Benefits of Berberine

I recently saw an article claiming that berberine is a natural Mounjura or Ozempic.  Of course, berberine is far less expensive, so it would be great if it performed just as well for weight loss, but it doesn’t. However, if we only concentrated on weight loss, it would be oversimplifying Berberine and its benefits.  It has been demonstrated in numerous studies to aid in weight loss through a variety of processes, including by assisting the anti-aging enzyme AMPK, which is unquestionably a plus. It also helps with weight reduction by assisting with fat burning and suppressing appetite.

Additionally, I have observed in clinical settings and in the literature that it lowers cholesterol, improves the balance of the gut microbiota, lowers blood sugars, and helps with mild to moderate weight difficulties.  

Berberine provides many more advantages than the latest weight-loss medications, by being more effective compared to those medications in terms of lowering blood cholesterol,  improving gut health and decreasing aging while also helping with blood sugar and weight issues.

Berberine 1-2 capsules with meals is a good start from companies like Douglas, Xymogen and Thorne.

Are your gut issues making you sad?

Are your gut issues making you sad?

Growing evidence points to a link between depression and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Abdominal discomfort, gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation are some of the symptoms of IBS, a common gastrointestinal illness. According to studies, those who have IBS are more likely than the general population to struggle with anxiety and depression.

IBS and depression may be related for various reasons, as follows:

Modified gut-brain connection:

The gut-brain axis, a complex communication network encompassing the gastrointestinal tract, enteric nervous system, and central nervous system, connects the gut and the brain. IBS symptoms and mood disorders, like depression and anxiety, may be brought on by disruptions in this connection. Common issues causing this disruption are unbalanced gut bacteria and low-grade inflammation.

Unbalanced gut microbiota

The billions of bacteria and other microorganisms that comprise the gut microbiota are essential for maintaining digestive health and controlling immune responses. According to research, gut microbiota abnormalities can affect mood and mental health, causing IBS and contributing to the condition. Stress, antibiotics, and processed foods cause imbalances.

Researchers believe chronic low-grade inflammation to be present in certain IBS patients and, in my experience, all IBS patients. Increased levels of inflammatory markers have been discovered in persons with major depressive disorder. It would make sense, as inflammation blocks the production of our feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin, through inflammatory molecules, cytokines, and, guess where cytokines mainly originate, the gut.

IBS and depression have a complicated association, and not everyone with IBS will also experience depression. However, I have found most people with depression have gut issues of some kind. To heal the gut is an excellent first step in your health journey. Some necessary steps are as follows:

  • Eliminate inflammatory foods like gluten, dairy, and processed foods.
  • The next step is to support your microbiome with a good spore probiotic, Sporific, and increase dietary fiber (food for your good bacteria).
  • Finally, heal your gut with a supplement like Glutaprotect and SBI Protect. 

Don’t forget everything is connected in your body, especially your gut and brain!

Sugar – The Original Crack

When I was in my 20’s, and I heard my sister-in-law mention that she was going off sugar, and it was the hardest thing she had ever done. She talked about the withdrawal, and physical symptoms like it was a drug withdrawal. I thought this was a little dramatic because in my 20’s I knew everything. Now I’m 50, and I realize how right she was and how dumb I am, to be honest. However, being a dumbass makes me more willing to understand what I don’t know.

Sugar and its effects

There are many papers on the role of sugar and its effects on the brain. One of the best articles I found shows that sugar triggers dopamine production in the same area of the brain as drugs do in rats.  Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that is best thought of as “the reward chemical.” Gambling=dopamine.  Sex=dopamine.  Drugs and alcohol=dopamine. Video games=dopamine.

This paper shows that it is common to have a cross addiction to alcohol and amphetamines with sugar sensitization. So, sugar is a drug.

Another question you might have is, “Why are we made this way?” With all the sugar surrounding us, it doesn’t seem fair. Before toaster pastries and wine came along, as early humans, we had to forage and hunt for meals, and when winter was coming, we took calories where we could get them.  If we came across sugar, whether in honey or fruit, we got the signal to eat and eat a lot through the reward of a dopamine hit. The necessary thing for the forager was that sugar also packed on fat to help get through the long hard winter. The signal to eat, and eat a lot, gave us an evolutionary advantage.  

Now, the average American eats 100-150 lbs of sugar a year because it overflows into every part of their diet. We have entered the land of chronic diseases of overconsumption like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Men should eat about 25 lbs of sugar per year based on weight, and women about 16 lbs per year. That means about 35 grams a day for men and 20-25 grams for women. Men, drink one 12oz. soda (38g), and you are done. Women, have one brand name yogurt (26g), and you are done…. and unsatisfied. Our processed foods are sabotaging us, so be very aware of hidden sources driving our addictions.

Now that we can quit thinking of sugar cravings as a moral weakness, we can apply some interventions that give our willpower a much-needed helping hand. It is crucial, especially following the holidays when the sugar gremlin is turned loose to eat all the sugar-laden foods.

Here are two things to focus on:

Improve Dopamine levels

  1. Exercise is not sexy, but 10-15 mins of moderate to intense exercise stoke the dopamine fire.
  2. Sleep– also not sexy. When we don’t get enough sleep, our dopamine requirement goes up because our number of dopamine receptors goes down. Think about the last time you didn’t get enough sleep? You probably couldn’t get enough ice cream. Don’t underestimate the importance of enough sleep in fighting your cravings.
  3. Supplement support– a little sexier. Increasing dopamine is easy with supplements. You can help dopamine stay around longer with things like Rhodiola Rosea (1 twice a day).  You can also increase dopamine production with DopaPlus (1 twice a day between meals). These supplements work and will help you avoid sugar cravings along with the next intervention.

Kill the yeast!

Yeast or Candida Albicans (and others) live in our digestive tract, and a certain amount of them are good, when they overgrow, they become detrimental to our health and lead to fatigue, brain fog, and, most of all, sugar cravings.

  1. Starve them– Start cutting back on sugar as this is yeast’s favorite fuel source, and less yeast equals fewer cravings. There is no research saying, “you have yeast, then you have sugar cravings,” but from what I see in my office, this is 100% true. The only problem is that it is hard to cut back on sugar when you have yeast, so enter something to help.
  2. Candida Balance– This is a supplement that does a phenomenal job of leveling the yeast playing field. This is my go-to when I have been in the cookie cupboard and can’t stop.  1-2 capsules twice a day does an herbal number on the yeast and their protective biofilms. I can feel the cravings dissipate within 24 hours. You need to take at least one bottle if you have been struggling with sugar for some time and keep some handy when you fall off the wagon during holidays or special occasions.

Whitney Houston said, “Crack is whack.” What she should’ve said is, “Sugar is a booger.”

Addiction to sugar and its associated diseases, heart disease, cancer and diabetes, have killed many more people (1.35 million) per year than crack (70K).

Solve the Puzzle of Baby Eczema

Solve the Puzzle of Baby Eczema

There are few things worse than seeing your baby struggle with bright red cheeks, oozing wounds, and scratching themself bloody. Watching their skin flake off and leave piles where they sat is horrible. The sleepless nights and tortured cries are gut-wrenching. 

As a parent and a clinician that sees this on a weekly basis, my heart goes out to the parents who are watching their little ones suffer. I’ve been there myself having had eczema and with little ones that had it too, so I can relate to the experience of the parents and the kiddos suffering through it. 

Thankfully, you can solve the eczema puzzle with the right steps. The key is identifying the underlying root causes and treating them appropriately. 

In adults, the underlying causes are many ranging from genetic predispositions, stress/trauma, and toxicity, to dietary factors, hormone and nutrient imbalances, and a disrupted microbiome- especially in the gut. Inflammatory conditions like eczema arise when the environmental factors mentioned collide with genetics (dig deeper into this subject in another article I wrote).   

The GREAT news is that eczema in little ones is much easier to resolve since they don’t have decades of stress, trauma, and environmental exposures that make it trickier in adults! Plus, their little bodies have an incredible capacity to heal.  

Taking a Thorough History to learn more about your baby’s eczema

The first step in this process is taking a thorough history to uncover predisposing factors. Some of the issues we commonly see in little ones with eczema are:

  •  C-section birth or birth complications/ interventions 
  •  Mom had Group B Strep, UTI, or yeast infection during pregnancy 
  •  Stress for Mom during pregnancy
  •  Mom having known GI issues that were not resolved prior to pregnancy.
  •  Family history of the allergic triad (allergies, asthma, and eczema), 
  •  Nursing or feeding troubles, colic, or early food allergies (rejection of solids or food   avoidance can be a sign something is off with the gut)
  •  Seasonal skin flares indicating an allergic component
  •  History of mother or baby living in a moldy environment or near high chemical or pollutant concentrations such as farms, golf courses, airports, highways, industry, etc.
  •  Baby or child having constipation, diarrhea or loose stools, gas, burping or bloating

Having a thorough history allows us to see the big picture of what the likely causes are and what tests we need to order. I always order a comprehensive stool analysis so gut imbalances like dysbiosis can be identified, as well as the bacteria, fungi, and parasites that may be causing it. GI health markers are also helpful in determining inflammation, immune activation, and digestive function. 

Additional Testing for an accurate diagnosis and treatment

Additional testing is sometimes necessary and could involve: 

  • serum labs to assess the immune system or allergens 
  • organic acids to assess fungi/mold and harmful bacteria
  • food allergy or sensitivity testing or other specialized testing 
  • we can also do genetic analysis if the child or parent has completed a 23andMe.  

Regarding testing, it’s important to note that you should wait until you see a qualified provider to decide which tests are needed. If you order them on your own, you may order the wrong ones and end up having to spend extra money unnecessarily on the right ones. In my practice, the only tests we order are ones that directly inform the course of treatment. 

Once the test results are received and reviewed, a treatment plan specific to the needs of the patient is made. The bulk of treatment in little ones is generally focused on balancing the immune system, replacing nutrients, and supporting proper gut and digestive function. 

Skin healing typically begins during the first 1-2 months and is often almost resolved by 3-4 months. Total treatment time for babies is generally around 4-6 months total and sometimes a little longer in older children. 

Our goal is not only for your child to find relief and have soft, smooth skin, but also to give parents the tools to support their kiddos if skin issues crop up again. 

Dr. Stephanie Davis

Restore your Gut to Calm Allergies

Restore your Gut to Calm Allergies

It’s that time of the year again. Allergies are running rampant, and with it come all the associated sinus infections, runny eyes, and perpetual “colds.” Allergies are big business, and between all the pharmaceuticals, skin testing, and allergy shots, there is no real impetus to teach the public what is causing these allergies.


It is essential to understand allergies in their simplest form. Modern allergies to pollen, dogs, dust mites, etc., are really nothing more than the overreaction of the immune system to elements that have been in our environment since the dawn of man. Sure, if cave dwellers ran through a field of pollen (think “Sound of Music” with a loincloth), they may start sneezing to clear the excess pollen, but today’s over sensitization is extreme. “Normal” exposure to the elements causes immune system meltdowns, and people become snot factories. So what has changed to make us so susceptible to our environment, and why are our immune systems overreacting and creating allergic reactions?

Surprise, surprise, it is our gut. Yep, you heard me-it’s our gut. This is where 60-70 percent of our immune system lives and where over 90% of our daily immune response occurs.

Simply put: a healthy gut equals a healthy immune system and fewer allergies.

If the gut is not healthy and is “leaky,” this increased intestinal permeability allows the immune system to feel like it is under attack all the time. It becomes overactive and attacks everything, including pollen, dander, and mites. What contributes to a “leaky gut” and eventually an allergic over-response? Well, it’s the things that make our gut healthy or unhealthy, and there are over 100 trillion reasons in our first example.

My first question to many allergy sufferers is whether they were C-section babies, and the second is whether they were breastfed. Why is this important? Well, this determines your gut’s initial bacterial health, which is extremely important. We are hotels for bacteria. There are 100 trillion of them and only 10 trillion of us (cells of the body). They have more to do with our health and our immune system than anything in our environment. Passing through the vaginal canal is a great start in life (insert joke of choice here) because of the bacteria we “inherit” as we pass through. Then the breast milk keeps these bacteria healthy and happy, and those bacteria then modulate the immune system.

When we are products of C-sections or are formula-fed, our bacteria get off on the wrong foot, and we are much more likely to have asthma and eczema.

If a person has taken over 5 antibiotics in a lifetime, it is usually a good indicator that they have a predisposition to allergies because antibiotics kill our good bacteria and allow bad bacteria and fungus to be overgrown, which sends the wrong signal to the immune system.

A good analogy is spraying roundup on your grass and expecting more beautiful grass. Instead, what you end up with is an overgrowth of weeds after the Roundup has worn off. Same with antibiotics and your gut.

Gluten and Dairy are the two most common inflammatory foods leading to overactive immune systems and allergies.

100 percent of people have an immune response to gluten. Severity depends a lot on things we have already discussed, such as birth history, breastfeeding, and antibiotic exposure. Still, regardless of previous exposure, in every one of us, it opens gaps in the gut allowing large food particles to pass through, stimulates the immune system, and causes it to become over-reactive, resulting in allergies.

Dairy is a homogenized, pasteurized mess. The type of milk we are drinking now is not the same as in the past. The A1 protein type of milk, which is the vast majority of our milk, along with the homogenization, pasteurization process, exposes our immune system to very inflammatory proteins (Raw milk and goat’s milk are usually A2 and much more immune friendly). These new proteins, evolutionarily, are not recognized by our immune system. Our immune system feels like it is under attack. This “alert” immune system then overcompensates when exposed to other things in the environment. People with chronic sinusitis that gets worse during allergy seasons usually find relief when they give up dairy.

So what interventions that can we make now to calm our allergies? To start, make a better environment for the immune system so that it is calm. Healing the gut will accomplish this.

Probiotics are temporary bacteria that we introduce into our intestines that act as immune messengers. The type of probiotics matters as certain bacteria send different messages, so not just any probiotic will do. An even better solution is using the foundation for bacteria health like prebiotics which are polyphenols and fiber. My favorite product is Poly-prebiotic powder. This will be the foundation for increasing your good bacteria.

Glutamine is an amino acid that the small intestine needs for energy. I use 2 to 3 grams per day to help the gut heal. I combine this with aloe vera and curcumin to calm inflammation and speed healing. A gut with no holes in it is no longer leaky, and the immune system will calm down.

Finally, feed that healthy bacteria. The Mediterranean Diet is an excellent choice: whole foods with lots of fruits and (mostly) vegetables and avoid processed foods (stuff that comes in packages). Avoid gluten and dairy and eat fermented foods (miso, sauerkraut, etc.).

Dr. Nathan Morris, MD

Eating the Fear Away

Fear, unfounded or not, is debilitating. I am gaining a new appreciation for fear with my recent reading of an article in Nature magazine. In this article, I found that my previous thinking of this as a purely psychological problem is probably not 100% accurate. As I will explore, our fear and the neural connections that say “when this happens, this is going to happen” is more associated with our bacteria living in our gut, than some faulty processing of this emotion. Truly a groundbreaking insight, at least in rats, but I think we can say it should apply to humans as well.


Let’s talk about my fear. It is heights. I hate them and I even freak out 5 feet from ledges. To take up indoor rock climbing was my attempt to overcome my fear, and I did that for over 12 months with the thought that if exposed enough, my fear would dissipate. Well, after 12 months, despite all the logical self-talk, “You are tied to a rope with a knot that will not come loose, and there is no way to fall,” I still hung to the wall like a cat being forced into the water. I did not enjoy it. 

Fast forward 3 years: I’m climbing again and I am in love with the sport and have no fear of the same heights that had crippled my brain. Have I become so psychologically sound that this was no longer an issue? No, my wife can attest to this. So, what was it? Well, in this article I am going to discuss what gave me some insight into the shift.

The experiment was genius, except for the part about shocking rats. They took 2 groups of rats, one of which had been treated with antibiotics which impaired the bacteria in their gut, and the other group had normal gut flora. They then rang a bell and shocked them until they got both groups accustomed to hearing a bell and becoming fearful of a shock. Then, in the next phase of the experiment, they rang a bell and there was no shock delivered. The scientists monitored their vitals to see how long it would take their fear response to become “extinct” or when the rats heard a bell, they didn’t poop their cage worrying about getting the bejesus shocked out of them. 

The rats that had received antibiotics never got over the bell triggering a fear response. The rats with normal gut flora/bacteria were able to get over the fear of being shocked and didn’t live in fear of the sound of the bell. This is fascinating if the study just stopped there, but it went further to explain the reason.  

The study showed that the right bacteria in the gut releases metabolites/chemicals that instruct the brain that it is ok to “prune” these brain connections that are causing the fear response. If you have the right bacteria releasing the right chemicals, then you can remove the brain connections of cause and effect, i.e. hearing a bell and thinking you are going to get the hell shocked out of you. This is huge! Our bacteria, when our gut is healthy, helps us get over our fears. Amazing insights. The phrase, “You are what you eat” takes on a whole new meaning and it definitely did for me.  

My research over the last 2 years has shown that fiber is much better for your gut flora than taking selected probiotics (probiotics are helpful, but are limited depending on what each specific bacteria you are taking in the probiotic does–they have very specific functions). I like the fiber approach because it helps all of your bacteria.  

Back to my fear of heights. I have been eating much more salad and fibrous foods over the last 3 years and I think that is why I no longer have the fear of heights I did before. Eating right to help your brain heal is the key lesson here and eating right is lots of fiber in the form of vegetables and fruits. If you need some support with your bacteria besides just diet, try Poly-Prebiotic powder to increase your fiber. Your brain and your bacteria will thank you for it.

Why “Juice Detoxes” are Misguided

Why “Juice Detoxes” are Misguided

This is one my medical pet peeves: juice detoxes.  People who do them feel like crap by the end and, quite frankly, look like crap. Feeling like crap is not a prerequisite to being healthy or doing something good for yourself. The reason for the “crap” association is because it’s just the wrong way to go about detoxing. It was started by someone who does not understand the phases of detoxification. It was started by someone who thought, “Vegetables and fruits are good, so a ton of them is better and especially if we just drank them without all the other pesky things like fiber because chewing is such a bother.” 


First, a juice detox is full of fructose in an unadulterated form, if you are using fruit as a portion of the detox.  Ironically, this creates a huge burden on the organ you are supposed to be helping, the liver. Fructose can only be processed in the liver and fructose is converted to fat so the body can use it for energy. This is stressful on the liver. 

Juice detox also up-regulates Phase 1 of our detox process, which is when we take a toxin already in the body, make it worse (make it even more inflammatory via Phase 1), before finally giving it to Phase 2 of the process, which then makes it a soluble molecule that can then be excreted through urination or defecation.  Phase 2 is not supported very well with juice detoxes.  The most important reason juice detoxes are not helpful,  is that you need amino acids for Phase 2 and without these, you are basically creating Hell’s Angels (Phase 1) from delinquents (initial toxins), and have no way to kick them out of the body (Phase 2).  Juice detoxes have very little essential amino acids, so Phase 2 is rate limited, and you have made a bad situation worse.

Good liver reboots have both whole fruit/vegetables and protein eaten as a meal. Lean, pasture-raised, animal protein actually works the best, but specific formulations of plant-based protein that are cognizant of the detox amino acid needs, work well too like Pure Lean Detox, Mediclear SGS, and CytoQuel. These are a 2-3 week boost to the detox system, and don’t need to be used long term.  I would start with 1 serving a day for the 1st 3 days, then increase to 2 servings a day for days 4-7, and increase to 3 servings a day for week 2, then back to 2 servings a day for the third week.  These “boosts” to your detox pathway should always be accompanied with the meal described above.

Detox is nothing more than creating balance. Healthy meals detox you all the time by giving you lean meats or a complete plant-based protein source, and include vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts (they up-regulate both Phase 1 and Phase 2) and a serving of fiber-rich fruit (like apples, blueberries etc.), but not juice. Think of the Mediterranean Diet and you are thinking of a detox diet. If you want a more specific plan, look at doing 2-3 weeks of a detox powder to support your “detox” diet, like those mentioned above.

The Problem with Genomics

Interesting title from the man who co-created a clinical genetic interpretation web-app, PureGenomics, but there is a problem. It’s the same problem that our world suffers from in so many ways. Things are viewed as all good or all bad and no middle ground is being found. Whether this is politics, religion, science or the science that is medicine, everyone is trying to discredit everyone else. Where does the truth lie?

Somewhere in between.

So what is this middle ground when it comes to genetics and MTHFR? I think it comes down to viewing genetics as a tool that helps the clinician apply leverage. This leverage is understanding how these polymorphisms, (genetic variations which change the protein structure of enzymes, hormones, and their receptors) affect function, and how this possible change in function may affect clinical outcomes. It’s understanding that this change in function is hundreds of years in the making and is not a mutation, but a change, that in some cases, is beneficial, depending on the environment the organism finds itself in. Let’s use an illustration of the most famous reindeer of all, I mean the most famous genetic polymorphism of all, MTHFR, (got to love that name).

MTHFR is the most misunderstood SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism), just like Rudolf. This is an enzyme, like a lot of other enzymes, that has more than one function. It has many changes in its code, and I think there are around 25 of these polymorphisms (one base pair is exchanged with another), and like so many other genes with mutations, most of these do not affect the function of said enzyme. Two polymorphisms do affect function, but in the literature, there is lots of confusion as many researchers do not seem to understand that enzymes have more than one function, and one SNP may affect an enzyme in one function it carries out but not in another function. For example, C677T seems to affect MTHFR as it goes about creating SAMe for methylation donation for neurotransmitter generation, DNA methylation, and detox.

The other mutation, MTHFR A1289C, does not affect homocysteine but appears to be affect the enzyme more in the pathway of dopamine and serotonin generation. It seems to escape so many peoples grasp that an enzyme is like a Swiss knife, and just because the corkscrew is broken, doesn’t mean the knife cannot open a box. As an example, we cannot say the A1298C mutation is not important because it does not affect homocysteine and the diseases that arises from poor methylation, because it affects another function of MTHFR enzyme.

This is where clinicians and researchers run into problems. We fail to comprehend the context of the polymorphism. This creates frustration when we are using the wrong tool for the job, and making claims that addressing a particular mutation does something, when in actuality it does not. This creates loss of validity in a field that is highly valid and transformational to a clinical practice.

Another problem with SNP’s, and if you ever had teenagers you will understand this, their impact/behavior often is dependent on the crowd they hang out with. Not understanding this complexity, and seeing nutrigenomics as a linear equation, takes away the validity of the field and the clinicians’ claims of what intervention of a mutation will accomplish.

One case is the MTHFR gene which in the presence of adequate riboflavin has almost completely normal function even with the polymorphism at the 677 location.  Often, polymorphisms/SNP’s have fail safe(s), if you will, or supporting genes, and vitamins, that help correct the decreased function of said gene, so that the organism can live, not thrive necessarily, but ultimately reproduce, which per Brian Hawkins brilliant book, “The Selfish Gene,” is what genetics is all about. If we just talk about the MTHFR gene as being the only instrument that matters, and do not see it as one instrument in an orchestra, then we are giving it too much credit. Likewise, if I were to be the violinist in said orchestra, one would also understand that an “aberration” can definitely have an effect on the overall sound, yikes! Now if said orchestra was playing for the hearing impaired, I’d be awesome! In some ways, that is what a gene like MTHFR does when looked at from a historical context.

MTHFR C677T polymorphism was a genetic advantage. That’s right, or it would not be so prevalent (At least 60-70% of us have at least one copy, of the two copies, for this mutation). Why would evolution allow such a thing? Advantage, and a big one if you live in an endemic malaria region. It helped our ancestors survive malaria. Where was this gene most common?  In the Mediterranean region. What is the local diet there composed of? Lots of folate rich foods, which compensated for this less effective methylating enzyme of folate. Sweet huh? The standard American diet does not have a lot of natural folate (lots of synthetic folic acid–another paper for a later date.). This is an issue that leads to problems with a genetic advantage being turned into a disadvantage as an organism’s environment changes from its original environment to the adaption. So, what does this mean for us as we navigate this gene which has generated so much controversy?

We have to understand that we do not have it all figured out. We do know that the data is conflicting in some cases because nuances are not understood by even the researchers doing the research. A lot of researchers believe folic acid is equivalent to methyl-tetrahydrofolate which is in a paper like this,, one has to question the validity of the findings. The actual polymorphism which led to the homocysteine is not directly addressed, but rather the biomarker, homocysteine. It also looked at this polymorphism in relation to people already with cardiovascular disease and did not look at outcomes if we address this gene in prevention (when MTHFR C677T is addressed in blood pressure we see very positive outcomes and decreased risk of stroke). Then we find studies like this,, which seem to support the conclusion addressing methylation is quite beneficial.

What is there to make of this confusion? Should we just throw up our hands and say let’s not look at it or try to make decisions because it’s not clear? I don’t think so. Let’s agree that literature is not completely clear on the benefit of using 5-MTHF in all diseases, but it’s clearly helpful in many diseases. We also know it is much more effective in cellular uptake and this fact is very beneficial in many preventative strategies compared to its synthetic precursor, folic acid. Is it going to be the panacea that so many people have made it out to be? No, because we are giving it to much credit, and when it is not the magic hammer people claim it to be, it allows the faulty logic by the uninitiated, that since it cannot do all things, then all the polymorphisms that can be used in clinical practice are ineffective as well. This could not be further from the truth.

We have a saying where I come from, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” and this is really saying, don’t get rid of the good waiting on the perfect. We as clinicians, who so desperately want to heal, get in trouble when we create the magic hammer where everything becomes a nail. We lose credibility because we a looking for something that works on everything.

Nutrigenetics is a tool. It is incredibly effective as such, and the research supports this. Clinically, ask any psychiatrist if dosing with higher doses of Methyl-folate has not turned around a large number of refractory depressed patients. You would be hard pressed to find one not using this as a clinical tool. Is it where they start? No, nor should it be. The same goes with the functional medicine practitioner. We need to focus on what we know to be the foundations of functional medicine first. Heal the gut, address sleep, decrease stress and eliminate toxins. Then, and only then, should we be then looking at nutrigenetics to help us apply leverage in assisting the above-mentioned areas of focus. It works brilliantly when we understand its benefits, but also embrace its limitations.

Dr. Nathan Morris, MD

Fasting – Not.

My daughter is 12.  She’s had some gut issues, eczema and weight gain due to satiety hormone imbalance. She is FTO positive, which means her genetics don’t seem to allow her to feel as if she’s had enough to eat.

Recently, my husband and I did a 5-day mimicking fast called Prolon. It was not as rough as a real fast (water only), but I got to see first-hand what it is like for an emotional stress eater (my husband) to eat only what was absolutely necessary for 5 days. It was tough. After he survived that, he went right back to eating right away as he had before. That was fine because according to the data, the fast had already kicked off the good effects for the body.

I, personally, could not go back to normal eating for more than a week. I listened to my body, my hunger, and it took me longer to recover from the fast. My energy did not return very quickly. Normally, I am energetic and overly active, and I didn’t feel any of my energy or drive for exercise return until today. We did that fast from Dec. 11-Dec. 16, and it is now January 2.

I wanted a reset for my child’s body without the fatigue and effects I suffered. So, I decided to teach my girl how to eat well without fasting.

For 5 days, we ate only at meal times, no snacks in between, and avoided gluten, Dairy, corn, and soy. I made a big pot of veggie soup we could eat through the week for something fast to warm up and a cookie sheet with nutbars we could grab for breakfast. We ate olives and pickles for snacks if we needed them, and after the first 2 days, I don’t think we ate any snacks. We weren’t hungry. We cooked real dinners together out of my favorite cookbook, which was just as nourishing an experience as eating the food.

After just 3 days, my child’s inflamed tummy became soft and she lost noticeable inches every day which she would gladly show me. Her stretch marks faded (many were a result of the Lyme coinfections) and her mood elevated. She spent a night with her friends, and they supported her in her endeavor to stick to eating the food we agreed on, which she carted with her to the sleepover.

She has begun to care about her body enough to start exercising (planking) in her room when she feels like practicing and she even went to the gym with her dad, brother and I to see what working out is about. She was enthusiastic about the feeling of using her muscles and she made us show her how to use each implement. Her energy level has taken a tremendous jump up the scale.

I am hopeful that she will remember many things from this experience. Mostly the feeling of all we have gone through together, and that I would do anything to help her to know in the future how to live a healthy, happy life. I highly recommend this bonding experience to parents with teenagers.

Don’t just live. Live great!

Annie Morris, LMT and Mama Bear

Surviving or Thriving the Holidays?

“Surviving Holidays and Social Outings” is always a large concern for patients working to place symptoms of Autism and chronic conditions into remission. But is that all we want to do? Merely survive? With a little planning and some modified expectations, the holidays, and social outings can be enjoyable for every member of the family, including those with the diagnosis.

It’s important to discuss what is important to each family member, and make a plan. A plan will help replace traditional ingredients that later will cause symptoms to flare. A plan will help extended family members understand how much this mean to you, which will reduce their feelings of being hurt or offended.

The internet is flooded with recipes that provide satisfying substitutions for most traditional foods. Google Search words such as: Paleo Auto Immune Thanksgiving, Paleo Thanksgiving, SCD Thanksgiving, provide ample ideas. Starting the planning process now will not only provide food you can eat, but also reduce “holiday stress.”

Here are some suggestions to have the best Holiday Season yet:

Prepare in advance.
Talk with your extended family or friends and identify what is being served for the holiday. Feel confident to ask permission to bring your own version or something different to share with family and friends. When you are kind and Matter of Fact about living this lifestyle, more people will be intrigued than insulted. Chances are they or someone they know are struggling with digestion issues and poor health.

Sugar is a large villain, which compromises your efforts. Bring some dark chocolate to satiate your sweet tooth and help you feel satisfied in order to by-pass the dessert table. Another great way to reduce the carbohydrates is with crust-less pies or with pumpkin mouse. There are many dairy free versions of mousse, which use ingredients such as: avocado, cacao powder, maple syrup or honey, and coconut milk.

Helpful Supplements
In the event you do eat food which creates a flare, talk with Dr. Morris ahead of time about which supplements are best for you to help break down and digest the high allergen proteins more quickly such as Gluten/Dairy Digest Enzyme, L-Glutamine, or Inositol powder.

Talk with Dr. Morris about taking extra magnesium to make up for any that alcohol indulgence will deplete further from your body.

Abundance vs. Scarcity
A large piece to healing is to train the mind to look for abundance rather than scarcity. To look at what we can do rather than staring all the seemingly insurmountable obstacles. To look at what our condition is teaching us rather than what it is taking away. To look at all the foods we can eat rather than perseverating on the foods which will cause us to react/regress. Read more about Mindful Eating, and our Mind Concept Piece to include in your Care Plan.

Cook ahead of time
Try the recipes, found on the internet or in a cookbook, ahead of time. Print out the recipes and take notes. Make your own binder of recipes to use for future holidays. A little bit of planning goes a long way to feeling pleased with your food options. has a fantastic library of recipes.

Flour Alternatives
With so many patients becoming sensitive to Coconut and Almond there is the option of Cassava Flour. Cassava is gluten, grain and nut-free, as well as vegan, vegetarian and Paleo. Since cassava is a high in starch it could mean an insulin spike for you! This means use in moderation particularly if you’re following a low carbohydrate, low-sugar or Paleo-based diet. To reduce the amount of grains, a perfect place to skip the carbohydrates is the stuffing. Try a ground pork, mushrooms, green peppers, apples or pears or another version that does not require GF bread.

Translation: don’t eat cassava flour recipes at every meal! As always, moderation is key.

A Well-Stocked Baking Cabinet
Having a well-stocked baking cabinet helps to organize the ingredients, in one cabinet, to minimize the amount of time to bake your deserts/rolls for the holidays.

Use Ghee or Duck Fat or Avocado Oil to rub on the bird rather than butter. Melt Coconut Oil and Ghee together. Place in glass container and use on your GF rolls rather than butter. Use Ghee or Duck Fat for your gravy.

If your kids are the ones recovering from a chronic condition/developmental delay, it’s best if all family members adhere to the nutritional recommendations of his/her care plan. Parents are the role models and lead the family toward healing through their actions more than by their words. If you need to eat high allergen foods, then do so once the kids are in bed and there is no way for them to see you ‘sneaking’.

Eating out this holiday season? Feel confident to phone ahead and review the menu with the staff. Restaurants are becoming more accommodating to whole food nutrition and substituting out high allergen ingredients such as gluten and dairy. Taking a few minutes to explore what you can eat off the menu will eliminate the awkward feeling of asking a million questions at the celebration.

Ultimately, the holidays are for celebrating our relationships with the loved ones in our lives. Being together, communicating and sharing our experiences in life, even the burdens such as having to watch what we eat, allows those people we don’t see often to know us better.

We should never have to be ashamed that we are doing the best we can to take care of ourselves. Being matter of fact and kind enough to offer to bring safe food allows us to partake in the fun without the worries of exposure and subsequent reactions.

Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season from the Staff at Good Medicine!!

Kara Ware is Good Medicine’s Clinical Coordinator and Functional Medicine Health Coach. She also provides online courses and coaching for families living with Autism.