Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD https://www.jillcarnahan.com Your Functional Medicine Expert! Sun, 27 Nov 2022 22:12:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=6.1.1 Is Gadolinium Helpful or Harmful? An Exploration of Gadolinium Retention and Toxicity https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/11/27/is-gadolinium-helpful-or-harmful-an-exploration-of-gadolinium-retention-and-toxicity/ https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/11/27/is-gadolinium-helpful-or-harmful-an-exploration-of-gadolinium-retention-and-toxicity/#respond Sun, 27 Nov 2022 22:12:43 +0000 https://www.jillcarnahan.com/?p=38689 Modern-day medicine and technology have revolutionized our ability to “look within” – allowing us to quite literally get a glimpse of what’s going on inside of our bodies. And while these technological advances have drastically improved our ability to detect, diagnose, and treat countless conditions, these tools can also have a dark side. In some…

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Modern-day medicine and technology have revolutionized our ability to “look within” – allowing us to quite literally get a glimpse of what’s going on inside of our bodies. And while these technological advances have drastically improved our ability to detect, diagnose, and treat countless conditions, these tools can also have a dark side.

In some cases, these procedures designed to support and enhance our well-being can have the opposite effect and even damage our health. One such tool, in particular, is the use of a highly-useful and highly-toxic compound known as gadolinium.

Today we’re going to explore exactly what gadolinium is, why it’s so valuable when it comes to diagnostic tests, it’s potentially toxic side effects, how to detox if you’ve been exposed, and most importantly – the best way to approach the complicated question of whether this complex compound is more helpful or more harmful.

What Is Gadolinium and What Is Gadolinium Used for?

Gadolinium is a rare silvery-white earth metal that is most often used in medications known as gadolinium-based contrast agents or GBCAs. These GBCAs are used during specific diagnostic or imaging procedures known as magnetic resonance imaging or MRI. MRI is an important diagnostic tool used to examine internal organs and tissues.

Gadolinium-based contrast agents are utilized in MRIs in a process that goes like this:1,2

  • MRI scanners are large tube-like, magnetic machines that create a pulsating electric current that is passed through coiled wires – creating a temporary magnetic field in your body
  • This magnetic field temporarily realigns and reorganizes the subatomic particles known as protons contained within your body
  • As this magnetic field pulsates, these realigned protons emit faint signals as they return back to their normal state of alignment
  • These faint signals are transmitted to sensors within the MRI
  • From there, these transmitted signals are translated into a digital image of your body – allowing for the creation of both 3D and cross-sectional images of tissues within your body
  • Sometimes, gadolinium-based contrast agents will be used to further enhance these digital images
  • GBCAs are able to enhance MRI images by altering the speed at which protons move as they are realigned with the pulsating electromagnetic field – with more rapid proton movement creating a brighter, clearer picture of certain tissues

So if these GBCAs alter how the protons in your body function, it begs the question – is gadolinium toxic?

Is Gadolinium Toxic to the Body?

The answer to this question is – it’s complicated. The heavy metal gadolinium in and of itself is quite toxic to the human body. But gadolinium used in gadolinium-based contrast agents is much much safer thanks to a process known as chelation – a process in which pure gadolinium is bound to other less-toxic molecules.

The chelation process can produce two different and distinct forms of GBCAs based on their chemical structure, which are: 

  1. Linear: An elongated, flexible “chain” of molecules bound together
  2. Macrocyclic: A ring of molecules bound together that essentially creates a “cage” around the gadolinium molecule

While chelation certainly makes the administration of gadolinium significantly safer, that doesn’t mean that GBCAs don’t come with their own set of inherent risks. In some cases, gadolinium within GBCAs can trigger acute allergic reactions.3 But research is finding that gadolinium may have some much less obvious impacts on your health – with this toxic metal sometimes causing a condition known as gadolinium deposition disease.

Gadolinium Deposition Disease: What Is It?

Gadolinium deposition disease is also sometimes referred to as gadolinium storage condition or gadolinium retention. As these names imply, this condition is characterized by the retention and storage of gadolinium deposits within your body. You see, it was previously believed that the gadolinium administered in GBCAs remained in a chelated state and was quickly excreted by the body.

But research is unveiling a much different story – with new studies finding that, in some cases, traces of gadolinium can remain in the bone, brain, and other organs long after the initial introduction of GBCAs.4 In particular, research is finding that GBCAs with a linear structure are not nearly as stable or as well excreted as previously thought.

So what exactly happens when you retain gadolinium and what are the symptoms of gadolinium deposition disease?

What Are the Symptoms of Gadolinium Retention?

It’s been established for quite some time that gadolinium from GCBAs can be retained and accumulate in those with renal impairment – meaning their kidneys aren’t functioning properly and are unable to effectively detox and eliminate gadolinium and other toxic compounds. But gadolinium deposition disease occurs in those with normal kidney function – meaning prior to recent findings, there was no reason to suspect that these individuals would have any issue clearing GBCAs.

Some of the symptoms associated with gadolinium retention and accumulation in both those with impaired kidney function and gadolinium deposition disease include:5,6,7,8

  • Nephrogenic fibrosing dermopathy: The development of hard, thickened, and discolored plaques or lesions on the skin caused by increased connective tissues like collagen, fibroblasts, and elastic fibers
  • Nephrogenic systemic fibrosis: The fibrosis, or thickening and hardening of fibrous connective tissues found in internal organs throughout the body
  • Unexplained pain: Primarily presenting as bone pain in the limbs, pain in the central torso, or a general “burning sensation”
  • Fatigue, headache, and cognitive changes: New onset of headaches, brain fog, vision and/or hearing changes, difficulty sleeping, and persistent fatigue
  • Fasciculations: Involuntary twitches or small muscle contractions
  • Gadolinium deposits: Deposits of accumulated gadolinium being stored in essential tissues and organs such as the brain, kidneys, heart, and bones
  • Impaired mitochondrial function and increased inflammation: Disruption of the mitochondria or “powerhouse” of the cell and an increase in proinflammatory cytokines

The exact mechanism of action by which accumulated gadolinium exerts these toxic effects is still unclear, but it’s speculated that the toxic metal may trigger inflammation that leads to these concerning symptoms. So how exactly can we address any accumulated gadolinium and support the body in eliminating this complex compound?

Gadolinium Retention Treatment: How to Remove Gadolinium From the Body

While there are still more questions than answers when it comes to gadolinium deposition disease, it’s likely that it’s due to a genetic variation that disrupts your ability to properly excrete heavy metals like gadolinium. Therefore, one of the most effective ways to address symptoms and complications triggered by an accumulation of this toxic metal is by supporting and enhancing your body’s ability to excrete it. 

Some ways to enhance your ability to detox and eliminate gadolinium include:

  • Try chelation therapy: This involves the use of compounds known as chelating agents (like those found in ZeoBind Plus) that bind to gadolinium and package it up to be eliminated via your detox pathways. There are several different ways to perform chelation therapy, but if you have an accumulation of gadolinium or other toxic heavy metals, it’s a good idea to complete chelation therapy under the guidance and supervision of an experienced professional.
  • Optimize gut health: Your gut and the microbes that reside within your digestive tract (known as your microbiome) play a pivotal role in your ability to detox. Support a healthy, happy gut by eating a well-rounded diet high in nutrient-dense foods and by incorporating gut-supporting supplements. My favorites are Spore Probiotic plus IgG to promote a diverse and thriving population of gut microbes and Gut Immune to help enhance the integrity of your gut lining.
  • Incorporate supplements that boost your natural detoxification pathways: Some of the most potent detox pathway-boosting supplements include N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), Glutathione Essentials, and Liver Essentials
  • Try complementary detoxification strategies: Incorporating things like dry brushing, infrared sauna, PEMF therapy, and lymphatic drainage can all help speed up and optimize the elimination of accumulated toxins.
  • Minimize your overall toxic burden: Gadolinium certainly isn’t the only toxin that can accumulate within your body. The more toxins that accumulate, the higher your toxic burden. Taking steps to lower your toxic burden can go a long way in keeping your detoxification pathways firing on all cylinders and keeping you feeling your best.

While these steps are a good place to start, if you’re at all concerned about an accumulation of gadolinium or any other toxic compounds, I cannot overemphasize the importance of working with an experienced Integrative and Functional Medicine Practitioner to help you properly and safely detox. Now that we’ve reviewed some ways to detox from gadolinium, you’re probably wondering, “can’t I just avoid using contrast with gadolinium in the first place?”

Can An MRI Be Done Without Gadolinium? Or Can I Refuse Gadolinium Contrast?

The answer to both of these questions is – yes, you certainly can. But that doesn’t mean it’s always the best option. You see, while gadolinium and GBCAs used in MRIs most definitely come with their own unique set of potential risks, that doesn’t mean that they should necessarily be avoided at all costs.

GBCAs can drastically improve the accuracy of MRIs – allowing us to more effectively diagnose a wide range of conditions. Early and accurate diagnosis of serious and life-threatening conditions gives us a far better chance at creating an effective treatment plan – meaning the benefits of proper and early diagnosis far outweigh the risks of using GBCAs.

With that being said, there are a couple of factors to take into consideration when using contrast agents containing gadolinium that can further mitigate the risk of toxicity, such as:

  • Limit the number of MRIs performed with the use of GBCAs: Only utilize GBCAs when absolutely necessary for diagnostic purposes to minimize the risk of gadolinium accumulation
  • Opt for macrocyclic GBCAs versus linear GBCAs: Studies have found macrocyclic GBCAs to be more stable – making them less likely to degrade and leave behind residual gadolinium in your tissues9

Following these guidelines and taking steps to support healthy balanced detoxification pathways can allow us to harness the incredible power of these diagnostic-enhancing compounds while minimizing the risk of toxic side effects.

The Verdict on Gadolinium: Is It More Helpful or Harmful?

While gadolinium may indeed have the potential to create some frightening and life-altering side effects, that doesn’t automatically make this rare metal a villain when it comes to your health. The truth is much more complicated than that. Gadolinium used in contrast agents can be extraordinarily helpful when it comes to our ability to detect and diagnose a wide range of health concerns and has no doubt saved countless lives. 

But we must steward the power of this mighty metal responsibly to avoid potentially toxic consequences. When it comes to complex concerns like the use of gadolinium, the very best tool we have in defending and optimizing our health is knowledge. The more you know, the better choices you can make when it comes to what’s right for you. 

That’s why I’m so passionate about empowering my patients and readers with science-backed and easy-to-understand information. If you enjoyed this article and are looking for more ways to stay informed and empowered, be sure to browse through my blog, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and sign up for my weekly newsletter (all you have to do is enter your name and email address in the form below).

Now it’s time to hear from you. Were you surprised to hear about the potentially toxic side effects associated with the gadolinium used in contrast during MRIs? Have you ever experienced any negative side effects from gadolinium-based contrast agents? Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments below!

Resources:

  1. Information on Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agents | FDA
  2. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) (nih.gov)
  3. Gadolinium Magnetic Resonance Imaging – StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
  4. Gadolinium toxicity and treatment – PubMed (nih.gov)
  5. Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agent Use, Their Safety, and Practice Evolution – PMC (nih.gov)
  6. Gadolinium Deposition in the Brain and Body (jbsr.be)
  7. Physicians with self-diagnosed gadolinium deposition disease: a case series – PMC (nih.gov)
  8. Frontiers | Altered Functional Mitochondrial Protein Levels in Plasma Neuron-Derived Extracellular Vesicles of Patients With Gadolinium Deposition (frontiersin.org)
  9. Drug Saftey Communication: GBCAs (fda.gov)
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Give the Gift of Wellness this Season: Dr. Jill’s Personal Picks for 2022! https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/11/21/give-the-gift-of-wellness-this-season-dr-jills-personal-picks-for-2022/ https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/11/21/give-the-gift-of-wellness-this-season-dr-jills-personal-picks-for-2022/#respond Tue, 22 Nov 2022 02:36:33 +0000 https://www.jillcarnahan.com/?p=38760 The holidays are right around the corner. And you’re probably mulling over what to get your loved ones and what to put on your own wish list. Well, I’ve got you covered – here are my favorite healthy gifts and ideas to help you give the gift of wellness this holiday season. 

The post Give the Gift of Wellness this Season: Dr. Jill’s Personal Picks for 2022! first appeared on Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.]]>
The holidays are right around the corner. And you’re probably mulling over what to get your loved ones and what to put on your own wish list. Well, I’ve got you covered – here are my favorite healthy gifts and ideas to help you give the gift of wellness this holiday season. 

The Perfect Anti-Aging and Beauty Gifts

Do you have a beauty-conscious loved one on your gift-giving list this year? Then treat them with the gift of an anti-aging secret weapon that helps them enhance their own natural beauty and boosts their confidence.

Here are some of the most effective natural anti-aging and beauty gifts that the beauty guru on your list is sure to love. 

Dr. Jill’s Personal Favorites

Your skin is the largest organ of your body – so the skincare products you use on a daily basis matter more than you may think. If you’re using skincare, beauty, and make-up products riddled with questionable and toxic ingredients, they can be absorbed through your skin and wreak havoc on your overall health and well-being. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between beauty and health.

All Dr. Jill products are formulated with both health and beauty in mind –  using only the purest and highest quality ingredients. Give the gift of naturally flawless skin, minus the toxic ingredients, with Dr. Jill’s rejuvenating skin products. For a simple anti-aging beauty routine, you can’t go wrong with this regimen:

Dr. Jill Needle Free Serum

This carefully calibrated combination of copper, proline, lysine, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide triggers and reactivates the production of collagen and elastin while simultaneously improving the skin’s barrier function.

This fusion of effects is clinically proven to deliver equivalent results to one injection of collagen filler in just two weeks of regular use.

Dr. Jill HA Collagen Booster

Our proprietary trans-epidermal carrier peptide complex paired with several different forms of hyaluronic acid gives this serum unmatched hydrating abilities. This boosts your skin’s barrier function – providing deep penetrating hydration that lasts up to 5 days after initial application.

This unique formula’s ability to boost collagen and enhance your skin’s natural hydration helps minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also combats the damaging effects of UV rays and pollution, leaving your skin rejuvenated and glowing.

Dr. Jill Biopeptide Beauty Cream

This unique and revitalizing cream is formulated with human growth factors, a peptide complex, antioxidants, and other skin-restorative ingredients.

This combination of powerful ingredients replenishes your skin’s fatty acids and stimulates collagen production while reversing the damage done by oxidative stress.

This daily beauty cream will leave your skin soft and smooth, and help restore a youthful appearance.

Dr. Jill’s Radical Beauty NAD+ Peptide Day Serum

This highly potent and research-backed duo is perfectly calibrated to help you age gracefully and maintain a radiant, youthful glow.

By combining the power of NAD+ with epidermal growth factor, bio-identical polypeptides, and a blend of potent antioxidants, the day serum delivers unparalleled results to combat and reverse signs of aging. 

Dr. Jill’s beauty products are the perfect clean-beauty gift for those hard-to-buy-for beauty lovers on your list.

Higher Dose Red Light Face Mask

While topical beauty products are a critical part of your skincare ritual, they work best when paired with strategies that help you create a youthful, glowing complexion from the inside out. That’s where Higher Doses Red Light Face Mask comes in. This medical-grade silicone mask delivers red light therapy combined with far infrared heat – mimicking the low-level rejuvenating wavelengths found in natural sunlight.

The gentle, non-invasive light therapy soothes inflammation and redness, stimulates the regeneration of new, healthy skin cells, and targets uneven skin tone to leave you with glowing radiant skin. The gentle warmth and healing wavelengths are also great for relaxing and rejuvenating your mind and body – serving as an all-natural mood booster.

Click here to get your glow on with Higher Dose’s Red Light Face Mask.

The Gift of Longer Lashes and Thicker Hair

There’s no denying that long, luscious lashes and locks are two beauty trends that never go out of style. And fortunately longer and thicker eyelashes and hair don’t require expensive and frequent trips to the beauty salon. All you need are these simple additions to your beauty routine:

Dr. Jill Advanced Eyelash Growth Serum

This clinically proven serum utilizes a unique peptide complex that’s rich in Biochanin A to promote the growth of natural lashes.

This results in thicker, fuller, and more luscious lashes with visible growth in just 2 weeks of regular use.

Dr. Jill Hair Growth System

This specialized hair regrowth system consists of 3 components: the Replenish Shampoo, the Restorative Conditioner, and the Rapid Growth Serum.

This potent trio works together to reduce inflammation, boost scalp health, and promote thicker, stronger hair follicles.

Visible results can be seen in as soon as 30 days with regular use.

With these potent formulas, it’s easy to give the gift of beautiful lashes and hair. You can grab any of these best-selling beauty products by visiting my online store – you can even get 10% off your first order by clicking here!

FarmHouse Fresh Organics and Naturals

Give the gift of gleaming, healthy skin while saving lives. Yep, you read that right, FarmHouse Fresh quite literally saves lives by taking a portion of every sale and using it to run their animal sanctuary and donating money to animal rescues all over the country.

But their products aren’t just good for the animals, they’re also great for you! All of their skincare products are locally made in the USA and crafted with 100% natural, toxin-free, just-harvested botanical ingredients that are bursting with high-quality nutrition for your skin. They’ve got soaps, lotions, serums, masks, and everything in between to keep your skin healthy and glowing all year long.

Click here to learn more about FarmHouse Fresh’s incredible products and mission.

The Best Healthy Food and Drink Gifts

The food and drinks you consume are quite literally the building blocks that make up every cell of your body. So it’s no surprise that the quality of the food and beverages you consume plays a pivotal role in your health. And fortunately “healthy” doesn’t have to be bland and boring. Here are some of the best health-boosting food and drink gifts that your health-conscious recipients will love.

Olivie Olive Oil

Olive oil is chock-full of nutrients like fatty acids, antioxidants, and polyphenols that pack a powerful punch when it comes to your health. Just a handful of health benefits that have been linked to the regular consumption of olive oil include:

  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved heart health
  • Lower risk of cancer
  • Protection against neurodegeneration

If you’re looking for a healthy gift for your favorite cook, you can’t go wrong with Olivie’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Olivie’s olive oil is scientifically proven to contain drastically higher health-boosting polyphenol and antioxidant levels than store-bought brands of olive oil. In fact, their Olivie Plus 30X olive oil contains a remarkable 30 times more antioxidants than regular extra virgin olive oil!

To make it even more convenient to reap the benefits of Olivie’s nutrient-dense olive oil, you can also try their easy-to-take Olivie Force/Rich capsules. Simply popping a couple of these capsules each day can skyrocket your antioxidant levels and give you the same protection and health benefits as consuming this potent olive oil.

This olive oil’s smooth and buttery taste profile paired with its robust health-promoting benefits makes this the perfect gift for the foodie in your life. Grab a bottle or two of this top-notch olive oil by visiting my online store right here! And don’t forget you can get 10% off your order by clicking right here.

Butcher Box and Vital Choice

As the saying goes, “you are what you eat.” But you’re also whatever you’re eating, eats. Meaning when it comes to the animals and animal products you consume, quality matters – a lot. One of the healthiest (and most ethical) choices you can make, is to opt for meat and animal products that come from animals that were:

  • Raised and/or caught ethically
  • Fed a healthy diet they are designed to thrive on
  • Never given unnecessary hormones or antibiotics

That’s why I love Butcher Box and Vital Choice. Butcher Box specializes in 100% grass-fed, grass-finished beef; free-range organic chicken; heritage-breed pork; and wild-caught Alaskan salmon. And Vital Choice specializes in sustainably caught, top-notch quality seafood.

Both of these companies perfectly portion and package their top-of-the-line animal products and deliver them directly to your front door. You can trust that these companies produce animal products raised and sourced in the most ethical way possible, so they’re good for you and good for the environment.

Give the gift of the best-tasting, highest-quality meat by gifting your loved ones with Butcher Box and Vital Choice by visiting their linked sites. 

Clearly Filtered Pitchers and Self-Filtering Water Bottles

Water is life-sustaining. But unfortunately, if you’re drinking your water straight out of the sink, you might be getting more than you bargained for. You see, thanks to miles of pipeline, runoff from agriculture and industrial plants, and modern water treatment practices, most tap water (and even some bottled water) is chock-full of potentially harmful chemicals.

And if you’re drinking this contaminated water day after day, those pollutants can accumulate in your body, add to your toxic burden, and wreak havoc on your health. This is why having a high-quality water filter is a non-negotiable. Clearly Filtered has developed cutting-edge advanced filtration technology that doesn’t require any fancy equipment. Clearly Filtered’s Pitcher and Self Filtering Water Bottles target and eliminate impurities at a microscopic scale – leaving behind safe and clean drinking water.

If you want to treat yourself and/or your loved ones to delicious, pure, and contaminant-free drinking water, you can check out Clearly Filtered’s full line of products by clicking here.

Purity Coffee

Most of us can appreciate a good “cup of joe” to get us going in the morning. Thanks to a tasty dose of caffeine and a laundry list of well-documented health benefits, coffee has become a staple in our culture. But unfortunately, all the health benefits of coffee can also come with a dark side. 

Thanks to modern growing and shipping practices, low-quality coffee is often contaminated with chemicals and pesticides and can harbor mold growth – which can negate any of the health benefits associated with drinking coffee in the first place. That’s why I love Purity Coffee – their coffee is:

  • Sourced from defect-free specialty-grade beans
  • Organic and free from pesticides and other toxic chemicals
  • Tested to ensure each batch is free from mold and mycotoxins
  • Roasted to perfection to provide maximum health benefits
  • Guaranteed to contain up to 2 times the antioxidants of other leading brands

So if you’re looking for the perfect gift for the coffee connoisseur in your life, you can’t go wrong with a gift from Purity Coffee – click here to see their full line of products.

Give the Gift of Relaxation

While it can be easy to think that our health primarily revolves around our physical bodies and taking actions to care for ourselves, our well-being is a little more complicated than that. Our thoughts, feelings, relationships, and the energy we bring to our day-to-day life are crucial ingredients in the recipe for health.

And just about all of us could benefit from more relaxation, ease, and contentment in our lives. So why not give the gift of tranquility with these relaxation-boosting gifts?

VieLight Neuro Alpha Device

The Vielight Neuro Alpha device uses a patented technology known as transcranial brain photobiomodulation (tPBM) with intranasal technology. By transmitting pulsed near-infrared (NIR) energy through your nasal passageway, these energy waves can directly penetrate your brain – stimulating and inducing specific brain waves known as alpha brain waves.

Alpha waves are correlated with the brain’s resting state. By stimulating your brain to transition into an alpha wave state it can help you slip into a state of tranquility – enhancing your mental coordination, mindfulness, and learning while helping you enter a “flow” state. This makes the Vielight Neuro Alpha device the perfect gift for the loved one on your list who’d like to sharpen their neural performance and cognitive function, uplevel their concentration, or even combat a stress-filled, busy lifestyle.

Click here to learn more about Vielights patented brain-boosting technology and to get your hands on a Neuro Alpha Device this holiday season. Be sure to use the code DrJill to get 10% off your purchase!

Higher Dose Infrared PEMF Go Mat

Infrared rays are bands of electromagnetic energy that penetrate deep into your body – warming your core temperature and dilating your blood vessels. And PEMF stands for pulsed electromagnetic field – an invisible field of energy that’s “pulsed” into your body in bursts. This low level of electromagnetic energy essentially “supercharges” your cells, allowing them to function at full capacity. 

Higher Dose has harnessed the combined power of infrared with PEMF to produce one of the most healing and health-boosting technologies available on the market today – the PEMF Go Mat. This simple-to-use, portable mat transfers energy from infrared rays and PEMF directly into your body – inducing a wide range of health-boosting benefits that extend from head to toe including:

  • Promoting relaxation – helping your body and mind transition to a “rest and digest” state
  • Reducing stress and helping you slip into a happier, more carefree mood
  • Relaxing and soothing your muscles – promoting healing and pain relief
  • Helping you drift off into a deep restorative sleep
  • Increasing energy by promoting a physical and mental reset
  • Enhancing detoxification while combating inflammation and oxidative damage

If you’re looking to give the gift of relaxation and healing to someone you love, Higher Dose’s PEMF Go Mat (and their whole line of biohacking products) make the perfect gift.

Give the Gift of A Happy Healthy Gut

If you’ve ever browsed through my articles or my YouTube Channel, you know there’s a lot of talk surrounding gut health. That’s because a happy, healthy gut is a pivotal pillar of health. While these gifts may be more practical than fun or romantic, if you or a loved one struggles with tummy troubles, there’s no better gift than being able to banish digestive woes and have a healthy-feeling gut.

Coffee Enema Kit

While this might be an awkward gift to give an acquaintance or boss, a coffee enema kit can be a fabulous gift for your health-conscious loved ones that aren’t shy about trying something a little less conventional. You see, coffee enemas are a lesser-known way to reap coffee’s incredible health-promoting benefits and can supercharge your body’s ability to detox.

Before you dismiss the idea of performing an enema with coffee, you have to head over and read my article Can Coffee Enemas Really Help You Detox? A Look at the Surprising Benefits. And if you’re ready to try one for yourself or gift a kit to a loved one, you can grab your kit with organic coffee right here.

Queen of Thrones Castor Oil Pack

Castor oil, sometimes referred to as Ricinus oil, is a fatty oil that has been linked to some pretty impressive health benefits ranging from fighting acne to relieving arthritis pain. But where this oil really shines, is when it comes to improving digestion and overall gut health. Castor oil is great for:

  • Relieving constipation
  • Promoting regular bowel movements
  • Lowering gut inflammation
  • Bolstering your gut-immune axis

By simply taking a “pack” soaked in castor oil and applying it topically to the skin, the oil can permeate through your skin and into your body where it can work its magic. And by far the easiest way to harness castor oil’s gut healing and digestion-boosting power is by using the Queen of the Thrones Castor oil compress pack.

This innovative, effective, and user-friendly bundle is designed to make this transformational health practice easy for anyone to use. Click here to read more about the health benefits of castor oil packs and click here to grab one (or a few) Queen of the Thrones Castor oil compress packs.

The Best Gifts for Better Health

The beautiful thing about health is there are countless ways you can improve it. And all the little things you incorporate – or remove – add up in a big way. These are some of my favorite health-promoting products that will give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to giving the gift of better health.

Vibrant Blue Essential Oils

Essential oils are concentrated extracts from a variety of different plants. The fragrant molecules found in these herbal extractions can have some potent effects on your health. Just a handful of the science-backed impacts these aromatic oils can have on your well-being include:

  • Boosting your immune system
  • Pumping the brakes on inflammation 
  • Supporting healthy digestion and a thriving microbiome
  • Alleviating stress and elevating your mood
  • Balancing hormones
  • And much more

When it comes to essential oils, they are far from created equally. That’s why I love, trust, and use Vibrant Blue Essential oils – I know I can always count on their quality and potency. Whether your loved ones want to boost their immune system, soothe their stress levels, or simply fill their home with delicious, all-natural aromas, you can’t go wrong with Vibrant Blue’s essential oil blends.

To learn more about the incredible healing power of essential oils, head over and read my blog post How Essential Oils Can Boost Immunity, Alleviate Stress, and Improve Your Health.And if you’re not sure where to start when it comes to purchasing, I recommend checking out their Essential Wellness Kit to sample 5 of their most powerful and transformative blends.

Air Doctor

Indoor air can be notoriously polluted. With limited air circulation and accumulation of dust, pet dander, volatile organic compounds, and toxic cleaning products – indoor air can be up to 5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Which is why an air filter is a necessity.

Air Doctor is the perfect prescription for healthy indoor air. These purification systems offer top-of-the-line purifying technology that not only removes nearly 100% of any airborne particles – but also eliminates the vast majority of toxic and volatile chemicals and gasses. In fact, Air Doctor is backed by rigorous, third-party laboratory testing and studies – ensuring they deliver superior performance and peace of mind. 

Ready to give the gift of fresh, clean, pollutant-free air? To snag an Air Doctor indoor air purification system in time for the holidays simply click right here

Somavedic Healing Devices

Somavedic devices merge the healing power of semi-precious and precious stones with frequency therapy to create a controlled release of energy. This energetic frequency transmitted through these precious stones can:

  • Mitigate the harmful effects of EMF radiation
  • Reduce the damaging effects of geopathic stress and Curry and Hartman lines
  • Reduce and reverse harmful free radicals and the oxidative stress they cause
  • Harmonize and restructure tap water – transforming it into mountain spring quality water that is natural to our bodies and cells

To harness the power of these tiny but potent healing energies, all you have to do is place one of these beautifully handcrafted devices in your home or office and let it work its magic. Somavedic healing devices are a simple and powerful way to combat health-eroding compounds while boosting your body’s natural healing pathways.

Learn more about the science behind Somavedic and pick out the perfect gift for your loved ones (or yourself!) by clicking right here.

Power Plate 

Just about everyone could get on board with a shortcut to attaining:

  • Speedier fat loss
  • Increased muscle strength
  • Improved core strength
  • More flexibility
  • Tighter skin
  • Enhanced circulation
  • Improved bone strength

While there’s no magic pill or quick fix that can create these results, the Power Plate can speed up and amplify all of these health (and appearance) boosting effects.

The Power Plate’s vibrating platform vibrates 35 times per second – triggering your body to stabilize itself and in turn recruits up to 95% of your muscle fibers. That’s close to double the amount of muscle fibers typically recruited in a strenuous workout! Those impressive stats make the Power Plate the perfect gift for the fitness enthusiast or biohacker on your list.

Click here to learn more about the Power Plate and get your hands on one (or a couple) of these workout-maximizing platforms. You can even use the code drjill to get 20% off your order!

The DNA Company

There is no one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter recipe for optimal health. Each and every one of us is entirely unique and will require a personalized approach to creating our own version of vibrant health and happiness. While there are certainly guidelines that we can all follow, much of the time, finding what works can require quite a bit of trial and error – until now.

Now, thanks to The DNA Company, you can decode your unique set of genes to inform the ideal diet, lifestyle, and environment for your individual genetic makeup. The DNA Company’s comprehensive DNA test unlocks and reveals the most effective way to optimize everything from your diet to your workouts and from your sleep to your detoxification.

Ready to give the gift of custom-tailored solutions designed to help your loved ones optimize their life and reverse aging? Click here to order a comprehensive DNA scan in time for the holiday season.

Give the Gift of A Low-Tox Lifestyle

We are bombarded with health-disrupting toxins on a daily basis. Help your loved ones make the switch over to a less toxic lifestyle by gifting them with these low-tox lifestyle must-haves:

Branch Basics Home Cleaning Products

There’s nothing more inviting than a fresh, clean home. But many of today’s cleaning products are chock-full of toxic chemicals that can be harmful to our well-being. To remedy this conundrum,  Branch Basic’s has created the world’s safest home cleaning products.

Their line of cleaning products are made with 100% natural ingredients and proudly carry the Made Safe seal – the most comprehensive safety standard certification available, which certifies each of their products is free from the 5,000+ toxic chemicals known to harm human and environmental health.

Give the gift of powerfully potent and super safe cleaning products and get 15% off your order with code: DRJILLCARNAHAN.

Naturepedic Organic Mattress

We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping. And many conventional mattresses are chock-full of toxic chemicals that you can absorb and inhale – wreaking havoc on your health. You see, many synthetic foams and fabrics found in regular mattresses contain things like petrochemicals, adhesives, flame retardants, VOCs, and a cocktail of other questionable compounds.

But Naturepedic is on a mission to transform the sleep and health of their customers through their specialized line of certified organic mattresses. These mattresses eliminate harmful chemicals in favor of healthier, more natural alternatives. Naturepedic uses only organic, natural, and renewable materials to create the most luxurious and comfortable mattresses with unmatched quality that are designed to last.
These organic mattresses are the perfect gift for the health-conscious or environmentally-sensitive loved ones on your list.

You can check out Naturepedic’s full line of mattresses, bed frames, and bedding by heading over to their website right here.

Microbalance E3C Products

Toxic chemicals from man-made products like cleaning sprays, air fresheners, and furniture aren’t the only harmful compounds we have to worry about. Things like mold, fungi, bacteria, and other microbes can sneak their way into every crevice of your home and body where they can slowly chip away at your health.

Healing your home from mold and other microbes can be challenging to say the least. That’s why Microbalance has formulated their unique line of mold-fighting products. Their line-up of laundry additives, cleaning solutions, and air-purifying candles are specifically designed to remove spores and toxins from air and surfaces. 

These safe, all-natural products are formulated by a physician that specializes in treating patients grappling with mold-related illnesses – meaning they’ve been rigorously tested and proven to combat mold and offer relief to those suffering from mold exposure.

Click here to learn more about these incredible products and purchase some for yourself or your mold-sensitive loved ones today.

Aires Tech and Bioelectric Shield EMF Shielding Devices

EMFs, or electromagnetic fields, are a type of low-level radiation that’s emitted from technology like cell phones, Wi-Fi, and power lines. Over time, frequent exposure to these EMFs can cause an increase in free radicals, which can lead to oxidative stress that eventually impedes cellular function. To learn more about exactly how EMFs can be harmful, check out my article The Dark Side of Technology: How To Protect Yourself From EMFs.

And while it’s impossible to avoid exposure to EMFs, fortunately, there’s a way to avoid their damaging effects. By tapping into cutting-edge technology that is clinically proven to absorb and restructure harmful EMFs – transforming them into more biologically compatible forms of radiation. This restructuring reduces the conflict between the external radiation from electronic devices and the natural radiation put out by your cells. My all-time favorite EMF-blocking devices are:

Aires Tech

Aires Tech’s sleek and effective devices are the perfect gift for anyone in your life who spends a lot of time glued to their computer or cell phone or for a loved one who works from home.

Their technology is backed by a robust library of published research, peer-reviewed studies, and clinical trials that have consistently proven the power of their products.

Use code Carnahan25 for 25% off your order.

Bio-Electric Shield 

Bio-Electric Shield is another company that has developed top-of-the-line products to deflect and neutralize the impact of EMF radiation.

What makes their products unique is how they use the power of crystals to not only deflect EMFs but also the unhealthy energies from other people and places – amplifying your own energy while making you more resilient to the impacts of EMFs and negative energies.

They even have special EMF shielding pendants for dogs and cats for the pet lovers on your gift list!

Click here to check out Bioelectric Shields’ entire line of unique products.

These EMF-shielding products make a great gift for anyone – from techies to spiritual enthusiasts.

Give the Gift of Inspiration and Guidance to Spark A Life Full of Love and Resilience

Looking for a meaningful gift that keeps giving? Then I highly recommend scooping up a few copies of my upcoming book titled Unexpected – Finding Resilience Through Functional Medicine, Science, and Faith. I poured my heart and soul into this book that gives practical actionable advice, paired with a heaping dose of inspiration and empowerment, interwoven with my own personal journey thus far. 

This book is designed to serve as a practical guide and source of inspiration to embolden you to create an extraordinary life full of love, resilience, and joy that exceeds your wildest dreams. It truly is a gift designed to continue giving, with my hope being that anyone who reads it finds the courage to step into the very best version of themselves – mind, body, and soul.

I encourage you to purchase a copy for yourself and those in your life that mean the most to you. To pre-order your own copies of Unexpected, click right here.

The Perfect Present for People Who Have Everything

Dr. Jill Retail GIFT CARDS 

Sometimes buying gifts for others can be downright tricky. Maybe you just can’t seem to decide on the perfect gift. Maybe you’re shopping for someone that seems to have everything they need or they’re just plain picky. Or perhaps you simply don’t quite know them well enough to buy something personal.

Sometimes, when you’re confronted with a sticky gift-giving situation, a gift card is the best way to go! Give the gift of health and well-being – and let your recipient pick out their own present – by picking up a Dr. Jill retail gift card.

These gift cards are good for anything available through my online store, which you can browse by clicking right here.

Wishing You the Happiest – and Healthiest – of Holidays

I hope you found some gift-giving inspiration from this list. Whether big or small, gifts are designed to reflect our love. And these healthy gift ideas are sure to elicit appreciation from your loved ones – with the added bonus of being good for them too! 

It’s my wish not only during this holiday season, but all year long, to inspire and support my patients and readers in their health, well-being, and happiness. I truly believe that the greatest gift you can give yourself and others is the gift of wellness and overall health. So I hope that this article, as well as the resources available on my blog and YouTube Channel, inspire you to find ways to prioritize your well-being this season and in the upcoming year.

From my family to yours, wishing you the happiest and healthiest of holidays!

The post Give the Gift of Wellness this Season: Dr. Jill’s Personal Picks for 2022! first appeared on Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.]]>
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The Mighty Mitochondria and Its Fascinating Role in Fungal Infections https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/11/09/the-mighty-mitochondria-and-its-fascinating-role-in-fungal-infections/ https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/11/09/the-mighty-mitochondria-and-its-fascinating-role-in-fungal-infections/#respond Wed, 09 Nov 2022 21:23:51 +0000 https://www.jillcarnahan.com/?p=38682 Today we’re going to explore exactly what a fungal infection is, some common infections triggered by invading fungi, how we’re currently treating these infections, the fascinating role the mitochondria play in all of it, and most importantly – how you can best shield yourself from contracting a fungal infection. Let’s dive in.

The post The Mighty Mitochondria and Its Fascinating Role in Fungal Infections first appeared on Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.]]>
Fungus is among us. And while that’s usually not an issue, sometimes these opportunistic fungi can become problematic – invading and overthrowing our immune system and triggering a fungal infection. And to make matters worse, there’s a growing number of fungal infections that are becoming resistant to the limited number of antifungal drugs currently available for treatment.

But emerging research is finding that the secret to addressing and healing these troublesome fungal infections may lay in a tiny cellular structure known as the mitochondria.

Today we’re going to explore exactly what a fungal infection is, some common infections triggered by invading fungi, how we’re currently treating these infections, the fascinating role the mitochondria play in all of it, and most importantly – how you can best shield yourself from contracting a fungal infection. Let’s dive in.

What Is A Fungal Infection?

A fungal infection is any infection caused by a specific class of organisms known as fungi. The word “fungus” encompasses a wide variety of different organisms – with over 18,000 distinct species being identified within the kingdom of fungi. Some commonly occurring types of fungus that you’d likely recognize in your day-to-day life include things like mushrooms, mold, and yeast.1

In fact, you likely come into contact with multiple fungi on a daily basis – from fungal spores floating in the air to the yeast in your bread and from the mushrooms in your salad to the mold growing on last week’s leftovers. While much of the fungi we come into contact with are harmless or even beneficial, these complex organisms can also have a much more sinister side.

If certain strains of fungi are able to invade your body and evade your immune system they can cause a wide range of infections ranging from minor and irritating to serious and life-threatening.

What Are Some Common Fungal Infections?

Some of the more commonly seen forms of fungal infections include:2,3,4,5

  • Skin infections: Like athlete’s foot, ringworm, and jock itch caused by a group of fungi known as dermatophytes
  • Yeast infections: These infections are caused by an overgrowth of a class of fungi known as candida that can affect your mouth, digestive tract, urinary tract, genitals, or skin
  • Valley fever: A serious respiratory infection that can sometimes occur after inhaling the spores of soil-based fungi known as coccidioides
  • Histoplasmosis: A respiratory infection that can happen after inhaling the spores of a fungus known as Histoplasma that’s often found in soils containing high levels of bat or bird feces 
  • Aspergillosis: A sometimes life-threatening pulmonary infection that can spread from the lungs to other organs after inhaling spores from a type of mold that produces mycotoxins known as aspergillus
  • Cryptococcal meningoencephalitis: A serious and sometimes deadly infection of the brain and spinal cord that can be triggered by the inhalation of a yeast strain known as cryptococcus neoformans regularly found in soil, decaying wood, and even bird droppings
  • Mold-related illnesses: Chronic exposure to certain strains of toxic mold can induce a wide range of symptoms ranging from allergy-like symptoms to brain fog and can even spiral into the development of serious conditions like kidney damage and cancer

So how is it that some people can come into contact with fungi that are found frequently in the environment and be perfectly fine, while others develop an infection?

What Causes Susceptibility to Fungal Infections?

Anyone can potentially contract a fungal infection, but there are some underlying factors that can make you more susceptible to contracting one such as:6,7

  • A weakened immune system that can dampen your ability to combat invading fungi
  • An imbalanced microbiome which can allow can allow normally-present fungi to overthrow your beneficial microbes and begin growing out of control
  • Excessive or persistent exposure to high levels of potentially harmful fungi (like if you have hidden mold growing in your home)
  • An underlying infection that preoccupies and burns out your immune system – allowing opportunistic fungi to invade
  • Certain medications that hinder your immune system
  • Variations in your genetic coding that can impact how your immune system and microbiome respond to exposure to fungi – making you more vulnerable to fungal infections

With such potentially serious implications, you’re probably wondering what options there are when it comes to treating fungal infections.

Fungal Infection Treatment

Minor fungal infections found on the skin can oftentimes be treated quickly and effectively with topical antifungal creams or ointments. But treating more serious, system-wide fungal infections can be much trickier. You see, there are currently a limited number of antifungal drugs available to treat fungal infections, with the primary classes of antifungal medications being:

  • Azole drugs: A class of medications that hinders fungal cells’ ability to produce and regenerate their cellular membrane – allowing fungi to be more readily neutralized by your immune system
  • Polyene drugs: A class of antifungal drugs that bind to compounds known as sterols found on the outside of fungal cell membranes – subsequently creating pores that impair the integrity of the fungi’s outer membrane
  • Echinocandin antifungal drugs: A class of pharmaceuticals that directly inhibits the enzymes that synthesize the primary component of fungal cell walls – compromising their integrity so they can be targeted by your immune system

To further complicate the treatment of fungal infections, many strains of fungi have become resistant to these antifungal medications – rendering the drugs ineffective and incapable of exerting their intended effects. While this resistance to antifungal drugs has left researchers perplexed and frustrated, there is emerging research that might just give us insight into what we can do about it.

The answer to addressing antifungal drug-resistant fungal infections might just lay an essential fungal cell structure known as the mitochondria.

Mitochondrial Function and Fungal Infections

Mitochondria are tiny structures found within the cells of humans, animals, and fungi alike. Mitochondria are considered “the powerhouses” of the cell because they synthesize energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate or ATP via a process known as cellular respiration. But energy production certainly isn’t the only process that these mitochondria play a critical role in.

You see, mitochondrial function plays a pivotal role in fungal virulence and pathogenesis – fungi’s ability to cause disease and how severe the infection is. That’s because mitochondria serve as a sort of central ‘hub’ – coordinating multiple aspects of fungal cell physiology and function such as:8,9

  • Iron metabolism and homeostasis: The metal iron is a crucial cofactor or helper molecule in various reactions that are essential for fungal energy production, proliferation, and cell wall integrity.
  • Responding to stress: Mitochondria help orchestrate fungal cells’ response to stress induced by the host – which in the case of fungal infections would be you and your immune system’s response. Stressors might include limited oxygen and/or nutrients, elevated temperatures, pH variability (an acidic or alkaline environment), and chemical or oxidative stress.
  • Metabolic flexibility and adaptation: Metabolic flexibility and adaptation refer to the mitochondria’s ability to shift the principal types of fuel used to synthesize energy – allowing the fungi to utilize a variety of compounds as a source of fuel or food to survive and proliferate.
  • Fungal dormancy: The mitochondria allow fungi to survive in a latent state – essentially laying in wait until your immune system is overwhelmed or compromised. When the fungi sense their window of opportunity, they can then reactivate – proliferating and exerting their harmful effects

So what does this understanding of the role of the mitochondrial mean when it comes to the treatment of fungal infections moving forward?

Fungal Mitochondria: The Key to Addressing Fungal Infections?

Our evolving understanding of the crucial role that the mitochondria play in fungal virulence and pathogenesis gives us promising insight into how we may be able to address antifungal drug resistance. Researchers are hopeful that targeting mitochondrial function may be the key to creating more consistent and effective treatment options when it comes to fungal infections.

While we may have unveiled some exciting and promising discoveries, more time and research are needed to truly determine how these emerging treatment possibilities will unfold. But the good news is, even though we may not have all the answers when it comes to treating fungal infections, there are some steps you can take to help minimize your chances of contracting a fungal infection in the first place.

And the key to accomplishing that is by supporting and enhancing your immune system’s ability to defend you against these invading microbes.

How Can I Boost My Immune System Against Fungi?

While we certainly can’t control all of the factors that may contribute to developing a fungal infection – or any disease for that matter – the things we can control can have a monumental impact on our immune system’s ability to defend us.

Some simple and potent steps you can take to nourish and boost your immune system include:

If you’re really ready to dive deeper into some ways to supercharge your immune system, I recommend heading over and reading through the following articles:

You can find these articles and many many more over on my blog. And I’ve got even more helpful, science-backed resources with some of the world’s leading experts over on my YouTube Channel.

Next Steps in Addressing Fungal Infections

Our understanding and ability to treat not only fungal infections, but infections of any kind, is evolving all the time. With each new discovery we uncover, the closer we get to creating effective and lasting solutions. We may not have all the answers yet, but we do have an arsenal of knowledge and tools that can help us bolster our defenses and uplevel our health.

While we certainly can’t control all the factors that contribute to our health and susceptibility to contracting a fungal infection, our day-to-day choices have a monumental impact on our ability to combat and bounce back from any microbes or imbalances that make their way into our lives.

To stay informed and empowered so you can be sure your day-to-choices are supporting vibrant health and longevity without feeling overwhelmed, be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter by entering your name and email address in the form below. And don’t forget to head over and subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

Now it’s time to hear from you. Were you surprised to learn about the incredible role mitochondria play in fungal infections? What are some of your favorite ways to support your immune system? Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments below!

Has there ever been a time in your life when you’ve felt alone or unsure where to turn for answers?

In Unexpected: Finding Resilience through Functional Medicine, Science, and Faith, Dr. Jill Carnahan shares her story of facing life-altering illness, fighting for her health, and overcoming sickness using both science and faith so that others can learn to live their own transformative stories.

Dr. Jill’s riveting and compassionate exploration of healing through functional medicine demonstrates how to replace darkness and fear with hope and find profound healing, unconditional love, and unexpected miracles in the process.

Unexpected Book Cover

Resources:

  1. Fungi (Kingdom) – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics
  2. Fungal Infections | Fungal | CDC
  3. Types of Fungal Diseases | Fungal Diseases | CDC
  4. Fungal Infections: Types, Symptoms, and Treatments (healthline.com)
  5. fe85786a-df67-48de-a60982800c1a0829.pdf (microbiologysociety.org)
  6. Genetic Susceptibility to Fungal Infections and Links to Human Ancestry – PMC (nih.gov)
  7. Fungal Infections: Protect Your Health | Fungal Diseases | CDC
  8. Respiring to infect: Emerging links between mitochondria, the electron transport chain, and fungal pathogenesis | PLOS Pathogens
  9. System-level impact of mitochondria on fungal virulence: to metabolism and beyond – PMC (nih.gov)
  10. Are mitochondria the Achilles’ heel of the Kingdom Fungi? – ScienceDirect

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Immunotoxicity: Are Environmental Toxins Throwing Your Immune System Off-Kilter? https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/11/03/immunotoxicity-are-environmental-toxins-throwing-your-immune-system-off-kilter/ https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/11/03/immunotoxicity-are-environmental-toxins-throwing-your-immune-system-off-kilter/#respond Thu, 03 Nov 2022 19:47:41 +0000 https://www.jillcarnahan.com/?p=38676 Today we’re going to explore exactly what happens when your immune system becomes impacted by toxins, how these pernicious substances exert their effects, where you might be exposed to these compounds, and most importantly – what you can do to protect yourself. Let’s dive in.

The post Immunotoxicity: Are Environmental Toxins Throwing Your Immune System Off-Kilter? first appeared on Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.]]>
What comes to mind when you hear the word “toxin”? This term often invokes thoughts of dangerous poisons capable of causing catastrophic harm. And while there certainly are toxins that fit that description, most toxins we encounter are much more insidious and much more difficult to detect.

In fact, you’ve likely come into contact with dozens of different toxins this very day. What makes these subtle and stealthy toxins so concerning is that they slowly cause damage over time – often exerting their toxic effects completely under our radar. One way in which these hidden toxins can be particularly harmful is by slowly damaging your most important line of defense – your immune system.

Today we’re going to explore exactly what happens when your immune system becomes impacted by toxins, how these pernicious substances exert their effects, where you might be exposed to these compounds, and most importantly – what you can do to protect yourself. Let’s dive in.

What Is Immunotoxicity?

Your immune system is an intricate web of specialized organs, cells, and molecular compounds that all work together to protect you. This specialized system works in unison to keep your cells safe, defend you against potentially harmful invaders, and orchestrate healing when your tissues encounter any damage.

This intricate system must maintain a delicate balance – staying vigilant enough to launch an appropriate defense without going overboard and inadvertently causing more harm than good. In order to maintain this fragile equilibrium, your immune system relies on a finely tuned communication system – with your organs and immune cells secreting signaling molecules that travel throughout your body and deliver messages. 

But sometimes this delicate balance and fine-tuned communication system can get thrown out of whack – triggering what’s known as immunotoxicity.1

What Causes Immunotoxicity?

So what exactly causes the immune dysfunction seen in immunotoxicity? In simplest terms, immunotoxicity takes place when a toxic substance alters your immune system – either suppressing it or triggering an exaggerated response. You see, there are certain compounds that can sneak their way into your body and alter the way your immune system is able to communicate and function. 

Just a handful of ways these toxic substances can throw your immune system off-kilter and lead to immunotoxicity include:2,3

  • Altering the expression of immune-related genes
  • Binding to immune and endocrine receptors – dysregulating communication pathways
  • Depleting reserves of antioxidants (compounds essential to neutralizing free radicals and pumping the brakes on immune-induced inflammation)
  • Degrading immune barriers like your mucosal membranes that serve as the first line of defense against pathogens and toxins
  • Disrupting the growth, communication, and response of key immune cells
  • Binding to nucleic acids and proteins that foster communication – further hindering communication pathways
  • Altering how immune cells present and respond to antigens – specific substances that elicit an immune response and trigger your immune cells to react
  • Damaging the ecosystem of microbes that reside in your gut and collectively make up your microbiome which plays a pivotal role in immune function

So where exactly are these immune-disrupting substances coming from and how are we coming into contact with them? The scary reality is that just about all of us are coming into contact with immune-compromising substances every single day thanks to our growing exposure to compounds that have been dubbed environmental toxins.

  

What Exactly Are Environmental Toxins?

Environmental toxins encompass a wide variety of compounds – both natural and man-made. The term “environmental toxin” is used to label any substance that can harm or disrupt your health in some way. Let’s explore a handful of environmental toxins that can ultimately trigger immunotoxicity:3,4

  • Aromatic hydrocarbons: Chemical compounds like dioxins, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs) are widely used in the commercial production of many flame retardants, heat conductors, industrial chemicals, and pesticides
  • Benzene: This industrial chemical is often used in detergents, dyes, glues, paint, and gasoline
  • Cigarette smoke: Cigarette smoke – even secondhand smoke – contains dozens of toxic chemicals
  • Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: Chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA), and phthalates found in plastics can mimic, block, or disrupt your hormones and alter your body’s ability to communicate properly 
  • Heavy metals: An accumulation of metals like beryllium, iron, lead, nickel, and mercury are just a handful of naturally-derived environmental toxins that can hinder your immune system
  • Pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers: These chemicals are sprayed on many agricultural crops and can be spread far and wide
  • Pharmaceuticals: Medications like cyclosporin, cyclophosphamide, and glucocorticoids have been found to have particularly disruptive effects on the immune system

It’s clear that there is an abundance of toxic substances that can potentially wreak havoc on your immune system. But you’re probably wondering how it is that you may be coming into contact with enough of these environmental toxins to actually trigger immunotoxicity.

Where Do Environmental Toxins Come From?

The unfortunate truth is, our world is becoming more and more toxic with each passing day. You see, thanks to the widespread use of chemicals that are loosely regulated despite their proven effects on human, animal, and environmental health, these environmental toxins continue to flood into our world at alarming rates. Some of the most common ways we are all exposed on a day-to-day basis include:

  • Outdoor air pollution: Outdoor air pollution can come from both natural sources like wildfires or dust storms as well as from man-made sources like emissions from vehicles or the off-gassing of noxious chemicals from industrial plants.
  • Indoor air pollution: Not only can polluted outdoor air get trapped indoors when we seal up our windows and doors, but pollution can be compounded thanks to indoor pollutants that come from things like cleaning products, air fresheners, furniture, and even the paint on your walls.
  • Contaminated water: Water is great at dissolving things and circulates throughout our world – meaning it can be a magnet for a cocktail of pollutants ranging from heavy metals to pharmaceuticals and everything in between. 
  • Toxin-laden food: Not only is our food often doused in toxic chemicals like pesticides and herbicides but many modern processing and packaging methods can further introduce toxic compounds.
  • Beauty and personal care products: If you scroll the ingredient list of many conventional beauty and personal care products we slather on our bodies on a daily basis, you’ll likely find a laundry list of toxic chemicals – which can be absorbed through your skin and delivered directly into your bloodstream.
  • Plastics: Plastic is everywhere – from food containers and water bottles to grocery bags and even the clothes we wear. And the toxic chemicals used in these plastics can leach into your food and even break down into microplastics which can weasel their way into your tissues and leach out their harmful contents. 

While it can be alarming to hear that immune-disrupting environmental toxins are coming at us from seemingly every angle, the good news is, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself and support your immune system.

How to Avoid Environmental Toxins and Support Your Immune System

While we certainly can’t avoid environmental toxins altogether, there are some simple steps you can take to minimize your exposure to these harmful compounds. And if you’re dealing with immunotoxicity or are just concerned that perhaps your immune system isn’t functioning at full capacity, there are some additional steps you can take to help promote a healthy and balanced immune response. Here’s what I recommend:

  • Prioritize organic food: The food you ingest can have a major impact on your overall toxic burden – or the cumulative toxins floating around in your body at any given time. Opting for organic foods can drastically reduce your circulating levels of environmental toxins. 
  • Filter your water and your indoor air: Both the air you breathe and the water you drink can be chock full of toxins. Investing in an air filtration system to clean up your air and a water purification system to clean up your water is foundational when it comes to minimizing your exposures. Regarding air filters, I recommend checking out Air Doctor and Austin Air. And when it comes to water filters, I love and trust Berkey and Clearly Filtered.
  • Switch over to less toxic personal care and cleaning products: Most of us use numerous personal care and cleaning products every day. As you run out of products, swap them out for cleaner, less toxic products. You can check out my all-natural lineup of skincare products by clicking right here and explore Branch Basics’ non-toxic cleaning and homecare products by clicking right here.
  • Assess your home and workplace for mold: Exposure to toxic mold can put a major damper on your immune system. To learn more about the impact of mold exposure and what you can do about it, head over and check out my mold archives.
  • Show your gut some love: Your gut and immune system are intricately intertwined – when one is off balance, you can bet your bottom dollar the other is off balance too. One of the simplest ways to show your gut some love is by incorporating gut-supporting supplements like Spore Probiotic plus IgG to reinoculate your gut with friendly bacteria and Gut Immune to help bolster the integrity of your gut lining. Click here to read more about how healing your gut can support your immune system.
  • Enhance natural detoxification pathways: Environmental toxins can accumulate in your body. So supporting and boosting your body’s natural ability to detox is crucial to keep your toxic burden at a healthy level. Some of my favorite detox-boosting supplements include N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), Glutathione Essentials, Liver Essentials, and ZeoBind Plus. Learn more about additional supplements and detox methods that actually work right here
  • Get plenty of high-quality sleep: Sleep deprivation can quickly deplete your immune system and contribute to any imbalances. Ensure you’re logging plenty of high-quality z’s by following these tried-and-true sleep hacks. If you still struggle to drift off to sleep, it can also be helpful to incorporate some all-natural sleep supplements like Dream Powder or Sleep Essentials.

You can get all of the supplements listed above through my online store – and you can get 10% off your first order by clicking right here! To dive deeper into even more ways you can give your immune system a boost, head over and check out my article Powerful Ways to Support Your Immune System.

Ready to Tackle Environmental Toxins and Supercharge Your Immune System?

Immunotoxicity is a growing and often overlooked imbalance that will only become more prevalent as our world becomes more polluted with environmental toxins. But the good news is, while we may not be able to do a whole lot about some of the larger-scale pollution on our own, we’re not powerless when it comes to environmental toxins and our immune system. 

Tackling environmental toxins and the health of your immune system is a key piece of the puzzle when it comes to creating the vibrant health and longevity we all deserve. The steps and additional resources outlined in this article are an excellent place to start if you’re looking to tackle the environmental toxins in your life and supercharge your immune system.

And when you’re ready to continue building and exploring new ways to support your health and well-being, be sure to head over and browse through my blog and my YouTube channel. They’re packed with resources to keep you in the driver’s seat when it comes to your health. And don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter by entering your name and email address in the form below.

Now it’s time to hear from you. Were you surprised to learn that everyday environmental toxins can have such an impact on your immune system? What are your favorite strategies for supporting your immune system? Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments below!

Resources:

  1. Immunotoxicity – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics
  2. Exposure to Environmental Toxins and Autoimmune Conditions – PMC (nih.gov)
  3. Mechanisms of Immunotoxicity: Stressors and Evaluators – PMC (nih.gov)
  4. The Capacity of Toxic Agents to Compromise the Immune System (Biologic Markers of Immunosuppression) – Biologic Markers in Immunotoxicology – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)

Has there ever been a time in your life when you’ve felt alone or unsure where to turn for answers?

In Unexpected: Finding Resilience through Functional Medicine, Science, and Faith, Dr. Jill Carnahan shares her story of facing life-altering illness, fighting for her health, and overcoming sickness using both science and faith so that others can learn to live their own transformative stories.

Dr. Jill’s riveting and compassionate exploration of healing through functional medicine demonstrates how to replace darkness and fear with hope and find profound healing, unconditional love, and unexpected miracles in the process.

Unexpected Book Cover
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#125: Dr. Jill interviews Dr. Mark Tager on Building Skin Beauty From Within https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/10/29/125-dr-jill-interviews-dr-mark-tager-on-building-skin-beauty-from-within/ https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/10/29/125-dr-jill-interviews-dr-mark-tager-on-building-skin-beauty-from-within/#respond Sun, 30 Oct 2022 05:48:48 +0000 https://www.jillcarnahan.com/?p=38871 In episode #125, Dr. Jill interviews Dr. Mark Tager on the topic of Building Skin Beauty From Within. Dr. Tager shares his knowledge on the benefits of eating natural foods for skin beauty and offers some great tips on how to improve your complexion from the inside out!

The post #125: Dr. Jill interviews Dr. Mark Tager on Building Skin Beauty From Within first appeared on Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.]]>
In episode #125, Dr. Jill interviews Dr. Mark Tager on the topic of Building Skin Beauty From Within. Dr. Tager shares his knowledge on the benefits of eating natural foods for skin beauty and offers some great tips on how to improve your complexion from the inside out!

Key Points

  • Top Four areas that you need to know in order to have healthy, glowing skin at all ages
  • What 3 key foods should you avoid in order to have the best looking skin
  • How we can use lasers and other skin procedures to optimize our skin’s appearance as we age
  • What are the top nutrients for healthy skin

The Guest

Mark J. Tager, MD

Website: https://www.drtager.com/ and https://www.changewell.com/

Book: Feed Your Skin Right https://www.amazon.com/Feed-Your-Skin-Right-Personalized/dp/0971625042

Dr. Tager is one of the country’s leading health educators. He is most passionate about building skin health and beauty through combinations of personalized nutrition, intelligent supplementation, and aesthetic treatment. He has served as the founding Vice President of Marketing for Reliant Technologies, where he launched the Fraxel® laser and introduced the science of fractional photothermolysis to physicians around the world. He has also served as Chief Marketing Officer for Syneron. Most recently, Dr. Tager created the 40-hour CME course on Personalized Nutrition for Practitioners on behalf of The American Nutrition Association. He serves as Director of Practice Management for Miami Cosmetic Surgery and is on the faculty of Duke Integrative Medicine. His most recent book is Feed Your Skin Right: Your Personalized Nutrition Plan for Radiant Beauty. He did his medical training at Duke Medical School and Family Practice at the University of Oregon. He lives in San Diego where he is Chief Enhancement Officer for ChangeWell Inc.

Dr. Jill

Dr. Jill Carnahan is Your Functional Medicine Expert® dually board certified in Family Medicine for ten years and in Integrative Holistic Medicine since 2015. She is the Medical Director of Flatiron Functional Medicine, a widely sought-after practice with a broad range of clinical services including functional medical protocols, nutritional consultations, chiropractic therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy. As a survivor of breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, and toxic mold illness she brings a unique perspective to treating patients in the midst of complex and chronic illness. Her clinic specializes in searching for the underlying triggers that contribute to illness through cutting-edge lab testing and tailoring the intervention to specific needs. 

Featured in Shape Magazine, Parade, Forbes, MindBodyGreen, First for Women, Townsend Newsletter, and The Huffington Post as well as seen on NBC News and Health segments with Joan Lunden, Dr. Jill is a media must-have. Her YouTube channel and podcast features live interviews with the healthcare world’s most respected names. 

A popular inspirational speaker and prolific writer, she shares her knowledge of hope, health, and healing live on stage and through newsletters, articles, books, and social media posts! People relate to Dr. Jill’s science-backed opinions delivered with authenticity, love and humor. She is known for inspiring her audience to thrive even in the midst of difficulties.

The Podcast

The Video

The Transcript

  #125: Dr. Jill interviews Dr. Mark Tager on Building Skin Beauty From Within

Dr. Jill 0:13

Hello everyone, and good afternoon! Welcome to another Dr. Jill Live episode. I’m here with my friend Mark Tager, and I’m going to introduce him in just a moment. If you want to catch other episodes, we’ve got over one hundred on my YouTube channel, just under my name. You could find us on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you’ve been enjoying these podcasts and the amazing guests that I have, you can certainly go there and give a rating and review and help us reach more people. 

Dr. Jill 0:38

Doctor Tager, it is so exciting to be here with you today. Thank you for taking the time to join me and share [information] about your new book. 

Dr. Tager 0:45

It is my pleasure; it is great to be with you, Jill. 

Dr. Jill 0:47

[It’s great to be with] you too! Years ago, I remember us doing work on speaking and training, and you’ve trained lots and lots of physicians. So we have a long relationship and have known each other in all of these different worlds, and I’m super excited about your latest project. Before I do, I have to formally introduce you, so people know who you are and what you’ve been doing. 

Dr. Jill 1:05

Dr. Tager is one of the country’s leading health educators. He’s most passionate about building skin health and beauty through combinations of personalized nutrition, intelligent supplementation, and aesthetic treatment. He has served as the founding Vice President of Marketing for Reliant Technologies, where he launched the Fraxel® laser and introduced the science of fractional photothermolysis to physicians around the world. He has also served as Chief Marketing Officer for Syneron. 

Dr. Jill 1:37

Most recently, he created the 40-hour CME course “Personalized Nutrition for Practitioners” on behalf of the American Nutrition Association. He serves as Director of Practice Management for Miami Cosmetic Surgery and is on the faculty of Duke Integrative Medicine. His most recent book [is] Feed Your Skin Right: Your Personalized Nutrition Plan for Radiant Beauty. He did his medical training at Duke Medical School and Family Practice at the University of Oregon. He now lives in San Diego.

Dr. Jill 2:03

I’m just absolutely delighted to have you, Dr. Tager. So many fun accolades. I always love stories, [and I know] you do too. Tell me, how did you get into skin [care]? Way back, years ago, you were teaching physicians how to speak and how to do their businesses, and this is more of a recent journey. So, tell me more about how you got here. 

Dr. Tager 2:22

Well, I still train physicians and healthcare professionals to be irresistibly powerful communicators. But my passion for nutrition goes back to medical school, where I started the first nutrition training class for medical students in the United States. Even today, physicians only get about 17 hours of nutrition training in their entire experience. So I did some research with a biochemist, and that got me really looking at this whole field of personalized nutrition. From there, I moved into integrative medicine, where I set up an institute of preventive medicine in Portland, Oregon. I was the Director of Health Promotion for Kaiser Permanente in the Northwest.

Dr. Tager 3:10

Twenty years ago, I got involved with aesthetics, and I just thought, “Wow, this is interesting!” I was invited to become the Chief Marketing Officer for a laser company called The Fraxel® Laser where you put these little, tiny, 150-micron holes in the skin to rejuvenate and resurface it. So now, half of my life is in integrative functional [medicine], and half of my life is in aesthetics. And this book, Feed Your Skin Right, is really my attempt to bring it together. 

Dr. Jill 3:44

Gosh, I love that, Dr. Tager. I don’t like the term ‘anti-aging,’ because it [sounds] like we’re fighting against something that’s inevitable, right?—we all age. I loved it when I first moved to Boulder. I felt like I found my tribe because, compared to maybe LA—no harm against LA or Miami—some of these cities are known for lots of cosmetic procedures and plastic surgery. I have no problem with that. So if you’re listening, you have no problem at all. But for me personally, I’m like, “How do I age well?” I want to have wonderful skin, and like you talked about, from the inside out, it starts there. But I have no problem with microneedling or some of these kinds of laser [treatments] as long as we’re optimizing the actual skin. So tell us a little about—you obviously have had lots of experience with nutrition; we’ll talk about that. I want to talk a little bit about lasers. Where do you start with the skin? How do you have this glowing, not anti-aging, but beautifully well-aged skin?

Dr. Tager 4:34

I get asked the same four questions that I’ve been asked for years and years: “What should I eat?” “What supplements should I take?” “What topical should I apply?” And “What procedure should I have?” Everyone wants a really quick answer: “What do I do? What do I do?” And there is an easy answer: It depends. There’s no other person on the planet with skin that’s the same as yours, so we all need a personalized approach. Most of it—60%–70%—is what you eat. Now, you and I both know that, as clinicians, if we see a patient, we cannot out-supplement their crappy diet; it’s just not going to happen. So, most of the beauty from within really starts with diet. And then on top of that, you want intelligent supplementation. 

Dr. Tager 5:26

Now, how do you determine intelligence supplementation? You look at your nutrigenomics, your food sensitivities, and your microbiome, and you start to craft a program that’s just right for you. So we’ve spent all this time and energy and maybe $150 billion smearing stuff on our face; most of it just sits on the top of the skin. Look, there are a lot of things that are important, [such as] molecules that get into the skin. But in reality, the best way to get important nutrients into the skin is through the gut into the bloodstream and by tickling the vagus nerve to innovate the skin as well.

Dr. Jill 6:11

Such a great answer. Like you, I’ve been through my [own] journey. I had cancer and then Crohn’s and then mold illness. My skin has reflected it at certain times; now you can see it’s pretty clear. But I can tell you all the different things—gut- and toxin-wise—that had massively affected it. If you would have seen me, maybe six or seven years ago, at the worst of the mold, I was full of cystic acne. I knew it was a gut problem because there were fungal metabolites and bacterial metabolites and then the toxin problem. So I love that you talk about that because no amount of product would fix that. When I was at my worst, it really came on. I always say—especially when it’s an environmental toxin or gut issue—it took 6–18 months to heal. For most people, it takes a while.

Dr. Tager 6:52

Absolutely! Some of that you can see starting really early. Take acne, for example, and be in your perimenopausal or teenage [years]. The three foods that we know contribute are sugar, dairy, and unhealthy fats. Throw into that a little zinc deficiency and a loss in some hormones, stir it up and those pimples are popping. We see that, so I think even just starting young and getting people to work on their diet [is beneficial]. 

Dr. Tager 7:24

Particularly sugar, I think, is really such an evil because of glycation. When we have sugar attached to hemoglobin, we have A1C; we see that as a marker for diabetes. We also have sugar that attaches to collagen. When it does that, it makes the collagen more brittle, and that’s translated into fine lines, wrinkles, these little guys here [pointing to the area above the upper lip] that a lot of people get, and crepiness in the cheeks.

Dr. Tager 7:58

It’s really funny. I will sit with the same patient, usually a female but not always, and say, “Look at this A1C of 8.0. If you don’t clean up your diet, you’re going to get a heart attack, a stroke, or diabetes.” But then to that same person, you’ll say, “If you don’t cut down the sugar, you’re going to make your wrinkles worse!”

Dr. Jill 8:22

And they listen, right?

Dr. Mark Tager 8:24

And they listen. I think, for our practitioners listening to today, we all strive to get our patients into this room called ‘wellness,’ ‘well-being,’ and ‘optimal health.’ Well, one of the biggest doors—in fact, you could drive a truck through it—is aesthetics, vanity, and how we look. So, I really think it’s time for these disciplines to come together. It’s time for aesthetic professionals to do a process of inquiry. It’s time for the integrative folks to do a process of inquiry to start helping patients and guiding them to beautiful skin from within. 

Dr. Jill 9:06

I love it! Like you said, I’m always with a patient, and I may look at their numbers for cholesterol, their numbers for diabetes, or their numbers for inflammation, and that’s my concern because I know where that leads, but I always have to check with them, “What matters to you?” And it might be walking one more mile to be able to walk with her grandchildren, or it might be something very practical. And when it comes to our ‘billboard’ to the world… 

Dr. Jill 9:28

I’ll just tell you a really quick story, Mark. I remember in the worst of the mold, I had literally red bleeding circles around my eyes because of so much inflammation. I remember sitting in a car one day, and I couldn’t even go into the meeting I was going to go into because I was crying and thinking: “I’m supposed to be a healer,” and my billboard, “my walking face to the world, looks horrendous. No one would believe that I can heal because I can’t heal myself right now.” Of course, it was just time, inflammation, and mold. But I love that you say that because every one of us is a walking billboard for our internal health systems. Even if we think cosmetics don’t matter, they do, because that vibrancy, the shine, and the way we show up in the world, a huge portion [of that] is [reflected by] our skin. This does matter. So I just want to validate [that] because it may seem superficial; I don’t think it is.

Dr. Tager 10:16

It is not superficial at all. It reflects on our self-esteem; it is the mirror of how healthy we are inside as well. When I talk about procedures, of course, I live in the west—on the left coast, the west coast—and there is a lot of really bad plastic surgery, and a lot of people undergo a lot of procedures. What I talk about in my book, Feed Your Skin Right, are those procedures and those things that are bio-stimulatory. 

Dr. Tager 10:48

If you do hyaluronic acids, or if you do neurotoxins—for the most part, the facials that we usually do during the microdermabrasion are all external—they’re all [for] the epidermis. But when we start stimulating the dermis to produce more collagen and elastin and something called GAGs—glycosaminoglycans, big word—[which] is a good sugar and a good protein that gets together and attracts and holds water, that’s when they inject hyaluronic acid. That’s, in fact, what they’re doing. But you can do that naturally, and the way you do that is to provide your body with those nutrients. So, what do you need for great-looking skin?

Dr. Jill 11:34

So, you said no sugar, no bad fats, no dairy, and I would say gluten. Could that be a trigger for some people?

Dr. Tager 11:42

Gluten is certainly a trigger. It’s a trigger for the 1% with celiac [disease] and the 6% with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Dr. Jill 11:53

So that’s the ‘no’ list. Let’s talk about what to add.

Dr. Tager 11:56

Yes. The great thing about the pandemic was that I went from being a New York City boy traveling 150,000–200,000 miles a year for the 37 years I’ve been married to staying home for two years and building a garden. I am out in my garden. I go out in the morning, I leave my phone in the house, and I talk to plants. But then, I look at all these different colors, and I think there are 5,000 vital nutrients in these plants whose job it is to protect the plants from UV damage. And then these plants are going to give me the fiber that the good bugs in my gut need to chomp on and create, not just butyrate, which heals the lining of the gut, which is important for the enterocytes, but also the acetate and the propionate that go into the circulation and are so important for the healthy skin barrier. 

Dr. Tager 12:58

You know, we’ve got leaky gut, and I know you’ve talked about this; you’re one of the world’s experts. But we also have leaky skin, and these are both parts of the innate immune system, and we’ve got to have nice, tight junctions in the skin as well.

Dr. Jill 13:13

Oh, wow! So plants, obviously, this is core, I totally agree; a variety [of] multi-colored leafy greens. We talked about bad fats. What would you say are good and bad [fats]?

Dr. Tager 13:24

The real issue was that before World War II, the ratio of the essential fatty acids—there are three kinds—[specifically], omega-6 to omega-3, was about 3-to-1. Well, after World War II, with all the refined corn, safflower, and sunflower oils, and all the processed foods, that ratio—and you’ve seen it in patients—jumps up [from] 18-20 to 1. We talk a lot about an anti-inflammatory diet. Now, what happens when you get that imbalance from all those omega-6s? They get shunted down a pathway that creates inflammatory molecules—prostaglandins. So what happens is that you really want to get those guys down and the omega-3s up. You want to lean on sardines, salmon, and flaxseed, and then the monounsaturated oils [like] olive and avocado. I think that’s just a great, great, great way to help protect the skin barrier because all of those are protective of the skin barrier and the myelin sheath of the nerves as well.

Dr. Tager 14:38

My other pet peeve, I’m going to give you my rant. One of my rants is that up to 92% of Americans do not get the estimated average [daily] requirement for choline. Choline is an essential fat; it is critical for the myelin sheath and the coatings of the nerves. For about [nearly] two, three decades now, we go and get egg white omelets. Now, some people obviously have some issues with the protein in eggs—we’ll put that aside—but for most of us, the calories in the yolk come from fats, yes, but from choline and from the B vitamins. All the stuff we need for skin, hair, nails, and healthy nerves, we’ve been throwing out. For your listeners, please skip the egg-white omelets.

Dr. Jill 15:33

I love this! I just want to repeat a couple of important things. It’s funny; just a few days ago, I was thinking about fats and: “How do we talk to patients about them?” I think the two biggest culprits that probably have the worst fats in them would be fried foods of any sort, especially commercially [like when] eating out, and then commercial dressings. I’m not going to name names. Even at your organic stores and markets, I looked at the shelf, and I found one organic olive oil-based dressing—one! Even all these good organic brands use safflower, sunflower, or canola—which is horrendous. 

Dr. Jill 16:07

I want to say that out loud because if you’re not either making a dressing or using something simple with an olive oil or avocado base, those commercial dressings, if you have a salad every single day, add up. I think like a car with the oil change, you get the wrong oil [and it can cause damage]. And these are literally the cell membranes—the phospholipids that communicate. So, if you have the wrong trans, saturated, or even the wrong types of seed oils, you are going to affect your brain, your nervous system, and your skin. So I love saying those two things because it gets practical to the listener. Fried foods and your commercial dressings—those are the big culprits, right?

Dr. Tager 16:39

Absolutely. Also, when you look at all of those commercially produced foods, look at that line item that says “added sugars.” The average American takes in 100 grams of added sugar a day, but it really should make up about 10% of the daily intake; that would be 200 calories or about 40 grams. So you want to keep that added sugar consumption at 40 grams and under. I think that’s important; the [right] fats are important. There are some ceramides also; in dermatology, we use ceramides after invasive procedures for barrier protection. But there are also ceramides that come from rice and peach ingredients that are very nice as well. I think those can be important, also.

Dr. Jill 17:33

I love that! Again, [I’ll mention] another practical thing for the listener because they’re just coming to mind, tips that I’ve learned. I eat a really clean diet: Gluten-free, dairy free, sugar-free, and all that stuff. But I think the more important thing is that if I go to a restaurant, the sauces, marinades, and dressings—those are the things that have added sugar and the wrong fats. Even if you’re eating out and you eliminate sauces, marinades, and dressings, those are the things that are like the topping on the cake, and those usually have the culprits. You can actually ask the chef to make your fish or your salmon without the sauces, marinades, dressings, and [other] things. And when you get to the salad, if you always ask for olive oil and vinegar, you’re pretty safe. And it’s simple, but it’s not simple, because otherwise there are lots of dangerous things if you eat out a lot.

Dr. Tager 18:14

My go-to is olive oil, a little balsamic [vinegar], a little dijon mustard, and a tiny bit of honey, with a little salt and pepper, and that’s the go-to salad dressing in the Tager house. Sometimes I will substitute lemon for balsamic [vinegar]. But I can’t remember buying a commercial salad dressing, at least for the last 20 years. It’s expensive, it is laden with all the wrong stuff, and I think you could make it better yourself.

Dr. Jill 18:50

Okay, I love this! This can be a recipe. We’re going to post it underneath, like “Dr. Mark Tager Simple Recipes.” “Skin Salad Dressing,” right? This is awesome! So we talked about nutrients and about what to eat and not eat. Then, you talked about what to put on your face, and let’s talk a little bit about that—the things there.

Dr. Tager 19:09

Yes, I advocate a four-part process. Certainly, put sunblock. You want to go with a mineral-based block. You want to keep away from these benzones—Lord knows we don’t need more chemicals on our skin. If you look at the average woman, she probably puts on 15 products on her skin and scalp every day, and we just don’t need more bad stuff. You know, [you want to get] a zinc and titanium mineral block. And you want to find one that you are going to use that’s not chalky. I vary; I get three or four that I like that are pretty light. So that’s that.

Dr. Tager 19:52

And then, for many people, retinol is a really good thing because normally our skin turns over every 35–36 days, up to 40 days. As you age, it turns over slower. The retinoids increase the speed at which your skin turns over. Now, it’s tricky because you’ve got to find the right one for you. It can be very irritating and very drying. You put a little bit on at night; maybe you do it intermittently. Hit and relax, hit and relax—mix it up with exfoliation. But that’s a trial-and-error process. Now there are some people with really sensitive skin who just can’t do retinoids—that’s just the way it is.

Dr. Tager 20:34

The next thing you’re going to want to do is look at the bioactive molecules. There, you’ve got a choice. This is a trial-and-error process because you don’t know what’s going to work best for you.  So you’ve got a hand of cards: We’ve got peptides, growth factors, exosomes, vitamin C, vitamin A, the B vitamins, herbal products, and herbal ingredients. And it’s really just a matter of finding out what works for you. So I think that those are the components. 

Dr. Mark Tager 21:12

You need some barrier protection, obviously. You need a good moisturizer. I don’t think that people need something for “under my eyes” and “my left ear lobe vs. my right ear lobe.” Most of the product that’s a moisturizer is really there to keep the water in at night.  You need thicker stuff at night than you do in the daytime. In the daytime, obviously, you can have your SPF; at night, you’re going to go with your retinol.

Dr. Jill 21:40 

I love it! What a beautiful overview. And like you said, it is trial and error. I’m just going to tell you a little funny trick that I learned. I took capsules of NAD, and I would take a little of the powder and put it in my hyaluronic acid, and it was one of the best results on my personal skin that I’ve ever had. So I love the idea of NAD. In fact, we developed a little bit of a NAD serum and cream.  But the idea is that you could literally take powder from NAD and put it in your—

Dr. Mark Tager 22:06

Yes. I didn’t mention NAD in my litany of all the bioactives, and NAD is really important. There are some good products out there, or, as you mentioned, you can open a little bit—

Dr. Jill 22:20

I love to do science experiments on myself. So I was like, “Wow, this stuff is really good!” Let’s talk about lasers and procedures, because I love playing with lasers, and I’ve done some of those myself—nothing invasive, nothing with any knives. But I do enjoy microneedling and some of those [other] things. Tell us, from an expert like you, I’d love to know for the women out there who maybe want to delve into that a little bit, what would be the few things that you’d most likely recommend? 

Dr. Mark Tager 22:48

We are intentionally wounding the skin. We’re creating inflammation, which stimulates healing. Now, I am going to go back to another pet peeve, and then I’ll come back to this statement. A lot of people take collagen peptides, and they think, “This collagen is going to go right here and is going to find this area that needs support.” That’s not going to happen. One of the purposes of wounding the skin, particularly when we do it with heat, with thermal wounding, [is to] get the collagen in the skin to shorten and unravel. Essentially, it becomes dead, and it becomes a scaffold on which new collagen is made. 

Dr. Mark Tager 23:34

Now that new collagen is made with the amino acids that come into the bloodstream plus vitamin C and iron. We need those, so without vitamin C, which we don’t get enough of, and without iron, which many women don’t get enough of, we’re not going to make collagen. But that wounding gives the body the instructions [as if it were to] say: “Hey gang. Come on over here and let’s make it better than ever.” We call that process “collagen remodeling.” It actually takes, in many procedures, 6, 8, 10, or 12 weeks before we actually see the end result. 

Dr. Mark Tager 24:13

Now we have created with the fractional laser the very first fractional remodeling. So, in other words, before them, we used to take off whole sheets of skin. If you went too deep, you could get a white porcelain face—there was a long healing time. So we create these little, tiny wounds that are the width of a hair follicle, and we actually hit about 20% of the skin with a treatment. But the heat down in the dermis actually heated the entire dermis and created something called ‘heat-shock proteins,’ which participated in the response. So now we can wound the skin with heat, cold, or radio frequency [which] is also with heat. We can do it with ultrasound or mechanically with microneedling. 

Dr. Mark Tager 25:03

We started off with microneedling; now they’ve added radio frequency to it to get a thermal response. I think that these are, for the most part, safe procedures in the hands of a competent person. And it’s good to stimulate. It’s also good to take some of the brown spots off and these potentially cancerous or precancerous lesions to get skin resurfacing. So that’s a good thing. So I’m an advocate for that, and I think that there are some other devices that are interesting to me. Some of these LED low-level light therapies are interesting for getting mitochondrial stimulation.

Dr. Jill 25:54

Are you talking about red light types of therapies?

Dr. Mark Tager 25:56

Yes. There’s good science there. It takes a while; you’ve got to commit to it. If you took someone for a procedure and they were really red and inflamed, you could stick them under red light, and 30 minutes later, it looks like almost nothing had happened to them. So it does bring down inflammation. I think some of these low-level light treatments are good as well.

Dr. Jill 26:27

Also, the low-level [light]—I’ve seen so many devices for sale at home; the other things you need to have a professional. But it feels to me like some of the red light therapies, people could safely do at home. Would you say that’s true?

Dr. Mark Tager 26:35

Yes, sure. But there is an issue with this as well because there are so many devices on the marketplace—oh, my goodness! Companies flood the market; you don’t know what you’ve got. There are a few good, reputable companies whose products I like, but there’s a lot of junk out there too. And it does take a little time. There are others that cover the whole face. Having a great esthetician is really—

Dr. Jill 27:13 

I agree. The first thing you said that I loved was that you really have to personalize. I have products too for patients’ skincare, but it’s so individualized because everybody’s skin is different, and you have to see what works for you and what kind of outcome you want, [as well as] what you’re willing to do or pay for because these things all cost money too. 

Mark Tager 27:35

We haven’t talked about the one thing that you and I know a lot about, and you know more [about it] than I do, and that is supplements. We talked about food, we jumped to topicals, and then we went to lasers, but there’s this whole big chunk in the middle that we haven’t talked about. You know more about this field than I do, but we can have a very fun discussion on this. I mentioned that you can’t out-supplement a crappy diet. Supplementation really needs to be intelligent. You need to understand why you’re taking a supplement. 

Mark Tager 28:17

For me, the professional-brand supplements or the ones that are created with your line, for example, where you really paid attention to sustainability, purity, traceability, and quality, and there are no contaminants in there, all of that is where there’s enormous confusion in the marketplace. What do I take? Do I need supplements, [or] don’t I need supplements? Should I take a specific supplement for skin health and beauty? Sixty to eighty percent of people say they’re taking a multivitamin, but should they take something for skin health and beauty? And then how did they determine who needs a little bit more zinc, more vitamin D, or more vitamin E? Or who has the tendency to break down collagen faster?

Dr. Jill 29:08

I want to mention, really quickly, multi[vitamins]. You have this thing going that’s so important; I don’t want to interrupt you. But with multi[vitamins], I have my pet peeve; I am not a fan of multivitamins. There are good-quality ones out there, don’t get me wrong. And for someone, if that’s all they’re going to take—an 18-year-old kid, [for example]—that’s okay. But the truth is, so often it’s just one size fits all, and there are actually low levels of everything. Some people don’t need, for example, extra vitamin D or something [else]. They might have had a polymorphism or a genetic thing, and some people need way more riboflavin, niacin, or vitamin D.

Dr. Jill 29:45

I always think of it as a chef in the kitchen; like I’m cooking and creating a recipe for my patients. But I just wanted to mention too that sometimes [taking] multivitamins, if that’s all you’re going to do, is okay. But I will say I’m not a huge fan, and I’m much more of a fan of targeted nutrition. I hope that’s okay to say here, live, but I think it’s really important.

Dr. Mark Tager 30:02

I am in violent agreement with you because I use the term “intelligent supplementation.” For example, let’s take nutrigenomics. There are two pieces to it. Your genes determine how you metabolize and handle nutrients. It’s why you may like the taste of cilantro, [whereas] it tastes like soap to me. You may handle alcohol and caffeine [well]. Alcohol, you may detoxify and break down differently than I do. That’s one piece. 

Dr. Mark Tager 30:36

The other piece, of course, is that foods turn on or off the genes that make us healthy or ill. But the other point about that is that I think skin nutrigenomics—nutrigenomics in general—can really provide some very helpful information. I use myself as an example. My vitamin D [level], left to its own devices, is about 18 when it should be 50, 60, or 70, particularly in an era of infectious disease.

Dr. Jill 31:05

Mark, do you have the VDR mutation?

Mark Tager 31:07

I’ve got two. I’ve got the GC. I’ve got two mutations, as does my daughter.

Dr. Jill 31:07

Me too. I’m just like you. I totally understand this.

Dr. Mark Tager 31:16

If I say to people, “I take 50,000 units a week,” they’re like, “Oh my goodness, you’re overdosing yourself.” And you know where that 50,000 [units] gets me?—to about 50 [units]. It gets me to just about where I need to be. So I think that this concept of individual variability in terms of our needs—vitamin C, zinc, how we handle sugar, how we handle caffeine—[is so important]. You know, you hear these stories: “Caffeine is bad for you”; “Caffeine is great for you”; or “Caffeine doesn’t do anything… ” and they are all true.

Dr. Jill 31:52

It depends on your cytochromes, right? 

Dr. Mark Tager 31:55

Exactly. It depends on how good your liver is at metabolizing that. Now, fortunately, I got good genes from my mom and dad, so I could drink a lot of coffee.

Dr. Jill 32:04

Me too.

Dr. Mark Tager 32:07

This is my 11th book, and I couldn’t have done it without the coffee.

Dr. Jill 32:13

So I heard you say vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc. Again, this is very personalized, so you don’t want to just go out [and purchase supplements] without your doctor’s recommendations. What would be maybe the top five [supplements] that are so core that you can’t live without [them] if you’re not getting them from your food?

Dr. Mark Tager 32:29

They called essential fatty acids ‘essential’ because they’re essential. Vitamin C—we’ve lost the ability to manufacture that. Plus, so much of the food that we get is trucked in and oxidized; there’s just not a lot of vitamin C in there, so you really have to work hard. If you’ve got a genetic variant that says you need more than just this recommended amount, or if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you’ve got to work to create the collagen from the three amino acids and you need vitamin C, that’s important. 

Dr. Mark Tager 33:07

I think we’ve seen people with zinc and vitamin E [deficiencies]. It’s a little challenging on vitamin E because most of the research has been done on the alpha-tocopherol side of vitamin E. There is a whole other movement that said, “Maybe it’s not the tocopherols; maybe it’s the tocotrienols that are most important.” So we’re in this sort of shifty phase now where we can look at the genes for the tocopherols, but we’re not sure that means as much. Vitamin E is certainly important. But then we also have genes that accelerate collagen breakdown. So if you’ve got a gene that accelerates what’s called MMP, which breaks down collagen, that just says that you need to pay more attention to that. Or if you have a gene for increasing pigmentation or glycation, if you’ve got the gene for increased glycation or the creation of glycation end products, advanced AGEs, that’s good feedback to know. 

Dr. Mark Tager 34:13

Now, ultimately, you have to change your behavior. You’re going to have to change what you eat, you’re going to have to change your exercise, you’re going to have to get a good night’s sleep, you’re going to have to learn to manage stress, and then you can take—once you’re done with all that good stuff, the hard stuff—the supplements, [which is] the easy part. That’s easy; the hardest thing is getting people to make [changes in their lives].

Dr. Mark Tager 34:37

For years I’ve counseled people on lifestyle, and as you do and as so many of our listeners who are professionals do, we sit in that room, we make eye contact, we lean in, we mirror their body, and we attend [to them]. We’re right there in their presence, and the real question in our minds is: What’s it going to take to turn on that light in the minds and hearts of that other person so they get it and start caring for themselves? That is the big behavior change riddle that we all deal with.

Dr. Jill 35:14

Yes. I love this because the topic is so relevant. Again, it’s that billboard to the world, and this is really relevant to my listeners, and to all the people you’ve taught. It’s such wonderful practical advice. I would expect nothing less from you, Mark. Where can people find you? Where can they get a copy of your book?

Dr. Mark Tager 35:31

Yes, so let’s do a couple of things. First, I’ll have to tell you a story. This is the cover of the book. Now, I went and gave a talk to 200 male and female estheticians. I had five covers, and I said, “Which one do you guys like the best?” The one that I liked the best came in last—no one liked it. This was the majority.

Dr. Jill 35:54

And show us one more time now that we know the story. 

Dr. Mark Tager 35:58

Now you know the story; this was the cover. 

Dr. Jill 36:00

Oh, interesting. It’s got all the good stuff around.

Dr. Mark Tager 36:01

It just popped and it related.

Dr. Jill 36:04

I love it. Isn’t it funny?

Dr. Mark Tager 36:05

I’m somebody that was much more clinical than that; “I’m Dr. Tager, I have to have a very clinical… ” And they said, “No, it needs to be fun.” So you can get me @drmtager. Professionals can hit me up on LinkedIn. I’ve got a website, drtager.com where you can find out more. And I’ve got a course. The book is on Amazon. That’s the easiest way to get books. And then I’m creating an online course that will be out in about two months called “Inside Skin Beauty”. It’s for professionals, and it’s nine hours of how to put a “Beauty From Within” course into your practice.

Dr. Jill 36:50

Oh, I love that, Mark. I’ll be sure and share this with our professionals. And I want to learn more because, it’s funny, the one thing I’d love to expand in my own clinic is  aesthetics. I can do the inside part with my eyes closed, but I want to do more for people [in this aspect]. And it’s funny because I have compassion because I’ve been to [a place in my life] where my face looked so awful, reflecting my inner health. I know how it feels. It’s so shameful to go out in public [with], you know, acne or whatever. So I have a lot of passion for that too, for people suffering because a chronic illness often does affect our skin. So I love what you’re doing. What would be one last takeaway or thing that you’d give to our listeners from this area or from any area of your life?—just any sort of takeaway that we can give to the listeners.

Dr. Mark Tager 37:35

Okay, we’re going deeply philosophical here. Before I do that, though, I will say that having known you all these years, I’ve never seen you do anything but glow from the inside out.

Dr. Jill 37:45

Thank you!


Dr. Mark Tager 37:47

Always, your presence is magnificent, powerful, and engaging. You could probably be covered with pimples, and I would never know it because you glow from the inside out.


Dr. Jill 38:00

Oh thank you! 

Dr. Mark Tager 38:02

We’ll go back to my little story about the garden. What I get from that, in addition to the mindfulness and the being there and just blotting everything else, I thought about this and that is: Personal growth is an analog process; it’s not digital, and it’s not overnight. It is this gradual—you know, I guess I’m Chauncy Gardener—analog process of going out and pruning and adding a little water and adding a little fertilizer and watching things day to day grow and change and having a little feedback. So it’s the doing and the feedback, in sort of an analog process in which you are attending, and your intention is one of personal growth and development.

Dr. Jill 38:51

I love that. What a great way to end because it encompasses everything we talked about in all areas. I love the garden analogy, I love your work, and I would say the same for you, Mark. You glow and bring such beautiful energy to everyone around you. You inspire me and so many other physicians. Thank you for your work and presence in the world, and I love that we can talk about this and that I can keep supporting you here as well.

Dr. Mark Tager 39:16

Same here. Thanks so much, Jill!

Dr. Jill 39:17

You’re welcome!

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Long COVID: A Fascinating Look at This New Epidemic’s Similarities to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/10/26/long-covid-a-fascinating-look-at-this-new-epidemics-similarities-to-chronic-fatigue-syndrome/ https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/10/26/long-covid-a-fascinating-look-at-this-new-epidemics-similarities-to-chronic-fatigue-syndrome/#comments Wed, 26 Oct 2022 15:22:30 +0000 https://www.jillcarnahan.com/?p=38667 We’re all familiar with the widespread concern that spread across the globe like wildfire with the emergence of COVID-19 in early 2020. But now, years later, this tricky virus proves to be much more complex than a straightforward, passing infection. It’s estimated that nearly a third of those that contract the coronavirus end up experiencing…

The post Long COVID: A Fascinating Look at This New Epidemic’s Similarities to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome first appeared on Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.]]>

We’re all familiar with the widespread concern that spread across the globe like wildfire with the emergence of COVID-19 in early 2020. But now, years later, this tricky virus proves to be much more complex than a straightforward, passing infection. It’s estimated that nearly a third of those that contract the coronavirus end up experiencing life-hindering symptoms for months or even years after the initial infection.

These unrelenting symptoms have even earned themselves the official name of long COVID. While long COVID has certainly proven to be perplexing, frustrating, and somewhat of a mystery, researchers have uncovered some promising clues thanks to our understanding of another equally complex condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome.

Today, we’re going to dive into the striking similarities between long COVID and chronic fatigue syndrome, explore how they may in fact be intricately linked, and what we can do moving forward. 

What Is Long COVID?

While some people contract a COVID-19 infection and bounce back within a few weeks, others are not so fortunate. A growing number of people are experiencing continual, or even brand-new symptoms that last for weeks, months, or even years after the initial virus has supposedly been cleared. These ongoing symptoms have been dubbed long COVID or long-haul COVID. 

While long COVID cases can sometimes present with a vast constellation of perplexing symptoms, the most common symptoms include:1

  • Unrelenting fatigue and malaise
  • Unexplained pain
  • Migraine and/or headache
  • Difficulty sleeping and trouble getting a restful night’s sleep
  • Digestive issues
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Abnormal lab values and abnormal heart rhythm
  • Skin issues

This list of symptoms has an uncanny resemblance to the primary symptoms of another complex condition that’s been around much longer – a condition known as chronic fatigue syndrome.

What Is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), also sometimes referred to as myalgic encephalomyelitis or adrenal fatigue is a complex and often debilitating condition characterized by unrelenting fatigue that seems to persist regardless of length or quality of rest.2 

What makes this condition particularly tricky, is the fact that the disorder “chronic fatigue syndrome” is not actually a diagnosis in and of itself. Rather CFS is more of an umbrella term, used to describe a group of symptoms that come along with the overarching symptom of chronic and unrelenting fatigue. Some of the primary symptoms associated with CFS include:2,3

  • Extreme feelings of persistent fatigue and malaise that lasts more than 24 hours after physical or mental exertion
  • Random flare-ups of muscle and joint pain
  • Recurring headaches of a new pattern, type, or severity
  • Cognitive difficulties, loss of memory, and/or difficulty concentrating
  • Feelings of depression and/or anxiety
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Difficulty sleeping and unrefreshing sleep
  • Sore throat and/or enlarged lymph nodes

If you scroll back up and look through the list of common symptoms associated with long COVID, you’ll quickly notice the significant overlap and similarities between these two complex and poorly understood conditions. So how is it possible that a viral infection like COVID-19 could lead to these debilitating symptoms that are eerily similar to chronic fatigue syndrome?

How Could Long COVID Possibly Lead to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Both long COVID and CFS are multi-layered, complex, and honestly, still a little bit of a mystery. And while we certainly don’t have all the answers when it comes to either of these complicated conditions, we do know that a viral infection like COVID-19 can have a domino effect – eventually leading to the development of CFS-like symptoms in a process that goes something like this:

B Cell Activation and T Cell Dysregulation:

Your B cells and T cells are specialized immune cells that work together to function sort of like the “special ops” of your immune system. These unique immune cells have earned the nickname “special ops” because they are your only immune cells capable of recognizing and responding specifically to each antigenic epitope – which is a fancy way of saying that they can identify specific invaders and launch a more sophisticated attack to more effectively eliminate them.

To launch these high-level attacks, your T cells identify a specific pathogen (like coronavirus) and immediately begin killing off any of your own cells that may be infected by the sneaky invader. At the same time, other T cells begin releasing signaling molecules – triggering your B cells to begin manufacturing a type of protein known as antibodies. Antibodies are specific to each pathogen and lock onto the surface of the invader to flag it for destruction by your other immune cells.

Your T and B cells are designed to ramp up, neutralize the threat, and then downregulate back to a state of homeostasis. But sometimes, these specialized immune cells can essentially get stuck in the “on” position. This long-term activation results in burnt-out and exhausted B and T cells, systemic inflammation, and an immune system that is in a downward spiral.

Reactivation of Latent Viral Infections

As your immune system remains preoccupied with the imminent threat and becomes depleted and worn out, it creates the perfect opening for any viruses that have been lying dormant. When your immune system is weakened it can no longer effectively suppress these latent viruses that have been laying in wait for their opportunity to reactivate – replicating and spreading throughout your body.

The coronavirus has proven to be a potent reactivator of numerous latent viral infections including:5

  • Herpes simplex virus type 1
  • Shingles
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Parvovirus B19
  • Epstein-Barr virus

But viral infections aren’t the only opportunistic pathogens that can be reactivated after infection with COVID-19.

Lyme and Tick-Borne Illness Reactivation: 

If you have an underlying infection with Borrelia Burgdorferi (the bacteria that causes Lyme disease) or any other tick-borne co-infections, your immune system is already vulnerable. So if you then contract COVID-19, it can quickly drain your immune system and allow all of these pathogens to begin running rampant. 

As your immune system scrambles to neutralize not only the coronavirus, but also any reactivated viral infections, Lyme disease, and/or other tick-borne pathogens, your cells can quickly become depleted of a critical nutrient – vitamin D.

Vitamin D Depletion: 

Vitamin D is a critical regulator of your immune system, modulating things like:6,7,8

  • The release and activation of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) which block microbes from invading your cells and dampen their ability to replicate
  • Phagocytosis or your immune cells’ ability to engulf and neutralize invading pathogens
  • T cell communication
  • The strength of your mucosal barriers which serve as a barrier between you and the outside world

This depletion of Vitamin D further adds to the downward spiral of your immune system. To learn more about the fascinating interplay between long COVID and Vitamin D, be sure to check out part one of this series on long COVID called Vitamin D and Your Immune System: Can This Nutrient Help Combat Long COVID?

But vitamin D isn’t the only important compound that can become depleted after an infection with coronavirus.

Adrenal Dysfunction and Low Cortisol:

As your frazzled and weakened immune system attempts to regain control, it can quickly burn out another essential system in your body – your adrenals. You see, your adrenal glands play a key role in the function of your immune system by producing and secreting compounds like cortisol and other glucocorticoids as well as catecholamines that:9

  • Regulate the expression of cytokines – specialized signaling molecules your immune cells secrete to communicate
  • Immune cell activation
  • The proliferation of certain pathogens

Continued activation of your immune system taps out your adrenal gland’s reserves, leading to dramatically low levels of one of your primary adrenal hormones known as cortisol. This adrenal dysfunction and subsequent decrease in circulating cortisol are not only cardinal signs of long COVID but also chronic fatigue syndrome – with the term CFS often being used interchangeably with the name “adrenal fatigue”.10,11,12

Neuroinflammation:

As systemic inflammation lingers, it can eventually spread to your nervous system – triggering what’s known as neuroinflammation. You see, your nervous system and brain operate within a tightly regulated system separated from the rest of your immune system. Your central nervous system has specialized immune cells known as microglia that patrol your brain and spinal cord.

Systemic inflammation triggered by a viral infection like COVID-19 can activate your microglia and trigger inflammation within your nervous system. If not addressed, prolonged neuroinflammation can lead to neurological dysfunction that presents as many of the symptoms seen in CFS and long COVID.13

Long COVID: A Form of Post-Viral Chronic Fatigue

The parallels between long COVID and chronic fatigue syndrome are undeniable.14 And post-viral chronic fatigue syndrome isn’t new. It’s been well-established that a viral infection can essentially cause your immune system to go haywire – leading to a domino effect that can trigger the development of the constellation of vague, persistent, and life-disrupting symptoms seen in chronic fatigue syndrome.

The discovery of the striking similarities between long COVID and CFS is a promising one – giving us new insight into how we can potentially treat the onslaught of individuals grappling with unrelenting symptoms long after their initial COVID infection. 

So how exactly do we begin treating long COVID if it is in fact a form of post-viral chronic fatigue?

Treatments to Ease Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Long COVID

So what are the options when it comes to treating long COVID if it is in fact a form of chronic fatigue syndrome? The answer to that question is still unclear. While we have made great strides in understanding long COVID as a possible form of chronic fatigue syndrome, we still have much more ground to cover. Fortunately, our understanding of treating post-viral chronic fatigue gives us some insight into where we can start.

What we do know is that when it comes to managing the symptoms of CFS and helping the immune system regain a sense of equilibrium after a viral infection, minimizing inflammation is the name of the game. Some ways we can begin pumping the brakes on inflammation and help the immune system return to a more balanced state include:

  • Replenishing Vitamin D levels: Vitamin D is a critical nutrient involved heavily in immune function. Restoring cellular vitamin D can help your cells combat new or reactivated pathogens.
  • Restoring gut health: The health of your gut and microbiome plays a pivotal role in immune activation and inflammation levels. Healing any gut dysfunction and promoting a diverse, thriving gut microbiome is foundational when it comes to supporting your immune system. 
  • Minimizing exposure to environmental toxins: Environmental toxins can essentially “clog up” and overwhelm your immune system while simultaneously throwing many of your hormones out of whack. Minimizing your overall exposure to environmental toxins can help free up some of your immune system’s resources so it can get a grasp on any lingering or reactivated pathogens that are contributing to ongoing symptoms. 
  • Optimizing sleep: Sleep deprivation is like kryptonite to your immune system. Making an effort to log adequate hours of high-quality sleep can go a long way in supporting your body’s defenses. 
  • Treating underlying infections: It’s crucial to address any underlying infections that may have been reactivated after contracting COVID-19. Infections like Epstein-Barr virus, Lyme disease, tick-borne bacteria, and even hidden mycotoxins can make healing an uphill battle if they are not addressed.  
  • Addressing HPA axis dysfunction: Your HPA axis stands for your hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This trio works together to orchestrate numerous bodily functions – including your cortisol levels and subsequently your immune function. Addressing a dysfunction or imbalance in this axis can help restore your adrenal glands and boost your immune system’s ability to fight back against COVID and any other hidden invading pathogens. 
  • Supporting adrenal function: In addition to addressing any issues that may be contributing to HPA axis dysfunction, it can also be useful to give your adrenal glands some extra support to help kickstart their ability to produce immune-boosting compounds. Some potent ways to support your adrenals include getting plenty of high-quality rest, minimizing stress, and ensuring you’re getting a healthy dose of electrolytes by drinking saltwater or adding an electrolyte replacement to your water. It can also be helpful to incorporate an adrenal-supporting supplement like Adrenal Essentials.

While these tweaks can certainly help support your immune system, the truth is, healing long COVID or any form of chronic fatigue syndrome can be a complex journey that takes time. For that reason, it can be invaluable to have the guidance of an experienced Integrative and Functional Medicine Practitioner that can guide you every step of the way.

Are You Concerned You Might Be Struggling With Long COVID?

If you’ve been dealing with new or ongoing symptoms that seem to have appeared out of nowhere after contracting COVID-19, you may in fact be struggling with a case of long COVID. While we may not have all the answers just yet, the good news is that you don’t have to go at this alone. We are learning more about this condition every day and with each new discovery, we get closer to a solution.

The fact that long COVID has such striking similarities to chronic fatigue syndrome is a promising discovery – but it comes with its own set of complexities. For that reason, I cannot overemphasize the importance of seeking out an experienced Integrative and Functional Medicine Practitioner to help you not only identify exactly where your symptoms are coming from but to help you navigate the path to healing. 

If you’re grappling with persistent, unexplained symptoms and are looking for more information on long COVID and ways to support your body throughout the process of healing, I encourage you to head over and browse through my blog and YouTube channel. I’ve got loads of science-backed, easy-to-understand resources to help you stay informed and empowered. And don’t forget to sign up for my weekly newsletter to get my best content delivered straight to your inbox – just enter your name and email address in the form below.

Now it’s time to hear from you. Were you surprised to learn about the undeniable parallels between long COVID-19 and chronic fatigue syndrome? If you’ve wrestled with the persistent symptoms of long COVID, what healing strategies have you tried and what has or hasn’t worked for you? Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments below!

Resources:

  1. A Detailed Study of Patients with Long-Haul COVID–An Analysis of Private Healthcare Claims–A FAIR Health White Paper.pdf
  2. Chronic fatigue syndrome – Symptoms and causes – Mayo Clinic
  3. The Emerging Role of Gut Microbiota in Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS): Current Evidence and Potential Therapeutic Applications – PMC (nih.gov)
  4. Introduction to T and B lymphocytes – Autoimmunity – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
  5. Frontiers | Emergent Virus Reactivation in SARS-CoV-2-Negative Community Acquired Pneumonia Patients During the COVID-19 Pandemic (frontiersin.org)
  6. Vitamin D and Immune Function – PMC (nih.gov)
  7. Frontiers | Impact of vitamin D on immune function: lessons learned from genome-wide analysis (frontiersin.org)
  8. Vitamin D, vitamin D receptor and tissue barriers – PMC (nih.gov)
  9. Immune Cells and Cytokine Circuits: Toward a Working Model for Understanding Direct Immune-to-Adrenal Communication Pathways – PMC (nih.gov)
  10. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – Endotext – NCBI Bookshelf (nih.gov)
  11. Distinguishing features of Long COVID identified through immune profiling | medRxiv
  12. Is there a role for the adrenal glands in long COVID? | Nature Reviews Endocrinology
  13. Molecular Mechanisms of Neuroinflammation in ME/CFS and Long COVID to Sustain Disease and Promote Relapses – PMC (nih.gov)
  14. The Hugely Predictive Factor for Long COVID…is also found in ME/CFS and Fibromyalgia: the IACFS/ME Conference II – Health Rising
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#124: Dr. Jill interviews Magdalena Wszelaki on Solutions to Breast Pain and Fibrocystic Breasts https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/10/24/124-dr-jill-interviews-magdalena-wszelaki-on-solutions-to-breast-pain-and-fibrocystic-breasts/ https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/10/24/124-dr-jill-interviews-magdalena-wszelaki-on-solutions-to-breast-pain-and-fibrocystic-breasts/#respond Tue, 25 Oct 2022 05:40:37 +0000 https://www.jillcarnahan.com/?p=38866 In episode #124 Magdalena Wszelaki, a breast health expert and author, discusses solutions to breast pain and fibrocystic breasts. She explains the role of lymphatic drainage in relieving these conditions and offers helpful tips for improving breast health.

The post #124: Dr. Jill interviews Magdalena Wszelaki on Solutions to Breast Pain and Fibrocystic Breasts first appeared on Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.]]>
In episode #124 Magdalena Wszelaki, a breast health expert and author, discusses solutions to breast pain and fibrocystic breasts. She explains the role of lymphatic drainage in relieving these conditions and offers helpful tips for improving breast health.

Key Points

  • Why healthy lymphatic drainage may be one of the most important things for breast health
  • Practical steps to do breast massage to improve lymphatic drainage and decrease breast pain
  • We discuss top herbs and nutrients to assist estrogen detoxification and liver health

Related products

The Guest

Magdalena Wszelaki

Magdalena Wszelaki, founder of the popular Hormones Balance community and Wellena line of all-natural supplements and skin care products, knows firsthand what it means to overcome estrogen dominance. In addition to being a celebrated author, Magdalena is an entrepreneur, holistic nutrition coach, chef, certified herbalist, and speaker serving tens of thousands of women who struggle with issues related to hormone balance.

Developing hyperthyroidism and Hashimoto’s, adrenal fatigue, and Estrogen Dominance propelled her to leave a high-pressure advertising career and develop a new way of eating – and living – that would repair and keep her hormones working properly.

Now symptom-free, Magdalena shares her practical, proven knowledge so that other women may benefit. In Overcoming Estrogen Dominance, she offers hope, more than 50 delicious recipes, hormone-balancing protocols, and a thorough analysis of how the food we eat and the lives we live are throwing our hormones out of balance.

Dr. Jill

Dr. Jill Carnahan is Your Functional Medicine Expert® dually board certified in Family Medicine for ten years and in Integrative Holistic Medicine since 2015. She is the Medical Director of Flatiron Functional Medicine, a widely sought-after practice with a broad range of clinical services including functional medical protocols, nutritional consultations, chiropractic therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy. As a survivor of breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, and toxic mold illness she brings a unique perspective to treating patients in the midst of complex and chronic illness. Her clinic specializes in searching for the underlying triggers that contribute to illness through cutting-edge lab testing and tailoring the intervention to specific needs. 

Featured in Shape Magazine, Parade, Forbes, MindBodyGreen, First for Women, Townsend Newsletter, and The Huffington Post as well as seen on NBC News and Health segments with Joan Lunden, Dr. Jill is a media must-have. Her YouTube channel and podcast features live interviews with the healthcare world’s most respected names. 

A popular inspirational speaker and prolific writer, she shares her knowledge of hope, health, and healing live on stage and through newsletters, articles, books, and social media posts! People relate to Dr. Jill’s science-backed opinions delivered with authenticity, love and humor. She is known for inspiring her audience to thrive even in the midst of difficulties.

The Podcast

The Video

The Transcript

#124: Dr. Jill interviews Magdalena Wszelaki on Solutions to Breast Pain and Fibrocystic Breasts

Dr. Jill 0:13

Hello and welcome to another episode of Dr. Jill Live. Today I have a friend and special guest in my own hometown, Magdalena. I’m going to tell you all about her today. And we’re going to dive into fibrocystic breasts, breast pain, and any issues you might have with—as we discussed beforehand—your boobies for women. And for men who love the women in their lives, you may also want to be listening just because this is a very, very common problem as we have more estrogen dominance and chemicals in our environment. We’ll dive into all of that today, so stay tuned. You’re going to learn a lot.

Dr. Jill 0:44

Just a quick reminder: If you want to find other episodes, you can find them on the YouTube channel. You can find all blogs and information at jillcarnahan.com.

Dr. Jill 0:52

Today, let me start by introducing my guest, Magdalena, who’s the founder of the popular Hormones Balance community and the new Wellena line of all-natural supplements and skin care products. I got some cool stuff from you recently that I’m super excited to try, and we’ll talk about it today, Magdalena.

Dr. Jill 1:07

She knows firsthand what it means to overcome estrogen dominance. In addition to being a celebrated author, Magdalena is an entrepreneur, holistic nutrition coach, chef, a certified herbalist, and speaker, serving tens of thousands of women who struggle with issues related to hormone balance. Developing hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s, adrenal fatigue, and estrogen dominance propelled her to leave her high-pressure advertising career and develop a new way of eating and living that would repair and keep her hormones working properly. Now symptom-free, she can share her practical, proven knowledge so that other women may benefit from it. In her book, Overcoming Estrogen Dominance, she offers hope, more than 50 delicious recipes, and hormone-balancing protocols.

Dr. Jill 1:47

I am so excited to have you here, Magdalena! Welcome, welcome first of all.  And this is so common in women. Before we dive into what women can do, those who are listening and maybe those of you who want to chat in the chat box, tell us your issues. But let’s start with your story. I always love to see what drives you, and you clearly have been through a lot. Tell us a little bit about your journey and how you got here.

Magdalena Wszelaki 2:08

Yes. Estrogen dominance is something that definitely has been plaguing me as far as I remember from terrible periods of being 14-15 years old and then realizing later that it’s actually a family trait. We have women on both sides of my family passing away from estrogenic cancers. So estrogen dominance and being able to clear estrogen from our bodies is definitely a family challenge. I remember somehow that when I was in my late 20s, things were going really well in my life. I got a promotion, and then they told me that I was going to be moving into a corporate office in a regional office. So I used to live in Malaysia, which is like this Asian country, and then they moved me to Hong Kong. So I got this huge promotion and expatriate package. I was like 27 years old, super excited about it, and I felt very validated. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 3:00

I still remember driving with my boyfriend, and I had my hand on my boob when I suddenly found this lump. I think a lot of women experience—I certainly experienced [it]—a lot of imposter syndrome. I remember thinking to myself: “Of course, it had to happen! I don’t deserve it. There are just so many amazing things that have been happening for me, career-wise and monetary-wise. I’ve got this supportive boyfriend that I’m in love with, and of course, something had to not work.”

Magdalena Wszelaki 3:33

I’ll never forget that moment—the terror of finding that lump. The aftermath of that is: “Is it cancer? How do I get it properly diagnosed?” And then I contacted my doctor, and they were pushing me towards a mammogram, and I was like: “Do I do a mammogram? Are there any other options?” And then there’s the fear that you go through, right? So I remember the emotional baggage. I didn’t choose a mammogram at that point. I think it was a sonogram that I got done. And the wait time for the appointment and all of that and the stress of that, I thought to myself, “If I can do something to never experience that again, how wonderful would that be!” 

Magdalena Wszelaki 4:44

As I progressed in my career and left advertising over a decade ago and started doing what I’m doing now, I really redirected my entire calling toward estrogen dominance. One of the many symptoms of estrogen dominance in women—which, as you said, is so common—is [having] issues with the breasts. A few times after that in my life, I found a few other lumps. Every time, it was the same set of emotions, and I thought, “Since I do this as a career and it’s my calling, I want to develop a product that will never have a woman worry about a breast lump again.” So that was the big thing. But fibrocystic breast issues are not just about finding a lump or cyst. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 5:16

Since then, I started talking to women, and it’s become so common that we don’t even talk about it because we assume that it’s normal that for two weeks out of a month the breasts are so sensitive that we don’t do sports, we don’t go for a run, we don’t play tennis, or whatever it might be because it’s so painful. Our formulator of the cream actually has such terrible breast pain that she can’t even put on a bra. Women don’t want to be intimate during this time. It’s uncomfortable, but I also think it’s so debilitating for women in many ways. So that was the original thinking. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 5:56

The last thing I’ll mention is that I just want to give a shout-out to a woman in North Carolina. I met her online through our community. Somebody said, “I had a breast massage done, and it was life-changing.” So I’ve learned from her. Her name is Gaye Walden. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. She taught me how to do a lymphatic massage on the breast, which I’ll be very happy to show you later today on how to do a massage on yourself. That was life-changing because whenever I have pain in my breasts like before my period, [which happens] very little these days… And I started using that with a lot of my colleagues, friends, and community [members]—learning how to massage the breasts—and that was a life changer too. So it was just like that fascination with like: “Oh, I thought I could just do [some] rebounding, and that’s going to activate my lymphatic system.” But it turns out you can actually massage your breasts, and it’s a lot more [of a] targeted way of reducing the pain.

Dr. Jill 6:49

Oh, Magdalena, I love your story, and I love most of all how you’ve taken it and really made it a life calling and a career that’s much more than just random products that don’t mean anything—this really matters.  Like you said, every day I talk to patients who have breast pain and fibrocystic breasts, be it a cyst in the breast or fibroadenomas, which are all similarly related to too much estrogen or this [estrogen] dominance.  

Dr. Jill 7:10

And a little bit about my own personal story; I don’t always talk about it, but today it’s relevant because, at 25, I found a lump in my breast. I had fibrocystic breasts before [I was] 25, and I had breast cancer. So [it’s the] same thing as you; I’m very passionate about this topic. It’s interesting because I know now, in hindsight, that the lymphatics were such a huge part of developing that cancer. I grew up on a farm with chemicals that were endocrine disruptors, which just means they act like hormones on our body even though they’re chemicals and not hormonal. 

Dr. Jill 7:37

Right now—you know as well as I do—we’re swimming in toxic soup as women. So part of the problem is that our environmental toxic load is so high and so many of those chemicals mimic estrogen in our body that not only are we sometimes producing too much, we’re [also] getting them externally. So thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for your passion; it means a lot to me as a 21-year survivor of breast cancer. So it’s pretty exciting because, yes, I’ve been through it. 

Dr. Jill 8:02

And just like you, I said: “Why did this happen? How can I prevent this?” Now, 20 years later, I’m not worried about getting cancer again because I’ve done all the things I need to do in order to protect [myself]. Probably the number one thing is related to estrogens. So let’s go real basic first, then we’ll get deeper for those who want more details. What are estrogen and progesterone? How do they work in the cycle? And why would someone have estrogen dominance, or how might it look?

Magdalena Wszelaki 8:25

Yes, so if you think about estrogen and progesterone, they’re like two dancing partners. If you watch a dance competition, if the guy is overly dressed and too cocky and the woman is too timid, it looks very unbalanced, or vice versa. So estrogen and progesterone do this beautiful dance as well. For example, estrogen is the one that thickens the uterus, and progesterone comes in like a mower that just cuts the grass down and sheds it—that’s why we get our periods. So they have this balancing role with each other. That’s one way we can get estrogen dominance when the estrogen-progesterone ratio is off. Let’s come back to this in just a second because for a lot of women after 45, their estrogen and progesterone start dropping, and they go: “Oh, I can’t be estrogen dominant. My estrogen is so low. I have no estrogen.” That is a big misconception. So let’s come back to this in a second. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 9:21

The second way you can get estrogen dominance: How you metabolize estrogens is really important. When I say ‘metabolize,’ think of a flowing river with a bank in the middle. This river is going through a bank, and the bank separates it into a clean stream and a dirty stream. That bank is your liver. You may also put your gut in there too, arguably. But the point is that metabolites help us to really differentiate [between] those clean and dirty estrogens. So first of all, let’s not demonize estrogen. The name ‘estrogen dominant’ is in some ways a gift and a curse because it puts the condition on the map, but on the other hand, it also creates a lot of fear around estrogen. If you did not have sufficient estrogen, our ladies here would not be listening to us today, be cohesive, have strong, healthy bones, somewhat healthy skin and brains, and all that good stuff.

Magdalena Wszelaki 10:17

The combination of how we break it down and the balance of estrogen and progesterone—that’s really important. Can you have estrogen dominance even though you’re going through perimenopause and menopause? Absolutely! And that’s the reason why most women who develop breast cancer, for example, are women who are 45 and above—that’s the highest demographic. Is our estrogen on the lower side by then? Yes, it is. But it’s just how we break it down. However little it is, how we break it down is important. It can also be low—but guess what?—your proportion of estrogen to progesterone is off. So that’s one of the symptoms that will manifest—it’s going to be through your breasts, for sure.

Dr. Jill 10:56

Yes. That’s probably [the] number one [thing], right? Other things that can be related, I know, are endometriosis and uterine fibroids. Any other thoughts on if someone’s like, “Do I have this or not?” What would their symptoms look like with estrogen dominance?

Magdalena Wszelaki 11:09

Yes. Very difficult periods (PMS), PMDD—women who have super heavy periods. Women who don’t have their periods—it can be due to that too.  Where we store fat can be due to hormones. Women who have a lot of cellulite and fat around their thighs and buttocks have the typical pear shape. Where do I put on weight when I put on weight? It all goes down there. I don’t have it on my belly. It’s all in the pear.  Varicose veins are an interesting [symptom]. Having issues with the gallbladder—interestingly, estrogen dominance can be contributing to the growth of gallstones. Losing your gallbladder can also contribute toward estrogen [dominance]. That’s another mechanism going on there. Infertility—it’s the 101 of estrogen dominance. Mood swings—that’s a huge one for women struggling with that. If the estrogen dominance is due to low progesterone, things like sudden anxiety—women who’ve always felt confident and calm suddenly feel like they are all jittery and just unsure of themselves and very anxious. Also, sleeping problems [is another symptom]. Who here has hit 45, and you’re just not sleeping the way you used to before? Those are symptoms of estrogen dominance. You tell me—who do you know that doesn’t have it?

Dr. Jill 12:31

Yes. I was going to say it’s so common. And again, it’s not only because we’re producing more, [but] our livers are overloaded, and then we have these external forces. [I’d like to bring up something] really quick before we go into the specifics on the breasts and all the stuff you have to share and talk about. Chemicals in our environment—there are so many things that mimic estrogen. Do you recommend any sort of detox, looking at bath and body products, cleaning products, or organic foods? What are a few key tips that you recommend because there is a lot of external exposure from these [inaudible] parabens and things?

Magdalena Wszelaki 12:59

Yes. We could do a whole podcast just on the 20 worst offenders, but let’s just keep it super simple and practical: Just eat organic—it’s really as simple as that—as much as you can on a budget. If you’re on a budget, then look at the “clean [15]” and “dirty dozen” right on the EWG website and see which are the worst offenders. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 13:21

When it comes to cleaning products, I think the easiest thing to do is just go to a food co-op or a health food store. The buyers there already do a lot of the filtering and work for you. [In that way], you don’t have to crack your head on: “What is this ingredient? What does it mean?” 

Magdalena Wszelaki 13:43

Plus, another thing is that there are a lot of online brands these days; unfortunately, many of them do a lot of greenwashing. But follow someone like yourself or join a community where you trust the practitioner and the recommendations of products they put forward, whether it’s your deodorant, which is such a big part of what gets in here [pointing to the axilla]… You guys, this is your lymphatic system. We’re going to talk about this today, but your lymphatic system is so rich here, and this is such a great absorption area. You’re putting chemicals in it. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 14:09

What about perfumes? Where are we, as women, told to spray perfumes? Right here, which is your thyroid, [is] very thin skin. You can put your progesterone there for the quickest absorption too. Where else? Right in here [pointing to the palmar wrist area]—again, quickest absorption point. Find brands of perfumes that are based on essential oils and such. It can be pretty straightforward if you know the source and trust that source.

Dr. Jill 14:35

I love that you made it so simple. I would say clean air, clean water, and clean food, which is what you’re saying with ‘eat organic.’ I love the simplicity. I remember after the breast cancer, when I was like, “Why did this happen at 25?” and I started to dive into it, the first thing I did was start to clean up my bath and body, my makeup, and my stuff. It was overwhelming at first because I did dive into the chemicals and stuff. But you don’t have to do that. Like you said, you kept it really simple, and I love that. And literally, vinegar and water can do a lot. That’s one of the safest ways to start cleaning. Lemon, vinegar, and water—those three ingredients can probably clean your whole house in general.

Dr. Jill 15:08

Okay, so let’s dive into the breasts. Obviously, the breasts are an organ that produces a lot of estrogen. They’re very estrogen-sensitive because there are a lot of cells. But why are the breasts so affected in women? And again, we can say fibrocystic breasts, but what does that actually mean to someone who maybe isn’t sure if they have it or not?

Magdalena Wszelaki 15:23

Yes. So if you look at charts of the breasts, there are so many lymphatic nodes in the breast itself. It’s so highly lymphocytic. We have so much blood flow and so many nerves—that’s why breasts are so sensitive. I believe that breast health—the estrogen element is huge in that. We also have lymphatic stagnation that’s happening. Think of the lymph nodes that are in the breasts, all around here [pointing to the axilla], [and] in your legs as your highway for the trash trucks to carry crap out of your body. [With] stagnation, for example, your fingers start swelling up. You can’t take your rings off. That could be lymphatic stagnation. Women’s legs start getting swollen. You can also start swelling up here too [pointing to the upper body]. It’s the same thing. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 16:17

Estrogen dominance, I believe, is lymphatic stagnation, and it’s systemic inflammation in the body, whether it’s because of stress, poor diets, or very poor sleep—[this] can be a huge contributor toward that. This is when the lymphatic system and the lymph nodes really respond in the breast in such a huge way. One of the ways that they become so swollen is because there is a lot of liquid that gets stuck in them, and you’re just not getting that movement. I believe that using topicals can really be helpful in getting things moving in the breasts. I also like to address the underlying cause of it, which is to support the liver [so as] to address estrogen dominance and move the lymphatic system by using specific herbs, as well as lowering the inflammation in the body through both topical [and] internal [means].

Dr. Jill 17:15

I love that you’re focusing on lymphatics, and next, we’re going to actually talk about the breast exam. But I want to just emphasize that for those thinking medically, “What is this [that’s] happening?” any chemical exposure, including our own hormones, needs to be detoxified by our liver like you said earlier. 

Dr. Jill 17:29

We have this phase one where the first product goes in and gets metabolized to this intermediate, and then phase two takes it into a water-soluble molecule and eliminates it into the gallbladder with the bile, and then that can be excreted in the gut. Now we can also excrete products in the urine—debris, sweat; there are other ways. But the lymphatics and liver are so closely connected because the liver is like your car’s filter—[it’s the] filter of your blood. And the lymphatics are, like you said, those streams or those routes. 

Dr. Jill 17:57

Looking back at my own history, at 25, [my] breast cancer [was] very aggressive, and my lymphatics basically weren’t working at all. Had I known that 20 years ago, it could have made a really big difference. Especially for me, in conventional medicine, we don’t talk a lot about lymphatics unless it’s lymph node cancer. There’s not a lot of emphasis, and it’s so critical. 

Dr. Jill 18:17

What I’ve seen in Lyme, mold, and all the complex chronic illnesses that I treat [is that] when they do poorly on their detox protocols, it’s almost always the lymphatics that are impaired. So I have to really think like my naturopathic friends who use homeopathic drainage remedies—some of the massage, some of the rebounding. Why don’t you talk a little bit about—I know you’ve gone into this—what are some things we can do to help the lymphatics? And then let’s go specifically to the breasts.

Magdalena Wszelaki 18:44

Yes. My father right now is going through the final stages of his life, so his lymphatics aren’t working. One of the things that we have learned from the help that he’s getting is how to do a lymphatic massage. If you don’t have a rebounder—you don’t have space for it, you don’t have the funds for it, or whatever—let me show you one of the easiest ways of doing that. Literally, you will see what I’m doing. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 19:09

[standing on tippy toes and abruptly landing on heels of feet] I’m just standing up on my feet and just dropping like this, and then just doing that. [also wiggling arms and hands] Let me tell you, just by doing this, I feel so energized. It doesn’t take much. You’re standing in line before you pay for your organic groceries, and you just do that. That’s a huge one. Another one a lot of people might have heard about is dry brushing.

Dr. Jill 19:37

I am a huge fan of that.

Magdalena Wszelaki 19:39

You are? Yes. My water heater is on one side of the house and my bathroom is on the other, so by the time the water gets there, there’s like a good five minutes of wait time, so I use this time to do dry brushing as well. I have the brush right next to my bathroom. You do that toward your heart before you take a shower. It’s so rejuvenating; it’s so reviving. You feel so energized by that; it’s pretty incredible.

Dr. Jill 20:05

I could not agree more. I just want to say for people watching who have never dry brushed, all you need is a natural bristle bath brush. It does not have to be anything fancy. It’s $3 and really simple. Like you, I love to make things easy so that they’re not hard; they’re easy to do. I set it right by my shower—the same exact thing. So you almost can’t not do it; you run into it. And as you mentioned, you’re brushing toward your heart and limbs, so everything goes up toward your heart. And you can actually do your upper chest here. Any tips on the actual chest area? [Should it be a] downward motion toward the heart?

Magdalena Wszelaki 20:37

Oh, you mean here?

Dr. Jill 20:39 

Yes. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 20:40

I just do it gently with a brush. But I would love to show you how. I also want to say that ever since we got our community to do dry brushing, women have been reporting that their cellulite, which would not go away in spite of exercise and dieting, has actually improved a lot. So it’s that lymphatic stagnation. It’s quite amazing. It’s not just the swelling; it’s the connection to cancer, like what you alluded to.

Dr. Jill 21:05

I love that you’re saying that because you go on social media and you see all of these gimmicks and things that are like, “This is cellulite” and this and that. It frustrates me, like, “No, it’s just lymphatics!” So I love that you’re saying that.

Magdalena Wszelaki 21:16

I mean, rolling—the rolling techniques and stuff—I think that works too. I’ve had a number of people tell me that that works too. There are blocking techniques and all that. But anyway, just doing the brushing while you’re doing everything else totally works. Should we do the breast massage thing?

Dr. Jill 21:32 

Yes, let’s do it.

Magdalena Wszelaki 21:36

By the way, it’s on our website, and it also comes in a little brochure.

Dr. Jill 21:41

Say your website, and we’ll be sure and link it. We’ll say this a couple of times. What’s your website?

Magdalena Wszelaki 21:46

It’s on wellena.com. Look for a product called ‘Happy Sisters.’ This is what we’re going to be showing. What I’m going to show you, you can do this in the shower when you’re all lathered up with nice soap—non-toxic soap; something like castile soap. Or you can do that with the cream afterward. So it’s really up to you. You can do it first thing in the morning or at night just before going to bed. There is no hard-and-fast rule on that.

Magdalena Wszelaki 22:19

So here’s the way to do a lymphatic massage. The first thing you want to do is lift up your arm. Think of it like this is your exit point; this is your exit sign. [pointing to the axilla] You want the junk to come out of this. You start off with the nipple and then you go down and then up. We start off with one point and then another, just systematically. As you can see here, I started from this point, went to this point, and now I’m up on this point here. You don’t want to be pushing it down or sideways. You want to be pushing it out so that it exits this way. And I’m using the same way here. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 23:00

Now, in terms of the pressure, you don’t have to put a lot of pressure on it. Think of it this way: It’s like you have these pipes here; if you had honey flowing through them, if you pressed too hard on them, it wouldn’t flow. So it’s just hard enough to get things going, but it doesn’t have to be extremely hard. Plus, you really don’t want to hurt yourself. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 23:23

It’s supposed to be pleasurable and self-nourishing in that way. That’s really all you have to do. Just do one round, and then you can do another round on the other side. Using anything that is oily or that is slippery is going to be just a fantastic way of moving the lymphatic system in your breasts. It’s really that simple.

Dr. Jill 23:42

That’s so simple and so easy, and I’m glad you actually demonstrated it because women are like, “Oh, I don’t know what to do.” Even with the breast self-examinations, it’s so common for women to be like: “Oh, I’m afraid. I don’t know what to do.” And it’s really not that difficult. 

Dr. Jill 23:54

It’s so relevant to breast cancer because in my case, what they do is take out the tumor, then put dye and radioactive material in the tumor site and check to see where it flows. And guess what? It flows to the lymph nodes. So in my case, they took samples of the lymph nodes that lit up from the radioactive dye and materials so they could see exactly where the flow of that cancer might have been. And it was literally in my armpit. I have a scar right across my armpit here, where they took out four lymph nodes. And of course, thank goodness they were negative. But this is very relevant to cancer as well because if this lymphatic system had been working, I might not have had cancer at 25 because it would have drained the cells and debris. Often, the debris hanging around can cause damage over time as well.

Magdalena Wszelaki 24:40

I will also say that this is the month of October, and we’re doing this. It’s the month of so-called “breast cancer awareness.” I don’t know how you feel about this, but it drives me crazy, and I really have a challenge with the naming or the convention of this because we are well aware that breast cancer is an issue amongst women. If you look at the traditional ways of looking at this, they [say that] the reasons for breast cancer are unknown. Well, it is actually very well known for a lot of different types of cancer, especially the estrogen receptor-positive [type], which is the most common one, and there’s a body of research that shows otherwise. So at Wellena, we decided to call this month, really, “the breast health month” to start paying attention, not only in the month of October but beyond, that if you take care of your breasts now… 

Magdalena Wszelaki 25:29

You know, cancer doesn’t develop just like that, right? It’s the same as in your case; there was probably a progression of 10–15 years when it happened. And given my family history too, we have a joke in our family that no woman has a uterus after 50 because everybody [has] had endometrial cancer, uterine cancer, or ovarian cancer. That just runs across my family on both sides of my parents. I’m turning 50 on January 5th of next year, so it’s just a couple of months away. I’m very determined to hold on to my uterus above that age. I’m pretty much set on that. So do your work now. Do it as a preventative measure. Start massaging your breasts. We call them ‘your sisters.’ Be good to your sisters, and you’re going to have much more confidence and calmness around your breast health.

Dr. Jill 26:23

I love this! And I love empowering women because that’s the truth; we don’t have to fear all that kind of stuff that could happen because we do have a lot of control. I want to talk about a cream that you developed and what people can do with it. But real quick, what about foods or herbs? Are there any specifics you want to share [about] the kinds of things women could import into their diets?—because you have a whole cookbook on this. So [please mention] foods and then any herbs that are particularly good.

Magdalena Wszelaki 26:48

I do. Actually, I use it to lift up my computer. Overcoming Estrogen Dominance is the book. There’s a whole breast health chapter on that and some really nice, simple recipes—and I really mean simple. There are no recipes that are going to win me merits or awards by any means, and that’s okay because we made them for women who are busy and have no time to fiddle around in the kitchen for too long. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 27:18

Let me just put it this way: A lot of the stuff in the recipes is to support the liver [in order] to help detoxify us from estrogen. So [there are] a lot of the brassica families—the cabbage family [being one]. You will see a lot—in the recipes—of cabbages, broccoli sprouts are amazing with their content of sulforaphane, anything to do with lemon rind, we’re using a lot of radishes, [and] for [having] a lot of bitter qualities, parsley, and cilantro. It’s also an anti-inflammatory diet, which basically means that we are avoiding foods such as dairy, soy, gluten, and eggs temporarily, which are known to be highly inflammatory. It’s just to lower the inflammation [and allow] your body to have a bit of a break and recover from the constant fire that we’re experiencing. Thank you for mentioning that. I feel like diet is elemental. It’s non-negotiable, if you will. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 28:18

The truth of the matter is that we decided to put the product out in conjunction [with it] because sometimes women just need to see some results before they are willing to change their diet. I find that changing a diet is one of the hardest things, whether it’s because we have some kind of addiction to food, because we don’t have a supportive partner, or [because] a family [member might] be like, “Oh, yes, but I want my mac and cheese,” and it’s non-negotiable. So sometimes I think it’s better to make some change than no change at all. This is why I think products can sometimes really help before we dive into the deep end when changing our diet. So, can I show you the cream?

Dr. Jill 28:59

Yes, let’s go with the cream.

Magdalena Wszelaki 29:01 

This is the kit. We wanted it to treat the breasts. We call it ‘Happy Sisters”, and it contains a supplement that has a lot of different herbs that have very high efficacy for liver support and specifically work on estrogen detoxification, skewing the detoxification mechanism towards the 2-hydroxyestrone, the protective estrogen, and away from the 4 and the 16 [hydroxyestrones]. That includes things like yerba santa. We’re using andrographis. A lot of people know andrographis as being “the COVID herb.” [laughing] But actually, like with every herb, there’s a lot more complexity that they can offer. We have magnesium, and now we have DIM in there, we have calcium D-glucarate.

Dr. Jill 29:48

That’s what I was going to mention. My favorites: DIM, calcium D-glucarate, sulforaphane, [which] is from broccoli. So I bet you have all that covered. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 29:53

Yes. That is what helps to metabolize estrogens. We’re also using GLA in here, which a lot of people know as evening primrose oil. We are sourcing ours from borage seed oil because it actually has a higher GLA content. Anyone who’s had breast issues before or terrible PMS, you know that evening primrose oil can help. The cream—let me show you. I love the color of the cream. It’s nice and pink.

Dr. Jill 30:22

It’s nice, isn’t it? I love it.

Magdalena Wszelaki 30:27 

It’s got a very gentle smell of rose geranium, and we’re using, I think, a bit of orange peel in that. [It contains] St. John’s Wort, and we’re using poke root oil. There’s very little research behind it, but if you look at traditional medicinal uses amongst white women in North America, poke root has been used medicinally for mastalgia, women’s pain in the breasts, and PMS for centuries. It is so highly efficacious that I have so much love and respect for poke root. I saw a lot of pokeweed this summer, and I have so much love and appreciation for that herb. When we tested it on some of our clients and team members, just the poke infusion itself, the amount of relief they got from that—not even talking about any other ingredients in there—was so amazing.

Magdalena Wszelaki 31:30

There is Nigella sativa in here, so there’s black cumin oil in here. There’s also GLA. So we’re using GLA—gamma-linolenic acid—in both the creams because we also found that it’s so anti-inflammatory. It helps with prostaglandins, suppressing the pain and enhancing the protective prostaglandins topically, so it’s not just internally. One other herb—you might appreciate that one—is St. John’s Wort. St. John’s Wort taken internally is very controversial, but a lot of people know that it’s like the happy herb. It’s the sunshine herb. It doesn’t interact with SSRIs, so you don’t do that when you’re taking SSRIs. But topically, it will not interfere with anything. It is so amazingly anti-inflammatory. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 32:18

I actually discovered it completely by accident. I was at this really small town somewhere in the middle of Colorado, in Carbondale—you might know that place—and they have this incredible massage place and a store, and they have this local herbalist who was making a PMS cream. I had a pretty bad [case of] PMS that day, and I thought, “Why don’t I try this cream?” I put it on, and within 20 minutes, 70% of my pain was gone. I looked at the ingredients and had the regular clary sage and lavender, which I’ve used in the past, and it doesn’t really move the needle for me that much. But the one ingredient it had was St. John’s Wort. And I’m like, “Oh my God! That is the secret ingredient there.” So we infused our oils this summer with St. John’s Wort. It’s just beautiful. It makes it a rich red color—the oil. That’s what we’re using in the topical as well. 

Magdalena Wszelaki 33:10

So you can use this cream to do the lymphatic massage that I just showed, but you don’t have to use our cream. You can just use anything that is oily, or you can do the massage while you’re taking a shower and are nicely lathered up with some nice organic soap.

Dr. Jill 33:24

This is tremendous! I love your herbalist knowledge that you bring to this and even sometimes the serendipity like your Carbondale experience. That’s just how the universe works I think. I’ve had that too, like, “I don’t know how this all happened, but it’s perfect”—as far as how you got the knowledge and all that. I love that—it makes so much sense—and all the great ingredients to help with detoxification in your supplement. I’m super excited to share this with my patients and then our listeners. Where can people find you and find more information about not only you but the product?

Magdalena Wszelaki 33:52 

Yes. On wellena.com, just look for ‘Happy Sisters”. The product is right there. On social media, it’s with an ‘s’, @Hormonesbalance on Facebook, and @hormonebalance [with no ‘s’] on Instagram. So those are the two places.

Dr. Jill 34:12

Very cool. Stay tuned to my Instagram, which you all probably know, @drjillcarnahan. But what I was going to say is that we will do a giveaway, I think. So stay tuned if you’re listening and you follow us, and maybe we can connect. Maybe we can even do a little bit of Instagram Live and then do the giveaway that way so people can hear you as well and connect to you. 


Dr. Jill 34:35

I love this information. It’s so relevant, and especially personally, I’m so passionate because of my history. If I could help one woman prevent cystic breasts, get rid of the pain, or prevent cancer, I am all in. I was so glad to talk to you today. Any last parting words of wisdom? Someone who’s suffering from fibrocystic breast or pain, and it could be any realm, it doesn’t have to be just breast and hormone-related, but for parting words, what would you say?

Magdalena Wszelaki 34:59 

I think that I would just say, listen to your sisters—you know, I refer to breasts as sisters. They’re your best friends, and just by showing you their pain, cysts, or lumps, it’s their way of saying: I really need your help to figure things out; just come help me out here. And there are so many things we can do early in the game without being fearful or confused about the whole situation.

Dr. Jill 35:27

I love that, and I’ll just say the last parting words here. That’s so relevant to my life because my calling started with breast cancer. It was literally like a calling from my ‘sisters’. I mean, I was going into medicine, but it took me on a whole different route and [gave me] a whole different passion, especially with environmental toxic load, detox, and hormones like you’re talking about. So I have a lot to thank for my breasts as well because that really started my journey and the passion that I have. And it sounds like you, too. So we both have a common story there. 

Dr. Jill 35:54

Magdalena, thank you for your wealth of knowledge. Thank you for being a brilliant entrepreneur and creating solutions for women. I will be sure and link, if you heard about this anywhere you’re listening. You can find links to the products and the information from her. Thank you again for sharing that with us today!

Magdalena Wszelaki 36:08 

Thank you so much for having me!

The post #124: Dr. Jill interviews Magdalena Wszelaki on Solutions to Breast Pain and Fibrocystic Breasts first appeared on Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.]]>
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#123: Dr. Jill interviews Rian Doris on Optimal Health through Flow States https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/10/21/123-dr-jill-interviews-rian-doris-on-optimal-health-through-flow-states/ https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/10/21/123-dr-jill-interviews-rian-doris-on-optimal-health-through-flow-states/#respond Sat, 22 Oct 2022 05:14:20 +0000 https://www.jillcarnahan.com/?p=38859 In Episode #123, Dr. Jill interviews Rian Doris on how to achieve optimal performance and healing through flow states. Rian discusses how to optimize healing relationships between patient and doctor.

The post #123: Dr. Jill interviews Rian Doris on Optimal Health through Flow States first appeared on Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.]]>
In Episode #123, Dr. Jill interviews Rian Doris on how to achieve optimal performance and healing through flow states. Rian discusses how to optimize healing relationships between patient and doctor.

Key Points

  • Tips for achieving flow states for optimal performance and healing
  • Flow triggers may be internal or external, key ingredients for each
  • Optimal neurotransmitter levels may be the reason we feel so good in flow
  • How social flow states may optimize healing relationship between patient and doctor

Books mentioned in Interview.

    The Guest

    https://www.flowresearchcollective.com

    Rian Doris is the Co-Founder & CEO of Flow Research Collective, the world’s leading peak performance research and training institute focused on decoding the neuroscience of flow states and revolutionizing the way we approach work.

    Rian has helped thousands of entrepreneurs and executives achieve peak performance; from Accenture to Audi to the co-founders of Etherium. His work has been featured in Fast Company, Forbes, and Big Think. Rian is also the host of Flow Research Collective Radio, an iTunes top 10 science podcast.

    Rian holds a degree in Neurophilosophy from Trinity College Dublin, an MSc in Neuroscience at King’s College, London and is currently completing an MBA at Quantic University. Rian has led research initiatives with Imperial College London, University of Southern California, University of Zurich and Deloitte. Prior to co-founding Flow Research Collective with Steven Kotler, Rian worked with NYT Bestselling Author Keith Ferazzi, and 12X NYT Bestselling Author Dr. Dan Siegel, distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.

    Dr. Jill

    Dr. Jill Carnahan is Your Functional Medicine Expert® dually board certified in Family Medicine for ten years and in Integrative Holistic Medicine since 2015. She is the Medical Director of Flatiron Functional Medicine, a widely sought-after practice with a broad range of clinical services including functional medical protocols, nutritional consultations, chiropractic therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy. As a survivor of breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, and toxic mold illness she brings a unique perspective to treating patients in the midst of complex and chronic illness. Her clinic specializes in searching for the underlying triggers that contribute to illness through cutting-edge lab testing and tailoring the intervention to specific needs. 

    Featured in Shape Magazine, Parade, Forbes, MindBodyGreen, First for Women, Townsend Newsletter, and The Huffington Post as well as seen on NBC News and Health segments with Joan Lunden, Dr. Jill is a media must-have. Her YouTube channel and podcast features live interviews with the healthcare world’s most respected names. 

    A popular inspirational speaker and prolific writer, she shares her knowledge of hope, health, and healing live on stage and through newsletters, articles, books, and social media posts! People relate to Dr. Jill’s science-backed opinions delivered with authenticity, love and humor. She is known for inspiring her audience to thrive even in the midst of difficulties.

    The Podcast

    The Video

    The Transcript

    Dr. Jill 0:13

    #122: Dr. Jill interviews Dr. Tom Moorcroft on Enhancing Healing

    Well, hello everybody! Welcome to another episode of Dr. Jill Live. Today I have a special guest, Dr. Tom Moorcroft. We both love to ski, so we were just talking before we got on here. You’re in Utah, right, Tom? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 0:39 

    Yes, absolutely. 

    Dr. Jill 0:40 

    Are you in Park City? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 0:43 

    Yes, right on the outskirts. It’s a beautiful place to be. 

    Dr. Jill 0:46 

    Awesome! We’re going to hopefully get together this winter, and we’ll do some study of complex chronic illness on the slopes. How does that sound? Awesome! So, as you all know, you can find any of my episodes on Stitcher, iTunes, or YouTube. Please jump in there and rate, review, and subscribe. 

    Dr. Jill 1:04

    Today, it is absolutely my honor to introduce my guest. We’re going to be talking about glymphatic function, probably something you’ve not heard much about yet. But Dr. Tom is an expert. This will really shed some light on complex chronic illnesses. Many of you [listeners who] are out there—please say hello and tell us where you’re from—have suffered from Lyme disease or co-infections [such as] Babesia, Bartonella, or anything else carried by a tick, spider, mosquito, etc. Or mold-related illness—a lot of you have suffered from that, and you know my own story with that as well. But the interesting thing today is that we’re going to dive deep into the brain and glymphatic function. Tom will explain what this is. You might find some new pearls, tips, or things that would help you with these complex chronic illnesses. So please say hello, tell us where you’re from, and we will jump right in.

    Dr. Jill 1:53

    Dr. Tom treats some of the sickest and most sensitive patients suffering from chronic Lyme disease, other tick-borne co-infections, mold-related illnesses, as well as children with infection-induced autoimmune encephalitis, also known as PAN and PANDAS. He specializes in optimizing glymphatic function—the brain’s detox system. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. He’s also the creator of the Lyme Disease Practitioner Certification and Mentorship program and co-founder of MeditationRx, an online community using specifically designed meditations to awaken healing and overcome chronic conditions. Dr. Tom, I always have so much fun talking to you. Welcome to the show!

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 2:32 

    Well, thanks, Dr. Jill; it’s so nice to be here. It’s an honor. And hopefully, we’ll have a really cool conversation, shed some light on some things, and give people some practical tips to help move their healing forward. 

    Dr. Jill 2:43 

    Yes, I know that we will, and I’m so excited to talk to you. We recently both spoke at the ISEAI conference, and you gave great information. So let’s start. I always love to start with: How did you get here? How did you get into this? Tell us a little bit about your story and your own journey. Because often—as we talked [about] before we got on—this sheds a light and brings that passion and purpose to our lives, even though sometimes it’s through suffering, right? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 3:07 

    Right, yes. Sometimes through that suffering, we get the greatest learning and greatest calling, we realize. I was actually at the University of Vermont. I just loved playing outside—hiking and skiing and all the good stuff that we always talk about. I was on a wilderness trip, and I got injured. It was somebody playing a practical joke in a situation where they shouldn’t have. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 3:33

    I was very interested in medicine at that point, just from a prevention perspective, but not really [interested in] being a doctor. The reason I went to school was to get into ecology and save the planet. So I was talking to all these adults who were my age and older. We were doing the research, and every time I talked to people, they were lame; they just wanted to talk about research and not actually take real action. So I said to myself, “Who will take real action?” It’s the kids. Kids get passionate, and then you can change the way they act for the rest of their lives. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 4:07

    So I went to the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. I think they changed their name to the Cary Institute. Basically, I went there to teach alter[native] education, and I learned how to do it better so that I can really work with the kids and get them excited about integrating my passion for the outside into their lives if that was also something they liked. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 4:28

    During that time, my boss found me one day—after being a super high performer—she came over to me and was like: “You’re not getting any work done. What’s going on? I need this in an hour!” So she comes back to my desk about an hour later, and I’m staring at the wall, and there’s literally a puddle of drool all over my chest and my belly. She’s like, “I think you need to go to the doctor.” At that point I was lost, so I went to the doctor and—

    Dr. Jill 4:56 

    What age were you, Tom? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 4:58 

    Twenty three. 

    Dr. Jill 4:59 

    Okay. Yes. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 5:01 

    Yes, super young. So the guy goes, “Here’s your Doxycycline because you’ve got classic Lyme disease,” and “take [it for] 10 days and you’ll be fine.” So I lay on the floor for four days, and at 23, my parents helped me to the bathroom. I had drenching sweats alternating with freezing-cold shakes. But then, 10 days later, I felt fine. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 5:24

    Over the next eight years, they decided—as brain fog, fatigue, and joint pain crept in and ultimately irritability [too], because no one could tell me what was wrong—that I was depressed. Then I was [supposedly] bipolar, and then I [supposedly] had ADHD. And then ultimately, my favorite was… I went to my primary, I said: “Look, I’ve done all the meds, I’ve done everything you guys have asked for the last five and a half years. Please help me.” And I said, “I have brain fog, fatigue, and horrible joint and muscle pain, and I need help.” And he goes: “I know! You have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.” I was just like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

    Dr. Jill 6:01 

    They’re all labels, right? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 6:03

    Labels. It didn’t give me a new way to figure out how to get better or even what the underlying cause was. So I kind of just gave up on everything and I went inside. I was in medical school at this point because I had switched a little with my own health. I was like, “I’ve got to look into this.” And somebody gave me a yoga DVD one day. So I just looked at it and really dove deep into Ashtanga yoga. I started to notice that my body hurt less as I started to stretch gently. And granted, guys, I could only touch my kneecaps. That’s pretty pathetic, right? I had been an athlete until all this happened. But still, that was way tight. But anyway, Jill, in the end, my brain couldn’t calm down until I did six or eight months of yoga. Then I could sit and I could start to really feel it. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 6:58

    What was interesting is that even though I was in medical school at an osteopathic school, we were, at the time, one of 13 [schools] that had a nutrition class. But it was a pamphlet this big—[showing thinness of book with fingers]. Really, it was like, “B-12 does this.” I started to change my diet before I even knew anybody who knew about diet because my body had said so. So I went into medical practice. I thought I was going to be an osteopath that did essentially cranial-sacral work and get paid to meditate and [say], “Here’s your vitamin D, and let’s get the energy flowing better.” 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 7:27

    But I found one person who had Lyme disease, and they just felt different than everybody else I treated. I didn’t know who to send her to. I remembered back to when I was sick, and I was like, “I’m going to help you out,” even though I didn’t even know what I was doing because I had only been taught the old stuff. That started it. And I helped her. She referred one person [to me], and then the rest of it is just history. You know, you just dive in. I knew how she was suffering, and I didn’t want her to have to suffer for as long as I did. So I just grabbed the bull by the horns, and here we are today. 

    Dr. Jill 8:01 

    Aw, Dr. Tom, thanks for sharing that because there’s so much compassion and love for you, for your story, and for what you’ve been through. Often, as healers, I really feel our souls are called to that. We don’t really know it until we hit our 20s or 30s and find out: “Oh, we’re actually supposed to do this.” But part of a healer’s journey is suffering. It’s part of our schooling [and] our education. And I have suffered a lot as well—breast cancer, Crohn’s, mold-related illness, Lyme, and co-infections.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 8:27 

    Holy moly! 

    Dr. Jill 8:28

    And the truth is, it was so hard in those times. But when I sit in front of a patient and they’re describing their journey through cancer, their journey through Crohn’s, or their journey through mold, there’s such a depth of understanding. Often I’ll shed a tear because I feel them and I know like you said— 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 8:42 

    … right in your soul, right? 

    Dr. Jill 8:43

    It does. And for both of us, I think there’s this passion for [asking], “What can we possibly do to help the world?”—because there is so much suffering. I hate that you had to suffer, but I love that it brings the heart of a healer to your practice and even that curiosity. That’s the other driving factor in your story. There was this clear pattern of this curiosity, like: “What else? This doesn’t make sense.” Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are just labels. They’re good labels that describe something. [But] they don’t tell us why. I love the way you got into it because there’s much more of a meditative, mind-body piece. I love that because I really feel like the next level of healing is the stuff we are talking about. So let’s talk briefly about: What would you prescribe? How would you do mind-body yoga?—those pieces. Then let’s go right into glymphatic and how those two [merge]. When did you discover glymphatics? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 9:29 

    Yes. They tie in so well, and it’s interesting. As you know, I love telling my story because it really motivates people and we can connect. And the other part is that when I was young, I was so connected to the planet—I was kind of trained out of it—being so connected with not just the physical and the emotional but the spiritual and the energetics of who we are. I think that was part of the reason I went through all this because we talk a lot about disease and dis-ease, and hyphenating it. And it was [that]. I was in a state of imbalance. I find that a lot of my patients—I don’t think that they deserve Lyme or mold illness—I don’t want them to suffer at all, but they can also look in and say, “Where was my life out of balance that made me a little more susceptible than maybe my neighbor?” and “How can I learn from that and then inspire others?” 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 10:19

    I had always been more spiritual than religious, even though I grew up in a religious household. And I just wanted more. I would be out hiking [and I would feel] the energy and the connection, the grounding to the planet—I had always been drawn to it. And the thing that was interesting, I think, Dr. Jill, I was type A. I’m mountain biking, I’m racing, and I’m in medical school, and it’s just like, “Pile it on!” because I said I could never calm my brain down. I programmed myself to believe I was ADHD, and I couldn’t calm down. My nervous system was so hijacked by the way I thought and also what other people labeled me, like [what happened] with the ADHD [label]. Yes, I’m not the world’s most focused person, but it’s like a superpower, and we all have our own unique superpower. So when I started to get into yoga, what was interesting was that the energy that was flowing was just not flowing everywhere. And when I was able to open it up and allow it to flow where it wanted to—which also, at times, I had to experience some uncomfortable moments and allow myself to understand that it’s a part of healing—like being able to eventually, in about eight months, put my chin on my knees, [going] from not barely being able to touch them. There’s a lot of discomfort along the way. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 11:40

    It’s interesting. I had a really great teacher. He said that yoga is movement on breath at the beginning levels. So he said that if you’re not able to fully breathe, you’re pushing too hard. And I had never really found a gauge to understand when I should push and when I shouldn’t. I’ve just taken that lesson into the work that you and I do, understanding that sometimes you’ve got to push a little bit, but sometimes you’ve got to put the brakes on, and that gets us to the end faster. And this breathing—it was like, “Oh my God! Now the energy can do its healing work,” whether that’s a Herxheimer reaction or I’m just stretching and breathing into it. Once the energy started to flow, I actually could understand what was just me not allowing it to do its work and what needed to be treated and go away. So I was able to learn respect for the way my body was healing itself and realized my body hadn’t betrayed me; it was really working so hard to heal me. It was my mind assuming it knew the answer. That was more of an accidental betrayal, if you will. 

    Dr. Jill 12:50 

    Oh, Dr. Tom, I love what you’re saying. I can relate on so many levels. The things that come to mind are, number one, the left brain and right brain [balance]. I come from this analytical, engineer family, and they’re brilliant; I love them, but I thought I was one of them. I was actually this hippie, rebel, spiritual, and creative [type of person]. I was in that family, so I tried to become that, trying to suppress my sensitive nature—my right side, my creative side—I went into bioengineering, medical school. It’s very masculine, very allopathic, and very driven. I suppressed this other side. 

    Dr. Jill 13:22

    Now, [on the other hand]—we were just talking [about it] before—I’m writing a book, doing a documentary, [and] I’m becoming much more [of] a creative artist. We were just talking about creating space for that too, right? And that’s my true nature. But it’s actually this combination because in medical school—I don’t know about you, but it sounds like our experience is similar—it’s so driven by the analytical left mind that you start to not trust your intuition, and you start to lose touch with your spiritual self. 

    Dr. Jill 13:43

    As I’ve gotten reacquainted with that part of myself and [have] become more kind to that part of myself—instead of saying, “Shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about”—and [as I’m] integrating these right and left parts, I have much more wisdom to help patients. I have so much more healing within myself. And I hear that in your same journey—how you touched base with nature, how you were so connected. I feel that too, and I think that’s the spiritual, right brain, creative part of ourselves. But there’s wisdom there, right? And we kind of say, “Because that’s not medicine, that’s not wise.” But the truth is that those two together breathe brilliance as far as solutions [go]. So that’s number one. 

    Dr. Jill 14:18

    Number two, I hear you saying, like me, we’re driven, we’re pushing, and we’re putting the sympathetic system in a tone that’s way up here. If it’s a scale of 0–10, we’re at 9 all the time. That will literally completely suppress our immune system. And our limbic system is completely [in] fight or flight [mode] all of the time; we can’t heal there. What you’re talking about is the same path I found to healing; it’s like going down. But what happens is that if you have old trauma, old pain, or old suffering when you’re in a high state of 9 out of 10, you just suppress that; you don’t feel it. I didn’t have anger, I didn’t have sadness for years, and I didn’t have pain. 

    Dr. Jill 14:51

    But when you start to downlevel, whether it’s [through] yoga or meditation or sitting with yourself or being quiet or being in nature, this stuff bubbles up, right?—and it’s uncomfortable. So we have to be okay with a level of not only uncertainty but [also being] uncomfortable—anger and sadness and all these emotions. But as we do that, it’s almost like the kindest thing we can do to our body because it’s [like] saying, “I trust you to be okay even if it’s sad, even if it’s painful, even if it’s hard.” And our body, literally, our soul, will respond by helping us heal.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 15:23 

    It’s so true. It’s interesting because as we keep trying to steer ourselves toward the glymphatics, which this whole conversation actually does, one of the things that comes up so much for me is the fight, flight, or freeze mechanism when we talk about safety in the limbic system. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 15:38

    What’s interesting is that in my life, when there’s [been] a big change, a lot of times I’ve taken the time and done everything right. Even the other day, I didn’t sleep. I don’t have sleep issues; I sleep great. But I was up all night, and I was like, “What just happened?!” I was a little irritable the next day. My wife goes to me [and says], “Every time you get really close and you do some deep work, this happens.” A lot of people experience this right as they’re about to make this huge shift—something really big blocks their way. I’ve heard it described in many ways. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 16:12

    But I love the safety conversation because if we can’t understand that we’re safe, we can’t heal. And the areas of the brain that allow us to understand that we’re safe are also ones that Lyme has been shown to negatively impact. Lyme can physically put you in this unsafe zone—and I would be willing to bet that things like Bartonella and even mycotoxins [can do the same]. If we did enough SPECT scans, we’d find that out. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 16:36

    But I was thinking about this a lot. It’s almost like self-sabotaging. Why does it happen so frequently in our people? And why does the community talk a lot about this illness mentality? What I realize is that a lot of it is about familiarity and unfamiliarity. [For example], our kids want to watch the same show over and over. They want to watch the same movie. They want to listen to the same music, and the adults are like, “Oh my God!” But it’s familiar, so it’s safe. That’s just a normal developmental thing. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 17:05

    So if you think about when I got Lyme disease when I was first sick, I was so pissed off. I was like, “I’m sick, and I need to get better!” But as I’m chronically sick over time, that actually becomes a more familiar state than wellness. So by accident and through evolution, my nervous system and my heart even, to some degree, started to view that as safe. So now, when we treat someone and we get them better, they take a big step forward or they have a flair—a Herxheimer type of thing—that is no longer safe. And you’re like, “Why don’t you want to get better? That’s what you came to me for.” But it’s an interesting piece of how the limbic system works with safety. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 17:45

    I always try to get people to work on the things that they love in life and focus on that so that even when these moments come up, they can go back to that sense of love and gratitude. Because, as you mentioned, we see that our immune system gets suppressed by stress, and when we’re in love and gratitude, even if we just have to set a reminder on our phone to get us there for a moment a day, we get that immune boost, and we can improve things like heart rate variability. These are all really important because, in the end, when we go and look at glymphatic function, everybody wants to detoxify, and I’m like, “The first thing you need to detoxify is your emotions and your trauma and all that,” unless you’re in the acute state. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 18:26

    But then it’s like, “Let’s look at how we actually detoxify the body.” As an osteopath, I’m so fortunate; we look at how the body functions. So the lymphatic system is how we get all those toxins out. And in our arms and legs, it’s about muscle contraction and movement. In our midsection here, in our chest, in our belly, in our pelvis—and thinking about even healing people with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s [disease]—it’s [about] pressure gradient changes. So then we need to breathe deeply, which is why all of us are saying, “Breathe into your belly; allow your pelvic floor to descend.” Find time, because not only is that going to calm your solar plexus—which is kind of your second brain area, the nervous system of the gut—but it’ll physically clean things up. But as it tones down the nervous system, it feeds back to calm the vagus nerve, which then gets us into the head. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 19:19

    The way the head drains and we detoxify our brain isn’t through supplements or IVs; primarily, it’s through sleep and deep sleep. So there’s this cool system that we’ve been talking about—the glymphatic [system]. What happens is that there are arteries all through our brain, and along the side of them, the cerebral spinal fluid comes in and moves into the brain substance and actually kind of creates a fluid wave with this interstitial fluid. Essentially, both of these are almost completely water. So it’s the water inside the head. We’re just pushing through the brain between the arteries and the veins, and then along the sides of the veins this water drains. And that dirty water comes out along a lot of our cranial nerves, especially about 30% through our nose. It doesn’t function optimally unless we’re getting good sleep. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 20:17

    So when we’re working on our spirituality, our energy, and our calming, going from that sympathetic—or that really frozen parasympathetic—down to the joy and the love [and the] gratitude part of the parasympathetics, that’s actually one of our best brain detoxifiers and drainers because it calms the nervous system, so we can start to sleep better.

    Dr. Jill 20:39 

    Wow! So this is huge. So glymphatics are the drainage system that is outside the blood vessels—kind of like the lymphatics of the brain—if I’m saying that right. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 20:46 

    Absolutely. 

    Dr. Jill 20:47 

    It’s a more simplified version. And again, it’s draining toxins and all that stuff that’s happening while we sleep, and deep sleep is key. So, Tom, we have a lot of patients who are tracking with an Oura ring or whatever and either aren’t getting a deep sleep or [are only] getting 5-10 minutes [of deep sleep] a night. Where do you start with people who aren’t getting good, deep sleep?—because that’s a big question. I bet a lot of listeners are curious about what you have to say on that. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 21:09 

    Oh my gosh, right. The famous functional medicine response is: “It kind of depends.” It’s very specific. But there are definitely some things. We look at sleep hygiene. I mean, certainly, there are so many [things]. Your bed is for two things when you’re an adult: Sleep and sex. And if you’re a kid, it’s just one of those, and it’s not the second one. So we need to create a sleep sanctuary. For me, cool, dark rooms help you sleep. I have sleep routines. Sleep routines start hours before bed. We want to get off the screens whenever we can. If we absolutely can’t, we want to have blue blockers or remove the blue [light] from our screen. But we want to have a de-stressing ritual. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 21:57

    One of the things that I notice is that a lot of my patients tell me that they have a hard time sleeping, and then they tell me on and on and on about how hard it is to get sleep. I’m like, “What about all the good things that go on in your life?” I think about [it this way]: Updating my operating system. What are those constant thoughts I’m thinking about over and over [again]? If they’re saying, “I can’t go to sleep,” well, then maybe I might want to change that a little bit.

    Dr. Jill 22:23 

    It’s like neurolinguistic programming, right? We say that, and our subconscious is like: Well, you’ve said you can’t sleep, so I must make that happen. And then it’s done; we can’t sleep. So I love the thought that we can retrain and actually verbalize something more positive.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 22:36

    Yes. Think about [it this way]: Whatever is in your head or coming out of your mouth is literally the program that you’re running all day long, so think about what your program is. Tell your doctor and maybe a support person your basic symptoms, and then let it go. We have a patient commitment agreement when people come to see me. Part of our agreement is that you get to tell me your full story exactly that many times [holding up his index finger]—just once. Outside of that, I want you to make a commitment to yourself that after you write it down and we have it documented, you’re allowing it to go because you put it in our hands and we have it safe in our medical record. So it’s there for anyone who needs it. The only time we go back to it is if we need it for medical treatment. And then we go back to focusing on what you want, which is good sleep. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 23:26

    Being the medical school type of person that we talked about earlier, I like to make things really complicated. So then I said, “Okay, I’ve done all this training and all kinds of things, but it’s so hard to get to that question: ‘How do I just get to bed?'” So one of my favorite things to do is really simple: At the end of the day, I give myself three to four minutes, I grab a piece of paper—and paper is obviously better than a tablet—and I write down three wins for the day. I just write down three things that are great. And if I have a really lousy day, I just write out three lessons, because those are sometimes the biggest wins. And then what you realize is that sometimes it doesn’t have to be a big win; it’s just [about] recognizing you had wins. Then what I do is look those over, and then I write down three wins I’m going to have for tomorrow. I think about the things that I just want to get done. And then I just put it down and go to bed. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 24:18

    Everyone’s like, “Why do you write down three wins for tomorrow?” Part of that is because as soon as I say tomorrow I’m going to do X, Y, and Z, your conscious mind starts to say how you’re not going to do it. Like, “Tomorrow night, I’m going to sleep well.” Well, immediately you’re going to be like, “Well, in the past I haven’t slept well,” and “you can’t do that because you’re going to be stressed out.” What’s really cool is that when you eventually fall asleep, you dissociate from your conscious mind. And then your subconscious actually gets tapped into superconscious knowledge, and now you can create this. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 24:49

    Now if you just bear with me for a couple of days and do this, what you’ll find is that when you wake up in the morning, you read them over—that’s 15 seconds, so you spend all of three minutes and fifteen seconds planning—by the end of the day, like three or four, you’re not going to be able to do three because you’re going to have 20 wins for the day, and you’re going to be planning your whole next day. What’s really cool is that you start to see the gratitude build for these little wins because you’re savoring it. It’s like you take a sip of wine, and instead of just chugging it, you just taste it, and you just let all the flavors change over time. What will happen three or four days [later], [is] you’ll feel this lovely energy in your heart. All your energy will sink in, you’ll ground, you’ll take a nice deep breath, and [you’ll] go, “Oh, my life has really got some good stuff in it!” And there are also some bad things. And then sleep starts to get easier. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 25:43

    But sometimes it’s like work. When I did the yoga, or if you want to run a marathon—or for some of us, we want to go from our couch to our bathroom and back—we have to work out a little bit to do that. So work out that mental and emotional muscle. Your brain wants you to heal, and your heart wants you to heal. So just look at it. Even as I’m talking about it, my energy is getting so calm, and I’m like, “I want to go to bed now.”

    Dr. Jill 26:08 

    I love that. And we see what we’re programmed to see. So if you’re always looking for what’s wrong, always looking for what’s going to happen, and always looking for the storm that’s going to come, you’re going to see it. I literally have a friend who’s very negative. Whenever I talk to her, I ask at the end of the day, “What was the best thing that happened to you today?” For a while, there was just silence. And now I’m helping to shift that to: “What good happened today? This is all the bad.” It really does make a difference. 

    Dr. Jill 26:41

    And then, like you said, the subconscious will has no brain of its own. The conscious argument is all of our consciousness, right? The subconscious will just do what we tell it to do. It doesn’t argue; it doesn’t question. Years and years ago, when I was suffering from Crohn’s and trying to reprogram my brain, I would take walks and I’d say: “Every day in every way, I’m stronger and healthier, wealthier and more resilient, younger, and more beautiful. I will overcome all obstacles and outlast all adversity. Things are turning in my favor!” 

    Dr. Jill 27:06

    Literally, every one of those things has started to [come true]. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I’m stronger and healthier.” All the things that I had said really are manifesting. It’s starting to become part of [my subconscious mind]; I can say it without thinking now. And sometimes, when I walk upstairs, it’ll just come to mind. But what happened is that my subconscious just took it and ran with it, and [the subconscious is] like: We’ve got to make these things happen because Jill says it’s true.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 27:26 

    Right! It’s really interesting because there are so many little tidbits where you can play around with this. One of the things I did was every time I came to a stoplight, I would feel my energy. But it was in my body because I’m very empathic. So a lot of us who are empathic [individuals] and a lot of people with chronic illness either were empathic or they get turned on to their empathy, and then they get flooded from outside because a lot of empaths lose their barrier. So it’s almost the edge of our aura is not quite—

    Dr. Jill 27:59 

    Permeable, right? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 28:00 

    It’s very permeable because we haven’t decided how to turn it up and down when we need to. So we have to learn that. And with chronic illnesses, it’s like boom! “Oh my goodness, it’s on.” So one of the things I did was just ground my body and start to be aware of it. But the one thing—as you were talking about it—I remembered was that I would find it great almost everywhere except [for] a couple of spots. One of the things I learned was that if I can just say that those areas of energy that really aren’t me—they’re kind of stuck but they also may be from outside, like maybe from Lyme or even mold—100%, it’s totally cool for them to exist. I totally respect their existence. But they’re just not welcome in my energy and in my body anymore. It’s okay for you to be out in the ether or wherever, but it’s just not [okay to be] in me. It allowed me to really get this thing and to feel grounded because, [for] a lot of us, our boundaries get so lost because we’re just looking everywhere. We’re like emotional sieves when we’re not feeling well. That’s the beauty of it—we can learn to be in that place. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 29:11

    From a sleep perspective, I have people who still have a hard time. If you’re just an insomniac [type of] person because you stay up too late on TV too much, I’m like, “Hey, get up in the morning a little early and go exercise.” Well, a lot of our people can’t do that, so I have created meditations where we have binaural beats that, if you put your headphones on, actually help your brain calm down.

    Dr. Jill 29:32 

    Okay, I love this. I’m totally on board. I love this. Tell us just a little bit about [it] because there are different frequencies in the ears, right? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 29:39

    Yes. And if you want to get to a certain delta brain frequency, or whatever, that is getting you to deep sleep, I like doing simple math rather than the math the people that make these tracks do. But, essentially, you have 14 beats over here, and you’ve got 10 beats over here. These cool parts of your brain called the olives—of all places in your brain—will actually subtract it out and just leave you with four. So when they talk about binaural beats or brainwave entrainment, while listening to this, they can actually slowly but surely bring those frequencies closer until your brain subtracts them down, down, down, until you’re kind of resonating with the sounds, which brings the frequency of your brainwaves down. And then, before you know it, you’re falling asleep. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 30:29

    I couple that with meditation tracks where I’m walking people through. The one that I like the most and that my patients seem to give me the best feedback on is [where] we walk through different areas of your body, just letting them become more fluid and releasing any tension that you have. And then, in that particular, going to bed, I kind of let go of the energy talk, and we just really allow it to be about fluidity and relaxation. And then people are finding that they’re falling asleep that way as well.

    Dr. Jill 31:00 

    That makes so much sense. I love that you do that for patients, and I love the binaural beats because I’ve always felt like those have been really helpful. For me, PEMF mats, some of those frequencies are really [effective]. I sleep well, so I’m one of those fortunate [ones]. That’s not my area. But when I track it, I went from, say, an hour and a half of deep sleep, which is great for seven hours, to all of a sudden two or three hours of deep [sleep] in maybe five and a half hours. So it compressed, and I would have 30% or 40%, sometimes 50%, of deep sleep, which is crazy to me. What happens with that is that I normally get seven hours; I need about seven hours [or at least] six and three-quarters [of an hour]. But on those nights when I get a lot of deep [sleep], I can wake up after 5 1/2 hours and feel amazing.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 31:42 

    Boom! 

    Dr. Jill 31:43 

    Right. I had all that deep [sleep]. Yes. I feel superhuman in the sleep realm because I’ve got that hack. For me, the mat was the thing that really shifted it. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 31:49

    I think that’s so key because I definitely use PEMFs. I have a mat. I’ve got a little portable device. Some of my patients are super sensitive.

    Dr. Jill 31:58

    Don’t you think [of] ‘impasse’? We are probably more sensitive than the average person because we feel the energy.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 32:05 

    It’s interesting because some of my people feel it and they’re like: “Oh my gosh! I’m freaking out. Oh my gosh!” And I’m like: “I feel it too. I can actually feel it from across the room when you’re on it, and your body loves it. But you’re moving like I was in the beginning when that energy starts to move in more natural ways. You’re not comfortable with it.” So it’s that unfamiliar lack of safety thing. So we work in that direction. But yes, I love PEMF. So many different frequencies in the Schumann resonance are—

    Dr. Jill 32:33 

    Yes, that’s the one I use to get sleep—the Schumann. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 32:35 

    Holy moly, right? It’s just like floating, in the embryo. 

    Dr. Jill 32:39 

    Totally! And for those who don’t know Schumann frequency is basically the earth’s magnetic… So if we walk barefoot on the beach or you’re in nature, you’re probably getting some of that. If you love nature and feel calmed by it, like both Tom and I do, that’s probably a piece [of the usefulness of it]. For me, that’s the frequency that gives me the best deep sleep.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 32:56 

    Absolutely. I also have a higher-end grounding peg. I actually take my TriField meter and then all these other millivolt meters. I’ve tried multiple ones [before] and I found one that really works to bring down the actual EMFs rather than just saying it. So I’m recharging myself with the negative ions from the planet every single night. I’m also protecting myself to some degree from the EMFs around me. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 33:23

    Oh my gosh, I almost forgot. [I’ll share] one of my favorite tips, talking about EMFs and electricity. WiFi is terrible for sleep, but you don’t have to worry about it because it’s not about none. Even [with] mold exposure, it’s not about none. I think of it as two things: We’ve got an ability to deal with crap, and we have an amount of crap to deal with; and when the amount of crap you have to deal with is above what you can [handle], well, that’s what you feel like. So we have just two goals: Bring down the amount of crap and improve our ability to tolerate it if we really want to simplify. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 33:54

    From a WiFi perspective, a lot of people with inflammatory diseases, even rheumatoid [arthritis] or lupus, and a lot of these other things, if we took their red blood cells and we did a live smear, you’d see a stacking of red cells often called ‘rouleaux bodies.’ What’s really interesting is if you do that to someone pre- and post-WiFi exposure, if you turn on the WiFi router, you’ll actually see your red cells stack as if you had inflammation. You can actually look at brain wave studies and see that there’s more irritability. But the beauty about WiFi is that the distance is huge. So this is why we want all electronics out of your room in general. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 34:35

    But the other part is for WiFi routers, I just tell people to get a timer so that they can set it and forget it. At whatever time is bedtime generally, you have it turned off. And then you have it turned on a few minutes after you wake up. That way everybody in the house gets to calm down and sleep better, and you don’t have to think about it and remember to do it every night.

    Dr. Jill 34:58 

    Tom, that’s brilliant, because I’ve heard of switches and stuff, but again, unless you have a switch wired by your bed… The timer is brilliant. I love that idea. I really do. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 35:05 

    That’s like eight bucks or something, and you’ll have it for the rest of your life. It works so easily. Thank you.

    Dr. Jill 35:10

    Brilliant. Actually, I have right beside me a professional grade meter, so I actually test these things. And sadly, my house is not wired yet. It’s still WiFi. Fortunately, I’m not super sensitive, but I know I could feel better if I were to do that.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 35:36 

    And the cool part, Jill… I have a lot of people who live in New York City and stuff. They’re like, “I can’t get away from it. I turn my phone on, and I see 75 WiFis.” I’m like: “Great. That’s not a problem because it’s about distance.” We live in a world where we don’t need to be afraid of everything. We could be. But we’re not going to change the rest of New York City. We can just give our immune system and our nervous system a little calmer. And that’s really what it is—little things add up in my experience.

    Dr. Jill 33:58 

    So just to summarize your router distance from your human body, that’s what you’re talking about. So you either have it in the farthest room from your bedroom or you turn it off at night or both. The same with the phone; I’ve noticed a massive difference in sleep, of course, when my phone is off. Nowadays, the high-end iPhones 12/13/14  sometimes still transmit when they’re off, so you have to be really careful. I won’t even go into that. I should put it in airplane mode; I should clarify that. I think some of the newer ones are actually transmitting when they’re off, but either way, at least turn them off.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 36:34 

    Yes. I have a mom who’s almost 83. I’ve got brothers and family members with younger kids and everything. I’ve always heard that being about 12 feet away from your bed is pretty good. So I put mine on airplane mode. So [at night] it’s WiFi turned off on the phone, Bluetooth turned off on the phone, and I put it on do not disturb [mode], and my favorites are only the emergency people because we don’t have regular phones anymore. So I just put it pretty far away, as if it were almost in the other room. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 37:00

    But the other part that’s really interesting—I have a video of this somewhere—we were testing the grounding pegs to see how well they really work. On one of those torchiere lamps with the dimmer, my daughter grabbed the thing, and we got a baseline reading. She walked over to it and hugged it, and it was like 13,000 milli… It was insane. The thing made a noise I had never heard before. So one of the things that we think about is trying to keep the head of our bed away from the outlets. The thing to remember is that whatever you plug into that wire becomes another transmitter. So [I mention this] not [for you] to go crazy and [get] paranoid, but if you have a light by your bed, have it going away [from the bed], not closer. Little things like that [can be very helpful].

    Dr. Jill 37:42 

    I can totally vouch for that because I’ve had a professional [inaudible] just come in and assess, and the head of my bed, which has an outlet that has my lamp and my phone cord charger and about five things plugged into it, was the highest by a longshot compared to everywhere else. So I did the same thing. I pulled the plugs and put them away from the bed. It’s these small things—it doesn’t have to be: “Surround yourself with aluminum foil.”

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 38:08 

    It’s so funny. Years ago, at Mindshare, they were asking for social media haters. And just to kind of send something in, I had done a talk for ILADS about this, and I said: “Look, a lot of my patients feel better.” This is another thing that people should be aware of with sleep because now I sleep great. I’ve slept great for 15 years—actually, no, 12 years. Before I forget, I had 13 years from the tick bite and infection. Eight years later I got diagnosed. Then it was 13 years [of being] symptom-free. But I’ve been 15 years—sorry I keep saying 15; I just realized I’ve been in practice [for] 15 years last week. [I’ve been] 13 years symptom-free. You can get better. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 38:59 

    When I first started to sleep, Jill, I was four hours, twelve hours, it didn’t matter; I said, “Sleep when you’re dead.” But when I learned the importance of sleep for brain detoxification, I started to go on this mission to learn how to sleep. For the first 10 months, I was more tired in the morning. But I started getting [more] energy at the end of the day. So over that 10-month period, I would get better and better energy. And then, ultimately, I woke up rested. But my body had a sleep debt. So if you’re getting better sleep through all the things that we’re talking about—your meditative practice, maybe your supplements or peptides or whatever you’re using, or just turning off your WiFi—you will probably be more tired for a while as your body is getting more and more sleep and wants more and more to heal. So it’s normal to actually feel more tired when your sleep treatment is working—for a while. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 39:55

    What was really interesting was that my sleep had gotten better, and I went to a conference where I learned about all this WiFi stuff. So I go home and turn off my WiFi router. I did not sleep for two weeks. I had horrible insomnia, and it was like detoxification.

    Dr. Jill 40:10 

    It’s because the body is set—9 out of 10, right? Your body is here [raising hand] and you’re like, “What the heck just happened?!” 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 40:14 

    Right! But two weeks later, I felt fine. So then I’m sleeping great again, and then all of a sudden I’m up all night, and I’m like, ‘What?’ And this happened three or four times. Then I go, “Hey wait, let me see if I didn’t turn off the WiFi.” I forgot to turn off the WiFi. So whenever the WiFi is left on, I’m kind of awake. I’m like, “That’s really interesting.” So it’s just to be aware. That’s where I put a timer on it.

    Dr. Jill 40:41 

    Brilliant! It’s the best tip of the whole thing. Well, there are all kinds of good tips—I didn’t mean it that way. But I mean, that’s a really practical one. I’m going to go do that. So let’s kind of summarize. I would love to leave listeners with: What’s the most important thing if people are like, “Where do I start”? We talked about sleep. Give us a little takeaway point here.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 41:02 

    I remember clearly standing in my apartment in medical school at this point. I might have been 27 or 28, and [I said to myself], “I’ve been five years into this journey of just a shitshow of feeling crappy.” I remember really clearly that I saw my whole life in front of me. And I was like: “I’ve got two choices. What I feel like [doing] right now is giving up and just crawling in a hole. Or I just say, ‘I already feel that way, and there is no way in hell I’m not making it to my dreams.'” I was newly married. I wanted a family. I loved playing outside, and all those things seem to be going away for me. The moment I said it was more important to me to focus on what I wanted than describing my illness… 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 41:51

    I’m never going to forget about my illness, right? It’s there. We’re not pretending it doesn’t exist. In fact, that tells me where my biggest growth potential is. But I clearly remember the exact moment that… Just like with my wife, the second that we knew that we were meant to be together, it was the exact same moment for both of us. When we talk about quantum leaps in healing or quantum leaps in anything, I think the quantum leap is more the instant you make the decision that you are worthy of having all your goals [met], that you are worthy of healing, and that no matter how hard it is, you’re going to give it a shot to go there. Because then it opened up all the doors where I learned all this stuff. Before that, I was just struggling. It’s not to say, “Just think about the positive things and you’ll get better,” because yes, that might work, but realistically, you need to do a lot of stuff. But it gave me hope rather than hopelessness. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 42:46

    When we look at the way the brain functions in safety, hopeless is without hope, and when we move to hope and gratitude and just the joy of the possibility, that shifts our immune cell system up. It shifts our heart rate variability up. It shifts our parasympathetic nervous system up, which then allows us to sleep, and then we can do all the stuff we’ve been talking about. But until we declare that we’re personally more important than our illness, it’s going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy the other way.

    Dr. Jill 43:19 

    I love that, Tom. I love it, love it, because you really have to believe that something else is possible, and that belief opens the door to an amazing experience. Even with difficulties, it’s still an amazing journey. Tom, thank you so much for sharing your life, your work, and all that you’ve done. We could talk a lot longer. We’ll have to do this again. But I truly thank you. And thank you for all that you’ve gone through in order to learn to help other people.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 43:44 

    Yes, well, thank you so much. It’s an honor to be here, and thanks to every one listening. And thanks for all the work you’ve done. It’s so nice to be able to have a conversation because you’ve always been such an inspiration, and now we get to hang out and do things. So yes, let’s do it again soon, and thank you.

    Dr. Jill 43:57 

    And the skiing is coming, right? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 43:58 

    Definitely skiing. 

    Dr. Jill 44:00 

    Awesome! Thank you so much, Tom!

    The post #123: Dr. Jill interviews Rian Doris on Optimal Health through Flow States first appeared on Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.]]>
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    Optimizing Autophagy: Could It Be the Secret to Better Health and Longevity? https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/10/21/optimizing-autophagy-could-it-be-the-secret-to-better-health-and-longevity/ https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/10/21/optimizing-autophagy-could-it-be-the-secret-to-better-health-and-longevity/#comments Fri, 21 Oct 2022 15:48:14 +0000 https://www.jillcarnahan.com/?p=38664 What if I told you that your body eats itself on a daily basis? Yep, you read that right – your body really does cannibalize itself every single day. While that might sound a little wacky and creepy at first, it’s actually a perfectly normal process known as autophagy. And not only is autophagy perfectly…

    The post Optimizing Autophagy: Could It Be the Secret to Better Health and Longevity? first appeared on Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.]]>
    What if I told you that your body eats itself on a daily basis? Yep, you read that right – your body really does cannibalize itself every single day. While that might sound a little wacky and creepy at first, it’s actually a perfectly normal process known as autophagy.

    And not only is autophagy perfectly normal, but optimizing this unique process might just be the secret to better health, more youthful energy and appearance, and even extending our lifespan. Today we’re going to dive into exactly what autophagy is, how it exerts its impressive health-promoting effects, and explore how we can naturally increase this self-cleansing process.

    What Is Autophagy?

    Autophagy (pronounced “ah-TAH-fah-gee”) is derived from Greek prefixes that translate into self-eating (auto = self and phage = eat). So autophagy is quite literally the process of your cells eating themselves. Think of autophagy as your body’s all-natural, built-in recycling process that goes something like this:1,2

    • Your body contains trillions of cells. Over time these cells can accumulate waste materials and certain cellular components can become old and worn out – making it harder for the cell to properly perform its duties.
    • When your cells have an excess of waste or defective cell parts, the cell becomes stressed and unable to function at full capacity.
    • In response to this increase in cellular stress and decrease in cellular function, your body releases compounds known as autophagy-related proteins also sometimes referred to as ATGs.
    • These ATGs trigger the formation of structures known as autophagosomes – spherical vesicles with a double-layered membrane.
    • Autophagosomes identify and engulf any old, damaged, or abnormal components and waste products of these defunct, worn-out cells.
    • Once engulfed, these parts are transported to a part of the cell known as the lysosome where they are digested and broken down. 
    • As these cellular components move through the digestion process within the lysosome they are sorted – with junk parts being disposed of and salvageable parts being recycled as raw materials to make new cell parts.

    When you think of autophagy as your built-in recycling system that clears out waste and repurposes old cell parts, it’s easy to see why this process is so crucial. And while you certainly don’t want an overzealous autophagic response (that can create its own set of unique problems) – generally speaking, increasing cellular autophagy can have some impressive benefits for your health and longevity.

    Benefits of Increasing Autophagy

    Optimizing autophagy and increasing your body’s ability to eliminate worn-out, malfunctioning cells can have some remarkable effects on your overall well-being. Let’s look at some of the most prominent benefits that are linked to optimizing cellular autophagy.

    Anti-Aging Benefits and Enhanced Longevity

    In simplest terms, aging is the gradual failure of cellular repair mechanisms that, over time, lead to an accumulation of cellular damage and a loss of cellular function. As you age, your cells simply become less efficient at clearing out old damaged cells and replacing them with new, fresh cells. So as you accumulate more and more cells that are functioning sub-optimally, you subsequently begin to see many of the cardinal signs of aging. 

    So it makes sense that if we’re able to enhance the body’s ability to eliminate old, defunct cells we can essentially pump the brakes on the process of aging. In fact, studies have found that increasing autophagy can not only slow the signs of aging and the development of age-related diseases but even has the potential to significantly extend our lifespans.3,4

    Anti-Cancer Properties

    While the role of autophagy in cancer can be complex, studies have found that increasing autophagy can help combat and/or slow the formation of cancerous cells. You see, when cellular components become old and worn out, the damage can begin spreading – sometimes inducing damage to proteins and even your DNA. 

    Your DNA is encoded with the instructions that tell your cells how to function, grow, and replicate. So when DNA becomes damaged, these instructions become altered – sometimes causing cells to become cancerous and grow or multiply at a much more rapid rate than normal. 

    By increasing autophagy, your body is better able to eliminate old damaged cells and replace them with new, better-functioning cells – thus preventing the formation of cancer.5,6

    Improved Immune Function

    Autophagy plays a crucial role in minimizing inflammation and keeping your immune system running on all cylinders. Just a handful of the ways that optimizing autophagy can enhance overall immune function include:7,8,9

    • Degradation of invading microbes: Autophagy helps clear invading bacteria, viruses, or parasites that invade your body, by degrading any cells that are infected with these sneaky microbes.
    • Activating pattern recognition receptors (PRRs): PRRs are specialized receptors found on various immune cells that, when activated, trigger the inflammatory response to appropriately respond to an imminent threat. The signaling proteins released during autophagy activate these PRRs and regulate your immune system’s response. 
    • Inflammasome regulation: The inflammasome is a specific immune pathway that can either up-regulate or down-regulate the inflammatory cascade – allowing your immune system to defend itself without going overboard and causing tissue damage or autoimmunity. Autophagy is a main regulator of the inflammasome – playing a crucial role in immune homeostasis and balance.

    This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health benefits of optimizing this fascinating “recycling” process. So what can we do to naturally increase and optimize autophagy?

    What Increases Autophagy the Most?

    Autophagy is a natural process that is regularly taking place in the background nearly all the time. But there are some specific steps you take to enhance your body’s ability to induce autophagy including:

    Fasting and Calorie Restriction: 

    Fasting – or the short-term restriction of any caloric intake  – is one of the most effective ways to induce autophagy. You see, depriving your cells of nutrients for a period of time pushes them into survival mode – forcing them to induce autophagy and repurpose cellular components to function properly. And there’s no need to go extended periods of time without food – studies have found that even fasting for an 18-24 hour window can drastically increase autophagy.10,11

    Exercise:

    Regular exercise has a plethora of benefits when it comes to your health – including the ability to induce autophagy. Research has found that resistance training, high-intensity interval training, as well as endurance training, can all up-regulate autophagy.12,13

    Ivermectin:

    Ivermectin is a medication typically used in both humans and animals to treat parasitic infections. But research is finding that this anti-parasitic medication may have some promising effects in treating other serious health conditions such as cancer. That’s because ivermectin is a potent inducer of autophagy. 

    While we’re still not completely sure how ivermectin is able to induce autophagy, it’s speculated that it’s likely due to its ability to suppress a complicated cellular pathway known as the Akt/mTOR signaling pathway. Signaling molecules released when this pathway is activated essentially block and inhibit autophagy. So by suppressing the activation of the Akt/mTOR pathway, ivermectin is effectively able to ramp up autophagy.14,15,16 

    Metformin:

    Metformin is another pharmaceutical drug most commonly used as an anti-diabetic agent to treat elevated blood sugars. But Metformin has also been found to be highly useful in other applications – such as slowing the aging process and combatting the growth of cancer cells. These anti-aging and anti-cancer effects are, at least in part, thanks to this medication’s ability to induce autophagy.

    Metformin can induce autophagy via a number of different signaling pathways – simultaneously promoting pathways that upregulate autophagy while suppressing pathways that inhibit it.17,18 

    Spermidine:

    Spermidine is a naturally-occurring molecule known as a polyamine that is produced by nearly all of your cells, synthesized by the microbes in your gut, as well as ingested via many foods you may eat. What’s fascinating about spermidine is its ability to mimic the effects of fasting – with increased spermidine levels dramatically increasing autophagy. 

    This discovery has made spermidine of particular interest in the realm of anti-aging and increasing longevity – with numerous studies finding that increased spermidine intake can delay the development of age-related diseases, help maintain youthful energy and appearance, and extend lifespan.19,20,21  

    Resveratrol:

    Resveratrol is a compound known as a phenol that is found in many plants as a protective mechanism – protecting plants against attack by invading pathogens. When ingested, resveratrol serves as a potent antioxidant and regulator of autophagy. 

    One of the primary ways resveratrol is able to induce autophagy is by directly inhibiting the mTOR pathway. Upregulation of the mTOR pathway inhibits autophagy. So by down-regulating this signaling pathway, resveratrol is able to promote autophagy.22,23 

    How Can I Naturally Increase Autophagy On My Own?

    Let’s recap the strategies that have the most potent impact on autophagy that you can implement on your own. Some of the simplest and most effective ways to support and promote optimal autophagy include:

    • Incorporate short-term fasting and/or calorie restriction
    • Get regular movement and exercise – especially weight training and resistance training
    • Increase your intake of resveratrol-rich foods such as grapes, wine, berries, and peanuts
    • Consider adding in a resveratrol-containing supplement like Resveramax
    • Increase your intake of spermidine-rich foods like:
      • Aged cheese
      • Cruciferous veggies
      • Mushrooms
      • Fermented soy products (like miso and tempeh)
      • Chicken liver
      • Scallops
      • Green peppers
      • Wheat germ
      • Rice bran 
    • Incorporate a sulforaphane supplement like BroccoBoost Plus
    • Incorporate spermidine-rich supplements like fermented wheat germ – but ONLY if you are not sensitive to gluten/wheat.

    If you need some fresh ideas on how you can incorporate more foods that are high in spermidine and resveratrol, you can head over and check out my recipe library right here. And if you’re interested in trying out these autophagy-boosting supplements, you can get 10% off your first order through my online store by clicking right here.

    So, How Important Is Enhancing Autophagy Really?

    Autophagy is a crucial process – we literally can’t survive for long without it. And finding ways to support and promote optimal autophagy can have some impressive health benefits. But at the end of the day, enhancing autophagy is just a piece of the puzzle. 

    Optimizing your body’s “recycling process” is certainly healthy – but you can’t “out-recycle” less-than-ideal lifestyle choices. Creating a well-rounded foundation of well-being through the way you eat, move, sleep, think, and interact with the world is the key to vibrant health and longevity. 

    If you need some help creating or solidifying those foundational lifestyle habits and choices, I can help. I’ve got tons of helpful, practical, and science-backed resources available for you on my blog and on my YouTube channel. And be sure to subscribe to my weekly email newsletter so you’re the first to know when new content is released. All you have to do is enter your name and email address in the form below.

    Now it’s time to hear from you. Were you surprised to learn just how important autophagy really is? What steps are you taking to optimize autophagy? Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments below!

    Resources:

    1. Autophagy: cellular and molecular mechanisms – PMC (nih.gov)
    2. Autophagy: Definition, Process, Fasting & Signs (clevelandclinic.org)
    3. Autophagy – An Emerging Anti-Aging Mechanism – PMC (nih.gov)
    4. Spermidine delays aging in humans – PMC (nih.gov)
    5. The Roles of Autophagy in Cancer – PMC (nih.gov)
    6. Autophagy in cancer: moving from understanding mechanism to improving therapy responses in patients | Cell Death & Differentiation (nature.com)
    7. Autophagy in the Immune System and in Malignancy | Bio-Rad (bio-rad-antibodies.com)
    8. Autophagy and the Immune Response | SpringerLink
    9. Targeting Autophagy to Overcome Human Diseases – PMC (nih.gov)
    10. Autophagy: Definition, Process, Fasting & Signs (clevelandclinic.org)
    11. Short-term fasting induces profound neuronal autophagy – PMC (nih.gov)
    12. Autophagy-Dependent Beneficial Effects of Exercise – PMC (nih.gov)
    13. Frontiers | Effects of Physical Exercise on Autophagy and Apoptosis in Aged Brain: Human and Animal Studies (frontiersin.org)
    14. The PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway regulates autophagy to induce apoptosis of alveolar epithelial cells in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease caused by PM2.5 particulate matter – PMC (nih.gov)
    15. Ivermectin Induces Cytostatic Autophagy by Blocking the PAK1/Akt Axis in Breast Cancer | Cancer Research | American Association for Cancer Research (aacrjournals.org)
    16. Ivermectin induces autophagy-mediated cell death through the AKT/mTOR signaling pathway in glioma cells – PMC (nih.gov)
    17. The effects of metformin on autophagy – ScienceDirect
    18. The effects of metformin on autophagy – PubMed (nih.gov)
    19. Spermidine: a physiological autophagy inducer acting as an anti-aging vitamin in humans? – PMC (nih.gov)
    20. Spermidine delays aging in humans – PMC (nih.gov)
    21. Higher spermidine intake is linked to lower mortality: a prospective population-based study – PubMed (nih.gov)
    22. Resveratrol As A Natural Regulator Of Autophagy For Prevention And Treatment Of Cancer – PMC (nih.gov)
    23. Resveratrol induces autophagy by directly inhibiting mTOR through ATP competition – PubMed (nih.gov)
    The post Optimizing Autophagy: Could It Be the Secret to Better Health and Longevity? first appeared on Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.]]>
    https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/10/21/optimizing-autophagy-could-it-be-the-secret-to-better-health-and-longevity/feed/ 4
    #122: Dr. Jill interviews Dr. Tom Moorcroft on Enhancing Healing https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/10/13/122-dr-jill-interviews-dr-tom-moorcroft-on-enhancing-healing/ https://www.jillcarnahan.com/2022/10/13/122-dr-jill-interviews-dr-tom-moorcroft-on-enhancing-healing/#respond Fri, 14 Oct 2022 05:05:56 +0000 https://www.jillcarnahan.com/?p=38850 In episode #122 Dr. Jill interviews Dr. Tom Moorcroft on Enhancing Healing through Glymphatic Function of the Brain in Lyme disease, mold-related illness and other complex Chronic disease

    The post #122: Dr. Jill interviews Dr. Tom Moorcroft on Enhancing Healing first appeared on Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD.]]>
    In episode #122 Dr. Jill interviews Dr. Tom Moorcroft on Enhancing Healing through Glymphatic Function of the Brain in Lyme disease, mold-related illness and other complex Chronic disease

    Key Points

    • How meditation and breathwork may rewire the brain and optimize healing by impacting our brain’s energy and detoxification
    • Why getting adequate deep sleep is the most powerful step in healing and how to get more of it
    • How love and gratitude rewire the brain to look for healing opportunities

    The Guest

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft
    https://tommoorcroft.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/OriginsOfHealth/
    https://www.instagram.com/drtommoorcroft/

    Dr. Tom treats some of the sickest, most sensitive patients suffering from chronic Lyme disease, tick-borne co-infections, mold illness as well as children with infection-induced autoimmune encephalitis (PANS/PANDAS) and specializes in optimizing glymphatic function – the brain’s detoxification system.

    He is the creator of the Lyme Disease Practitioner Certification and Mentorship program and co-founder of MeditationRx, an online community using specifically designed meditations to awaken healing and overcome chronic conditions.

    Dr. Jill

    Dr. Jill Carnahan is Your Functional Medicine Expert® dually board certified in Family Medicine for ten years and in Integrative Holistic Medicine since 2015. She is the Medical Director of Flatiron Functional Medicine, a widely sought-after practice with a broad range of clinical services including functional medical protocols, nutritional consultations, chiropractic therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy. As a survivor of breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, and toxic mold illness she brings a unique perspective to treating patients in the midst of complex and chronic illness. Her clinic specializes in searching for the underlying triggers that contribute to illness through cutting-edge lab testing and tailoring the intervention to specific needs. 

    Featured in Shape Magazine, Parade, Forbes, MindBodyGreen, First for Women, Townsend Newsletter, and The Huffington Post as well as seen on NBC News and Health segments with Joan Lunden, Dr. Jill is a media must-have. Her YouTube channel and podcast features live interviews with the healthcare world’s most respected names. 

    A popular inspirational speaker and prolific writer, she shares her knowledge of hope, health, and healing live on stage and through newsletters, articles, books, and social media posts! People relate to Dr. Jill’s science-backed opinions delivered with authenticity, love and humor. She is known for inspiring her audience to thrive even in the midst of difficulties.

    The Podcast

    The Video

    The Transcript

    #122: Dr. Jill interviews Dr. Tom Moorcroft on Enhancing Healing

    Dr. Jill 0:13

    Well, hello everybody! Welcome to another episode of Dr. Jill Live. Today I have a special guest, Dr. Tom Moorcroft. We both love to ski, so we were just talking before we got on here. You’re in Utah, right, Tom? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 0:39 

    Yes, absolutely. 

    Dr. Jill 0:40 

    Are you in Park City? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 0:43 

    Yes, right on the outskirts. It’s a beautiful place to be. 

    Dr. Jill 0:46 

    Awesome! We’re going to hopefully get together this winter, and we’ll do some study of complex chronic illness on the slopes. How does that sound? Awesome! So, as you all know, you can find any of my episodes on Stitcher, iTunes, or YouTube. Please jump in there and rate, review, and subscribe. 

    Dr. Jill 1:04

    Today, it is absolutely my honor to introduce my guest. We’re going to be talking about glymphatic function, probably something you’ve not heard much about yet. But Dr. Tom is an expert. This will really shed some light on complex chronic illnesses. Many of you [listeners who] are out there—please say hello and tell us where you’re from—have suffered from Lyme disease or co-infections [such as] Babesia, Bartonella, or anything else carried by a tick, spider, mosquito, etc. Or mold-related illness—a lot of you have suffered from that, and you know my own story with that as well. But the interesting thing today is that we’re going to dive deep into the brain and glymphatic function. Tom will explain what this is. You might find some new pearls, tips, or things that would help you with these complex chronic illnesses. So please say hello, tell us where you’re from, and we will jump right in.

    Dr. Jill 1:53

    Dr. Tom treats some of the sickest and most sensitive patients suffering from chronic Lyme disease, other tick-borne co-infections, mold-related illnesses, as well as children with infection-induced autoimmune encephalitis, also known as PAN and PANDAS. He specializes in optimizing glymphatic function—the brain’s detox system. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today. He’s also the creator of the Lyme Disease Practitioner Certification and Mentorship program and co-founder of MeditationRx, an online community using specifically designed meditations to awaken healing and overcome chronic conditions. Dr. Tom, I always have so much fun talking to you. Welcome to the show!

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 2:32 

    Well, thanks, Dr. Jill; it’s so nice to be here. It’s an honor. And hopefully, we’ll have a really cool conversation, shed some light on some things, and give people some practical tips to help move their healing forward. 

    Dr. Jill 2:43 

    Yes, I know that we will, and I’m so excited to talk to you. We recently both spoke at the ISEAI conference, and you gave great information. So let’s start. I always love to start with: How did you get here? How did you get into this? Tell us a little bit about your story and your own journey. Because often—as we talked [about] before we got on—this sheds a light and brings that passion and purpose to our lives, even though sometimes it’s through suffering, right? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 3:07 

    Right, yes. Sometimes through that suffering, we get the greatest learning and greatest calling, we realize. I was actually at the University of Vermont. I just loved playing outside—hiking and skiing and all the good stuff that we always talk about. I was on a wilderness trip, and I got injured. It was somebody playing a practical joke in a situation where they shouldn’t have. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 3:33

    I was very interested in medicine at that point, just from a prevention perspective, but not really [interested in] being a doctor. The reason I went to school was to get into ecology and save the planet. So I was talking to all these adults who were my age and older. We were doing the research, and every time I talked to people, they were lame; they just wanted to talk about research and not actually take real action. So I said to myself, “Who will take real action?” It’s the kids. Kids get passionate, and then you can change the way they act for the rest of their lives. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 4:07

    So I went to the Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, New York. I think they changed their name to the Cary Institute. Basically, I went there to teach alter[native] education, and I learned how to do it better so that I can really work with the kids and get them excited about integrating my passion for the outside into their lives if that was also something they liked. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 4:28

    During that time, my boss found me one day—after being a super high performer—she came over to me and was like: “You’re not getting any work done. What’s going on? I need this in an hour!” So she comes back to my desk about an hour later, and I’m staring at the wall, and there’s literally a puddle of drool all over my chest and my belly. She’s like, “I think you need to go to the doctor.” At that point I was lost, so I went to the doctor and—

    Dr. Jill 4:56 

    What age were you, Tom? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 4:58 

    Twenty three. 

    Dr. Jill 4:59 

    Okay. Yes. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 5:01 

    Yes, super young. So the guy goes, “Here’s your Doxycycline because you’ve got classic Lyme disease,” and “take [it for] 10 days and you’ll be fine.” So I lay on the floor for four days, and at 23, my parents helped me to the bathroom. I had drenching sweats alternating with freezing-cold shakes. But then, 10 days later, I felt fine. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 5:24

    Over the next eight years, they decided—as brain fog, fatigue, and joint pain crept in and ultimately irritability [too], because no one could tell me what was wrong—that I was depressed. Then I was [supposedly] bipolar, and then I [supposedly] had ADHD. And then ultimately, my favorite was… I went to my primary, I said: “Look, I’ve done all the meds, I’ve done everything you guys have asked for the last five and a half years. Please help me.” And I said, “I have brain fog, fatigue, and horrible joint and muscle pain, and I need help.” And he goes: “I know! You have fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue.” I was just like, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

    Dr. Jill 6:01 

    They’re all labels, right? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 6:03

    Labels. It didn’t give me a new way to figure out how to get better or even what the underlying cause was. So I kind of just gave up on everything and I went inside. I was in medical school at this point because I had switched a little with my own health. I was like, “I’ve got to look into this.” And somebody gave me a yoga DVD one day. So I just looked at it and really dove deep into Ashtanga yoga. I started to notice that my body hurt less as I started to stretch gently. And granted, guys, I could only touch my kneecaps. That’s pretty pathetic, right? I had been an athlete until all this happened. But still, that was way tight. But anyway, Jill, in the end, my brain couldn’t calm down until I did six or eight months of yoga. Then I could sit and I could start to really feel it. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 6:58

    What was interesting is that even though I was in medical school at an osteopathic school, we were, at the time, one of 13 [schools] that had a nutrition class. But it was a pamphlet this big—[showing thinness of book with fingers]. Really, it was like, “B-12 does this.” I started to change my diet before I even knew anybody who knew about diet because my body had said so. So I went into medical practice. I thought I was going to be an osteopath that did essentially cranial-sacral work and get paid to meditate and [say], “Here’s your vitamin D, and let’s get the energy flowing better.” 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 7:27

    But I found one person who had Lyme disease, and they just felt different than everybody else I treated. I didn’t know who to send her to. I remembered back to when I was sick, and I was like, “I’m going to help you out,” even though I didn’t even know what I was doing because I had only been taught the old stuff. That started it. And I helped her. She referred one person [to me], and then the rest of it is just history. You know, you just dive in. I knew how she was suffering, and I didn’t want her to have to suffer for as long as I did. So I just grabbed the bull by the horns, and here we are today. 

    Dr. Jill 8:01 

    Aw, Dr. Tom, thanks for sharing that because there’s so much compassion and love for you, for your story, and for what you’ve been through. Often, as healers, I really feel our souls are called to that. We don’t really know it until we hit our 20s or 30s and find out: “Oh, we’re actually supposed to do this.” But part of a healer’s journey is suffering. It’s part of our schooling [and] our education. And I have suffered a lot as well—breast cancer, Crohn’s, mold-related illness, Lyme, and co-infections.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 8:27 

    Holy moly! 

    Dr. Jill 8:28

    And the truth is, it was so hard in those times. But when I sit in front of a patient and they’re describing their journey through cancer, their journey through Crohn’s, or their journey through mold, there’s such a depth of understanding. Often I’ll shed a tear because I feel them and I know like you said— 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 8:42 

    … right in your soul, right? 

    Dr. Jill 8:43

    It does. And for both of us, I think there’s this passion for [asking], “What can we possibly do to help the world?”—because there is so much suffering. I hate that you had to suffer, but I love that it brings the heart of a healer to your practice and even that curiosity. That’s the other driving factor in your story. There was this clear pattern of this curiosity, like: “What else? This doesn’t make sense.” Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are just labels. They’re good labels that describe something. [But] they don’t tell us why. I love the way you got into it because there’s much more of a meditative, mind-body piece. I love that because I really feel like the next level of healing is the stuff we are talking about. So let’s talk briefly about: What would you prescribe? How would you do mind-body yoga?—those pieces. Then let’s go right into glymphatic and how those two [merge]. When did you discover glymphatics? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 9:29 

    Yes. They tie in so well, and it’s interesting. As you know, I love telling my story because it really motivates people and we can connect. And the other part is that when I was young, I was so connected to the planet—I was kind of trained out of it—being so connected with not just the physical and the emotional but the spiritual and the energetics of who we are. I think that was part of the reason I went through all this because we talk a lot about disease and dis-ease, and hyphenating it. And it was [that]. I was in a state of imbalance. I find that a lot of my patients—I don’t think that they deserve Lyme or mold illness—I don’t want them to suffer at all, but they can also look in and say, “Where was my life out of balance that made me a little more susceptible than maybe my neighbor?” and “How can I learn from that and then inspire others?” 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 10:19

    I had always been more spiritual than religious, even though I grew up in a religious household. And I just wanted more. I would be out hiking [and I would feel] the energy and the connection, the grounding to the planet—I had always been drawn to it. And the thing that was interesting, I think, Dr. Jill, I was type A. I’m mountain biking, I’m racing, and I’m in medical school, and it’s just like, “Pile it on!” because I said I could never calm my brain down. I programmed myself to believe I was ADHD, and I couldn’t calm down. My nervous system was so hijacked by the way I thought and also what other people labeled me, like [what happened] with the ADHD [label]. Yes, I’m not the world’s most focused person, but it’s like a superpower, and we all have our own unique superpower. So when I started to get into yoga, what was interesting was that the energy that was flowing was just not flowing everywhere. And when I was able to open it up and allow it to flow where it wanted to—which also, at times, I had to experience some uncomfortable moments and allow myself to understand that it’s a part of healing—like being able to eventually, in about eight months, put my chin on my knees, [going] from not barely being able to touch them. There’s a lot of discomfort along the way. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 11:40

    It’s interesting. I had a really great teacher. He said that yoga is movement on breath at the beginning levels. So he said that if you’re not able to fully breathe, you’re pushing too hard. And I had never really found a gauge to understand when I should push and when I shouldn’t. I’ve just taken that lesson into the work that you and I do, understanding that sometimes you’ve got to push a little bit, but sometimes you’ve got to put the brakes on, and that gets us to the end faster. And this breathing—it was like, “Oh my God! Now the energy can do its healing work,” whether that’s a Herxheimer reaction or I’m just stretching and breathing into it. Once the energy started to flow, I actually could understand what was just me not allowing it to do its work and what needed to be treated and go away. So I was able to learn respect for the way my body was healing itself and realized my body hadn’t betrayed me; it was really working so hard to heal me. It was my mind assuming it knew the answer. That was more of an accidental betrayal, if you will. 

    Dr. Jill 12:50 

    Oh, Dr. Tom, I love what you’re saying. I can relate on so many levels. The things that come to mind are, number one, the left brain and right brain [balance]. I come from this analytical, engineer family, and they’re brilliant; I love them, but I thought I was one of them. I was actually this hippie, rebel, spiritual, and creative [type of person]. I was in that family, so I tried to become that, trying to suppress my sensitive nature—my right side, my creative side—I went into bioengineering, medical school. It’s very masculine, very allopathic, and very driven. I suppressed this other side. 

    Dr. Jill 13:22

    Now, [on the other hand]—we were just talking [about it] before—I’m writing a book, doing a documentary, [and] I’m becoming much more [of] a creative artist. We were just talking about creating space for that too, right? And that’s my true nature. But it’s actually this combination because in medical school—I don’t know about you, but it sounds like our experience is similar—it’s so driven by the analytical left mind that you start to not trust your intuition, and you start to lose touch with your spiritual self. 

    Dr. Jill 13:43

    As I’ve gotten reacquainted with that part of myself and [have] become more kind to that part of myself—instead of saying, “Shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about”—and [as I’m] integrating these right and left parts, I have much more wisdom to help patients. I have so much more healing within myself. And I hear that in your same journey—how you touched base with nature, how you were so connected. I feel that too, and I think that’s the spiritual, right brain, creative part of ourselves. But there’s wisdom there, right? And we kind of say, “Because that’s not medicine, that’s not wise.” But the truth is that those two together breathe brilliance as far as solutions [go]. So that’s number one. 

    Dr. Jill 14:18

    Number two, I hear you saying, like me, we’re driven, we’re pushing, and we’re putting the sympathetic system in a tone that’s way up here. If it’s a scale of 0–10, we’re at 9 all the time. That will literally completely suppress our immune system. And our limbic system is completely [in] fight or flight [mode] all of the time; we can’t heal there. What you’re talking about is the same path I found to healing; it’s like going down. But what happens is that if you have old trauma, old pain, or old suffering when you’re in a high state of 9 out of 10, you just suppress that; you don’t feel it. I didn’t have anger, I didn’t have sadness for years, and I didn’t have pain. 

    Dr. Jill 14:51

    But when you start to downlevel, whether it’s [through] yoga or meditation or sitting with yourself or being quiet or being in nature, this stuff bubbles up, right?—and it’s uncomfortable. So we have to be okay with a level of not only uncertainty but [also being] uncomfortable—anger and sadness and all these emotions. But as we do that, it’s almost like the kindest thing we can do to our body because it’s [like] saying, “I trust you to be okay even if it’s sad, even if it’s painful, even if it’s hard.” And our body, literally, our soul, will respond by helping us heal.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 15:23 

    It’s so true. It’s interesting because as we keep trying to steer ourselves toward the glymphatics, which this whole conversation actually does, one of the things that comes up so much for me is the fight, flight, or freeze mechanism when we talk about safety in the limbic system. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 15:38

    What’s interesting is that in my life, when there’s [been] a big change, a lot of times I’ve taken the time and done everything right. Even the other day, I didn’t sleep. I don’t have sleep issues; I sleep great. But I was up all night, and I was like, “What just happened?!” I was a little irritable the next day. My wife goes to me [and says], “Every time you get really close and you do some deep work, this happens.” A lot of people experience this right as they’re about to make this huge shift—something really big blocks their way. I’ve heard it described in many ways. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 16:12

    But I love the safety conversation because if we can’t understand that we’re safe, we can’t heal. And the areas of the brain that allow us to understand that we’re safe are also ones that Lyme has been shown to negatively impact. Lyme can physically put you in this unsafe zone—and I would be willing to bet that things like Bartonella and even mycotoxins [can do the same]. If we did enough SPECT scans, we’d find that out. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 16:36

    But I was thinking about this a lot. It’s almost like self-sabotaging. Why does it happen so frequently in our people? And why does the community talk a lot about this illness mentality? What I realize is that a lot of it is about familiarity and unfamiliarity. [For example], our kids want to watch the same show over and over. They want to watch the same movie. They want to listen to the same music, and the adults are like, “Oh my God!” But it’s familiar, so it’s safe. That’s just a normal developmental thing. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 17:05

    So if you think about when I got Lyme disease when I was first sick, I was so pissed off. I was like, “I’m sick, and I need to get better!” But as I’m chronically sick over time, that actually becomes a more familiar state than wellness. So by accident and through evolution, my nervous system and my heart even, to some degree, started to view that as safe. So now, when we treat someone and we get them better, they take a big step forward or they have a flair—a Herxheimer type of thing—that is no longer safe. And you’re like, “Why don’t you want to get better? That’s what you came to me for.” But it’s an interesting piece of how the limbic system works with safety. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 17:45

    I always try to get people to work on the things that they love in life and focus on that so that even when these moments come up, they can go back to that sense of love and gratitude. Because, as you mentioned, we see that our immune system gets suppressed by stress, and when we’re in love and gratitude, even if we just have to set a reminder on our phone to get us there for a moment a day, we get that immune boost, and we can improve things like heart rate variability. These are all really important because, in the end, when we go and look at glymphatic function, everybody wants to detoxify, and I’m like, “The first thing you need to detoxify is your emotions and your trauma and all that,” unless you’re in the acute state. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 18:26

    But then it’s like, “Let’s look at how we actually detoxify the body.” As an osteopath, I’m so fortunate; we look at how the body functions. So the lymphatic system is how we get all those toxins out. And in our arms and legs, it’s about muscle contraction and movement. In our midsection here, in our chest, in our belly, in our pelvis—and thinking about even healing people with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s [disease]—it’s [about] pressure gradient changes. So then we need to breathe deeply, which is why all of us are saying, “Breathe into your belly; allow your pelvic floor to descend.” Find time, because not only is that going to calm your solar plexus—which is kind of your second brain area, the nervous system of the gut—but it’ll physically clean things up. But as it tones down the nervous system, it feeds back to calm the vagus nerve, which then gets us into the head. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 19:19

    The way the head drains and we detoxify our brain isn’t through supplements or IVs; primarily, it’s through sleep and deep sleep. So there’s this cool system that we’ve been talking about—the glymphatic [system]. What happens is that there are arteries all through our brain, and along the side of them, the cerebral spinal fluid comes in and moves into the brain substance and actually kind of creates a fluid wave with this interstitial fluid. Essentially, both of these are almost completely water. So it’s the water inside the head. We’re just pushing through the brain between the arteries and the veins, and then along the sides of the veins this water drains. And that dirty water comes out along a lot of our cranial nerves, especially about 30% through our nose. It doesn’t function optimally unless we’re getting good sleep. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 20:17

    So when we’re working on our spirituality, our energy, and our calming, going from that sympathetic—or that really frozen parasympathetic—down to the joy and the love [and the] gratitude part of the parasympathetics, that’s actually one of our best brain detoxifiers and drainers because it calms the nervous system, so we can start to sleep better.

    Dr. Jill 20:39 

    Wow! So this is huge. So glymphatics are the drainage system that is outside the blood vessels—kind of like the lymphatics of the brain—if I’m saying that right. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 20:46 

    Absolutely. 

    Dr. Jill 20:47 

    It’s a more simplified version. And again, it’s draining toxins and all that stuff that’s happening while we sleep, and deep sleep is key. So, Tom, we have a lot of patients who are tracking with an Oura ring or whatever and either aren’t getting a deep sleep or [are only] getting 5-10 minutes [of deep sleep] a night. Where do you start with people who aren’t getting good, deep sleep?—because that’s a big question. I bet a lot of listeners are curious about what you have to say on that. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 21:09 

    Oh my gosh, right. The famous functional medicine response is: “It kind of depends.” It’s very specific. But there are definitely some things. We look at sleep hygiene. I mean, certainly, there are so many [things]. Your bed is for two things when you’re an adult: Sleep and sex. And if you’re a kid, it’s just one of those, and it’s not the second one. So we need to create a sleep sanctuary. For me, cool, dark rooms help you sleep. I have sleep routines. Sleep routines start hours before bed. We want to get off the screens whenever we can. If we absolutely can’t, we want to have blue blockers or remove the blue [light] from our screen. But we want to have a de-stressing ritual. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 21:57

    One of the things that I notice is that a lot of my patients tell me that they have a hard time sleeping, and then they tell me on and on and on about how hard it is to get sleep. I’m like, “What about all the good things that go on in your life?” I think about [it this way]: Updating my operating system. What are those constant thoughts I’m thinking about over and over [again]? If they’re saying, “I can’t go to sleep,” well, then maybe I might want to change that a little bit.

    Dr. Jill 22:23 

    It’s like neurolinguistic programming, right? We say that, and our subconscious is like: Well, you’ve said you can’t sleep, so I must make that happen. And then it’s done; we can’t sleep. So I love the thought that we can retrain and actually verbalize something more positive.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 22:36

    Yes. Think about [it this way]: Whatever is in your head or coming out of your mouth is literally the program that you’re running all day long, so think about what your program is. Tell your doctor and maybe a support person your basic symptoms, and then let it go. We have a patient commitment agreement when people come to see me. Part of our agreement is that you get to tell me your full story exactly that many times [holding up his index finger]—just once. Outside of that, I want you to make a commitment to yourself that after you write it down and we have it documented, you’re allowing it to go because you put it in our hands and we have it safe in our medical record. So it’s there for anyone who needs it. The only time we go back to it is if we need it for medical treatment. And then we go back to focusing on what you want, which is good sleep. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 23:26

    Being the medical school type of person that we talked about earlier, I like to make things really complicated. So then I said, “Okay, I’ve done all this training and all kinds of things, but it’s so hard to get to that question: ‘How do I just get to bed?'” So one of my favorite things to do is really simple: At the end of the day, I give myself three to four minutes, I grab a piece of paper—and paper is obviously better than a tablet—and I write down three wins for the day. I just write down three things that are great. And if I have a really lousy day, I just write out three lessons, because those are sometimes the biggest wins. And then what you realize is that sometimes it doesn’t have to be a big win; it’s just [about] recognizing you had wins. Then what I do is look those over, and then I write down three wins I’m going to have for tomorrow. I think about the things that I just want to get done. And then I just put it down and go to bed. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 24:18

    Everyone’s like, “Why do you write down three wins for tomorrow?” Part of that is because as soon as I say tomorrow I’m going to do X, Y, and Z, your conscious mind starts to say how you’re not going to do it. Like, “Tomorrow night, I’m going to sleep well.” Well, immediately you’re going to be like, “Well, in the past I haven’t slept well,” and “you can’t do that because you’re going to be stressed out.” What’s really cool is that when you eventually fall asleep, you dissociate from your conscious mind. And then your subconscious actually gets tapped into superconscious knowledge, and now you can create this. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 24:49

    Now if you just bear with me for a couple of days and do this, what you’ll find is that when you wake up in the morning, you read them over—that’s 15 seconds, so you spend all of three minutes and fifteen seconds planning—by the end of the day, like three or four, you’re not going to be able to do three because you’re going to have 20 wins for the day, and you’re going to be planning your whole next day. What’s really cool is that you start to see the gratitude build for these little wins because you’re savoring it. It’s like you take a sip of wine, and instead of just chugging it, you just taste it, and you just let all the flavors change over time. What will happen three or four days [later], [is] you’ll feel this lovely energy in your heart. All your energy will sink in, you’ll ground, you’ll take a nice deep breath, and [you’ll] go, “Oh, my life has really got some good stuff in it!” And there are also some bad things. And then sleep starts to get easier. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 25:43

    But sometimes it’s like work. When I did the yoga, or if you want to run a marathon—or for some of us, we want to go from our couch to our bathroom and back—we have to work out a little bit to do that. So work out that mental and emotional muscle. Your brain wants you to heal, and your heart wants you to heal. So just look at it. Even as I’m talking about it, my energy is getting so calm, and I’m like, “I want to go to bed now.”

    Dr. Jill 26:08 

    I love that. And we see what we’re programmed to see. So if you’re always looking for what’s wrong, always looking for what’s going to happen, and always looking for the storm that’s going to come, you’re going to see it. I literally have a friend who’s very negative. Whenever I talk to her, I ask at the end of the day, “What was the best thing that happened to you today?” For a while, there was just silence. And now I’m helping to shift that to: “What good happened today? This is all the bad.” It really does make a difference. 

    Dr. Jill 26:41

    And then, like you said, the subconscious will has no brain of its own. The conscious argument is all of our consciousness, right? The subconscious will just do what we tell it to do. It doesn’t argue; it doesn’t question. Years and years ago, when I was suffering from Crohn’s and trying to reprogram my brain, I would take walks and I’d say: “Every day in every way, I’m stronger and healthier, wealthier and more resilient, younger, and more beautiful. I will overcome all obstacles and outlast all adversity. Things are turning in my favor!” 

    Dr. Jill 27:06

    Literally, every one of those things has started to [come true]. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, I’m stronger and healthier.” All the things that I had said really are manifesting. It’s starting to become part of [my subconscious mind]; I can say it without thinking now. And sometimes, when I walk upstairs, it’ll just come to mind. But what happened is that my subconscious just took it and ran with it, and [the subconscious is] like: We’ve got to make these things happen because Jill says it’s true.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 27:26 

    Right! It’s really interesting because there are so many little tidbits where you can play around with this. One of the things I did was every time I came to a stoplight, I would feel my energy. But it was in my body because I’m very empathic. So a lot of us who are empathic [individuals] and a lot of people with chronic illness either were empathic or they get turned on to their empathy, and then they get flooded from outside because a lot of empaths lose their barrier. So it’s almost the edge of our aura is not quite—

    Dr. Jill 27:59 

    Permeable, right? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 28:00 

    It’s very permeable because we haven’t decided how to turn it up and down when we need to. So we have to learn that. And with chronic illnesses, it’s like boom! “Oh my goodness, it’s on.” So one of the things I did was just ground my body and start to be aware of it. But the one thing—as you were talking about it—I remembered was that I would find it great almost everywhere except [for] a couple of spots. One of the things I learned was that if I can just say that those areas of energy that really aren’t me—they’re kind of stuck but they also may be from outside, like maybe from Lyme or even mold—100%, it’s totally cool for them to exist. I totally respect their existence. But they’re just not welcome in my energy and in my body anymore. It’s okay for you to be out in the ether or wherever, but it’s just not [okay to be] in me. It allowed me to really get this thing and to feel grounded because, [for] a lot of us, our boundaries get so lost because we’re just looking everywhere. We’re like emotional sieves when we’re not feeling well. That’s the beauty of it—we can learn to be in that place. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 29:11

    From a sleep perspective, I have people who still have a hard time. If you’re just an insomniac [type of] person because you stay up too late on TV too much, I’m like, “Hey, get up in the morning a little early and go exercise.” Well, a lot of our people can’t do that, so I have created meditations where we have binaural beats that, if you put your headphones on, actually help your brain calm down.

    Dr. Jill 29:32 

    Okay, I love this. I’m totally on board. I love this. Tell us just a little bit about [it] because there are different frequencies in the ears, right? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 29:39

    Yes. And if you want to get to a certain delta brain frequency, or whatever, that is getting you to deep sleep, I like doing simple math rather than the math the people that make these tracks do. But, essentially, you have 14 beats over here, and you’ve got 10 beats over here. These cool parts of your brain called the olives—of all places in your brain—will actually subtract it out and just leave you with four. So when they talk about binaural beats or brainwave entrainment, while listening to this, they can actually slowly but surely bring those frequencies closer until your brain subtracts them down, down, down, until you’re kind of resonating with the sounds, which brings the frequency of your brainwaves down. And then, before you know it, you’re falling asleep. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 30:29

    I couple that with meditation tracks where I’m walking people through. The one that I like the most and that my patients seem to give me the best feedback on is [where] we walk through different areas of your body, just letting them become more fluid and releasing any tension that you have. And then, in that particular, going to bed, I kind of let go of the energy talk, and we just really allow it to be about fluidity and relaxation. And then people are finding that they’re falling asleep that way as well.

    Dr. Jill 31:00 

    That makes so much sense. I love that you do that for patients, and I love the binaural beats because I’ve always felt like those have been really helpful. For me, PEMF mats, some of those frequencies are really [effective]. I sleep well, so I’m one of those fortunate [ones]. That’s not my area. But when I track it, I went from, say, an hour and a half of deep sleep, which is great for seven hours, to all of a sudden two or three hours of deep [sleep] in maybe five and a half hours. So it compressed, and I would have 30% or 40%, sometimes 50%, of deep sleep, which is crazy to me. What happens with that is that I normally get seven hours; I need about seven hours [or at least] six and three-quarters [of an hour]. But on those nights when I get a lot of deep [sleep], I can wake up after 5 1/2 hours and feel amazing.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 31:42 

    Boom! 

    Dr. Jill 31:43 

    Right. I had all that deep [sleep]. Yes. I feel superhuman in the sleep realm because I’ve got that hack. For me, the mat was the thing that really shifted it. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 31:49

    I think that’s so key because I definitely use PEMFs. I have a mat. I’ve got a little portable device. Some of my patients are super sensitive.

    Dr. Jill 31:58

    Don’t you think [of] ‘impasse’? We are probably more sensitive than the average person because we feel the energy.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 32:05 

    It’s interesting because some of my people feel it and they’re like: “Oh my gosh! I’m freaking out. Oh my gosh!” And I’m like: “I feel it too. I can actually feel it from across the room when you’re on it, and your body loves it. But you’re moving like I was in the beginning when that energy starts to move in more natural ways. You’re not comfortable with it.” So it’s that unfamiliar lack of safety thing. So we work in that direction. But yes, I love PEMF. So many different frequencies in the Schumann resonance are—

    Dr. Jill 32:33 

    Yes, that’s the one I use to get sleep—the Schumann. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 32:35 

    Holy moly, right? It’s just like floating, in the embryo. 

    Dr. Jill 32:39 

    Totally! And for those who don’t know Schumann frequency is basically the earth’s magnetic… So if we walk barefoot on the beach or you’re in nature, you’re probably getting some of that. If you love nature and feel calmed by it, like both Tom and I do, that’s probably a piece [of the usefulness of it]. For me, that’s the frequency that gives me the best deep sleep.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 32:56 

    Absolutely. I also have a higher-end grounding peg. I actually take my TriField meter and then all these other millivolt meters. I’ve tried multiple ones [before] and I found one that really works to bring down the actual EMFs rather than just saying it. So I’m recharging myself with the negative ions from the planet every single night. I’m also protecting myself to some degree from the EMFs around me. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 33:23

    Oh my gosh, I almost forgot. [I’ll share] one of my favorite tips, talking about EMFs and electricity. WiFi is terrible for sleep, but you don’t have to worry about it because it’s not about none. Even [with] mold exposure, it’s not about none. I think of it as two things: We’ve got an ability to deal with crap, and we have an amount of crap to deal with; and when the amount of crap you have to deal with is above what you can [handle], well, that’s what you feel like. So we have just two goals: Bring down the amount of crap and improve our ability to tolerate it if we really want to simplify. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 33:54

    From a WiFi perspective, a lot of people with inflammatory diseases, even rheumatoid [arthritis] or lupus, and a lot of these other things, if we took their red blood cells and we did a live smear, you’d see a stacking of red cells often called ‘rouleaux bodies.’ What’s really interesting is if you do that to someone pre- and post-WiFi exposure, if you turn on the WiFi router, you’ll actually see your red cells stack as if you had inflammation. You can actually look at brain wave studies and see that there’s more irritability. But the beauty about WiFi is that the distance is huge. So this is why we want all electronics out of your room in general. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 34:35

    But the other part is for WiFi routers, I just tell people to get a timer so that they can set it and forget it. At whatever time is bedtime generally, you have it turned off. And then you have it turned on a few minutes after you wake up. That way everybody in the house gets to calm down and sleep better, and you don’t have to think about it and remember to do it every night.

    Dr. Jill 34:58 

    Tom, that’s brilliant, because I’ve heard of switches and stuff, but again, unless you have a switch wired by your bed… The timer is brilliant. I love that idea. I really do. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 35:05 

    That’s like eight bucks or something, and you’ll have it for the rest of your life. It works so easily. Thank you.

    Dr. Jill 35:10

    Brilliant. Actually, I have right beside me a professional grade meter, so I actually test these things. And sadly, my house is not wired yet. It’s still WiFi. Fortunately, I’m not super sensitive, but I know I could feel better if I were to do that.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 35:36 

    And the cool part, Jill… I have a lot of people who live in New York City and stuff. They’re like, “I can’t get away from it. I turn my phone on, and I see 75 WiFis.” I’m like: “Great. That’s not a problem because it’s about distance.” We live in a world where we don’t need to be afraid of everything. We could be. But we’re not going to change the rest of New York City. We can just give our immune system and our nervous system a little calmer. And that’s really what it is—little things add up in my experience.

    Dr. Jill 33:58 

    So just to summarize your router distance from your human body, that’s what you’re talking about. So you either have it in the farthest room from your bedroom or you turn it off at night or both. The same with the phone; I’ve noticed a massive difference in sleep, of course, when my phone is off. Nowadays, the high-end iPhones 12/13/14  sometimes still transmit when they’re off, so you have to be really careful. I won’t even go into that. I should put it in airplane mode; I should clarify that. I think some of the newer ones are actually transmitting when they’re off, but either way, at least turn them off.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 36:34 

    Yes. I have a mom who’s almost 83. I’ve got brothers and family members with younger kids and everything. I’ve always heard that being about 12 feet away from your bed is pretty good. So I put mine on airplane mode. So [at night] it’s WiFi turned off on the phone, Bluetooth turned off on the phone, and I put it on do not disturb [mode], and my favorites are only the emergency people because we don’t have regular phones anymore. So I just put it pretty far away, as if it were almost in the other room. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 37:00

    But the other part that’s really interesting—I have a video of this somewhere—we were testing the grounding pegs to see how well they really work. On one of those torchiere lamps with the dimmer, my daughter grabbed the thing, and we got a baseline reading. She walked over to it and hugged it, and it was like 13,000 milli… It was insane. The thing made a noise I had never heard before. So one of the things that we think about is trying to keep the head of our bed away from the outlets. The thing to remember is that whatever you plug into that wire becomes another transmitter. So [I mention this] not [for you] to go crazy and [get] paranoid, but if you have a light by your bed, have it going away [from the bed], not closer. Little things like that [can be very helpful].

    Dr. Jill 37:42 

    I can totally vouch for that because I’ve had a professional [inaudible] just come in and assess, and the head of my bed, which has an outlet that has my lamp and my phone cord charger and about five things plugged into it, was the highest by a longshot compared to everywhere else. So I did the same thing. I pulled the plugs and put them away from the bed. It’s these small things—it doesn’t have to be: “Surround yourself with aluminum foil.”

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 38:08 

    It’s so funny. Years ago, at Mindshare, they were asking for social media haters. And just to kind of send something in, I had done a talk for ILADS about this, and I said: “Look, a lot of my patients feel better.” This is another thing that people should be aware of with sleep because now I sleep great. I’ve slept great for 15 years—actually, no, 12 years. Before I forget, I had 13 years from the tick bite and infection. Eight years later I got diagnosed. Then it was 13 years [of being] symptom-free. But I’ve been 15 years—sorry I keep saying 15; I just realized I’ve been in practice [for] 15 years last week. [I’ve been] 13 years symptom-free. You can get better. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 38:59 

    When I first started to sleep, Jill, I was four hours, twelve hours, it didn’t matter; I said, “Sleep when you’re dead.” But when I learned the importance of sleep for brain detoxification, I started to go on this mission to learn how to sleep. For the first 10 months, I was more tired in the morning. But I started getting [more] energy at the end of the day. So over that 10-month period, I would get better and better energy. And then, ultimately, I woke up rested. But my body had a sleep debt. So if you’re getting better sleep through all the things that we’re talking about—your meditative practice, maybe your supplements or peptides or whatever you’re using, or just turning off your WiFi—you will probably be more tired for a while as your body is getting more and more sleep and wants more and more to heal. So it’s normal to actually feel more tired when your sleep treatment is working—for a while. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 39:55

    What was really interesting was that my sleep had gotten better, and I went to a conference where I learned about all this WiFi stuff. So I go home and turn off my WiFi router. I did not sleep for two weeks. I had horrible insomnia, and it was like detoxification.

    Dr. Jill 40:10 

    It’s because the body is set—9 out of 10, right? Your body is here [raising hand] and you’re like, “What the heck just happened?!” 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 40:14 

    Right! But two weeks later, I felt fine. So then I’m sleeping great again, and then all of a sudden I’m up all night, and I’m like, ‘What?’ And this happened three or four times. Then I go, “Hey wait, let me see if I didn’t turn off the WiFi.” I forgot to turn off the WiFi. So whenever the WiFi is left on, I’m kind of awake. I’m like, “That’s really interesting.” So it’s just to be aware. That’s where I put a timer on it.

    Dr. Jill 40:41 

    Brilliant! It’s the best tip of the whole thing. Well, there are all kinds of good tips—I didn’t mean it that way. But I mean, that’s a really practical one. I’m going to go do that. So let’s kind of summarize. I would love to leave listeners with: What’s the most important thing if people are like, “Where do I start”? We talked about sleep. Give us a little takeaway point here.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 41:02 

    I remember clearly standing in my apartment in medical school at this point. I might have been 27 or 28, and [I said to myself], “I’ve been five years into this journey of just a shitshow of feeling crappy.” I remember really clearly that I saw my whole life in front of me. And I was like: “I’ve got two choices. What I feel like [doing] right now is giving up and just crawling in a hole. Or I just say, ‘I already feel that way, and there is no way in hell I’m not making it to my dreams.'” I was newly married. I wanted a family. I loved playing outside, and all those things seem to be going away for me. The moment I said it was more important to me to focus on what I wanted than describing my illness… 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 41:51

    I’m never going to forget about my illness, right? It’s there. We’re not pretending it doesn’t exist. In fact, that tells me where my biggest growth potential is. But I clearly remember the exact moment that… Just like with my wife, the second that we knew that we were meant to be together, it was the exact same moment for both of us. When we talk about quantum leaps in healing or quantum leaps in anything, I think the quantum leap is more the instant you make the decision that you are worthy of having all your goals [met], that you are worthy of healing, and that no matter how hard it is, you’re going to give it a shot to go there. Because then it opened up all the doors where I learned all this stuff. Before that, I was just struggling. It’s not to say, “Just think about the positive things and you’ll get better,” because yes, that might work, but realistically, you need to do a lot of stuff. But it gave me hope rather than hopelessness. 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 42:46

    When we look at the way the brain functions in safety, hopeless is without hope, and when we move to hope and gratitude and just the joy of the possibility, that shifts our immune cell system up. It shifts our heart rate variability up. It shifts our parasympathetic nervous system up, which then allows us to sleep, and then we can do all the stuff we’ve been talking about. But until we declare that we’re personally more important than our illness, it’s going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy the other way.

    Dr. Jill 43:19 

    I love that, Tom. I love it, love it, because you really have to believe that something else is possible, and that belief opens the door to an amazing experience. Even with difficulties, it’s still an amazing journey. Tom, thank you so much for sharing your life, your work, and all that you’ve done. We could talk a lot longer. We’ll have to do this again. But I truly thank you. And thank you for all that you’ve gone through in order to learn to help other people.

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 43:44 

    Yes, well, thank you so much. It’s an honor to be here, and thanks to every one listening. And thanks for all the work you’ve done. It’s so nice to be able to have a conversation because you’ve always been such an inspiration, and now we get to hang out and do things. So yes, let’s do it again soon, and thank you.

    Dr. Jill 43:57 

    And the skiing is coming, right? 

    Dr. Tom Moorcroft 43:58 

    Definitely skiing. 

    Dr. Jill 44:00 

    Awesome! Thank you so much, Tom!

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