners choosemuse.com/welcome, choosemuse.com/welcome. And the discount code will be welcome 10 we’ll put the links below. So if you guys are driving and you’re active, we’ll put that below so you can access the later areas or anything else you want to leave the listeners with right now.

Ariel Garten: Really the understanding that if you’ve tried meditation before, and you’re like, I don’t know, I’m not good at it, whatever. Put all of that behind you because literally anyone can meditate. It’s not about whether you’re good at it. Whether you feel like you did it well or not. None of that matters. Meditation is just a process that you practice a little bit every day. And when you do it you will start to see the fruits and the benefits in your life.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Love it is there anywhere else people can get more information about you or the device.

Ariel Garten: At choosemuse.com/welcome. There’s lots of information about the device, the neuroscience behind it and more.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Awesome. Ariel, thank you so much for being part of the podcast.

Ariel Garten: My sincere pleasure. Thank you.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani: Thank you.


References:

https://justinhealth.com/

https://www.evanbrand.com/

https://justinhealth.com/muse

Audio Podcast:

https://justinhealth.libsyn.com/meditation-using-the-muse-device-with-ariel-garten-podcast-304

The Top 5 Causes of Chronic Headaches

Today we are going to be talking about the top underlying reasons why you may be having a chronic headache. I had a patient come in today who had headaches for 25 years, monthly and chronically, and we were able to get to the root cause and there are many different root causes for every person. Let me lay out the common ones that I find to be a major vector of my patients.

Click here for a consultation with a functional medicine doctor if you are experiencing chronic headaches!

So we have headaches and head pain or migraines where you kind of have that aura and sound sensitivity. There are a couple of different major reasons why headaches may happen.

1. Food Allergens

Most common food allergy is gluten and dairy. There are some studies on gluten affecting blood flow up to the brain. We have these garden hoses on the side of our neck called our carotid arteries. When we have inflammation especially caused by gluten that can decrease blood flow and blood profusion to the frontal cortex, and when you have less blood, you’re going to have decreased performance of the brain. You can see that manifesting in a headache. People don’t know but headaches are actually an issue with vasodilation in the brain.  Caffeine can help as caffeine actually causes constriction and brain’s typical headache signal is caused by vasodilation.

2. Food Additives.

These could be things like MSG, aspartame, Splenda or various artificial colors and dyes.

3. Blood Sugar Fluctuation.

We want to have healthy proteins and healthy fats with every meal. If we skip meals or we eat foods that are too high in carbohydrates and refined “crapohydrates” and sugar, and not enough fats and proteins, our blood sugar can go up and then drop. This is called reactive hypoglycemia. We react by putting a whole bunch of sugar in our bloodstream because all of these carbohydrate sources break down into sugar — processed sugar, grains, flours and acellular carbohydrates. These type of flours and refined processed carbs get converted to glucose in our bloodstream. When glucose goes up, our pancreas goes, “Holy smokes! We got a lot of glucose there. We got to pull it into the cell.” It spits out a whole bunch of insulin and pulls that glucose right down, and we have his blood sugar going up with a lot of insulin driving that blood sugar back down. When that blood sugar goes back down, this is where we have cravings.  This is where we have addictions, mood issues, energy issues, jitteriness, and cognitive issues. Our body makes adrenaline and cortisol to bring that blood sugar back up. Most people literally live on this high insulin where they are making fat, storing fat and engaging in lipogenesis which makes us tired. Then blood sugar crashes which makes people jittery, anxious, and moody. Most people live on this reactive hypoglycemia rollercoaster and that can drive headaches.

4. Gut Infections.

Patients with a lot of gut inflammation, gut permeability, and infections whether it’s H. pylori, SIBO (small intestinal, bacterial overgrowth) or fungal overgrowth have gut stressors can create inflammation in the gut. When we have inflammation in the gut, we have gut permeability. So our tight junctions in our intestines start to open up and undigested bacteria, lipopolysaccharides, food particles can slip through and create an immune response. You can see histamine along with that immune response and histamine can create headache issues.

5. Hormonal Issue.

A woman’s cycle is about 28 days and in the middle is ovulation. Some women have it during ovulation and most have it right at the end just before they menstruate. This is called premenstrual syndrome that is right before menstruation. A lot of women may also have it during menstruation, too. What happens is progesterone can drop out early and that drop in progesterone can actually cause headache manifestations and also the aberrations in estrogen can also cause headaches as well. We may also see it with excessive bleeding too. So if you’re bleeding a lot or too much, what may happen is you may lose iron and that low iron may cause oxygenation issues.  That low level of oxygen may also cause some headache issues as well.  Because if you can’t carry oxygen, that is going to be a stressed-out situation for your mitochondria and your metabolism. For menopausal women who have chronically low hormones and they’re not in an optimal place, that can create issues. Progesterone and estrogen can be very anti-inflammatory. So if there is inflammation in the brain, progesterone is a powerful anti-inflammatory and that can really help a lot of inflammation in the brain.

If you have any questions about headaches, please reach out to a functional medicine doctor to find a way to fix your issue.


The entire contents of this website are based upon the opinions of Dr. Justin Marchegiani unless otherwise noted. Individual articles are based upon the opinions of the respective author, who retains copyright as marked. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Justin and his community. Dr. Justin encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified healthcare professional. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Marchegiani’s products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using any products.