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In this episode, you will learn about finding resilience through functional medicine, science, and faith.
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About My Guest
My guest for this episode is Dr. Jill Carnahan. Known as ‘Your Functional Medicine Expert®’ Dr. Jill Carnahan, MD, ABIHM, ABOIM, IFMCP has been featured in People magazine, Shape, Parade, Forbes, MindBodyGreen, First for Women, Townsend Letter, and The Huffington Post; as well as seen on NBC News and health segments with Joan Lunden. She is a prominent global keynote speaker and a prolific writer sharing her knowledge on stage and in podcasts. With over a decade of producing popular content, her articles can be found in journals, newsletters, books, and on social media. She is the Medical Director of Flatiron Functional Medicine, a widely sought-after practice with a broad range of clinical services including functional medicine protocols, nutritional consultations, chiropractic therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy. A survivor of breast cancer, Crohn’s disease, and mold toxicity, she routinely treats patients who come to her for solutions to their medical mysteries that haven’t been solved. Her YouTube channel and podcast features interviews with the world’s most respected names in medicine, science, and functional medicine. She co-authored the Personalized and Precision Integrative Cardiovascular Medicine Textbook and just released her prescriptive memoir "Unexpected: Finding Resilience through Functional Medicine, Science, and Faith" through Forefront Publishing. 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.
- How did Dr. Jill's first experience with rock climbing become a metaphor for the challenges of life?
- What role does intuition play in patient care?
- What is functional medicine?
- How did the ecosystem, microbiome, and terrain of growing up on a farm influence her work with her patients today?
- How do we create "margin" on our buckets?
- How significant are pesticides and chemicals relative to heavy metals?
- Are EMFs a contributor to chronic illness?
- What are LPS and endotoxins?
- What is an HSP or highly sensitive person?
- Is the consumption of animal protein health-supporting?
- How might elevated ApoB be approached?
- What is the true driver of TMAO production?
- Are most people iron deficient and copper toxic?
- What is the role of neuroplasticity in healing?
- When do stress and trauma move from supportive or hormetic to pathogenic?
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February 3, 2023
Transcript Disclaimer: Transcripts are intended to provide optimized access to information contained in the podcast. They are not a full replacement for the discussion. Timestamps are provided to facilitate finding portions of the conversation. Errors and omissions may be present as the transcript is not created by someone familiar with the topics being discussed. Please Contact Me with any corrections.
[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts, empowering your better health. And now here's Scott, your Better Health Guy.
The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health related decisions with your own personal medical authority.
[00:00:35] SCOTT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to episode number 180 of the BetterHealthGuy Blogcasts series. Today's guest is Dr. Jill Carnahan. And the topic of the show is Unexpected. Known as Your Functional Medicine Expert, Dr. Jill Carnahan has been featured in People Magazine, Shape, Parade, Forbes, MindBodyGreen, First for Women, Townsend Letter, and the Huffington Post, as well as seen on NBC News and health segments with Joan Lunden. She is a prominent global keynote speaker and a prolific writer sharing her knowledge on stage and in podcasts.
With over a decade of producing popular content, her articles can be found in journals, newsletters, books, and on social media. She is the Medical Director of Flatiron Functional Medicine, a widely sought-after practice with a broad range of clinical services including functional medicine protocols, nutritional consultations, chiropractic therapy, naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, and massage therapy.
As a survivor of breast cancer, Crohn's disease, and mold toxicity, she routinely treats patients who have come to her for solutions to their medical mysteries that haven't been solved. Her YouTube channel and podcast features interviews with the world's most respected names in medicine, science, and functional medicine.
She co-authored the Personalized and Precision Integrative Cardiovascular Medicine Textbook and just released her prescriptive memoir, Unexpected: Finding Resilience Through Functional Medicine, Science and Faith through Forefront Publishing. 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.
And now my interview with Dr. Jill Carnahan.
[00:02:24] SCOTT: This is Dr. Jill's second time on the podcast. In our first show, we talked about Mast Cell Activation Syndrome way back in episode 20. It's an honor to have her back today 160 episodes later. Thanks for being here, Dr. Jill.
[00:02:39] DR. JILL: Thanks for all the work you do, Scott. I am delighted to be here with you.
[00:02:44] SCOTT: What aspects of living on and growing up on a farm may have set the stage for the development of your own chronic illnesses; cancer, and Crohn's, and later mold illness? And how did those conditions as you were growing up drive you to the passion that you have today for working with really complex cases? How did those challenges impart you with fortitude and resilience?
[00:03:09] DR. JILL: Yeah, it's interesting. 25, get cancer. And then I look back and say, "Okay, what led to this?" Just asking that question why, which all good functional detectives do. I looked back and realized that there was a big piece of the puzzle that was I grew up on this very wonderful farm, wonderful family. I was one of five children.
And a couple of different things. First of all, obviously, back in the 70s and 80s, corn and soybeans were the main crops in Illinois where I grew up. And it was highly know used pesticides, chemicals, glyphosate, all the kinds of things. In fact, that was before glyphosate. It was before Roundup Ready soy and those kinds of crops. But still, they were heavily sprayed. That was just a norm.
And as I've talked to my dad several times since trying to investigate, we actually found his record handwritten the year I was born. And the list of chemicals there is astounding because some of these are actually now banned. All of them are known to be carcinogenic or toxic in some way. And sadly, many of them are still used in the US, like atrazine.
There was a form of atrazine on that list. Atrazine, as you know from Tyrone Hayes's work, is a known endocrine disruptor. It was the subject of silent spring where they found all the frogs that had gotten the runoff from that. Started not having normal genitalia and we're having transition in sexual reproductive organs because of this exposure.
And when I realized that linked to atrazine, it was literally years after my breast cancer. I remember looking up on a map of the US and the use of atrazine in the U.S, and the brightness of the red in the area exactly where I grew up was like the most dense area in the whole United States. And I was like, "Oh, my goodness! This is a big piece of the puzzle."
And then, of course, we had well water, which it seemed like a wonderful good, clean source. But I'm sure it had a runoff from chemicals. And then you throw in my genetics. I was born with probably impaired detox glutathione, all these SNPs. And so, it was a perfect storm.
Now I don't think that the chemicals caused my cancer but I think they contributed. And that's the important thing, is this environmental toxic load is the element in the room. And I'm sure we'll dive into that. But growing up, that environmental toxic load unbeknownst to me was playing on my cells.
The other thing that's important to understand is when you have cancer at 25, those cells started to go rogue 10, 15, 20 years prior. I actually think that, number one, I probably had in-utero exposure from my mother's toxic load. And we know from the, 20 years ago, studies of cord blood of infants showed 200 chemicals as the baby is born. And this is 2001. Literally over 20 years ago. Now it can only be worse. That was in Canada. This toxic load from my mother in-utero.
And looking back, my mother had some migraines and health issues and probably chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia. Undiagnosed. But she definitely had those kinds of symptoms. And then later on she had developed Hashimoto's. I developed Hashimoto's. And several years after my own breast cancer, my sister developed thyroid cancer. You have two girls in a family. There's no doubt the environment had played on this, right?
[00:06:08] SCOTT: Yeah. And obviously, that experience growing up obviously now has given you a lot of your passion, and your fortitude, and obviously your resilience that you talk about in the book. You also say in the book that incurable doesn't mean healing is not possible. It simply means there's not a drug that reverses the condition. And I totally resonate with that. I think so many people are essentially told to give up or to live with their condition for the rest of their life. That there is no hope. What can you say based on your experience to our listeners to provide them with hope?
[00:06:40] DR. JILL: I love this, Scott. And it's why I put – it felt like it was so important to put it right in the front of the book. Because what happens is our medical system is based on drugs and surgery. I was trained in it. There's a place for good allopathic medicine when you have a heart accident, or a heart attack, or a stroke. We need these acute interventions and the drugs that prevent the worsening of a stroke or the stent that prevents the worsen of a heart attack. These are really critical things that are successful.
However, when it comes to chronic, complex illness, especially the rise in autoimmunity, which is only getting worse. We're at the tsunami's edge of autoimmune epidemic post-COVID as you and I both know. All this to say, these things, chronic and complex illnesses, are not well treated by a drug. It's not diagnosed as one drug. It doesn't work. It doesn't reverse the disease. It may at very best slightly control symptoms.
For my example, was after the breast cancer, about six months after I completed complete chemotherapy and all the drugs and surgery that I had to cure the cancer, I developed Crohn's disease. And I'm sure your listeners know, but Crohn's is an autoimmune disease where the body attacks the gut lining. I had an NOD2 gene, which made me high risk. And then you throw a chemotherapeutic agent that creates more permeable gut. Endotoxemia, which I know we're going to talk about. And this dumping of the microbes into the bloodstream for me was a trigger. It's like an on switch to cause my body to attack my own gut lining.
Now, I was told when I was diagnosed, number one, Crohn's is incurable. Number two, you're going to need lifelong drugs, steroids, probably surgery to remove part of your colon. And this is going to be a lifelong diagnosis. Number three, and I know you've heard me say this before, Scott, the doctor told me point blank, "Jill, diet has nothing to do with this."
And I was like, "This can't be true. It's the gut." Right? And I didn't know much. But I went on a journey and started to really dive into it. And I did find – I found a Specific Carbohydrate Diet, which is one of the big ones. Elaine Gottschall wrote about it years ago when her daughter was sick with ulcerative colitis. And she found this diet really helped. And all that to say, I was like, "What do I have to lose?"
And Scott, I started that diet. Within two weeks all of my inflammatory, my fevers, some of my symptoms, they were gone. Now, I was not cured in two weeks. It took years to change the microbiome. But I, today, consider myself completely cured from Crohn's without drugs, without surgery. And it took dealing with a microbiome at that level.
Now I like to talk about reversible autoimmunity. What if these autoimmune diseases were told are incurable are actually reversible? And you know some of the biggest drugs out there. Humira just went for another patent because they're running out because they're such a big billion-dollar blockbuster. That's one of the drugs used to treat Crohn's. some of these autoimmune drugs, they're immune modulators in the highest sense of the word. But not always beneficial because they also weaken the immune system. And they are huge blockbusters.
Not that there's anything wrong. I see a lot of patients who come with Crohn's or colitis. They're on an immune modulating drug. I don't take them off of it. But what I do is go to the root cause. And sometimes we can get enough change that they can come off the drug and be completely in remission or eventually even cured.
[00:09:42] SCOTT: Reminds me when I was moderating a conference in Amsterdam years ago. And on the panel was Joe Burrascano, and Dietrich Klinghardt, and Ann Corson. And someone asked the question, "Does autoimmunity exist in absence of infection?" And they kind of looked around. And I think Dietrich Klinghardt took the microphone and he said, "No." Right?
The idea that it's not just a mistake that the body is making necessarily. That the body is doing what it can do at that time in our best interest to protect us from something most of the time. Would you agree with that?
[00:10:15] DR. JILL: 100%. I would go one step further, too, to say, in functional medicine, the root, especially autoimmune, is almost always toxic load plus infectious burden. Those two things are always at play in these kind of complex, especially autoimmune disease.
[00:10:28] SCOTT: In the book you also share the quote, "Being brave is not about the absence of fear, but allowing yourself to feel the fear and choosing to do it anyway." And this brings us to your own first experience with rock climbing. That became a metaphor for the challenges of everyday life. And how might our own experiences with chronic illness be like climbing a mountain?
[00:10:50] DR. JILL: Oh, Scott, brilliantly said. And thank you for sharing that. Because what I realized – the story of the rock climb was I had a writing coach I worked with real closely in writing the book. He kind of helped keep me accountable and like deadlines and stuff. Wonderful, wonderful man. He happened to be a professional rock climber. In one of the interviews where he's asking about my history so he can help me frame the story, he said, "Hey, Jill, do you want to go rock climbing?"
And I am an adventurous person. I have a high dopamine. I love dopamine. And so, I was like, "Sure. It sounds fun." And then I'm like, "What did I get myself into?" And literally, Scott, I had never even set foot in a rock-climbing gym. I never had – like zero experience. And all I knew is I needed shoes. I went in and got the shoes. And so, like, okay. Show up at the foot of the mountain. He takes me up. He gives me the helmet. Gives me the harnesses, everything. But we're just first like 45 minutes of a hike to get to the base. And I get to the base and I look up, we're at the third Flatiron.
And in Boulder, if you don't know Boulder, this is like over a thousand. It's like the Empire State Building. It's crazy. I mean, this is not a small climb. And only at the very end when I finished, Topher's like, "Jill, I have never ever in my life taken someone who's never had an experience here. And I never would. But there was something in you."
And this is where the resilience comes in, because there is something that I was born with and that you can have as well as a listener. It's like the same thing that Viktor Frankl writes about. He's in the concentration camp in the most horrific, horrific – I can't even compare. None of my experiences compare to what he went through. But what he did is he said, "No man can take away what's in my mind, my willpower, my desire to live, my desire to overcome."
And if you're listening and you're suffering with some illness or you're a doc. And some of us, as docs, it's even worse because we think we should have all the answers. We think we should know. Even for myself, there's been times where I'm like, "What else can I do?" And so, we feel ashamed that we don't have all the answers for ourselves or those that we love.
And many of us, that's what drove us into functional medicine because we came against some place where we couldn't find the root cause of the answer. We wanted to go deeper.
But all that to say, that rock claim was terrifying. And what I realized is I had no idea how profound it would be in my journey, in my book, and even writing about it. But what happened Scott is if we think about the past and have regrets or have those things come up, we can't do anything about it, right? But a lot of us dwell on, "Oh, my gosh! This divorce, or this relationship, or the situation, or this thing, or this move." There're things in our life we may have regret over. But if we dwell and focus on that, there's no amount of thinking positively that can change the past.
And then if we go in the future – and this is my thing. I can tend to forget the past. But I can go in the future and worry. What about this? What if this happened? What if there's a big recession? What if all these things that we can go to the future and we can worry, and fear, and we can set ourselves all off a kilt, or set up our sympathetic system for overdrive, and stress, and worry. And those things completely affect our immune system.
But if we are present in this moment. Like, here I am with you, Scott. And I'm completely present. And I'm so happy to be here. And I'm just honored to be your guest. And I get to tell people about what's happened in my life. But today at this moment, I'm here. And on that mountain, that was what I learned. Because I'm going up that mountain with no experience trusting my guide and trusting that I can figure it out on the way up. And then I'll have enough strength to get up. It took me three and a half hours. This was a big climb.
And then if I looked back, I would be terrified because I see this like thousands of feet down the trees. We're like this small. And I didn't look back. I told myself, "If I look back, I'm going to lose the courage. This little bit of – the thing that I'm trying to overcome." And then same thing, if I look up, I'm like, "There's no way I can do that." I had to stay present.
And the other thing was I was on a rock. Rock's pretty solid even if it's sideways. And I had to keep reminding myself, like, "Wait. I'm on Rock. It's solid as it gets." And I had to trust in my ability to figure it out in real time and all of those things. Not staying in the past. Not looking into the future. Staying present. Trusting our bodies and our minds to figure it out in real time. Those are the principles that literally help us build resilience and survive anything that comes our way.
And then when you get to the top, first of all, the very last bit, my body had adrenaline. I think my cortisol probably went down. I was literally shaking. I'm like, "I don't know if I can get up that last little bit." I was so trembling and shaking. I think my blood sugar was low. I think the adrenaline was wearing off.
But as I got that last bit of rock and pulled myself over the edge, I literally wept tears because I was like, "I can't believe I did this. I can't believe I overcame this mountain and did something that I have no experience. I can't believe it."
But you know what? Then, after that, I had things that were hard. And I still have things that are hard. And I'm like, "Wait. I remember." We can remember those things. In some literature, it's called Ebenezer’s. They used to put these rock formations out and make an Ebenezer to remember the things they had overcome. And for me, that climb was an Ebenezer to remind me that no matter what comes, I will have – I won't have it ahead of time. But in the moment, I'll have everything that I need. And that trust that I will have of what I need in the next moment, and the next moment, and the next moment is literally my definition of resilience.
[00:16:00] SCOTT: Wow! Wow! That's beautiful. And I think just in the past few years with the pandemic for me, my primary strategy for coping with everything going on in the world is to be present. Not to think so much about what's to come. I can't control all of the future. I think that's a tremendous strategy, being present.
Our friend, Dr. Neil Nathan, he wrote the book Energetic Diagnosis that talks about the use of intuition as a valuable tool in medicine. Most conventional doctors probably don't tap into that all that commonly. What role does intuition play in your work with your patients? How does it guide you? And how do you access your intuition?
[00:16:40] DR. JILL: I love this. This goes way back to the farm. Because I did not know it, but I was born this very intuitive, creative, highly sensitive little girl. And I was born into a family of stoic, hard-working German, farmers, engineers, analytical. And I have the analytical piece, too. Thank goodness. I got a little bit piece of that in my mind as well. But I thought it's almost like you a wolf cub and put them in like a family of bears or something. I had a wonderful family but I did not feel like I fit in.
And so, I kind of suppressed this little nature of my little creative hippie rebel child girl that I was and became the stoic, achievement-oriented, masculinized in the sense of achievement-driven, productivity, all that. Again, we all have masculine feminine traits. And I took on a lot of very engineer analytical masculine types of traits to succeed in undergrad, and then in med school, and to really survive. And in the world of medicine, it's incredibly masculine.
And if I would tell you some of the kinds of behaviors and abuses really that happened in med school, it's horrendous. It's like the worst kind of fraternity hazing you can imagine. And so, in order to get through, you have to suppress that sensitivity, that intuition. And there's such a premium placed on the science, which I love the science. It's equal to intuition. But because of that, you lose your ability to be in touch with that piece of yourself that has the inner knowing or the gut instinct because you are told that that has no value.
And so, what happened is through medicine and my training I became – and again, when I first started speaking, I always joke. I wore like black pant suits. That's the farthest thing for me in the world. But I was trying to fit in in this masculine society to say that I'm enough as a woman. I can keep up with all of you. And so, that training really kind of beat out that ability to trust the intuition. And I started to doubt and saying, "Okay, this is valuable. The science is valuable. But my intuition has no value."
And again, I think many people coming out of medical training, especially the conventional system, can relate to this. I've talked to Sara Gottfried and other women like myself that we all say, it was very similar, to survive, we had to become incredibly analytical, science-based masculine. There's a piece that's important there.
But what happens then is you start to feel and notice that your pattern recognition system, which is really one of our best assets, is noticing and seeing things. And what I realized is the analytical mind is like an old analog computer. It can calculate things really fast and do a lot with labs and data points and things. But when we shift over to this intuitive sense, it's literally our subconscious.
When the moment that patient walks in the room, the look on their face, the energetic feel of our connection, the listening to them. I see their eyes look off to the side. Or they might have a tear roll the other face. There are all of these things that my subconscious is taking in and noticing. And that, again, I didn't value at the beginning of my medical career. Now I value equal to the science. But all that data subconsciously is giving me information about the patient's trajectory, diagnosis, their past. What questions to ask next? And that is actually taking in millions of pieces of data in a fraction of a second in our subconscious and actually giving me and my brain good information to rely on.
And what happens is when you first start in practice, you may not have a huge database built up of experiences. But over time, now I'm 20 plus years in the practice, I have loads of experiences. And my subconscious can process through those almost instantaneously and say, "Oh, I see this pattern. I see this pattern." And I have this sense, like, "Oh, I think there's mold related illness here." And I'll ask them questions.
And what I do now is I actually trust that. I've allowed that to come up and be truth just like science and following that and then proving it with science. But I feel like the best physicians, especially in this realm of super complex chronic illness, just like Neil Nathan, we have to tap into that database because it's so much more powerful at getting to answers. And we can still use the science. But we almost have to relearn that.
And when I say feminine-masculine, again, we all have both those parts. In general, the masculine is more analytical. The feminine is more intuitive and heart-based. And you need both. You need both equally in order to be a great clinician.
[00:20:46] SCOTT: Conventional medicine does not often have many options for these complex chronic illnesses like Lyme disease, like mold illness. I personally was much more drawn to functional, and integrative, and alternative medicine. Wondering if you can help our listeners to differentiate between functional, integrative, and alternative medicine? How are they different? Or are they the same?
[00:21:08] DR. JILL: Yeah. We have allopathic medicine. If you haven't heard that term, that's a traditional MD. Then we have osteopathic medicine, which is right alongside and pretty equal in the training. And those DOs and MDs both can get surgical residencies and train in the US system. The AMA regulates that. That's our conventional system.
The only asset there is, right now, our conventional system reimburses better for those DOs, MDs. Other than that, and it is expanding, there is very similar training to, say, naturopathic medicine. Although they do not have as much in-hospital medicine training, in-patient, in the hospital system. They're more outpatient and they're also not trained with drugs. So, they don't prescribe drugs. But in all of their aspects, they look at root cause similarly. And then we have other types of professions like chiropractic, and massage therapy and physical therapy. And I could name many, many, many more. But these are kind of all that health-related professions.
And in the beginning, 20 years ago when I was in allopathic medical school, those things that weren't allopathic medicine, process of elimination, all of those other fields were considered alternative. And I hated that term because it's like alternative to what? Why are they like the side show? And I hated that. And literally, in med school, I was the first one at Loyola to create a medical school interest group where we brought in other practitioners and learned from them as medical students so that we knew what was out there.
And then there was integrative. And integrative, Dr. Andrew Weil made this very famous with his fellowship in Arizona. And what we did with integrated was we had this realm of practicing medicine. Maybe a few herbs and things. But integrative, we're pulling in these other people. That, like, we refer to the massage therapists. We refer to the physical therapists. We referred to the naturopath. And so, we have a referral network. But we're still practicing pretty much the same medicine. But we're starting to integrate concepts. Like, maybe diet is important. And maybe food. And maybe some of the lifestyle things. We're being more holistic-minded. But we're still kind of this pub where we're the referral source but we're not actually doing the work of naturopathy, or homeopathy, or any of these things.
And then what I've loved with functional medicine, and many of us in the field. I'm sure anyone you've ever talked to who practices functional medicine has the same story. When you hear – I remember knowing what I wanted to do from a child and actually going into allopathic medicine feeling like, "I'm going to infiltrate the system, learn the system really well." But in my heart, I knew I wanted to be a more holistic healer. I knew that food had powers, medicine. I knew that there were other things out there. I kind of came in with this ulterior plan and motive and then brought the practitioners into the medical school and started to do that. I did a rotation with a traditional Chinese acupuncturist who was also an MD. I started bringing rotations into the school.
But then functional medicine – and again, relating to other doctors, when I heard what that was and first heard Jeffrey Bland describe it, it was this massive aha. Because it's like, "That's what I've been looking for. That's what I want to do." And the difference in that is this, the doctor, like myself, in the office is actually doing the work, of doing the practice and looking at root cause. And the difference between just integrative medicine is you're actually going to the biochemical pathways you learned in second year and all of the metabolic pathways. We learned all of that stuff. But what we did is we learned it, forgot about it, and just had ICD-10 code, "Here's your diagnosis. Here's a drug." And we learned that matchup between drug and code. That's allopathic medicine in a nutshell. What we do now at functional medicine is take all that undergraduate biochemistry, physiology, metabolic pathways and genetics and we actually use that in clinical practice.
[00:24:33] SCOTT: What did you learn about the ecosystem of being on the farm? The microbiome of the farm? The terrain of the farm? How did those lessons and observations carry over into the ecosystem, and the microbiome, and the terrain of your own health and the work that you do today with your patients?
[00:24:52] DR. JILL: Yeah. I used to say, Scott, that autoimmunity begins in the gut. I'm sure you've heard other practitioners, "That's not new to me." But I go a step further now and say autoimmunity actually begins in our soils. And my brother, my older brother, runs the farm. And it's quite a farm operation now because of my cancer and some of the shifts and them understanding what the chemicals, and pesticides, and things we're doing not only to their soils and causing decrease in diversity in soil microbiome, but the health effects like on my sister and myself. They literally now are completely GMO-free, which was unheard of just a decade ago in Central Illinois. And partially organic, which again is a big deal on these big huge farms with acres and acres. It's hard to do organic because you need the manpower to weed. All that has shifted.
But what I love talking to my brother, Jeff, about is how closely the microbiome of the soil and the microbiome of our body are related. And now, as we see 10 years ahead, the changes in the soil, the application of pesticides, things like Roundup, which actually chelate minerals and cause depletion minerals in the soil. That's one of the ways they work. They cause depletion of minerals and our microbiome. Preferentially allowing things like lactobacillus to be killed and clostridia, which can be a bad thing to proliferate. And so, we see this parallelism of decades of the soil being abused and being replied with application of Roundup, and glyphosate, and organophosphates, and pesticides, and herbicides, and the changes, and then our microbiome.
And again, it's relative because our microbiome diversity is one of the foundations of our health. There's more DNA material in our gut, in our microbiome, than it is in our whole entire human body. This changes in the soil, changes in the food, because of the changes in the soil, the decreased diversity.
For example, an apple today has about a fifth of the magnesium as it did 50 to 100 years ago. Even if we're eating organic produce from our local farms, we are not getting the minerals that we need in those crops. The soil is so key.
Growing up on the farm, I really understood this connection. And I start – even now, I'm not a big environmental activist. But I feel like I need to be because it's so important to protect our resources and to protect our soils. And actually, if I want to help a person's health in the clinic, helping on the farm, and what we're growing, and what we're eating from that soil is actually maybe the most important thing I could do.
[00:27:10] SCOTT: Also some overlap there with Zach Bush's work, right? And he talks a lot about the importance of the soil as well.
Unlike most others in your family, you have that hypervigilant, hypersensitive immune response with very limited tolerance for your external environment. I'm wondering if you look back now and think that that might have been Mast Cell Activation Syndrome?
[00:27:34] DR. JILL: Yes. 100%. Again, we didn't have that term back then. But I basically was a histamine factory. And so, I absolutely – and even especially after the mold in later years, one of my biggest things was hives, and congestion, and allergic reaction. And I had horrendously bad – again, you could have called it – back then, we called it atopic diseases, which is like your eczema, your allergies, your asthma. I didn't have asthma, but I had severe, severe allergies and severe eczema. Literally, my skin would almost be bloody and raw from itching and scratching. Now, unbeknownst to me, I was also silent celiac. And I think the gluten in my diet probably made all of this way, way worse. And I didn't know it until I was in my 20s.
[00:28:13] SCOTT: I have commonly used the analogy of the bucket or the overflowing sink, where once the bucket or sink is overflowing, that's essentially the development of symptoms. You use the term – and I borrowed this from you occasionally, you use the term “margin” to essentially empty the bucket enough to provide some margin for additional stressors before we then are overflowing again and having more symptoms. Talk to us about the top contributors that you see that fill our bucket. And then also, the top tools that might help drain or empty the bucket or create margin.
[00:28:48] DR. JILL: Yes. So true. And I like the idea of margin. Because if you're a practice sure like me, and you think of toxic loading, you really start to comprehend how toxic our environment is. How much we're all exposed to? And how it's exponentially increasing every year. And I had a bad 20 years ago with cancer. It's so much worse now.
And I remember when I understood the breast cancer was related to environmental toxicity, I started to clean up, this is 20 years ago, my beauty products, and my cleaning products, and my hair and makeup. And I realized how many things I was using were toxic. It was overwhelming. And that was 20 years ago. It's only gotten worse.
And especially for young girls or young children, their body surface is so much – I mean, it's so much more of a big deal for the absorptive surface. All that to say that this toxic load concept is a big deal. And if you're a practitioner, the scary thing is you're like, "Oh, my gosh! How in the world I'm going to find every last drop in that bucket? It's overwhelming. And then how do I detox from all these things?"
I like to think of it really simply in the margin concept is all you need. Our bodies were born created to detox. We have the liver. We have the ability to detox. And so, if given that margin back – so, say your bucket is analytically basically overflowing, the things that we typically see are autoimmunity, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. Those are the big three. There's more than that. But those are big ones.
And of course, with me, I had both cancer and autoimmunity. And so, when that bucket overflows, as a practitioner, you don't have to know every last toxin. You can test. And I do tests all the time. And different things like metals might be slightly different from mold. But you're still going to do similar principles to lower that load.
And so, giving back margin all of a sudden allows your body to do what it's supposed to do naturally, which is detox. You don't have to empty the bucket. You just have to give back margins so the body can do what it's supposed to do, which is daily empty that bucket.
And I'll go a little further because it's real common now to see books, and protocols, and programs. Like, January, especially 21-day detox. Take a 30-day elimination diet. And these are great if someone has no experience and that's the only thing they're going to ever do. A great intro into that.
But what we need to do as practitioners and as patients is implement daily methods of detoxification. I literally weekly do the sauna. I daily do PEMF mat. I daily do Epsom salt baths. I daily do dry brushing. I eat clean, water, clean air. I practice these things. But you have to actually Implement daily practices and procedures because our load is so heavy. If we do just a once a year kind of thing, we're never going to keep up.
[00:31:15] SCOTT: Totally agree. And I've got my energetically imprinted dandelion in my distilled, re-mineralized, structured water here as well.
[00:31:24] DR. JILL: Awesome. Yeah.
[00:31:26] SCOTT: So many people reach out and are really focused on heavy metals as a primary contributor to their complex chronic illness. I'm very much of the opinion that besides the infections, and mold, and so on, if I'm just thinking about metals, I tend to think that the pesticides and the chemicals trump medals in many or most situations. And I'm wondering, how would you kind of compare the relative impact of pesticides and chemicals in our modern environments compared to heavy metals in terms of chronic illness?
[00:31:57] DR. JILL: Yes, Scott, I totally agree. And one thing I love about you is you are so insightful as far as you interview so many people and see these patterns. And you really do put together things on – I mean, it's amazing. Kudos to you because that's so true.
Metals basically – well, really, let's just think about, for example, if you have a mold exposure and you come into my office and you don't know it's mold but you're really sick. You have cognitive decline. You have exhaustion, and pain, and all kinds of things. How do I think about this? Because there could be a lot of things going on.
And mold, for example, is going to really trash your detox system. And same with many other chemicals. You're basically using up your glutathione much more quickly. It's kind of a saboteur. It actually decreases NADPH, which is one of the things that recycles glutathione. All those factors lead to you walking into the office, you don't feel well. And your depletion of glutathione is so low that, say, you were exposed to gadolinium, or mercury, or lead, or metals, or glyphosate, or pesticides, or phthalates, or parabens, or any of these chemicals. Because you're so impaired detox because of that mold, you're going to look like you're really toxic. And this is very common for people.
But if I don't take care of that big elephant in the room, which is typically the mold that's depleting the glutathione and start the detox process, I could go like whack-a-mole at all these other little things on the playground and never really get anywhere because the big thing in the room is the detox and the depletion of glutathione.
I'm a big fan of taking big picture and saying, "This patient's toxic." Mold is number one. And then infections are number two. And metals for me are number three. I put that towards the bottom. Because what I've seen is, as I detox the patient, take care of the infections, sometimes the detox is so effective after that their bodies is doing its job, that the metals or the other issues are no longer an issue because their body is actually getting rid of it. And it's not always the case. But I usually wait towards the end for that or people are stuck and not getting better.
[00:33:45] SCOTT: If metals are number three, then would you put the pesticides and chemicals after the metals or before the metals most commonly? I know it's going to be different for each patient. But –
[00:33:52] DR. JILL: Yeah. I would do before. Because again, what I'm doing at the very beginning is clean air, clean water, clean food inputs. Daily inputs that are clean. Because that's 80% of the battle. The detox is like after the fact. But if you can get ahead of the game and start to be clean inputs, you can save yourself a lot of grief. And that's those daily practices of filtered water, mineral water, air filters. Like, all the stuff that we need to be doing just to keep those inputs clean.
And why do detox? I'm thinking about likely chemicals, toxins I probably tested. I know the top ones. VOCs are usually on there. Parabens are usually on there from receipts and things. Typically, glyphosates on there for most people. Some type of mold is on there. And what I do is I try to create a protocol that's going to take into account the whole toxic load. Not just mold.
My detox protocol is really incorporating detox on all levels including metals. I might throw a little zeolite or something else in there.
The thing with metals is that I am not the IV chelation expert. Forgive me if someone out there is listening, you're like, "Well, Jill, I do that. And I know how to do it right." I totally agree. I am not – and I know that when you start to mobilize metals, if you don't know what you're doing, you can get them stuck in the wrong places. Like, they can go back in the brain. I am not a big fan. Again, with my expertise at doing heavy IV chelations for metals especially in the beginning. I'll leave that to the experts. But that's my thought on that. Because you can do more harm than good.
[00:35:12] SCOTT: Yeah. No, I totally agree. And my hesitation with heavy IV chelation is the test might look better six months afterwards. But then a year later, two years later, things have started to come back out from the bones, and other tissues, and so on. And so, I don't think – to your earlier point, I don't think IV chelation is, "Okay, we've checked the box. We're done we don't have to revisit detox." I mean, the 21-day detox really should be the as long as you're still breathing detox. Because we really need to detox daily and lifelong.
You're talking a lot about the external environment, clean air, clean water, those things. I'm wondering where you think EMFs fit in this conversation in our external environment. And do you find that EMF hygiene is important in your patient work?
[00:35:56] DR. JILL: Yes. A couple things. There are genetics that are related, that are related – genetic SNPs that make you a little bit more susceptible. A lot of this relates – I am not the expert here either. But I've read enough to know the calcium channels in our cells can be affected by this. And so, people who have more genetic mutations in those channels are going to be more affected.
The other thing I found – and I always quote Klinghardt. But I may be someone else who did the research. But I think there was a study done, a very simple study, with petri dishes growing mold and a regular household router. And one petri dish was shielded and one was not. And from my recollection, the petri dish that was not shielded produced about 600 times the mycotoxin levels.
What I see is anything biological, the Lyme in our bodies, or the mold in our environment or our bodies, or any other kind of even parasites, they are assessing our EMFs. They notice that their biological living organisms just like us. And I do think that study shows what I've seen in clinical practice, which is if you have mold or mycotoxins in your body or in your environment and you have a lot of EMFs, they're going to produce more toxins in that same environment.
I don't know that it certainly could be the EMFs on our cells directly 100%. I think that does affect our mitochondria and our ability to produce energy, and ATP, and cellular communication. However, what if it's even more than that? It's the organisms in our bodies or in our environments, they're actually responding and causing more toxicity and more toxins. I think that might be just as big of an issue. And I think that's why those with mold toxicity or mold colonization tend to have more trouble with EMFs than those who don't. Because if that mold is really producing more toxins in your body, granted you're going to have bigger effects in an environment that has high EMFs.
[00:37:36] SCOTT: Totally love that. When I started being a patient of Dr Klinghardt's in 2006, at the time, he wouldn't even take people that weren't willing to reduce their EMFs to have a sleep sanctuary and all of those things. And sadly, back then, most people laughed at his thoughts about EMFs. And I think most people today are probably not laughing so much anymore. It's a significant issue.
You've lectured on LPS or lipopolysaccharides and endotoxins. Wondering, do we have a way now to test for endotoxins in the body? How can we mitigate them? And then might there be now an overlap in this conversation with endotoxins that are produced in the body and those that are environmental exposures such as actinomycetes, for example? Do we need to look both inside and outside the body to reduce LPS and endotoxin?
[00:38:25] DR. JILL: Okay. Let's frame. Many of your listeners know because you always speak at such a high level. But endotoxemia, what is it, first of all? LPS is a gram-negative bacterial coating. And typically, it's inner microbiome. It's the bacteria of our microbiome. And what happens is in the situation where there's some permeability in the gut, which I typically now assume that we all have some degree of intestinal permeability or leaky gut, some worse than others. Things like mold make it really bad. Chemicals, chemotherapy. There's a lot of things that alcohol makes it worse. But in general, most of our population has some degree of leaky gut. We have these bacteria in our gut, microbiome. And the coatings of bacteria, when they cross over in the condition of a leaky gut. So, the parasites, they cross between the cells into the bloodstream, which is only one cell layer away from the lumen of the gut. They are literally the most inflammatory trigger to our HLA immune system activation.
And what that is, is basically our dendritic cells are like Pac-Man waiting in the bloodstream for things that come through the gut saying, "Oh, gosh! Is that a bacteria? Is it salmonella? Is it a parasite?" They're ready to protect us from foreign Invaders. But what can happen is if a corn antigen goes in or lipopolysaccharide bacterial coating goes in, they can still react. And what they do is they react, they clamp on and they send a signal to our immune system, "Send all the troops. There's something bad. Something dangerous. Alert! Alert! Alert!" So, that goes off when we have the LPS. And LPS in all people is known to be a very potent trigger of cytokine production.
Now, this even happened in COVID. There was an absolute connection between LPS, leaky gut, and COVID situations becoming worse because that trigger of the cytotoxins and the chemicals like IL-6, and IL-2, and TNF Alpha. Ae can measure these in the blood. Basically, that lipopolysaccharide crosses over into the blood, triggers an inflammatory reaction.
And we know now, Scott, it's crazy. When I really looked at the literature, the associations with LPS endotoxemia are heart disease, obesity, diabetes. In fact, the pathway to becoming diabetic is almost always linked to LPS endotoxemia. That's crazy. It's in the gut. It starts in the gut.
And then we talk about insomnia, mood disorders, even low testosterone in men. There's many, many, many things. And if we take that as a whole, that's the most of the chronic complex disease and at least in the US, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, even cancer. This LPS endotoxemia history is so far-reaching. And it relates to our gut. It relates to the permeability.
And then what you said is could it be environmental? Because we know in a water damaged building, there's toxic soup. And some of those toxic soup components are mold. But some of them are bacterial components, like actinomyces or other types of triggers. And LPS is one of them.
We also know from the teeth, if someone has a root canal and their immune system is weak, that dripping up a little bit of bacteria that might be left from a non-sterile situation into the bloodstream can cause basically LPS endotoxemia in your jaw. You can have LPS cross the blood-brain barrier in a leaky brain situation. You can have LPS be a trigger to endothelial dysfunction and heart attack. This is so far reaching. And it's also a trigger for autoimmunity.
I just covered about everything we deal with, like 90% of it. This is such a big story because then what do we do? Number one, I just said most of us have leaky gut. We need to, again, be thinking about what can we do to shore up our guts. And the very basics – I'm a huge fan of spore probiotics because, number one, they're one of the few probiotics that have evidence with LPS endotoxemia and even fatty liver, which fatty liver is just a consequence of that dumping of LPS into the liver, which is again the first pass after the blood goes from the gut, goes right to the liver. If we have high LPS, it's dumping into the liver and that's one of the big contributing factors to fatty liver disease.
All this to say, what do we do? Well, spore probiotics are a huge form of help, and they tend to help diversity of the microbiome. And they can decrease endotoxemia. Number two, bovine immunoglobulins, whey protein, or colostrum. I like bovine the best. But all three of those serve similar purposes because they basically add immunoglobulins to our diet, to our gut. And these immunoglobulins can passively bind up LPS. They can also bind Candida. They can also bind H. pylori. They can bind COVID virus. Literally, the studies show that this immunoglobulins, bovine immunoglobulins. Whey protein is a small source. And so is colostrum. All three of those things can passively act as binding agents in our gut for these pathogens that can create inflammation.
I'm a huge fan of spore probiotics, bovine immunoglobulins. And then my newest friend kid on the block is butyrate. Butyrate. Butyrate. Love. Love. Love. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid. And we know that this affects the bile acids, and the cardiovascular disease risk, and so many things. And I think it's been underutilized. But butyric acid in one form or the other. Again, long COVID. Guts that are maybe past a salmonella or an IBS type of thing where they got sick and got – they call it post-infectious IBS. And all of these kinds of situations, those are some of the core things we could do to shore up that LPS. And again, we all have it. And the more leaky our gut is, the more it's going to affect our system. But that's it in a nutshell.
[00:43:32] SCOTT: I love it. And my understanding is there really is no way yet to test for LPS in the bloodstream. Is that still the case?
[00:43:39] DR. JILL: Correct. The research talks about – what they'll do is postprandial. Four or five hours is the cut off. And if they see that quadruple at four or five hours in the blood. And again, it's research only. We don't really have the ability to test for direct LPS. What we do have is we can check IgG and IgA to LPS. And that's the antibodies to it. And it's a decent way to check. You can also check antibodies to occludin and zonulin, which are those trapdoors between the cells that determine leaky gut.
[00:44:08] SCOTT: We talked a little bit earlier, and you talked in the book about how your mother may have herself had a bucket that was overflowing. That some of these things may have been in play even before you were born. What are some of the things that you would suggest people think of as top options for preparing for a healthy pregnancy?
[00:44:25] DR. JILL: Yeah. This is so key. Because many women go in and they want to get pregnant. They'll maybe spend a lot of money on fertility treatments. But they're not really thinking about their body as the home to a fetus for nine months. And what happens is the placenta has a microbiome. It's going to transmit to your baby. When you give birth, especially vaginally, you actually inoculate your baby with the gut microbiome from your vaginal flora. And that's why C-section babies are known to have different microbiomes than vaginal deliveries. And sometimes it's lifelong because it's a difference in the route of how they come out of the body.
And the other thing mothers can do is think about detox well ahead of their pregnancy. If you're pregnant, it's too late. Because breast milk contains a lot of our – We detox through the breast milk, and even the placenta, and the womb that we can pass on toxins to the baby.
You'd never want to detox while you're trying to get pregnant, or during pregnancy, or even after because you're breastfeeding. But if you think ahead of time, a year or so, you can do some basic detox. You could do – maybe enhance your glutathione. Make sure your clean air, clean water, clean food. And then all those things are practical. Because if you get your environment, you have clean food, you have a source of clean water, you have air filters and clean air in your home, that's going to affect that baby as well. Getting those things in place at least a year or so ahead of the time when you really want to become pregnant is ideal.
And then optimizing thyroid. Optimizing your detox routes. Making sure – again, I wouldn't sauna. I wouldn't take binders. I wouldn't do any of that while you're trying to get pregnant, while you're pregnant, while you're breastfeeding. But if you can do it six months to a year ahead of time, that would be ideal.
[00:45:53] SCOTT: How might highly sensitive people be more intuitive but also more likely to experience symptoms in their physical bodies? What is an HSP or highly sensitive person? You talk about that in the book. And how is being highly sensitive both a blessing and a curse? And how might it even impact the size of the bucket that we talked about earlier?
[00:46:15] DR. JILL: Yeah, I love this. This is where, again, growing up in a stoic German family. I had no idea I was in HSP. Elaine Aron, she wrote her book. It's called The HSP. I think something very simple like that. And I, literally in my 30s, found this book, Scott. And I was literally like glued to the book. And I literally cried because I was like, "Oh, my goodness! This is me. This is why."
And HSP, they're about 10% to 15% of the population. And what we are is we are highly sensitive to sound, and light, and smells, and over-stimulation. And she talks about that psychological effect and how we need to rest and retreat sometimes. And we might we might appear to be like isolated or maybe just socially shy. I was never super socially shy. But we can appear to be something that we're not. But what it is, it's like over-stimulation.
I can remember as a kid, I would go to my girlfriend's slumber parties. Like, seventh grade or sixth grade. And I'd be the one that, like, by nine o'clock I was snoozing and I would get – They steal your bra and put in the freezer. That's the trick of the junior high girls. Or something stupid, right?
But I remember always feeling, totally, I didn't fit in. Because all these girls, they could have all this interaction all night long. And I would come home. And you can ask my mother to a T, every time I came home from a slumber party, I get sick the next day. Every time. And my mother finally said, "Jill, you can't go anymore." And of course, I'm like loving my girlfriends.
And I remember at that moment, among others, "What is wrong with me? Why can't I keep up with the other girls? What is wrong with me?" And I knew amusement parks, most people as children love amusement parks, they were a nightmare to me. Hot, sight, sounds, sweat, noises, horrible food. And the rides themselves were very disruptive to my system. I hated roller coasters. And now I look back, like, "Oh! No wonder. Those are all traits of a highly sensitive person." That's the difficulty.
And what it creates in a person who doesn't understand this, number one, in relationships. Your partner, your parents, your children all think, "What's wrong with her? She can't handle this or that." There's always this feeling like something's wrong with me. Number two, you get easily overwhelmed in situations. And so, you feel, "What's wrong with me in social situations or this?" And understanding that is so powerful. Because the other side of this, there's a huge gift. And what it is, is I would observe environments. I would observe in textbooks, in medical school and pretty much my whole entire life. And I would see patterns, and details, and things that other people missed.
And in conversations, I'm sitting with someone one-on-one and I'd see a flicker in their eye, like, "What happened when you were 12? Tell me more about that." I'd noticed something that no one else noticed. And same with my patients. If I'm listening and I'm with them present, I'll notice these details that no one else has ever asked them about and no one's had noticed. In the blessing part of this, I am an incredible detective because the details I see. And I see way more details and things than other people. And that's part of what floods my nervous system, is I get so much stimulation.
And the beautiful thing is now I know, coloring, PEMF mat, being in nature, being near water, being on a beach, I can ground myself and restore that. And I know for me, whether it's in a relationship, or friends and family, or at work, I have a certain amount of alone time I just require. I have to recharge alone. And I can be in my head and thinking up great, beautiful things and be happy. And that will recharge me. And then I can go back into the world.
But this is a trait that's common. And if you're listening and you have this, you're nodding, you know. And I just want to say, the biggest thing about it is understanding you're normal. You're not crazy. You're not weird. You're not – there's nothing wrong with you. And there is a gift to it.
Now, the other piece that you said that I really want to talk about that I wrote in the book and I don't think anyone's ever written about this, is she talks about the psychological effects I just described. What I think is this environmental toxic, the people that we see, the canaries, I think many of them are HSPs. I think many of them unbeknownst are the ones. And so, not only is it socially, emotionally, mentally straining. It's chemically. We're the ones that are going to get breast cancer at 25 because of the chemicals. We're the ones that are going to get sick from mold and the other people don't. I think there's a connection to the environmental toxic load in the HSPS. Those are the ones I see in my clinic that are sick from the environmental toxins, too.
[00:50:23] SCOTT: Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, there's a obviously a lot of overlap here with HSPS and empaths as well, right?
[00:50:28] DR. JILL: Yes. Absolutely.
[00:50:30] SCOTT: Being able to sense things. But then, also sometimes that becomes more of an issue in our physical bodies as well.
You became a vegetarian at age 14. My observation over the years has been that people with chronic illness sometimes do need some animal protein to accelerate their healing. Wondering, are you still vegetarian today? And can vegetarians heal as readily as those that consume some healthy source of animal protein?
[00:50:58] DR. JILL: I love this. I look back. And again, I had silent celiac unbeknownst to me. My gut was probably a mess and I didn't know it. Later when I had Crohn's, I realized I had severe fungal dysbiosis. At the age of 14, all I knew was – and I was hypochloridric. Type A blood tends to be less production of stomach acid. And type O tends to produce a lot.
Yeah. I was the type A, A+ blood. And that meant my natural stomach acid production was low. Looking back, here's what I think happened. I had low stomach acid. I had undiagnosed celiac. So, malabsorption nutrients. I probably had a zinc deficiency due to the lack of stomach acid. Zinc causes – when more deficient, causes an abhorrence to meat. We don't like the taste of meat. It doesn't taste good.
And think about this, if I have no stomach acid and I eat a piece of hamburger or a steak, it's going to feel really awful in my stomach because I can't break it down. I think – I mean, there wasn't a big ethical thing. It was just I don't feel well with meat. Why do I have to eat it at 14? And I think now looking back, it was because of malabsorption, low stomach acid, low zinc that led me intuitively at that time to be like, "Oh! Meat doesn't feel good."
But I say now, Scott, at 25, I realized that vegetarian lifestyle almost killed me. I'm in agreement with you. Because what happened is I was severely B12 deficient. Had no idea. I have some SNPs in my B12 metabolism. And I need it more anyway. And then taking out meat for 10 years, from 14 to 25 – 11 years actually. I was severely deficient. Probably severely, severely. Like, level of 100 in the blood. And I gravitated away from meat because it didn't feel good. But it was because I was so sick in other ways.
And then what I realized, because I didn't know any better and because I had fungal dysbiosis, I was more of a carbatarian. I had processed soy. I didn't know any better. That was what I thought – that was my source of protein. I had lots of carbs and lots of sugars. I had lots of gluten. It was the most horrible vegetarian diet you could imagine. Not knowing that it was almost killing me.
And then when I realized with the breast cancer and the Crohn's, I had to switch. And when I did the specific carbohydrate diet, I absolutely added meat back in. Now I still have avoided red meat because I just do not do well with red meat. I don't feel well. I don't digest it well. But fish and chicken, absolutely. And I actually need that protein from animal products.
And I think now, what you alluded to, I can help a vegetarian or vegan and I have no problem whatever lifestyle you choose. But some of the most unhealthy nutritional patients that come to me are in that category. I hate to say that, but that's the truth. And I was one of them.
[00:53:21] SCOTT: Yeah. We talked a little bit about the wrong choices in beauty products and personal care products, that they can lead to endocrine disruption, to an overload of pseudo or xenoestrogens. What do you recommend today to people that do want to have some healthy makeup or maybe color their hair but they don't want to add to their buckets?
[00:53:41] DR. JILL: Yeah. This is so tricky. Because what we have is we have these like super beautiful organic brands that are almost like edible. And there's some out there that we love. And I use some of them. But some of them don't work. You really want to style your hair or you really want to color your hair. Some of those things I feel like they're amazing and super safe and simple.
And then we have this midline. And this is one reason why I created actually a skincare line that I have because I wanted something that actually had the kind of ingredients, like retinols and peptides that actually have the power to be anti-aging on our face or our body but didn't have the toxins, the parabens, the phthalates, and the chemicals. And in that middle is where I like to land. I still use the natural products. But if I really want anti-aging under my eyes or my skin, I like the powerhouses the peptides, of hyaluronic acid, of retinoids. And I use them. But I use them in products that don't have the phthalates and parabens. And then on this side is the most common stuff. And I won't name brands, but your classic –
[00:54:32] SCOTT: You can if you want. And you're welcome to.
[00:54:34] DR. JILL: Okay. Well, L'Oreal, and Estee Lauder, and those really common brands out there, they are so toxic. Bath and Body Works, so toxic. And that's like the most popular place for people to get these things. You really need to go to like your health food store or online, some of the vendors.
Now the good news is even like Sephora online is a classic, place where people get beauty products. There are good choices. Tarte is a mineral-based bareMinerals. And there's some others like Jane Iredale make some really clean products. Those are some of the ones that I tend to use. But you can literally look and see if you see paraben or any sort of perfume or fragrance is going to be phthalates. And that's another thing.
Your perfumes. A lot of women love these beautiful, expensive perfumes. I was no different. Now all I use is essential oil based. They're super cheap. They're inexpensive. I could make them myself. And my scent is coconut and vanilla. It's fairly simple. Like you could eat, you know? Like it really smells. Or like mom's cooking cookies in the kitchen. But that's my perfume. And I don't mind it. I just am fine with that because the other kinds of perfumes.
Now, if you have a really wonderful expensive perfume that means a lot to you, at least spray it on your clothes and not on your skin because we absorb so much to the skin. But perfumes and fragrances are a huge source as well. And most women don't even know that. And fragrances can be hidden. They'll just say fragrance and it doesn't tell you. But it's almost guaranteed to be a phthalate or a paraben.
[00:55:52] SCOTT: How common is it that your patients are type A personalities, over-achievers, do-do-do to feel their worth and their value and don't feel deserving of wellness? Is that a common pattern that you see? And might there be a type C personality that also sets the stage for chronic illness?
[00:56:10] DR. JILL: Yes. Yes, the type A's are – because again, they're seeking out with optimal health. They're the biohackers out there. Like, "What can I do to optimize my brain?" And they've done everything in their work life and everything else, their family life and they're like, "Okay. Now, I'm a human body."
There's not a bad thing about that as far as the drive and the ability to follow through and maybe set a plan and do it. That's all good and that's what's made them successful. And I'm part of that category at times, too. But the difficulty is when you either feel like your value, or your worth, or your ability to be loved is based on achievement. That tends to be a big issue because there's no amount of achievement that will ever fulfill that love tank or that fulfill that worthiness tank. And again, I'm a recovering perfectionist. Recovering kind of workaholic. And those things are so – they're so subtle.
And guess what? Say you're an alcoholic, or a drug addict, or you overeat, or you shop and you have a huge debt. Those things – Society kind of shames you, which shouldn't be the case. But there's a lot of shame around those things. When you're a workaholic and you're doing amazing in business, and you're starting new companies, and you're you know changing the world, there's a lot of recognition and things that are positive accolades that come with that type of addiction. And yet, it's still just as harmful if it's affecting your relationships, or personal life, or your ability to really rest.
For me, one of the things I realized is I can go, go, go, go, go. But to actually sit and rest, I almost get anxious. I want to be doing something. And even my best thinking and writing, I was moving, and walking, and dictating. Movement was always my thing. But as I dealt with my old trauma and some of those patterns, I realized that sitting still and being still with myself, sometimes the fear, or the sadness, or the old emotions would come up and that's what made me anxious. But being with myself and allowing that to come up. And it sometimes feels like a tsunami wave and then it comes down, is part of the healing and part of the recovering from that perfectionism, that type A, that workaholism. I really believe at the core of most workaholics, type A's, there's trauma.
[00:58:07] SCOTT: Guilty as charged, I would say.
[00:58:09] DR. JILL: I know. Yeah. Yeah.
[00:58:12] SCOTT: Stress plays such a key role in our lives and in illness. Not being able to move into a parasympathetic healing state that supports rest, digest, detoxify, and heal. What are some of your simple tips to reduce toxic stress and shift into a parasympathetic healing state?
[00:58:30] DR. JILL: Yes. Breath is huge. And you guys have all heard. It's all over the place now. Breath work and using breath to change. And you can do either like a four, six, eight breath where you breathe in for four, hold for six, breathe out for eight. Box breath, where it's four, four, four. A lot of these are calming to the sympathetic system and upregulating to the parasympathetic.
And again, there's a lot more experts out there than me on breath. But it’s very simple things. Even just breathing through your nose and holding and breathing out. And hopefully you're doing that with me as you're listening. Just very – I feel calm all of a sudden. Just really nice.
On the other side of that, you can actually use breath to upregulate if you need energy. You can go – where you're actually doing more of a psycho holotropic breath or one of these breaths where you're actually stimulating blowing off of CO2 and changing the pH of your blood. And you can stimulate your brain to be like on. Those are all kinds of ways you can use breath. Breath is powerful. And breath is number one.
And I always say, even those people who are chronic fatigue, or long COVID, or you're really suffering and you can't exercise, I'm sure a lot of your listeners have exercise intolerance. And what you can still do is move. I always say, even if you can't do a big workout, you want to be moving. Maybe it's just a walk. Maybe it's a hike. Whatever you could tolerate. But movement is so key for our nervous system.
And literally, there's a thing with the limbic system and the peripheral retinal inputs that having things go bias. Meaning, we walk. And we have the motion going via sideways is calming to our limbic system. Just whenever I feel stressed or I need an idea, I literally go out and walk. And I get the best ideas when I'm moving because that's a great way to calm. And even though we're active, we're still in a good rhythmic. And the cross – or our bodies back and forth is also calming. There are bunches of things there.
A hug. So, so simple. But we co-regulate one another. If you have a friend, or a family member, or a spouse, or a child and you're feeling stressed or whatever, you can literally co-regulate. And many of us are like hug and then get away. We want to hold and hold that hug gently until we actually feel in our body that kind of release. And that hug is powerful. It's why we hug. And we don't know it, but it's a powerful stimulator of co-regulation. And we can do that with another person. And we can not only have us co-regulated. But we can co-regulate them. That's powerful.
Eye contact. Getting together with a friend and having coffee or just having a conversation. The eye contact between people is one of the ways we co-regulate. And it goes way back to birth and our mother holding us right here and looking down and gazing into our eyes. That's one of the first ways that our mother would regulate our nervous systems as babies. And some people never had that or didn't have it. And so, even now, maybe it's hard to hold the gaze. But that's something you can work with.
For me, being in nature. The sound of water. Hiking in the woods. Hiking on the mountain. Any sort of natural surroundings. And we know, like, on beaches – I've had some conversations with docs like myself that treat lots of mast cell and severe patients are very reactive. And always, if they're vacationing or if they go live and they live near the ocean, it's probably the negative ions. It's the fact that their feet are maybe more barefoot on the beach sometimes. And there's probably lots of things. But that's very good for the nervous system and very calming.
Music. Music has power. And most of us have those memories where we remember a song. Like, a song from the 80s. I'm like, "Oh! I remember my seventh-grade dance and that boy that asked me to dance on that song." And like that feeling of being in love. And it wasn't love at all. And whatever. But we have these memories and then we'll go on. And the song can trigger that. You guys remember that. You're in a car and you're like, "Oh, I remember my first kiss. Or I remember this." And a song can trigger that. Music of whatever type has the ability to regulate.
I will say, more coherent music has more data behind the regulation, like, classical, or binaural beats, or even some symphonic music. Versus heavy metals a little bit jarring to the system. No judgment if you like that. But it's a very different physiological outcome. And there's literally data to support the differences in the synchronistic kind of music versus something that's a little bit more harsh, or jarring or maybe has different beats, or whatever. Whatever feels good to you. Music, I love.
And then – Gosh! There are so many other things. For me, part of the recovery was making myself sit and be still. And also letting someone take care of me. Many of us who have had trauma, we're good at taking care of others. But to let someone in, it's actually very vulnerable to ask for help, or to have needs, or to let someone in to take care of us. Because all of a sudden, then there's vulnerability. And what if they hurt me or what if there's old trauma patterns? Actually, asking for help or letting someone help you is another way to start to heal.
[01:02:58] SCOTT: I felt very calm when we were doing the breathing. And then there was a long pause. And I went, "Oh, my gosh! Zoom connection dropped." And then I became very sympathetic.
[01:03:07] DR. JILL: Oh, no.
[01:03:10] SCOTT: How has curiosity played a role in becoming the practitioner you are today? How does it lead to solutions that others may miss or never consider? And is curiosity synonymous with being a seeker?
[01:03:23] DR. JILL: This is another thing that I realized. I've read a lot about flow. And Steven Kotler, who turned me on. And of course, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, if I'm saying that right, who was the original flow researcher. And he actually died while I was writing the book. He's one of my heroes.
I'm saying that because what I realized when I was studying flow is purpose, and passion, and curiosity are some of the drivers of flow states. And flow states are those timeless, effortless states where we feel like we could be doing something, immersed in something.
When I was rock climbing, I was there. When I'm with a patient, I'm there. When I'm coloring. When I may be out in nature. Maybe I'm riding my motorcycle. Those are all flow states. And that part of the entrance into flow is curiosity.
And again, I didn't realize that this was a quality that I had in spades. But as I started to research it, I'm like, "Oh, yeah. I always want to know the why. I'm so curious." And that it's almost like opening your mind to possibilities and saying what else is possible? Because if we have a very black and white analytical view of the world, we might be like, "Okay, A equals B equals C or whatever." And that's all we can think of. But if we open our mind to possibilities.
And the old IQ test used to be very driven by shapes, and doing this, and calculating data. Nowadays, a lot of the big companies, like Google and Amazon, they're hiring employees more based on curiosity. And they do that by having this open-ended question, "Here's a jar of marbles. What's the 10 things, or 20, or 100 things you can think to do with them?" And one person might say, "Oh, they're little like space aliens and they do –" Just something stupid. But it's like totally creative off the wall. And they can actually rate their potential for their employees to come up with good, creative ideas based on this test of creativity. And it's not IQ-based. It's different from IQ.
What I realized in researching for the book is creativity is a powerhouse. It's like a superpower. And also, I did not know this either, highly associated with genius. Like, some of the greatest geniuses of our time, Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, I could name many, many more. One of their high qualities was creativity and curiosity.
And literally, the doorway into creativity. Finding new novel solutions to a problem has to have curiosity add the foundation because you have to say, "What else is possible?"
And when I say that phrase, "What else is possible?" that literally – even as I say it, it's a neuro-linguistic trick. It opens your mind to think. If you're in a situation where you're like, "Oh, gosh! The bills due at the end of the month. I don't know what to do." You can literally tell yourself, "Well, Jill, what else is possible?" And that literally allows your subconscious to start brewing and thinking of ideas. And I especially like you doing that right for bed. You have a situation you think is impossible. You think about it right for bed and you say, "Well, what else is possible?" Go to sleep. Guess what? You'll dream up solutions. Your mind at night will work overtime to help you find.
And our subconscious is like that's what it's for. It's meant to chew on all these things that are subconsciously assimilated during the day and come up with solutions. Part of the creativity and the ability to find solutions to complex problems is curiosity.
[01:06:16] SCOTT: In the book, you have a list of lab tests that everyone should do before the age of 30. We're not going to cover all of them. But I do have a few that maybe we can just do some rapid-fire thoughts around. The first one was ApoB, part of a lipid panel, can contribute to cardiovascular disease. As I understand, there can be a genetic component. I'm wondering how commonly you see elevations of ApoB? What are some of the tools that you might consider to reduce or optimize it? And would you be working more with optimization of gene expression or more towards the reduction of lipids overall?
[01:06:51] DR. JILL: Yeah. This is a whole hour topic we could have. And I'll try to just give you a snippet. And I will also say, my friend, Mark Houston, is a brilliant – he works the heart and he knows endothelial dysfunction in and out. And if I ever have a question, I ask him because I feel like I know this well enough. But I am not your best expert.
But I do know this, cholesterol is not the whole story, right? We've known that. And cholesterol is a precursor of – first of all, it's what your bile stores. When you detoxing, you're actually using that to pull out some of the toxins as well. And it's a precursor of all of our hormones. Male and female hormones are cortisol. And we need some cholesterol. We know that mortality is optimized between 210 and 250, which is higher than most cardiologists will recommend. I'm going to say I like people to be a little higher than their cardiologist does.
Now, the caveat is say you have a 55-year-old man who's just had a heart attack, those are the ones that absolutely benefit from statins and from lowering cholesterol. There's no question. It's anti-inflammatory. Secondary prevention of a heart attack especially in men, there is good data. And I would use a statin even then.
But back to this ApoB. And where does this play into this? I'm looking at the big picture. And what I'm looking at is back to the LPS story and all of that, the LDL, and the ApoB, and the particulate size of the cholesterol. The bigger issue is not what's there. It's what's oxidized. And this is the same as reactive oxygen. We have toxicity of any type in our body, poor food, poor environmental air quality, mold in our home. All that causes oxidation. It's like your old car starts to become rusty. That's oxidation. Oxidation is what causes inflammatory cholesterol particles.
I go – not that I don't look at that number and try to treat it. And I'll give you some things I use. But I go back and say, "What's causing oxidation? Environmental toxic load?" Well, let's go to detox. Let's go to inputs. Clean air, clean water, clean food, clean diet for sure. And there's a small percentage of people, usually the ApoE 4/4, which are high risk of Alzheimer's and hyperlipidemia, they do not do well in saturated fats. They must be on a vegetarian or very low saturated fat animal product diet. There's no doubt in my mind that's the best thing for them.
But for the majority of other people, I am not afraid of a little saturated fat. I love extra virgin olive oil. And typically, the cardiovascular research just supports that so heavily that I'll put them on a good dose of extra virgin olive oil. Sometimes even taking a little bit extra. And that's not a problem.
Now, purely cholesterol levels and oxidative stress, what do you do? Well, fish oil, over and over again, shows decreased blood viscosity and anti-inflammatory effects. And especially now that we're getting some of these products that have the SPMs. If you think about EPA, goes to DHP, goes to DHA, goes down to this pro resolvents and mediators. These guys down the bottom are called SPMs. We never used to talk about them. Post-COVID, they're one of my favorite things to use with fish oil. They're one of my favorite things to use cardiovascular disease. I would put someone on a combination of fish oil and SPMs for sure.
If I'm really looking at just oxidized LDL, red yeast rice will bring it down just like a statin. And that can be used. But it must be used with CoQ10. That's kind of a standard. There's also things like obviously plant-based sterols and phenols. So, you want to get lots of fruits and vegetables, leafy greens. Fibers are crucial. And some people benefit from niacin that can be good for increasing the HDL.
And ApoB itself can be a little tricky to address. That's why I'm kind of skirting around the issue because there's not always one intervention nutritionally that will change that. But if we look at the whole lifestyle and all the things that I've mentioned, that's usually the best way to go.
[01:10:14] SCOTT: That was a whole master class. That was impressive. Thank you. TMAO is discussed in the realm of exogenous phosphatidylcholine. It's been said that the administration of PC can increase TMAO. Though I've heard some brands like BodyBio for example suggest that that's not the case with their products. Talk to us about TMAO. What is it? Do we test for it? And what do we do when it's elevated?
[01:10:39] DR. JILL: I love this, Scott, because I have a real strong opinion on this. TMAO is produced by our microbiome. And so, people who tend to eat a ton of meat and people who are vegetarian have a very different predisposition towards producing TMAO. And when someone has a high TMAO, there are correlations with risk for heart disease and coronary artery disease. Most cardiologists who are checking this will say we need to lower your TMAO. And what they'll say is you need to get rid of carnitine. You need to get rid of meat. And you need to get rid of phosphorylcholine and any sort of precursors. Those are the big ones.
But acetyl-lcarnitine, it's one of my favorite nutrients. It increases acetylcholine in the brain. It helps mitochondria. I love it. I hate taking patients off that. Phosphatidylcholine, love it. It's cell membranes. It's like having an oil change in your brain and nervous system. It's helpful for so many things. Love it.
And then of course, we just talked about like fish, especially like wild caught salmon is such a healthy part of the diet. But here's the deal. Yes, the TMAO is super high. You may temporarily – I had a patient who was a young dentist who had a heart attack in her 40s. And she had high TMAO. And we did take her off all those things. But guess what? I found severe fungal and bacterial dysbiosis in her gut. I treated her gut aggressively, and then the TMAO went down. And I realized, "Okay, we're barking up the wrong tree. TMAO was related to the gut microbiome. So, let's fix the gum microbiome and then give back a little bit."
I will say, I don't think – I think PC can raise TMAO with the wrong microbiome no matter where the source. Even the good forms, which I'd love for patients. I love PC. So, don't get me wrong there. But even the beautiful forms, the cleanest forms. I take BodyBio. I love it. They still – in a person who has a microbiome that's predisposed to make TMAO could produce TMAO from that.
[01:12:19] SCOTT: Many people in medicine suggest that iron is commonly low, and copper commonly high. Others, like Morley Robbins, suggests that iron is commonly high, and copper commonly low. Where do you stand on the iron-copper debate?
[01:12:33] DR. JILL: Okay. Iron is very pro-inflammatory. If you think about oxidative stress, reactive oxygen. If you have iron in the cells and there's reactive oxygen, you basically again create massive oxidative stress with these heme products. In the wrong person, a person like myself with one gene for hemochromatosis, which means for every bit of iron that I eat – this, again, might have been the reason at 14 I intuitively went away from me because I have one gene for this iron overload. And it's never been an issue. Because when I went through Crohn's, I was losing blood. And so, I never saw that until later post-menopausally.
But all that to say, for me, iron is inflammatory because I grab onto it, I hold on to it and it creates reactive oxygen in my body. For someone like me, you'd want actually low red meat or no red meat, which is what I do. No red meat. I do fish and chicken. And you'd want to never supplement with iron unless you were severely anemic for some other reason. And what I do is hydrogen. Either breathing hydrogen or hydrogen tabs is one way to neutralize the reactive oxygen especially in an iron overload situation.
Now, there's another population that has excessive bleeding or some other cause of low iron. Typically, women that are menstruating, or heavy menorrhagia, or periods. They need iron. I mean, you need iron to make blood cells. You need iron to breathe. You need iron. So, there are subsets.
I would say it's about – but I would say more of my patients with chronic illness, autoimmunity, Lyme disease, mold illness have excess iron versus too little. That's more common especially postmenopausal women. That's one of the shifts. No longer bleeding all of a sudden. You're going to have more accumulation of iron. Things change a lot for men and women in that range of like 40 to 50-years-old.
Copper. I see a lot more excess copper because there's a lot of things in our environment that have a copper-like effect. And copper is very associated with estrogen and zinc with progesterone. I way, way more often see zinc deficiency excess copper. In fact, we check this with kids with ADD. We check this with Alzheimer's patients. Copper-zinc ratios. And you want them at least one-to-one, if not even a little higher in the zinc.
Now, if you take loads and loads of zinc, you can lower copper, which is how I start to lower it. And if you take too much zinc, you can lower copper too much. But I typically don't see that until post menopause, again, in women and men, older men. Because at that point, if they take a lot of zinc, they have no estrogen and no correlation with that copper. And they can get too low.
Signs of copper deficiency, which is rare, would be like low white blood count. And there's other reasons for that. But if you have chronically low leukocytes, that would be a sign of copper deficiency. But I would say, 80% of time, it's excess copper. Not deficiency. And the way to treat that would be to give more zinc and to make sure their multi or their mineral does not have extra copper in it at all.
[01:15:10] SCOTT: Let's talk a bit about the importance of neuroplasticity and then tie that into the limbic system, limbic system impairment, limbic system retraining tools. How important is it for your patients to create new neural patterns to support their healing to become unstuck? And what are some of your favorite tools in that realm?
[01:15:29] DR. JILL: Yeah. And I love this concept because it's kind of like our initial part of the conversation with mold, and resilience, and exposures. So often, we get discouraged. And we're like, "Oh, I'm always going to be this way. Or I'm always going to be sick." And the truth is we have so much ability. I mean, our bodies cell wise regenerates itself every year or two, right? The bone, and the tissues, and everything.
The brain is no different. Even if you've had like a NeuroQuant that shows terrible atrophy in certain areas of the brain after mold, or you've had some issues, you name it, our brains are very plastic. And I believe, in many, many cases, we can recover and recover full if not most of our function.
Neuroplasticity is the ability to make new neuro connections but also to really restore the brain function. And our brain is just like any other organ. We kind of set it aside. But I really think – I recently posted, Scott, about how I think of depression, anxiety and mood disorders are rarely organic. And it was very controversial. But the truth is – so that means like I'm born with this. I can't fix it.
What I see now is toxins, infections, inflammation, autoimmunity, wrong diets. You can name a hundred things and they affect the brain. Even LPS as we talked about earlier. And so, all of these things are affecting our brain and producing a pattern that looks like depression. And it is depression. There's nothing wrong with that. But the root cause it's not organic in the sense of it's changeable.
And neuroplasticity deals with our ability to actually change how we function. It's why we can recover from trauma. Even the worst of the PTSD, we have the ability to recover and create new pathways. I always think of it as like say about the old Wild West and the wagon wheels were going from the East Coast all the way to Wyoming or something. And they would create these wagon wheels and the next sellers would keep coming and they get deeper, and deeper, and deeper. And pretty soon, you couldn't go anywhere but where the wagon wheels. So you'd have to follow that path. Our brains are like that. If we repeat things over, and over, and over again, and maybe we think, "Oh, I'm not worth anything unless I'm achieving." Or, "I'm not worthy of love because of X, Y or Z." Or, "I can't trust my intuition." Or whatever patterns of thinking we have, they get to be worn grooves. But in order to come out of that groove, we have to think a new way or say a new thing.
One of the ways I reprogrammed my brain was after breast cancer, Crohn's disease, and then mold illness. I remember one day realizing my whole life I've been fighting. Fighting cancer. Fighting Crohn's. And I'm good at fighting. I overcame it all, right? But I realized with the mold – also, I have mold toxicity. The mold caused massive cytokine inflammation. My face was a wreck. I had acne, hives, horribleness. And I realized that that same pattern of fighting was what my body was actually doing from the mold inside. And if I kept fighting, I was going to die.
And that day I realized that I had heard a podcast about a man who he needed bone marrow transplant. And the doctor said we need this many blood cells from your bone marrow. So, you go home and then come back in three weeks and we're going to do that bone marrow biopsy and take these cells. And he said, "Well, what can I do?" And they're like, "Well, you could try meditation or whatever," kind of laughingly.
And this guy took it seriously. And he started meditating on his bone marrow. And he came back. And the yield they had from that bone marrow transplant was like 10 times anyone else they had seen. Like, what in the world did you do? He said, "Well, every day, I just meditated on my blood cells and production." And you know, we know this, the mind-body connection. But when I heard that story, I thought, "Well, I can meditate on my mold, and my body, and this whole fight thing."
And I literally started meditating every day. And my picture was – you know little minions from Despicable Me? Those were my little immune cells. And they were in there whistling, and helping, and escorting the mold out gently. Like, whistling while they work. But they weren't angry. They weren't fighting. And I started meditating on that, Scott. And there were many things that helped me heal from mold. But there's no doubt in my mind that meditation, that neuroplasticity around the fight versus friendly, escorting, calming my system down was a piece of the puzzle of me healing. I changed my neuroplasticity around what my body was doing. And I have no doubt. Because I could even see in the labs my cytokine levels, my TNF Alpha, my IL-6, those things came down. And that's all your mind. And it's powerful. It's so cool that we can do that.
[01:19:30] SCOTT: You talk about mold and mycotoxin illness. You talk about Lyme and co-infections. I used to focus much more on Lyme. But I really do think that even for my own journey that mold was a bigger factor. And I'm wondering, how often do you find that people can have these vector-borne infections be totally fine until they get exposed to mold, to mycotoxins, to the immune dysregulation that results from that where they're managing things fine? They're latent? They get a mold exposure? And now they have Lyme disease?
[01:20:00] DR. JILL: Yes. Okay. My theory is, I think if you just – on the street, you tested 10,000 people walking by. They're feeling fine. Maybe they're just unaware but they don't really have any complaints. I bet you'd find 50% of them carry some tick-borne vector, Borrelia, Babesia, Bartonella, Ehrlichia, or Rocky Mountain spotted fever. And they're walking around just fine.
And so, what I think is many, many, many people, more than we even know, have been bit by a tick, or a spider, or some vector that creates – we say tick-borne. But obviously, we know Bartonella can be carried by fleas, or spiders, or whatever. Some sort of insect bite or vector that gave them this infection but their immune systems are robust. Because our immune system is created to basically keep down old infections.
For example, chickenpox. We almost all had it as kids. But we don't all get shingles. Shingles is just reactivation of chickenpox. What happens? What shifts that from you carrying chickenpox your whole life and never getting Shingles to getting Shingles, it's the same parallel as Lyme disease. And I'm like you. I had Borrelia, Bartonella, Babesia, and Ehrlichia. Probably, I remember hiking and camping in some timber. I mean, Iowa and Illinois. And I'm sure I got bit by ticks back then. In fact, I remember my parents pulling them out of my scalp. There's no doubt I got Lyme way back probably at four or eight years old. And I was fine until I got mold exposure and started to have joint pain and different symptoms.
What happens then is mold produces some really nasty immune suppressive drugs. And I say drugs because something called mycophenolic acid. Super common with mold, panels, and mycotoxins that's produced by aspergillus and some of the nastier molds. It is a known immune suppressive. And it's the chemical that's used to make CellCept, which is a drug that's used for organ transplant recipients.
This literally mold toxin that we can measure in our bodies who people have been explicit mold, it's like you're on a drug for organ transplant rejection. And because of that, that drops the bar of your immune system and these old infections start to pop up and create problems. If I have someone come in who's looking like Lyme, they're fatigued, they're brain fogged, they have really bad migratory joint pain and other symptoms. And I test them, and they're positive. Before I jump down that path and be super aggressive in treatment, I always look at toxic load. Because, typically, if there is a mold exposure, just like the toxic metals, if we take care of that, sometimes the immune system comes back online enough to control that infection without an aggressive treatment protocol.
[01:22:14] SCOTT: You talk about trauma as having benefits. What are some of the benefits of trauma? And how do we know when trauma has gone from supportive or hermetic to pathogenic? And then how much of a role does pathogenic trauma play in chronic illness?
[01:22:31] DR. JILL: Yeah. Trauma can be so varied in what we describe, right? We can have like horrific abuse situations, or like the Holocaust with Viktor Frankl. And those are true big “T” Trauma. Those are really, really difficult. Or PTSD from one of the wars if you were a veteran. And those are absolutely big “T” Trauma. I don't want to ever diminish the trauma of that for someone listening compared to little t where your sister got ice cream and you didn't. And you're like, "Oh, I'm not as good as her." But they're all trauma.
And our system doesn't differentiate. Sometimes those little t traumas can build up a message in our mind about our value, or our worth, or something that we've done or been. And it's actually a big deal for our systems. That's trauma.
And trauma can have benefits because it creates resilience. It can create – For me, part of feeling like I didn't belong and not enough led me to want to be a high achiever. And we talked about the problems with that. But the good thing is I've got through medical school and I was valedictorian in my high school. And so, it did lead to some achievement-oriented things that were really good for my learning and my desire for knowing more and understanding more. Trauma isn't always bad in the sense of sometimes it drives us to become better, to overcome, to become more resilient, or to find – what I always find is there's purpose and meaning everywhere if we look. And it's the same thing we talked about framing the minions. If we frame our mind to look for the good or look for the teaching in the situation, we can have some really horrific situations. And I don't wish that on anyone. And I don't want to minimize the pain or suffering.
But when we're in it and we can't control it, what we can do is still look for what is the main message purpose here? And often, we can find some really incredible things. And if you go back, you or anyone listening, you might think of a really traumatic time in your life and go back. And now you can be like, "Oh, that was so hard. But you know what? I learned how resilient I was. Or I overcame this. And I can't believe I did that." And so, you can actually look back right now if you're listening and remember some of these things and be like, "There was something good there. At the time, I didn't like it. I hated it. But then it turned out to be one –"
And I will even say, the cancer, that was the first of my big traumas, was probably the best thing that ever happened to me. It gave me a story. It gave me a platform. It gave me understanding that I would have never gotten in medical school. Trauma can range. And this is the benefit, is it can create resilience. It can create overcoming. It can lead us to – I talk about this in my book. But I remember sitting in a group of like incredibly successful entrepreneurs. And I was like, "I don't even belong here."
And I looked around and the leader who was talking started talking about, "You guys all have addictions with work. And it's born out of trauma." And again, I was with these amazing world-changing people. And what I started to realize is some of the most successful CEOs you know, they're being driven to produce, to be creative, to do things based on trauma. And that's a good thing. Not a bad thing. As long as they deal with that emotional part of their health. So then, what do we do about it?
I think we all have little t, big T, any t in between. We all have some t in our life. And so, we do have to be aware of this and aware of how it affects our messaging around what our subconscious is saying about ourselves.
This is another little thing. After my divorce, my divorce kind of like rocked my world and shook me apart. I'd been married for almost 20 years. All of a sudden, I'm single and I'm like, "Who am I? I don't even know my identity." I met my ex-husband at 19. Married at 21. That's all I knew. Right? And the beauty of that was it shook me out of my comfort and it had me really think about, "Who am I? What do I want to become?" And also, look at my own patterns.
And even though that was traumatic, I started to realize I can change my future by changing my subconscious. And just like the minions, I remember at that time I came up with something that I would say every day on my walk. Because I had a very low self-esteem after that. I felt like I was worthless. I was unlovable. All those things. And every day in my walk I would say, "Every day, in every way, I'm stronger and healthier, wealthier and more resilient, younger and more beautiful. I will overcome all obstacles. I will outlast all adversity. Things are turning in my favor."
And at the time I started, I didn't believe a word of it. And it's even funny, I'm really honest and vulnerable. Even saying younger and more beautiful felt so selfish. And like, "Oh, I can't say that. How can I be more –" But I was like, "No. It's okay." And beauty to me is like how do I love people? How do I shine? It's not like just physical.
And you know what, Scott? This has been six or seven years. And I'm seeing those things happen in my life. And I feel there's a very clear correlation with telling my subconscious what I wanted to become before I was there. I literally chose this identity and said, "I don't believe it. I don't know if I can ever be this. But I want it. And I'm going to try my very best." And I told myself over and over. And I look back now and I'm like, from six years ago, every one of those is true in some way, shape or form.
Even I'll tell you jokingly, and I'm sure my ex-husband the other day is like, "Jill, did you get plastic surgery?" "I haven't touched anything like that." But he's like, "You look younger than ever." I'm like, "Yes!" We're friends. So, I can say that. And I haven't got plastic surgery or any treatment like that. But I thought it was so funny. It's true.
[01:27:22] SCOTT: A little red light therapy. Hey, that's good for us, right?
[01:27:26] DR. JILL: Yeah, I do biohack.
[01:27:28] SCOTT: Talk to us about the need to decouple from our story in order to heal. I've heard Neil Nathan talk about this. The importance of not living each day in our story if we want our tomorrow to be different than our today.
[01:27:44] DR. JILL: Oh. That's kind of like just what I just said. I did not believe any of that. I didn't know if it was possible. But that was changing my story and saying over and over, "This is what I want to become." But it's so important in illness. Because often, we get stuck of like, "Oh, I'm always going to be sick. Or I'm always me alone and sick. Or I'm always going to be unwell. Or I'm never going to get well." These things are really common. And they're very commonly like part of our belief system.
And if you read any of the great books, Atomic Habits, or Small Habits by BJ Fogg. There're some great books out there and habits. And habits are all about identity. If I say I'm a non-smoker. I don't need gluten. I never even have to think about if I'm in a restaurant or if I'm offered a cigarette, which I don't know if that's ever happened. It's like, "Of course, I don't – that's not who I am." But if you say I want to cut back on eating junk food or I want to do this, that's a behavior. If I am sick, versus I am well – so many people have lost weight because they're like, "I am thin and healthy even if they don't feel that way. When they think of someone's offering them junk food, or they're binging at night, or wanting to binge at night, they're like, "No. No. No. I'm a thin healthy person. I don't do that behavior." And it's identity based versus like, "Do I want it? Do I not want it? What should I do in this situation?"
When we start to have a change in identity, there's no more strong way to create a new habit. And we can do this with smoking, or drinking, or overeating, or gambling, or whatever. But we can also do it with health. I am a healthy person. I am vibrant and thriving.
You know what's funny, Scott? I talk about my cancer, my Crohn's disease. But you would ask me, have I had cancer? And if you asked me in a moment where I wasn't even thinking, I'd almost tell you no. Because I have such a – I don't identify with it at all. I'm not a survivor. I mean I am, but I don't even think about – I'm like, "I did have cancer 20 years ago. That's crazy." I have such a distance from being that person that had cancer that it almost seems unbelievable that I really had cancer. Because that's not me. That's not my identity. I am healthy, and thriving, and vibrant.
Mold-related illness. That was horrific. But again, I'm thriving and vibrant. I don't think of myself as ill or as stuck. And changing that identity is so crucial to healing. Because our subconscious will bring to pass anything that it believes.
[01:29:53] SCOTT: My last question is the same for every guest, and that is what are some of the key things that you do on a daily basis in support of your own health? And I know with you, that could be a whole another hour-long podcast.
[01:30:03] DR. JILL: Well, right beside me, I have my PEMF mat. And I love, love, love that. That's been huge. And what I do is, with the Oura ring, I'll track interventions to see if it changes my sleep or my heart rate variability. I actually feel like I have a little science behind at least my n of 1, my personal. I love my PEMF mat.
I take an Epsom salt bath every single night even when I'm traveling. I order salt to the room. And if there's a bathtub, I'm in the bath. As an HSP, I found that to be incredibly good at kind of getting off the energy of the day and refreshing. It's energetic as well as detox. And the magnesium sulfide in there is really good for detoxification.
I don't daily sauna, but at least once a week I sauna. I take binders very frequently. I do electrolytes every day. I try to move, but I don't really work out. It's my secret. I'm in the best shape that I've been since 20s and 30s. But all I do is, I like have a – see that push-up, pull-up bar in the – When I walk through that door, I do a pull-up or two. And in my office, I have the same thing. Or I'll do push-ups like after I brush my teeth. I sneak in little workouts where my body doesn't even know I'm working out. And I like to do it that way because it just feels more freeing. Friendships are huge. I think connection with people. And I could say a lot more. But those are some of the big ones.
[01:31:12] SCOTT: You mentioned someone that I look up to in the book. That's Dr. Edith Eger, Holocaust survivor, who says, "Our painful experiences aren't a liability. They're a gift. They give us perspective and meaning, an opportunity to find our unique purpose and strength." And I think that just so beautifully sums up your personal journey, our whole discussion, your new amazing book, Unexpected.
I just want to thank you, Dr. Jill, for being so generous with your time today, for writing this book, and for doing all that you do to help so many of us with chronic illness. I really respect you a lot and just honor you for everything that you are.
[01:31:47] DR. JILL: Oh, Scott, thank you. And I want to say the same to you. You are out there bringing such great guests, such great information. I love your podcast. I want to make sure everybody knows this that they should – you have such a gift and you have used that to benefit so many people. Thank you. And thank you for having me today. I'm honored to be a guest.
[01:32:06] SCOTT: Thanks, Dr. Jill.
[01:32:07] DR. JILL: You're welcome.
[01:32:09] SCOTT: To learn more about today's guest, visit Readunexpected.com. That's Readunexpected.com. Readunexpected.com.
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[01:32:52] ANNOUNCER: Thanks for listening to this BetterHealthGuy Blogcast, with Scott, your Better Health Guy. to check out additional shows and learn more about Scott's personal journey to better health, please visit BetterHealthGuy.com.
The content of this show is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any illness or medical condition. Nothing in today's discussion is meant to serve as medical advice or as information to facilitate self-treatment. As always, please discuss any potential health-related decisions with your own personal medical authority.