In this episode, I am speaking with Dr. Tom O’Bryan, the founder of Thedr.com and award-winning author of The Autoimmune Fix. We’re talking about gluten, EMFs, toxins, and the best nutrition for brain health.
Table of Contents
In this podcast, Dr. Tom and I will discuss:
- The controversy around wheat and gluten. Do they really impact your immunity?
- The problems with food sensitivity testing (and which ones are actually reliable).
- Dr. Tom’s pyramid of health for optimal wellness
- Simple tips for protecting yourself against EMFs, including a ‘Pretty Woman’ ritual
- Alarming statistics on toxins in our bloodstreams and why companies try to hide this critical information
- Using tenacity – and just 1 hour a week – to change your paradigm of health
- Dr. Tom’s top superfoods and supplements for brain health
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Ari: Hey there. This is Ari. Welcome back to the The Energy Blueprint podcast. I am here now with Dr. Tom O’Bryan, who is a recognized world expert on gluten, autoimmunity, and brain health. He’s the founder of theDr.com. So, if you’ve ever heard anybody referred to as The Doctor, this is the guy that they’re referring to. And the visionary behind the Gluten Summit: A Grain of Truth, and the author of several bestselling books.
His first critically acclaimed book, The Autoimmune Fix, outlines the step-bystep development of degenerative diseases and gives us the tools to identify a disease process years before the symptoms are obvious. And his second book, which I highly recommend, You Can Fix Your Brain——
Dr. O’Bryan: What about the first book?
Ari: I actually haven’t read it, to be honest with you. I only read this second one.
Dr. O’Bryan: I’m just playing with you.
Ari: That’s a good question. I’m glad you caught that. So yeah, I literally have, I think, your book on the bookshelf right behind me.
Dr. O’Bryan: Actually, Ari, the first one, won a national book award.
Ari: Did it really?
Dr. O’Bryan: It is really cool. Yeah, it’s a great book. They’re both great.
Ari: I will read that one, too, then. So the second book, You Can Fix Your Brain: Just 1 Hour a Week to the Best Memory, Productivity, and Sleep You’ve Ever Had is the handbook for anyone worried about any type of brain ailment from dementia to simple brain fog and fatigue. This essential guide covers the full spectrum of prevention to treatment. Dr. O’Bryan also holds teaching faculty positions with the Institute for Functional Medicine and the National University of Health Sciences and has trained and certified tens of thousands of practitioners around the world in advanced understanding of the impact of wheat sensitivity and the development of individual autoimmune diseases. So welcome, Dr. O’Bryan. Such a pleasure to connect with you again.
Dr. O’Bryan: Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure to be with you.
The role of wheat and gluten in health and energy
Ari: So let’s jump straight into it. There’s a lot of gluten and wheat-related stuff in your bio there. What is the deal with wheat and gluten? And is this only a problem for people with celiac disease or people who have known gluten sensitivity? What’s your take on sort of the broad picture of wheat and gluten in human health?
Dr. O’Bryan: You bet. Thanks. My take is from reading hundreds and hundreds of studies, literally over the years. I started talking about this in 1996 in talks and doing blood tests to look at all this stuff. My library is, I don’t know how many thousands of articles on this. There are 23,000 currently on PubMed—23,000 articles on this topic. And so, this is not my opinion. When you read the science, it just drops your jaw.
So I’ll give you the big picture view about wheat. Wheat is a minor irritant for most people, a minor irritant, but in everyone, wheat if it comes out of the stomach undigested thoroughly, which it always does because no human can digest it thoroughly. When it comes out to the stomach, your centuries standing guard to protect you in the first part of the immune system—called the proximal part of the immune system—they’re called dendritic cells and toll-like receptors.
They’re there because our ancestors—— You have the same body as your ancestors thousands of years ago—the same kidneys, the same gallbladder, the same bones, and joints. Everything works the same. And our ancestors, they find something to eat, they grab it, they eat. First, they smell it to make sure it was safe. Then they taste a little, spit it out if it’s not good. But if that didn’t catch them, then they’d swallow it. You don’t taste bugs. You don’t taste bacteria, so if they ate something that had bacteria on it, it was the job of the stomach, the acid in the stomach to kill it, to just destroy whatever it is. You take hydrochloric acid from the stomach. You put it on a piece of wood. It eats through the wood. Our human hydrochloric acid, but it can sit in the stomach all day long, that acid because of the mucus cells we have there.
But if something came out of the stomach not destroyed and our century’s standing guard in the first part of the small intestine recognize it, they would immediately activate an immune response saying, there’s a bacteria here. There’s an invader. This shouldn’t be here. That’s the job of toll-like receptor 4. Every human, every time they eat wheat, activates toll-like receptor 4 from wheat in the proximal part of the small intestine. Your body thinks you’ve just swallowed a dangerous bug that’s a threat. Every time we eat wheat. Now, that mechanism it’s like someone standing garden in a tower saying, hey, there’s somebody out there that shouldn’t be there.
Well, is it going to initiate the entire Army that’s asleep in the barracks to get up and go out and respond? No, it’s not. Not usually, but when you cross a threshold, and that’s called loss of oral tolerance. When you cross a threshold, you can no longer tolerate even these minor things that the centuries who are standing guard are shouting, hey, we got a problem here. And because your Army is already activated out there combing through the bushes to destroy bisphenol AE, to destroy glyphosate, to destroy Perchloroethylene, to destroy chlorine, to destroy fluoride. All of the toxins that we’re already exposed to; we all have activated immune systems. We all do. And what happens with wheat is just another irritant until you cross the line of tolerance. And when your immune system says, that’s it. I’m not going to deal with this guy anymore.
Now you make antibodies to these peptides of wheat, these particles of poorly digested wheat. And when you make the antibodies to wheat now, depending on your genetics, if you pull a chain, the chain always breaks at the weakest link. It’s at one end, the middle, or the other end, your heart, your brain, your liver, your kidneys, wherever your genetic weak link is, the antibody, the inflammation is the pull on the chain. And the antibodies to wheat will trigger antibodies to wherever your genetic weak link is. So you may develop an autoimmune mechanism of your thyroid—just Google thyroid and gluten. Look at all the studies. You may develop an autoimmune mechanism to myelin, which is the saran wrap around your nerves. Just Google myelin and gluten. Here come the studies. And that’s MS. When it gets bad enough, that’s MS.
You may develop antibodies to your joints—just Google rheumatoid arthritis and gluten, reproductive disorders, infertility, miscarriages, attention deficit, autism, Alzheimer’s. Just Google whatever you want to consider and gluten, and here come the studies. So it’s the loss of tolerance in your gut that initially sets all of this off. And once you make antibodies to these peptides of wheat, it’s permanent because you make what are called memory B cells.
Ari: What determines whether someone loses tolerance or not, or whether they end up making antibodies or not? Is it genetics? Is it environmental and lifestyle factors? What’s going on there?
Dr. O’Bryan: Million-dollar question, not just one answer. Most common answer by most scientists who know of this dynamic and study this dynamic, most common answer is a disruptive microbiome. If there’s only one thing everyone was going to do to have the healthiest, most vibrant dynamic, empowering life ever is build the diversity of your microbiome. Your microbiome modulates function throughout the body. And that’s a geek word. It’s a good word for describing.
What it means is it has its hands on the steering wheel of what happens in your brain, for example, and turn the steering wheel just five degrees and 50 yards down the road you’re off the road. Just have a little disturbance in your microbiome, and you develop depression. Just Google depression and microbiome, and you see all the studies that come up. So if there’s only one thing you’re going to do, that would be it—is work on your microbiome. That’s the most common answer to the question that’s, in my opinion, accurate.
Ari: Why do you think this topic of gluten is so controversial? I know literally in the last two weeks I’ve interviewed two microbiome and gut experts. One of whom said every time you eat gluten, you get an increase in gut permeability. And this happens to everybody. This is a problem. I interviewed another gastroenterologist last week who specializes in gut health. He just wrote a book on gut health, and it’s called Fiber Fueled. His name is Dr. Will Bulsiewicz. I think is how you pronounce his name. And he’s more on the vegan side of things—pro-gluten. He doesn’t see any compelling evidence to suggest that gluten is harmful to anybody really other than celiac disease.
And he says, yes, you can say in a test tube gluten increases—— It causes permeability in tight junctions and in vitro experiments, but in the human body, this doesn’t happen. And if we look at long-term studies on consumption of whole grains and things like that, we don’t see an increased risk of disease. Why do you think—and just for clarity, I don’t personally have a strong opinion either way on this particular subject—but why do you think there’s so many apparent experts who have differing opinions on that topic? And I also mentioned our mutual friend, Alan Christianson, I know is very critical of the anti-grain, anti-gluten movement.
Dr. O’Bryan: Yeah. I’m not anti-grain, and I’m not anti-gluten. I am antistimulating your immune system further that’s already trying to protect you. So my message has always been this way. I never say no one should eat gluten. What I say is if you have a health situation that you’re not content with the results so far, just check and see if your immune system, which is there to protect you—that’s its only purpose—is trying to protect you from wheat. You just have to test thoroughly to find it. And the old tests that gastroenterologists use from 1997, it’s a good test, but it looks at one peptide of wheat—just one. And there are 62 that have been identified as being immunogenic, which means stimulates an immune response. Why are we only checking one? Because the technology 25 years ago was all, there is. Now there’s technology where you can check 10 or 26 peptides in one blood draw.
The importance of (and problems) with testing
And when you see this, and you see the studies from Harvard and from Mayo Clinic that say this testing technology is a new era in laboratory medicine.
This is right on the money every time. The geek term is the sensitivity is 97 to 99%. And the specificity is 98% to 100%. Every single time it’s right on the money.
Ari: And just explain those terms, sensitivity, and specificity, because a lot of people——
Dr. O’Bryan: Right. One will identify that you got a problem with this. And the other would say you don’t have a problem. How accurate is it? Because there are some tests that will say you got a problem with this. And the test is accurate 73% of the time. And the other test was it looks at the negative side of it and says if this isn’t positive, there’s no way you got a problem. Don’t worry about it. And the sensitivity and specificity of these things of the laboratory tests that most doctors are using are tests from the 1990s, 1980s, maybe early 2000s that were the very best that was available. And that’s what they learned in med school. And they’re using the same test for screening tests that most doctors were taught.
I call it the 30-30 rule. Thirty years ago, it took a 30 by 30 room at MIT, floor to ceiling computers to generate the computing power of this phone. Thirty years ago, we never would have guessed that it was possible to pull up the air particulate matter in New Delhi in a matter of seconds. If I turn to the next page and hit air matters and it opens up, and it tells me that in Spiazzo, Italy, the air particular matter is 19. It’s really good. Yesterday it was 57. Orange, Chicago, is 37 right now.
Ari: Pretty amazing, we have all this information at our fingertip.
Dr. O’Bryan: It is, but in the technology of our laboratory testing, most of our doctors are using the laboratory tests from the 1990s if that’s being kind. Some of the tests are from the 1960s that are still being done. We call that a CBC in chemistry. And that’s supposed to tell if we’re healthy or not. Well, that’s a test they did in 1960 to see if you had disease. But most of our physicals and blood tests are looking at the same thing. And maybe they add a little more. So when you use current technology, and for wheat, I’ve always said, you just have to do thorough testing. And if you don’t have problem on the most thorough of tests, go ahead and eat wheat.
You’ve not lost oral tolerance, but just check it every year because likely you will. Most of us do lose tolerance. So that’s why I think there is a variety of opinions is because some docs haven’t had a chance to read the studies and they say, well, there’s no evidence. Are you kidding me? I mean, I do eight-hour presentations on stage on this and 350 studies during the course of the day just showing the many different manifestations outside of celiac disease. For those that have crossed the line of tolerance, wherever the weak link in their chain is, that’s where it’s going to manifest. And I know it’s confusing for the general public. I know that. One expert says this. One expert says that. So my message is just ask your body. Just do thorough current testing and live with the results. If it says you got a problem, you got a problem.
Ari: And on the subject of testing, what tests specifically do you recommend? Because I know there’s quite a bit of debate around IgG food intolerance testing as to whether that’s scientifically valid or is there another kind of test or is——
Dr. O’Bryan: That’s a really good question. Mrs. Patient, your immune system is the armed forces in your body. It’s there to protect you. There’s an Army, an Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard, the Navy. We call it IgA, IgG, IgE, IgM, IgD, different branches of the armed forces. If you take your child to an allergist, they do skin prick testing on them. Now that looks for IgE, which is the technical, only one, that’s an allergy because that test was developed in the 1950s. That’s 70 years ago that test was developed and it showed some results that were just jaw-dropping to the cutting-edge doctors at the time who embraced it and said, hey, this really helps some people.
And they formed their own clique within the medical world, and they formed their own organizing board, and they became known as allergists. And that’s where the allergist specialty came from. It’s a really good thing to look for because if you have an IgE allergy, your breathing can shut down. That’s peanut allergies that could be life-threatening. Your respiratory tract can become very dysfunctional. That’s an IgE response. So an allergist does a skin prick test for wheat and says, no, there’s no response. You’re okay. It’s okay to eat wheat. Is that accurate? Absolutely not. Well, that’s just the Navy. What about the Air Force? Or what about the Army—IgG?
Well, okay. Let’s talk about the docs that use a 90 food IgG panel and then check for many different foods to tell people what they can and can’t eat. So if wheat comes back negative on an IgG panel, is it okay to eat wheat? No, the only thing you can say is that the Army hasn’t been called out. What about the Marines—IgA, which is the test to do if you’re looking for celiac disease is IGA. Well, I didn’t check the Marines. Well, is it really okay for me to eat wheat? Well, yeah, I see your IgG is normal, or I see your IgE is normal. It’s not thorough. That line of thinking that all doctors were taught back in school is not current. What is current is to check IgA, IgG, IgE, IgM, to see if any branches of the armed forces have been called out.
And as far as I know, there’s only two labs that look at more than one branch of the armed forces. One is Cyrex Labs, and they look at IgA, IgG, and IgM for most things. And the other is Vibrant Wellness. It looks at IgA, IgG, IgE, and IgM. Those are the only labs that are more current. Cyrex opened up in 2010. Vibrant Wellness opened up in 2016, and Mayo Clinic calls the technology from Vibrant Wellness a new era in laboratory medicine. I’ve seen four papers published by the world experts at Mayo on this technology. And there are four guys in the world of celiac, for example. I call them the four horsemen.
There is Stefano Guandalini at the University of Chicago, Peter Green at Columbia, Alessio Fasano at Harvard, and Joe Murray of Mayo. And Dr. Murray is a guy that has leather patches on the elbows of his sport coats, wears bow ties, and horn-rimmed glasses. His papers are the easiest for clinicians to read because he writes very clinician-friendly. His team first published on this technology to say this is a new era in laboratory medicine and very credible people. So when I hear doc say, there is no evidence that there’s problems with wheat or anything other than celiac disease, the politest thing I can say is that you just haven’t had an opportunity to read the hundreds of studies that are out there.
Ari: You see it almost as akin to what happened in the fifties with the emergence of the IgG skin prick tests. And then the initial group of people——
Dr. O’Bryan: IgE skin prick test. Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly right. And I’m tongue-tied every time that I hear of a gastroenterologist who says there’s no evidence. No, sir. It just means you haven’t had the time to read the studies.
Ari: And the last question I have on the subject of testing and maybe we can come back to this at the end as far as what tests you recommend, or you can say it now, but I know with IgG tests, there’s a repeatability issue of—— I’ve seen a number of cases where people have tested once and then either done a split test with the same vial of blood at the same time and gotten different results or tested this week and again next week and gotten totally different results. Have you found that the test that you’re referring to, I think they’re the Zoomer tests, do they have really strong repeatability?
Dr. O’Bryan: Yes, they do. And I’ve done those split-tests before, and the doctor has to pay for it himself because I’m not going to ask the patient to pay double for this. It’s my inquiry. It’s my mind that wants to know. And I have found in so many labs that there’s no repeatability, whereas in the—— It’s called silicon chip technology that comes from the Vibrant Wellness test. And you are right. This is the Zoomer; the wheat Zoomer is the go-to test. Their reproducibility I haven’t found an exception. I’ve only done three. I’m not going to spend—— When Joe Murray of Mayo says it’s 97% to 99% sensitive and 98% to 100% specific, I’m going to trust the guy.
Ari: And those numbers are they—— Is that clinical validation, like they’re validated? Like they’re taking a positive response to an immune reaction to say gluten, and they’re connecting it with symptoms that a person has with gluten, or how is that validated?
Dr. O’Bryan: Yeah. The blood they’re using are celiac patient’s blood, so they know what it’s supposed to say. And then, when the lab tests come back, they look to see how accurate is this and their jaw drops. They’ve never seen this kind of accuracy. And this silicone chip technology, they can look at 6,000 different antigens, meaning things that offend the immune system in one blood draw. They don’t, but they could look at thousands because it’s a whole new era that we’ve never been able to imagine in the past. It’s new technology.
The framework of health
Ari: So I want to ask you at the end. We’ll come back to the specific tests you recommend that people get to check these kinds of things, but I want to—— This is a fascinating, deep dive in gluten to start with. I want to zoom out and go big picture. You have a pyramid framework that you talk about in your book. And this is like sort of an overarching paradigm of how to approach health optimization, energy optimization, brain health optimization, immune health optimization, everything optimization. What is this framework? What does it consist of?
Dr. O’Bryan: First, we have to recognize that we’ve all been bred and trained to consider health efforts, to be looking for the magic pill that gets rid of my symptoms. We’re all born and raised in that world from all of the commercials and things. I mean, what is the name of that cabinet that’s in the bathroom above the sink? It’s a medicine cabinet. It’s not called the nutrition cabinet or the health cabinet. It’s the medicine cabinet that we’re all bred to accept that something wrong with your body, take some medicine. And many of us know the problems with that line of thinking. I mean, in acute cases, it’s critically important sometimes to do that, but not to enhance well-being, but just to get the person functional again. So if we recognize that’s the way that we were inbred to think, and then, okay, how do I find out why I’m sick?
Where’s it coming from? Not just, how do I get rid of my knee pain, but where did my knee pain come from? If you have a pain one day and you take a Tylenol, and it’s gone, never comes back or a headache, okay, great, took care of it. But if you get headaches a couple of times a week, or once a month, or with your cycles or whatever it should be, if there’s a repeated symptom pattern, there’s something out of balance. So the question is—— And taking the medication may put a lid on the pressure cooker, but it doesn’t help us understand where is this coming from? I’m just remembering. I used to use this analogy all the time. You’re driving down the highway, and the hot light comes on your dashboard. You’re like, oh my gosh. And you know that you have to pull over quick or else the engine’s going to overheat.
But nobody pulls over and turns the car off and gets down on the floor and finds the wire that goes to the hot light and cuts the wire and starts the car and says, oh, well, the hot light’s not on anymore and drive away and think everything’s okay. But that’s what we do with our bodies for the recurrent symptoms we have. You have a symptom once. You take an aspirin; the headache is gone, great. But if it keeps coming back, we have to ask why that happening is? Not ask, what do I take to get rid of the symptom? But why is this coming? Why is my son not doing so well in school? Why is it that my cycles are so heavy, and I’m immobilized in bed for a day? Why is it that I’m 60 years old, and I can’t urinate the way that I used to?
I mean, whatever it is. Why is this happening? And to get to that question, I see four categories that we have to look at in investigating, and that your doctors and your healthcare practitioners that you see need to look at four categories. The first one and the most common one is the biochemical. We all know to look at foods, beverages, medications, nutrition, the air we breathe. That’s all biochemical interaction—very important. But that’s where the main focus is and where people usually limit themselves in the world. I see it as a pyramid, and the pyramid has four sides. No, there’s only three. No, there’s a base. There are four sides to a pyramid. The base is your structure. That’s the home of chiropractic and traditional osteopathy and massage and posture and pillows and car seats, and orthotics in your shoes.
Things that sometimes can make a dramatic difference in whatever your symptom is. There are hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of case studies of the darndest things you’d never think of that were fixed by a chiropractor working on the spine. Sometimes that’s the trigger causing the problem. And there’s no amount of non-steroidal anti-inflammatories that will take care of the cause of the headache if it’s a mechanical problem. So sometimes it’s the mechanics that we have to look at. Sometimes it’s the biochemistry.
Sometimes it’s the emotional or spiritual side of the pyramid of health. I call that stinking thinking, and we all know how that can manifest in our bodies. We’ve all heard stories like that. And sometimes it’s electromagnetic, and we’re learning more and more about the electromagnetic pollution in our homes and how it’s affecting people. I’ve had a couple of patients in these last few months that had irregular heartbeats.
And the first thing I asked them was, do you have a smart meter outside your house? Well, yeah, they installed one about six months ago. I said, get it out of there. Well, I can’t. Yes, you can. They’ll charge you, but you can get it out of there, or just go live in a hotel for a week and see if your heart arrhythmias go away. But make sure there’s no smart meter on the wall outside your room in the hotel. And there’s no 5G in the hotel. And both people, their arrhythmias, were gone. It’s common for heart irregularities that it’s electromagnetic. My first week in my health education, my first week in chiropractic school, I knew absolutely nothing. And I saw that Dr. Sheldon Deal was coming to talk—Mr. Arizona—and I thought, oh, okay. The guy’s a bodybuilder, cool—health guy. I’d like to hear what he has to say.
So he had a color television turned on in the room, but the volume turned off. He walked over to his briefcase, opened up the briefcase, and took out a bar magnet the size of an iPhone. Held it up like this, walked up to the color television on the stand, and the picture went upside down. Walked away, and it went right side up. Walked towards it and went upside down. Walked away, it went right side up. He said that’s what electromagnetic pollution does in your body. Those are people that say right when they mean left. They write the number three backward, or they put I and E different in spelling a word out when they know how to spell it. They’re switched. It’s called neurological switching. And that electromagnetic pollution switches your electricity in your body.
And that was my first week in my education. I had never heard of such a thing. Then a couple of weeks later, there was another guest speaker that came, Dr. Paul Singh, from Los Angeles, a medical doctor talking about electroacupuncture by bowl. And I know what this was, but I had some time. So I went to listen to him, and he said that they took their instrument. A 44year-old woman came in, and they put the probe on some acupuncture points. And the probe read the current. It went into the machine, it calculates it. And he said, she’d come in because she’d been diagnosed with type two diabetes. And he said, well, ma’am, yes, I can see that you have type two diabetes and that you have blood sugar problems most of your life. Well, you were infected with the virus when you were very young, and you got very sick and the virus set up shop in your pancreas.
And so, over the years, you’ve suffered from some pancreatic imbalances, which now has progressed to type two diabetes. And she said, “Well, doctor, I have had hypoglycemia problems my whole life, but I was never sick.” Yes, you were. No, I wasn’t. I’m sorry, ma’am, you were. And she said, “No, doctor, you’re nice, man, but I wasn’t.” He says, is your mother alive? Yes. Call her. She calls, “Hi, mom. I’m fine. I’m at the doctor’s office. But he said I was really sick when I was a child. I wasn’t ever sick.” Oh, honey, you almost died when you were 20 months old. You had a really bad fever. We put you in an ice bath. The doctor was out of town. We put vinegar socks on you—anything to try and get that fever down. This machine identified it 40 years later—40 years. That’s electromagnetics. There’s a whole world to this that most of us don’t understand. This whole world of electromagnetics is credible. And we’re at the level now where most of us are being exposed to toxic levels—toxic being defined as altering human function.
Ari: So this is a super interesting topic. I wasn’t anticipating going down the rabbit hole of EMFs with you, but since you brought it up, and you’re passionate about it, let’s do it. There’s obviously a huge range of opinions. It’s sort of like gluten. We’re going to touch on a lot of controversial topics here. With EMFs, you have a camp that is very hardcore EMFs are extremely harmful. And then we have the camp that says all this is nonsense and quackery and tinfoil hat stuff. And it’s all pseudoscience and here’s these studies that show that EMFs are not linked with cancer and so on. So there’s at least some research that those people use to suggest that it’s safe and not a big concern.
At the same time, we’re now rolling out this new technology rapidly—5G—that doesn’t appear to have any real good safety data on it. And there’s mixed opinions on that, too. Some people are saying, oh, this is going to be much safer than the previous generations because it doesn’t penetrate as deeply into the body. It stays very much on the surface. It scatters sort of at the skin level. So what’s your take on—— I mean, obviously you think EMFs harm health. What’s your take on 5G specifically, and is that something that you think is going to be safer or more dangerous?
Dr. O’Bryan: Well, I think that EMFs harm health. That’s correct. They may harm health. Gluten may harm health. Dairy may harm health. Just Google casein, a protein in dairy and sudden infant death syndrome, and read the studies. It may be the trigger that sets off, shuts down the breathing apparatus in infants. It may be. As I said about wheat, I never say no one should eat wheat. What I say is that if you have a health condition that you’re unhappy with, get the test done. Just get the right test and see.
EMFs, unfortunately, we don’t have as much testing available on that one. I’m not an expert in different G-frequencies and the 5G frequency. I know that I’ve seen some preliminary studies that give me pause, and I haven’t seen any studies about safety, and this is being rolled out without being tested and being rolled out in hidden ways while people are in quarantine. More 5G towers are being put up at night when there’s no one out and available and just Google it and just read about it and say, what? Why are they doing that?
And so, is it nefarious? I don’t know for sure, but my alarms are up. I’d certainly want to know more. I’d want more information on that. And for people who likely are electromagnetic sensitive, who are those? Like the couple examples I already gave you, or those that feel anxious about life and not just anxiety, but they just don’t feel very grounded at times. I think those people are more sensitive and just to evaluate, try avoiding some of this for a while, and just see how you feel like the people with heart arrhythmias. Just get out of the environment and see if your heart arrhythmias calm down. And if they do, okay, then go back home and see what happens. And there’s no question they have to get those things out of there immediately because this will kill you.
You get arrhythmias; it’ll kill you. And the medications aren’t going to protect you from that completely. They’ll help a little bit. So I’m really cautious about it, Ari. I would certainly like to see it slow down, and we get more data. My recommendation to my patients now when they ask is, of course, turn all wireless off at night. You don’t need it on when you’re sleeping and work in the direction of having hard-wiring only. Get wireless out of your house and just have hard wiring put in every room.
Ari: That’s what I have. I agree with you. Better to err on the side of the precautionary principle.
Dr. O’Bryan: Right. And you also have plants behind your head right now. Plants create an environment that neutralizes electromagnetic discharge.
Ari: Do they really? I always read that, and I was always very skeptical of those claims. I had never seen any real science on it, but now that you’re—— I’ve never actually interviewed someone who has said that. And you’re someone that I respect and trust. And I’m wondering if you’ve seen any actual evidence that’s shown that?
Dr. O’Bryan: 1974, I think, I read a book called The Secret Life of Plants. It was like this thick. It was a Bible kind of book. And they had like six fan-type plants in a room. One of them, they hooked up with a lie detector type of monitoring equipment measuring the electrical current going through the plant and just left it there and just measured every day. Happy plants, all of that. Then a guy comes in the room with a machete and chops up five of the six plants leaving the one alone that was wired up, and you see the graphs. The plant went into shock. It just went into shock.
Ari: The one that wasn’t chopped up?
Dr. O’Bryan: The one that was not chopped up that was wired and had a multi-day history of calm environment, people walking in and out of the room, and all that. Six months later, the plant’s back to normal, still being wired up all the time. Everything’s fine. People walk in and out. The guy that chopped up the plants walked in the room; the plant went into shock. And I just went, what?
Ari: Well, something like that certainly—— I mean, if that is true and that’s validated, we have to rethink a lot of things about——
Dr. O’Bryan: Yeah, you’re right. If you look at Buddhist principles from thousands of years ago, that life and consciousness is not just in humans. That all life has consciousness. And at that time, I happened to be doing—— I do yoga once in a while and meditation once in a while, and my hair was down to my waist, and I was a hippie. And so, I was being exposed to a lot all at once. And to read that about plants just softened me a lot about life in general. And I started avoiding stepping on beetles if they were on the sidewalk. I used to as a kid. We want to crush them. And I grew up in Detroit. A little wild, I guess, but I just became a little more conscious of others and not just animals and insects, but also people. That helped me be a little more conscious about others in life. And it’s not too far of a stretch to take it to the plant world.
Ari: I think the most important lesson of this story if I’m reading you correctly, is that you can tell the purity of my soul by the vibrant, beautiful, healthy plants behind me.
Dr. O’Bryan: There you go. The plants look healthy and happy. They do.
Ari: I switch them out every day with new ones because they die every day.
Dr. O’Bryan: By the way, plants also absorb toxins in the air, and the indoor world is much more toxic, usually than the outdoor world. So we all should have plants in our homes.
Ari: Yeah. So let’s jump to—— Well, actually let’s wrap up the EMF topic. How can people actually protect themselves? Plants and wired internet, any other tips there as far as self——
Dr. O’Bryan: You bet. Do the pretty woman thing every day if you can. Take off your socks and walk in the dirt. Walk on the grass. Get grounded, get outside. Currently, we’re going through a pandemic issue here. And a couple of doctors from MedCram—it’s a site that’s been following this every day. It’s really a great site. It’s an educational site for practitioners, medcram.com. And they pulled up a few studies. One study from Stanford and a university in Tokyo joined effort. They took young people, drew their blood at eight in the morning, measured the number of natural killer cells they had. And they measured the number of bactericides—the potent cytokines inside the natural killer cells. And then they drove them three hours out into the country. And in the afternoon, they did a three-hour walk in a forest.
The next morning—— They slept in a hotel that night, the next morning at 8:00 a.m., they drew their blood. The natural killer cell count had gone up, and the bactericide count had gone up. They then went for a three-hour walk in the morning, lunch, three-hour walk in the afternoon, stayed in the hotel that night, drew their blood again the next morning. It had gone up, even more, all four markers had gone up. Then they drove back to Tokyo. They stayed in a hotel that night. Didn’t go back to their home, stayed in a hotel. Next morning, drew their blood. The blood was still high, but then they sent them out for three-hour walk in Tokyo and stayed in the hotel that night. The next morning, the NK cells hadn’t gone up anymore. So they demonstrated that walking in the forest increases the effectiveness and the numbers of your patrolling white blood cells, the natural killer cells, which are the amplifiers of inflammation.
They’re there to protect you. Then they went back to the forest and analyzed the air, and they found that it was the essential oils in the air from the pine forest that they—— They constantly found out it was in the air. They took some of the oils from the trees, and they went back in the laboratory and demonstrated in test tubes or in Petri dishes that the oil increases natural killer cells. So walking in the forest, just breathing in the air in the forest, increased your immune system’s ability to fight infections, to fight invaders.
So I call it the pretty woman thing from the movie. Take off your socks, walk barefoot in safe areas on the ground—get grounded. And the more grounded we are, the more resilience we have against EMFs. That EMFs seem to turn us upside down for our brain and our nervous system. So the more grounded you are by being on planet earth, the more likely to reduce the effects of EMFs.
How to boost your brain health
Ari: Beautiful. So two killer tips so far around understanding gluten, understanding accurately immune responses, and then tips around EMFs. I want to talk about brain health specifically. So your last book is You Can Fix Your Brain, and the subtitle is Just 1 Hour a Week to the Best Memory, Productivity, and Sleep You’ve Ever Had. So what specifically does this one hour a week consist of?
Dr. O’Bryan: Thanks so much for that. It’s really important. It’s not a cutesy subtitle. It’s the only way that I am aware of that people can be successful in changing their paradigm. The paradigm that you’re currently living in is the one that’s got you into the mess you’re in, in terms of your health, whatever issues you have, your relationships, your body function. The way we live our lives, it creates what’s happening to us. You don’t change your paradigm overnight. You don’t change the way you think, but one hour a week. For example, when you learn that phthalates—— They did a study in Chicago. They took 346 pregnant women, measured their urine in the eighth month of pregnancy for phthalates. These are chemicals that mold plastic. Everybody has got phthalates in the urine, literally, and they categorize them into four quadrants—the lowest, the next one, the third, and the highest quadrant.
They followed these children, the offspring, for seven years. When the kids turned seven years old, they did Wechsler IQ test—the official IQ test—on all these kids. There’s not much in medicine that’s all or every. This was every child whose mother was in the highest quantile of phthalates of urine in pregnancy compared to the children in the lowest quantile of phthalates in urine in pregnancy. Every child, their IQ was 6.7 to 7.6 points lower than these kids, every one of them. Now, that doesn’t mean anything to anyone until you realize that one-point difference in IQ is noticeable. A seven-point difference is a difference between a child working really hard, getting straight A’s and a child working really hard, getting straight Cs. This kid doesn’t have a chance in hell because his brain never developed properly. Then just go to Google and type in phthalates and neurogenesis. Here come the studies how phthalates inhibit brain growth and nerve growth.
And our women today, our pregnant women, are walking toxic cesspools. Every newborn child today has at least 280 chemicals in their bloodstream at birth that aren’t supposed to be there. How did they get there? Mom’s got them in storage because mom’s living a clean life. She gets pregnant at 28 to 30, whatever, and hopefully, a healthy pregnancy, healthy delivery. But mom has 28 years of phthalates that are stored in her body because these things are called endocrine-disrupting chemicals. And what does that mean? It means they bind onto the cells that love estrogen and love testosterone, and they hang out there. And that’s your breasts, and that’s your reproductive system, and that’s the testes. Why do you think every—— A meta-analysis of— — I don’t remember. It was either 30 or 40 studies between 1974 and 2011.
They looked at hundreds of studies, and they tapered it down to these 30 or 40 studies that the average sperm count in men today, there has been a 59% drop in sperm count in 37 years—59%. That no man today, perhaps it was a rare exception, has anywhere near the testosterone level or the sperm level of his grandfather when his grandfather was his age—that we’re all going down in sperm count. Now, 59% doesn’t mean anything to anybody until you realize scientists worry about extinction of a species at 72% loss of sperm. And we’re at 59% in 37 years. Is because of all these endocrine-disrupting chemicals that accumulate in our body. How do they get away with this? This will take two minutes, and then I’ll stop on this.
Ari: No, this is great. Don’t apologize for this. This is awesome.
Dr. O’Bryan: The Toxic Substance Control act of 1976 is still the governing regulations for new chemicals introduced into our environment. It’s never been changed or updated. And in the journal Pediatrics, arguably the number one journal in the English language for children’s health, they published a policy statement. What does that mean? If you’re an author like I am, I’ve had some papers published, but if you get published in a journal like Pediatrics, you’ve really scored. That’s a top tier journal. It’s been reviewed by the top editors, the top reviewers to make sure it’s squeaky clean.
But when there’s a policy statement, that’s from the board of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The board wanting to make sure every pediatrician knows this. They published a policy statement that said the TSCA, Toxic Substance Control Act failed miserably—their language—to protect our children. That it’s 27 trillion pounds of chemicals are manufactured or imported into the United States every year. Now, you take that, and you divide it by 350 million Americans, whatever the number is now. I found out what our population is. I divided by 27 trillion. That’s 247 pounds per person, per day of chemicals being manufactured or imported in the United States every day. That’s 550-pound bags. Why do you think autism is going through the roof? These kids are toxic, and many of these things inhibit neurogenesis. I just gave you the example of pregnant women, but 247 pounds. I mean, it’s just jaw-dropping, and we’ll just——
Ari: And just to speak to that, I just recently looked into some literature around pesticide residues, specifically, and their relationship to neurodevelopmental issues and autism. And it is absolutely pretty well established at this point that kids who grow up in agricultural areas or grow up on farms, where they have a specialty high exposure to some of these compounds have way higher risk of autism and neurodevelopmental disorders. And so, I think it’s very reasonable to speculate that given that these things are pretty much everywhere, I’ll bet people on the farm are going to have higher exposures, but they’re everywhere. To some extent, we probably have at least some small degree of effect, if not a very significant effect from this.
Dr. O’Bryan: Oh, Ari. But if you talk to experts in pediatrics, they say, there’s no evidence to support that idea. That’s what you’re up against. I mean, put leftover chicken in a plastic storage container in your refrigerator. The next day that chicken has phthalates in it. Now, there’s no evidence that the amount of phthalates that leech out of plastic storage containers is toxic to humans. That’s how they get away with this in the TSCA.
Ari: This is a bit of a digression, but you’re mentioning, so I just have to ask. Why are there experts covering this up? If what you’re saying, and what I’m saying is true, if there’s evidence, good evidence, to show that there is an issue here, why are there people covering this up because there are some people who say, oh, anybody who’s claiming that there’s suppression of evidence or people obscuring or covering things up, oh, that’s all just conspiracy nonsense? And we should trust the authorities. So both you and I are hinting that some, at least, of the time, that’s not totally true.
Dr. O’Bryan: No, they pass the Toxic Substances Control Act specifically so that it has no teeth. There is no evidence that the amount of phthalates that leech out of nail polish and get into your bloodstream in three to five minutes is toxic to humans. There is no evidence of that because it’s a minuscule amount. There is no evidence for any of that, but it’s a cumulative. Give me 25 years of nail polish; now you’ve got a problem.
Ari: And those studies don’t exist.
Dr. O’Bryan: Those studies don’t exist. Or the other avenue of answering your question, I’m not an investigative clinician, but let’s just go back and look at the studies of how safe tobacco is that were published in the sixties and the seventies in reputable journals. But these studies were published out of major universities; tobacco is safe. There is no evidence that it causes cancer.
You can do the same thing with margarine and transform fatty acids. There’s no evidence that this stuff is bad for you. But unfortunately, I think it’s part of the human nature that people have an agenda, and they’re going to focus on demonstrating that that agenda is accurate. And we as the consumers or the readers, we don’t know. I’m not an expert in researching transform fatty acids or the mechanisms by which cigarette smoking causes cancer. I’m not an expert in that cellular mechanism that occurs. I know how it does. No one could convince me otherwise at this point. And I think that’s true for most of us because it’s been false. But this goes on for decades where this type of there is no evidence that this is harmful to humans. It goes on, and industries who often are behind the studies that came out one way or another are making billions and billions off of this stuff. We all know that.
Ari: I mean, if you were in industry interested in covering up evidence that suggests that your product is harmful, a product that you may make millions or hundreds of millions or billions off of, how hard would it be to just reach out to somebody who’s an expert and say, hey, I’ll give you a million bucks if you publicly state that our product is safe.
Dr. O’Bryan: $50,000 is enough. It’s not a million bucks. Hey, listen, I’ll finance your study, but these are the results we need, or they’ll say I’ll finance your study. And while the study is going on, they will say, well, let’s just tweak that a little bit. And let’s just tweak that.
Ari: Yeah. And for anybody who is skeptical of this, I mean, there’s lots of good science out there. I don’t think either of us are arguing that you should not trust all sides, but there are some segments in science that is biased by industry funding or is fraudulent or has other sorts of ulterior motives behind it. And it’s a known, recognized problem even within the scientific community. And it’s not conspiracy theory. For anybody skeptical, I would encourage you to watch the TED talks or read the book by Ben Goldacre, who is an MD who has dedicated his life to exposing bad science.
And one of the things he says is industry-funded research has about a 400% higher probability of getting a flattering finding to whatever they’re studying compared to independent research. So this is well established. There’s also something called the file drawer effect where if industry pharmaceutical companies let’s say conduct studies and fund studies on a particular product, and they don’t get a finding that they like, those studies never get submitted to peer review journals and never see the light of day.
Dr. O’Bryan: Never see the light of day.
Ari: So the only studies that do exist, let’s say, for example, on SSRI antidepressants and being the only ones that show positive results, and then when you go dig up all the ones that never saw the light of day, which someone like Ben Goldacre does, then you find all these negative studies that never got published. But anyway, jumping back to——
Dr. O’Bryan: There’s a concept called the need to treat. It’s a number of how many people need to take this particular medication for one person to receive benefits. And when I first learned of this was back in the eighties or nineties, I think. And it just shocked me that the need to treat, the number needed to treat, was 100 for Lipitor to have a benefit. A statin drug to lower cholesterol. You had to treat a hundred people for one to get a benefit. Now, the number you need to treat with vitamin D to prevent a severe immune reaction to a virus exposure is four, which is outstanding. This just got published last week. And there are people saying, don’t take vitamin D.
Ari: I have that on my list of questions to come back to. So I want to get back to that the hour a day for brain health. So let’s carry on with——
Dr. O’Bryan: Yes. Thank you so much. I did get a little diverted there.
Ari: It was a great diversion. I’m glad we went down that pathway.
Dr. O’Bryan: Thank you. When you learn that plastic storage containers leech phthalates into the food, one week, you’re going to go back to the book. This is the book. You’re going to go back to the book to glass storage containers. And you’ll look for the three URLs where I suggest, all right, go over to mileskimball.com or go to Amazon or go to the third one, which I don’t remember what it was. And say, oh, those are—— Oh, I like those. I really like those. And you order three round ones and two square ones, and one for the pies and you pay with your credit card. You hit send. It took an hour to do that, but you’re done for the week, and never again will you poison your family with my new levels of these toxic chemicals using plastic storage containers. Never again.
Give the Tupperware containers to your husband to store nails in the garage. But that’s how you win in changing a paradigm is one hour a week every week—Tuesday night after dinner. Sunday morning after services, whenever it is. But you tell your family every week; I’m going to take an hour here. Don’t bother me. And I’m going to learn more about how to keep us healthy. You do that one hour a week for all the bullet points in the book and the other things you learn on this summit and other places, just one hour a week for your health hour. And in six months, you’ve got this. You’ve changed 25 things in your life. You order new nail polish that you know is organic and non-toxic. You’ve done all these little things. You’re now using cleaners for the windows in the house that are non-toxic.
You’re using laundry detergent that’s non-toxic. You’re learning all these little things step by step by step until it just merges into your life. That is the only way to change a paradigm. Your other option is to say, well, what pill do I take to make that pain go away? I mean, so many people watch so many summits like your summits, which are great and mine, which are great. And they learn so much, and they’re so overwhelmed. They don’t do anything or very little, right? So one hour a week is all it takes, but just be consistent. Here’s the analogy. 1984, this microbiologist in Australia writes a paper and says I think that sometimes ulcers are caused by bacteria. And everybody, what are you? A nutcase? Everybody knows ulcers caused by too much acid in the stomach. What kind of nonsense is that?
And he was ostracized. So what did he do? He did an endoscopy. Put a tube down his throat, took a picture of the healthy pink tissue of his stomach. Then he drank a beaker of Helicobacter pylori bacteria, waited a couple of weeks until he was as sick as could be. Did another endoscopy, took pictures of the ulcerated stomach. Then he took the antibiotics to kill the bacteria. Wait a couple of weeks till he felt good again, did another endoscopy taking pictures of the healthy pink tissue of his stomach. Then he published it with the pictures. Then everybody knew he was a nutcase, but no——
Ari: This is like anti-biohacking.
Dr. O’Bryan: That’s right. That’s good. Now they knew, everyone knew. And the World Health Organization sent that paper to every medical society in the world. Why? Because at the time, the number one cancer in the world was stomach cancer, especially in third world countries caused by a Helicobacter infection. So they said, pick up on this and check for Helicobacter, you’ll save many lives. So he was still ostracized after he published his paper, considered a nutcase, made everybody look bad. Twenty-one years later, he wins the Nobel Prize in physiology. This is Dr. Barry Marshall, and the Nobel committee said who with tenacity—— This is the exact quote: who with tenacity and a prepared mind, challenged prevailing dogma.
Now, my message to you listener is that if you’re not happy with your health, the current dogma you’re living your life by isn’t working. There’s something that has to change in your paradigm. So how do you do that? With tenacity, one hour a week, but every week, one hour a week—that’s tenacity. And a prepared mind. You watch Ari’s summit. You read my books. You look at other things, but you prepare your mind to challenge your internal dogma that had been developed over a lifetime. That’s what I mean by just one hour a week to the best memory productivity and sleep you’ve ever had. That’s the only way I know, Ari, to change your paradigm.
Ari: That’s beautiful. So let’s go real specific to wrap things up. What are your top superfoods for brain health?
Dr. O’Bryan: Alaskan fish, and I recommend everybody Vital Choice seafood’s, which is an online service. But they have the highest quality. They’re very conscientious about it. They have a canned tuna fish called Ventresca—Italian for baby belly. The owner of the company used to be a salmon fisherman and realized he wanted to carry their products out to the world. So they got a bunch of families together, and he said, look, I’ll do the business stuff. And he realized that they catch baby tuna in the net sometimes with the salmon, and they just throw them away.
There’s nothing they can do with them. So he said wait a minute, I can do something with that. And so, he came up with the process of harvesting the baby tuna. Baby tuna do not have high levels of mercury. All other tuna does—baby tuna does not. So when you get Ventresca, they used to say no mercury, but they can’t because there’s minuscule, microscopic, tiniest amount. So they don’t market it as no mercury anymore, but it’s negligible, and a can of tuna fish is seven grams of Omega-3s, 7,000 milligrams. Most of the horse capsules are about 800 milligrams. So you get a big 7,000 milligrams in a can of tuna. Pregnant women, kids, Ventresca is just the best. It gives you the food for your brain. Why? It used to be in medical offices. You go into the office; you go in the bathroom; you urinate into a cup. You put the cup on the little thing in the wall. And the nurse spins it around to the other room. That’s called a lazy Susan. And then she does a urine test, right?
Your brain communicates cell to cell by lazy Susans. The lazy Susans are the fatty membrane around brain cells. Your fatty membranes around brain cells are made by the fats in the bloodstream. When you have adequate amounts of the good fats, Omega-3s, your lazy Susans are made properly. And the communication between brain cells is really good. The chemicals from one brain cell go to the next brain cell; they go through the fatty membrane into the next cell. So they get modified a little bit. And then they go to the next one, get modified a little bit, go to the next one. That’s how we create neural messages. When your diet is transformed fatty acids, your brain membranes are made out of French fries.
The fats from French fries, which are thick and mucusy and not very good. What’s the result? Take attention-deficit kids—articles published in the journal of the American Medical Association—put them on Omega-3 fish oils, and in six months, their IQ has gone up. Why? Because you’ve replaced the fatty membranes in the brain cells with lazy Susans that aren’t all rusty. And they turn easily. They communicate easily.
So good fats are critical for your brain. The most essential food for your brain is good fats. That includes avocados, Omega-3s, nuts, and seeds. They’re just critical. Next for the brain is choline. Choline is in eggs, in some meats—really critical to produce the chemicals that your brain is manufacturing and using all the time. Phosphatidylcholines, phosphatidylserine, they are critically important. And when you’re looking at nutrition to help your brain function, those are the things you want to take because your body’s not making enough of it. So supplying it in food is really important.
Ari: Great. Any other tips? Any particular plant foods that you feel are associated with brain health?
Dr. O’Bryan: Yeah. It’s the rainbow diet, and getting enough polyphenols are critically important, really important for so many reasons. And especially in your brain. Polyphenols are the—— The deeper the color of the fruit or vegetable, the higher the polyphenol content. So I think everyone should be eating a rainbow diet. Half your plate should be a rainbow diet every day.
Ari: Is there any specific vegetable or berry that you think is— with the research?
Dr. O’Bryan: You bet. I’ve been talking for years. Blueberries, you eat one cup of blueberries a day for three years, and your brain is functioning the way it was 11 years earlier. It’s remarkable. You read the study, and you go, wow.
Ari: I see that question.
Dr. O’Bryan: Yeah, because I buy frozen blueberries, always organic, please. It’s always important. Blueberries, I think number eight on the dirty dozen. If they’re not organic, they’re just loaded full of crap, but I buy 10, 15 bags at a time, and I put them in the freezer. And if I want something sweet at night, I just take a cup of blueberries. I eat them with a spoon, or I just use my finger while I’m sitting, watching a show or listening to something on YouTube, whatever, and I’m just eating blueberries.
Ari: And it’s wonderful other than purple-stained fingers.
Dr. O’Bryan: Right. I don’t mind the price of admission. That’s the price of admission.
Ari: Yeah. Last question I have for you is, and this has been awesome. I love this conversation. I love how passionate you are. I love how knowledgeable you are. It’s always so fun to talk to you and get to throw out. I get to throw out whatever random questions I want, and I know you could talk to me for an hour on just that one question. So vitamin D. I know you said that vitamin D suppresses the immune system, and this obviously is sort of a weird way of thinking about it that most people would find odd since they’re hearing vitamin D supports the immune system. So what’s your take on vitamin D?
Dr. O’Bryan: Yeah, it’s great. This is a jaw-dropper. 19, not 19. 2004, they found four people buried in the Arctic Tundra on an army base who had died in the 1918 pandemic flu. And they said, let’s dig them up and find out how they died. No, don’t expose the virus. Don’t expose the virus, but they did. And they found out how they died. And they found out that it was macrophages in the lungs—the first responder from our innate immune system. Macrophages in the lungs that had gone crazy and produced what we now know is called the cytokine storm. So what does that mean? Macrophages are special forces with a high-powered rifle. When something comes into your lungs or other parts of your body, macrophages fire a chemical bullet from a high-powered rifle to destroy whatever that thing is. That’s their job.
We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have macrophages. But what happened to that 1918 flu was these people that died, they went to work in the morning. They never came home. They were gone in 24 to 36 hours. That was so terrifying. Those that went into a cytokine storm were usually young, healthy people. And that was just jaw-dropping. Well, for those people, the trigger on the high-powered rifle got stuck on position and became a submachine gun.
And that caused so much inflammation and so much swelling, pneumonia. They drowned in their own pneumonia in one day. That’s how they died. Many of them died in the 1918 flu. And I said, wow, why does that happen? And I thought, well, vitamin D this is a winter kind of disease. People get the flu in the winter, and is it vitamin D?
So I started searching for vitamin D, and I found the article that came out, oh, I don’t know, maybe five months after that initial story. It came out in the journal, Blood, which is a reputable journal, but they showed was that—— There are different forms of vitamin D that when the sun hits our skin, it converts hormones or pre-hormones in our skin to 25-hydroxy D. And that’s the one that blood tests look for most often is what’s your 25-hydroxy level. 25-hydroxy circulates through your bloodstream, and it gets converted by the kidneys, by the liver, and other tissues to 1,25-hydroxy D. 1,25 is the active form that really penetrates inside your cells and all that. What they found was that when macrophages get activated to fire their chemical bullet, the macrophage also converts 25 to 1,25-hydroxy D, which suppresses the immune system.
So the 1,25 suppresses the immune, and they checked in regular macrophages. No, nothing happened in there. There was no production of 1,25. 1,25 only gets produced in macrophages when it gets activated to fight something. Why would it do that? If it’s activated to fight something, why would it produce 1,25 to suppress it? Well, it’s because when you get activated, it’s like you’re driving down a hill. You’re going much faster. You better have your foot on the brake when you need to, so that you don’t overrespond.
So the people with 25-hydroxy deficiencies didn’t have enough raw materials. And that high-powered rifle becomes a sub-machine gun. There’s no inhibition to the amount of activity once it’s turned on because there’s no foot on the brake. So suppressing macrophage activity in activated macrophages is a check and balance system. We need that. When you don’t have that, that’s a cytokine storm. Now, there may be other mechanisms also contributing to a cytokine storm, but I learned this back in 2005, and I have been adamant. People need to check their vitamin D levels every year. And the best time is in the early spring when you’re coming out of the dark winter, and you haven’t seen much sun to see what your level is.
Ari: And there was just literally, probably a week before we’re recording this. There was a study that came out specifically on vitamin D levels and risk of dying from COVID, showing that I think the difference—— They broke it down into three categories, vitamin D sufficiency inadequate levels versus insufficiency, a little bit below adequate, and then full-blown deficiency. And the difference between sufficiency and deficiency was like a 19-fold greater risk of dying from COVID-19.
Dr. O’Bryan: Do we need to say anything else to all of you out there? Get your vitamin D tested. Just check. And how do you do that? The easiest way’s a finger prick test. You order the test. They send it to you. You do the finger prick. You put your finger on the dot. When it dries, you close it. You put in the mail and send it back and check your kids. And the most comprehensive finger prick test looks at all three forms of vitamin D. So have your doctor order that for you. If they can’t, you can get on my website, thedr.com/vitaminDtest, but have your doctor do it if they can, but get your vitamin D tested—critically important.
Ari: Yeah. Beautiful and fascinating stuff about how vitamin D also it’s the accelerator pedal and the brake depending on the form. It’s just wonderful. The last thing is I just want to circle back to the tests. And if you just want to wrap up with the specific tests that—— I know there’s a huge variety of them, but if there’s sort of maybe a few tests that you’d recommend maybe universally, almost everyone—certainly vitamin D’s in that category—but any other tests that you think—— Just you recommend you get.
Dr. O’Bryan: Anyone that comes to me with any type of a health problem, the first thing we do is the wheat Zoomer because you zoom in on the problem and vitamin D. Those are the two that we do. And there’s one more, but I’ll talk about this one first. The wheat Zoomer also includes the most comprehensive markers for intestinal permeability. So not only are you checking for the leaky gut, but you’re also checking to see, do I have a problem with wheat and critically important? And I’ve had three normals come back in two-and-a-half, three years—three normals out of everyone. And it just drops people’s jaw, but it gives them then. And now, once again, this is with 97% to 99% sensitivity, 98% to 100% specificity, right on the money every time. It gives the validation, okay, I’ll try this.
So people then follow the recommendations for a period of time. My rule is, give me three weeks. Do what we say for three weeks. If you’re not noticing an improvement, we miss something. I don’t care what you’ve got. You should notice it. You’re on the right track. Not that everything’s fixed, but you’re on the right track within three weeks. So the wheat Zoomer, the vitamin D test, and the neural Zoomer plus. Now the neural Zoomer has the same accuracy and sensitivity as the wheat Zoomer. It’s the same technology. The Alzheimer’s Association came out last year and said that one in three elders in the US dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, one in three. Now, between you and I and you, the listener, one of the three of us is going down with Alzheimer’s or another dementia. That’s the statistics. And it’s a decades-long process of killing off brain cells, killing off brain cells, killing off brain cells.
You don’t feel it when it’s happening. So the neural Zoomer test came out in 2016, looking at 18 different markers of inflammation in the brain with the same type of accuracy that I was just talking about. It’s a great test. Well, my wife and I went on our honeymoon. Actually, right in the same place, we are now. We’re in voluntary quarantine in Costa Rica. We’re in the same house.
Ari: Where are you in Costa Rica?
Dr. O’Bryan: In the blue zone.
Dr. O’Bryan: In the in the Nicoya Peninsula—down at the South end of the Nicoya Peninsula.
Ari: Like Santa Teresa?
Dr. O’Bryan: Playa Blanca near——
Ari: You don’t even know where you are.
Dr. O’Bryan: I don’t. We’re with the monkeys. There are no towns around here.
Ari: There are monkeys and jungles.
Dr. O’Bryan: There’s a beach, and there’s monkeys, and there’s beautiful views, and we’ve got organic produce, and we’re happy. And we came here for our honeymoon in 2016 and for six weeks. And I can be anywhere if I have internet to work. And I read 93 research papers on the blood-brain barrier in six weeks—93 on my honeymoon. My wife, she always wanted to get dark. That was her goal. She’s Polish. She always wanted to be dark. So eight minutes and then the alarm goes off. She turns 10 degrees. Eight minutes and the alarm goes off. And she’s taking lots of nutrients to stop against any UV damage. I took care of all that.
And I’m reading these papers sitting by the infinity pool, looking at my beautiful wife and just grateful, saying there is a God. Thank you so much. Thank you. But I read 93 papers on the blood-brain barrier. So I called this laboratory, and I said, hey guys, your Neural Zoomer is great, but did you know this or this or this or this and that? And I sent them the papers. Eight months later, the Neural Zoomer Plus comes out. It looks at 46 markers of inflammation in the brain. So everyone that comes to me gets the wheat Zoomer, the Neural Zoomer Plus, and vitamin D. That’s our starting point. I don’t care what you’ve got because these are the things that will take you down. And then we look specifically after that.
Ari: Beautiful. Dr. Tom, this has been awesome. I love talking to you. I feel like I can talk to you for the next three hours and be very happy about it. And I really look forward to our next conversation. So for people who want to follow your work, for people who want to get those tests, where should they go to do?
Dr. O’Bryan: They can go to thedr.com to look for the test. I much prefer that you speak to your practitioner, that you go online and learn about these tests. And then you go to your practitioner. You’ll download some information. Go to my website if you want. Download information. Much more important that your practitioner learns about these tests. And some of them won’t order them because their hospital won’t order them. There’s politics and all that involved, or they’ll say, well, there’s no evidence that these are—— You might come up against that. In that case, you can go to thedr.com, the D-R.com. Don’t spell the word doctor out, thedr.com, and you’ll see the information there for those. You’re welcome to do that. I want everybody to have access to these tests to find out what’s going on for them.
And you want these kinds of tests to come back. My favorite patients are the ones that say I’ve been to Mayo, and they don’t know what’s wrong. And I say, that’s great. That’s really great. And they look at me like I’m a nutcase. I say that means you don’t have a disease because if you had a disease, Mayo Clinic would find it. You’ve got a dysfunction. Something’s not functioning right. So the tests we’re going to do are the tests looking at function. And they say, oh, okay, I guess that kind of makes sense. So they do the tests, and they come back, and everybody’s apprehensive for test results, including me. And we all wonder what’s going on in our bodies.
And so, they’re sitting there, and I look at the test, and I say good news. You’re a mess. Look at this. This is off. This is off. This is off. This will take six months. This will take three weeks. It’ll be better. This will take—— All of these are correctable. These are all lifestyle things that we can change so good news. This is what you want. You want to see all this stuff when you don’t know what’s going on. You want to see the functional problems that are going on because these can be fixed. And so, doing these types of functional tests gives you different information than looking at disease tests.
Ari: Yeah, absolutely. Dr. Tom, this has been amazing. You’re a wealth of knowledge. Thank you for sharing it with all of our listeners. I really appreciate it. And this was really just a lot of fun. Thank you so much. For everybody listening, thedr.com, theD-R.com, is where you can sign up to get more information from Dr. O’Bryan and get these tests. Thank you so much. I look forward to the next time.
The role of wheat and gluten in health and energy (0:52)
The importance of (and problems) with testing (10:58)
The framework of health (22:05)
How to boost your brain health (43:25)
Vitamin D (01:08:00)