Rational Wellness Podcast 030: Breathing with Dr. Rosalba Courtney

Rational Wellness Podcast 030: Gastroesophageal Reflux with Dr. Michael Ruscio

Dr. Michael Ruscio speaks with Dr. Ben Weitz about Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder.  Dr. Weitz gave an introduction to the topic, explaining that GERD occurs in up to 20% of Americans and is marked by the contents of the stomach coming up into the esophagus and creating a burning sensation.  There could be vomiting, a chronic cough, chronically bad breath, and possibly erosion of the teeth.  This can eventually lead to chronic inflammation of the esophagus, esophageal strictures (narrowing of the esophagus), Barrett’s esophagus, which is a pre-cancerous condition, and can even lead to esophageal cancer.   It is believed that the cause of GERD is a weakening or dysfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter that normally prevents bile acids, pancreatic enzymes, and stomach acid from travelling up from the stomach into the esophagus, where they can cause a burning and inflammation of the sensitive esophageal tissues.  This is why the primary surgical procedure for GERD is the Nissen fundoplication, in which the upper part of the stomach is wrapped around the lower esophageal sphincter to help strengthen it.  But from a Functional Medicine perspective, this definition of GERD does not help us very much, because we need to know what the underlying cause and what other factors it is related to.  This is why I have asked Dr. Michael Ruscio to help provide some clinically useful information. Dr. Ruscio is a doctor of chiropractic, a Functional Medicine practitioner, a researcher, and an educator, lecturing all around the world on the gut and thyroid.

3:22  Dr. Ruscio, what are some of the main factors that lead to gastroesophageal reflux? Dr. Ruscio explained that he would like to walk us through a four part intervention hierarchy that will help to codify the different mechanisms and treatments. We should imagine a pyramid and start with the base and address the least invasive and most common items first, such as diet. At the apex of the pyramid are the most invasive interventions, such as surgical procedures. We’ll start with diet, then we’ll go to dysbiosis, the third will be stomach acid levels, and the fourth will be natural treatments that can help to alleviate some of the symptoms in a pharmaceutical manner, such as lowering stomach acid.

5:21 When we come back to the first level we first have to look at food allergies or sensitivities. This may be approached with a paleo or autoimmune paleo diet or an elimination diet and the foods typically eliminated are wheat, dairy, caffeine, night shades, spicy foods, alcohol, and night shades are some of the most common ones. Food sensitivities can provocate reflux and this is why histamine blocking agents, which are often recommended to treat GERD, may be working by blocking the effects these food sensitivities. Elevated histamine levels can raise hydrochloric acid levels in the stomach and this is why histamine blocking agents can lower stomach acid levels.   Dr. Ruscio talked about following either a paleo diet, an autoimmune paleo diet, or an elimination diet and then slowly reintroducing the foods you have eliminated and see what foods work for you and which foods don’t work for you.  There are also other dietary approaches that may work including a low FODMAP diet, which eliminates foods that may cause gas and bloating, which may push up against that lower esophageal sphincter and keep it open. At least one systematic review shows that IBS and GERD have quite a bit of overlap.

10:15  I commented that I know that Dr. Ruscio tries to avoid necessary testing, but I have sometimes found it helpful to do food sensitivity testing to find out which foods, esp. if they are not the obvious foods like gluten, dairy, and soy. Dr. Ruscio explained that he’s not against testing but he tries to use testing judiciously in order to avoid having his patients spend more money than necessary and he’s been able to sort out most cases of GERD and IBS without needing to do food sensitivity testing. Dr. Ruscio also mentioned that a low histamine diet should be considered after other dietary approaches have failed. He pointed out that there is not complete agreement about which foods should be excluded on a low histamine diet,

13:06  I said that Dr. Ruscio mentioned that reflux is associated with high stomach acid but many Functional Medicine doctors believe that reflux may be associated with low stomach acid, resulting in poor digestion/breakdown of the food.  I mentioned Dr. Jonathan Wright’s famous study that looked at patients who were believed to have elevated stomach acid but who actually had lower hydrochloric acid levels.  Dr. Ruscio explained that he fact checked Jonathan Wright’s references from his book and none of his references stood up. Dr. Ruscio pointed out that he has a lot of respect for Dr. Wright but his references were miss-cited and some of the references he cited actually showed the opposite of his position, which is that in studies looking at lower esophageal sphincter tone that gave patients acid lowering medications, they showed a tightening or an improved function of that sphincter.  But while this mechanism for reflux that Dr. Wright cited is not accurate. there may still be some efficacy in prescribing Betaine HCl, which facilitates stomach healing.  Dr. Ruscio pointed out that in the Functional/Natural Medicine community there is an overuse of hydrochloric acid supplements and this can become problematic, esp. for patients who have gastritis, and taking acid can make gastritis worse.  And some of these doctors cannot even conceive of the fact that giving this acid is not the right thing to do. 

17:04  I mentioned that a lot of these practitioners are using this regimen of increasing the HCL tablets, adding an additional tablet per day till the patient feels a burning in their stomach and then back off the dosage. Dr. Ruscio said that he also would recommend against this strategy, but he wanted to get back to his hierarchy and talk about the second level of the pyramid. This level would be dysbiosis. For practitioners who are treating patients with GERD who do not have resolution after diet, would be to look at dysbiosis and two of the most salient forms of dysbiosis would be Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth and H. Pylori infection. He explained that he does not consider H. Pylori to be a pathogen because there is not universal data showing that H. Pylori is actually detrimental. Some data shows that early colonization with H. Pylori may actually be protective of the host, at least immunologically. Also, it does not appear that we can fully eradicate H. Pylori. It’s more a matter of creating a balance by trimming the levels back. But H. Pylori has been documented to cause stomach ulcers and it may cause an increase in HCL levels.

19:42  I interrupted and asked what is the best way to test for H. Pylori?  Dr. Ruscio said that if it is highly suspected, such as in a patient with GERD or a history of ulcers, he will run a stool antigen profile, a breath sample, and a blood antibody profile. With respect to SIBO, the connection is that SIBO is one of the causes of IBS and IBS is connected with GERD. Part of this may be because SIBO can cause increased gas pressure, which can push on the esophageal sphincter, esp. if SIBO occurs high up int he small intestine, closer to the stomach.  Or histamine may be the connection since a low FODMAP diet, which has been shown to help with SIBO, has been shown to cause an 8 fold decrease in histamine levels.  Between SIBO and H. Pylori you can get a lot of mileage with treating GERD. 

22:19  Then we come to the issue of stomach acid and this would include stomach acid being too high or too low.  If patients have high stomach acid, then their risk of gastritis or ulcers or GERD is increased.  Some of the symptoms of indigestion can also be caused by low stomach acid.  The symptoms of low and high stomach acid have a lot of overlap.  There are a few things you can do to try to sort this out and determine which way to go clinically.  The things that would make you more at risk of having higher stomach acid are younger age, a gnawing type of stomach pain, if someone reports a negative reaction to taking supplemental stomach acid, and a personal or family history of ulcers or gastritis.  Patients who are older or have anemia or autoimmune diseases are at higher risk of having low stomach acid and these patients would be good candidates for a trial of betaine hydrochloric acid.  Dr. Ruscio explained that he tells these patients that they will feel better or worse and if they feel worse than this is likely because they have gastritis or an ulcer. And this is sometimes missed and he has seen some patients who had seen other providers who were taking acid and it was making them worse. To put some numbers on this, the number of documented ulcers in the US is 6.5%, while the number of low stomach acid is 2%, though he admitted that we have more research on ulcers than we have on low stomach acid.  On the other hand, we see up to 30-40% low stomach acid in those with autoimmunity. Dr. Ruscio emphasized that the biggest take away is that not everyone will benefit from taking acid and sometimes the key to solving the case is to go the opposite direction.  He talked about a case of a patient who he helped relieve a lot of his symptoms, including gas, bloating, insomnia, and fatigue with treatment of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. But he continued to have this gnawing stomach pain, anxiety, and he would get goosebumps and he thought that this was gastritis related, so he put this patient on a protocol to lower stomach acid, and that was the final missing piece that allowed him to heal.  Also, we need to recognize that blocking acid may have some benefits and patients who have ulcers who go on an acid blocking medication 80-90% will heal by using acid lowering medications for 4-8 weeks and natural agents can be as effective as prescription medications. Dr. Ruscio mentioned one study that showed that natural agents could be as effective as taking omeprazole, the leading pharmaceutical agent (Prilosec). 

27:57 I asked Dr. Ruscio what his favorite natural acid lowering medications are? Dr. Ruscio said that melatonin can be helpful. He mentioned a study that used melatonin, B vitamins, methionine, and betaine. He said that there are two formulas that approximate that. One is Protexit (not sure of spelling) and the other is GI Guard PM from Protocol For Life Balance.

29:12 I asked that since SIBO is often associated with decreased small intestinal motility, and some evidence indicates that decreased esophageal motility may be a causative factor in reflux. Could it be that the decreased motility part of the SIBO be affecting the motility of the esophagus and could this be why treating the SIBO helps with reflux?  Dr. Ruscio said that he thought that this could be the case and this is one reason why SIBO may be associated with reflux. Certain pro-kinetic changes, like Iberogast, a natural prokinetic, in several clinical trials has been shown to be helpful with dyspepsia or indigestion, which often times includes GERD or symptoms of GERD.  Iberogast was used in one head to head trial against Cisapride, which is a pharmaceutical upper GI pro-kinetic. The Interstitial Cells of Cajal (ICC) run all the way through the entire GI tract. Dr. Ruscio summarized by saying that that gives you a pretty good rundown by starting with diet, then looking at dysbiosis, and if someone is still non-responsive, considering direct acid modulation. There are one or two other things one may want to add in, such as something that facilitates healing in the gastrointestinal tract, gut healing formulas that contain things like aloe, glutamine, zinc, slippery elm. Dr. Ruscio said he likes to use GI Revive but there are many similar formulas. For GERD and indigestion there’s a compound known as FDGard, which can help with dyspepsia or indigestion. It contains peppermint oil and caraway oil. I mentioned that I just read an article by Dr. Hyman who said that magnesium deficiency can be a problem since you need magnesium for the sphincter at the bottom of the stomach to relax to facilitate the movement of the food. Dr. Ruscio also said that if you have a bad case of gastritis or an ulcer, don’t be afraid to use an acid lowering medication for a limited period of time.  If you have SIBO and an ulcer, then you will be better off treating both the SIBO with herbs and also treating the ulcer with a PPI.  The real miss is when using such medications for the long term. But if you address these other foundational factors, then the need to use these in the long term is non-existent.  And patients appreciate you as their practitioner being open to both natural and conventional medicine.

Dr. Michael Ruscio can be reached through his website, https://drruscio.com/  where you can sign up for his newsletter, to see his weekly videos, his weekly podcast, blogs, and for his practitioner training program, the monthly Future of Functional Medicine Review clinical newsletter, which I highly recommend. He is also available for Functional Medicine consultations as well as for speaking events.

Dr. Ben Weitz is also available for nutritional consultations at 310-395-3111


Rational Wellness Podcast 029: Anti-Aging with Dr. Christine Horner

Dr. Christine Horner speaks to Dr. Ben Weitz about strategies to deter the aging process using the principles of Ayurveda, diet, exercises and lifestyle.  Dr. Horner explained that when she went to medical school, they learned very little about preventing chronic diseases or promoting your health. She explained that most cases of breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic diseases can be prevented. Her breakthrough moment was when she learned how to meditate and about Ayurveda.  

Dr. Horner can be reached through her website, http://www.drchristinehorner.com/ where you can buy a copy of her book, Radiant Health Ageless Beauty. Dr. Horner is also available for consultations and for public speaking. 

Dr. Weitz is also available for nutrition consultations as well as chiropractic work at 310-395-3111.

Rational Wellness Podcast 028: Thyroid Health with Dr. Holly Lucille

Dr. Holly Lucille talks about Thyroid Health with Dr. Ben Weitz.

1:05 I introduced the topic by explaining that thyroid enlargement, known as goiter, from a lack of iodine was the main cause of hypothyroidism for many years until we started the nationwide iodine supplement program where we added iodine to salt. We saw goiter go away but rates of Hashimoto’s autoimmune hypothyroid skyrocketed.  And restricting iodine intake is often helpful for autoimmune hypothyroid.

4:25 I asked Dr. Lucille what alerts her when she sees a patient in her office that they might have thyroid problems? Dr. Lucille explained that active thyroid hormone, T3, getting into our cells is responsible for our metabolism and any signs of hypometabolism, such as weight gain, fatigue, constipation, hair thinning, and depression, alert you to the possibility of a thyroid problem.

5:35 I asked if hypothyroidism is suspected, what lab tests should be ordered?  Dr. Lucille explained that the reason we run lab tests in the first place is to confirm what we already suspect clinically.  She prefers to be comprehensive in her lab testing for thyroid, rather than just running the TSH, which is what many doctors run. Dr. Lucille used an analogy of a runner running a 440. Leg one is the higher brain center of the hypothalamus and the pituitary that are getting signals from the rest of the body as to the need for thyroid hormone. Leg two is the communication down to the thyroid itself. Leg three is the making of thyroid hormone directly at the level of the thyroid, mostly T4. Leg four is the conversion of T4 to active T3. She likes to run a total T4, a free T4, A free T3, TPO and TGB antibodies, reverse T3, and Thyroid Binding Globulin.

9:02 I asked, just to play Devil’s advocate, if I am an insurance company or a conventional MD, since T3 and T4 correlate with TSH, why do you have to run all these other tests?  Dr. Lucille said that in some of the problematic cases she sees, these don’t necessarily correlate.  These tests allow us to figure out where the problem of an under-functioning thyroid is and how to fix it. Also TSH is unpredictable with age, infection, stress, calorie restriction, inflammation.  Also, there is a big controversy as to what the healthy range for TSH is.  Normal at one time was up to 4, then 3.5, and now many consider up to 2.5 as normal. Dr. Lucille mentioned that the National Academy for Clinical Biochemistry has said since 2002 that the TSH should be between .5 and 2.0. Many studies show that TSH above 2.5 is associated with metabolic syndrome, elevated fasting triglycerides, increased blood pressure and an increase in body mass index.  TSH is not enough to properly assess thyroid disorders, other than thyroid tumors.

10:55 I told Dr. Lucille that I would play Devil’s Advocate one more time and asked, why do we need to do these tests for autoimmune thyroid (TPO and TGB antibodies) if there is nothing that we can do about autoimmune conditions? Dr. Lucille related a conversation she had with a prominent endocrinologist that since we know that most cases of under-functioning thyroid is related to autoimmune destruction why doesn’t he regularly run these antibody tests and he said that because his treatment would not change. Dr. Lucille said that she is concerned that if all you do is place the patient on Synthroid and you don’t do anything about the underlying autoimmune condition, then the autoimmune condition will progress into attacking another organ of the body.  Even though their TSH is within normal limits, such patients will continue to suffer.

13:22 This is why it would be beneficial for most patients to not only see their conventional MD for diagnosis and treatment, but they should see a Functional Medicine practitioner like you, Dr. Lucille, or me to discover the underlying causes and triggers for their autoimmune condition and to use some strategies to reverse it. I asked Dr. Lucille to talk about what some of the underlying causes and triggers for Hashimoto’s autoimmune thyroiditis.  Dr. Lucille explained that dietary factors, stress, and environmental toxins, like heavy metals, can all stimulate an autoimmune condition. The immune system is mostly around our gut, so healing our gut is important in treating autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s.

15:35 I asked Dr. Lucille what are some of the things she will look at with respect to the gut that might relate to thyroid problems?  Dr. Lucille said that she will look at dietary factors and the number one recommendation she will make once she has confirmed that there is an autoimmune thyroid condition is going 100% gluten free.  She explained that back in the 60s they started using dwarf wheat and this is much higher in gluten and it can lead to hyper-permeability or leaky gut. The lining of the digestive tract is only one cell thick and there are very tight junctions and when the gut is leaky, and larger protein molecules like gluten get into the blood stream and the immune system mounts a response to them. This is when the immune system gets confused and starts to attack our own tissues.

17:41 I clarified that when the immune system attacks the wheat it can get confused because the gluten is very similar in appearance to the thyroid tissue proteins and then the immune system attacks the thyroid gland itself. Dr. Lucille explained that this is why it is so important to heal the gut in such patients. If the thyroid patient was born by c-section then they will not have been innoculated by the bacteria in the vagina during the birth process and will not have as healthy a microbiome and the immune system will not develop like it should.  Also, if patients were not breast fed, they will not have as healthy a microbiome.

20:07 I asked if such thyroid patients should avoid foods termed goiterogens, like broccoli? Dr. Lucille answered that patients would have to eat such a large quantity of such foods like broccoli that they would have social problems before it affected their thyroid.  She also pointed out that if you steam such cruciferous vegetables, it will deactivate some of their goiterogenic affect.  We don’t want our patients not eating such healthy foods like broccoli. We not only want the patients to feel better, their TSH get to a healthy level, but we also want to see the antibodies come down, which shows that we are getting the autoimmune component under control.

21:58 I asked what she thinks about a couple of other goiterogenic foods–soy and canola oil? Dr. Lucille says that she doesn’t like soy, esp. since 99% of it is genetically modified, or canola oil for her thyroid patients.

22:38 I asked Dr. Lucille about whether patients with Hashimoto’s should be taking additional iodine, esp. since iodine is often included in thyroid supplements and in multivitamins? Dr. Lucille responded that T3 stand for Tyrosine with 3 iodine molecules, so iodine is necessary for making thyroid hormone. On the other hand, iodine can spur on a Hashimoto’s attack. She noted that she will sometimes test for iodine deficiency using an iodine urine spot test. Dr. Lucille said that if she can eliminate food sensitivities and heal the gut and supply enough antioxidant support like high dose absorbable curcumin and vitamin C, then she can iodine and there does not seem to be a problem. She has been able to recover from an iodine deficiency and not have that autoimmune component be spurred on.

25:20 I asked what she thinks about the halides: flouride, chloride, and bromide that are in the same row of the periodic table and can compete with iodine? Most of our water has chlorine and flouride added and bromide is added to many common foods, including in some almond milk products. Dr. Lucille responded that these elements absolutely need to be avoided since they can attach to our thyroid and block iodine. She believes that this is one reason the rates of thyroid cancer have been increasing the last six years. It’s true that we once were over iodized, but Dr. Lucille feels that iodine deficiency is on the rise again with so many people avoiding iodized salt and consuming sea salt and other natural forms of salt.

27:08 I asked about importance of the antioxidant, selenium, for thyroid health? Dr. Lucille expounded on the importance of selenium for thyroid health and the need for it to convert T4 to T3. She noted that she will sometimes start patients out on 800 mcg of selenium if there is active Hashimoto’s to get those antibodies down and then taper off.

28:13 I said that I was re-reading Isabella Wentz’s Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, which I think is the best book I have ever read about thyroid. Isabella was talking about how you end up with hydrogen peroxide being produced as a result of the conversion of Iodide to Iodine, the usable form, and this hydrogen peroxide will damage the thyroid cells unless you have enough selenium to help neutralize that.

28:54 I then asked what are some other nutrients that are important for thyroid health? Dr. Lucille explained that she always tests vitamin D, since vitamin D is important for optimal thyroid function and she prefers a range of between 60 and 90.  She also makes sure ferritin (a stored form of iron) levels are at least at the 90 to 110 level. She will use a bis-ferritin source of iron along with vitamin C for absorption. Dr. Lucile said that both zinc and magnesium are very important for thyroid function. The thyroid is one of the most nutrient dependent organs. Also, essential fatty acids are important.

29:55 I asked for those patients who require thyroid hormone, what does she find is the most effective form of thyroid medication? Dr. Lucille said that she gets some patient who come to see her who are already on Synthroid, which is straight T4, and if there is a T4 to T3 conversion problem, then this may not be the best form to use. Nutrient deficiencies, heavy metals, alcohol use, sleep disturbances can all affect conversion. She prefers a porcine derivative of thyroid like Armour, where you are getting some T3 along with T4, which doesn’t have to be converted. Some folks do better on Synthroid and there is some speculation that a porcine derivative can aggravate an autoimmune condition. We also don’t want to do high dosages of thyroid hormone. High dosages of thyroid suppress endogenous thyroid hormone production, it can suppress the binding glonbulin and receptior sites can become less sensitive to thyroid hormone.

33:09  I asked which natural brand of thyroid medication that she prefers to use? Dr. Lucille said that for patients who are very sensitive tend to do well with the WP Throid. I mentioned that I had heard that the maker of Armour thyroid, Forest Labs recently got purchased by a bigger pharmaceutical company and they had changed the formulation. Dr. Lucille pointed out that they also increased the price. Sometimes patients can react to the additional ingredients that are added to some of these formulations. For example, Synthroid has corn starch and lactose and some sensitive patients could have a reaction to either of these.

35:27 I asked about sub-clinical hypothyroidism and whether it is something that should be treated at all? Dr. Lucille said that what is referred to as sub-clinical hypothyroidism is when the patient has symptoms of hypothyroid but normal TSH and she thinks this would better be termed sub-laboratory hypothyroidism. We should treat people and not treat lab tests. We should ask, Could this be an autoimmune problem?  Could there be a binding problem? Are we not absorbing the T3 into the cells? Sometimes dysbiosis can create end products that compete with T3. There can be thyroid receptor resistance, similar to insulin resistance.  Dr. Lucille said that by taking a Functional Medicine approach to thyroid, by allowing the body to heal itself by removing food sensitivities, by restoring nutrients to optimal status, and improving lifestyle can allow the thyroid to heal. Your thyroid is your metabolism–it’s your get up and go and when your get up and go gets up and went, it doesn’t feel very good.


Dr. Holly Lucille can be reached through her web site, http://drhollylucille.com/  and she is available to see patients at her office in The Body Well at 7235 Santa Monica Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90046 by calling 323-658-9151.   

Dr. Ben Weitz is also available for nutrition consultations at 310-395-3111.


Rational Wellness Podcast Episode 027: EMF Dangers with Daniel Debaun

Daniel Debaun talks to Dr. Ben Weitz about the dangers of EMF radiation, given off by cell phones, computers, ipads, wifi, microwaves, electric toasters, alarm clocks, etc.  As evidence has been accumulating that there is potential harm and negative health effects from these forms of radiation, the industry has its head in the sand, telling us that there is no problem.  Meanwhile the cell phone companies are having you sign wavers that they will not be responsible if you get brain cancer or some other health condition from cell phone radiation.  At the present time, we do not have the highest level of proof in double blind, placebo controlled studies on large groups of people and meta-analyses of studies that demonstrate that cell phone and other forms of EMF radiation cause brain tumors and other injuries.  

2:35  Daniel Debaun is an expert on EMF radiation, EMF shielding, and EMF related health issues. Daniel has over 30 years of engineering experience in the telecom industry.  He co-authored Radiation Nation, which available from Barnes and Noble and Amazon https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/radiation-nation-daniel-t-debaun/1126406601   

4:00  I asked Daniel to explain what EMF radiation is and what are the mains sources of EMFs in our environment? Daniel explained that in nature there are no EMFs. They are what we produce from electronic products or electric products. They are produced from your hair dryer, stove, microwave, toaster, and your alarm clock. They produce EMF radiation on the low end of the spectrum. On the higher end is the signal from and to your cell phone, your wifi signal to your laptop, the bluetooth connection to your car speaker system. EMF radiation is an omnidirectional form of radiation and it penetrates your walls and has a potential to create harm.

6:58 I asked Daniel about air travel, which I have heard exposes us to a high level of radiation? When you are in a jet, you are surrounded by aluminum and every 6-10 feet they have wifi transmitters and so you are getting exposed to lots of EMF radiation.

7:50  I asked what is the state of the research as to the definitive proof that EMFs create harm to humans?   Daniel explained that we just don’t have that much data yet, since it has really only been the last ten years that our exposure to cell phone radiation has been as extensive as it is now.  He compared the cell phone industry to the cigarette industry in the 70s, when they were still trying to tell people that cigarettes were not harmful.  Daniel pointed out that the independent science shows that EMF radiation is harmful but all the scientific information that is supported by the industry shows that it is not harmful.  Last year the National Toxicity program, which is a division of the Federal Government, spent 25 million on a study in which they took transmitters of cell phones and they radiated two populations–one a little and one a lot. What they found is that there is a 2% increased likelihood of tumors that converted to cancers in the frontal lobe of the brain and in the heart.  The evidence that EMFs are harmful is really starting to accumulate.

13:10 I commented that it is also the case that wherever you carry your cell phone, that part of the body is more likely to experience harm. since it gets a higher dosage. I also commented that there was the study from UCLA where four women carried their cell phones in their shirts next to one of their breasts for an average of ten years, and all four of the women ended up with a tumor in that breast. Daniel pointed out that when a man takes a cell phone and puts it in their front pants pocket, within a few hours, 25% of the sperm is immobile.  Some scientists say that a 12 year old girl who is exposed to excessive radiation to her womb can lead to DNA changes that can affect future generations. 15:08  Daniel pointed out that some evidence indicates that a low level of radiation from a clock close to the womb of a pregnant woman can increase the risk of a miscarriage by three times.  The following is a list of scientific references on EMF radiation from Kim Eabry, MPH, https://www.creatinghealthyenvironments.com/emf-references 

15:42 I asked that, since alarm clocks give off EMFs and many people have them by their bedside, is there a best type of alarm clock to use?  Is there a way to shield your alarm clock? How far away should your clock be from your bed?   Daniel explained that simple distance is your best protection.  If you put your clock four feet away, then there is very little danger. Take your phone and put it into another room. EMF radiation can damage your cells and also adversely affect melatonin production in the brain.

17:55 I mentioned that I believe that the metal coils in your mattress can conduct electricity and amplify a wifi signal. Daniel answered that low level radiation like your dryer would not be attracted to these coils, but your wifi would be drawn to it.

20:05 I asked about the safety of microwaves and Daniel explained that microwaves can damage the food and turn it into a carcinogen and the benefits of the food will be diminished.

21:25  I asked what the biggest health risks from EMFs are? Are they damage to the brain or cognitive effects or cellular damage or DNA damage?  Daniel answered that it is all of them.  It can damage your hands, cause reproductive damage, and it creates oxidative stress to the cells.  It is a toxin to the cells. Did you know that 20% of our population is electromagnetically sensitive–mostly women?  The more exposure we have to these EMFs the more likely that someone will get a headache when they bring a cell phone to their head. Leukemia and ADHD have been linked to electromagnetic exposure.

25:16 I asked about regulations on EMFs that are discussed in his book, Radiation Nation?  The regulation is based on a six foot male who occasionally holds a cell phone up to his ear and the signal could not penetrate more than one inch and cannot heat up more than two degrees. The regulation was based on the thermal impact, whereas the most important factor is the biological factor, the impact on the cell and the DNA and what happens five or ten years from now.  For this reason, the standard regulation is archaic.  And the 5G standard that is just coming in will be potentially even more damaging to the cells.  The impact to a child’s head could potentially be much worse, given a smaller, softer skull and a developing brain. And nobody anticipated having a laptop or ipad in your lap directly over your reproductive organs for hours at a time playing a game with an RF transmitter coming out of the front. That’s how parents babysit their children and it’s not a good thing.

29:25 I mentioned that for the new 5G telcom system they are trying to put cell phone towers on every block and this has created controversy.  Daniel pointed out that your current cell phone signal is a 2 gighertz signal and with the current 4G system you can put up to 10 gigahertz of data. The new 5G doubles the volume of data and it requires 10-50 times more speed of signal.  The Federal Govt. is changing the requirements so that local communities are no longer able to approve bringing in these cell phone towers, just like they are doing with smart electrical meters on your home.   

31:56  I asked what we can do to shield ourselves from the potentially harmful effects of having a smart meter attached to the outside of our home by the power company? Daniel answered that if the smart meter is on the outside of your garage and there is 20 feet between the meter and the inside of your house, then there is little danger to you. The key is having that distance.  If the meter is against a wall of your bedroom, move your bed at least 10 feet away because that meter is a constant load for along period of time. 

34:05  I asked about shields to protect you from your cell phone and laptop emissions?   Daniel said you can’t shield yourself from your neighbor’s wifi but you can use shields to protect your self from the signal coming from your laptop or cell phone.  Daniel’s company, Defender Shield, sells such products. Daniel recommends using your cell phone in speaker phone rather than holding the phone up to your ear. Using blue tooth is an RF signal, which is a microwave signal, so it is not safer.  If you are in your car and you want to use blue tooth, put your phone on the seat next to you instead of in your pocket. At night, turn your wifi off with a timer.

Daniel Debaun offers various products to protect us from EMF radiation through his company, Defender Shield:  https://www.defendershield.com/  You can send Daniel a message through this website.

Dr. Ben Weitz is available for nutrition consultations at 310-395-3111

Rational Wellness Podcast 026: Probiotic Advice with Dr. Jason Hawrelak

Dr. Jason Hawrelak from Australia speaks to Dr. Ben Weitz about probiotics and which particular strain has which properties. 

5:19  I asked Dr. Hawrelak to explain how probiotics can help restore a healthy balance of bacteria in our colon and digestive tract? Dr. Hawrelak said that the role of probiotics is overstated to do this, though there is a great benefit for the use of probiotics in specific situations such as after an acute insult, such as after antibiotic use or chemotherapy or radiation, where you get some massive shift in the ecosystem.  Or even after the use of proton pump inhibitors, which we know cause alterations in our system, as well.  A normal ecosystem is like a parking lot with every spot is filled. But after antibiotics or chemotherapy, etc. there are suddenly all these empty parking spaces.  These empty spaces can be taken up by potential pathogens that we ingest, which is what can happen with Claustridium Diffocile in a hospital. Or it can just be an overgrowth of of bugs that are resistant to the antibiotics.  Probiotics can be very helpful in coming in and temporarily taking up these parking spaces. The key thing to remember is that probiotics or fermented foods are only temporary visitors to the gut.  One of the biggest myths is that when we take probiotics is that they can reseed our gut, going all the way back to Metchnikoff, who is the researcher who discovered the bacteria that makes yogurt out of milk. His theory was that we could permanently innoculate our gut and this would prevent protein putrefaction and slow down the aging process.  What has gotten far less attention is foods and supplements like prebiotics that feed your own indigenous population of bacteria and help them to grow.  We focus a lot on fermented foods but not so much on fermentable foods, which are indigestible carbohydrates (fiber) that the bacteria ingest. These include fibers, pectins, resistant starches, and oligosaccharides. 

10:25  I said that the first thing that comes to my mind is that it is a current trend in nutrition to reduce carbohydrate intake as much as possible by following a lower carb, higher fat diet such as a paleo or a ketogenic diet.  And in this quest to improve our health by reducing carbohydrate intake we may be leaving out these fibers that are so important to our health.  Dr. Hawrelak agreed and said that you can see this if you do a molecular based stool analysis of the microbiota, you tend to see a reduction of bacterial diversity.  Also when you look at the research related to low carb/high protein diets you see a reduction of bifido bacteria and of butyrate producing populations in the gut and butyrate is a really good thing, so such changes are not beneficial. Both your gut health and your overall health can suffer.  Dr. Hawrelak explains that 70% of the energy needs of the cells in your colon are met by butyrate and other short chain fatty acids produced by gut bacteria. By limiting fermentable carbohydrates, you limit this. Butyrate is an amazing substance and when you produce more than the colon cells can use and it reaches the systemic circulation, it can help to heal the blood brain barrier, improves insulin sensitivity, and improves neurotropic growth factors.  You can only get butyrate from bacterial fermentation of fermentable substrates and when people follow a low carbohydrate diet, they do get a decrease in bacterial fermentation.

13:10  I mentioned that those who follow a low carb diet can get some of these fibers by making sure that they consume a lot of vegetables. Dr. Hawrelak pointed out that they should also supplement with ground psyllium seeds or husks and also using prebiotic supplements. Dr. Hawrelak said he likes supplementing with lactulose, partially hydrolyzed gar gum, galactooligosaccharides, and a combination of inulin, which is a long chain fructooligosaccharide, and oligofructose, a short chain fructooligosaccharide.  They all have somewhat different effects.

15:21  I interjected with the thought that for those of us who are Functional Medicine practitioners who treat IBS and send our patients for lactulose breath testing to diagnose this condition and because lactulose will result in the production of hydrogen and methane gases and cause gas and bloating and abdominal discomfort and the all the other symptoms of IBS.  So using lactulose as a supplement is the last thing many of us would think of doing. Dr. Hawrelak explained that he first came across lactulose as a prebiotic while doing research for his Honor’s degree in 1999 and it used to be added to infant formula as a prebiotic.  Lactulose helps to selectively feed certain bacteria, including bifido, lactobaccilli, and faecalibacterium prausnitzii, but it does increase hydrogen gas production, which can then be converted in some into methane gas.  The SIBO breath test used to be used a marker of gut transit time from mouth to secum. But then it was questioned since lactulose speeds up bowel transit time, which is what Dr. Hawrelak uses it for. He noted that patients with SIBO and IBS who will react to taking lactulose, but there are a whole bunch of other patients who don’t have those conditions who get the benefit of taking lactulose. Dr. Hawrelak said that he uses lactulose to decrease the recurrence of ear infections and there are studies showing that lactulose reduces the recurrence of UTIs.  It does that by decreasing E. coli counts in the gut.  Most ear infections are caused by E. coli and E. coli is making the journey from anus to vagina to urethra.  There is also a study that shows that lactulose reduces candida counts by 97% in 24 hours.

19:15  I mentioned that I heard Dr. Hawrelak speak on the SIBO Doctor podcast that when he has a patient that he suspects of having SIBO that he will have the patient take the SIBO breath test three times using lactulose, glucose, and fructose as substrates. This is because lactulose is selectively fermented by certain species of bacteria. Lactulose will not be eaten by Klebsiella,  bacteroidites, or E. coli and we have good research that these bugs are often present in the small bowel. By doing all three of these tests on thousands of patients he sees a lot of patients who test negative using lactulose but positive using glucose or fructose. If the patient has SIBO that reacts to glucose or fructose but not lactulose, Dr. Hawrelak will use lactulose as a prebiotic in those patients to speed up small bowel transit time. Also, since lactulose will create an acidic pH in the small bowel and this is less conducive to the growth of E. coli, bacteroidites, and Klebsiella. Just doing the lactulose breath test will likely result in a significant amount of false negative test results. If the glucose test is positive but the lactulose test is negative then you know the bugs that are in your small intestine are bugs that can’t eat lactulose and you can target them better with your herbal or antibiotic approaches.

21:58  I asked if there are there specific strains of probiotics that can be effective against SIBO? Dr. Hawrelak said that there are strains of probiotics that can improve the migrating motor complex or improve motility, some that can heal a damaged, leaky gut, some strains that can function as selective antimicrobials, some strains can reduce visceral hypersensitivity, reduce intestinal inflammation, and others can enhance production of secretory IGA. For example the Lactobacillis casei CRL341 has the capacity to decrease bugs in the small intestine and this is very strain specific. A combination of this Lactobacillis casei CRL 341 and the CRL 730 strain of Acidophilus  which have been shown in a well designed clinical trial to be effective for treating SIBO.  Unfortunately this combination is not currently available in the US.  There is a combination of strains that is available in Argentina called Bioflora which showed an 82% reduction in symptoms in patients with SIBO as compared to Flagil, which had a 52% reduction in symptoms. Dr. Hawrelak mentioned that there is one strain, Bacillis clausii, that is clinically available that has a 30 day clinical trial that showed a 47% erradiction rate of SIBO.  There was one study out of China that showed an 81% erradication of SIBO rate, though they did not report what strains were used.  Lactobacillis reuteri 17938 is a commercially available strain (the BioGaia Gastrus product) that has been shown to be effective with methane dominant SIBO.  The following study showed a close to 2/3 reduction of methane gas in those patients who took this Lactobacillis reuteri 17938 probiotic:  http://www.europeanreview.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/1702-1708-L.-reuteri-in-methane-producer-constipated-patients.pdf  

29:43  I asked which strains of probiotics might be helpful in improving intestinal motility or the Migrating Motor Complex? Dr. Hawrelak said that there are two different strains of Bifidobacterium Animalis Lactis DN 173 010 and Bifidobacterium Animalis Lactis CNCM 1-2494  that increase whole gut transit time but they are only available in Dannon’s Activia, which contains a bunch of unhealthy ingredients like sugar. But it can cause a massive shift in gut transit time in a two week period. Another strain is Bifidobacterium Lactis HN019 which is now available in several different products in Australia and the US.  For a while this strain was only available in a probiotic from Xymogen, Probiomax, which has a good amount of that strain and it has been shown to reduce gut transit time from 40-50 hours to the low 20s in just two weeks. So in SIBO patients with slow gut transit time, we can use a probiotic as a prokinetic.  There is one animal study using a combination of Lactobaccilis Ramnosus GG and Bifidobacterium Lactis BD12 showing that it improves the cleansing waves of the migrating motor complex. 

33:19  I asked if there are particular strains of probiotics that can heal a leaky gut?  Dr. Hawrelak explained that the strain that has the most research to support that it helps with leaky gut is the Saccharomyces cerevisiae variety Boulardii biocodex that has good evidence that it can return the small bowel architecture to normal to heal a leaky gut. It also helps with eradicating parasites like Giardia and healing the damaged gut resulting from such a parasite. Dr. Hawrelak then explains how Saccharamyces was first discovered. It was a French microbiologist, named Henri Boulard, who encountered an outbreak of cholera and he noticed that some folks were making a preparation from the skin of a lychee and of mangosteens, which are both tropical fruits, and the folks who drank the tea of these fruits were not getting sick or were getting better.  Boulard isolated a yeast from the skin of the lychee that he named after himself, calling it Saccharamyces boulardii  and he commercialized it and it has been sold since the 1940s as a probiotic supplement.  Boulardi sold it to Biocodex and 90% of the research on Saccharomyces was done on this particular strain. This strain has been shown to prevent antibiotic associated diarrhea and has activity against Claustridium diffocile infection and has the ability to break down C. diff toxins.  There is also research with this probiotic and Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis, as well as some studies on Irritable Bowel Syndrome. 

38.50  I asked if there are other probiotic strains that are beneficial for Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, like Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis.  Dr. Hawrelak said that only Saccharamyces boulardii has been shown to be effective for Crohn’s, but there are other products that can help with Ulcerative Colitis (UC). VSL 3 has some efficacy for pouchitis infections and also helping patients with UC gain remission. Lactobacillis Ramnosus GG which has been shown to maintain remission. In one study it was compared with mesalazine in keeping patients in remission and Lactobacillis Ramnosus GG actually worked better. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2006.02927.x/pdf   There is also some research on E coli Nissle 1917 helping patients with UC to go into remission and Crohn’s as well.  Here is a review paper I found on some of these products: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257670/ 

41:10  I mentioned Dr. Sidney Baker’s work with using parasites therapeutically to treat IBD and Dr. Hawrelak said that this was outside of his area of expertise.  He said that he was familiar with and receptive to using microbial fecal transplants for IBD and he is more comfortable with this than using worms to treat patients. Dr. Hawrelak mentioned that diseases like Crohn’s and UC were not particularly common 50 or 60 years ago and perhaps there are bacterial strains that we have lost in our microbiome that might have protected us against them.

43:10  I asked what Dr. Hawrelak thinks about soil based or spore based probiotics?  Dr. Hawrelak said that he can’t make a recommendation on a whole classification of probiotics and he does not feel that there is enough research done yet on such species that are not normally found in the human gut, esp. when there is enough good research on standard various strains of probiotics. 

45:50  I asked if there is a therapeutic value in getting a stool sample that maps the microbiome and administering probiotics that are low to balance out the microbiome and increase bacterial diversity.  Also is there value in looking at the ratio of firmicutes to bacteroides?  Dr. Hawrelak said that doing a molecular based stool test is very helpful since many species cannot be cultured and many of these species are very helpful.  But Dr. Hawrelak said that in order to change a microbiome you have to get the patient to change their diet and take specific prebiotics that will facilitate the growth of particular species of bacteria.   If you are low in bifido bacteria, you can take bifido bacteria probiotics and while you are taking it, you will have more bifido in your intestines, but once you stop, they will disappear. So the better approach is to use diet and lifestyle and prebiotics and prebiotic foods that will nurture their endogenous population of bifido bacteria, etc. to increase bacterial diversity.  Dr. Hawrelak explained that current research does not support the benefit of focusing on the firmicutes:bacterioidites ratio.  Dr. Hawrelak recommends using The American Gut Project or uBiome or Genova’s GI Effects, though it only looks at 24 different species. 


Dr. Jason Hawrelak is in practice and available to see patients at his clinic in Australia at http://www.gouldsnaturalmedicine.com.au/jasonhawrelak  and you can subscribe to his marvelous service that provides all the latest information about probiotics, The Probiotic Advisor at https://www.probioticadvisor.com/  Dr. Ben Weitz is available for nutrition consultations by calling 310-395-3111.  


Rational Wellness Podcast 025: Galectin-3 and Modified Citrus Pectin with Dr. Isaac Eliaz

Dr. Ben Weitz interviews Dr. Isaac Eliaz, who discusses Galectin-3, an inflammatory protein measured in the blood, that increases risk of nearly every chronic disease, including heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, chronic kidney disease, and heart failure.

3:15  Dr. Eliaz explains that inflammation is the driving force for nearly every chronic disease.  Inflammation is like an orchestra playing together and the conductor of the orchestra is Gallectin-3.  Dr. Eliaz noted while many have not heard of Gallectin-3, there are over 3000 published studies on Gallectin-3 and at least one new study is being published on it every day. Gallectin 3 is a  carbohydrate binding protein known as a lectin. It creates a lattice formation (see the diagram below) and different inflammatory compounds and growth factors sit on this structure and this creates a coating that helps to promote, inflammation, fibrosis, and cancer growth. 

4:53  I asked what is the relationship between Galectin-3 and other inflammatory markers like CRP, the Interleukens, and TNF alpha? Dr. Eliaz explained that when you look at the diagram you see that stress or injury leads to Interleuken 6 and 8 and to TNF alpha, which lead to inflammation and then tissue injury and to fibrosis. Similarly you will see the pathway through TGF beta to fibroblast and myofibroblasts and fibrosis. What starts all of this is the secretion of Galectin-3, which results from a trauma or even from emotional stress.  Galectin-3 will stimulate the macrophage to turn into an inflammatory macrophage, which is where IL6, IL8, and TNF alpha come from.  When we regulate Galectin-3, we regulate all of the inflammatory cascade, the extracellular matrix damage cascade, and the fibrotic cascade, which all lead to dysfunction.  But it’s important to know that inside the cell, Galectin-3 has a very different role. Intracellularly Galectin-3 contributes to embryogenesis, to differentiation of tissues, and to normalization of tissues. It is only extracellularly that Galectin-3 becomes this dangerous compound that stimulates inflammation and this wide variety of diseases.

7:19  I asked if Galectin-3 is inhibited by anti-inflammatories, like NSAIDs or cortisone, or therapeutic modalities like ultrasound?  None of these directly affect Galectin-3. If we change our lifestyle, we eat better, sleep better, exercise more, and relax, our inflammation will decrease and our Galectin-3 will decline. But Galectin-3 must be inhibited very specifically.  When you look at a diagram of Galectin-3 you will see that it has a handle, which is the antibody part, and it has what appears like a hole for a key, which is a carbohydrate recognition domain. When the inflammatory compounds come into this hole or socket and a single Galectin-3 turns into a pentomere. And the pentomeres attach to each other and you get this coating that will surround the immune cells and stop the excretion of cytokines that will allow the cancer cells to hide from the immune system and will propagate inflammation and fibrosis and kidney damage and congestive heart failure. There are certain medical conditions where the outcome depends upon the level of Galectin=3 in the blood. 


9:08  I told Dr. Eliaz that conditions affected by Galectin-3, like chronic kidney disease and aortic stenosis, are chronic diseases that are incurable and while these patients are often managed with drugs, they tend to go downhill fairly rapidly.  Is this something that could actually be affected by inhibiting Gallectin-3?  Dr. Eliaz said that he has developed the only commercially available Galectin-3 blocker and it is a natural product that is a modification of pectin, which is a long chain of carbohydrates from citrus.  Modified Citrus Pectin (MCP) is actually a generic name and the specific pectin in my product is Pectasol-C and this is the modified citrus pectin that all the research has been done with.  There are close to 40 published papers on this product. If you look at the 10 published studies specifically on its effects on inflammation and fibrosis, you will see that MCP reverses these conditions in rats.  We are now in the latest stages of studying patients with hypertension, a double blind study at Harvard, who have been given MCP for four years to patients who have Galectin-3 above 17.8 and it is finishing in February.  We are studying to see if giving MCP changes the tendency of such patients to move into congestive heart failure.  For patients with congestive heart failure if their Galectin-3 is under 17.8 their one year all cause mortality is 12.5%. If you are over 25.9, your all cause mortality in one year is 37%.  This is because Galectin-3 contributes to heart failure with the loss of ejection fraction. The heart not only gets enlarged, but it gets stiffer and stiffer. This is also what contributes to chronic kidney failure patients progressing faster and then they go down hill faster into dialysis. 

12:52  Dr. Eliaz explains that this is also the mechanism that contributes to cancer progressing faster and he said that he had just presented an abstract on a study on prostate cancer at the most important oncology conference.  It showed that patients whose prostate was taken out and there is no PSA and then the PSA starts coming back, which means it is coming directly from the cancer.  Then it looked at PSA doubling time–how fast PSA is going up.  80% of those patients who took MCP slowed down or halted their PSA doubling time.  There is now increasing interest in Dr. Eliaz’s research from Harvard, the NIH, etc.  Dr. Eliaz said that in alternative medicine at first they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then they say that it is self-evident.  So now Galectin-3  and blocking Galectin-3 is self-evident and if Modified Citrus Pectin were a drug, it would be a billion dollar drug.  You should take 5 g/day of MCP for prevention and up to 10-15 g/day for cancer.

15:00  I reiterated my amazement that we are talking about possibly improving conditions that are considered incurable, like atherosclerosis. You can give patients statins and other drugs which can slow down the progression, but none of these drugs reverse atherosclerosis.  When you are talking about congestive heart failure, you manage this condition with drugs but none of the drugs reverses the condition.  Metastatic prostate cancer, there is no cure for that.  This is very exciting that we may have a way to reverse some of these chronic processes.  Dr. Eliaz explained that they have double blind studies that will be published soon on metastatic prostate cancer, on hypertension and congestive heart failure, and a trial on osteoarthritis. Dr. Eliaz also said that he is doing research in his clinic with phoresis to remove Galectin-3 directly from the blood.

17:26  Dr. Eliaz explained that he started this journey with modified citrus pectin in 1995.  In 1971 he was 12 years old and a native of Israel and his mother and he went to see the Ruth and Leo Cohen, who were both PhDs in organic chemistry and pioneers in citrus farming. Ruth told him that one day they will find a cure for cancer from the peel of citrus fruits. 24 years later when the first lectins were discovered and published the first study, Dr. Eliaz called Ruth and told her and asked for her help in the research. Dr. Eliaz said thatModified Citrus pectin was just one of the supplements he would recommend but now he feels it is the most important supplement to recommend given the research. He finds how it helps Lyme patients and so many patients improve. When you block Galectin-3 in the blood, you are definitely contributing to your longevity and reducing your risk of chronic diseases.  

19:42 I asked Dr. Eliaz if he has gotten pushback from big Pharma? I mentioned that I just read about a new drug that reduces CRP to prevent heart disease and it only costs $200,000 per year. Dr. Eliaz responded, “It could have cost $250,000.” Dr. Eliaz explained that on one level he is getting pushback from big pharma and on another level he is getting collaboration. Dr. Eliaz said that hopefully he is getting to the tipping point where he has so many studies.  No one will be able to say that Modified Citrus Pectin is not validated by research.  

21:54 I asked if Dr. Eliaz feels there is enough data now to recommend to give a strong recommendation to a cardiologist or other MD managing a patient with chronic kidney disease that MCP should be part of the treatment program? Dr. Eliaz said that he feels that they are getting close to that point. For doctors who think out of the box, it is happening right now. But it will take more published research for it to be the standard of care. He explained that cardiologists are interested in this concept and the study on hypertension and congestive heart failure from Harvard was initiated by Harvard cardiologists.  Dr. Eliaz explained that all of us have some inflammation, so all of us should be taking modified citrus pectin. And it pulls out heavy metals, which many of us have, as well. And we understand how it pulls out the heavy metals–we know the mechanism. Dr. Eliaz explains that we understand how MCP will enhance the immune system. We understand how it will prevent atherosclerotic plaque and fibrosis.  We understand how it will create an anti-angiogenesis anti-cancer effect through affecting VEGF.  It is highly researched and scientific and yet it is very natural and comes from the peel of a citrus fruit.

25:12  I asked what dosage he recommends for MCP?  Dr. Eliaz said that you should check your Galectin-3 levels through a lab test.  If you don’t check your Galectin-3 levels and you are healthy, just take 5 gm per day. If your Galectin-3 level is over 14 and you are healthy, go to 10 gm per day.  If it is over 17.8 and you are healthy, go to 15 gm per day.  If you have fibrotic or cardiovascular disease or if you have cancer, then you need to take a little more.  So if you have a fibrotic disease and you are over 12, then take 10 gm per day.  If you have active cancer then you should take 15 gm per day and for two years after your cancer is gone and then go down.

27.18 I then asked that since Modified Citrus Pectin increases B cells and T cells and natural killer cells, but what about for autoimmune diseases, where the immune system is too revved up?  Dr. Eliaz said that most patients with autoimmune diseases have elevated levels of Galectin-3 and taking MCP is definitely beneficial for autoimmune diseases.  Asked if MCP increases T regulatory cells?  It does since it increases all T cells and allows them to function better. In Lyme disease, MCP plays another important role. The biofilm that often surrounds the bacteria is made out of Galectin-3.  Gallectin-3 has been shown to block the ability of antibiotics to fight infection. 

30.17  I then asked about whether MCP could be helpful for Irritable Bowel Disease which is usually caused by Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth? This condition can be difficult to treat and one of the reasons may be due to biofilms.  Could Modified Citrus Pectin be helpful as part of a nutritional protocol along with antimicrobials?  Dr. Eliaz said that when you treat SIBO you break down the biofilms and these are negatively charged and there are heavy metals and oxidized lipids sitting there.  Modified Citrus Pectin can not only help to break up the biofilms but it can bind to these heavy metals, as well as binding to the biotoxins and the mold toxins. This is why the Lyme patients do so much better with MCP as part of their protocol. I asked if MCP can be used in place of clay or other natural binding agents? Dr. Eliaz said you could or you could combine them. It can be used with alginate or seaweed or with chlorella or even with pharmaceutical chelating agents like DMSA.  Dr. Eliaz also explained that they have published papers showing that MCP does not deplete the body of essential minerals.


Dr. Isaac Eliaz can be reached through his web site  http://www.dreliaz.org/   or through his clinic’s web site: http://www.amitabhaclinic.com/   Dr. Eliaz’s Modified Citrus Pectin is available through Clinical Synergy  http://www.clinicalsynergyformulas.com/   or Econugenics  https://www.econugenics.com/    and more information is available from  http://www.modifiedcitruspectin.org    Patients can call 1-800-308-5518 to find out about ordering modified citrus pectin.

Here are some links to a few of the studies mentioned above:

  1. Galectin-3: A modifiable risk factor in heart failure.  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10557-014-6520-2
  2. Modified citrus pectin (MCP) increases the prostate-specific antigen doubling time in men with prostate cancer: a phase II pilot study.  https://www.nature.com/pcan/journal/v6/n4/full/4500679a.html
  3. Role for Galectin‐3 in Calcific Aortic Valve Stenosis.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5210369/    

Dr. Weitz is available for private Functional Nutrition consultations as well as for chiropractic care.  We can help you to find out your Galectin-3 levels.  Call 310-395-3111 or email weitzchiro@yahoo.com

Rational Wellness Podcast 024: Healing From Trauma with Debi Silber

Debi Silber speaks with Dr. Ben Weitz on overcoming trauma and how to avoid emotional eating.  She has developed a multi-pronged approach to helping people avoid or heal from a life crisis. We may use food as a way to numb and distract ourselves. Debi has a Masters in Nutrition, is a personal trainer, Whole health coach, and is now completing her PhD in Trans Personal psychology. She is doing her dissertation on betrayal trauma and post traumatic growth. These situations makes us feel broken and we end up unfit, overweight, overwhelmed, exhausted, and unhappy. Debi explains that we think we are stuck there but we’re not.  But you can use such situations to grow–what she calls post-traumatic growth.  That crisis may reveal something in you that is unshakable. This is the upside of trauma.

You must have a willingness to change and grow.  Another thing that is important factor is to have support from friends, counselors, coaches, etc. The next thing is to have the right mindset. If you have a program running in your mind all day long that you are not worthy and you are not important, then you will never heal. You need to create some new neural circuitry and reprogram your mindset. And finally, you have health.  If you go through a life crisis and you don’t have your health, it will be that much harder to heal. So you need to get and stay as healthy as you can.

I then asked Debi how to deal with emotional eating. Debi explained that emotional eating is when we are trying to sooth, calm, numb, relax from our problems or our pain. Food is just our drug of choice. You need to ask yourself when you are stuffing yourself, to stuff the feelings. You need to ask yourself what are you really hungry for?  What are you trying not to feel? Is it a conversation with a partner that you need to have? Is it that you really hate your job? Is it a health issue you area avoiding?  What are the painful emotions you are trying to suppress?

Debi explained that one woman she was working with had an unmet need to do community service. When she started doing community service, the weight just started falling off.  If you feed what you are really hungry for, there’s no need for emotional eating.  I asked as a patient, how do you know what it is that you really need? As a practitioner who is working with someone on a weight loss program, how do you get them to figure out or tell you why they are not exercising or eating those foods they are not supposed to?  Debi said that she will ask them about their relationships.  You have to probe them about their personal life and what they are feeling about themselves.

Debi has written a best-selling book, The Unshakable Woman: 4 Steps to Rebuilding Your Body, Mind, and Your Life After a Life Crisis  https://www.amazon.com/Unshakable-Woman-Steps-Rebuilding-Crisis-ebook/dp/B01N5SHR28/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1485902403&sr=8-1&keywords=the+unshakable+woman    Debi can be reached through her website:  https://debisilber.com/about/

Rational Wellness Podcast Episode 023: Men’s Sexual Health with Dr. Karlis Ullis

Dr. Karlis Ullis joins Dr. Ben Weitz for a discussion of Men’s Sexual Health. I mentioned that male testosterone levels have been dropping for the last 20 years about 17%. I asked Dr. Ullis why he thinks this is and he answered that there are a number of reasons, including obesity. Men with obesity, esp. visceral adiposity, fat around the middle, about 40% have low testosterone. Poor diet and lifestyle and exposure to endocrine disrupting substances are other important reasons for low testosterone.  Dr. Ullis described primary, secondary, and functional low testosterone. Primary caused by a failure of the testes to produce testosterone either due to damage to the testes from injury or infection or cancer or genetics. Secondary are due to disruptions in the hypothalamic/pituitary/gonadal axis. Lack of sleep or opiate use can shut down testosterone production. 

Endocrine disruptors are affecting testosterone levels. Most of these endocrine disruptors are estrogenic and virtually none of these are androgenic. You need to avoid plastic water bottles and cans lined with BPA and conventional cleaning products with endocrine disruptors. Liver detoxification programs can be beneficial in getting rid of some of these toxins.

Dr. Ullis discussed aromatization of testosterone and certain nutritional products can reduce aromatization including vitamin D, zinc, curcumin, resveratrol, magnesium, and inositol.

Dr. Ullis can be reached through his website  http://www.drkarlisullis.com/Karlis_Ullis,_M.D./Welcome.html

Rational Wellness Podcast Episode 022: Oral Health with Dr. Al Danenberg

Dr. Al Danenberg, Wholistic Periodontist and Functional Medicine Doctor, discusses periodontal disease and the health of the mouth with Dr. Ben Weitz. Periodontitis is caused by microorganisms adhering to the teeth and an overly aggressive immune response. This occurs in over 50% of the US population. 92% have gingivitis, which is an infection of the gum tissue that has not progressed into the bone like periodontitis.  Dr. Danenberg has recently written Crazy Good Living: Healthy Gums, Healthy Gut, Healthy Life. Dr. Danenberg discusses our primal ancestory and our evolution and that it was rare for our primal ancestors to have had gum disease or tooth decay.  This has resulted from our modern diet and lifestyle and toxins that result in chronic diseases, like periodontal disease. And they don’t have toothbrushes or mouth wash or dental visits. The starting point for periodontal disease is the gut.

Eating grains has created a chemical–gliadin–that we cannot digest completely. This protein, gliadin irritates the gut lining, which is only one cell thick. This causes openings in the gut lining, resulting in leaky gut. If this insult just happened once, the gut would heal. But because of our modern diet, we are continuously eating foods that irritate the lining of the gut, creating a chronic inflammation. This may result in the immune system attacking other organs, such as the thyroid. When you have dysbiosis in the gut, the bacteria in the saliva in the mouth change, resulting in a dysbiosis in the mouth.  Thus, the gut is the initiator of many chronic diseases, like periodontal disease. Once there is dysbiosis in the bacteria in the mouth, then the foods that we eat, esp. sugar, that feed these bacteria, make this dysbiosis more pathogenic and unhealthy.  That’s where gum disease and tooth decay cause bigger problems. Now you have a leaky gut creating systemic problems through the blood stream and a leaky type situation in the vascular under the gums. Effective care should involve treating both the infection under the gums and also treating the leaky gut.

Dr. Danenberg explained that the three food groups that are the most damaging to the lining of the gut are grains, added sugars, and processed liquid seed oils. He believes in eating nutrient dense foods. I mentioned the recent paper from the American Heart Association that recommends substituting soybean and other vegetable oils in place of saturated fats like butter. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/early/2017/06/15/CIR.0000000000000510 Dr. Danenberg pointed out that the American Heart Association failed to mention at least two of those four studies from the 1950s while they demonstrated decreases in heart disease from substituting vegetable oils like soybean, corn and canola oil for saturated fats like butter, red meat, and cheese, there was actually no decreases in death rates since there was an increase in cancer death rates.

Dr. Danenberg explained what he means by eating a nutrient dense diet. He said that such a diet includes eating animals that are wild caught and pasture raised. This includes wild Alaskan salmon. It includes grass fed and grass finished cattle and chickens that are eating bugs on the ground rather than processed corn and soy products. These foods are higher in omega 3 fats and are anti-inflammatory. This also includes vegetables and fruits and nuts and seeds. We are talking about organic and not conventionally raised with chemical, such as glyphosate, which is sprayed on a number of genetically modified crops. Dr. Danenberg explained that organic fruits and vegetables will contain more phytonutrients since their immune systems will have to work harder to fight off pests and other threats and this leads them to produce these phytochemicals that help them in this fight.

I then asked Dr. Danenberg, since he is an advocate for the Paleo diet, how can bacon be seen as a healthy food? How is bacon anti-inflammatory?  Dr. Danenberg explained that he sees the Paleo diet as meaning that a population eats foods that are naturally available to them in their natural environment and not processed or with added chemicals. This differs depending upon the region they lived. Dr. Danenberg said that he has a local farmer who raises hogs naturally and feeds them a natural diet–not corn and soy, etc. and slaughters them properly and he will buy this meat. And you can make a healthy bacon from the pork belly of such an animal. But conventional bacon that is processed and cured from conventionally raised pigs, and chickens in cages and grain fed cattle are not healthy either.

I asked Dr. Danenberg about flouride and why so many dentists recommend flouride. Dr. Danenberg said that flouride is a toxin and it is a neurotoxin, it damages DNA, and destroys mitochondria. But topical flouride in the mouth inhibits dental decay because it hardens the tooth enamel. Rather than use flouride in the mouth, lets educate patients why there is dental decay. Topical flouride treatments are like painting a rusty fence with Rustoleum. Flouridated water has little to no benefit in controlling dental decay.

Dr. Danenberg explained that added sugars are the cause of tooth decay. Dental plaque is healthy, according to Dr. Danenberg, until it’s not. Plaque has a purpose. It is a biofilm around the tooth that maintains a more neutral pH and kills pathogenic bacteria. Plaque also helps to re-mineralize the tooth’s surface. It is only when the bacteria in the plaque becomes dysbiotic because of certain foods we have eaten. And then the sugar that you eat feeds the dysbiotic, unhealthy bacteria that creates the dental decay.

You can contact Dr. Al Danenberg through his website:   https://drdanenberg.com/

Here is the link for his new book, Crazy Good Living: Healthy Gums, Healthy Gut, Healthy Life     https://www.amazon.com/Crazy-Good-Living-Healthy-Gums-Life-ebook/dp/B073QD6FWV/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500647091&sr=8-1&keywords=crazy+good+living