What Thousands Of Functional Medicine Lab Tests Tell Us About The Most Common Causes Of Fatigue with Evan Brand

head_shot_ari
Content By: Ari Whitten & Evan Brand

In this episode, I am speaking with functional medicine practitioner, Evan Brand about the biggest causes of fatigue, especially mold.

Table of Contents

In this podcast, Evan and I discuss:

  • How easily mold can be overlooked as the cause of fatigue issues
  • Why mold is now such a problem of epidemic proportions when it never was in the past
  • The reason Dr Brand thinks that mold is the root cause of candida and numerous other problems
  • The smartest treatment approach to fixing mold issues – essential supplements
  • Removing mold from your home, clearing it from the air you breathe and improving air flow so it doesn’t return
  • How low stomach acid is at the heart of many health issues (and who should be worrying about this)
  • Why brain-training can be useful (vital even) but is rarely the answer on its own
  • How navigating the modern world means relearning how to live in the present moment, taking off your shoes and walking outside.

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Transcript

Ari: Hey, this is Ari. Welcome back to The Energy Blueprint Podcast. With me today is my friend Evan Brand, who is a certified functional medicine practitioner and nutritional therapist. He is passionate about healing the chronic fatigue, obesity, and depression epidemics, particularly after dealing with and solving his own IBS and depression issues. He uses at-home lab testing and customized supplement programs to find and fix the root cause of a wide range of health symptoms.

He is the author of stress solutions, REM rehab, and the everything guide to neurotropics. He offers 15-minute free functional medicine, phone consultations to discuss your health symptoms and goals at his site, evanbrand.com. With that said, I really enjoyed doing this podcast with him. There was a really nice flow and a back and forth that we had. There was also– we took a deep dive into some heavy functional medicine topics around mold and gut issues and things like that.

What goes into lab testing and protocols, and then as we wrapped into the tail end of the episode, we went in a really surprising direction that I particularly enjoyed personally. I think you will too. I hope you enjoy this episode with Evan Brand. Welcome to the show, Evan, such a pleasure to have you.

Evan: Ari, thanks for having me.

Ari: We just wrapped up an hour and a half conversation where–

Evan: Was it that long? It felt like 20 minutes.

The number 1 cause of fatigue

Ari: It was a good conversation. It was a lot of fun. You were interviewing me for your podcast, so we’re in a good flow right now. I feel like I know you and I got a lot of insight. Even as you were interviewing me and interjecting some of your commentary talking about working with thousands of patients, looking at thousands of blood tests and other kinds of testing results and evaluating the problems that are going on, and doing that detective work, that one on one detective work.

What are this person’s unique issues that we need to address and how can I put them on protocols to get this resolved? In-network of working with thousands of people, and I assume maybe at least hundreds, if not, maybe over a thousand people with chronic fatigue issues. What do you think are the biggest issues, biggest factors that are contributing to people’s chronic fatigue?

Evan: Number one’s mold. I just figured that out three years ago when I got sick with mold. If you would’ve asked me 3-plus years ago, 4, 5, 6, 7 years ago, I would’ve said it was some chemical gut mitochondrial type thing, but it was airy-fairy back then. It wasn’t super concrete. I would come in and I would give mitochondrial support. We would do CoQ10 and Ribos and carnitine and creatine and PQQ, and Ashwagandha and maybe we would throw in some liver support and some other adrenal support, and then people would get better.

Then, my protocols started to– I don’t want to say not work because they still work but then I was just getting this growing percentage of the population and the practice where they’re just like, “Evan, I’m doing everything you’re to telling me and I’m not getting better.” On paper, we would run the organic acids test, which we still run on everyone and we would look at their mitochondria and you can measure the metabolites on the urine.

The higher these markers go, whether it’s fumaric acid or malic acid, or succinic acid, the higher these numbers go, the more mitochondrial damage someone has or mitochondrial disfunction. For years, I was just giving these nutrients and then everyone was getting better on paper, but then they were obviously feeling better too. Then they leave me a five-star review. My energy is so much better, but then this elephant in the room was this group of people who they weren’t getting better.

I felt like a failure. I was, “Okay, well what do I do now?” Then I got sick. I had already dealt with gut issues for a decade, that was my bread and butter. I was the gut guy or the parasite guy. I’ve been on every parasite summit that exists in Lyme disease summit and all of that, and those are certainly huge, huge pieces of chronic fatigue, which must be investigated. Anybody that has not looked into getting a DNA stool sample run, getting a DNA urine for Lyme and co-infections, or possibly blood or antibody testing for Lyme, Bartonella, Babesia, [unintelligible 00:04:55], mycoplasma, Epstein-Barr.

Some of those things, you got to roll those in or out, but this other group of people, we had already ruled all that stuff out, and then I got exposed to mold. I was totally ignorant and I just thought, when you hear mold, you think it has to be something visible. It’s got to be nasty. It’s got to be growing on the wall. Otherwise, it’s not a problem and that wasn’t the case for me at all. We didn’t see any at all when we got exposed, it was just simply in the air and it was floating, and you’re an innocent bystander. Water damage buildings are epidemic.

I know where you are in Costa Rica with the high humidity level, I guarantee mold is an epidemic problem there. I’ve got a friend who lives down in Costa Rica and I know that he’s told me his place is open air. He doesn’t have any windows. It’s just totally open air and he told me he had to throw away several pairs of shoes since he moved to Costa Rica because his shoes got moldy.

I was like, “Dude, that’s crazy.” The mechanism of mold and why I think it’s the number one biggest smoking gun is because humans are inside 90%, 95%, if not 99% of their lives now versus back in the 1800s where my grandparents’ grandparents here in Kentucky, they were farmers. They were outside all day sun up to sundown, so even if they had a moldy old farmhouse, it didn’t matter for a few reasons. Number one, they’re outside all day, so they’re not breathing it in. Number two, they had less toxicity in their bucket overall because they weren’t exposed to chemicals.

They didn’t have vaccines, they didn’t have pesticides in the food and they had leaky homes. Meaning, there was airflow and the solution to pollution is dilution, so they had enough airflow coming in these leaky old farmhouse windows to dilute the mold that may have been growing, but also, they didn’t use drywall. They were using plaster and so they didn’t have paperback drywall, which is the perfect food for mold. We have this major confluence of factors all happening at the same time.

We’ve got people on one side saying that EMF is doing it because it’s the molds off and molds make micro toxins as a threat. Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt, he’s a medical doctor who treats a lot of Lyme and super sick people. I don’t know why somebody hasn’t done the study to just prove this yet because he keeps saying it and I keep regurgitating what he says, but nobody simply proved it yet. Which is that molds exposed to WiFi make 600% more micro toxins, I don’t know why you can’t just easily prove that.

Get a Petri dish with mold, put it next to a router and then put another one in a Faraday cage, away from a router, that seems easy to replicate. Anyway, so you’ve got paperback drywall, you at energy efficiency standards where houses are so damn tight, they don’t breathe anymore. You’ve got all these pesticides and herbicides and antibiotics and everyone is so toxic. That’s why I think mold is the biggest thing for chronic fatigue.

Ari: Interesting, so much to say on that. I’ll comment on the Costa Rica stuff first. My house is much open air, and it’s designed– it’s on the top of a small mountain. It’s designed actually in a special way by the architects to allow a huge amount of air to flow through the house at all times. Dilution effect is fortunately very good. There’s also very strong seasonality in where I live in Costa Rica. Six months of the year is very dry. Six months are very wet.

We’re just now at the end of rainy season. This six months of being extremely high humidity and everything gets mold in the house. It’s crazy mold gross on everything and you have to take very special– everything that was in our garage that’s just sitting there, anything with any kind of material that you think anything could possibly row on, if it’s sitting out, it will get moldy. We have to put it all the way into a closet with a dehumidifier for it not to get moldy.

We have to have a maid once a week come in the house and clean pillows and cushions because mold will just grow on the fabrics. Mold will grow on leather belts or shoes as your friend noted. It’ll grow everywhere. It’s definitely a problem. As long as you get the fresh air, it’s not too bad. I will also say about a year in– it was end of 2019, beginning of 2020 as COVID was starting up, I got the worst sickness that I’ve ever gotten in my life.

It was six weeks of, other than mono when I was in my mid-20s, but the worst respiratory illness where it was six weeks of extreme coughing and just full-on cough attacks and severe fatigue. I couldn’t work out for five or six weeks. Anytime I get a cold or a flu or something, it’s a few days, maybe seven days or something, it’s very mild. This was pretty severe fatigue and pretty debilitated. Then about a month or six weeks into it, we did go into my closet in my bedroom, six feet away from where I was sleeping and my wife was going through the clothes spreading out some of the clothes and she sees an entire wall covered in mold.

It happened from water leaking from the other side of that wall, from the bathroom into that wall, and creating all of that mold. I still don’t know if that illness that I experienced was COVID and it was exacerbated because of the simultaneous mold exposure or if it was, at the time, this was before COVID was even getting any notoriety. I was thinking it’s got to be whooping cough or something. I’ve never had something like this, such an intense respiratory infection. Anyway, mold is no joke. For sure, it rammed down my immune system for many months and my energy levels for many months after that exposure.

Evan: Oh, man. That’s a couple of the mechanisms of why it would create a chronic fatigue situation. Number one, damages Mitochondria. Number two, weakens your immunity. Then you get opportunistic bacterial overgrowth, you get candida overgrowth. That was another thing too. I did a whole summit years ago just on candida, but then I realized I was wrong in the sense that I didn’t go upstream enough.

I was thinking candida was this big root cause for brain fog and sugar cravings and bloating. Here we were targeting candida using antifungals and other antimicrobial herbs that were blended together. I’ve got some custom blends of formula related for candida problems. Then all of a sudden, same thing, I would knock the candida out. Then two to three months later, the people would come back and say, “Hey, I’ve got candida again.”

We’d retest their urine. We look for a marker called [unintelligible 00:11:53], which is the gas candida to produces or we’d look at tartaric acid, and then, sure enough, they’ve got candida again. I’m like, “What are you doing?” They’re like, I promise I’m not eating a bunch of sugar. I don’t have any real explanation of why this is happening and I was missing it. It was mold.

Now I know that if candida someone has battled that, or if they’ve taken diflucan or fluconazole, or econazole, these standard conventional medications for candida, or women that have recurring vaginal yeast infections and they can’t beat it, I’m not going to say 99 out of a 100, but I’m going to say 98 out of a 100 times, there’s mold.

Ari: Yes. Very interesting. I was not expecting you to say mold as the most common thing, but we also need to couch this in the context that you’re typically dealing with severe fatigue, not more mild, more common, moderate states of fatigue that are going to result from the stress of life, sleep deprivations, circadian, rhythm, disruption, or diet, drinking too much, all this stuff that’s pretty ubiquitous. You’re talking about extreme states of fatigue and you feel the most common factor is mold in what you’re seeing.

Evan: I’d say I see all of it, to be honest. I see teenagers that don’t have enough energy to get through soccer practice anymore. I think we were seeing it on your show or my show. I’m getting mixed up on toxins. We were talking about young kids with toxicity. I’ll see five year old’s where they’re literally falling asleep in school, and the teachers are telling the parents that the children can’t stay awake. They’re literally passing out on their desk every day.

Are you keeping this kid up too late? These are children that are getting in trouble at home because they can’t stay awake in school. I see it all, to be honest. I work with quite a few athletes, some UFC fighters that are just too tired and they can’t recover from their training. Then you get into the more severe cases where it’s people that are literally like bedridden, or they simply just barely have enough energy to get through their job. They’re like, I’m feeling as a parent because I barely have enough energy to do my work, but I got to do my work to pay my bills. What can I do to get more energy?

Honestly, I probably see it everywhere on that energy fatigue spectrum. Sometimes it is super simple. Like it’s just, they needed some nutrients. We’ll send them off and tell them to get a few IV-vitamin Cs, and some glutathione, and some ANAC and they’re fine. Then other cases it’s like, no, you’ve got blasto, you’ve got Giardia and crypto, you’ve got three different parasites. You’ve got fungal problems. Like you said, you had a water leak and there was a mold in the house, and now we’ve got to remediate the house just to get you better. Sometimes it’s like one silver bullet, but usually, it’s a combination of factors.

How to approach and overcome mold toxicity

Ari: Very interesting. Let’s say someone’s got mold and having just gone through this myself, I went on a protocol, but I’m curious what, what your protocol looks like. I know there’s a few different schools have thought around this. I’m forgetting the guy’s name. Was it something Shoemaker? Dr. Shoemaker, and then there’s Dr. Neil Nathan who wrote the book Toxic. I’m sure you’re familiar with, and I know that they have another school of thought on some things, but what’s your thought as far as treatment protocols, what’s the best approach?

Evan: Yes. Good question. It depends on what you’re up against. Neil’s awesome. His book’s great. Talks about Lyme a lot too. I interviewed him. We talked about his approach to mold and how it differs from Shoemaker. Shoemaker’s super conventional. He’s going to go for cholestyramine, which is an off-label cholesterol drug. It’s basically a bile acid sequestrant, meaning it grabs onto your bile.

A lot of mold and other toxins too. This is the cool thing. You know how people freak out about flame retardants and they freak about non-stick chemicals, like the PFOAs and that stuff that’s in, non-stick cookware. One of the only molecules on planet earth that gets those chemicals out of the body is guess what? Cholestyramine, which is pretty nuts. There’s this internal hepatic pathway. Meaning that the body’s lazy.

Naturally, we’re lazy, meaning that we don’t want to make new bile if we don’t have to. 95% give or take of our bile is recirculated through this pathway, and then 5% is fresh bile made from the liver and then stored and concentrated in the gallbladder. What the cholestyramine will do is it will bind to the bile, and then you’ll poop it out. It’s pretty interesting. You’ll have some interesting-looking poops when you get started with cholestyramine.

I was miserable enough at my worst to take cholestyramine for a couple of months. What I’ve done at long term or what I’ve done it again, probably not because what Shoemaker and some of these other people don’t talk about is cholestyramine actually damages mitochondria. I don’t know the exact mechanism of this, but if you look into cholestyramine mitochondria, the link is there. I think I made myself more tired, but then I made myself less toxic.

Number one, you got to fix the source. If you’ve got mold, you’ve got to cut it out and replace it with new materials, whether it’s drywall installation, whatever. You’ve got to fix that. Then I have a whole line of products that I sell called Oasis. I have it right here on my desk. It’s called Oasis Daily. It’s a candle that we burn. It’s literally seed oil. We use grapefruit, lemon, Lyme, and Tangerine, and you burn it and it denatures mold, but also candida, side tangent. If you have someone with a big candida problem, they off-gas it into the air and pets often carry candida as well because mainstream pet food is crap.

A lot of pets have candida and they’re off-gassing candida spores into the air. What happens is you breathe in the candida, it colonizes your sinus cavity, it drips into your gut, and recolonizes your gut. Many people that have major candida problems, it’s because they’re breathing in so much candida in their home. We use something like the Oasis Candles, or we have a mister or even a fog machine, which is more hardcore.

We’ll fog someone’s house to kill and denature not only candida but mold. Otherwise, they just keep getting reinfected and they never get better. Then they have to stay on antifungals and binders forever. That’s the missing part that most of the medical docs don’t talk about is you got to fix the environment fully, or you can’t get better. They’ll talk about ERMI scores and that stuff, but just ongoing maintenance, people think of like mold remediation as like one and done.

It’s really more of like an ongoing thing, like monitoring and keeping humidity under control and less like you, you’ve got tons of airflow. If you’ve got enough airflow, it’s not a problem, but if your house is tight like most American houses, you’ve got to have either ERVs, which are fresh air systems, which pump in the fresh air. That’s what I have. Right by my master vanity in my bathroom, I literally can press a button and I can go low, medium, or high, and I can determine how fresh air I want to pump in, so it’s pretty cool.

Then that’s combined with whole-house dehumidifiers. If it gets above 40% in the home, they kick on, they suck the water out, and pump it out through a tube outside the house. Once you get that stuff dialed in, in general, you don’t have to think about it or worry about it, but if you don’t get that part right, you won’t get better and you can take all the charcoal in the world.

On the detox-front, cholestyramine is great, but like I said, you got the mitochondrial damage component. Of course, with your expertise, you don’t want any mitochondrial toxins or damage. I would say if you can, if you’re not at the bottom of the barrel clinging for life, meaning you’re healthy enough to do other things, do other things like natural binders. There are some plant sterols that you can use that mimic cholestyramine.

There’s some natural cholestyramine out there, which replicate the same mechanism of binding to the bile, and then you can combine that with things like silica and pectin and folic and humic acids, micronized chlorella, which can get across the blood-brain barrier. There’s certain clays and then, of course, charcoal is one of the main remedies. When you stack all these together, then you can really get people better relatively quick. When I say relatively quick, I would say six months to three years, depending on how sick they were, it took me almost three years and I feel I’m pretty good at what I do. It took me almost three years to get myself better and clean, meaning to where my urine test doesn’t really show mycotoxins anymore. The weird thing is, if I were to do a urine test right now, I still might pee out mycotoxins. These things are hard. I don’t know– me personally, if I can ever fully get to zero because apparently, I have a genetic issue like estimated 25% of the population does, where it’s called HLA-DR. Now I have not tested it, but I’m sure I have this issue. There’s a genetic defect where certain people’s bodies don’t recognize mold.

Therefore, it can’t create a detox response. A cool mold inspector remediator that I worked with, I tested his urine, this guy is in moldy houses 24/7 and he had zero detectable levels of mycotoxins. How is this possible? He wasn’t even taking any detox supplements. He just genetically gifted to where he could be exposed. I know this is a little bit of a tangent, but this is why so many relationships fail because in the health world, a lot of times it’s the man who thinks the wife is crazy because she’s sick, symptomatic. He thinks she’s just depressed or anxious or fatigued and it’s emotional.

Really, it’s because she genetically can’t detox all the stuff that’s in their home, so the scented laundry detergent, the chemicals in the water supply, the mold toxins. She is the canary in the coal mine and he thinks she’s crazy so then they fight and get a divorce. I’ve saved countless marriages just simply by detoxing the home and educating stubborn spouses that, “Hey, this is real. They’re not crazy.”

Ari: Nice. Health coach and functional medicine practitioner and relationship counselor. Relationship saver all in one.

Evan: How many times have you go to your marriage counselor and they say, “Hey, have you checked your house for mold?” Or how many times you go to your psychiatrist and they say, “Hey, have you ever considered its mold?” Zero.

Ari: Well, actually, I’ve done a PhD program in clinical psychology and one of the things that was mind-blowing going through that is you don’t take a single course on anything related to nutrition or lifestyle. You’re talking about all these different psychological psychiatric conditions, different forms of mental illness. There’s lots and lots of research that exists on the nutrition and lifestyle links to those things. For example, how eating well or eating poorly relates to depression, or anxiety, or sleeping, and circadian rhythm habits relate to different mental illness, bipolar disorder, for example.

Your training clinical psychiatrists deal with those problems without giving them any education on any of the research related to nutrition lifestyle. It seems to be a pervasive problem across the board with that.

Evan: Well, look at some of the research they did on the prison inmates, where they started to give Omega-3s, just simple fish oil, and the reduction in violence and the prison went down significantly. The mental health of the inmates improved so much just by adding a simple nutrient of fatty acid. There’s so much out there that we could do such like– Simple in most cases extremely cheap nutrients that could totally transform the mental health. How about just stabilizing blood sugar? How many people are having panic attacks because of hypoglycemia?

If they could just simply stabilize their blood sugar, they would feel so much better. That was me when I was at my worst and I had major blood sugar problems, I was eating every two to three hours and if I didn’t, then I was shaky irritable. Now, I could go five, six, seven hours, and I feel great. I think that’s the hard part about this is half of my job is just trying to educate people on where their issues are actually coming from. They’ve been told by conventional mainstream professionals that the anxiety is because of their stress and because of their upbringing and all that. It totally could be.

How about because you ate a gluten-free bagel for breakfast and your blood sugar has crashed because you have zero protein and zero good fats to stabilize yourself and that’s why you’re having anxiety in the boardroom at 11:00 AM.

Ari: Absolutely. Beyond mold, what other issues do you think are the most common contributors to fatigue problems?

Evan: I’d say number two would be the gut. I think of the gut is just this place where the magic should happen, but it rarely happens. When I say magic, I mean the optimal absorption and assimilation of nutrients to help fuel the mitochondria. One of the main mechanisms in the mitochondria is called the Krebs cycle. This is where you can manufacture ATP. If you look at a picture of the Krebs cycle, there’s a lot of different nutrients that plug into that cycle. You have carnitine, you have B vitamins, and other nutrients. The problem is many people over 50% of the population has infections like H. pylori and this is a bacterial infection.

The mechanism is it damages your parietal cells. P like Paul, parietal cells. Those are the cells that secrete stomach acid. We know with the great work of Dr. Jonathan Wright, he wrote a great book called Why Stomach Acid is Good for You. He did what’s called a Heidelberg test where you put a computer chip capsule into people’s tummies. He found that after age 20, just like everything else, unfortunately, your hormone levels drop, but so does HDL levels. By the time you’re 40, you’re making maybe half of the stomach acid you made when you’re 20.

Now, you may be listening, what the heck does stomach acid have to do with fatigue? Hang in there, we’re going to get there because the mechanism is– Now, all the sudden, you’re eating this grass-fed steak or whatever this avocado if your plant-based and you want good fast. You’re eating that and hopefully, you’re going to take this grass-fed steak and you’re going to convert that, and you’re going to cleave off all these proteins and amino acids and B vitamins. Then you’re going to optimally produce hormones and neurotransmitters and fuel that Krebs cycle to generate ATP.

The problem is, number one if it’s simply age, your 40, 50, 60 beyond, you’re already at a disadvantage. That digestive fire is only burning at 50% capacity. Now you combine that and stack that with– Let’s say you didn’t chew your food enough, you did a scroll in bowl, which I call where you’re scrolling on your phone while you’re at Chipotle eating your burrito bowl with your carnitas in your rice, your scrolling, and bowling. That’s what I call it. Now, you’re distracting your body from digesting because you’re stressed out about the latest news story you’re reading on your smartphone while you’re eating.

Then you combine it with that infection and that infection turned down. You’re already low due to stress and Ag HCL to almost nothing. Now you’ve got this fermentation and future frication of all these nutrients and instead of optimally digesting and fueling the cycle. It’s not happening. All that chaos we describe, that’s only one infection. It’s very rare for me to find just one infection. Most of the time, we’re finding H. pylori but as a side effect of lowering the stomach acid because of this environment that has a higher pH. Basic just for people in case they forgot about this.

The lower the number, the more acidic. Give or take, you want your stomach pH around 1.5 to maybe 2. That’s so acidic that if you could just pour that stomach acid on your shoe, it would melt your shoe. That’s how acidic it’s supposed to be. We live in a society where due to infections or medications like proton pump inhibitors, which are a best-selling drug that now you can just get over the counter just like candy. Go by your [unintelligible 00:27:52], go by your Prilosec or Zantac because of your heartburn, which guess what? H. pylori causes heartburn. You have this infection that lowers your stomach acid.

Now you go get the heartburn medication at the pharmacy. You lower your stomach acid even more. Now, you’ve just made your stomach much more alkaline, which is not a place that you want alkalinity, is in the stomach. Now all these other bacteria like prevotella, which triggers rheumatoid arthritis starts to grow, or klebsiella which is a bacteria that triggers Hashimoto’s or ankylosing spondylitis and possibly other autoimmune diseases. Now those bacteria begin to thrive. Then now candida is like, “No, this is a nice place. I’m going to move into.”

Now you’ve got this whole slew of infections and not only are they disrupting your gut barrier, creating leaky gut. Now, opening up the bloodstream to these undigested proteins, which then triggers the immune system to attack the joints in the case of RA or attack the thyroid in the case of Hashimoto’s. Now, these infections are robbing you of your nutrients. Then when you test these people, they have no vitamin C, they’ve got no B vitamins, they’ve got low neurotransmitters, they’ve got mitochondrial damage, low dopamine, low serotonin. We wonder why everybody is crazy and exhausted.

Ari: Most definitely.

Evan: You can measure this. I think that’s the most empowering message of all this is that a lot of it sounds scary and maybe overwhelming like how am I supposed to tease all this stuff apart? Well, you just have to get a plan in place. You’ve got to try to layout your big smoking gun and so maybe it’s not mold. Maybe you’re lucky and you don’t have that. For me, it was a big smoking gun. The H. pylori was a big smoking gun for me. Unfortunately, I’ve had a lot of tick bites too. Some of the tick-borne issues I’m still battling.

I think mentally, you’ve just got to come to terms with no one is going to save you and so, you’ve got to just plow through, I guess. I’m just stubborn, I guess. There’s many times where I wanted to give up, but I never have.

Is psychological stress the biggest cause of illness?

Ari: One of the things we were chatting about in the last hour prior to us starting this podcast was brain-based stuff. I gave my thoughts on that but I’d like to give you the opportunity now to talk about the role that you perceive in your clinical experience of working with so many people of what you’ve seen as far as people’s mind states and psychology, and what’s going on in their brain and how that is relating to their illness.

There are some people, peers, and friends of ours who would argue that psychological stress and the way we use our minds is the biggest factor in illness. You obviously don’t subscribe to that neither do I, but it is true for a subset of people. What’s your take on that and what do you think? What do you do as far as working with patients who are struggling with that?

Evan: I love the idea like Tony Robbins he’ll say energy is motion. Forget it, I’m going to butcher it, but it’s something about you got to put your mind towards energy to create energy like the first step is to think energy and to move and things like that. Then automatically, you have this spontaneous generation of energy. Almost like you could make it up out of thin air, or this law of attraction that you and I spoke a little bit about, or this idea that you can manifest energy. I’m just going to sit here and meditate and I’m going to think about how good it feels to be energetic. I’m totally cool with that but I just feel bad for the people that they go all-in on that.

I had a client a couple weeks ago. He says, “Hey, I went and did this brain retraining program because it’s been sold and marketed to all the people with chronic fatigue. I went through this chronic fatigue program. I did it for six months diligently. They tell you to practice this thing for hours.” This guy literally was taking time off work, reducing his income, and just to do these brain retraining steps that he was so confident that it was going to retrain his brain and get him out of chronic fatigue and guess what? It didn’t work.

You made the great point that certain people maybe that’s it, maybe their brain was their biggest problem and so for a subset of the people who do stuff like that, they will pull out of it. For this guy and I’d say for the vast majority of I’ve seen, obviously, I’m biased because they’re reaching out to me because they need help. Maybe my answer is a little different. I’d say for the vast majority of people, the brain is only one piece of the puzzle and there’s no way, I just got to say it bluntly, you could meditate all fricking day.

It’s not going to get these mycotoxins out, it’s not going to get these pesticides out, it’s not going to repair your mitochondria. Maybe somebody will look back and they’ll use this clip of me and make fun of me and say, “Look at this. This guy, he’s tried to say that the mind couldn’t regenerate mitochondria. We proved this guy meditated and he doubled his mitochondria just with his thoughts alone.”

Maybe that will be the case and I’ll be like, “God I was so dumb and naive, I was so overconfident in the fact that you have to detox. How dumb was I to think that the brain couldn’t do this, I apologize.” I’ll apologize to my future self. Maybe one day we’re going to find that the mind is all you need to detox but for now, I’m focused much more on granular things, concrete things that I know work and that I can test and prove and get a consistent outcome every time, which is if we see mitochondrial damage and we see someone with chronic fatigue, yes, we’ll implement some of the brain strategies, but I’m also going to implement some of the binders mixed with mitochondrial nutrients.

Then we’re going to retest and we’re going to say on paper, “Hey, we just took the mitochondria and now they look healthy and also we’re not seeing any visible toxin exposure anymore. We got all the toxins out and guess what? Their energy levels doubled.” I don’t want to [unintelligible 00:33:58] because I personally do brain retraining. It has helped me for chemical sensitivity that happened after I got exposed to mold. I’m a huge proponent. I have meditations on my phone. I put my phone on airplane mode at night and I do these guided meditations. Whether it’s abundance or compassion or gratitude, I totally do it. Would I depend on that as just a singular therapy? No way.

The best approach to overcome fatigue

Ari: Well said. You mentioned infections and obviously, there’s gut-related infections but you’ve also mentioned certain Lyme disease-related infections and I assume you also deal with certain viruses [unintelligible 00:34:40] or cytomegalovirus and probably others. I know there is a lot of controversy around testing for these different viruses and what can legitimately diagnose a chronic infection with one of these viruses and there’s several different tests available.

I also want to say that I’ve seen many people go down a route where they’re diagnosed, they’re convinced that their chronic fatigue is coming from one or another specific chronic infection. They’ve seen practitioners who have either run tests that says they have it, sometimes they’ve seen practitioners that say they don’t have it and they’ve done protocols.

In some cases, I’ve seen people do multiple protocols over the course of years designed to combat these specific viruses with virtually no success. I’m curious if you can speak to all of that. What role you think chronic infections are playing in chronic fatigue? Do you think that they’re at the root cause or they’re more peripheral and [inaudible 00:35:55] come in opportunistically but other root causes really need to be addressed. How would you explain the cases that I was just describing someone doing these protocols for many years and not really getting results?

Evan: Totally. I’ve had people come to me and say that they were diagnosed with Lyme and they pursued it for five years and they spent $20,000 in supplements and they’re no better off and I test them and guess what? They don’t have Lyme. I’ve seen people that were told they have adrenal fatigue and they pursue adrenal fatigue for five years with the adrenal guy and they get no better. Then I’ve had people go to the thyroid guy for five years because they were told it was all thyroid and it was Hashimoto’s and they get no better and they never address the other thing. It’s a huge problem.

That’s why I try to look at myself as a specialist in the sense that I look for root causes but I’m extremely generalist and extremely practical at the end of the day. Meaning, I’m never going to go all-in on one thing and say it’s all thyroid because if you have Hashimoto’s, you could give every nutrient you want for the thyroid. If you don’t get rid of the klebsiella that triggered it or the other toxin that triggered this autoimmune attack, you could take every thyroid supplement in the category and never get better.

It’s a huge problem and it’s just not as sexy. You and I talked a little bit bit about it on our previous recording together which it’s not as sexy to say, “Hey, to fix this issue, not only do you have to remediate your home, go to unscented laundry detergent, get rid of your fragrances, get rid of Wi-Fi, throw away your Apple Watch and AirPods or EMF protection. Fix these gut infections, take extra hydrochloric acid, treat your H. pylori, kill these parasites, break up with your spouse because they’re too toxic for you, and you got to change your job and you got to move.

Ari: That’s it?

Evan: That’s it.

Ari: Easy-peasy.

Evan: That’s a harder pill to swallow. I think what that does is that lead to a subset of practitioners that they just want to focus on their stick because maybe that’s what they’re good at or maybe they had the most training on that. I guess I was fortunate in my suffering because I wasn’t able to fix my issues with just fixing my gut. The gut was just one piece. I try to look at it in a positive light. Meaning that my suffering led me down so many other rabbit holes because there’s very, very few courses out there that fully teach you everything you need to know about mitochondria, everything you need to know about sleep, the gut toxins, and everything so I just had to learn.

I learned the most probably by trial and error on myself but also working with clients because a lot of the stuff I do, there’s no book or course to even teach it. It’s just like I had to piece it together because I was desperate. I think desperation creates creativity and maybe solutions. Whereas other people it’s an easier living to just diagnose everybody with Lyme and just treat it. That’s the first answer to that question and then the other part of the question was how does that factor in? You were asking is Lyme a subset or you mentioned something along the lines of, does it come along with or like is it an adjunct to some of these other issues?

The answer is totally. What I find with Lyme and what are called co-infections which could be Babesia which is an intercellular parasite or Bartonella which can come from mosquitoes or fleas or ticks which is extremely common by the way. These things in children cause what’s called PANS, Pediatric Acute Neuropsychiatric Syndrome, or if it’s with strep it’s PAN does. The AS means associated with strep at the end of the PANS and so these things I mean they’ll rip your children away from you. It’s quite terrible . I have a lot of experience with that and these infections in the children could be the single big smoking gun.

Something as simple as strep which could manifest as perianal strep, which is like a red ring around the children’s anus. They could literally just have perianal strep and not have strep throat and they could have massive neurological problems; sensory issues, autism spectrum, like behavior, sound issues, issues with their clothing, that kind of stuff but in adults, I find that it’s not as clear cut. There’s not one thing. It’s rarely just Lyme. I’m finding that mold, believe it or not, is actually allowing people with Lyme to stay sick and the people that spent $20,000 with people that we both know, but will remain unnamed for now.

Those people didn’t go deep enough. They found a root cause, but they didn’t find the root cause that allowed the other root cause to thrive. Meaning, if they simply get rid of the mold, a lot of times the immune system can come back online enough to handle the Lyme on its own without specific treatment, which is pretty cool because here they are hitting all these different protocols and herbs for Lyme. Then we fix these Lyme, they call them Lymes, I don’t like that term, but we’ll fix the Lymes by just getting rid of the mold. It’s like, we never treated the mold, but they got better from Lyme so that’s cool.

Ari: Yes, very interesting. We’ve talked about mold, we’ve talked about gut issues, we’ve talked about chronic infections. What do you feel are maybe one or two are the other big factors that you commonly address, working with people with fatigue?

Evan: I think it’s just apathy for the way the world has become. Whether we want to admit it or not, us as humans are living completely different lives than what we are supposed to be living and even people like you and I who are entrepreneurs, who are able to have generally more freedom than your average person, you and I are still living lives. I don’t want to speak for you, but I’m going to assume completely different than what our ancestors would’ve been doing 5, 10, 20, 50 million years ago in the sense that coming across others, outside of our tribe, would’ve been very rare.

People get labeled as introverted, but we were always introverted as a society because we were with our tribe and that was it. If we encountered another tribe, maybe we fought or maybe we got along and that was about it. Now you go to the store or the market, and you may encounter a thousand strangers and your nervous system is primed to assume that this is not my tribe.

I just think inherently, our society is just so crazy and so different than what our DNA expects. I think that just creates this subconscious or maybe conscious like apathy for the way of life. I think about how can I opt out of that, but ultimately, I have to play the game. I have to be part of the system, just like everybody else. I have more obvious– like I can change my schedule at any time. If I don’t want to work these hours, I change my hours. I have some things, but at the end of the day, I’m still participating in the same system as everyone else in the rat race. I think ultimately, one of our biggest problems is that it’s the rat race.

Think of that famous rock song from when I was a kid, despite all my rage, I’m still just a rat in a cage. I think ultimately, you have to just come to terms with that and you have to find your way to please that human DNA. What I mean by that is music. We love music in our house. We’re always playing Bob Marley or other reggae music or jazz music or classical music. We’re always trying to sing with our kids.

We’re doing the things that– there was an old ancient proverb that went something like, this was in regards to depression and just misery and I don’t know if it was a shaman or who it was, but the question in the proverb was when you’re investigating depression, when did you stop dancing? When did you stop singing? When did you stop loving? Something along those lines and it always gives me goosebumps to think about that because when you’re a kid, you have an all figured out. I know you’re a father of young children too so you see this in your kids.

Kids have it figured out. Adults, they know as much and what I mean by that is kids can live in the moment. They can forgive quickly. They can forgive easily. They typically don’t hold grudges. They’re able to dance with music easily, sing with music, hum with music. My daughters will just hum. No matter what it is, they’re humming along to the song, they’re living in the moment, they’re looking at the sky. “Daddy, what’s that? Daddy, what’s that?”

Then as an adult, you have to put these blinders on to participate in society. Creativity and that type of thing is not really encouraged because you got to work. Productivity. Productivity. I could rant on this all day, but the long story short of it is, people that are unhappy and they’re fatigued because they’re unhappy with the way of life that they have to do just to get by.

Whether it’s hunting which I love. That’s when I’m out in the woods– like I took my daughter out this weekend, my five-year-old, we were sitting out in the blind together and we had a doe come in, and she had two phones with her and she’s like, “Daddy, shoot her. Shoot one.” I’m like, “I can’t, honey. They’re just–” I don’t want to shoot the mom. I could have. The babies would’ve been totally self-sufficient, but just that moment of seeing the glow in my daughter’s eyes, seeing her pupils get bigger, seeing her watch these deer at a distance of 15 to 20 feet outside of us, out of our blind, it was like I saw the human switch turn on.

I was like, “This is the human experience.” This is what life’s about, as opposed to you go to a restaurant in America, the kids have headphones and an iPad in their face the whole time at the table. I think, ultimately, a lot of the fatigue is coming from the misery because we’re going along with this life of what we’re told is progress, but it is not progress at all and the simple strategies of doing what humans evolve to do, hunt, sleep, have sex, listen to music, dance, play. Those are all of the things that are mostly free on this planet, which will provide the most joy and zest for life.

The best strategy to live life to the fullest

Ari: I love that. I love where you went with that, particularly as I was expecting you to talk about some other thing that requires a whole bunch of fancy functional medicine, fancy and expensive functional medicine tests, and then very involved protocols to deal with it. I love that you went the direction you did. This is too tough of a question to answer, but I just want to go a little bit deeper into what you were just talking about. What do you think is the answer to that?

What do you think we need to do and not that you’re going to solve all the world’s problems, but if you’re, let’s say I have my kids who are strapped to screens 24/7 and who are– I’m on social media and totally distracted from my life and in the rat race and I’m suffering the consequences of that. What do you think are a few of the key steps, practical steps that you would advise me to do to move more towards the vision you’re talking about there?

Evan: Yes, on the extreme side, the typical hippie answer is like create a permaculture community. It’s off the grid, everybody’s mostly naked and barefoot in the sunshine and you’re living off the land and you’re hunting and gathering berries. You could go to that level or like you said, the more practical side that that’s going to be attainable, which is trying to find ways to live into the moment.

I tell you, and I’m not saying everyone needs to be a hunter and maybe people are against hunting, even though that’s what allowed humans to thrive. We evolved primarily by hunting and a lot of these studies that archeologists are doing, they did find though that recently that there is evidence of humans as scavengers. There are evidence of wooly mammoth bones that were not only eaten and broken by what they’re assuming were saber tooth tigers, but that there were also marks where our ancient ancestors were digging out the bone marrow of bones that were already somewhat eaten by other animals.

This idea that humans were not only just killers, but that we were also scavengers from these big fights of the Sabretooth tiger in the [unintelligible 00:49:06] bear. Maybe we had many times where we subsisted primarily from scavenging and not hunting if we were not successful hunters, but either way, finding a way to get into what nature is like my thing. That’s why right here on my desk, I’ve got a pair of binoculars, and I’ve got tons of directions to look.

I could look very far in that direction and that direction and that direction. I’ve got a starship, as in, I have like six giant windows right behind my computer here, which is why I have so much natural light, which is great for the circadian rhythm but also because I get to watch stuff all day. In one day of working with clinical people, I could be watching great blue herons, bald Eagles, and ospreys, and kingfishers, and Eastern Bluebird, and deer. There was a buck that popped right out of this field of grass and right at the edge of the woods here. A buck just wandered out into the field the other day and like, oh, it just totally changed the trajectory of my day. Even if it’s just bird watching, finding a way to get into with nature, you completely forget about bills and social media and the latest mandate and whatever. You don’t care. I think that’s number one. I think number two is to hug people more. I’m a hugger. I rarely beat a stranger. I’ll just try to hug my wife as long as she’ll let me. If I can hug her for 30 seconds, we’re going for a 30 second hug. That’s awesome.

People that are going to go, “Oh, this guy’s like losing me. He sounded smart. Now, he is turning into a hippie.” Well, there’s studies on this because you can see rises in oxytocin from embracing people and skin-to-skin contact. There’s a reason that for newborn skin-to-skin contact is so important, but also increases in heart rate variability. I strapped a Bluetooth heart rate monitor onto myself before, and I hug my wife and I watched my heart rate variability increase indicating that my nervous system was shifting from sympathetic into parasympathetic.

It’s not crazy to suggest these things even from a scientific perspective, if you have to have that analytical brain and you need the data, the data’s there. Hugging, nature, obviously, I love being barefoot in the grass. In Texas, it was terrible though because there were so many thorny plants. Every time I tried to go barefoot, I would end up with like this crazy thorn ball in my foot, but in Kentucky, luckily, we don’t have much of that, so I can go barefoot in the grass with no problem. I would also say, honestly, just watching the sun. Why were the Egyptians so obsessed with the sun?

Why were they so obsessed that they even create a sundial? For me on a cloudy day, I’m not as happy as a sunny day. I’ll just sit and just let the sun hit me. In terms of like nitric oxide, production and blood flow, and supporting circulation, obviously, there is a ton of benefits there. I’m sure there’s a link between sunlight and mitochondria. There’s gotta be some benefit there because I’m much more energetic and perky when I’ve had plenty of bare skin exposure, as opposed to cloudy days. I just don’t feel like I’m firing as much.

Ari: The red and near-end thread light part of the spectrum from sunlight goes in directly into mitochondria where they interact with [unintelligible 00:52:28], they stimulate ATP production. There’s also a hormetic aspect to it and there’s an aspect of what’s called retrograde signaling where the mitochondria detect the presence of those red and urine thread, light photons, and signal back the nucleus of itself to change the expression of certain genes particularly switching off NF CAPA B involved in suppressing, which ultimately translates into decreased levels of inflammation.

There’s also the [unintelligible 00:53:02] probably most significantly from [unintelligible 00:53:04] light, switching on genes involved in growth and regeneration. For example, in the brain nerve growth factor and brain-derived, neurotrophic factor, IGF-1, muscles, and stimulating collagen production, there’s also a mood-boosting effect from improving serotonin and several other effects, but yes, sunlight is definitely highly beneficial and linked directly with mitochondria.

Evan: Awesome. Great scientific insight. If you tell the hunter-gatherer, I doubt they’re going to say, “Duh.” humans are supposed to be outside. There was no inside people that are not outdoors people. It’s like, what do you mean? There used to be no alternative besides a cave and you weren’t going to live in there. You got to get out and get fresh air and sunlight. That’s awesome.

Ari: Awesome, man. Well, I love this. I love the direction you took it at the end there and unexpected twist to the story. I love that message. I want to end on that note because it’s so good. Can you tell people where they can get in touch with you and work with you or wherever you’d like to direct them? The floor is yours.

Evan: Sure. I appreciate the opportunity. As you mentioned, in regards to testing and all that, I still do a workup on everybody. I can’t just prescribe sunlight and grounding and for everyone’s problems, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. I think there is still a place to try to get data because if you’re not testing, you’re guessing ultimately now there are some foundational pieces you can put in everybody’s protocol and most people will do better with those.

Most people that come to me, they’ve already been to 5, 10, 15, sometimes 20 practitioners, doctors, naturopaths, functional medicine people, Chinese medicine people, acupuncturists. They’ve already been through the ringer. Now they’re like, “I’m freaking sick of this. Please help me.” Then that’s where we use the testing to really help narrow things down, but could you just give people generic protocols and get them better? Yes, you can get a lot of people better with no testing, and sometimes due to budget, I do.

I have to guess and check and sometimes the results are absolutely incredible doing that, so that’s that. On the podcast, I’ve been doing that every week since 2012. Be coming up on 10 years pretty soon, which is cool. It’s just called the Evan Brand Show. It’s got over 15 million downloads. I put it out every week. You’ll be a guest on there. We’ve already got you for part two. That’d be a cool episode to check out. I’ve covered everything from EMF to COVID, to the war on ivermectin, to many other things that could get you deleted or banned, or censored in other places.

That’s all on the podcast, which you can get everywhere, just the Evan Brand Show and then same for the website. It’s just evanbrand.com and that’s where I have another functional medicine practitioner on staff. She works with me, so we tag team clients and we work around the world. I just refreshed my website. We have a picture of a donkey on there on the home page because we literally had supplements delivered to a client in Ecuador via a donkey. The last-mile delivery was a donkey. I’m really honored and blessed. I really love the opportunity to help people in literally every nook and cranny of the globe, where most of this type of information is just completely nonexistent and mostly unavailable.

Ari: Awesome man. Well, it was great connecting with you. I really genuinely enjoyed both of our conversations. I think we’ve been on for an hour and a half longer than we originally scheduled and it was a pleasure. I look forward to the next one.

Evan: Likewise, thank you so much.

Show Notes

The number 1 cause of fatigue (11:00)
How to approach and overcome mold toxicity (23:40)
Is psychological stress the biggest cause of illness? (39:13)
The best approach to overcome fatigue (43:40)
The best strategy to live life to the fullest (55:39)

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